Thursday, March 31, 2011

What I'm Eating - New York, Junior


There's a reason I don't move to New York. I would literally weigh as much as the Chrysler Building. I was just there this past weekend for the Rainbow Book Fair and had time to hit many of favorite places. Lot of people are mixed about Junior's, but I enjoy the lunch there. Of course, there's no picture of the cheesecake because it didn't last long. I had more patience getting a shot of the sandwich and soup.

Can't wait to come back in July.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What I'm Knitting - Back in the Pink


It could be a hat, or a brooch, or a pterodactyl...

Actually, I think it will be another Kobo cover. I pickup a few extras from the closing Borders in Newport News. I know I'll give away one at Authors After Dark - the other might go into the RT bag I'm putting together. I still have a few days to decide. It would be nice to have a few homemade covers on hand for prizes. I just need to learn how to knit my URL into them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mockingjay...Okay

Before I picked up the Hunger Games books, the last YA-level books I'd read were the Harry Potters. Where genre is concerned, dystopia is not really my thing - paranormal I will read to some extent, but I find I gravitate to the types of stories I tend to write. With The Hunger Games, I had in my hands a story unlike anything else I'd read. I was reminded somewhat of those old Mad Max movies from the 80s, but like I said this isn't a genre I read so perhaps other readers think this is old hat.

By the time I got through Mockingjay, however, I'm sorry to say my interest in the series waned. If I know there's a trilogy, I do my best to stick it out, even if I'm underwhelmed by one book. Catching Fire, I think, was a better story than Mockingjay, though I had my issues with that one, particularly with Collins' habit of telling not showing in parts. Reading other reviews, I gathered more readers were interested in the supposed love triangle between the three principles - Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. That didn't concern me, since these really are not mean to read as romances. I won't spoil how Mockinjay resolves that, but I do think the last few chapters read a bit rushed and fell to a touch of deus ex machina. If you've seen The Manchurian Candidate (the original version), you'll see that influence in there.

Will I see the movies? I'm undecided. I don't get out to movies unless it's a cartoon with the little one. I'm a Harry Potter behind already. I suppose I'll wait for the casting news to come out before I decide on that.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Gems from the Trunk

I've been doing some spring cleaning lately, going through abandoned WIPs to determine if they are worth pursuing. I'd never written a cowboy piece before, and started this one a while back. I had to set it aside, though, to finished the Silver Wings project. Anyway, here's how it began.

~ * ~

No fucking way.

Walt Mccade remained rooted to the spot, oblivious to passersby dragging rollaway luggage and squalling children behind them. He kept the sign at chest level, thinking perhaps the double-take expression shot in his direction might fade into embarrassment when the young man neared and realized he read the name incorrectly.

Because no way in Hell did this person, this slender boy in the pleated slacks and blue Polo shirt...no way could he be...

They stood nearly toe to toe now in the busy concourse, with Walt staring into eyes deeper than the richest dark chocolate.

"Hank Finnegan," the young man said, and extended a hand.

~ * ~

Like I said, work in progress. Wayyy progress.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Keep a Winning Attitude

Those acquainted with me personally know I work in social media for the day job. My career as an Internet marketer began years ago in Atlanta, back before even Google hatched. In the late 20th century, the mindset of search engine optimization was that if you just submitted URLs with regularity to all the major sites (Hotbot, Lycos, Ask Jeeves...dang, it's like remembering when you had a Vic 20 computer) you were gold. I can not think of a more volatile industry than the one in which I work. There are times you literally have to start over, you are a perpetual student.

So naturally when Charlie Sheen announced his intention to hire an intern, I had to see how I rated among the 70K-plus applicants. Yes, I am aware of the notoriety attached to this, but I viewed this application as part challenge and part curiosity. Do I have what it takes to work at such a high level?

I took my entry seriously, too: this is what I do for a living...for now, at least. I must say I'm happy to see how far I have progressed in the search.

Depending on which source you believe, the Round 3 applicants either number 50 or 250. Having made the cut from 70,000+ is a nice boost for the ego, but then came the task of creating a video. In this multi-media round, I discuss the company best working in social media right now:


Let's see if I get to post about Round 4. Do I have the #tigerblood? I am Type O, if that means anything. In ten years, I hope to at least have #cougarblood. ;-)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Geddy Lee Friday - Blah Blah Blah

Looks like we may finally have found the elusive t-shirt that is so uniquely Geddy.



Thanks to my Rush fan spies, somebody spotted this Cafepress shop with the closest thing to the actual Blah Blah Blah shirt. Have at, folks.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What I'm Eating - Sweet Cream

When I was in college, I could put away an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream and not even think about it afterward. What I wouldn't give to have that metabolism back. I still love ice cream, but I must enjoy it in severe moderation these days. When I voluntarily went off dairy, it was the hardest thing I had to give up. I still don't drink milk, but I'd gladly give up cheese as well if it meant I could still have ice cream.

Recently, the gourmet sandwich shop up the street started stocking Jeni's. This is an Ohio-based brand that offers unusual flavors that would cause Baskin and/or Robbins to raise an eyebrow and cringe. Yes, there's Dark Chocolate, but I'm sure it's the kind you marry rather than eat. I would have bought that pint, but I opted instead for Salty Caramel, which is exactly how their website describes: a burnt sugar base coupled with a salty-sweet finish. I couldn't tell you what to pair it with - it doesn't need the added texture of a brownie or cone to improve upon the flavor.

At ten bucks a pint, though, this must be a sometimes treat, bought when I have a good month at Kindle. I find their seasonal flavors equally intriguing. I hope I can get back to the store before all the Goat Cheese Cognac Fig is sold out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

100 Facts About Me, Part Two

Continuing with the #100factsaboutme game, before the trending drops off the Twitter...

