Tuesday, January 31, 2012
I've been taken advantage of in the worst way. While I've been busy finishing a manuscript, marketing, helping plan a release party, writing guest posts, setting up school visits, creating a poster for upcoming events, setting up other writer events, exercising, editing, and all day soccer (three effin' games) on Sunday, my children have boycotted all housework.
The other day when I woke up, the garbage was overflowing (from a day of a house full of teenagers), and instead of taking it out, they decided it would be a good idea to pile it up on the counter and mixing it in with the recyclables. There is crap all over the house from them and their friends, candy wrappers, socks, shoes, various soccer items, other dirty clothes, empty juice pouches and water bottles, I could go on and on.
I woke up today to a sink full of dirty dishes. I've asked Thing One for a week to fold the laundry for a week. I asked her did she do it when she got home from the basketball game last night and she said no.
So, the riot act was read (maybe yelled a little at various spots). I reminded them of all the things I do for them (driving them everywhere, supplying them with food, a bed, clothing, allowing them to go to friends, allowing friends over all the time). Then I asked them what they've done for me this week. Dead silence. I said, "Exactly." They were pissed, but what else can I do? They tell me not to tell them what to clean, they'll do it on their own, but they don't. I also pointed out that if they were getting good grades, I may not be so hard on them, but they're barely pulling average grades.
I don't like having to be hardcore with them, but at times I get to my wit's end, and they're leaving for their dad's today, and they will clean before they go. And next week when they're back with me, it's going to be like living on a military base.
Friday, January 27, 2012
This hits home for me in many ways having witnessed cancer first hand myself through my mother-in-law, and I'm rooting for him and I want him to persevere.
Rather than relaying all the details, I'm going to send you to Max's blog, here.
They're asking for donations to help pay for his medical bills, which you can do on Max's blog. If you can't donate, if you could just send good vibes or prayers, I'm sure they would appreciate that as well.
Life is a gift. Don't forget that, ever.
Friday, January 20, 2012
I'm cool and collected for this one. This one is a private party for close friends and family. We'll be eating, drinking, I'm going to play a couple videos. I did a montage of all my Chronicles that shows my journey from beginning to end.
And cookies. Lots of cookies.
This is where I'm doing my raffle to benefit Mary Bridge Children's hospital. I've got donations form me, of course, from my dad's law firm, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, T-Town Apparel, and my family's wine shop, Vino Aquino. I'm going to let my guests drink a little bit first so they spend lots of money. Don't tell them I said that.
I'll do a reading from the book, then sell and sign books. It's going to be fun and relaxed, and a party I'm not going to freak out about.
I'm going to wear a shiny silver shirt. :)
Mostly, I'm excited for Gae and Annmarie to get here. They should be on their plane as we speak, getting ready for take-off.
I almost forgot the Friday Scribbles!!!
I just realized I have no idea where my iPod is, so I'll just have to go with my iTunes for my random song.
Oooh, the random song is very apropos because I wanted to use some of the lyrics on my novel. Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event (I really wish Blogger would still let us use youtube videos on here without having to do code)
Book of the Week: I am reading a friends YA manuscript tentatively titled The Mark, and I'm liking it a lot. Hopefully this will be the one to get her published.
Netflix of the Week: Gray's Anatomy Season 5. OMG!!!
Quote of the Week: "If it were not for guests all houses would be graves." ~Kahlil Gibran
Thursday, January 19, 2012
AC Gaughen (author of Scarlet, Walker Books for Young Readers, February 14, 2012) has posted her debut check list on the Class of 2k12 blog today, which, inspired me to write my own list. Now that my release date has come and gone, I know better what to do the next time around *fingers crossed there's a next time*
Some of this info I learned from Saundra Mitchell, and believe me, she has way more on her website, so you should check it out. Some I've learned through the Classes of 2k11 and 2k12. And the other stuff is my own experience.
And I'll say this, it will cost some money, but it doesn't have to cost a lot, and it's all a write off.
Well before the release:
- Find your local writing associations and join.
- Start planning early. Implement your marketing plan as early as possible. I'm not saying start your marketing plan, just start starting your marketing plan.
