Thursday, May 27, 2010

Last Week's Winners!


I ran out of time this morning, so I'll be brief and just announce the winners of TO RIDE HELL'S CHASM. They are Sandy (G265) and Andrea! Congratulations! Shoot me an email (shirley@shirleydamsgaard.com) with your mailing address and I'll send you your books!

Hope everyone's having a great week and I promise to have a longer blog next week!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why is This Mystery Author Wearing Museum Gloves?



Life has been chock full of adventures as of late, and this week’s been no exception. My latest–a trip to the charming Ohio town of Milan–answers the question about the gloves.

I was in Milan (pronounced with a long I as in "mile") to take a look at the button collection at the historical museum there.

Why?

Ah, I have a big announcement. I’ve just signed a contract to write a new mystery series and you guessed it, it features a heroine who runs a vintage button business.

Buttons?

Oh yes! You see, I’ve long been fascinated by old buttons. They’re little bits of history, little works of art, and I enjoy looking at them, and learning what they’re made of and how they were made, and wondering about what kind of clothing they were on and who wore them.

It only seemed natural that eventually, there would be a button mystery series in my future.

Now, it’s a reality. I’m writing a series (at least three books at this point) about Josie Giancola, a button dealer in Chicago with a charming but deadbeat ex-husband, a retired cop who lives across the hall and still thinks he’s on the job, and a series of less-than-spectacular assistants. All that’s bad enough when all Josie wants is to concentrate on studying her buttons. It’s worse once she gets involved in murder!

The button mysteries have given me the perfect excuse to learn more about buttons and I did that this week in Milan. The museum has a button collection, but it is not currently on display. No worries, the nice folks there invited me in to look through it on my own. Hence, the gloves.

I had a great time in Milan and I appreciated the look behind the scenes at the museum. As for the books . . . the first is due to the publisher in August so I’m anticipating a publication date some time next summer. Until then, I’m keeping the plot under wraps. I guess you could say my lips are buttoned!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What do you think?

I was tooling around on Yahoo the other day and saw that the Amityville Horror house is for sale in New York for $1.15 million. This is the five-bedroom Dutch colonial where six members of the DeFoe family were shot and killed as they slept. The eldest son, Ronald DeFeo Jr. was convicted of the murders. When the Lutz family moved in shortly after, well, it spawned the Amityville Horror tales, complete with walls oozing blood, moving furniture and a demonic pig named Jodie.

Now even if you don't believe in ghosts, demonic pigs or any other supernatural uglies, does anyone really want this house? If I had $1.15 million, I'd be seeing if I could find a condo in Malibu next to George Clooney, or perhaps a small island. But a multiple murder house that may or may not (I'm voting on may) be haunted?

It got me thinking about another dubious sale last year when a musician bought Jeffrey Dahmer's old house, the very place where he committed his first murder (Dahmer, not the musician). The new owner loves it. Says it's nice and peaceful and since it backs up to a wooded state park, he can play his music however he wants.

But I have to wonder - what's buried in the park?

Maybe nothing. Maybe it's just this writer's imagination (known to be wonky at times). But what about you? Would you live in the Amityville House? Or at casa Dahmer?

Oh and last week's book winner is SandyG. Go Sandy! Email me and I'll get that book out to you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Summer! Now What?

Hi everyone!

I'm finding a little bit of my childhood joy missing this morning. It is summer break for the most part, and my adult mind is telling me, I have to mow, and it's muggy outside, and it's just another day in a long string of days that slip away before I feel like anything has gotten done, and I'm losing time I don't have for nothing.

Sigh....

What the heck! Summer is meant to be celebrated, and I'm determined to get myself out of this funk by embracing my inner child.

So here are the things I'm going to do this summer just to remind myself I'm not entirely an adult.

Go to Disney World. (Thank you RWA Convention) and while I'm there I'm going to ride rides that make me giggle without worrying about diapers or where the nearest potty is, or who is thirsty, or when to put on sunscreen. I'm going to have a blast.

I'm going to go camping. Yay! While I'm there, I'll go fishing, make fires, play cards, draw pictures in the dirt with sticks, and roast a marshmallow.

Get in a water balloon fight.

Eat ice cream from a cone.

Make cupcakes for no reason.

Catch a firefly.

Read a book or nine.

