Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pirates and Assassins and Booksellers, Oh My!

Does blogging take away from writing? My answer these days is an emphatic YES. Therefore, it’s GOOD NEWS that I’ve neglected these parts… at least, it is for my Work-in-Progress. I am working away each and every day for six to eight hours, and getting more excited about it by the minute. My agent has been very enthusiastic, too. I’m just thrilled to be writing this project and I cannot wait to complete it!

Part of my absence is explained by our one-week trip to SO CAL! Disneyland was magical—as always. Have you ever tried the Disneyland Hotel? It was great to have such easy access to the park (via Monorail), but I can’t say I was treated like a Princess. More like one of her mice. The room was small, but sufficient. If anyone out there is booking a Disney trip, try the Grand Californian instead. There, you have easy access not just to California Adventure, but pretty easy access to the Magic Kingdom, too. Plus, the hotel is brand new, and the rooms seem like they'd be bigger. No matter how sweet she may appear in her polka-dot dress, you just KNOW Minnie is going to knock you down, bash you over your head with her umbrella, and steal your purse.

Still, you can at least try to get a nicer room for your $$$. Another tip---book through AAA.

Diabetes-wise, our son’s blood sugar numbers were HORRIBLE! Later, a friend told me that most likely, his insulin became warm in the LA sun. Sitting within his insulin pump all day, instead of within his pancreas as would be the ideal situation, the insulin simply warmed up and lost potency. That, combined with the excitement (your pancreas and mine can respond to adrenaline surges—our son’s pump, sadly, cannot…) led to super-high numbers. We rarely saw a reading below 200—and many in the 300s. (Your blood sugar and mine normally run between 80-120.)

Pirates of the Caribbean was closed. Bummer! They were re-doing it in anticipation of the new Johnny Depp movie. Does this mean there will be a hologram Johnny Depp in the middle of the ride? If so, I predict two-hour waits next year.

Also, the movie is premiering at Disneyland, right there in New Orleans Square over the water. This made for tough walking through part of the park, as all the New Orleans Square traffic was redirected through Adventureland.

Still, I am addicted to Disney. Meeting Mickey was a grand moment in my life. He did not seem to remember me from last year, but that’s okay. Minnie was nice to me. I did her dishes on the way out the backdoor. No one thanked me, but she let me wish in her wishing well. I wished for better blood sugar numbers.

We did get them, upon returning home. I'm pretty sure the warm insulin was the problem. Our Northern California weather is MUCH BETTER for insulin!

While I was gone, this bizarre thing happened to my fellow California author Barry Eisler.

I guess some indy bookseller (now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE AND ADORE indy booksellers) got all hyper about the fact that Barry, after a reading at the indy store, asked directions to Barnes and Noble, where he was going to sign stock. Apparently Barnes and Noble was in the same shopping area, so Barry didn’t see why it was offensive. But the bookseller became very upset with Barry and threatened to kill his career, a la the hero of Barry’s books, assassin John Rain. The impassioned email exchange is posted on Barry’s blog.

Go over and read it for yourself! It’s VERY Marlon Brando as Don Corleone. After reading it, I was so flipped out I thought I'd turn and find a bloody horse's head next to me!

They actually sell these as pillows, do ya know? Romantic.

(While you're at it, check out Lee Goldberg's thoughts on the matter.)

What do you think? I tried to put myself in both positions. I’ve been both an author signing books, and a bookstore worker (although I only foamed lattes, and not even at an indy. It was at the Colma Barnes and Noble, the town where the dead souls outnumber the living. I was not responsible enough to sell books, 'tho I did once make a latte for Rob Schneider.)

As an author, I don't see a problem with Barry signing stock at another store other than the particular indy that hosted his reading. Hell, Joe Konrath is planning to sign books at 500 stores this summer. I think that for authors who have the time and inclination, it is perfectly within their rights, and I know Joe would say it was within their RESPONSIBILITIES to sign as much stock as possible, anywhere it exists.

However, would I have asked directions to Barnes and Noble from an indy bookseller? Lots of indies are hurting from this type of competition. I don't think I would have made this choice, out of tact. For instance, knowing my favorite indy Book Passage’s history with B&N, I definitely wouldn’t ask THEM for directions unless I wanted to get clonked on the head by the latest John Updike!

(Well, thinking again, I probably WOULD have done something like that. I end up doing crazy, tacky shit all the time without exactly knowing it. It is completely in character for me.)

But seriously. No one at Book Passage would really do that. Nor would they threaten me with career assassination. They’re too damned nice! However, I would not blame them for laughing their heads off at me after I had left.

