Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Photo Tuesday - Spring!

Spring is here! The trees are in bloom, flowers have appeared, and the weather alternates between shunshine and rain.

These are some of the obvious signs of spring. But as we are writing, do we remember to include the not so obvious signs?

Bugs!
As the cold weather vanishes, insects appear.
Bees emerge from hibernation.
Other bugs hatch and swarm.
Butterflies return.
And the ants go into overdrive...


Pollen!

Soon all of NC will be covered in the sickly, neon yellow-green stuff...







Birds!
May stay all year, but migrating species will return.
And many will be in search of a bath...



Spring cleaning!
From houses to garages to cars.

I think it's been six months since I washed my Tribute...


Projects!
Time for home improvements and yardwork.
And all the aggravation that goes along with projects.
Our fence project a few years ago led to the worst case of poison ivy I've ever endured!



Baby critters!

Cats, dogs, bunnies, birdies...

And they are so cute!




Baseball!

Pros, minor leagues, T-ball...


(And don't forget the apple pie!)



So, what are some of the other signs of spring?

And today I am visiting Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here
Yesterday I talked about speaking to promote at View From the Publishing Trenches

Monday, March 29, 2010

Is Urban Fantasy the New “It” Genre?

Today I'd like to welcome my buddy CC from CC Chronicles with her take on urban fantasy!

Is Urban Fantasy the New “It” Genre?

What exactly is Urban Fantasy? That is the question of the day, because the lines have become blurred and so many authors want to jump on this new gravy train. Urban fantasy is becoming one of the most popular genres and that is partly because of those fuzzy lines. Before we look at why it’s growing in popularity, let’s get back to the original question – What is Urban Fantasy?

Technically, Urban Fantasy is a fantasy set in a city. Sounds pretty vague. The original Urban fantasy plots were borrowed from Noir. They usually revolve around solving a mystery and often have an element of horror or paranormal. Like thrillers, they have many twists and turns. The main characters are usually tough as nails and the story is often told in the first person narrative. Well, that sounds pretty defined and straight forward. So why the blurred lines. Because authors and publishers want to sell the most books possible and because Urban Fantasy can encompass so many different types of stories they buyer demographic is broadened. For example, as popular as the romance genre is (and it is currently the best selling) many authors don not want to be labeled as romance writers or even paranormal romance writers. Paranormal Romance is one of the genres most often miss labeled as Urban Fantasy because it can have all the elements of an Urban fantasy, however, the plots is driven by the romance not the action or fantasy elements. Romance has generally attracted the female buyer (when was the last time you saw a man browsing that section?) and smudging the line and labeling a paranormal romance, Urban Fantasy, an author can capture more male readers. By the same token, contemporary fantasy, even horror, generally draw a larger male audience than female. Both men and women like reading about strong female leading characters and many Urban fantasy’s have these femme fatales.

Is this why Urban Fantasy is growing in popularity? Partly. But the main reason we read Urban fantasy is escapism. We want to get lost in a story about a tough hero. We want to live vicariously and defeat the bad in the world. When life is difficult and we are surrounded by despair we want the strength that our hero possesses. In our current economic crisis, we want the thrill of not having to worry about money, because rarely does the hero in fantasy have to despair over finances. Finally, often these heroes have super human strength or immortality. By losing ourselves in Urban Fantasy, we get to experience a magical life that has just enough realism to keep us connected.

Thank you, CC! Please visit her blog at CC Chronicles

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Sunday SIllies!

A prize in every box!

Don't forget to leave a caption for the last picture!

funny pictures of cats with captions


funny pictures of cats with captions


funny pictures of cats with captions


epic fail pictures
see more Epic Fails

funny pictures of cats with captions


funny pictures of cats with captions


funny pictures of cats with captions


funny pictures of cats with captions


funny pictures of cats with captions


Now it's your turn!
Leave your caption below and I'll feature the best one in Friday's blog!

