Updates

Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Friday, December 31, 2010

What You Liked in 2010

I cannot believe it is December 31. Even more, I can't believe it is 70 degrees outside and Northwest Arkansas is recovering from the tornadoes that swept through the area this morning. What a way to start the new year!

And what a way to end the old one!

This blog is still a work in progress. Some of the posts I made were really successful. Others, not so much. These are the top ten most popular posts of the year. Thanks to all of you for making my blog successful!

Totally Frivolous

It's a Blog Party in the USA

I've Been Covered!

To the Brave Little Reviewer

Swollen Feet and Elephant Ankles

Dread and Excitement Equals Insomnia

The Spazz that is Me

When the Passion Dies

Marketing: We're all in this Together!

Guess What Showed up on my porch today?

I love random things like this. I can totally tell that some of these popular posts got pulled because someone Googled 'layered hair styles' or 'high school musical.' Fun stuff.

But wait! The fun doesn't end there! I have the winner for the second copy of Perilous. And the winner is, coming in at #200...

Stephanie Faris!


I'm so excited for Stephanie! Stephanie, email me your address and I'll get a copy to you!

Happy new year!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nephew Appreciation

Something cool happened the other day when my brother-in-law and his family received a copy of Perilous. My young nephews were so excited because their very own aunt had written the book. Immediately they sat down with notebook papers and started writing their own books, each one deciding they want to be novelists.

If that's not cool enough, my 10-year-old nephew (the oldest in the group) went on to read the book in a day. And he loved it.

I continue to be amazed at the range of readers who find Perilous appealing. Women my mom's age, guys I knew in Brazil, and kids that I thought would be too young for the subject matter (boys, even!). Fascinating.

I've also come to the conclusion that the average reader will love my book, but the critic will not. It's been criticized as 'unbelievable' and too 'coincidental.' Yes, it is. It's a YA fiction book that employs elements of--well, fiction. If you liked Life is Beautiful and could overlook the unbelievable aspects of that historical fiction, you'll be able to overlook them in my book.

Fantastic movie, by the way.  It's not that these things COULDN'T happen. It's just that they probably WOULDN'T. But we all want to believe they could.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Unifying Factor of CHRISTmas




Christmas is a few days behind us, and fading fast. Sad how all that build up lasts for weeks and then--it's over.

So before it's gone, I want to express my love for the holiday.

I love Christmas. Everything about it. But one of the most amazing things is the way it brings us all together. I mean, every Christian denomination. Suddenly, the finer details of our beliefs fall away as the one Factor we all believe in comes to the forefront.

Jesus Christ.

It's wonderful, isn't it? In God we trust. We're united in Christ. Through him, we are one.

I witnessed this firsthand during the holiday season when I participated in a multi-faith Christmas concert. Several different church congregations and school choirs met for a two-day Christmas concert commemorating the birth of our Savior. It was beautiful. We were all brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter what church building we attended.

It's that feeling I hope I can keep with me all year long.

Merry Christmas. It's not really over.

Monday, December 20, 2010

And the Kindle Winner is...

I know everyone is waiting to hear. The winner of the Kindle is...


Rachelle Christensen!

Rachelle blew everyone out of the water, with more than 100 points! The next closest person only had 50, so that kind of gives you an idea of the effort Rachelle went to. She blogged about my book, Twittered about my book, and spread the word far and wide. Rachelle, thank you!

And the blog tour is over! Thanks so much everyone who participated! I'll have the winner to the second copy of Perilous announced in the next few days. It's almost Christmas folks...I'm kind of taking a break.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's Our Anniversary


Mine and hubby's. And today is very special, because he came home yesterday for Christmas.

Happy anniversary, sweetheart. Love you.



I couldn't ask for a better Christmas present. My heart aches for those military families who are apart during the holidays. We are very blessed.

I'll announce the Kindle winner on Monday. So there are a few more days to email me your point totals!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

On the 4th Day of Christmas

Browned Butter Cookies

2 1/2 C flour
1 t soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C butter
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 C sour cream
1 C nuts

Cream sugar and butter together. Add other ingredients. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and frost.

frosting:
1/2 C butter
4 C powdered sugar
4 T boiling water

Heat butter over medium heat until butter turns brown. Remove from heat. Add sugar and water until smooth. Frost cookies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Double Points Day!

Today is the LAST day of my blog tour. I know, I can't believe it's over either!

So today, every comment on Diana's stop on the blog tour will count TWICE in the random drawing for a copy of Perilous. And then, don't forget to add up all your points for the Kindle contest!!! Send me an email with your total and your proofs. Can't wait to see who wins!

Who's baking cookies? I am!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On the 3rd Day of Christmas Cookies

Orange Carrot Cookies (for Wednesday, Dec. 15)

3/4 C shortening
1 C sugar
1 egg
1 C cooked, mashed carrots
1 t vanilla
2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 C chopped nuts

Mix all ingredients. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 min. Ice while hot.

Icing:
1 C powdered sugar
pinch of salt
grated rind of 1 orange
3 T orange juice

Monday, December 13, 2010

Guess what showed up on my porch today?

A box of books.

More specifically, a box of MY books.

I'll take a picture and post it later. But it's the most surreal feeling. I opened the book up and read the dedication and thought-- "Wait a minute." I wrote that.

Wow.

We're wrapping up my blog tour! Just two days left! Be sure and check out the contest and calendar tab at the top, if you haven't already! Today's stop is here.

And I just finished making Microwave Fudge. It was so easy I can't hardly believe it. I created a new tab with the recipes for the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On the 2nd Day of Christmas Cookies

Ranger Cookies! (For Tuesday, Dec. 14)

1 C butter
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
2 eggs
2 C flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla
2 C oats
2 C cornflakes
1/2 C shredded coconut
1/2 C walnuts

Mix all together (well). use 1/4 C scoop per cookie, flatten. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes (slightly browned). 18-22 cookies.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

On the 1st Day of Christmas Cookies

Microwave Fudge! (For Monday, Dec. 13)

18 oz. chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla
1 C chopped walnuts

In microwave bowl, combine chocolate chips and milk. Microwave on half power until melted. Stir every minute or two. Stir in vanilla and nuts. Pour into 9x9 inch pan and refrigerate until firm.

Verdict? Yay or nay?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Countdown: 1: Book Signings

So it's finally time for my book signings!

I was lucky to have some help from my publisher, who called local bookstores and let them know about me. Then when I called to set up book signings, they already knew who I was. I think that helped to give me a little bit more credibility.

I have two book signings set up for next weekend. There's also a new tab on my blog that you can click to check out my future book signings. I spoke to a few other bookstores about signings next year, so hopefully that will pan out as well.

The book signings are scheduled. Now I need to remember to:

Ahead of time:
1) make bookmarks to set on the table
2) take over to the bookstores posters and flyers advertising the events

If I had more time, I would actually mail out postcards to people to let them know about the signings. But I'm short on time right now.

