Tag: Teach Me to Forget

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Make Your Own Luck

February 19, 2013 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , ,

Monica Stoner, Member at Large

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the ‘luck’ intrinsic for success in the publishing world. And it sounds like a great discussion.  Except, well…hogwash.  Yeah, you heard me right, that’s pretty much a lot of bilge water emptying into the ocean.  Sure there’s luck involved.  Absolutely some writers just happen on to the right publisher, the right agent, at the right time.  But, as Harry Stone (Night Court…remember him?) pointed out, he might have been on the bottom of the list of judges to appoint, but he was on the list.  He had done the work and made the effort to qualify for that list.
By the same token, we can gag at the overwhelming popularity of writers whose books just aren’t that good, at least in our educated minds. We can point fingers at the lack of logic, or the grammar issues, but the fact is they’ve written those books, generally a lot of those books. And those books are what their fans want to be reading. While we’re stressing over the poor writing, they’ve written another book, and again it’s at the top of the Amazon rankings.
Maybe luck does have something minor part to play in readers enjoying their work.  But luck has nothing to do with them producing that work. As much as we want to bow down to our muse, or curse the lack thereof, the relevant issue here is just plain hard work. They possess a work ethic that has them at the keyboard early and late, that doesn’t allow them to check e-mail or cruise Facebook until their pages are done, and their word count is met.  Are they the best writers in the universe? Maybe, maybe not. But if quality of writing is based on the books which are written, and not those being mulled over in the mind of the writer…then yeah they probably are.
Okay, this is a bit of a whine since my work ethic is pretty much down the tubes. But I’m giving up complaining about luck, and even being envious of someone else’s ability to get things done. All of this produces artificial road blocks to accomplishing any sort of goal…and I’m getting a lot better at setting those goals.  Who’s ready to start that journey of a million words with me???

I realize I’m late putting fingers on keyboard and sharing this month’s thoughts. If you have just a minute more I need to share my thoughts on the loss of a wonderful woman who believed in me when I didn’t always believe in myself. Simply said, be at peace Barbara.  You touched so many lives.

Monica writes as Mona Karel

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Does Book Promo Really Work?

November 19, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , , , ,

Monica Stoner/Member at Large
We’ve all heard the quote “50% of advertising is effective, but no one knows which 50%.”  I’d say for books it’s more like 25% and we really don’t know which 75% is just spinning our wheels.  In an ideal world we would be able to write the best books ever created, and the world would beat a path to our door. Of course in that same ideal world I could have a bagel smothered in butter every morning and lose five pounds a week.
Yeah, that’s not happening either.
So we blog and Facebook, we Tweet and we join Triberr to help ourselves by helping others.  And we sigh in wonder at the success of other writers who don’t seem to be doing anything yet doggonit their Facebook page has 1258 followers.
Some people are a whiz at promotion. I hope you took advantage of Tara Lain when she was there earlier this month.  She’s amazing at promo. And the rest of us stagger along.
In an attempt to come a bit closer to mainstream I took advantage of a current blog hop/tag, The Next Big Thing blog, which turned out to be a lot of fun, since it’s about our WIP instead of the ones already in print, and aren’t we generally far more enthusiastic about what we’re writing than what we’ve written?
Even better, this hop/tag lets us help promote our fellow writers, so I was able to give a shout out to Lex Valentine, as well as several other exciting authors.  You can check it out here: Mona’s Next Big Thing
Yeah, I don’t use Monica when I write, funny story about that.  Then again my name has been a funny family story for most of my life and I ended up sharing that on the Black Opal Blog But Who Am I?
And of all things, Skhye Moncrieff invited me to blog about the inspiration for my first book, and it ended up publishing today.
So it looks like I’ve managed to be in four places at one time. Maybe one of these will be the tipping point for my fabulous success at promotion.  Just in case I’m going to keep on with my NaNo book.
Miss you all

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When You Learn, Teach

October 19, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , ,
“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” Maya Angelou
“One hand reaching forward, one hand reaching back”  Orange County Chapter Romance Writers of America

We sometimes forget as we dash through our days full of deadlines and proposals and promo work what it was like to first put pencil to paper, to first send out a proposal, or meet with an agent at a conference.  We might have buried the memory of that first rejection letter, or the second, or the fiftieth except as an anecdote while we share our (current) success story. 
When a newbie writer asks a question so basic we feel they should have learned the answer in elementary school, how many of us remember angsting over lines per page and perfect format as if that alone would guarantee acceptance by one of the publishers?  Or buying the best quality typing paper we could afford in hopes of recognition.  I sure do.
In discussion with authors from chapters across the country, I hear stories of chapters imploding from expectations of unpublished authors who demand help from the published.  On the other hand I hear stories from unpublished authors who can’t even get an answer to how to set up a blog.  Somewhere in the middle is that healthy place of compromise and share.
Orange County has that great program of “Ask An Author,” but OCC has been innovative in so many ways. But it’s not just the published authors who can step up.  Anyone who has attended a GMC talk can tell a neophyte GMC stands for Goal, Motivation, Conflict.  NaNo refers to a mad dash to produce a book in a month, at the end of which you either love or hate your characters and it’s a tossup whether your  hands or your bottom are more numb,  All of us have knowledge to share.
I’m hoping these ideas spread to other chapters, large and small, to keep the chapters and RWA healthy and supportive of romance writing.