As a bookseller—was it worth getting so upset? Well, since I worked at a chain bookseller, maybe I can’t answer that. I just foamed lattes and stole espresso shots until my eyeballs fell out.

A more parallel situation was when I worked at high school for a local department store, Henderson’s of Sycamore, before it closed due to competition from the malls. This is somewhat similar to a struggling indy forever dogged by competition from Barnes and Noble. Now, I didn’t own the store. I was just a flunky. But, let’s say I did. Let’s just say a customer had asked me directions to the mall. I would have politely given the directions. Then, after they had left, I would have cried.

Still, that’s not quite the same as what Barry did. He asked not as a customer, but as a… hmm, I guess as a vendor, sort of. How horrid would it be if the representative from Donna Karan had asked me how to get to the mall from Henderson’s? Well, to be honest, it would be annoying. In my head I would say, “Have you heard of a map? A phone book?” However, I certainly wouldn’t threaten the vendor. After all, a fella’s gotta eat.

The fracas does say something about how much B&N and its ilk are hurting indies, though. I sense a lot of pain in that exchange.

Personally, the local B&N sucks. They can never find anything, they are tiny, and they have no café. However, that’s about to change. And it's scary.

Here is what Book Passage says about how B&N are now attempting to horn in on Book Passage’s territory:

Thank You

We have been amazed and touched by the tremendous outpouring of support from our customers regarding the Barnes and Noble dispute. We are extremely grateful for all that you have done and continue to do.

As many of you know, the Corte Madera Town Center has now confirmed that it is leasing the former Marshalls' space to Barnes & Noble for a bookstore that will be almost three times larger than the present Barnes & Noble store. We have no doubt that Barnes & Noble will be trying to target us, just as they have other independent bookstores over the last 20 years.

The issues in this dispute go beyond just us. Independent bookselling is at risk everywhere throughout the country. And in Marin County and throughout the country local citizens have to fight to regain control of their communities from out-of-state landlords and big-box retailers. If you want to get involved, please email We will also have more information about this in the future on this website.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Not While I'm Around

Until his daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetes at aged two, Tom Karlya believed he could fix almost everything for her. Read her diagnosis story here, and how the classic Sweeney Todd song, "Not While I'm Around," took on a new meaning for Tom that fateful day in 1982.

Have your Kleenex handy!

Happy Father's Day to Tom and to all the Diabetes Dads out there, fighting the good fight each and everyday.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A House Divided Cannot Help But Be a Terrific Read

Hello, bloglings! Today we have another wonderful author interview with the lovely Deborah LeBlanc, author of the brand new novel, A House Divided. This one looks like a page-turner, and I can't wait to read it!

Having grown up in an old (Civil War era) house, this book plays into my deepest fears. Oh, my gosh. Just reading the summary gave me the chills! Clearly Deborah LeBlanc has a devilish imagination and a talent for drawing the most suspenseful scenarios imaginable. Go, Deborah!


Deborah LeBlanc was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, the oldest of three children. She grew up in Scott, a small town west of Lafayette, where she developed her earliest aspiration in life; to read every book in the town library. Her first short story was written in the second grade, a tale about a misfit mermaid who grew legs. Admonished for writing the story instead of doing an assigned arithmetic lesson, Deborah's teacher confiscated the pages, and as recompense for not following instructions, gave her an additional math lesson to complete. At the end of the school day, the teacher pulled Deborah aside. Fearing that she might be forced to do additional math, Deborah listened in amazement as the teacher told her she'd read the mermaid story, thought she was a wonderful storyteller, and encouraged her to continue writing. Though the pages of that story were never returned, Deborah has been writing ever since. And she still hates math.

After her school stints, Deborah married young to her childhood sweetheart. They chose to keep south-central Louisiana their home, wanting to surround their three daughters with the wonderful people and traditions so unique to their Cajun heritage.

Always drawn to a challenge, Deborah's work career revolved around male dominated industries. She served as a sales representative for an oil company, an executive vice-president for a transportation company, and eventually created two corporations of her own. One involving fuel, the other management consultation for funeral service.

Through the years, Deborah maintained an insatiable appetite for reading and writing. She is an active member of several writers groups and has won numerous awards from her colleagues and national writing associations.

Keith Lafleur thinks he's cut the deal of a lifetime. The huge old, two-story house is his for the taking as long as he can move it to a new location. It's too big to move as is, but Lafleur's solution is simple: cut it in half. He has no idea, though, that by splitting the house he'll be dividing a family, a family long dead, a family that still exists in the house . . .

