Friday, December 30, 2011

Give Aways Galore - The New Years Hop!

2012 is almost upon us.  I hope you're all as excited for the new year as I am.  I think this year is going to be fantastic.  Call it intuition, call it stepping away from reality - call it whatever you want.  I'm throwing the good vibe out there.  2011 was the year of working hard and putting foundations in place both in my personal life and in my writing.  I'm hoping 2012 will be the year for all of us to enjoy success in whatever our endeavors because - hey, it's  The Year of the Dragon

...And while you're here - let's get to the give away....
Enter to win a first edition, hard copy of Stephen King's "The Tommyknockers".  

There are two ways to enter:
1)  A comment on any post on this blog gets you one entryLimit one entry via comments.
2)  For an additional three entries - Include, at the end of your comment the word newsletter to sign up for my newsletter "The Walkabout" - which only occasionally, 3 or 4 times a year, arrives in your inbox with my author news and some entertaining stories, facts or other contests. 
And if you're already a subscriber - no worries and thanks - enter newsletter along with your comment and you'll get your three entries.
Make sure that if your profile link doesn't have an e-mail address, that you include it!

And when you're done - start hopping to all the blogs listed below that all have a prize of their own.  Hop like crazy from now through January 3 and good luck!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Memories of Christmas Passed

The remains of Christmas lay everywhere.  From the half eaten cheese ball that someone forgot to put in the refrigerator that has now hit the garbage bin, to the bag of wrapping paper that needs to head back down to the basement for a twelve-month rest.  The evidence that Christmas has passed on by is everywhere.

But it's on my walk where I see some more interesting remnants of Christmas.

First, there's the nativity scene that decorates a garbage bin.  Now, that alone wouldn't be so interesting except for the fact that the occupants of that house are nuns and their only outside decorations seem to be that garbage bin.

Then there's the sign - freshly put out, I know for there isn't a day I don't walk this route.  I'm more regular than the mail carrier for they at least take Saturday and Sunday off. But the sign - "Found One Large Brown Dog,"that's new and it makes me stop.  Apparently there were some unexpected gifts under someone's tree.  It leaves me to hope that the poor chap - the large brown dog, found his home because he's obviously not in the home of dog people.  For dog people would have had a more accurate description - part lab, all poodle, curly, chestnut colour, appears to love chips - friendly or he's snarling in our back yard or...

And the ending to this year's Christmas, click here if you missed it all.  Well, my niece, in her youthful exuberance, thought that it ended in grand fashion.  Of course, she was not the one sliding through the mess in her Christmas socks.  Instead she was in charge of keeping the too young and the too old out of the mess.  A rather fun job - when all it involved was a cue stick and a game or two or three of pool.  So I think I may pass on her request for another unexpected ending for next year - not unless she's talking about something a little easier to clean up - like fireworks.

So Christmas 2011 - is done.  All that's left are the leftovers - boxes of chocolates at every corner.  And I don't know about you but I'm done too - at least for the next day or two.

It's in the little things - that the kernels for another story slowly arise.  


The Give Away Hop for New Years 2012 is only days away.  Check back because not only will I have other links to blogs with great prizes - at Once Upon a Time... there will be a chance to win a first edition hard copy of Stephen King's The Tommyknockers.  It all starts December 30!

Monday, December 26, 2011

It Was All Too Much - For the Christmas Socks!

My Christmas socks have survived many Christmases and are my second favourite pair of socks next to my Halloween socks.  And then it happened...

Christmas day started fine with a visit to my fave aunt.  And it continued right through an afternoon visit with another group of family - then, move on to the evening, and another family group.  Yes, three houses - one day, no one said Christmas was for the faint of heart!  But it's all fun.  At least it was right through Christmas supper and into that first game of pool and then, well, then the Christmas socks met a fate they didn't expect.

A plumbing nightmare - on Christmas night, is, while not worst case scenario - it's sure up there.  Sewer backups are not what anyone wants to think about.  In fact, it definitely puts a bit of a damper on the ho ho ho.  More like yuk yuk yuk.  And as far as a family bonding experience, I wouldn't recommend it.  But we survived the night - but first we put the plumber in the phoning queue.

Sadly, I have to report - the socks did not, survive - it was just all, too much. 

Hope your holidays are holding up a tad better than my socks!

And the New Year's Blog Hop - is only days away...
Tons of blog give aways and I'll be announcing with tomorrow's what this blog's prize will be!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Revenge of the Christmas Tree

It seems with the days running out until Christmas, New Years, a mitt full of birthdays, a story deadline and...did I forget when I really get my second wind.  The end on my latest story has powered up and finally decided to make it over the finish.  Something about, there's only so much time left (my own deadline of course), that really gets me going.  And it's not just that one book that finally kicked into gear and began trundling over the finish line.

I've done it!  The Christmas Tree (tree is capitalized because I sense for all it's lack of size, it demands it) is finally up.  And in our house - that's a big feat.  So big in fact, that everyone else took a nap until the task was done.

But I finally wrestled it out of the basement (not that it's of any size that I could brag about that match).  Of course it had the last laugh.  Doesn't it always?  And as always, it was in regards to the Christmas lights.  They never go on properly.  I should upgrade, I know.  But if I do change out the lights that means the tree goes and I suspect that this particular tree - well, it just might come back.

Okay, seriously, maybe not but I've gotten rather fond of the little "Charlie Brown" creature.  See, it almost feels like it's alive even though it's the most fake of fake.  No name yet - I haven't gone over the edge on trees, yet.  

