Monday, February 28, 2011

What I'm Reading - Let's Rock!

If you have not yet checked out the newly minted DLP Books blog, you should know that the very talented and funny Robin Slick has released her novel, Daddy Left Me Alone With God. If you know Robin, then you know this is the book she has carried in her heart for years, as the themes covered within are quite close to it. Parental pride, facing the prospect of empty nest syndrome, asking "what if" after a forbidden relationship then "what now" when you realize you have the chance to renew that love. It's a great book and I am pleased to help Robin get it to readers.

You can buy Daddy from DLP Books direct for only $2.99 in eBook format. It's also up on Kindle and the Nook, and Smashwords. The print version follows shortly, but if you want to wait for a signed copy and you live in the Philadelphia area, come by the Philadelphia Book Festival on April 16th. Robin and I will be there with our books, along with some other authors to be named soon (once I get everybody confirmed). This will be my second year there after taking a few years off - seemed Philly always conflicted with other events, but this year it's in a good spot. I like the area - and I'm excited also to return to Collingswood for their festival in the fall.

While you think about buying Robin's books, take a look at the trailer, which features music by Robin's equally talented daughter, Julie.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Guest Blog: Jody Wallace

Today at Me Want Food, I welcome author Jody Wallace and Meankitty! Thanks for stopping to chat! Please tell us a bit about your latest release, or what's coming up.

One Thousand Kisses is my latest novel. The release date is February 8, 2011, from Samhain Publishing. It's a fantasy romance about the president of the fairy Court, a stressed-out intern, and the magical cat who seems dead set on driving them both insane. Their adventures send them on a road trip in humanspace that spans the entire United States, from Key West to Nome, Alaska. Also, there are evil gnomes.

How did you become inspired to write this work?

Meankitty made me do it, and my editor at Samhain had her back.

Did you have to do a lot of research to complete this work?

I actually spent a lot of time researching coastal Florida, Key West and Nome. A friend of mine used to live in Nome and she helped me with atmospheric accuracy issues. She also made me take out most of the awesome trivia I'd managed to work into the story because--and I have no idea why she'd think this because it's not true--she said it was info-dumpy. Well, whatever. The heroine could totally have had a penchant for reading travel guidebooks aloud.

What is a day in your writing life like? Do you have a set schedule?

I wish. I got these kids, see. Their hobbies include clinging to mommy's legs and screaming; jumping off things; emptying out all the toys in the house in giant piles; refusing to eat healthy food; running amuck; reading over mommy's shoulder when mommy is trying to research dirty stuff; taunting the cats; crying because the cats got their sweet revenge; slamming doors; splashing all the water in the
tub into the bathroom floor; and telling mommy they love her very much when mommy gets really po'd at them.

Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser? Or maybe both?

Plotzer. I get a shiny idea for a plot and then my pantsy methodology pretty much destroys it.

Do you own an e-reader, or maybe two? How do you like it?

I had a Sony Clie first, a PDA, and I loved it, but it was kind of gnarly to get books on and off that little sucker. Then I got a Sony 505 (Sony loyalty!) that served me well for several years until it decided it hated the software I used to load books onto it. Or maybe the software hated the Sony? I don't know. There was just a lot of hate. Now I have a Kindle3 I had hoped to fob off on my mother since her local library is tiny, but she's a crotchety Luddite and she wasn't havin' it, dag nabbit.

What do you have planned writing wise for the rest of the year?

Remember what I said about my plans? I had a plan, with two lovely WIPs that had received much  acclaim from agents (read: 2 agents said the first page didn't suck) but I've already plotzed my plan out the window. Now I'm off in the weeds, editing a complete manuscript and thinking about writing a novella set in that same world. Not that I have a shiny plot for said novella yet, but I heard of this short
fiction contest...

Do you have any social media profiles/pages where readers can follow you?

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jodywallace
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/jodywallace
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jodywallace
Blog: http://blog.jodywallace.com/
Yahoo Newsletter: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jodywallace/ (very infrequent)

What was the last book that you read? What did you think?

I can't tell you or I'd have to... Let me rephrase that. I can't tell you or it would violate the terms of my RITA judging agreement! I've got 8 books for RWA's annual RITA contest I'm barrelling through right
now. But before that I read Zoe Archer's Rebel, the 3rd book in her Blades of the Rose series. I'll tell you what I thought with the warning that my opinion may be a little spoilery.

Pros for my tastes were the intricate worldbuilding; the strong heroine; the unique setting; the fact it was part of a series but could stand alone; the fact the author did introduce characters who were obviously going to be in other books but still made full use of those characters in this book instead of just pimping them out; and the fact that all protagonists worked as a team to win the day instead of just having the hero do it while everyone else huddled in fear. Cons for my tastes were the fact it was quite angsty and the fact the hero and heroine knew very quickly, through distinct zinginess, they were drawn together. In the first chapter for the next book, which was in the back of this one, that a similar effect was used for those protagonists. These cons, however, will be pros for other readers!

Do you have a favorite charity? How does it appeal to you?

