Saturday, February 18, 2012

Storytellers Tell Tales

Happy President's day weekend y'all. Yes you read that right y'all. This particular writer has joined the Hillbilly nation and I'm loving it. My radio is permanently on Wmzq (a country music station). No more Steak, Frites and glace for me, I have holidayed in the Snow Shoe mountains of West Virginia, I have heard the cupids shuffle, the electric slide and the cha cha more times than I care to remember, my local karaoke bar is a honky tonk bar.
Okay Maybe I exagerrate a bit, but all of the above is still true. What I left out is the part that I moved to the DC metro area so I am close to the city as well, but I still love my honky tonk existence.
The one thing I have learnt is to treat every journey in my life as an opportunity to learn and grow. I have always liked country music but I never thought I will understand what it means to be country.
I have to tell you as well, everyone here laughs at me when I say I am a hillbilly, they say they will take me serious when I can pronounce the word hillbilly without my peculiar accent.
Ever heard of hush puppies? I don't mean the shoes either! I'll tell you about those another day.
Stay country folks, stay country :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Good Critique Partner (CP)

So, this is not the first post I am writing about my awesome CP. After her last bout of awesomeness I decided we too have reached a level where we can actually tell people what it takes to have a good CP and be one.
I know as writers, we have "thick skin", but sometimes I wonder how thick our skin really is? Can we truly say we don't get a moment of self doubt (if not worse) when we get a rejection slip? A CP is supposed to be the next best thing we have to an editor, so why don't we always take their word as gospel truth?
There are two kinds of relationship you can have with a CP
Uber Professional - Here you are guided by rules, monthly or weekly meetings. The advantage here is you are more productive and structured  as a writer.
Uber buddies - Mostly anything goes, but you still get the job done. This is where I fall into. I dont have that 'the sky is falling' attitude in life, so it is very difficult for me to apply rules to something I consider fun and joy.
Somewhere in between - I bet most people fall in this category, it actually makes the most sense to me.

Now here is my argument for why being uber buddies with my CP works for me. It is easier to take criticism from a friend than anybody else. If I do a crit for anyone I find myself apologizing profusedly the first time in case I come across as condescending.
I can actually be snarky in my crit and she would know I am just kidding. She knows my weaknesses, and better yet we chat almost everyday. It's like we were made for each other in literary heaven.
Enough about me tho' what kind of CP works best for you. As usual, I always want to know what it's like on the other side.

xoxo

Joanna

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I wanna have fun.

I decided to make this Wednesday post a fun one. The hubs gets in tonight at midnight and I want to start celebrating early.

Punctuation Update: I am now reading Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss (It's a really fun book, I'll tell you about it later.)

Last year I won 2 Miranda Dickinson Books from Kath Eastman's blog. I also won her a copy of her cd, because yes she is a talented singer as well. The funny thing is I have to play it every day because grabby toddler likes to dance to it. The first time I played it, he was ill but he still got up to dance. Every day he adds a new routine to his dance, so we are pretty much a Miranda Dickinson dancing family now.

Now let's talk about The Proposal. It is not a new movie, but it's one every romantic writer should watch. If nothing else it's got La Reynolds being vulnerable *le sigh*. It is also about an editor (Sandra Bullock), and that is my excuse for having watched it more than 20 times till date. It's got great romance, chemistry and it is about the publishing world (sort of). The chemistry between the two of them is what I look for in my characters. I just can't describe it, but it was strong yet understated, and I always cry at the end.

Now let's move on to Angus, thongs and perfect snogging. If you have not seen this movie, you should, it is so funny and will take you back to those days. Remember when you were fifteen and the most important thing was getting that guy to notice you? Well that is what it's about and it does not hurt that the sex-god (Aaron Johnson) really is a sex god(evil blogger is not letting me do pictures).
Love at that age seemed so all encompassing – we definitely had no check list or sensible signals to watch out for. I'll tell you about my obsession with Gurindher Chadha movies another day.

The best thing is; I tell myself I watch these movies over and over again for book research. I love my job.



Xoxo

Joanna

Monday, March 28, 2011

Comma Splice? Me? No… yes? Oh bumpers

Okay, how many of you know what a comma splice is? This is another day in my quest for punctuation perfection. So, lucky duck that I am, after stumbling about in bloggy land I got to Missed Periods blog (anyway you want to cut it – that is a funny name). She is an English professor and her blog basically deals with the nuances of the English Language. I honestly don't remember how we met but she never fails to crack me up while teaching me something new.

So back to my story, my first day back in the saddle I was on her blog and guess what I saw? She is starting a Proof reading/editing business and she is (maybe was) giving out free samples of her work. Since nothing in my life ever happens in small measures I emailed her begging for a freebie. At the same time she saw my help! I suck at punctuation blog post, et voila! I got 20 pages out of my manuscript done for free in one weekend (you should see the red marks. She was thorough but pleasant about it.)

She told me I have a comma splice. Do you know what a comma splice is? Neither did I. So I looked it up and it basically means I put commas in places I should have full stops (periods) or semi colons. For more info on that see her here.

The good thing is I am one step closer to my dream. I am learning from her edits and she even does plot stuff too. So while I go off to get head shots (lame joke) I leave you with Missed Periods, even if all you do is read her blog you would have learnt something new today.

xoxo

Joanna

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Long and Winded Writer.

