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Aw shucks

Thursday, August 31, 2006
Thanks, y'all! Looks like the marketing thing hit a nerve so let's talk more about it.

I did an internship at a tiny ad agency for a semester back in college. Best 4 months of work I ever did. If I'd done the career thing, I probably would have gone into marketing/advertising/PR. As it is, I analyze advertising and ignore the product. *gg*

I still think mostly in traditional terms with advertising. Yes, the internet is great, but I'm the only person I know IRL who uses the internet as much as I do or for the same reasons I do. That means that everyone else I know still responds to those traditional advertising venues.

People look at what's in front of them. As I said, the percentage of readers who buy e-books -- compared to the number of readers overall -- is very small. Thankfully, they're a voracious percentage, but wouldn't it be better for readers AND writers if this avenue got broader?

Who am I targeting? Readers. Where can I find them? Libraries (not allowed to put flyers in there, though), UBSs (gotta call them today and find out), book clubs (neighborhood and on base), and writer's groups (there are a lot of writers who've never heard of e-publishing or still equate it with poor quality -- an old stereotype that needs squashing.)

E-publishing got a lot of media coverage a few years ago (2000) when Stephen King released his novella online. It tanked and that was the last anyone really heard of it in the mainstream. So those old perceptions still exist.

But things have changed so much since then, that it's completely unfair to use the same yardstick. That means that it's well past time to put e-publishing back in the public eye.

I'm not saying that my little novella is going to be the springpoint for a new national or global movement. It isn't. But if I can inform a few people about e-books, and they tell their friends, and they tell their friends (it's a Prell commercial around here now) then that's a few dozen more folks who are going to buy -- not just MY books -- but all kinds of other books, as well!

I'm thinking more along the lines of a groundswell here, as opposed to a lightning bolt. The groundswell moves more slowly, but its effects are longer lasting.

Baby steps.

Also, I found this fantastic link to the IDPF, the International Digital Publishing Forum, which tracks global e-book sales. I highly recommend that everyone interested in e-publishing as either a reader or a writer bookmark the site and have a wander through it. You can find their current members as well as industry statistics and the 2005 list of e-book bestsellers.
8/31/2006 08:43:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 12 Comments


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hope this works. This is a flyer I made up so I can give it to my friends. I've discovered that some of them find what I do interesting! Which is kinda cool. When you're slogging through yet another crap scene (I wrote today and it stunk -- I'm just sticking notes in for scenes to develop) the writing gig doesn't feel so nifty.

But one of my buddies is coming down to visit this weekend and I figured I'd give her something to take back to her friends. E-publishing is such a small market. So insular. We know about it because we're in the thick of it. But Jane Doe, who browses the racks at B&N, may have heard about it, but it's not real to her. It's not right in front of her. Or she may just not be net savvy and not even know to look for it.

My mom wants some for her friends, too. There's a huge untapped market out there of people who don't even know e-publishing exists! The trick is trying to crack it. Make people aware.

I finally put together my press packet for the local newspaper. It occurred to me to send it to the newspaper back in mom's town. And to call up the book clubs at the local military bases.

We were having a discussion on the Samhain Author's loop this week about how e-publishing blends with military life since a startling percentage of us have immediate connections to the military. Someone brought up the point that e-books make all the moves easier, as well as providing a source for books that isn't always available at a new station. I know in England it was really hard to buy romance novels unless I went to the bookstore on base.

And it occurred to me that I have a built-in audience for marketing! If I can get just a few wives interested in buying e-books, then wherever they go, they'll be telling other wives about them.

So it looks like I'm planning another branch of my marketing/publicity strategy as I go.
8/30/2006 04:44:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 8 Comments

I Love Monday!!!

Monday, August 28, 2006
I've been bouncing in my chair for half the day today! Why? you ask. And well you may!

Today I got my first review!!!!

TwoLips Reviews gave me 4 1/2 lips!!!

