M.K. Sandoval, author of Cat House: Adventures of a Real Estate Madam (Sep 9-20)
Gruppen har arkiverats (= inaktiverats). Här finns mer information.
Bara medlemmar i LibraryThing kan skriva.
I look forward to talking with you about it.
In the meantime, here's a link to the Amazon description of Cat House: Adventures of a Real Estate Madam.
One night I watched a TV special about a women who was on the talk show circuit promoting a book she had written about her recent (very short) stint in a country club jail after being arrested as a call girl madam. I began to joke that I was going to start a call girl business for other broke real estate agents knowing that sex would sell better than houses. My business model would be to only solicit rich old men who are blind so the "girls" wouldn't have to worry about what they look like naked and the john probably couldn't have sex anyway! I would probably get away with it for 3-5 years before getting caught, and by then, I'd be ready for a short vacation in a country club jail. I would then write a book while I was there, which would be optioned for a made-for-TV movie, and I would retire a millionaire. It was a brilliant plan . . . although it was illegal.
During a discussion with an acquaintance who happened to be a published author, I explained my new business plan for surviving the recession and he challenged me to do it - to write the book not run the business.
I knew nothing about writing a book so I read 100 books about how to write a book and decided I could do it! That was three years ago. Now people are enjoying my story all over the country! No matter what profession or industry people work in, we all struggled through the recession (many still are) and I'm so happy to be doing my small part of making their lives a little less stressful by giving them something to laugh about at the end of a tough day.
I think it's funny, but then I wrote it! I've read it, and reread it ten times and I still laugh! In addition to the comedy, there's mystery--the protagonist is trying to discover who's out to sabotage her new business, there's suspense--will she succeed before she get's busted, and there's a potential murder--at one point I describe a hairy dead body found handcuffed to a bed in a sleazy motel room.
Even though the story evolves around a risqué story, the story is not risqué. It's PG-13 . . . maybe an R . . . but certainly NOT Fifty Shades of Grey! I wanted my mother and daughters to read it without being embarrassed.
I hope readers will have as much reading it as I did writing it!!
When I first started reading it, my first thought was: Was the real estate market as bad as all that, so bad that it'd turn an apparently law-abiding real estate pro into a madam? It sounds like it was.
I liked the humor in it. I read quite a large number of "cozy" mystery series and wondered whether you'd manage to, as you say, write a story that "evolves around a risqué story" but yet is not risque. I think you definitely managed to do that.
All kidding aside, the short answer is still "Yes, it was that bad." I watched another news program story recently about a mortgage broker who eventually got caught robbing banks as a way to continue to support his family in the lifestyle to which they had become accustomed! He's now doing 20 years, 15 with good behavior, and has lost his wife and family. There are many other true life examples of desperate people doing desperate things.
One of these days, I'm going to Netflix the Breaking Bad series as I'm told that's exactly the premise of that very popular show. The main character is a good guy gone bad but yet the viewers love him because they understand his motivation. That's what I tried to achieve with Niki.
I think a lot of us book lovers think about writing something of our own one day. What advice do you have for non-writers who dream about writing a book?
Thanks for visiting with us. I haven't had a chance to read your book yet, but the premise sounds like something I'd really enjoy. I notice that you chose to self-publish through iUniverse. Did you consider the traditional publishing route? If not, what factors led to your decision about publishing? What has this experience been like?
I don't want to give any plot away but it seems to me that the second book might be somewhat different though I'm looking forward to it. We can't have too many series, can we? I think I'm up to about 92 series, though, over the weekend, I dramatically tossed one aside from a well-known author and said "never again" after about 25 pages.
Any estimate on when the second book might be published?
I, too, would love to hear about your publishing-related experiences as a first-time author, Marsha. As Sandy said, a lot of people have ideas percolating but you acted on your idea and carried on with it.
I knew when I wrote book #1 that I intended to write (hopefully several) more in the Niki Brooks series so I left something open at the end of #1. To be honest, however, I'm 10,000 words into book #2 and I'm still not sure where it's going to go. That's the fun of writing!! It's a mystery for me too until I get there!
I wrote #1 by the "pantser" method, meaning I wrote by the seat of my pants. Since it was my first experience at writing, I didn't really know what I was doing. I just wrote scenes as I got ideas and then wove them all together . . . somehow. There's a character in #1 that is a mystery man until the end of the book. But as I was writing, he appeared in four or five scenes before I even decided who he was going to be!! I love it once I have an epiphany and know exactly what I'm going to do . . . but that doesn't always happen quickly :)
Now working on book #2, I have a little experience and know that for me, it would be easier to try to outline my ideas a little bit more. So this time, I writing a more linear story. I'm on Chapter 6 but have now hit a wall about where I want to go next. As with book #1, I know the beginning and the end but the middle is a complete mystery!