Remember how I said I will be going through my punctuation flubbles with you? Well let me lay one on you.

Has anyone ever seen or heard Miley Cyrus(Hannah Montana)talk? No?

Okay let me describe it for you, she basically talks and talks till she runs out of breath, then she continues again. Now you realize she is a talented* singer, and is trained to hold her breath longer than the average human. So yes she does talk in very long, rambling sentences.

Is today bash an 18yr old Millionaire day? No, it's my first step in becoming a punctuation guru (I can do it).

I write like Miley Cyrus talks. I can write a paragraph or a conversation of ten lines or even more without a comma. When my computer green lines me then I put a comma or a semi colon.

Why do I do this? When I'm writing I get so excited the words rush to my mind and I become a rambling thinker. Periods only show up at the end of my chapters or scene changes. I tell myself I'll fix this during edits.

Then comes the time to edit and I get so excited I have finished a project, I can't wait to send it out. Those are my lame excuses.

The truth is I distinctly remember being bored to tears when someone taught punctuation, so this is really my fault.

Remedy 1

The Period is your friend. Having periods does not mean the sentences will sound stilted. Independent phrases can have their own periods and next blog post we'll talk about commas or maybe something fun like my recent addiction to Degrassi (someone help me! I can't be addicted to Degrassi).


 

Xoxo and TGIF

Joanna

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oh Embrace, How I love thee

Notice how I am skipping all of the sorry I've been away, thank you all for checking up on me, and am glad to be back? It's because I am so ecstatic about Embrace Books or Jane Holland to be specific. Most of you know I have been away for health reasons but the one thing I promised not to give up was my writing.

A couple of weeks ago I finished a baby I worked really hard on (I plotted). After two bouts of critiquing and heavy rehauling, I sent my top aces baby to Embrace Books.

Now here comes the good part I got feedback in an hour, actually it was 52 minutes – it took me 8 minutes to face my fear of rejection and open it.

I wish I could paste the email for you all to see. The editor – Jane Holland read it and liked, she thinks my writing is edgy, ME!

If you really want to know why I am so overwhelmed, go to her website and read her resume, she is all that and then some more.

Anyways she did point out something I knew I sucked at – Punctuation and Sentence Structure. When I saw that, I did a face-palm because I knew that was my weakness and I worked really hard on it.

Now this is how amazing she is, she went ahead to give me examples of what I did wrong and how I could fix them. I was really humbled by her email.

So guess what I am doing now? I have bought three no, four books The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, Eats, Leaves and Shoots by Lynne Truss, Woe is I by Cant remember the author's name and What a Westmoreland wants by Brenda Jackson.

I am hoping to learn from these books; Jane said I could study how other authors did it too so I am just going to be soaking up stuff. My amazing CP is reading Strunk and White with me. She is too amazing for words and is explaining stuff to me. Some awesome people from our blogging community have also offered to do some punctuation and sentence structure crits for me. I am so close to realizing my dream that I am taking all and any help I can get.

I also will share what I learn in my books in my blog posts in case there is someone out there who can learn something through me.

What have I learned from all of this? It is not enough to have talent or book ideas. You also have to work hard to hone your craft if you intend to make a career out of this. Watch out for the part two of my story, I am determined to get "the call" this year.



Xoxo

Joanna

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Special Valentine's Day Interview

Happy Valentine's day y'all I hope you are all having fun with the people you love?I love this book cover so much I could not wait till Friday to unveil this interview besides the book(Bound to Love) came hot off the presses this morning. I cant remember how Sally and I first met all I know is when it comes to romance you can't get much better than my special valentine's guest Sally Clements, today I dare you to find anything weird about her covers, she is one lucky cover cookie.

Joanna: The cover gods have definitely been good to you, did you just get lucky with both of your covers or did you have to put your feet down nicely to demand excellence?
Sally: I was just incredibly lucky, Joanna! I filled out a sheet on things that featured in Catch Me A Catch which were probably a little wacky sounding - artisan chocolates, a chocolate oscar, transatlantic sailor, yacht, west of Ireland coastline, matchmaking festival - and the wonderful cover artist in The Wild Rose, Tamra Westberry really nailed the whole book with the cover with both chocolates and boats featuring large! And as my blog is Love and Chocolate, it seemed very apt for a first cover :)
With my new cover for my Valentine's Day release, Bound to Love, I somehow struck gold again! Another unusual list: this time featuring things like Ancient egyptian gold jewellery, British Museum, forbidding island, Eiffel tower, redhead with tendency to fling arms about while sleeping (yup! she does!). Different publisher, this time new English Romance publisher Embrace Books, and I was very excited when it was revealed that the covers would be done by The Cover Factory, who also do Salt Publishing's covers (Salt are Embrace's parent publisher).
Joanna: How does it feel to be an Irish writer with books marketed to the American public?
Sally: Well, I've lived in Ireland forever, but I'm actually half English and half Scottish, and I've lived in Singapore and Africa too, so I'm pretty international! I read and love mainly American authors, so for me it's a natural crossover to write to an international audience.

Joanna: How did you discover Embrace books? and what made you think they would be perfect for you?
Sally: A member of my crit group, the fabulous Minxes of Romance, told me about Embrace after they returned from the RNA summer party in 2010. I had a manuscript ready which was based in the British Museum and Paris, and thought it would be nice to publish a book set there with a UK publisher, so I sent it off (and was delighted to have it accepted!)

