Friday, September 28, 2012

Not Feeling Fridays...


I’ve decided that today, instead of a FMFB or another new-release spotlight post, I’m just going to wish you all a beautiful fall Friday!

To be honest, I’m thinking about tossing Friday’s scheduled posts up to the blogging Gods and letting them decide if I post or not. For one, I’ve noticed a definite lull in overall Friday blogging activity over the last year or so- Wait. Actually, I’ve noticed a lull in ALL blogging activity over the last year. I’m not sure if this is because the blogging community I’ve always been a part of has entered that veteran stage where people post and participate less, or if we’re all just keeping tabs through other avenues like facebook or twitter. (actually, I think it’s a little of both). But Matt McNash’s Wednesday post about bloggers missing an awesome opportunity due to lack of participation highlighted one of the consequences of the blogosphere’s slow decline.  As I said there, sometimes I feel like the blogosphere has become a dystopian world where small communities cling together for dear life, supporting each other as best they can.

Another reason for ‘up in the air’ Friday posts is that my TGIF’s are pretty jammed-packed, family wise. The hubs has Fridays off so we pick the kids up for lunch and have to bring them back to school after. (There’s an hour-and-a-half nation-wide lunch break over here in France every weekday. Banks, schools, pharmacies and businesses are all closed up tight from around 12-2pm).  Of course I’ll still sponsor the occasional FMFB, and try and slip Friday ‘Living in France’ posts or spotlight posts in there whenever I can, but I can’t say it will be a weekly occurance.

Have any of you noticed the lull in activity over the last year-and-a-half or so? Why do you think this is? Has anyone else cut down on their own blogging schedules or participation due to the apparent lack of activity?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SPOTLIGHT: Justine Dell’s ‘Recaptured Dreams’


Today I wanted to spotlight a newly released book by blogging friend and author Justine Dell.  Her debut novel, RECAPTURED DREAMS was released by Omnific Publishing September 16th and is already garnering awesome reviews on amazon and goodreads!


Ten years, the Atlantic Ocean, and several rungs in society have kept Xavier Cain from having Sophia Montel. Now twenty-seven, he’s spent his entire adult life building a fashion empire that could finally prove his worth to her family. When fate reunites him with Sophia at London’s premiere fashion show, one problem lodges in Xavier’s path: Sophia doesn’t remember him.

The only obstacle that has kept Sophia from Xavier is a horrific car crash that erased her memory at seventeen. She’s spent the last ten years fighting to reclaim a sliver of her past that her mother refuses to help her remember. When Sophia meets Xavier at the London show, however, all her fantasies come to life in one night of passion. Discovering he is the missing link, she is determined to find all the pieces to their love story and her memory.

Xavier wants forever. Sophia wants her memory. If they take this chance, they’ll have to start over. How far are they willing to go to get what they want? And when the past catches up to them, can they handle the truths it has hidden?

I’m really intrigued by the dark, mysterious cover and the storyline here reminds me of an epic gothic or regency romance set in modern-day times (swoon!). Justine’s been taking the blogosphere by storm with awesome interviews, guest posts, and giveaways. She also has a fantastic interview and giveaway up on goodreads right now! And you can learn more about her through her blog here.

Congrats Justine! Can’t wait to read ‘Recaptured Dreams’!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Literary Agent- A Thousand Words


Last night I watched the movie ‘A Thousand Words’ with Eddie Murphy. It…wasn’t great, to say the least, even though the premise was kind of interesting:

A big-shot literary agent who’s life’s success is due to words- both written and spoken to convince or cajole, is faced with a predicament when every word he speaks brings him closer to death. By the time he realizes what’s happening, he only has one thousand words left and must choose carefully.


What gave me brow-furrowing syndrome during this film was the way the literary agent was portrayed. He didn’t read any manuscripts (not even ones he was trying to acquire), but instead relied on his assistant to tell him if a book would sell. He only paid attention to top clients or high-profile people he was looking to represent (even if they hadn’t written a book yet). He blew off the valet parking guy who’d been asking him for years if he could just read a few pages of his manuscript. Had private lunches and dinners with acquiring editors from Simon and Schuster and Random House and talked about 250k-300k advances for books the publishers hadn’t even seen yet. 

Really? Come on people. Do literary agents like this really exist today? Maybe they did, at one point. And there might even be a select few presidents of top agencies who’d benefit from special treatment from publishers and editors still. But in today’s climate, I found the old-school representation a little hard to swallow since it potrayed agents as completely superficial and money-grubbing when, in reality, agency professionals are supposed to be passionate about the written word and seeing projects through for the right reasons (at least I hope so!) *sigh* Oh Hollywood. How thou doest so falsely portray the world of publishing!

