Thursday, July 30, 2009

Forgotten Romance: Artists of a Bygone Genre

While in San Diego, I participated in the Comic Arts Conference which is the academic branch of the Comic-Con, and what aids in keeping the convention a non-profit, educational entity. One of the sessions I participated in was the "Poster Session" in which a dozen or so people (such as myself) set up a display concerning comics scholarship. I gave a digital and oral presentation, as well as handed out a little booklet -- which you can download here as a pdf.

As with anything in life, I wish I had had more time to work on it. I continue to learn new things about romance comic books and comic books in general every day, and I realize it is nowhere near perfect! It is simply a little piece that serves to introduce romance comics into the scholarly sphere of comic studies, and show how the art of romance books tends to get pushed to the sidelines in favor of superheroes in academic circles.

So with that, enjoy! I welcome your comments and thoughts! If for some reason you would like a hard copy of the booklet, I have a few left. Email me at jacquenodell@yahoo.com if you are interested.

Have a great weekend!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back from Comic-Con International!

Good evening! I have returned from San Diego! I got back home late last night, and jetted off to work early this morning. This is the first chance I have had to do a recap of the convention and to sit down and really think about all the exciting things that I did and saw! I wish I had taken more pictures, but my camera batteries kept dying and frankly I am not that good of a photographer, so it's probably just as well!

The trip out there was easy as could be! We were supposed to make three transfers, but our first flight was canceled and we were put on a more direct route -- which put us in San Diego earlier than we were originally going to be. The airline serendipitously put us in first class for the "inconvenience."

After getting settled at our hotel, we made our way to the con. I always think that walking up to the convention center for the first day of a show is super exciting. The anticipation was no less in San Diego.


View from the Trolley platform on the first day of the show

Between staying at our table in the Small Press area, going to panels and walking the floor to do some shopping, I saw a ton of familiar faces and met some really amazing new people. Everyone was really receptive to Sequential Crush and to my presentation on romance artists which I gave at the Comics Arts Conference (CAC). Presenting next to me at the CAC was the very knowledgeable Jarett Kobek who also shares an interest in later era of romance comics. He was super cool and really had some interesting takes on the more psychedelic Charlton romance books, especially those containing the character Jonnie L♥ve. I wish I had had more time to talk with him and his equally cool friend Elly -- as it was truly bizarre to meet someone else with such close interests to my own. Hopefully I will see them again at a convention in the future! If his schedule allows, Jarett might be doing a guest blog here at Sequential Crush in the near future, which would be really great!

Cover of the booklet I handed out during my presentation

In addition to the little presentation I gave, I also was on a panel concerning the effects of a college education on comic book careers. The consensus from most of the artists (and myself) was that college (and/or art school) is not necessary for pursuing a career in the industry. As the only non-artist on the panel, I recommended getting a formal education for the life experience and the mentoring opportunities it opens up -- but ultimately talent, drive, passion and professionalism are the factors that will seal the deal. I think someone may have filmed it. I will post the panel video if that was the case.

It seems that every year the dealer's section of the San Diego show gets smaller and smaller. There really weren't too many romance comics to be found. I am almost positive that I bought the majority of the moderately priced romance books from the '60s and '70s that were in good condition! Many of the dealer's romance books were either way overpriced or in terrible shape. I did score a nice lot of Charlton's from Motor City Comics who were kind enough to give me a really great deal. I highly recommend them for all your romance comic needs! In total I bought 33 romance comics including a Patsy Walker, a Modeling With Millie, two gothic/horror romance comics, lots of DC romance books and an Adventure Comics "Special All-Romance Issue" starring Supergirl!

Back at the hotel, looking over my loot from Preview Night

Some of the other highlights of the convention included: attending a panel by Trina Robbins on her new book The Brinkley Girls and speaking with her afterwards about romance comics; visiting with Michelle Nolan -- author of Love on the Racks and romance comic book aficionado while digging through long boxes; and talking with Shelly Moldoff and Paul Norris's son on the way to my presentation. I was a little too exhausted from flying and the time change to party too much in the evenings, but spending some time in the Gaslamp Quarter was a refreshing change from the too-quiet town I live in now. With much excitement I descended on the Urban Outfitters...and look what I found!

A romance comics t-shirt!
If it hadn't been for the goofy striped arms I would have bought it!

Overall I had a lot of fun, even though the time there just flew by! It wasn't the best convention for purchasing romance comics, but all the amazing people I met and spoke with made up for that! I hope to make it back next year!

Promoting Super Human Resources in the Small Press area and
enjoying romance comics at the same time!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Do You Need a Website? Ask MaAnna Stephenson

I realize I have hosted several interviews recently and some of you might be thinking, “get on with the publishing stuff here!” But for those of you who are on the verge of publishing your first book, or are already seasoned authors, you might already realize the importance of educating yourself on book promotion—especially pre-publication marketing.

Selling books begins with extensive exposure and that takes time. Need pre-publication reviews? Of course you do. This Blog, A Book Inside, was started nearly one year before the release of my book by the same name. Now, viewers swarm to this site in search of information on writing and publishing their stories; maybe they buy a copy of my book. A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story was accepted for review by professionals in the industry partly because I had already established this Blog along with my other writer’s Websites. As a writer and author, you MUST have a professional Blog and/or Website to succeed.

My guest today is author is MaAnna Stephenson. MaAnna is the author of the Just the FAQs eBooks Series. She is a professional at setting up quality Blogs and Websites that draw visitors. So let’s get started.

Carol Denbow: MaAnna, welcome! Your topic is one we all need help with.

As I’ve already stated, I started building this Blog nearly a year prior to my books release. Can you please tell us why it is so important to get a Blog or Website up-and-running early?

MaAnna Stephenson: A site is the very heart of any online marketing campaign. It’s the central hub where folks can find more information about you and your book. All of your other marketing material will need to reference the site, so it’s important to get it ready early on in the process of establishing an online presence.

Carol Denbow: When I started this Blog, nobody came to see it. I was so worried it was a failure. I spent months “learning the ropes” through research online and probably wasted several days which included severe frustration. But after all the hard work, this Blog is at PR4. Please explain to our visitors what a PR is and does for you, as well as how to get to that level.

MaAnna Stephenson: PR stands for Page Rank. Google uses their own terminology to distinguish the ranking of a site in their search engine by giving it a PR rating of 0-6, with 6 being the highest. It’s important to keep in mind that this ranking is based on Google’s algorithms for their search engine alone and may not actually reflect site traffic. In fact, several sites that are ranked PR3 have more traffic than sites ranked PR5.

You can run yourself silly following the latest advice from the latest guru about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. The fact is, each major search engine ranks pages differently and the way they do it is top secret. Some folks are paid big money by big business to find and exploit loopholes in SEO, and they usually don’t share their top trade secrets with the general public. Another thing to keep in mind is that search engines change those methods often. So, what has worked in the past may not work well at all today.

