Veteran’s Day always makes me nostalgic. My father, a WW II vet, has been gone since 1998, and I still miss him. For much of my childhood he was bigger than life. He let us kids try on his army uniform and play with the memorabilia he brought home from the Pacific Theater. He was my hero, a man who left his family behind to keep the world safe for those who would come after him. Many of these men were also romantics, and so was my dad. Days after he boarded a transport ship to take him to the Pacific, he found out the young bride he left behind was pregnant. He never saw my sister until she was two years old, but he kept her and my mom in his thoughts constantly. Out of native bamboo, he crafted a small bank and carved the letters A, N, and Y on the front. He didn’t know if the baby would be a girl or a boy, but he was ready to finish his carving with the letters for Danny or Mandy depending on the news. In November of 1943, a young soldier ran into a rice field where my dad was working. He shouted “Captain Brackett, you have a baby girl!” My father finished the bank with the name Mandy and brought the gift home to his first born. If that isn’t a truly romantic story I don’t know what is. In the next couple of days I would love to hear a heartwarming tale about your special vet. A name will be chosen at random to receive a copy of my October Harlequin Heartwarming novel, BLUE RIDGE HIDEAWAY, either print of digital. And a heartfelt thank you to all who have served.
Posted by cynthiathomason on November 11, 2013
Posted by cynthiathomason on August 13, 2012
Saturday we South Florida romance writers had a terrific meeting. Our guest speaker was Tami Hoag. It doesn’t get much better than that. She was gracious, informative, approachable. Some day I’d like to post a blog on the interesting facts I gleaned from her talk – like how she went from romantic comedy writer to romantic suspense writer to suspense writer. Her journey was interesting and encouraging. I left the meeting with two significant learning experiences. One: Tami is a seat-of-the-pants writer, meaning she doesn’t write from a detailed synopsis. I love that! I hate writing and sticking to a synopsis. Second: She lets her plot flow from her characters. Characters are number one. Another plus in the writing world as far as I’m concerned. Okay, so what does this blog have to do with a ghost? I took a picture of Tami and the room filled with eager writers, and lo and behold, when I viewed the picture after I emailed it to myself, I was surprised to see an additional “person” there who perhaps hadn’t paid. Look at the picture. Do you see an apparition? A swirling entity that you can sort of see right through. This is not the first time I’ve caught the “otherwordly” with my camera. Once in an Indian burial ground in North Carolina I caught a “spirit” on horseback. Are there logical explanations? Was someone walking by the table yesterday when I snapped this? I don’t know. Maybe. I believe in logical explanations. But I also sort of believe in the other, non-logical explanations. Especially since Tami was talking about crimes and bodies and unsolved cases. Who really knows? What do you think?
Posted by cynthiathomason on May 16, 2012
Yeah, I know. Everybody is talking about this subject. What can I possibly add to it that other writers haven’t? Probably nothing, but I can report on some experiments I’ve tried lately and their relative merits and drawbacks.
Like many others I’ve become disenchanted with traditional publishing. After more than 20 books, I’m finding it harder to turn in an acceptable manuscript to the NY publishing houses and certainly more difficult to make money if I do! The publishers are as confused and concerned as I am so they are trying desperately not to make a mistake and put a book out there that might not tip the profit scales.
Okay, I get that. So what’s a this-is-what-I want- to-do-with-my-life writer supposed to do? I have so far published seven titles with Amazon for the Kindle. I chose to stick with Kindle for now because of Amazon’s KDP Select program which allows writers to test the waters of e-pubbing in experimental ways. My award-winning backlist title, Homespun Hearts, which I changed to SUDDENLY A BRIDE, was my first attempt at KDP Select. It was a success. I gave away copies for free. I moved up on the Amazon best seller lists and I made some money. Hoo-ray. All I have to do is keep doing this, right? Apparently not. My next two attempts, following the same winning procedure, were basically bombs. The difference between campaigns 1 and 2 &3 were minor. A mention on a popular “Kindle Free Book” site, a change of days, little things. And then I heard Amazon is messing with the ratings system and not giving as much weight to the free books as they had before. Yikes! I think this is the big difference.
So now I’m pondering the old question – why give away what I truly believe is worth something? Especially if the payoffs are not as great as they once were? I’ll probably try one more campaign and then reevaluate. And end up thinking again about this most popular topic for bloggers – What IS the future of book selling?
