Monday, December 31, 2012

It's New Year's Eve! Time to Clean the House. . .

Hi all!

I trust you are having an excellent New Year's Eve. Me? I'm finishing up my semi-annual 'Spring' cleaning. It's tradition in my family, it may be my culture, to clean the entire house from top to bottom, do all the laundry and to take down the Christmas décor. The overall goal is to never take clutter and unnecessary things into the New Year. It's supposed to be bad luck.
I don't know about all that, but every year, like clock work, I go on a back breaking, deep cleaning house tour.

The best thing - on New Year's Day, I can do whatever I want. It's usually nothing related to house keeping.

In addition to my manual labor, all morning I've been thinking of resolutions. So far, it's about five of them, but I'm hoping that I can maintain them throughout the year. I'll be sure to keep you posted!

  1. To be mindful of other's time - since I can be a little lax, I will ensure that when others are involved to be a bit more timely.
  2. To write more - My muse can be a bit lax as well. I will tame her this year and set aside time to write each day. At least a hundred words a day.
  3. To be more social - writers are introverts by nature. It can be difficult to maintain a social life. I will be sure to get out of the house at least once a month. And not just for drinking!
  4. To be more healthful - I'm going to limit my fast food to twice a week or less.
  5. To let the people that I love 'see' that I love them - after all, love is an action word.
Hopefully, I 'll keep to this. And you'll keep to yours, as well!

The best thing about this blog is it gave me a much needed break from my cleaning. :-)

Be sure to comment and leave me your resolutions, or traditions, and thank you for dropping by today.

All best, and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, Baby!

This won't be a long post, considering most of us are in carbohydrate-stupors right now. While you're here, let me share a few of my highest ranking wishes, and I hope you'll share some of yours as well.

  1. I wish the families of Newtown, victims and survivors, peace. May they feel the arms of love and prayers from all over the world tonight.
  2. I pray for peace. The world is a pretty scary place at times and I hope that one day, it becomes a little less horrifying.
  3. I hope that the people who believed in the Mayan prophecy didn't spend all their money and are able to have a good laugh about it now.
  4. I wish all the children of the world a wonderful holiday with food, shelter and love.
  5. I wish the lawmakers joy and rest, so that they may prevent the fiscal cliff from consuming us all.
Maybe, the Mayan prophecy was all about the fiscal cliff. Hmmm. . .

Anyway, to all of you, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

From my family to yours.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Fun with Blog Tours!

There are so many wonderful books being released this month and along with them, awesome blog tours!  For instance, one of my Soul Mate Siblings (we used to say Soul Mate Sisters, but now we have men! Hooray!) has a wonderful Christmas story available.

Winter's Magic by Cynthia Gail.
Winter's Magic

Guess what else? Her 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway is going on right now!

Among other things, you can win a copy of our Christmas anthology, A Soulmate for Christmas!

Take a moment to visit her site and play to win!

And don't forget to visit my Upcoming Events tab to find out where I am right now!

Have fun and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NaNoWriMo: An Exercise in Endurance. . . and Insanity

At this very moment, there are a few hundred thousand (I'm guessing. There is nothing scientific in that number.) are sitting on our beds, in our living rooms, at a cool steel table in a local greasy spoon and writing our hearts out. For the month of November has been dubbed the month of crazy, or National Novel Writing Month. It's a time when so many of us attempt to get 50,000 words on paper.

It may not be coherent or logical and in some cases, is a serious of multiple stories. But the point is to sit your butt down and to get your fingers on those keys.
I've only made it once. When I did, I was elated and couldn't stop talking about it. It was similar to the feeling that runners get when they finish a marathon - I would imagine, since I've only been on binge eating marathons before. :-)

For the next 15 days (we should have about 25,000 words on paper so far - I only have 15,000), I will scramble for my life to catch up, by any means necessary. I may miss the Twilight opening, I may not clean my house for several more days, but I vow to kick NaNoWriMo's ass once more this month.

Wish me luck! And it's perfectly fine to call me a crazy ass for taking a fool's mission! And to all you other NaNo-ers

In case you want to know more, take a look at their site or review on Twitter with hashtag #NaNoWriMo!

