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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shutting Down the Coast

Gustav looks to be gunning for Louisiana. Beaumont/Port Arthur (Texas), which is a stone's throw from the Louisiana border and where Greg works, is also in the danger zone. They've been ordered to close all businesses there.

This time around Greg gets to shut down his plant, rather than stay for the duration like last time. That's good. It means he'll come up to me in north Texas sooner.

Shutting a chemical plant down is not as easy as turning off a switch, though I do kid him that all he has to do is turn off the lights. Generally, a plant shutdown requires a minimum of 24 hours, especially when you work with dangerous chemicals.

Everything has to be secured and put into safety mode should the brunt of the storm hit the plant. When you consider that the entire Texas coast is lined with petro-chemical plants, you can only imagine the logistics involved.

So far, poor Greg has been up for 24 hours. He's been at the plant since midday yesterday. He hopes to put the plant to bed by this afternoon, then he'll go home and sleep for a few hours before trying to make his way to me. All in a day's work for him. There's a reason they put him in charge.

Back in la-la land, the news media is having a field day. As usual, they are embellishing where they can to make the story more horrifying. They are paying particular attention to New Orleans.

Let me set the record straight here. Hurricane Katrina did NOT hit New Orleans. Go here to see the actual path of the hurricane. If you put your mouse over each colored circle it will give you the strength and timeline of the storm.

The media bends everything to fit its agenda. It's disgusting. I was grateful to be spared the media frenzy when Hurricane Rita hit. We were oblivious to all the hoopla, mostly because we were in the middle of the hoopla and too busy unearthing our house from debris to care what some NY suit thinks happened.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fallen Angels Interview

Hey, I've been featured over at Fallen Angels Review. Check out the interview if you get the chance.

I try to think of something new every time I'm interviewed because really, how often can you stand to read the same thing from the same author.

But a lot depends on the interviewer. FAR interviewer, Tammy, has uncovered a shameful secret from my past. I regret to say that I do harbor criminal tendencies, but I'm getting better at not getting caught.

Hope you enjoy it.

***

Long holiday weekend ahead.

Gustav is still headed for the coast, and sneaky Hanna has veered south and is also heading for the Gulf. Evidently, one hurricane isn't exciting enough.

Greg tells me that people are playing it safe and there's quite a bit of traffic on the evacuation route. And there are so many gas tankers lined up and down a side road, he lost count.

Bracing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Articles

As some of you know, I started out writing nonfiction. It was a complete fluke. My very first writing gig was for the company I worked for. They started a department newsletter and I was asked to contribute.

To this day, I have no idea why I was asked. It's not like I demonstrated any skill in article writing. Maybe the editor gleaned all this from my very "creative" emails. :o)

My second introduction to nonfiction took me outside the warm fuzzy of the office and into the cold cruel world of real publishing. I wrote a letter to the editor of a country living magazine. I complimented his magazine because I thought it was really well done and informative. In the letter I had mentioned raising rheas, South American ratites.

Well, one thing led to another and before I knew it, the editor called me on the phone and asked me more about the big birds. Before our conversation ended, he asked if I would be willing to write an article about my experience.

Again, did he glean I had any talent from a measly letter? It's possible, I suppose. Two instances back to back with nothing to corroborate skill couldn't be sheer coincidence. But I was beginning to get the feeling Fate was pushing me into writing.

Nonfiction is a lot different than fiction. In the first place, you have to get to the point. Readers do not allow you the luxury of waxing poetically.

Queries for nonfiction are a little bit different too. Generally, my nonfiction queries focus on my direct experience with the subject. And before you think you don’t have the expertise, think again.

There are loads of magazines, ezines, and even article banks that are hungry for articles about child rearing, traveling, cooking, saving, educating, and decorating—all the things you probably do now. Start with topics you know well. Chances are good you'll find a publication that could use a fresh voice.

Like short stories, money for articles isn't paramount. The purpose is to circulate your name and get a byline. Note: I always query paying markets first because, ya know, I'm a Capitalist Pig first.

I have my reservations about article banks. I don't know enough about them to make an informed statement, but these banks are so crowded I don't know what your chances are for being noticed. Unless you write about something really outrageous, you could languish in a black hole.

