Monday, April 15, 2013
Prices for ebooks have been steadily declining over the past year. Some of this is due to the publishers' settlement with Amazon. Although this affects books by the major publishers the fallout affects prices for self-published books, too. If you self-publish, you can set the price for any amount you want with certain minor restrictions. However, if best sellers are selling for $7.00 and some as low as $.99 it doesn't make sense to price yourself out of the market.
If you want to make money, you have to follow the price trends. This means most self-published books should be priced no higher than $3.99, unless you have a niche market that guarantees sales. The problem is that if you price your books between $3.99 and $.99 you have to sell a lot of books to make any money at all. Unfortunately, although there are some best-selling self-published authors, most of us are not in that category.
Most self-published authors don't make much money from their books even with higher prices, so the question is why do you write. In today's market, more of us can become published authors, but very few of us will become rich. For me, this issue is: how much do you love writing? If it's something you have to do to make yourself happy, it's easy. You keep writing no matter what the prices are and even whether you get published. If you want fame and fortune, in today's market you may be better off trying to get on Survivor. For me, I'll keep writing. I treasure the people who buy my books, and I will keep trying to do my best for them . . . no matter what the price, or how much money I make. It's the psychic rewards that are important.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
I asked Alison some questions about here experience writing One Traveler:
1.Why did you decide to write Traveler?
I was a teenager and had just read Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I wanted to tell a story about the Civil War from a “northern” angle. Over the years, I worked on other projects, but I always returned to One Traveler. The work wouldn’t let me go. Of course it has morphed into something very different from what it was when I began at the age of fifteen! The book deals much more with the Underground Railroad than the Civil War.
2.What kind of research did you do for the book?
I read everything I could get my hands on about the Civil War and the Underground Railroad. I traveled to Sidney’s hometown of Roswell, Georgia, where I toured old homes and absorbed the ambience. I also spent a lot of time at the Luzerne County Historical Society, looking at maps of Wilkes-Barre and reading microfilm issues of newspapers from 1860. And of course, as I revised the book, the internet was invaluable—supplying information on period dress, allowing me to search the pages of a cookbook from 1865, and even showing me how to load an Enfield Rifle Musket.
3.Who was your favorite character and why?
It would have to be Rachel White, the Yankee girl who captures Sid’s heart. She is spirited and strong . . . and I think she became that way as I revised the book. I originally pictured her this way, but somehow readers saw her as a weaker character. I changed some events and those changes brought out her inner beauty and feisty attitude.
4.How long did it take you to write the book? How much revision did you do? Any tips for other authors when taking on an historical novel?
I’ve already hinted at how long it took. Twenty years! But this was not twenty years of constant work on the novel. I went to college, got married, had children, and worked on other writing projects during this time. I’m sure I revised it ten times or more. My writing and the work itself changed so much over those years that it’s hardly the same book.
My advice to authors taking on an historical novel would be to keep careful records. And don’t assume that you’ve already checked out historical facts. I found myself so caught up in the process of creating that I made things up and later on I couldn’t remember if I’d researched them or not. I would have saved some time if I’d highlighted those questionable sections and made a note to research them.
5.How did you find a publisher?
God and my husband worked together on this one! I had decided to go to a publishing workshop on the day of my daughter’s 5th birthday party. Well, that day came and of course I thought I had too much to do. I told my husband there was no way I could go. He proceeded to push me out the door and tell me everything would be fine! So I went, and the workshop was led by Lee Sebastiani of Avventura Press. On a whim, I told her about my book and she loved it!
6.What's your writing schedule? Do you have any tips for beginning writers?
As a busy mother, this is difficult. I don’t believe in robbing myself of sleep or my husband and children of my presence in order to write. It’s all about balance, though, because I know I cannot be a good mother or wife if I don’t make time to write. At this point, I dedicate one day and one evening a week to writing. Sometimes life interferes with this, but for the most part I am able to use this time well. The most important tip I have is to use the time you have to write. Don’t wait for inspiration. It will come if you are faithful about doing your creative work.
Blurb for One Traveler:
Sidney elbowed his way towards the courthouse where the marshals led the fugitives. As they reached the courthouse steps, one of the Negroes broke away from the deputy that held him. He took off running straight towards the crowd, as though he expected the people to part and make a pathway for his escape.
Shouts came from the group of people behind Sid.
Some cheered. “He’s escaping! Run! Run for your life!”
Others clamored, “Stop him! Don’t let him get away!”