 Oh, and I have a short story coming out this month! A SoulMate for Christmas is an anthology featuring 5 (including me) wonderful authors from Soul Mate Publishing.

Stay tuned for the buy link and our Blog Tour to celebrate the release. I'm excited and I hope you are too.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Disarmed - Book Trailer

I wanted to share with everyone my new book trailer. It's very snazzy, thanks to Novel Prevue for putting it together for me.

I hope you like it, and more importantly, buy/read/love the book in December.

Published by Soul Mate Publishing.

"...You" Titles

I'm not sure about you guys, but I have been loaded down this month of October with '...You" titles. It's really all a little bit odd, if you think about it. Makes me almost want to do a Google search of all the NYT Bestsellers that have had something-something You as a title.

Titles don't routinely attract me to a particular novel, and I've never courted a book based on name alone. Oh no, my approach is a little more scientific than that (involves a Ouija board and cauldron). Except for this month. Having just finished 'Reflected In You' by Sylvia Day, I think I was on the hunt for something similar and found "Down To You" by M. Leighton.

This post isn't meant to discuss whether these books were good or bad (although both get a thumbs up from me), but more what's in a title. Lately, it seems that we authors play a little game by questioning what is something distinctive about a very popular book and we play that up in our own work. Not necessarily the theme of the story or the characters, but something more cosmetic - the opulent rich shit of the male lead shown on the cover (cuff links, Mardi Gras masks, titanium key chains, etc), or a really hot guy's chest - and play it up. I'm willing to bet that there are times when titles are designed to be similar in order to attract the readers attention. I know, some of you publishing-marketing type folks are saying "DUH!". Forgive me, but I'm a little slower than some folks, especially after two days of intense editing and an all out, near cold-turkey coffee avoidance (down from 3 cups to 1 cup a day).

So, let's play a game. I'll take old titles (the more classic the better), add "To You", "In You", or "On You" to the title and you let me know if that makes you want to read it more, and in the event that you have read it, whether the 'new' title makes you want to read it again?

Let's begin, shall we?

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
New Title: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings In You

To Kill A Mockingbird
New Title: To Kill A Mockingbird On You

New Title: Dracula In You (I personally want to read that one!)

The Grapes of Wrath
New Title: The Grapes of Wrath To You

New Title: Beowulf On You

Kind of makes you think, doesn't it? Oh, if only these books were written in these modern days of technology (and happened to be romantic fiction).

Until next time,  read a good You book!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Twisted Fairy Tales

As a small girl, one of the things that framed my perception of romance was fairy tale princesses.  I was enamored with them all, especially the Disney’s – but there were some others that were priceless.  The Princess and the Pea, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, just name one and I loved her. I even have some of the dolls.  My very favorites are Princess Tiana (The Princess and the Frog) and Princess Belle (Beauty and the Beast), a close third is Princess Fiona (Shrek).
Red Riding Hood Poster
I think we’re all pretty used to remakes of stories like these.  I mean, they represent the quintessential romance.  Both in cartoons and movies, it’s not uncommon to run across these plots.  I was initially dismayed when I say the odd looking version of Little Red Riding Hood, obviously I’m referring to Red Riding Hood.  I am fully aware that Red is not a princess, so it didn’t bother me that much and there’s a wolf in it… ‘nuff said.
But now, there’s a movie called Sleeping Beauty, which premeired at Cannes. It was released some time ago, however, I only just recently had an opportunity to review it.  Sleeping Beauty, rather Princess Aurora has long been an underrated classic.  It was, after all, about time for the world to have another gem of a movie based on a regal and delicate flower.  Who better than Sleeping Beauty to enchant us as her sweet prince awakens her with true love’s kiss?
Julia Leigh is an enterprising, new director and screenwriter, and her first movie is about none other than our fair maiden, Sleeping Beauty.  Well, that’s the title anyway.  It is not about a damsel in distress, asleep in the woods on a pedestal after finding herself the victim of an enchanted apple, no , no, no.  This movie is about as far from the fairy tale as could be.
From a 50,000 foot level, a young college student named Lucy (Emily Browning of Suckerpunch) is trying desperately to balance living expenses and caring for a friend that is an ex-drug addict.  She eventually lands a job as a silver server, and dreams of one day becoming a Sleeping Beauty.  No, really, that’s the job title.  It involves heavy sedation and apparently, copious amounts of nudity latent with sexual overtures throughout the course of the movie.  I’m not spoiling, even though many of the reviewers are, but it is indeed a twisted tale.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I remember this story.  Further, I’m not sure if I’m okay with it.  I mean, isn’t there enough mess out there with which to contend besides the dressing down of the few available

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dark Craving Excerpt - Donna Grant

In my last post, I gave you the heads up on the Donna Grant three part novella.

