Sunday, September 30, 2007
What’s the best category for your entry? How do you interpret this year’s formatting instructions? Where do you break your partial? What mistakes can you avoid and what stand-out traits do winning entries have? Every member of the Wet Noodle Posse is a previous GH finalist, lots are winners, and a few have enough bling to start their very own heart-themed gift shop.
Believe it or not, entering the Golden Heart can be fun. Join the camaraderie that is the Wet Noodle Posse and get help bringing home the Gold!
Send any suggestions of Golden Heart topic areas you wish the Noodlers to address to Jill Monroe at email@example.com.
Take a break by visiting our free monthly ezine: http://www.wetnoodleposse.com.
Who is the Wet Noodle Posse?
In 2003, a group of about sixty women met each other online for the first time as finalists in the Golden Heart. They found a special friendship, and stayed together - through births and deaths, the inevitable agent and editor rejections, giddy-making first sales and more sales. When anyone expressed doubt about her talent, the others threatened to thrash her with a wet noodle. The name Wet Noodle Posse was born. Today the Posse has any multi-finalists and winners, and a few have enough bling to start their very own heart-themed gift shop.
The Wet Noodle Posse went on to launch an e-zine designed to celebrate and support women in all kinds of ways. Of the Noodlers who take part in the e-zine, 22 of 32 are now published, for nearly 69 percent. They also started a blog to expand their contact with others. Now the Wet Noodle Posse wants to share their collective experience to encourage other writers to enter the Golden Heart.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Contemplations as I WalkRecently, I started exercising to lose weight, get healthy, and have more energy. My exercise of choice? Walking. I started the summer strolling the neighborhood for a half an hour with my husband after dinner and have now graduated to fifty minutes around a meandering trail at a nearby park in the morning after I drop my daughter off at school. During those fifty minutes I don't find myself communing with nature. Here are some of the things I think about.
1. Grape Nuts Trail Mix Cereal. I should probably eat breakfast before walking.
2. Mommies with strollers mostly travel in groups of two, three, and even four. The loners tend to be runners with flat stomachs and cute exercise togs, and yes, they do lap me.
3. Are the people who walk against the flow British? Or are they just rebels, who enjoy interrupting the flow?
4. Should I or should I not buy that cute violet charmeuse blouse I saw the other day?
5. What will I do if one of the guys with a weedwacker on the Prison Work Detail throws down his equipment and, weilding some shank, tries to take me as a hostage? Elbow to the solar plexis? Knee him in the groin? Hey, that could be the opening of some romantic suspense. Why didn't I bring my notepad and pen?
6. Only two more laps. I can do it. I can do it faster. Cue music to the Six Million Dollar Man theme.
7. Why does my excess mass come off my neck first? I'd really prefer it to come off my butt. I think I probably need to add some weight training to my routine to build muscle mass and burn more calories.
8. No, what I really need is to memorize my pitch before the conference. My stomach lurches. I hate face-to-face pitching to editors and agents. I much prefer the anonymity of letters or e-mails.
9. Maybe I don't want cereal.
What do you think about when you exercise?
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I’m hungry-- for varietyNot for food, of which I get far too much, but for variety in my historical fiction. I want to read about more places, different people. But today's historical romance rarely ventures away from the British Isles, and even there clings to the romantically glistening cities of the English aristocracy, London and occasionally Bath. For variety, it crosses the border into Scotland and steps back a few centuries to capture a dangerous but kind-hearted Scottish chieftain in his battle of wits that makes up his arranged marriage with a feisty English heiress.
Not that I don't enjoy those stories. I do. But for heavens sake, couldn't we have a little variety?
Writing about times and places away from Regency England has been chancy for the last ten years or so. Personally I'm not convinced more exotic stories won't sell, but a number of editors are, and they won't buy them, so they don't get published, and if nobody publishes them, well, it's obvious they don't sell.
