Friday, April 30, 2010

Five for Friday

Geez...Friday is over in an hour already and I haven't posted Five for Friday. So, here we go.

Five websites (mostly for writers, but non-writers may enjoy, too):

  1. - Don't just get meanings for names, but get names for meanings.
  2. - Same as above, but for surnames
  3. - Great community!
  4. - Supernatural, paranormal, urban fantasy, dark name it.
  5. - Get the real scoop.
Tomorrow brings a bonus post: BLOGFEST!!! Woohoo! I love blogfests. They're a lot of fun and there's much to learn and gain from them. So come back and check out the Last Lines Blogfest, hosted by Lilah Pierce at The Good Grief Writer. Go here to see everyone else's great Last Lines.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guy-Candy and the Moment of Truth

I just returned from a short jaunt to Orlando. My day-job business requires me to go up there for a night every two months, but this time I spent two nights and mixed in a little pleasure. The Man came with me and we saw 30 Seconds to Mars at the House of Blues (I know, you’re jealous bwahahaha). I luuuuurve 30 Seconds to Mars – their music. I never really paid attention to the actual band and its members. I was very impressed. One of the best shows I’ve ever been to!
Jared Leto

What I didn’t realize is lead-singer Jared Leto is an actor. I was so impressed with his showmanship, I did a quick Google check today and without the pink Mohawk and make-up, his pretty-boy face was slightly familiar. I like him better as lead-singer. He rocked the show last night! The House of Blues is a small venue and he took advantage of it for crowd involvement. He even body-surfed right over to where I stood and I helped him up on the little platform right in front of me. Yeah, I feel like a giggly school girl.

Talking about school girls… We were among the oldest in the crowd. Most others even close to our age were there with their daughters. And there were lots of screaming girls. A girl behind me – she couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16 – kept yelling, “I love you, Jared!” Guess what I found out today? He’s MY age!!! So, that’s kind of gross for her. Does she realize he could be her father????

William Levy - Delish!
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a real crush on a celebrity. Recently, though, I discovered William Levy. Yeah…YUM!!! Now I may have to add Jared Leto. Watch out for him and 30 Seconds to Mars – with that kind of musical talent and the ability to work the crowd like that, they’ll be HUGE before long.

Our hotel room was just above the pool of a resort-style complex that Orlando is famous for (everybody is there on vacation). There were lots of people sitting by the pool and, of course, many were reading. I had the thought of how weird it would be to someday see someone reading my book.

A little while later, I received an email from an FWA friend and she mentioned another self-pubbed author whose wife was recently at the doctor’s office and saw a guy reading her husband’s book. And my friend said, “How cool would that be?!”

So I started thinking about it even harder and a couple different scenarios played out in my head.

Scenario #1
Me: Hey, is that a good book?
Reader: Yeah, it’s awesome! I can’t put it down.
Me: Do you know the author?
Reader: No. She’s new.
Me (holding out hand): Well, now you do.

And we proceed to talk about how great my book is and I sign it.

Scenario #2
Me: Are you enjoying the book?
Reader (making a face): No, it’s crap. Terrible writing, no plot and the characters are boring. I don’t even know if I can finish it.
Me: Bolts out of there before the dam of tears bursts.

I’m such a baby. I’d really want to know more specifics. Maybe that person doesn’t read my genre. Maybe they were expecting something else. Maybe they don’t read English. Or maybe I could glean useful feedback to improve my writing. But no, I would run, hide and cry.

For all you writers, imagine that you see someone at the doctor’s office or by the pool reading your book. Do you strike up a conversation? Acknowledge it only with a little smile to yourself? Hide behind a magazine and hope they don’t look at the author’s photo? What would you do if/when that moment of truth comes around?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Feeling It…Or Not

This week is crazy-busy with dayjob business and a little fun Wednesday night – 30 Seconds to Mars at the House of Blues in Orlando. I’m terribly excited for this concert. I fell in love with the band about a year or so ago, while writing my first novel. Their newest album could be the soundtrack for the third book, which has been started but put on the back burner.

