Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Out on a breaking limb

This post is outside the norm.

J. Kaye and Arlee Bird gave me the Versatile Blogger award last week and I still need to share seven things about myself.

I’m going out on a limb with this one.

Everyone’s so positive when blogging, presenting themselves in the best possible light. After reading so many posts lately on writing, publishing, promoting, etc., everyone appears to be an expert, too! Everyone’s got great aspirations or just landed a big contract or they’ve a thousand followers…

So Spunky’s just gonna be real.

Seven things:

1. I can’t keep up with the online stuff. It feels as if my life revolves around access to the internet, and I still can’t keep up. I feel bad I can’t visit all the bloggers who follow me…

2. I’ve lost the drive to write, which is not good, as I’ve a deadline looming. But my current project, while a good career move, doesn’t excite me and the research is overwhelming. I feel as if I’ve taken on something that is way over my head.

3. My speaking gigs are steady but not growing. I’ve not done what I need to do in that area.

4. Despite a fantastic day at Quarter Moon Books last Friday, I’m bummed about book sales. Book V was the best reviewed and the best thing I’ve ever written, and yet… Meh. Probably won’t write another fiction piece again.

5. I hardly take photos anymore and I’ve turned down several wedding and portrait gigs this year. Not inspired there, either. My Deviant Art friends probably think I’ve died.

6. And just so you don’t think Spunky’s totally in the dumps, everything else in life is going well - still happily married, finances great, we’re healthy, etc.

7. I just need to find time to energize and reinvent myself. But what to let go… and would anyone even notice?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

"The BBC would like to apologize for the poor quality of the writing in that sketch. It is not BBC policy to get easy laughs with words like bum, knickers, botty or wee-wees."


So how does a first-time author get a book deal and become an Amazon best seller? Talli Roland features tips from author John Williams

Nicole is in France and posting beautiful photos from her trip - and she has a contest involving an item from France! Visit One Significant Moment at a Time for details

Seven tips for the introverted author at Marketing Tips For Authors

Clarissa gives us some tips on character development at Listen to the Voices

Jane’s Ride wants to know - what is it with writers and cats?

New study shows teens and young adults are turning away from blogging - L’Aussie Writing

Help DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude complete his mission to find a blogger from every country and every state!

Need some new movies to watch this summer? Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Movie Dirty Dozen Blogfest inspired sixty fantastic lists!

Saw this on a ListServ - 80% of the traditional offset book business will be dead in the next decade. Unfortunately, 80% of publisher’s revenue still comes from print.

And on Monday, I am visiting At Home With Books with some of my book signing experiences. Come smile at the joys, cry at the failures, and share in the wackiness!

PS - and if anyone's at the NC beach today, I'm visiting Quarter Moon Books on Topsail Island!


First, some wonderful blogger gave me an award last weekend and I don't remember who!!! If you gave me an award and I did not comment or thank or anything, please let me know!! Spunky has lost her mind...

However, I do know that J. Kaye and Arlee Bird gave me the Versatile Blogger award!

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.

2. Share seven things about yourself. (I'll tackle that next Tuesday, okay?)

3. Pass this award along to bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason!

4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.

I am passing this on to:
The Alliterative Allomorph
Alissa at Slightly More than Dirt
Snippy Snuffulapakins at My Thoughts Exactly


Touring for a YA series and one non-fiction book brought me in contact with some amazing book bloggers. Over the next few months, I’d like to feature some of these awesome people who dedicate their lives to reading and blogging, leading others to discover and enjoy new books.

Let me introduce you to Michelle, the Red Headed Book Child Don’t let that fiery red hair scare you - Michelle has the sweetest spirit!

A little about Michelle, in her own words:

As my blog header states, I am indeed a full-time mom, a part-time bookseller, passionate reviewer and real red head!
I spent the last ten years working as a very busy bookstore manager which further enabled my addiction to books!

I have since made the transition to be a full-time SAHM with my own little red head and now work a few days a week as a part-time bookseller. I also work at a non profit with children, another passion of mine.

I'm also addicted to cookies and have two incredibly high maintenance cats and a husband who reads faster than I do.

I started this blog to continue recommending wonderful books to those in my life and to new people as well.

