Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Real Life Drama: Shane Montgomery


If any of you are Facebook friends or followers then you've seen me post about this since just after Thanksgiving.



Please look at this young man's face. This missing persons case is deeply personal to me. Shane Montgomery is from my neighborhood. He grew up here, just like me, just like my husband, just like both of our families. His family lives one block over from where I've worked every day for the last decade, which is only blocks away from my home. In fact, they live only a few doors down from where my grandparents lived for decades. (My grandmother just sold the family home about 6 weeks ago).


It was reported that this is the shirt he was wearing when he disappeared.

He is 21 years old. He is a senior at West Chester University but he is from my neighborhood. He was home for Thanksgiving break. On Thanksgiving Eve, he and his cousin went out for the night, hitting some bars on Main Street in Manayunk. (Manayunk and my neighborhood, Roxborough are side by side, with Manayunk at the bottom of "the hill", closer to the river, but we're not talking about a huge area here). Anyway, he left Kildare's Pub at approximately 1:50 a.m. and seemingly vanished into thin air. A cell phone ping at 2:38 a.m. indicates that at that time he or at the very least, his phone, was still in this area (i.e. Manayunk/Roxborough). The case is extremely baffling on just about every level.



Philadelphia Police and the FBI are hard at work on this case--make no mistake. But so is my community. People in my amazing neighborhood have turned out in droves to help search, post and hand out fliers, share on social media and raise money to help this family search for their son.



There is a reward for reliable information leading to his whereabouts that is up to $65,000 as of today.

Look, my neighborhood--Roxborough/Manayunk--it is extremely tight-knit. Everyone knows everyone and if you don't know the person, you usually know of the person. (Don't even get me started on all the weird connections my husband and I had in terms of family and friends before we even met!) In fact, I did know of the Montgomery family and Shane's mother's family before this happened. They are decent, hard-working people who deserve answers as to what happened to their son. For those of us who live here, Shane Montgomery is "one of us" on such a fundamental level, that it is hard to put into words. I wake up every morning with this young man on my mind and I go to sleep every night thinking of him and his family--praying, praying, praying that the next time I turn on the television or the next time I go onto Facebook, there will be good news about him. If you live here, if you have roots here, then you've likely gone bar-hopping in your 20s on Main Street and walked home safely and without incident. We've all done it. It could have been anyone's son, brother, nephew, cousin. Any of us, really.



So I'm asking you to please look at Shane Montgomery's face. Even if you live nowhere near here, please look at his face. Yes, the search has focused primarily on this area but the bottom line is that we do not know what happened to him yet and because of that, no possibility can be ruled out. So please. Look at his face. Visit the website and the Facebook page. Share his photo. Pray.



Most importantly, if you see something or if you know something, say something.

If you live here or you were in the Manayunk area over Thanksgiving and you think you may have seen something, please come forward. If you were out and about in the Manayunk area, check your phone for all photographs you took on Thanksgiving Eve. There might be something useful in the background.

People do not vanish into thin air. If you read my books or you know me or you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know how passionately I feel about missing persons. This case hits home for me in a major way. People don't go poof and disappear forever. Someone knows something. Perhaps they don't even know that they know it. Or maybe they know exactly what happened but they're not speaking up. Maybe that someone or someones will never read this but if they do, I would like to say this:

This is not going to end until the Montgomery family gets the answers they deserve. This will not end until Shane is home. If you think for one moment that his family or this community will stop looking for him--stop looking for answers--you could not be more wrong. This will not die down or blow over. You better believe that when you see Karen Montgomery on the news saying that she will never, ever stop looking for Shane and that she will go to the ends of the earth, she means it. I know this because I am a mother too. I live here too. I am raising my child here too. A mother does not stop looking for her child. Ever. And as you can see by the fliers and green ribbons on damn near every tree and telephone pole in this neighborhood, and in the windows and on the doors of damn near every local business, the rest of this community will not stop either. So end this now. Pick up the phone and call the FBI. 215-418-4000. Do it right now.



