Thursday, January 29, 2009

Going to the Dogs!


Ann and Angie have been talking about zombies and vampires (Can't wait to read the anthology, Ang!!), but unfortunately, I don't have much to add so I'm taking it in a totally different direction. Dogs...do we have any dog lovers out there?? (From vamps to dogs-talk about veering off!! 8) )

Here's why I've been thinking about dogs recently-it's an anniversary of sorts-a year ago this month I adopted Roxy. And little did I know what I was getting myself into!! She's definitely a "Marley!" She's taught herself how to open the refrigerator door (loves raw pork chops btw!); she's destroyed my glasses (I found the pieces lying out in the yard, which was a trick since I can't see two feet without them); she's eaten numerous tubes of Chap Stick; she has a fondness for underwear, dirty socks and shoes; and she's amused herself while staring out the front window by shredding the living room curtains (we won't talk about what she's done to the carpet in the hallway!).

Her habits? She's a master at "snatch and run." (However DROP IT! called out in a loud voice usually takes care of that one.) She feels it's her responsibility to check out every visitor who walks in the front door by giving them a thorough sniffing from the tops of their shoes to as high as her black, little nose will reach. She likes to hide things...disgusting things...particularly under the cushions on the couch and in my bed (Surprise!! What do we have under my pillow???) And she thinks toilet water is the elixir of the gods (luckily she hasn't figured out how to lift the lid...yet!)

Roxy hates cats, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, and men who happen to be carrying something in their hands, but loves kids, getting scratched behind her ears, and lying on my feet while I'm reading or watching TV. She would also rather play than eat and can catch whatever you toss at her. She can jump through a hoop, lie down, roll over, shake, and give you "high five." (As long as you have a treat in your hand, you have her undivided attention and she'll do anything to get you to part with the food!)

Her manners may leave a bit to be desired, and when she gets bored, she can sure tear stuff up, but Cesar Millan says you may not get the dog you want, but you'll wind up with the dog you need. And I guess, for me, that's Roxy. She reminds me that life can be simple if we let it and small things can make us happy. Hey, it may be four below outside, but to her, not a problem-it's great to play in fresh snow. And is there anything better than tossing around a tennis ball? She doesn't think so.
What about you? What have you learned from your pets? Or do you have any favorite pet stories? I'd love to hear them!

Have a good one!
Shirley

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's not easy being...


From vampires, I'm going to segue into SF. First, let me say, being a scifi fan abroad is not easy. (Being a SF fan who's a broad isn't easy either, but that's a different post.) For starters, books need to be special ordered and shipping paid. When we order from Amazon, it costs as much in shipping as I pay for the books. Ouch!

So maybe e-books are the answer? But DRM makes my life difficult. Not all e-books work on all readers (and it's not the same to curl up with an e-reader as having a paperback's heft when on the couch). You can't entirely replace the tactile feeling of a book: the smell of fresh paper, the slick cover beneath your fingertips, and the weight of it in your hands as you flip the pages. You also can't hug an e-book when you finish a book and you have that totally-in-love feeling. Mind you, I do love the e-reader for immediate gratification and I'm highly curious about this one.

Even trying to keep up with the new crop of TV series can be complicated; episodes air four to six weeks late when they air at all, and not all series make the jump to international markets. We lost track of Battlestar Galactica so many times (it kept shifting day and time) that we were so behind we gave up and are resigned to buying the DVDs (which are also hard to find.)

There are significant markets for books, shows and films outside the U.S. more than happy to pay a small premium to get our fix. And we have the technology to distribute content relatively easily across borders.

So what do you think stops us? Why do companies market solely to the US? Many times, if you try to purchase (purchase, mind you!) digital content outside the US, it will tell you that market is not supported. Is it because they think every international customer is sitting ready to purchase their first copy and then bootleg a billion more? Isn't there something we can do? I welcome your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Blood

I finished writing my first vampire story yesterday and I've got to tell you, it was a lot of fun. For years, I've read everything from the Sookie Stackhouse books and MaryJanice Davidson's Queen Betsy to Kresley Cole's Immortals and (of course) Sherrilyn Kenyon. Heck, I skipped class in college for a week when I discovered my first paranormals - Ann Rice's Interview with the Vampire series. Those books were so new, so fresh and they basically started the modern vampire romance genre.

