Has Free Sex Killed Romance?

Today, unlike two generations past, couples engage in sex without a commitment. But has free sex killed romance?

I’ve been noticing for awhile that they don’t make Dr. Zhivagobig romantic movies anymore. For decades, Hollywood made wonderful romantic films. Some of the best were Gone With The Wind (1939), Casablanca (1942), Dr. Zhivago (1965), Love Story (1970). There was even that wonderful time  in the nineties that saw the production of When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), While You Were Sleeping (1995), The Bridges of Madison County (1995) and then more recently, The Notebook (2004). Since then, the romance genre has evolved into supposed love stories, where couples connect—kissing and fondling are fast tracked—and before long, they are ripping each other’s clothes off and having sex.

Films and books, reflecting our times, no longer tell stories of couples moving slowly towards commitment. The so-called courtship period seems to have vanished.

Nor are there many contemporary books that show a couple falling in love and taking time to consummate their relationship. In the fifties, magazine articles asked, “Should you kiss on a first date?” By the seventies, it was “Should you have sex on a first date?” Today, the magazines are explicit about orgasms, how to please your mate, oral sex, and whether Miley Cyrus went too far with her twerking.

bridges of madison countyThe recent number one bestseller was Fifty Shades of Grey. It was no Bridges of Madison County, where a photographer passing through a town falls in love with a married woman hungering for romance and passion. Fifty Shades of Grey is largely a sex story, with all manners of S & M propelling the characters and the simple plot forward. This book would’ve been considered pornography a decade ago, but with every sexual barrier between men and women removed, erotic stories have entered the mainstream.

But has all this free sex killed romance?  Is this why more than fifty per cent of young people are living alone? Do they need company if they can have sex without marriage? I’d love to know what you think. If you think romance still exists—more than on just on Valentine’s Day—why  aren’t films and books in recent years reflecting this more?

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A SUCKER FOR ROMANCE

I’ve always been a sucker for romance. One Gone With The Windof my favorite books is the old classic, Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. The love story between Scarlett O’Hara, the southern vixen, and Rhett Butler, the man who could not be tamed, resonated with readers everywhere.

In real life, and in books and film, it seems that the guys or girls anyone wants are always the unattainable ones. Why is that? Maybe it’s part of the hunt, the chase, knowing or sensing that if only we could get that elusive person, our world would be complete. We will have proven something.

Or is it just nature—that feeling we get when our eyes connect with that special someone and our body responds and we know that he or she is the one? Love is feeling you’re six feet off the ground and floating on a cloud. Those initial feelings—that lust, that desire—builds and deepens over time, like a good wine that improves with age.

So, given all of that, why wouldn’t I write a romance with that kind of dynamic? These  stories sustains us all. They give us hope that there is someone out there that is the perfect fit. Well, not perfect, but as close to perfect as we can get. We meet, connect, mate, have children (or not) and live happily ever after. That’s the dream. Life may not always be like that, but it’s still the dream.

"Love is like the wild rose-briar"....from a poem by Emily Bronte

“Love is like the wild rose-briar”….from a poem by Emily Bronte

Though married many years to the love of my life, I continue to enjoy a good romance. Perhaps reading a well-told love story awakens those first delicious tingles we all get when we meet that certain someone.

Are you a sucker for romance, too? Have certain novels touched you? What are your thoughts on why the romance genre has endured and manages to thrill no matter how old you are?

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More Housekeeping Than I Wanted

housekeeping-clipartNow, I know why I’m not the greatest housekeeper in the world. Details, details. I thought I couldn’t use both Feedburner and Mail Chimp, but I was wrong, so hopefully that’ll work out for both me and my subscribers. If it ain’t broke….

As for housekeeping, I’d much rather sit at my computer than pick up a dust cloth. Of course, I’ll only let things go so far. Yesterday, I picked up a dead fly off my desk. Wonder how long he was there? Was he the one who inspired me to write about a fly?

By the way, is there anyone out there who likes housekeeping? Kudos to you if you do. I’d rather make magic with words.