And by the way, seeing only 8 titles total in my local Walgreens the other day was most discouraging. Two of those titles were diet books, which I really should have bought but didn’t. Where have all the books gone?
Posted by cynthiathomason on February 6, 2012
I just returned from a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean that took me to islands I’ve never visited before – St. Marten’s, St. Thomas, Grand Turk. Aside from the unfortunate fact that I caught the norovirus, this was a memorable cruise for one totally unexpected pleasure. I discovered Cockburn Town, the capital of Grand Turk, a small town that is historic, primitive and undeveloped. In 2008 Hurricane Ike blew through the island at 140 miles per hour and left much damage behind. A few decades-old buildings remain, and the most charming in my opinion is the Victoria Library, built in 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
I entered the library by climbing a set of deteriorating cement steps and going through a double wooden door. Inside I saw only one room which held several bookcases of old books. The smell was divine – the old musty, dusty scent of books well used and well loved. There was no air conditioning to alter that smell. One fan sat on a table by the front door. One clerk held her post at the minimalist counter where she did her work by hand. There was a computer as well, and when I asked to use it, she said the charge was $3.00 if I was able to get Wifi service. I did, and I happily paid her. One man sat at the only library table located in front of the single bookcase labeled “Reference.”
As I worked, school on the island was dismissed for the day. Several students, all secondary level, came in. They were dressed in uniforms. Nice white shirts and navy blue pants and skirts. Other than their uniforms, they could have been American for their huge backpacks hung heavy on their backs. I learned that a surprisingly large number of these young folks would attend college and eventually go off to earn their way.
Life on this island seems hard. Too many adults sit lazily in the sun perhaps waiting for work. Dogs roam the streets apparently without owners. Cows and donkeys parade by the main highway unhampered by fences. Cars are old and make noises I’ve never heard before. But that library – that one star in the center of a town of decaying buildings and abandoned projects, is a sanctuary, as libraries ought to be.
I would love to hear about a library that impressed you. Perhaps one from your childhood, one for its contribution to its community. Libraries are not all the high-tech oases we are used to in the big cities. But they are, every one, vital to the life of the people they serve.
Posted by cynthiathomason on November 23, 2011
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I’m cooking a 20 pound turkey and I’m happy to do it. In fact, I’m thankful that I know enough people who are brave enough to come by and eat it. But still, I’m anxious about how it will turn out. I’m in fairly good health, and I’m thankful for that. But still, I feel bad for people I know and care about who can’t say the same thing. I’m not poor, and I’m thankful for that. But still, I constantly worry about money. I would really like for one of my two real estate investments to sell. All in all, it’s not a bad time in my life. My well-reviewed historical cozy mystery is up on Kindle now, and I’m thankful I didn’t screw up the upload, but still, I wish I were one of those Internet wizards who know what to do now.
I guess life is a series of “I’m thankful, but still…” moments. So I’ll close with the very real thought that I’m thankful for Walter, and John, and Yafi, and Sparky, and Doug, and Sal, and all my family and friends. And there’s no “but still…” to that one. Happy Thanksgiving every one.
Oh, you can find Stagestruck, A Jubilee Showboat Mystery, a cheap and fun read on Kindle here:
I’d be grateful if you go take a look, but still, I’d be overjoyed if you’d buy it.
What are you grateful but still… about?
Posted by cynthiathomason on October 24, 2011
I just returned from the Novelists Inc conference in St. Pete, Fl. It was a wonderful experience and I hope I am able to attend every conference in the years to come. I learned so much and came home energized to follow all the wonderful suggestions I heard. I plan to blog about several aspects of the conference, but first I thought I’d relate a few interesting statistics.
Almost 130,000,000 books have been published since the dawn of publishing
Almost 300,000 books are published each year. That’s a lot of eye strain if you’re determined to read them all
780 of those books reach the NY Times best-seller list.
The odds of any one author hitting the “List” is 2 in 10,000 – so my heartiest congratualtions to those who have.
One of the most interesting statistics I learned was that 28% of all books purchased are still selected through a brick and mortar bookstore. Even though I am a fan of my Kindle I still say hooray for the traditional sellers. Bookstores are still some of my favorite places to visit.