Places like Free Sticky, Go Articles, or Helium are always on the prowl for articles. They rarely pay or they pay token amounts. But if it's an article you haven't been able to sell elsewhere, article banks might be a good alternative. Just be aware of what you're getting into. Read the fine print.

The other drawback to article writing for any publication is that your byline might not draw the audience you need. For example, if you write YA fiction, but your article is about banking, your target audience isn't likely to read this article. I would list your YA credit anyway because some caring parent might decide to look you up. Just don't be discouraged if the article didn't give you a lot of mileage.

Writing articles is my guilty pleasure. I LOVE doing 'em. They are fast, easy, the pay per word is better than fiction and I really do enjoy learning more about a subject. But now there is even more reason to write them. It's a great way to spread your name around.

Here are some tips for article writing.

• Query letters: Keep it short. State your credentials clearly and lead with a spiffy tagline. You want to grab the editor's attention immediately.

• Look for venues with wide distribution.

• Make a list of suitable topics, then make a list of potential markets.


• Write your byline. You can always tweak it for specific markets, but having a generic byline will get you started. Remember that you are rarely given more than 100 words, and often much less, so make every word count. See my article on writing bios here.

 
 
 
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

'nother Surgery

Somebody tell me, please. Do I have a sign on my back that says: send misery here?

My eyes didn't respond like the surgeon had hoped and they will have to do one more surgery. They tell me I will be a little frustrated for a couple of weeks because my eyesight will get worse before it gets better. But he does think this surgery will be the last tweak I need.

hmm...I'm pretty sure he said that last time.

***
But my bum knee isn't as bad as I feared. The MRI showed the injury and fluid build-up, but there was no cartilage tear, thank God! They shot me with Cortisone so it feels a little better right now.

Evidently, I'm a little rougher on my body than I should be. Duh.

***
A Killer Campaign post tomorrow. Be sure to come back.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

'nother Hurricane

I wanted to post this while I had one thin minute. I am getting thrown out of my house, yet again.

I owe several people emails--okay, I owe a LOT of people emails. I will write back tonight when it's safe for me to come home.

***

Gustav is still plowing toward the Gulf of Mexico. It's too early to make predictions, but we are a little worried it'll hit the Texas coast.

Hurricane Rita knocked us flat on our butts in 2005. It took us well over a year to return to some level of normalcy.

So now we wait and watch for Gustav and pray he veers off or fizzles out. I am grateful we have excellent weather tracking tools. At least we get plenty of warning.

--sigh. That's all I need on top of everything else. Another hurricane.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Markets

I know so many writers who used to be (or still are) teachers. This is a great market for you.

Mike and Daw, I know you guys must have a million stories for this market! It's a very tight deadline, so if you have something, send it in.

Brought to you by the people who publish the Cup of Comfort series. I found this at Anthology News and Reviews.

My First Year In The Classroom --to be published by Adams Media

Stephen D. Rogers, Editor: I am looking for fifty true, inspiring stories by teachers remembering their first year in the classroom. Stories should run between 850 and 1000 words, and will be organized along the lines of the school calendar, illustrating the learning curve experienced by new teachers.

- Facing the first day
- Meeting the students
- Surprising the students
- Bonding with faculty and staff
- Being surprised by the students
- Watching the students bloom
- Saying good-bye

From the hilariously obsessive/compulsive pre-class preparation of a rookie English professor to the poignant lesson one stalwart third grader and his peers teach their novice teacher about love and acceptance, this moving collection is sure to inspire new and veteran teachers alike. Stories should be emailed (inserted as a text file into the email or attached as a rich text file) here. The word "Submission" should be placed somewhere in the subject line. Please remember to include your full name and contact information both in your email and the story (if attached).

Payment: Writers will receive $100 for each accepted story as well as a complimentary copy of the anthology. I look forward to reading your submission.

Deadline: September 30, 2008

***

According to Colleen Lindsay, FinePrint has a new acquiring agent, Joanna Sampfel. Go here for FinePrints guidelines.

From Colleen's blog:

Here's what Joanna's looking for, in her own words:

Childrens: Chapter books to middle grade - covering any and all topics. If fantasy, it had better be very unique. Love a good school story, and always looking for humorous boy reads.