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Looking for Love in a Mad World

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Heart-shaped stone I found in 2000 on the shores of Gallipoli, Turkey, site of World War I battle

I’ve been so troubled by what’s going on in Gaza and the Ukraine, that I’ve been glued to the news on TV and my Twitter timeline. I’ve been neglecting my writing, which I love to do. It’s hard to fathom why people want to kill someone else.

When I became a clinical social worker decades ago, I thought if only a person had love, they would be fine. If they had a tortured life, I was sympathetic, empathic, thinking again that somewhere along the road they hadn’t received enough love. I learned very quickly that people are more complicated than that. I ran into children that had no conscience. I remember one child who strangled a rabbit to death with his bare hands. He was the child of heroin addicts. He was probably conceived by his mother while she was under the influence of drugs. His father’s semen was probably similarly affected by heroin. This was a child who showed no emotion; he was damaged and sad to say, no amount of therapy was going to change that.

Today, we are bombarded by bad news. I hunger for a time when life seemed simpler, not that it was. There were still atrocities in the world, but we didn’t hear of them. We didn’t have the same depth of coverage, nor did we have social media.

Through the power of social media today, I love that we are connected, but it also means that bad news travels fast.

Despite the horrors on my TV screen, I still have hope. Like the beautiful heart-shaped stone I found on a trip to Gallipoli back in 2000. There on those sandy shores where a bloody battle ensued during World War I between the Turks and the Anzac forces (Aussies and Kiwis), I found hope in the shape of a stone. It lay there, still, reminding me of all the hearts that were lost and broken. It was a mad battle in a mad world. But when I visited with a group of Aussies and Kiwis, it was peaceful. Just the sound of the wind and the waves rippling on the shore.

Yes, there are too many out there who have no conscience, or are misguided, or are extremists with no tolerance for anyone with different views. They’re out there, and they make our lives miserable.  But there are also plenty of wonderful people with love in their hearts. I’m going to continue to look for love in a mad world. I hope the news isn’t getting you down, or unhinged. I hope you have love to fall back on.

In fact, I’ve written a love story, one that crosses timelines. In my novel, A CRY FROM THE DEEP, there are no wars, no explosions, just people trying to make a better world and finding love in unexpected places. Call me a dreamer. Are you a dreamer, too?

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WRITING PROCESS BLOG HOP

When you read all those wonderful books, do you ever wonder about the writer? Where the ideas come from? What a writer’s day is like? What makes them tick? Are they as crazy as their characters, or do they draw from some other well? The writing process blog hop will give you some idea, if you hop along with me.

Thanks to Karen Dodd, for inviting me to take part in this fun event. I met Karen, who lives in West Vancouver, several years ago at the Surrey International Writers Conference. Her enthusiasm for the craft of writing and her positive attitude meant that we became fast friends. Her debut novel, Deadly Switch, is a suspense that grips you from the first page and doesn’t let go. You can read about her writing process here.

Besides sharing with you how my writing brain works, I’ll be introducing you to some writers that have inspired me with their stories. Pamela Cable, J.P. McLean, B.C. Stone and Margaret Strack, will be following me with their blog posts on July 14th.

Now for the questions.

WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

Always something. At the moment, I’ve just finished

My Baba, Lukia Mazurec

My Baba, Lukia Mazurec

revising my grandmother’s story, No Time For Tears, covering the war-torn years between 1915-1929, in what is now western Ukraine. I’m also anxious to revise a novella, The Blue Nightgown, a coming of age story, and The Rubber Fence, a novel about a psychiatric intern, who is so obsessed with her patients on a ward where shock treatment is too often prescribed, that she doesn’t see that her own marriage is in trouble.

