Monday, December 31, 2012

Kari's Kave: Happy New Year's Eve



Happy New Year's Eve...

Tonight is such a special night. The time to reflect on all the things, both good and bad, that have happened in 2012. Time to make a choice that if you don't like the way things are going, maybe it's time to do something about it. Take charge of life. Make a plan. Decide things are going to be different.

Make a choice...

Set goals for yourself. Start fresh.

I have to say I have been so lucky in life. I have a sweet, funny, caring husband. Yes, he's human, and yes, he drives me nuts many times. But when I truly reflect on the good and bad within us all, I have to admit he's pretty damn good :-)

My husband is one of 4 children...2 boys and 2 girls. Yet when he and his brother had children, the genes were split right down the middle. We have 3 boys and 1 girl, while his brother has 3 girls and 1 boy. They are all beautiful, healthy, well-adjusted children. Mine are the 4 on the left, and my husband's brother's are the 4 on the right. They make me smile every day.

But WOW does time fly by.

I can't get over just how quickly life really is. Way too quick to take for granted. So I repeat, this is the time to go after your dreams. What do you truly want out of life. And more importantly, what's stopping you from going after it. Maybe 2013 will be the magical year that all your dreams come true.

Here's to a healthy, prosperous and happy new year in 2013!

Cheers!!!

So tell me, what are your goals for 2013?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- Special Gifts


This holiday is one that I will always hold dear. We rented a lovely house in Vermont for a full week. My husband and I are here the entire time, heading home on Saturday. One daughter and her husband, our other daughter and her boyfriend, my sister and her husband all joined us with different schedules. We took a day trip and visited my parents about two hours away. Now, my husband and I are alone and snuggled in with a large snow storm blowing outside, a fire in the fireplace, hot cider with mulling spices on the stove and a stack of books begging to be opened.

The days with family have been a riot. We argued about how to spell “lieu” during a game of Bananagrams (of course the iPads were whipped out to call up the Scrabble dictionary). My sister had puzzle pieces stuck on her forearm when we were working on a jig saw puzzle and we accused her of cheating. We forgot to set the kitchen timer and my bread was a tad burned (still tasted good). One car became stuck on a patch of ice in the drive so six of us crammed into another car (illegally) to head out for shopping. We showed old family movies and roared with laughter at how I had dressed my daughters when they were little (what was I thinking?). All of this was pretty darn idyllic.

My special gifts certainly include this family time. It happens too infrequently. Importantly they also include the acknowledgment from others that our family moments need to be protected and preserved. My husband and I have a long standing tradition that pops up on an irregular but consistent basis. This year was no exception. He plans a trip for just the two of us. It’s always a surprise and usually includes a beach. One year he packaged a box of sand and I had to figure out what that meant. This year I unwrapped a bathing suit.

My daughters, who are 30 and 27 years old, gave me a fantastic joint gift that will never be discarded. It’s one that can’t be topped. They took a large format calendar, the type that has a big page for each month. Each girl marked the days she was free throughout all twelve months. These are the days available to be possible “Mom Visit Days.” What can be better than that?

It has been a year of a number of challenges. To have it end on a high note such as this makes my heart sing. And you? What are the special moments you’ve had over the year that will stay in your special memory bank?

I wish each of you a healthy and joyous new year. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kari's Kave: Coocoo for Christmas!

Christmas is such a special time of year. Having fun with the family and taking time to enjoy those special people in your life.

Last year we did a crazy Christmas sweater theme. This year we decided to go with a Christmas pajamma theme.








Of course my family had to still include the "crazy" part. Since my guys sleep in boxers, they decided on funny Christmas boxers. I can't stop laughing every time I look at these pictures. They were hilarious!

 My hubby and his boys took the prize!

My oldest son is headed off to college in 8 months! As crazy as life is, I don't want it to change. I am so proud of him and so excited for him, but man, am I gonna miss him.

It just reminds me of how quickly life flies by.
 Then there's my darling diva!

A little mini me in every sense of the word :-)

She's only 10 but looks and acts soooooo much older.

At least there are 4 years between the boys and her. I can't imagine what life will be like when she is gone, too.

Actually, I am excited to travel and go on actual dates with my hubby again. But I know we will miss them so much. They better be prepared because we will be visiting often.