26) My last supper: hard to say. I'm Sicilian, we were born eating. However, since it's the last meal let's make it count. Fried chicken with macaroni and cheese, and wedge of NY style cheesecake. Southern Comfort with cranberry, twist of lime. See you in Hell.

27) I don't normally do desert island music/movie things anymore. For one, there are few movies I'd watch over and again outside the first few Rocky films, and I'd settle for a mix of music on a perpetually running iPod. Which leads to the next fun facts:

28) Favorite bands: The Beatles and Rush. I got into The Beatles very young. Wings was still active back in the late 70s and they were the gateway. Rush I got into when I met my husband. I think I've surpassed him in the fanboi department there.

29) Favorite movies: Dr. Strangelove, Moonstruck, and the first three Rocky films. Also loved the movies the Beatles made - good fun.

30) Favorite TV shows: MASH, Quantum Leap, and Night Court.


31) Favorite sports teams: Atlanta Braves, Jax Jaguars, the Yankees. Not into hockey or basketball.

32) Ballparks I've visited: Fulton County Stadium, Ted Turner Field, and the new park in Cincinnati. When I was younger we'd go down to Vero Beach to see the Dodgers.

33) Favorite ride at Disney World: Space Mountain

34) Favorite ride at Universal Studios: Back to the Future. Haven't been to Harry Potter world yet.

35) Last book read at this point: Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd

36) Foreign countries I've visited: Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas

37) I may be adding the UK and Germany this fall. Depends on Dad's health.

38) It's for a genealogy trip. We've managed to trace his side back several generations.

39) Things I collect: matchbooks, pressed pennies, wine corks

40) Favorite wines: Viognier and Cabernet Franc

41) Favorite Virginia wineries: Cardinal Point, Veritas Vineyards, Pollak Vineyards

42) Favorite mixed drinks: White Russian, Scarlett O'Hara

43) Favorite martini: the Razzatini, don't ask me what's in it. Bartenders seem to know what it is when I order it, though.

44) Favorite pizza topping: sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, spinach

45) Favorite guilty pleasure: White Castles

46) Favorite chocolate brands: Vosges, Patric

47) Favorite Vosges bar: Mo's Dark Bacon

48) Favorite Ice Cream: Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk

49) Favorite Soda: Coca-Cola, but I only get the Mexican kind that's made with real sugar

50) Favorite non-chocolate candy: Sweet Tarts

Coming soon: Part 3, the TMI edition

What I'm Making: Promo-Ho

Taking a break from the knitting while I get some RT Convention promo in order. I ordered keychain lights which will hopefully arrive soon, and I have stickers with my QR code - I plan to have those on business cards to pass out. Recently I found a site for Romance Trading Cards, which is a grass roots effort among RT authors to have a collectible for guests to trade, collect, etc. There are a number of participants, and since I have a new book to share I thought I would do up a few to hand out. If you want one, just look for me at the con and it's yours.

Here is the Kat card for Dead Barchetta. A Leigh card is in the works, still trying to decide which one to do.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hey, Kids, Want a Free Kindle Reader?

When I hear "new book" and "free Kindle" I just go tingly inside. If eBooks have done anything positive for me, they have me reading again. In my 20s when I read print I put away 100 books or more, but jobs and parenting and writing kept me from the time I could relax with a good book, or even a crummy one. With my own eBook reader, I am gaining that time back. I have the Kobo and the Sony, and a Kindle would be great, too.

That Moira Rogers is generous enough to give one away in conjunction with a new release is exciting. Having seen True Grit set me up to look for more Westerns, so I am very intrigued by this new book coming out. Will definitely have to check it out in between writing Lerxst's next adventure.

Wilder’s Mate Kindle Contest

Want to win a brand new Wi-Fi Kindle 3? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, and you can have your chance! For more chances to win, visit the main contest page. Every participating blog you visit gives you another chance to win!

This post is part of Moira Rogers’ Wild Web Adventure Promo.
For full rules and disclaimers, or to hold your own kindle contest, visit the contest post.
Winners will be chosen during the first week of April.

http://www.moirarogers.com/blog/archives/3473

Monday, March 21, 2011

100 Facts About Me, Part One

#100factsaboutme is trending on Twitter right now. Several years ago I had a 100 Things page on my main Kat website, but it's since disappeared in the wake of several redesigns. I doubt I can remember everything I wrote there, but I'm sure I can come up with another 100 things to shock and amaze you. I may consider myself an open book, but I'll let you decide. Hopefully nothing you'll read will deter you from wanting to come back here. I'll publish these in four parts.

1) I was 19 when I sold my first story. I was paid $150 for it, half immediately and half on publication. Took over a year to publish. Lesson learned: in publishing, be patient.

2) I was 29 was my first novel was published. Little Flowers was put out through a small house run by two sisters who, as it turned out, got in over their heads. I've told the story before, and in this new age of publishing it bears repeating as a warning. Someday. Anyway, you can still get Little Flowers on the Kindle, and it's sold better since I put it out than when it was at the first press.

3) The first novel length work I wrote was a middle-reader Star Trek book I wanted to sell through Bantam when they were doing Starfleet Academy books. Didn't happen.

4) In college I participated in a group novel writing project with other students. Experience was great, novel was crap.

5) I still have two incomplete trunk novels, handwritten, in binders. It's my goal to get them out in 2012.

6) My favorite authors are Dick Francis, James Ellroy, Carrie Fisher, and Agatha Christie.

7) I lived in Florida half of my life, and have spent the last decade in Virginia.

8) I really want to go back to Florida.

9) I work in social media for my day job. Also for my night job. And the mid-shift.

10) I look forward to the day I can work completely from home and set my own schedule.

11) As long as hubby keeps buying bicycles and cars, that's not happening.

12) People seem to think I love to work 24 hours a day. Not true. I only work 20 hours a day.

13) In all, I have published thirteen novels over two names, maybe more. I lose count.

14) I am presently working on number 14, a little bit at a time.

