Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer 2012 movies

It's labour day weekend and the summer movie season is officially over. So it's time to review how the season went.

Favourite summer movie - this was surprisingly tough, and ultimately a three way toss up between the Avengers, The Hunger Games and the Dark Knight, but in the end I really loved the darkness and depth of the Dark Knight, even though Avengers was definitely more fun.

Summer movie I wish I'd seen - Moonrise Kingdom, which by all accounts is charming and sweet and I still have time, so it's next on my list.

Biggest disappointment - I still loved it, but Prometheus. Given my love for the Alien movies, I wish the plot in this one had held together more, but that said, the acting and the atmosphere and the tension in the first half, they were all amazing, it just needed a better screenplay.

Biggest Surprise - Battleship - I'd read the terrible, terrible reviews going in, so my expectations were non-existent, and I had a really great time. Sure there were moments of dialogue that were downright awful and the blond love interest had the charisma of a wet blanket, but it was fun, and lighthearted and I left the movie in a great mood.

Movie I'm most looking forward to in the Fall - Les Miserables - seriously, if you haven't seen the trailer, look it up - it gave me goosebumps.

there are movies I missed, and I wish I'd gotten out to see more, but these are the ones that are top of mind. What was your favourite movie? Least favourite.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Marketing or Cheating

So the new big kerfuffle in publishing is authors paying people to review their books. See the NYT article below. (I think I did this link correctly.)

While the article targets self-published authors I’m sure there could be any number of traditionally published authors that might take this route as well. Although again the difference between the two is that it’s much harder for people to find self-published work than traditionally published work – so the need to have more reviews is greater for them.
What’s so painful about it, is that it works. Books with more reviews fall into some kind of Amazon mathematic formula that gets them listed and shown in certain places which leads to more copies being sold. Same with Goodreads. If you get enough reviews you’re going to fall into an algorithm that gets you recommended to more readers. The more people who see your book the more potential you have to make money.

As I’ve noted in previous blogs my self-publishing effort has been abysmal for that very reason. Very few people know that book is out there. Now I did get some nice reviews from Net Galley and of course my very good friends here gave their best effort, but to little avail.

So the question is if you are a writer, and the most effective means you have of selling your books is by gaining more than say 100 reviews, is it worth it to pay someone to positively review your book?

And is it unethical or just the next new marketing strategy?

For me I’m embarrassed to ask my friends to write reviews for me. Molly, Sinead and Maureen – can verify I did not ask them to review my book on Amazon – they simply did it because they know and like me. But sure asking friends or family to read your books and write reviews is totally fine.

However, the thought of paying someone to say they loved my work is so crazy to me, that I can’t get my mind around it. Especially when so many of the reviewers cashing in from this new craze in many cases never read the book.

But at the same time I don’t know that I can cry foul. I don't have a lot of reviews and my book didn’t sell to more than 200 people. Maybe if I were less proud and more business savvy I could make more money, find more readers.

I think the problem with this kind of thing is that it again leads to the new battle brewing between the traditionally published and self-published. Many traditionally published authors will point their fingers and say you never got picked. An agent didn’t want to represent the work, a publisher didn’t want to publish it – so you bypassed the whole system and did it yourself. Now add to that – you’re paying people to tell other people it’s good so you can sell more copies.

As a self-published author I can assure readers I would never corrupt something as important as reviews because it’s just not how I roll. And I guess I would urge people not to pursue this practice because I do think ultimately it diminishes the industry as a whole. Just like the lack of editing does. Readers are smart. If they read that 100 people gave a book 5 stars and the book is really garbage they’ll understand what took place and a certain amount of trust will be lost.

But boy… there sure are people out there a lot smarter than I am because what they did sounds like it’s working.

NYT Article.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

So, I saw my Kirkus Review for Deviants yesterday. And it wasn't terrible. In fact my publisher seems to be very excited about it.

Kirkus has a reputation for some pretty scathing and cruel reviews. Their own slogan is: "The World's Toughest Book Critics Since 1933." So that said, I am pretty pleased.

