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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Touch of Teyha

Well that puppy video never uploaded from YouTube, so we'll have to do this the old fashion way.

The foster mom calls the puppy,Tehya, but we haven't decided whether to keep the name or not. Dogs have a tendency to name themselves. You dog owners know what I mean. But the little whirlwind is cute and apparently fearless. LOL! In this video she is playing with a 100lb male rottie who is also up for adoption.

The foster mom says Tehya is VERY smart.

Oy, vey! We've had a couple of those before. There's nothing scarier than a really smart dog.

Click on the link and see puppy in action. We still haven't gotten word on when we can get her. I am hoping for August 22 because I'll have Greg back by then and he can spend some quality time with her.

He has been waiting for this little girl a very long time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

And Puppy Makes Four

Not that we didn't have enough on our plate already, but now we are getting ready to welcome a new addition to our family.

"Puppy" (we don't have a name for her yet) is another rescue. She's a rottie pup, about 3 months old.

Expect lots of pictures in the coming weeks. We haven't had a puppy in this house for a very long time.

Ironically, we weren't looking for a puppy, but when I saw pictures and video of this rascal trouncing on a 100lb male rottie, I knew she was the one.

Poor Greg has been sending me links for adoptable dogs for over two years and I kept saying "not the one". But just like house hunting, you know when it's the right one. And that's how I felt about this little dickens.

I hope we get her this weekend because Greg and I have a few days of vacation together and that would be a great time to get to know each other and bond.

***

We're also having our home photographed for the virtual tour this Saturday too. My friend, Mel came over yesterday and we started dressing half the house. We were up late, but it turned out beautifully. We're leaving the bedrooms until Friday.

I am very pleased with how the house looks so far. Who knew such small touches can make such a dramatic effect? I closeted a lot of artwork and sculpture that Mel has placed here and there. It was very striking. That woman KNOWS how to decorate. She has like super decorating powers, or something. I can't wait to show you pictures!

I am exhausted though. What with preparing a house to sell, looking for a house and adopting a dog (a huge undertaking, and a topic for another post) I feel like a limp rag. Things moved much faster than we expected.

Can someone hide me for a day or two? LOL. I need a break.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stage-struck

This will not be a normal week on this blog. Since half the world is away at RWA in San Francisco, I think we'll do without markets and writing news this week in lieu of life in general.

So I interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to bring you the latest on how to prepare a house for sale.

I've discovered there is a whole other subculture when it comes to buying and selling houses. Last week, I learned about staging, how to decorate a house to make it ready to sell.

I am a pretty fair decorator, in as much that when people walk into my home I get the usual ahhs and oohs. But last week, my friend Mel, taught me about staging.

We walked room by room and she rattled off a list of things I needed to move out, move around or change. Gar, my precious gargoyle, which we've had in one home or another for our entire married life--GONE. A huge old English oak sideboard--GONE.

My paintings were in the wrong rooms. And an enormous Chinese enameled bowl got a new address. Even my studio was rearranged to showcase a painting "in progress" next to a meticulously staged still life of paintbrushes and palette.

What we couldn't change right away, I took down as notes.

My dear, dear friend is taking an entire day off from work just so she can help me "dress" the house this coming Friday. Is that a true friend, or what?

Even though the house wasn't ready, the realtor already had people interested in seeing it. I hope that's a good sign.

My next door neighbor is also selling his house. I think his has prettier landscaping, but we have more elegant touches inside our home. The bathroom is entirely custom with marble walls, a spa tub and his and hers vanities. The kitchen is gorgeous, with brand new cabinets and a marble and tumbled stone backsplash. It too was specially customized.

It pays to sleep with a really handy guy. :o)

I'll try to post some pictures by Saturday so I can show off some of the things Greg has built for me.

In the coming weeks I'll post a few updates, especially if I learn anything useful that you can use too.

Buying a house: We've bought quite a few homes in our lifetime, but this last one has to be very special. Greg and I have agreed that we do not want to settle for "okay". We want a home that will be comfortable, a town that is friendly and city services that are dependable.

We found one. We're not ready to put a bid on it yet because it's only been on the market a couple of weeks. But it definitely rates at the top of our search.

The one thing I've learned about shopping for homes is that you have to visit quite a few in order to establish a feel for what you like, and what you don't like. And then of course, you have to think about your significant other. How do his desires fit in?

It's been a very long and hard week when it comes to house hunting and selling. But we're definitely in the ballpark of goals.

More house updates (and pictures) by Saturday for sure!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Con Speaking

Panels on writing, business, or promotion can range from dull to "can't write all the good stuff fast enough".

And who among of us has ever sat in the audience hoping the speaker will tell us the big secrets that will get our books published?

This is basically why we go to workshop panels—to learn what we don't already know.

But even that's not enough. You have to be interesting too. Almost any of us can accumulate enough knowledge and share it. But there are surprisingly few people who can fascinate us from beginning to end with their delivery.