Yes! I like the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN. I love thinking about the fact that an hour or so south of where I live, elephants roam the Tennessee savannah. Ok, it's not a savannah, but the elephants there have this gigantic living space and people are not allowed to bug them. They just get to live their big, grey, wrinkly lives in peace. And sometimes they mug delightfully for the ele-cam:
http://www.elephants.com/elecam/

Meankitty says this should be my favorite charity, though: http://www.tigerhaven.org/ It's also in TN and it's big cats instead of big pachyderms.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

To Lend or Not? Online Book Lending Clubs

If you own a Kindle or Nook and check your library status online often, you may have seen some of the books you own have a notation that lets you know if the books you have purchased may be lent to other readers. Everything is done through the respective eBook reading systems - you can only lend a Kindle book to another Kindle user, and you cannot read the book while it's out, nor can you lend to multiple people at once. This ensures the book is in one place at all times. Some authors, I have gathered through chats and tweets, are not too thrilled by this turn of events.

I can only guess, therefore, that the people who oppose Kindle/Nook lending won't be happy to find their books on sites like  eBookFling.comLendInk.com, and BookLending.com - three early horses pulling out in the race to capitalize on the digital publishing industry. These are essentially niche networks where people can borrow and lend books for their readers. Think of it as a giant virtual book swap. It sort of reminds me of when I'd visit my aunts in Louisville, and once a week each would bring over a grocery sack of paperbacks and sift through the already-reads to find more gems for the TBR pile. The concept isn't really that different, people are just doing it online, with strangers. (How often have you heard that?)

All my titles with DLP Books, and I believe my Phaze titles as well, are lendable. If you have a copy of one of my titles on Kindle or Nook, go ahead and offer it up for temporary trade. It certainly wouldn't be the first time my books have been lent out. When Little Flowers was first published, I received a nice e-mail from a gentleman at a Catholic university on the West Coast. He told me the book was quite popular over there. I'm thinking, damn, how many copies have I sold? Turns out, though, one book had been bought and it was passed around campus like the town strumpet. Ah well.

Fast forward to today, however, and the book continues to sell. That major lend didn't hurt me. Perhaps, and I can dream, somebody who had read the book all those years ago wanted his/her own copy. It's possible.

Today's borrower could be tomorrow's buyer - I won't really know unless I give readers an opportunity to try out the book. From my own personal experience, I have checked out library books from authors I bought at a later date. This appears like the next logical step in digital publishing, but as this is in the early stages it will require a close watch.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Geddy Lee Friday - Starring Alex Lifeson

If you're a die-hard Rush fan, or a Canadian who likes watching TV, you know about the Trailer Park Boys. They are associated with a Canadian show bearing the same name - about a group of aging hoods living in a trailer park. Each week brought some wacky, profanity-laden adventure - the show proved popular enough in the Great White North to spawn two films. In each one, Alex Lifeson has a cameo. In fact, he's done a number of film appearances, usually playing a cop:

In Countdown to Liquor Day, he's on the Vice squad. Sex-ay:



I have not seen this film yet, but I did see the first one and most of the series. First film was a disappointment. I'm not much of a fan of the TV to movie transition because so much is lost. The TNG Trek films, the Sex in the City ones - they lose the character development when they try to squeeze years of familiarity into two hours. Why not just extend the series. Oh well, rant off. Enjoy Lerxst in drag.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Joy of Almond

During the time I spent hanging at the Edgar Cayce center, I heard quite a bit about almonds. I saw quite a bit of them, too. I'd see bowls of them on desks with spoon dipped halfway in, inviting people to enjoy a scoop. There is a Cayce reading that suggests eating just two or three a day can help prevent a tendency toward cancer. Doesn't say it's a cure-all, but the almond is a top nut where some health experts are concerned.

In some of the Eat This, Not That books I've read, the almond is one of the super snacks. Almonds, blueberries, and some dark chocolate together are the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. I enjoy them pretty much any way I can get them - they don't require a lot of work, for just the raw, unsalted ones are full of flavor. However, I am a spice ho' (no, not like the singers) and I just love discovering new flavors of savory snacks. To this end, I recently found two new varieties of Blue Diamond Almonds that I love love love...

I found the Blue Diamond Buffalo Wing (pictured) and the Honey Dijon varieties at two different stores - immediate impulse buys for me, and good ones. The honey dijon has a tangy flavor that isn't overpowering, and while I expected the Buffalo to blast me out of my chair, it didn't. It has a kick, yes, but it's not painful. Very tasty.

I have tried most of the Blue Diamond flavors, and I have to say I prefer the savory to the sweets, so I will rank the former according to my preference best to least:

Smokehouse
Honey Roasted
Blazin' Buffalo Wing
Honey Dijon
Barbeque
Wasabi and Soy Sauce
Lime and Chili

The site doesn't list a few flavors I've had, like the black pepper variety. I suppose they are discontinued. Honey Dijon isn't up, either, and I hope that doesn't mean they're on the way out. I just found them! That would drive me nuts.

Okay, I'm going back to work.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What I'm Knitting - Making a Point

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I had a disagreement with a kitchen mandolin. I believed I could slice a potato without the hand guard - it believed otherwise. I now must wear a bandage on my forefinger for a while, at least until the skin part heals. Not sure how much longer until the nail grows back.