YA: contemporary to sci-fi and everything in between...again, if full-out fantasy, it had better be different.

Romance: historical, paranormal, multicultural

Other Adult: pop-culture, dark speculative fiction, narrative non-fiction having to do with environment, food, outdoors.

Not Interested In: mysteries, thrillers, heavy non-fiction, self-help, how-tos, hard sci-fi, hi-fantasy, memoirs, true crime, biography

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Not Meant to Be

Despite all our careful planning and investigating, Tehya, the rescue puppy, was not meant to be. We were thrilled to get her Friday night. All went well and she seemed none the worse for being in a new home.

But Saturday was a different story. Even with constant vigilence, we could not keep that puppy from peeing in the house. Most of it was due to over excitement which is understandable for puppies. Normally, that's not a big deal. A few days or weeks and we'd be able to teach her to always go out when she needed to. But this is not a normal time in our lives. We have a house to sell.

We called her foster mom and explained our situation. She came out right away and we talked. As much as we wanted this little girl (she is a sweetheart!) we couldn't keep up with her, not with both of us working and trying to sell a house at the same time.

The foster mom agreed to take her back. If we can sell this house quickly, they'd let us have Tehya back. If in the meantime, they find another adopter, they were more than happy to find us a different dog.

It hurt to let her go. We had wanted this for so long. But I can't begin to tell you how stressful Saturday was. At this point, we weren't being fair to ourselves or Tehya. It's been a rough week all the way around.

I keep telling myself: This too, shall come to pass. I wish it would hurry up.

***
In other news: Last night, we went behind several shops to dumpster dive in search of moving boxes. We found plenty of boxes and most of them were full of new BOOKS. I went through them last night and picked out the ones I wanted. Most of them are children's books or YA. I have local friends who write or illustrate for YA so I am passing these books on to them. The rest, I'll donate to women's shelters.

We kept: one writing book, several books on animals and dinosaurs, and one audio tape of Mozart. A very good haul considering we weren't expecting it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Short Stories

Short stories are a good way to keep your name in circulation and expand your fan base. Not only will it give readers a taste of your writing style, but the venues for shorts generally have a different audience from novels.

Short stories can be found in magazines, ezines and anthologies. There was a market once where they used to use really short stories on the back of their coffee cans. Sadly, that market went away, but I mention it because you never know where a short story might appear. Always keep your options open.

Not everyone is cut out to be a short story writer. I've found short stories take different chops than writing novels. But if you can pull it off, it's a great way to net new readers.

I've come up with a few notes to bear in mind if you use short stories as a way to promote yourself.

• stay close to your novel's genre. For me, there are a couple of problems with this. Most of my short stories (all 3 of them) are all SF (no romance). My novel is a romance set in the future. So to best capitalize potential readers for my romance novel, I should be writing romance short stories. You want to reach readers for your specific genre. Like seeks like.

• look for paying markets, but don't shun the non paying ones. I know. I know. I always preach about getting paid, but in this instance you are looking for new readers. New readers are more important than money. The other nice thing about non paying gigs is that they usually offer a more substantial byline.

• investigate where the magazine or anthology is being distributed. You're looking for reach. A little ezine might only have a few hundred subscribers, but a print anthology might sit in a Barnes and Nobles.

• be wise with time. Remember, you have to keep writing your novels, so don’t spend an inordinate amount of time on short stories. Use it as an extension of your repertoire.

Short story writing can sharpen your skills, introduce your work to new audiences and might even add a little change in your pocket. Consider adding it to your list of promotional avenues.



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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Break From Critting

I finished my last full novel critique and now I plan to take a break from critting. I've had back to back books over the last four months and I am spent.

Critting takes a lot out of me and I take the responsibility very seriously. Maybe too seriously. :o) It's just that I remember a few critters in my past who were so mamby-pamby that I regret ever dealing with them. They held me back with their false praise. And I have to wonder if that wasn't part of their agenda.

I checked on two of them recently and they aren't any further along than they were three years ago. It's not that they didn't have talent. But they did lack focus.

I on the other hand have plenty of focus. It's the talent I always question. *grin*

***

Puppy's coming Friday night. Yes, there will be pictures. They'll be up by Saturday.


