November 24, 2010

A Chris-mouse Named "Hate"

Golly wockles, Blog, where have I been the past two weeks?  Well, in large part, working on my novel and crafting.  It's a blizzard of crafting here at Magic House as I prepare gifts for all the family members...all of which will be revealed here on the blog post-holiday, Blog.  But I can show you one gift, this here little Chris-mouse.

Davie spotted a similar mouse at Steins the other day for six bucks.  I said, "Jeez, Davie, I could so make you one!"  Davie said, "It's six bucks!"  I said, "I'll make you an even better one!"  Davie said, "Well...okay..."

As I live with Davie, it's not easy for me to make him surprise gifts, so I thought I'd have to go with this lame, non-surprise one.  Fortunately, however, last Saturday night he went to bed SUPER early, that is, earlier even than his usual time, so I took the opportunity to make him a rather cool surprise gift after all.  Hence I am able to show you this mouse and not even make a lame attempt to keep it sort of secret-y. 

As I was making the mouse, it went through a stage when it seemed like it might not turn out as cool as the one in the store, at least to Davie, who can't fathom my ability to craft things successfully 95% of the time.  He said, "The one in the store was only six bucks!  I'm going to hate this one.  In fact, I'm going to call him 'Hate.'" Now I know that seems alarming, but understand, Davie likes quirky names.

Of course, in the end, the mouse turned out like you see here.  It's groovy, IMHO.  It even has a weighted bottom so it won't tip over no matter how you pose its bendable belled tail.  And, as I had all the supplies I used already on hand, we saved six bucks.

Meanwhile, I am using this mouse as my submission for this month's Creativity Invitation Challenge, which was "Red."  I know it's a bit of a stretch, but I think this mouse explores the connotations of the color red.  Red, combined with a small bell, makes this a Chris-mouse with a festive air (even though he has the name 'Hate').  Even when the red is combined with charcoal gray (Davie's pick), rather than white or green or gold or silver, it still seems Christmas-y. 

So that, Blog, is my story, and I'm sticking to it.  Mostly I was happy with this project because it demonstrated that I can usually back up the statement "I could totally make you one of those," as my family members will learn about a month from now.  YAY!

November 10, 2010

Put yourself out there

Blog, today I've got a nugget of advice to share with my blog followers who are aspiring artists of any kind.  Yeah, it's those four words in the title of this post, and I'm living proof that if you put yourself out there as much as you can, something good always comes of it.

It's funny how life works.  You can push, push, push, with no results:  send out query letters, enter contests, buy advertising for your stuff, etc. and achieve nothing but a lot of rejections slips and flat website tracking on your Google Analytics charts.  But then out of the blue, from some little thing you did so long ago you forgot about it, big fat results occur.  In fact, it's likely you'll never even know what it was you did that brought those magical results!

Blog, let me illustrate with a few examples from my experience.

An Amazon bestseller

I started writing erotic romance fiction as Diana Laurence in 2004.  My first published book was the ebook version of Soulful Sex: Erotic Tales of Fantasy and Romance.  In 2004 I did an awful lot of things to try to promote my work, but nothing generated sales even close to one completely freakish fact:  When you searched for "erotic romance" in Amazon's ebook store, my book showed up right at the top.  I suppose that was due to the title, but I was never sure why.  Consequently though, that book was in the top ten romance ebooks sold on Amazon for 18 months.  (I like to think the fact that it was good and received an Eppie nomination--the Oscar of ebooks--helped, but to be honest, I don't know!)

A convention appearance

In 2005, when I was still just starting out writing romance, I got an email from the publisher of Romantic Times Book Review magazine, a very famous lady in the biz.  She wanted to know if I would appear on a panel on erotic romance at the upcoming annual convention that the publication sponsors, the best-attended in the romance field.  Trust me, Blog, among the names of those invited to appear at this con, I was absolutely an upstart.  To this day I don't know what I had done to attract the woman's attention, except that back then I tried to promote my books in every way I could, including blogging and doing guest essays and columns.  I may have given the impression I was more of an expert that was truly accurate....  But at any rate, appearing at the convention in Florida with those famous authors was quite a thrill.

Bad news becomes good

Also in 2005, my publisher went out of business, just as I was about to release the third volume of Soulful Sex stories.  Was I bummed?  You bet, Blog.  But on the advice of my publisher I decided my best course of action was to start publishing my books myself, ebooks and print books and all.  It was a lot of work at first, but all became worth it very fast.  My profits were suddenly like five times more per book I sold, plus I had complete control of editing, production, promotion and sales.  That bad news turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to my writing career.

