Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In the Author Spotlight: MK Mancos

Cate: I'm pleased to welcome MK Mancos to the Author Spotlight. MK, will you please share a short bio with us?
MK: Hmmmm, I always have a hard time with this type of question. How do I begin? How much should I tell about myself? How do I make it snappy and interesting? – Short version of me, I live in NJ with my hubby, who is a comic artist and studying to become a voice-over actor. We share our space with the sweetest, yet most spoiled dog on the planet, Lily. At any one time our house is filled with a host of characters we are currently writing. Thank God, they don’t need fed or clothed.

Cate: My dog’s name is Lily too! And I’m a native Jerseyan – or as people always expect me to say, Joiseyan. :) Ok, so tell us about Immorati and where it's available.
MK: Immorati was a long time coming back to publication. It was with another pub back in ’07. When the pub closed its doors, it was pushed into bankruptcy court with the rest of the assets. (I guess it’s a compliment to be considered a company asset.) Anyhow, it took time and dedication to get the rights back, and when I did I turned the book over to my good friend, Amanda Barnett, Senior Editor at the Wild Rose Press/Black Rose. I knew Amanda would give Immorati the love and attention it deserved after its bumpy trip through court system. She loved the book and contracted it. I was completely excited to work with her again.
The idea for Immorati actually came to me in a dream. At the time it was nothing more than a very gory scene where a werewolf crashed through a wooden stand at a local fair and attacked me. (Me being the dream me who was totally hot and so worthy of a romance heroine.) When I woke, I knew that would be an awesome scene to include in a book, but I didn’t want to write another werewolf tale. I have nothing against shifter books, on the contrary, they are sexy as hell, but I needed something that was more me. Different. Unique. Being a sci-fi, comic book, documentary and paranormal junkie, I decided that I should really look to my own backyard. Since I live in New Jersey the cryptid of my dreams was only a few hours away in the Pine Barrens. The New Jersey Devil became the villain for my novel – or is he?

Cate: Very cool! The Jersey Devil's always intrigued me too. Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
When the corpse of an unidentified species is found in the woods near Pine Haven, New Jersey along with a human female, anthropologist Edie Campbell is called in by local law enforcement and the medical examiner to help identify the strange humanoid male. The discovery of a heretofore unknown species is thrilling for Edie, up until she realizes the creature has recently mated with the human female.
Questions form with no apparent answers until Aidan LaMont arrives in Pine Haven to identify his cousin’s body. But the secretive Aidan hides as much of the mystery surrounding the strange creature as he explains. And Edie has no doubt that behind his simmering sexuality and amber eyes, he knows much more than he’s willing to tell.

Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
MK: Taking the idea from a dream and tweaking it to fit something I found interesting. Of course, I had to come up with a hero worthy of his villain. My love of anthropology and folklore worked well for me here. I decided the only true foil for a legendary monster is an immortal. Enter one Aidan LaMont and the race of immortals known to the Jersey Devils as the Immorati. The Immorati and the Corpesetti (what I call the JD in my book) were brothers once. The Origins sought to punish the Corpesetti for their crimes and made their once beautiful forms into something that resembled the ugliness inside. But not all the Corpesetti are evil. This is as much the origins of a redemption story as it is a murder mystery and love story.

Cate: Wow, that sounds fantastic. How do you develop your plots and characters?
MK: I don’t have any one particular way of doing things. I can get ideas from dreams, magazine articles, documentaries, or just the flotsam of everyday life. Once I get an idea, I try to see inside the characters and ask what their lives are like. Why are they like that? I also have character sheets I use that help me to interview the characters before I start writing. However, not everything I discover during this process is used. Sometimes it changes in a complete 180° from what I originally write, but it is a good jumping off point. And I do this long hand. Not sitting at a computer. It takes on a different form of creativity.

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
MK: I’ve had characters interrupt my showers before to tell me their stories. This generally earns them a stern look because I’m buck naked and have no pencil or paper to write it all down. Haunting my dreams, yes, and my driving and any other mundane task I might be doing at the moment. I write about 5 books at a time, so I always have some character intruding on my life when I’m not sitting at the computer. It’s a hazard, but generally they work out problems I’m having in the book so I welcome it.

