Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Going on Hiatus for the Great California College Tour


            First, I’d like to say how thankful I am for all your support during the last week.  I’m blown away by the fact that so many of you read my entire last post, as long as it was.  I received more comments than ever, so I think I must have struck a chord.  Several of my friends here on Blogger ran similar posts about blogging and what it’s meant for them.  Some have reassessed the amount of time they devote to blogging so they can get back to the real reason they are even here in the first place:  writing their novel.
Yes, blogging takes a great deal of time, not just writing an interesting post, but also devoting time to your loyal followers.  After all, we’d be next to nothing without them.  I’ve been a tad neglectful of my own for the last week and for that, I apologize.  Some of you know why, but most do not, and, frankly, I’m a bit leery of sharing the reason outright for fear I will jinx myself.  It’s happened before, God knows.  I open my mouth in excitement and the next thing I know, devastating disappointment.  So I’ve learned not to get my hopes up and I truly don’t think anything will come of it this time around either, but I can’t help but be hopeful.  To that effect, I need a diversion to get my mind off things.  Lucky for me, I already have just the thing.
You see, my sixteen-year-old son and I are leaving in two days for what we call The Great California College Tour.  In one year, he will be off to college.  He hates it here in Western Washington.  Can’t say I blame him.  It rains a lot here in Seattle.  And I mean A LOT!  When it’s not raining, it’s usually cloudy and way too cold for our tastes.  We are, after all, from sunny, warm California, and my son dearly wants to return there to attend college.  So for the last fourteen days of August, we will be touring twelve universities, from San Diego to Santa Rosa.  That’s 12 colleges in 14 days, plus a family wedding.  YIKES!
Needless to say, I will be very busy and so I’ll likely not have any time to write or post here.  I suppose I could use the time to re-energize my blog writing, come up with some new and interesting topics.  I’ve been quite distracted lately with blogfests, awards and such, what I lovingly call fluff.  I think it’s time I get back to some serious writing.
I’ve also completely finished my last novel.  That’s right, I finally no longer feel the need to revise, at least not until I hear back from a few gatekeepers.  Fingers crossed they even give me feedback.  That’s all I’m really hoping for at this point.  But this time away will be a much needed distraction so I can regroup and focus on my next book.  I hope to do some character sketches and work on my outline.  Unfortunately, I don’t feel the same inspiration this time around like I did with my first novel.  Nobody’s whispering in my ear this time, so that means this will be work.  That scares me. 
I might write a few posts on our college tour progress, maybe post a few pictures of the beautiful campuses we will be visiting, that is if I can figure out how to upload remotely.  In the mean time, I will do my best to visit you all from time to time, post a comment or two when I can.  But please know that if I do not, it’s only because I am devoting all of my time to helping my son make the most important decision of his young life thus far.  I can honestly say I will miss blogging.  As much of a chore as I’ve always thought of it, it’s also been the one way in which I reach out and connect with others like myself.  That has meant more to me than any of you will ever know.  Thanks for that, and I hope you come back and visit with me again after my hiatus.  God bless you all!                     

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Networking, Blogging and Other Fluff


(Disclaimer:  I apologize up front for this brutally long post,
but I had a lot to say.)