Joanna: You are a self acclaimed writing class junkie, what are some of the best ones you've attended?
Sally: Gosh, I could go on all day about writing classes. There are some absolutely fabulous ones out there. My favourite would have to be Laurie Schnebley Campbell's classes, she's so insightful and clever, and so encouraging! Other fantastic teachers are Margie Lawson, Shirley Jump, those gals who do Discovering Story Magic, and if you want to know all about editing, then Don McNair has a fantastic course he gives called 21 steps to fog free editing. I edited the first chapter of Catch Me A Catch in his course, then made my first sale - and I'm convinced what I learned from Don played a large part in that.
Joanna: What is the wackiest thing you have done in the name of book research?
Sally: That's a tricky one. I think it would have to be when I was researching one of my as yet unpublished crime novels, and was hassling my doctor sister along the lines of  "I know you've told me about how mummification works, but I really, really need to talk to your friend in the British Museum, can't I have her phone number?" (needless to say, she refused, but forwarded 'what if' emails!)

Joanna: Ibiza, St Tropez or backpacking in Thailand; were would you rather vacation?
Sally: I'm not one for lying in the sun, and I like luxury, so I reckon St Tropez. Wine, glaces, le shopping, what's not to like?

Joanna: For your last book promo you gave away Swarovski Crystals, do you have any interesting giveaways coming up on your blog?
Sally: I gave away some swarovski necklace/earrings on my blog the last time, because I make them for family and friends, and they always seem to go down well! I find because my blog is read by people from all over, I can't really send perishables, but now I have my first ever print book, I'll definitely be offering a few signed ones as giveaways over the next while! but today one lucky commenter will win a copy of Sally's first novel - Catch me a Catch
Jake Forrester, a controlled, self-reliant security expert  scarred by his father’s murder is pursuing his goal of an independent life, relying on himself and logic, until he’s forced to accept the help of an impulsive, spirited goldsmith who follows her instincts, wherever they may lead.
When Tempest MacKenzie witnesses a gorgeous stranger being bundled into a van, she tries to help him, but becomes tangled in a complex web of intrigue. Tempest finds stubborn Jake attractive, compelling and infuriating, his logic the complete antithesis of her reliance on her instincts. And Jake is fascinated and attracted to the feisty redhead.
As they spend time together trying to thwart a heist at the British Museum, the attraction between them flares out of control. The thief has a grudge against Jake, and danger stalks their every move. Will Jake learn to trust Tempest’s intuition, before it’s too late?
About Sally Clememts
Born into a family of voracious readers and consumed by the family affliction, it seemed the natural next step was to write. I started in school, mentally writing poetry while running around the hockey pitch. Nowadays, I keep my running to a minimum, and write instead. I write in two different genres, mystery and romance. The mystery feeds from my love of the unusual facets of life. My romance from my fascination with characters, and how they respond to each other.I live in Ireland, and when I’m not reading or writing, am usually to be found in traffic, driving ‘Mum’s taxi.’
My blog is at www.sallyclements.blogspot.com
Bound to love available from Amazon and usual resellers: Here's the Amazon link:
Catch me a catch available from Amazon, Wild Rose Press and usual resellers: Here's the Amazon link
--

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Interrogation Room and a giveaway

 Did you ever hear something about dreams coming true when you were a kid? well here is the proof, I bet when she started blogging under another pseudo-name - Lia Bal, she did not know she would have to get serious so soon and become a published author; but it did happen and I am so happy for Angelina Rain; Please check her out - she is good people.

Joanna: You are still sort of an enigma in the blogging world, tell us a little about yourself Angelina: I’m the wife of a bad boy, the evil stepmother of a spoiled ten year old, and the mother of an energetic fur ball. I’ve been writing ever since my late teens, although I haven’t attempted to publish until now. I have a rather boring life so I write to entertain others as well as myself.

Joanna: What made you start writing? Angelina: I’ve wanted to write ever since I was in my early teens and had a dream that I was a bestselling author. Besides, I’ve always enjoyed reading, and after a while everything I read seemed to be the same thing over and over. It was time for me to write something I could enjoy reading.

Joanna: What is your writing process (Plotter or pantser)? Angelina: Both. I start out as a pantser but eventually write an outline and go from there to the end.(at this point I am proud to announce I am slowly dropping my pantser card)

Joanna: Chocolate, books or wine? Angelina: All of the above. Add a hot bath with good music and I’ll be in heaven. A good looking guy wouldn’t hurt, either. (as long as its not Johnny Depp or Enrique we are good)

Joanna: who would you rather? small press or big press? Angelina: Small Press. I write for small press because everything I write is too short for big press. I’m very happy with my first publishing house and the experience I gained through it. E-publishing is growing in popularity and I’m proud to be a part of this new community.

Joanna: I know you want to open up an animal shelter in the future - so your love for animals is apparent, do they often show up in your writing? Angelina: Yes, they do. My contemporary novel (out sometime in late 2011) is about animal abuse so there are a lot of dogs in that book. And in “The Problem with Love Spells”, there’s a werewolf. I can’t say if animals will appear in future books or not as none have been written, however, my current WIP has a cat in it.

