Friday, July 25, 2014

Plot Bunnies

Plot bunnies.  What are they?  They're small ideas that can turn into wonderful plots.  They roam around my head a lot, and some day, I hope to get them all down on paper and into a book.

I have this wonderful friend who calls me a lot.  She's an author, too, and fantastic at plotting.  I think she's the queen of plot bunnies, and her plots are outstanding!

So I tell her my daily adventures and she comes up with a plot.  Sometimes, it's the plot for the first of a series and she gives me the REST of the plots for the whole series within minutes.  Sometimes, though, it's a standalone book.

The thing is, my daily adventures are getting stranger and stranger.  My 'day job' is to watch our Boston terriers and deal with our three children (all over 18, but they'll always be our children).  The youngest two are in college and the oldest one just graduated from college last December.

So since my 'day job' requires me to take these two handful dogs for walks every day, I get out of the house for 20 minutes a day, at least.  Some days, I have to run errands (like all summer long) but at least 20 minutes of my day is spent walking the sidewalks of our neighborhood.

The other day, I had an interesting thing happen.  I had my earphones in my ears, listening to the radio while walking.  I looked up ahead and a well-dressed older man was pacing on the sidewalk at the end of that street.  Weird enough.  But I ignored him because some other guy was walking on the sidewalk across the street.  The dogs wanted to meet that guy (they want to meet everyone and give them kisses and I'm worried that if I ever get mugged, they'd thank the guy with kisses before being good watch dogs).  After I dealt with the 'across-the-street' guy and the dogs, I looked back up ahead, and the well-dressed guy was gone.  Weird but not too abnormal.

I walked closer to the house on the corner, where the well-dressed man had been pacing.  When I got to the next house down from that corner house, I could've sworn I heard a woman screaming inside that house.  I did have earphones in my ears, but the music wasn't loud.  Another man was in the driveway, leaning on the front of his truck.  He was much older and looked like he was ready to collapse at any time.  The noise might've been from him, so I took one earphone out.  Another scream. I watched the man at the truck.  It wasn't him.  He ignored the scream and me, and kept leaning over the front of the truck.

I kept walking past that man.  I turned the corner of the house with the dogs in the lead and there was the well-dressed man, pacing on the other side of the house.  He greeted the dogs and they instantly wanted to be his friend (see?  Not watch dogs at all!) and then said they probably weren't used to someone in their path.  I agreed, and ALMOST said, 'neither am I and why is that woman screaming inside the house' but didn't want to be his next victim, if the woman was in pain or being killed.

I kept walking and the two men left me alone.

I kept thinking about this the whole morning.  I talked to my plotting friend and she came up with a 'plot bunny' that's been worming its way through my brain all week long.  She even told me more she came up with yesterday morning.

Now, here's your job.  What would YOU have thought if you were walking your dogs and heard screaming?  It was around eight in the morning when this happened, so the sun was shining.  The man we passed first didn't even look at the woman-screaming house, so it's possible nothing had happened at all.  But being an author, various images filled my thoughts.  What would you have thought and done?

Have a great week!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Spruce Up Your Life...and Your Manuscript

So my mother-in-law is coming to visit at the end of July.  I'm not a 'visitor' type of person.  But I have to endure a visit from her and my sister-in-law.  Their goal is just to come to our house and talk.  Um...that's what phones are for.  Even Skype will work for that.

No, they're old-fashioned and have to fly here from the Southeast to WI.  To talk.  ::shaking my head::

Anyway, our house isn't exactly 'prim and proper.'  Early attic is a closer description, and basic junkyard is even more accurate.  I'm not kidding.  Thanks to kids and many, many pets, our house is in pretty bad shape.  The couches are falling apart, the carpet is stained, and we need to do lots of work on the place.  The cash isn't quite there for this (nonexistent is more like it), since we have two kids left in college.  But Grandma is coming and we have to at least give the impression that we DO care about our house.

Thus, the two college kids who couldn't get jobs for the summer have been helping me.  We clean the house every day, to get out the permanent grime (and it's working) and have been working on various flowerbeds that have been neglected for all 10+ years we've lived here.

Here are two of the flowerbeds (it was raining the day I took these pics, so imagine sunshine):

This is the flowerbed that I'd ignored for 10+ years.  The weeds were over four feet tall.  I had to pull the weeds, use the unused rototiller on it (AFTER I got the thing started which took two days), and then add peat moss and top soil around the plants. Next year, the rhododendron (the three big green plants in the back and side) will be flowering purple.

This is a flower bed on the other side of the house from the first, that I only would weed once a year.  Miserable thing.  The people who built the house put down thick landscaping cloth with tons of rocks on top.  The weeds STILL came through.  So everything planted here had to have the rocks moved, then the cloth cut with an Exact-o knife, and finally I could plant.  And yes, more rhododendron.  I also have wormwood (the small silvery plant in the front) in both of these flowerbeds, hoping they'll take over and I can ignore the flowerbeds again.  LOL!

