J.A. (Julie) Kazimer is a very busy lady (including serving with me as a co-editor over at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog). She lives in Denver, Colorado and writes novels (although I don't know where she finds the time). Her books include CURSES! A
F***ed-Up Fairy Tale, Holy Socks and Dirtier Demons, Dope Sick: A
Love Story and FROGGY STYLE as well as the recently released, The Assassin’s Heart, and the upcoming mystery series, Deadly Ever After
from Kensington Books.
J.A. spent years spilling drinks as a bartender
and then stalked people while working as a private investigator.
Thanks, Pat, for having me!
This week my very first romance novel hit the shelves. I know, I’m shocked too. Romance? Me? I’m not a romantic. I like murder (not murdering mind you, no need for the police). I like plot twists and turns, not sex scenes. So how did I end up here?
The answer is an easy one.
All stories, no matter what genre or type, are, at heart, a love story.
I’ve often argued this with writers, mostly of the male persuasion. I guess some men don’t like to be called romance novelists. Go figure. Now you might be shaking your head, saying, well, my story is about a man who climbs a mountain. There’s no love interest at all.
Or is there?
What motivates this guy to climb a mountain? Love of nature maybe? Love of self? Love of adventure?
Take a look at most stories. They have an outright love interest. Heck, one of the go-to-standard-plots (of which there are apparently only 5) is Boy-Meets-Girl/Boy-Loses-Girl. Hence the ‘Meet-Cute’. This is where your hero and heroine meet in an awkward way, which later blossoms into a tricky, miscommunication filled relationship until the final chapter, when all problems are solved.
If it sounds cliché, the reason is simple. It is.
But it also works. Why? Because love is a basic human need, a desire we long for, a reason we buy books. I started my reading journey with a romance tale—Cinderella to be precise—as do most kids, whether it’s the Grimm sort of tales or a Disney version. I will finish the same journey, lucky enough to have experienced hundreds of thousands of different kind of loves.
What’s your favorite ‘love’ story?
Comment before midnight Mountain Time Tuesday, March 4th, and you will be entered to win a copy (ebook or paperback) of my romantic suspense, The Assassin’s Heart. U.S. and Canada residents only for the paperback. Anyone can win the ebook. The winner will be posted here on Wednesday.
Thanks, Julie. I never thought about my suspense novel being a love story, but now that I read your post, I see that love plays a big part in what happens throughout the story. No sexy stuff, though.
I’ve done some awful things to Rachel Goddard over the course of six novels.
She’s been hypnotized and brainwashed, shot and shot at, held at gunpoint several times, tied up, locked in a cupboard, and beaten. She’s crawled deep into a low, narrow cave, and she’s barely escaped with her life from a house filled with gas.
Some writers think of their characters as their children, but if Rachel were my daughter, would I let those things happen to her? Absolutely not.
I think of Rachel as a friend. But do I want a friend to endure such horrors? Well… If she’d let me write about it afterward, maybe so. And that’s the arrangement Rachel and I have. She gets to have experiences I would never dream of exposing myself to, and I get to write about them.
Readers often ask authors how much they have in common with their characters and whether their fictional people are idealized versions of themselves. I do share a few things with Rachel — a love of animals, a hatred of injustice, intolerance of anyone who harms the weak and helpless — but she’s younger, much better looking, and smarter than I am. She has a lot more courage than I do and less fear of the consequences when she jumps into a sticky situation. Rachel isn’t me, not even an idealized version. She’s her own person, and has become a more distinct individual with every book.
When I started writing about her in The Heat of the Moon, Rachel was a frightened young woman who didn’t understand her own emotions and memories, didn’t know the truth about her family, didn’t know who she could trust. She gained strength by fighting for the right to make her own choices and follow her own path. I’ve watched her become a confident, bold woman who knows what she wants out of life and can’t be intimidated.
Writers are constantly told — by editors and agents, by writing instructors, by critics — that our protagonists must “grow and change” if we want our books to be satisfying. Of course, we can all point to hugely successful characters who stay exactly the same from book to book, but on the whole that advice is sound. If we want our characters to become real people on the page, we have to let them progress in a normal way and allow their lives to change as everyone’s life does. For me, that has been the greatest pleasure of writing a series: putting Rachel through a new ordeal in each book and seeing her come out stronger and more mature at the end. I left her suspended in a terrible place at the end of the first book, and although I didn’t originally intend The Heat of the Moon to be the start of a series, I’m glad I’ve been able to continue writing about Rachel and have seen her achieve some of the happiness and peace she deserves.
The girl in The Heat of the Moon could never have stood up to greedy developers the way the woman in Poisoned Ground does. Years have passed, a lot has happened, and there’s a world of difference between the Rachel I began writing about and the Rachel who lives in the pages of my latest book.
She has become more than my creation, more than my “child” or my friend. She has become my heroine, in every sense of the word.
If you’d like to see what she’s up to in the new book, leave a comment and you’ll have a chance to win a signed hardcover of Poisoned Ground. Giveaway for U.S. Residents only.
Sandra Parshall won an Agatha Award for her first Rachel Goddard novel, The Heat of the Moon. The sixth book in the series, Poisoned Ground, comes out March 4 from Poisoned Pen Press. Sandra is a past member of the national board of Sisters in Crime and remains active in the organization. An avid animal lover and amateur photographer, she lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two cats.
Like the first little piggy, you take it to market. But where, you ask? To me, that is anywhere my book can find a reader. Since this is my first book, I am focused on maximum exposure. Sales are a consideration, but word-of-mouth does the best promoting, so getting mine ‘out there’ is my first consideration.
We all know about social media and its potential, so I won’t talk about those. Here are a few other avenues I’ve explored. Not all have proven successful, but maybe a similar situation may pan out for you, which keeps you from panhandling later.
Trade Associations: As a member of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, I reached out to their online store, which serves nearly 15,000 members. Unfortunately, they took a pass, but it was worth a shot. What group do you belong to?
Books on the Underground: Located in the UK, they accept book donations and place the books on “The Tube,” as they call their subway system. Each book is affixed with a sticker with their name and instructions to enjoy the book and leave it back on the subway when the reader is done. A similar program exists for the subway system in New York. Imagine that: my books in England and New York within days of being released (February 19th, by the way.)
Vacation Rental Properties: I have friends who own homes that they rent out through VRBO and other organizations. They have agreed to place “house copies” of my book (you saw the pretty cover down there, right?) in their homes and I’m pitching them to buy some to include with each rental. This will place books in Puerto Rico, Oregon, and Washington, so far.
Your Favorite Coffee Shop/Hang Out: Sometimes a tough one, but I’ve been blessed to make an agreement with Fort Collins Coffee Shop to be the exclusive seller of my book (isn’t that cover awesome?!) I will be placing two “customer shop copies” and displaying one copy. FTC Coffee will keep extras in stock. It looks as if book buyers at FTC Coffee will get a free, small sized coffee with the purchase of the book. I am working a similar agreement at the hair salon as well: a couple of customer house copies and then a display and stock to sell.
Vacation destinations/Resorts: Many destination hotels and resorts have libraries of movies and books they allow their patrons to borrow. A donated copy or two might find a home somewhere fancy.
Friends: Two of my high school classmates are DJ’s in the Portland, OR area. I am contacting them see if any of their station, or a sister station has programming that would lend itself to an interview, mention or other possible exposure.
Local Sites in the Book: Ocean/beach essays are prevalent in my book. As such I’ve contacted the bakery in Cannon Beach, OR to see if they will accept a copy and possibly sell them. Through this research I have landed an ARC read with a reviewer at the Cannon Beach Bookstore, which could lead to her writing a review in the Daily Astorian Newspaper.
Other Businesses: Doctor and dentist offices, bed and breakfasts, and any other establishment where customers loiter or have to wait are fair game (Airports, bus stations, etc.).
I’m interested in how this will play out. But I never dreamed that within 10 days of its release, copies of my book will be in ten states and six countries.
This is a small sampling of alternate marketing venues for your book. Many others exist, which means there is more work to do. I’m off to explore those, because this book is gonna be hot. Just ask my mom.
What other ideas or markets have you considered or found successful in marketing your book?
Dean is giving away one copy of his book And Then I Smiled to a U.S. or Canada resident who leaves a comment on this post before midnight Mountain Time Tuesday, February 25th. The winner will be posted here on Wednesday, Feb. 26th.
Dean is a freelance writer and professional member of Northern Colorado
Writers. His work has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood, TROUT magazine, Torrid Literature Journal and other literary magazines. His essays won three separate contests at www.midlifecollage.com. For 26 years, Miller has kept the skies safe as an air traffic controller for the FAA In his spare time, he enjoys fly
fishing and volunteers for the veteran’s support group Project Healing Waters
Fly Fishing. He lives in Colorado with his wife and their two dogs, Bear and Snickers.
For more information about Dean and his writing, please visit his website and blog. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
This is his first book.
I wasn't near a computer to promote most of the excellent posts at the RMFW Blog last week, so here are the links, just in case you missed something great.
Monday, February 17th. Pam Nowak, the new RMFW president, talked about writerly organizations and critique groups in Being in Community With Other Writers. Pam writes historical romance set in the American West.
Tuesday, February 18th. Everything you've ever wanted to know about writing a mystery and were afraid to ask is in Engineering a Mystery by Beth Groundwater. Beth writes the Claire Hanover gift basket designer series and the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventure series featuring white water river ranger Mandy Tanner.
Friday, February 21st. The question we all ask over and over, When is "done" done? is tackled by Sean Curley. The revision and self-editing process can turn into the neverending story, so take a look at Sean's plan for getting the job "done."
Next week is going to be pretty cool, too. Regular contributors Katriena Knights and Julie Kazimer will be joined by our newest monthly blogger Liesa Malik and guest bloggers Warren Hammond and Yvonne Montgomery.
You can subscribe to the RMFW blog posts via email. Just go to the main blog page and scroll down the right sidebar until you see the box to enter your email address.