I am trying not to let this injury set back my writing and knitting. This week, I did put my scarf project aside long enough to knit a little finger cozy to wear to keep the bandage in place:


Here I used a small skein of Sugar 'n Cream brand yarn, mostly white with colored speckles. Little One selected the color, and from there I used a pair of size 6 needles and cast on a little over an inch length for a stockingette pattern. From there I knit until the strip looked long enough to double over my forefinger, then I did the bind off and sewed up the sides.


As a finger cozy, it adds more bulk to the bandage, but it's more attractive to look at. It renders the finger useless when I type, but maybe after some wear I can do more stuff while wearing it. In case you're wondering, too, I don't consider this a gateway to cozies for private parts. If you really want one, though, this search in Etsy is a good place to start.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Shopping ala Groupon

Perhaps you, like the billions of other people using Groupon, picked up that Barnes and Noble GC deal the other week. I know some of you did, because I had a hell of a time getting into Groupon that day to buy mine. Nonetheless, I picked it up, and I discovered  I can download the eBooks into my Kobo reader, so life is good.

In addition to the $20 from Groupon, I had been given a $25 credit as well, leaving me a grand opportunity to feed my reader. Here's what I bought. I like a bit of variety in my reading - biographies and mystery mainly, but I've been wanting to try a zombie book and the Beatles one intrigued me. I've read all of the old Barbary Lane books, too, and saw there's a follow-up, so I grabbed that. The Amanda Hocking, one...well, it's not really my genre, but she's been in the eBook news lately, so why not?








Sunday, February 20, 2011

Guest Blog - JT Whitehall, co-author of Silver Wings

Today at Me Want Food, I welcome JT Whitehall, one of the contributors to Silver Wings, the new steampunk anthology from Phaze Books. Thanks for stopping to chat! Please tell us a bit about your latest release, or what's coming up.

Thanks for having me. :) Of course, I'm here to talk a bit about my contribution to Silver Wings, the story "Surface Tension." The working title was actually "Desertion," but a suggestion from my wonderful editor (nudge) convinced me to try a title with a bit more, ah, pizazz.

Anyway, this is the story of a man some may consider unlucky by virtue of bad birth timing (second son in a family of nobles), yet Shel doesn't care much for wealth. He prefers to spend his days in the company of his inventions and, when he can, handsome men. When a submarine beaches near his holiday home, he discovers a Yankee solider inside, alone but for his secrets.

Did you have to do a lot of research to complete this work?

Quite a bit, yes. Steampunk is a unique animal. It is expected by readers, when you write historical stories, to get the facts straight, yet steampunk adds a fantastic element that also requires adherence to rules. While writing "Tension," I spent days consulting websites to make sure I got certain things right - protocols and equipment, geographic locations, etc. I can only hope all the t's are crossed.

Do you prefer to write one specific genre, or are you a bit all over the map? What is your favorite genre to write and why?


I am pretty much all about the M/M. Though I read a variety of genres, I am attracted to writing M/M because I identify with it more. :)

Do you own an e-reader, or maybe two? How do you like it?

I don't own a physical reader, but I do have the Nook and Kindle apps on my phone. I like them fine, but I think I will break down and buy a larger reader just so I can see the words better. The small phone screen wears on you after a while.

What do you have planned writing wise for the rest of the year?

I would like to try my hand at a longer work, a novel. I have mostly shorts out now because, I suppose, I have only the patience for writing short. I think readers would like to see more M/M novels, however.

Desert Island quiz: you can only bring one album, one DVD set for your favorite TV show, and one movie. What are they?

No contest. Frank Zappa's Apostrophe, the original Star Trek, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I know that last one is cheating a bit, but you can't have one without the others. :)

Most f***able movie star of the 1930s-50s? Why?

Tough choice, but I'm going with Gregory Peck. He had a silent power on screen that just exuded sexy. Runner-up...I'd turn straight for Marlene Dietrich easily.

Who do you like in the next World Series?


I'm a New Yorker. I was Yankee born and Yankee bred, and when I'm gone I'll be Yankee dead!

http://jtwhitehall.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Social Media Hierarchy for Authors - Planning the Promo Attack

If you're like me, you have subscribed to practically every single social site and tool that's launched in the last two years. Perhaps, like me, you're also tired and frazzled at the thought of having to log in to everything every time you have a new book to sell, event to promote, or interview or review to brag about. Social media overload can paralyze to the point where you feel as though you want nothing to do with it, and wonder if any of this noise is heard by somebody.

One thing to remember about utilizing social media for promoting your books is that: A) it's (mostly) free; B) it really doesn't require a huge investment of time; and C)if you set up a schedule, you can take care of your promotion simply. Many networks work seamlessly together, allowing you to save more time. All you need is the right strategy.

Let's say you have a new book to promote and want to get the word out. Once you've contacted prospective reviewers and bloggers for guest spots, next comes the big social blitz. Here is just an example of how I get the work done, and you'll see how many profiles overlap, thereby saving me a few seconds here and there.

1) Blog post.  I create the blog with the cover, links to buy the book, summary and maybe an excerpt to entice readers.

2) Post the blog link to my Facebook page wall. This automatically feeds to my Twitter, and the included link goes straight from Twitter to the blog. Then I may post the announcement on my profile wall for friends to see.

3) Click the Facebook like button on the blog post to get the link on my Facebook wall. Ask friends to do the same to promote the link.

4) Use StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit to bookmark the site. This helps encourage viewership from social bookmarking sites.