I've noted a few things that make for a successful and interesting panelist/speaker.

• Know your topic. That's a given, wouldn't you think? But I've attended workshops where the audience knew more than the lecturer. I would have thought it funny except for the fact I paid for that workshop.

• Stay on topic. Even if it's an interesting discussion, it can sometimes be annoying when the panel or speaker goes off on a tangent.

• Bring something new to the equation. Nothing frustrates me more than hearing a speaker who regurgitates info I could have gotten anywhere. For example, if you are going to talk about historical research, don't tell us to do a keyword search on the internet. Tell us to visit museums, read diaries of the period, or locate city records. Wander cemeteries, read era cookbooks, and haunt antique stores.

In other words, think outside the box.

• If you're on a panel, share and share alike. Panels contain anywhere from two to six people. I don't think I've ever been to one with more than six—and six was too many in my opinion. The more boisterous speakers overshadow the quiet ones. If the quiet ones had anything of import to say, they are too timid or too polite to grab the microphone.

People are chosen for panels for their expertise. Be polite and offer the quieter panelists a chance to speak. Don't hog the limelight, no matter how much you think your public adores you.

• And if you happen to be the sole speaker, please don't bring everything back to how brilliant YOU are. You'll create as many antagonists as you will minions.

People who flatter themselves are a big turnoff for me. I don't mean brags as in: "Hey, my book hit the NY bestseller's list". That's not conceit, that's stating a fact. I'm talking about things like name dropping and ego stroking in order to make the offender more important than he really is.

My thinking is that people who sing their own praises at events where they are supposed to speak about a topic other than themselves are looking for minions. And I'm not really minion material.

Stay approachable, and grounded.

• When an audience member asks a question, repeat the question so the whole room knows what's being discussed. Always remember the poor schmoe in the back of the room. (That would be me.)

• Enunciate...as the nuns used to drill into me. Speak in a clear, loud voice. Remember also, not to race through your lecture. People are trying to take notes as you talk.

• Be polite. People probably paid good money to hear you speak. Treat everyone with respect, including your co-panelists and the moderator.

• It's okay to talk about your book. Just don't do it with every other sentence. If an author mentions it more than 3 times in the course of the lecture, it comes off as a sales spiel. Focus on your topic.

• If the workshop organizers don't hand out a feedback form to the audience, type one up yourself and hand it out. Sweeten the deal by making it a drawing, offering one of your books as the prize. Not only will more people take the time to give you feedback, but you might even earn a new reader that way. Be sure to announce the winner on your website to draw traffic.

• One thing I'd like to see done more often is for speakers to hand out business cards and/or bookmarks. Many times after the lecture, I'd like to learn more about a speaker. A handy business card would have encouraged me to travel to that speaker's site.

The more interesting you come across, the more likely people will want to learn more about you. And the more they learn about you, the more likely they are to pick up one of your books.

As always, treat your author identity as your brand. You want to be sparkly, intelligent and witty. Just like your books!



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

Find it on Amazon.
 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

If I Die Before I Wake

My editor, Angela James had a recent post where she asked if there were people who know about the different aspects of your life and who to contact?

In a nutshell, no.

Greg knows my local friends. I know his local friends. But neither of us knows each other's online friends. If I fell off the face of the Earth, I think I have enough friends who would email me eventually to find out where I was. I tend to keep in touch with people regularly, if not through their blogs, at least through emails.

I imagine when Greg finally gets to seeing what's on my computer, he might answer an email if he recognizes it as someone I've mentioned. But to be honest, I doubt he would. I get an average of 100+ emails a day. Multiply that by a week, or a month, or several months and the thing would probably shut down on its own.

I have a blank book where I jot down all my passwords. Maybe it's time I did an address book with all my local and online friends too.

Angie thought it morbid to discuss this. But I think it's sobering and important. We are connected through the ether more than ever before. I'd want to know if my friends were okay if they went missing for any length of time. It would be nice if their spouses or children let me know.

And my CPs are very dear to me. I'd want them to know if I kicked the bucket--if only so they could stop wondering why I'm not answering their emails. *g*

I've discussed this before but it bears repeating. Would your significant other know to email at least one of your online friends if anything should happen to you? Would you, if the shoe was on the other foot?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Markets

I should really enter this one. I have a million stories, but which to choose?

A Cup of Comfort for Dog Lovers II

Oh, how we humans love our canine companions -- for so many reasons and in so many ways that one Cup of Comfort collection of uplifting dog stories just wasn't enough. So we're giving all you dog-loving writers another opportunity to share your personal stories of canine comfort with a growing legion of dog-loving readers. This volume will feature both serious and humorous anecdotal stories covering a wide range of topics and perspectives and varying breeds of dogs. We do NOT want sad stories about a dog's illness, injury, or death, though we will consider stories that weave a beloved pet's illness or death into an otherwise positive story. The story should focus on the dog's remarkable attributes and/or actions as well as on the special relationship between the dog and his/her human(s).