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

I’m not sure how to answer that. I do know that I tend to incorporate a lot of characters in my stories. I’ve always complicated things for myself, so why should my writing be any different? My novel, A Cry From The Deep—that’s coming this October—crosses genres. It has romance, history, suspense, adventure and a ghost. My protagonist, Catherine Fitzgerald, is a single parent and a diver, who struggles with the demands of motherhood and career and the question of what went wrong in her own love life. I was a family therapist for over twenty-five years, so some of my ideas, training, and experience creep into my work, and once the words tumble onto the page, I pick up the thread and go with it. So, in that sense, there’s a lot packed in; my novel is close to 400 pages

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

a cry from the deep-ebook coverThere are a lot of reasons, but I can’t not write. I’m compelled to get my fingers on the keyboard. Some works are inspired by family anecdotes, like the story of my grandmother. A Cry From The Deep was inspired by an attempted collaboration of a screenplay years back. We couldn’t come up with a story that worked, but I couldn’t drop the seed that was planted, and kept fussing until I found one. As for The Rubber Fence, it is loosely based on my work on a psychiatric ward a lifetime ago. I’m also anxious to get back to a murder mystery I’ve started. The inspiration for that came from something a friend said over coffee. Had to do with a smell and my imagination took off. Ah, and then there’s my poetry. If only the clock had more hours on its face…

 

HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK? 

I want to say it doesn’t, as I fly by the seat of my pants. I never know quite where I’m going. Oh, I have some vague idea of beginnings and endings but it’s all the stuff in between that comes together without an outline. I start writing and basically ask my characters to take me there. Something they say or do leads me to the next step and the next. If I pay attention, my characters have a way of letting me know what holes I need to fill. If that sounds airy-fairy, it is what it is. I wish I could map it out clearly before I start, but it’s not my style, and I know that I have lots of company in this regard. But having said that, No Time For Tears was guided by the facts my mother left behind. And so for this one, I did have an outline.

I try to write each day, something fresh, or a revision, or both. Then I usually spend the morning reviewing what I’ve written the day before. I keep going like that until the end, and then give the whole story a rest for a few weeks, sometimes a month, then start over in the beginning. I’m always shocked at how much padding I’ve put in and how much I have to delete. I am a believer of writing is rewriting and more rewriting.

Now, let me introduce you to my guest authors and bloggers. Do check them out. You won’t be sorry.

PAMELA CABLE

When Blogger.com was still around, I met TelevengeCoverHiResPamela Cable there. I read her novel Southern Fried Women and was so impressed, that I decided to stay connected.

Born a coal miner’s granddaughter and raised by a tribe of wild Pentecostals and storytellers, Pamela King Cable grew up in Ohio where she caught ladybugs and fireflies, ran barefoot, and practiced cheers in her driveway. Today, she is still fascinated with ladybugs and fireflies, sometimes wears shoes, and talks about the day she traded in her pom-poms for a beat-up typewriter.

After living over a decade in the south, she returned to Ohio where she continues to cheer for the Buckeyes. She is a multi-published author whose most recent novel, Televenge, has attracted national attention from Fox News, CBS Atlanta, a major Hollywood film producer, as well as book bloggers and media outlets all over the world. Writing fiction steeped in Bible-belt mystery and paranormal suspense, Pamela has gained a reputation for piercing the hearts of her readers. She has taught at many writing conferences, and speaks to book clubs, women’s groups, national and local civic organizations, and at churches across the country.

You can find Pamela Cable at http://www.pamelakingcable.com or http://www.southernfriedwoman.blogspot.com

J. P. MCLEAN

Awakening cover for DStevan256x400I met Jo-Anne a year or so ago, when she came to Campbell River, B.C., to share her experience of self-publishing with my writers’ critique group. I found her to be generous with her time and information and so encouraging. When I read The Gift: Awakening, the first in a trilogy, I was stirred by both her imagination and her prose.  She has since written the other two books, The Gift: Revelation and The Gift: Redemption. When you pick up her novel, you will be surprised to discover what the gift is, one many of us have dreamed about having.

J. P. McLean says she’s been neglecting the vacuum, the dog leash and kitchen duty since she began telling lies and making up stories. She calls it writing fiction and indulges in it most days from her home in the Gulf islands on the coast of British Columbia.

You can find JP McLean at www.jpmclean.net 

B.C. STONE

I stumbled across Bryan’s blog Belmar coveronline. I was immediately enthralled by his style and critical thinking. He writes posts on various books and authors with such clarity that his musings are both accessible and thought-provoking.  Murder at the Belmar, has more than a touch of Hollywood in it and a dead body in a glamorous hotel. Who doesn’t like that? And don’t you just love this cover?