Day of:
1) bookmarks
2) sign-up sheet for newsletter
3) table
4) laptop (for showing the trailer)
5) extension cord (to plug in laptop, if necessary)
6) candy dish w/candy
7) gift bags for drawings
8) cookies for the bookstore staff!
9) books!

My fliers arrived today for the book signings. The ones I'm going to start giving out helter-skelter to get people to the signings. Across the top, they say, as they should: "Perilous Book Signings". I read it and giggled.

On another note, we've got two blogs on the blog tour today! You can check out Debbie's awesome review here, and Taffy's here!



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas (Cookies)


One of my favorite things about Christmas is the cookies. Yummy yummy cookies, and lots of them. But I always end up making like four batches in one day, and then I'm burnt out and covered in cookies.

The phrase "The 12 Days of Christmas" kept going through my head, and I didn't know if the song was stuck in my head or if there was something I wanted to do for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Finally, the two desires coalesced and BINGO! We have the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies.

How it works is, starting on the 12th of December and going until Christmas Eve, I'm going to make a batch of cookies. I'm way excited! And just for kicks, I'll also post the recipe online a day ahead of time. In case anyone else wants to play! I'll get an ingredient list up also.

This way I get all my cookies, we have yummies every day, and I'm not doing too much in any one day!

Anyone want to join in the fun?

Wednesday's blog tour is here!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I Haven't Been Nominated


For the Whitney's, that is.

I don't know if I have a chance at winning. But if I'm not nominated, I'll never know. All I need is five nominations and I'm entered.

So if you've read my book, and you liked it at all, please nominate me. It's easy to do. Click this link and fill out the nomination form. Here's the info you'll need about my book:

Title: Perilous
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Author: Tamara Hart Heiner

Nominations are only open through December. That doesn't give me a lot of time to campaign. So please! Nominate me!

And the blog tour and contest continues! Monday's post is here. And Tuesday's is here!

Friday, December 3, 2010

To the Brave Little Reviewer

Today's post is one you should take very seriously.

My hat goes off to Melanie J, who is up on my blog tour today. Reason: She didn't like my book.

I've known Melanie in the blogger world for more than a year. I imagine that it was very hard for her to email me and tell me that she didn't enjoy my book. Rather than make me look bad in front of the whole world, she requested that she be taken off my blog tour.

I declined her request, asking her instead to post the negative review.

The bottom line is, folks, some people aren't going to like my book. Some of you, even. So take a look at her review. And if you think you might not like my book, buy the ebook. It's a smaller investment. :)

Oh and then pop back over here and tell me what you think of the review. Because, to be honest, I'm not brave enough to go look at it.

The negative review is here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Will the Real Theresa Milstein Please Come Forward?




Anyone know Theresa?

If you do, be sure and tell her that

SHE WON!

In case you wondered, there were 250 entries into the drawing for a copy of Perilous from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15. Random.org chose #35, which was Theresa. Theresa was entered in three times.

If you didn't win, don't despair! There will be another drawing for all comments made on the blog tour from Nov. 16 to Dec. 15. The blog tour is listed on the tab above, and it's not too late to make as many comments as you can so you can be entered!

Good luck! Thanks, Theresa! Send me an email with your address and I'll get a book in the mail to you (as soon as I get them myself, that is!)

And Wednesday's post is here! For Thursday: the one and only Karen Gowen!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Truth Shall Set you Free-Or Not

Missouri law enforcement and I do not get along.

Background: I'm one of those "letter of the law" type of drivers. The annoying ones that don't go even one mile over the speed limit, turn the lights on when the windshield wipers go on, use my blinker, etc. etc.

I find it highly ironic that I'm the one who always gets pulled over while people going 15 mph faster than me are ignored.

Incident 1: Right outside of Springfield on I-44, a cop pulled me over for not getting out of his way. He said I was going too slow and needed to either speed up or move to the side of the road when he got up on my bumper. Setting: I was going 60 mph in a 60. It was night. I could only see the headlights of the vehicle behind me, which got up on my bumper. Solution: TURN ON YOUR COP LIGHTS!

At least he let me go without a ticket. Not so lucky with #2.

Incident 2: Right outside of Ft. Leonard Wood on I-44, a cop pulled me. Offense: Running a yellow light. Yes, you read that correctly. The cop, who was sitting at the light ACROSS from me in the intersection, thought I ran a red light. To his credit, by all means, he should've been right. His light turned green and my vehicle was making a left turn in the intersection. He assumed that I must've run a red light. The problem: I didn't. My light was yellow. The bigger problem: I could not prove this, as I had no camera in my car to tape the incident. Solution: CHECK THE TIMERS ON THE SIGNAL LIGHTS BECAUSE SOMETHING'S OUT OF SYNC! That's not what he did, of course. I always thought that if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear. Just TELL THE TRUTH. I'm very sorry to report, that is not the case.

So, one ticket later, I'm now the kind of driver that STOPS at an intersection as soon as the light turns yellow. Sorry, folks. That ticket cost me big bucks.

Tell me I'm not the only one this happens to. Have you ever been wrongly ticketed?

The blog tour is still going strong! Check out this awesome post by the Southern Princess! And Tuesday's post is none other than Tristi Pinkston, who is also holding her own very awesome blog contest!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crockpot Cranberries


It's Thanksgiving! Well, almost. I'm in the middle of preparations, and I'll bet you are too. So let's keep this sweet and simple. Bitter-sweet, to be exact.

(This isn't my picture. But that's what they look like.)

With so many recipes, I'm always looking for ways to cut corners and avoid dirtying more pots and pans/turning on my oven. So this year, I've employed my crockpot. The first thing I made was these cranberries, and they are awesome! Here's the super-easy recipe:

12 oz. cranberries (if you use frozen, add 30 min. to cook time)
1 C sugar
1/2 C water
zest of 1 lime

Cook cranberries, sugar, and water in crockpot on high for 2 1/2 hours. Add lime zest and refrigerate up to 3 weeks!

Told you it was easy! This only makes 2 C. If you've got a crowd, you might want more. It's really yummy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's the last blog tour this week: Tara McClendon!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Down on One Knee

I'm begging you.

Please.

Reviews are overrated. I think we can all agree with that.

But on some places (:::cough:::Amazon.com), the reviews really mean something. That's great--if people are reviewing you. Problem is, people aren't.

So here's my plea. If you've read my book--please post a review. Only one person has. (And, um, it doesn't look like they were too impressed with my book.)

Oh, and apparently my book appreciates with time. The used copy is for sale for $19.95, while the new copy is only $14.95. So get it while you can! You'll be able to resale it for more!

I'm getting off my knee now.

The blog tour and the contest are not over yet! Click here for Monday's post! And for Tuesday, click here!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter PREP

In preparation for the upcoming release of Harry Potter, we are re-watching all the movies in an awesome Harry Potter marathon.

Things I've noticed:
#1: The points system feels very plot-centric
#2: Harry looks like a very normal adolescent: slightly chunky and awkward
#3: the Dementors have really creepy hands

Anyway! We're getting excited!