I'm not supposed to post the review anywhere yet (although, hint, it is actually on my book's page on Amazon).

Is the review glowing? No... but it's not bad and frankly I am just so relieved that they reviewed the book at all and that they didn't completely tear it apart.

And of course, I started looking up tons of other authors' reviews on Kirkus to compare them to mine. That's just human nature, right? Or am I psychotic?

This release business is starting to stress me out... On that topic... Did everyone see Nathan Bransford's very funny sequence of gifs on the publishing process this week?

Check it out.

I have a lot of favorites, but I think the Mr. Spock gif for how most of us feel when we reach page 75 (or 100, or 150) is particularly apropos. And clearly I related to the surprise attack review one too. :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Getting Out of My Own Head

I don't mean going out of my mind. I mean getting out of the self-defeatist litany that seems to keep repeating itself in an insidious little whisper over and over these days. My life is a little bit in flux right now. My youngest child is leaving for college in a few short weeks. I'm in the process of finishing up two book contracts, at which point I'll have to decide what to write next (which is a whole 'nother blog post, trust me). I changed day jobs. Nothing is the way it was a few short months ago and I feel completely at sea.

For some reason, I am only able to see the negatives right now. I'm old. I'm fat. I'm a slow runner. I'm not a New York Times Bestselling Author. I don't make enough money. My house is disorganized and messy.

Then today, this young woman I work with at my day job described me to someone else and it took everything bad I was thinking about myself and spun it 180 degrees. I'm all focused on the fact that I can't get below an 11 minute mile. She was all focused on the fact that I'm training for a marathon. I'm all focused on how I have to have a day job and write to support my family. She was all focused on how I manage to both have a day job and write books. I'm focused on being old and fat. She thinks I look great for my age.

She hasn't seen the inside of the house. Even she wouldn't be able to spin that.

Anyway, it made me think about why I'm always looking for the ways that I'm failing instead of the ways that I'm succeeding. I suppose realizing it is the first step, but I'm not quite sure how to shake it or keep it from paralyzing me as it does from time to time.

Any suggestions?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Social media

Has anyone else read the crap storm that Emily Giffin and her husband managed to create by responding to a bad amazon review. I read about this on Dear Author, and apparently Giffin's husband responded to the review by calling the reviewer psycho.

Dear author posted the review, which is measured and fair and perfectly reasonable from a self-professed fan of Giffin's work.

And Dear Author is coming down on Giffin and her husband and rightly so, but my first reaction was where were her friends. Bad reviews suck, and it's why we have writer friends to whine to, to reassure us how great we are and to talk us down from the ledge.

I'm starting to believe there's too much information out there, too much access to reviews, amazon rankings, twitter diatribes and about a thousand review sites.

I read two review sites, and I trust them when they tell me a book is good. Other than that, I'll check Goodreads when I've heard some buzz about a book. but I honestly think, for authors out there, the amount of opinions can be really distracting and worse, possibly confidence destroying.

Unless you're a person who can read a bad review, or negative comment and not let it affect you,(which would exclude most writers I know) I would recommend not reading them at all. Avoid Amazon, Good reads, at least when it comes to your own books. Do you need extra voices in your head as you're writing? Do you need a thousand opinions of what a great character is, or does, or who prefers their heroines to be sweet, or rebellious?

It takes a pretty clinical person to step back and go is this helping or hurting my writing? But it's necessary and anything that hurts, cut it out, or at least back to a minimal amount. And to reiterate Stephanie's point from yesterday. Do not engage.

No matter how unfair, or ugly, the review.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Editing... you gotta do it.

There was a pretty interesting article on Dear Author the other day regarding Objectivity vs. Subjectivity when talking about writing. In the wake of the self-publishing bonanza what a lot of readers are finding is that while they may actually enjoy the story, they are somewhat frustrated by the over abundance of grammatical errors.

Apparently there is also backlash from some authors who get upset when these errors are pointed out. They feel pointing out the errors is picky on the part of the reader and their work should be judged based on the overall story and not on the “rules” which let’s face it can be debatable.

