Friday, May 31, 2013

Flapper Friday: SPEAK EASY Cover Reveal & Gift Card Giveaway!

This is a really exciting day for me! And it's almost the weekend--what could be better?

For today's Flapper Friday, I'm revealing the cover for SPEAK EASY, my NA Historical coming out July 22nd.

This is my debut novel, so I'm completely giddy about this (also kinda nauseous, but I do have a bit of stage fright).

So what's SPEAK EASY about? Think NA meets Boardwalk Empire. Here's the scoop:

July, 1923. The ‘20s are roaring, and twenty-year-old Tiny O’Mara is desperate for a little anything-goes excitement. But when her father is kidnapped by a mobster in Detroit's exploding organized crime scene, shes shocked to find herself caught up in the bootlegging wars of Prohibition—and torn between two gorgeous gangsters on opposite sides.

To save her fathers life, she’ll have to choose between them. But deciding whom to trust isn’t easy in a world where everyone wants something—be it booze, money, power, or sex—and no one cares what it takes to get it.

Temptation is everywhere.

If you drank up Anna Godbersen's BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS and LUXE series or Jillian Larkin's FLAPPERS series (but enjoy the sexytimes of NA), I think you will like this cocktail too. It's also got a shot of Stephanie Plum, because I'm a girl who loves her Ranger & Morelli!

Now the cover:

Isn't she pretty? I love her!

Click here to add to Goodreads. :)

I'm also on Facebook, and I will be posting lots of fun photos and things related to the book and the Prohibition era leading up to release day.

I'm planning lots of fun swag and book giveaways, so stay tuned!

For now, how about a gift card giveaway to kick things off?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you Julie at AToMR tours--you're wonderful!

And thank you readers & writers for stopping by. Cheers!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Suddenly I Was Drunk: A Drinking Game for Self-Editing

I finished the revisions on my latest book, which is a good thing, but now I'm editing.

Which I hate.

I hate it because it reveals all my writerly tics and bad habits, all the rules I have broken. It confirms once and for all that I am unfit to write a grocery list, let alone a novel.

Yes. And I'm horrified with myself.

Why do I insist on using the word "suddenly" when I cringe even as I'm typing it?
Why are my characters always shrugging, nodding, or shaking their heads?
Why is everyone glancing at each other all the time? Or, worse, looking sharply at one another? (Kill me now.)
Why is it necessary to brush someone's teeth 25 times in 100 pages?
And why, WHY, are my characters always turning around?

I have a novel of bobble-headed people with very clean teeth who look at each other before spontaneously pirouetting every three minutes.

They’re also choking on their dialogue tags.

I need a drink. Or five.

This is me after an hour of self-editing.

So in order to make things less hellish, and incorporate a favorite activity (drinking), I came up with my own personal drinking game for editing. It goes like this:

Adverbs = 1 drink
Cliches = 1 drink
Dialogue tags other than "said" = 1 drink
Adverb used to modify "said" = 2 drinks
More than two dialogue tags in a conversation=3 drinks
Exclamation points = 1 drink
Grammatical error using any form of their/its/your = 2 drinks
"Suddenly" = 2 drinks
"And then" = 1 drink
"Glanced" = 1 drink
"Turned" = 1 drink
Any phrase that makes me smile at my cleverness = 3 drinks
Any phrase where I'm clearly trying to be Faulkner, Fitzgerald, or Franzen =3 drinks, toast author
Any scene where a character brushes his/her teeth when she has JUST brushed them on the previous page = 5 drinks
"JUST" = 1 drink

I'd go on, but it's getting depressing.

Also, I'm drunk.

("Also" = 1 drink).

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tempt Me Tuesday: THIS PICTURE

I came across this photo over the weekend.

It reminds me so much of a character in SPEAK EASY (a gorgeous Italian boy who's good in the... kitchen) I wanted to share it with you.

You're welcome.

Go enjoy the day.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Vintage Ad Fun with Listerine

One of the most popular series of posts on an old blog I had was Vintage Ad Fun, so I thought I'd resurrect it here for your amusement. The first installment is brought to you by the miracle that is Listerine.