Well, you won't believe what I have in store for you today. Wait for it... wait for it... An excerpt of the story is posted below. I know you love me and think I'm awesome! The feeling's mutual.

Take a gander and don't forget that the previous post contains the link to the three day extravaganza on Heroes and Heartbreakers. And now, without further delay, Dark Craving for you reading enjoyment!  

Dark Craving Excerpt

Who was Hal, and why was he stocking her kitchen?

            Alice’s smile grew. “Follow the chopping, and get ready for an eyeful. I’ve been watching him all morning.”

            Cassie didn’t have time for another question before Alice was gone. With nothing else to do, she threw back the covers and then stopped as she noticed her bare legs. Had this Hal taken off her jeans?

            She gingerly stood and made her way to the flight of stairs where the bedrooms turned out to be. It didn’t take her long to find where her one lone piece of luggage had been taken.

            After she donned a pair of sweatpants and socks and combed out her hair, Cassie walked back down the stairs and did as Alice suggested—followed the chopping.

            She rounded a corner and found herself peering out a dining room that was all glass. It looked more like a sunroom than a dining room, and the views of the mountains were staggering.

            Or at least they might be if she could tear her eyes away from Hal.

            He stood well over six feet, his long black hair pulled back in a queue at his neck while sweat rolled down his face. Thick black brows slashed over his eyes, eyes she wished she knew the color of.

            His face was all angles and rugged handsomeness. A dusty coating of whiskers covered his square jaw and chin, but even the whiskers didn’t hide the slight indent in his chin.

            He had a wide forehead and a long straight nose. And his lips . . . Cassie had trouble swallowing as she caught sight of his mouth. No man should have lips so wide and thin, so damned seductive.

            A jacket and sweater were discarded on the back of a wooden chair, leaving Hal in nothing but a skintight white tee that showed every wonderful muscle.

            With each move, each swing of the axe, she watched the play of muscles in his back and arms. The blade of the axe cut through the wood as easily as a hot knife through butter. Cassie was mesmerized watching him.

            It wasn’t just his amazing body or his good looks, there was something different about him that Cassie had never seen in a man. Something that would set him apart in a crowd of thousands.

            As if he realized he was being watched, Hal halted just as he was about to bring the axe down again and turned his head. Their gazes locked, and Cassie felt all the air rush from her lungs.

            For several moments they simply stared at one another before he sent her a grin and went back to chopping. It didn’t seem right to continue staring at him, so Cassie turned away and hurried into the kitchen only to discover it was nearly noon.

            “Duke, I’ve slept the entire morning away,” she said in alarm.

            With everything Hal had done, the least she could do was fix him lunch. Cassie grabbed her coat from a hook near the door and shrugged it on as she stuffed her feet into her boots.

            She walked outside and huddled into the jacket as the brisk January wind hit her full in the face. Duke raced past her and bounded around Hal.

            He laughed and rubbed Duke before he tossed the blade into a stump as if weighed nothing and turned to her.

            Being this close to him did something to Cassie. Maybe it was because she was hungry and still exhausted from the day before, but it was as if she couldn’t get her balance, as if the world kept tilting beneath her feet.

            “I hear I owe you my thanks,” she said.

            His mouth twisted in a half smile. “I did what anyone would.”

            She had never thought the Scottish brogue sounded appealing until that moment. His deep, almost gravelly voice made goose bumps race over her body. He could read from an accounting book and she’d listen to him. Avidly.

            “I didn’t know there was a code, and I couldn’t get a hold of Dan.”

