Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Funny Things Kids Say- Christmas Edition

Snow is falling with a gentle pitter patter outside that sounds like the whole world is saying, "Hush!" Even me, who has a very strong love-hate relationship with the white stuff, can't help but see it and think of Christmas.

Not that I have gotten any of my decorations up yet. This is the oddball year all around. Where usually my decorations go up the day after Halloween, this year I told the kids we were cleaning the attic first...

So it is the day before December hits and still no tree.

But this hasn't stopped the kids from getting in the spirit of things. They made letters to Santa last night.

Previous years have gotten me some memorable letters to the fat red home invader. For instance, David one year asked Santa to help his grandpa walk again (the year my dad had his stroke) and last year David asked for cornbread. After opening an amazing amount of presents (including things like a telescope...) David still looked sort of sad and lost. I asked him what was wrong.

"Santa forgot the cornbread."

So I know when the letters come out that I am in for a giggle.

This year, JFAB asked Santa to send one of his evil elves (Who knew he had evil elves?) to come down and take care of the dog that keeps crapping on her bike. Y'see, as she explained to the man in red, she knows it isn't her dog doing it. The crap is the wrong size.

(She also asked for a new house for her mom because her mom needed a study and an ipad. Smart kiddo, that one.)

Justice asked for a spiked leather collar, a flaming skull hoodie and a skirt with skulls on it. The scary child doesn't fall far from the scary tree?

Ash wrote this:

Dear Santa,
Can you please get me some stuff please? You do not have to but it would be really nice if you did. Here is a list if you would like to/
1. Lego's (any kind but I suggest the big stuff)
2. Amazon Kindle (Note from mom: Yes, he wrote Amazon. Smart shoppers, my kids)
3. PSP
4. PSP games
5. Sonic Screwdriver
6. Webkinz
7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (Look at my shelves and not those ones.)
8. Lego Dr. Who Tardis
9. Phineas and Ferb Soundtrack and Movie
10. Acen Figures (Mom translation: Action figures)
Thank you, your friend and believer
(And then he drew a cartoon at the bottom with Santa, a tree and Santa is telling the kids to have a good day. Less disturbing than JFAB's sunbathing hairy Santa on vacation after Christmas...)

David cracked me up, as usual.
David's Christmas List (This was the header on the page)
1. Amazon Kindle
2. Slappy (mom note: this is a ventriloquist dummy from Goosebumps books)
3. Sonic screwdriver (11th Doctor)
4. Legos (any)
5. Comic books (any Marvel)
6. Walking Dead comics
7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (last straw)
8. Freddy Kruger Figure
9. Origami book
10. Scary books on Kindle (Stephen King)
11. Bakugon
Merry Christmas Santa. Tell the elves hi and say hi to the halflings if they exist. Have a nice day and don't hurt yourself on the way down.
P.S. Please send a letter back explaining how you go down the chimney please!!!
(Below all this there is a cartoon with an elf yelling ABORT ABORT!! We got A WAKER!! and a child with eyes literally popping from his head screaming AHHHH THERE IS A MAN IN MY CHIMNEY!! while Santa's butt is sticking out of a chimney with the words HO HO HO floating down in a cartoon bubble. The whole scene is made merry with a tree topped with a star.)

All in all... I love kids and Christmas.
Happy Holidays all. And may your kids amuse you as much as mine do me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The price of fame...

I realized last night that I forgot to cover this in the query letter blog or in any of my previous writing tips and tricks blogs so I figured I should... If for no other reason than to be all inclusive.

So how much should I pay for the publisher to read my book?

A reader fee is what some agents/publishers used to charge authors to read their books. Nowadays, this is a scam. I have never in my entire career been asked to pay anyone to read a word that I wrote. Nor would I willingly pay someone to read it. The reason I haven't paid- I did my homework. Reading fees are not charged by most legit houses/agents. So how much should you pay? In my opinion- Nothing.

Okay, if that part is free, how much should I pay for book doctoring?

For starters, a publisher is not going to charge you for edits. If a publisher contracts your work, an editor will be included in most contracts. It pays for the publisher, if they are going to throw their name on the top of your book, to make sure that it is in the best possible shape that it can be in so they usually are very happy to supply their own editor to make sure that it is up to their standard. That said, it isn't a terrible idea for you to go ahead and make sure that your book is in the best possible shape that it can be in before it gets to the hands of said publisher to ensure that you GET the contract. Whether your work just needs looked over by a couple of critique partners with sharp eyes and bloody pens or you need to hire an editor to do this... that depends on you. There are good editors out there doing freelance work. Book doctors are a whole different realm and no publisher that I have ever heard of that was not pulling some sort of scam charged for editing. If they tell you that you need to pay for edits, do some homework before you sign that contract.

