Saturday, December 31, 2011

Writer's Block . . . Maybe

As the time drew near for this blog I realized I didn't know what to write about. Nothing came to the forfront. My mind was blank . . . I had writer's block. I should have known. I hadn't really written anything in about a month. And, I swear, it's a great story. I love my heroine, Suri. She's crazy, an impulsive witch who is a fish out of water (not literally). And my hero, Hawk. Oh my. He sends goosebumps up my spine. He's a doctor, a Native American with a shaman for a grandfather. They're in Sedona, a fabulous place that I've actually had the pleasure to visit. There are vortexes (vortices to the rest of us) that can cause all sort of trouble. Suri is searching for a mysterious object stolen from the Druids centuries ago, but the object has other ideas.

Hopefully, you can tell it's a really interesting story with lots of twists and turns. So, why can't I write? I really don't have a reason.

At first I told myself it was because the holiday season was keeping me busy. True, but not true. I know how to manage my time, and my favorite mantra is 100 words a day. That's not hard.

Then I thought I was letting the story jell. I'm a firm believer of letting my subconscious do a lot of my writing work . . . then I'm surprised and thrilled when the right ideas pop into my head. Duh! They were their all along.

Now, I've decided that it's all right to have writer's block. I'll hit the bricks (or computer keys) after the 1st. Writing this blog helped. I just realized that it's okay to take a little time off. I deserve it. I'll start up again in 2012. It'll be a new day, a new year.

Happy New Year To All

Friday, December 30, 2011

Goals, Goals, Goals!

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope you all have a great weekend planned to celebrate the incoming New Year. Me, I'm hanging at home with my family, and while that may sound boring to those who are planning outings and get-togethers, I am really looking forward to it.

As always, the coming New Year demands contemplation - what we did right the past year and want to keep doing, and... perhaps the area where we tend to give more importance to... what we did wrong and wish to rectify in the coming year, usually by way of resolutions.

I'm no different. This last year was a whirlwind for me and had much to recommend it, both professionally and personally. 2011 is the year I became a published author. That alone will always make it a magical year for me.

Doesn't mean I'm completely happy with how my writing life has turned out. I haven't published as much as I want.

So most of my New Year's resolutions will be centered on my writing - as in, I need more of it published  :)  I'm also doing something else very exciting, which is I'm revamping my podcast.

Romantic Geek Girl will be debuting in another couple weeks. While I'm old hat at the podcasting thing, this is the first time I've podcasted with the goal of gaining an audience. It's a different mindset, and I'm nervous and excited to see how it turns out.

So, Happy New Year to everyone out there who reads C&G. I hope the upcoming year turns out fabulously for you.  What are your resolutions for 2012?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Planning your Goals

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
I hope everyone is having a great holiday season. I know I am.

My last post discussed looking over 2011's goals and seeing how you did with them. This week, we'll continue with goals but focus on planning for 2012.

First of all, one thing I've learned is that I don't do well with having like 16 goals on my list. I tend to only accomplish half of them, no matter what they are. Maybe I should've been more fierce about my goals, but I think more often than not that I just dump the kitchen sink onto the list and decide I'll figure out what I'll do. Not a great way to go about goal setting. *grins*

This year, I'm going to write down only what I really want to accomplish. If I accomplish more than what's on the list, that's awesome! But I think it's important not to get sidetracked. Like I said last time, things may come up that we don't expect, and if they do then adjust the goals and continue forward. For example, I'd had in mind that I would write, edit, and query a few novels this year, but I was accepted to Changeling Press and instead have been writing novellas.

So, how do we figure out what goals we should be working toward? That's pretty simple. Where do you want to be a year from now? Five years from now? Got that picture in your mind? Good! Now plot how you'll be able to get there.

For example, if you want to be published, it's important to learn your craft, write a book, find some good critique partners, do research about the publishing industry, write a query letter, and query agents (and/or editors). That's not something you can accomplish in an afternoon, so then you'd break it down into steps.
  1. Read three books on writing.
  2. Finish a book by (insert date here) by writing X words a day.
  3. Join a writer's organization (like RWA) and meet other writers to become critique partners with.
... and so on.

Here are a few links I've come across about goal setting. Enjoy!

Getting Out of Your Own Way – Goal Setting for the Writer by Theresa Meyers

Marrying Marketing and Writing Goals by Monica Valentinelli

From NaNo to Submission: a 90-Day Plan by Suzanne Johnson - True, this one doesn't necessarily fit into goal setting, but I think it's useful to see other people lay out their goals.

What are your goals for 2012?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Hi everyone!

We’re ending another year! How can 2011 be over already??? Yikes!!!

At the end of each year, it’s probably natural to look back and reminisce about the year. Analyze the decisions made, relive the good times and try to keep the bad buried under than rock in the dark corner.

Or am I the only one who does that? LOL

So 2011 was a HUGE year for my writing career! I saw my debut novel, Night Walker, get published and then was lucky enough to see it touch readers and garner positive reviews from RT Magazine, Fresh Fiction and Night Owl romance…

I also tested the waters of self-publishing with Across the Veil and Forgotten Treasures. (Which should be available any day now! SQUEE!)

But it was also the year we nearly lost our house. The economy has taken its toll on our jobs and with both my hubby and I making less money, we had to make some huge changes with the help of a lawyer to keep from being forced out by a greedy bank.

Scary times.

