Monday, January 30, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you, Lucy Swing, talented author, graphic artist, and sister Chocolatier, for nominating me for The Versatile Blogger Award. I am touched and honored.

The Rules (Remind you of a chain letter?)

  1.  In a post on your blog, nominate 15 sister bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award. (Fifteen isn’t mandatory, but it’s a nice gesture. Try and pick at least five.)
  2.  In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
  3.  In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you with a link back to their blog.
  4.  In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
  5.  In the same post, include this set of rules.
  6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

Without further ado, seven random things about me:

1. Bonafide Buffy fanatic. I heart Spike!

2. Blind enough to run into walls without contacts.

3. Champagne is my lifeblood.

4. Married Sebastien nearly 12 years ago in the French town of Meaux – pronounced “moe” as in: eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a Frenchman by the toe!

5. World’s piggiest vegan.

6. Greatest life adventure was going to Africa and living in a mud hut.

7. Rarely make chocolate chip cookies anymore because I will eat every last one within 24 hours. Cookieholic – the condition is real and extremely serious. It once caused me to gain 50 lbs in three months.

And now, 14 bloggers I’d like to recognize and nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award:

1. Isabella Louise Anderson at Chicklit Goddess. Isabella is one of the most upbeat and encouraging writers I know. We met via Gotham’s online Romance Writers workshop a couple summers ago.

2. Elizabeth Grant Thomas. Liz and I have been pen pals for over two decades. Trust me, that’s a lot of paper and ink! She blogs about motherhood, life, food, friendship and writing.

3. Nicole Steinhaus at YA Stands. Not only is Nicole one of the most helpful beta readers I’ve come across, she’s put together a blog with interviews, tips, reviews and all things YA.

4. Julie Daines. I love humor and, thanks to Julie, I know how to survive an alien invasion, zombie apocalypse and vampire attack.

5. Stina Lindenblatt at Seeing Creative. Stina is simply one of the nicest ladies I’ve seen out on the blogosphere. Her blog posts are helpful and engaging and Cool Links Friday is a wonderful roundup of interesting writing posts across the board.

6. Dan and Margo at Circle of the Sun for walking the talk: sharing their experiences of a sustainable life through biointensive mini farming.

7. Erik Marcus – my favorite vegan blogger. Erik’s musings are as humorous as they are informative and he keeps up-to-date on all things affecting our food, including GMOs.

8. Shelley at The Rebel Homemaker, even though she hasn’t blogged since summer. Shelley blogs about her adventures in growing food in the middle of LA, cooking from scratch, and quilting.

9. Tracey at Digging Through the Dirt. Tracey cares about all causes and presents each post in an informative and intelligent manner. She simply has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know.

10. Najla Qamber at Unputdownable Books. She reads, she reviews, and she designs – all from the small island of Bahrain (sometimes while riots are going on right outside her window!)  
11. Keary Taylor, (not only a neighbor islander): indie author extraordinaire. Keary is hitting the big time and has been a source of unending inspiration.

12. E. L. Schneider – a welcoming and helpful writer in the world of YA.

13. Cinthia at Ah, Ah Alaska. She writes and runs and takes gorgeous pictures along the way. Cinthia’s my girl!

14. And my sister Chocolatiers: Suz, Cheryl, Stacey, Kira and Lucy at Death by Chocolate. Working as a team on our anthology has been the highlight of these past couple months. I love all these ladies! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Addict

Sometimes I feel a bit manic in my reading and writing habits. I’m usually all in or all out. Dry spells followed by an onslaught of pages and reading. Last year I wrote two novels, two short stories and a novella in three months… followed by four months of NOTHING.

Nor have I read near enough till now. At the moment, I’m a bonafide book junkie.

I’ve got a stack of library books on the kitchen table, more at the hold desk, and a kindle filled with sample chapters and eBooks.

The last two books I read were so good I want to read EVERYTHING written by the authors.

(Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare and Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Taini Taylor.)

For more on discovering new titles and authors, check out my guest post at YA Stands, Blind Date with a Book.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Snow of the Season

Woke up to snow Saturday morning in Friday Harbor then set off for a walk through a winter wonderland on Orcas Island on our favorite trail with our favorite Aussie mate after lunch at our favorite cafĂ©. A good day, indeed…

Except for an hour + delay in the ferry that night. I stood outside making mental notes about the way the cold seeped down to my bones. By the time we made it home I was thoroughly chilled.

Much more snow on Sunday. There’s always something so magical about it. And speaking of magical: I read Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor this weekend. Amazon needs an honorary 10 star option for books like these. Loved it with the fire of a thousand suns!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Editors vs. Free styling


When I finish a novel what I leave behind is a landmine of errors. Even one mistake feels akin to walking around, big grin on my face, with lipstick on my teeth. Angela Scott compares it to broccoli in your teeth in her wonderful post, Editors are a Necessity, NOT a Choice.


I also love Dean Wesley Smith’s humorous post about The New World of Publishing and his definition of writer vs. author. Where I agree with him is that a writer shouldn’t get hung up on promotion (they ought to Keep Writing the next novel and the next), though I’m not quite with him on skipping the external feedback and editors. I believe, at the very least, a manuscript should be error free (notwithstanding the occasional slip-up that inevitably happens). 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bleep the BLEEP Up!

I can’t believe I’m doing this… editing bad language out of my YA novel and novella.

The suggestion came from the least likely person: my husband who doesn’t give a flying fig about cuss words.

He read the first chapter of my novel and called the profanity a “turn off.”

It irked me, mostly because it followed his comment (with wrinkled nose) that my book wasn’t really his style.

