Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Writing PLAN 2012


I'm very content to pretend this is me.
Oh, how I love a plan... especially a writing plan. And largely, they work for me. I posted last year's plan last week and my evidence of success—which wasn't complete, but I DID get a lot done last year... And THAT is why I get so geeked about a plan...

Are you ready? (maybe a little scared?)

First... Let me explain.
No. Is too much. Let me sum up.

What Needs DOING, broadly

Polish: LEGACY
Big Rewrite: CONFLUENCE, ILLUSIONS (which also needs a new name), CONSPIRACY, WHAT ALES ME, MEDIUM WRONG.
To Write: I got Armageddon coming at me from four different directions, eh? I will write TWO of these this year. I will write a 3rd book iff I get a formal publisher request for such (a 4th on the cozy contract or if WHAT ALES ME sells as part of a series) MOSTLY, though, I am going to concentrate on rewriting and polishing some of this other stuff.

Revise LEGACY one last time.
Finally hammer out a GOOD pitch for it.
Enter that baby (the book, I mean, not a real baby)
Type in rest of WHAT ALES ME.
Potentially Tweak Kahlotus (have some ideas based on publisher feedback—need agent powwow)

Fill in holes and first revision CHRYSANTHEMUM CAMPAIGN.

CC to peer readers for the month.
Plan promotional campaign for AZALEA ASSAULT

WHAT ALES ME to peers.
Revise CC per feedback. Read out loud. Revise again.
Begin CONFLUENCE revision.

CC to agent
Finish CONFLUENCE revision.
Revise CC per agent

Turn in CC
BuNoWriMo: One of these pesky Armageddon stories...

First Revision MEDIUM WRONG

Revise WHAT ALES ME, read out loud

Final Revisions MEDIUM WRONG

Slot for specifically requested revisions for MEDIUM WRONG/WHAT ALES ME
First revision summer Armageddon book

NaNoWriMo: Thenother Armageddon? (yeah, I think so... but things change)

Finally polish CONFLUENCE
If time, begin revision ILLUSIONS

Ambitious? Yes. Subject to change? Absolutely. But I always do best if I have a direction and something to look to when I finish something... otherwise I can spin my wheels too long before getting back on track.

So what are your writing goals?

And Happy New Year to All of you!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christine Murray Storms Through!

Erm... Christine is a friend of mine through both ABNA and blogging. She is from Ireland, younger than me and participates in a great many things I admire but don't do, yet somehow I identify quite strongly with this brilliant young woman. Perhaps it is that her blog is so personal that I feel like I really know her, from writing struggles, to foster care respite, to living with pain. I think we largely have the same interests, and we just have approached them from entirely different directions so it is a little like looking at one of my other possible selves or something. Anyway, Christine delights me. And I'm thrilled to be hosting her for her release tour for her 'Chick-Lit' novel Storms In Teacups.

So without further ado... Welcome Christine!

I’d like to start by thanking Hart for letting me blather on her blog for a day. I’ve been a compulsive reader of her blog since discovering her on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award forum. It feels quite strange to be here.

They say that your first book is autobiographical. And this one is, in a sense. True, I’ve never taught disadvantaged teens, acted in a crime series, or gone on a journalistic crusade to take down one of the best known figures in Ireland. But some of the jobs that my characters do, the less glamorous ones? They come from experience.

My character, Shannon, works in a dingy call centre doing telephone market research while she waits for her big break. I did this for a year during college and a few months after graduation. For anyone who’s either conscientious or thin-skinned, it’s an awful job to do. People hate market researchers, so you end up getting shouted at. A lot.

Waking people up at 10am on Saturday morning to ask them questions about waste disposal companies? Yep. Asking people to give up twenty minutes of their lives to talk about how they’d rate the range of food at a particular service station? A hard sell. Unfortunately, I also made some the calls that Shannon makes in the book. I did, by dint of ringing on behalf of a certain bank, inform someone who’d been bereaved in the past two weeks that their partner had a secret bank account. Probably one of the worst thing you can ever do is make someone’s grief worse, even if it is inadvertent. I also called a woman who decided that I was her husband’s mistress rather than a market researcher. That was an interesting one.

Moral of the story? Whenever you have to do something you really hate doing, take comfort from the fact you can strip it for material.

Most of my book is, however, fiction. Some of it is ambiguous. Like, did I ever go drinking with a crowd of Dublin criminals who had a reputation for breaking fingers and wanted to harness the power of social media? Now that would be telling.


ALEX is a journalist who has always dreamed of working for a glossy women’s magazine. Instead, she finds herself working for Dublin’s most notorious tabloid newspaper, rewriting press releases and covering for her colleague Jodie, a well-connected neurotic who still hasn’t figured out how to use an apostrophe
ROSE thinks that she has life sorted. She loves her job as a teacher in a disadvantaged school, and has just moved in with her gorgeous actor boyfriend, Daniel. The only clouds on her horizon are a headmaster with a passion for new-age team-building and a stack of envelopes that she refuses to open but can’t quite bring herself to throw out.