But then I think back over previous years, and don’t they all have a shadow hidden away in the corners someplace? Maybe life throws us challenges to remind us that we’re alive. My daughter, Panda, is a figure skater, and occasionally there are days when she can’t land a single thing. She spends most of the morning on the ice, and we always joke that sometimes you have to have sucky practices, or how would you ever know when you rocked? LOL

Night Walker came into the world and I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally. I’m an author. Then I turned in Book 2, Night Demon, only to find out I needed to do MAJOR revisions. Major. I ended up cutting 25,000 words and rewriting another 13,000. *sigh* My confidence was completely shaken.

Disney’s Hercules has a song about Hero to Zero in no time flat. That was me for a couple months this year. Combine that with all the house drama, and I was all set for my pity party!

But that’s life, right?

I think Charles Dickens said it best in the world’s longest run-on-I’d-never-be-able-to-get-this-published-in-a-million-years opening line from A Tale of Two Cities…

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

In retrospect, this was definitely a year to remember, and while parts of it have been tough, in the end…

I wouldn’t change a single thing. :)

Lisa

What about you? Have you taken inventory on 2011? I’d love to hear your year wrap up… :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guest Author Nancy Lee Badger

DRAGON IN THE MIST 
By Nancy Lee Badger

On the shores of Loch Ness stands the stately remains of Urquhart Castle. When the idea arose to write a story that included the legendary Loch Ness Monster, my research brought me back repeatedly to the castle and its ruined walls. The loch, what we Americans would call a lake, is about 23 miles long and only a mile wide. Its lake bottom grows along the Great Glen Fault, and was carved by a retreating glacier.

The castle also has an interesting history. It might have been built around the 13th century on land granted to the Durward family in 1229. Captured by Edward I of England 1296, war and clan unrest had it changing owners until falling into the hands of the MacDonald clan in 1596. The building sits on the banks of Loch Ness and is roughly in the shape of a figure eight. Unfortunately, the castle was largely destroyed in 1692 by Williamite troops who had held the castle from Jacobite forces. Better to destroy such a fortification than have it in the hands of the enemy.

I used this snippet of history—specifically the MacDonald clans black past—to give my hero a history he is compelled to follow up on. Rory Hawthorn is an American geologist who comes to Scotland’s Loch Ness area near Urquhart Castle to research an ancient family curse. He hides his mission under the guise of researching Scotland’s earthquakes. Since my heroine, Nessía, hates the MacDonalds and was responsible for the curse, all Hell breaks loose when she discovers Rory’s allegiance to the clan.

Natural decay and plundering by the locals turned the once mighty castle into ruins. Today, Urquhart Castle is open to the public with views of a wide expanse of Loch Ness. Now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, Urquhart Castle is Scotland’s third busiest tourist attraction. Sitting on the banks of Loch Ness, near the small town of Drumnadrochit, a wooden bridge crosses what used to be a defensive ditch. A visitor center welcomes guests amid great views, and the castle and grounds are surrounded by the beautiful loch. Its romantic flavor makes it the ideal location for a Scottish wedding, which they allow.

I use the castle in a scene from my latest release, DRAGON IN THE MIST. My hero, an American scientist, goes to research its crumbling walls for any clues concerning Scotland’s history of earthquakes. Unwisely accompanied by two American women who act as if he’s the only attraction around, jealousy hits my shape-shifting heroine, Nessía, when she spots them hanging all over him. What’s wrong with a little green-eyed envy? When my heroine is a fire-breathing, shape-shifting dragon, plenty!

BOOK BLURB
Life without love is not worth living.

Nessía of the Loch has lived beneath the murky water of Loch Ness since ancient times. The pain of loneliness manifests in anger so strong, the entire valley shakes with earthquakes. In 1816, a Faerie queen pleads for her to cease the tremors and rewards Nessía with a human form. To stay human, she must find love. When the man she believes she loves casts her aside, Nessía responds to the betrayal by cursing the men of the MacDonald clan with the inability to keep a woman’s love. Only an act of true selflessness will break the curse.

After centuries pass, Nessía again searches for love. When Rory Hawthorn, an American scientist, arrives under the pretext of researching the earthquakes but in reality to research his MacDonald heritage and the curse, she believes she has found the perfect mate.

Amid stolen kisses, another earthquake, a steamy night of passion, and a broken heart, Nessía returns to the murky depths of the loch. When Rory dives in to follow her, he meets the green, scaly Loch Ness Monster. Assuming Nessía is in danger, he is intent on killing the monster and saving the woman he loves.


EXCERPT

He heard the shower running.

“Come in.”

He walked in, then stopped. Nessía’s silhouette swayed behind the frosted glass of the shower door.


How can my mouth go bone dry in the presence of all that water?

Splashes and giggles filled the air, as if Nessía had never used an indoor shower before. An increasingly strange young lady, his confused mind thought, until he spotted her clothing lay along the side of the empty tub and remembered she was naked.

In my shower.

“Here is some shampoo,” he said as he passed a complimentary bottle beyond the glass partition.

“Shampoo?”

“I presume you want to wash your hair.” He’d rather not have the clean tang of the loch mar the simple fragrance he had come to know as Nessía.

Her hand slid from behind the glass and as she wrapped her wet fingers around the tiny bottle, she splashed his hand and arm with icy spray.

“Isn’t there any hot water left?”

A damp head popped out. “Hot water? Where? Show me!”


Is she for real?

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, he stripped and stepped inside the large, tiled shower. She huddled against the back wall, her arms crossed over her ample chest, the bottle of shampoo clutched in one hand. He smiled while urging his flaccid member to stay still, then adjusted the spray. Hot water mixed with the icy shower and turned more palatable. Nessía handed him the bottle as if not knowing what to do with it, then joined him beneath the pulse. Squealing with glee, she jumped and giggled.

