Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Which cover photo do you like best?

I have a romance novella that I'll be putting up on Amazon soon. Possible title: Long Time (and at one point illegal) Crush I need a cover. So I've been looking at pictures of hot guys on Shutterstock (It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.) and now I want your opinion.
Kye, the hero, is a guy who's family owns a large ranch in Montana. When his father had an injury, Kye changed his plans from being an engineer to being a high school math teacher so he can help out on the ranch.
We see him in a cowboy hat, in his school teacher duds, and in a tuxedo as best man at the heroine's brother's wedding. You would think it would be easy to find pictures of a hot guy in a cowboy hat--and it is--except that none of the pictures seemed appropriate for one of my stories. According to Shutterstock, cowboys wear very little clothing. Apparently something in their job requires them to walk around shirtless, with glistening abbs. (I sooo should have been a cowgirl.)
Let me know which picture you think would make readers look twice. (Oh, and by the way, the guy is age 24 and then 27 in the story.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Creepy Christmas Gifts--the annual report

It's that special time of year when random companies send me their catalogs. I don't know why anyone thinks I might want to buy Meerkat statues, dancing pigs, or dress-able squirrel magnets, but apparently I fit the demographic, because the catalogs keep showing up. Of course, even the stores have their share of creepy Christmas presents.  Here's my top pick of things you probably won't want to receive this Christmas. (If you're afraid any of your relatives might send you these things, do yourself a favor and email them the blog link.)

First off, let's talk about Dora the Explorer--that charming little girl who wanders the countryside, constantly lost.  Last year I was creeped out to see the Dora Pillow Pet because it looks like some horrible species-cross-breeding experiment that went horribly wrong.  (When did people become pets?)

Do not ask what Dora is doing with those Winnie the Pooh Pillow pets. You don't want to know.

I had high hopes that Dora would be back to her normal winsome self this year. Alas, it was not to be. I walked by a store and saw this.

 If I were Hello Kitty, I'd be nervous. Apparently Dora ate her last sidekick. 

Dora's new "husky" size  made me wonder about the obesity problem here in the US. Why are we so overweight?  And then I saw these next Christmas ornaments.

Since when did  Christmas trees start doubling as snack bars? How food obsessed are we as a nation that we think strips of raw meet are a good decorating medium?

Okay, enough talk about obesity. In the last week, I have eaten far too many sugar cookies, gingerbread men, and brownies  to get up on a soapbox about junk food. (And okay, I did just buy a cupcake ornament--but it was cute.)

Speaking of Christmas decorations, here's a two-story tall blow up Santa. Nothing will thrill junior quite as much as a Santa the same size as King Kong.  I mean, that's not going to cause any nightmares. The reason Santa knows when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake is because he can look right into your bedroom window. And he does . . .

What do you get the person who has everything? How about a horse head mask? I mean, how many times have you been walking around your house wishing you could slip into something a little more equine?  I love how the horse looks startled--like he's just watched the decapitated horse head scene from the Godfather.

Sometimes I think certain gift ideas must have come about after drunken parties in the marketing department. Marketeers were clearly trying to outdo each other by finding the absolutely stupidest objects they could make people in third world sweatshops produce. This mounted squirrel head (only 24.95) is not only sold by Wireless, it's on the cover of their catalog. Yep, the flagship of gifts, the hot item this year--a fake, dead, half a squirrel. Personally, I'd expect a real, dead, half a squirrel for that much money.

Just kidding! Lest I get angry comments about my inhumanity toward fake or real squirrels, let me emphasize that I love animals as much as the next person--in fact, arguably more, since I have so many cats I have been accused on more than one occasion of hoarding them. (The strays come and refuse to leave. It's really not my fault.)  However, even I--animal lover that I am--found these next shirts creepy.

Remember the scene from Alien when an alien popped out of somebody's stomach? Yeah, that's pretty much the impression you'll give people if you wear this shirt.  And the cat shirt--is it just me or does the cat look like it's just as horrified by this fashion choice as everyone else?
Lastly, for a mere 109.95 you can buy a two and a half foot tall Green Thumb garden statue. 
All I can say about it is: Well, at least it's not the middle finger. That, I suppose, would really be more of a statement to your home owners association than an actual Christmas gift.

Sadly, there are many, many more tacky gifts where these came from. 

If you want a great gift--and one that's a lot less than 109.95, try one of my books. I promise it will give you more enjoyment than half a squirrel or a gigantic, severed garden thumb.

If you're into romantic comedies about women who work for hot, single movie stars:

If you'd like to see past years creepy gifts, you can check them out here:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Failed Family Mottos book give-away

Hey, I'm giving away a Failed Family Mottos book on my other blog. Hop on over to see samples and a have a chance to win:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Bad Boy Appeal part 1

I'm deep in revisions, so today my commentary on the Bad Boy phenomena is going to be this very funny music video, called Nice Guys.

The first lines are:

Nice guys finish last,
that's why I'll treat you like trash.
It's not what I really want to do,
but you only date bad guys,
so I'll give it my best try
to treat you the way you want me to.

It's funny because there's a grain of truth to it. I mean, there must be or we wouldn't love those fictional bad boys so much. (Warning for my sensitive readers. The song contains the h word.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Writers--put this conference on your calendar

I know a lot of my blog readers are also writers. If you're one of the lucky ones blessed with a writer's brain, you won't want to miss ANWA's Time Out For Writers conference. Feb 21-23 (And I'm not just saying that because I'm one of the teachers.) We've got some great agents, editors, and authors teaching classes.