SHANNON feels like she’s stagnating. When she graduated at the top of her class from drama college everyone thought it would be just a matter of time until she got her big break. Instead, she pays the bills with parts in small plays and some low rent television shows. Now she’s in her thirties, is it time she gives up on her dreams and get a proper job?

When a scandal shakes up the lives of all three women, will they manage to stay true to their dreams? Or will the betrayal of one man change their plans for good?


Christine Murray is a journalist and writer from Dublin, Ireland. She has a passion for both coffee and cocktails and thinks the espresso martini might be the most underrated invention of all time. She lives with her husband and chocolate Labrador in semi-organised chaos.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Networking the New Year

I'm facing a VERY exciting New Year... You know why? 2012 will be my first EVER book release. That is such a huge deal to me, I can't even put it in words... But you know what ELSE it is? This stressful culmination of 'have I been doing this right?' on the social networking.

I know I've had some successes. I have over 600 blog followers (more if you count the FB set, but I don't know the formula to remove overlap, so I sort of look at that separately). I have a bizillion Facebook friends (okay, more like approaching 3000, but it's a lot). My Twitter roll keeps growing... But have I learned how to USE this stuff?

And I feel exactly like this. Slimed.
What I Know NOT to Do....

ME ME ME ME ME! *cough *

This strikes me particularly hard on Facebook, but it happens other places, too. I am a joiner. It's part of the FOMS, yeh? So I am part of MANY writing groups. And sometimes I will come on and open my notifications and see the SAME person has posted in half a dozen (or more) groups. Do I EVER go see what they have to say? No. As a matter of fact, I NEVER do. I KNOW what they have to say. SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM. They are trying to sell their damn book.

Now I am not without sympathy for wanting to sell the damn books... In fact I will want to sell MY damn books. But that is NOT the how of it.

IDEALLY, I will have generated enough good blood through helping OTHER people out that I only need to share now and then and MY NETWORK will pass it along. It carries more weight anyway, doesn't it? Somebody ELSE promoting something?

Facebook Plans

So My Facebook Resolution is to work harder helping OTHERS promote this year. I already do this for people I 'know'--and by know, I mean people I connect with through more than one system—my blog friends, my ABNA friends. But I am going to work at helping out additional people here... Build the equity, if you will. Not so much it cheapens my notifications—probably I will stick to some metric to not overdo it... three shares a day or something...

My OTHER Facebook lesson is PACE YOURSELF. I think the people who get away with the ME ME ME ME ME (who aren't really doing that—they are also promoting others, but never mind) are people who once a day or so share a review or a signing notice. They don't just keep putting the book link. They share something new that has happened related to the book each time. So we are sharing a journey, not seeing a repeated commercial.

Twitter Plans

I just need to find a tutorial to learn how to use the darned thing. I promote my blog. But I don't read feed. I even miss a lot of mentions and messages. I just get overwhelmed. I THINK what I need to do is group people so all those people I am just following for courtesy aren't clogging my feed. I really only want to see book stuff most of the time, though I can see times fitness stuff, local stuff or art stuff might interest me. But it is almost 2000 people to sort to figure out who goes where... ACK!

I know, I know... I just need to...


Once I have a book number, I think I can set up my author profile. Then I will beg all of you to fan me... since that's how I roll... erm...

I think I need to do the same at Amazon, which means I REALLY need to figure out how this works...

Speaking of Amazon... I will do ABNA again. As Always. And NaNoWriMo... And BuNoWriMo. These events are great places to connect with people on a deeper level.


There is no question that this is my favorite social medium. I feel like the depth is SO MUCH greater, and I love that. But Blogging could suck up as much time as we would give it, couldn't it? Through the holidays, I've fallen down on visits. I think what I need to be is more organized. At one time I visited 30-50 blogs a day and I just can't do that very often, but if I was strategic, I could get to more people regularly, rather than the same ones all the time (though I love visiting the ones I do)--still... there has to be a system, yes?

My plan is to be more diligent to not neglect visitors and blogs I love. I am doing pretty good on the writing of blogs... I get them up and all. I plan to write most weekdays, but leave wiggle room to add a weekend or drop a weekday as stuff comes up... averaging that five days a week.

The only exceptions I plan are Blogging A to Z (see button in upper right if you want to do this fabulous April event), and NaBloWriMo in October. These are just both events near and dear to my heart, so I will continue to support and participate in them.

At some point (maybe March) I will need to make a more concerted effort to get around a little, though I think my actual blog tour will be in the few weeks following my book release.... oh, to come up with a clever event... I will have to see...

I guess that is all that's on my radar. Are there other places I should be? Any of you changing things up in the New Year?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

World-End Fitness Plan 2012

Is there a POINT in getting fit for the world to end? Wait... I don't believe in that... And REALLY, if there is that black hole axis tilt matter Roland blogged about (which I found totally fascinating, you should go check it out), then in fact being fit might be highly beneficial to survival... I mean we wouldn't want to be too thin—need the fat stores to survive in the scarcity mode, right? But strong is good. Flexibility adds to resistance to injury...

Every year I intend to get fit, but this year I have something going for me. It's an even year. Why does that matter? I don't know, don't ask me. But it does. I think every successful weight loss I've ever had... like approaching goal, successful, has been in an even year.

Now writing is a pretty big obstacle with this fitness thing. At least for fitting it in with day job and family life. I can be pretty darned obsessive, but it seems I only have time for one obsession in my life at a time, and for the last six years now, writing has been it. The influence of that on my butt has been disheartening.

Back to Weight Watchers

In spite of the need to not be THIN, it is also important to not be FAT... you know... for the speed in the case of the Zombie Apocalypse, but also, I have a BOOK coming out this year! If it is to be my only one before the world ends, I need to look GOOD!

I can do this if I... you know... DO this... it is a mind set thing for me. My online membership lasts until January 15, I think, and work has a real time group starting up, which I may join instead. I will decide by the first. I may need the accountability of it.

But I also know I fell apart this last time the week before Thanksgiving. I hadn't been using the diary, but I'd been following points until I was suddenly thrust into holiday mode. And NOW? The next food holiday isn't until the 4th of July, when one of the featured foods is watermelon. I think I can manage that one. Oh, sure...there are margaritas for El Cinco de Mayo, and Valentine's Day might involve some chocolate. But really, those are single day events and manageable. It is the November/December holiday stretch that is so hard.

So I can do this.

Counch to Keg

We've done a brief hiatus, it seems... but very brief. Really this has been a great exercise plan. I love exercising with a friend. We just need to get back to the RUNNING part. We've been mostly walking since the heavy coat season started. I will continue this exercise effort though. It really is something that has never disappeared and having friends to do it with helps.

The Bigger Obstacle

Flexibility and strength... you see, the problem with these is they require me to be stillish... and when I am STILL (or even stillish) what I want to be doing is WRITING. But I know as I age, these are the things that keep my balance, so I don't FALL (and falls in the agerly, are bad, yeh?) and support my bones so they don't break (see: falls). Besides that, more muscle means higher resting calorie burn which means I can EAT MORE (which is really the goal of all this, right? *shifty*). Seriously, though—this stuff counts more and more, but I just hate it. The only way to fit it in is to schedule it. And I think the best PLACE to schedule it is between dinner and heading out for couch to keg... that is about 20 minutes, five days a week, and if I alternate strengthening with stretching...

I just need to remind myself this is NOT cram in the blog or facebook session time. I mean, YES, double check we are on for exercise, but it is the perfect time slot. I CAN'T really get into some other project here. Perfect, right? So there it goes, shoved right into my schedule.

Any of you have fitness plans? Give a shout if you want to set up a little mutual support!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 Goal Progress

So today is my day to assess how I did on my goals for 2011, and I've just copied the list from my blogs (okay, the writing one, and only a link to the other ones) and I will summarize how I did.

Edit and Polish one of my WriMos.
Write and test pitch for ABNA: revise test repeat until ready.
Enter Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

Assessment:  This was all done. Kahlotus Disposal Site was a semi-finalist in the ABNA contest, earned an agent (the fabulous Amy Tipton) then saw two rewrites with agent guidance and is currently on submission. 


Polish Legacy (should be a 2 week task)
Present option to agent: if she passes, send a dozen queries
Begin writing next Garden Cozy

Assessment: I did the revision, but then sent to another reviewer who had a series of changes she suggested (and I agree). It then got set on the back burner for the required stuff, but is planned for my ABNA entry this year and Amy is reading it, so its day is coming.

Finish Garden Cozy
More queries if appropriate
Read Confluence and take notes

I finished the Cozy, but not until MAY (so mixed bag) and did not touch Confluence.


Finish reading Confluence beginning to end
Map out how to change PoV/Villains to make it a YA
Edit Confluence

I was still writing Begonia Bribe, so no.


REwrite that Gardening Cozy (should have been about the right about of 'set aside' time) then send to peer reviewers.

The month WAS devoted to Begonia Bribe.... Just not exactly as planned. I finally finished it.


Write my Microbrew themed near-Cozy (in a WriMo)

DONE. This is still in first draft--in fact has some pages that still need typing. But I succeeded here.


Polish 2nd Gardening Cozy/ send to agent
Revise one of WriMos (probably Kahlotus): Send to peer readers

I polished the Garden Cozy and sent to READERS and did one of my Kahlotus revisions. So I was a round late with Begonia, but did what I'd planned otherwise.