SIDENOTE: Authors should never respond to criticism publicly. Period. The end. I don’t care if you think you need to or you think you are justified. If you are a professional – just don’t do it. Ever. That’s what friends, husbands and in my case pets are for!

Now back to editing… My view on this is pretty hard line. Mistakes will happen. Many people can read a manuscript and all miss the typo or incorrect word choice because our brain will naturally correct things within context. But to not edit a book at all - which I was actually stunned to read that several self-published authors admitted they didn’t because of the cost and other reasons – in my opinion is not “publishing”.

All you did was write and sell. And you broke faith with the reader who you told this was a “published” book that you felt was worthy enough for payment.

My books at Harlequin are screened no less than 5 times! My self-published work was screened 3 times. (That’s not including all the times I did it myself.) And yes, Got Game is probably less clean than my Harlequin titles as a result.

So to not have someone besides the author edit it AT ALL to me is nearly criminal and those books should be sold with the disclaimer – “This book was not edited by an independent party.”

Yes, it costs money to hire someone. And the reason a “professional” author should be willing to pay that person is because what the editor does is not simple or easy. Yes it takes more time to edit. An author has to incorporate all the changes someone is suggesting back into the work once it’s edited. Not fun. But an author should be willing to take this time to have a better finished product. Because as a professional the product is what counts.

Throwing non-edited material up on Amazon hoping that you’re going to hit the self-publishing lottery is destructive to writers and readers everywhere. It’s going to lower the overall quality of what’s available. It’s going set expectations lower than it ever has been before. And worse it’s going to make readers wary of everything out there in terms of what they buy.

We’re all adjusting to this new world. And I think the new world is great and exciting. But if we as writers are going to do this - on our own or with a traditional publisher – we at least have to agree that a book isn’t a “book” until it has been edited by someone else. Until then it’s just a manuscript.

I have no doubt there were probably typos throughout this post. Why? Because it wasn’t edited by someone other than me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Genre Pondering

Two things have me thinking about genre conventions tonight.

First is the current brouhaha at RWA over the elimination of the "strong romantic elements" category in the RITAs and specifying that novels entered in the YA category must focus on the romance--something which very few YA novels do. The second is a delightful movie I saw tonight Celeste and Jesse Forever.

So... I'm not really sure I want to debate the RWA thing here but that said, I just can't keep quiet sometimes. :) I get that RWA is a romance writers organization and that lines need to be drawn somewhere... but really, it's the organization itself who defines what a romance is or isn't, and frankly they can define it however broadly or narrowly they choose to.

By including YA and SRE they embraced a lot of authors of popular fiction who write books that don't fit neatly into genre boxes and I'm not sure why they'd want to reverse that. I mean romance is such a strong genre, it's not like the future of romance publishing will be threatened by recognizing the work of writers of popular fiction that has a similar audience (largely women), but which doesn't fall neatly into any specific genre. Books that are closer to romance than say, horror, or thriller or mysteries or sci-fi. And I'm not sure why the RWA so recently sanctioned the new Women's Fiction and Young Adult chapters only to turn around and tell the members of those newly formed chapters that their books don't qualify to be entered for the organization's biggest award... But hey. I'm not on the board and wasn't there to hear the debate when the decision was made.

And it's the former of those arguments, the "why should RWA shun stories that are highly romantic but don't neatly fit within the genre's definitions" question, that made me think of the movie I saw tonight. (or vice versa)

I don't want to ruin the story--Celeste and Jesse Forever is a really nice movie that is definitely worth a rental--but without ruining it, let's just say the plot definitely focuses on the romance. The romantic relationship between this couple is the main plot in this story. It's about a married couple who've decided to get divorced, but are still best friends. They still love each other, and yet have decided to split amicably. She's too controlling. He won't grow up. It's a story about how sometimes to have a lasting relationship it takes more than love and compatibility. Sometimes it takes timing and compromise and hard work. And maybe a little luck.

The story has a happy, hopeful ending... I thought. But let's just say it's not a typical romance happily ever after ending. So, by the strict definitions of the genre, this movie was not a romance. Even though it was wholly about a relationship between a couple.

