Spotlight: Deadly Alliance by Kathleen Rowland

Check out this romantic suspense novel by fellow Tirgearr author Kathleen Rowland!

deadly_alliance_by_kathleen_rowland-200Finbar Donahue, former Army Ranger, walked on the wild side in Iraq, but now he lives in the shadows. After his evasive partner, Les, was shot in a random drive-by, Finn discovers cash is siphoned monthly. He fights to keep his investment company afloat. When the late partner’s girlfriend, Amy Kintyre, applies for his bookkeeping job, Finn suspects she knows about his company drain and hires her.

Amy needs a nine-to-five with free evenings and weekends to get her fashion design business back on track. She unearths Les’ s secret bank account and alerts Finn. Freezing of the money laundering account sets off havoc within an Irish gang. Amy witnesses a gang fight between a brutal ISIS fundraising organization and the Irish. Desperate to escape a stalker’s crosshairs, she seeks refuge with Finn. As danger heats up, sparks fly hotter.

 


Chapter One

“You know I love your sportswear designs, right?”

“I’m glad you do.” Amy Kintyre sat opposite a buyer, none other than Kira Radner, at a coffee shop in Lake Arrowhead, California. This sudden opportunity to re-launch her sportswear designs gave rise to the jitters, and Amy clutched her hands under the table.

Kira pressed her face forward, Amy’s sketches drawn on figures in action poses. With the portfolio spread between them, she flipped it sideways to examine the fabric swatches stapled along the sidebar. Their earthy tones blended with the marred wooden table.

Amy stilled the chatty urge.

“You know your presentation is in two weeks.” Kira was giving her the green light with Recreational Sportswear, Incorporated.

“I appreciate this, Kira.” To get her business back on track, she needed blocks of time to sew mockups. Amy inhaled the spicy aroma of the raw cedar wood. The under-construction décor of wide, timber planks on the walls made her think of her new self. Crazy how thirty felt like seventeen when embracing life and freeing her artistic side.

“Then I beg you,” Kira said, “please, please, please have your product samples ready. Deadline is the first Monday of November.”

“Got it.” Fear over the tight time frame tasted sour in her throat, but this break called like no other.

Kira leaned forward. “Impressive functionality with the shorts. Who would have thought this pocket holds a Swiss Army Knife!” The buyer’s fingertips traced the pick-stitch hem, made with thread matching the fabric, appearing invisible. “Nice detail.”

Amy’s only mock-up kept their face-to-face meeting running like the hum of the fluorescent lights above.

“Oooo,” Kira said and raised both her eyebrows. “Classic nostalgia with a twist. A pocket knife for hikers!”

“Useful, I think.” The bright light flickered over associates who’d worked together in the past, but Amy didn’t share the difficulty of making the deadline. Her breathing shortened, and panic carved a hole in her chest.

“Gotta bounce,” Kira said. “Get to work.”

“I will.” She pulled out a notebook and jotted down a to-do list ending with the file with various size patterns. After a half-hour of regrouping and rethinking, she stopped tapping her pen. Kira Radner took a chance on her, but to turn this chance into a reality, she needed evenings and weekends to make the deadline.

Last Sunday while pouring over Craigslist classifieds, she’d zeroed in on Finbar Donahue’s bookkeeping ad. After her inquiry, his head accountant sent her a message. She still favored the toe she stubbed after her in-box pinged.

Thanks to what happened, the call from Kira, she needed Finn’s job. Her mind raced to her third interview for his nine-to-five. Tomorrow morning, if all went well, she’d land the regular-hours job, tailor made for her time frame. She ran a hand through her hair, picturing the arrogant know-it-all with a never-ending string of women hanging on his arm.

Handsome wasn’t the word to describe Finn, her late, ex-boyfriend’s partner. She’d been around Finbar Donahue enough to know he looked at his world as if he were the Almighty himself. The former Army Ranger made her way too nervous. She tensed up to such an extent, her voice broke.

Romance wasn’t part of this equation. Her dream to launch herself, stitch by stitch, came down to landing the job. On a mission, her goal was simple. She closed her eyes and prayed tomorrow she’d nail it.


Buy It: www.tirpub.com/DeadlyAlliance

[ File # csp7850808, License # 1386192 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / Elenathewise
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Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php)
(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / Elenathewise
How about romantic travel to Lake Arrowhead, California, where Deadly Alliance takes place? Fall colors mix with evergreens around this pristine mountain lake. Bring a picnic basket and rent a pontoon!

Book Buyers Best finalist Kathleen Rowland is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with a sizzling love story sure to melt their hearts. Lily’s Pad and the Intervenus Series: A Brand New Address and Betrayal at Crater’s Edge are sweet. Deadly Alliance and her work-in-progress, Unholy Alliance, are contracted with Tirgearr Publishing and written for adults.

Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels. She grew up in Iowa where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji. Now she wears flip-flops and sails with her husband, Gerry, on Newport Harbor but wishes there were lightning bugs in California.

Kathleen exists happily with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside retreat in Southern California where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors. While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write. If you’d enjoy news, sign up for Kathleen’s newsletter at http://www.kathleenrowland.com/

Find Kathleen online at these sites as well:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/786656.Kathleen_Rowland
http://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Rowland/e/B007RYMF7S/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1450835163&sr=1-2-ent
https://twitter.com/rowlandkathleen
https://kathleenrowland.wordpress.com/
http://www.kathleenrowland.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/kathleen.rowland.50

Bookshelf 1:1

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Today I’m going to start a new feature on this blog that will go through my office bookshelves one by one. I have four bookcases in my office. Three of them have 5 shelves each and another is more a cabinet with some stuff crammed in it, so I’ll do that one last.

Today we’re doing Bookcase 1, Shelf 1 (hence the 1:1). Here is what I have on that shelf:

fullsizerender-7City of Masks by Daniel Hecht
Land of Echoes by Daniel Hecht
Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
One Day by David Nicholls
In the Woods by Tana French
The Likeness by Tana French
Ruined by Paula Morris
The Raising by Laura Kasichke
Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger (signed)
Death: At Death’s Door by Jill Thompson
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Truth About Stone Hollow by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Seventh Princess by Nick Sullivan
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Anthology of Children’s Literature (3rd Ed.)

I know some of you are gnashing your teeth and wondering where the other Rick Riordan and Harry Potter books are. Well, most have been appropriated by my 10-year-old son. I let him have the paperbacks. I should probably just forfeit these hardbacks as well and make room on the shelf for the rest of the Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad) and Ben Aaronovitch (Peter Grant series) books. I do own all the Tana French in hardback; they’re stacked on various other of my shelves. I have the first Ben Aaronovitch books on my Kindle but hope to get hard copies one day. A book has to be pretty special these days for me to want to own a physical copy, but the Peter Grant books definitely make the cut.

Then again, I’m not sure why Ruined and The Raising are on this shelf. Not that I didn’t enjoy them; I’m just not sure how they earned pride-of-place in my limited space.

I’ll admit something else. I loved City of Masks but never did read Land of Echoes. I received In the Woods from a publicity firm and loved it, so they sent me The Likeness too, and I’ve been hooked on Tana French ever since. Interred with Their Bones was a Christmas gift, and a librarian friend who is also godmother to my daughter gave me the Anthology of Children’s Literature. And Zilpha Keatley Snyder was a cornerstone of my childhood; I’d still love to get a copy of The Velvet Room. The Seventh Princess was a book I bought at a school book fair when I was very young; it’s falling apart because I read it so often, and now I’ve also read it to my own daughter.

You can see from the photo that my bookshelves also are home to my various collectibles. That blue painted glass is actually an heirloom, one of the few things to survive my great-grandmother’s family’s move from Europe. There used to be two—matching—but my Aunt Toni broke one. The glass is hand painted and more than 100 years old. God help me if we have a big quake…

100 Books

In the wake of David Bowie’s passing, an article about his favorite books began to circulate, and I thought to myself, Could I list 100 favorite books? Well, I tried. The list below is alphabetical, and the criteria was as follows: These were all books that (a) I have read repeatedly, or (b) made an indelible impression on me, often to the point that I think of them regularly, passages from them springing to mind at various moments. And for many of the books here both a and b are true.

You’ll notice some authors turn up on the list again and again while others only have one or two works here. For example, I love all Jane Austen’s novels, but I only listed the ones I think of most often. And I’ve read almost everything by Stephen King, but the two on this list are the only ones by him I’ve read more than once. (I may yet add Bag of Bones and Duma Key to that short list, though, because those two are amazing as well.) In many cases, one work by an author stands largely for entire series, as in the case of Diana Wynne Jones’ Charmed Life.

It’s an odd mix, to be sure. As much of the list is juvenile fiction as adult. Maybe this is because I was more impressionable when I was younger. In a sense the YA fiction on this list fashioned who I am today.

Even still, I found it difficult to come to 100 books. I was stretching towards the end. I’ve read thousands of books, many very good ones, but I find that there are few I consider “favorites.” Very few that I go back to, or that leave a mark on my soul.

You’ll see some poetry here, too, but no plays (excepting Shakespeare). I love theatre, but I feel like that’s a whole other list entirely. I also didn’t get into short stories, the one exception being an essay by James Thurber. I do love Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and I love a lot of Poe (his poetry made this list), but again, it’s just too hard to begin sifting through that stuff.

I did allow for two favorite manga series and one graphic novel, as they all met the criteria above.

What you won’t find: Russian literature or Dickens. I don’t care for either. You also won’t, surprisingly enough, find Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I do re-read his Sherlock Holmes stories fairly regularly, but I couldn’t choose any one collection, so I didn’t choose any. I figure they fall under the short story moratorium anyway.

Each book on this list has some story (har) behind it for me, some special meaning, but to tell them all would take ages. Maybe some other day, on some other post. For now, the list:

Title Author
Amanda’s Choice Isabelle Holland
Anne of Green Gables L. M. Montgomery
August, Die She Must Barbara Corcoran
Band of Angels, A Julian F. Thompson
Blubber Judy Blume
Briar King, The Greg Keyes
Cadbury’s Coffin Glendon Swarthout
Captive Queen Alison Weir
Card Captor Sakura CLAMP
Cemetery Nights Stephen Dobyns
Changeling, The Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Charmed Life Diana Wynne Jones
Collected Poems Edgar Allan Poe
Collected Poems Robert Frost
Dead Zone, The Stephen King
Death on the Nile Agatha Christie
Density of Souls, A Christopher Rice
Dune Frank Herbert
Egypt Game, The Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Epiplectic Bicycle, The Edward Gorey
Exit, Sherlock Holmes Robert Lee Hall
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
Good Omens Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Great Gatsby, The F. Scott Fitzgerald
Gum Thief, The Douglas Coupland
Hamlet William Shakespeare
Haunting of Hill House, The Shirley Jackson
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Douglas Adams
Hobbit, The J. R. R. Tolkien
House at Riverton, The Kate Morton
House of Dies Drear, The Virginia Hamilton
How to Name a Dog James Thurber
Illustrated Man, The Ray Bradbury
In the Woods Tana French
India Fan, The Victoria Holt
Instruments of Darkness Imogen Robertson
Interview with the Vampire Anne Rice
Into the Wild Jon Krakauer
Juliet, Naked Nick Hornby
Jurassic Park Michael Crichton
King and Goddess Judith Tarr
Lassie Come Home Eric Knight
Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Libby on Wednesday Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Lightning Dean Koontz
Little Princess, A Frances Hodgson Burnett
Lovely Bones, The Alice Sebold
Mansfield Park Jane Austen
Memoirs of Cleopatra, The Margaret George
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil John Berendt
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore Robin Sloan
Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro
New Kid on the Block, The Jack Prelutsky
Odyssey, The Homer
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats T.S. Eliot
Once and Future King, The T. H. White
One Day David Nicholls
Other Boleyn Girl, The Philippa Gregory
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great Judy Blume
Persuasion Jane Austen
Practical Magic Alice Hoffman
Prestige, The Christopher Priest
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Pride of the Peacock Victoria Holt
Rebecca Daphne du Maurier
Rivers of London Ben Aaronovitch
Salem’s Lot Stephen King
Secret Garden, The Frances Hodgson Burnett
Secret History, The Donna Tartt
Secret of Gumbo Grove, The Eleanora Tate
Separate Peace, A John Knowles
Seven-Per-Cent Solution, The Nicholas Meyer
Seventh Princess Nick Sullivan
Slapstick Kurt Vonnegut
Superfudge Judy Blume
Supernatural Enhancements, The Edgar Cantero
Talented Mr. Ripley, The Patricia Highsmith
Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing Judy Blume
Talisman of Set, The Sara Hylton
Textual Poaching Henry Jenkins
The Last Sherlock Holmes Story Michael Dibdin
Thorn Birds, The Colleen McCullough
Throne of Isis, The Judith Tarr
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
Tokyo Babylon CLAMP
Trouble with Tuck, The Theodore Taylor
Truth About Stone Hollow, The Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Turn of the Screw, The Henry James
Twelfth Night William Shakespeare
Twelve Caesars, The Seutonius
Twilight Eyes Dean Koontz
Velvet Room, The Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Watchers Dean Koontz
Watchmen Alan Moore
Watership Down Richard Adams
What Do You Hear from Walden Pond? Jack Douglas
Where the Red Fern Grows Wilson Rawls
Where the Sidewalk Ends Shel Silverstein
Writer’s Journey, The Christopher Vogler

30-Day Writing Challenge: Day 8

8. A book you love and one you didn’t

I love Watership Down. I mean, I love a lot of books, but when someone asks me to name a book I love, Watership Down is usually the first to spring to mind. I love it enough that I’ve dropped mentions of it into my own writing fairly regularly.

I read Watership Down in sixth grade, and the kids in my very small private school asked me what it was about. So I spent a recess sitting on top of a picnic table telling the story. Pretty soon I’d earned the nickname “Hazel” (sometimes even “Hazel-Rah”), and my friends had all adopted other names from the novel. Games of Watership Down ensued. The boys in our class were, of course, the Efrafans. They would raid our warren, we’d fight back, on and on. Good times.

A book I didn’t love? There are probably as many or more of those than ones I do, but nothing immediately comes to mind. I actually have to think about it. That’s probably a good thing—they’ve shown that it’s healthier to focus on the good than the bad, so when I don’t immediately have a negative response, it means I’m more focused on the good. I’m looking around my office, but naturally I’ve surrounded myself with books I enjoy, so . . . I’ll have to think back to school days. Ah! Les Misérables. Oh my God, I hated that book. We had to read the unabridged version in ninth grade and I thought I would die. I’m also not a huge fan of Dickens. We read Great Expectations around the same time and . . . I thought I would die. Seriously. Ugh. Though I do wonder if I’d like Dickens more now, if maybe I’d better appreciate his work or something. Still, there are too many other things I’d rather read, or re-read (Austen!), that I probably won’t ever bother to pick up Dickens again.

Go Set a Watchman

I can’t decide if I want to read it.

I remember liking To Kill a Mockingbird, though it’s been years since I’ve read the book or watched the movie. I’d probably at least want to read the book again before reading the sequel. And then, if I really like To Kill a Mockingbird as much as I remember liking it . . . Maybe I won’t want to read the sequel?

For example, I love Gone with the Wind (book and film). So I refuse to read Scarlett. Though that is a bit of a different issue since Margaret Mitchell didn’t write Scarlett. Still, even if she had . . . Would I have read it? I honestly don’t know.

It’s a conundrum.

Sometimes things are so good they should just be left alone, I think. It’s the same old problem with stuff like the first series of Sherlock and the first season of True Detective—so amazing that nothing else can hope to live up, and so it’s all downhill from there. Trying to re-achieve, recapture that lightning in a bottle, is somewhat foolhardy. And yet people will watch and read it anyway. People always want more, and this is a system designed to sell it to them whether it’s any good or not.

Ah, but I’m getting off topic. Will I read Go Set a Watchman? I don’t know. I have a massive stack of things to read already. Never mind all my writing projects too. I might someday get around to it, but I’m not making any hasty decisions. One day, when the mood strikes . . . If it ever does . . . That’s the best time to pick up a book, you know. Right in that moment when it occurs to you to read it. It’s sort of like a tuning fork ringing through you, or a deep, tolling bell sounding. Horary readings, so to speak. As if your subconscious knows what you need to read and when—the exact right moment for you to receive that message.

“When Did You First Know You Were a Woman?”

Cross posted from spooklights.

I’m reading Bossypants by Tina Fey and really missing 30 Rock (though Parks and Recreation is good, too), and this question comes up when she talks about writing Mean Girls. And it seems like a lot of the answers to the question have to do with catcalls and men shouting at women, but I don’t have any vivid memory of that ever happening. Maybe no one has ever catcalled at me? Or, just as likely, I wasn’t paying attention and/or assumed they were shouting at someone else.

So when I thought about this question, I really had to cast my mind back, and the summer of 1989 sprang up almost immediately. I was 13 and in love with Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever and Don Henley’s The End of the Innocence. Seems very apropos in retrospect.

Two years before, we’d moved from Georgetown to Lewisville [Texas]. But two of my best friends were still in Georgetown, and I got permission to spend a month down there—two weeks at Emily’s, two weeks at Tara’s. We went and saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade over and over again, making ourselves sick on hot dogs and Nerds and oversized dill pickles.

Now, Emily is the same age as me, but she was always the more mature one, interested in boys long before I was. But Tara, who is like a sister to me, is four years younger. She and I lived right next door to one another and spent every possible minute together. I was as comfortable in her house as I was my own, and her little brother, when asked who I was, would often answer, “That’s just Mandy. She’s like my other sister.”

This is important because of what happened. I was staying with Tara and her family, and though I was 13 and physically mature, Tara (who was 9) and I were still playing silly kid games. We would play Indiana Jones, and I would be Indy and have to rescue her and so on. We had a game in which the entire goal was to avoid being kissed by the evil Fish Lips. Kid stuff. I was brilliant but a late bloomer in the socio-emotional sense. (Not uncommon for Asperger’s, I believe.)

Tara’s dad had a friend who would come over. His name was Mike. I didn’t think much of it, but after a while I became aware Mike looked at me a lot, in a way that made me uncomfortable, though I wasn’t sure why. Then Mike quit coming to visit. And I found out later Tara’s dad had given him a thrashing because of some things Mike had said about me. Inappropriate things. And Tara’s dad had reacted as any man might if someone had said those things about his daughter. So good for him, and I’m grateful for it.

Not long after, my dad’s friend Jim came to visit us up in Lewisville. I’d known Jim since I was itty bitty and thought nothing of sitting on his lap, same as I always had. But one day my mom took me aside and told me I couldn’t sit on Jim’s lap any more. She didn’t elaborate, and it took some mulling on my part to understand why.

Putting two and two together, I began to realize I had become interesting to men. That the bodily changes I took for granted were drawing attention. And for reasons I’d rather not go into, I thought this was the worst thing in the world.

I attacked the problem in a variety of ways. 1. I started wearing my dad’s t-shirts. They were huge on me and covered everything up. I also started wearing men’s hiking boots for some reason; I’m not sure what that was about. 2. I grew a curtain of hair to hide behind. 3. I quit eating. And no one could tell because I became skilled at pushing things around on my plate to make it look like I had eaten, and I had huge clothes on anyway.

Basically, I was trying to disappear in every way possible.

I didn’t know that at the time, of course, but looking back it’s pretty clear.

So, yeah, that’s when I knew I was a woman. And I fought it for as long as I could. Which is probably why I didn’t date much in high school. (I had two boyfriends, both very safe church boys.) At some point, I gave in. Cute dresses could no longer be foresworn or something.

Oh, but Tina Fey does also mention buying a white denim suit, and it reminded me of something similar in my life. I was at the mall with a couple friends, and I found a white v-neck sweater at . . . I dunno, Lerner New York & Co, I think it was. It was displayed with all these brightly colored turtlenecks, and my friend Christopher said, “Amanda, you have to buy it. That would look great on you.” And flattered that Christopher could be bothered to even think about what might look great on me . . . And also mollified by the fact the sweater was massive and would cover all the things . . . I bought it and a cobalt blue turtle neck. And I wore them as often as Texas weather allowed.

Seven Deadly Sins

Which I grabbed off M.J. Fifield’s blog. I’m supposed to be writing, but . . .

Greed
What’s your most expensive book?

I feel like I should have a handy answer to this, and my guess is it’s one of these Sherlock Holmes books, or maybe one of my various special editions, but I really have no idea.

Your most inexpensive?

Cheap paperbacks from Half Price Books and free e-books.

Wrath
With which author do you have a love/hate relationship?

I’m not sure what is meant by this question. I loved the first few books of Herbert’s Dune series but couldn’t get through them all because it sort of went off the rails. Is that what is meant? I love much of Stephen King’s work, but not all of it. No one can really be expected to love everything by an author, though, can they? I really abhor the kinds of fans that lack discernment and the ability to say, “No, I love you and your work, but this is shite.” Maybe I have a love/hate with Koontz and Crichton. There was a while there (around 5th grade or so) when I devoured all their books like candy, but looking back I realize it was all empty calories.

Gluttony

Speaking of devouring . . .

What book have you devoured over and over again without shame?

I’ve read Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and Pandora and Merrick several times over, even though there were other, newer books I knew I could have been reading. I’ve also re-read many a Victoria Holt novel. Du Maurier’s Rebecca. Watership Down. And pretty much anything by Shakespeare. Conan Doyle. Also, I re-read favorite childhood books fairly often.

Sloth

Which book have you neglected reading out of laziness?

There are many books friends have said they were required to read in school that I somehow managed to sidestep. (But then again, I was in a special program, so our curriculum was quite different.) I’ve never read any Ernest Hemingway . . . And I seem unlikely to do so. I haven’t read Lord of the Flies. I also haven’t read most popular fiction (Hunger Games, Fifty Shades, etc.).

Pride

What books do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

If I do this, I am unaware of it. I simply talk about books I like, or don’t like. And because I have a degree in media studies, and another in literature, I feel capable of talking about pretty much anything intellectually. But I don’t aim to “sound intellectual.” I aim to have a good and interesting conversation. There, my friends, is my pride.

Lust

What attributes do you find attractive in a male or female character?

Ha! I write the men I find attractive: tall and slim, with messy hair and green or blue eyes. (I think some part of me never got over Nicholas Rowe in Young Sherlock Holmes.) For women, if I must, a petite redhead with a fun personality. Which is to say, a better version of me.

Envy

What book would you most like to receive for a gift?

How is this envy? Because someone else has the book and I don’t? Um, well, I’d like a folio of Shakespeare. And I’m always up for difficult-to-find Sherlock Holmes books. I’ve got some other, easier to locate books on my Amazon wish list, too. And a birthday coming up . . .

No, I’m not tagging anyone. If you want to do this, feel free to lift and carry to your own blog or site.

The Chinese Restaurant

Literary agent Melissa Flashman was tweeting yesterday evening:

You may wonder what this has to do with books, but it’s all about meeting expectations in a way that sets you apart from the competition.

San Francisco (the Bay Area, as mentioned in the tweet) has a large Asian population and a well-known Chinatown. So why is it so challenging to be a Chinese restaurant there? Well, for one, the market is saturated. There are a lot of Chinese (and Thai, and Vietnamese, etc.) restaurants in San Francisco, each one offering its version of General Tso’s (or Gao’s, or however that particular restaurant decides to spell it). When there’s a lot of something—more supply than demand—how do you set yourself apart?

The second challenge is that people will already have their favorite places to eat. So these restaurants have to find ways to tempt the clientele away from their usual hangouts.

And then once they’re in the door, how do these restaurants meet the diners’ expectations? By providing what’s familiar—there’s that General Tso’s—while still somehow making it unique enough to set it apart from all the other saucy, spicy fried chicken dishes out there.

The same goes for almost anything you might market, but let’s look at books in particular. You’ve written a paranormal romance. There’s gobs of paranormal romance out there already. How will people find your book? What will make them pick it up instead of whatever is shelved next to it in the same category? And if they already like Patricia Briggs, what can you do to get them to pick up your book instead of hers (or at least after hers)? [A: Get Briggs to blurb your book, if possible, but other than that . . .]

I’m not going to say I have answers to these questions because the answers will vary by book and genre. One can’t market to individuals because everyone is different. The best one can hope to do is get a wide swath of readers with your campaign. And by thinking like a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco:

1. Make yourself attractive and inviting so that the reader chooses you out of the pile of options
2. Provide what the reader craves: something familiar BUT . . .
3. Make sure you’re giving him something unique enough, too, that he comes back for more AND recommends you to friends

It sounds easier than it is. Restaurants are notorious for opening and then folding relatively quickly because if they don’t make it in the first few weeks or months, they never will. Books have a longer, ahem, shelf life and more chances to find that readership, but with more books coming out every day, it’s increasingly difficult to rise to the top of the pile. Of course, writing a really good book helps. But every writer thinks they’ve written a really good book, or at least hopes so. And with so much noise out there, it can be hard to hear/find even the best stuff. So if you’re a writer, you’re really hoping that readers not only discover you but also share that discovery. Word of mouth, good online reviews—this is the stuff that makes or breaks restaurants. And writers.