Open spot for catching up if something has fallen behind

No on Confluence. But DID use it to catch up--Garden Cozy and Kahlotus winding--glad I left a catch-up slot!

agent fixes on Garden Cozy
Rewrite MicroMystery
Cozy DUE to Editor

Another mixed bag. I didn't give my agent as much time as I should have with Begonia--BAD me. And I didn't rewrite the MicroMystery. I didn't NEED to query... this really was ALL about finally getting Begonia Bribe in shape (and at the scrambling pace, that was rough)


Polish the July Rewrite

After the scramble for Begonia Bribe, I changed my mind about how much time was necessary to do this thing, so I instead started Chrysanthemum Campaign. Only managed about 12K words, but started is started.


NaNoWriMo: 1st draft of 3rd Garden Cozy

And strangely, I couldn't get myself to write this at this pace and Medium Wrong had been bugging me too much, so I wrote THAT.


Polish Micro and pitch to agent (pretty sure this will interest her)
So FIRM:  Is writing 3 books, editing 4 books and doggedly finding representation for at least one other work.

And I changed my mind HERE, too... go figure. I am madly finishing my 3rd garden cozy first draft.

Broad Assessment:  I planned to write 3 books and by year end will have written 4.  That is GOOD. I planned 2 polishings that didn't happen though... I still find it hard to make myself focus on the rewrites and the edit.s While I may not have adhered exactly to my plan, I think the only actual near-failure was related to how slowly I wrote Begonia Bribe, which threw my whole timeline off. Next time I have a hard deadline (heck, THIS time with my hard deadline) I am writing like a WriMo and will press until it is DONE. I think it was a good year in Writing though.

Summary of Blogging goals: I think I summed it up pretty well last year, and I think I succeeded in my plans, other than that brevity goal, on which I made progress...

The Fitness, Money and Relationship goals: Yeah, not so much... I started TWO fitness plans... both of which were short-term successful, then petered out, though the Couch to Keg program still has us walking together (I really need better clothes to run in this weather--nothing both WARM and allowing for MOVEMENT)... The money stuff, we managed a PLAN (not the exciting one that makes me cackle, but a practical if painful one) and if we stick to it, it will be a very lean... about 3 years... but then we will be DONE with it. That's all I'll say, as this gets into HWMNBMOTI and his privacy issues.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Last Week of the Year: The PLAN *buwahahahahahaha*

I love that I get this week off. It is my week I count on every years, and I get to do what I like best... I mean sure, I will need to do some normal housekeeping and such, but mostly the week has few obligations, the kids will have plans... So I want to make it count.

Writing sprints daily = 3
(If I can do 4000 a day, I would finish this month. Whether I can or not, is another matter, mostly because while the END isn't super hard writing for the most part, that 70-90th percent part is the hardest for me. Even 3000 a day though, would be a pretty solid first draft. That I can do... if I do it, I mean...)

One-Time Projects

Clean up Blog links for past guests/visits
Add page with helpful links and referrals
Add page with some writing samples and/or links
Marketing plan for Azalea Assault
Hammer out pitch for Legacy (for ABNA contest)

Blogs this Week

Wind-up of this week's needs: Today
Assessment of LAST year: Tuesday
Wednesday: Fitness Goals in the New Year
Thursday: Social Networking/promotion goals in the new year.
Friday: Special Guest
New Years Eve: Writing Goals in the New Year

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twelve Goals for Next Year

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Book World gave to me...

Twelve goals for next year...
Eleven days for writing...
Ten Lame excuses...
Nine procrastinations...
Eight Bloggy Squeeings...
Seven Activisms
Six Plots-a-Brewing
Four Steampunk Stories
Three Co-zies
Two Fabul-Agents
And the notice of a best selling book!

But the goals shall wait... I will review then by domain, because YOU know what goals are? PLANS *Buwahahahahahahahaha!*

For now, I'll leave you with this little Christmas story. I wrote it for my Secret Santa buddy over at the Daily Dodo, but ALSO for the Burrows Advent Calendar. If you want to see more drabbles, head on over there. There has been a new one every day this month, and EACH of us wrote one for Christmas (this is mine)

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Eleven Days For Writing

On the eleventh day of Christmas the Book World gave to me...

Eleven days for writing...
Ten Lame excuses...
Nine procrastinations...
Eight Bloggy Squeeings...
Seven Activisms
Six Plots-a-Brewing
Four Steampunk Stories
Three Co-zies
Two Fabul-Agents
And the notice of a best selling book!

Man, oh, man... See, the University I work for, in lieu of several 3-day weekends (I don't get the Mondays for MLKH or President's day for instance) gives us 4 seasonal days to be taken in December or January, but they SUGGEST (and I am all for) using them between Christmas and New Year—most of the U shuts down, so unlike OTHER vacations, I don't have to play catch-up after. Nobody was there creating work in my absence. I took today as an extra vacation day for good measure--that one was mostly about liking to anticipate Christmas... not wanting Christmas Eve to be too swamped. Tomorrow is holiday, today I do laundry and clean the bathroom... and make cookies... more cookies. Oh, and fudge...

