Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Thursday Think Tank: 28 November 2013

My kidlet calls today, Turkey Genocide Day. I think she'd approve of this turtles attempt to provide a diversion so his feathered pals of the Turkey persuasion can get a head start on their escape plan.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday Newsday

Just a few little tidbits this week:

Shifty Fox Shenanigans has been submitted to MLR for the Big Bone Lick Anthology.

On Dec. 16, Cherie will have a free short story up on N.J. Nielsen's blog as part of her annual month-long Christmas Bash -- it will also be available here starting the 17th and running through Christmas (now I really have to get it in gear & get things a bit more organized over here, huh?)

The next installment of the Rescue Twinks series, Down and OUT in Christmas Village, is scheduled to release on Dec. 20; as always, as soon as I have cover art & buy links, they'll be posted!

Angel's Song (part of the Liquid Sin series) has been pushed back to a Dec. 30 release date. Again, covers and links as soon as I have them!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday's Mayhem and Foolishness: It's all Relative...

Here's a mind-bending study on plant communication!
"Researchers hooked electrodes to the leaves and stem of a philodendron plant. They had ten human subjects come into the room one by one and touch the plant. When one subject tore a few leaves off the plant, the electrical activity of the plant jumped way up. The next day all ten subjects went one by one back into the room and stood next to the plant. When the person who had damaged the leaves of the plant the day before came into the room, the plant's electrical activity again zoomed to a high level.

The researchers then put other plants into the room with the philodendron. The next day, each of the ten subjects went into the room with the group of plants. When the "leaf-tearer' walked in, the philodendron sent out what appeared to be strong warning signals. The other plants must have picked up this alarm, because when the subject visited on the fourth day, all the plants in the room increased their electrical activity-almost in unison-when the "leaf-tearer" entered the plant area."


So, what do you think? I found this fascinating, and am toying with the idea of basing a story around this research... would that be something you'd be interested in reading?  An army of intelligent plants, and the people who live among them?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fabulous (Feel-Good) Friday

So, I'm sure many of you saw, last Friday, about the Make-a-Wish Foundation teaming up with the city of San Francisco to turn 5 year old leukemia survivor Miles Scott into BatKid for the day, complete with stopping a bank robbery and rescuing the San Francisco Giants' mascot from the Penguin. (I particularly liked that the "villains" were dressed to resemble the bad guys in the campy Adam West/Burt Ward version of Batman; that one's my personal favorite, not least because it's the one that I like to watch with my OWN kids! "Some days, you just can't get rid of a bomb")

BatKid receiving the Key to Gotham City

Of course, this was an expensive undertaking, and many people have been griping about that cost -- most of which, of course, comes from donations to the Make-a-Wish foundation, which exists solely to make these once-in-a-lifetime dreams come true for kids whose lives have been so very profoundly touched by illness & adversity.*

Someone who said much better than I could all the reasons why focusing on the cost of something like this is not only wasteful but cruel, and why the opportunity to give experiences like these is a wonderful and uplifting thing for all of us who emotionally invest in it is, well, a blogger here: evoL = , where I will admit to reading a pretty fair way back through the archives.

Another interesting article, complete with pictures of Miles's younger brother, dressed as the most adorable Robin EVER, is this Buzzfeed one, Everything You Need to Know About Make-A-Wish Foundation's Adorable, Crime-Fighting Batkid

There are tons more videos, articles/blogs (both positive and negative) and pictures around the internet, if you're interested and managed to miss this over the last week!

*I'm a huge supporter, whenever I can and as much as I can, of both Make-A-Wish Foundation and St. Jude's Children's Hospital, as I have dear dear friends who have been blessed by both, some as patients and some as parents.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tantalizing Tuesday...

Well, the boys from Charlie company were in a bad way. Giant Women attacking, the Lt. wounded, and holy hell, Dragons on the horizon...
So, what's a poor Pfc (Private First Class) Communications specialist like Antony Michelson to do?

Send for some morale boosting Pin-Up Boy pics, naturally. 

