Books by Melissa Bowersock

Monday, July 28, 2014

Agents: Have One? Need One?

In a lot of the book forums I frequent, I often see posts by newbies asking plaintively how one goes about getting an agent. The traditional publishing segment, of course, continues to bleat out its timeworn advice to writers: get an agent, get validated by being traditionally published. It's interesting, isn't it, that the only way to get "validated" is by doing things their way, playing by their rules? But that's another post.

A much more interesting note is the fact that recently traditional publishers have found that combing through the growing ranks of indie writers is yielding a double bonus for them: these writers have already gambled on putting their voices out there and for some the public has responded positively. The traditional publishers are now taking a new look at the indie boom, since they’re finding (1) good books, already vetted by the public, with (2) a built-in following. The publishers are definitely seeing—and jumping on—the opportunities of the growing indie movement.

But the ones who are still dead-set against it? You got it. The agents, the very ones who are being marginalized by this new tete-a-tete. After all, if you can put your book out there, gather a following and possibly, eventually, get picked up by a traditional publisher, who needs an agent?

I had one once, through sheer serendipity. Eons ago, back in the middle Paleolithic, I used to write my books in longhand on blue line. By the time I got done with one, I was pretty well sick of it and I had no interest in typing it up (on a typewriter [electric, not manual. It wasn't THAT far back!]). Luckily my mom was a good typist and volunteered to do it for me, so I shipped my 15-pound manuscript off to her.

Unbeknownst to me, she not only typed up my book but liked it well enough to shop it around to a literary agent she knew. He liked it, as well, and agreed to represent me. 

All of a sudden **bam** I had an agent!

Initially things went well. He dutifully made copies of my ms and mailed it out to various publishers. He would let me know when he received a response of note, usually a rejection letter with nice encouragement, i.e., "Doesn't fit our program at the current time, but has promise and we hope you will keep us in mind on future projects," or something of that nature. As he was pitching the first book, I was writing the second. When he notified me that he had negotiated a contract for the first book, I was, understandably, over the moon.

Unfortunately my book took a little longer to make it through the process to publication than it should have. The company that originally bought my book went under; it was bought out by another. In the aftermath, the second company had to go through the backlog of contracts and decide which ones it wanted to keep and which ones it didn't. I was lucky; it kept mine.

But it took four years before the book came out. In the meantime, of course, I was writing and figured my agent was earning his keep by sending out my second book. It was a jolt when I got a letter from my publisher asking if I had any other books they could see. Well, yes, of course I have other books. I promptly sent them my second book. They liked it and bought it. So now I'm thinking: what the heck is my agent doing? 

Come to find out he was busy looking for properties for movie projects. He told me to quit writing westerns (both my first two books were western romances) because they didn't translate well to the big screen. He had many ideas for what I should have been doing, but no interest in promoting what I was doing.

Needless to say, it was time to go our separate ways. That was back in, um, 1987. Since then, I've published 9 other books by various means, both traditional publishing and self-publishing. And I haven't had an agent for any of them. 

Do you need an agent? Only you can answer that question. The answer for me has been a resounding NO.

Originally published on Indies Unlimited on January 30, 2014.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Author Interview: Kari Thomas

Today I'm sitting down with fellow Arizonan, Kari Thomas. Kari describes herself as a paranormal romance author but also adds the caveat that she writes in various fiction and non fiction genres dealing with the preternatural-supernatural world, romance, publishing, research, children's literature, and book reviews. Whew! There's a lot going on here. Let's see if we can break it down a little.

Just this month, Kari released her latest book titled Her Demon, His Angel. Tell us a bit about the book.

K: Sara Winters is a rare-antique book collector. For years she has been obsessed with finding a mythical book called "Knights of the Night". She doesn't understand her obsession but won't give up, even if there is the possibility the book doesn't really exist. While searching in France, her father is murdered and she rushes back to the States. There is an immediate mystery to his death and Sara starts looking for the clues. This puts her in danger and one night she is almost attacked by an unseen threat of evil. She is rescued by Drake --who is a rare Being that shouldn't exist. He informs Sara that she's the "Huntress" and the world's safety depends on her finding that fabled book. Now it's a rush against time as Drake and Sara fight an encroaching evil that is determined to destroy our world as we know it. 
Well, obviously there's a lot going on there, too! What’s your writing process? Do you plan extensively, or just go for it?