My boss, the hardest working person I know, will work next week—she is an MD and the hospital still has to be covered. But I really hope she takes her family time, too. So the stuff related to what I do, will hopefully get a break.

My PLAN *buwahahahahahaha * is to do 3000 words a day up to Christmas (2 sprints a day ought to cover it) and then 3 sprints a day after until I am done with this draft. (if you are a virgin to the idea of sprints, I wrote a post about them here)  I am SO EXCITED!

Once that is over, I will start my Legacy rewrite for ABNA as... it's COMING, but more on that next week as I try to entice the lot of you into participating...

So happy Christmas Eve Eve to all of you!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ten Lame Excuses

On the tenth day of Christmas, the Book World gave to me...

Ten Lame excuses...
Nine procrastinations...
Eight Bloggy Squeeings...
Seven Activisms
Six Plots-a-Brewing
Four Steampunk Stories
Three Co-zies
Two Fabul-Agents
And the notice of a best selling book!

ignore the gloppy red one...
1)I'm wrapping presents!
2)There are cookies to make!
3)I have shopping to do!
4)It's a Wonderful Life is on!
5)I overdid the eggnog!
6)I ate too much!
7)I can't move. There's a cat on my lap.
8)I'm tangled in tinsel!
9)My fingers are taped together.
10)But it's Christmas!

Those mulit-purpose excuses can be used to get out of housework, gatherings you'd rather avoid, tasks you don't want to do... possibly even a blog you didn't quite get to... but PLEASE do not use them to get out of writing... In fact use them so you can write instead...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nine Procrastinations...

On the ninth day of Christmas the Book World... erm... or maybe it was the Internet... gave to me...

Nine procrastinations...
Eight Bloggy Squeeings...
Seven Activisms
Six Plots-a-Brewing
Four Steampunk Stories
Three Co-zies
Two Fabul-Agents
And the notice of a best selling book!

I have been trying very hard to keep my nose to the grindstone, but sometimes there are just some amusements too good to pass up.

1)  Go to Google Maps. Choose directions. A=The Shire. B=Mordor. Select walking directions. (thanks to Matthew McNish for this)

2)  Go to Google and type in 'let it snow' then watch. (be sure to watch for a minute or so, then run your cursor over what happens).

3)  Go to Google maps and get directions between ANY two places where crossing an ocean is required. (Tokyo to San Francisco is good).

Man, I love those Google boys and girls....

4)  Peruse Twitter hashtags and follow a conversation upside down.

5)  Open your email and commit to responding.

6)  Look in your cupboards and realize you need to shop BADLY and begin a shopping list.

7)  FACEBOOK. (my personal bane)
8)  Get started on cleaning chores.

9)  When somebody says, “Mom!” respond.

(And I didn't even GET to Procrastibaking, Procrastiknitting or Procrastinakeding) Want to break some of these and get more writing done? I am offering up my new favorite solution over at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash today.  It really works, so if you ACTUALLY want to get down to some writing, come on over. I'll put you in line.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Eight Bloggy Squeeings...

On the eighth day of Christmas the Book World gave to me...

Eight Bloggy Squeeings...
Seven Activisms
Six Plots-a-Brewing
Four Steampunk Stories
Three Co-zies
Two Fabul-Agents
And the notice of a best selling book!

See... yesterday my counter hit a QUARTER MILLION hits... and I thought it was time for a little midweek party to celebrate... In fact I've got several related notes...

1)  To me a quarter million sounds pretend... like it's not a real number. Oh, sure. I realize at one point my shoebox of a house was almost valued at that (note in dollars though, that is more than four years' salary so it STILL seems pretend)... and of course that pesky detail it isn't even worth that much... see what I mean? Play money. So in terms of HITS... but still... that's a really big number!

2)  They have defined this as 110,000 UNIQUE views... now I get that that doesn't necessarily translate to PEOPLE—it is computer related, I think... so the fact I log on at work and at home means I am two (not to mention the dozen other places I've logged onto over time. Now I've tested, and I think ALL University computers count as the same, still, I am thrilled...

3)  Also related... my Flag counter claims people from 187 countries—do you know how happy this makes me? That is more than half the world! (in fact if only real countries were counted, I think it is more than 80%, but some of the flags are territories or something...) I wish I knew how many the program counted total.
4)  The countries I've had the most visitors are the US, UK, Canada, and Australia (of course—all English speaking) but I've also had over a thousand visitors from India, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, France and Brazil.

5)  My most recent new countries are: Madagascar, Andorra, Angola and Timor-Leste (all in December).

6)  It appears this number includes every country in the Americas, most of Europe, most of Africa and a lot (though I wouldn't guess most) in Asia.

