Monday, December 28, 2009

GIFTS AND AN ON-LINE BOOK

Giving presents is one of the best parts of Christmas for me. I usually start early thinking about each person I want to gift on my list of family and friends. Since my parents and sister live in Ohio, I know I need to have them finished first so I can mail their gifts off right after Thanksgiving.

It's great fun to find unique gifts for my parents that they wouldn't think to buy themselves. One year my husband brought home a Leatherman tool for my dad. It's one of those ten tools in one thingys guys love. Well, Daddy has always carried a majorly big pocket knife for as long as I can remember, but this was cool because it had a screw driver and pliers in it, too. So I wrapped it still in its package so the present was odd shaped with lumps. Mom said she kept walking past the living room and there was Daddy holding the present, feeling the lumps and saying, "I wonder what they got me." When Christmas Eve rolled around and he finally got to open it, she said he looked like a kid who just got the key to the toy store. And even though I wasn't there, it still makes me smile to know he got such joy out of that gift! This year he got an electric wine bottle opener. He said, "I've got a bottle of wine to use it on tomorrow, as soon as I figure out the instructions." And I heard the smile in his voice.


Every year one of my gifts is a tray of baked goods for my co-workers. They always enjoy every cookie I make, but one item stands out in their minds for the next year. I always make Buckeye candy, known simply as Buckeyes. Peanut butter balls dipped in dark chocolate to resemble the Buckeye nut that grows in my home state of Ohio. These things are addictive and probably have 1/4 or your daily calorie intake, so I ONLY make them at Christmas. One batch=9 dozen. Every year, right after Thanksgiving, the girls at work start asking, "Are you making Buckeye this year?" How could I say no?

My kids are easy to buy for, not because I know them so well, but because they make me detailed lists, complete with pictures, sizes and where to buy them. The lists are rather large, because they send them to each other as well. While they truly want everything on the list, they don't expect to get everything. According to my daughter, "If people get me something on the list, it will be what I want, but I won't know what it is until I open it, so it's still a surprise." The added benefit for the rest of us is that we spend time talking through the holiday shopping season, calling each other to be sure everyone knows what we already bought off the list. And the girls add their children and significant others to the list, too. Now, my son's list isn't as detailed, but he does give us one and last year I gave everyone one, too.

This year my list was simple, I wanted an iPod. They went in together and that's what I got, mostly. Big Smile!!! But I also had a special gift from one of my daughters. We'd been talking about the stalemate I seem to be in with the publishing world. She caught me on the rare self-pitying days I get about the "good rejections" (isn't that an oxymoron?) that I keep getting. Those items that hack me off, but others pat me on the head and say, "It just means you're real close to selling."

Anyway, my daughter said, "Why don't you publish it on the internet?"

"Oh dear, I don't want to self publish. I want to be paid for my work. I want to be recognized for the effort. I want a book contract."

"Mom, I meant serialize it on a blog, like fan fiction. A chapter at a time, like Dickens did when he was a struggling writer."

(Now the girl had my attention.)

So after some more chat about how to format it, how to add pictures, how to market it, I asked her, "Would you format this and get it started for me as a Christmas present?"

Soooooooooo two weeks ago we launched "THE ROCKYMOUNTAIN ROMANCE SERIES" on blogspot. Here's the link: http://rockymountainromance.blogspot.com/

It's actually a series of stories I wrote a long time ago just as the market for American Historical tanked. REFUGE is the first book about a woman with a life threatening secret who becomes a mail-order bride to a man who's been burned by a woman who kept secrets from him. Every Monday we'll post the next chapter, but anyone coming to the blog, can click on the side bar to pick up the previous chapters and catch up quick!

One of the challenges has been illustrating it. We started out with color pictures, but quickly realized black and white gave it a more period feel, since it is a historical after all. But it's been fun finding pictures of who I think might make the best hero and heroine and all the secondary characters!

Why did I decide to do this after my arguments about self publishing?

1. As I said earlier the market for American Historicals is almost non-existant, but I believe there are readers out there who are craving something different in the historical romance genre. Something west of England. Something with grit and spunk.