            “He gave it to us a few years ago in case there was ever an emergency.”

            Cassie chuckled. “Thank God he did.”

            “I’m Hal.”

            “Cassie,” she said, amazed at how breathless she sounded.

            Just from being this close to him. Was it his brogue, his eye-catching body, or was it something more that caused the world to fade to nothing around him?

            Silence stretched between them. Cassie cleared her throat. “I apologize for sleeping away the morning. Yesterday was probably the worst day of my life.”

            “Ah, you slept all of yesterday, lass. This is your second morning here.”

            Cassie snorted, wondering if the frozen ground could open up and swallow her. “Of course it is.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear that the wind kept blowing into her face. “Thank you for having Alice bring the groceries. I can pay you for that.”

            “No need.”

            “I think I owe you my life. Let me fix you some lunch at least.”

            He smiled once more, making her stomach flutter as if a thousand butterflies took flight inside her.

            “That sounds good. Let me finish up here. Dan didna leave you with much firewood, and with the weather we’ll be having, you’re going to need it.”

            “I’ll see you inside then.”

            It wasn’t until Cassie was walking away that she remembered she was an awful cook. The only thing she could manage without burning it was a sandwich.

            She hastily looked through the small pantry and fridge and found different deli meats and cheeses that she cut up and laid out along with bread and mayo and mustard. There was a bag of chips, which she also put on the table.

            “They’re crisps,” she said after reading the label. “I need to remember that.”

            A glance outside showed Duke was still with Hal, so Cassie rushed upstairs and jumped into the shower. The hot water felt wonderful, as did washing her hair and scrubbing her body. Then she quickly blow-dried her hair.

            Unable to resist, she put a dab of blush on her cheeks before she put on a fresh pair of jeans and her thickest sweater over a long-sleeve shirt, which wasn’t nearly thick enough for the weather.

            She walked downstairs rubbing her hands together from the chill of the house only to come up short when she found Hal standing in the kitchen munching on a slice of meat, Duke at his feet.

            “If that’s the warmest sweater you have, lass, I fear you need to do some shopping.”

            She pulled her gaze away from his amazing pale, pale blue eyes and glanced down at her soft pink sweater and nodded. “I know. I was hoping to make it through winter with what I had. I have a few more sweaters I was able to get before I came, but my luggage was lost.”

            “Maybe they’ll find your luggage soon. Either way, you need more sweaters and a thicker coat as well as gloves and scarves. A hat would also be wise.”

            Cassie sighed as the dollar signs continued to add up in her mind. “I’ll get on that as soon as I can. Thank you for letting me know.”

            “Dan should have told you.”

            Yes, he should have, but Cassie wasn’t going to rag on her brother to a complete stranger. Yet, this stranger seemed to know Dan pretty well.

            “Dan is . . . well, he’s so busy with . . . things,” she finished lamely. “Are you hungry? I’m famished.”

            “Then let’s eat.”

            Cassie hadn’t found any coffee, and she was in desperate need of caffeine, so she grabbed a soda from the fridge and told Hal to help himself.

            He spoke of the weather and the snow they were expecting to get over the next few days while they fixed their sandwiches and ate. Cassie found herself relaxed around him, even if she was more aware of him as a man.

            A very virile, very handsome man.

Wanna see more? The novella itself will run on 7/23 - 7/26! Don't miss out. It's sure to be quite a thrill ride! Until next time, Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Donna Grant's Dark Craving at Heroes and Heartbreakers

So, what's smoking hot, otherworldely and smoking hot? 
And so good that I had to say 'smoking hot' twice?
Give up? It's the new Donna Grant novella.

Donna Grant and Heroes and Heartbreakers have put together an exciting event that will take place July 23 - July 26. It's an exclusive, three part Dark King story for lovers of this series and PNR.  I personally can't wait to dig in, and I know you can't either.

While you're over there, take a look around as some of the other fabulous excerpts, news from the world of romance and book reviews.

Click here on 7/23 - 7/26 for more, more, more!

