Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Confession

I'll admit it-I watch reality TV. Forensic Files, The New Detectives, Snapped, Ghost Hunters (love Grant!)-anything to do with murder and mayhem, or the paranormal-and personally, I refer to these viewing habits as "research." Wait, did I hear someone call out "Be honest-tell them what else you watch, Shirley,"?

(Sound of feet shuffling)

Okay, okay-I also watch Bridezilla! (No, even though I'm single, I do not have wedding veil fever!) The show's about a bunch of bride-to-be's acting like prima donnas and behaving very badly! For example, this week's episode was a real hum-dinger! That young woman expected her fiancé to literally jump whenever she snapped her fingers, and before the episode was over, she'd made both her fiancé and her matron of honor cry! In a previous episode, one got ticked because her expensive wedding veil was the wrong shade and, in a fit of rage, shredded the sucker on camera! (I really wish they'd do kind of a "Bridezilla Revisted." You know...where they talk to these couples again, six months after the wedding? I'm curious to know how many of them are still married!)

I don't know why I watch it-I suppose for the same reason people gawk at car accidents. And it's hard for me to understand why these women would want their nastiness preserved for all time on film. (A nice memento to show the grandchildren 30 years down the road? "Here kids, watch how mean Grandma was to Grandpa!") Anyway, watch it I do, and I'm not proud of it!

Question of the week-do any of you have a favorite TV show, with absolutely no redeeming social value, yet one that you can't help watching??? Come on, ladies, I 'fessed up to mine!! ;)

Until next week,
Shirley

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Release day, San Franciso and RIP to the garden

Happy release day to me, Happy release day to me... The Accidental Demon Slayer is out today. Yay! And to celebrate, I'm:

Getting up at 6:30 a.m. (bad)
Flying out to San Francisco (good)
Dooming my tomato plants to an early death (bad, but unavoidable)

I'm serious about the tomatoes. When I left for the RWA conference in Dallas last year, my loving husband forgot to water my garden for a week. The plants were brown when I got back. In all fairness, he kept the kids alive and fed. That's the important thing, right?

This year, he swears he has the garden covered. Still, the signs aren't good. Number one, my houseplants died untimely deaths when I went to L.A. last month. He even forgot to water the ones on the windowsill above the kitchen sink. Didn't see them. Oh and the ones next to the BBQ while he, erm, BBQ'ed. Didn't see 'em as they turned brown, brown, brown...and stick-like. RIP geraniums.

But that's not the point. The point is that I'm going to be at RWA Nationals this week. *squee* and I'd love to see you if you're there.

#1: I'll be at the Literacy for Life signing on Wednesday night from 5:30 - 7:30
#2: I'll be at the Marriott bar afterward, and on most other nights after the evening sessions wind down

So stop by, say hi. Let's have fun in San Francisco and perhaps raise a glass to the plants that had to fend off squirrels, author deadlines (I did make them turn yellow one time) and the St. Louis heat, only to lose it to RWA. RIP.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Write! It's Good For You!

I haven't been sleeping terribly well lately. I'll wake up in the middle of the night and throw myself around restlessly for an hour or so. I sleep fitfully for a while and then do it all over again a few hours later. I wake up feeling distinctly unrefreshed.

I've been pondering all sorts of reasons for this sudden and uncharacteristic insomnia. I think I finally figured it out: I'm not writing regularly.

As someone in a sedentary profession, I've been trying to take good care of my body. I work out semi-regularly (at LEAST twice a week, though I've been trying for every other day); I've been watching what I eat; I take multi-vitamins; I play outside with my kids at least a little every day, etc. But, I've been completely neglecting my mental health -- which is to say, that for me, I need to write a little every day.... or at least be back on a regular writing schedule.

The funny thing is that, for me, at least, it has to be fiction. I need to let the demons out to play, as it were. Writing non-fiction (aka blogging, etc.) actually tends to make me more restless and agitated -- most interactive/psuedointeractive internet/computer stuff does (which maybe another part of my problem -- I've been substituting video game playing for fiction writing. Bad writer. No biscuit.)

