Eleven Pipers & the Divine Ms D!

fifthgraveWe’re counting down to Christmas and today, instead of offering you eleven pipers piping, which could get seriously irritating pretty damn fast, I have one of my local chapter friends offering something even better!

Darynda Jones is a mega-selling Big Deal Author, it’s true. However, she’s also a member of the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA), my local RWA chapter. When I moved to Santa Fe a few years ago, I never expected that I’d become part of this truly close, supportive and awesome group of authors. Another LERA gal, Katie Lane, will be handling the Eight Maids a Milking Day.

Today is our LERA Christmas Party, so I get to leave in a few hours to spend some time with these gals who are truly part of my greater family. We’ll be posting pics, so look for those later today!

On to the presents!

Darynda is giving away a digital copy of any of her books – winner’s choice – and a $25 iTunes gift card. Check out her Facebook post on this! Or refer back to my original post for rules.

Good luck everyone! I hope you get to spend some festive time with your besties, too.

Twelve Days of Gifts!

CM-3152-SSToday marks the start of my Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway! For BaGOfH_CIAAuf91the next twelve days, I will be giving away special treats to mark the countdown to Christmas. Yes, I know that the first day of Christmas is really Christmas Day and it counts up from there – I promise they do it correctly in my naughty holiday novella, Five Golden Rings.

But this is way more fun!

And, because this is the season of appreciating good friends, look for some of my writer buddies to be participating too! More details as time passes….

So, for today’s Goodie Giveaway, rather than 12 Drummers Drumming, I’m offering a Create Your Own Cookie Collection from Wolferman’s Bakery, plus a digital copy of Five Golden Rings. (Or one of my other books, if you already have one.)

At the very end, I’ll draw a from all the entries and draw a winner for this really pretty sterling silver Partridge in a Pear Tree pendant (or a $100 gift card, if overseas shipping becomes an issue).

To enter just comment on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads. Share the Facebook posts, Retweet the tweets, say something about how much you like the author or books. Either tag me there or comment on this post to tell me what you did. Easy peasy! I’ll draw each day’s winner the following morning and the Grand Prize Winner on Christmas!

The schedule so far!

12/13   12 Drummers Drumming

A dozen Wolferman’s cookies and a digital copy of Five Golden Rings!

12/14    11 Pipers Piping

Darynda Jones, $25 iTunes gift card and a digital copy of any of her books!

12/15    10 Lords-a-Leaping

Carolyn Crane with a special delivery of her favorite candy treats and an ARC of her brand new romantic suspense Off the Edge!

12/16    9 Ladies Dancing

Tawna Fenske, who I can vouch is great in bed, will be giving away a copy of Believe It or Not!

12/17    8 Maids-a-Milking

Katie Lane with goodies and copies of her Cowboy Christmas books!

12/18    7 Swans-a-Swimming

Debut author Audra North is offering a $10 gift card to Amazon or B&N along with a copy of her debut book Falling for the CEO!

12/19   6 Geese-a-Laying

Anne Calhoun will be giving away some Ghirardelli chocolates, an ARC of Jaded – not out until February! – a copy of Uncommon Passion

12/20    5 Gold Rings

Something very special from Jeffe

12/21    4 Colly Birds

Megan Mulry with a hot-off-the-press ARC of her upcoming release R Is for Rebel!

12/22    3 French Hens – TBA

12/23    2 Turtle Doves

My fabulous agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg is offering two lovey-dovey opportunities for a query and first chapter critique!

12/24   And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Pendant Grand Prize!

Art, Barbeque Sauce and Titties

JK-300x168Hee hee hee.

I actually used this as analogy in a guest post for Victoria’s Gossip today, where I’m talking about my inspiration for Five Golden Rings. Seriously.

Also, Season of Seduction, the erotic holiday anthology that Five Golden Rings is in, is a Fresh Pick over at Fresh Fiction today!

In a strange, yet serendipitous coincidence, I’m also over at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog, talking about my  time as a Ucross Foundation Fellow and Resident, and about writing as an art.

Hey, I’m an eclectic kind of gal…

Why Dropping a Ball Isn’t Such a Bad Thing

001Longtime readers of my blog know that my mom has given me a Christmas ornament every year since I was born. These last few years, we’ve formed a tradition of shopping with my stepsister the day after Thanksgiving. Not big box store mob sale shopping, but at this lovely outdoor mall in Tucson. Our first stop is always Crate & Barrel, where I now get to pick out my own ornament(s).

This year I spotted these sparkly castles – just perfect to remember that this is the year my Twelve Kingdoms books come out. I’m so in love with them.

Once again, however (this make two years in a row – eep!), I’ve decided not to put up a Christmas tree. Jackson, though no longer a kitten, is still wild to tear up any and everything he can. He’s also become keenly interested in climbing.

Uh huh. Exactly.

Also, we’re going on a bit of an odyssey this year. We’ll drive to Tucson for Christmas, then drive up the western slope over several days to Billings, Montana, for my stepson’s wedding on New Year’s Eve. We won’t be home until January 2, at best. Maybe later if the driving weather is bad, since we’ll return down the front range.

(For those who don’t know the Rocky Mountain region, the weather on the western side of the mountains is typically much warmer and drier than on the front range, the eastern side.)002

Though we’ll have a house sitter, that’s still a lot of opportunity for Jackson to wreak havoc. And, by the time we get home, I won’t want to deal with TONS of clean-up. Last year, however, I found I really missed getting out all of my ornaments, revisiting all those Christmas memories. So this year, I plan to do a lot of garlands and suspend the non-breakable ornaments from those.

