Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Facebook allows you to reach an exponential amount of people you don’t know, yet. Remember that old shampoo commercial from the 80’s?
They told two friends who told two friends and so on and so on? Well, on Facebook, when you tell two friends you tell 130 friends. That’s what Facebook says is the average number of friends that each FB user has. Wow. Forget two friends, telling two friends and so on and so on. On Facebook two friends will tell 260 friends, and it will happen automatically. That is why you should use Facebook to promote your business or book. Facebook is good clean referral marketing that can be fun!
Not convinced you need to fool with FB? Well, according to Facebook one third of all Americans have a profile on Facebook, and Facebook has a total of 750 million users worldwide. It is the world’s largest online social network. And it is FREE! You can have a profile (a page for a person) and even a FREE business page. Heck, multiple pages if you want. Why would you not take advantage of something with so much reach that is FREE?
It’s not hard to get started.
If you want to see what successful authors are doing on Facebook. Just type their name in the search box on the top of your FB page. Check them out and copy their tactics. They probably have a full-time, social media marketing person doing this for them with lots of sneaky know-how. Learn from them. I’ve been in marketing for over ten years, and I always copy something that works. It saves time and money.
Who should you friend? Besides the obvious answer (as many people as possible.)
Think. Which successful author has an audience similar to yours? I must confess, I love to write sassy, adult humor about dating. Now you know, whether you care or not, this caused me to search for Chelsea Handler on FB. She is the author of My Horizontal Life among other books, in addition to being a stand-up comedienne and late night TV show host. On her page she has sponsored questions posed by a vodka brand. For example, “Some people want their martini shaken, not stirred. How do you want yours?” (Extra dirty is my answer!)
What does that have to do with selling any book? And what’s my point? Two fold, my potential FB friend. Actually vodka plays a prominent role in many of Ms Handler’s one-night stand stories. Oh, and one of her books is titled Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. Ah ha! What? Exactly! FB is not about you giving a hard sell about your blessed book every post. (Point #1) Plus, this vodka company, who can pay me to say their name in this blog post, sponsored that question. She made money from them. (Bonus idea.) She seems clever, and entertaining maybe I should be her friend so these fun tidbits are automatically delivered to me on my page. (Point#2) Post about another writer or a book you like, (you have to be their friend on FB), use the @ symbol before their name, and guess what? It will post on their wall, and all their friends can see it. Now they see you! There are security and visibility settings that we won’t get in to here that people can adjust but, in general, this works. You helped them and now they automatically helped you. If you wrote something entertaining or useful they won’t want to hide you, and if you help them they should reciprocate. We are all friends here, right?
Facebook is a SOCIAL media.
Can you imagine being at a cocktail party where you are cornered by a car salesman shouting at you to buy a car or buy his book about buying cars? You might leave the party (or in Ms Handler’s case, drink more vodka and check out mentally.) Your FB friends will feel the same way. They are real people you know. Be engaged with your audience on your FB page, and they will stay at your party. Keep the party fun and interesting. Ask them questions. Post content they might like because you know what they like. You wrote with them in mind, didn’t you? Remember, when they ”like” your page it posts on the newsfeed on their wall for their130 friends to see. When they write on your Facebook page, a.k.a. comment, that also shows up on their wall. Now the party is rockin’ and people are talkin’!
There is more to celebrate about FB marketing and using social media ( twitter, LinkedIn and more) to spread the good news about your writing but knowing MY audience, I know a few points to digest is enough to get you thinking and you are a busy person. If you want to learn more you will. You are smart. You are reading this blog, aren’t you?
Last point this post, I promise! (Point#3) Be true to your brand. In the case of a writer this is your voice, your purpose. Post with this in mind. Let this principle drive your content.
Here are a few ideas for page content.
(1) Post questions to open discussion – Let it flow, good or bad. Respond to the Bad in your best caring professional tone. Encourage and feed the Good. Delete the Ugly – porn posts, swearing, you get the idea.
(2) Take polls – People like to be asked their opinion.
(3) Run contests – Give away a copy of your book or something related to your brand story (not vodka!), something legal to give away. For example, movie passes to someone selected out of the comments for the day. Rules can be found here.
(4) Be creative! Maybe create profiles for your characters. Have mini stories play out on their FB pages. Or let fans help decide who lives or dies or gets married or hooks up in your next book. They will need to buy the book to see what you did with their feedback.
(5) Sell your e-book or self-published book on the FB page. So the accepted rule in the social media expert chatter is 80/20: 80 percent of your content is your friends talking, 20 percent is you making offers or broadcasting your message. If you are engaging people, and they are enjoying your brand they may want to just click and buy. One free app you can try is Payvment E-Commerce Dashboard.
In summary, remember to make your page worth visiting. Give your friends and fans content that they will like, let them speak, listen, reward the them for visiting, and be true to your voice. Chelsea makes no secret that she likes to be in your face like a no-tear shampoo, and she likes vodka. And BTW Chelsea has 1,844,411 friends.
Additional Facebook Resources
Start here to create a page.
Educational resources about marketing on FB
Cheryl Michael is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a B.A. in Journalism. She majored in advertising and has worked in various marketing positions including Distribution Marketing Manager at ADTRAN, Marketing Director at Fleet Feet Sports in Huntsville. She is currently a free-lance social media gun for hire. She spends way too much time playing on Facebook and gets crazy excited talking about social media marketing. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, August 29, 2011
With the kids back in school, I’ve been trying to return to some kind of schedule for exercising. During the summer is really hard, and I kind of view the start of school at my “New Year” when I rev back up on my focus and determination.
For me, there are many correlations between writing and exercise. People who've never tried to write with publication as a goal don't understand this. But I'm sure all you published and aspiring writers out there do.
Ways Writing is Like Exercise:
1. Just like exercise does a lot of good for your body--strengthening bones, building muscle, working your heart--so writing does a lot of good for your mind. Every writing session builds those writing muscles, expanding your ability to endure, to focus, and to create. Increasing activity keeps your mind on the story, training your mind to "see" the characters, "hear" the dialogue, and translate the pictures into words.
2. Just like exercise builds balance in our lives between activity and inactivity, so writing allows us to take care of ourselves as well as others. I'm sure this doesn't just apply to Moms, but I know that writing has helped keep me in touch with me during the sometimes overwhelming demands of my daily grind. I have to schedule time to be creative. Get out of the house so I can write without interruptions or the whisperings of a dirty house. Find a baby sitter so I can attend meetings and workshops. And in doing so, I honor my dreams.
3. Just like I have to force myself to get off my behind and move, many times I have to force myself to insert butt in chair and write. Especially when I'm just starting a book or have hit a snag. When everything is flowing (you know what I mean), life is wonderful and writing is easy. Let the flow dry up and writing can be torture. But the only way to start the stream again is to, well, write. In that way, writing becomes a discipline. One with rewards beyond the obvious, rewards I don't know if I could describe to someone who doesn't have the need to write.
4. Just like exercise quickly falls to the wayside when life gets busy, so writing often gets put on the backburner in times of chaos. At least for me it does. Of course, I don't have the joy and burden of a deadline. The urgent things often get the most of my attention. But I'm learning how to get back on the wagon. By the way, my husband will attest to the fact that I don't view dishes or laundry as urgent.
5. The rewards are proven. For exercise, this might be obvious. With writing, it might be a little harder. Sure, we can see the hundreds upon thousands of books on the bookstore shelves. But if you aren't published, are the results as satisfying? Well, I'm not going to lie and say that seeing my name on the front of a book on that bookstore shelf wouldn't be one of the biggest thrills of my life. But there are other rewards. The joy in finally realizing what I am: a writer. The excitement of plotting a new book or story, with all the possibilities that come with it. The satisfaction of writing THE END. The pride in submitting a work I'm not embarrassed to let someone besides myself see. And to be honest, those rewards beat exercise hands down. :)
So, what will you push yourself for today? What activity in your life is most like exercise (besides the obvious)?
Join us on Wednesday when Cheryl Michael, Social Media Consultant, comes by for a visit!
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Heart of Dixie Presents: Putting On Your Game Face: How to Play Well With The Media
Have you ever wondered how to approach a reviewer about your upcoming release? How to set up a blog tour? How to promote your work and your name without appearing unprofessional?
At Putting on Your Game Face: How to Play Well With the Media on September 10, 2011, RT Magazine Review Coordinator Stephanie Klose and RT Magazine Web Editor Morgan Doremus will discuss the ins and outs of media promotion. They will give us a behind the scenes glimpse of the workings of RT Magazine, how their reviews are created, and the importance of the non-review content of the magazine. They’ll also discuss pitching your books for review to various review avenues, how to establish professional contacts, how to handle interviews, and how to present yourself to all manner of media.
This all-day workshop will be held on September 10 at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library in Huntsville, AL. Cost is $10 for HOD members and $15 for non-HOD members, which includes lunch and an afternoon snack. Seating is limited. Registration is required. Please make all checks payable to Heart of Dixie RWA. Deadline for registration is September 3, 2011.
More information at www.heartofdixie.org
Where: Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, 915 Monroe Street, Huntsville, AL 35801
When: September 10, 2011, 9:30am to 3:30pm
Registration Deadline: September 3, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
I mean, really. I'm no marketing expert, but it really is hard to write this book, create this baby, then just hand it over for someone else to decide what to call it and what it's going to look like. They know better. Really. And what they came up with is as good as or maybe even better than anything I sent in. But the waiting is so painful!
Yesterday, I made a joke on Twitter that I hoped the hurricaine missed them for their sake, but that I also hoped it wouldn't hold up the marketing approval of my title because it was killing me to wait. She then informated me Marketing is in Canada, so I shouldn't worry. And then, a few hours later, I got an email with the results. I almost couldn't open the email. What if it was horrible?
Then it was great. I was so relieved. I actually have an old book under the bed with this name, so it has to be a great title. So, without further ado.... drumroll... My first book is called....
What do you think? I like it. I think it works with the lies and the dual personalities of my heroine. All sorts of things going on beneath the surface. Just perfect.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
First, I get bombarded all at once. I currently have no less than 3 fundraisers going right now between my two girls. At least they're selling different things unlike last year when they were both selling from the exact same booklet. How am I supposed to do that without appearing to like one child better than the other? It's become a tightrope walk deciding which child gets which grandparents, aunts and uncles while attempting to predict what those people will buy so that I can keep the dollar value somewhat even. Nightmare I tell you! And for what?
Crap no one really needs or wants. Sure, we all need Christmas wrapping paper, but I can get it a heck of a lot cheaper from Target. And having tubs of cookie dough in the freezer sounds like a great idea until the power goes out for 4 days and that $40 goes into the garbage. Donuts, nut tins, candles, car decals, overpriced tchotchkes no one needs. Do you know how hard it is to look your mother in the eye and try to convince her she needs yet another candle?
I just can't do it. And what chaps my ass about it all is that they hook the kids with these elaborate programs to kick off the fundraiser, telling them all about the prizes and parties they're going to win if they sell. And then tell them they can't really sell because going door-to-door like we did as kids is verboten. Guess who gets to sell? And disappoint the girls when I have to tell them there's no way I can sell enough to get them both to that amazing party at the end.
I hate fundraiser time. I honestly would just rather hand the school a check for what they'd earn. I will say that Sweet Pea's school has begun something I rather like. They hold a back to school party the Friday before Labor Day. They rent 20 inflatables, sell pizza, drinks and snacks. And make money hand over fist. The kids have a great time. I don't have to sell shit. And the school makes money. Win, win, win!
Are you in the middle of fundraisers? What's the worst thing you've been asked to sell? Do you have a closet full of wrapping paper you'll never go through before the Apocalypse? Have you ever bought something you didn't want or need because you felt guilty?
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Actually I've always been a working woman because I firmly adhere to the saying "All mothers are working mothers." Even after my nest emptied out, I had housework, some of the yardwork and my responsiblities here at the Playground and at my RWA chapter. Several years ago I spent two years as a listserv moderator at the national level for RWA. I wrote short stories and taught an online class on that topic. And for the past year, I've been a volunteer facilitator for a divorce recovery group as well as an officer on the board.
Well now I have a real job (like scrubbing toilets is unreal). Get this -- I work as an administrative assistant for the legal firm that represented me during my divorce. Ain't that a kick?
It all happened very quickly -- like less than a week. On a Friday afternoon I learned they were hiring an admin assistant. On Monday I called for an interview and emailed my resume. On Wednesday I interviewed and on Thursday they offered me the job. I'd have started the following Monday but I already had a vacation planned, and they were very understanding. I went back and looked at the letter of resignation from my last real job, and my last day there was exactly 15 years before the day of my interview. Surreal, huh?
I'm still in the learning curve stage of things and everyone's been so helpful when I ask repeatedly how to operate the copy machine or where the Such-and-Such file is. I work half-days -- in the afternoon -- which is just fine with me because I don't have to roll out at the crack of dawn and fight the morning rush. I just have to fight the afternoon traffic, but I'm learning alternative routes home. And learning to plan ahead for dinner and have a snack around 3:30 so my stomach isn't digesting itself as I sit in traffic on the way home.
In a couple weeks, though, I'll work full days while the receptionist is out for a week. I'll have to answer that phone with a bazillion blinky red lights. And try to remember what client goes with which attorney. And do my other work too while I figure out the gazillion blinky red lights.
The job has been good in many respects. My self-esteem took a big hit during the divorce. Being offered this job was a great "atta girl." Another good part is now I'll have money for the RWA conference next summer (provided I can take a week off) without feeling like I'm spending my retirement or won't be able to pay my rent.
Tell me about your job.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. ~ Max Ehrmann, "Desiderata"
The problem with knowing everything's going exactly as it needs to is that when you're not having that much fun it doesn't even do any good to complain.
Monday, August 22, 2011
She's graciously agreed to give away a copy of The Kaizen Plan for Healthy Eating, so comment to enter. I'll choose a winner and post at the end of the night, so be sure to check back!
Forget About the Glass: Succeed More Often By Being Both an Optimist and a Pessimist
Optimists tend to be healthier, happier, and more successful in life than their talents merit. At least that's what psychological studies show. Optimists are also more likely to dream big, stick to their goals, and keep their sense of humor intact in the face of disaster. They tend to believe that problems are temporary, specific to their current circumstances, and solvable.
Pessimists, on the other hand, are more often right when asked to predict the outcome of a situation, according to those same studies. Pessimists are also more likely to study harder in school, save money for the future, and work longer hours. They're more likely to suffer health problems and depression. They tend to believe that problems are permanent, generalized, and not solvable.
Glass half-full or glass half-empty? Happy or right? Which do you want to be?
You probably feel like you have to choose between the two. But although you might favor one of these perspectives over the other, you do have the ability to switch between them. Optimism and pessimism aren't personalities, they're modes of thinking. And they're both both useful tools, if you use them correctly.
What are they useful for? Committing to and achieving your goals.
How Being Both an Optimist and a Pessimist Can Help You Achieve Your Goals
Studies by Dr. Gabriele Oettingen and her colleagues showed that there's a difference between fantasizing about success and expecting success. Oettingen has also identified four steps that significantly increase the likelihood that you'll stick to your goals until you achieve them:
1. Expect success. Think about your past successes, the resources available to you, and the capabilities that you bring to achieving this goal. What are the reasons why you can achieve this goal?
2. Be an optimist. Imagine a positive vision of the problem solved or the goal achieved. What will be different when you get there? How will you feel when you succeed?
3. Be a pessimist. Think about the obstacles standing between you and your goal. What problems will you have to overcome on the way to success? What could go wrong?
4. Contrast the optimistic and pessimistic. How can you use your resources and capabilities to overcome the obstacles you identified? How do your past successes—or the lessons you learned from past failures—make qualify you to succeed here? Are you willing to do the work to get where you want to go? Is it possible that the actual project won't match either your optimistic or pessimistic views of it, but will fall somewhere in between?
Contrasting the positive with the negative not only gives you a more realistic picture of how you might succeed, it also prepares you to overcome obstacles while maintaining your enthusiasm for the work and your optimistic vision of the project's outcome. Step one helps you gather your resources. Step two engages you emotionally and focuses you on your motivation. Step three engages you intellectually and prepares you to do the work. Step four brings your emotions and intellect in synch, so that your heart and your head are both going in the same direction.
Do you have a new project that you'd like to commit to? Or a dead project that you'd like to revive? Take a few minutes to go through the four steps described above with your project in mind. Did your thoughts or feelings about this project change?
Lynn Johnston blogs about how to take control of your life 10 minutes at a time using the kaizen approach at http://www.smallstepstobigchange.com. Each week, readers of her blog receive a small, simple step they can use to improve some area of their lives. She's the author of The Kaizen Plan for Healthy Eating and The Kaizen Plan for Decluttering Your Computer (http://tinyurl.com/4yheo3u).
Friday, August 19, 2011
Writing changed that. I mean, I thought I was good at writing until I actually started. There was a steep learning curve, but over time you figure out what you're good at and what needs work. You compensate, you get better, and hopefully, you find success like I did. For me, characterization and plot were always first nature. Giving characters quirks, mannerisms, growth arcs, and setting them up in a plot with the right pacing and structure was just there. For that, I am eternally grateful. Characterization is really hard to learn. At the same time, sexual tension is my achille's heel. You sold to a passion line, you say? Don't I know it. No pressure, there.
Going through my revisions recently, I learned that I do a lot of the same things over and over, especially when I'm writing quickly. I decided that I need to hang a sign on my desk as a reminder. I've seen it used for motivation for weight loss or goal achievement, and I thought it was a good idea. Then I realized I probably need more than one sign.
Signs I need on my desk:
1 - Have you tingled today? Like I said, sexual tension is one of my weaknesses. I do okay with actual sex, but all the body awareness and, well, TINGLING that leads up to the sex is a constant challenge. I feel like I have it, but then the editor tells me they want more. More tingling! Smack the reader in the face with their constant longing! Sigh. So this is my first and foremost sign, directly over my monitor.
2 - You are not paid by the word. Charles Dickens might've made his money that way, but no more. Whether my book comes in at 50k or 55k, the money is the same. I find myself constantly struggling to stay under word count, even when I aim for 50,000 words.
3 - Simplify. Typically, the cause of #2 is too complicated a plot with too much conflict that makes it difficult to get to #1, tingling! I layer up so much crap on my characters its virtually impossible for them to get to the seksi. I need to simplify my plots, focus on the tingling, and all will be well.
4 - Details! All too often, my characters are floating heads moving about in a sea of nothingness. Remembering to layer in details about their clothing, their surroundings, sensory information... all stuff that I tend to blow through on the first draft. The problem is that I write a 50k word book in first draft, then by the time I get done with this step, I'm pushing 55k again. I need to learn to add it in the first time, #3 simplify, then #2 won't be as big of a problem.
Any other suggestions? Hopefully my desk will still be visible under the blizzard of post-it notes I need to leave for myself. What sign do you need hung over your desk or in your office? Have you tingled today? :)
PS. Since I wrote this, I've found something else that I want to hang over my computer. The email from my editor after I turned in the latest round of revisions. And I quote - "...we’re thrilled with the work you’ve done. The book is sexy, dramatic and romantic and yet very unique for the line. Congrats for pulling off an amazing first book!" Sometimes you need to be reminded of what you do right, too!
Thursday, August 18, 2011
But I'd really like to have my summer back. I miss my late mornings when I could sleep in, rush the girls into the car still in their pajamas and drop them off at my mom's on my way to work. Instead I'm stumbling out of bed bleary eyed, making breakfast, making lunches, getting myself pulled together and attempting to ensure that whatever my independent children put on in the morning follows the dress code.