Cate: What's next for you?
MK: I have a book coming out in the summer from the Crimson Rose line at Wild Rose Press. Tin Gods: Ruins and Relics Book One by Kate Davison. This is my foray into romantic suspense, treasure hunts and hunky government agents.

Cate: Cool cover. Any other published works?
MK: Yes. Readers can go to my website, www.MysticKat.com for blurbs and book covers. It’s a mostly complete list. (Needs a bit of an update, but only by one or two titles.)

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
MK: Twisty. Quirky. Escapism.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
MK: Most challenging - Finding the time to write everything I want to write. I am prolific with ideas. Every time I sit down to start a new book I think will be a stand alone, it ends up a series. I have more ideas than I can ever possibly write.
Most rewarding – Having people write to me and tell me how much they love my books. (That’s a hint. Drop me a line.)

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
MK: This comment came when I was still pre-published and had posted an excerpt of a book on a sci-fi writers critique site. One critiquer said I borrowed too many ideas from the Dune series for my story. I laughed. Since I’d never read Dune, I found it completely amazing I was able to channel Frank Herbert so convincingly. I wrote the commenter back, thanking him for his compliment in my ability to do so. I also said I was going to the closest university to get tested for ESP. Though my answer to him was flip, it did teach me a valuable lesson. If I’m writing a story in a particular genre or sub-genre, I won’t read any books in that category. I don’t want outside influences to appear in my books. To this day I still haven’t read Dune.

Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
MK: I love a lot of different authors for different reasons. There are those I read whenever I see knew books by them. Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips to name two. I just bought two of the most latest Susan Grant novels. Though my favorites tend to be in romance, I’ve been reading way outside romance the last few months.

Right now, I’m reading Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson. It’s a hard sci-fi about the first colonists on Mars.

Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
MK: www.MysticKat.com

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
MK: What would you like to see me write about? If I like the idea, I’ll even name a character after you.

Cate: Readers, MK is giving away a book to a random commenter... so start commenting. She'll pick a winner on Wednesday, April 6 around 7 pm EST. Be sure to include your email address so she can contact you if you're the lucky winner.

MK: Note: That gives you a week to comment. So, get keep those cards and letters coming!

Thanks, Cate for having me here today. It’s been fun.

Cate: Great having you here, MK! Best of luck with Immorati, and all your projects!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Interesting poll on sex scenes


And some interesting reader responses. What do you think? How much sex is enough? How much is too much? Weigh in at Bitten by Books.



More on BBPCon

As the last post on the Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference ran long, I'm carrying it over.

Long before the conference, I'd begun to enhance my blog with extra functionality and content. I hope you like it. :) Note the new search box at right, which allows you to search through all previous posts for a topic. And the Stat Counter, which provides a quick and easy read of visitors. (I'd been using Google Analytics, but it crapped out when I created a second blog, The Susquehanna Writers. Boo hiss on Analytics.) I took advantage of Blogger's new Pages gadget, and much of the content on my web site is now in those pages. Pretty cool stuff. Some additions are just for fun, like the labels gadget. Oh, and now my blog matches my web site in design - not quite a brand, but at least some recognizable variation thereof.

Anyway, back to BBPCon.

Teresa D’Amario had a cool session about how she planned a six-week book tour, three dates per week. Rather than posting the usual excerpts etc., she started the tour with a 1,000-word story. At each blog stop, she encouraged readers to provide ideas about where the story should go from there. Readers were introduced to the hero's sister in the police station, where she went for aid in finding her lost brother. Ms. D'Amario then asked readers to contribute story elements: is he human, or not human, what type of hero is he? Readers decided he was a Fae prince, and they actually named him, and it ended up as 13,000-word story. After the tour, she posted it as a free read on her web site: www.teresadamario.com.

Another interesting point: She chose blogs who were typically paranormal-themed, but stayed with more reader blogs than author blogs, and found that while author blogs had great participation, reader blogs brought in a totally different audience. Some readers followed the author from blog to blog, which benefited the host blog as well. She got to know what readers were interested in reading.

If following her format, she advised authors to be prepared to do a quick turnaround with your next story installment after the blog. Another blog date might follow the next day, and you need to give visitors until evening to provide comments. Some blogs restrict dates for guests, so be flexible with dates too.

