Monday, April 30, 2012
In book news, TROUBLE IN MUDBUG is now free at Amazon and itunes, so if you have friends/family that haven't read it, then tell them to download a copy while it's free.
In big, professional author news: I won the RT Reviewers Choice Award for First Series Romance (The Secret of Cypriere Bayou)!!!!! I cannot even begin to tell you how happy that makes me. I finally get to put "Award Winning Author" with my name. :)
So for vacation, I have all kinds of errands and finishing up the book today and tomorrow, then Tuesday night, my best friend Cindy flies in. I haven't seen her in three years, so this is a big deal. We'll spend a couple of days sitting by the pool, having pedicures and eating decadent food and drinking, then we'll head to our other best friend's lake house for a long girl's weekend. What about you guys? Any big plans?
Posted by Jana DeLeon at 11:58 AM
Friday, April 27, 2012
Amanda is away at the Washington Romance Writers retreat this weekend, but first she's signing Codename: Dancer at Turn The Page bookstore, along with 15 other amazing authors including Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Robyn Carr, Elizabeth Boyle, and others! Wow!
Since she's busy this weekend, we decided to invite two special guests for you today. Hartley Grace Featherstone, star of Gemma Halliday's Deadly Cool and the brand-new Social Suicide, will be interviewing Dani Spevak, star of Amanda Brice's Codename: Dancer and the upcoming Pointe of No Return. Here is the unedited transcript of their IM session.
Hartley Grace Featherstone here, reporter for the Herbert Hoover High Homepage paper. I'm totally excited today to have a special guest interview for all of you HHH fans. Her name is Dani Spevak, prima ballerina in training!
Hartley: Thanks for doing this interview with me, Dani. I know how between school and dancing you're totally busy.
Dani: No prob! I'm frothy-dog excited to be here. My sister says I'm an attention ho, and I guess I am! (Wait, can I say "ho"? Is that allowed?) LOL But seriously, very cool to think that kids at another high school would be interested in what I have to say. Craziness!
Hartley: Are you kidding? I'm totally jealous that your school has dance as a subject. All we get is line dancing for a quarter in P.E. So not the same.
Dani: Line dancing?
Posted by Amanda Brice at 5:51 AM
Thursday, April 26, 2012
The other day I was listening to NPR's book review segment, Word Of Mouth and they started talking about this book by Andrew Nagorski that I just knew the man I'm dating (my Mr. Big) would want to read. The book weaves together the accounts of American corespondents who were based in Berlin during the rise of Hitler. According to the review, the Nagorski details how the observers first saw Hitler as a joke, then as someone who might have some influence and then, slowly, the corespondents begin to comprehend the enormity of the evil that is about to be unleashed onto the world. Mr. Big is a journalism buff and a WWII scholar so this book is perfect for him. And the timing is perfect because Mr. Big's birthday is coming up.
I thought about all the things they could have called this book. The Rise of Evil or The Rise Of Hitler or maybe even Watching Hitler, Sounding The Alarm. They really could have titled it just about anything. Anything other than Hitlerland. Hitlerland sounds evil, demented and flippant all at the same time. It's the punchline of a joke a comedian delivers the day before he has to offer up a public apology to save his career. It's the theme park you put into Dante's 9th circle of hell (I'll apologize for that crack tomorrow). I'm sure the title plays off something that someone said in the book, but still!
And yet it looks like a really good book! All the reviewers are raving. Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, they're all raving about it. Even Kirkus Book Reviews loves it and Kirkus is like that Mikey kid from the old Life cereal ads, they hate everything. I mean this book was even blurbed by Henry Kissinger. Anyone who is a WWII history buff is going to want it.
But as a gift it's a little tricky.
So I just bought the book on my most recent trip to Barnes & Noble, sent Mr. Big an email saying, "I got you a book called Hitlerland, I think you'll like it." and later gave it to him after a casual weekend lunch. It was the only way to go. A book titled Hitlerland can't be given for a special occasion.
