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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Quickie Promo Tips

All right, all you promo-lovin' gluttons. Today, I actually talk about serious business stuff. Quickie promo tips anyone can (and should) do. Share your tips if you have any, or tell me your favorite way to reach a reader. Readers, I'll have a question for you over there too.

I'm over at Ian Healy's blog today. (Looks like he even added graphics too.)

To see where I've been and where I'm going, visit the Blog Tour Page.

***

One more funerary thing to do today and then my life will be my own again. Visit me at Ian's and I'll answer all comments when I get back.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Don't Panic and Other Weird Tales

The blog tour continues and I reveal one of my most embarrassing computer moments ever at Tia Nevitt's blog. But I'm not stopping there. Oh no. I also tell you how I came [this] close to committing murder when my computer decided to take up comedy. 

I swear to you I can't make this stuff up.

If you're a long time follower, you know there is never a dull moment in my life. If you're new...just hang on. I get weirder with age. :grin:

I forgot to ask a question at the end of the post, so take this one back with you when you go visit Tia.

What is strangest thing that's ever happened while you were on your computer? Bonus question: Do you love computers or are they a necessary evil? I'll let you decide how I feel about them after you read the story.

To see where I've been and where I'm going, visit the Blog Tour Page.

***
Sorry I've been a little absent lately. With my aunt passing away suddenly, I had a lot thrust on me at the last minute. But I should be caught up by the weekend, just in time for a tour break. Then we can have a regular post here.

For now, see me at Tia's and leave me a comment with your tale of woe. We can shake our fists in unison at our computers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cover Me


We'll get a little more serious today and talk about cover art at Cheryl Tardif's blog. It's hard for me to distance myself from my cover. I was a graphic artist and art director for many, many years. I have very specific ideas on how it should look, and it's tough to accept another's vision even when it's successful.

In the end, you have to gauge a cover by how well it works to capture attention and how well it describes what's inside.

Today, I have a question for both authors and readers. Stop by Cheryl's place and weigh in on the discussion.

For more chances to win, be sure to see the Blog Tour Page to see where else I've been.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dog Dish with Tank & Iko

I mentioned earlier that a couple of the interviews with me had been conducted without my knowledge. Even my dogs got into the act, easily lured by the promise of dog cookies and a chance to sit on someone else's couch.

Marianne Arkins is hosting Tank and Iko on her blog today in a post called Dog Dish with her dog, Dakota. 

I know Tank was thinking with his stomach so I won't be too hard on him, but I wish he had talked to me first. I'll need to be more careful about what I say in front of him from now on.

Go over and visit Marianne and leave me a comment, while I have a word with my two boys.

Remember, you can go back to any previous posts and leave a comment. I love to hear from you and I'll always check back and answer. Check the Blog Tour Page to see where I've been and where I'm going.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stuff You Don't Need To Know

...but I'll tell you anyway. The blog tour continues at Cate Masters' blog. Cate asks poignant and important interview questions while I make a mockery of myself.

But I did ask a serious question at the end of the interview. Stop by and answer my question. "Are they out there?"

***
Programming note: I will be in and out of pocket for the next few days. We had a death in the family, and since my place is midway between here and there, company is expected to stop by and visit.

***
PS  I just received email notification that the Brava blog I visited a few days ago released a lot more comments from you. I am off to check them out and answer. I'm sorry for the delay. They must have been held back for moderation.

All right, fly over to Cate's Halloween Interview

To see other blog tour stops, visit the Blog Tour Page.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Good News & Bad News

Good News: RT Reviews, the host for Writing With The Stars is letting us rally votes for one more day because of a computer glitch they had yesterday. So please, if ya luvs me, ask your followers to vote for Mistress Of The Stone.

Bad News: Because RT Reviews is hosting the contest, it was decided not to allow today's post to air while the contest is in play. The post centered around True Believers (hence the topic: Avoiding Computer Armageddon) but in the interest of fairness to the other finalists they decided they couldn't run it.

I really liked this post so I will change it out to another host blog, probably toward the end of the tour.

Sorry for the mix-up, guys.

Meanwhile, spread the word and help me out. We get one extra day to take the Mistress to the next round. Thanks!

News From The Trenches

Today, I am over at RT Reviews and have I got a post for you. I am going to save you from Computer Armageddon. Yes, it's real! I did my research.

Don't everyone thank me at once. :grin:

Stop over and pay me a visit. Don't forget to comment over there.

Edited to add: The post has been canceled due to a conflict of interest. But you can't keep a good blog tour down. "Avoiding Computer Armageddon" will show up on another host blog later in the tour.

***

And speaking of Armageddon, I promised good news today.