As the fugitive bolted by the front of the crowd, Sidney burst towards him and knocked him to the ground. The man was strong. He fought hard. But someone was helping Sid and together the two of them wrestled the darky until he lay face down on the ground. His taut muscles relaxed. Sid kneeled on his legs while the marshal tied his hands behind his back. Panting, Sid looked up to see who had come to his aid. Joshua Smith was holding the runaway’s shoulders to the ground. He winked at Sid.
“We stopped this nigger in his tracks, eh partner?”
Sid’s stomach turned. He stood up and the marshal helped the fugitive to his feet.
“Wilson!” he said to one of the deputies. “You hold this one.”
The deputy complied and the marshal turned to Sid. “I’m Marshal Jacob Yost.”
Sid shook his hand. “Sidney Judson.”
“On behalf of the United States Government, I’d like to thank you for your assistance.”
Sid nodded. “My pleasure, sir.”
Marshal Yost went to Joshua then. Sid turned his back on the runaways and stole a cautious glance towards the crowd. He’d seen them around town, but most he hadn’t met. Then he saw Bill Gildersleeve, towards the rear. Their eyes met and Mr. Gildersleeve shook his head with a frown. Sid looked away, searching the other faces. Some turned to leave. Mr. White was nowhere in sight. Rachel stood in the center of the square, her hat hanging behind her windblown head.
A hand clapped him on the shoulder. It was Joshua.
“I knew having a southerner in town would come in handy,” he said.
Sid swallowed. “Uh... thanks. Thanks for your help.”
The marshals led the bound fugitives into the courthouse. Joshua left with the remnants of the crowd. But Sid stood by the courthouse, his hat in his hand, wondering what he had just done.
He wandered next door and sat on a wooden bench by the public office. He stared down at his hat. Dark spots appeared in the dust on the street below as sweat dripped from his forehead. What had possessed him? Loyalty to the law? He ran his fingers through the thickness of his hair.
In time, the officials came out of the courthouse with the fugitives and led them towards the marshal’s rig, waiting by the office. Just before the darkies were put into the carriage, the one Sid had wrestled broke free again and began running desperately toward Main Street, his hands still tethered behind his back.
“Stop!” One of the deputies yelled, drawing his handgun. “Stop! Or I’ll shoot!”
He kept running. He did not see Sid as he ran by him. The deputy fired. The black man fell, writhing in pain, holding his leg with both hands. Sid rose from the bench. The deputy ran over to the black man. Sidney began to follow. The Negro groaned. Blood covered his hands as he held his leg.
“I’ll teach you to run away from a U.S. Marshal!” the deputy pointed his gun at the pitiful figure.
Sidney felt as though he were watching something from a dream. He saw the deputy’s hand as his index finger squeezed the trigger. A shot rang out, echoing on the buildings around the Square. The Negro’s body jerked as the bullet hit his chest. He fell back, his eyes meeting Sid’s for a split-second before they glazed over. A cold fist seemed to hit Sid in the stomach. He gasped.
“There was no call for that,” he said.
Sidney turned and looked at Marshal Yost, standing by the rig.
“Damn you, Wilson!” he called. “You’re going to catch some flack for that.”
He put the remaining Negro in the rig with the other deputy. Then he strode over to Wilson, who stood silent by the body.
“I ought to take away your badge—at least for a while.” He shook his head. “Go into the courthouse and get the Sheriff.”
Wilson nodded and started toward the courthouse.
Sidney turned his back on them. He walked fast towards Market Street, taking big gulps of fresh air. But as soon as he thought his stomach was settling, guilt washed over him again. He was responsible for another death.
Review - Five Stars:
Romance, a Moral Dilemma, a Family Secret
Heartbroken after the death of his parents, Sid leaves his home in Georgia and travels north to Pennsylvania to be with his aunt and uncle. On the eve of the Civil War, he's leaving behind his sweetheart, Catherine, and his whole way of life. In Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, he's exposed to his aunt and uncle's involvement in the Underground Railroad. Helping people is good, but this is in direct conflict with the law. He misses Catherine, but there are other girls in the north who challenge his allegiance to his almost fiancée. He is also faced with the mystery of why his father ran away from Wilkes Barre. Was it is Southern identification, or something else?
I enjoyed this novel. Sid is a sympathetic character. His life is in upheaval. His ideals and the underlying story of his life are being shaken to the foundations. His struggle is something anyone can relate to. The other characters are equally well drawn. We can understand his aunt and uncle's worries about how he will act when he learns about their involvement with the Underground Railroad and their delight at having family back in the north.
The historical perspective is accurate, except in one instance where the author indicates she took license with the facts to improve the drama. I recommend reading the historical notes at the end of the book for additional information on the period.