7)  While I've been hovering in the low 600s in followers for more than a month, I feel pretty pleased with that number. Oh, I know there are friends hitting the thousands, but I love my followers! (and there are also the Facebook followers—246, though I know there is overlap there)

8)  And of course I am completely proud that my number one search term REMAINS Cabana Boy. *sniff*

Any of the rest of you geek out on your stats? What is your favorite measure (mine is the flags, I think)

So have some champagne and a swim in the pudding pool! I LOVE LOVE LOVE you guys!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Seven Act-i-visms

Note: The 8th day of Christmas has been delayed. it will arrive, but some 9 hours late or so...

On the seventh day of Christmas the Book World gave to me...

Seven Activisms
Six Plots-a-Brewing
Four Steampunk Stories
Three Co-zies
Two Fabul-Agents
And the notice of a best selling book!

Okay, so it might be a little bit of a stretch on thinking this is about books, but it IS about freedoms, specifically from censorship...

You see, quietly under the radar this fall, first the senate then the house passed a VERY UGLY bill—bi-partisan support. In which American citizens, on American soil, can be indefinitely be detained (the new piece of this is that the entire US has basically been added as a 'war zone'). The cause is 'suspicion of terrorism' but the definition is vague and even includes such things a 'stockpiling food' (defined as having more than a weeks' worth stored at home)--so any of you who have disaster supplies? Yeah... good luck with that.

A separate bill that seems to somehow be piggy backed and I find even scarier in some ways is this internet censorship thing—where the government or corporations can remove content you post. Now THIS media blackout is related to increasing the POWER of existing media. If the internet is censored, then the traditional media wins back some ground—we no longer have 'somewhere else to turn'.

Now WHY has this all passed so quietly? I will tell you. Our media has been bought at paid for by large corporations. These large corporations have provided HUGE sponsorship related to this bill.

The LAST CHANCE to stop this nonsense from passing is to convince President Obama to veto this. So I am throwing out seven things YOU can do... the FIRST one is REALLY REALLY important.

1)  Call (202-456-1111) or email President Obama (online form) and ask him to PLEASE veto this atrocity!

2)  TELL people. It is shocking how many people this has caught by surprise. People who only watch network news DON'T KNOW. Strangely, other than my social network, Jon Stewart seems to be the only one talking about it (the jester has always been the truth teller, eh?) But if you have friends and family who are NOT active in social networks, they may not know.

3)  Look up your own legislators. Which way did they vote? Are you happy with them? There is a certain Carl Levin in Michigan who won't be getting my vote again. But I really should tell him...

4)  Get involved locally. I believe the only way this police state doesn't become a done deal is if more real people ENGAGE. We need to elect people who are NOT corrupted by corporate politics or cronyism.

5)  In fact... I'd like to see a PLEDGE. I would like everyone running int 2012 to sign a pledge to put people before corporations in all cases, and not to take money from Special Interests with corporate funding—a SIG of volunteers is one thing, but a SIG or PAC with corporate origins has NO BUSINESS influencing government. This PLEDGE should include a commitment to lobby reform (elimination, even) and a PLEDGE for campaign finance reform. Commit to only voting for people willing to play by the people's rules.

6)  Commit to Civil disobedience. In the case of the internet censoring, commit to speaking your mind loud and often. Don't be afraid. If too many of us do, they can't silence all of us... erm... I suppose they COULD, if they shut down the internet, but if they do THAT, there is no more hiding what game it is they're playing.

7)  Please don't go back to sleep. This thing is big and scary and it seems to be coming from several directions. Look at what you care about and fight for it.

Sorry to be so heavy, but this is important.

Note:  Saw this morning that the house had dropped the internet thing without a vote this session, but Harry Reid intends to make it first thing in the new year--definitely time to tell your senators what you think of it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Six Plots-a-Brewing

On the Sixth Day of Christmas the Book World Gave to Me...

Six Plots-a-Brewing
Four Steampunk Stories
Three Co-zies
Two Fabul-Agents
And the notice of a best selling book!

So I used to get book ideas, like... well the first one was the only idea for about seven years... and then there wasn't really another one... there was, but it wasn't flowing... then there was another, and it didn't flow either, and FINALLY there was one related to the first non-flowy one that set off this... it's not a landslide, but I get ideas with some regularity now... maybe half dozen ideas a year that might merit a whole book if I ever got to them. It's not enough to pull a James Patterson with them, but it's pretty good.

I notice, strangely... that four of these six are Armageddon-related... I think I am fairly worried about this. Now... I'm not worried a God-imposed Armageddon is upon us... I don't frankly believe in that, in a literal sense. My belief about the Bible is it has always been allegory—to be taken seriously, not literally. I hope that doesn't offend anyone, but I suspect anyone offended by that was already scared off by my other antics. I can agree to disagree, and be respectful, but I'm not really one to not say what I think. All things are written in culturally bound ways, and the Bible has been translated and edited by people with agendas, even if at one point it WAS meant literally (though I see it more like the tall tales from the oral tradition—there are exaggerations to prove points, etc.) But that aside, I DO believe in self-important bastards who interpret stuff in dangerous ways and will work to bring it about... and THAT is behind much of these four:

The Adult Armageddon: I've told yibus a little about this before... it involves an evil Televangelist, a reporter and a bad batch of flu virus...

