Tag Archive | vampires

Conquering my Internet angst

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]Hallelujah! I just updated the signature that goes out with my e-mails, and it took me only an hour and a half to figure out how! Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, says e-mail signatures are one of the most effective and easiest ways to market your work, but for me, when it comes to internet technology, nothing comes easy.

Lest you think I’m a total ignoramus, I’ve known how to create signatures for ages, but they’ve been tiny and self-effacing, in the plain text that’s standard with Thunderbird. To promote my new book, Hope Dawns Eternal, and let people know it’s for sale on Amazon, I wanted something flashier that will jump out at viewers, and for that, Thunderbird told me I need to use – insert gasps of horror, hyperventilating and pounding heart – HTML code. For the uninitiated, that stands for hypertext markup language.

I’m proud to say I didn’t have an anxiety attack. I’ve come a long way since acute panic made me drop out of a web design course at Hudson Valley Community College a few years back. Instead, I calmly clicked on Thunderbird’s HELP menu, found the information on creating custom signatures, and printed it out for further study. Call me old-fashioned, but for truly assimilating new knowledge, I still prefer paper.

The Thunderbird tutorial took me part of the way, but my signature didn’t look right, so I Googled “HTML code beginners.” That brought up millions of hits, and some further surfing turned up what I needed to know.

<Insert break here. It’s time for General Hospital.> 

Anthony Geary with this years Daytime Emmy

Anthony Geary with this years Daytime Emmy

Okay, I’m back. Luke Spencer saved one of his sons from a grisly death by defusing a bomb, only to face armed gunmen who – oh, never mind. Michael Easton, my favorite actor on GH, isn’t on this week. They’re concentrating on Luke because the actor who plays him, Anthony Geary, is retiring and moving to Amsterdam, and they want to give him a spectacular send-off. I doubt they’ll kill him, though, because he may get bored and want to come back for a visit.

But I digress. True, Hope Dawns Eternal is about soap operas, but it isn’t about General

Michael Easton as vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles

Michael Easton as vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles

Hospital. The hero, Jonah McQuarry, is a police lieutenant played by the reclusive actor Mark Westgate, who used to play a vampire on a long-gone soap called Oak Bluff. When a talk show host turns up dead, drained of blood, suspicion soon falls on Mark . . . You can learn more by checking out previous posts, or still better, by reading the Prologue and Chapter One right here on this blog. Then, of course, I hope you’ll buy it.

The world of publishing has changed dramatically in the years since I published my two previous books, and indie authors like me have more opportunities than ever before. But the trick lies in learning to harness the infinite power of the Internet, and for technophobes like me, the challenge is daunting. The learning curve is steep, fraught with perils and frustrations, but I’m determined to hang in there and master at least the rudiments of self-publishing.

My cover illustration for the original ELDERCIDE

My cover illustration for the original ELDERCIDE

When I published Eldercide and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders, a small firm in Texas handled the formatting and design. They did a beautiful job, and I loved the finished product, but they took a huge percentage of whatever measly sales income I managed to accrue, and my royalty checks were minimal. Though I can probably never prove it, I’m convinced they swindled me out of some earnings.

Now, with the generous royalty arrangements available through Amazon, Smashwords and other distributors, I won’t get fooled again. By summer’s end, Eldercide and Mood Swing will be available in new editions, in a variety of e-book and paperback formats. I’ll be in total control, but the learning curve is less a curve than a raggedy zig zag line. The overall trajectory tends slowly upward, but there are lots of hidden hazards and pitfalls. Often I feel the way all those cops must have felt bushwhacking through the Adirondack woods in search of the killers Matt and Sweat, wary of ambushes and sometimes doubling back on their own tracks.

One example: The design of this blog. Notice how the headers at the top are superimposed on each other like a double exposure? I know exactly when the problem arose; it was when I changed “themes,” as WordPress calls its design templates, from “Misty Look” to “Koi.” While my blog was relatively inactive, I let it go, but recently I spent a couple of hours trying to fix it, in every way I could think of, but to no avail.

Finally I clicked on the WordPress link that says “Contact Us” and arrived at a site called “Happiness Engineers.” There I texted back and forth with a friendly fellow named Amal, who gave me all kinds of hints and suggestions to try. Alas, he couldn’t fix it either, and after a couple of hours, I thanked him for his efforts and signed off. The next day WordPress sent me an email with a questionnaire asking how the experience had been, and I didn’t answer, not wanting to get Amal in trouble.

Learning the rudiments of HTML is another challenge, but I’m hanging in there. I’ve got all summer to fine tune my marketing campaign and expand my online network. For example, once again I’ll be featuring guest bloggers, beginning around Bastille Day – but that’s a topic for another blog. Right now, I’m heading out to enjoy my shade garden and a gin and tonic.

HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL now available on Kindle – buy it, I’m begging you!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]It’s official! Hope Dawns Eternal is available on Kindle for $2.99. It’s been five days since I successfully uploaded it, but now the trick is getting people to visit the site and buy it. I’ve got a lot to learn about that. To find it, go to Amazon, type in my name, and it should take you right there. My two previous books are there too, but I’ll be reissuing them soon with new covers at a lower price, so please hold off on buying them.

Within a few days, if I don’t succumb to my technophobia, the CreateSpace paperback version will be available as well. In the meantime, here’s the description I wrote for Kindle. I hope it whets your appetite and that you buy the book!

Can soap stars live forever? If they’re vampires, anything’s possible. In the hotbed of intrigue that is daytime television, sometimes the deadliest dramas are unscripted, and passions transcend anything the censors dare allow.

Hope Dawns Eternal is the first in a new series of romantic paranormal thrillers set at the fictional QMA television network in New York City. The novel features Jonah McQuarry, the new cop in town on the beloved soap opera Sunlight and Shadow, his lady love Abigail Hastings, and his arch-rival Tony Giordano. Played by the actor Mark Westgate, Jonah is tall and slender, with dark good looks and piercing blue eyes. Thanks to his years on Hope Dawns Eternal, a recently cancelled soap, he already has millions of fans, so the showrunners bring him along to S&S when the QMA network replaces Hope with a self-help reality show, Brand New You. 

His first day on the set, when Jonah meets the raven-haired Abby, the erotic chemistry between them is instantaneous and off the charts. Soon Jonah suspects he knew her in another incarnation, when Mark played a vampire on the long-defunct soap opera Oak Bluff and the actress who played Abby was his leading lady. 

When the host of Brand New You turns up dead and drained of blood, there’s immediate buzz about vampires, and Jonah becomes a prime suspect. Even worse, he begins to suspect himself. He’s been having black-outs, with long periods of time he can’t account for, and he’s developed a ravenous appetite for bloody rare meat. Could the reclusive Mark Westgate be suffering from dissociative identity disorder, and could Jonah be just one of several personas who inhabit the actor’s psyche? 

Tensions escalate as Jonah tangles with mobster Tony Giordano and his enforcer Mick Hastings, Abby’s dangerously possessive hulk of a husband. As Jonah’s relationship with Abby heats up, he also finds himself increasingly drawn to Gloria Kemp, an evening news anchor about to launch her own daytime show on the QMA network. She wants him as a confidant and a friend with benefits. But does she truly lust after Jonah, or is she just chasing after the most sensational journalistic coup of her career? Can Jonah trust her? More importantly, can he trust himself? As the bloodthirsty killings continue, all bets are off.

Hope Dawns Eternal is the first in a darkly humorous series of romantic paranormal thrillers featuring the characters of the last remaining soap opera on the QMA network.  Watch for the sequel, Sunlight and Shadow.

Julie Lomoe is the author of the mystery novels Eldercide and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders. Both books draw on her decades of professional health and home health care experience, and both explore issues of vital importance to today’s society. Eldercide focuses on the ethical dilemmas that arise when quality of life declines with age and illness, and families confront life-or-death decisions. Mood Swing features a feisty heroine with a bipolar diagnosis who confronts the stigma of mental illness while investigating mysterious deaths at a psychiatric social club on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Julie attended Radcliffe College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard. She received her MFA in painting at Columbia University and exhibited widely in New York City and at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. In 1979 she received her MA in Art Therapy from New York University. Her work as a creative arts therapist at a psychiatric hospital inspired her to turn to fiction as a creative outlet for processing her feelings about spending her days on locked wards in the company of the mentally ill. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, dog and cat.

I hope that’s enough to intrigue you. As the Temptations sang all those years ago, I ain’t too proud to beg. So please, folks, hunt down and buy my book! At just $2.99, what have you got to lose but a night’s sleep?

Ready for May Day Lift Off – Hope Dawns Eternal

May Day! May Day! I’ve zeroed in on the first of May as the launch date for Hope Dawns Eternal. That gives me a few days to figure out how to upload everything to Kindle and CreateSpace. I’m thrilled with the gorgeous cover illustration by Kim Killion, and Rik Hall has finished formatting the manuscript, but I’ve still got a steep learning curve to figure out the next steps before it’s actually accessible to buyers. With my technophobia, I’m still in acute avoidance mode.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00071]

Now it’s high time to focus on marketing strategies. The publishing scene and especially the online opportunities have changed dramatically since I published Eldercide in 2008, and this time I swear I’ll be relentless in promoting my work, because as outlandish as it seems, my happiness seems to hinge on becoming a successful author.

My first publicity salvo was shot down almost immediately. I posted a shot of the cover to one of the soap opera fan groups I belong to, telling them how excited I was that the book would soon be available. I assured them they’d love it, since the hero is inspired by the actor the group is about. Big mistake – my post smacked of blatant self-promotion, and the group’s moderators removed it with a message warning me not to make the same mistake again, lest I be banned from the site.Caleb Morley

Fair enough, but how do I let people know about the book without being obnoxious about it? Word of mouth is reportedly the best way of creating the buzz that boosts sales, and there are multiple ways of going about it. First and foremost, I’m renewing my connections to the writers’  networks I’ve lost touch with over the years. I’ve rejoined Sisters in Crime, and I’m about to rejoin Mystery Writers of America, especially so as to get the discounted rate to their Edgar Symposium in New York City on April 28th. As a member, I’ll be able to attend their wonderful cocktail party that evening, where schmoozing with authors, editors and agents is lubricated by an open bar and bountiful hors d’oeuvres.

For the first time ever, I’ve joined Romance Writers of America and their Capital District chapter, because this book is the most romantic – even, dare I say, sexy – I’ve ever written.*

Most of all, I want to reach my primary audience – the millions of devotees of soap operas and especially of General Hospital – without being blatantly obvious about it. My fictional network, QMA, and its last remaining soaps retain only the sketchiest suggestions of the soaps and actors that I solemnly swear didn’t inspire me. (Yeah, right – if you swallow that, I’ll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.)

So what’s my strategy? I’ll be networking like crazy. I’ll trade guest blogs – you can be on my blog if I can be on yours. I’ll be looking for reviewers. If you like, I can send you a free advance review copy. Just leave a comment or email me at julielomoe@nycap.rr.com, and we’ll figure out the logistics.

eldercidefrontcover1Above all, I solemnly swear I won’t launch Hope Dawns Eternal into the vast black hole of oblivion that swallowed my last two novels, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders and Eldercide. Those mysteries basically sank without a trace, triggering major depressive episodes that laid me low for far too long, and I hope never again to experience those depths of despair. To that end, I’ll be resurrecting both novels in new online and print editions in May, or at least before the summer solstice. In the meantime, you can still buy the first editions on Amazon, but I’d rather you buy them from me directly, because I suspect the original publisher hasn’t been paying me the requisite royalties.

Speaking of money, I’m reviving my GoFundMe campaign. At the rate I’m racking up expenses, it won’t be long before I max out my credit card, and I can use all the help I can get. You could win prizes, including maybe an acknowledgment or a character named for you in Sunrise or Shadow, the sequel to Hope Dawns Eternal. For more information, check out my GoFundMe campaign at www.gofundme.com/gep8ts. Every little bit helps, and who knows, before long you may be able to brag that you knew me when! I’ll be eternally grateful for each and every donation.

*Strictly speaking, Hope Dawns Eternal is the most romantic and sexy since The Flip Side, my unpublished first novel inspired by my work as a creative arts therapist in a mental hospital. One of these days, I may actually publish it too!

I

Hobnobbing with Agents in the Big Apple

 

Site of the IWWG Summer Conference in August

Site of the IWWG Summer Conference in August

Back in April, I attended the second day of the International Women Writers Guild’s Spring Big Apple conference. I wrote the following piece for their newsletter, and I’m delighted to learn that they published it almost in its entirety. (They diplomatically deleted my critique of the old events, which were held back when IWWG was under different leadership.) Their newsletter included the link to this blog, so I’m hoping some of their members will wander over this way – and maybe subscribe and leave comments.

I’m excited about my newly finished novel, Hope Dawns Eternal, and eager to see it in print, so I was all set to go the self-publishing route, as I did with my two previous mysteries, but IWWG’s Spring Big Apple Conference inspired me to rethink my strategy.

I was ambivalent about signing up. I’d attended a couple of these events a decade or so ago, and although I did get a couple of leads – which ultimately didn’t pan out – I found them disorganized and disappointing. Queuing up in long lines in order to get a couple of minutes to pitch my work to the agents, I could barely muster up the poise it takes to deliver an effective elevator speech, and most of the agents seemed as frazzled as I felt.

This time, with 10-minute sessions scheduled online in advance, I decided to give the Meet the Agents event one more try. Once registered, I printed out the blurbs for the agents, studied them and targeted those who handle fiction. Though the slots were filling up fast, I managed to schedule appointments with four agents and one lawyer. With Cynthia Stillwell and Kristin Conroy as time keepers and task masters, the sessions ran like clockwork, and I felt I had each agent’s undivided attention.

The earlier talks and panels gave me some valuable pointers on how to craft my pitch, and I’m delighted to report that all four agents want me to send them my work. Even better, three of the four seemed genuinely enthusiastic to an extent I’ve never experienced at similar events in the past. But then how could they resist a paranormal thriller about vampires and soap operas?

Remember Port Charles?

Remember Port Charles?

So it’s back to the classic routine I thought I’d abandoned forever – crafting an enticing query letter and synopsis, polishing my first few chapters and sending them out either online or with the old-time SASE, depending on their specifications. I’m researching other agents as well – I won’t necessarily restrict myself to these three. Meanwhile, I plan to reissue my older novels as e-books and keep building my presence online, in hopes of landing the agent of my dreams.

My heartfelt thanks to IWWG for putting together such an inspiring event – one I’m confident will help me reboot my career and take it to a level higher than I’d ever dared to dream of.

To learn more about the International Women Writers Guild, go to www.iwwg.org. They’re having a four-day conference in Litchfield, Connecticut this August. I attended several when they were held at Skidmore in Saratoga, and I have writer friends who go religiously every year. I recommend it especially for women who are suffering from writer’s block or need help finding their voices as writers. Fortunately, I no longer fit those categories, so I’m probably going to pass this year, though who knows, I could still change my mind.

Please subscribe and leave your comments – I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

UPDATE – Saturday, June 7th

Two major changes since this post:

  • I’ve decided to go to the IWWG conference after all.
  • I’ve decided to self-publish after all, rather than retreat to the old model of querying agents.
Me and Romeo at Lake George on June 5th

Me and Romeo at Lake George on June 5th

The conference in Litchfield looks irresistible, especially because of the location. Wisdom House is set on 70 acres, with a swimming pool and labyrinth, and it looks as if I’ll have ample time and space to have my own mini-retreat if I’m not in the mood for nonstop conferencing and socializing.

My husband came back from a day of workshops on e-publishing at the recent Book Expo in NYC, full of information and enthusiasm for the opportunities for authors who have the gumption to go it on their own.

I’ll blog more about these soon. But right now, I’m off for some shopping and gardening before I settle in to watch the Belmont. Romeo, the horse I rode at Lake George two days ago, has the same coloring as California Chrome – chestnut with a white blaze and feet – though he and I are a bit slower. I’ve always loved chestnut horses, though, ever since as a teen I fell in love with one named Diablo.

Anyone out there going to the IWWG conference? I’d love to hear from you – and from anyone else, for that matter.