Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Five Secrets about Me for New Year's Eve

The uber-talented kickboxing blogger J.H. Moncrieff tagged me in the Five Secrets about Me blog hop that's going around. 



In celebration of the start of a new year, I'm joining in. Here goes.

#1: I'm related to Jesse James. I'm not 100 percent certain how--my great-great-great-grandmother and Jesse James' father were siblings. There could be a few more "greats" in that grandmother part!



#2: I'm deathly afraid of roaches. Yes, I know they can't hurt me, but nothing freaks me out like the sight of one of these:



#3: My middle name is Breckenridge. I always hated it until my mom pointed me to my ancestor's Wikipedia page. Now I'm pretty darn proud!



#4: I went to school to be a TV reporter. Then I learned how little they made. Not that I would have been very good at it. But I anchored the news and worked as a reporter for my campus news station for a while. It did allow me to hone my writing skills and it led to a career in public relations, which is how I spent my 20s.



#5: I've worked all kinds of interesting side jobs over the years. This includes selling stuff on eBay back in the early days (I once made $500 on a rare Natalie Wood magazine that I found at a used record store) and working as a mystery shopper. Neither paid well for the work they required, but they were fun.


That's all my secrets for now! I'm tagging Anna and Pat Hatt but my tags are always optional! I hope everyone has a...


Monday, December 29, 2014

Cool Writing Rooms

Writing is my full-time job. I do most of it on the sofa recliner, surrounded by my living room. Probably not the most scenic of locations! I thought I'd write on our comfy patio furniture outside, which has a view of a pond...



But as it turns out, laptop screens are really hard to see outside. There's a glare. So much for my dream of writing on the beach.



One thing I'm fascinated with is writing rooms. Writers often share photos of their offices, which are basically desks surrounded by piles and piles of books.



What I want is a room with a view. I always mention the final scene of Wonder Boys, where Michael Douglas is writing in an office, surrounded by windows with a waterfront view. 

I can't find that clip, though, so instead here are some writing rooms that would make sitting at a desk worth it.

This one belongs to Tracy Bloom:



Hannah Fielding shared her French writing room on her website, emphasizing that normally she sits on the other side of the desk to take advantage of the view.



This one isn't a writer's room, but Rick's Photography pulled this photo of a home office with a view from a Laguna Beach listing. 



Berlin writer Jane Flett posted a photo of her Berlin writing space on this blog




Flett does mention repeatedly the distractions she faces, however, so maybe there's a lesson to be learned. Maybe rooms with a view don't inspire. Maybe there's a reason writers work in rooms like this one.



Would you work better with a beautiful view in front of you? Or would it be more of a distraction?

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Post-Christmas Post

The always adorable Kelly Hashway agreed to review 25 Roses for her blog. As a fan of her blog (as well as her middle grade novel, Curse of the Granville Fortune, which I covered on my November Best Reads blog!), I was honored when she accepted my request to review my book.

Today, her review goes live. Check it out and leave a comment for her if you have time.



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!!!

It's that time of year again...




I hope everyone has a very, very, very merry Christmas. I'm thankful I met so many great bloggers this year and I can't wait to read your blogs next year! If you haven't signed up for my blog tour yet, be sure to do so. The form is below. I'll leave you with a song that I promise will make you smile!





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Monday, December 22, 2014

My Favorite Christmas Memory

Today I'm participating in a festive bloghop hosted by amazingly-talented, super-fun bloggers Cherdo and Janie Junebug. You can join in, too. Just add your name to the list and post about your favorite Christmas memory.



This was a tough one. I had a lot of great Christmases growing up. The first one I remember was this one, while my mom, sister, and I were living in Missouri. (I'm the brunette.)



All I remember of that Christmas was that I got a Holly Hobbie Easy Bake Oven. It looked like this:



I think when I remember Christmas, I think back to when I was 16. It was exciting for several reasons. One, I was driving for the first time. My first car had only an AM radio, but I loved it. It felt so grown up to drive. It looked kind of like this:



I was (sort of) working at my first job. I only worked Saturdays, though. I didn't like that job and would soon replace it with my favorite job ever (besides writing)--movie theater concessions stand worker. But that Christmas, I was making no-bake cookies to take to the "Christmas party" at my horrible workplace:



While making our delicious cookies, Mom asked if I'd called to find out the time of the party. I called and the manager said, in a not-so-nice voice, "Party? We're not doing a party. People are just dropping off food for the people who are working today." I hung up and, after discussing it with my mom, we decided to keep these delicious treats for ourselves:



I got to spend the rest of Christmas Eve at home. It was the last year I wasn't working at Christmas (movie theaters don't close) and the last year of doing not much more than going to the mall, talking on the phone, and going to school. Perhaps that is why it sticks in my mind to this day.

What is your favorite Christmas memory? Why does it stay with you?

My first post (of many!) for HTC's Breaking Modern went live today. If you need a last-minute gift for the tech geek on your Christmas list, check it out.



Friday, December 19, 2014

No Means NO!

As a freelance writer, finding clients can be a process of elimination on both sides. There are some services I simply don't provide--I'm not a professional copyeditor, so I say no to those. I won't leave my Skype open all day so you can randomly interrupt me when I'm working for other clients. And, of course, I absolutely will not write a 500-word article for $.50.



I also won't write about topics that go against my values. And that's an issue you face quite often when you work as a writer. I also avoid jobs that involve writing school papers for people (yes, students--particularly college students--pay writers to do that).



One issue that comes up when people find out that I write for a couple of high-profile publications is that they ask me to slip a business name into what I'm writing. Nobody will ever know, they say, and it's something journalists do all the time.



I say no and usually that's it. But occasionally I say no and get a few persuasive emails back. Yes, I said a few. I don't respond after the initial "no" because...what else is there to say?



One marketer stunned me by telling me, as part of his argument to persuade me to slip his client's brand name into one of my articles, that a reporter with a major, nationally-known, well-respected newspaper slipped brands into articles for him all the time. I didn't respond--I was too stunned to respond.



So these journalists risk their salaried jobs and journalistic integrity for a few bucks? It wasn't even about risking getting future assignments from clients. Four years of journalism school and basic moral integrity has me saying no. I'd like to believe that professional journalists have that, as well. So all I can hope is that he was lying to convince me to do this by using basic adolescent coercion...



Has an employer ever asked you to do anything that was against your beliefs? How did you handle it?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why Don’t You Tell Me What I’m Allowed to Read?

When it comes to reading, some people have strong opinions about what is appropriate. As I learned from my post defending romance novels, people don't mean to judge other people who read certain types of novels...it's just a side effect of the comments they make.



Literary judgment isn't limited to romance novels. The recent outcry against adults reading young adult novels is proof of that. Some people believe unless you're reading a literary classic, you may as well be watching reality TV.



I actually have personal experience with this. When I was a young PR consultant, I interviewed for a job in marketing at a very prominent bookstore. The interview was going well until she asked what types of books I liked to read. This man was part of my answer...




There wasn't even a delay. The woman looked absolutely horrified.



I thought later about the answer I should have given. It would have been a lie, but it might have helped me land the job. It's the answer we're all supposed to give when someone asks what you read. Just memorize the titles on these spines and you'll be all set.



When someone asks what you like to read, do you tell the truth? Or do you modify your answer based on what you think the person wants to hear?

This song is all the rage this Christmas...if you haven't heard it yet, you have to listen to it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

5 Ways to Annoy Your Fellow Christmas Shoppers

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go, parking lots are full, lines wrap around the building, and customers jockey for position in packed aisles. As you shop this year, it's important to be as annoying as possible in order to survive. After all, what's the point of Christmas if not to put everyone around you in a sour mood? Here are a few ways you can annoy your fellow shoppers this year.