Well, how much do I pay the publisher for my cover art?

The publisher pays for that, too. It should all be in your contract and if you read the submission guidelines on the publisher you are interested in, most of them are pretty upfront about their terms and conditions. Again, it is in the publishers best interest to control this because their name is going on this book. If they allowed every author to have control of the cover art, they couldn't keep a company standard. It only makes sense from their point of view to have the cover art be in their realm.

So what do I pay for if I get a contract with a publisher?

Some marketing. It would be good to put up ads on some of the sites that promote and sell books like yours, for instance, although I am sure your publisher will be doing this as well. Running contests (so giving away copies of your work or gift cards/baskets) and buying some marketing supplies is always a good idea (think mugs, magnets, things of this nature...). But the actual nuts and bolts (reading the book, editing, cover art), this is the stuff that they do.

What about self publishing?

Ah-ha. This means you take on all of it. You pay someone to edit it. You pay whatever charges are entailed in copyrighting your work, publishing it on the venues you are making it available on... buying cover art and marketing. You own the book, the art, the rights and therefore stand to make all the profit when it rolls in. But the reason you are in the position to make all the profit is because you did all the work.

The purpose of this blog was that someone had told me that publishing with a publisher was very expensive and I just wanted to point out that like everything else... Do your research. There are people out there that will happily take your money if you don't know that you don't have to give it to them. There are also really good companies out there, completely on the up and up, working hard to help authors. But you can't tell them apart without knowing what to look for.

Some other resources:
Nathan Bransford's blog on Book Doctors
Writers Beware
Preditors and Editors

Monday, November 28, 2011

Query Letter 101

Since I am back out there, sending submissions out, I remembered that this was a topic that I hadn't yet covered on the blog. Here goes.


Scary stuff. Okay, I am lying. I don't really find it scary anymore. But I remember back when I sent my first query it was some heavy duty stress. Did I do it right? I actually had to look up WHAT a query was before I could write my first one. I mean, it means question, I knew. But in the publishing world, how was I, lowly wannabe writer, supposed to know what was supposed to be in a good one?

I researched people who knew what the hell they were talking about, at length, and recommend you doing that as well before you THINK about sending one out. My earliest queries, even with all my self assigned homework, were terrible. And I had read from some of the best (I followed Nathan Bransford's blog, Kristen Nelson's, I read Janet Evanovich's How I Write and read every sample I could get my eyes on.)

But they were still AWFUL.

Do I have it down now? Meh. I am not too shabby. And I am not scared of writing them. And you shouldn't be either.

What is a query?

A query is a letter to a publisher or a literary agent. It's a one page introduction to your work and you. It is sort of the letter version of, "Hello, there. I am Sam. I write books!" And if you send that out to an agent or publisher and they reject you, yeah, don't blame me. There is more. In one page you have to manage to blurb your book, blurb your writing credentials (if you have any) or why you think you are a good person to have written this book, and the vital statistics of the book. IN ONE PAGE. No one is going to read a seven page query. Not that I have heard of. If you find someone willing to read seven pages of query, please correct me in the comment section below.

But they want a synopsis, too?

They sure do. The synopsis is one or two pages about your book. Picture the bit about your book in the query letter as the part of the iceburg sitting above the water. They understand that most of the iceburg is under the water. But if you want them to strap on some diving gear and go into below freezing water to see it, that bit in the query better be good. Consider it like the blurb on the back of the book. Does it capture the reader? Sum up the basic premise and tone of your story in just a paragraph or two? If it doesn't, edit it.

But I don't have any writing credentials!

Do you think anyone does when they start? Probably starting your query letter out, "I have never written anything before but I sat down and wrote this bestseller that I know is going to not just become an international success but will become a blockbuster movie... and I have created the marketing on the dolls in advance, " is not going to win you any bonus points with an editor/agent. So don't. Be honest but you don't have to tell them you are so new at this that the shine hasn't worn off the bottoms of your shoes. Better to say something like, "I have been an avid reader and writer my entire life. This story was inspired by my years as a fry cook which were some of the most greasy anyone can ever dream of. I took creative writing courses for three years at Yada Yada University and am also a legal assistant which led to my vast knowledge of all things legal and assistant-y." If you are honest, even if your credentials are not that you spent five years sitting on the bestsellers list, you will not irk the person reading the query. Irking them is not good. But giving them reason to think you knew all about alien fry cooks that worked by day as legal assistants that you wrote about... That is okay.

