Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Since ghosts inhabit my Pepper Martin mystery series and Halloween is my favorite day of the year, it only seems fitting to run a quiz all about the holiday! Try your luck and see how much you know about October 31.

1. Is a pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable?

a) fruit
b) vegetable
c) Can I saw "all of the above?"
d) Got me!


2. Halloween originated from a pagan Celtic holiday. What was the name of it?

a) Uh...Halloween?
b) Samhain
c) Summer's Over
d) I know nothing about pagan Celts, just hand over the Peeps!


3. When the Romans took over Britain, they transformed Samhain into a holiday honoring Pomona, the goddess of fruits and gardens. They considered one fruit sacred, and these days, the tradition of honoring her has been transformed into one bobbing for this item. What is it?

a) Pumpkins might be fruits, right? How about pumpkins?
b) Apples
c) In the Charlie Brown Halloween special, it was Snoopy!
d) Peeps


4. With the rise of Christianity, the holiday was changed again to honor the Eve of the next day, a Holy Day. That day is called

a) All Saints Day
b) All Souls Day
c) I Ate Too Many Peeps and My Stomach Hurts Day
d) Let’s Dig out the Snickers We Held Back from the Kids Day


5. What percentage of Americans say they decorate for Halloween?

a) 86%
b) 99%
c) 15%
d) What? You mean not everyone has a Halloween shower curtain?


6. What percentage of pumpkins grown in the US are used for jack-o-lanterns?

a) 86%
b) 99%
c) 15%
d) All the ones that don’t get smashed


7. The first official Halloween observance in the US was in 1921 in

a) Hey, Cleveland rocks! It must have been Cleveland
b) New Orleans
c) Anoka, Minnesota
d) New York City


8. Jack-o-lanterns were originally used because people thought their light would frighten away ghosts. The first jack-o-lanterns were carved from

a) Duh! Pumpkins
b) Turnips
c) Marble
d) Peeps. Big Peeps


9. Which company runs a "Flavor Graveyard" on its website?

a) Peeps
b) M&Ms
c) Ben & Jerry’s
d) Jello

10. What is Casey Daniels’ favorite holiday?

a) Her birthday
b) Christmas
c) St. Patrick’s Day
d) Halloween

Answers

1. A. Pumpkins are fruits. They are members of the gourd family which includes cucumbers, squash and melons

2. B. Samhain. To the Celts, the word means, "End of Summer." They believed that on Samhain, the veils was thinnest between the world of the living and that of the dead.

3. B. Apples. Even though Lucy did lock lips with Snoopy when she bobbed!

4. A. All Saints Day. That’s how the name "Halloween" came about. The next day is "all hallows," = all that is holy = all saints. So the night before is Hallows Eve.

5. A. 86%

6. B. 99%

7. Anoka, Minnesota. That had to be the right answer, I couldn’t have made that one up!

8. B. Turnips. Leave it to the Irish!

9. C. Ben & Jerry’s. If you haven’t been there, check it out. Very cute.

10. That’s an easy one. Pass the Peeps!

Today at 1 o'clock, I'll be signing copies of my Pepper Martin mysteries at the Waldenbooks at Great Northern Mall, North Olmsted, Ohio. Stop by!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!!

Can you believe it--tomorrow is Halloween!

Even though I have never been a fan of being scared (I HATED those cheesy haunted houses you were trotted through as a child, especially ones where some misguided adult thought it would be funny to grab the unwitting blond kid) I've always loved Halloween.

The first Halloween I remember I was a ghost. I wore a pillow case. Yep, a pillow case and it reached my ankles. My best friend was also a ghost, but she was a female ghost with an apron. Other years we dug out costumes from around the house. Things like my mother's old Cinco de Mayo dress from high school, or a pieced together frontiersman outfit from my regular wardrobe. (I had an extensive collection of fringed purses, moccasins and such.)

Then in college I got a little more "real", but I still made my own outfits. One year I was a witch. I sewed gauzy scarves onto a black scoop necked shirt for sleeves and paired it with a skirt, hat, etc. I also remember a repeat of a childhood costume--go go dancer. (Except as a child I had the white vinyl boots, wow.)

Now I have kids to dress and I have to admit I have gotten lazy. I still can't bring myself to pay retail, even at Target, but I do regularly hit eBay.

So, how about you? What were your favorite costumes of years gone by...and if you were (or are) to dress up today, what would you be?