***

Oh, and if you leave a comment, don't fret if it doesn't appear right away. I used to be able to check my blog from work, but my company no longer allows me to update from work. I'll post and answer comments when I get home every night.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Markets

Footprints Anthology

Theme: Long after our species and all its works have turned to dust, the moon landing sites will show evidence of our time here on Earth. Imagine future explorers from among the stars interpreting that. The astronauts' footprints should last longer than the fossils in the Olduvai Gorge have.

Length: 4,000 to 10,000 words

No simultaneous submissions

Electronic submissions only. Send as an attachment to an email message. Microsoft Word doc file is preferred, or rtf is okay (please contact us if you need to make arrangements for another format). Please virus scan your document before sending.

Email story to: subs@hadleyrillebooks.com. Important: put FOOTPRINTS in the subject line.

Format: The standard manuscript format as shows here http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html, except that we prefer single-spaced rather than double-spaced. Please don't do any fancy formatting such as right-justifying, etc. – leave that to us. Please don't hit Enter (or Return) at the end of each line. Let your word processor wrap the text.

Submission Period: From August 15, 2008 through November 15, 2008.

Payment: $40 upon publication. Payment is by PayPal

***
Science Fiction Poetry Contest

No Entry Fee

Deadline: August 31, 2008.

Any form of poetry is welcome, from free verse to traditional forms. Twenty lines or less. This year's theme is ENERGY - Any type of energy is welcome, from the most high tech-based to the magical and mystical.

1st Prize: $100 cash
SFPA Website Publication
Waterman pen and journal
A signed hardcover copy of The Journey to Kailash by Mike Allen
In the Yaddith Time by Ann K. Schwader
1-year SFPA membership

2nd Prize: $40 cash
SFPA Website Publication
Original painting by Marge Simon (choose one of three)
1-year subscription to Dreams & Nightmares
A copy of Riffing on Strings, edited by Sean Miller & Shveta Verma

3rd Prize:$20 cash
SFPA Website Publication
Lost Innocence: A Niteblade Anthology edited by Rhonda Parrish
Sporty Spec: Games of the Fantastic edited by Karen A. Romanko

Friday, August 15, 2008

An Interview at Haruah

It's been a week that would kill a lesser woman!

For starters, I've discovered that the real estate business is not for the weak. I'm glad the agents I've been dealing with are so good at their jobs.

I've been in crutches nearly all week because my "good" knee finally gave out. Last Sunday, I could no longer put any weight on it. It is much better now, but you can imagine the angry grumbles as I try to negotiate around my office at work.

And the puppy is coming next week. The last shreds of my sanity should exit about the same time.

I can't begin to tell you everything that's happened in the past week, but I will, as soon as the dust clears. There are a lot of tales to tell about my recent experiences.

No Killer Campaign today. I am recuperating and trying to stay off the computer. For some reason, my knee hurts worse when I sit for too long. Go figure.

I would like to direct you to a recent interview and mini review by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz for Haruah, an inspirational web and print magazine.

What I loved about Rochita's column is that despite the fact that she's not a fan of romance, she gave Touch Of Fire a wonderful and fair review. She focused on what was important; that good writing trumps all.

I also loved the interview she did with me. Rochita asked some wonderful questions, questions that made me think hard before I answered.

There's a chance the interview may also appear in a Philippine-Dutch paper. That would be so exciting!

It's been a very rough week, but it looks to be ending on a very sweet note.

Thank you, Rochita. And thanks to all of you who continue to visit me. Things will get back to normal soon--I hope. The sooner, the better.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oh, Deer

Why I love living in the country. Can you spot the little deer?


We have a forest preserve near our home in southeast Texas and there are several herds of deer in the area. A lot of them come over to our place.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Markets

My posts are going to be erratic for the next couple of weeks and then--if I move--I will go on hiatus while I get settled in my new digs (read: find internet service in the boonies).

Meanwhile I have one market to post and one suggestion.

Suggestion first.

You guys know I rarely grouse, but I have to say something about all these "cute" titles people come up with for their blogs and websites. It's up to you, but if you want people to know your name and your work, wouldn't it make sense to have a website/blog with your name on it?

You want people to find you in search engines, don't you?

