Thursday, 29 May 2008

It's In, Folks!

Sooo? Waddaya think?

Friday, 23 May 2008

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Promotional Basket

One of my RWU members, Gina Ardito is putting together a gift package to use as a promotional prize at a conference. She asked for ideas. Her upcoming e-book romance, A Little Slice of Heaven, is a romance revolving around an Italian pizza restaurant. We came up with items like olive oil, pizza cutter, a bright red colander and a red-and-white checkered tablecloth along with a CD of her book.

We had loads of fun coming up with ideas, and it prompted me to contemplate what I would include in a gift bag with my books.

For The Space Between, I'd include a shark tooth necklace (I'm getting quite proficient at making them myself), a few artsy things like a paint set and small canvas and brushes. What else? A rubber snake? An inflatable dinghy? Sushi recipes?

For Bad Ice, I'd like to include a hockey puck (with my cover on it), a hockey sweater (with my cover on it), a gift card for The Beer Store (we can't buy beer in a convenience store), and... hm, what else? A smelly jock strap? Just kidding.

If you made a promotional gift basket for your book or future book, what would you put in it?

Monday, 19 May 2008

It's All About Meme

pjd and Whirlochre both tagged me with this lovely meme. I like it, so I'll answer the questions. Thanks to both of you for thinking of me - it's like getting picked for the volleyball team in gym class.

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

Inquisition Meme

What were you doing ten years ago?
Let's see... gardening, working at the newspaper, easing my children into elementary school and raising a puppy. I hadn't started writing yet but I was having fun on The Internets.

What are five things on your to-do list for today?
  1. Watch movies.
  2. Do laundry.
  3. Take a nap.
  4. Make supper.
  5. Blog.
  6. You may have guessed today is a holiday, so there's nothing urgent on the agenda. I guess writing should be somewhere in there, huh?
What are some snacks you enjoy?
  1. Chips. Anything salty and crunchy.
  2. Cheese.
  3. Meat.
What would you do if you were a billionaire?
First, I'd fix up the old shack and either sell it for a pittance or give it to my kids. Then, I'd buy a historical home (fully renovated with all the modern conveniences) in the country with lots of land, and a couple of horses. I'd get up early every morning, clean the stalls, make my flavoured coffee and sit on the back deck with my laptop to write. If it's too cold, I'll move to my custom decorated writing room with its walls of books and little fireplace, and write some more. I might feed people, but maybe I'll hire a cook.

I suppose I'm supposed to say I'll give a big chunk to charity, so I pick that one that rescues retired racehorses bound for the meat market.

What are three of your bad habits?
  1. I interrupt people when they're talking, often trying to finish their sentences if they don't just get on with it.
  2. I chew my gum like a cow.
  3. I talk to myself.
What are five places where you have lived?
  • Antigonish, Nova Scotia
  • Mallorca, Spain
  • Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Pierrefonds, Quebec
  • Trinidad
What are five jobs you have had?
  1. Waitress at the Zellers Skillet Restaurant. I lasted three weeks. I just couldn't handle remembering all those orders. For months after I quit, the smell of vinyl made my stomach queasy.
  2. Sales clerk at a camera store. I sold cameras, film and photofinishing.
  3. I ran the video transfer machine - a newfangled piece of technology my boss at Henry's acquired. It took VHS video of super and regular 8 films, and I added appropriate elevator music.
  4. I was the Advertising Department at the same camera store. The Prez gave me a list of equipment and prices, and I had to provide the artwork and advertising copy to design ads that went out to the three national newspapers three times a week. I was also in charge of the budget to buy the ad space. It was interesting and challenging at first, but got boring afterwards.
  5. After a six-month contract designing ads for our newspaper, I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Classified Department. The position was totally out of my comfort zone. Although I'm a pantster when writing, I'm a list maker at work. If I can't work my way through my daily tasks until they're finished, I'm at a loss. Working as a classified sales rep requires a lot of multi-tasking - something I'm not good at. Besides, I hate phones. Fortunately, I went to another position in the art department, so I'm content for now.
What were the last five books you read?
  • Point of Departure by Laurie Breton
  • Souvenir by Therese Fowler
  • The Liar's Diary by Patry Francis
  • Lottery by Patricia Wood
  • Persuader by Lee Child
What’s playing on your iPod right now?
I don't have an iPod, but the first season of 30 Rock is playing on the DVD.