5) Time permitting, I might write an article for a database site, or create a Squidoo page to create some link love.

Now, will doing all of this guarantee my book will sell like hotcakes. Not necessarily, but what I can tell you is this: if I do nothing, nobody hears about the book. Then I definitely don't sell.

Social promotion is quick, painless, and it's out there forever. If it's not found today, it will be eventually, so don't hesitate in getting your information out there.

Kathryn Lively writes about Virginia Beach web design, social media writing, and mobile web development.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What I'm Eating - Choice Cuts

So we had this vegetable slicer that you can use to make waffle fries. Been in the box - never used - for 18 years, and the one night I decide to use it I end up in urgent care. Big ass bandage, tetanus shot, wounded pride. Blood-stained slicer in garbage.


In retrospect, this should not have happened. I had a hand guard and didn't use it because the potato was very large and I thought it long enough to be safe. Of course, when you slice a potato, it gets smaller. Heh.

What really sucks is that this is my left forefinger. I am left-handed, and this has truly cramped my writing. I type for a living, too, and have had to train myself to type with nine fingers while I heal. Luckily, though, I required no sutures or surgery, but I'm not looking forward to any painful regrowth.

Has this put me off cooking? No, I'll keep at the Cook This, Not That regimen, just alter it a bit to read Cut This, Not That.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What I'm Knitting - Trying to Stay Warm


I have a new name for my project: Frankenscarf. You can't tell in this picture, but I've messed up the ribbed pattern in parts. Some ribs are thicker in places and thinner in others. Some stitches are really f'ed up, too, but I still work on it. So long as it keeps my head warm.

Right now I am looking at about two feet of completed scarf, with two more feet to go before I bind off. It probably won't use the whole skein, but that's fine since I'll use what's left to practice some crochet stitches.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Reading: The Original Romantic Entanglement

Don't judge.

For the last several months, I have been reading Archie comics. Well, not all of them. There is a new series out called Life With Archie which is something of a "Sliding Doors" saga - each issue presents two different scenarios. This follows up a previous mini-series where Archie married Veronica in one sequence, then Betty in another. Archie and the gang have graduated from hanging at the malt shop and ticking off Mr. Weatherbee, and now have to deal with real problems like paying bills and breaking hearts, and deciding is there really is no place like Riverdale...even with the threat of chain restaurants spoiling the view.

Of course, there is an element of soap opera in each issue. Not to give too much away, but each issue has rich Mr. Lodge meddling in town affairs in his usual "money talks" manner. Veronica, who has matured and is less Kardashian here than she was as a teenager, has turned from Daddy's Girl into showing some cajones where business is concerned. Betty remains Betty, optimistic and adorable. I have to hand it to Archie Comics - this is a smart move taking the gang from teenagers to adulthood. Once a certain readership grows out of simple comic books, you have something here that appeals to an older audience. Truthfully I'm surprised with how quickly kids are growing up these days. I look at my six-year-old and she's watching shows aimed at tweens, when just last year she was still on The Wonderpets. She even knows how to work my iTouch. When I was six I played with Barbies, and she designs the clothes!

Only thing I'm not liking so far about Life With Archie is that, in the commitment to present real-to-life drama, they are getting serious in the present-day Funky Winkerbean way by having characters die off. I won't say who, but it is sad to read. I've read Archie in some form off and on for thirty-plus years, and while I like this shift, part of me wants everybody to remain timeless, and alive.

Anyway, while I bought the wedding series in print as a keepsake - and to pass down to Little One if she expresses an interest in comics - I've been buying Life With Archie via the Archie Comics app. What a pain in the ass. Every time I buy one it doesn't load immediately, or sometimes the purchase won't go through at all and I have to keep at it. When I update the other apps, however, I find it eventually works.

Why do I keep the app, then? Well, it's difficult to find Archie comics, particularly this series, outside of a Borders where I live. Comic shops around here don't carry them, so it's either this or mail order, and I'm trying to cut down on cutting down trees.

Is it silly for somebody on the edge of forty to be reading comic books? Well, there are people in their forties who write them, and I know many adults who read YA novels and manga - I don't see how one comic book a month qualifies me for the mid-life crisis just yet. Like I said, don't judge. :)

If you'll excuse me now, there's an adorable Hello Kitty t-shirt on eBay I have to get.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Oh, the Tension

For this week's Six Sentence Sunday, I'm submitting one more selection from Golden. Yes, I've decided to run with that title for a while and see if it grows on me. I still haven't seen all the nominated films myself, but I plan to remedy that as they are released on Netflix.

If you want to join in on the fun, check out the link above to see how you can get involved in the SSS.

~*~


"You are such a stitch," he teased in a low whisper, yet inside he couldn't share Regina's excitement. When Diamond  had first released, critics predicted endless nominations and hardware for his fireplace mantle. Parker saw the movie as one more line for his filmography, yet as the awards began to pile up he wondered if he genuinely had a shot at the granddaddy of them all. He found that out in January at five in the morning, watching the nomination announcements on his flatscreen while wrapped in a blanket.

Would he actually win the little golden guy? He'd know in one minute, fifteen seconds. Fourteen, thirteen...

