I Have Finally ARRIVED!

I received a google alert for my book title, The Edge of Memory, this morning. The link led to a chatboard discussion comparing various social networking sites.

At first, I thought the alert was related to the series of Social Networking posts I’ve started on the Querytracker Blog. But then I remembered the flag was on my book title, not my name. So I followed the link and snooped around.

Hmmm… nothing about me or my book that I could see… just someone complaining that he didn’t have enough memory to run a particular social networking site.

And then I saw it. My book title, linking to my ABNA entry.

That’s right. Thanks to Amazon.com, I’ve become a stealth ad, triggered by the keyword memory.

Awesome.

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Gather ’round, Peeps! Tis the season…

The season to enjoy one of my all-time favorite websites, that is.

The Peeps Research site is deliciously entertaining evidence of what happens when awesomely funny medical students meet extreme boredom (with tasty marshmallow chickens).

The effects of smoking and drinking on Peeps cracks me up.

But my heart will always belong to the attempt to separate the conjoined Peep quintuplets.

You’re welcome. =)

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist

I feel like the father on A Christmas Story: “I’ve won a major award!”

If you’re the sort of folk who reads my blog, you are probably well acquainted with the ABNA contest. For 2009, Amazon accepted up to 10,000 entries of finished novels in February.

They narrowed the entries down to 2,000  on the basis of the Pitch (basically the meat of a query letter). Excerpts of the 2000 novels were then reviewed and scored before the 500 quarterfinalists were announced.

And The Edge of Memory was one of those 500 novels.

At this point, the contest gets a bit American Idolish… the quarterfinalist excerpts are posted on Amazon.com for Amazon customers to review. Based on these reviews and a formal score/review of the full manuscript by Publisher’s Weekly, the entries will be cut to 100 semifinalists on April 15th.

So, if you have the time and inclination to read and review my entry, I’d greatly appreciate it. You can download the excerpt here, and then click “Create your own review” to leave your thoughts and star-rating (the button to leave a review is on the right side of the page, just below the “Customer Reviews” heading.

Talk to Me: In Deep Smit (03-06-09)

So… um… it’s Friday again. Actually, it’s been Friday more than once now. I think with my posting on the QueryTracker.net blog, my In Deep Smit posts will become more biweekly-ish.

But I definitely have something I’m deeply smitten with to share this week.

I’m in the middle of another manuscript revision. An agent who loved my partial and requested my full manuscript identified a plot point that didn’t work for her later in the story. Her comment gave me a eureka moment for a small backstory change that I believe makes the novel stronger.

I rewrote the chapters primarily affected, and now I’m finishing a detailed line edit to make sure I haven’t missed any inconsistencies along the way.

And since I’m going through word by word, I figured I’d take the opportunity to tighten my manuscript wherever possible.

Now, you might think this post would be about the agent who inspired the idea. And I am indeed, deeply grateful to  her for her time and insight. But the object of my affection for discussion today is the Narrator tool on my PC.

I had heard that text-to-voice software was included on most recent PC’s, but I’d never bothered looking up how to use it before. I find reading aloud to be a great editing tool, but have noticed that when I read from my manuscript, I sometimes miss problems like missing or repeated words anyway because I know what the text is supposed to say and my brain corrects it without my noticing.

I wanted something that would read my text to me, so I looked up where to find the preinstalled software.

And there she was… Microsoft Anna, the robotic narrator, hiding under “Ease of Access” in my “Accessories” folder.

Together, Anna and I have obsessed over each word of the first 3/4 of my manuscript. Despite frequent careful editing by myself and hundreds of beta readers, I still found a few small typos. I’ve also found a few overuse quirks, like my apparent fondness for starting dialogue lines with “Well,” which each of my characters indulged to some extent.

Hands down, this is the best edit I’ve done. So I’m deeply smitten with Microsoft Anna, and I’m not afraid to shout that to the blogosphere. 🙂

Now, if you don’t mind… Anna and I would like to be alone for a while. 😉

An Open Market: Back on the Chain Gang

So someone needs to start off the next round for the blog chain gang.

So all of us on this blog chain gang have worked feverishly on what needs to be done before a novel gets published. Some of us are quite close to publication, including the next link in our chain, Jessica Verday whose debut novel The Hollow will be released later this year. But lately I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to the work that needs to be done during and after publication.

Besides writing new stuff, of course.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about marketing.

Now, many aspiring authors I’ve encountered dread the idea of marketing. So you might think I’m getting ahead of myself, but I see this as sort of like wedding planning.

