Book Birthday, Boston, and Bzzhuh?

Happy book birthday to LynDee Walker!  Buried Leads launched this morning, and it is already shooting up the Amazon charts.  Hop on that train early.  Then, when it becomes a movie, you can roll your eyes at all the people who are only just getting into it after it’s earned Emma Stone an Academy Award.  (I’m casting Emma as Nichelle.  Who would you cast?)

I will be in Boston in 3 days, and I can hardly believe that.  Several of you have asked where the Cozy Cat Press booth will be. I don’t have an answer to that yet.  We will get our placement at 7am on Saturday.  Until then, all I can tell you is that we will be in Copley Square, surrounded by books, booksellers, and book writers.  The first person who comes up to me and yells, “TWO IF BY SEA!” gets a special copy of TIARA TROUBLE.  I am so into this whole Boston thing, you have no idea.

I will be tweeting from Boston, so follow @lanelese for details as they develop.  I know my publisher will be tweeting, too.  Follow @CozyCatPress and you’ll be in the know on all things Cozy Cat Press related.

Now, I have to share an anecdote.

I was telling an acquaintance about TIARA TROUBLE, and gave her a bookmark.  We have a bit of a language barrier, so she understood that I had written a book, and that I was heading to Boston for the Boston Book Festival, but she misunderstood that my book was fiction.  She thought I had written a memoir and was so upset for me that my friends had died.  She also thought I was telling her that my actual first name was Tiara, and I had been in Trouble.

She was very concerned, and then, I think she felt a little gypped when I explained the situation as it actually is.

It’s going to take some doing to top this as my favorite book story, so far.  I expect big things, Boston.  Big.


Bacon, Big Game, and Blues–3 New Authors for You to Explore

I met three other lovely authors at the B&N signing yesterday, and I wanted to introduce you to them.

Ann Fisher wrote BETSY’S FIRST BREAKFAST, a picture book, about her childhood pet pig, Betsy.  Betsy’s first breakfast is not as bacon, but as a guest of honor at the table.  Ann told me that this is the first in a series of books about life on a farm, and they appear to be very sweet, lighthearted stories.

I like the mother smacking the boy’s hand, while the family is saying grace.

Lyn Gray wrote another picture book, THE GREAT HUNTER.  It’s several years younger than his reading level, but Thor has already read it a few times because he likes the art and the story is very cute.  Annie is a barky, little terrier, who is trying to catch big game, but can’t quite be quiet enough to keep from alerting them to her stalking.  I resemble this remark and could easily identify with Annie.

Since I have a bouncy dog, I especially enjoyed Annie.

Kartika R. Anderson and I shared a table, and she was lovely.  She brought her mini-memoir about defeating depression through art, TURNING BLUE INTO BLUE.  I haven’t had a chance to sit down with her book yet, but I’m looking forward to it.  She’s getting excellent reviews on Amazon, and you know how much I love a memoir.  Kartika is going to have a signing in Chicago next month, and I really wish I could head up there for that!

Kartika brought some of her art for display and it was beautiful. I am so glad she started painting!

Check out these authors.  All three have more works in the work, and I think you’ll be glad you took the time to investigate.

I’ll Have What She’s Having

I got a nibble on a query for the romance novel.  It is funny how rejection through the submission process can make “erm, we’ll see,” sound like an enthusiastic, “Yes!”  What the publishing house is saying is, “You did well enough on your synopsis, so we’re cautiously optimistic that it wouldn’t be a total waste of our time to look at the full work,” and what it sounds like is Meg Ryan in that diner scene from When Harry Met Sally.

I am saturnine enough to temper my own [frequently] misguided excitement, so the [frequent] disappointments are usually tiny ones.  I did have one that made me sad for a few weeks–if I’m being honest, I’m still very sad over it–but the truly striking, lingering disappointments are rare.

I do attribute most of this to a familiarity with the audition process, as I’ve said a hundred times before.  I don’t take it personally because taste is relative, and taste isn’t always even an issue (as with the agent who told me she already had something too similar in her list. Obvs she liked the idea–she’d already bought one!  But no one needs two purple, patent leather sofas in the living room.)  There’s also the problem of casting John Wayne to play Genghis Khan.  Sometimes, it’s about wanting a name and not caring about the face.

Part of it has to do with blogging, funnily enough.  I put myself out there for criticism almost every day.  I’m always writing and always exposing myself/my writing to the public eye.  I get enough feedback from it that I don’t expect every submission to be received like the birth of Aphrodite.  I’m certainly not immune to criticism or rejection, but I’ve made myself vulnerable through the written word for so long that it’s as natural as talking to strangers on the bus–which is to say, still incredibly uncomfortable, but not impossible, or life-ruining when I don’t get the desired response.

Besides, if I want that book deal, I can’t be afraid of the word no.  I’m going to hear a lot of no.  If you’re trying to publish, you’re going to hear a lot of no.  But it only takes one yes.  It doesn’t matter if you get a million responses that say, “No.”  One little yes will change all that.  And that’s what makes it okay to get excited about the maybe.

Review: The Goats of Santo Domingo–no kidding, it’s great!