It’s four in the morning and I can’t sleep.  That’s not to say I didn’t get a couple hours of shut eye early on, because I did, but then I got all hot and rolled over and I let my mind sift through a few things from the day before and wham, there was no going back to dream land.  It wasn’t entirely unexpected.  Yesterday was a big day for me and I was still running on its fumes.  More importantly, three different things happened to me yesterday that, at first, seemed totally unrelated, but when I lay in bed, unable to shut my mind off from yesterday’s excitement, I realized that these three events were all, in fact, closely related.
            I will take these events out of order.  First, I received an email from a friend, someone I met online last year, someone who was like my third or fourth follower back when I was a newb.  I ‘ve gotten to know her relatively well through her blog postings and her comments on my posts.  She even recently asked me to critique some of her first chapters of her WIP, which I consider to be a real honor because she immensely talented.  Anyway, she wrote me and asked if I thought blogging was a waste of time, aside from meeting new people I like.  She said she didn’t quite see the purpose of it.  Well, even though I was in the middle of an important revision, I felt the need to write her a quick note because I do, indeed, think blogging is worth it.
            See, I wrote a book last year and I didn’t know the first thing about writing.  So when I was done with my first draft, I jumped online and started researching all those things we writers research when we’ve written a book, like how to format, how to query, building a platform, and finding critique partners.  This brought me to Nathan Bransford’s website where I garnered all sorts of delicious facts and tidbits on all things writing.  More important, I posted a notice in one of his forums asking for a critique partner.  That’s how I found Lisa Regan. 
            Lisa and I started working closely together, critiquing each other’s manuscripts and a true and wonderful friendship was born.  This was also about the time I started my blog.  I didn’t know the first thing about blogging and, frankly, I found it a real chore, but I kept on finding something new to post about and every time I did, Lisa was there to cheer me on.  Then I managed to sneak a new follower in every once in awhile, which inspired me to keep moving forward.  During all this time, I was trolling the blogosphere and meeting new writer friends.
At times, my motive was not entirely pure.  I was feeling rather unpopular and felt the need to swell my follower army just to feel halfway good about my progress, but I wasn’t always a good follower myself.  So I started focusing on making connections instead of collecting friends.  Once I did that, I stopped being consumed with my stats, how many hits I was getting or followers I was adding.  I must admit, I’m still a comment whore.  I can’t help it.  I simply love to receive comments from people, whether they follow me or not, because it feels like I’m truly connecting with someone.  And that’s what I love most.
Part of the reason I even wrote a book was because I was lonely and bored.  I had moved to a new town, one I didn’t particularly fit in well with, where it was difficult to crack into the established cliques and make friends.  So when I made these connections through the blogs, whether it was through mine or someone else’s, it really felt like I had made a friend.  And while I usually kept my two social networks separate—Blogger and Facebook—I started pulling a few of my Blogger friends into my Facebook realm, which is much more personal.  That meant within Blogger, I had started meeting and connecting with a few folks on a very personal level.  I was feeling rather fulfilled. 
But more than fulfillment, these connections were actually helping me both be a better writer and advancing my career.  While ultimately nothing came of it, Lisa did refer me to her agent so I had a chance at pitching my novel to an honest to God gatekeeper.  Alas, that was probably eight months before my manuscript was really ready to be pitched, but good or bad, I learned a lot.  And I was eternally grateful to Lisa for believing in me and giving me that chance.
I recently met another wonderful writer, (God, I want to say her name, but that might not be cool with her so…) one who was further on her journey than just about anyone else I’d met so far.  She was both agented and under contract with a publisher and her book was just about to hit the shelves.  I was thrilled to have met her.  She was friendly and knowledgeable, and did I mention friendly?  Yeah, I really liked her.  Then I won a copy of her book.  Now this wasn’t the first time I’d won a copy of someone’s book, but I felt a real connection with her since she, like me and Lisa, wrote adult thrillers.  Better yet, she lived only about an hour or so away from me.  And better still, she was relatively new to the area and understood my difficulties with making friends in a community where the weather was so bad, folks just can’t stand out on the street and chat much with their neighbors.
After receiving her book, we emailed a few times and decided to meet in person and have lunch.  That was a bout the best damn lunch date ever!  I loved hearing all about how she wrote and polished her book, how she queried and landed her agent, and all the interesting things that go into obtaining and negotiating a publishing contract.  It was like meeting my idol and I wanted to be just like her, in a professional sense that is.
I dream about little else other than landing an agent and someday being published.  I’m sure she realized this and graciously referred me to her agent, letting me know she was cool with me dropping her name, if need be.  (Boy, did I ever!)  That was another toenail in the door, my second.  So, even though I was on query hiatus until September, with my friend egging me on, I jumped right on that and queried her agent that very day using what I like to call my new and improved Robin Query, aptly named after Robin Weeks, who critiqued my query during a contest in July.
That was Monday, two days ago.  Now, I don’t want to go into all the details, but things are looking up for me, at least today.  While I have no illusions, I am hopeful.
My point to all this is that blogging has put me in touch with some wonderful people, people who have helped me polish my novel, who’ve taught me how to writer better, who’ve inspired me to write a better query, and who’ve helped me make connections that ultimately got my book out there under the noses of those who matter.  Most importantly, I’ve met people who keep me moving forward, even in the face of repeated devastating rejection.  Simply put, I could not do this without my friends and followers here on Blogger.  So is it worth it?  You bet it is!

