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Friday, January 30, 2009

Killer Campaigns: Readings

I have never done a reading, but I've been to plenty of them.

As a promotional venue, I think readings can be a boon to sales. But…and it's a big BUT…you better be a confident reader with a good speaking voice. I can't stress that enough.

I've walked out of readings where the author squeaked, snorted, coughed and mumbled his way through his excerpt. I feel for them. I really do, but if you're not capable of "entertaining" your audience you'll lose more potential readers than gain them.

Have any of you seen those horrible commercials for American Idol where they give camera time to the poor slobs who can't hold a note? If that's you with an excerpt… Dude, don't do it!

The purpose of a reading is to rouse excitement and interest in your book--and YOU.

Choose a short excerpt. I usually don't want to listen to anyone for more than 10 minutes and I think it's tiring for the author to make them read longer than that. As a matter of fact, my favorite readings are when authors read only short excerpts then fill the rest of the time with anecdotes about how the story came about.

Excerpts should be short, punchy and carry the tone of the book. If it's romance, I like to hear the part where the hero and heroine first meet. If it's SF, I want to be immersed in the world building. If it's mystery, it better get to the dead body right away.

Speaking of romance: I'm no prude, but I prefer not to hear the part where they get down and dirty. Listening to someone describe a sex act while I'm sitting in a crowded room full of strangers gives me that ick feeling.

Tips for holding a good reading:

• Choose a favorite excerpt, one that really involves you.

• Practice! Make sure you can get through an entire reading without stumbling over words.

• Keep a glass of water nearby.

• Remember to breathe. (I always forget to breathe. It's a wonder I'm still here.)

• Visit your local library and listen to professional story tellers. Watch the way they get involved in the story. Listen for their pauses and analyze their expressions. They really know how to sweep you into their world.

•If it's allowed, talk to the audience before the reading. They might not seem so intimidating if you get to know them as people first.

• Don't rush through the excerpt. I see this a lot. I know authors get nervous, but it's okay. We won't bite.

• Thank your audience, and mingle with them afterwards.


So what about you? Have you done a reading? Would you want to?

If you've done a reading, feel free to add to this list.



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

Find it on Amazon.
 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More For Less: Détente

I am going to tell you the secret to solvency, blissful marital relations, and a good night's sleep.

This technique has been working for us for close to 34 years. It's not always easy but it is the most reliable method I know for staying within budget.

Now tell me, how good is your marriage?

I'm asking you this because this method won't work unless both parties are willing to make the commitment.

Some of you may be doing this already in some veiled form. Others will balk at this system and ignore me completely. Suit yourself. All I'm saying is that we are living proof it works.

I call it The $50 Rule.

Many, MANY moons ago, we were like every other young couple. We had no money. We lived on next week's pay check and we were running up the one and only credit card we were approved for. A lot of people live this way. But we knew early on that this was a disaster waiting to happen.

I was in charge of paying bills in our household and I decided to put us on a budget so that we would always have enough for important things like food and house payments.

In 1975, $50 was a goodly amount of money. But we reasoned that was the least amount of money we needed for common expenses. That was the day The $50 Rule was born.

In The $50 Rule, neither I nor Greg are allowed to spend more than $50 without the approval of our significant other. There are agreed upon loopholes though.

The $50 Rule could be adjusted if:
• it were a direct replacement for something we already owned. This is usually something like a power tool, the air conditioner or lawn equipment. Useful, but not necessarily crucial equipment.

• any emergency requiring immediate attention. This was usually cars breaking down or appliances or people needing repair or replacement. (I've had Greg repaired a number of times, but I've never needed to replace him. He's on extended warranty.)

These are the only two allowances we make. And so far we haven't had to fudge on the system.

Asking the spouse for his support for said purchase does a couple of things.

• it provides a natural cooling off period. Many purchases are emotional decisions. Giving yourself time to think about it and ask the other person's opinion forces that emotional response to bear responsibility. By the time you get an answer, it may not be as wonderful a purchase as you thought it was.

• it forces both people in the relationship to examine their buying habits.

• it makes for a very honest and sympathetic relationship. Over the years you get to learn what's important to your better half and you learn to respect each other's shared resources. Think about it. If you both spend money like crazy, you are only thinking about yourself. When you put your spouse's opinion into the equation, it is a shared asset that entitles you both to its responsibilities and rewards.