Here's a list of this year's hot costumes...Michael Jackson, anything Twilight/vampire, anything zombie, and for the kids set...transformers and princesses. Look for them! Oh, and I'm betting there will be more than one H1N1 virus slamming down some spiked punch somewhere...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Party at my place

Ann Aguirre's RAZORLAND, about a girl from an underground enclave in which no one lives past the age of 25, who is exiled out of darkness to the uninhabitable surface in punishment for a crime she did not commit, to Liz Szabla at Feiwel and Friends, in a very nice deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in Winter 2011, by Laura Bradford at Bradford Literary Agency (NA).

Things are awesome with me. Next week, I'm heading to the beach for a vacation, where I'll be relaxing at the Mayan Palace.

Because I'm so happy, I'll share the good fortune with you guys. You can pick any title from my backlist (I'll also pre-order books for you) and I'll send it to one lucky winner. To enter, just comment and ask for the book you want. (Remember, if we preorder, you get it when it ships) Contest wraps up next week.

Mazel tov!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Benchmarks

I have a strange benchmark for success.

I'm going to feel like I really made it as a writer when someone decides to write fan fiction about my work.

Say what you will about fan fiction, but I love it. It is so creative and fun. I think it is probably one of the purest forms of flattery a writer can receive. Unfortunately, I feel like I have to take the "I love it, but I just can't read it stance," due to complications that could arise if I ever did read it, but I'd love to know it was out there and people were having fun with it.

I used to write fan fiction. I honestly felt I couldn't have learned the things I learned about writing without stretching my wings in front of a live audience. I probably wouldn't have continued to write without other fan fic writers cheering me on. I feel I owe a lot to fan fiction.

I've heard other writers get a little squicky about the idea of fan fic, but I think for the most part it is harmless so long as everyone in the community behaves. There are rules, and just like writing, breaking the rules loses you readers.

I don't know if I really want to know some of the things other people would do to my characters, but that's part of the fun, so I can't really complain. I've got my own ideas for torturing, *ahem* excuse me, plotting out stories for my characters, so I don't mind if others want to get creative.

I've seen some wonderful, and frightening, but mostly wonderful stuff in fan fic land.

If anyone chooses to write it, my only advice is to be good to one another. You're throwing writing, (and someone else's ideas) out for free in cyberspace. That's a scary thing. Be true to the spirit of the original author. Respect boundaries of other people's work. Don't copy anything and call it your own. And enjoy the community of fellow writers by being kind.

So long as everyone plays nice, fan fiction can be a lot of fun.

So here's my question for you guys.

What do you think of fan fiction?

Is it good, bad, ugly, fun? And how does one woo fan fiction authors of television shows or movies of a similar style to your novel over to your books? Is there more authors can do to reach out to fan ficdom?

Jess

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Indy and Back Again!

Back from Bouchercon, the World Mystery Conference, and so glad I went! It was a hectic couple days, and because of a book signing in Cleveland on Saturday, I had to leave early, but it was well worth the drive to Indianapolis for such a great conference.

My favorite parts? Well, I got to see a couple former editors (I’ve had so many, there are a lot of "formers" out there!) as well as my current publicist and publisher. Met with some old friends, made some new ones, spoke on a panel about mystery and romance and how they work together or against each other in books, and did a signing where I met a lot of really nice readers.

I also got to tour a book distribution warehouse.

OK, I know you’re going to say what a friend of mine said when I met her down in the lobby as I was on my way to the tour bus. "Why?" Well, I signed up for the tour of the Hatchett warehouse because I thought it would be interesting to see the process our books go through from printer to bookstore.

I wasn’t prepared to be so completely fascinated!

Now, I’ve never visited a distribution center of any kind before, so for all I know, they are all this efficient, organized, computerized and clean. But I’ll tell you what, the Hatchett warehouse (all 800,000 square feet of it) blew me away! From the moment each book comes into the warehouse until the moment it leaves, they know where that book is at all times. Their systems are mind-boggling and their capabilities were amazing.

Do book pickers need five copies of "Dead Man Talking" for an order? OK, as long as we’re speculating, let’s reword that.