- Choose what kind of swag you want and order it. You need to check with your publicist regarding what needs to be put on your swag, publisher name, website, copyright for art work used. Also, be creative. I was kind of a total swag whore, but people love to get free stuff. That's all there is to it. And if that free stuff has your book title, your website, all the better.
- If you're sending out postcards, get them ordered early, write them out, and have them ready to send out. The closer your release date gets, the more you'll have to do. You'll feel a lot better if your mailings are ready to go. I sent mine to my local libraries, high school librarians and English teachers, and indie book stores. Even if you only get a couple hits, I think it's worth it.
- Donate. Believe me, you will be asked to donate for giveaways, auctions, etc, etc. Get your name the name of your book out to the world any way you can.
- Do not skimp on social media. At the least, Twitter, Facebook, blog, and website. I suggest you stay off of Goodreads. Sometimes I wish I'd never heard of Goodreads. While you will more than likely get many rave reviews, you will also get bad ones. And some of them will make you cry. I know it will be hard, but stay away. At the very least, just don't read the bad ones. You've probably heard that publicists from publishing houses don't offer much help to a debut author. I think if you're proactive before you get to that point, your publicist may be more inclined to offer help. Also, find every directory/website, etc and add your name.
Closer to the date:
- Send out your mailings.
- Again, find a way to get your name and book out across the country. I did this by:
- Joining the Apocalypsies and the Class of 2k12.
- Setting up a blog tour with YA review bloggers.
- Doing guest posts and interviews for bloggers.
- Hosting giveaways for swag and/or signed arc.
- Planning a marketing campaign that will reach from one coast to another. My publicist and I came up with my Pass It On campaign, and it's been really cool so far.
- Stay organized. Create different folders in your email and on your computer (excel) to keep track of guest posts, giveaways, and keep a calendar of them and author events also. I'm not so good at this and sometimes I forget who I owe what to, re: swag, arcs, posts.
- Order your own books so you have extra. These will be good for giveaways, and overstock if you're at a signing and they run out of books.
- Practice your signature. I'm not kidding. Make it different from your legal signature. There are some kooks out there.
- Plan your party. There are pros and cons as far as the different kinds of places that will host your party.
- Library. They usually have larger event spaces, but you may be limited with food and drink. Also, if you're going to sell books, you need to get a book seller there. This you will need to plan for at least a couple months in advance. And they will want to know how many people you'll be expecting. They may not do off site sales if it's not worth their while.
- Indie book store. The space might be smaller, but food and drink may be flexible, and you can sell your books right there on site.
- Private site. More flexible with food and beverage. Larger space. May be hard to get a book seller there. Will be way more expensive.
There are also some website that offer other ideas for book release parties. Google is your friend.
- Communication is key. Make sure you and your host are on the same page about everything, book sellers, ordering books, refreshments, decor, and set up.
- Plan for disaster. We got snow right before mine, so we adjusted the party a little to accommodate. Also, a box of books didn't come in. Luckily I had brought two boxes I had purchased, so we have a few more, but still not enough. Just make sure you're ready for anything.
- In case of disaster let go. Things happen. Don't let it stress you out to much. It is what it is. Deal with the things you can control, adapt to the things you can't.
- If you're using multi-media, make sure your host knows this, you have all the right equipment and it's working properly. If you're using a CD or DVD, test it at home to make sure it works.
- If you're going to read, practice in front of a mirror or webcam.
- If you're speaking, have a podium or take a seat so you're not standing there awkwardly shifting from side to side.
- Project your voice. If you're having someone else read for you, tell them to project their voice.
- Depend on family and friends for help. They will offer, they will help, use them.
- Expect people to come early.
- Bring extra books in case you run out.
- Give stuff away. People like prizes.
- Have a guest book, have them write email addresses if they want to keep up with news and events.
- Give to charity. It will make you feel good. Many writers choose a charity and host a raffle. Carrie Harris hosted a raffle for a hospital library. Robin Bridges did a blood drive. I'm doing a raffle to benefit Mary Bridge Children's hospital at my private party this weekend.
