Saturday, October 31, 2015

WOO HOO! I made it! 50 INDIE BOOK TITLES!

I made it, JUST under the wire for a book a month, too!  I started out this month writing a different book but got stumped.  So I went to my unpublished book pile and found this gem!

This series of books is called 'Adventures in World Peace.'  The first one, called Deadly Interpretations, introduces the reader to Harley Black, a United Nations Interpreter.  When Department of Homeland Security agent Jim Bond (no relation to 007, and don't mention it, because he's really touchy about it) shows up, Harley's life takes a dramatically different turn.

Enjoy!


Blurb:


U.N. Interpreter, Harley Black, meets her match in one DHS agent named Jim Bond.  They're hearing chatter about her and her coworker, from people ready to take over the world.  It's up to Harley to keep Jim in check while creating world peace…or die trying.


~~~~~
  

Chapter 1


Beating someone up was so much easier in slacks.  No one touched me without a reason.  

As I dug my high heel into the man's back and yanked his arms behind him, I forced his face into the dirty United Nations floor.  "Look buddy.  I'm in no mood for this today.  Get out, because I have to work."  He was lucky I didn't hurt him more. 

"Harley Black."  Even though his face was smooshed against the floor, the man managed to speak.  "If you let me stand up, I'll tell you why I'm here." 

I leaned closer so he could hear me.  "Can I trust you not to touch me again?"

"Sure."  He moaned.  "You win.  I just want to talk to you.  Honest."

Two security guards ran to the door while I let the intruder get to his feet.  "Is everything okay?" the taller guard asked.

I nodded.  "Fine.  Just letting this guy know who's boss."

"Call us if you need us," the same man said, and they both walked away. 

My victim looked down and dusted off his dark blue polo shirt and stone-colored pants.  "I have to talk to you in private."  He lifted his head.  He had big blue eyes framed by dark blond hair and strong cheekbones.  In other words, the guy was very handsome, but I wasn't about to let that change the fact that he wasn't on my good side.

I crossed my arms, watching Mr. Good-Looking, who was my eye candy for the day.  "You have two minutes," I said.  "What do you want?"

After he looked toward the long row of glass interpreter cubicles and down at the General Assembly of the United Nations, he grabbed my arm and led me to the back of the small room.  He pulled out a badge and held it up to my face, making sure I read the thing.

However, I wasn't impressed, so I watched his expression instead.  A badge meant nothing to me.  Besides, he was something better to look at than plastic and metal. 

The man moved closer to my face.  "I'm an agent with DHS," he whispered.  "That stands for the Department of Homeland Security—"

"And I just kicked your butt?  A girl kicked an agent's butt.  How hilarious is that?"  I laughed but he wasn't amused, so I stopped.  I wasn't a cruel person, but it was really funny. 

He smirked.  "I used to work for the CIA, but I was demoted because of a small incident with a queen in a different country.  She didn't believe her house was the target of a bomb.  We got the bombers before they struck, but she wasn't happy with me, so I was demoted."

"What a shame."  I knew I sounded condescending, but I really didn't care.  "What do you want with me?"

"I think there's going to be a threat on your life," he whispered.  "We're getting chatter from all over and something big is going down.  They want to use a U.N. interpreter to talk between the nations."

I watched him in indifference, crossing my arms even tighter.  "Uh-huh." 

"You don't believe me?"

"Nope.  They don't use U.N. interpreters for things like that, and you never told me your name.  How can I believe you?"  I pointed toward his hand, still holding his badge.  "For all I know, you got that at some discount toy store."

"It's real.  I don't tell people my name right away because they don't always believe me."

This should be good.  "What's your name and I'll tell you what I think."

"I'm sure you will.  It's not every day I'm beaten up by a girl.  If I'd known you were good at self-defense, I'd have brought my A-game and not let your good looks mess with me."  He shook his head, studying my face.  "Black hair and blue eyes.  Very striking.  They didn't tell me about that."

I almost laughed in his face.  "What's your name?"

"Bond.  Jim Bond."

I started to chuckle.  "And you used to work for the CIA?  Are you any relation to James—"

"No."  His expression turned serious.  "It's not funny.  I'm no longer CIA, either, remember?"

"I'll never forget, just like you should never forget not to touch my shoulder from behind again.  You really need to learn some manners."  I considered giving him my full anger, but since I'd just put him on the floor, I decided to be nice.  "Now, Mr. Bond, I think it's time for you to leave so I can do my job."

His grin covered his face.  He glanced down at my cleavage before returning his gaze to my eyes.  "Unlike your dossier, you do have a nice attitude underneath that tough exterior.  You'll do fine."  He grabbed my arm and pulled me to him, kissing me hard while his tongue penetrated my lips.  He backed away after a few seconds, slightly out of breath, his eyes just inches from mine.  "Welcome to my world, Harley Black.  You've just become a member."

Even though his kiss was brief, it was very sexy, stunning me.  I had to catch my breath before I could answer.  "What did I do?"

"You're tough, beautiful, and exactly what I need to foil an evil plot.  Plus, you're going to date me, so get used to this."  He kissed me again, and it was amazing, to say the least.

He backed away as I took a big breath and opened my eyes.

"I still have it," he whispered.

I had to teach him a few lessons to soften his inflated ego, so I hauled off and slapped his face with a loud smack of my hand.  "Keep dreaming, egotist.  I'm not easy and don't appreciate being assaulted." 

I returned to my desk and sat down.  Just as I removed my lipstick and mirror from my purse, my co-worker, Elizabeth, got back from lunch.  She was very pretty, with blue eyes and wavy blonde hair that brushed her shoulders.

"Sorry I'm late," she said.  "The foot traffic—"  She stared at Jim, who was holding onto his red cheek, looking very puzzled.  "Who's this?"

I kept touching up my lipstick.  "His name's Jim—"

"Manford," he said.  "I'm Harley's new boyfriend…I think."  He moved his jaw while I hoped he was still in pain.  No man treated me like that and lived to tell about it.  I should have him arrested for a drive-by kiss.

Elizabeth looked at me, then at Jim, her mouth hanging down.  She was from the United Kingdom with a beautiful British accent and upper class demeanor.  But from the look on her face, she couldn't believe her eyes, or stay in character for being upper class. 

"What happened to Billy?" she asked me.

"He's busy tonight."  I put away my lipstick and mirror.  "He's jerking my chain, so I figured I'd play the field."  I turned toward Jim.  "Billy told me that right before lunch."

Jim nodded.  "So that's why you're so crabby?"

"No, she's also PMSing," Elizabeth said in a matter-of-fact tone.  "Bad day for her, and we all know it."  She turned back to me while pointing at Jim.  "How did you meet this guy?"

"Uh—"

"On the street after lunch," Jim said.  "We were both reading the paper at a newsstand.  One thing led to another and we ended up making out on a park bench.  It was really hot, too." 

