Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hiaitus



So I have sad news, and it's sad news that has shifted on me. I have an aunt with cancer and she had a surgery in May that left us hopeful for a short time—then the tumors started growing back... and they thought six months to a year, but a second assessment had a HOLY COW that's fast, less than three months.

I had planned to go see her at the end of August—she is staying with my cousin in Arizona. But I talked to my cousin yesterday and all the signs indicate this is probably more a matter of days to a couple weeks rather than a couple months, so I am flying out to Phoenix tomorrow. I have no clue what my computer access will be at all, but I will definitely have other priorities, so I am taking the week off—possibly the one following with the exception of a guest spot I have scheduled.

And I'd like to share this wee bit of hard-earned wisdom. Don't let your families drift. I know it can happen—people you love have lives off in another place and you lose touch. Reach across the gap, would you? It is so sad to do so when you know how little time is left. My dad's family just has not been very close since my grandma died 33 years ago, but my aunt is a sweet woman and I wish I'd made the time to be closer.

And in other news... Happy birthday, JK Rowling and Harry Potter...

and

I am ALSO over at Ink in the Book http://inkinthebook.blogspot.com/ again today... only it isn't me... but it's ABOUT me... Talynn has written a little on the smarmy Jean-Jacques Georges...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Visiting Ink in the Book and having a Muddled Mind


I have WAY too much in my head right now. I am being featured at Ink in the Book this week—today and tomorrow... So THAT is the real blog—I'd love you to head over that way..

those BEDS are trampolines! I adored this.
As for me... I'm meant to be finishing a book (A Shot in the Dark)... the book that keeps growing—GADS, does it keep growing. It will have to go on a diet in revision, but I now don't believe even the 120K will finish it. I should HIT that 120K this month... erm... tomorrow, I mean... But I may have 10K after that to go... like I said... JUST. KEEPS. GROWING.




My hero. Seriously. Got people reading again. That's big.
So who watched the Olympics opening? I totally hadn't meant to, but then I saw there were going to be 70 sheep involved and changed my mind. I mean... 70 sheep! (I know, right?) but I was SO IMPRESSED with the theatrical presentation of England's history and then the storybook/hospital piece. (wee jab at the US who stubbornly refuses to adopt a national health plan and I applaud them for it—we can be so STUPID in the US, and this is where I believe we are stupidest)

JK Rowling!!!! WIN!
100 foot Voldemort? OHMYGAWDYES.

His wand worked!  Talk about nightmares!
And then the Queen parachuting out of a helicopter with James Bond? (and her concerned Corgis? teehee) GAH! All those little pieces were sublime, but the overall pulling it together... seriously, if you missed it, find it. It looks like YouTube has at least most of it.

So that is what I have for now... just a few favorite memories and a commitment to getting my act together soonish... But go over to Ink in the Book because the REAL blog ise THERE...

The absolute highlight, IMHO. The queen rocks.
Hope you have a great week!  If anybody has any wrackspurt cures, give me a holler. And don't forget to come see me at Ink in the Book!


Friday, July 27, 2012

Visiting Denise Verrico, Talking 'bout Vice

So remember how on Monday I THOUGHT I was visiting Denise? We got our wires crossed and she had a family emergency so NOW it is up there. I am reposting THAT, but saying additionally, we are giving away one of my books, so you'll want to get in on that action, yeah? So go COMMENT (easy peasy) and you get in the drawing (which will probably really be a random number generation, but whatever:

Art from Vice Magazine

Denise visited ME last week and today I am visiting HER with my thoughts on the different ways my different characters view and assess VICE (fun, eh)--so it's a little of a characterization exercise. I hope you'll come see me over there!

Immortyl Revolution

And she has graciously offered her short story collection to everyone who commented the day she was here--I will be contacting you individually, too, but just so you know!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Fabulous Liz Crowe and Cheeky Blonde



So I have writer friends all over the world, and I LOVE that. But my writer friends close to home are few and far between. Liz Crowe and I live mere blocks from each other and have not ONE, but TWO sets of matching children (who attended the same middle school). Liz ALSO happens to be the rockin charm and much of the hard work behind Ann Arbor's hippest young brewery, Wolverine. (good friend to have, eh?)

In addition to being my neighbor, friend and brew-queen, though, she has also been putting out high-quality 'romance for real life' with her realistic adults and all their tensions and baggage, and some of the hottest sex out there. She's put out more books than I can count in the last couple of years, so with her release of her latest, Cheeky Blonde, I thought I'd ask her some questions...


Tart: You are one of the busiest people I know, yet you still manage to put out a LOT of writing? How do you do it? In binges? Stealing time regularly? Are your first drafts really clean? How do you manage to fit it in?

Liz: My first drafts are sh*t to steal a line from Papa Hemingway. But once I latch onto a concept, or am provoked to “make more” within a series like I am with the Stewart Realty series and I get on a roll, I “marathon” as my editor says. I can’t stop. And I do steal time, the odd hour here or there, but have been known to look up and go “Oh crap look it’s 5 a.m. and I have yoga at 6 and a full day of beer work after that.”

It’s hard to explain really, but when a set of characters are in my noggin and I’m in head writing mode I have been known to stop dead in the grocery store aisle, pump my fist like an idiot or scary sociopath based on the looks on the faces of those around me when I “get it” and will NOT stop until it’s out…on paper, or in my case, on the screen.

I’ve worked with many different editors at 4 different publishers including Ellora’s Cave and I will say the ones who allow me to bounce ideas and collaborate somewhat (Like at 3 a.m. when I text her and say “hey, what if he did this instead…?”) are the books that are selling the best so far.

I still have the odd twinge of “I need an agent to get the big contracts” or whatever but I have zero time to come up with a fresh new MS to submit to one. And while I think that might be in my future someday, I’d rather continue to meet the growing fan base clamor for “more Liz” myself, with the help of my existing publishers.

And as I like to do lately, I just ask Siri: Am I a successful writer? And she says, “Yes Liz. You are.” It’s a sickness but I love baiting her.

Tart: So how many books is it now? Can you give us an idea both of the total number, but also a feel for the various series you have going?