Visit Michelle at her blog Red Headed Book Child and follow her on Twitter @RedHeadedBook


Another difficult week!!! We have two runner-ups:

“Quick! Pop the screen, I got the window!” Meg Meg - Writer For Life
"Hold on I almost got it." Donna at Write What Inspires You

But the grand prize (of a warm fuzzy feeling) goes to Helen at Straight From Hel (And she keeps winning - I think she missed her calling of comedian!)

“I asked for two inches, but, no, Catzenegger has to open it all the way.”


For those of us swealtering in the heat right now... Hobbes, enjoying her Albuquerque snow!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Authors and the Media

Today I welcome Jonathan Bernstein, author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay: Media Training.

When breaking news relates to the topic of a book, can authors take advantage of that without coming across as exploitive?

The answer is a resounding “yes” – I’ve done it myself, frequently – but it’s critical to remember these guidelines.

1. Don’t “stretch” the connection. Make sure that what you have to say is truly relevant. For example, as I’m writing this, General Stanley McChrystal has resigned as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. If you are an author with expertise in crisis management, the military, the wars in the Gulf, politics and any number of other topics, the media would like to know you’re available as an expert source.

2. Make sure that, when you give an interview, you give your book credentials as well as other relevant professional credentials. For example, I always tell reporters that I’m “Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. and author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.” Recently, that got my book mentioned repeatedly – and flashed on the TV screen – during a five minute Bloomberg News interview.

3. Use publicity tools such as the many available free press release services, and blog tours such as those provided by Promo 101, to seed the Internet with mentions of you and your book. Then when the media uses Google to find an expert source, they’ll find you.

Here, from my book, are some tips for dealing with reporters after you’ve “hooked” them.

1. Be helpful to reporters. They have come for a story. Define it for them. Be as open, frank and engaging as possible without revealing any sensitive issues your organization might have. Reporters know you have boundaries, but they will ask anything.

2. Be honest. If you aren’t, you’re likely to (a) get caught, sooner or later, and (b) suffer far more damage than you would have otherwise.

3. Be concise with your answers. Talk in headlines; state your conclusions first, e.g., “There has been an accident at our plant, everyone is safe, emergency responders are on the scene and we are assisting them as requested.” Then, if time permits, give more background information.

4. Use anecdotes, when possible, to support and/or illustrate your message points, particularly anecdotes that involve real people, versus hypothetical situations. When a major restaurant chain endured a food contamination situation that sickened dozens of people at some of its restaurants, the CEO went to the states where this occurred after it was clear that the problem was contained and in the past. When he spoke, one of his strong message points was “We’re not just company spokespersons, we’re also our own best customers, we eat at (name of restaurant) all the time, and we’re going to have lunch at the local (name of restaurant) today.” The media loved it and it was well-received by the public.

5. Don’t use jargon. Jargon and arcane acronyms confuse your stakeholders – a surefire way to make a crisis worse. Let's check out a few taken-from-real-life gems:

a. The rate went up 10 basis points.
b. We're considering development of a SNFF or a CCRC.
c. We ask that you submit exculpatory evidence to the grand jury.
d. The material has less than 0.65 ppm benzene as measured by the TCLP.

6. To the average member of the public, and to most of the media who serve them other than specialists in a particular subject, the general reaction to such statements is, “Huh?”

7. Take your time before answering questions. Pauses are effective. Even on TV, unless it’s live, all the pauses will be edited out and only your answers used.

8. When awaiting questions, maintain a neutral or, if appropriate, pleasant expression. Do not look guarded or defensive. A good reporter, or cameraman, watches your face all the time.

9. Do not repeat, or nod your head affirmatively, to a false premise or misleading question. Immediately correct the questioner politely and firmly.

Remember – you’re the expert, unless proven otherwise!

[Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training is available in hard copy and PDF formats at The Crisis Manager Bookstore and in hard copy and Kindle versions at Amazon.com.]

About Keeping the Wolves at Bay: Media Training

Anyone who has achieved some degree of success in business, government work, helping run a non-profit organization, or any other field may be interviewed by the news media. This is a rich opportunity to gain positive publicity, but you can also find yourself in a position where you look bad. Jonathan L. Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., has varied professional experiences, including public relations, crisis management, journalism, and covert military intelligence operations. Bernstein is a regular guest commentator and expert source for national media outlets and PR Week described him as one of 22 individuals nationwide "who should be on the speed dial in a crisis."

About Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay: Media Training. He is a former journalist and a veteran of five years in U.S. Army Military Intelligence covert operations. He is also publisher and editor of Crisis Manager, a first-of-its-kind email newsletter written for “those who are crisis managers whether they want to be or not,” currently read in 75 countries. Bernstein is a regular guest commentator and expert source for national media outlets and PR Week described him as one of 22 individuals nationwide “who should be on the speed dial in a crisis.”

We invite you to join us for the Keeping the Wolves at Bay virtual tour. The schedule and more details can be found atBook Promotion Services. For more information and to get your copy, visit The Crisis Manager or Amazon

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Movie Dirty Dozen Continued

Because there were just too many good movies!

Sponsored by Alex J Cavanaugh The Movie Dirty Dozen's official post date was Monday, and I posted my twelve films. Today, I am continuing my list as I left off so many great films.

This list is in no order and just a mixture of fun, watchable flicks!

My favorite Pixar movie! Sweet story and the whole film is a work of art!

The Dark Crystal
Jim Henson's epic fantasy - soon to have a sequel!

Big Trouble in Little China
My favorte John Carpenter movie! Silly, cheesy, and with Kurt Russell. What more can I say?

The Matrix
One of the top sci-fi films out there - just amazing!

A throwback to B monster movies and one heck of a fun ride!

Raiders of the Lost Ark
This is the movie upon which all adventure flicks should be based - it's perfect!

Star Trek IV
My favorte Trek film - so many funny lines and it's got whales!

Better Off Dead
Of all the teen flicks out there, nothing tops John Cusack in Better Off Dead. "Two Dollars!!"

Doc Hollywood
A really sweet film. I wish our Southern town looked like that!

When Harry Met Sally
A perfect ten on Rotten Tomatoes. This movie came out when Craig and I were first dating and we had to laugh - we were a Harry and Sally!

Golden Child
A quirky fantasy saved by Eddie Murphy's wit! "There's a whole thing of Tic Tacs in my pocket. Take as many as you like!"

The Road Warrior
Mel Gibson and the best car chase ever. Enough said!

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Hey, my Friday post isn't a tribute to Monty Python for nothing! Love this movie!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Movie Dirty Dozen Blogfest

Sponsored by Alex J Cavanaugh today is The Movie Dirty Dozen Blogfest!

Let me begin by saying that I survived the Fifteen Fantasy Island Favorites. I left a couple albums out, but I was happy with my fifteen choices.

Selecting just TWELVE movies was almost impossible!! Later this week I will be posting my list of The Other Movie Dirty Dozen, as too many missed the cut that deserve a mention.

I have no one favorite movie (the first five are my most favorite) so they are in a general order.

Let me present to you my Movie Dirty Dozen.

My list might surprise you…

I remember seeing previews for the movie, and a music video of “Is Your Love Strong Enough,” and experiencing chills. Surely, the movie isn’t as dreamy and gorgeous as the preview and video? To my utter delight, Ridley Scott’s fantasy epic fulfilled my expectations! And I have seen both versions - European director’s cut and American version - and the one with the Tangerine Dream soundtrack wins hands down. That is the most haunting soundtrack I’ve ever heard! The USA version is missing some key scenes, but so is the European version, most notably the sight of the male unicorn losing his horn. Somewhere between the two is a perfect movie. However, this has remained one of my most favorite movies for almost twenty years. And yes, I cried when Jack and his gang come upon the dead male unicorn. Okay, I’ve cried more than once…

This movie not only blew me away back in 1984, it sparked a fascination and admiration for James Cameron’s directorial style. Like all of Cameron’s films, at its heart, The Terminator is a love story. Separated by time and brought together for barely one day, Kyle and Sarah’s love and struggle to survive stirs the soul. I enjoyed the following two sequels (and pretend the fourth never happened) but the first movie remains my favorite to this day. I wish we could’ve seen Cameron’s vision of a future ruled by machines on the screen…

I recall following the production of this movie - until one fateful day star Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) was accidentally killed on the set. It seemed doubtful it would ever come together after that, but the crew finished the movie without Brandon, and in the spring of 1994, released an incredibly sorrowful tale on the world. Based on a graphic novel of the same name, which was also inspired by true life tragic events, The Crow gains its power from Brandon and the performance of a lifetime. Perhaps knowing this was his final film - that his death, on top of the death of the original creator’s fiancĂ©, was ingrained into the movie - made it all the more powerful. The Crow is a powerful tale of love and revenge.