I did mention three things, didn’t I?  Well, the third was a blog award I received from Nicole Pyles over at The World of My Imagination.  Thank you, Nicole!  This is further proof that blogging is worth the time and effort.  Awards like these introduce bloggers and bring them new followers, always a nice thing! 



This is the third award I’ve received recently and I am most honored.  I must admit though that I feel like I’ve been neglecting my writerly duties since accepting my first award and participating in blogfests and penty memes and such, which is probably why I’m burying this at the end of a way-too-long blog post, but I do want to thank Nicole and do my duty as a recipient.  Having said that, other than supposedly being “versatile,” I’m not quite sure what this award is for, but here are the rules:

1.      Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them (check)
2.      Share seven things about yourself  (ugh!)
3.      Pass this award onto other recently discovered blogs.  (see below)


Seven things, huh?  Okay, here goes:

1.      I live in a town I can’t stand filled with rich snobby people, but it’s so beautiful here I just can’t make myself leave…yet!

2.      I am an interior designer who has no formal training in creative writing, but I love to do it just the same, and I don’t think I’m half bad.  Of, course, I’m probably not half good either. 

3.      I have two dogs, Jack, a Malamute, and Maleah, a Husky, and they are two of my very best friends who manage to keep me sane with their unconditional love.

4.      I miss California, especially San Francisco, since moving here nearly 7 years ago.  

5.      I’ve never actually met my very best friend in person.  She lives nearly 3000 miles away and we “chat” nearly everyday via email, Facebook, or texting.

6.      I’ve been with the same man for over 28 years, married over 20 of those, and have been gifted with an intelligent, articulate, ambitious son who brings me joy every day.

7.      And in one week, my 16 year-old son and I are leaving for a 2-week long College Road Tour Trip back to California.  I’m exhausted already just planning it!        

Now for the passing of the torch:  I’m going to mention some blogs I haven’t awarded or highlighted before since we all need a little recognition to help swell our armies.

1.      McKenzie McCann of The Ubiquitous Perspective because she is a smart, sassy teenager who knows entirely too much.

2.      The East Coaster at Published in a Year because she’s ambitious as hell.  Have you seen how many WIPs she has?  Like five!

3.      An Alleged Author because she’s a great supporter and this is one award she hasn’t received yet!

4.      Robin Weeks because she rocks!  I just love her.  She gives great advice, and did I mention she helped me write a kickass query?  Yeah, baby!

5.       Kimberly Krey at The Write View because I just dig her blog.


Whew, over 1800 words, that’s a record!  Thanks for your patience!  
                   

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Hook for Your Book Contest


My BFF, Lisa L. Regan, was approached last week by former journalist and fellow blogger, Melodie Wright over at Forever Rewrighting to give an interview for her How I Snagged My Agent feature. She was quite flattered and readily agreed because she thinks her feature is a great idea. You should check out the last interview with YA author, Becky Wallace. Her blog has a lot of great stuff on it so check it out!

Together with the interview, they are going to be having a Hook for Your Book contest which will be judged by Lisa’s agent, Jeanie Pantelakis of Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency.

So here are the particulars:

To Enter:

You must be a follower of
 Lisa’s blog and provide a link to either a tweet or a blog post spreading the word about this contest.