B. C. Stone is also the author of Coda in Black, and Midnight in Valhalla. He is currently working on Peril in Paradise, the third entry in the Kay Francis mystery series. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Prior to writing novels he worked as a librarian at the University of New Mexico. You can find his blog on books, writing, and related matters, The Vagrant Mood at: http://vagrantmoodwp.wordpress.com

PEGGY STRACK

A STOP IN THE PARKI connected with Peggy on Linked-In. I noticed that she was a speech and language pathologist, and since I had worked with that profession in the past as a family therapist, I was intrigued that she was also a writer. I read A Stop in the Parkand loved the skill and compassion Peggy showed in her writing about a martial couple struggling to make sense of their relationship

Peggy Morehouse Strack writes popular fiction about challenges people face in the fast-paced and often daunting contemporary world. She published her debut novel, “A Stop in the Park,” in 2012. It is the story of Michael and Jaime Stolis, a disillusioned married couple who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream. It was selected  as a Readers’ Favorite International Award Contest Winner in the Reality Fiction Category in 2013 and received this review from Kirkus, “Strack writes with clear, thoughtful, and passionate prose, making for a tense and compulsively readable story of family redemption.” Peggy is currently editing her second novel and will be seeking agent representation in the near future.

Peggy  is a speech-language pathologist living in Saratoga Springs, NY. She has two adults sons and enjoys an active lifestyle that includes hiking, kayaking, and skiing. She is a contributor to “The Write Draft” Blog: http://thewritedraft.me

If you are interested in reading any of these author’s books, you can click on their titles or book images above.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Comments, always appreciated.   

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A FATHER LIKE NO OTHER

My dad, Peter Klewchuk, was a father like no other, though I’m sure many can say that about their own dads. He wasn’t a perfect man, but as perfect as they come. When I look back at his journey, I see a man who didn’t ask for much, even though he had lots to offer.

His was an immigrant family—three brothers and one sister—living in a two room house in Stony Mountain, a penitentiary town, about eleven miles outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He and his brothers slept on one bed, in a horizontal fashion. His sister slept on three chairs placed together. They may have been poor, but they all excelled in school.

Stony Mountain Classroom, Dad is standing against the blackboard, 2nd on the right.

Stony Mountain Classroom, Dad is standing against the blackboard, 2nd on the right.

Peter was always at the top of his class, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have problems there. When he drew a map by hand, too beautiful to believe, the teacher strapped him, accusing him of tracing it. He was also left-handed, another no-no, and he paid for it with more smacks across that hand when he forgot to use his right.

And then, in grade nine, he made a mistake that cost him any further educIMG_5659ation. After recess, instead of returning to class, he went to play ball in the school basement. That ball reverberated  through the floors and into his classroom. He and his friend  were strapped severely for that infraction.

Dad  decided that was enough, and even though he loved poetry and literature, he quit school that day. His friend wanted to quit, too, but his dad told him that wasn’t an option. Mr. Blackburn, my dad’s teacher—the one who’d strapped him—came to my dad’s house, and begged him to return, even promising to tutor him after school. Dad was stubborn. It didn’t help that my grandfather, thinking he could use another pay check, encouraged his son to work alongside him in the town’s stone quarry. Life was even harder after that, and my dad almost died when he got caught in the quarry’s chute.

IMG_5667By the time he reached his late teens, he was tall, dark, and handsome. Girls chased him, but he wasn’t the type to take advantage. A lover of music, he played the violin by ear, as well as the banjo, and saved what little he kept from his quarry earnings to buy both instruments. He was also a natural athlete, teaching himself how to swim in the gravel pits, and ski on the local hill on barrel staves.

When he married my mother at the age of 28, it was 1938, and the depression had taken its toll. What little money he’d earned and saved, he’d passed on to his father, who had promised him the land next door to the family’s two-room house. He never got it. What surprised me about my dad was that despite the breaks, he was never bitter. An honorable and honest man, he believed in the Ten Commandments, and always treated his father with respect right to his dying day. I never heard an unkind word from him. Just disappointment over not finishing school.