Freeze orange juice in a cup then eat it with a spoon.

Do a cannonball into a pool.

Play croquet.

And eat watermelon as often as possible.

So how about you? What are your summer plans?

Jess

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Janny Wurts





Sorry, no pictures from DemiCon of any Storm Troopers or Klingons!! I do have a couple of shots from one of the panels, courtesy of Adam Whitlatch. Along with Lettie Prell, I served with Adam on a couple of panels and had a great time.

On this particular panel, Janny Wurts joined us. Janny is the author of TRAITOR'S KNOT and TO RIDE HELL'S CHASM and twelve other novels, a short story collection, as well as the internationally best selling Empire trilogy, co authored with Raymond E. Feist. In addition to all of this, Janny is also the cover artist for all of her novels. She's a double threat if ever I saw one! Those accomplishments aside, what really impressed me after serving on a panel with her was her passion-about writing and art-and I've invited Janny to be one of our future guests!

Until we can get the "when" worked out, I'd like to introduce you Janny's work and she's graciously donated copies of TO RIDE HELL'S CHASM to be given away to two lucky winners! So...post a comment today and be entered in a drawing to win one of the copies!!!

That's it for this week! Be sure and leave a comment and I'll announce the two lucky winners next Thursday!!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thank You!

Ask any writer and they’ll tell you: there are good book signings and bad book signings. The good ones . . .well, that’s pretty obvious. A good book signing involves booksellers who are welcoming and engaging, the ones who actually knew you were coming to their store that day, ordered books, publicized the event and bring customers over for you to meet.

Bad book signings, on the other hand, come in all shapes and sizes. The only thing they have in common is that at them, you sell either few or no books! Bad book signings can involve booksellers giving you a blank stare when you walk in and saying, "Oh, we forgot you were going to be here." Or (another favorite) having them wave toward a lone chair in the corner and say, "We don’t have a table for you." Then again, it’s not always the booksellers fault when things go wrong. Even the best-planned event can sometimes fall flat. If the weather is bad, people stay home. If it’s good, people stay home. If it’s the beginning of the school year, they’re busy buying textbooks. If it’s the end, they have graduations and field trips to worry about, not buying and reading fiction.

You get the picture.

The same it true for speaking engagements. Good and bad, and when you agree to do one, you hope for one and pray the other doesn’t happen.

This past Saturday, I had the ideal speaking event and I want to publically thank everyone at the Southeast Branch of the Cuyahoga County Library for it. They called it the Novel Tea (get it?) and aside from being well-attended, it was perfectly planned, run flawlessly, and a whole lot of fun, too.

Volunteers and staff brought in their china teacups and there was one at each place setting. There was also a teapot filled with flowers on every table, giant platters of wonderful homemade finger sandwiches and fabulous pastries. Really, these folks outdid themselves, and I am grateful. I enjoyed meeting every one of them, chatting, selling and signing books. And on top of all that, they gave me red roses which are still gracing my dining room table and looking as gorgeous as ever.

Thank you, Southeast Branch! Your Novel Tea was a shining example of how clever and dedicated people working together can put together a stellar event!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Disney and Zombies. No, really.

Okay so Jess talks about Moby Dick yesterday and I'm going to go in a totally different direction today. Well, maybe not completely off course. See while she's talking about classic reading, I'm thinking about classic entertainment - Disney style.

Jess and I are scheduled to go to a big, official writers' conference this summer. Naturally, we'd planned to hang out together. However, we didn't plan for our midwest conference to be switched at the last minute to - get this - Disney World. Well, Orlando. But right on the Disney resort complex. At first, I wasn't quite sure what to think about that because I was all ready to be serious. Disney World was this far off concept, a place I hadn't visited since I was seven. Now we're going in a month or two.

Going on memories from that long-ago trip, I know we have to hit Pirates of the Caribbean. And of course The Haunted Mansion. Jess says the Tower of Terror is amazing. But what else?

So for all of you who have been there (or know someone or heard of something), what do you recommend we do while we're there? And to make it more fun, how about I give a signed copy of My Zombie Valentine to one lucky commenter?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Timing is Everything


Hi everyone,

Let's talk Dick. Okay, before you get too excited, I'd like to talk about Moby Dick. I know, I hear the groans from here. "Jess, that joke got old in High School, and so did the book."