Some of you know that I had been working on the sequel for Touch Of Fire off and on. Sometimes more off than on. After a couple of false starts and an entire new draft, I finished it and sent it off.

I'm a bit superstitious about publicly announcing a contract until both parties have signed it. Last week, I received a signed copy from the publisher. 

Carina Press will publish Apocalypse Rising, sequel to Touch Of Fire. It will release in the Spring of 2011.

I'm looking forward to telling you more! It's a novel near and dear to my heart because I love the inner conflicts I created for my main characters. 

The sequel will answer some of the questions I posed in Touch Of Fire and there's going to be even more trouble for Grey and Leda--including trouble of the bedroom variety.

If you haven't read Touch Of Fire, snag it before the Spring. You'll get a lot more out of the second book if you read the first one first. 

All right. That's all I got for now. Go see me at RT Reviews so I can save you from your Computer Armageddon.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Vote for "Mistress Of The Stone"

Mistress Of The Stone needs your vote to stay in the running. Go to RT Reviews and vote for this saucy paranormal. The ballot box should be immediately after my entry. (I'm the one with the very cute dog.)

Mistress Of The Stone....because everyone needs a good pirate story.

The Doctor Is In

Writing is a cruel business. And it's easy to get the blues. To fight back, I've earned my Doctorate in Punchology. 

Try to sucker punch me, will ya? Go over and visit Lia Booke's blog and see what I do to keep my spirits up. Then tell me your tips on how you fight depression. After all, a good doctor is always willing to learn something new.

To see where I've been and where I'll be, check out the Blog Tour Page, updated daily for your browsing pleasure.

***

How do you like the blog tour so far? There is still more to come. If you think I was funny so far, you ain't seen nuthin' yet.

Blog tours are strange beasts, aren't they? They help the author by introducing her to new readers on the host blog. But the host blog is also a good resource for the author's regular readers. (That's you!)

As I go from blog to blog, be sure to hang around a while, see what else is on that blog. You might like it. And then you can thank me later for introducing you to someone fabulous.

Blog tours are win-win scenarios for everyone. It's a golden opportunity to expand your network--which I'll talk about in greater detail later at another guest post. 

***

Okay, today is the very last day for the Writing With The Stars Contest. Will I make it to Round 2? Who knows? But we'll give it the college try.

I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything. No matter what happens, I am very pleased with the results. I learned a lot from my mentor, Terri Brisbin, and for that I am immensely grateful.




Saturday, October 23, 2010

Start Here

I'm taking you on a tour today. A little bit of where I live. Start here. This is one of a pair of trellises at my driveway. Someday there will be blackberries all over it.

 
Then go over to Jackie Burris's blog where I'll show you just how small my community is. 

And if the picture of "my boys" doesn't compel you to comment, I don't know what will. I laugh every time I see the picture of my "Brute Squad".

The blog tour continues nonstop. Be sure to keep coming back to see what else is new.

***

The first round of Kensington Brava's Writing With The Stars Contest is drawing to a close this weekend! Tell all your friends (or at least the ones who have computers). LOL.

See you at Jackie's!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Aliens Among Us


Today I'm going to tell you everything I know about the Nephilim, all two pages of research. :grin: I'm visiting with Marian Perera where I talk about the Nephilim and why I used them in True Believers

Keep checking the Blog Tour Page because I'll be blogging all weekend long. Saturday, I'll give you an intimate peek on where I live with a photo journal, and Sunday, it's Doc Maria and her One-Two Punch.

You won't want to miss these two posts.

Winner of the Carina blog comments: Meghan Schuessler. Meghan, email me your email address so I can send you your copy of True Believers. Congrats!

The first round to Kensington Brava's Writing With The Stars Contest is drawing to a close this weekend! That makes it Rally Weekend.

I'd appreciate all the tweets and blog/FB mentions you can squeeze in from now until Sunday so I can gain every vote I can. Thanks!


Monday, I'll reveal some good news I received this week. And all next week, most of the posts will be fun ones.

Okay, go see me at Marian's and I'll visit with you there. 

**********Let's take the Mistress to the next round.**********

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Up and Down

I tend to write upbeat posts because that's what I like to read, but I think I goofed today.

My mentor, Terri Brisbin got me a spot on the Brava blog line-up and I wrote about how Mistress Of The Stone was born. Now that I reread it, it sounds kind of depressing, which is embarrassing because I didn't mean it to come out that way. 

I'm afraid people are going to think I'm looking for the pity party bus. Puleeease. Moi? Don't feel sorry for me, okay? All I need is a slap to the head and a push broom.

Hopefully, I will redeem myself over at Smart Girls Love SF Romance where I do a Q&A with Charlie. Oy! I am such a kidder there!

