Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

“For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.” ~T.S. Eliot

Wow, here we are, another New Year's Eve. What are your plans? Something out and extravagant? Or something quiet and at home? Will you stay up to see the ball drop or raise a glass earlier and go to bed long before the stroke of midnight?

There's something about a new year that inspires us to change, to reach, to set goals or perhaps reflect on those we set one year ago. It's like a Monday. Or the first day of summer break. Or the day you wake up after a loss and realize this really is the first day of a whole new existence.

I'm not sure what I'd like to accomplish in 2011. I'd like to continue to enjoy my health - that's probably my #1 goal. I'd like to sign another publishing contract - that's a close #2. I'd like to travel someplace I've never been before and I'd like to meet someone new.

I think that's enough for today. Mostly, I'd like to remember to take advantage of every day, to appreciate the little things and always keep a positive outlook. And you? My wish for all you blog readers is that you have a safe, warm, wonderful 2011 - and that whatever your dreams and goals are, they come true!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Words from Writer's Digest

Time for my round-up of the January 2011 Writer's Digest - there are always so many good nuggets of information, it's tough to pull out my favorites. But here you go!

One author featured in the Debut Writers section talked about finding his first agent. He rewrote the entire structure of his book, which took several months, and then ultimately the agent who requested that change declined representation. In the end, though, he found an agent based on that revision. Talk about believing in yourself even after rejection!

***
"8 Ways to Write a 5-Star Chapter Chapter One" has terrific advice for tackling that challenging part of a novel. My favorite piece of advice: agents are editors are looking for "honest, original, and brave" writing - not perfect or careful. Free yourself to be daring & different, and that's what can grab them. Among two "great chapter ones" mentioned: Jane Eyre and Little House in the Big Woods.

"Hooked on a Feeling" talks about emotion-driven ways to develop characters. Among the advice I really liked: make a list of people from your life (include a few physical details & their effect on you) that could include the following: a family member you're close to a family member you dislike, your first love, your greatest love, the person from childhood who annoyed you most, the person from adulthood who annoys you most, your favorite co-worker, an older person who inspires you, a person you deal with on a daily basis...There are more, but that gets you started thinking how many real-life characters you can draw from when you write.

And "What to do When Your Novel Stalls" was great for me because I am STILL struggling through a 3rd? 4th? revision of Entwined. The article compares fixing your novel to diagnosing and repairing a car and has some good advice for jump-starting problem areas or dealing with your own insecurites and doubts: "Expecting too much from an early draft will result in frustration and disappointment. You write a first draft in order to have something to revise. It will be a failure. Writers are the ones who don't let failure stop them."

***
There are also great articles on finding a mentor, saving face after email gaffes, and other secrets to great story-telling.

OK, venture forth and create! Happy writing :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday Mentionables: Regrouping After the Holiday

Well, we didn't get a white Christmas after all - but the snow arrived last night, about 6" worth. Depending on where you are, you probably got more than we did!

Hope everyone had a nice holiday - ours was busy but filled with friends and family, all the most important things we need :) I actually blogged over at Samhain on December 25th - if you didn't have a chance to see it, please stop by and check it out :) The post was inspired by a conversation hubby and I had a couple days before the holiday, all about shopping for people and how we decide what to buy.

And here are some pictures from our Christmas!




Stockings (sans mantle)


Smooch helping to open gifts, of course

Hanna, our exchange student, making traditional Norwegian Christmas porridge


Yum!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Little Things

So...last Sunday night, I got up around 1 am to feed my cats who were wandering around making noise. Put them in the basement, turned around to go back upstairs, and tripped on the very first step (thanks in part to the fuzzy socks I was wearing). I landed HARD, really hard, and caught myself on my right ankle and left hand.

Wowowow....the pain in my ankle was incredible. All I could think was "Hope I didn't break it." Made it upstairs, found some ice, lay down on the couch, and hoped it was OK.

Next morning: a little swollen, more than a little black and blue, but definitely not broken. I showed my husband my battle scars, which also included a swollen & bruised left ring finger - it had definitely hurt the night before, but not nearly as much as the ankle. So I ignored it.

Live and learn. By the end of the day Monday, my finger was discolored and even more swollen. By the time I woke up on Tuesday, it had gotten worse. Yesterday afternoon, I decided I'd better have it looked at - and since I work with a group of nurses, they recommended I have a jeweler cut off the rings rather than whatever type of hacksaw they use in the ER.

So I did. The woman who did it was lovely, though she kept apologizing because yeah, it hurt, and I'm sure I was flinching. The worst part by far, though, was knowing she was cutting off my engagement and wedding rings - straight through the "ETERNAL LOVE" inscription. Sigh.

Went to the ER, got an x-ray, found out I have a teeny tiny fracture in the finger, and came home with a funky looking splint. So small. Barely visible on the film. Yet it swelled up my finger to twice its normal size.

I know they're just rings. But I didn't expect to be so upset to lose them that way. Yes, the jeweler can fix them. But it's funny how a symbol like that can grow to mean so much over the years...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday's Mentionables: Racing with the Clock

Working like a maniac to finish grading all students' papers for the fall semester...see you back here later this week!




Friday, December 17, 2010

Turning the Big 4-0

"We don't understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it." ~ Jules Renard

So it's come and gone...my 40th birthday.

This past Wednesday, I officially hit the big 4-0. I figured I would blog today about something profound that comes with turning 40. I Googled "good things about turning 40" and found a zillion (well, a lot anyway) websites, including one called turning40.net. So if you're approaching a milestone birthday, I guess you can find comfort and humor by turning to the Internet,

But I wanted to think of my own profound statements to make. I thought I might have some kind of wisdom. I thought I might feel differently. But really? I don't, not much. In fact, the only thing I really feel is pretty damn pleased. When I look at my life -- my career, my relationships, my health -- I can't ask for more. I'm satisfied -- really, completely satisfied. This is not to say that there aren't things I still dream of (that six-figure book advance would be nice), but I have to say that every day I wake up happy and healthy and full of energy and surrounded by good friends and excited students and family who love me.

Can't really ask for more than that, can I? 40 is just a number. I figure I've earned my wrinkles, my heartache, and my accomplishments, every one of them. So yeah, I'm gonna celebrate and keep on living just the way I am. Here's to the next 40!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday's Mentionables: A Day in NYC!

Spent this past Saturday in New York City as part of an exchange student day trip (which, by the way, I don't ever recommend...NYC in December, that is). While we did luck out on the weather (4o and mild), the crowds were CRAZY, especially in mid-town Manhattan. Having said that, though, we enjoyed some nice sights....AND had a terrific surprise at the end of the day (scroll down to the last pic to see what it was!)



The tree in Rockefeller Center, with all the skaters below


Enjoying the view on South Street Seaport (and a gang of drunken Santas, behind us)


We headed uptown at the end of the evening, to Columbus Circle and the mall there...


Where we went into Borders and found my latest release on the shelves in the romance section!!! I almost fell over in disbelief! No better Christmas present for my writing career :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday's Fun Facts: Party Pics!

Note for any locals:

I'll be at the Barnes and Noble in Newburgh, New York this Sunday from 3-5 pm as part of a weekend-long Book Fair sponsored by one of our local public high schools. A perecentage of any sales go to the school's library, and there'll be features from student activity groups (and local authors like me) both days. Stop by if you're around - great time to holiday shop!