There are, however, some tried and true basic steps that will certainly improve your ranking. These include good keywords used in every element of your site. But, the most important thing to keep in mind is that if you are offering helpful information, and actively sharing it with others on a few social media sites and such, traffic will come to your site and more folks will link to your site, all of which will affect your SEO ranking too. More importantly, it will drive continuous traffic to your site, and that’s the real thing you are trying to achieve.

Carol Denbow: You have several books under your belt. Is all your work related to Website and Blog development?

MaAnna Stephenson: I’ve done technical writing for private companies for several years. But, the first book that I wrote for publication was The Sage Age – Blending Science with Intuitive Wisdom. It debuted in September 2008 and was featured in Publishers Weekly a few weeks later. In all, it took over four years to research and about another eight months to write.

The Just the FAQs series was written as I documented the process of creating an online presence for The Sage Age. So, I fully understand the wasted time and frustration many new authors feel trying to figure out all of the technical aspects without step-by-step guidance that cuts right to the point of what they are trying to accomplish. I also understand how budget conscious new authors have to be. That’s why the first books in this series deal with establishing a site on a free platform that is very stable and easy to use, while offering a lot of perks.

More advanced books will be in the works later this year including help with WordPress sites. All books in the Just the FAQs series are written for non-geeks and have a lot of color and symbols in the formatting that creatively-minded folks will find appealing and easy to use.

At the moment I’m writing a class based on material I touched on in The Sage Age. It’s titled Acoustics for Intuitives and will be a fun way to bring information about the physics of sound to those who work with it in healing modalities. I’m also researching material for another book about the ethics-shattering changes just around the corner in the field of biotechnology that will cause us to completely rethink what it is to be fully human.

Carol Denbow: Can you please tell us a little more about each of your books, such as their titles and what readers can expect to learn from each one?

MaAnna Stephenson: Just the FAQs - Blogs along with Just the FAQs - RSS Feeds help folks dramatically reduce the learning curve of setting up a blog with Blogger and adding RSS feeds with Feedburner by giving them step-by-step directions for all aspects of optimizing and customizing the features of both. In July I will also be teaching classes on these two books that will take folks through the process and show them some advanced tricks and tips that are not covered in the books.

The material in Just the FAQs - Websites is based on my years of experience as a Web designer and director for several non-profits and small businesses. It has three printable worksheets to help folks participate in creating a great site that works well, including organizing all the content and developing a good theme or design. It will also help folks avoid the expensive pitfalls of site ownership. The information is good for those who want to create a static site or a WordPress site. And, if someone already has a static site, there’s no need to do a complete site redesign or switch over to WordPress to incorporate blog posts. It’s actually a rather simple process to use RSS feeds to populate a static site with your posts.
The Articles book contains step-by-step instructions to get set up with all the major article directories. It also includes tips and tricks for running a successful article marketing campaign that can help drive traffic to your site.

Carol Denbow: I know you have Websites as well. Can you give us the links to your sites so we can see an example of your work?

MaAnna Stephenson: The URL for the Just the FAQs series is http://www.JustTheFAQs.net. The URL for The Sage Age is http://www.SageAge.net. I also have a site for my wood carvings, which have been featured in two national magazines, including Woodcarving Illustrated. They can be seen at http://www.HeartwoodArt.com.

Carol Denbow: As always, we all love freebies and I enjoy giving my viewers a chance to get something for nothing. I hear you’re offering giveaways to people who leave comments during the tour. Can you tell us more about that?

MaAnna Stephenson: I’m delighted to help folks get started with creating an online presence. The Quick Step Guide for setting up an account with Blogger and Feedburner is available for free download here http://tr.im/nlZe. It will help you set up the accounts properly the first time.

I’ll also be giving away two free classes in a random drawing of folks who leave comments during the tour. You can read more about the classes here http://tr.im/nlZv

Carol Denbow: Wow, this has been informative. I can’t thank you enough for stopping by and sharing this valuable information with us.

Hey guys and gals, watch and learn! You MUST have and draw exposure to your own Website and/or Blog to get your book noticed. The Web is an awesome tool because it’s not a “one-and-done.” Every post (even this one) stays in cyberspace forever to be found and found again.

My guest author today, MaAnna Stephenson, author of Just the FAQs eBooks Series. Thanks again MaAnna!

Please leave your comments below (maybe a freebie is in-the-bag for you!!)

FYI…Each time a blog visitor comments on any or all of the blog stops, they will be entered in a random drawing for two free Just the FAQs classes. Not only that, but every commenter is a winner and will receive a copy of MaAnna Stephenson's e-book the Quick Step Guide. If you haven't already read her books, be sure to pick up the series at http://www.justthefaqs.net/ebooks.shtml.

For more information about MaAnna Stephenson and her virtual tour, check the schedule at http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2009/05/just-faqs-blog-tour-with-maanna.html

Already have a Website or Blog? See how your's rates now with a free tool I found online at http://www.websitegrader.com/

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kindle Book Sales will now be ranked



Beginning with Thursday's edition, USA Today's weekly list of best-selling books will take into account Kindle book sales in the overall rankings.

USA Today article.

Good thing I like pie...













... and I'm already taking the laptop on vacation.

Got a full request yesterday off a query I sent about seven weeks ago for Evangeline, the manuscript I posted an excerpt from on Tuesday. Great timing, of course, since my husband and I are going on vacation tomorrow and I've purposely not touched it for weeks in the hopes that we both-- the manuscript and I, not my husband-- might benefit from some time apart. Also, I just finished 31K of Carnival of Illusions (that title is still not doing it for me, whatsoever *sigh*), so I'm in a completely different work mode what with the present tense, and the two almost opposite MCs.

I know Evangeline needs more work than I can do on my vacation. I also knew when I decided to wait and do another revision that there were a few more agents I hadn't heard from. Since I'd sent them an excerpt with a typo in it-- *D'oh!*-- I hadn't actually been expecting another request, especially not a full. This is a new agent at a very respected agency, so I am taking this request very seriously. But that's not what this post is about.

Even though I have no idea how to approach this prickly-pear, this request has actually been more encouraging than stress-making, or so I keep trying to convince myself. It has taught me that I don't need to fear the query any longer, since my query is obviously working.

Querying is something I would stress over, send out multiple versions, analyze, pick to death and lose sleep over. The winds of change are blowing and as of this moment I vow that, yes, I will still work hard to craft my queries. But I will no longer let the madness rule my life for those crazy, frantic weeks, months, years that I may still have to query before I find an agent who loves my work enough to help me get it published. Until that point, I will be the Zen Master of querying. Or die trying. ;)

And, in case you are wondering, I will have fun on my vacation and try not to freak out over this request. Publishing is a slow business, right? While two weeks might not make any difference to this agent as to when they get my full, in two weeks I think I can make Evangeline better. Time will tell if I've succeeded. It's not the time-frame I wanted, but when life gives you lemons, make a humble lemon ice-box pie, right? (See, I told you it was a good thing I like pie, and y'all were just thinking I'd gone nuts, shame on you!)

Have fun while I'm on vacation, y'all, and keep your fingers crossed for me!