So during this holiday season, take the time and really look around you. Look at all of the blessings you have in your life.

Then make sure you tell them how much they  mean to you. So many sad things have happened around the world lately. Now more than ever is the time to appreciate how lucky so many of us are.






If you have love, health and happiness....






Then you have everything!




Oh, and spending the holidays with family is priceless! My sister's family joined in the fun...



My brother's family did as well...



And all the kids were thrilled to spend time with their cousins.

So tell me, what do you do to make the holidays fun and special?

Merry minds want to know :-)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Liz's Lair: Merry Christmas

Hopefully, no one is reading this blog today, and everyone is enjoying time with their families as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I decided to post a recipe from MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT just in case anyone drops by.



Sinfully Sweet Chocolate Kahlua Brownies


3/4 cup cocoa, unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup melted butter, divided
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, combine the cocoa and baking soda. Blend in 1/3 cup of melted butter. Add boiling water and Kahlua and stir until well blended. Stir in sugar, beaten eggs, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup of butter, then the flour and salt. Add the nuts and chocolate chips and pour the batter into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until chocolate brownies are firm and begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool before cutting into squares.

Enjoy. Have a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cassy's Corner- The Power of Words

Before I begin, I'd like to thank each of you for your patience with my absence. I've had some personal and family concerns to be managed. My more than wonderful friends who share this blog have generously covered for me. Today I offer an encore post from 2010 with some modifications to make it current. I wish for each of you a peaceful and loving holiday full of grace and hope.

My daughter sent me a posting from one of her fellow medical students. This was a few years ago; she is now a resident, but the sentiment still holds. It had me thinking. The blog post had to do with how he (the doctor colleague) was learning about power- the power of a diagnosis, the power of a prescription, the power of trust that comes from patients putting their lives in someone else's hands. But, the turning point of his post comes when he describes a phone call. A simple phone call in which he receives a request by one of his patients. The man is dying of cancer. A fact the doctor knows well. What the doctor didn't know was that the man's son had just been deployed to Afghanistan. The man had phoned to ask if there was anything the doctor could do. With a few carefully crafted words, family leave was granted and the son flew to the west coast to be with his father.

The doctor writing this post is young. a year or so older than my own daughter- possibly younger than the soldier. By the words he chose to describe the story, he was overwhelmed with his personal ability to create change for this one family.

We have the same strength. Our words can scare, set off tears, evoke love and hope, wrap those near up in blankets of security. They are our tools as well as our weapons. It is how we choose to use them that counts.

I am again and again struck by how rich it feels to put a book down that has totally engrossed me. How much I love to think about the characters who have shared my evening. How much they actually do create a change in my mood or my thoughts. Powerful stuff.

We do that every day. We race our fingers across the keyboard or across the printed page allowing stories to jump out about values, dreams, hopes and danger. We save people and we kill off many. But, our messages are usually the same- individuals do make a difference. The small single person can roar like a lion. We are, each of us, truly important.

May your holiday be the special one you wish for and deserve. Do not stop roaring.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Kari's Kave: Samantha Darling is coming to town

Ho ho ho!

Hi, everyone. It's Samantha Darling here. It's almost time for my favorite holiday of the year.

Christmas!

Just 6 more days left. I am so excited. You see this is the year to put the star on the top of my parents tree. I really don't want to miss it. It's tradition.

Last year my ex-finace cheated on me and then ran off with the hussy because, frankly, I am way too nice. Well, not anymore. I paid him back all right. Except I had one too many all powerful peppermintinis first.

Not a good idea!

After rattling off the name to the wrong store, I ended up at Snow's Antiques instead of Stowe's Boutiques. If you could have seen what I did to the storefront window. Let's just say Nathan was NOT amused. And I was in big trouble.

Now I have to come up with a winning window display by Christmas eve, or he won't let  me go home. He'll press charges and the only place I'll be going to is jail.

Guess what happens?

You'll have to read the book to find out :-)  Click here

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Barbie's Bunkhouse: My How Time Flies!!!

Yes, I'm late today. And for good reason. Yesterday I got kicked in the butt by a head cold. Yup, out of the blue, sore throat, stuffy nose, head feels like Paul Bunyon AND his big blue ox are standing on it. I'm currently drugged up on Dayquil, and anxiously awaiting Nyquil. The day job is a sluggish blur right now. They are lucky I'm even here.

