Thursday, April 29, 2010

Off to Oakmont

Gee, it's Thursday! And to be honest, there's so much going on that I almost forgot to post!!!

So what's going on? Well, we talked about conferences last week and I think everyone's pretty well tied up with those-I know I am!! Along with Casey, I'm headed to The Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, PA this weekend. (See the complete list of authors attending below. Casey will be there as her alter ego, Miranda Bliss, which means we won't be sitting next to each other! Dang! Btw--signed copies from these authors are available on Mystery Lovers Bookshop's website.)

You'd think all I have to do is pack and get on the plane, wouldn't you? Nope-in addition to working at my "day" job and writing, I've got to make bookmarks!! About 100 of them. I print out four to a page, laminate them, then cut each one individually. Why? I decided after WITCH WAY came out that I didn't want a generic bookmark-I wanted something different. As a result, every year, I've designed a new one. Was it the smartest decision I ever made? Probably not-it's a bit of a pain to cut them all. Some always wind up being a little less than straight, but I figure something handmade isn't supposed to be perfect, right? *g* And I think I did achieve my goal-they are different! (Plus I think after making what seems to be a gazillion of them, I've earned the right to the title "Queen of the Laminators"!)

So here's a question for all you readers out there-how many of you are bookmark collectors?? Please tell me you are! (I'd hate to think after all the work I put into mine that they wind up in the garbage!!) And what's the most unique bookmark in your collection?

That's it for this week-got to fly. Got all those bookmarks to cut!

Best,
Shirley



Donna Andrews
Irene Fleming
Brad Parks

Sarah Atwell
Beth Groundwater
Sandra Parshall

Lorna Barrett
Kathryn Miller Haines
Jason Pinter

Carrie Bebris
R.J. Harlick
Sara Rosett

Cordelia Biddle
Rosemary Harris
Hank Phillippi Ryan

Miranda Bliss
L.C. Hayden
Deborah Sharp

Kate Carlisle
Sue Ann Jaffarian
Joanna Campbell Slan

Elizabeth Lynn Casey
Laurie King
Leann Sweeney

Sheila Connolly
Mary Jane Maffini
Marcia Talley

Ellen Crosby
Nancy Martin
Heather Terrell

Shirley Damsgaard
Judi McCoy
Elaine Viets

Casey Daniels
Beverle Graves Myers
Wendy Lyn Watson

Lila Dare
Kevin O'Brien
Heather Webber

C. William Davis III
Karen E. Olson
Jenny White

Vicki Delany
Diana Orgain
Hannah Dennison
Alan Orloff
Joanne Dobson

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Release Blog Party!


Hi everyone!

I'm just here to announce that I'll be having a week long blog party over on The Butterfly Blog, to celebrate the release of Beyond the Shadows.

There will be lots of fun and giveaways, so stop by and say hello! The party is in full swing all week.

In the mean time, I'm packing for RT! I can't wait. Hope to see you there!

Jess

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Something Wicked welcomes Samantha Gail

Hi all! We have another guest blogger today. Samantha Gail writes fantasy romance and lives in Alaska, which I happen to think is really cool. She's on the Faery Court this year at RT and we're thrilled to have her here, wings and all.
Take it away, Samantha...
Greetings from Alaska!

It’s almost time for the RT Convention and excitement is soaring! Seems like I rarely leave my isolated island home anymore, except for this one big event. The reason is simple enough – RT is too much fun to miss.

This is my second year on the Faery Court and I’ll keep coming back as long as they let me…hint, hint All those gorgeous gowns and gossamer wings? Talk about eye candy! And have you ever seen Gennita Low dance? That girl has some serious moves.

The Faery Court Ball is enormously popular with the crowds and takes a tremendous amount of work to pull off. If you’ve ever attended one, I think you’ll agree it’s worth the effort. A group of extraordinary ladies spend the entire year planning this magical night and the results are out of this world.