You must have a completed novel. Your novel MUST be finished to enter this contest.

Write a 50 word paragraph that is the hook for your book. Basically pitch your book in fifty words.

Post your 50 word pitch in the comments section of
Lisa’s blog with a TITLE and your contact info before August 22nd.

If I were going to enter (alas, for obvious reasons, I cannot), mine would look like this:

The Mistaken

Vengeance tastes sweet when Skylar Karras pledges his wife's killer to sex-traffickers in the Russian Mafia.  In exchange for the woman, they’ll let his brother leave the business for good.  But when Sky mistakenly targets the wrong woman, he’s forced to protect them all from the very enemy he's unleashed.

Nancy S. Thompson
Email:  acadia1997@msn.com

Jeanie will choose three finalists. They will be announced on both
Lisa’s and Melodies’s blogs on August 29, 2011.

The finalists will send her a synopsis of their book as well as their full manuscript. From those three finalists, Jeanie will choose one manuscript and that manuscript will get a full read and a possible contract with Sullivan Maxx.

Please spread the word. This is a great opportunity for writers looking for an agent. You’ve got till August 22nd. If you have any questions please post them in Lisa’s comments or email her directly at duchessmalfi@hotmail.com.

Oh and Lisa’s interview will be up on Melodie’s blog on August 12, 2011.




And one last thing:  If you need cheering up in light of the downgrading of the US government’s AAA credit rating and subsequent slide of the stock market, please venture over to Penwasser Place.  He’ll get you rolling on the floor with laughter.  


Friday, August 5, 2011

Panty Meme (WTF?)


One of my dearest and earliest followers, Laila Knight, over at the Untroubled Kingdom of Laila Knight, has thrown me a…uh…challenge, of sorts.  Apparently, it’s Meme Week in the blogosphere.  Well, not only did I not know this, I didn’t even know what a meme was.  I had to ask my sixteen-year-old son.  He said it’s something that people do, a behavior, that’s passed from person to person.  Yeah, okay, that’s clear as mud, but whatever.  I’m an elder idiot, so I’ll just follow the rules and answer the questions, and boy, are they doozies.  Here we go:

1. What do you call your panties / underwear / undergarments? Do you have any commonly used nicknames for them?

Do people really have nicknames for their underwear?  Well, that’s what I call mine, underwear.  And I must say that I’ve always hated that word “panties.”  Eeesh.  It’s just so creepy.  Weird, I know.  I couldn’t even use the term in my book.  I used undergarments since it was spoken by a man. 

2. Have you ever had that supposedly common dream of being in a crowded place in only your underwear?

No, not in my underwear.  For whatever reason, I’m almost always buck nekkid.  And, you know what?  I don’t really seem to give a damn.  So what the heck does that say about me? 

3. What is the worst thing you can think of to make panties out of?

Red meat.  Have you seen any of those Lady Gaga outfits?  Yeah, she wears red meat.  So gross!

4. If you were a pair of panties, what color would you be, and WHY?

Oh, that’s easy.  Black!  It’s such a sexy, sultry color and makes me look thinner.  And that’s always a very good thing!

5. Have you ever thrown your panties/underwear at a rock star or other celebrity? If so, which one(s)? If not, which one(s) WOULD you throw your panties/underwear at, given the opportunity?

I’ve never understood why women do this.  Why would a man you did not know want your underwear?  And why would you want a strange man to have your underwear?  Again, that’s kind of gross.  Besides, at my age, after bearing two children naturally…uh…yeah…nobody would want my underwear.  Even I don’t want them. Blech!   

6. You’re out of clean panties. What do you do?

Well, I have OCD so I’d never be out of clean underwear, but if I were, I’d be sticking those little pads all over my pants.

7. Are you old enough to remember Underoos? If so, did you have any? Which ones?

I’m old enough to remember just about everything, so yes, but I thought those were mostly for boys.  Anyway, my mother never would have bought something like that for me.  I was Catholic, for Christ’s sake. 

