Kick Start the New Year!

Out with the old and in with the new... it's not just a cliche. If you are a professional writer than this should be your mantra for getting ready for 2010. It can't be said enough that in order to be treated as a professional we must first treat ourselves as professionals. I've been in this business long enough to know that I can't expect someone else to push me if I want to accomplish my goals. I need to do it myself. No one else can put my butt in the chair and no one else can make my fingers hit the keyboard. I need to do that myself.

Accept it...
It's about more than making resolutions and goals. We need to be able to put practices in place that show that we are actively pursuing a publishing career. It's not enough to say that I want to be published. I must say how I am going to accomplish it.

I will write 1,000 words a day.
I will log it on a daily log sheet.
If I miss a day I will go forward and not quit. But I will hold myself accountable by showing that I didn't acomplish what I'd promised myself.

Accountability...
I use this word a lot, both in my day job and my writing. As I said before it's not enough to wish. If you don't do the work then you only have yourself to blame. I may not always write every day (today was a good example). But I always do something that moves my career forward. Today, it was a day of organization. I organized all those wayward receipts and put them into the log that I use for tax purposes. This is the first time ever that I've had all my writing receipts logged before the end of the New Year. It feels good. I could beat myself up for not writing, but I did do something that contributes to my treating myself as a professional. In any job there are those days when the drudgery involves endless paperwork (scheduling, yuck) and you would rather be doing the fun stuff. Still, without it the wheels would not keep turning and we would only resent the fact that we had gotten behind or missed something.

So, for my first suggestion on Kick Start your New Year I want to know what you are going to do that will change how you treat yourself as a professional? I'd like to hear it...

"Honest" Writing

I'm not sure how much grief I may get for this blog post or whether or not I understand what it is that I'm trying to say to the extent that I may convey it clearly to anyone else. But lately I've found that when my writing is lacking it's due to the fact that I have written what I would call an "honest" book.

By "honest" I mean a book that genuinely taps into emotions and conveys them to the reader. I've picked up tons of books that I was excited to read only to find that they fell flat when reading them. They may have initially captured my interest, but they failed to touch my heart. And that is failure with a book. As writers we are told to write what we know or to write from the heart. But how many of us truly understand that to do this means to put our emotions out there for anyone to see. We must lay our souls bare in order to capture the essence of our story. Notice... I didn't say our character's soul? That's because whether we like it or not our characters are a true reflection of what we see, feel, think and hear. Their experiences are our own and until we truly understand the emotions that come with those experiences we can't truly write and "honest book".

I write about grief a lot in my stories. Mostly, there's the grief of losing a loved one. When I wrote Three Truths my mother's cancer had taken it's final downturn. This was in January of that year and we were told that there would be no more surgeries, she could undergo the chemo and radiation, but the effect would remain the same. I don't remember having a physical reaction to the news. I know that I was sad, but on the outside I remained hopeful for my mother's sake. I sat down to write Three Truths and I wanted to write about possibilities and about hope. In many ways I accomplished this, but I also, ironically, dealt with loss and the ability to open your heart again after loss. I had no idea how important that was going to become to me in the short 9 months after the final diagnosis. But all the fears, hurt, hope... they're all there in the book. I set it all in a fairy tale setting, but the emotions were mine and they were real.

I've been working on a new story lately, one that I haven't fully come to realize it's potential. There is plenty of potential there. But I realized that what was bothering me most was that I hadn't managed to inject enough "honesty" into the story. The characters were too good, too happy and too settled to be set amongst a mystery. I hadn't given them hardships and I hadn't given them a heart that could shatter or break open wide with love. I hadn't given them something that they couldn't bear to lose and then taken it away from them.

So, it's back to the drawing board. I need to understand just what it is that they are truly hiding within themselves. Maybe, when I do discover it... I'll be able to write that "honest" book.

Slugging away at my writing...



Day 3: And so far I've managed to write each day. I have a measly little goal of a 100 words, but find that most days I blow that away... except today. Oh, I got to my goal. But it wasn't easy. I'm tired and cranky and had a long, long day of pre-Christmas retail work. The last thing that I could think about was being creative. Still, I manage to get those words onto the page. And I can truthfully say that I am proud of myself. Besides, there is always tomorrow to finish the Great American Novel. :)

When Inspiration Strikes



I'm up early. At least early for me. Hubby has left at this unGodly hour for work and I found that I couldn't let the characters in my head stay silent anymore. For two days I have worked long hours with only a few minutes caught here and there to be able to satisfy their need for attention. But this morning they want their time in the light. I've turned on the lights on the tree, set a pot of coffee to brew and sit here in semi darkness trying to rationalize why, on one of my few days off I'm not lounging in bed with the covers pulled up around me and dreaming of warm places.

For some reason the holidays have always been a fairly creative time for me. I don't know if it's just my minds complete knowlege that there is very little time allotted for creative endeavors. Or if it's the fact that this is the Universe's way of reminding me that this is what I truly wish I was doing. But since bills must be paid and a roof must stay over our heads, I know that I must work.

Still, it's at these quiet times that I know my soul can't deny that what I truly want to be doing is writing. So, for now... I wish you all a pleasant morning and a cup of something to warm you. May you have a wonderful day and be blessed in your endeavors.

Writing the Road Less Traveled

Surprise yourself. If you outline, be loose as you lay out the story. If you just write without an outline, hack away in semi-darkness. If you know your destination, don’t take the freeway. Explore the back roads. Visit landmarks that are off the beaten track. Ask yourself as you write, Is there another way to get where I’m going?
The above quote came from Gail Carson Levine's blog where she posts about predictability. Some of you may know Ms. Levine for her young adult books such as Ella Enchanted. But she's been writing mysteries lately and she has a lot to offer in the way of help for writers.

I think the above quote really does sum up what we should be thinking when it come to writing books that satisfy our readers. She's relentless in questioning whether the point being offered is taking the easy way out for the writer and thereby cheating the reader. Frankly, she's got a point. I do think that writer's are a hard reader to satisfy. We tend to tear things apart and be much more critical than a non-writing reader. But shouldn't we be stretching, trying to make those books the best they can be? Shouldn't we be interested in creating that mystery that surprises and delights?

She talks about when you come to a plot point in the story to make a list of possibilities for the book. Then look at them all and take the one that is the most unlikely or hardest to get to... take the road less traveled. Offer your readers an opportunity to be surprised and inspired and delighted. Make the story worthwhile to both yourself and your readers. Keep them coming back. 

And while your at it, check out Gail's blog... it's worth the trip.

Work Messes with my Writing...


Since I have yet to hit either the lottery or the NYT list it is a given that I am reduced to continuing on with my day job. The title "day job" is a bit of a misnomer in this case since I work retail. For instance, I worked until 9:30pm last night... only to turn around and work at 9 this morning. But since, I'm not independently wealthy I must continue on and write while I can.

At the recent Maine RWA Christmas party (hosted by the fabulous Diane Amos) a few of us had a discussion about one of the chapter's motivation loops. It's called the Word Ho's. And no, you're not reading that wrong. This was a yahoo list that was developed over the last year so that it could help motivate and keep members accountable. They report in on their progress and are responsible for doing as little as 100 words a day. That could be a paragraph for some... a sentence for others :) But the idea is to keep it simple, keep them writing and keep them accountable for putting the words on the page.

The idea of giving our members a tool like this has been in the works for years. We've tried giving out tickets for accomplishments and postings of work for the day. There have been just as many ideas thrown out as we've tried. I think that the biggest part of it's success is that you are holding yourself accountable in front of other people. Kind of like dieting with a friend. We all succeed better when we know that someone is loooking.

So, for now, the Word Ho's appear to be staying.

Blog Envy

I've got it.

