Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Beta Testing

Hi folks,

I've got an early version of the website up now. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Website Designs

I'm working on the site for the Ganzfield series, and getting discouraged.

This is probably because I'm trying to build the site with three little kids in the same room. I don't recommend trying to think in HTML while simultaneously telling people not to spit on the furniture.

Anyhoo, I hope to have it ready for viewing in the next week or two. In the mean time, enjoy this unique book trailer:

Monday, March 29, 2010

It Sounds Dirty

I'll admit it; it's nothing to be ashamed of, right? I've Googled myself a time or two.

This weekend, I checked out my nom de blog, though, and found this:*

* warning: the soundtrack isn't appropriate for the workplace, or around small children, or, frankly, around anyone. But it'll make you laugh until honey comes out your nose.

I also got a chance to watch an old movie this weekend. GHOSTBUSTERS is such a classic! Brilliant set-up of character, setting, conflict, and rising action. But the dialogue still seems like the highlight to me:

"Ray when someone asks
if you're a god, you say—YES!"

And for years, I used the phrase:

"I love this plan—
I'm excited to be a part of it!"

The special effects don't really hold up--it was made pre-CGI. Since I started writing in earnest, I'm more aware of the puppet-strings of books, shows, and movies. It ruins a lot of TV watching when you guess the ending six minutes into the opening.

But, when a story really pops, it's chocolate for the mind.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Thanks for commenting, everyone! I'll drop off a check for $74 at the Hopkinton Town Library this week. My part in the Great Library Challenge has ended for 2010.

Let's do it again next year!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Talkin' 'bout My Generation

My urge to rant shows no signs of abating.

My entire life has been overshadowed by the Baby Boomers. Their freakishly huge generation continues to distort cultural trends like the gravitational pull of a black hole, even as they edge into old age.

OK, they had a LOT of cool music--I'll give them that.

But still! To this day, I can't call myself a thirtysomething without having a flashback to an 1980s, angst-filled TV series. BTW, does anyone else feel an existential similarity between that show and MAD MEN? Or is it just me?

The 1980s don't seem that long ago for me. But they were. Molly Ringwald now plays a grandmother on TV. Those thirtysomethings from the 1980s are now starting to retire. And that's giving me a midlife crisis--what have I accomplished with my life? And what can I accomplish in the next thirty years?

Gen-X stereotypes aside, it's not like I've been a slacker. I've been busy with jobs, books, kids, etc. But I feel like my group is slipping from the cultural sphere without ever really having had a turn to influence it properly. Heck--"Gen-X," an intentionally meaningless term, was actually the nicest thing we've been called. Remember "Baby Bust?" Do ya?


So, I need to do something to feel good about my generation. Let's make today a celebration of Gen-X. Fill the comment section with waves of nostalgia and generational pride.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What the Health?

Death threats toward Members of Congress? Are you frikkin' KIDDING me? What is the DEAL here?

In the past decade, Congress has voted to go start two wars, including one with a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. I didn't hear about Members of Congress receiving death threats over voting for those. But heaven forbid that we pass a law to try to give citizens healthcare--I guess THAT'S worth throwing bricks through windows.

Why is requiring citizens to have health insurance different from requiring car owners to have auto insurance? Why are so many people getting all worked up over this? I've lived in several countries which give their citizens government-funded medical care. Most people in these places consider healthcare on the same level as police and firefighting--basic protections for the well-being of the people.

If you don't feel safe enough with police protection, hire yourself a private bodyguard. But don't try to shut down the town police station and leave the rest of us unprotected. I'm thrilled that the healthcare law passed; I just wish we'd gone with a single-payer option, like most of the developed world.

After all, it's not like I get health benefits from writing novels.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Win a Book!

Hi folks! Our Library Challenge continues through the rest of the week. Yesterday, we raised nearly $40 for the Hopkinton Town Library.

Today I'm upping the ante.

You don't have to participate in the contest to continue the library challenge. I'll give $1 per commenter per day ($2 if you're a follower; you can sign up at the right). However, in addition, I'll pledge three signed copies of my new book, Minder, to the libraries of your choice.