RWA Veritas Award - Ron Charles


RWA's Veritas Award may be given annually for the article that appears in print or in another medium that best depicts the romance genre in a positive light.

2009 RWA Veritas Award Recipient
Ron Charles
Washington Post, "Heating Up the Stacks"

This appeared in The Washington Post, a very intertesting article, Romance Novels Still Fighting for Respect

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chao! Off to San Diego!

I am off to San Diego in a few hours, and boy am I excited! Since moving to rural Indiana last winter I haven't had the chance to get out and go anywhere that didn't involve seeing cows or cornfields. I am so happy to be going to a place with a downtown and with big buildings! I am also excited of course to dig through boxes of comic books at the convention!

If you are going and have a chance to stop by to say hi, I will be spending most of my time in the Small Press area at booth P15. Friday at 11:30am I will be part of a panel in room 30AB discussing the implications of college education on careers in the comic book industry. I will also be presenting on Saturday as part of the Comic Arts Conference at 2:30pm to 3:30pm in room 30AB again. So, if you are in San Diego drop by! I will try to do a mid-convention posting if I am able to, but if not, I will be back later next week!

Isn't this a nice little DC House Ad from 1973 by the way? I will be sure to follow its advice and buy DC love magazines... and Marvel, and Charlton and whatever else I can find!

I also just want to take a sec to say thanks again to everyone for making the first three months of Sequential Crush so fun and rewarding. I am really enjoying blogging about the romance comics, and I hope you are enjoying reading about them! See you soon!!!

WiP Wednesday: First Impressions

















It's Wednesday, so I think I'm due for another excerpt from my as yet untitled WiP. I'm thinking of "Carnival of Illusions" for the working title, but I'm just not loving it.

I thought of posting the second chapter, but it's much longer than the first, so instead of subjecting you to 2800 words, this bit is short and sweet, and a scene I had a lot of fun writing.

In this scene, Mara, the MC, has traveled to Paris (c. 1901) in the guise of a boy to find her friend Alex. She spent the previous night in a smelly, crowded church and is looking for the cabaret Alex is supposed to be working for. She knows she needs to stay on her toes around these Parisians, but she can't help flirting with one of them...

<><><><><><><><><><><>

Next morning I am out of that church as soon as they open the doors. The sky is a murky dishwater color, threatening rain. The woman who slept next to me last night said that to find Montmartre I need to cross the river, so I take the first bridge and repeat her directions in my head. By midday my stomach is growling.

Thanks to Piero I have more than enough coin for a few loaves of bread and some cheese. At least the baker's girl who sells it to me knows of Hystérie.

"It's one block up and two blocks away from the river." She looks me over with a sly smile. "The one with the nude women holding up the lintel. You can't miss it."

She is right. The facade takes up a third of the block. I'm sure I'm at the right cabaret, with its concrete nudes for columns, and I know I'll find out about Alex soon. But it is still early and places like this don't open until late. If I just sit and wait I'll be run off by the neighbors in no time, who are already giving me suspicious glances. Out of my bundle I pull my violin and bow and I play the first song Alex ever taught me.

I play outside, all day until the afternoon-- songs I know and songs I've heard streaming out of taverns and cafes since I entered the city. I get brief looks from the neighbors but no one tells me to move along. In fact, most of them seem oddly interested in my music, staring at me only long enough as if to assure themselves I'm not someone else. Eventually I start to make songs up, mixing songs I know with the Parisian ones I've learned. When a skinny older man with dark stringy hair walks up the street and unlocks the front doors, I stop for a moment and look at him. He glances at me and I see him stiffen. But he bends his head back to the door, unlocks it and heads into the darkness within.

Going back to my playing comes easier the later it gets and I have an audience. More people pass by on their way, some coming home from work, others streaming in and out of the blue door to the left of the grand main entrance with the nude columns. These gadjo are the ones who give me the longest looks, the most intense, searching stares. No one on the street has tried to give me any money, and no one from Hystérie has told me that I am not wanted. I know I'm doing Alex's old job, and I'm hoping someone inside will notice.

Just after I finish the rest of my cheese and bread and start to play again, I think I've finally found my mark. I slow my tempo down as I look him over. Attractive, young, well-dressed and he doesn't look like he's in a hurry. He's not too tall, not too dark, not too handsome, but there is something about the set of his chin and his bearing when he addresses the others who head into Hystérie. They treat him like a boss, or the money. My song changes to a melody I heard a woman sing while she hung her laundry yesterday, but I give it a Romani flair and really put my body into the bowing.

All of a sudden I wish I'm not covered in grime and wearing boy's clothes, that my hair is clean and flowing down my shoulders. But it's working. He comes closer with a puzzled look on his polished face and claps when I bring the impromptu ballad to a close.

"Lovely. Does it have any words?" His voice is deeper than I expect.

"Not yet." I'm not trying to hide my own voice from him. I want to intrigue him, make him tell me what he knows about Alex. "Maybe you could help me write some."

He steps closer, eyes and mouth wide. "You're a girl."

"Yes. Last time anyone checked." I start up another song before my words catch up to him.

"I know that song." He is really listening to it, drumming his fingers in time. "Our last Gypsy violinist used to play it."

"It's an old one," I lie. It's really one that Alex and I made up together a year ago. "Your last Gypsy violinist? You don't have one now?"

"Not for nearly two months now. He vanished in the night, taking some valuables with him." This young man is watching me closely now, so I can't reveal my surprise. Alex leaving his job wouldn't explain why Lucia hasn't heard from him. And I doubt he took anything. He is always so far above whatever anyone thought of him. Especially me.

"So the position is open?"

The gadjo stares at the way the trousers hug my hips. At my voice, his eyes flash back to mine and he smiles. "I think it's just been filled."

<><><><><><><><><><><><>

When an author gets a bad review


Recently I attended a Seattle book bloggers function in which reviewers, a publishing rep and an author were present and we discussed how we review books, should one be honest or not, and about being sensitive to the author and the book. There was NOT a person in the room who I felt would ever be so critical as to hurt or be cruel in writing their review. However, recently I realized that's not always the case as I feel there are some out there who actually enjoy going off on an author!

Today on two highly respected blogs, I was appalled how the reviewer trashed a New York Times Best-selling author and on several other blogs and Amazon how utterly cruel the reviews were for a debut author and a highly respected contemporary romance author. These comments were posted on July releases.

In light of the recent RWA Convention in Washington DC, these same bloggers smoozed it up with these same authors and publishing houses and return home to write such critical and cruel comments……amazing. I just don't get it!

So here are some articles and tips for those of you who might receive a bad review and I hope it helps.

Reviewers are entitled to their opinions and that’s the name of the game in publishing. I hope my readers understand that I didn’t mean to hurt anyone and I’m truly sorry if I did.