15) I will have been married for 17 years in July, but will have been with Hubby for 20 years in November.

16) I'd only had one serious boyfriend before him.

17) We broke up ultimately over religious differences.

18) I try not to discuss religion if I don't have to, despite having written four books on that theme.

19) My choice is life.

20) I don't consider myself a political person. I had registered as a Republican initially, but I don't identify as one.

21) My first car was a Mustang. I miss that car.

22) Second car was a red Pontiac Firebird. A cousin once said it was too sexy for me. She might have been right.

23) I have been to every state in the US with the exception of Hawaii, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

24) I have been to six Canadian provinces (five while driving to get to Alaska).

25) The goal for 2011 is to get to Germany for a genealogy trip. I would like to sneak a day or two in the UK, since that might be the only chance I get to go.

Next post: I talk about food, and Rush. Maybe sex.

What I'm Reading - Picking Up Pieces

I might have mentioned on Twitter that our local Border's has been spared the ax. The one in Newport News was not so lucky, and after visiting to see what we could get I realize how it ended up on the chopping block. Even though that Border's was connected to a mall, it wasn't in the best location. Parking proved a challenge when we went, for one. If you have to drive for twenty minutes to park, you likely start to think you can get what you need at the Barnes and Noble a block away (literally, there is one that close), where there is ample parking. The day we arrived, books were set around 25-30% off, which is okay. I think if you have Borders Rewards you might get a better deal.

Anyway, I had hoped to pick up a few things for my RT drawing basket, and came away with some items. The Kobo reader was also marked down to $80 so I bought one. It's still in the box - my idea was to use it for a giveaway, but Hubby has his eye on it. I might get him a Nook to distract him, since I want one, too. The Sony readers were also marked down, but not by much.

I recently started a new blog, because I'm a masochist. Books That Rock Us looks at music-themed books - a suitable topic since I plan to write a few more rock and roll mysteries, and DLP has relevant titles. In my quest to find more books for that project, I picked up memoirs by Patti Smith and Pattie Boyd. I've wanted to read the latter's one for a while. I almost pulled the trigger on Keith Richards' book, but I think I will hold out for paperback or eBook on that one.

I bought a few middle reader starter books for the little one as well, the first Little House and a Nancy Drew collection. I started on them, so why not? If she wants to graduate from the classics to sparkling vampires I won't protest. At least she'll be reading.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Guest Blog: DC Juris

Today on Me Want Food, I welcome DC Juris!

Thanks for stopping to chat! Please tell us a bit about your latest release, or what's coming up.

Thanks for having me! ::looks around:: Nice place you've got here! This month, my latest release comes from Breathless Press. "Follow His Heart" is the final installment in The Sky People Trilogy, following the relationship of Tristan and his otherworldly lover, Jinsu. I sincerely hope those who've followed the series will like the way it turns out.

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

I have an Evil Day Job, so I only get really two days out of the week to write - Wednesday and Sunday. Both days you'll find me in my writing office, either working on a WIP or my website, or organizing notes, etc. I don't have a set way that I go about the day, other than starting with a nice, hot cup of tea.

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

I have an iPad with the Kindle app, and I absolutely love it. I bought one of the first Kindles that came out, but I found I wasn't using it as much, because it wasn't multifunctional. With the iPad, if I get bored reading, I can just switch to the word processing app, or play Boggle, or something.

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

As for WIPs, right now, I have 11 projects in the works, which is about normal for me. I've still got some wiggle room for submission calls that catch my eye. As far as releases, look for several from Breathless Press, including my very own seven-story anthology, and at least a few from Torquere, and even a couple from Noble Romance.

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

I do! I have two blogs, but mostly I'm on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dcjuris

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

That's actually a really hard question, music-wise, because not many artists/bands have complete albums that I like everything on. Hmm…I guess Billy Joel's Greatest Hits. For DVD of a show, "Babylon 5", just because I never got to finish out the series, and I've been meaning to. The movie is easy- "Lake Placid." Love me some Oliver Platt.

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

The Trevor Project is the charity dearest to my heart. It's a suicide prevention organization for GLBTQ youth. If I'd know something like that was out there when I was growing up, it would've made a world of difference in how I viewed myself, and how I coped with the bullying and abuse I went through on a daily basis. Childhood is hard for a heterosexual child, but it can be absolute torment for a GLBTQ child. The thing that every child has in common, regardless of any differences, is just wanting to be loved and allowed to flourish and grow into themselves in safety, without fearing for their welfare, and yes, in some cases, their lives. I wish more people understood that underneath everything, we're all just human, and we deserve to be treated as such. http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Will we see you at any cons/signings soon? 

Yes! I'm actually taking the plunge this year and attending GayRomLit in New Orleans in October! http://gayromlit.com/index.php

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

 Adam West, who played the original Batman in the TV show. OMG. Have you seen that rear end in those tights??? I don't need any other reason.

New Release Blurb:

Tristan awakens on Torottu, but the portal wasn't meant for humans, and he's been near death since his arrival almost ten months ago. That's okay, though, because now that he's awake, he and Jinsu can start their life together. The problem? Jinsu has no idea who Tristan is—the return trip through the portal erased his memory of Earth, of their relationship, or Tristan himself. Winning Jinsu's heart again won't be easy, especially if Kelan, Jinsu's twin, has anything to say about it. Kelan loves Jinsu, too, and he won't be put aside for Tristan. Not again. Tristan knows his only chance for happiness—and the only chance for Jinsu and Kelan—is to follow his heart.

Excerpt:

Tristan stood in what was surely the most massive throne room ever made. Thick round columns lined each side, spanning the distance between the floor and the ceiling like silent guards. The floor itself looked to be made of some kind of stone, but Tristan noticed that no one's feet made any noise on it, including his own. The wall on the left side of the room was not a wall at all, but a single long, large window. At the tops of the remaining walls, where they should've met the ceiling, were multicolored sheets of glass, reminding Tristan of stained glass windows, but with larger pieces and no soldered lead holding it all together.

In front of him, several feet away, was an ornately carved chair in which a thin, lanky man with shortly-cropped black hair lounged almost lazily—one leg crossed over the other, left elbow resting on the arm of the chair. Galdrin, he presumed. The only other color in the room besides the windows was the vibrant red of Galdrin's outfit.

The plump man bowed to Galdrin and took his place slightly to the right of the chair.

Tristan squared his shoulders and stood straighter, facing Galdrin head on, looking him directly in the eyes. He'd never met anyone with such a title—hell, he didn't even know the name of the mayor in the town he'd lived in—and he was a little uncertain what was expected of him. Now for his coup d'état.

"Koma bon Jinsu?"

Hard to keep the smugness from his tone and off his face, especially when Galdrin's eyes widened like that and he sat forward just that much in his seat. "You know some of our tongue."

Well, so much for the advantage of surprise. "You know mine."

Galdrin inclined his head. "Somewhat. I am Emperor Galdrin."

"Where is Jinsu?" Tristan didn't care if Galdrin was God; he'd go through anyone to find Jinsu. Period.

"Would you like something to eat?"

"No. Where is Jinsu?" He took a step closer, but stopped when Galdrin leveled an glare at him that teetered on the line between imperial and deadly, and Tristan couldn't tell which side of that line it favored.

"A drink, then, perhaps." Galdrin gestured to a small table off to his right, several ornate glasses and a pitcher atop it.

Somewhat my ass. "Where is Jinsu?" Though truthfully, Tristan couldn't remember ever having been as hungry and thirsty as he was at that moment.

Galdrin gestured to the plump man. "You have met Berata. He is the healer who saved your life."

"And I'm grateful. Where is Jinsu?"

"What do you want with Jinsu?"

Tristan swallowed hard, wondering how much he should tell. How much did the emperor already know? Instincts told him to keep the details to a minimum, but what if the emperor knew everything, and this question was some sort of test of his honesty? Maybe that was why Jinsu wasn't there. Maybe they had interrogated him until he'd told them everything, and then they'd killed him.

Tristan took a deep breath and closed his eyes, trying to calm his racing mind. I've been watching too many bad movies. Best to tell the emperor everything. Tristan related his tale to the emperor, who kept his thoughts on the subject to himself—didn't utter so much as an um or an ah. He told the emperor about Jinsu's illness, and how they'd found the portal, how the journey had seemed to rip him apart, and how he'd awakened on the floor. He finished his tale, and the emperor sat back, rubbing his thumb along his chin, forehead wrinkled and eyes narrow.

"You present an interesting dilemma for me, Tristan."

"Listen, just take me to Jinsu and he can explain everything. I know you must not trust me or believe me—"

"Oh, I believe you."

"You…you do?" What the hell?

"Why would I not? You clearly know Jinsu, and of our world, you were found with him in the cave where our portal is located, and you can speak our language. The problem is not what I believe. It is what Jinsu believes."

"What do you mean?" The tiny hairs on the back of Tristan's neck stood up, and a cold dread crept up his spine.

"As I said, you present an interesting dilemma. There is a reason why our two worlds do not interact. Call it a failsafe. Your people might call it fate or a higher power. Do you know how long you have been here?"

Tristan shook his head. He didn't too much care for the emperor's ominous, Darth Vader tone, and half expected the character's trademark heavy breathing to follow everything Galdrin said.

"Going on ten months now."

"Ten months?" Tristan echoed, horrified. He'd lost ten months of time with Jinsu?

"Ten months," Galdrin confirmed. "You were near death when they found you, or at least they assumed you were."

Galdrin glanced at Berata for a moment, then went back to scrutinizing Tristan, the glare of his icy blue eyes made Tristan want to curl into a ball and hide away. "There is no easy way to say this, and I have never had to break such news, so forgive me if my delivery is lacking. The fact of the matter is that Jinsu does not remember you. We do not know why it happens, but it is a side effect of the return trip for my people. The humans die…and we forget them."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book Trailers for Authors: Are They Really Necessary?

Yes, I have made video trailers for some of my books:





I have even created live action promotional videos:



Once in a while I'll be asked how effective video trailers are with regards to book sales. Are people more likely to buy a book after seeing a one minute slideshow set to music and spiffy sound effects? Honestly, I cannot say for certain. I do admit, I have personally not seen improvement among titles that have trailers attached as opposed to ones that don't. I have yet to hear from an author that sales spiked once they uploaded a video to YouTube, either. So, you may ask, why bother doing it at all? Why not just expend the time and energy promoting in other ways?

I would not blame you if you decided never to create a trailer or pay to have one done. If you try it yourself, you'll discover it's very time-consuming. You have to find the right photos and music, test fonts and transitions, and drum your fingers while the damn thing uploads. All that work and you may be lucky if five people see the thing. How is that supposed to bring in readers.

Well, here's what you need to consider: YouTube is not just a site for video sharing, it's the second largest search engine in the world. Millions of videos are watched, uploaded and shared daily. You'll read this and think yours is just a mere speck in a sea, but if you optimize your video correctly, it will benefit you in the long run. This is because search engines like Google and Yahoo are moving toward algorithms of blended search results. Five years ago, you typed in a key phrase and received only website results. These days, a variety of sources pop up - sites, blogs, videos, and shopping links. The more often you get your name into Internet sources outside of static sites, the more relevant you are to search engines that cache information for the keywords under which you want to be found.

Another advantage to the book trailers, too, is that they are easily shared. If people don't directly view them on YouTube, they may be found on blogs, Facebook, and elsewhere. Videos have the ability to imprint your name in the minds of readers. Even one minute in front of a Flip camera reading from your work can do wonders.