Comment below by midnight (EDT) Thursday (3/25) if you want to give your local library a chance to receive a copy.

Include two things in your comment:

1) A MEMORABLE inscription suggestion. Funny, sweet, awe-inspiring--whatever blows your skirt up.

2) Contact info for the library. If you have a link--great! If not, just give me the name of the town and state (this offer's good only for the US and Canada, since international shipping gets pricey). If you want to donate it to a school library, include the school name, too.

I'll pick the three inscriptions I like best and announce the winners on Friday morning. Feel free to enter multiple times. I'll send the copies when the book comes out in June.

If you're new to the blog, you might not know that Minder is a YA fantasy, so here's the elevator pitch:

Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn can hear other people's thoughts, but her own can kill. And when her boyfriend is abducted, she'll do whatever it takes to get him back.

Or, as a friend put it last fall:

Teenage mutants with superpowers--in love.

Feel free to point out your favorite inscription in the comments section. It's all good.

Great Library Challenge details: as I wrote Monday, from now until midnight Friday, I'll donate $1 to my local library for each comment you folks make (1 per person, per day), and double it for people listed as followers (sign up by clicking "follow" at the top or on the right). Say whatever you want. "I love libraries" is fine. The donation will go to the Hopkinton NH Town Library, and I've capped the gift at $150. Click here to see the list of participating bloggers. A few quick comments can help a lot of libraries.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

She's a Witch!

I considered titling this post: "She Weighs the Same as a Duck (Because She's Made of Wood)." But that set the nerd coefficient of this post into the red zone.

However, I still wanted to share one of this weekend's epiphanies:


It's obvious, once you look at it from a post-Rowling perspective.

- She flies with an enchanted umbrella.
- She makes the room clean itself.
- Hermione even had a bag like hers, one that held all of her oversized stuff.

And it's obvious that she learned all that at Hogwarts, right?

And Burt's a wizard. Don't tell me that all chimney-sweeps/one-man-bands/street artists can make chalk drawings that people can hang out in for a day.

Why didn't I see it before? I knew she was magical, but...
I think it's because Julie Andrews played her as such a Glinda in the movie. I heard that the author of the original book cried at the premiere--they'd ruined her character. So now I have to read the original P.L. Travers book, just to know for sure. If I were still in school, I'd consider writing a term paper comparing/contrasting the magical worlds of Harry Potter and Mary Poppins.

Geez, even the names look similar. I bet this idea haunts you for the rest of the day. I know it will haunt me.

Oh, and today starts the Great Library Challenge. As I wrote yesterday, from now until midnight Friday, I'll donate $1 to my local library for each comment you folks make (1 per person, per day), and double it for people listed as followers (sign up by clicking "follow" at the top or on the right).

Say whatever you want. "I love libraries" is fine.
If my four-year-old could type, he'd comment that "Mary Poppins is NOT a witch!" He's said it several times since my aforementioned epiphany. I accidentally may have ruined a childhood classic for him.

There are a bunch of bloggers participating in this; click here to see the list of sites. A few quick comments can help a lot of libraries.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Hi folks,

I had a little fun this weekend, and I came up with this:

It's available at Cafe Press now, but I'm not shilling them*.

* yet.

I'll also give away a bunch of them at the virtual launch party here in June, along with signed copies of MINDER and whatnot.

Starting tomorrow, I'm taking part in Jenn Hubbard's Library-Loving Blog Challenge. I hope you'll post comments over the next few days and make me give money to the Hopkinton Town Library.

The rules:
I'll donate $1.00 for every post over the next few days, limit one per person, per day. I'll cap it at $150.00 for the week. However, for new or existing followers in the BFFs box to the right ---->
I'll donate $2.00 per day, per post*.

* Again, limit one per day. What, am I made of money? I'm a struggling new author with three small children, people!

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 19, 2010


As we move into high-gear with the publishing of MINDER, I keep being impressed with the people who work in all of these creative fields. I got the sketch for the opening scene of the trailer yesterday, and I'm giddy with the possibilities. We rarely think beyond the author, but so much goes into making a book!