So, Mom and Dad toiled all their lives, taking jobs that meant working seven days a week and then some. They scrimped and saved, and Mom and Dadby the time the 50s rolled around, they were doing pretty well, with a rooming house and another piece of property they rented out. Dad still worked at the meat packing plant inserting salt brine in pork bellies, but he never lost his love for the written word, and would quote Tennyson, Wordsworth and Kipling to me, poems he’d memorized in his school days and had never forgotten.

One thing though. He was as unlike his father as day is to night. He was gentle, full of humor, and love. He showed that by sharing his delight in noticing the new growth on a balsam tree in spring, diving with me for rocks that we’d throw into the sandy-bottomed lakes of Manitoba, tickling me when I tickled him, teaching me to throw a ball and drive a car, and sending me all those newspaper clippings when I moved west with my family.

He may not have left a mark on the world, but he left a mark on me. It’s almost twenty years since he passed, and I still tear up when I think of him and how much I miss him.

If there is something I can impart to others about this coming Father’s Day, it’s to treasure those you love, to take the time to stay connected, as life takes them away all too soon.

I love you, Dad! Happy Father’s Day, wherever you are.

How about you? Any tributes to your dad that you’d like to share? Any special memories?

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Write What You Don’t Know

I’ve heard it over and over again—write what you know. That makes sense, as writing what you don’t know is more difficult in many ways. As an author, how do you get inside your characters, or describe the places where they live or work if you know nothing about the jobs they do, or their communities?

On the other hand, how lovely it is to explore other ways of living, being, working. What a creative challenge it is for the author to get into the mind of someone who has other interests, other goals in life, and gives you a different constellation in which to travel. When you write what you don’t know, you have to let your imagination fly.

It seems best-selling author, Toni Morrison (here in conversation with author Junot Diaz) agrees that it’s often better to to write what you don’t know. 

Though I’ve enjoyed the journey, writing what you don’t know requires not only imagination, but a lot of research. It’s the main reason my novel has taken a long time to write, but I have to underline, it’s been fun.

If you have a peek at my bio. you’ll see that I get bored easily, and as a result changed jobs and occupations often. It stands to reason then that my characters’ pursuits would be different from mine. How else was I going to feed my insatiable curiosity?

Catherine Fitzgerald, the protagonist in A CRY FROM THE DEEP, is an underwater photographer. That’s something I’ve never tried. So not only did I have learn about the business of taking pictures underwater for a living, but also about the ins and outs of scuba diving (without doing it myself, as I’m too cowardly to try).

Chesterman Beach, Vancouver Island

Chesterman Beach, Vancouver Island

However, I do understand something about her passion for the sea, as I’ve snorkeled. I can hear some divers out there guffawing. I know it’s not the same thing. Swimming on the surface of the water has little risk, but at least I can say that I’ve been sufficiently entranced with what lies underwater to delve further.

For research, I went out one afternoon with a group of scuba divers and grilled them about their sport. I also talked to instructors and owners of dive shops, and visited countless web sites for specifics. After reading some of my chapters—which include some diving scenes—a member of my writers’ critique group (who was a diver) expressed surprise that I had never tried scuba diving, as the underwater scenes were believable. What helped my writing was—as I mentioned above—my love of the sea. I am fascinated by what lies beneath, and that love and fascination propelled me to investigate what I didn’t know. Loving the sea as much as I do gave me an in to my character’s passion, her mindset. From there, I wove in everything else.

Here’s another great article published in Writer’s Digest entitled, Why You Should Write What You Don’t Know by Brian Klems.

Have you written about subjects you know nothing about? How far have you stretched yourself? And what do you think about write what you know vs. write what you don’t know? Would love your comments.

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Cover Reveal for A CRY FROM THE DEEP

I’ve neglected my blog for the past month, as I’ve been figuring out when to publish my romantic mystery, A Cry From The Deep. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve rejected a few book covers for one reason or another.

The one I’ve chosen illustrates a woman from another time. She’s the vision Catherine a cry from the deep-ebook coverFitzgerald sees in both her nightmares and underwater. The phantom beckons, but what does she want from Catherine, an underwater photographer, who’s on assignment to photograph the discovery of one of the lost ships of the Spanish Armada? How these two women from different centuries intersect, and why, lies at the crux of my story. A love without end underlines it all.

As I’ve learned, it’s not easy picking the right cover. I’ve seen publishers and successful authors try out a few before settling on one. And even then, it’s not unusual for an author to go back and change it again. A cover speaks volumes. It hints at the story inside.

As for when my book is to be released, I’ve struggled with that as well. It’s basically ready, but then I’ve noticed how careful traditional publishers are in deciding when to launch an author’s book. I’ve learned that spring (a time of book fairs) and fall (ready for Christmas) are best, though I’ve also noticed that there are exceptions to the rule. J.K. Rowling and James Patterson have brought their novels out in summer, when supposedly everyone’s at the beach or traveling. So, maybe it doesn’t matter.

Though my book would make a good beach read, if I got it out now, before I’ve had a chance to read my proof—which arrives sometime this week—I could be making a terrible mistake. I’ve read that it’s a good idea to read your proof twice and have someone else read it as well, not only for any grammatical errors that might’ve been overlooked, but also for sense. So, living by the adage, “haste makes waste”, I’ve elected to publish it in October, a supposedly less hectic time for the reading public. One never knows though, does one? I’ve also started a Facebook page for my book, where I’ll post more about my process and inspiration.

I’d love your comments on my cover, and also on whether you think there’s a good time of year to publish a book. I’d love to hear from authors or readers about any of the above.

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The Challenge of Book Covers

When I was writing A Cry From The Deep, I never gave any thought to a book cover. That’s not unreasonable given that I had to write the novel first. Mine took longer than most because I chose to write about subjects that I didn’t know much about. Also, since I had fully expected to go the traditional route of finding an agent for it, and then a publisher, I figured the publisher would come up with a cover when the time came. I never thought I’d have to figure one out for myself.

So, after realizing I was better off self-publishing, I began to seriously look at what constituted a winning book cover. I looked at bestsellers—mostly romances, since mine is a romantic mystery. I also watched A TED presentation of designing book covers. And I recalled what I’d learned from one episode of the TV series A Work of Art, where artists had to design a cover appealing to readers. It couldn’t be too busy; it had to give some sense of what the book was about; and it had to be eye-catching. You’d think after all that study, choosing a cover would be easy, but it wasn’t.

As my protagonist, Catherine Fitzgerald, is an underwater photographer who is bothered by a spirit underwater, I knew I wanted water on my cover.

From 123f.com

From 123f.com

I gave my short synopsis to Jun Ares, a book cover designer, whose work I’d admired. He had designed some wonderful covers for my friends, author Martin Crosbie and author, Karen Dodd.

Ares came back with two images, both of which I liked. A great start, I thought.

I showed them to my family and friends and found that each cover had its supporters; in fact, the likes were evenly divided between the two.

That was fine, but their comments concerned me.Some said, the woman on the shore looked like a Harlequin novel, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but my book wasn’t that type.

From istockphotos.com

From istockphotos.com

And the other image, of a contorted woman underwater, suggested a murder had taken place – wrong again.

When my filmmaker grandson suggested finding an image that would fit my story better, I did a search and found one I love on a photo site.

It’s perfect, as the spirit in my story has red hair, and is beckoning, much as she does in my novel.  I bought the photo and sent it to Ares, who had the brilliant idea of adding the Claddagh wedding ring which figures largely in my story. So, I’m a happy camper. Whether it appeals to readers or not, it’s too early to tell, as A Cry From The Deep won’t be available until fall. I’ll show you the one I’ve chosen the next time I post.

Even though it’s been said (by  author, George Eliot, in 1860), “don’t judge a book by its cover,” most of us do, as a cover gives some hint about what’s inside.

As an author, have you been happy with your cover(s)? If not, are you thinking of getting a different one? Some authors have printed two different versions, just to ensure a wider readership. And as a reader, how much does a book cover influence your book buying decision? I’d love your thoughts, so please leave a comment.

