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What We're Working On Now

Elisabeth: Marked

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
33,126 / 95,000

Joan: Buried Secrets

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68,000 / 115,000

Linda: Facing It

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45,540 / 85,000

:~: Monday, July 31, 2006 :~:

In Recovery Mode

I'm sure most everyone who went to the RWA National Convention in Atlanta last week is doing the same thing I am today - recovering. It was fun, exciting, overwhelming and exhausting all at the same time. Anytime you get 2000+ romance writers together in one place, it's bound to be an adventure to remember.

Log on to just about any romance writer's blog and you'll find a plethora of recounts of the week. Allison Brennan's chatting about the highlights, the zany girls at Writeminded are sharing pictures and stories, those scary women at Murder She Writes are recapping the nitty-gritty insider info, and The Wet Noodle Posse (who, by the way, had a great run at the Rita's) has a recount of who won what and when. So instead of rehashing all of what's already been said, I'm going to share my personal never-forget-moments from the week:

(And I apologize...blogger doesn't seem to want to upload all my photos, so I'll keep trying on that.)

1. The Literacy signing. I missed it last year in Reno because I flew in too late. I didn't miss it this year. It was definitely one of the highlights. Chatting with and meeting face-to-face some of my favorite authors like Cindy Gerard, Roxanne St. Claire and Allison Brennan (who I've already met but had fun talking to again anyway).

Me with Allison Brennan

2. Meeting Karin Tabke. Karin is just like she is on her blogs - funny and honest and the nicest person you've ever met. She's also really tall and really pretty. And she's so totally genuine, she'll talk to you about anything you want to know. Karin is now on my auto-buy list just because she's such a great person.

3. Pitching to Tracy Farrell at HQN. I hate pitching, and I'm usually a nervous wreck at these things, but Tracy was so easy to talk to, it didn't feel like a pitch session at all. I'm sure there are some really fabulous editors out there to work with. Tracy Farrell's got to be one of them.

4. Going to a gay karaoke bar with The Wet Noodle Posse. So much fun I almost peed my pants!

5. Learning that my dear friend and roommate, Alice Sharpe, hit the Waldenbooks top 10 list with her June Intrigue release, My Sister, Myself, while we were at the conference!

6. Sitting up-front at the Rita's. Since I was Joan's stand in for the RS category of the GH, I got to sit right up front and hob-knob with the almost-rich and very-often famous. Even got to sit next to Suzanne Enoch who was up for a Rita in the historical category. It was cool, but nerve-wracking too. I was sweating bullets and it wasn't even my manuscript up for review!

7. But the best, very best thing about the conference was coming home charged about writing. So charged I can't wait to sit at the computer and pound out the chapters. After, of course, I get some sleep. :)

There were moments where I was completely overwhelmed, so tired I couldn't even think straight, ready to get it over with and get home. But above everything, there was this feeling of camaraderie, an excitement in the air about what we're all doing. Most romance writers are just everyday women who want to talk about what they love. And the best ones are willing to share their knowledge and experiences with the rest of us. Over and over, I was struck by the fact those great big names, the writers we all aspire to be, didn't have to be at that conference. But they were there anyway. The spirit of "giving back" to an organization that has helped so many make it, is an electrifying thing.

So to those of you who didn't go to Atlanta this year, who came up with excuses about why you couldn't attend, I have only four words for you:


You have to go to Dallas. You just have to.

:~: Friday, July 28, 2006 :~:

Inspiration, or the Lack Thereof

I'm posting late today, for a variety of reasons, everything from a hair appointment to a spontaneous meeting at school.

The number one reason I'm blogging late?

I couldn't think of anything to write about.

I hear that from my students quite often -- "I can't think of anything!" "I don't know where to start!"

Sound familiar?

Inspiration can strike in the oddest of places -- a newspaper article, a photo, a snatch of conversation. But sometimes, it's nowhere to be found.

