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Monday, September 29, 2008


Holy moley, even contests are getting political!

Annual Apex Halloween Contest Information

Halloween is just around the corner, so you should know what that means–the annual Apex Halloween short fiction contest!

This year’s theme is: ELECTION HORROR

Guidelines:Your story must incorporate the theme of ELECTION HORROR.
Word count maximum is 1,000.Your story must have first rights available. Submit your story to

Deadline is 11:59 PM, October 15th, EST.

Winner receives payment of 10 cents per word and publication in Apex Digest Online.
Second place receives payment of 5 cents per word and publication in Apex Digest Online.
Third place receives a free Apex Book Company hardcover.
Fourth place receives a free Apex Book Company trade paperback.
Winning and second place story will be published on November 4th (election day).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Neither Nor

Told you I was middle of the road...

You are:

Social Moderate (41% permissive)
and an...
Economic Moderate (41% permissive)

You are best described as a: Centrist
You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness.

I am neither liberal nor conservative. I don't believe in giving hand outs, but I do believe in offering opportunity. It's up to the individual to make the best of things.

To find out your political self, take this quiz.


I don't talk about politics on this blog. Political opinion, unless you're a (REAL) political analyst is just that--an opinion. Everyone has one. But I have observed an interesting trend toward blind fanaticism.

The majority of writers whose blogs I read seem to favor liberalism over conservatism and they are also the most vocal and caustic.

From my perspective, both of these presidential candidates seem lacking. And the slick spin they put on their speeches is shameful. Applying term limits is the smartest thing we ever passed.

I'll vote. I always do. But to steal from Russell Crowe's, Captain Aubrey in Master and Commander, I'll be choosing the lesser of two weevils.

Middle-of-the-road-Maria, signing off.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Book Signings

I have not done a live book signing, so I've corraled a posse of my writing buds to help with their vast experience. Not only will I give you some of the best suggestions they sent me, TODAY each of them will have a post on how to do a successful book signing.

Today's Killer Campaign is about Book Signings and I've gathered a wealth of experience in one place.

Whether you have a book out or not, I want you to read each of these posts carefully. There's information in each of them that will help you make your first book signing successful and fun.

The people I've asked to participate in this special edition of Killer Campaigns come from all different backgrounds, different genres and different personalities.

Everyone takes to book signing differently and I think you'll be able to see that by reading each author's post. There is no one size fits all, but you'll discover every single person has brought a unique insight that will help you not only in book signings but for every time you have to interact with the public--which will be more often than you think.

Here are some of my favorite suggestions that each author sent me. Follow the links to read the rest of their posts on the subject.

Maya Reynolds, author of BAD GIRL: The most important thing, I think, is to OWN THE STORE. I treated the place as though it were Wal-Mart and I was the greeter. I spent as much time as I could on my feet. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. I stood beside my table and welcomed everyone who came through the door. I asked if I could help them. If they had a child, I asked if the child could have a piece of candy from my bowl. I had deliberately filled the bowl with different kinds of candy. When kids are confronted with a variety of candy, they hesitate, wanting to make the best decision. It gives you a chance to chat with the parents. Yes, I admit it. I am completely without shame, but let's face it. You knew that already.

Maya had several posts on the subject, so I am sending you to all three.
Post 1
Post 2
Post 3

JK Coi, author of IMMORTAL KISS: Sign up for You can create an author page with them that has links to revews, interviews, your website and blog, and more importantly, you can enter all of your upcoming events (even online or "virtual" events like guest blogs). The idea is that lets its reader members know which authors will be in their area for booksignings, and hopefully this can draw a few curious people into the store when you're having your book signing.

Joshua Palmatier, author of THE VACANT THRONE: What I’ve discovered over the course of all of my signings and visits to bookstores and stock signings is that there’s really only one thing that sells your book in the end: YOU. So the best advice that I can give is: Be yourself.

What draws the people to the signing table at the bookstore is you.

Allie Boniface, author of ONE NIGHT IN MEMPHIS: Find out whether the bookstore can order your books, or whether you will have to carry them in yourself. Sometimes if you’re published with a small press, stores won’t be able to order them from your distributor. Make sure you know this ahead of time.

Heather Moore, author of OUT OF JERUSALEM series: employees—it’s what a booksigning is all about. Surprised? Your job as an author is to get to know the employees, find out what they like to read. In essence, ask THEM questions. This makes them your new friend, and you can bet that the next day when they’re working a long shift, they’ll be recommending you left and right. Even if they haven’t read your book yet.

Want to get a whole book with this information for $2.99?

Find it on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Whining Isn't Pretty

This is why I love to read JA Konrath.

There is something refreshing about an author who won't wallow with the so called "artistes". You know the ones; prima donnas, dilettantes and self-strokers.

This is a short article that says the things that need to be said aloud every once in a while.

