Monday, October 31, 2011

Tournament of Champions: Third Week Recap

*Guest post by Michelle Massaro
Week THREE of COTT's Tournament of Champions saw four more authors compete and three more scavenger hunts played. 
Here's a recap:
On Monday, players were sent to Elaine Cooper's Blog with a mission: Find the full name of the girl Nathaniel Stearns falls in love with in the book trailer video on her home page. Renee C won a $10 Amazon gift card from Marianne Evans, author of Hearts Crossing.

Tuesday, the hunt was on at Shellie Neumeier's Blog. The question: What is the name of the book Shellie co-wrote with Lisa Lickel? Tammy G won a $10 Amazon gift card from April Gardner, author of Wounded Spirits.
Wednesday we were led to Naomi Musch's Blog. The question: In her new release, The Red Fury, Colette's daughter Lainey is seeking solace from tragic loss and two searing rejections by doing what 2 things? B.J. Robinson won a $10 CBD gift card donated by Ann Gaylia O'Barr, author of Singing in Babylon.
Want your own spending spree? Be sure to play in this week's hunts. Check Clash of the Titles for game info.

And what about the competing books? Who won?
Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride and Lena Nelson Dooley's Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico battled on Monday. A Tailor-Made Bride came out the winner.
Christine Lindsay's Shadowed in Silk and Naomi Musch's The Green Veil struck swords on Wednesday. The Green Veil took the top spot.
These two victorious titles competed together on Friday to determine which would move on to the finals for a chance to win the Laurel Award. And that finalist is...
Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride!

There are now three finalists vying for the ultimate COTT honor. In this final week they'll be joined by a fourth book, then all will be thrown into the ring until only ONE remains. Who will it be? It's up to readers to decide, so cast your votes!
The Laurel will be awarded on November 4th, along with the 15-book grand prize that will be given to one lucky reader. Want a shot at it? You can enter by sharing links, putting up buttons and banners on your blog, becoming a follower of COTT, etc. Details on the prize basket and full instructions on how to enter can be found here. To make it easy to grab n go, here are the banner and button codes (just don't forget to let them know if you put them up!)


Clash of The Titles

Here's the button code:

* Michelle Massaro is the Assistant Editor for COTT. Find her on twitter @MLMassaro, Facebook, and Adventures In Writing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Saying it in 250 Words or Less

Here is the back cover text for Where Love Once Lived. It was difficult putting it in 250 words or less.

She'd once loved a bookmobile driver. Memories of that time with him poured in so rapidly she caught her breath. It'd been long ago, but her heart remembered. At first she remembered the love she'd felt back then, but the good memories didn't last long. She'd gone to the bookmobile as usual that last day, but nothing was to be the same again. She went to Brian with love and exciting news. She left alone. Not just without him, but alone in the world and apart from God.

Is it ever too late to find happiness? No, says Sidney W. Frost in his inspirational Christian novel, Where Love Once Lived. Brian Donelson returns to his hometown after a thirty-year absence to win back his beloved Karen. But Karen, who has grown closer to God than he has, harbors a secret that keeps her away from Brian at all costs. While driving the local bookmobile, Brian struggles to earn her trust, even as he grapples with secrets of his own. With God’s help, can these two find happiness? Beautifully written and told with wit and grace, Where Love Once Lived is a moving love story filled with the glory of God.

What do you think about it?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trying to Ignore God's Nudges

The idea for writing a bookmobile story came to me while driving one back in the 1960's. I was a college student at the University of Texas assigned to drive for a feisty librarian who got us into trouble with the head librarian several times because of helping our patrons in ways unrelated to books. I wanted to write a humorous novel about her, but quickly learned I didn't know much about writing.

The writing urge hit me again a few years later, and I started a fictional account of my time in the marines in the 1950's and my true-life experience of driving with a black friend from California to Texas. I had read enough books to know it was an interesting idea and would have made a great novel. But once again, I was reminded I didn't know how to craft a novel. After that I settled for non-fiction writing.

The nudge to write the bookmobile story came again in 2004, and this time I said no because I knew it was too hard. The very next Sunday, my pastor, Dr. Jeanie Stanley, said this: "Trust the Lord God with your dreams and He will help you achieve them." This gave me the idea to turn the whole project over to God. To remind myself I wasn't alone, I wrote a prayer which I printed and taped to the computer monitor.

Dear Lord, be my source of inspiration. Give me the words you want the world to hear. Help me create the story and the characters to convey your message in such a way as to be desirable to the business world of publishers. Guide my hands and stay in my mind and my heart while I write and while I edit. Amen

By then I was smart enough to know I needed help so I started taking online basic fiction writing classes. At the time I was in the Austin Lyric Opera Chorus and rehearsing three times a week for eight or nine months out of the year, and didn't want to take on a large writing project. But, God wouldn't let me use that as an excuse. I retired from the chorus, continued to study and started writing Where Love Once Lived. That's when I met my teacher, Bonnie Hearn Hill. More about her later.