Dark Craving by Donna Grant

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Keeping It All Together: Organization Tips for Writers – Part II

Well, after springing my laptop from the hospital (geek squad), I am finally able to post the second section of this post.  In the first part, we focused on Initiation – which serves as the launch for your project.
In this portion, we will cover Planning and Execution.
Step 2: Planning
This may require a little practice before diving right in.  You’ll find that it will become easier  over time, much like your writing, and you will kind of know better in advance what’s needed down the road.
Think about things like:
·         Time – So, we said that our hypothetical project will require us to write 2709 words a week.  When are you going to do that? All in one day – Saturday morning in your writing cave? That may not be realistic if you have a touchy muse that usually shows up at midnight.  Set a realistic time schedule for your writing and then stick to that. No matter what happens.  This will work better is you consider everything that you have to do in a day first and select the least busy time.
·         Research – I don’t know of any author that doesn’t do research.  With that in mind, time should be allotted for you to accomplish this task in your project.  Will all of your research be internet based, or will you actually have to travel to another location?  Do you need to do a ride along with a cop for your crime thriller?  If your locale is fictional, make time to draft a map of your hero and heroine’s town/country/world.  This is exceptionally useful for series.  Trust me, your readers want you to paint a vivid picture, and adequate research will help you do just that.
·         Risks – What could and will likely go wrong over the course of this project? Identify those issues and find ways to mitigate that risk.  For instance, if you are taking a month long workshop later in the year and that happens to be around the time that you plan to edit, you may need to widen the amount of time allotted for the editing tasks in the event that you have vast amounts of homework.
·         Submissions– What is the lead-time for submitting the first three chapters to a publisher or agent? When would you like to do this? After the first session of edits? Consider also that you may not want to submit an incomplete manuscript, so don’t make it too early in the life of the project.
In this stage, you will want to firm up that commitment that you are making to yourself in this endeavor.  All of the tasks should have a time bound deliverable on them.  The most difficulty is presented in meeting them.  If you have timeline issues, admit that to yourself and make sure that you identify that by giving yourself enough rope so that one missed deadline doesn’t compromise the whole project.

Incorporate all of these identified tasks and issues/risks into the earlier project plan.  In step 1, you have clearly stated what you want to happen overall.  This section should include all the steps necessary to accomplish the overall goals. 
Step 3: Execution
Here, we focus on the final steps before publication or acceptance by a publisher.  This step takes into consideration that you have completed your novel, on time or perhaps even earlier depending on how diligent you are.  You will still need to plan for these action items.  You may want to think about a few of them prior to completion of the novel, but they absolutely must be accomplished by the time you publish.  Following submission, you will need something to do while waiting to hear back from all those editors and publishers that are reviewing your manuscript.
You have probably heard all of this in the past, considering you most likely found your way here by some social networking site or through another author friend’s referral.  I’ll list them again because it never hurts to revisit good information.
1.       Establish a presence on the internet: Beyond just Twitter and Facebook, have you joined a local chapter of RWA or an author website such as Savvy Authors?  You probably aren’t surprised that networking in the author community is extremely important.  Not only do you stand a chance to learn something from the people that you encounter, it also lends to your online presence.  This is a necessity, especially now days when publishers ask you to include your social networking URLs in your query.  While establishing your presence, be sure to consider the following:
a.       Always be pleasant and approachable.
b.      Dedicate time for networking, even if it’s only ten minutes a day.
c.       Don’t spam! People hate that. Make sure that every link that you post has some value to not only you, but others as well.
d.      Don’t beg or appear desperate for people to read your blog or follow you.  If you are relevant, pleasant and personable, people will eventually stop by your blog and follow/like you.
e.      Don’t email or direct message people your entire backlist.  If they have just followed you,  they don’t know you to want your book.
f.        Build relationships, not followers. Be sure to get to know the person for who they are and not as simply as another person to add to your list.  It will come through in your communications with them.
2.       Blogging is another good way to build your brand.  It gives people an opportunity to see who you are and to hear your voice.  It doesn’t have to be ten page long posts.  Most people like to read about 600 words per post.  Obviously, I’m slightly over that mark in this one.
3.       Set up a website that looks professional. It should represent your sense of style and how you want to be seen by your audience.   If you write for more than one genre, perhaps you would want more than one website. Be sure to include the varied ways to obtain your books. Be sure to link it to your Twitter, FaceBook and Blog sites.
4.       Finally, consider new ways to market your work.  There are apps that you can set up for mobile devices and many other new ideas that you may find fits into your brand concept.
Just like in the other portions of your plan, be sure to set up ample time for any and all tools that you decide to employ. 
Of course, none of this means anything if you don’t follow the schedules that you’ve set in this plan.  You have to dedicate the time if you intend to be successful.  This is simply a way of organizing it so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. 
My best advice is that you should set aside an hour or two each day, which are dedicated to getting your work done, regardless of what section that you happen to be on at the time.
Once you have a clear path of what needs to be accomplished, you’ll feel as if you have more time and you will be able to fit in some of the other more fun things that you may be missing without organization.
I hope this helps you as much as it did me.  I’m still new to it but I do feel like I have a better handle on my writing career than before.
Feel free to leave me questions or comments here.
Until next time, take care of yourself.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Keeping It All Together - Organizational Tips for Writers