"I highly recommend this one. I don’t generally appreciate comedy, but this book had me truly laughing aloud from the first page, and the sensuality between Mr. I’m-Not-Really-Dead and Ms. I'm-Just-Ordinary is quite inflaming. Go get this one, you won’t be sorry."

I don't know if y'all knew this or not, but I am a genius. I just thought I'd tell you.

Crabby Cow #1 also thinks I don't suck. In point of fact, she called my scene "sweet." Ordinarily, I don't go for sweet, but it worked for that piece. It felt very YA to me, so that's how I wrote it. Of course, with half an hour and 300 words, you don't get a ton of space for perfection, but I'm very content with "sweet."

In addition, I've written another page and a half on River Bear. Ok, so the title isn't that brilliant, but it's a work in progress. I'm not concerned with titles yet. Just characters.

Oh, I also discovered that my hero, bless him, has a huge DIY streak. I had no idea.
8/28/2006 03:19:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 10 Comments

Monday Meandering: Splitting Ears

In my last blog post, I mentioned the rhythm of words, the meter and balance of them. They just sounded right.

Am I the only person who writes by sound? Do you ever read your work out loud to see if it sounds right?

Not just whether the dialogue is right for the characters, although, if something isn’t going well, I’ve been known to copy all the dialogue into a new document and read it out loud. That’s usually where I find a disconnect. If the conversation itself doesn’t make any sense, or if I’ve lost the voice of a character somewhere, it’ll show up in the dialogue.

But the actual sound of the words. Do they sound like the people you see and hear in your head? Each of my characters have their own particular vocal inflections to me. Whether it’s a regional accent (I fondly recall a Welsh hero I once wrote – he reduced me to absolute puddles. I wrote that doomed story for days just to listen to him talk.) or an accent they’ve acquired through proximity or sheer hard work, or an accent they thought they’d lost that comes back in moments of stress.

I’m also huge on actual tone of voice. A light and lovely tenor, a sexy contralto, a deep rumble. Strident, shrill and rough also have their places. I don’t just have visual images of my characters, I have aural ones.

The trouble is getting that sound to reproduce itself on the page. That’s why it distresses me when someone misunderstands a line of dialogue. They don’t hear the character the same way I do, or they’d get it. There’s obviously a flaw in my writing when that happens.

I read once that while men are attracted to how a woman looks, a woman is led to the bedroom by the ears. Not just the words, but the right voice will hit all the arousal buttons.

So how do your characters sound to you? Post a snippet of something that gives the reader a hint of tone or sound or voice.
8/28/2006 12:28:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 1 Comments

Adjusting my Vector

Saturday, August 26, 2006
The fairy tale has been moving along. Several new pages this week, as you know. But there was something oddly stiff about it. Not stylistically, although I've managed to retain a certain formality of tone, but with the characters. It really hit me yesterday.

Artan, my hero, had just changed into the bear. He said, "I am cursed."

And my first instinct was to have my heroine, Mai, raise a brow and say, "I can tell."

I like the rhythm of it. The balance of sounds. I am cursed. I can tell. Can you hear the meter in it?

The trouble was that it didn't seem the sort of thing the character I was writing would say. But I couldn't really tell because I didn't know the character. She felt cardboard, stiff, dull. A fairy tale stereotype who would weep and fade and plod unimaginatively toward a cliche'd conclusion.

But I liked the girl who would say, "I can tell."

As I began the story, it was a contemporary fairy tale with a contemporary heroine. But that seemed anachronistic, so I copied what I could to a new document, but wrote it more as a historic fairy tale. And I ended up with that dull creature.

So now things are changing again. I'm not going backwards very much -- there is still a lot I can salvage. But I'm trying to discover this heroine. There are details I'll have to figure out later, but I have to let her come out the way she wants to right now. And right now, she's a brow raiser with a gift for understatement.

I think I know my hero pretty well. I finally found the image of him that I like. It's not Paul Gross, it's Morten Harket. Yeah, that's right. The guy from A-Ha. When he was younger, he was too pretty, but I think he's aged well. I love the lines by his eyes.
8/26/2006 02:12:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 11 Comments

Prize: 3 ebooks of your choice AND a copy of the print book Loving Lies
All you have to do is post a review to MBaM on any title, as many as you can.
Each review will be an entry for the drawing, to be held on Sunday at Noon central time.