Hitlerland is the gift you give a man just because you care.
Posted by kyradavis at 12:37 AM
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
First off - a HUGE shout-out to my KF colleagues Gemma and Christie for hitting the New York Times Bestseller List!!! It's so exciting! It'll be interesting to see who will be next...
As some of you know, I'm working on a collection of short stories featuring Bombays past. I'm calling it SNUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON, AND OTHER BOMBAY BEDTIME STORIES. Awesome title, right?
So the first story is called "Bombay - The First Bombay." It features an orphaned sixteen year old girl (not a kid in those days - practically long in the tooth) named Bombay living on the island of Crete in ancient Greece who takes on the very first assassination assignment. Well, not the first assassination assignment ever - just the first contract for the Bombay Family.
I've got three other stories fleshed out. But I need your help. What historic eras or historic assassinations would you like to see in this collection? I'd like to have 10 in total. Here are a few other ideas:
Bethlehem Bombay (Beth) - biblical times - specializes in those bastard Pharisees
Macedonia Bombay (Mace) - Ancient Rome and secret mastermind behind Caesar's assassination
Castile Bombay (Not sure he needs a nickname) - Middle Ages in Europe - Assigned to snuff the magic dragon terrorizing a village.
I was thinking of doing something with the Inquisition - but that seems a bit dark - even for me. Oh, and vote on the three covers above - or tell me to come up with something completely different. Ignore the fuzziness - I haven't purchased the stock photos yet.
I can't wait to see what you come up with...
Posted by Leslie Langtry at 3:00 AM
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
I know I’m jumping ahead of myself. I do that when I’m excited. You see, last Wednesday, I accomplished something that I’d dreamed about doing, a big pie-in-the-sky or win-the-lottery kind of a dream. One of those you fantasize about, but deep in your heart you know the odds aren’t really in your favor of ever achieving it. You see, I, or I guess I should say, C.C. Hunter, hit the New York Times Best Seller List for Children’s Series.
My editor had forewarned me—Not that I would make it, but that I probably wouldn’t. Now, that sounds bad, so let me explain. She had held her breath for me to hit with book one in the series and then again with book two. I was close, but no cigar. However, she explained that with a third book in a series, you move to a different list and the competition is really tough. “I think you’ll make the USA Today list,” she said, encouraging me. And I held tight to that possibility.
But while holding tight, I didn’t even have time to fixate on it. To say I’ve been busy lately is a great understatement. I’ve been completely in the weeds, deadlines up the yen yang, promoting a new book release, and events left and right. On Wednesday morning, I had signed books at (TLA) the Texas Library Association. Then I rushed home to work on a very, very long to-do list.
I was leaving at six the next morning for the Missouri City Writer’s Conference where I was to give four workshops. A conference that I hadn’t had time to prepare for yet. I didn’t know what I was wearing, (I prayed I had clean underwear) I hadn’t printed up my handouts, or my notes for my talk, and I hadn’t packed. I was balls to the walls trying to make up for lost time, when my phone rang. I answered my phone and heard a woman screaming to high heaven and saying words I can’t post on the blog. (I love my editor!)
I had made the New York Times—I hit #7 for my entire series, Shadow Falls, on the Children’s Best-selling series list. Holy Crap!!
At that moment, I thought about running out to buy a bottle of champagne. But nope, when I drink, I am not productive and I had a lot of production yet to do. And just when I thought I was making headway and hit the print button to get my handouts and notes printed out, my printer chose right then to bite the dust. Have you ever had a ten-minute conversation with a dead printer, called it names you wouldn’t normally have said, and yet couldn’t stop smiling because you were still so darn happy with some news?
Anyway, I ran around like a crazy woman on speed, and my wonderful hubby followed me, trying to help and trying to understand my mutterings. It sort of reminded me of when I was in labor; he just kept telling me it was going to be okay, and asking what he could do every time I screamed. I think he even offered to rub my back once.