2. Self promotion. I'm hoping my writing will draw in more readers, maybe even an edtior looking for something different to read on the net, who might like to read more and even be willing to take a chance to bring back the American Historical Romance market. Someone brave!

3. Stories are meant to be told. Once they're written, they need to be read by others. They're meant to be shared.

So, my friends, my gift to you and anyone you choose to share this with is a FREE on line book, one chapter at a time for the next year! And yes, you can feel free to comment on the blog and tell me what you think.

57 comments:

Jane said...

Hi.

Jane said...

Hi Suzanne,
Congrats on the new blogspot. I just checked it out, but haven't read the chapters yet. I like how you incorporate pics with the chapters.

Helen said...

Congrats Jane have fun with him he has has a restful day with me so he may need a bit of exercise.

Suzanne
I found your blogspot the other day and have started reading it great so far I have to find time to sit here on the PC when no one else needs to use it. I really enjoyed the pictures you have put in and I do love American historicals I used to read them all the time once but as you say there aren't many around these days. I hope to find some more time tonight or tomorrow and get back to reading it.

Thank you for a wonderful gift. As for family gifts I too ask my family to write lists and then go and try to find something on the list and I make Christmas Cakes for my friends at work as gifts.

We all had a fantastic Chrissy one of the best gifts was watching my grandchildren open their presents their faces were priceless.

Have Fun
Helen

Virginia said...

Congrats Jane on the rooster!

I check out your blogspot and bookmarked it. I read the Prologe and am very interested in reading the rest when I have time. Thanks for the wonderful gift. Headed to be right now. Its like 3 a.m. right now!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Jane, Congrats on getting the GR this morning!

Thanks for looking at the blog story. My daughter and I took a clue from what the Bandits learned early on, pictures enhance an on line blog and story mightily! I hope you get a chance to read it. I adore Laura and Nathan's story.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Helen! Hope you're having a great day.

Thanks for picking up the blog story. I assume you got it from the facebook postings I've been using to adverise it.

A challenge for me has been tightening the writing, so the story keeps moving. I think that's important on an on-line story...to generate anticipation from chapter to chapter, week to week for the readers.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Helen,

Aren't Christmas lists the greatest things? AS you can see from the sample of Lyndsey's, our family's get quite detailed. That was a necessity so our male family members could visiualize the book, top or piece of jewelry while they were shopping! :)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Virginia!

So glad you bookmarked the blog and enjoyed the Prologue. Nathan and Micha were quite a pair to wrangle in that opening! And Micha will appear later in the book, too...I have plans for that big mountain man!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh wow, an unexpected Christmas present. Nothing makes me happier than a free book in any form. I will be there every evening Suzanne.

Addison Fox said...

Suz:

What a wonderful Christmas present to all of us AND...it'll keep giving throughout the year!

I also loved your story about lists. My family and I all go the list route with each other and we darn near had a Christmas miracle in our house this year....only 2 things need to be returned!! :-)

Happy New Year!
Addison

Addison Fox said...

PS

Keep us posted on the book throughout the year!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Thanks, Diane! But you don't have to be there EVERY evening, I'll be posting a new chapter every Monday. Glad you like it so far!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Addison!

Lists are the bomb, aren't they? And they're really quite fun to make,too. Sort of lets you dream like a child again! And mega congrats on the limited returns this year! That is a near miracle.

Suzanne Welsh said...

I will keep you posted, Addison! It's a very fun experiment in PR for me and my writing. Fun to see the comments and e-mails I've been getting from people.

My friend Ouida, who lives in London now, is having a hard time waiting the week between chapter posts! hehehe

Jo Davis said...

Hey, Suz!
Good mornin' CP! Don't lists make it easier? My son gave me a detailed one, but my daughter didn't give me one at all. It made shopping for her so tough! Santa brought me the iPhone I asked for (ok, demanded!) which was the only item on my "list". :)

I LOVE your Rocky Mountain blog and your story! This is a fabulous idea and thank you so much for sharing it with us! Can't wait to read more...

