That Publicity Stuff…A New Review and an Interview

The obligatory linkage to the latest with BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS:

First up a review was posted today on Delighted Reader, with an A Rating. Here’s a snippet:

This was a fun quick read involving a quirky romance that was set up by a djinn.  Short stories and novellas can make me leery of wanting to give them a try because not everyone who writes one understands just how to achieve a good balance of plot, pacing and character development to fit into the page count they have.  Fortunately, this author did a great job so I ended up with an enjoyable reading experience that had me reading with a smile on my face and an ‘ah’ of satisfaction coming from my lips by the end….So, I can heartily recommend this one to those who enjoy a quirky magical contemporary Happy For Now with promise of the future romance with not a lot of time to read. - Sophia Rose, Delighted Reader

And then I visited Tara Kingston’s blog with an interview about a guilty pleasure and a little about what I’m working on right now…

Reviews, and Interviews, Oh my!

download (1)

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?

Book Trailer Made USAToday’s HEA column + Interview on Celia Breslin’s blog

Today my book trailer is featured by Robin Covington in her USA Today’s HEA book trailer column! Thanks Robin! Such a thrill to wake up to!

I’m also over at fellow RWA FF&P chaptermate Celia Breslin’s blog with an interview about authors I like and my preferences on supernatural creatures in my PNRs–stop on by!

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”?

Introducing a new site for authors to hone their project and attract agents: AuthorSalon

I’ve been heavily utilizing AgentQuery Connect to hone my query and synopsis and I highly recommend it. Yesterday, though, I was lurking in some of their forums and saw a post about a new social network called AuthorSalon and decided to check it out. Their tagline is: “Where writers work and network, and where agents and editors discover them.”

It is currently in their Beta phase and anyone who joins during that phase has a free membership for life. After this ends, which should be pretty soon, it will be 9.99/month. If you are on AgentQuery connect, the interface will be familiar because it’s either the same group of people or they hired the same web developer.

What attracted me even more was the structure and hard work required. So I decided to give it a go. Filling out their registration form is not the simple fill-in-the-blanks you’re used to. It took me about an hour, and I’d say that was on the fast side because I had a lot of the information they needed already developed. However, if you’ve not yet been forced to boil your plot down to one logline or even a 250 word summary, it could take a lot longer. It forces you to look at your work in a new way by getting down to the essence of the plot and conflict. This can ONLY be of benefit when you go to write your query.

I got approved by the time I got home from work, so I only had a short time to play around on the site and kick the tires. Unfortunately the membership seems to be on the weak side for romance, so I’m hoping some of my fellow romance writers will join. How it works is that the information you filled out on joining, which asks you for your logline, short synopsis, first 50 pages, a dialogue sample, a narrative sample, etc., becomes your profile which is now open for critique. You put out a call in their forum for peers at your level (which is In Production) and self organize about 5 people who will grade your profile. You also do the same to theirs. Through this process, you hone your profile until you feel like it’s pretty solid. You then call for a vote from your peer group, and if it passes, it moves up the chain to the staff. If they agree, you graduate to Editor Suite status and form a new peer group and get critiqued again. When you’re ready, you call for a vote and if it passes, a mentor will look at your profile and decide if indeed your profile is ready. If they agree, you graduate to Marquee status. At this level, agents and editors will be looking at your profile knowing you’ve done the hard work and due diligence to arrive there.

Anyone want to join me?

From their site, they freely admit that this will not be for the faint of heart. No one will coddle you. Here is their mission statement:

First, to make Author Salon a preferred source of discovery for literary agents, producers, and publishing house editors. Author Salon opens channels to professionals to keep them updated on desirable projects, and for those who wish to search, we provide detailed writer and project profiles, multiple search parameters, and lists of high-rated projects, thus enabling professionals to more quickly obtain a range of information, and in a manner conducive to productive decision-making.

Second, to create a 24/7 writers conference environ utilizing a criteria-based step by step workshop approach that includes a primary and upper level peer-and-pro review process, a separate two level review by Author Salon, additional forum-based draft workshops, as well as a final top level review on the part of seasoned peers and players in the publishing business. We tell the writer what works, what doesn’t work, and what needs to be developed further – while they can still do something about it – and before an agent or publisher shuts the door in their face.