As if losing my mornings wasn't bad enough, I've also lost my evenings. Gone are the nights when we'd all come home from our various activities to settle in and share. Watch TV together. Talk about the day. Instead, I'm coordinating four people as we try to figure out when to fit dinner in between 2 hour cheerleading practices, karate lessons, homework and my 45 minute commute home from work. This afternoon, Zilla and are are literally meeting in a parking lot so we can exchange children and then head off in opposite directions not to meet again until 8:30 when getting home and bedtime collide.
My weekends are obliterated as well. Saturdays are now full of football games and cheerleading. My Sundays are reserved for Sunday School and Girl Scouts.
I'd really like my summer back. We had season tickets to a local waterpark. I spent quite a few evenings after work and most of my weekends there with my girls this summer. I really enjoyed listening to them laugh and play. Counting down the days until next June.
Has school started in your area? Are you holding on with both hands to summer? Or are you looking forward to fall and all it brings?
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Last summer I blogged about a red string I wore around my wrist. The strings came from a Buddhist practice my minister learned about when he visited India. The string was all about the knots in our lives -- the problems we work to resolve.
My string finally rotted and fell off a few weeks ago. I'd hoped it meant all my knots were unraveled, but alas, it isn't so.
~ I still have loose ends with the divorce.
~ I have an unfinished manuscript.
~ I have a request I haven't acted on.
~ My spare room looks like a bomb went off.
~ The closet for this room looks even worse.
~ I'm having to study the Level 2 facilitator's manual and workbook for the divorce group I work with so I can co-facilitate this starting next month.
~ My other foot still needs to be operated on.
Some problems are easy fixes -- like a burned-out light bulb or a squeaky door hinge. I can fix those myself.
Others aren't so easy. They require a lot more effort and/or require the help of others.
So I'm thinking of pulling out the spare red string I had and tying it around my wrist to help remind me about the unfinished manuscript, the year-old request (she DID say it had no expiration date), the junk in my spare room and closet, my foot and the Level 2 program study.
I'll get it done. I just need to get it done sooner rather than later. But some things can't be rushed, so I have to be patient. I'm not always good with patience.
And once again, rather than have you bear your souls about the knots in your lives, I'll ask you what's going on in your life and/or what good book you've read lately. I've mostly read divorce group manuals. They're good, or rather I should say they are helpful. But they're not entertaining like a good novel. And I just started a new part-time job on Monday. I'm an administrative assistant in a law firm. Ain't that a kick?
What are you reading and/or doing?
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
This wasn't what I was going to blog about today, but yesterday Smarty Pants sent me an email:
Kim - could you post on your blog tomorrow that I'm debuting on the Desire Author blog tomorrow on eHarlequin? Here's the link.
It's not an uncommon request on the Playground. I'm sure you've seen these little announcements at the bottom of everyone's posts as we make our way around the internet (spreading joy and happiness!). But it made me think (and since I'm deep in revisionland, thinking is an oddity): we've come a long way in five years.
When we started the blog, I was targeting Desire and Andrea was writing single title paranormals. Now she's writing for Desire and I'm writing for Presents. Kira was targeting Blaze by then, but she had at least one IM under the bed. None of us are exactly where we thought we'd be when we started writing.
It just goes to show that some of the most common writing advice isn't always golden. "Write what you love to read" should be "Submit to the line that you think best fits your voice and your story." It makes sense -- after all, voice makes the story, and if your story is a sweeping historical, that sassy, modern voice isn't going to cut it. But sometimes, you may not know exactly where your voice fits. Your voice may not sound like what you think it sounds like.
I think a lot of aspiring authors think "I love X kinds of books, therefore I must have an X kind of voice." That's not true. I love big fat historicals, but I couldn't write one to save my life. It would be a tragedy of epic fail proportions. Your voice is how you write, not what you write.
So how do you know if you're trying to write the wrong kind of book for your voice. If you're lucky, an editor will tell you. If an editor tells you, "I think you might be better off submitting to X," believe them.
If you don't have an editor handy, I'd ask a friend. Preferably a friend who reads a wide variety of romance novels from different subgenres and lines. Give her some sample pages and ask her what kind of book it sounds like.
And read widely yourself. We all tend to narrow our focus and read heavily in the lines/subgenres we want to target, but reading widely might help you see that your book is wrong for your voice. Erotic romance sizzles and pulses with energy. Long. languid sentences and flowing exposition won't fly. Romantic suspense needs to feel heavier and tense with spurts of energy to match the plot points. Lightwieght, carefree prose need not apply. Try to be honest with yourself: is your voice really right for that kind of book?
It may be a hard task. Deciding that you don't have the voice to write for the line you love can be difficult and lead to depression. But if you stay open to the possibilities and learn to respect this unique part of your writing, you may find yourself a happy home in the last place you expected.
P.S. Yep, Instigator is spreading joy and happiness this morning too on the eharlequin Blaze Celebration. Come learn what she thinks makes Blaze so special.
Monday, August 15, 2011
We have an eclectic group this month, including some non-fiction. Here’s what we’re reading on the Playground!