In a nutshell: Don't take yourself so seriously. And don't whine.

Trust me. There is more to life than writing. And as Konrath says, there are a lot harder things to do than writing. Keeping things in perspective is the best way to keep your sanity too.


Friday is a very special Killer Campaign post. You won't want to miss it!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Need Luv

I took a turn for the worse with my eyes. Last week I returned to work and did my best, but I have to read very detailed reports and proofread advertising. Very tedious work. By midday everyday I would see double. Every night found me with an ice pack on my eyes.

After a week of continuous headaches, I went back to the doctor. I have to rest my eyes a while longer.

There have been a lot of terrible things happening with me lately--a lot of expensive things. It's nothing I can't overcome eventually, but boy howdy, I could use some luv, or at the very least some luck.

Things will get better. I have faith. All I need now is perseverance.

I have posts written for the next couple of weeks so no problem here. Keep in touch and don't forget I have something special planned for Friday.

For all my woes, I have a friend who has it worse than me right now. Hugs to my friend. I'm thinking of you and sending healing wishes.

Mantra for the day: Kindness is always the perfect gift for any occasion.

Monday, September 22, 2008


From Samhain Publishing

Call for Submissions: I'm Too Sexy For My Shape

Samhain Publishing is seeking submissions for their as-yet-untitled Summer 2009 shapeshifter anthology. Stories can be of any genre or heat level—make them fun, make them sexy, make them burn right off the pages but whatever you do, they must feature a shifter theme as integral to the story. M/m or same-sex submissions welcome and anticipated.

Submissions should be 20,000 to 30,000 words in length. This anthology is open to all authors previously published with Samhain and authors aspiring to publish with Samhain. Submissions must be new material; previously published material will not be considered.

Chosen manuscripts will be published as separate ebooks under their individual titles in Summer 2009 but will be combined in print titles for Spring 2010 print release.

To submit a manuscript for consideration, please include:
The full manuscript (of 20,000 to 30,000 words) with a comprehensive 2-5 page synopsis. Please include a letter of introduction/query letter. Full manuscripts are required for this as it’s a special project.

Important! When sending your manuscript/synopsis please name them: SS_Title_full/synopsis. For instance, if you’re writing a book called Hot Hamster Love (which we sincerely hope you’re not because that title is ours, darn it!), you’d name your manuscript SS_HotHamsterLove_full and your synopsis SS_HotHamsterLove_synopsis.

Following this naming convention insures that your manuscript/synopsis don’t get lost in the mess of files and submissions we save to our computers, and helps us keep them separate from normal submissions. And keeps them neat and tidy on the ebook reader! It’s harder when you have 50 files called “Synopsis” to know which to look at.

Submissions are open until March 1st, 2009 and final decision will be made by March 23rd,2009.

Send your submission to

Please put Sexy Shifters Anthology Submission in the subject line. Query letters can be addressed to Angela James.

Agent News

Literary agent Emmanuelle Alspaugh has accepted a position at Judith Ehrlich Literary Management.

New contact info:
Emmanuelle Alspaugh
Judith Ehrlich Literary Management
880 Third Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022

Alspaugh is looking for both contemporary and historical novels, international/multicultural voices, women’s fiction, and romance.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Clean Up on Aisle Three

We didn't fare too badly. Most of it is just a debris field and some smashed in gates. Some of our friends are mucking out of two feet of water. Everything was ruined.

And if the splinters of wood and twisted metal aren't enough, imagine the smell! The Gulf literally washed over everything. Dead fish are wedged into every nook and cranny. And the garbage!!

I'll say no more. Suffice it to say, we have a lot to clean up.

Power is back in our neighborhood and we have running water. All good things.

We have LOTS and LOTS of trees. Beautiful, until they come down. LOL!

Eyes: Could be better. I think I took a turn for the worse this week by going back to work. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to get more time off.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Need Clone

I have more news than I can share right now, but I promise to post an update soon.

Today, I hit my wall. Too many things going on at once. Too many hands out asking something from me. Too many alligators nipping at my heels and demanding attention.

My eyes are still healing. Forgive me if I haven't answered your email yet. I will as soon as I can.

Good thoughts, good karma, and prayers would be greatly appreciated right now. We are on the cusp of some major undertakings and I hope this week will be the turning point.

We still don't know what our house looks like on the Texas coast, but a friend of ours says it's still standing. Debris is scattered all over the five acres and a huge oak blocks the driveway. There is one tree on the shop, but he didn't think it punched through.

Greg is staying with me one more day because I really need him up here right now. This is one of those times when two of me would be nice. But since cloning isn't perfected yet, I have to rely on the trusty husband.

I might post later this week if I get good news. Next week I will definitely be back to my regular schedule and next week's Killer Campaigns series will be extra special. You'll have to come back and see what I mean. It is a work in progress right now, but I think you'll like it.

