Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yada Yada Yada

by Caren Crane

"Talk, talk, talk, talk, all you do to me is talk, talk." Okay, not exactly immortal words from the English New Wave band Talk Talk, but they have a point.

In publishing these days, there is a push for more dialogue, less description and introspection. One well-known author I know says if you're character can think it, s/he can say it. Well, maybe, but why would I want them to? Maybe I'm simply contrary, but I don't enjoy page after page of dialogue.

I tend to think of loads of dialogue kind of like George did in the Seinfeld episode with the "Yada Yada Yada" girl George dated. George figured out she was leaving out some significant details when she used the phrase "yada yada yada". But when he probed and she told him all the details she had left out, it was WAY more than he wanted to know. Sometimes I feel that way with dialogue-heavy books. TMI (too much information)!

As a reader, I like breaks. I like characters to reflect on what they think, how they feel and - shocker! - what they might do next. On the other hand, I don't enjoy endless blocks of exposition with no dialogue, either. I prefer a balance of the two. But I think it's more than simple preference. It seems to be a function of an author's voice and what works for them and the stories they tell.

Some authors, like MaryJanice Davidson, have a voice that comes out in dialogue. I would know her voice (or maybe Betsy the Vampire Queen's from her "Undead" series) anywhere. Her strength is dialogue and she uses plenty of it. Then again, the Undead books are first person narratives, so even when Betsy is thinking about something, the voice is there.

One of my all-time favorite authors, however, is Harlan Coben. Coben's strength lies in the narrative of his novels. The dialogue is effective, it just isn't the main thing. Coben's narrative voice is strong, compelling and distinctive. I love that voice and would recognize it anywhere. Interestingly, these are also first person narratives - but the narrative is the compelling part, rather than the dialogue. Of course, his narrative is some of the funniest stuff around.

Both of these authors are New York Times bestsellers, despite having very different styles of writing. I'm fairly certain Harlan Coben's editor doesn't tell him to lose all the narrative and pack in more dialogue. Which leads me to question things I've learned in recent years about loading the story with dialogue for dialogue's sake. Should I worry about making my books more dialogue driven when my strength lies in my narrative voice (as I've been told)? The part that loves MaryJanice says "yes". But the big part, the Harlan Coben fan girl, says, "Heck no, girlfriend!" Maybe I should leave well enough alone and let my narrative speak for itself.

What do you think? Is more dialogue in a book better or does it depend on the author? Are you tired of all the yada, yada, yada in books or do you crave more? Please dish!

Friday, May 30, 2008


by Jeanne Adams

It's time for a LAUNCH PARTY!!! Everybody grab your hats and streamers. The countdown to Sunday, June 1, begins....five, four, three, two, ONE!

BLAST OFFFFFFFFF! My first, debut novel, Dark and Dangerous, has reached bookstore shelves - it's been sighted in Kentucky already! - and will be out everywhere, June 1, 2008.

Of course, like any office party, I have to give the obigatory speech. Tap the water glasses with a knife so everyone quiets down. Get the microphone. Okay. Here is is. Party Speech.

You know, its the one that begins with:

"Wow. It's been a wild journey. When this book was young, merely an infant idea, it won the Dixie First Chapter contest. The editor, from Harlequin, requested it. Before I could finish it, the editor left on maternity leave....."

(Note: it's a good idea to have an idea how the book is going to end if you're entering it in contests. Oh, and to have more than 50 pages of it written.)

Oh, and the speech has to have that part in it that's really inspirational, and mentions your team, your friends, your coaches...

"But finish it I did. It labored unappreciated in a LOT of contests. A LOT. Really. Then a friend dared me to really dig into it, really apply all that I'd learned at National and in online courses and really polish the darn thing. Hmmmm. I can never resist a dare. She also dared me to enter it in the Golden Heart."

Then, in the middle of the speech, you have to have a black moment, where there's a bit of despair, the thought of giving up...

"I wasn't sure I could finish it. But I did. It took another nudge from my friend, but I sent it in to RWA. I never thought it would do anything. I had become quite jaded about the contest circuit, I must say."

Then a milestone! A success!