Do book pickers need twenty-five copies of "Dead Man Talking" for an order? Then they scan their pick-up forms and a light goes on at the bin where the book is kept. Does a tow motor driver need to grab an entire pallet of my books? Then that driver can scans an order form, and a mumbo-jumbo magic radio control thingy in the floor of the building (don’t you love all that technical talk?) takes the tow motor to the exact spot where my books are stored.

Amazing. Truly. And one of the highlights of an all-around stellar conference.

Speaking of signings...I've got two this weekend. If you're in the area, stop in:

Saturday, 10/24 from 2-4 Borders Express, Midway Mall, Elyria, Ohio
Sunday, 10/25 starting at 2 Barnes & Noble, Chagrin Road, Woodmere, Ohio

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Contest Winners

This is going to be a very short post today!! Good stuff...bad stuff this week. Bad stuff...I've been laid low by dreaded sciatica and spent most of the week in bed! What a pain...literally! Anyway, on the mend, but a little fuzzy do to all the pain killers!

Now the good stuff...the winners of last week's contest: RK Charron and Diane M. both have won copies of Stephen's CROWN OF VENGENCE! Congratulations!! Send me (shirley@shirleydamsgaard.com) your addresses and I'll forward them onto Stephen. And the winners of WITCH WAY TO MURDER are Linda Henderson and Mitz!! Same deal...send me your addresses and I'll get them in the mail to you right away.

And last but not least...drum roll please!! My proposal for the new book was accepted!! All the details aren't worked out yet, but projected publication will be in May of 2011. Yes, it does have paranormal aspects, but it is a departure from Ophelia and Abby. I hope you all will enjoy it!

That's it for now-have a terrific rest of the week, and I promise next week's post will be a little more interesting than this weeks!!!

Best,
Shirley

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If I Had One Wish, I'd Be a Witch

Something Wicked would like to welcome Roxanne Rhoads! She's the author of Eternal Desire.

Liz Beth, a paranormal researcher, is haunted by the seductive vampire, Quillon, who may or may not be real. She arrives in New Orleans the week of Halloween to search for the elusive vampire of her dreams and instead encounters a handsome stranger, Christien, with whom she begins a passionate affair.

Soon she is torn between her dream lover and a flesh and blood man, both of whom are a mystery to her. The closer it gets to Halloween the wilder things become. LizBeth gets closer to the truth about Quillon while Christien has her under his own spell.

Will all be revealed at the Vampyre Ball or will the masks stay in place? In New Orleans at Halloween anything is possible.

Here's Roxanne in her own words:

When I was little I wanted to grow up and be a witch. I was so sure that when I turned thirteen I would come into my powers (I read that in a book) and I was so disappointed when my thirteenth birthday came and went and no powers came my way. I kept hoping that maybe I was just going to be a late bloomer but no such luck.

See I really loved the show Bewitched and the books…I devoured anything and everything that had anything supernatural in it. Even if it just hinted at being supernatural, like the old Gothic romances that would lead you into scary situations that always ended up having a human element. Didn't care, I loved the spooky story.

My own scary ending though, well, to this day I can't really say that I've come into my powers. Now if you ask my husband he'd probably say something totally different. He would comment on my seemingly unnatural scent capabilities or my acute hearing (I chalk that up to supersonic mommy hearing, we have to be able to hear our babies wherever they are, the scent thing maybe I'm part bloodhound). Or he might even mention how I always seem to know things, things I shouldn't know like when he's planning a surprise for me or what gift he's buying. Honestly there's nothing supernatural there either he just really sucks at keeping a secret. LOL.

Even if those are my super powers or my witch capabilities I personally was hoping for something a little flashier. Like being able to twitch my nose and the house is clean or wave my hand and dinner is ready. Now those are powers that would come in handy to a super busy mom of three who also happens to be a writer and would much rather be writing than cooking or cleaning.

Anyway there's that old saying about "those who can't, teach". In my case it's "those who aren't, write about those who are." : So most of my stories are of the supernatural persuasion-ghosts, werewolves, demons, and most of all vampires and…witches.

In my newest release there are no witches though the main character, LizBeth, is a paranormal researcher with a few talents of her own-like the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Her shadowy vampire also has some unique magic up his sleeve.

Eternal Desire is available in ebook format at EternalPress.ca, BarnesandNoble.com and Fictionwise.com and will be available in print at Amazon.com.

Would you like to win a signed print copy of Eternal Desire?

To enter answer this question:
If you could only have one magickal ability what would it be? For instance seeing the future, reading minds, talking to the dead, etc.