Having the Billionaire’s Baby by Sandra Hyatt -- Smarty Pants
I decided my second book will be a secret baby book. Then I realized I actually haven't read that many. To the Nook store I went where I downloaded several, including this one. I was tickled to find out this is actually Sandra's debut book. After sitting through her ex's wedding and finding out the bride is pregnant (after he insisted for years he didn't want kids) Callie throws caution to the wind and has an anonymous affair with a handsome stranger at the reception. Turns out it’s the bride's brother and one of the clients of her PR firm. Oops. Then she finds out she's pregnant. Double oops. Nick is determined to have his child in his life and Callie too, but she refuses a marriage without love. A great story with some interesting characters. I especially liked his intuitive grandmother who was constantly knitting blue and pink baby clothes before anyone told her they were expecting. :)
Divorce Sucks: What to do when irreconcilable differences, lawyer fees, and your ex's Hollywood wife make you miserable by Mary Jo Eustace -- Playground Monitor
I’m reading this because I saw the author appear on Joy Behar’s show and when the book was offered as a free Kindle download I figured what the heck. I’m enjoying reading it because obviously the author understands all the emotion and the work involved in a divorce. And I agree with her – divorce sucks.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling -- Problem Child
I really wanted to re-read the entire Harry Potter series before I saw the last movie. I was under deadline though when HP 7.2 was released, and AC was not going to hold out while I re-read the series to prepare. So I went to see the movie without all my background knowledge refreshed. ~grumble~ But revisiting Harry Potter and Hogwarts is so much fun. The stories never lose their charm (and you know they must be charming if I’m willing to suspend my disbelief to read any kind of fantasy… but that’s a different blog post). I just recently started Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and am being sucked back in as always. But one of the best things about the Harry Potter series is that it’s something AC really loves, and so it’s something we can share. She is, of course, practically an expert on all things Harry and Hermione, so not only are we able to talk about the books, she gets to feel like she’s teaching Mom something. It’s one way to bond, right?
The Gathering by Kellie Armstrong -- Instigator
I just finished reading The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong, the first book in her new Darkness Rising trilogy. While this book isn’t directly connected to her Darkest Powers trilogy, it again follows a group of teenagers with unusual gifts as they learn what they are and how to deal with this newfound knowledge about themselves and the world. Armstrong’s amazing world building, interesting characters and heart pounding plot lines kept me turning the pages into the wee hours of the morning. After finishing this book I immediately went in search for the release date of book two. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to wait until next April. Considering that’s my only complaint about the series, I highly recommend checking it out.
Savor the Danger by Lori Foster -- Angel
I started reading this series earlier this year, and the newest installment fell into my greedy grasp last week. Here, Jackson Savor, security expert, finds himself in the crosshairs when he’s slipped a roofie and has a forgotten night of hot sex with his boss’s sister. Alani Rivers cherishes her time with Jackson, only to find he has no memory of the sex – or the words of love he spoke to her. The danger quickly escalates from drugs to car crashes to physical attacks in classic Foster style. It’s a roller coaster ride to a surprise ending. I highly recommend it if you like romantic suspense.
There are our suggestions for the month! Tell us what you recommend for our next trip to the bookstore!
Friday, August 12, 2011
What I literally need is a name for my book. The one I was using during the submission process doesn't fit with the line's new title scheme, which is more single title, less Millionaire's Virgin Mistress. Which I'm good with. But, I have to submit a list of title suggestions to my editor by Tuesday. So I need help. I've come up with a couple and friends have suggested a few. I've listed them below. I have also included a short blurb of the story to give you an idea of the book so you can help me come up with some more choices.
Adrienne Lockhart put everything into her dream of being a Manhattan fashion designer. When she fails and closes up her shop, her life comes crashing down. Literally. When she wakes up in the hospital, she has no memory of who she is or what happened, but the ID bracelet on her wrist says "Cynthia Dempsey" and the handsome, but distant, newspaper CEO by her bedside says he's her fiancé .
Will tried to work it out with Cynthia, but he discovers information that gives him no choice but to call off the wedding. Later that day, he learns her plane crashed and she's survived, but is seriously injured. She has amnesia and doesn't remember they broke up, so he returns to her bedside as the concerned fiancé until she recovers. The woman he finds there looks like Cynthia, but her personality has changed radically. He's drawn to her like never before and begins to wonder if they've been given another try to work things out.
As Will and Adrienne are drawn together in a second chance at love, secrets from Cynthia's past threaten to tear them apart. When she realizes she's not who everyone thinks she is, how can she tell everyone, including the man she's come to love, the truth? And will he believe her?
So, there you go. Here's the list of what I've gotten so far. I've played on the second chance theme, engagement, newspaper, design/fashion, memory loss, crash/accident, etc. I need to narrow it down to about ten, so let me know which ones you like the best and throw out any ideas. I need all the help I can get. :)
Accidentally in Love
Crash Into Love/Me
A Second Chance at Love
To Love Again
Once More With Feeling
A/His Perfect Fit
Love/Romance/Desire/Passion by Design
Designs on His Fianceé
Tailor-Made for Love/Romance/Each Other
Front Page Seduction
Engaged in Seduction
The Memory of His Touch/Kiss
Facing the Past
A Time to Remember
A Matter of Trust
The Way We Weren't
Under His Skin
Another Woman’s Life/Lover/Mistake
Thursday, August 11, 2011
For those of you unfamiliar with it, this is where writers post when they're going to start a writing sprint - hoping for 1K words in 1HR. It's a great place to meet new people, encourage fellow writers and find a group who'll hold you accountable for the work you need to do.