Liz: 14 published, everything from a 9k “cougar story 1 Night Stand” to a full on 100,000 word novel that is getting a LOT of great reviews and awards (see above=collaboration with a good editor). And 1 coming from Ellora’s Cave in August plus 3 more planned in the Stewart Realty series for 2012.

The Brewing Passion series from Breathless Press was my first published one. It has 3 short stories and a “choose your romance ending” novel.

The Turkish Delights series from Decadent Publishing is really one of my favorites. I pushed all my boundaries with this series, doing a cougar story, then my first “man love” novella, and then my first BDSM concept. Those 3 were so popular I wrote a prequel and then a final novel to bring it all full circle.

And the Stewart Realty series has taken on a life of its own THANKS to a very forward thinking and creative publisher and editor who asked me one question: what can we do to make Jack Gordon That Much More….so I did. And there you go.

Cheeky Blonde is a stand-alone that was a “close to my heart” project that got its fair share of rejections before finding a home with Decadent Publishing.

Tart: So as you get farther into this writing process, what do you feel is getting easier? Anything getting harder?

Liz: Nothing gets easier. Period. From the lightbulb moment of concept through the marathon when my kids are all “oh crap cereal for dinner…again” it’s both pleasure and pain. Then the editing process even with my collaborative publisher is hard. “Every “What do you MEAN this needs ‘more?’” moment is a pain in the ego but then, typically is spot on. My favorite Liz-ism with regard to the writing process is this: If your editor is telling you how awesome and talented you are, you need a new editor.

An of course the slog of self promotion in the current environment as you have noted recently is a total and utter pain in everyone’s ass. Even those of us being promoted to—because, hey! We read too! But I’ve been picked up by a lot of “50 Shades” readers with my Realty series, making a ton of “What to read after Grey” type lists. It was total coincidence that I released those 3 books with a Dom/sub element around the same time as that other much more successful one, but it’s one that more and more readers /reviewers are finding complex and compelling enough to pass on to their friends and so on so my publisher went to print on them. I’m just trying to balance In Your Face with Don’t Forget About Me given all the options when it comes to realistic, yet hot fiction.

I had my first writer’s convention this summer too, and I sort of dreaded it but it totally rocked. Nothing quite like sitting in a break out session given by another author and looking around to see at least 4 people reading your book instead of listening. AND releasing a book on a Thursday at the convention, selling out my print copies and then having a book club meeting about it on Sunday morning before we all leave because they could not put it down (Essence of Time).

Tart: I love your heroines—strong, driven, successful. But all of them, at least of the books I've read, seem to be really drawn to powerful men with a reputation for assholishness... can you explain this draw to me? Is it a need for fictional tension? Or are you really drawn to men like this? Is it the power rubbing off? The challenge of taming? The status?

Liz: Because my dear, we can’t all be married to Mr. Perfect? I mean, the lure of the “bad boy” is the real deal and many of us went that way, for good or ill. I just channel it I suppose, and try to show how hard it can be to balance your physical attraction for a VERY strong male personality with a need to have an equal relationship. A really great example is Cheeky Blonde, the book we are ostensibly chatting about here. Sean Garrison’s reputation precedes him as a cheating, selfish, ladies man. But once she really gets to know the guy, and gets past her preconceived notions about him Jen Baxter discovers a strong, natural match for her own fierce independence.

The whole “romance for real life” genre thing that I’ve been working hard to create is frustrating for many readers of traditional romance and I’ve been slammed by a few very traditional reviewers. But the glowing 5 star and “gold star” and “top picks” I’m getting at many (more) others say this: Liz Crowe does NOT write traditional romance, or traditional erotica or anything close to that. It’s real, and it’s hot and it’s sometimes frustrating. Like life. But you really do want to know what happens to the very compelling characters created.
Liz and Joe Short of Shorts Brewing, Michigan

I go there—the VERY hot moments you share with an amazing and bad-for-you strong male, then beyond, as in how in the hell do you make a life with a guy like that? And none of those heroines you mention fall easily. Every single one of my heroes with natural asshole-ish tendencies work hard to prove they deserve her respect, trust, and love. I’ve been criticized (to put it mildly) for the way some of my heroines treat those seemingly perfect dudes—resisting, holding them off, trying to exert some control over their own emotions—but at the end of the day, they do give in, and life goes on, and I show a fair bit of the bumps and bruises these strong personalities bestow on each other along the way.


Tart: So tell me about THIS book... Give us a blurb:

Liz:
Violence, intrigue, and passion are brewing in the craft beer world. When bitter rivals Jennifer Baxter and Sean Garrison meet, the notorious and handsome owner of Garrison Brothers Brewing stays true to form, seducing his rival at a national brewer’s convention.
Sean arrived at the convention expecting to get down to business, including his stated goal of hiring Jen away from Brick Street Brewery. But the beautiful fellow craft beer expert provides more of a distraction than he expected.

When sabotage strikes their fellow breweries, they unite to solve the mysteries. But fate and rumors brew more than beer as love, lust, jealousy, and misunderstanding collide in a way neither could have expected or anticipated.

Can they overcome the malicious chatter long enough to explore the emotion bubbling beneath the surface? Or will lust fall flat and leave them nothing but memories of the moment that slipped away?



Liz and Garrett Oliver, owner/founder of Brooklyn Brewing
Tart: I LOVE including the brewing life. I know it isn't your first of these, but the brewing world is sexy and interesting. Are these books easier to write because their background is your life? How much autobiography do you let seep in? Do you have to be careful for balance for the non-beer readers? (is there such a thing as a non-beer reader—gads, that's a scary idea)

Liz: I use all aspects of my life as inspiration. As a brewery owner and marketing “wench” as I call myself, it behooves me to really get to know the industry on many levels. And the majority of those levels are occupied by the hairier sex. I love it. I adore sitting around in meetings full of dudes and pondering what exactly they are thinking about me, how I feel about them and working through our complexities and daily tasks with that very real dynamic fixed firmly in place.