This is an excellent book for both young adults and for adults interested in the Civil War era.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Welcome to Nancy Famolari's Place. “Yellow Diamond Caper” is my sixth novel, but it's a new setting for me me. Las Vegas always seems to mean romance and adventure, so this book takes you to Las Vegas.
If you're interested in how The Yellow Diamond Caper was written, checkout the post (http://nancygfamolari.blogspot.com/2013/01/turning-short-story-into-novel.html) on this blog. The book is available from Amazon.
I'm giving away a free copy of Yellow Diamond Caper, if you leave a comment on this post. I will put the names of those who comment in a hat and have my husband pick the winner. I will announce the winner on a post on this site. I will contact the winner directly if you leave an email address. The choice is a signed paperback copy of the book, or an ebook
Kaylyn is convinced her husband, Alex, is having an affair with Marcia, his assistant. Straightening up the bedroom, Kaylyn shakes out his pants, and a huge yellow diamond falls out. It's almost their anniversary. It must be her present. She tries it on, but it won't come off. She's already late. She and Alex are due at a party. Hiding the diamond in her palm, she hopes no one will notice, but at the party, Bruce, Marcia's husband, sees the ring and immediately recognizes it as one he designed for his wife. Kaylyn is crushed. Her fears about the affair are confirmed. Leaving the party, she sees a brochure for Fantasy Romance. Why not? Furious, she takes off for a week in Las Vegas, but someone is trying to make her leave. Did the yellow diamond follow her?
Navy blue suit pants lay crumpled on the bedroom floor where Alex tossed them the night before. Kaylyn sighed and stooped to pick them up. Why couldn’t husbands hang up anything? When he came from work, Alex tossed his clothes at the chair; when he missed, which was frequently, he left them on the floor. Then he wondered why they were wrinkled. She grasped the pants by the cuffs, aligned the seams, and gave a vigorous shake to find the creases. Something fell out of the pocket, hit the Chinese rug and bounced onto the hardwood floor under the dresser with a musical clink. He’d probably left his lucky silver dollar in his pocket again.
She shoved back the wisps of dark hair escaping from her pony tail. She was already running late. Now she’d have to crawl around on the floor searching for the coin.
She dropped to her knees. Her cheek touched the floor as she bent over to peer under the dresser. Something that looked like a piece of rock had rolled into the back corner. He must have gotten a new lucky piece. Gingerly, she thrust her hand under the dresser and felt around on the polished boards. Alex would be furious if he couldn’t find one of his precious possessions. She sighed. She was going to be late getting dressed for the evening, and he would be furious anyway. Tonight was his big night, the announcement of his promotion. He’d warned her to be on time.
She raked her fingers across the floor, encountering only a few dust bunnies. Ugh, she should do a better job of cleaning. Trying one last time to reach the object, she lay flat on her stomach and pushed her hand as far back as she could. Her fingers touched something smooth and hard. She pulled it toward her and closed her hand over it. It felt like a ring. Sitting back on her heels, she opened her hand. A huge oval diamond, the color of summer sun, radiated sparkles of light. Kaylyn gasped. She’d never seen such a gorgeous ring. Triangular white diamonds flanked the yellow diamond setting it off to perfection.
Her breath caught in her throat. What was this expensive ring doing in Alex’s pocket? She frowned then a smile crept across her face. She gazed at the plain gold band on her finger. She’d always wanted a diamond engagement ring. Their anniversary was this month. This must be her present. It wasn’t in a box, but . . .
The ring cut into her palm as she hugged it to her heart. He wanted to surprise her, perhaps hide the ring and watch her excitement when she discovered it. She ached to try it on.
Holding her breath, she slid the ring on her finger. It stuck at the knuckle, but she pushed it over. Twisting her hand back and forth, she delighted in the fiery stabs of color. She’d never seen anything so beautiful. He did love her.
A powerful engine roared to a stop outside. Kaylyn gasped. It was Alex’s Porsche. She should have been ready by now. Desperately, she twisted the yellow diamond. It wouldn’t come off.
Meet Nancy Famolari:
Nancy Famolari splits her time between her farm in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania and a smaller farm near Ocala, Florida. She and her husband love riding their Paso Finos in the Endless Mountains and in the Goethe Forest near Ocala. She is the author of the Montbleu Murder series. The Endless Mountains, a lovely rural area with many small towns dating from the early 1800s provides background for the novels in this series. She also writes romance novels about her experiences racing, breed ina and training standardbred horses for harness racing. For more information visit her site.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
One way to get an idea for a novel is to resurrect a short story with good characters and an intriguing plot and take it further. I did this recently, and after a struggle, I was pleased with the result.
