WORD. . .? WORD PERFECT. . .? OR. . .?

Delectable cover_lo res

I started out writing in Word Perfect when it was in DOS.  Yes, I’ve been writing that long.  And for those youngsters who don’t know what DOS is, let’s just say it was before there was a thing called Windows.  Software, as well as computers, have come a long, long way since then.  Thank goodness.  Don’t you love technology?  I do.

Anyway, the reason that I have always preferred Word Perfect is that it is very writer friendly.  Word, in my opinion, is for writing business letters or business documents, but is a pain in the muse for anyone writing a book.  I cannot figure out why Microsoft has never developed or offered a Word version just for book writers.  Someone put that in their suggestion box, please.

Over the years, I tried to use Word and found it more difficult than a Chinese puzzle.  I even took an online class to learn how to use it.  I ended up frustrated trying to apply the use with my writing needs.  Instead, I stuck with Word Perfect and saved my manuscripts in rtf to send to my editor or agent.

This year, however, as I started writing DELECTABLE , Book #1 in my Big Sky Pie romance series, I finally broke down and started working in Word 2007 (since that was the newest version I had).  I have a friend who is proficient in that version, and if I get stuck or want to toss the laptop across the room, I go to her for help first.  And I discovered I could change all of the keystrokes to WP ones, since that is where my fingers automatically go.  So far, I’m managing, if not loving, Word.

But the biggest and most difficult thing for me has been trying to get used to writing to word count instead of writing by chapters.  My deadlines are really close together.  I write much slower than I need to be doing, and every time I think I have finally written x amount of words, I find a bunch of sentences that need to be deleted, and there goes my word count.  The frustration of this drags at my creativity, and my writing suffers.  I’m trying really hard not to obsess about word count.  To concentrate on the story and just write.  But since word count is what I’m aiming for, it’s always there like an itchy insect bite.

Word. . .love it?  Or hate it?

Word Count. . .love it?  Or hate it?

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NEW COVER, NEW AVAILABILITY

JackNewCover7I am loving this new cover for YOU DON’T KNOW JACK.  This is my first self-published book, the one that I wrote after we lost our beautiful Kim.  The world was embracing all things dark and Paranormal then, but I could not write anything dark after losing our daughter.  I needed something light to hang onto, something to cheer me up, or I’d go under.

But let’s face it, my genre was always romantic suspense.  That’s where my heart has always been.  The market for those books, however, was beginning to disappear.  The next best thing was cozy mysteries.   My whodunits have always had a bit of an edge to them, and I wasn’t sure I could write a cozy.

I started plotting YOU DON’T KNOW JACK by using Debbie Macomber’s list of 20.  That’s where you take a sheet of paper (or use your cell phone or tablet), number a sheet from 1 to 20, set a timer for 15 minutes or so, and  jot down everything that comes to you that might be used in the story, even if the items seem silly or farfetched.  You won’t use all of the items, but you will find key story elements in that list.

The first thing that came to me was this line, “I don’t do men.”  When you read Jack’s story, you’ll see how that fits into it.  The next item on my list was also a line of dialogue: “That’s like sayin’ I don’t do men, darlin’.”  and thus the character of Lars was born.

YOU DON’T KNOW JACK has been available exclusively on amazon.com for over a year now, but with this new cover, I just released it on smashwords, barnesandnoble.com , and amazon.  And it’s now LIVE!!

This is book #1 of a planned Jack B Smart mystery series.  I do have book #2 started.  Working title:  Jack B Lean or The Skinny on Jack.  In book #1, the heroine, Jack B. Smart, is an aspiring mystery writer, but her life is not going as planned.  One rejection after the other for her stories.  (Can’t we all relate to that?!)  Her father, a cop, was murdered when she was only 8, his murder still unsolved.   The last thing she wants is danger in her life, but her inherited man-crazy gene puts her smack into the line of fire both physically and romantically.

After a disastrous romantic entanglement, she swears off men, but sexy guys won’t leave her alone.   Especially one very sexy Seattle homicide detective.  And then she stumbles on a dead body and somehow manages to get her best friend accused of the murder. At that point, she has to no choice but to find the real killer.  She has all kinds of help, including 3 elderly, gun toting mamas, and the ghost of the murder victim.

YOU DON’T KNOW JACK made me laugh as I was writing it, I hope it does the same for you as you read it.

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JOURNEY TO MY SALES part 2

cherry-pie-10Please forgive the delay between part 1 and part 2 of this journey.  My deadlines are very tight, and I’m not a fast writer.  If it has been so long that you forgot how my journey started, please read Part 1 before going on.  Or read it again, as the case may be.