You mentioned vital statistics...

I did. Yes, thanks for bringing that up. You need to include, at some point in this query, the meat and bones of what you are trying to get them to buy.

For example: Greasy Accountants, a sexy paranormal legal suspense, is a 90k manuscript. Although it includes elements of comedy when the aliens are working their night jobs as fry cooks, it is intended as a legal suspense-type story and has a strong murder mystery at it's core.

In that little bit (which, please, don't write a book about an alien legal assistant fry cook... this is me trying to give you examples. And I am leading with a bad example... sorry.) I managed to give you the genre of the story, the word count and any crossover elements. This is the meat and potatoes kind of stuff.

Can you give me an example?

Why sure! But I am making up another fake plot because I am sick of the alien fry cook legal assistant one. Okay, here goes:


Mr. Agent Publisherguy,

On the bitter cold streets of Juno, crime has a name. Robert Badguy has plagued the night, searching for women to slake his thirst and leaving a trail of bodies in his wake for more than a century. Hardboiled detective, Janice Goodcop, thinks she is close to solving the mystery. A new man in her life attempts to distract her from her case but she is too good of a cop for that. When a blizzard hits and she is holed up in a dingy cabbage factory with Badguy, will she finally find what she has been searching for?

Or will Badguy slake his demonic thirst on the one woman who could have saved his soul and that of Juno?

Chilly Vampires is an 80k manuscript full of paranormal elements. The vampires in this tale don't sparkle, they chomp. It does have a few steamy sex scenes, so the genre is romance with paranormal elements.

I was the editor of my highschool newspaper and went on to college to become the head of our monthly publication, the University Magazine. After college, I got married and had two beautiful kids and have taken occasional creative writing courses at our community college, Community College. Now that the kids have grown, I have returned to my first love, writing. I hope you enjoy Chilly Vampires. I attached the manuscript per your submission guidelines as well as a two page synopsis.

Nina Writer

That simple. And yes, that was all made up. Please don't make stuff up on YOUR query letter. And take your time. If they don't like this, they aren't going to read your synopsis and they will NEVER get to even your first paragraph in the actual book. So if you spend tons of time on ANYTHING... Make it your query letter. PLEASE. Edit and edit and reedit.

Some links I think you might find handy besides this one:
Nathan Bransford's How to Write A Query Letter
Kristen Nelson's Blog (Includes sample query letters that landed agents)
Query Tracker (a great site for finding and keeping track of who you are sending these to)

Happy writing!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sapphire Blue Closes its doors...

For almost three years, I have been excited to see this logo across the top of covers emblazoned with my name.

Now, in an instant, everything changed.

"For those of you who haven't heard, the official announcement happened this morning at 6:30am. Sapphire Blue Publishing is closing its doors."

This is a sad day. Sapphire Blue was the first one to give my writing a home. Through them, I met many amazing authors, editors and contacts in the publishing world that I wouldn't have been sure how to even deal with correctly if not for the wisdom and support that they were more than willing to offer.

I have branched out since then. I have other places I like to hang out as well. But it was always with the knowledge that I had my safe and cozy home at SBP and that if I had a question, there were a ton of people I could ask who wouldn't judge or think badly of me for asking.

Lucky for me... those people are still around.

But the ending of a company like this is sort of like a family breaking up. Having been a child of divorce, the feelings are quite similar. You can't control it. You can't stop it. It is scary.

I think that I will keep in touch with quite a few of my 'siblings' from the SBP family. That is the great thing that this company did. They united authors.

And with the usual class and grace that I have come to expect from all dealings with SBP, they reverted the rights to our work within an hour of notifying us that they were closing. There was no battle to get them back, no question of whether we would have to pay to get them back- Here. These are your books.

On top of that, SBP has granted us the use of our cover art. All in all, classy.

If I had it to do all over again, would I have chosen a house that was going to close this far into my career? Would I have risked it if I had known that they wouldn't be around as long as I plan to be?

YES. Because the experience was awesome. The people were amazing. The support was off the charts. This company did some really awesome things in its run. I was really lucky to have gotten to come along for the ride.

And to all of my 'siblings' from SBP who are feeling a little lost today and grieving...

Chin up! SBP picked you because they saw something awesome. Others will see it, too. For those of you who were newer, those of us who have been around a minute are still here for ya.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Resting with Dragons...

I know. I planned to do a week of book reviews.