“I have to pack!” I told him, and when he looked like he was going to offer to do it, I came to my senses. I was not going to let him decide what I was wearing at the conference. Love the man, but he doesn’t have an ounce of fashion sense. (Plus, he would probably decide I didn’t need a bra. And believe me, the people in St. Louis wouldn’t have appreciated that!) Finally, we both calmed down a bit. He hooked up a different printer to spit out my handouts and notes, and then ran to get copies.
Knowing I hadn’t eaten anything most of the day, on the way home, he stops off at the grocery store and picked me up my favorite Lean Cuisine dinner.
At ten that night, I finally found the four minutes to stick the thing in the microwave. I wolfed down the entrée and drank the last two ounces of red wine I had in the house that had been opened three days before. (I think it was still good. I believe it was the excitement and stress and not the wine that caused the stomach flutters. ) Anyway, while I ate, hubby looked over at me and said, “If you ever tell anyone that the night you hit the New York Times, I brought you a frozen dinner, I’ll kill you!” (Sorry, babe! Just make it quick and easy, okay?)
Sleeping that night was slightly difficult. It’s hard to rest while hyperventilating from “damn-I-really-did-it” nerves. And at five in the morning, before I left for the airport, I went to my computer and saw that I’d also hit #49 on the USA Today list. Guys, I didn’t need a plane to get to St. Louis. I was flying so high I could have floated there.
And here’s the most important part of this blog: Thank you!! Thank you to all my readers who have helped me get here. Thank you for picking up my books, for laughing at my jokes, and for those emails that gave me encouragement and inspiration to keep going, even when the going got tough. Thank you to all my writing buddies who supported me, to my family who shared my dream of publishing. And to my hubby whose continues to give me great ideas for blogs.
And thank you to all the people at the Missouri Writer’s Conference for celebrating my news with me.
Posted by Christie Craig at 3:30 AM
Monday, April 23, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
I'm at 3 months and counting from B-day... baby's due date. And I'm starting to feel it. Know how distracting it is to be in the middle of writing a tense scene and get kicked in the ribs... from the inside? Very. Anyway, little kicker is coming soon, and it feels like I have way more to do than is humanly possible to get done in 3 months. Like, just for starters, writing two books. Eek! Yeah, the sad truth is, that may not happen. And that's just the first thing on my list. There seem to be a million other things that need to get done. But, I'm noticing that with Baby #3 my attitude toward a lot of those things has changed drastically from the way I got ready for Baby #1. For example...
The Man: Maybe?
Me: good enough. It'll be summer. He doesn't need clothes.
~ Trigger Happy Halliday
Posted by Gemma Halliday at 3:00 AM
Thursday, April 19, 2012
I've blogged about how mild this past winter was. The snowblower stayed put in the garage and I only had to shovel about three times. The prior two winters we had record snowfalls. This winter we had record warmth. I could get used to winters like this.
With the mild winter came an early spring. And that means yard work. Two winters ago an ice storm took down an unpruned (and large) apple tree in my back yard, the weight of the ice literally uprooting the tree, creating a grotesquely ugly stump. Due to the location of the stump inside a fenced yard, the logistics of getting a grinder into the yard to chew up the stump (not to mention the cost of the project) seemed a bit daunting. And really. How hard could it be to get rid of an uprooted stump?
The answer? Longer than I expected.
I'm the head of household, so that makes yours truly responsible for maintenance and yard work. I took the advice of friends and coworkers and decided to burn the stump up. You know. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Yeah. Right. Easier said than done. I bet I built ten separate bonfires over that stupid stump trying to eradicate it. Finally two days ago, I lit my final pyre and let that puppy smolder for twenty-four hours. And...voila! The stump is toast.
Of course, I now have an ugly eyesore of a burn spot in the back of my yard, but some grass seed and fertilizer should take care of that. On the up side, the hostas are thriving and my garden plots are ready for planting.
