Down With Love

Not really. It’s just…I’ve spent my writing career trying to hone my romance skills. I’ve had a lot of help from editors along the way. I know how to do it, It’s just…I don’t want to do it. Or, when I’m using the part of my mind that makes stories, it’s using me, and it’s taking me off course into unchartered water. My mind likes to play. It likes to explore. It likes to try new things. It likes a mess of character named Lily.

I’ve started my third book with Lily as a character and this time she gets top billing. In fact, I don’t think I’ll use any other point of view but hers. After a book with four POVs, this is a challenge and also exciting. Although it’s too soon to tell if some other person might just insert themselves into the story and demand a voice. I’m pretty sure Lily will not have a romantic interest, although that is also too soon to tell.

As I jot my way through the first draft on a sort of working vacation, Lily’s solving a murder she stumbles on in the course of her private investigations into the affairs of married people. Spouses who suspect their other half of cheating hire her to get it on film. She does it because she’s building her business and right now that’s the work she’s being offered.

She doesn’t have time for love. And that makes me feel a bit unmoored. I’ve had a love story in every book I’ve written. This is the tenth, at least the published tenth. Or I hope it will be. I’m not sure I can cut it as a mystery writer with no love story stuck in there. One reason is because in my real life, love is huge. I don’t know how people get along without it. Of course I don’t know how to solve a murder either, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to figure it out.

There’s something about raising the bar of what I can do on the page that excites me. I did that, now can I do this? I’ve actually got a lot of plans that involve my writing life. One is the part about going out into the world and signing books at events around town. I don’t do much of that, but I’m going to start. The other is finding a new agent. Maybe. Then there’s Sleuthfest, the big mystery conference in Miami, where I’m heading today.

Learning new things has always turned me on. Plotting the perfect murder. Diagramming a mystery worth the read. Letting Lily be who she is, a young woman intent on finding herself before she even thinks about finding love. And then there’s the whole thing about presenting myself and my work to the public in ways I have not tried before. But that’s an entirely different set of skills. I’m not into teaching workshops. I just retired from teaching and need to give that a rest. But I can hold events that are a little bit different, outside the normal way of things.

This is where my Mac classes come in. The geniuses at Apple have promised to help me learn to make movie trailers. That will be my signature signing event. Showing the trailers, chatting informally about writing. Letting people ask questions. People love to ask questions and I like a dialogue.

I’ve got a steady old love in my life, and he’s great. But what really excites me these days is learning new tricks. Love, well, that’s just old hat.

Photo on 2-26-15 at 8.15 AM

Team Promo

The biggest problem I have with promoting my work is a dire lack of reviews. I know so many people on Twitter and FB and they get hundreds of reviews. One of the first things I heard about finding reviews was to ask people who read the book and liked it to post a short review on Amazon. Ha! I love my friends, but most of them, even if they read the book, are never going to do this.

Just to insert, I do have a few friends who post reviews. You know who you are and you have my eternal gratitude.

So step two is finding reviewers. There are tons of them out there. For my last book, my publisher sent galleys to maybe 20 review sites. I got 2 reviews. I think I might have 8 reviews on one  book, and I don’t know all the reviewers, or I’d send them a big thank you. They could be friends, they could be someone who stumbled upon me by accident.

There’s work to be done to court reviewers. You need to 1. find them 2. ask them 3. send them a galley. And I can’t send to any of the reviewers my publisher sends copies to. That’s called overkill. So there’s a bit of checking and so forth. Does this sound difficult or like a lot of work?

It’s not, it just takes organization and time. I can pay someone hundreds of dollars to find reviewers or I can take a couple hours and dedicate myself to the list I’ve made of reviewers who like the kind of books I write. Contemporary. Small town. Fairly steamy. So finding the right reviewers is like finding the right publisher. Gotta do your homework.

Oh how I wish I had more time to devote to this, but right now I’m wearing two hats. (And my kitchen is a mess. We didn’t even eat at home yesterday so how’d that happen?) BUT happy happy, a new group of people have formed. A small, exclusive group. And I am one of them. We all have a major thing in common, so I know they can be trusted.

I love my new supergroup because these women are team promo. We all have the same goals. Some of us (all of them)  know a lot more than others (me) about the promo game. That’s something I’d tell a new writer: find a group with similar goals to your own and bond. Become a promo team, cheering each other on in various ways.