I’d say Cheeky Blonde’s real moments as in “autobiographical” ones come best represented by the time spent at major beer fests in Denver. These are seriously hard work, but also hard partying venues for breweries and distributors. The “tap takeovers” and “debut parties” I talk about are for real and a big deal. That town is all about craft beer for a solid weekend during the Great American Beer Fest. I channeled it to create this entire book.


Tart: This one also had some serious external tension, too... some sabotage... the rumor mill... the ugly business 'play'... Did you have to do anything out of the ordinary on the plotting?

Liz: Yeah. I actually talked with several of my colleagues at a high level to discuss that “what if you were to sabotage a brewery…” concept. Many of them were very creative about it and I had some damn funny skype chats with guys whose names are on the labels of bottles you would know but I can’t reveal here about that whole “brett contamination” thing. And the rumor mill? Yeah. It’s there. Big time.


Tart: Are we going to see more of Jen and Sean (or Dylan, yum)?

Liz: At this point, quite frankly, I am letting readers guide my next steps with existing books. I thought the Cam/Liam story would be a fun one to tell potentially.

But right now, no, I have no plans for a follow up.


Tart: Are you noticing a trend for which guy I always pick? * shifty *

(you don't have to answer that)
Liz: Yes, I am. And I KNEW YOU WOULD LOVE DYLAN!! Ha. He’s hawt.


Tart: And what do you have on your plate right now? What will we SEE next and what are you WRITING now?

Liz: I am currently working on 2 books more or less simultaneously for the continuation of the Stewart Realty series (again based on sales, publisher encouragement and reader demand of me).
Conditional Offer will release late August and Escalation Clause in early November.

I will be contributing to a series with Ellora’s Cave later this year, with a hot young American brewer who ends up in Ireland, working for a seriously haunted hotel/castle but wanting to start his own brew pub—and the Domme who shows him the way. Oh yeah.

And Lust on Tap is in promotions phase—it’s a brewery based novella (ménage but that is really more a serious Cinderella style love story) that releases August 10.

Also, please allow me an advance plug for “Paradise Hops” which I just sold to Tri-Destiny (the Stewart Realty publisher) which is also a brewery based novel, releasing mid October. I think this will be very appealing.

Tart Note:  Separately, I asked Liz to assign beers to some of her heroes to give you a taste, ifyouknowwhatImean...

MY HEROES AND THEIR BREWS:

Sean Garrison (Cheeky Blonde): Russian Imperial Stout from Stone Brewing (‘nuff said)
Dylan LeDuc (Cheeky Blonde): Oro de Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin, a spicy, peppery, Franco-Belgian golden ale fermented on a wild yeast.

Jack Gordon (Stewart Realty): Wolverine Brewing’s Gulo Gulo India Pale Lager
Craig Robinson (Stewart Realty): Wolverine Brewing’s Amber Lager
Rob Freitag (Stewart Realty): Wolverine Brewing’s Chrysalis American Wit Lager
Blake Thornton (Stewart Realty): Wolverine Brewing’s Dark Lager
(WHAT? They are in Ann Arbor after all)

Caleb Blessing (Turkish Delights series): Sam Adams Noble Pils

Dustin Prufrock (Lust on Tap): Bell’s Brewing Hell Hath No Fury Ale

Liz Bio:
Microbrewery owner, multi-published author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great middle west, in a Major College Town. Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat trailing spouse plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry) has prepped her for life as erotic romance author. When she isn't sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, she can be found writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications.

Otherwise, look for her doing pounds of laundry for her athletic children, watching La Liga on the Fox Soccer Channel, or trying to figure out what to order in for dinner. Liz loves her Foo Fighters Pandora station, and watching reruns of Deadwood, when there isn't any decent sports on the telly (like during “golf season”). Her beer blog a2beerwench.com is nationally recognized for its insider yet outsider views on the craft beer industry. Her books are set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch and in high powered real estate offices. Don’t ask her for anything “like” a Budweiser or risk painful injury.