It is my goal to video more events I attend, if only to record for my little one what her mother did once. Perhaps one day I'll sell a book based on a video watched. It's still a sale I might not have won otherwise.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What I'm Drinking: St. What's?

This is a day we normally associate with beer. Whether it's a pint of smoky Guinness or a plastic cup of horse water dyed green, beer is what's on tap on St. Patrick's Day. Not being Irish, or a beer drinker, I tend to limit my imbibing on this day. Even though the holiday doesn't fall on a meatless Friday this year, you won't find any corned beef on my plate, either. I have decided to go veg for Lent for the full forty days, and the Sundays that are traditionally breaks from the fast. Usually when I do this I try to go longer to see how it takes before I crack. I don't usually last long, but I have a lot going on mentally and spiritually and could use the cleanse. I also want to wear skinny jeans again, one day.

I have decided, however, I will not deprive myself completely of vices. I might not eat as much chocolate this Lent, but I think I will hang onto the Virginia wine. Rather, I'll drink it, because we have so damn much of it. You should see the Excel spreadsheet I made up that cross references varietals and vineyards. Hubby and I have a few favorites among the Central Virginia wineries: Veritas, Blenheim, Pollak, and Cardinal Point for four. There's always at least one bottle from these four in the house, and I suspect it will take several Lents before we make a dent in the traveling cellar. If I had to choose a favorite varietal, I'd say Cabernet Franc red and Viognier white, which the Virginia wineries seem to do especially well. I'll certainly toast to St. Patrick this night, count on it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What I'm Knitting - Nothing Right Now, It's Done

My Kobo is now snuggly warm, and quite fashionable, too.


I have enough of that yarn to do another one, which I might do. Mom is looking at a Nook, so maybe I'll get the dimensions from her and knit one up right quick. If I can work on stitching better, I may start giving them away at cons and such. Or start on Etsy - like I need to do more work that keeps me from writing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Am the God of Hell Fire and I Bring You...

Of course, the crazy world of Arthur Brown (look him up, toddlers) has little to do with the dangerous world of Katniss Everdeen. I've just wanted to use that title for a while now.

So I have finished The Hunger Games, and I rather liked it. Dystopia fiction isn't typically my bag, but I know this trilogy is hot right now. If it came down to dystopic angst versus sparkling vampires, I'll go with the former, and the first book certainly delivered there. I'm more than halfway through Catching Fire, though, and am just frustrated as all hell. I don't want to spoil the story for anybody, but I will say that the situations arising here have me feeling for the main characters. To get through one ordeal only to face something more grueling inspires those feelings. Yet, we couldn't have a trio of books to read if nothing happened after the first one, right?

Seems I'm reading these at a good time, too, given movie talk. Naturally Book One is greenlighted - there's just the question of finding the right cast. Already the Twitterverse is abuzz with cautious accusations of white-washing before it's even happened. Katniss describes herself as olive-skinned and dark-haired, so naturally Hollywood is looking for a blonde to play her. As a brunette of Italian descent, I'm miffed. This film better have a nice makeup budget.

So, we'll see how Mockingjay goes before I render a final verdict on this trilogy. I likely won't pick up another title of similar genre - like I said, it's not my bag - but I'm sure I'll be persuaded otherwise.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I'd like to thank the Academy, Charlie Sheen, the Angry Birds, etc.

I'd been asked why, since I live only an hour or so away from this year's venue, why I did not attend EPICon this year. It's a rather personal reason, but my husband required oral surgery and the best date to have it done was EPICon weekend. Because we have a little one bent on destruction, I couldn't leave the two of them alone, so here I sit at home while everybody parties.

It had to be a year, too, that I'm up for an award. I've mentioned before that I've been nominated for the EPIC (formerly the EPPIE) many times in the past: sometimes as author, sometimes as editor. Never won. This year marked my second nomination in Poetry. I try not to play skeptic, but I don't consider myself a strong poet, just an odd one. Surely I didn't have a chance, right?

Ha.

I heard the news straight from the #EPICon Twitter feed that Alessia Brio posted throughout the evening: Nuclear Soul by LK Ellwood has won the 2011 EPIC Award for Best Poetry eBook! It's my first EPIC award, and the first one for DLP Books, too. Not bad for a girl who received bad marks in poetry in my college creative writing class. Actually, I'm being hard on myself - they weren't all bad, and I did get an A in the course. Anyway, Nuclear Soul is just $.99 in eBook. You can buy it at OmniLit and download to your reader. Now that it's an award winner, I think I will try to get it in print. Thing is, it's rather short, so I might have to write some more.

What rhymes with orange?

Six Sentence Sunday - Hush Little Baby

For those of you who had followed the earlier thread of my award show WIP, just so you know: our hero wins. That, however, is only the beginning, and I am editing the beginning and middle now.

Going to switch gears this week and relive a back list title, Enter Sandman, an M/M short out now with Phaze Books. It's a personal fave, and a sequel is still brewing. Just need a 48-hour day or two to get it done. Enjoy.

~*~

Any other night, Len Crocker would be out on the lighted floor, grinding and gyrating amid crowded bodies, energized by the collective musk of hard men, horny men, queens and twinks and bears—oh my! Now, perched on a stool at the bar, hunched over a steaming mug of coffee, he just wanted everything to mute and morph into a Quaalude dream, slow enough to let him slip away without Spike and Gerry noticing. He wanted the bartender, hovering close with the coffee pot as though waiting to refill, to go away. He wanted Gwen to shut the fuck up. He wanted to go home and sleep, but knew that wasn’t an option. Hadn’t been for six weeks now.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Join the ARe Cafe!

Passing along this great news. If you have joined the ARe Cafe already, you're welcome to friend me there.

www.AReCafe.com
All Romance™ eBooks Opens the ARe Café™ to the Public:
eBook Lovers Finally Have Their Own Network


The digital eBook retailer All Romance eBooks (ARe™) opened the virtual doors of its ARe Café today to the public, finally revealing the new reader-centered social networking area integrated with the existing All Romance™/Omnilit™ retail sites.