Friday, March 26, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

KEEPER: Stop! Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, 'ere the other side he see.
LAUNCELOT: Ask me the questions, bridge-keeper. I'm not afraid.
KEEPER: What is your name?
LAUNCELOT: My name is Sir Launcelot of Camelot.
KEEPER: What is your quest?
LAUNCELOT: To seek the Holy Grail.
KEEPER: What is your favorite color?
LAUNCELOT: Blue.
KEEPER: Right. Off you go.

 
* BOOK NEWS *

Thanks to all who comment on my guest post at Straight From Hel yesterday!

Today I am visiting Steph the Bookworm for an interview!


A writer community with workshops and more - Savvy Authors

Tom Gillispie recommends a great Yahoo group for editors - Writers in Business

Preparing a book business plan from Gail Martin - Feathered Quill

Ten good reasons to be a ghostwriter - Blood Red Pencil

Elizabeth gives tips for skittish sellers - Mystery Writing is Murder

Yesterday was Happy Tolkien Reading Day! CNN

Carol Denbow tipped me off to Saturday, May 15 - it's Promo Day

And this was a surprise treat from an author who came to see me last weekend at my book signing - Dog and Cat Resuce Stories



* CAPTION WINNER *

From "The Sunday Sillies" - this week's winner:

Helen Ginger! And she even used LOL Speak...

“Iz shoulda never volunteered to do foster care without specifying kitties.”



* PHOTO OF THE DAY *

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Writing Changes Your Life

Life changes when you write. It changes even more when you become an author!

There are many adjustments. Every day is a new adventure.

Since many of you have asked about Spunky's world, I will list some of the changes in my life - and I invite you to share yours!

I spend A LOT more time online. A minimum of two hours a day. Sometimes it's closer to six.

 I travel more - to the tune of 30,000 miles a year. I put my little Tribute out of warranty real quick!

 I write a lot more, and not just my books - articles, blog posts, journal posts, outlines for seminars, etc.

 Thank goodness for rollover minutes, because I am on the phone a lot more, too. Funny thing - I don't even like using the phone!

 My reading shifted from fiction to mostly marketing books.


I learned how to build a website. Still don't know html, but that's okay!
funny pictures of cats with captions

I have packing for a book signing or speaking engagement down to a science!

I now have two computers on my desk and multi-task well. (I also have a "Lappy" but I don't get to use him much...)

A big change is the shift in time. We only get 24 hours in a day. I'm still lobbying for 40, but until then, there's some things that went by the wayside...

I don't keep up with my roller coaster stuff as much. I used to hit several parks a year, but I'm lucky to see one now. I also used to know anything and everything about roller coasters - the oldest, the biggest, the fastest... You could name any park and I could tell you all the coasters in that park, and probably how tall they were, too. Not so much anymore...

I cut way back on my photography business. No more Saturday weddings - instead it's Saturday book signings. I still do portraits occasionally.

I've made more friends, but now have less time to keep up with any of them.

I still go to movies, but my movie-watching at home is restricted to one a week. I never really watched much television, so that wasn't a problem.

I forget birthdays. That sucks, too.

I haven't played a computer game since Roller Coaster Tycoon III came out.

My house is still clean, but it's messier and bit unorganized some times. Maybe I should fire the maid...

So how about you? How has writing changed your life? What do you do differently? What do you no longer have time to do...? What new things now fill your day?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tales From the Bookshelf - The Home Library!

Okay, now who doesn't dream of a large room devoted entirely to books, decorated with elegance and yet inviting and warm?

I discovered some cool books that show you how to do it!


At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries

by Estelle Ellis and Caroline Seebohm






Decorating with Books

by Marie Proeller Hueston









Library Design

by teNeues







Living with Books

by Alan Powers







Books Do Furnish a Room

by Leslie Geddes-Brown






Now, I've not read, reviewed, purchased, or receieved these books as a gift! They just looked interesting!

However, I would someday like my library to look like any of these:







And my dream library includes a large window seat with many fluffy pillows!

What about YOUR dream library???

Monday, March 22, 2010

Free Online Marketing Help from Tony Eldridge

Tony Eldridge joins me today to offer some marketing tips!

(And please visit me at Psychotic State today for an incredibly funny guest post from Heather!)