It suddenly dawned on me that there is exactly 1 week until Christmas. We are ready in my house, and this is my favorite holiday. The thought of being sick with a head cold is really ticking me off, so I'm doing everything in my power to send it on its way. I can't wait to entertain family & friends, watch the kids open gifts, and rejoice in the love of the season.

But after Christmas is New Years!!! 2013 is around the corner!!!! I'm not ready!!!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed a couple deals come through before the stroke of midnight on 12/31. I've been patient, I've been busy, and I've tried not to think about it. But the suspense is KILLING ME!!! yes, no, revise, hang it up..... just don't leave me hanging anymore people!!!!!! I've got projects to complete and many, many, many, MANY more ideas in this fun-loving-perky brain!!

So if anyone is out there listening:

I WILL DO WHATEVER YOU ASK OF ME!!!!!! JUST SIGN ME!!!!!!!!

I've kind of got that feeling of being a little kid waiting for Santa. so while I wait, and hope another year doesn't have to fly by...I will keep plugging away at my really awesome ideas :-)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Liz's Lair: Fantasy Romance Author Michelle Miles is in the House



 Please welcome my friend and fellow Plotting Princess, Michelle Miles, who's here today to talk about her newest release. She wants to know what you all like to read in a blog--personal stuff or info about the books. One lucky commenter will receive a download of ONLY FOR A KNIGHT. And Michelle's a whiz with computer stuff, too. She designed my header for my Author Page on FaceBook.


Stop the blog, I want to get off…Maybe
By Michelle Miles

This month is the release of my fantasy romance, ONLY FOR A KNIGHT. I started booking blog posts in late October and before I knew it I had, um, a lot of posts to write. I tried to come up with a new, special, awesome topic for each one but my brain just didn’t want to cooperate. In fact, my brain doesn’t want to cooperate a lot of the time.

I thought I’d write a blog post about, well, blogging. My own personal blog has been going since April 2005. And really, that started when I went to WordPress and self-hosted my blog (and now my website is run through WP, too). Before that I used Blogger for about a year and had a fun blog but ended up deleting the whole thing.

I mean – DANG! That’s a long ass time. What the hell could I possibly have to talk about? I used to blog every single day. Then got it down to only weekdays. Now I just kinda do it whenever.

I love WordPress, though. It’s so easy to use and so user-friendly. I will tell everyone I know they should be using WP for their blog/website. In fact, I helped a couple of writer friends converting over to WP. It’s such a wonderfully stable platform. I never have problems with it. It never goes down. It’s not stupid like Blogger. *cough* Was that out loud?

Anyway, I can’t imagine what I would have written about for YEARS on end on my blog. And I really don’t want to go back and read them all. It’s not like I have anything profound to say. Mostly it’s just a bunch of yammering. Though I did blog through difficult times—divorce, death of my favorite cat—and happy times—getting married again, going on vacations. I wonder how many readers out there really care about the personal side of an author, though.

So here’s my question for you, readers. Do you like to get a peek into the life of your favorite author? Or would you prefer to read posts related to their latest work in progress/release? Inquiring minds (mine) want to know!

Michelle Miles is published in contemporary, paranormal and fantasy romance with Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. You can find out more about her and her latest book, Only For a Knight, at her website, following her on Twitter or liking her on Facebook.

Official Blurb:

After saving her love, Princess Elyne returns to the Otherworld by order of her mother. But it’s not the homecoming she expects. Furious Elyne has meddled with humans the queen imprisons her and strips away her magic. The only way Elyne can get it back is to perform one selfless act.

When Queen Maeve sends Derron to find the Guardian of the Sword of Light, he can’t leave without releasing Elyne. After all, she altered time to save his life. But freeing the princess comes with a steep price—he must take her with him on this dangerous quest. And the two must deal with feelings of past hurt and the love growing between them.

Their search becomes more than a pursuit for the missing Guardian as Lord Kieran rises to dominate the Unseelie court. He will stop at nothing to gain control of both the Otherworld and the human realm. Even with the help of Elves, dragons and their human friends, the odds are stacked against Derron and Elyne.