Palm Harbor, FL (March 7, 2011): Finally, there’s a website devoted to the world of bibliophiles, including readers, authors, bloggers and publishers. While the Café functions much like Facebook and other social networking platforms, the ARe Café offers much more information, news, events, videos and podcasts from every corner of the book world.

The site features areas for eBook tips and help, for visitors to see what the most popular book bloggers are posting, what events their favorite authors or fellow readers are attending, and news, videos and podcasts from the book world gathered from all over the web and compiled in one place for easy viewing with a click of a mouse.

The information added from the All Romance/Omnlit retail site integration allows visitors to see in real time the last book purchased, as well as the latest reviews posted by fellow readers.

The Recommended Reads column, one of the most popular features in ARe’s Wildfire newsletter, will now have a permanent home in the Cafe. All of the columnists’ Top Picks, recommendations and reading lists are conveniently archived under the Books tab in the Café.

Social aspects within the Café include discussion forums found in the Groups area, and a Featured Author section where readers will find interviews with favorite authors. Visitors can also participate in the monthly book club led by Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blogger Sarah Wendell, and receive rebates on the featured book.

Once a visitor has set up a free Café account they can connect it to their Twitter and Facebook. Users can Tweet comments and Like topics. The Café Facebook and Twitter integration feature allows members to elect to push status updates out to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, all from within the Cafe .

ABOUT ALL ROMANCE eBOOKS

All Romance eBooks, LLC was founded in 2006, is privately held in partnership, and headquartered in Palm Harbor, Florida. The company owns AllRomance.com, which specializes in the sale of romance eBooks and OmniLit.com, which sells both fiction and non-fiction eBooks.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Geddy Lee Friday - Oh, Canada!


All you pop tart singers, take note: it isn't necessary to put your own personal stamp on a national anthem. No need to stretch a note for forty-five seconds and fill in pauses with that "Whoa-oh- OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" crap. Just sing the song.

The anthem of my country was originally written as a march. I'll never understand the need to sing it like a gospel tune.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One Waldorf Salad, Hold the Statler

Once in a while you get a craving for something you don't have very often. For me, that would be the Waldorf Salad. Apparently they aren't very common in remote parts of England:


I recall several years ago my husband had prepared a doctored salad using tuna along with the other ingredients. For this small supper, I adapted a recipe found on the Food Network for a lower fat version. Instead of going full boar with the mayo, I used a serving of Greek yogurt, and for the apples I cut one Gala and one Granny Smith to stir in the with golden raisins, the dressing, the celery and the pepper. The walnuts came after a brief chilling period.



Together, the mixture turned out pretty good, and to complement the salad I sliced and fried up part of a sweet potato and sprinkled it with cinnamon and chipotle powder. There's enough left over that I might stir in some chicken later for some protein.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What I'm Knitting - Kobo Kozy

The progress of the Kobo Kozy is moving right along. Now that I do not have the bandage on anymore, I can get back to proper knitting and purling:


I suspect in a few weeks I'll have it done and I can work on something new. I will do one more "square" patterned object before I get out the book and work on something more advanced. The Knitting for Dummies ebook I bought is on loan - maybe when it's back I'll be done with this.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Hunger for Reading

I figure, as long as I am lending Kindle and Nook books through these specialty sites I might as well take advantage of the credits I had racked up and borrow one. Thing is, most of the titles that interested me were either not available to lend, or nobody on the sharing sites had the book. So, after poking around the recommendations a bit and seeing Mockingjay come up on a number of lists, I decided it best to start at the beginning. Within an hour of making the request, a kind soul lent me The Hunger Games.

I don't normally read YA - the Harry Potter books were the last ones I read. Seems every time I visit Barnes and Noble the YA section is growing and taking on a more mature slant. When I was younger, the YAs were slim paperbacks with art drawing covers - lots of series.... Sweet Valley, The Girls of Canby Hall. Now I see thick hardcovers with sophisticated wrap covers. The stories appear to follow suit - I don't recall reading anything like this in my teens. It doesn't surprise me now to hear how many adults are reading books like these.

Of course, as a teenager I graduated quickly from Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie, perhaps because I hungered for more mature stories to read. I am already a chapter into this one, and am looking forward to see how it turns out.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Guest Blog: Sarah-Jane Lehoux

Here at Me Want Food, I am happy to welcome fellow Mundania author Sarah-Jane Lehoux to chat! Thanks for stopping by! Please tell us a bit about your latest release, or what's coming up.

SHADES OF WAR was released by Mundania Press at the end of November 2010. It is the second book in the Sevy series. Shades again follows Sevy, this time to the Northern Jungles of Axlun, where she must face her inner demons, angry spirits, and a serial killer all while trying to save her best friend from a furious mob of xenophobes. As with THIEF, SHADES OF WAR explores issues of moral relativism, but goes a step further to delve into redemption and forgiveness, and how one can work through past mistakes and make a more positive future for themselves and others.

How did you become inspired to write this work?

As I was writing THIEF, the first in the Sevy series, I realized that there was so much more of this character and world to be explored. But I didn’t know what the next book should be about. As what often happens when I think a lot on one subject, I had a very vivid dream which provided me both the setting and the plot for SHADES. The dream was set in a jungle environment, and had a number of prominent images that stuck with me once I woke: a red and blue snake, a woman’s shoe, a screaming monkey, and a baby swaddled in leaves and blood. Pretty cryptic stuff, but it all linked up together nicely in my head.

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

I write in the evenings, mostly due to the fact that I have a full time job and the evenings are the only time I have available. I haven’t used a set schedule in the past; I mostly just wrote as the mood struck me. Now, I am trying to make a concerted effort to reach a minimum word count every day. It’s the only way I’ll finish my current projects in any reasonable amount of time.

Lately, I’ve been using Write or Die. Just plug in the amount of time, the number of words, and type away. I put on music that suits whatever the tone of the scene I’m writing, and just go for it. In the past, I’ve been a picky writer and would obsess over each line. Now I’m going for more of a stream of consciousness style, with heavy editing once I finish each chapter.

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

SHADES OF WAR was the easiest. I had already had the majority of the characters set up from THIEF, and I had a plot that just seemed to write itself and form all sorts of connections and underlying themes that I wasn’t aware of until I went back and read it. So far, MASQUERADE is proving the most difficult. I think that’s due to the subject matter. I’m putting Sevy through a character arc that’s really challenging because, for the most part, she is being forced to act like someone else. It makes it hard because my mind is screaming, “But Sevy wouldn’t do that! She’d do this instead!”

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

Both equally. Readers can purchase my books in both formats. I don’t really have a preference, but in terms of sales, it seems like eBooks are the future.

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

No, I don’t own an e-reader. Unfortunately, I have certain problems with my vision that make it impossible for me to read off of a screen for long lengths of time. Plus, I prefer holding an actual book in my hands. I suppose I’m horribly old-fashioned in that regard.

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

I’m trying to finish up MASQUERADE, the third book in the Sevy series, by June so that it will be ready for publication by November or December of this year. Once I’m done with that, I’d like to focus on RED ROVER, which is a comedic fantasy that I’ve been playing with for the past year. And if I’m lucky enough to finish up that, there is an untitled young adult novel that’s been swimming around my head for awhile now. Basically, I have a lot of ideas and now I just need to get off my duff and get to work!

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

Yep. If readers go to http://sarah-janelehoux.com/contact.htm they can find a list of links to such sites as Twitter and Facebook, among others.

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

They can visit www.sarah-janelehoux.blogspot.com for weekly updates, or sign up for my quarterly newsletter on my website.

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

Music: “O” by Damien Rice because it’s the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard.
TV: I don’t watch tv. I’m too cheap to pay for cable, and besides that, there’s never anything good on anyway.
Movie: The Color Purple. Because no matter how many times I watch it, I always get sucked into it. It is so visually striking, so emotionally compelling, and always provides such a cathartic release.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Self-Publishing: In Which the Lifeless Horse Meets the Blunt Instrument

Note: this article was queued up weeks ago, long before my spontaneous Neil Peart things. I'm leaving it up because I still feel these points need to be made.

I want to issue a caveat to the authors who are on the fence about self-publishing as opposed to searching for a royalty-paying house. If you follow DIY pub king JA Konrath's blog, you'll see he offers a nice comparison of legacy publishing versus self-publishing here. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, and if you know what you're doing you don't need to read this. Instead, why not head over to Amazon or Smashwords or Barnes and Noble and pick up your very own copy of Dead Barchetta to read, for the amazingly low price of $2.99? Lerxst will thank you.

My message today is for the unpolished newbie, that person with a story to tell yet no clue as how to present it. You are bombarded by data from all corners of the publishing spectrum. Do it yourself, keep all the money! Get an agent, let him find you the best deal! Go with a legacy publisher, they'll do all the promo work! Heh. I fell into that last trap ten years ago - that's a story for another day.

The message I bring to you is this: the second you format your work for independent publication, slap on that cover and send it out for the world to buy - IT IS FINISHED! You have popped that cherry and there is no turning back. Now, if you are confident about your book and have a marketing plan in place - the Twitter, the ads, the giveaways on Goodreads - terrific! May the wind be at your back and your enemies snarking on somebody else. If, however, at the end of two months you find two sales in the till and you decide to adopt the Bart Simpson maxim of "I wasn't good at it right away, so I quit," remember what I said about popping the cherry. You can't restore your book's virginity for a legacy/small press publisher to consider.

Who the hell am I to tell you this? I acquire books for a small press. It is written right in our guidelines that we will no longer consider reprint rights from authors who are not already published with us. This is because we cannot predict the sales potential of a work by an unknown that has been made available. Backlist works of authors in our house are easier to judge based upon the author's sales history and demand for that backlist. I would be lying if I told you that reprints we have acquired sold poorly - some have, but one of our strongest long-tail sellers is a reprint, boosted largely by that author's subsequent exposure via a larger publisher.

When you have established the career of a JA Konrath, you are more likely to find publishers willing to distribute your reprints. If you are Maynard Q. Dutchoven with one entry posted on a five-year-old blog, it's more of a challenge.

You will ask, what about people like Amanda Hocking who have done so well? I say I'm glad she did, and that if you don't acquire her good fortune you should have a back plan. In fact, you should have the plan before you do anything.

Am I saying you should not self-publish? No. I do it, and I also publish via small presses. I am saying to THINK before you do it, then think some more. Know everything about DIY vs. legacy, and chart your course. If you fail, write your next book and think some more. The one thing you don't want to do is drain a dairy cow completely, then decide two months later you should take it to market and see who is interested. Five years ago, I never heard an acquisition editor talk about how they would run prospective authors through Google before reading their submissions. Now it's the first thing they (and I) do because we want to be sure people are following our instructions. I see these "show me the CARFAX" commercials and realize how well I relate.

Also, don't lie about your book's history. The Internet is forever. If you try to pass off a book as unpublished and an editor finds it on Lulu or Smashwords or wherever - even if it's listed out of print - you can kiss your chances of publication with that house goodbye. If you're willing to lie about that, can an agent or editor trust you?

If you have self-published a work and find it's not the route for you, shop your next book. If you find success in legacy, it will trickle back to your older works. Publishers and agents will want to know your history - whether you want to disclose your DIY is up to you. I would personally research how some houses/editors would react to that.