The Blog Tours Panel echoed some of Ms. D'Amario's key points: Don't make post content one big advertisement. Make the post value-added, not the same post continued from blog to blog. Hold a giveaway if possible. Stick around and respond to comments.

On her blog tour, author Leanna Renee Hieber told haunted London ghost stories, which were actual ghost stories of London. She posted links to this tour on her web site: http://www.leannareneehieber.com/haunted-london-blog-tour/.

Another author advised other authors to include information about the origin of story, how it came about, inspiration for title... any insight into the creative process to better engage readers.

I drifted in and out of the Reaching Out to Readers beyond the Internet session. It began on topic, which was how to bring in new readers who are not aware of online resources. One of the organizers of RomCon spoke of the benefits of actual conferences -- bringing together readers, authors and industry professionals for a weekend. RomCon will take place July 9-11 in Denver.

Then discussion veered back to the Internet, to the upstart SavvyAuthors site, which brings writers together to cross promote each other. Bloggers can create account for free. So they lost me for a bit here. One of the downsides of an online conference, I suppose.

Eventually it came back to the topic, and suggested authors contact schools to schedule a program with students. Contact local authors groups to see if they'd be interested in having you join their group for an evening, and possibly end with a booksignings. If your local library has reading groups, approach them with the same question.

While "attending" this conference, I tended to web-surf, answer emails, do laundry and make dinner. After awhile, it became difficult to sit and listen for such long periods.

My take overall? Definitely worth the twenty dollar registration. I'm guessing we'll see more of these types of conferences, and the fact that big-name houses participated was encouraging. They understand the critical shift toward digital, and understand they need to stay relevant in the game.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Maggie Dove in the Author Spotlight

Cate: Please welcome Maggie Dove. Maggie, will you please share a short bio with us?
Maggie: Hi Cate, thank you so much for having me here! I'm a housewife, a mother of two, and a writer. I've always enjoyed romance novels, especially historical romance. I'm also a sucker for a good mystery. I was born in Havana, Cuba, but have lived in the U.S. since I was five. I spent a year in Spain when I was nineteen and fell in love with Europe. As the granddaughter of a famous Cuban writer and publisher, writing is in my blood. I come from a long line of journalists. My family owned one of the oldest newspapers in the Americas. I've had twenty-six of my letters to the editor published in The Miami Herald

Cate: Tell us about Call Me Duchess and where it's available.
Maggie: Historical romance/romantic suspense, CALL ME DUCHESS is the second novel of the Windword Trilogy.
Released by Eternal Press - January, 2011
Paperback can be ordered through Barnes & Noble.
Paperback and Kindle available at Amazon. Com
Kindle Available at: http://members.webs.com/
 
Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Maggie:
Grippingly suspenseful and romantic, CALL ME DUCHESS, is a stunning, young woman’s journey to find love in 1870 London while a dashingly handsome chaperone, a heinous villain, and her own lofty aspirations stand in her way. Left penniless by their father, Marguerite Wiggins and her sisters must find husbands during the London season or work as governesses by season’s end.
Determined to become the next Duchess of Wallingford, Marguerite is a woman in love who must make the difficult decision between following her heart or attaining her lifetime dreams and ambitions as a depraved rapist seeks to make her his next victim.  

Cate: Can you tell us why we're going to love your hero?
Maggie: He is one gorgeous hunk of man! Very manly, sexy, and witty.

Cate: Tease us with one little thing about your fictional world that makes it different from others. Aside from the gorgeous covers! 
Maggie: I like to write historical romance novels with a mystery included. I also like to set them throughout Europe.

Cate: Very cool. What's next for you?
Maggie:
ANGEL OF WINDWORD is my first novel, and the first of the WINDWORD TRILOGY.  CALL ME DUCHESS, the prequel to ANGEL OF WINDWORD and the story of two characters from my original manuscript, is set in 1870 England. At this time, I am writing my third novel, THE ENGLISH MARQUESA. The last of the Windword Trilogy is set in 1870 Spain and it also involves a member of the Kent family.

Cate: What inspired you to draft your first story?
Maggie
: A dare from a friend. I wrote Angel of Windword, the first of the trilogy, fifteen years ago. I put it away. Two years ago when my kids went off to college and law school, I took out the manuscript, revamped it and sent if out to be published. It was published by Eternal Press on October of 2009.

