Saturday, February 25, 2017

Alexa Grace - In Memorium

I'm saddened today to learn that fellow author, Alexa Grace, has lost her battle with Thymic Cancer and passed away.
Not only a member of Beach Read Authors, a blogging group I co-founded, but an author who participated in several Suspense Box Sets with many of the BRA authors, Alexa was always cheerful, positive and helpful in promoting our projects, using her own money to buy ads for us 'smaller' authors. She was grateful when we decided to donate a portion of our proceeds from the box sets to Thymic Cancer Research and touched that her fellow authors would do this.

I didn't know Alexa face to face, but always held out hope we'd cross paths at a writers' conference someday. She'd achieved USA Today Bestselling status, writing Romantic Suspense and is still selling well on Amazon. With two series, the Deadly Series and the Profile Series, Alexa has thousands of reviews, probably millions of fans and will be missed in the Romance community as a prolific author. Her permafree lead-in to the Deadly Series, Deadly Offerings, is ranked in the top 1500 free on Amazon and has over 3,000 reviews.

Here's what her Amazon bio says:

Alexa Grace is the USA TODAY bestselling author of riveting romantic suspense novels including the Deadly Series and the Profile Series.
Alexa's journeys into suspense are accurate police procedurals with a healthy dose of passion.A voracious reader, she has been influenced by writers ranging from James Patterson to Lisa Gardner to Nora Roberts.
Her books, Deadly Offerings and Profile of Evil,have been recognized by RT Book Reviews as Top Picks.  Profile of Terror was awarded Best Romantic Suspense of 2014 by the Little Shop of Readers Reviewers Choice.
Alexa Grace earned a bachelor's degree in Communication and a Master's degree in Education from Indiana State University.  Before becoming a full-time author, she worked as a corporate training director.
An Indiana native, Alexa divides her time between Indiana and Florida. She has a daughter and four Miniature Schnauzers, three of which are rescues.   As a writer, she is fueled by Starbucks lattes, chocolate and communicating with her street team and readers.

Alexa's books live on at Amazon.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Big Little Lies on HBO

HBO launched it's new Sunday series, Big Little Lies, on Sunday at 9 p m and it's a compelling hour of mystery, bitchiness and scenery.

If you read the book by Australia's Liane Moriarty, author of The Husband's Secret, you know that the story timeline jumps all over the map starting at present day with an alleged murder, to months earlier when the first day of kindergarten orientation throws together a group of women in a small seaside Australian town. The timeline continues to jump around as we spend the whole book trying to figure out which one of the characters has died. All this while getting to know their intricate backstories and complicated relationships. One sleeps with a gun under her pillow, one has a lot of PDA along with physical violence behind the scenes.

In HBO's version, written by David Kelley, (Michelle Pfeiffer's hubby,) the story takes place near Monterrey, California and spans 7 episodes that follow the moms of first graders at a wonderful little school that touts all the slogans of today's children: Sharing is Caring, No Bullying, Safety First, etc.
The series opens with the knowledge that someone has died at the school Trivia Night Fundraiser. All parents interviewed on camera say it all started on that first day of orientation for the first graders.

The series' producers include Liane Moriarty, the author herself, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. It is maybe because of this fact that it's been touted as a feminist series, simply because there are five female leads in the script and women are producing it. Something that is a rarity in Hollywood. But, even though it deals with the modern woman problem of juggling jobs and careers with motherhood, I would not label it as anything but a fascinating look into the lives of mothers in a small, affluent community. And an opportunity to see some spectacular Northern California seascapes in the opening credits!

Witherspoon is the likable busy body, Kidman is the quiet beautiful wife of a handsome rich man, Shailene Woodley is the young, poor, single mom who looks horribly out of place, Zoe Kravitz is the free-spirited yoga teacher married now to Reese's ex-husband and Laura Dern is the financial analyst with an au pair and is not particularly well-liked in the mommy community.
All women are brilliant actresses and play their parts with the finesse they are known for, including the young Woodley, who was last seen in Divergent and Fault in Our Stars.

The director has pieced together scenes expertly, giving us an opener that grabs us around the throat to insure we stick with the series to see who died. It's someone we are getting to know well in this series, I'm pretty sure. It's a beautiful thing to have a terrible memory for books, especially now when I can't remember the ending but I guess my memory is shot because as a mother I've had so much other shi_ to remember in the last twenty years! If you're like me, you're going to not only see yourself in these women but enjoy the reveal.

Be sure to catch Big Little Lies on HBO on Sunday at 9.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Goldy hits Gold in Romantic Suspense!