Cheeky Blonde exclusive Excerpt:
When the elevator stopped on her floor, she trudged down the long hallway, finding her key and fumbling it into the slot. No magic green light appeared. She stared at the thing, her mind fuzzy, as if a closer examination would reveal its secrets, and suddenly sensed Sean standing behind her. She turned, determined not to let him into her room. That damn smile of his went straight to her gut.
“So, do you want the job, or what?” He raised a dark eyebrow.
“No. But thank you for the consideration.” She looked away. “And I swear you are a stalker, if I didn’t know you as a single-minded obsessive.” She closed her eyes briefly, realizing she could have been describing herself. “Anyway, I’m done for the night, so if you’ll excuse me,” she tossed over her shoulder.
“Wait,” he said, pulling her back. “Seriously, let’s talk. I promise not to….” Without warning, he pressed a kiss to her cheek, making her painfully aware of how damp she was from his earlier efforts.
She couldn’t help but smile at him. “You could charm the birdies right out of the trees, couldn’t you, Garrison?” She crossed her arms over her chest.
“Probably, if I wanted them out bad enough.” He held out an arm. “Buy you a nightcap?”
She rolled her eyes. “Jesus, man, it’s almost time for breakfast.” But she leaned back against her hotel room door, knowing full well she was about to invite him in.
“Well, lucky for you I brought a breakfast stout.” He presented her with the tall bottle. She sighed and handed him the key card. He slid it into the slot, never taking his gaze from hers.
Once the door was open, she ducked into the bathroom, leaving him to sort out his own seating arrangements. She splashed water on her face and stared at herself in the huge mirror. This had been the most amazing day, exactly as she imagined it would be, making Brick Street’s national debut as a legit craft brewery. And to cap it off, no less than Sean Garrison, the hated-feared-envied king of the mid-west craft-brewing universe sat out there, in her hotel room, expensive beer in hand. She put a clammy palm on her exposed upper breasts, taking deep breaths. Not only that, he had brought her to a raging orgasm practically under the feet of the entire bar and had then offered her a job.
Jesus.
“You pass out in there?”
She squared her shoulders and stepped back out into the room with every intention of booting him out before she did something foolish.
“This is delicious,” a deep, honey-smooth voice called from the other side of the nearly dark room. “Come and join me.”
Earlier resolve melted into a puddle of lust. What was it about this guy, anyway? She sat at the end of the bed, watching as he poured a small portion of the thick, dark brew. His fingers brushed hers when he handed her the glass, which zinged straight to the base of her spine. She sipped, relishing the bourbon-infused warmth as it slid down her throat.
“Yum,” she said, letting the brew soothe her rattled psyche. She decided not to mince words.
Straightforward always served her well. “So, why the hell are you following me? You’re working it pretty damn hard.” She held out the glass for a refill.
His devilish grin sent a thrill through her body so strong she had to grip the edge of the bed to stay seated.
“I mean, other than wanting to fuck me, of course.” She hid her trembling by taking another gulp. The realization that she’d gladly let him do that pissed her off so much she rose from her spot, clutching her glass, needing movement to combat her nerves. He put a hand on her knee. She glared at it, large and rough against her skin, as if he actually used it for more than money counting. When he tipped her chin up to face him, she found herself staring into eyes that seemed almost sad. She clenched her own shut as his lips brushed hers.
“I’ve been watching you,” he whispered in her ear. “I want you.” Her entire body broke out in chills. She opened her eyes, willing him to move away, and wanting him to kiss her more. “And I typically get what I want.” He settled back in the chair and picked up his glass.
“A control freak,” she said. “Big surprise.” She mirrored his movements, crossing her legs and taking a sip.
He smiled and her heart leapt. Damn the man. No wonder he was divorced. His sheer chemistry overwhelmed the room, and he knew it. He chuckled and leaned forward once more.
“I’m not such a bad guy, you know.” He sighed as if maintaining his innocence offered a hardship. “I think all you little brewery guys are great, and I wish you well. Just not as well as me.”
“Well, you’re gonna have to learn to share the market, pal.” She sipped the last bit of stout. “We are here to stay. And I might add, you have no shortage of enemies, which can’t be good. Buying tap handles with free beer and promising your distributors trips to the tropics for more placements and your obsession with cease-and-desist orders….”
“Babe, I’m merely doing my job, protecting my interests, and increasing Garrison’s bottom line.” Annoyance clouded his face. “Besides, you’d do the same damn thing if you had the money or the product to do it with.”
She stood, setting her glass down with a loud thunk. “Fuck you, Garrison. I will never do any of that shit.” He tilted his head and stared at her, which made her irritation worse. “I guess that takes my name off the job list. So you….” She put both hands on his shoulders and glared at him. “You can leave now. Interview over.”
With a speed she didn’t anticipate, he got to his feet, his body mere inches from hers yet again.

Cheeky Blonde buy links:
AllRomanceEbooks (where it is already a best seller and you can download all e-formats): 

For all info on this and my back list including the award winning Stewart Realty series (for which our beloved Hart was a VERY early reader) and updates on book signings and sightings: www.lizcrowe.com
For beer stuff: www.a2beerwench.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tagging Frenzy


So one of my Amazon friends, Thomas Knight, a smart guy who has done a TON or work learning about self-pubbling strategies, started a Facebook conversation last week about something I'd never much thought about. Thomas is both an Indie author and (perhaps as importantly in this case) a computer programmer.

See, on Amazon, there is a spot after the reviews for book tags. Anybody can add them. It has to do with the genre, content, setting... pretty much ANYTHING related to your book.


What Are They FOR?

See, here is the part I didn't really grasp... they are search terms (that much I knew)--so anything someone would search that you think YOUR BOOK is the answer for. Great. Fabulous. And?

And if OTHER people choose the SAME tag for your book--if there is broad agreement your book fits that tag--then YOUR BOOK is more likely to pop up if somebody searches that topic.

Just hit me in the head now because I'd totally missed this piece...


What do I mean?

I mean if you all wanted to go tag my book as 'llama' which would be a grand inside joke nobody but my friends would understand... and you ALL did it, then I could rise really fast in books that pop up when somebody goes to Amazon and searches for llamas. That's just hot, isn't it? Even though my book has nary a llama in it, which is not to say the series will never have llamas. In fact I may look at that as a challenge if I get to write a 4th book...


But What it ALSO means is my tags I added myself that ONE PERSON at some point must have agreed on are NOT enough to propel me very high in the searches. I will be there, but maybe on page 82, and who goes through ALL the things that come up when you search a topic? You don't, right? You browse a page or two... maybe as many as five if you are determined...

BUT...

And here we reach the 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' portion of this blog...

If y'all were to go check my tags, and then LEAVE HERE the url in the comments here for me to do the same for YOU (not a link, just what I need to paste—links in the comments mess me up) then we ALL get better searchability, eh?

Follow these links then scroll down through the preview and reviews...

Paperback
Kindle


Is This Gaming The System?

I had a couple FB friends object to this little thing, just for full disclosure. They thought it seemed like cheating, but I think we in the blogosphere GET that helping each other out thing. It is actually what is called Social Networking... And I feel it is MORE FAIR than a lot of stuff—all I'm asking is for you to agree with my tags so my book pops up in a search. It doesn't change sales or ranking. All it does is make it appear so someone can learn about it and then make their own decision. Or that's how I see it...


*****

UPDATE:  Holy COW is this working!?  On the term cozy mysteries I've jumped to the first page with you guys helping and on gardening mystery, I am #3 for paperback and #6 for Kindle!  WOW!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It’s Not You; It’s Me…


Such hard words to hear…  because you KNOW it isn’t quite what’s meant.  I mean it IS, but it’s a statement of mismatch… you didn’t do anything wrong except BE YOU… which isn’t working for me… Only this time I'm you... ifyouknowwhatImean...

So I’ve been on the receiving end of a little heartbreak…

A big heartbreak, actually.

My agent for my YA stuff, the fabulous Amy Tipton, has broken up with me… She was really nice about it—felt terrible. She has just been looking over my revised Kahlotus Disposal Site and got to feeling like she just isn’t the right person.  She thought I wouldn’t have any trouble at all finding new representation—nothing she specifically thought I should do before sending it out again. She even passed on a few names and a few different agencies she thought would fit me better.  Our visions just aren’t quite compatible. She said she loves my writing and knows I’m talented and promised to remain a fan… it is just the collaboration piece…

I’m not sure what to do with this… I’ve felt like things were settled for a while… I haven’t shopped for an agent actively for two years and strangely, in that time, accumulated two of them. Now I’m back down to one, but Ellen is project specific—just the cozies… I think she’s a great fit for my mystery stuff but I need to head back into shopping for an agent for my darker stuff.