Go over and visit me at both places. I have a cute dog picture at Charlie's place. But I'm afraid it's just my ugly mug over at Brava's. (see how depressing it got!)

I haven't picked a winner from the Carina posts, so you still have time to go over there and comment for a chance to win a copy of True Believers.

Check out the Blog Tour Page for links and for what's coming up next. After next week, we'll take a little break for Halloween and the Day of the Dead (cuz I always celebrate).

Let me say that you guys have been so good to me. I appreciate all the comments, the tweets, the Facebook mentions, all of it. Please, whatever you do, don't stop!

When all this is over, I'll do a wrap-up and discuss what I've learned from this tour. I think you might find it interesting.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Giveaway at Carina Press

Today is my day to blog at Carina Press. I think the posts will go live at 9am, noon and 4pm, but I'll update the blog tour page as soon as I know for sure.

The first post is up. Conspiracy theories, I luvs 'em.
2nd post: Behind Closed Doors, short excerpt and review links.
3rd post:  Zombie Chickens and Scorpions. Yeah, it's about them.

Go over and visit me. If you comment on any (or all) of these posts you are in the running for a free copy of True Believers.


And if you haven't read my interview with Carina's Digital Manager Aideen O'Leary Chung, scroll down to the next post. Carina means business!

***

Remember, you can visit any of the other blogs on my tour at any time between October 17 and November 22. Every comment counts!

Carina Press: Aideen O'Leary-Chung

I have a very special guest today.

For those who want an inside look at how Carina operates behind the scenes, Aideen O'Leary-Chung, Senior Manager of Digital Commerce kindly agreed to an interview. Enjoy!

1.                Tell us a little about what you do at Carina Press.
My title is Senior Manager, Digital Commerce for both Carina Press and Harlequin digital products. What does that mean? It means that there is no such thing as a normal work day really. 

Let’s see, when wearing my Carina Press hat, I serve as Art Director for the covers, briefing and assigning them to the artists that I think will most enjoy working on them, handling communication with the team and artists as we work through drafts and providing finalized files to Production.

Also, I work with the rest of my team, Tara Stevens and Carly Chow on marketing for Carina. We’re consistently looking at different venues and methods for promoting the variety of editorial that can be found within the Carina Press brand. We’re always looking for new websites, newsletters etc..to reach the audiences for the many genres we publish. As a member of the acquisition team for Carina, I get a sneak peek at the titles to come. 

The other half of my role is the same for both the Carina and Harlequin sides. I work with ebook retailers to build awareness of our books, merchandise our books and ensure that they have anything they need to sell our books.  That’s it in a nutshell and there are a ton of other details that fit within there, but that’s not fun to read about!

2.             How did you come into this position?
Well, I’ve been with Harlequin for over 10 years now and I began in our Direct-to-Consumer group, where my roles included marketing and product development. Then, almost 4 years ago, I was able to move to the Digital group. 

This role allows me to take my passion for our books (yes all of them – give me an hour and I’ll find you an author or series that’s for you) and share it with readers in a whole new way. In the words of Malle Vallik, “It’s all about the story” and as more and more readers integrate ebooks into their reading habits, they are looking for the same title availability and in-depth information on books that they get in the print space. 

We work to bring that information to our various vendor sites and into our online marketing. The best part? The digital space provides more opportunities to communicate with readers in a variety of ways and in a timely fashion.

What do you think sets Carina Press apart from other digital publishers?
We want to publish it all…and so far, we do! I love that our acquisition discussions focus on how interesting and unique the stories are and I think our willingness to support books that might not otherwise find their audience sets us apart . The more intriguing the genre, the better! I feel that we do a great job of embracing our tagline - “Where no great story goes untold”. 

What sort of things do you do to market Carina Press authors?
One of the things we do is provide authors with the tools to enable them to promote their books. Sometimes it’s as basic as giving them their covers, but other times, we create banners for a site or postcards with the bcc and a promotion code for them to take to conferences. 

We have an enewsletter that is sent to subscribers each month containing new releases, author spotlights, genre spotlights, an array of info! All of our titles are available on NetGalley each month and we’re currently running ongoing ads on a number of popular blogs and websites. 

In 2011, we’ll be targeting even more of the genre-specific websites to reach readers of Steampunk, Mystery and other genres. We began the Carina Press blog on the day we announced launch and kept readers up to date on acquisitions, shared covers as they were available and generally kept the communication going leading into launch. 