- Have fun. Very important.
Here are some of the sites I used for my swag:
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Snow. Yes we got snow, it was clearing, but then the forecast was for a huge snow storm, the biggest we'd had in a long time. It was supposed to hit Tuesday night, just in time for my release party. Luckily, it held off.
Two days before the party the guy from the library told me he'd talked to the bookseller and that he was out of town. We had apparently had a miscommunication about who was setting this up. I thought it was him, he thought it was me. Oops. He was able to get the sellers cashbox and credit card supplies, but we didn't have anyone to sell the books. My mom, cousin, and a friend stepped up.
Because of the snow, half the books didn't show up. I had to bring two boxes of my own books to sell at the party. We still ran out and a few people were left disappointed (which I'll hopefully be able to make up for soon)
Also because of the impending storm, we moved the book talk and signing up about an hour as we knew people would leave early to avoid icy roads. Unfortunately, this angered a few people, but I would have rather had people leave earlier then get into accidents on their way home.
That said, the party was awesome. We had a great turnout despite the weather. It was amazing to see my family and friends, and TOTAL STRANGERS there to buy my books and get them signed.
We had actors set to do a reading from my book. The boy actor fell through because of the weather, but the library guy, Dave, stepped in and did the part. After all he was a teacher at School of the Arts and an actor himself. I think they did a great job.
I think most everyone had a good time. I know I did! And here's what I woke up to this morning.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
...book birthday, that is.
and it's snowing...
and I have no book seller for my party...
and I may have freaked out a little bit...
but I'm good. It's all good.
If I only get 5 people at my party...
if I don't sell any books...
I'm okay with that.
Today is my book birthday, and NOTHING can ruin it.
Unless I die. That would really suck.
Enjoy your day. I'm going to party!
Monday, January 16, 2012
I couldn't fall asleep last night as I ran through my head the people that need to be thanked and what I'm going to say at the release party tomorrow.
What am I going to wear?
It snowed, will I be able to get out to get any last minute things done? I have books to pick up. And cookies.
Will people not show up because of the snow? If not, I guess I have 150 cookies to eat myself.
And then there's another party and out of town guests. And I have to clean my house. I have to get my kids to clean their rooms, I have to clean out my car (which I should really make the kids do since most that garbage and crap is theirs).
No, I'm not pretty sure I'm freaking out, I KNOW I'm freaking out. But, no matter what happens - I've nothing to wear, no one shows up, my house doesn't get spotless, it is what it is. Some things are just out of our control. I'm fallible, maybe I'll forget someone. Maybe I'll drop the cookies on my way into the library. Maybe I'll forget my camera, or my talk in 3 x 5 cards.
Maybe I'll forget to breathe. Thank god our breath doesn't forget us and forces it's way out when we've held it too long.
*takes deep breath*
Friday, January 13, 2012
I'm spent. I've been working at promoting this book, I'm revising another, and yet I've started another.
I can't wake up in the morning.
I'm excited beyond belief, but there is part of me that longs for the hype to be over.
Because I'm tired. Did I mention that?
Wanted to share a couple articles that came out in my local weekly and daily papers.
Tacoma News Tribune
I know I've already done this, but I want to thank you all for your support. This was a really long, long journey, and I don't know if you know how much your friendship and support means to me.
This experience is not one to be gone through alone. It's exciting yes, but it's frustrating, depressing, and annoying at times. You need people celebrating with you, commiserating with you, lifting you up when you fall down. That's you. Whether you're a fellow writer, a reader, blogger, family member or friend, you mean so much to me.
Thank you I would not have made it through without you. (I'm seriously getting choked up right now. Damn you!)
