Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I’m taking a vacation from this blog for two weeks, but wanted to end 2012 on a high note. It turned out to be spectacular.

On Thanksgiving day my husband and I had dinner with four neighbors and then spent a relaxing evening enjoying the balmy California desert weather on the host’s beautiful patio. So it was after nine when we came home. My computer was still on, so I went into my office and clicked on my e-mail. I found a message from an editor to whom I’d sent the entire manuscript of EYE WITNESS, a woman-in-jeopardy mystery novel, more than four months before. In it, she offered a contract to publish the book.

I rushed to tell Hubby and then read the sample contract the editor had thoughtfully provided. A good one, with excellent terms and generous e-book royalties. In fact, no problems that we’re warned to watch out for. My friend and co-author agreed.

Carole and I wrote this book many years ago, when I still lived in San Francisco. She and I met in a writing class and soon realized our styles were complementary. She’s a “word” person and I’m a “story” person. First we “brainstormed” the plot of the book and then I wrote the first chapter. I called it “down and dirty.” Then I gave it to Carole and she used her language skills to improve it, adding descriptions, images, metaphors and similes. We wrote the entire book that way and, over the years, as each of us learned more about writing, we revised it a bit. Sometimes a rejection provided improvement ideas as well.

We wrote three books together, the first, SOUTHERN STAR, finally published by Avalon Books in 2010. I wrote about it on this blog, pointing out that I sent the book out nineteen times (twice to Avalon) before it sold. As of October, Amazon having bought Avalon Books, it’s a Montlake Romance and available in both paperback and e-book instead of only hard cover.

EYE WITNESS was our second book and I sent that one out--via query, partial or complete manuscript--forty-one times since 2005. Twice we were offered contracts, but something happened and the deal fell through. It’s due out in August, and our publisher is on the Mystery Writers of America approved list so we should be eligible for an Edgar Award. (I can dream, can’t I?)

The third book is a romantic suspense novel and--between forty-five submissions since 2002--has been rewritten more times than we can remember. Dare we hope for another contract for 2013?

But, wait, there’s more.

Five days after Thanksgiving, I received another e-mail from another publisher about another book, this one a contemporary romance written solely by me. Once more, the contract is author-friendly and the book is due in March. Carole’s second solely written novel, THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU was released in November and she’s working on her third. Could any two authors have such a happy holiday season?

We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and that the New Year will bring you the same kind of joy we’re so thrilled to report.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Until that morning, I didn’t know Saturday, December 8, was “Pretend You’re a Tine Traveler” Day. Except for Ken Denmead in WIRED and The Passive Voice which reported his article. I’d never have known. I would have loved to follow some of the suggestions offered. Of course you can’t tell anyone that you’re a time traveler, so whatever you do will be a surprise to them and a chance for you to have fun.

Imagine going up to a statue - any statue - and kneeling in front of it screaming, “No! No!”

Or asking someone what year it is and then responding, “Then it’s not too late,” before running off.

Or how about being terrified of airplanes overhead, or pretending you’ve never seen a revolving door, or talking back to a television set? My favorite is handing someone a trinket or a rock along with a phone number and then saying, “In 30 years call this number. You’ll know what to do.” before running away.

It reminded me of a friend I talked about in this blog about a year ago. He and his wife would get in a crowded elevator and then begin to talk to each other, relating a suspenseful tale as if it were real, and then getting off the elevator before the end.

I think we should all have days in which we do things like that. However, unfortunately - as I said in another blog - I’m an Introvert and probably would never really do it. How about you? Have you done something like that? Or would you like to?

The Passive Voice


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Several articles appeared last week about well-known traditional publisher, Simon & Schuster, starting a self-publishing division. Called Archway Publishing, it’s actually run by Author Solutions, a vanity press in business for some time. As Victoria Strauss reports in WRITER BEWARE, despite the S&S name, it’s the same old game, milking the author. With prices starting at $2000 and “services” that can add up to as much as $25,000, Archway promises to do what Amazon can do almost for free.

S&S is only the most recent of big New York publishers starting a new line to capitalize on the Indie publishing revolution going on. Instead of opening their doors to all authors--not just those with agents--and offering advances and decent royalty rates for e-books, they start a company with a different name. This is apparently a ploy to fool newbie writers that, although they won’t be paid the same as titles self-published with Amazon, they have the prestige of a big name to make it seem legitimate.

I sincerely hope this won’t lure the unwary into wasting time and effort, only to end up with a contract that will hurt them in the long run. Because authors who have seen these contracts are warning writers not to fall for the scam.

Okay, I get it. Not every writer has the time, energy or desire to self-publish, but he/she needn’t feel that it’s an either-or world. There are plenty of small publishers--many having been in business more than a decade--who can do a fine job of producing your book, and won’t require the equivalent of giving up your first-born son to do it.

On my desk right now are two contracts, from two different publishers regarding two different books. True, they pay no advance, but the royalty rates are excellent, they offer a time-limited contract (for a few years, not the life of your copyright) and have none of the deal-breaker clauses authors and bloggers like Kristine Kathryn Rusch warn about.

The second contract had a Non-Compete clause, the first time I’ve ever seen one, although, of course I knew about them. I suggested a change to the wording in that paragraph to make it fair to both of us, but the publisher simply removed the entire clause. Any contract is negotiable. Ask for what you want. It really works.

Writer Beware
Kristine Kathryn Rusch