****

And some pictures from my 40th birthday party, last weekend. Lots of fun!


Some of the girls from the gym


My oldest friend from grade school, who came in from Boston to help celebrate

Hubby!




The family: my husband, Mom, sister, and brother-in-law


Monday, December 06, 2010

Monday Mentionables: Getting into the Holiday Spirit

Whew, what a weekend! We had family and friends in town to celebrate an early Christmas AND my (a little early) 40th birthday! Pictures to follow later this week, so make sure you check back.

The Christmas spirit is definitely in the air, though, and not just because we exchanged stockings and gifts here Saturday morning. Lights are strung outside, wreaths are hung, stores are filled with decorations, and carols and TV specials fill the airwaves. Last night we watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" with Hanna (our Norwegian exchange student). I hadn't watched either of them in years, so it was fun to see them again. True classics, that's for sure. We also talked about our favorite Christmas movies of all time. Mine: "It's a Wonderful Life." Hers: "Love, Actually" (I didn't even know it was a Christmas movie, but OK). Hubby's: "A Christmas Story."

What are your favorites?




Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Buy Yourself a Blog

Heads up, fellow writers: here's an opportunity you might be interested in looking into...

Lynda Coker is holding an auction to transfer ownership of her blog, Between the Lines. This seems to be a pretty well-established blog, with supposedly 800+ followers (though blog comments don't necessarily indicate a high level of involvement). Still, if you're looking to blog or maybe do some new promo and want a built-in audience of this kind, her auction might be worth looking into. She'll post the current bid amount at the top of her blog. Bidding runs through December, and ownership will transfer in February 2011.

It's an interesting concept. Time magazine this week has a feature on the changes from 2000 - 2010, and one of those is that the number of established blogs went from 3 million in 2004 to 130 million in 2010. Do people read them? Absolutely. Do they affect book sales, if we're talking specifically about authors? Hard to tell. I do think readers enjoy getting to know the authors they love in a blog sort of format. But does a blog exponentially increase sales? I'm reserved on that one. Other types of promo do more, I think. Regardless, blogs are a FREE way to interact with readers, so the chance to "buy" one that's already established is definitely an interesting concept to consder.

Good luck bidding!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Post-Thanksgiving!

Well, did everyone enjoy a nice Thankgiving holiday and weekend? We certainly did. Here are some pictures from the day:


In preparation for the big dinner, Smooch waits patiently in his chosen spot

Friends and family enjoy the company and good food!

We also braved the crowds and the stores for Black Friday early morning shopping - anyone else that crazy? We've done it every year for the past 4 or 5, so now it's become a bit of a crazy tradition. We don't go SUPER early, but we were out of the house by 4:30 and scored a Canon digital camera, a SONY digital camera, ski clothes, a step stool and some other household items, all for really great prices. After a well-earned breakfast, we were home by 9:00 am - not bad!

I wanted to give a mention to my writing friend Diane Craver, who has 2 Christmas stories out in time for the holidays. Stop by her blog to find out more about them! Perfect gift for someone who's tough to buy for...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy (Early) Thanksgiving!

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. ~H.U. Westermayer

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart


Wishing everyone a very (early) blessed Thanksgiving Day! I'm so thankful for much in my life: my family, friends, health, job, students, books, and lifestyle that allows me to wake up every day safe, warm, and not having to worry about how to pay my bills or put food on the table.

I hope you are equally able to celebrate all the riches in your life - enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday's Mentionables: Author Promotion at AAD 2011

OK, fellow authors, here's the deal: next August, I'll be attending the Authors After Dark Conference in Philadelphia. This is a conference where readers can mingle with authors - talk to their favorites and find new ones as well. For authors, there are a plethora of promotional opportunities, among them the chance to host a table in the hospitality rooms, food breaks during the conference, happy hours, etc. If authors go in together in sponsoring one of the events, obviously, it costs less per person.

So...I'm interested in knowing if any authors out there are interested in co-sponsoring an event at the AAD Conference. Doesn't mean you have to attend, obviously - it will still be a chance for you to get your name and your books out there in front of readers.

If you'd like to know more about the options available, and the various prices involved, send me an email at allieb@allieboniface.com and we can chat!

Happy Monday...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Two Newsletters Worth Checking Out

Two quick but really good links for writers today:

WOW - Women on Writing's Ezine - it's all about freelance work as a writer this month.

and

The Knight Agency's Newsletter - you can sign up for a free subscription just by visiting their site. Great updates about what's going on with their agency and in the industry overall.

Happy writing!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Mentionables: A Good Week for Writing :)

One of the nicest things about attending a writers' group meeting is being inspired to write again. This past Saturday, I went to my local HVRWA meeting, featuring a visit by editor Trish Owens from The Wild Rose Press. While a lot of what she spoke about focused on erotice romance, since that's the line she edits for TWRP, she had some helpful tips for all writers. Plus it was just nice to be around other writers who are busy pecking away and sending out work for publication. It inspired me enough to spend a lot of Sunday working on a short story that's been on my back burner for a while.

I also had a Borders signing Saturday afternoon, and I sold a respectable 16 books - about half to people I didn't know, always a good thing! I mean, I love my friends who show up to support me, but it's also nice to have strangers either discover you or deliberately seek out your books because they know your writing already.

One more appearance for the year, Barnes and Noble next month - just 2 weeks before Christmas, so I'm hoping that will be a good day as well.

How was your weekend?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fun Facts

Two events this Saturday: my local HVRWA meeting, featuring an editor from The Wild Rose Press.

And then a book signing from 2-4 PM at the Borders in Middletown, New York - the first time Summer's Song will be available in print for sale and signing!

In honor of Veteran's Day yesterday, I thought this was a fitting video tribute:


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: To Blog or Not to Blog?

I am a bad blogger.

I mean, about a year ago I switched from writing every day to writing 3 days a week. I know I lost a few followers, but what's a girl with a full-time job to do?

And I rarely have the time to visit and comment on other people's blogs. I know that's poor blog etiquette, and believe me, I'd really like to have the time to do that...I just don't. If it comes down to 30 minutes when I could write or I could read blogs and comment on them, I'd probably write.

I know that authors' online presences are crucial. I know readers look for blogs, Facebook accounts, Twitter updates, and all that good stuff. Sigh. I just don't have the time to keep up. I read an article the other day about a romance author who's been writing for 20+ years and doesn't even have a website. She doesn't feel left out. Of course, she has a solid following and probably doesn't have to worry about luring new readers with daily blog posts or giveaway contests or witty Tweets.

I'd like to be that kind of author. Unfortunately, in today's technology age, those of us who are just starting to build a reader base need to tap into all the avenues we can, and online, free contact with readers is an easy way to do that.

Which brings me back to square one. I like to do it. I'd like to do more of it. And I'd like to devote a little bit of time each day to connecting with other authors online as well. But the brutal truth is that from September to June, it's awfully hard to do that. So as long as I have this full-time day job, I'll do what I can and save the rest of my time for writing.

Thanks for hanging around and humoring me. When I become a best-selling author, maybe I'll quit my day job and update my Facebook page/Tweet twenty times a day. Until then, well, I'll see you around when I can lol.........

