Monday, November 28, 2011

Great Advice on Self-Publishing

Whether an author should self-publish, how to do it, how to succeed if you try -- these are all the questions buzzing around the publishing biz these days. Some authors seem to feel that traditional, "dead-tree" publishers are dinosaurs with absolutely no relevance.

[I have to admit I love the phrase "dead-tree" publishers. The environmental impact of this business has always been something that's troubled me. It's one of the main reasons we switched to all electronic submissions. But I have to admit when folks use the phrase these days, it sounds so negative on so many levels!]

Hardly a day goes by without at least one author asking me about self-publishing. As with most issues and since I am also an attorney (and this is the attorneys' favorite response), the answer I give is always "it depends." I do believe each situation is unique and ALL factors should be considered, not just that everyone else is doing it and some are even making money at it. So today when I saw a blog post on this subject from Jane Friedman, former publisher of Writers' Digest and a professor of media and writing at the University of Cincinnati that I thought made an enormous amount of sense, I wanted to share the link. She suggests that while authors may have great power, they still need to use it responsibly. Take a look at her piece and let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I am sure this topic has been discussed in previous blog posts, but it is so important it deserves being touched upon again. There may be nothing that can make or break a novel as much as the characters that are in it. Many times I've gotten excited about the premise of a story, and find myself completely disappointed by the people who that story revolves around. And in the opposite effect, I've read some stories where I am not exactly thrilled about where the plot is going but I am driven to continue by a need to know what happens to the people.

There are few other factors in a novel or manuscript that hold as much importance as the characters. Make them believable.If you want your read to get emotionally invested in a fictionalized character in a story, we have to be able to believe that they could be real and that their choices make sense for the kind of person they are painted as. Decide who you want them to be and how you want them to act and make sure they keep up some continuity, or if they act completely out of character make sure they have a reason. The believable factor also goes for dialogue--make sure what they say makes sense for them as well.

Develop them further than you even need to just to make sure you solidify who they are and what you want them to mean to you reader. Start with some basic things, like what is their favorite color and why? Add small things like that which maybe do not give a great deal of insight into the character but make them feel more like they could be a real person.

Give your reader someone to pull for, someone to hate, someone to wish that they could be or just be around. Make your reader wish for your character to be more than fiction, and you will have won them over.

Good luck!

Intern Emily

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Release: Love's Paradise by Celeste O. Norfleet

Love's Paradise

The agency is excited to announce another new release for November: Celeste O. Norfleet's newest romance, Love's Paradise:

In a dazzling new novel in the Mamma Lou series, matchmaker Louise Gates helps two adversaries turn their simmering anger into fiery passion.

For historian Sheri Summers, Crescent Island is an unspoiled treasure, and she hopes to keep it that way. If that means shutting down a new beachfront project that could destroy the historic site, so be it. Sheri can deal with developer Jordan Hamilton's anger. But what she doesn't count on is their combustible chemistry.…

Jordan has powerful allies, and asks Mamma Lou to help arrange a truce. Sheri is as sexy as she is stubborn, but every kiss and heated caress is just one more complication in their ongoing dispute. With no compromise in sight, it's not just a battle of wills that's at risk, but something far more precious.

Get your copy today!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Release: Tall, Dark and Cowboy by Joanne Kennedy

November is flush with new books by Elaine English authors! Hot off the shelf, Joanne Kennedy's latest sexy Western is sure to put some sizzle in your chilly Fall evenings:

Stunned by the discovery that her lux lifestyle was funded by crime, runaway trophy wife Lacey Bradford is desperate to escape from her ex's criminal cronies and start a new life, so she heads west to find an old love.

But rugged rancher Chase Caldwell has changed, hardened by bitterness and loss. The last thing he's looking for is romance with the first woman who broke his heart...

Purchase your copy today.

New Release: The Rancher's Courtship by Laurie Kingery

The agency is thrilled to announce that The Rancher's Courtship by Laurie Kingery is available on bookshelves today. Kingery's latest novel is the fourth installment in the popular Love Inspired Historicals series "Brides of Simpson Creek".

