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Thursday, February 28, 2013

One Foot in Front of the Other

A couple of weeks ago, when LD Masterson, Angela Brown and I attended ConDFW we met up with an old friend of mine. I hadn't seen her in a couple of years and she asked me what I'd been up to.

My first thought was--nothing. I haven't done anything of import, and truth be told, half the time I feel like I'm running in place. 

But then Angela started chiming in on the books I had published, and LD mentioned my work with Book Cover Diva. I was gobsmacked as they rattled off a laundry list of my accomplishments. 

Even though it felt as if I'd been standing still, I really had been busy. I've been a good mule, completing or mastering tasks slowly but steadily.

It made me wonder if I'm the only one who feels they never move forward. Maybe we all move forward, but the steps are so incremental that we don't realize we're making progress.

For instance: Writers, I'll bet your writing is far more mature than it was two years ago. If you're a gardener, I'll bet you don't make the same mistakes twice. And if you're a reader, I'd wager your range and understanding has grown from where you were a couple of years ago.

The point is, none of us really stand still. We're always growing, maturing, and accumulating experiences for our life's resume. Click to reTweet this quote.

So what does your life resume look like? Tell me what you've accomplished in the last two years. Jobs, children, education, WIPs, publications? Which accomplishment are you most excited about?




Monday, February 25, 2013

Vicious Rottweiler Mauls Puppy

...or maybe it was the other way around. Both combatants came out of this unscathed but there was a lot of flashing teeth and name-calling. I think Nana might've implied Iko's parents were not lawfully wed.

Oddly enough, the bystanders in this film refused to get involved. Smart dogs.

If you're reading this off a feed, it looks like you'll have to come to the blog to view the video. 




Despite Nana's over exuberance, everybody likes her; even Maggie who generally shows disdain for anyone on four paws. 

Potty training continues with only random accidents. I hate to say this out loud, but she's been accident-free for two days. I'm not going to rest easy until I can get a whole week like this. As soon as she proves herself dependable, we can dispense with doggy jail when I go out.

I so didn't want a puppy, but the extra work has been worth it. She's been a character and a half.

***

Back to Business

Getting your name out: What works and what doesn't? I think it boils down to two things. 

• Tweets and posts must offer something of value.

• And it has to be delivered to the right audience. Click to retweet this quote.

This leaves me in a bit of a quandary because I write both fiction and nonfiction, plus Book Cover Diva is strictly for authors. 

What to do? 

Then a brainstorm.

What if I stick to my general topic posts here and do publishing-related posts as guest posts? These won't have anything to do with book releases or blog tours. The only thing I'm interested in is meeting new people and perhaps future blog followers.

If you have a good-sized audience (300+ followers), or a lively comment stream, and you think your following would body-slam their own brothers-in-law off the computer just to read the latest article on book cover design or marketing topics, email me and we can plan something for the future.

In the meantime, I have a guest post coming up at Jackie Burris's blog the first week in March where I talk about a good friend of mine--Tank--and the day that changed us both forever. I'll let you know when it goes live.

***

Libraries: I have to admit, I don't have a clue how to get my books in a library, but somebody must because they recommended Mistress of the Stone to the Austin Public Library. Whoever you are, thank you!

***

I've got a crit, a book cover, and some blog posts to write this week. If I get  a chance, I also have a new contemporary fantasy novel to finish. A recent house guest has been bugging me to finish it.

LD Masterson and Angela Brown stayed with me a few days so we could attend ConDFW together

Brown was cool. As long as you kept her fed and let her molest the avocado I gave her to mash, she was fine. Masterson just wanted to work. Sheesh!

What's on your to-do list this week? 


***No brothers-in-law were harmed in the making of this post.***




Monday, February 18, 2013

ConDFW 2013

I'm still recuperating from the whirlwind weekend I spent with LD Masterson and Angela Brown when we attended ConDFW. The panels were so-so, though I thoroughly enjoyed the steampunk panels and the Tai Chi panel where I discovered that Tai Chi is not as easy as it looks on tv.

I was hoping EJ Wesley would've met us at ConDFW, but noooooooo. He had better things to do--like promote his latest book, Blood Fugue.

Even though I know Angela, LD and I would've been far more entertaining than a book tour, duty must come first. Go pick up Blood Fugue so EJ's sacrifice will not have been in vain. It's only 99 cents.

I'll talk more about the con when I'm more recovered, but meanwhile I'll leave you with some steampunkery. I was so stoked to learn how creative you could get building these costumes and accessories. It really appealed to my frugal side.

The pictures don't do these actors justice. There was so much in the details, makeup and even to the stitching on the clothing. They were so much fun to watch while they went into character too.

I apologize for not getting everyone's name. But my hat is off to them. They brought steampunk to life and turned me into an avid fan.