Saturday, November 22, 2014

Finding Claire Fletcher T-shirt Fundraiser



I just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who participated in the Finding Claire Fletcher t-shirt fundraiser! As you may know, I am raising funds for a non-profit called Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) whose goal is to stop child pornography and human trafficking. You can check them out here:

https://www.ourrescue.org/

My campaign ended on 11/12. My goal was to sell 30 shirts and I sold 35 so YOU GUYS ARE TOTALLY AWESOME!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! (Yes, multiple exclamation points.)

Many people have asked me if they can still get shirts. As I understand it, if Teespring receives 15 reservations for shirts, they'll reopen the campaign and bring the shirts back. So if you're interested, you can go to the link below, reserve a shirt and hope that 14 other people do too. :)

http://teespring.com/findclaire

I'd love to see O.U.R. get more money! But if it doesn't work out, I am thrilled with what we've accomplished! Again, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your support!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Predictability v. Expectations

So I read this book recently where the killer turns out to be . . . well, the killer. What I mean by that is the main character is convinced that the person who was convicted of killing her loved one is innocent and that the real killer is still out there. So the book follows her along this odyssey--her fight to bring the "real" killer to justice but in the end, it turns out that they had the right guy all along. I thought this was brilliant although perhaps it just spoke to the part of me who knows what it feels like to have lost a loved one and want answers that are never, ever going to satisfy. At any rate, many other readers were extremely disappointed and angry. I, however, thought it was a really novel way to end a suspense/crime novel. I mean I don't think I've ever read one where the killer turns out to be the killer they had behind bars the whole time! So to me that was satisfactorily unpredictable. (I'm not going to name the book cause I don't want to spoil it for other readers.)

I see this whole complaint about books being predictable all the time. ALL THE TIME. I read reviews of books before I buy them so I read a lot of reviews.  I read my own reviews too. Readers want books that are unpredictable but in the back of my mind, I'm thinking: "Do we? Do we really?"

Most readers I know read primarily in the same genre or genres--there are usually one or two genres they prefer over all others. Many readers I know only read romance or only read crime fiction and so on. Like me, I really only read crime fiction. I'll pick up books in other genres from time to time but for the most part, I enjoy crime fiction the most, so that's what I read. So having read a ton of crime fiction books, I have certain expectations about what's going to happen. There are certain conventions that each genre uses and as much as readers like to be surprised, we also don't like it when writers stray too far from the accepted conventions. In other words, I think it's a fine line between giving readers the unpredictability we crave and meeting our expectations of the genre.

For example, I read a book many years ago that was part of a series where, at the end, the author killed off one of the two main characters. Yeah, killed him. Dead. Gone. Forever. (It would be like watching the Lethal Weapon movies and at the end of the third one, Riggs gets killed off. I mean, really?) So was the book I'm talking about unpredictable? Hell, yes. But not the kind of unpredictability I find acceptable as a reader. I did return to that series but it wasn't for a long, long time.

So my question is: how much unpredictability do you really like as a reader? I mean is it okay if, at the end of a romance novel, the two main characters don't end up together?  Is it okay if, at the end of a crime novel, the mystery is not solved or the bad guy gets away? Or to a lesser degree, take movies for example--would it be okay to have the story in an action movie wrap up without a big, long, protracted chase scene at the end? Or a big old showdown between the good and bad guys? Would it be okay for a Disney princess movie to end without an impending wedding? What truly is an acceptable level of unpredictability in storytelling?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

200

Today, Finding Claire Fletcher got its 200th five star review on Amazon.

That's right. My own little underdog novel that took me literally years to sell to a publisher now has 200 FIVE STAR reviews on Amazon. You can check out the lengthy Agent Rejection Pictorial here.

Big Pub 1 to Agent (11/5/10):
Thanks for the FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER material. The real-life background is horrific, of course, but I'm not that sold on the novel itself.
Good luck with it!