Have you ventured out into the yard yet? What summer projects are you planning to tackle? Will you put in a garden this year? If so, what do you expect to plant? Will you grow enough to can?
I've got plans in the works to take a corner of my yard that had been used for a sandbox and take pavers and extend my patio. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Posted by Kathy Bacus at 4:00 AM
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Last week, hundreds upon hundreds of readers, writers and publishing industry folk descended on Chicago for the big reader/publishing conference sponsored by RT Reviews magazine. It was utter mayhem and boy, did I have fun.
Other than oogling cover models (I swear I was just giving them directions), we networked, went to publisher/editor dinners and generally tried to get into as much trouble as possible. We also came back with books. Lots and lots of lovely books.
And because you are all so great, I'm giving away part of my stash right here!
One lucky commenter gets my RT bag, along with brand spanking new copies of:
Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar (Advanced Reading Copy - the book comes out next month)
A Touch of Crimson by Sylvia Day
Blood Rights by Kristen Painter
The Doomsday Key by James Rollins
Be My Baby by Meg Benjamin
To enter, just post and say that you want the books! I'll draw a winner tonight.
Posted by Angie Fox at 3:00 AM
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
I don’t watch a lot of TV. I wish I had the time to watch my favorite shows, but I don’t. I watched the first episode of Smash and loved it. I even programed the DVR to record it every week, but haven’t found the time to watch the rest. NCIS was always a must see for the family and me, but even that has fallen by the wayside this year.
This year I’m writing for two publishers and am contracted to write five books (two down, three to go) in fifteen months. Between writing like a mad woman; trying to keep up with blogging and twitter; trying to pick up after, ferry around, and feed three teenagers; and dealing with a husband who is on a huge project at work which has entailed working most nights and every weekend for the last twelve weeks, I just don’t have time.
This past weekend however, I was almost all caught up and my husband was home—a rarity these days. I got home from my critique meeting on Sunday, we had a wonderful family dinner, and DH (dear husband or damn husband depending on my mood) suggested watching TV. I thought what the heck. Frankly, I was just happy to see him when he was not sleeping.
He scrolled through NetFlix, which brought about a sigh of relief on my part. DH is the type to want to watch things like Hoover Dam – The American Experience—over and over and over again. I watched it with him and I fell asleep every time. It was the same with Building the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s not that I don’t love the Brooklyn Bridge, but really, watching it being built is just not my cup of tea. Anyway, and we came upon the BBC show Sherlock and I mentioned that I’d wanted to watch that ever since I heard about it. We tuned in and were held spellbound for three hours. (We watched the first two episodes)
It was amazing! The acting, the cinematography, the writing—everything was awesome. Wow! I’m in love with this show! I thought I would miss the steampunk feel of the Sherlock Holmes I knew and loved since this is a modern-day telling of Sherlock Holmes, but I didn’t.
When Robert Downey Jr. made the first of his Sherlock Holmes movies with Jude Law I wanted to see it.
I’ve been a big RDJ fan for forever—I love his acting, and I adore his music. I think he’s one of the best actors out there, and well, Jude Law is always fun to look at too.
I wish I had been able to see it in the theater, but we almost never go to the movies—taking a family of five out to dinner and a movie with drinks and popcorn would result in me having to get a second mortgage...or a third. Sigh. Plus, we’re all so busy; going out at all is a scheduling nightmare. I think we saw it on NetFix when it came out and were awestruck. RDJ made the most wonderful Sherlock, but what really impressed me was how well Jude Law played Watson. When the second movie came out, I stole away with my DH and we actually saw it at the theater. I felt a little guilty because we left the kids home, but hey, I figured we deserve a night out for once and I’m so glad we went. The big screen really made the movie spectacular.
I never read the Sherlock Holmes books, something I think I’m going to have to remedy since I’m turning out to be such a big fan.
So what about you? Have you watched the show? The movies? Which do you like better? Discuss...