Rory shampooed his hair and tossed her the bottle. She sniffed the bottle’s contents and mimicked his actions. While he rinsed the soap from his face and head, a shriek threw him back against the tile wall. Wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, his gaze filled with Nessía slapping at her eyes.

“Soap. Rinse it off,” he said. He shoved her head under the spray, then reached for a towel. While the water flushed the last of the suds from her eyes, he pulled her face into the terrycloth.

Rory tried not to laugh. Why did she act as if she’d never before taken a shower nor washed her hair with bottled shampoo?

“Thank ye,” she whispered.

He grabbed the offered towel and tossed it out the door. She stared up at him, eyes rimmed in red, with wet strands of hair hanging limp on her shoulders. Rory stared down at her, a woman who appeared small and vulnerable, when earlier, she’d dumped an entire tray of food and drink in his lap.

Unable to speak, he leaned down. Rory kissed her, while he kept his hands on the walls. Not wanting to pressure her, he gently brushed his lips over her mouth, while his tongue licked drops of water from her chin.


Hell, she’s standing naked in my shower. I can wait.

About the Author
Nancy loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around a Scottish Highlander, the clang of dirks and broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. Nancy lives the dream. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, she moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. She and her family continue to volunteer at the New Hampshire Highland Games each fall. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Sisters In Crime, Fantasy-futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy is also a proud Army Mom. She writes romantic suspense a Nancy Lennea.

Check out her website www.nancyleebadger.com
and her blog www.RescuingRomance.nancyleebadger.com.
Follow her on Twitter @NLBadger
and on Facebook http://on.fb.me/scmtx5

Title: DRAGON IN THE MIST
Author: Nancy Lee Badger
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Length: 17,000 words e-book
Amazon: http://amzn.to/nNpfNV
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/pzEYYh
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/oKGRDY

CONTEST
One lucky commenter will win a beautiful prize: a beautiful 6 inch by 8 inch spiral-bound notebook, great for a reader to list books-to-be-read OR for a writer to jot down plot ideas. Leave a comment and don’t forget to include your e-mail address. Good Luck!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Goals And Assessment


As the new year approaches, I find myself reviewing short and long term goals, assessing where I’m at and setting goals for the coming months. I love setting and tracking goals and the necessary steps to reach them. I’m a firm believer that people who not only set goals, but write them down, are much more likely to achieve them. After all, if you don’t know where you’re going – how will you ever get there? For me, working without concrete goals and knowing the steps to achieve them is kind of like going on a road trip to an unfamiliar place without a map or a trusty GPS.

So how are those goals working out? Made some, missed some. Over all, I’m pleased with what I achieved over the last year. There were more hits than misses. For the coming year I’m raising the bar and setting my goals at a higher level. I believe in stretching and reaching higher. I think goal setting is kind of like exercise in the sense that you need to set higher, more out of reach goals as you push to higher and higher levels to keep moving forward.

For the coming year I’m setting some high goals and a few that will be easier to attain. I also believe in keeping things real enough that you stand a good chance of reaching them. Setting goals that are totally out of reach becomes nothing more than an exercise in frustration. Who needs that?

How about you? Do you set goals and steps or do you just go forth and see what happens? Do you write do goals and track them? Do you review them often? Do you put them up by your computer where you have to look at them on a regular basis?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Where Are You Christmas?

Usually, I make a thank you video to fans, friends and those in the publishing industry who've been instrumental in my successes of the year. I show a little slideshow of my book covers as part of the video and set it to Faith Hill's Where Are You Christmas? This year I decided to forgo the video. In part because I'd already made myself two Christmas videos. One for Breath of Heaven and one for Cupid Christmas. (Click the links if you want to see them.)

The other reason I didn't do it is because I'm writing a little thank you this year. That thank you is titled Finding Your Heart and it's a story I'm giving away for free. It's heartwarming and unusual. The reason it's unusual is that I'm giving away two versions of the story. One is M/M and the other is M/F. There will be some differences (obviously!) but it's basically the same tale.

Here's the blurb:

Finding Your Heart

After the worst Christmas Casey has had in years, the urge to go home overwhelms. Standing in front of the house he/she grew up in on a bleak New Year’s Eve, he/she acknowledges that what he/she once thought of as home is gone. Filled with despair, he/she sees that his/her life is a barren wasteland and he/she has no energy or hope left with which to change it. When a man exits the rundown house, his long legged, cock first stride carries ghosts of the past right into Casey’s present. Never had he/she imagined that he’d/she’d run into the man he’d/she’d lost a lifetime before let alone that he would own the house that had always been a symbol of home to Casey. But Paul is there and he’s never forgotten the love they shared so briefly. Casey’s New Year’s quest to find reasons for his/her existence becomes a homecoming he/she never expected when Paul opens his heart. It’s only then that he/she discovers that the answers to life are as simple as finding your heart.

It took me all morning but I finally found two similar photos to use for the covers. I should have the stories complete and ready for download by New Year's Eve. It's just my way of saying thank you to everyone this year.

And now, since it's Christmas, I want to get on with my own holiday so I'm going to offer up a copy of Christmas Cowboys, which is an anthology of all five of my Forbes Ranch Christmas Cowboys stories, to one lucky commenter today. I've been doing the 30 Days of Christmas giveaway on my Lex Valentine blog and yesterday was the 30th day. So today, I'm giving something away here, the opportunity to win being just a lil Christmas present for those who came by on the holiday.