Mary Jo Putney is the champion of the romance of exotic places. In The China Bride, her half-Chinese, half-Scots heroine, Troth Montgomery, marries a soon-to-be executed Englishman who sends her to England alone, where life is difficult for her. But Mary Jo Putney is an icon. I only wish I could write like her. I only know one MJP, and she has many readers like me who know her stories will always thrill, no matter what the setting or who the characters are.
Personally I love more exotic stories and my current editor is encouraging me to look at developing them. But I have not yet figured out exactly what it is other readers of historicals want in their romances. If they want the glitz and glory of Prince Charming marrying Cinderella, then probably they don't want to step beyond the familiar and comfortable Regency and maybe Victorian periods. But if adventure is a major factor for them, and I think it is for many, then there should be more market for exotic locations and times.
And then there's the slightly tarnished and a little bit warped theory about ethno-centrism. Is it possibly true that we only want to read historicals where we can imagine we might have been if we'd been our own ancestors? A large portion of the female book-buying public in North America has British Isles roots, and the closest they can get to becoming Cinderella marrying the Prince is with the British aristocracy. (I can sure see this changing in the next century!)
In America's Superstore economy, we appear to have an enormous variety available for purchase. But I'm afraid that's as superficial in the book-buying field as it is with shampoos and shoes. Shampoos? If you read the labels, there's almost no difference at all except in color and perfume. Shoes? Those of us with narrow feet are left to wallow in shoes too wide and pinching at the toes just to get something close to a fit because narrow shoes don't sell well. Particularly since the prices were so jacked up we couldn't afford them.
Books are the same. Only the books with the highest volume sales potential will be marketed. The people who don't find what they want either settle for pinched toes in the shoe that doesn't fit, or go barefoot. If they're allergic to shampoos, they learn to rinse a lot, because they have to wash their hair. But book buyers rarely read what doesn't interest them. They take up knitting or learn to ski instead. So my guess is, the people who would be likely to love the exotic stories I'd love to write gave up long ago and are no longer going into book stores. They've discovered World of Warcraft, or they're off scuba diving in the Caribbean.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Two Noodler Sales!If you're familiar with the WNP, you'll know we've supported each other in so many ways! I'm thrilled to interview two Posse members who've recently made their first sales.
Actually, I was in bed asleep. I had a horrible sinus infection, was running a fever, and just generally feeling crappy. The phone rings, waking me up, and my first thought was that if it was another one of those automated messages from some guy running for mayor, I was going to be mad. Well, it wasn't. It was my agent, and she started off asking me how I was feeling. She knew I was sick. She'd been sick too, so we talked about how cruddy we both felt. Then she asked me if I'd decided to run for the RWA board again. I said I was but that I was running for a regional director position and not the PRO Liaison position. She then says, "That's good because you're not eligible anymore!" (For those who don't know, the PRO Liaison has to be unpublished.) It took a minute for it to sink in, then we talked about the details of the sale of two young adult novels to Razorbill, an imprint of
Penguin. After I hung up, I started calling family and friends -- at least until my fever went up so much I had to go back to bed. :)
My agent was shopping around my fourth manuscript – Telling Lies. That story should really sell as mainstream, but I’m not a man and I didn’t attend an Ivy League school, so that’s unlikely to happen. You have never seen such glowing rejections for a book. I have one editor’s comment pinned to my wall. “Telling Lies was utterly clever and fun and often startlingly truthful. You’ve really got a wild ride of a writer on your hands. Thanks for the read, which was completely unforgettable.” And then she went on to say thanks but no thanks. So we had pretty much given up on selling that book when Kensington read it and said they were interested in me as an author but did I have anything that would more easily fit into a genre that people actually buy? And I said, “Well, I have this paranormal romance, and I understand that market is doing pretty well.” So they bought it, even though it’s about elves.
Which of course brings up the question...why elves?
Why, indeed. The answer is that the first Lord of the Rings movie had just come out, and I thought Legolas was pretty durn sexy. I never watched any of the sequels, because I’m not a fan of monster armies that leave a trail of slime from all the methylcellulose dripping from their toothy jaws. So instead of watching LOTR2, I created a heroine very like me, living in my town, who meets an elf and falls for him. Bound to Love Her was only my second book. Since then, people have come to associate elves with Harry Potter house elves, and I even get people squinting and saying, “You mean like Keebler® elves? Ew!”
