I have not had much time over the past few weeks to catch up on my blogging to my readers. Sorry about that. I was working hard on putting the first Southwest Florida Writers Conference in Port Charlotte last weekend.
We had almost two hundred people attend the conference. There were ten agents from NY along with editors, publishers and our own local faculty to deal with. We had a few glitches but all in all is was a great event.
This was the second time meeting agents and I'm still learning from them. This time I was able to send in fifteen pages ahead of time for the agent to go over and critique. Believe me that was scary.
I spoke with three agents and got different feed back from each of them. I will take what they said to heart and try to incorporate their comments to the book I'm working on. The good thing is two of the agents want to see the finished manuscript.
If any writer is serious about their writing and getting an agent I strongly advise you to go to writers conferences and meet with agents.
I was lucky enough to meet with them casually at a dinner the night before and get to know them as people. It made it a lot easier to sit across the table from them and discuss my book.
In February I was on a cruise and met with agents from the Seymour agency in NY. It was the first time I had met any agents and believe me it was a lot better than sending hundreds of query letters out that no one even reads.
That said being a sucessful author is more than just putting words on paper and hoping for the best. It's a craft, an art that you have to learn. You have to take advise from people that know what they are talking about.
I learned so much from all these agents. You have to learn how to write a pitch. The very first agent I spoke to shot me down in flames. Everyone felt sorry for me it was so bad. But I learned that I didn't pitch my book I gave her a synopsis and that is not what she wanted. I spent the next three days honing and revising my pitch. NY Times Best Selling author Don Bruns sat with me in one of the ships lounges and over several drinks I had a pitch that impressed four agents on the trip where they were interested enough to ask for me to send them my book.
I know have six agents and a publisher interested in my as yet unfinished manuscript.
That my friends in the value of going to conferences and meeting face to face with agents.
Don Bruns told me he met his agent at a conference sitting in the hotel bar. They struck up a conversation and the rest is history.
Check out writers conferences in your area and go learn from them. Maybe you'll be on the times best seller list some day.
Please leave me a comment or email me - email@example.com
,When I was on the cruise with the Seymour agency I was told that I needed to have my book reach eighty pages. My books are usually in the novella range of forty-five to fifty thousand words. This is going to be a challenge.
The Alligator Dance is about a real event last year in Manatee County Florida. Nine people were convicted on RICO charges to do with the illegal poaching of alligators eggs. Yes, poaching alligator eggs. Now you would think we have plenty of alligators and so should have plenty of eggs. Wrong. The fashion trades demand for hides for purses, belts, shoes and so forth is driving the need for more and more hides.
Louisiana is the main producer of hides for this trade. Double what Florida does.
There are only thirty permits issued by the state of Florida each year for the legal collecting of alligator eggs. The price for each egg varies but can reach $100. If you figure that each nest contains 30 to 80 eggs you can see why poachers are trying to cash in.
My book is romantic suspense. It's also fiction with some facts thrown in. I have a park ranger that happens to be a Seminole Indian, Seth Grayson. His partner in catching the poachers is Liz Corday, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law enforcement officer. Along the way they discover that the laws of attraction know now boundaries.
I'm on my way to a Sisters in Crime meeting so I have to get a move on. I'll tell you more about The Alligator Dance next week when I figure it out. Sixty thousand words to go.
Please leave comments, ask questions or contact me - firstname.lastname@example.org
don't forget to register for the Southwest Florida Writers conference, April 13, in Port Charlotte.
As authors we are all looking for that agent who will get us that big deal.
I just returned from a cruise with the Seymour Agency to the Bahamas. You might think it's a strange way to find an agent but oh so much fun.
I found out about the cruise from Angelina Assanti the President of The Florida Authors and Publishers Association which I belong to. We sailed out of Miami to the Bahamas on Monday and returned on Friday. It will take me days to recover. I have so much to catch up on.
I met these two officers and they were kind enough to let me have a picture with them. I spent way too much money shopping but oh well. This may only happen once.
You are all probably wondering how I made out with the agents. The first night one of the agents had a casual pitch session which I totally blew. The agent was not at all impressed with my pitch for The Alligator Dance my new novel that is still in progress. I was shot down in flames and totally depressed. Lucky for me a couple kind people came up to me and expressed their sympathy and said that they were interested in my book. I spent two days refining my pitch while attending the different workshops. Did I say this was a working trip? I had a lot of help from friends old and new and finally got my pitch down.
On the last day, the agents held a pitch fest where we each had five minutes to pitch our book to an agent. I got over my stage fright and pitched to five agents and one publisher. They all requested that I submit my book to them when I finished it and one asked that I make it a series and submit a proposal for two more books.
I'm going to need your help when I finish my novel. I will need beta readers to read and let me know if the book hits all the right spots or if it's totally dreadful and make some suggestions. The book will take a few months to finish and then has to go to an editor. I'm hoping to have it finished by fall. If you are interested in helping me I'll send you an attachment with the PDF of the novel. If you are one of the beta readers and send me your input I'll see that you receive a free copy of the book when It's published.
Here is the pitch I gave.
