Out and About Today

Man, I’ve gotten lax with ye olde blogging. But today I have two posts up elsewhere, so come visit me there, if you so desire ;)

logo-squareFirst, I’m over at Paranormal Unbound begging asking for recommendations on paranormal holiday books, so if you have anything offbeat to recommend, please comment!

Next, I’m visiting Six Sentence Sunday friend and Beta reader Donna Cummings for her fun ‘Friday Friends’ feature where I had a fun time answering her questions! Thanks, Donna!

A Little “Beer and Groping in Las Vegas” with Angela Quarles

Today I’m on Sarah Ballance’s blog with a fun interview about BEER and its path to publication, and future projects!

Reviews, and Interviews, Oh my!

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Continuing with the promotion of the release of my erotic romantic comedy, BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS, here’s the latest reviews and interviews:

Thank you for your support!

In looking at my Amazon ranking, I think sales are good. I won’t know until I get a report from the publisher mid-month. But if you bought a copy, thank you! Your support means so much to me! I can’t tell you how overwhelming your support has been to me, I really appreciate it!

Spare some likes and tags?

Due to the way Amazon ranking works when doing searches, if you have a spare moment, I could totally use some Likes & Tags. What does that mean? ‘Likes’ are a small button right under the title page. Tags are located near the bottom of the page and you are allowed to agree with up to 15 tags that are there (or add your own). Believe it or not, when readers search based on tags, it’s not the sales ranking that puts a book to the top, but the number of people who’ve tagged it for that category!! So in one of mine, there’s a book with 1 review (3 stars) and a lower sales rank, but because they have way more tags, they are higher than mine in the category. Doing  this is completely anonymous!

Reviews

Customer reviews on Goodreads and Amazon are going well. If you’ve read it, rating it on Goodreads will help its visibility–you don’t have to leave a review there to do so. Thanks!!

Do you have a release out now? What things have you found help your visibility?

I’ve Been Tagged: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

This is a meme going around for about a month wherein tagees answer WIP-related questions and pass it along to others.

I’ve been tagged by Janice Hardy, fabulous YA author of The Healing Wars trilogy, and by one of my Beta buddies Linda Morris, whom I’ve had the pleasure of Beta reading two of her works and am so happy they’ve found publishers!

Rules for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop:
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?

I have several works in various stages of the pipeline. My current WIP is NOT ANOTHER DARCY, a magical realism/meta fiction romance, which I’m doing for NaNoWriMo this month. Langouring in revision is my steampunk romance STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY. Coming out on December 19th with Secret Cravings Publishing is BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS. But the one I’m going to post about is the one that I shopped for an agent, my time travel romance MUST LOVE BREECHES.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve always been a sucker for time travel and I’m a Jane Austen nut, so when I was brainstorming ideas for NaNoWriMo back in October 2010, I thought it’d be cool to go back in time to the Austen era and do some kind of tie in. But then there’d been others who’d explored that ground already and so I was noodling around in Wikipedia looking at famous people in that time period my heroine could meet and looking at Lord Byron’s page. It was while looking at that that I saw the entry about Ada Lovelace, and I was like HER. My heroine needs to meet her! So I readjusted the time period to 1834.

What genre does your book fall under?

Time travel romance, and in contests that usually falls into the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal category. I do get dinged by some judges saying they don’t understand why it’s in the paranormal category, which is frustrating, because that’s where it’s supposed to go according to their own definitions.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh man, I’m horrible with actors’ names and who’s who. I know that during revision, when I saw Toby Stephens play Mr. Rochester in one of the Jane Eyre versions, I sat up and thought, hey, that’s the closest in my mind to Lord Montagu! So him, but for Isabelle I have no clue, sorry!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a modern American girl working at the British Museum finds herself stranded in pre-Victorian London by a mysterious artifact, she must find a way home while navigating the pitfalls of London society, resisting her growing attraction for a hunky lord, and ultimately having to decide when her true home lies.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I signed with Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon, Associates on October 4th. We were scheduled to start submitting November 1, but Hurricane Sandy has delayed that, but hopefully we’ll be submitting soon.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I think it took me a little over thirty-two days? I did it for NaNoWriMo and passed the 50K mark after twenty-eight days, but I kept writing as it wasn’t finished and I seem to remember that it was a couple of days after NaNo ended. But that was in 2010 and I’ve been revising and polishing it until this past September.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s a tough one. For time travel and humor, maybe Sandra Hill’s The Last Viking. In my queries I compared the tone to Lauren Willig’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and Katie MacAlister‘s contemporary romances. After querying, a comp did come out: MacAlister published a time travel in September, A Tale of Two Vampires: A Dark Ones Novel. However, I also said that fans of the movie Lost in Austen would enjoy it as well.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

