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Month: November 2011

Wednesday Wrant: Coffee machines are polished turds

I use Twitter pretty prolifically for expressing my distaste for things, people, and events, but sometimes 140 characters just doesn’t cut it. It occurred to me that I really have no designated place to get my rant on from time to time, and having seen other author blogs do this week, I am adding a new feature to my site… Wednesday Wrant. The twist is, at some point, I plan to turn these rants into a manuscript of some kind, so stay tuned!

So, as the title might imply, my rant this week is about coffee pots. My fingerprints are, apparently rife with some kind of crazy Kryptonite for coffee machines. This is a fairly recent development, about the last four years or so. Before that, I always just kind of bought a cheap-o coffee pot because, hey, coffee is coffee, right? But a few years ago, when my boyfriend and I were dating, and lived in separate apartments, we each had our own cheap-o coffee pots. His was a little 4-cupper that he’d had for about eighty years, and the little on/off switch (yes, the kind you actually switch, not the button) finally stuck in the off position, meaning it was time for a new one.

He had some gift cardage to use up, so he decided to get a fancy-ish coffee pot to replace it. When we moved in together, I still had the coffee pot from my apartment, which we kept as a backup. The entire time we had the backup, nothing went wrong with our fancy-ish coffee pot. Fast forward to the time we move to Texas, where I still have the backup coffee pot at our old place while my boyfriend gets things ready at our place in Texas. There’s only so much stuff we can take, so I relinquish the backup coffee maker.

As soon as we finish moving me to Texas, our fancy coffee pot decides that it, too, prefers the power button in the off position, and it decides to stay there, as if it knows we have no backup coffee pot anymore. So our solution, naturally, is to go out and get a more expensive, fancier coffee maker. Fast forward four months, and the thing is now stuck on “clean”. I Googled the problem, which is apparently in our coffee pot’s model. Lots of people have had it, but no one has solved it. I tried running a few pots of water through it and unplugging it for a few hours, and the clean button finally went off, and it didn’t beep incessantly. I did a happy dance around the kitchen and did an Aaron Rodgers touchdown dance (or discount double-check, whichever you prefer), displaying my amazing human triumph over machine.

Until the next morning, when I went to brew a pot of coffee and the Clean button came back on. I pressed, and pressed it, trying to get it to go away. It just beeped at me. Thank you, fancy expensive coffee pot. I am just going to tell myself that you’re making nice, clean coffee for me, and buy your cheaper cousin when I inevitably break this one.

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Support Four Debut Authors and Snag $125!

I am working with a handful of other writers on a promotion for four debut authors I follow. Scratch your back, you scratch mine, you know how it is 🙂 If any of these books floats your boat, pick up a copy.

Four books. Two Days. Great Prizes.

With this contest, there is something for everyone and it’s SO simple to be in on the winning!

On November 28 and/or 29, purchase 1 or all 4 of the debut author’s books listed here. Then forward proof of purchase (the receipt Amazon sends you will do just fine) to : and get up to 4 entries into a draw for a $100 Amazon gift card!

It’s that easy, no reviews, no hoops to jump through. Just a great .99 book or two. Or three or four. AND, if the person who wins the $100 Amazon Gift Card has purchased all 4 books, an additional $25 Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to the winner!

On top of that, 2 random commenter’s picked from 2 of our participating blogs will receive $5 gift Amazon gift cards. So, be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think of the promo, the books, or the authors.

Winners will be chosen randomly, one entry per person, per book.

All winners will be announced on December 7th on Wringing Out Words

“Between” by Cyndi Tefft

It just figures that the love of Lindsey Water’s life isn’t alive at all, but the grim reaper, complete with a dimpled smile, and Scottish accent.

After transporting souls to heaven for the last 300 years, Aiden MacRae has all but given up on finding the one whose love will redeem him and allow him entry through the pearly gates.

Torn between her growing attraction to Aiden and heaven’s siren song, Lindsey must learn the hard way whether love really can transcend all boundaries.

“Until Dawn: Last Light” by Jennifer Simas

When darkness falls, whose side will you be on?

For the past six years, Zoë has been anything but “normal.” Struggling to accept her immortality and thrown into a war that’s been waging in the shadows for over a thousand years, Zoë must now become who she was meant to be, joining the other Chosen to save what’s left of humanity. When the endless night falls over the Earth, will she be able to save the one man who reminds her of what it is to be human, or will it be too late?

Until Dawn: Last Light is a story of death and despair, love and longing, hope and hopelessness, and the ability to survive and keep going even when it seems impossible – when you want nothing more than to give up.

“The Kayson Cycle” by Jonathan D. Allen

A stranger enters a dying town and makes a desperate plea…

The Kayson Cycle introduces the Kayson Brothers, a pair of faith healers who once wowed crowds in a traveling show but went their separate ways after a night in which a healing took a dark turn. Jeffrey Kayson disappeared into the wilderness and William Kayson, wracked by guilt, moved to the failing mining town of Calico Hills to build a nice, quiet life – one that has lasted for over ten years.

His quiet, predictable life crumbles when a mysterious stranger walks into his tavern bearing a proposal to find his long-lost brother and do the one thing that William has sworn to never do again – have his brother heal a woman. William soon learns that he can’t escape his family – or his destiny.

Includes an exclusive sample chapter of The Corridors of the Dead. Please note that this is a Kindle Single, and around 6,000 words in length.

“Sundered” by Shannon Mayer

A miracle drug, Nevermore, spreads like wildfire throughout the world allowing people to eat what they want, and still lose weight. It is everything the human population has ever dreamed of and Mara is no different. Only a simple twist of fate stops her from taking Nevermore.

As the weeks roll by, it becomes apparent that Nevermore is not the miracle it claimed. A true to life nightmare, the drug steals the very essence that makes up humanity and unleashes a new and deadly species on the world that is bent on filling its belly. Locked down within their small farm home, Mara and her husband Sebastian struggle against increasingly bad odds, fighting off marauders and monsters alike.

But Sebastian carries a dark secret, one that more than threatens to tear them apart, it threatens to destroy them both and the love they have for each other.

Now Mara must make the ultimate choice. Will she live for love, or will she live to survive…

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Why you should write about Thanksgiving

I’ve been working on my second novel for a couple months now – a short story collection about women and their tattoos. The first chapter I wrote was about a tattoo done on Thanksgiving. I think it’s one of my stronger chapters, and it was also one of the easiest to write. Last night while I was trying (and failing) to fall back asleep, it occurred to me that the reason for that is because Thanksgiving is such a rich topic to write about. If you’re a writer looking for something to get the creative juices flowing, I suggest writing something about Thanksgiving. Why?

  • Great material for sensory images. You’ve got the visual, the gustatory, the olfactory, even the auditory and the tactile. I can’t even begin to think about Thanksgiving without smelling deep fried turkey.
  • Built-in conflict. Sometimes as writers we struggle to create conflict out of nothing. When it comes to Thanksgiving, there isn’t a single one I’ve had where there wasn’t some kind of drama floating about.
  • Opportunity for dialogue. People will talk about just about anything at Thanksgiving, to just about anybody.

So if you’ve never written about a Thanksgiving event, I challenge you to crank out a little flash fiction piece to get the juices flowing. Mmm… that makes me think of turkey.

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Hello again, Google Reader

Once upon a time, in a land far far away, an aspiring author began following blogs of friends, other writers, and publishing people she deemed important. Before long, the author was completely snowed under with unread blog posts, and one day, she got tired of logging into Google Reader and seeing that she had 596 unread posts.

Well, that author is now self-published, and needs to start building relationships with other writers who have successful blogs so she can be taken seriously and get some readership going. So she is giving Google Reader another chance. She logged in today, since it’s the day before Thanksgiving and there’s not much going on at the office, unsubscribed from all the long-since-defunct blogs she used to follow, marked all the old posts from the blogs she wants to keep following as read (so she can start from scratch) and added a few new ones from some of her tweeps:

  • Melissa Ecker @MelissaEcker a romance writer with whom I have twitterpated.
  • Tymothy Longoria @tymothylongoria a writer I have no idea how I met
  • Tonya @tmycann whose blog I just found today, and it’s awesome

And I am hoping to add more. If you have one you think is really really ridiculously good-looking or just mega interesting, drop me a comment and I’ll start following you, but not in real life.

Shit. I switched from 3rd to 1st person. Oh well, you knew the author was me, anyway.

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NaNoWriMo mid-month status report

I’ve been working on the tattoo story collection I discussed a few posts ago. It’s been going very well, but it appears I am short of the 25,000 word count mark by about 11k. That tends to happen when you get new freelance clients every night for the first couple weeks, then have to go to a 3-day conference for your real job.

The main reason I wanted to do National Novel Writing Month was because I had a project I was crazy excited about, and I wanted to start getting it down before I lost that initial excitement. Perhaps more importantly, though, it took me seven years to write my last book, and I don’t want it to take another seven years to write my second. NaNoWriMo is great for me, because it forces me to find the time – often time I don’t have – to write something, anything, any day. As a result, I’ve written on the city bus, in coffee shops during meetups, on my lunch breaks, while watching college football recaps, you name it.

Part of the problem I’ve had with NaNoWriMo is that the process needs to be fast, and my process is typically much slower. I’m a big edit-as-I-go kind of person; it’s how I’ve always been and why I think my editing phase is a little easier. It’s difficult for me to write something I know I don’t really like, am going to have to change later, and just leave it and move on. It may prove useful though, because when I do come back to this in December to start editing (yes, I am an optimist), I’ll have a little more dramatic distance than I typically have when I edit as I write. No process is ever going to be perfect, though, so I guess I’ll take the productivity in exchange for the rework I’ll inevitably have to do later.

It’s likely that I won’t get to 50,000 on time, but I’m not overly concerned. I’m happy with the progress I am making and I think the prose is really well done so far. I’ve also been getting some great feedback from my meetup group members, which I will feature again soon.

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Financial Times feature

It’s only tangentially related to my personal writing, but it’s still pretty damned cool. I was interviewed by Emma Jacobs of the Financial Times about my freelance writing job (you know, the one I’m doing when I’m not working my full-time real job or working on my next novel). The article’s pretty sweet, so it’s definitely worth passing on.

You can read it HERE, and possibly have to pass their registration wall by registering for a free account. Or you can Google “The Love Letter Ghostwriter” to read the thing without registering.

P.S. That’s not what I really look like. It’s a God-awful picture of me.

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Answering the question “So what’s your book about?”

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent years writing your book.  The characters are so real in your imagination that they might as well be walking right beside you, in the flesh.  You’ve added sections, removed sections, rewritten sections so many times you could recite them from memory.  Your book encompasses love, hate, and that which makes us infallible humans…

… and then someone wants to you to simplify all that into a sentence. THE sentence. “What’s your book about?”

You want to scoff at them, tell them you can’t possibly diminish your life’s work to a level they could possibly understand.  But you’re not a pompous asshole, and you want them to actually read it. So what do you do?

You find an answer to life’s great question. You’ll have to answer it the rest of your life after you’re published, so you might as well have a well thought-out, rehearsed (but natural) answer for it. Not sure where to start?  Here are some ideas:

  • Setting. No, you don’t want a Don LaFontaine-esque “In a world where…” statement, but where your story takes place is a pretty big part of the story. If your story’s on a fictional planet incapable of sustaining life, that’s probably something the questioner wants to know about. If it’s just about a small town where escape seems impossible (like mine is), that’s just as crucial to the story.
  • Main character. Bottom line, if they don’t care about the main character, they’re not going to care about your story.
  • The central conflict. If you make your character’s world sound all hunky-dory, then the reader’s not going to see much point in reading a story about everyday life on planet Cilicol or the fun of growing up.

Avoid cliches. Don’t call it a coming of age story (guilty of this myself), a post-apocalyptic survival story, or a sardonic satire. Be unique.  If your elevator answer includes these three elements and steers clear of cliches, then it’ll probably be enough to catch their attention. Here’s one I’ve been kicking around…

It’s a collection of vignettes about a girl who grows up in a small town where everyone wants to get out, but few people actually do. Just as she gets used to life with her younger brother and sister in her father’s custody, her new stepmother comes along and she has to try and figure out how to keep her in her life, even with life around her isn’t so pleasant.

Keep it short. About 30 seconds. After awhile, you’ll get so good at it you’ll forget that it took you years and years to write your epic tome.

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THE REDHEADED STEPCHILD now available on Kindle!

Remember, remember the 5th of November, because it’s the day I uploaded my first novel to Amazon’s Kindle direct publishing and Smashwords! It’s now available for readers everywhere for just $2.99.

Links to buy the book are here. You can also lend it or download a free sample that includes the first chapter.

The process was really easy. I had already formatted a short story for epub format before, so I knew what and what not to do, and of course the longest part of the process was writing and editing. All I really had to do was add a product description, create some tags, upload a cover image, and upload the formatted book file. The Kindle Help is very well written and walked me through the process almost perfectly.

The real question I keep asking myself is why I waited so long to do it in the first place.

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Remember Remember the 5th of November

So, I’m a little drunk as I write this, so bear with me. I’m celebrating, because I just finished editing The Redheaded Stepchild. I began writing the book about 7 years ago, and tomorrow (and by tomorrow, I mean today, after a night’s sleep), I will be publishing it on Kindle Direct and Smashwords. It’s been a long journey, but I’m ready to publish my first novel and get it under my belt.

More to come tomorrow…

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