Steal Someone's Parking Space

Yes, it all starts before you even enter the store. Here you'll have a prime opportunity to narrowly risk having your car rammed by an angry shopper. How? Find someone who is waiting, blinker on, for a parking space and at the last minute, swoop in and steal it. For added effect, let out an evil laugh as you strut past the angry driver on your way into the store. And hope that driver has auto insurance.




Forget How to Line Up

Your kindergarten teacher may have shown you how to line up, but there's no point in calling upon that information now. It's survival of the fittest. If you see a line of people waiting for multiple cashiers, ignore that line and hop behind someone who's already checking out. Sure, people will be mad, but most of the time they'll be too polite to yell at you. It's the perfect crime.



Walk in a Single Formation

Birds fly in a straight formation. Over time, evolution has led us to believe that this is how our families should walk through the mall. Never mind that people are behind you waiting to get by. Just keep casually strolling along as though the entire mall belongs to you.




Pretend You're the Only One Around

Speaking of having the mall to yourself, when you're in a store, it doesn't matter that other people are waiting behind you. Stand in front of the item you're buying for endless amounts of time and don't move for anything. If someone politely stops to let you pass, pass but stop somewhere that blocks them, acting as though you didn't realize they actually might want to move from that spot sometime today.



Act Like You're from the 80s

A few things have changed since the 80s, but you don't have to use today's technology. Personal checks are fun and stacks of paper coupons make the checkout experience like a game. Customers love waiting while you shuffle through your coupons like you're playing a game of Old Maid.


What annoys you most while you're out shopping?

If you haven't signed up for my 25 Roses blog tour yet, there's still time! Complete the form below and I'll send you what you need to participate.



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Friday, December 12, 2014

It's Cool to Be Nerdy

I thought it was odd when I started seeing young, trendy people wearing glasses that looked like they were their "emergency pair."



If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, you know exactly what I mean. It's that pair of glasses you keep around the house in case you have no other way to see. You know--in case it's the end of the world and you stepped on your good pair.



Meanwhile, I've been enjoying the cool "bling glasses" trend that features rectangular frames. Rectangular frames are a must for people with round faces like me.



But nope, "geek chic" is a thing in eyewear. It even has its own category on Glasses.com.



How did this happen? We have celebrities to thank. Nerdy glasses have been sported by Kim Kardashian...



Justin Timberlake...



Christine Hendricks...



And just about any other celebrity who hasn't yet shelled out money for Lasik. Could it be that nerds finally are cool?




25 Roses is part of Simon & Schuster's Spring 2015 giveaway on Goodreads. Enter to win a free copy!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Should Authors Be Accessible to Their Fans?

Growing up, emailing your favorite author wasn't an option. You could send a letter to a PO box designated for fans, to which you'd receive a form letter and something like this:


Then came the internet. People could check out information about an author on his/her website and email an address listed there. It was usually understood by my generation that an author's email account was probably manned by a publicist, since publicists always handled their mail in the past.


A new generation of fans has emerged, however. It's a generation who sees Kim Kardashian on Twitter and assumes she'll read and respond to their tweets. 


In the early days, you're so excited about every new review or fan email, you don't just respond--you print them all out and hang them on your wall. But there's a shift that happens at some point. For some, it happens FAR faster than most of us--especially if your book is made into a movie or TV show.

Bestselling author Shannon Hale is an example of someone whose career took off. Shannon wrote this book, among many, many others:


Shannon actually wrote this blog after she'd received a couple of angry fan emails telling her if she didn't respond they'd never read any of her books again. Shannon said she would rather put her limited work time into creating new books than responding to every email. In fact, the very reason we never saw another book from Margaret Mitchell was that she spent all her time responding to fan mail because she thought that was the polite thing to do.



I think we'd rather have had more books from Margaret Mitchell than a bunch of fan mail being sold at auction, right?

I remembered once reading a comment from Stephen King stating that his fiction is all he has to give his readers. I didn't get it at the time, but I can see how a really successful author would eventually have to draw the line. We all know Stephen King believes in that...



Do you think authors should become inaccessible at some point? Would you stop reading a book by an author who ignored your emails or requests to meet?