Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Great Agent Search

"Forbidden pleasures alone are loved immoderately; when lawful, they do not excite desire." ~Marcus Fabius Quintilian

Check out my lovely author page at The Long and the Short of It ~ don't they do a nice job?


I have begun the agent search for Summer's Song...we'll see how it goes. I read an interview with Gena Showalter the other day & she queried agents every time she finished a novel, for the first 7 she wrote. On the 7th she finally got representation!

So I'm sending out letters to test the waters...I've queried 19 agents and so far received 3 requests for sample chapters and one "no thanks." The nice thing is that I'm happy with Samhain, so if I don't get any bites on this novel, I'll keep writing and submitting to them. I like Summer's Song, don't get me wrong, but my fear is that it isn't "different" enough. Every agent's looking for the next totally original break-out novel, and I don't know in my gut that mine is it.

I do, however, have a story idea that I've been playing around with for the last few weeks. It involves different kinds of forbidden love, a ghost, and a mysterious death - and it was inspired by this piece of real-life news. If I tackle it, it will be different than anything else I've written. I just have to get up the energy!

Friday, June 27, 2008

TGIF: For Extra-Special Reasons, Today!

"I learned just enough in school to figure out that everything is not all there is to know." ~Anonymous

Yesterday one of my colleagues (who came to my launch party and bought Lost in Paradise) said, "I'm so glad that when I'm reading your book, I'm not thinking about you." Pause. "That's supposed to be a compliment." I laughed and said I got it - the heroine is not me and doesn't in any way remind her of me. And yeah, I took it as a compliment :)



What is the weather like today where you live?

Hot and humid - I feel sorry for all the schools that are holding their HS graduations today.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how career-minded are you?

Around a 9, I'd say ~ yesterday's post pretty much explains why.

What type of window coverings do you have in your home? Blinds, curtains, shutters, etc.?

Blinds in most rooms, that sorely need replacement (it's one of the things we haven't touched yet, after moving into this house 3 years ago).

Main Course
Name something that instantly cheers you up.

Either of my cats climbing into my lap and loving me :)

How many times do you hit the snooze button on a typical morning?

Once - more than that and I'm running late...


Last day of school before summer vacation! Woo Hoo!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pomp and Circumstance

"I hope your dreams take you... to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known." ~Anonymous

Last night our school held its annual graduation ceremony...always an overwhelming event. First of all, we graduate about 700 students each year. Miracle of miracles, it only lasts about 90 minutes (yes, really!) and every student gets to walk across the stage and have his/her name read. No speeches, and only 4 big awards given out.

So it doesn't last long.

But it's always a little emotional for me. Once you get past the arriving-two-hours-early-only-to-stand-outside-in-the-sweltering-heat element, and the packed-into-tiny-rows-of-chairs-like-sardines element, it's quite a nice evening.

Really, it is.

I'm caught between being so thrilled to see them graduate and being sad to see them go. Last night's class also managed to add to the mix by giving me a gorgeous and completely thoughtful gift. It's a good thing I was wearing sunglasses when they gave it to me so they couldn't see me tear up (was not going to cry! had spent a good 10 minutes doing my makeup).

And so the end of June always finds me in a melancholy sort of mood. We teachers spend so much time during the year trying to shape our classes, trying to help students learn the curriculum and manage behavior and keep up with grading and in the midst of it all try to form relationships that will help support them as they find their way into the world after they leave us...

It's exhausting.

And then often they tell us, that of all the things we hope they'll remember, they recall something different altogether. They watch us so closely - they see how we live our lives. They catch us in both our strong and our weak moments, and I think they learn more from watching how we carry ourselves, how we interact with others, how we make decisions and deal with adversity, than many of us realize.

My classroom is empty today, and my heart is sad.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Tricia Jones

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm talking with fellow Samhain author Tricia Jones. Sit back and enjoy!

Tricia, thanks for being here today. When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

Although I’ve always made up stories in my head, for years the day job in adult education took up most of my energy. Then in 2000 I had one of those milestone birthdays and asked myself “if not now, when?” That’s when I started to write seriously for publication. I finaled in a couple of contests and that spurred me on to start submitting.

That's terrific - tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

Satin Lies, my latest contemporary romance, was released by Samhain Publishing on 3 June. The setting for Satin Lies is romantic Tuscany, one of my favorite places. It's a story about a woman who tries to protect the man she loves and ends up alienating him. Pregnant, she enters into a marriage of convenience with his brother. But when, years later, an accident claims her husband and leaves her with temporary amnesia, she is forced to confront the past and suffer the consequences of her deception as her former lover takes his revenge.

My first Samhain title, His Convenient Affair, was released in print just yesterday, so it’s been a pretty exciting month.

Wonderful news ~ congratulations! So how do you go about developing your characters?

First I get the germ of an idea for a story and the characters come from that. The characters develop as I write the first draft, by the end of which I know them pretty well. The second draft is when I really flesh them out. At a seminar, years ago, the speaker said that the creation of the characters should always come first and the plot should centre around them. That never seemed to work for me. I just couldn’t figure out how to “get” the characters first and then develop a plot for them. It just didn’t flow right. It took me a long while to trust my own process, thinking I was doing something fundamentally wrong. Now I go with what works for me.