 I suppose I can console myself with the thought that David Suzuki would be proud.  It definitely doesn't reek of commercialism.  In fact, I'm not quite sure if it reeks of anything. 

So with four days left until Christmas I'm finally in the mood and decorating.  And it's really rather nostalgic as I pull out decorations and am reminded of a friend who passed away way too early and gave me a Christmas decoration each Christmas.  Maybe she was trying to tell me something.  And I can only guess what it might be and wish she were here.  I suppose that's some of the lure of this time of year - the joy meshed with the memories.  For my memories of her are good, and while a little sad, it feels right to remember.

But now it's back to the moment.  The Christmas tree is happily alight and there's one last present to wrap.  I got a little crazy with the glue this year.  Yep, no just tape and ribbon for me.  Not when there's craft glue, streamers and fake rhinestones available. I suppose my tree doesn't say much - or maybe it says a lot, but the gift wrap.... now that says everything.

As I peel my sock from my foot and wipe off the glue that stuck it there in the first place I ask - what gets you motivated?


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Touch That Keyboard And I'll Hack Your Fingers Off

I unwrapped the garland from around my neck and pulled a piece of tape off the bottom of my foot and hobbled to my computer with a half-wrapped present in hand only to find this - "It's My Story Touch it and Die!"

Okay - possibly it wasn't that drastic but the other day I was foraging - yes, I love that term.  It sounds rather like you were wandering through a meadow instead of doing what I was really doing which was cruising the web.  And there I ran into the topic of editing. 

I was surprised to read how many aspiring writers were sure that to remain true to their own voice they should not liberally edit.  Now, I suppose liberally editing isn't a good thing but sometimes one has to rip and tear at a story to find the heart of it - what was good in the beginning that got lost in the fog of the actual writing.   But I was seeing no such inclinations instead there were comments like:
"I know the characters intimately and this is their story."
"Editing will destroy the voice."
"You're the author.  It's your story."
"If you listen to everyone you'll never stop editing."

Yikes, as a reader I sure hope you're editing and a lot. I've read more books than I want to count that could have used a liberal editor. Too bad they didn't get one and as a result I more than likely won't pick up that author's books again.

Edits. As a reader I'll thank you.

Open to other views.

If you want to succeed, you have to be open to edits, ideas and sometimes - that means a whole lot of rewriting.  It's still your story - it's still the characters' story.  But I'm betting if you hold the old up against the new you'll see a much stronger copy than you had the first time around.

Ripping a story apart isn't a bad thing. In fact, sometimes - I'd actually call it fun.

New Year's Blog hop is only days away!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

You Sold How Many Books?

The other day I ran into "the one".  You know the one?  The one author who wrote the book - and it soared through the ceiling that marks best seller from the others.  The author who not only broke that ceiling but went on to launch a few rockets into the stratosphere of sales.  It gets better though, let's up the ante.  Not only did the book do all that and, of course, win an award but it was self-published.  But back to self-published - think of it - after operation costs - all that lovely cash yours, no royalty splits for anything or anyone.  While I still want the conventional publisher - it's the sales that had me slack-jawed.  Twenty-thousand books sold - well above the five thousand required in Canada to be a best seller.  Good thing this author was a talker because I was speechless

So while I gathered my wits, the author says to me - they'd like to do better - better, as in crack the US market.  Yes, you read right - numbers like that and they'd only focused on the Canadian market.   That brought forth the question - what was my experience in the US market.  It was rather a reverse case scenario - although my numbers in sales can't even compare.  I remember in the early days, when my first book was published, trying to determine the best way to crack another market, the Canadian.  Yes, I am a Canadian writer published by an American small press which is an anomaly that Canadian bookstores are mostly not prepared to work with - but that's, another story.  Anyway, as I remembered my trials, I realized that I did indeed have information that might help.

Back to the author in front of me who was commanding a book signing - one of many in the past year, and while I felt pleasure at their success, it also shadowed the not-best seller status of my own endeavors and those of the majority of other authors.  Most of us never get the extra zero required to make anyone's bestseller list or to take sales into the thousands - not the small press and indie authors and that's not for lack of trying.

I won't deny this author's sales success - in another life they should have been a salesperson.  Of course, in this life, I guess they are.  I know they sold a book to me.  A book that I normally wouldn't have bought.  But I'm a sucker for that, author signings - I can't leave the author alone as most of them are, of course, this author does not fall into the most category.  And as the American Idol saying goes - Good on Them.

This author reminded me of two things - the importance of having a reader platform and the importance of believing in your self and selling yourself.  You're not just an author - you're a salesperson and until you learn that last role - barring luck, the latest replacement to the Oprah show, a dazzling story that receives instant recognition and an awesome marketing department, those extra zeros are just never going to happen.  I tell myself that this author had an advantage - and they do.  In this case there was an existing platform, a person who was known by many in the province and thus the word of mouth game snowballs.  But all that would not hold for long if this wasn't a good story combined with a fine job of working hard and selling yourself.  It was a motivational encounter - really - and reminded me that to succeed you've got to reach high because while there's no guarantee of getting to the top, reaching is definitely going to take you a step higher than where you are.

So good luck I say to said author as I leave with a signed copy of the first of a series under my arm.   But I really don't know if they need luck for they've found the truth sooner than most of us. 

No matter what your goal - sweat isn't just the domain of athletes.