Saturday, December 08, 2007

Santa and His Reindeer Sing White Christmas

You remember it from last year, right? That great little clip of Santa and his reindeer (actually The Drifters) singing "White Christmas"?? Well, here it is again, for your viewing pleasure!

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Belated Friday Feast

FYI, today's work presentation went very well, better than I had hoped. "Phenomenal" and "very impressive" were a couple of the compliments we received :)

Reminder: I'm having a neat little book giveaway for the entire month of December - all you have to do to enter is post a comment on my blog! The more comments, well, the more chances you have to win~

Friday's Feast

What was the last game you purchased?

Believe it or not, I can't even remember. Maybe an updated version of Scrabble? Not including the educational games I buy my niece and nephew, of course :)

Name something in which you don’t believe.

Negative thoughts.

If you could choose a celebrity to be your boss, who would you pick?

Wentworth Miller - he's yummy to look at and he's a Princeton graduate. I would mop the floors if he asked nicely :)

Main Course
What was a lesson you had to learn the hard way?

To think before I open my mouth, especially when speaking to my superiors. In fact, I'm still learning that lesson!

Describe your idea of the perfect relaxation room.

Dark and quiet, with a masseuse nearby...

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Update on the trailer biz: I just finished one for my TWRP editor, who has a novel out herself, Dancing on the Edge. I'm pretty pleased with it. Take a look:

Update on Summer's Song: This is my latest WIP. It's been kicking around for a while, but I'm tackling some serious revisions these days. I was planning on targeting NY houses and agents, but I think I've changed my mind and may submit it to The Wild Rose Press instead. My thinking? It will be close to 90K words, which means it should go to print with them. Also, it's a sweet (well, more sensual) contemporary romance, not anything terribly ground-breaking, and I'm not sure it's unique enough to break into the big presses. And finally, I've been pleasantly surprised with how well Lost in Paradise has sold with TWRP. If I can develop a following there, maybe I can set the stage for snagging an agent later down the line. Anyway, I'm really hoping to finish and fine-tune Summer's Song by the end of the year!

Update on the rest of my life: Yeah, I do have a day job - at least until Oprah calls :) So I probably won't be blogging tomorrow, since I'm scheduled to give a presentation with a colleague to the State Education Department on our teaching programs and what we do. Kind of a big deal, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Anita Davison

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm talking with British author Anita Davison,. Settle in and enjoy the interview!

Hi Anita! Can you tell us a little about your background?
I don’t really have one, not professionally. My first real attempt was to write a series of children’s stories for my son when he was very ill with chicken pox. I still have those stories.

Tell us about your latest writing project.
My debut novel is a coming of age story set in 17th Century Devon. Helena Woulfe waves her father, uncle and elder brother off to the Monmouth Rebellion, expecting to see them return as conquering heroes. But the Duke of Monmouth is defeated at Sedgemoor and suddenly Helena belongs to a family of traitors. She and her younger brother, Henry leave the city of their birth for London, to forge a new life for themselves.

Sounds like a great story! How do you go about developing your characters?
I try and put myself inside their heads. What would they do in a certain situation is this or that event happens. How would they feel, react and solve the problem. Then I gave them different personalities so those reactions would differ. I have lived with them for some time and know them as well as, or even better than, my own children. They are real to me.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?
Join a critique group. I didn’t like the sound of that either at first, because suppose they hate it? I shall be so discouraged; I’ll hurl my novel into a corner and never write again. But then, I told myself I could always hide behind the internet and no one would know it was me, so I applied to the group with a sample of my writing. My first submission attracted not only constructive criticism, but a lot of praise too, and far from wanting to discard it, I couldn’t wait to get back to my laptop and implement some of the ideas and rules they gave me. The group moderator, Anne Whitfield, who is also a wonderful author herself, told me I had a good story, I just had to learn how to write it.