Me, I'd like to be able to move things with my mind. It would be so easy to rearrange a room and I wouldn't have to recruit the whole family for all that heavy lifting.
Make sure to leave email contact info. US shipping only please.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Should've Taken that Left Turn...

Hi everyone,

I know I'm sick and twisted, but I really like writing my synopsis. Last night I finished one, and today I get to look over it and try to see the big picture. I've got a feeling this latest story can use a little slimming, so I'm going to have to look at the structure of the book and really focus on how the romantic arc evolves.

Then I really get down to it and plan the chapter by chapter outline.

Have I mentioned I'm a plotter.

I like maps too. I like to know where I am and where I'm going. Otherwise, even though I've got a pretty good sense of direction, I get lost.

It's awesome to have a navigation system in the car, but sometimes I really miss breaking out the old maps. I used to sit in the passenger seat with the Rand McNally Road Atlas and just stare at it for miles, looking for funny names of little towns, trying to remember state mottos and capitols.

Quick, what's the capitol of South Carolina?

Columbia if you're interested.

Navigation systems don't have the same scope as an old fashioned map. The navigation system with always get me where I'm going, but sometimes it isn't as much fun. Maybe that's why I write out my big detailed plotting sessions for my books in old beat up notebooks.

Sometimes there's nothing like taking a step back.

Jess

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Books 'n Boos!

What could be more perfect for an author who writes books set in cemeteries than to sign books in a cemetery?

I had the chance–and a perfect book signing–at Monroe Street Cemetery in Cleveland this past Sunday thanks to the Monroe Street Cemetery Foundation, a dedicated group of volunteers who work to keep the 13-acre cemetery clean and in good repair. These people are amazing! Each year, they host a "Meet the Neighbors" day and this year, the theme was Crime & Punishment.

They welcomed 200 or so of the curious and guided them around the cemetery, with costumed re-enactors telling tales of days gone by. It was a blast, especially since Monroe Street is the scene of "Dead Man Talking," my newest book.
This week, I've already been in Indianapolis at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Conference, but I’m back and today (Saturday) I'll be at Parmatown Mall (Parma, Ohio) for Ohio Paranormal Writers day. Should be fun, and guests include Mary Ann Winkowski, the woman on whom the Ghost Whisperer TV series is based. I’ll be there from 12-4, so come on over, keep me company and pick up a copy of "Dead Man Talking."

It was mighty cold at Monroe Street Cemetery, but that didn't put a damper on a great event!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What a Deal!!!

Have I got some deals for you!! First of all, for all you collectors out there, I'm posting an announcement that I received from one of our guest bloggers, author Stephen Zimmer. It is as follows:

Seventh Star Press proudly announces the release of CROWN OF VENGEANCE, the first book in the new epic fantasy series FIRES IN EDEN, by author Stephen Zimmer (THE EXODUS GATE).


To commemorate the forthcoming release, publisher Seventh Star Press is offering pre-order packages for CROWN OF VENGEANCE, including a very special, limited edition hardcover version that is strictly limited to 100 copies.

To ensure full authenticity, the limited edition hardcover will be hand-numbered and signed by Stephen Zimmer, and also signed by editor Amanda DeBord and illustrator/cover artist Matt Perry. It will include an extra illustration, and designation plate as a limited edition within the book.

Both the limited edition hardcover and first edition trade paperback pre-orders come with a special package of collectibles, including a numbered set of art cards, a collectible set of 12 bookmarks, and a full color poster of the cover art.

Information on the pre-ordering options can be found at the new site for the FIRES IN EDEN series, located at www.firesineden.com

For information on the publisher visit www.seventhstarpress.com, and for the author visit www.stephenzimmer.com

Below is one of the numbered art cards included in the set. And btw, guys, we've got the scoop on this image. For the next ten days, it's only going to be posted on selected sites...Something Wicked is one of them!


Now to whet your interest, here's the synopsis:

On a night that begins no different from any other, strange mists engulf Janus Roland, Erika Laesig, Mershad Shahab, and several others going about their lives in a quiet midwestern town. When the mist dissipates, they all find themselves looking up into the bright skies of a new, incredible world.

Without explanation of why it has happened, or any notion of where they are, they embark upon a grand adventure within the fantastical world of Ave. Some find themselves in the lands of the Saxan Kingdom, while others have emerged within the lands of the Onan, one of the tribes in the Five Realms confederation.