So what took me so long to write one? Aside from liking demon slayers and biker witches, it seemed like there were a lot of vampires out there already. Why not do something else? Turns out, the lure of the vampire was too strong [add your own Dracula bwaaa-haa-haa sound effects here]. They're publishing a sequel to The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance and I was asked to take part.

Ann (from this blog) was also asked and we started PMing each other about the vampire myths out there and what we could do that hadn't already been done.

Ann's finished story is awesome and I think I did pretty good too. But this whole experience has made me pay a lot more attention to what appeals to me about the genre. I like the bad boys, and the idea that eternal life = eternal soulmates. I'm not too sure about how the women always seem to change to become like the men. I really like how different authors create their worlds - some vampires can walk in the light, others laugh at garlic and it gets me every time when holy water thrown in her face makes Queen Betsy sneeze.

For some reason, I like it when the heroes have a tragic past. JR Ward does this so well. I like that they can be reformed and who doesn't go for an eternally gorgeous man? But it makes me curious. If you read vampire books, what appeals to you? And what (if anything) drives you crazy?

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Book Deal!

I'm happy to announce that my agent just brokered a three-book deal with my publisher for a new series! I'll be writing a YA (young adult) about a fifteen-year old girl living in Saint Paul, Minnesota, who has a vampire prince for a dad, and a mom who's a real Witch.

Yipee!

Of course, the deadline is October '09, so that makes three books I need to finish this year. *gulp* Of course, I'm not complaining. We should all have such an embarrassment of riches!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Apocalypse Prep

Building on Angie's talk of zombies yesterday, clearly I need to touch on the need to develop an apocalypse prep kit. Since 2012 is closing on us at lightning speed and those crafty Mayans were pretty dang sure that's the end of the world, you'll want to be ready for it. Whether it's an alien invasion, a series of natural disasters, a comet hurtling toward the earth, or the arrival of our much anticipated robot overlords, you still have to complete some basic preparations.

  • Buy dry goods and bottled water
  • Reinforce your basement
  • Install adequate ventilation
  • Stock your shelter with plenty of books
  • Get a generator
  • Make friends with a crazy-eyed survivalist. (It's better if he's hot, as you may be stuck repopulating the world with him later.)
  • Shop for weapons with him.
  • Learn basic self-defense in case the zombies / aliens / robots get into your bunker. (This does not mean re-watching the first season of Supernatural.)
  • Select a fitting soundtrack for your seclusion. (I recommend creepy oldies songs such as those found in Fallout 3, including Way Back Home, I'm Tickled Pink and Butcher Pete.)
  • Buy cheap spare clothing on eBay. (You won't be going to the mall for a while.)
  • Learn to sew. (See prior point.)
  • Embrace gas-mask chic.
If you need more help getting ready for the apocalypse, please see these helpful links:

Emergency Kits
Urban survival tools

So now you're ready to stock your shelter. What's going in your emergency kit?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In case of zombie attack...there are a few things you need to know

In this day and age, it's good to be prepared for anything, right? Well, that and as most of you know, I have a weakness for online quizzes. Just ask me to choose an answer, punch in a number, give an opinion and I'm there. With that in mind, I introduce you to the What Are Your Chances of Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse? quiz.

There are some valuable things to be discovered. First off, I learned that my penchant for immense Sam's runs is a good thing - yay! But I am a bit lacking when it comes to blunt objects in the house, firearms training and the ability to make Molotov cocktails. Oh well. 69% isn't too bad, is it?

What's your score? We need to know who to choose as our Zombie Apocalypse Leader.

Not Much to Say Today...

...I'm busy watching history.

You?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Accidental Demon Slayer winner

Happy Friday! It's time to celebrate with the Dangerous Book giveaway. Thanks to all who posted and to my husband who acted as my random number generator (a very scientific method of closing his eyes and pointing his finger - what won't that man do for me?). He was so good that I had him do it twice.