But I don't know too many readers who aren't in some way affected by the death of Anne McCaffrey. If they weren't lovers of her vivid storytelling, her kickass lead female characters or her brilliant grasp of fantasy, they read authors who were influenced by Anne.

Generations have read and been swept away on the wings of Anne McCaffrey's dragons. I first discovered her as a kid because her books were next to Robin McKinley's... And she had such pretty covers.

The first book I read by her was Dragonflight. And I was hooked.

If you want a copy, you can find her on Amazon here. Or click on the cover art that caught my teenage eye.

The story was of Lessa. Lessa was in worse shape than Cinderella. She was ugly, scrawny, dirty and hated and no one talked to her but a scruffy beast on the roof.

Then a Dragonrider came along and cleaned her up and took her away from everything she knew.

When she bonds with a gold dragon, her whole world changes. Suddenly people care what she has to say. Suddenly she matters.

But will she manage to save her people?

See, the thing about Lessa was, unlike Cinderella, she wasn't grateful to F'lar (like Cinderella was to Prince Charming) to the point of being oblivious to the world around her. She was willing to go toe to toe with him if he was wrong.

She was willing to do what she thought was right, no matter what the cost.

But none of that meant that Lessa loved F'lar any less than Cinderella loved her Prince... It meant she loved him more.

McCaffrey reinforced the idea that McKinley had introduced: Love isn't about giving up who you are or what you believe in. It is about finding an equal, a partner, and together, even if you sometimes fought, you can do anything.

This author wrote nearly 100 books. She was the first woman to win a Hugo. The first to win a Nebula. The first to hit the NY Times Bestsellers list for a scifi title. (Tor did a lovely In Remembrance here.) To say that she was a legend isn't an exaggeration. To say that she was an inspiration is simply stating a fact.

To say that this is a sad day in literature... May be an opinion but I feel it is one that many share with me.

Rest in Peace, Anne. May you fly with the dragons that you filled my dreams with. May your words go on to touch the lives of many generations after mine.

Anne McCaffrey 1926-2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Week of Book Reviews: Day One

To celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to show my thankfulness for books.

Okay, and turkey. And stuffing. And crasins. Dude, crasins are freakin addictive. Just sayin.

But I digress. To show my thankfulness to books, I am going to treat you, my lovely blog readers, to a week of book reviews!!

(You can applaud. I wouldn't get mad.)

To start off this week, I am doing a series review rather than a book. Yes, more bang for your reading time.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

The first book in this series was City of Bones. You can go to the authors website and buy it here.

This book first caught my eye about a year ago but it got back burnered due to time constraints. I loved the cover art and had read some good reviews on it.

And then we got the audiobook and I was hooked on the series.

Clary Frae is a pretty ordinary girl. I liked that she was an artist and that her best friend, Simon, had a huge crush on her that she was cheerfully oblivious to. Clary lives with her single mother and has Luke, her mom's friend, as a male influence.

(Also loved that Clary was growing up in a non-traditional household. Loved.)

Clary is at a club when she sees a blue haired boy get stabbed (I think he had blue hair... it has been a minute since I read book one...) but no one believes her. The stabber in the incident, a drop dead gorgeous boy named Jace, pops back up because Clary shouldn't have been able to 'see' him.

Okay, paranormal stuff begins.

Turns out there is a whole world that we don't know about that functions within ours. A world of Shadowhunters and Demons and other good stuff. But all of this is set in the middle of the city. Which I loved. Loved.

So we move on to book two of the series.

City of Ashes picks up where City of Bones leaves off. You can pick up your copy here.

Without giving away spoilers, I will say that Clary's life has not returned to normal in the least. She has discovered that she is far from a normal girl but she has been lied to her whole life.

By her mom. Who is now in a coma so she STILL isn't giving up any answers.

She is no longer oblivious to Simon's feelings for her and is even trying out dating him to try to distract her from... other things.

Clary has also learned that the biggest bad guy out there... Evil walking on two feet... Is her dad.

Talk about things that will send you into counseling.

But Clary is pretty badass. She is not willing to sit around crying because boo-hoo daddy is an evil overlord possibly killing kids. Or boo-hoo my mommy lied to me and I don't know who I am...

Not our girl. Nope, she is out there, on the streets of New York, fighting the bad guys and sticking her nose right in the thick of the magic and mayhem. Love this character...

Book Three: City of Glass

Get your copy at the authors website here.

Again, we pick up where we left off. I liked that about this series... There was no long drawn out explaining of where we were or "In the last episode..." It was just-wham-back into the world.