The YA Armageddon: This is more a survival story.

Undoing: This is one of those fuzzy, is it YA is it adult, but about a young man from a powerful family whose disillusioned grandfather teaches him what he needs to know to undo the power structure from within... inspired by, of all things, an episode of Veronica Mars.

??? The final Armageddon one is from the perspective of a friend of a political figure who knows by revealing some secrets that he is going to be assassinated, but he manages to get information to a collection of people who must find each other and work together to stop what is happening.

In all four of those, there is a great deal of evil in the powers that be. It is also of note that none of these is Sci-Fi or fantasy... and they aren't dystopian, though they are the events that would lead to the dystopia... The funny thing is two of these ideas have been on my plate for a couple years, well before things were so clearly as bad as they are.

The other two ideas are not so related... (and I know myself well enough to know the Armageddon ones may collapse and combine)... but the final two are:

The Pleiades: I've mentioned this one before, too... a group of geeky middle school kids 'pretending' superhero qualities in order to survive their real life troubles.

And finally a twisted fairy tale about a genie who has been imprisoned for four centuries who is finally released by an arrogant, silver-spooned ninny who doesn't know how to word a wish.

So there...

Now if I can just get some of these books written before any of them come true...

Any of you have thoughts on Armageddon? Any ideas that keep manifesting themselves in new forms?

Saturday, December 17, 2011


On the fifth day of Christmas the Book World gave to me...

Four Steampunk Stories
Three Co-zies
Two Fabul-Agents
And the notice of a best selling book!

You heard me... this is about my subbing process. I think last I reported, I'd gotten four back, so this isn't a tsunami of news... but the number still out there is dwindling...

This fifth rejection was fairly nice... liked the premise and the voice, but just thought it wasn't the pageturner she was looking for. I need to speed things up...

Speed it up, huh? This is something I struggle to control. When I write, some is too fast, some too slow. Slowing it down, though, is a lot easier than speeding it up. My THINKING, (and PLEASE, give me a reality check if this is delusion) is that it ISN'T necessarily that I need to cut fluff, but that I need to make people CARE MORE so they are pageturning to find out... I think I could add more specifics of Helen's story... give some insight into why she is frantic in the here and now to make sure history doesn't repeat itself.)

I would LOVE to hear how you speed things up...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Four Steampunk Stories (with Stacy Gail)

On the fourth Day of Christmas the Book World gave to me....

Four Steampunk Stories
Three Co-zies
Two Fabul-Agents
And the notice of a best selling book!

I have a guest today, and if you've been around here any length of time, you know her. Stacy is one of my very favorite people and long time writer friend. We may have met online, but we ended up real life friends several years ago—soul sisters of sorts, intent on causing the world a little more mischief and laughter because... you know... people don't just play enough.

Stacy has had a STELLAR year as a debut author. She's been writing a long time, but was timid on sending things out until she discovered a TRICK... There are publishers who look for something specific now and again and post calls for submission. She has responded to several of these BRILLIANTLY, and because she is willing to stretch and grow, she has also learned to write in some different genres.

This fall (since August) she has had three novellas published, all romance, but the first was Sci-Fi, the second traditional and this one (I've read them all and love them all, but THIS is my favorite) Steampunk.

This one is part of an anthology with three other stories and I will let Stacy tell you a little more about it all!  Welcome Stacy!!!

First off, I would like to thank Hart Johnson for allowing me to invade her space so I can gab about my latest project, a Christmas steampunk romance called CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET, published by Harlequin’s digital-first imprint, Carina Press.  Just so you know, I think Hart might have a vested interest in this project, since she did a wonderful job in beta-reading it.  Thank for everything you do, Your Tartness! *tacklehugs*

How CRIME WAVE was Born:
Well, first you take a daddy, then you take a mommy… (Do you all remember that talk?  I’m still traumatized. *shudder*)

As to how this particular project finally got itself written, the answer is pretty straightforward.  Last March the executive editor of Carina Press, Angela James, sent out an innocuous Tweet: Open call for submissions for Christmas Steampunk antho—deadline May 15th.

At this point, I had no idea who Angela was, or that Carina Press was Harlequin, a publishing house I had long given up on.  All I cared about were those two luscious little words—OPEN CALL.

Did you know I’m somewhat notorious for being an open-call whore?  Yeah.  I’m not too proud to admit it.
As luck would have it, I’d been having trouble stifling a random character for quite some time.  This character had no home or any real story behind her; all I knew was that she was a thief.  No, wait.  Not just a thief.  She was a brilliant, gadget-making, ice-water-in-the-veins kind of thief who made the Mission: Impossible crew look like ham-handed amateurs.  But she didn’t have a frame.  The chick was totally out of context, so no matter how much of a pain she was trying to get my attention, I kept kicking her to the curb where she belonged.