Angelica Batiste is a young, mentally challenged woman with a unique gift. Her mind, no more advanced than a ten-year-old child's, sees things before they happen. Not only does she see them, she draws them with extraordinary perfection.

When Angelica moves into part of an old, two-story house with her cousin and a friend, her gift suddenly turns into a terrifying power she can not control. The house feeds it. The house needs it. And only death can make it stop.

Publishers Weekly
A House Divided Review
June 2006
"A series of haunting events--including bumps in the night, hundreds of dead birds on the lawn and a yard-spanning spider web… her emphasis on characters and their relationships make this an affecting spook story." (June)

Barnes and Noble.Com - Ransom Notes
A House Divided Review
June 2006
"Equal parts Edgar Allan Poe, Anne Rice and Stephen King - with a generous helping of jambalaya and crawfish pie - Louisiana born and bred horror maven Deborah LeBlanc's newest novel is a supernatural thriller… With just three novels under her belt (Family Inheritance, Grave Intent and A House Divided), LeBlanc has already amassed a huge cult following. Gruesome, creepy and chock full of jaw-dropping plot twists, LeBlanc's newest is, above all else, wildly entertaining." -Paul Goat Allen

Saranna & Spade
JS: Right off the bat LeBlanc feeds the storyline to you with a subtlety that makes the suffering palatable. Even desirable, as each new victim fuels your adrenaline, which keeps the hunger for more, twisting your stomach until the very end. I found LeBlanc's characters to be just as authentic as the Gumbo and Gator Bites that made the area a culinary capital. It did make me … empathize with a recovering community of survivors who find themselves again rocked by forces beyond their control. This book, although frightening, is all about family. It draws you in to feel like a distant relative…and it affects you long after you close the last page. Leblanc wields fear with the precision of a black knight. And, to tell you the truth, I went and kissed my sleeping kids after I finished reading A HOUSE DIVIDED.

SD: That opening chapter, it was hard-hitting and powerful. I felt such despair with every word. Ms. LeBlanc has a unique voice that pulled us right down into her world. The plot is paced well and there is always something happening, something to grab hold of your imagination and tingle your spine. I was very impressed with the characterization… genuine and real right from the beginning. She did an excellent job of helping the reader make that connection to these characters on a personal level. I agree with you that it was an excellent read. It was pedal to the metal from page one, and the author did a fantastic job maintaining a very real sense of foreboding with tension thick enough to cut with a knife. I do recommend it…

--Louisiana Libraries Magazine

"LeBlanc's prose is a flying leap into the labyrinth of madness. Her images are unforgettable."

--Publishers Weekly


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how
the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

The story for AHD came to me while visiting with a friend who claimed to have lived in a haunted house, not too far from my own home, when he was a kid. Always fascinated with a good ghost story, I was even more thrilled knowing the house was nearby. He took me to see it, and while visiting the small, abandoned home, I found out the structure was only half of a larger home.

As the story goes, an oil company, who purchased the property the home was originally built upon years ago, offered a local contractor the house. All he had to do to own it free and clear was move the house off the property. The contractor, knowing he would not be able to get the rent he needed for such a large house, decided to cut the house in half, move it to residential lots in another town, remodel the halves, then rent each structure separately. He accomplished his goal, for both halves were rented the moment the remodeling was completed. However, strange things began to happen to the families who moved into each structure. According to my friend, cabinet doors opened and closed on their own, utensil drawers flew open, lights in the kitchen turned on and off, the sound of children and a woman crying late at night. Chairs rocking on their own.

I didn't see or feel anything in the abandoned home of my friend and took his accountings of the paranormal events with a grain of salt. Still curious, however, I searched out the other half of the home, found it across town, and had the opportunity to speak to the single mother who lived there with her three children. When I told her why I was there, she actually seemed relieved and invited me inside. For over an hour, she recounted all the weird things that had been happening in the house since she'd moved in a year ago. Many of those events mirrored the ones my friend had told me about.

Although I didn't experience any phenomenon in either half of the house first hand, the stories generated enough fuel to set my imagination in motion, which eventually led to my latest novel.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Yes. Read, read, read--write, write, write--and never give up!