As most of you know, I use a blog reader, and when I input a new blog, I always make sure I retitle it with the author's name despite what the author himself titles it. I like to know who I'm reading and I don't always remember if guided solely by a cryptic title.

If you're trying to remain anonymous because your blog is a little inflammatory, or if you have nothing of import published, then you're fine to leave it with an ambiguous title. But if you are trying to leave a footprint of you or your work for agents, editors and fans--use your author's name.

I thank you and your fans will thank you (which could be one in the same). :o)

So what about you, especially you bloggers with the enigmatic titles to your blogs? Why do you do it? I'm curious.

***

Markets:

This one has a tight deadline, but I thought it was an easy contest.

Our Past Loves Contest

Entry fee: None

Write a true story of a former sweetheart, in no more than 700 words. Nearly everyone has such a story. So tell us about your earlier love, someone whose memory brings a smile or a tear, or both. Did that woman or man change your life? How did that experience affect the rest of your life? Your story may be heart-warming or humorous. Just tell it as if you were talking to a good friend.

First Prize: $100
Second Prize: $75
Third Prize: $50

All winners and Honorable Mentions will receive a copy of If Only I Could Tell You: Where Past Loves and Current Intimacy Meet, by Kate Harper and Leon Marasco. Winners will have their stories posted (anonymously, if requested by author) on the web site.

Deadline August 17, 2008.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Conference Confidential

I am worthless today. Thursday, they zapped my eyes to remove the film that formed after my lens replacement surgeries. My eyes tend to stay dilated longer than most people, so I'm still nursing a bad headache. This post will be short and sweet, but I hope it will give you some good intel.

Conferences can be broken down into two basic types, fan-based and writer-based. The fan based cons are forums that welcome readers, (your fans) to meet authors and learn about the latest books. Many SFF conferences are fan-based because not only do you meet your favorite authors but they usually have tie-ins with science fiction and fantasy icons from movies and role playing as well.

Writer cons tend to be more business oriented, in as much that they have lots of workshops that help writers improve their craft and their career.

When I started writing, I leaned more toward writer conferences because I felt the fan-based cons were for more established authors, but now I can see the benefit of a new author introducing himself to fan-based cons. While it's important to network with your peers, it's more important to build relationships with your readers.

I have visitors from nearly every genre here, but I'm going to stick to SFF and romance for the purpose of this post.

When it comes to fan-based cons, no one can beat Lori Foster. Blogs buzz like crazy after every event. If fate allows, I'd like to do next year's event, June 5-7. Check her website after January for more info.

World Con (otherwise known as the World Science Fiction Convention) is another genre and fan-based conference that draws people from everywhere. Next year, it will be in Quebec, Canada. This year, it's in Colorado.

FenCon is local to Dallas. It's a quirky little fan-based con, but I like it because I get to meet a lot of local authors. If you’re in town, please attend. It's cheap and they always have good panels.

Want something to do in the blustery days of February? Attend ConDFW. In 2009, the guest of honor is going to be none other than Jim Butcher. I've seen him at FenCon and he's a great panelist.

Writer-based cons have always held more appeal to me because I am the perpetual student. I love learning new stuff and meeting other authors.

The mother of all cons in this regard is RWA. Holy, moly! I've only been to one and it was incredible. My brain couldn't process all that information. Don't be fooled thinking it's only about romance writing. This is a conference geared for the writing professional. If you make the mistake that romance is for girly girls, tis your loss. I have never learned so much in one place. Expensive, but worth the money. This year's con was in San Francisco. Next year: Washington, DC.

There's also Muse Online Conference which covers all genres. It runs October 13 - 19, 2008, but be sure to sign up by September 1st. And this is FREE, folks. People are donating their time and sharing their expertise. It fills up fast, so sign up early.

Willamette Writers Conference is one that always seems to get a good report card. I've never been there, but I have friends who swear by it. If it's August and you're in Oregon, give them a try.

I have mixed feelings about the Writers League of Texas because they handled their booking so poorly last year. I will recommend them because they do get a lot of big name agents out there. Hopefully, they learned from their past mistakes.

Are there any other cons you'd recommend? Leave a comment with a link.



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

Find it on Amazon.
 