We’ve also got a thriving presence on Facebook and Twitter, each with its own content, so that people can visit all properties and get something new. In print, we’ve been in PW, Romantic Times Book Reviews and coming soon, in Suspense Magazine. Last year, we attended both the Romantic Times Convention and RWA and our Executive Editor Angela James hit a variety of reader and writer conferences to build the buzz.  

What tips can you give authors to better market their books?
I would say that marketing is ongoing. It begins well before your book is released and continues well afterwards (particularly with ebooks as they never disappear). You want to build a brand within the digital space – through your author website, Twitter, Facebook etc…that is true to who you are. 

Discover blogs and websites with other readers and authors and become engaged. Finally, make sure you always include the basics – title, release date and where your book is available in your communications. While readers love the behind-the-scenes info on a book, be sure they have the how/where to get it.

3.             What do you do for fun?
I have two boys, aged 9 and 4 ½ so they pretty much are my fun and take up all of my free time. Whether they are schooling me on the Wii or we’re negotiating how many stores Mom has to hit before they can get back to their lives, they definitely keep me going. When they finally go to bed, I collapse on the couch and recharge with way too much TV.

Thanks, Aideen! It was generous of you to stop in and give us inside peek on how Carina operation.

***

UPDATE: I'm blogging at Carina Press today! 

Stop by for a chance to win a copy of True Believers. 
1st post: Secrets & Lies
2nd post: Behind Closed Doors
3rd post: Zombie Chickens and Scorpions

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Calling All Dogs

Today's guest post is a bittersweet story about my constant writing companions. I'm visiting author Jennifer Shirk at her lively and popular blog. It's a site you'll want to add to your blog reader!

At Jennifer's place, today's question is about your companions. Who is your shadow?

Remember, you can visit any of the other blogs on my tour at any time between October 17 and November 22. Every comment counts!

Besides, I like hearing from you. :o)

Monday, October 18, 2010

True Believers: Science Fiction Romance


Today is the only day I'll give myself permission to squee and point at my book. 

See! Book! Real book.

You would think release day would be the most exciting part of being published, but for me the most exciting part is when you get that call or email saying that the publisher wants your book. I always look behind me to see if they meant someone else.

I also enjoy the stage when I get to work with the editor because I love the interaction. She points something out and like a good girl, I go fix it. My editor for True Believers was the charming and eagle-eyed Rhonda Stapleton. Kudos to Rhonda for keeping me on the straight and narrow.

To give you an idea of what to expect with this book tour I will tell you that the book releases today, but it's a month of posts and tweets to generate excitement beyond the borders of the people who normally read me. (That's where you come in.)

For the most part, I have one to two weeks to make a splash before the adoration moves on to someone else. So for the next four weeks I'm going to splash around like a drowning woman in the middle of the ocean.

I hope you like the splashes. 

Today's splash is over at Absolute Write. It's called Mickey vs Maria.

I have never told this story in public before. And this story is ABSOLUTELY true,  so help me God.

After that incident I am convinced I have nerves of steel.
Go over and see for yourself. Can you pass the Mickey test? 

Reviews: So far I've received three good reviews. I don't want to wave my pom poms but if you're interested in three different takes on the same novel, stop by these reviewers and check it out.

Reviewer Ronda Tutt, Bitten by Paranormal Romance
Reviewer Charlie, Smart Girls love Scifi
Reviewer Jackie Burris


Note: Don't forget, you can comment on guest posts any time between 10-17 through 11-22 for a chance to be in the drawing. Go here to see the list as it updates.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blog Tour Begins

It's here! The official blog tour for True Believers begins today.

First stop: The Galaxy Express where Heather Massey interviews me. Go over and visit. Maybe I'll surprise you. Maybe not. :o)

For the next month, give or take a few days, I will be blogging somewhere new. Some posts will be funny, others informational. At least two were not sanctioned by me, but I've forgiven the traitors who sold me out. *grin*

To give you every chance to put your name in the hat, I will keep a running list of all the blogs I've visited as well as prize information on this page. Leave a comment at any and every guest post between now and November 22 for a chance to win the grand prize.

Hope to see you at all the new digs I'll be visiting! 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

And So It Begins...

Your unwavering support has choked me with emotion. 

True Believers comes out next week, and Mistress Of The Stone is in the middle of competition over at RT Reviews. Through it all, you guys have been cheering me, supporting me, and giving me a well-deserved boot to the butt when I needed it.

I hope I'm not missing anyone, but I wanted to recognize the people who've been so kind. Maya Reynolds and Suzanne McLeod wrote wonderful posts about me and the Brava contest. Mike Keyton, that sly devil posted a cryptic mention of True Believers. Dru, Jenny Schwartz, and Marianne Arkins have given me nice mentions on their blogs. KS Augustin has been tweeting me (and keeping me from opening a vein). LOL. And dear, sweet Jackie Burris of Housewife Blues and Chihuahua Stories has been posting and tweeting my praises not only for Mistress Of The Stone, but also for True Believers.