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?
A writing day for me begins at 5:30 a.m. with a huge mug of coffee. I normally give myself about a half hour to wake up, shower, and throw on a pair of jeans and t-shirt before hitting the office. Once there, and with a second mug of coffee at the ready, I go over the last two chapters I’ve written so I can get back into the flow of the story. Then I start pounding away at the keyboard. Aside from bathroom breaks and an occasional coffee refill or bottle of water and a sandwich, I steadily type away until 3 or so in the afternoon. By that time, every creative brain cell in my head feels like it’s turned to oatmeal. I print what I’ve written, add it to the growing stack on the corner of my desk, then tackle emails that have accumulated during the day. Around 6, I come up for air and head for the kitchen and dinner. If I’m lucky, the book will leave me alone long enough to have a decent meal, spend a little time with my family, then get a good night’s sleep. If it doesn’t, I’m usually back at the keyboard around 9 to work for a couple more hours.

The only thing that keeps me organized is my day planner and a to-do list. Without both, I'd be running in circles every day!

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing?
Holding that new book you've written for the first time.
The most frustrating? Rewriting and dealing with the business end of publishing.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not,
what else is in the works?
I don't think there will be a sequel to A HOUSE DIVIDED. Right now, I'm putting the finishing touches on a book that will be released in June of '07. It's called MORBID CURIOSITY, and it's about twin sixteen-year-old girls, who, wanting to be popular and wealthy, get involved in chaos magic and sigils. Little do they know that the biggest thing they'll be wishing for--is their lives.

Thank you so much, Deborah! You can read an excerpt of this suspenseful novel here, at Deborah's site.

And then you may buy a copy of A House Divided from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or get your very own AUTOGRAPHED copy from Shocklines.

Read this one with the lights on!

Monday, June 12, 2006

It's OUT and British Posters

Hi all,
Blogger ATE my last attempt at posting this, so I'm going to type fast and cross my fingers!

A friend told me that the paperback version of The Bitch Posse is OUT NOW! She saw it at the front tables in Borders. Even though the release date isn't until tomorrow, I guess I can say the book is officially published. WHEE! Last year at this time, when the hardback came out, I was flipping out and driving myself and those around me completely bonkers. This year I'm a bit more easygoing... for many reasons. *winky thing* I hope you will go take a look at your local store if you get the chance. The paperback has a very cool double cover~if you look to your right, you'll see it. You can open up the white part and the background image is complete behind it. Everyone at St. Martin's has done such a great job!

One of the things that's been keeping me occupied this time around is the end-of-the-year kids stuff. (see Dreamcatchers entry, below!) Finally that job is complete (except sweeping bay leaves, bugs and so on off my bedroom floor). Now, it's onto a book proposal for my new book. I am enjoying this type of writing! It's really different from narrative writing, but it comes quite easily to me. However, I am pounding away at it, hoping to complete it before the 3rd grade campout and Disneyland. :o)

Speaking of magical things, check out these posters from my UK publisher!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

These are to promote the British paperback throughout the British Isles. They distributed over 200 posters like this throughout the country and now they are appearing at bus stations, train stops, and streets throughout the UK. I am not sure where the first and last of these are located, but if you squint you can see the middle one is in Edinburgh, of all places. As in, SCOTLAND. Where they wear KILTS and stuff and play bagpipes and whatnot. Ohmigosh! Orion, my British publishers, have really done an amazing job with this and I couldn't be happier.

Speaking of the bizarre, I'm having an ISSUE with some of my beauty products. It's very strange, but proves to me that alcoholism is a true allergy. Any beauty product which contains alcohol--doesn't matter what kind--sets off ginormous cravings in me. And I have a few facial toners and things like that which, if I use them, absolutely drive me insane, and make me think of drinking again.

I know I'm not unusual in this. People with addictions should stay away from any addictive substance. I know someone who 'slipped' on their pet's painkillers. Don't laugh--addiction is deadly serious.

I read in Stephen King's memoir, On Writing, that someone accused him of drinking the hairspray. "No," he said, "I didn't drink the hairspray. I drank the Scope, it tasted much better."

Isn't it scary that I can relate to those things? These items never bothered me before since I always had plenty of alcohol around the house, but now that it's gone... the truth about what these substances contain is painfully clear to me.

I have put my offending beauty items all in the trash and am going to replace them with witch hazel based products instead. Those don't bother me at all. I'm just glad that I have learned something and that those products didn't cause a slip of any kind. WHEW!

Speaking of the topic, I am celebrating a big recovery birthday on Wednesday. ***GGG*** My life could not be better. So, in honor of that, I will close with a quote.

"For those still to come, you cannot believe the view from here - wow!"

Friday, June 09, 2006

Happy Happy Bay Branches

Ohmygosh, words will not be able to describe how happy I am today! Four lovely things have happened recently--I am putting them in chronological order because they ALL make me happy!

