L.J. Taylor Books

Tales of Suspense and Dangerous Romance

L.J. Taylor to Appear at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival

Hi There:

For those of you who will be in the Fort Myers, Florida area this weekend, come out and see me at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival this Saturday, March 21, 2015, from 10-4, at the Harborside Event Center & Centennial Park, in the Fort Myers River District.  http://www.readfest.org/. I'll be at Waterview Publishing, LLC's table in the Indoor Marketplace.

The festival is free and promises to be absolutely fabulous featuring appearances by bestselling authors, the Reading Rocks Teen Battle of the Bands, children's activities, free children's book giveaways, book vendors, food vendors, and so much more.

I hope to see you there.

Peace

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“Just Dreams” Audiobook is on the Way.

Hi There:

I've been away so long that you've probably been wondering where I've been and what I've been doing.  Well, in addition to trying to get my new law practice off the ground, I've been working on creating the audiobook version of “Just Dreams.”

I auditioned 18 separate voice actors to narrate the audiobook.  When I started this project, I had no idea how hard it would be.  I didn't realize that I had written the virtual United Nations of books and that it would be difficult (but not impossible) to find a single actor who could not only handle both male and female character voices, but also, a myriad of ethnic accents.  “Just Dreams” has Cuban, Caucasian and African-American attorneys, a British C.I.A. agent, a Puerto Rican witness, a Jamaican hacker and an East Indian cab driver.  Don't ask me what I was thinking (or smoking) when I wrote the book – it just came out that way.  The story is set in Miami, after all.

It turned out that the Jamaican accent was the hardest for the voice actors to get.  Several of them mangled it so badly there was no way I could select them.  Then I agonized over whether to have a male or a female voice actor narrate the book.  In the end, I decided to use a male narrator because he was the best out of all those auditioned and because he has a deep sexy voice.  I thought the ladies listening to the story would appreciate that.  I certainly did. 🙂

The good news is that the diverse and sundry characters, accents and scenarios make for a lively and entertaining audiobook.  The even better news is that the voice actor I hired – Michael Gwynne – is extremely talented. He brought the story and the characters to life and was a joy to work with as well.

Making the audiobook was a lengthy process.  There are 23 chapters in “Just Dreams.”  As Michael finished each chapter, he put it up for me to listen to.  I would listen to the recordings at least twice and then send him notes on any changes that needed to be made.  I would always include the timestamps of the relevant sections of the recording so that he could locate them easily and make the revisions.  Our efforts paid off. When the last chapter was done, I listened to all 23 chapters again one last time and had only one minor proposed revision.

The audiobook recording is being checked by ACX which will then produce the audiobook and release it.  It will be available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes the first week in January, 2015, so keep an eye out for it.

I'm now working on completing “Dreams Deferred” – Ivy's story – which will be released in February, 2015.  I'm a busy child, but it's a labor of love to work toward making your dreams come true.

Thank you for taking this journey with me and making it all possible. May you and yours have a happy holiday season and happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Peace

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Nanowrimo 2014

Hello there:

So, here we go again, participating in Nanowrimo a/k/a National November Writing Month.  Maniacs from all over the world (you have to be a little out of your mind to be a writer) sign up on www.nanowrimo.org and vow to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 through November 30th.  It must be a new and not an existing project.  The object of Nanowrimo is to turn off the inner editor, bitch slap the muse (she's been sleeping on the job), and produce a 50,000 word first draft of part or all of a new novel.

Some will go it alone and write in the privacy of their lairs.  Others will seek the company of fellow writers and meet up in cafes, libraries, coffeehouses and other establishments, and find solidarity and support in numbers.  I tend to do a bit of both.  In fact, two of the things I love about Nanowrimo are the opportunities to meet up with other writers and the event's sense of accountability.  Writing can be a solitary profession.  It's nice to be able to meet up and interact with fellow writers throughout the month to encourage and support one another (and kick each other in the behinds if necessary).  That leads me to the accountability part of Nanowrimo.  Every day, you are supposed to update your word count online for all the world to see.  Daily goals of 1667 words are set and you strive to meet or exceed them.  Some of us keep a consistent pace meeting and/or exceeding the daily word count.  Others, like me, fool around at the beginning of the month and fall behind, then write furiously in the middle of the month, and do a hail Mary at the end to catch up.