I'm not tagging anybody but it's a great meme so you're free to do your own if you haven't already.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Survivor Newmarket Edition

The brilliant magenta of the crabapple tree in my front yard reminds me of the day I brought my daughter home, nineteen years ago on Tuesday. She was so small and helpless then, and today I like to think she and her sixteen-year-old brother are self-sufficient teenagers.

That is, until they locked themselves out of the house last Thursday.

You see, my son thought it would be a great idea to shoot off the remaining rounds of his little plastic cap gun so he could use it for a prop during a school play.

My daughter volunteered to do the deed outside on the deck, but suggested that her brother put the dog inside first.

Some of you know all about Chester the dog's neurotic aversion to loud popping noises – fireworks, firecrackers, bubble wrap and snapping gum. Popguns are definitely on our dog's no-no list.

After my son tucked the dog safely in the house, he firmly pushed the door shut, forgetting that the lock was engaged.


My poor children were stuck outside – in their bare feet, no less – and I wasn't due home for at least two hours. My husband was scheduled to get home in about an hour.

Since I was closest, they immediately tiptoed to our neighbour's house to phone me. The first words out of my son's mouth were, "We did a stupid thing."

My immediate thoughts were that they burned a pot of Kraft Dinner, or worse burned the house down, but I dismissed such fears. After all, he seemed bashful rather than hysterical.

When he told me they'd locked themselves out of the house, I said, "If you think I'm driving home right this minute to let you in, you've got another think coming. I have a deadline and can't leave in the middle of things. Besides, your father will be home in less than an hour."

He whined a bit, but didn't seem too distressed. After all, it wasn't winter (they'd forgotten their key one day, and spent a half hour on the back porch in their snowsuits) so I figured they'd survive an hour or so until their father got home. I heard my daughter chuckling in the background, so all seemed okay. Apparently, my neighbour offered to drive them to my office to get a key, but they declined with thanks.

My daughter told me what happened after I hung up.

Since a rescue was not immediately at hand, they decided they had to amuse themselves for an hour on our back porch. It's an enclosed porch with a screen door and windows all around. It's a nice haven when tidy, but now it's full of more crap than I care to admit.

They sat on the sofa and pondered what to do.
If I had my druthers, they could have grabbed a couple of rakes and done a little work on the back yard, but since they were barefoot I'll give them a break. My daughter admits they thought of doing some tidying – briefly – then sanity prevailed. They're teenagers, after all.

They decided to play a game of I Spy. That got boring after a while, so they played a survival game. If they had to survive for months, using only the items they found on the porch, how long would they last?

"We could eat squirrels," Andrew suggested (apologies to Buffy Squirrel, but that's what he said). They could have picked the raccoons and skunks that regularly invade our garbage, but squirrels are tantalizingly close and available at all times. Sometimes they come pre-fried when they climb the power lines and accidentally touch the transformer, knocking out power for three hours at a stretch. (Don't send letters of complaint. I like squirrels, really.)

"How would we hunt them?" asked Beth.

"Use the saw." Andrew pointed at several saws stuck in the joists near the ceiling.

"How will we cook it?"

Andrew suggested the candles, then the Sandwich Snackster, but Beth pointed out there was a perfectly good barbecue just outside the screen door. They didn't know it was out of propane.

I don't know how long this went on, but when my husband got home, he called out and heard an urgent knock on the back door. He saw two heads pop up in the kitchen door window and he laughed until he cried. He was still chuckling when I got home an hour later.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Six Figures? I'll Keep My Day Job. Seven Figures? Well...