So starting today, I'm going back to writing fiction every night. I'll let you know if I'm feeling better soon. I suspect the answer will be yes.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Truth about Authors

Everyone had such a good time with our contest last week that it got me thinking about the relationship between reader and author. I'll let you all in on a little secret-at least in my experience-most writers (and that includes me!) are somewhat lacking in self confidence when it comes to their work. Whenever I meet a reader at an event and they tell me how much they've enjoyed one of my books, invariably my first response is "Wow, they must've missed how I messed up in Chapter Three! I really could've done so much better with that scene!" (but, of course, I never say that aloud!)

Why are authors that way?? I don't know. It could be because the world we create is from the inside out, or maybe it's because the actual craft of writing is so solitary. Like I said, I don't know, but I do know each and every time I meet a reader, receive an email, or read something positive posted on this blog or others, it truly means the world to me. It gives what I do meaning, and it's what keeps me tapping away on the keyboard even though there's a niggling little thought in the back of my head..."What if this one tanks? Man, I'd have to change my name and write in another genre!" I'd hate that...I really would...I love writing paranormal mysteries!!

So what is my point? (there is one-trust me!) The point is...to all of you who keep buying our books, who keep saying nice things about us and to us...you have no idea how much it means to authors. You bolster our self confidence! You are the most important part of this crazy business. Without you, there would be no business-you're the ones that keep the wheels rolling and the presses churning! And getting to meet you, either in person or in cyberspace, is one of the best things about being an author.

My question of the week? As a reader, if given the chance, what author would you most like to meet??? (To get the ball rolling-I'll tell you mine-Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters. I've read her for years! And if I ever did meet her, I'm sure I'd turn into a blithering idiot! Which would be too bad-I'm told Ms. Michaels doesn't suffer fools gladly!!!)

Have a good one,
Shirley

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Right now...

I'm on the way to Comic Con.

And I'm thinking, what can I ask them while I'm gone? I was surfing the 'net, thinking about this, when I ran across this site: Lush T-shirts. They have some killer gear.

Don't Let the Glasses Fool You -- I'm really an idiot
I'm What Willis Was Talking About
I'm Not a Geek - I'm a level 9 Warlord
and my personal fave...
What Would Scooby Do?

Then it occurred to me. If I was making up a Jax t-shirt -- and I'm not saying I am because merchandising really isn't my thing -- but on a purely theoretical basis, what do you think the slogan would be?

But wait, there's more. While we're on this age-old T-shirt question, if you were making one up for yourself, what would YOUR personal slogan be? I've heard author friends say they need a shirt that says, "Be careful or I'll put you in my next novel."

I think mine would be...

Sarcasm is just one of the many services I offer.

or maybe

I can't remember if I'm the good twin or the evil twin.

Talk amongst yourselves, and I'll be back to check in on you later.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008






Dogs on bikes

I don't know what it is, but there's something about dogs on motorcycles that tickles me. As many of you know, I had to do a lot of research on Harley biker dogs for The Accidental Demon Slayer. In fact, I just finished an article for Publishers Weekly about hitting the road with the Harley dogs. And while I was digging up photos this weekend, it took about five times longer than it should have because I had to stop on every dog pic, whether it was going into the article or not.

So, today I bring you the pooches who didn't make the NY spread, in all of their doggie-ness.








Monday, July 21, 2008

An Embarrassment of Riches

I've been writing professionally for several years now, and this year, suddenly, I find myself faced with something that I've never had to deal with before... I actually have too much to do.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you, but, frankly, I'm used to a little more lesuire (particularly now, which is my "still waiting for the revision letter" time.) Tradtionally, this is supposed to be my opportunity to goof off and regroup before I start the revisions and then begin work on the next Garnet Lacey book.

Instead, tonight I need to write not one, but two synopses. The first is for a science fiction novel that my alternate personality is contracted to write. She/I will also need to scribble out a note to my publishers for cover ideas... which is something I've never had to do before (and I find the thought a bit daunting, though fun.) The other synopsis is for a group book project that a number of other romance writers are trying to put together by September. I'm really excited about this particular project, but I haven't had much time to work on it yet. Tonight, I've decided it's finally time to put nose to grindstone.

No more video games and catching up on episodes of "Lost." I don't want to squander any of these opportunities, so I'm going to have to get cracking. I'd feel anxious about it all, but, at the end of the day try to remind myself that this is one of the best jobs ever, so just shut up about it and thank the God/dess for an embarrassment of riches.