Then I read the call for steampunk submissions, and in a heartbeat Cornelia Peabody finally had a home.  She was a loner, on the prowl for the next big score.  But I couldn’t make her a total meanie, so she targeted faceless institutions and their goodies, rather than individuals who had prized possessions they couldn’t live without.  But ultimately her life of crime had to bite her in the bum, and that was where the vengeful love interest, Roderick, suddenly appeared.  He’s on a mission to make Cornelia steal back what she took from him, and he’s got a few tricks up his own sleeve to make sure she does it.

The Antho Sisters

We don’t sing, or dance, or perform for the troops (well, at least I don’t… though I want to, now that I’m talking about it).  The one thing we do is promote.  I’m squeaky-new to the publishing business, but JK Coi, PG Forte and Jenny Schwartz have been at this business for years.  Almost from the time we found out the name of our Christmas steampunk anthology—A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS—Jenny was emailing everyone on how we needed to coordinate.  By the end of that first week, PG had set up a private author’s loop on Yahoo, and promos/interviews were lined up with several online review sites, because JK seems to know everyone.

I did my part by being the comic relief. :P

Carina Press knows how to do the splashy promos as well.  They introduced A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS this past summer at New York ComicCon, and its various holiday anthology authors (all 12 of them) were highlighted at Books On Board with our very own Carina Press/Harlequin web page.  (FYI… if you take a quick peek at the FAQs, you’ll see a couple of familiar names under my “Recommended Read” section—I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to mention Hart Johnson/Alyse Carlson and Riley Adams/Elizabeth Spann Craig, because they are all sorts of AWESOME).  It’s been great, this whirlwind of activity, and through every step I’ve had JK, PG and Jenny helping me along.

But Enough About Me…
Let talk about CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET!

Roderick Coddington is on a mission to make Cornelia Peabody pay. After identifying her as the thief who stole a priceless Faberge egg from his dying sister, he finds her and shackles a deadly timepiece to her arm. If she doesn’t return the egg by Christmas morning, she will die.

Normally seven days is more than enough time for Cornelia to carry out the perfect crime, but Roderick’s intrusion into her life is beyond distracting. He challenges her mind, and ignites her body with desire she’s never felt before. But worst of all, he threatens the independence she values above all else…

As Roderick spends time with Cornelia, he realizes there’s a lonely soul hidden beneath her beautiful but criminal veneer. Falling for a thief wasn’t part of Roderick’s plan, but plans can change and he has no intention of letting another priceless treasure get away from him.

(Now, don’t you want to read that?  Of course you do! :D)

Okay, Let’s Talk About Me Some More…

Come to find out, reviews are scary.  Whenever I get a Google Alert that CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET has popped up somewhere on the web, I can’t look.  Then I can’t not look (insanity, thy name is WRITER).  Thankfully though, the reviews have been pretty darned spiffy.  And I can prove it!

Library Journal—“ Gail’s Crime Wave stands out”
Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer—“ My favorite tale is Stacy Gail’s Crime Wave in a Corset. I adore the spunky, intelligent wit of Cornelia. The chemistry between her and Roderick is delightful. The plot was exciting and I would love to read a full length version of this story.”

Kiki Howell for SUSPENSE MAGAZINE—“With any anthology—and this one was a great one on the whole because I liked each story for different reasons—you still have one tale that just sweeps you away more than the others. For me, it was the first story, Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail.”

NYT Best-selling author, Shannon Stacey—“ I got to read an advance copy of this story and it’s one of my favorite reads of 2011. Top three, I’d say off-hand, without looking at everything I read this year… Once I got about ¾ through, my house could have been on fire and the firefighters would have had to carry me out still reading because I never looked up from the Kindle.”  Goodreads review ( way happy about this one.  I happy-danced until I threw my back out, but it was soooooo worth it.)

So, in Closing…
Um… well, that’s pretty much it.  CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET is now out in all its steampunk glory, both as an ebook and as an audiobook at  And who knows?  If everything goes right (and I can arm-twist Hart Johnson into beta-reading once again), this is just my first step into a Victorian-era world with a gritty, vaguely sci-fi twist.  A perfect world for the likes of the ingenious Cornelia Peabody, as well as a few other characters who have nudged their way to the fore.  Like I mentioned earlier, some characters are pushy like that. ;)

P.S. Am I the only one who has pushy people in her head?  Or are you like that as well?

Buy Links for CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET (because I have to sell this, yo):
Carina Press
Barnes and Noble

Look at those reviews! I'm not even remotely surprised. Have you noticed that Crime Wave and Clock Work have the same letters? (yeah, okay, so that's arbitrary...)  Anyway, I wish you and your sisters the best of luck with this and definitely recommend this to all of you!!!