Are you unpopular?

It might be your "unexcusable" bad breath.

But don't worry. You can instantly halt halitosis with Listerine.

In fact, the "pleasant-tasting germicide" is so powerful, it can combat a cold, dandruff, or perspiration, and it provides cool, refreshing exhilaration after a shave.

Perhaps most miraculous of all? It will help lonely women catch and keep a man!

Your foxtrot is divine, Rose. But what's that evil smell about Helen?
Although some sources claim Listerine ad men invented the term "halitosis," its origins date back to 1874, five years before a doctor from Missouri invented Listerine as a surgical antiseptic. Dentists began using it for oral care in 1895, and it was first sold over the counter in 1914.

But Listerine wasn't going to sell itself. First the company had to tell America it had a problem; only then would the cure be indispensable.

The fun really started in the 1920s with the halitosis ad campaigns.

My fave. So sad.

"How wise is the woman who realizes the importance of keeping the breath always sweet, wholesome and agreeable! After all, nothing mars a personal relationship like halitosis (bad breath) whether occasional or habitual." 

I love the word "wholesome" here, as if a woman's breath implies something about her character.

Sales of Listerine skyrocketed. And what's interesting--yet not surprising--about the halitosis angle is how all these ads appear to be aimed at women, and it's not just because women did the shopping. There were ads targeting men too, but they took a different approach.

Use Listerine after shaving. Or else.
"Feel well and keep well" is very different message than threatening a woman with everlasting loneliness due to her breath. Basically, a man might end up temporarily sick or infected if he does not use Listerine, but a woman might fail to catch and/or keep a man forever. 

Even worse, the man she thought she had might--GASP--leave her and marry her friend!

It's bad enough when you don't get asked to dance, but when your fiance of two years leaves you because of your breath...

Your mission is clear.

Gargle. The men will flock. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tempt Me Tuesday -- In Royal Fashion

As if I needed another reason to be distracted today, my friend Laurelin Paige discovered something fascinating.

The Prince of Sweden is a babe. 

I don't even mean a babe for a royal, like he wouldn't be hot otherwise.

I mean an honest-to-goodness, take-me-to-your-palace-NOW babe.

Just doesn't seem fair, does it? I thought handsome princes only existed in books. (And I might have to write one now. I'm feeling...inspired.)

According to Wikipedia (which is NEVER wrong), Carl Philip was born Crown Prince of Sweden, and he retained his title and first place in succession for seven months until 1 January 1980, when he was stripped of both by a change in the Act of Succession to introduce absolute primogeniture.

Yeah. I'd strip him too.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Flapper Friday -- Detroit is gonna party like it's 1920

Someone sent me this article recently, and the headline made me turn cartwheels:

Party Like it's 1920: Detroit City Distillery Opening in Eastern Market.

First because it comforts me to know that other people are interested in partying like it's 1920.

Second because Detroit needs this kind of cool new business.

Third because it involves gin. And anything involving good gin gets an automatic cartwheel from me.
Whee! Good gin!

The Prohibition-themed micro-distillery (love those words) and tasting room will be located in an old Eastern Market slaughterhouse (which is also kind of a cool old word even though I don't like thinking about its actual meaning).

The outside

The inside

Although it is not slated to open until Spring of 2014, distiller J.P. Jerome is already barrel-aging whiskey in preparation for opening.

How cool is that?

Cheers, everyone! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thinking About Self-Publishing? THINK AHEAD! (Now I Know...)

First! I hereby admit:
I have not done it yet.
I am not an expert.
I am not saying my way is the only way/the best way/your way sucks.

I'm only a writer who wants to do things right and is willing to do research and spend time and money making sure my stories get out there the right way. With that out of the way, this is the first of a series of posts I'll call Now I Know. They are intended to help other newbies like me along the path to (hopefully) successful self-publishing.

Lesson #1? THINK AHEAD.