You might say that $50 is too low for you. (that's what most people tell us) The number is totally up to you and your particular finances. Greg has been trying to get me to raise that amount for YEARS! LOL! It's never happened. Why? Because we are no longer those kids trying to start a household. We have nearly everything we need. He only wants to raise it so he doesn't feel the pangs of guilt when he eyes a new toy in the store.

The $50 Rule has been perfect for us. It's conditioned us so well that we even ask each other's opinion if the item is below $50.

Talk it over with your spouse and set whatever amount feels right for you. I promise you it works.

Greg and I will be retiring EARLY, my friends. We didn't do it by dumb luck. We did it by following one rule. The $50 Rule.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Deborah Kalin

Not my usual day to blog, but I recently met Deborah Kalin, aka dragonfly. AMENDED: It should be: damselfly ~ damselfly ~ damselfly.
That's me trying to burn it into my memory.

Deb is a veteran of OWW and I 'met' her while I was putting together the OWW newsletter for February.

Her book, Shadow Queen is out in stores now. If you're lucky enough to live in or near the awesome continent of Australia, stop by and pick up her book. You can also order it online at these vendors.

Infinitas
Dymocks
Rainbow Book Agencies
Galaxy Books
Booktopia

Here's a blurb for Shadow Queen.




Matilde of the House of Svanaten has spent her life in training for when she will ascend the Turasi throne. Yet, two years past Matilde's coming of age, her indomitable grandmother remains reluctant to hand over power.

When Matilde's exiled aunt, Helena, turns up for the most important festival of the year, suspicion abounds. Why has Helena – long married into the despised Ilthean nobility – suddenly returned? And what of the Ilthean soldiers massed at the southern border?

Hard on Helena's arrival, Matilde is struck by a vision warning of doom. And it isn't long before a forceful new enemy strikes at the very heart of power, leaving a trail of death and destruction in his wake.

After narrowly surviving the conflagration that shatters her entire world, Matilde must pit herself against her family's conqueror – her new husband – in a battle not just for the throne, but for her very existence.


Go check her out! She's one to watch.

I'm going to interview Deb for the March issue of the OWW newsletter. You won't want to miss it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Markets

I seem to never fail to find horror markets. I don't write horror. Are they really that popular?

Here's one that caught my eye--from Scotland.

Raw Terror Anthology

We're looking for scary, horrible, terrifying stories that would fit into an anthology called “Raw Terror”. They can be traditional horror, supernatural, or psychological, but no Fantasy or Science fiction, unless your story really merits that framework.

Short stories should be 500 to 5000 words in length, 12pt, Times New Roman font, double spaced, two spaces after sentence ending punctuation. Please do not use headers or footers.

Stories should be sent as .rtf or .doc documents. Please include details (name, address, word count) and a brief (250 word) bio in the body of the e-mail.

Payment: £10 per story and a contributor’s copy for 1st worldwide anthology rights. No reprints. Authors will be paid upon publication.

Deadline: 2-28-09

Go to their website for more info.

***

And to lighten the horror load...

Chicken Soup for the Soul, A Book of Miracles

Chicken Soup for the Soul, A Book of Miracles, with co-author LeAnn Thieman, is looking for true stories showing signs and wonders God is performing today. We invite people of all faiths to share their stories of ordinary people whose lives are transformed by wondrous events.

Whether a "Divine coincidence,"an appearance of God, or answered prayers, this book will show God's miracle power in action, alive and very active in the world today! Please share your heart-warming, humorous and powerfully moving stories of no more than 1,200 words.

Suggested Topics:

Divine coincidence
Healing Angels
Everyday miracles
Safety and Protection
Visions and Voices
Heavenly Connections
Overcoming Obstacles
Intercession of Saints
Power of Prayer
Holy Spirit
Signs from Above

Payment: $200 and 10 free copies of the book. You retain the copyright.

Deadline: 3-31-09.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blogging at Samhain

It's my turn to blog over at Samhain and I'm talking about two of my favorite things, ghosts and dogs.

Pop over if you get a chance.

Leave me a comment either here or at Samhain and tell me if you've ever had a close encounter of the surreal kind.