One of the most difficult things that I have had to contend with since becoming a ‘nearly’ published author is juggling both my careers, dealing with a college aged daughter, a mate, a pubescent young man, and all of this blogging/tweeting/Facebooking/marketing madness is finding the time to fit it all in.  I sat down last month to think about creating a successful career as an author, and the implications that would-be success would have on my daily life.  Realistically, I don’t think that I will be able to walk away my day job anytime soon.  With the ever-changing world of publishing and your prosperity as an author depending on how much positive ‘noise’ can be generated about the project and the sheer strength of your backlist, lots of time and work must be dedicated to the promotion of your author brand.  That means that I will have to continue this hectic merry-go-round of marketing, blogging, social networking, and of course, writing if I ever hope to one day become the next Nora Roberts or J.R. Ward.
What does that mean for me, and more importantly, you?  It means that we will have to become more organized as authors, carefully planning our days so that we can attain a positive work/life balance and maximize efficiency.  With two kids, two jobs and all the ups, downs and changes that accompany them – we have to learn how to work smarter.  Sounds cliché, I know, but truer words have never been spoken.
Fortunately, I have worked on many a project during my day job and along the way have picked up a thing or three.  To help explain and provide realistic tips that can be easily employed in daily tasks, I have broken this out into three sections: Initiation, Planning, and Execution.  Whether you set up an Excel worksheet, utilize a notes organization system or simply set up a Word document to keep track of all these items is completely up to you.  Just make sure that it is a system that you will refer to often. When I say often I mean daily – hourly – and if needed, every thirty minutes. That may be a slight exxageration, but you have no idea how much of a procrastinator that I can be.
Step 1: Initiation
Let us look at building a house.  Any contractor will tell you that a new house is only as good as its foundation.  Why would anything else be different? We prepare for everything in the world that is important to us, and you have to take your novel just as seriously.
Start by writing your storyline.  I am aware that some of you may be a pantser vs. a plotter but you can still note the general theme of your story, the main characters, what’s important to them as a character and the location of your story.  For you plotters, this is right up your alley.  Take your time and really explore your character.  Maybe do an interview with them from the standpoint of a therapist (someone gave me that really great idea and it helped a lot in character development).
Next, determine how long story to be, in terms of word count.  If you don’t know, there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a fictitious goal.  One of the things that I like to do is figure out what publishing house I am submitting to and read their current submission calls.  Even if I don’t end up submitting to that publisher, this practice gives me a good starting point.
Make a list of all the agents and publishers that you are interested in submitting your MS to for consideration.  Also, add any editors that you know of who work at each publishing house, so that you may address them directly when submitting.
You should also draft out a timeline for completion of the project.  This is directly dependent on whether you have a time imposed by a third party or if you are simply working towards your own specific drop dead date.  For instance, if I want to finish a 65K word work by December 31st and I am starting this project on July 1st, I will need to complete a total of 2709 words a week (65000/24 weeks = 2708.3333).  These timelines will serve as your project goals, with the deliverable being a finished novel.
Be sure to add in the important milestones for your project.  Perhaps you want to review your work during week 12, which would be the halfway mark in the aforementioned timeline. Maybe you want to query an editor or agent with a book proposal during that time, since you would know by that time whether or not the story still fits the needs of the originally targeted publisher or agent.  Perhaps you want to begin editing at week 18 or forward your work to your critique group.  These milestones are a good way to determine if you will meet your goals or if the project is in jeopardy.
When thinking of your overall project goals, be sure that all of them are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.  I’ll go a little more in-depth on each of these.  Each task or goal should be specific – meaning that you should not say “I am going to write 10 books by the end of the year.” Instead, you would want to figure out exactly what types of books you are interested in writing for the year – “I will write 1 paranormal romance, full length and 1 short story by 12/31…” and work exclusively on those.  Measurable goals, meaning that you should be able to measure your progress made towards completion of each project.  This should be easy since we all seem to track our word count.  Your goals should be Attainable – don’t tell plan to write Gone With The Wind in two weeks, if you know that it takes you four months to write a blog post.  Set Realistic goals; don’t add unnecessary stress in your life. Don’t overdo it with tasks and milestones that are outside of your capabilities and will only serve to make you feel overwhelmed.  Finally, time bound goals give you something to shoot for in the grand scheme of things.  Give yourself enough time to complete your goals, and the project as a whole, without adding undue pressure.
To recap, the initiation stage of your project should entail drafting the following:
·         Working Title,
·         Character(s) and any tool to develop those characters,
·         Prospective Editors/Agents that would be interested in this work,
·         Project Timeline, and
·         Project Milestones
For those of you who currently work in or have worked in Corporate America, you may recognize this as the beginning phase of a project plan. 
Please watch for Wednesday’s post, which will contain Steps 2 (Planning) and 3 (Execution).
Feel free to ask me questions either here or on Twitter.
Thanks and see you tomorrow!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ex-Husbands - The Things They Leave Behind