I normally peruse quite a few blogs when given the chance. Mostly I read author blogs, usually ones that involve mystery or romance authors. But every once in awhile I come across a blog that really "WOWS" me.

This week it was Desperately Seeking My Inner Mary Poppins.

This blog works on so many levels. First, the writing is good. Any authors out there looking for a little bit of that sense that someone else understand our insanity will get it by reading Mary Beth's posts. (more...)

Memories of home and holidays


A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I started a fan page on Facebook for my hometown, Cundy's Harbor, Maine. We did it because there were so many of us living abroad (that is... beyond the town line) that we wanted to make sure that there was a place for many of us to go and register our thoughts. As of the last count we had 87 fans. That doesn't sound like a lot, but when you figure that Cundy's Harbor is just a small part of a bigger town and the main road is only about 9 miles long... this is quite a few of us. More are coming I'm sure. Making that turn onto the harbor road is the same for me as going home. Even as I cross Gurnet Bridge I can feel it in my bones. That familiarity. That sense of place. That part of my soul. (...more)

Evolution

My blog is going to be undergoing a change over the next couple of weeks. For the last couple of months I've felt like I was in transition, unsure of which direction to go. Ironically, it was as I was pumping the water out of my basement yesterday that I had an epiphany of sorts. By using my blog as only a chance to share my writing tips I feel as if I've limited myself. I want to share my passion for Maine, as well. So stay tuned, changes are coming...

On Writing... faith


Having faith isn't about getting what you think you want immediately. It's about holding onto that faith until it's the right time for what you need to be received.


This is my quote... It's something that I try to live by. I'm not an overtly religous person, but I do consider myself to be spiritual. And for me spirituality and faith go hand in hand. So, what does this have to do with writing?


Without faith in anything your characters will have little true motivation to spur them forward. If you think about all the things that we throw at our characters, giving them all possible hurdles to overcome then it needs to be balanced by a faith that will carry them through the rough times. The same with people. We all experience rough patches in our lives, times when you wonder what it was that made someone paint a bullseye on you. But if you have faith then you can move forward. Faith in anything even miniscule will grow and thrive and give you rope that you need to pull yourself forward.


So, I'm still asking what my characters religous background is... but I'm tempering that by a belief system that is based on spirituality. I've known men in my life who go to church every Sunday out of obligation, but their spirituality comes from the time that they are on the water, that sense of being that comes from deep within them.


Just what is it that gives your characters faith? And how deep do you have to take them before it is challenged?

Do you really know?

It isn't until I started working on my first non-fiction book proposal that I truly realized how wide and varied are the markets. I was intimidated by the idea of analyzing the competition and listing them within the proposal. Surely, to compare my work to another would be a process in the egotistical, but frankly, what I found was it was an endeavor that promises to weed out any weakness within my own work and truly look at the place for my book within the market.
As writers we like to believe that our ideas are unique. But once you truly look at and analyze those other books then you begin to see where your own could be strengthened. Perhaps your topic is too broad, covering too much to be succinct. Perhaps your idea is limited and then you face the fact that you may not have enough to carry a book. And of course, there is that issue of saleability. Everyone would like to believe that their book will be instant success, but even selling isn't a guarantee of a readership. It takes so much more to make that a reality. How does your book compare to others within the market?

Goals and other things that I avoid... But shouldn't

I have one of those Google alert thingies set up to notify me when someone posts a blog involving "writing" and "mysteries". I find helpful to be able to see what others are saying in order to be able to get my creative juices flowing. This morning I opened my mail to find that there was a blog post from a YA author named Justine Larbalatier, called Writing Goals Redux. Apparently, at the beginning of the year she'd posted her goals to write and publish under several different genres, pov and formats. She was now, toward the end of the year, looking at how much she'd achieved. It's impressive. Actually, she's impressive. I'm pretty much convinced that she must not sleep. I can see where she would need to write all of this down so that she could keep track of it. And her books are selling. It's not as if she's writing these manuscripts and stuffing them in the back of her closet or under her bed. No, she's got a impressive list of accomplishments there.

So, this got wondering. Lately, I've been wandering all over the page trying to find direction for myself and my writing. I am unstructured and thus, unproductive. It's not that I don't believe in goals. I'm all for them as a way to hold yourself accountable and as a guidepost for where you want to go. But I realized that it had been more than a year since I'd written down an goals.

Here goes:
Genres:
  • Romance (straight -- or at least no real mystery)
  • Romantic Mystery
  • Romantic Paranormal
  • Mystery (cozy)
  • Paranormal Mystery
  • Non-fiction (paranormal book)
  • Non-fiction (writing book)
Justine further breaks her list down by POV. I'm pretty much across the board on this one, so I don't think I'll be making changes for this. But I did like her last part:

  • Stand Alone
  • Trilogy
  • Series
Now, the thing is to hold myself accountable for these and see how far it gets me. Anyone else want to chime in on goals? Do you make them? Do you hate them? And do stick to them?

On the trail of a new project... The Non Fiction Book Proposal

I've written bits and pieces of for the last year. But it isn't until the last month that I've really started looking at writing a proposal for my current project.

Now, I've written tons of query letters. I've the rejection files to prove it. But it wasn't until I garnered the idea for my non-fiction that I found something that truly makes me quake in my boots (short boots,very nice, black, simple). For those who quiver over the dreaded synopsis, and I have heard tons of writers lamenting them over the years, then take a look at just what goes into a nonfiction proposal.
1. Title Page (with it's own layout. Those who write manuscripts are generally familiar with it.)
2. Overview that 3-5 pages long and outlines such questions as ... Who is the proposed audience, Why will they buy it and What I will bring to this book?...
3. Author Credentials. About 1 page and listing vigorously why you are the author to write the book.
4. A Competitive Analysis of books currently available within the genre and specific to what your books is about. Some places suggest that you pick 6-8 books and do an analysis of what is good about them what they could do to make it stronger and how your book will be different.
5. Chapter Summary: It should break down the chapters and give a description of each chapter.
6. And the Marketing Plan! Now, I've made this huge because this is a large chunk of the proposal. With today's burgeoning markets (Wow! I don't even use that word in a romance!) there a more urgent need for authors to prove that they can sell this book with limited help (read money and marketing dollars) from their publisher. And the smaller the publisher the more work you are going to have to put into it. I'm not a stranger to this in any way. But I also know how much work is involved. If you want the book to succeed you must have a GOOD marketing plan and expect to spend many hours on it. If you can't afford the time then there are alternatives such as hiring someone to do this for you. But keep in mind that this is a draw on your hard earned profits for the book. Weigh your options and decide for yourself. A good marketing plan will include: What sets you apart from those other authors (personal experience, degrees in said topic, etc), plan of marketing: blog tours, signings, venues to speak, etc. And don't forget all that lovely online marketing through social networks. If you can pull yourself away from Mafia Wars and Farmville for any period of time (personal experience here) then you can use Facebook and Myspace and Twitter, as well as the other sites to market your book. There are also contest, giveaways, conferences, bookmarks... and I can go on and on and on. This is a large part of your proposal and you want to put a lot of thought and heart into this. Don't over extend yourself, but don't sell yourself short. For instance, I never thought in a million years that I'd be speaking at conferences, but I've done several now and finding it easier every time. The thing to remember about marketing a book is that some options will work, others won't... but if you don't do anything then you won't sell the book.
And lastly,
7. A sample chapter: Pick the chapter with the most impact and include it. But keep in mind, if that chapter with the biggest impact is scheduled as the third chapter in your book then maybe you need to look at this and move it around. The same impact that you are going for with the Agent, publisher, etc. is the impact you want with the reader.

There are tons of resources at bookstores on on the web for writing a non-fiction book proposal. I've spent as much time learning to write one as it takes to actually write the proposal. But once the learning curve is met than it will get easier. I'm even creating a template to future ease.