NaNoWriMo looming around the corner back in 2010!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think it’s a little different in that it explores an aspect of 1830s London often overlooked, which is the scientific side of things. Not only is Ada Byron Lovelace a main secondary character (credited as the world’s first computer programmer), but my heroine stays at the home of polymath Mary Somerville, and she attends a soiree at Charles Babbage‘s house, and sees him demonstrate The Difference Engine. She narrowly misses seeing Michael Faraday at the same party.

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Here’s my peeps (these are all Beta buddies–those whom I’ve swapped stories with for feedback):

  1. Kate Meader, who has a wicked-fun sense of humor, so I jumped on the chance to Beta her MS. She then landed an agent a couple of months ago and already sold her first series! Her debut (the one I Beta’ed) is Feel The Heat, coming out in 2013 by Grand Central!
  2. Donna Cummings, who ALSO has a wicked-fun sense of humor, so I also jumped on the chance to Beta her MS I Do… Or Die, which also recently found a home. Look for it December 10th with Crimson Romance
  3. Stephanie Lawton, fellow Mobilian whose gritty and haunting YA paranormal I beta’ed and just loved, recently found a home for it with Evernight Teen. Be on the look out for Shrapnel in January!
  4. Celia Breslin, urban fantasy and paranormal romance author, whose first chapter of a geek novella I critted and can’t wait to read the rest!
  5. Sarah Wesson, whom I’m eagerly awaiting for her to finish revising Full Metal Librarian as it just needs to be published, that’s all I’m saying!

I got an agent!! No joke.

I can finally announce the news officially that I’ve been hinting about in posts.

I GOT AN AGENT!

The news became official while I was out of town for Georgia’s Moonlight & Magnolia Conference so I could only announce my good news on my social networks. For some reason it won’t feel really official until I can post it on my blog (apologies to those who’ve already heard the news).

My agent! Maura Kye-Casella with Don Congdon Assoc.

I actually ended up with three offers of representation, but ended up going with the fabulous Maura Kye-Casella with Don Congdon, Associates. For those fellow sci-fi nerds out there, their founder discovered Ray Bradbury, how cool is that? In romance land, she represents Sophie Jordan and Colleen Gleason! It still feels a little surreal and that I’m talking about this happening to someone else.

I thought I’d share a little about how it all happened for those of you still seeking representation, so you can see that it can happen to you. Like I said last week, I have patience and hard work to thank for this moment. All three agents commented about how “clean and polished” my manuscript was, and that they could send it out on submission right now. Squeee! So if you read last week’s post, that’s what I was hinting at, that all that polishing paid off!

Two of the agents who offered were the two I pitched to at RWA, so there’s several lessons to be had there. One, to tie into last week’s post (again), thank God I didn’t give in to my impatience and send them those partials right when I got back from RWA. This is NOT, however, an endorsement of pitching an incomplete manuscript! That is soooo different from the phase mine was in. Anyway, onward with my list. Two, pitches do work! Both said during our phone calls that they remembered the pitch and were intrigued from the start. Three, do your homework on whom to pitch to. It wasn’t random, I don’t think, that this all fell out for me this way. When I got that list from RWA, I researched every single agent on that two page list and narrowed down my choices to the ones I thought were my best chance. Actually, this segues into: Four, get ballsy. I thought Maura was out of my league when I pitched to her and couldn’t believe I had the nerve to do so.

