Saturday, January 30, 2010

Silly Saturday Random Blatherings

It’s Saturday. I should be sleeping in, but I’m not. Silly isn’t it to get up when you don’t have to? Actually, I found it more inspiring than anything and decided I would like to, on occasion, do a silly Saturday writing. Now that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be funny…more random than anything but that doesn’t sound as good: Random Saturday. Hmmm.

As usual, I began to awaken around 4:30 this morning. My neighbor goes to work at 4:30 during the week and I can hear him leave. I take that back. My cat hears him get in his vehicle and feels the need to let me know that he’s leaving and THEN I can hear him leave. Anyway, it has conditioned my body to begin the wake-up procedure around that time. It’s okay, I suppose. I usually doze making mental notes or working on the next part of whatever story I’m writing and try to make sure I’m up before the alarm goes off at exactly 6:05. I get up at 6:00 normally but just in case…the alarm goes off five minutes later.

This morning my mind was filled with randomness. I’d gone to sleep thinking about the next section of A Marriage of Necessity. Yesterday’s scene was more transitional and not nearly as fun and exciting to write. The good news is I got past it and the story flows on. The bad news was I know what I want to happen next and would have rather written than gone to bed. I resisted. My dogs had to sleep in the garage because of the cold temps and I knew they would not settle down if I didn’t. The kids tend to be up and down when I stay up as well. Not good. Go to bed! Still, I awakened with thoughts firing from every different direction, leading me to the idea for a Silly Saturday of Random Blatherings.

My computer doesn’t like the word blatherings, btw. I checked it with the Thesaurus. Blather means chatter or nonsense so wouldn’t blatherings be presumed to be nonsensical chatterings? Hey! It likes the word nonsensical but not chatterings! Go figure!!!

We’re having weather in Oklahoma. About 7 inches of white covers the great outdoors of Green Country. Wednesday it was 60 and Thursday it began to snow, continuing on and off through Friday. It has stopped and the world looks peaceful and still. Beautiful. A Facebook friend summed it up perfectly. She wrote: thinks Mother Nature is going through menopause - one day hot flashes the next she's an icy b!+@h !!! It’s fitting and so very Oklahoma. The saying is, “if you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute.” It’s very capricious.

And capricious is what I’m feeling today. Not sure what I want to do. One minute I think I will write or perhaps do some of the formatting work that needs to get done and the next I decide I should read on one of the many books that are amassing on my desk. I have Story Craft by John R. Erickson the Hank the Cowdog author; an autographed copy purchased for me by Chris Janzen. Steve Weber personally sent me his Plug You Book as well as his ePublish on which I owe him a review! (that makes me sound like somebody doesn't it? Ha, ha, ha). I picked up Unravelled by Robyn Harding at the book store a few days ago. It looked quite interesting; witty and perhaps a bit edgy. I’ve never read her work but think I’ll enjoy it.

Want to share what you’re reading? I’d love to hear all about it. You can always comment here or email me at The Shelf Life of Linda Boulanger is a good place for FaceBook interaction. Let me hear from you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

How Much Is Too Much? -- A Kiss On Paper...

The other day my friend/writer and current pre-reader Chris Janzen and I had an email conversation about romance. Well, romance writing anyway and, more specifically, how much is too much. You may recall that I posted my faux pas in becoming so excited that I sent my pre-readers another chunk of the A Marriage of Necessity story without a pivotal paragraph. That paragraph just so happened to be a kissing scene that took them from playful flirtation to fumbling over her buttons. Now keep in mind that I am trying REALLY hard to make this a book that any woman would be comfortable reading yet still satisfy my need for romance and love.

That brings me to my question of today: How much really is too much? What are you comfortable with? Do you want to have the author gloss over the details while giving you enough that you know what is happening or would you prefer it spelled it?

In this particular section with Mark and Terry from A Marriage of Necessity I rather glossed over the details (not to say that is necessarily how it will end up when all is said and done):

She screamed again and dissolved into laughter as he growled and snapped then playfully bit her neck. She stared at him wide-eyed, her smile replaced with expectation. “Kiss me, Mark,” she whispered as he lowered his lips to hers.

Hunger was the only word to describe what passed between them; that all out need to satisfy needs and to be needed. Mark hastily led his new bride to his room where they fumbled and stumbled like love struck teenagers.