And today for my blog tour, the very cool Sara McClung. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Now on YouTube

We did it! We fixed up the sound issues with my trailer and

I'm happy to present to you

the new trailer!





What do you think? Even better?

And Wednesday's blog stop is Danyelle Ferguson! For Thursday, the one and only Elana Johnson!

Monday, November 15, 2010

To Be Perfectly Honest




Thanks, everyone, for participating in my book launch!!! It was a blast! If I haven't been by to visit your blog yet, I will soon!

Now, on to another subject. I've had two people on my blog tour line up contact me and tell me that their reviews are less-than-stellar. Both asked me if I preferred to remove them from my tour.

Of course I told them I still want them on my tour!

We can all agree that for the most part, honesty is the best policy. Right? Blog tours are no exception. Here's the way I see it:

1) Like it or not, we all know that not everyone is going to like my book. Of the 40 people I have on my blog tour, if 35 of them like it, I'm thrilled. If all 40 liked it, I would probably think that someone was afraid to tell me what they really thought.

2) My book is NOT PERFECT. I'll be the first to admit this. I see the flaws. Others are going to see the flaws. Some people it's going to bug more than other people. I hope the majority of readers will turn a blind eye, but I am certainly not surprised when there are negative responses.

3) Negative reviews create controversy, and controversy creates interest. At least, I hope so.

Give it to me straight! When I get my first 1-star review, we'll have a consolation party!

And for Monday, we have the wonderful Niki up on the blog tour! Tuesday is Lynn Parson! Be sure and check them out! Contest details on the tab at the top of the blog!

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's a BlogParty in the USA!


It's time to celebrate my book!!! Perilous is scheduled to release later this month, in nine days...give or take a few. (Yeah, that's Miley over there. So? I'm a fan.)

And the point to this party is to get to know me and to meet other people! Here's how it works:

* Follow my blog and I'll follow yours (b/c I'm nice that way)

* Comment on this post telling what snack you've brought to the party, and something about yourself. Food that's already here: mint brownies, pumpkin bread, and pineapple punch.

* Find at least three new party-goers to visit, comment on their blogs and follow if you like

* Click on the twitter and/or facebook icons at the bottom of this post to invite more people to the party. That means more followers for everyone! (Did you even know those icons were down there? Really? I just figured it out.)

This party goes on for one week! That's how long this post will be up! Um, no. No pole dancing, please. Yes, you, in the pink shirt. Get down. Thanks.

Anyway! Just for fun, each day I'm going to post some random trivia about Perilous. Just so we remember what we're celebrating.

Day 1 trivia: Jaci Rivera (the MC)'s Tio (uncle) Oscar taught her how to change a car tire before she could legally drive.

Day 2 trivia: Originally all four girls survived until the end of the novel.

Day 3 trivia: The villain's name was changed from "The Trump" to "The Hand." Apparently The Trump was too much like the name of a certain celebrity.

Day 4 trivia: When I first wrote Perilous, Jaci's name was Joyce Little. She was still Latina, though, so when I rewrote it, I changed her name to Jacinta Rivera to better reflect her ethnic background.

Day 5 trivia: The first title to Perilous was Walk Beside Me.

Don't forget the blog tour! Monday is at the awesome Jen Daiker's blog! Catch it here! Tuesday we have Carolina here! Wednesday is the fantastic Elizabeth Mueller!

Still with me? Thursday is here at Christine Danek's blog! And Friday we're at Elle Strauss's!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Deleting Scenes

I've had a lot of experience now deleting scenes. It started when I needed to chop 20K from Perilous. That ended up being about 60 pages! At first, it was really hard for me. I cut out some of the scenes that I thought were necessary, some of the extra POVs, and some scenes that didn't flow quite right.

And then I wondered why that was so hard. I'd always thought those scenes didn't flow quite right. Somehow, I couldn't bring myself to hit that delete button. Well, let me tell you, after that I became quite delete happy. I cut and cut and cut. And the result was fantastic! The story is tighter, more action-packed, extremely relevant.

So how do I know what to cut? Here's what I've looked for.

Is it realistic?

This was a big problem for me in Perilous, mostly because I wrote this book when I was 12. To my teenage mind, some of the things the girls did were perfectly logical. And who knows, maybe they were, because the girls at the time were also aged 12 to 14. But as an adult, I couldn't relate to kids who would act so irresponsibly. I changed the ages to 15 and matured their actions. All of the sudden, a lot of the scenes I'd included as a child no longer fit. They simply weren't realistic.

Does the story really need it?

Sometimes I'd write a scene, maybe even an entire chapter, with some exciting event, something to keep the suspense up in the story. The odd thing was, it really wasn't relevant to the plot. If I cut out the entire adventure, the entire chapter, it had absolutely no impact to the rest of my story.

Granted, many scenes we write can be cut out and the story can continue. But some of the scenes we write really do add to the quality of the story. Others drain it. If you're not sure...ask a reader. They'll tell you!

Do I need this character's POV?

As I've stated before, one of my biggest problems was trying to tell the story from everyone's POV. These were some of the hardest scenes to cut, because I wanted to tell the story from that POV. Sometimes I could bring out the relevant information by using another character who was present, showing the incident from that POV. Other times, though, there was no alternative POV to use. These scenes were hard to delete. But it needed to be done for the consistency of the story. I miss those POVs. But the overall quality of the story is better. It felt like a plot gimmick to throw in a different POV for only one scene in the entire book.

Do I enjoy reading it?

You would think this would be obvious, but to me it wasn't. Sometimes I'd write a scene and it wouldn't sit well with me. Everytime I'd read it I'd get that uneasy feeling in my stomach. But I'd think to myself, "It's just me because I wrote it. Nobody else will think this." Ha! Well, guess what! They notice it even more than you! When I realized my critiquers were pointing out the very scenes that I felt uncertain about, I realized I didn't always need to ask. If I didn't like it, the reader wouldn't either. This has been so helpful to me and allowed me to cut without even feeling guilty!

Now, there were scenes that got cut from Perilous that I wish hadn't. We cut an additional 10k to streamline the novel a bit more. And many of those scenes added dimension to characters, showed a little bit more of how they reacted to each other. But they didn't necessarily increase the tension and action. So...bye-bye.

The thing that helps me the most as I'm cutting is to save my deleted scenes. I like to think of it as in the movies: some scenes have to be cut. When you watch the deleted scenes on a movie, you can often tell why it was cut. Yet it's still fun to watch. Someday, I promise you'll be able to read these scenes. Then again, I might recycle them into other books!

For today's blog tour: An interview at Annette Lyon's blog, and a book review at Jaime Theler's! And don't forget to check out the contest details at the top of the page!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Traveling Adventures

Vacation is always so much fun.

Sometimes it's more than we bargain for.

Here's what we've been doing:

1) We discovered that my car has an anti-theft device. If the wheel is turned a certain way, the car won't start. It's a very effective device. It took me and my dad 10 minutes to figure out how to start the car. We were just starting to panic.