"So, when in the midst of a plotting session with several authors, held at my house, I received a phone call from a stranger saying I'd finaled in the Golden Heart? Ummmm, are you sure you mean...Me? With what? Really?"

You could have knocked me over with Brad Pitt and a gun....oh, sorry, just HAD to put that pic in there. Feather, yeah, Brad Pitt and a feather...or just Brad.

Sorry. Having a moment...

Now where was I? (Quick, non-speech note about the GH - Enter if you can. Really. It's more than worth the $50 if you final. Just look what's going on in the Lair, if you don't believe me!)

But I digress...Back to the Party Speech:

"I went to conferences, I went to National. I had editor agent appointments. I wrote."

You have to wrap up the speech with a triumphant moment....

"Then, one day, I got THE CALL. You read that story last fall, so I won't repeat it today but WOW! What a life-changer."

Everything since then has been a bit of a blur, but everything came into sharp focus the day my author copies arrived. I had a BOOK. With MY name on the COVER. YIKES! Then it was reviewed by Romantic Times, and they liked it. I felt like Sally Field..."You like me, you really like me!"

LIFT YOUR GLASSES....DRINK.....End of the obligatory Party Speech. Now we can get to the FUN part...

We'll see what you and the rest of the world think as Dark and Dangerous heads out to stores and to homes, bookbags and beaches here in June. In the meantime, call over a Romance Bandit cabana boy, get a margarita or a glass of chardonnay - pick your poison, and our bartender will serve it up.

It's time to PARTY!!!!

What's your celebration this month? Got a birthday? Anniversary? Escape to the beach? I need to know too, what you're drinking today in celebration? Margarita? Jack and Coke? What's your favorite party libation? Oh, and would you do a body shot with Nick Stokes or Bond, James Bond? Bwah-ha-ha!

Share the celebration with me. One lucky poster will get a Dark and Dangerous Beach Read gift, complete with a brand, spanking new copy of....drum roll guessed it, DARK AND DANGEROUS!!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

When did this happen??

by Susan Seyfarth

It has recently come to my attention that I am no longer a spring chicken.

This should not have been a shock to me. I said goodbye to my twenties some time ago. I've always known that at some point I would have to go blond & stop using the word 'dude' lest I embarrass the children. And yet age blindsided me all the same.

So what happened? Where did all those years between Young & Not Young go? When did aging get so...abrupt? Wasn't it just yesterday that waiters were requesting ID whenever I ordered anything more interesting than soda? That my sisters were killing themselves laughing every time I got offered a child's admission or kiddie menu? When did young men start calling me ma'am & offering to carry my groceries?

I honestly couldn't say. But certain recent events have forced a reckoning. I will offer them now, for your consideration:

1. I recently discovered that the inside of my left forearm is sporting a permanent set of wrinkles from all the hundreds of hours I've spent with a diapered butt on it. Let me say that again: Permanent. Wrinkles. From carrying babies. I actually felt faint when I realized these lines weren't going away within a few minutes (hours, days, I checked) of putting said child down.

2. We were in a restaurant last week & a whole herd of teenagers walked in, sporting their prom finery. They looked so fiercely young & vulnerable & proud & hopeful that I seized up my five year old & said, "Oh, look at the prom kids! Aren't they beautiful?" And then I realized that that's how I think of high schoolers now--kids. Really, really young kids, too. Because they're, like, HALF my age. HALF, people.

3. I read a book in which a fourteen year old character & his girlfriend said they preferred email to IM for love letters because they liked the old school kick of really slowing down & considering each word. They actually called email old school. Okay, I didn't get an email account until I was a senior in college. Enough said.

4. This one isn't technically mine, but it speaks to the point, so I'm using it. A friend was at a meeting & somebody asked a question which was met by total & uncomfortable silence. My friend tried to break the tension by intoning, "Anybody? Bueller?" The silence then went from tense to puzzled because nobody got the reference. He looked around & realized his colleagues were all in their early to mid twenties & had never seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off. My pop culture references are no longer current. Gah.

