Saturday, March 29, 2008

International Auto Show

"Americans are broad-minded people. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater, and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there is something wrong with him. " ~Art Buchwald

Hubby and I are off today to the International Auto Show down in NYC. We've gone before - it's usually pretty cool, an entire display of all the latest and greatest (& upcoming) innovations in the world of cars. Maybe I'll get some good inspiration for the next vehicle my hero or heroine will be driving!

Even more cool, for me: for the first time since we moved to our new house (2 years ago...) we're taking the train into the city instead of driving down. It's a little bit longer, but we won't have to deal with traffic, or tolls, or gas prices, or parking. The train station is less than 2 miles from our doorstep, so you would think we would have actually taken advantage of this before. But no. I'm excited: this means I get to read a book on the way!

I'll post some pictures here tomorrow...see you then!

Friday, March 28, 2008


"The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid." ~Lady Bird Johnson

I just found out that my publisher (Samhain) has canceled its appearance at the Philadelphia Book Festival in May. Even though my book wasn't going to be out in print yet, I had still planned on going and promoting/meeting other authors and some of the staff/checking out the rest of the book festival.

Now I'm not.

And the reason they gave for canceling? "lack of participation."

Okay, this was a totally free promotional opportunity for authors, other than the cost of getting yourself to the festival if you were from out of town. Samhain has a lot of authors, and I just can't believe they couldn't find a solid 5-10 to go to this thing. (Earlier in the year, they were actually trying to limit the number of authors who could be at the tent at one time, to give everyone some time/space). But this is what I'm discovering, the more time I spend talking to other authors and reading conversations on loops: many don't like to actively promote themselves.

I understand that some writers may be reticent...that's the beauty of writing, right?! You don't have to talk to, or see, anyone else. But why wouldn't you take advantage of chances to interact with potential readers, to talk about your books and what you've accomplished? I see plenty of people taking out ads (which cost $$$ in some cases) or participating in chats or contests or giveaways, though lately even those seem more sparsely populated. I just don't understand why authors wouldn't want to do everything possible to promote and market their work, especially when some options are free or super-low cost.

Unless they really don't care if anyone buys it. I suppose that could be the case. Writing a book is one thing, and finding a publisher is another, but once those accomplishments are through, maybe that's enough for some people.

I don't know...but I'm still disappointed.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's a Special Day, Today

"Heroes take journeys, confront dragons, and discover the treasure of their true selves." ~Carol Lynn Pearson

Hi everyone!

First off, thanks for stopping by and commenting yesterday - we had a great turnout for Denyse Bridger's interview. Denyse was kind enough to donate a free download of her newest short story, "Bella Signorina," to one lucky winner. I drew a name randomly from all the commenters, and the winner is...

Kathleen Grieve!

Congrats - I'm sure you'll enjoy it!


In other important news, somehow today I ended up guest blogging in two separate places. I would love it if you would stop by, read, and comment. I get lonely when I'm in someone else's home blogland!

Diane Craver is Hosting Me for Small Press Authors' Week (want to hear about my first kiss? it's a funny story...)

I'm Also Over at the Samhain Blog Talking About the Person Who Inspires my Heroes (hint: it's also his b-day today...)

Hope to see you in one (or both!) places!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Denyse Bridger

Welcome to another Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm featuring author Denyse Bridger. Sit back and're in for a treat!

Hi, Denyse! (Love the picture, by the way!!) Can you tell us a little about your background?

I have no real background in writing, in the sense of courses, degrees, etc. My “talent” such as it is, mostly stems from love of words and craft, and the diligent process of learning whatever I can from the people I work with. Personally, I’ve always been in love with the creation of stories, and everything that I experience through vision and hearing and makes my imagination create. If I see something that makes me stop and think, then it will inevitably end up in a story at some point, that’s just the way my mind works. Life is an adventure to be lived and experienced, not endured. The Italians use the phrase “Viva la dolce vita!” and they’re right!

What a wonderful attitude! So...tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

My latest published title is also my first major release! It’s in bookstores everywhere now. The book is called “As Fate Decrees” and is a fantasy novel, with a romance backbone/subplot that drives it. It’s based on Greek Mythology, and I call it a time-spanning adventure epic. There’s a page on my website, Non-erotic Books, and it contains links to a Media Kit download, a Video trailer that’s just amazing, podcast interviews on the Extras page, and a link to read the first chapter of the novel.