They say most writers "write what they know" and I'm no different. Anyone that knows me recognizes many of my personality traits, and familial status in Niki :) What can I say? It's easier to write about what we know. I'm now involved in a few mystery writing groups - more on my recommendations on that later - but it's interesting to me to learn that the attorney writer's protagonist is an attorney PI, or the school teacher writer's heroine is a school teacher, etc., etc. We all relate to what we know. With that being said, Niki is a broke real estate agent because that's what I was. I have worked in RE my entire adult life but had never experienced times so scary as the Great Recession. First joking about my survival, and then writing about it, was a great diversion to get me through it! Plus, my 22 year old daughter was going through heart problems at the time and writing helped me have a happy place to go whenever I could. I think that's why I write comedies. It helps me get through the messiness of life :) BTW, my daughter had open heart surgery in February and is doing really well!
I knew nothing about writing a novel. I've always considered myself to be a creative person (I love to decorate, scrapbook, and writing used to be in my journals only). I also love a challenge and learning something new. I was 51 when I started on the first book but I figured I was going to get older every day anyway so why not be getting older while learning to write a novel? I started by scouring every thrift store in town for books on how to write a book. That's another of my hobbies so I knew the location of them all. Every time I was within a two-five minute drive from one, I would stop by and check out their books. I found some GREAT books too! I love the thrill of the hunt so that part of my new writing career was and still is as exciting to me as the writing.
I'm also an avid reader. I love cozy mysteries and self-help books. I typically have 5-7 different books going at any time. I carry one in my handbag and then whatever room in the house I happen to be in, is the book I read at that time. For my book, I read everything I could find (I even invested in some new books of course) and then wrote my own book following anything that made sense to me. I think the finished product turned out pretty darn well . . . but of course I'm a bit biased.
Now let me talk about my choice to self-publish. I never even considered the traditional route - at least not this first time up to bat. At 51, I figured I was too old to spend the next 10-15 years getting "thanks but no thanks" letters. I have a local acquaintance who owns a publishing company but I never even sent her my manuscript. I also had no interest in selling the rights to my story. I'm a bit of a control freak so I wanted to control this first project myself. I went to the internet and searched for self-publishing information and was inundated with information! I eventually decided I could - but didn't want to - do everything myself so I chose to go the "supported self-publishing" route. I chose to pay a fee to a company to help me through the maze and to make sure that my finished project would LOOK traditionally published even though it isn't. I've seen some self-published books that look like it. No offense, but I think a certain professional image is important no matter what.
While I was doing my homework on traditional vs. self publishing, I read about two new authors that have found great success writing and selling their books on Amazon as e-books only! I also met a local author here in Phoenix that does the same thing. As I continue through this wonderful new world of writing, I continue to do homework on the pros/cons of traditional publishing and I've found that there's nothing yet that has convinced me I HAVE to go the traditional publishing route in order to become a successful author! In fact, here's an excerpt from an email I just got this morning from a new (very successful) author friend (she's not a new author, she's a new friend) who has had several books published by one of the big houses . . . now you can determine for yourself which way might be best for you.
I asked her if she found an agent first to help her contact the publishers or if she tried to go directly to the publishing houses. I also asked if they helped her find the authors to review her books for her cover blurbs. Here's her reply:
Let's see: I found an agent first. As to the authors who blurbed my books: my publisher found them for the first book, then I networked and found others along the way. I do go to writing conferences not only to engage readers but to meet other writers--they are always fabulous fun.
The key thing for you is that you put out a book that is up to commercial level (the writing), that is professionally packaged, professionally edited (content edit and copy/line edit). This is really hard work despite what E. L James' "books" might lead you to believe. Rushing a book to publication is a HUGE mistake. Traditional publishers are providing less and less, especially to new authors. The big houses are limiting their lists to bestsellers more and more. I'd be wary of that route.
And Linda, I hope to have book #2 drafted by February, 2014 and ready for market by May, 2013. I found that if I set deadlines for myself, I usually meet them :) Since I've now made those deadlines public, I better get husslin'!!
Do you ever attend mystery conferences, such as Malice Domestic or Left Coast Crime? As a reader, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting authors at those kinds of events, especially Malice, the main cozy conference. Here in Chicagoland, we've also got an annual mystery-related conference that's more writing oriented, called Love Is Murder (typically near Valentine's Day) and I suspect that there are many, many more of these than I'm aware of.
Last week, I mentioned your book to a long-time, though not LT, friend, who picked up a Kindle copy and immediately started reading it. Right away, she thought of her lifelong friend, a disgruntled realtor who she said would love it. (The friend's friend is going to give RE another year, she says.)