P.S. I finally got some book-sized envelopes at the store on Friday, so I'll be sending out the packages to all the winners from last week's contest! Thanks again for playing, that was a great deal of fun. (Also: I'm still waiting on threee people to send me their snail mail -- if you haven't done it yet, please email me at: tate.hallaway@gmail.com).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not Finished!!!

Wait Angie, don't get rid of the cake yet!! I haven't announced the winners from my post on Thursday!! I dropped everyone's name into my witch's hat and my 10-year old granddaughter pulled out the following:

Dawn
Night critter
Katie
Sidevicious
Nascarandbeans

Shoot me an email (shirley@shirleydamsgaard.com) with your mailing address, and your signed copies of THE WITCH IS DEAD will be on their way!!

Congratulations to all this week's winners, and thanks to ALL OF YOU for joining us for our re-release party!!!

Until Thursday,
Shirley

More winners!

We're so glad everyone could join us for the re-release party this week. And as we all finish off the last of the cake, find our shoes and talk Azteclady off the table (she is a good dancer), it's time to announce some more winners!

Autographed copies of The Accidental Demon Slayer go to:
Dawn
Teathyme&cozies
Lori T

The $40 Amazon gift certificate goes to:
Justanothersahm

Congratulations!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Winners

Since I'm going on the road, I want to get this contest wrapped up.

Congrats to Sidhevicious and Brandy, who won copies of Grimspace. If you live in NYC, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Francisco or Denver (or environs thereabout) I'll be happy to sign it for you during one of my scheduled appearances in the next three weeks. Thanks for playing everyone!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

You Can't Win if You Don't Play


Thanks to everyone who left a message on my post last week, and now to announce the winner of the signed copy of WITCH WAY TO MURDER-Kimmyl! Send me(shirley@shirleydamsgaard.com)your mailing address, Kimmy, and I'll get your book off to you right away!

And while we're talking about last week's post-I think it's very cool that most posts pointed out how we (and I use "we" 'cause I'm with you on this one!)like strong female characters!! Remember the day when most of the women characters were clueless ingénues who waited for the big, strong hero to rescue them at the eleventh hour?? Not anymore-and the shift delights my little feminist heart!!

I also found Natalie Hatch's comment about sidekicks interesting and so true! In Ophelia and Abby, O's main partner in crime, Darci, has been really popular with a lot of the readers. Women seem to enjoy the way Darci is able to turn the table on men!

So how did Darci come to be?? Well, let me tell a quick story to illustrate, and then I'll move on to the more important stuff-my give-away to celebrate our re-release party! Okay…first a little background-I live in the Midwest where things can be rather conservative at times, and every so often one will run into what we'll call (not to step on any masculine toes) an un-enlightened male. One such instance happened several years ago, at an official function. I was asked to take a photograph of another Postmaster receiving a plaque, but unfortunately, I couldn't get the dang camera to work! After several tries, a gentleman stepped forward and offered his assistance. Alright…maybe he was just trying to be helpful, but his attitude came across as "here, honey, let ME do it." As if I weren't smart enough to take a picture because 1. I'm female and 2. a blonde (little did he know-my hair color comes straight from L'Oreal!) Anyway, the end of the story?? HE couldn't get the camera to work either-and let me tell you-that fact gave me no small amount of satisfaction!

When I began to imagine characters, the above story came to mind, and I thought "wouldn't it be great to have this, what appeared to be, ditzy blonde whom everyone underestimated?" Voila…enter Darci. Is she a ditz? Sometimes, but she's also the one who often points O in the right direction when it comes to solving the mystery. AND, she's fun to write!

Okay…enough of that…let's give away some books!!! In honor of kick-butt heroines, answer the four questions below, and five winners will receive signed copies of the latest Ophelia and Abby, THE WITCH IS DEAD. Here's the questions:

1. This one is easy, easy, easy, but no list of strong female characters would be complete with out her…what's the name of J. D. Robb's lead in her "Death" series?
2. Sara Paretsky paved the way for women writers when she created her female private eye. What's the character's name?
3. Though not exactly a "kick butt" heroine, this character isn't above staking a vamp or two, or plugging a were, should the situation call for it. Who's the heroine in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series?
4. This series started over 20 years ago with the letter "A." What's the name of Sue Grafton's private eye in her Alphabet series?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The party continues

This week we're giving away goodies, celebrating the release of our books. This is good timing for me because Wanderlust (Jax 2) is coming out next month. If you haven't already read Grimspace, this is your chance to acquire a copy before the next book comes out.

