Archive for November, 2009

Susan Lyons Guest Blogs Tomorrow!

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Tomorrow Kensington Aphrodisia author Susan Lyons visits the blog. Susan’s blogging about Romancing the Librarian and will give away a copy of SEX DRIVE (December ’09), the first book in her new Wild Ride To Love series.

About SEX DRIVE:

Prof. Theresa Fallon’s ex-husband gave her good reason to swear off men. But when, on the flight from Sydney to Vancouver, she’s seated beside one of Australia’s ten sexiest bachelors, she has reason to question that decision. It’s a long flight, but thriller writer Damien Black has ways of making the hours fly by! From there, it’s not all that big a step to enjoying a stopover together in romantic Honolulu. For the cynical Theresa and the far-too-experienced Damien, this journey is a special one. To their mutual surprise, they’re on a wild ride to love!

“Ms. Lyons gives readers characters you can relate to, genuine emotional context and undeniable passion wrapped up in a compelling storyline that leaves you eagerly anticipating her next release.” – Romance Junkies

About Susan:

lyons_pic

Award-winning author Susan Lyons is a Pacific Northwester with homes in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. She has degrees in law and psychology, and has had a variety of careers, including perennial student, computer consultant, and legal editor. Fiction writer is by far her favorite, giving her an outlet to demonstrate her belief in the power of love, friendship, and a sense of humor.

She writes sexy contemporary romance that’s passionate, heartwarming and fun, and is published by Kensington Aphrodisia, Kensington Brava (writing as Susan Fox), Berkley Heat, Harlequin Spice Briefs, The Wild Rose Press, and Freya’s Bower. Her books have won Booksellers Best Awards, the Aspen Gold, the Golden Quill, the More Than Magic, the Lories, and the Beacon, and she was a nominee for the 2009 RT Reviewers Choice Award.

Visit Susan’s website at www.susanlyons.ca for excerpts, book videos, discussion guides, behind-the-scenes notes, reviews, recipes, articles, contests, give-aways, and other fun stuff.

Tweet Fail

Friday, November 27th, 2009

I’ve installed a (supposedly) cool Twitter plug-in for WordPress called Tweetmeme that (supposedly) allows me or a blog reader to easily tweet my blog posts. You can see the icon at the bottom of each blog (it says “tweet” on a green background that magically matches my color scheme—honest, I didn’t adjust it! It came that way).

The problem? I can’t get the plug-in to work. Whenever I try to tweet a post, I get the error, “Failed to resolve URL for tweet.” In my usual ignoramus way, I have no idea what this means. I’m contacting Someone Far Wiser in hopes they have the answer. But because they are SFW, they probably didn’t encounter this issue on their own blog and I’m probably SNAFU’ed. But what else is new?

In my defense, this is the first plug-in I’ve ever installed. Maybe I screwed up (noooo, can’t be!).

I just upgraded my WordPress. Maybe Tweetmeme hasn’t caught up yet.

So, if you want to tweet one of my blog posts, click on the green “tweet” button at the bottom of the post in question and give it a whirl. If it doesn’t work, blame your Thanksgiving turkey. Even if his name isn’t Vincent.

If you’re reading this post in the far future and don’t see the cute little green “tweet” button, that’s because I could never get it to work and gave up.

If you’re reading this post in the far past and don’t see the cute little green “tweet” button, that’s because I hadn’t installed it yet! So no time-traveling for you, my dear blog readers, or this post won’t make sense.

UPDATE: Saturday a.m. I was able to tweet a blog post today, so I’m no longer SNAFU’ed. Not sure what I did right this morning that I did wrong yesterday. That it was tweeted isn’t showing up on the icon, but that doesn’t matter. I’m going for efficiency here.

Harlequin Horizons Is No More…Sort Of

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Harlequin Horizons is now known as DellArte Press. While I haven’t had time to fully explore either the DellArte website or eHarlequin for evidence, apparently there is no longer any mention of Harlequin on the DellArte website, and there is no mention of DellArte on the Harlequin website. Excellent!