Now compare that to the kiss between David and Elizabeth from another story that will be forthcoming eventually. The working title of this book is Everything Old Is New Again:

I can’t do this,” she whispered. He stood behind her. She could feel his body pressing ever closer to hers. His hands, those same hands that had pulled her close, helped to warm her on the bus with the broken window, now caressed her upper arms. Only now they were not the hands of a young schoolboy. They were hands of experience, hands that knew…
His fingers tracked across her back, enticing as they moved up to pull the hair away from her neck. She closed her eyes as he kissed her bare shoulder, cursing herself for having chosen this dress for the night’s event. It had been chosen for a purpose, this purpose. His lips, so warm, traced a sensual line up to her slender neck where his tongue drew tantalizing circles along her jaw line.
“Oh please, David.” Her voice was breathless, testifying to the war that raged within. His other hand slipped down, curving around her waist to quickly turn her to face him.
“Yes you can,” he said as their eyes locked. She blinked slowly; intoxicated by the moment. Had she truly thought that if she fanned the embers of those long-suppressed flames, they would not, in fact, engulf her? She moistened her lips, her eyes trailed down to his; full, sensual lips slightly smiling, waiting, knowing. She smiled as she looked back at his eyes that danced with a mixture of mischief and desire. How many years she had waited for this moment; wondered, dreamed.
“You want to. It’s why you came,” he said as his head began to lower toward hers.
As if on cue, her cell phone rang. She looked toward it. The photo of her smiling children stared back from the phone’s face. She laughed, moving away from him.

Which do you like better? The situations are pretty much the same; there’s a neck kiss and then lips lowering to lips. Yet 2 paragraphs with little detail are used in the first compared to 6 in the later. Do they conjure up differing emotions? Are you comfortable with one over the other? I want to hear from you. Just think, your opinion MAY result in the way I proceed with the A Marriage of Necessity book. Will I give you co-author status? Undoubtedly, NO! :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Social Networking = Social Marketing?

It gets a bit confusing when things get made easier. That sentence is a bit confusing in itself. What I mean is, we have the opportunity to reach so many from right behind our desks, the very desk where we often create the "product" we're trying to pitch. For me, it's my books and in all my research on marketing, social network marketing seems to be the "biggie" right now. With the increased popularity of FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace and the likes, people are connecting like never before. I come from a big family and had a big family. My personal FaceBook is filled with daily comments from those family members as well as old friends and many new friends I have made along the way. I enjoy these little blips of connection on a personal level.

However, as a writer I've begun to see these social networking machines as a tool, thanks to several great newsletters and articles I have read. In fact, I spent the morning yesterday updating several sites and set up a FaceBook Page for myself as an author. I then became my own Fan! Felt a bit stalkerish and freaky but, thanks to my friend Denise, I now have a new story idea running through my head. That's just the way it works. The page? The Shelf Life of Linda Boulanger.

I publish a quarterly eZine called Get Noticed that you can link to through the Awesome Messages site. I talk quite a bit about Marketing on both the Marketing Your Book page as well as articles in the Archives. According to information I pulled for those articles, Twitter, FaceBook, Linked In…social networking sites keep your book before the public eye. Seeing your willingness to help market yourself or your book is also considered a plus to publishers who might consider picking you up. So, get blogging and set up your social connecting because it really is considered the way of the future (right now at least). I don't want to simply repeat what I wrote there so make sure you follow the links above and hop over to those marketing pages if that's of interest to you. There's some really great info and links in there!

The bottom line, these sites are a great way to connect but remember it takes time to build your following. Don't get frustrated if you don't have 300 fans your first day. Post relevant comments, learn about keyword usage, learn about submitting your posts to article directories, and so on. I'm still learning so stay with me and perhaps we can climb that social marketing ladder together. I welcome your tips and comments as well.

Sidenote: For those who don't know, I live in Northern Oklahoma. Yesterday it was 59 degrees. Today we are due for an ice and snow storm that will most likely close our schools this afternoon and tomorrow. If you don't hear from me for a couple of'll know why. I'm buried!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Words of Encouragement -- Make Them Real

I realize this came from my mom but I found it better than a nice hug or a washcloth on your forehead when you're sick....well, almost as good. The words were very encouraging at any rate and I'd like to share them with you. Keep in mind that I have a couple of people reading the A Marriage of Necessity story as it unfolds and I send it to them a bit at a time as I complete the typing in. In an email from Mom, she wrote: I finished the last part you sent me and can hardly wait for more. I hope I am not rushing you. You know that I read a lot and not too many books move me like this one does. My friend and fellow author/illustrator Christina Janzen is also reading as I go and has been encouraging with a hand to the back (or maybe that's the crack of a whip I feel!). I chose these two as readers because I knew they would shoot me straight, tell me if it wasn't good.