First of all, my DSL came back a couple of days ago and I finally have a decent internet again! How on earth did we survive without DSL? I am able to research topics and waste time so much more efficiently now! BONUS: WE HAVE KILLED EARTHLINK. Huzzah!!! We went with a local ISP that does their tech support out of SANTA ROSA. Can't get much more local than that. AND, the phone rings twice and someone comes on to help you. OHMYGOSH. *swoon* They are called Sonic and to anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area--I highly recommend them. I really think if you can swing it, a local ISP is the way to go. Let's boycott Earthlink, AOL, and all the other shoddy Internet providers. I'm sick of corporate Internet! Die, Corporate Internet, DIE!

Second, I was the featured speaker at my recovery group meeting the other day. It went really, really well. I have never spoken at one of these meetings before (at least, not as the "Speaker") and I was scared, but as they say--maybe you are shaking so hard just to shake your whole true story right out of you! Honesty is so important, isn't it? And the first honesty is being honest with yourself. I think this is true not just of recovery, but life.

Third of all, MY AGENT LIKES MY NEW BOOK! She likes it a lot, actually. *Cue music for me jumping around the room like a dork!* The one thing though, since it is a nonfiction, I need to write a proposal. *Whew* I just started working on it, and it reminds me of school. It's not a type of writing I normally do! But in a way it will be a lot of fun to look over the 'complementary' titles. Any excuse to go book shopping, eh!

Oh, and the BAY BRANCHES thing. Yes, somehow I got roped into leading a "Dreamcatchers" workshop at the 3rd grade campout next week. All would be well and good except for the fact that the workshop leader needs to HAND-MAKE the hoops for the dreamcatchers out of bay branches. Even that is ALL WELL AND GOOD, except the workshop leader also has to go up to the ridge of Mt. Tamalpais and HARVEST the bay branches (for 88 hoops). That, too would be ALL WELL AND GOOD, except that the esteemed Brownie leader who tipped off the workshop leader as to where the good bay branches could be found... had, of course, harvested 150 bay branches already for the Brownie campout a month ago! Imagine me hanging out over cliffs, taking my life into my hands, in the search of bay branches! While I did not tumble into the canyon and die, I did fall on my butt right into a patch of poison oak. However, since I was wearing clothes at the time, I didn't come down with it... YESSSSS. So THAT was good, and here is the BEST PART OF ALL! I got to sit out with my adorable daughter and together we bent about 35 of the 88 bay hoops. It was really some great mother-daughter time. LOVED IT. It makes the whole thing worthwhile. She is a great help too!

That said, it's back to my proposal!

XO, Martha :o)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Once Upon Stilettos!

Hello, dear readers, and please welcome the lovely Shanna Swendson to the blog! Shanna is the author of the successful novel, ENCHANTED INC, and now she has a new book out! I hope everyone will be patient with my formatting, as I’m still on this funky dialup connection and can’t edit properly!

First, take a look at this adorable cover!

Click your heels three times and say,
“There’s no place like Bloomies!”
Katie Chandler’s life is pure magic¬~literally. As an executive assistant at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., she’s seen more than her share of fantastical occurrences. A mere Manhattan mortal, Katie is no wizard, but she’s a wiz at exposing “hokum” pocus, cloaked lies, and deceptive enchantments. And she’s fallen under the all-too-human spell of attraction to Owen, a hunky wizard and coworker. Owen, however, is preoccupied. Someone has broken into his office and disrupted top-secret files, and it reeks of an inside job. CEO Merlin (yes, the Merlin) and taps Katie and her special ability to uncover the magical mole.
Keeping her feelings in check while sleuthing alongside Owen, Katie is shocked to discover that her immunity to magic is waning, putting her in grave danger. Soon she’s surrendering to the charms and enchantments of everyone and everything around her, including a killer pair of red stilettos. Katie must now conjure up her natural instincts to get to the bottom of the break-in, regain her power, and win the wizard of her dreams.

"Once Upon Stilettos is not to be missed if you're in the mood for a fast and funny read where chicklit meets urban fantasy." -- Mary Jo Putney, author of A Kiss of Fate
"A princely wizard, Cinderella red stilettos, and a megalomaniac--what more could a girl ask for? ONCE UPON STILETTOS is a delightful urban fairytale with a dreamy hero and a country-wise Texas heroine who use their magical and non-magical charms to seek justice and unmask the villain. Just a few weeks in the life of a simple single girl..." -- bestselling author Patricia Rice