***
If you've been following More For Less, my new blog series on saving money, I'll leave you with a bonus tip. Since we're still in the beginning of the year, try saving ALL your receipts for one year.

Save everything, from movie stubs to losing Lotto tickets (you know who you are). If you're extra organized, you can separate them by category such as food, entertainment, big ticket items, and clothing. Then add them up every 3 months and total the whole thing at the end of the year.

The results will amaze you.

Even though we're pretty frugal, Greg and I will do this every couple of years. It gives us an overall report card on how well we saved--and spent.


***

If you're new to this blog, I generally run three different series throughout the week.

Mondays are for Writing Markets and contests.

Wednesdays now feature More For Less.

Fridays, read my running series on promotional venues, called Killer Campaigns.

The rest of the week is my time to talk about whatever strikes my fancy. Add yourself to my follow group, (lower right hand side) and you'll see my updates as soon as they post.

Killer Campaigns: Stamps & Labels

Stamps and labels go hand in hand in that they require much the same handling, so I thought I would do a double post today.

Stamps: I can't speak for postage in other parts of the world but the US Post Office will recognize a stamp you design if it meets certain criteria.

The frugal side of me has a hard time justifying spending twice as much for a stamp, but if you can afford it and you want that little bit of extra woo-woo, knock yourself out.

On Zazzle, a sheet of 20 (42 cent) stamps range from $16.95 to $18.95, depending on the size of the stamp. I have a friend who's used Zazzle and I must admit the quality was beautiful. My friend is an amateur photographer and the stamps were a great medium for him.

For writers…I think it's an individual decision. If you have a really knockout cover or one that is easily recognizable, it might be worth mailing all your correspondence with a custom stamp especially to potential readers.

In regards to stamps and labels, what you're after is the 'poke', a reminder to the recipient that your book is out. How much extra are you willing to spend for that poke?

By the way, I probably don't have to mention this, but do remember that all this is tax deductible--at least in the states.

Labels: Whereby stamps are costly, labels can be virtually free if you have a good color printer. Adhesive-backed labels come in all sorts of sizes. I don't know about the older versions of Word, but Microsoft Office 2007 has more label formats than you'll ever need.

Once your label paper is correctly formatted to the template, it's just a matter of hitting the print button.

The nice thing about labels is that they can be customized for any event. Change the image to suit your needs. Publicize a contest, announce a book signing, or tout a great review. They are totally adaptable.

And labels can go on more than envelopes. Small labels can dress up generic pens. Large ones can identify CDs and equipment. If moisture is a factor, remember to buy the plastic coated paper. If it's for envelopes or stationery, plain paper labels work fine.

Tips for a nice label:

• Don't go too small. Remember that as you're reducing the image, you are reducing the clarity.

• Images should be clear and crisp. Originals were probably much larger. When you reduce your image you run the risk of making it muddy and unrecognizable. The dots of color crowd closer together. Keep your dpi (dots per inch) high as you reduce the image to fit your format. (If none of this makes sense, find thee a graphic artist. She can pull it into Photoshop and save the image in high res.)

• Practice on dummy sheets before you slip in your adhesive paper. I am TERRIBLE at sizing things. My framing is always a little off. I don't know if it's my printer or me. ---probably me. Even though my repeats are set exactly on the template, I almost always have to tweak it. Dummy paper is your friend. When you get the image right where you want it on each cell, then you can switch to your adhesive paper.

• You also have the choice of sending your image to a company like Vistaprint. Vistaprint is always running specials and they do make it easy. So if you'd rather not have the set-up headaches, they are a good alternative.

I have a weakness for miniature works of art, so labels and stamps appeal to me. I pay attention to them when I see them on envelopes. And that's what it's all about. They lure me in every time.


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

Find it on Amazon.
 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More For Less: Nothing New

About a week ago, the Dallas Morning News ran an article about this husband and wife who took a pledge not to buy anything new for an entire year. A lofty goal.

Although their hearts were in the right place, I thought their process needed some work. They automatically put limits on their pledge by saying that the only things they would buy new would be food and toiletries. That's perfectly understandable.

But then they broke their pledge the first day by buying some non-essential clearance items. Okay. Everyone slips off the wagon. Further down the article, the wife says that she will buy any item she can get free, as in buy one get one free, or with coupons.

