Friday, July 30, 2010

Another Interview with K. Dawn Byrd

My faithful blog readers will remember that I already interviewed K. Dawn Byrd. You can refresh your memory here.

K. Dawn Byrd is an author of inspirational romance. Queen of Hearts, a WWII romantic suspense released in April and was Desert Breeze Publishing's bestselling novel for the month. Killing Time, a contemporary romantic suspense released August 1, also with Desert Breeze Publishing.

K. Dawn Byrd is an avid blogger and gives away several books per week on her blog, most of which are signed by the authors. She's also the moderator of the popular facebook group, Christian Fiction Gathering

When not reading or writing, K. Dawn Byrd enjoys spending time with her husband of 14 years, walking their dogs beside a gorgeous lake near her home, and plotting the next story waiting to
be told.

Publisher (there will be links at this site to purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the Sony ebook store and others)

Book blurb for Killing Time:

Mindy McLaurin, thinks it's the end of the world when she's incarcerated on trumped-up embezzlement charges. While in jail, she investigates the death of an inmate who allegedly died of an overdose. Mindy suspects foul play when her cellmate dies and she learns that both women had ingested the same drug. Mindy trusts no one, including Drew Stone, the handsome counselor she can’t stop thinking about. She faces many challenges, including constant interrogation by the Major and emotional abuse from the other inmates. Upon release, someone is stalking her and framing her for the murder. Can she prove to Counselor Stone that she’s innocent of all charges before she loses him forever?

And now for the interview:

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It's so strange. Sometimes I still don't consider myself to be a writer. It's almost like I want to pinch myself to make sure it's real when I get a good review. Writing for me is a hobby and a therapeutic one at that. It's a wonderful outlet for the creative side of myself.

What inspired you to write your book?
I've always been an avid reader and planned to write a book "one day." When I began work as a counselor in a jail, I thought that would be a neat setting for the book. I began to jot down notes about the environment such as sights, sounds, and smells. Before I knew it, my heroine had formed in my mind, begging me to tell her story.
How did you come up with the title?
I'm not good at naming titles and it took a while to come up with this one. When my heroine is incarcerated, she's "Killing Time" and when a murderer kills two inmates at the jail, it's "Killing Time." I thought the two concepts went together well.

What books have most influenced your life most?
It's going to sound juvenile, but Nancy Drew mysteries have had the most impact on my life because those stories taught me to love reading. I couldn't get enough of them and must have read every one the school library had, at least twice.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Definitely Michelle Sutton. She recommended that I contact Desert Breeze Publishing and she's been there to offer support and to answer my questions every step of the way. When i get stuck on a plot, she brainstorms with me. She's critiqued some of my work too.

What book are you reading now?
I'm not reading anything right now. I just started writing a new book and am knee deep in writing. My goal is to have it complete and edited by the time I go to the ACFW conference in September. 

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I'd like to thank everyone who purchased Queen of Hearts. Your support made it the bestselling book for Desert Breeze in its debut month, April 2010.

How long does it take you to write a book?
I loved NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and if I'm really motivated, I can write a book in 30 days. Since I'm a plotter, it takes a lot of planning in advance for me to pull this off. I'd like to have my own personal NaNo three times a year.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I try to write 1,667 words per day, which allows me to end a month with around 50,000 words. After I've completed this cycle, I'll take some time off and come back later to edit.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
It's the most terrible thing....I must have total peace and quiet when I work. I feel so handicapped when I try to write with the TV on or some type of noise in the background. I recently downloaded some songs into my BlackBerry and have been wearing headphones while I write, trying to teach myself to write to background noise.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Changing Titles

For my fantasy YA novel, I first used the title All-Knower's Land of Imagining. Kinda long and unless you read the book, you won't understand it.

So I next changed it to The Land of Imagining.

Hubby suggested Alexia and the Land of Imagining, which is what I've been calling it.

But lately, I've been thinking that that title is once again too long.

I've been toying with Alexia's Power, Alexia's Pen, or The Pen's Power.

Titles are so important. Whenever I go to the bookstore and browse around, the books that I pull off the shelf first have a great title. I'm sure that's how most book shoppers are. Which means that coming up with the best, perfect title is necessary.