Alice Hoffman has been critized for recent post on Twitter here

On Murder she Writes, the phrase the author doesn't deliver, blog post

How to Respond to Bad Reviews gives one some advise if you're so inclided, post


Hot HOT TIP:

There may be times when you need to stick up for yourself. If someone leaves comments that are untrue and damage your character or brand, go to the Web site to find out if you can have those comments removed. Before you pursue, ask other writers what they think of the comments first, or consult your publicist.


As Gena Showalter once said in a blog post, on Romancing the Blog

“Ouch! Books are products, authors aren’t. We may wish otherwise, but feelings do become involved. And let’s be honest, some comments are so bad they can make us:

1. 1) cry
2. 2) depressed
3. 3) want to give up and never write again
4. 4) all of the above

We can’t give up, though. Writing is in our blood, it’s what we love. So here are four ways to try and beat the bad review blues:”

Gena's post

When Book Reviews Go Bad, article

"Negative reviews and how to cope nobody likes a critic, particularly an author who is on the receiving end of a negative and very public judgment. While some authors can shrug off a poor review with ease, other authors feel as judged as the book itself."

For a little humour, I'm Sorry You Feel That Way, at The Worst Review Ever!

BE A WORSTIE!
If you’re an author (or an actor, musician, or any other kind of artist really) and your work has been publicly ridiculed or met with some other form of extreme criticism…email me ( alexajoy@socal.rr.com) the worst review you can find along with your answers to the following questions*:
1. When and where did this review appear?
2. How did you happen upon the review?
3. How did you feel immediately after seeing the review?
4. Did you do anything in response to the review?
5. If you did something in response, how do you feel about said reaction in retrospect?
6. What other steps did you take in an effort to assuage your pain?
7. How long did it take you to get over the pain and humiliation of the review (assuming you got over it)?
8. What, if anything, positive came from receiving your WORST…REVIEW…EVER?
9. Anything you’d like to add?
* NOTE: If filling out the full questionnaire is adding insult to injury, just send me the damning review with any additional comments you want to appear with it.


I closing, if you’re a debut author, a published author, hopefully there are more of us out there who are responsible and respectful of your work and appreciate the time and effort you put into your writing...

Teaser Tuesday: Keeping the Dream Alive













Thought I'd change things up a little and post another excerpt from Evangeline. Yes, I know I said I was giving up on her, but I worked too hard not to give it one more go once I've finished my WiP. So I thought, what better way to get myself excited about revising again than to remind myself of the scenes I'm pretty sure work already? Of course if they don't, please feel free to tell me otherwise. ;)

The MC is about to go back home to her own time from 1880, but the scene starts after she and the hero have gotten in a fight. Having left him behind in a huff the previous night, she tries to use her new powers of witchcraft to fly out of the woods. Instead, she gets stuck and hits her head, and winds up unconscious in the tree for hours while the hero, still pretty mad, is looking for her.

####

“Dammit, Evie, wake up. My mother will kill me if anything happens to you.”

I came to ten feet off the ground, straddling a bough. “Jude?”

He stood beneath me, his voice hoarse. “Are you hurt?”

“Sore. But nothing’s broken.” The sky was pale as milk. “It’s morning!”

And I’d spent the better part of the night in a tree. Struggling to get out in one piece, I fell from my branch and landed on Jude. His blistering skin reminded me that I’d be going home today. To my rightful place in time.

“I’ve been looking for you all night.” He yanked me off the ground by my sleeve and pulled me after him. “God, you’re filthy!”

Filthy? How romantic. “I just spent the last few hours unconscious in a cypress tree. You’d be filthy, too.”

Gone was any trace of the starry-eyed supper we’d shared. That was probably for the best. I’d be home before bedtime, and he’d be a nothing more than a memory.


####

“There are three important elements involved in a working of this magitude--”

“You mean magnitude.”


Penny scowled over her tea at Jude for interrupting her. He reached to turn her open grimoire toward him but she snapped it up and pressed it to her thin chest.


I could barely concentrate on anything anyone said, completely covered with mosquito bites from spending the evening outside. Scratching felt good. Until I stopped. Then dozens of itches flared up, making me want to scream. It was a good thing my powers weren’t needed to send me home, because I’d have been no help.

Jude had barely looked at me all morning. Colette’s eyes were as red-rimmed from crying as his were from lack of sleep. I felt bad that I wanted to go home more than I wanted to stay. They’d soon be dead to me, despite living full lives years before I was born.


Still clutching
the black calf-bound book tight to her chest, Penny continued. “The first is power. That’s why we need to build a fire.”

Jude frowned. “So it’ll have to happen outside. That’s not ideal.”


“Not outside. In the maisonette.”


“The old slave quarters?” Sure, I’d wanted to check the place out before, but now that I was about to go home, my curiosity had faded. All I wanted was to sleep in my own bed tonight and to never think of Jude again.


“There’s a fire pit inside and a special chimney just for workings like this.” Penny rubbed her temple. Her eyes were red, too. Had she been up all night planning her spell? “But it’ll happen quickly. Less than a minute after we activate the circle. That’s the second thing. We’ll have a limited time to get Evie through the portal once it’s been opened.”


“And the third element?” I asked.


“The circle, obviously. I’ve already drawn it, but it’ll take some of your blood to open the portal. Just a little bit. It also took a lot of salt. And that last chicken.”


I wrinkled my nose. “Gross. Sure you had to kill it?”


“I think so. But what do I know? I’ve only been studying witchcraft since I was twelve.”


“Okay, okay. You’re the expert here. Just tell us what to do.”


It was early enough that the rest of the girls were still sleeping, but Teddy somehow knew that Colette was there and had already affixed herself to her skirt, following close as we crossed the yard. I’d changed into my new dress-- “More of a shift than a dress,” Colette sniffed-- and had my old sandals on, ready to go. I’d checked my bag about a hundred times that morning to be sure I had everything, my book of the blood and my book of plant samples.


The smell in the little house was a mix of blood and dusty herbs. Tiny shivers of old wards prickled when I entered the square of a room. The fire raging in a central, cauldron-like pit made the room sweltering despite its overhanging steel chimney. Surrounding it was Penny’s bloody salt circle, waiting for my blood. Doors and a staircase must have led to bedrooms or perhaps a small kitchen. I found it hard to believe anything had ever been cooked over this fire.


Penny hefted her book. “Ready?”


Colette looked ready-- ready to cry if she wasn’t so nervous about the spell. And Jude looked at anything but me. Yes, I was ready. I nodded.


Drawing a small, sleek dagger from between the pages of her mother’s book, Penny motioned for me to extend my hand. With the point of the knife she pricked my finger, collecting the garnet drops on the flat of the blade. She worked her way around the circle, stopping to smear some blood at each corner. Then she held the knife in the fire for a moment, sizzling the blood into a blackened shell. Gesturing me forward, she handed me the knife.


“Blood to earth, blood to fire, blood to air, blood to water.” As she chanted, the words started to run together. Taking the knife back out of my hand, she returned it to the fire only to pull it back out when it glowed white. Tracing shapes in the space surrounding the metal chimney, she chanted her way all around the circle again, but counter to the direction she’d walked before.