Some writers might think, "So what? Big whoop. I've got a bajillion of those." Other writers might think, "I'd give my right kidney for 2 reviews let alone 200!"  You'll see both ends of that spectrum in this business. For me, it is very special because this book was so hard to get into the hands of readers. I don't bring it up to gloat. I mean it is pretty freaking amazing. I'm astounded and humbled and ecstatic, to say the least. The real reason I bring it up is two-fold. First, I want to say:

THANK YOU

to all the readers who gave my book a chance. Even if you hated it, even if you left a scathing review, I'm still grateful to you. I'm grateful that you would spend your money and your precious time on something that I wrote. Thank you to ALL the people who left reviews, whether they were 5 stars or not. I'm happy and grateful for each and every review I get--yes, even the bad ones because bad reviews do lend your book some credibility. Not everyone is going to like it. As a reader, I am always suspicious of a book that has no bad reviews.



Big Pub 2 to Agent (1/27/11):
Thanks for sending Lisa Regan's sample chapters. We've both looked at the material and while the premise is very intriguing, the writing wasn't as strong as we'd hoped. But we wish you lots of luck finding a good home for this project.

Second, I want to maybe offer hope to writers who feel like I did just a few years ago--like this dream was never going to happen. Ever. I had no reason to believe that this book was going to be published, even after I got my agent. It was tough. I'm not saying I had it tougher than anyone else. I'm just saying it was tough for me.


Big Pub 3 to Agent (12/15/10):
[Name Redacted to Protect the Overworked] passed this submission along to me when she left the company, and I've just now had a chance to look at FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER by Lisa Regan. The concept for this story is quite strong and I was immediately drawn into the story. Unfortunately, however, I just didn't love the execution and thus I will be passing.

Even after Sapphire Star Publishing was awesome enough to take a chance on me, several people warned me not to expect too much. Small press authors don't sell books, I heard again and again. You'll be lucky if you sell 250 copies of your book lifetime. The message was clear--your dream may be coming true but you're in for some major disappointment.




Big Pub 4 to Agent (1/3/11):
With regret, I will not be offering on Lisa Regan's FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER,  which doesn't seem right for the PUBLISHER NAME REDACTED list at this time.
The author generates a powerful and absorbing premise, bringing out the  tension in the worst nightmare for any parent. In developing the characters  of this novel, alas, it seemed that the human element never quite lived up  to the more terror-inducing aspects, and without a strong sense of the  people at the center of this novel, it would be difficult to position in our  glutted marketplace.
Thank you for the opportunity to consider FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER. I wish  you and Ms. Regan great success in finding the perfect publishing home for  it.
I'll admit that my first royalty check was quite the shock. It wasn't even how little money the book had made, it was how few copies had sold. But I was still happy. I was still living the dream and since my 6 year quest to have Finding Claire Fletcher published had involved so much work on my part, I wasn't about to give up after a month. I did what I could to promote it. I was extremely lucky because I had so many family members and friends to spread the word. And really, I was just plain lucky. Many of my friends and fellow authors whose books are far better than mine, who were doing all the same things I was doing, were not having the sales or exposure that my book got.

Big Pub 5 to Agent (1/13/11):
Thanks for sending Lisa Regan's proposal for FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER. I found it kind of intriguing, I have to say, but it just doesn't quite fit anywhere on the list. It's not the kind of suspense we do, certainly not the kind of women's fiction on our list. 
I'm going to have to pass but good luck with it. Someone should do well with it.


This book that over 100 agents passed on, that every big publishing house turned down, that even most small presses turned down has now sold thousands of copies and it's still going. For someone who was told no consistently year after year and for someone who was told that, even after signing a contract, I wasn't going to sell many books that is pretty darn incredible. I know that there are far more talented authors than me out there who are lucky to sell one book in a month. I know that I am lucky and blessed and more grateful than I could ever express with words.
Big Pub 6 to Agent (11/9/10):

Thank you so much for sending FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER by Lisa Regan to [Name Redacted to Protect the Overworked], who then passed it on to me after my enthusiasm for the proposal. I must say, I really enjoyed this project. As I read the story, I felt as if I was there with every one of the characters. I thought the voice was good, the characters well developed, and the anticipation leading up to Connor's recovery of Claire kept me on edge the entire time. Despite all I like about this book, I feel that the plot is problematic. [I redacted this part because of spoilers but the gist is that it is not believable or plausible that a kidnap victim would stay with the kidnapper when there was ample opportunity to go home or go to the police.] So unfortunately, while I do think the writing shows potential, right now I think the problems with the plotting are fundamental enough to keep this story from working on our list. 
I'm so sorry this project didn't work out for us, but I wish you the very best on placing this project with another publisher.