2) The bad reviews online for our cheap motel weren't exaggerating. I let my dad kill the roaches.

3) My 4yo son was either too excited for Disney World or infected with a 30-min bug, because we had just put him and my 2yo to bed when he threw up on everything. The wonderful hotel staff gave us new sheets, but didn't clear out the dirty ones. Yeah. Our room reeked.

4) 4yo tend to break things when they try to use them. Like our portable DVD player.

Isn't vacationing fun?

And don't forget about the blog tour! Contest details on the tab at top. Wednesday stop: here. Thursday stop: here. See you there!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Launch Party!


On November 16, my book releases.

I love parties. So I'm throwing a launch party, and I want you to be there!

This is a chance for everyone to mix and mingle! We'll meet new people and new bloggers and it'll be awesome!

Here's how it works, in case you've never participated in one of these: You make a comment, say what snack you're bringing to the party, what you blog about, and invite people to come visit you. Then you go visit at least 3 new blogs, leave a comment and follow if you like it. The more you comment & follow, the more commenters and followers you'll get. It's a great opportunity to expand for new bloggers.

The Launch Party will begin in one week, on Monday, Nov. 8 and continue through Monday, Nov. 15. My book (if everything follows schedule) launches the next day! What better way to prepare???

And my blog tour is still going on! check out Monday's here, and Tuesday's here!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Put-Down

When I was in grade school, I always heard the advice to not compare myself to others. I didn't really understand at the time, but as an adult, I get it. My success is not measured by how much better I did than someone else. (Although when teachers graded on a curve in college, it felt like it sometimes.) If I must compare, I should compare myself to how I was.

I think we all understand this. So why, then, do politicians try to convince us to vote for them by putting down the competition?

Does this really convince anyone? I mean, do we even believe them?

It kind of makes me think of a girl trying to convince a guy that he should choose her. Just listen to this voice: "You should choose me because I wear designer perfume. I can parallel park. What do you see in her? She dyes her hair funny. Her shoes are out of style. She didn't even get an A in Geometry. It should be really obvious to you that my sparkling shoes and great grades make me the better option."

Um, whatever happened to just being yourself? Letting that sparkling personality or great campaign speak for you?

Or maybe the campaign is so bad that you hope to win by default? You've got nothing else to stand on?

Stop whining and quit putting people down. It's a total turn-off.

Oh, and I'm on my way to Florida as we speak, so posts might be a bit erratic this coming week.

Today's stop on the blog tour: Ann Best!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dog Tired

I'm not sure what happened, but I sat down to write a blog post and GOT TIRED.

So, let me summarize things quickly:

1) Wednesday's blog tour is here. Check out the awesome T. Anne! Thursday's blog tour is Valerie Ipson. yay Valerie!

2) I met with the Border's manager yesterday, and she is super excited to order my books and have a book signing. Yay!

3) We had a Halloween party last night. I haven't done the dishes yet. It's 3pm.

4) We're leaving for Disney World on Friday. I probably should start packing.

5) My editor emailed me the final proof of my book. the one that's going to print. I CAN'T WAIT.

6) I'm going to take a nap now.

Don't forget! Blog tour contest, tab at top!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Seventh Time's the Charm

They say you have to hear something seven times before it finally sparks your interest.

Do you find that to be true for you? I confess I often don't pay attention, but when it comes to media, I think that's true.

For example: I really didn't pay any attention to Harry Potter when it came out. Only when I'd heard the name 6-7 times did I really notice it. And still it took several more times before I decided to read it. That also goes for Hunger Games. I joined the blogosphere right before Catching Fire came out. 6-7 reviews later, I decided to buy both books.

Very,very rarely do I hear something one time and decide to risk my money on it.

I hope that is the case with my book. One comment I'm seeing a lot on the blog tour is, "I'm hearing a lot about this book lately. I'll have to check it out." This comment makes my heart soar, because guess why they're hearing a lot? Because we are spreading the news! We are hyping it up, a good three weeks before it is released!

And that, folks, is why a blog tour is so important. Today is blog tour stop #7. I hope I'm influencing people.

Monday's stop: The excellent Mary Greathouse and her blog, here. And for Tuesday: The awesome RaShelle Workman! Be sure and check it out, as well as the contest details on the tab at the top of the page. At least, if you're interested in winning free copies of the book! :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Strengths into Weaknesses


When I was at the Ozark Writers Conference a few weekends ago, one of the speakers talked about finding your character's strength and teasing it into a weakness.

I found this idea intriguing. Often, we talk about turning our weaknesses into strengths. So why not torture our characters into doing the opposite?

For example, let's take my character Jayne. Remember Jayne?



One of Jayne's greatest strengths is her compassion. She genuinely cares for people and wants to make their lives better.

Unfortunately for Jayne, her gift of Sight shows her the way people will die.

It only takes a little bit of teasing to turn this strength into a weakness. If she cares about people, it hurts her when she isn't able to prevent their death. So she stops caring. She shuts of her emotions and blocks out the rest of the world. This leaves me with a lot of character development to explore and we know we'll see a lot of changes in Jayne throughout the story.

The bottom line is, CHARACTERS MUST BE FLAWED. If they are not, then there is no room for growth and the story will be flat. We want to experience a change.

Do you see a correlation between your characters' strengths and flaws?

And in case you haven't been paying attention, we're just getting started with my blog tour. The full calendar and contest information is on a tab at the top of my blog. Today's post is here. I mean, come on. Don't you want to win a Kindle??? :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blogger's Cool Stats

Blogger has really come up in the world. Probably the rest of you already knew this, but I just noticed that at the top of screen where you make a new post, there's a new tab. This tab says 'Stats.'

If you haven't already explored this tab, let me share with you some of the neat things it has:

In the posts, I can see which pages of mine get the most hits. I can see the stats for today, for one week, for a month. This is quite funny. Guess which page of mine is the most popular? This one. Because I posted a picture of the haircut I wanted, and apparently when people Google haircuts, it gets pulled up. Total view on that page so far? 3,011. Random, huh? Today, 27 people have looked at that page.

Maybe I should drive traffic to my blog by posting more hair styling pictures.

Traffic sources is also cool. It tells me what site people were on before they linked over to mine. Today I owe Talli Roland for sending over 4 viewers. I can see that over the past month, Twitter has sent more than 20 people to my blog. My website is also doing a good job for me, having sent over almost 50 people. Very very interesting.

And finally, the audience one. Where are these people from? What countries are reading my blog? (DL, you might find this helpful. Now you can track down the people from different countries on your blog.) Today, I've had 21 people from Moldova (??? where???), 5 from Portugal (seja bemvindo!), 1 from Israel, and 68 from the US. I have an audience. Quite an extensive one. Of course, they are probably all trying to figure out what hair cut to get next, but still...

Anyway, I just thought that was really really cool. So look at your stats! Which page of yours gets the most visits? Share the link and we can all check it out!

And for the blog tour: Today we have the lovely Guinevere talking about my book, as well as a $10 contest! Check it out here! And for Thursday we have one of my dear friends, Mary Gray! For the rest of the tour and information on my giveaways, click the tab at the top of the blog!