I know, I know, the great epic of the most humorously named whale in history was probably not my favorite read of all time. It was interesting though, even then. You have to admit that while thick and heavy it is a book that is loaded with history, meaning, and cultural relevance, especially now.

I'm not going to start about the whaling industry in the 1800's, or misuse of a natural resource that eventually destroyed the viable sustainability of that resource, or even the morality of killing whales.

I found out something interesting and I thought I'd share it with you. Herman Melville at the time that Moby Dick was written was a writer on the rise. He wanted very much to be famous and successful as a writer. He had some momentum going, then he wrote what he believed was his masterpiece, an epic adventure/spiritual reckoning about the nature of man, industry, and nature. He believed in it with all his heart.

Then it tanked. The book was released as the whaling industry was beginning to wane, and the Gold Rush had captured the interest of the reading public. All minds turned to the West as a new source of adventure and excitement. He got creamed by the critics, and the great white whale sank into obscurity. Nobody read Moby Dick, because the Whale had missed the boat.

Does anyone else find that disturbing? Melville died, not as a famous author, but as a custom's agent. (I'm pretty sure) He never lived to see the revival of his work, or revel in the satisfaction that millions of American High School students now have to read and study it as one of the greatest examples of an American novel.

It's all that he wanted for the book, but it came too late.

We often hear about how timing is everything in this industry, and half of what drives us crazy as authors is trying to "catch the boat," of what readers want. That is our great white whale, and we'll chase him to the gates of Hell. But he'll wreck us and leave us clinging to the coffin, alone in a vast ocean of books that all seem alike because the market is saturated and "it just doesn't sell."

Then we can give up on the stories of our heart because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Our personal Moby Dicks remain under the bed, sleeping. A great leviathan of effort that will never rise to the surface of the ocean of publishing.

But like the ocean, this business has waves. All things come back around, then maybe it is time to awake the beast and set him free. Just hope he doesn't take a leg with him.

I don't know what to think of the fate of Herman Melville, other than it made me sad. I'm a writer, and so was he. I can feel for a man who put his love into a book. If you're out there, Ishmael, I read your book. I thought it was good. Thank you for your effort. There is a comfort in knowing at least one great story found its place in time.

Happy sailing,

Jess

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And a good time was had by all...

I had the best time last Saturday at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines Iowa! I was there for a signing and gave a little talk (Little? I yammered on for about an hour, but at least I didn't put anyone to sleep!! *g*).

What made this event so special (other than the very nice group of women who attended)? Well, it was at an independent book store, one of my favorite places to be. Beaverdale Books, owned by Alice Meyer, is located in the Beaverdale area of Des Moines. To me Alice's store harkens back to a time when everything wasn't part of some chain, wasn't located in a mall, and each business had their own ambience. In a store like Alice's, they not only knew your name, but probably knew better than you what books you might like to read.

That last statement brings me around to a very important point, and one I've talked about before...the importance of independent book stores. There are thousands of books published every year and if you're a new author, it's difficult to stand out from the pack. Your publisher might do a little marketing by featuring you in their catalogue, your website might generate some buzz, and you might get a few print reviews, but other than that, it's very hard to get your book in the hands of interested readers. That's where independent book sellers come in-they "handsell" your book! It's like dropping a rock into a pond-thanks to them, a reader buys your book, then that reader recommends you to a friend who recommends you to another friend, and well, the ripples from that first sale can go on and on. But it takes the independent book seller dropping that rock to get it started!

Let's face it-we live in a world where "bigger" seems to be "better." Independents, as with all small businesses, have a tough time surviving in such an environment. I for one, not only as an author, but as a reader, would be sorry to see them go. Their role in this whole "author to reader" process is too important for them to fade away. So please, if you have a local bookstore, I encourage you to support them as loyally as you support your favorite authors! If you don't have a local bookstore, many independents such as Beaverdale Books have websites, and they are more than happy to take online orders.

So here's to you, Alice, and to all the other independent book stores!! Thanks for the terrific job you do and long may you prosper!!!

Take care and have a good one!! Next week, I promise...pictures from DemiCon!!!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Three Cheers, Ohioana!

Back from the wonderful Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend, and had to share pictures and stories. Eighty authors there along with lots of readers and a fabulous staff from Barnes & Noble who handled book sales for us.