As conventions go, it is RT’s casual atmosphere that has always been a huge pull for me. People are there to have a great time, learn, network and socialize with one another. Functions begin around 0800 and wrap up well beyond 0-dark-30. I ramp up my immune system with vitamins and herbs a few weeks prior, because I know that sleep won’t be much more than a series of catnaps. Regardless, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else that week. I love the many opportunities to meet with fellow authors, readers and publishing industry folks, as well as pamper fans with enough books and goodies that they need to bring a spare suitcase just to get the stuff back home.

Oh, and did I mention the plethora of workshops? Interactive. Loaded with relevant advice. Rejuvenating. The perfect fix for writer’s block or that complicated scene I can’t quite “get right”. Some of the most difficult decisions I’ve encountered at RT involve choosing a workshop to attend, especially when there are several in the same time slot. A coin toss is often the only viable option.

There are two separate book fairs at RT – one for e-books and another for print. A wonderful concept! However, the sheer volume of authors at these fairs is daunting. Row after row of tables fill the grand ballroom in an alphabetical smorgasbord that equates with very special, personal attention if you’re willing to strike up conversation. Please do! Trust me, the authors are dying to speak with you. BTW, since authors are also readers and fans, if you don’t see me at my designated seat, you’ll know I slipped away to grab a quick visit with one of my favorite writers.

Gotta go…I have a float plane to catch. See you soon!

Samantha

Friday, April 23, 2010

Something Wicked welcomes C.T. Adams

Today, Something Wicked welcomes C.T. Adams, USA Today bestselling author of paranormal and historical books. She's half of the writing team of C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp and she's also going to be on the Faery Court with me at RT. Yes, it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

Take it away, C.T. ...

I LOVE RT! I love it: I love seeing other authors; meeting booksellers, agents and other professionals; and most of all I love seeing the fans and hearing what they like, and don't.

This year I am particularly excited because I'm on the faery court. WHOOO HOO!! They actually gave a middle-aged woman the excuse to dress up like Cinderella with a cloak, a tiara and everything! Seriously, HOW cool is THAT?

Of course the trick is getting there.

Pre-con packing is always tricky. What do you take? Not take? How do you fit a full-fledged ball-gown into your luggage and have room for ANYTHING else? Wings? (Never mind, I just won't do wings. The Sidhe don't have wings and they're fae. Besides, wings make sitting in the chair awkward.)

And then there's real life. Things like --

Food poisoning the week before;
The plumbing going out at the house (just peachy what with the food poisoning);
Work crises when the boss at the day job remembers that two of his three staffers are both going to be gone for the better part of a week;
Deadlines;
Edits.
You know . . . LIFE.

Every year when the going gets tough, I wonder if I will actually make it. Will there be that one last thing that makes it impossible to go?

But somehow, every year, I make it. With a sigh of relief I climb on the plane. And when I get to the venue, and walk through those doors (and see those cover models ;) ) It's worth it. It is SOOOOOOOO worth it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

'Tis the Season!

Everyone's been giving really good advice this week on how to get the most out of attending conferences!! I especially loved Jess's post. (Really??? Twisting balloons? I had no idea! You are definitely a woman of many talents!! *g*) So what's my advice? Hmm-first let me tell you a little story.

One of the first conferences I ever attended was The Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave in Manhattan Kansas. WITCH WAY TO MURDER had just come out and at that point, I had ONE conference and ONE panel under my belt. Talk about green...grass couldn't be any greener than I was at that point. I didn't know anyone, didn't have a clue what I was doing, and was so outside of my comfort zone it wasn't even funny.

See here's the deal, underneath all the bravado, I'm basically a shy person. Okay, Casey and Angie...I hear you laughing in disbelief, but it's true! When I was a kid and my mom would take me into a room full of strangers, I'd grab her leg and not let go. She would literally have to peel me off! I'm better about it now-don't cling to people's legs anymore-but I still get nervous.

So here I am at this conference, alone and unsure of myself, and there's Carolyn Hart, one of the top mystery authors in this country, one of the founders of Sisters in Crime, someone who's won more awards than I can list, and, well, you get the idea. And though we'd never met, Carolyn had been kind enough to blurb WITCH WAY. I thought it only polite to go up to her, introduce myself, and thank her for her kindness. I screwed up my courage and did exactly that. I also told her how much I admired her work. Guess what her reaction was to the compliment??