Oh, hell yeah. That'll lift the men's spirits. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thursday Think Tank: Marketing & Self-Promotion tips from Lori Bell

Hi everyone!  When Cherie asked me to write up a little something on marketing, the first thing I wanted to know was which hat she wanted me to wear.  The sensible, publishing house marketing executive hat or the cute little leather number I wear as the whip wielder in the Goodreads M/M Romance group.  She didn’t really care as long as I showed up dressed and ready to offer some useful advice.  So, with both hats sitting firmly atop my head, wearing my leather corset and sensible shoes (not really, I’m actually still in my pajamas), I’m ready to share my words of wisdom.

First piece of advice…take ownership of your marketing and self-promotion plan.  Even if you’re lucky enough to work for a top notch publisher who has a large marketing budget to do a lot of promo and advertising for you…you still have to promote yourself and take advantage of every tool at your disposal. 

In the M/M Romance group, my co-moderator Jen put together a document that we share with authors who want to know how to best utilize the group.  I’ll share that with you in a minute but first I want to acknowledge that Goodreads can be a scary and sometime demoralizing place.  For every great review your book receives, you’re bound to get a few nasty ones that can feel like a personal attack.  You have to let it go.  I know, I know.  It’s your baby and it’s very hard to ignore criticism that may make you scratch your head and wonder if they even really read your book.  Let. It. Go.  Responding only makes it worse.  Take the high road and don’t engage.  Nothing good ever comes from that. 

With that said, realizing that a group like the M/M Romance group can be an awesome, FREE marketing tool is worth ignoring the trolls and attention seekers.  Did I mention that it’s FREE?  Where else are you going to find an audience of over 11,500 readers who LOVE M/M romance?  So, how to make it work for you…

First you have to become a member of the group.  Once you’ve done that, there are several places where you can promote yourself.  It’s important to note that YOU have to promote yourself.  The best way to get fans and generate interest is to engage with the readers.  There are a number of ways you can do that.  Don’t be a hit and run poster.  Once you start a topic(s), check back often to see if anyone has left you a comment or to post a current update. 

If you have a blog, update or start a thread in the Web Review and Blog Sites Folder.

Start a topic in our Self Promotion Area.  This is where you can share news about upcoming releases, post excerpts, let us know about appearances, etc…

Create a contest or giveaway.  Our members love giveaways and it’s a great way to attract new readers who may not be familiar with you.

Advertise anything you have available for Free.  We have a folder in the group dedicated to free reads.  This is another great way to get new readers to give you a test drive.

Make sure that our moderator Jase knows about all your new releases when they are released.  This is the one exception to the “post it yourself” rule.  Jase’s topic on new releases is one of the most popular in the group so when you contact him, be sure to include links to reviews, excerpts and where to purchase your books.

If your new book has not been added to the database, you can ask a librarian in our group to do it for you.  Just leave a comment in the “Ask A Goodreads Librarian” topic.

Make sure ALL your m/m books have been added to our bookshelf and shelved on all of the correct shelves.  Once again, if you’re not sure how to edit your books in the group bookshelves, just leave a comment and one of the librarians will do it for you.

Take advantage of Goodreads Listopia.  There are a ton of “Best of” and other types of lists.  Make sure ALL your m/m books have been added to the appropriate Lists.

Finally, you can also agree to participate in some of the ongoing events, like our annual writing event which has become hugely popular, the anniversary celebration, Gayology 101, Reading Challenges...etc. The more you interact with the group, the more our members seem to become loyal followers.

Have a friend nominate your book in our monthly Book of the Month selection process.  While you can nominate yourself, it always looks better if you get someone else to do it for you. 

And lastly, I just want reiterate what I said earlier.  YOU have to take ownership of your own marketing.  Think of it as a partnership between you and your publisher’s marketing person.  Let them know what you’re up to.  Take advantage of anything they offer that will get you more exposure.  Participate in contests, giveaways, blog hops, etc… If they are marketing your book for a sale or a contest, you need to market it too!  Have an idea?  Reach out to your marketing person and pitch it to them.  Make it happen.  I’ll even lend you my jaunty leather cap and whip if you need it J

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday Newsday!