Random Pandora song: Somewhere Only We Know by Keane (why can't I put youtube videos on here anymore?) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oextk-If8HQ&ob=av2e
Book of the Week: You would not believe how many books are coming out this month. I'm going to go with all my fellow Apocalypsie debuts for this month:
January 1, 2012
THE BOY PROEJCT (NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS OF KARA McALLISTER) by Kami Kinard (Scholastic)
LIVING VIOLET: THE CAMBION CHRONICLES by Jaime Reed (Dafina)
LOVE AND LEFTOVERS, by Sarah Tregay (Katherine Tegan Books/HarperCollins)
January 3, 2012
CINDER by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel & Friends)
THE CABINET OF EARTHS by Anne Nesbet (HarperCollins)
UNDER THE NEVER SKY by V. Rossi (HarperCollins)
CRACKED by K.M. Walton (Simon Pulse)
January 5, 2012
LITTLE DOG LOST by Mônica Carnesi (Nancy Paulsen Books)
January 10, 2012
THE GATHERING STORM by Robin Bridges (Delacorte)
DITCHED by Robin Mellom (Disney-Hyperion)
MAY B by Caroline Rose (Schwartz and Wade)
DESTINY'S FIRE by Trisha Wolfe (Omnific)
January 17, 2012
FRACTURE by Megan Miranda (Walker/Bloomsbury)
THE BOOK OF WONDERS by Jasmine Richards (HarperCollins)
January 24, 2012
EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton (Balzer + Bray)
January 31, 2012
INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows (Katherine Tegen Books)
ARTICLE 5 by Kristen Simmons (Tor Teen)
Movie of the week: Bridesmaids. It makes me laugh so hard, especially the bridal shop and airplane scenes. "You’re more beautiful than Cinderella, you smell like pine needles and your face is like sunshine."
Quote of the week: "I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives." ~Tracy Chapman
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
But mostly I'm eating fruits and veggies, soups, greek yogurt and oatmeal. A nice rounded diet. I've not been eating too much meat, but I haven't cut it completely.
I've been exercising once to twice a day every day, which has included Jillian Michaels torture DVD's, the elliptical (which I just fixed AGAIN after one of Thing One's other friends, her cousin, my niece once again broke it. I mean, what are these kids doing, jumping on it?), and pilates ( I <3 pilates, you want fast body toning results, do it).
Anyhoo, I lost 4 pounds this week. I know that's not typical and it will taper off in the coming weeks. I've been working hard though and I'm psyched. I had no idea. I haven't been weighing myself regularly through this (I'm usually obsessive about getting on the scale every day).
That puts me ahead in the bigger loser contest and closer to my goals. And I'm back in the habit of exercising, which is so easy to get out of and so hard to get back into.
So, yay me!
Do you have any weight loss or health and nutrition goals for the year? What are they and what are you doing to reach them?
Oh, and don't forget the contest to win a marked up ARC of Never Eighteen. Details are on my Facebook author page.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
OMG! It's one week until my book release. Am I excited? Of course. I'm I terrifed? Definitely. Am I freaking out? Undoubtedly.
In honor of my one week left, I've decided to do another giveaway. Yep. I'm going to give away a marked up ARC and swag. For those of you who don't know what a marked up ARC is. It's a review copy that has notes written by me in the margins, telling you all the secrets I didn't get to reveal in the book or background story about the people and places I wrote about.
Visit my Facebook Fan Page in the Notes section, answer one simple question, and leave your email address. It's that easy.
Winner will be chosen at random to be announced on my book birthday, January 17th, 2012!!
I also want to wish a happy book birthday to Robin Bridges (The Gathering Storm), Caroline Starr Rose (May B.) and Robin Mellom (Ditched). Check out their books!!!
Monday, January 9, 2012
Needless to say, I didn't fall back to sleep. So I got up, did pilates, vacuumed, showered, and now here I am blogging with still three hours before I have to leave for work. I suppose I can be even more productive this morning, but I'd rather be sleeping.
What do you do to help you sleep?
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Ian T. Healy and I bonded four years ago over superheroes. We had entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, both having submitted superhero stories. Ian’s latest novel, Just Cause, has recently been released by New Babel Books and he’s been gracious enough to stop by my blog to tell us a little bit about himself, his writing, and Just Cause. Below his interview you’ll find my review of his novel and links where you can find Ian and his book online.
1.How long have you been writing and what’s your background?