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Jumping into the Fray of Self-Publishing

It’s spring! What better time to jump into the fray of self-publishing. It’s a time to blossom, so I’m going for it.

Yes, I’ve decided to self-publish my book, A Cry From The Deep, a romantic mystery. I resisted at first, because it’s a hell of a lot of work and money. Also, I know there are so many books out there, at last count, over two million on Amazon alone. Yikes! You have to be half crazy to think your book is going to stand out in that pool. But then again, as my husband says, cream rises to the top. I’ve got my fingers crossed, that my story will resonate with readers.

Magnolia Blossom by Diana Stevan

Magnolia Blossom by Diana Stevan

To be honest, I wanted to go down the traditional road—be validated in that way, get that agent and book publisher behind me, cheering me on—but though I’ve had interest, it’s not to be, and maybe that’s a good thing. I can pick my own cover (daunting, as I could pick the wrong one), and any books I sell, well, the little money that the majority of authors make these days, at least more of it will find its way to my pocket.

As for not having the traditional cheerleaders behind me, there’s no guarantee they’d be there anyway in today’s publishing world. Traditionally published authors now have to work almost as hard as self-published authors in getting the word out. They can no longer rely on their agents and book publishers for that kind of support.

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Cherry Blossoms at Van Dusen Gardens, Vancouver
by Diana Stevan

 

What bothered me most about self-publishing was the fact that the market is flooded with books that haven’t been edited properly. A lot of vanity published manuscripts. As an avid reader myself, and married to someone who also reads a great deal, we are both aware of how many badly written books there are for sale. How is the reader to know what’s worth buying? At least, with traditional books, you know the story has been vetted. What I’m hoping for is word of mouth, still the best way to get your book noticed.

So, having respect for the written word, I’ve taken a number of steps to ensure my book debuts in the best shape possible. And while I’ve been doing that, I’ve been consulting books like Martin Crosbie’s How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle , Anne R. Allen and Catherine Ryan Hyde’s How To Be A Writer In The E-Age, and Jonathan Gunson’s Bestseller Labs website.

I also talked to J. P. McLean, a writer who threw all caution to the wind and  self-published a very imaginative The Gift trilogy. She very generously shared with me her process.

Star Magnolia Tree in our garden by Diana Stevan

Star Magnolia Tree in our garden by Diana Stevan

Here are my steps:

1)     I’ve been so blessed to have my story critiqued by River Writers, a group I belong to in my community:  Kristin Butcher, a prolific and award winning children’s and YA writer; Jocelyn Reekie publisher and writer of children’s and YA books, Shari Green YA writer with a great blog, and Janet Smith, who is writing a science fiction novel.

2)     I’ve also shown my novel to a number of beta readers who’ve given me their thoughts. One of them, Karen Dodd, has recently published her own debut book to great reviews.

3)     I’ve had it macro edited by Marnie Wooding, who’s worked for a publishing house in the past and gave me great notes on my story.

4)     And then I had it copy edited by Laurie Boris, a beautiful writer herself, just to make sure I wasn’t putting out crap with spelling errors and poor grammar.

5)     Then, came the book cover. How I’ve agonized over this one, pouring over books on Amazon, looking at bestsellers, romances, trying to find what works and what doesn’t. Time will tell whether what I’ve chosen is the best one to illustrate what’s behind the covers. My book designer is finalizing the touches.

6)     And formatting. I’m currently in the process of getting that done through Quantum Formatting Services.

7)    And then I’m planning on getting it printed through CreateSpace, which gave me a free ISBN number. And I’ll get it on Amazon’s Kindle, too. Yahoo!!!

8)     But I still haven’t decided exactly when I’ll publish both the print and e-book versions. Will it be May? As I look at my magnolia tree, already blooming, I’m wondering if I can get it out before summer sets in and everyone has already bought their beach books. Or maybe I’ll wait until fall.

If you have any questions or comments about my process, I’m more than happy to let you in on my journey. Also, if you have anything to add, I’d love to hear that, too. Thanks.

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