She blushed! After everything she's done during her stellar career, a sincere compliment from a little, newbie like me still made her blush. Her reaction couldn't have been less blasé.

What did I learn from this experience? No matter how much you've accomplished, it's still nice to know that someone appreciates your work. And now, being a little less green, I understand Carolyn's reaction. We want you to like us and when you tell us you do, well, it's just the best.

Now here's my advice-don't ever be shy about approaching your favorite authors. Nine chances out of ten, deep down inside, we're probably just as nervous as you are, but it's your kind words that help us allay ours!

To everyone attending conferences this season-have fun! And, again, DON'T be shy!!!

That's it for this week-catch you next!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring, and the Conferences are in Bloom!

I’m heading to the Malice Domestic mystery conference in Arlington, VA next week. For me, at least, Malice means the official start of the conference season. Others will be heading off at the same time to RT and I’ve recently heard a lot of people talking about going to this year’s RWA convention in Nashville.

Are you heading to a conference?

If so, here’s my two cents of advice, it’s short and sweet and goes something like this:

Make a plan.

OK, that sounds simple, right? But think about it. A conference, any conference, can be overwhelming, not just for first-timers, but even for convention veterans. There are so many workshops (and they all sound good, don’t they?). There is a hospitality room where you can relax and shmooze and connect with friends. And then there are those friends. And they want to meet for lunch. And coffee. And drinks.

If you don’t have a plan, there’s a good chance you’re going to try to do it all, and you know what’s going to happen then. You’ll miss lots of good stuff, not get accomplished nearly what you want to, and go home kicking yourself.

So start with one question: what do you want to accomplish at the conference?

If you’re a writer, that might be pitching to an editor you’ve always wanted to meet, or an agent whose attention you’ve been trying to get. It might mean being on a panel, or doing a signing. Your prep work is going to have to start long before the conference. If you’re looking for an agent, contact the ones who are going to be there to see if they’ll give you a few minutes. If you’re currently working with an editor/agent, you’ll need to get in touch plenty early to get slated into their schedules. Panels and signings, too, are always set up well ahead of time. Get in touch with the conference planner to make sure you’re included.

Then, of course, there’s publicity to consider. Will you bring bookmarks or other hand outs? You’ll need to have them designed and printed. How about wearing something like a pin made from your book cover, something that will let readers know right away who you are? Each time I have a new Pepper Martin book published, I get a bookcover pin made. Great publicity, and I can’t tell you how many readers have found me in a crowd because of my pins.

Want to connect with friends? There’s time for that, too, but don’t trust to chance. Get in touch now, and set a drink/lunch/dinner date. Conferences like RWA are huge and you can’t depend on just bumping into someone.

If you’re a reader, your focus is going to be different. Maybe you’ve always wanted to hear a certain author speak, or meet your favorites. Check the conference schedule, it’s probably on line, and decide which workshops and presentations look best. Wish you could do it all? Most conferences make CDs of presentations available.

All that being said, don’t over-schedule and leave yourself no time for a little R&R as well as a chance to just go with the flow and see where the conference vibe might take you. Chance encounters at conferences often lead to new friendships and business partnerships. I once had an editor sashay by me in a hotel lobby, turn, point to me and say, "I want to work with you." I went on to sell her a number of books.

Since I’ll be gone next week, I probably won’t be checking in here. I hope to see you at Malice or at the Oakmont Festival of Mystery on Monday, May 3.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Conference fever

We're talking conferences this week and I have to tell you they are a lot of fun. Like next week, Jess and I will be heading to the RT Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

It's a huge reader/bookseller/writer con where there are tables full of free books and your favorite authors are all around. I had a Dakota Cassidy sighting there last year and about fell over. I've always loved her books and it was so neat to meet her in person. This year, I'll be stalking MaryJanice Davidson. Oh and signing my own books.