Monday, October 18, 2010

What Can Goodreads do for you?


There's this wonderful community that I'm only just beginning to participate in-- it's the Goodreads community. I've often seen people talk about how they are addicted to Facebook and Goodreads. Which I just couldn't understand. What is so great about Goodreads?

A lot, apparently. Goodreads promotes their authors. Besides the fact that a quick skim of updates lets me know who added what book and who liked what, there are FREE services for Goodreads authors.

Are you aware of what Goodreads can do for you? Here are a few things.

1) A blog. What's great about this blog is I don't actually have to write a new blog every time. I just linked my Goodreads account to my Blogger account, and everytime I post a blog, presto! It goes live on Goodreads. Do I actually have any followers? No. And I never have comments. But hey! Maybe someday!

2) Giveaways. I just discovered this recently. Many of us offer free books during our blog tours, with the intention of garnering interest in our books. Well, Goodreads also has this service. They 'request' that if you enter a giveaway, you also put the book into your 'to-read' list. (Not everyone does this. I know because right now I have 352 people in my giveaway contest, but my book is on only 87 'to-read' lists.) But, that is 352 people who have heard of my book now that probably hadn't heard of it before. How neat is that??

3) Author Q&A. Few things can make a person feel like a celebrity than having a bunch of stranger discuss you. Goodreads provides the place for that discussion. The author simply chooses a time period--like for two weeks--starts the discussion with a question or two, and then let's it roll. I haven't done this yet. I want to get my name out there a little more. But again, what a neat way to garner interest.

So, if you haven't checked out Goodreads, you need to. There's a link on my sidebar.

On another note, today is day #2 of my blog tour!!! The post is up on Nichole's Star-crossed book review blog. I got that anxious pit in my stomach clicking on the post, but luckily she didn't flame me! Check out her blog to see the review. And for Tuesday, we have the famous Talli Roland. For information on the contest and the other blogs on the tour, click the tab at the top of my blog!



Friday, October 15, 2010

Creating a newsletter

There's a new gadget on the right-hand side of my blog. It's my newsletter sign-up form. Isn't pretty? I like it.

No, I don't have a newsletter yet. That's because I don't have anything to announce. And also because I don't have anyone to announce it to! :) But I will someday. And while most of you will get information about me from my blog, there will be people who's names and emails I collect through book signings and speaking engagements.

A newsletter is a great way to hold on to 'prospects.' Those people who looked at your book, blog, or website, but didn't buy. If they sign up for the newsletter, you know they are interested, but something held them back. So come up with a quarterly newsletter that details promotions, book signings, new releases, and maybe a few new favorable reviews.

Now I know what to put in my newsletter. I need readers.

There are many newsletter companies out there, but most of them aren't free. I found one that is. It's MailChimp. Mailchimp is free for the first 1,000 subscribers. So far, I've got 2, and one of them is me. If I ever get more than 1,000, I'll happily pay to upgrade my account! Chimpmail might be free, but it's got all the bells and whistles you could want. It gave me the coding for that sign up form on the right (and it works. Someone already used it). It creates your newsletter in pretty html designs. It--well, go check it out. It's pretty cool.

And in other news--my blog tour started today!!! You don't want to miss these contests. Not all of these reviews will be glowing, either, because I didn't pay these people. So hurry over to David J. West's blog and find out the good, the bad, and the ugly about Perilous.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Hook

September 20
Havre, Montana

Detective Carl Hamilton shielded his eyes against the blaring blue lights and flashed his badge at the police of-ficer. The man moved aside. Hamilton stepped off the paved, two-lane highway just outside of Havre, Montana. Orange tape blocked off the crime scene, hidden by the darkness of early morning. He ducked under the tape and pushed his way into the dry shrubbery.

A sergeant shone a flashlight on his face and asked, “Are you Detective Hamilton?”

He gave a short nod.

“I‟m Shirley White.” Pressing her hand to her nose, she turned her attention back to the ground.

The stench of rotting flesh was strong. “Ma‟am. What have we found?”

“It‟s a girl. We think it‟s one of the four you‟ve been looking for.”

Carl‟s stomach knotted. “Cause of death?”

“We‟ll have to perform an autopsy, of course, but it appears to be a gunshot wound. Is it one of them?”

“Where is she?”

“Under the bushes.”

He crouched down and moved the bushes aside, breathing through his mouth. This never got any easier. The branches parted to reveal a young girl, features distorted by death but still recognizable. The open eyes stared blankly up at him. He released the branches and stood up, giving a nod. “Yes. It‟s one of them.”

The case had just gone from a kidnapping to a homicide. And there were three girls still missing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Marketing: We're all in this together!


I'm excited to present to you Lori Calabrese, a fellow debut author! Her book, The Bug that Plagued the Third Grade, just launched from Dragonfly Publishing. Today Lori is going to talk about the marketing battle--one we are all quite familiar with.

You can find Lori on her blog here.

And here she is!

Fighting an Uphill Battle
By: Lori Calabrese

As authors, we’re required to devise a web marketing platform—website, blog, email marketing and social media—that will help spread our message, grow our reputation and hopefully sell books. But, sometimes, it can feel as though we’re fighting an uphill battle. That’s why many authors are forming their own armies, so they can take on the marketing machine in numbers.

The first army formed was the "Class of 2k…,” the brainstorm of debut novelist Greg R. Fishbone. He thought a group of debut children's novelists could grab more media and industry attention together than on their own and boy, was he right. The Class of 2K7 was the first group of authors who banded together to make their publication journey a pleasant one, and the group has evolved to The Class of 2k10. Along the way, many other authors have used Fishbone’s thinking to their advantage and formed their own niche groups to strengthen their marketing message.

In 2010, because of a failing economy, we saw the rise of the small press. The odds of getting published by a "major" publishing house have been dwindling, but the odds of attracting a small publisher have been improving. However, as many small press authors are able to see their books in print, they also find themselves without the marketing muscle or resources of the larger houses. So what are small press authors to do? Innovate their own strategies, that’s what.

Small press authors have created alliances with like-minded independent bookstores, and have taken advantage of online marketing platforms such as social media, e-mail blasts and blogs. But, they’ve also utilized the thinking of Greg R. Fishbone. Author Amy Cook realized that if a group of small press authors banded together, they too could grab more attention for their books through a collective blog, forum, facebook group and flyer. Cook put out a general call on as many places as she could - Verla Kay's Website for Children's Writers and Illustrators, her blog, etc… and within a few short weeks, Indie Debut was born.

Indie Debut can be called the first army for small press authors. Indie Debut 2010 is a group of debut authors whose books are published by a spectrum of small presses across America and range from picture books to middle grade to young adult. Each member is proud to support small presses that are championing new voices, focusing on niche markets, creating whole businesses by reissuing out-of-print classics, and maintaining the tradition of printing literary fiction. Within the first week of forming, they utilized each member’s artillery to produce a group website, logo, press release and discussion forum. Since then, this amazing group of dedicated children’s/ YA authors have put loads of time and effort into making their website a source of small press information, setting up speaking engagements, planning contests and giveaways, and developing a very close sense of community with each other.