Right now, I’m working on fleshing out the new PURPOSE. It’s funny how things have evolved since I first decided to write fiction again. I started with a character sketch and free-writing and it grew out of control, like a snowball during the Snowpocalypse. The first scene I wrote, which was just as an exercise, became the basis for what will be the new PURPOSE. It’s nothing like it was then. The characters didn’t even have names yet and now their story has changed almost completely, but the premise remains.

As it started coming to me, I realized I needed to know the story behind the story. It was originally just for my own benefit, but so much happened that I needed it for the rest of the “real” story to make sense. So, it became Part I. And now it has become PROMISE, a book by itself. I see PROMISE as a prologue to the rest of the series, though it is an interesting, fun, romantic and exciting tale of its own.

In PROMISE, Alexis starts at eighteen, fresh out of high school, relatively naïve and innocent. By the end, she’s twenty and “all grown up.” PURPOSE picks up later and she’s in the middle of a personal crisis. It’s an extremely emotional time for her and the first ten (or a hundred) times I went through this part, I felt just as emotionally caught up in it and was drained by the time I pushed through it. Even when it had set for a month or more, I’d still feel the emotional turmoil she was going through when I went back to it.

Now it’s set for nearly two months while I’ve been busy preparing PROMISE for publication. And I’m having a hard time getting caught up in the chaos of her life. I think it’s because my own life is so chaotic right now, but in a good way, where in hers, it’s not so good. I’m too distracted to immerse myself fully into her head and heart.

For now, it’s okay. By being able to look at it more objectively, I’m able to see what scenes can be or need to be moved around, expanded, heightened, etc., to create the full plot and character arcs for a book. Being able to add 30,000 words to a manuscript is like putting me in a candy store. I’m a (not-so-recovering) wordaholic. I usually have to cut, cut, cut. Now I get to add, add, add. But just because I get to write so many new, shiny words, doesn’t mean every single one doesn’t need to count. So, being able to view the story from this distant perspective is a good thing. For now.

I just hope when it comes to actually writing those new words I can re-enter Alexis’s mind and heart. I made my first readers cry. I want to make them cry harder…not yawn or (gasp!) throw the book down out of annoyance or boredom. They need to feel what she is feeling, which means I must feel it first.

Have you ever found yourself not quite feeling the intensity that is necessary for the task at hand? It doesn’t even have to be writing or revising. Various areas of our lives and jobs require different levels of emotions and involvement. What do you do to become more immersed in the moment or situation? How do you put yourself in the right emotional and mental state?

*Image found here: 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Important Life Lessons

One recent night, as I was drifting off to sleep I had an idea for a book. Of course, this happens a lot, but this one surprised me because it’s totally not the kind of writing I do. It would be a “things you should know” humorous non-fiction piece and I guess I was thinking about little lessons my kids should learn before they go off to the real world, which, by the way, is approaching way too quickly.

Ever since I thought of this unoriginal idea, I’ve been seeing these little lessons pop up in daily life.

For example, don’t do anything in public you don’t want on the Internet because it might find its way there. But, more importantly, don’t do anything in private with friends and family around because it will definitely find its way there. And it will be there forever. So, yes, Son#3, the silly video you did with your friends and put on YouTube…your future boss or wife will likely see it. Good thing it was clean and kind of funny and you didn’t make too much of a fool of yourself.

We women know the obvious one we preach to the males in our households: Don’t leave the toilet seat up any time, but especially at night because that feeling of falling and then the, uh, rest, just plain sucks. Especially when you’re half asleep.

But here’s a related one: If you usually leave the bathroom door open, always leave it open. The other night I had that urgent middle-of-the-night nature call. Refusing to wake up all the way, my eyes were only slits as I shuffled through the dark bedroom. I intuitively avoided the dog bed and then the dog who doesn’t sleep on his bed. I missed the bags of clothes for charity that have been sitting there long enough to know they’re there, even in my sleep. Then…

Face-plow into the bathroom door. The noise was enough to wake The Man, who sat up and barked, “What the hell?!” And my reply: “You left the effin’ door closed!” Though, it wasn’t nearly so nice because by then I was awake and grouchy.

