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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Indiana Jones 4

Went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I didn't expect very much so I was pleased by the outcome. Lucas did a good job threading the history of Indie and coming full circle.

It's not to say I didn't take issue with the plot logic and some gross errors in Mesoamerican history and geography. I'm not a Mesoamerican expert, but I am fairly certain Lucas mixed up Incan and Mayan history, language and geography. He also took immense liberties with the Nazca lines, the huge stylized pictographs that can be seen only from the sky. If I'm not mistaken those etchings are located much further south.

I realize most people tend to lump Mesoamerica in one Latin heap, but I think filmmakers do the public a disservice when they fudge on the facts. It would have helped far more than hindered had he gotten that right.

The story was in the usual Lucas style--not strong on dialog, but interesting and full of mazes. Shia LeBoeuf who starred as Mutt, (a young Indie in the making) was pretty good and convincing. And it was nice to see Marion, (Karen Allen) again. She and Ford had great chemistry. It was as if they'd never parted.

After talking to other people who had seen this movie, I think what you get out of it will depend entirely on how old you are. This Indiana Jones movie was set in 1957. You'll be hard pressed to find any young person who understands the era. It comes across like a curiosity, fabulist and made up. The cold war (especially the cold war of the 1950s) is such a foreign concept that I am certain anyone younger than 40 would not understand.

Older people might look on it fondly. Despite the lunacy of the commie hunt of the era, it was a more innocent age too; one I remember fondly.

Indie was good, despite the inaccuracies and despite the lame dialog. Go for the nostalgia. It was enjoyable.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Websites, Part 2

Last Friday, we discussed websites and the audience a writer's website should reach. Go here for the first part. Go here for the master list.

This Friday, let's discuss some elements for you to put on your website. I think once you decide who your audience is, it's then a matter of what would encourage them to stay and poke around.

Self promotion has such a negative connotation at times, but it's really undeserved. Sometimes, when you see writers hawking their books like a street vendor, it might start to look a little crass, but if done right, you won't ever notice the sales pitch.

What you are trying to achieve is interest. The rest is up to the visitor.

A writer's website should be orchestrated like a guest visit. When people come to your home, you introduce them to your family, offer them a tour of your home, and put a drink in their hand. A website shouldn't be treated much differently. A web visitor is essentially in your home.

What are you going to show him? What will you offer?

The first step is to make it visually appealing. Are the colors pleasant? Is the layout clean? Is your type readable?

Don't take your own word for it. Ask for blunt opinions. Remember too, that different browsers may wipe away your formatting, limit your graphics or shift elements in strange places. It's a technical issue that I hope the great internet minds of the world will fix one day. For now, it's still a problem. Be sure you hire a good web master if you can't build the site on your own.

So what can you put on your website to make visitors feel at home?

Adult readers are going to have different requirements from YA readers. YA websites must appeal not only to adults but to children. What will you have to appeal to them?

We'll start with the basics and then add to them.

Home page: This is your resting page (the index page). It's usually the first thing people see. Here is where you might want to put a welcome message, a bio, or an announcement.

Some people put their blogs on their home page. That kinda kills two birds with one stone. It's a good way to get people to not only visit your website but also for them to know what you're doing right now. It can also backfire. (more on blogs later.)

The Bio: Some people put this on a separate page, others combine it with another element like the home page.

Bibliography: Your backlist. What have you published? List them here.

Contact Page: Sometimes this requires a little technical know-how to make this interactive. But it can also be as simple as an email address. Note: If you post an email address, you can save yourself some spam by making the link an object rather than text. Spam spiders look for specific words that indicate an email addy. If it sees an object, it will ignore it. (At least for now.)

Contests: Many authors hold regular contests. This can be expensive if done regularly. But only you know what works for you.

Organizations: This might be more useful to readers who are also writers, but I love to learn what other organizations the author I'm following belongs to.

Games: For kids of all ages. Make them age appropriate with easy to follow rules. It's not so much to draw interest to your book as it is to keep them on your page longer.

Freebies: This can be anything. Bookmarks, bookplates, books, or downloads. Everyone loves free stuff. We'll have a huge honking list of freebies in later posts and we'll discuss what works, what doesn't and why not.

Links: A great place to link other authors and places of interest.

Portfolio: I have a portfolio page. Just something to show off what else I can do and sometimes earn a little cash from other venues. If you have a hidden talent in a field that might go along with your books, consider adding it.

Works In Progress: Some people do this. I'm not too crazy about the idea of posting anything but polished stuff. Proceed with caution.

Interviews: List the links of interviews people have done with you. Note: I also have interviews I've done with other authors, just to give people an introduction to someone who is possibly new to them.

Reviews: Got a good review? List that too.

Events: This is where all your news on book signings, readings, conferences and workshops goes. If you're making an appearance, be sure to tell everyone.