I discovered this group when I was having trouble getting back into a book that I'd set aside for a little while. I needed something to help me push through the mental block so that the words would start flowing again. And this totally worked! I joined several sessions and within a couple days had more than twenty pages. This is amazing considering I'd spent the previous week staring at the blank computer screen and being excited when I got two pages.
I think this works for me because I'm pretty competitive. I know, y'all are surprised. Having another writer nipping at my heels pushes me to keep going when quitting would be easier. I haven't been active for the last several days because I'm in the middle of line edits, but I know that when I'm finished and I need help getting back into the story my first stop is going to be Twitter and #1K1HR.
Are there any other hash tags on Twitter that I need to check out? I feel like there's an entire world out there that I haven't discovered. If you're a writer, do you have an accountability system? Have you tried 1K1HR?
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I found this on Yahoo
Court kicks out frivolous Title IX cheerleader suit with gusto
By Cameron Smith
What happens when two cheerleaders get into a lengthy feud over a boy, then the younger is left off the varsity squad the following season? In Texas, a lawsuit happens, with said suit being laughed out of an appeals court upon its official review date.
As first reported by the Dallas Observer, the Title IX lawsuit filed by Liz Laningham -- the mother of former Carrollton (Texas) Creekview High cheerleader Sami Sanches (who is not pictured among the most recent group of Creekview cheerleaders below) -- was thrown out of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals with the legal equivalent of a good, forceful kick to the rear end.
The following passage comes directly from the legal opinion given in the Laningham-Sanches case. In fact, it's the statement that starts off the lengthy court opinion, which you can read in full at the bottom of this Deadspin post right here.
Reduced to its essentials, this is nothing more than a dispute, fueled by a disgruntled cheerleader mom, over whether her daughter should have made the squad. It is a petty squabble, masquerading as a civil rights matter, that has no place in federal court or any other court. We find no error [with the lower court's judgement] and affirm.
Now, one might wonder how the mother of a high school cheerleader could possibly be delusional enough to think that a claim of a vast school conspiracy against her daughter would be validated by a federal court. In fact, one might also wonder what made her feel entitled enough to cite prior legal decisions that found proof of sexual harassment and discrimination against rape victims and students who happened to bear an unfortunate likeness with Monica Lewinsky, in that aforementioned court claim.
The answer, it seems, is that Ms. Laningham was quite delusional indeed. Among a serial list of issues raised in her original legal writ, the Dallas Observer pulled out the following salient complaints … none of which, one could argue, have absolutely anything to do with the kind of systematic discrimination Title IX and sexual harassment laws are intended to protect against:
1. The school did not remove the freshman cheerleading squad captain after she told Sanches she'd kissed her boyfriend.
2 The way the squad chose jump sequences at homecoming was patently unfair.
3. Rank favoritism.
4. The scheduling of the end-of-year banquet for cheerleaders was too favorable to senior girls.
5. Laningham was threatened with a lawsuit by other parents because she failed to return cheerleading videos.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a test case in when you know a lawsuit is extraordinarily frivolous. The fact that other parents had to file a suit against Laningham just to get her to return cheerleading squad videos is proof enough that she didn't have the greatest track record of responsible "cheerleading stewardship," for lack of a better term.
Still, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals wasn't yet finished in its criticism of Laningham's irresponsible legal advocacy. In fact, it went so far as to criticize the grammar of the original filed brief in its footnotes, which it did with the following piece of exceptional intra-documentary referencing:
"Usually we do not comment on technical and grammatical errors, because anyone can make such an occasional mistake, but here the miscues are so egregious and obvious that an average fourth grader would have avoided most of them. …
"And finally, the sentence containing the word 'incompetence' makes no sense as a matter of standard English prose, so it is not reasonably possible to understand the thought, if any, that is being conveyed. It is ironic that the term 'incompetence' is used here, because the only thing that is incompetent is the passage itself."
Ouch. Laningham just got served ... a really nasty court decision.
Thus concluded what Prep Rally can only consider to be the greatest review of a frivolous high school athletics lawsuit of all time. It's a legal opinion that may be incredibly difficult to top in the future, too, given its brash handling of the case and willingness to try and set a precedent for how such future frivolous lawsuits will be handled.
So believe your English teacher when he/she tells you that grammar counts!
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
A fling with one of the Marshalls is a bad idea – especially for a girl with a scandalous past. But Lily is terrifyingly susceptible to Ethan’s lethal brand of high-class charm…
Monday, August 08, 2011
My favorite part? The rugged men. Nope, not the hobbits, elves, and miscellaneous magical creatures. I find myself following the hotties more than anything. I think part of it is my current obsession with Knights of the Round Table. And this guy would be a perfect match: Viggo Mortensen.