Here's info or you can go to this link for even more details:

 Classes – 36 classes to choose from for all stages, genres, and platforms!  
• Workshops – query and pitch workshops on Thursday night
• Faculty - nationally recognized presenters, including NY Times best-selling authors, agents, editors and publishers teach the classes
• Pitch Sessions – Pitch your manuscript to national editors and publishers
• Contests – Enter the Beginning of Book (BOB) Contest with the first 500 words of your manuscript
• Protagonist Ball – Come dressed as your favorite protagonist to mingle, network and have fun with faculty and other attendees
• All-star Breakfast – the first 25 to register for the full conference, and hotel room, receive the opportunity to share a special breakfast with the faculty
• Bookstore – sell your books and/or purchase others’ at our on-site bookstore

Here's teachers and class description in alphabetical order:

Dr. James Blasingame: "The Key Components of a Young Adult Novel" 

Erzsi Deak: "Can You Hear Me Now? Dialogue That Speaks Volumes About Your Characters and Pushes Your Plot Forward" - Get ready to take the stage and make the dialogue (in your WIPs/in your writing) work for you. Based on our homework, we'll bring your story alive and see what's pushing your plot forward or making it stumble and listen to what your characters are saying; or aren't saying. This workshop has a cap of 30 participants

Dave Eaton: "Your Online Path to a Bestseller, Part 1: Step One is “Branding” - Become associated with your Genre. When someone says: “Fantasy Romance”, are they thinking of you?

"Part 2: How can I get more “eyes” on my book?" - Online marketing is essential for the new generation of bestselling authors. Take your Kindle Book and “light it on fire” with a 7-Step launch plan.

Lynn Gardner: "The How's, Where's and Why's of Research – And is it Really Necessary?" - This workshop will answer questions like:  Can't I just use my very vivid imagination…do I have to infuse reality in a work of fiction?  Can I create my own world?  Is there an advantage to using famous places as a setting for my novel? Is there any rule for using real locations, real places? Do I have to travel to those places if I put them in my book? Can't I just rely on Wikipedia and Google for my research?  Where else can I go for information? 

"Creating Characters You Love - Or Hate!" - How do you create characters that will remain in your readers' minds long after they put the book down? Why is a name important? Why should my characters have personality quirks, character flaws and strengths? A bio for my characters…really?  Learn the secrets for creating unforgettable characters.

Kathy Gordon: "The 10 Biggest Mistakes Writers Make" - Did you know there are ten basic things you can do to boost your chances of making it out of the slush pile—and eventually getting published? Join us for this somewhat humorous yet critically important look at the "top ten" mistakes authors make (No, Virginia, you're not alone in this), and make sure your next submission is the best one since sliced bread.

"The 10 Biggest Mistakes in Querying an Agent" - Trying to engage an agent is not as easy as taking candy from a baby—and there are ten epic fails you should avoid as you start shopping for the person who will help land your book on store shelves. Find out everything you need to know—from how to write a killer query letter to how to successfully woo potential agents—with this comprehensive set of sure-fire tips.

Jennifer Griffith: "Archetypes, not Stereotypes: Nailing Down Your Main Characters" and "Shine Up Your Story with Conflict"

Leslie Householder: "Self-Published? How to earn a 6-figure Income Giving Your Book Away for Free" -  Most authors are lucky to break even on their books. Some of the best messages never get "out there" because a publisher didn't "pick it up". Now you can learn the secrets of becoming a PROFITABLE author, no matter what obstacles get in the way. I'll teach you what I've learned over the last 10 years, going from a novice to an award winning, three-time international best seller. Learn how to position yourself for those (so-called) "lucky breaks" that profitable authors rely on, and even expect. I've written three books and every one of them has achieved best seller status, even though the traditional publishers rejected them. Don't let anyone else's opinion of your work stop you from achieving your goals!

Heather B. Moore: "Historical Fiction: One Genre That Is Here to Stay" - Historical novelist, Heather Moore, will discuss why you can't go wrong with writing historical fiction as long as it's done right. Topics include choosing time periods, world building, dialog choice, avoiding info dumps, characterizing historical figures, expanding historical facts into plot arcs, finding the right conflict to focus on, why you don't have to be an expert or spend ten years in research, how to use your non-fiction platform to sell your novel, and the unmentionables (bibliographies, chapter notes, maps, endorsements from the "experts").

"Life After the First Draft: Steps to Self-Editing" - Finishing the first draft of a manuscript is a major accomplishment, but it's far from ready to submit. Editor/Author Heather Moore will take you through the necessary steps of self-editing and how to use critical feedback from alpha readers effectively. Whether you're writing your first manuscript or your sixth, your next contract may depend on the quality of work you turn in.

Angela Morrison: "Write from your Inner Truth (but don't wreck it)"  -  Jane Yolen says stories must be based on a writer's inner truth. But, doing the very thing Jane Yolen tells us and our heart urges us to attempt can lead to errors that turn your fiction into something you didn't intend--propaganda rather than fiction. Angela draws from her experience writing Taken by Storm and her exhaustive research to help you keep truth in and didacticism out of your work. 

"Free Verse Poetry: A Secret Weapon for Improving your Prose" -  In this hands-on workshop, learn the basics of writing free verse, create a new poem using an in-class free write, and practice using free verse techniques to take your prose to a higher level. Bring any paragraph of your own writing, fiction or non-fiction, to hone.

Evan Neill: "Designing a Winning Screenplay (Part 1)" - In the first class of this two-part presentation, I will cover the storytelling in the screenplay, along with common errors and the techniques needed to format a screenplay correctly.

"Designing a Winning Screenplay (Part 2)" - The second class of this two-part presentation will cover how to develop characters through their actions and dialogue. I will also discuss how to get your screenplay noticed once it's been polished and perfected.

James Owen: TBA
Lara Perkins: "Crafting a Can't-Put-Me-Down First Chapter" - A strong, page-turning, addictIng first chapter is the best way to catch an agent or an editor's attention. Your mission, in the first chapter, is to surprise and delight even the most jaded reader and to entice them to continue deeper into your story. In this workshop, I'll discuss what makes a memorable first chapter, what your goals should be as you write and revise your first chapter, and which tried-and-true techniques will help you accomplish those goals.
Aprilynne Pike: "Worldbuilding: The Invisible Foundation" - Not just for fantasy, world building is a key task of any fiction writer. From a wholly-imagined realm to the house next door, find out how to make the world in your story believable. What you need to know, what's optional, and why almost none of it ends up in the book.