I left you hanging as Larry and I were about to take off to Pleasanton, CA for a hot rod show.  I’d just been offered a shot at maybe selling my first ever, cozy mystery series if I would turn it into a romance series, and of coming up with, and maybe selling, a second romance series set in a Montana pie shop, if I could make the story more complex.  The catch was, both proposals had to be to the editor ASAP.

When the editors at Grand Central offered me this opportunity, they wanted first to see the pie shop books.  That meant totally rethinking my original story.  A series needs more complications, serious conflicts, and lots of fun characters.  Plus, one way or another, the characters in each book need some connection to the pie shop and to each other.  So, before leaving home, I consulted with my critique group and my plot buddy, Jami Davenport, and we came up with some really fun possibilities.  I took lots of notes.

Then a streak of good luck.  Since Larry had just completed the ’34 Ford, 3 Window Coupe (think ZZ Top’s hot rod), the new motor had too few miles on it for a long, freeway-speed road trip.  Although we took a lot of ribbing for towing the car to the show instead of driving it there, being able to be in our full-sized pickup was a Godsend to me.  I fired up my laptop and my imagination and wrote and plotted as he drove with his favorite 50’s music playing in the background.

What I needed was at least 4 five page synopses for each series.  Anyone who knows me can tell you that I hate writing synopses.  But using the incredible Jennie Cruzie’s rough outline as my guide, made the process so much easier, and by the time I was on synopses 4 of one series, I was starting to find the whole process easier and easier.  And I ended up with some pretty decent synopses.  I plotted 4 stories for the Big Sky Pie series and 6 stories for the Port Wedlock series.

The editors loved, loved, loved the series. And this time no committee got to have a say.  The offer I received had me and my agent squealing with joy.  Can I just say, she has stuck with me without a sale for about 3 years at that point.  Incredible lady.   Grand Central wanted all four books in the pie shop romances for their FOREVER line–that is their paperback and e-book releases.  They wanted all six–and as many more as I want to write–of the Port Wedlock series for their FOREVER YOURS line–which is their e-book only romance line.  There was a catch, however, with the PW series.  The offer was for joint-accounting and that means that I would not be paid any royalties for those books until all of the books earn out their respective advances.  My agent and I decided to accept the 4 book offer and only sell two of the PW series for now.

Then we got another great surprise.  They editors wanted to release the books really, really fast.  They liked the books that much.  After so many rejections, for my books to find a home with editors who are enthusiastic about me and my writing, well, this is an amazingly wonderful outcome.

Delectable cover_lo resTo top it off, they gave DELECTABLE a great cover.  And you can even pre-order this book on amazon right now at: http://tinyurl.com/o7va7v2

The book is releasing as an e-book on Sept 3rd, less than a month away

The cover is adorable cover, don’t you agree?   The book is fun, too!  And sexy.  And there are recipes for the pies that are made in Big Sky Pie’s kitchen.    Montana never tasted so good!!

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WONDERFUL SURPRISE!!!!

I know, I still owe you Part II of my journey to my new book contracts.  I swear I have not forgotten.  I just been so busy writing.

But I have such wonderful news.  My new publisher assigned me a publicist. I’ve never had one before and mine is awesome.  She managed to get the exclusive reveal for the cover of DELECTABLE on RT BOOK REVIEWS!!!

Find it at:  http://www.rtbookreviews.com/rt-daily-blog/exclusive-cover-reveal-adrianne-lees-delectable

Please check it out and post a comment.

Delectable will be coming out Sept 3rd in e-book release and will be available at all the e-book sources and for all kinds of electronic book readers, and you can even pre-order DELECTABLE now, if you want.  This is Book#1 of the BIG SKY PIE romance series set in Montana.

Okay, it’s back to Book #2 before I miss my deadline.

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THE JOURNEY TO MY SALES part 1

cherry-pie-10

This is the featured pie in DELECTABLE, book #1 of the Big Sky Pie romance series!!  It’s a Bing Cherry Pie.  Bing cherries are much sweeter than traditional pie cherries.  They’re easy to identify by their rich burgundy color and larger size.  They were a favorite of my mother-in-law, who baked them for her three sons and husband, and the only cherry pie that I really love.

So, how did I come to be writing a series about a pie shop set in a Montana town?  Certainly not the usual way.

As an aside, you should know that I think of Montana as a state I would love to live in.  We vacationed there for many, many years and if you haven’t been, put it on your bucket list.  It shouldn’t be missed.

