Friday, February 27, 2015

Another Writing Week

Much thanks to Patricia Stoltey for letting me share my reason for not taking the indie route with my books. I think the discussion will be going on for a long time. For at least as long as traditional publishers are around but that's a discussion for another day.

On Monday, I'm going to introduce my Dragon Soldiers who will be helping me during the April A to Z Blogging Challenge. I'll have a post on the A to Z site and something here also. You can also volunteer to be one of those lucky soldiers. Let me know in the comments and I'll get back to you quicker than even Smaug can fly.

"The most-called-upon prerequisite of a friend is an accessible ear." Maya Angelou

A whole lot of my writing time has been high-jacked by responsibilities connected to my position as secretary of Pennwriters. Members of the board have been working hard to get a new, website up and running and get the registration for the conference coming up in May up and running. We're having a teleconference tomorrow morning. My point wasn't to whine about the time, because my part has been so small. It takes a lot of patience and understanding for a group of people to put together such a massive undertaking. There are many complex wheels turning behind the scenes of a big conference like ours and it's easy to allow frustration to surface. Hopefully, we'll have a successful conference and everyone will still be talking to each other when it's over. I hope we're all still friends.

I want to also thank LV Barat for hosting me earlier this week. She's another of Musa's authors who must know decide where she's going from here. I talked about the lack of clean water in medieval times where lots of fantasy novels are set.

More on bad news February next week. I don't want to talk about it today and jinx something else bad into happening. And this is an entire post without complaining about the weather.

Enjoy your weekend and share your plans. I'm planning on doing major catch up on writing and some blog posts. Has February been good to you? You can complain about the weather if you want. Ever done a teleconference? Agree with Maya Angelou?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Signing Fun

I spend February 14th at a book signing with many author friends from central Pennsylvania. It was the 2nd year for the event at a local greenhouse and nursery. Due to ominous weather conditions, the customer turnout left something to be desired and no one sold a lot of books. I wasn't overly disappointed and think I sold more than my share. But the best part was spending time with my fellow writers. We had lots of time to talk and just visit.

Megan Hart

When I went to my very first writing conference, I met a young writer in the elevator and we struck up a conversation. We were both starting out and decided we would read each other's manuscripts and be critique partners. Megan Hart was miles ahead of me in mastery of craft, but she also spun stories that were brilliant. To no one's surprise, she's now a bestselling author of romance and of mainstream fiction. Sitting beside her at the book signing gave us a chance to catch up as we're no longer critique partners but will forever be friends. Isn't her outfit lovely? I always remind Megan about when my daughter first met her. Kelley was only about twelve years old and declared with great authority that Megan looked like a writer as compared to me who just looked like a mom.

I know I've mentioned my friend, Natalie Damschroder on my blog before and linked to her blog. She is the major organizer behind this author event and makes it so easy for the rest of us. All we have to do is walk in and set up our books. She's multi-published
in romance and I like to call her my 'go to' girl when I have a question about the writing business. She keeps on top of things.

Cate Masters is well known to many of you. I've done numerous book signings with Cate and she is one of the kindest, most gracious people I've met. We also have worked with the same publishers in the past and I often email Cate with questions about this or that. Cate is also one of the fastest writers I know even though her personal life is very busy.

I'll share more pictures on Friday. But a lesson from this event is to look for venues other than bookstores to hold signings. Many places love to host authors and if you draw customers they'll want to have you back.

Don't forget that tomorrow is the #AZchat or #atozchallenge on Twitter from 1-2 EST and then again from 8-9 EST. Bring your questions. March is almost here and your A to Z hosts will be rocking with advise to improve your experience in the challenge.

Tomorrow I'll be guest posting on Patricia Stoltey's blog where I'll be explaining why I've elected to seek out publishers for books I've regained my rights to rather than choosing to self-publish them. I'd love it if you stop by and offer your opinion.

Are you familiar with any of the writers I shared a table with? What does a real writer look like? Where is the oddest place you ever held or attended a book signing? Will you join us on Twitter?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Shaking Off the Blahs

I hope you'll join me today at LV Barat's blog where I'll be talking about drinking in the medieval world where so many high fantasy novels take place. You'll also find a link to one of my favorite reference books when you get there.

Didn't think it possible for twenty degrees to feel like a heat wave but that's where we're at this February. But March is only days away and soon we'll see those spring bulbs pushing their way toward the sun. Cold weather and get a person down, depressing the creative urges and even the urge to exercise and eat right. Just in time to get us thinking about our health, new dietary guidelines have been published. Here's an article from the New York Times where they share some opinions and facts.

It seems that despite all those terrible facts about cholesterol and eggs, they really aren't bad for you and are an excellent source or protein. Coffee, can be good for you. I saw an article in the paper suggesting that 3-5 cups of coffee per day might be okay for a lot of people.

Things everyone should watch out for, added sugars like in soft drinks and many fruit drinks and juices. Just eat the real fruit and don't buy juice at all. Sodium is a big item to avoid also. Processed meats and cheeses are very high in sodium content and should be avoided as much as possible. Red meat, not so good, and anything high in saturated fats.

Eat as natural as you can, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and get your protein from poultry, fish and nuts. Drink water.

Exercise, exercise, exercise. I'll be so glad to get back outside working in the yard. I have a lot of ground to take care of so it gives me a second bout of activity after my morning runs or walks. Even weeds sound lovely after all this cold and snow.

I'm past the mid-point in my next science fiction romance. I haven't settled on a title yet but my publisher is good at suggesting possibilities so we'll come up with something together. My next series is already taking shape so I need to get this one done.

"Never go to a doctor whose plants have died." Erma Bombeck

What do you think of the new dietary guidelines? Any surprises? Ever think about how lucky we are to have clean water supplies?

Do stop in at the A to Z blog today for some more inspiration and leave me a note if you'd like to be a Dragon Soldier and help me out during the challenge. I could really use one or two more helpers. And a new post at IWSG will get you on track for another week of inspired writing.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Today, I'm turning my blog over to C. Lee Mckenzie. Read about her release and join her contest. You can find me at Michelle Howard's blog as she helps me celebrate the reissue of Keepers of Sulbreth from Musa Publishing. Also, if you didn't check in on my post yesterday at Dianna Gunn's blog, The Dabbler, I would love to hear your thoughts as I share who and what helped my career in the early days.

There's nothing’s more dangerous than a wizard-in-training. And Pete Riley, has just proven it. He's worked a bad time spell--a very bad time spell.

No YouTube, no smoothies, no Manga. Not ever again. Not unless Pete figures out how to reverse his spell and free Weasel and him from Victorian England. 

He has until the next full moon. Only a few days.

Tick. Tock.

Here’s how the story starts, and it only gets worse.

One minute the clock was tick-tocking on the mantel and the next it was a smoldering mess.

“No,”˘Ć░üHarriet shouted. Then she braced one hand on her desk and covered her eyes with the other.

Pete froze, not blinking, not breathing, but waiting to see if Harriet would point one of her long, bony fingers at him and turn him into a turnip or something slimy.

To celebrate the launch of The Great Time Lock Disaster I'm giving 20 eBooks away. Hope you'll jump in to the copter and go for a ride!

Usually, C. Lee takes on modern issues that today's teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. Double Negative (2014) was her third young adult novel. Researching it turned her into a literacy advocate. Her fourth YA, Sudden Secrets came out in December 2014. 

When she really want to have FUN, she writes middle grade books. Alligators Overhead and The Great Time Lock Disaster are now available.
Are you familiar with C. Lee and her books? Have you met Michelle Howard or Dianna Gunn yet? What are your plans for the weekend? Are you thawing our or deeper in the freezer like us?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cold But Busy

The A to Z Blogging Challenge is only six weeks away. Still lots of time to sign up and if you have already signed up and picked a theme, you'll enjoy The Theme Reveal Blog Hop scheduled for March 23rd. Sign ups are open.

Also if you've signed up and would like to expand your A to Z experience, I could still use a few Dragon Soldiers. Check out the cool badge you can display on your blog sidebar. You know you want
one. Let me know in the comments and I'll get back to you sooner than a dragon can start a fire.

Tomorrow, to fire up the enthusiasm for April, we'll have our first Twitter Chats from 1 pm to 2 pm and from 8 pm to 9 pm, all times EST. These chats will continue every Thursday from tomorrow until the end of April. Check it out at #atozchallenge or #AZchat. Hope to see you then.

Also tomorrow I will be a guest at The Dabbler where Dianna Gunn, publicity expert with Musa Publishing will host me. Hope you'll stop over there.

This Friday is the reissue of Keepers of Sulbreth. I'm very excited but also worried. It is a reissue
that sold pretty well when first released. What if nobody wants it who hasn't already purchased it? Nothing is a sure thing in this business. Wish me luck.

And today, you should stop by IWSG group where Janice Hardy is our guest. She has some great things to say about improving your manuscript.

We're expecting more snow later today and then two days of frigid cold before more snow on Sunday. Not to wish my life away, but winter really needs to move out of here. I think if you live anywhere in North America, you feel the same way.

"The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent." Carl Sagan

I think that fits Mother Nature's attitude about now.

I'm working on the 3rd Warrior of Gaviron book now that I have a small breather between edits for my fantasy series. Not sure how long that breather will last so maybe the cold is a good thing, keeping me inside to write. Looking for a silver lining here.

Have you ever had a book reissued and if so, did it do well? Can you join us for a Twitter chat tomorrow? Are you signed up for the theme reveal? Do you agree with Carl Sagan?

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Great and Powerful A to Z Theme Reveal Blogfest!

Sign-ups for the 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge are already under way. If you have done it before, you know how much fun it is (good for you!) and if you have not, this is your chance to give it a try! You can sign up to participate here.

One of the most burning questions participants ask themselves every year is: "Should I have a theme?"
Themes are not mandatory, but definitely fun. They let your visitors know what to expect, and help you create posts that line neatly up from A to Z. They also have an added bonus: They let you participate in a whole separate blogfest!

Two years ago A to Z participant Mina Lobo started the Theme Reveal, and we thought it was such a great idea that we made it tradition. It is now our very own, grand and festive way of rolling out our themes together!

Here is how the Theme Reveal Blogfest works:

Sing up on the Linky list below, and on March 23rd (Monday) publish a post on your blog in which you reveal your theme, tell us why it is exciting, and give us a hint of what to expect from it! Then, once your post is up, use the Linky to visit all the other blogs announcing their themes. Enjoy!

This is a great opportunity for all of you to get a jump start on your A to Z experience. You can link up with fellow bloggers, scout out and bookmark themes that you look forward to, and set out delicious themed bait on your blog to lure in wandering participants! This way, by the time the frenzied posting begins on April 1st, you will already have an audience eagerly awaiting your posts.

Sign up below, ready your theme, and post March 23rd on your calendar!

1. The Write Game 2. The Multicolored Diary 3. Tossing It Out 4. J. L. Campbell 5. Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh 6. Susan Says You are next... Click here to enter This list will close in 36 days, 7 hrs, 18 min (3/23/2015 10:00 PM North America - Eastern Standard Time)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Highlights

Wrapping up a great week. I've caught up on a bunch of things and already filled one of my goals for the month. Besides that, I'm all ready except for packing my books for the booksigning tomorrow at Ashcombe's Greenhouse and Gift Shop for tomorrow. Some good things have happened this week, including winning A Jumble of 500+ Writing Prompts by Tyrean Martinson. It's a great buy even if you have to pay for it. I'm going to let all my writing friends know.

Don't forget on Monday the linky list for Theme Reveal Day will open. It's a lot of fun and will get everyone in the mood for A to Z. Check back here Monday for more. I still need a few Dragon Soldiers to help me behind the scenes of A to Z. I'll give you a peek at the cool badge Jeremy designed for me next week. So far only my helpers have seen it.

I'm pleased today to highlight Heather M. Gardner's upcoming release with a cover reveal today and a teaser of a blurb.  

Title: One Good Catch
Author: Heather M. Gardner
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs
Release Date: March 13, 2015

Ignoring a recent trauma that is affecting her everyday life, ER Doctor Kate Maguire engages in some high risk activities, but putting herself in these dangerous situations isn’t enough to feed her edginess. She needs something more. When her brother’s high school best friend comes back to town, it’s her chance for a ‘no strings attached’ fling with the man who still headlines in all her best dreams.

Rhys MacGrath’s days of one-night-stands are long over. The pro-football player might be side-lined at rehab for a shoulder injury, but that doesn’t mean he can’t admire and desire the all-grown-up, so-damn-hot, version of the tomboy he once knew. His sudden interest in Kate might be aggravating his best friend, who doesn’t approve, but it’s her indifference that’s driving Rhys crazy.

Everything heats up when Kate’s nosy nature sets her in the line of fire of an arsonist forcing them to deal with more than just the sparks igniting between them.

 Heather M. Gardner's love of books began on the hand-woven rugs of her small town library where her mother worked. There she had a never-ending supply of stories to read at her fingertips. As a teen, her favorite genres to curl up with were romance and mysteries. When she started to create her own stories, they were the perfect fit.

Heather resides in New York with her best friend who is also her husband, plus her talented and handsome son. She is currently owned by four stray cats. Heather's a full-time mom, works part-time from home, a chocolate enthusiast, coffee junkie, cat addict, book hoarder and fluent in sarcasm

Need some great writing prompts? Check out Tryean's book. Aren't you intrigued by Heather's blurb and that cool cover? Are you curious to see my badge? Happy Valentine's Day to you all. I hope you have as much fun as I intend to have at the book signing. Maybe I'll sell enough to take my dear husband out to dinner. I promise pictures next week of the signing. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Love In all Its Forms

I hope you'll visit me today at the Blogging from A to Z site where I'm talking about how easy it is to participate in the challenge if you're part of a group blog. And I'll be begging for more helpers again. Please think about helping.

Also today, Alex Slater, a literary agent, is a guest on the IWSG blog. The guests always have something helpful and interesting to offer.

Thanks for all the great comments on Monday's post when I mentioned how love of one sort or another is a central plot point in most well-known stories. Besides the exciting booksigning I have coming up on Saturday, I'm having a lovely week connecting with some friends. Today I'm having lunch with three wonderful ladies who were my friends through my early years of teaching. They retired years before I left the field and we lost contact for a few years. But I reached out and now the band is getting back together today. I can't wait. We have so much catching up to do but otherwise it will be like we just saw each other yesterday.

"You can't measure the mutual affection of two human beings by the number of words they exchange."  Milan Kundera

I wanted to thank Tyrean Martinson for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I'm quite humbled to have received this twice since the start of 2015. I'm not sure I deserve it but thanks a bunch. As part of it, I'm supposed to mention three things that have inspired in the past few weeks.

1. My daughter is attending college in Boston. Her situation there has inspired me not to complain about winter for over two week now.
2. My good friend, Ava Quin, signed with an agent last week. Her hard work toward her writing goals has inspired me to keep chasing mine.
3. The loss of our family friend last week has inspired to me to reach out to some friends I haven't spend enough time with lately. Life is too short.

Instead of naming the 15 bloggers to pass this award to, I invite everyone to take the time this week to think of who has inspired you lately. Thanks, again, Tyrean.

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."
Walter Winchell

Writing wise, I'm doing a final galley read through on Keepers of Sulbreth and am half-way through the second round of edits for War Dragon, the follow up book to First Dragon. In other words, really busy.

Have you been inspired by someone this week? Can you think of some good friends you've been out of touch with? Did you sign up for A to Z? Wanna be my helper?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Isn't It Romantic?

I'm excited today to be a guest on Christine Rains' blog. I'll be discussing how I walk that line between pure science fiction and pure romance in my novels. How I try to capture readers of science fiction and readers of romance without turning them off by leaning too far toward one genre of the other. I've had great cross-genre success with my last two series including the latest release, The Warrior and the Governor. Hope you'll stop and visit.