Anyway, I love this website. It has tech-goodies that could come directly from Jax's world. Here are five things from that site that I totally don't need and I'd love to have.

OHSO Pocket Toothbrush

"Toothpaste is stored in the handle for safekeeping and the window shows you how much paste is in the chamber. Turn the knob clockwise and paste is dispensed though the rubber nozzle on the bristle head. Tilt down and paste is delivered directly to the bristles."

You can also refill it from any tube. Doesn't it look totally future cool? Plus, no more worries about leakage in your bag while traveling.

Pirate vs Ninja Batteries
I don't know if I could pick, though. Regarding the battle between pirates vs ninjas, I admit it -- I've waffled. So what if I buy a pack of each... and power the remote with... both? Will there be a micro-nuclear explosion fueled by the age-old conflict and then my whole house will be sucked into an alternate dimension where everyone is either a pirate or a ninja? I say it's worth $2.99 a pack to find out!

USB Hidden Flash Drive Watch
"Since you are probably the clever type, we suspect you could easily find many places to hide a small USB flash drive. Some of these hiding spots may be perfectly legit, but others might just be too clever for your own good. So, to protect you from yourself we'd like to introduce a watch with the ideal hiding spot already built-in. This watch features an ample 4GB capacity USB flash drive that slips neatly into the watch case."

A 4G (that's huge!) flash drive, cunningly hidden. Isn't that utterly awesome? It's just what a writer needs. I would feel totally like a secret agent walking around with all my books clipped to my wrist.

Titanium spork
"The spork of the gods! Every mythic hero normally has an equally mythic weapon. Zeus had his thunderbolts. Thor had his hammer, Mjolnir. King Arthur had his Excalibur. Frodo and Bilbo had their Sting. Rhydderch Hael had his Dyrnwyn. King Kong had his bananas…you get the idea. It's time for you to join the ranks of the heroes and heroines of lore as you wield your own legendary weapon in your battle against a very powerful foe: hunger."

Sporks are just awesome geekery, and to make one out of titanium? Genius.

Finally, last but not least... here's the one I really covet.

Book Vault

"We've glued two random hardcover books together, drilled out several hundred pages, and boom-shanka! You've got the perfect hiding space for nearly 80 cubic inches of stuff. Place these books crammed full of treasure on your bookshelf, and nobody will be the wiser."

I want this soooo bad. Isn't it the coolest hiding place you've ever seen? And with the amount of books we have in the house, this would totally blend right in. No more losing important stuff!

So that's a glimpse into what I covet. Not diamonds, not expensive clothes. Geek-tech. If you were thinking, huh, I know Ann's birthday is coming up next month, but what on earth do I get her... well, wonder no more.Any of those items would tickle me pink (are you reading this, dear husband?) and at very reasonable prices.

So what stuff do you not need but you'd totally love to have? Tell me what you long for and I'll pick a couple of you to receive copies of Grimspace.

Quick Interruption...

...I thought I should quick post the winners to my contest:

1) sidhevicious
2) retstak.org
3) Ericku
4) CrystalGB
5) nascarandbeans
6) LadyVampire2u
7) batikpuma
8) Janica
9) azteclady
10) Natalie Hatch

If you would please send your snail mail to: tatehallaway@gmail.com, I'll send out your signed copy of Romancing the Dead, ASAP! Thanks for playing, btw. There were many awesome answers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What's Your Biker Witch Name?

Bwaaa, haaa, haaa! It is done. Before we get to the giveaways, I have to announce that after many beers at biker witch bars, not to mention a few run-ins with muscle heads, the official, not-quite-scientific What's Your Biker Witch Name? quiz is ready. And to celebrate, I'm naming a biker witch after one lucky quiz taker. Check it out.

Also, the winners of last week's contest for the last three Advanced Reading Copies of The Accidental Demon Slayer are:
BunnyB
Azteclady
Kimbery B

Woo hoo! Send me your addresses and I'll pop those books in the mail to you.