...and that brings me to the point of this post... Always, always, always - no matter how much you think it might hurt the feelings of the author - always tell them the truth about their writing. Granted, they can agree to disagree with you and the rest of the world may agree with them that it is great and wonderful. We all have differing tastes. However, if it simply isn't working for you or it's confusing or just flat out stinky, you need to find a nice way and tell them. Co-writer Patrick Sipperly, Chris(tina) Janzen, and I have been part of the weekly challenge for some time now. Although we don't always submit, when we do, we usually zip our stories off to one another and ask for opinions/edits. My story Unwanted (included in my book Becoming...) ended up as an Editors Choice story and I have to give credit to a suggestion made by Pat that lead to a change in the first paragraph. His comment to me was something like this isn't doing it for me, how about blah, blah, blah. I took his comments to heart, made some changes and it is a very emotion-packed and compelling story. If you want to read that story, you can link from here: It's the 6th story from the bottom of my Challenge Articles.

Other times Pat or Chris will give suggestions and I will disagree. That's okay too. I'm sure they don't take everything I say and incorporate it. Still, these critiques and venues of constructive criticism are important, especially if you know those you have chosen into your critique circle are telling you the truth. Keep it real and it will not only be more helpful and appreciated but you'll probably find yourself on the inside scoop side of getting to read the author's work before anyone else.

Developing a group of writing/reading friends is a great way to have your work critiqued. There are also author's sites and groups where you can submit your work. Chris has used the critique circles of the site to have her work critiqued by others. ( is a site dedicated to helping authors find a secure way of having their work critiqued. They claim that, unlike other forums that offer public critiquing, they offer a more private and intimate service for members. I haven't used them but did find some additional interesting information on their site., an online community for readers and writers, offers writers the ability to get a feel as to how readers will react to their work with a rating system. You may also showcase your work on without receiving feedback, however, they feel that the constant exposure to opinion and constructive criticism can increase the quality of an author’s writing. They also state that an author may find reading and reviewing other members' items to further their own writing with new ideas, writing styles and topics. offers a place to post short stories and poetry where others may comment/critique. One author also posted the following as places to put your work, though I have not checked them out:,,, Many of these places allow you to become a member for free.

So, whether you get feedback from friends and family or you desire the kudos of fellow authors, there are options. Just remember, turnabout is fair play and you should offer critiques in return but always make your words of encouragement real.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Birth of a Book

I woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago with a new story idea in my head. It had to do with a woman having to marry this man with a bunch of kids. Now I’ve been working on what I thought would be a trilogy of stories that would go in a book called Love With A Twist Of Lime. The three stories (2 of which are already mostly written) were to have the common theme of each of the main female characters being unable to have children and it making them feel somehow unworthy to be a wife. Crazy idea perhaps but, hey, it was the one I had and they were turning out pretty good.

Now, as I said, two of the stories are pretty much done and now I have to decide what I will do with them because this third story quickly let me know it would not be told in 70 pages. It wanted full-length novel status. So what of the other two? I’ve considered lengthening them into their very own stand-alone books or, perhaps I’ll have to write another story that will go in the trilogy in place of my current project and the subject that led me to create this blog. (A bonus of being self-published; I can make those decision changes at whim.)

Back to the original line of this post…I sat down at my computer and began to type the story that was unfolding in my head. I hardly ever do that – type it directly into the computer. I almost always write longhand in a notebook and then transcribe, making changes as I go. But not this time. I started the story, got to a good stopping point and zipped it off to my mom and author/illustrator friend Christina Janzen. “Read it,” I pleaded (had to twist their arms, of course). Almost immediately they shot back requesting I get busy so they could read more which, of course, prompted me to continue.

The book is titled A Marriage of Necessity and is, of course, evolving into much more than just a woman having to marry a man with a bunch of kids. As the teaser says, there’s an unfortunate accident, the death of a spouse, a man in need of help, and the threat of a lost inheritance. If you’d like to read that first part I sent to them, it is available on the preview page of my author website: I haven’t fixed the errors yet and a couple of things have changed. That always happens as the rest of the story is written, but hopefully it will be enough to bring you back to see how it’s going. I’ve managed to type in about 51 pages though I have a lot more handwritten ones (yes, I reverted back). The 51 typewritten pages equate to approximately 130 book pages. How many pages do I expect it to be? As many as it takes to tell the story to completion though 300 seems like a pretty good number to me….always subject to change. :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

To Self-Publish Or Not....

The decision to self-publish did not come without extreme thought and research. As an author, I believe one immediately thinks of big named publisher backing. However, as I began to research I learned that new authors have about a 5% chance of finding an agent and a 1% chance that agent will even sell their book. Even soliciting publishers like Tate Publishing, an Oklahoma based Christian operation that just happened to have an ad on my blog as I was writing this, make it clear that they only accept about 3 percent of all manuscripts received. Granted, their reasoning is valid in their desire to provide their authors with a quality product, hence not taking on more than they can handle. Still, it can be dashing to know you will undoubtedly be met with rejection after rejection.