In the end, the article came off as one excuse after another and that disappointed me.

Still, the kernel of their idea is a sound one and it's easy to do if you take it one step at a time--one item at a time. What if you decided that you would buy no NEW clothes in 2009. Or toys? Or electronic gadgets? Could you do it?

Other than a light sweater, I don't think I've bought any clothing for myself in over two years. I haven't gotten any bigger--or smaller, and I have plenty of everything. But then it's easy for me to go without because I'm not a clothes horse. Limit something I really love, like Coke Zero and there might be tears.

If you'd like to challenge yourself, take a look in your closet. Do you REALLY need another pair of jeans, or another blouse? How many pairs of socks do you go through in a year?

Back in November when we moved to the new house, I had a real wake up call on how much we had. Now that I had a nice big closet, I carefully went through each piece of clothing and decided whether I still liked it or not. I had a bag full for Goodwill by the time I was finished sorting, and I still had 15 feet of my clothes alone on the rack. Good grief!!

I don't believe in depriving myself if it's something I love, but I also know that love is fleeting. So when I shop and see something that catches my eye, I ask myself if it's truly love---or is it lust. 9 times out of 10, it'll go back on the rack.

The frugal plan this husband and wife team tried out is perhaps a little more intense than most people can handle, but done in small doses it could add up to significant savings in a year.

Start small. Start with something you know you already have enough of. You'll be surprised what you can do without.

Next week: My super secret technique for staying on budget.

For more money saving tips, be sure to visit my buddy, Marianne Arkins.

***

And on a totally unrelated subject. My husband was THIS close to giving me a heart attack yesterday. He had a stress test at 2:30. I've had a couple of those and I'm usually in and out in an hour. 2 hours go by. No word from him. 3 hours go by and I am racking my brain trying to remember the name of the clinic he went to.

For those of you who don't know, Greg and I live 300 miles apart. We are connected virtually all the time and visit each other when we can, so when I can't reach him, I worry.

Somehow I tracked him down to the right clinic. And thankfully someone answered. He was nearly ready to be released when I called.

Under normal circumstances, my reaction was probably over the top, but when all you have is a cell phone that just rings, all sorts of terrible thoughts cross your mind.

You see the last time he did that to me, an old lady ran a stop sign and hit him when he was on his motorcycle. I drove five hours in the dead of night to find him entirely bandaged up. He was badly scraped up, but if he hadn't been wearing his helmet, he'd be dead. We still have that helmet with a huge gouge scooped out of one side.

He is the luckiest *@%# I know. Not only did he survive the motorcycle accident, yesterday his doctor told him that these were the most amazing results he'd ever seen for a man his age.

Meanwhile, I'm the one pacing the floor. There is no justice.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Markets

Internet is still on wacky tobackee. It behaved for a whole two hours on Sunday which allowed me to tie up my online loose ends and get this post uploaded.

Belong

An Aussie anthology that seems to have a wonderful premise. I wish they had listed what rights they wanted to buy.

Everybody comes from somewhere, especially in Australia. Belong/A place called home seeks to explore the themes of immigration, including refugees and both sides of the migrant experience through the speculative genres. What makes people pack up their belongings and leave their homeland? What happens when they return as a tourist? How does it feel to grow up as a first generation resident of a new land? How does it feel to live in a land with a large migrant and multicultural population?

Belong, a two-volume sf anthology is scheduled for release in 2009. The anthology is open to unsolicited submissions until 31 May 2009.

***

Comet Press is seeking short stories for an extreme horror anthology to be published in the summer of 2009 (trade paperback). We are looking for the most gruesome, disturbing, and scary tales imaginable. Dark humor is acceptable.

It isn't a requirement, but we would like to see some stories set in various times of past history. Including a historical or notorious figure, or legendary beast connected with that period would be a bonus. Old West, WWII Nazi Germany, Ancient, Pre-Columbian, Biblical Era, Medieval, Pre-civilization, etc.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

State of Frustration

My internet decided to go awol on me and it's playing that old game where I never know whether it will stay up longer than 5 minutes when it does return. I am scrambling to answer emails in case I lose my connection again. I hope to catch up by Monday, but if you don't see anything from me by then, imagine me grumbling like a volcano and saying unkind things about my provider.

I would love an alternative to satellite. There has got to be something more reliable.