Joanna: You write erotic romance amongst other things, how does this slip into conversation when you want to talk about it? Angelina: Oh boy! My in-laws still don’t know I’m getting published. I don’t think they would be happy to hear I’m trying to make a living writing about sex. My family was shocked to hear about it. And with everyone else I say I write romance.(don't 4get to blog about it when you tell them)

Joanna: Is Angelina Rain a pen name? Why did you decide to go with this name? (You will be competing with Ms Jolie for SEO optimization) Angelina: It is a pen name. When I was fifteen I had a dream I was a bestselling author and in that dream I was published under the name Angelina Rain. That name stuck with me. I never really thought of the Angelina Jolie thing, but I guess if any of her fans accidentally stumble upon me and buy my books, I won’t complain. 

 
Joanna: Why don't you tell us all about your book?
 
Indecent Encounters
 Sometimes a woman needs more than a lover…
Independent, lustful ladies find pleasure and intrigue with more than one man, from a scandalous vacation in Australia, to a forced seduction at a cabin in the woods. A witch needs to break a shameful spell, and an older woman slakes her sexual needs with two younger men. Cougars purr with unrequited desire and werewolves compete for the love of their mate. Satisfaction is just a sigh away as a surgeon bends the rules for her patient, and an over-stressed boss finds more than a little peace with secret admirers.
Find out what wicked delights await you with Indecent Encounters.
 
When you’re cursed to live your whole life unloved, can you really be held responsible for casting a love spell? When Gretchen realizes that her love spell went wrong, her only option is to reverse it before too much damage is done. However, when she wakes with a werewolf and a vampire in her bed, she learns that even reversing a love spell could have its consequences.
 
~*~ GIVEAWAY ~*~
Angelina Rain is giving away one free copy of “Indecent Encounters” and it could be yours. All you have to do is comment or ask a question (she will answer it in the comments). One lucky winner will be announced on Feb 13th on Angelina’s blog. Leave your e-mail address so Angelina can e-mail you if you win.

Links:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How can I count the ways?

How many times can I say am sorry, I have been a really horrific blogger; some of you know why and some of you dont. I have not been around your blogs as much as I'd like to and somehow you amazing people still put up with me.

Last year in my blogging heydays the lovely Carolyn Abiad was nice enough to have me as a guest on her blog and the post goes live today. She is having us international folk talk about how our host - land affects our writing, hop on over to read about how Corsica did not disappoint my writerly expectations.

xoxo
Joanna

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interrogation Room with Sondrae Bennett

Sondrae and I have had this in the bag for a while now, ever since I found her blog (I cant even remember how we met) I knew I wanted her in the interrogation room, she is kinda like that beautiful pearl you want to show off to the world or in this case on my most wanted list. She came in without a fight so i decided to go easy on her. I give you Sondrae Bennett

Joanna: Okay you strike me as the shy or withdrawn type so lets start off with a nice secret from you

Sondrae: A secret... Hmmm. I guess I'd go with the fact that I am a total geek. I love Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica, and World of Warcraft. In fact, I love Star Wars so much that when I was in middle school, I had a picture of Mark Hamill in my room right next to my bed. ... I can't believe I just admitted that. 
(you framed it? I dont blame you) 



Joanna: You have two books coming out this year how surreal does that feel right now?

Sondrae: Very surreal! Every now and then when I'm thinking about my book 'Arctic Winds' that came out January 17th, I break out in giggles.  

Joanna:    What made you choose Lyrical Press as the right home for your babies? 
Sondrae: I researched a lot of different publishing houses before finally submitting to Lyrical. It wasn't the first place I subbed to but I'm actually quite grateful the first one turned me down. Lyrical has been great to work with. I adore the cover they've created for the book, love my editor, and generally feel they've done a fantastic job.  

Joanna: Since you write paranormal romance(and i love my paras), I am kinda intrigued what do you do for book research?  

Sondrae: The most important research I do is about the animals my characters shift into, especially some of the more unique ones. Samantha, my heroine in 'Arctic Winds', is an arctic fox so I had to know what they ate, how they differed from other foxes and stuff like that. Gwen, the heroine in my second book 'Chasing Paradise', is an otter shifter. There's one scene in particular when Gwen is hunting for fish. I had to research how she would hunt and also what kind of fish she would catch based on where she was. And of course there's the small details that come up while I'm writing that I have to research for accuracy. What the house would look like where they live, weather and those kinds of things. 

Joanna:  Cookies, wine, books or chocolate? 

Sondrae: Ooo, I can't have all four? I guess if I had to order them it would be books then wine. Chocolate and cookies are fighting for third....not sure who would win. I guess it depends on what kind of cookies. 
(if u or KarenG baked them they might be #1 on my list)

Joanna:   How and where do you get inspiration for your stories?  

Sondrae: Everywhere. I'll be walking down the street on my way to work and I'll see something or hear something and BOOM a story idea will pop into my head. Usually I write down a few details and then put it aside to let it simmer so I can come back to it later.  