~*~

Don't you just want to throw up? I swear, I watch awards show with such passion. I throw things. I fall off the couch when an underdog is called on stage. I do spit takes. For me, the Oscars are a contact sport.

Guest Blog: Shannon Leigh


Today on Me Want Food, I welcome author Shannon Leigh! Thanks for stopping to chat! Please tell us a bit about your latest release, or what's coming up.

I haven’t had any new releases, per se. But I have had 5 stories re-released in audio format over the last year from AudioMinx. They are still available in ebook from Amber Quill Press, but now audio as well.

I’m currently working on several stories. One is a re-write of my very first published story, Immortal Desires. I’m hoping to find it a new home this year. Another story I’m working on is a full-length science-fiction romance, Kr├ęcelian Mate. I haven’t decided where I’m going to submit that one as of yet. I’m also working on a joint endeavor with Rebecca Suma, The Age of the Vampire, and hope we’ll get it submitted this year. I’m still working on the long awaited sequel to More Than Prophecy, When Destiny Summons. And lastly, I have a few other ideas I’m tinkering with. I’m hoping 2011 will be a productive year. I’ve been lazy long enough, time to get the ol’ rear in gear.

How did you become inspired to write this work?

I’m going to select 1 story from the list above, Kr├ęcelian Mate. I had initially started that story as a short story project for my publisher, Amber Quill Press, but it quickly grew into a lengthy novel. I had never attempted a science-fiction story before so the idea intrigued me. Being a longer novel, I’ve had time to develop the characters and plot and hope that when it’s released, it’s a story readers will love.

Did you have to do a lot of research to complete this work?

Since I knew diddly-squat about outer space, star constellations, space ships, etc. I had to do some pretty extensive research. Putting it into words the reader would believe and be able to associate with was a challenge in itself. But it proved rewarding. It got a lot of neat idea and will hopefully delve some more into the science-fiction romance/erotica genre.

Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser? Or maybe both?

Mostly a pantser. I do better on a deadline. When I have too much time, I procrastinate. I rarely use an outline. I just sit down and start writing. Miraculously, it all seems to go come together by the end.

Do you prefer to write one specific genre, or are you a bit all over the map? What is your favorite genre to write and why?

I prefer paranormal the most. I’ve always had a fascination with magic and mystical beings so this is the most comfortable for me. I have dabbled in contemporary and my do so again in the future, but paranormal will always be my favorite. There’s just so much you can write about in that genre. The possibilities are endless.

Of your backlist/WIPs, which would you say was the easiest to write? The most challenging? Why?

The easiest was probably Chinatown Buffet, my only contemporary. Other than a little research to find the perfect city for the story to take place, it didn’t require a lot of effort. I was a short, fun story that came to me fairly quickly and was easy to put on paper. The most difficult story was probably EROTIKOS, because it had three main female characters and 3 male. I had to develop six characters in a very short amount of pages. It turned out to be a fun story and I’m contemplating a sequel.

Are you published primarily in print or eBook, or both equally? Which format do you prefer and why?

Primarily in ebook. It’s nice to actually see your book, hold it in your hand, feel the pages, but I know ebooks are more accessible to people and cost less. I can’t say which I prefer, but I have to be logical and say ebooks can’t be beat. The majority of my sales have been in that format.

Do you own an e-reader, or maybe two? How do you like it?

I own a Nook, which I got for Christmas last year, and I love it. This year, though, I got an iPad and it has pretty much made me Nook obsolete. It’s so nice to be able to read in the dark. I’m hanging on to the Nook though, never know when I might need it. Taking the iPad out of the equation, I’d buy a Nook again in a heartbeat, especially the new touch-screen version.

Do you have any social media profiles/pages where readers can follow you?

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/author_shannon_leigh
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorShannonLeigh

Do you have a blog/Yahoo group for readers to stay updated on your works?

Blogger: http://authorshannonleigh.blogspot.com/
Yahoo: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Shannon_Leigh_Newsletter/

Desert Island quiz: you can only bring one album, one DVD set for your favorite TV show, and one movie. What are they?

Chris Daughtry, Angel, Lord of the Rings

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Going Mobile to Improve Book Sales

Last week I went with a group of friends to a restaurant for TGIF beers and munchies. The second we all sat down to our table something amazing happened: rather than reach for the stack of menu set upright between the napkin dispenser and shakers, everybody pulled out his smart phone to either check messages or use Facebook or Foursquare to "check-in." Now, a younger person might think nothing of this, but the moment struck me as a sign that times are changing.

I have worked in search engine optimization for over a decade, back when Google was just a glint in a techie geek's eye. The things we did to ensure high rankings for websites back then would definitely not work now, in an age where mobile functionality is king. As an author, it should excite you to know that people can read books on their iPhones and Androids with applications from Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and others. If your books are not available digitally, they may still be purchase via mobile commerce. Regardless of how you offer your works, mobile browsers should be able to properly translate your site content so it's seen clearly and encourages click-throughs.

How can you achieve this? You have a number of options.

1) Utilize a content management system with built-in mobile plugins. Wordpress users have long been able to use a plugin that enables mobile browsers to adapts sites. Recently Blogger initiated a similar feature. Call up this blog on your mobile browser and it's much easier to read - only disadvantage is that the sidebars are not shown. If you have something to promote, put the links in your post.