And of course we're having our blog party this week, she says, stealing a few triple chocolate brownies while channeling Ed McMahon. I'm giving away three more autographed copies of The Accidental Demon Slayer, hot off the presses. The drawing will be on Friday. Just help me uncover the second tray of brownies and tell me your favorite dessert.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Re-Release Party: Tate Hallaway

"Tate Hallaway, party of one!"

First of all, before I get started, I have to take a moment to complain about my Monday so far. It's been the kind of Monday that Garfield would love. I spent an hour at the post office trying to track down a package that the computer tracking numbers SWORE had arrived already, only to discover I'd read it wrong and the package is still on its way. Then, as my son's birthday is coming up next week, I went off to the bookstore to pick up a book I'd put on hold for him several months ago... the key words being "SEVERAL." Of course, they'd cleared out their hold shelf in the meantime, so I spent twenty minutes hunting though the store for "Space Monster Mazes"... though that one, I did eventually find. And, to my extreme pleasure, I discovered that Cynthia Rylant (and illustrator, Arthur Howard,) has a new Mr. Putter & Tabby book out called "Mr. Putter & Tabby Run the Race." If you've had no reason to read children's books, but love them, I absolutely have to recommend this series (which starts with "Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea"). Also, if you have writer friends in your life, Cynthia Rylant has an awesome send-up of the writer's life with "Mr. Putter & Tabby Write the Book."



Okay, now back to your regularly scheduled party. So, how about this? I'll give away ten signed copies of my newest release: Romancing the Dead to the first ten people to tell me what their favorite children's book is/was? Extra points if it's science fiction/fantasy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Something Wicked authors are having a party and you're invited!

Happy Friday! I'm over at my agent's site today, the BookEnds Blog. And having a blast with everyone over at Novel Reads. But please don't be wandering like me, because we're having a huge "Pre-Release Party" next week and the details are right here:

Each and every Something Wicked author is giving away lots of autographed copies of their latest books. Every comment is an entry, so it pays to be chatty. Then, at the end of the week, we'll draw from all of the commenters for a $40 Amazon.com Gift Card! Books, books and...more books! See you there!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Writing Game

I'd always heard "write what you know," and it was one of the reasons that I waited until the age of 48 to give it a go. I mean after all who wants to read about a middle aged mother of four who works for the Post Office? And that's basically what I "knew." Not much excitement there-if you don't include the years my kids were teen-agers. (Plenty of excitement during that time period! But I still don't think Biography is going to be giving me a call anytime soon.)

Finally I decided to try my hand at writing in spite of what I'd always heard. I've always been blessed (or cursed) with a good imagination, so I could make stuff up-pretend that I'd led a much more interesting life. Right?

Well, guess what? I discovered, in the end, you do write what you know. And sometimes it happens without the author knowing it. Case in point-I've mentioned my mom a couple of times now, but what I didn't mention is Mom had a pretty sarcastic sense of humor and she liked to banter. Once, after Mom and I had spent the day together, someone who'd been with us commented to me that I didn't "talk very nice to my mother." She didn't get that we were joking around. Go forward several years-I'd just finished the manuscript for WITCH WAY TO MURDER. I'm sitting in my critique group and we're discussing the pros and cons of the story when one of my fellow authors remarked, "Ophelia could talk a little nicer to her grandmother." Boy, did that ring a bell! Without knowing or attempting it, I'd given Ophelia and Abby many of the same dynamics that Mom and I had shared in our relationship.

So it's not about "knowing" what goes on around you, it's not leading an exciting life with a fascinating career. It's "knowing" what goes on inside of you that winds up on the page and in your characters' hearts and minds. How it feels to love, to have children, to suffer losses and disappointments-all those experiences that make us human-are, in my opinion, what makes for interesting characters.

What are some of your favorite characters and why? Who do you identify with most? The kick ass cop? The sexy private investigator? The innocent ingénue who doesn't have a clue? Let me know AND to whet everyone's appetite for the killer contest that we're having next week, one lucky poster (picked at random) will win a signed copy of WITCH WAY TO MURDER!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Winners! And weird life stuff.