The short story was one of the first I'd written. A stay-at-home wife worries that her husband is having an affair with his administrative assistant. When wedding rings fall out of his pocket, she thinks they're her anniversary present, it means he loves her. But they belong to his administrative assistant. She finds this out in the middle of a party. Believing that this is confirmation of the affair, she turns and walks out on him. I like this short story. It showed a woman who had been subservient to her husband, and lost her own identity in the process, getting her spunk back.
The first transition into a novel was a romance novelette of approximately 12,000 words. The woman takes walking away from her husband one step further and flies to Las Vegas for a Fantasy Romance weekend. She meets an eligible man, becomes friendly with one of the other women, and is asked to fill in for the wedding planner who has just had a baby. Of course, her husband shows up trying to get her to go home, but now she's more sure of herself and won't do exactly what he asks.
The novelette was all right, but it didn't have much vitality. I still liked the main character and I particularly liked the new characters I invented for the Las Vegas scenes. I put the novelette away for awhile and then decided to expand it once more to a full 60,000+ word novel.
Typically, I write romantic suspense so I brought in a mystery. Now the woman finds a huge yellow diamond ring in her husband's pocket. When she gets to Las Vegas, the diamond turns up in suspicious circumstances, and there's a mystery to solve as well as a wedding to plan.
The lessons I drew from the following are:
- If you have strong characters you like, don't give up on them just because the short story or novelette doesn't quite work.
- When you expand into a novel, use as much of the plot as makes sense. This may mean throwing out some of your favorite scenes, but they may no longer be relevant in the longer work.
- Do a careful job of expanding the plot. This isn't as easy as it seems. It took me at least ten tries to make the ending mesh with the beginning. I'm finally happy with it.
Turning a short story into a novel isn't necessarily quick or easy, but it can be rewarding, if you're able to save the lives of some of your favorite characters.
The Yellow Diamond Caper is now available from Amazon.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Editing is not the creative fun part of writing where you let your imagination run wild. However, it has it's own pleasures. I find it satisfying to cut and polish a a piece of writing until it says exactly what I want. I don't always succeed, but it's challenging to try.
Editing has three phases. The first phase takes your rough draft and hones it into a story that carries the reader into your fictional space. This phase can be unsettling because it may require cutting large hunks of your manuscript and reordering scenes. In this phase, one pass may not be enough, but you can move on to the second phase and come back. There are no rules for how many times you should run through a manuscript. Even ten or fifteen times may not be too many. On the other hand, two or three passes might be enough.
In the second phase, you reword clumsy sentences, find the exact word you want to express your thought, and flesh out scenes and characters. For me, this phase takes several passes. I suspect it does for most people and can lead to a return to phase one after you decided exactly what you want to say and what sequence of events works best.
The third phase is copy editing. This is the time to perfect your grammar, find typos, and correct format issues. In some respects, it's the most tedious phase, but perhaps the most important for the sake of your reader. Readers typically don't like to reread sentences several times because you've left out a comma that would make the whole thing clear.
I recently reviewed a book, APE – How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. They consider this phase so important they suggest you hire a copy editor. This is good advice, if you can afford it, but first I suggest you polish up your grammar and spelling and give the book a good pass yourself. Copy editors are not perfect, and you need to know whether you've hired a pro, or someone trying to make a buck by fooling the unwary. It's also true that there is a certain amount of flexibility in punctuation rules. Commas, for instance, seem sometimes to be a personal preference, at least that's my observation on the basis of the books I've read, many of them by major publishers. However, there are some rules for commas that do apply to all writing.
So editing may not be classified as fun, but there's something tremendously satisfying when you hold your book and know it's the best you can make it. By the way, Kawasaki and Welch have written an extremely useful book, it's worth a look.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
I'm a pantser; I admit it.The easiest way for me to write the first draft of a new novel is to simply do it. That doesn't mean I do no planning. I spend time working out the plot in my head and getting to know the characters. Most important I decide on the endgame. I have to know where I want the characters to end up, but in the middle I find it easiest to let each day's scene evolve from the day before.
This method works well for creating the first draft, but it comes with a penalty. Often my time sequences are off. This is a serious problem in the mysteries I write. Events must happen in a particular sequence so that the ending is believable and comes as something of a surprise to the reader, but is buttressed by clues along the way.
I solve this problem by making a detailed timeline once the draft is finished, and I've had a chance to get away from it for awhile. It sometimes takes a bit of rewriting to assure that all the events happen in the proper sequence, but by then I know my characters, setting, and plot so fixing the details is easier.
This is the season of Nanowrimo when writers are encouraged to just write the novel. I think it's great advice. At least at the end you have something to work with. So, pantsers, enjoy the creative month of November. January is a good month to step back and work on the timeline of your novel.