BONUS: keep posting reviews throughout August and September
and each will be an entry for the Grand Prize drawing!

Prize: A print copy of The Gripping Beast
Q: What book has the honor of being the first Samhain cover to be snarked on SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com?

Prize: a print copy of The Bounty
Q: How many titles in the MBaM store contain the word "the"?(hint: "search" the store)

All correct answers will be placed in a drawing and winner posted Saturday 3pm central time.
Send the answers in email to cbrashear@mybookstoreandmore.com.
8/26/2006 11:07:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 1 Comments

BIAW Progress and Samhain Sale!

Thursday, August 24, 2006
Not bad, not bad. I slacked off on Tuesday, which means I only have 6 new pages. And every one of them is hard won. I can't quite seem to get in the groove of just writing. But I'm still working on it anyway.

I'm also fixing to attempt to put my cover and link in my sidebar. Wish me luck.

Also, click on over to MBaM to get in on their daily prizes and enter to win the biggie!

Lots of give-aways this week to celebrate!

All Ebooks are 10% off through Monday, August 28 to celebrate being back online and better than ever.

All Trade PRINT books are ON SALE too! 10% off cover price plus FREE Shipping!

Daily prizes plus, a Grand Prize to be awarded on Samhain, November 1st!
From now until September 30, 2006, every purchase** will count toward a drawing for an ebook reader! The winner may choose between an eBookwise, a Palm Tungsten E2, or an HP IPAQ rx1950!

** Remember to enter the drawing without making a purchase by sending a postcard with your name, address, phone number, email address, and how you heard about MBaM to this address: My Bookstore and More 2932 Ross Clark Circle #384 Dothan AL 36301 All postcards must be received by October 31st, winner will be announced on November 1st, 2006
8/24/2006 08:18:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 5 Comments


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Lots of prizes this week - all you do is make a purchase to be entered! Winners will be chosen to win a variety of print books!

ALSO, from now until September 30, 2006, every purchase will count toward a drawing for an ebook reader! The winner may choose between an eBookwise, a Palm Tungsten E2, or an HP IPAQ rx1950!

PLUS, you can enter the drawing without making a purchase by sending a postcard with your name, address, phone number, email address, and how you heard about MBaM to this address:

My Bookstore and More
2932 Ross Clark Circle #384
Dothan AL 36301

All postcards must be received by October 31st, winner will be announced on November 1st, 2006

Come see our SALE PRICES on ebooks! http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/

All Trade PRINT books are ON SALE too! 10% off cover price plus FREE Shipping!
8/23/2006 07:51:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 3 Comments

And We're Back!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
My Bookstore and More is back online and ready for business -- the credit card option is now functioning and the entire site loads more quickly than ever!


So buy my book!

Well...I mean...spend your discretionary income in the way that you see fit. ;)

Speaking of buying books, though, this is a perfect segue into a great discussion going on over at Vanessa Jaye's blog about buying new books. The comments section is a must-read there.
8/22/2006 10:21:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 3 Comments

Heavy Sigh

Ok. So. My book was released last week. The next day the bookstore went down. And it's been down all week. Yes, I was upset.

The bookstore is back up today, but you can't use a credit card, you have to use PayPal.

I'm still a little upset.

IwishIwishIwish this had gone better, but I know that Crissy, the publisher and bookstore owner, is also unhappy with this process. This doesn't make me less upset, but it's comforting to know that I have company in my misery.

The upside is that my cover is still on the front page at Samhain. And it's still on sale.
8/22/2006 08:24:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 7 Comments

Nalini Singh
Berkley / September 2006

Welcome to a future where emotion is a crime and powers of the mind clash brutally against those of the heart.

Sascha Duncan is one of the Psy, a psychic race that has cut off its emotions in an effort to prevent murderous insanity. Those who feel are punished by having their brains wiped clean, their personalities and memories destroyed.