I've been participating in Nanowrimo since 2007.  In some years, I wasn't able to catch up at the end and fell short of the 50K word goal. In others, I “won” Nanowrimo by meeting or exceeding the goal.  No matter what, I always ended up with a great head start on the first draft of a new novel.  Because of that, I have four novels in various stages of revision and one published novel – “Just Dreams.”  That makes it all worthwhile to me.

If you ever dreamed of writing the great American novel, it's not too late to get started.  Sign up and get started.  I'll see you at the finish line.

Peace

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L.J. Taylor Interview With Ella Curry on Black Author Network Radio

I had my first radio author interview ever yesterday evening on the Black Author Network Radio Show.  I was so nervous before the interview but Ms. Curry's friendly conversational style quickly put me at ease.  During the interview, Ms. Curry asked me questions about my book, my message, my plans for the future, etc.  and I got to read an excerpt from my novel “Just Dreams.”  She liked the excerpt, calling the book a “sexy legal thriller.”

You can listen to my author interview here:

Check Out Books Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Black Author Network on BlogTalkRadio

Peace.

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“Just Dreams” Now Available in Paperback

Hi there:

You have no idea how happy I am to announce that “Just Dreams” is now available in paperback format.  After a month of trial and error, it is now possible for you to purchase a hard copy of the book (as opposed to the e-book) and have it autographed by me at some point during one of my upcoming public appearances or when you see me around.  To get a copy, just go to the “Books” page on my website and click on the first Amazon icon.

It took a while for me to make this possible because I had to learn everything I now know about book covers, interior file formatting, pricing, sizing, and book distribution from scratch.  Well, not from scratch really but more by trial and error thanks to the amazing amount and quality of information I was able to gather from the members of two amazing Yahoo groups.  Without them, I would have been lost.

I decided to go with a matte as opposed to a glossy cover because I liked it better.  I also decided to go with cream instead of white pages and to make the book a little smaller than I had originally planned.  Initially, I was going to make it a 6″x9″ book which would have made the book a teensy bit less expensive to print, but then decided I liked it better at 5.25″ x 8.00″ instead.  The smaller size, the matte cover and the cream pages just looked a little classier to me. And anyone who knows me knows that's how I like to roll.  🙂

One of the things that took me forever to get the print book out was that I had to learn some very basic information about formatting the interior of the book.  For example, when I first uploaded the book, the text was double spaced,  not justified,  and the page numbers weren't formatted correctly at the top of each page.  In addition, I didn't have the right margins, or gutter and had never heard of bleed space (the space between the print and the edges of the page).  I tried 1.5 spaces because I didn't think 1 space would be enough and it still didn't look right.  I finally went to 1 space and figured out the margins, the bleed space and page number formatting after uploading and rejecting the online proof of the book several times.  It wasn't until I held a hard copy proof in my hand though, that I realized the text should be justified.

Reading the hard copy proof also taught me two other valuable lessons:  Authors need both a developmental editor and a copyeditor (my cover designer suggested that I also needed some Xanax but that's a whole other blog post). I discovered typos and other mistakes in the hard copy proof that I hadn't seen onscreen or in the printouts I reviewed.  Plus, seeing the book helped me make decisions about book design.

The paperback version of “Just Dreams” is also available on other sites such as Barnes and Noble through Ingram Sparks.  I decided to go with both Amazon/Createspace and Ingram Sparks for paperback printing to allow myself the most flexibility with respect to distribution options and wholesale pricing discounts.  I'm hoping that my books find their way into bookstores, libraries and other retail venues all over the world as a result.  Hey – my mom always told us to think big.  🙂

Peace

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Just Dreams – A Dream Come True

After years of attending writers seminars and conferences, whipping out first drafts during National November Writing Month, rewriting and editing, researching and plotting, and querying numerous editors and agents alike, I bit the bullet, hired an outside editor, and released my debut novel “Just Dreams” on August 31, 2014.  “Just Dreams” is now out on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes.  I'm working hard to figure out how to get it into bookstores and libraries near you.