The winners of the authentic, demon slayer-approved Kiss my Asphalt t-shirts are: Shawn and Carmen. Email me and we'll talk about how to get those shirts out to you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nothing in Particular

Brrr...it's Iowa and the high today is supposed to be a whopping -2 degrees. Yes, I said -2 (and that's the high folks-low is supposed to be -9)!! Get out the longs johns, the wool socks, and the blankies!! If I didn't have to go to work, today would be a good day to hibernate...curl up with a cup of hot tea, a box of chocolates, and read. And what would I read? Well, in addition to my favorite authors, I'm quite fond of "People" and "Us" magazines. Okay, it's more than fond...I read them every week and they're basically my window to the world. If it's not in "People", I don't know about it. (Yeah, it's sad when one looks to an entertainment magazine for news!! 8) ) I'm up on Bradgelina, Jen and John, Jennifer Lopez's latest problems, and where all the stars went to celebrate New Years. (not Iowa-that's for sure!! No, they went some place WARM!)

But the last couple of weeks I've been a little disappointed in my two favorite magazines-instead of the latest dish on the stars, they want to talk about dieting and exercise. Okay, I know diet and exercise are important, but come on...these people work out two hours a day and many with their own personal trainers. So "Have a Body Like Jen"? I don't think so!! Who has that kind of time?? Not me...and the closest I ever get to a personal trainer is popping in my yoga DVD to struggle along and try to imitate what the instructor is doing. But on the other hand, reading about how fit they all are winds up making me feel a little guilty about my own lack of nutrition and exercise.

So what am I going to do? Not read those articles any more? No, one of my goals for the New Year is to improve my lifestyle. And not just for the sake of vanity...I'm going to do it to be healthier. I'm going to limit the chocolate (didn't expect me to give it up completely, did you?) and eat less carbs (btw-I consider popcorn one of the major food groups! 8)) Instead, I'm going to eat more fruits and veggies. I'm going to attempt to get at least some exercise. I may not have two hours a day, every day of the week, but surely I can find twenty minutes during the day to get off my duff and move! I'll let you know how it works...8)

What do you do to stay in shape? What tricks do you use to motivate yourself to live a healthier lifestyle? Just please don't tell me you exercise two hours a day! ;)

Last thing--the winner of last week's give away...Sarabelle. Send me, shirley@shirleydamsgaard.com, your address and I'll get your signed copy in the mail!! And thanks to all the poster's over the last few weeks for participating in THE WITCH'S GRAVE give aways!! We'll be having more later.

Take care, and to all the other Midwesterners out there, stay warm!! See you next week!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Writing

If you read and enjoyed the LOL-cat earlier, excellent!

I am now at liberty to write my actual post. The picture was a placeholder because I've come to realize that I have to discipline myself about getting my work done on a daily basis. Blogging, facebook, twitter, MySpace, answering emails -- those have to wait or I may wind up killing the whole day in extraneous or non-essential pursuits.

That's a problem because a writer is someone who writes. Not when the mood strikes or they feel like it or it's too cold and rainy to do something more fun. Though this is the best job in the world, it's still a job. There are business issues, monetary concerns, and deadlines to consider. Once you sell, your world cannot be governed wholly by sparkly muses in gossamer gowns.

People have asked me how I manage to produce every single day (well, five anyway - Monday through Friday). They ask, what's your secret? Some people say I'm an inspiration; others say I'm a machine. In my opinion, neither is true.

I simply treat this as my work. In the morning, I do my work before anything else. I mean, if you worked in an office and you spent eight hours in your email without contributing anything else to the company -- and you did it day after day, how long would you last? Now maybe there are certain inefficient corporations where you could cog along, collecting a paycheck, but that doesn't mean it's the best way to get ahead.