Blustery wind and an Irish Prayer

A raw and blustery wind is heading for the Maine coast. The remnants of a hurricane are ready to hit the shores. Some would say it's not a fitting day for much. But my Dad-in-Law would appreciate the iron of such wild weather today, of all days. Today we're burying him... my Dad-in-Law. Notice you won't hear me call him "Father"-in-Law because the man was much more of a Dad to me than the remote austere image taht such a formal name as "father" conjures. He was an imposing man with his stout Scotman's build, but he was graced with a soft voice that could grow and thunder and resonate until it was clear that all in the house could hear him. But he usually chose a much quieter form of communication. He was a gentle soul, who from my first meeting became a friend to me. I, along with my family, will miss him immeasurably.


Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep
I am not there... I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow...
I am the diamond glints on snow...
I am the sunlight on ripened grain...
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of gentle birds in circling flight...
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry -
I am not there... I did not die...

We'll Know When We Get There: Sincerely, John Hughes

If you haven't read this... please do so. There can be no better tribute to a man who had such an amazing effect on our lives...
We'll Know When We Get There: Sincerely, John Hughes
I was Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles... minus getting the cute guy with the car. I was the angst ridden, thoroughly strange (I intended it be more an individualistic aura), and completely awkward teenager. In the Breakfast Club I was more of Ally Sheedy's character, the loner looking at life from the outside and completely wishing that I could be "one of them" if only for a short while. I wanted to be daring and outrageous like Ferris Beuller and funny like Ducky. More than anything... I wanted someone who could look into my life and make it something more. I was a teenager living in the John Hughes era. And somehow, he made it okay.
I still want to drive a pink Opal. But now, looking back, I find that if Mr. Hughes hadn't offered me the passport to be just a little bit off center I'm not sure I would be the person that I am today. I dare to be different. I challenge my kids to be individuals in their own right and to stand up for what they want... and yes, sometimes when we go to Wal Mart the family still calls it Wally World. Just because.
So, I join the world in mourning a great man. And from this former angst-ridden, thoroughly strange, awkward teen... I thank you for your gift.

An observation from RWA National 2009

I confess... I signed up late for the Librarian/Bookseller Networking event. I didn't have time to send in my stuff because I was so late. I will also confess that I suck when it comes to networking. I get so nervous and self-conscious in those type of situations. But I will tell you about some observations I made at the event...

1. I saw a lot of authors, not a lot of Booksellers or Librarian with tags. Of course, I may have hit it at the wrong time or just not noticed all together.
2. There was a lot of grouping. I've already confessed that these things make me nervous, but to go into a situation like this where people are already grouped off. There should be someone at this who's function is to facilitate and make people feel welcome. Maybe introduce them around if they need it...
3. I saw one author who was standing by her books and display who was talking to a bookseller/librarian about her work. She played it right. She gave them something to focus on and ask questions about. She gave them a reference point to her work and put a face to the name. Kudos to her...

I would love to hear what the librarians and booksellers have to say about the experience. Was it success for you? Did you feel comfortable with the setting? Do you have any suggestion on how this could be improved or were you happy the way it was?

So, I while I appreciate the chance to network, perhaps there are opportunities for both authors and RWA.

The ticking clock...

Time constraints in fiction are not new. The idea tht the pace of the story is controlled by the need to accomplish the character's goals within the time frame given. This control of environment can be used to:

show the passage of time by using a known event... such as a holiday or tradition.
increase the pacing of the story. As the time on the clock decreases and the adrenahline factors kick in.

Use a ticking clock to your advantage.

Reflections on the RWA Conference

I'm back. After the long drive back to Maine I have had a good sleep in my own bed and coffee from my own coffee maker (Yeah!). I owe my husband greatly for holding down the fort and doing a fantastic job of keeping up with the kids while I was gone. I couldn't have made it without him.





I thought I would take this moment to go over a few things that I learned at National conference. I'll start with the Leadership seminar that I attended with Delsora Lowe on behalf of the Maine RWA chapter.
  • We are a professional organization, and as such, we need to remember that our actions represent more than Maine RWA. They reflect RWA. Whether are a part of the chapter because we chose to be a part of a larger organization, or we only seek to be with people who share our interest we need to remember that we are a "professional" organization.
  • Following proper protocal is important. Not only does it give us a proper operating proceedure, but it provides a frame work to both cover our butts and the opportunity to grow our chapter. I realized by talking to other representatives that Maine RWA is not alone in our struggles. And while our membership level keeps us within the smaller chapter range, that doesn't excuse us for acting anything other than professionals.

There is so much more and Delsora and I came back from the meeting charged and full of ideas. We'll be putting our ideas together when we get Delsora back from her current tour.


Workshops...
I attended some great workshops. I gave a workshop. For me the conference started more after I gave my workshop because I was so nervous. My thanks to all who were so supportive of me and made it such a positive situation. I have a few workshops that I'm hoping to download and listen to again. Maybe I'll be more coherant this time.

Literacy Signing...
It was incredible to be a part of something so huge. I loved watching the people, meeting the people and being a part of the whole thing. Thank you to Kate Walker for being so kind and lovely. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet in person. It was crazy and chaotic and wonderful. And I'm glad I was part of it...

I'll have more. I'm still digesting it all. I also came back ready and set to go back to work. I was actually able to write some during the conference and that was nice as well. Now, it is time to put all of the great ideas that I received to work.

Thank you to all who helped make RWA National Conference 2009 a great success and a wonderful experience.

Conference Giveaway Goodies!!!!! Enter Details...

Want to enter? Check out my Facebook Event Page @ http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=99953559009


Start Time: Saturday, July 4, 2009 at 8:00pm
End Time: Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 3:00pm
Email: TeaganOliver@yahoo.com

I'm signing at RWA National's Literacy Signing on July 15 @ the Marriot Wardman Hotel, Washington DC. The proceeds are for a great cause, but the signing can be long when you aren't an A-List author. Help me fight my boredom by dropping by to say hi to me and putting your business card in for a drawing of a nifty giveaway bag! I'll be putting an item a day into the bag and since I'm pretty eclectic in what I do... the bag will be eclectic also. There are 2 ways to enter... 1. New to my Face Page? Friend me within the next 6 days (ends July 11) and I'll put you in the drawing.2. Already a Face Friend? Drop me a message and I'll include you in the drawing (good through July 20th).3. Drop by the signing and save me from boredom by saying hi and dropping your business card (or something with your name on it) into my little drawing bag. I'll be drawing the name out of the bag on July 20th.Want to know more about my books... or my ghosthunting... or just life in Maine in general? Drop me a message, a comment, or check out my website @ http://www.TeaganOliver.com -- My writing blog is http://www.TeaganOliver.blogspot.com and my Paranormal blog is http://www.ParanormalMaine.blogspot.com

List of goodies in the bag:
Day 1: Three Truths of Katie Talmadge by me!
Day 2: A lovely pair of Amethyst chip earrings from Mystic Harbor Designs.
Day 3: Grow your own Lucky Clover kit in honor of my blog With a Little Luck...
Day 4: Nope, not a gravestone... You get a copy of Stephen King's On Writing.
Day 5: A bunch of writer goodies! All the little things we love!
Day 6: A charm bracelet from Mystic Harbor Designs like the one in Three Truths...
Day 7: $10 Borders Gift Card!

I'm leaving in the morning for DC, but you can still enter. There's plenty of time. And don't forget to stop by and say hi to me at the conference! Safe travel to those who are attending and I hope you have a wonderful week to those who can't make it.

RWA Prep...


Phew! So, far today I've been going around and around working on getting things done for my trip to RWA in DC starting Sunday.