2) Generate a mobile-friendly version of your site. Most large sites have mobile counterparts that are called up when you sign on with your iPhone or Android. Twitter, for one, launches into mobile mode when it detects your browser. If you know the CSS, you can code your main site to detect the browser in use and direct the reader to the appropriate pages. If you are not tech savvy, you can employ the services of a web developer to assist you.

3) Utilize a third-party mobile template generator. A search on mobile site conversion will land you several leads that can take your site or RSS and make it readable on mobile browsers. Bear in mind, however, free services are not necessarily free. You may find terms of agreement include insertion of paid advertising in your site.

However you decide to go mobile, do it quickly. If a smart phone user in unable to read your site on a tiny browser, he is less inclined to delve further and learn about your books.

Kathryn Lively writes about Virginia Beach web design, social media writing, and mobile web development.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Geddy Lee Friday - Slapping Da Bass


"Seven females at a Rush concert," said Neil in disbelief.

Wonder how many were Betty White.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Slip Sliding, Sweet Potato

In my quest to lose what I have gained back over the summer and fall, I have purchased a copy of Cook This, Not That and am taking advantage of the nights hubby works to get some cooking done. I'll say right now, the Weight Watchers I did last year was wonderful, it worked and I lost. They have since changed their program, though, and I got off it. Big mistake. Every time I go off that plan the weight comes back. I should know better that weight loss becomes weight management, and that I need to be forever vigilant of what I eat. These Eat This books really scare the crud out of me sometimes, when I realize "OMG, I put that in my mouth and swallowed it."

Heh.

Today's recipe was for Chipotle Sliders and Sweet Potato Fries. I had been craving a burger for a while now, and with this dish I used the leanest ground I could find, hacked up a sweet potato and baked that while I pan fried the burgers. The ones without cheese I saved for hubby:


The recipe for the fries called for sprinkling the potatoes with olive oil and cayenne before baking, but I used more chipotle powder instead, then added some cinnamon when they were finished. Everything came out pretty good, though one of the sliders was a bit rarer than I usually take it.


Am thinking for the next recipe I will try another veggie side and maybe the baked chicken fingers with panko crumbs. I need to get the little one eating well, too, and that sounds like a good gateway.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What I'm Knitting - Le Scarf

This thing is starting to look like a nice entry into the Land of Misfit Scarves. The ribbing pattern goes awry at one point, and somewhere along the line I've added an extra stitch, so some rows are longer than others:


I suppose once it's wrapped around my neck, though. It won't matter. I am, though, seriously thinking of doing a slip cover for my Kobo reader next. I might have mentioned that already. Looking for patterns now.

Monday, February 7, 2011

GLBT Steampunk Anthology Now Available!

Woo hoo! Silver Wings is finally here! Here's the official release info.

Silver Wings: Homoerotic Steampunk Adventures
Edited by Leigh Ellwood
Stories by Mahalia Levey, JT Whitehall, Cari Z., and Ross Baxter

Phaze Books, $4.99, eBook (may be read on Kindle, Nook, Sony and Kobo readers)

Click here to buy!

Wayward cowboys with mechanical toys, an enterprising post-Civil War pleasure seeker, lovers conflicted in flight, and a lonely inventor whose salvation washes up on the shore of Penzance ... these stories of passion in the time of steam are guaranteed to set fire to your sense.

Silver Wings, an anthology of M/M and bi-male steampunk, features works by Cari Z., Mahalia Levey, Ross Baxter and JT Whitehall, edited by Phaze bestseller Leigh Ellwood.

Read an Excerpt

Unlacing in eBook

So with my trusty (somewhat) Kobo reader, I go from contemporary werewolves to another Wolf in an historical romance. Next up is Unlacing the Innocent Miss, and I have to tell you it's been a while since I've read historical romance that I wasn't reading as a submission or editing for another author. My aunts used to buy grocery sacks of Regencies and Highlander romances when I was younger and trade between them - I'd go through what they weren't reading at the time.

Anyway, here's the blurb:

Hardened thief-taker "Wolf" Wolversley has clawed his way out of the gutter to get where he is. No stranger to society's underbelly, he's met Rosalind Meadowfield's seemingly sweet type before.

Accused of a crime she didn't commit, fearful Rosalind begs Wolf not to turn her in. But Rosalind's fear soon turns to desire as the bitterness in Wolf's eyes turns to passion.... His touch is gentle for so fierce a man. Rosalind should be mortified by her wantonness. Instead, it's as if something else has taken over her body....

I question the trustiness of the Kobo reader now, because twice I have experienced something unusual. While reading Up on the Housetop, I would turn off the reader, then turn on again later to read and discover the thing left me off several pages behind. I'd have to click and click and click to get to the last page read. Pain in the ass. If it happens again with this book I'll know something is wrong.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - The Envelope Please? Wait for It.

Welcome back to my Sunday Six!

Still considering a title for this M/M work in progress. We began at a major awards ceremony with a nervous nominee, and he's right where we left him:

~*~

Who the hell texted him now? Everybody in the world knew where he was and should have appreciated his need for discretion right now.

He glanced down his row to see more than a few of the biggest names in the film industry clandestinely checking their own smart phones, their thumbs punching on tiny keywords, presumably offering fans color commentary via Twitter. That amusing notion helped allay some nerves, and as he checked his own BlackBerry he wanted to laugh out loud.