Okay, so Clary is traveling back to her hometown but she has never been here in her entire memory so it is all really foreign to her. She knows she is a Shadowhunter but as to her culture, her people and their world... Yeah, she is just picking things up as she goes along.

Simon is thrown in prison and the good guys aren't acting like good guys. Jace and Clary are pinging off each other and feeling terrible for feelings they can't control... or stop. On top of that, both Jace and Clary are discovering all sorts of new powers that they never dreamed of having... But will these powers be enough to save them from Valentine?

This was meant to be the last book in the series. I am so happy to say that it wasn't. It isn't. There is more...

Book Four: City of Fallen Angels

Pick up your copy here!

The blurb given on the authors website told me NOTHING of what to expect on this one. I hoped, since I could see Clary and Simon on the cover, that the story would be about them.

I was happy to see that it was.

All was well when we left everyone at the end of City of Ashes. But like the last Harry Potter book, this seemed unbelievable to me. There was so much that these characters had dealt with... Are you seriously telling me that they went on and were fine? No PTSD? No other bad guys who are gonna pop up to try to balance out the good vs. evil thing since there are such obviously good guys out there?

Clare didn't leave me hanging. There are bad guys out there. They want to kick the asses of our good guys. Our good guys are still emotional wrecks because of the crap they got put through in the first three books. Yippee!!! Happy reader!!

All in all, here is my review of the series to date (because, yes, there are more books coming...Thank you Cassandra Clare. I thank you, my kids thank you. We all want to meet you, get your autograph and tell you how amazingly awesome you are...):

If you like paranormal books, you will love this. If you love snarky heroines who don't sit around and wait to be rescued, you will love this series. If you like hero's that act cocky but it is all to cover this super sweet core of niceness... You will love this series. If you like drama and sexy and scary all bundled in one book, you will love this series.

These books had the full package. We tried to read the Iron Fey series and were disappointed. (There was a lot of illogical stuff and it dropped us out of the world like a rock.) Our kids loved Jane True... and love snarky characters (they read the Twilight series but we were frustrated with Bella and her whining...simpering... and obsessiveness) who fall in love (but although it is young and somewhat obsessive love they are still DOING OTHER STUFF. They don't lay down and hope to die in a forest because the other one left... *ahem*) while there is adventure and plot twists at every turn...

These books delivered.

I cannot recommend this one enough (and if you follow me on facebook, you have probably heard me recommending them. At length. Repeatedly. To multiple people...) so I will leave you with...
Yes, Virg thinks these are good books. Sex is mentioned (So probably steer your six year old away...) but it isn't ever described and the main characters still haven't done anything (we are on page 325 of 424 of City of Fallen Angels so I guess they could rip their clothes off in the last few pages and have wild monkey sex with nipples flying and stuff... But I kind of doubt it.) major. So our tween and teen kids are happy (enough to keep them intrigued without being sex ed in a book... which we have encountered. *ahem* Wow. lol) I figured I would mention sex since our eyes about popped out of our heads when we were listening to Marked in the house of night and -bam- someone is in the hallway doing something... *ahem* and I had recommended that one for our girls...
And then the rest of the series had hardly any sex. These books are less than that, even. So if you were a fan of the House of Night series, yes. You will like this. If your kids were... Less sex ed. Less explaining about what characters would be doing on their knees... (and let me tell you, PC and Kristen Cast, I gotta thank you. The dialogue that me and the kids had after that scene... Priceless. I could have waited a few years for it but... *ahem* priceless.)

Okay, longest review in history here. But it was a series, right? *sigh*
Come back tomorrow for another review and remember, you can find this series by clicking on the book covers or the links provided.
Happy reading!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cha-Cha-Cha-Cha Cha-a-anges...

I was thinking this morning about who I am today and how I got to this point. It is amazing, if you stop to think about it, how people can come into your life and change the entire fabric of who you are, what you want out of life, and how you go about finding it.

Not that they have the ability to change the core 'you,' so to speak but they change how you look at the world around you and go about getting what it is that you may not have realized you wanted.

I am not going to name names so if you were looking for some random episode of True Confessions, perhaps you should stop reading now. But there were two distinct people who have touched my life and helped me become the virg of today.

One was a man. Yeah. I don't use the word man loosely either. I don't know many 'men.' I remember that when this particular guy started hanging around, I wanted nothing to do with him. The timing was all wrong for a relationship and that seemed to be what he wanted from me. Also, he was NOT my type. At all. I mean... He was sort of a dork.

Perspective. That is another funny thing that can change. But I digress.