I've been writing as long as I can remember. When I was really young, maybe six or seven, I made a thumbprint comic book about a little group called the Happy Days Gang (with a bunny, a cat, a piglet, a dog, and a bug). Skipping ahead to junior high school, I went to a young writer's workshop at Denver University, and that led to me writing my first "novel." It was a hackneyed, clichéd space opera that has thankfully been lost to the ravages of time and pre-digital formats. My first "serious" effort at a novel came in 2003 when I wrote a Star Wars fanfic. That one, obviously, couldn't be published. The second books after that, written in 2004, was Just Cause, and that's the first one I sold to a publisher, in April of 2011.
2.Your series, Just Cause, it about what you call Parahumans, which in essence are people with super human powers. Is this a genre in which you prefer to write? Or do you branch out to other genres?
I love writing superheroes. They say you never forget your first love, and they have been my first writing love. At one point, I even wanted to go into the comic book industry as an artist. The only problem is that I can't draw them, but at least I can write them. When it comes to genre, I'm afraid I suffer from the wandering eye. I've written cyberpunk, urban fantasy, epic fantasy, westerns, post-apocalyptic, space opera, contemporary YA, and even nonfiction. My superheroes understand my fickleness, and they wait patiently for me to return to them. And I always do.
3.Do you find it more fun to write the heroes or the villains and why?
I'm a hero at heart. I'm Dudley Doright taking down Black Bart and rescuing the pretty cowgirl who he tied to the tracks. Some people enjoy the bad guys, and I don't deny that a good villain can be a lot of fun to write, but even more than that, I like to throw my heroes against insurmountable odds and problems far larger than they could hope to resolve, and challenge them to do it.
4.Who was your favorite superhero growing up and why?
Batman, because I wanted to be him. All I needed was a few billion dollars, a savvy butler, to be trained by the best and brightest in the world, and oh yeah, to have my parents brutally gunned down in an alleyway. Well, maybe being Batman wouldn't be quite as cool, reflecting on it now...
5.Where did you get your inspiration for your main character, Mustang Sally?
I've always been fascinated with super-speed characters, which is funny because I haven't read much in the way of The Flash until recently. Mustang Sally was always part of a speed dynasty in my mind, beginning with her grandmother (Colt) in World War II and followed by her mother (Pony Girl) in the '60s and '70s. Both of those characters make guest appearances in Just Cause and will be featured in subsequent books in the series. I'm pretty sure that I came up with Mustang Sally after watching The Commitments, where the song "Mustang Sally" is one of their best tunes.
6.At the beginning of the book, Sally works with a group called the Lucky Seven, which of those characters do you identify with most and why?
I spent a lot of time developing the character of The Spark, who is the leader of the Lucky Seven, to the point that I have a plan to write a novel about him and his protegé. He's one of the closest characters to Batman that I've developed, although if anything, he's a lot more like the Ted Kord version of Blue Beetle. I'm sorry, I'm comic-book-geeking out here now.
7.The novel is packed with action. What do you think is the most difficult part about writing an action scene?
I don't actually think writing action scenes is difficult. They come to me naturally in a lot of ways. In fact, I've been complimented on them enough and had people approach me to help them with theirs that I sat down and wrote out a "how-to" ebook for others to use as a resource. It's called Action! Writing Better Action Using Cinematic Techniques and is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all the ebook retailers. That being said, I think the hardest action scene to write is a large-scale battle, with lots of characters on both sides of the conflict.
8.I know you’ve self-published some titles before the Just Cause series was picked up. What are the main differences you see between self-publishing and traditional publishing?
Oh, the speed. Just Cause was picked up by New Babel Books in April of 2011 and released at the end of November of 2011. That's a ridiculously fast turnaround for a publishing company (although not so much for a small publisher like NBB). Even so, when I decide to self-publish a finished, edited, and revised work, it takes me maybe a day or two to prepare the manuscript and cover and upload it to the retailers. I think I self-published twelve or fourteen pieces during the seven months it took NBB to release Just Cause.
9. What are the two most important pieces of advice you can give to someone considering self-publishing?
One: you need an editor. Maybe it's a trusted beta reader or critique group, but you should never assume that your work is of sufficient quality to release untouched. If you'll forgive me being crass, your words are not diamonds falling out of your ass.