So you all can help me, here's the tagline:

A magical pen unleashes a young teen's power to control a fantasy land, a realm only she can save from evil.

And my pitch:

When fifteen-year-old Alexia finds a magic pen that writes on its own accord, she discovers the mystical and real Land of Imagining.

The Head Demon rules this world and wants to kill the All-Knowers, a peaceful race who can read minds and heal. Alexia, their chosen one, discovers the pen gives her the ability to control the All-Knowers. Frightened of this power, she confides in her mother, who is the Head Demon in disguise. He steals the pen and kidnaps her family, forcing Alexia to travel to the Land of Imagining.

Determined to save her family and her people, Alexia must locate the demons’ secret lair and secure her pen before the Land of Imagining becomes the Land of Terror.

Any title suggestions?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Opinions on Re-Querying Agents

November last year, I started to submit my fantasy YA novel to agents. I freely admit that I committed one of the major cardinal sins of writers - querying too early. Since then, I have editing and polished the MS until it shone, with the help of some very talented beta readers. The story is much stronger now than it had been back in November. I honestly can't think of anything that I would change in the story.

That said, I accumulated a lot of rejection letters from my first query-go-around for this novel, many of which were just on the query letter itself, without a writing sample. I also revamped the query letter. It's much stronger now.

So my question is, is it all right to re-query agents? I was only planning on re-querying the ones who rejected the story passed on the old query letter, although I could mention that the novel has been revised since they had last read it. Should I mention that they already rejected the novel?

Querying agents is hard work, and despite all of the agents' blogs that I read, and authors who have agents, I can't help but have some questions. Not that I think there is one right answer for everyone.

And for those that are curious, here are my query stats for my other novel, Hidden in Shadows:

queries sent: 40
rejections: 11
partial requests: 4 (2 rejected)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Featured author!

I'm the featured author at Inspirational ebooks! Be sure to leave a comment (with your email addy) to be entered into the weekly drawing for PDF copies of all the ebooks featured this week, including my Woman of Honor.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Great video!

Just a short post today, a video from youtube called Librarians Do Gaga! It's great! Lady Gaga's Poker Face has been changed into Catalog. Too funny to not share. Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Today I thought I would blog about promotion. I haven't done the best of promoting my books lately, at least not very actively, not like I used to. I hardly ever post excerpts on yahoo groups. The only groups I really talk on are ones where we talk about writing, not necessarily to pump up our own.

And yet, according to novelrank, I'm selling steadily despite this.


I have a few guesses. One, I have a lot of contacts on facebook, between my personal page and my fan page. And I post on them when my books are available for a different ereader and I mentioned Barnes and Noble's sale of my books. Normally they sell for 5.99 each, now just 2.56. Not sure how long that's gonna last but that's over 50% off!

I've also been blogging more consistently (lol, I don't think I'll ever be someone who can blog every day though) and I comment on more blogs than I have before. And I'm active on goodreads.

So those are my guesses as to how my sales haven't dropped off despite not actively pushing my books. What avenues of promotions work for you? What seems to affect your sales? What doesn't?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writer's Worst Enemy

A writer's worst enemy... time sucks. Whether it's promotion or catching up on emails or facebook or twitter or yahoo groups or even reading blogs, there are so many distractions for a writer, and those are just the ones on the computer! There's also your family and friends and real life (what's that???) and eating and showering. And don't forget the evil writer's block!

My personal writing enemy is definitely time. I have to sacrifice sleep in order to write and as my due date draws ever closer (August 2nd) I'm running out of time before I'll have to take a break from writing, at least until I can get my then two children on some kind of a schedule so I'll have enough sleep that my writing won't be utter crap. So now would be the final push to get as much done as possible and instead of writing, I'm spending more time checking my emails and reading blogs instead. Not using my time the most wisely, I'm afraid, although the past week or so, I have been doing a better job.

What about you? How is your writing going? What is your personal writing worst enemy? And how do you avoid it?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hidden in Shadows Query Letter

Before I start to query agents widely for Hidden in Shadows, I thought I would post my latest query letter (just the pitch portion) for it:

Lorna McCloud is an assassin hell bent on avenging her father's murder only she has no leads. Soon she has more important issues to deal with than whether to use a dagger or a gun to kill her next target.