Here are my top strategies for breaking the lack of inspiration:

1) Reading
2) Taking a walk
3) Mowing the grass (I have no idea why, but it works for me)
4) Making lists -- just random words, etc.
5) Freewriting

What do you do when you're feeling less than inspired to write?

:~: Tuesday, July 25, 2006 :~:

Deepening Character with a Powerful Tri-fecta: Internals, POV Filters & Props

For those who went to Atlanta and are having too much damn fun to check the blog...they missed out, because I've had a revelation on character development and plan to share the powerful insights with those of you stuck at home like me.

Shut up! I am so NOT jealous!!

As I've mentioned in previous posts, my agent felt the characters in Safe in Enemy Arms weren't "3-D" enough. Getting into these characters' heads hasn't been easy. In fact, it's been painfully frustrating.

Along the way, I've found several...what I call mini-tools...very effective in layering in character and drawing each (hero/heroine/villain and even secondary characters) more realistically. Of course, my agent may have another opinion when she reads the revisions, but I'm sure we'll both agree they are more "3-D" than they were before.

Since examples always help me when I'm trying to grasp a concept and apply it to my own work, I'm going to use them here. So I don't drone on and on, I will only use my heroine's examples, but if you like the demonstration and want to see how the technique works to create unique individuals, post your request in the comments section, and I'll work up my examples from my hero's character development as well.

Today: Part One--Internals

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know all about internals, you say. But bear with me here. It never hurts to go over a topic you're already familiar with and internals are the base element of Deepening Character with a Powerful Tri-fecta.

When I say internals, I don't mean 'What is she thinking?'. I mean, what's really going on inside her head? And how does it change, or does it, and why? What is she struggling with emotionally, logically? What external forces are in affect? What is her thought process when she's making a decision? How does she feel, physically?

Example 1: (Situation: Cassie (heroine) driving back to Baja, MX, to tie up loose ends after her mother's and stepbrother's deaths.)

Just seeing Sharpe, just looking into those eyes again.... The fine hairs on her arms prickled to attention. She shivered. Her fingers curled around the steering wheel, and she shook the image of his handsome face, chiseled and cold, from her mind. But the alternative thoughts of going home to confront her equally calculating and manipulative stepfather without the love of her mother or the support of her stepbrother did nothing to ease her mind.

Result: Identifying Cassie's struggles/conflicts and how they affect her both physically and emotionally. I'm now inside her head, her heart and her body as she contemplates her immediate future while comparing it to her past.


Example 2: As she rounded the trunk of her car, Cassie studied the accident scene, gauging the needs of others while weighing the risk to her own safety. But when it came to her duties as a physician, personal security issues came in second.

Result: Again cluing the reader in on her conflicts with the added benefit of showing what it is that's motivating her to make decisions--a big window into a person's character: why they do what they do.


Example 3: She was way out of her league here. Her throat ached. Her legs shook. To keep her focus, she mentally reviewed the contents of her bag for possible weapons: scalpel, scissors, needles, flashlight.

Result: The reader knows she's scared, they know she's strong and smart, they know she's not going to back down. They know all this because they know what she's thinking--she's thinking about weapons to protect herself. This also suggests something about her past and how it has shaped her into the person the reader is meeting here in chapter one.


Example 4: Shit, she shouldn't be in this truck. She would be trapped if--no. No. She couldn't think about that. Cassie bit her lip for damage control. She couldn't afford to lose her professional edge here and now. Concentrate, Dr. Christo.

Result: Deep third person gets the reader tangled in the character's psyche. They can understand the character's thought process, and, if we (us writers) are lucky, can even feel the character's emotions, enabling them to more fully understand who this person is, and connect with them as a result.


Example 5: She could have retreated now that medical personnel were on scene, but with others there she didn't feel the pressing need to flee. These women had been herded into the back of a truck like animals, and she was determined to get as much information about the situation as possible. She couldn't bring back the three that had died tonight, but she might be able to stop this particular smuggler from striking again.