I can't even begin to list all the names of people who have wished me well, here, on other blogs, and on my forums. It's been overwhelming to say the least. 

All I can say is thank you. I am very lucky to call you friends.

***

I have two pieces of news today.

I received my first official review for True Believers from Bitten By Paranormal Romance. I was so nervous, I was afraid to read it.

Not only did the reviewer give it their highest rating (5 Howls) she writes:


Phenomenal Writing! Excellent Read!

...Rachel and Taelen’s romance is so sweet and sexy. The sex scenes are very tasteful, not your hard core erotica but leaves you with one hell of an image to think about especially with Taelen’s extra tentacles he has around his large staff. The one scene in the bath pool about drove me crazy. Absolutely loved it!

I loved the action between the new Artificial Intelligence Bubba (computer program technology come to life) and his sister FAIA (newer model computer technology with updated programs). To weave the web based world and its advanced military programming within this story was pure brilliance.

All the characters were wonderfully developed and the book flowed beautifully. I was so entranced and felt like I was there living it all in color.


I almost fainted. Thank you, Ronda!

***
The next piece of news is that I hope you'll go over to Mia Marlowe's blog where she is graciously hosting me for the day. I talk a little about my mentor, Terri Brisbin, and share a very short excerpt that I think describes the hero and heroine from Mistress Of The Stone to a T. (Let me know what you think!)

Over at Mia's I'll be asking you a personal question. If you were a mentor, what experience would you share? Everyone has an expertise. What's yours? 

Will you stop by and visit me over there? It's a new place and I don't want to be all by myself. LOL! 

See you at Mia's!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Zoe Winters

For a long time I wondered how successful you could be as a self-published author. I knew JA Konrath had done tremendously well, but he already had a huge following both on his blog and for his books.

While following Kait Nolan, I discovered Zoe Winters, a tireless advocate of self publishing, quickly building a name and a following. Not one to let a golden opportunity pass me by, I asked Zoe if I could interview her about self publishing and her work.

Step inside the world of entrepreneur, Zoe Winters. 

***


You've stated that you self published because you didn't want a traditional publisher. What was the catalyst that steered you in that direction?
I'm very small-business minded and have owned a few small businesses before this. Those businesses never took off because I didn't have the passion to stick with them. They were always things I was interested in but ultimately things I was doing "so I could write." When I discovered self-publishing as a small business option, I realized that if I wanted to run a small business and write, then I should be combining the two. The catalyst was basically that I don't like working for other people and I have some social anxiety so it's hard for me to maintain a "real job" out in the "real world." I've had 33 jobs and have a low tolerance for crap when working for others. I saw traditional publishing as just another way I'd have to be "working for someone else."

I'm definitely not opposed to professional cover art and professional editing (two services I pay for as an indie author), but... I AM opposed to someone else being in control of my work, being able to give my book a stupid, gimmicky title that I didn't approve, or a cover I don't like or that doesn't reflect the story, or editing my style and voice in such a way I don't like, or telling me what I can and can't write to fit their formulas or comfort zones. That whole concept was just epic fail to me. To add insult to injury, I would have to do most of my own marketing, and still only get a small cut of the proceeds rather than the full profit. I honestly don't get why self-publishing isn't seen as the most attractive option to more authors. Writing is about the only creative endeavor left in which the artists gladly accept the idea that "someone else" knows better than them about how their work should be created and presented. Um. No.

How do you respond to critics who claim self-pub'd books are sub par?
I think it's a stupid argument on their part because in a free market anyone can produce anything and it's the market that decides what is and isn't good and what will and won't succeed. I can't control what anybody else publishes. So to imply that anyone who self-publishes "probably sucks' because most self-published books do, is to blame me for everyone else's business choices. No one eats at a crappy mom and pop restaurant and then says all mom and pop restaurants are subpar. No one gets bedbugs at a bed and breakfast and says ALL B&B's have bedbugs. It's an illogical way of stereotyping people.

Stereotypes are a shortcut way of dealing with others so you don't have to think. But, there is "already" a shortcut when dealing with a book. All you have to do is look at the cover. If the cover looks professional, the odds that the self-published book is "subpar" go way down. Then check out a sample. If it's cleanly edited and you like the style and story, just buy it. Who cares how it got published? If a self-published book is produced right, most readers are never going to know one way or the other if it's self-published because it's not going to scream: "Hi, I'm part of the stereotype". Many of my readers thought I was published by a mainstream publisher until they read my website and found out I started my own imprint.