Monday, November 08, 2010

Monday Mentionables: News from the Agent Front

Well, in case you haven't heard, the big news in the agenting world is that Nathan Bransford is leaving agenting to work in the tech industry, as of sometime mid-last week, apparently. I think it came as a shock to everyone - he's a very popular agent who ran/runs a very popular blog. I did submit my YA to him and got back this response late last week:

Thank you for your note. I am no longer an agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. and will now be working in the tech industry. If you'd like to submit to another agent at Curtis Brown Ltd., please visit our website for a list of agents and our submission guidelines:

http://www.curtisbrown.com

Interesting to know that he's leaving the world of agenting...wonder why? Anyone hear any scuttlebutt?

In other (semi-related) news, I currently have my full YA manuscript out with 3 agents, two of whom requested the full from the initial query, and one who requested a partial and synopsis and then (within a day) requested the full. Times back will vary from 1 to 3 months, so I have to settle down and not expect anything soon. Will keep you posted!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: Summer's Song Releases in Print!


In all the excitement of my reading at Lady Jane's Salon this week, I forgot to mention that Summer's Song released in print on Tuesday! I love this book (the cover too - yummy!) and am thrilled to have it out in the print world.

For locals, I have 2 upcoming appearances where this book will be available - both are listed on the sidebar to the right. Hope to see some of you there!

And to remind you what this story is about, here's the trailer. Have a great weekend!



Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Lady Jane's Salon is the Place to Be!



Ah, Lady Jane's Salon! What a wonderful night of reading and mingling in Greenwich Village! Though I was terribly nervous (I know, I know - I talk in front of people all the time. but this was different), I survived and even managed to enjoy myself a little bit, mostly about halfway through my reading when I realized I wasn't going to pass out from nerves.

The place itself is a narrow little bar with a separate room upstairs decorated entirely in red, with cushy couches and ottomans everywhere. About 10 of my own friends joined me, some who live in the city and some who came down from my hometown about 60 miles north. I'd say there were maybe 50 people attending in all. Four authors read (I chose to go first, to get it over with and so I wouldn't have to follow anyone), and the nice thing is that we all write in different genres of romance.

I was also pleasantly surprised that at the end of the night, one of the Salon founders asked me to write a blog post for their blog, reflecting on the night. They always ask one of of the four readers...I'm flattered to be the chosen one this month!

If you're ever in NYC on the first Monday of a month, and you're a romance fan, I highly recommend stopping by Madame X at 94 West Houston Street between 7 and 9 pm. At the very least, you can't beat the $5 cocktails!

Here are a few pictures to sum up the night:


Reading on the stage...thank goodness for bright lights, so I couldn't see much beyond my book!



With my husband and a signature "Madame X" cocktail after my reading


Joined by a girlfriend from college who now lives and works in the city!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Monday Mentionables: An Evening in NYC

Reading/signing at Lady Jane's Salon in NYC tonight! From 7-9 pm I'll be joining Stella Price, Terence Taylor and Sarah MacLean for a wonderful evening for romance readers and writers alike. Join me back here on Wednesday for a full recap + pictures!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: From Halloween to December

Ooh, almost Halloween! Everyone have their costumes ready? Not sure what our plans are for the big day, though we'll be taking our exchange student to a parrt Saturday night. She's dressing up as a nun, with a few friends from school. They decided since most teenage girls take Halloween as an opportunity to wear the skimpiest outfit they possibly can, this group would go as far as they could in the opposite direction. I love it!





And I've added another appearance to my schedule, December 12th at 3:00 pm in the Newburgh, NY, Barnes & Noble. Actually, it's through one of my student's community service clubs. They're having a few different activities throughout the weekend, and one includes "book talks" by local authors. I'm thrilled and think it will be a great chance to target some different readers than I normally do in this area.

So if you're around, mark your calendars and stop by!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Mentionables: Piers Anthony and Brenda Hiatt

There's been a discussion on one of my author loops recently about Piers Anthony's site. For those of you who don't know, he posts information regarding ebook publishers and updates the entries (fairly) regularly based on author feedback. I read his site often in my early days of looking for publishers, and though I don't check in that often anymore, every once in a while it's interesting to see what he has to say.

Other authors on my loop, though, have issued MAJOR caveats about his site, claiming that he often posts only one side of an author altercation and can make a publisher sound worse than it actually is. As with anything else on line, folks, it's surfer beware. Take advice with a grain of salt and do your research in more than one place if you can.

Speaking of online sources, though, here's a link to Brenda Hiatt's "Show Me the Money" site, listing romance publishers and their average advances/payouts for authors. Always interesting to peruse (and thanks Wendy for the updated link!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: Agent Search Update

Happy Friday!

Update on agent search: one request for synopsis + full manuscript - very exciting! Without mentioning specifics, this is a junior agent at a NYC agency who is just starting to acquire/sell YA. There are, of course, 2 thoughts on this: she hasn't sold a lot and perhaps does not have the connections that a more seasoned YA agent would have; but she also is actively seeking YA in a variety of genres to build her list. I'll keep you posted!

*****

And just for fun, on this day in history...

1797
Andre-Jacques Garnerin made the first parachute jump from a balloon.

1836
Sam Houston was inaugurated as the first president of the Republic of Texas.

1907
Ringling Brothers bought Barnum & Bailey.

1918
The cities of Baltimore and Washington ran out of coffins during the "Spanish Inflenza" epidemic.

1938
Chester Carlson invented the photocopier. He tried to sell the machine to IBM, RCA, Kodak and others, but they saw no use for a gadget that made nothing but copies.

1962
U.S. revealed Soviet missile sites in Cuba. President Kennedy ordered a naval and air blockade on further shipment of military equipment to Cuba.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Author Appearance November 13th

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."
Benjamin Franklin

Hey all, a new signing by Yours Truly: I'll be appearing with fellow romance writers Stella Price, Tilly Greene, and Cat Johnson on Saturday, November 13th at Borders in the Galleria Mall in Middletown, New York. Time still to be determined, but most likely in the afternoon. I'll keep you posted!

And my writing friend Liz is busily reading 4 excerpts I just sent her from Summer's Song, to help me decide which I should read at Lady Jane's November 1st. It's a tougher decision than I first thought...I want something with spice and action, but not too far along in the story, probably with some dialogue but not strictly conversation, and a sprinkling of narrative but not too much. Yikes! Choices, choices...Liz, I can't wait for your insight!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday's Mentionables

Two mentionables for today:

My local writers' group, Hudson Valley Romance Writers of America, will feature an editor from Wild Rose Press at its November meeting. Trish Owens will be discussing the various lines AND accepting pitches! Woo hoo...very exciting, so if you're local and interested, here's our webpage for more info and to RSVP.

I thought this article about ebooks gaining in popularity was interesting. Especially in developing countries, where it's more practical to send an ebook reader loaded with ebooks than an entire library of books, the growth looks to be exponential. Maybe ebooks and ebook readers really will take over more quickly than anticipated...

Hmm...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday's Fun Facts

Thanks to all who gave me a thumbs-up after Wednesday's post talking my 3 quick agent rejections...but not necessary! Really. There are so many outstanding agents out there. Maybe my book will spark an interest for one of them. Maybe not. Rejection is part of the publishing world. If my book isn't published this time around, maybe I'll rework it. Maybe I'll shelve it for a while. One thing I know: of course I'll keep writing. You must develop a thick skin as a writer, and you must have confidence in your own abilities and keep pushing onward. You must.