Result: Shows conflict--her own safety vs. helping the women, getting information vs. risking her security. Shows her values--considering the needs of others first. And shows her motivation--putting an end to the smuggling, easing the pain of others. Considering the previous mini-flashbacks of a bad man in her past, I think there is sufficient intrigue created to push the reader forward to seek answers to that particular story question (among others).


I'll stop here for this week. These excerpts are all taken from the first scene of Safe in Enemy Arms. By the middle of chapter one, the reader will (hopefully) understand Cassie's personality while getting a glimpse of conflicts to come and her motivation to resolve those conflicts. I believe the reader will be well connected with her and already cheering her on.

Internals don't have to be direct thoughts to come through loud and clear. Showing the pattern of decision-making, showing emotion through body and mind, showing flashes of motivation will all go a long way toward deepening your character.

Next week: POV filters and combining them with internals.

Now we're cookin' with gas!

:~: Monday, July 24, 2006 :~:

Hola from Hotlanta!

Okay, so Hola probably isn't an Atlanta greeting, but it works. And contrary to EVERTHING I've heard, Hotlanta isn't so hot. I left 109 degree temps in Oregon expecting the worst, and it's only in the low 90s here. Definitely doable.

I have nothing interesting writing-wise to share, so I'm going to tell you about my wonderfully exciting trip out east. I hate flying. Have I said that before? Oh, yeah. Flew to Phoenix where I had to catch my connection. Had 45 minutes to book through the airport and get something to eat (yanno...they don't even serve food on the flights anymore. You have to PAY for it! What's up with that?!). So anyway, book it to the gate, philly cheesesteak in hand, get on the flight, find my seat and plop. After half an hour taxiing out to the runway (do you have any idea how hot it is in Phoenix? Yikes), we get to the end of the runway, the pilot punches the engine, we start to go, then BOOM. Oh yeah, loud explosion. I'm sitting just behind the wing where great big flames are shooting out of the engine, black smoke's wafting out, and the stench of hydraulic fluid is filling the air. Little scary. We blew engine number two. Luckily, they shut it right off, veered off the runway and everyone sat there looking horrified. We must have sat for another half hour before they finally decided they could take us back to the airport, where we were offloaded and told to sit tight.

Um, yeah.

In Phoenix.

Sit tight ended up being three hours in the Phoenix airport with no idea how long it would take and a warning not to venture too far away from the gate.

I was supposed to get into Atlanta at 9:30 pm. I got in around 12:45 am. Then, as if that weren't enough, I'm wandering around the Atlanta airport at all hours of the night, headed toward baggage claim, and the darn train I'm riding gets shut down while I'm on it. I had to get off and then hoof it the rest of the way to baggage claim. And the Atlanta airport's under major construction, so it was just a little confusing.

Luckily, I got here safe and sound. In fact, when we landed in Atlanta, the flight attendant announced, "Welcome to Atlanta. We're a little late, but alive. So that's good." Um, not something you want to hear from a flight attendant.

I'm staying with family now and am heading to the hotel tomorrow for the conference. Looking forward to meeting up with friends there.

I'll try to post an update about the conference early next week. Hopefully I'll have some great photos to share.

Until then...asta, baby.

:~: Saturday, July 22, 2006 :~:

Contest Winner!

The winner of my second-chance contest for a hand-crafted bookthong is . . .

Jennifer L.!

Congratulations, and thanks to everyone for stopping by!

Jennifer, if you'll drop me an email at linda_winfree at yahoo dot com, I'll get your prize out to you ASAP. :-)

:~: Friday, July 21, 2006 :~:

The Blah's

Otherwise known as: Steph stole my post!

Seriously, her take on control and waiting is just what's been going through my mind the last few days, although I have to admit mine has been more about my house than my writing.

I'm at loose ends. I have things to do around here -- I could paint furniture. I could . . .


I could paint furniture. But why? The rooms to hold that furniture won't be completed for months now.