It was at a conference (RWA in Dallas) where I met my editor for the first time. I was an unpublished writer, stuck on chapter 16 of The Accidental Demon Slayer when I ran into Leah Hultenschmidt from Dorchester. She'd seen the first 20 pages in a contest. Leah told me how much she liked what she'd seen so far (I clearly remember her mentioning the dog) and she wanted to read the rest when I finished. A month later, I sent her a completed manuscript. She read it over the weekend and bought it. I think seeing her at that conference helped. I could put a personality and a face with the name and I was even more excited at the prospect of working with her. And my first impression was dead on - Leah is a dream to work with.

A year later, I met my agent for the first time (in person) at RWA in San Francisco. We'd been working together for almost a year, but you just can't beat that relaxed hang out time. It makes a huge difference the next time you're at home, ready to pick up the phone and call someone.

Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to hitting the road next week. RT is one of my favorites. There are workshops all day and theme parties at night. On Thursday, I'm going to be on the Court at the Fairy Ball. That means wearing a fancy ballgown with wings. In fact, I bought the wrong color wings, so I'm going to be in the side yard this weekend, spray painting them with gold glitter. That's when it gets hard to convince the husband that this is work. No really, honey! Fairy wings tie into books because...er...look at all this glitter! It's so sparkly!

And I'm going to be bringing the celebration back here. No, I won't spray you with glitter. But I will be giving away a lot of the books I get at RT. So stay tuned. I promise to bring back lots of goodies.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Grab your Gumption and Go!

Hi everyone,

For the next couple of weeks, we're discussing writing conferences here at Something Wicked. I'm extra excited to go to the RT Booklover's convention in a couple of weeks. I fully plan on making a spectacle of myself by dressing up, having fun, twisting little balloon aliens for Linnea Sinclair's Intergalactic Bar and Grille party, talking to people, dancing, and having even more fun.

But I know there are people out there about to attend some of these conferences who are deep-in-their gut nervous about the whole thing. I see them at conferences, eyes down, shoulder's hunched, arms closed. They sit in the back, in the corner, in the shadows and they watch with a mix of terror and longing.

Well, here's a confession. I used to be terrified of social situations too. I remember in my younger days, going into a social situation and the thoughts running through my head were an endless litany of "What?" What are they thinking about me? What if they don't like me? What if everyone here thinks I'm stupid, ugly, annoying, talentless ... the list goes on and on.

Well no wonder I wanted to hide! I didn't break the cycle of those thoughts until I spent a couple of years earning money by twisting balloon animals in restaurants. I didn't have the luxury of thinking negatively. If I didn't actively approach people and engage them, I wouldn't make any money, period.

Twisting balloons taught me a couple of things. I'm going to share them with you. Use them well.

#1 Most people want to be engaged in a conversation, and the ones who don't will let you know.

Most people out at a conference are there to meet people, have lively conversations about writing, and make new friends. Get the negative junk out of your head. Believe it or not, people really want to talk with you. So take a deep breath, look for people laughing and smiling with their body language open, plaster a genuine smile on your face, and say, hi!

#2 If you want to be interesting, be interested.

I constantly have to watch myself because I will talk your ear off if you let me. Before each conversation, I look at a person and decide to come away from the conversation with three new things I have learned about them, and I do my best to commit those things to memory. That way if I meet that person again, we have something to continue talking about. Listen, smile, listen some more, and then be kind and supportive. Who doesn't love that?

#3 It takes guts to start talking, so have a plan and practice.

My first few months twisting balloons, I had a specific little spiel memorized, and I'd literally bounce up to a table to hide my nervous twitching, then launch right into it. I needed the crutch of something familiar to make the leap. So before conferences, role play, or just act crazy around the house and talk to thin air. Practice a "Is this seat taken?" speech. A "Wow, my shoes are killing me!" speech, a "I just got out of the coolest workshop," speech, a "So, what are you writing?" speech, and a "Hi, where are you from/how was your flight?" speech. You know these things are going to come up, so be prepared. Practice talking to imaginary people. We do it as writers all the time, but the practice really helps the nerves.

#4 If you're nervous, people understand.