I narrowed my eyes at him, wanting to slap his other cheek to get rid of the smirk on his face.

"So why is the side of your face all red?" Elizabeth asked.

"I think I made a mistake."  He moved his jaw again.  "I guess I shouldn't have asked her which side of the bed is her favorite yet."

"Bad question," Elizabeth whispered.  "Billy asks her the same thing all the time, but never follows through."

"Got it."

Jim didn't look innocent.  From his subtle grin, he or his agency must've been spying on me for a while to know that information.  I wondered what else he knew about me.

I batted my eyelashes at the creep.  "Well, honey, I have to work, so don't you need to go elsewhere?"  My voice was so saccharin-sweet that I wanted to hurl.

He pulled up a chair and sat down beside me.  "Nope.  Have the day off, actually."  He picked up my hand and kissed the back of it.  "I just want to spend the day with my sweetheart."  His smile looked so stupid; I could've sworn hearts danced in his eyes.

"But honeybunch," I said.  "I have to work.  I can't be distracted."

Elizabeth looked down at the floor of the United Nations.  "They're ready to start."

She and I picked up earphones and I moved closer to the microphone.  We were both taking turns interpreting the spoken word from one of the main languages into English.  Everything at the U.N. was interpreted into English, then from English to the language that the interpreter, or oral translator, was assigned, if the interpreter didn't know the other language.  The languages used were English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, and Arabic.  I spoke everything they needed except for Arabic, which I was learning in my spare time—what little I had.  It took a lot of training and testing to be an interpreter.  We had many substitutes, in the event of someone being ill, but we were considered the best.

Since I was doing the interpretations first, I was busy, nonstop.  We did simultaneous interpretation, which meant there was no delay between their sentences where they waited for us to translate.  Even though some of their speeches were online to help us interpret, we still had to listen to what they were saying on the floor, in case they deviated from the script.  It was much tougher than consecutive interpretations, which allowed time between sentences.  When I ran out of steam, it would be Elizabeth's turn.  That was usually every twenty minutes.

I was talking non-stop about some peace treaty, when Jim leaned up and looked into the next room.  He picked up a headset, plugged it into the jack on the desk, and pulled the thing onto his head.

The Arabic Ambassador began to speak, which meant Ali, from next door, was interpreting into English.  They interpreted into English as well as Arabic in their section.

"He's not saying it right," Jim said.

I gave him a dirty look.

"Who?" Elizabeth asked.

Jim nodded toward Ali.  "The Arabic guy.  He's changed the whole meaning.  He's going to start a war with what he's saying."

The people on the main floor began to get agitated.  I knew it sounded nasty, but I just figured the guy from Egypt wanted to start a fight.  It wasn't unusual for him to do that, because he'd done it before.

Or had he?

Jim got up from his seat and headed over to the next cubicle.  Hassam was sitting beside Ali, waiting for his turn.  Ali had finished speaking and had turned off his microphone.  It was now my turn to interpret the Russian into English.  The Arabic and Chinese booths usually had three interpreters, but the third guy in the Arabic section was on break.  However, he always seemed to be on break.

"Be careful how you interpret their words," Jim said to Ali.  "You're going to start an international incident."

Ali turned toward Jim.  "No, I'm not.  It's what the guy was saying."

"No, it wasn't.  I'm fluent in Arabic and you're wrong.  Now be careful or I'm going to call the section chief."

I kept one ear on what Jim was saying while still doing my job, listening to the Russians speak.  It wasn't easy, but when Ali's and Jim's voices rose and security came running, everyone was given a five-minute break.  Even the big boss, Kent, was in that cubicle.

"He wasn't doing it right," Jim said to Kent.  "He was telling the other nations that if they didn't straighten up, the Arabic Alliance would bomb them in their sleep and rape their women.  That's not what the guy said down on the floor at all."  He pointed down to the General Assembly and seemed very agitated.

"Is that true?" Kent asked Ali.

"Not at all."  Ali pointed at Jim.  "He hates me because I'm from Saudi Arabia."

"Not true," Jim said.  "He's doing it wrong."

I headed into the next room just as Ali stood up and threw his earphones onto the desk.  "I quit," he said.

Kent scoffed.  "You can't just quit."

"Yes, I can," he said to Kent.  "I have another job offer and I'm taking it.  It's more money anyway."  He walked out of the room and no one stopped him.

Kent pulled out his cell phone and dialed, putting it to his ear.  "I need to find Jafar."  He listened for a moment.  "Then get me a substitute for the Arabic section."  He sighed after a moment.  "They can't all be at that meeting."  He glanced over at Jim.  "Never mind.  I know what I'll do."  He ended the call and stared right at Jim.  "I need someone to sit in for Jafar.  Since you know so much, you do it."

Jim looked confused.  "But I'm not trained—"

"Tough.  We'll get someone in here as soon as we can, but for now, you're it."  He glanced at Hassam.  "Keep him in line.  We're going to test him out and make him go first."  He pushed Jim into the chair.  "Now, let's get going."  Kent turned toward all the onlookers.  "Back to work, people.  We have to create world peace here."

I stepped closer to Jim and leaned down to his ear.  "Are you sure you can do this?  It usually takes years to become an interpreter, along with many tests."

"But you did it in less than a year." 

So he did know a lot about me.  "I have a photographic memory and learned languages fast, starting in the fifth grade.  I'm the exception."  I couldn't think the administration would let him just waltz in like that.  Kent was usually a stickler for the rules.  "You can't do this.""

"Sure I can."  He smiled.  "Piece of cake.  I was in the Middle East for six months and knew the languages backward and forward before I even went.  Arabic is an easy one for me."

"What will your boss think?" I asked.

He leaned closer, looking down my top.  I knelt beside him and held my blouse closed at the top so he couldn't see anything, making him chuckle. 

"My job is to watch you and this is the perfect cover," he said.  "I'm going to ask if I can do this full-time."

I nodded.  Lucky me. 

I returned to my room and sat in my chair, trying to figure out what had just happened.

Elizabeth leaned over to me.  "Cute one, huh?"

"Yeah.  I'm trying to break him in."

"Good luck with that.  He looks chivalrous and smart, so that might be his downfall."

I leaned back and talked louder so Jim could hear me.  "I bet he's a sucker for tears, too."

"I heard that," Jim said. 

We all got back to work, keeping world peace for the day.  As soon as the session ended at five, I stood up and opened my desk drawer, removing my purse.

Jim moved to my side.  "Ready to go?  I'll call a cab."

"A cab?  They're pricey.  No, I'll just take my bike.  See ya tomorrow."  He must be a rich DHS agent or something.  It would be faster on my bike, too.