Yes, the 1981 animated film. So sue me. It’s my guilty pleasure movie! I saw it eleven times in the theatre, owned a bootleg tape, and own it on DVD and Laserdisc. I loved the soundtrack, which was an awesome blend of heavy metal and rock. (I have three copies of that!) While the animation was an odd blend of good to sub-par (due in part to eight different studios working on segments of the film) the visuals and music really stuck with me. Ultimately, my love of this movie has to do with the final segment - Taarna. I’d love to own the original score, as it was so powerful during the last twenty minutes of the movie. And the story of Taarna, a warrior willing to sacrifice herself to vanquish evil, really struck a chord in my heart. (And that's Taarna on the poster.)
Oh, and I also own the making of the movie book, the t-shirt, two official movie posters, and my D&D character was called Taarna.

Since it is ultimately one long movie, I’m listing the trilogy as one pick! These films were so majestic, so well-done, so true to the spirit of the books, it’s incredible. (And even better, they skipped all those boring pages of description…!) No need to describe them, as everyone has seen LOTR, but it’s the ultimate fantasy story. (And considering their box office take, even more powerful than a wizard called Harry.) Fellowship is probably my favorite of the three, and my favorite character is Pippin. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hang out and cause trouble all day long?

From here, it gets real fuzzy… And the kid in me emerges.

I’ve been a Muppet fan since Kermit first sang “It’s not easy being green.” Loved the TV show, loved all the movies… This one hits a special note! Made in honor of the late Jim Henson by his son, Brian, the Muppets tell the tale better than any. We watch it every Christmas Eve, reveling in the music, laughing at the humor, and yes, crying at least twice during the course of the movie. The perfect Muppet film!

This is my favorite Disney animated film! One of the last cell animated movies ever made by the studio, this film takes full advantage of its humorous cast. Almost every line is a laugh riot! I quote it all the time - “Uh-huh! Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh!,” “You threw off my groove!,” and “I win!” Love the character of Kronk! Sting’s song at the end is great, too.

This movie came out the year I was born and as a child, I watched it every time it came on TV. I also owned the movie on record, so I listened to it repeatedly. (This movie was a big influence on my love for animals, especially cats!) This is the true story of Elsa, a lion raised by George and Joy Adamson, and then trained to return to the wild. The sequel is Living Free, which follows Elsa’s cubs. The movie will tug at your heartstrings, and while it has a happy ending, I watch it knowing what happens to Elsa just a few months later. Needless to say, I spend half the movie crying. My husband says I’m not allowed to watch it anymore…

I fell in love with Scrat from the first moment I laid eyes on the acorn-loving critter! The noises he makes are priceless. The characters are so quirky and it’s a touching tale of friendship and forgiving. I really dig prehistoric animals, too! They can make Ice Age sequels forever.

I never read the comic strip, but I adored the movie. RJ’s tricks to entice the other animals to forage in the human’s domain result in some priceless adventures. Hammy the squirrel is easily my favorite - probably because I’m just about as hyperactive. (Although I’ve tried energy drinks and they do not make me so fast the world stops - darn!) Great cast, too!!

I love animals and this was such a fun and goofy tale. The voice actors did really well with their characters. Ultimately, the penguins steal the show. Watching them hijack the ship and plan the retrieval of Alex was great. I’ll keep watching these sequels as well. (At least until they suck!)

This one just makes the cut! When thinking of movies I enjoy (beyond the first five on this list, which are my favorites) I considered movies I can watch over and over again. This is one of them. If I wander through the living room and my husband has located it on a movie channel, it sucks me in every time. I like Bruce Willis as an actor and Gary Oldman is such a twisted and quirky bad guy. It has adventure, science fiction, and love. And the funniest scene in the movie? The main fight sequence on Flotsam Paradise - Chris Tucker’s character screams like a girl through the whole thing! Plus it’s got some great lines. Leeloo- “Multi-pass. Mul-ti-pass.” Corbin- “She KNOWS it’s a multi-pass!”