I still feel that little thrill of fear, get terrible shaky hands, and the sensation my face is flushing every time I speak up in a group. It's not going to go away, but you don't have to let it stop you. So what if you blush, or look a little abashed? Both tend to be charming. When you accept the feeling, it doesn't ramp up quite as badly, and so long as you smile, it will be okay.

#5 Smile, smile, smile, smile, smile.

Not much more I can say about that. A smile can calm you down, make you more attractive, and smooth the way for those little conversations you practiced.

So there you go! Straighten up and let's all put our best foot forward. It will be fun, and it doesn't have to be agony.

Sorry I can't help with editor/agent appointment nerves. That's a whole 'nuther ball of wax.

Jess

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's Thursday!

Most of the week, I've been over at Bitten by Books, doing an interview and answering questions from the readers. (This is a great site!! Highly recommend everyone checking it out!! I also conducted the same little survey that I did here last week, but more about that in a future post.) I had a great time...I met a lot of new readers and received a lot of insightful questions!

However one reader asked me to comment on a remark that she had read on another blog-really took me by surprise-I'd never heard of this before. As a result I'd thought I'd ask you if you'd ever come across this line of thought. Here's the comment she read on the other blog. It stated that people only enjoy books written by authors within ten years of their own age. (She thought it was kind of out of left field-I agreed. My response was if true, with my age being what it is, most of my readers could use their senior citizen's discount card! *g*)

What do you think? Is there any validity to this statement? Do a lot of people only read books by authors close to their own age?

That's it for this week-everyone have a good one!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You're Very Welcome!

As writers, we spend most of our days locked in our own little worlds–plots, characters, dialogue that swirls around inside our heads even though nobody but the people in our imaginations are talking! As I’ve said a thousand times, it beats having a real job (especially one at which I might have to wear pantyhose!), but it does lack that element of human contact that most other people get when they work.

Sure, we get feedback when a book is published. And yes, it’s sometimes so good, it makes us feel like we’re flying. But most of the time, being a writer is a pretty lonely business.
That’s why I was so jazzed when last Saturday, I got not just one, but three lovely writing compliments.

The first two came at a meeting of the Northeast Ohio Romance Writers of America. I was invited to speak about the mystery market and it was something of a homecoming for me. I started my career writing romance, and I was once president of NEORWA. It’s great to see the organization alive and thriving, with many members in attendance. Two of them in particular made my day.

One was a woman who said she’d attended her first RWA meeting nine years ago and that at the time, I sat next to her. "You were so warm and welcoming," she said, "I’ve been coming back ever since."

The second was a woman I met some years ago through a mutual acquaintance. I didn’t know she had joined the organization. In fact, I didn’t even realize she was writing. Her comment? "I wouldn’t have had the courage to do this if it wasn’t for you."

And Saturday night at fundraiser for a bagpiping band, I heard a third wonderful thing. My husband’s cousin had once bought a set of my young adult books when her oldest son was a teen. They’d lost the books in a flood, and I brought her a new set. What she said was so nice; her son (now an adult) told her he never would be the reader he is today if it wasn’t for my books.

How nice to get such wonderful feedback from such nice people. It makes all those quiet hours alone in front of the computer worthwhile!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An inside look at an author on deadline

As you may know if you've tried to email me lately or (worse) if you're waiting for a prize giveaway or T-shirt, I'm running a little behind these days. The next book in the Accidental Demon Slayer series, The Last of the Demon Slayers, is due to my editor on May 1. That means I'm writing like crazy, putting everything together and wondering why I thought May 1 seemed like a good deadline date.

But you know what? It's the same way every book. In fact, I'm looking back on my emails from last deadline (when I was finishing A Tale of Two Demon Slayers) to remind me of that. Last July, I was sending my critique partner Jess almost the exact same chapters at the exact same times and wondering if Pirate was going to behave and if the biker witches wouldn't just blow everything up too early (they've been known to do that) and if this book would come together.

There is a certain amount of unknown that lingers during the writing process, at least for me. I have to be on edge and wondering just what will happen next because I think it translates into the book. It adds that element of excitement that I can't really pinpoint. I just feel it.