A Google hit and handy coincidence

In 2007 when I released my novel Bloodchained, I encountered another fortuitous search engine situation.  At that time, when you googled "vampire romance," my book came up on the first page.  Why, I can't begin to guess.  However, by sheer coincidence, it was right about then that another vampire romance, Twilight, maybe you've heard of it, was becoming a hit.  So a whole lotta peeps were googling "vampire romance," Blog.  For a time that book sold even faster than Soulful Sex had.  I wish it still came up that high on Google....

One online essay, one sweet publishing deal

In 2009 I was contacted by a midsized independent publisher and invited to write a book for them on taming vampires.  The editor had searched on that term to find an author to flesh out the idea she had for a new title.  The search turned up an essay I had written years before for the Novelspot website.  My treatment of the subject matter impressed her.  I got the gig, and How to Catch and Keep a Vampire turned out to be the biggest book this publisher had ever tackled.  I earned a nice big advance, the book sold in countries all over the world, and it even got picked up by Target stores.  All because I wrote an essay and offered it for free to a website.

An email from China

This year I was contacted by a book agent in China about the translation and publishing rights for my Bloodchained books.  I still have no idea why she picked me and my books as having appeal in the People's Republic, Blog.  But I signed a contract and in no time flat she had found a publisher for both books.  I was paid royalties up front on the full press run for the two titles, quite a wonderful sum, especially when I didn't have to do any additional work!  And now I'll have my first titles translated into a foreign language...Chinese, of all things!

Just because I put myself out there, Blog.

internet phenomena and failed completely.  I've sent countless article proposals to magazines without a nibble.  I've won a few contests, but lost dozens.

It certainly seems that the harder I push, the fewer results follow...while when I'm just going along doing my regular writing thang, miracles drop from the sky.  Well, one clarification there, Blog:  I'm not saying laziness is the way.  I'm saying that you just have to keep doing things, putting your art out there wherever and however you can, like sewing seeds.  I've worked my butt off, in fact.  However, what amuses me no end is how success comes when I least expect it, and from the most surprising sources.

Aspiring artists out there in Blogland, keep on keepin' on!  Love what you're doing no matter what results you see, and someday something really amazing will happen to you.  You just watch.

November 6, 2010

My gift: "Gift of Flesh"

Blog, I haven't posted in what is sometimes referred to as "a coon's age."  And you know how old coons can get.  Anyway, I feel really guilty so I decided I needed to do something nice for our faithful readers.

Not everyone out there in Blogland (named, of course, after you, Blog) is aware, but I offer a number of my books for free via a little something called the LBR Press READ FREE Project.  It's some of my erotic romance stories, a couple less racy romances, and my Star Wars romance novel.  Yeah, you heard that right.  It's not like I can charge for it without R2D2 and C3PO's lawyers coming after me.  Anyhoo, they are offered free to be read online or downloaded in pdf and lit formats if you sign up.

However, the truly cool formats of today happen to be ePub (for nook, Kobo, Sony eReader, iPad, etc.) and Kindle.  So, just to make it up to our readers, I've just today published my uber-popular erotic romance novella Gift of Flesh in ePub and Kindle and you can download them from those very links!  (By the way, I discovered that in many cases a person downloaded the ePub version may find it arriving with a .zip extension.  Don't unzip it...just change "zip" in the file name to "epub" and you'll have a dandy epub book.)

In Gift of Flesh, Miakaela, who was raised as a concubine, now finds herself chosen by the Monarch of her land as a Gift of Flesh for a neighboring king. Envoy Naissun is commanded by that king to bring her safely through the rough journey to his harem. Tormented by his conscience and a growing affection for Miakaela, Naissun struggles to find a moral and practical answer to this quandary. But of course, first they must make it through the trip alive... In a medieval fantasy setting, two complex characters are torn: should they choose pragmatism and duty, or rebellion?

Enticing, eh Blog?  But wait...Blog, are you over 18?  Because you need to be before you download this novella.  That's something more than a coon's age, you know.

In the Library Reviews called Gift of Flesh "a riveting story with a thrilling conclusion."  Ecataromance said it was "a superb gift."  Fallen Angel Reviews called it "a story that will hold readers from the first word to the last."

And personally, I'm very fond of this story and of its two lovely protagonists.  I hope there are plenty of people out there with ebook readers (or just install the nook reader or the Kindle reader on your computer or smartphone for free) who will accept my repentant offering and download Gift of Flesh.  Meanwhile, you can also visit the LBR Press READ FREE Project to see the other free titles I offer there (online read, pdf or lit only).

And I promise not to let another coon's age pass before I post again, Blog!  Or I may have to offer MORE free nook and Kindle stories!  Not that there's anything wrong with that...