So I could paint that furniture, but why? I can paint it over fall break . . .

If we're closer to having those rooms finished.

Can you tell my renovations are driving me nuts right now? Come on, give me a break . . . I'm well into year TWO of living in renovation hell, and the end is nowhere in sight.

Does this sound familiar? The analogy can be applied to writing in so many ways . . .

I could work on finishing MOU, which, by the way, was one of my summer goals. But why?

I could work on revising HOTM, but . . . again, why?

I could, I could, I could.

Why? Why? Why?

I am seriously lacking in motivation this week, which is pretty odd, considering how driven I've been on the house, unit plans, and yes, even writing, this summer.

Want to know what the answer to why is? As in, why paint the furniture? Why work on MOU or HOTM or the new WIP?


I don't have control over the issues that keep cropping up with our renovations and seem hellbent on keeping me in renovation hell for another year.

I don't have control over how quickly my editor reads the two fulls I subbed in June.

I don't have control over . . .

Get the idea?

I do, however, have control over me. I have control over the writing. And yes, the darn painting. So I'm giving in to the blah's today . . .

And tomorrow I write!


(PS -- you have until midnight tonight to be entered in my bookthong giveaway -- all you have to do is comment on one of this week's posts!)

:~: Wednesday, July 19, 2006 :~:

Summer inspiration

I was going to title this summer slump, because that's where I'm at. But, instead I've decided to lead you to several sources of inspiration--a sort of forced kick in the ass for myself.

Don't forget...any posted comments this week enters you in Linda's contest for a handcrafted Bookthong!!!

I find most of my inspiration in articles written by other writers. Those who have been there and done that really give me a boost, and lately, I've culled quite a few great ones from the lists I've received. See, you guys only get the good ones...I've filtered out the duds.

Here are the ones that I found most helpful this month:

Scene and Sequel
I've studied this topic several times in the past, and it might just be a culmination of all of the information clicking, but this article seemed to really clear up this important writing technique for me. It's short, to the point and powerful.

Boys in Blue
My favorite hero types--cops, detectives, military. I should be writing about firemen, but my brain always spins toward law enforcement. This is a great article on what pulls most of us toward these heros.

Emotional Toolbox
All I can say about this in-depth article is...WOW. Talk about digging into that troublesome character--this is something you need to at least read, if not fully sit down and utilize. I'll warn you now: it is lengthy, and the questions make you think hard. But, for me, the new understanding I gained of my characters was worth every moment. From now on, I'll be going through this process BEFORE I start to write. Pansters beware, plotters rejoyce...there are worksheets involved.

How to Improve Your Writing Without Writing a Word
Hey, I'm there!!! This article echoes my belief that there's a whole lot more to advancing as a writer than 'write, write, write'.

And finally:
Send in a Man With a Gun
I LOVED this article. For whatever reason, I have issues wrapping my mind around certain elements of writing--one being the classical three act structure. Trying to apply that to my work is like forcing a square peg in a round hole. This article gave me an alternative for a perfect fit.

There are lots more articles on my Author Articles page at my website.

I've updated my consession to a personal blog, My Month, where I talk about life and writing month by month. I also critique books I've read recently, so you might want to take a peak and see what's up there.

Please share your favorite inpirational sources with us.

Til next week...asta.

:~: Monday, July 17, 2006 :~:

Recharching the Muse

I read an interview with Nora Roberts a while back, and the reporter asked if she takes time off between books to rest. She said no, that when she finishes a book, she starts the next one the very next day. It's an interesting thing, being able to switch gears so fast, jump into a new story and new characters. It's even more interesting to think about the fact she does it without getting burned out.