Lots and lots of fun stuffs happening over in the Writing Cave, I have been assured! (And I've seen the schedule; it's CRAZY!) I think ALL THE THINGS are happening over the next couple of months, and I have this suspicion that they're going to be light months.

So, what's up?

Well, about a million WIPs, to start off:

  1. New contract with Passion in Print for the Matefinders, Inc. series.
  2. Completion of an expanded version of One Thousand Cranes, first in the Flight of a Thousand Cranes series.
  3. Mayhem, Delusions, and Shifty Fox Shenanigans for the Big Bone Lick anthology with Kendall McKenna and Jambrea Jo Jones.
  4. For NaNoWriMo, The Right Kind of Cowboy (apparently, inspired by Jared Rackler, although I don't know the whole story!) 
Then there's this: 

Glitter and Shamrocks is scheduled to be published Dec 15, with an additional Rescue Twinks Christmas short coming soon, as well! (As soon as Boss Lady gives me more information on that, I'll pass it along here. Promise!)

In other news, I kind of want to put up a bit ol' "UNDER CONSTRUCTION" sign all over the place; I'm slowly slowly working on tagging older posts and updating the "My Books" tab to reflect all the books published since Cherie last touched it. There will eventually be tabs for each series, with excerpts and blurbs and covers and all that kinda thing -- and maybe someday places with some other fun stuff, although I'm still a bit hazy on *what* exactly! If you have any ideas, let me know!

I guess that's about it for today; tomorrow Cherie is supposed to have a snippet of some sort from the WIP (whichever is foremost in her brain at the time). Hope everyone is having a great week, or at least holding on till the weekend! I leave you with this thought: Make time in your day to


Better Late: Mayhem and Foolishness

Today I'm running, and only have time to give you a wee bit of mayhotic derpdom...

Soooo, here's a smile for you whilst we wait for the #1 Minion to post the goings on for the next wee bit at the Cave. :) Enjoy this song moment. It's the first song in my current wip's playlist.

What are you listening to? What inspires you? Don't have anything?
Go on.
Get you some.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Snog: 1000 Cranes--a kiss before dying...