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: 3 Quick "No's"

Hi folks, no time to blog today except to give you the YA agent search update:

3 rejections since I sent off letters on Monday, two based on a query + 5 sample pages, and one based on query alone.

Now I'm off to bury myself under a pile of papers still waiting to be graded...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday's Mentionables: The Agent Search Begins

Yesterday I began my YA agent search and sent out about 8 email queries to agents in my "A" group (I have an "A" and a "B" group, for what it's worth - those who would be dream agents, and those who I'd still like to work with even though they might not be as perfect a fit). I'll admit, I did have a moment of thinking "Should I be sending queries at 8:00 pm on a Sunday night of a holiday weekend?" but then decided that agents who accept email queries are pretty open-minded about when those queries actually arrive in their in-box.

I focused my agent search in a few places: the forums at Absolute Write, because those people run the gamut from new author to published expert; AgentQuery, since it's a nice straight-forward compilation and you can search agents by keyword; and the latest issue of Writer's Digest, which listed 27 agents cuurently open to new authors (not all YA, of course, but there were quite a few who were). One thing I found interesting: on one agent's website (can't remember which one), she wrote that she was interested in any YA sub-genre EXCEPT those featuring vampires or zombies. Maybe the Twilight craze is finally dying down?

At this point, I'm sending out email queries only. I found it interesting that there are still quite a few agents (even well-known, well-established ones) who accept postal mail queries only. Seems like such a waste of trees and time, especially now in the 21st century.

So...I will keep you posted! Today I need to work on my synopsis for the book (hate writing those), since I skipped those agents last night who want synopses in the query. Blech. Sample pages, fine. Synopsis, yuck. But a couple of those agents are on my "A" list, so looks like I'll spent at least part of this holiday from school working on my summarizing skills.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: Doing my Best to Make a Name

This past week, I was browsing in my local Borders, and I passed a table labeled "Featured Paperbacks." Imagine my total surprise and THRILL when I saw 2 of my books on the table - next to one by Jennifer Crusie! Wow wow wow...I have no idea what prompted it, but I do know the managers there. Maybe one felt like featuring a local author! Such a rush :)

I'm getting ready for my reading at Madame X's on November 1st - mark your calendars! At 7 pm I'll be joining 3 other authors, Stella Price, Sarah MacLean, and Terence Taylor for a featured reading at Lady Jane's Salon. I'm definitely nervous, but fellow author Cat Johnson, who read in September, was kind enough to share her tips. Among them: practice reading my selection OUT LOUD, bring water, and string together scenes that are engaging enough to be read but skip if I need to. It's not like anyone will be following along with the book!

And it's actually perfect timing, since Summer's Song releases the day after, November 2nd. Here's to keeping my nerves under control and making some sales! (And having some fun, since a few girlfriends are joining me for drinks and moral support)

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Pop Culture

"I'll have what she's having."

One thing that's interesting about having an exchnage student are the cultural references that pop up and need explaining. And isn't it funny where they come from? The other day we were grocery shopping and in the frozen food section. I said, "What about tater tots? Should we get some?" She didn't know what they were, so I tried to explain - and then immediately thought of the movie Napoleon Dynamite, which became this weid cult-like cultural hit a few years back. I've seen it at least 10 times and still laugh.

And then yesterday I was shopping sans exchange student and texting a girlfriend - and all of a sudden a turn in the conversation both led us to think of the famous deli scene from When Harry Met Sally:



Isn't it interesting how certain movies can resonate for their silliness, for the phrases they add to our modern-day culture, even years/decades later?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Monday Mentionables: The End

"It's beautiful," I say as we watch flakes catch in the white lights strung along the tree branches outside. It's true. The first snow of the season always is.

The End.

Finished! I finally had a chance to finish the 3rd revision of my YA novel, All the Girls, over the weekend. Ahh...what a great feeling :)

It ended up at 60K words, a little longer than I had originally planned, but perfect length for YA. Sooo...my goal this week is to go through my list of agents and begin sending query letters. This will be interesting, as I haven't sent an agent query in a while. Have my letter written, but I need to go back through and refine now that the story is done.

And then, well, we'll see. YA is a tough market right now, since it's so popular. Dystopian worlds along with vampires are big, and my book is neither. But I still believe contemporary can hold its own. Let's hope, anyway.

I'll keep you posted on my journey!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: The Raven Halloween Hunt Begins!


Raven Halloween Hunt begins today! Click on the banner below for more information - lots of great prizes, including a signed copy of my novel One Night in Napa! Have a wonderful weekend, and happy hunting :)



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Let's Talk About Muses

"Muses work all day long and then at night get together and dance." ~ Edgar Degas

Any time I interview a fellow author, or any time I answer interview questions, one of those questions inevitably is "What inspires your writing?" or something similar. This question is not, in fact, the same as "Where do you get your ideas?" though it's a close relative.

I find the idea question much easier to answer. Ideas come from everywhere! Dreams, newspaper articles, personal interactions, "what-if" thoughts while working out. A single image, or a single sentence, can sometimes become the impetus behind a storyline.

But the inspiration question is a little trickier. What inspires us to write? What moves us to pick up the pen and build something out of nothing? For me, I started writing romance because I loved the idea of two people together. I loved the twists and turns of emotion. I also loved the power of language, the way a simple phrase could make your heart ache. And I still write for all these reasons. But let's be honest: it becomes harder to find "inspiration" when you have a deadline to meet or when the pressure of another book looms over you. We lose the freedom to let emotion and fantasy move us with the wind, whenever the mood strikes.

Let's talk about Muses for a minute. Anyone have one? The most famous, of course, is probably Dante's Beatrice, whom he met when they were both children. Even though she never returned his love and in fact died young, history tells us he wrote in her honor, to put his great unrequited love on a pedestal. Sigh. What a love story, huh? I'll be honest: I think Muses today are a lot harder to find. Maybe it's just that I don't hear about the Dantes of the 21st century. Maybe it's that times have changed, and writers don't need the angst of emotion to move them.

What do you think: do we write in the abstract honor of a soulmate? Do we picture an unrequited lover as we're creating our next story? Or do we simply take inspiration from the family and friends and everyday life experiences around us?

How do you answer this question in your own author interview? Is there a single person in your life who makes your pen (or keyboard) sing? Or are you inspired in other ways?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Mentionables: A Timely Article, A Scavenger Hunt, and A Picture to Remind You of Summer...

Sigh. No time to write these days. Barely time to keep up with the dishes, laundry, and all the essays that need to be graded by moi in a timely manner. My YA is beckoning me, waiting for me to finish that 3rd revision, but I'm stuck about 30 pages from the end.

In an interesting sidenote to my YA (which you might recall is a modern-day Lysistrata where the girls of a small-town HS band together and stop dating the boys 'til they stop partying so much)......this article appeared in my local newspaper. Perfect for my cause. Now, do you think I can photocopy it and include it with agent queries? Hmm. Maybe not.

Oh, and in other news, I'm a participating author in the Raven Halloween Hunt, which will run through October and include fantastic prizes by a multitude of authors. It opens October 1st, and I'll have more information about it right here on Friday.