I'll admit, I'm in awe. I finished a manuscript in the end of May and took all of June off to recharge. I'd been going nonstop for over a year, moving from one project to another without any breaks, and I was pretty worn down. Once I finished that manuscript, I had several story ideas bouncing around in my brain, and since I couldn't decide which direction I wanted to go, I figured I'd use the time to see which one was stronger and which one called to me. Problem was, neither was calling all that strongly. So I bounced back and forth, started both, but never really got into either one. Then July hit, and my life has been so hectic, I haven't been able to focus on any one idea long enough to get going.

The guilt is there. I can't believe I haven't written anything substantial in over a month. In the back of my mind, I'm thinking a month was too long, that instead of recharging me, it's done the exact opposite and hindered my progress.

Last week, DH and I went off on vacation alone. I didn't have any writing expectations for the break - knew DH would flip if I suggested I take my laptop. So instead I packed books to read on the beach. Books that would distract me from the fact I haven't been writing. There were no little voices asking for things, no dishes to be done, no diapers to be changed, no laundry to do. I didn't feel pulled in a million different directions. I laid on the beach, sunbathed, read, and - most importantly - thought. A lot. To my surprise, the location was inspiring, reading was inspiring, just doing nothing was inspiring. And hey, it's hard NOT to be inspired when you're staring at this:

The good part about this vacation is that I'm pretty sure it recharged my muse - and that's something I hadn't expected. I'm itching to get going on the writing again, and I'm now certain about which manuscript I'm going to dive into. I haven't felt like this in quite a while. The bad part is that I also came up with two other story ideas that I'm now excited to write as well. One of which starts off in a resort very similar to the one we stayed at.

I'm not always going to have the luxury of a week-long tropical vacation to recharge the muse, so my question for you today is...do you take time off between projects? If so, how long? Do you ever feel like the time off works against you? And if so, how do you force yourself to jump into something new again?

:~: Sunday, July 16, 2006 :~:

Contest -- Win a Hand-crafted Bookthong!

Hi, everyone!

I'm chatting over at the Samhain Cafe tonight from 8:00-9:00 PM EST. To celebrate my first-ever author chat, I'm giving away a gift certificate to Samhain Publishing at the Cafe tonight, but will also hold a second chance contest here this week.

All you have to do is comment during the week to be entered to win!

The prize? A hand-crafted bookthong by Melanie, sold exclusively through The Bookstore!

Join me at the Cafe, join Elisabeth here tomorrow, and come back all this week!

:~: Friday, July 14, 2006 :~:

More Juggling

My secret is out.

It's all over my small town that I sold a book.

Both of my administrators know. Many of students know. People are congratulating me in Dollar General. I finally talked to Leigh at the Bookstore about doing a signing when my print release comes out.

Have I mentioned I've had nightmares about this?

I didn't have a lot of trouble juggling teacher me and writer me when writer me was receiving rejection after rejection after rejection. I mean, sure, a lot of people know I wrote when I wasn't teaching, and I fielded questions from my students and other interested acquaintances.

But now, there's going to be a book out there for them to read. A real book. With a cover and pages and everything.

In black and white!

My best friend decided to torture me this morning with all the possibilities . . . things we both know as English teachers are going to happen. At least one kid will buy the book. (Heeeeey! Royalties!) It will get passed around, with all the sexy parts either dogeared or highlighted. The curse words will get giggled over.

That's where the nightmare of having to go before the school board because I -- gasp -- wrote book with sex on, like, page four! (Okay, that's just the nightmare -- I'm pretty sure I won't lose my job because of my writing . . . and there is a teacher shortage . . .) Writer me is completely okay with that, the whole sex-on-page-four thing. Teacher me has to face eighty-something hormonal teenagers every day once they know about the whole sex-on-page-four thing.

You know it's going to come up.

I'm figuring cool, calm, collected high road is the way to go.

There are some advantages to having my secret out.

1) People are expressing interest in the book and I've already had several people tell me they're buying a print copy.

2) There's no stigma attached to having sold to an company that will e-publish my book before the print version hits Borders. I'm not considered less-than-published because my publisher isn't one of the big NY houses. That's been nice.