Be honest with yourself, and with those in the industry. Above all else, don't be Bart.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Geddy Lee Friday - Movin'

So last month marked the 30th anniversary of the release of Moving Pictures. This is probably the only Rush album a casual fan (if any exist) will have in his CD collection. These are the songs that likely receive the most radio play, and at least two songs are concert staples that will never, ever be dropped from the setlist - much to our delight or dismay. Depend on who you're talking to.

What do I love best about early 80s Geddy? It could be the Miami Vice-inspired fashions in the "Subdivisions" video (of course, that came after this album), or maybe the wide-lensed Yoko glasses, or it could be that rockin' metal mullet, but foremost in my mind and heart is the music:














Thursday, March 3, 2011

Neil Peart Can Beat Up Charlie Sheen

I just want to make a few things clear.

1) I do not discourage self-publishing.

2) I do not discourage offering works of fiction - shorts to novels - to readers for free.

3) I do encourage authors who do 1 and 2, if they want to seek publication, to start with submission of something original when you're ready to talk to editors.

4) I do encourage authors to study all submission guidelines carefully, whether it's NY or small house digital.

5) I do not believe there is anything wrong with establishing a readership through free works. If you can do that, work toward transitioning free readers to buyers while you have their attention.

6) I don't like being the bearer of bad news. Honestly. I derive no enjoyment from telling somebody I cannot accept their work because we consider it published already.

7) I do believe there needs to be a better understanding of digital publishing now that the landscape is changing. I feel I don't say these things, I'm not really helping anybody.

8) I want all authors to understand that, regardless of how your work is published, you must market yourself.

9) I also want authors to know that a rejection of a book from a publisher/editor is not a rejection of you. Some houses will turn away quality on the basis that they believe they cannot sell it, not necessarily because they think it's not well written.

10) This post has nothing to do with Charlie Sheen.

What about Neil Peart? Well, it's been pointed out to me that Neil's upcoming book, Far and Away, is merely a collection of blog posts he made over the last year or so. Every single one of them, AFAIK, is still available on his website for free viewing. So how is it that Neil Peart, drummer from my favorite band, can get away with publishing a book made of live website content, all the while I advise authors not to submit free works they have uploaded to Scribd, Smashwords, Authonomy, and the like for human consumption?

Short answer: he's Neil Peart. He has enjoyed an established fan base for 36 years, and if you track sales of Peart-related media over these last few decades you may find consistency in numbers. Peart remains active in music - Rush enjoyed a successful tour last year, exposure in a feature documentary, and he is regarded by many magazine polls as the third greatest drummer in rock behind Keith Moon and John Bonham.

Since those guys are dead, this arguably makes Peart the greatest drummer alive. Chances are high that even though a fan can print pages off his website, the book will sell because it is memorabilia.

I am not the greatest drummer alive. I have my work cut out for me, as do others.

Look at The Beatles: many of their albums were re-issued recently in mono and stereo, and their catalog is available on iTunes. Though their albums have been out in some form or another for nearly fifty years, these new formats are bestsellers! People are buying fifty-year-old songs in this day and age! I bought all the Beatles' records on vinyl, then made the jump to CD back in the 90s. Same music. I will likely buy them in iTunes when I see the need. I am a fan of that band, and the brand.

Neil Peart brings something to the table. Not everybody does that yet. You may write better than Neil Peart, but if a publisher/editor sees this work that is available and has been read there will be a reluctance to take a chance.

Now, give them something original and unpublished, and back up your query with this established readership of your free work, and you may get a foot in the door.

Publishing today is suffering an amazing series of growing pains. It's overwhelming to keep up with everything, and I admire any author who is able to produce a 60K or more word novel. This is your baby, though - think very carefully about its care before you do anything. Talk with professionals in the industry, and don't give up.

Let the beat go on.

What I'm Eating: Ole!

I'm not quite sure where we got the idea that Mexican food is generally healthy. Now, I'm sure, as with any cuisine, some items are better than others. Of course, I tend to gravitate toward the beans and the chips, which are basically crack to a yo-yo dieter like me. Where I live, we are cat-swinging distance from three restaurants, so needless to say it's a safe bet we hit one of them once or twice a month.

For my next cooking experiment, however, I decided to try chicken fajitas, using a pound of white meat, pre-cut veggies, and a packet of seasoning mix - I looked for one with the lowest sodium count, but I should accept that will be the big challenge with a dish like this. I also bought corn tortillas because they are supposed to be the lesser evil compared to flour shells.


Hubby loves guac, too, so I bought some avocados and adapted a recipe from Alton Brown's website.


One thing about guacamole: you can't keep the fresh stuff around very long before it starts to brown. We got a few good days of dipping out of it, anyway.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What I'm Knitting - Keeping Kobo Warm

After binding off FrankenScarf - which the little one took, so if I want one of my own I have to knit another one - I decided my next project should be a cover for my eBook reader. I've already cast on the stitches for it:


I'm using a purple striped yarn bought at a specialty store, and a simple K1 P2 pattern. Still not feeling bold enough to move beyond that. I did join Ravelry, but I haven't had much time to fool around there. If you knit, look up LeighEllwood and friend me.

Maybe if I get good enough at making these things, I can sell them alongside my books. Heh.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Now Available: M-Squared

Leigh Ellwood (that's me) and DLP Books are proud to announce the release of M-Squared: a Collection of Gay Erotica.

Together in one volume: a collection of sexy, homo-erotic stories that celebrate the love and passion two men (and sometimes three) can share. Includes stories from Leigh's award-winning Dareville romance series.

Includes the stories: Dare and Dare Alike, All You Need..., Long Awaited Friend, By the Chimney With Dare, and A Daring Twist.

NOTE: all stories included have been released as single stories. So if you have not yet bought any of the above, you can spend just $2.99 and get all of them in one file. You'll save a few bucks, too!

If you are in New York City on March 26, you can purchase a signed copy of M-Squared at the Rainbow Book Fair. I will sign this book and my collection of Sapphic erotica: She Loves Me.