8. If you could have any message printed on your panties, what would it be?

Oh, God, I could be really bad here, but I’ll be tame and say “Just Do It”

9. How many bloggers does it take to put panties on a goat?

(God, who thinks up this stuff?)  Well, my answer would be 153.  That’s one to write the instructions, one to critique, another to query, and 150 to reject.  

So now I guess I it’s my turn to pass along the torch.  Normally, the first people I would tag would be Lisa Regan and Bryce Daniels, but they’ve already received the honor from the other person I’d normally tag, Laila Knight, so I’m going out on a limb and selecting a few of my other followers because reading about their personal panty preferences will certainly help me get to know them better.

  1.  Al Penwasser at Penwasser’s Place because he’s already the funniest guy I know so I can’t wait to read what his witty responses will be.  Plus, he went above and beyond when he posted about receiving the Liebster Blog Award from me.  If you want to laugh, go check out Al.

  1. Tara Rendall at More Than Fiction because she and I have become good friends and good friends always embarrass each other.

  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh at Alex J. Cavanaugh because he’s so cool and hip and smart and is always there for me.

  1. L.G. Smith at Bards and Prophets because I want to hear what a real lady has to say.

  1. Donna K. Weaver at Weaving a Tale or Two because, like Alex, she’s always there for me and I really want to get to know her…uh…panties (ugh) a little better.

There is one more I’d love to hear from.  She’s my new friend, Jenny Hillier at Jennifer Hillier, The Serial Killer Files.  I’m almost afraid to ask because she’s a real life, bonafide published author and has to protect her image.  But she’s also witty and funny, so I’d love to see what she comes up with.

So, my friends, here’s your chance to unbunch those panties (ugh again) and have a little fun. 





Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hey You, Over Here, Look At Me!


            I’ve been crazy busy for the last week and am waaaay behind in my blogging duties, both in reading and in writing, but it hasn’t been from a lack of desire.  I’ve actually been quite anxious to make today’s post since I was nominated for The Liebster Blog Award by not one follower, but by three!    

  
The first came in last Friday by the lovely L.G. Smith over at Bards and Prophets, a delightful blog I’ve been following for quite some time now.  The second nod came on Saturday from my new friend, Robin Weeks, a talented writer I met during last month’s Gearin’Up To Get an Agent Blogfest.  She critiqued my query and I was BLOWN AWAY by her skills!  And the last one was from one of my newest followers, Jessie Humphries over at  B-Word
The goal of the award is to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers. 

The rules of the award are:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

            I love the idea of this award because it’s supposed to increase the traffic on your blog and hopefully garner more followers.  So here are my nominations for The Liebster Blog Award:

Lisa L. Regan – I have countless reasons to nominate Lisa.  She’s my best friend and writing soul mate, the best critique partner anyone could ever want, and she’s written two fantastic books, both out on submission with all the major publishers.  This girl is crazy talented.  And she is brand-spanking new to Blogger, so she could use your support.  Do yourself a favor and check out her blog.

Al Penwasser – I don’t know Al well personally, but his blog is one of the funniest ones out there.  I visit Al when I need a good laugh and smack upside the head to make me take life a little less seriously.  His insights are both touching and hilarious.  So if you ever need cheering up, go see Al. 

Laila Knight  - Laila, one of my earliest followers, is a precious jewel.  She’s a talented writer, she’s funny, quirky and posts everyday.  Yes, everyday!  I don’t know how she does it, but everyday she offers her unique perspective on new topics, mostly about writing and sometimes about sexy loves scenes.  Very steamy.  Very hot!  That’s my Laila!

 Lora Rivera  - I haven’t known Lora for very long.  She’s another terrific writer I met during my last blogfest.  Her blog is filled with all things writing which I love, love, love.  Mostly, I admire her talent.  She was one of my finalists as a judge in last month’s blogfest.  The first 200 words of her novel were incredible and I just wanted to keep reading.