I miss Verizon FiOS. They took my calls 24/7 even when all I wanted to do was tweak Microsoft Outlook. And it was the fastest connection I've ever had. Nothing beats fiber optics.

***
On the bright side, when I am connected, I am reading the posts to a fascinating workshop on pirates, called "Bringing Pirates to Life". Cindy Vallar is a warehouse of information! Scroll down to the bottom of this link and you can see all her other workshops. I can highly recommend her! I even contacted my allies over at the Writers Guild of Texas and asked them to invite Cindy to speak to the group. She's that good.

Please visit her website. She's got a ton of information about pirates and the Scottish highlands and her workshops are extremely reasonable too.

***
The only good thing about being offline is that I can spend more time writing, so all is not lost. I am still working on a novel length critique (sorry it's taken so long, Margaret) and trying to work out the plot details to the sequel to Touch Of Fire. The sequel has taken a slightly different slant than I anticipated and I haven't yet decided if that's a good thing. It's become more suspense than strictly paranormal. Me, write suspense? Go figure.

I'll try to be back Monday if my internet will let me. But if anyone has any suggestions for internet access for rural areas, please shoot me an email. ...maybe I'll get it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More For Less: Freecycle

I am excited to begin this new series. Saving money and living simply is not just a goal, it's a way of life that is surprisingly easy to achieve.

And before you think you have to sacrifice the nicer things in life, think again. I am married to a man who lives for the newest toy or gadget. And I myself have certain standards too. I don't buy cheap. I buy smart.

It will cost me more in the long run to buy a cheap sofa and replace it every five years than it would be to buy a high end sofa that may never need replacing--barring chewing puppies or barfing babies.

I don't like to suffer, and God knows Greg doesn't. LOL! So take any advice I give with that in mind. I won't suggest anything that is sacrificial in any way.

For today's premiere post, I want you to check out Freecycle. Freecycle Network is a series of Yahoo groups all across the WORLD that cater to their individual communities.

Freecycle began in 2003 in Tucson, Arizona and has grown to 85 countries around the world. Their mission statement reads: "Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community."

I discovered them fairly recently. Since I live within driving distance of several communities, I signed up for all of them.

Basically, it works like this. You can list an OFFER, a WANT, or post that your item has been TAKEN. You can not buy or sell on this list. Everything must be given for FREE.

Some groups will not allow you to offer pets, some do. Most will not let you join unless you live within the serving community.

I have not used the service yet. I'm still watching on the sidelines. But I have made some interesting observations.

The "poorest" community in my network seems to have more OFFERS on a daily basis, while the area that is on the hoity-toity side (in terms of higher income) has more people posting a WANT. I'm not sure what that means in the larger context, but I thought it was an interesting twist.

What I like about the concept of Freecycle is that you can give away what you no longer need and know that it is going to someone who could really use it. On the flip side, you could find something you really needed, but was too costly to buy new. Granted, you might not know what quality the item is in until you see it, but you could also run across a gem too. Much like garage saling or thrift shopping, it's the thrill of the hunt.

This week I've seen everything offered from pianos to baby items. Every community is different and you'll never know what you'll see next.

Get a feel for your community first. Sit on the sidelines and check out the listings for a few weeks. It costs nothing to look.

And if you are active on a Freecycle community, shoot me an email (or post a comment) and let me know what your experience was.

Until next time...see you in the Clearance Aisle.

***

If you'd like to read about more cost saving tips, be sure to check out Marianne Arkins blog. She also hosts a weekly series called Tightwad Tips. Tell her I said, hi!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Markets

Dead Bait Anthology

Severed Press seeks short stories for its new anthology, Dead Bait. Stories should have a Fishing or fish/sea life theme. Genetically altered Frankenfish, Zombie Whales sticking it to Japanese whalers, killer bass in secluded lakes, monsters from the deep, voodoo zombies from puffer fish toxins or maybe that tiny fish from the Amazon that swims up your wiener are just a few ideas. Stories can be based any where in the world and be salt or freshwater.

Payment: .01 cent per word, plus one author copy.

Length: Stories for anthologies should be between 2000-8000 words and be submitted with a brief Bio and a synopsis of your story in standard form as an attachment to anthologies@severedpress.com

Please advise us if story has been published before.