The journey to selling again, started with my having no luck finding a home for my romantic/suspense cowboy trilogy– also set in Montana in the same area as Molly McCoy’s Big Sky Pie shop.   After many rejections, my agent and I discussed which direction I should go moving forward.  She said that romantic/suspense had pretty much flat-lined, (according to editors, not readers) but that cozy mysteries were the new R/S.

I love mysteries.  I read mysteries.  I started out writing mysteries.  So, this was not such bad news, except that I had never tried writing a cozy, and I feared my harder edged voice and approach to mysteries might be off-putting to some editors.   Still I had to try.

Since so many cozies are set in small town shops, or revolve around hobbies, I had to find a subject I knew something about that would have universal appeal, that wasn’t already being used, and that would lend itself to as many whodunits as might be needed if the series became popular.  (What I came up with is the second series that Grand Central Publishing bought–The Port Wedlock series.  More on this in the next post.)

Once I had written the proposal and synopses for books 1 thru 3 of this cozy mystery series, my agent began submitting.  For about nine months we submitted, waited, garnered excitement, and were then rejected.  Several editors were very excited about this cozy series, some even loved, loved, loved it and sent it on to their “committees” who have the final say.  And that was as far as we got.  ”Committees” kept passing on the series for the one element it has that sets it apart from other cozies and makes it so much fun.

Meanwhile, during this process, one editor said she liked my writing and would love to see a romance set in a pie shop that she might also buy along with The Port Wedlock cozies.   Her committee was still looking at the series at that point.  I immediately plotted a pie shop romance, and my agent submitted the 5 page synopsis.  The story was pretty lightweight, more of a category romance than a complex mainstream story, but it had potential.

More than anyone knew at the time.

As this editor was looking at and considering the PW cozy series, my agent was speaking to an editor at Grand Central Publishing, a part of Hachette Book Group, about one of her other clients.  Somehow, perhaps from her frustration at not finding a home for a series that editors loved so much, she mentioned the PW series.  This editor works for the FOREVER and FOREVER YOURS line at Grand Central.  She does not buy cozy mystery series, but she wanted to see the proposal package.   Apparently, she does like mysteries, though, as much as I do.

She loved the Port Wedlock series and her boss loved the series, as well, but they wanted me to turn it into a romance series and lose the mystery element.   This suggestion didn’t excite me, since that is not the way I see these books.

Then guess what?  The editor who wanted me to write her a synopsis about a love story set in a pie shop, passed on my cozy mystery series.  Yep, the committee struck again.   She would, however, give me a contract for the pie shop book, but only for their e-book line which offers no advance.

I don’t know about other writers, but in this economy, I needed an advance.  I had tried the self-pub route earlier in the year with two of my backlist books and one brand new book, YOU DON’T KNOW JACK  and all three books were, and are still, selling poorly.  So, why would I give a publisher a share of the pittance the pie shop book might make given they were offering me so little up front, when I could make that little on my own?

Then, my agent, bless her heart, spoke to the editor at Grand Central about my pie shop book.  The editor wanted to see it.  She and her boss loved the idea of BIG SKY PIE.  But the story needed a lot more depth before they could offer to buy it.  If I wanted to revise and resubmit it, then they might like to do a romance series set in my Montana pie shop.

We were about to leave for ten days to a hot rod show in Pleasanton, CA.  How was I going to do this?

continued in Part 2.  .   .   soon

 DELECTABLE     Book #1  of BIG SKY PIE romances releases electronically Sept 2013

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PIE, OH, PIE

While most folks are probably fixing Pumpkin Pie or Pecan Pie for the Holidays, my family loves Cottage Cheese Pie.

I realize just the name can elicit an “ewwwww” reaction from a few folks, but just because something sounds icky to you, doesn’t mean it is.  Think Custard Pie.  If you like Custard Pie, you should love  Cottage Cheese Pie.

(If you want to try it yourself, or if you’re just curious, click on this link   Cottage Cheese Pie   which will take you to my website.   Enter, then click the tab: Favorite Recipes.   Enjoy.)

I have had pies on the brain since last Summer, and lately, I have a super exciting reason to LOVE all things pie.

My SUPER DUPER GREAT NEWS IS:  After way too many years struggling to get my career restarted in the wake of devastating personal loss, I have, at long last, sold not one, not two, not three, but FOUR books of a new romance series to Grand Central Publishing.

This series is set in Big Sky Pies in Kalispell, Montana.  The owner of the pie shop is Molly McCoy, and what goes on in Molly’s pie shop is a lot of DELECTABLEDELICIOUS,  DELIGHTFUL,  and DECADENT.