Two people charged with protecting the environment have to put aside their primal attraction and risk their lives to stop poachers from decimating alligator nests in a Florida State Park.
As always I'd love to hear from you and if you wish to contact me use my email
Hi folks, sorry I haven't been here for a while. So many things going on and so little time.
I've been working the Southwest Florida Writers conference to be held in Port Charlotte, April 13. More agents to meet and workshops to attend. If interested you better sign up now as time is quickly running out.
I've published two new books for authors. They are listed on the authors page with their covers and links to their Amazon page. Linda Eskin is a very dear phone friend who lives in New Hampshire. She's completed her fourth book with me. Ali Goebel is from Sarasota who wrote and illustrated her first book. I hope you will take the time you look at them.
I've also been working on my new novel and after a couple title changes have settled on The Alligator Dance. You can find the first chapter at the end of this blog. It's about alligator egg poaching in Florida. Yes it's a real thing. The main character is a handsome park ranger that happens to be a Seminole Indian. Reading this book will surprise you with the information about the Seminole culture and the illegal trade in alligator eggs.
The big news is that I'm going on a cruise with the Seymour literacy agency to the Bahamas. Along with meeting agents there will be reps from Hallmark and Netflix. I have my fingers crossed. Who knows maybe I'll have my paranormal mysteries on the Hallmark Channel.
As always please leave a comment or contact me via email - email@example.com
now for the first chapter of - The Alligator Dance
The Alligator Dance
“Remember, I’ll be back in two hours. If you’re not here I’m leaving without you,” Carl yelled at the men in the back of the truck. He was fed up with this early morning shit. The sun was barely up, but the heat and humidity were already oppressive. Carl was a good ol’ boy from Bartow, picking up odd jobs as they can around. The drop-off point was on the southwest side of the River Bend State Park. The men would have to climb a fence into the protected and posted nature preserve and be out of the park before eight o’clock that morning. Visitors hiking to Gator Basin could be coming along the two-mile stretch of road any time after that. Six men jumped off the truck. One of the men, Dr. Melendez, was a biologist. For some reason, the boss thought that having a biologist along made their raiding of the alligator nests more or less legal, but Carl knew there was nothing legal about what they were doing.
“Yeah, yeah,” grumbled Cody, a tall, well-built charmer with sun-bleached blond hair. He didn’t need a reminder. He’d taken this trip with Carl before and would much rather be at the beach surfing. The six men deployed out along the bank of the slow-moving branch of the Myakka River- heading for an area known as Gator Basin. The spot was an anomaly for attracting over a hundred alligators of all sizes to its deep depths. They had to be careful, quick and quiet so they didn’t draw the attention of the park ranger. The duty ranger had a way of turning up when least expected.
The men trailed off along the river bank-leaving Cody alone. He could see them off in the distance, poking around and occasionally stopping to fill their plastic containers.
Cody was the youngest of the crew. He was only working for Carl to help pay his way through college at USF. He needed the money. His football scholarship only covered so much, and his parents couldn’t help. The men were not very friendly and considered him an outsider. It was ok because he didn’t like them either. Cody’s Spanish was getting better, and he understood when they were making fun of him. He was graduating early next year because of the extra classes he was taking this summer. He would miss the friends he had made, but he was anxious to get on with his life. Cody hated working for Carl and knew what they were doing was illegal as hell.
Cody would like to be able to eat more than Top Ramen five nights a week. Last time out he got five hundred dollars. Not bad for a couple of hours battling the mosquitoes and heat, not to mention watching out for snakes and gators. He located a mound of leaves, and dirt and plant vegetation which was three feet high and about six feet around, Cody hoped to find thirty to fifty eggs inside. He got paid for each egg he turned in to Carl. Cody took a quick look around, checking to see if momma gator was close. He didn’t see anything, so he began to uncover his prize.
With his back to the water, Cody knelt to dig down to the eggs. “Momma you sure buried these down far enough,” he grunted as he dug with the short spade. Suddenly he realized that the world around him had gone silent. The birds had stopped chirping. Even the insects had stopped buzzing around his head. The hair on the back of his head stood up, and a chill raised goosebumps on his arms. Then he heard it. The low growl of momma alligator rumbled through the still air, and she was not happy.
Almost instantly as the thoughts raced through his head, excruciating pain raced up his leg. The gator was crushing his calf above his work boot with her sharp teeth filled jaws, dragging him through the mud, down to the water. He tried to grab anything to hold onto to save himself. Cody screamed, but the others were too far away. He prayed to God and knew his life was over.
“Did you hear something?” Hector asked. He stood over an open nest and looked in Cody’s direction.
“Nah, keep going there is another nest right there,” another man told him.
“I swear I heard someone calling,” Hector insisted.
“Probably one of those crazy birds or something. Come on we’ve only another half hour before we meet Carl. I’m getting eaten alive by these bugs,” Manuel complained.
The men finished destroying twenty nests, robbing them of the alligator eggs. On their way back to the pick-up spot they passed the section of nests that Cody had been raiding. “Where’s that smart-ass college kid?” Hector asked. Looking around he saw the open nest with the exposed eggs. Drag marks and blood in the mud led down to the water. Hector made the sign of the cross and hurried to catch up with the others, “Madre Dios,” Hector whispered. He had liked the smart young kid. He picked up Cody’s bucket of eggs and the spade and carried on to the pickup spot.