Relax, you're a shoe-in, read the text from his agent and sometime lover. Parker glanced over at Regina, sitting next to him, her own phone resting on her lap.

~*~

Not sure how much more I'll share of this one. Would like to get some more of it written. Perhaps this will be my spring project.

Guest Blog - Sapphire Phelan

Today at Me Want Food, I welcome paranormal romance author Sapphire Phelan!


Can Myths and Legends Be Translated to Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy Fiction?

By Sapphire Phelan

With paranormal romances and urban fantasy so popular these days, the question is, can a writer take any myth or legend and revise it for a modern urban fantasy or paranormal romance storyline? Yes, it can be done. It has been said that there are only seven or eight storylines out there. It’s up to the author to make their story different enough for the readers to take notice.

As one who has read countless myths, legends and urban legends over the years, I find my best heroes, heroines, and villains from here. A good example is the Finmen myths from the Orkney Island. There were drowning deaths of local women in the sea and I think the people chose these stories to explain the reasons why these women were found drowned in the water. I twisted the drowning women angle and took it from Orkney Island to a beachfront in America, and the story became an erotic and dark male/male urban fantasy with romance at one point in my career. Yes, it did get published.

There are lots of weird and bizarre tales, all which had been told around campfires and hearths. Stories of ancient people’s gods and goddesses were mankind’s first fantasies and horror tales. Years later, writers took what they heard at their mother’s or father’s knee, and turned it into many great works of fiction that we still read today. Think of Dracula, Frankenstein, Edgar Allan Poe’s works, and H. P. Lovecraft’s stories, just to name a few.

But how does a writer of today take something that has already been told over and over and rebirth it? By twisting and tweaking the storyline here and there, new characters, updating it to a modern cityscape or even to another planet, and there you have it. What better backdrop for fantastical beings and situations than the mundane landscape we know every day of our lives? After all, how would a dragon or a unicorn or a vampire react if suddenly dropped into the middle of gang warfare, or a busy shopping day at Wal-Mart’s? What if some man standing in the checkout line at the supermarket has his body rip apart just before closing and some terrifying thing out of Lovecraftian mythos emerges? What would the ordinary cashier of that checkout do to save the customers and his fellow workers? See what I mean? Add romance to it, and a paranormal or fantasy romance is born. It can be sweet or erotic from light to heavy.

Urban fantasy is all about the odds. Mundane human beings becoming heroes or heroines, or maybe some unicorn must become the savior to save the virgin in distress. Especially if the unicorn is female and a shapeshifter and the virgin is a man. It’s all about how you play the urban legend and retool it for the fiction.

Any author searching for that new story they want to do should run and not walk to their local library or bookstore and check out the nonfiction section where books on ghost stories, myths, legends and urban legends are shelved. After all, there is no new tale, just how you update it for modern fiction.

http://www.sapphirephelan.com/
http://sapphirephelanspassioncorner.blogspot.com/ http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SapphirePhelansParanormalNewsletter
http://twitter.com/SapphirePhelan

If on FaceBook, become my fan there at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sapphire-Phelan/324399690647

Go beyond the usual, instead take the unusual that stretches the boundaries and find romance with Sapphire Phelan's aliens, werewolves, vampires, fairies, and other supernatural/otherworldly heroes and heroines.


Sapphire Phelan has written and published erotic and sweet paranormal/fantasy/science fiction romance along with erotic horror stories and urban fantasy. Her erotic urban fantasy, Being Familiar With a Witch is a Prism 2010 Awards winner and a Epic Awards 2010 finalist.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What an Author Needs to Know About Facebook

Some authors I know of claim to have little time to tweet or update Facebook. I won't fault them that - every minute is precious to a writer, especially if deadlines are involved. I find it amusing, though, to check my Facebook feed and discover said author has racked up a thousand virtual cornstalks in Farmville - the time spent there could have gone toward building a fan page for readers.

Facebook can be a time sink, yes, but it's also a blessing if you want a free outlet for promotion. As one of the top social networks - check that, one of the most used websites overall - Facebook provides authors with a free platform for talking about their books and driving sales. Now, if you prefer to use your account sparingly, or mainly to stay updated on close friends and family, you can still use the site. The beauty of Facebook is that you can set up a page dedicated to your career and invite readers to join and discuss there. This saves you from bringing people into your private world and cuts down on unnecessarily long news feeds in your dashboard.

What, exactly, does an author (or anybody with something to promote/sell) need to know about Facebook?

1) You need to connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Every update on Facebook goes to your Twitter feed. If you don't have time to run two profiles, run one and kill two birds. For every link you share on Facebook, Twitter will send followers to the right destination.

2) You need to apply the Static FBML application to your page. This lets you create new tabs within your page that work like miniature web pages. You can set up a small store and accept payments via PayPal or Google Checkout with just a click, or else link book covers to your respective publishers. You can embed videos of book trailers and interviews, and even set up a contact form.

3) You need to become familiar with Facebook Social Plugins. These handy web toys don't go on your account, but are applied to your main site and blog to drive traffic to your fan page and encourage interaction between the two. The Like Button, in particular, is very popular in that every person who uses it displays your information on their social profile, thereby increasing exposure of your works.