Janette Rallison: The romance genre is going strong. Come learn the do's and don't's to make your romance sellable. Avoid pitfalls like insta-love and the ever dreaded sagging middle. Learn how to make sparks fly and keep the tension going.

Chris Schoebinger: “The 5 Things You Should Know Before Submitting Your Manuscript to a Publisher” - No one likes a rejection letter. However, there are things you can do to get your submission noticed and into a hands of a decision maker. Learn what acquisitions editors are looking for. Plus, Chris takes you on a virtual tour of Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain Publishing with some special authors that have dropped in to give some advice to writers. 

Marsha Ward: "The Indie Author: No Longer a Stepchild in the Publishing Family" - Are you tired of battling windmills to get your book into the gatekeepers'hands? Do you feel the squeeze of frustration because your time is running out? This workshop explores the phenomonal rise of the Indie Author in our time. Learn what "the long tail" means. Discover the tools you need to make the "Book of Your Heart" available to the true gatekeepers: readers. Is your manuscript nearing completion (within a year)? Bring your computer and be prepared to open a free account for print book production at a leading provider of Print-On-Demand books. And no, they won't charge you any exorbitant fees.

"eBooks: The Rising Generation in the Publishing Family" - Making an ebook is not as scary as you thought. Whether you write non-fiction, poetry, memoirs, short stories, or novels, this workshop answers your nagging questions and sets to rest your self-doubts. Learn what you need to know about this technological miracle. Get the tools you need to enable you to break into the publishing family at little or no cost. Bring your e-reading device or computer so you can download the best guide you can get to prepping your manuscript for ebook conversion, and it's free!

Stacy Whitman: "Writing Cross-Culturally" - Whether you're a delving for the first time into a character's head who isn't from your own culture, or writing from your own cultural perspective, often your readers will be a diverse lot. How do we navigate the spaces between where we come from, where our characters come from, and where our readers come from without infodumping or sounding didactic? Editor Stacy Whitman of Tu Books will talk about the growing need for diversity in our books and how to know what questions to ask to begin to get it right.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Masquerade is out! Thanks for helping pick the cover!

One of the things I like best about the ebook phenomena, is that I can take books that I wrote at the beginning of my career, improve them, and put them up as ebooks.  This was a fun story, so I'm especially glad it gets a new life.

The biggest change that readers will notice is that the ending is longer and there is an epilogue. I freely admit that ending the story as abruptly as I did the first time was a mistake.  The other changes are more subtle and are mostly writing style related as opposed to plot related. For example, in the first edition I used the term "for a moment" a lot. People paused for a moment. They looked at each other for a moment. They did many, many things for a moment. And then, they momentarily did other things.

A big thank you to all the readers who overlook that sort of thing. Bless you, bless you for just paying attention to the story and not the writing.

But I still feel much better now that I've changed that type of thing.

Here is the description, that I'm not exactly happy with because it doesn't really convey that the book is a romantic comedy. (Must change that later.)

When Clarissa takes a much needed job under slightly false pretenses, she doesn't think it will be such a big deal. She may have told her movie-star boss that she was married, but that shouldn't matter. After all, she doesn't want anything to do with men for a long, long time. 

It's hard for a woman to keep up the masquerade when her boss is as handsome as Slade Jacobson and the job takes her to Hawaii with him. In between handling his whirlwind four-year-old daughter and dealing with a whole cast of Hollywood personalities, Clarissa has to keep a tight hold on her heart.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A one question survey while I wait for my ebook to load

Do you know the best time to ask your husband to load your new ebook? Apparently it isn't 11:00 pm. (Sheesh, morning people.)

So I'm hoping that he'll get Masquerade put up sometime tomorrow, and as soon as it shows up for sale online I will post the news here.  (It's sooo much better than the original. I'm excited for it to come out in its new incarnation.)

Until then, I want to ask you a question.  Who do you like better--Luke Skywalker or Han Solo? Who did you like better as a teen and if you had to choose one for a romantic lead, who would it be?

I have a legitimate reason for asking, but I'm not going to tell you what it is until I get some answers. I don't want to prejudice the results.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The question I've never been asked and the question that I still think about

I was hoping to announce a new (well, rewritten) ebook, but that's still a couple days away, so I'm putting up a question I just answered on the Much Cheaper than Therapy blog.

My old writing teacher asked me: What question has no one ever asked you that you wish they would.

I should have come up with something funny. For example, I wish someone would ask me, "How come you look so much like Angelina Jolie?" Sadly, no one has ever asked me that.  But the thing was, I'd gotten a question that I still think about, so I wrote about that instead.

After sixteen years of publishing, I think I’ve been asked just about every question there is about writing. At conferences people ask about agents, editors, and revisions. Bloggers ask about the writing process, how book ideas happened, and what’s next on the horizon. The really interesting questions come during school visits because kids will ask any and every question that pops into their mind. What is your favorite color? What did you eat for breakfast this morning?  How much money do you make?

The question I’ve never been asked is: Is it all worth it?  I suppose everyone thinks they already know the answer to this question. The aspiring writers are sure it is, the bloggers are glad it is, and many of the students--when they realize how much money I make--are sure it isn’t.  (The first boy who asked me how much money I made pondered my answer and then said, “So, writing is really more of a hobby than a career.”  It was back then, now it isn’t.)

Perhaps the best answer to the Is-it-all-worth-it question is: “If you want to know if you’re really a writer, try and stop.” That pretty much sums up life for the avid writer. We’ll write whether it’s a hobby or a career.

The question that surprised me and still haunts me sometimes, came from a young girl during one of my school visits. She couldn’t have had the wisdom or prescience to realize what she was asking when she said, “Have you ever written anything that you regret writing?”