Payment: $500 Grand Prize awarded to one story per volume; $100 (each) all other stories published in book plus complimentary copy of book on publication.

Story Length: 1,000-2,000 words

Submission Deadline: 9/30/2008

*****
More doggie markets

Clean Run

Welcomes the submission of educational and engaging feature articles covering the entire range of issues pertaining to the training of dogs for agility, competing in our sport, the conduct of training classes and agility events, and the health and safety of our agility dogs. Our best source of content is you—the people around the world who are out there running and training dogs in the sport of agility. Clean Run provides a forum in which you can share your experiences and expertise with over 11,000 agility enthusiasts of all ability levels worldwide. With your help, Clean Run continues to be a vital and informative publication.

PAY: $75 - $300

*****

Family Circle Fiction Contest

Deadline: August 31, 2008

Genre: Short Stories

Open to: US Citizens 21+

Word count: 2500 words max story.

Prize: $750, publication in Family Circle, a nationally known women's magazine; a gift certificate to a mediabistro.com course of his or her choice and one-year mediabistro.com AvantGuild membership. Two runners-up receive $250, a one-year mediabistro.com AvantGuild membership, and possible online publication.

*****

The Healing Project

We seek stories of your personal experience, or that of family members, friends care givers or spouses. "Voices Of" books feature true stories of literary merit and real emotional impact, stories that give insight, provide inspiration, courage and comfort to those in need. We also seek stories that might show a lighter side of the challenge.

Word count: 500 to 2,000 words

Payment: $200.
Similar to Chicken Soup series.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Maya Reynolds Workshop

I was going to put this in tomorrow's Markets post, but today's the deadline!! This one is an online class and very reasonable too, so don't miss it.

My friend, Maya Reynolds is holding this workshop. Maya is a phenomenal speaker and she packs a lot of information into her workshops. If you don't read Maya's blog, you should. She stays on top of the publishing industry, so she knows what she's talking about in her workshop.

Everything You Want to Know About Publishing

Here's the five-day schedule:

Monday: Overview of the industry. A quick historical perspective. What you need to know about genres. How your personality plays into your approach to getting published.

Tuesday: Publishers. Who the major players are and how they think.

Wednesday: Agents. What they do, and how to go about getting one.

Thursday: Booksellers. Why Borders and Barnes & Noble are having such problems. What's going on over at Amazon.

Friday: A look at the major trends. How to increase your odds of getting published.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Conferences

Since the RWA conference in San Francisco is fast approaching, it seemed only natural that I should talk about conferences. But I think this is going to be a two-parter. There's a lot to cover. Today, I'll talk about cons in general and how to prepare for one. Next week, I'll give you a list, and how to choose a con best suited for your genre and book, as well as a list of well-received promo items.

As a promotional venture, conferences rock! Not only are they fantastic networking venues, but you are surrounded by throngs of potential new readers for your book. All you have to do is introduce yourself. And promo giveaways are a great way to do that.

I've been to several cons and all of them were different, even the ones I had attended once before. It's never quite the same experience.

For example, a couple of years ago I attended the Writers League of Texas conference. It was terrific. Lots of great workshops, lots of authors, and a roomful of interested agents--what's not to love? Yet the second time I went, it was a little better than lukewarm. Out of greed or poor planning, they registered too many people for too small a hotel. People couldn't get rooms, and everything was crowded. I felt like a cow being led from one corral to the next. Overcrowding also led to less than enthusiastic workshops, and agents who skipped out early. I don't blame them. I couldn't wait to get out either.

But then there are mega cons, like RWA. I am glad it was in Dallas last year because it is an expensive engagement, even without travel expenses. But RWA certainly gives you your money's worth. It was the largest, most well organized con I had EVER been to. The logistics to pull something like this off had to be unbelievable and yet these people were on top of things every step of the way. I was very impressed.

You too must be prepared. I started with small cons so I fell into this gradually. By the time I went to RWA, I felt like a pro.

The first thing you need to decide is what kind of con to attend.

There are cons geared more for the fan, and others designed for the author. Both have value. If you want to reach readers, definitely hit the fan cons. Science fiction, fantasy and romance all cater to this audience regularly. Next week, I'll put together a list of some good ones.

If you are going as an author promoting your work, here are some tips on how to prepare.

• Plan ahead. Cons are expensive, both to attend and to stock. If you can plan a year ahead, you can decide which con will give you the most bang for your buck.

• Try out the local ones first. Not only will it be less expensive, but the travel won't be nearly as stressful.

• Dress comfortably, but professionally. I didn’t have to tell you that, did I? (grin)

• 6-9 months before the con: Make reservations. Big cons fill up fast and the rooms even faster.