Two: the glowing numbers being bandied about by other authors, who are making millions of dollars with their 99-cent downloads, are the exception, not the rule. You are not going to get rich quick self-publishing. You are not going to get rich slowly either. You're not going to get rich. But if you produce quality work at a reasonably fast pace, you will slowly build up a base readership, and they will keep coming back and clamoring for more work, and with good word of mouth, that readership will grow.
10. Are you currently working on something else?
At the moment, I am working on finishing my 2011 NaNoWriMo book, a humorous space opera called Starf*cker. I have my 2010 NaNo book, a superhero urban fantasy called Rooftops, in revision. I'm coauthoring a steampunk novel with my dear friend Allison Dickson that we've titled The Oilman's Daughter. Besides that, I have a couple of ebook short story collections that will come out during the first quarter of this year. I have more or less planned out my next twelve to fifteen months' writing, which is my typical lead time. And with my free hand, I Facebook.
Some superheroes can fly, or lift great weights, or shoot lightning bolts.
Mustang Sally runs.
A third-generation superhero, Sally's life changes forever when she fights and loses to the notorious villain Destroyer, who killed her father just before she was born. She dedicates herself to tracking him down so she can even the score.
When all you can do is run, you'd better be fast, but can even the fastest girl in the world run quick enough to save her teammates' lives from Destroyer and his growing parahuman army?
Just Cause starts out with a bang, as the Lucky Seven, along with 18-year-old main character, Salena Thompson, better known as Mustang Sally, are summoned by the police commissioner to stop a giant robot from destroying the Science and Technology Expo.
The Lucky Seven are decimated in the fight and Sally discovers the man inside the robot is Destroyer, the villain who killed her dad before she was born. She sets out on a mission of revenge with the help of her new team, Just Cause, to destroy the man behind the machine. However he has tricks of his own up his sleeve including partnering with a Hitler like villain by the name of Kaiser.
Though he’s introduced many characters early on, Ian describes them in great detail, each standing out by their unique abilities and costumes, making it easy to keep track of who’s who.
Mustang Sally is especially well drawn. She’s a tiny blonde thing, who wears a red and yellow costume, and probably the fastest parahuman on the face of the planet. She comes from a long line of speedsters on her mom’s side and is destined to follow in their footsteps.
Though she’s confident in her abilities as a speedster, when it comes to love she’s apprehensive. She’d concentrated so hard on her training, she never took the time to date. Then she meets, Jason, a Brick, better known as Mastiff, a boy two years older than she—huge, muscly, and incredibly hot.
Ian writes their relationship well, both are timid and bashful at first, but we get to watch their relationship bloom into a full on love story. It’s very sweet with a side of spice.
He also doesn’t forget that although the two lovebirds are parahumans, they’re still real teenagers doing real teenage things like having crushes, playing in rock bands, and driving crappy cars.
I like the way Ian has written all the heroes, super yes, but still with human qualities, they have relationships, drink coffee, laugh, celebrate, grieve. They’re fallible, vulnerable. They get beat up, break bones, and sadly but expectedly, some die.
Healy is also a master at action scenes. It almost feels like you’re watching a movie instead of reading a book when the superheroes are battling the villains. There’s shooting and hand to hand combat, and bodies flying everywhere. What I’ve found so difficult to write, Ian makes seem effortless.
Another thing I liked about the book was that Ian mixed historical fact with fiction. The beginning of every chapter starts with a quote. Some are quotes from real historical figures, like Ghandi, others are quotes from made up superheroes appearing on Oprah. Ian writes about how the parahumans helped out in the wars, and how they partook in the party culture of the seventies.
All in all I thought this was a great book. Though it has the superhero element, it’s not for kids. There is some foul language and sex. I think older teens and adults who are fans of superheroes, graphic novels, and action and adventure will really enjoy Just Cause. This is just the first in a series, so be on the lookout for the next book. I know I will.
Here's where you can find Ian around the net:
Here's where to find Just Cause online: