Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Quick Question

"I like to do all the talking myself. It saves time, and prevents arguments." ~Oscar Wilde

OK, so here's my question: if you were going to attend a presentation at your local library given by 2-3 writers (and of course you would, right? because writers are very cool and you support struggling artists), which would you rather hear?

1. A discussion of what it takes to write something and get it published

2. A discussion of how the romance and women's fiction genres are changing and what kind of plotlines they include these days

3. A brief introduction of what each author writes, maybe a personal anecdote or two, and then an open Q&A session

4. Something else altogether

I have the opportunity to speak at a couple of places this summer and am wondering what might be the best draw?

And I know there are lots of you out there who lurk but don't comment, so if you have an opinion today, I'd love to hear it!

Friday, June 13, 2008


"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination." ~Jimmy Dean

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words yesterday...that's why I love cyberworld!

And because I am at the end of a long week and fresh out of new ideas, here's the Friday Feast. Enjoy!

Do you consider yourself to be an optimist or a pessimist?

I'd say 80% of the time, I'm an optimist. Every once in a while the pessimist side rears its ugly head, though, and I'll spend a few philosophical hours wondering the point of any of my efforts, since in the very grand scheme of things, we live such a short time and have such little (if any) lasting effect on the world.

What is your favorite color of ink to write with?


How often do you get a manicure or pedicure? Do you do them yourself or go to a salon and pay for them?

During the summer, I get pedicures at a salon about once/month. In the winter, rarely to never, or I do them myself. (c'mon, it's like shaving - who's going to see your legs and your feet when it's 20 degrees outside??) And I never, never get manicures. I use my hands way too much...between doing dishes and playing the piano, the polish comes off the next day.

Main Course
Have you ever won anything online? If so, what was it?

I've won books in different writer's contests. For me as an author, that's a pretty cool prize.

In which room in your house do you keep your home computer?

Desktop: the office.
Laptop: anywhere I am and need to write...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

And I Thought Mrs. Giggles Was Tough...

"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." ~Lance Armstrong


Hang on, let me get another bandage.

And find the limb that got torn off and thrown somewhere across the room.

And see if I can stop the bleeding.

I got my worst review to date, yesterday, for One Night in Boston, from Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction.

The reviewer wrote, in part, "The biggest problem with this story is pace. I read the first chapter excited. The second going, okay, bring it on. The third through probably the next five to six were absolutely flat. I regained my excitement only to have more flat chapters appear. They merely read as set up and lent nothing to the actual story line. I ran into all the cliche roadblocks of Woman’s Fiction and a few from Romance...Heroine’s big secret, which the reader figures out by the end of the first chapter, is so horribly hooked I wanted to tear my hair out...The plot gets warped because I am trying to follow so many characters and none of them truly get to make their mark in the tale."

Yeah - ouch.

I suppose I should find some kind of comfort in the fact that the reviewer went on for paragraphs about what s/he didn't like - my writing was powerfully bad enough to draw actual frustration, not just indifference. Woo hoo!

And I suppose I should be glad for the few teeny tiny glimmers of positive light, because s/he did ultimately say, "I would give her another shot if she could do something other than the already overdone...Big Kudos for trying a new formula in romance...Personally, I’d like to see something else from this author that is outside the box. Hey, if she isn’t writing inside the proverbial limits in the first place, she might as well take a deep breath and jump. All in all, I am giving this book a rating of good read, intriguing, mainly on characterization. She’s got style. I can’t wait to see what might come from her in the future."

I spent a couple of self-indulgent hours yesterday feeling really bad. I thought, wow, maybe I shouldn't be promoting a book that is so obviously flawed. Then I thought, well, I'll take what I can from the review and move on. No one likes everything. No, the book isn't a traditional romance. No, the hero and heroine do not meet in the first chapter. They don't even meet until halfway through the book. Yes, I probably sacrifice action and conflict for prose that captures a mood or a moment - though it's something I'm working on. And I got a thumbs-up on style, which made me happy :)

So, live and learn. Bad reviews sell books too, right? (As a matter of fact, it looks as though 2 copies have sold on Amazon since that review went up. Connection?)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Mechele Armstrong aka Lany of Melany Logen

Thanks for joining me for another exciting author interview - and today, we have a slightly schizophrenic one (just kidding). She writes alone as Mechele Armstrong and collaboratively as Melany Logen. Intrigued? Read on...

Thanks for being here today! So, when did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I've written most of my life from the time I was a child. What really got me serious was a moment at the beach when my youngest was tiny. I read four romance novels in a weekend after having not read them for a long time. I thought, "I can do this." Came home and wrote a romance novel, which will need lots of tweaking before it ever sees the light of day. That was a defining moment that got me serious about writing.

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

Learn your craft. Don't give up. Give yourself permission to write badly. You can always go back and fix things later. The only thing you can't tweak is a blank page.