Monday, April 16, 2012
You know it's really spring when....yep, you find snakes in your pool. Okay, can I just go ahead and say ICK and get it out of the way? I'm not a girly girl, of the strictest definition. In fact, I'm a tomboy, but I don't like snakes. I especially don't like snakes in the pool, which is my version of a man-cave.
It started on Saturday when the pool guy removed one from the main drain filter. Dead, of course, but stinky. Then as my husband and I were working on the pool cleaner, I saw one riding around the pool on my thermometer. Granted, it was a baby, but even a baby water moccasin is not something you want in your pool. Ever.
So it had to go.
Of course, the snake war reminded me of the first time we found a snake in the pool - right after we'd moved in.
My husband was outside working on the pool cleaner and he came back inside announcing there was a snake in the pool. I went out to see and sure enough, there was a snake. Then I went to go back inside so I could go to the garage and that's when we realized that the faulty back door lock had flipped shut and we were locked outside...with the snake. The back gate was padlocked.
As if things couldn't get any worse, then it started to rain. Not just a sprinkle. No, it was the unholy unleashing of the heavens. So my husband, me and all three dogs are huddled under the tiny overhang next to the back door and the dogs are looking at us like "Why don't we go inside?"
So finally, our neighbor across the alley comes home and we yell at her to call a locksmith. She gets a locksmith to our house, who very frighteningly opens our front door in a matter of seconds and then lets us back in.
I love spring. I love the heating up and the flowers blooming (even though my allergies hate it, but I can do without the snakes. There's a 150-acre park across the street. If they'd just stay over there, I'd be happy to put my shovel away.
Posted by Jana DeLeon at 9:06 AM
Saturday, April 14, 2012
It's my pleasure today to host Claire Gillian, a fellow accountant who has also written a humorous financial-centered crime novel. Who knew there was two of us? Claire found me through the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop newsletter and we've had lots of fun discussing our experiences in public accounting and our books. If you enjoy my Death and Taxes books, you're sure to like Claire's, too. With no further adieu, here's Claire!
When I was a senior in college, the “Big Eight” public accounting firms wined and dined the top graduates, trying to woo them into their mechanical pencil-wielding armies. The reality was most of us had no inkling what it meant to be a certified public accountant or CPA. We just knew that was the highest-paying and most prestigious job an accounting graduate could land. My sum total exposure to the profession, beyond the requisite nuts and bolts accounting courses, was one paltry class on auditing and one bamboo-shoots-under-the-fingernails class on taxation. The only decision I was sure of was that I wanted nothing to do with preparing tax returns (sorry, Diane Kelly).
So I became an auditor. On paper, if you squinted really hard and had a vivid imagination, it seemed kind of like a white collar Dirty Harry job…only without the gun, without the fast car, without much danger beyond paper cuts and pinched fingers in binder clips, but with the added intrigue of pantyhose, pumps and penguin suits. We also had our own cutesy jargon. “Go ahead. Make my day,” found its equivalent voice in such clever auditing witticisms as “book it, Dann-o” and “tick, tie and verify”. Woo-hoo, party on, Mortimer!
I know, I know. Who wouldn’t want to work in public accounting as an auditor? Well…there were always a handful of people everyone wished had not made that choice. They were the PURE’s, the previously undetected recruiting errors, the people who looked great on paper and interviewed well but couldn’t deliver the goods once hired. I had a PURE work for me once. My first clue was when he spelled the word “water” wrong--but not always--throughout his work on the Water & Sewer Fund of a Dallas area municipality. And that was merely the tip of the wattery (sic) iceberg.
“Who hired that guy?” we whispered.
“He’s such a PURE!”
“Bet they fire him right after busy season’s over.” (Because even a PURE had enough body warmth to add value during the months between January and April.)
In the wake of the scandals of the early 2000s (Enron? Arthur Andersen?) and the resulting overhaul of the accounting industry, the recruiting error could also be made by the employee. Suddenly, the employer was the PURE. Such was never the case when I worked in public accounting. Back then, The Big Eight could do no wrong…until the public they were paid to protect discovered that, yes, actually, they could and did. And that’s one reason why there are half as many large public accounting firms today, called--drumroll, please--The Big Four. We are nothing if not original and succinct.