Not yet though.  I mean soon.  But I need to let this settle.  Sort of like a relationship—if I dive in too fast, I might settle for any old person, and the sex might be fantastic… wait, what?  No, seriously—I think I need to really look at some personalities… stalk people a while if I think they’re a good fit, rather than just desperately groping for the first person who will have me. After looking, I will Query people who I think I might manage a mind meld with. Because they are out there—I know MANY people like that—people I meet and know right away that we get each other. Surely one of them is a literary agent. I just need to FIND HER.

So I think the PLAN… (oh how sad… I can’t make myself cackle when I say plan… it’s a dark day indeed)

1)       Finish writing A Shot In The Light.  I can’t lose the momentum on this—I’m nearing done. And I KNOW the query thing is a MAJOR creative block, so until this rough draft is complete, I’m not even going to think about it. My deadline is the end of July.
2)      AugustHARD COPY, I will edit What Ales Me. With my online time I will make a list of the agents I think may be a match, including Twitter and blog info, if there is any so I can keep track of them for a while. Start with website. ALSO look into their authors I think might be sort of similar to me.
3)      Pull together my KIT info:  Query letter, synopses (a couple lengths)—get it all set so as I query, I just pull out what I need as I need it.
4)      September I will query and send What Ales Me to first readers. THEN I will begin my first revision of Medium Wrong.

I will give myself August through October to edit and query, then I know I need to step back. If I am doing a WriMo in November (meaning WHEN I do a WriMo in November) I need to have this stuff off of my emotional radar. I may not have an agent by that point... in fact knowing the speed of these things, I probably won't. But I will have done a few query rounds, hopefully have had some full requests... I will set aside thinking about it until AFTER ABNA entry in February...

One thing this DOES mean, is I am now free with my YA stuff instead of just my adult, so Medium Wrong may be my best ABNA BET... Or maybe not... I was intent on A Shot in the Light, but at 120K when it's done and two other editing projects before I get to this... I just don't imagine it will be quite polished in time... That particular piece, I suppose I can play by ear.

Anyway... I hope you will pardon me while I nurse my wounds for a bit...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Visiting Denise Verrico

Art from Vice Magazine

Denise visited ME last week and today I am visiting HER with my thoughts on the different ways my different characters view and assess VICE (fun, eh)--so it's a little of a characterization exercise. I hope you'll come see me over there!

Immortyl Revolution

And she has graciously offered her short story collection to everyone who commented the day she was here--I will be contacting you individually, too, but just so you know!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

You Thought YOU Loved Books...




Is this to die for, or what? I mean we ALL have had fantasies of a library like Belle finds when she visits Beast—high ceilings and books all the way up, but what an elegant twist!



This is a little more intimate, I suppose... probably a lot more realistic...



Or if you want to sleep on them...









Or bathe in them...







Or perhaps you'd like to live in a city that loves them. I understand this is St. Louis? (anybody know for sure?)


I don't have any idea where this one is...  Anybody?  Bueller?




Or as a home for your OTHER favorite thing.... I confess to falling full on in LOVE with this.











But if you are really and TRULY committed to books...

I happen to ADORE this...


I love the whimsy and how impressively TALL that stack is... you know I've thought about getting a tattoo per book that I publish, and I have to confess how appealing this idea is as my 'tattoo of what?' answer. Though the trouble is it is more a Gestault pic, than a book at a time pic... To get the tattoo done piecemeal, I don't think it would look quite this great.

Something like this would work better:


There is even room on the spines for titles--see how they are SORTA 3-D, but not so much that you can't put the next one in there... but then there is only room on a person's back for a limited number... Perhaps if they were lined up sideways... Like on a real shelf... I would LOVE the problem of facing... 'oh, have to go around to my belly' if I published enough books... I ALSO love the idea of maybe a nuance to it... color in the bestsellers or something...

What do you think?  How much do YOU love books?



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Diversity Conundrum


Where I get all deep and stuff.

I had a conversation at work yesterday that got me thinking (again) about a topic I think about quite a lot anyway... First let me premise this as... if I say anything offensive it is TOTALLY unintentional. I'm not trying to talk about ANY SPECIFIC group, so much as the ACT OF GROUPING and how this is sort of a moving target. I'm even going to end this projecting outward...


Human beings as wanderers were tribal. They recognized their own clan as SELF and other clans as OTHER, while to ALL of us now (short an anthropology degree that specialized on that area), we would not see there was any distinguishable difference. But human beings have something at their core that craves an in-group/out-group definition. Maybe it is the need to be a part of something, and in BEING part, there, by definition, have to be outsiders.

I have a few separate thoughts that I hope will logically tie together in the end, so bear with me.



Heritage: A West Coast Perspective

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Among my friends, if we'd talk about our heritage, we had people that were maybe a QUARTER this or that (I have two 'pure-blood quarters—added together I am full HALF Scandenavian)--but I didn't know anybody who was even HALF of anything at a country-level. I know, though, in that area on the Iowa/Minnesota border where my grandma grew up, there is STILL a dense Norwegian population. People today can still be found who are ALL Norwegian, in spite of being more than 150 years past the major immigration. There are cities in Michigan that are nearly all German or Dutch, or Pole. This was a strange finding, moving east as I did. That there are STILL people who stay 'in-group' at A COUNTRY level. People who moved west tended to do so in small family units, where people who stayed east (other than the cities) stayed closer to home and 'their own kind'.