What I hope is that other writers out there who are working on their own Finding Claire Fletchers will not give up on their dreams. Not even necessarily dreams of finding an agent or a publisher but of finding READERS. Readers are where it's at. True story. When I started out, I didn't have the kind of self-publishing opportunities that are out there now. Now you can bypass the gatekeepers and go directly to the readers. Don't get me wrong, it takes a ton of work and luck to get those readers because you'll be doing your own marketing and promotion, but writers have options now. So whether you're going traditional or indie, I hope you won't give up on your writing dreams. 



In sort of related news, my T-shirt fundraiser was a success! I sold 35 t-shirts which is 5 over the 30 I was hoping to sell. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who bought a Finding Claire Fletcher shirt! You guys are super-awesome! I'm waiting for Teespring to send me a check so that I can forward it to Operation Underground Railroad, which is the charity I chose for the fundraiser. You can check out their website here



Monday, November 10, 2014

Yay for Re-Release Day & Last Call for Finding Claire Fletcher T-shirts!




So tomorrow is the big day! VETERANS DAY! Yes, it really is and I hope that tomorrow you will say a prayer for all the servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much so that we can live in relative safety and have all sorts of freedoms, big and small. If you see a servicemember--any day of the year--walk up to them, shake their hand and thank them for their service. I do it all the time. I've done it at parades, just walking down the street, on the bus, in airports, in restaurants, in stores, in public restrooms (the ones for females of course!), any place I have the privilege to run into someone in uniform, I do this. My daughter sees me do it so that she knows it is important. My grandfathers, my dad, my husband, many of my uncles, my brother, many of my family members, former coworkers and friends have proudly served this country and I am eternally grateful for their willingness to put themselves in harm's way, to give their lives if necessary to ensure the safety and freedom of the rest of us. It is really astounding if you think about it. Think about what they've signed up for, what they have agreed to do, what they have agreed to sacrifice if necessary. It will make your head spin. We are lucky and blessed to have such people in our midst.



Tomorrow is also Re-Release Day! My third novel will be re-released by Thomas & Mercer tomorrow. I'm super-excited to see where this journey will take me next. If you haven't read HOLD STILL yet, then get yourself a brand-spanking-new copy tomorrow!



Finally, you have one day left to get a Finding Claire Fletcher T-shirt. As you may or may not know, I'm holding a fundraiser for Operation Underground Railroad which is a non-profit organization that uses cutting-edge technology to track down child pornographers and human traffickers. They assist law enforcement all over the world in stopping these monsters. All profits from the sale of these FCF T-shirts will go to O.U.R. You can check out their website here. I have actually already met my goal but you can still purchase T-shirts until November 12th. The more shirts I sell, the more money O.U.R. gets! The T-shirts WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE AFTER NOVEMBER 12th. I will not have any. There will not be extra. So if you're interested, please order them from Teespring now.

Finally, I want to say a great big THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who already ordered T-shirts! You guys are the best! I deeply appreciate you supporting me and this cause, which is extremely, extremely important to me. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!



Also, BROKEN EMBRACE by Dana Mason is on sale for only 99 for ONE MORE DAY! It is a Kindle Countdown deal and it ends soon! I love this whole series and you can read them in any order so treat yourself and get this one on sale now!

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And oh, right, I was going to check in a month after my So Many Things post to let you know of my progress with COLD-BLOODED after plotting it all out. The news is that there is no news. October was ridiculous and in a way, I suspect plotting the whole book out took a lot of the fun and excitement out of it for me. But mostly, it was simply a time issue. So I'm resetting the clock now on November 11th. Let's see if I can find the time to write the first draft of this book before December 11th!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Finding Claire Fletcher T-Shirt Fundraiser


So, Claire Fletcher, who is the protagonist of my first novel has a birthday today!