I’m not alone in this experience. About a year ago, my friend got up to use the potty and had a nice sized lump on her forehead for the next few days. So, a little lesson for life. It goes the other way, too: If you usually leave the door closed, always leave it closed. I can imagine someone stumbling in the dark and raising their arm to where they instinctively know the door is, leaning in to open it and it’s not there. Face meets bathroom floor. And that’s just never good.

The book will probably never become a reality. Like I said, it’s just not my usual style. If anything, I might put something together as a tongue-in-cheek graduation gift (which starts up next year – yikes!). So, I will be looking out for these little lessons.

What about you? Any funny anecdotes we should all learn from? Anything I can share with the Herd of Teenagers? Maybe we can all collaborate on a book for charity. That could be fun. So…let’s hear it! (Pssst...don't forget, a comment here gives you an entry into the giveaway.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Five For Friday

Five favorite things about this week

5. Seeing tears in the eyes of The Man while he read Catching Fire

4. The Herd of Teenagers sense of humor

3. Excellent progress on the path to publication

2. Lots of A’s on the Herd’s progress reports

1. Getting to see the outline sketch of Promise’s cover. I can’t wait for the final!!

I hope you had a good week, too. What were your favorite things?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rebels With a Cause

When talking to some other authors recently – in person, not online – one of their first questions when I told them my book releases this summer was, “So who’s your publisher?” Not what it was about or where it takes place or even genre (though those all eventually came out, but not first). Is this common? Do published authors discuss their publishers, editors and agents as soon as they meet each other? Because, honestly, I took the tone as someone who recently moved to LA is asked “What’s your zip code?” You know, with the unasked question of do you matter.

Maybe I’m a little on the defensive because I know there’s a stigma out there that independently published authors “just aren’t good enough.” At one point not too long ago, many indie authors went indie mostly because they received rejections from every agent and publisher out there. However, times are changing and many of us now see going indie as a great opportunity, not a last resort.

In fact, for me, it was considered as one of my first resorts, but I told myself I was just being an impatient control freak and needed to at least try the traditional route. Guess what? I am an impatient control freak. I am also an entrepreneur at heart and know when I have a great team who can accomplish awesome things. There are too many people I want to involve in my journey and I just couldn’t see how I could when handing everything over to a publisher. Going indie just feels too natural to me. And the other way – not at all.

So, I never even queried PROMISE, never even tried taking it the traditional route. Yes, it’s the beginning of what was once PURPOSE, which I did query, but the blurbs and synopsis I provided were too convoluted to say that it’s just a title change. I may have had more success querying after the split. Then again, I may not. Because the most common feedback I received from partials was the marketability.

See, my main character starts off at 18 years old, starting her first year of college. This is a no-man’s-land age when it comes to fiction. Supposedly, nobody wants to read about 18-22-year-olds. It’s not Young Adult and, I guess, it’s not quite Adult. There is a push for a new category called New Adult, which may eventually happen. I’m not waiting around for it to succeed. Because, honestly, it annoys me that a book is automatically labeled “not marketable” because of the MC’s age – because they don’t know how to categorize it.

I do. PROMISE is an adult novel. Trust me – the content is at least rated R. And PURPOSE picks up over seven years later, when the MC is 27. She continues to age (sort of) throughout the series. Just because she starts off at 18, doesn’t mean it’s YA or even New Adult. Just like The Lovely Bones isn’t YA, though the MC is 14.

So, basically, I’m bucking the system all over the place. Just call us rebels with a cause. We’ll see how it pans out. But I’m up for the challenge and so is my team. It’s a fun, exciting journey and I can’t wait for the sites and experiences along the way. I don’t feel badly about it at all. And I’m not going to let others make me feel inferior because I know the real story.

And by the way, if you really want to know who my publisher is, it’s called Ang’dora Productions. Keep your eye on it. It’s going places. ;-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Fairs and Lessons Learned

A couple members from my publishing team, a writer friend and I went to the Naples Books & Authors Festival this past weekend. It was a last minute decision, so we didn’t go to any of the panel discussions or classes. We walked along Naples’ posh Fifth Avenue, where authors had tables at various restaurants and shops, pawning their books and autographs. We were given a “passport” and if we had it signed by at least 15 authors, we entered it into a drawing. Some (quite rude) people at the festival hopped from author to author just to get their passports signed, not giving a rat’s you-know-what about the authors or their books. I kind of felt like the whole set-up with the passport idea was just a way to get people into the businesses.