So far today...
I spent 1 1/2 hours at WalMart getting the oil changed in my car.
Drove my daughter to Borders to get a book for her summer homework (not RWA related, but still running.)
Drove said daughter to work (and picked her up and drove her to driver's ed)Arghhh!
Packed my suitcase.
Bought my toiletries for the trip. Gotta have that allergy med.
Found my shoes in the bottom of the closet and in my daughter's room (big surprise).
Glued my shoe (again... thanks to daughter).
Put together the Maine RWA basket. I'd post a pic, but too wiped.
I know there's more, but frankly... I can't remember it.

I know when I pull out of the driveway on Sunday morning at 5am there will be things I've forgotten. But right now... I don't care...

Glastonbury 2009 - The Big Picture - Boston.com

This link originally came from a Twitter follow, London Interesting or @LDN (for those who want to check them out), which led me to their previous posts which led me to these pictures. They are incredible! They also make me very glad to have missed the event. Somehow, I'm not sure you can estimate just how many port-a-potties are needed for 190,000 people who all seem to be drinking heartily. You have to believe that the faery folk with traipsing about and having a good laugh and all without causing a bit of notice. Still, I'd like to Glastonbury... but minus the 190,000 people. 

Glastonbury 2009 - The Big Picture - Boston.com

Happy Father's Day...


This is my Dad. I've talked about my Mom a lot over the years, but I don't really think that I've given enough credit to all that my Dad has done for me. I could go on for days about all the little things that he has done to make sure that I had a good life. All the times that he went without to make sure that we had something that we wanted, or just something that he thought we would like. I could tell you about the encouragement and love that he offers up unconditionally and the fact that should I ever need him he would be there in a heartbeat. I could tell you all these things... well, maybe I already did, but there is so much more to my dad. He is a man who believes in what is just and right and that no person should go undefended. He believes that a good sense of humor can put a shine on any day and that there is nothing that can happen to you to that you can't get through. He's my biggest fan and probably the best promoting tool that I have! (him and my uncle are an awesome pair at this!) And he does all these things with a kind of quiet devotion, working behind the scenes always and taking little credit for what he's done. I am proud of him for all that he's accomplished in his life and the things that he has yet to do. I really won the lottery when I got him as a dad. Someone was smiling down on us. And for this... I will always be eternally grateful.

Bitten By Books

Haven't heard of them? Well, if you're a writer then I suggest you hop, skip and jump on over to the website @ http://www.bittenbybooks.com

Not writing paranormal? It doesn't matter because if you are an author there is plenty to learn about the art of promotion. I've never seen a more intensely focused promotional site then this one. Rachel is on facebook, twitter and every where else she can possibly be. She's out there
promoting all day (and most of the night sometimes) for authors with fantastic books.

I've gotten into several of the book releases and it's lead me to some great authors. Yasmin Galenorm, (who has some of the hottest covers out there. I'd say they're as good as the P.C. Cast covers at drawing people in), Sara Taney Humphreys and the list goes on and on. Even my friend Lina Gardiner is on the site. (Buy all of their books. They're fantastic). My only regret is that I didn't know about it when Three Truths came out. It would have been a much different experience.

Deep-sea explorers may lose vast treasure to Spain - Yahoo! News

 

Deep-sea explorers may lose vast treasure to Spain - Yahoo! News

It's no secret that I'm fascinated by treasures, pirates and the search for gold. I would say, after all this company has been through... This would really suck.

Just my opinion.

Industry Talk: Indie vs Chain

There's been a lot of talk on one of the mystery writers list about Indies and Chain Stores. I confess, this is something very close to my heart. As a writer and as someone who wants to see my local economy come back from the hardship of the last few months, I have a vested interest in seeing any bookstore succeed. Here in Brunswick we recently lost our local Indie bookstore. I have a ton of memories wrapped up in that store. My parents idea of a good Friday night was to go to dinner and then go to the bookstore to see what was new in stock. I bought my Nancy Drew books there, my comics, my first romances... and Gothics.. and mysteries... I could go on and on. This store was also the hub for our writer's group. The store had graciously hosted us in their meeting room for years (in return, we bought more than our share of the great food from the cafe). It was sad to see it go. There has been a lot of talk that the new Borders in town was responsible for it's downfall. But I don't think that the total blame of ANY store's demise can be blamed on a chain store.

Distribution:
In my earlier life, I worked for a map publisher and part of my job was to contact Indies about putting the maps (a well established series of map books) into their stores. These were what we considered an automatic buy for most stores. Especially, if their patrons had an interest in the outdoors. I would call and they would say yes or no, depending on the amount of books that they had left on the shelf. Trying to get books into chain stores was another matter. Most often, I would contact the head office, who would forward me to a buyer, who would say I'll get back to you. Sometimes this required multiple phone calls. Sometimes, they would tell me they couldn't be brought in unless we went through a distributor. (I hear a collective groan from a lot of writers out there on this one).

Stocking your book:
This is a hard one to compare. I would have to call it an even draw on this. It depends on the amount of floor space and the ability to get interest in the books. I was selling over sized books that either took up shelf space or required a rack or dump (those lovely cardboard displays that aggravate everyone as they try to maneuver around them in stores.) If it was a shelf sell then it was usually 6 books. If it was a rack it was full product, including more than the map books and meant that they had a vested interest in the product. Pretty much same with dumps, but limited to a few... maybe only one book. We did a lot of these when we had a new state map come out. For an author, shelf space is a priority. Authors have to worry about cost, placement (next to Nora or Clancy?) and availability. Again, this is a draw. Indies work on sometimes non-existent budgets and need to be convinced to bring in your books. Chains sometimes require a pint of blood and your first born child to get it approved and on the shelf. Either way, your promotion, good reviews and backing from the publisher go a long way in helping to get it on the shelf. So, it's a draw for me as to whether your books will get better shelf space and placement in an Indie vs a Chain.

Promotion: Also, Good Customer Service...
Now, my local Indie was very good to the group as a whole. We were not only strong buyers, but they had a first crack at knowing what was coming out But they also were very overworked and unable do the kind of hand sell that authors want. I'm sure it's not this way with all, but this was my experience. Shortly before Obsidian came out I went on a mini road trip around Maine and New Hampshire, making the loop from the coast of Maine up and around Lake Winnepesaukee, NH and up through the mountains and back to Maine. I think I hit something like thirty bookstores in one day. Some were okay. Most couldn't care less if I walked through the door. I was extremely polite (a hot button, ask my kids) and I just introduced myself and offered information and bookmarks. I would say that the overall results were dismal. Sometimes, they were downright rude. But I pushed on. I have found that I actually had better results when I did just a postcard mailing when Obsidian was re released as a large print. The cost of the stamps was less then the gas and aggravation of being rejected so much. Of course, the chains have a system for authors down pat. When I introduced myself to the local Borders I was congratulated on the sale, given paperwork to fill out and asked to contact them when the time got closer. They set up a signing for me on St. Patrick's Day and when that was snowed out and the store had to close they offered to reschedule me on what they called an Educator's Night. They give discounts to educators and offer them goodies and incentives. They called me to offer me this. I was extremely grateful. Even now, when I go in the store they recognize me and ask if I have anything coming out soon. I work retail, so I'm always impressed by good customer service. I'll keep going back just because of this.

Now, there are those who would be upset about the Indie vs Chain debate. I personally feel that there is a place for both within the community. Each have strengths and weaknesses, but there isn't a business out there that doesn't have the same. Me? I'm going to go where they have my books, the books I want, and friendly and helpful service.