In honor of her birthday, I'm holding a t-shirt fundraiser. Buy a Finding Claire Fletcher t-shirt and all profits will go to Operation Underground Railroad or O.U.R., a non-profit organization founded by a former CIA/Homeland Security agent. They use cutting-edge technology to locate and track child pornographers and human traffickers. They use their findings to assist law enforcement all over the world to stop these monsters and rescue kidnapped children.

You can read about them here:

http://venturebeat.com/2014/04/26/tech-startup-operation-underground-railroad-is-saving-kids-from-human-traffickers/

And check out their website here:


Since this is my first stab at fundraising, I've set my goal at selling 30 t-shirts.

IF I DON'T REACH MY GOAL, THE T-SHIRTS WILL NOT BE PRINTED AND YOUR MONEY WILL BE REFUNDED.

YOU HAVE UNTIL NOVEMBER 12, 2014 TO PURCHASE A SHIRT.

YOU CAN PURCHASE ONE HERE:

http://teespring.com/findclaire

Monday, October 6, 2014

So Many Things!

I've been away so long! I apologize. This summer kicked my behind. I had a wee bit of a health scare which involved me having to get an MRI of my brain (everything is fine) and then a minor surgery (again, everything is also fine).

Seriously, waiting for appointments to begin is an awesome time to write!
I think I got 3K done waiting for this MRI. 

The school year came so quickly, I've barely had time to process things, let alone blog about them. There are so many things I wanted to comment on that I couldn't decide which to do a post on first . . . so I'm going to try to cover it all in one post.

First, many of my lovely and amazing friends won awards in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards for 2014! I'm happy to tell you the following books won awards (and if you haven't checked out these books yet, I don't know what you're waiting for!)


NANCY S. THOMPSON'S THE MISTAKEN




- WINNER, Best Audiobook
- WINNER, Best Thriller

MICHAEL INFINITO, JR.'s 12:19



- RUNNER UP, Best Horror

MICHAEL INFINITO, JR.'s IN BLOG WE TRUST



- WINNER, I've Been Shamylaned Award (i.e. best twist)
(FYI, Michael and I actually tied for the winner of this award! My second novel, Aberration was a finalist. Also, Michael's contract with his publisher was up and In Blog We Trust has since been picked up by new publisher who will re-release it in the future. I will keep you posted as this is one of my favorite books and has the best twist of any book I've ever read!)

CARRIE BUTLER'S MARK OF NEXUS SERIES



- WINNER, Best New Adult (Strength)
- WINNER, Best Series

DANA MASON'S DANGEROUS EMBRACE & PRECIOUS EMBRACE




- WINNER, Best Mystery/Suspense
- RUNNER UP, Best Romance

ALEX CAVANAUGH, CASSASTORM


WINNER, Best Science Fiction

Hopefully, I haven't forgotten anyone! CONGRATS to all these extremely talented authors.

****



I was way excited in September to find out that FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER was a FINALIST in the Kindle Book Review's Best Kindle Book Awards of 2014 in the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense category. I checked out my competition, which was pretty darn stiff, and never expected to win, so I wasn't surprised when I didn't! I am totally psyched to have been a finalist though and I'd like to extend my congratulations to Nancy DeMarco, whose Saving Gracie won in my category. I don't know Nancy but her book looks awesome and hopefully she will pick up a lot of new readers with this wonderful award. You can check out all the 2014 winners right here.

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In July, the lovely and incomparable Jennifer Hillier released her third novel, a stand-alone called THE BUTCHER. I was lucky enough to win a free ARC which I devoured in less than 48 hours. Truly one of the best books I've ever read. You should check it out. You should check all her books out! Not just because I think that Jenny is an amazing person but because she is rapidly becoming one of my writing idols. Mark my words, she is going to be sitting atop the New York Times Bestseller list one of these days, selling as many books as James Patterson or Karin Slaughter.



One of the coolest things about her most recent book is that from page one, you know the identity of the killer. Think about that for a moment. Page one. Killer's identity. You might think, "what's the point of reading the book?" Well, if you want to learn something about how to craft a suspense novel, read this book. I think it's truly amazing what Jennifer has done here. You can read my review here.