Publishing your beloved book yourself means you have the responsibility of not just being the writer, but being a businessperson too. I cannot emphasize this enough. When I made the decision to self-pub SPEAK EASY, one of the first things I realized was that I had not thought about the book like a businessperson.

At all.

The book was done--done, I say! It was April, and I was toasting myself in smug fashion. I'd have no problem releasing it by summer, right?

WRONG. All I'd done was write the damn story. I had not thought about the realities of cover creation, a marketing timeline, Ebook pricing, booking a release tour, or formatting/distribution. My girls over at The NAturals panicked for me and immediately told me to get moving on the business end.

One of the writers in my group was still finishing her book, but she already had a cover and reveal date, a banner, a release date, and swag! She was building buzz for her book before it was final? Gulp.

I put down my drink (this is hard for me). I dug into the research.

Here are a few resources I found help ful: The Writer's Guide to E-Publishing, BookBaby, The Creative Penn, the Ebook Formatting Fairies. I also asked fellow writers for recommendations on book tours, editors, cover design, and formatting.

When I emailed the online book promotional people I wanted (AToMR Tours), I found that the soonest they could get me in was August. And in order to decide if they'd take me on as a client, they needed to see the cover, the blurb, and the first chapter. The book (even the chapter) didn't have to be edited and the cover didn't have to be final.

Ummm...Cover? What cover?

In traditional publishing, where you're querying an agent, your ms must must be PERFECT and COMPLETE before you query. And a cover? That's done for you wayyyyy down the road. You'll be lucky to like it.

Not so in my new world, where I'm the boss.

NOW I KNOW: Book tours need to be set up months in advance. At AToMR, your cover needs to be released (public) before you can get tour sign-ups (bloggers willing to feature your book). And you need 8 weeks to properly set up a tour in order to give bloggers time to read your book--they are crazy busy and overloaded with reading. Duh!

So think ahead--If you know you want to release this fall, NOW is the time to do your research and choose your partners. Lucky for me, I found a talented graphic designer willing to take on my noob self and work fast. (More about that in the next Now I Know post.)

When my cover was done--I salivate over it daily--I finally sent the necessary materials to the goddess named Julie at AToMR, and I caught a bit of luck. She had a tour spot open up in July--and she liked my book.

I did a little of this.

Goddess Julie helped me set my cover release date in time for bloggers/reviewers to take part, and has answered all my I-know-nothing-please-help-me questions thoroughly and patiently.

Drum roll... My cover reveal for SPEAK EASY is May 31st!

I pick up my drink again to toast Julie and The NAturals for educating me one step at a time. I am completely humbled. (I owe NA writers Laurelin Paige, Alessandra Thomas, Sophia Bleu, Tamara Mataya, and Lucy Stark many cocktails for their patience, generosity, and cheerleading.)

Stay tuned for Lesson #2: THE COVER, or What do you mean, my title is too long for that font???

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tempt Me Tuesday -- With a Bow Tie

I think we can all agree that a man in a bow tie is sexy. And if you have doubts...

Love when a man adjusts his French cuffs.

Fine, I'll dance with you.

It's sexy in a crowd.

Sexy in a hallway.

Sexy with a cardigan.

And lately the bow tie has become stylish even with jeans.

Dig the velvet coat!

Yes. Whatever you're asking there. Yes.

It's even sexy undone.

But learn to tie one. And NO pre-tied nonsense, please. Man up.

Need help? here you go...

Because the only thing better than this...

Is this.

Where's his bow tie? It's on the floor. But this was a better picture.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Flapper Friday -- Gatsby Style (It's the Cat's Meow)

Introducing Flapper Friday!

Since SPEAK EASY is set in 1923, I'm dedicating (most) Fridays in the near future to all things flavored with roaring twenties--fashion, cocktails, music, movies, books...Jazz Age thrills in a modern world.

So how perfect is it that today is the release day for Baz Luhrmann's THE GREAT GATSBY?!