Gail Carson Levine: Mystery mystery

I've been in the processes of undertaking a new project... a mystery. And in my process I've sought out the words of others writing mystery. Today I came across Gail Carson Levine's post on her blog about her own trials with mysteries. I was immediately drawn to her post. My daughter was an avid fan of Ms. Levine's books and I was grateful for the wonderful worlds that she uses to enchant her readers. Not only is she an eloquent writer of spellbinding enchantments, but she is a struggling writer taking on new project... struggling the same as myself. That makes my struggles just a little more approachable.

So, if you are a fan of Ella or if you are a struggling writer (like me), then check out her post for a little inspiration and commiseration. It's worth the look...

Gail Carson Levine: Mystery mystery

I just realized that Nationals are less than 2 months away. Somewhere in all of the chaos that has been this spring I didn't realize that it was creeping up on me so fast. This, is a big year for me. I've been to several National Conferences over the year, but I've never been a presenter. It's a real honor. I can only hope that I do it justice. Going to be in Washington DC during July 15-18th? We will be, too! The Pop Tart and Dollar Menu Tour is still in the planning stages. Delsora Lowe and I will be joined by a new... errr?! ... author on this trip. I'll let you know who it is when we get closer, but suffice it to say... she's in for a good time!

Thinking lobsters and clams this weekend...


Well, here's my plug for the local economy. Brown eggs may be local eggs, but you won't get anymore local or fresh then buying your lobster and clams from the local dealers. Fresh from the boat with no little side trips in between. In the Harpswell area? Check out Hawkes Lobster in Cundy's Harbor. While you're there you can peruse the gift items. Sue has a great selection. And Hawkes Lobster ships year round. So, can't make it to Maine? Check out their website and give them a call. You can check out their website at www.hawkeslobster.com to get an idea of what they are offering.


Free Virtual Writing Conference

This came across the MMA list and I thought I'd pass it along. The list of presenters is impressive and cover the spectrum of the publishing genre. I'll be working on the Maine RWA Writer's Retreat this weekend... but I'll be taking my laptop with me because I don't want to miss this!


There's going to be a Virtual Writers Conference online May 18-22 at... wait for it... http://virtualwritersconference.blogspot.com/. Writers, editors and agents will post columns and respond to comments. It'll be fun, and I'm sure there'll be discussions of promotion.

The other day I was going through the papers that we compiled after her death over 5 years ago. In it there was this photo. It was taken in at her desk in my cousin Rob's Real Estate office. She was kind of a woman-about-office, helping out where and when she could. She loved it, much more than she loved the years she spent working Civil Service. She was always laughing and having fun and she loved being there. I think it shows in the picture. The other day one of the other realtors spoke to me about mom. She said "She was always smiling. Always laughing." I don't think that's a bad way to be remembered. I love you Mum.

Queen of Time Sucks

Yup, that's right. I've given myself a new title... or in this case... crown. I have always said that the worst thing a woman can learn is how to be a multitasker. I have yet to see men who have as much of a problem with it as women. And I suspect that a great deal of the trouble has to do with guilt. Women always feel guilty that they haven't gotten more done. They worry that if they spend time on other things that the laundry will go undone and the dishes will stay in the sink. It becomes a badge of disgrace in a way. But only because most women judge themselves by how they think others will see them. (Please note: I am making VAST generalizations in the name of making a point). On any given day I have things that could easily occupy every second. I could find things to fill every moment. But at some point it becomes a detriment to my sanity. If I don't go on Facebook and keep up with my fellow reunion people and I stay away from Twittering about how much coffee I've had I could have that time to sit down and just breathe. I will learn to say "no" and not consider it a failure. I will learn that not everything is my responsibility to complete. And I will accept that I can't be everything to everyone... especially myself.

It's Official...



I'll be speaking at Romance Writers of America's National Conference this July 15-18, 2009 in Washington, D.C.


Actually, I'll be speaking on Friday morning... here's the line up for those who are able to brave the early morning workshops on Friday. I promise not be overly chipper and annoying :)


Now, I don't need to tell you that there are some absolutely fabulous speakers lined up for the same slot as myself. While it's a great honor to be asked to speak at Nationals, it's a bummer that I'm going to go broke to get the recordings for all the great workshops I'm going to miss! So, if you don't show up... I'll know where you all are... save me some notes so that I don't miss all the good stuff.


8:30 - 9:30 A.M.


20 Questions to a Killer PR Plan (CAREER)

Speaker: Louise Ahearn

What are the 20 most important questions to ask yourself to create a killer promotional plan for your work? An award-winning public relations coach will talk you through them.


21 Years and Counting (PUBLISHING)

Speaker: Jo Beverley

Jo Beverley sold her first novel in 1988, and the years since have been up, down, and sideways. Join this RWA Hall of Fame author as she shares what she's learned along the roller coaster way.


Creating the Believable Anti-Hero: a Stepped Approach to Creating Believable Villains (CRAFT)Speaker: Bethany Oliver

Use the same principals as the Hero's Journey and learn how to ramp up your antagonist's motivations beyond surface conflict to create a truly worthy opponent.


Mastering Your Domain: Research and Development of the Paranormal World (RESEARCH)Speakers: Alyssa Day, Stephanie Julian, and Melissa Mayhue

Three paranormal writers and admitted research geeks will show you where to look and what to look for when blending folklore and mythology with modern genre fiction for extraordinary world-building.


Secrets of the Best-selling Sisterhood (PUBLISHING)Speakers: Jayne Ann Krentz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips

What's it like to be a New York Times best-selling author? Join Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jayne Ann Krentz for the answers in this reprisal of their ever-popular workshop.


Straight Talk, Librarians to Writers (CAREER)

Speakers: Deborah Schneider, John Charles and Susan Gibberman

Straight talk about libraries and your books, from those who know best – librarians. Find out how to get your books on the shelves, work with libraries to promote your book and give successful programs for readers. (2 hours.)


What Came Before: the Art of Backstory (CRAFT)

Speaker: Winnie Griggs

Award-winning author Winnie Griggs shows how to effectively select what pieces of backstory to include on stage, when to reveal them, and how to thread them through your story in a subtle, yet effective, manner.


Writing the Hot Historical (CRAFT)

Speaker: Lucienne Diver, Janet Mullany, and Pam Rosenthal

This workshop is a guide for the perplexed, shy, or curious on writing erotic historicals that will sell.Spotlight on Harlequin Single Titles

Florida teen finds rocks in Nintendo DS box - plugged in - Yahoo! Games

 

Florida teen finds rocks in Nintendo DS box - plugged in - Yahoo! Games

Why am I posting this? Because I can sympathize with the poor kid. But in my case it was a coffee maker and it was substituted with old sneakers and a towel. And yes, they do look at you funny when you bring it back and tell them that it bought that way.

Picture of the day: For Dad

I spent some time yesterday in Rockland, Maine. Very nice little place. Lots of museums and a wonderful Coffee/Bookshop called Rock City Coffee Roasters. The wind was howling and the rain slashing down, but I had an enjoyable time with my laptop in their coffee area. After that I rode around the waterfront area. It's one of the largest working waterfronts still left virtually intact in Maine. I love it. It's also home to the Lobster Festival every summer. I think, if I had to live somewhere else in Maine... it'd be Rockland.


Anyway, this picture is for my Dad... who, when times get rough and he feels the need to go to camp would usually say that he was headed for "parts unknown". So, here you go, Dad. Here's your boat to take you there....

Totally off Topic: The Holiday


Never mind that I was mostly asleep when I saw this movie, my apprehension had nothing to do with my lack of sleep or the fact that I was waiting for my daughter to arrive back from her trip to New York and the midnight hour was fast approaching... My apprehension had to do more with the confluence of info I'd seen about the movie when it first came onto the screen. I had dismissed it as jus another chic flick. Another attempt to make a feel good movie that had little to do with lasting impression and more to do with showcasing some of the most noteable faces of the time.