Thus I ventured into the world of literary jargon where terms like PoV, active versus passive voice, gerunds, weaving backstory, how to avoid info dumps, dialogue tags, exposition, are bandied about amongst the initiated. Slowly, my manuscript went through an evolutionary process and Anne was right, the story is still there, but now benefits from some intensive polish. Now it reads like a proper novel! I learned so much from critiquing the work of the others in the group, all of whom submit a wide range of historical fiction from ancient civilisations to Regency England.

What an accurate description of the process! OK, what kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
My favourites are historical fiction writers of course, like Suzannah Dunn, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles and Michael Jecks, who writes medieval detective stories based in Devon. I also enjoy Harlan Coban detective stories and Kathy Reich’s forensic thrillers.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?
Discipline and momentum. I either write manically, not stopping to eat or wash up the breakfast dishes and work for hours on end. Or I can only manage an hour of consistent composition because I get distracted easily and go off to check my Bebo and MySpace pages for notes and comments. Both great vehicles for procrastination and time wasting.

Very true! So how do you balance writing with the rest of your life?
Badly, for the reasons listed above and the fact my husband and I are trying to run a business, are selling a business, and buying a totally different type of business in another country. Fortunately I don’t have any school age children - our son and daughter are grown up, well sort of, or I would be even more chaotic.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
Not for scenarios, I always have an abundance of them and my critique group know where to come when they run out of plotlines. Each chapter has to have a structure, with character growth, conflict and goals. Sometimes I have difficulty getting those objectives into a chapter. Usually because I am in the wrong mood. I cannot write sad scenes if I am upbeat, they turn out wooden and emotionless. What do I do to darken my mood? I just open my credit card bills. If I need to be on the verge of manic hysteria I open my husband’s.

(Big grin) Describe your writing space...
Sitting on the sofa in my sitting room with a laptop on my knee. I have been known to write sitting in hotel lobbies between meetings, on planes, even in Starbucks. When ideas, a phrase or a description appeals to me, I need to get it down. I have lots of ‘Notes’ files on my hard drive and I am onto my third laptop. I wear the letters off the keyboard!

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Reading historical fiction novels, scouring Borders and Waterstones for research material. My husband keeps reminding me that now the kids have left home, we should do things together, rather than just sit at my laptop. So we go to see films, have dinner and just sit talking in pubs overlooking the Thames. So I make myself stop writing and go out – and he’s right, I enjoy our time together.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?
That I can actually write. No honestly, I had no confidence in my work at all. For years I really thought no one else would see any merit in my stories. My critique group changed all that. I’m still flaky though. When my editor at Enspiren sends me edits, I always e-mail her asking, ‘Yes OK, but what do you really think?” She must think I’m a nightmare.

What is your favorite movie? Did it inspire your writing in any way?
Steel Magnolias, and No. Wrong time, wrong country. But it’s a film I can watch over and over again.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Promotion is the hardest part of being an author. You have to be shameless about it and being English, that’s not easy for me. I’m happy to talk about my books and my characters endlessly, but not about me. After all, the reason I create complicated scenarios in the 17th Century, is because my own life is fairly mundane. Not unhappy, just not very interesting to an outsider. But Helena Woulfe, well that lady is fascinating and beautiful. She’s worth reading about.

Oh, and the sequel to Duking Days Rebellion, Duking Days Revolution, will be released by Enspiren Press early in 2008.

Great interview, Anita - thanks!

Duking Days Rebellion by Anita Davison is available on Lulu in print and e-book, at Fictionwise as e-book and at as trade paperback, October 2007.

And if you'd like to find out more, or leave this author a quick note, visit any of her sites:

Anita Davison’s Blog
Anita Davison’s Website
Anita Davison’s Bebo

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Contests Galore!

Hey, if you haven't already, check out the contest page over at The Long and the Short of It. Lots of cool prizes to win!