Free Online Marketing Help For The Technophobic Author

Free Online Marketing Help For The Technophobic Author

Facebook, Twitter, blogs, HTML, websites, social media, social networking, RSS feeds, autoresponders, Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0…

Terms like these can make the average author cringe when they hear that they need to “Be on the Internet”, “Get a blog”, “Tweet”, “Do a podcast”. For many authors, just getting a business card is a chore that can cause nerves to fray.

Well, if you fall into this category or know someone who does, take heart. If you commit to baby steps, a month from now, you can have an online presence that you might now think is impossible to have.

Rather than give you a fish, I want to teach you to fish in this post. What do I mean? Instead of giving you a list of resources you need to have on the Internet, I want to give you a few resources that can help you make the decisions yourself about what you need on the net and then will teach you how to do it.

So, let’s get started:

1. Video Instruction- There are a lot of text instructions on the Internet to explain how to do anything from opening a Twitter account to creating an HTML page. But sometimes, the easiest way to learn is to look over someone’s shoulders as they show you. Videos can do this for you. YouTube is one of my first stops when I want to learn how to do something.

2. Free E-books/Reports- Many experts who charge for their services often offer e-books that teach you basic skills as a way to get you to sign up for their newsletters. The info in these books and reports can be a tremendous blessing. Don’t be afraid to sign up. If the expert does not deliver what they promise, unsubscribe and look elsewhere.

3. E-mail/Forums- Sometimes the easiest way to get an answer is to simply ask an expert. If you have a friend who is doing what you want to do, ask them to point you in the right direction for resources you can use. You may find that they will give you specific answers themselves. You can also post topics in forums asking your questions. Forum members are typically the type of people who thrive on helping others, and on a forum you generally get the benefit of receiving multiple insights to your question.

4. “What Is…”- Another one of my favorite tools is the search engine. If I simply don’t know what something is, or if I want to make sure I know, I go to Google and type “what is {insert term}. For example, “what is RSS?” yields results 1-10 all trying to explain to me what RSS is, including a video entitled, RSS in Plain English. You will be surprised at how quickly you’ll find answers to your questions.

5. Templates- When you first start out, templates can help you get started quickly while giving you time to learn new technology. While templates can lock you into limited features, they can allow you to have some features when the alternative without them is having no features. There are free templates available for websites, blogs, and just about anything you need to drop content into. While there is a good argument about recreating the wheel and coming up with a unique layout, in this case until you know “how” to create the wheel, using a template is a viable option.

6. Blogs/Newsletters- There are people who love to write about things to help authors learn about marketing (and other things as well). When you run across a blog that has content you find useful, look for a way to subscribe to it via e-mail. That way, you will never miss a post. When you scan the new post that is e-mailed to you, you have the option of keeping it or deleting it and moving on.

7. Blog Comments- Blog comments can be a gold mine when it comes to learning information. You will be surprised how many people have the same questions you have. Comments do these things for people who take the time to read them:

A. They clarify part of the post

B. They encourage others to share their experiences about topics discussed in the post

C. They expand on the topic of the post

D. They invite others into the conversation which increases the likelihood that the most up-to-date information is included in the conversation

E. They provide for a way to meet others who you can connect with and have as a future resource for later issues

Blog comments can be a great way to learn basic technical marketing information, especially if you move beyond a casual reader to an active participant. Most blogs have a way for you to have comments e-mailed to you when new ones are created. That way, you will be able to keep up on the conversation without having to go back constantly and check for new comments.

No matter how much of a technophobe you are, if you follow some of these avenues, you will find ways to ease you into what can be a confusing world for those who are not familiar with it. I said earlier I was not going to give you a fish, but rather teach you to fish. I hope that I accomplished this. However, I cannot resist in passing a few “fish” your way. Here are some resources for people new to the technical world of marketing books online. I know the authors of these free resources and I heartily commend them to you:

Miller Mosaic’s (Phyllis Zimbler Miller and Yael Miller) free report: The Power of 3 - This report walks you through a quick-start of the three big Internet sites that you should start your online presence with: Twitter, Facebook and your website.

The Savvy Book Marketer’s (Dana Lynn Smith) free ebook, Top Book Marketing Tips and The Savvy Book Marketer monthly ezine.

The Creative Penn’s (Joanna Penn) Author 2.0 Blueprint . How to build your online platform and find free or lowcost Web 2.0 marketing tools.

The Spirit Author’s (Lynn Serafinn) 5 free mp3 podcast downloads that captures the wisdom of 18 book experts as they discuss everything from writing, to marketing to publishing your book.

Author Marketing Experts’ (Penny C. Sansevieri) The Publishing Insiders . This is a series of free on-demand and upcoming classes presented through the Blog Talk Radio format. There is a lot of great material to get you up to speed on the technical aspects of book marketing online, and a whole lot more.

Marketing Tips For Authors (Yours Truly) Free Video Marketing Tips For Authors Newsletter . Look over my shoulders as I walk through some of the more technical aspects of marketing your book on the Internet.

I hope these resources and suggestions can get you started. I know the Internet can be a confusing place for authors who are new to it, but there are a lot of people who are willing to hold your hand as you get started. Just take a few small steps at a time and before you know it, you will be the guru helping that new author taking his or her tentative steps into the Internet.

*****

Tony Eldridge is the author of the action/adventure novel, The Samson Effect , that New York Times best selling author Clive Cussler calls a "first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure." He is also the author of the video e-book, Conducting Effective Twitter Contests. You can sign up for his free Video Marketing Tips For Authors newsletter by visiting his blog, Marketing Tips For Authors
.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Sunday Sillies!

Celeberating all that is funny about cats!

Don't forget to caption your own LOL cat below...

And in case you missed it, I had an interview yesterday at Teens Read Too Book Club

funny pictures of cats with captions


funny pictures of cats with captions


AMITYVILLE PET SHELTER


funny pictures of cats with captions


epic fail pictures


funny pictures of cats with captions


funny pictures of cats with captions


funny pictures of cats with captions


And now - caption your own LOL Cat!

Friday, March 19, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different!

"We're knights of the round table
We dance when e'er we're able
We do routines and parlour scenes
With footwork impecc-Able."
 
* BOOK NEWS *

I'm visiting Teens Read Too Book Club on Saturday!
Fridays's stops:
Interview at Red Headed Book Child
Guest post about editing at Mystery Writing is Murder

The battle is on!
It’s a read-a-thon between the Blue Team and the Red Team.
Who are you pulling for?
Kate’s Team Blue at The Neverending Shelf
Or Kristin’s Team Red at Bookworming in the 21st Century

Elana Johnson started a discussion and asked how YOU define success - best-seller, contract, sales, etc?
I stated that to me, real success is based on the number of lives I touch in a positive manner through the message of hope in my books and my speaking.
What’s yours?
Pop over to Elana’s site and tell her What Defines Success
Tell me here, too!

Jamieson Wolf posted this incredible video - “End of Publishing”
Watch it all the way through!


Jamieson also gave me this special award, The Storyteller Award, which goes out once a month:


Thanks so much, Jamieson - hugs!


* CAPTION WINNER *

Another tie! You guys are good...

From Alex J. Cavanaugh - "Does this bag make me look fat?"
And from CC Chronicles - "You want to be green? Find a leprechaun. I'm not giving up my bag!"



* PHOTO OF THE DAY *

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A New Toy for the Display Table!

And it totally rocks!

My husband is too awesome. He came home with an RCA Portable DVD Player for me on Wednesday!

My series has a book trailer and I always thought it would be cool to have it playing during signings and appearances. We've taken the laptop a couple times (I call him "Lappy") but only when Craig can hover protectively over it at all times. We set it up on my display table for the fundraiser/release party the other night:


I guess that got my husband to thinking and he came home with a little portable DVD player that is all mine! ("Lappy" was to be ours, but I don't get to see him often.) Now I can play my book trailer on a little DVD player and add to my display table.

Too cool, because tonight is a speaking engagement at a library that totally rocks for author appearances. Boo-yah!

So what little unique things do you have on your display table? What would you like to get?