I’m currently working on DELECTABLE, Quint and Calee’s story.  Quint is Molly’s drop dead gorgeous, sexy son–who she has spoiled to the edge of redemption.   No one ever spoiled Calee, and she isn’t finding Quint’s antics quite as much fun as she used to.  She wants him to sign the divorce papers so she can get on with her life, but Quint refuses.   He’s determined to win her back, even though his every effort seems to make her more determined to kick him to the curb.

A crisis in the pie shop will either put the crust on their marriage, or make them realize a love like theirs is sweeter than Bing Cherry Pie.  In fact, it’s downright DELECTABLE.

You’d think this would be exciting news enough.  But guess what?  There’s more!!!   Check back for more news and more about the Big Sky Pies series very soon.    🙂

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CAMERA SHY KITTY

A lot of you have read my posts about Ms. Spooky.  She is our adopt-a-cat.  I decided I should post some photos of her, and that’s when I discovered how really camera shy she is.  I’m going to insert some photos so you can see for yourself.

Spooky is a lion.

Spooky showed up on our doorstep about 6 years ago, literally starving to death.  Her fur, which is a silky sable brown, (it photographs black, but isn’t) was, at that point, half gone.  Her fur was then a mottled orange and brown shade.  She seemed to be wearing thigh high brown velvet boots.   The twin bones just below her head were as thin as sheets of paper.

This is the side she always shows us.

My guy said I should put some food out for her.   So, I did.   But we were NOT getting a pet.  Up to this point, I always said my guy was the only pet I wanted.  I get too attached to pets and then when they don’t live to be 100, it kills me.  Thus the “no pet” rule.  Been there, done that.

Best laid plans, right?  One thing led to another, and while I was away at a book conference, I phoned home one night, and my guy said, “Guess who’s inside with me?”

Purr, purr, purr.

Did I mention she has “glowy” eyes?

Of course, you know how the rest of the story goes.  She now owns us.  The house is her domain; she just lets us live here with her.  If she could feed herself and clean her own cat box though, we could find ourselves on the street.

Spooky is a very loving cat.  We were actually blessed the day she arrived.  We just didn’t know it then.

Spooky looking out my office window.

Since her fur is very long and very silky as soon as the warmer months begin, so does the shedding.  Fur flies all over the place and even comes out in clumps, no matter how much brushing she gets.  She has a serious problem with fur balls during Spring and Summer.  We started getting her a lion cut and discovered she is a much smaller cat than she appears to be with all that fur.  🙂

Spooky got her name, not because she seems to be a black cat–which is what most folks assume–but because she spooks at every little sound.  She does this so much I worry that something will startle her so badly one day her heart will give out.   I guess she went through a lot of trauma before she found us.

Spooky nestled in the pillow shams.

But she’s living like a princess now.   She likes being tucked in like a baby for her naps.  She talks to me all the time.  She understands the words “treats” and outside.   She can meow like a Siamese, but she’s actually a breed called Chantilly.  She dances like a Meercat across the sliding glass door when she wants in.  And she has eyes that glow like a halogens in black tunnel.  As you can see below:

Spooky in Scary Cat mode.

She might be camera shy, but she makes a great Halloween kitty.  LOL.   BTW, I love Halloween and my adopt-a-cat.

Are you a cat person?

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YOU DON’T KNOW JACK!!!

What don’t you know about Jack?  Hmmm.  Let’s see. . .

When I created this blog site it was with Jack–the heroine of YOU DON’T KNOW JACK–Jacqueline Bouviér Smart, aka Jack B Smart.   Jack B, you see, is a very girly girl who is into lipstick and eye liner and mascara and well, you get the picture.  Cosmetics.  She’s also a sometime PI.  Nothing official, though, like a license or a permit to carry a concealed weapon.   Though she does have pepper spray in a lipstick tube.   And she does have a knack for solving murders.   Thus, Cosmetic Case Notes.

Now, in case you’re wondering why she’s named after the former first lady, it’s because all of the women in Jack B’s family are named after former first ladies.  But Jack B is not a classy brunette.   She looks nothing like the fabulous Jackie O.   Nope.  Jack B more resembles Dolly Parton. . .if Dolly was tall and sang off-key.

Jack B’s ex-husband Lars ends up a ghost speaking inside her head in the first Jack B Smart mystery.  I thought as I started Book 2 in the series that Lars had moved on to his higher reward.  Turns out, he has unfinished business here on Earth.  This time he even has some. . .er, skills.  Maybe.  Jack is eager to have Lars go away for good.   But neither Lars nor she know why he is still Earth-bound or what his unfinished business is, and until they figure that out, she’s stuck with him and his smart ass take on her, um, activities.