You've come up with some imaginative ways to market yourself, including the much talked about and amusing Zoe Who videos. Can you tell us how the video idea came about? And why is she in superhero tights?
I'm not a really big fan of book trailers (with some rare exceptions), but I saw the value in trying to plug in to the Youtube audience. I had seen a few videos made with Xtranormal before, and I just think everything is funnier with robots. In this case I felt like the campyness of pre-made sets/characters/robot voices etc. would add to, rather than take away from the series. I wanted to address a lot of the stereotypes and weirdness in the publishing industry in a funny/satirical way. And I wanted to tell my publishing story in little bite-sized snippets.

The superhero tights are just because that was one of the options for the pre-made characters and sets. I was looking through several of the things that were available and when I saw a character with a Z on her chest, I was like... yes! Because it ties back into the title... Zoe Who? Which is really... "Who the hell is this person and why should I care?" So I thought it would be funny to have the character play it up by dressing like a superhero. Other characters have superhero outfits as well... Agent Broccoli, Captain Technical Support, and probably the cover artist character who I "think" I'm introducing next.

What goes into formatting and designing a digital book? Was there anything you found daunting?
I do the formatting for both my ebooks and my print books. Print is harder because there is more of an art to it. I use Aaron Shepard's book: "Perfect Pages" as a reference guide to help me with that. Ebooks are just about keeping it simple. The text can be resized on an e-reader so the biggest problems with formatting for digital is when someone gets too "precious" about it and is trying to mimic the printed page layout. Smashwords.com has a style guide that helps you format simply for E. I use that.

As for what I found daunting... in the PDF layout, I had trouble getting "curly quotes" for Kept. There was an issue where "find and replace" wasn't working, and the other option was to type in all my curly quotes. In print, books are supposed to have quote marks that curl in toward the text, instead of the straight up-and-down marks we're used to in online communication. Of course I spazzed out about it and called it the Curly Quote Crisis of 2008. :P

Zoe Winters writes quirky and sometimes dark paranormal romances. Her favorite colors are rainbow and clear. Her books are available at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Smashwords.com (more retailers coming soon). You can find her at the following places:

Website: http://www.zoewinters.org
Blog: http://zoewinters.wordpress.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/zoewinters
Zoe Who? Video Series: http://www.youtube.com/user/ZoeWinters1
Thank you, Zoe!

Readers: Would you consider self publishing? Is there anything you'd like to ask Zoe?

Monday, October 11, 2010

1, 2, 3, VOTE!

I need your help to spread the word! Vote for Mistress Of The Stone for Best First Paragraph and Last Line at RT Reviews.

Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches weighed in and lent her thoughts to all the excerpts. Huzzah! I managed to keep her interest!

Below is my excerpt. We were asked to turn in the first paragraph and last line of the novel.  

FIRST PARAGRAPH: 
Luísa Tavares had a list of sins the length of the Antilles, but there was no time to repent for them now. She spat out the tang in her throat then shimmied down the mainmast of the Coral, her tight leather britches and sharp cutlass a mockery to all that was decent in a woman. Time was running out for the captain of the Coral. And with it, his luck.

LAST LINE:  
Mayhap, his chance had come.

***

So what do you think? Will you vote for me? Will you help me spread the word? Tweet the link to all your followers. I need all the help I can get.

Note: If you noticed me absent this morning, it's because we had a huge thunderstorm roll in. Thick clouds are havoc on satellite connections. But we're back up for now.  What a day to lose my internet connection!

I need to go out for a little while but I'll be back this afternoon to visit with everyone and answer emails.
 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Other Woman

In honor of my wedding anniversary, I'm going to tell you the story about how Greg and I met. It's a story of shame and scandal because I, gentle reader, was the other woman.

It's true.

I was 16 years old and my best friend kept bugging me to go with her so she could spy on this senior at our school. Ordinarily, I would have gladly accompanied her since I'm always up for a chance at espionage, but this was all taking place at a CHESS CLUB meeting!

Could this guy be any more dull? I begged her to let me pass on this. I'd rather watch ice melt than die a slow death watching a bunch of nerds play chess.

My friend with her big brown eyes kept pestering me. She was too shy to go by herself and she desperately wanted this guy to notice her. So I caved, like I usually did with her, and she dragged me down to a classroom filled with high school boys.

I walked in first with my short blue skirt and my too-tight sweater. A few mouths dropped. Other boys stuttered in incoherent sentences as beads of sweat formed on their brows. I had their complete attention. (LOL)

Only ONE guy didn't have the decency to look up from his chess board and acknowledge me. This conceited, pompous, nerd-herder ignored me! The nerve!