People seem very uncertain about whether elves can be sexy. Kensington didn’t want the words elf, elves, or elven anywhere in the title. We’re sneaking the whole elf thing under the radar. Marta Acosta (author, Midnight Brunch) writes similarly funny books about vampires, and she agreed to read an advance copy of Bound to Love Her, but she warned me that she wasn’t sure she could get behind the “elves are hot” idea. Since then, I have received the following email from her:
I strongly suggest that you tell [your editor] that when she’s requesting a blurb, she should use the word “hawt” a lot in describing your elves. I’m thinking something like,
BOUND TO LOVE HER contains lots of TOTALLY HAWT ELF ACTION. Galan is a WAY HAWT elf, I kid you not. He’s with this girl and they’re kind of stuck with each other, and she’s like, whoa, this pointy-eared dude is SCORCHING HAWT. Stuff happens and it’s really awesome and Galan’s all nekkid and the magic just isn’t in his fingertips, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.
Okay, really I ask...what's the book about?
What, Marta’s description wasn’t enough? Well, Erin is this gal who owns a New Age store but doesn’t particularly believe in the supernatural. (Although she does “believe strongly in harp-oriented CDs and flower-fairy jewelry.”) And one night, she unknowingly intervenes in a battle between Fellseth, a dark elf, and Galan, a good elf, and Galan winds up bound to Erin in the sense that he gets his energy from her instead of the land Fellseth took from him. Lest you think Galan is a wimp because he was defeated, let me say that he was in mourning for his dead wife and had sort of lost interest in life. (Cue, “Awww!”) Galan and Erin spend some time trying to figure out a way to unhitch, although at first she’s not eager to part and then he’s not. Meanwhile, Fellseth discovers that Erin can provide elf energy and decides he wants to finish Galan off and keep Erin as his zombie love slave. Zombie, because elves can put a mind-control whammy on humans, called a glamour. Elves had that before vampires, okay? It’s in, like, medieval poems and stuff.
Anyway, I like to call the book an urban-fantasy, romantic-suspense comedy. If you’ve read Marta (and you should), we have similar styles in terms of having fast-moving plots and mystery elements. I wouldn’t say there’s a ton of HAWT ELF ACTION. There’s definitely some.
Leaving the land of elves, Tricia's book is aimed toward young adults. Heartbreak River (working title) is about a 16-year-old girl whose family runs a river rafting business in Colorado. She's grown up on the river and has always loved it. She's never wanted to do anything other than run the business when she's old enough. But then her dad drowns in a rafting accident, and suddenly she's afraid of the very river she's loved all her life. This book is about her beginning to heal, conquering her fear, and finding love -- both of the river again and the boy who she's been over the moon for since they they were kids.
Both Tricia and Esri have done some interesting things to get readers interested in their books. Tricia - you first.
I've had a personal blog since January 2005, but I recently launched a new blog called The Girl Hood under my YA pseudonym, Tricia Mills. It's targeted toward teenage girls, who are the target audience for my books, and covers everything from books and music to movies and TV...and anything else teen-focused.
Since my first book likely won't hit bookstore shelves until 2009, I'm hoping to build up a teenage following at the blog before the book's launch date.
And you, Esri? What are you doing?
You mean the live-action video trailer? That’s an ambitious idea of mine which I’m going to have to actually do because I mentioned it to my publisher and they loved it. Basically, I’m working on a teaser trailer for the book that uses drama kids from my local university, plus whomever else I can rope in. The tag line is “What if there were elves among us?” and I’m incorporating a big gag in the hope that it will go viral on YouTube.com. It’s a big ol’ risk and represents a lot of time, but if you don’t try, you don’t get. So if you go to ElvesAmongUs.com, which is very preliminary from a book-promotion standpoint, you’ll see all the roles available for people willing to wear long-hair wigs, capes and boots (Huzzah!), and latex ear appliances (must learn to apply those). Clearly I have always wanted to be Rob Reiner only without the beard. I’m already thinking of promotional schwag for the cast, to get them to do my advertising for me.