I'm still staring at your pretty picture so i guess you can tell us about your amazing new baby

Nothing will stop a wolf once he's found his mate....
After her skulk abandoned her four years ago, Samantha knew she would never truly be wanted. When she accidentally stumbles into a wolf town and is asked by their Permier to stay, she believes it's the novelty of an arctic fox motivating him. She knows she'll be on her own again once he tires of her.
Jason finds himself pulled to Samantha from the moment she faints in his arms. His wolf is calling to him, telling him he's found their mate and the heat he feels for Samantha is impossible to resist. But his little fox is loaded down with emotional baggage and doesn't believe she's worthy of love. Can he overcome her fears? Or will pack jealousies and the local foxes convince her she doesn't belong with him before he has a chance? 
Author Bio: Sondrae lives in New York City where she loves to people watch for inspiration. She has been an avid reader of romance her whole life, and began writing them after imaging different twists on the books she read. Sondrae believes the best characters are those deeply and truthfully invested in the situations they find themselves in and usually lets her characters speak for themselves. Above all, she loves giving her characters the happily ever afters they deserve.
Sondrae loves to hear from readers. Please feel free to email her and drop by her blog to learn about upcoming releases.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Let the Characters Talk

Since I am vying for the horrible blogger of the new year award I decided to pull out one of the five writerly posts I have in my head and appease you all with it.
On a lighter note tho' I got the inspiration for this blog post yesterday. here we go

I am a control Freak, I have not learnt how to let my muse inspire me, and I definitely don't let my characters lead the way even tho' I am el Pantser Supremo.

In my current WIP my hero is Latino and yes I was inspired by Charlie Sheen and Enrique Iglesias, in a bid to make him into a character I really liked I was going to make him talk like George Lopez and use his popular catch phrases like es ta loca? or que la (pardon my spelling) but my hero staunchly refused to speak a word of spanish, everytime I went down that route, my brain froze up.

I eventually let him be and just wrote whatever et voila my latino hero showed me himself, he was raised in America, in the social security system and adopted by numerous families; the only time he speaks spanish is when he is in bed with his lady love and no he does not say te quiero or te amo he just calls her chica - if he ever has kids with her he would totally call their son mijo.

I like that! am cool with that! I know him inside out and I am pleased to be working with him since he looks like my longterm crush - Enrique Iglesias; but even better he so tattles on the heroine, he told me she is always on the defensive and she is disgusted by abused women- she thinks they are weak (this is a big flaw we might not be able to get over, but he is working on her).

Here is my advice for letting your characters do their own talking and not be influenced by your idea of who you think they are

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_2n9G8hS3AbI/TPIfQoUDJBI/AAAAAAAAA1s/LATF0QlbDH4/s1600/Enrique+Iglesias+Photo.jpg
oh la la!
  1. When the words are not flowing easily to your fingertips that could be an indicator that you need to switch POVs or are not being true to your characters
  2. It does not hurt to stare at images of Enrique Iglesias or Johnny Depp for a long time
  3. The minute something unplanned for comes up, go with the flow and then take some time out to see how that could mesh with your preconceived ideas or original storyline.
  4. Learn to fall in love with your characters, that way you would still be able to write them in a good light when they throw you a curve ball.
  5.  Maybe because my deadlines are self imposed, I don't write like my stories have to be published so if my true to himself hero starts to look highly unpopular I chalk it down as a writing exercise and move on.
  6. don't forget if all else fails go back and  repeat #2 over and over again, it has been tried tested and true.

xoxo
Joanna

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Publisher in our Interrogation Room

 I hope everyone knows what it means to be chuffed because that is how I feel right now, I am pleased to introduce to you Astraea Press, a new publishing house with a refreshing twist. Owner and Editor in Chief Stephanie Taylor has agreed to sit down and be interrogated.
Some of these questions are from you, while the rest was concocted by my devious mind. Feel free to check the blog and their stunning covers out.


  1. N.R. Williams - I would like to know from Astraea Press what form of publishing they are considering? Traditional hard/paperback copies, e-books or audio books? One or all three?
Astraea Press - All three!  Eventually.  Right now, we're focused on our launch and getting our name out there.  Once we get our initial titles under our belt, we'll be uploading for POD, and looking into audio.
  1. the1940mysterywriter - how do you intend to market your ebooks and your writers? Granted that marketing budgets are endangered species throughout publishing, but do you have a plan for overcoming that ongoing problem and assisting their writers' sales figures?
At Astraea we offer a personalized marketing plan for our authors based on their location to aide their efforts.  Our marketing director, Alice, is already hard at work on these things.  We also plan to market in every avenue possible.  We'll be placing ads on websites and in appropriate magazines.  We're hard at work with social media, getting our name and our author's name out there.  Without our authors, we wouldn't be much of a press!
3.      Kimber Leszczuk.I would love to know what inspired them to put the ROMANCE back into romance stories? EVERYTHING lately seems to be all about sex - I think there is something to be said for someone who can convey emotion and a well told love story without it. Kudos to them for doing it!! What is their inspiration and motivation behind it?
Astraea Press - To be honest, I came up with the idea because my own books fall into a black hole.  I don't write erotica, I don't write inspirational.  I fall somewhere in between and tend to keep my sex scenes behind closed doors.  But I love playing up on the sensuality and the actual emotions of a relationship.  So after I published my first book, I thought…I bet there are other writers out there who don't want to compete with erotica (and lose) and need a house who offers only clean romance.  The outpouring of support for our venture has been astounding and I'm so excited that I took a leap of faith and opened Astraea Press with Jane.
  1. Joanna - How many books a month should we expect to come out of Astraea Press?  
Astraea Press - We're aiming for ten a month.  We're one contract away from our goal for February!
  1. Joanna - How do you maintain the balance between professionalism and making the authors feel like part of the Astraea family?   
Astraea Press - Hmmm…that's tricky.  To me, professionalism IS making someone feel like family. That's how I do business.  I'm chatty, I love to help and I want others to succeed.  You've got a question?  Ask me.  If an author and I were to disagree on edits, we can talk about it.  But as an author myself, I understand how emotions can play a part in the publishing of a book, and I'm here to make sure things are objective and we put the best product out there.  Ultimately, Astraea has the final say in a product, but I won't "pull rank" unless absolutely necessary.  I like to talk about things first!
  1. Joanna - Do you have any cool contests or pitches coming up? 
Astraea Press - We're currently open to submissions and we have a pitch scheduled with Sweeter Romantic Notions later this month.
  1. Joanna - What would you say to people who still do not believe in ePublishing?  
Astraea Press - Epublishing is the same as any other technological advance.  Just like computers, TV, cell phones, anything that advances, I'm actually surprised that books took so long!  E-readers, smart phones and such are all going to replace paper books because it’s more economical and easier to access.  Like it or not, it's happening and it better to embrace it.  ;o)
  1. Joanna - Apart for explicit scenes, what else would be a major turn off for editors at Astraea Press? 
Astraea Press - Language is a turn off, stories that revolve around cheating and weak GMC (goal, motivation and conflict).  

