Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Announcing . . .



Call me superstitious (I’m not really, just careful), but I didn’t want to say anything until it was officially official. Now that I have my contract in my hot little hands, I can finally announce the sale of a new mystery series!

It’s called the League of Literary Ladies and is set on South Bass, the biggest of the Lake Erie islands. Main characters are three neighbors who are "sentenced" to be a book discussion group by a magistrate who’s tired of hearing their complaints against each other and convinced they need to sit down, talk, and get to know each other.


There’s more to the concept, of course, but I’m going to keep the details secret. At least for now. I can tell you that book #1 is tentatively titled "Mayhem at the Orient Express" and that it looks like it should hit shelves summer, 2013.


I can also say that I’m thrilled to have an excuse to visit the islands again. Haven’t been there for a couple years, but you can be sure that once the ice breaks up on Lake Erie this coming spring, I’ll be jumping on the ferry and heading over to dig into South Bass Island history, and its secrets. I sure hope that one particular winery is still open, the one with the lovely front porch and the excellent sangria. Served in pitchers.


Ah, the things authors must endure for their art!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How I write, or at least how it happened today

Hey, I just discovered it's Tuesday. For those of you who knew that already...well done!

I've had a little tunnel vision lately due to this new book I'm working on. This is the second book in the paranormal MASH series that's coming out next year. It's been a blast to write, and now that I have a lot of books under my belt, I'm seeing a pattern emerging in how I approach the work.

At the start of a book, I know exactly what needs to happen. May not know how to get there right away, but the idea is solid. Then the early chapters are all about expanding on that idea and making it richer. Again, I know how to do that.

A lot of writers aren't clear on the middle part of the book. I'm good there. But at about chapter 15 or 16, of every book I write, my outlines will start to say things like, "lots of cool stuff happens," or "hey, what if all the Shoneys were run by werewolves?," or in the case of this current book, "hopefully somebody gets laid."

Now for the record, I really do hope my main character gets some. She's been through a lot so far in this book, and frankly, I owe it to her. But as an author, I need a bit more to go on. So I did some brainstorming with my crit partner and we came up with a wicked cool idea that should really make this book sing. I'm loving it. Too much. To the point where I forgot it was Tuesday.

I suppose that's better than forgetting about the weekend, or dinner. I never forget a meal. So anyhow - happy Tuesday! I hope yours was great. It was a lot of fun on this end.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Writer's Thanksgiving List

I was going to put together a Writer's Thanksgiving list of things to be thankful for, but as I started to write it, I realized that a list simply about writing was incomplete. I'm a writer, but I'm also a mom, and a daughter, and a partner and an athlete and everything else, so my list instead will simply be A Stephanie's Thanksgiving List.

I am thankful for (and these are in no particular order, and they don't even begin to encompass all the things I am thankful for):

1) My amazing, beautiful, smart, sassy, creative daughter. As a mom, there is no greater joy than seeing the laughter in my child's eyes and knowing she is happy. My road to becoming a mom was long and tough and I wouldn't change a minute of it, because those beautiful brown eyes that look at me every night while she whispers "I love you, Mommy," are a part of my soul, the part of my soul that was simply meant to be. There was no other path that I could have taken to be a mom, because my path was meant to lead me to her.

2) My ability to love, an ability that was deeply buried for a long, long time. It's safer to shut yourself down and not love, but life is empty without it. When you let yourself love, you can hurt so much more, but the gift of feeling that love in your heart, and feeling the love from others is worth all the risk. I've hurt alot more in the last four years than I did in the two decades before that, but by God, I have sailed the heavens and had more wonderful hugs and more magical moments in the last four years than I ever had before. I wake up with a good feeling in my heart, the feelings that tell me I'm alive, not dying in my shell. Love, baby, love. That is what it is all about.

3) My total goofballness. For most of my life, I worked hard to file off my sharp edges, to be appropriate and dignified, to act responsibly. But as I've gotten older, that dignity has slowly worn off, and I now allow myself to be as free as I want to be. I sing with my daughter in the grocery store, I do the "I'm a hot tamale" dance in the dressing room when we're trying on clothes, and I don't hide my innate klutziness. I make people laugh. I make myeslf laugh. And life is better with laughter. My daughter says all her friends think I'm crazy, and that they think I'm so cool. What better lesson for my daughter to learn at a young age, that it's okay to be yourself, no matter how much of a goofball other people might think you are.

4) My ability to think. Life is tough, writing is tough, we can be our own worst enemy, and sometimes your only tool to survive or to succeed or to suprise yourself is your ability to step back, analyze the situation and then create magnificence.