He grabbed my arm, forcing me to look at him.  "A bicycle?  At five in the evening?"

Elizabeth laughed and headed toward the door.  "See you tomorrow."

"Have a good one."  She left the room and I looked up at Jim's eyes.  "Not a bicycle."  I reached down and pulled out my helmet.  "Motorcycle."

He raked his eyes over me for about the third time since he'd met me.  It was getting annoying.  "You drive a motorcycle?"

"It goes with my name."  I turned to walk away, but he held on tight.

"No, Harley.  I'm with you, remember?"

"Fine."  I reached down and handed him a second helmet I kept in the drawer in case I needed it.  "Put it on and I'll see if you're worthy enough to ride on the back."

"I don't do motorcycles." 

I never knew a man who didn't like motorcycles.  What was wrong with this guy?

"Then you're out of luck," I said.  "Call a cab and I'll see you later some time."  I headed out of the room, but his hand on my elbow stopped me.  He didn't look very friendly, either.

"No, you'll come with me," he growled.  "You're my job.  Someone was kidnapped from this place last week and I'm not taking any chances.  If you remember, you're my job."

"Who was kidnapped?"

"Someone high up.  He was a part-time guard and no one really knew him.  But he had clout, and if he was kidnapped, anyone can be.  No, you come with me."

I lifted my chin in defiance.  No one was going to mess with Harley Black and win.  I already knew I could take this guy on, and so did he.  "We're taking my bike.  I'm not leaving it here all night."

He studied my eyes and stroked the hair back from my face.  "Do you drive safely?"

I backed away.  I hated being touched.  "Yep.  Never got a ticket."  I never looked away from him, making sure he knew I meant business.  In his world, men thought they ruled, but in my world, I ruled, and he'd better realize that.

"Fine.  You can drive then."  He leaned down and kissed me.  His skin was hot, and I could feel his minty breath brush over my cheek.  "Don't ever forget you're dating me, got it?"

I hated this.  "What happens if I do or Billy comes back?"

He pulled me in for a hug and massaged my back.  "You'll see the inside of a jail cell," he whispered.  "We don't know for sure if your loyalty is to the U.S. or not, and if you disobey me, you'll be considered a risk to national security."

"Nice threat," I whispered.  "Are you going to hold that over my head for everything?"

He leaned back with a grin.  "I can try."  He took the helmet in his hand.  "I'm driving."  He tried walking away with his hand still holding onto my arm, but I stayed put, making him almost fall backward.

"Not on my bike, you're not," I said.

He moved very close to my ear.  "Listen to me or it's jail for you," he whispered.

"Stick me in jail, then.  I have rights and no one drives my bike but me."

We were at an impasse.  He stared me down, but there was no way he could win.

"Fine," he finally said.  "But you go the speed limit."

There was no way I'd do that, because he'd just challenged me.  I left a grin cover my face, knowing his weakness.

As we walked out of the room, he grabbed my hand, leaning up to my ear.  "We're dating, remember?"

"How could I forget something so wonderful?"  I knew my tone was sarcastic, but he deserved it.  I even shot him a smile while thinking of ways to kill the guy.  I should be so lucky.

We passed some of the members of the United Nations when Felix Ernst, the German Ambassador, put his arm over my right shoulder.  Jim was on my left.

"Harley, what happened upstairs after lunch?"  Felix's accent was strong, but he was very good at speaking English.  Considering German wasn't one of the languages we interpreted, he had no choice but to use one of the other languages or bring his own interpreter.

Jim leaned forward to see Felix.  "Lover's quarrel.  We worked it out."  He glanced at my face with a snide grin.  He'd pay, somehow.

Felix lifted one eyebrow.  "Is this a new boyfriend?"

"Uh, sort of."  I glanced toward Jim.  "I'm breaking him in."

Felix laughed, but Jim squeezed my hand.  As I darted my eyes toward Jim, he clenched his jaw.  I let go of his hand, but he grabbed it again, holding on tightly.

"Well, then I guess fixing you up with my son is out of the question, since you're taken," Felix said to me.

"For now."  Jim squeezed my hand again.  "And probably for a long time."  He stopped squeezing my hand, to my relief.  I pulled it from his grasp and massaged it but didn't say a word.  Rotten man. 

Felix chuckled.  "Can you both come over for dinner?  My wife's making German sausage and potatoes.  That's my favorite."

"Not tonight," I said.  "I hope it's good though."

Felix leaned over and kissed my cheek.  "Have a great evening." 

He left my side and Jim wrapped his arm around my shoulders, leaning close to my ear.  "Never again.  I'm not going to be whipped by a woman.  Got it?"

"Such a romantic."

He moved to stand in front of me, very close to my face, even though he was a few inches taller.  "I'm serious.  I'm in charge in this relationship and you're not 'training me.'"  He put his hands on both of my shoulders.

"Sure."  I smiled to myself.  He was like putty in my hands.

"Good.  Now that we have that understood, I'm driving.  My masculinity depends on it."  He held out his hand.  "The keys?"

"Nope.  My bike and you'll have to arrest me before you drive it."

He shook his head, sighed, and looked at his watch.  "Just for tonight.  We'll have my car as soon as we get to your apartment." 

He took a step toward the door, but I stopped him from walking away.  "You know where I live?"

He leaned toward my ear.  "I know everything about you.  Your younger brother is Scotty and you have another brother Harold in upstate New York.  Your parents died two years ago, when you came back from working at the United Nations offices in Geneva, dating some guy named Claus.  He dumped you when you told him you had to take care of Scotty, because Harold wasn't dependable.  I just didn't know what you looked like, in person.  Your driver's license didn't do you justice."

I was stunned.  "How do you know this?"

"I know everything, remember?  Now can we get out of here before everyone wonders why we aren't leaving?"

I couldn't wait to grill this guy.  Tying him to my bed and beating him until he talked came to mind, but I had a feeling he wouldn't stand—or lie—for that.  However, I had to keep reminding myself that I could beat him up.  Since I had the upper hand in combat, he'd better take me seriously.

I took him to my motorcycle in the parking garage.  After storing my purse in a saddlebag, I pulled all my long hair to the back and yanked on my helmet.

He stared at me and touched my hair.  "You're beautiful.  Do you know that?"

"Yep."

I think I caught him off guard, because he laughed and crossed his arms.  "Egotistical, too."

"Yep."  I yanked the visor down on the helmet and got onto the bike.  He pulled on his helmet and sat behind me, his hands going around my waist.

"I like this," he said into my ear. 

I just grinned.  He'd have an entirely different idea about this closeness after we made it home.

Just as I started the bike, a black car spun around the corner, screeching its tires.  Both Jim and I turned to watch the car heading straight for us.  I moved the bike up as far as I could, and just as the car sped past, the door opened and a body was hurled out of the car.  I looked down, horror filling my thoughts as soon as I saw the guy's face.

It was Ali. 