Where to Purchase:


Social Media:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cassy's Corner: The Most Special Gift


Since Cassy is still unable to post, I am reprinting one of her posts from last year. In light of Monday's blog on making Christmas less commercial, this one is really relevant. Enjoy.

It’s now four days after Christmas and I’m still fighting tears. As I have mentioned before, this was the first Christmas in 30 years of marriage that my husband and I had alone. Alone- what a miss choice of words.

Together. Just without kids, parents, friends or others. Just us, well and two Golden Retrievers.

The tears I mention have nothing to do with our solitude. No. They have to do with a  most special gift I received. I will tell you about it.

My family sent us wonderful personal presents. I have delightful cards my father designs and my mother mass produces. I am a card person (should you want to know) so these are doubly special. One daughter sent us a unique salt rock slab- huge like a platter- for grilling foods along with books about how to do it. As you have probably learned, we are rather serious about our cooking. Our other daughter has kids to care for.

These are children hospitalized with serious and often tragic conditions. She took the money that she would have spent on gifts for us and went crazy at Target. Christmas Eve she played Santa and HO-HO’d the halls of the hospital where she is a doctor.

My heart twisted with all that arrived both at our home and through the images of others. Yet, my tears came with another present. I wrapped more cookbooks, books on travel, books on more  interesting topics than you can imagine. My dear husband has many months of reading ahead of him. Plus, there are a few I snuck in for myself. No, those weren’t the ones that caught me in surprise. I’d bought those. A bit of a theme here for our family.

After opening the new pajamas with dogs all over, the earrings I have worn since Christmas, the books on writing—I was handed the special gift. In September we spent a month at our house in Italy. My husband had insisted we renew our wedding vows, this was for the second time. I’ve married this guy three times. He is the romantic of this duo.

I didn’t know that he had chronicled the month at the extent he had. He was taking pictures, sure, but not as I had understood.

I opened a beautiful package wrapped in silver paper. Inside was a book. A true book. Not spiral bound. Not from Kinkos. A real book filled with color photographs that went on for nearly 50 pages. A book about our celebration, our friends, our time together.

So, four days after Christmas I am still holding my breath at moments. I love the trinkets; I confess I do. But, I would trade them all in for one copy of this book.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Challenge

The Next Big Thing continues....

I was invited by Victoria Hamilton to take part in The Next Big Thing challenge. Victoria writes THE VINTAGE KITCHEN MYSTERIES with book one being called A DEADLY GRIND. You can find Vicky at her website http://www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com 



Now it's my turn. What you do is answer the following questions, then tag 5 other authors to keep the blog rolling.

What is your working title of your book?
Right now I am working on the fourth book in the FORTUNE TELLER MYSTERIES called PERIL IN THE PALM.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I love anything paranormal, especially fortune telling. So I thought about every kind of fortune-telling tool and came up with tea leaves for book one. A crystal ball for book two. Tarot cards for book three. And now I decided on palm reading for book four. I am having so much fun learning about the craft as I do my research.

What genre does your book fall under?
Cozy Mystery

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Wow, hmmmm.  Well, I love fun, quirky characters. I would say Katherine Heigl would be perfect for my heroine Sunny Meadows. Robert Downy Jr could be my dark brooding hero Detective Mitch Stone. And Jude Law could be my hunky flirty bartender Sean O'Malley. Sigh....

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Sparks fly as a fun, quirky, big city psychic fortune teller moves to a small upstate NY town and helps the local police solve crimes as a consultant, much to the displeasure of the dark, brooding, cynical detective.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The publisher of the series is Berkley Prime Crime, part of the Penguin Group. I am represented by Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
My books come out 9 months apart, so I spend about 4 months writing and then polish, polish, polish.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I've been told it's a bit like the Abby Cooper: Psychic Eye books, yet fun and quirky like Stephanie Plum. Hey, I'll take that. I love both those authors and their books.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Contracts, deadlines, kids needing money for college...LOL you name it! Not to mention, I just love anything paranormal.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Each book focuses on a different fortune-telling tool, so the reader really gets a feel for what that tool is like. And you will learning something new with every book.

If you want to check out my books, then head to my website at www.karileetownsend.com
Remember book 3 TROUBLE IN THE TAROT comes out March 5th, but you can pre-order it now.