Navigation: There should be a navigation map on EVERY page. These are links that will take you to each page on your website. There is nothing more frustrating than being left on a page with no way to go elsewhere without hitting the Back button.

Okay, now let's get more specific with lesser used elements.

Related Links: Do you write fantasy with mythical creatures? Consider introducing your visitor to websites that host fantasy fairs, or a Yahoo site that discusses ancient legends. It doesn't have to be all about you or your book.

If your latest book deals with gardens, think of all the places you could send your visitors. These are places you probably already know if you used them for research. Don't forget to look into doing a mutual link to the places you send them to.

Photos: I'm spare with photos. I would be fearful to put up photos of kids and I really don't think people need another look at me. I also fret it might eat up the bandwidth. I don't want people to cuss me when their pages load slowly. Post photos at your own risk.

Related Books: The mongo online booksellers are big on this one. "People who bought this book, also liked this one too." Tout your friends. If they have a book in the same vein as yours, put a little marketplace of links to their books. Again, don't forget to ask for reciprocal links.

Blogs: You can put your blog on your website with the right code. I used to do that but I've since changed my mind since I mostly blog about things other writers are interested in rather than the average "civilian". If I ever do put another blog on my website though, it will be posted with news that the fan can use.

The etceteras: I've been on sites that have neat little add-ons. You can add a daily horoscope, a weather map, a quiz, or one of those little video games. It has absolutely nothing to do with your book, but it gives the visitor a chance to pop in and maybe he'll see what else you have going on today. Recipes, puzzles, illustrated trading cards of your characters, screensavers, maps of your story's world.

The trick is to OFFER something. It doesn't have to be expensive or even physical. It should be entertaining, easy to find and constantly updated. You want people to come back. That's the bottom line.


So can you think of other interesting elements you've seen on websites?



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

Find it on Amazon.
 




Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thoughts On e-Publishing

I normally don't post on Thursdays, but I came home to some good news from a friend and now I'm in a super happy mood.

This is your karma calling: Good things do happen to good people. Congrats to my buddy!

*****

And an interview with---you guessed it, moi!

Heather Moore posted an interview with me here. Check it out. Heather is the author of the Out Of Jerusalem series of books and a dear friend. She asked about my experience with e-pubishing.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Writing Process

JK Coi interviewed me on her blog the other day, and Elyssa Pappa stopped by and asked me a question about my writing process. It occurred to me I hadn't written about process in a long time.

Everyone goes about their writing differently. My way is sadly dull and anal, but it works for me. I'm rather methodical and like to know the beginning, middle and end of each thread inside the outline. That's not to say that the story itself isn't a big surprise to me. It is--every time.

I know what's going to happen. I just don't know how it comes about until I set to writing. But that's me. I like that safety net. It keeps me from rambling or going off on tangents. I think that's the reason my chapters are usually so tight right from the beginning.

But there are drawbacks to my method too. Sometimes I'm hesitant to explore other possibilities because it means I might have to rewrite whole sections.

That's why I incubate my outlines. I usually start with one concept sentence that says exactly what I think the book is about at that moment. It's not really a pitch, certainly nothing I would try to use on an agent or editor, but more along the lines of a simple guide.

With Touch Of Fire, the first concept sentence was: A mage is ordered to find a dangerous book and discovers things about herself she'd rather not know.

That was the very earliest idea. The heroine is damaged goods, but it takes her the length of the book until she realizes it. I don't bring in the hero, or the antagonists. I simply focus on her.

This then evolves to the hero's story, and then to the antagonist's story. Once I have all the major players then I can concentrate on what kind of obstacles each are going to face. The outline starts out as an embryo and emerges as a pretty well-formed baby by the time I'm done. Then I can start writing the story confidently without a lot of angst or interruptions.

I don't like to waste time. I am too bowed up now as it is, so this formula works well for me.

How about you guys? What's your favorite way to build a story?

Monday, May 26, 2008

New Interview and Markets

Let me start this post by sending you away. Go over and visit JK Coi on her blog. She did a fun interview with me this morning. And don't lurk. Be friendly and leave a comment. I'm going to go over there and check on you. :o)

*****
It's been a while since I've done markets, and I've had a couple of requests to find markets for erotica and novellas. But maybe these will help.

Markets!

Black Rose Writing Contest

If you've got a hot hero/heroine that also happens to turn furry at least once a month, then Black Rose is looking for your story. We are interested in werewolf stories with tight, well-written storylines and plots. If the hero is female make sure the male is equally impressive.

All stories must have at least one HOT consummated love scene and, of course, the traditional story requirements still stand. Stories that do not follow traditional guidelines will be disqualified.