Lucas Hunter is a Changeling, a shapeshifter who craves sensation, lives for touch. When their separate worlds collide in the serial murders of Changeling women, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities…or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation.

8/22/2006 08:11:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 1 Comments

Monday Meandering: Book In A Week

Monday, August 21, 2006
Raise your hand if you've done a BIAW before.

How many of you, in the solitude of your office, just raised your hands? *gg*

I haven't done one in...gosh, a couple of years? I used to do them about once a month with a Yahoo group I belonged to called Gonnabeez, but I drifted out of the group and haven't done a BIAW since then.

They were tough, too. A whole week of focusing on the work. I can usually maintain that for a couple of days before I peter out. In fact, I only made my goal once out of all the BIAWs I did, but when I did, I celebrated.

See, I'm not much of a goal person. External or internal. I have, shall we say, issues with authority. Even self-imposed authority. I start getting really antsy and rebellious, even if it's to my own detriment. Self-discipline is the sort of thing I admire in other writers. Like women who can wear orange. Isn't it lovely...on her? But never on me.

But every once in a while, I can do a BIAW. Not regularly and I really have to be in a place where I know I don't have a hundred other unbreakable appointments.

So this is my BIAW week.

Some writers set goals of 75 pages a week. Which is like wearing orange. It's lovely. On them. Not for me, though.

I've set myself a daily goal of 3 pages per day. That's a lot for me. I usually putter along at one to two pages a day. Some days I don't even get that.

But this week, I commit to 3 pages a day. Even if it's dreck, and I have no doubt that a good portion of it will be.

If anyone wants to join in, feel free! Post on your blog what your goal is in words/day or pages/week or whatever, then update it daily so we can see your progress.

Gotta get writing!
8/21/2006 08:40:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 9 Comments

New directions

Saturday, August 19, 2006
You know that feeling when your story starts to slip slowly off the rails? In very tiny ways it just gets harder and harder to write, like typing through mud.

I knew something was wrong. After long experience, I've learned to go back to the last place the story was going right and work from there. Sometimes it's really hard to find that place. I found it.

Back on track now.
8/19/2006 08:47:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 6 Comments

Take That! Yahell!

Friday, August 18, 2006
Hah! I sneer at thee, thou wretched, worthless amalgamation of binary code!

I have rejected thee in favor of thy lesser known (at least in my circles) sister, Google!

I know I have a link to a Yahoo group waaaay down at the bottom of my sidebar. Fuhgeddaboudit. Join my Google Group instead!

Edit: Lookie! I even found one of those nifty graphic doohickies. God, I love technical jargon. I stuck it in the sidebar.

If you were already signed up for my Yahoo group, I've already e-mailed you and made you members of the Google group.

If you say the words "Google group" often enough, they start to sound funny.

And in yet other news, I am on p 14 of the new story. Progress! Slow, but certain.
8/18/2006 09:37:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 8 Comments

Just for the record

Thursday, August 17, 2006
I frickin' HATE YAHOO!!! I was supposed to be doing a chat this morning with Fallen Angel Review Chatters. I posted something at 10am that finally showed up at 5pm.

I have a Yahoo Group, but I think I'll cancel it. I hate it. I hate dealing with it. Don't sign up. I may consider a newsletter at some point in the future, but I don't have enough stuff going on right now to really warrant it.

8/17/2006 07:00:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 3 Comments

Inside the Writer's Studio

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Crystal Jordan very graciously interviewed me for her blog today. Go here to check it out!
8/16/2006 06:28:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 4 Comments

NOT QUITE DEAD release!!!!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006
This is it! I'm a real live author now. My book. My story. The one I cried and sweated and cussed over is published today.

It's right there for everyone to see on the front page at Samhain Publishing.

See? Right there.

I was really calm all morning. I had to get everyone ready, do the school run. I should have gone to the grocery store, but my laissez faire facade could only carry me so far.