Because of the tough economy, the whole industry has been forced to navigate a new route and utilize new tools to build and maintain momentum behind a book. Indie Debut has been able to make a small press author’s reach national by creating relationships with each author’s fan base, reach out to new ones, and utilize a group blog that keeps content fresh and allows one to develop their platform, what many editors and agents are looking for these days.

Rather than face it alone, it’s smart for an author to develop relationships with other authors and
brainstorm ways to market his or her book. Writers spend much of their time working alone, so to have a network of writers who are going through the same thing as you is a great way to garner information, and offer the much-needed support we sometimes need.

So as you devise your web marketing platform, remember that although marketing can sometimes seem like an uphill battle, with an army of troops on your side, you’ll find the courage you need to forge ahead.

Indie Debut is currently looking for authors who are interested in joining the 2011 group. If you’re a debut author with a children’s- YA book published with a small press in 2011, please use the contact form on their website.

About the author:
Lori Calabrese is an award-winning children’s author. Her first picture book, The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, was awarded DFP’s Best Children’s Book Award. She writes
for various children’s magazines, is the National Children’s Books Examiner at Examiner.com and enjoys sharing her passion for children’s books at festivals, schools and events. Visit her
website to learn more, www.loricalabrese.com.


Monday, October 11, 2010

The Ultimate Blog Tour

My blog tour launches on FRIDAY.

I can hardly believe it. My stomach twists up in knots every time I think about it. Because, here's the thing: Not everyone is going to like my book. I can't even guarantee that YOU will like it. But you won't know unless you read it, right? And you can read it for only $4.99 on your ebook reader, so what have you got to lose?

The bigger question is, what have you got to win? The answer: A Kindle.

So, here are the details to my ultimate blog tour contest.

1) There will be two book giveaways. Signed copies of Perilous, of course. All you have to do to get in on that action is make a comment anywhere in the blog tour. The drawing will be completely random. Of course, the more comments you make, the more chances you have of winning.

2) There will be a Kindle giveaway. This WON'T be random. Kindles are kind of a big thing, so I'm going to make you work for it. The giveaway will be point based, in other words, whoever has the most points at the end of the blog tour wins the Kindle. The contest will run until Dec. 15, at which point all hopeful winners will email me at tamara at tamarahartheiner dot com with their points and their proofs.

Here's how you get points:
+1 for each comment on the blog tour
+1 be a follower on my blog (old or new)
+1 retweet
+2 blog about the blog tour
(You prove all of those by emailing me the links.)
+5 purchase the book; ebook or paperback, doesn't matter
(Email me the confirmation number of your purchase.)

How many points will you get?

Oh, and if you've already bought the book, that counts too.

Don't want a Kindle? Already have one? I hear they make great Christmas presents. :)

Here are some helpful links:
paperback (I linked to my website, but you can also purchase through B&N and Amazon. I'm offering free shipping and handling and a lower price on preorders.)

Tomorrow I'm excited to announce that I'm hosting Lori Calabrese here on my blog! Her book, The Bug that Plagued the Third Grade, just came out from Dragonfly Publishing. It's so exciting to watch books come out!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Eureka Springs or Bust


I'm at the Ozark Creative Writer's Conference, hitting it off with DL!

Too bad the rest of you couldn't make it!

Next year, when I'm a famous author, you'll all come out to Arkansas to meet me, right? Great!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I'll show you mine if you show me yours

When I was in grade school, I remember the propaganda every adult and parent preached at us: "Everyone is good at something. You just have find what it is."

This statement always woke up my cynical side. I was quite certain I had no talent, and I was fairly sure half of the kids around me didn't, either.

Just goes to show you that teenagers DON'T know everything.

The other day I sat around with a dozen of my girlfriends (isn't it wonderful to have friends?) and we admired the beautiful baby blanket that one of them had sewed. Someone else mentioned that her photography business was picking up. Another showed us the diaper covers and headbands she was crocheting for her Etsy site. And we talked about how beautifully so-and-so sang in church that Sunday. All of this while we munched on the delicious chocolate-caramel brownies someone had brought.

I sat there with these ladies and felt a bit overwhelmed. "Wow!" I thought. "I can't sew. I can't crochet. My singing's nothing to honk about. I'll just keep my mouth shut before they realize I don't have any talents and don't fit in here."

And then, like an epiphany, it hit me. I'm a WRITER. That's a talent. It's MY talent. I have a PUBLISHED BOOK.

And then I felt so good about myself, sitting there among my talented friends, feeling talented. Isn't it awesome that God gave us all such different gifts??? Turns out all that adult talk was right, after all.

What's your talent??? You know you have one. Share! Let's see how many diverse talents we can find!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Spazz that is Me


Guess what launched today?

The Perilous ebook.

How exciting is that??

Here's the link.

Go ahead and buy it, you won't hurt my feelings.

Oh, but if you'd rather wait for the paperback, it's available for pre-order from here and here and here.

Get ready, gang, because my blog tour is quickly approaching, and we've got some great giveaways coming your way. Including :::cough::: a :::cough:::: KINDLE. Set your calendars. Tour starts Oct. 15. Details coming soon.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blogging in 30 minutes a day

Today I'm feeling the anxious feeling (how's that for redundant? Wait, it gets better. I almost said "anxious anxiety") of someone who is launching a blog tour...even though it isn't launching today. It almost did, which means the time is coming very very soon.

And on Tuesday, the ebook launches. Folks! Things are getting hot here!

But that's not what I'm blogging about. I'm blogging about how blogging took over my world and how I recovered from it. I'm also blogging about how many times I can use repetitious words while blogging.

So, here's my secret. I cut my blogging back to 30 minutes a day.

The thing is, there are some awesome awesome blogs on my 200+ blogroll. And I could spend all day reading and commenting. And then all of you would come over to my blog, eager to return the favor, only to find I haven't blogged because after all that reading and commenting, I'm crashed out on the floor snoring. And my kids are still in pajamas, there are no dishes because nobody ate all day, and I certainly didn't do any writing.

Sound familiar?

Some of you manage to do it all, and I admire you far more than I can say. But I knew something had to change for me. So I sacrificed. I devote 30 minutes to blogging every day. That means not all of you are going to get your blog read by me, but I doubt Nathan Bransford goes through and comments on everyone's blogs, yet people still follow and comment on his blog. I just need to make my posts THAT GOOD.

Three days a week, I write a blog post. I'm on a schedule now. You can depend on me (usually). I have 30 minutes to write my post. If it takes less time, I can blog hop. It can't take more time. Not an option. The other days of the week, I can spend all 30 minutes reading and commenting. Way fun.

This is working for me. How do you manage it? What works for you?