3) My students will stop asking, "When are you going to publish one of your books, Ms. Winfree?"

So I think I can learn to juggle both teacher-me and writer-me, the public and private personas. Share with me . . . how do you, or how do you plan, to handle this juggling act?

:~: Thursday, July 13, 2006 :~:


(Sorry for the late post...connectivity issues here.)

I know we all do it, probably more than we'd prefer, but I'm curious...what do you all juggle out there?

Now, I'm not looking for a contest on who has it worse or who is busier or who does more, I'm interested in chatting about your life as an aspiring writer. Most of us work other jobs that pay the bills, have families, extra-cirricular activities and mego responsiblities in addition to our writing.

I'd like to know a little about all of you out there -- what's in your life aside from writing?

  • I'm married to a fireman with an insanely complex schedule and who's often gone.
  • I have two daughters, 14 and 10 who are in a variety of sports/activities.
  • I have 2 part time jobs that help pay the bills (or don't, whichever the case may be during any given month): I'm a sonographer (ultrasound technologist) working at a clinic nearby and a lampworker (glass bead artist) working from my garage and selling my work on ebay.
  • I started weight watchers and excercise to some degree everyday.
  • I belong to a writer's group that meets 2x a month for critiques.
  • I just started a scrapbooking group that meets 1x a month.

That's me...let's hear about YOU!!

:~: Monday, July 10, 2006 :~:

Industry Interview

Have you ever wondered what industry professionals are really looking for? Well wonder no more.

Today we have a special treat. Paty Jager, editor at The Wild Rose Press has agreed to let us pick her brain about the epub industry. I'm happy to count Paty as not only a professional colleague, but a personal friend.

Elisabeth: Welcome, Paty! Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today. The Wild Rose Press is a new romance epublisher officially opening it's doors in September, although the website is already up and running. Can you tell us a little about how it got started?

Paty: Sure. The Wild Rose Press was a brainstorm of two critique partners who felt there was a need for an e-publisher who didn't follow all the rules set up by the big presses and other e-presses. WRP takes stories that are 5,000 words (Rosettes), 5,000 to 20,000 words (Miniature Roses) and 20,000 to 50,000 words (Rosebuds) as well as novel length stories. The story lines can be subjects or characters that some of the other houses consider taboo. If it's a good romance that keeps us turning the pages, we'll take a serious look at it.

Elisabeth: What kinds of stories does WRP look for?

Paty: WRP wants page turning stories with unforgettable characters. If you take a look at the website -- www.thewildrosepress.com -- you'll see all the Rose lines. We cover any romance from sweet to hot 'n' spicy. Contemporary to historical. If it is a romance and has a "Happy Ever After" ending, it will fit in at Wild Rose Press.

Elisabeth: What are the benefits to being published by an epub?

Paty: Benefits of being e-pubbed are the author has more say in the cover, the excerpt, and the author even writes their own back cover blurb. There is more hands on with your book from start to finish than with a traditional publisher.

Elisabeth: WRP publishes in both electronic and print formats. How does a book go from electronic format to print format? And what are the print runs for a book that makes it to print format?

Paty: When a book is contracted and sent to WRP, it is set up for e-books as well as print format. There are no print runs, WRP is set up with a print on demand company. Print books can be purchased either through the WRP website or Bowker In Print. E-books can be purchased through WRP website, Fictionwise.com, and Cyberread.com at this time. As we expand so will the ability to purchase the books a more locations.

Elisabeth: What makes WRP different from other epublishers?

Paty: All the editors at WRP are writers. We've been where many writers are and have been. Either just getting their feet wet in the publishing world or been knocking on doors for a while trying to get published with a good book, one the other publishers felt there were either too many of on the market or just didn't fit their list.