VBT_TheGoatsOfSantoDomingo_CoverBannerI signed up for the blog tour of Robert McEvilla’s new romance, THE GOATS OF SANTO DOMINGO, because of the title.  If you have goats in your title, the book either has to be extraordinary, or extraordinarily funny–intentionally, or not.  McEvilla’s story of love and political intrigue is extraordinary.

From the beginning, I was hooked in by McEvilla’s evocative scene setting.  You know exactly where you are as you begin to read.  You know exactly how the humidity would be curling your hair, how the air would smell, how the streets would sound.  It is very easy to step into the world of John Romero’s Santo Domingo–goats and all.

The world is so familiar because it is the first novel McEvilla has based on his experiences in the Dominican Republic.  The world is so enjoyable because McEvilla is such a great writer.

Romero and his love interest, Ramona De Fiesta, are fully fleshed characters who share the point of view in the story telling, with equal weight.  It did take over a hundred pages to find out Ramona’s last name, and I was despairing of her ever getting one, but McEvilla came through with a great, strong female voice.

I’m very glad I chose to read this.  I do enjoy soldier stories, and this is definitely among the top of those I’ve read.  I have no compunctions about recommending this one.

4.5 out of 5 stars for me.


Cover_The Goats of Santo DomingoAbout THE GOATS OF SANTO DOMINGO

Whenever John Romero was asked if he was wounded in Vietnam, he always got a confused look when he replied that his eye was lost in Santo Domingo.

A former baseball player with just six weeks left to serve in the army, John’s plans for making a comeback are interrupted when his unit is deployed to the Dominican Republic, and he finds himself in a combat situation. While dodging bullets, he meets a beautiful Dominican woman, the aloof, Ramona. She inflames the private passions of the paratroopers that view her from their command post. Romero plots a course to win her affections, but the political intrigue and the carnage in the streets of Santo Domingo conspire to thwart his every move, forcing him to make a drastic decision.

An Excerpt

A coil of concertina wire stretched down the middle of the street between the sandbags Romero stood behind and her turquoise house. Behind him was a schoolhouse that his unit had occupied since their arrival. The old structure reminded Romero of the Alamo.

“Keep your eye on that house,” Rosen had said to him. “You’ll see her if you get posted at the sandbags; she comes out every morning around nine and reads a book for half an hour—a real beauty queen.”  Romero had heard the other men in his squad talking about her.  They referred to her as Miss Santo Domingo, the Princess, or the Dominican Damsel.

The door opened on the brightly painted stucco house.  She wore a short white skirt, the hem well above the knee.  The lawn chair she held was unfolded with a nobility of motion, the way a virtuoso opens his violin case.  She sat down, crossed her shapely legs, and opened a book before setting it daintily on her lap.  For a confused moment, Romero was convinced she was Carla.  He stepped out from behind the sandbags and was a few strides off the curb before the coiled barbs stopped him.  The closer view made him see that it wasn’t Carla after all.  She was somebody else—a stranger—both mysterious and recognizable.  She was perhaps Miss Swanson, his fourth grade teacher to whom he had written his first love letter and hid it in his school bag.  There was a bit of Anna about her, too, the little girl who’d lived across the street from him when he was twelve.  She was someone who had once held him tight, but not close enough—someone who had left and gone away.

A real Spanish Contessa, he thought.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Robert McEvilla Robert McEvilla is a retired stationary engineer who lives in a log cabin in the backwoods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. His short stories have been published in various literary magazines. This is his first novel which is based on his experiences in the Dominican Republic.



How to Write a Press Release for Your New Novel

I have written a lot of press releases in my time.  They take about 30 minutes tops, but can have a great, lasting effect for your new release.

Think of your press release as a birth announcement.  It needs to be short and sweet, letting the reader know what kind of baby you had, how much it weighed, how long it was, what you named it, where it was born…  You get the idea.  It should be one page, unless you’re introducing Pottermore, and then you can do whatever you like.

Following is a sample based on my own press release.

press release

Beside your contact info, include a picture of you, or your publishing house logo.  Then, be sure you have the following:

  1. The announcement.  What do you want released to the press?  If you are self-published, skip the bit about the publishing house, but if you are releasing your own announcement for your publishing house, be sure to include it.
  2. City, State, and Date.  This is important for helping pressrooms decide whether or not your release is newsworthy to them.
  3. Your book blurb.
  4. Your book info–where can people find it?  How long is it?  What is the ISBN?
  5. Your author info.  This is the place to shine.  If someone isn’t interested in your book blurb, they might be interested in you.  Sell yourself as much as the book.  What makes you unique?  Why are you the best person to write about your subject?
  6. Your publishing house info.  Give your publisher credit.  Again, this is a sales tool.  If someone doesn’t know much about your book, or you, maybe they recognize the publisher and give you a shot based on their reputation.
  7. Somewhere in there, put a picture of your book cover.

That’s it.  You can do that!  You do not need to pay someone to do that for you.

Next week, I’ll tell you how to send it out.  You don’t really need anyone to do that for you either, though it does take some time.  But you’re a writer!  The next time you are procrastinating over writing a scene, you can send out press releases 😉  That’ll buy you some good time.