Anyway, this all started happening one week after I began querying. One of the agents I pitched to made me giddy by asking to have my partial converted to a full. I felt like if nothing else happened, I’d at least made that milestone–that an agent had seen the goods and STILL wanted to keep reading. The next night, I got my first offer (from a different agent), which left me stunned! I alerted the other agents who were considering me, to let them know and gave them a time frame to respond. Monday, the second agent (the one I pitched to and who had converted the partial to a full) offered and now I was reeling. Thursday, Maura emailed to say she’d finished, said some very nice things about MUST LOVE BREECHES, and wanted to set up a call for Monday (this past Monday). Now I’m on pins and needles, not knowing if she’d offer. Obviously, she did, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! This doesn’t automatically mean it’ll find a home with a publisher, but I’m one step closer and feel like I have the best advocate for me! For those non-writer friends reading this, most traditional publishers will not look at unagented manuscripts so this is my only way to get into their hands and on your bookshelves.

So this is not only me sharing my awesome news, but also my way of encouraging you. Yes, it CAN happen. I thought this day would never come. I’d read and heard all the doom and gloom about how hard it is to land an agent. But don’t give up. Every time I got a rejection, I picked myself back up again and kept going, knowing that others would not, so I envisioned it as an opportunity to move into thinner ranks. Many fine writers give up after only 5 rejections. Don’t be one of those. I wouldn’t be in this position if I’d done that. Instead of giving up in the Spring when I faced rejection, I realized my manuscript wasn’t quite ready and did another Beta round and then did all the hard work of polishing that puppy up!

Are you querying? Do you have any specific questions about my path? Do you have good news to share too?

Happy One Year Blogiversary To Me!

Actually it was this past Saturday that I posted my first blog post, but things have been PRETTY CRAZY this last week in Query Land (IN A FREAKING AWESOME WAY) and I can’t wait to be able to tell you.

Anyway, yeah, it’s been one year! I honestly didn’t know if I could last past two months blogging, but I’m so glad I faced my fear and ventured into this wacky world. I’ve met so many amazing people online (and then in person at conferences) that I shudder to think where I’d not be today if I hadn’t started blogging and tweeting. (Did that sentence make sense? Hey, it’s morning. You know what I mean.)

I was kind of surprised to read what I thought I’d be blogging about since I was just taking a stab in the dark: “writing tips, book reviews, musings, questions about my work in progress, the occasional rant.” I don’t think I’ve done a rant, but I was most surprised about the book reviews, because early on I decided not to do them at all as I didn’t want to delve into that quagmire. However, I surprised myself recently by doing a review of recent geeky romances and enjoyed that.

This milestone is a nice kick in the pants though, because lately I’ve been remiss in posting regularly. I had two conferences exactly a month apart and another next week (!) and then the craziness of querying in earnest, which started on 9/13. So this post is me recommitting to a regular schedule, which will be (except when away on vacation or at conferences):

  • Mondays: First Monday of the Month–Monday Hunk Who Reads, rest of them reader-focused posts.
  • Wednesdays: Writing Craft or Writer’s Life posts
  • Saturdays: Weekend Grab Bag
  • Sundays: Six Sentence Sunday

Here’s my blog stats:

  • 47,479 all time views
  • Highest views in one day: 648
  • 150 blog followers (115 via WP, 26 via email, 9 via feedburner)
  • The most popular page of all time? Monday Hunk Who Reads – Dan Stevens (3,283 views since it posted on 1/9/12)

So happy to be among you all and thank you so much for your support this past year! Do you blog? If so, are you happy you’re doing it? Did you think it would be difficult too?

Recap of RWA12, plus other news!

Man what a week that was! Last month (Wait. What??) was the Romance Writer’s of America’s national conference in Anaheim, California. Being an introvert, it took me awhile to recover when I returned home, hence the lateness of this post. Plus, I’ve also been busy polishing MUST LOVE BREECHES to send out and also subject to another round of queries (more on that at the end of the post).

I thought I’d do a quick recap, but focus on only how the conference experience was for me, instead of giving a highlights recap as many have already done much better than I could. You know, I actually thought I would live blog the conference? Hahahahaha, giggle, sniff. Yeah. I barely tweeted.