K: It takes me awhile to come up with plots that I can thoroughly "see" that it will carry through an entire book. I get ALL kinds of great ideas, but won't proceed until I can mentally flesh it out. I don't do physical outlines, just mental. THEN, once I'm comfortable with the stability of the story I let the characters take over.

That sounds very familiar. I think many more of us are "pantsters" than detailed "planners." How long did it take you to write the book?

K: Her Demon, His Angel took me about four months. Another month for editing and fleshing it out.

That's a pretty quick turnaround. You must have been inspired! Now, I noticed you have several paranormal romances out. Do they all contain the same paranormal aspects, or are they different? What sorts of paranormal situations do you write about?

K: I love researching the paranormal so I'm always getting great ideas. Most of my books, at present, have shapeshifters, and witches. Wicca fascinates me and I love incorporating it into several of my books. My last book, before Her Demon, His Angel, was titled Surrender Her Touch and it was about a Dragon Clan in contemporary Colorado. So, actually, it's lots of shapeshifters, Wiccans, Dragons, and now Demons and Angels.

So in other words, a lot going on. Hmm, I'm seeing a theme here. 
Do any of your characters appear in more than one book?

K: No and yes. I did do two sequels to my first book Temptation Unleashed about the sister and brother of the hero. Both shorts are available for FREE if readers send me a request. And my Spell Kissed has a short about the hero's brother: Sloan's Witch is available on, Smashwords, Kindle, etc. for only 99 cents. I've had a lot of readers requesting stories about the secondary characters from Surrender Her Touch but I haven't written anything....yet. :-)

Where did your interest in the paranormal come from? What’s your inspiration for the out-of-the-ordinary stories?

K: I come from a long line of psychics on both sides of my family. Growing up with paranormal experiences was common. By the time I was old enough to understand, nothing scared me much. Telling a family member, "My house is haunted by this little old woman," never seemed out of the ordinary. In fact, right now, I'm living in a haunted house!  :-)

Must have been an interesting childhood, not to mention your current situation! Do you also read a lot of paranormal? What books are your favorites?

K: I devour them! I have so many fave authors in this genre, so I wouldn't know where to begin to list them! Christine Feehan is a top favorite of mine. An author friend, Mary Corrales, wrote one of my favorites: Dhampir Passions. It was a unique twist on the vampire legend. 

I'm sure our readers here will be checking those out. 
I noticed that the covers of your books are all very different styles. Who does your covers? 

K: I have been so lucky with all my great covers! I have several publishers, so there are different cover artists. Dawn Dominique did Her Demon, His Angel

I've seen some authors who, once they get a good number of books out there, re-design all their covers in a similar theme in order to create a recognizable brand for themselves. Have you ever thought about doing that?

K: As long as they are with publishers and under contract I can't change any of them. But, kewl idea!

Earlier we mentioned that you also write non-fiction. Have you published any?

K: A lot of non-fiction articles over the years. I'm working on a book now that is partially non-fiction, mixed with a little fiction, about my great-great grandfather who was a pirate. His history is online (Google search Juan Gomez associated with the Gaspirrila. He died at age 119!). 

Now that sounds like it would be hugely interesting and a lot of fun. I think it might be hard to write only one book about him; might need two, one non-fiction of the real story and one fiction when you could let your imagination take over. That could definitely keep you busy for a while.

What's next in your writing career? 

K: Right now I'm working on that pirate story and also another paranormal romance.

What would you like readers to know about you?

K: I'm shy! It's really hard for me to promote my books as I always feel like I'm pushing and it sounds like begging: "Please buy my book!" Because of being so reluctant to do that, a lot of readers probably have never heard of me.