All in all, a successful and fun event, especially for those of us who left the Festival and spent the evening at the governor’s home in Bexley, Ohio. The reception there was hosted by Frances Strickland, wife of the Ohio governor, who sponsors the Festival. Munchies, champagne, a gorgeous setting and good writing friends.

What could be better?
At the Festival with an all-time favorite, Curious George!

Here I am in the garden of the governor's residence with Mary Ellis, who write Amish inspirational romances. Mary and I know each other from our college days.



With Donna MacMeans, historical romance author. Yes, we were in a tent and yes, the sides were down and the "windows" were firmly shut. It was cold in Columbus on Saturday!


At the governor's residence with fellow Ohio writer, Don Bruns. If you're not familiar with Don's work, give it a try. He writes fast-paced mysteries that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
If you’re in the Bedford, Ohio area this Saturday, May 16, stop in at the Bedford Library for the Author Tea. I’ll be there talking about the writing life. Festivities start at 2. The library is located at:

70 Columbus Road
Bedford, Ohio 44146
For more information, call 440-439-4997

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Books, wonderful books

Hi all! Poking my head up from a reading binge this week. Basically, when I finish writing a book (like I did on May 1), I reward myself by reading all of the books that have stacked up on my shelves. And they do stack up. I'm forever running across books that sound great but that I may not have time to read right away. But I can't not give those books a home, right? Plus, it's fun to just read like crazy.

This week, I've read:
  • Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun by Victoria Laurie
  • Dead if I Do by Tate Hallaway
  • Steamed by Katie MacAlister
  • and five mysteries that I can't name because I judged them for the Daphne Awards
It's been so fricking awesome.

In fact, it makes me even more happy to be giving a load of books away. Let the book binging begin! Jackie U is the winner of the big book package from RT:
  • The Good Ghoul's Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner
  • Tempted At Midnight by Jacquie D'Alessandro
  • Warrior's Lady by Gerri Russell (autographed)
  • Double Enchantment by Kathryne Kennedy
  • Highland Scoundrel by Monica McCarty (autographed)
  • The Lady and the Libertine by Bonnie Vanak
Jane is the winner of Jess Granger's new release, Beyond the Shadows!

Email me at angie @ angie fox.com and I'll get those prize packs out to you. Happy reading!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thanks a Lot, Angie

Hi everyone,

I don't have too many distractions from my writing when I'm actually writing. I get distracted while writing emails, and guest blog posts, etc. Yes, I confess, I waste time on the internet.

What can I say? Everyone needs a mental break every now and then.

When I just want to sit and stare at something for a while so I can think, I hop over to the hummingbird nest cam and watch Phoebe for a bit. She just hatched a new baby named Hope, and the other egg is due to hatch any second.

On Twitter, it's the Zooborns that get me. How could I not click over to check out the painfully cute pictures they put up. Be warned, the cuteness is at near lethal levels, at least to your time.

But I've got a new internet time-suck, and it is all Angie's fault.

I'm playing Farmville.

How did I get obsessed with this stinking little game so quickly? I swear these facebook games get you in that primitive part of the brain that doesn't like to wait for anything. I have to click over just to see if anything is ready to be harvested. I anxiously await gifts from "neighbors" (I need cows, chickens, trees, and parts for my nursery BTW).

It's horrible. It's like those old science fiction stories where you look at the screen and it sucks you in until you are helpless against its power. I must plow. I need to check my chicken coop for mystery eggs. It's a compulsion.

What do you do to keep your internet time-wasters in check?

Jess

Friday, May 7, 2010

Welcome Elizabeth Lynn Casey!!



I'd like you all to welcome our guest today, Elizabeth Lynn Casey!!! I first met Elizabeth as her alter ego, Laura Bradford, several years ago. (In fact we were newbies together!) And over the years, our friendship has grown. She's a terrific writer and it's been fun to watch her success! Her second book in her Southern Sewing Series, DEATH THREADS, debuts today!

So without further ado…here's Elizabeth!!


If you’d asked me five days ago whether the main character in my Southern Sewing Circle mystery series was anything like me, I’d have said no. After all, Tori Sinclair is a twenty-something librarian who loves to sew. And while I must confess to an occasional fantasy regarding the first part, I opted to follow a different career path while simultaneously managing to avoid anything that even slightly resembles a needle and thread…


See? We’re nothing alike.