One of the main validations I received was the payoff in all the hard work I’ve put into my writing career in the last year, especially cultivating my social media profile. As conference roomie Jami Gold explained so well in her post, Social Media: An Introvert’s Secret Weapon, those of us who have cultivated our online presence saw the benefits when we arrived at the conference. I hopped on the airport shuttle to the hotel, and two other attendees were on board. Like a good newbie, I handed out my card, and one of them recognized my name! (Remember, I’m unpublished) — she’d ‘seen’ me on one of the RWA loops and we figured out which one and had a great convo on the drive.

I checked in early (I arrived in CA around 9:30 a.m.) and then took the Amtrack into Los Angeles to meet my cousin for a late lunch. Like many in LA, she’s a struggling actress. She took me to Cole’s in downtown LA, which just oozed 1930s glam. We caught up on our happenings and had a cute bartender who was kind of a geek about mixology, which was a lot of fun. He mixed me a very tasty Old Fashioned, which I only found out after my second one that he made it with 100 proof bourbon, yikes!

The bar at Cole’s

Back at the hotel, I texted Jami and I finally got to meet her at the Literacy signing! We’ve been Beta reading buddies, and it was so great to finally meet in person, someone whom I’d been communicating and forming a friendship with first via Twitter, then email and then even phone (I hate talking on the phone).  She was with Buffy Armstrong, who I’d interacted with on Twitter and we had a great time going around the tables. The room was filled with writers signing books, and the first person I had to locate and say “Hi” to was Tessa Dare.

Sidenote: I have a little confession to make. My first fiction writing attempts began back in 2005 when I wrote Jane Austen fan fiction. I’d created a website called Longbourn Loungers for fans of the 2005 Pride & Prejudice movie and we had a lot of fun for a while indulging our addiction and exercising our writing muscles. My screen name was Plange. One of the participants was Tessa under the screen name Vangie and we Beta’d each others stories. I remember being blown away then by her prose. So we were super excited to see her succeed so well later on! I’m still in touch with several of the participants via Facebook and email and they were the ones who turned me on to NaNoWriMo back in 2009 which finally got me over my fear of writing novel-length fiction, and so I owe a huge debt to the Loungers :) One of them is fellow Six Sentence Sunday participant Kate Warren who just published a fabulous ebook, Bridging the Gaps.

Anyway, this was a long way of saying that it was really great to finally meet Vangie (Tessa Dare) in person:

With the lovely and super-talented Tessa Dare at RWA12′s Literacy Signing event Wednesday night

Okay, quick recap this has not become! I’m going to try to be more brief! In fact, I’m just going to say a general statement, show some photos and hit some personal highlights…

The conference was my first national writer’s conference and I know they say that you’re not supposed to hang with the same people, but I’m sorry, I did. I know this might have made me miss out on making some connections, but what it did was give me the feeling that I was part of the conference, not a stranger on the outside looking in, seeing everyone else interacting. My conference buddies were the wonderful Jami Gold, Buffy Armstrong and Janice Hardy, and it was so great getting to know them better and know they had my back. Thanks guys, can’t wait to see you again! I also met other online friends and several fellow Six Sentence Sunday and Critique Circle writers, so it was like meeting old friends, but not.  :)