What, if any, response has there been from the real estate professionals community? I bet they can really relate to it. I would guess that the scenario at the beginning, where Niki does all that work and then the person backs out, is a pretty common occurrence.
That's where my question comes from...
You said you were writing your book at the time of your daughter's illness, and that it gave you a happy place to go. Did you ever feel that the writing was getting in the way or was your daughter's illness a partial motivation i.e. to entertain her?
I always wonder about family and friends when it comes to authors. Do they see themselves in any of the characters?
We're very proud of her and the way she handled the ordeal. She's my hero!!
#15, Now to talk about how I wrote a funny story while going through a scary reality . . . Because my days were filled with doctor's appointments and real estate deals (what few I had), I fell into a routine of writing in the evenings after dinner and dishes were done. I would start about 9-10pm and would still be at the computer some nights at 3 or 4am! That schedule never interfered with anything else in my life - except sleep!! My husband is also a night owl and would always stay up with me. He read the newspaper while I wrote :) Several nights I would be writing away only to hear him say . . . "It's nearly 4am, shouldn't we be going to bed soon?" A few nights we never slept at all. Those were my manic nights. It was great to go to my happy place, playing with my new imaginary friends every night to take my mind off what may have happened that day. I would then think about my book while trying to fall asleep instead of fretting about medical issues.
#14, Linda, the real estate community is having a ball with my book! I was a bit worried that some may take offense that I'm basically calling us all a bunch of prostitutes - but that's what we are. Most of us will prostitute ourselves to do just about anything we're asked - short of something illegal - just to get paid. We just don't have the luxury of collecting our money on the dresser up front! That last statement may be in my book somewhere :) For instance, I've cleaned client's pools, babysat their children, walked their dogs, and cleaned their houses! Other Realtors can definitely relate to what I've shared in the book. In fact, I just hired one reader as a new agent! She found my book through a mutual friend and we started chatting on FB. She said she took my book to her Broker and said, "Do you think this lady followed us for her material because this is exactly what we go through!" Two weeks later, I hired her! Most agents will not be surprised to read about Niki's experiences, because I can just about guarantee every one has been through something very similar :)
#16, There are only one or two people that could say they recognize themselves in my book. And of those few, they might notice a trait or two, but then I added in a whole bunch of other "stuff." Not to say my family/friends/acquaintances are boring, but fiction requires a bit more spice! Niki is probably most like me (except I don't lie and scheme nearly as much) and every other character is either totally fiction (Tall, Dark and Has Some, for instance) or based on just one or two traits of someone I know and/or love
I've had many family and friends say the book is written just like I speak. They say it's like I'm telling them the story in person.
I like humor, among other things, in mysteries and laughed every time you mentioned Tall, Dark, and Has Some.
As for the real estate professionals, one thing I liked in the book is that, despite what she's doing, Niki is a good, ethical person.
And I do love to read! As mentioned in an earlier post, I have about 5-7 books going at any time. I LOVE self-help books and have read lots and lots of them through the years as they relate to my real estate career but I also love mysteries. I used to read more "serious" mystery books - I think I've read every Lee Child book (BTW, I hated Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher), and I am a long time fan of John Grisham. I also enjoy Sue Grafton, Robert B. Parker, and Iris Johansen. I've recently met two bestselling authors - Gregg Hurwitz and Hank Phillipe Ryan - and am reading their latest published works. But cozy mysteries are my favorite. I enjoy Mary Kay Andrews and am currently reading Savannah Breeze and Savannah Blues (I think I was a Southern Belle in a previous life so I seem to gravitate to those type characters). I like quick, simple reads - perhaps because I don't have tons of spare time - so two of my favorites in that genre are Jill Churchill and Stephanie Bond. I recently stumbled upon a book by a fairly new author ("Wanna Get Lucky" was her first published book in 2009), Linda Coontz. Linda and I have been emailing and I hope to meet her when I'm in Vegas in January. She's shared a lot of great info with me (I included one of her emails to me yesterday in a post) so I've promised her a very large glass of wine when we meet!!
I was influenced mostly I guess by Janet Evanovich - who hasn't read some of her books?? I love her characters but don't always buy into her plot lines so some I like, some I skip. On one of my many hunts at Good Will, I found her book "How I Write, Secrets of a Bestselling Author." That book was really useful to me while I was writing my book. It was like having a private conversation with her about what she does and how she does it.
I enjoy discovering new authors too so any that any of you would like to recommend - send them my way!
Years ago, I met Churchill (I think her name is actually Janice) and asked her why she chose that pen name. She said that she thought Agatha Christie was the most popular mystery author ever and wanted to pick a name as close to Christie, alphabetically, so that when people browsed the mystery shelf at the bookstore for Christie novels, they might come across her books.
As I mentioned above, I think I'm reading about 92 series. I really ought to keep better track.
My favorite mystery writer, bar none, is Canadian author, Louise Penny, who writes the Three Pines series set in Quebec. I started these soon after she started the series and I think she's on the 9th book. A new Gamache Three Pines book is cause for celebration. I think the new one just debuted at #1. When I first started reading her, I'd pass my book along to a mystery fan friend. I think the 5 or 6 of them all count Penny as their favorite mystery author now, too.
I'm in awe of her writing ability and have fallen in love with her fictional town and its characters. When I start a book from Louise Penny, I do nothing else til I finish it. In fact, an LTer told me just now that I'd better plan to call in at work because I won't want to go, once I start her latest, How the Light Gets In. If you start reading Louise Penny, it's imperative to start at the beginning of the series (with Still Life) as she "does things" to her characters.
I met her at her book launch in 2012, which was only about 45 minutes away, and she is as gracious, funny, and likeable as I'd hoped.
Two other, more cozy favorites include Laura Childs, particularly her teashop series and her Cackleberry Club series, as well as Jessica Beck and her donut shop series. I'm just starting into her Classic Diner series and am enjoying those also.
Carolyn Hart is someone I think of as the "mother of the modern cozy" and I continue to enjoy her Annie Laurance Darling series.
As the biggest baseball fan you'll ever meet, I adored the Troy Soos historic baseball series featuring Mickey Rawlings. Sadly, I don't think he's writing those anymore.
It seemed to me that this book wasn't a traditional mystery but it had mystery elements, along with romance, suspense, chicklit etc.
When you started writing, did you intend to include all of these different kinds of elements? Or did you decide to add more as you went along?
Sounds like I'd enjoy this one, so I must go find me a copy
OK...just put it on my Kindle....and it's in the queue.
Thanks so much for your support of my book! I hope you'll enjoy it!!
As a reader myself, I skip long passages of description. I don't believe it takes two pages of writing to describe anything. A paragraph or two is all I'll read and I'm off and running. For particularly verbose writers, I'll eventually put the book down. I don't think anyone will be able to say that about my writing. I'm a woman of few words :) Well . . . just enough to keep things interesting.
I read through this thread last night, and immediately downloaded the Kindle version. I'm only a short way into it, and I'm enjoying it very much! I'm really looking forward to continuing Niki's story as soon as I get off LT.
To answer your question, I have two more book ideas in mind, but neither would be a series and neither would be a comedy, which I'm finding is much easier for me to write. Both stories are related to other real life issues but would be written as fiction. I'm struggling with them a bit so who knows when or if I'll ever get them done. They might be my long term projects.
In the meantime, I'm having so much fun creating Niki's new friends in Book #2, that I can definitely see me creating an entirely new series protagonist! Developing characters is my favorite part of writing so who knows where that fun may lead me!
#27, I appreciate your interest in my book, Ivy, and hope you laugh your puttootie off!!
If I read a series, I tend to love the characters and/or the setting. However, sometimes but not always, I get annoyed if the author sets the books too far afield. On the other hand, sending the characters to other locations sometimes works, as long as it doesn't happen too often. For instance, I was fine when Evanovich sent the characters to Vegas. However, if she moved them all out of NJ, I wouldn't be fine with it.
It reminds me of the old TV soap operas. We once spent three years overseas with no american TV. WHen we returned to the states, I turned on the TV, sat down to watch my favorite soap and didn't drop a stitch! Those kind of series will lose me quickly.
I also don't mind a change of venue. There has to be a valid reason to move the action, and there has to be a way to return the action "home" if the home scene has become a large part of the success of the series (e.g. Louise Penny's Three Pines books....I'll bet you'll find that the least popular of the series are those that take place away from Three P.)
However, if the author keeps the cozy action in the same town, new characters have to be introduced or else the whole town will have gotten bumped off, at some point.
In a series, I don't like when things stay too much the same. otoh, I always hate when really bad things happen to the recurring characters I love, which is my only gripe with what is probably my favorite series. A recurring character can be accused of murder, can be badly injured, or the like but things had better work out for them in the end.
Anyone else have any questions/comments?
Thanks to Marsha for so patiently answering all of our questions, and for me personally, for being so easy to work with on this.
Thanks to Ruth, Judy, Sandy, Tina, Cheli, and Ivy for stopping by to visit. Hope I haven't missed anyone else who visited.
A very special thank you to Linda for coordinating this effort :)
HAPPY READING EVERYONE!