What would I do if I was fortunate enough to receive a seven-figure advance for my next novel? Yeah, I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but we can dream, can't we? Would I quit my job? Would I pay off the house?

Not likely.
Last week John Elder Robison, author of Look Me In The Eye, visited a friend's blog and offered a detailed account of an authors's life after the seven-figure offer. I'll condense it into a nutshell.

Say you're offered a $1,000,000 advance:

Well, 35% of the sale price goes to taxes. Writers have few deductions. 15% goes to the agent. And finally, the deal is paid out over four installments - 25% on signing, 25% on manuscript acceptance, 25% on hardcover pub, 25% on paperback pub.

This might take three years. It will likely work out to about $125,000 a year, which is nice, but rare. What if you got a $100,000 advance? Pretty nice change, huh? Well, that would only work out to about $12,500 to $18,000 per year depending on income tax. If in my case you have debts and a mortgage, this kind of money will just be another means to survive. It won't be an automatic excuse to quit your job unless you have a wonderful spouse who'll take up the slack.

In John's case he had a seven-figure advance, but he is already successful with his car business. In promoting his book, he must take time away from his business and has hired extra staff to cover for him in his absence. His case is also very rare, since only about 100 authors make that kind of money on one book.

So my question is, why do we do it? Most of us aren't going to get rich through writing, but we do it anyway. I do it because it feels good. It feels great to bring characters to life on paper or the computer screen. I get a warm feeling when a reader tells me she stayed up till 1 a.m. to finish my book. I love the camaraderie among the many authors, agents, editors and readers I've met over the last couple of years.

Why does an artist create lovely paintings, only to have them hang on his own walls, never to see the inside of a gallery? Why does the semi-retired housemate join the local theatre group, knowing that she'll get reviews only from the local paper?

We do it for ourselves, for our family and friends, and for the love of the craft. If all we expect from our efforts are fame and riches, we'll die unhappy.

Picture - a nice little bunch of violets I encountered while walking with my daughter today. Spring has finally sprung! I'll post trilliums when they pop out, which will be soon.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Today is My Day

Make sure you drop by Chris Eldin's blog for Author Week. Today (Thursday) is my turn to give away a copy of my book.
And... as a bonus for the winner, I'll include a hand made sharktooth necklace!

I participated and won a copy of Holly Kennedy's The Silver Compass. Finally!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Author's Week Kicks Off May 3

My dear friend Chris Eldin (formerly known as Church Lady) is sitting in Dubai coming up with wonderful fun things for us writers to do. So she came up with Author's Week, a lovely venture she thought up a while back. I'm paraphrasing her own blog announcement:

To kick things off, she's having a special day on Saturday May 3 with an Oldies but Goodies Contest.

Who are the Oldies but Goodies, you ask. Well, they are just the swellest group of authors who first supported her idea of "Author's Week." To thank them for their encouragement, Chris will be hosting a weekend contest based on some personal information she was able to dig up.

And she'll be giving away cool prizes from Dubai. The Oldies but Goodies authors are listed below. They might pop in. But really it's about thanking them for their generosity in the past.

Mary Cunningham CURSE OF THE BAYOU
Edna Cabcabin Moran THE SLEEPING GIANT
John Elder Robison LOOK ME IN THE EYE
Patricia Wood LOTTERY
And then, there's Author's Week May 5 - May 9, in which I will be participating.

May 5 - May 9 will feature the following authors giving away books and making appearances on Chris's blog. Come chat, make jokes, win prizes!!! Every day, 9am - 9pm eastern U.S. time.

Monday, May 5: Charles Allen Gramlich “Swords of Talera”
Tuesday, May 6: Holly Kennedy "The Silver Compass"
Wednesday, May 7: Daniel Tomasulo "Confessions of a Former Child"
Thursday, May 8: Sandra Cormier "The Space Between"
Friday, May 9: Stacia Kane "Personal Demons"