• 3-4 months before the con: If you're going to give away goodies at the con, contact the promo liaison in plenty of time to reserve a spot. Most cons will make room for you, but why take the chance? Always ask for their timetable and their specs.

• 3 months before the con: Make sure you have an ample supply of business cards. The cards should have your website, blog and contact information. Even if you don't put these on the table, you will be handing them out to every person you meet. Each introduction is an opportunity to network. Don't waste it.

• 1 month before the con: Buy any food goodies (candy) as close as you can to the con date. All other promo giveaways should already be purchased and ready for transport.

• 1 week before the con: Lay out everything you're taking with you and do an inventory check.

• Day before the con: Try to arrive early if possible. You'll appreciate the time to relax and get to know the lay of the hotel. If the promo coordinator is available, hand her your giveaways.

• Day of the con: If it is up to you to put out your goodies, take the time to do a good job and display your items nicely. You'll probably have to check the table several times as visitors rifle through everything.

• After the con: Remember that paper promo will probably be tossed out as soon as the con is over, so if you want them back, go get them.


During the con

I went to a con once and bought a book from every author who took the time to speak to me. There were surprisingly few. One not only stuck around and answered my questions, but he gave me a free book. I was so touched, I bought his other two novels that were in the book shop.

Another author hand sold me her book just by remembering I was in the audience during her workshop. She asked for feedback and then she talked about her book. I liked being appreciated, and so will your potential readers.

• Smile. You're among friends--really.

• Never speak disparagingly about other authors, editors or agents.

• Be friendly. If you see a visitor picking up bookmarks, hand him one of yours.

• Avoid being clingy. It'll scare people off. Okay…it'll scare me off.

• Easy on the alcohol. Drunk chicks aren't cool.

• If you can go with a friend, that would be the icing on the cake. You can help each other and then you'll have someone to share a drink with after it's over.

I love cons, but this year will be my first year as a published author. That makes it even more special.


Enjoy your day in the sun. The people you meet at cons are there because they love books. And you love books. Now doesn't that sound like a match made in heaven?



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

Find it on Amazon.
 

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fear of Failure

I want to direct you to a link my buddy and CP, Mike Keyton sent to me. It is the commencement address to Harvard graduates given by JK Rowling. I thought it was wonderful and speaks to all of us.

Rowling touched a chord when she said that it was the fear of failure that spurred her on. I know that catalyst all too well.

Fear of failure has always been a motivation for me. It toughens me. It humbles me. And it forces me to pick myself up and start over.

I think it's kind of funny that people always see me as a fearless go-getter, when in truth I am afraid of everything. It's because of that fear I have succeeded on so many levels.

Please take a few minutes to read Rowling's commencement speech. I promise it will inspire you. These are things all of us need to be reminded of—especially writers.

*****
Public Service Announcements

Registration for the Muse Online Writers Workshop is now open.

Deadline: September 1st, 2008.

Don’t miss this annual FREE conference offering you tons of FREE workshops and chat workshops for one entire week.

Held: October 13 - 19, 2008.

Site: http://www.themuseonlinewritersconference.com/

Please click on REGISTRATIONS and register today.

If for some reason you have difficulty registering, feel free to email Lea Schizas at: museitupeditor@ yahoo.ca

*****

JA Konrath has compiled all his good advice, tips and tricks into one handy dandy download. And he is giving it away FREE. Go here and partake. Then be a good soul and buy one of his books.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Party Animals

I want to thank JK and her rowdy friends for coming over yesterday. It was great fun, but I've been sweeping up streamers and broken glass all day. And the dog was drunk! Which one of you slipped him the mickey?

Poor Tank.


***

UPDATE: It pays to post.
Winner of JK Coi's, My Immortal is Shelley Munro.

Congrats Shelley! Email JK at her super secret address for details. If you don't know her addy, email me and I'll redirect you.

(My email addy is on my profile.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

JK Coi



I don't remember how I met JK, but I'm glad I did. She is a shaker and a maker and I love people like that! JK has a bubbly personality that defies the general condition of most authors. And she really gets involved in the writing community. I get some of my best dirt from her blogs. (grin)

Today, she's popping in for a visit and one lucky commentator will win a free download of MY IMMORTAL. So don't shy away. Step up and leave a comment.

And don't you just love that tagline: Immortals to die for. That just conjures up all kinds of yum.

It's a privilege and a pleasure to bring you, JK Coi!

***


Hi there! How is everyone this fine day?

I’ve had a lot of time to figure out what I was going to blog about today. I think Maria and I made these arrangements between us about two months ago. Which is why, I have of course, left things to the last minute as usual. This time, though, I’m not sure I can blame my natural avoidance tendencies for my procrastination when it comes to this post.

It’s summertime!

Who else has been feeling the pull of the season? It’s hard to resist, isn’t it? Especially when you haven’t got any vacation time to spare, the deadlines are piling up and the sun shines brightly through the boring mini-blinds on your office window?