And that is my Movie Dirty Dozen!
What's yours?

Friday, June 18, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

"It's not pining, it's passed on. This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker.This is a late parrot. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn't nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies. It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot."

"Well, I'd better replace it, then... Sorry guv, we're right out of parrots... I got a slug."
"Does it talk?"
"Not really, no."
"Well, it's scarcely a replacement, then is it?"


Roland posted a great and insightful writing tip at Writing in the Crosshairs

Christine asks the question at Make Mine Mystery - Why would anyone want to be a writer? (LOL - certainly not for the money!)

Two great online conferences!

WriteOnCon for kidlit authors - registration opens July 1. This is the conference’s first year and the ladies are working hard to put it together!

The Muse Online Writers Conference on October 11-17. Affiliated with the award-winning sites and Writer's Digest Top 101 Writing Sites: The MuseItUp Club & Apollo's Lyre. Deadline to register is August 15! This conference has received the award for best online writer’s conference from Preditors & Editors for the past few years and Lea Schizas works SO hard to pull it together.

And Tara at Feel of Something New gave me the Journey Award! Thank you, Tara!


In honor of Father’s Day. Alissa at Slightly More Than Dirt suggested we write a post about our fathers.

My father was a gentle and creative spirit. My fondest memories come from the hours I would spend with him in his workshop. He was a carpenter by trade (although he worked for the state doing blueprints) and he was always building something. We didn’t have a lot of money, so he built quite a few of my toys, including four different doll houses. He was a rock hound, and I loved to polish his collection while he worked. He was also an avid photographer and shot everything without the use of a light meter. It is from my father that I developed a passion for photography and pursued my dream of professional photographer. He died when I was eleven, but if he could see me now as a photographer, author, speaker, and married to a wonderful man who shares many of his qualities, I know my father would be proud!


You guys make this so tough! This week it is a tie-

"Made in China. Some parts may be missing." From Helen Ginger
"All I want for Christmas is my two front ears, my two front ears, my two front ears." from Stephen Tremp


It’s been a while since I posted Steve’s Bad Day and many of my newer followers have never seen this video. It’s my husband’s third animation and he spent eight months creating this eight minute mini movie. It’s very funny and deserves so many more views than it’s received. So please enjoy Steve’s Bad Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Writing Settings with Elizabeth Spann Craig

Today I welcome Superwoman herself - Elizabeth Spann Craig! She writes, promotes, blogs, teaches, and raises kids - and I have no idea how she accomplishes so much. Only Superwoman would have the time to visit Spunk On A Stick's Tips...

Writing Settings—Should You Use Real or Made-Up Locations?

For some writers, settings can prove a real challenge. Should you use a real place to base your setting on? Or make up a setting location completely?

I’ve used both a fictional setting and a real setting and found pros and cons to both.

Real Setting Pros:

• I found it a little easier to make the setting come to life. I could write about places I’d actually been—and convey what I’d seen and heard and felt in a very solid way. For my Memphis Barbeque book, Delicious and Suspicious, I tried to make Beale Street come alive. There weren’t just things to see there—there were barkers at restaurant doors calling out the evening’s specials. There were young men doing back flips down the street. There was music coming out of every door. It was easy for me to relate these things because I’d been there, seen it, and heard it.

• It’s nice to be able to market a book to a specific town or readership. When you send ARCs to the town’s newspaper, it’s great to be able to say that you’ve set your story there.

Real Setting Cons:

• You can date your knowledge…and your book…if you’re not careful. I felt very safe mentioning the Peabody Hotel in my upcoming release because it’s been around since 1869. And Graceland isn’t going anywhere—that was a safe mention. But I was careful not to bring up other places that might not have the same degree of longevity. The economy has been brutal for restaurants in particular, and I don’t want to date my book by mentioning a place that might go out of business.

• Readers might contest the setting information that you put in your book. You have to be very careful and very accurate.

Fictional Setting Pros:

• You’re dreaming up everything about your setting. The freedom that you can do anything with your setting—put in a lake, make a famous botanical garden, stick in a ski slope—can be a nice creative trigger.

• No one can argue with you about your setting because it’s completely made up.

Fictional Setting Cons:

• Making up a place from scratch can be a lot of work. In my Myrtle Clover series, I had editors question me more than once about the physical layout of the town. I had to end up sketching it out (and I’m a really terrible artist) to make sure I hadn’t written anything that just didn’t make sense as far as layout.

• It can be a little harder to make the fictional setting come to life. You really have to brainstorm what the location looks like. And that takes time away from your plot and characters.

What if you’ve decided to write a setting based on a real place? And…what if you’re not a resident of the location?

Sometimes it’s fun to set a novel in a place that’s interesting or exotic. My editor thought Memphis, Tennessee, would be an exciting place to write about and I agreed. While I’d felt very safe writing a fictional setting for my Myrtle Clover series, there’s nothing quite like having a real, living, breathing town to write about and try to capture on paper.

So how do you go about researching a setting?

Nothing beats visiting the location, of course. I took a family trip to Memphis last summer when I knew I had a series based there. I spent hours walking through the city, soaking up as many of the sights, sounds, and aromas as I could. I made sure I saw different parts of Memphis, too—not just the parts the tourists see. And I took pictures of everything. I looked like the biggest tourist on the planet. But I just didn’t know what I might need for a future book. I took lots of notes and lots of pictures.

Talk to a resident. This is a great way to find out little nitpicky things that you might not be able to learn online. I needed to know if someone could reasonably walk from one part of town to another—and I asked a resident to get the answer. If you’re on Facebook, you could ask a general question: “Anyone know someone who lives in Memphis?” and you have a good chance of finding someone who has lived there, currently lives there, or has a friend who lives there.

Google Images. Google Images can be a great tool if you’re trying to write about a very specific building or location for your setting. I wanted to see the number of trees a particular park had in it…Google Images gave me the answer.

Google Street View. Here again, Google comes to the rescue if you’re trying to realistically portray your setting on a street level. You can put in an intersection and use your cursor to pan the street you’re interested in. You can get a great feel of the type of place it is—how much commercial property or residential property the area has, etc.

Contact the Chamber of Commerce or the Department of Tourism for the town. Those folks are usually only too happy to help you out. They can mail you brochures, talk to you about the town, etc.

Have a librarian help you find books and articles on your setting if you don’t want a high-tech search or are writing something historical.

Fact check with the specific location you’re writing about. Yes, I did call the Graceland staff to do some fact-checking for Memphis Barbeque book two. And they were gracious enough to give me information on the seating capacity of the wedding chapel on the grounds, along with other information.

The important thing is to set your book in a place you’re excited to write about—whether that’s somewhere from your imagination or a real place you either know or want to discover. Which type of setting do you usually prefer?

Thank you for visiting today, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin as Riley Adams, the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink (under her own name), and blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010. Delicious and Suspicious releases July 6, 2010. As the mother of two, Elizabeth writes on the run as she juggles duties as Brownie leader, referees play dates, drives carpools, and is dragged along as a hostage/chaperone on field trips.
Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers Kitchen
Elizabeth Spann Craig

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Bookshelf - Reading and all Participate!

A little twist to Tales From The Bookshelf!

Most of my blog visitors are readers or writers. But if you’re a writer, shouldn’t you also be a reader?

After hanging out with writers and authors for the past few years, I’ve noticed something odd. There’s a lot of writers who no longer read.

Now I understand writing sucks up a lot of time. But if the act of reading contributed to our learning as writers, why would we stop?

So, to spur on our reading habits - let’s have some fun!

We all discuss the books we read and write. Let’s break out of our comfort zone for a bit.

Name a recent book (under ten years) you’d recommend that is NOT popular or a best seller or by a best-selling author:
Bad Day for a Fat Boy by Dirk Robertson

Recommend a similar type older book:
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip, a book I reviewed a while back.
Now for a challenge! You’re standing in front of your favorite section of the bookstore. If you’re a writer or author - your genre. Now, move to completely different sections and recommend an author:
Reading and writing eliminate three sections for me, so I'll just wander over to the horror section and recommend H.P. Lovecraft.

What are your recommendations?

Just some quick news:
Elizabeth Spann Craig is visiting on Thursday, so be sure to tune in!

And just found out my eBooks are now available at a reduced cost! Check out Amazon, B&N, iBookstore, or my publisher’s site.

Friday, June 11, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

In the frozen land of Nador they were forced to eat Robin's minstrels. And there was much rejoicing.


Simon at Constant Revisions takes us through the Cycle of Blogging!

India Drummond found this Wasteline Test for your writing that’s really cool.

Elizabeth discusses Obstacles for Writers at A Good Blog is Hard to Find

The value of a casual self-interview at Marketing Tips For Authors

DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude discusses blog years. How old is your blog? (In blog years, mine is ancient!)

B. Miller’s short story is now available in “Out of the Blue” magazine!

Do you need some writing inspiration? Check out these motivational quotes at Laura’s Wavy Lines

And Crystal has returned!!

Thanks again to Jemi and Marvin for allowing me to guest post on their blogs this week!


Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs gave me the Meat and Potatoes Award!

“This prestigious award goes to a particular group of wise and experienced bloggers who have proven themselves over the course of time, trials, and tribulations. If you are looking to follow someone’s guidance for writing, publishing, and promotion, then I suggest you look no further than this esteemed group.”

Thank you, Stephen! I don’t know it all - just enough to be dangerous. And I’m too redheaded stubborn to give up!


Selecting this week’s caption winner was difficult! There were so many good ones and I recommend you go back and read all the entries - The Sunday Sillies

Special mention goes to:
"Live Long and Prosper." Laura at Wavy Lines
(Appeals to my inner Trekker!)

But the big winner, as we love The Princess Bride:
“Hello. My Name Is Inigo Meowa. You Killed My Father. Prepare to Die.” From Tamara at Get Your Giggle On


This is what I'd rather be doing right now!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Query - What to Send and to Whom

Last time I discussed querying publishers as well as agents to increase your chances. Today - what to send and to whom!

Also, I am visiting Just Jemi today, discussing how to write a book series.

Before you do anything, what is your manuscript’s specific genre? Check the BISG (Book Industry Study Group) site for a full listing of all genres.

Now this may seem obvious, but many writers miss the mark - only send your work to agents or publishers who publish your genre. You’re only wasting your time, money, and effort if you do otherwise. Do your research. What books does that press publish? What genres does that agent represent? Become familiar with the titles and authors. This will also help when you write your query, as you’ll be able to mention specific titles.

You also need to discover what they are currently accepting. Check the website, as it will be more up to date than publisher listings or agent books. A press that publishes romance might only be accepting historical romances at that moment. Again, don’t waste time and money sending the wrong genre.

At this point, you know your genre, you have a list of publishers and agents currently accepting your genre, (and you’ve checked Preditors & Editors) - now what do you send? Two magical words:


Every publisher and agent has submission guidelines. Those guidelines are in place for a reason. Some writers look upon them as mere suggestions, but if you want your query to attain anything beyond a form rejection letter, you need to treat them as rules.

The submission guidelines are like a checklist for editors. They have stated specifically what information they want to see in the query letter. They may request additional items, such as a synopsis, outline, marketing plan, or sample chapters. With every letter or email they receive, they run through their checklist. The omission of even one item can be grounds for immediate rejection.

Think of it as making a good first impression. Publishers and agents aren’t reading your query letter just to see if your manuscript interests them - they are noting how well you follow directions. You can write the best book in the world, but if your query is lacking (or improperly formatted, etc,) then it is doubtful any editor will want to see it. Why? Because you just proved you are incapable of following directions. Publishers and agents do not want to take on ‘troublesome’ authors.

When submitting your work, be sure to send exactly what they are requesting!

Friday, June 04, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

All right, all right, all right. We'll kill him first and then have tea and biscuits.


Bonnie tells us how to tame the social network monster - Fiction Matters

Jo-Jo is giving away copies of “Men and Dogs” - Jo-Jo Loves To Read!

Alex is hosting The Movie Dirty Dozen Blogfest on June 21 - Alex J. Cavanaugh Join in the fun!!

How we blog and comment is the talk of the town! Visit Elizabeth at Mystery Writing Is Murder and Michele at Southern City Mysteries

A gallery of literary feuds - The Daily Beat (Courtesy of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management )


You've not seen a movie review in a while! That's because Spunky's been so busy, she hasn't seen any movies!!! Well, I finally caught one on NetFlix...

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
One of my foster daughters LOVED this series. I never had an opportunity to read any of the books, and approached this movie with hesitation.
Totally unfouded! This movie was a hoot! It possessed such a quirky sense of humor from start to finish. John C. Reilly was perfect as the vampire - droll and sarcastic. Salma Hayek is in it, too!
The story follows Darrin, who unwillingly becomes a half vampire to save his best friend. He joins the other freaks in Cirque du Freak's camp and becomes involved in a war between the vampires and the vampenezee.
What struck me was the genuine humor and innocence of this movie. It's a shame it did not do well in theatres (thanks to another vampire movie) as this series has been around for a while and there could've been many more movies.
On a side note, I've not seen either Twilight or New Moon - but my husband has and said this was a far superior movie!


A Spot of Red - do you see the ladybug?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Uber-Beyond-Belief Giveaway Winner!!!

Thanks SO much to everyone who commented and entered my giveaway!

My followers list exploded - so if you have followed me but I've not followed you back, PLEASE leave a comment below and I will correct that situation. I tried to keep up with the new followers, but I am sure I missed a few. Sadly there were several with a Goggle account, but no blog - or not one on Blogger or Wordpress that I could find.

Fell shy of the 250 followers mark, so no gift basket. But the winner does receive a gift card and all five books in The Circle of Friends.

And the lucky person is...

Wendi P !!!!!

Congratulations, Wendi!

Thanks again, everyone!!! Hugs to all!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

How Do You Blog??

Observing the posting habits of the Internet Blogger...

I pose the question - how do you blog?

Do you have a posting schedule? Schedule posts to automatically post at a given time? Fly by the seat of your pants?

I have a posting schedule (currently five days - may go down to four) and it helps me stay on track with my posts. It also eliminated those moments of  "what the heck am I going to post today?" as each day has a scheduled theme. I'm also a big believer in pre-scheduled posts. Friday is the only day I can't schedule in advance!

Do you respond to comments? In your post or by emailing? Or by visiting that person's blog?

I used to be bad about responding. I'd read them! But not until recently did I start responding in my own post. (Thanks, Jemi!) I know emailing replies is very popular right now, but I get over 300 emails a day as it is - and very few are spam!!! And I confess - if you comment here without ever following me, there's a chance I will never see your blog, as I often forget to follow commenters back to their blog.

How do you go through your bloglist? Using Google Reader? The Dashboard? Your side bar? By folllowing comments?

I'm still under the magic limit of 300 blogs that I follow, so I still use my Dashboard. My side bar is in desperate need of updating, so I rarely use that. And following comments? See above!
I think a lot of people visit blogs in that manner, though. On days I don't comment on many blogs, I dont' get a lot of comments. Which is ironic, because I don't base MY commenting on who comments here as much as I simply go through recent posts in the Dashboard. I supposed I should follow comments more often, as I know there's bloggers who never comment here even though I comment on their blogs often...

What is your commenting tool of choice? Catch-phrase? Owner verification? Comment box that opens separate from blog?

As you can see, no catch phrase or verification here except on posts older than four days. Sorry, I'll be blunt and honest - they drive me bonkers. Guess I'm just naive to believe no evil person will comment on a new post. And I've noticed comment boxes that come up separate from the blog post (or as a whole new page) are MUCH easier to deal with than embedded ones.

When do you post? Morning? Afternoon? Evening?

I post in the morning, usually by 7am or so. A couple days out of the week I'm gone in the morning, but that's usually my prime commenting time. Next is afternoon. Evening bloggers - unless you post REALLY late, I will probably miss your post, as I only go back about 7-8 hours when checking in the morning. Most of my fellow bloggers are morning - afternoon people anyway.

Now, how about YOU??? What are your answers to these burning questions? I might tally and post in Friday's "And Now For Something Completely Different."

And a BIG thanks to everyone who entered my contest! Winner will be announced Wednesday...