At that moment I thought of every book I’d ever written and the millions of children who have read them. I thought of how books affected me as a child. Some made me want to be a better person, some expanded my mind, some comforted me, others influenced me to do things I shouldn’t have. Books are that powerful. You can’t step into a main character’s skin, live their story, think their thoughts, and not be affected somehow.  Authors are kidding themselves if they think they can step away from that privilege and responsibility.

Standing in that school auditorium, I thought of the story ideas, plot outlines, and random chapters I have on my computer in my Possible Manuscripts folder.  A lot of those story ideas are really good. Some of them might not have the best affect on readers though. I vacillate whether I should ever write those books. On one hand, I as an author want to go on those journeys, to give life to those characters, and experience their stories with them. And doesn’t an author need to be true to a story no matter where it goes or what paths it takes the characters on? Who am I to censor creation?

It’s not the fault of Batman’s writers that some psycho dressed up as the Joker and shot up a movie theater. It’s not Stephenie Meyer’s fault if some misguided folks try to be vampires, or Footloose’s writers fault that teens died recreating car stunt shown in the movie. People are born with common sense and should use it.

But once you publish a book, once it’s out in the world of sale and resale, it never goes away. You can’t ever take back what you’ve written. You can’t add disclaimers. No matter what common sense dictates, readers don’t even seem to fully realize that everything a character says or does isn’t condoned by the author. I’ve had people order food for me because I wrote that my main character liked that food.

The books I have out now are fun, romantic comedies and adventures. I write about good characters making mostly good choices. The others stories are still safely tucked away. For now at least, they’ll stay that way.

That's when I looked the girl in the eyes and told her there were books I wish I’d written better, but I didn’t regret anything I’d written.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tourist sites: the good, the bad, and the creepy

I just got back from Disneyland and it's made me think about tourist sites in general and why we pack up our suitcases, pull out our wallets, and head off to see things. Some places are definitely worth the trouble, others, not so much. Here are a list of good and bad tourist sites.

On the good list:  Any mountain range.  Mountains are beautiful, peaceful, and make for good hiking. As an added benefit you don't have to stand in line to see them.

On the creepy list: Mount Rushmore. I'm patriotic and all, but who thought four gigantic heads that stare down at people was a good use of funds or sculpting talent? They're watching you, and they don't look pleased . . .

On the good list: The beach. Nothing is more relaxing than enjoying the waves on a floaty raft. That's the ultimate in vacation time. Here's a picture of Techno Bob and I on our 25th anniversary.

On the bad list: New York Times Square. According to Travel and Leisure Magazine this is the world's most popular travel spot with nearly 40 million visitors a year. I've been to New York and I think Travel and Leisure Magazine may have gotten it wrong . About 20 million of those people were lost in New York's corn-maze-like streets and just wound up there as angry taxi drivers honked impatiently at them.

On the good list: The Lincoln Memorial. It's not only been immortalized by the back of the penny (as a child I was convinced the trolley from the Mr. Roger's Neighborhood was really the thing on the penny) it's majestic at night when it's glowing in light, it's free, and the roof makes a darn good place to toss a character off of, if you happen to be an author. (Slayers 2, coming out 2013)

On the bad list: The Washington Monument. Okay, what is this thing supposed to be? How does a a really tall, skinny, useless building honor George Washington? Did anyone ask him about this design? Maybe he would have liked a nice statue with him on his horse instead. And am I the only one who looks at this structure and wants to play an areal game of ring toss? On the plus side, it makes a good place for flying characters to zoom around as they try to evade each other. (Again, a Slayers 2 scene.)

On the good list: The National Natural History Museum. You get to learn interesting stuff, covet  precious gems, see frightening looking fish that lurk in the dark parts of the ocean--something for everyone. Plus, again it's a good place to set a scene for a book. Do you notice a Slayers 2 theme?

On the creepy list: Any museum that has mummies. I mean, there's something unsettling about seeing shriveled dead people from thousands of years ago laid out in front of you like they were treasures. If I ever inherit an antiquity, the last thing I want is a mummy. Shriveled dead people don't go with most people's home decor and there are just so many things you can prop up in your living room.  A nice vase, I would take.

On the good and the creepy list simultaneously: Disneyland. The travel magazine says that 15 million people visit a year, and I believe them as there were at least that many people standing in line in front of me for the Toy Story ride. I love the princesses, the songs, the decorations--I mean, where else can you see a big, glowing pink castle? (Pure awesomeness!)

But sorry Disney, the large smiling rodent is creepy and giving Mickey a flesh colored face only makes him creepier because it looks like he's mutating into a person. (Yes, that is me as a teenager.)

Well, I could go on but I have a book to write. I'm officially done with five pages of the next Fairy Godmother book.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lyrics intervention--Train does it again

Long time blog readers know that I started the Enrique Awards--an award for songs with bad pickup lines.

(To see the five contending songs for last years award, you can follow this link:

This year, Train won hands down (or wheels down, since we are talking about a vehicle) for it's song Drive By.

In it, lead singer Patrick Monahan sounds like he's stalking some unfortunate woman who's greatest desire is to flee from him. She moves across the country (or at least tells him she does) in order to get away from him. Sadly, he still doesn't get the hint.  And then there is the touching chorus where he proclaims that he is just a "shy guy looking for a two-ply Hefty bag to hold my love."

Yeah, it's always the quiet ones that you don't suspect who end up being led away by the police in handcuffs after the grisly remains are found in their basement.

So in a clear attempt to redeem themselves from the I'm-not-a-danger-to-society category, Train has come up with another song called Fifty Ways to Say Goodbye.  (Catchy song, by the way. I frequently hum it.)