Have any of you seen this movie? Has your idea of what a literary agent is and does changed at all over the last few years or since you first began writing? 

Friday, September 21, 2012

French Me


I’ll be honest. Wednesday, I forgot to post, (head slam!) which happens sometimes because all of my posts are improvised just a couple hours before they go live. In my defense, though, my blogging schedule slipped my mind because I was ferociously studying for the French proficiency exam I need to take in order to acquire citizenship that was coming up Thursday.

So, yesterday, I took the metro into Paris and stumbled around with my little map in one hand and my tactile phone in the other, trying to approximate the blinking dot of my gps app to the narrow, winding streets in front of me. Finally, I managed to find the testing center in time to not be disqualified from the exam.

The first part of the test was fairly straight forward. I had to converse with a French person for five-to-ten minutes. There were some basic questions involved and a part where I had to come up with questions for the instructor based on a theme. The whole thing was recorded so it could be sent to a grading center.

The next part, however, was oral comprehension- given in an old-school listen to a cd/fill in the blank format. We listened to one part of a conversation and then had multiple choices as to what should come next. We listened to a joint conversation and then had to answer a question about what was said. -Same thing with excerpts from news interviews. Seems easy enough, no?

Well, NO.

As it turns out. The French are quite competent when it comes to complicating your run-of-the mill multiple choice until you’re not sure which way’s up. I came to this conclusion a couple years ago, when I was getting my French driver’s permit, so I knew not to sniff at a French multiple-choice test, especially when something important like citizenship is involved. 

First of all, there were 30 questions to be answered in 25 minutes. 

Secondly, when it came to the joint conversations and news excerpts, a lot was said and the questions were sure to be based on a tiny or unimportant detail.

Many of the answers resembled one another or ALL of them were cited in the conversations but we had to decide what was most important.

OR none of the details were cited in the excerpt and we had to decide which one looked even the slightest bit relevant. 

For example:

Michelle says- ‘I took the company car to work early Monday morning. I made sure to ask for a specific model, because I had a business meeting in Brussels later on in the day, and it’s important to have a dependable car with good gas mileage.’

Question:

What color should the sky have been the morning Michelle left for work?

a- Grey
b- Black
c- Blue
d- Violet

*sigh*

In any case, I hope to get back to my regularly scheduled programming next week. I have a few newly-released books I wanted to spotlight but I’d rather include them in next week’s post so they  can get the attention they deserve. What was the hightlight (or lowlight) of your week? Any big plans for the end of September?

Hope you all have a great weekend!

*CQG*

Monday, September 17, 2012

When Traditional Publishers Go Digital

Lately I’ve been seeing this article making the rounds about how, for the first time, a traditional publisher has decided to open up a two-week window for un-agented manuscripts to be submitted and considered for their digitally published catalog

Now, I'm all for traditional publishers giving un-agented manuscripts a chance. Of course!  What bothers me about this solicitation is the fact that the manuscripts will only be published in e-book format. Don't get me wrong, I think houses opening themselves up to a digitally-published-only catalog can be a great thing for publishers and authors alike. 

But it does lead to some questions.

With free publishing options like amazon’s createspace for kindle, lulu, barnes & noble free publishing for nook, and smashwords, I have to wonder what a traditional publisher could possibly bring to the table for authors publishing digitally?

A few things to consider:

Free editing, formatting and book cover. 

With a traditional publisher, at least you can be sure your book will be clean and well presented.  But, this could also be a drawback. What if you don’t like the cover they’ve chosen? Would they be willing to change it? With self-publishing, if sales are low or your cover seems outdated you have the freedom to do something about it. 

Free marketing. 

I assume, if the book will be listed with a traditional publisher, it would receive the same publicity as agented and hard copy books from their catalog- a listing on publisher’s marketplace, epublicities on major book sites, entry into coveted reviewer blogs, swag, invitations to book conventions, etc…But something tells me a traditional publisher isn’t going to spend the same amount of time or money on a book that’s only coming out in ebook format. In any case, it’s something I’d be curious about.

Would the contract be standard?

How would the royalty rights be split? If the contract is at industry standards, why the solicitation for un-agented authors? Once the contract acquired, would the publishing house object to the author having an agent or legal professional take a look? Would they agree to negociations if the contract is found subpar?

It’s every author’s dream to see their book on a shelf somewhere. Would hard copy sales be an option if the ebook sold well? 

It would seem a shame, to me, to be signing over the chance to ever hold your book in your hands when you sign a digital publishing contract. 