Okay Tricia - tell me a little more about your transition to published author.
I've been writing novels, mainly romance but also some women's fiction and young adult, since I was in college, seriously since 1996. So it took me 11 years of focused work to sell, and it's the height of irony that after 18 completed manuscripts I actually sold on a single chapter. It still boggles my mind when I think about it, and I'm immensely grateful. Also, I owe a debt to fellow YA author Stephie Davis (aka Stephanie Rowe), who was the one who urged me to try my hand at writing young adult books.
Bound to Love Her by Esri Rose will be available May 2008. You can find out more by going to her website ElvesAmongUs.com or her blog here. Tricia Mills' first book, Heartbreak River will be out sometime in 2009. You can check out her blog here, and her website here.
Friday, September 21, 2007
My New ObsessionThis week I bought three TV shows on DVD. I was hooked on Supernatural last September. I got the first disc from Blockbuster Online, got hooked on the combination of creepy and smart writing and went and bought the set. The second set just came out last week, and I’ve been revisiting my favorite show.
I bought Heroes for my son.
And I’d seen three episodes of Friday Night Lights a couple of Saturdays ago. I put the episodes in my queue, but it was a long wait. My local Blockbuster doesn’t have them, but Amazon was selling the entire first season for $20. A bargain! I ordered, and it got here Wednesday. I plan to dive in this weekend.
I recently completed my Buffy and Angel DVD collection, thanks to a sale at Best Buy. I’ve hooked my neighbors. This show I actually watched BEFORE I bought the DVDs, and I added as I could.
As with Friday Night Lights, only a handful of episodes got me hooked on Grey’s Anatomy, and like Friday Night Lights, it was a bargain at $20 (though only a few discs – FNL has 5). I won’t be buying Season 3, but I love Seasons 1 and 2 and even have some episodes on my iPod.
I bought seasons 5 and 6 of the Gilmore Girls when I found them on sale, because those were the highlights of the Luke/Lorelei romance, and I plan to watch those as I dive into my new book. I have season 1, too, and plan to add as I did with Buffy and Angel.
I bought Veronica Mars, also for $20, and still haven’t watched it.
We bought the first season of Northern Exposure because we used to love that show (and who can resist the little parka it comes in?)
And I bought the first four seasons of Law and Order because I was writing RS. Research, you know. And yes, only the Chris Noth seasons.
My dh has his shows:
And the ds has his:
We’re turning into a regular Blockbuster.
Do you buy TV shows on DVD? Which ones do you have? Which ones do you want?
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This is a quote from Janet's blog from a few days ago, discussing what she likes in an Historical. Ordinarily I would agree with her about the Regency gentleman's shirt buttoning all the way down, but I recently received the cover for my January 2008 Harlequin Historical--A Regency--The Vanishing Viscountess.
Note the open-front shirt. Totally wrong for the time period, but I love this cover!
The shirt is wrong, but the cover is so right. It conveys the right situation and mood between the hero and heroine. And I love the sensuality of it. Plus, having a handsome man baring his chest on the cover ought to entice readers to pick up the book!
I think historical accuracy is very important in historical romance and, like Janet, I work hard at trying to make my Regency Historicals as accurate as I can. I know some other authors are not hard-and-fast about this and it doesn't seem to affect their popularity with readers.
So what is important to readers? I know what is important to me as a reader.
1. Characters I can care about--I can forgive a lot of other problems if the characters seem like real people I can care about. I want a hero I can fall in love with and a heroine I can either identify with or someone I wouldn't mind having as a friend.
2. Something interesting happening--It doesn't have to be something complicated happening, or even something with lots of inherent drama, like a life-or-death situation. Just something that keeps me turning the pages.
3. Something surprising or unexpected--I want something about the story to be different from other books I've read.
4. I want the love story to feel genuine. I want to understand why these two people fall in love and to believe that no one else would be better suited for them.