Anyway, what started out as something I didn't want ended up being a huge life-changing event for me. I learned how I wanted to be treated as a woman (I want to be friend, equal and partner and it really is possible to be all of that at once. I want to feel sexy and irresistible and be able to laugh with you. I want moments that take my breath away right alongside moments that I laugh so hard I can't breathe. ) and how I wanted to be looked at.

I also learned what it felt like to really lose someone you love. To have your heart break in your chest. But to have been loved well enough to have the strength to go on...
But with much higher expectations for the future. Never again would I settle for someone who 'looked' good enough to date. Never again would I settle for someone who 'kind of' got me.

Never again would I fall for a line of bullshit from a man. I had heard one actually tell me the truth... and I knew what it sounded like now.

So although that little relationship didn't work out (Obviously... I am single.) it changed my view on men and of myself. If I deserved to be loved like that once, I deserved it again. And if I couldn't be loved like that, I didn't want any love at all. It upped my standards. I wanted more, now. So without that relationship fail, I would have settled for shit my whole life and never known I was missing out. So even failure can be a victory of sorts.

The other really life changing event was a friend. I guess I never really saw myself as particularly strong or independent. I always had said I was, before her, but I was afraid to really be either of those things. I let people control me and figured it was better, safer, to be loved even if loved meant being controlled.

I didn't really get, before her friendship came along, that love didn't mean control. Love meant leaving someone to make their mistakes and being willing to pick them up if they fell. Not making decisions for them so they never fell. Falling is learning. Falling is part of LIVING. I was kind of afraid to live before I met her. Afraid to fail.

Then I met her and she was brave and sometimes bitchy and bossy... and I realized it was because she knew that even if she fell, she had people around her that loved her enough to catch her when she fell. I totally didn't have that.

Now I surround myself with these 'safety net' kind of people. And I keep away from those that would control me. Because I can see them now. I couldn't before her. And I try new things everyday. And I am not scared. (Okay, the strokes probably helped her influence a little... Hard to be a chicken shit when you don't know what tomorrow will hold.)

But I guess the point of this whole rant is that people come into your life and leave sticky little bits of themselves, their souls, with you. Even if they are gone. Some of these people make you weaker and damage you because the bits they leave behind are sharp and jagged and tear at who you are. Others leave bits that change your whole outlook on the world... Sort of like glasses for the eyes of the soul.

I would not be the writer I am today if I didn't have them in my life. I wouldn't be able to love as much as I can without them. I feel they made me a better mother, friend and all around human being.

If I had the words to thank these two people, I would embarrass them both horribly and thank them. Probably with tears in my eyes.

The best I have is to say thank you. Thank you for helping me see the world in another way.

Neither of them read my blog that I know of. So probably neither of them will ever know that I feel this way.

But it doesn't change the fact that they save me, just a little, everyday. And for that, I love them.

And I probably always will.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Extraaaavaganza!

The holidays are upon us. A time to gather family near and remember why you hid from them for a whole year...

No, seriously, the holidays are probably my favorite time of year. I used to put up seven trees. I have since lowered my cheer expectations considerably but I still love the smell of turkey roasting in the oven, the glitter of lights on fragile glass balls, the crisp whiteness of snow covering my yard...

To celebrate, Sapphire Blue Publishing has put all of my titles on sale. (Clothing Optional is now less than a dollar!) If you haven't read them yet, now is a super cheap time to do so.

I also had two books coming out this season. Writing as Virginia Ashley (My YA persona), I released Sleeping Garden (A modern paranormal retelling of the Secret Garden) in November. In early December, I have an adult title releasing (The Accidental Pirate). Pirate is a sexy story of love, the open seas and the kind of bumbling and dialogue I think my readers have come to expect from me.

But wait... There's more!!

I have wanted to say that since I saw my first infomercial. Sorry.

But there actually is more!! For the holidays, I am gonna treat you, my lovely blog fans, to a couple months of fun.

To start, I am going to do a week of reviews. I know, I have been remiss and neglectful of your book review needs. So I am going to play catch up. Some books you can look forward to?
Spells, Slots and Sirens (Anthology)
A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine
And more!!

Aside from all that awesomeness, expect a week of blogs from the authors of the (coming soon) "Ladies of the Jolly Roger: Buccaneer Women" anthology from Sapphire Blue Publishing!

Exciting stuff, right?
Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Little kids

I generally say that I don't like little kids.

Okay, I confess, this isn't altogether true. I actually *hops into confessional chair* really like little kids.