Twenty-five minutes later they stepped into the alleyway. The late night air nipped through William’s thin summer jacket and the soft cotton of his tee shirt to kiss his burning skin. No one had told him his freshly tattooed back would be so hot. William swayed where he stood, tipping his head back to gaze upward. A few stars glimmered in the sky above him, but most washed into the sea of light rising over the city. Something low in William’s gut tightened, his soul welling with a long slow throb of pain. In his head he could hear cello solos. Nana had asked him to play the mournful tunes over and over in the days before her death. An icy touch skated up his spine. Gazing down the alley way toward the street, he shuddered. The narrow passage was empty, the distant street silent save for a high thin cry from some poor animal. William shrank back a single step toward the shop door, back toward Phillip’s reassuring bulk. He swallowed hard, his throat dry and tight.
Phillip looked up from locking the door and caught the motion. He stepped in close, carefully catching William’s forearms to steady him. They stood a hand’s width apart, breaths brushing over one another’s skin. William tilted his head back, but the flickering movement of a muscle just beneath the skin of Phillip’s jaw was more than he could bear. He relaxed his neck, letting his head fall as far back on his shoulders as it would go. With his head tipped that way, there was a clear view of the alleyway’s entry to the main street. Phillip’s hands moved from his arms to the small of his back. William’s eyes fluttered open, shut, and open again. Blood pounded recklessly through his veins, washing his face and groin with heat. He focused his eyes on the distant street. A flash of yellow went by. This was madness. As William opened his mouth to speak, Phillip leaned down. There was no wash of noise the big man could be struggling to hear him over. Still, he sank down, intense blue stare dark as midnight and swallowing the entire world. A single shudder shook his large frame and he curled closer, hot hands flexing on the small of William’s back as though he couldn’t bear a single inch between them. He grunted, turning them as a unit, still bending lower, lower and god above, lower until his mouth came within a whisper of William’s. The scuff of a boot over stone registered. William’s gaze flicked past Phillip’s shoulder to spy a trio of ragged youths passing through a pool of brightness up on the main street.
Phillip’s hand clenched right at the dip of William’s back. He gasped, nerves singing with a hot, dark fire just as the tallest boy shot a fierce glare toward them. The second youth glanced up at the first, tugging at the torn sleeve of his shirt, his hand rubbing back and forth continually. His head turned, following the direction of the tallest one’s gaze. His face looked pale and sallow in the harshness of the city’s street lights as it turned toward them. The third boy, so dark-skinned his teeth flashed in a ragged neon grin, clapped a hand hard against his back. He flinched, jumping toward the first boy. Even from here William could see the start hunger and fear twisted together on his narrow face. The third boy, bulkier than the other two, older looking, strode forward, pausing for a second as he glanced down to see what had caught the attention of the other two.
After a second what he looked at began to register with him. He sneered down the alley just as Phillip bent the final inch closer. William didn’t have to wonder how they looked to through his squinting, jaundiced eyes. They were standing in the semi-dark alley in one another’s arms, Phillip’s lips brushing William’s ear as he turned his head to keep the feral young men in view. From twenty feet away, William easily saw the young man’s acne scarred face harden. He called out to his two companions.
 “Ay-ay! Look what we got here, boys—a couple of faggots out for a late stroll. Or maybe they’re looking for someplace to dance. You want a dance, faggots?”
The second boy flinched again, slipping sideways into the tallest boy’s shadow. The taller lad pushed him back, laughter rippling out of his throat in rusty shards of sound. He shot a quick glance toward the hard faced black boy, who gave a deep grunt and waved imperiously toward the alley. William blinked. The three young men were wildly mismatched, the smallest shockingly fair skinned, the tall boy slightly swarthier, an olive tone to his pockmarked skin, and the third nearly as black as Jon. The taller two wore nearly identical black leather jackets and thick-soled black boots. The boots looked like military surplus. As they got closer William saw that the one spewing out ugly words had what appeared to be a deformed white spider with blood dripping from its mandibles stitched into the leather on the upper arm of his jacket. He shoved a hand stuffed inside his jacket as he hawked and spit a glob of snot and saliva toward them.
William’s military training kicked in, urging him to move between Phillip, the civilian, and the obvious threat of these incomprehensibly angry young men. The older, heavily muscled boy sneered again.
“Fucking faggots. Bet you got what we need though, eh?”
William swiveled and stepped down off the shop’s tiny stoop. Phillip growled, grabbing onto one of William’s arms. He swung William’s slight weight behind him.
“We haven’t got anything for you. I only did the one tattoo today and it was a favor. I’ll let you in the—”
The hard faced, dark skinned boy yanked his hand out of his jacket. The sallow faced boy in the center gave a shriek as his companion raised a dull black object up. The first boy's head snapped to the side.
The tallest boy broke away to one side, his hands flying up, one loosely covering his mouth the other clasped over his heart. “Dwayne, what the fuck man!”
The dark skinned boy yelled back. “Stupid fucker, now they know my name!”
“Never mind, never mind we won’t—”

Phillip started to speak. William lost track then, because time started breaking, the whole world falling into ill-fitting fragments, an intentional cheat of a jigsaw where nothing was meant to fit. Someone screamed, someone said, stop, stop please no… it didn’t matter. It couldn’t matter, not one fucking bit, because right then, there was a thundering crack of sound.  The man’s hatred—you had to be a man to fucking shoot someone, right? That’s what Drill Sergeant Jacquez said, and that meant it was true. The boy with the gun shouted the word faggots again, his ugly intent thundering out through the cylinder of his gun, dammit, dammit, his god-damned  gun. 
Get thee to the home of the original Snog, and then check out all the other Snoggers! 

Victoria Blisse's Sunday Snog

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Saturday Surprise: A Teensy Snippet

Oh dear.
We missed out on our Fantastic Friday pic, didn't we?
Can't have that! I'd better quickly post a picture of a hottie! I already had Jared Rackler up here once this week, and the glorious Devon Rhodes as well... hmmm. Oh! I know...