Finally, here's a picture of how I did spend part of my weekend, enjoying the lovely summer weather at a local state park with our exchange student from Norway:



Happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Writer's Wednesday: Facebook 150 Years Ago

Busy, busy morning for me, so the only thing I'll leave you with today is the nudge to go on over and visit my writing friend Liz's blog post - a spoof on what if Facebook was around at the time of Gone with the Wind?

Of course, if you're a regular Facebook user you'll find it funnier than if you're not, but it's still a good chuckle. Clever job, Liz!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Mentionables: Writer's Digest October Issue

My regular monthly Writer's Digest summary:

My favorite feature this month: a round-up of literary agents who are actively seeking new material (most of them list YA, so even better!)

Also included in this issue are sample query letters that were successful in landing agents. I do find those helpful, but only to a certain extent. A letter that appeals to one agent will cross another's desk and receive a rejection. Some agents like a certain "hook" or a funky voice, while others don't. Beyond that (a couple agents actually admitted this), luck is part of the process as well.

Rachel Kincaid, assistant to agent Ann Collette, shares her thoughts on what gets a query past the first reader to the agent herself: make sure your query covers the basics with NO errors in grammar or spelling; keep your query short and simple - no long, flowery descriptive passages of your plotline; make sure the pace of your book (especially the sample chapters you send!) is crisp and fast-moving.

An interview with Alice Walker and advice on how to revise from a critique round out my top reads in Writer's Digest this month. If you don't subscribe, you should!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: Neat Word Trivia

Next time you're at a cocktail party and need some word trivia:

Almost is the only word in the English language in which all the letters appear in alphabetical order.


Facetiously is the only word in the English language in which all the vowels appear in alphabetical order.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: The Value of a Backlist

My tip for the day: keep writing. I just got my royalty statements for last month/last quarter, and they supported what pro writers say all along: when you release a new book (or have a big promo push on one), inevitably your sales for the others go up. Yes, it has happened for me every time. And this isn't just true for e-books or print releases; I've found the sales cross over. My One Night in Boston ebook sales have been high for a few months now (thanks to Samhain's Amazon Kindle Freebie back in April), but I noticed for the first time that the print sales of that book were also up in the months following, as well as ebooks and print copies of my other titles. Looks like those who buy in both formats will seek out their favorite from you.

Sidenote: this seems to be true even if your reviews aren't what you hoped. As I mentioned a while ago, the Amazon reviews for One Night in Boston hover around a 2.5/5 - certainly not stellar. Despite that, sales weren't incredibly hurt by those reviews. So develop a thick skin and take reader reviews with a grain of salt (or don't read them at all, which is what I've taken to doing, honestly).

So if you're a first-time author and are worried that sales are low, yes, work on promo and establishing a name for yourself especially online - but also keep writing. You'll find your royalty profits grow with every release you have.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Mentionables: An Interview with Fiona Jayde


Welcome and happy Monday! Today I'm hosting Fiona Jayde, whose book Night Haven releases next week. She's stopping by to visit with readers and tell you a little about herself and her writing...so enjoy!

Fiona, can you tell us a little about your background?

I’m actually from Russia, having learned English by watching "Growing Pains" and reading Nora Roberts. I’m lucky in that I was in an age where I could learn English while retaining my love for Russian books (I re-read Three Musketeers in Russian every year).

When did you first start writing? Any particular experience jumpstart your writing career?

I’ve always wrote but never have finished anything I started. A few years ago, I discovered Angela Knight, who literally jumpstarted my writing career. She is such a terrific lady – and is incredibly supportive of newbie authors. I had read a blog she had written which talked about those of us striving for perfection in those first three chapters and never moving past them to finish a story – which was me to the letter. Following her advice I had finished a story, and had been writing ever since!

Tell us about your latest project/publication.

My latest release is called Night Haven, a kickass paranormal romance coming September 21 from Samhain Publishing. Night Haven is a first glimpse into the world of bloodwolves who were created to protect humans from vampire hunger for blood. In Night Haven, the bloodwolf Dina finds herself dangerously attracted to a vampire – and looses her ability to shift as a result.

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

I would probably give the same advice that got me over the hump from “wanting to write” to actually “writing”. Stop expecting perfection and write. Keep that butt in the chair and write. Finish something, even if the first draft is complete crap. Its always easier to fix a bad page then a blank page. (I think Nora Roberts said that last part – and its so true!)

What do you find most challenging about writing?

For me, the most challenging aspect is cohesively tying together the plot lines in such a way that builds the story and the characters. I’m fairly dyslexic and I change my mind A LOT – so keeping track of 100 mile per minute ideas can be hard! Luckily I have a number of tools to help me – including a husband with exceptional memory.

Most rewarding?

The most reward aspect is to actually find the “road map” to tie in all the pieces together. I think my Sci Fi novella Cold Victory accomplished that really well – I had a hard time connecting all my ideas together – the biological bond between the Hero and Heroine, the intergalactic war, the politics of ravaged government, the shortage of supplies… And in the end, I wouldn’t have been able to build the story without any of those plot strings.

What is your favorite spot to write?


I usually write somewhere comfy where I can sit cross-legged and slouch and let my fingers fly on the keyboard. I’m finishing up organizing my writing cave actually – complete with a water fountain and miniature Chinese terra-cotta warrior statues. Hopefully they’ll bring me some ideas!

What writing project will you be working on next?

I’m currently working on the next novella in the Bloodwolf series – Night Legacy, which explores deeper the ability of a bloodwolf to shift, and their age-old war with vampires.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Oh man, what DON’T I like to do? I paint (I love Bob Ross videos), I play piano (amateur jazz), I do graphic and web design, and when I get really motivated I go to the local Mixed Martial Arts club to learn from the guys how to really stick it to a punching bag. I also love to read and watch Netflix (currently watching the Tudors), spending time with the hubster and the cats (I have two).

Any favorite movies? Have they inspired your writing in any way?

I LOOOVE Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. The sexual tension between Han and Leia is legendary. I also am a big Buffy The Vampire Slayer fanatic – the episode where she lost her strength actually was the inspiration behind Night Haven!

Thanks so much for being here today, Fiona! Readers, mark your calendars and watch for the release of Night Haven, coming next week!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Remembering September 11th

"The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom." ~Rudolph W. Giuliani


Tomorrow it will be 9 years since that terrible day of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In honor of those who lost their lives that day, a moment of silence and respect...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Revise, Revise and Repeat

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." ~ Ben Franklin

As a new school year begins, I inevitably start my list-of-things-to-mention to my new students about their English essays. I always have a standard list of words to avoid in their writing, which includes "thing" "got" "stuff" and "etc" though I do sometimes add others.

But in prepping for my classes, I do think about my own writing too (one of the definite perks of teaching writing: it makes you self-reflect). And I think of my own words/actions/cliches to avoid. It's funny, but I find myself falling into using the same word/action/phrase/sentence structure often in a work. I'm getting better, but it still happens. In my early writing, it was the word "sigh." All my characters were sighing around: as they spoke, as they fell in love, as they pined over their lost love...well, you get the picture.

In my YA, it seems to be either shrugging or cocking/tilting the head. I don't know why, but as I'm revising, I find that my major characters have this mannerism at one point or another. Odd, right?