Personal Highlights

  • Getting recognized at the Literacy signing! Another writer approached me by saying, “I have to meet the woman who wrote Must Love Breeches.” I think my jaw hit the floor. I know I look befuddled and probably stammered. First, I’m not published, so… Huh? How? Turns out she’d judged it in a writing contest and made me feel pretty dang good with her praise. What a way to start the conference :) There was an irony to this too– we’d just walked away from Courtney Milan’s table and I said to Jami, “Meeting great writers like her makes me really wonder what the heck I think I’m doing trying to write,” and two seconds later, this lady walked up to me and said the above, LOL. Served me right for succumbing to the writer’s worst enemy: self-doubt.
  • Hanging in our hotel room briefly Thursday night with Jami and Kat Latham and practicing our pitches. Kat was pitching to someone I’d pitched to at FF&P and I said I might still have my one-page dossier that I’d made on that agent if it’d help. So I opened my laptop and we were reading the bullet points I’d garnered on that agent back in March and then Kat says, “That’s me!” — I’d had a bullet point referencing something that agent had said on her blog, LOL.
  • Pitching on Friday. I pitched to two agents and one editor and all went well. I wasn’t nervous and I think I have the FF&P conference to thank for that. It’s one of the main reasons I went, was to experience pitching in a less intimidating atmosphere before I went to Nationals. I got requests for partials from the agents (50 pages and 30 pages) and a full from the editor.
  • Being told by Carrie Lofty at her Pitch Witch Rides Again workshop, that my pitch was a “win”
  • The lunch time keynote speeches
  • The awards ceremony (though we didn’t get to sit at a table, despite being only 2 minutes late, so we missed dessert and had to stand for part of it until they brought in chairs). It was so wonderful seeing all those talented writers going up to receive their award and hearing their tales. It just felt like a big dose of girl power and was very inspiring!
  • Running into writers that I’d met at the FF&P conference
  • Meeting published writers I admire
  • Meeting online friends
  • Free books!
  • Great workshops!

Photos

Wish I’d taken more, but here’s my paltry offering:

Thursday Night, at the FF&P’s party The Gathering. The theme was Disney characters…

With the fabulous Amanda Quick/Jayne Anne Krentz. She’s the one, with her sparkling wit and humor, who inspired me to write romance!

All dressed up with some place to go! With my conference buddies Buffy M. Armstrong and Jami Gold

Jami Gold’s hand, and Buffy Armstrong adjusting her napkin… After the awards ceremony– we arrived two minutes late and so had no place to sit and missed out on dessert. So we ordered our own later!

All the free books I got (well, mostly free. I bought 3 at the Literacy Signing, and then sent some back via Media Mail for $13)

Contest Update and Other News

I came back to some great news. First I’d won a pitch contest on Savvy Authors that resulted in a partial request from an agent. And then I found out that MUST LOVE BREECHES finaled in two more contests, making that a total of 7:

So right now, I’m doing one last exhaustive polishing revision of MUST LOVE BREECHES, before I send it to the ones who requested it and also do another wave of queries.

Did you go to RWA? What did you learn? What stuck with you the most?

I’m a contracted author!

I’m so very excited to announce that I just signed my first writing contract! It’s for BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS, a 13K word novelette, due out in January 2013 by Secret Cravings Publishing!

I actually had two contract offers on the piece and opted to go with Secret Cravings, which I’m very excited to be a part of this established e-publisher.

I have to admit, I got choked up when I received Secret’s contract. I felt like all my hard work (and obsession with writing) had finally paid off, that it was a reality, that I hadn’t been fooling myself that I could do this.

This Sunday, for Six Sentence Sunday, I’ll post the opening six sentences to give you a taste :)

Here was my query, which I’ll use as my jumping point for my blurb:

Riley McGregor is a geek trapped in a Good Ole Boy body and as owner of a microbrewery, he’s just not meeting his type. Smart chicks never look at him twice. He’d like to find someone who appreciates him for who he truly is.

Rejected by a geek who wanted to “trade up,” Mirjam Linna has lost herself in her work as a computer programmer. When a djinn and a magic slot machine bring these two together for a blind date, Mirjam wants nothing to do with it. However, her sister threatens more drastic measures if she doesn’t take advantage of the offer. Mirjam agrees to dinner, but after that, she’ll say thanks, but no thanks, and see what’s on late night on the SyFy channel. But when they meet, they are surprised to find they had a shared connection in their past. Sparks fly as these two learn to be in the moment, be themselves and find love.

BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS is a romantic comedy with paranormal elements, complete at 13,400 words. Fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Monty Python, Firefly and Marvin the Martian will enjoy this romance.

Obviously, I’m super excited for a number of reasons. One of them, oddly, is that I’m looking forward to the process: working with Secret Cravings on the cover, working with their editor to polish this puppy up, etc.!

I also want to thank my Beta readers who helped me get my submission to a place I felt confident sending it out. Thank you so much!

Anyway, just had to share :)

What about you? If you’re contracted, do you remember that first moment when someone actually said “yes”?