5. I want sensuality in the story. I want to be able to feel the physical attraction between the hero and heroine and I want this expressed in a way that seems right for these characters.
6. I want to suspend my disbelief and be transported to whatever time period the book is set. This inevitably means historical detail, but I want the detail to be incorporated into the story. I don't want to be thrust out of the story by feeling like the author is showing off historical knowledge.
7. I also don't want to be thrust out of the story by historical inaccuracies. Because I write Regencies, I know a lot about the time period. I would forgive minor mistakes, but not ones that would be easy to research.
8. I don't want to be thrust out of the story by historical accuracy either. Sometimes historical accuracy is so foreign to us we cannot relate to it. I think Regency titles and names are sometimes an example of this. Use of title names instead of first names; having sons with different title names than their fathers; having surnames that are different than title names. It can get very confusing.
What is most important to me is that the mood and tone and characters feel as if they belonged in the historical time period.
This brings me back to my cover. It works perfectly for me, even with the inaccurate shirt, because it conveys the right mood, the right situation, the right sensuality for the story.
Plus it has that handsome bare-chested man on it!
What is important to you as a reader?
Visit The Risky Regencies blog this week to celebrate our second anniversary. Prizes every day and a Grand Prize for signing up for our newsletter by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Just put "newsletter" in the subject line.
Visit Diane's website
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Book Blurbs and Blogs – Esri Rose
Occasionally I see a debut book with no endorsement blurbs, and now that I’ve been through the “Validate me!” process, I have to wonder why. Were they too shy to ask? Did they not think to try? My experience has been that not only the Noodlers, who could be expected to help me out, but also relative strangers have ponied up with blurbs for my first book.
Noodler Colleen Gleason, author of The Gardella Vampire Chronicles, gave me a choice of quotes to pick from, depending on what I felt would best market the book. She also recommended that I ask Marta Acosta for a blurb. Not only did Marta agree, but she and I have turned out to be so similar in outlook and writing style that I feel like I have a new friend. Bonus!
Noodler Stephanie Rowe gave me very free rein with her blurb, and again was most concerned with what would help me market it. And Janet Mullany, who wasn’t a blurbing candidate because she doesn’t write anything similar to my stuff, gave me an email intro to Kathy Love, who does write something similar, and lovely Kathy offered to read it.
In case you still feel that blurbing is a big favor to ask, consider this. Each of these authors will get her name and a book title somewhere on my book, for only the cost of giving it a read. In the case of Stephanie Rowe, I’m hoping to have the words, “RITA nominee” next to her name, and she should be shelved right next to me. Shoppers who haven’t discovered her yet can pluck her book off the shelf and walk out with it, too.
Another thing people seem happy to do is to feature me on their blogs. Not being a regular blogger myself, this is supremely valuable to me. But it’s also valuable to them. Bloggers are always looking for new content, and if I can be an entertaining guest, that’s gravy for them. My advice to anyone out there is this: Slave over those guest blogs. Make them so good that people will knock down your virtual door to have you yammer away on their site. Noodler Jill Monroe is interviewing me on her blog on the 23rd of this month (it will also appear here), and Marta (whom I mention in the interview), has offered to link to it. See how these things snowball? Steph has offered to put me on The Midnight Hour.
Show your gratitude and mention your benefactors’ names. Link to their sites. When Google turns up their name in your post, it’s a reminder to pass on the goodness.
Here’s a final tip: If you write funny/sexy paranormal, print this post out and do your own asking. It can’t hurt, and it could really help. Browse through Amazon.com and find authors who write books like yours. Ask your friends if they know any of those people. Start with the bestsellers – why not? A big part of your career is the relationships you make. Other writers know that, too, and are probably more willing to help someone who looks like they’re really trying hard. If your go-getter attitude pays off, you might be in a position to return the favor some day.