***

I'd like to extend a big, fat CONGRATULATIONS to Libby Heily, whose play, THE LAST DAY is going to be produced and performed at Raleigh's Owl Tree Theater next year! You can read about her big announcement here. If ever I was tempted to make a trip to Raleigh . . .

***

I really haven't been reading many blogs--or much of anything--lately because I've been so busy, but I did manage to stumble upon this blog post by an author named Rachel Aaron outlining how she went from writing 2,000 words a day to 10,000 words a day. I'm always looking for ways to write faster or at least to squeeze more writing into my day. Now keep in mind, this author is fortunate enough to be able to write full-time, so getting up there to 10,000 words a day is a feasible goal for her and probably for most full-time writers. I do work full-time, so 10K a day is never going to happen for me. But I still found this blog post immensely helpful and I've taken it to heart.

My then 6 year old daughter left this note for me in one of my notebooks this summer after she borrowed my pen.

Over the summer I was working on OVER THE EDGE, the sequel to FINDING CLAIRE FLETCHER and a book called COLD-BLOODED, the sequel to HOLD STILL. I was moving along quite nicely with both of them but even so, I didn't feel like I was getting very far. Between the two of them, I had about 50,000 words written, which I guess isn't too bad given how little time I've had to devote to writing. Still, I really wanted to do more. So I took Ms. Aaron's advice and with COLD-BLOODED, I spent 2 weeks doing nothing but plotting the entire book out. I'm not a plotter.  I'm more of a plantster--one quarter plotter, three quarters panster. I have always just gone where the writing took me and figured out all the particulars later. It's a massively inefficient way to write. And yeah, it took me 2 weeks instead of the few days that she suggests because I'm not a natural plotter. But I did it! First time ever, by the way, that I've been able to plot out the entire book in great detail before writing it.

I got my daughter to draw this, which is what popped into my head when I thought of "Plantster"
25% Plotter, 75% Pantster

Starting this week, I am going to return to writing it. I'm very interested to see how quickly I can finish the first draft of the book now that I know what happens in every chapter. I am really hoping this will transform the way I write books. It is an experiment for me. Kind of like the 100 Day Challenge idea I got from Jamie Todd Rubin and the Writing Blitz idea I got from Libby Heily. I heart other writers!

Anyway, I'll check in for sure in one month to let you know what kind of progress I've made in COLD-BLOODED.

***

In more news, HOLD STILL is set to be re-released by Amazon on November 11, 2014. I'm way, super-duper excited! And nervous as hell. I sure don't want to tank! I'm so very grateful to Amazon for this opportunity to reach more readers and I can't wait to see where the journey takes me next. Until about a week before the release, my self-published, first edition of it will remain on Amazon. I've already removed it from other platforms since it wasn't really selling many books anywhere except Amazon anyway.


Also, and this is pretty flipping exciting, I'm thrilled to announce my first foreign translation! HOLD STILL is being translated into German!

Finally, the last of the HOLD STILL news, the audio book is available now! This was produced via ACX before I was approached by Amazon. It is available now wherever audiobooks are sold.

I've got a bunch of promo codes for free downloads of it from AUDIBLE. Apparently, you can't give these away. So if you're interested in getting a free audio copy of the book (via download, not CD) just comment below or email me at lisareganauthor@hotmail.com and I'll send you a code.

***

The wonderful Michael Infinito, Jr. has an upcoming release called THE SECRETS OF HALLOW which I was privileged to read a few years ago. It is a young adult book and a fascinating re-imagining of the origins of Halloween. It comes out on October 10th. You can pre-order it here. You should check it out! It is truly an awesome book.


***

Finally, this issue has come up lately, mostly on Facebook and it seems to be a hotbed of contention among writers . . . and also some non-writers: using Kickstarter to ask for donations to raise money to write and/or self-publish a book. I know there are only about two of you who still read my blog and so I probably already know your thoughts, but I am interested to know what people think of this concept. Some are adamantly opposed to it and others think it's perfectly natural. Publishers Weekly actually did a piece on it which you can read here. What say you?