Submissions are now open! Please place "Got Wolf? Contest Entry" in your subject line along with the traditional subject line matter, also found on the Submissions Guide.
Contest deadline: August 30, 2008
Winners to be announced: October 31, 2008
Contest details:4 shorts -- 15-25,000 word maximum and 2 full shorts -- 25-45,000 word maximum will be chosen from the entries.

All six winners will be included in a Black Rose anthology and will also receive a special Black Rose contest T-shirt. In addition, one winner will be chosen from those six to receive an author's survival basket full of goodies. Anthology Publication (estimated release) date June 2009 Judges: Ami Russell, Callie Lynn Wolfe, Jade Alexander, Amanda Barnett, Joan Archer, and Rene Stephens.

*****

Lyrical Press

Scare us. We dare you.

We’re planning two anthologies featuring classic ghost story themes. Be they dark, steamy, humorous, sentimental or downright creepy, we want your ghost stories.

Tip Sheet:* Suggested submission length: 20-25k* Romantic elements preferred, but not required for either holiday-themed anthology.* Holiday (Halloween or Christmas) theme preferred, but not necessarily required. If the story’s compelling enough, won’t discriminate.* Meta data: Straight-up, good old-fashioned “tales told ‘round the campfire”; folklore and ghost stories; Haunted houses, visitations, Dickens; Legends (but not necessarily myths); Rather more “Things that go bump in the night” than “Things that hump in the night”.*

Be sure you edit very carefully before submitting. (I'm not horribly forgiving, I'm finding)* All submissions should be sent to: submissions@lyricalpress.com, SUBJECT: Ghost Story* See below for submission deadlines:TALES FROM THE SHADOWS

Release Date: October 20, 2008
Submission Deadline: June 1, 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Sensuality Level: Any

ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR
Release Date: December 15, 2008
Submission Deadline: June 15, 2008
Genre: Paranormal
Sensuality Level: Any

*****

HAUNTED LEGENDS

Haunted Legends, to be published by Tor Books, seeks to reinvigorate the genre of "true" regional ghost stories by asking some of today's leading writers to riff on traditional tales from around the world. We don't just want you to retell an old ghost story, but to renovate it so that the story is dark and unsettling all over again.

Classic tales of the Jersey Devil, the spirits of the Tower of London, ghost lights, and phantom hitchhikers continue to capture the imagination. The Haunted Legends difference is that our contributors will tell the stories in ways they've never been told before.We pay 6 cents a word, up to 8000 words.The open-reading period will begin on midnight, EDT of July 15, 2008 and end 11:59p.m., July 31, 2008.

All submissions must be emailed as a RTF file to Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas at hauntedlegends@ gmail.com. Please send no more than one submission. Please send no correspondence, such as queries, to hauntedlegends@ gmail.com either before or after the reading period – all mail sent to the address at any time other than the reading period will be automatically deleted unread.

Note that much of the anthology is full and that a large number of ghost stories, especially those with an American or UK origin, are thus already “taken” by authors who have been personally solicited for work. Your best bet for this anthology is to go far afield – we are especially interested in renovations of traditional ghost stories from Africa, Latin America, and Asia, or in other tales that may not be well-known.

We also want to emphasize that we are interested only in traditional ghost stories made new again by the ingenuity of the writer. We do not want “campfire” versions of old stories, or slavish recitations. Think of new forms, new voices, new themes, new ways of considering these classic tales. Do not send us your trunk stories. It should be as though your version was always occulted within the classic rendition, but never before perceived or acknowledged.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

On Waste and Wants

I am nearly over the plague. I can swallow and speak without bursting a lung. What a terrible bout I had--and it had to happen during my book's release.

I still can't spend a lot of time on the computer, but it gets longer everyday--barring coughing spells.

My only condolence is that I get to do this release thing twice. Next year, Touch Of Fire will appear in print and will be selling in brick and mortar bookstores in Winter 2009.

Believe it or not, I have mixed feelings about this. Since I couldn't read or write after my eye surgery, I spent two weeks cleaning the house from top to bottom. When I got to organizing my books, an overwhelming feeling of regret for my overindulgence came over me.

There was a time when I would have thought having such a large library of books was a sign of distinction, but nowadays it feels like a bloated room. Out of the hundreds of books I have in this house alone, I'll probably only read a handful of them again. The rest gather dust looking oh-so posh on my bookshelves. Such a waste.

This reinforces my efforts to read more ebooks. I don’t have any more space for paper. I've donated boxes and boxes of books over the years and my libraries still look like bloated corpses.

I'm from an older generation and will probably always prefer a paper book in my hands, but I realize too that it affects the environment as well as my space issue, so before I buy a new book, I check to see if it has come out in e-format first. Many traditional publishers are doing this now, so yay for them. They are seeing the future.

And yay, for Colleen Lindsay over at FinePrint Literary who will henceforth only accept e-queries. When she mentioned the reams of paper she gets and all the time it takes to open those envelopes, it hit me between the eyes. All of us have got to be more conscious of our resources and that includes our time.