Whoops! Almost forgot. Mention the name of your book. Bound to Love Her, available May 2008.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
RememberingSeptember is a month of celebration in our family. Over fifty percent of our birthdays fall in the month of September. Today is my great grandmother Lutie Kidd's birthday. She is my maternal grandmother's mother and my chief story angel. My third manuscript, FAIRHOPE, fired my interest in Lutie's birthplace, the tiny town north of Dallas, Texas called Bells. You can find it on the web at www.bellstexas.com. I recommend visiting the history page if you are into old photos and interesting stories of the Old West.
What began as a quest to learn more about the woman who left this earth at the early age of twenty-eight, has led me to a wealth of family history that now feeds my stories. I started with nothing but a handful of photographs, faces with few names, passed to me by my aunt.
Lutie was the beauty of the family, the oldest of three girls, I have yet to discover how her husband, a native of Henry County Tennessee, came to be in Texas, but they were married in 1902 by the same preacher who married her mother and father. Two years later, they moved to Georgia, then from there to Alabama. The birth of each child, entered in the family bible by my great grandfather, documents the family's path from town to town. My great grandfather's impeccable script never faltered until he had to record Lutie's death Christmas Eve 1912. There is a hastily scratched out entry before the accurate date was recorded. For me, a hopeless romantic, his simple error tells a story. I'm sure theirs was a love match. You can find pictures of Lutie on my bio page at www.lorellemarinello.com/bio.php. The couple pictured third from the top was taken about the time of my great grandparents wedding.
Though Grandparents Day has already passed this month, I'd like to encourage you all to remember your grandparents. So much of who we are comes from them.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
When makes a historical a historical?I don't read historicals very much even though I write them. There are a number of reasons I just drafted and deleted because they made me sound both impossibly snotty and impossibly insecure, and I do have to work on being nice anyway. So I'll say instead that when I read a historical I want to be taken to another place: I want atmosphere, which is not the same as being inundated with historical details, however accurate. I want the strangeness of different rules and morality and circumstances juxtaposed with emotions and desires that I can recognize.
Here are some of the factors I think makes a good historical a good historical:
Sounds, smells, textures. The way fabric flows, how it looks by candlelight or gaslight, the sound it makes. How surfaces--mud, frozen dirt, the straw-covered floor of a carriage, wooden floors--feel through leather boots, dancing slippers, or bare feet. The heat of a fire and the cold air on the other side of the room.
Speech. I'm not a major stickler for correct speech. Or am I? There are zillions of sources for Regency-speak, Jane Austen for starters. I don't believe you have to never, ever, ever contract a word; I'm not an expert by any means but if you read colloquial material you'll see people did say "didn't" instead of "did not," for instance. I don't quite know how I'd handle medieval-speak, but I do know that tossing in the occasional "mayhap" or "perchance" just doesn't cut it for me.
Terms of address. I'll throw a book at the wall if the butler addresses the master of the house as Bob, or vice versa. One of the things I love about the Regency is that it was a time of change in manners and intimacy, and that, for instance (gasp shock horror), married couples were actually beginning to use first names to each other. But not always. How better to express amorous discord than with excessive formality? It's a gift, I tell you.
An attempt at historical accuracy. No lace panties in the Regency, please, and whatever the covers show, no polyester gowns or men's shirts that button all the way down. I should point out that my copyeditor for The Rules of Gentility (on sale now, oh shut up, Janet) alerted me to the fact that I had used hansom cab every time I meant hackney carriage. I also discovered too late that my prices were grossly inflated, by about five times. Oops.
All that said, there are writers who because of the truth and passion of what they have to say can include the most egregious anachronisms and inaccuracies, and it doesn't matter.
What do you think?
The ladies of the Risky Regencies blog invite you to a week of Regency fun, celebrations and prizes, September 16-22. Grand Prize is a $25 Amazon gift certificate. http://riskyregencies.blogspot.com.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Rain and bicyclesIn this month's Wet Noodle Posse e-zine, Theresa Ragan has an article on riding bicycles for exercise and weight loss. My husband and I often enjoy a bicycle ride through our neighborhood and surrounding areas. I also play tennis at least two times a week, and since the tennis courts are only about a mile from our house, I usually ride my bike. I also ride my bike to my Wednesday morning Bible study. I figure it gives me exercise and helps the environment, because I'm not using gas to drive my car.