And very soon folks, I'll give you all the details on my upcoming blog tour. (In case you're wondering, you can already preorder the book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my website.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Indie-debut 2011


A few months ago I joined an awesome blog for debut authors. The neat thing about this blog, located at http://indiedebut2010.blogspot.com/, is that all of the authors are published by independent presses. The blog offers lots of support and promotional materials for authors who more than likely are financing their own marketing efforts.

Plus, all of the authors are extremely talented. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this group! I just love it.

Indie-debut is getting ready to launch their 2011 blogsite. But there's one thing missing: the authors!!! This is a great opportunity for any authors debuting in 2011. If you're interested, check out this post and email abigailwrites (at) gmail (dot) com.

Go for it. You'll love this group. Good luck!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Writing Compelling Characters

Jumping on the bandwagon! (Thanks, Elana!)

How well do we know our characters?

People aren't static. Everything we do changes us. Everything we witness, everything that happens to us.

Yet often times in books, it seems that the characters are static. Flat. They don't change. As readers we anticipate a change. We watch the cause on one screen and turn to the next screen to see the effect. If there is none, we feel a huge let-down.

The relationship between your characters is changing, evolving. Have you noticed? How well do you really know your characters?

My characters have a huge back story. Most of it is never revealed in the book. At one point it was revealed, but most of those scenes have been deleted. And it doesn't matter. My characters still react to things in context of their histories. The little reveals add depth to the novel, they add mystery and intrigue. Just like our relationships with our friends in real life. When we meet someone, they don't hand us a pamphlet with their back story (though heaven knows, sometimes it would be nice). We get to know them little by little. We discover their eccentricities and what makes them tick, and sometimes we never quite find out what it is about brown socks and rabbits that sends them into a tizzy every time, but we know it does.

With our characters, we get to be parents. Gods. Procreaters. Again and again and again. When I created Jayne for my book Inevitable, I had so much fun making her features, designing her personality, and thinking up her favorite things to do. But just like with parenting, an interesting thing happened: as I wrote about Jayne, some things really fit--and others didn't. How?? I made her! But Jayne took on her own life. She is who she is, not who I want her to be.

It's okay to mess with your characters. Do something crazy, just for fun. Write a scene where one of your characters breaks a personal moral standard. What does that do to your character? How does it affect the relationships with the other characters? Write a scene where the character witnesses a crime. Loses a sibling. Gets a scholarship.

Get to know your characters again. It's amazing how dynamic they are.

And, oh, another note! While the ebook of Perilous is coming out on October 5 (yikes! just days away!), the paper copy won't be released until November 16. Minor change! But I need your OPINIONS. I planned my blog tour around a release date of Nov. 1, with four weeks before and four weeks after. Should I shuffled everyone back two weeks? Or just leave it the way it is? (Those of you participating, feel free to give your thoughts!)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dread and Excitement Equals Insomnia

It's 5 o'clock in the morning (though it won't be when this posts to the blogosphere) and I'm cursing myself. I want so badly to be asleep. But Little Girl woke me up at 3:30am for her feeding, and I haven't been able to get back to sleep since then. So many thoughts rolling around in my head.

No point in wasting any more time. Since I'll probably be crashing in the afternoon, may as well get things done now.

I'm plagued by worries and things to do. I need to order things for book signings, I need to set up book signings. I need to update my website. I need to post about my upcoming contests. I need to email my blog tour people. I need, I need, I need...

And then I've been fighting this horrible anxiety. You know the one: What if nobody likes my book? What if I get so many negative reviews that it is BAD for my future? What if no one can FIND my book? What if people hate my cover and don't buy my book? What if, what if, what if...

Is there an official name for this feeling? It's called 'cold feet' before a wedding. Maybe we should give it a name. Paper sick? Hardly bound? Inkless? Suggestions?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Countdown: 2: I've Been Covered!


Here it is, folks, the moment you've been waiting for: My cover.


Perilous is a YA thriller, a high-stakes novel. It's got everything you want from a novel: adventure, drama, suspense, emotion, even romance!

So far we're still on schedule for the release day!

What do you think? Tell me your honest opinions! I want to know!

Friday, September 17, 2010

#$!$# book trailer!!!


I've about had it with my book trailer!


This thing is more trouble than it's worth. Seriously. If I had the money, I would so pay someone $2000 to make this 1 minute blip of awesome, suspenseful intrigue into my novel rather than do this myself. And I'm not even making it! All I'm doing is collecting the images and putting together a 'script' so someone else can make my trailer!

And it is FRUSTRATING. ME. LIKE. CRAZY. I'm ready to call it quits. No book trailer! Not needed!

The problem is that I'm spending way too much time trying to find the perfect image. And I'm not even finding it. And what I'm finding costs $100 to use, and that's just 1 picture! So I'm trying to make due with the free sites, or at least the cheaper ones. Their images are definitely less than perfect.

Oh, why can't I have a movie studio with actors at my disposal?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blogger Accountability

Okay, part of getting out of that funk is getting into a routine. Think of the things you want to accomplish. Now think of the time you have available to do it. Prioritize. Itemize. Detail each hour with what you want to do.

That's great and all, but who's going to make you stick to your routine? Well, no one, really, but it might help with the whole pride/shame psyche if you make your plans public. Then you won't want to admit failure to everyone. Right?

Great theory. Let's test it.

I'm going to take a two-hour block every day, from 2:30-4:30pm. This is the time I'm devoting to my writing/computer.

In these two hours, I want to:
1) marketing for Perilous
2) finish writing Inevitable
3) start editing Altercation
4) write a blog
5) read other blogs
6) read/respond to emails
7) make updates on Twitter

Things that I must do every day:
1) Read/respond to emails
2) marketing for Perilous
Really? That's it?

Time I need for each item per day:
1) emails: 15 min
2) marketing: 30 min
3) Inevitable: 30 min
4) Altercation: 30 min
5) blog: 30 min
6) read other blogs: 30 min
7) Twitter: 15 min

My schedule:
every day: emails and marketing and Twitter (1 hour)
Monday: blog (30 min) and Inevitable (30 min)
Tuesday: other blogs (30 min) and Inevitable (30 min)
Wednesday: blog (30 min) and Altercation (30 min)
Thursday: other blogs (30 min) and Altercation (30 min)
Friday: blog (30 min) and Inevitable (30 min)

As you can see from my schedule, my goal is to write 3 blog posts a week. Of course, things may not go as smoothly as I wish, but I'm going to give this a try. I think I will actually TURN OFF my internet when it comes to the 30 min. of writing time. Otherwise, I will keep on checking my email and twittering and all that stuff.

And of course there is no guaranteeing that my three little ones will stay sleeping when they should. Adjustments can always be made.

This schedule starts NOW! I'll report back (that's the accountability part). And you? Are you where you want to be?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Get out of that Funk

So my husband flew back to Afghanistan this week. It was not, of course, an unexpected departure, but it was most unwelcome, and I've found myself in a horrible state of mind since he left. I'm unmotivated, anti-social, cranky, sleepy, and unable to focus on the future. Actually, the thought of my future--running a household of three children while feeding myself and them and keeping us all clean and still participating in society--terrifies me.