Anyway…we went to actually talk to authors about their writing and publishing experiences. We didn’t get to do that so much. But it was definitely a learning experience, because, I am sure, I will be one of those authors next year. Mostly I learned what I don’t want to do when attending a festival. Don’t get me wrong – the authors were great and I applaud their participation and determination to sell their books, which range from various fiction genres to local history to family memoirs.

But there just seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm by many of the authors and I don’t think it’s because they don’t love their books. We were there on the first day, before it even officially started, so I cannot believe it’s because the authors were tired and ready to go, either. As a visitor, I didn’t leave most of the tables dying to read the books – so I didn’t come home with a single book in hand (though, I have a couple I’ll be downloading to my Kindle). I’m not sure what it was, but it left me with the feeling of, “Do I really want to do this????”

So, lessons learned for all of us who will be in these authors’ shoes one day (because whether we want to do them or not, we know we will):

  • Make your space exciting and inviting. Perhaps there were rules about what you can do and/or perhaps these authors just didn’t know what kind of space they would have until they actually arrived, but for the most part, they set themselves up at a table with a couple of their books out, maybe some bookmarks or other marketing materials…and that was pretty much it. If you have a beautiful cover, make a poster of it. Maybe add some balloons or something attractive that represents your book or character. Of course, cookies and cupcakes always work well.

  • Give something away (besides bookmarks). Have a drawing for a free autographed book. Give them a reason to come to your table and talk to you, not just to get their passport signed.

  • Offer a gift if your visitors purchase from you right there and then, something they won’t get if they buy online or at a bookstore. Sorry, but an autographed book only works if the visitor came to the festival to meet you specifically and get your autograph. If they’ve never heard of you or your book, that alone will not make them want to buy.

  • Most importantly, be enthusiastic! Act happy to meet each and every person and draw them into conversation. It helps to have a friend or two with you and not to talk personal stuff and distract you from visitors. You want a companion who will pull people to your table and spew greatness about your book.

If I think of more, I’ll definitely let you know. In the meantime, share your own thoughts. Have you ever been to an author festival or book fair? What was your experience? What do you suggest authors do to make it worth their while?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

This is it!!!

Big news. Big, BiG, BIG news! I’ve been holding back on posting this. The decisions were made a couple weeks ago, but then I had a panic attack. How would we get it all done? Are we sure we can do this? Am I freakin’ crazy?!? Then I calmed down and knew yes, my team can do this. Because we rock like that.

Then I had stage fright. Do I really want to announce this to the whole world???? That makes it so real. A commitment. A we’re-going-to-do-this-if-it-kills-us kind of thing.

But at some point I just have to say it, otherwise, no one will ever know, right? And if no one knows…yeah, that’s just not good marketing.

So here it is.

The. Big. Announcement.

When: July 30, 2010
Who: Me, You & the Whole World (I’m aiming high!)

WOOHOO!! Yes, this is it. My first book, PROMISE, will be published on July 30, 2010!

You might be confused by the title, because the original book had been PURPOSE, then when I split it, the working title of the first book was PATIENCE. But after some discussion of various ideas, PROMISE nailed the book perfectly. And it was funny, because that one little word changed my feelings about the split. Yes, I still wish it could be read all together like it was meant to be. But now that I have a title that pulls together the Big Idea of the book, I feel so much better about it being on its own.

Thank you to all of my readers and commenters for helping us pinpoint a date. Your replies to this post made a difference. We figure a month after Eclipse’s release, the excitement will have died down and fans will be looking for something new to latch onto. Hopefully, it will be PROMISE.

For those who know me personally, the date has meaning. But it’s also a very special one for my characters. I took a page from J.K. Rowling and gave significance to this date. And secretly, I’m hoping the book launch will take the spotlight off of the personal meaning of the day, which I wish would stop coming around so dang quickly every year.