Once upon a time ...
A little girl learned to amuse herself by making up stories in her head. She turned everyday activities into exciting adventures, and she made up new adventures for characters from her favorite movies, TV shows and books. Then one day she realized that if she wrote down those stories, she'd have a book! But that was crazy, she thought. Real people don't become novelists. That was like deciding you were going to be a movie star. You couldn't just go and do it.
But, it turns out, you can, and she did. She realized her dream of becoming a novelist and seeing her stories in bookstores.
And then she started to wig herself out by writing about herself in the third-person.
This is her story.
The Novelist's Journey
As I said above in that bit of silliness, I've always been a writer at heart. My favorite way to play was to create stories and act them out with my Fisher-Price people, my Barbie dolls or myself and a box of play clothes. If none of those things were available, I could just sit and make up stories in my head. I occasionally got into trouble for being a little too creative, such as the time when I embellished a bit on my kindergarten experiences (where's the dramatic hook in coloring, cutting out and pasting?).
When I was in seventh grade and a bit old for Fisher-Price people, Barbie dolls or the dress-up box, I started writing these stories down in spiral notebooks. Later, I found an old manual typewriter, taught myself to type, then wrote a lot of first chapters of novels on it. I still hadn't figured out how to actually be a working novelist who gets paid for writing (finishing a book instead of writing a lot of first chapters might have been a good start), so when it came time to go to college, I went to journalism school at the University of Texas. While getting my degree in broadcast news, I managed to structure a curriculum that might also help me in my real career plans. I took fencing (which I thought would be useful for writing fantasy novels), an astronomy course on the search for extraterrestrial life (in case I wanted to write science fiction), psychology, interpersonal communication, and parageography (the geography of imaginary lands).
I got serious about pursuing my novel-writing ambitions soon after I got my first job in public relations (TV reporting, it turns out, would have taken away from my writing time) when I started joining local writing organizations and reading books on how to write a novel. Then I took the big step of registering for a writing conference. With the registration fee, you could enter two manuscripts in a contest that went with the conference. I figured if I was paying that much money, I'd get the most out of it, so I wrote two entries. At the conference, I met a real, live editor, who encouraged me to submit, and one of my entries won the science fiction/fantasy category of the contest. I hurried to finish the novel the editor had asked for, then mailed a proposal.
She ended up rejecting the book, but encouraged me to keep trying. I ended up selling that novel elsewhere, then sold two more books to that publisher before I had another idea for that original editor. That book ended up selling, and then one more.
And then I hit the wall. Due to a number of circumstances, some of which weren't my fault and some of which were, I didn't sell anything else for eight years. But then I had the idea that became Enchanted, Inc., I wrote it, sold it, and here I am.
Other Life Stuff
I think I need to get a few more hobbies or something else going on in my life that isn't related to reading or writing because currently my bio in my books is shorter than the "about the typeface" section. Yes, a typeface has a more interesting life than I do.
When I'm not writing, I'm most often reading. Otherwise, I enjoy watching science fiction TV shows and then discussing them on the Internet, working crossword puzzles, baking, singing in the church choir, and, when I have the time and money, traveling.
I haven't yet found my prince charming, and I live with a collection of predatory houseplants, including a trained attack bougainvillea, the hibiscus that shares my office, and a Christmas cactus that's stuck with me through four jobs, three homes, and several boyfriends and men who didn't quite make it to boyfriend status.

> MO'C: How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how
> the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.
I got the initial idea for this book while I was writing the first book in
the series. I knew I'd be writing a sequel (if the first book sold), but I
didn't know what it would be about. Then in the fourth chapter of the first
book, a character makes an offhand remark about something that might happen.
As soon as I wrote it, I got shivers and knew it was something that would
have to happen, and that gave me the plot for the sequel.

Meanwhile, there was this pair of red shoes I saw at Nordstrom that caught
my eye. I'm a shoe fiend, but am usually pretty practical about it (which is
why I have dozens of pairs of black shoes that go with everything). These
had an incredible draw on me, even though I wasn't sure what I'd wear them
with or where I'd wear them. At the time, the first book in the series was
with an agent who was considering it, and I told the friend I was shopping
with that if the book sold, I'd buy the shoes. The day I got an offer on the
book and the still unwritten sequel, we went to the mall to buy those shoes,
and I got the last pair in my size. On the way home, I told my friend,
"They're magic shoes," and then I got the shivers again. That gave me a
motif for the book, as well as an opening line, and then the story just
clicked into place for me.

> MO'C: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
You can't let yourself get discouraged. If you do get discouraged enough to
be willing to quit, then maybe you're not cut out for this business. The
people who succeed are the ones who keep trying, keep learning and keep
growing as a writer -- and who can't bring themselves to quit trying, no
matter how many rejections they pile up.