I haven’t heard any news about whether Harlequin form rejection letters will still steer rejected writers to DellArte, as was the original intention with Horizons… Let’s hope not.

How did the corporation arrive at the new name for their vanity publishing venture? Obviously, I can’t speak for HQ/TorStar, but if you search DellArte on the ‘Net, you’ll find references to “Commedia dell’arte,” Italian improvisational theater stretching from the 16th century later referred to as the Harlequinade. The Harlequin (or Arlechinno) is listed as a comic servant character in this form of theater. A graphic of the harlequin is also a Harlequin logo and appears on every Harlequin category romance (just the Harlequins, not the Silhouettes). He’s the little jester guy in the white diamond on the cover and spine.

The DellArte website still refers to their services as “self-publishing.” In another area, they call it “assisted self-publishing.” Granted, “vanity publishing” doesn’t sound very good. “Predator publishing” (which authors on some loops have suggested would make a better fit) sounds worse (for HQ).

Frankly, if HQ decides against referring heartbroken writers to DellArt in Harlequin/Silhouette rejection letters, I’ll be happy. Predator/vanity/assisted self-publishing has been around for decades (centuries?). Contrary to what some vanity publishing websites would have browsers believe, it is not a new concept. I first heard of vanity publishing back in 1979 (I know, hard to believe I could learn such things while still in the womb, but that’s what brilliance will get you). I think the “new” in the concept is that clever websites can appeal to a writer’s ego and reinforce the myth that most writers pay to have their work published, which is not the case. Back in 1979, it wasn’t anywhere near as easy to obtain information on how to get published as it is now. Therefore, there wasn’t as much misinformation floating around, either.

Not that I wish for pre-Internet days…

I admit that during this whole debacle I couldn’t help but wonder if including the Harlequin name in the “assisted self-publishing” venture wasn’t a clever P.R. move to obtain lots and lots and lotsa press. With a back-up plan that if the crud hit the windmill they could do just what they have—remove the Harlequin name from the venture. Meanwhile, all the publicity is still out there, and “the only bad publicity is no publicity,” as they say.

Thoughts?

Tell You Tuesday

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Hah, tricked you with the title change, didn’t I? Usually it’s Tell ME Tuesday.

You can go ahead and tell me, anyway. How’s the writing going? Life? Any good news/bad news to report?

After the blogging kerfuffle of last week, I needed a little break. Pretty much waiting to hear what’s next from Horizons Vs. RWA. Plus, I had the H1N1 shot yesterday. It wasn’t a bad experience, but it did make me feel slightly lethargic. I took advantage of my brain-deadness to do something that makes me feel even more braindead—compiling a fiscal year end for delivery to our accountant. No sense wasting the H1N1 glow on something ambitious like writing.

Last night I watched the Thanksgiving episode of Dexter for a second time. dexterMy Liege had an early Sunday night, so I watched it myself then. All I can say is, “Wowzer!” The way this season started out, I thought, “Ho hum, another serial killer introduced in the form of Trilogy, Dexter will be trying to figure out a way to get rid of him without revealing the monster within throughout the whole season, and then he’ll succeed.” But the Thanksgiving episode contained a number of Wowzers!, the little switcheroo at the ending being the best one. I thought I knew what was going to happen at the end of the episode…that Trinity would begin a new killing cycle with J’s new girlfriend. Did not see the twist coming at all.

Still waiting for the onion that is Rita to be peeled. I have theories that drive Youngest Son nuts. “Not everyone on the show has to turn out to have some sort of psycho past, Mom.” Sure, but Rita’s gotta have a darn compelling reason to act like a Stepford Wife. I swear, the voice alone drives me insane.

third3aOn a side note, is anyone getting flashbacks to Dick from Third Rock from the Sun while watching John Lithgow as Trinity? I keep expecting that guy who could talk to the Big Giant Head to show up…

Harlequin Horizons, Part Two

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Wow, a lot happened yesterday. Not only did Romance Writers of America inform Harlequin/Silhouette that they were no longer on RWA’s list of eligible publishers (which get perks like meeting space for Spotlights and book signings and for offering editor appointments) as a result of opening a vanity publishing division and putting the Harlequin name on it, but Mystery Writers of America and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America stepped in, too. Author Jackie Kessler provided a breakdown of the Horizons press release on her blog. Here’s a link to her post yesterday, Harlequin Horizons Versus RWA. If you’re considering submitting to ANY vanity publisher, I encourage you to read it. It’s very, very important for a writer to educate herself about the multitude of, um, opportunities available in publishing today.

In her post, Jackie points out:

Vanity presses hurt authors. The rule of thumb is money flows **toward** the author. Period. Authors should not have to pay to get their books published — they should be paid for their work. If authors choose to self-publish, they damn well should get 100% of the profits, because they have paid for everything up front.

With vanity presses, money flows TOWARD the press FROM the writer. The press keeps some of the royalties, too. This differs from true self-publishing where the writer pays all the expenses to publish her book but also retains ALL the profits.

If a writer decides to publish her work through a vanity press, that’s her choice. But educate yourself first. Make SURE this is the option you want to take, when there are so many other options available, such as true self-publishing, or, hey about this one—continuing to hone your craft and submitting to advance and/or royalty paying publishers that don’t require you to contribute a dime toward the publication of your work.

Back to RWA and Harlequin Horizons. RWA pulled the hard line and removed Harlequin from their list of eligible publishers yesterday. Harlequin responded and is now going to remove the Harlequin name from the Horizons venture. Agent Kristin Nelson printed the Harlequin letter to its authors in its entirety on her blog. Here’s a snippet of that letter:

Most importantly, however, we have heard the concerns that you, our authors, have expressed regarding the potential confusion between this venture and our traditional business. As such, we are changing the name of the self-publishing company from Harlequin Horizons to a designation that will not refer to Harlequin in any way. We will initiate this process immediately.

Jackie Kessler then breaks down that letter on her blog in a post called The Day After: Harlequin Blinks. If you’re looking for a crash course in the Horizons, um, journey, this is another good post to read. Read Harlequin Horizons Versus RWA first.

I am proud of RWA for taking a hard line with Horizons. They have taken a hard line with small publishers when those publishers have chosen to open new lines or divisions that don’t meet the requirements for an RWA-eligible publisher, so it only makes sense to me that they would take a hard line with a major publisher, too. I can’t say that I had every confidence that the RWA board WOULD take a hard line. Because I didn’t. I was pleasantly surprised. Hurrah for the new RWA board.

I am glad the Harlequin name will no longer be associated with Horizons. However, I am still unhappy about the possibility of Harlequin rejection letters pointing rejected writers TO Horizons as an avenue for publishing their books. I personally don’t see how retaining this option will get H/S back onto the list of RWA-eligible publishers.

Stay tuned!

Harlequin Enters Vanity Publishing Arena

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Last week, Harlequin announced the opening of a digital publishing division, Carina Press. This week, it’s vanity publishing via Harlequin Horizons. When I first heard the news about Horizons, I went all Bill the Cat. bill-the-cat

What is vanity publishing, you ask? Basically, it’s when a writer pays a third party entity to print their book. Packages vary. Those at Harlequin Horizons start at $599.99. And then they climb. Climb. Climb. Climb. A vanity publisher usually retains some of the royalties (profits – in the case of Harlequin Horizons, they retain 50%), and pretty much anyone who wants to get published through this route can. There’s no slush pile in which to languish. No editorial hoops to jump through, etc. You can put your novel out there in all its typo-laden glory.

Self-publishing is often equated with vanity publishing, but differs in that the writer pays all the expenses and receives all the profits. The writer even obtains their own ISBN. There’s still no slush pile in which to languish. Still no editorial hoops to jump through—just your own. You’re in total control. You’re still paying to publish your book.

In traditional publishing (ie. Harlequin Enterprises aside from Horizons), the author doesn’t pay a dime. The publisher takes the monetary risk, does the editing, does the cover art, does the distribution. The author writes the books and earns her paychecks from (a) advances and/or (b) royalties.

Those are my definitions, and I’ll be the first to admit that until I started reading about Horizons on-line I didn’t truly understand the differences between self-publishing and vanity publishing. However, there are arguments for self-publishing that I could see myself totally agreeing with (such as an established author self-publishing an out-of-print back list for which she/he has received back the rights), whereas vanity publishing of novels in particular has never sat right with me. Vanity publishing of your family history? Of your favorite recipes to give as Christmas gifts? That I can totally see. But it doesn’t seem a viable way for a novelist to make a profit off her writing. The vanity publisher—oh, yeah, they’ll make a profit. 😉 To them, it’s a business.

The news of Harlequin’s vanity publishing venture has sparked some spirited discussions on-line, among them this thread at Smart Bitches Love Trashy Books and this one at Absolute Write (scroll down after you click the link). And my writers’ loops are hopping!

What does this mean for the future of publishing? For the struggling unpublished writer? Would you pay to get your book published? Would you harbor hope that if you published your book through Horizons and miraculously earned great sales that HQ’s traditional publishing arm would pick up your work?

You might not, but there are plenty of writers who would. Writers who expect to pay to publish their novels. Writers who might not understand that, in traditional print and digital publishing, you don’t pay!

I must say, I am pleased that the new RWA board has acted so quickly in response to the opening of Horizons. At this point, it doesn’t look like Harlequin/Silhouette will have an official presence at next summer’s RWA National conference in Nashville. Of course, that doesn’t mean Harlequin/Silhouette can’t be there. There are other ways a publisher can make their presence known at a conference—booking their own meeting spaces to disseminate information and take queries, for example.

Thoughts?

Welcome Guest Blogger Diana Cosby

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

CONcosby_picGRATULATIONS ON ACHIEVING YOUR DREAM—NOW WHAT?

Many people chase their dreams, and along the way, through hard work and perseverance, some achieve their goals.  When this happens, it’s an amazing time.  This event should be celebrated and savored as you can never replace that ‘first time’ magic when it happens in your life.

But, once you achieve your dream, what now?  Do you have a plan of action prepared?  A budget?  Will your strategy and marketing be time intensive?  Do you understand how the business end of whatever goal you are pursuing works?  What about industry contacts = networking?

cosby_captiveFar from trying to worry or deter anyone from striving to achieve their dream, my questions are to instill a shot of reality into the dream-focused mind.  It’s easy to become caught up on that idea of being a rising star.  Realistically, once you achieve your goal, the magic wand that keeps that dream alive is you, and once again, sustained by your hard work, business savvy and perseverance.  To help you, here are some tips:

1.  Learn from the pros: Why reinvent the wheel:  Select people who have achieved the dream you’re targeting.  Take notes on what they’re doing, read what they say when they are interviewed, or if possible, talk to them.  If someone has a solid game plan in the area of expertise you’re shooting for, tailor their plan of action to your strengths.

2.  Budget: As with anything, there’s a cost to keeping your dream alive.  Gather expense information through whatever sources available and understand the monetary layout you are facing once your dream is a reality.  Custom the expenses to fit your budget.  If you need a credit card, to incorporate, or have other business end ideas, before your dream arrives is the best time to research and understand exactly what you’ll need to have in place when that special moment arrives.

cosby_woman3.  Time management: Once you sell, the demand for your time escalates, and the proportion depends on the needs of your dream and you.  In addition to basic dream survival, there are options to appear on blogs, radio, TV, you can write articles, choose on-line networking and numerous other venues.  It’s important to manage your time wisely, to choose projects best related to your strengths.  Example:  If you enjoy teaching, give workshops, on-line classes or talk at public venues.

4.  Networking: I can’t express how ultra-important solid networking is.  A good business contact can make all of the difference in the world.  Be sincere in cultivating relationships.  And, if you can, help someone else out.

The best defense in any situation, including your dreams, is a solid offense.  So, start now to plan for your success.  Then, the day your dream comes true, rather than being reactive and flounder, open your tailored plan and soar.

Thank you very much for stopping by.  I’m always interested in hearing what others do as they work to achieve their goals.  What is your strategy in achieving your dreams?

***

Please leave a comment to enter to win a copy of your choice of either HIS CAPTIVE or HIS WOMAN. To read the back cover blurbs for both books and to learn more about Diana, please visit yesterday’s post. And make sure to check out Diana’s website!

Diana Cosby Guest Blogs Tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Kensington historical romance author Diana Cosby is visiting the blog tomorrow to talk about Congratulations on Achieving Your Dream—Now What? Diana’s giving away a copy of your choice of HIS CAPTIVE or HIS WOMAN, Books 1 and 2 in her MacGruder Brothers medieval romance adventure series. Book 3 (Seathen and Linet’s story) releases in late 2010 and Book 4 releases in 2011. Now’s your chance to pick up one of the first two in the series and get caught up on your reading.

Back Cover Copy for HIS CAPTIVE:

With a wastrel brother and a treacherous former fiancé, Lady Nichola Westcott hardly expects the dangerously seductive Scot who kidnaps her to be a man of his word. Though Sir Alexander MacGruder promises not to hurt her, Nichola’s only value is as a pawn to be ransomed.

Alexander’s goal is to avenge his father’s murder, not to become entangled with the enemy. But his desire to keep Nichola with him, in his home—in his bed—unwittingly make her a target for those who have no qualms about shedding English blood.

Now Nichola is trapped—by her powerful attraction to a man whose touch shakes her to the core. Unwilling and unable to resist each other, can Nichola and Alexander save a love that has enslaved them both?

Back Cover Copy for HIS WOMAN:

Lady Isabel Adair is the last woman Sir Duncan MacGruder wants to see again, much less be obliged to save. Three years ago, Isabel broke their engagement to become the Earl of Frasyer’s mistress, shattering Duncan’s heart and hopes in one painful blow. But Duncan’s promise to Isabel’s dying brother compels him to rescue her from those determined to bring down Scottish rebel Sir William Wallace.

Betraying the man she loved was the only way for Isabel to save her father, but every moment she spends with Duncan reminds her just how much she sacrificed. No one could blame him for despising her, yet Duncan’s misgivings cannot withstand a desire that has grown wilder with time. Now, on a perilous journey through Scotland, two wary lovers must confront both the enemies who will stop at nothing to hunt them down, and the secret legacy that threatens their passion and their lives…

About Diana:cosby_pic

U.S. Navy Chief Meteorologist/Oceanographer, Diana Cosby, an award-winning international author, began her last tour in the military by re-enlisting on the back of a camel in Tangier, Africa. With 32 moves and an incredible career, she decided to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met over the years. Her years of living in Europe influenced her decision to write in the medieval time frame, hence the MacGruder brothers were born.

For more information about Diana and her books, please visit her website.

Life Can Be A PITN

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Literally.

I put my neck out on Friday. No, I wasn’t bungee-jumping or doing gymnastics or painting the ceilings. I was, um, waking up.

I turned my head too quickly the wrong way, and pop, ouch, squeal. There I was, not even out of bed yet and down for the count.

Luckily, I had my bi-monthly (that does mean twice a month, doesn’t it?) massage therapy appointment scheduled for the afternoon. I quickly put in a call for a chiro appointment. The chiro couldn’t even move my neck, although he gave me a nice adjustment of a trouble spot that had been plaguing me since Wednesday and which probably led to the neck trouble. The massage was great, but did more for my back than my neck, because my life is also a PITA.

Literally.

I’ve been walking like a duck since childhood (or like a ballet dancer, take your pick). Then in high school I hurt my right knee in a production of Oklahoma! (I know, weird, right? Let’s just say it involved a wagon wheel back stage and a cast member who was taking “Break a Leg” too literally). Since The Knee Incident, I’ve been slightly hobbled, and apparently it’s affected my gait. Factor in a major car accident when Youngest Son was 11 months old, and an abusive need to (try and) run Allie McBeagle two or three times a week…well, my gimpy right knee/right hip means my massage therapist needs to take care of my PITA every couple weeks, too.

Over the weekend, the neck has relaxed some. But it’s still not great. If I would just lie in front of the TV for three days, all would be fine. Or so my mother tells me. Apparently, back in the day, when you put out your back or your neck, you rested for three days, and voila! you got fixed.

Now we’re too busy to rest for three whole long days. At least I am. If I could convince myself not to do any activities that exacerbate my problem, I might not keep finding myself in pain. But that would mean not using the computer, not writing, not painting the house when it needs it, not walking and running the dog, etc., etc. It would mean sitting there like a lump. Not for me.

I’m Either Boring Or A Promo Whiz

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Sooooooooo, the other day while I was exploring my web host in search of stats, I came across the top 16 search strings for the month of November (so far) that would lead to my website.

What’s a search string, you ask? For the sake of those who don’t know, it’s the words or phrase that a person might type into the search window of their favorite search engine (like Google, for example). Then you get a list of clickable websites.

Every so often I visit another author’s blog where she lists the hilarious search results leading to her website. Mine ain’t so hilarious. But I’m glad to see that the—ta-da—number 1 phrase in my Top 16 Search Strings is…”muse interrupted blog.” Which means the majority of my visitors are looking for me via my blog name. In fact, 26.67% of browsers, to be exact.

Here’s the Top 16:

  1. muse interrupted blog (26.67% – excellent!)
  2. site:cindyprocter-king.com (16.67% – excellent. And Procter is spelled correctly—bonus!)
  3. muse interrupted (13.33% – excellent again!)
  4. ada marie finkel (say what? I don’t know this person. Also, note, from this point on every search string drops to 3.33% of searches)
  5. author of war with grampa (I am an author, my dead grampa—and that’s how I spell it—was in WWI, so this search string makes sense)
  6. be there or not be there movie (????)
  7. cindy procter king (yay, Procter is spelled correctly again! Although the hyphen is missing.)
  8. cindy proctor king blog donna russo morin (Procter is spelled wrong—booooooo!—but I do have a blog and I have hosted author Donna Russo Morin as a guest)
  9. danielle chiotti romantic suspense (Danielle is an agent I must have mentioned in a blog post at some point)
  10. golden heart contest (makes sense, seeing as I’ve finaled in the Golden Heart, I have a group blog with other GH finalists, and I have an article about entering the GH in my site archives)
  11. how to remove mal occhio (I have no freaking idea why this search string would lead to my website! I don’t even know what mal occhio is, although it sure doesn’t sound good)
  12. if i final in the golden heart will i have a chance to revise m (I’m assuming the rest of the word is manuscript, and my answer to the question is…it seems to vary from year to year. The year I finaled, 2007, no, we were not given the chance to fiddle with our fulls. I do believe it’s a rare year that you are given the opportunity to submit an updated version of your full, if, in fact, it EVER occurs)
  13. kates new cover (we all know how obsessive I am about posting news for Kate St. James, although we can’t figure out why)
  14. kelly fitzpatrick author (no idea why Kelly’s name leads to my blog)
  15. old wallboard (I’ve used this phrase in an article or post about my office)
  16. yip yap yahooey (a “Cindyism,” so this last one makes sense, too.)

There you have it.

If you have a hankering to dig up your own search strings, let me know about it and I’ll pop over to your blog and take a look. I’m pretty sure the fact that my top 3 searches are variations on my author name or blog name is because I posted to one of my loops recently asking people to see if they could reach my blog (see Monday’s post for why). I provided the link within the email, but maybe they found it easier to plug the blog name into a search engine.

Or maybe I really am a promo whiz!