5. This one is the killer. Totally clinched the deal. So I was on vacation with my folks recently & at some point we washed a load of underwear and socks. At which point I discovered that my mother & I wear identical underpants. Okay, how demoralizing is that? I wear the same underwear--right down to the brand, the style, even the freakin' colors--as a woman thirty years my senior. It could be argued, I suppose, that I have a really, really hip mom. And in many respects, that's true. But we should not be wearing matching undies. I draw the line at that, and am left with this inescapable conclusion:

I'm old.


So how about you? Have you ever had a moment that changed your definition of yourself? When did you discover you'd crossed over? Become Them rather than Us? Old rather than Young? The Man rather than the Rebel? Was it a moment, a series of events, or a slow, gradual slide? Share, because I'm feeling old & alone...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We're Having A Wedding

by Suzanne Welsh

We're having a wedding in our family this month. My youngest and only son. Eric, is getting married in three days time. We love his fiance and she already feels like a part of the family. While I loved helping my daughter and son-in-law plan their wedding, and she wasn't any kind of bridzilla, I've decided being the mother of the groom truly rocks!! Way less stressful.

This is a picture of me and my hubby on the day of our wedding. Good lord, we looked so young! I'd already been a nurse for two years and thought I was so grown up at 22. I remember everyone telling me you plan on only 75% of the people you invited actually showing up for your wedding. When they opened the doors to the sanctuary it was packed to capacity! Every single person invited who lived in town showed up. I was overwhelmed by their desire to attend our wedding. Most of the day was a blurr of smiling at my husband through the ceremony and saying hello to everyone at the reception. (It was a small church, by the way.)

This is the group picture of my daughter's wedding party. It was a very relaxed wedding. She wore flowers in her hair instead of a veil, walked down the aisle to instrumental celtic music and her punk rock band, (including her spouse, brother and another groomsman) played for the reception. So when the photographer told them to go crazy, well you see what we got! By the way, everyone who attended had a heck of a good time.

I love weddings. Not just the ceremony itself, but the falling in love, getting engaged and then the wedding. Weddings symbolize a future full of hope and promise, love expanding, a new family. It all speaks to the romantic in me. Well, duh, I read and write romances!

Over the years I've seen some fabulous weddings both on TV, (Princess Di and Prince Charles) and in person, (my friends Terry and Bob). Princess Di's was the wedding that stopped the world. Doesn't everyone know where they were when they saw her go down the aisle? I do. We were at work, and all the nurses gathered in an empty room to watch the ceremony. We oohed and ahed at her arrival and going down the asile with that huge train! It was grandiose and a fairy tale come true. Even though it all fell apart, for that one moment in time, we believed in the fariy tale.

Terry and Bob's wedding, while not stopping the free world, was a testament to two people falling in love and forming a bond, despite adversity in their lives. And as their friend I couldn't have been more honored to be in the wedding. They've been married for 32 years now. A romance story come true.

So, I love books that have weddings in them. SAVING GRACE by Julie Garwood has the hero and heroine married fairly early in the book. They have yet to fall in love and the wedding is for her protection. It's not the typical wedding. She stops it several times to the frustration of her husband-to-be, his clans (he has two), and the priest. But when she hears the hero's name is Gabriel, the protector of women and children, she stops her stalling. What a great wedding!

So tell me, what's your favorite wedding from a book or movie? Was there something unique or fun about your wedding?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Terri Brisbin's Prizes

by Anna Sugden

Thank you all for making Terri's visit to the Lair so much fun. Sadly, there wasn't room in Terri's case to take all you eager travelling companions. But, she was so impressed by all your reasons, bribes and general grovelling that she is giving away some extra goodies.

First, the winner of the big prize pack is ...

Honourable mentions - and a small goody - go to:Gillian Layne
Gannon Carr
and Deb Marlowe (for a valiant effort which incorprated the magic words 'Gerard Butler'!)

Please send your snail mail address to Terri at Terribrisbin dot com.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Back to High School

by Donna MacMeans

This weekend I went back to high school -- well, not MY high school. My husband and I drove to Cleveland to see my nephew's graduation. He attended Twinsburg High School which is located in the town famous for their twins days festival. Out of his graduating class of 318, we counted 16 sets of possible twins. I'm not sure one can attend that high school without the sense that you're always seeing double.