Case in point (with a nod to Nathan Bransford, for posting this in his blog last week):

Cool, right? This is the book trailer for BLAMELESS, the third in Gail Carriger's series that started with SOULLESS. Loyal BFFs may recall that I reviewed the first book in this series back in January. I've also pre-ordered book 2, which comes out at the end of March. Buy it. Read it. Love it.

Also, great news for Mac-people; Amazon has now released the Kindle for Mac software. Click here to get it for yourself. I loaded up yesterday and read my first Kindle download last night. I like it, but I'm used to reading and editing on my laptop. Has anyone else tried Kindle for Mac or PC?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Tinfoil Hat Brigade

When I started writing my first novel, BAGASTANA* back in 2007, I immersed myself in the online writer's communities.

What I found was:

Yup: writers are even crazier than psychologists, and that's saying something. As far as I can figure it, people become psychologists to self-treat, while people become writers to give the voices in their heads something to do.

So, I'm slightly concerned that I fit in so well.

Fiction Groupie had a great post yesterday about
Writer's Insomnia," and EVERYONE COULD RELATE. Our imaginary friends keep us up at night.

Do non-writers have this problem? Is this the reason we become writers, or is it a result of choosing to write?

* this book has been preserved in manuscript form as an example of how NOT to follow the show-don't-tell credo. Someday I may rewrite it as a first-person narrative from Darwin's point of view, but Maddie and the Ganzfield world are my focus now. Every writer should have at least one unpublished novel in a drawer somewhere. It keeps us humble--sort of.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Christmas Morning

A few weeks ago, I commissioned an artist to do the stills for the book trailer and other promotional materials. The second preliminary sketch is due today, and I feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

Actually, since I'll get another one every few days for the next month, maybe it's more like those advent calendars with the piece of chocolate behind each dated door. Or Hanukkah.*

* the ancient festival of energy conservation. There are 17 different spellings for this word, all of which are wrong.

The advent calendar chocolate was the BEST, because the chocolate mixed with the taste of anticipation. I see that giddy thrill in my kids, when excitement leaks from every pore and they bounce with excess energy. Their every movement becomes the embodiment of "WOW!"

My book's coming out in June. And I'm already bouncing on the inside.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


When I first read TWILIGHT, I got to the end, and there was a "teaser" chapter for NEW MOON. In those first pages, we learn how Bella and Edward's relationship progresses, and he and his family throw a birthday party for her. One of Edward's brothers goes feral when Bella gets a papercut, and, the next thing we know, she's fallen through a glass-topped table and is lying, bleeding, in a room filled with hungry vampires.

And then the pages run out.

I'm not sure where you live on the planet, but that cry of anguish you heard last February was me.

I HAD to get NEW MOON. Right that very moment. It could have been hailing toxic waste*, and I still would have driven to Borders.

* Which is pretty rare. When I was growing up in New Jersey, they only had to cancel school twice because of it.

So, teaser chapters work on me. How about for you? If you read and enjoyed a book, would a teaser chapter make you more likely to buy the sequel? Are there situations where you avoid reading the teaser?

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Smutty Mouth

I write YA books, which generally have two features that distinguish them from books for adults.

1) the MC is a teenager.

2) there's NO SEX OR PROFANITY. Or, if there is, it's rare and toned-down.

I'm pretty cognizant of these things when I write, or when I post things online. I don't want to have my plans for literary world domination derailed by a viral YouTube post of me drunk, half-naked, painted blue, and screaming obscenities at a collection of nuns, cops, and large-eyed orphan children.

So it's a good thing that wasn't caught on video.

Uh, I mean -- so it's a good thing I'd never do that. *

* they weren't real nuns.

You therefore can imagine my surprise this weekend when I tried to update my Amazon profile and received an error message stating that "Amazon does not allow profanity in their user profiles."

At first, I thought I'd made some sort of Freudian slip. In the early 1990s, whenever I'd write something about a "floppy disk," I had an obsessive fear that I'd accidentally replace the "s" in "disk" with a "c."