For Pat, saying goodbye entails coming up with fifty imaginative ways to say his girlfriend died.  Here's a sample:

She went down in an airplane
Fried getting suntanned
Fell in a cement mixer full of quicksand
Help me, help me, I'm no good at goodbyes!
She met a shark under water
Fell and no one caught her
I returned everything I ever bought her
Help me, help me, I'm all out of lies
And ways to say you died

Yes, Patrick, I think we can all agree that you are no good at goodbyes.  Most people go with, "Let's just be friends." It's a little less violent.

Note to any women who are interested in Train band members: Don't. Just don't even go there. It will not end well.

Note to the Feds: Check the Hefty bags. That's where he keeps his love.

Note to people who don't know me: I'm just joking about all of this.

Note to Patrick: Seriously, I love you . . . so you don't ever need to like, um, come looking for me.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why writing is like budgeting

Time and money never add up like I think they should. I’m always amazed at the amount of money my family spends. It seems like we should have lots of moeny left over at the end of the month, and yet we don’t.

This year I took on an insane amount of writing. Why you might ask?  Because I have no grip on reality. It’s like all those times when I walk into Michaels and see cute scrapbooking stuff on sale and suddenly think I’m Martha Stewart—or someone with scrapbooking talent.  Which I’m not.  But that doesn’t matter, because I see said cute stuff and I think, “I should buy that because one day I’m going to put together cute, touching scrapbooks that are a tribute to my kids and their innate darlingness.

No, no I’m not. What I’m actually going to do is buy the stuff and put it in a box in my closet with the rest of the scrapbooking stuff I will never use until Armageddon or the zombie apocalypse hits.  Yep, while all the electricity is down and we’re all holed ourselves in our houses with nothing else to do I’ll have plenty of scrapbooking stuff to keep me busy. (Assuming of course that I’ve previously downloaded pictures . . .)

Anyway, when my publishers both wanted a book within the same 6 month period, I thought I could do it.  Here is my reasoning: If I type two pages an hour and work an average of five hours a day, I’ll produce ten pages a day. If I work twenty two days a month, I’ll have the first draft of a 300 page book done in a month and a half—easy. Then I can take the other month and a half to revise it.  Bingo. Two books in six month.

Why is real life never like a math equation?

Perhaps because when all is said and done I write slower than two pages an hour. I actually average more like one page an hour (poof—I just gave myself ten hour days instead of five hour ones.)  And my books are closer to 400 than they are to 300. (Poof—there went my Saturdays) And you don’t have a six month period without things like family reunions, holidays, birthdays, conferences, school visits and other things that don’t allow you to write for ten hours a day.

So what actually happened is I was ensconced in myroom without showering, cooking or cleaning. I was frequently up until 4:00 AM. But the worst is over now, I think.

 Echo in Time is at the copy edits stage. I’ll have revisions for Slayers Two in a week or two. Masquerade's copy edits should be back to me any day now. And I’ll hopefully have revisions for The Wrong Side of Magic soon too.

And when I’m done with all of that, I’ll start working on the third fairy godmother book.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The truth about revisions

The problem with writing a story is that for the author, the story doesn't occur on the page. It occurs in the author's head.  And the story is always good there. I've got some awesome scenes in my mind. I do my best to translate those scenes on the page.  When I write a  novel, I always think the writing is good because I'm still seeing the scenes in my mind.  This is why authors always need to take a break from their manuscripts.  The longer, usually the better.  After a couple of months, I reread what I've written and I can see all sorts of problems that I then fix.  

And then I think it's good . . . until I read it the next time.  Apparently the same is true  in drawing because this comic says it all.

Monday, October 8, 2012

More Erasing Time give-aways

Here are the rest of the blog tour stops. Enter all of them for a chance to win--and also, you can still go back to the previous ones and enter. Sopme of them have a lot of comments, but some only have a few which boosts your chances of winning. good luck!

October 8- LDSWBR
October 9- PageTurners Blog
October 10- Reading Teen
October 11- YA Bliss
October 12- Wastepaper Prose

Sunday, October 7, 2012

for your next chance to win Erasing Time

Head over to Portrait of a Book. Oh, and by the way, it seems that a lot of these blogs are taking comments for a week, so if you missed some of the blog stops, go back and leave a comment because you may still have a chance to win.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Next stop the Mod Podge Bookshelf

The Mod Podge Bookshelf asked me for a deleted scene. A lot got deleted from the manuscript, but not a whole scene. So I wrote a bit from Taylor's point of view  and sent that over.  You can read it at:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Next blog stop at Books Complete Me

And of course there will be a chance to win a book. You can see BCM's review at:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Erasing Time and celebrity fashion

The next stop on the Erasing Time blog tour is the I Am A Reader, Not a Writer blog. On today's guest post, I talk about future fashion. Are today's celebrities crazy or are they just fashion forward?

You can read it all at:

Also, you'll have a chance to win the book.

Win a copy of Erasing Time at Fiktshun blog

Day three of the blog tour is at Fiktshun's blog.  She gave Erasing Time a rave review, so I know she's very smart.  You can read it at:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Blog tour day two

Today hop on over to Tales of the Ravenous Reader for an Erasing Time excerpt and a chance to win the book at:

Monday, October 1, 2012

The blog tour begins!

Hey reader friends,
For the next 12 days (sort of like the Twelve Days of Christmas) I'm going on a blog tour. Today, head on over to Fire and Ice's blog to see what sort of playlist (or lack of one) I have going when I write.

You'll have chances to win a copy of Erasing Time along the way, so be sure to check out the posts!

Here's a link to todays--and the schedule of future stops:

Monday, September 24, 2012

What the kids did during revisions--sledding in Arizona

While I was busy doing revisions, the kids found ways to entertain themselves.  This was one activity I found out about after the fact. Yeah. Love how safety conscious the kids are. On the other hand, who says kids can't have sledding-like activities in Arizona?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Which cover do you like best?