Run, bloglets! Run over and look at my cover and read my excerpt and then run back and try to talk me down. I'm pinging hard and haven't even had a single cup of coffee yet.

Edit: ATTENTION BARGAIN SHOPPERS! For the low, low price of $3.15 -- not the formerly advertised $3.50 -- this little gem can be yours now! Don't delay, shoppers!
8/15/2006 09:25:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 20 Comments

Monday Meandering: Second verse, same as the first

Monday, August 14, 2006
I taped the first ever Bogie and Bacall movie, To Have and Have Not, and watched it a couple of nights ago. It was great. Not unbelievably deep, but still tons of fun. A lot of similarities to Casablanca, but with a happier ending. (Just FYI, there was a 26 year age difference between them. She was 19, he was 45.)

Anyway, as I was watching this movie, I kept getting this funny feeling that I'd seen it before. Little lines, little gestures, scenarios just felt really familiar to me. Then it hit me.

Rio Bravo. El Dorado. Both Howard Hawks films.

It's the same damn movie!!! Well, not quite, but pretty close -- at least as far as the love story goes. Now, El Dorado really is a remake of Rio Bravo, but I had no idea that Hawks had been building the same heroine, the same hero, the same hook, for years.

Heroine blows into hero's town, down on her luck. Hero tries to get her out of town, even though he's attracted. She doesn't go. They fall in luuuuurve.

Bacall utters one of the most famous lines in movie history in THaHN: "You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together, and blow." I actually rewound the scene to watch her do it again. Lord, she was sex on wheels.

Angie Dickinson gives John Wayne a variation on the line in RB and then Charlene Holt does it again in ED.

So how far can you milk a set-up before folks start to point and laugh? I mean, I know I've wonked about Nora (not that she's paying any attention) and the rut she fell into for a while with the redhead/blonde/brunette trilogies.

Hawks used this hook for at least two decades. THaHN was a 1944 film, ED was made in 1966. I don't know how many of his earlier films did it.

Is it ok for authors to do the same thing? There's an issue of comfort for the reader, I suppose. It's nice to know that when I pick up a certain author, I know what I'm going to get. But for me, that's more about voice than just using the same plot devices or, worse yet, the same characters, over and over.

You tell me. It'll save me a heckuva lot of work. ;)
8/14/2006 01:34:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 4 Comments

Rainy Saturday

Saturday, August 12, 2006
Haven has made banners for me! Cool! I've never had banners before!

The first week of school is over. It was exhausting. Poor Monkey Boy. He was so tired yesterday, he actually got into a fret about something, cried and took a nap. Unusual behaviour for him.

The Monkey Princess did really well, overall. She did not complete one of her worksheets, so I made her finish it before she went to a birthday party last night. She's just thrilled to be back with all her friends, even though they all got together regularly over the summer.

She's still in the Alert program (g&t, I suppose) and is looking forward to this year's projects.

The house sale is making me nervous. The other realtor seems to lack basic communication skills and there is paperwork that we ought to have had some time ago that we still haven't received. Today, our realtor got a cryptic e-mail from her.

I've got a bad feeling about this. Just a feeling. We'll see.

Guest blogging for Milady Insanity yesterday was fun! Got a couple of new people in to visit, at least. Crystal is interviewing me for her website on Tuesday and I'll be at a chat on Thursday...but I can't remember where. I know I wrote it down somewhere. Oh well. I'll figure it out.

So I guess it's all gearing up now.

The new story is progressing. Still very fairy-tale formal in style. I'm making a conscious decision to keep it that way. And I've found my heroine's name: Mai Westenra. It just works. I have Julia Stiles in my head when I think of her. See, Jaye? This time I needed a picture.

I haven't quite nailed down the hero yet, although I think I'm looking for a broodier Paul Gross. Some of the photos on that page are very young looking, but I need him a touch older. Lines around the eyes, but distinguished. He was, after all, a king.

And see? I didn't know that until I typed it right there.

