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Confessions of a Shoeoholic
In 1890, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in Journal, “The sense of being perfectly well-dressed gives a feeling of inner tranquility which religion is powerless to bestow.” I couldn’t agree more except to add “perfectly well-dressed and wearing a pair of red stilettos.”
There are only two things I collect: books and shoes. My book collection is larger than my shoe collection only because books are more affordable. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d send each of my sisters a big check, donate to my favorite animal rescue organizations, and then I’d head for the nearest city and buy every pair of shoes that caught my eye.
I suspect my shoe obsession had something to do with the need to rebel against my mother, not that she denied me footwear. But I do remember my mother commenting once on one of her friends having owned sixteen pairs of shoes, and “who did she think she was?” I also remember my mother ogling a pair of red shoes, but not buying them because she already owned a pair on red shoes and “what would people think?” Because of my mother’s beliefs and her reluctance to live wild, I swore I’d never own less than sixteen pairs of shoes and I’d buy as many red ones as I could afford. Right now, I have six pair.
And guess what else? I saw a news flash the other morning announcing that women who wear high heels well into their seventies are less likely to experience life-threatening falls. Seems that high heels improves one’s balance.
My love of shoes found its way into my Sydney Lockhart mysteries. Being a private detective, and having to dress in disguise on occasion, Sydney’s usual footwear are saddle shoes (the series is set in the 1950s), and cowboy boots (Sydney’s from Texas). But when she’s not chasing bad guys, Sydney dresses up in snug sweaters, pencil shirts, and high heels. There’s also a bit of rebel in Sydney too. Much to her mother’s annoyance, Sydney refers to her high heels as her tart shoes. And her sidekick cousin, Ruth Echland, wouldn’t be caught dead in anything but the latest Ferragamos.
Check out my latest Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the Driskill.
Kathleen Kaska writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mysteries set in the 1950s. Her first two books Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queens Book Group, the largest book group in the country.
The third book in the series, Murder at the Galvez, is set at the Galvez Hotel in Galveston. Kaska also writes the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, which includes The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book, The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book. The Alfred Hitchcock and the Sherlock Holmes trivia books are finalists for the 2013 EPIC award in nonfiction. Her nonfiction book, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story (University Press of Florida), was published in 2012. http://www.kathleenkaska.com, http://www.kathleenkaskawrites.blogspot.com/
It’s my pleasure to celebrate with my publisher Wendy Dingwall of Canterbury House Publishing. I can’t believe I’ve been with CHP since 2011 with three of my e-books, Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons, 1106 Grand Boulevard and The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley. Time does, indeed, fly.
Since Wendy has contributed and been featured in Dames of Dialogue many times, our readers are familiar with her and we all look forward to hearing from her.
Wendy Dingwall is the most honest, caring and hard-working publisher I’ve ever had and I’m proud to be part of the great Canterbury House. It’s exhilarating to share her feelings about her business on its Fifth Birthday. Enjoy…and learn…
From the desk of Publisher Wendy Dingwall
Whew! Where did the time go? It has certainly been a learning curve and then some. Especially given all the changes in the industry over the last five years.We are currently experiencing growing pains again due to our recent change of working directly with the wholesalers instead of using a distributor. The workload has increased and for the moment the process of new books has slowed as we adjust to new duties.
I am proud to say that we have published over thirty well-received books during our first five years. This includes our e-books.
I’d like to personally thank our super authors for their hard work in writing and rewriting, working with editors and last but not least in helping to market their books.
I couldn’t have done it without our wonderful editors: Sandra Horton, Greg Kilgore and Donna Akers and our fabulous graphic designers: Ann Nemcosky, Aaron Burleson and most especially Tracy Arendt.
I’d also like to thank off-set printers: United Graphics and McNaughton & Gunn, and POD printer: Lightning Source, for turning out quality books each and every time.
We were pleased to celebrate our readers on our Fifth Anniversary by offering a 25% discount on all print book orders placed through the end of July, 2014. Now that the sale is over, we hope you will still purchase our esteemed authors’ works by ordering their books through Amazon, Smashwords, BN.com and other online bookstores.
Let Your Reader Hear Your Characters Speak on Audio
How we love to hear stories. The human voice, its richness and intonations takes us into make believe worlds.
And I love that my book, Lily Steps Out, has stepped off the monitor screen and printed page into the listening world as an audio book. After all the work of writing (5 years) and getting Lily into print (tack on another 7), it was pure pleasure to hear my story told through my characters. And because I think my fellow Indie Authors will benefit from my experience, I’m spreading the word—or words as we writers are inclined to spread.
I learned about ACX—Audiobook Creation Exchange—owned by Amazon (isn’t everything?) from a fellow author who said the procedure of getting a print or eBook into a listening format was “pretty much painless” and she was right. This this is the gist of how I did it:
First, I checked my publishing contract to see if I owned my book’s audio rights and the cover (yes and yes). If you don’t own the cover to your book ACX will help you put one together.