~~~~~


Web page:  http://andiealexander.com/deadlyinterpretations.html

Buy Links $2.99 (updated for later links on the web page):
Smashwords

Have a wonderful weekend!
Andie (Markee)



Friday, October 30, 2015

Why Use a Pen Name? I have 5!

I have 5 pen names.  Don't judge me and tell me I'm crazy, because I tell myself that same phrase every morning in the mirror.  'Why?' I ask myself.  'Why do you have SO many names?'  My family asks me the same thing, telling me I'm my own worst enemy.  And why are they all pen names?  Why not write as myself?  Let me explain...but first, a background.

I write 'sweet.'  To me, that means no American swearing, no premarital sex, and no explicit sex scenes, regardless of genre.  The word 'sweet' usually applies to romances, but since I have a form of romance in all my books, I apply it to all my books.

Well, my names are by genre.  I use the following pen names, all under the 'SweetTale Books' marketing umbrella.  I also tweet them by day, so I try to concentrate on one name a day for the work week.

Monday:  Eryn Grace -- Christian pen name (mostly romances).  Christian morals, without beating the reader over the head with proselytizing.  Brand/logo:  Journeys of Faith

Tuesday:  Andie Alexander -- mystery/romance/humor pen name.  Books written in first person and pushing the limit of 'sweet.'  Brand/logo:  Saving the World One Story at a Time

Wednesday:  Kyra Myles -- young adult books.  Books written in first and third person, all about teenagers.  Very sweet.  Brand/logo:  Stories of Strange Hope.

Thursday:  Markee Anderson -- sweet romance, written in third person.  Brand/logo:  Romance You Wish For.

Friday:  Paige Ryter -- Sci-Fi/Paranormal/Adventure books.  The sky's the limit on these plots.  Brand/Logo:  Live the Adventure.

Why use a pen name?  I like being anonymous.  I'm an introvert and really don't want to mix my personal life with my writing life.  Why?  I have a friend who writes for a big name publisher.  She writes as herself.  She's been approached by scam artists, authors wanting a hand up and a hand out, and people claiming her success was theirs because they know her (when she's never met them before).

The way I set up my names is that now, I know if someone really knows me or not (none of those names, above, are even close to my real name).  I use Markee's name for most of my correspondences (I just chose one and it stuck).  If someone writes to Markee, claiming some scam, I know it's not true.  It keeps my personal and writing life separate.

So the next time you want to know if you should use a pen name, do it.  You'll protect yourself in more ways than you can imagine.  Yes, you'll lose the celebrity status when you're out and about, but it's worth it, in my mind.