I was wrong. I was going on preconceived notions.

Let me say, I loved the movie. I laughed more than I had in a very long time. It wasn't a breathtaking movie that stirred me to tears. More a quiet upheaval of ideas that twisted me into a deep contemplation of the movie. You see... I never just sit and watch anything. I'm always doing something else. Whether it's writing. Knitting. Making jewelry. I'm never just watching the TV. But I watched it last night. I was interested to see how they were going to take six well-known actors and mix them up and come out with a happy ending. And then, there's Jack Black. I'm a HUGE Jack Black fan. But I'd never thought of him as a romantic lead. He proved my preconceived ideas wrong. Very wrong. He was strong, and funny and real. A real hero in my book. As for Cameron Diaz, I've seen her do quite a few roles that left her loking like an emotional ditz. This one started out that way, but she was so much more. There was real growth in her character and Ms. Diaz showed it wonderfully! The same for Jude Law. I considered his character to be a reflection of as I saw him. When he introduced his two wonderful daughters and their magical tent... I melted. And lastly, Kate Winslet. The last time I watched a movie with her in it was Titanic. I loved her character. I loved her heart, her growth and the way she takes Arthur into her life. This was so much more than you see in other movies.
So, my preconceived notions disappeared like a pumpkin coach at midnight. And I'm looking for a DVD of the movie so I can watch it as much as I want. All is good.

The Offshore Islands by Ruth Moore

The offshore islands belong to themselves
They stand in their own sea.
They do not inherit; they leave no heirs.
They are no man’s legacy.

Blazing volcanos, cooled and dead,
Marked nowhere a boundary line.
The rise and fall of oceans left
Not one no trespassing sign.

The money was never minted,
The clutch of its greed so strong
It could honor a deed: TO HAVE AND TO HOLD,
And keep these wild lands long.
The first cummer people were Indians.
For some five thousand years
They built up shore-line shell heaps before
They lost to the pioneers.

The white man took what he wanted.
He had privilege, laws, and guns.
He made fast his own boundary lines
And his property went to his sons.

From the west they sailed in Chebacco boats,
And the high-sterned pinkys, Essex-made.
In harbors where water was deep enough,
Their schooners carried a coast-wise trade.

The homesteads they made were study,
But those who built near the shores
Had to dig, if they didn’t want Indian shells
All over their cellar floors.

Then time slipped by, as inheritance does.
They felt the mainland’s pull.
They abandoned their homes to rot away,
And their cemetaries full.
Theirs was the time of history
And written records show
That their hold on the offshore islands began
Less than four hundred years ago.

Now comes the era of real estate,
Of the hundred thousand dollar lots,
Of the condominiums, side by side,
Along the shoreline choicest spots.
What follows the time of developers
No human voice can tell.
But the silent offshore islands know,
And they handle their mysteries well.

They speak with a voice that is all their own,
And this is what they say:
That they talk in terms of a billion years
That their now is not today.
And the ghosts they brought along with them
Have never gone away.

High Clouds Soaring, Storms Driving Low


I went home the other day. It's really not that far for me. An extended trip from the everyday. By home, I mean less the actual building where I grew up, but the area that I love so much. We, and I still to this day consider myself part of it, are those that live on an island, connected to the mainland by a thin bridge that skips over vast, troubled, rushing waters. If you want a euphemism for life then this one is very apt in description. You see... when I cross that thin bridge... I take a deep breathe, my heart rate slows, and a wealth of long dormant emotions filter through every cell of my body. It's a quiet hum that reverberates long after I've trudged back across the bridge. Sometimes, for days the feelings continue, making me feel like a boat tethered with a finite rope to the shore.

The title from this blog is the title from the compilation of letters of Ruth Moore, put together and edited by Sanford Phippen. I claim a distant relationship to her, since originally we hail off the same small Gott's Island, Maine. Her's was a direct line. Mine took generations and miles to get to me.

At her height, she was a New York Times Bestselling author, whose book Spoonhandle (published in 1946 by William Morrow & Co) was made into a movie. She was a steady writer, and prolific. She would take as long as it took to write a book. A contrast to today's "need it now" urge to feed the populace. And she wrote about the places and people she loved. She understood them to the point that they became so real it was as if we were gossiping about a relative. And the places so loved that we felt as if we were coming home.

I've spent some time on my current book, looking for just the feeling that I want to put into it. I didn't have that emotion that would make the reader understand the choices of the characters. I think I do now. Perhaps, it's in that finite rope tethering to shore that will hold them, the readers, til the end.

I can't believe I missed it...

My DD pointed out that I missed a prime opportunity yesterday with KISA terminal illness blog. She said it should have been called... Knight-in-Shining-Armour-Syndrome. Or... KISAS... think about it people... got it?

Me, too!

My Heroes Have a Terminal Illness...

I found out quite by accident. I had set up a Google Alert for my book The Three Truths of Katie Talmadge. When it came through my email there was a quip from the posting that included the title. It said... “Don’t make me into some sort of knight-in-shining-armor, Katie. Believe me, I’m not any closer to ..."
I froze. Naturally, I knew it was from my own book. But what surprised me was that something very similar had been in the book I just finished. My first thought was that I had plagiarized myself. I went back to the recently finished book and did a search & find on "knight". Sure enough, there were three references to it. The wording wasn't exactly the same as in Three Truths. Most of the references in the latest book were internalized thought designed to torture my hero. But I soon came to the realization that I had saddled all my heroes with the same terminal illness... KISA. Every single hero that I'd had over the years had been fighting to be anything but a knight-in-shining-armour, and every single one of them had been failing in their resolve to cure their KISA ailment. I didn't set out to be a repeater. I didn't set out give my heroes a terminal illness, but as I look back at all the books that I've loved over the years... the ones that were shelf keepers, I realized that all of them were KISA terminalists. Even the partials that I have going right now are the same. (But I think I'll leave the KISA words out next time.) In the meantime, who are your favorite KISA terminalists?

ghostly family secrets

I'm watching Nora's Midnight Bayou. There's some fascinating footage of post Katrina Louisianna there. And I confess... I love the ghost story. I am actually watching it and wondering if it were my house... would I be able to live there? Ive been in houses that unsettled me and I've had some experiences where it felt like I wasn't wanted where I was. But to have them actively trying chase him away is interesting. I love the fact that the ghosts story has it's own arc. It's as much an important part of the story as the characters. This is some of th stuff that Nora does well. Fractured families, lots and lots of secrets and a paranormal twist. Anyone else watching and enjoying?

Gothics Anyone?

One of the first series that I read after leaving the teen section of the local bookstore was to go to the Gothic Romances. This was probably mid to late 70s and Gothics were very big then. The ones I read all had young women who were hired on to do a job for a man they'd never met. They arrive at a mysterious destination and suddenly, they find that they are in danger. Though they find themselves attractive to their demon-like employer, they can't help but wonder who is behind all the mysterious threats. These books usually had a cover of a girl running from a castle on a dark night with one light in a window of the castle. The romances were chaste (but then, so was I) and they were the type of book to be read by flashlight under the covers. I devoured these. I went through the entire Phenwick women series (all except for maybe 2) that were written by Kathryn Kimbrough (an alias for James Kimbrough). But when I look back at it, there were other books that I read before that fed into this love of Gothic. One of my favorite YA's was Witch of Blackbird Pond. I still have my ragged copy. When I think back to that time I believe that the public's love of the combination of simplistic and honest romance with Gothic themes changed greatly with the publication of Carrie by Stephen King. I'm not saying that he was responsible for the demise of it... it's never truly gone away. But with Carrie there become a harder, more realistic edge to all Gothic, paranormal (etc) fiction and that filtered down through all genres. I know he scared the daylights out of me as I read Salem's Lot while babysitting in a remote farmhouse.

