Wednesday, April 23, 2008

She Says She's Already Won

A fantasy author walks into a grocery store...

My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, went to the grocery store this afternoon. This is eventful for a variety of reasons. First, she despises going to the grocery store and only does it when forced to do so. Today's glare into the empty refrigerator prompted this whiny "Oh, Nigel, there's nothing in this place to eat," and, subsequently, a fussy stomping around until she found shoes, an undergarment to slide beneath her clothing (you should see THAT process), and her purse so we could go to the store. While there, she decided she would buy a lottery ticket.

Now I have to explain that she doesn't typically buy lottery tickets because she considers them a form of reverse taxation (which I don't fully understand, even though she's explained it). But today she's willing to be taxed because the prize if her ticket's numbers are chosen is $25 million. Supposedly that will allow her to liberate all forms of sea turtles from shrimp trawling oppression. Oh, and she'll suddenly be able to market her novel, Choices Meant for Gods, in ways never before thought possible, making my lovely bride Amanda instantly famous. (I think that's a grand idea.)

To get on with my story: she approached the counter, handed the clerk her money and a voucher that indicated what numbers she'd like selected for her ticket, and the clerk asked if she had her ID with her. Sandy was stunned for a moment. As she explained to me later, no one has ever asked her for an ID when purchasing a lottery ticket before. The event is so infrequent that Sandy's never really thought about having an ID for it. She started digging in her purse and asked, "How old do you have to be to play?" The clerk answered, "18." I thought I would have to put hands on Sandy to keep her from dancing around the store. (She's 37. Ow! Well, you know they were all wondering!)

So Sandy says her day has been made and, even if she doesn't win $25 million in the drawing tonight, she feels like a winner at the moment.

Isn't that nice?

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

She Hasn't Repressed This One, Careless Memory #10

A Glimpse into a Writer's Life
When my fantasy author, Sandy Lender, was in sixth grade, her teacher would read to the class from a novel each day after lunch recess. She applauds this practice for a variety of reasons...

One of the books the man read was Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. (Hey! You've got that on the shelf here. Sandy has a first-edition hard-cover version of that on the book shelf here. You should put that on your page.) Anyway, the story is about a boy who works his tail off to save up enough money to buy two little hound dogs that he then spends every waking (and sleeping) moment with. It's a coming-of-age sort of story. It's also gut-wrenching, from what Sandy tells me. (I'm going to have to read this book…)

Her memory is of sitting in class listening to the teacher read, and as the story nears its completion, everyone in the classroom is bawling like an infant (boys, girls, teacher, too) over the ending chapters. It's quite moving, she tells me.

The class was so stirred by the book that they voted to have the teacher look up the other book Wilson Rawls wrote (Summer of the Monkeys) and read it next, which he did. Now, considering the age group in this story, these are young adult novels, but Sandy highly recommends them for anyone of any age.

We both recommend Sandy's fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods, but that's sort of a given around here. You can still pick up the hardback version everywhere, including The eBook is available from her publisher at

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

She Has a Divorce Question for You

If a woman is working 50+ hours a week at a job that pays a certain amount of money...
and that money gets taxed by the government...
and that money gets taxed by the state of her employer...
and she pays her own health insurance...
and she has so many bills and responsibilities that she actually loses, on average, $1,083.29 per month that she's alive...


if said woman is in the process of divorcing a "male" that removed his name from the mortgage on their home when it went into foreclosure and fled the state...
and said "male" informed his fulltime employer of 6 months that he was leaving the state to obtain a degree at another university elsewhere so the employer (of 6 months) fired him and gave his job responsibilities to a student...
and said "male" refuses to get a job so that he can pay for any of his living expenses, attorney expenses, school expenses, etc., but everyone assumes he is living off of student loans and federal financial aid (this cannot be proved, though, as he refuses to comply with court orders to provide appropriate financial information in the divorce proceedings)...

Do you believe the woman should be compelled to pay the "male" person's attorney's fees for him? My fantasy author is on the verge of fleeing the country just so the "male" person can be solely responsible for everything (perhaps including HER attorney's fees) just to get even with him for all the years she supported him financially and emotionally. She's quite the fussy little thing today and I fear letting her do any writing or editing of Book III in the Choices trilogy. It just couldn't bode well for any of the characters...

So let's hear your comments. Does this guy deserve to have his fees paid for him? Should she have to keep carrying him? Or should he be gang-raped by HIV-infected drug addicts who want to steal his shoes? She's laughing maniacally... Yes, I'm keeping her away from the story of my bride for a couple of days at least. I shudder.