When a submission comes to us if it is rejected, the writer will get more than a "thank you, but no thank you." We give reasons why we like it and reasons why it isn't ready to be published. Just today someone who was rejected wrote back and thanked the editor. She wrote, "I was so impressed with the fact that finally someone was kind enough to give me some constructive criticism to allow me to learn from my mistakes." And "I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to email me and I truly will not soon forget The Wild Rose Press." This is what Wild Rose Press is about. Giving the writer something substantial about why their work didn't fit or work. Giving them something to work on along with telling them what was good about their writing.

Elisabeth: What's the best thing about being an editor for WRP?

Paty: The above -- being able to help someone who is either struggling because they haven't received knowledgeable input about their writing or has a story other publishing houses feel is risky or out of their comfort zone. Everyone who is a writer has a great story in them. We at WRP help them dig deeper and put all the pieces together to make it their best story.

Thank you Paty for your time and answers. If anyone has specific questions for Paty regarding The Wild Rose Press, she'll be around through Wed. to answer questions in the comment section here at Romance Worth Killing For.

:~: Thursday, July 06, 2006 :~:

Reader Appreciation Week at Samhain Publishing!

In May, I sold my romantic suspense What Mattered Most to Samhain Publishing. Although it won't be out for several more months, I'm excited about being part of the great things I see at Samhain. I've been reading books by their authors, and I've found much to love!

For today's post, I thought I'd pass on this information about Samhain's upcoming Reader Appreciation Week, from editor Angela James:

Join Samhain Publishing and its authors as we celebrate ReaderAppreciation Week July 10th through July 16th. Be prepared to add to your wish list as authors share excerpts from a variety of genres including romance, fantasy and suspense. Come to chat, come to win one(or two) of the MANY prizes being offered throughout the week, come to chat with your favorite authors and make new friends. Monday through Friday, authors will pop in to the Samhain Cafe throughout the day to chat, share excerpts and blurbs from their books and post contests.

Each day is dedicated to specific genres offiction/romance.
Monday July 10th - Suspense/Mystery/Thriller
Tuesday July 11th - Fantasy/Sci-Fi-Futuristic
Wednesday July 12th - Paranormal
Thursday July 13th - Historical/Western
Friday July 14th - Contemporary/Chick Lit/Comedy

Saturday July 15th and Sunday July 16th , Two authors every hour will share blurbs, prizes and excerpts. The party starts at 9 eastern and goes until 9pm Saturday and Sunday so be prepared for non-stop actionon these days! You can sign up for the fun at www.samhaincafe@yahoogroups.com This event will take place on the Samhain Cafe, not the chatroom, so be prepared for a high volume of emails. You can choose to go digest, no mail or special notices and read and participate directly from theboard, if you are someone who doesn't like a large number of emails to come through your inbox. We look forward to seeing everyone and helping us celebrate the fabulousness that is our readers!


I'll be chatting Sunday, June 16 from 8-9 PM at the Samhain Cafe. During my chat period, I'll be sharing excerpts from What Mattered Most and giving away a Samhain gift certificate. Hope to see you there!

:~: Wednesday, July 05, 2006 :~:

A tip on domain names...

... so you won't make the same mistake I did.

For those of you with a website hosted with your unique domain name (like www.joanswan.com, not a tripod or aol sub-domain), take this as an opportunity to learn from my mistake.

Don't let your domain name renewal lapse.

Simple advice, yes. But, valuable.

I've been a professional web designer in the past. I've worked independently building and setting up sites for companies and individuals. I've worked on payroll for several small firms. At the pinnicle of my web design career, I spent years at Hewlett Packard designing and implementing aspects of both their internal and external sites.

But I never knew what happened when you let a domain name lapse after the 30-day grace period.

I assumed (eye roll, smacking my forehead) that the name went back into the available pool from which you could simply puchase again.

I was wrong.

Let's say your domain name is paid for through June 30th, and you didn't renew. From July 1st to July 30th you have a grace period during which time you can renew your domain for the regular price (my registrar charges $7.99 for the year). If you don't pay by July 30th, your domain slips into the "redemption grace period".