Merry Christmas to all the Castles and Guns readers and authors, my fans and author pals, and my publishers. May 2012 bring us all good fortune.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holidays

Merry Christmas Eve! Happy Solstice (a few days late) Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza (early) and a Merry Yule!

This time of year is filled with holidays- or “holy days” if you want to be specific. Whatever your religious leanings, our ancestors revered and feared this time of year (at least folks in the cold parts of the globe- where winter often meant death). Celebrations took place to give thanks and ask for blessings for the coming cold times.

These celebrations became holidays and throughout time have had varying impacts on the cultures and societies that shared them.

Yet we often don’t see these types of holidays built into world building in the fantasy and SF realms (I’m guilty of it too- I’ll often put in some big bad scary cult type things for my big bads- but no subtle working of holidays and religion). Now in some books religion is a major plot point, the driving force. But I’m talking about the other books. Ones where religion isn’t a major plot point, and may not be seen, but still has an impact on the world itself. Another layer to that world if you will.

I think the more “real” we can make our worlds, the more our readers will believe them, and us. I’m going to take a lot of my religious under pinings in my worlds- and see if there are any cool holidays hiding in there.

That’s it for today- it’s a time to be spent with family and friends, not puttering about on a blog ;). Whatever you believe in, may you have a wonderful and beautiful holiday!

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Leaves Me Charmed Ever After


The holidays are upon us and I am looking forward to getting presents and taking time to celebrate with family and friends. The greatest present of all is releasing CHARMED EVER AFTER, December 23rd. It is the first in a new fantasy series, Ever After. It was a crazy journey getting it ready for publication, but the spirit of Christmas and the sheer joy of writing such a fun tale helped me pull off this magnificent feat in neck-breaking speed. I do hope you pick up a copy to stuff in someone’s ereader for Christmas or Hannukah.

This year has been one amazing ride. Since January I have been non-stop writing and selling manuscripts. I am so happy to have a new series out with Samhain Publishing, the first book Out of the Shadows released in August and the rest of the series will be out this upcoming year in 2012. I am also happy to say that 2011 saw the relaunch of Dark Waters and my website. My resolution for the New Year is to make 2012 an even better year. I do hope you stick around and bring in the New Year with me.

Looking back on this year, what are you grateful for?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Hobbit Trailer: Darcy's Impression

As we are quickly approaching Christmas, I feel compelled as if I must mention it in my last blog post before the holiday. I have to admit, I am a bit of a Grinch. I do not get excited at all about Christmas until a week before. It happens to work out that I usually see the Nutcracker a week before Christmas and for me, the ballet is the official start the season.

Still, I was all set to to blog about the Grinch or the Nutcracker story or even my grandmother's super secret recipe for eggnog, but then...



The first trailer for 'The Hobbit'!

Next year I will return to talking about actual books, but for now you shall have to put up with me having fun nerd-spasms over film trailers. I have waited years for this! Closer to the the movie's release, I will be writing character profiles of each dwarf.

My first reaction is the trailer is sheer glee. I love the shots tying back to the 'Lord of the Rings' films, such as a glimpse of Frodo and Bilbo looking at Narsil. I had read more of Tolkien's songs from the text were going to be incorporated into the film and this promise will be kept if the trailer is anything to go by. The trailer also does not give everything away. I hate knowing the entire story from a teaser. Even though I have read The Hobbit, I still want to be caught up in the story as if I have never encountered it before. Then, at the end, just as I thought we would not get a glimpse of Gollum/Smeagol.... Well, you had best watch it for yourself!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What is Fantasy Romance?


Happy Holidays! I hope everybody is spending a lot of time with their friends and families during this time of year. Buy a book to read in the New Year J Nothing like starting a post with something corny.

Today I’m posting about Fantasy Romance.  Or more accurately, I’m musing about it. Mostly because I write it, but also because I often wonder if I made up the genre. Ha! I know other people write it and have been writing it for many, many years (Even if it wasn't exactly called Fantasy Romance, it follows the same principles). I’ve seen it listed as fantasy romance all sorts of places. I don’t really think I started it since that would give myself way too much credit. But I still see posts from people of influence who don't recognize it. 

I wonder what it means to people when they see it. I’ll tell you what I think fantasy romance is. I think fantasy romance is a story that takes place in an alternate realm. It really doesn’t matter what happens in that realm as long as people want to read about it. Don’t allow me to hold you back. But in my realms, there’s usually magic, usually some super powers, and a whole lot of conflict. There’s also romance, which is where the second half of this name comes from. There is a happily ever after. That’s what being a romance means.

I know there’s a movement of people I’ve seen around the web who want romance novels not to end happily anymore, but I really hope it doesn’t trend widespread. I like my happy endings! I only read happy endings. If I wanted to watch non-happy endings, I’d watch the news, and would have never switched my aspiration to romance writer from first female President of the United States of America. My senior quote said if I failed at politics, I could always write a book about my failed experience. No lie. I just got over my soap box much sooner than expected, so my few quarters in college as a Political Science Major don’t make much of a tale. That’s just a nice side revelation. Lol. My point is that the romance, no matter how impossible it seems, will work out.

Fantasy by itself doesn’t guarantee a happy ending. I don’t think Romantic Fantasy guarantees a happy ending either. I like to give people a guarantee.

That’s my promise that comes with the label fantasy romance. You’ll be swept away into a world full of mystique. Leave your cell phones at the door, ladies and gentleman, because there’s no Twitter in fantasy romance. I heard your gasp of outrage. But to my way of thinking, fantasy romance is a nice place to escape the technology that we all sincerely appreciate because it makes our lives easier, but to be honest overwhelms me sometimes.