As a retro culture junkie and a word nerd, this pleases me greatly. YES, I know that Luhrmann spiked the Fitzgerald punch with a pint of JAY Z and crusty literary types are harrumphing about it. YES, I know that the costumes are not exactly historically accurate. (Click here for an awesome article in the Atlantic by 20s fashion expert Dierdre Clemente about why it doesn't matter.)

Who cares? As Clemente says, Lurhmann's Gatsby is  "darker, grittier, and much sexier than the priggish Fitzgerald could have imagined. It's a 21st century Gatsby, set in the 1920s, which, paradoxically, ups its connection to the decadent period it depicts." 

Darker? Grittier? Sexier?

Serve. It. Up.

If you're like me, you will be obsessing over the fashions in the film. Those beaded dresses! The headbands! The jewelry! The three-piece suits! The cloches! The bow ties!

I must have them. If you must as well, here are some suggestions...

The Dresses
Check out this Pinterest board by Linda De Clario, who designed a collection of beaded flapper dresses. Here's an example:

Stunning! And it comes in other colors too. Click here for her website.

The Headbands
Stay away from costumey feathers and try beads (or sequins if you must get glittery). 

Click here to for the Etsy Shop!
Click here for the Etsy Shop!

The Jewelry
Look for cool art deco shapes! I adore these two bracelets from jewelNINJAS.
The Agatha Bracelet
Kimmy Bracelet in Tangerine

And don't forget the men. Brooks Brothers has entire Gatsby Collection. Here's a taste...

And if you really want to splurge, get yourself a pair of art deco-inspired heels by Chrissie Morris.

Can't afford them? Me either. But perhaps we could treat ourselves to an art deco manicure.

Cheers, all you beautiful little fools. Here's to repeating the past, our way.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cover Reveal: FIXED ON YOU, by Laurelin Paige

This cover?

It's hot.

It's so hot I have to show it to you now, but you must promise not to get *fixated* (see what I did there?) on it and forget to read the blurb.

But it's hard, I know. Because...

Now add a nightclub. Dark history. Obsessive love. And a name like Hudson Pierce.

Take a breath and add to Goodreads. Then bite your nails with me until July 31st!

Oh, you still want to know what it's about?

Title: Fixed on You (Fixed, #1)
Author: Laurelin Paige
Genre: Contemporary
Age Group: Adult
Expected release date: July 31, 2013
Cover reveal organized by: AToMR Tours

Stalking and restraining orders are a thing of Alayna Pierce’s past. With her MBA newly in hand, she has her future figured out – move up at the nightclub she works at and marry the manager, David. He’s perfect for her because, although he’s attractive, he doesn’t get her all turned inside out and upside down like some other men have. It’s a safe plan, one that assures she’ll remain in control of her obsessive love disorder. 

But what Alayna didn’t figure on is Hudson Pierce, the new owner of the nightclub. He’s smart, rich, and gorgeous – the kind of guy Alayna knows to stay away from if she wants to keep her past tendencies in check. Except, Hudson’s fixed his sights on her. He wants her in his bed and makes no secret of his plans to seduce her. Avoiding him becomes impossible after he offers a business proposition Alayna can’t turn down and she’s drawn further into his universe, unable to resist his gravitational pull. 

Soon Alayna’s charmed by Hudson in every way possible and the control over her old behaviors slip. When she learns Hudson has a dark history of his own, she realizes too late that she’s fallen for the worst man she could possibly get involved with. Or maybe their less than ideal pasts give them an opportunity to heal each other and finally find the love their lives have been missing.

About the Author
Laurelin Paige is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Mad Men or the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Adam Levine. She is represented by the wonderful Bob Diforio of D4EO Literary Agency.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tempt Me Tuesday

Oh my goodness.

I'm trying to form coherent thoughts but it's difficult because I have just read the first two chapters of ENTWINED WITH YOU by Sylvia Day.

Lovely, generous Sylvia gave the masses of tongue-lolling, Gideon-starved creatures like me a taste of the third book in the Crossfire series today, and I can't think (really. I can't think.) of a more perfect way to introduce a series of posts on my blog called--you guessed it--Tempt Me Tuesday.