But still, I want to deny it. Every book, I think, "maybe the next time it will all come together in a pretty package" and I'll be doing the equivalent of sitting around the living room, like I'm ready for an event an hour early (which I never am).

My books come together like that last big rush before your guests come over where you're wondering where you put the cheese plate, the husband is cleaning the bathrooms and the dog is dashing around the kitchen, looking for anything that drops on the floor. Or maybe that just happens at our house.

So after five books, I'm learning to accept that. Maybe. Now where did I put the cheese plate?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Playing Dress Up

Hi everyone,

RT is right around the corner, and that means I get to go to dress up parties! I'm excited. I'm going to start my fairy costume tonight. I have no idea how it is going to turn out, but I guess we'll see. I feel like there's a lot of prep work that is going to go into this convention.

I'm already helping to host the Intergalactic Bar and Grille party, and I'll be making little balloon aliens as decorations for all the tables. They should be really cute, but Saturday night I was up drawing out designs on baggies and organizing my balloons so I don't have to spend all of Wednesday in my hotel room blowing up balloons.

Hopefully plans for the fairy costume will go smoothly. It's a bit of an ambitious project. I also have to fix my fangs for the paranormal ball, and decide if I really want to pull out any old dresses and go to the "prom."

I've got lunches and dinners already planned with new writer's friends, and I know it is only the beginning. We'll be blogging about all the RT craziness coming up, (I promise pictures) but I just can't wait.

I love a good costume party, and this should be a good one. Who is coming to the convention? Do you have any plans for costumes? What are you most looking forward to?

BTW: I'll be at Club RT at 10:00 AM Thursday and Friday. Please stop by and say hello!

Hope to see you there!

Jess

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Little Survey

This is going to be a short post today and is basically my own little survey. It's about e-books. With I-Pad coming out, there's been a lot of chatter on the Net about this subject and I'm really on the fence about them. I don't have an e-reader myself-personally, I like "real" books. I like the way they smell, the feel of the paper, just the whole experience of holding a book in my hand. BUT the convenience of an e-reader is certainly appealing and from an ecological standpoint, they definitely save resources, so I am thinking about purchasing one.

So here's my questions-first, what do you think of e-books? Are they, someday, going to replace print books? Do you have an e-reader and if so, what kind? (this last question is of particular interest to me, just in case I do decide to get one...there are so many on the market right now, I really don't know which one to choose!)

That's it for now-have a good one and I'll be looking forward to reading everyone's comments!!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Don't Look Now...There's a Deadline Right Behind You!

I’ve got a deadline breathing down my neck.

Louder. More insistent. Its hot, wet breaths send a thread of panic through me, clutching at my stomach, eating away at what little patience I have left.

Its footsteps get closer.

And closer.

And . . .



I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find more and more often these days, when deadline day approaches, I pretty much lose it. You’d think after 45 books, it wouldn’t phase me anymore. But it does. Oh my, it does!

I’m snappy and shrewish. So unlike me!

I’m eager to get things done and out of the way and off my plate. Even things I usually enjoy.

I want this book done NOW. But I want to take my time, too, and savor my clever ending, and not be too anxious to say goodbye to characters and a plot that I worked hard to hammer out.

This is Pepper Martin mystery #7, and I know there will be at least two more in the series, so at least I don’t have to say goodbye to a cast of recurring characters I know and love. That is some consolation.

So is the other biggie, of course. Even a hot-breathed, pushy deadline is better than no deadline at all!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The things you learn

One of the fun things about having a blog is seeing some of the odd search engine entries that have led folks here. Like the "Angie Fox naked" that pops up every once in awhile. I'm assuming they're searching for the actress, Angie Fox because as far as I know, the only naked pictures of me are from the bathtub at around age three and those are safely buried in my mom's photo albums. I probably couldn't find them if I tried. Kind of like the final scene of the first Indiana Jones movie where they hide the ark of the covenant in that endless warehouse. But I digress.
The most disturbing, yet oddly fascinating search thread appeared in my box the other day: "groundhogs eat my marijuana."
Which led them to me.
Google must have somehow connected my innocent post about gardening - with groundhogs and weed. Now I thought the squirrels in my tomatoes were having a field day. That's nothing compared to those sneaky groundhogs. No wonder I haven't seen any of them in my garden yet. They're too high to make it over the gray stone wall.