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

Believe in yourself – first, last and always. Listen to the more experienced writers and take advice, but learn to trust your own instincts and do what works for you.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Not sure I’d call it writer’s block but I do stall from time to time. Those days when things just won’t happen no matter how hard you try. What works for me is taking time to do other things—physical stuff like gardening or even, heaven forbid, that pile of ironing that’s been waiting forever. It’s amazing how many times I’ve gotten unstuck while negotiating a particularly difficult drain that needs unblocking, or a stubborn weed that refuses to be pulled.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?

That sometimes you just have to trust the process. While I always have the theme, the black moment and the ending in mind when I start a book, I’m basically a seat of the pants writer and don’t always know where I’m going when I sit down to write. That can be scary, especially when the ideas don’t flow, but if you just keep writing magical things often happen. A book my editor is considering right now started out from a very specific idea, but somehow in the middle it morphed into something completely different and, I hope, better. I don’t begin to know how this works, but someone once said that life’s “magical” processes should never be questioned, just accepted. As long as the words keep flowing, I’m more than happy to go along with that...

Anything else you’d like to mention?

Just to say thank you for having me here today, Allie.

You're welcome! Readers, help Tricia celebrate her awesome release month by visiting her website and her blog, and make to check out her books, too!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Contest! And What Happens When You Google Yourself

"The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom." ~Jon Stewart

I almost forgot to mention that The Wild Rose Press is hosting a contest, all summer long...and the grand prize is a SONY E-Reader! The fun part is that it involves reading some of their authors' works - so here's the link, if you'd like to enter. Great prize!


Have you ever Googled yourself? I read somewhere that 30% of us (or so) have. I was surprised...I thought that number was low. (But maybe I'm just overly curious or narcissistic). Anyway, I Google my pen name every few months to see what turns up. Usually, it's just what I expect, the various places my books are listed or sites where I've blogged or commented. But the other day, I was surprised by two of the search results I found. Apparently, One Night in Boston is for sale on Ebay. I'm not sure that's a good thing, but maybe any exposure is good exposure?

The other link I found was cool: a university library in Iowa offers a continuing ed. course in popular fiction/romance, and my article on the changing genre is one of the links in their course! I thought that was pretty neat...


Go on, do it. You know you want to Google yourself now...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sales Numbers

"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." ~Pablo Picasso

I finally joined the world of 2008 and bought a laptop yesterday, complete with a wireless router so I can actually sit anywhere in my house and connect to the Internet. While I thought this would be a plus (so hubby and I don't have to negotiate time on our desktop), I can see how it can also EASILY become a huge distraction...I can't force myself to just write when with one little click I can be online. Hmm. Must find way to control the urge to surf while I should be turning out pages instead.

Now, to clarify yesterday's blog post, yes, I know that 49 book sales in one afternoon is a lot, and I know I'm a lucky girl to have so many friends and family turn out to support my habit (ahem...writing habit, that is...). I certainly don't anticipate those kind of sales anywhere else I'm going this summer. Hey, I've sat in enough Borders the last few months to know even one sale is good! If you're an author preparing for any kind of appearance, I would just advise to keep an open mind - you really can never tell who will show up or who will want to buy a book. Expect no one to buy anything at all, and you'll be pleasantly surprised if they do.

Finally, help me welcome a new author to blogger land: Dayana Knight, who writes paranormal romance and has a series coming out shortly. Stop by her blog and tell her hello!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Beautiful Day for a Book Launch

"What is the disease which manifests itself in an inability to leave a party—any party at all—until it is all over and the lights are being put out?... I suppose that part of this mania for staying is due to a fear that, if I go, something good will happen and I’ll miss it. Somebody might do card tricks, or shoot somebody else." - Robert Benchley

OK, I lied. I do not have any pictures to share from yesterday's book launch party.

This is primarily because I forgot make sure I had my camera in my purse before I left - add that to the list of things I would change for next time.

Overall, though, it was a rousing success! Beautiful weather, first of all - 80 degrees and sunny all day long. This was nice because the library/resource center where it was held is oh so tiny, so the little front lawn with the extra picnic table was a nice place for people to hang out and chat.

I had lots of munchies and beverages - too much, probably, 'cause now I have lots of leftovers. However, I did discover a scrumptious punch recipe online that got rave reviews (a few people wrote down the recipe before they left the party!). It's down at the bottom of this post, if you're interested.

Most of my guests were family and friends, with a couple locals from the community who dropped in to visit. All in all, I sold 49 books - not too shabby!

What would I do differently next time?

1. Arrive earlier to set up. I didn't leave myself enough time.

2. Remember to eat. In a very weird way, it felt a little like my wedding reception: I was so busy chatting with people that I didn't have a thing to eat or drink all day. Translation: massive headache when it was all over.

3. Have a sign with the book prices. This wasn't crucial, but it would have prevented me from repeating myself 49 times.

Otherwise, for the time and money I spent on 3 hours of one afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised by how it turned out. And I like that every time I do an event, I learn more about my own marketing strategies and things that work/don't work.

On to the next one!


"Angel Punch"

One 12-oz container frozen pink lemonade
20-oz bag frozen strawberries
2 cups water
1 quart vanilla ice cream
2 cups lemon-lime soda

Combine half of all ingredients EXCEPT the soda. Blend in blender until smooth. Transfer to serving dish and repeat with the other half of ingredients. Chill until time to serve, then pour soda over the top.

Really, it was DELICIOUS - everyone loved it~