Monica Stoner writes as Mona Karel, and has two books available for your perusal
Teach Me To Forget and My Killer My Love
When she’s not blogging about basic promo or low carb cooking Mona’s Blog she’s enjoying life at 6500 feet in New Mexico, surrounded by a bunch of silly skinny dogs. And writing, writing, writing

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First Signing

April 18, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , , , ,
Monica Stoner, Member at Large

Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America gives their authors roses for each sale. As a member many years ago, I dreamed of the day I’d stand up at the front to receive my rose, and my acceptance speech. Eventually I decided those would only be dreams. Until I saw an e-mail stating: “Black Opal Books is actively looking for new and special manuscripts.” What the heck, I thought. Might as well be rejected by a new press as an established press. I did a final polish, had a few critical friends beta read, and sent it off. There were dog shows in Phoenix, and I actively avoided looking for computer connections to check while we were gone.

Come Monday, I turned on the computer, connected to my e-mail, and began to scroll messages. And–what? A message from “editor” at “blackopalbooks.” Wow, this would be the fastest rejection I’d ever had. Oh well, might as well get it over with.

“We like your book, and would like to publish it.” I stared at the screen. Turned off the e-mail program. Started it again. “We like your book and would like to publish it.” Still the same words. So I printed it out, just in case it was a computer glitch. Yep, it said the same thing. So I called my husband into the room. He looked at the screen, looked at me, and said, “Cool.” Just to be sure, I sent the excerpt to my friends, whom I see once or twice a year, and stay in touch electronically. They concurred, and sent virtual high fives.

It took twenty four hours to decide if I would accept the offer. Actually it took ten seconds, but I pretended to need to think about it. Yeah, right. I was valiantly attempting to follow the advice given in so many lectures and on line discussions. In actual fact I intended to grab for the brass ring and enjoy the ride. Which I did.
The day “My Killer My Love”came out was the day my husband was admitted to the hospital and the next eight months were a challenge on all levels. He lost the battle with cancer and diabetes in January of the next year, and in the months since then I’ve learned to readjust and rebuild. Come April of this year, events combined to bring me to Southern California, including a Saluki specialty held in Tom’s honor, a gathering of our dog friends after the show, and another gathering for his family, non dog friends, and former students. This would help close many of the connections he had made throughout his life.

And, yes, it was the same weekend as the Orange County meeting. I could have my first book signing among the people who had the greatest effect on my life as a writer. What would be better? Too bad it was the same weekend as the RT Convention in Chicago, but so many of those I remembered from before were still in California.

The roses came home with me and are in a Mikasa vase one of the dogs won years ago. One rose for “My Killer My Love,” the book I signed in April. One for “Teach Me To Forget,” coming out in May, just a few weeks from now. Life does go on.

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Of Edits and Covers and other Minutiae

March 19, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , ,

Monica Stoner, Member at Large
I continue to be amazed to read “no one edits books anymore.” Mind you, I have read quite a few books that don’t seem to be edited at all. But it’s hard to say if the books were not edited or maybe they just were not edited well.  However that works, I do know some publishers do still edit submissions, and state so quite clearly in their websites.
I can only personally speak of my own publisher, Black Opal Books.  My books have received three edits: one for spelling and basic grammar, one for syntax and style, and a final review by the lead editor.  Each time the book comes back to me, I read it from beginning to end, considering the suggestions, made some of my own, and along the way found even more places where words could be replaced, eliminated, polished.  This after what I thought was an intensive rewrite.  There really is always room for improvement.
And how many times are we told: “The author has no control over the title, the cover, the blurb, or anything else to do with their book but the actual words?”  Lucky me, I have not experienced this situation.  The cover for My Killer My Love was collaboration between me and another Black Opal Books author.  I had the face I wanted to use (see image on the right) and I knew I wanted the face “haunting” an ancient forest.  

For my upcoming book, the edits made Teach Me To Forget more poignant than I had ever imagined it could be.  The blurb was a matter of a few messages between Lauri Wellington, editor extraordinaire, and me.  But I could NOT come up with any sort of cover.  Too many scenes crowded into my head: Bethany’s travesty of a wedding, her later success as a feature writer, her Irish setter, or Jonathan’s past life as a jet setter, his new life as a nature photographer.  Any of those would have been a decent cover, but none sang to me.  So I admitted defeat, and asked for help.  Within a day, I received this cover:
Okay, so Jonathan and Bethany never really got it on in the middle of the woods.  But for such a pretty cover, I think we can allow a little poetic license.
Teach Me To Forget will available in e-book format May, 2012 from Black Opal Books.  
Mona Karel’s blog talks about cooking and dieting and getting by.  
Come join the fun.
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