Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Finding Time to Do it All

So this is where I wish I could be right now--sitting in the woods, contemplating nature. Instead, I'm frantically typing away on my computer, surrounded by piles of suitcases, toys, and paraphernalia of out-of-town guests. Keeping one eye on the kids bouncing off the walls, one ear on the conversation so I don't come off as totally rude, and half a mind on the blog and other writing assignments that are due today.

Does it feel as if you're always pulled in ten (or maybe fifty) different directions at once? Is your life a multi-tasking mania? If, like most writers, you need to hold down a day job (or night job, or both) and juggle family responsibilities and community commitments, it's hard to find time for the things you most want to do. So how do you take control of your to-do list, carve out time for your dreams? If you've found some great ways to do so, please share. 

What's your typical day like? I'm trying to run a business, do stacks of freelance editing, work on assignments for grad school, take two online courses, and write both for pleasure and for contracts. In between, I have conferences, book signings, and speaking engagements. Deadlines seem to loom whatever direction I look. And today brought another editing contract and an email from my editor--a YA novel sold on a partial needs to be completed in two months. Can I get it all done?

When I look at it logically, I panic. I can't see any way I'll meet all these deadlines, complete all the edits, do all the traveling, and still have time for myself and my family. But then I look at all the things I've already accomplished this year and know it will get done somehow. Probably with a lot less sleep than I'd like.

One thing I'm trying to do, though, in spite of a hectic schedule, is take time for my life goals. I was inspired by this video, and I hope you will be too.

Even if I only take 5 or 10 minutes a day, I can head toward my goals. And I can manage to do that for 30 days. Do you have a book you've been dreaming about writing? One that you need to edit? Or have you always dreamed of learning a foreign language or playing an instrument? Maybe you want to exercise or learn to draw? Why not try this 30-day challenge?

Wait a minute, you're probably thinking. We were already talking about how overloaded our lives are. Why would add more things to an already full schedule?

One thing I've found is that spending time on something you truly long to do gives you a burst of energy to tackle all the mundane jobs and get them done more quickly so you can have that time for your 30-day challenge. You also start to cut out time-wasters and use your day more productively. Try it and let me know how it works.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

GEEKALEGAL: What about those pirate sites?

A month has gone by and my absence was due to some medical matters. All well and getting back in the fray. One of the issues that came up during that time period was one of the many pirate sites that give away e-books for free. Yes, those same e-books author's expect to get income from are copied and offered for free on these sites.

For me it was a double edged sword as an attorney but also an author with a stolen book. First action was to locate the information on the company, and to send a take down notice. Before I could do that, on my behalf and that of several authors, the site came down. We still aren't sure though if it will come up again or in a different name or guise. The thing is that the internet makes plagiarizing just too easy.

What do these folks gain if the books are for free. Advertising income used to be the response, but now it is much more insidious. The websites gather information about you, and then sell that information, making a lot of money by those transactions. They are able to track where you are by certain software codes that recognize you on other websites with the same coding. This is how companies are making big bucks, selling your data to the numerati who can then use it to make your internet customized to you, as use the information for product development.

This is a topic I want to explore both through the law of copyright and internet law, and plan to do so in a seminar this fall that I am taking in the LLM program I'm finishing at UH Law School (it is a specialization degree post-JD). If I can get it approved, I'll be asking you all more questions and perhaps to participate in a survey so that I can get a good feel for what types of actions authors would be willing to take against this type of piracy, as well as from publishers.

In the meantime, along with a wonderful author, Alisha Paige, I will be starting a Yahoo group for authors and publishers, and others interested in com batting this type of internet theft. I will let you all know when it is up, and will post the information on both my web page:, www.divalaw.com and on www.HoustonYAMG.org .

On another note, if you haven't been watching, after three of the defendants in the DOJ suit came to an agreement, Apple and the remaining publisher defendants filed protests to the settlement.  The DOJ slammed back at them with a response that three defendants settling does not impair their ability to keep doing business, albeit I haven't read the briefs of either side yet. 

This is short, but am still dealing with headaches so until next time, have a great writing month and enjoy the geeky world out there!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tip of the Day: Always Have A Lifeline

I’m on the verge of finishing the first draft of my current work-in-progress. I gave myself a strict deadline, which I plan on keeping. But as the days tick by I feel this overwhelming pressure while staring at the blank page. The words come in spurts making me think I’ll miss my deadline for sure. So I grab the phone and call my lifelineCynthia. Nobody can set me straight faster than my best friend.

“Hey Cyn, what’s up?”

“You done with that first draft yet?”


“Thought you had a deadline. Isn’t it in a week?”

I want to hang up the phone. But this is the tough love I need. “Yeah. I’m almost there.”

“Fantastic. So you’re good. ”

I swallow hard. “I’m fine.”

“Denial isn’t a river in Egypt.”

Ouch. But I tell myself this is what I called her for. “Okay, so I might be having some issues with finishing the book.”

“I thought you were jazzed about writing the big twist. When you told me about it I was blown away. Total genius.”

A true friend is good for two things, kicking your butt and telling you you’re a genius.

“Thanks. I just feel so much pressure to get it right.”

“But isn’t this the first draft?”


“And after that isn’t there a second, and third draft?”

I want to strangle her for reminding me. “Yeah.”

“Then what’s the big deal? Plow through the thing and fix stuff on the next draft.”

The simplicity of her logic made me feel anything but a genius. “Ah… got to go. Someone is ringing the doorbell.”  

“Nice try.”

“Okay, you’re right. I’m being silly. I’m putting way too much pressure on myself.”

“Great. Now get busy and finish the book. I won’t be happy until I see you’re name on the New York Times bestsellers list. ”  


Sunday, August 19, 2012

KDP Select and Other Stuff

Greetings All!

I decided to enroll several of my Kindle books/short stories in the Kindle Select program. This weekend I made the first of them free for three days. Here are the stats so far—On Friday I had 57 people   download the book. On Saturday morning it was up to 82, by Saturday afternoon it was up to 91 downloads and by this morning it was up to 96.
 And the best news of all—
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,633 Free in Kindle Store(See Top 100 Free in Kindle         Store
o    #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Children's FictionHistorical FictionMedieval
      Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,633 Free in Kindle Store(See Top 100 Free in Kindle             Store
o    #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Children's FictionHistorical FictionMedieval

I am happy I decided to do this for several reasons. First of all, I wanted the promotion. I spend a lot of time promoting my books but they still aren’t selling as well as I would like them to be. So, I put up two short stories (LITTLE RED and LITTLE BOY BLUE), a novella (ORPHEUS ASCENDING), a YA Greek Mythology inspired novel (MOON PRINCESS) and a YA historical novel (EIGYR).  I will be making ORPHEUS ASCENDING free over Labor Day weekend (Aug. 31, Sept. 1, Sept. 3) and I plan on making MOON PRINCESS free in September (dates TBA). And, second of all, I wanted more readers. I figure if people read one of my books, they might be inclined to read others.

In my other news, my second murder mystery, the Mel Thompson, P.I. series IF IT’S TUESDAY, IT MUST BE TROUBLE is set to be released the week of Thanksgiving. I will be doing a Bewitched Books Blog Tour during the first week of December for it. Watch for giveaways! If anyone has any ideas for something murder mystery related, I’d appreciate it!

Speaking of giveaways and blog tours, I just finished a blog tour with Bewitched for LORE OF FEI, my YA faerie fantasy. I gave away a tote bag, pens, key chains and free copies of the book to the winners. I got to do guest blogs and interviews and I had fun! That’s why I decided to do another one. And, when WAR OF FEI, the second Lore of Fei book comes out in Feb. I’ll do another one!

I participated in the WriteOnCon this past week and got some great writing advice/feedback. If you missed it their presentations are archived here: www.writeoncon.com. You have to register to join but it’s free.

I am in the process of editing THE VIDDEN, my YA Dystopian. It needs work. A lot of work. I threw everything but the kitchen sink in it and it was a mess. I had to bite the bullet, so to speak and hit the delete button several times. I took out whole chapters, revamped the ending and now am working on the beginning and middle.

Speaking of YA Dystopians, I am excited The Hunger Games movie is out on DVD.

I am still agentless but I am still querying. My zombie book is getting the most requests. I had made it YA but based on feedback I aged down the MC to be middle grade instead. It’s getting more positive feedback now.  Hopefully, soon I’ll have more good news to share!

Don’t forget to weigh in on what you think I should giveaway both for the murder mystery book and the second Lore of Fei book. Thanks!

Take Care, Until Next Time,

Friday, August 17, 2012

Vacation Brain

I spent the beginning of this week in Philadelphia, PA. I visited the city last year for a readers/authors convention, and fell in love with the place, so I decided to go back this year. In addition to being an awesome city and having a ton of history, there are bookstores there...

One bookstore in particular is my favorite place. Giovanni's Room is the oldest GLBT (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transsexual/transgendered) bookstore in the United States, and they have a selection of GLBT-themed/friendly young adult books. Though not a huge selection. Which makes me think there needs to be more young adult fiction out there that's about GLBT characters, and especially more where the characters' sexuality is NOT the plot.

And that's about as far as my thoughts have gotten, because I'm discovering that after spending three days in my favorite U.S. city, along with a seven-hour bus trip there and a six-hour train trip home, my brain isn't working. So I hope everyone is having a good August, and I'll see you on September 3!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Feel Like Giving Up?

Whew! Just looking at this stack of books makes me tired. It represents hours and hours and hours of labor -- researching, writing, revising, editing. Five volumes, 2200+ pages. Night after night of typing until 2 or 3 AM, getting up the next morning and typing some more. Hours of research in libraries, filling reams of paper with facts and human interest stories, contacting experts all over the country--actually all over the continent, because the series covers Canada and Mexico too. And now all that work has paid off. My copies of the UXL Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes has arrived, and I'm celebrating their release.

Teens who pick them up will have no idea of the amount of work that went into putting this set together, just as they may not know all the work you put into the fiction books they devour. Every book, every completed manuscript represents hours and hours of labor. And I'm sure that there were many times along the way that you felt like giving up. I know I did. But now all that work is behind me, and I can enjoy the finished product -- while I work on an equally challenging project, this time some fiction manuscripts. Successes can keep us energized and moving toward our goals, but what if those successes seem illusive? What if all your hard work isn't paying off?

Maybe you're only dreaming of writing a book. Or struggling to finish a manuscript. Perhaps you're tearing your hair out with revisions. Holding a stack of rejection letters in your hand. Trying to find an editor or agent. Wishing your agented manuscript would sell. Racing to turn a book in by the deadline Overwhelmed with marketing your book (or books).

Each of these represent stages in the writer's journey. And just as you learned to walk and talk as infant, with baby steps (or giant leaps) you can move from one to the other. Some lucky people leapfrog from one stage to the next quickly and effortlessly. Looking at those people can be discouraging if you're only plodding along or, worse yet, if it seems you're backsliding. But your time will come if you stay true to your dream.

In the previous post, Nicole Maggi talked about the Olympics. Those athletes train for years, putting in long hours, giving up other activities to stay focused on their dreams. And not everyone who dedicates all that time and effort will come home with the gold, but every one of them is a winner. They have what it takes to stand out. And that talent is amazing. In their hometowns, in their states, or even their countries, they've won many competitions. Should they hang their heads because they didn't come home with a medal?  Of course not. They're still extremely talented. But if they only compare themselves to the other top athletes in the world, they can easily see themselves as failures rather than winners.

Writers, too, often become discouraged because they're comparing themselves with multi-published New York Times best-selling authors and wondering why they aren't as successful. Or maybe you're comparing yourself to a friend who's sold a book, while you stand there holding your fiftieth rejection letter. If you're feeling like a failure, maybe it's time to turn around and look at how far you've come.

Once upon a time you'd never received a rejection letter. Once upon a time you'd never queried an editor or agent. Once upon a time you had no idea how to write a query letter. Once upon a time you knew nothing about the craft of writing. Once upon a time you had no idea how to plot a story. Once upon a time you had no words on paper. If you go back far enough, you'll realize that once upon a time you didn't know how to walk or talk or even write the alphabet. You've come a long way and mastered skills each step along the way.

Think of all that you've accomplished. Celebrate each and every step, no matter how small. Like an Olympic athlete going home without a medal, you're still extremely talented. Stop comparing yourself with others or with your ideal self, and keep your eyes on what you've conquered so far. You're still a winner!

For more inspiration, check out McKenna Darby's post: Struggling as a Writer? Congratulations!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Striving For Gold

Today marks the last day of the XXX Olympiad.  I'm always inspired and awed by the Olympics.  I was raised on the Olympics; my father was in the '68 Trials for track-and-field, and he's attended every Summer Olympics since 1976, with the exception of '80 Moscow (which the US boycotted) and '88 Seoul.  In 1984 my family piled into a van and crossed the country to attend the Olympics in Los Angeles that year.  Ever since then, my spirit always soars whenever I hear the Olympic Anthem.

There were so many awe-inspiring moments during the London Games.  Who could forget Missy Franklin's look of surprise and delight when she realized she'd won her first gold medal?  Or the Fab Five clutching each other's hands as they waited for the scoreboard to confirm their team final win?  Or the historic team of Missy May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh-Jennings as they fell to the sand, hugging and crying, upon winning their third straight gold medal?  Or the absolutely dazzling women of the 4x100 meter relay, crossing the finish line in world record time?

Whenever I watch the Olympics, I feel like I missed a turn somewhere long ago, the turn I could have taken to become a superior athlete.  (My sport: Equestrian.  Fun Olympic fact: Equestrian is the only Olympic sport in which men and women compete equally.)  I look at my own achievements compared to a gold medal and think, big deal.

But you know what?  Writing a book IS a big deal.  It IS an achievement.  And being a writer has a lot in common with being an athlete.  After all, writing a book is like running a marathon.  You must always have your eye on the finish line, while keeping yourself present in every step you take on the way.

You must have support, people to lean on when the rejections start rolling in and people to celebrate with when you get The Call.  Those P&G commercials celebrating the moms of Olympians aren't just paying lip service.  Every Olympian has someone supporting them, whether it's a mom or dad or coach.  There's a reason why NBC flashes to Debbie Phelps every time her son wins another medal.  He wouldn't be winning those medals without her support.

And you must believe in yourself, even when twenty editors have rejected your book, even you realize you have to scrap half the manuscript because you've plotted yourself into a corner, even when it seems like the Universe is conspiring against you at every turn.  When David Boudia stepped onto that 10 meter platform, knowing that the Chinese have dominated this sport for years and that it had been 24 years since an American male had won a gold, do you think he didn't believe he could do it?  He knew with every ounce of his being that he could.  And he did.

I was never meant to be an Olympic athlete; I was meant to stand on the sidelines and cheer my head off for those incredible athletes on the field.  But I was meant to be a writer.  And at the end of the day, I may not have won a gold medal, but I still feel like a winner.

Nicole Maggi writes YA - paranormal, historical, and beyond.  Her debut novel WINTER FALLS will be released in 2014 from Medallion Press.  She's represented by the fabulous Irene Goodman of The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, their daughter Emilia (after the Shakespeare character), and two cats Sawyer & Hurley (after the LOST characters).  Yeah, she's a geek.  Check out her website & follow her on Twitter!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tip of the Day: Change Things Up!

Did you ever have one of those days where you did everything right but still didn’t get any writing done?  Welcome to my Monday.  I woke up in the morning, had a good breakfast and went up to my office and sat down in the chair. I hopped on Yahoo and checked on my emails like I normally do.  I like to get my emails out of the way before I get down to writing. But that’s when my good intentions began to go south. I answered a few friends’ emails and then jumped on Facebook. I usually limited myself to fifteen minutes tops. I was doing great until I stumbled upon a link about writing that sucked me right in. That link led to a whole series of links. Next thing you know I’d blown two hours.

I screamed at the clock. “I thought you were my friend. I just lost two hours of writing time!”

The clock stared back at me. Just to show it’s indifference the minute hand ticked forward. I glared at my nemesis. “If you weren’t over a hundred years old I’d throw you across the room.”

Then I laughed. Attacking a clock was ridiculous. How could I get mad at an inanimate object? I realized right then my morning routine wasn’t working. So I decided for the rest of the week after breakfast I’d sit myself down in the chair and turn the clock into my friend again.  For two hours my computer would be for only one thing—writing. Emails had to take a back seat. Sometimes a routine that had worked for a long time suddenly fails you. Don’t resort to screaming at a clock. Change things up!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Blog Tour

Greetings All!
The news this morning is that I am doing a blog tour this coming week for LORE OF FEI through Bewitched Blog Tours! I hope everyone stops by to read interviews, excerpts and for the prizes!  I am giving away copies of the book (Ebook only), copies of my other books, and a tote bag/pen/key chain with the LORE OF FEI cover on it.  So, stop by any or all of these blogs beginning tomorrow:

August 6
Comfort Books: 

August 6
To Read or Not To Read

August 7

August 7
Ali's Bookshelf

August 7
Freda ‘s Voice

August 8
The YA Cafe 

August 8
Amber's Supernatural & YA Reviews

August 9
A Bibliophile's Thoughts on Books

August 9
Basia’s Bookshelf, 

August 10
Booked Up/Confessions from Romaholics

August 10  
Books & Other Spells. 

August 11
On the Broomstick

August 11

August 11
A Case of Reading Insomnia 

August 12

August 12
Flutey Words

August 13  
The Ink Puddle 

August 13

My other writing news is that my second Mel Thompson, P.I. book has been accepted by Gypsy Shadow Publishing and I have a cover already! No release date yet though. The first one is called IF IT’S MONDAY, IT MUST BE MURDER and was released in Sept. 2011 and the second one is IF IT’S TUESDAY, IT MUST BE TROUBLE. Do you sense a theme here? LOL.

I am still on the lookout for an agent. I’ve had some interest for my zombie book and based on feedback I got I have revised it and am sending it out again. I have a new WIP I am thinking about but the idea isn’t fully formed yet.

Oh, my second book in the Lore of Fei series, WAR OF FEI has been accepted by Muse It Up Publishing and will be released in Feb. 2013. I will be writing the third and final book in the series, VEIL OF FEI during the month of November for NaNoWriMo. I wrote LORE OF FEI the first time I participated in NaNo and I wrote the second book this past year. I like doing NaNoWriMo and I thought, why not do the third book in November? Gives me something to shoot for anyway.

I am excited to do the blog tour, if it all goes well, I’m planning on doing another one for WAR OF FEI.

Take Care, Until Next Time,

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Haze

That's what I have in my brain right now... Haze. It's hot and humid and I've been writing all week, and I just can't think anymore.

Which kind of stinks since tomorrow's my day to blog here...

So instead of wracking my brain and giving myself a headache, I'd like to share a short excerpt from my urban fantasy novel Jet Black, which is the third book in my series The Dark Lines and was released in March from Featherweight Press.


Blake shook his head and looked around at us, his brown eyes wide and confused. When he saw Faith the confusion was replaced with horror. He dropped to his knees beside her and took her hand. “Faith, I’m sorry.”
She tried to smile. “It isn’t your fault, Blake.”
“Yeah, it is. I tried to talk to it. And then I tried to shut it out, but I was too late.” He looked up at me. “You were right. It knew we were here the second we showed up. And it’s glad to see me.”
“What are you, Blake, a friend of its or something?” Misty asked in a smarmy tone.
“Maybe you’re the one who should answer that,” Blake snapped.
Again, we didn’t have time for them to argue with each other. I stepped between them, facing my brother. “Blake, what are you talking about?”
Scowling, he nodded toward Misty. “Ask her. She knows exactly what I mean.”
Misty stared back at me with wide-eyed innocence. The black had left her aura. “I have no idea,” she said. “Topher, I told you I didn’t want you to bring him. Now you see why. I had a feeling he’d be like this.”
Blake stood, fists clenched. His aura had returned to its normal blue, but now red shot through it, showing his fury.
“Cool it, Blake.” I turned to Misty. “You too. We don’t have time for this.”
“We don’t have time to deal with someone like her,” Blake snapped.
Callie touched his arm. The red in Blake’s aura faded as she drew the anger from him. “Faith needs to be away from here,” she said, speaking low. “Help me take her back to the square so she can rest.”
With a last glare at Misty, Blake turned his back on her and held his hand out to Faith. She took it. He helped her to her feet and put his arm around her. She leaned against him. Her face was still pale, and dark circles rimmed her eyes. She breathed through her open mouth as hard as if she’d been running. “You’ll be okay,” Blake murmured to her.
He beckoned Eli over to him and said something I couldn’t hear. Both of them turned to me. Blake frowned. “It’s ready this time, Topher. Be careful.”
“I will be.” After what had just happened, I definitely wouldn’t take any chances. “I’ll meet you guys in the square in a little while.”
Supporting Faith, Blake headed up the street. Callie followed, walking slowly on unsteady legs. The darkness hadn’t affected her as strongly as it had Faith because Callie hadn’t come as close to the alley, but it had still taken a lot out of her. She glanced back over her shoulder at me, and she was as pale as Faith. I almost followed her to make sure she was all right. I should have known better than to bring her here, I thought.
Instead of going after Callie, I stayed where I was. I wanted to talk more to Misty. Eli made no move to follow the others, and I figured Blake must have asked him to stay with me.
“This is ridiculous,” Misty spat. “Can you help me or not? I’m thinking not, since three of the people you brought with you can’t even handle standing here.”
“Three months ago that thing took over Blake’s mind,” Eli said quietly. “That makes it easier for it to get in again. As for Faith and Callie, it won’t let them stay near it for long. You saw some of its power the night it took your sister. Do you think all we have to do is walk up and ask it politely to leave?”
Misty turned to me. “Topher, is everything on your website a lie, or can you do something to help my sister?”
She had insulted my friends and practically accused me of being a liar. I should have walked away and left her to deal with her own problem. And yet, I couldn’t turn my back on her. She hadn’t meant to sound so insulting. It was just her reaction to the pain and fear of having seen the darkness take her sister. I understood a reaction like that.
No matter what Misty said or how much she ticked off me and the others, the fact was that the dark force that Callie and Blake had fought was here. We had another chance to defeat it, maybe for good this time. If Misty hadn’t contacted us, we might have missed that chance. Because of that, I was willing to overlook some snarky behavior.
I didn’t want to get her hopes up too high, though. “Misty, I’m sorry. What’s on my website is true, but we can’t help your sister if she’s already been taken. Blake was right about that. When the darkness takes people, it draws in every part of them. It leaves nothing.”
Misty let out a loud sob. I ignored the small part of my mind that said she was faking. “So there’s nothing you can do?” she wailed.
“Not for your sister,” I replied. I wished I had better news for her. If I’d thought there was any chance that her sister had survived, I would have gone through the portal right then and there to look for her. I’d seen people taken, and I’d lost my best friend because of the darkness. I knew what Misty was going through.
I didn’t have any hope that Misty’s sister still lived. But I could help make sure no one else was lost. “We can fight the darkness,” I said to Misty. “We might even win.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Midnight Sun

I thought I'd moved past the Twilight series. Then when I was out on Goodreads, I saw the free  two hundred and sixteen page draft of Midnight Sun and thought what the heck. I started reading it and got sucked right back into the characters.
How do you think the upcoming movie is going to fare? Are there still Twilight fans out there?