Friday, April 11, 2008

She Wants Me to Discuss the Romantic vs. Fantasy Elements of Choices Meant for Gods

My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, would like me to talk about my bride's story today. And that pleases me just fine!

Amanda Chariss is the heroine of the epic fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods, which I encourage everyone to read. If you don't already have a copy, you can pick one up at or order one from any local book store. If you don't feel like dealing with unruly book store employees, you can get it at or the publisher's site at If you don't feel like paying full price, you can download the electronic version for less than $4 at the publisher's site, as well.

While you're thinking on those options, let me tell you a little about Sandy Lender's first fantasy novel. You see, you can read the synopsis at Sandy's site at or at the publisher's site at the link above, or at any number of the sites that you find her on when you put her name in a Google search (and she's explained that to me ad nauseum), but I can give you the real synopsis.

All the marketing materials will tell you that Choices Meant for Gods is an epic fantasy novel available in either hard cover or eBook format. All the propaganda and promotional pieces will tell you that Chariss is an orphan who's been on the run from an evil sorcerer all her life and she's finally found the will to stand and fight; and with that will has come the truth about her destiny, purpose and place in prophecy's plan to put her in charge of protecting a god who isn't worthy of her notice.

But I can tell you that Amanda Chariss isn't just the protector of the gods of Onweald. She is the stunning and amazing woman who will change the course of my life. Now, Sandy has warned me not to make more of the romance between Mandy and me than the book portrays because we don't want people coming to the book expecting a romance novel; you won't get only that.

Choices Meant for Gods is a fantasy novel. High fantasy with a new world that Sandy has created. High fantasy with new creatures and monsters that no other fantasy author has dreamt up before. High fantasy with gods and goddesses who walk among the mortals, influencing and affecting our lives (though not always for the better). High fantasy with prophecy and history and legends and family lineages that all interweave with current events to create an atmosphere that spells danger and intrigue for my bride.

It sets my nerves on edge, believe me. I'd rather it was strictly a romance novel. For a variety of reasons. For those who prefer a heavy hand at romance, you can pick out that thread under the rest of the plots in Choices Meant for Gods and be delighted with it…as I am.

For a spate of five-star reviews of Choices Meant for Gods, visit Sandy's page on at

All my best to you,
Nigel Taiman
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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

She Made $18 This Weekend

Or This is Why Writers Starve to Death

My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, participated in the Naples Press Club Author and Books Festival as an extension of the club's annual Writer's Conference this past weekend. She'd normally be blogging about this over at, because this is a lesson in marketing and promotion that writers can take information from, but Blogger is still reviewing her site (and she's adding this as one more day she'll be billing them for…).

But to get to the point of this post, she sold six copies of her fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods, and traded one, from her table in a hidden tent on the back patio of the von Liebig Art Museum on the first day of the conference, which was held alongside the Naples Art Festival just off of 5th Street downtown. She sold nothing on the second day because the only traffic (approximately 15 people who weren't other vendors) was conference attendees who had already seen the vendors on Saturday. But she still considers the event a success because she got her name out there for a couple of days and did some networking.

Here's where she's entertained by the statistics she gathered for other writers.
First, the list of facts.
She distributed the following:
16 pens at 42 cents per pen = $6.72
21 bookmarks at 25 cents per bookmark = $5.25
30 flyers at 39 cents per flyer = $11.70
one sword at $19.99 (not including shipping and tax)
one basket at approximately $53.00

The table cost her $75 for the two days
So she spent approximately $171.66 to make $18 this weekend. This does not include the 15 hours of editing and writing time lost while she stood there being perky.

The reason she's entertained by this is because it's NORMAL. When she attended DragonCon last fall, the same concept held true, but on a larger (read: more expensive) scale. This is why she laughs and calls her soon-to-be-ex a flaming idiot when he (and his attorney) makes requests for royalties from her sales. It seems the idiot who's never supported her writing habit and never read Choices Meant for Gods in any of its incarnations (either before meeting her, before marrying her, after marrying her, etc.), feels entitled to half her royalties "just because". She'd be perfectly willing to hand him half the $18 if he'd like to hand her half the $171.66 (of course, he'd need to also give her half of the $154 she paid up-front to have those seven copies of CMFG on hand). Oh, and there's about $6 grand plus in other marketing expenses prior to this weekend that she has records of that he can split 50/50 if he's still feeling entitled.

Have I mentioned that he's an idiot?

SO! If you're a writer with marketing and promoting aspirations, there's one way to network and get information distributed. Now, Sandy could have gotten together with a fellow author or two to split the cost of the table for the two days, but, considering the table afforded her only a 3- or 4-foot space, and her display is extensive, splitting it would prove problematic. For DragonCon this fall, she's splitting a 6-foot table with fellow fantasy author M.B. Weston, so they each get 3 feet of space to set their goodies in. It doesn't seem like much, but they're making plans to use the space behind them for presentation as well. It sounds elaborate and crazed.

They will spend nearly $1,000 each for the honor of standing in the basement of a hotel hoping attendees realize there are vendors in that section of the hotel and hoping those attendees purchase their books, love them, and become fans for the future.

And this is why so many writers starve to death before they become famous.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

She Interviews Dee Owen, a Lady with Class

Dee Owen, a friend of Sandy's, has taken on the lovely (yet arduous) task of publishing the works of her late mother-in-law. The first novel to be published is a murder mystery called Ladies of Class, and the review of it can be found in the post below. Both readers and writers can benefit from Dee's experience as she offers information on her process, but, as you will see in the interview here, there is not just a love of books and stories and the written word at work here. Sandy says to look for the underlying love of family. She was moved by some of the answers Dee offers, and hopes you will be, too.

Sandy Lender: First, can you give us a sort of biography of Marjorie Owen, the author of Ladies of Class?

Dee Owen: Marjorie Grace Patricia Bridget Owen was born Sept. 11, 1911, in England and endured the bombardment of World War II. As far as we can ascertain she was born out-of-wedlock with an Irish Lord for a father and a Russian princess as her mother. Although her life before working is somewhat sketchy, her career, as a major London department store clothing buyer, was long and interesting. Members of the Royal family were among some of her more famous clients. Marjorie found time to write many short stories and four novels ranging from romance to mystery. She did not attempt to publish any of her writings. We can only surmise that she wrote for the joy and did not wish to seek out any recognition or fame.
Marjorie passed away March 28, 2004, after a very full life, at the age of ninety-three.

Sandy Lender: How do you think Marjorie would feel about being published posthumously? About having her stories shared now?

Dee Owen: Mum is actually my mother-in-law. We do not know if she had ever thought of seeking publication but believe not, as she told no one of her writings. I hope that Mum is happy that I have had all her efforts and talent recognized through publication!

Sandy Lender: Do you know when Marjorie Owen started writing? Or what influenced her choice of genre?

Dee Owen: I really do not know when Mum started writing. She did not tell anyone that she had written the four novels and over fifty short stories. We only found them after she passed on. I would imagine that she wrote them over many years, as she worked full time as a top clothing buyer for one of the largest department stores in London. We know that she also worked several years past the official retirement age. Mum read many books and I believe her favorite were the murder mystery, detective genre. Although, two of her books and some of her stories are romance.

Sandy Lender: Do you write also?

Dee Owen: No I have not attempted to write… as yet! I hope to complete the task of transcribing all of Mum’s works first and maybe have some more published. However, this experience is a great learning curve for me. Who knows, perhaps I will try my hand at writing.

Sandy Lender: How did you find Vintage Romance Publishers?
Dee Owen: I researched publishers on-line and submitted the book to several. Vintage Romance were the first to respond.

Sandy Lender: How did you convince them to take on a mystery novel when the word Romance is so prominent in their name/brand?

Dee Owen: "Vintage" is the key part of this small press. They publish books with a historical content, not only romance. As Mum's book takes us back in time to pre-World War II, therein lies the history.

Sandy Lender: Did Vintage Romance Publishing assign an editor to the book even though you were already (in my eyes) the editor, or are you looked upon as the "assembler"? How is your role defined?
Dee Owen: Dawn Carrington, the owner of the company, gave me guidelines on the editing. She basically "taught" me how to edit and guided me through the process with suggestions and advice. Therefore, you could say that my role was sub-editor.

Sandy Lender: Do you intend to publish all of Marjorie Owen's works beyond the Richard Hayward series?

Dee Owen: If Ladies of Class is reasonably successful, then I would like the sequel to be published. If that is successful, perhaps I will hire a ghost writer to continue the Detective Chief Inspector Richard Hayward series. Yes, I would like to eventually publish all Mum’s works. As stated previously, I may attempt to write!

Sandy Lender: Because he's so important to Ladies of Class and the rest of Marjorie's series, tell us a bit about Richard Hayward.

Dee Owen: The main character is Detective Chief Inspector Richard Hayward. He has a knack for catching the criminal and has a unique character of being "part of the system" but "kicking back against the system". If you understand what I mean. He is a loving, caring person and at the same time blunt and to the point.

Sandy Lender: Would you give visitors a synopsis of Ladies of Class before the review posted below?

Dee Owen: In the book Ladies of Class, Richard Hayward’s promotion and move from the big city life to the sleepy town of Burshill, England, has been shattered. Sir John Bury needs a murder solved. Clues take him from Burshill to California, Paris and London and back in time. As the story progresses the plot thickens. Richard Hayward's reputation as the youngest officer to be promoted to Detective Chief Inspector precedes him. Richard hoped his recent transfer and move to Burshill would allow him a quiet convalescence from a broken leg. But his peace was soon to be disturbed by a phone call from Sir John Bury, the Chief Constable.
A murder had been committed that night and Richard's ability to solve crimes, in spite of his unconventional methods, were needed before his duties officially began.
The results of his investigations and travels, in search of clues and answers to the apparently senseless murders are surprising. Several ladies of a particular "class" become part of the inquiry. As the facts begin to unfold, they not only amaze Richard, himself and the community of Burshill, but extend all the way to the top brass of Scotland Yard. In the face of adversity, Richard manages to outwit the criminal and emerges triumphant.

To order your print copy of Ladies of Class, visit Barnes and Noble at Or visit the Vintage Romance Publishing site at Ladies of Class is also available at

You can read about Dee, Marjorie and Ladies of Class at the Web site Dee also has a blog called Mum's Writings to visit at, but the Web site has tons of info...I'd go there first!

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

She Reviews Ladies of Class

My Fantasy Author Reviews Ladies of Class by Marjorie Owen
(interview with daughter and editor Dee Owen here tomorrow)

Ladies of Class is a fantastic read! Ms. Owen catches your attention right up front with the surprise announcement of the well-loved Laura Clayton's impending murder and speeds you from clue to clue with her clever and likeable Detective Chief Inspector Richard Hayward. He's new to the quaint English town so we get to learn all the peculiarities of the place right alongside him as he tries to figure out why Laura, and two old friends from a finishing school in pre-war Leveisin, France, would be murdered within days of one another.

The wonderful thing about this mystery is that the information comes at you at the perfect pace, presented in a manner that keeps you guessing what's next. You don't lose track of what's already been revealed because the elements build so fluidly on each other. Ms. Owen has an excellent style for storytelling and even had me laughing out loud at some of the twists her inspector got to watch.

If you're looking for a good, clean mystery to absorb you for an afternoon, I recommend Ladies of Class by Marjorie Owen. It's available from Vintage Romance Publishing, although it's very much a mystery tale with all the page-turning elements of a detective story. You can order your copy from

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She's Pissed At Blogger

My Fantasy Author, Sandy Lender, is not just pissed off...she's ready to take down the Blogger empire. Without her blog, she's not able to market efficiently (wait...what am I here for?), so when Blogger's "robots" (their terminology, not mine; Sandy had to explain to me what a robot is in between swear words that I'm not allowed to use here) sent a message saying her blog at had characteristics of a spam blog, she was irate. She figures it's probably because she works the title of her fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods into almost every blog post one way or another (that's called "marketing," folks, and she's got a career in journalism and public relations that taught her how to do it tactfully) and then includes it in the search engine tags.

Because she posts to every single day (well, she missed Sunday due to "too much going on in my insane life!"), that's at least two or three instances of Choices Meant for Gods hitting the search engines every single day. Blogger must have flipped out.

Or her soon-to-be-ex is a bigger @$$ than we thought and he sent a note to Blogger telling them to check it out. If so, she'll be bringing it up in court so he can be penalized for affecting her ability to make money from the sales of her novel. She's no fool. (She's also paranoid. Did you know she owns a book called Only the Paranoid Survive?)

The reason this is obnoxious this week is because Sandy wished to help a fellow author who's doing a small book tour to celebrate the release of a mystery novel. The novel is Ladies of Class by the late Marjorie Owen; the editor is Dee Owen. Dee is scheduled to be at tomorrow, Friday, April 4, and Sandy is considering whether to assess Blogger with fines for the sales Dee will lose in lost traffic due to the delay in posting because of the block while they (I can't use that word, Dearest)...ahem...while they screw around figuring out that is NOT a spam blog, but a site for writers and readers to get writing, editing, grammar, promotion, inspiration, and publication tips.

In the meantime, I'll be taking on the next two days of Dee Owen and Ladies of Class posts. They'll appear at Today the Dragon Wins as soon as Blogger finishes reviewing the site, which should be any day now, but Sandy didn't want Dee to miss her days on her tour... Sandy did a two-month book tour last summer, you know, and it was quite deflating when someone would drop the ball.

The post above should be Sandy's review of Ladies of Class by Marjorie Owen. Come back tomorrow, Friday, April 4, for an interview with Editor and Daughter, Dee Owen.

Have a fabulous Thursday.
Nigel Taiman
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