*****
I had popped over to KS Augustin's website where she hosts a monthly podcast. Gay romance author, Carol Lynne was her guest. I was touched by a question Carol's young daughter asked her. She asked: When will I find out what I'm good at? Big question from such a little girl.

I saw a slogan on a woman's t shirt the other day. It said: To do the impossible, you must see the invisible.

No truer words.

Every time you let something stop you, whatever the reason, you let the Reaper win. Do what you love and do it well. Plan not just for next year, but the next 20 years.

See the invisible, then make it real so everyone else can see it. If I can do it, anyone can. I'm not that special. I'm just persistent.

***
Can you tell I'm feeling better? I haven't been this chatty in ages. It's a holiday in the US this Monday. We honor our veterans. Have a great weekend everyone. We'll have markets tomorrow.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Forbidden Kingdom

This cold got a bigger bite out of me than I expected.

Friday, I gave up and went to the doctor when it became too painful to swallow. Too smart, too late. What I thought was a cold turned out to be a bad case of bronchitis. I might have been well by now if I had gone to the doctor right away.

Enough about that. Let's do another mini movie review.

*****

The Forbidden Kingdom was a fun movie. It stars Jet Li and Jackie Chan in enormously engaging dual roles. The fight scenes were exquisite and didn't run overly long. They were just enough to showcase the fighters without wearing out their welcome.

This is a little time travel movie where a kung fu-obsessed teenager is thrown back to ancient China with a 'bo', a relic that can release the imprisoned Monkey King (Jet Li). He is aided by a beautiful young girl, Golden Sparrow (Yifei Lui) and a drunken martial arts master, Lu Yan (Jackie Chan).

I am in awe to watch people so skilled in the martial arts. It's a true ballet of strength, stamina and balance. But I was equally impressed that there was a good story as well. Jackie Chan was his usual comedic self, playing the drunken fool expertly. Yifei Lui was sublime as the fragile looking, yet lethal female fighter. Jet Li probably surprised me most of all. Who knew he could smile? He was terrific.

The teenager, (Michael Angarano) the sole non-Asian lead was believable and sweet. He was a little overshadowed by the much bigger personalities, but not so much that you didn't enjoy him.

Fine for rental or for date night. Either way, add this to your list if you want to watch a fun fantasy movie.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Websites

I'm starting this series out with the monster of all marketing vehicles: websites. There's a lot of ground to cover when it comes to websites. I will leave out all the details of design and navigation for a different post and concentrate on "audience reach".

Despite all the great sites I see out there (and that includes blogs). I think people by and large will plop in great chunks of material without any thought as to who this is going to appeal to.

I might have some dissenters out there, so be aware that I'm writing this from my perspective alone. It's one I learned when I started tracking which parts of my sites people were visiting.

The biggest mistakes I see are websites or blogs that are geared for both writers and readers at the same time with the same material. You are mixing two different audiences.

Some of you might know this about me already, but I am a great watcher for patterns and social movement. I get this information from watching what people pick up at bookstores, what they read at airports, coffee shops, on work breaks and in doctors' waiting rooms. I am a rabid garage sale hound and can tell what kind of books people like by seeing what they sell. I chat with readers wherever I find them and ask what they like to read and why. The clues are out there.

And here's one more bit of information. Most of the people I watch are not writers. They are business people, factory workers, teachers, soccer moms, old people, teenagers and college kids. They are the average Joe or Jane going to work and/or raising babies and reading for a little distraction and entertainment. They are the people who buy voraciously to feed their reading addiction; in short, your target audience.

As writers, we are enmeshed inside our writer communities, further segregated by genre, style and voice. So often we don't have a clue on what the average person outside our "writing ghetto" likes to read and where the reading pendulum of interest is swinging.

This is what editors, agents and publishers are paid to predict. It's a talent we should hone too.

I was supposed to modify my website before Touch Of Fire came out, but…well this eye thing came up and I didn't expect to be so incapacitated. Silly me, I really thought it would be a quick turnkey job. Duh!

The plan is to refocus my website strictly for readers. That means no writer tips, market news, and links of interest to writers. It means excerpts, contests, and links of general interest to the public at large.

A website doesn't have to be updated daily, but it should change enough that people will come back to see what's new. This is especially important when you have books coming out.

The average writer can take a hint from the behemoths in the industry. Check out JK Rowling and Dan Brown. Notice how there is nothing there for the writer. It's all about the reader. Make that your mantra. Don't worry about pleasing your peers. Think about pleasing your fans and potential fans.

One thing I've noticed in nearly every writing workshop I've attended is that people fall into the mistaken belief that if their little group of crit partners love their work, they're obviously ready for primetime.