Therefore, I set aside 9-5 as my work hours. I do skim my email first thing to make sure there are no fires I need to put out, but after that, I close it down, and dive into my WIP, where I stay until I've written at least 1500 words. With my Jax books, that's about a chapter and I do two a day. At that point, I take a break and reward myself with a little more email (make sure nothing's gone wrong) and maybe Twitter a bit. I walk around a bit, maybe fix myself a cuppa tea. (This is my equivalent of the coffee break.) Then I get right back to it. I keep working until I've cleared my goal of 3K. Sometimes I get it done insanely fast. Today, for instance, it took me 2.5 hours to write 3K. That's something of a record, and the book was just clicking along. Sometimes it takes my alloted 9-5 and I don't screw around a bit, but the words are coming slow, and I'm not quite sure what the hell I'm doing. Either way, I don't knock off until the work is done.

Since I finished early today, I made myself a yummy PBJ with cherry jam for lunch and now I get to do fun stuff like blog, send emails, chat on Twitter, and read some of my RITA books. This kind of work ethic reinforces itself if you do it five days a week. It's really not so hard to treat this like a day job and work accordingly. But better than any day job, if you meet your goal, you can knock off early and do whatever the hell you like with the rest of your time, which is a massive incentive to write like a fiend. I really don't think I'm the only one who can succeed going at it this way.

Give it a go!

That is, if you don't already have a day job. In which case, ignore everything I just said. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Confession Time

Okay, I have a basic question about human nature and tell me if you have the same issues or if I'm just a freak.

It takes me forever to decide on house decorations like wall colors, wallpapers and my current bane - curtains.

We've been without curtains in our master bedroom since we moved here in the summer of 2003. No before you think we're flashing the neighbors or something, we do have the blinds that came with the house - plain, white, and very non-light-blocking blinds. As a quick fix (five and a half years ago), I bought a sleep mask so I wasn't awakened every morning at 6:00 a.m. with the sunrise (or whenever the sun rises). Well, the thing is kind of uncomfortable, so I leave it off until the sun comes up, and then feel around aimlessly on the nightstand for the mask. It's inconvenient. It's annoying. But I do it every day. For five and a half years.

Why? Because I can't decide on curtains. What if I choose wrong? What if I don't like them? What if my bedroom, my sanctuary, suddenly looks dorky to everyone but me? And why do I care since nobody sees it anyway?

I don't usually have this kind of trouble with decisions. I approved some promotional art for The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers this morning while talking to my son and fishing a toy out of the toaster (don't ask). I fell in love with my car in a day, my house in a weekend, heck two years was all it took for me to marry my husband. But the curtains? Five years and counting.

What about you? Do you ever have trouble decorating a part of the house or is it just me? And if you are a savvy type, can you tell me what colors go good with blue walls?

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Race is On...

So, I have tendency to drink too much... caffeine.

And when I do, I say silly, foolish things. Like the last time I was sitting around with my fellow writers in our critique group Wyrdsmiths, my friend Kelly McCullough mentioned he was trying to finish his book by the end of February. As it turns out, so am I. So I said to him, I says, "How about a little friendly competition then, eh?"

Well, now the race is on.

I'll let you know how I'm doing here, too, if you don't want to bother checking in at the Wyrdsmiths blog. But, I should tell you something about myself: I'm a Scorpio and I'm well and truly motivated by competition.

Bwah, ha, ha, ha, HA!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Something Wicked welcomes Lisa Hendrix


First, a hearty thanks to Wicked Angie for inviting me over. I love play dates, er, guest blogging. It gives me the justification to catch up on favorite blogs (I have to limit myself most days or I'd spend all my time flitting blog to blog) and lets me visit with old friends and make new ones, just like my kids used to do at the park.

It looks like the Wickeds are merrily making resolutions like the rest of America. I don't know why we do this to ourselves all at once, like the lemmings in northern Scandinavia, all headed out to conquer new territory just at the same time the other rodents also head out. We'd all be happier, and likely more successful, taking on these challenges one at a time, as needed, instead of saving them up for this yearly orgy of massive, doomed change and self-recrimination.