Hello Everyone!

I don't think I had an opportunity to share that I am a divorcee.  No, no. Don't be sad for me.  I happily traded him in for a new, happier life.  With that being said, there were a few things that he left with me that make it all worth it.  The first are my children.  They are darling and I wouldn't trade them for a million golden coins.

The next is, well, slightly more intangible.  It was a deep appreciation for the God of Thunder! Thor and his world became a part of mine. Everything from comic books to collectibles, I have been hooked for the last decade on this gentle giant, who at times can be a bit naive.

As with any of my heroes, I worry about the on-screen translation of this literary masterpiece. Ahem... masterfully conceived, that is.  Who would play him? How would this person manage to become the God, and godly mannerisms, of all that is Thor?

Well, hells bells! Hollywood responded with Chris Hemsworth. Oh ho ho! No problem there.
And who would be the the Heimdall - Guardian of the Worlds?? 
Are you serious? I almost passed out with the vapors! Blame my southern genes.

Anyway, this post is not merely about my fascination with the cast of Thor. It is about, more importantly, the upcoming release of Thor 2!  I am sure that you all know by know that it is coming out November 8, 2013. 

When I heard, I had a billion questions. Would Natalie Portman return? Will I see Idris and Chris onscreen, together, again? As much as my heart desires, YES! It shall be!
I am happy to inform you that all the faves from Thor will return, at least according to the authority, IMDB.  I'm not sure why we needed to see Chris Hemsworth with his shirt off for this post, but let's just see if it helps to peek at all that again...

Ummm... that answers that! At least it helped me.

In closing, there are too many months between now and the Thor 2 release.  I am just content in knowing that one day, we (Chris and Idris and I) shall be together in cinematic bliss once again.  Until then, scroll back up and take a look a that swimsuit!

And to my ex-husband, Thanks for Everything!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Prologue - Zombie Gunner

As you may be aware, this much we participate in JuNoWriMo (June Novel Writing Month).  I have created a mountainous pile of work, some good, some bad and some maybe worse than bad.  In my fervor to complete 50,000 words this month, one particular story stuck.  And today, I decided that I should share with you all a select portion of my WIP.  It's interesting, since I never get the opportunity to write paranormal romance, and have never even attempted urban fantasy in this way before. 
In this post, you will find the start, the prologue actually, of Zombie Gunner (working title) and I sincerely hope that you love it as much as I do.  But, even if you don't be sure to tell me why. I believe that the best way to grow is to solicit the advice of the community.