Even better yet Astraea Press is open to submissions right now! They have also challenged me to do one thing - write a story with the doors firmly shut, it is a challenge but I look at it as an opportunity to grow as a writer. Ms Taylor will be in and out all day feel free to say hi, ask any other questions and visit their blog.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It is with great distraction

that I bring you this blog post today, as I speak I am in the same room with four children under four years old, all of whom have the ability to make extreme noise.

That aside let me share my joy with you - its not about publication so you can keep the pompoms away - for now (but still save them specially for me, cos something's gotta give eventually)

I was walking around in Houston and found myself in walmart, i went in for some french toast but came out with 5 books instead - how did that happen? I think I went blank till I got back in the car and hugged my books like a dolt. I have missed walking into a store and just indulging in books, my in laws looked at me with concern but I did not care. These are books, I have not seen books in english just sitting and waiting to be sold in a long time so excuse my indulgence.

To make things even better I won 2 Miranda Dickinson Books from Kath at the Nut Press, and a you can have whatever book you like from Raquel Henry and an ebook from lily Harlem - all of these people shall be properly thanked next week.

let me get back to loving my books and squeeze a little writing time somewhere in between too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Rebel in Me

This writer can be a really nice girl when she sets out to be but just like the little girl with the curl in that nursery rhyme(I think I have a cowlick) I can also be very horrid.

By the way, lest i forget yesterday's story was pretty much Fact I left out most of the details tho'.
I am a natural rebel, i think I have been singing Bob Marley songs since I was born and now I like Muse (see the connection?) I won't tell you about how i flunked a grade in high school just to rebel or how I dropped all languages from my curriculum or switched majors after getting the best grade in my class just to irk my poor dad.

What I would like to tell you is that I am a rebel and I know there are a lot of you like me out there (if you are still in denial its okay too). I understand that rules, guidelines and all those do's and don'ts are really helpful but I still cannot help kicking against them when I see them. (I shall leave people like Jennifer Lane to analyze this behaviour)

I really appreciate someone telling me the do's and don'ts of twitter or blogging or anything else but at the same time the rebel in me says "so what? if  I don't follow your do's and don'ts will I be kicked out of your exclusive club?"

Some days i feel like yelling this is my blog - it says my name on it and I will pretty much do what i want - rules spoil all the fun right? dont tell me to put an excerpt of my work up; I don't want to be laughed into oblivion and don't tell me I have to post my blog schedule because I don't have one and I am not convinced it makes a difference.

And just to contradict myself in the folly of today's post you tell me your fave rule that is a no bender or breaker for you - here is mine. Learn the rules then break them

xoxo
Joanna
and I swear this is not a rant

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Yesterday, I was supposed to learn all about google alert but here I am google alertknowledgeless, so instead I will tell you what drama prevented me from learning all about google alert instead and talk about google alert later.

Anytime I tell you all a personal story - feel free to use it in a book or at least get wacky ideas for your books from it; here is my story.

So yesterday I was feeling way ahead of myself and even scheduled my blog post (for a pantser that is big right?), when I woke up in the morning I chatted with the hubs online and then at 8.30ish I heard grabby toddler make some noise in his room, so I got up and went in for our usual
"good morning"
"drink"
"say good morning to mummy"
"drink"
me with a very sad face "say good morning to mummy"
"a' morning ... drink?"
I pasted my usual mummy is trying to be a morning person smile on my face and turned the door knob - nothing! hmmnn no panic but it does not take a genius to realize grabby toddler has locked himself in the room.
I walk downstairs and ask the mother in law "Mom - do you have the keys to grabby toddlers room?"
and then of course she panics but keeps it downstairs - but what I get from her rapid phone calls is she does not have the keys, so I move on to plan B (sometimes table knives make the best keys)

But yesterday the table knife failed me and grabby toddler started to get hungry, I slipped him some biscuits but he pushed them back out  "DRINK!"

We soon progress down to a stage where my 2 year old is begging me to open the door, he tells me he is sorry and i should open the door - I try to explain that I am trying my best but he is in tears and cant really listen or hear me but at least i am still able to slip him a half drunk capri sun under the door.

The door knob has no screws or anything really and I have torn the fancy golden part apart but the obstinate door is still locked, I ask my son to go stay on his bed so I can break the door open with my shoulders, then the handy man arrives.

The handy man is able to cut the door down in a midst of sparks and a lot of noise (grabby toddler is deathly terrified of loud noises) when we eventually found him a lil over 2 hours later he was hiding under his duvet but you could tell he had been under the bed too - his head was covered with dust mites and lint.

He recovered fast enough to say thank you to the handy man - a man nice enough who refused to get paid because he says my mother in law reminds him of his mother and he could never make his mother pay him, my mother in law says this happens every time he comes to do some work for her.

So what do you think peeps fact or fiction and who do you identify with the most in the story?

xoxo
Joanna

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chances are

I am so excited I am writing this post and scheduling it a whole 8 hours b4 it goes live - I am all grown up! there might just be hope for me after all.

I am hanging out at the inlaws till the hubs gets back from this new round of travelling, problem is there are so many kids running up and down i cannot even hear myself think on the plus side tho' grabby toddler gets to hang out with his cousins and i can take him to childrens shows, the library and watch yo gabba gabba.

Okay so back to my post of the day Chances are .....
as helpful as the blogging community might be there might still be scammers amongst us (did I just hear you say duh? u are such a smart cookie)
There are loads of services being offered to help us writers online, and I won't really go into great detail about those services, but please please look before you leap.
Do your research! talk to your bloggy friends about their experiences, find out about their qualifications, ask them a billion questions and best of all follow your instinct.
Good Luck me hearties and if all else fails ask Writers Beware.

am off to send out a million batches of questions to some amazing folks, tomorrow I'll talk about google alert - it has me intrigued.

xoxo
Joanna

Friday, January 7, 2011

:-D

This is the only friday this year where the interrogation room will stay empty. I have interviews but I have not informed any of my suspects they will be arraigned today.

So instead I have decided to tell you a few interesting things and then let you all grill me instead.
  1. Nancy N.R Williams book is out "The treasures of Carmelidrium" I've got a feeling about this book and cant wait to bring her to the interrogation room.
  2. I think Nicole MacDonald's book "The Arrival" is out too (someone correct me if I'm wrong)
  3. I also did some pretty bold things in 2010 regarding the interrogation room that still has me grinning (one of them involves Elana Johnson)
  4.  Lastly I got the owner of a new small press to come into the interrogation room; its called Astraea Press and they put a new spin on their books - no erotica! you'll have to visit their website to find out more. Do you have any questions you would like me to ask? you know, the kind that is never on the FAQ page?
So there you have it, what questions would you like to ask me and what questions would you like to ask Astraea Press - feel free not to ask me any questions and put the heat on Astraea Press instead :-D

xoxo
Joanna

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What I learned in the New Year

Phew! it feels good to be back. I already feel giddy just typing this blog post.
Just in case you have been wondering what this blogger has been up to - I have been remembering what it feels like to have family around, having a 16 hour road trip with a toddler and a bad internet connection.

To start off my new year I am guest blogging today at Melinda Pierce Blog she has a new series called Warrior Wednesdays - Tales from the unpubbed, I seriously hope by the end of this year i will not be eligible for this series anymore. So please check out my battle scars here or here either ways check me out and I shall be all over your blogs in a minute too.

It feels good to be back.

Friday, December 17, 2010

For When you get snowed in

Do you believe in the Magic of Christmas? I do! I do! I do! I do! I do! (I am not an ABBA fan ...not)
The most magical part of Christmas is when I have fed my family into a food coma - the kid is passed out in bed too pooped to play night games, the hubs is slumped in front of a journal or the TV and I *grins*  have my cuppa hot chocolate laced with cinnamon and caramel, I curl up in my fave chair by the fireplace and have a good romance at Christmastime story to read under the afghan.
No other genre would work,it has to be romance, because if you have ever been in love you will know catching a killer or an alien does not produce the same mushy feeling you get from falling in love - so romance it is

I have compiled a list of Christmas stories out this year designed to cater to as wide a taste as possible. Happy Reading and have a very Merry Christmas
Call Me Mrs. Miracle - Debbie Macomber
Mistletoe and the Lost Stiletto - Liz Fielding
First Impressions - Nora Roberts (2008 release, but its my list harrumph)
The MacGregor Brides - Nora Roberts
A Fairytale Christmas - Barbra Wallace and Susan Meier
Naughty can be Nice - Cynthia Selwyn
Claiming Christmas - Naima Simone
All She Wants for Christmas - Jaci Burton
Holiday Sparks - Shannon Stacey
His for the Holidays - Josh Lanyon
A Cinderella Christmas - Stacy Dawn
A Gift Beyond All Measure - Anna Kathryn Lanier
Tales From Christmas Town - Wild Rose Press Authors
Mistletoe Rules - Stacy Joy Netzel
Melting Frost - Kelly Daniels
And of Course our Five Oaks Girls
Snowy Encounters - Clarissa Yip
Smitten - Silke Juppenlatz
Midwinter Magic- Nina Croft
Holiday Headlines - RM Gilbert

I am still a newbie to the world of self publishing so I honestly did not know where to go to look for Xmas stories from my self pubbed authors. Lastly all my lovely authors if you do have a Christmas story out or a fave story you like to read at Xmas time leave it in the comments and I will update this list.
I shan't be blogging much all of next week, so this list will be up for most of next week and the next time you hear from me I might be in Houston with the in-laws.
Do have a wonderful Christmas
with lots of love
Joanna St James

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pamper the Writer in you

Hello My Lovelies

Can you tell am awfully chirpy this morning?
I have had a week or more of bad news rolling in, you know how everything just seems to pile up on top of you when you are down? Well am over it now and the writer in me survived too, I am ready to start blog stalking too.
I could not take myself to a Spa or even a Cafe for some solitude, because lets face it when you have a child or even a pet they hardly understand the words "Mummy needs to take a time out now". So what I did was just give in and let my brain take a vacation (Sad I know), every night I made sure I wrote 50 words - 50 words that were sometimes spread over 2 WIPs, 50 words my mind told me was the worst thing ever written - a monkey with a typewriter could do a better job, but I still wrote something every night.

I had a rewrite for a chapter that I desperately wanted to send to the Harlequin fast track thingie but I just could not bring myself to do it. Now you know that thing inside every writer that just does not make you give up? it yelled at me yesterday. So after getting the toddler fed, cleaned and watered I cranked out 17 new pages in addition to my original one page, cranked out another 2 paged synopsis and sent it off to Harlequin with just 4 minutes to spare.

For once I did not feel like it was crap (it could still be to the editors) but the fact is - I DID IT! and I feel proud of myself, I got my mojo back and if you are in the dumps (blame the weather) you can get out of it too okay? just grab yourself a cup of coffee and tell yourself it will work out in the end - No Worries!

XOXO
Jo

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Five Oaks Gazette and a Worthy Cause

FIVE OAK’S GAZETTE
Author’s Choose Five Oaks!
By Paige Kenyon


There’s been some strange and exciting goings on in Five Oaks recently—not one, but four authors have based their Christmas stories in our fine town. And to find out just why these ladies selected Five Oaks, today I’m sitting down with two of those authors: Nina Croft and R.M. Gilbert, to ask them what brought them so far from home this Christmas.
Nina and R.M. have also agreed to answer questions submitted by the good people of our community. But first, one from me.
Q: I know you come from all over the world, so can you tell me how you came together to write the anthology?
Nina: We’re all part of a fabulous online critique group, Passionate Critters (PC) , which gave us the name of the anthology: A Passionate Christmas. I’ve been a member for a year now and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made as a writer!
R.M: Ditto.
Q: The next question comes from my editor Larry Follock. He wondered how the idea for this series got started? And when.
R.M: Back in May of this year one of our fellow critters, Stephanie Taylor suggested we get together and write an anthology of Christmas stories.

Nina: We all loved the idea. That was followed by a few weeks of frenzied activity, where lots of us signed up, the town of Five Oaks was born and a whole load of characters and places came to life.
Q: A question from Maddy Glover, who recently returned from the big city.  So what appealed to you about Five Oaks? Why not New York, or Paris or, or well…anywhere?
Nina: Passionate Critters has members from all around the world, England, Germany, Finland, but the majority are American, and so it seemed natural to base Five Oaks in America. Silke came up with the name Five Oaks, also affectionately known as Five Stumps by the locals because… Well you’ll have to read Silke’s story, Smitten, to find out why.
Q: This next question was sent in by our very own Dr. Ash Delaney. He would like to know, at what point during the process did you want to burn the town to the ground?
RM: For me, the second I signed on I was beating my head against the wall. I’m not a short story teller. This book ended at approx. 23k words (though my original submission was only 15). It was the first book I’ve written under 90k. Yikes.
Nina: My urges towards arson didn’t really begin until close to the end of the process. I really enjoyed writing the story.  
Q: What was it like coordinating your stories with women who are in different countries?
RM: Since we couldn’t sit at a table together. Most of it happened within the group forums, e-mail and skype.  It was very difficult. No lie, there were times we were ready to pull our hair out. And each others.
Nina: Yeah—that’s about the time I started dreaming about fires.
Q: Is it safe to say you’re all still friends?
Nina: Definitely still friends!
Q: Our final question was sent in by a reader who asked to be called Dina, (though she looks a lot like Edna Carruthers to me). She wondered how you finished the stories on a time crunch and what’s next?
RM: Love this question. If it hadn’t been for my sister, Rebekah L Purdy taking me away for a few days, I never would have finished. (She too, is a writer and will celebrate her first release with Astraea Press in February).  As for what’s next, we’ll promo together. But I also write young adult fiction and will focus my efforts on submitting my current WIP in the next couple months.
Nina: I think because we were writing an anthology and were all relying on each other to do our bits, we had to just sit down and finish. None of us wanted to let the others down, and that’s a big motivation. As to what’s next—for me lots of witches and warlocks, there’s a werewolf waiting to come out, and of course a few vampires in the mix.
Q: Sounds like you’ll both be busy. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Nina: Only that we’ve joined together with Decadent Publishing to support the American Cancer Society in the Relay For Life.
RM: You can find the Decadent Team HERE.
I’ll be sure to check that out and donate. And from the people of Five Oaks I want to thank the ladies for sitting down with me. If anyone would like to know more about Nina and R.M. then pop over to their sites.
Nina Croft         R.M.Gilbert
           

Find Smitten by: Silke Juppenlatz, Snowy Encounters by: Clarissa Yip, as well as Nina’s and RM’s books at Decadent Publishing!