The biggest problem in riding my bike to events is the sudden shower that often pops up in Florida. The other day I rode to the tennis courts, and we got in a warm-up and about six games before I big black cloud appeared on the horizon and a few bolts of lightning streaked across the sky. The lightning was definitely a signal to stop playing. I had several offers to give me a ride home, but I was sure I could travel the distance home before the rain started. I peddled faster than I normally do, and in record time, reached the traffic light that was thankfully green when I got there. As I started up the one and only hill between the tennis courts and our house, if you can even call it a hill, I felt a few raindrops, but they were few and far between. I peddled faster and made it home just as it started to pour.
When I parked my bike in the garage, I noticed that my car was gone. Then I remembered that my husband had taken my car to pick up his bike, which was in the shop for repair. I have a convertible, and he intended to put the bike in the backseat to bring it home. My only thought was surely he was smart enough not to start home with that big black cloud hanging overhead. I was home about half an hour when I heard the garage door going up. It was still pouring outside. You can imagine my horror when I opened the door and saw my husband soaked to the skin, and the top of my almost new convertible down and a bicycle sitting in the backseat. I just couldn't believe he wouldn't have pulled over and put the top up. He told me there was no place to pull over, so there was no arguing with him. We grabbed a dozen towels and began wiping the water from every inch of my car--leather seats, carpet, dash, visors, and cup holders that now held a couple of inches of water. We got hair dryers and started to blow-dry the carpet. This was not the way I had intended to spend my evening. We tripped the circuit breaker and had to plug in one of the hair dryers inside the house, rather than the garage, in order to use two at the same time. When we went to bed that night, the car was fairly dry.
The next morning I put my car in the driveway with the top sticking straight up in the air so that the sun could help dry out the car a little more. I'm just hoping down the road I don't have a car that smells like mildew.
From now on I think I'll make my husband check with me before he can use my car as a truck for hauling his stuff. He had mentioned at one time that he had considered riding the bike home from the bicycle shop. I should have let him. That would have been good exercise and saved the environment, not only the gas, but the energy it cost to wash all those towels and use those blow dryers.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Word of mouthby Charity Tahmaseb
Even in the world of relentless, online promotion, I always had the sneaking suspicion that word of mouth still sold books. I don’t blame authors for trying anything they can, because getting the word (of word of mouth) out there can’t be easy. As someone hoping to publish someday, I pay close attention to what I think might work and what might not (emphasis on might).
We’ve all seen blog tours where the hostess hasn’t read the book. I’m probably not the only one who has received an author newsletter I never signed up for.
What gets my interest online, about books? An intriguing title in a blogger’s To-Be-Read list. I read Naked in Baghdad because it was on Noodler’s Colleen Gleason’s TBR list. A recent review by a blogger I read on a regular basis had me requesting The Thirteenth Tale from the library. In the end, it’s not the flash or promises of prizes. It has more to do with trust than trinkets.
The other day, I had my own close encounter with word of mouth. Now, I’m a low-key kind of blogger. I don’t sweat my Technorati rating or obsess over my stats. Not too long ago, I’d received a nice email from a gentleman who discovered my Blogging Airborne series via a Google search. (He was searching on the I-Bar at Fort Benning, GA. The infamous I-Bar, the one with the strippers. He didn’t elaborate. I didn’t ask him to.)
I thought nothing of it until I glanced at my stats the next day and saw a spike--and that’s putting it mildly. Normally my stats resemble a graphical representation of the Great Plains. What I saw that day was serious Himalayan action.
That nice gentleman apparently emailed the link to the series to all his friends. He also, apparently, has a lot of friends. People from all over were reading my blog.
After a week of frenzied activity, some nice emails and comments, things calmed down. I still get Blogging Airborne hits, a few Google searches on the I-Bar and strippers. (Please, people, I am so not an expert--I never even got through the door.)