More news soon!

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Some photos of the Texas/Louisiana coast.

We have not been able to reach anyone in our neck of the woods. Phone lines are down. Live web cams in the area are down.

Greg is going back Monday to assess the damage.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Good Friends

I'm still recuperating but I feel a lot better. I still can't see very well yet, but that's improving too. Right now I have this window at 200% so I can see what I'm writing.

I wanted to upload a picture of my beautiful flowers that my dear friend, Maya Reynolds sent me. She always sends me the prettiest flowers and is so sweet to call me and make sure I'm okay. I am blessed to have such good friends.
Aren't these pretty? They really brightened my day!
Allie Boniface also did an interview with me that she posted earlier this week. Allie is someone every writer should have on his radar. She always posts good stuff.
I wish I could have directed you to this post earlier, but well, that eyeball thing. More on this horrid surgery later.
I'll try to start blogging next week if I can.
Thanks to everyone who wrote me! I appreciate all the good thoughts and cyber choklit.
Ike is coming. Nearly a million people are being evacuated from the coast of Texas. The news media is saying that Ike is a vast storm, hundreds of miles wide. We're shutting down the coast again. -sigh

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Seeing-Eye Dog Report

Maria's seeing-eye dog reporting in.

The girl has not been a happy camper. Greg and I are keeping a low profile. You don't want to be around her when she's irritable.

We can't blame her. She has had to depend on us entirely. And you might have noticed she's the independent type. This surgery was very painful for her too. Maria is extremely light sensitive and can barely open her eyes in a darkened room.

The doctor promised she would be able to navigate on her own by Wednesday, but it doesn't look like it. She's in bad shape. She can't even find my food bowl!

Thankfully, Greg can still see fine and has not missed any of my meals.

Seeing-eye dog, Tank. Over and out.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Moving Target

This is my last post for a few days. Go over and visit me at the Samhain weblog. My post should be up after 9am CST.

Yes, I am attempting humor again. Bear with me.

I'll be back in the blogging saddle in no time. Keep checking on me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Suzanne McLeod

Today, my buddy, Suzanne McLeod debuts with her UK release of The Sweet Scent Of Blood.
You must go read her first chapter here.
And buy the book here.

Is this not a wicked, hot cover? Suzanne had a terrific artist--so important, especially for a first book. You really want to debut with all your finery.
I interviewed Suzanne on the OWW newsletter in July and she was so much fun. If her book is half as colorful as she is, I know it won't disappoint.
Suzanne is one of those authors that just seems to do everything right. She'll probably disagree with me being the modest British type. *g* But it's true.
I hope you'll join me in wishing her every success. She deserves it.
Oh, by the way. Suzanne is guest blogging over at David Bridger's blog where one lucky commentator could win an autographed copy of The Sweet Scent Of Blood.

Go on over and tell her I sent ya!

Eye surgery on Friday. I suspect I will not be able to post anything for at least a week, but come back and check on me every so often. Maybe I can get my Braille-reading dog to post an update.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ghost of a Chance

Greg and I are still house hunting. We're not looking for just any house. We're looking for the last house, the one before the grave.

We thought we found it--twice.

We gave up on the first house because we weren't ready to move. And I was hesitant to move to a place so far from a major city.

The second house was closer to Dallas, but it was pricey, especially considering we needed to add another 50k in buildings, fence and ponds. But it was and is the nicest house we've come across. It's still on the table for consideration.

Since we haven't sold ours yet, we prefer to wait before making a serious offer.

There's a third listing that interested us recently. Two huge ponds, a workshop, heavily treed and enough pasture for a few goats. 30 acres of heaven. The house is older than we'd like but it seemed cute in the pictures. We plan to see it next week when Greg, me and the realtor are all in town at the same time.

Meanwhile, the first thing we did was map it on Live Search to see a live aerial view. It was gorgeous--exactly what we were looking for. It nearly butted up to the end of the road except for a small plot of land that didn't go with the 30 acres.

The map wouldn't let me magnify it enough to make out the funny squares dividing the plat evenly on the next door neighbor's property. It wasn't until we actually visited the listing on our own that we discovered that the uniformly spaced squares were actually gravesites.

Yup. Our neighbor at the end of the road would be a cemetery.

Shakes head.

Some of you may remember that I have a talent for seeing the dearly departed. And now I find a nearly perfect property next to a cemetery. Does God have a sense of humor or what?

I did a little research. It's an old country cemetery. And no one's been buried there for more than 20 years. There are a few Confederate soldiers and their families buried there and there are still plenty of gravesites available. Someone has been taking very nice care of it because the grounds are neat and well tended.