In this melting pot (the west)... a REAL melting pot... nobody thought about the varying shades of light tan—I mean SURE, if somebody was black we noticed—that was pretty rare (TWO in my high school class... a whopping 1%)—but I had friends who were part Native or part Latino and it never crossed my mind other than just being interesting  (I have a good friend who is Chinese and that was a noticed but INCLUDED minority—those kids never had trouble getting a date, for instance)


The Italian/Irish 'Gentrification'

I want to pick on these two fabulous ethnicities a bit for a very specific reason. These groups arrived 'latish' to do 'undesirable work' and were heavily discriminated against for several decades. They were the foreigners nobody trusted who never got respectable employment in a bank or a high-end shop. They were the service workers and the laborers...

Until they weren't. Until there were other groups to fill in that low end of 'who can associate with us but only at the lowest level'... Until racism had a NEW target... with browner skin and a stronger accent. Now there are a LOT of people with mixed heritage that includes one or both of these, where at one time, it would have been scandalous.


The Case of XXXX Middle School: Detroit

When I first moved to Michigan I was part of a research team testing an intervention with 8th graders in Detroit designed to keep kids engaged in school. There were three middle schools involved. One of them was a middle class school with 100% black students. And it ran like a well-oiled machine. The kids were engaged, worked hard, academically striving. There was no smart-mouthing. It was a whole lot more orderly than any other middle school I've been in EVER. One school had a falling population so was actively recruiting expelled kids from other schools, so I will leave that one out of the mix, because DUH, and BOY HOWDY, of COURSE it had problems. But the 3rd school—one in Southwest Detroit had about 60% black, 30% Latino and 10% white kids. This is Detroit, so the black students STILL owned the achievement domain—those were the kids 'allowed' to work hard without getting crap for being suck-ups. The Latino kids had a large enough minority that they got to be the 'hip bad-ass' kids—sassy, but some were popular. The white kids? Full-on delinquent material. They were so disengaged, even in 8th grade, that I wanted to cry for them. Their long term goals for themselves were so measly—they didn't have real dreams for what they could be. The black kids wanted to be the lawyers and engineers. The Latino kids wanted to do construction or drive trucks. And the white kids wanted to be strippers—I'm dead serious—what do you DO with that goal when a pair of girls says that in full seriousness-- “The money is good.”

Do you see how the expectations are turned on their head from our normal stereotypes? Do you see how being a member of the MAJORITY plays roles most of us outside of the environment would never consider? Because we are busy applying NATIONAL minority stereotypes... and those DO have an impact... I mean Detroit is STILL an example of a city that is angry and full of attitude--because at a NATIONAL level it is a minority... but at the LOCAL LEVEL, individuals experience it differently.

But do you ALSO see how that one school with no diversity whatsoever had the biggest advantage of all? No distractions from the task at hand. ALL they had to worry about was educating.


The Case of Scandinavia and the Best Standard of Living in the World

Do you see how this might be? Just from my example. Now there is a little diversity in the Scandenavian countries, but... not a lot. It's like Portland. It is really easy to be magnanimous about racial diversity when you don't have a large enough set of any one group to cause any problems. Sure. We love everybody! (and they do—it's sincere—I lived there(Portland, not Scandinavia)—If I wanted to marry a person of another race, you can bet your bottom dollar that's where I'd go—because of course at a coupling level there is a layer of discrimination that lingers even after coworker and friend discrimination goes away)

What I'm saying is a little hard to say, as I admire so many of the policies of the Scandenavian Countries—I wish we'd adopt a lot more of them. So I don't want to take away from the achievement they've managed. But it really IS easier with less diversity.


The Other Very REAL Side of the Coin

We are ALL better off for knowing a lot of kinds of people. When we get insular, we get STUPID. People I know who've never really traveled and don't know people from very many ethnicities tend to just think their way is right and everyone else is wrong. THEY happen to be the wrong ones (and no, I won't qualify this--I know they may not know better, but they are ignorant and wrong to not respect other people having different backgrounds and allowing them to follow those and acknowledge for THEM it is right). There are a lot of right ways to live and a lot of positive approaches (and belief systems and habits). But only through a lot of intermingling can we learn UNDER it all are very basic similarities—behaviors and attitudes about what is decent: kindness, caring, helping; and what is rotten: hurting others, stealing, lying.

And it is through this SHARING that this transformation is made where we move up to the next level in 'in-group/out-group'--what now seems to be racial... or religious... let me give a religious example...


Small Town USA, circa 1970

My home town had... pretty much ALL practicing Christians... Seriously. WEIRD, religiously speaking... the groups that were 'out group' on that term... were the Catholics and Mormons—both significant groups... but both the only 'non-protostant Christian mainstream' groups.

I'd, of course, HEARD of Jews, but honestly, I didn't think about them religiously much... I thought of the WWII genocide as racial. I'd heard of a few others... but it never occurred to me other faiths were practiced in the US. By the time I lived in Portland, I had several Jewish friends, several Buddhist friends... knew a few Wiccans (I still didn't know any Muslims that I knew of—though in those days, the Arabic distinction was... you know... Arabic... and religion wasn't brought into it, many Arabs being Christian and all, I never thought to ask).

NOW, the great evil seems to be Islam, strictly because now we've heard of it and it seems strange and different. Anyone who wants to claim it is more radical than Christianity can look at the Christian tenets the Ku Klux Klan supposedly draws on—every religious group has their radical nuts and every religious book, abused hard enough, can justify it.


The Logical Future

When we are in space, living with peoples from OTHER planets, we are going to see the humans as the desirable in-group. Their race or religion won't matter at that point even a little bit, because the scope of evaluation will have gotten enough wider and there will be a new out-group grouping to focus our need for OTHER on.

But I wish we could all see our commonalities and just celebrate our differences sooner than that.




Tuesday, July 17, 2012

As Lunatics Descend...


You know how there are these REALLY COOL events you anticipate and are thrilled to attend... and then you move to the city where they happen and the novelty wears off really fast and you suddenly are ANNOYED at the existence of said event? Yeah, that.

It happened to me in Portland... about the 4th year of Rose Festival I began totally avoiding downtown when it was there. It was crowded and the grass got wrecked and smelled faintly of sewage (sometime strongly of sewage). I mean sure the ships were still cool. And there were sometimes great bands. But mostly it was the same old food and a LOT of extra people.