What are your thoughts on traditional publishers opening themselves up to a digitally-published-only catalog? When weighing the options, do you think un-agented authors would be in a better place career-wise to go with a traditional publisher or head out on their own indie-stye?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GUTGAA Pitch Polish

So, today I’m posting my query and first 150 words for KISSING FOR COFFEE as part of GUTGAA’s pitch polish. I’ve been fiddling with this a little ever since I did the big revisions for ‘zee agent’ but I feel like it still needs work. Thanks to all of you for any comments, insight or feedback you can offer!

KISSING FOR COFFEE
YA ROMANTIC COMEDY
78,000 words

Query:

When the difference between maintaining her status as resident ‘Popular Party Girl’, or slinking back into the darkness of her perfect sister’s shadow resides in showing up to class with one cup of coffee, seventeen-year-old Sadie Brooks decides it’s worth kissing geeky Jake Sterling for his.

But one secret kiss becomes something much bigger when word travels through Geekland that Sadie locks lips for her morning java. She arrives at school to find her locker surrounded by a dozen candidates from the Land of Misfit Dudes- all of them holding coffee and hoping for the same payment. In order to save face, Sadie kisses Jake in front of half the student body. But she never expected her friends to follow suit.  

Without warning, ‘Kissing for Coffee’ becomes the newest sign of popularity and a clear indication of desirability. The more boys vying to hand you a cup, the more pretty and popular you must be. Sadie has unintentionally lit the match on a full-out trend and it’s spreading through surrounding high school districts like wildfire. The owner of Coffee Lovers is contacting her, thanking her for the publicity. News cameras are showing up at her school.  ‘Kissing for Coffee’ commercials are even running on TV!

But Sadie soon discovers that kissing for coffee doesn’t only have its ‘perks’. 

She becomes the focus of controversy when the student president of the Purity Waits Club begins protesting against the act of ‘prostituting your lips out for a three-dollar beverage’.  And then there’s Jake Sterling, whose deceptively talented mega mouth has Sadie craving his kisses at odd non-coffee hours.  Sadie needs to find a way to put a stop to the trend she set in motion before she ends up losing her popularity, her geek, and her coffee for good.

First 150 words:

   In Tokyo, high school kids don’t have to be there for attendance until 8:30 a.m. And by then, it’s daylight. And they ride in on the tram or the subway. How do I know this? Well, Canterbury’s only Japanese foreign exchange student, Nanako Ivana Saki, just told me. And yes, that is her real name.

            I stifle a yawn and struggle to stay focused on the road but Nanako keeps mumbling nervously, the whites of her almond-shaped eyes visible in the car’s shadowy interior.

“It’s so dark outside,” she says, for the third time.

“Yup,” I nod. “The sun comes up a little later here in winter.”

She sinks back into the front passenger’s seat, her child-like body almost disappearing completely from my peripheral vision. “The roads are so…isolated,” she says, her delicate white fingers digging into my car’s leather interior.

My headlights create bouncing shadows down yet another winding route.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Across the Border

For those of you like myself, who have been in the query trenches for awhile, you know how hard it can be to break through that very first barrier. You search for an opening wherever you can, perfect your query and make the dive across hostile territory where overflowing inboxes, slush mail, hung-over interns and form rejections stare you down with their semi-automatics, just ready to shoot and explode your dreams into smithereens. (Which they do. On countless occasions)

And yet you continue to stare across that border and keep trying, hoping one day you’ll find a well-dug hole you can wiggle through or a gaping tear in the chain-link fence that separates you from the land where traditionally published dreams come true.

So, of course, when one of your comrades-in-arms makes it through to the other side, it is a HUGE cause for celebration; Not only for the author themselves, but for every one of us still here on the other side. Through their success, we know that  1- it can be done. And 2- one of the good ones has made it through. Thus our traditional dream is reaffirmed. 


Today is one of those awesome occasions where our blogosphere is coming together to celebrate Writer's Ally aka SA Larson blogger Sheri Larson’s successful leap into the realm of the represented! She recently signed with agent Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary and is holding an incredible Bigger Than a Shopping-Mall Giveaway! Critiques, free books, swag and fun paraphernalia are all up for grabs in the form of three raffles by rafflecopter:
Giveaway #1 a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway #2 a Rafflecopter giveaway


Grand Prize Giveaway (for this, you must be entered in either #1,#2, or both)

a Rafflecopter giveaway




A huge congratulations to Sheri and I can’t wait to hear more about her project as it continues to duck through revisions, editor’s desks, and acquisitions meetings all the way to the printing press!