For me, summer is all about the senses...The tempting zest of barbecue chicken fresh from the grill. The lure of colourful beach towels shaken out and laid on the warm, gritty sand. The cool splash of lake water on your skin as children splash and play, their laughter drawing your attention from a spicy book to make you smile.

Though you try to focus, to channel your characters and complete your edits, these things call to you—like that damned box of chocolate fudge truffles I’ve been ignoring ever since my husband brought them home last week.

So what’s a girl to do but submit? It’s either that or the toss the diet and give up all hope of wearing my new yellow polka dot bikini before summer’s end.

I guess it’s a good thing then, that my second book, Immortal Kiss, is already finished and ready for release on August 1.

This is Baron’s story, the newest member of this group of warriors, but in no way is he the least experienced. He had already lived a dangerous life in the military before joining the Immortals, and those skills have proven to be very useful in his new occupation. Baron has embraced everything about being Immortal and left his old life behind without a second thought. That is until the only woman he’s ever loved shows up on his doorstep one night—rather, her battered and broken body is dumped on his doorstep by a vampire out to exact a little revenge.

Oh, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, perhaps on another blog somewhere, but I LOVE being a guest in someone else’s home, love poking through their closets and that medicine cabinet in the bathroom—and no one has a better cyberhome than Maria, who’s always got the greatest market news and writing tips.

Thanks so much for having me here!

J.K. Coi
Immortals to die for.
www.jkcoi.com
www.jkcoi.blogspot.com



***

Maria here again.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free download of My Immortal. To buy a copy of Immortal Kiss go here.


Thanks for coming over JK. The Tankster loves to have company, especially when they bring dog cookies. Next time: bring cookies. LOL!

I've discovered you can't buy a rottie's loyalty--but you can rent it. Good to know when they tip the scales at 130lbs. Hope he wasn't too heavy on your lap.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Saga Continues

Still house hunting.

I think we're getting closer to the kind of property we want. Originally, we assumed that no matter what we find, we'll have to remodel something. (We're funny that way.) But Greg suggested we raise our ceiling price in the hopes that the perfect house could be found for a few thousand more.

There are things he wants and things I want. Since this is going to be our last house (I hope!) we want it to be as perfect as possible.

He needs a big workshop. Greg is one of those guys. You know the ones, the kind who can take a toothpick and a piece of wire and build a shopping mall. (grin) Over the years, he's acquired a great many woodworking tools. So we want a shop that can hold all these things, a place he will enjoy puttering around in.

Me, I want a pond and some good soil. I'd like to keep a large garden and a few farm animals. I also need a quiet room in the house, somewhere where I can do that other thing I do--write!

Land is becoming harder to come by, especially close to the city. I found a great one today that seems to have everything we want and more. It was especially designed for horse people. I don't plan to get a horse--too much maintenance, but it is a nice piece of land and a pretty house.

Greg is probably relieved I don't want horses. LOL! Texas is big horse country, especially where we live now. But horses are luxury items and I'm too practical for that. My animals traditionally serve a useful purpose. (She says this as she sees Tank slink onto the couch. LOL!)

The Tankster for all his laziness is extremely helpful around the house. I've taught past rotties to herd and I'm pretty sure he'll be just as able. He seems to have the instinct for it. He's great protection too. All he has to do is stand there and look BIG.

***
Terrible sinus headache today. The worst I've ever had. At least I think it's a sinus headache. My whole head feels like it's in a vise, and it's been like that for two days. Is that what a sinus headache feels like? I've had very few and this one is knocking me down.

Does anyone have any cures? Sinus medicine isn't helping.

Off to find a cold compress.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Social Networks

I've resisted talking about social networks because I have an obvious bias against them. I want to be upfront and admit that. But I will discuss the pros and cons as they occurred in my experience and let you decide for yourself if it would make a good marketing tool for your career.

Social networks are groups like MySpace, Facebook, Linked In, or LiveJournal. They work off the 'friending' model. I wouldn't say that you are judged by the number of friends you have on your list, but it does seem to be the thing to do with your site. Social networks are wildly popular among bloggers who like to chat and they form tight circles on very specific interests.

This is an excellent marketing tool if it is in your comfort range. It is not in mine. Truth be told, the friending part turns me off a little. I love making friends, I just don't want to do it according to some master plan community. I'm such a rebel! :o)

I see Live Journal as primarily more blog than social circle but it does do both, while Linked In is more network oriented and less bloggy. Live Journal is also starting to look more professional and go the way of WordPress and Blogger. Its formats are far more businesslike now than they were when I first tried it, and judging by their emails they seem to be going through a transition phase.

When I was looking for a blog vehicle, I tried several. LiveJournal was the first and it immediately irked me by not allowing me to label my blog with the title of my choice in upper and lower case letters. Then it hated my passwords. By the time I found a password and name it liked, I was too frustrated and forgot to write it down in my password book.