I’ve always been able to handle feedback from critique partners, but for some reason I had trouble swallowing Seb’s honest opinion. Probably because critique partners tell you what works and what doesn’t while “not my style” flat out says, “I don’t like it.”

“Of course it’s not your style. Are you a teenage girl?” As far as the language I said, “I hear teenagers talk like this all the time.”

“Doesn’t mean I want to read it,” Seb answered.

After a night’s (non)rest I mulled over the cussing and think Seb might have a point.

I love cursing, but don’t particularly enjoy hearing it from kids.

C.C. Hunter, who wrote the Shadow Falls series, uses “crappers” in her books and it sounds really cute. 

Stacey Wallace Benefiel, author of the Zellie WellsTrilogy, offered helpful advice. She said the language was more noticeable in my novella for our Death by Chocolate anthology. (Add it to your bookshelf at goodreads!) “I guess since the story is shorter, it’s more blatant.”

I dropped the first f-bomb on page one. Stacey suggested removing the opening curse. “Over the course of a novel, I’d say I wouldn’t even notice it.”  

I liked her advice that my adult character (Adrian, 22) could cuss all he wants – he’s an adult.

“I have cuss words in my YA novels, more than some people are used to and I have gotten some weird reviews because of it...but that's how kids talk, most kids I think. I've always had a potty mouth, so it doesn’t bother me.”

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cover Reveal

Thanks to Najla Qamber for designing ENTANGLED's book cover. Not only is Naj talented, she is a true joy to work with. You can check out her design site here

Special thanks to Bob Friel for his feedback and suggestions. Bob’s book on the Barefoot Bandit releases March 20th. Stay tuned for his cover reveal (the one on amazon isn’t the real cover.)

See Naj’s post about Entangled on her book review site: Unputdownable Books.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Down with Cupid!

This week’s guest post at YA Stands was about my big end-of-year Screw Up on my novel’s timeline.

In short: I mixed up my sister’s birthday, February 9th, with Valentine’s Day.

The chronology was so meticulously planned, I ended up having to bag Valentine’s Day as Death Day (which would have been awesome – Val sucks!) and have her die on the 9th.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Now What Do You Think?

(1-7-11 Update: Just added the 3rd Gaga picture in a nice blue cast.)

Gratitude times affinity to everyone who lent their 2 cents here and on FaceBook.

I swear choosing a cover is more stressful than writing that actual book. I fear the wrong choice could kill my career as an indie author before it ever gets started.

Stats thus far:

In favor of Tombstone: 12

In favor of Gaga: 10

I had all but decided on Gaga, the girl with rose, because her votes came from published authors, book reviewers, designers and/or artists – not to mention readers of this particular genre: My Target Audience.

Then I received a follow-up email from a friend who has worked in publishing all his life, and he brought up a couple key points, which I’ll share for writers out there going this route:

1)      It's very important to look at the covers in situ... how they'll look when presented to readers. We had a full newsstand built in our magazine office just to put our potential cover mockups up there to see how they popped against the competition.

2)      Do people see small covers on a b&w kindle screen? If so, then definitely the contrast of the dark sky tombstone cover works 100% better. That will most likely work better small even if it's in color. The Gaga cover probably works better only when people can see the image large enough to see her eyes and facial expression...

I shrunk the mockups and tossed them in with some covers from Amazon’s Top 10 bestsellers in Children’s eBooks to get a better idea of how they’ll appear to browsers.

Suggestions? I could ask Naj to add color to Tombstone or enlarge Gaga girl so she takes up more of the cover.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Help Me Choose a Cover

I’ve hired the talented (and wonderful to work with) Najla Qamber to design the cover of my YA Paranormal Romance ENTANGLED. (Book One of Three.) This is a dark comedy with magical elements.

I’m attached to both covers. The most important question I have to ask myself is: Which one would sell more copies?

I also want a good representation of the book: YA Paranormal, Dark, Death, Magic

Each cover conveys parts of these elements. Cover One (Tombstone), my personal favorite, has the overcast sky, which is always the case in the book, the main character even goes by the name “Gray.” 

Cover Two (the one my husband calls the Lady Gaga Cover) looks magical. Even the white rose is appropriate as she dies around Valentine’s Day and white represents death.

My initial reaction was that Lady Gaga would Grab Attention – way more than Tombstone. But does grabbing attention necessarily equate to sales? I’ve seen plenty of catchy book covers, admired them then moved on.

I think Tombstone is more intriguing, but again, the real question is: Which cover would motivate online browsers to read the blurb and potentially purchase?

One quick share I just received from an author friend I consulted with: “There are a couple of design elements that mark One as a quick web photocomposite instead of a real book cover. Turnoff for me, but maybe that's fine for Ebooks, I don't know since I've seen very few of them. As a concept, I like One's storytelling. Two is more eye catching, though.”

A Resurrection Spell Gone Wrong

Two months after dying, Graylee Perez wakes up in her identical twin sister, Charlene’s body.

As the daughter of a witch, can anyone blame her mother for attempting to bring her back to life? Only now Gray’s stuck sharing her sister’s body 50/50 in 24 hour shifts.

The race is on for Gray to find a way back into her body before Charlene purges her from existence.

Warlock Raj McKenna is rumored to meddle in the black arts, not to mention he’s after Gray’s invisibility spell and worse – her heart. But Raj might be the only one powerful enough to save Gray from fading away forever. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Free Book for an Island Bum

Thank you Keren at Gothic Angel Book Reviews for choosing this Island Bum as the winner of Kiersten White’s Supernaturally

Karen took pity on an out-of-work book lover who has time on her hands for reading, but no book budget.

I loved the first novel in the series, Paranormalcy. The book covers are personal favorites.

Off to the library tomorrow!