Last week, I received a proof of the paperback to review.  Holding a physical copy of my book in my hands was surreal – a dream come true long in the making.  I requested that some changes be made and, as a result, I will receive a revised proof this week.  Once I approve it, the paperback version will become available on Amazon.   I'll let you know when that happens.

This journey has been exhilarating, empowering and terrifying all at once and it's far from over.  In fact, it's the just beginning of my professional writing career.  I've learned so much from publishing “Just Dreams” and I know that I still have much to learn.  As a self-published author, I not only have to figure out the writing side of the business but also every aspect of the publishing side as well.  That runs the gamut from figuring out the best business and tax structures for me, to learning how to format the book as an e-book and a print book, to figuring out cover design, to learning how to upload the books to the different sale platform sites, to figuring out retail and wholesale pricing of the book, to figuring out the best markets in which to offer the book, to learning when and how to market the book, etc.  I even had to figure out how to use social media to promote the book.  That was not an easy feat for me since, three months ago, I had no idea how to use Twitter and barely used Facebook.  I had never heard of Pinterest or Google Plus or Goodreads.  I still haven't ventured onto Wattpad and other sites.

It's amazing how hard you are willing to work when you have a passion for something though.  I know I have a passion for writing because I stuck with it and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get the word out about “Just Dreams.”  That apparently includes working on marketing efforts into the wee hours of the morning.  I spent all day Thursday visiting nearly a hundred book blog review sites I had compiled on a list and asking for reviews.  I took short meal and other breaks during the day and drank gallons of coffee while I worked, but remained focus on the task.  When I glanced at the clock, it was after midnight.  I just shook my head. Where had the day gone?  And why was I tempted to keep working even though I was nearly blind from staring into the computer screen all day? OCD anyone? 🙂

Instead of taking a break on Friday and Saturday, I spent the days searching for book clubs to approach, asking to be their book of the month, beefing up my Goodreads profile, figuring out things like wholesale discounts and pricing, and learning how best to get my book in libraries, bookstores and retail shops.

The one thing I haven't been doing enough of is writing.  I intend to rectify that immediately because I need to revise the second book in the Brooks Sisters Dreams Series – “Dreams Deferred” – which will be released in December, 2014.  It features Kathy's flashy baby sister Ivy Brooks as the heroine.

I'll keep you up to date on all the latest developments in this crazy journey.  It won't be a smooth ride, but it promises to be an interesting one.

Peace

 

 

 

 

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Looking Forward to Thrillerfest 2014

I'm really looking forward to attending Thrillerfest this year.  Several of my favorite authors will be there including Anne Rice, Scott Turow, Brenda Novak and so many more. There will be great fiction writing seminars offered including a special seminar given by the F.B.I. for more accurate portrayals in novels.  The conference also offers fantastic opportunities to network with agents, editors and other writers and to get autographed copies of books published by your favorite writers.  Last year, I had dinner with one of my idols, Jon Land, whose books I used to practically inhale.

I agreed to serve as a volunteer at Thrillerfest this year as I did last year. Volunteering at writers conferences can be really beneficial.  It gives you the inside track, affords you more opportunities to meet and interact with the presenting authors, and provides you with a sense of belonging.  I enjoyed volunteering last year and am sure I'll enjoy it again this year.

I usually stay at the Thrillerfest host hotel – the Grand Central Hyatt – but this year I'm trying something different.  I elected to save $100 plus a night by staying at Pod39.  The place has gotten great reviews on Tripadvisor and is not far at all from the conference venue.  It's a more modern and trendy hotel with three bars including a swanky rooftop bar that has received a lot of recognition.  My sister and I plan to check that out tomorrow.