Finally, since Grandma wants to 'talk' (I still can't figure that one out...can you tell?) I figured we'd give her a place to 'talk' outside so I can escape.  My middle kid, the shopper, and I went to Walmart and bought some half-priced and discounted items from their garden section.  Our latest purchase was a love seat and two chairs, with cushions, for the completely neglected front porch.  Only the wildlife had been using it for the past 10 years.  We also got two very cheap tables and some brown flowerpots (the youngest kid decorated them with stencils for me) for between the three pieces of furniture.

This is the front porch on the day when it had just started to rain.  Two chairs covered with cushions are on either end, with tables and plants next, and then the love seat covered with cushions in the middle.

The house looks amazing and inviting, compared to what it DID look like.  Just a few flowers and some cheap furniture, and the place has been transformed.  People will now feel welcomed into my house.

What does this have to do with a manuscript?  Plenty!  First, if your cover is generic or looks like every other cover, it's not going to sell.  It has to be inviting, to make your reader want to open the front to see what's inside, just like my front porch.  It's begging people to come to visit (even though I'm nothing like that and really don't like visitors, but that's a secret).

Next, if your manuscript doesn't have 'creative appeal,' the readers won't be 'wowed.'  What does that mean?  It means your readers are looking for something to make them want to read.  Call it flirtiness, quirkiness, welcoming, or just eccentric, the creative thought behind it makes them want to turn that page.  Just like our home that lacked in hominess and has been transformed, your manuscript can take the extra plunge and add more creativity.  Your readers will enjoy reading and will tell others.  Don't just settle for what everyone else does in their books, but crank it up a notch.  And for that extra something, make them feel welcome and at home in your book, so they, too, will want to 'talk'...about your book, even if it's at someone else's house.  (Can you tell I'm still confused about my mother-in-law wanting to fly a few hours out here to 'talk'?)

Anyway, here's an example.  Which would you read?

Evelyn is a librarian who meets the man of her dreams.

Evelyn, a librarian, meets the man of her dreams when he rappels from the top of the six story library to give her a message in a bottle.  It can only be opened the next day at noon.

Same story, more creativity in the second one.  It has that patio furniture to give it 'character.'

So spruce up your life and your manuscript.  And for an extra tip, check out the deals at Walmart right might give you inspiration for more ideas or make you want to 'talk.'  LOL!

Have a super week!

Friday, July 11, 2014

DRM Not Necessary

A friend of mine shared some information with me last week.  For years, I've been publishing e-books but never add on the DRM.

**  Note:  DRM is 'digital rights management' so a reader can't steal your work.  It's a method to make sure you can't copy the e-book, an extra security measure.

I was told by another friend of mine, when I first started publishing books that DRM will add storage space to a book.  Readers don't like their space sucked up by one book, but would rather have more than one book on their Kindle or Nook.  So I didn't include it.

Now I'm finding out more and I'm SO happy I didn't include it.  Here's why:

And there are more reasons, too, listed all over the Internet.

So when you think you're protecting yourself, you may be hurting sales by including DRM.

Have a great week!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Short Stories!

Do you like reading short stories on your vacations?  If so, have I got a great page for you to visit, especially for today, the Fourth of July!

I've put a few of my older short stories on my SweetTale Books page (under bookshelves, and short stories, or here:  I'll be adding to the list, but for right now, I have a few from Eryn Grace (Christian romances) and some from Markee Anderson (sweet romances).

Stay tuned. I'll be adding more!

Have a super week and keep on reading!
Markee and crew

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Newsletter

Happy July!

Happy Birthday, America! I just love July. It's beautiful outside, the birds are singing, and life is good. With all the celebrations for the Fourth and the abundance of watermelon in the stores, I'm one happy camper. LOL!

How about you? What do you do special for the Fourth? If you're not in the U.S., what celebrations are there for you in July? Email me at and let me know.

Have a happy and safe July!
SweetTale Books

Many Blogs:

I've been blogging a lot lately.  If you'd like to visit some blogs of mine, check out:
And another one I'd highly recommend, about life and ideas (not mine):

Stop on by to one of these.  I'd love to see you at mine and you can join me in reading the last one!

Too Funny!

So I put two of my Eryn Grace books out in paperback.  I sent 'A Heapin' Helping of Three Cross Faith' to my mother, in PA.  She hadn't read any of my books, because she doesn't have a computer (yeah, those types still exist, but she's in her 80s, so that's understandable).  She got the book on a Monday and said to herself she'd read one chapter.  She called me two hours later after my cousin interrupted her reading and said she was halfway through the book.  She liked it!  Wow.  She never likes anything.  LOL!  She finished the book that night.  But she was impressed that the author (me) had her recipe for raspberry upside down cake...and then remembered I wrote the book and of course I'd have it.  She was so engrossed in the book, she forgot who had written it.  HAHAHAHAH!  That's my mom!  But it made my day.  :)

Have a wonderful month!
SweetTale Books