Temptation plays a huge part in SPEAK EASY, my NA historical set in 1923. The temptation to drink, to smoke, to wear lipstick, to kiss, to roll your stockings down, to rip some buttons off a three-piece suit...
Come on babe, why don't we paint the town?
Or you could just take off your pants and we'll stay in.

OK I better stop.

So every Tuesday I will post something to tempt and tease you...could be anything! For today, here is the link to Sylvia Day's site where the chapters are posted.

Between the chapters and all the pics floating around Twitter of readers' choices for Gideon Cross actors, I may never breathe normally again. The #GideonEffect. 'Tis a real thing.

Is it June 4th yet???

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nervous about Self-Publishing?

I was too.

Because here's what I knew about self-publishing before this year.

See the blank space?^^^^ Yeah, that's pretty much it.

But so many writer friends, whether they had agents or not, were making the decision to do it. And here's the amazing thing about writers--they are generous! And encouraging! And they will help you, even when you are a toe-dragging, self-doubting, indecisive mess.

They shared articles with me, like this one about why even big names are choosing self-publishing. And this one about what different authors are making from self-published books. And this one about how much money you might have to invest at the start.

Then I read Hugh Howey's interview in the May/June 2013 Writer's Digest. Click here for a similar blog post by him if you can't get the magazine.

And I was convinced.

But I was still clueless.

So I began researching it, and thanks to the generosity of other writers and websites like The Creative Penn and The Book Designer, I am finding my way.

You can too.

And for me, once that decision was made, everything changed for the better--because I knew I was writing for readers, not literary gatekeepers. My writing got better too. (And much, much sexier.) Sitting down at the keyboard was a joy, not a chore.

Now, will it take a lot of work and investment beyond actual writing time and lattes at Starbucks?


Does the thought of it overwhelm me so much that at times I want my Bombay Sapphire delivered intravenously?


But do I have complete creative and financial control?


Do I love writing more now that I feel that freedom?

YES. A thousand times, YES.

Still not convinced? Take a look at this Forbes article, posted last week (4/30/13), entitled When the Self-Published Authors Take Over, What Will Publishers Do?

It's a really incredible time to be a writer and a reader--we've never been more empowered to make our own choices.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cover Reveal -- CATCHING LIAM by Sophia Bleu

I'm reading this book right now.

And let me tell you, I will never look at waffles the same way again.

(Or a crocheted dish towel. Seriously.)

Here's the delicious scoop!
CATCHING LIAM by Sophia Bleu

Coming Summer 2013
New Adult Contemporary

Twenty-one year-old Jillian Nichols only has one rule when it comes to boys: catch and release. Boy-catching isn't just a game for Jillian and her friends, it's a lifestyle. After all, boys might be good for a dance or a drink and certainly a little under-cover action of the scandalous variety, but expect much else and you're bound for heart ache.

So when her best friends and fellow boy catchers start dropping like flies junior year, Jillian is determined to keep boys in her bedroom and out of her heart. Until she meets Liam McAvoy, the kind of guy that sticks around to make waffles and who can't—or perhaps won't—take a hint.

Study abroad student Liam doesn't want to be another notch on Jillian's bedpost. Actually he has much more interesting ideas for Jillian and her bedposts, but his student visa's set expiration date means he can't promise her forever. That doesn't mean he's going to walk away from the challenge of discovering why Jillian is hell-bent at keeping people at a distance.

Before long, neither is sure who is catching who—or if they're playing for keeps. Jillian knows one thing though: falling in love will not only break the only rule of boy-catching, it could also break her heart.
And the cover...

Sexy accent? Makes waffles? Lick your lips. And add this book on Goodreads.

To join in the tasty fun of CATCHING LIAM's Release Blitz by Xpresso Book Tours, sign up here.

About the author...
Sophia Bleu is a secret identity where I can write about fantasies and falling in love and all the smexiness in between.  In real life, I'm likely catching a plane, chasing kids, or making out with the love of my life—all 6 ft 3 inches of hotness that he is.  Life is pretty good.
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