 Jeff King  - I love Jeff’s blog because I can exactly relate to where he is in his writing career and all the questions and turmoil he experiences as he journeys toward publication.  And he is one of those followers who truly follows and comments on my inane posts.  He is every blogger’s dream follower, so do your self a favor and follow him.

And for an Honorable Mention:  Tara  at Much Ado About Writing - I love this girlie.  I met her through Rachelle Gardner's blog some months ago and she's become quite a good friend to me.  Now, she doesn't post very often, but I love reading when she does post, and I think if she had more followers, she'd feel compelled to grace us with her wisdom.  So please, head on over to Tara's and follow, if for no other reason than I'd like for her to write more often.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My First-Ever Book Review: CREEP


             I am going to attempt something I’ve never done before:  A book review.  Now, I have no skill in this department whatsoever, but what I lack in aptitude, I think I more than make up for with enthusiasm.
As an avid reader, I am constantly on the prowl for the next novel that will truly grab and shake me to my roots, something so good, I simply cannot put it down.  I rarely come across books that hit me on a visceral level and stay with me for long periods of time.  I think the last time a book affected me this way, I was reading my friend, Lisa Regan’s, book, Finding Claire Fletcher, but until some wise publisher out there picks it up, most of you will never know. 
I can, however, share a book with you that everyone has access to because Jennifer Hillier’s debut novel, Creep, is now widely available.  I won a copy of this book and Jennifer was kind and gracious enough to send me one personally signed, something I will always treasure.  I was very anxious to get started and did a happy dance when it finally arrived.  And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. 
In case you haven’t had the pleasure, here is the inside jacket copy:

IF HE CAN'T HAVE HER . . .

Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behavior. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren't, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she's engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she's taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won't let her walk away.

. . . NOBODY ELSE CAN.

Ethan has plans for Sheila, plans that involve posting a sex video that would surely get her fired and destroy her prestigious career. Plans to make her pay for rejecting him. And as she attempts to counter his every threatening move without her colleagues or her fiancĂ© discovering her most intimate secrets, a shattering crime rocks Puget Sound State University: a female student, a star athlete, is found stabbed to death. Someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex, and blackmail…and before she knows it, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with the lover she couldn't resist—who is now the monster who won't let her go.

*

            Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?  Well, it is.  Very much so.  I love a good villain, probably more than the average protagonist.  I think they’re juicy and fascination, and Hillier’s Ethan did not disappoint.  From an older woman’s perspective, I found it intriguing that the nearly forty-year-old protagonist, Sheila, has a torrid affair with a hot twenty-something collegiate.  (Hey, one can dream, right?)  And I didn’t find fault that he reacted badly when Sheila dumps him after getting engaged to someone else.  But Ethan is a very bad boy and just can’t handle the rejection.  So he decides to get even.  And things heat way, way up.
I don’t want to give anything away because it’s the not-knowing-what-comes-next that kept me up way past my bedtime and sitting inside on the first beautifully sunny, warm day Seattle has seen is nearly a year.  Creep is loaded with sexual tension that grips and holds you in place, yet it is masterfully executed without being crass.  It’s both scary and sexy.  So unsettling and terrifying.  And it’s a thrill ride right up until the very surprising end.
You will definitely not regret picking this book up, except for the fact that once you do, you won’t be able to put it down.  So make sure you have a good long day to put everything else aside.           
      
         

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Do You Know, I'm a Judge!



I had planned on making a standard post today, but I will have to put it off while I participate in week 4 of Deana Barnhart's  Gearin' Up To Get An Agent Blogfest.  This week is the First 200 Words Novel Critique and Contest, but instead of being a regular participant, I am a judge!  How cool is that?  Pretty cool, I think.

So while I thought to take the week off from reading then commenting on the first 200 words of 40 different participating novelists, now I am  reading and judging those critical first words.  I don't really feel worthy, but I will give it my best shot.  And how exciting to get a first glimpse at some extraordinary novels!