Stick your floppy disk in here.

Is your floppy disk full?

Beware of spreading viruses with your floppy disk.

So, I re-read my entry carefully, trying to spot my typo:

My first novel, MINDER, comes out in June 2010. It's YA-fantasy/paranormal-romance. If you like YA-fan-par-rom, check it out! I'll have fun stuff and giveaways on soon, too.

All I can figure is that "YA-fan-par-rom" is an obscure freakiness, like a fetish for clowns or something. But I don't know. So, if you DO know what I wrote that triggered Amazon's profanity censors, please post a comment.*

* or send me an email, if it's too graphic to describe publicly or involves something truly kinky, like a bizarre attraction to Civil War re-enactors.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Winner of the Logline Contest

I think I scared some of you. Aspiring writers seem to fear loglines even more than query letters.

When we really know that the hardest thing is writing a synopsis that doesn't read like a grade-school book report.

Or maybe that's just mine.

But, to our newest winner, Joshua, I say "Congratulations!"

His winning entry:

B.Y. Jove was just a humble butler for the Pilliwick family, in Victorian England, until the zombies attacked. Now Jove must lower his manners and raise the stakes.

It's no more Mr Nice guy, B.Y. Jove.

Great job, Joshua! Thanks for getting into the spirit of this. Please email me to claim your prize.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Last Chance for Log-Lines!

Please post your submissions in the comments section of Wednesday's post. I'll announce the winner on Monday (or even earlier, if I feel like it).

I'm still working on the nuts-and-bolts of world domination. Who knew that global conquest involved so much paperwork?

BTW, I just signed up for READERCON. If you'll be in the Boston area this July, come! Find me, mention the blog, and I'll give you a Disgruntled Bear t-shirt (or a pen from my purse, if I run out of shirts).

And, let's start the weekend off right with a jaw-droppingly awesome link:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Non-Writing Side of Writing

I'm working on my Ganzfield website today, trying to get the text set, adding "buy the book" options, removing all of the fictional filler material that came with the website. Seriously, it's like the picture that comes with the frame; GoDaddy apparently believes people too stupid to figure out what to put on a website or something.

E.g., the contact form states:
Enter some text here about the contact form and what will happen after the user fills in this information and submits it.

Or perhaps they just think *I'm* too stupid. There's a thought.

I'll post a link here in the blog once the site is awesome. Right now, it's bare wood and there's plaster dust everywhere.

Although the contact form now reads:
After you fill out and submit this form, ninjas will show up at your house in the middle of the night. But you will never see them, because they are ninjas.

If you write just because you love to write, you don't have to do anything else. But, if you want people beyond your close friends and family to read your work, if you plan to quit your day-job and write full-time, if you have dreams and aspirations of (literary) world domination--well, then you've gotta do the business stuff.

So, I'm building the website and talking to the marketing people and getting copyright permissions and "playing with the pencils and filling out the forms."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

LOL Log Line

Their job was to repossess organs, until he needed one. Now,
everyone wants a piece of him


Yup. Real movie. ROTFL.

OK, contest time. I want your funniest log-line. Fake or real. Book or movie. You're in control. Have fun, and make me laugh. Amusing content, bad puns, hilarious premise - whatever blows your skirt up.

Submit your entry in the comments section. I'll pick the best one submitted by midnight (eastern time) Friday, March 12th. Enter as often as you like.

Bragging rights, and your choice of one of the following:
A query critique
A critique of the first 15 pages of your manuscript (book, movie, etc.)
A dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies, personally baked by me
A signed copy of MINDER, when they're finally printed (I'll probably have ARCs in May)
A JPEG of my freakishly large cat, Mustafa, with dazzling Photoshop effects

Disclaimer: I'll ship the book or cookies only within the U.S. If you live elsewhere, you'll have to pick one of the other prizes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wicked Talented

Hi folks,

Amazement: it washes warmly over me. A smile lights my face. This past week, I've been so impressed with the TALENTS that some people have.