And without further delay, meet Mena Blakely - Zombie Gunner.

Enjoy and I look forward to hearing from you.


Congressional Hearings
Washington, D.C.
March 2012

            In an effort to save humanity from death and destruction, I, Mena Blakely, make it a personal mission to slay the diabolical zombie, eradicating them from existence.

            My name is Mena Blakely and I am here today to give you a warning…

            Fuck that shit. I am Mena Blakely. Whether you want to believe it or not, whether you take heed to my warning or if you simply file this in the shitter, there are zombies out there. I fucking kill them. You may not want to think about it, but they are out there - among us. Some of them are our next door neighbors. We go to school with them. We eat, work and play with them.  They are here. They will kill you.

That was the speech from two years ago at the Congressional Hearings.  It was on the rampant, murderous killing spree that had taken place in the small town of Settlers, Missouri, where it was presumed that my father killed over half the town after they were exposed to the mutagen virus that he created, unknowingly of course, called Teron VI. The year that I went from being a waitress at the local pizza restaurant to the angry, nail biting, fuchsia haired murderer that you see before you. 

Back then, the zombies were dumb. They posed as normal and then when they gained access to a poor, unsuspecting person in the elevator, they would pounce.  These days, they are calculating. They know how to camouflage themselves, how to blend in and how to harvest humans.

In those two years after I was laughed off Capital Hill, I became the leader of a government operative team called Hub Z.  There are just four of us. We don’t answer to calls from the White House or the POTUS. We don’t really answer to anyone. I prefer it that way. 

You may wonder how I was the first to find out about zombies. Well, technically my father was the first to find out. He was trying to cure cancer.  He ended up creating one. The one that killed him.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A Place of Peace

Today, I spent some time pruning my garden.  There are times when writers must clear the clutter that plagues the psyche, which is where creativity dwells.
In order to get there, to the point where all your creativity can stretch it's proverbial legs, it becomes necessary to identify a place of peace. 

On the backside of the Troy (MI) Aquatic Center, there is a large natural trail that I sit in front of, and occasionally wander into, in order to get to that point.  After a thousand and one issues today between home and work, I found it necessary to go there and empty out my emotional baggage. It was calm, peaceful and serene. I enjoyed it immensely.  For an hour and a half, I sat barefoot in my truck with my legs kicked up enjoying the scenery and a Slurpee.

I would strongly suggest that you head to your special place today and get the emotional calm that you need in order to write the next best seller!

Have a great day, everyone.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

I am all a flutter today!

Tonight, I recieved and signed my very first contract for a novella named Disarmed.  The story is pretty unique in romance, as it is written solely from the hero's point of view.  I was even surprised that I was picked up by Soul Mate Publishing.

As I stated on Twitter, now it's time to get down to brass tax - there are edits, more edits, cover art, release dates, more edits, marketing, blog tours, and finally a little more editing. I'm kidding - that last edit would come just before 'marketing' and after 'more edits'. :-)

More to come of this, of course, but I'll stop now to put my head back on straight!

I wish you all a lovely evening.


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to my spot! 

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Aliza, an author of contemporary, paranormal and erotic romance novels.  You may know me from blogging over at Heroes and Heartbreakers, or from Twitter.  Or you may have just happened upon my page.  Either way, thank you for taking a moment to visit with me.

A few things about me. I reside in Troy, MI with my family.  My daughter is away in college and I have a 12 year old son, who is not yet in college (teehee).  I laugh at my own jokes, I hate water chestnuts (really, what are they??) and I have been known to have more than a few conversations with myself - hence the only suitable occupation for someone with those personality traits is writing.

And I talk too much!  For this reason, you can expect frequent and useless posts which will include my upcoming release information, some occasion rants on industry news, a few video posts which you may find just a bit odd and of course, visits from my muse (who is a drunken sociopath that you should not put too much stock into).

If you would more from me, I welcome you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Heroes and Heartbreakers via the respective (and shamelessly self-promoting) URLs below.

Until next time, read a great book!


Twitter: @AlizaMannAuthor
Heroes and Heartbreakers: