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I’m heading off tomorrow to one of my favorite gigs – the San Diego edition of the Southern California Writers’ Conference.  I’m scheduled to conduct an in-depth presentation entitled: Writer Primer – Writer Responsibilities to the Reader and to lead several Read & Critique Workshops.  I’ll also meet privately for one-on-one Advance Submission sessions with aspiring writers whose work I’ve read and evaluated.  This conference, like many others, is devoted to the creative and business needs of aspiring writers.

Those of us who lead workshops are willing mentors to the next generation of writers.  I believe that the Directors of SCWC, Michael Stephen Gregory and Wes Albers, will forgive me if I reveal the fact that Workshop Leaders are not paid big bucks for sharing our experiences in the trenches of the writing/publishing world.

We participate at conferences, counsel students, and lead workshops for several reasons, among them a passion for our craft, the pleasure of finding the one or two or three golden nuggets of creative talent among the attendees, the chance to guide talented writers onto a path that will result in marketable books, and the opportunity to reconnect with our own peers in the writing community.  That last one probably doesn’t surprise you at all, since you realize that the life of the writer is a largely solitary one.

Given the length of my writing and editing career – 20 plus years – I’ve participated in countless writers’ conferences across the country.  I can accurately say that the two stand-outs for me are SCWC ( Southern California Writers’ Conference www.writersconference.com/ ) and SBWC ( Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference www.sbwritersconference.com/ ).  Both conferences allow me to share my experiences as a multi-published writer in both traditional print publishing and, more recently, in the digital publishing arena, as well as to utilize my skills as a veteran editor when critiquing student work.

And so, Readers, I want you to know that aspiring writers are in good hands as Workshop Leaders groom the next generation of writers – the same writers who are destined to entertain and delight you as they sweep you into the future, the distant past, or the here and now with their fiction, or inform you with their non-fiction.

I would like to close by offering my own sincere and heartfelt thank you to Readers You’ve been amazingly supportive of my romantic suspense books during the last several months – so supportive, in fact, that INTIMATE STRANGERS, FALLEN ANGEL, DESERT ROSE, MIDNIGHT STORM, and HEARTBREAKER have all occupied (simultaneously, no less!) the Bestseller Top 100 Romantic Suspense List at Amazon.UK for the previous two weeks, and those same books all spent two months this winter on that same Bestseller Top 100 Romantic Suspense List at Amazon.com in the U.S.   Color me extremely appreciative of readers.

I’m going strong on Facebook, Google+, and at Twitter (AuthorLTaylor) these days, so reach out and we’ll connect.  Meantime, READERS RULE!

Hugs all around, Laura

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I want to start off my first READERS RULE blog posting with a “thank you” to my fellow authors at READERS RULE – Bob Mayer, J. Carson Black, L. J. Sellers, Joseph Nassise, Ruth Harris, Laura Landon, and C. J. Lyons.  I am proud to be included in a company of writers whose careers are hallmarked by their commitment to their writing and to their readers.

Each member of READERS RULE is a veteran writer.  We’ve all been, and continue to be, blessed with loyal readers who have supported our careers through good times and bad.  We all create and write about make-believe worlds – not a surprise, I know!  My point here is that, within the context of the stories constructed in those make-believe worlds and populated by characters we either love or hate, our readers invariably discover themes that personally resonate for them.  Call it the shared human experience.

The theme of a book – revenge, a quest for survival, love conquers all, triumph of good over evil, coming of age, etc. – establishes the initial common ground between the writer and the reader.  Along with a particular character or characters, the theme engages the emotions of the reader, which helps to form a part of the foundation for a long-term relationship between readers and writers.

The equation for me is a simple one.   READER  +  WRITER  =  A Committed Relationship   READERS RULE is all about respecting and honoring the relationship between readers and writers.

It will not surprise you to learn that I read constantly.  When I read the work of my fellow writers, my understanding of what readers expect of me as a writer is further expanded.  As well, I receive messages from readers across the globe, and I’m thankful for their willingness to express their appreciation of my efforts to meet their expectations when they purchase my books.

The Thanksgiving season is upon us, and I am particularly thankful to my romantic suspense readers.  They make it possible for me to touch their hearts as I write the stories I love to write.  In truth, I get back from you as much as I give, and for that I thank each and every one of you.

Stop in at my website ( http://www.AuthorandEditor.com ) and click on the link for a FREE copy of INTIMATE STRANGERS, a romantic suspense novel that “sizzles”.   Not bragging here – just quoting my READERS – they rule!  J

Happy Thanksgiving and a heartfelt thanks to all READERS – you continue to inspire me!  And to the remarkable men and women of our military who serve here at home and across the globe – I am thankful for you. You’re in my thoughts and prayers  – as always.

You’ll find me on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

Hugs all around … Laura Taylor

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The publishing industry is in upheaval with major changes, but one of the more subtle changes is the declining use of pen names. As more authors take charge of their own publishing and online marketing, they choose to skip the pen names when they write in various genres, in an effort to capitalize on the brand success of the name they’re already selling under.
This makes sense to me and it’s why I’m publishing my futuristic thriller, The Arranger, under the same author name as my police procedurals. Essentially, the books are all crime stories, and in this case, they even share a major character, so I never considered using a pen name. Some marketers would argue this is a mistake, but I disagree.
In fact, even if decided to write in a completely different genre, say fantasy, I still don’t think I would use a pen name. Here’s why. Marketers at major publishing houses established the practice with the idea that books should be categorized and shelved by genre and that readers were easily confused. They worried readers would buy a book in a genre they didn’t want just because it had their favorite author’s name on it.
This seems like an insult to readers. If the cover art and book description are doing their jobs, then readers will know exactly what the genre is and what to expect from the novel—regardless of the name on the cover. Readers have also come to expect authors to pen stories in various genres. It is neither surprising, nor confusing to them.
In addition, writers are blending story types and making up their own genres. Paranormal historical mystery, anyone? Or in my case: futuristic crime thriller. I’m not sure pen names were ever useful, but if they were, readers are long past it. In the age of the internet and open access to writers, readers learn everything they need to about an author and their various books with a quick visit to their website.
What about readers browsing in bookstores? Does a pen name prevent them from buying a futuristic police procedural written by J.D. Robb instead of a romance by Nora Roberts? I don’t think so. At least not more than once.  I know there are instances in which a pen name could be useful, such as if the author wants or needs privacy, but those cases are rare.
To minimize any possible confusion, I labeled my novel with a subtitle: A Futuristic Thriller, and I created a different style of cover. It will be clear to my Detective Jackson fans that this novel is different from my police procedurals.
I also have two other standalone thrillers, so most of my readers already know that I write non-Jackson books. Of course, I want my Jackson fans to try the new novel, which is partially why I sent Detective Lara Evans into the future to tell this story. (I also think she’s a lot of fun, but that’s another blog.)
Some of my police procedural readers will check out this novel and some will pass. That’s okay. I’m hoping new readers who’ve never heard of me will try it too.
As a fairly new author, I have to capitalize on my name recognition. My name is my brand. Without the support of a major publisher, it’s all I have, and I use it everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, chat groups, etc. I never use amusing nicknames like thrillergirl or crimefighter. They might be fun, but they don’t tell readers who I am.  I’m not likely to ever use a pen name either, for the same reasons.
What do you think? Are pen names useful to you as a reader or writer?

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