And now, you guessed it, I don't remember them. I think the final straw was when it welcomed me into the fold with a cutesy email like I was some 16-year old.

MySpace was both a good and bad experience. You are bombarded with ads and it is easy for 'adult' sites to post on your page with a live link bringing visitors back to their sites. The basic template of information is pretty rigid. Unless you're a code monkey, you are limited to what it allows you to post. (Blogger for example, gives you a lot of leeway on what modules of information you can load.)

MySpace can be customized and there are plenty of places that will give you their templates for free. Some of these are GORGEOUS! I absolutely love the art backgrounds that are available. Here's one site. This is where I got mine.

Yes. I am on MySpace, but it is just another site where people can find me. I do update it occasionally. Unlike LJ, MySpace was incredibly easy to set up, a little harder to customize, but once you're up, it is easy to maintain. Another plus is that they don't bug you with emails on their 'progress'.

A drawback to MySpace is that it is a graphics-heavy site so everything loads slowly. But it is very easy to friend people and you can find each other by typing in a name or certain parameters for the people you're looking for. In that regard, MySpace is quite useful. It is very easy to find people with the same interests.

To its credit, quite a few people have found me through MySpace, even an old high school friend, so it's quite effective as a friending model. It's the only reason I've kept it.

As for Facebook, I signed up once, but I thought they wanted too much information from me so I withdrew. Big Brother knows too much about me now. I don't want to encourage him further. Like any other social network, if it is comfortable to you, use it.

As a marketing tool, it doesn't hurt to be seen in any of these vehicles. It would probably be most advantageous to people who really work the system, people who like to chat and visit. People who socialize. (Which explains my utter failure. LOL!)

Social networks are hugely popular with younger people. And I'm convinced you have to be under 25 to know how to customize MySpace with any efficiency.

This is where I tell you to do what I say and not what I do, given my obvious friending weakness.

Tips for making the most of social networks.

• Friend often. On LJ, you friend other LJers through a hyperlink that is listed on a friends' page. On MySpace, it is more visual, and you can see who your friends are by their icons on its friends' page. Mine is my book, though some people do use pictures of themselves. Being a visual person, this is more appealing to me.

• Update regularly. People come back to see what you're talking about.

• Belong to groups. This is especially useful in networks like MySpace and Facebook. I think LJ has a group feature too. I believe it's called 'communities'.

• Make announcements. MySpace has a neat feature that allows you to make announcements to all your friends.

• Make your space attractive. Always bear in mind who your audience is. Live Journal was very limited at one time, but I've noticed some lovely new formats lately. I've found a few that look so professional, I almost didn't realize it was a LiveJournal account.

MySpace is very difficult to customize without a template. And therein lies the biggest problem. You have too many choices for templates. I browsed sites for hours and I barely scratched the surface of available options.

I will tout any promotional vehicle that has legs. Social Networks definitely work. Use them, but don't limit yourself to them. If you restrict yourself only to those you can 'friend' that cuts into your potential market. Not everyone will be in a social network, so it pays to cast your net in different waters. This is why I use MySpace even though I am not the target audience.

One more benefit of social networks is that they're free. LiveJournal does have a paid site that frees you from those nasty ads, but the basic plan is still free. Free is good--especially for the author on a budget.

Add social networks to your list of potential vehicles in your marketing plan.

**An updated post on Social Networks is in The Self-Publisher's Punch List.

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

Find it on Amazon.
 

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Coming Soon

We have a visitor this Monday!

JK Coi, who occasionally stops by and posts a comment will be guest blogging this Monday, July 14th.

JK is in the midst of her Immortal series and she plans on giving an extra treat to one lucky commentator on Monday's post.

Be sure to come back and vie for a chance for one of JK Coi's books.

My Immortal is Book 1 in The Immortals series now available from Linden Bay Romance
Immortal Kiss (Book 2) debuts August 1, 2008
Dark Immortal (Book 3) releases in January 2009

For more information about JK and her books, visit her website.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I'm over at Marianne's!

I was trying to decide what to discuss today, but my head has been elsewhere recently.

Let me direct you instead to Marianne Arkin's blog. She let me pop in today and I talked about dogged determination--something I'm rather well known for. *g*

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Because I've been so busy house hunting lately, I've spent very little time on the internet, leaving me a little behind. If anyone has been posting any good stuff, I hope to catch up with you this weekend.

I surprised Greg last week when I showed him my system for keeping track of blogs. Google Reader is my friend. I could never keep up with you guys if it weren't for that. At last count there were 269 blogs on my reader. But I am getting ready to cut that number significantly.

You see, I do a lot of tryouts. I'll leave the blog on the reader for a month or two. That usually gives me some idea on the blogger's frequency and how interesting he is on a regular basis. Bloggers who continually complain or whine get tossed out immediately. It doesn't matter if they are famous authors or unpublished.

I do not tolerate negative behavior. I truly believe that kind of blogger is not only depressing, but counterproductive and toxic. He takes good energy away from you, making you feel insecure along with him.