Hope you and all the Bandits and readers had a super fantastic holiday!

Gillian Layne said...

Lists do help so much. I don't know how to shop for my teens without one.

Suzanne, what a treat! Thanks so much--I've added your story link to my list of favorite blogs, if that's all right.

Deb said...

Thank you, Suzanne, for such a treat!
I seem to have no imagination anymore, so I always ask for lists. Shary, my daughter, still believes in Santa, so I encourage a letter to the big guy as soon as I can...She wrote 2 letters and had different items on each one. Geesh.
Thanks again. Have a great day!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Suz -

I think your idea of serializing your work and putting it "out there" is wonderful. Funny that you should mention how this experience is making you tighten your work. In your case you are looking for hooks and cliffhangers for each chapter to keep readers panting for more. I understand now some publishers are making novels available to be read on phones. can you imagine what that does to white space? The hooks and cliffhangers also have to be in each paragraph. Yowzer!

My daughter puts out a list each Christmas. Generally she asks for books but she reads so many I need specific titles so I know she hasn't read it yet.

I asked for a necklace that I knew would be expensive, so it was the only thing I asked for...but I didn't get it. Instead, my husband got me a new Apple Pro laptop (which is more than my coveted necklace). Guess he was tired of me griping about writing on a computer without a delete key (grin).

Congratulations on having such talented daughters, Suz!

jo robertson said...

Great blog, Suz! I love your father's reaction to the lumpy gift, so precious a memory.

And what a wonderful gift for your daughter to give you.

Congrats on the ipod. I'm sure I wouldn't know what to do with one should I get it as a gift (vbg).

jo robertson said...

Ooops, forgot to say, congrats on getting the rooster, Jane.

And, Suz, congrats on the blogspot. I love your serialized story!

Cassondra said...

Woohooo Jane! Way to go on the rooster!

I'm sure he's stuffed from all the Christmas goodies...oh...wait...maybe "stuffed" is a bad metaphor for a fowl...hmmm.

Anyway, you must let us know how today goes with him up north. ;0)

Cassondra said...

Suz, congrats on your iPod. I got one for my birthday, and now nobody will ever take it from me unless they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

I lOVE my iPod. I got a cable through which I can play it in my car, and the last trip I took, I played it the whole way.

I think serializing your book on the blog is a brilliant idea. And who knows what might spring from this? You're putting your work out to the world and I think that's a wonderful gift to give, and I think those kinds of gifts always reap benefits. You're giving it not just to people, but to the universe--saying, "I'm a creative being and here is something I've created." Sometimes the benefits of this kind of giving are intangible, but I believe they are always there. I predict that some day you will consider this one of the best things you ever did for your career.

Deb said...

P.S. I forgot to add that serializing your story on your blog is like the old days when stories were serialized in the newspaper. CAPPERS WEEKLY used to do that and I remember pasting the clippings into a notebook so I could go back and read the stories later.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Jo Davis!

And iPhone, huh? I'm resisting asking for or buying myself one of those at this point. I have enough things to distract me from writing in my life right now without those addictive little personal electronic devices!! (A piece of advice here, DO NOT GET THE SCRABBLE GAME AP! I'm just saying!!)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Jo D, I forgot to say how much I agree how easier it is to shop with lists. Last year Lyndsey's even came with a cover letter...hehehe.

Thanks for stopping by today and on my story blog. Serializing the story and putting in pictures is bringing it to life for me!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Gillian!

Teens are the hardest people to buy for. When my son was learning to play guitar his list was very short. Each year it was a different kind of guitar or a video game machine. We could only afford one BIG present like that, so his pile under the tree was usually smaller than his sisters'.

Now my girls like to open lots of things, so their lists usually include lots of things under $20 each. Even for their babies, nothing was too expensive and the tree was almost engulfed this year!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Gillian said: Suzanne, what a treat! Thanks so much--I've added your story link to my list of favorite blogs, if that's all right...

OH I don't mind at all! :)

I hope you'll enjoy each and every installment.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Deb!