I defined my version of the genre. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Spiders

When I was young, my mother gave me an ornament each Christmas for my hope chest. Remember those? When I moved out of the family home and into an apartment, she made the ornament pictured above for my first Christmas tree. Along with the delicate spider ornament came a story:

Once upon a time, far to the north, snowflakes drifted past frosted windows. Inside, a good mother busily cleaned the house, for 'twas Christmas eve. On the morrow, Christmas day, the most wonderful day of the year, the little Christ child would come to bless the house. When she finished, not a speck of dust remained. Even the spiders had fled their cozy corner on the ceiling to hide in the attic.

Beautiful ornaments adorned the Christmas tree. The children gathered round, clasped hands and sang blessed songs. While the family enjoyed the evening festivities, the spiders became frantic, for they couldn't see the tree, nor be present for the Christ child's visit. The oldest and wisest among them suggested they wait until the family slept then sneak below stairs.

At midnight, the house darkened and fell silent. The spiders crept from their hiding place, crept down the stairs, crept to the tree. Delighted with its beauty, they scurried all over the tree, up and down, over and under braches, viewing all the precious decorations.

The spiders loved the Christmas tree. For the remainder of the night, they danced amongst the branches, leaving the needles covered with webs. When the Christ child arrived in the morning to bless the house, he was amazed yet disturbed. He loved the little spiders, for they were God's creatures, but the mother worked hard to make everything perfect and would be disheartened when she saw what the spiders had done.

With love in his heart and a smile on his lips, the Christ child touched the spider webs. The webs sparkled and shined, turning a shimmering silver, resembling tinsel.

Thus a legend was born: A spider among the Christmas tree decorations brings good fortune.

May your holiday be one of great joy and your new year filled with possibilities.

Do you have a prized ornament on your tree?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

One Order of Dork

Okay, the secret is out, I'm a dork and sometimes need help. I also admit I'm a wordpress girl and blogger hates me. It's true. My latest post was cut off even though it looked fine when I previewed it. Maybe I accidently hit delete or something, who knows.

I had planned to talk about my newest book, a science fiction erotic romance.
I'm really excited about that book. I've written a few paranormals and really enjoy the creative freedom that comes with building new worlds and species. Also, my herione in the WIP is a complete badass. She's a primitive gun expert as well as the best pilot around. She's alot of fun.

As I was writing that book I opened a book I started a few months ago. I've tried romantic suspense once before and it didn't go that well. However, the book I started awhile back was another romantic suspense. I admit I'm a bit terrified to try my hand at science fiction and romantic suspense but I have two books going on right now that are in each genre.

What are things that appeal to you in either genre? I like my science fiction to be Star Trekish


Love it. I also love really crazy bad guys in my romantic suspense. I mean so bad that you're so terrified of reading anymore you put the book in the freezer! Yes, I stole that from Joey on friends.

Last but not least, Happy Holidays everyone. Whether you celebrate Christmas(I'm a Christmas girl) or another holiday I hope yours is the best one yet!

thanks all,

Sayde Grace

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Writing and Revenge

I read most of the NaNo posts and admire all the participants, maybe even envied them for their williness to stick out their necks. Think I must be a chicken. But it did get me thinking . . .

Why do I write? It's not an easy thing to do. Rejection leads the pack. It sucks! Almost every writer get rejected one time or another. By agents, publishers, and reviewers. And who wants to be told their baby is ugly. J.K. Rawlings submitted to twelve publishing houses and was rejected by all of them. Stephen King received doezens of rejections for Carrie (and he kept them nailed to a spike in his bedroom as a reminder).

I like what Frank Sinate once said, "The best revenge is massive success." And it's especially true when it comes to writers, whether unpublished or published. When famous people are rejected people are stunned. But it happens to the best of us.

We're reaching the end of 2011, that means we'll be looking forward to a better year in 2012. Many of us will make resolutions about writing. Don't let this year's rejection letters get you down. Don't give up. Think of Gertrude Stein who spent twenty-two years before getting a single poem accepted.

I just read an article that author Dick Wimmer proclaimed himself as being the 'most rejected novelist'. Mr. Wimmer passed away on May 18, 2011, at the age of 74. During his lifetime he received 160+ rejections over 25 years. Do the math--it meant he spent a quarter of a century being told 'no'. His novel Irish Wine (Mercury House, 1989) was published to positive reviews. Why mention this author? Because his legacy is one of hope and persistence.

So take Mr. Sinatra's advice and submit, submit, submit!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Branding 103 - Bringing it all together

And here we have my third and final post in my branding series. While there is much more than what I've said in this mini-series, I think with these posts I've given enough for you to think about to decide if you want to further pursue branding for your own career.

This post is my "What to Do" post - I'm giving 1.2.3. instructions and a plan to follow.

Before I go any further, I wish to make clear that these are only my own opinions. I guarantee that for (almost) every piece of advice I give you, you will find someone else who will give the exact opposite piece of advice... and they are probably smarter and more of an expert on this than me!

All I can say is this - research for yourself, and do what feels most comfortable for you. After all, if you are writing as a career, we are talking years ahead of you with this marketing and branding stuff. Don't force it and feel free to be slow in adding additional things in.

The only thing you absolutely must do every day is write. Everything else is negotiable.

So, what I advise:

1. I mentioned this already, but I'll it again - if this is a possibility for where you are in your career, I urge you to only write in one genre. It doesn't have to be uber-restrictive. If your first book was a vampire story, you are not doomed to write vampires and nothing else. But I would recommend you stick on the Paranormal/Fantasy side of the street after that.