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Maggie: I like to write from 9am to 5pm. When I tackle the blank page, I need a clear mind and a steaming cup of coffee by my side.

Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Maggie: http://www.maggiedove.net. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Maggie: What do you look for in a romance?
Thanks again, Cate, for inviting me to your wonderful site!

Cate: Readers, Maggie is giving away a pdf copy of Call Me Duchess to one lucky commenter... so start commenting. She'll pick a winner next Sunday and announce it here. 
Thanks so much for being my guest Maggie! Best of luck to you. 


Saturday, March 27, 2010

In the Author Spotlight: Imari Jade

Cate: Please welcome Imari Jade to the Author Spotlight! Imari, will you please share a short bio with us?
Imari: Hello, my name is Imari Jade and I’m a writer for several publishing companies, Midnight Showcase Fiction, Carnal Desires Publishing, Eternal Press, MoonGypsy Press, Total E-Bound and Sugar and Spice Press. My first book entitled “A Christmas to Remember” was published by Star Dust Press in 2006.

Cate: Tell us about your latest release, Oasis, and where it's available.
Imari: “Oasis” is available at Sugar and Spice Press. It’s an interracial romance set in Africa about an Hispanic female photographer named Charisma Romaine who meets and falls in love with an Nubian prince named Shakir Hakeem even though she’s supposed to be dating her ambassador uncle’s assistant.

Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Imari: Sure. To set it up this is the cute meet between Charisma and Shakir.
One
“Whew,” Charisma took off her hat and wiped the sweat from her brow. The sun blinded her as she looked up. It if wasn’t for the shyness of the sand viper she was trying to photograph she would be back at her aunt’s mansion lounging around the cool, wet swimming pool and sipping on a nice cold glass of iced tea. The viper stuck his head out of the sand, allowing her to capture its likeness in mid-strike as it lunged toward her. She moved away from the angry snake and continued snapping its picture until it retreated back into the sand. A throat cleared behind her. Turning, she stared up the flanks of a mocha-colored camel. Upon its back rode a hooded and partially masked black man with intense dark brown eyes. Behind him and the camel sat a caravan of desert vehicles and other camel riders.
“What are you doing?” His voice was deep, melodic and heavily accented.
“Photographing nature in its rarest form.”
“No, I mean what are you doing out here in the desert alone? The Sahara is a dangerous place even for a man.”
Charisma tore her glance away from his mesmerizing eyes. “I’m trying to get an award winning shot for a magazine if it’s any of your business. I can’t concentrate with a bodyguard shackled to my ankles.”
“A very unwise decision. You are much too fine to be unchaperoned.”
“Thanks for the complement but I’m properly covered.” She pointed to the veil on her face. “Nothing’s showing.”
“Apparently you’ve never seen what you look like from behind.”
Charisma looked up in a huff. “It’s rude of you to point out that I have a big butt.”
A few of the others chuckled.
“Not big, shapely and formidable.”
“Don’t you have anything better to do than harass me? I’m about to leave anyway. It’s too darn hot here and water is not quenching my thirst.”
“Good. I would hate to read tomorrow’s headlines in the newspaper and discover that something has happened to you. I can just see it now…young Hispanic woman with a gigantic butt succumbs to the hot Sahara heat.”
Charisma tried to ignore him as she bent over and put her camera back into the case.
“Formidable.”
She looked back to give him another piece of her mind but he was leaving. The rest of the riders and the cars followed him. Her heartbeat quieted moments later. He had the most gorgeous eyes she had ever looked in to. And that voice…deep and sexy. She fanned herself. It was the type of baritone that made a woman’s knees shake. “I wonder what the rest of him looks like.” She folded the tripod and tossed it into the back of her Jeep along with the rest of her things. “Too back he’s so damn arrogant.”

Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Imari: Originally I had just finished working on another book about an Egyptian prince and then the idea just popped into my head. It was one of those “What If” questions. “What if a modern day African prince meets an exotic Hispanic woman in the desert?”

Cate: How do you develop your plots and characters?
Imari: Most of my plots are ideas gathered from news reports or just from a picture I run across. Once I have the idea I start writing and then create the characters and plot as I go along. After one of two chapters I usually know enough about the characters to give them some background. I follow that up with research. If it’s a historical I try to gather as much information about that time to form believable lives for the characters.

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Imari: Most of them do. I enjoyed developing Shakir’s character. I wanted to make him intelligent and independent instead of having him be just some pampered prince who is prosperous because of his family. I also wanted to make him sexy and arrogant.

Cate: What's next for you?
Imari: Right now I’m working on a fantasy novel that I hope to finish shortly. I’ve also developed two new vampire premises to follow the fantasy novel. Between May and July 2010 I have five books being published (“Pharaoh” with Siren Publishing, “Prophecy” with Eternal Press, “Something to be Thankful For” with Total E-Bound, “Hell and High Waters,” with MoonGypsy Press and “Bitter Fruit” (under a new pen name) with Phaze. I just signed a contract for a sixth one “Bayou Babe” with Sugar and Spice Press. I’m also working on the second book to follow “Death Takes a Holiday” and “In Love with a Dark Stranger.” So needless to say I will be very busy for the rest of the year.

Cate: Sounds like it - that's great! Any other published works?
Author: Yes, besides “Oasis” I’ve published a book called “Body Heat” with Sugar and Spice Press and they just contracted my book “Bayou Babe.” I’m included in several anthologies with Midnight Showcase Fiction (A Rose by Any Other Name, Love Never Dies, Damnation, Wet, Unwrapped Gifts and A Girl’s Best Friend) and in July they’re publishing “In Love with a Dark Stranger.” “Death Takes a Holiday” was originally published by Stardust Press and re-released by Carnal Desires Publishing.

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Imari: Funny, sexy and universal.

Cate: Very appealing! What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Imari: I think the most challenging aspect of writing is just finding the time to write. The most rewarding aspect is receiving an acceptance and a contract.

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Imari: The comment came from another writer after she read “A Christmas to Remember.” It was so cute. She said. “Girl you’re crazy.” For those of you who haven’t read it, “A Christmas to Remember” is about a heroine who has an addiction to sex toys and a hero who is a chronic masturbator. Neither one of them wants to admit that they have problems even though they visit a sex-therapist a couple of times a month and they think they have their problems hidden from their families. Unbeknownst to them their mothers are plotting to get the two of them together by Christmas. Hopefully it will be available again by this coming Christmas.

Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Imari: Anything Laurell Hamilton writes. I also love Candace Havens witch series, J. R. Ward, Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Of course I’ve read all of Charlaine Harris’ books, and right now I’m reading “A Quick Bite” by Lynsay Sands.

Cate: Where can you be found on the web?
Imari: I’m on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. I’m working on my Amazon page and I chat at most romance Yahoo groups. Readers can find me at my site: http://www.imarijade.com/

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Imari: In what form do you like to buy books, E-book downloads or print form?

Cate: Thanks for being my guest, Imari! Best of luck to you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Be a scavenger!

The Long and Short of It is having a Scavenger Hunt from March 29th – April 3rd! And I'm part of it!

To be eligible for a prize, scavengers are asked to email LASR to let them know which page my egg appears. Happy scavenging!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

More BBPCon highlights















Carrying on from yesterday...
The next session I listened to covered Publicity Departments. Reps from Tor Forge and Net Galley (an online source for ARCs and galleys) said blogs have come into play as key reviewers for books, and obviously arranging virtual book tours for authors.

As big newspapers minimize operations, among the first things to go are arts and leisure sections, which include book reviews, forcing publishers to look elsewhere. I’ve seen that locally, so no surprise. In fact, when I sent a local newspaper some info on Read an E-Book Week, along with some info about my own books, the newspaper turned it into a negative article against ebooks. Hm, could there be some bitterness there? The newspaper has a web presence, but its print edition has lost many advertising dollars, so it let key reporters go, and cut back features including — you guessed it — book features.

When you submit to a publisher, they will look at your blog and web site, so be sure your content is updated, and laid out well. Present your work as an author serious about your work. 1st Turning Point recently had a great article about important site elements.

Giveaways, author interviews, book blog tours contribute toward sales, but the panelists said they couldn’t quantify the value of any of those activities. Labeling by genre, interestingly, made a difference in whether a reader will buy a book. The same book sold differently when labeled speculative fiction versus scifi/fantasy. So a big hmm there. If you have any pull with your publisher and your title might span a few genres, it’s worth asking if they’ll cross-list the title.

Also, ease of navigation on the publishers’ site is crucial. Cumbersome arrangements and processes put off some readers.

Most other issues discussed followed pretty much as I expected. Nothing earthshaking there, though they stressed Twitter seems to be the most popular tool for getting the word out, and Facebook is where most authors congregate. MySpace, they said, is dead. Don’t go there.

The Business of Blogging covered what goes into making a blog profitable, how to make money. I skipped through this session, because it seemed geared more toward review and professional sites than for authors.

Caridad Pinero's Contracts for Authors session's key points followed common sense: Authors should read and understand the terms of a contract before signing it. In addition to the financial aspects, be sure the contract specifies how long a publisher can delay actually putting out your book before the rights revert back to you, how long the pub retains rights to the title.

BBPCon interviewed Borders buyer Sue Grimshaw, and this was offered as text within the Ning site. Borders launched its True Romance Blog came after romance writers and readers asked for it. Begun in August 2009, its hits range in the “double digit thousands.” So obviously, a great site to have an interview if you can get one!

Grimshaw foresees growth in small town romances, paranormal romances & Historical romances. She indicated a personal note that Westerns are making a small comeback -- good news for authors in that genre!

With so many other authors opening their sites to feature authors, do you need to hire a company to arrange a tour for you? For me, it seems to make more sense not to, especially if you’re only starting out and don’t want to invest too heavily before seeing a return. And are companies organizing author book tours aware that reader blogs play a more important part. I haven't worked with one, so would be interested to know.

As this recap has run long, I'm actually going to continue it next Monday, March 29, as I have a few other posts scheduled in between.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

BBPConference highlights


As I mentioned earlier, I signed up for the Authors Day of the Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference. Kudos to Terry Kate of Romance in the Backseat, who organized the innovative virtual event. Terry Kate’s a woman to watch! Since creating RITBS, she’s packed the site with amazing content, and reaches out to authors one on one.

Set up on a Ning site, the BBPCon offered panels in three formats: call-in, audio sessions via iTunes and text. Forums and chats were available so participants could interact, though these seemed limited to the day of the particular session, limiting interactivity.

Although the Authors Day was the last day of the conference, some of the earlier sessions were archived and I had access to them, which was great. Others didn’t play when I tried to listen, which was disappointing. Possibly a technical glitch, so I intend to check back, and hopefully the site will remain open awhile.

I listened to Friday’s audio session with Terry Kate and reps from Dorchester and Ravenous Romance (who was also an agent). This "Industry Bloggers" session lasted about an hour and a half, and provided info from a publisher/agent perspective.

Ravenous publishes 120 titles a year, and Dorchester publishes 60 a year. Both said blogs are just one more venue for information. Interestingly, Dorchester does not require authors to blog, and would prefer an author uncomfortable with blogging to better use their time promoting in other ways.



Because submissions have shifted to electronic means, both reps cautioned authors not to submit before doing your homework, to better target your submissions, and not waste your (or their) time. Both panelists agreed vampire stories have had their run. Shapeshifters and werewolves seem to be the next best thing. Zombies are also big, along with angels and demons. Ghosts are due for a run. So if you write to trends, those are the ones you should be writing in now.

Advertising has lost its impact. You can get a message across better through a blog and generate more interest than a print ad in a large newspaper. Banner ads have lost some impact, though certain sites with high traffic have success.
They recommended several sites for getting great industry info, such as GalleyCat and Publishers Weekly.

Ravenous Romance has begun using the Home Shopping Network to sell titles through, interestingly enough, and also has a deal in place now with Barnes and Noble to carry print titles. Exciting stuff! I love to see how this industry’s in constant evolution, and this is proof positive, to me, that ebook publishers will be as formidable in the industry as print pubs.

Not much else surprised me in this session. Blogs are obviously a great way for authors to get news out about their titles, they agreed. Also, blog commenting is a great way to be active in the authors’ community, but cautioned against promoting your own titles when commenting on another author’s blog (something I agree is distasteful, as is posting promos on another person’s Facebook wall. I remove those if it’s done to me, because that’s what your own wall is for, as well as the “events” function.)

So it seems blogs are basically a stream in an ocean of online information. Personally, I’d love to see more synthesis between all those myriad venues. I try to do that with my own news by posting it on my blog, which I then link to on Facebook, which is automatically set up to post to Twitter. I also have a Ning site, but so far have seen no real value in it, other than it's free and I used it as a pseudo web site until I built a real one. I have never quite figured out how to use it effectively, or use its features period.

I admit I haven't gotten the hang of Twitter yet either. It's definitely the last place I check for messages. Too many sites to check kill writing time, and I've tried to streamline as much as possible without sacrificing too much either way.

So. More tomorrow on BBPCon.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New review for Design for Life!

Two Lips Reviews gave Design for Life 4 Lips!

Here's what Sal, the reviewer, had to say, in part: "Ms. Masters created a heroine that was determined to see her dreams come true. Ms. Masters also gave the heroine a wonderful value system combined with supportive friends. Overall, Design For Life was a delightful read."

Thanks so much, Sal!

And You Gotta Read Videos included the book trailer for Design for Life in this month's contest!

I would love it if you would vote for #13 at http://yougottareadvideos.blogspot.com/.

Here is the trailer again. Because I dedicated this book to my own Becca, I included some of her high school sketches. My nephew Fred provided the incredible guitar music for this trailer too. And because it's part of The Flower Basket Series at The Wild Rose Press, I used photos of vividly colored flowers. (There's a method to the madness!)



Thanks for your support!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Diva day!

Diva days are so fun.
Today especially because my post addresses two topics: sisterhood and one of my favorite actors, Christopher Walken. No possible link there? Come find out... at Popculturedivas!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

JE Cammon in the Author Spotlight

It was summer of 2009 when I began sending off my first submissions of that first iteration of Bay City, which was then titled Carnival Masquerade, inside envelopes otherwise filled with hope. I know this because I still have the first emails attached to correspondences bound for the houses that accepted electronic submission: “Hello, this J E Cammon;” “I am very enthused to introduce my novel;” “I look forward to hearing from you.” I was a few years removed from college, a few months separated from finishing the first of the early drafts, and a few days distant from even naming the thing. I was naive, to quote Ellison.

So I guess it’s a bit strange to say that I’m a writer, and yet be unprepared to say something, anything, when given my opportunity to speak. Perhaps that’s the difference between the professions of orator and scribe. Maybe it’s me admitting how green I still am.  I think back to what specific advice would have helped me all those different times when I was struggling, or self-deprecating, or procrastinating, or disappointed, or frustrated.. And there’s no one answer, thinking back; I needed something different each time. So, I’ll just tell you about my experience, and maybe some of it will be useful to you.

During the months-long process that carried me from “Okay, I think maybe this is… done?” to “Congratulations, we’ve chosen to accept your submission” I learned something new almost every day. I was very fortunate to have been possessed of the drive to keep writing, on shorter things, longer things, and even related things, so that when I got the opportunity to work with a copy editor and a publishing editor, I was a better writer. When the novel was rejected the first time as a serials submission to an online magazine, I combed through it with the memorable criticisms ringing in my ears. Then, when that copy editor of the publisher that accepted it spoke with me, I did it again. And again when that version returned from the publishing editor. Those repetitions, moreover with better eyes, helped a lot, too.

I have each of those versions saved in multiple places, but it would be a lie to say that I go back often and look at each of them for their obvious differences. I keep the lessons close at hand, though, and I’m extremely grateful for each of them. A friend of mine once told me that many writers abhor their first books, spend hours obsessing over the mistakes they made at the beginnings of their careers, which stamp into stone characteristics and tendencies that they would be known for even as they matured and changed. And after I got over my fear of never being published, that worried me a little, too.

But it worries me much less now, and I’m happy that this effort wasn’t flippant or hasty, that I worked tirelessly on it until I felt it was the best that it could be. And maybe that’s how all those other authors felt as well, but if these past few years have taught me anything, it’s to not disregard the significance of the next step, the next page, the next word. Take care of that, and the rest will take care of itself.

Visit JE at:

Where Shadows Lie
A star fall's light briefly uncovers the obdurate mask of evening over a world that looks suspiciously like our own. What it illuminates is the underbelly of an eastern US seaport, and the creatures hiding beneath in an effort to understand, belong, and simply exist. Who is David, and why is he so far away from his clan? Before Nick, his only friend was a vampire named Jarvis, however Nick's only gift seems to be a curse: to bring change wherever he goes, so maybe he isn’t much of a friend.