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fun Links

I've added to my website!

Check out your weekly horoscope or get some great quotes from this page.

I still owe Mike some local links to the area I live in. I'm sure I'll get to them in this lifetime.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Markets

The 33 and a 1/3 Contest

We currently seek RANTS on the topic of "Bad Job, Good Times; Good Job, Bad Times." A rant is a personal essay, and might take the form of a rave, a complaint, a memoir, a travelogue, a stump speech, an outlandish claim, a quiet prayer before dying, et cetera. Limit 3,000 words. Three entries will be chosen to receive $33 1/3.

Either tell us about:
1) the best experience you ever had while working an otherwise terrible job, or
2) the worst thing that ever happened to you as a part of an otherwise great job.

Entry Fee: None
Deadline: August 31, 2008.

***

Mommythink.com

PAY: $25 - $50

If you write about attachment parenting or natural mothering and would liketo submit a relevant article to this site, we'd love to see what you have!

For most articles, we pay $25 per article, for 30 day exclusive electronic rights, or $50 for 90 day exclusive electronic rights. We may pay up to 10 cents per word for extra special articles. Articles should be 750-2500 words in length (though this is a flexible guideline).

***

Check out the latest OWW newsletter where I reviewed HOOKED, by Les Edgerton. I've mentioned before how much I love this book. Those of you who know me, know how hard it is to impress me with a craft book. I recommend very few. I do recommend this one.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Color That Counts

The realtors keep throwing us out of the house. At least Greg is here and it's easier to escape when you have someone with you.

The problem is that you never know when you might be asked to leave. No offers yet, and we hope there won't be any for a few more weeks since we're still looking ourselves. But the feedback we've gotten has been positive.

One wife was nearly in tears because she wanted the house so badly, but the husband wasn't ready to make an offer yet. I find it interesting to see the dynamics of relationships in action. That is not an episode you'd ever see from me and Greg. LOL!

We want each other to be happy, but we're also not shy in stating what we want either.

In the listing remarks, the realtor wrote that the interior was painted in bold designer colors. Well, I am a designer, and occasionally I am considered bold, so I guess that's truth in advertising. *g*

I painted the interior in colors that were inviting and easy on the eye. It's the first thing I did when I moved in. The only room I left in its original white was my studio and that was intentional. I prefer my walls bare and neutral when I paint so I'm not influenced by anything in the room. But I went all out with the rest of the house.

Most of the rooms are in a putty colored tan with white crown molding. The kitchen is a vibrant rust red. It's small and some people might be intimidated to use such dramatic color, but it works beautifully with the cabinets and it gives the room a wonderful flair. The master bed and bath are painted in toasted pumpkin, it's a subtle color that is warm yet elegant against antique brass and rose-veined marble.

While it's the cheapest thing you can do to freshen up a house, you can go backwards if you paint your walls in weird colors. Lilac and chartreuse only work well in the hands of a professional designer. They know the right tint and which walls and rooms to use it on.

Just because you love a color doesn't make it a good reason to paint your walls that color. When in doubt, get a professional opinion before you spend time and money on "unique" colors. If you like quirky, that's fine. But if you want to resell at top dollar, leave quirky in the closet.

The realtor said something that made a lot of sense. She said: Stop thinking of it as your home. You have to divorce yourself from the emotional attachment you created.

I am so heartless, I divorced myself long ago. :o)

I'm ready to move on. And I'm leaving it better than the way I found it. Below, the last of the pictures.


I love the master bathroom. It feels luxurious and relaxing. The color is a little darker than real life because I didn't use a flash. The flash kept bouncing off each mirror, so I had to do without.
.

A couple of shots of the kitchen and the little bar vignette Mel put together for me in the corner of the kitchen. Shown: Part of my collection of masks.

,



My office. That's the cleanest you'll ever see my desk! The painting above is one I did of Isis and Nacho, my two girls.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Staging Tips

No sooner did we get back home when we got another phone call asking to see the house, so out we went again. The listing only went live this morning. I was surprised that we would get bites so soon. But that's a good sign, right?

As I mentioned before, my friend Mel helped me stage the house. Melina hates to read, which always struck me as funny because she is one of the smartest people I know. No joke. All her siblings grew up to be doctors and scientists. Mel went into the arts and used to work for Disney at one point.