My current writing project is a title I am submitting to Harlequin for their Presents line. Always my favourite of their imprints, this book is called “The Light Within My Soul” and was inspired by my admiration and respect for Italian singer Patrizio Buanne. I’m lucky, my inspiration is a personal friend who has sanctioned the book, and in giving it his Blessing, has made the project even more rewarding. I suspect this novel will be among my best works, it’s certainly infused with love and passion!

My first title with The Wild Rose Press is now available, as well, and it’s my first “sweet and tender” romance. Up to now it’s been mostly erotica, and the change is one I’m looking forward to, honestly. “Bella Signorina” is a special story, and one I hope readers will find as magical as I did writing it! It’s one of a set of six stories set in Italy, all carrying the titles of romantic Italian love songs!

That's wonderful - so much writing success! How do you go about developing your characters?

Some times the characters have faces by virtue of who inspires them, as is the case with the current novel. My hero is a complex merging of a real person and all of the attributes that I, as a writer, have chosen to give his fictitious counterpart. I find once my characters have “faces” and names, then they begin to develop whatever traits are needed to tell their story. The plot is generally established to some degree when I begin the writing, so I get to know the people in my books and tell the story that is right for them. I find if you have a clear and solid “feel” for who you’re writing about, then the details seem to come with them, and all of it enhances the experience for both writer and ultimately the readers who will give you their time and attention. I seldom have to ever go back and “change” anything about a character to suit the story I’m telling, so it’s a beautiful flow of inspired story mostly.

Music is another great inspiration, and if you find the right “soundtrack” in your mind, and listen to it, then it can add fabulous elements to a story as well.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

I’ve given only one real piece of advice to anyone who’s ever asked me this question, and it’s one word: perseverance. If you believe in your talent, and your work, then you have to be willing to take the time needed to find the right people to not only publish your work, but to work with you on building it into the best work it can be. There’s no place for arrogance in this business, you have to be willing to listen to the editors and publishers, it’s their business to make your book the best it can be. If you start taking criticism of any kind as a personal slight or attack, you’ll never survive the process.

Do not listen to your mother, or your siblings, or your best friend… they don’t want to hurt your feelings with an objective, and wholly honest assessment — these people love you, they won’t tell you things that will shatter your confidence or your dreams. BUT, the real test is in how you handle yourself when faced with the honest assessments of professionals. No work is perfect, and NO writer ever writes a perfect book. Even the one that’s in your hands at the end of it all will never be perfect. Accept that, and the gift of experience that comes from good editors and honest, constructive critique. Compromise is a big part of a smooth working relationship in any field. That, and a willingness to learn and get better.

That is very real, very honest advice, indeed. OK, now what kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

Depending on what I’m writing, my genre choices vary. I love romance, obviously, and fantasy. I seldom read the genre I’m writing in, simply to avoid any inadvertent copying of someone else’s ideas. Fantasy authors: Terry Brooks, Guy Gavriel Kay, CJ Cherryh. Romance: Lucy Monroe, Kim Lawrence, Linda Lael Miller, there are SO many good ones. I like Linda Howard, too. Historical, another of my favourite genres, mostly Western, I love Louis L’Amour, Richard Compton. My tastes are as varied as my writing styles. I adore Sherlock Holmes stories and Anne Perry if I want a Victorian mystery to settle in with, and almost any western romance appeals to me. So, it’s mostly mood and work that dictates what I read and when. My all-time favourite book is actually “Gone With The Wind” by Margaret Mitchell. I also love Nancy Baker’s vampire novels.

When you write, do you use the computer or compose by hand, oral dictation, or some other method?

I used to write it all out by hand, and it took years to get to the stage where I sit at the computer and just write. Mind you, there is always a notebook in my handbag, and a pen, and I can write anywhere now. In the middle of a hospital waiting room I started one of the sexiest vampire romances I ever created!

Ooh, great creation story! What about film? What is your favorite movie? Did it inspire your writing in any way?