I will say this again. The only opinion that matters is the one belonging to the person that offers you a contract. Your friends love you and they will sometimes say nice things to make you feel warm and mushy. On top of that, they're all writers. For example, if you write SF, what kind of response will you get from the man on the street who's been reading SF since he was 12? Your writing friends are analyzing meter and characterization. The diehard SF fan is looking to live your dream. He's your audience.

Same way with the website. Focus on the strangers, the man or woman on the street, who will buy your books. Our peers, other writers will always rally to each other, but how many books will that sell? Even if you had two hundred loyal-to-the-death internet friends and each one bought a book, you've sold two hundred books. The real reading public is still out there and you haven't done anything for them. Think in terms of thousands, not hundreds. The former is what will lead to a new contract.

***
Wow, this really turned out to be a bigger post than I expected, so I will end here. Next week, we will continue with what kind of website elements appeal to the reading public.


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

Find it on Amazon.
 


Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

It's easier on my eyes to watch movies than it is to read so I've logged three new movies in the past two weeks. I normally do movie reviews on the weekends, but I wanted to post them while they're still fresh in my memory.

I thought I would start with the one I liked the least.

After reading reviews from a number of blogs and newspapers, I'm beginning to wonder if we saw the same film.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was terribly dull.

The kids are back, older and more mature looking. It felt like they had a lot of back story that wasn't brought out in the film.

They are summoned inadvertently by Prince Caspian as he tries to evade assassins. The kids (the kings and queens of Narnia) fight to restore Prince Caspian as the rightful heir to his throne.

The CGI was spectacular as always, but it almost felt canned. Once you've seen one phenomenal creature, the rest seem a reconstitution of the first. Perhaps that says more about me than the movie that I can be so quickly jaded by special effects.

The fight scenes were well choreographed, but hardly credible. There is a point where Peter, the eldest of the children fights an older, seasoned fighter. They do show the kid has more stamina, but you'd be hard pressed to convince me a teenager can outfight a veteran soldier. The other obvious flaw is that they rarely showed blood or gash wounds when a blade hit flesh. I don't care for gore, but at least stain the fabric red.

I was rather annoyed to be put into Prince Caspian's story since I felt the kids were more interesting. You suspect that their lives are humdrum and irritating to them. In the last film they grew up on Narnia before being transported back to their own world. Yet it's obvious they don't fit in. I wanted to know more about their troubles in merry old England. I don't know that I'd be too happy having been a queen in another world and then forced back into WWII England --as a kid again no less. (One childhood is enough. Thank you.)

There was also a forced romance between Caspian and the older girl, Susan. They should have either made it more pronounced or done away with it. I dislike being teased.

If you like the Lewis stories, by all means see this film, but don't expect it to be like the original. It's not.

Aslan and the White Witch have precious little to do with the story and I felt they were included in an attempt to make it stronger. I think this alone proves that the story on its own was not carrying its weight.

Fine for a rental. At least you can save money on popcorn.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mixed Blessings

Wow! When you guys support me, you really go all out.

Yesterday alone, Daw, JK, Joan, Kaz, Maya, Robyn, Rochita, Sandra, Tessa, and Tia blogged about me. You guys rock! Thank you!

And thanks for all the emails and calls. Sorry I couldn't talk much. My voice is nearly gone. This cold has knocked the wind out of my sails. I am going to bed again after I post this.

*****
I promised you a horror story about my eye surgery. I had lens replacement surgery, which means the surgeon removes your natural lens (the part you use to see) and replaces it with a synthetic lens that has concentric circles within it to help you see near and far.

Remember the Six Million Dollar Man? I kinda feel like that special effects sound ought to be playing in the background as I try to force my eyes to see in various focal lengths. Modern medicine is wonderful. It's also scary.

The first surgery was a piece of cake, despite the fact they stuck a needle in your eye.

There was a woman in the bed across from me who was getting prepped for her eye surgery first. The anesthesiologist came over and put another blanket on her, cooing to her softly and reassuring her that all would be fine.

He explained what he was doing as he poked her arm with an IV. She kept talking to him all the while as he proceeded to stick a needle in her eye! What the heck, I thought. Nobody's that brave.

They wheeled her away and he came to me and started his spiel. I stopped him in the middle of his bedside manner and told him: "You realize I saw you stick a needle in that woman's eye."

He patted my hand. "You won't remember anything," he said, and then explained the various drugs he was using.

The first one was supposed to relax me. A fine drug, I am here to testify! I wanted some to go. LOL.

The second one was called 'versed', pronounced ver-sed. It produced retrograde amnesia for 3-4 minutes while the anesthesiologist puts the needle in your eye that delivers a third anesthetic that numbs your eye and face. You do not remember a thing, yet you're completely capable of having a conversation. I asked him later if I gave him any of my bank pin numbers.

The stuff worked, which was good because I really didn't want to remember being skewered.