Deadline: March 23, 2009

***

Interzone

Open to science fiction and fantasy short fiction of up to 8,000 words.

Please send your manuscript mailed flat or folded no more than once, in standard MS format (double spaced, good margins, printed on one side of the paper), with a covering letter and adequate return postage (ie a stamped, self-addressed envelope). Overseas submissions should be disposable and accompanied by two IRCs or an email address which we’ll use to reply. All submissions must be in hard copy except during any specified email reading windows. If no such windows are listed here then we are currently not open to emailed submissions. Please don’t query about when we might be open to email submissions, just keep checking the guidelines and/or the forum. Unsolicited submissions sent by email at other times will be deleted. Never send simultaneous submissions, multiple submissions or reprints.

NB: if you receive a rejection from Interzone please don’t then submit that story to another of our magazines, as we will already have considered that option.

Payment: 3 pence per word

Sunday, January 11, 2009

And The Winner Is...

Boy, this was hard!

I had a couple of favorites right from the start, but when I Googled them, the names had already been taken by others.

First I asked Greg for his input, and he liked different ones than I did. (Figures!) So we kept narrowing it down until we got to our two favorite entries and tossed a coin.

The new series will be called: More For Less

Rochita came up with this one. And two of her other entries made the finals too. Rochita, email me your physical address and I will snail mail your prize along with a little memento of Texas.

Tyava, you came in a close second. If you'll email me your physical address, I'll send you a runner-up prize.

You can email me at writingweb AT argontech Dot net

Thanks to everyone who entered. I have a very good feeling this series is going to get big. It might even warrant its own blog someday. Saving money and living simply is a big part of my life and it's the one thing I can say without reservation that I do well. I'm looking forward to sharing my tips and strategies.

I think for now I will do More For Less on Wednesdays. I might move it to another day later on, but we'll start with Wednesdays for now.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Follow Me

With the kerfuffle at LJ, I discovered Mallory has moved her stuff to Blogspot, so I went over to say hi and welcome.

She's new to Blogger, guys, so be good neighbors and go over and make her feel welcome.

Although we've never met, Mallory and I traveled in the same circles though at different times. I've also read some of her stuff at OWW and let me tell you, this woman is going places.

Mallory asked me about how she would go about "following" my blog and I said. "Huh?"

Lo and behold there is a way to follow my blog, and I already had three followers, but I had no idea how they did that. Am I lame or what?

I did find an icon where you could add yourself to my blogroll, so I'm not a total loser. At the bottom right hand side of this page, go to "This way to the cheese" and add yourself to my roll. I have edam and feta on hand, but I'm sure I can scrounge up some others. *g*

Your agenda for today is to find a minute to pop over to Mallory's blog and say hi. You know how lonely it is when you first move in to a strange neighborhood.

Have a great Saturday everyone. I'll be back tomorrow afternoon with a winner to the I-Needa-Name contest.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Killer Campaigns: Edibles

Candy is the usual freebie that most of us come across at conferences and book signings. Prepackaged and familiar, it disappears in minutes.

The great thing about candy is that it will draw people in. The bad thing about candy is that it's ephemeral. Once it's eaten, your brand and your message is lost.

So what to do? Can food sell your product and you?

Maybe. Candy is a cheap and easy way to draw the crowds, but also try to think in the long-term.

Let's throw out some ideas.

• Popcorn (unpopped) and with your label on it, will last a little longer in the sense that it has a longer shelf life. People won't necessarily use it right away.

• Cookie mix, prepackaged by you also has staying power. But make it do double duty. Along with the baking instructions, can you write a hundred word flash story, something that will tie it in with the book you're currently pitching? Or a short excerpt, something to tantalize while they're waiting for their cookies to bake.

• Cocoa comes in those nice neat pouches that you can jazz up with your book cover.

• Hide a prize in the wrapper. Next time you give out chocolate, slip a piece of paper inside the wrapper with a special code and instructions to email you so they can claim a prize. The prize can be as humble as a bookmark or as grand as a signed copy of your book.

Message candy. Around Halloween and Valentine's day you'll see lots of candy with various messages on them. You can order these all year long. Try M&Ms or Celebration Candy.

Try not to give away nuts or candy with nuts in it. A lot of people have peanut allergies and you can leave a bad impression if your potential reader has to rush to the hospital for epinephrine.