Have a great week!
Markee


Friday, October 23, 2015

Writing as a Career

Our youngest daughter is in college to become a web design/media/Photoshop specialist.  She has a little over a year to go (she went through fast, after graduating from high school as a junior with a 4.0 GPA out of 4.0 possible).  She's now having a crisis of major, or so I like to call it.  Even though she has a high GPA (3.99 GPA right now), she's sure she doesn't want to do this work outside college.  In other words, she's not happy and calls or emails me all the time, telling me she hates her major.

Lucky me.  NOT.

She wanted to change her major but this late in the game, it seems silly.  Besides, she changes her mind as to what she might change her major TO, even if she could change.  Some weeks it's psychology, other weeks, English, and she even considered joining the military or FBI, just to get out of her major.

Now, realize she's good at what she does.  She loves doing Photoshop and is really good at it. She's done a few of my (and other author's) covers and she knows her stuff.  She's considered teaching Photoshop but really isn't a people person.

Her latest idea...to write as a career.  She considered getting a minor in creative writing so she could write books.  She has a lot of plot ideas, but doesn't sit down and write them out...they sit in her head like little plot bunnies that are dying to get onto paper.

Thus, she and I had a little chat about this.  First, realize that hitting it big in the book market is much like winning the lottery.  The odds are against you, and probably worse than lottery odds.  Unless you're the only author in a niche market, you're probably not going to make it.  For example, if you write romance, don't quit your day job.

What does our daughter like to read and write?  Dystopian...end of the world type of stuff.  I call that depressing.  But she'd have done great writing something like the Hunger Games.

My advice to her is the same to anyone who wants to give it all up just to write.  Don't do it.  Keep the day job, but write at night or after the day job's over.  Unless you're pulling in at least six figures ($100,000 or more, for those who have never heard that saying), it's not going to be worth it.  Keep the day job for the benefits, at least.  But write when you can and always keep the latest scene of your book in your head.

Yes, I'm a hypocrite.  I don't have a day job, but certainly wish I did.  My job is writing and taking care of our dogs, but I think if I had that day job, I'd get more writing done.  The housework would suffer, but I'm not sure I'd care.  :)

Have a great week!
Markee

Friday, October 16, 2015

5 Thoughts for Titling Your Book

What's in a title?  A lot!  It can make or break a book's sales.  With all the books out there now, all vying for a reader's attention, the title has to scream out to the reader to pick it up.  Just like the hook in the first paragraph or the cover itself, the title is the first introduction to the story.

So what's the best way to name a book?  According to the references (at the bottom of this article), here are the highlights:

1.  Keep it simple--just use a few words to convey the genre and the feel of the book.  If the title's too long, no one will remember it.  There are some exceptions to this rule, but there's an unwritten rule (not aware of it being written as 'gospel') that the magic number for a book title is three words.  I have a few longer titles, myself, and some of them sell well.  But I think the ones with just a handful of words seem to sell better.

2.  Use alliteration (same beginning sound for the words in the title).  For my book, 'Dead Men Don't Dust,' I originally had something stupid for the title.  I took a course from RWA and the teacher named it for me, stressing alliteration as one means for finding a title.

3.  Make it memorable and interesting.  The more people remember a title, the more likely they are to buy and read the book.  So, use something that's poetic or mysterious and you'll grab the reader's attention.  Or even use humor or a play on a phrase or well-known saying.  I did this in 'Ginger, Spice, and Everything Not Nice.'  I twisted the original saying in a few ways to make it catchier.

4.  Get the title from a phrase in the book, or the key theme of the story.  For example, my book, All for Aaron, had great sales.  The theme of the book was that the single mom did everything for her autistic son, Aaron.  She gave up everything she could, just for her son.  It was the key theme.

5.  Use a new, creative title, even outlandish if need be.  That means, don't get your titles from books that are already in print.  Yes, we all do it.  We think we have the perfect title, just to find out later that the title's been done and overdone already.  Pick words that would describe your book and put it into the title.  My latest book, 'Death's Sidekick,' is like that.  It describes the main character's job--a eulogist.  It's different enough that people would say, wow, that's interesting.

The overall point is this...you have the time it takes for someone to see the title and book cover to make them open the book.  If they don't, you've lost a sale.  So make the title and cover make them want to read the book.  It has to be catchy and different, or you've lost them.

If the book's not selling, consider re-titling the story.  I'm considering it for some of mine, some day.

If you need to see if your book title is worthy of a best seller, try the lulu.com/titlescorer link below.  Interesting!

Have a great week!
Markee

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References:
http://www.lulu.com/titlescorer/index.php
http://blog.karenwoodward.org/2013/05/4-things-to-keep-in-mind-when-choosing.html
http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/titles.shtml
http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/write-first-chapter-get-started/7-tips-to-nail-the-perfect-title
http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Good-Story-Title

Friday, October 9, 2015

The World's Gone Crazy...and Didn't Invite Me

Ever think the world's gone nuts?  Go look at some of the popular books out there these days and tell me it isn't true.  I've seen titles that I've been embarrassed to repeat.  I've seen plots that I'd never dream up myself, they're that horrific or pornographic.

What prompted this explosion of weird in the book world?  I hate to say this and I know I'm going to regret it...but everyone thinks they're an author now, because it's so easy to publish a book.  I know--I'm an indie author, so I'm doing the same thing.

It used to be that NY publishers were the 'gatekeepers,' allowing only certain books to be published.  They were basically banning any book they didn't feel was good enough...or had the right subject matter, to be published.

On the other hand, isn't it only fair that anyone should be allowed to publish, regardless of the topic?  Is it time for the book banners to lose their power?

I honestly like the indie book rise.  I know it's glutting the market, but all these authors have stories within them that have been suppressed because of the gatekeepers.  With every weird book out there, there are thousands, at least, that are amazing.  They have great plots and characters.  The gatekeepers should never have banned publishing them.