I didn't feel any spiritual presences while I was there, but then I didn't wander onto the sale property since our realtor wasn't with us. You can bet I will be walking the fence line and feeling for any disturbance in the force. *g*

And when the realtor asks Greg what I'm doing, he'll smile kindly and say: She's listening for the neighbors.


It's not the Day of the Dead yet, but I'll tell you a ghost story anyway.

30-odd years ago we lived in an old sea captain's house in Port Arthur, built in 1901. Great house. The man we bought it from was only the second owner.

We were very young and grateful for a chance to buy a house so early in life. We bought it with every penny we could scrape together.

I could feel a presence in that house, but I never did see anyone. It felt like an older woman, and I learned later the previous owner's wife had died there.

One day, I was racing down the stairs and I slipped. I SWEAR to you, someone reached out and pushed me back so I didn't crash headfirst. I can still feel the hand against my chest when I think of that story.

I'd like to think it was that little old lady. I think she enjoyed having young people in her house. And I'm glad she was there to save me from serious injury. If my lifetime of cuts and bruises are any testament, I need all the help I can get.


Anybody else got a ghost story to share?

Remember that I'm no longer allowed to check my blog from work, so I'll post them all when I get home tonight.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dodged a Bullet

Gustav missed New Orleans by 85 miles. Instead, Baton Rouge is getting the brunt of the storm. It also looks like northeast Texas will catch the remnants of the storm.

Meanwhile Hanna looks like it might cause trouble for Florida. Poor Florida always gets blasted. Right now it's projected to hit the Bahamas and then veer straight up the eastern coast.

We're a little more concerned about some tropical depressions and a wave coming out of Africa. There's one in particular that looks very tight and organized for being so young. But it's got a long way to travel and the waters are cooling down. The Gulf is hovering around 85 degrees. If we can cool off a little more before it reaches the Caribbean, it might dissipate before it becomes trouble.

Never a dull moment on this side of the continent.

Emergency personnel were on top of everything this go round and security was tight. I'm glad we were well prepared this time, and happier they weren't needed as much.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Reviews and Revenues

Today is Labor Day in the US, our last holiday before Thanksgiving.

Since it's a holiday week, I don't think we'll do regular programming this week. You'll just have to see me blog about whatever strikes my fancy. Scary, huh? :o)

It's always a dangerous situation when I think. And such is the case now. I love great reviews. Who doesn't? But I have to wonder if it does me any good.

Dear, always helpful, Allie Boniface wrote not long ago that her great reviews don't necessarily translate into great sales. I've noticed that myself. People who read Touch Of Fire really like it, but it hasn't meant more sales.

Why do you think that is? Does it take a big venue where thousands of people visit to warrant better sales? Will sales be better next year when it goes to print and someone reviews it on Amazon? (One of you guys will review it on Amazon, won't you?)

Or do I throw money into advertising? Something I've done very little.

Personally, I think word of mouth is the way to go, but that requires momentum. How do you get a book in the hands of strangers and convince them that it really is a great book? What is that magic that gets people talking?

Examining past runaway hits, I've noticed these things:

Controversy works. My book crosses a few religious lines from time to time. But I didn't put them in for shock value. They are an integral part of the world building. Does that make it too subtle to be controversial?

Name value helps. Mickey Mouse is in my book. Not by name, of course, but you can't mistake him by the description I gave. Disney has too many outstanding people working in their stables now. What chance do I have?

Original concepts intrigue. I like to take "accepted" truths and tweak them, forcing people to see them in more than one way. Touch Of Fire is no exception. I reveal an entire future world for you to explore.

Ultimately, I think you need two things. It has to be a great book and it has to elicit an emotional response. You have to care what happens to those characters.

There are other ways to jump-start a rage if you have the capital. Giveaways have limited value in my opinion, but they can work. I know one author who gave away tons of books with a little help from her publisher.

She didn't have a handful of books to give away. She had hundreds.

Saturate the market with enough freebies and you should be able to start a feeding frenzy if the book is good enough. Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury. Any books I give away come out of my pocket and believe me, I don't have the funds to spare--especially now.

But this brings me to some advice my editor gave me. She said the secret to sales was developing a backlist. I can see the wisdom in this, but it won't help me in the immediate since there is only one book right now.

So I rely on great reviews --and you, gentle reader. Read Touch Of Fire and recommend it to your friends.

I got a wonderful review from Jacqueline Ward over at The Romance Studio. The link is here, but this is the part I really liked.

"Ms. Zannini has created a wonderfully vibrant world full or details and robust characters. Readers are given a look into a possible future for our world. The plot is intricately detailed and full of suspense. Touch of Fire has all the elements of a great epic story. There is so much love, loss and sacrifice. This story had me laughing, then crying, sad, then ecstatic. The emotions are pouring off the pages so much that you can’t help but feel them too."

I got an emotional response from this reader! That is the highest compliment anyone can pay me.