BAM--Sexy Cowboy Surprise!
I thought he'd be rather fitting, as I've already begun the self inflicted torture... er, I mean the JOY that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This years novel is titled "The Right Kind of Cowboy", and is set deep in the anus of Texas.

Borrowing a Damon Suedeism there.
Just because.
Oh hush, and let your eyes drift to the right to feast on the lovely that is over there.

Okay, feeling soothed?
Whew, my work here is nearly done then.

Seriously, there is something verra soothing about letting my eyes linger on his delectable form.... though in all honesty, I think those are gym muscles and not real deal cowboy ones. I'm pretty sure cowboys tend to be a bit leaner, their muscles packed on by the work they do... not so symmetrical and plumply rounded like our fellow above is through the arms and shoulders.


Yep, I have a FANTASTIC JOB. Debating the difference in how muscles are acquired and staring at pictures of hot, shirtless men. LOVE IT.

Later babies. I have to race off and get some writerly type stuff done before the rest of the world wakes up and starts interfering with my muse. He gets so cranky when that happens!

Cherie Noel

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fantastic Friday! (from your friendly Minion)

*taps mic*
Is this thing on?

Umm... So apparently, Cherie is swamped today, and it's up to me to blog today! I'm having one of those "Cannot brain today" days, so...just a few quick notes on GRL.

Basically, it was overwhelming.

Honestly, I think I'm horrible at people. I simply cannot just walk up to someone and say hi without a LOT of pep-talking. And here I was going to a thing where there was going to be one -- ONE -- person out of around 500 that I had ever met in real life before.

By the time I got myself to the hotel, I was pretty much ready to completely panic, and I was seriously THISCLOSE to turning around, going back to my car, and escaping back home. Only the fact that I knew Cherie was waiting for me (quite literally) and the fact that I really needed a bathroom kept me from doing just that.

I will admit, I spent a lot of time kind of hiding in my room, but I did try to join in the actual "social" events in the evenings -- dinners & parties -- and not just because of the free drink tickets, although they did help.

What really did it for me was a friend who wasn't even there hooking me up with other friends of his via text message. So I ended up having some really awesome conversations with a couple of really awesome people who managed to make me feel grounded enough to join in on conversations with completely random strangers in, for instance, the loooong line for drinks at the bar at the various parties.

I never really think people will actually connect the me in real life with the me online, so a couple of highlights for me were along those lines -- like, when Anne Tenino realized, about 20 minutes into our really really long and amazing conversation that I'm the Tracy who posts frequently (regularly) on the Lanyon Q&A group on Goodreads about all the far too many projects (dioramas & the like) that my kids have to do for school. (We were supposed to talk hockey, too, but somehow never quite got around to that.) Or when Amy Lane remember the nicknames I use online for my boys -- DinoBoy and VelcroBoy -- but then, Amy Lane's just all-around awesome, and gives great hug. And Katey Hawthorne, who was there as a reader & let me geek out a bit with her at a party -- we kind of monopolized each other, but it was good.

The best thing was Saturday night, when Cherie and I went to dinner with a lovely group of people including Aleksandr Voinov (who is responsible for bringing the two of us together in the first place) and L.A. Witt. I had Lobster mac & cheese, basil rolls (sort of like spring rolls), and fried green tomatoes (I LOVE eating in the South). Then the bulk of the group left and I stayed behind with Clancy Nacht and Thursday Euclid (lovely lovely funny people) for a piece of truly foodgasmic red velvet cake.

It's kind of sad to me that I was so overwhelmed for the first half of GRL that I really only managed to actually talk to about half a dozen people, but they were really good conversations. I didn't feel like I really got my feet under me till Saturday lunch, but I do feel like I'll be more comfortable with the whole experience next time that I'll be able to settle in quicker. Especially if I can meet up early with the people I'll already know by then!

(Also, since next year it's going to be in Chicago... If there's a home game that weekend, does anybody want to maybe see about going to watch the Blackhawks play hockey? My hubby doesn't know it, because he & the kids would probably disown me, but they're my other hockey crush. First and best is the Pittsburgh Penguins.)

The Minion