The indie book rise also gives people an outlet for their creativity.  So weird book writers, keep writing.  I look at it this way--the market will let the best books rise to the top.  Competition will take care of the books that are less than desirable.  And, no longer will the NY published authors think they're better than everyone else.  Because, to be honest, some of those indies are better than the NY pubbed books.  Why?  There are no constraints on what they can write.  No one is telling them what to write and how.  They're allowed to dream.

Have a great week!
Markee

Friday, October 2, 2015

Book Cover Colors

My sister is working on a book.  She asked my advice for creating a cover, since she has no money.  I threw out a few ideas, with different colors and fonts, but she rejected a lot of them.  Then, in true sisterly fashion, she went to the Internet and found that my color choices for her project weren't used in best sellers.

HUH?

I had to find out more, so I searched the Internet, as well.  Wow.  My covers need redoing!  Even the latest one probably doesn't pass muster for being in the best seller list.

First, stick to metallic and warm colors-gold, silver, or copper, or ochre (it's like a tan color).  But what I'm seeing from the article (see The Bestselling Colors in the Book World), is that there's a color palette.  They use three colors that kind of match, then a contrasting color.

This article (https://www.coverdesignstudio.com/best-colors-book-covers/) discusses using color to convey the mood of the book, as well as using contrasting colors to make things pop.  Interesting and brilliant!

I also found these articles, talking about simple design, simple fonts, and books that look good as a thumbnail.  Wow.  Times have changed since I first got into this business.  And, to tell the truth, I LIKE it!

14 Tips to Make a Best-Selling Book Cover
Yes, We Really Do Judge Books By Their Covers
Top 8 Cover Design Tips for Self-Publishers

Have a great week!
Markee

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It's Great Pumpkin time!

Welcome, October!


The days are getting shorter and it's dark when I get up now (usually before six).  It's also cold in the mornings, down into the lower 40s.  :<  I don't like winter, but at least it gets into the 60s during the day, so I'm holding onto whatever I can for the remainder of fall.

This past month, my husband and I drove to the upper peninsula of Michigan, across the 5-mile Mackinaw suspension bridge (not for the faint of heart).  Here's a picture from a distance.


After that, we drove down the western side of the state.  There's some gorgeous scenery there, if you ever want to go to a neat place.  Here are some pictures of Lake Michigan from a scenic outlook place.  We had to climb a bunch of steps to get these shots.  It was worth it.




We also visited Holland, Michigan, where they have a working windmill that grinds wheat.  Amazing.  I never knew windmills did anything other than spin. LOL!

Here's a picture of that windmill, from behind):



And yes, I did buy some of the ground wheat and have made pancakes and bread out of some of it already.  Delicious!  It's really light.

After all our travels around western Michigan, we took the ferry (the S.S. Badger) on the 4-hour trip across the lake.  They loaded the cars in the bottom of the ferry, and we headed up to the upper floors.  They have small cafeterias, a gift shop, a museum, and places to watch TV and movies.  They even have a bingo game going.  It was fun!

Here are some pics of the ferry and that trip across the lake.  The first picture is before we got onboard, the second picture is right when we left Michigan, and the third is somewhere on the lake. LOL!








We landed in Manitowoc, WI and drove home.  And yes, we crossed a time zone (MI is Eastern time and WI is Central time), so I had to sleep off the 'jet lag.' LOL!

All in all, it was a relaxing and fun trip!

Have a wonderful month!
SweetTale Books





What Happened At
SweetTale Books
in September?


This past month, it was time to put out a book written long ago, called Death's Sidekick, by Andie Alexander.  LOVE this story!  I loved writing it a lot, because it was just fun!


Death's Sidekick, by Andie Alexander



Blurb:

When a body flies through the air and lands on the sidewalk at Celebrant Sadie Toilette's feet, she considers it a happy accident.  She can finally make a few bucks as the eulogist at the woman's funeral, being in the right place at the right time.  However, the man funding the funeral has other plans, making sure Sadie toes the line…or else.


Excerpt:

Chapter 1


It always cracked me up when funeral directors tried to remove jewelry from the deceased, and today was no exception. The mortician, who was older than dirt itself and nothing but skin and bones, braced his foot against the casket. His long gangly fingers wrapped around the four-carat diamond on the dead lady's finger as the deceased's family looked on in horror. Call me insane, but it was hilarious. I wanted to make fun of him, but kept it in check for the deceased woman's husband and daughter, who were standing right in front of me.

"This is easy," Mr. Coffin said, yanking on the stuck ring. Yep, that was his real name. Mortimer Coffin. Nothing like fate determining someone's job. Lucky stiff…uh…guy.

Mr. Coffin groaned as he pulled and tugged. "Trust me. I'm a professional and I've done this before."

I held my hand over my mouth so I wouldn't laugh out loud. I wasn't about to tell him to try a lubricant.

I was the celebrant for this funeral, which meant I conducted the eulogy and directed the service, much like a wedding director did for a wedding. I thought of myself as Death's Sidekick, but in a fun sort of way. I was the comic relief.

"Celebrant Sadie, would you help me?" Mr. Coffin asked me. And yes, my first name was Sadie, which sounded so sad. It was very fitting for the funeral industry. But my last name was really creative, thanks to my husband. It was Toilette. Sadie Toilette. It kind of flowed off my tongue, or so I thought when we were first married. I had chosen to become a sad toilet. Pathetic.

I pointed toward my chest in horror. "Me? I don't do jewelry removal. I'm really not strong enough." Granted, I worked out, but I certainly didn't want to touch a dead lady's hand. Speaking of cold and yucky. No, not for me. It might mess up my required new pink manicure. "I don't think that's in my contract. Why not call your Bruno-guy."