You're all winners, of course. Thanks for helping me out. There were some great ideas.

But the one who gets a copy of Angie Fox's THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER is...

Arkiern. Woohoo! Just email me your name and address; I'll make it happen.

Thanks for the rest of you who played. There will be more prizes later when I know what the book is called. Wouldn't it be cool if one of you came up with the title marketing likes best?

Anyway, I'm being random today, so here's something totally unrelated. First, this:

cat
more cat pictures

How sad is it that this LOLcat encapsulates my life? Only for me it was a dead bird, not dead squirrel. I made the mistake of telling the cat I was mad at him. Whenever I do, he brings me a dead thing to make me happy. Last night, he brought a dead bird to bed, where I was sleeping peacefully and then woke me to show me what an awesome hunter he is.

You should have heard the screaming. Then I had the worst time falling back to sleep. Bird corpses at 3am tend to traumatize me. What's your weird news of the week?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

If you write it...they will make a t-shirt

Oh this is neat. ChariDee over at Novel Reads is giving away "Kiss my asphalt" t-shirts, based on the t-shirt one of the biker witches wears on the very first page of the book. Think it would look too bad if I entered to win???

Clearing out my ARCs. You want one?


I admit it: I like to wear pink shirts and my silver toe ring and, yes, I asked for a paraffin spa kit last Christmas, but I'll have you know that I rarely squeal like a girl. Until yesterday. Because that's when I opened an envelope from my editor to find the very first copy of The Accidental Demon Slayer - hot off the presses. There's nothing like that first book. In print. With a shiny silver title.

And to celebrate, I'm going to clear off the 'ole ARC shelf. You want one? I have three left. Just tell me about a time in your life when you had one of those "squee" moments. The contest runs a week and when the ARCs are gone, they're gone!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Happy Monday!

And it's going to be really happy for one lucky reader because we're announcing the winner of our Friday giveaway.

crystalgb wins an autographed copy of La Vida Vampire. Yay, Crystal! You're going to love this book.

Thanks again to Nancy Haddock for stopping by and stay tuned because we have a really big giveaway (huge) coming up here on Something Wicked. Trust me, you don't want to miss it.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Red, White and Boo!

Happy 4th of July to our American readers! Today, we're welcoming Nancy Haddock, author of the award winning La Vida Vampire. Her book is so fresh and quirky - I just loved it. And you could win your very own autographed copy. Today. Check it out.

Many thanks to Angie Fox for inviting me to blog, and kudos to you who are taking time out of your holiday to stop by!

Independence Day is a time to celebrate freedom. We have parades, picnics, and BBQs. We go to the lake, go to the beach, go to those rockets-red-glare fireworks displays. We honor our military men and women who have served the country. And, perhaps, if we're of foresight, we honor those who will serve in the future.

I also celebrate something else: The right to read and write what I want.

I love paranormals of any flavor in any genre.

Paranormal dark and edgy.
Paranormal light.
Paranormal with a mix of each.

Witches, wizards, warlocks.
Faeries, dragons, gargoyles.
Vampires, shape-shifters, demons.

Well, okay, depending on the demon, I can love 'em or hate 'em. But that depends on how the writer handles the character, right?
Yep, if it goes bump or boo by day or night, I'm a fan! Superheroes? I'm a fan there, too. I'm such a huge paranormal fan that I want to kick bad guy butt (creature or human!) and live to kick more.

We live in a time and place where we not only have the freedom to read what we love, we have the freedom to write what we love. Any flavor of paranormal (or non), any level of sensuality, any genre. We have the freedom, and we have the power!

So, corny as it may be, I say, "Hurray for the red, white and boo!"

What do you celebrate on the 4th? What freedom do you hold most dear as a reader and/or writer? Leave a comment to let me know, and you'll be entered to win an autographed copy of La Vida Vampire. Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ant or Grasshopper?

I'm a grasshopper-not ala David Carradine in KUNG FU-but as in the old tale of the Ant and the Grasshopper. Remember that one? The industrious ants who worked hard laying away stores for the winter while the silly grasshopper fiddled?

Ants are so organized-my oldest daughter and several of my girlfriends are ants. They have "to do" lists and they get to make nice big check marks on it as they move through their day. They're always on time and they always have exactly what they need when they need it 'cause they've thought ahead. They have grocery lists and don't wander up and down the aisles aimlessly trying to remember why they came to the store in the first place like I do.