Not that I don't join the rush toward the cliff. See HERE and HERE for evidence. But at least this year I only picked a couple of things. In the past, I've made lists of ten or twenty items that I really, really wanted to change, none of which ever got done. It was all just too much, and once I failed on one item, the rest seemed pointless. I'm intending better for myself this year, so I've limited myself to two major goals: finish my next book and drop 40 pounds and get more fit in the next 6 months. Then I upped the ante by announcing them--and my weight, egad--on my blogs and thus setting myself up for possible public humiliation if I fail.

But I have other motivation to help nudge me along.

On the weight/health front: I really want to be thinner for RT in April. IMMORTAL WARRIOR has been nominated for a Reviewers Choice Award for Best Historical Paranormal Romance. If, by chance, I win, I want to go up on stage looking a little more like Candice Bergen (with whom I was once compared by a flirt in a bar, bless his drunken little soul) and a little less like Sophie Tucker. Are any of you Wickeds old enough to remember the magnificent Sophie? I doubt it. She was the Bette Midler of her time, but rounder. See her HERE. Anyway, the only possible way I can get down to fighting weight is to get fit, too, so I'm walking my ass off as I cut carbs.

On the writing front: I have another book coming in June, IMMORTAL OUTLAW, and I desperately want to have my WIP done before I have to go into major promotion mode. I learned this time around that promoting and hitting deadline at the same time is a great way to drive myself into the ground...and put on 10 pounds from stress eating, which is counterproductive to my first goal.

So, as you see, my goals are based on the highest of ideals: vanity and self-preservation. ;-)

So, now it's your turn. Put it on the line. What are your goals, and how are you motivating yourself?
---
Lisa Hendrix is the author of IMMORTAL WARRIOR and the upcoming IMMORTAL OUTLAW (June '09, now available for pre-order at Amazon and other online sellers). You can find out more about the were-bears, were-ravens, were-eagles, were-lions, and other hunky beasts that make up the Immortal Brotherhood at her website, http://lisahendrix.com/, where her January Jumpstart contest is also live right now.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Short and Sweet (Sort of!)

Hey, I hope everyone's 2009 is off to a great start!!

The past week was rather hectic for me-I had my first event for THE WITCH'S GRAVE at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines (they still have a few signed copies available if anyone's interested). Thanks to the fact that I live in Iowa and it's winter, the 40 mile drive home was interesting!! As in "white knuckle, keep it between the lines, Shirley!" interesting. Rain, turning to sleet, turning to ice!!

So now the winter blahs, mentioned last week, have hit, and I'm dreaming of white beaches and frosty drinks with little umbrella's in them!! Is there anyone else out there who would like to escape the gray doldrums, too? If so, the question of the week is, if you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? As I said, for me it would be somewhere with sand, sun, and lots of warm water!! (To say nothing of all those little drinks! Lol) Share and I'll give away one more signed copy of THE WITCH'S GRAVE!

And speaking of THE WITCH'S GRAVE, last week's winner is Shawn. Shoot me an email (shirley@shirleydamsgaard.com) with your address, Shawn, and I'll get your copy in the mail!

Have a great upcoming weekend!!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A look forward and a glance back

What have I been up to, you ask?

Well, in December, I wrote two short stories and was sick as a dog. One of the stories will go up in March on my website in the Free Reads Section. That's called EXILE'S LAMENT and is written in Vel's POV, first person-past tense. The other story is called CIRCLE UNBROKEN and it will be in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE ROMANCE. I'm not exactly sure of the release date, but I will keep you posted.

Looking ahead...

I have BLUE DIABLO coming out on April 7.

I've just gotten word that the ARCs are available and I'm getting 15 of them! I'll be running contests here and there, giving them away, so be watching for that in the next couple of months.

In the spring / summer, you can find me at RT and RWA.

Then in October, you get a look at DOUBLEBLIND, the 3rd Jax book. Sorry, no sexy cover art, yet.

Finally, in December, you can buy a copy of SKIN GAME, which will be out under Ava Gray.

In my opinion, you don't want to miss any of this. I'm looking forward to a great year. What plans have you made?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dangerous Book Giveaway

I'm glad to announce that the galleys for The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers are in! That means no more tweaking, no more goofing, no more fiddling around (and I love to do all three - especially with a finished manuscript). It also means the production folks at my publisher are probably tossing left over Christmas rum balls at my book covers at some of the smaller word changes. But every word, every description does make a difference. Right?