"Brutus? He doesn't like dead bodies." Mr. Coffin yanked again, but the ring was stuck. He blew out a breath of what smelled like a cross between a dead body and a cigarette. "He only works here because he likes the worms when he digs the graves. What a weirdo."

…And look who was talking. The thought made me hold my breath so I wouldn't chuckle aloud or double over in hysterics. Yeah, I loved my job sometimes. Dead people and the living ones who went with them were hilarious.

The family members stared at Mr. Coffin, each of their faces registering their surprise. The older man turned toward the daughter, speaking in some language I'd never understand if I tried. I was pretty sure it was Japanese, Chinese, or some other 'ese' language.

The twenty-something daughter nodded, furrowing her recently plucked and shaped eyebrows. She looked like a top model—the airbrushed version; she was that pretty. I was so jealous.

"Dad wants to know if you've ever cut off someone's finger to get their ring," she said.

Mr. Coffin kept yanking. "Not in front of the family." He looked up at the woman. "Oh. I meant to say, never."

I bit my lips, forcing myself not to laugh. Of course he'd done it, and if he didn't get this ring, he'd tell the family to bury her with it, then before the casket closed, he'd cut off the finger to get the ring for himself.

Welcome to the funeral industry.

Mr. Coffin yanked one last time. The ring flew off the woman's finger, sailed through the air, and landed squarely on the vent on the floor—one with giant slats so mice could come and go as they pleased. He was such an animal lover.

"No!" Mr. Coffin yelled, diving for the ring. But it was too late. The four-carat diamond slid a quarter inch when Mr. Coffin landed. It fell through the slats and down into the furnace, where they cremated the bodies. Mr. Coffin told me he was being energy efficient, using the heat from the ashes to heat the building. Granted, from the incense he burned and the smell of embalming fluid, the place smelled almost sweet, but there was that underlying odor of burning flesh that seemed to invade my nostrils. Since I'd seen him pay the inspectors more than once while shifting his eyes from side-to-side, I was sure it was 'legal,' like he said it was. Right…

"We want that ring," the woman said. "Or we'll sue."

Coffin nodded, but wiped his brow. "Yes. I'll make sure you get it."

I just hoped he did get it, because cubic zirconium 'diamonds' didn't quite look the same. He'd learned that lesson the previous year. It all worked out okay, sort of, but the lawsuit was still pending. I hoped that lawsuit went in the client's favor and Coffin would lose the business. But then again, I seemed to have a problem with revenge. Even so, if he did lose, it would make a serious dent in my income if the business folded. So, it probably wasn't a good idea.

Mr. Coffin continued, putting his hand on the arm of the deceased woman's husband. "Now, it's time for us to bury your wife. Do you want to say anything at graveside?"

"No, he doesn't," I said. "I've already handled this and he doesn't understand English."

Coffin faced me. "I know that. I'm giving him my best soothing tone."

The daughter shifted her overly made-up eyes toward me, and then turned to Mr. Coffin. "I understand English."

Mr. Coffin's expression turned flustered, and I could almost see his brain working overtime. Anyone in the room would know the woman spoke English, because she'd spoken to him a few hundred times while he was getting the body ready for burial. She's the one who gave him the dress for her mom and told Mr. Coffin how to apply her mother's makeup. Mr. Coffin was an idiot and it showed on his face.

It wasn't my problem, so I studied my new pink manicure, and then ran my hands down my dark blue dress. I loved my figure, and I wasn't just saying that. I'd been lucky to have a great body at my ripe old age of 37. It wasn't easy to upkeep, either, but I had no choice, according to my husband, Marcus. He was an evil man at times and wanted me to look like a blonde-haired, blue-eyed trophy wife who loved the color pink and kept a smile on her face with a positive attitude in her heart. I hated how he treated me, so funerals were my outlet. Someday, it would be Marcus I'd be burying. I couldn't wait to get out from under his tyrannical thumb.

"Uh…would you like to say something at graveside?" Mr. Coffin asked the woman.

The woman rolled her eyes. "No. I already cleared it with Sadie."

"Good." He rubbed his hands together, looking as if he was ready for something exciting. "Ready to bury the stiff?" He chuckled, but none of us laughed. Mr. Coffin leaned closer to the woman. "It's a joke. No one seems to get my jokes."

"At a funeral? A joke?" The woman crossed her arms. "Are you nuts?"

"Yep. That's why I love my job." He ushered us all out of the room just as I smelled the incinerator start up. "Uh…I'll be right back." Mr. Coffin ran out of the hallway, moving faster than I thought a man of his age should be able to move. Must've been the incentive of that giant ring in the incinerator or he'd eaten prunes. It was hard to tell.

I walked with the older man and young woman toward the hallway, trying not to laugh at the thought of prunes. It wasn't a laughing matter, but Mr. Coffin did have one thing right—you had to laugh in this business or you'd cry. Funeral didn't start with 'fun' for nothing. Who needed valium and laughing gas? I had funerals.

"So, are you ready to make this final?" I asked.

The woman set her jaw. "That sounds so sad, when you think about it."

"Not really. Your mom's been ready to go for a while. My sister mentally puts the deceased on vacation. Think of it that way. Your mom's on vacation and having a ball. She's probably at the beach and doesn't even need sunscreen."

"That sounds like fun," the man said. "I'm tempted to join her."

I couldn't believe it. I'd spent hours talking to the family members and this man never spoke. "You speak English?"

"Yeah," he said. "But I don't tell anyone I don't like. I like you. You're normal and down-to-earth."

He knew nothing about my weird life, but I shot him a grin anyway. "I understand." I ushered them out of the hallway and outside to where the hearse was parked. "I'll meet you at graveside."

"Thank you for everything," the woman said. She took her father's arm and walked away to their Bentley. Yes, they were uber-wealthy, and made sure everyone knew about it.

