Wednesday, March 30, 2011

End of march--evaluating life

Is it just me, or is this year TOTALLY flying by? I mean, last I checked, 2011 just started. Now we're entering the second quarter. The time period provides me a good opportunity to evaluate where I am.

I've officially been self-employed for 6 months now. Crazy. Six months of no longer working for "the man." Six months of flexible scheduling, working in my jammie pants, wearing house slippers outside way more than a normal person would. Also, six months of sweating and stressing over income, health insurance, balancing work and life and things.

Overall? It's been awesome. I work more now than I did back when I had a day job. I also was a lot less happy because I hated the work, I hated "the man," I hated the corporate philosophy and lack of caring/respect for the workers. Now I get to read manuscripts for Carina Press, acquiring and editing ones I fall in love with. I get to teach English composition to college students. I get to write (though honestly I haven't made as much time for it as I should). I also get to freelance edit manuscripts and help authors whip their stories into shape. Things aren't perfect of course, but I have to say, I totally dig my life.

What decisions have you made lately? How's it working for you--are you happy you took the chance?

Monday, March 28, 2011

calling in sick

There once was a girl named Mel
And today she doesn't feel so swell
It was her turn to blog
and to avoid being flogged
She posted quickly then bailed.

Sorry gang. Will try to be better next time.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Princess for a month

So, I know that it's technically the Month of Mel, but I have to tell you...I've been a bit of a princess this month.
My debut novel, Falling Under, released on March 1st and I was so busy, I almost didn't celebrate...but my family had other ideas....

And then we had my official book launch party two weeks later. 

And I had a lovely time. Really. It was awesome. And then, I had a signing in Seattle. Except it wasn't a signing. It was a READING. Like out loud. In front of people. With a microphone. 

I didn't pass out, but it was a close thing. And I know now what to say when people ask me what's the best and worst thing about writing. 

Best= red velvet cupcakes with black roses and balloons and flowers and unexpected out of town guests who flew in just for your party (I'm looking at you Jeannie Lin).

Worst= reading out loud with a microphone.

Thankfully, I had two writing veterans in attendance that night, Courtney Milan and Richelle Mead, giving me advice and telling me I'd be fine. But still. Eep.

So, as my Princess status winds down, I just wanted to thank all my friends, family, and readers for making this such a special release for me. All of you make me happy. 

Oh! And I'm supposed to pick a winner from yesterday's blog:

Amanda Brice! Wait...that won't work....picking again.................

Alexis Salcido! Congrats! Please email Amanda at AmandaBrice at romancedivas dot com with you contact information. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Special Guest C.C. Hunter!

Today we welcome author C.C. Hunter to the Fictionistas blog. C.C. is the author of the upcoming YA paranormal Shadow Falls series that releases next week from St. Martin's. The first book in the series is "Born at Midnight." Some of you may know her by her real name, Christie Craig. As Christie, she writes humorous romantic suspense novels for Grand Central.

CC is here today to celebrate her YA debut and tell us a little bit about the series. Take it away, CC!


Why Ghosts?

In my book Born At Midnight, Kylie Galen has a problem. Well, actually she has a lot of problems. None of them are her fault, either. We writers do that to our characters sometimes . . .We overload them with issues. It’s not easy being a fictional character. On the other hand, it’s not easy coming up with all those issues for our characters to overcome, either.

But let’s face it, issues and problems are what make books and characters special. And Kylie is special and, like I said, she’s got her share of problems. As the book opens, one problem sticks out more than the others--she’s acquired a stalker.

Not just any stalker, either. He’s a very odd man wearing army garb. He just stands there and stares at her, all spooky like.

She didn’t think things could get any crazier, but she’s wrong. When she finally points out this freaky stalker to her mom, Kylie’s life goes to hell in a handbasket. You see, her mom can’t see the stalker. Kylie is certain her mom has lost it. Ahh, but Kylie’s wrong again.

Kylie doesn’t know it yet, but she’s seeing ghosts. When I first started plotting Born At Midnight, I knew I’d have vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves, witches, and faes, but I wasn’t about to let an opportunity go by without adding ghosts.

Why ghosts? Basically, I’m a big fan of ghosts and ghost stories. I like the stories that make my skin turn ultra sensitive--stories that when I’m reading them and hear a creaky floorboard or a whisper, I practically jump out of that ultra sensitive skin. You see, to me, ghosts are scarier than vampires and werewolves. My reasoning is simple. I believe in ghosts. Seen one actually, but I’ve yet to run across a vampire or bump elbows with a werewolf.

Now about that ghost. I was young and my mom and dad assured me I’d been dreaming, but I didn’t buy it then, and I’m not completely buying it now.

I’d just turned ten, and I woke up one night to find my great grandmother hovering over me—again. At eighty plus years, she was hunched over a bit and therefore she always gave off the impression of hovering over you. Granted, she was the hovering type, and never seemed to mind telling you what she liked or didn’t like about how the world had come to be. But that night, the experience was different.

You see, she’d been dead for about a week. And when I say hovering, I mean floating. She was wearing a long white gossamer gown, lots of fabric that almost appeared to be several layers of wraithlike material, and it flowed around her so much it looked as if she didn’t have any feet. She said she just wanted to let me know she was okay. And yeah, being young, I had been a bit worried about the whole death thing. Then she told me that someday I’d have to give up the rags I called clothes (she hated the new fashions we young girls wore) and I’d be wearing a gown just like hers.

Yes, it scared me. Mainly because I really didn’t want to give up my clothes, and as pretty as her gown was, I didn’t think it was all that cool. Then there was the other fear. Granny was dead, so how could she be hovering over my bed? But in spite of the fear, seeing her also fascinated me. And ever since, I’ve longed to write a ghost story. Born at Midnight just seemed like my opportunity.

So what about you guys? Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever felt that eerie feeling that someone from the other side is close by? Today, I’ll be giving away a copy of Born at Midnight to one lucky commenter, so make sure you leave a comment about your ghostly experiences.

Also make sure you snag my free short story, Turned At Dark. It’s Della’s story and it introduces the Shadow Falls series. You can read the first three chapters of Born at Midnight, too. All you have to do is visit my Born at Midnight page at Macmillan. Or you can download a free eBook copy of Turned at Dark at all major online retailers. The download also has the first three chapters of Born at Midnight on there as well. How cool is that?

Oh, and one final thing. To celebrate the release of Born at Midnight, I’m running a "Tweet my Book and Win a Kindle" contest through March 29th. The grand prize will be the Kindle but I’m also giving away copies of Born at Midnight, some Shadow Falls swag and ARCs of Awake at Dawn, which is scheduled to release in October. All the details are at my blog. So, please drop by and help me tweet my book and you could win a Kindle!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Help support the relief effort in Japan!

Jeannie Lin, author of "Butterfly Swords," just released a short story set in Japan. Not only is she enormously talented, but she's also incredibly generous, and she's donating her author proceeds from sales of the story to the Red Cross to aid in the relief effort after the recent earthquakes and tsunami.

Here's the blurb:

"A chance encounter brings a hint of romance to a young woman’s journey through the streets of Tokyo. This semi-autobiographical short story explores questions of identity and connectedness in the digital age."

Jeannie was able to release this short story in a timely manner with a little help from her friends. Author Jax Cassidy, founder of the award-winning Romance Divas forum and owner of Jaxadora Designs, did the absoulutely stunning cover art. And our very own Rhonda Stapleton edited.

You can get your own copy for just 99 cents on Kindle or Smashwords. Please consider supporting this worthy cause.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What’s Your Process?


I was at a get-together this past week and was introduced as “an author.”  This would normally be cool, but… well… it was one of THOSE gatherings. 

You know… pretentious, awful, snooty people who will show up to the opening of an envelope if there are free drinks.

A woman who had “I read the arts section of the Globe and take notes for just such occasions” written all over her looked along her nose, got me in her sights, and fired.

“Oh? What’s your process?  I find it all so fa-ha-scin-ating.”

“Erm,” I replied, in a dazzling display of wit.  Stay with me, I followed up. “I basically just stare at the screen until something happens.  With fantasy, which I’ll be working on after a current project, I do a bit of outlining and world-building. But basically, just the staring thing.”

Dude, it was like I farted and blamed her mum.

But it was the truth.  One of the reasons I put my coming-soon-I-swear YA fantasy aside more than once?  I can’t stop world-building once I start.  I have several years of procrastination racked up in what was largely  loads and loads of hours creating the world for that book.  I know it like my home town.

Contrarily, when I write something in a world already built by the forces in the sky, I am almost a total pantster.  I talk about it a little, jot down scraps of things I want to remember, but just sit at my computer and write.  I brainstorm before starting—but once I start, I don’t want to stop.  I even ignore anyone who wants to talk about it.  Writers often assume fellow writers want advice… I ask for advice when I want it, and then run away from any opinions.  Because once I start, the brainstorm is already in progress, and nothing is going to stop it. Stories happen as I type, wads of paper, or weenie notebooks with snippets scattered around me.  Also candy wrappers.

What?  It’s my process.  Isn’t that fa-ha-scin-ating?

Yeah, yeah, everyone’s a critic.  BTW, was that YOU?  You gotta get that checked.  And pass the Glade.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I'm chicken

I have a hair appointment today - just having the usual done, trim and highlights touched up. But therein lies the "problem" as it were. It's more of the same old, same old. Yes, I've done some out of the box stuff like red and purple streaks, but the hair I think about all the time, the cut that I just can't bring myself to get, is this:

Two things always stop me.

1. It would be the shortest cut I've ever had.
2. What if it looks ridiculous on me?

I know it's hair and hair grows back, but I've got a bunch of conferences coming up and I don't want to go to them looking like a giant mistake from the neck up. (Or looking so different from my author photo - see below - that no one knows it's me.)

Still, I think about how much easier/faster this hair would be than the amount currently on my head. I've ever begun growing out my bangs...just in case.

What do you think? Would you do it? Do you think that cut would look okay on me?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Authors for Japan auction

I'm sure you've heard by now of the disaster that's hit Japan. It's a tragedy--not only are they dealing with the aftermath of a massive earthquake and tsunami, but their nuclear reactors are breaking down.

One of the thing I love about being a writer is the sense of community, the way writers come together to help those in need. And this tragedy in Japan is no exception. Authors are offering signed books, manuscript critiques, mentorship, workshops and more to aid the effort in helping Japan get back on its feet.

Please consider bidding on auction items. You can read details here: Anything you can do to help will be gratefully appreciated, I'm sure!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

Sorry. Today's post is all about me. And pie. Because it's my birthday. And I'm scheduling this to post because I will be sleeping in this morning and really have very little plans to be involved with the internet at all....

So Happy Birthday to Me. Y'all have a piece of Pie in my honor...because it is 3.14 today... Pi day!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Random thoughts

This is just a random collection of thoughts, as I post-and-run here at work:

1) In honor of her 4th anniversary as a Publishers Weekly blogger, Barbara Vey is throwing herself one heckuva party at the Beyond Her Book blog. Each day several e-readers and books will be given away to lucky commenters. So go forth and comment!

2) It's Read an E-Book Week, so head on over to Smashwords for many heavily discounted or free titles.

3) Is there a 12-Step program for Groupon addiction?

4) Some people seem to forget that public internet forums are not actually private. And some authors seem to forget that potential readers can be found anywhere.

So when a so-called "literary romance" novelist trashes romance novels and calls them the "literary equivalent of Big Macs" and spends hours implying over and over again that people who genuinely enjoy the promise of a HEA are somehow brainless twits deserving of her scorn, I just have to say thank you.

I do love romance, but I also read broadly. Non-fiction, literary fiction, classics, mystery, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, children's board books, and oh yes, those dreaded kissing books. I happened to have perused her blurbs previously, and thought they'd actually looked good, but her constant attacks on my intelligence have saved me from spending in excess of $12 per paperback. My wallet thanks me.

5) I have 9 prepaid massages coming to me, but only 6 weeks to use them before they expire. What to do? What to do?

What's your randomness for today?

Monday, March 07, 2011

It’s Read an Ebook Week!

kindleThis week is “Read an Ebook Week.”  I am happy to participate.  So far I have plowed through Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch, Falling Under by Gwen Hayes (OMG so good!), and What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long. I am working my way through A Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss at the moment.

For those of us who lust over romances, Amazon is having a buy-3-get-one-free sale.  The link they sent me is here:

Click for Amazon Bargain


Remember, too, that downloading the app to read on either your phone, tablet, or PC is free at Amazon!

One of the things I have started to do since I became Kindle-obsessed?  Giving ebooks as a gift.  All you need is an email address and you can simply select “Give as a Gift” on the book’s page.  I love this idea!  And the links to download the free software/apps are right there on the page.

Happy Ebook Reading Week!!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Are you a reader?

I read pretty voraciously when I'm not writing one of my own books. (It's so hard for me to get my characters out of my head when I'm writing that trying to read something else is almost impossible.) There is always a book on my nightstand, more often two or three, plus whatever's on my Kindle. Then there are the magazines scattered throughout the house, usually folded back to the last article I was looking at.

I've always been a reader. One of my earliest memories is winning a blue ribbon in kindergarten for reading the most books. My parents read, my brother reads...books have always been a part of my life.

So here are my non-scientific questions for you:

Have you always been a reader?
If no, when did you start actively reading for pleasure?
If yes, does the rest of your family read?
Where does your love of reading come from?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Did you guys know our very own Fictionista Gwen Hayes had a book release yesterday? It's called Falling Under, and it's an amazing paranormal YA love story--I was lucky to read it in draft form, and it has lingered with me since. The story is lush and beautiful, and I couldn't put it down.

Gwen is an inspiration to me and all her friends. She's worked hard at writing, improving her craft, making connections, and persevering even when things were rough. And now she has her book out, and we couldn't be prouder of her. I know it's going to be a big's a luxurious read, and I am getting my own copy today from the bookstore. YAY!

It's available all over the place online and in bookstore, so go get a copy--I promise you'll love it! Here's a teasing blurb:

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she's seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams. 

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear. 

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia's not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.