This is another 30 day grace period where you may pay to have the domain retrieved and renewed, but only by your registrar--to the outrageous tune of anywhere between $80 and $250+. My registrar charges $150 for this service.

I couldn't believe the utter manipulation of this situation, so, I investigated my options and found that sure enough, I have three choices:

1) I can give up the name all together, which means giving up any name recognition I'd built, changing any links I have on other sites, moving everything off that server and onto another server of whatever new name I buy, etc.

2) I can pay the absorbidant fee and have my name renewed.

3) I can wait for the 30-day redemption grace period to expire, wait for the domain to be released back into the open pool where I can then buy it again for my $7.99.

Now, number 3 doesn't sound too bad, considering. Yeah, I'd have to live without the site for a month, but at this point in my career, not a big deal.

But then I discover...and this is where they get you...all names ready for release into the open pool are first offered for sale to select companies who pay a subscription fee. These companies are informed of the upcoming names going out into the open pool, and they decide which would be beneficial to buy (at a bulk registration rate of about $3-$4 a name for the first year). They will then, of course, turn around and offer to sell the name back to its original owner at an unGodly price.

Depending on how badly that person wants or needs the name, they might very well buy it back. Evidently, many do or these companies wouldn't remain in business.

So, if I don't pay the $150 fee, I risk some anonymous company buying it. And of course, since I wouldn't buy it from them, they would own it for the next year and I'd be out of luck.

But what are the chances someone would see joanswan.com and buy it? I don't know. On the one hand, it wouldn't benefit anyone but someone named Joan Swan. On the other, that might be the very reason it's valuable...there's only one and that might just make them think I'd want it back bad enough to pay. (I wouldn't, but they don't know that.)

Additionally, I'm sure these companies do research on the domains before they decide which to gamble on. And if they google my previous site, the site itself is down, but the information on search engines says I'm an Award-winning romantic suspense author. Little do they know how insignificant I am in the industry...like...in the negative zone. They probably figure if I'm going to want it back.

As I said, for me, at this point in my career, I'd simply change the domain to use my middle initial or something. But consider those who are already published, those of you who already have a following with readers and a fan base. We all know how important a website, email and even our blogs are to marketing. For an established author, this could be potentially damning.

So...don't make this mistake! If your registrar has an automated renewal service, give them your payment information and let them renew for you! If they don't, renew your domain the SAME day you get that renewal notice!

:~: Monday, July 03, 2006 :~:

WANTED: A Good Read

First of all...

Happy 4th of July!!!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!

Now that that's out of the way, on to more important things.

I'm gearing up for my vacation sans kiddos. Sans kiddos is important because it means the most taxing thing I'll have to do is position my chaise lounge on the beach and signal Juan the pool boy to get me a margarita. On the beach is key because it means I get to lie around all day and do nothing more than bask in the sun, drink like a fish, and read a good book.

That's where y'all (as Lin would say) come in.

Since my CPs haven't been sending me anything to read lately (tsk, tsk), I've had to restrain myself from reading my to-be-read-on-the-beach books the past few weeks. Now that my vacation's almost here though, I'm looking at my pile thinking, "Hmm...that's not gonna last long." I'm a fairly fast reader, and I tend to go through beach books rather quickly. I have two romantic suspenses I've been drooling over, a contemporary a friend recommended, and even (egad!) a historical a writer friend has assured me I'll like. (Actually, I asked said writer friend to pick out ONE historical for me to try - I'm just not into historicals - and she came back with a whole BAG full of books for me. I've committed to one, so I'll start with one, but I'm not taking up valuable suitcase space with books I may never read.) Four books will probably last me four days max, and I need at least a couple more to tide me over (otherwise Juan the pool boy will be getting way too much exercise hoofing it back and forth to the bar for my tequila).

So give it to me straight...I need some recommendations for great "can't put down books" to take with me. Preferably contemporaries or romantic suspenses - but I'm open to just about anything.