Third, to sustain a suitable and pragmatic work space for the nonfiction and novel writing community that combines the technical advantages of a Facebook-like environ (instant chat, site mail, video embeds, etc.) with the content approach of Publisher’s Marketplace. In other words, Author Salon provides the communication and features technology the writer community needs while enabling easy access to a backdrop of publishing news, as well as writer resource and craft content.

Fourth, to make Author Salon a trusted source of tie-breaking, valuable information on fiction and nonfiction writing, craft, publishing, and book marketing that avoids the myths and sticks only to the facts.

If you need more convincing, here are the advisory agents and editors and here is a partial list of publishers and agents communicating with the staff about projects posted:

  • ATCHITY ENTERTAINMENT INTERNATIONAL
  • ANDREA HURST AGENCY
  • LARSEN POMADA AGENCY
  • KIMBERLY CAMERON AGENCY
  • GAIL ROSS AGENCY
  • THE RIGHTS FACTORY
  • SANDRA DIJKSTRA AGENCY
  • INTERNATIONAL CREATIVE MANAGEMENT
  • WILLIAM MORRIS AGENCY
  • SIGNATURE LITERARY AGENCY
  • RANDOM HOUSE PUBLISHING
  • PENGUIN GROUP USA
  • HENRY HOLT
  • HARCOURT BRACE JOVANOVICH

Up for it? Register here and then friend me! I’m AngelaQ

Yay, MLB is a finalist in the SARA Merritt contest!

For those that are already published, this would be no big deal, but this is my first foray into the writing world and so I’m super excited!

Just got the email today that informed me that MUST LOVE BREECHES is a finalist (one of three) for the San Antonio Romance Writer’s Merritt Contest in the paranormal category. I got super-great feedback from the judges, and the cool thing about this contest is that I can take that feedback and resubmit my entry before the final round judging starts. This contest judged the first 25 pages and a 5 page synopsis.

Judge #1 said:

Lovely story, refreshing take on the time travel. I loved that Isabelle will stay ‘modern’ and have to learn to incorporate into her new time. And that Phineas is a flawed and ostracized hero – always a promising situation :)

Another said:

The intrigue [the hero] brings to the table is impossible to resist. He remains a mystery even when we’re in his head, which gives him a surprising amount of depth that I wasn’t expecting. His past is well fleshed out, his goals are commendable, and it’s hard not to dig a guy who can light a woman just by kissing her knuckles.

Isabel is a character that is likable and relatable. Her sense of humor wins me over just as much as her flaws and lack of self-confidence. As a reader, I look forward to seeing her grow into the kind of woman who goes after what she wants and knows what she doesn’t.

There are really two conflicts taking place in this story. First is Isabelle discovering what she really wants, and then there is Lord [Montagu] getting what he wants. Both goals intermingle with each other, while still developing on their own terms. That makes this novel uniquely fascinating. I’m not just watching one really fleshed-out story unfold, I’m watching two.

In other contest news:

In March, I entered the first 250 words in Miss Snark’s First Victim Secret Agent contest. Out of 50, I was one of two chosen by the secret agent.

Thank you

for letting me indulge in celebrating! This business can give you some really hard knocks (hello, rejections!) and so I’m all for getting excited when I get good news :)

Stop SOPA/PIPA

funny pictures - I made you a cookie LOL
Just a quick post to let you know that I will be participating tomorrow, Wednesday, January 18 from 8 am EST to 8 pm EST, in the nationwide protest of the SOPA/PIPA bills. Other sites around the internet will be participating too, like WordPress and Wikipedia. I’m against piracy, but to shutdown a whole site for one of its users’ infractions is not the way to handle the problem. One day you might be visiting tumblr.com and the whole site will be down because one user uploaded a copyrighted image. This is a statement in support of a due process, the right to be heard, the right to be presumed innocent of wrongdoing until proof has been made.

Tomorrow some sites around the internet will be black to display what the outcome of PIPA/SOPA could be, if passed.