Self-identified 'stupid art' (though it amuses me)
That happened to me about our third year in Ann Arbor with Art Fair.

I mean I love Art almost as much as the next guy... I'd probably love it as much or MORE, had my own art skills not seized around kindergarten. And there is a LOT of art...

Admittedly, some of it is STUPID art. And MUCH of it is pretentious art (hello, please pay $500 for this lamp I made from this branch). But really, there is also a lot of COOL art. Seriously—wicked cool. My neighbor has a ton of it—tiki statues and bobbing birds by her pool. Fairies and other friendly creatures inside. I love the stuff. And I know her well enough to know she isn't paying the $500 per piece prices.

But what BUGS ME is the VOLUME of people and the interruption of life. Ann Arbor's city limits can hold about 100,000 people. A football game brings that many extra... art fair? 300,000 in attendance... our city QUADRUPLES its volume for five days.

And unlike those happy beer-drinking, cheering football folks, these people are a mixed bag... I mean SURE, a ton of them are cool artsy folks. But a lot of them are annoying rich people with too much time on their hands and way too many of them are even MORE annoying pretentious people with superiority complexes who think they know Ann Arbor because they descend on it for 36 hours each year.

You know how I like Ann Arbor? Free of Art Fair Patrons and free of college students. There. I said it. I like college towns with no college kids. You get all the joys of a college town with none of the annoyance.

True story. I've lived in four cities, three of them college towns, and other than my time in high school that I was trying to SOCIALIZE with college kids, I always prefer them student-free...


Maybe it's my anti-social tendencies. I'm not normally a person to get too worked up by a hassle. But honestly... I don't MIND football days. There is a fun contagion (and money to be made). This repulsion is art fair specific. I wish I could get into it, but mostly it just means I have to reroute all week to avoid the darned thing. Maybe though, I will look at it this way. What an excuse to stay home and write.


To give you a little perspective:

This map is downtown Ann Arbor and central camplus. ALL the colored lines are normally streets you can drive on and are completely blocked for artfair. Purple is 'downtown' and while I know a downtown that is functionally 3 blocks by 4 sounds small and lame... this is ALL of downtown. Red is campus. And then the 'trolley' (aka city and campus buses moving in an off route so THOSE streets go a lot slower, too) So seriously... there is only really ONE route north and south through town and the primary east west 'part of downtown' is blocked (though going east/west Huron is a bigger street—but MAIN STREET? Yup. Main Street.
Liberty--the red part near campus

<------  Liberty is part of my daily commute—ALL of it. I walk it from 7th, which is several blocks west of where the map starts all the way to the end every morning. Now Art Fair isn't open yet when I walk to work, so there IS a little fun with walking up the middle of the street and having several intersections blocked so there is no need to wait for a light. End of the day though... there are so many people I can't read while I walk (you ALL know how I hate THAT) but worse, I can't even walk at a pace I like. I'm a speedy walker and HATE going slow.

All this fun arrives tomorrow... *sigh*

Anything you know you should think is fun that annoys you? Do you have any local 'claims to fame'? How do you feel about swarms of sweaty bodies in 100 degree heat?





Monday, July 16, 2012

Denise Verrico: an Interview with Cedric and Giveaway

So I've invited my friend Denise Verrico today to do a little promoting of her latest book. Denise and I go way back, as book promoting friends and today she has a very SAUCY interview with OOH LA LA Hottie Vampire Cedric (man, I love red-headed men). She is giving AWAY a copy of her Annals of the Immortyls to someone who leaves a saucy comment and email addy in the comments, and you definitely want to win, so tap into your naughty inner bad boy or girl and give us some sugar, eh? 

**********
I’m pleased to be back with Hart today! I brought my Scottish bad boy, Cedric MacKinnon, with me. I’m sure you’re much more interested in what a 6’ 3” bisexual vampire has to say, so I’ll let him speak.


DV: So Cedric, tell your readers a little about yourself--and do try to behave.
CM: My dear, I'm your slave, you know that. I only do what your wicked brain contrives. You dreamed me up.
DV: You hatched out of my head like Athena. I have little control over your escapades. Be a good boy, and maybe I'll write some erotic adventures for you.
CM: Promise? I'd like that. So, what’s this about a tart running this blog? I’m always pleased to meet a fellow tart. Oh, that’s a Python thing. I love Python too.