I mean, after all, I’m going to notify all my family and friends of the date when I’ll finally be able to walk down the aisle (of the bookstore) and hold my handsome love (whom I’ve been seriously involved with for a year or two) in my arms.

So why wait until I’m officially “engaged” to start planning?

But seriously, I don’t think it can possibly be too early to start thinking of ways to market your project. Although certainly a publisher might have different ideas and choose to go in another direction, but it can’t hurt to have your own plan developed and ready to go.

So, blog chain buddies…

What plans do YOU have to market your novel? How will you make sure the public finds your work?

(Pssst, gang… this would be an ideal time to show us your book trailer, if you have one)

Naturally, I plan to use the tried-and-true marketing methods (guest blogging, conferences, maximizing my online presence, bookmarks, etc.), but I also have a couple of ideas I’m very excited about that are specific to The Edge of Memory.

First of all, my novel features a silver charm bracelet, which my protagonist discovers with the hidden letter from her birth mother. For a contest prize, I would like to create a similar bracelet. I would also have some less pricey prizes available. To enter the contest, people would have to view my book trailer.

Speaking of book trailers, I already have a mock-up one:

When the time comes, however, I will produce a professional version. And I’m especially excited about that, as my diverse group of test readers includes photographers, actors, musicians, make-up artists/stylists, and an amazing videographer. They might even give me a discount. 🙂

But the idea I’m really excited about doesn’t involve flashy trailers or prizes. It involves a concept I think will help generate interest with a specific group of readers: book clubs.

Book clubs usually involve three main activities: reading the book, discussing the book, and EATING. So all the better if I can create a food connection to my novel, right?

My protagonist Beatrice cooks when she’s stressed… and I gave her a lot to stress about. So there are a few dialogue passages where she’s preparing a meal during the conversation.

A friend of mine runs a fabulous cooking blog (seriously amazing… more drool-worthy pictures than most mortals can handle) and has graciously agreed to some guest blogging with recipes for the meals my character prepares.

How much fun is that? I’m anxious to cook them myself.

Anyway, I’m excited to hear how the rest of the gang envisions themselves marketing their novels. And our next blog chainer will have extra cool insights, since marketing her debut novel is not just a fantasy for Jessica Verday.

You’ve Got a Friend: Back on the Chain Gang

Hello, bloggy peeps! Another blog chain in progress, this time chosen by our own Terri Rainer.

Leah Clifford had the link before mine and Jessica Verday will be up next.

I’ll be answering the “Alternative Question” Terri posed:

Alternative question: Do you brainstorm with a friend when you are plotting, or do you prefer to be the only one who knows what your characters are going to do?

Well, I have to say… I am quite grateful that Terri chose this topic. Because up until now, I have never properly acknowledged the awesomeness of my BFF Clara.

Although I do a LOT of pre-writing plotting, there are always the detail issues that come up along the way. Whenever I find myself sinking into a plot hole or running into a wall, I torture poor Clara by making her hear all about it.

Seriously, she is the best listener ever. She doesn’t tell me what to do or suggest something can’t be solved. If I give a possible solution(s), she simply tells me whether or not she thinks it will work or which solution might work better.

At risk of jinxing myself, I have always solved my plot problems within 48-hours of talking to Clara. The solution may not come during our conversation (in fact, it usually doesn’t) but talking it through with someone encouraging, but not leading, really helps me organize my own thoughts.

God bless BFF’s. Seriously.

And a ginormous  to Clara, the best BFF ever.

The Plane Truth: In Deep Smit (1/16/09)

Seriously… who isn’t in deep smit with the story of Flight 1549?

This story today from some of those on board brought me to tears.

For a number of reasons…

For appreciation of the miracle that everyone survived the crash.
For pride in my fellow humans for their selfless handling of the situation
For hope (even if you think that’s audacity.)

Over 7 years ago, of course, there was another kind of plane crash in New York– one with a tragic outcome. But we saw a city and a nation come together. We saw many selfless acts of heroism. People risked everything to help strangers.

After 9/11 in Chicago, where road rage is rampant, folks were politely waving each other through intersections. American flag window stickers were sold out. For a while there, it felt like Americans were really on the same team.

And then the fear settled in. We got suspicious and cagey and it carried over into our relationships with each other. To the point where we were even afraid to help people who needed it. Over last summer, an old man was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver, and no one tried to help him.

But when this plane went down in the Hudson river, people rushed to help. Passengers made sure an elderly woman was evacuated before them.

And that makes me tremendously hopeful for this country.