5) Friends. What is life without friends? Oh, sure, we can survive on our own just fine, but to have pepole who care about you when you're down, who laugh with you when you're up, who remember to buy your latest book, who lighten your mood simply by being themselves... it's a beautiful thing. I moved cross country four years ago, and I had to leave behind all my friends and start over. It took time to rebuild, but as I look around me now, I am so grateful for the friends that have come into my life. Hugs to everyone!

6) My ability to rebound. Life is never easy. It's full of challenges, and hiccups and disappointments and twists and turns, and sometimes you have to really dig deep and change your viewpoint or your direction in order to survive. My life has been particularly full of challenges for the last four years, but each time I thought I'd been defeated, I somehow managed to pull myself together and redirect. That is a huge gift, and I am so grateful for that, because nothing is worse that feeling like it's simply time to give up.

7) My health.

8) My brother. For many many years, I lost connection with my brother, but since I moved back, we have connected and built a friendship that is far beyond anything we ever had even as kids. It's such a gift to look in my inbox and see an email from him, or to look my phone and see a voicemail from him. I love him, and I know we have built a new foundatoin that will last us forever. I feel like I have found my brother for the first time in my life, and it is such a gift.

9) The man who loves me. It took me 42 years, including divorce, single parenthood, and lots of heartache, but just when I'd finally given up and decided to go it alone, he found me. And it is the most beautiful, most precious, most amazing gift, worth everything in the world. Sometimes, when we've been down the tough paths or through the rough times, that is when we are finally able to truly see and appreciate the things in our lives that are so wonderful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Wishing you a joyful, peaceful day. Join me in boycotting those retailers who are forcing their employees to work on the holiday. Bet you won't find any executives behind those cash registers tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We need a book Friday


Is anybody else a Black Friday shopper? I am. Sort of.

I love the deals and the crowds. I love the holiday music and spending a day getting a jump on shopping. The only problem is that it starts so early. 3:00 a.m.? 5:00 a.m.? Hmm...I get the concept of showing up super early at Target or the mall, but can't quite make it there in real life.

Still, I pour through the ads. I think of what I'd do if I was motivated enough get there early. Then I sleep in and show up at around 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. It's still early (sort of). It's still fun (yay) and all of the basic sales are still going on.

Now if bookstores had big Black Friday sales...that might be different.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful for Books and Corsets :)

As of Friday I turned in a round of edits for KEPT! It was a fun ride so now I get to relax and enjoy some good books. Right now I'm giving in to my inner geek and I'm reading WWW:WAKE by Robert Sawyer. But after that I've got some good one coming in the pipeline. I got an early copy of Amanda Bonilla's SHAEDES OF GRAY! She got a Top Pick and a 4 1/2 star review on RT Book Reviews so I can't wait to read it. Another book which I just happened to stumble upon was WHEN SHE WOKE by Hillary Jordan. I read the opening and was hooked. It's essentially a re-telling of The Scarlet Letter--but in the future! Here is the premise:

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family. But after she’s convicted of murder, she awakens to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red for the crime of murder. The victim, says the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love. 

A powerful reimagining of The Scarlet LetterWhen She Woke is a timely fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of the not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated, and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith a love.


Isn't that neat? I couldn't wait to read it after I read a few preview pages. I've got a whole week to relax and read for the Thanksigiving holiday! Of course, I have a few freelance projects, but well, a break or two to read never hurts. ;)

So, on to the cool part. On Friday I celebrated Hot Damn Design's one year anniversary at their masquerade ball. I work with Kim Killion as the developer behind their Wordpress, Facebook, and other advanced projects. It's been a great and successful year so a celebration was definitely warranted. If you recall, Angie and I bought some corsets a month ago. Would you believe they both showed up on that very Friday?? Can someone say perfect timing? Angie looked amazing in hers and I had a blast. Here's a shot of me in mine:


It was quite an experience to get into it. Arranging the corset was the easy part. Tightening it as a newbie was another story. I tried to grab a few of the drawstrings in the back, but I couldn't tighten it properly. Thank goodness I got some help once I arrive at the party. Author Jennifer Jakes was kind enough to further  tighten me up. LOL And boy did the corset feel so much better afterwards. :) I even managed to eat at bit while wearing it. If anyone's thinking about buying one, I highly recommend it. Angie and I bought ours from Draconas Creations and I love the quality of the product.



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

WICKED on Something Wicked


This has been a busy week—my birthday was this week and my two daughters took me out to dinner and then to a performance of WICKED. I had a great time. Not only was it wonderful spending time with my girls, but WICKED was fantastic. I’d not read the book and this was my first exposure to the new take on the old classic.

It was interesting. I managed to deduce who would become the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow in advance. Plus I also saw parallels between what was happening in Oz and the rise of the Third Reich. And whether or not it was the intent of the author, to me the theme was the fact that sometimes perceptions have little bearing on the truth. During the intermission, I of course shared these pithy observations with my girls, to which my youngest daughter rolled her eyes (particularly when I mentioned the Third Reich) and asked why I couldn’t just sit there and enjoy the musical.