First, she's captured by the Paranormal Intelligence Agency, a shady, clandestine organization. A PIA henchman tells Lorna that she has the ability to create and hide in artificial shadows, a power she had unknowingly used during her nightly killings. Lorna distrusts the agency, escapes, and flees to a small island where many of her potential clients want the king dead.

Then Lorna meets the king. Lorna hasn't felt the stirrings of love in a long time, but something about the noble Alaric makes her long for the light after her lifetime spent in shadows.

Torn between murder and love, Lorna has never been able to escape her past or her ardent desire for revenge, and now they may prevent her from her only chance of living a normal, happy life.

What do you think? Do you like it? Would that entice you to request pages?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Finally a Productive Day

I've been a bad writer lately. I haven't been doing much, other than thinking about stories and germinating plot bunnies. Not exactly the most productive thing for a writer to be doing... after all, I should be writing! Not just thinking about writing!

But yesterday, I submitted several short stories to different pro magazines. 3 short stories and 4 flash pieces. Which brings my short stories out in the horrific land of limbo to 16. Plus I have 5 or 6 more that I want to polish up some before sending them back out. Writing shorts is easy enough for me... it's getting them accepted that is giving me problems. lol But I keep trying and revising and submitting. That's all I can do. If all the pro markets reject the stories, I'll move down to semi-pro.

An update for Hidden in Shadows:

I received a personalized handwritten rejection from Laura Bradford:

Dear Nicole,

Thanks so much for sending me a sample of Hidden in Shadows and it was a pleasure meeting you at the Lori Foster gathering. Unfortunately, after careful consideration, I have decided to pass on the project. While I love the premise, I just didn't feel swept away by te writing. I wish you all the very best luck finding a great home and enthusiastic champion for your work.

A;; Best,

Laura Bradford

Not a bad rejection letter. I'll take anything that isn't form, lol

I'm still tweaking Hidden in Shadows query letter. Once I'm finally happy with it, I'll be querying agents for it. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Berlin Blog from guest blogger Steph Burkhart

Berlin Blog Tour #2 – Nicole Zoltack
9 JULY 2010

First, I'd like to thank Nicole for having me today on her blog in support of my Destination: Berlin blog tour. Just a little about me: I was born and raised in Manchester, NH with a hungry appetite for reading gothic romance, especially by Victoria Holt. I served in the Army for 11 years from 1986 to 1997 and spent 7 years in Germany. My time in Europe inspired two passions – my love of history and the paranormal. Currently, I live in California and work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher.

The idea behind Destination: Berlin

The Book's Blurb:

Stuck in a routine job in Cold War Germany guarding nuclear weapons, U.S. Army Corporal Sharon Cates thinks she is going to Berlin to attend an orientation tour. Unknown to her, the briefcase she carries contains top-secret information that the Stasi and KGB are willing to kill for.
Soviet Junior Sergeant Dimitri Nagory is an assistant to a high-ranking Soviet officer in his country's embassy in England. Dimitri isn't expecting a great adventure as he boards the duty train for a routine trip to headquarters in Berlin, and he certainly isn't expecting to meet any Americans.

The Stasi derails the train in the middle of East Germany, expecting to take the information from Sharon's dead body. But when the sudden explosion hurls Sharon and Dimitri from the train and into each other, Dimitri, too, becomes a target. With Sharon nursing badly bruised ribs and branded by her country as a traitorous thief for stealing top-secret documents, Dimitri goes against everything he's ever been taught to ensure her safe return to the West.

Remember 1988? For me it's a year I can't forget. I turned 20 in June that year. I was also in the military. I was active duty – a 95B, Military Police. My rank? Specialist. I was stationed in Münster, Germany at the 583rd Ordnance Company. In Münster, there were 10,000 British soldiers who were stationed there and only 200 Americans. My job? I guarded nuclear ammunition.

Unforgettable, huh?

In 1988, the 570th USAAG selected me as Soldier of the Quarter in January. Solider of the Quarter for a Battalion sized element is quite an honor. In July, 1988, I was selected to attend the Berlin Orientation Tour. It was an opportunity I was excited to have. Like Corporal Sharon Cates, my military career was soaring. My personal life was practically non-existent. 