The memorial service had gone really well, with hundreds of well wishers in attendance. I wanted to think they all liked the family, but knew it wasn't the case. They all looked so happy as they each received a hundred bucks and a candy bar, just for attending. It was irritating, because I only got my measly four hundred dollars for giving the eulogy, which covered the time preparing for the funeral, along with gas and hours upon hours to meet with the family more than once. I also made ribbons for cancer to pass out before the funeral and created a free memorial photo album of the service for the family. I was probably the worst business person in the world, which is why I had to keep Marcus happy. He's the one who kind of put food on the table, when he decided I needed some cash thrown my way. However, he wasn't home a lot, because his job included gallivanting around the world with his 'restaurant planting' business. He was so successful and seemed satisfied with his life…when I saw him. I wish I could say the same for how I felt about him and our marriage—satisfied. Frustrated was more like it.

I got into my nondescript blue minivan and waited, pulling out of the funeral home parking lot behind the hearse. As I drove down the streets of Baltimore, I followed the noontime traffic at a snail's pace while refreshing my makeup. I wasn't worried about being late to the graveside service, because I was leading the funeral procession, right behind the hearse. My lights were on, and drivers were supposed to yield to every funeral procession. However, a few drivers cut me off, zipping between the hearse and my car. I just guessed they were in more of a hurry than a procession of funeral attendees. It was their loss to miss the funeral. I loved funerals, and from the way these people drove, their memorial would be in my care before long while their loved ones would tell me how the deceased wanted to be remembered.

As I pulled up to an intersection, I stopped right beside a garbage truck—the kind with the automatic lift for the cans. I ignored the thing, singing along with some cool 70s song playing on the radio. I was more interested in the words and my lipstick shade than what was going on around me.

Garbage suddenly rained down over my car, pulling me from my seventies zone. Candy wrappers oozing in some green slime slid down my windshield, as well as what looked like hamburger and sauerkraut.

"What's going on?" I honked my horn. As I looked up through the garbage-strewn windshield, I realized it came from the truck beside my car. "Stop it!"

The man in the driver's seat of the garbage truck, who was on his cell phone, glanced toward me while I honked my horn.

"What, lady?" he yelled.

I pointed, and he stared as I continued to look upward to see where it had come from. He moved his cell phone away from his ear, opened the door, and slammed it onto my passenger's car door. He got out, assessing the situation with his hands on his hips.

It was time to pull out some attitude. "Hey! Watch the door and my car, jerk."

"It sucks to be you." With a laugh, he got back into his truck and merged into traffic.

I sat still, the horns honking behind me. Once I stared through the smeared hamburger garbage on my windshield, I realized the light had turned green. Since no cars were to my right, I pulled into the parking lane, happy no one was parked there.

Just as I slammed the gearshift into park, someone yelled from beside my car. "You can't park there!"

I got out of my car and stared at all the wrappers, goo, and whatever else covered the top of my car and windshield. This couldn't be happening.

A little old man with no teeth ran up to me. He looked like a tiny troll, making me grimace. He really needed a facial. "You can't park there," he said.

I put my hands to my hips. "Why not?"

He nodded to a tiny sign beside the car. "That's reserved. Can't ya read?"

"Look at my car." I pointed so he'd get it. "Trash fell from the garbage truck and went all over my car. Is it your junk?" I really wanted to pin this on someone else.

The cars stopped at the red light beside me and I heard laughter, but ignored it.

Troll-man shook his head. "Oh, I hope it's not mine. This here's a taxidermy shop. Them's innards, if it's my garbage."

I closed my eyes and covered my forehead with my hand. This wasn't happening to me. Throwing out animal guts had to be against the law. I hated dilemmas like this.

I had to do something. Squaring my shoulders, I faced the small troll of a man. "Don't tell me things like that. Can you help me clean this off? I'm late for a graveside funeral service and I'm in charge of it."

He stared at my car, grimacing. "Sorry. That's above my pay grade, but you have to move your car. We have a very important person coming and they need to park right there."

"An important person at a taxidermy shop?"

"He'll be here any minute. He's rich and wants to buy a bunch of dead cats. One of them is his, and he wants it to have friends or something, I think."

What an odd thing to request. Even though I had to be at graveside, I had to see this dead-cat-fetish guy. I loved to see weird characters.

After crawling back into my car, I pulled up a few spaces, which were fortunately empty, and went into a diner near the taxidermist's store. I needed to get some paper towels to keep busy so I could see the dead-cat guy.

Once I stepped into the diner, I lifted my heel from where it stuck on the floor and studied the bottom of my shoe. This place wasn't very cleanly. But I needed help, so I looked up to see the hostess' face. "Do you have any paper towels, or a broom, or a shovel I could use?" I turned and pointed toward my car. "The garbage truck just dumped a load on my car."

"So? Can't help you." She chomped on her gum, turned, and practically ran away from me.

I was stunned. If I were her, I'd be helping scrap the junk off the person's car while laughing at their misfortune. But, thinking about it, these people weren't into clean floors, so they probably didn't have anything to help. Regardless, she could've been nicer about it.

I turned on my heel and headed back toward my car, nasty thoughts crossing my mind. Revenge would be sweet, just to throw the garbage all over her windows. I should turn on my wipers full blast, just to nail her dirty windows. See how she'd like it.

Once I reached my car, I heard tires squeal and a thud. Thuds are never good, especially thuds that make someone fly through the air and land on the sidewalk. It was going to be one of those lucky days, with a potential funeral landing right at my feet…literally.

 ~~~~~



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Where to keep up with me

I have five blogs, posting them over five days out of the week.  See all the feeds here: http://sweettalebooks.com/mybloglist.html.


Come visit me!  You can also see pictures and videos of our dogs.  They're hilarious!



Have a wonderful month!!!
SweetTale Books