Storms of war loom over both Saxany and the Five Realms, as invasion forces mass under the inspiration of The Unifier, a mysterious, captivating figure whose influence has swept across the surface of Ave ever since His rise to power in the Gallean duchy of Avanor. It is a war that will be fought in the skies, upon the seas, on land, and even in places non-physical in nature.

A majestic, epic fantasy that begins many adventures and journeys across a diverse and enthralling world, filled with races and creatures both familiar and new, CROWN OF VENGEANCE lights the flame of the FIRES IN EDEN series, bringing to life a bold, far-ranging, and grand new venture within the realms of fantasy literature.

Sounds good, doesn't it?? Want a free copy??? Stephen is graciously offering two!! Post a comment today and your name will be entered in the drawing. Then on November 1st a signed CROWN OF VENGEANCE from Stephen will be winging its way to two lucky winners!!

Okay, that's deal #1!! Here's deal #2...over at The Book Resort on Blogspot.com, Diane is hosting an Ophelia and Abby Week as part of her "Countdown to Halloween" starting Sunday, October 18th thru Saturday, October 24th. Stop by, check out the fun interview I did with Diane, and enter to win a signed copy of WITCH WAY TO MURDER! But that's not all folks!! Not only will all posters today be entered in Stephen's giveaway, but I'll also give away two signed copies of WITCH WAY TO MURDER to celebrate Ophelia and Abby having their own week. (In case you already have a copy, don't let that stop you from entering...WITCH WAY TO MURDER would be a perfect Halloween gift! 9))

That's it for this week!! Have a good one and I'll post the four lucky winners' names next week!!!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pinkie bites it (and a winner)

Before my woes, a winner:

ZenMom


Email me to collect your winnings. You can click on my profile here to find my email.

Anyway, moving on, I've had this Ibook for about four years now. I bought it used on Mercado Libre. It's been repaired three times already. The last time, I swore I'd never replace her. But she's been dying slowly for a while now. There comes a point in every old computer's life when you just can't keep them going anymore. I've been paranoid about working on her; I'm afraid she'll fail unexpectedly, so I email my work to myself at night. At this point, I think even I am forced to admit it's time for me to buy a new Mac. No, it won't be Pinkie, but it'll be new and shiny. I think I can surrender the superstition that it was Pinkie's magic that let me write my books. Surely a new Mac will do the job just as well?

I already know which one I want: the white Macbook. But here's my problem. If I buy it here, it will have a Spanish keyboard. That slows my typing way down and I can never remember how to make the @ sign. You have to hit three different keys at once.

Which means I need to buy my new Mac in the States. But I don't have any trips planned until April. Clearly, I can't go that long without a usable laptop. I do have a netbook but it's too small for heavy workload. It's best for travel and checking emails. Making a special trip to the States to buy my Mac now will add the cost of the trip to the price tag. I'm not sure I'm down with that.

We do have a Best Buy here now, though. Do you think they could special order me one with a US keyboard layout? It seems like maybe they could. That'd be best, if so. I don't really want to pay for a trip just to get a new laptop.

Anyway, that's what's on my mind right now. I also turned in Shady Lady this week, did copyedits for Hell Fire & I saw a sneak peek at my cover art for the UK version of Blue Diablo, very dark and sexy.

What's going on with you guys?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?

First off, I'd like to give a big shout out to all of our Star Wars commenters from last week. Thanks to you, I watched the original movie twice when I should have been proof reading the final version of A Tale of Two Demon Slayers. But hey, sometimes, you have to stop and take time out for a galaxy far, far away.

And I even found a fun quiz (you all know my weakness for those). Test Your Star Wars IQ. I scored 12 out of 15. Does that mean I get to watch the movie again?

I also have to share with you a link that KarynB sent on How To Speak Wookie. Just in case, er, you ever want to do that.

We also have a winner of the Casey Daniels book giveaway and that is Scott Romanski. Email me at angie @ angiefox.com and we'll get that out to you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Waiting Game


Hi everyone,

Casey mentioned yesterday how long it takes from the moment you turn a book in, to the time it actually is published.

I'm in the middle of waiting too, as illustrated by my pets, Jake (top), Maggie (middle), and Suki (bottom).