And how big of a problem is this? Evidently, there's someone concerned enough to google it. And what exactly happens to a groundhog that treats himself to a pot brownie, minus the brownie? I could do an internet search, but to tell you the truth, I'm afraid it would just lead me back here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Promo Madness

I'm gearing up for doing all the promo for Beyond the Shadows. It's a lot of work.

I've got a newsletter to finish, blog posts to write, guest interviews to write, guest blog posts to write, contests to run and manage, mailings to do, print promo to pick up, an update for my website to do, and then book signings and stock signings to manage.

That's before I count in all the social networking, facebook, twitter, you name it.

By the nature of promo, it all seems to come down to the wire around the book release. So add in the time crunch element, and things get even crazier. On top of all of that, I'm going to the RT Booklover's convention just before the release, so I'll be doing a lot of the last minute promo from the road.

I'll be the first to admit, I'm doing my best, but I'm never sure what works. It is the age old question for writers. What really does get our name out there, and what is just spinning our wheels?

There's a lot of pressure, especially on new authors that if you don't promote, promote, promote, you could sink your own career dead in the water. It's a scary thought. But with limited time, and even more limited money, how does a new author get her name out there without going broke, crazy, or both?

So here's my question, what sorts of promotion actually work for you? What ones do you like, and what do you find just annoying?

Thanks,

Jess

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool's Day

I come from a family of jokesters. The Damsgaard side has a long tradition of practical jokes-my father and my uncle in particular. My uncle, now in his eighties, has his own dribble glass, fake puke, and whoopee cushion. And my father, when he was alive, was known for the lengths he would go to in order to fool someone. In honor of April Fools Day, I thought I'd share some of the highlights.

My father, rising earlier than the rest of the family, took it upon himself to catch all of my grandmother's chickens. Once caught, he tucked their heads under their wings thus putting them to sleep. When my grandmother arose, she looked out the window to find the yard littered with the round, white bodies of sleeping chickens. (The story ends at this point, so I don't know what exactly happened to my father. I have heard that my grandmother was not amused!!)

My uncle is the youngest child in a family with five older girls and he delighted in harassing his sisters. Once, as a young boy, he came up with the brilliant idea of squirting some Hershey's chocolate on the sidewalk, making it look like one of the geese had chosen that particular spot to do its business. He then bet my Aunt Dot a quarter that he'd lick it up. She fell for it and he followed through. (I believe her response was something in Danish about what kind of child my uncle was.)

Another "uncle joke". While on a visit to Minnesota, I made the mistake of being photographed holding a full pitcher of Grain Belt Beer. In the picture, it looks like I'm about to down the whole thing. I forgot about the picture until a few months later when my aunt and uncle made a trip to Iowa. My uncle had decorated their car with a blown up picture of me...and the pitcher of beer... taped to the doors. (I looked ready for rehab, btw.) He also had Merle Haggard (not one of my favorite artists) blaring from the radio. The song..."Are the Good Times Really Over." Oh, and did I mention that prior to arriving at my house, he'd driven through town so everyone could see his handiwork???

Concerning the above story-have you ever heard that revenge is best savored cold?? Well, a couple of years later, when Jessie Ventura was Governor and happened to be a politician my uncle couldn't stand, I played my own little trick. I found a picture of Jessie in all his Wrestlemania glory-feather boa, sunglasses, etc., then I photo shopped a picture of my uncle to make it appear he was standing next to him with their arms around each other. My next step was to write a bogus news article reporting shady political dealings between Governor Ventura and Arnold Damsgaard, the Honey King of Northern Minnesota. (My uncle was a bee keeper at the time.) Needless to say, my uncle was thrilled when I presented him with the picture and the article. (He did swear to get back at me...he hasn't yet, but I'm still on guard!)

So those are just a few of my family stories. What about you? Any jokesters out there who'd like to share their stories??

That's it for this week-Happy April Fool's Day!

Best,
Shirley