I don't want this to come across as me believing my book is the word of God. Far from it. All I'm trying to say is that I had a strong urge to write and publish Where Love Once Lived. I hope it makes you laugh and cry, and if just one person should happen to move closer to God because of it, then all the effort was worthwhile.

How about you? Have you ever felt compelled to do something so strong you wondered if God was trying to tell you something?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Austin, the Friendly City

Where Love Once Lived is set in the current time in Austin, Texas. However, the male protagonist has lived in California for the past thirty years and his memory of Austin is different than the way the city is today. It doesn't bother him that Austin's slogan has changed from Austin the Friendly City to Keep Austin Weird. He doesn't even notice. He finds the place on Dry Creek near Mt. Bonnell Road where he and his college buddies rented a cabin and he builds his house there, including a replica of the cabin that had fallen to the ground from decay. Brian is determined to recapture his youth, and marry his college sweetheart. He buys a bookmobile, because that was the last place where he had been with Karen, and makes a deal with the city to try it for a year as long as he pays the expenses.

In addition to the cabin, scenes take place at an elementary school built in the 1950's, Mt. Bonnell, Clarksville, and the city library (the old one, not the new one), the University of Texas campus, and Manor.

It was fun revisiting the Austin of the past while writing the book, and I hope you'll enjoy reading about it. I was born in Austin and went through school there. I joined the marines after learning I wasn't ready for college, and didn't get back to Austin for 20 plus years. It had changed so much by then I hardly knew where I was. But, it didn't matter. Everywhere I went I could see and feel the past, the place where the memories lived. Once, I told an old friend I'd meet him at the drug store. When we both got there, we noticed the corner we'd been thinking about was now a strip mall and there wasn't a drug store anywhere near there. Another fun thing is that we, my buddies and I, know routes through town that newcomers don't.

How about you? Have you experienced a change in your life or your surroundings that made you wish for the good old days? Were the good old days as good as you remember? How do you handle change? Do you embrace it or fight it? Place is not as important as who you are. You can take your beliefs and faith in God wherever you go. Likewise, you can't move to another place to get away from problems. They go with you, too.

In Where Love Once Lived, Brian never recaptures his youth, of course, because that's impossible. But he does learn that what he was searching for was the love of God.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Racism is Alive and Well, Unfortunately

Shouts of racism are in the news every day now even though you'd think we'd be way past that today. The old saying, what would Jesus do, comes to mind.

In my book, Where Love Once Lived, the male protagonist is white and his best friend is black. I'm not sure how that happened, but it did make the story more interesting. I'm sure it has a lot to do with my personal beliefs. However, how does a writer who believes in equality, write about people of different races without sounding like he or she is emphasizing the differences. Ideally, race wouldn't be mentioned. This might work in a movie or TV show, but in the black and white of a book, how do you show the black and white of the characters?

I grew up in Austin, Texas during the segregation period, and use the father of one of the characters in the book to tell about some of my experiences of that time. I turned one story upside down, letting a black character tell about his experiences. As George McCullough, now in his seventies, describes his experience back in the 1930-40's with segregation, I'm the white boy he refers to. Well, as far as fiction allows.

"It's called historical, now," Mr. McCullough said holding a fork in the air. "It use' to be a ghetto, you know." He glanced at Brian. "I don't guess Cindy told you that. Most of the Negroes lived east of Austin, but there was a colony here in Clarksville."

Mr. McCullough continued. "When I was growin' up, there were boundaries, you see. We couldn't jus' live anywhere we wanted. Ever'one knew where the lines were. Our street here was as far south as we could live."

He shook his head. "Today, it doesn't matter. No one's shocked when black and white marry, even." He locked eyes with Brian, then moved his gaze to Cindy.

"When was this neighborhood a ghetto, Grandpa?" Cindy asked. "I've heard the story, but I think Brian would like to hear about it, too."

"Let's see." He touched a thumb to his fingers. "I'd say up until sometime in the 1950s." He pointed south. "Over at Mathews School, on 9 ½ Street, that was white. Our lot touched up to a white family's back yard." He laughed. "I'd forgotten about that. Fact is, back in the 1930's or 40's, I use' to play with the little kid who lived there. Well, not play, really. We mos'ly jus' talked through the chicken wire. My Mama and Daddy told me not to, but I did anyway."

As the author, I also worried about making Mr. McCullough sound different. To make up for using the speech pattern, which I felt gave a better view of the character, later in the book, his intelligence is clearly shown.