We've been asked to link to five other authors, but writers are very busy. Here are a few fabulous ones to keep your eye on, and if they want to participate, that would be great. We'd love to learn more about them. If not, we all understand. Either way, check out their books.

Barbara Witek www.barbarawitek.com
Liz Lipperman www.lizlipperman.com
Joni Sauer-Folders http://www.amazon.com/Joni-Sauer-Folger/e/B00AHFOX7Y
Danielle LaBue http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-LaBue/e/B006VECI3G
Tiffinie Helmer www.tiffiniehelmer.com

Kari's Kave": 12/12/12 with 12 Days Left until Christmas Eve!

How cool is that?

I just realized it's 12 (December)

and 12 (the 12th day)

and 12 (the year 2012)

with...drumroll please...12 more days until Christmas Eve!

I love Christmas. Such a fun and exciting time of year. Fun because you get to spend time with your family and exciting because you wait all year to find out if Santa thinks you're naughty or nice :-)

I've been known to be naughty, but I promise, I am oh-so-nice!

So what's on your panic-because-there's-only-12-days-left-until-Christmas-Eve list?

Did you hang your decorations outside?                   CHECK
Did you put up your decorations inside?                  CHECK
Did you put up your tree and decorate it?                CHECK
Did you buy all your Christmas presents?                ALMOST
Did you wrap all your Christmas presents?              NOT EVEN CLOSE
Did you make your Christmas cookies?                   HAVEN'T EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT IT
Did you plan your meals?                                        OH, CRAP, HAVEN'T EVEN LOOKED
Did you buy your themed outfit?                              CHRISTMAS PJ'S READY TO WEAR! CHECK

The biggie....did you do any writing lately                GULP...NO :-(

New Year's Resolution                                            GET MY FANNY IN GEAR
                                                                                MAKE A SCHEDULE
                                                                                STAY ON TRACK

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. That's a whole other post :-)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Liz's Lair: All I Want For Christmas is...



A lot of things, mostly those that are in my dreams every night. I love Christmas and all the joy and happiness that goes with it.I can't believe it's almost here already. Where did the time go? I promised myself I would be at least a third of the way into the second book of my ghost series for Midnight Ink.

Nope! I have two chapters written, and I'm trying not to panic. (I hope Terry, my editor, isn't reading this.) But I'm not going to whine about that today. You’ll hear enough about "woe is me" in the coming months as the deadline draws near.

Today, I wanted to talk about how commercial Christmas has gotten over the years. I used to spend a small fortune on my kids and grandkids because a) I could. And b) I'm away from my family, and I'm all they have.

But the last few years of a bad economy have taken a toll, and we’ve had to tighten our belts. Although I'm putting out four new books next year, let's face it, the income from writing doesn't pay many bills – – at least not yet.

So this year I decided to really concentrate on the reason for the season. There will be no happy holidays for me. It's Christmas, dammit! Whether you believe or not, it’s been called that for too many years to try and change it now. Would those out there who think differently call Christina Holidaytina?

Geez! How did I get so off track?

Back to Christmas. I'm going to try to make it less commercial this year and suggest you do the same.

But before you tighten your budget, go to Amazon and pre-order MURDER FOR THET HALIBUT. (See how I slipped that shameless plug in?)  What can I say? A girl has to eat.

So tell me, what do you do to make Christmas less commercial?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cassy's Corner: Welcome Sci/Fi Writers



How to Celebrate the Holidays in Space

Celebrating the holidays is a very ancient tradition. The Romans celebrated Saturnalia, the festival of light, in late December and gave each other gifts. The Germanic peoples of Northern Europe celebrated Yule and burned the Yule log to welcome back the light. The ancient Slavic ritual of Koleda was a celebration of death and rebirth. And of course Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ.

I wonder if our ancestors could have imagined how we celebrate the holidays nowadays. A 100 foot high Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza, New York. Amazing lights strung across Regent Street in London. Millions of dollars spent on holidays gifts. People who spend hours decorating their homes and yards with hundreds of lights and decorations.

Can you imagine how we’ll celebrate hundreds or thousands of years into the future?

Wonder no more.