I love this look on him! Long hair, scruffy chin, haunted eyes. Yum!
I have to admit, I’m not a fan of many of Viggo’s other looks: no blond hair, gray hair, really short cuts, etc. His features change drastically with his hair color and cut. But this one is pretty nice (if I can’t have the knight look).
But I have to admit, it’s the long hair that gets me. :)
So tell me, do you have an actor you really only care for in certain movies or dressing certain ways? We're often comparing our characters to So-and-so as a specific character.
Friday, August 05, 2011
After I select my winner, I will close my eyes, reach into the stacks and pull out 1 to 3 books, depending on my mood (and stock of shipping envelopes). Whatever I grab, you could win.
To enter, tell me about what some of your favorite themes, lines or heroes are. Give me some ideas for future FBF giveaways.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Not only do I want to make sure that the characters look right on the cover - which means I need to be pretty detailed about not only what the characters look like but their character traits as well - but I also want to make sure everyone that reads the AFS understands what the core idea of the book is. Providing them with detailed information gives my book the best chance to succeed.
One of the fun parts of the AFS is I get to suggest several scenes I think would make a great cover. I usually have an idea in my head about what I think would look great. Sometimes I'm right - most of the time I'm not. Harlequin has some of the best cover artists in the business and they know what they're doing. A heck of a lot better than I do. So while I might not always get what I wanted, I've never once been disappointed with the cover I've gotten. I figure they don't tell me how to write the book, who am I to tell them how to design a dynamic, eye-catching cover?
So, help me feel better about the three AFS I just completed. Do you have a favorite book cover? Something that caught your eye and called to you from the store shelves? Have you ever bought a book because of the cover?
P.S. I'm visiting today at the Blaze 10th Anniversary celebration. Come hear what TV show I thought would have been better as a Blaze.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
One of the most popular sub-genres of inspirational romance today is Amish romance. I haven't read any of the books, but I did watch a movie a while back based on one of Beverly Lewis's Amish novels. I've always been rather fascinated by these people who live in a world right out of the last century.
Last year I learned there's a settlement of Amish not too far from here in Ethridge, Tennessee. And a couple Saturdays ago, a friend and I decided to take a road trip there.
Because the Amish do not like to have their photographs taken (they think it will take away their soul), I respected their beliefs and only have a couple photos taken before we entered their neck of the woods.
I'm not going to bore you by reciting a laundry list of things I learned about this settlement. You can read all about it here. I will tell you one thing that website doesn't cover -- Rumspringa. Rumspringa "generally refers to a period of adolescence for some members of the Amish, a subsect of the Anabaptist Christian movement, that begins around the age of sixteen and ends when a youth chooses baptism within the Amish church or instead leaves the community. The vast majority choose baptism and remain in the church." This group of Amish doesn't participate in Rumspringa. Our guide said you're either Amish or English (the term used by the Amish to refer to non-Amish folks). Period. He also said if someone leaves the sect, an empty coffin is buried and the person is considered dead by his family and the community. I think that would make someone think very, very seriously about leaving.
We stopped several times along the way at different farms. The owners have hand-lettered signs by the road indicating what they sell. Many sell the vegetables they grow and they also have jellies, pickles, breads, furniture and baskets. One even had a Jersey cow listed for sale.
We're talking about going back in the fall when the farmers make sorghum. It'll be cooler then and maybe the leaves will be turning and we can see the countryside wearing different colors. But the Amish will still be in black and gray and dark blue -- the plain people.
The goodies I bought -- muscadine jelly, bread and butter pickles and a basket.
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Monday, August 01, 2011
I had a very interesting time this weekend – my youth group had a reunion. Yep, the kids I spent the majority of my time with during my teen years all got together for dinner and memories.
Now, this might sound odd to you, but you have to understand that I grew up in a charismatic Christian environment: homeschooling, speaking in tongues, the whole bit… Luckily, we all turned out fairly normal. :) But since I was homeschooled through high school and graduated in a class of 4, this is like my high school reunion. So I was a bit nervous…
But we had a great time! Everyone brought nostalgic food, like the oatmeal brown sugar cookies our youth leader made for every event, chili cheese dip that my husband perfected in high school, and the hot ham rolls our family introduced sometime in our late teens. We got to meet spouses we’ve never met before, and the next generation: lots of kids. Little Man had a few moments of freaking out when a whole hoard of kids descended on his room and toys, but for the most part they did really well.
Then we talked, and talked, and talked. My sister and I had brought out photo albums and scrapbooks, which provided a lot of fodder (for name calling, memories, and some things we’d rather have forgotten). We also had to catch up on who everyone was now, including spouses, kids, jobs, etc. The highlight of the evening was a SPOONS tournament (if you haven’t played this card game which results in fighting over plastic spoons, it’s a hoot), and guess who won the championship belt? That’s right – me! Of course, I won it from my husband, who kept the custom made belt since he was a teen. I call it keeping it in the family.
So tell me, what kind of reunions have you enjoyed? Which ones do you wish you had a good excuse to avoid?