Of course, the easiest way to solve this is to use your Find/Replace option in your word processing program. I find it incredibly helpful, and I'm always amazed that even when I think I've found them all and changed enough of them, others pop up that I missed.

Writers, what about you? Do you fall into the trap of using and re-using a certain term or phrase or character trait?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Monday Mentionables

Mentionable #1: Spent the weekend in Washington, D.C. with our Norwegian exchange student (pics to follow!). We were blessed with wonderful weather both days and had a chance to see the major memorials and a couple of the museums. Worth mentioning: the newly established WWII Memorial. It is just gorgeous: a circular memorial with a pool & fountains in the center and quotes engraved around the entire monument.

Mentionable #2: Am currently reading We Need to Talk About Kevin, an award-winning novel about a 15-year old school shooter - told through letters written from his mother to his (estranged) father. Really, it's a study in motherhood, and what happens when a child isn't the burbling, happy, normally-developing child you thought you'd have, and when motherhood isn't the traditionally fulfilling experience you expected. It's very, very good so far. Anyone else read it?

Mentionable #3: It's so hard to find time to write once school starts! I have about 75 pages of my YA to finish revising, and I can see the end in sight, but between grading papers and planning lessons and keeping up with the basics of the household, somehow all my time in every day is just gone! Must figure out a way to work in a little writing before months pass by...

Friday, September 03, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: Lady Jane's Salon!

Have any plans for the long weekend? (That don't involve visits to the East Coast beaches??) We're spending 3 days in Washington D.C. with our exchange student - got a good deal on hotel rooms and figured it was one of those must-do trips for someone visiting from another country. Any suggestions for best things to see and do? We've been once before, but it's been a while...

***

And in totally unrelated news, here's a plug for my fellow writing friend Cat Johnson, who'll be appearing at Lady Jane's Salon in NYC on Monday, September 6th. She'll be reading from her latest release as well as signing and selling books. If you're anywhere nearby, stop by and support her!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Ruminations on Hosting an Exchange Student

Continued from Monday...reflections on the first week of hosting an exchange student.


First, it's fun. Experiencing a new person from another culture gives you a lot to talk about.


It's also interesting in ways you don't expect. Language barriers (even when your student speaks pretty fluent English) can lead to trouble communicating. Best to speak slowly and using common terms if possible.


It's exhausting. I'm sure this is partly the adrenaline of the whole change/experience of meeting someone new, but for us it's an added exhaustion because we don't have other kids. I'll be honest: having to consider someone else in your house (besides hubby, who can pretty much fend for himself by now) isn't something I'm used to. It's OK, and I'm getting used to it, but it's definitely a psychological change.


It makes you think about things you hadn't thought about before. Your own politics. Your own country and quirks about the culture. How big everything is here. Which qualities and thoughts and values you want to communicate to your student (and which are better left unspoken).


And this is only the beginning. I'm sure there's much more in store (and hey, maybe a story idea or two as well). To sign off, some pictures:





Outside her adopted American high school

Opening a Chinese fortune cookie for the first time!

At a wedding over the weekend



Volunteering at a local pet shelter (each student actually needs 10 hours of community service for the year)


Husking corn for the first time!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Mentionables: Welcoming our Foreign Exchange Student

“To cement a new friendship, especially between foreigners or persons of a different social world, a spark with which both were secretly charged must fly from person to person, and cut across the accidents of place and time.” ~Cornelia Otis Skinner

Just 1 brief thing to mention today, because it's crazy back-to-school day for me today!!:


We welcomed our exchange daughter Hanna from Norway last Friday, and she's settled into our house wonderfully :) I'll have time Wednesday for a full report, so please come on back; until then, a picture from our first day together, at the local exchange program orientation:


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: A Word About "BitTorrent" Files

"Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom." ~Thomas Jefferson

Last night I was in a liquor store buying my favorite bottle of local Riesling (side note of trivia: it's made at the oldest winery in the country, which has this title only because it was never shut down during Prohibition because the monks needed wine for services).

I noticed the guy behind the counter (probably in his mid-late 50s) had an eBook reader lying open. I asked him about it - it was a Kindle, and he'd just gotten it for his birthday 2 weeks ago. He didn't ask for it, but he's such a voracious reader that his family chipped in and bought it for him. I asked how he liked it - he loves it! Wonderful. So we're chatting a bit about eBook readers (I haven't yet mentioned I'm an author) and he says with a smile, "Well, you know, you don't really have to pay for an ebook at all. You can download them for free at bittorrent sites."

Red Flag! Red Flag! Alert Alert Alert!

In case you don't know, bittorrent sites are websites where you can download files of information (books, music, movies, etc). Usually they've been uploaded by someone who bought the file legally and is now sharing it with the online community. THESE SITES ARE ILLEGAL IN MANY CASES. They are giving away copyrighted files and depriving authors of their sales and royalties. Sure, millions of people do it, unfortunately. But that doesn't make it right. Every time I find a bittorrent site with my books on it, I try to contact the website owner and tell them to remove the file, which they always do (they have to, legally). But I can't spend all my time policing the web.

So I said to the man, "You know, those sites are illegal. Authors don't get any royalties when their books aren't sold and are just given away online."

He turned a little red and said, "Yes, I know. You're right." I took my wine and left.

So please be aware of these illegal sites, and spread the word about them. Artists work awfully hard to create an original work. They deserve to be rightly and legally financially rewarded for that.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Mentionables: The World According to Marilyn Monroe

Today, for no particular reason, I thought I'd share some famous quotations uttered by Marilyn Monroe. The first has been enjoying populaity on Facebook, but the others are a little lesser-known. Still, pearls of wisdom, I think. Enjoy!


"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."

"I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together."

"Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."

"If you're gonna be two-faced at least make one of them pretty."

"Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world."

"Ever notice how "What the hell?" is always the right answer?"

"We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets."

"It's not true that I had nothing on. I had the radio on."

"Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition."

"I want to grow old without facelifts. I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I have made."

"Success makes so many people hate you. I wish it wasn't that way. It would be wonderful to enjoy success without seeing envy in the eyes of those around you."

"I don't want to make money, I just want to be wonderful."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: A Collection of Ramblings Today...

Random facts on this Friday...

1. I finished and submitted my novella for Samhain's Just Romance Springtime Anthology - it's called "La Forma Perfecta" (Spanish for "The Perfect Shape" which, yes, does have significance within the story).

2. I thought this article about a reclusive 104-year old zillionaire heiress was SO interesting. How many stories are wrapped up there?

3. A recap of one agent discussion at RWA (thanks to my writing friend for sending on the link) revealed a yen for more contemporary romance (yay!), less focus on paranormal, and a desire for authors to have some kind of web presence established.

4. My Samhain royalties for July were not nearly as high as for June, but still a nice amount, which means those ebooks are still selling after my One Night in Boston free Kindle push back in May.

5. Speaking of ebooks, I sold my mother-in-law on the Nook. She reads so many books a year, all hard-cover and at $20+ a pop, that the Nook was a natural solution for her :)

6. My goal for the rest of August is to finish another revision of my YA and start querying agents. Because as soon as school starts up again, I'm on the crazy treadmill of super-long days and paper-grading til all hours of the night.