Though Caroline Wallace can't have a family, she can still have a purpose. Becoming Simpson Creek's new schoolmarm helps heal the heartache of losing Pete, her fiancé, to influenza.

Then Pete's brother arrives, trailing a herd of cattle and twin six-year-old girls.Jack Collier expected Pete and his bride to care for his daughters until he was settled in Montana. But bad weather and worse news strand Jack in Texas until spring. It's little wonder Caroline grows fond of Abby and Amelia. But could such a refined, warmhearted woman fall for a gruff rancher…before the time comes for him to leave again?

Make sure to pick up Laurie Kingery's seventeenth published novel!

So You Want To Write A Series

Now that it's November, my fourth book in the "Brides of Simpson Creek" series for Love Inspired Historicals, The Rancher's Courtship, has hit the shelves. It's made me stop and reflect about how I started the series, and what I've learned along the way, series and a few things I wish I'd known.

Series are vastly popular with genre readers, especially in romance. Even if you aren't writing a series, some readers may assume you are, and will ask if certain secondary characters will be featured in the next book. This may lead to writing a series when you hadn't even planned to. My series, the Brides of Simpson Creek, however, came along at a time when I was tired of having to "build a new world" each time I started a new manuscript, complete with a locale, secondary characters, and businesses, such as a particular saloon, or mercantile. (Yup, I write western romance.) I developed what seemed like a unique concept, the mail-order groom instead of bride. (If you wrote this concept first, ten years ago or so, please don't burst my bubble).

I designed a town, Simpson Creek, Texas, set it in the hill country near San Saba, and gave it a reason to need mail-order grooms—the lack of eligible bachelors following the War Between the States (also known as the Civil War if you're a Yankee). I gave the plot a plucky young miss discontent to remain an old maid, had her set up a group of like-minded ladies and place a newspaper ad—the 1860's version of online dating!

I started writing before computers so I still do a lot of planning on paper—no elaborate spreadsheets for me. On a piece of paper I wrote out the physical characteristics of each main character in one column, important facts in another, the names of secondary characters in another. The names of the first group of ladies in "The Spinsters Club" got their own column, and as the series developed, I had to keep track of what spinsters had found their matches—for not each spinster would get her own book. Each contracted book got its own page, and I still refer back to previous books, because I started writing the series in 2009 and it's all too easy to forget details after writing four of the stories. No fact is too small to write down—a throwaway character in the first book might have a pivotal role five books later.

I was well into the first book, which became MAIL ORDER COWBOY, before I got to visit the actual site of my fictional Simpson Creek—and discovered there really had been a community called Simpson Creek on the site. Spooky, huh? While there, I found a historic tree, the Marriage Oak, to use in my third story, THE SHERIFF'S SWEETHEART.

The ladies of my Spinsters' Club have married, had babies, (and in one case, went crazy and lost her life because of loving the wrong man), and the one thing I wish I'd started from the beginning was a comprehensive timeline so I could remember what book happened in what months of what year. It's been useful to visit http://www.timeanddate/com to see when the full moons were, and what date coincided with what day of the week—not because I think most readers care, but because in the heat of writing I may accidentally mention two full moons in one month. I keep a running narrative—also on paper—of several sentences telling what happens in each chapter, including the dates it took place.

Your mileage may vary if you write a series, but these are the hints that work for me. You may work with elaborate spreadsheets, but I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer and just need a little structure to help me keep from completely flying off into the mist and getting lost.

I hope you'll take the time to have a look at my trailer for THE RANCHER'S COURTSHIP on my website at because it's the coolest thing, I think, that I've ever done for promotion. My videographer, Barbara Hunt of Paperback Flyers, is a genius. She's found images and music that totally fit my story and melded them all into a pleasing minute and thirty seconds that makes you really want to read the book. At least I hope it does! If you're interested in having a trailer made, her prices are very reasonable.

THE RANCHER'S COURTSHIP is available in November wherever books are sold, at online sites such as,,, and Please visit my website at

Thanks, Elaine, for giving me the opportunity to talk about my books!

By Laurie Kingery