THAT'S why it's so much fun to be a pantser! And I'll be cussing it tomorrow.
8/12/2006 01:54:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 6 Comments

Guest Blogging

Thursday, August 10, 2006
I'm over at Milady Insanity's blog today/tomorrow August 11, so come talk to me!

In other news, did you know that Samhain releases in 6 different formats? I just got copies of them! It's a real, live e-book now, just waiting to hit the cyber shelves!
8/10/2006 09:15:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 5 Comments

Life as I Know It

It's the third day of school. No one has thrown up, no one has cried, no one has missed the bus home.

So far, so good.

Also, I am writing. This may not sound like much, seeing as how I'm a writer. But I haven't been a writer all summer. With dh home, the house to prepare and the kids all over, I've dabbled here and there, but I haven't seriously written.

Now the kids are at school and the house is sold.

The bad news? I'm not writing the story I'm supposed to be writing. Remember that query contest I won with Kate Duffy as the final judge? I couldn't care less about that story. Really. I suppose if I went back to the original scene I wrote, I might be able to fiddle with it, but for now, I'm just disgusted with all the attempts I've made. I don't know if I'm starting in the wrong place or what, but it's really not working.

Instead, I started day dreaming. A favorite poem. A favorite fairy tale. And a river.

Wanna see it? The writing is atypical for me. More lush, more formal, more stylized. I like it, but I don't know if I'll be able to maintain it.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
~Robert Frost

The water was freezing cold, weighing down her body, turning her muscles to ice, her blood to slush. And so dark. The headlights of her car were invisible now, broken perhaps, or just too deep for her to see.

I’m sorry. She didn’t know for what, she was just sorry. Guilt for things unsaid, deeds unforgiven, obstacles unconquered.

A final rush of pain stiffened her limbs, and she fought against it, arching her neck, staring up as the last glimmer of moonlight on the surface was blocked by a large shape.

Something, a hand, reached out to her and she took it, her hand floating up as she sank further into the cold darkness.

The hand was warm, and soft, and huge. It tugged her toward itself, also warm and soft and huge. And then she was gone.

She wasn’t breathing. He lifted a hand to bang on her chest, shock air back into her lungs, and realized what he was. As the bear, the blow meant to give her life would likely kill her. He had to change first.

The magic was painful. Part of the curse. He knew and accepted the pain, let it wash through him until he huddled, as cold as the woman before him, shuddering. He leaned over her, tilted her neck back, pinched her nose, opened her mouth and gave her his breath. Over and over, he breathed for her. Over and over, he pumped the heels of his hands between her breasts. He began to despair. His sacrifice, his efforts had been for nothing.

Until she breathed. Choked, sputtered, murky water gushed from her mouth and her nose and he turned her to her side, helping her rid herself of the river.

Her eyelids fluttered up and he couldn’t move away, couldn’t hide himself, found himself not wanting to hide from her. Her lips were pale blue and wet, but they lifted at him. For him. She smiled and whispered. He bent closer to hear her words.

“Thank you.” And her eyelids fell again.

No matter. She breathed. She lived.

He put his arms under her and lifted. Unlike the fairy tales, she was not weightless as down, but a moderately sized woman. Had he been at his full strength; had he been warm and dry at least, he could have carried her back to his home with little effort. But he had spent his energy in the river, and more in the transformation. So he spent the last of his human fortitude in a final change.

Now she felt light to him, as light as a kitten in the arms of a strong man. He settled her on his back, careful to balance her so she would not slip and injure herself again. Then he turned his face toward the north and began his journey.

Before he left, he looked again toward the river, toward the bridge that spanned it. He watched the men who had chased her car over the edge. They did not see him.
8/10/2006 08:16:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 10 Comments

Monday Meandering: Where's the Bucket?

Sunday, August 06, 2006
Before I begin, I need to ask for your prayers and well-wishes on behalf of a friend. Her 3yo grandson was seriously injured in a backyard trampoline accident and has been in ICU for nearly three days now. There are hopeful signs, but his injury was traumatic. I can't be more specific as she wants to keep detailed family matters private, but please pray for them.

Now for today's Monday Meandering.