But I was enjoying the musical. While my daughter’s enjoyment stemmed from seeing and listening to music that she loves being performed live, mine came from trying to figure out what would happen next and what point the story was making. We were both having fun, but approaching it from a different perspective. We were viewing the same performance, but through our own filters.

I think this is really true when it comes to books, too. I write a book drawing from my own life; my own feelings; my own perceptions yet when it’s read, the person reading it is seeing the story and the characters through their eyes not mine. How they relate to that is based on their life experiences. And to be honest, there have been instances when I’ve been amazed at what a reader picks up on between the lines. Sometimes it’s something I intended, but many times it’s not.

And that’s okay. I don’t care what assumptions the reader makes. The only thing that’s important to me as the author is that the reader enjoys experiencing the story.

So did Mr. Maguire intend to write about intolerance and false perceptions in WICKED? I don’t know—I’ve not read any interviews where he discusses his work. After watching or reading WICKED, did anyone else come to the same conclusions that I did? I don’t know the answer to that one either. But again—does it matter? As long as I enjoyed the experience, and that I certainly did!

That’s it for this week—we’re still running the LOVE LIES BLEEDING contest on the Jess McConkey—Author Facebook page and we’re getting close…73 “likes”! Only 27 more to go and we’ll do the giveaway!! Have a good rest of the week and I’ll see you next Thursday.

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Blast from the Past



Actually, it’s more like 11 blasts from the past.


You see, last week, I sent off the first 11 books I ever wrote (including "Earthly Delights," pictured above) to Amazon to be digitized and put up on Kindle.

An interesting exercise. First of all, I had to find copies of the books. Yes, I had them all, but gathering them took a little digging. After all, the first book I published will be (gulp!) 20 years old this coming February.


That done, I turned to a project my agent asked me to complete. Send her a list of all the books and include:


Title
Genre
Author’s Name on Cover
Comparable Authors
A Blurb About Each Book


And again, it sounds easy, but it definitely wasn’t. A blurb about each book? After all these years, I didn’t even remember character names, much less what each book was about. I skimmed, I read, I even looked up reviews online. Some of the stories floated back at me through the mist. Others, I barely remember at all.

That project done, I turned to covers. Choose a template, choose a color, choose an image.


Whew!


The books–eight historical romances and three young adult horror--are going to be part of Amazon’s White Glove Program, and I’m eager to finally see them available.

Maybe one of these days, I’ll even get a chance to read them. I wonder what surprises await me!

Monday, November 14, 2011

COVETED Cover Flat

Happy Monday all!

I would've posted last Monday, but the Friday before last I experienced the joy of hard drive failure... It was quite a painful experience and I highly recommend that you backup items you find valuable. What pretty much happened was I was in the middle of working and then I got the blue screen of death. Not long after, I tried to reboot, perhaps hoping I'd see Windows boot back up. Well, my computer never came back. Even after running restore software for like 3 days straight, I only got a few files back. Most of them weren't that useful either. LOL

At least the good news is that I have something fun to reveal--the cover flats for COVETED. Right now I'm editing the second book in the series, KEPT, which thankfully wasn't lost during my hard drive fiasco.




Another thing: Sharon, if you could send me an email? You won my last giveaway and I want to make sure I send it your way!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Girl Friend's Guide to Boys--Which Covers Do You Like Best?


In 2004, after writing eighteen complete books, nine partials and after receiving over 130 rejections, I finally wrote the book that opened the door to the world of being a published author. My teen romance, PUTTING BOYS ON THE LEDGE was the culmination of years of hard work, failure and determination. It was that moment when I finally created that magic that I'd been working toward for so long, when I finally wrote a book that was so beautiful that it made my heart sing, the book that finally got a publisher to make my dreams come true. It was my triumph, and my pride, and it always has been.


Several month ago, I went back and reread PUTTING BOYS ON THE LEDGE, and I blown away by how good it was. It's seven years later, and I'm such a better writer than I was back then, so I was expecting to see that it wasn't that strong. But you know? It was still magic, it was still amazing and my heart was delighting in the adventures of four friends, as if I were reading it for the first time. There was something really amazing and sepcial about that story, and about that series, and if I wrote it today, I doubt I could write something as special as that book, as that series. Two of the four books in the series were RITA award finalists, winning those slots against adult books, because they were that special... and they still are.


These books, this series about four best friends as they find first love and navigate through high school, is the kind of romance we read as teens. It's sweet, it's heartwearming, it is the true magic of that first kiss. It's about honestly and loyalty, and it's about learning to discover the power within each of us. I call them my girl power books, because they're about how amazing and how special every girl is inside, no matter how different she feels she is from everyone else.