I know I said I was going to do another--what the kids were doing while I revised blog--but then I got these lovely cover proofs from Earthly Charms for the ebook cover of Masquerade--which I'm in the process of rewriting for the national market. Hopefully it will be released in a month or two (depending on how much time I have since Putnam and Feiwel will both send revisions to me on other novels soon).

So which cover do you think works for a romantic comedy?  Also, let me know if you actually like to read romances. (One of the interesting things I've found is that people who don't like to read romances prefer the middle cover. But the thing is--if they like it because it doesn't seem 'romancy' then maybe it's not the best cover since romance readers are my target audience.) So yeah, let me know if you actually read romances. 


Thursday, September 13, 2012

When I say there's an art to mothering during revisions, the art I'm talking about is the equivalent of those modern art statues you see which resemble tangled coat hangers, or giant erasers, or someone's pile of  recyclable milk cartons. You know the ones I'm talking about--the ones you see and think, "That's art?"

That's pretty much how my mothering has gone for the last few months while I finished writing Slayers Two and did revisions for Echo of Time. (Erasing Time's sequel.)  I've stayed up until four in the morning on more than one occasion, and Techno Bob has had to get our youngest daughter off to school.  There's only one problem with this system. Techno Bob is an engineer, which means he was born without the gene for fashion. I'm never sure what youngest daughter will be wearing when her father gets her ready. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I picked her up the other day and saw this ensemble. And her hair hadn't been touched with a brush either.
Yeah, this is pretty much why children need mothers.  After our first child was about two years old, I took my husband aside and lovingly told him, "If I should die, I want you to remarry. And let her dress the children." This advice still stands.

Next blog: How the children have entertained themselves.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Erasing Time Book Launch Photos

Erasing Time is set 400 years in the future, when as you know the world will be populated by dystopian governments that are trying to kill you. (Not all that different from today, really.) In my futuristic society, people dye their hair, skin, and wear outrageous outfits.  Sort of like this:

See, Lady Gaga isn't odd, she's just 400 years ahead of her time.  Anyway since Echo, one of my main characters in the book, has blue hair, I decided to dye my hair blue as a visual effect. I was a little nervous about doing this because it is one thing to do something flashy like that when you are a young, cute bee-bopper and quite another to do it when you're a middle-aged woman. Middle-aged women who do flashy, hip things tend to look like they are in old-age denial. But hey, how many times do I have a legitimate reason for dying my hair blue? So I took the plunge and sprayed on bright blue hair color:

You can't really tell in this picture how blue my hair is so I added the bottom one--as you can see it really was noticeably blue.  

The presentation went well and everyone who came was awesome! But here is the thing--I sort of forgot my hair was blue. I mean, I wasn't looking at myself. And I also forgot to mention during my presentation that one of the book's characters had blue hair. Yep. 

No one asked about it during the question and answer session either.  They must have all thought I was just one of those artistic types . . . the kind that is in old-age denial.

Here I am showing off my glitter tattoo. It's sort of a Rosie the Riveter moment.
Anyway, so besides the don't ask, don't tell blue hair moment, it was great! I was glad to see old friends and new faces.  And then I went home and realized that it was late, we were out of milk, and I was the only one of driving age awake. The kids need milk for their breakfast cereal and they start leaving the house at 5:30 am.

So I had to go to the grocery store with blue hair and a glittery tattoo. And the cashier and bagger did ask about both. Sigh. Yeah, I am so cool.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Erasing Time book launch and Trailer

Hey Reading Aficionados,
My new release, Erasing Time comes out August 28th!
 You can buy it any of your finer bookstores. (If your local one doesn't carry it, tell them they won't qualify as a finer bookstore until they order it, which they should do immediately.) If you're in the Phoenix area, I would love to see you at the book launch on:

Tues, Aug 28th, 7:00 PM at Changing Hands Bookstore

I'll talk about vital and important topics such as:

The future (Will the government want to kill you?  Ha! Do you really doubt it?)
Secret symbols in store logos: (Seriously, they're in a bunch. I'll show you some.)
And Rank (You can be one of the cool, early adopters.)

Also get a glitter tattoo so you can fit in with the High Rankers of 2447.

Time travel is optional.

Here's the book trailer:

Dramatic twists and turns to the very end ensure readers’ attention and the possibility of an equally thrilling sequel--Kirkus

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Erasing Time giveaway and book trailer

Okay, first off--I forgot that I still have a couple of signed Shannon Hale books to give away. (Thank you intrepid reader Alyssa for reminding me, as I am going on so little sleep that it is amazing I remember anything.) But those books will have to wait because I promised you yesterday the Erasing Time giveaway and a trailer that goes poof! (Well, not literally.)  Soo, I'll give away Austinland and Goose Girl after my book launch--which is next Tuesday, the 28th at Changing Hands in Tempe AZ. 7:00 pm.

I'll talk about cool dystopian stuff like how the government will want to kill you and secret signs in logos. You can also get a cool glitter tattoo.  I'm contemplating on whether or not to dye my hair blue--as that is going to be a popular hair color four hundred years from now.  Time travel is optional. Hope you can make it!

Awesome, huh?

For a chance to win a copy of Erasing Time leave a comment telling me what part of the book trailer you like best.

Following will get you another chance, tweeting about the book launch will give you a third chance.

Hope to see you at the book launch!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hey fellow YABL (young adult book lovers) it's time for me to clear my closet of some of my stash of books. Yep, keeping copies of 19 book titles has made several rooms in my house look like an episode of hoarders.  Soooo in celebration of Erasing Time's August 28th release date, I'll be giving away one (well, two really) of my other book titles every day for the next two weeks or so. And for the most part, I'll do it on both of my blogs. (You can double your chances by leaving a comment at:

This is the third time I've done a book a day giveaway which means I'm pretty certain two things will happen.

1) At some point I will forget to pick winners for the day. I will feel horrible about this oversight, and yet will still be unable to go back and change time to remedy the situation. (Although Erasing Time is a time travel book, so maybe it will be different this time . . .)  So some days won't have a winner posted and some day's I'll post two winners and an apology.