If not, well, just nod and smile. Humor me. The galleys are gone anyway. Which means that for the first time, I can release the first chapter of The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers. Yay! In this book, Lizzie is determined to take charge.

Here's the blurb:
Accidental demon slayer Lizzie Brown and her grandma's coven of biker witches have rolled into Sin City to take out a super-sexy succubus who has her eye on world domination-and worse, Lizzie's man. Coming April 28, 2009.

And to celebrate, I'm giving away a Kiss My Asphalt t-shirt, like the one Lizzie's biker witch grandma wears in The Accidental Demon Slayer. Leave a comment and you're entered. The contest runs all week.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Resolved: Write Every Day

My New Year's resolution for 2009 is to write something on my novel projects every day. I'd really like to write at least a 1,000 words, though 2,000 (given my deadline) would be even better.

For the other authors on this list... how much do you/can you write in a day?

Unfortunately for me, I've never been a really speedy writer. Many moons ago and under a different name, I once did a book challenge that was sponsored by a bunch of speculative fiction writers who'd all attended Clarion Workshop. This was back in the days before the novel in a month gig, and we set ourselves the goal of trying to write 60,000 words in a month. As we say here in Minnesota, I had a heckuva time trying to write that much. In fact, what I ended up producing was pretty much dreck. It's still in my virtual sock drawer. Every once and a while I dust the electrons off it, and try to decide if it's salvageable. I usually come back with the verdict that it's beyond repair. At least not without a total re-write from the bottom up, and the idea just isn't worth that effort.

I guess I tell this long and involved story to illustrate my great fear -- I hope that even though I have to write a lot (fast!) this year, I hope to high heaven it doesn't completely suck! (Or if it does, it hope it "sucks" in a good vampire-y way!!)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's 2009!!!!

What a week!! I missed my post last week due to Christmas and now here it is a week later...New Year’s Day!! A new year—a fresh start!! But first let me tell you how the year ended for me.

It was a busy week, first Christmas—had a great one even if it was slightly chaotic (check out my latest post on my blog if you want to know just how chaotic!! And no, no orbs in any of the pictures.) Then I had a bunch to do to get ready for...ta da...the release of THE WITCH’S GRAVE on the 30th! As a result of all this work, I now have a Yahoo group (anyone interested in joining check out it out. Love to have you!); a MySpace page (it’s thanks to Angie and Dorine at Millennium—I tried setting it up myself—not so good!); and was targeted as a spammer!

Now how, you might ask, did I get accused of spamming?? Well, it seems if one sends out too many emails a day, MSN automatically assumes that you’re spamming. Since I tried to email over 600 newsletters to people on my list, I kind of sent up a few red flags on MSN and they shut me off for twenty-four hours! With no access to email, I felt like I was going through withdrawal!! Here the book was out and I couldn’t email anyone!! Talk about frustration! Ah well, now that I have the Yahoo group set up, I’ll never again have to go through that. From now on, all newsletters will be sent via the group. (BTW—if anyone on this blog has signed up for one of my sporadic newsletters and didn’t receive it...please let me know!!)

On to more important stuff—who won a copy of THE WITCH’S GRAVE from my post on 12/18? Caffey!! (Send my your mailing address shirley@shirleydamsgaard.com, and I’ll get a copy off to you!)

Okay, let’s give away one more copy. (I promise I won’t miss posting the winner next week! ;) ) So what should the question be??? Everyone’s talking about New Year’s resolutions, and though appropriate today, I personally try and avoid them!! (For me, they’re just a ticket for a guilt trip!! 8) I never seem to follow through with them.) How about this instead...what’s on your “to be read” pile...and no, you can’t mention any of our books! (Of course we hope you do have them, but let’s hear about some authors not mentioned here yet. 8) I’m always looking for new books to read...they’re a great way to beat the winter blahs!) Share yours and your name will be entered in the drawing!

That’s it for now—I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2009!!

Best,
Shirley