This is a great week to be a romance writer. Love is the name of the game for the next few days with lots of events going on both online and in stores. At my very first writers' conference, a very successful writer told our group that all good stories were actually love stories. He didn't mean romantic love alone, but all kinds of love. Love of family, country, ideals or religion. Not sure if that statement is totally true, but most books that I would rank as the best had love as one of its basic plot drivers.

On Saturday, February 14th, I'll be participating in a book signing event with numerous other authors at Ashcombe's Farm and Greenhouses. It is a terrific venue. We set up in the greenhouse among the houseplants and right beside the awesome gift shop. It was terrific fun last year and I'm thrilled to be part of it again.

Take a minute today to visit the IWSG blog where Alex J. Cavanaugh will be discussing pros and cons of small presses. Would love for you to share your opinion and maybe you'll learn something interesting too.

A to Z Blogging Challenge signups are chugging along. I really would like a few helpers to help me get through all my April responsibilities. And the theme reveal will be coming up soon so I hope you're all ready for that. And you don't have to wait until April to visit people on the list. You can make friends before then.

Do you think most stories have a 'love' theme driving the plot? Are you doing something special for Valentine's Day or are you saving your money? Are you doing some early visits on the A to Z list? Ever do a book signing in a venue other than a bookstore? Did you stop over at Christine's Blog?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dianna Gunn; Promotion Specialist

I've been very fortunate to have found a wonderful publisher to reissue my first epic fantasy series,
The Futhark Chronicles. Musa Publishing is a very professional business and I've had the pleasure of the last few months to work with Dianna Gunn, the promotion specialist assigned to help me. I've already learned so much from her and today she shares why she loves her job.

The Best Job in the World

Last year I was hired by Musa Publishing to work as a Book Promotions Specialist focused primarily on expanding the reach of our speculative fiction. I had done social media marketing for a variety of small businesses, but I always daydreamed about working with books.

I've known I wanted to be an author since I was eight years old, and working in the publishing industry seemed like a natural extension of that. So I jumped at the opportunity and started working with some great authors right away.

Five months later I'm pretty confident that was the best decision I've ever made. Here are some of the reasons why:

The people I work with are fantastic. Everyone I work with is passionate about the same thing I am: books. Some like different genres and authors than I do, but they still love books. This means we have plenty to talk about and that nerdy references can often be expected during our conversations.

Quite a few of the people I work with have also shown interest in my own writing and their support and encouragement has helped me make leaps and bounds towards achieving "published author" status myself.

I feel a deep sense of pride when one of my authors gets a good review. I know the books I work with are fantastic—I've never read a Musa book I didn't like, and I've been reading them since the company opened its doors—but it's even better when I see somebody we don't work with talking about how much they enjoyed one of our novels.

Getting reviews on big book blogs can be difficult, but every time I've managed to get a spot on a big blog, the blogger happened to love the book. Seeing a 4 or 5 star rating tells me all my hard work paid off—and that I'm not just supporting great people, I'm supporting great books.

We all learn from each other. Everybody I work with has a different skill set. Some of my authors have only published their first novel in the last month—and others have their first release date coming up soon. Some of the Promotions Specialists I work with have been working in the publishing industry for years. I've been studying social media marketing actively for the last five years and got my first social media job in 2012.

I've been in a pretty constant state of learning since Musa hired me, and it's incredible. I know so much more about book marketing than I did five months ago, and a huge part of what I do is simply pass that information along to authors as I learn it.

Musa is constantly growing. Individual book sales might show only increase slightly from month to month, but Musa is growing all the time. We are actively looking for new staff and new authors, and book sales are steadily increasing.

Being part of a company that's in a constant state of growth and change means two things: I can clearly see my influence on the company's growth, and there's endless opportunity for me to advance my career. There's room for me to grow with Musa, to build a solid career with a company I've truly come to love.

Book promotion isn't easy, but most of the time it's incredible fun. The week before a release might be insane and sometimes you really feel like you're shouting into the wind, but it's all worth it. I wouldn't trade my job for anything in the world.

Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer and Book Promotions Specialist who's working hard to add published author to that list of titles. She also happens to love cats, photography and Scotland.
You can find her at The Dabbler or on The Darkside Codex blog every Tuesday. Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

IWSG: February Version

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh, this wonderful groups of supportive writers is still around. Join the blogging challenge to receive encouragement, offer advice and network with other writers. Visit the entire blogging group and add your name to the list on the IWSG website if you haven't already. And you can join in by visiting the IWSG Facebook Page.

There's a lot I don't like about this month besides the cold and snow. It's short. Less days to do all the things I want to do and need to do. Just looking at my Old Farmer's Almanac leaves me a little frazzled, and I'm not a frazzling kind of person. Generally I thrive on multi-tasking, over-scheduling and too many commitments with not enough time. Did I over do this month? Actually, did I over extend myself for the entire year? I worried about it a bit all through January.

Then two days ago, a family friend died unexpectedly. He'd had health issues he'd ignored and not followed his doctor's advice, but he was the same age as my husband. It stunned not only my husband, but my children who appreciated and enjoyed this kind man's jovial presence and support. The world lost a bit of brightness.

And now I'm not worried about all those obligations as much as I was. I know I can handle it all and I'm not going to ruin my time stressing about it. I have more things to worry about like the health and safety of my family and friends. Time with them is time well spent. Writing is my job and all the networking things I do to strive for success are part of it. But it's not the most important thing. My advice this month is that if you're going to stress, make sure it's over the right things.

Beside prioritizing, another way I've taken some of the workload off my shoulders is to host some very interesting guests on my blog. This Friday, Dianna Gunn, Promotions Specialist for Musa Publishing will have a guest post. More wonderful guests will follow during the rest of the month.

I still need some minion helpers for The A to Z Blogging Challenge. I hope you've signed up. If you have and you would like to improve your exposure even more, please think about being my helper. It's pretty easy. I give you a small number of blogs to visit each week and visit them at least once to make sure they're following the rules and participating.

The Warrior and The Governor is doing well since it hit Amazon. Today I should finish up reading through the galley for Keepers of Sulbreth. The book is being reissued later this month by Musa Publishing. My WIP is on the back burner for the last few days.

Do you like February? (This question not directed to my friends in Florida and California. Do not under any circumstances tell me in the comments how it was 80 in your neck of the woods today.) Do you want to be a minion helper? Are you stressing over things you shouldn't? Is there something good you're stressing over?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Winter Is Not Coming...It's Here

I live in Pennsylvania, home of the completely ridiculous tradition of Groundhog Day. The celebration has been around since 1887 so maybe I shouldn't scoff at it. They have their own website a and a group of supporters. You can be an actual member of Groundhog Day but you need a top hat and tuxedo. There are lots of events planned if you're looking for a unique vacation destination for next year. Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog, emerges from his den after sunrise. The tradition states that if Phil sees his shadow, we're in for six more brutal weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, we're going to be blessed with an early spring. I'm sure you'll hear it on the news somewhere today. Winter storm is moving through Pennsylvania today so likely no shadow.

February is named after the ancient Roman festival of Februalia, a time for purification and atonement. Is that why I say TV coverage of people doing those plunges into icy rivers and lakes? Shoveling snow is a cold enough purification for me.

Tomorrow is the Full Snow Moon so prepared for a cold night. As I started in January, I plan to share the Chinese Zodiac animal signs with you so you can see how you fit in. These years of birth are the Year of the Ox, or sometimes called the Year of the Buffalo. 1925, 1937.1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009. You are a bright, patient, and cheerful leader. Does this sound like you or perhaps someone you know like your children?

Sign ups for the Blogging A to Z Challenge are flying along. As one of the worker bees behind the scenes this year, I need a few assistants to help me keep track of my section of the challenge list. It's not difficult. I merely ask you to visit a small section of the list and let me know if a particular blog isn't participating or is an advertising entity. We also make adjustments if there is inappropriate content or unlabeled Adult Content. Please email me or leave a note in comments for me.

Don't forget to visit IWSG for today's helpful blog. And Wednesday is our monthly posting day so have all your insecurities ready to share. Hope this latest snow storm missed you.

Do you believe in Punxsutawney Phil? Did you ever do one of the icy plunges in the winter? Are you a buffalo? Wanna be a minion for Susan Says?