2) I will lose track of which winners have sent me their address and which haven't--so be sure to check and see if you won something because I most likely won't hunt you down.

I used to put up a schedule of what books I would giveaway on each day.  This time I'm not going to do that. It will just be whatever book I feel like giving away that day (My Fair Godmother; My Unfair Godmother; All's Fair in Love, War and High School; My Double Life; Slayers; Fame, Glory and Other Things On My To Do List; How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend; It's a Mall World After All; Revenge of the Cheerleaders: Life, Love, and Other Things On My To Do List; Erasing Time and I also have a signed Shannon Hale Austinland and a signed Angela Morris Taken by Storm that I will throw into the mix at some point. (Is it a sign of hoarding if you buy two copies of books you like? Not if you give them away on your blog, right?)

We'll start with um . . . How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend

Leaving a comment will get you an entry, being a follower will get you another entry, tweeting or blogging about the giveaway, Erasing Time's book launch, or how much you love me will get you another entry--and don't worry peeps reading this on Goodreads. I count your comments into the mix too. Then I'll do the math and ask to pick a winner.

Sixteen-year-old Giovanna Petrizzo finds it hard enough to fit in. Three years since her family moved to Texas, she's still the newcomer compared to everyone around her. It doesn't help matters when her twin brother, Dante, takes on the mayor's son by running for class president. The least she could expect, though, would be for her boyfriend, Jesse, to support their cause. But Jesse's apparent defection triggers Giovanna's rash emotional side, and before she knows it, she's turned Jesse from the boy of her dreams to the ex-boyfriend she dreams of winning back.

In her trademark style, Janette Rallison delivers a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that only leaves readers wanting more.

Good luck

Monday, August 6, 2012

Zombie picture by Jeremy Keith

One of the fun things about writing a novel is all of the research you get to do.  Okay, it's not all fun. For example, you don't how long I spent on the internet trying to find out what a flash grenade would do to night vision goggles. Apparently this is the one piece of information the internet doesn't know. I had to call Litton, the makers of night vision goggles three times trying to get someone to tell me.

No dice.

The receptionist didn't know, and the engineers didn't return my phone calls. Finally I called a Navy Seal. He called back. End of the story--I had to cut flash grenades from the scene.

But a lot of research is more fun.  I needed to find a mall in the DC area for some characters to meet at.  My husband suggested the Springfield Mall because it was a hot spot back when he grew up in the area.  We looked at the reviews for the mall to see if it had theaters.

And I was soo glad we did.  Apparently the Springfield Mall is now "Old, decrepit, decaying, and abandoned." (And that was from a five star review)  Here are six other actual reviews of the mall that made me laugh outloud:

1) Springfield Mall is like a shopping experience, magic show, and workout all rolled into one. You show up looking to buy something, go into a store, and when you come out the store next to it magically closed while you were shopping. This mall is dropping stores like audition week of American Idol.

To top all of that, all the stores worth shopping are at opposite ends of the mall. So you have to journey through the boarded up ghost town like it's post apocalypse VA.

Go to this mall at your own risk! If you see something in a store BUY IT, if you leave it until you come back the WHOLE store may be gone.

2) This mall gets two stars for Dairy Queen.

Negative two stars for only having 20 stores out of 200 storefronts

Extra one star for being the best location for some sort of zombie movie.

3) I remember back in the day this mall was a respectable location . . . However, over the years it just got worse and worse until I couldn't stand going there anymore and look at all the empty halls and dead interior; it makes me depressed since some of my best memories were going there as a kid.

P.S. Don't park in the Parking Garage for the love of God

(That does make me wonder what goes on in the parking garage . . .)

4) Just happy to be alive and well after having to meet someone at this mall from Craigslist...I know...suspicious right?...I was buying something off of him!....noooo not THAT!...a cell phone..sheesh!
The guy was super cute...I Facebooked him and darn "info" he was...married...or I would have totally taken my chances at this empty mall....sheesh people I a just kidding!...but yeah, close this darn place! it gives you the jibby jibbeesss!

5) Hands down the greatest mall to ever grace this earth.  OK I know its more drywall than store now but there are too many good memories in this place to not give it 5 stars.   
I have seen people "making love" in the back hallways, a fight between two fellows, one wielding mace and the other a screwdriver.  You have to pay for that kind of entertainment these days.   

Too much hate and not enough love for this mall, I hope it never gets torn down.

6) Ahhh, the mall that time forgot.  They will put up drywall in front of a storefront faster than anything I've ever seen.  I truly believe that magic drywall elves come out at night to board up where stores used to be.  I picture them singing some sort of song while they do it too...

But I digress...

Mall Positives:
- Not at all crowded
- Decent parking options
- Target is well stocked
- JCPenney has a decent selection
- Kiosk coffee place (Cuppy's) on first floor has good coffee

Mall Negatives:
- Over half the spaces are not used
- Odd Macy's there
- Oddly placed foodcourt
- A bit frightened of the drywall elves

Needless to say, I sent my characters to a different mall instead.  But if I ever write a story about the Zombie Apocalypse or a tribe of drywall elves, I've got the perfect setting. . .

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hey, it's nearly Erasing Time time! My next novel comes out August 28th. In honor of the countdown, I'm giving away my one and only ARC of the book. (Which means I'll be combining entries from both the CJ Hill and Janette Rallison blogs)

Here's the blurb:

In this high-action and romantic futuristic adventure, there is no escape from the future for two contemporary girls pulled out of their own time.

When twins Sheridan and Taylor wake up 400 years in the future, they find a changed world: domed cities, no animals, and a language that’s so different, it barely sounds like English. And the worst news: They can’t go back home.