I want to be an ant-I really do. I make "to do" lists, too, but then I misplace them. I enter my schedule on my calendar, but then I forget to look at it. I've even tried setting the alarm on my cell phone, but wound up answering it when it rang and then couldn't figure out why no one was there. (Okay, that's a slight exaggeration-yes, the cell phone did go off, and yes, I did answer it-hey, it's a new phone and I haven't learned about all the bells and whistles yet-but I was already on my way to my appointment!) I can remember what month someone's birthday is, but for the life of me, I can't remember the date. My life would be so much easier if I were only an ant!!!

Functioning as a writer would be easier if I were an ant. In addition to the writing gig-I work full time, and most days, there doesn't seem to be enough hours to get everything done. I also have a home to maintain, children and grandchildren to spend time with, and, oh least I forget, trying to train my wayward dog into being a better citizen! (that's a long story I'll save for another blog!) I always start out with the best intentions-yes, I AM going to write five pages today-but before I know it, the day's finished and I've only TWO pages done not FIVE. Great, now I'm behind schedule and I've a deadline looming. Talk about stress!

I know I'm not the only one trying to find balance-most people lead very hectic lives. So how about you? Are you an ant or a grasshopper? And if you're an ant-got any tips?

Take care and happy Fourth of July to everyone!!
Shirley

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Title Madness

As some of you know, I've recently sold a paranormal romance series. My new Ava Gray site has just launched. (Thanks, Frauke!) It looks gorgeous. The details of the sale are here. You should read that because it's going to come into play later in the post.

All done? Great. Now I'm working on a title for the first book. I'm not very good at this, so I need your help. We need something sharp, sexy, and edgy. I have ten titles, but I don't know if they're any good, so I'll include them here.

Uncontrollable
Know When to Hold 'Em
Crazy Wild
Missing the Mark
Taking Advantage
Double Kiss
Even Money
Lock Artist
Playing the Score
Ring Game

The last five are pool slang, and the meanings fit the plot. You can look up the phrases if you're so inclined. Anyway, here's what we're doing.

In comments, give your opinion of my titles and pick your favorite. If you don't like any on the list, then give an alternate (more than one if you want.) Next Wednesday, I'll pick a random winner and send them a copy of Angie Fox's THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER. As a further incentive, if your title (the one you pick / suggest) is chosen by marketing, you'll receive a signed copy of this paranormal romance. (It's not coming out until December 2009, mind you, but you'll get one!) But wait, there's more. If you actually come up with the title we use for the book, I'll also mention you on the Acknowledgments page.

So put on your thinking caps and let's go.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Unexpected pleasures

As those of you who read my author blog know, I'm at the ALA conference this week (the American Library Association). Of course, in between running around meeting library folks and signing a few things here and there, I'm also having a lot of fun. And it only got better the other night.

My aunt, who is Deputy Director for the St. Louis library system, was able to snag us tickets for an ALA event in Disneyland. I haven't been to a Disney park since I was seven years old. Then came the big surprise.

Here's my aunt and I as we were getting ready to leave the hotel room for Disneyland:
Aunt Diane: You're wearing that?
Me (in my kicky skirt and heels): Sure
Aunt Diane (talking slowly, trying to be nice): It's Disneyland.
Me: Well, but it's a networking event (translation: standing next to a fun ride at Disneyland while sipping wine and chatting).
Aunt Diane: This isn't a planned event, Angie. We're going on rides.
Me: Eureka!

I was in shorts and a t-shirt quicker than you can say "Space Mountain."

Because, let's be honest, there's nothing better than a surprise, fun trip. Plus, I hadn't been on any of these rides since I was a kid: Pirates of the Carribean, the Haunted Mansion, Star Tours. It was So. Flipping. Cool.

We rode the new Indiana Jones ride (loved it), wondered why they had a band playing classics like Boogie Wonderland in Tomorrowland (still don't have an answer for that) and snapped pictures inside a twirling tea cup.

And while Disneyland is always going to be amazing, what made it truly perfect is that I wasn't expecting it. So what about you? Have you encountered any unexpected pleasures lately?