Now, I was the kid who desired beautiful pictures and set out with my crayons to produce such only to get impatient and scribble to get it finished. Fortunately they turned out quite artsy, but I never learned patience! That being said, I chose to self-publish. I did not, however, choose to be out a lot of money upfront. I was amazed at how much many of the self-publishing companies wanted to charge! Yikes!!! Again, my research led me to a solution in's CreateSpace Print On Demand publishing. For me, it was/is perfect.

I've now published 3 books of my own through them, have published 3 books for other authors using their service, and have 2 books for others in the proof process, as well as 6 in the formatting process. Using CreateSpace also offered immediate access to's sales channel. It seemed like a win-win to me and I've been extremely pleased.

Although I've opted for the ProPlan with each book ($39.00 which allows the author to keep a larger share of the royalties from the book), I have been able to get my proofs for under $10.00 each and that includes the shipping. Then I decide how many books to order or whether I want to offer them via the internet only and have no out of pocket cost at all.

Once I took the plunge with the first book, thanks to the gentle promptings of my wonderful writing partner Patrick Sipperly, I realized this was the way for me. I also realized there were others in my same shoes that may or may not have the desire to tackle the formatting, cover design, and other aspects of self-publishing. CreateSpace offers a service to those individuals that runs, on special, over $750.00 leading me to create my own publishing company to offer the same services at a noticeably reduced cost. I don't mind steering interested authors who desire to do it themselves in the right direction ( or I can help with my TreasureLine Publishing and services offered at

I love what I do and feel so blessed to be living my dream. Part of that dream is helping others with the same dream so I hope you'll write to me and let me know if I can help or visit my One Stop Publisher if you have an interest.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

You NEED an outline. Really?

I remember feeling greatly relieved when I learned that famed author Stephen King believes that creativity and flow are hurt by an outline because I hardly ever make an outline before I start a story. I get a general idea in my head and pretty much know where I want it to go, however, the characters often take on lives of their own and dictate to me what we'll be doing. I find it rather exciting that way because it's often as if I'm reading the story as well. The process reminds me of a flower that starts as a bud and opens, little by little, to reveal a beautiful, full-blown blossom.
It can, however, lead to potential rewrites or deletions of already written parts. I'm okay with that. Some writers are not. They don't want to do a bunch of work that will get tossed to the side. I've heard that author Janet Evanovich believes the outlining stage should be even longer than the actual writing. Yikes! That's not for me. However, I like what full-time freelance writer Steve Thompson has said. In his post Do You Need an Outline Before You Write Your Book , he reminds us that "What most aspiring authors don't realize is that an outline is a tool, and not a prerequisite." I got the feeling from the article that Steve is an outline user, however, he encourages writers to try it but do what feels the most comfortable. Hats off to you Steve for telling writers to explore and find what works best for them! His article also reiterated what I'd already learned about Stephen King and Janet Evanovich.
When my husband worked in the music industry in Nashville, he had the opportunity to sit in on a few songwriting sessions (with some known writers, actually, but who wants to drop names :) they were the same way. Many of the writers wanted to "know exactly where the song was going" while others just wanted to start singing and see where it took them.
Bottom have to do what works for you and, either way, it's okay. There's no right and wrong, just a need to develop great characters in a great story. (sorry guys! I'm new to blogging and it keeps deleting the spaces between my paragraphs on this one. I tried to differentiate them with bold and italics).

Beginning To Write

I have begun to write my first novel. Well, that's not exactly true. I actually have about 17 in various stages. This one, however, will be the first one published and I'm very excited about it. I hope you will follow along with me on the journey through the writing process, publishing, book marketing...all of it. The book is titled A Marriage of Necessity and you may preview the cover and read a sample on the Preview Page of my author website (

While you're there you might notice I have a couple more books out there. My first book, Time Out On A Roller Coaster, is a collection of fun and light short stories that I wrote with my dear friend Patrick Sipperly. It was my first-born as far as published books goes and I will share some of the ups and downs of that process as well.

How Sadie Learned To SMILE is my first children's book, illustrated by friend and awesome author Christina Janzen. Chris and I have another children's book in the works called Pistachio (he's a snowman). It's a lighthearted story of finding a way to keep those we love near and dear to our hearts.

Okay! Think that's enough for my first post to give you an idea of what I'll be doing here. I hope you'll either leave comments or email me ( to let me know a bit about you!