The chimney started to waver in the dim light of the tiny room. Soon its dull surface was replaced by a vortex of light originating from the center of the fire, blazing up as if to swallow the whole building. A crack like thunder sounded and the vortex reformed, widening into a cylinder of light. I saw the streetcar interior as if I were inside already. There came a loud humming, a droning that reverberated through the ground and lowered my body temperature.


Penny's thin face looked almost skeletal in the flashing light. “Quick now. It won’t stay open much longer.”


I hitched up my bag, but I had to make time for one last hug from Colette. “I’ll never forget you.” I breathed the scent of her powdered shoulder, choking back tears, and patted Teddy on her pale head.


Colette sighed. I could tell she didn't want to let me go. “Have a good life, mon ange. Remember that I’ll always love you.”


After a last look in her dark eyes, I turned to Penny for a quick squeeze. “Thanks, Penny. You’ve been a good friend. I wish I didn’t have to go.”


She swallowed hard. “Just hurry up, huh?”


I gave a nod. “Bye, Jude. It was nice knowing you.”


He didn’t even say goodbye back. He might as well have slapped me in the face. His cold stare raked my body in its immodest dress and I turned, unable to stand it any more. I stepped toward the portal.


“Evangeline, wait.”


At Jude's voice, I turned. “What?”


“Let me wish you a proper goodbye.” He crossed the room before I could say anything more and pulled me to his chest-- his hands even hotter than usual on my icy skin. When he pressed his lips to mine, I could have melted into him. How could something that felt so right cause me so much pain?


I didn’t care how much it hurt. I’d let him kiss me as long as he could stand it. But his tongue caressed my lips only once before he released me, pushing me through the portal.


There, the intense cold kissed my smoldering lips in a cruel mockery of his, soothing my skin but not my heart.


####

Monday, July 20, 2009

6 Steps to Writing a Nonfiction Book

Almost everyone harbors a secret -- or not-so-secret -- yearning to write a book. Ideas range from memoirs to mysteries, from pamphlets to tomes. Books do not appear out of thin air; they are the product of much thought, planning, discipline, and effort. What follows are the 6 essential steps to take you from concept to completion of your nonfiction book:

1. Planning is the first and most important step. It means asking yourself all the tough questions about the book, from "Why am I uniquely qualified to write this book?" to "Is there a real market for it?" The most effective way to plan is by writing a book proposal, which has a dual purpose: to help you think through the book and to provide you with material you will use later in the process.

2. Writing is the nuts and bolts of producing a book, and it takes blocks of time. This is where all of your planning pays off. The chapters are the heart of the book and, of course, take the most time. They are the reason you are writing -- the cake. All the rest is frosting. Begin with Chapter 1, if each chapter is going to build on the one before it, or with your favorite topic, if it doesn’t matter what order you write them. The first chapter you write will help you find your voice, pace, and style. If you submit your proposal to a publisher, the chapter you attach must provide a sample of your best writing and of the caliber of the whole book. In addition to the chapters, you will also have to write the introduction, preface, table of contents, and "back matter."

3. Professional Assistance comprises all the people who help make a book come to life. You may not need all of them, but consider different kinds of editors, graphic designers, book reviewers, publicists, agents, and attorneys. If you self-publish, you will definitely need a graphic designer. If you prefer a conventional publisher, you will probably need an agent.

4. Production involves the elements needed to turn your manuscript into a book -- your computer and software, design and format, photos and illustrations, sidebars, endorsements, and more. These are the nitty gritty details you will learn if you decide to become your own publisher.

5. Publishing makes your book real, tangible. You have several options, including self-publishing, print on demand (POD), electronic, and conventional. There are pros and cons associated with each option. They include cost, speed of publication, rights, contracts, and profits. Learning curve, and control. Publishing is not a one-size-fits-all decision.

6. Promotion is the step many writers skip. It takes work to get your message into the hands of your target audience. No matter how your book is published, promotion is your job. You can send out advance review copies, tour book fairs, make presentations at bookstores and libraries, launch a Web site, or even hire a professional publicist.

Article Credits: Turn your idea into a book. Are you a business executive, a trainer, or a professional speaker? Bobbi Linkemer & Co. will ghostwrite your book for you or edit your manuscript. Visit http://www.WriteANonFictionBook.com or call 314-968-8661.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Bobbi_Linkemer

For more useful book writing, publishing, and marketing links visit Author's Box

Change Your Perspective: Join Student Exchange (2)


Yesterday I attended a farewell as well as welcoming party of AFS Semarang Chapter. As last year, my ‘duty’ was to give comments to students’ presentations. However, in this short article, I will not write about the students’ performance, but I will write a little about one returnee’s experience when he was in America.
This particular student—a male—is from one Islamic boarding school which is quite well-known from Central Java. The interesting thing was during one year in Uncle Sam’s country, he was sent to a Christian (or Catholic, I am not really sure about it). Before he left, people around him were a bit doubtful to let him go; with a similar reason of Eric’s parents (whose experience I wrote in this blog of mine too a year ago): they were worried if the so-called ungodly country would change the poor boy’s faith and he would be a devil’s followers. (Eric was sent to Norway which is said to have the highest percentage of non-believer citizens in the whole world.)
As Eric, this new returnee narrated his amazing experience how people in the whole Christian school did not marginalize him only because he was the only Muslim. Even they showed big interest on what Islam is, its teachings, bla bla bla, and especially it’s ‘jihad’. Why this experience is amazing for him, I believe, is caused by how Indonesian people (in religion’s area) show ‘the majority rules’ and ‘the minority follows’. (One very clear example in this case is during Ramadhan month how selfishly the majority asks the whole country to respect this month without reserve. All restaurants must be close in the morning without respecting other people who are not fasting, who perhaps need to go to a restaurant.)
Going back from America, this returnee is of course expected to tell his folks that the so-called ungodly country has taught him a very valuable lesson: the majority must respect the minority.
This story reminded me of one workmate who told me about one niece of hers. This niece was selected to go abroad after winning the selection of students exchange. At first, her family was not sure that she would get the chance since she was wearing ‘jilbab’. Therefore, then I explained that—in my opinion—the committee of this students exchange intentionally seemed to choose students whose religious familial background was strong: such as those who study in Islamic boarding school. They are expected to open their eyes that the teaching of their teachers as well as parents that religion is the only principle to make life better is not always right; that people whose religious ‘knowledge’ is strong will make good people (‘good’ here means will not do any harm to other people) can be biased.
What do the committee expect from this? The returnees will be moderate and will not be easily brainwashed by those fundamental Islamic teachings, let’s say to kill other people in the name of God. The returnees will respect people who do not always turn to religions when facing their lives because there are always other ways out.
Ever seen this T-shirt?


PT56 14.14 200709
P.S.: my post about Eric is here http://afeministblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/change-your-perspective-join-student.html

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Romance Under the Covers - Review of Our Love Story #10 (April 1971)

Our Love Story #10 (April 1971) has one of my favorite covers of the Marvel romance books from this time period. I think its the bold colors that get me, as well as the composition of this cover with pencils by John Romita.