Was I a PURE? Nah, but then again, one of the hallmarks of being a PURE is having absolutely no clue that you are one. Like my new t-shirt? My staff gave it to me…to help celebrate my debut novel releasing on tax day. They think I’m totally awesome!
Friday, April 13, 2012
The other lovely ladies of this blog have experienced this particular hell on numerous occasions, but as the "baby" of the group with only one book currently under my belt, this is my first time.
(I sort of hear scary music in my head when I read that last line.)
It's not exactly a secret that after getting tired of waiting for NY to call, I listened to my biggest cheerleaders (writing friends like the fabulously talented Gemma Halliday, Kristen Painter, Rhonda Stapleton, Gwen Hayes, and Melissa Francis) and took matters into my own hands last year and self-published my debut novel, Codename: Dancer. I've never hidden that fact.
So if I'm my own publisher, why am I tearing my hair out about a particular release date for my sophomore effort? Why don't I just suck it up and say "Gee, I've overpromised and underperformed. Mea culpa" and bump that sucker back a month or two? Any reasonable person would do that, especially when they have a newborn in the house. (Although I guess he's not really a newborn anymore at this point...going on 4 1/2 months!)
I guess all those pregnancy and new mama hormones must have messed with my system, because I'm clearly not reasonable. Or sane. Or maybe I never was.
I'd originally intended for Pointe of No Return to be a November 2011 release, just in time for Christmas. Would have been perfect, since it takes place behind the scenes of Nutcracker rehearsals. But one year ago this Sunday I got a little surprise. A wonderful one. About an hour after hitting "publish" on Codename, my husband and I found out we were expecting our second child. So between working full time as an attorney, raising a toddler, and baking the new bun, I was all tapped out. No time left for writing.
Needless to say, I missed that release date. By six months.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have a new release date. May 14, 2012, as given to me by the awesome marketing team at Barnes & Noble. Upon Gemma's encouragement, I applied for -- and was accepted into -- the NOOKFirst program, which means that Pointe will be released exclusively for the NOOK for a period of 30 days before it's available elsewhere. They only select 4 titles per month, so I'm super excited about it.
So here I am at the tail end of my maternity leave, totally stressed out. I'm going through the book one more time before sending it to the editor. I've never written on deadline before, and frankly, I'm not sure I like it. Yeah, it got me to type THE END whereas I might have meandered and wasted even more time if I didn't have a concrete target date. But man, the stress sucks.
So besides writing a decent chunk of the new book, what else have I been doing since I gave birth? I also wrote a short story called "Barre Hopping at Midnight" which appears in the super cool FREE young adult anthology, Eternal Spring.
Yes, I said "free." It will be at all the major retailers next month, but for now you can download it from Smashwords. We hope you like it!
Did I mention it's free?
The anthology includes stories from such awesome YA authors as RITA finalist Stephanie Dray, Diana Peterfreund, Tawny Stokes, Juli Alexander, Rhonda Stapleton, and others. It's got something for everyone, with contemporary, paranormal, urban fantasy, and historical stories.
Here's the blurb:
Flowers, vacation, baseball, prom…what does spring mean to you? From unicorn hunters and teenage exorcists to Egyptian princesses and aspiring ballerinas, this collection of thirteen stories by some of the most exciting authors in Young Adult fiction explores young love and new beginnings during the most beautiful time of the year.
And here's the description of mine:
“Barre Hopping at Midnight” by Amanda Brice
How can aspiring ballerina Dani Spevak concentrate on performing at a spring arts festival when her not-quite-boyfriend is in town filming the lead in a hot new vampire movie and he was seen kissing his costar?
Yes, this short story is part of my Codename world, and fits chronologically between Books 2 and 3, although it stands alone and can be read in any order.
Oh, and it's free.