There are too many great bloggers out there. Why waste time on the gloomy Gusses?

Stop over and visit one of the great ones. Tell Marianne, I sent you!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Angela James on e-publishing

I usually have markets on Monday, but this is an unusual week in that I am doing a lot of traveling for the next few days.

I will leave you with an excellent article by my editor at Samhain on the e-publishing model. I consider Angela James a true expert in the field of e-publishing, and certainly someone who has earned my very deep respect.

Occasionally, I come on here and try to explain e-publishing, but Angie does it so much better than I can, and she is obviously more fluent in its mysteries.

Please pop over and read her first article on this series. I'll be sure to post links to any other articles she has published.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Bad Boy

I couldn't download the video I had of me on this monster, but this will give you some idea. Unlike this test driver, I had jungle to cut down.

It was amazing! I highly recommend this mower if you have serious lawn to mow.

This thing is expensive. I will not kid you on that. But I wouldn't be surprised if it outlasted me. It is built like a tank.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Back to the City

Addendum: The Tank and armadillo match was too blurry, so I will post a picture of my handsome dog alone.



We are heading back to Dallas later today.

It was a short visit to SE Texas but I had a blast. Aside from the shock of what Greg did to my elegant Italian decor, (he went Oriental on me) I learned how to drive the new lawn tractor.

I hate to call it a lawn mower. The brand name is Bad Boy, and it surely is. It's more of a commercial mower and heavier than any I'd ever seen before. It took me about twenty minutes to get the hang of it and then I was flying!

I probably cleared three acres of jungle in a couple of hours. It was incredible!

While I was there I saw plenty of wildlife too. Tank had his first encounter with an armadillo. There were also plenty of wild rabbits, cardinals, woodpeckers, red hawks and deer. I'll post a picture of Tank and the dillo when I get back to my house.

I miss the country. But I have some work to do on my house this week and I'll need Greg's help, so back to the city we go.

We are also seeing another realtor on Monday to look at more land and houses.

Check back later today when I can post some pictures.

Happy Fourth of July

I know I was supposed to have a Killer Campaign post up today, but I am 300 miles away from my regular computer and I forgot to pack my Word file on my jump drive.

Next week. Promise.

Today is the Fourth Of July. Every country in the world has a July 4th, but in the US, it's especially noteworthy. July 4th is Independence Day.

In 1776, a ragtag group of colonies broke away from Mother England. Angry over taxation, frustrated over poor representation, the colonists declared independence.

We've never looked back.

It would not be an exaggeration to note that the smart money would have said the US didn't have a chance. We were a fledgling country, fighting amongst ourselves, unable to come to terms on how we should govern.

There were still strong ties to England, even though they regarded us as peasants--and perhaps they still do. (grin)

We were and are a boisterous people, generally unafraid, and sporting an indomitable will as part of our normal makeup. It is what makes us American. It is what makes me proud and thankful for what we have here.

If you've not been to the US, I hope you get the chance one day. And if you have been to the US, be sure to come to Texas. It's my favorite state! :o)

Happy Fourth of July to all my American friends.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Your Writing Stories

I am going out of town this afternoon, but I should be able to check on my blog by the time I reach my destination.

Yesterday, inspired by Tia Nevitt's example, I posted my writing story and invited you to do the same.

Boy, you guys surprised me. Not only did I get to know some of you a little bit better, but I even met new people, new blogs, new websites. Holy moley! I was having an internet high!

So to all you lurkers…yes, I know there were a lot of you, let me introduce you to the brave ones who posted. Check out their blogs and websites and expand your horizons. I hit the motherlode.

Of course, there's Tia, who not only has a personal blog at Tia's Writing Blog, but she also has the very wonderful Fantasy Debut blog. I don't tout reviewers that often, but you can't go wrong with Tia's reviews. She is honest, thoughtful and generous with her reviews and interviews. Check out both her sites.

Sarita Leone is a faker! She said she was ordinary. Ha! When I went to her sites I discovered a smorgasbord of talents. I don't know where to send you first. Sarita has several great writer blogs. There's her writing journal, From The Heart.

And Sarita Leone Pages appears to be a blog from her characters' pov. From The Garden is her garden diary. From The Kitchen is her recipe blog. (I was drooling here!)

My eyes didn't know where to land, there was so much to see. If you want to visit Sarita's website, go here.

Maripat, who happens to be one of my CPs, also dropped in yesterday. Maripat has two journals. One's on Blogger and the other is Live Journal. Maripat also moderates at Forward Motion too, a wonderful forum for any kind of writer.

Go visit her. And count yourself lucky if you get to know her.

Mari Carr is new to me. She's one of my fellow Samhain authors. She wrote her writer story here. Mari writes sexy books. Her latest is called Erotic Research. You can check it out here and also read the excerpt.