I'm waiting for my revision letter for my second book, Beyond the Shadows which should be out this May. I'm getting a little nervous. I had so much fun writing this book, that I'm waiting for the other shoe to fall. Until I hear back from my editor, I've got this endless stream of "What if she doesn't like it? What if I have to change it?" running through my head.

I'm usually pretty good about changing things with my writing. I don't get too attached, and if someone has a valid point about something it's pretty easy for me to see the other side of things. But this book has me a little scared because I feel like I like it too much, and changing anything is going to hurt.

I'm sure I'll feel differently once I actually read through it again, and the book itself isn't matching up with the vision of it in my mind. Then I'm sure my big red pen will fly all over that thing until it does match my vision. And that's really the point of all this. As of yet, I don't think I've edited something and liked the end result less than the original. I don't think I could stop messing with it until I liked it more.

So I guess I'll wait and see what the vision letter has to say, whenever it comes.

In the mean time, I'll take a hint from my pets. While waiting, I could...

Stare at the squirrels out the back slider window all day.
Set up an ambush and spring it on an unsuspecting family member.
Sit on the stairs and feel lofty.
Cuddle with my favorite stuffed animal.
Rip apart my favorite stuffed animal.
Steal small shiny things and hide them.
Sing, all night long. (Thanks for that one, Maggie)
Or curl up in bed with someone warm and snuggly.

That sounds like a good idea to me.

Jess

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Publishing a book is a funny thing. I think I’ve got that part down pat now that my 45th book, "Dead Man Talking" is officially out (thanks for the give-away, Angie!) and in bookstores everywhere.


But here’s the thing. I wrote "Dead Man Talking" a while ago. So long ago, in fact, that I’m having trouble thinking when it might have been. Wait! I just remembered. I turned the book in last October 11. Almost one year to the day.


And I’ve written two other books since and have started a couple proposals and the outline for Pepper Martin mystery #7.


So you’re going to have to excuse me if you come up to me at one of my upcoming signings, ask a question about "Dead Man Talking," and it takes me a while to answer. Especially with a series, keeping track of who’s doing what, when and in which book gets a little hard.


Speaking of signings, I’ve got two of them coming up this weekend.


Today (Saturday) at 2, I’ll be at Joseph Beth Books in Lyndhurst, Ohio, one of a group of paranormal, sci fi and mystery authors.


And on Sunday, October 11, I’ll be taking part in the Meet the Neighbors event at Cleveland’s Monroe Street Cemetery at 2 in the afternoon. Monroe Street is the scene of Pepper’s newest adventure, and I’ll be there to show folks around and (of course), sign books. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Monroe Street Cemetery, and since it’s a fundraiser, there is a charge. Call 216-961-0563 for ticket information. This year’s theme is Crime and Punishment, and costumed re-enactors will be talking not only about the people buried at Monroe Street, but the crimes that put them in the ground.


Of you're in the Cleveland area, stop by!


Friday, October 9, 2009

The eReaders are coming...

So, word is out that very soon Barnes and Noble will have their own eBook Reader available for purchase. No news that I've heard as to price but there are plenty of rumors of various cool things it might do (although none of them include finishing WRITING my current WIP, so for now I'm holding back my unbridled enthusiasm).

Anyway, this news was of particular interest to me on the heels of Ninc last weekend where there was a LOT of talk about eBooks and what their growth means for authors. Right now, excuse me if I mentioned this already, people tossed out numbers of 1 to 5% of the total book market being E. But with expectations of that going up to 50% in the next five years.

And what does that potential growth depend in large part on?

An affordable eReader.

So, I'm curious. How cheap would be cheap enough to send you off to buy your own reader? And if price isn't your major holdup, what is?

For me actually it's the whole format thing. I don't want to buy a reader to find out six months later my books are obsolete or don't work on some new reader I want. I also don't like the no forward thing. I share books with my mom a lot. If I bought ebooks in any volume I would want to be able to continue to do this without feeling like a book pirate. Oh, and then there is the price of ebooks. I can't get over feeling an ebook should cost less than a normal book. And if I add that all together--possibility of books becoming obsolete, not being able to share them and them costing the same as a print book--I just can't see why I would want to buy a reader just yet.

How about you?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Addictions

I'll be the first to admit I have a somewhat (?) obsessive personality. All my life, I seemed to have followed the old adages "in for a penny, in for a pound" and "rather be hanged for a deer as a hare." As a result, I should've seen the writing on the wall when my dear son-in-law invited me to play Mafia Wars!!! (I believe I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago??? I said the last thing I needed was a reason to diddle around???)