The first story, "How Near to Heaven" written by Stan Lee and drawn by Gene Colan is short and to the point. Angela absolutely adores her job as an air hostess and doesn't want any man to stand in the way. She simply wants to date and have fun, with no real strings attached. That is until she meets Ted Harmon, a charming passenger of hers on a flight to San Francisco. As they get hot and heavy, Angela keeps reminding Ted (and herself) that she belongs in the sky and that she can't get too serious. You see, as reflected here in the panel below with a fellow stewardess -- Angela can't get married, otherwise she will have to give up flying.

The other flight attendant's warning about staying single is not in this story just for dramatic effect. That was reality for mid-century flight attendants. They were not allowed to marry, and once they decided to, they would have to leave their career behind. For many, being a flight attendant was a way to see the world before settling down, though for those that took it as a serious career and enjoyed it were out of luck for a number of years until the rules changed in the early seventies.


For Angela though, the decision seems to be an easy one. She wants Ted and he basically gives her an ultimatum. I wonder how many young ladies gave up flying not because they necessarily wanted to, but because they also wanted to be with the one they loved. A tough choice, no doubt!


The next story in this issue is a two-parter reprint originally from Teen-Age Romance #80 (March 1961) drawn and inked by Vince Colletta according to the Grand Comics Database. I know, I know. Everybody seems to hate his work, but I actually like the art in this story quite a bit. So, either I like Colletta or someone else drew this! Anyway, "My Love Wears a Leather Jacket!" is the tale of a spoiled, snotty girl from the suburbs who falls in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who happens to look somewhat like Elvis.


The rather unpleasant, sheltered Anne is from the suburbs and has to move to a "slum" when her father gets ill and has to quit his job. She has only known perfect lawns and pool parties with friends who are in her words, "swell" and "decent" and "fun loving." She knows nothing of this world of "rough" looking teenagers who smoke cigarettes and are forced to take public transportation.


While taking a walk in her new neighborhood, Anne is harassed by a group of rough looking guys, which doesn't help with her negative feelings towards the move. Luckily, a mysterious boy named Rick comes to her aid.


That would not be the last time Anne would see Rick. He somehow figures out where she live and drops by. She agrees to go on a date with him, even though he wore the "attire of a young hoodlum." When Rick picks her up for their date the following evening, Anne is completely mortified by not only his outfit, but his motorcycle and his choice in cuisine.


Even though Anne thinks Rick is a nice guy, she just can't let go of the fact they are from different economic backgrounds. Her elitist attitude gets in the way of finding true love, and when Rick her asks her to go out again she blows him off with a lame answer.


When Anne goes home and sees her parents the next morning she has a temper tantrum and yells at her father for quitting his job. She just can't handle the fact that she may have feelings for someone whom she feels is "beneath her." Instead of trying to suck it up and make friends, she lets herself slip into a lonely, self-pitying depression. One day while venturing outside she comes across Rick and his friends. Anne flat out walks past him with her nose in the air. That night though, as she tries to fall asleep she is consumed by thoughts of Rick.

Then, one day as Anne is leaving school she is confronted by a seething girl who wants to know why Anne has been avoiding Rick. The mystery girl speaks very highly about Rick and seems very emotionally invested in his happiness.


We later find out that the girl who confronts Anne is, drumroll please! Rick's sister!!! No wonder she is so busted up about the whole thing! As soon as Anne hears this she realizes that she has to go find Rick and tell him how foolish she has been. While looking for him, she stumbles into the middle of a gang fight. All of a sudden Rick appears. Not to fight, but to break up the fight. After the hooligans refuse to break up the fight, Rick does so with his fists.

Though not very "romantic," these three panels are my favorite in the whole book. They are super action-packed!

After stopping the fight, Rick gives the guys a lecture in proper behavior. He has had enough of their antics, and just lets his feelings loose. Unbeknownst to him, his speech pays off and is the final piece of the puzzle that brings the star-crossed lovers together.


Isn't that a great story? It is definitely one of the more complicated and emotionally satisfying stories of the romance comics. The depth of the story was possible because the fact it had two parts, which wasn't uncommon for Marvel romance books. Sometimes it is just hard to fit a whole lot of plot into an eight-pager. Overall, this issue was a pleasant surprise and makes me want to read more Marvel romances!

Introducing the Arcane Museum - Jayne Ann Krentz



Jayne's inviting all to view her new museum, stop by the take the tour.


There's also a video here



Jayne's website

A Love Affair With The Romance Novel


Temperatures are soaring in Washington, D.C., and the intense summer sun isn't the sole cause. The city is playing host to the Romance Writers of America Conference and NPR's Scott Simon paid a visit, to find out why romance is one of the hottest selling genres in the book industry.

Go to article and listen.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trish Wylie and Not Going to Nationals


Trish is an amazing author, mentor to aspring authors and one of the founders of The Pink Heart Society She's not able to attend the Washington DC Romance Writers of America Conference so she has taken it upon herself to generously post on her blog all sorts inspiring posts for writers and readers. Please join me in thanking Trish for her labor lf love.

And the winners are.........drum roll!


2009 RITA® and Golden Heart® Award Winners
Romance Writers of America congratulates the following winners of the 2009 RITA and Golden Heart Awards.

2009 RITA Winner for Best Contemporary Series Romance
A Mother's Wish
by Karen Templeton
Harlequin Enterprises,
Silhouette Special Edition
Gail Chasan, editor


2009 RITA Winner for Best Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure
Danger Signals
by Kathleen Creighton
Harlequin Enterprises,
Silhouette Romantic Suspense
Gail Chasan, editor

2009 RITA Winner for Best Young Adult Romance
Hell Week
by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Random House Group, Delacorte Press
Krista Marino, editor

2009 RITA Winner for Best Historical Romance
The Edge of Impropriety
by Pam Rosenthal
Penguin Group USA, Signet Eclipse
Laura Cifelli, editor

2009 RITA Winner for Best Regency Historical Romance
My Lord and Spymaster
by Joanna Bourne
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation
Wendy McCurdy, editor

2009 RITA Winner for Best Inspirational Romance
Finding Stefanie
by Susan May Warren
Tyndale House Publishers
Karen Watson, editor

2009 RITA Winner for Best Romance Novella
"The Fall of Rogue Gerard"
by Stephanie Laurens in It Happened One Night
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Books
Lucia Macro, editor

2009 RITA Winner for Best Paranormal Romance
Seducing Mr. Darcy
by Gwyn Cready
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Megan McKeever, editor

2009 RITA Winner for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
Tribute
by Nora Roberts
Penguin Group USA, Putnam
Leslie Gelbman, editor

2009 RITA Winner for Best Romantic Suspense
Take No Prisoners
by Cindy Gerard
Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Maggie Crawford, editor