I like to convince myself that I don't like little kids because mostly... I am not patient enough for little kids in large doses. The siren noises, the dripping noses, the ping-pong-like motion of a four year old hopped up on candy... Yeah, it frays my nerves and I find it easier to say that I don't like them.

(And yes, I am usually the one who gives them the candy. I come from Italian-American stock. My genetic makeup says "Feed Children" and since I don't cook- CANDY)

I do like children.

Today was a fun reminder of how much I like them. I sat in a car full (Five under five, if I was to make a guess) of squeaking, squawking toddlers and I had a blast.

I started by telling them I was really mean.

This had five sets of eyes trained on me, the adult, in nervousness. Adults don't tell kids they are mean. I modified this by adding, "Well, maybe not mean, but for sure, I am scary."

The bravest of the five, a little boy with huge azure eyes and a mop of dark hair piped up, "Really?"

I nodded. "Yeah. You wanna see my scariest face?"
The kids were curious. I wasn't behaving like a grown up was supposed to.
"You guys have to promise not to get too scared, okay?"
Five nods. Five wide eyes.

I crossed my eyes, made fish lips and wiggled my eyebrows up and down.
When I had finished I looked at five kids struggling not to giggle. "Pretty scary, right?"
From there, I had them.
I was the Jeff Dunham of the car. I was amazing. I was hilarious.

This is the true magic of children. With a little imagination, a few funny voices and faces, you can have them laughing and talking to you. Grown ups aren't like that. We try so damn hard to control that inner silliness, that willingness to be happy, that we forget to have FUN.

So this blog basically is me saying... Find your inner kid.

Let them out to play.

Make someone smile today.
And I dare you not to smile back when they do.

Oh, and for those curious, the handsome gent in the picture is my youngest when he was a baby. Pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself... which I just did... *shrug*

Monday, November 7, 2011

In my Mailbox!

I was very excited when I looked in my mailbox and saw a package from Nebraska today...

Something Sewn is the Etsy company of the fantastic and witty Anna Seckman. You can find her shop here. From mug rugs to quilts, she has a very diverse and unique product that caters to those wanting something fun and handmade.

Her stuff is not only modern but still different.
She makes these cool framed handprints so that you can commemorate that moment when your child's hand is so tiny... And for readers she makes one of a kind ereader cases. Check out her site.

For me she made... (and yes, this is perfect if you pay any attention to my blog or facebook...)
Coffee cup cozies!!
Here are the pics. They are beautiful. I am so in love with them that I couldn't resist sharing them. :)
Please excuse the fact that these were taken in my car... I was kind of excited to get the package... So I couldn't wait to open them...

Okay, I have a power point presentation to throw together. Hope you check out Something Sewn and Anna...If you read this... I love them and YOU ROCK!! Thank YOU!!!!!! <3 Sooooo Much!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New release!!

Nothing is more exciting than a new release!

Written under my other persona, Virginia Ashley, it is a retelling of Frances Hodgson Burnett's Secret Garden but with a modern paranormal twist.


Olivia didn’t plan to find her mother dead when she came down for breakfast. She never would have dreamed that the summer before her senior year would be spent in a house that looks like a museum rather than basking on the beach with her friends. If you had tried to tell her that she would instead spend her time gardening, trying to find out why someone would lock a garden and juggling two attractive boys, she would have fallen over in laughter.

But when her life changes in a heartbeat, all of this and more challenge this strange young woman.

Pick up your copy today!

You can get it at All Romance Ebooks here.

Or you can pick it up hot off the presses at my publishers website here.

You can also read an excerpt here.

Sneak Peek! Lips of Velvet ~Adult Only

The main character in my sexy new short, Lips of Velvet, Sandra, is all about 1950's glamor. She has the bright red lipstick. Dyed black hair and dark eyeliner. Nifty fifties horned rimmed eyeglasses studded with rhinestones and high heels. She feels very out of place when faced with the very modern and chic Lucy.

Lucy has black hair but hers is gypsy blue black, hanging sleek and stylish. Her clothes are very modern and she smells of Gucci. These two characters throw sparks the moment they meet.

In this sneak peek, Sandra is dishing to her best friend about Lucy.


Pressing the cell phone to my ear, I tried not to sound desperate. “Advice! I need advice!”

“Let me guess… You are on a tropical island with a hot man who wants to have wild monkey sex but since he wants to share you with his equally hot best friend, you are torn on whether or not you are okay with having a threesome?”

Leaning my head on the cool glass, I choked on something between a laugh and a sob. Backing away from the mirror, I absently read the sign advising employees to wash their hands before returning to work.