I whispered to my friend and asked her who it was we were here to spy on. She made googly eyes at Mr. (too good for little girls) Hot Shot.

Yeah. That was Greg.

I rolled my eyes. Okay, I told her. 'Make this quick. Give him your best line and let's get out of here.' Instead, she tortured me and we stayed for over an hour, me groaning like a dying dog.

I chatted with some of the other guys while my friend edged closer to Greg. They talked a little, and Greg was surprisingly polite and sweet to my friend.

Okay, so he wasn't a total jerk. But the guy was obviously blind since he still refused to acknowledge me. As a matter of fact, he ignored me the entire time I was there.

But a funny thing happened over the days and weeks that followed. I kept seeing Greg everywhere.

He'd be at all my favorite haunts, my favorite eating places, my favorite hiding places. I'd look up and there he'd be. He never said much to me. Just a hello, before he went on to someone else.

This went on for weeks and even my friend had lost interest by then. One day, Greg caught me after school and asked me if I wanted to take a walk by the lake. We lived in Chicago. Our school was less than a mile from Lake Michigan.

We walked for what seemed like hours, talking about everything. He was smart (too smart), funny, and terribly witty. (I adore witty men.) By the time he walked me home I felt like I had known him all my short life. He never touched me. Never kissed me. We just talked.

When I got home I realized I wanted to keep seeing him. I went to my friend to tell her what had happened, but she said she already knew. When Greg started showing up at all our 'spots', she knew he had already put his mark on me.

Why didn't anybody tell me?!

Sheesh!

Greg and I dated throughout his last year of high school and stuck together even when he went away to university. I didn't expect him to stay with me once he went to college. I was getting ready to go to university myself and our lives were about to be parted forever. I knew soon, we'd never see each other again. I was bracing myself for the big breakup.

But the breakup never happened. He moved back to the city. I scaled back my plans and took a full time job at a newspaper. 

One day, he took me to McDonald's for lunch. 

The lot was horrendously jam-packed and noisy. There were cars and people everywhere.

Greg took me by the hand, and with all the sincerity only a man in love could muster, he got down on one knee, pulled out a diamond ring, and asked me to marry him.

I swear to you, all at once, we were completely alone. All the noise, the traffic, and the people disappeared in a gentle whoosh.

I stared at him for a minute. Wondered if I could outrun him. :o) But when I searched his face, it was as if I could see the future. I knew he would always be there for me. I knew he was the one.

It was silly. I was so young. How could I possibly know such a thing? But I did.
 
Today is our wedding anniversary. 35 years with the same annoying, exasperating and magnificent man. 35 years with the only man I've ever loved. He's been an adventure since the day we met.

I think I'll hang on to him a little while longer. Just to be sure.

By the way, it was no accident that I chose the date 10-10 for our wedding. I knew one day I'd be seeing 10-10-10 with Greg at my side--and here we are.

***
Tell me your story: How did you meet your significant other--be it spouse, best friend, or best pet? 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Comfort Movies

I read a review for Serenity on KS Augustin's blog and I left a comment, but the blog ate it. (It was probably my fault.)  But I was left having to email her my rebuttal. :grin:

Serenity is one of my comfort movies. It's one of those movies I'll watch just because it makes me feel good, a standby for when there is nothing on tv and I am dying for some diversion. 

I don't have cable so I have to rely on movies as my primary source of entertainment. We are quickly amassing quite a movie library. I pick up dvds at garage sales and the sales bin at Walmart. Only rarely do we buy first run movies anymore.

Sci-fi and fantasy is at the top of our hit list. But historicals and action movies are also popular at our house.

These are the top six movies I like to watch:


When Greg's home we tend to watch more adventure flicks like Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Star Trek, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I Robot, and 300.

How about you? What movies do you like to curl up with some popcorn? What movies do you recommend? We are always looking for new movies to add to our collection.

Followers: I'm seeing a couple of new followers on the list but I couldn't find an active link for you. If you're a follower and I haven't followed you back, leave a comment with your blog url.

Programming note: I normally don't post on Sundays, but this is a very special Sunday. It is my wedding anniversary and I am going to tell you the story of how I met Greg. (It was a very scandalous affair.)

Be sure to stop by because you know I'm going to ask you how you met your significant other, be it man, woman or first pet.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Winner and Updates

You guys did a great job of cheering me up. I don't know why I let some yahoo get to me. I guess deep down I always want to think the best of people and when they disappoint, it's very disheartening.

There were an awful lot of good rhymes and stories, but I have to pick one winner. 

I dip my hand into the Fishbowl of Fate and the winner is...Linda Leszczuk.

Linda, email me your physical address and I'll send some 'poop' right over.