> MO'C: What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?
My writing day tends to consist of about six hours of goofing off, checking
e-mail, surfing the net, blogging, reading blogs, etc., followed by about
three hours of intense writing. I think my subconscious has to play around a
bit before it's ready to cough up the story for me. I used to feel guilty
about all the time I feel like I'm wasting, but then I realized it was just
the way I happen to work, and I might as well go with it.

I am the LAST person anyone should ask about getting organized. My house
looks like a war zone! I guess I am organized in a way about my writing. I
keep all my notes and jottings about a book in a spiral notebook, so it's
all there and handy for reference, and I keep a calendar for charting events
in the book so I don't lose track of time.

> MO'C: What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most
> frustrating?
The most exciting thing for me is hearing from readers who love my books.
That never gets old, and I still squeal a little each time an e-mail from a
reader pops up in my in-box.

The most frustrating thing for me about publishing is that it doesn't seem
to follow any of the established rules of business that work in the rest of
the world. I used to do corporate public relations and marketing for huge,
multinational firms, and it seems like the publishing world does exactly the
opposite of everything I learned in the corporate world. When everything is
going smoothly in publishing terms, it feels to me like failure, and I'm
having to re-learn what I think of as normal before I go nuts.

> MO'C: Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not,
> what else is in the works?
I've already written the follow-up to this book, and I'm about to get to
work on the fourth book in this series.

Now for three questions of my own (that's really hard to think of, and I
resisted the urge to ask myself if it's a burden being so beautiful and
talented) ...

How do you research your books, or do you just make everything up?

I research the "real world" parts and make up the magical parts. I've read a
lot of books on the business world, workplace dynamics, dealing with
difficult co-workers, women in the workplace, and that kind of thing. I also
try to visit New York before I write each book to do location research. That
sparks a lot of ideas.

My magical system in the books is entirely made-up and doesn't rely on any
established mythology or belief system. I have done some reading on mythical
creatures, and I take ideas from there that fit what I want in my stories,
and I like to draw names from Welsh mythology, but nothing I write is
mapping directly to any particular legend.

Are there any particular challenges to marketing a cross-genre book?

I think there are definite advantages and disadvantages to marketing a book
that straddles genres like mine does. On the plus side, there's a broader
market to target and more people who might be interested in reading the
book. My books are fantasy/chick lit, and while you don't get a lot of male
readers for chick lit, guys are open to reading fantasy, so I probably have
more male readers than most chick lit authors. On the down side, that means
you have to spread your promotional efforts over a broader range of
audiences, which may mean a lesser impact everywhere. To hit all of my
target audiences, I have to try to reach chick lit readers, fantasy readers,
paranormal romance fans and young adult readers.

Then there's the shelving dilemma. Most bookstores don't seem open to
shelving in two different areas, so they have to pick one. If my books are
shelved in fantasy, the chick lit readers might not ever find them. Shelved
in general fiction, fantasy readers have trouble finding them.

What do you do when you're not writing?

That's something I'm working on! I knew I was in trouble when the "about the
typeface" paragraph in the back of my book was longer than my author bio. It
seems like I've managed to turn just about everything I do for fun into
something that relates to my work. While it's great to be able to make a
living doing the stuff I do for fun, it now means that my life really
revolves around my work. I have a goal of finding a new hobby that has
nothing to do with my work and that will get me out of the house. But then
it will probably inspire a book and go on to become part of my "work."

Thank you so much, Shanna! Doesn’t this book sound DELICIOUS? You may buy it at Amazon, or your local indy bookseller. There are other places you can buy her book too—check out your local store!

Friday, June 02, 2006


Hello lovely blog readers,
Thank you for your patience in this fantastic interview with Alison Pace, author of the new novel PUG HILL! Alison’s website is here.

Cute cover huh?

By the way, I hope my readers, and Alison, will forgive any funky formatting today. Alison and most of you guys know that I am on dialup (that’s thanks to Earthlink… bad, bad Earthlink… *cue Psycho shower scene music*) and just posting one entry takes forever… let alone the continual blog editing I tend to do! Take it away, Ms. Pace!


Alison Pace is the author of the novels If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend and Pug Hill, and is a contributing editor at The Bark magazine.

While she doesn't actually own a pug, she has had twelve dogs over her lifetime, including: a St. Bernard, an English mastiff, a Scottish terrier, a Corgi, and three Chinese shar-peis. She lives in New York City where she is at work on her next book.


To get into the most elite spot of Manhattan’s Central Park, there are
a few stiff requirements: you must have short legs, a round tummy, a
pig nose, and walk on all fours—or at least know someone who does! Pug
Hill is a place for pugs and pug-lovers alike to bask in the
camaraderie that comes from owning (or dreaming of owning) one of the
world’s most cherished and irresistible dogs.