I checked in a couple of days early intending to lock myself in my room and edit my book “Just Dreams” which is coming out in two weeks.  The rooms are tiny even for New York City.  They're more like single dorm rooms in size and shape and are certainly not made for two. My father, who dropped me off, said he would feel claustrophobic if he stayed in a room that small.  I think he was a little worried about leaving me there because he called later to check up on me. His call found me in one of the bars having a nice glass of Rioja wine.  I had gone looking for coffee and ended up having a nightcap.

I sent pictures of my room to my boyfriend. He compared it to a jail cell in terms of size. But jail cells are presumably not as clean and colorful and well-designed. They probably don't have queen-sized beds, flat screen TV's, free Wi-Fi, or private bathrooms with frosted sliding glass doors.   The frosted sliding glass bathroom doors are another feature that made me glad not to have company.  Who wants an audience in there?

The room actually feels cozy to me.  I wish I had a little more desk space to spread out on while I work, but the chair is comfortable and the desk is the right height and the wi-fi signal is great.  I also lucked out in the food arena as the hotel is near some very decent reasonably priced restaurants.  I picked up a delicious roasted turkey breast, cheese and cranberry sauce sandwich on Italian bread and a cup of split pea soup for lunch for less than $8.00 from Melange Green & Gourmet.  For dinner, I had rotisserie chicken, sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes from a small French place called Provence Chicken.  The meal was great but the carrot cake was out of this world – perfectly spiced, not too sweet and without the cloying cream cheese frosting it traditionally comes with.

I can't wait until tomorrow.  There's a bagel spot around the corner that's gotten some great reviews.  Nothing like bagels in New York.  Or pizza or Chinese food.  Huh.  So many experiences, so little time . . .  I'll keep you posted.

Peace

 

 

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Transitions

Hey there:

So I didn't make it to the third level of the 2014 Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.  But that's okay.  I got some very useful feedback from the Amazon.com Vine Reviewers that will enable me to make my novel “False Love” that much better.  I'm thrilled to have made it as far as I did in the contest – further than I've ever gotten before.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my life has recently undergone some major transitions.  Among other things, I resigned from my job and started two new businesses: my own law practice and my own self-publishing company.  If there was ever a time for me to take a chance and start living the dream, it would be now.  So I'm going for it.

My debut novel – “Just Dreams” – will be out in a few weeks.  The cover is already complete. I've just got to implement the revisions suggested by my outside editor and get it formatted for publication.

I can't tell you how excited and nervous I am about the book and everything else.  I'm walking around feeling terrified yet strangely liberated at the same time.

It's crazy but, despite the fact I don't have to report in to the office every day anymore, I still find myself struggling to find the balance between taking care of the marketing and logistical aspects of starting two businesses and finding the time to write.  Who knew that ordering business and announcement cards, mastering the art of marketing on social media, and running around to train and network and properly register the businesses with the appropriate authorities would be so time consuming? I've spent hours reassuring friends, family and colleagues that I haven't lost my mind or suffered some sort of midlife crisis. And we won't even talk about all the time I've been spending with the relatively new (it will be a year in August) and much younger boyfriend.  Oh well, at least he made himself useful by providing me with inspiration for the romantic suspense novels and designing and creating the book covers.   I think he did a great job with the covers.  I hope you think so too.  I'm going to reveal the cover art soon so you can tell me what you think.

It's going to be a little crazy around here over the next few weeks with me editing the book while figuring out how to set up blog tours, format and upload the book to Amazon, Kobo and Barnes and Noble, and the logistics of running a law practice, and attending writers and law conferences.  But we'll get it done.

Thank you so much for your support during these transitions.  You'll be hearing from me again soon.

Peace

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Camp Nanowrimo

While I wait with baited breath to find out whether I made it to the third round of the 2014 Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, I'm participating in Camp Nanowrimo and finishing “Caged Dreams” – the third romantic suspense novel in my “Dreams” series featuring the Brooks family.

Camp Nanowrimo is an offshoot of National November Writing Month (“Nanowrimo”) – a writing event that takes place every November where writers all over the world sign up on a website (www.nanowrimo.org) and vow to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and November 30th. For Nanowrimo, it must be a new novel – not a continuation or a rewrite of an existing one. The idea is to furiously whip out a first draft and not have enough time for that dreaded inner editor to kick in. Writers have the opportunity to meet up with fellow writers in cafes or libraries or wherever and keep track of their word counts by updating their pages on the Nanowrimo website. When a writer hits 50,000 words, they “win.” They don't get a medal or prize money; instead, they get the satisfaction of having completed or being well on the way to completing a first draft of their novel.

Camp Nanowrimo, which takes place in April and July, is a more relaxed version of Nanowrimo. Instead of being stuck at 50,000 words, you can set your own word count goals for Camp Nanowrimo – anywhere between 10,000 and 1,000,000. You can work on an existing project or do different types of writing projects (short story collections, autobiographies, textbooks, etc.).

In keeping with the camp theme, writers are divided into cabins and grouped with 11 other cabin mates. My cabin mates are all women, with ages ranging from 16-51, writing in several different genres. Only one of us so far is anywhere near where her word count should be at this stage. Unfortunately, it's not me. 🙂

I'm going to stop procrastinating now, get back to writing and up my word count. On Saturday, there will be an eight hour writing marathon. I intend to participate and see if I can't make up for some lost time. I'll let you know how it goes.

Peace

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I Made It To the Second Round of the 2014 Amazon.com BreathThrough Novel Award Contest!

Hi There:

This is the third year that I've entered the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. In 2012 and 2013, I was kicked out of the contest during the first stage (the pitch stage). This year, I made the first cut and made it to the second stage of the contest. This is how it works:

The contests accepts 10,000 entries in five categories: General Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror and Young Adult. My novel is in the General Fiction category. To enter the contest, you have to submit a pitch (a 300 word description of your book like you would see on the back jacket), an excerpt from the beginning of your novel of 3000-5000 words (12-20 pages double-spaced), and the full manuscript (50,000-120,000 words).

Amazon selected editors reviewed the pitches and cut the entries down from 10,000 to 2,000 top entries. That means my pitch survived an 80% cut off the bat! I can't tell you how good that makes me feel. I darn near had a heart attack when I saw my name on the list of second round contestants in the general fiction category.

But the torture is far from over.  Amazon selected editors and Amazon Vine Reviewers (the top customer reviewers on Amazon) will next read our excerpts and narrow the field from 2000 second round participants to 500 Quarter-Finalists, who will be announced on www.amazon.com/abna on April 14, 2014 (just days before my birthday). Amazon will post each of the Quarter-Finalists’ excerpts and their associated written reviews online at www.amazon.com/abna. Amazon customers may download and read the excerpts and then write a review and rate the excerpt using Amazon’s process for submitting online reviews. I am very nervous about this stage. Some of the participants from previous years received scathing reviews of their excerpts. Oh well, it's a tough business I'm getting into and if I want to survive I guess I'm going to have to grow a thick skin.

Publishers Weekly editors will then read the Quarter-Finalists' full manuscripts to rate and review them based on: originality of idea, plot, prose/writing style, character development, and overall strength of the submission. On June 13, 2014, the top 25 Semi-Finalists will be announced at www.amazon.com/abna and the Publishers Weekly reviews of their manuscripts may be posted on http://www.publishersweekly.com. I really hope to get to this stage of the contest, because if I get a positive review from Publishers Weekly, I can use it to market my book so long as I don't substantially alter it.

A panel of qualified judges selected by Amazon Publishing editors will then read each Semi-Finalist's manuscript and accompanying review and, using the Judging Criteria, will select one Finalist in each of the five categories to be announced on July 8, 2014. Amazon customers will then vote and select the Grand Prize Winner of the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Contest who will be announced on or about July 21, 2014.

The finalists receive a publishing contract and a $10,000 advance. The Grand Prize is a $50,000 advance and a publishing contract with Amazon Publishing.

I'm sitting here wishing I had spent more time editing the book I entered. I'm not going to reveal the name of the novel I submitted yet because I don't want to be disqualified. But if I make it to the quarter-finals, I'm going to be calling on you for your help. I know that I can count on you.

Peace

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