So, what is PROMISE? Here’s the (nearly) final blurb:
When Alexis Ames is attacked by creatures that can’t be real, she decides it’s time she learns who she really is, with or without the help of her mother, who guards their family’s secrets closely. After meeting the inhumanly attractive, multi-talented Tristan Knight, however, Alexis retreats behind her façade of normalcy…until she discovers he’s not exactly normal either. Then their secrets begin to unravel.

Their union brings hope and promise to her family’s secret society, the Angels’ army, and to the future of mankind. But it also incites a dangerous pursuit by the enemy – Satan’s minions and Tristan’s creators. After all, Alexis and Tristan are a match made in Heaven and in Hell.
What do you think? Does it grab your attention? Does it spark your interest? Does it say enough? And the big question: Does it make you want to read it?

Monday, April 5, 2010

First Page Blog Fest

I’ve been a very bad blogger lately. I try to get at least one post up per week, am happy if I can get two and it’s been two weeks since my last one! Blogger fail. But I have been holed up, finalizing edits for my first book. Important announcements will be made this week!

For now, just a couple things. First, as you can see, I've made some changes. Instead of managing a website and a blog, I've combined them into one. So you can now get here through and you can also see other information about me and my books. Soon, I'll have links to the web site for the first book. Very soon. ;-)

Second, my friend Eisley Jacobs, a fabulous writer, is preparing to go to Ethiopia on a mission trip. Her story will give you goose bumps. Please visit her blog and if you can, help her out. Even just a little bit, as you’ll see in the story, will help her reach her goal.

Third…OMG, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins!!! If you haven’t read these yet, I don’t care your age, you MUST. Great characters and a suspenseful story line that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I could not put these down. I’ve read them both twice in 8 days (I went through them so quickly the first time, I was afraid I missed important details). I know I’ll read them at least one more time before the third and final book comes out in August. Some people may not like Katniss, the main character, in the first couple pages but you can’t help but feel for her by the end of the second chapter. If you have a heart, anyway. So go read them! You won’t be sorry! And I hope the rumors are true that they’re making these into movies. I can’t wait!

Finally, I signed up for a First Page Blog Fest for April 2nd. With the holiday weekend, I completely forgot about it. Oops. For more First Pages, start here for all the links.

Here is my delayed entry, my first page of my first book releasing this summer. These first 25 lines have been so hard for me. In fact, they used to be completely different. I still don’t know if I like this as the opening. So your feedback would be wonderful.

Does it grab your attention? Enough to keep reading? If you read these lines in a bookstore, would you buy the book? Or at least read another page or so before making a decision?

Here it is…

9 Years Ago

The sensation of being watched clung to me like a spider web, invisible threads bristling the back of my neck and down my spine. I brushed my fingers across my shoulders, like I could drag the feeling off and flick it away.

It was ridiculous, of course. Not just ridiculous to think I could pull it off so easily, as if it really were strands of a web, but it was even more absurd to feel it in the first place. Sometimes people stared with curiosity when they picked me up on their “weird radars,” but usually they just ignored me. No one watched so intensely.

Yet the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end at the feeling of eyes boring into me as I visited my favorite Washington, D.C., monument for likely the last time. I sat on the stone steps with the stately Thomas Jefferson behind me and gazed over the Potomac River tidal basin, enjoying the peace just before sunset. Well, trying to enjoy it anyway.

I blamed the feeling on my unruly imagination, with it being twilight and the sky looking so ominous. It was the perfect setting for one of my stories. The sun hung low—an eerie, orange ball glowing behind a shroud of clouds, a column of steel-blue rising around it, threatening to snuff it out. I envisioned something not-quite-human watching it from the shadows, waiting for the cover of darkness to begin its hunt.

That’s all it is, just my fascination with mythical creatures, I told myself. Uh-huh. Right.

Surrendering hope for a peaceful moment, I hurried to the closest Metro station. The feeling of being followed stuck with me on the train ride home, but at my stop in Arlington, I forgot the spooky sensation. Some kids from school stood near the top of the escalator as I stepped off.

“Hey, there’s the weird girl who heals,” one of them said loudly to the others. “It’s s’posed to be really freaky to watch.”

“Hey, freak, got any tricks to show us?” another called.