Well, I've gone beyond diddling! I'm like those little old ladies at the casinos...the ones playing the slot machines. "Stick in the gold card, pull the handle; stick in the gold card, pull the handle!" But with me, it's "pick the job (or the fight), click the mouse!" Over and over again until I run out of energy points!!! And each time I wait with baited breath to see either my experience points roll up, or if I've won the fight. As a result, I have over $150m in my Mafia bank (if that were only true in real life! 9) ); I've won 1,482 fights...lost 436; iced 199 mobsters; and survived, oh, about 12 minutes on the hitlist. (Other players tend to get ticked when you take all their money and they get revenge by putting a bounty on you!!)

The question is "why am I doing this?" I guess because it's mindless entertainment. I don't have to think about anything while I'm playing...I don't have to ponder about the next book contract, stew about what's up with the day job. All I have to do is just click that little mouse! Plus it is somewhat of a challenge to see how far you can go without either getting killed (figuratively) or running out of points, and I've always been one to take on a challenge.

However, I have heard rumors that my family is planning a "Mafia Wars" intervention!

So I guess I'd better cool it!!! Or at least try a little restraint!! Instead of "in for a penny, in for a pound," maybe I should follow "all things in moderation!" 8) How about you?? Anyone else have a little obsession that they'd like to share??? 9)

That's it for this week-I've got to pop back on Mafia Wars and see if I've been killed yet this morning!!! Take care and have a great rest of the week!!!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Go, Doubleblind!


So last week, the third Jax book came out. I'm happy to report Doubleblind is #4 on the Bookscan SF mass market list, #21 in SFF at BN and #33 on BGI. Woohoo!

To celebrate, I thought I'd give away a copy. Mind you, this is book three, so if you win this book. you probably need to read books one and two first. And that's it. If you want a copy of Doubleblind, comment on this post about why you should win this. You can make it a sob story, a reward for an achievement, anything you want. You can also lie outrageously, as long as it's entertaining. Make us cry, make us laugh, but be warned: if you bore us, you will not win. And go!

(Winner will be posted next week.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wild Times, Wookies and a Casey Daniels Book Giveaway!

The great thing about writers conferences is you never know who you're going to meet. This past weekend, I met a wookie. Or at least the man behind the wookie. Peter Mayhew was the guest of honor at Archon in St. Louis. He played Chewbacca in the original Star Wars movies.

Star Wars was the first movie I ever saw in the theatre. My dad took my brother and I. Mike was 7 and I was 5 - the age when you're more excited about the popcorn and soda than the actual film. Well, until it started. We were glued as soon as the big battle ships flew across the screen.

Then came the sequels, and the action figures - the old ones - before Leah had sexy curves and Luke somehow sprouted muscles (but that's an entirely different blog).

Star Wars colored our childhoods. And Mayhew's life too. He said the Chewbacca character started as a "two week" part, meaning if it hadn't worked immediately, they would have found a new sidekick for Han Solo.

He also said that when he first visited George Lucas's office, the drawings of Chewbacca showed a humanid-type character with bermuda shorts and a vest. Can you imagine? I'm sure glad Chewbacca grew more fur.

And just when I though the weekend couldn't get better, I walked into the bookseller's room and found Casey Daniels' latest release, Dead Man Talking. It looked so good that I bought two. One for me and one for a lucky winner. Tell us about your favorite Star Wars character, memory, action figure and, well, really - anything Star Wars - and you're entered to win. May the force be with you!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A new definition of busy

I wrote out a list of everything I have to do.

I included the day to day things I have to do, like changing diapers and feeding the dog, then moved on to the list of things I need to do to finish settling into the house. I kept that list at a minimum, just the things that really need to be done done asap. I listed the phone calls I need to make, and the writing tasks I have yet to do.

I have over 115 things on my list.

Over one hundred.

I'm afraid I'm going to break at this pace. I can't stop. I can't rest. I didn't put this blog post on my list yesterday, and guess what? I forgot to put it up until today. (Sorry guys!)

You know what kills me? Very little on that list has anything to do with me.

Only one thing really is for me, and that's getting my hair cut.