The twenty-fifth-century government transported the girls to their city hoping to find a famous scientist to help perfect a devastating new weapon. The moblike Dakine fights against the government, and somehow Taylor and Sheridan find themselves in the middle. The only way to elude them all is to trust Echo, a guy with secrets of his own. The trio must put their faith in the unknown to make a harrowing escape into the wilds beyond the city.

Full of adrenaline-injected chases and heartbreaking confessions, Erasing Time explores the strength of the bonds between twins, the risks and rewards of trust, and the hard road to finding the courage to fight for what you believe in

For a chance to win, leave a comment telling me what you think America will be like in 400 years.
Followers of one blog will be given and extra chance.  Followers of both blogs will get two--so let me know in your comment if you follow one or both.

And as an extra teaser, here's the first page or so of the book. (Sorry I couldn't format it to look like a book page. If anyone knows how to do that, let me know.)

It was as good a day as any to plan treason.

Echo’s hands moved over the computer control panels in a quick rhythm until an aerial picture of Traventon appeared on the screen.  He enlarged the wilderness that bordered the domed city, searching for any sign of a path. In order to escape from the city, he needed to find a safe route; the route others took when they fled.
The date code on the picture said it was eighteen years old. From before the war with Chicago.  Had the area changed since then?  It might have.

If Echo could find the encoded site where the government kept recent pictures, he could splice into it. But that could be dangerous. It was illegal to do unauthorized searches.  The Information Department kept track of the government sites, and the more important the data was, the harder it was to search it undetected. No point in taking risks he didn’t have to. People had been given memory washes for less. Anyway, a recent picture might not help him any more than this one.  People had been escaping from the city for decades, so if a trail existed, he might be able to see it in this picture too.

A massive forest spread out to the east of the city, greener next to the river that supplied their water.  Toward the west, the vegetation became sparse and was interspersed with brown and gray rock.  The deep shadows indicated height, although whether they showed hills or mountains, Echo couldn’t tell.  To the north of the dome was the scattered wreckage of the old city: Denver, destroyed in the raids of the twenty-third century.  When Echo was a baby, his father had gone there with an archeological team to rummage through the rubble for artifacts.  But that had been nearly two decades ago, before the vikers became such a danger.  Now the wilderness was so infected with the criminal bands that no one was allowed outside the city walls unless they had a good reason and a strong weapon.

Echo had a laser box hidden in a false compartment in his closet.  It was one more secret, one more danger that he wouldn’t have thought himself capable of a few months ago.

He went back to studying the photo and the dome that had always been his home.  He didn’t want to leave his father, his friends—everything—but if he stayed, the Dakine would kill him.  He only had weeks, days maybe before assassins came for him.  The secret society didn’t waste time on trails or the sort of bureaucracy that made the government so slow.  They just hunted you down.

Echo rotated the picture on the computer screen, hoping a different perspective would show him something; some clue as to which way people went when they left Traventon.  The most logical route was along the river.  It would provide travelers water if they had disinfectors with them.

Echo zoomed in on the river.  He didn’t have a disinfector, but he had another advantage. He had access to historical documents.  He knew that before disinfectors, people boiled water to make it safe. It had been easy enough for him to compile a solar powered heat coil.

The best direction to go would be south.  It was warmer.  He’d gleaned this fact from historical documents too. Stories he’d read about cowboys riding across dry dusty lands and women who sat in the shade fanning themselves.  There was also something called cactus, which were sharp and painful, but not fast moving, so he ought to be able to avoid those.

Whether any of the southern cities would risk taking him in, was another matter.  He had computer skills worth paying for, but no way to convince anyone he wasn’t a spy.

The door to the Wordlab slid open, drawing Echo’s attention away from the computer.  He expected to see one of the wordsmiths coming in, but two black-clad Enforcers strode into the room instead.

Echo’s hands jerked to a stop on the control panel. It was treason to try to leave the city, and he had an aerial picture of Traventon on his computer, the dome of the city in full view. Would it look too suspicious to close out the screen, or was it better to make up an excuse—pretend he was doing some sort of authorized research?

He sat frozen in his chair, undecided, caught in his own panic.  The Enforcers walked toward him, their faces barely visible through their helmet shields.  It was impossible to read their expressions. Did they already know?  Just before the men reached his desk, Echo ran his fingers over the keyboard. It wasn’t subtle, but the photo of Traventon disappeared from his screen.

He put on a disinterested expression.

“Echo Monterro?” one of the men asked.


“We’re here to escort you to the Scicenter.  Jeth’s request.”

So they didn’t know what he’d been researching, hadn’t been tracking his activities.  Echo relaxed in his chair. “Why does my father want me at the Scicenter?”

The man simply motioned toward the door.

Echo didn’t ask for more information.  It wasn’t wise to question Enforcers.  He stood and walked awkwardly between them to the door.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

You know you’re an Arizonan in July if . . .

You know you’re an Arizonan in July if . . .

I live in Arizona which means that for the next three months I will always win in the game of Who-Is-Having-the-Worst-Summer-Weather. Here are the ten reasons I’ve come up with that illustrate why you should feel sorry for me.

 You know you're an Arizonan in July if . . .

1)      You’re not sure whether you’re having hot flashes or whether it’s just summer.

2)      A hundred degree forecast is a cold front.

3)      No matter what you set your washing machine’s temperature at, it comes out hot.

4)      Your car doubles as both a sauna and sweat lodge.

5)      The butter tray becomes a butter puddle-holder unless it’s kept in fridge.

6)      You can’t actually fry an egg on the sidewalk, but you’ve tried.

7)      You can actually burn the bottom of your feet on the sidewalk.

8)      You’ve got to blow dry your hair fast, or nature will do it for you.

9)      Hot chocolate loses all appeal (almost).

10)   Regular chocolate becomes hot chocolate within the time you buy it and the time you rip it open in your car.

(Funny how so many of my blogs end with chocolate. Okay, maybe not funny, just fitting . . . or not fitting if we're talking about my skinny jeans.)