For those already-published authors out there, what did YOU do the day you got an agent or first held your book in your hands? How did you celebrate? And for those like myself, how do you think you’ll celebrate making it over your biggest publishing hurdles? Champagne on ice? Dinner out? Online contests or festivities?  All of the above?:)

Friday, September 7, 2012

FMFB- Get It While It's Hot!

I raise my cup of coffee to you on this blissful Friday Morning Follower’s Boffee. Fall is well on its way in the Paris suburbs and I’m absolutely loving the chilly mornings, Indian summer-y skies and turning leaves. Autumn has always been, without a doubt, my favorite season. 

For those of you who are new to bloffee- all you have to do to participate is 1. Comment. 2. Tell us what you’re bringing to this morning’s potluck brunch. (I’m ordering some virtual pumpkin spice latt├ęs in honor of the autumn season:) 3. Look for someone in the comments section you don’t know and check out their blog! Voila! A potential friend and follower connection has been made!

As for this week’s news: the ‘Gearing Up to Get an Agent’ blogfest (otherwise known as GUTGAA) is organizing crit partner/ beta reader connections this week. So if any of you have a draft you’d like to get some input on, here’s a great place to start!


Blogging buddy, freelance editor, and awesome author represented by Kate McKean of the Howard Morhaim Literary agency- Leigh T. Moore is releasing her debut novel THE TRUTH ABOUT FAKING through amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.  It’s a contemporary romance that sounds right up my alley and I can’t wait to read it! See more here. 

As for me, I’m finding that pregnancy and writing don’t always go hand in hand. My usual afternoon writing time keeps getting interrupted when I fall into a mid-day coma which may or may not consist of moderate snoring. My poor keyboard is covered in dried crumbs, drool, and sticky liquids from the constant snacking (and the ‘m’ key still won’t work right). My favorite yoga pants are getting tight in the midsection. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are no long just ‘meals’, but ‘experiences’-worthy of a thousand words or more describing just how good everything tastes and sometimes, when sitting down to write, I zone out- reliving the wonderfulness that was lunch…which inevitably leads to more snacking and not-so-much writing. *sigh*

How are all of you lovelies this morning? What, more than anything else, keeps you from your usual writing time? (social media? work? other books? scumptilicious snacks?) Any big plans for this weekend?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I’m Baaaack! And GUTGAA Meet n’ Greet

Well, my hiatus is officially over! And what a hiatus it has been. In the last two weeks I:

Got the kids ready to go back to school (and all that that entails).


Deep-cleaned the monstrosity that was my house.

Started a new wip and wrote nearly 8k in a seven-day span.

Critiqued 3/4th  of a fellow author’s project.

Was invited to do a revise & resubmit with ‘the agent’ for a different manuscript I’d submitted a few months ago.

And continued to grow another human being. 

Oh. Yes, I imagine that last one has sunk in right about now. 

Creepy is again expecting a baby-child – One who will hopefully be making their fully-grown and healthy appearance in March 2013:)

I’ve missed you guys so much but, secretly, I’ve been keeping up with a lot of your news and posts through facebook. For those of you who aren’t on my friends list yet, there’s a link on my side bar. 


Now on to this week’s GUTGAA Meet n’Greet:

-Where do you write? Anywhere I can sit comfortably with my laptop; the bed, the couch, the kitchen table, the jon…

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?  Toilet paper holder?… Ew. Just kidding. Kind of…Anyway- Usually when I sit down to write and look to my left, there’s one of my kid’s faces waiting right there, impatient for me to answer something for them.

-Favorite time to write? The morning/mid afternoon.

-Drink of choice while writing? Coffee coffee coffee coffee

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? Complete silence. But sometimes I don’t mind having the television on low.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? After writing my last couple novels based on ‘premise’, I got fed up while in the midst of a current wip- always trying to force a plot to meet that premise the best way I know how.  With the project I’m working on now, I decided to take a different route. I’m writing what I feel like reading. I’m writing because I want to get to know these characters and this setting and really just kind of wade in it. And I’m enjoying every minute. 

-What's your most valuable writing tip? Do what you have to do to keep the romance alive. If you’re serious about writing, someday it could become a job. And when it does, you’re going to have to force yourself to keep at it, even when the love is gone. Finding ways to keep the love for writing alive (like keeping a project on the side, blogging or journaling) is key, I think.

It’s great to be back! Can’t wait to catch up with old friends and meet n’greet the new! So, what does your month of September look like? Anything you’re looking forward to (book releases? bloghops? conventions?  Time for wip?) ??

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