But let's be honest. We all get in funks sometimes. (That's the word I'm using to describe how I feel right now.) And sometimes the thought of taking the effort to do something and get out of the funk is so exhausting, it's easier to just stayed funked.

DON'T GIVE IN TO IT.

This is the time when you need to get back to the basics. Make things a priority and focus on a) yourself and b) others.

A) Yourself.
Think of all those things you know you should be doing because they make you feel good. They're not necessarily EASY things to do. But now is the time to do it. Take the time.

Make some cookies.

Exercise.

Read your scriptures.

Write in your journal.

Pray.

Do a hobby: scrapbook, write, karaoke.

Vacuum.

Sometimes these things get pushed to the backburner and we think we don't have time, or it's not exciting, or other things are more important. But do it anyway. Throw your routine out the window and be spontaneous. For a day, then retrieve that routine because it's going to keep you sane.

b) others.
In other words, service. And I don't mean the kind you do for your kids and husband day in and day out. That's a given. I mean, when you think about someone else's needs and problems, you often forget your own. Or you realize yours aren't so bad. Don't put it off another day.

Write a letter.

Visit a friend.

Call someone you haven't talked to in awhile.

Make dinner for someone.

Invite someone over.

The best way to get out of that funk is to do something. So here it is, folks. I'm doing something. I should be out of this funk very soon. And in case that doesn't work, any other ideas??


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting Reviews from NYTimes and PW

Few things will garner as much publicity as a positive review from New York Times and Publisher's Weekly.
But how many people actually get reviews from them? How many people even try? Is it because they lack the courage, don't want one more rejection--or don't know how?

The first thing you need to know is, NYT and PW want your novel before it comes out--3 or 4 months before. They want a galley copy or an ARC, not a printed ms or PDF. They make exceptions, of course, but bottom line is, start planning on getting them a copy of your book several months before your publication date.

PW has separate guidelines for children's novels. PW wants two copies of galleys sent to them, followed by two copies of the published book. NYT only asks for one copy.
Neither wants anything electronic. They don't send back any material and there is no guarantee of a review.

But still, it's worth a shot, right?

And here are the links, so you don't have to go searching. All the information you need is here.


For those of you published, did you send your material to either/or? Did you get a review?

And finally, my random winner for commenting in August, coming in with lucky #97:

Shannon O'Donnell!!!

Shannon, you won a copy of Peeps by Scott Westerfield.


I just need your address! Email me. Or let me know in the comments if you can't find my email address.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Get that Blog Tour Organized!

Wow, can you believe today is the last day of the month? And I have failed to get my blog tour completely organized.

I could come up with a lot of very credible excuses...but the bottom line is, I simply haven't organized my time well enough.

Or my information, and that has caused a lot of backtracking. So, let me share with you what I would do if I were starting over.

1) Make a spreadsheet. This is truly the most important part. On this spreadsheet, make a list of all the blogs that you want to ask to participate in your blog tour. Then have the following columns (Not necessarily in this order):
Invited
Response
blog address
Email
name
date of blog tour

This makes it really easy to find your people and know when you're doing what.

I found it also helpful to have a

2) Calendar. On this calendar I've included the name and blog address for each person participating in my tour. I wish I'd also included the emails so I don't have to constantly go back to my spreadsheet, but I didn't. You can be smarter than me.

Bottom line is, everything involved with getting published requires lots of ORGANIZATION. I'll be more prepared with the next book.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I am a Goodreads Author

It took some effort and a request form to Goodreads (because I'm not that internet savvy sometimes and couldn't find my way around Goodreads), but I'm officially a Goodreads author!

Man, that makes me feel important.

And my book, Perilous, is listed on Goodreads. Here's the link. Add it to your to-read list!

I'd love to post it in my sidebar...but I don't know how. Help, anyone?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cut to the Story, Already!

So I'm reading a book. (What else am I supposed to do when I spend 10 hours a day nursing a baby?) This book, to me, lacked a lot of curb appeal. The cover felt too cartoonish, and the summary didn't grab me.

To my surprise, the book caught me in the prologue. I was intrigued. It actually started well! The first few chapters were rolling. I got excited and sat down to enjoy the show.

Then it started to drag a little.

Then a lot.

Now I'm wondering when it will end.

So sad! The author has a fantastic imagination and lots of great concepts. But the book is just dragging on! It needs to be trimmed. I find myself skipping paragraphs. I roll my eyes at lines that tell us what is going to happen right before they show us. Redundant! And I don't feel the romance at all. Yes. Less is more sometimes.

But at the same time...I have this haunting fear that we've cut too much from my book. I got this AWESOME response from the person I hired to do my book trailer:

"Finished reading your book. It was a really quick read, I read it in a day. A lot of fast-paced action! Now I really want to know what Jaci's dad does, what will happen to the Hand, to Jaci, and if the girls will be okay. Amanda kind of drives me nuts. I like Jaci alot. GREAT JOB, Tamara."

Which made me feel totally awesome! Yeah, like really. But she followed it up with:

"I felt like it was good the way it was, but if it had been longer, I would have enjoyed it more."

Which made my heart freeze up with paranoia. Mostly because I feel like people will like it more if it's longer, that parts of it have been cut at the expense of the story.

So. The happy medium. How do you reach the point where you realize the book needs trimming, and how do you make sure you don't go too far? Because in all honesty, as an author, we think NOTHING needs to be cut. We hate to chop the limbs and appendages off our baby. But sometimes it REALLY does need to be cut.

I don't have an answer. Is it the perfect length? Or does it feel like something's missing? I'll let you guys tell me after you read the book.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Character Meet and Greet

People aren't static. Everything we do changes us. Everything we witness, everything that happens to us.

Yet often times in books, it seems that the characters are static. Flat. They don't change. As readers we anticipate a change. We watch the cause on one screen and turn to the next screen to see the effect. If there is none, we feel a huge let-down.

The relationship between your characters is changing, evolving. Have you noticed? How well do you really know your characters?

My characters have a huge back story. Most of it is never revealed in the book. At one point it was revealed, but most of those scenes have been deleted. And it doesn't matter. My characters still react to things in context of their histories. The little reveals add depth to the novel, they add mystery and intrigue. Just like our relationships with our friends in real life. When we meet someone, they don't hand us a pamphlet with their back story (though heaven knows, sometimes it would be nice). We get to know them little by little. We discover their eccentricities and what makes them tick, and sometimes we never quite find out what it is about brown socks and rabbits that sends them into a tizzy every time, but we know it does.

It's okay to mess with your characters. Do something crazy, just for fun. Write a scene where one of your characters breaks a personal moral standard. What does that do to your character? How does it affect the relationships with the other characters? Write a scene where the character witnesses a crime. Loses a sibling. Gets a scholarship.

Get to know your characters again. It's amazing how dynamic they are. Maybe someday I'll be ambitious enough (and organized enough) to do a blogfest on this topic. In the meantime, feel free to share your scene with me. Just post it in the comments. I might do something with them later.


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