No where is the sense of accomplishment and optimism for the future stronger than at a high school graduation. The intensity practically sizzled. As we waited through the roll call of seniors anticipating futures as neurosurgeons, microbiologists, and video game designers, I found it difficult not to reflect on my own graduation (mumble-mumble) years ago. Had you asked me way back then what my future held, I would have guessed I'd be an English teacher. I certainly never anticipated making a career out of Accounting, nor did I envision being a published author. Life has a funny way of changing those courses we thought we had planned so carefully.

Last weekend wasn't the first time in May that I was lost in that particular reflection. Earlier in the week I was invited to return to Greenhills to address the library in that community. This was the closest I could come to returning to my high school, Greenhills High School - home of the Pioneers. You see, my alma mater no longer exists. The building that housed the high school is now a middle school of a different name. A high school in an adjacent community services the area previously assigned to my old school.

So I went to the library which was set in a small shop in an old strip mall. The library wasn't there either back in my day. In spite of the rain, a few people actually came to here me speak (Shock!) One of them was an old classmate of mine. (Greater Shock!) You know the song from Saving Jane with the lyrics "She's Miss America and I'm just the girl next door"? Leanne was always the one nominated for Homecoming Court and eventually, Homecoming queen, for all the years I attended school. We knew each other, but we'd never would have be considered close friends. I regret that now as it seems we have more in common than high school. I never knew her plans for after graduation but I suspect they took a different path.

My plan was to post my high school picture up on the blog, but it appears my yearbook has gone the way of my high school. I can find the year books for my kids, my husband and my father (1938) - but not mine! It's a real bummer. I thought the photo album I inherited would have at least one graduation photo...nada. You might have noticed, however, some other banditas offered their high school pictures.

So do you have a high school experience you'd like to share? Did life travel along the path you had envisioned back then? Can you identify the banditas in the photographs? Do you know where your high school yearbook is? (Are you sure?)

A signed copy of THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY goes to the person with the best high school story. Can't wait to hear them.

Pro Patria Mea

by Nancy

The title of this blog means "for my country" in Latin. I chose it because today is Memorial Day in the United States, a holiday for most of its people. Amid the sales and cookouts and vacation trips, the true reason for the day often receives comparatively little attention. This is the day to honor those who've served our country, some of them by sacrificing their lives. For men and women in the uniforms of their respective nations around the world, today is not a holiday.

As the daughter of two veterans, both of them gone now, I wanted to honor all members of the armed services, regardless of nation, today. My parents met in the navy. My mother was a disbursing officer, and my father was a hospitalman chief at the naval hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. As a disbursing officer, my mother required armed guards on payroll day because the sailors were paid in cash. The guards had to drive her into Memphis to pick up the payroll and escort her around the base as she disbursed it. She and my father met when he drew guard duty. Not until he was dying did it occur to me to ask her how a lieutenant (junior grade) and a chief petty officer could date without running into trouble. With a shrug, she answered, "It was a small base, and everybody knew everybody."

My father grew up in the Phillippine Islands, where he and two of his brothers, Robert and John, joined the navy in 1941. Stationed on the fortress island of Corregidor, which fell to the Japanese in May 1942, they became prisoners of war. Daddy was held in Manila for a while but spent his 21st birthday on a hell ship bound for Japan, where he remained until the war ended. Because there was no anesthetic for prisoners, he underwent an appendectomy without it. At least John and Robert were held in the same camp toward the end, and they were liberated together. Only when they reached the naval hospital in San Diego did they learn that their mother had been killed in the bombardment when the Allies took back Manila.

Daddy claimed no one told him his status as a former POW made him exempt from service at the front when the Korean War rolled around, so he shipped out as a hospital corpsman attached to a unit of marines. He lost his watch going over the side of the ship for the Inchon landing (pictured at left). While driving an ambulance to the front later, he sustained shrapnel wounds in his hand but made several more trips before receiving medical attention, conduct that earned him the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. He was eligible for the Bronze Star as a result of the Corregidor siege, but he never claimed it. When I asked him why, he said General MacArthur ordered them for all the men he left behind to be captured when the navy took him off in a PT boat, and Daddy felt it didn't mean much when awarded en masse that way.

His military service ended after he contracted tuberculosis in Korea and underwent a partial thoracotomy, the recommended treatment at the time. Medically retired from the service as a result, he spent 18 months in a VA hospital, where he took up leather working and started collecting coins. The leather working fell by the wayside, but he collected coins for the rest of his life. He filled a jar for each of his grandchildren with coins minted in the year of that child's birth. Thanks to the G. I. Bill, he was able to earn a college degree. Twenty-one years later, I graduated from the same college.

My mom joined the navy (WAVES ~ Women Accepted for Volunteeer Emergency Service) in 1944. Her twin brother was in the army, stationed in England, and I suspect she wanted to do something for the war effort, too. She started as an ensign after supply school, became a lieutenant (junior grade) and had been awarded promotion, but not actually promoted, to full lieutenant when she resigned her commission to marry Daddy.

They started their married life at Camp Lejeune, which was then known to the residents as "Swamp Lejeune." Their military service was such an important influence on their lives that we sang the navy hymn, "Eternal Father Strong to Save," as the concluding piece at each of their funerals. The minister at both was a navy veteran and former chaplain.

Daddy died in 2000 and Mom in 2005, but they commemmorated every Veterans Day and every Memorial Day during the 52 years they were married. My parents and my uncles were, obviously, among the lucky ones who survived the war. As we all know, many men and women died. As an elderly RAF veteran told a television interviewer about his comrades in the Battle of Britain, "They gave all their tomorrows for your today." On this particular one of my todays, I salute all of those veterans and everyone who came after them.

Today, the banditas honor the following veterans and active service members :

Thomas V. Northcott, HMCUSN (ret.) - World War II
(Pacific Theater;Corregidor, POW) and Korea
Eleanor Jackson Northcott, Lt.(j.g.)USNR - World War II, stateside
John F. Northcott and Robert Northcott, U. S. Navy - World War II

(Pacific Theater; Corregidor, POWs)
Edward W. Jackson, U. S. Army - World War II, European Theater

James Ramirez, U. S. Army 1987-1991

Cpl. Laurence Burgoon, U. S. Army 101st Airborne, World War II (European Theater; D-Day, Operation Market Garden, Battle of the Bulge, POW)

Currently serving in the U.S. Army 103rd Airborne, my two nephews: Lt. Thomas Lutz and (overseas) Daniel McGinnis. My brother, Major General Dennis Lutz in the Army Reserves, my brother Michael Lutz (Vietnam Signal Corp) and my father Sgt. Ralph E. Lutz (deceased) - WWII (European Theater, D-Day, Battle of the Bulge)

Supply Sgt. Charles Kayse, U.S. Army, World War II, Philippines.
Sgt. Chad Chapman, Louisiana National Guard, U.S. Army, Operation Iraqi Freedom

Sergeant First Class Benjamin Lewis, U.S. Army, World War II, Guadalcanal


My grandfather, Lt. Colonial William Ready, WWII 413th Sqdn, 96th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. Medals: The Silver Star, Distinguished Flight Cross, & Air Medals. He flew 18 combat missions, had 170 combat hours flying B-17s as pilot on missions, 13 in Group Lead or Combat Grp Lead position. Remained on active duty through Korean War

My father, Maj James Kelley, US Air Force, Ret. Served stateside during WWII. War ended just as his combat group was called to Europe.

My oldest brother, Capt. Jerrold Kelley, US Army Helicopter pilot, Vietnam. He was transferred to Vietnam as pilot of a gun ship, also flew into Nam to rescue injured soldiers, & later flew higher rank officers to view the battle sites. Awarded the Purple Heart and 2 Bronze Stars with valor, and 2 Distinguished Flight Crosses with valor,

Another brother, Chief Warrant Officer John Kelley, US Army did not serve during war time.

And two nephews, James and David Kelley, Army Reserves served in Kuiwat and Iraq

I also had a great-great uncle who was award the Medal of Honor. His heroic action resulted in the capture of 36 German soldiers and the seizure of the strongpoint.


I'd like to honor the following stalwart Veterans:
My father, Corporal, Surgical Tech, US Army, James H. Pickering, WWII, European Theatre
My Uncle, James A. McDowell, US Army, WWII, European Theatre (deceased)
My Father-in-law, Pharmacists Mate, O. William Adams, US Navy WWII, Pacific Theatre (deceased)
My Uncle-in-law, Victor W. Adams, US Army, Meterorologist, WWII, (Various) (deceased)
My Uncle-in-law, Ralph Dowling, US Army, WWII, Pacific Theatre
My friend, Alex W. Poe, USMC, Vietnam
As well as ancestors serving in WWI, War of 1812, Civil War, French and Indian Wars, and the American Revolution.

Anna S:

I'd like to honour all the British troops, past and present, living and deceased, who have done so much in so many conflicts. We're very proud of you. A special tribute to my father-in-law, Fred G Sugden - RAF - WWII and to my brother-in-law Steve currently serving in the RAF.

YouTube abounds with tribute to the services, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. Is there a service member you'd like to honor or a tale of heroism you'd like to share? What's your favorite book or movie with military characters?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

This week's winners!

We're at the end of Week 3 of our month-long anniversary celebration, so you know what that means. Prizes!

Our first big prize consists of a $15 gift card to Borders and Godiva chocolates donated by Suzanne Welsh; a Romance Bandits bear donated by Anna Sugden; and signed copies of Double Dare and Does She Dare donated by Tawny Weber.

And the winner is...


The weekly giveaway of a critique of a first chapter (not to exceed 30, double-spaced pages) courtesy of Trish Milburn (also includes a mug that says "Caution: Writer at Work") goes to...


E-mail me at trishmilburn AT yahoo DOT com with your full names and mailing addresses, and we'll get your prizes to you.

The Idea Tree

By Kate

One question all writers seem to dread is … Where do you get your ideas?

I can hear the groans now, along with some smart-alecky answer that might go something like this …

- If I told you where I get my ideas, I’d have to kill you.

- I pluck them off the Idea Tree.

- Do you think I’m going to tell you where I get my ideas so you can go steal them?

- I pick up my ideas at Wal-Mart in the plastic receptacles aisle, bottom shelf on the right.

And so on.

And yet, it’s a perfectly reasonable question, don’t you think? Especially given that it’s usually asked by someone who admires the writer and seriously wants some insight into her creative process.

So … where DO you get your ideas?

For some reason, my best ideas hit me when I’m washing dishes. You’d think I’d wash dishes more often.

Some of our banditas have found inspiration while traveling in different countries or studying different eras.

Sometimes an idea might spring to life in the strangest moments, in an old bookstore, or staring at the ocean, or from handling an elegant, antique weapon or touching the lace on your grandmother’s wedding dress.

But if the ideas aren’t flowing, what do you do? Can you afford to wait for the muse to finish doing her nails? Can you jump on the next plane to Ireland? Or do you just start washing dishes?

Some writers believe in affirmations and I agree, they are often helpful and uplifting. I have a friend who repeats every morning, I am a fabulous writer with amazing ideas! It works for her. She is a fabulous writer and she does come up with amazing ideas.

Me? I find the words of Jack London comforting. He said that you can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

I must confess, I'm too old to sit around waiting for some recalcitrant muse to show up and spew forth brilliance. I believe in chasing ideas down with a club if I have to.

So naturally, I'm wondering. Writers, where do you get your ideas? (Come on, you knew it was coming!) And readers, is there one author out there who you’d love to ask that question of? I think I would choose Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Her books are fabulous, heartwarming and so darn funny, and her characters and plots are delightful. They always leave me wondering … where did she get that idea?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mistress of Marketing

by KJ Howe

Are you ready to get answers to pressing questions about marketing novels? We're fortunate today to have guest blogger Kimber Chin, the mistress of marketing, a fabulous writer who was invaluable in my quest for the American Title last year. She's here today to share a few secrets and answer your burning questions about the business of marketing fiction. Welcome Kimber!!!

When KJ Howe asked if I would like to talk about marketing on Romance Bandits, my first impulse was "Oh my good lord, what am I going to share with the Banditas about book marketing?"

Breach Of Trust is my very first novel. I'm no NYT Bestseller. Jeepers, I haven't even sold a book.

But I said yes. Why? Because that is the first rule of shameless marketers. We never turn down opportunities. As Anne, my heroine in Breach Of Trust, says "No guts, no glory."

(Okay, I may know a thing or two about marketing other products having spent a couple decades… I mean years, yes, that's it, it can't be as long as decades… in new business development, launching products for Fortune 500 companies.)

The biggest hurdle an author has to leap over without landing flat on her face is the realization that she has a product worth marketing. You do. Discussion done. Your publisher bought your novel because he/she thinks it will add value to the world. Yes, your romance novel. It is up to you to give readers an opportunity to benefit from that value.

And it is not only your novel any more. It belongs to a whole team of people. Who is on that team? Your publisher, editor, line editor, cover artist, test readers, critique group, bookstores, advertising partners, the list goes on and on. They all had a role in getting your book to the selling stage and they are all depending on you to help sell it. If it helps you, focus on the other person's part. I know one very shy author who tells everyone "Buy my book. The gorgeous cover alone is worth the price." That technique works for her.

As for actual marketing tactics, the biggest is repetition. Your prospective reader has to see your book title or pen name 8 to 13 times (or impressions) before it even registers with them. You want them to buy? Triple that number (at least). Yep, you'll get sick of your message long before your target ever does.

How to bump up impressions? Attach your pen name and book title to the bottom of every email. Have a signature with the same information on chats and include that signature to every message. Use your pen name when commenting on blogs (you'd be surprised how many authors don't do this).

Another marketing "trick" is to look for permanent promotion. Most blog posts are permanent. They will exist on the internet forever. A paid banner ad is temporary. If you have a choice between the two, always pick the permanent promotion. If the paid banner ad comes with a blog post, write the blog post. 20 years from now, that blog post will continue to draw new readers. The banner ad will be long gone.

On the topic of blogging, I love blogs. Why? Because the constantly updated content gives readers a reason to come back. If I have a good blog, I only have to find my reader once through advertising. I don't have to find her each time I release a new novel. I'll know exactly where she is, visiting my blog.

There are so many other tactics like owning a key phrase (I own 'business romance', search on Google and I should be number one), becoming an expert in a niche (KJ Howe knows her firearms), and matching marketing to format (advertising eBooks on the internet and print books in print, etc), but since this isn't Kimber Chin week at Romance Bandits, I'll leave you with these biggies.

What are your favorite marketing tactics?

Thanks, Kimber, for stopping by the Bandits today and sharing all your hard-earned knowledge. Your marketing savvy is a skill all writers would love to have!

If you'd like to learn more about Kimber Chin including information about her first novel Breach Of Trust (a sexy tale of love and business startups) please visit

Winner of Beth Pattillo's book

Those of you who guessed that Beth's lie was #3, that she doesn't miss an episode of Desperate Housewives, got it right. Like me, she's a die-hard Buffy fan. The Gauntlet is an MTV program, one I'd not heard of, thus my being stumped.

The winner of an autographed copy of The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society is Dianna (aka hrdwrkdmom). E-mail me at trishmilburn AT yahoo DOT com with your full name and mailing info, and I'll pass it on to Beth.

Beth Pattillo talks small towns, knitting, and London

Due to scheduling conflicts, Bandita Donna was kind enough to offer up her normal blog day today so author Beth Pattillo could be with us before she jets off across the pond to England. Beth is not only a RITA-winning author, she’s also one of my oldest writing friends (oldest as in I’ve known her for several years, not her actual age). There we are on the left, in Dallas in 2004 after I won my first Golden Heart. She’s been a critique partner extraordinaire, a fun conference roomie, a wonderful supporter, and frequent opponent for Scrabbulous on Facebook, at which she routinely kicks my butt (Trish hangs head in shame). Beth and I have been friends since we became charter members of our local RWA chapter, Music City Romance Writers.

Trish: Your new book, The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, was just released this week. How does the release of this book compare to the release of your previous novels?

Beth: It’s been two years since I had a novel released in the general book market, and I have to say that I’ve missed that! This book is also my first women’s fiction novel, so I’m nervous about how it will be received. I hope that readers will enjoy reading about all six members of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society.

Trish: How did this story come about? What attracted you to it?

Beth: I was inspired by the knitting group at my church, a very diverse collection of women from young teenagers to retirees. I loved the way that knitting bonded us, despite our age differences. I’ve also been wanting to do a book about a book club but needed a fresh angle. So combining the two served a double purpose.

Trish: You write for Waterbrook Press, an inspirational publisher. What makes Sweetgum an inspirational story?

Beth: I think the inspirational elements in the book are pretty subtle, but at heart, the book is about how women can find unexpected strength within a circle of friends.

Trish: What is your favorite part of writing? Your least favorite?

Beth: My favorite part of writing is when I get so caught up in what I’m doing that I lose all sense of time passing. I also enjoy the times when I read something I’ve written and realize that I achieved what I set out to do. My least favorite part of writing is getting started. I use all sorts of tricks to get my fingers to the keyboard each day.

Trish: You said at your book launch party that Sweetgum, the small town in your novel, is partially based on the two small towns where family members lived. What are some of the aspects of these small towns that you incorporated into your fictional Sweetgum, and how did you decide on those?

Beth: I’m a sucker for an old-fashioned town square. They make small town life feel so centered. As a child, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ home in Sweetwater, Texas. So some of my locations -- like Munden’s Five and Dime -- come from those experiences.

My grandfather was from Waynesboro, Tennessee. I’ve used some elements of that town, too, in creating Sweetgum in my imagination and on the page. For one thing, I had some of the best chicken fried chicken livers I’ve eaten in my entire life when I was visiting Waynesboro! That memory inspired Tallulah’s CafĂ© in the book.

Trish: I know you’re about to embark on a trip to London. What are some of the things you’re looking forward to seeing during this trip? And if a person had only one day in London, what sights should they not miss?

Beth: I’m going to London to do research for a novel related to Jane Austen, so we’ll be taking a day trip to Hampshire to visit some of the important places in her life and the Jane Austen House at Chawton. I’ve also booked a walking tour in London to see some of the relevant locations there. My husband and I are bringing the kids along on this trip, so we have lots of fun things planned for them -- the Tower of London, the London Eye, the London Duck Tour (in an amphibious vehicle from WWII), and, of course, lots of shopping!

If I had only one day to spend in London, I’d take one of the open-air, double-decker bus tours. Then I’d hang out at the National Gallery, troll the bookstores along Charing Cross, and finish off at a play or musical in the West End.

Trish: What are you working on now?

Beth: Currently, I’m finishing the sequel to The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society. It’s tentatively titled The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love, and it should be out in May 2009. It’s a real treat to be able to continue to tell these characters’ stories.

Trish: You won the prestigious RITA Award for your novel Heavens to Betsy. Where is your RITA now? Do you just stare at it for inspiration? :)

Beth: My RITA sits on the mantelpiece in the study, along with my grandmother’s china dolls and her set of McGuffey Readers. I don’t know that I look to RITA for inspiration so much as a reminder that perseverance is the name of the writing game. And also a reminder that dreams can come true! (And Beth has been known to kiss her RITA, the proof of which I captured to the right.)

Q. Recently, we played the Two Truths and a Lie game here at Romance Bandits, so we’re going to extend the fun to you. So, tell us two truths about yourself and make up one lie, and we’ll see if our readers can figure out which is the lie.

A. Two truths and a lie, hmmm? Well, let’s see.

1. I’m addicted to MTV’s The Gauntlet.
2. I adore Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
3. I wouldn’t miss an episode of Desperate Housewives.

Beth will donate an autographed copy of The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society (trust me, you want to win this) to one poster who guesses her lie correctly. And for the record, I had to ask her which was the lie and I KNOW her. I knew one of the truths, but I was stumped on the other.

So, how about you all -- do you like small towns? If so, what do you like best? If you’re a writer, what do you like most about the writing process? Least? And if you had one day in London, what would you go see first?