Necessary Detour, my Romantic Suspense, is doing well this month on Amazon Prime and I thought I'd give it a little shout out to offer some tidbits on the publishing story of a book about a newly retired female rock star hiding from a psychotic stalker at her lake house in Washington State.

ND was the second full novel I ever wrote. It was my experiment to see if I could write romance and when I shopped around for a publishing deal, only to get no response, I figured it was my throw away novel to hide and forget, even though I loved the characters and the story.

Nikki is the rock star GOLDY, comparable to Madonna's popularity and longevity, or Beyonce, Lady Gaga, but heartbreakingly beautiful (Of course! It's Romance!) When she suddenly announces her retirement from the music business at the age of 39, the world mourns, the media seeks an answer, and Nikki goes in hiding from a stalker who masterminded an unsuccessful murder attempt at her final concert.

It's a fun read. When I submitted ND to a few romance publishers 5 years ago, Source Books, Carina Press, The Wild Rose Press, I had interest and in the end, the one who came back with a publishing offer was TWRP, a boutique romance publisher that is known for being extremely author- friendly and easy to work with.
I was thrilled, and they published ND at the same time as I Indie Pubbed my other book The Dream Jumper's Promise. I felt like I'd given birth to twins and they were at separate hospitals as I ran back and forth caring for my babies!

Both books did well that first year, ND especially so when it fell it with thriller writers like Dean Koontz and other big names. Because I didn't control the book's cover, description, or other publishing details, I also couldn't see the numbers. I had no idea it was selling like it was until I got a whopping check in May and realized I should have put more effort into my RS. I was oblivious to how well it did those first few months.

Four and a half years later, ND is now with both TWRP and Amazon Encore who asked for it 6 months ago, seeing it did well enough to have a second start at bestsellership. I was honored to be asked!
And just after Christmas, ND was chosen by PRIME to take part in that program. TWRP contacted me and offered me 90 days of PRIME, for a flat payment rate and I jumped on it, never having made that kind of money for one book in 90 days. I was thrilled again!

ND hit #55 in the Kindle Store last week which is frickin' amazing and it's doing really well on PRIME, up there with Romantic Suspense Authors like Elizabeth Naughton and Kendra Elliot. My hubby says this is the little book that just keeps on giving and I have to agree with him.

For a novel that got written with hope, love, humor and then went under the bed due to rejection, I am proud that Nikki and Pete's story has a wide readership. Here's to love and danger!

As one reviewer recently said "It's a great book for the beach or the fireside."
Find Necessary Detour on Amazon.

KIM HORNSBY is a Bestselling Amazon Author who makes her home in the Seattle area where she writes at a desk overlooking a tree-lined lake with a cup of tea always by her side and plane tickets always on her desk.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Thomas and Mercer Imprint Can Contact me Now

I'm sitting at my desk waiting to be discovered by Thomas and Mercer, Montlake, or Lake Union Publishing at Amazon.

If you are an acquisitions editor over there, I invite you to take a look at my body of work. You can have any or all of my books except NECESSARY DETOUR which is already with Amazon Encore and is on Amazon Prime right now.
Amazon already owns that one and it is doing very well this month, having reached #55 in Paid Kindle last week.

Prime Rocks!

I drift in and out of having an author ranking, which is fun.

I just spent the day making a list of agents that might be interested in my next novel FORTUNE, the story of a diminished woman who finds redemption and worth through the adoption of a handicapped newborn in Taiwan. It is a Suspense in the sense that The Husband's Secret and The Girl Who Wrote in Silk were Suspense. Upmarket Women's Fiction, Suspense, Romance, they all work.

As an author, I'm unrepresented by an agent but am open to representation. I tried to get an agent years ago, gave up and self-published (not my idea of optimal) and figure I've spent about 27 solid weeks of my life querying agents. Maybe more, but I've come to the realization that it must be REALLY hard to take a chance on a new client and most agents are not that adventurous.

Or I'm a crappy writer.

But, if it was the latter, why would I have 120 reviews on NECESSARY DETOUR at 4.5* and 302 reviews on The DREAM JUMPER'S PROMISE at 4.6*? And why would TDJP be an Amazon Bestseller up there with Dr. Sleep by King for weeks?

There is a market for my style and level of writing. Numbers don't lie.
The Dream Jumper's Promise in  4th place (with the BLUE book cover - not the final cover) just behind Dr. Sleep.
The average 40 year-old woman likes my stories if they discover me. Very few readers give my books a bad review. Oh, except for the gal who wrote "The couple was so horny!" She gave me a 2* review for the sequel to PROMISE. That one has 59 reviews at 4.6*. Best worst review EVER!

The final cover to The Dream Jumper's Promise
just under Stephen King's Dr. Sleep (again)
I just read a blog by a gal who got an email from a senior acquisitions editor at Lake Union, Jodi Warshaw, saying they were interested in her self-published novel. They cleaned it up and republished her book and now it's doing better than ever. How thrilling!

I'm open to that kind of attention for any of my books except Necessary Detour which is owned by Amazon already (twice now, I've said this to show that someone over there at Amazon likes my work.)

I looked up how to submit to Thomas & Mercer but there is no information online. Apparently, the various Amazon Imprints must contact you, you don't query them. I suppose agents contact them but they do not take unsolicited queries. I can understand this. They are busy people, vetting the queries through agents. I understand it, but I don't like it. I need an agent too.

So, in a total self-promotional moment, I'm going to list some of my brag-worthy stuff if anyone reading this is an acquisitions editor at Amazon, or a really good agent for what I write.
The Dream Jumper's Promise

Book Signing Event at B & N Maui, Author David Schoonover attended!

I'm standing by now for my dream agent or an acquisitions editor to contact me.

Feel free to check me out on Amazon over here.
Then email me at kimhornsby @ yahoo .com to talk about acquiring something or representing me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

An Audience in Underwear!

Pretend everyone in front of you is wearing their underwear. That's what the public speaking experts say to help get over nervous jitters when addressing a group.
I've never found this helps me stay on topic because of my over active imagination working overtime to conjure up two hundred sets of different underwear, instead of focusing on my talk. One gal has lacy mauve lingerie but the one next to her prefers her white granny panties with an industrial strength bra...that type of thing.
What helps me when speaking in front of a large group is the knowledge that the people out there WANT me to succeed. Genuinely. They WANT to like me. Having invested an hour of their time in me, they are hoping their choice proves to be worthwhile and are prepared to give me the benefit of the doubt about how engaging I will be. This is fact. I have an extensive background in entertainment and reading audiences. Those faces in front of you might look passive but behind their blank expression is interest, agreement and engagement.
Sometimes, when I'm listening to a speaker, I stop and note that I'm wearing my resting bitch face but inside I'm thinking things like Oh, this is good stuff, Yes!, She's funny, I like that last statement.
Even though I'm not showing my support or interest on the outside, I can be nodding my head and smiling on the inside. I try to change my expression to let the speaker know I'm on board even though my previously frozen expression wasn't highly favorable.

As the speaker, you look out on the sea of faces, often observe a whole lot of nothing, and find it hard to carry on. That's why some people take off their glasses during a speech or try to look to the back of the room or directly at empty chairs. It's daunting to see glazed over eyes and surly expressions. Performers have been known to stop a show and call out someone in the front row who is on their phone, texting, but this is never a good thing. One must assume their inner expression is fascination and happiness and carry on as such. Assume the best.

I recently did a book signing/talk at Barnes & Noble Maui (I know, right!) and one particular woman looked bored to tears. I even sped up my talk to accommodate her expression, several times. But when the talk ended and she lined up to buy several books, I realized that she was a big fan, loved my work, and her expression wasn't indicative of what she was feeling. She wanted her photo with me for her social media pages. I was wrong to assume her passive facial expression was boredom. Don't fall in to this trap. It's rarely correct.
Audiences are completely in your corner, cheering for your success as a public speaker.

Here's some quick tips to help you get through a speech or talk:

1. Assume they like you and will find you interesting/funny/engaging. Use self talk.
2. Make eye contact with as many as you can during your talk
3. Smile when you say something amusing but don't guffaw at your own jokes
4. Feel free to pause to gather your thoughts. You can insert a nod or smile here
5. Stand up straight, speak clearly, don't fidget
6. Show your audience that you feel genuine fondness and appreciation for them
7. Imagine a rock star side of yourself who loves the stage
8. Do not giggle nervously or show you doubt your words
9. Thank your audience for listening
10. Pretend you're a big deal!

Good luck out there to anyone whose favorite pastime is not public speaking. Go Get 'Em!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Diving at The Cathedral Caverns off Lanai

We woke way before dawn, gathered our stuff and drove to Maala boat ramp to meet Extended Horizons for their morning boat charter. We were excited even though paying for a boat charter feels wrong after a decade of being paid to do dive charters but I was not in charge this morning, did not own the boat and no longer have Scuba Instructor PADI insurance. It felt good to be a customer!
Eliza and Kim - Dive Buddies!
The boat ride to Lanai was lovely as the sun rose behind the West Maui Mountains and graced us with rays of buttery sunshine. Humpback whales were out in full force, tail slapping, breaching, blowing off in the distance, their black backs glinting in the sun before they dove to the bottom of the channel.
Our first dive was at a place called No Name Paradise, a large underwater rock formation off the backside of Lanai that was home to hundreds of fish and gorgeously interesting sea critters. Although our group of 6 did not see the shark, the other group did. We were led by a Russian man named Mike who was the photographer/instructor which meant that our dive involved a lot of looking at minutia while Mike took pics. I love the little stuff, personally.
Shooting out the hole at The Cathedrals
Inside The Cathedrals
The second dive was The Cathedrals, the reason for booking this charter, (along with the fact they run on bio fuel cooking oil from the restaurants in Lahaina and the boat smells like fries!) and after mooring to the pre-set line at the famous dive spot, we slipped in to the water. No current, no surge, 50 feet of visibility! We dropped down, scoured the reef for octopus, posed for photos and then headed in through the biggest opening in the grand Cathedral to spend time in a cavern that was formed from underwater gases trapped inside lava.
Frog Fish!
I've done this dive hundreds of times but it's always special and lovely and ethereal and daunting. Inside the Church-sized room are things not seen in the sunlight like Black Coral, fish with big eyes adapted to the dark, lobster and sometimes sharks who like caverns.
We posed for photos and then shot out a small opening to the sunshine and hunted for interesting life in the lava cracks. A viper moray was a great find, and my favorite little fish, The Box Fish!. Once back on the boat, were glad we were happy to have been in Mike's group to buy the pictures from him. Bragging rights are everything!
Box Fish (my favorite)
Back on dry land and after lunch at Lynn's (garden asparagus, brie cheese, crackers, papaya, teriyaki chicken skewers) and a two hour nap, we put on eyeliner and lipstick, donned sundresses and drove in to Lahaina. Front Street art galleries and T-shirt shops, good conversation and memories of living here back in the day later, we landed at Kimo's Restaurant and scored a great table overlooking the ocean. Surrounded by tiki torches and outrigger canoes hung from the rafters, we ordered dinner while a cruise ship pulled out of Lahaina, it's fairy-like lights twinkling as it crossed our view of the sunset. Dinner was delicious- beet and blue salad, parmesan crusted Ono with wild rice and Machong drenched in lemon butter. Two glasses of chardonnay later, we wandered along Front Street to our car and came home to more Trump drama on the TV on CNN.
Today we fly home, leaving our friend and our island of sunshine and ocean for the cold January weather of Seattle. Is it any wonder they call this place Paradise?
Kim and Eliza at The Cathedrals
the boat ride

Monday, January 16, 2017

Day 5 on Maui!

Today we got out early and drove north to Honolua Bay to get a parking spot before we couldn't.

By 10 AM we were walking down the road with jungly growth on both sides, forded the clear water stream and came out to a spot where an older Hawaiian man was sweeping and raking. Jimmy's family apparently owns the land surrounding the bay (all beaches are legally obligated to have public access) and he welcomed everyone nicely, telling them it was his land. I talked story for 20 minutes with Jimmy then Eliza and I got in the water and headed to the north side of the bay away from the stream runoff. The coral looked healthy and prolific and turtles munched on stuff between coral heads. When hundreds of small silver fish rushed by us, I said to Eliza that something big was chasing them and we waited to see what it could be. I was slightly relieved to see it wasn't a shark but 3 large ulua that appeared to coral the fish to feed and terrorize.
Eliza saw an eel out of the coral and soon we were back at the car warming up in the hot sun. i showed her the site called Hobbit Land where Hank parked his truck the day he never returned from surfing, in The Dream Jumper's Promise. Stopping for Mexican food at Maui Tacos, we paid for 3 enormous takeout tubs and had lunch on Lynn's patio within the hour.
The afternoon plan involved me driving upcountry to Kula to see my friends Bob and Neida Bangerter. With Neida's work at Maui Arts and Cultural Center, this was the only day to see my old friends from the band I used to sing with doing Maui convention shows.
Great visit, wonderful scones baked by the amazing Neida, along with fresh lemon curd and tea, and catching up on family stories was like having a good hug on a bad day. Not that it was a bad day at all, but old friends are amazingly special to hang onto.
Two hours later I was back in the car, joining the line of vehicles heading to Lahaina at sunset time. When I finally reached Lynn's house, in Kahana, I was tired and feeling like a night with feet up on the coffee table was a great idea. And that is what Eliza, Spencer and I did while Lynn went to work to sling Mai Tais at KBH.
The inauguration of Donald Trump is all anyone can talk about these days. Us too. Even the dog had to leave the room at one point.