Foodstuffs should only constitute a small part of your promotional plans. Since they are consumed, they don't have staying power. But make them unique and you can extend that memory long after they've licked the chocolate off their chins.

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

Find it on Amazon.
 


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Contest Update

I didn't realize that Blogger doesn't allow non-bloggers to post comments. So...I will allow email entries until tomorrow 12 noon, CST.

From Margery B.

The Wiley Squirrel
Bottom Dollar
Bargain Hunter
Bargain Booty

If anyone who doesn't have a blog wants to email me an entry, you can. But you need to hurry.
You can find my email addy on my profile page.

For more details go here.

Good Luck, LJ

What's with LiveJournal? I'm hearing that it might go belly up.

I have to admit, when I researched which blog vehicle to use, LiveJournal came in dead last. The cutesy emails I got from LJ's admin team were a little too cheesy for my taste—at least when I trialed them.

I am not a fan of the "friending" model either. It's functional as a networking tool but only on a limited score since it forces you to become a friend or be left out of the inner circle. This is an aggressive opt-in mechanism for LJ. One that Facebook and MySpace also use. I get a little annoyed when someone tries to coerce me to follow the pack.

I'm such an anarchist. lol

My prediction, for what it's worth, is that friending will be outdated in a couple of years--or less. I think the new trend will be "followers", readers who read you but don't necessarily belong to your intimate community.

I'm okay with that. It's like dating without a commitment for marriage.

Blogging is getting very specialized and I've found some fantastic blogs in every field. Chit chat seems to be moving on to Twitter.

Many of my friends are on Twitter, but I will be the wet blanket and say that it seems like another time drain, reading wise. You can't post anything substantial on Twitter. Instead it appears to be a laundry list of "what I did today".

Now if it was a list of juicy links for good market info or the latest publishing deal, it would draw me in---but so far from what I've seen, such posts are few and far between.

It will be interesting to see if LJ will fade away. Many of the bloggers I follow are archiving their blogs and putting them into other vehicles should LJ pull the life support plug.

I don't like to see anything die prematurely so this is sad news indeed.

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Today is the last day for the I-Needa-Name-Contest. You can leave an entry on any post until midnight tonight. Go here for more details.

I was going to name a winner Friday but I want some time to consider all of them carefully. I will be bit busy until Sunday, so I will announce it then.

Keep entering. The fat lady ain't sung.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fill'er Up

Years ago, I had an employee who mercifully (for me) finally retired. If the sun was shining, she'd say it was going to storm. If we had a party, she'd be in a corner badmouthing the food. If the company gave everyone a bonus, she'd complain it wasn't enough. There was no pleasing this woman.

Occasionally, I see this behavior on a few blogs and groups. Usually the good will of the majority will drown out the Negative Nancy's. Naysayers don't flourish unless they have enough minions to parrot their pessimistic view on life.

They will suck all the positive energy out of a room and then tell you it was your fault. Don't fall for it. Walk away and let them grumble on their own.

I avoid negative people at all costs and I think that that's the reason I'm almost always upbeat. And lest you think it's coincidence, let me tell you, I had a terrible, terrible year last year!

Two of my dearest friends died. For a while I didn't even have a place to live. And I had so many eye surgeries I couldn't even promote my book properly during its shiny new debut.

Don't feel sorry for me. I don't. There is nothing gloomy about my life.

No matter how terrible things got, there was always hope and where there's hope, good things grow.

When I think back on all the bad things that happened to me in 2008, do you know what I found in EVERY instance? My friends. They were always there for me to cheer me up, egg me on, or deliver the necessary boot to the butt.

All of us have bad days, some of us more than our fair share. But I solemnly believe that obstacles only test us. It's how we handle adversity that defines us.

My glass is always half full because there's always someone there to help me fill it.

Here's to a wonderful 2009 for all of us! May your cups runneth over with friends.

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I-Needa-Name-Contest is still going on until January 9. Go here for more details. I thought I almost had a winner but then I Googled the name and discovered it was already heavily used by someone else. Darn!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Markets

Well, we're back to regular programming. For those new to this blog, I regularly post market and publishing news on Mondays.