Through Mari, I also found some other interesting blogs that she's associated with. Her other blog is here. And she's also with The Kittens, a great little blog that has a lot of wonderful authors and some very interesting information.

Finally, there's Red Garnier. Red is another author I met through Samhain.

That is where we met, isn't it, Red? LOL!

The funny thing about writers is that you discover you often travel in similar circles. Red Garnier has some wonderful titles right now, including "Color My Heart", "Seven Sinners", and "I Take Thee". Not only that, Red has recently signed with NAL for her erotic contemporary title, "Satin Sash".

Red rocks! Check out her website and dare to call me a liar.

Mary F. who snuck in the back door popped in to say hello yesterday. I discovered that Mary belongs to one of my very favorite blogs, Wet Noodle Posse. This blog is terrific for excellent writing information. I always learn something there. And then there is Mary's personal blog, which is now on my reader (thank you!).

Rhian Cahill also popped in and her story is here! You can also visit her on her website.

This proves what a small world it is. Rhian is Mari's CP, whom I met through Samhain. It's kind of like the 7 steps to Kevin Bacon, only it's with Rhian Cahill. (grin)

***

Thanks to everyone who shared their stories! I really enjoyed them.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Writer Story

Tia Nevitt wrote about her writer story and she got the idea from her buddy, Kristin.

I thought this was a wonderful idea and I encourage you to tell your own writer story. Post a comment here and maybe we can send some traffic your way. I'll repost any links on this blog on Thursday. Tia's story is in two parts. Part one is here. And part two is here.

The idea of telling your writer story is to give a tiny glimpse on what started you on your journey. When I read Tia's account, it really gave me an appreciation for what she went through and it also showed me a bit of her perseverance and passion.

So here's my story for what it's worth.

English is not my first language. I was the firstborn child of Mexican immigrants. My father understood some English, but my mother did not.

When it was time for me to go to school, I struggled terribly. I was always very frustrated and depressed that I couldn't keep up with the other kids. But it galvanized me like nothing else. I didn't want to be left behind, so I doubled my efforts, memorizing rules of English and practicing my writing every night. At the wee age of six years old, I promised myself I would outdo every single classmate before I finished grade school.

As I learned English, so did my parents. And in turn, it made it easier for my siblings now that they had a big sister to blaze the way.

That was the first hurdle of many.

Since creative writing was still too difficult for me, I concentrated on drawing and became pretty good at a very young age. It was the only real way I had for expressing myself. Even back then, I had an overwhelming need to communicate what was inside me.

Every year, my English improved and so did my spelling. Before I finished grade school, I had won the state spelling bee, beating out a longtime rival and the class favorite for champion. In my mind, I had finally made it. Now it was time to find a new challenge, and that's the first time I ever consciously wrote a story all my own.

Typical for me, it was SF and it was a spoof on the fledgling Apollo mission. It was about Apollo 124 and an astronaut who'd rather eat than watch the control board during a docking procedure. Houston had a problem long before the infamous lines were spoken during the Apollo 13 mission.

It became an instant hit and it was passed around to several other grades. I was shocked that people loved it so much. Who knew I could write--let alone be funny? Certainly not me. I just wrote what I wanted to read.

Ironically, I still didn't pursue writing despite my early "fame". I always volunteered if someone needed an article for the school newspaper or a company newsletter, but I never wrote of my own volition.

Slowly, almost imperceptively, I found myself writing more and more. But I wasn't a writer. No, not me. I convinced myself of that until one day when I wrote a story that was burning inside me. When I finished, I discovered to my shock--I had a novel!

Without realizing it, I had turned into a writer.

Michelangelo once said that his marble figures were buried inside the massive slabs of stone. All he did was chip away the excess and release them from their shrouds.

Maybe like Michelangelo's statues, the writer was inside me all along. I just had to chip her out, one story at a time.

Post your writer story here, or on your blog and then send me the link. I'll be glad to repost all links on Thursday.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

5 Angels!

I've had some good reviews, but this one has been the best so far.

Fallen Angels Review gave TOUCH OF FIRE, 5 Angels. The highest rating on their chart.

From the review:

"It’s a world where you never really know what you will discover next. From lions and elephants roaming the land to the fall of civilization as we know it today, I was totally engrossed in the story that Ms. Zannini wove and the unique characters that lived there. With the many magical factions in this new world, the possibilities are endless, and I’d love to be able to immerse myself in it again soon!

Touch of Fire is an entertaining and memorable read with a lot of spice. You won’t want to miss this story, and I think that Maria Zannini is an author to watch! 5 Angels."



Somebody pinch me.


***

I'm over at Capes and Coffins today talking about being research whore. Pop over and visit when you get the chance. Tell'em I sent you.

***

And the July issue of OWW is out. Go here. This month, I interviewed Suzanne McLeod about her sexy novel, The Sweet Scent Of Blood coming out this September 25. You guys have got to check this book out!