Instead of reading, she spends all her free time watching tv. She adores that decorating channel on cable. In essence she got her decorating degree from these shows.

She is so good, when the realtor came back to get some papers from me, she offered her a job as a stager! And we are talking serious money here. I told you she was good.

I am a fair decorator, but Mel picks up on the subtler points. Here are a few of the things she did to spruce up my house.

• All loose objects like waste baskets, lone knick-knacks, extra towels are stashed or packed away.

• Store bulky furniture if possible. This was probably the most dramatic thing I did and it definitely made a difference. I only took out one piece and the interior immediately looked bigger.

• Bathroom: a tray with soaps, perfume, and aromatics in complimentary colors.

• Towels must match and enhance the color of the room. My master bath is painted in toasted pumpkin, my towels are a deep russet with an embroidered rose. The color of the towels pop against the background.

• Art: Fortunately, I collect or make my own art so I had plenty to choose from. Be bold and don't be afraid to use big pieces.

• Floral arrangements. I let Mel do all these. See the pic of the arrangement on the dining room table.

• Kitchen: Clear off the counters of regular cookery stuff and only dress one or two countertops with items that will showcase the color of the room. She put together a little wine vignette in a corner bar and a cookbook vignette on the opposite counter. (I'll post that picture tomorrow.)

• Polish all glass until it gleams.

• Have the carpets washed. Not only will it look cleaner, it will smell fresher too.

• Pretend you're throwing a party and dress the dining room table for the occasion.

• Bedroom: I have a couple of small lamps that I keep lit while the house is showing. I think it makes for nice mood lighting. When people walk in they can turn on the main lights to see everything in detail.

• Make it smell nice. I have aromatics in the bathrooms. The brand name is called Culti and the scent is called Terra. It smells heavenly, just like you were in a spa.

That's all I can think of offhand. If anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Below are a few photos. My battery died at the last minute so I'll post some final pictures tomorrow.

Another view of the dining area.
.This is where my old English sideboard used to live, but I moved my little writing desk there and it made a big difference.
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Living room as seen from upstairs.
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Notice this is the only room that was left bare. Shown is a still life I painted once upon a time. It's actually the left side of a larger painting by a master whose name escapes me now. Ah, senility is like a warm blanket. *g*

One more post tomorrow.

Kicked Out

We're getting kicked out of our house again because a realtor wants to show it. It's a big rigmarole because we have to evacuate with dog in tow--plus, we're babysitting another dog too this weekend. At least Greg is here. He's been a big help.

I'll post more pictures late this afternoon. I'll also pass along some of the tips I learned from my friend, Mel, on how to stage a home.

Stand by. :o)

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Romance Studio

Post Two of Two for today.

I'm featured at The Romance Studio. Go here.

Holly Hewson interviewed me for TRS. I think of all the places I advertise, The Romance Studio folks always go above and beyond. Holly has been both patient and kind what with all the questions I ask. If you are looking for a venue that is reasonable, I can recommend TRS. I know my traffic has increased from them, and they are swell folks to work with.
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As promised.
Here's a sneak peak at my house--the one I'm selling. I'll post more pictures tomorrow.

What do you think? Do you think it will sell quickly? The agent thinks we have it priced right. It goes on the market tomorrow.
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Living Room. My friend Mel moved around some paintings and the candle stand. It's simpler and more elegant, I think.
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Kitchen ~ Greg did all the marble work, the cabinets (and the laminate floor that you can't see.)

Again, Greg did all the marble work in the bath surround and shower. All I did was decorate. I'm such a slouch by comparison. LOL. Surprisingly, Mel said I did well in decorating the bathroom, so I feel vindicated.

Post One of Two

No Killer Campaign post today. We'll do it next week for sure.

*****

Remember JK Coi? Of course, you do. She was here only a couple of weeks ago. Her book, "Immortal Kiss" is out today. Buy your e-copy and save a tree. Who knew you could be green and excited at the same time? LOL!

Happy release day, JK!

*****

Check back late tonight because I hope to post the first few pictures of my house. I wish now I had taken before and after pictures so you could see the difference. It's all my same stuff, just arranged differently.