I just finished reading the novel of another unpublished writer, and it was as-good-or-better than the stuff on the shelves at Borders.

I have the sample sketch from the artist who accepted the commission for the book trailer art.

I've had the book trailer soundtrack song stuck in my head, and I'm still enjoying it.

The talent of these people! Amazing! And yet, none of them has hit it big -- yet. But their work stands out from that of their peers. They have the first parts of the formula: they have the raw talents, and they've been working at their crafts.

They still need the second half: the drive to keep trying, and the luck to get their work in front of the people who can do something about getting it out to the big, wide world.

So, you know who you are. Don't give up. Keep writing/drawing/making music. You are GREAT!

And, someday, I'll brag about how I knew you before you were famous.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Woo hoo!

I am SO psyched. I'm "filled with psych-osity," as Rennison might have written in ANGUS, THONGS, AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING. Did anyone know that had been turned into a movie? I am so psyched that it's sending me off on tangents involving random British YA novels.

Anyhoo, I have an artist doing AWESOME stills for the book trailer, and a FANTASTIC soundtrack song to accompany them. I have a wonderfully perfectionistic editor polishing MINDER until I can see my face in it. I have a marketing maven developing a plan for getting the word out. I have the forms to add a small press to my existing business in New Hampshire. I have a printer and distributor. I have cover art. I'm getting the ISBN.

And I have a tentative publication date in June, 2010.

That's right, dudes and dude-ettes, MINDER is going to be published this summer!

Unless something happens, good or bad.
Good = one of the agents still looking at pages offers representation.
Bad = one of the several dozen scenarios that wake me in a cold sweat at 3am.

But those are unlikely, as I am running this operation with MILITARY PRECISION. I am frikkin' INVADING the literary world! Cue "Defying Gravity" from WICKED, 'cuz:

"They're NEVER gonna bring ME DOWN!"

Friday, March 5, 2010

Last Call for Artists!

Wow! I've gotten some sample work back, and I am giddy with excitement.

If you planned to send me a sample still, please do so by midnight Sunday, March 7th. Details are at :

Yay! This pretty much captures my mood today:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On the Road Again

Hi folks,

I'll be traveling and doing some business training for the next few days. I'll be back by the end of the week.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Disgruntled Bear Press

I'm working through the kinks of self-publishing. I'm looking into professional editors. I have a couple of artists sending sample work for the book trailer and publicity materials. I have a cover design. I'm talking to a marketing person today.

Now I'm thinking about how I print the books. I'm going to use a POD service like Lulu or CreateSpace, but POD isn't sexy. There's nothing to list when the form calls for "Publisher." So, should I start my own publishing company?

On the plus side, I already have an LLC here in New Hampshire, so adding a service like publishing is easy. And it doesn't change the costs or anything. I enjoyed reading and editing the queries and partials in my recent contest, too. Maybe I should start my own press, for both my own work and other YA fantasy books. I've googled a bunch of names for it, and right now I'm considering something like "Spencer Hill Press," since some of my favorites are already taken. (e.g., "Grimoire Press," which I liked for YA fantasy books because our slogan could have been "There's magic in these pages.")

What do you think? Does it make a difference to you if a book lists a publisher or not? What do you think of the name "Spencer Hill Press?" Got any suggestions?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Show, Don't Tell

I've been editing my own books and critiquing several other people's over the past few weeks. There's one saying that keeps coming back to me:


What does this mean?

Well, I'll tell you.

No, wait, I'll show you.

Tell: Kate felt angry.
Show: Kate's gut clenched, and she suddenly wanted to hit him.

Showing makes everything more vivid. I've also seen a lot of conversations summarized rather than dialoged. Give us the conversation, unless the characters are telling other characters about something we, the readers, already know, e.g., "Dan brought his parents up-to-speed on the whole bathtub-in-the-tree situation."

Show us what the characters say.
Show us how the characters feel.
Show us everything. But only once.

My favorite show-don't-tell quote is from Anton Chekhov:

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

It always gives me shivers to read that. I may have to embroider it on a pillow or something.