Looking back to the mirror, I considered his words. Okay, a bathroom in a Waffle House wasn’t exactly a tropical island. And no, two hot men did not want to make a Sandra-sandwich. But I was conflicted about sex, so Cecil wasn’t that far off.

“Close, Ce.” Gazing at my reflection in the dingy restaurant mirror, I puffed a breath up at my lank black and purple locks. My nifty fifties glasses with their sparkling rhinestones looked cheap in the glow of the fluorescents and my eyes were probably over-lined in black. Who was I to think—with my weirdness—that I could do this? And why was I suddenly feeling so insecure? “I have a situation.”

“Spill, girlfriend.” Ce sounded interested.

“I am attracted to someone.”

Ce gasped and I could imagine him smacking a hand to his forehead in overdone dramatics even though he knew I couldn’t see him. Cecil Gregory was wonderful, the best friend anyone could ever hope for. He would go shopping in the smallest, dingiest vintage store… spend hours looking at fine asses… go to lunch on a moment’s notice. He also had overdone drama down to an art form. “Call the presses, dollface. It is a sign of the end times.”

“It’s someone… inappropriate.”

“Define ‘appropriate.’ Is he tall, dark and stupid? Is he super smart but his balls hang low and wobble to and fro? Come on! I am assuming time is of the essence or you wouldn’t have interrupted my beauty sleep to chat.”

Glancing at my hot pink watch, I saw that it was nearly three thirty in the morning.

Which made sense, really. Last call had been at two thirty. Then we had gotten in the car to get a greasy breakfast… “Time is of the essence. I am holed up in a Waffle House restroom.”

The knob behind me wiggled and, with a toe, I flushed the toilet and called out, “Occupied!”

“Oh-my-tacky-wow.” Ce didn’t try to hide his disgust.

“Don’t judge.” The alcohol that had buffered my thoughts was wearing off; leaving me afraid he would judge me when I told him…

“You wouldn’t have called me if you didn’t want me to judge. So, some guy you picked up at the bar took you to a Waffle House? Is he looking to score or is he a fatty looking for a heart attack?”

Blowing out another breath, I again checked myself out in the mirror. Sucking in my waist, I wondered if the fact that I ate a hefty breakfast after drinking heavily made me look like a fatty. Then again, I was already a big girl so it wasn’t like anyone would assume I was skipping any meals… “Not everyone thinks starving yourself is hot.” I reprimanded automatically. “Anyway, I didn’t call you to discuss social cruelty. By inappropriate I mean… Not my usual type.”

“Are you going to get to the damn point or beat around the bush all night.”

The reference to bush had a blush creeping across my pale face reflected in the mirror.

“It is a woman, Ce.”

Silence met my comment.

Then laughter.

“Well, it’s about damn time you came out of the closet."

Happy writing!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Include Me!

So you are sitting at your computer and racking your brain for something to write about...

Here is a short list of story starters:
1. A werewolf walked into a bar...
Trite? Nay! You can go anywhere with this! Examples:

Everyone else had better costumes. Feeling stupid and insecure, Jessica tugged at her sleeves awkwardly. She wasn't sure how anyone had talked her into this. Werewolves were soooo last year.

b. He was hungry. His suit disguised his nature but he was on the prowl...

c. The studio cameras rolled and the only real werewolf, the director, grinned at the irony.

See? You can go many directions with even an overused idea.

2. The sound of the slap rang out across the room, loud in the sudden silence.

No, you don't have to start with back story. Actually, DON'T start with back story. Ever.

If you can in anyway jump the reader into the action and spread the explanation out later, do it. Hook first, storytelling later. Don't info dump. Don't prologue the info dump. Don't.

Okay, this stuff can be fine if you are working on your first draft. Also fine for NaNoWriMo purposes... But remember, you can be bold.

You can hook em and tell em a story.

After are...
You are the storyteller.

3. Blood dripped onto the pavement. How did she end up at this point?

One of the few times I have found a prologue amusing was when the main character was dying right at the beginning of the book. Good stuff. Love it. Not every author pulls it off. I gotta say, me personally after reading a few chapters of Bella's saga in Twilight... I wanted her to die. I loved Breaking Dawn. The other three books... I kinda wanted Edward to eat her. That said, other authors did it well. If you think you can, do it.

Okay, I said it was a short list. How is your NaNoWriMo going? Are you behind yet?
I am. Everyone in my house got sick this week. So we are running behind on everything. But... I have developed an overwhelming love for the nasty taste of cough meds... The pic above is me playing with my camera while my youngest and I waited at Doc Pirate's office yesterday. :)