2009 RITA Winner for Best First Book
Oh. My. Gods.
by Tera Lynn Childs
Penguin Group USA, Dutton
Sarah Shumway, editor

2009 RITA Winner for Best Contemporary Single Title Romance
Not Another Bad Date
by Rachel Gibson
HarperCollins, Avon Books
Lucia Macro, editor












2009 Golden Heart Winner for
Best Contemporary Romance Series Manuscript
Second Chance for a Family
by Kim Law


2009 Golden Heart Winner for
Best Contemporary Romance Series: Suspense/Adventure Manuscript
Romance or Retribution
by Jamie Michele


2009 Golden Heart Winner for
Best Young Adult Manuscript
Stage Fright
by Shoshana Dawn Brown


2009 Golden Heart Winner for
Best Historical Romance Manuscript
Butterfly Swords
by Jeannie Lin


2009 Golden Heart Winner for
Best Regency Historical Romance Manuscript
An Inconvenient Marriage
by Sara Ramsey


2009 Golden Heart Winner for
Best Inspirational Manuscript
Kitty's Fire
by Kelly Ann Riley


2009 Golden Heart Winner for
Best Paranormal Romance Manuscript
First Grave on the Right
by Darynda Jones


2009 Golden Heart Winner for
Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements Manuscript
Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure
by Diane O'Brien Kelly

2009 Golden Heart Winner for
Best Romantic Suspense Manuscript
Only Fear
by Anne Marie Becker

2009 Golden Heart Winner for
Best ContemporarySingle Title Manuscript
Easy Money
by Vivi Andrews

When Romance Writers Gather, The Plot Quickens





No matter. The utterly unpretentious members of Romance Writers of America have no illusions regarding how you feel about what they do. They have gathered together to perfect their craft anyway, even if it's in a genre you swear, swear, swear you never read. The Washington Post

Friday, July 17, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Just as love is mysterious and sometimes nonsensical, so were romance comic features on occasion...


Though it may not really have a coherent story line, I really dig the art! I wish I knew who drew this brief feature from Young Romance #198 (March/April 1974)! Little one page illustrated poems such as this seem to pervade the 100-Page Super Spectacular romance books that cropped up just towards the end of the reign of romance comics. There are just so many to share! Until next time...

Have a great Friday night! I have some good Marvel romance stories in store for Sunday!

Tell Harlequin, Sandra Marton and The Royal House of Karedes Series





Tell Harlequin and Sandra Marton have teamed up with facts, interview, series family tree as a kick off for the first issue in the series, Sandra's Julyh Release Billionaire Prince, Pregnant Mistress.


Tell Harlequin/Sandra Marton

Nora Roberts Visits The Washington Post



Nora Roberts along with other romance authors, bloggers and publishers are in Washington DC this week for the 2009 Romance Writers of America Conference. Here is an interview and video with Nora and The Washington Post.


Video

Article

Jennifer Greene to receive 2009 Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award




In 2008 the Romance Writers of America (RWA) changed the name of its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award to the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, testifying to the high regard Roberts’ colleagues have for her. This year the RWA will present this award to Jennifer Greene on July 18, 2009 during the organization's annual conference. Congratulations Jennifer!

Details here

Book Promotion for first time authors




Here is an article I recently saw on a book blog, Book Exposure.

Article:

Have you always dreamed of writing for Mills & Boon Modern Romance?


Have you always dreamed of writing for Mills & Boon Modern Romance?
Do you feel you have a passionate story to tell, with characters that leap off the page, and emotional conflicts, drama and excitement that will keep the reader turning the pages? Then we have the perfect competition for you! Here are the details.

Harlequin takes aim at teen readers with new imprint



Congratulations to Harlequin and it's new teen impring.....details here.

Research? Please, no, anything but that!


Research.

People seem to fear it, but for me, research helps to get the creative juices flowing.

People say write what you know, so I devour information about places I've never been, people I've never met, and situations that I've never experienced. Human emotions I know and understand-- and can sympathize with-- even if I can never truly share in the experiences I want to write about.

Writing based on research has its pitfalls. Aside from an overwhelming soporific effect and a high probability of waking up face-down in a book and covered with ink, it also forces the writer to accept the responsibility to write carefully, to abandon their particular point of view in order to properly experience another's. No one likes to be misrepresented in, or worse, offended by a book they're probably reading to escape the slings and arrows they suffer in real life.

Now on to the nitty gritty.

This is not going to be a post on how to research so much as how to enjoy researching for your novel. Research doesn't have to be a chore, a thankless task. The internet can be useful for more than just its wealth of baby names and automatic plot generators. While Wikipedia is, as I'm sure you've heard countless times, NOT an academic resource, I'm here to say that it can be a great starting place as long as you check the sources at the end of each article.

But more than that, Wikipedia serves up its information in broken down chunks, addressing history, or science, or culture under different headings. This can help you get your bearings, and at the very least familiarize you with the basics. ALWAYS double check dates with another source, preferably one that does not cite Wikipedia. ;)

I bet if you are studying, say, the Victorian Era in England for the setting of your new book, you might feel overwhelmed with researching the society of the upper crust, the fashions, the social morés, the dances and carriages and what they used to light their houses at night. Specifically, Wikipedia's article on "Victorian Era"gives a short general overview of the time, followed by highlights: "Culture", "Events", "Entertainment", "Technology and Engineering", "Health and Medicine", "Poverty", "Child Labor", and "Prostitution" that might give you just the type of general details you need to familiarize yourself with the time.

Here's the fun part. Does anything stand out to you? Interest you, excite you? The increased popularity of the Bandstand? The Indian Sepoy Mutiny? The development of tenements? Youths forced into prostitution, "The Great Social Evil", by poverty and other societal pressures?

Ah, history. You've never failed to provide me with examples of the depths of human depravity. But I digress. Even if you are not researching history, keep your eyes open for that spark, that one topic that makes your blood boil, or your heart sing, and you've just got to write a story about it.

Okay, maybe I'll add a little more about the act of research, which you might do if you want to learn more about the development of Victorian tenements.

This is where we leave Wikipedia. Its works cited, and the "Further Reading" section that this article on the Victorian Era luckily has, can help you discern who the academics are in this field. Search Google Scholar with these names and the subject "Victorian tenements" in the hopes that one of these academics has written an article on the subject. There might even be websites devoted to the subject, but as you know, always double-check those internet facts.

While Google Scholar might lead you to articles that you don't have access to online, like articles provided through JSTOR, the same articles might be available at your closest university or large city library. No access to such depositories of scholarly articles? You can always search for books on your subject, which usually provide more general information on a topic, rather than the narrow, specific focus an article might address.

Sites like the eBook Directory have free scholarly e-books available on many topics, and with a little judicious use of Google, a wealth of pdf files can be found for many scholarly articles without having to pay for them. Of course, the more obscure your topic, the lower the chances of finding what you're looking for without going to a university library, which is the source for research that comes the most highly recommended by yours truly, researcher extraordinaire.

Most importantly, be open-minded in your research. Truth is stranger than fiction, but that's just because real life is random and cruel and novels are supposed to make sense, because novels offer themes we can all understand, from the Satyricon to The Hunger Games. If your research is making you uncomfortable-- and I mean too uncomfortable to write about, not the kind of discomfort that comes from tackling a controversial or unsettling topic that you simply have to tell everyone in the world who will listen-- then you might need to stand back and figure out just what attracted you to this subject if it is now bothering you. Maybe you just need to look at the topic in a different way, from your main character's point of view, perhaps.

Maybe you'll discover something that can't be learned from all the books and scholarly articles in the world.

Something about your main character, yes, but maybe you'll discover something about yourself.

The Gender Bias in Statutory Rape

I just read a very intriguing article on this link:

http://www.blogher.com/gender-bias-statutory-rape#comments

When it is a very (annoying and accepted) 'accident' to read an (adult) male raped a (child or teenage) female, I must say that it is very relieving for me (LOL) to know that in fact there is on the way around case, although of course it would be (perhaps) only one case among a thousand (or million) cases?

It does not mean that it is okay for me to rape (male) children or teenagers. A rape is a rape, a crime. However, to tell the whole world that women can also do what men do, in this case, is what I meant to say.

Anyway, I am wondering if the male children raped will undergo similar trauma just like many female children have undergone?

SPB 14.51 170709

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Some thanks are in order...

Recently I was the recipient of the coveted "One Lovely Blog Award", given to me by my friend and critique partner, Abby Annis.

I'm still pretty new to the blogosphere, so I am thrilled to be getting an award, but it may take me some time to pass it along. There are a lot of blogs that I read every day, but I don't comment enough to be feel comfortable awarding someone out of the blue. Maybe this will help me to be more vocal.

More importantly, the day Abby gave me this award, I was hot, tired, cranky, and had just been in a software seminar for the past two days. She made me feel like I was someone instead of a faceless page of posts in an endless sea of blogs. It let me know that there was someone out there who cared about what I had to say. So, thanks, Abby! May the followers of your blog be fruitful and multiply.

Rebecca Knight, another of my fantasy crit-ers, just gave me the "Superior Scribbler Award". Its ancient lineage can be traced back to the one true Scribbler, Scholastic Scribe.

It may take me some time to dole this baby out to deserving scribblers, but in the meantime, I wanted to thank Becca K. for giving me the award at a much needed moment in my life (I swear, she and Abby must be psychic, or else I am just melodramatic and constantly needing e-hugs).

I'd just received an official rejection from a great agent on a revised full, and was lamenting that I couldn't even write a sentence, much less a novel, and needed this timely ego boost. So thanks again, Becca! May the characters in your novels live long, happy lives. Except for the ones you decide to kill off. ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Book Blogger Appreciation Week



Nominate your favorite book blog, it fun and hoping to see you during the week.

Here

Announcing the Second Annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week September 14-18, 2009

Last year over 400 blogs came together to celebrate the art of book blogging during the first ever Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I am so pleased to announce that the second annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week will be taking place September 14-18.
WHO Anyone who blogs about books is invited to participate. In fact, we want everyone who blogs about books and reading to be a part of this week!

WHAT A week where we come together, celebrate the contribution and hard work of book bloggers in promoting a culture of literacy, connecting readers to books and authors, and recogonizing the best among us with the Second Annual BBAW Awards. There will be special guest posts, daily blogging themes, and giveaways.
WHEN September 14-18, 2009

WHERE Here at the new Book Blogger Appreciation Week Blog! (Please note that this year there are three separate blogs and feeds—one for the main event, one for giveaways, and one for awards.)

WHY Because books matter. In a world full of options, the people talking about books pour hard work, time, energy, and money into creating a community around the written word. I, Amy, the founder of Book Blogger Appreciation Week love this community of bloggers and want to shower my appreciation on you!
WANT TO PARTICIPATE?

Please help us spread the word about Book Blogger Appreciation Week by posting about it on your blog, stumbling this post, twittering about it, and telling everyone you know that it’s time to have a party and celebrate book bloggers!
Please register by filling out the registration form! Registering ensures your inclusion in the BBAW 09 Database of Book Bloggers and enters you into the drawing for the BBAW 09 Grand Prize!

Come back often as there will be many updates! And follow us on Twitter!

AWARDS
BBAW Award Nominations will open tomorrow, July 15 on the BBAW Awards Blog.

WIP Wednesday : Chasing the Dragon


Now that I'm cruising along on my wip, gunning for 20K by Thursday, I'm remembering what I love about writing. It's like a kind of high, and I won't deny I have an addictive personality. I float above the rest of the world, plotting and speaking in the voices of imaginary people, and typing late at night until my eyes are red. I'm like a junkie for the laptop, and every click on the Word Count fuels my high.

After the torment of this last round of purgatory in Query Hell and the endless revising and reworking, after the acceptance that a novel I spent the better part of a year on may not be THE ONE, my WIP progress is what reminds me why I can't keep from writing. Maybe I'm not good enough to be published, now or ever. But if I quit writing now, I'll never know. And I'll stop getting that rush, feeling that power, that, dare I say it, god-like omnipotence that comes from unleashing a character or a story you love into the world, or, failing that, at least bring them to life in the minds of a handful of people.

Athena's got nothing on my current heroine; she sprang into creation fully formed and cut her way out of my head and onto the page. She's convinced me to learn about new ways of life and cultures that are totally unlike my own. Though I know nothing about playing the violin, she is an expert at it. She faces adversity with her head held high, and isn't afraid to take on new challenges. She's also hot-headed, naive, and self-centered. She thinks the world revolves around her, and you know what, she's right.

My world does revolve around her right now. Together we're experiencing danger, fear, prejudice, sexual tension, first love, and the exhilaration of stardom as if we are the same person. In fact, I keep having to tell her I'm the boss and she's not. No, you can't kiss that boy right now, you have to wait until it moves the plot forward. Argh, no, you can't see ghosts. Wait, that might be really cool, actually. Okay, you can see ghosts.

More importantly, she distracts me from lamenting over the last story that made me feel this way. The one that has been edited within an inch of its life and still needs an major overhaul before I send it on one last ride on the query-go-round. Don't get me wrong, there's a thrill in seeing partial requests in my inbox, too, but so far, the pay-off has just not made the build-up worth it, if you know what I mean. And I think you do. I have to believe that practice makes perfect. Maybe it's just the writing endorphins talking, but I have confidence in my work, and I think maybe, just maybe, this story is THE ONE.

And maybe someday I'll have time to give the last one a major overhaul, or the one I wrote before that one, or the one I wrote before that one. And I'll have time to write new stories, bring new characters to life, their worlds crossing over into ours. But I know this right now; it doesn't matter how many stories I have to write, chasing the high that this one might be THE ONE. I'll keep doing it as long as it takes. Maybe it's because I'm an addict. I can't help myself. I want to feel the rush that writing-- even writing a mediocre book-- gives me, the kind of rush that even tops reading a favorite book for the first time.

So that's why I keep writing, more than anything. Everything else, rejection, publication, is just a side-effect.