As my novella approaches publication, my fears multiply. Since I wrote it, I've been confident about this story. I knew it was good, I knew it would sell.

Until it sold.

My editor is a wonderful person. She's intelligent, she's funny, and she's damn good at her job.

At least I thought so until she acquired my story.

Because who in the world could ever think this piece of crap even resembled a good story? If I had any sense at all, I'd e-mail and tell her to pull it out of the line-up because it's not ready. It's bad writing, it's trite, the laughs fall flat and everyone is going to hate my characters.

But I'm a writer and writers don't have good sense. If we did, we wouldn't be in this soul-sucking business to begin with.

Here's the really funny thing. I wrote this little essay a couple of days ago--before I read and panned the book I blogged about yesterday.

You know what? I feel MUCH better about my story now. I really do.

And Angie is a ruddy genius to have picked it up for Samhain.

Bipolar, much?
8/06/2006 08:05:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 13 Comments

Impromptu Review of a Really Awful Book

Saturday, August 05, 2006
I picked up this book as a freebie in the Goody Room at the RWA National Conference this year. The publisher (who shall remain nameless because I have dear friends who have written for them) had four titles to choose from and, as this one was a Medieval, I thought I'd give it a try.

I should start with the positive. The writing is technically adequate. The author can write. She can tell a story and she followed the basic parameters of a plot arc. Well done. She doesn't seem to have any sort of handle on POV, seeing as she tells it from at least six different heads, but most readers will never notice.

The external plot was a bit contrived, but I could work around it. Betrayal and political machinations in the time of William of Normandy. I don't know that era of history very well, but it seemed workable enough.

The characters?

Muh. Gawd.

I'm almost speechless, but not quite. I retain enough ability to say that rarely have I encountered a sluttier heroine. Seriously.

I've read just enough erotica to know that the heroines are, for the most part, women of varied and willing experience. They like sex. A lot. That's fine. I can even admire it in some characters.

But the reason it ticks me off in this story is that the entire way through the book, the author is swearing up and down that this chick is innocent, sweet, and damn near virginal, despite the fact that she had been the hero's lover several years before and was now married.

Virginal? I don't think so.

I also think the author forgot the details of the backstory between hero and heroine. First, the heroine is convent raised, then she's a serf, then she's part of some Saxon resistance wherein she and two of her friends tied the hero spread eagle to a tree and proceeded to use a "bone phallus" on him. Let's say it together now -- eeeewwwww.

So by the time I piece together the fragments of backstory, I'm already pretty sure she's no innocent.

She *ahem* performs oral sex on her husband, whom she really doesn't like, like a pro, and I mean the "pay by the hour" type of pro. (Hey Divas, remember the finger in the "special place"? That's him.) Then she boinks the hero standing up in the hall about 10 minutes later. Throughout the course of the book, she also seduces a young squire (Poor guy. He gets to recreate the hero's Saxon humiliation -- entirely against his will -- and then proceeds to forgive his torturer and be a loyal spy for him. Yeah right.), lets the hero's loyal bodyguard do her in *her* "special place" while the hero watches as he screws the villainess, and she seduces a mentally deficient mute. The last one she could have escaped, but he had a really big dick, so what the hell, right?

I'm still not getting innocent, virginal vibes off this girl. Are you?

Then there's the villainess, who is naturally into bondage and domination. Her punishment at the end of the book is letting three guys do her in public. Hello? That's like an ordinary Saturday night for her! Not much of a punishment, really.

The other woman in this book is so unutterably stupid I'm suprised she can undo her own corset laces. Oh wait. She has men falling at her feet to do that for her. Apparently, she can captivate men with her boobs. I kid you not. That's her only attribute, as far as I can see. She seduces three novice monks into screwing each other (A candle was involved. More ick), and generally has a merry old time with the hero's bodyguard. You remember him. He gave it to the heroine while the hero watched.