Okay, so that was the horror story I expected to tell you, but wait, there's more!

It seems they discovered a toxicity issue with the drug they give patients to numb their faces. I felt fine, but they didn't want to take any chances so they changed the drug.

This had a much shorter duration period as opposed to the first drug. Unfortunately, for me, it was TOO short. My eye woke up just as the surgeon was finishing up. It hurt!

Holy cow! And it was even worse after the surgery. Unlike the first surgery, I was in pain for two days straight.

Was it worth it? The jury is still out. My distance vision is much better, but I am in readers for the next couple of months while my eyes finish adjusting. In the meantime, scar tissue will form on the back of both lenses and I'll have to go back to have them lasered off. (normal procedure)

I think it will be worth it. My eyesight was extremely poor. Even in this early stage, it has improved greatly. Color is brighter, shapes are sharper and I am beginning to get my depth perception back, something I lost with an earlier surgery. The doc has assured me all these things will improve too, so I am quite happy despite the trauma.

Before I left, I asked the anesthesiologist for his business card and asked if it would be all right to talk to him at a later date. I explained I was a novelist and a drug that gives you retrograde amnesia sounds like the makings of a cool SF novel.

Even drugged up, I'm always plotting the next novel. (grin)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Drop Me a Line

Let's see…. By six am this morning I lost all my bookmarks on my pc, my email stopped working, my head cold got worse and my husband left me (at least for a month). But Touch Of Fire is finally out!!

Tell your friends. Buy the e-book. You'll get a chance to buy the print copy next year, just in time for Christmas.

I am so excited about today, even with this cold and my bum eyes. By normal standards, this was a pretty fast ride, but somehow it feels like I've been on this journey forever.

Does it feel that way to you guys? Do you feel like writing has always been part of your life?

If you haven't already gotten tired of me, hop over to Maya Reynold's blog where she's posted an interview with me. Post a comment there and you might win a free copy of Touch Of Fire.

Even if you don't want a copy---and why wouldn't you?---be a doll and post a comment anyway. On Maya's blog, I want you to predict the future. Be as funny or as outrageous as you want to be. Make me laugh!

Update: I'm over at Samhain now. Go here.

Also, Tessa Dare gave me a mention over at her blog and she is giving a prize to someone who posts on her blog too. Go here for that. What's funny is that I am sharing space with her blog post on breasts. Serendipity! You have until midnight Wednesday for a chance to win there.

***
My thanks to all my readers, be you lurkers or regular commentators. Post a comment, drop me an email, or call me.

I want to hear from you guys. Tell me what's on your mind. What've you been up to lately? I'm home all day today, thanks to this cold so I'd love some company.

Whazzup?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Countdown

Tuesday is it! Touch Of Fire finally debuts. I wish my eyes were in better shape. I still can't visit all my regular haunts to share my news because my baby browns tire out too quickly. I am counting on my friends to help me spread the word.

I am feeling better though, which is saying a lot. The second surgery has given me a true horror story to tell you in the days to come. But I've had so many well-wishers. I really believe they helped me recuperate faster. Maya Reynolds sent me some gorgeous flowers, other friends have been calling and emailing me regularly, and Greg has been here to lead me around and cater to me like I was the Queen of Sheba. If you're going to be incapacitated, always have a steady supply of friends and loved ones. They're what keep you going.

Tuesday, I will blog here, at Samhain, and I think Maya is going to post on Touch Of Fire too.

Now for your meme pleasure, I bring you a new one. Feel free to play along if you like and say that you saw it here. What made me decide to do this meme is the question about being a billionaire. I never think in those terms, so it was fun to dream.

From my friend and fellow sadist, Josephine Damian. Here are the rules.

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.
8
A Meme about Various Things
8
What were you doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago, I'd already been at my artist job at an advertising department for a year. I was the up-and-coming wunderkind and my company pushed quickly to get me into management. What can I say? I'm the alpha-leader-get it done type.

At the time I had no interest or inclination for writing. I was perfectly content being an artist. I still love it.

Ten years ago, I had it in my head that I might like to climb the corporate ladder as well, but it didn’t take long to figure out I didn't like the political games inherent to the corporate structure.