How do you write about race differences without emphasizing the differences? What do you prefer as a reader?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rockin' the Party at COTT!

*guest post by Delia Latham
It's been a bang-up bash all week at Clash of the Titles. We've been blog-hopping for treasure, and a couple gals found the loot!
LINDA won Game #1. She'll receive a 
$10 Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate 
CLAUDIA RIZZI won Game #2. She'll receive a 
$25 Partylite Gift Certificate 
Michelle Massaro.
Congratulations to our game winners!
And the fun continues all the way through Nov. 4th. Our doors are open and we have a whole pile of party hats just waiting to be worn. Bring your votes and come on down!
In the midst of all the fun and games this week, we had four authors at swordspoint with TWO Clashes. All four entries were outstanding, and each possessed strong winning qualities. But, as in any race or competition, not everyone makes the finals.
We chose a single winner from each Clash. These two went head-to-head on Saturday…and only one will proceed to the finals and duke it out for the COTT Laurel Award.
This week's Clash WINNERS are:
Clash #3:
Erin Rainwater with her excerpt from 
Clash #4: 
Elaine Marie Cooper and her excerpt from 
These two went head-to-head on Saturday…with only one proceeding to the finals to duke it out for the COTT Laurel Award.
That one is....

Elaine Marie Cooper and her excerpt from 

Cyber-hugs and sincere thanks to Anne Patrick and Margaret Brownley! These were tough decisions and difficult votes to make. You're ALL winners!
More games and more exerpts are up for grabs this week, so don't miss out. Stop by COTT and play.
*Delia Latham is the author of the Solomon's Gate Series and a Blog Alliance Correspondent for COTT

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kindle Prices Up!

Has anyone else noticed that the price of Kindle books is higher than before? I love to read on my Kindle. I can get books instantly wherever I am. It is easy to make notes and highlight phrases without destroying the book with marks. I can up the size of the font when I need to because of the lack of lighting or because of propping the reader up at a distance. And, best of all, I'm saving a few trees while saving money.

Lately, however, I'm not sure about that advantage of saving money.  I've started to see a change in the difference between printed editions and digital editions. When I bought Jan Karon's latest book, I ordered the hardcover because, at the time, it was cheaper than the Kindle edition even after taking into consideration the cost of shipping. Today (October 23, 2011) the cost for In the Company of Others is:

$14.40 Hardcover
$10.88 Paperback
$12.99 Kindle

Which one would you buy?

When Davis Bunn's latest book, The Book of Dreams, came out I had my review ready on the day the book was released because the publisher had sent me an advance uncorrected proof. Thinking I would have the first review posted on, I was surprised to see a one-star review already there. The one-star review was because the Kindle edition was $14.99 while the paperback was $10.19.

I went ahead and posted my review. See: While there I added a comment to the one-star review saying I didn't think it was fair for someone to use a review to complain about the price of the book, especially since the reviewer said he hadn't read the book. I went back a few days later and noticed the one-star review was no longer there.

I have two Christian Fiction books published through CreateSpace. One book is a little longer than the other. For the longer book, Where Love Once Lived, I charge $15.95 for the paperback and $5.99 for the Kindle edition. The Vengeance Squad paperback is $12.95 and the Kindle edition is $4.99. My royalties are about the same for paperback and Kindle.

Here are some more examples of recently released books:

John Grisham, The Litigators, $14.99 Kindle, $15.22 Hardcover (no paperback yet)
Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me, $12.99 Kindle, $12.98 Hardcover (no paperback yet)
John Sandford, Shock Wave, $12.99 Kindle, $15.33 Hardcover (no paperback yet)
Sandra Brown, Lethal, $12.99 Kindle, $14.67 Hardcover, $10.19 Paperback
Stuart Woods, Son of Stone, $12.99 Kindle, $14.39 Hardcover, $10.87 Paperback
J.D. Robb, New York to Dallas, $12.99 Kindle, $16.25 Hardcover, $7.99 Paperback

This information was collected from a search of new releases on and are not books I have bought or even books I plan to read.

Like I said, I love my Kindle. However, I will continue to look for the best price even if that means buying a hardcover or paperback instead of a Kindle edition. I usually wait until I have enough books to get shipping free so that is not a concern.

Are you seeing a blurring of difference in the cost of paperback versus digital books? Are you, as an author, getting paid more for e-book sales? Will the increase in cost hurt the sale of e-books? How will you respond to the price increase of e-books?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

COTT Laurel Award


Over the last year, there have been 
Clashing author in twenty-four CLASHES, 
but only ONE can win the

YOU decide which!

In the process, we invite you to repeatedly enter to win
 including the GRAND PRIZE--