You need to do what you are comfortable with and give yourself enough freedom that you don't choke your muse and lose the desire to write. Just keep in mind with every degree removed from what your "core genre" is, you both lose a percentage of readers and make it that much more difficult to become an autobuy or gain a rabid following. Not impossible, just more difficult.

2. Use a tagline, but don't let it overwhelm your name - Your Name is your brand. You never want your tagline to overshadow your Name (Brand). The tagline is meant to compliment it.

Nike is the brand, Nike's tagline is "Just do it." Now, what do I mean by overshadowing the brand? If I said to you, "Just do it", and you said, "Oh! I've heard that, it's a great slogan! What company was that for again?" then the branding would be a failure, because the tagline overshadowed the company it was meant to support.

You need a tagline to help define you to someone who stumbles across your website or blog or twitter. Think of it as your advertisement - almost every company or product has a tagline. This will help you, at least until you are such a name that a tagline no longer is necessary. (Let's face it, Stephen King needs no tagline.)

Check out the following taglines. Say you came across this person's website, and all you knew is that the person with this tagline writes in the Romance Genre. Do you think this tagline gives a hint of what this person writes?

"Respectable Society, your days are numbered!"
-- Delilah Marvelle, who writes very naughty (though not erotic) historicals, mostly set in England
"I'm the author your mother warned you about!"
-- Shelli Stevens, who writes very hot contemporary stories
"Wherever you are, (author's name) takes you home."
--Debbie Macomber, who writes small town contemporaries very focused on community and family
"A Romantic Geek Girl Writing in a Fantasy World."
-- Danielle Monsch (me) tee-hee!

Taglines are not meant to be the whole story, but to give you a quick taste, a way to feel if you are in the right place. If you only read Georgette Heyer styled Regencies, then you would never stay on a website with the tagline, "Respectable Society, your days are numbered!" But if you did read historicals with a naughty bent, you'd know immediately you belonged.

Now, this is a personal thing, but I am not a fan of the "3 Descriptor" tagline. Example - Sexy, Sassy, Smart stories. The tagline is your commercial (see "Just do it" above). Is there any commercial that ends by using 3 words to describe the product? No, because it doesn't resonate with the person who is viewing it. It's out of your head almost as fast as you are reading it.

3. Make sure everything you post is filtered through your brand - An author had a website where her tagline was something similar to "Heart-Pounding excitement in every word!" and the header picture on her website was... a tranquil sunset beach scene.

The point of branding is to sear your presence into someone's mind, which we ultimately hope will lead to a lifelong fan and someone who loves you so much they talk you up every chance they get. If you do not present a consistent message, it is much harder for people to glomp (yes, that is a technical term) onto you and your stories. We want to keep speedbumps to a minimum.

Everything you do should reflect your brand. If you write dark, gothic-y stories, the color pink should never be on anything you post - even if you love pink and in person are a sweet and optimistic person. Remember, You (as in Writer You) is not You the person. Which leads me to...

4. Do not discuss personal opinions online - You can't win by discussing your personal opinions. You just can't. Half the people disagree with you and if you annoy them, they won't buy you no matter how interesting your story otherwise looks. The other half will agree with you and it may even cause them to love you more (or it may not), but it's not likely that they'll buy twice as much to make up for the half you lost.

This does not just mean politics, though obviously that is huge and very quickly divisive. To give an example, I once followed an author who was very into animal rights, which is great and wonderful and what could be wrong with that? Problem was it got very tired when every single post from her was another way animals were abused and how horrible human beings were and evermore depressing pictures of these animals.

Writer You is an Entertainer. People want to be transported out of their lives. The whole reason they found you in the first place is you had the ability to do this for them. Making them deal with reality - even if it's reality they may agree with you on - is not something they'll likely thank you for.

And finally...

5. Don't be afraid to try and fail. You can change it later - Nothing is forever on the internet. I don't mean this in the sense of it's not stored on some server somewhere forever (because it is) but with time most things are forgotten. How many examples of internet stupidity have you seen, but three month later you couldn't name the participants even with the offer of a publishing contract as an incentive? Exactly. People are mostly the same, in that unless it affected them directly in some way, it's washed out of the brain.

Let's say you come up with a slogan and you like it, but you're not sure it works. Put it out there. See what kind of reception you get, how it feels when you are using it daily and as something that is attached to your name. If you don't like it you can change it. But it's better to have something out there that people can hang onto than not putting anything out of fear you aren't doing it right.

I'll be honest, my tagline is a little awkward. I mostly like it, I think it sums me up nicely, but it's not perfect. Every once in awhile I'll take it out and play with it. I've yet to come up with anything I like better so for now that tagline stays, but just because I'm using it now doesn't mean it's permanent.

The key is I know the basics - I know what I want my brand to be, so I'm comfortable in fine-tuning things as I go to make that brand really stand out. I am a writer of fantastical and romantic stories which appeal to "geeks". What does that mean?

It means my stories have settings in Asian mythologies (otaku) and sword & sorcery trappings (D&D and MMORPG players). They will be set with vampires and werewolves and demons (the goth geeks) are re-imagined and updated fairy tales/classic mythologies (fantasy lovers) and set in far flung galaxies or alternate histories (sci-fi and history). In short, all of these are story types that geeks relate to. Also, all my stories have romance - either they are capital "R" romances or they have a very strong romantic element. So someone who has no interest in romantic subplots will pass over my stories, but those that are either neutral or actively look for romance in their stories may check me out.