[*Tart pinches Cedric's bum*  I can be both kinds of Tart, you know]
So, here goes, I was born in Scotland. My parents died when I was little. I grew up in a children’s home and ran away to London when I was fifteen with dreams of becoming a rock star--needless to say, not a great idea. I went on the streets and made my living selling the only thing I could.
To make a long story short, rent boys in London have a 33% HIV infection rate, and I became a statistic. I turned to playing my guitar in the underground to supplement what I got from the government, and one night I encountered this lovely Indian man--or so I thought. Raj made me the man I am today. That is to say, a vampire courtesan turned assassin. Complete sociopath, Raj.
On the bright side, I’m a musician and play the guitar as well as Indian instruments. My prized possession is a vintage Stratocaster. I love all kinds of rock music. My favorite artist of all time is David Bowie. Flashy clothes, fast cars and the latest electronic gadgets are my weakness—and beautiful lovers. I believe in spreading the wealth, so to speak.
DV: Talk about your former line of work.
CM: Must I? You just love dredging all that up.
I’m an adept of the ancient arts, which is an Immortyl temple artist in service to the Goddess Kali, but adepts are used as courtesans in political intrigues by the Chief Elder, Kalidasa. Usually a total drag-- except for the singing and dancing. No one does a blues riff on a sitar like me. Music is my true passion.
Too many uncongenial lovers, too many beds, too little rest. Lord Liu was the exception. Liu Li Cheng is a gentleman and knows how to treat a boy right.
My official duty was to serve the Goddess and bestow Shakti’s blessings through an elaborate tantric sex ritual. During my training in the ashram, I told my guru, Sandhya, “I’ve been called many things in my time, but never a conduit of divinity”. She wasn’t amused and hit me on the back of the head with all her rings on. Ouch. Vampires aren’t known for being gentle. Well, maybe those sparkly, wussy ones.
I once had an encounter with a bloke who was with the Spanish Inquisition. No Monty Python fun here. Torture isn’t officially allowed on an adept, but with our new Rani, Giulietta, anything goes. The change I’d like to see is Giulietta’s head at the business end of my knife.
DV: And what is it you do now?
CM: Mia tells all about my exploits in servant of the Goddess. Let’s just say that I take heads now instead of give…well you get the drift.
DV: Who trained you in your new occupation?
CM: I’ve had excellent teachers in New York. Mia is quite the swordswoman. Philip and Shieh have taught me martial arts. My dance training comes in handy here. They call me a living weapon. I rather like that.
DV: I'm not surprised. Do you have a significant other in your life?
CM: With my omnivorous sexual nature it’s rather difficult to settle. I get around-- a lot. But there are two lovers who mean something more to me than a congenial shag.
My darling Mia is the earthly manifestation of Shakti in the form of Durga, and I’m her “tiger” servant. Grrr…we do get a bit rough sometimes. I love a strong woman.
However, I must say that Lord Liu remains a powerful presence in my life. You’ve got to love a Chinese warrior from the former Han Dynasty turned scholar turned Immortyl elder. He’s deep. And dare I say sexy?
DV: So, where do you go from here? Any last secrets to reveal?
CM: I won't tell all. I did that in My Fearful Symmetry. They will just have to read my saucy tale and Mia’s new one, Servant of the Goddess. With my new line of work, it’s hard to say where I go from here. I’m on a secret mission at the moment. So, I can’t say exactly what I’m about—or as you Yanks say—what I’m up to. If I survive this mad quest, I hope to continue to aid Mia and Kurt in their mission to find a cure for this condition that makes us perish in the ultraviolet and addicted to blood.
And you have promised some steamy tales. Of course, I will still be blogging and interviewing on Saturdays. I can’t disappoint my darlings.
Well, I suppose if the nice boys and girls leave me a saucy comment and a contact email, we could send them a link and coupon code for the free ebook of Annals of the Immorytls. That’s a-n-n-a-l-s—not a-n-a-l-s. There’s a short in there about yours truly.
DV: Cedric blogs at Immortyl Revolution on “Sexy Saturdays with Cedric”. Yes, I did indeed create a monster. He’s a social media whore. Here is one of his posts, Everything I Need to Know I Learned From David Bowie. You can chat with Cedric @cedricMackinnon on Twitter or at his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/cedricvampire.


About Denise's Latest Book: Servant of the Goddess is the fourth novel of the urban fantasy vampire series written by Denise Verrico. This installment follows up her debut novel, Cara Mia, which introduces the characters and world of Immortyl Revolution and its sequel, Twilight of the Gods and My Fearful Symmetry. Set in 2001, Verrico’s My Fearful Symmetry introduced a new vampire hero, Cedric MacKinnon, a temple dancer in service to the Goddess Kali, who learns his beauty and speed render him a lethal weapon. “My vampire society originates in India. In my third novel, My Fearful Symmetry, I delve deeper into the origins,” says Verrico. “In the fourth book, I unite heroine Mia Disantini and Cedric in a way that raises some sparks. It takes place in NYC in 2001, so there will be momentous events my characters must deal with.” As in all her novels, Servant of the Goddess maintains a science fiction twist on the genre, action-packed thrills and a touch of romance. 


About the author:  Ms. Verrico is an Urban Fantasy author and New Jersey native who grew up in Western Pennsylvania. She attended Point Park College and majored in Theatre Arts. For seven seasons, she was a member of the Oberon Theatre Ensemble in NYC. Denise has loved vampire stories since childhood and is a fan of the Dark Shadows television series. Her books are published by L&L Dreamspell Publishing and include: Cara Mia (Book One of the Immortyl Revolution Series), Twilight of the Gods (Book Two of the Immortyl Revolution Series), and My Fearful Symmetry (Book Three of the Immortyl Revolution Series). She currently lives in Ohio with her husband, son, and her flock of seven spoiled parrots. 

 Links
Cedric:
@cedricmackinnon

Amazon:
My amazon Page: http://amzn.to/K3NhVS
Servant of the Goddess Trade PB: http://amzn.to/K8uwPb
Servant of the Goddess Kindle: http://amzn.to/J0R2Id
Barnes and Noble: Servant of the Goddess Trade PB and Nook: http://bit.ly/IIz7ru

http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-servantofthegoddess-786819-139.html

Tart Note:  Now don't forget!  Spicy comment. Email! (Cedric is definitely worth getting to know--seriously--this vampire world is a very enjoyable one--tension and conflict of the role as killer, spicy, sexy... And I love the deeply thought through and consistent with mythology back story.  You want these)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Naked Recreation Week


So it’s almost over, but you still have time!

I really fell down on the job not giving you a heads-up before now. I seem to have had a busy week.  I’ve been writing quite a bit—passed 80K on my WiP last night. And while I think the book has some fat at the moment, I’m generally happy with what I’ve got.  And then I’ve been recovering from the blog tour…

But because the whole idea of a Naked Recreation Week appeals to me so much, I am doing a ‘better late than never’ post on the topic… some pointers… recommendations… warnings…


First:  What I would NOT Do. (don’t worry… it’s a short list)

To avoid injury and maximize comfort, I’d avoid activities with sharp pointy implements. Fencing, jousting, Hunting the beast of caerbannog…

Rock climbing is infused with naked dangers, from sharp rocks to rattle snakes… At the VERY least, wear a safety harness so your naked self doesn’t spatter when you fall…


Activities to Use CAUTION for:

While cooking naked is a FABULOUS activity, bacon spatter hurts… so wear an apron for that part…

Bouncing can be uncomfortable, so remember to bend at the knees to absorb some of the impact and probably for running or hiking, it is a good idea to wear proper shoes and socks.


Things I definitely recommend:

That hiking thing…
PICNICKING!!!

And best of all, any water sport.


To Maximize Enjoyment

Nudists should always carry a towel—not all surfaces are comfortable to sit on (or clean enough).
Avoid uptight people. They are annoying.
HAVE FUN!

You're welcome...