Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ipad Contest Hint #1

This is the first tip to winning the Ipad contest coming September 1st 2011. Yes it's a ways off, but that gives you plenty of time to prepare!

In preparing though, you need to be on top of ALL the hints I'm going to dole out over the summer months. So my first hint/tip is to be a follower of my blog, which is super easy. If you already are, YAY! If you aren't, get on it. It would surely suck rotten apples (pun intended) if you missed out on an Ipad because you missed out on a single blog post. :D

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Keyboards Hate Writers

Yes, it's true, Keyboards must HATE writers, or perhaps, my keyboard just hates me. Writers are constantly all over them, poking them,smashing them when the computer freezes up (like it's the keyboards fault somehow), and even spilling food on them in order to multi-task as we write an idea while eating breakfast.

Maybe that last one is just me though.

Really I am super hard on my keyboard and I have proof.

1.When I tip my keyboard upside down, crumbs from a multitude of breakfast toasts tumble out, I suspect that isn't good for the keyboards overall health.

2. My keys are literally wearing off. Primarily the "E", "R", "S", and "A" on my PC and when you add in the worn keys from my laptop there is also the "T" and "N".

3.I let my hubby use the computer and keyboard and he plunks at the keys one at a time, bringing his finger down at speed from a height of about 2 feet, just to make sure the computer registers what it is he's trying to type.

Those, I believe are the reasons behind the hatred, but what about you, how do you abuse your keyboard?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Surprise! A contest of Epic Porportions!

Because I'm not very good at keeping a surprise in one piece till the moment I'm supposed to spring it, I'm going to give all of you a teaser.

In a relatively short time, actually, by September 1st 2011, I will be having a contest where the prize is . . . get ready for it . . . AN IPAD!

Over the next couple of months I will be putting out hints here and there as to how you can prepare yourself to win your very own, brand new, still wrapped in plastic, shiny, cool, Ipad.

I will tag all "hint" posts with "Ipad contest hint" so you can check out them out in case you miss one.

So I hope you all pay attention, follow the hints and when the time comes, enter, enter, enter yourself to win!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Promotion vs Scaring People off

Promoting yourself is a necessity, something that every good little writer must do whether they want to or not. Some use Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, a blog, a website or a variety of other social media sites that they can put their name and their book beside it. But that is not what this blog is about.

When is too much promoting doing more harm than good? As in, you’re tweeting about your new book, blog or contest every hour for the entire time you’re awake and you wonder why you don’t sell more, get more followers or get more entrants. I think the reason is simple, when we over promote ourselves, we start to sound . . um . . desperate. Last I checked, desperation never sold a single book.

What to do though when you need to get the word out, but are afraid to turn people off? Well, first off, interact with people, don’t just pitch them. There are people I follow on Twitter that I never see any tweets EXCEPT those aimed at me buying their book. Guess what, I’ve never gone to any of those sites. I go to buy the books of those authors who take a little time to talk, share and interact. Those who've taken the time to promote not just their book(s), but who they are as well. Secondly, it’s okay to promote yourself, we all expect it, but try to keep tweets like, “Hey! Check out my new thriller/YA/fantasy/erotica for a limited time!” to a minimum.

Here is what a few of my Twitter friends had to say on the subject.

@Tanisharule Several times a day is okay as long as every tweet is not a shameless plug.

@jaimecallahan When it's the only thing you tweet about or if you mention the same thing (like a blog entry) more than 2-3 times a day.

@lisajanicecohen Too often is when most your tweets are about yourself, or RTs of what someone says about you, or links to your own content.

Siri_Paulson Oh, and too often = more than a couple times a day. Maybe a bit more leeway if you tweet a lot.

So there you have it. Promote yourself, absolutely. Every freaking post, tweet or status? Not unless you want to scare your potential audience away.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Interview with zombie guru Jesse Petersen

First of all I want to thank Jesse for coming on my wee little blog and sharing some of her writing experience with the rest of us who are still working on the journey!

1. Jesse, how long have you been writing?

I started writing full-time in 1999, though I'd always wanted to be a writer. Luckily I had a supportive spouse with a good job who wanted me to follow that dream. I sold books under a different name in a very different genre for years, but then I got the idea for the "Living With the Dead" series and was very excited that readers have been very enthusiastic!

2. Has it always been zombies for you or is there another monster(s) you'd like to write about?

I really love zombies. I suppose if I had an idea for some other monster I would write it. It's all about a story that interests me and works.

3. Have you ever done like Stephen King and scare yourself so badly with your writing you couldn't sleep at night?

I write with a funny, sarcastic, snarky tone. So I don't scare myself very often.

4. What's the best thing you've ever done for yourself as an author to help you with your writing and selling of your books?

Really, authors have very little control over what happens to a book once it goes out. I just try to write the best books I can and see what happens. I'm now independently publishing some work, too and I do like that I can instantly see my sales and try to tailor my promotions based on what I'm seeing as sales go up or level off.

5. How long did it take you to find your agent and sell your Married with Zombies to a publisher?

I already had an agent when I wrote MARRIED WITH ZOMBIES. Actually she encouraged me to finish it as she thought it was sellable. It was about 2-3 weeks from when it went out to when it sold. There was an auction, it was very exciting.

6. Would you ever consider doing as so many traditionally published authors are and going to an e-book format and self publish?

That's exactly what I'm doing now. EAT SLAY LOVE comes out from Orbit, which is awesome and I love them. Then in August, I'm releasing IN THE DEAD: Volume 1, a collection of short stories set in the same world as the Living With the Dead series, but not following the same couple (Sarah and David). I'm also independently publishing under my other name. I am just in love with publishing this way. I think there are huge advantages to it (and of course there are many advantages to traditionally publishing, too.

7. What do you think the next big trend will be in the urban fantasy/horror genre?

I don't really worry about trends. I write what interests me and what excites me. Especially now that I'm self-publishing, I just don't have to think about "the next big thing" as much.

8. What's the best piece of advice you could give to up coming authors?

Write a lot, edit a lot, learn a lot and don't jump the gun when it comes to submitting to traditional publishers or deciding to publishing themselves. A good, strong book is your best advocate as a writer, both to editors/ agents and readers.

For more about Jesse and her Zombies, be sure to check out her website,

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kissing Couple Sparks Ideas

Here I am at my writers retreat when the subject of the kissing couple in the Vancouver Riot came up. The story spun out about how the young man was protecting the girl, and kissed her to help her stay calm.

Of course, this started us writers speculating on if that was the truth. What if he, the young man, was really an army guy home on leave and he saw this girl and saved her life? The romance authors in the group took this idea and ran full tilt with it. The couple was going to battle their way through the riot, pausing only for brief moments for a passionate embrace or two, their families having started the riot to keep them apart yet only succeeded in bringing them closer as they survived the craziness.

The fantasy authors gave it a different spin. More of an Edward and Bella, Twilightesque plot line. He couldn't resist her even though he should, she was a werewolf destined to shapeshift, he was a bounty hunter who should have killed her in the chaos of the riots but couldn't pull the trigger. Instead he found himself in her arms.

The mystery authors in the group quickly got in on the action, she was a private investigator, he was the man she was following, suspect of running a drug cartel. In the writhing mass of humanity she thinks she sees him slip a package to a police officer and tries to get a closer look. The officer spins, slamming her to the ground with his shield and her mark unexpectedly covers her body with his own, silencing her questions with a kiss.

The plot lines went on and on, but what I'd like to know is what story would you give the kissing couple?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Running away from the world to Write!

Although it's great to write from home, there are lots of distractions, people, pets, laundry, and the list goes on. These distractions take us away from the flow of words and ideas and can sometimes even kill the muse. (My muse HATES cleaning and promptly leaves when I must scrub the toilet.)

Tomorrow is the start of our writer's group 2nd annual retreat. Four days and three nights of nothing but writing, writing, writing! Last year was amazing, I was able to read and edit an entire novel (95k words). Not to mention becoming totally inspired and letting that carry me through the next few months. Others were able to pump out their first short stories, near completion on sequels and wrap up niggling ideas into cohesive outlines.

One of the moments at the retreat that took me by surprise was the sheer energy a small group of like minded individuals brought together. More was accomplished within that short period than many had otherwise experienced.

If you go on no other vacation this year and you are a creator of the written word, music, art or any other muse driven craft, I highly recommend finding a few close friends who can go with you, respect your space and watch the creative energy flow!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Wrench in a Writer's Tool Box

The question I pose is, cliffhangers, do they work for you or not? I personally LOVE a good cliffhanger, one that has me on the edge of my seat, screeching with excitement because I can hardly wait for the next book/chapter/movie.

But of course, there is a downside too. The cliffhangers that are plopped in and then the next book/chapter/movie doesn't satisfactorily answer the question/climax. Or worse than that is when you can't get the next book/chapter/movie for some reason. The publisher takes two years per book, the author didn't want to write anymore or the blockbuster movie house goes bankrupt. This list could go on and on.

My feeling is that if they, cliffhangers, are written and used well, they can be a great tool in your writer's box of tricks. I, for one, will be using this technique for a series of novella's I'm working on and look forward to the reactions the cliffhanger moments draw from readers. I planned this series specifically so I COULD use cliffhangers. :)

What are your thoughts on the use of this particular technique? Love it, hate it or can't be bothered to bother with it?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Making the damn Book trailer thingy

I decided last week that I would make my own book trailer. I've made power points before so it shouldn't be that much different, right? I can't afford a $2000 professional jobby so I must do it myself. With the popularity of book trailers and their effectiveness in selling books, this seemed like a good idea.Here's what I've learned so far, it ain't much but maybe it will help out someone else just starting to make their own trailer.

Hmm. First of all, I have to find music, music that I can buy and legally use on the trailer. This took several days of cursing and grumping as the music I wanted couldn't be found and when I finally did find it, EXPENSIVE! Like $150 for a 4 minute song. All because of a little thing called licencing. Sheesh!

What I've discovered is a site called Audio Jungle. It's where composers can go and put up their original work and you can purchase it for a minimum cost. I paid $13 for the song I chose and I actually like it better than the original song I had picked out. Happy day and we're off to the races.

Next comes pictures. Again I struggled and cursed only to find that no matter where I went, if I wanted good quality pictures and videos, I was going to have to pay for them. Voila, iStockphoto seems to have a good selection, not too high of price and it's fairly easy to navigate.

Now I just have to mash the music and pictures together, hopefully with a computer program I already have. . .I'll get back to you on how that goes.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

How I knew the Canucks Lost

This is a foray into family that I don't often do here on my blog, but this was just too funny not to share.

My father is an avid hockey fan and the Canucks are his team. Me and my hubby, not so much, but we've now seen a foolproof sign that will tell us when the Canucks have lost a game.

Last night after the 8-1 loss to Boston, we stepped out on our back deck to a sight we've never seen before.

My 71 year old, short and stout father was standing in front of his chicken coop, yelling at the chickens while he stomped around shaking his fist.

Chicken yelling = A Canucks loss.

I hope this made your day, as it sure as heck made mine. :D

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with Mystery Author . . . Jim Miller

I had the pleasure of interviewing a debut mystery author in person, Mr. Jim Miller in regards to his novel, Mined Your Own Business. Set in the 1960’s, a rebel named Rabbi Hawkins stumbles across dead bodies, buried treasure and a conspiracy that only he can uncover. A fast paced read with a great hook, I couldn’t wait to interview Jim and see what he had to say about his debut novel.

Miller was born on the Isle of Man and moved to Canada with his family when he was a wee lad of eight years old. Writing is not a new passion for Jim, “Always been a writer,” was his response when I asked him how long he’d been at the word smithing. Being published at 14 in the library newsletter in Willowdale (which is the north end of Toronto) only cemented his passion for the written word and put him on a lifelong path of telling stories.

Since that time Jim has pursued his writing in between being an army and family man, travelling all over the country and even spending time overseas in Germany.

I asked Jim how much his writing reflected his own time in the army seeing as the main character in Mined Your Own Business, Rabbi Hawkins, is a rebel. He told me what one of his compatriots said to him, “You’re a rebel, you always have been and you always will be.” This was confirmed by Jim’s wife Bev as she dropped in on the interview, despite Miller’s insistence to the contrary.

Influenced by a wide range of authors, a few of which are Robert B Parker, PG Wodehouse, Rex Stout and Tom Sharpe. All who have similar styles of writing as Miller with either a smart ass mystery detective at the center of their stories or a healthy dose of humour.

When asked to give advice to upcoming authors, Miller had this to say. “If you’re going to be a writer and you have this compulsion to write, then you’re going to write. And if you want to be published, sooner or later you have cross the wall from writing for yourself to writing for the world. Eventually you have to do that, you may as well do it sooner than later.”

Next up for Jim Miller is two short stories, Soldiers are not always Nice and Bayonet, Bayonet, whose got the Bayonet? These two should be available in the next 4 months if all goes smooth in the publishing business . . .

Leave a comment telling us about your favourite mystery moment, movie or book and you’ll be entered to win an e-book copy of Jim Miller’s book, Mined Your Own Business.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Avoiding the Agent's Wastebasket

This is a simple tip for your writing, one that can keep you from the crash and burn pile of an agent/editors desk.

Read the following paragraph and tell me what's wrong.

It seemed like a good plan, a solid plan, one that would solve a lot of problems. But I wasn't entirely sure it would work, even though it was my plan. The others were not supportive, downright nasty in pointing out the possible problems with the plan I'd put forth. The real problem though wasn't that it was a bad plan, but that it wasn't any of their plans.

Do you see the . . uh . . problem with this paragraph?

It seemed like a good plan, a solid plan, one that would solve a lot of problems. But I wasn't entirely sure it would work, even though it was my plan. The others were not supportive, downright nasty in pointing out the possible problems with the plan I'd put forth. The real problem though wasn't that it was a bad plan, but that it wasn't any of their plans.

This of course is a very obvious issue I've highlighted here, but doubling up on your words can get away from you without you even realizing it. And don't just think that it's about doubling up on your words only in a single paragraph. I try to make sure that a specific word/words don't show up more than once a page if I can help it. When you double up on words it looks as though you don't have a vocabulary which is very bad if you're supposed to be a writer. (have you noticed my use of the word double?)

And for pity's sake, don't send your ms to an agent with this weakness (note I did not use problem) on the first page, that is unless you want an immediate launch of your precious baby into the wastebasket.