(I haven’t SEEN Jackson climb walls, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.)

One of my nephews has gotten into juggling lately, so we’re getting him a copy of Robert Silverberg’s Lord Valentine’s Castle. It might be a bit dense for him, but he’s struggling with adolescence and I think the themes of being dispossessed and discovering who you are will speak to him. Plus, juggling!

I recall that book for the way his learning to juggle gave Valentine the keys to handling his problems. It’s been a long time since I read it, so forgive me if I get the details wrong, but I recall the concept that, while keeping the balls in the air is part of the point, dropping one isn’t the end of the world.

I think about this sometimes because I often use juggling as a metaphor for keeping up with everything I’m doing. We all do, really, referring to “dropping the ball.” (Or is that a sports metaphor? Brilliant, really – the metaphor that works for both sportsing types AND theater geeks!) The problem with that is, I get so focused on keeping those balls going, adding in more, concentrating on catching and throwing, that it’s easy to lose the sense of fun.

And yes, juggling is fun.

Also, occasionally dropping a ball is part of the game.

If there wasn’t the possibility of dropping a ball, then juggling wouldn’t be interesting. The real joy, too, is when you get them all flowing.

Like magic.

Why Writers Shouldn’t Tell Readers How to Buy

001I took this picture in a roadside stand in Hatch, New Mexico on our way from Santa Fe to Tucson. My mom needed a new ristra – the name for these bundles of dried chile peppers – and I texted this to see if she liked this variation with the dried corn husk pieces. It ended up being such a cool image, I thought I’d use it here. One of the things I love about living in New Mexico is the variations on what have been traditional Christmas themes for me. I’ll try to keep posting local color holiday photos throughout the month.

Every once in a while, an author will succumb to the temptation to write a post about how readers can help their careers.

If you’ve been around the internet communities of readers and writers, you’ve seen them before. Or heard about them. The latter occurs because word tends to travel among people annoyed by such things. Which a lot of people are.

Now, let me go on record here as saying I’m a big believer in asking for help.

Every one of us needs help at some time or another and it’s usually a big mistake not to ask for it. Pride can get in the way, with people not wanting others to know their weaknesses and need for help. Many of us were also raised with the idea that asking for something from other people is akin to begging and not working for what you want.

Amanda Palmer addresses this idea beautifully in her Ted talk on The Art of Asking. If you haven’t listened to it, I highly recommend you do.

There’s a fine balance in the commerce among human beings between giving and receiving vs. selling and buying. The transactions are the same in essence, yes? In both cases, we exchange something, usually of value. The sticking point is whether we exchange something back again, to compensate the other. Arguably, there is always a “price” on a gift – whether it’s the expectation of gratitude, or later recompense or a trade of some other kind.

Only an anonymous gift is truly free of all strings.

But that’s a side argument because we’re talking about selling and buying. Between writers and readers, there is an expectation that readers will buy our books. (Yes, I’m leaving out fan fiction, free stories, etc. – for a person who earns their living as a writer, selling books is how it happens.) In that sense, we’ve already made the request. I might be standing on the street corner, with my cup full of matches and a stranger gives me a penny for one. Presumably that person wanted the match enough to pay a penny for it, but I asked first. I stood out there and made the proposition.

Just as I do with my stories.

Even with this website, I’m *already* asking. I’m saying, look at my books! Would you like to buy one?
And, miraculously, people do!
Though I’m far from being a freezing, starving little match girl, each time someone buys one of my books feels like a small miracle. It’s a profound experience for me, that people will pay to read my books. I’ve learned that even people who receive my books free in exchange for a review, then go buy it also – which means they give me twice as much as I asked for.
It’s not easy to explain, why the income from my stories feels so much more valuable to me than the monthly salary I receive from my day job. Certainly my day job income is still far greater, so logically I should value it more.
But I don’t.
Because the money people give me to read my stories feels more direct. Like we’ve exchanged a bit of our spirits, too.
Which is what I think Amanda Palmer is getting at – the back and forth.
My husband David, who left 25 years at a state job to become a Doctor of Oriental Medicine has noticed the same thing. The money he receives from patients – still nowhere near what he made at his previous job – feels far more precious to him.
It’s almost sacred.
This is why, I think, that it feels jarring for authors to write up instructions for how this special interaction should occur. Usually the writer in question is angling to get on the bestseller list, so he or she wants the readers to buy the books at specific times or from particular vendors.
To me, this is saying, “This sacred thing happening between us isn’t enough for me – I want you to do more.” It exceeds asking and moves into the realm of demanding.
Maybe that’s not fair.
But that’s why it’s off-putting to me. Often the writer will mention something like “friends and family ask how they can help me, so I’m posting this here.” What they’re saying is, “some people have offered to give me more, so I’m trying to recruit the same from everyone else by asking publicly.”
If your friends and family offer more help, absolutely take them up on it. That’s why they’re your friends and family. We already have multiple levels of giving and receiving with them. That’s why they offer. Have those conversations, within the realm of those personal relationships. I’ll go to lengths for my friends and family. That’s what people do.
Taking that out to the greater world, however? It smacks of greed.
Greed is what cheapens the sacred and makes it tawdry. That’s why it leaves a bad taste in our mouths.
Ask and ye shall receive.
Resist the urge to demand more than that.