Where the three disparate souls find secrets, and answers to their questions, they also find a volume of yet more mysteries and it's possible that by story's end, all of them will have wished they hadn't been present on the evening when everything changed irrevocably forever. Is it worth trading everything to the darkness to know anything? After all, shadows lie, but what's a supernatural creature to do when where shadows lie is home?

At a conference, but not away

Over the years, I've been to a few great conferences. Where else can writers break loose and really be themselves except with other writers? No one else listens to me gush about writing without their eyes glazing over. :)

Because the budget's been tight, I can't afford the real deal. This year, I opted for the virtual kind. I signed up for today's Author Day at Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference. The conference began a few days ago, actually.

Here's a video explaining how the online conference works:



The lineup of publishers includes some big names -- Simon and Schuster, Dorchester and Penguin in addition to some epubs I'm lucky enough to be associated with, such as The Wild Rose Press, Eternal Press and Freya's Bower/Wild Child Publishing.

So I'm looking forward to seeing how it all works. Not as exciting as the real thing, but definitely more affordable, and hopefully the resources will be as helpful.

Check back on Wednesday and Thursday for write-ups.


Friday, March 19, 2010

In the Author Spotlight: Mariposa Cruz

Cate: I'm pleased to welcome Mariposa Cruz to the Author Spotlight. Mariposa, will you please share a short bio with us?
Mariposa: Growing up in Northern California, I was either curled up with a paperback or hunched over a notebook writing a story. I live in Reno, Nevada with my teenage son and daughter and one fat cat. I work fulltime as a corporate paralegal.

Cate: Tell us about Howl and where it's available.
Mariposa: Howl is a paranormal romance set in Northern California. It is currently available from The Wild Rose Press.

Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Mariposa:
As if Kate Owens doesn't have enough problems as a struggling single mom and paralegal, a brutal animal attack outside her office plunges her into turmoil. At work, she is attracted to her rescuer, Jack Walker, an attorney wary of commitment. Every morning after the attack she awakes drenched in blood beside the body of a mangled stray. Kate's days become a battle to maintain control while her nights are a disturbing blur of dreams. Will Kate's nightly madness harm her young daughter?
Lone wolf attorney, Jack Walker understands the reason for his paralegal's exhaustion and haunted demeanor. Jack has pursued the beast since law school graduation and he knows the creature's relentless thirst for revenge. Can Jack save Kate from her attacker and her own savage nature?

Cate: Love that! What inspired you to write about the theme?
Mariposa: I started writing Howl shortly after we moved to Reno from Northern California. I longed for my own pack of friends and family back in California and that sense of isolation was reflected with Kate and Jack.

Cate: How do you develop your plots and characters?
Mariposa: I'm inspired by events and people in daily life. With shapeshifters, common problems like co-worker spats or that sudden craving before lunch takes on a whole different meaning.

Cate: :) Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Mariposa: My characters haven't haunted my dreams, but they often follow me throughout the day, especially on the drive home from work. It seems sometimes the right dialogue or scene comes to mind the moment I walk away from the computer.

Cate: What's next for you?
Mariposa: I'm currently working on a sequel to Howl and I suspect there are other characters in Haven with stories to tell.

Cate: Any other published works?
Mariposa: I've published short stories, parenting articles and creative non-fiction under my legal name. The past few years I've also written interviews and music reviews for a local weekly.

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Mariposa: Edgy, wry, sensual

Cate: Oo, I love that too. :) What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Mariposa: As a single mom to two active teens, my biggest challenge right now is time. Two of the most rewarding aspects about being a writer for me is discovering my characters and seeing the final results in print.

Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Mariposa:
“Ladies’ Own Erotica” The Kensington Ladies’ Erotica Society proves that nice girls can bring on the heat.
"The Wolf's Hour" by Robert McCammon--you have to love a Nazi-fighting werewolf.
I just finished “The People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks. All of her characters have an authentic voice no matter what time they’re from.

Cate: Where can you be found on the web?
Mariposa: My blog: http://mariposacruz.blogspot.com/

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Mariposa: What draws you to a particular character?

Cate: Thanks for being my guest, Mariposa! Best of luck with Howl.
Readers, let me hear you howl for Howl! :)