How do you choose your books? Do you go to the bookstore? Are you happier to browse digital titles? If you go to a bookstore, where is the nearest one? Is it a chain store or a section of a big value store like Wal-Mart?
All this info is very interesting to me at this point in my career. I hope you’ll share your preferences.
Happy reading and writing.
Posted by cynthiathomason on June 8, 2011
Maybe this isn’t your usual romance writer topic, but it’s important to me, so I’m blogging about it. My husband and I recently purchased a very nice, used RV – a travel trailer that we are going to pull behind our large GMC van. Admittedly, my husband wasn’t totally in favor of my idea to take up where we left off twenty years ago when we sold our motorhome and decided for the sake of our son’s continuing education, we should abandon our wanderlust and plunk ourselves down at home and stay there. So while I was scouring Craigslist and other sale sites, my husband kept secretly hoping I wouldn’t find anything to buy. But I did. I found the perfect camper for us – small, nice, light, easy to pull, good bed, and room for my computer and Sparky. And after our first trip this last weekend, my husband is coming around to the wild side.
But I’ve discovered that camping now isn’t quite what it was twenty years ago. While I’ve been taking planes, trains, and automobiles, the world of RVing has changed.
Number one: The cost. Without careful attention to club memberships and passes, camping has become expensive. We are going to the Florida Keys next weekend and paying $60.00 a night for a site, and it’s not even a premier one!
Number two: Amenities. Of course we need free wifi now. And free cable TV hookup. Also, we’d like to have a table, a grill, though I bought a new compact one to cart with us. We need a pool, shade, electric for A/C (we do live in Florida!) a sewer hookup and unending fresh water.
Number three: Our ages. Sleep on a narrow bunk bed? Not me. I need a walk-around queen bed with a super comfy memory foam pad. And a comfortable sofa for watching TV. And a refrigerator big enough to hold my boxes of wine
Bottom line: I’m asking you veteran campers to give me tips: Places to stay in Florida, ways to cut costs, what are the best places for sightseers. I need knowledge! Hope you will comment on your best, and worst! camping experiences.
Posted by cynthiathomason on February 4, 2011
Nothing stays the same, and that includes romance books.
A week from Saturday, Feb. 12, several romance authors, myself included, will converge on the Boca Raton library for a Valentine’s Day tribute to love stories. Since I write a lot of category romance, my subject for the presentation involves changes in what editors are looking for and readers are requesting in these shorter, emotionally satisfying reads. I hope you’ll consider coming to this event.
A few years ago, while I was still working at the auction company my husband and I owned, boxes and boxes of old Harlequin books came in from an estate. Some of these books were priced 35 cents, so that gives you an idea of their age. The covers showed heroines with occupations of the day – nurses, teachers, flight attendants (called stewardesses back then) and secretaries. Those images alone could make up a significant discussion of changes in category books. There are many others. I hope you’ll join us and bring your own ideas about what you, as a reader, look for in a romance.
That’s the Glades Road Branch, 20701 95 Ave. South, Boca. We start at 1 o’clock. Refreshments will be served and autographed books will be available.
Posted by cynthiathomason on January 24, 2011
The week before last was a pretty good week for me, and the euphoria continued into this week. I heard that I had sold a manuscript to Harlequin’s Special Edition line. Of course this made me very happy, even happier since it had been a while since I’d sold. I don’t know the pub date for the book. I don’t even know its title yet, though now I’m calling it WINNING IT ALL, and I like that title. So I thought I’d blog about what to do while you’re waiting…and waiting… for a publisher to pick up your project.
Okay, #1. Keep writing. I have several projects that are in various stages of completion. It can be hard to keep writing in the face of rejection, but for me it is a necessity.
#2. Take time out for movies. I love movies. They inspire me. But when I’m in a funk, I try to only watch uplifting ones.
#3. Try new avenues of publishing. I now have two books up on Kindle and Book Nook. Learning to go through this process was kind of fun and made my mind less of a airless vacuum.
#4. Get a dog. I suppose I can’t advise everyone to do this, but Sparky raises my spirits every day.
#5. Think of a new business venture (if you don’t have a day job). I’m launching my free lance auction enterprise. Everyone has a talent or skill that might be turned into a paycheck. No paychecks yet for me, but I’m hopeful.
Oh. one last bit of advice. Don’t frequent too many casinos.
Happy writing everyone.