Good thing you got to see BOTH of Santa's letters, isn't it? As to the imagination part, while I love the simplicity of the list, sometimes it is a springboard for me and gives me an idea which direction to move in for gifts.

As for books, it's a God-send. Between my TBR pile and what the girls tell me they've read, I would have no clue what to get in the bookstore without the lists!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Donna!

Yep the tightening for hooks is hard, but forces you to keep the story tight and moving. Luckily for me, I only have one chapter at a time to make fit the e-world. iPhone stories will probably drive editors and readers alike crazy!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Donna said: I asked for a necklace that I knew would be expensive, so it was the only thing I asked for...but I didn't get it. Instead, my husband got me a new Apple Pro laptop (which is more than my coveted necklace). Guess he was tired of me griping about writing on a computer without a delete key (grin)....

Isn't it nice when our hubby's know us well enough to buy us what we really need and probably are afraid to ask for due to the expense?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey JoMama!

That's actually my daddy on the blog with his electric wine opener in his hand! I love it when he grins like that over something. Isn't it great?

Suzanne Welsh said...

Jo Mama said: Congrats on the ipod. I'm sure I wouldn't know what to do with one should I get it as a gift (vbg)....

I know I can load my rock CD's on it and listen in the wee hours of the night. Apparently I can upload games and movies, too! For now I'll stick to music to help keep me awake.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Cassondra!

I love my iPod, too! My co workers listen to rather new music...and some of it is very soft and easy on the brain...NOT GOOD for staying awake at work!! I need my hard driving rock to keep me awake when the patient's are sleeping and all I have to do is stare at a monitor strip. (It also drowns out conversations I don't want to partake in! but don't tell them!)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Cassondra said:You're giving it not just to people, but to the universe--saying, "I'm a creative being and here is something I've created."....

Never thought about it like that. I guess that's the same as my belief that stories, once written down are meant to be read by as many people as possible. That was one of my big reasons for doing this. REFUGE and RESCUE need their readers!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Deb said:CAPPERS WEEKLY used to do that and I remember pasting the clippings into a notebook so I could go back and read the stories later....

How cool! You won't need to do this for my blog book since each chapter posts on top of the one before!

Lady_Graeye said...

Hello Jane! Congrats on the new blogspot. I just had to add it to my favs. I enjoyed the pictures. I love receiving online book chapters. This is a wonderful gift, thank you!

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Suz! I love the serialized story in a blog format! It's so clean, & black & white--it's very appealing visually, & I love the way the photos help create that stark, frontier-y vibe. The story works, too. :-)

I'll be checking in to stay up to date--here's hoping the right editors/agents will do the same! Can't be long now...

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Lady Graeye!

Thanks for supporting both the Bandits and my on-line blog. We appreciate all our followers and buddies on here!

And thank you for the compliment on the characters! Laura and Nathan have existed a long time with me, like old friends. I'm glad I can introduce them to y'all.

Claudia and Micha have their own story in RESCUE, the second book in this series.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Susan!

The black and white was my daughter's idea especially since we could find old pictures of Washington. What sold me was the creepy picture of the man walking away in the long tunnel like library picture! Plus it's been fun figuring out which pictures to use to enhance each story.

I'm glad you're enjoying it!

Nancy said...

Hi, Jane--congrats on the rooster!

Suz, your new blog is gorgeous, and the story is very appealing. I like a lot of different settings and would be glad to see some others find a market niche.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Thanks Nancy!

I'd love to see some more variety in historical romances. Time periods as well. Take Joanie's Roman series. Between the ROME series on HBO and Starz SPARTACUS series coming out in January, readers are thirsting for some gladiator action! (all puns intended)

Why not some stories about the French Revolution or Russia's history?

And I certainly would love to read more of the early colonial days in America and Australia!

Barbara Monajem said...

Suzanne, I love your story! I'm going to put your blog on my google reader list so I get every chapter as soon as it's up.

Oh, and I love buckeyes, too. My daughter makes them now and then. Totally addictive...like your story. Jeez. I can't wait to see what happens next. (And the illustrations are a lot of fun.)

Kate Carlisle said...

Aw, Suz, your Daddy is so cute!! Glad he loved his present!

I think you already know I love your serial. What's not to love? You've got a mail-order bride, a creepy political murder, plus a hunky Western hero. It all adds up to one YUMMY read! The only thing I don't love about it is that I have to wait a whole week to read a new chapter. But it's always worth the wait. :-)

Congrats, Jane! Have fun with the wily wascal!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Suz,
BIG THANX for the gift of your story! I started reading it and couldn't stop. Like Kate and your other friend in England, I'm going to have a hard time waiting a whole week between chapters.

I totally agree with you about the "stories are meant read" reasoning. The DH and I have had this discussion more than once. Because he is an artist, his perspective is a bit different -- the act of creating the work is enough. Maybe with a painting or sculpture, but a story NEEDS readers. I'm glad you are putting yours out there for readers to discover.

AC

Louisa Cornell said...

Nice catch, Jane! Keep an eye on him!

My Mom makes buckeyes every year too and they are definitely ADDICTIVE, Suzanne!

I make a Christmas list for my brothers as they know I love CDs, DVDs and books, but they don't know which ones I have and which ones I want. They check with each other to make sure they don't duplicate.

My Mom was definitely surprised this year as the three of us went in together and got her a big new flat screen television. Her old television was definitely not flat screen and was over 15 years old so we thought it was time. She loved it!!

I LOVE the idea of a serialized story and I think it is a great way to build up a fan base. Can't wait to read it! And I will definitely be pimping it out to my buddies. Several of them have mentioned the fact that there are no good American set historicals.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Miss Louisa...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!

And what a wonderful gift for your Mom. I'm sure she loved it!

AC

Louisa Cornell said...

Thank you, Aunty !! Tomorrow I celebrate the 22nd anniversary of my 29th birthday! And how do I celebrate it? By standing in a freezer for two hours and doing inventory. I REALLY need to hire a better party planner!

Helen said...

Suz

I have read all the chapters now I can't wait till next Monday loving this story. I have posted a link to the blog on the ARRA group mail I am sure there will be lots looking for the story from Oz

Thanks Again
Have Fun
Helen

Nancy said...

Louisa, happy birthday! I'd bet you could talk Sven into planning your party. He's always griping about we're in and out, in and out, seldom around for a big bash unless someone has a book out.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Barbara!

Thanks for adding it to your list! I'm glad you're enjoying them so much.

Like I said in the blog, BUCKEYES are such a tradition, that my son's best friend serving over in Iraq was lamenting not being home to get any. I'd considered sending him some, but figured they'd melt before he ever got to taste any. I may break my once a year rule when he gets back home.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Aw thanks Kate! Daddy has definitely mellowed into a cute old man over the years. The kids don't believe me when I tell them how hard nosed he was when I was growing up! hehehe

And thanks for all you support with the on line book. It's a rather risky endeavor at this point.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey AC!

Glad you're enjoying, and I have to confess that the having-to-wait-a-week part of the process brings out the sadistic part of my nature, BWAHAHAHAHA!

but a story NEEDS readers. I'm glad you are putting yours out there for readers to discover....Writing stories is only the beginning of the process. Being read completes it.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Louisa! What a great Christmas present for your mom! It's nice to be able to do fun things for our parents, isn't it?

Please let your friends know...we American historical lovers must UNITE!! (Imagine fist pumped in the air!!)

Suzanne Welsh said...

LOL on the 22nd anniversary of your 29th birthday. I do that, too, so if someone REALLY needs to know how old I am, they can do the math

Suzanne Welsh said...

Helen said: I have posted a link to the blog on the ARRA group mail I am sure there will be lots looking for the story from Oz. ...

GREAT! I'd love readers from OZ!!

Virginia said...

Hi Suzanne, OK you've got me hooked. I just read all the chapters and I can't wait for more. I am loven the story. Not sure I want to wait until Monday but I guess I will have to. I think she is going to put Nathan in his place. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with us.

flchen1 said...

Oooh, SO cool, Suzanne! I'll be checking it out ASAP!!

Congrats on the GR, Jane!