Author Alison Pace has been to Pug Hill and she knows first-hand the
joy and stress-relief that these tiny pooches offer. Now, the author
of the hilarious If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend introduces readers to
the congregants of Pug Hill in a novel that’s as full of love, humor,
and heartwarmingly-awkward moments as the adorable dogs themselves—PUG
HILL (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; $14.00; May 2, 2006).

A remarkably sweet and affecting tale of inner growth. --Kirkus

Pug Hill is all at once touching, witty, and so very smart. I love
this nervous and self-deprecating narrator who makes low self-esteem
not only funny and endearing but enviable. There’s a terrific comedic
eye at work here and a tender heart—a most satisfying combination.
- Elinor Lipman, author of The Inn At Lake Devine and My Latest

Alison Pace isn't afraid to tackle serious subjects, even as she
delivers a wry and witty portrait of a woman growing up and growing
into herself at long last. The aptly named Hope has such charm and
self-deprecating humor, I felt that she could be a friend of mine.
- Joshilyn Jackson, author of gods in Alabama

To paraphrase Woody Allen, love is too weak a word to describe how I
feel about this novel. I lurve it. I loove it!
- Melissa Senate, author of See Jane Date and The Breakup Club

A delightful romp! Alison Pace's dry and breezy wit make this a
delightful, funny read for pugs and humans alike. If Bridget Jones kept
a must-read book list in her diary, Pug Hill would most certainly be
at the top.
-Wilson the Pug with Nancy Levine, authors of The Tao of Pug


MO'C: How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how
the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.
AP: I knew I wanted to write about someone whose life had been
greatly affected by dogs and who was going to spend a fair amount of
time reflecting on them. The present-day part of the story, the
public speaking class, started as a glimmer when my first novel came
out and I was contemplating my own unease with public speaking as I
got ready to give readings.

MO'C: Comedy is often the most difficult literary tool to use well.
What are some tips that you might have for authors? What's the source
of your own humor?
AP: I think with comedy, there is a part to it, that you are either
funny or you're not. And not funny is fine, there's lots of other
things to be good at. I think though what's most important is to not
try to be funny. I wish it did, but it doesn't work. I think my best
advice is just to be yourself as a writer and see what happens from

MO'C: What's the best dog for a stay-at-home writer to have?
AP: I think a stay-at-home writer is a great job to have a dog
because you can be with your dog a lot, and I think that means so much
to your dog. A pug of course would be great. The only problem I
could see would maybe be an overly enthusiastic fetcher, like a lab?
It might be hard to type and constantly throw a tennis ball. Though
it seems to have all worked out for John Grogan, though. So, any dog,
great for a writer.

MO'C: Can you comment a bit on the human/animal bond and how it
inspired your work?
AP: I think it's such an important one. I've always had such a
kinship and love with my dogs. I think dogs can teach us a lot about
the world, and, as odd as it may sound, about being good people. That
idea inspired me a lot as I was writing a character who couldn't
really deal with her life and looked up to dogs in a way.

MO'C: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
AP: Just keep writing, write as much as you can, and make sure you
really love it, because, unfortunately for all of us, it doesn't get
any easier.

MO'C: What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting
AP: Oh, I think it's just a matter of trying to calm down enough and
disconnect from the internet and the world enough to spend some time
each day working in the world you are trying to create. Since I work
in my home, it's important for me to get out a bit in the morning,
whether it's to a yoga class or to the post office, just so I can
leave the home, and return to the workplace, That separation is
something I've found to be quite helpful.

MO'C: What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most
AP: Most exciting is holding the finished book in your hands for the
first time. Most frustrating is, for me, being a control freak and
realizing how much control must be relinquished along the way. That's
not to say I don't work with the most amazing people in publishing,
because I think I do, it's just hard to let go.

MO'C: Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not,
what else is in the works?
AP: I don't plan on writing a sequel to Pug Hill, no. I think Hope,
the main character, really got to where she needed to go, and that's
the fun part for me. I'm not sure I would really know how to write a
book about someone who has already found her happy ending. My
favorite part is getting them there. I've started a new story. It's
called Through Thick And Thin, about two sisters who have grown apart
and try to find a common bind through dieting. And if you might be
wondering, yes, there's a big role for a dog in it.

Buy Alison’s book here. You can also buy it at other places, especially your local indy but you know what? It takes too freaking long to make all these links on dialup!

Thank you so much, Alison!