Steampunk was especially popular at this con, from the characters in costume to the Dealer Room where they sold books, accessories, clothes, and glossy magazines with slick photos of models in sexy steampunk attire.


Ramon & Radha Fagan (above and below)


Orvis Bloodletter, who was delightful despite the spiky teeth.




So how about you? What's the last conference you attended? Have you attended any where people walked around in costume?


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Our Newest Addition

I took a few days off earlier this week. I hadn't planned on it, but Greg came home after five weeks away and I let the internet fall by the wayside.

There is one more reason for my distraction.

I'd like you to meet Nana. (She's named after the border collie on Snow Dogs.)

The red thing is what's left of a toy after Iko finished with it.
First day in a new home

I have been in communication with a rescue organization for over a year. I had asked for an older herding dog, but the rescue lady insisted that I give Nana a chance and meet her. From the moment I picked her up, I knew she was the one.

We are taking extra precautions and limiting her to the dog run until she's had all her boosters. I've spoken to a couple of vets and both feel the parvo and distemper threats have since passed. The viruses can't survive triple digits, but I worry in case any strange dogs traipsed through our property after the initial viruses died. 

After all we suffered last year, better safe than sorry.

Tank and Nana: size difference

Nana loves everyone, even when her exuberant affection isn't reciprocated right away. She's so sweet tempered, I fear falling into a diabetic coma. :o) 

I've waited a long time for her. A week short of five years to be exact. I think my Chelly would approve.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cheating Cover Models

How to find out if your cover art has been used elsewhere

It's bound to happen whether you're an indie or published with the Big 5. Occasionally, you'll find your cover image reused--sometimes straight out of box on someone else's book.

It's irritating, but it happens. Popular images tend to get overused.

If you'd like to see if your cover art has been used elsewhere (and how). Right click your cover and click on View Image Info. The url of that image will already be selected. Copy and paste into Google Images.

If Google has found that image anywhere, it will spit out all the places it's seen it. It will even list any images that look similar to it.

By the way, this is how photographers and artists find out if someone has used their images without permission or payment.

It's also a reminder that you are simply buying the license for the art, not the art itself.

There's not much you can do but either customize an existing image, or have a cover designed and buy the rights to it.

Does it bother you to see the same image used on different books? I think it dilutes the message a little. And I can't help but feel a little sorry for the authors. Everybody wants a unique cover.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Tractor Pulling & Curious Cowboys

I worked like a dog over the weekend. Well, not like my dogs. They sleep all day and only come alive when they hear me in the kitchen. Suddenly, I'm their best friend.

Saturday was filled with errands and cleaning. But Sunday had me for breakfast and then spit me out in pieces. Yoga was first on the agenda and I had an instructor who might've had a little Marquis de Sade going on. My muscles were screaming when it was over. But it's all good, right? No pain, no gain.

Then I came home and worked on the back forty. It needed mowing. A lot of the late season weeds had sprung up after we had put the mower away last year. So I was a good girl and got the Bad Boy mower out. 

Greg bought this mower a few years ago and it's a dream to operate...unless you get it stuck.

Somehow I had come across a patch of mud that stealthfully hid under a crusty surface. No matter what I did I could not get that thing out of there. Having been in these situations before I tried all the regular options. I dug the mud off the wheels and wedged pieces of wood underneath to try to give it traction.

No dice. It was a thousand pound paperweight. And Greg was still nine days away.

If I was going to get it out I'd have to pull out the big guns. I had to get the tractor. 

I must've been quite a sight, me strapping the back end of the Bad Boy with a piece of chain, then maneuvering the tractor into position. 

I even had a man on a horse stop and watch me for a while. I waved at him to let him know I had it under control. I didn't want to trouble him--or his horse. He finally mosied off.

The mower was in so deep even the tractor couldn't drag it. I had to winch it up with the bucket and then drag it out of the maw of that mower-sucking pit. 

Finally, success! 

I probably should've called it a day after that ordeal, but it was such a pretty day, I hated to waste it and not get any work done. I got everything trimmed, but gave a wide berth to that pit of despair. 

After I showered I managed to get a little freelance work done. Book Cover Diva is starting to get some lovin' and I'm beginning to pick up some gigs. Designing covers is such a pleasure. I can lose myself in my work and never feel a bit tired.

It was a productive weekend, but it wore me out. I need a husband.

***

How was your weekend? Hope you weren't involved in any tractor pulls.

***

Oh, and don't forget. Mistress of the Stone is in the running for BEST BOOK of the YEAR at LASR. I was so pleased when it received a BEST BOOK rating last year. Vote for it, okay? Go here for the list. It should be in the middle.



I think I'm going to take it easy today.