But is Gothic dead? Did it ever die out completely? I don't think so. Those elements are the same that are evident in even Mr. King's books. He's just brought a piercingly sharp focus to the fears that those early Gothics tickled at...

I still haunt used bookstores looking for those used 70s Gothics. I probably always will. In the meantime, I'm infusing my own books with that brand of Gothic suspense.

Totally off Topic: Natasha Richardson

My condolences go out to the family of Ms. Richardson. A seemingly ordinary and everyday occurrence turned tragic with the accident that ultimately resulted in her death. And it started on the bunny slope. I'm not saying this to be funny. I started skiing at 6. I've had more than my fair share of accidents when it comes to skiing. The last one was enough to scare me off the slopes for quite a few years. I skied actively through my teens and was a bit of a rebel. We did all kinds of stupid and unimaginably dangerous moves with two boards strapped to our feet. And no helmet. They didn't wear helmets back then. The only safety gear we had were the straps that went around our ankles to make sure that our skis didn't take off when we fell down. They did eventually upgrade that to the tiny break system so that people didn't have skis swinging wildly around on straps and hitting people in the head. I've fallen on the bunny slope many times, as well as off T-bars, the ends of chairlifts and even gone off the slope a time or two... (once ending up against a tree without injury!) Would I let my kids ski today without helmets? Probably not. They've got too much of my daredevilness in them to think they wouldn't try the stuff I did. I can only hope that out of the tragedy of Ms. Richardson death that there becomes awareness of just how quickly things can change.

Cannabalism

For years, I've heard my fellow writers talk about the value of keeping various drafts of a manuscript. While not convinced, I must have somehow absorbed this idea into my psyche. And this time it paid off greatly. I'm in the final stages of adding pages to my last WIP and needed to write a scene that seemed... well... very familiar. After some thought I realized that I'd already written that scene when I first start writing the book. Only then, it was a prologue. After much searching of old disks I found a copy of it. It didn't fit perfectly, but it did work well after I revised it. Yeah! to me! So, see... Cannabalism is not always a bad thing.

Win an 8GB IPod Touch and Read and a Great Read Too!

Hello there! My name is Bree, and I’m one half of the romance-writing, virtual-crime-fighting duo known as Moira Rogers. I’m here today because Bitten by Books was kind enough to agree to help us celebrate something really exciting that only comes once in an author’s lifetime: the release of the first book we ever wrote.
Awesome, right? We sure think so! Of course, the part that takes a little bit of explaining is the part where Crux is, in fact, our sixteenth ebook to be released. A lot has happened to us since fall of 2007, when we first sat down to try and tell the story of Mackenzie and Jackson, the heroine and hero who have to fight an evil supernatural conspiracy spanning generations to win their chance at a happy ending. We scampered off to hone our craft on short stories and novellas and learned from our experience. But we always came back to this story, because in the end we loved our tough determined heroine and her smooth talkin’ detective hero too much to leave alone.

Today, in honor of Crux’s release, we’ve teamed up with Bitten by Books for a chance to make someone else just as excited as we are. We have in our possession a NEW Apple iPod touch 8 GB (1st Generation) (Retail Value $229.00), perfect for listening to music AND reading books through the awesome application Stanza. The Apple iPod touch 8 GB also holds 1,750 songs or 10 hours of video. Go here to read all about it. We’re also going to give $50.00 and $25.00 Visa Gift Cards to two lucky runners up! All you need to do is read the rules below and enter this awesome contest. And if you happen to pick up a copy of Crux, we hope you’ll love Jackson and Mackenzie as much as we do!
Book Excerpt: “Jackson Holt makes a decent living as a private investigator in New Orleans, home of one of the largest underground supernatural populations in the United States. He and his partners have never met a case they couldn’t crack…until a local bar owner asks him to do a little digging on her newest hire.
New Orleans is the fourth destination in as many months for Mackenzie Brooks, a woman on the run from a deranged stalker. After all, any man who shows up on her doorstep claiming to be her destined lover has more than a few screws loose. But crazy doesn’t explain why he always finds her no matter how far she runs.
When her well-meaning boss puts a PI on her case, Mackenzie comes face to face with the incredible truth: magic is real, and whatever spell has kept her hidden and separate from the paranormal world is rapidly deteriorating.
With time running out, she has no choice but to trust Jackson as he struggles to uncover the truth of her past-and her destiny.”
****************************************************
Readers, here’s how to enter the Crux New Release Contest. You can do ONE or ALL of these things, and each one will give you additional entries at a chance to WIN one of THREE fabulous prizes.
The Prizes:Apple iPod touch 8 GB (1st Generation) (click the link to see the exact item)
$50.00 Visa Gift Card
$25.00 Visa Gift Card
Please note, the prize stated IS the prize you will receive, there will be absolutely no substitutions or changes the prize is non-transferable. If you don’t want the prize being offered, please don’t enter the contest. If you ever win an electronic copy of a book, please note that it is ILLEGAL to forward, give away or copy it in anyway once you receive it. Doing so violates copyright. If we find out that it has been done, you will no longer be eligible to win any of our contests.
1. The easiest way to enter is by purchasing copies of Crux. Yep, it is true, if you purchase a copy of Moira’s new release here: http://mybookstoreandmore.com/shop/product.da/crux. You will get FORTY entries to the contest for each copy you purchase. It is not mandatory to purchase a copy, there are plenty of other ways to enter and win. Just email me a copy of your purchase receipt to racoo.smith @ gmail.com (no spaces). Sorry no faxes or snail mail copies.
2. Spread the word!! Post this event in it’s entirety including the image at the top of the page for the contest announcement on your blog or website. Right click to save the image to your computer. Come back and leave the links to where you posted it. Good for 20 entries PER place you post it.
3. Attend one or all of the events hosted at Bitten by Books in the upcoming weeks, comment and participate at those events for extra entries into this contest. Here is a link to the event schedule: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=4698. Start with Diane Whiteside’s interview from today here: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=4787. Just come back and tell us which ones you participated it and leave the link for the event.Good for 10 entries per event you attend.
4. Read the Bitten by Books reviews of Moira’s books here: http://bittenbybooks.com/?page_id=58&book_author_id=Moira%20Rogers
Then leave a meaningful comment IN THE REVIEW post that shows you read the review, not just a post that says “sounds good” or “nice review”, a couple of sentences would be great! Simply share your thoughts, ideas or opinions and show the author some love. Good for 5 entries per review.
5. Post all of the links to Moira’s reviews on Bitten by Books along with your thoughts on each one on YOUR blog/website. You MUST come back here and post the links to where you posted the links at. Good for 10 entries per place you post them.
6. SUBSCRIBE to the Bitten by Books newsletter here on the right hand side of the site. This is for new subscribers only. Be sure you VERIFY your subscription, an email is sent with the verification link. Unverified subscribers will not be entered and will be deleted from the mailing list. Good for 10 entries.
7. Post the link to the contest here today (http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=4815) at another blog, website, Myspace, Ning Group, Facebook, Yahoo Group (any group where it is appropriate) and you will be given TEN additional entries for a chance to win for every link you post. BUT you MUST come back here to this interview and post those links in one response here in this thread. The more places you post the event, the more entries you get, so spread the word! NOTE: if you post multiple links here, your post will not show up right away. If you don’t see it, don’t keep posting it, we WILL approve your entry later on in the day. Good for 10 entries per place you post the link to this event.
8. Purchase copies of Moira’s awesome books USING THE LINKS BELOW today through Friday 3/20/09 and send us a copy of the receipt VIA email (sorry no faxes or snail mail) for your purchase to: racoo.smith @ gmail.com (no spaces) for TWENTY additional entries. You get TWENTY entries for each one you purchase. Not valid on past purchases. Please use these links below to buy her most recent books.
Crux
RED ROCK PASS BOOKSCry Sanctuary (Red Rock Pass #1): http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/shop/product.da/cry-sanctuary
LAST CALL BOOKSKamikaze (Last Call: New York #1): http://www.changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=966Hurricane (Last Call: New York #2): http://www.changlingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=983A Last Call Christmas Party (Last Call: New York #2.5): http://www.changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=1045Tequila Sunrise (Last Call: New York #3): http://www.changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=1010Virgin Daiquiri (Last Call: New York #4): http://www.changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=1051Tequila Sunset (After Hours #1): http://changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=1114
MYSTIC VALLEY BOOKSMoonshine (Mystic Valley Shorts #1): http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/books/moonshine.htmSome Like it Haunted (Mystic Valley Shorts #2): http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/books/haunted.htmThe 13th Step (Mystic Valley Shorts #3): http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/books/13thstep.htmLast Hope (Carnal Powers #1): http://loose-id.net/detail.aspx?ID=866
DOWN AND DIRTY BOOKSWild Card (Down & Dirty #1): http://www.changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=1013Calling the Bluff (Down & Dirty #2): http://www.changlingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=1062
STAND ALONEUnder the Magnolia: http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/books/magnolia.htmSexual Healing: http://www.nobleromance.com/ItemDisplay.aspx?i=24
Or buy ANYTHING from Amazon today through Friday 3/20/09 by using the Amazon search box to your right hand side on our site. We will know if you used the box to search and buy, so please be sure to use it or your entries won’t count. Send me a copy of the receipt VIA email (sorry no faxes or snail mail) for your purchase to: racoo.smith @ gmail.com (no spaces). Good for 20 entries per item purchased.
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5. Bitten by Books is in NO way responsible for the prizes being offered in any of the contests. If for some reason a contributor does not honor their prize, there is nothing we can or will do about it. We are not worried that this will happen, but we want to be very clear that WE are not offering these prizes, the contributor is and it is their responsibility to fulfill their prize obligations.
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Motivation: Hope