I think that's a very common issue. So many of us writers are basically introverts, it's hard to get out there and toot our own horns. Luckily *wink wink* there are plenty of places where we can help each other out in that regard. 

Anything else you want to add?

K: I have several FREE reads listed on my site ( Readers can send me a request for copies. They are: 
The Christmas Chapter (related to Temptation Unleashed)
Soul's Choice (related to Temptation Unleashed)
Hold Onto the Night (an anthology through All Romance eBooks)

And finally, how can readers connect with you?

Amazon: Page:

Thanks, Kari, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me. Good luck with the new book; I'm sure it'll be your latest and greatest success.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Let's Talk About Reincarnation

Reincarnation. Is it real? There are, of course, many schools of thought. The truth is, though, that more people believe in reincarnation in the world than don't. 

I certainly do. I've had quite a bit of experience with it, being a certified hypnotherapist and having performed and been the subject of many past-life regressions. I find the concept of past lives to be fascinating, and it has provided me with plenty of good ideas for novels.
My latest is Fleischerhaus. Here's a brief description of the story:

A young woman tours a little-known German concentration camp and experiences a violent past life memory of being murdered in this very camp during the Holocaust. Haunted by the fragmented memories, she struggles to uncover the mysteries of her past life and find justice for the person she used to be. 

Recently I was fortunate enough to talk about the book on Prescott's AZTV Channel 7 on The Morning Scramble with Sandy Moss. Sandy is a fellow author and has been kind enough to invite me onto her show several times. We had quite a discussion about past lives and the hypnotic process, as you can see in the video linked below.

Next up is a book signing on July 12, 2014, at the Crystal Lattice Gift Shop in Camp Verde, Arizona. I hope anyone in the area will stop by between 10:00am and 12:30pm. We'll have a couple of raffles, freebies, and of course many books to browse. I'd love to have you stop by and say hello.

Crystal Lattice Gift Shop
545 South Main Street
Camp Verde, Arizona

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Author Interview: Lorraine Reguly on Reaching a Milestone

Today I’m sitting down to chat with my buddy, Lorraine Reguly, since she just recently published her very first book, a collection of short stories about identity, drugs, abuse, death and friendship. It’s called Risky Issues, and deals with many tough issues faced by children, teens and adults. Sound heavy-duty? It is.

Lorraine, tell us what this book means to you. Why was it important to get it out there into the world?

 This book is not merely a book of short stories; it is so much more. It is proof that "you can do it if you set your mind to it." In my case, I set my mind toward self-publishing a book.  It was important for me to see this venture through to the end because, even though I'll be the first to admit that this was my "practice" book, I wanted to find out what was involved in self-publishing firsthand. Boy, what a process it is - for first-timers like me! There is so much to learn and do!  Doing things in the correct order is important. The fact that you can only learn by actually "doing" was a bit tough on me, too, as I had tried to "research" the "how-to" aspect of self-publishing and garner as much knowledge as I could while simultaneously trying to complete each step of the way. (Finding beta readers, waiting for feedback, editing the stories, finding a cover designer, formatting the book, etc. are all steps that need to be completed, as you know.)

What was the first thing that compelled you to start writing? How old were you?

 I've always enjoyed putting pen to paper. By age 6, I was reading everything I could get my hands on, and writing cursive, thanks to the teachings of my mother, a former elementary school teacher.  I can remember getting in trouble in Grade One for writing within one line (on lined paper) when my classmates were learning to print within TWO! I can also remember reading by the illumination of the streetlight outside my bedroom window when I was a child, at night, after my parents ordered, "Lights out!" I've always enjoyed reading, have a love for words, have a superb grasp of the English language (I guess that's why I make such a good freelance editor!), and kept journals (diaries) for most of my life. Writing is just something I love doing, and I think I love writing because I love reading so much. 

We know you had some tragic and abusive experiences in your own life; how does writing help you to process and heal?

 Writing has always helped me to organize my thoughts and emotions. Dealing with the complete and utter devastation I experienced as a teenager was not easy for me. Many years passed before I told anyone that I was raped. When I sought counselling, I learned a few coping methods - including writing - but somehow writing was always the thing that comforted me the most, as I had been writing all along. The fact that I can create beautiful things from mere words - like the poem that's included in Risky Issues - provides me with a sense of accomplishment and worthiness that I didn't have as a teenager. Plus, knowing that my words can touch and help others offers me a sense of happiness and peace.

Give us a brief rundown of your self-publishing process. What steps did you take? Who helped you to reach this milestone?

Wow. I don't know that I can be brief here, Melissa! First of all, my "process" involved learning about the existence of self-publishing - mainly from you, when you revealed all!
Once I found out about it, I then:

*asked my blog readers if they would like to read some short stories ("Yes, bring them on!")

*bought Word 2013 for my laptop

*typed in my short stories

*found beta readers (including you)

*edited my stories using their feedback

*sought guidance from Sue and Joel Caulfield about where and how to publish my book (not that I didn't trust you, but I wanted to be sure that the information I was receiving was sound)

*kept doing my research and read a ton of blog posts about self-publishing until I was convinced it was something I'd like to try

*tried to get a cover created - and went through a few designers

*finally found one to create one for a reasonable fee

*applied for an ISBN (free for me, because I live in Canada and am Canadian)

*tried to format my manuscript for Amazon 

*sought help in an indie author Facebook group

*received formatting assistance from Rich Meyer, who put the finishing touches on it

*uploaded it to Amazon

*realized there was one tiny error, tried to fix it and did, then uploaded a new file
 *wondered if I needed a new ISBN number because it was a new file (YES)

*added my poem to the ebook in such a way that I didn't have to mess around with more formatting

*obtained a new ISBN for it, added it to the file, and then uploaded it to Amazon for the third and final time I also added it to Goodreads and have plans to add it to Smashwords once it's formatted for them (the formatting is different there).

Now that you've been through this process, what advice would you give other writers who are looking to self-publish?

*Join indie author groups and interact with as many indies as possible!

*Follow my blog(s) because I will be relating my experiences so that I can help others!

*Don't be afraid to ask questions. Indies are helpful and share their knowledge quite freely!

*Do your research.

*Find beta readers you can trust to be honest and critical of your writing.

*Realize that this will take a ton of time. Don't expect things to happen quickly.

*Start a blog if you don't have one already. 

*Get on social media. Engage, engage, engage! You will need them to help you spread the word about your books when they're published!

*Make sure your book is perfect before uploading to Amazon. It's a pain to change things after the fact.

*Don't get discouraged. Believe in yourself. Hire someone to help you if you need it.

*Realize that all good things take time. (Yes, I know I said this already. I want to make sure others realize I'm not kidding.)

*Use one of my secrets to kick-starting your writing success! (Both are free.) 

What's next in your writing career? 

A vacation! (I wish.)Seriously? Promoting my book - which will also take many people and a ton of time.I'm also working on two other writing projects: an autobiographical memoir and a collection of letters written to my son. Letters to Julian  is scheduled to be released in December. I also have plans to write and publish different works of fiction, including a suspense novel and an erotica novella or two. Who knows how long that will take, though?!

Anything else you want to add?

 Yes! Thank you so much for being a mentor to me for the last twelve months or so. You've been a huge support, a wonderful friend, a fountain of information, and a shiny guiding light who has helped inspire me to go after my dreams. I want you to know that I appreciate ALL you've done and shared with me. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you very much. Also, I'd love it if readers visited my new author site, Lorraine Reguly: Laying It Out There or subscribed to my Author Newsletter, gave my author page a "Like" on Facebook (and did the same thing with my writing and editing services page!), followed me on Twitter, connected with me on Google+ (on either my regular profile or my author page), became a fan on Goodreads, followed some of my Pinterest boards, or told me to take a "chill pill" because I sound like I'm begging to connect with others. ;) Oh yeah, one last thing. Buy Risky Issues today! 

Thanks, Lorraine, both for stopping by and for sharing your hard-won experience and perspective with us. We hope the book becomes a best-seller and carries your important message out into the world.