Actually, that is also for others seeing as how my hair is getting a little scary. If my split ends count as forked tongues, I'm pretty sure I've got Medusa beat in the hairdo department.

So here are the things I wish were on my list.

Get a full body massage.
Have someone feed me breakfast in bed.
Hire a chauffeur and a maid
And a nanny
And a cook
And a gardener
And a handyman
And a butler
And a really cute pool boy. (Oh, wait, I don't have a pool. Ooops.)
Eat cheesecake, preferably frozen and dipped in chocolate
Watch my favorite shows
Read a book
Take a bubble bath
Get a full night's sleep

Ah, that would be nice.

Why can't that be my list? What's on yours?

Jess

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One of These Things (Is Not Like the Others)

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

A Sesame Street classic
Word and music by Joe Raposo and Jon Stone

Remember a couple months ago when I proudly posted the cover for "Dead Man Talking," the book that will be on the shelves next Tuesday? Well, here it is . . .





And here’s the cover that will really be on the book when you see it (and hopefully, buy it!) at your local bookstore next week.




What’s the difference? Well, take a close look and you’ll see. The cemetery stone arch is gone from the "new and improved" version. So are the gates. There are plenty more gravestones. And those spooky, ghostly swirls have been added.

So what’s it all about? It’s a long story, and I’ll leave it to your imaginations to fill in the blanks. Let’s just say that there I was earlier this summer, tooling around the Internet, looking for what, I don’t remember. And I found it...a book coming out in June of this year from an author I didn’t know and a publishing house different from mine–with a cover that was very, very similar!

Yikes!

I contacted my editor. My editor contacted the art department. And did I expect results? Well, in the best of all possible worlds, of course I did. But here’s the thing: authors have always been told two things:

#1 Once the artwork on a cover is done, it’s set in stone
#2 Covers are printed six months ahead of time so after that time, it’s impossible for anything to change

But three cheers for the folks at Berkley Prime Crime! They stepped up to the plate, and the next thing I knew, I had that cover you’ll see on "Dead Man Talking" next week. And you know what? I actually like it better than the first version. It’s not as claustrophobic and I love those spooky swirls!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Conferencing...

Hi, all! I'm checking in from the Novelist Inc. conference in St. Louis. The actual conference starts today, but yesterday was dedicated to Forensics. It was chock full of some great information. I think my favorite was listening to the FBI agent and Franklin County Sheriff's major who were involved in solving the Shawn Hornbeck case.

Last night I went to what they call a Night Owl session--more casual chatty type sessions after 8 at night. I chose Grumpy Old Writers. Lots of talk of how to refill the well when you have written more books in the same sub-genre than you can count, how to survive years with no new book contract, what to do when your editor doesn't return your calls. You know cheery stuff! ;-) There were no big solutions given, but it was interesting to listen to people talk who have been doing this a lot longer than me.

Oh, and OF COURSE there has been food! Kathy Steffen, Ann Christopher and I checked out Gian Tony's on The Hill in St. Louis Wednesday night. It was fab. I love The Hill, but my favorite restaurant there (Zia's) burned down. So, we tried something new. The food was great and our waiter was adorable. You really can't beat a place with an adorable waiter, now can you?

Today there are many great sessions, but Ann Christopher and I are skipping out early to go up in the Arch. I am a native Missourian and lived in St. Louis for many years, but I have never been up inside the Arch. I'm looking forward to it. Then we are off for a brewery tour at Anheuser Busch and later dinner in Soulard. (another of the many interesting neighborhoods in St. Louis.)

So, that's it for me. If anyone wants more updates, check by my personal blog. I'll try and post pictures and more info on what is happening here in St. Louis!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A good time was had by all!!!

Sorry I didn't post last week...my flight for West Virginia left way early in the morning and, of course, I ran out of time!! I had a great time at author Lora Leigh's RAW!! It was wonderful seeing old friends (had a great time hanging out with Angie...she's just as much fun in person as she is on our blog!!) and making new friends! Every time I go to one of these events, I feel so lucky to be an author and have the opportunity to meet people I never would have otherwise!! 8)

Anyway, here are some pictures of the event!!



(My girls...Trista, Lydia, and Sharon.)



(With Sara)



(hat is courtesy of Sharon, Trista, and Lydia!! They thought I needed a little something extra!! 8) )




Got to fly for now...everyone have a great rest of the week!!

Best,
Shirley