Monthly Archives: September 2014

Lost in the Crowd

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As of today, Amazon.com has 2.8+ million Kindle e-books available on their site with 243,164 of those released in the last ninety days. With those kinds of numbers, books can easily become lost in a crowd that might look something like the one above: all very much the same. So how can an unknown author stand out?

This is a question I’ve been pondering as I write a paranormal romance while watching my husband and writing partner, JT Hume, release his work on Kindle. He has three books available at this time: one political, one religious, and one women’s fiction. Three different stories in three different categories with three different sets of characters. The one common thread among all three of them is a strong romantic/relationship subplot.

JT Hume is not Stephen King (though people often tell my husband he could be SK’s identical twin) so he doesn’t have the recognizable name to help sell his books. His covers are interesting, but maybe not different enough from other authors’ books to make them stand out that way. Using appropriate keywords to help readers find the work is an important, and difficult aspect, so that could be an issue. Plus, none of these books yet have a sequel – and I hear that series sell.

I’ve also been trying to help JT develop a “platform,” though I’m not quite sure how to go about that so we’re both bobbing along in the vast ocean that is social media like Jack and Rose from Titanic.

Other authors are wonderful about sharing tips and tricks on their blogs and I’ve read a lot of them over the past few months. The problem is that reading and doing are two different things. I haven’t yet had the “aha moment” that will allow me to truly comprehend what needs to be done to keep my Jack from disappearing into that dark ocean. Right now, he’s just hiding in the dark basement with his new game system so he can ignore that his books aren’t selling.

Anyone have ideas on how I might get him out?

If you’re interested, check him out here:  JT Hume on Amazon

Housekeeping – Writer Wednesday

After finishing a second draft of my current WIP, a paranormal romance I’m calling Royal Flush, I started preparing myself for the next go-round. The manuscript showed some gaping plot holes, a few inconsistencies in story, and places where I need to finalize some of the more interesting details. Since this book will be the first in a series, I also need to get a handle on the overarching details that will carry forward into future installments.

A trip to our favorite local office supply store allowed me to pick up some basic supplies. I’ve got red pens and highlighters for proofing and editing, a portable file to organize my notes, colored magnets for my white board calendar, and day-of-the-week binder clips to separate my manuscript into manageable chunks.  I’ve tossed all the old dried-out pens in my cups and replaced them with fresh ones.

Digging through the basement turned up a nice ‘new’ set of drapes for my office window; with autumn on the horizon, the changing light is causing glare on my computer screen while I work. My shelves are now neater thanks to a couple hours spent gathering all my writing books into a ready reference area right next to my desk.

I’ve placed a few things on the shelves across from my desk: a sign that says “ready, set, write,” a quill pen and inkwell, and family photos I can stare at while I think. The supports of the high shelf above me (where my creepy dolls stare over my shoulders while I work) dangle lengths of twine where I attach reference photos and note cards with clothes pins. Once I get a frame, a sepia-toned map will also go up on my wall.

The finishing touch to my office area is the old boom box that plays an oldies station while I work. I’ve also got old CDs of classical music that helps set the mood for certain scenes.

Housekeeping like this is a means of procrastination, of course. Yet getting my office into shape as I progress through a writing project helps me to get a handle on my story. This is also a good way to use up some of the excess energy that builds up after I’ve spent long stretches at the keyboard.

Now that everything in my office is organized again, I’m off on the most crucial part of my writing process – cleaning up the mess I made of my story during my first edit!

A Visit With JT Hume

Emma Parks Cover
Emma Parks

I’d like to introduce you to JT Hume today as he prepares to release his next Kindle book. Not only my writing partner, we’re also partners in life and have been married 32 years. We have three fantastic kids, a great son-in-law, and one (soon to be two) awesome grandsons. During our time together, we’ve lived in the Midwest and West with a brief side trip to the Far East. Our life so far has been great fun – and now we’re both embarking on the adventure that is writing while pursuing our day jobs as mild-mannered public servants.

And now, here’s JT:

Hope Knocks Twice is your third Kindle book. Do you have a favorite of the three you’ve written so far? Why?

No, because all three appeal to me in different ways. Duties Faithfully Executed, my first, is a rags-to-riches story about a man struggling with his inner demons, something we all have to deal with as we grow up, but the outcome of his struggles have a far-reaching impact. The main characters in A Thousand Chariots try to reconcile their forbidden love with their faith. The latest, Hope Knocks Twice, is about someone who is way over her head in a new job with problems coming at her from all sides, most of them nothing like she expected. Her solutions, some imperfect at best, were fascinating to script out.

How did you come up with the character of Emma Parks?

She’s an amalgamation of the strong women who raised me, the strong woman I’m married to, the three we raised, and the ones I’ve been lucky enough to work with. This is an exciting time for women, and while we have a long ways to go in terms of opportunities and pay, the entire chain of command at my day job is dominated by energetic, intelligent, and positive women. In a way, Emma Parks is an homage to all of the women who’ve touched my life, as well as their struggles and their successes.

Does the story or the character come first?

For me, character must come first. I’m a committed people watcher and I’m endlessly fascinated by personalities, perceptions, and opinions. To create and extrapolate a “complete” person in print is the challenging and perhaps most rewarding part of the writing process.

Have you based any characters on people you know?

Not really. The main characters are generally people I’d like to meet and have as friends and relatives. Will people reading my books be able to point at a page and say, “Hey. I know (her/him).” Sure, but that’s possible with any work of fiction. I try to do what all writers do: make interesting stories about interesting yet flawed people.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

“Pantser”? Is that a real word? (laughs) If you mean if I write from the seat of my pants, then that’s probably the most fair description.

What’s your writing process like? Do you follow any special routine?

I’ll start with a general idea and ending, and then think out the details while walking my 10,000 steps a day (thanks, FitBit!). Once I’ve cemented the main points, I’ll set up a graph in Excel for my daily word count (2000 a day) and then I’m off to the races.

Which authors have influenced you?

Wow. That’s a long list. If I have to pick a few, Robert Louis Stevenson and his Treasure Island begins the list. The science fiction masters of Heinlein, Herbert, McCaffrey, Bradbury, and so on, taught me to go to faraway places while keeping the human equation as the centerpiece of the novel. Every author should cite Hemingway, and for good reason. And there’s always the Bard, the subject of my favorite classes at the university. My readers probably can guess my favorite play (hint: the two teenagers from Verona).

What’s your next project?

I’ll probably fall back to the basics for the next one: alien abductions, secret government intrigue, impossible romances, end of the world kind of stuff. You know, the usual ho-hum standards.

To learn more about JT Hume, check out his website and blog here:

http://www.jthumebooks.com/