And take a visit over to my newly-set up YouTube Channel, where you can see the latest trailer I did for fellow WRP author Tiarie Vaughn-Lazzar (The Diary of Castaways Island). You can subscribe to the channel too, and find out whenever I put up new trailers (I know you're just dying to, right?) I'm not sure about the pink background on the page, but I figured for now since I'm mostly doing romance, it'll work. What do you think?

Guess what? Lost in Paradise just made it onto the Wild Rose Press front page, overall best-seller list! It's hanging on at #1 over on the Champagne Rose Full-Length List, but I'm psyched to make it onto the "big" Top 10 list, especially since that features all lengths, and books that are in print as well. (By the way, you can read a review of it today, too). Yippee!

Monday, December 03, 2007

The 5 Things I Learned

OK, here they are, the 5 things I learned from going to the Book Fair on Saturday (there were probably more, but these 5 stand out):

1. Smile. Really, at everyone, especially if you're new to the business and you don't know who's who. The person wearing jeans and hauling around boxes to get everything set up could very possibly be the best-selling author sitting at your table. And people are more likely to stop and at least look at your things, maybe pick up a business card or bookmark, if you smile at them, make eye contact, and say hello.

2. Looks are important - when it comes to your promo items and your table, anyway. Don't overdo and bring 15 different kinds of items. It clutters the space. Do arrange your books nicely (one of the authors had a black velvet throw that she put under her books, which were all set at different levels on the table. Looked cool.) Do bring something unusual if you can, that relates to your books. The author next to me had a scented candle made by some woman who has a side business, and this author does a lot of promo packages - buy a book AND a candle. She said she sells more of both than you might guess. And more people stopped to smell the candle than stopped to pick up a book, at first glance.

3. Be prepared to listen to people talk about the books THEY'VE written. I heard more people talk about the next best-seller they had lying at home, than I can count on both hands. At least three people said, "Oh, it's fresh and original. There's nothing else like it out there." Then they went on to talk about it...and it wasn't, not really. But that's OK. People who like to talk about writing are usually readers, so you have a chance of convincing them to buy your book. A chance, anyway.

4. Even if you don't sell a single book, the networking at these public events is priceless. In six hours, I made more connections with other authors, publishers, and book distributors than I have in probably the last 6 months. I have promo opportunities for 2008 that I didn't have when I arrived there. And getting your own name out there is just as valuable. Now they know me, and hopefully they'll remember me when they see my name in other places. On the flip side, it was amazing to hear how many authors do little to no promotion once their books hit the shelves.

5. Chocolate is always a hit. I had a tin of Hershey's kisses in front of my display, and almost every person who walked by took one. And a majority stayed as they unwrapped it, to look at what else was on the table. Chocolate. Every time.


Finally, I'm running a contest for the month of December: every time you leave a comment on my blog this month, I'll put your name into a drawing for Scenes from a Holiday. I bought this book to read and review for The Long and the Short of It, so it's a brand new copy. Hope to have the review done soon, too, so you can read it before the winner is announced...right after the first of the year!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Pics from the Book Fair!

So I survived my first public appearance as a writer, yesterday, at the New York Small and Independent Press Book Fair in Manhattan! Had a good time, met some fellow authors, and best of all, met Dru, one of my online fans and fellow bloggers. It's always cool to finally put a face with a name, when you've been chatting in the virtual world for so long. I have a great picture of the two of us, but I know some people don't like their faces up posted in Internet world, so I won't put it on my blog unless she gives me the OK ;)

View from above: looking down on the main floor of the Book Fair

At our balcony table - isn't the banner behind us great??

Me chatting with Tilly Greene (on the left) and Stella Price (on the right) - both very cool, very friendly authors. I'm hoping to do some more PR events with them next year.

I'll be back tomorrow with a longer post about all the wisdom I learned (along with a brand new giveaway contest that I'm running for the whole month of December) stop back, OK?


P.S. It's snowing like crazy here, the first real storm of the season!