If you've been writing for some time then you've run across the term motivation. You can find any number of workshops available to writers looking for the magic pill that is going to make their books sell. The one thing that makes your story stand out from the rest. The thing that makes someone stay up all night finishing your book. It isn't just about good writing, though it does take some ability to put the scenes in your brain onto the page. But the best characters are the ones that seem ordinary and exceptional all at the same time. I just picked up Janet Chapman's latest book. Her stories are always an automatic buy for me... not just because her setting is usually Maine and her characters are rough and ready men and women with beauty and brains. But she imbibes her characters with something else. She gives them "HOPE". Hope is a magic word that transforms even the simplest desire into a motivation for a story. Without hope in your characters there isn't much sense in doing anything. In one of the Harry Potter movies (forgive me if I can't remember which one) Harry finds the mirror of Erised. When he gazes into the mirror he finds his utmost desire. The thing that he wants most of all. In the beginning he is drawn again and again to the mirror so that he can glimpse his parents, but when Dumbledore finds him he tells him that... "The happiest man alive would look into the mirror and find only himself." He adds that the mirror "shows us nothing more and nothing less than our deepest desires... But it gives us neither knowledge or truth." Without hope our characters would waste away in front of a mirror of our desires... just as Dumbledore said. Hope implies that there is to be an action. If you hope to win a million dollars, that hope is nothing if you don't buy a lottery ticket. If you hope to write a bestseller, it does no good if you don't sit your butt in the chair and write the book. If you character wants to find his hearts desire then he must risk losing his heart in order to gain that love. That knowledge. That truth. So, what is it that your character hopes for? And what are they willing to risk to get it?

FOR A GREAT CAUSE!

March 4th, 2009 @ 9am is the start of this years Cancer Community Center Online Auction.

Never heard of it? Well, you should check it out. They've got something to interest everyone in the auction. There's great jewelry, books and even dining certificates from places like Jameson's Tavern and Brian Boru! There's books and travel and entertainment, as well! But the best part is that that proceeds go to the Cancer Community Center to aid them in their efforts to support those diagnosed with cancer and their families. And that is priceless...
check out their website at http://www.cancercommunitycenter.org/default.htm and bid to help someone who hurts.

Reaction time...



I had an Aha Moment!

They don't happen all the time, but when they do I look at them as a gift from the Gods. Because usually, if I'm alert enough to pick up on the intention, then there is something very crucial in what it has to offer.

I was rewatching Anthony Bourdain's show, the episode where he and his film crew get caught in Beirut, Lebanon during a time of crisis. If you haven't seen this episode then I suggest you find it and watch it. It's worth it. For anyone is of the same approximate age as myself (and you will have to guess what it is) then you remember the bombing in Beirut and the hostage crisis. If you don't remember it, or you need a refresher... check out the Jimmy Carter Library online.

Tony and his crew were faced with some brutally realistic circumstances as they overlooked the unfolding drama from a hotel patio, high above. They had gone there to film an episode on food and instead, found themselves embroiled in an International incident. As the days wear on and their hopes begin to dwindle, they compare themselves to those living in the middle of the chaos. Tony mentions that for those living in the streets they begin to become resigned, almost numb to what was so close. There is a startling reality in that.

They got some rather ominous words of advice:
Don't do things regularly -- it only makes it easy for you become a target.
At only takes 3 days to plan a kidnapping.
Quick Clot can save you if you get shot in a femoral artery.

There is a scene where Tony is given access to the kitchen to cook a meal.
And it is out of this... that I realized was missing from my story... was that in times of continued chaos and threat, we revert to our most basic functions to give us some sort of normalcy. When everything around us can't be controlled, we revert to controlling that one simple thing that we can.

As suspense writers we are taught to keep the level of tension high. But it's those moments, those scenes that are most humanizing. We are how we react to those situations. We are taught to have characteristics that will endear to our readers. But there is something more... we need to have our readers identify... to see themselves reflected in our story.

Place cards to hang your story on...


We were watching Sweet Home Alabama for about the 10th time when I realized how much place cards play a role in the movie.

Let me explain my definition of a place card. It's an item that runs through the story, usually something funny or odd, that will serve to create a valid point in the motivation and definition of the characters by the end of the story. In Sweet Home Alabama, one of the most significant of the place cards is the cat that shows up throughout the movie. At first we are just amused by it, but then when analyzing it's role we realize that it shows a significant aspect of Melanie's character.

There is a point when the hero tells Melanie's new fiance about the girl he knew as a child who was so worried about a dying cat that she decided to put it out of it's misery by attaching a stick of dynamite to the cats tail. (Please, don't email me and tell me it's wrong or cruel. I'm with you.) But the cat gets away, runs into the bank and the explosion happens in the bank. He also mentions that to this day... the cat is still seen running around town. While the new fiance is horrified by the story, the old husband sees it as her attempt to take care of those things around her. He sees it as a strength of her character and the quirks that made him fall in love with the young Melanie. It shows that no matter how hard she tries to make things right, she usually screws it up somehow. But she always has heart behind it.

There is also the moment in the movie when she goes into the bank and the nervous bank guard spots her. She apologizes for what happened in the past, but he still leaves on break... just in case. By the end of the movie when the cat mysteriously shows up at their wedding reception, we begin to see that by his showing up it means that all is well. They'll get their happy ever after... even if it is wild and sometimes painful.

So, by being spoon fed these place cards, these seemingly insignificant moments that add up to something more... we are given a glimpse of something that we can hang our hearts, story, books, movie... on.

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Writing from the Dark Side

Heh! I started out calling this blog post "Blogging from the Darkside" and then went to "Writing from the Darkside" ...