Thinking that the sales of the audio might in some way effect my publisher’s royalties on print and eBook venues, I ran the idea by them. Their only concern was that Amazon might “bundle” the print or eBook version at a discounted price with the audio, thus reducing their royalty—Amazon does what it wants with its pricing regardless of the publisher or author’s viewpoint (it’s good to be the king). A call to ACX assured me that if there was “bundling” it would be the audio that would be reduced, not the print or eBook version.
That bit of business out of the way I forged ahead and decided on the first of the three royalty options ACX offers. In a nutshell here they are:
1. Royalty Share—royalty payments are shared among ACX, the author, and the narrator (referred to as Rights Holder and Producer by ACX) with ACX getting 50 per cent of the royalty and the author and narrator each getting 25 percent. This plan is at zero cost to the author.
2. Pay for Production Exclusive Distribution—the author pays the narrator a one-time fee (this fee can be negotiated) and splits the royalty with ACX who is the exclusive distributor of the audio.
3. Pay for Production Non-Exclusive Distribution is the same as far as “author pays the narrator” goes, but the author can distribute to resources other than ACX which reduces the author’s royalty.
ACX handles all distribution of royalties and pays the narrator when she has earned $50 or more each month.
Next up on my to-do list was to create a personal profile, a blurb about Lily and provide a sample passage of the book. A click of a button put me in touch with narrators on the ACX website and I invited a handful to audition. The invites, auditions, and all correspondence between author and narrator are done through ACX’s website, with an 800 number if you have questions (I had many questions).
I also had a particular voice criteria for Lily Steps Out. A kind of New-Yorkish female voice, but I also wanted a narrator who could do male; there are men in the story who have a lot to say. Did I mention funny? There’s lots of humor in Lily and I wanted a voice artist who could put that over. So female, male, New York and funny.
Three narrators auditioned a fifteen minute, contract-specified, segment.
The first narrator lacked Lily’s spirit and liveliness, so she was out. The next was an improvement, but not quite right, so I emailed my reservations, suggested changes and waited for the revision (the seven year contract provides for two revisions of the fifteen minute segment). There was barely a difference between the first and second takes, and I decided she wasn’t for me. The third narrator nailed all the voices and patterns of speech but I felt that her emphasis was off in certain passages. My email to her explained the specifics, commented on her general performance and the recording quality (that’s the author’s responsibility) which according to the contract, can still be done after the entire recording has been presented.
Sheri Puggot, the narrator I chose, had other professional commitments to satisfy before she could start on Lily, and technical glitches and communication delays between her and ACX once she did start, making the audio production take a bit longer than the ACX website specified (three to four months turned into six months). Not a big deal, as far as I was concerned. We were in a partnership, she and I, both wanting the best reading of Lily.
From sign-on to breakout date, putting Lily Steps Out on audio was a learning experience, one in which I not only mastered a process unfamiliar to me (it’s not difficult, but it is involved and it does take time) but I was able to place Lily Steps Out on a new promotional track and put another notch in my marketing belt.
This post originally appeared on Indies Unlimited.
Blurb: Empty nest, retired husband… after thirty-three years of making beds and cooking dinners, Lily Gold has had it and decides to look for a job. Her husband Leon, however, doesn’t like not having her at his beck and call and puts the kibosh on her chance of opening her own antique store by emptying out their bank account. This is marriage? This is war! Follow Lily as she turns the status quo into quid pro and gives her husband a run for his money.
Rita Plush lives and writes in Queens, New York. Her writing practice includes both fiction and nonfiction. She is the author of Lily Steps Out (Penumbra Publishing 2012), and the short story collection, Alterations (Penumbra 2013).
During her forty-year career as an interior designer, Rita was the Coordinator of the Interior Design Decorating Program in Continuing Ed. at Queensborough Community College. There, she implemented and taught several classes in the program and remains on the faculty. As a speaker, Rita has presented at libraries and synagogues, at Hofstra University and CW Post Hutton House, on topics ranging from writing and publishing, the decorative arts, interior design and “Coco Chanel ~ The Woman–The Legend”
She is the facilitator of the Self-Published Authors’ Roundtable that meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Manhasset Library, Manhasset, L.I.
Links for Lily Steps Out
Links for Alterations: http://www.amazon.com/Alterations-Rita-Plush/dp/1938758153/ref=tmm_pap_title_0
To learn more about Rita visit her website. http://www.ritaplush.com
Review by Betty Dravis, Amazon Vine/Top Reviewer
“Nobody Has to Know” blazes through your mind with an original kind of perversity. I can’t believe how good Frank Nappi is, whether he’s writing about military veterans, an autistic baseball player and his caring coach (as in previous award-winning books, see endnote below) or about illicit feelings of love and lust between a teacher and his student…as in this shocking, gripping book.
According to Amazon’s book description: “‘Nobody Has to Know,’ Frank Nappi’s dark and daring new thriller, tells the story of Cameron Baldridge, a popular high school teacher whose relationship with one of his students leads him down an unfortunate and self-destructive path. Stalked through text-messages, Baldridge fights for his life against a terrifying extortion plot and the forces that threaten to expose him. Nobody Has to Know is a sobering look into a world of secrets, lies and shocking revelations, and will leave the reader wondering many things, including whether or not you can ever really know the person you love.”
Why is Baldridge attracted to the young girl in the first place, especially when he has such a good, normal life: nice job, lovely fiancée, the whole works? What problems does she share with him? What happens to interrupt their budding attraction/addiction to each other? After a tragedy, how does someone find out about his frightening predicament?
How does his fiancée react when she learns “another person’s” version of the truth? And most important, does this unfortunate teacher ever get his life back?
Nappi answers those questions and more as he transports his readers through an intricate web of lies, deceit and betrayal (first by Baldridge; later, directed at him). Although it’s hard for most people to sympathize with a man with such “lustful” desires–no matter how altruistic they seem to him at the time–Nappi weaves his story in such a way that Baldridge is, indeed, a very sympathetic character…a victim of circumstances beyond his control.
In fact, I generally view vice and foils with scorn, profound dismay and tragic sympathy, but my feelings for Baldridge are such that I view the actions of his extortionist (and others who may be helping) to be far more reprehensible than what he has contemplated… My heart goes out to him.
But you will have to read for yourself and form your own opinion.
Even though this is Frank Nappi’s first thriller, he pulled it off to perfection! He made his characters come alive in the high drama of real life. In my opinion, Nappi always hits his mark; I’ve never begun a Nappi book and been able to put it down. As always, he paints his characters in such a fashion that I feel like I know them. Just as in real life, I care for some and hate others, depending on their deeds. In this book, the only one I really cared for was this teacher; even though he was not always a paragon of virtue, he was human and tried to do the right thing.
And Nappi’s pacing is spot on; I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough…er, perhaps with so many people using e-readers, I should say “couldn’t scroll fast enough.” 🙂
Be forewarned: After a series of hair-raising twists and turns (that not even the most cunning reader will guess), the ending left me gasping for breath. I’m still panting as I think back on it (an unforgettable kind of book).
Endnote: I have been a huge fan of author Frank Nappi since I read his debut novel, the award-winning “Echoes from the Infantry: A Novel” in 2005. At that time I predicted he would be a huge star in the literary world. And my faith in his great potential was rewarded; since then he has gone on to write “The Legend of Mickey Tussler: A Novel” which was released as a film last September and is now a DVD. Movie title is “A Mile in His Shoes,” starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Next, Nappi penned “Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel,” the exciting sequel which is also slated for film.
Dare I say, “I told you so?” I dare! And now I say: “Frank Nappi will soon be a household name!” You know, like James Patterson, Stephen King, Dean Koontz…and the list goes on. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer man; Nappi is a very popular school teacher in real life; happily married with two teen sons.
“Wait! Wait! She did what?” I’m yelling out loud to the absent, well-known author of the book I’m reading. The farther I read in the book, the more annoyed I become. The protagonist’s choices are stupid, her personality annoys me and the plot seems totally far-fetched. So why am I continuing to read?
When I was younger, my rule was that if I began a book, I ought to finish it. As I got busier, and my time more valuable, I modified the rule: I had to read 100 pages before I gave up; then 50. Then I edged down to 35, 25, and 10. Now if a book doesn’t grab me in the first few pages, it’s toast.
-Give me great characters. Make me sympathize with their goals and worry about the obstacles they face. Think Laura Lippman or Michael Connelly.
-Compelling plot. It doesn’t have to be fast, or convoluted, but it should be fresh. Ruth Rendell, Elmore Leonard and Robert Crais are all master plotters.
-Seductive setting. Make me feel like I’m walking around in the setting. I don’t mean only geographical places, but situations that come alive. Take me somewhere I haven’t been, or show me an aspect of a familiar place that I don’t know. I’ve never been to Beijing, but Lisa Brachmann put me there in ROCK, PAPER, TIGER.
-Believable dialog. Dialogue that brings characters to life. Denise Mina’s dialogue is incomparable.
-Rich and evocative language. Maybe even a little philosophical musing thrown in. Think Craig Johnson or Meg Abbott
I may keep reading because a book was highly recommended by a trusted source, or the author is one I have read and enjoyed in the past, even if it doesn’t grab me right away.
But back to the question. Suppose all or most of what usually keeps me reading is missing? What is the writer’s ace in the hole?
-Surprise. In the book I described at the beginning, just as I would decide to put the book down, the author would grab me with an unexpected twist—something someone said, or saw, or did that made me wonder how the author was going to resolve it. She was a master of “the grabber,” slipping it into just the right places. Even after I knew, halfway through the book, exactly what was going on, I kept being lured in, wondering how it would come together in the end.
Whether it’s a thriller, with a life-threatening event every few pages; or a cozy, with subtler hints that things aren’t what they seem; or a PI or police novel, with a protagonist who digs for startling fact, surprise keeps this reader turning pages when all else fails.
Terry Shames lives in Berkeley, California with her husband, two terriers and a cat who barely tolerates the dogs and is on the board of NorCal Sisters in Crime. Her first book, A KILLING AT COTTON HILL (Seventh Street Books) comes out in July, 2013. It is set in small-town Texas and features former Police Chief Samuel Craddock. Visit Terry’s website www.terryshames.com