4) You need to be prepared for changes. Facebook is a network that evolves. Recently we have seen changes to structuring in the profile pages, and fan pages aren't far behind. Already the ability for fans to suggest pages to friends is stripped (only the page administrator can do that now), and very likely more "enhancements" are forthcoming. Even if you just check your page once a day, you can stay apprised of new ways to promote your work.

Creating a page on the social network takes minutes. The benefits you reap from having this base can last much longer.

Kathryn Lively writes about Virginia Beach web design, social media writing, and mobile web design.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Geddy Lee Friday - One Degree of Separation

Apologies - I had queued this post a while ago, and only now am seeing that the video has been removed. I'm not able to find a duplicate online. Funny, there's plenty of DKRC footage out there and only the Rush stuff is missing.

A few weeks ago, music lost a legend. Don Kirshner was not a musician, but a manager who supplied songwriting talent back in the days when writers like Neil Diamond, Carole King, and Gerry Goffin worked in an almost factory-like atmosphere cranking out hit after hit for other acts. If you're a Monkees fanatic like I was back in junior high, you know of Kirshner. He was largely responsible for supplying the bulk of their song catalog before the boys rebelled and demanded the right to play their own music. Kirshner also was involved in turning The Archies into a studio band. "Sugar Sugar," originally written for the Monkees and turned away, was the impetus for that. It's believed after he left The Monkee machine, the sales tanked. I have the post-Kirshner records, too, and while the music is good it was probably a bit ahead of its time. Either that, or their fan base at the time didn't know what the hell to make of it, and moved elsewhere.

Later on, Kirshner produced a late-night music show, "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert." This was a syndicated series, but as I don't recall it I'm guessing it was never picked up in Jacksonville, or else I just wasn't paying attention. The show ran nearly a decade, spanning the 70s, and appeared to be a pre-cursor to shows like "Solid Gold," a harder edged "American Bandstand," if you will. You saw acts like Alice Cooper, KISS, The Sex Pistols, Nugent, and Slade. In 1974, you might have seen a little band called Rush.



There are three things I like about this video, and I don't necessarily mean Ged, Al, and Neil:

1) No lip synching. I do remember "Solid Gold," and that show was totally Milli Vanilli. I think the only person who didn't lip synch was Wayland Flowers - you always saw his lips move when he talked through Madame.

2) Al's look. This is the image I had in my mind when writing Dead Barchetta. The Al you see here is the Lerxst in my book, right down to the slim torso and the Stevie Nicks hair.

3) Ged's suit. Give him some paint cans, drop him off in Brooklyn, and Tony Manero would step aside.  All they need is for Pam Grier to come roaring up in a Mustang to take them to the show.

So now you know the one degree separating Rush from the Monkees. RIP Don, and thanks for the music.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spam Spam Spam, Macaroni, Hold the Spam

If I ever get back to Portland, Oregon, I'm heading back to Le Bistro Montage. While at EPICon a few years back, I made a side trip over there on the recommendation of a local friend. It's a late night joint, and in the dark it looks downright unsettling given its location under some bridge. We took a taxi over and the driver knew exactly where to go, however. I made sure to call for one well before we were ready to leave - being in a strange town, I didn't know for how long I wanted to stand outside.

Inside, the place reminded me of the many college bars and eateries hubby and I patronized in Athens. Paint peeling on walls, loud music, tattooed waitresses. To read some of the Yelp reviews, you'll get a better idea of the place - if you're into haute cuisine, it's probably not for you. If you want to drink local beer and people watch, you're in heaven.

I am a mac and cheese fiend, so when I saw their menu of specialty macs I dove right in and went right for the arteries with the Spicy Spam Mac. Elbow pasta, cheese, and SPAM cubes, hot as all hell. You may think, well you can get mac and cheese pretty much anywhere. I do here, but not like this.

My sister is a forensic scientist. She works in a lab determining the origin of seized meth and weed. We like to joke that we should send her food to figure out the ingredients. I took home leftovers that night, but they didn't make it for the plane trip home. I had to rely on my memory to recreate the recipe, so here's what I did:

Since I waffle on and off Weight Watchers, I wanted to create an alternative that wouldn't contribute to my death, so here's what I came up with: I'd boil a cup of pasta, the large elbow kind since it's more conducive to holding the cheese. Then I'd take a triangle of the Laughing Cow Swiss soft cheese spread (each wedge is one WW point under the old system) and cook it up in a small pan with a splash of milk to create a sauce. Stir in some cubed lean ham instead of SPAM, then mix in the finished pasta.

To add the spice, I'd stir in some chili powder toward the end.

With hubby teaching nights, this is a quick meal I like to make for myself once in a while when I crave comfort food that isn't comfortably fattening. I could eat pasta every day, and while that might not help my weight loss I will keep looking for ways to adapt.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What I'm Knitting - Slow Progress


The advantage with Little One's pink scarf is that I knitted most of it over the holidays, so I had more time to work on it. These days, I try to get three rows done in the morning and three at night, so progress is slow. I imagine by March I'll have something substantial to wear, and it's okay because early spring can be cool in this part of the state. Perhaps by then I'll have figured out the crochet hook and can start on a matching hat. It would be nice to work on something more substantial besides simple patterns like this. Just need the time and opportunity to learn it.