***

The other day, I decided to update 'My Books' and put True Believers on top since it's about to come out. 

But then I wondered...what about Mistress Of The Stone? I need to mention that book and beg --er, ask for votes. So I browsed for shareable art and found a saucy wench to play the part of Luísa, the heroine in Mistress.

Pop over to My Books and let me know what you think. I know it's a little racy, but most of her is covered up. Does it look sexy and paranormal? 

I wish I found a similar picture for the hero, Xander Daltry. But so far none have done him justice. (I'm so picky!)

A couple of things occurred to me about this contest. Any one of the ten finalist manuscripts could win a contract, so they're all good. The real test is how much enthusiasm each author can muster for her book.

Is it a popularity contest? Most definitely.  

But I didn't enter this novel to see how popular I was (or wasn't). I entered it because I think it's one of the best stories I've written next to Apocalypse Rising, the sequel to Touch Of Fire.

Mistress is fun and cheeky, and yes, romantic. Wait til you get a load of the love scene excerpt. It smolders on the page! 

Unfortunately, it's the last excerpt in the challenges, so if I get voted off the island beforehand you won't see it. --Not right away anyway.

Even if Mistress doesn't win the contest, this is a book that will definitely sell. That's how sure I am of it. I can feel it in my bones.

Programming note on guest blogs: If I promised you a post, you will get it by October 11 unless I'm scheduled for November on your blog. I'm waiting for the contest link to go live so I can add it to each post.

Except for two posts, they're all done, so I'm in good shape.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Cheer Me Up Contest

I'll tell you about the contest in a minute, but first news about Iko, my juvenile delinquent dog.

Iko started school on Sunday. I enrolled him in obedience class at the intermediate level in the hopes the extra socialization will calm him down. He is so hyper when guests come over. It wouldn't be so bad if he were a little dog, but at 89 pounds, all his loving can put you in a body cast.

He's a good dog most of the time, but when anyone visits (including Greg) he acts like they're long lost relatives and he races at people as if he were on fire. The goof!

So we went to school yesterday. By the time it was over, we were both exhausted, but he still gave me a sweet hug when we got back to the car.

To his credit, he behaved better than I expected. I thought all the people and noises would send him into tail-wagging overdrive. He was a little hyper in the beginning, but within 20 minutes he was behaving like a gentleman. 

***
My internet went AWOL over most of the weekend, so I apologize if I missed anything important. I should be caught up soon.

Sadly, when I got back online late last night, I read something that disheartened my normally chipper disposition. Now I need a pat on the back--and cookies. :o)

Want to cheer me up? Tell me what's going on with you. You get extra points if you put it in rhyme. 

The best story, rhyming or not, gets a prize. I'll have to dig through my prize vault to see what it'll be. It could be a t-shirt. It could be Chicken Poop. One never knows.

I'll pick a winner Tuesday night--and announce it on Wednesday.

Friday, October 1, 2010

UP Got Me Down


I'm probably the last person in the world to have seen UP, the Disney blockbuster from last year. Everyone, and I mean, everyone has been urging me to see this movie.

The story is about Carl Fredrickson, an elderly man who somehow manages to fly his house to South America as a promise to his late wife, and also to evade a court order that will put him in a retirement home. As he's making his getaway, he accidentally picks up a young stowaway, and together they encounter a villain with a huge pack of dogs who can not only talk through ingenious translation collars, but can also cook. (A dog that can cook! That's a dream come true for me.)

I know everyone wanted me to see this movie because of the talking dogs, and in any other case that would have hooked me.

But, I have to tell you it depressed both Greg and me very much.

We loved the characterizations of the dogs. Whoever wrote them definitely knew the canine perspective. 

From the sudden (and constant) cries of "Squirrel!" where every dog head snaps in unison, to the 'Cone of Shame', the plastic cone put on dogs to keep them from chewing--but in this instance is used as punishment. The dog references were spot on each time.

But it was the very short but memorable lead up at the beginning of the movie where we meet young Carl and Ellie (his wife) that really upset us. The clip is below.




As Greg and I watched it, we'd glance over at each other, uncomfortably aware that this was our story too. We aren't as old as Carl and Ellie, but we'd been together a long time, childless, still enjoying our 'adventures'.

When Ellie dies, we felt Carl's suffering as keenly as if it happened to us. Although we liked the story, it was just too sad thereafter to enjoy it. I seriously doubt we'll ever watch it again.

Kids will love this film, as will parents, but I think it hits too close to home when you're talking about losing the love of your life and continuing on without him/her.

We both liked the movie, and the message was a good one, but I am a little sorry we saw it.

Did you see UP? What did you think?