Now that Hidden Assets - book three in the Green Lady Inn series is in production I'm learning more about how to promote it and also how to let listeners have a little sample. Whispers in Time, book two in the series, focuses on an art theft at the Longstreet Gallery in Salem Ma. It seem that the Green Lady Inn attracts more than it's share of trouble and guests that are not who they say they are.
Listen to the first chapter of Whispers in Time. Book one and two are available on Audible. I'd love to know what you think and leave a review.
Here is the link to Broken Branches, book one, on Audible. https://www.audible.com/pd/B07BMHT747/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-111674&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_111674_rh_us
We have finally seen the old year out and the New Year in.
Every year since I began my writing journey, going on nine years now, I have kept a loose record of my expenses, and profits. This year I'm proud to announce I'm $600 less in the hole than I was the year before.
Keeping track of expenses and profits lets me see where I could have saved money and where were the best ways to make money.
I use excel spread sheets. Fellow authors here call me the spread sheet queen because I keep all sorts of records for my writing and other things like my house budget.
In 2018, I entered a couple contests and won an award in the Florida Authors and Publishers Association for my children's book , Sailing Away to Nod. It's a beautifully illustrated book and I need some reviews for it. I'm waiting for results in two more contests.
In the mean time I'm writing another novel, Gator Farm. It's a fictional story based on a real event here in Manatee County FL dealing with the poaching of alligator eggs. You would not believe how much you can get for an alligator egg and all the hoops you have to go through to do it legally. I'm hoping to have it finished for the Southwest Florida Writers conference in Port Charlotte in April. I have an opportunity to present my work in front of two New York agents. It's promising to be a huge event for the area.
Also in production for audio is Hidden Assets - Book three in the Green Lady Inn series. In case any one likes to listen on Audible, here is a sample of book two for you
Please leave a comment or ask a questions. I would love to hear from you.
I finally have a couple weeks off before the craziness starts again. I've had a busy December traveling from Melbourne to Daytona, the 'Villages' near Ocala and to Venice last weekend. I've mentioned going to events before and how important they are in getting noticed, raising your author platform and your brand. If readers don't know you exist how can they buy your books?
There is also an art to selling your books. There were about ten of us at the Venice Community Center December 15. Book sales ranged from 20 to 0.
What I noticed is that authors that have been selling a while have a spiel and patter down and they know how to attract readers.
I felt bad for the authors that did not sell anything. They are new and did not know how to engage the people walking past their table. One was knitting and the other was doing the crossword in the paper.
I love to help authors succeed and did try a bit to show them how to talk to passers by but I had my own books to sell. Next time we are together I will try to place them better and give them a bit more help.
We were all new authors once and have a lot to learn not only about the craft of writing but about the business of being an author.
Here are some of the authors at the Venice arts and Craft fair.
Remember to register for the Southwest Florida Writers Conference in Port charlotte in April 2019.
I'm always looking for the next best thing for my books. Last spring I decided to try audiobooks. A friend spent hours or should I say days recording Broken Branches - book one in the Green Lady Inn series. After trying to figure out the production end of it I gave up and went to ACX. They are part of Amazon. Isn't everything these days? I found out how really easy and not that expensive to produce an audiobook on Audible.
What amazed me was the terrific reviews that are on my Audible page for my book.
Here is one of the reviews.
"Normally I am not a listener of mystery novels, but this one sounded interesting so I gave it a try. Glad I did, it was so compelling I started and finished it within 24 hours. This story contains romance and mystery with a small supernatural twist in just the right proportions. Megan came to Salem to take care of her Grandma's affairs after her unfortunate death. While in Salem, she meets Mr. Right, discovers her family history, befriends several locals and finds herself trying to put the clues together to figure out who might have killed her Gram.
"The book was well-written, the mystery well plotted out and the characters were believable. The narrator did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life with just the right pacing and voices. Looking forward to listening to book number 2. "
It makes an authors heart sing to hear that someone liked there work.
After the success of my first audiobook I went on to Whispers in Time - Book two in the Green Lady Inn series. The reviews were amazing for the second book.
Another great review.
"Whispers in Time by Brenda M Spalding pulled me in from the very beginning. I so enjoy stories that have hidden things and ghosts. The author wrote this book with incredible imagery. I loved the mystery in the story, and how the old home was being renovated. The characters were also well developed. This book is the second in the series and a standalone listen. The narrator, Eliza Wethers did a great performance. She added to the book with her distinguishable voices for the various characters. I requested this review copy audiobook and have voluntarily written this review. I will definitely listen to more books by this author and narrator. "
I'm so happy that listeners are enjoying my books and the narrator I choose. My Narrator, Eliza Wethers, will be narrating and producing book three in the series, Hidden assets. It will be out in late spring.
I have just published book four in the series - The spell Box. I will look forward to making this an audiobook as well.
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From the active mind of Brenda M. Spalding