And this just kills me. TSTL chick is an heiress who runs away from her parents to follow the hero, to whom she's engaged, but she ends up engaged to the bodyguard, who's a Moor! Daddy will be so pleased. Not to be un-PC about it, but let's try to work in just a page or two of reality here. Just for kicks and giggles.

The only female character I halfway liked was a servant so butt-ugly men would only do her if she was facing away or they were wearing a blindfold. Again, not kidding.

The hero is, as far as I could tell at all, an unredeemable asshole. Of the six POVs, none of them was his. He tortures his squire, he boinks everything with boobs, he pretends to be a traitor and locks the heroine up with the well-endowed mute. Oh yeah. He's a real prize winner.

And all without any readily obvious motivation because the author won't let us see into his head.

On a totally unrelated note, this is one of the things that bothers me about most 1st person writing from the heroine's POV. When (never if, but when) the hero acts like a big jerk, I want to know why. But I never get to know until the very end of the story, and I'm still holding a grudge against him for his assholian behaviour, so I can't invest in the HEA.

Anyway, if I were to seriously review this story, I'd give it about 1 star. And that, only because the author has a good grasp of grammar and vocabulary. The story was terrible.

I'm going to get hammered for this, aren't I? Ah well. Too bad. The book deserved the panning.
8/05/2006 07:55:00 PM : : Sela Carsen : : 18 Comments

The cover is up at Samhain!

Friday, August 04, 2006
The ms is off with the Final Line Editor and the cover art made it up onto the site here.

Cool, no?

Cool, yes.

Last night (and I swear it was 105 with the heat index) we had the annual school Meet the Teachers night at a local park. We stayed long enough to pay the school fees and say "how d'ye do" and got the heck out of there.

I'm not worried about Monkey Boy. You could drop that kid into any situation and he'd swim.

But the Monkey Princess? I dunno. The new teacher seems sweet enough, but she's so young! Or is it just that I'm getting old?

Funny thing is, I'm the youngest mom on the block, I think. We had an impromptu meeting of the book club last night after the school thing because a member who had moved to Germany was back in town for a couple of days. Heck, I think I'm the only one there still in my 30s and all our kids are the same age.

Anyway, I worry. A useless thing to do, but there you go.
8/04/2006 07:36:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 6 Comments


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

AUGUST 15, 2006

Nes completely nailed Sabine. I love Willem's hair and clothes, the hint of Victorian. And the New Orleans balcony gives it great texture.

If you don't like it, I don't want to know. Just smile and nod, folks. Smile and nod.
8/02/2006 09:16:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 19 Comments

The Final Countdown

Tuesday, August 01, 2006
I'd do the air guitar thing, but I'm wiped. Mom's plane left about 20 minutes ago (it's 7:40 am), but we were up at 4:30 to get out of the house in plenty of time.

In one week: The Monkey Children go back to school.

The Monkey Princess will be in 4th grade with a teacher fresh out of college. We'll see if she doesn't run screaming by Halloween.

And Monkey Boy will begin Kindergarten. What the...? He's just a baby! He can't go to Kindergarten! Back to preschool with you, little buddy.

I swear, they actually grew while I was in Atlanta. Must be all the popcorn and ice cream Lita fed them. Today is the trying on of the wardrobe for Monkey Princess. Big sales on clothes this week, so if I'm going to stock up, now is the time. And they both need new shoes.

In two weeks: NOT QUITE DEAD will be released.

Oh. My. God. I may hurl. Seriously.

Vanessa is my cover artist and she made a couple of changes to the first try. Huge difference. If you click the link, you'll see that most of her art is very dramatic and I admit that at first, I was concerned that NQD's cover would reflect that. Which would be a bad thing since it's a romantic comedy. It's still not an overtly "comic" cover -- I definitely didn't want a cartoon -- but it's a happy medium.

No, I don't think I can post it yet, but the very second I get the go-ahead, you're going to see it all over the place.

Sorry I didn't do a Monday Meandering yesterday. I should have prepared one before I left for RWA, but I was a little distracted. Next Monday, I promise.
8/01/2006 07:42:00 AM : : Sela Carsen : : 12 Comments


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