So, it is with the most tremendous excitment that we are relaunching this series as ebooks, under Stephanie Rowe, my real name. They were published before the days of ebooks, and their print shelf life is long gone. I still get emails from girls who find them in libraries, and they want to know how to find the rest of the series. And now, they can. You can. Everyone can. Yay!


Take a minute. Read one of these books. Be transported back to the magical days of first love, first kisses, and friends that take you to buy your first thong. Share these books with the teens in your life who are tired of the books otu there today, the ones that are so dark and full of the violence, drugs and sex. Help the teens you know discover that a wonderful book can empower them, and make them feel good at the end.

So, which covers do you like best? The 2004 Stephie Davis covers, or the 2011 Stephanie Rowe covers? Let me know!

Interested? Follow the links below to take a peek! Excerpts will be up on my website shortly!

Putting Boys on the Ledge Amazon, B&N
Studying Boys, Amazon, B&N
Who Needs Boys, Amazon, B&N
Smart Boys & Fast Girls, Amazon, B&N

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Which Came First?

Recently, along with my youngest daughter, about 10 of her friends were in town to work on a project relating to her church and she thought it would be just great if they all came to my house for dinner. They would get to see her family home, meet her mother, and get a home cooked meal. At least that’s the way she pitched her idea to me at the time, and since I’ve always had an open door policy when it came to my children’s friends dropping by, I agreed. (Not a big deal—three pots of chili and a pan of cornbread fed everyone.) And it was fun—I’d not met any of the close knit group she hangs with since moving into her own apartment in Des Moines, and they seemed to be a very nice group of young adults. Later that evening, one of her friends made the comment to my daughter that her mother was quite a raconteur.

When related to me, the comment made me realize something—most of the writers I’ve met are raconteurs. Thinking back on the conferences I’ve attended and the panels I’ve either served on or watched, most of the questions asked are usually answered by the author with an anecdote. Even when authors are simply hanging out, the stories flow as quickly as the beer (or drink of choice, depending on the particular author.) Personally, I love it—I not only like telling stories, but it’s fun listening to them, too. And they’re usually followed by a great deal of laughter.

This brings me around to a question—kind of a “which came first…the chicken or the egg” thing—is the telling of anecdotes a natural extension of writers spending their days putting words on paper? It’s what they’re comfortable with. Or did the stories come first? Is it something that they’ve done all of their lives and now they're sharing them with a larger audience? What do you think?

One last thing—the marketing team at William Morrow has offered to run a contest on my Jess McConkey—Author Facebook page. Our goal is to hit 100 “likes” and once we do, all those who’ve hit the “like” button will be eligible to win one of the five copies of LOVE LIES BLEEDING that they’ve offered as a prize. So if any of you or your friends are interested, please check it out.

That’s all for this week—have a good one!

Best,
Shirley

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's always funnier when it happens to someone else

Last night, my husband came home and showed us a video that I thought would terrify the children. It was from the Jimmy Kimmel show, where Kimmel asked viewers to tell their children that they had eaten all of the Halloween candy while the kids were asleep.

Kimmel said he was surprised at the reaction from most of the children - tears, mainly. I wasn't. I'd be crying too. What I was surprised at was the reaction from my kids. They thought it was hilarious. But would they if it happened to them? Maybe we need to find out next year.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Attention Buckeye Readers!












Yes, it’s hard to believe, but it’s the first week of November and that means this Saturday is Buckeye Book Fair.


Not familiar with the event? It happens every year in Wooster, Ohio on the first Saturday of this month, a literary/book fair that features nearly 100 authors and many more eager readers.


Buckeye is Ohio’s premier book event and the location is perfect, just about mid-way between Cleveland and Columbus. Festivities start at 9:30. There’s plenty of parking, plenty of books, and authors who are eager to meet and greet readers.


Stop by if you can! I'll be there in both my personas, as Casey Daniels, author of the Pepper Martin mysteries, and as Kylie Logan, author of the Button Box mysteries.


For more information, check out the link at:
http://buckeyebookfair.com/

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Candy comas and a were wives winner


Hey all, I'm coming out of a candy coma here to post. Why is it that as a child, I never suspected that my parents would rob my candy stash? And how is it that as a parent, I have to restrain myself to just the kind that the kids don't like? (Baby Ruth - thank you, God). Oh and the half-bag of Snickers left over from the "house" candy we were giving away last night.

But I had to random generate our ultra cool prize winner from last week. mnjcarter wins a copy of The Real Werewives of Vampire County. Woot!

Now I'm wondering if it is too late to carve pumpkins. With the World Series in St. Louis last week, we never got around to it... ;)