Travel to Berlin in 1988 was limited. There was an air route, but usually high level officers used it. You could travel by car on one of two auto routes or you could take the duty train from Frankfurt to Bremerhaven.

I used the Duty Train out of Bremerhaven. When I traveled to Berlin that time I had to dot my "I's" and cross my "t's". I had to go in my dress uniform, fill out FLAG orders, a security briefing, and be at the station in Bremerhaven by 1000 pm.
The weekend after the 4th of July, I packed my bags and the company duty driver drove me up to Bremerhaven. It's on the northern seacoast of West Germany. In real life, only the British, French, and Americans could ride the duty train. In my novel, I include the Soviets since they were one of the four allies that won World War II. The duty driver dropped me off at 4 pm. I had a long wait. I found a café, bought a brotchen and the idea for my first book, Destination: Berlin was born.

I came up with the plot for the novel at that café – scribbling furiously on napkins that I shoved into my briefcase. Corporal Sharon Cates earns the opportunity to go to Berlin on the Berlin Orientation Tour. On the duty train, she meets Soviet Jr. Sergeant Dimitri Nagory. When the train derails in the middle of East Germany, Sharon and Dimitri must put aside their countries military philosophy and rely on each other to get to Berlin with the East German Stasi hot on their trail. 


Sharon walked slowly toward the tree branch with the unusual glint. As soon as she was in eyesight, she smiled. Her briefcase! The handle was caught on a branch. Thank God she'd found it. She stood under the branch and reached up on her tiptoes, grimacing. It was just out of her reach. Looking around, she spied a stick that might help her to jar it loose. Her upper body still felt stiff and sore with the slightest motion, but she would soldier through it.

Was it like this for her father, too? He had been a first lieutenant in the infantry during Vietnam. Certainly he'd faced intense situations like this.

Sharon stopped, realizing she hadn't gone far. "Over here, Jr. Sgt."

He approached, his eyes narrowing. "What are you doing?"

"I found my briefcase." She pointed to the tree.

Dimitri paused and pursed his lips. Sharon took a stick and smacked the branch holding her briefcase hostage. The briefcase fell to the ground, but Dimitri snatched it up. Sharon could sense a change in his demeanor and it unnerved her.

"Corporal," he said, "I need for you to be completely honest with me right now. Can you do that?"

"Of course," Sharon answered. "What's wrong?"

"Are you a courier? Do you have classified government documents with you? Documents the Stasi want?"

STEPH:  Here's a link to Destination: Berlin's Book Trailer on You Tube:
Destination: Berlin is a Print book only. Here's where you can buy it: 

Goodie Time: Post a comment. I'll pick two lucky winners out of a hat to receive an autographed postcard of the cover.  Follow me on my blog tour and earn a chance to win an autographed copy of Destination: Berlin. To find out the dates on the blog tour visit my blog, "Romance Under the Moonlight."
Visit me at: 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Medieval Chronicle

The Medieval Chronicle is an online magazine devoted to (surprise, surprise) the Middle Ages. I'm a recurring columnist there, with my first introductory article is now available. The best part? My article is available for free this time around, even if you don't have a subscription! Here is the direct link.

My column is called To Reap the Harvest in Due Season and in each issue, I'll write about different women as they go about their lives trying to fight the elements and the land to cultivate and feed their families.

If you read my article and enjoy it, consider subscribing. Annual subscriptions (6 issues) is only $10.00. One issue is regularly $3.00.

One more quick item: my books are on sale at Barnes and Noble. $2.56 instead of $5.99! That's over half off! And even if you don't own a Nook, B&N has a free ereader program that you can download onto your computer. So pick up your copy of Woman of Honor or Knight of Glory or Be Mused today before the sale ends (which I have no idea when it will).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

Just a quick post to say Happy 4th of July to all of my fellow American bloggers and a wonderful Sunday to those who aren't American. Anyone have any exciting plans for today?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Blog Award

The lovely Stina Lindenblatt gave away a bunch of blog awards and let the recipients pick which one they wanted so I choose this lovely one:

And I pass this award onto:

Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins
Roni Griffin 
Myrna Foster
Lisa Rusczyk
Carolina Valdez Miller