I stand by that advice, myself. What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I love to read almost anything. My favorites are paranormal and erotic romance, followed by romantic suspense, thrillers, and horror. I have several favorite authors, LOL, too many to list here. Some authors with books on my keeper shelf are Robin Schone, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Karen Marie Moning, and Lynn Kurland.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

The most difficult thing is promotion. I'm a shy person, and it's hard for me to talk about myself. I've had to get over. I've had to get over my shyness and approach people for things. The most exciting and rewarding things for me are when a person loves my book. I've had my books and keeper shelf mentioned. It's a wonderful thing to hear.

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

It is a constant juggling act. I juggle hubby, kids, friends, pets, and the house and hope I don't drop anything. The house is probably what suffers the most.

I can't imagine you ever suffer from writer's block, since you're writing under two names...but do you ever get stuck? If so, what do you do about it?

A hot bubble bath usually helps me get back on track. If I'm really stuck, pushing ahead or writing on something else will sometimes jog lose the stuck portion of my brain.

Describe your writing space for us...

Hee. I have a fairly new wooden desk that I sit at to write on my laptop. It sits in an inset of a room, which we just painted a mellow shade of green. A picture of New York City (with the TradeTowers) hangs in front of it. A signed poster of Kinley MacGregor's Sword of Darkness hands to the wall to the right. Across a doorway, on the far left wall hangs a poster my hubby did for me of my covers to date. It's beautiful. I also have one Snoopy statue and one snowglobe of him writing on top of his doghouse sitting on top of boxes that hold address labels, cards, and such to the left. The words, "It was a dark and stormy night." are etched on the doghouse. A lamp rests on the desk to the right with a tray for "stuff" to the left. The cat generally lays on the desk to the right beside the laptop fan as I tickety type. It's very inspiring. I love my desk.

Oh, it sounds lovely! What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?

That the novel isn't done once you type the end. It takes lots of tweaking from me and rounds of edits before it's truly "finished."

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

I'm a computer writer. My handwriting is horrible especially when my brain pushed on ahead. It's bad when you can't read your own handwriting. Plus, I tweak as I write so would end up scribbling out things and writing in the margins. I'm much happier writing at the keyboard.

Mechele, thanks so much for being here today! Readers, make sure to stop by and visit Mechele's website or Melany's website - and have a great day!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Of Sales, Promotions, and Horse Races

Marianne reminded me yesterday that I should have shown the videos from the 1978 Affirmed-Alydar matchup that resulted in the last Triple Crown winner. So here's the final, the Belmont Stakes, and it's a heck of a race:

Got a nibble yesterday from another bookstore I sent a mailing to, who asked me to send promo items and noted that they'd ordered both One Night in Boston and Lost in Paradise. So that's a good sign - I'll probably offer to stop by this summer (it's about 75 miles north of where I live) and sign copies or do a "meet and greet."

I'll be interested to see how the print sales are for both these books, though it's tough to wait because Samhain, anyway, gives you print royalties only twice a year, 6 months behind the selling period. That means I'll find out about Jan-June sales for this year in December. That's OK - I guess I can wait! Got my royalty statement from The Wild Rose Press yesterday for the first quarter of 2008, and it was pretty disappointing. I know they're focusing more on their ebook/e-short stories than their print books now, so I don't expect print sales for Lost in Paradise to be astronomical.

Live and learn, I suppose.

Monday, June 09, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different

"I think it's better to break a man's leg than his heart." ~from the movie Seabiscuit (2003)

I'm sure a lot of us watched the Belmont Stakes over the weekend, hoping and wondering if Big Brown would become a Triple Crown winner. And without getting into all the conversations about horses on steroids, or the cruelty of the sport (Eight Belles RIP), let me just say that I do love watching them run. They are such magnificent animals.

So I did a little video searching for today's entertainment.

The first is Rags to Riches' victory in last year's Belmont, a tremendous win because she was, of course, a girl. I love the emotion in the announcer's voice:

This one's a 1938 film of Seabiscuit and War Admiral. Watch the people on the infield running back and forth as the race progresses! (By the way, this is a great movie if you haven't seen it):

And finally, if you have the time, here's the classic final race scene from The Black Stallion (also a terrific film - the beach scene early on, which spans 15 minutes without dialogue, is a cinematic masterpiece):

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Summer's Here...

"Do what we can; summer will have its flies." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ugh. Summer has arrived with a vengeance, in her finest array of heat and humidity. We're in the throes of a heat wave here - it was 100 yesterday and is supposed to stay in the upper 90's through Tuesday. And the humidity, of course, just hangs over everything with this awful haze that makes you sweat the minute you step out of the shower...

So I decided to take one more crack at revising Summer's Song yesterday, with all my readers' comments in hand. Maybe it was the heat (I'm hoping) but all I saw were the problems. I had to put it down again after an hour because I was so aggravated with it.


Maybe I'll spend today in the nice cool basement and try again.