I wrote this book after losing our eldest daughter to advanced cervical cancer.  No parent should lose a child, and I’m here to tell you it is every bit as horrible and tough as you can imagine.   Missing her is a constant ache.  I don’t want your pity, nor would my Kim, but we want you to, please, make sure that any woman you love or care about, friend, sibling, aunt, mother, daughter, wife, neighbor, or even yourself, have an annual pap smear.  This type of cancer is detectable with a pap smear, and if caught early, it is curable.  This cancer is caused by a virus.  Any woman can get it, even if no one else in your family ever has.

After losing Kim, I needed something to take me out of the dark hole I was in.  Jack B Smart did that for me.  She provided an escape into a world full of humor and suspense with lots of kooky characters–who might even resemble your own relatives or friends.  She made me smile.  Maybe she can do the same for you.

Oh, one last thing, Jack B Smart is a recovering Man-o-holic.  She keeps choosing bad for her men.  So, she has sworn off men, but wouldn’t you know?  Sexy men and murder won’t let her be.

YOU DON’T KNOW JACK
http://tinyurl.com/7vvtc26

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FREE!!! KINDLE E-BOOK!!! FREE!!!

These days authors are expected to do all of their own promo.   This is unbelievably time consuming, time that should be spent writing, and very often nets a small return.  Or no return.   I don’t know the solution.   I’m doing the best I can to figure out how to acquire more/new readers and book buyers.

I’m told one way to do that is to put a lot of e-books out as fast as you can.   I have a lot of e-books out, 10 of my 14 Harlequin Intrigues are now in e-book format.   Midnight Cowboy, Eden’s Baby, Alias: Daddy, Little Girl Lost, The Bride’s Secret, The Best-Kept Secret, The Runaway Bride, Prince Undercover, Sentenced to Wed, Denim Detective.   But from the royalties I’ve received, it appears no one is reading these book.  Since Harlequin released these as e-books I must wait until May and Nov each year to see sales figures.   So far, I’m not impressed.

(If e-books are your preferred reads, and you haven’t read the above books, you might like to know these are some of my favorite stories.)

I’m only sure of the sales on the two books that I’ve put out, (so far) as e-books, The Wedding Necklace and Endless Fear, because I have the power to check out the sales any time I like.   They are not selling well.  Yet.  Maybe they never will.   The free promo for The Wedding Necklace netted 1121 free downloads and 1 sale after the promo.  But I’m not giving up.   I have a brand new FREE PROMO!!

ENDLESS FEAR will be FREE for 3 days, Sept 13-16, 2012.   The book has 5- five star reviews.   It’s a suspenseful book set on a spooky island.  Think REBECCA with a twist.  🙂

If that isn’t intriguing enough, perhaps the cover will whet your curiosity.   Enjoy.

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REVISING & UPDATING

I’m currently re-reading my second published book NIGHT TERROR with an eye toward revising and updating to make it more current.  I am not happy with the original opening pages of this book.   I think (hope) I am a better writer these days.  Much as I hate to admit it, the conflict between my hero and heroine is not set up all that well either.  In fact, my heroine comes off a bit bitchy.   She’s understandably upset–given the circumstances–but every heroine should also be sympathetic.  Likeable.

So, I began revising and am very pleased with the results, or rather I was,  until I came to a place where I realized–GASP!!!!–I do not remember this story well enough to change this opening scene too much.  What if I take out a red herring?  What if kill off the actual killer?  What if I leave in something that really doesn’t matter to the story?   Oy!!!!

I have no choice but to re-read the whole book.  GROAN.  Given that once a writer finishes a book, she/he has to read it again and again before it is published for line editing and copy editing and final drafts, we can get pretty sick of any story.  No matter how good it is.   Did I also mention I am possibly the world’s slowest reader?   But, it must be done.

And since I don’t remember the story, I’m actually enjoying it.  🙂  Or rather I was, until around page 60 or so, where I discover a glaring error and can’t believe I didn’t catch it in the original read-throughs before it was first published, or that my editor or line editor didn’t catch it.  WTF??   That is their jobs.  (And mine)

Well, the wonderful thing about having the rights back to this book means I can fix this timeline problem as well as every other flaw I find.  I can even remove the 100 “thats” some copy or line editor added.   While I’m at it, maybe I’ll even change the killer just to make it more brand new all around.  =cue the wicked laughter here=  bwahahahaha.

Oops, almost forgot.   The book has a new cover too.  What do you think?

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