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I want to let you know about a new (to me) website that my editor Angela James mentioned recently. Literary Escapism is a website that discusses all manner of SFF fiction. Check it out! It's a great little site that introduces you to a lot of new fiction.

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Triangulation
Triangulation is an annual 125-150+ page short fiction anthology that publishes science fiction, fantasy, horror, and any other speculative fiction that caught the editors' fancy. Every year we have a theme: 2009's theme is "Dark Glass".

Pays: .02 cents per word, plus one contributor copy.

Submit to: Send your story to this email addy. Please put your subject line in the format of "SUBMISSION: Story Title" so we can tell you apart from the spam.

We'll consider stories ONLY in the following formats:
.odt (OpenDocument Text -- format used by the OpenOffice.org suite) -- preferred format
.rtf (Rich Text Format -- generic document format that most word processors can create)
.doc (MS Word -- we're not crazy about it, but let's face it, it's the one most people actually use)

The anthology will be published in late July of 2009.

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Vision a Resource for Writers

Newsletter offering writing tips, articles,and information for writers. Articles on writing welcome. Go here for submission guidelines.

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Resources

Babel Fish, Translator software.
I use this site a lot. Very easy to use.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dog Search

Greg is at it again, tempting me with more photos of dogs needing rescue. We missed out on the last one because we were smack dab in the middle of selling our house. We were that {} close to getting a dog, but in less than eight hours we had to give her back to the rescue group. It hurt us terribly, but that little girl found a new home right away so she did okay.

Still it left us minus one dog.

Greg wants a female rottie and I have my heart set on an Australian shepherd or similar breed. I love dogs that enjoy the outdoors and like to run. Chelly, my last Aussie baby was always at my side. I miss that.

Not that we can't have three or more dogs. We certainly have the space now and Tank needs the company. He's become terribly spoiled, snoozing on my lap, getting constant back rubs and racing Greg when he sees him on his 4-wheeler. That dog lives the life of Riley.

I'm not sure he'll appreciate sharing the spotlight but he's such an easy going boy, I'm sure he'll get used to it.

Now all we have to do is find him a sister.

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Don't forget about the naming contest. I-Needa-Name-Contest is still going on until January 9. Go here for more details.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

January OWW Newsletter

The latest OWW Newsletter is out. In this issue, I interviewed Karin Lowachee, author of "Cagebird" and "Warchild".

Karin is one of the resident editors at the workshop and a hugely talented author. I only know her in a professional capacity but when I interviewed her I was bowled over by her answers. They are insightful and to the point--my favorite combination. *g*

Whether you're new to writing or an old pro, I think you'll agree she gives wise advice. Go over and take a look.

Also if you are looking for a critique workshop, OWW is a wonderful place to find crit partners. Like any workshop, you get what you put in. It was certainly worth it for me.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Blog Planner

I've been browsing the blogosphere this week and everyone is discussing their resolutions. As a rule I don't make resolutions because I consistently make goals throughout the year. As one benchmark is reached I add another--or raise the bar.

This year I've narrowed my focus to things that deeply interest me. Aside from writing, I want to discuss saving money, animal husbandry, and growing food crops.

I've also decided to expand my education in the realms of magic and the supernatural. No, I'm not going New Age on you. It's hard to beat the Catholic out of me. LOL! But I love the mystery and lore of magic, witchcraft and the supernatural.

I've used bits and pieces of these elements in TOUCH OF FIRE. It was so much fun to do the research, I want to continue in this genre. It gives me a chance to use some of my personal experience with the supernatural too.

Since the paranormal is such a vast subject, I might narrow my ghost research to Irish/English ghost stories. I adore them! But myths and legends will probably span the globe. Who knows? I might make up a few legends of my own.

So what will you see on this blog in 2009?

• Marketing and promotional information
• Markets and contests of interest
• Paranormal subjects
• Living frugally with style
• and Dogs, of course

Put me on your Reader, RSS feed, or your blogroll. I promise some pretty interesting posts this year.

***

I-Needa-Name-Contest is still going on. Go here for more details. There have been some terrific ideas, but my mind's not made up yet. This contest continues to January 9th and a winner will be chosen on January 10th.

I love some of the entries that have come in already, I might just give a runner up prize too. Also, the grand prize winner will get a bonus with something from my home state of Texas.

So keep entering. We run until the fat lady sings!