Still, I was where I wanted to be at the time. It was eight years ago when I took a totally different direction and moved to Dallas for glory and dirty filthy lucre. Some of the changes were tough, but most of it has been great. I've met the most wonderful people and it introduced me to what I do today---write.
88
What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
• Write blog post for Monday. (I am cheating today, thanks to Josie.)
• Buy food for the Tankster. (He likes to eat regularly.)
• Go to the movies (went to see Narnia 2---review to come)
• Read the newspaper (my first time in two weeks!)
• Suffer through yet more eye drops.
8
What are some snacks you enjoy?
• dried apricots
• dried cranberries
• sunflower seeds
• pecans
• edamame
8
What would you do if you were a billionaire?
• Buy 100 acres in the Texas hill country and build my dream home
• Create a no-kill shelter for abused animals
• Set aside university scholarships for all my nieces and nephews
• Travel around the world (several times)
• Hire a live-in masseuse and trainer to keep me in shape
8
What are five places where you have lived?
Chicago, IL
Beaumont, TX
Port Arthur, TX
Lumberton, TX
Dallas, TX
8
What are five jobs you have had?
Art Director
Store Display Artist
Veterinary Anesthesiologist
Ratite Breeder
Dog Whisperer (trainer)
8
What were the last five books you read?
Air, Geoff Ryman
Tales of Old Japan, AB Mitford
The Outback Stars, Sandra McDonald.
Deadly Doses, a writer's guide to poisons, Serita Deborah Stevens
Extraordinary Endings of Practically Everything and Everybody, Charles Panati
8
What are five web sites you visit daily (in no particular order)?
This is a cheat because I scan blogs off a reader, so I don't have to pop in anywhere. I can view the blog from one spot in one sitting, but these are five that regularly catch my interest.
http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/
http://samhainpublishing.com/blog/ (Yes, I'll be blogging there sometime Tuesday.
http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/
http://fantasydebut.blogspot.com/
http://historyhoydens.blogspot.com/

Tag 5 People
Tag, YOU are it. Link me if you play.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I haven't forgotten you

My eyes need a couple more days of rest. I'll be back to blogging in earnest starting Monday.

Oh, and start the countdown. Touch Of Fire debuts, Tuesday, May 20. It's a good thing I've been pumped up with so many drugs lately, otherwise I'd be a mess. (grin)

Next week will be important because I plan to be nearly everywhere at once--despite the fact that Einstein said it couldn't be done. I'm going to give it a shot.

I will also have a whopper of a post on websites next week. Right now it looks to be a two parter. I would have posted it today, but I want to be able to give it a proper proofing before I upload the file.

Check back. There will be a lot going on for the next few weeks. And contests! Don't forget the contests.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Posting WIPs

Josephine Damian has been having a great series of posts on many aspects of blogging. It's a six-part series so far so I will just send you to her main page to browse all her posts. Just look for her label on Blogging.

The last part she posted on blogging was about people who posted their works in progress. I have serious reservations about putting work up in an open forum. In my opinion, three quarters of what I see posted should not be up. It reflects badly on the author, even if s/he thinks it's their best work.

Even if you don't doubt your talent, it's best to hide it behind an LJ's friends lock, or do what I do and start your own group within a secure forum. Don't toot your own horn without being absolutely certain it can carry a tune.

This leads me to another trend I've been seeing a lot lately. No doubt due to the Query Shark, there's been a lot of queries posted all over the blogosphere. Again, tricky stuff.

When you're that close to polished material and ready to query, it's a benefit to get professional advice, so Query Shark and its ilk are lifesavers. But posting strictly on peer blogs leaves you wide open to all manner of advice. That's fine if you luck into people who know what they're talking about, but often times they are unpublished as well. You get what you get.

My friend, Daw had one of the best queries I'd ever read. The meter was good, the information was precise and succinct, and her impressive credentials were the icing on the cake. You just know when a query hits all the right buttons. I can't explain it any better than that.

Agents will say that they can tell within the first few sentences whether a manuscript has potential. I think the same can be said for a great query. You just know.

I've read a lot of queries in the last few years and many times they are convoluted and a tad pretentious. The poor author has no clue that their stories are as clear as mud and their delivery is off putting. We are sometimes our own worst enemies.

So I'm with Josie on this one. Lock your work away until it's ready. Share it with trusted peers and don't swallow every line of advice thrown at you. The time will come when you'll have to decide what advice to heed and what to push away.

When you're ready, you'll know. You'll just know.

*****
I am off again for a few days. My second eye surgery is this morning. One more time under the knife. I'll have to go back in a month to laser off the lesions that will form from the incisions, but that should be it.

Be back soon!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Promotional Workhorses

I'm back...sort of. I am semi functional as long as I don't stare at a computer screen for too long. I can't wait until I can see like a normal person again. There is so much to tell you!

And what is my life without a funny story about my surgical procedure? I'll wait until my eyes are a little more reliable to tell you. It's really pretty funny in a horror-movie kind of way. (You knew I had a weird sense of humor, right?) In the meantime, I'll post some pre-written articles.

For today, I promised you a list of promotional venues. We'll take each one (or two) week by week every Friday. Depending on how I feel next Friday, we might have to delay the first one until the following week. The only reason I'm posting right now is because I am relying on my "non fixed" eye to take the full workload. Who knows how I'll be next week. Next Monday is my next surgery.

*****

On to promotional venues. Which ones are for you? Which ones have you tried?