 In A GALACTIC HOLIDAY, you’ll see three different versions of future holidays:

In Stacy’s, HOW THE GLITCH SAVED CHRISTMAS, you’ll see Chicago of the future. There are body modifications (the hero, Edison, has some serious bod-mods and some serious sexiness), slick bikes that run on maglev tracks and very advanced androids.

You’ll also see a mysterious reverse Grinch who’s leaving “old-fashioned” Christmas trees and gifts in people’s homes. And you’ll see rival police detectives Edison and Reina rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.

In Sasha’s, GALILEO’S HOLIDAY, you’ll see the icy moon of Galileo. There are deep space tuggers, raider ships, a shield-protected station and scary cryptids.

You’ll see how the hardy colonists celebrate Holiday. They bake cookies, read ancient Holiday stories and know how to be thankful for all they have. You’ll see loner, Riley adapt to being part of a community and fall for the sexy, protective Leo.

In Anna’s, WINTER FUSION, you’ll see the distant ice world of Perma. There they have lingual implants, nanocoatings to stop ice melting, interstellar ships and fusion crystals.
You’ll also see how the Permans celebrate their important winter holiday of Yule. They drink mulled wine, burn an ice Yule log and welcome back the light after a long winter. You’ll see the hero, Savan—a man from a high-tech world with no families—collide with Brinn and see what the holidays and family are all about.
So come and join in our galactic holidays of the future!

A GALACTIC HOLIDAY – Carina Press | Amazon | B&N | All Romance

Anna HackettWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Stacy GailWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Sasha SummersWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads  

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kari's Kave: Social Media Made Easy!

Ask any author, we all know the importance of promoting ourselves. A pain in the butt, yes, but also a necessary evil.

There are not enough hours in the day to get everything we need to do...done. Writing so many pages a day. Checking and posting on facebook. Checking and tweeting on twitter. Blogging. Keeping our author pages and websites up to date. Keeping our bookcovers on pinterest.

The list could go on and on....

I'm all for anything that will make my life easier. After all, I am a wife and mother of four as well as an author.   We all have so much going on, it's hard to find the right balance.

I've used Tweedeck before, but I've found something that works even better. (Thank you Tiffinie Helmer, author of the Wild Men of Alaska series, for the tip!)

HootSuite

Such a beautiful word :-) www.hootsuite.com

It's free for up to 5 social networks. You can have more, you just have to pay. So I decided to use my friend facebook page, my two author facebook pages, and my two author twitter pages.

So easy to set up and really easy to check everything all at one place. The best part, I can go in and schedule the posts and tweets I want. I plan to use the weekend to schedule my posts and tweets for the following week. That frees up my weekdays to write, which is the whole point as authors, right?

Sweet!

So if you aren't already signed up, do so now. You'll thank me later :-)


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Barbie's Bunkhouse: 12 Days of Christmas Contest




How exciting! My First contest EVER!! From NOW until Dec 11th, I'm holding a 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways contest! It's going to be a lot of fun and a way for me to generate more traffic over to my FaceBook Author page: www.facebook.com/barbarawitek.author . Trust me, there will be some BIG things happening in the near future, and you won't want to miss them!

Here are the RULES:
  • Once you "LIKE" my Facebook Author Page - you are
    automatically entered to win! Contest runs from 12/3-12/11.
    Winners will be drawn using random(dot)org, from 12/12-12/23
    {U.S. & Canada residents only}
  • Refer your friends to my Author Page
  • For every person who "LIKES" and "Comments on my page that you sent them"
    YOUR NAME will be entered again.
  • The more friends you refer, the more chances you have to win!

One prize a day for 12 days! It's that easy!
Prizes range from Godiva Chocolates, coffee cards, holiday
ebook downloads, my hand-crocheted fingerless mitts,
an Amazon gift card and more!

So spread the word and the holiday cheer and YOU might be a big winner!! My holiday novella, SANTA WORE COMBAT BOOTS was #1 on Amazon's FREE list during our one week promo and was reported as their top selling holiday story! Couldn't be a more perfect time for me to say THANK YOU to all who have supported me and my work.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Liz's Lair: What To Look Out For in Contracts

Today, there was supposed to be a guest blogger--actually a trio of them--but that didn't work out, so you're stuck with me again. Fortunately for you, I attended my RWA chapter's December breakfast meeting on Saturday, and I am full of new stuff to tell you.

Kristin Nelson from the Nelson Literary Agency was our guest, and boy did she have a lot to tell us. I had the privilege of sitting with her, and she is just as gracious and fun as she is smart and savvy. Anyway, she talked about the changing landscape of the publishing industry. Since so many of us are publishing on our own with smaller presses, I found her advice on contracts very informative. Even though I have the world's greatest agent who spends a potload of time rewriting contracts to make them the best they can be for her clients, I am still glad I heard what she had to say so I can share it with you guys.

First of all, she told us that romance is leading the charts in sales at 14.3%--no big surprise to those of us writing it--and that 26% of the romance sales are digital. Again, no big surprise. To break that down, those sales came from Amazon at 25%, other e-sales sites at 19%, book clubs at 11%, Barnes and Noble at 11%, and only 4% from Barnes and Noble.com.

About the Random Penguin merger--she said it will mean fewer opportunities for debut authors as they combine lines at the two houses. Crap! As if getting published wasn't hard enough. And she mentioned the upswing of digital first imprint publishers who only do print runs if a book is selling really well as an e-book.
As far as these kind of contracts go, she said to think of it as you NEVER getting your rights back since they will always be available online.

Kristin went on to explain something to watch for when you are faced with a contract and have no one like Christine to be your bulldog in negotiations. Three different phrases mean a big difference when you sign.

World Rights -- publishers would love to have all these.
World English--means all the English-speaking martket (Australia, New Zealand, etc.)
North American--the US and Canada

The more rights you can keep, the better you are.

She got into the difference between Agency Model versus wholesale which is the basis for the DOJ lawsuit against the big 6 and Apple. In a nutshell, the wholesale model allowed Amazon (and anyone else) to buy a book at 50% off and then sell it for less. Why would they want to do that, you ask? Think about it. How many kindles do you think Amazon sells when people know they can download books at that kind of discount? Yes, they lose money on those sales, but they make a fortune off all the Fires they sell. The Agency Model is kind of like price-setting. On all my books, for example, there is a disclaimer on Amazon that says the price is set by the publisher (Penguin who has not settled the lawsuit yet.) In other words, they are not allowed to discount any of my books because of the Agency Model.

Then Kristin got into a really important area of contract negotiations that every author should be aware of, especially since it is so hard to get an agent these days and a lot of you are doing your own contracts.

The OPTION clause. This gives the publisher first dibs on your next book.

Wait! Your next book??? You read it right. So many of you out there have probably signed a contract with this language without realizing what it really means. As written, if you publish romantic suspense, ANY other story you have has to go through them first, even that non fiction you have under the bed. And that's not all. Some of the contracts even say you are required to submit a FULL manuscript and they have up to a year to decide. So, let's see. You've written an entire manuscript and have waited almost a year only to have them pass on it. See how that clause works? It's not in your best interest to sign something that reads this vague. Pinpoint it. Make them say they have first dibs on your next romantic suspense in the SERIES only and even then--only give them a proposal to make their decision.

No wonder they want you to sign that. They now have all the power.

And another one to watch for is the non-compete clause which basically says you can't write anything else that might compete with the published  work or that might hinder the sales in any way.

That, my friend, is why I am walking away from a NY house and an editor that I love. We couldn't get them to reword this clause, and now that I write for Midnight Ink and self publish, I can't live with the broadness of that language. It's too big of a risk in today's litigious society. It could easily be said that my straight mysteries with sex and bad language might hinder the sales of my G rated cozies, and before you know it, I'm being sued.

Don't laugh. It has  already happened where an author signed a contract and then self pubbed something the publisher had already passed on. When her editor (Penguin) freaked out and demanded that she take it down off Amazon, she refused. They reacted by cancelling her contract and then asking for the advance back. When she said no way, they sued her. You can read about it here.

So, I guess the moral of the story is--if at all possible, get a literary attorney to have a look at your contract before signing anything. If not, do your homework before signing on the dotted line. And even if you have a great agent like I do, it is always smart to be aware of what she is negotioting in your behalf.

Now on to the fun stuff--we continue the countdown for MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT.

29 More Days.

I'd love to hear your comments on this blog. I'll start off the countdown by giving away one free autographed copy of the book to one lucky commenter. All I ask in return is an honest review. So start talking!!