Or are we?

Just this past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Malice Domestic 22 in Arlington, Virginia where I spent three glorious days catching up with friends. Some of those friends were fellow writers and some were fellow readers. But regardless of which camp they inhabit, they’re friends I’ve made because of mysteries…

Would I have crossed paths with Jan K. from Chicago if it weren’t for our shared love of the genre? Probably not.

Would I have spent hours plotting and giggling with Hannah Dennison and Clare Langley Hawthorne if we’d pursued a different career? Probably not.

Would Dru Ann Love have thought I was nuts for practically hopping up and down as I waited for Mary Higgins Clark to sign my book if she, too, didn’t love books and the people who write them? Probably.

But here’s the thing. Jan and I did cross paths…and I did laugh away an entire afternoon with Clare and Hannah…and Dru did get it…

Because we have a common passion that binds us together in a way that wouldn’t have happened without the glue that—for all of us—is mysteries.


The same holds true for Tori.

Would Tori have been able to fill the costume trunk in the Sweet Briar Public Library’s new children’s room as quickly as she did if it weren't for Rose Winters and Margaret Louise Davis? Probably not.

Would Tori have found herself an unwilling accessory in a bunny-napping if it weren't for Leona Elkin’s newfound kleptomaniac tendencies? Probably not.

Would she have been by Debbie Calhoun’s side when the woman walked into her home and found her husband missing…and his blood all over the house? Probably not.

Yet she did and she was…

Because of a common glue that brought them together. And no matter what the glue may be (bunko, books, sewing, golf, coffee, etc), one thing is certain. When it sticks, it sticks.

I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way.

And neither would Tori.



Elizabeth Lynn Casey is the national best selling author of the Southern Sewing Circle Mystery Series with Berkley Prime Crime. Sew Deadly—the first in the series—debuted last August. Death Threads—the second in the series—releases in bookstores nationwide today. To learn more, visit her website: www.elizabethlynncasey.com

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

I had a great time at the Festival of Mystery!! It was wonderful seeing my friends from the Bayne Memorial Library (which to all you ghost hunters out there, happens to be haunted!); my author buds—Casey Daniels, Joanna Campbell Slan, Laura Bradford (who now is Elizabeth Lynn Casey), Ellen Crosby, Heather Webber; making new friends (my car compatriots, Sandra Parshall, Jenny White, and our fearless driver, Annette Dashofy. I know, Annette, hauling around a bunch of authors has to be a lot like trying to herd cats, but thanks for getting us where we needed to be, when we needed to be!! *g*), and of course meeting all the readers who attend this great event.

And where are the pictures of us having fun?? Umm...well...you see I did have my camera, and I did keep telling Casey that I needed to take a few pictures. But before I knew it, the event was over and my camera had stayed safely tucked in my purse the whole time!! Once again, a missed opportunity!! Ah well, you all are just going to have to take my word that everyone had a really good time!!

Now it's back to the real world...a little tired...a little crimped around the edges, but grateful that I had the opportunity to see everyone again!

What's next? A book signing this upcoming Saturday at Beaverdale Books, then it's on to DemiCon, the Iowa Sci/Fi convention, the following weekend. Maybe then I'll get a few pictures to share, maybe some with a Klingon, or even a Storm Trooper!!!

That's it for now—everyone have a great rest of the week!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Post Morten--Malice

Back from the Malice Domestic mystery conference in Arlington, Virginia, and thinking about the last blog I posted. In it, I advised anyone going to a conference to go with a plan. I went to Malice with a plan. The question, of course, is did I accomplish what I wanted to?

Well, I did get a chance to talk to readers. The best opportunity to do that at Malice is an event called Malice Go ‘Round. It’s kind of like speed dating for authors. Bright and early Friday morning, forty authors went to the ballroom where round tables were set up. Two authors to a table and at a certain time, readers were let in. Each author had two minutes to talk up his/her books.

Then we were given the signal to switch tables.

To another table and another set of readers. Another two-minute chance to talk about my Pepper Martin mysteries, and give them a Reader’s Digest condensed version of the plot of the newest, and show them the cover of the one coming out in July, and hand around bookmarks.

Then we were given the signal to switch tables.

And it started all over again.