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: The Agent Search

"The first step in blogging is not writing them but reading them." ~Jeff Jarvis

OK, I'm not really going to talk ALL about the agent search today. If you're currently looking for an agent, though, you should know that the best thing you can do is lots and lots of research. Make sure the agents you're querying for your project actually rep that kind of work; find out who else they rep; do your best to figure out if that person is a good match for you. Do you (and they) like a hands-on relationship with your writing? Or less so?

There are many good agent blogs to read on a regular basis; these folks give you tons of insight to their world, and you really can learn a lot from them. Two I recommend:

Nathan Bransford
Kristin Nelson

And finally, though I don't read her blog on a regular basis, I found this post on Jenny Bent's to be very interesting. It's actually by one of her interns and talks about why so many queries are rejected (it's not why you think!)

And why all this discussion of agents today? Well, I'm in the final revision stages of my YA novel and am taking some time now to put together the list of agents I want to query for it. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Mentionables: Book Signings in Review

Two appearances last week, both different and both a lot of fun.


The first was my 3rd annual appearance at a local book club. They read my book for a select month each summer and then I come in to discuss it. It's mostly retired-age people, and they (and I) always get a kick out of the whole thing. It's really neat to talk about your book - your characters, your plot choices - with readers. I love their questions and their observations too.


The second was a reading/discussion at a local library. While not very well attended (about 6 people), the ones who were there asked good questions and were mostly writers, so they were interested in my process/the publishing industry as well. Even better, the librarian asked if I'd be interested in coming back to run a half-day writing workshop - and how much I charged! I've said it so many times: you never know how networking and making public appearances will affect you later down the road. Do it! Take advantage of people who want to hear about your books and your writing!


A couple of pics:

With the lovely host librarian


Reading from One Night in Napa

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Two Upcoming Appearances

I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!....

Two, actually:

Tonight I'm the guest author at the Glen Haven Book Club, for the 3rd year in a row. I'll be discussing my third One Night book, One Night in Napa, with a group that reads select books each summer and then has a discussion in a historic local schoolhouse. Really looking forward to it!

And tomorrow, I'm doing a public reading/signing at the Phillips Free Library in Homer, NY, at 7 pm. Think I'll be talking more generally about my publishing experience, and showing off my e-reader!

Pictures to follow on Friday...

Monday, August 09, 2010

Monday Mentionables: A Nook, Some Books, and a Teenager Arriving Soon...

"I have never been in any country where they did not do something better than we do it, think some thoughts better than we think, catch some inspiration from heights above our own." ~Maria Mitchell

Well, I've spent the weekend playing around with my Nook, and I pretty much love it! It's very easy to use and easy to read on. The screen is well-lit and I especially like the fact that I can change the font size if I need to. It seems like that's one great feature, especially for anyone who reads large print books or just doesn't want to squint at smaller print. I also like the fact that it marks where's I've left off reading (a virtual bookmark, say). Mostly, though, it's really convenient. I can definitely picture myself downloading books to take places to read, instead of lugging around an armful (or bagful) of books.

*****

Three weeks left of summer vacation - where did it go? And why do I still have so many things on my To-Do list?? 3 of those things are polish my YA/begin submitting to agents; polish my short-sweet work to submit to Samhain's anthology call; and heavily rework Entwined, with the goal of submitting to Samhain. I've started the last one over the weekend and am doing some major work, to both characters and plotline. Right now it seems to be going OK...but boy oh boy is it a lot of work!

*****

The other thing that's happening in about 3 weeks is that the foreign exchange student we are hosting for the year arrives! Yes, that's right: hubby and I will have a teenager in our house for the next 10 months. She's from Norway, and her name is Hanna. I think (I hope) it will be a great experience for all of us, but YES, there are going to be changes around here!

Will keep you posted...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: Talking About the B&N Nook

"The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television." ~Andrew Ross


Reminder that The Long and the Short of It's 3rd Anniversary Party is going on this whole month, and by participating you can win some great prizes, including a Barnes & Noble Nook eReader!

Speaking of the Nook, I just bought one this week. Very excited! I decided, after 3 years of publishing in the eBook industry, I should really have one so that I could bring it to signings and readings and talk about it.

But which to buy? Of course, there, Amazon's Kindle. There's also the SONY eReader. There's the Nook. And some lesser-well-known ones as well (here's one site that compares them nicely). I made my decision based on a few factors, including reviews, price (the Nook comes in either a $149 Wi-Fi version or a $199 3G Wi-Fi version, which is pretty squarely in the competitive $$ market), and ease of buying/sharing/storing books. If you buy a Kindle, you have to purchase your books from Amazon, in their format. With some of other eReaders, Nook included, you're able to read different formats of eBooks and thus purchase/download from various sites. That, for me, was a big seller. Oh, and the Kindle is "Temporarily Unavailable" until September.

So the Nook it was! I was thrilled because I ordered it around 10 pm on Tuesday night, and it arrived (standard shipping) Thursday around noon. I had it charged, registered with B&N and was playing around with it by that evening.

I'll be back next week with a full user-review!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Guest Blogging at Samhain Publishing

Hi, everyone! I'm blogging over at Samhain today about the joys of summer and my dream that it might go on forever....

Want to know the details? Please come on over and see me, and maybe leave a comment too!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Monday Mentionables: A New Book Trailer

I'm gearing up for a promo push when Summer's Song releases in print November 1st, and part of that included finally making a trailer for it. I've made trailers for every other book I've written, and a few for fellow authors as well. This time around, though, I found myself going the super-simplistic route, with very few pictures and just straight-forward text. I also included a couple of reviews.

While there's no hard evidence that trailers lead to book sales, it cost me little in materials (less than $20 to download royalty-free music) and only about 2-3 hours in labor. I'll post it on a number of free websites and my author loops, as well as on some low-cost advertising sites I pay for. All in all, if it gets my name in front of a few more people, that's enough for me!

Let me know what you think...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Win a Nook!

Hey all, The Long and the Short of It Review site is celebrating its 3rd anniversary (which I can't believe, since I remember when Marianne and Judy began it!).


So they're holding a scavenger hunt for the month of August - find the "Nook" graphic on participating authors' sites, and you can win tons of great prizes...a Nook (eBook reader) is the grand prize of all, and they're giving away 3 of them!


Click on the graphic below for more information:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Mentionables: Writing Sweet

I'm off to a remote lake location for a couple of days, which means no Internet, but I'll have my laptop and hope to do some writing. What am I working on now? A "short" work (20K words or so) for submission to Samhain's Just Romance anthology. This is actually the first story of this length that I've written, and it's interesting how it's different from either a true short story at 5K or a full-length novel at 60K+.

Mostly, I like the word count limit. I'm finding that it forces me to stick to a tight storyline and character development, because I have to accomplish a whole story in 1/3 of the space it usually takes me. It's also a challenge, though, getting the characters to fall for each other and have good, honest conflicts as well. Since it's a sweet romance - no sex allowed, which is what I write anyway - there's a whole lot of building up of intimacy and tension.