The whole incident made me think. All it took was connecting with one person. And sure, those seem like needle-in-the-haystack kind of odds. But it can happen. And when it does, it’s magical.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Squirreling awayThe other day I was looking for something fun to take to a family barbecue, and I remembered Lee's recipe for grilled marinated prawns. There it was, waiting for me in the Wet Noodle Posse's recipe archives.
This afternoon I'll browse through the archives' "warm soups for a cold winter" list. When brittle red leaves begin to drift to the ground beneath my maple tree, I find myself in a warm-and-fuzzy, pumpkin-hued mood, and a bowl of steaming soup seems just the ticket for cooling evenings.
Now that fall is ripening and the holidays are rapidly approaching, I'm delighted I can turn to the Wet Noodle Posse archives for inspiration. There are craft ideas for Halloween, and recipes for Thanksgiving, and decorations for Christmas. There's plenty of good stuff squirreled away there!
What do you look forward to at this time of year? What are some of your favorite fall foods and traditions?
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Happy New Year!by Lee McKenzie
Ever since I was a kid in school, I’ve loved September. By the end of August the days were getting shorter and summer vacation was starting to feel as though it had gone on long enough. My mom would take me shopping for new shoes, back-to-school clothes and school supplies, and I looked forward to finding out which classroom I’d be in and who my teacher would be. Everything had an exciting newness to it. Even the crisp morning air in early September felt fresh compared to the stale heat of summer.
All these years later, nothing much has changed. My kids are in college and my husband is a high school teacher, so the beginning of September is still back-to-school time. After a hectic summer vacation, I was happy to see everyone pack their schoolbags and head out the door. Now, after the first week of school, we’re gradually getting back to a normal routine.
There’s even a fresh newness to having the house to myself all day. The writer in me craves peace and quiet, and I finally have it again. So the real New Year might not start until January 1, but mine already has.
PS: The other great thing about this time of year is the end of TV reruns! The new season of my favorite shows . . . Men in Trees, Grey’s Anatomy, Brothers and Sisters, The Office . . . will be soon be starting. What are your favorites?
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Happy Birthday To Me!!!I chose the fifth of each month to blog, because the fifth is my birthday (and five is my lucky number) yet in all the frivolity of arriving at work and finding a birthday cake on my desk, and later finding a bag of chocolate on my desk, and later than that, being called out to the front desk so the staff could sing the birthday song to me...
I forgot about blogging.
Take a second to think about the best birthday you ever had. Now get out your calendar, turn to your birthday, and write yourself a reminder to do it again!
You have my permission. It's my birthday gift to you.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Creativity in its many formsWhile I could be considered an artist because I'm a writer, it's always been the artists and craftspeople who make things -- paintings, carvings, sculptures, blown glass, etc. -- who feel like real artists to me. Perhaps it's because I don't have their kind of talent. It's possible they might feel about me and other writers how I feel about them.
I've been fortunate to meet a lot of these artists and craftspeople throughout the years, mainly when I was a writer and editor for a statewide feature magazine. We featured such a person in almost every monthly issue. I've watched glass being blown, a chainsaw artist at work, women making wonderful fabrics on looms, potters creating stunning pottery. Guild-worthy crafts are a big thing in the South, so there are several shows where you can go and see booth after booth of fantastic creativity. One craftswoman who you might see and who I was fortunate enough to interview several years ago was Anne Freels, who makes the most incredible corn-shuck dolls. These aren't the type of simple corn-shuck dolls you might have seen made at a harvest festival. Anne's are intricate, vibrant, stunningly beautiful.
When we expanded our monthly crafts feature here at the e-zine to include craftspeople as well as how-to articles, I immediately thought of Anne and wanted to revisit her world of corn-shuck doll making. If you visit the newest issue of the e-zine, you'll get to read all about Anne, her fabulous dolls, and where you can get one of your very own -- even customized.
How about you? Are you a craftsman? If so, what do you make? If not, who are some of the best craftspeople whose work you've admired?