When someone says, "Danielle Monsch," this is what I want them to think of. I want that association to be automatic. So any story I write will fit into the above. Any reader post I write will be connected to the above. I will not write a contemporary romance. I will not write a blog post on the civil war.

And that is ultimately what branding is. You know you've succeeded in creating a brand for yourself if I sit you down and ask you, "Okay, what's your brand statement?" and it takes one sentence to sum you up - because if you can do it in one sentence, then your fans can also tell everyone about you in one sentence.

Of course, after they say the one sentence, you hope everyone around them goes, "Tell me more."

I am a writer of fantastical and romantic stories which appeal to "geeks". <---  My brand statement.

A Romantic Geek Girl Writing in a Fantasy World. <--- My tagline

Danielle Monsch <--- My name (Brand)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Looking over your Goals

Shucks! Now that Lisa took my post idea... *grins* Seriously, I second everything she said yesterday about joining up with other authors as a tribe.

Anyways, I know it might be hard to think of this, especially if you've still got some Christmas shopping to do *raises hand*, but the end of the year is almost upon us. One of the things I've begun thinking about as New Year's Eve approaches is what I've done this year, how effective I was, and what I'd like to do next year. I'm getting a jump on my goal setting since one of the things I've learned about myself is I'm better with a plan.

I honestly think it's important as a writer to have goals and to know where we're heading. Sometimes you just might not end up where you'd planned, which has been the case with me. There are quite a few things on my 2011 Goals list that I didn't accomplished, but then again, there are also several items not on there that I did. I could easily say that if I'd stuck with what I'd planned, I probably wouldn't be where I am, but that discussion is for a different day.

So, what's first? I'd suggest going over your 2011 goals list and see what you've written down. Where are you in comparison?
  • Look at where you are goal-wise today. Are you unpublished and finishing up your NaNoWriMo project or polishing a query letter? Published and working on a proposal for a new book? Right now, I'm an author on an upcoming deadline.
  • What's something you have accomplished this year? Did you finish your first novel? Find a publisher? I'm published and slowly getting the hang of social networking! :-)
  • What's something you haven't accomplished that you wish you had? For me, I didn't read as much as I'd have liked to, and I ended up not working on a couple projects I was looking forward to.
Now that we've looked at that, we can start thinking about next year. What are we hungry to say we've completed in 2012?

What goals have you accomplished this year (or are on track to complete)?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Power Behind a Tribe

Hi everyone -

We're well into the holiday season, which usually leads to looking back over the year to see what worked, what didn't, and set new goals for next year.

This year I saw my first novel published! Exciting times!

I also learned some valuable lessons, and one of the best was this...

There is strength in numbers.

With the growth in self-publishing, there are more and more fiction choices for readers. How are they ever going to find your book out of the masses?

I tried some online advertising and some worked better than others, but I found the best way to promote was through word of mouth...

But I only have one! LOL

That's where your "tribe" comes in.

In the ever changing publishing world, it's tough to rise up above the crowd if you're all alone, but when a group of authors band together to support one another, you're suddenly much taller. Your virtual online messages are louder, and translates into more visibility for your book.

So how do you band with like-minded authors?

Who do you chat with on Facebook and Twitter? Those are great places to start.

Participate in blog hops & offer inexpensive fun prizes. You'll meet other authors and readers all in one shot! :) (I'm participating in an Author blog hop today if you're curious to check it out... http://lisakessler.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/do-you-name-your-christmas-tree-more-author-bloghop-fun/ )

Swap business cards at conferences and email after the conference.

Having a Tribe behind you encouraging you and supporting your efforts can really magnify your book beyond anything you try on your own.

So retweet your Tribe, Share links on facebook, swap reviews and recommendations on Goodreads... Together we can help readers find out books!

Plus, the good karma you build up will be an extra bonus! :)

Are you connected with other writers yet?

Lisa

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guest Author Lisa Darling

Since today, December 13th, is a very special day in my life, I thought I would share a little story with you.

When I was younger than I am today I had two birthdays. Yep, two. How lucky can you get, right? I had my regular birthday-October 4th and then we had my Anniversary, which was December 13th. My birthday was always celebrated as any child’s birthday would be; balloons, games, cake made by Mom, good food and good friends. While my birthday parties were always fun and something I always looked forward to it was my Anniversary that meant the most to me, after all, everyone has a birthday but not everyone has a special day outside of that. My Anniversary was a day just for my parents and me to be together and celebrate the day we became a family.

Confused yet? At this point, I should probably tell you that I’m adopted.

December 13, 1968 was the day the adoption became final and we were officially a family. Although most people do not believe me, I remember the day with near crystal clarity—especially for a 2 year-old. We drove up to Hartford from New London in a sky blue Pontiac Catalina. Back then there was no such thing as car seats or even seat belts, as such, I sat on my mother’s lap the whole ride up and the whole ride back. They bought me a special new coat just for the occasion; it was an azure blue with real fur buttons and matching bonnet with real fur tassels. I loved that coat! I was terribly upset when I outgrew it and my parents gave it away.

My parents were there, of course, and my social workers was there-Miss Leavenworth, I still remember her quite well too. Everyone kept telling me not to be nervous just to stand up and tell the Judge what I wanted. We walked into a rather large and stately room, it was yellow with thick wood trim and wooden benches. Dad sat me on his lap while Mom smoothed out my hair—I had a terrible cowlick back then!

I remember being scared; what if the Judge didn’t like me? Worst of all, what if he said I couldn’t stay in my new family and I had to go away?

The most experience I’d ever had with Judges was on a TV show called “Laugh-In” and when the Judge entered the Courtroom, I remember singing the little ditty from the show; “Here come de judge, here come de judge.” My parents laughed, the Judge laughed, and so did I. I believe I even asked him if he knew where the ‘Fickle Finger of Fate’ may be. (You really have to be 40 or over to understand those jokes! Sorry!)

The Judge looked at me, asked me if I knew who Edwin Darling was. I said; “That’s my grandpa!” The Judge said, yes it was. He asked me if I knew who the people with me were. I said: “My new mom and dad.” The Judge again said yes they were. Then he asked me if I liked them and if I wanted to stay with them. Were they nice to me? I said: “YES!” The Judge smiled, banged his gavel, and declared us a family in the eyes of the Great State of Connecticut. He also told me to say “Say hello to Grandpa.” Years later I found out the Judge and my grandpa had been friends in their much younger days.

That was it. I slid into my new pretty coat with the fur buttons and tassels and we drove home. My father didn’t stop smiling the entire ride back to New London. He kept glancing over at me on my mother’s lap with this huge grin on his face and my mother kept telling him to: “Keep your eyes on the road, Richard! We just got her I want to get her home in one piece!”

From that year onward every December 13th my parents and I did a little something special together; a movie, dinner, maybe roller skating. Right after Halloween, December 13th was my favorite day of the entire year. It was even more special than Christmas because my parents used to tell me that I was the best gift they ever got.

I’m grown now and my parents are gone, I’m married with adult daughters of my own. No one celebrates my special day any longer but I never forget it. I always look up and say: “Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad, I love you.”

PROMO MATERIAL:

CHILD OF WAR-A GOD IS BORN: BOOK BLURB-

Do you know 'Damien'? Raven makes that kid look like an angel.

The "Of War"-series picks up in part I of this II-part sequel when Ares and Alena try to settle down on Olympus and await the birth of their son, Raven.

Haunted by prophetic visions along with a body and mind that are starting to betray her, Alena struggles to enjoy what should be a happy and blessed occasion. The relentless hostility from the other Olympians make her yearn to be back on their cozy island home, far away from all the bickering and backstabbing that makes up Life on mighty Mount Olympus.

Knowing of Zeus' unabashed hatred for Alena and the Celts, Ares becomes convinced Zeus is causing these visions and the breakdown of Alena's mind. To appease his Father, the God of Gods, Ares enters into a wicked blood pact ensuring the safety of his wife and unborn son. A pact that could cost the God of War everything he holds dear.

However, once the boy arrives, it quickly becomes clear Raven may be the most powerful and cunning Olympian ever born. Outwardly despised by Zeus for his Fey blood and his filthy Celtic mother the seeds of rage and doubt are planted in the Raven's mind by a very willing Apollo.

As Zeus, Apollo, and Aphrodite plot against the new family, bit by bit the true pasts of the Olympians and Celts comes to light, the battle begins for Ravens' mind and soul and for the ultimate control of Olympus.

LINKS FOR THE "OF WAR" SERIES

Buy direct from Moon Mistress Publishing-http://www.moonsmusings.com and save on hard covers, paperbacks, and ebooks. Check out the fan gear; mugs, t-shirts, calendars, and more.

RETAILERS:

PAPERBACKS
http://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Beth-Darling/e/B002BMDA9I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Amazon.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/lisa-beth-darling?store=book
Barnes & Noble

http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Child-War/Lisa-Beth-Darling/9780615523460?id=5200778515850
Books-a-Million

E-BOOKS

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lisadarling
Smashwords

http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Lisa+Beth+Darling
All Romance E-Books

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/lisa-beth-darling
Nook

http://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Beth-Darling/e/B002BMDA9I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Kindle
Author Links:
Website: http://www.moonsmusings.com/lbdarling
Blog: http://lbdarling.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/lbdarling

Monday, December 12, 2011

Learning the Writing Ropes


When I first began chasing my publication dreams, I wanted to educate myself on the process. At that time, I had no idea how much there was to learn. I thought I would read a craft book or two, check out a few websites then write my best seller. Okay, I hear you dying of laughter, but that’s pretty much what I expected.

It didn’t take long to get a reality check. I bought a few books and after a chapter or two, I realized there was going to be more to realizing my writing goals than I had thought. Next I joined some fantastic writers’ forums which provided tons of valuable information. The forums were a huge step and provided invaluable feedback on work. After being a member for a while, I rounded up my courage and posted some of my work. This gave me my next reality check. Yeah, they were brutal but very helpful. I kept posting and getting feedback and I improved.

Into my second year of writing I had completed a manuscript and decided I wanted feedback from a pro. I won an editor’s critique in a charity auction. I emailed my first fifty pages and synopsis off to the editor and waited for my much anticipated feedback. And then I got it and oh, boy, was it an eye opener. Turns out I had some issues to correct. I cried for two hours then got the crit out and read it again, very carefully. This turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me as a writer.

After the editor’s crit I decided to try some workshops in the areas I needed to improve. I discovered right away that I loved workshops. I mean, I really loved workshops. I’ve been taking them on a regular basis for the last four years. Last month was the first month in years that I didn’t participate in a workshop and that was only because I didn’t want anything getting in the way of Nanowrimo. Normally I take one to five workshops each month. I love workshops.

For new writers, I highly recommend targeted workshops. There are some fantastic classes to be had at great prices. Of all the classes I’ve taken, only a handful have been a disappointment.

What are your favorite writers’ learning methods? Any books or workshops in particular that you recommend?