And speaking of that, I found myself looking up video clips of "The Age of Innocence" - did you ever see that movie? Ah, I loved it. One of the best portrayals of love denied, and the building up of sexual tension is so, so yummy. Here's the trailer:



See you in a couple of days! Fingers crossed that I finish my story in the meantime...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Fun Facts

Fun Fact #1: I finished the second draft of my YA novel this week - up to 60K words, which I'm really pleased with. Still some rough spots, but I'll let it sit for a week or two and then go back and tackle a third revision. Now I'm switching gears and working on a short, sweet-heat submission for Samhain's "Just Romance" anthology.

Fun Fact#2: I just added a reading/Q&A for 7:00 pm on Thursday, August 12th, at the Phillips Free Library in Homer, NY. I'll read from a couple of my books and talk about my experiences getting published. And I'll be selling and signing books, of course!

Fun Fact #3: On this date in 1984, Vanessa Williams resigned as Miss America, after Penthouse said it planned to publish photos of her. Remember that? I do - very controversial. I was somewhat disappointed - not so much in her (she didn't pose while she was reigning as Miss America) but in the fact that she was pressured to step down because of something she'd done in her past.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: Making a Name for Yourself

"Success doesn't come to you; you go to it." Marva Collins

It bears repeating: authors need to market themselves. I don't care whether you're a first-time small press debut author or a NY Times best-seller. You need to spread the word about your books, and you need to interact with the public and reach your readers. Best-selling authors, of course, have a little advantage when it comes to a reliable readership. But even new and small-press authors can reach more people by being VISIBLE.

And why am I talking about this? Last weekend I spent Saturday at a booth at the local craft fair in my childhood hometown. It's my 3rd time participating, and I've always had pretty good sales - yes, because I grew up there and people get a kick out of owning a book by someone they knew when we were both 10. But also because even those who don't know me are fascinated by a hometown-girl-turned-published-author.

This past Saturday, I actually sold out of the books I brought with me - 34 total sales for the day, which is a record for me. Better than that, I got contacts from 3 community members who want me to come to their groups and give readings or talks. Of course I said yes (you should too, even if it makes you nervous!), and I can't wait. Even if you aren't the most outgoing person in the world, if you've published a book, you can get up in front of a group of people and read from it. You can talk about your own experiences getting published

And every time you meet another person, you meet another potential new reader. Many of those new readers become regular readers. You don't ever know...so get out there! Participate in signings, in readings, in craft fairs. You don't have to shout from the rooftops or even peddle your books to every person that walks by. But if you have a chance to set up a booth or a table or appear for a few minutes one night to a local community group, take advantage of it! It's all about growing your name.

Good luck!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Fun Facts

Fun Fact#1: I finally put down Thirteen Reasons Why, a YA novel I was trying so hard to get through. Got halfway and finally gave up. Why? Whiny, unsympathetic main character (and I feel like a schmuck saying that, since she's dead from the start) and unbelievable events that are supposed to make me feel sorry for her. I felt like asking the author, really? You think every teenager doesn't go through all this crap? Talk to some teens or spend time in a high school before writing about what really causes them angst. Sorry. Maybe some of you out there liked it. I just couldn't.

Fun Fact#2: I'm spending tomorrow at the BIG craft fair in my (childhood) hometown, the one where everyone turns out with their extended family and you see people you haven't seen in at least a year, maybe 10 , and you find out all the latest gossip. I love going because I don't live there anymore, so I get to visit with childhood friends. Plus they treat me like a local celebrity, which is kind of nice too.

Fun Fact #3: I opened my royalty statement from Samhain earlier this week to discover that yes indeed, the Kindle Freebie promo that featured my novel One Night in Boston back in May definitely translated into June sales! Very exciting...not only did my sales for that book go up, but for my backlist as well. In fact, I've never seen those kinds of numbers on my royalty statements before, so I did a little jig of glee. I also sent off an email thanking the folks at Samhain for choosing my book as one to feature, since it's not one of the "hot" ones they're known for. One of the marketing staff wrote back and told me my book had the highest number of free downloads of any they featured. So, very cool!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: A Word About Voice

You hear it a lot in the writing world: authors should develop a strong voice. A distinct voice. Their own voice, above all. For some, that's easy. For others, it's a struggle. What is voice, exactly? Simply put, it's a writer's individual style. It how an author uses language to bring to life his/her characters and storyline. While voice can be learned and developed, I also think it's one of those things that is naturally inherent to really brilliant writers.

The voice I'm loving right now is that of YA author John Green. Looking for Alaska is wonderful - if you haven't read it, you should. Paper Towns is also good, though I didn't think the story was as strong. And I'm only partway into Will Grayson, Will Grayson (cowritten with David Levithan). In all 3 books, though, Green's voice is distinct and brilliant enough to make me green with envy. His male first-person protagonists come to life in the very first pages, and he develops all his characters, really, in just a few brush strokes.

A couple of examples:

On the second page of the Prologue of Paper Towns, Quentin describes Margo, his next-door neighbor and earliest crush. Look how at once, we get a sense of who 10-year old Quentin is AND the kind of girl Margo is, as well:

I always got very nervous whenever I heard that Margo was about to show up, on account of how she was the most fantastically gorgeous creature that God had ever created. On the morning in question, she wore white shorts and a pink T-shirt that featured a green dragon breathing a fire of orange glitter. It is difficult to explain how awesome I found this T-shirt at this time.

And from Will Grayson, Will Grayson, on the first page, we get a terrific account of Tiny Cooper, one of the protagonist's closest friends. Again, it takes Green just a paragraph or two to establish who these guys are:

Tiny Cooper is not the world's gayest person, and he is not the world's largest person, but I believe he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large. Tiny has been my best friend since fifth grade, except for all last semester, when he was busy discovering the sheer scope of his own gayness, and I was busy having an actual honest-to-God Group of Friends for the first time in my life, who ended up Never Talking to Me Again due to two slight transgressions:

1. After some school-board member got all upset about gays in the locker room, I defended Tiny Cooper's right to be both gigantic (and, therefore, the best member of our shitty football team's offensive line) and gay in a letter to the school newspaper that I, stupidly, signed...

Honestly, any writer, experienced/published or not, would be smart to read and study John Green's style. Great voice. Just great.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday

Monday's Mentionables: A Word on Submissions

"Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any." ~Orson Scott Card

Happy Monday! Over the weekend, I had a book signing at my local Borders - a little light, since it's a big travel/grad party weekend, but it did give me a chance to chat with my fellow authors that I rarely see, except 2-3x a year at these events. What did I find out?

Samhain is currently taking submissions for a "Springtime Just Romance" anthology (yes I probably should have known this, since they're my publisher, but I hadn't checked their sub page in a while). Interestingly enough, they want "sweet heat" only for this one. This, of course, is great for me, since that's what I write, but interesting for Samhain, since what they're known for, and what they sell, is hot-hot-hot erotic/menage. I guess maybe they're trying to reach out and appeal to a different/wider audience, but I just wonder how successful that will be.

Anyway, the submission info is here. They're looking for stories in the 20-25K range, with a submission deadline of November 1, 2010. So get working, or pull out those stories and polish them up!

*****

And in other interesting submission news (thanks to Kristin Nelson's blog) Tin House Books is requiring all authors submitting unsolicited ms. to include a receipt for a recent bookstore purchase. How great is that?! Apparently they're concerned that many aspiring writers aren't reading as much as they should be - or at all. You can read more about it here...very interesting!