The good news is that there’s no better way to get one-on-one time with so many readers, to watch their reactions as you explain your story and your characters and to see so many of them smile and nod, and some of them say, "I’ve read every one. I love your books."

The bad news?

After an hour-and-a-half, you’ve never seen so many wiped out authors! In fact, I went to lunch right after with another of the authors and we spent the first few minutes simply staring at each other, too exhausted to put two words together.

Malice also gave me chance to meet my new editor, re-connect with an editor I used to work with, talk to my publicist, and meet with my agent. I chatted with readers who are always so wonderful and enthusiastic, and I met new authors and saw many old friends.

There’s never enough time at any conference to do everything you want to do, but I think in the great scheme of things, I stuck to my plan pretty well. Conferences are a mixture of business and pleasure (emphasis on the business side) and for me, this one was a rousing success.

Forgot to mention this Saturday's Ohioana Book Festival. If you're in the Columbus, Ohio area, stop by. Lots of authors. Lots of books. Lots of fun. Festival info:

10 am - 4:30pm

274 E. First Avenue
Columbus, OH 43201

See you there!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

RT book giveaway and Beyond the Shadows release giveaway!



Hey all, I'm back from the RT conference and oh my - let's just say it was an eye opening experience. For one thing, I finished the manuscript for The Last of the Demon Slayers in my hotel room and realized that my characters will end books in far more clever and creative ways than I ever planned. For another, the readers at RT were amazing, fun and willing to gift me with Diet Coke at the humongous book signing (yes, I'm sending out Kiss My Asphalt t-shirts to the fellow addicts).

Finally, my publisher runs the Mr. Romance Cover Model contest and asked me to step in last-minute and do a segment with one of the models on stage. Of course this required a same-day rehearsal with said model (and the rest of them). It's a rough job, but somebody has to do it. That's "my" guy, Jamie, in the picture. He won! It's great because he's the nicest person. He was escorting me out on stage in front of a few hundred cheering women and says, "Now you go ahead of me because all of these people are here for you." Ha! Not quite. But it was a very sweet thought. I like it when nice guys do well.

Now in addition to fun, I came home with an obnoxious amount of books. So why not share the wealth? I have:
The Good Ghoul's Guide to Getting Even by Julie Kenner
Tempted At Midnight by Jacquie D'Alessandro
Warrior's Lady by Gerri Russell (autographed)
Double Enchantment by Kathryne Kennedy
Highland Scoundrel by Monica McCarty (autographed)
The Lady and the Libertine by Bonnie Vanak

Post below and tell me what you're reading now (or read last) and you're entered to win the whole kit and ka-boodle.

And I have to tell you the best news of all - Jess Granger has a book coming out today! It's called Beyond the Shadows and it is amazing - a sexy, wicked, wild ride and I'm going to give away a copy of Beyond the Shadows as well. Same question. Just tell us what you're reading/have read recently and you're entered. There will be two drawings. One for the pile 'o books and the other for Jess Granger's hot new release.

Now I'm off to go read. It's my favorite way to relax after completing one of my own books. And before you ask, right now I'm reading The Truth About Lord Stoneville by Sabrina Jeffries.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Back from RT!

Hi everyone,

I'm exhausted. It was go, go, go for the last five days, now I'm in cleanup mode. It's funny how it takes a while to recover from these conferences. I have to unpack, clean up everything, and sort through all the terrible pictures I took.

Oh, I have blackmail, people.

I didn't mean to. I'm just a terrible photographer. I try so hard to get a cute picture, and everyone always ends up having a silly look on their face.

I did get a couple of cute ones from RT this year. Most of them were taken by other people though. I don't know how to get around it.

I can take pictures of butterflies fine, but people? I'm a shutter-gimp.

At least we've moved into the era of digital photography, so I can take a million terrible pictures without guilt. In the early days, I would have taken a picture thinking it was great, only to develop it later and be terribly disappointed. Now I can click away with no concern for wasting film. I think that development in camera technology alone has led to better picture taking.

But not for me. I still shoot the bad ones. If you see me with a camera, beware.

I missed my calling as a tabloid photographer.

Can anyone help me out? Do you have any tips on improving my camera wielding skills?

In other news, Beyond the Shadows hits bookshelves tomorrow. So go forth and enjoy!

Happy reading everyone,

Jess