“Gone With The Wind” is also my favourite movie, along with “Casablanca” — I think both have influenced me in different ways as a writer. The sweeping drama of GWTW is something that no one can watch/read and not be captivated by, it shows on so many levels how lives are connected, and that what we do always has repercussions and often unforeseen prices that we will pay in unexpected ways. “Casablanca” is love found and lost, and the honour that is due to love that respects a sometimes greater good than itself. It shows love as an unselfish and noble emotion. All of these things come into play in some fashion in what I write, whether it’s the obvious theme, or a subtle subplot/sub-theme in a larger picture.

Denyse, thank you so much for being here today. Readers, leave a comment if you'd like, or visit Denyse's webpages to find out more about her and her works.

Thank YOU, Allie!! This was a lot of fun, and the questions are good, they make you think and that’s always fun!

Denysé's Website
Denyse's Blog
Denyse's MySpace
Denyse's Newsgroup
Denyse's Newsletter

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Good Intentions, but...

"It's spring fever.... You don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!" ~Mark Twain

Today I was going to blog about how I sometimes tire of sex being what sells the most, in the romance/women's fiction world of writing. But I don't really have the energy.

Then I thought, well, maybe I'll talk about the rock wall I'm rebuilding by hand - it runs along the back of our lawn, at the edge of the woods, and, like every other rock wall in this area, was used by farmers to mark property lines way back when. Except yesterday I dropped this really heavy rock on my middle finger of my right hand, and it's kind of hard to type with a finger that's black and blue and swollen to twice its size.

So instead I'll just say that I started a fascinating book this weekend: She's Not There, by Jennifer Finney Boylan. It's the memoir of the Colby College English Chair...who spent his entire life feeling "wrong" and so went through a sex change. Now he's a woman. It's gotten some great reviews, and I really can't wait to read it.

Hey, has anyone out there used One friend told me it's considered the new MySpace of book promotion. One more thing to add to my list...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Amazon Sales Ranking and Rank Tracer: I'm Officially Obsessed!

"Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect." ~William Clement Stone

A few weeks ago, my cyber-friend Diane Craver referred to her obsession with checking her Amazon sales ranking multiple times a day.

Now that One Night in Boston is there, I know what she's talking about! For those of you who aren't familiar, every product for sale on Amazon has a sales rank. Though they supposedly keep the algorithm for figuring this ranking a secret, it does give you an idea of where your sales fall. The lower the number, the better your sales are. Anything up around 1,000,000 means few to no sales. Between 100,000 and 999,999 is moderate sales (you'll probably sell 10 - 200 copies, total). Less than 100,000 and you're doing better than average.

So of course you know I check my ranking a few times a day, now! The thing is, 1 person buying your book can make your rank jump a few hundred thousand, so you can't get too excited. Still, it's an indication of *something.* One site that makes it easy to check, without going to your actual Amazon page, is Sales Rank Express. (Oh, in case you're wondering, One Night in Boston is hovering somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 most days. Not bad considering it's not out in print yet! That's thanks to all you lovely readers who have pre-ordered it).

The nice thing, though, is that it gives you a chance to track your sales when matched up against your advertising efforts (for all my downplaying of the Border events last Friday, my ranking moved from 400,000+ Friday morning to 199,000 Saturday morning. So *someone* bought a copy!).

That's where RankTracer comes in. I stumbled across this nifty site yesterday. They will track your Amazon sales for you, and send you a detailed graph of how your sales are doing over a specified time period. They will also provide estimated sales. Plus - I have to add this - their customer support is awesome. The subscription $$ to track 1 product is $2/month. *However* they'll give you 3 months free if you promote their site: mention it on your blog, link to it from your webpage, etc. Free is too sweet to pass up!

Since I just signed up, I can't comment too much more specifically, but I'll definitely let you know what I think after the first month! Fellow authors, it's well worth checking into, I think. Anyone else already use it?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

"Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there." ~Clarence W. Hall

Here's wishing everyone a warm and happy Easter day...and happy spring to all who don't celebrate the holiday :)


Just a quick reminder as well: the Samhain Spring Showers event is in full swing over at Coffee Time Romance, with new excerpts going up today. Another peek at One Night in Boston for you - just click on the picture below!