• Website --Blogged on 5-23 & 5-30-08
• Blog --Blogged on 6-6-08
• Social Networking groups --Blogged on 7-11-08
• Group Blogs --Blogged on 6-13-08
• Guest Blogging (newly added!) --Blogged on 6-20-08
• Linking --Blogged on 6-27-08
• Newsletter --Blogged on 11-28-08
• Press Release--Blogged on 5-15-09
• Book Tours --Blogged on 9-19-08
• Short stories --Blogged on 8-22-08
• Articles --Blogged on 8-29-08
• Workshops
• Conferences --Blogged on 7-18, 7-25 & 8-8-08
• Book signings --Blogged on 9-26-08
• Bookmarks
• Postcards
• Trading Cards on your characters
• Magnets--Blogged on 12-5-08
• Buttons--Blogged on 12-5-08
• Pens, Pencils
• Edibles--Blogged on 1-9-09
• Stamps and etcetera--Blogged on 1-23-09
• Labels--Blogged on 1-23-09
• Flyers, brochures
• Business cards
• Book Reviews--Blogged on 3-20-09
• Author Quotes--Blogged on 5-8-09
• Author Interviews--Blogged on 5-29-09
• Contests--Blogged on 3-6-09
• Readings--Blogged on 1-30-09
• Public speaking
• Launch party--Blogged on 4-3-09
• Online book banners
• Advertising--Blogged on 4-17 & 4-23-09
• Book Trailers--Blogged on 3-13-09
• Podcasts
• Public Events
• Email signatures--Blogged on 2-6-09
• Letters
• Volunteer
• Word of Mouth--Blogged on 5-22-09

We'll discuss each one of these in detail week by week. I imagine I'll do these in relative order, but I might think up some more along the way, so we'll wing it as we go along. If you think of any others as the weeks go by, feel free to chime in and share your experience.

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

Find it on Amazon.
 

Monday, May 5, 2008

Markets

On The Brighter Side

We're looking for humorous essays and short stories, both fiction and non-fiction, even if it has a horrific edge, a science fiction angle, or a romantic sensibility to it. We don't care. Anything goes! If you can make us laugh, we'll pay you for it. Stories should be anywhere from 50-2,000 words.

Pays: 3-5 cents/word.

*****
Spacesuits and Sixguns

Spacesuits and Sixguns is a magazine of contemporary pulp fiction - simple, straightforward storytelling with an emphasis on action. 4,000 words or less.

Pays: 3 cents a word to a maximum of $100.

*****

Love Stories Magazine

The overall theme should involve short stories of love and romance. These stories may be contemporary, historic, inspirational, paranormal, or any other theme as long as love and romance are the main thrust of the story. Story length should range from 2,000 to 5,000 Words. After you sign the release we will issue a payment of $300 to you on publication, along with complimentary copies of the magazine.

*****

DaySpring Cards

At DaySpring we are committed to the publication of greeting cards as a ministry. We believe the ministry of our cards is found in the truth of Scripture and in the heart of God. We see greeting cards as tools to help Christians communicate their hearts and God’s heart to the hearts of others. The quality of our cards is meant to enhance the presentation of its message. It is our purpose to create greeting cards that are relevant, meet specific needs, help express God’s loving intentions for mankind, and bring encouragement in the Lord.

Pays: $60/card

*****

Fellow Broad Universe member, Patricia Altner sent me a note telling me about her vampire blog. Vampire readers and writers, be sure to stop by and visit her blog, Vampire Notes if you're hungry to feed your vampire cravings.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Check Out La Gringa

I promised you an interview with Colleen Lindsay. It's over at the OWW newsletter site. Go here.

Due to space constraints I had to edit a big hunk of the interview out, which was a shame because Colleen's led a pretty fascinating life. I'm hoping people like the interview and will ask for more.

The thing I love best about interviews is seeing the personality of the interviewee come through. Some people are tough cookies though. They are so distant and reserved, you can't see the real person for the wall they put up. I'm sure a lot of it is nerves, and I try to soften their hard edges with questions that ask about the person rather than the career.

Colleen was the perfect guest! She was so warm and honest. And her humor was infectious. I wish all my interviews were that much fun. Go over and soak up all that good advice she gave. And read her blog. There's never a dull moment with that woman.

Before long, I'll be the subject of interviews. I've already answered quite a few questions for some interviews coming up in the next couple of months. I have to admit, my favorite questions were the really wacky ones. Hmm…what does that say about me?

I'm going on a mini hiatus, so maybe just a couple of blog posts next week while I recuperate from eye surgery. Wish me luck for Monday. If I can get my "secretary" to upload a post for me, you might hear about my progress. I am anxious to find out if colors will be more vivid for me after the surgery. That would be icing on the cake.

Talk to you soon!