By the reactions in the audience, I think the ending caught many people by surprise because we're all trained for romances to end a certain way. But the film was really enjoyable and has high ratings both from critics and viewers on rotten tomatoes, so obviously I"m not the only person who enjoyed this film. Clearly it has an audience. But I don't think it's getting a huge release. Probably because it doesn't fit neatly into a genre.

For me, as a reader and movie goer, I wish there were more stories like this. Stories that are interesting, well told, but don't fit neatly into a box.

I guess I just like coloring (and reading and movie watching) outside the lines.

How about you? Can you enjoy a romance like, say, The Bridges of Madison County, where the couple doesn't end up together at the end? Or does that make you crazy? Is it not a romance just because of how it ends? Do you think anyone beyond the RWA really cares or can tell that Nicholas Sparks books don't qualify either?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Thank You to My Readers

So in March, my publisher rereleased Don't Kill the Messenger as a mass market paperback. In addition to being a mass market paperback, it also came out from Ace, presenting me to a whole new audience. In November, Dead on Delivery will also be released as a mass market paperback from Ace.

To celebrate, I've written a short story, Payback for a Post-Mortem, set in the Messenger world with a new heroine. It's available for Kindle on Amazon and for Nook on Barnes and It's $.99 in both places.

There is an opportunity, however, to get it as a free PDF download. That's right. Free. If you go to my website and sign up for my newsletter, you can get it for free.

Oh, you want to know what it's about? Well, here goes:

Forensic veterinarian Dawn Bianchi knew that the animal on her necropsy table wasn't ordinary from the second it was brought in. She just didn't know how far it was from ordinary. She found out damn quickly, though. Between the leather-clad man and woman who stole the wolf from her lab and the mysterious man stalking her, she starts to get an inkling. It turns out there is far more out there than she ever dreamt.

So I hope you'll check it out either as a free download or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Regardless, thank you all for your support. It means the world to me.

Monday, August 20, 2012


The third book in the Crooked Creek series - Billy and Maddy's book is out Jan. 29. And I'm really really thrilled about the cover. No, there's no facial scar, and it's a good thing there isn't a fourth book in the series because I have no idea how they'd dress him - but I think this cover is beautiful. Just lovely. And her eyes are closed - I love that. What do you think?

In this poignant and deeply sensual new contemporary romance, Molly O’Keefe proves that lost loves don’t have to stay lost forever.

Dallas TV morning show host Madelyn Cornish is poised, perfect, and unflappable, from her glossy smile to her sleek professionalism. No one knows that her iron will guards a shattered heart, and memories of a man she’s determined to lock out. Until that man shows up at a morning meeting like a bad dream: Billy Wilkins, sexy hockey superstar on a tailspin—still skating, still fighting, and still her ex-husband.
Now the producers want this poster child for bad behavior to undergo an on-air makeover, and Billy, who has nothing to lose, agrees to the project. It’s his only chance to get near Maddy again, and fight for the right things this time around. He believes in the fire in Maddy’s whisky eyes, and the passion that ignites the air between them. This bad boy heartbreaker wants a last shot to be redeemed by the only thing that matters: Maddy’s love.

“Molly O’Keefe is a unique, not-to-be-missed voice in romantic fiction.”
—New York Times bestselling author Susan Andersen

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's time to go back to work

I've been slacking... really, really slacking. It's been summer and weekends are busy, and with the nice weather, who wants to be indoors and there's Bachelor Pad and So you think you can dance, and a whole host of other excuses.

And so four months has gone by and I have precious little to show for it. So now it's back to work, page counts and weekly goals and being held accountable, because without it, I don't get anything done.

And I'm pretty sure the rest of my critique group is right there with me.

So who else has been slacking this summer?

And has anyone else read The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I devoured it, loved every moment with a crazy passion and immediately after reading the end, went to the author website to see when the next book is coming out. It might be my favourite YA since The Hunger Games.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Smart Talk...

For any readers of our blog who don't know - Molly and I were interviewed by Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches during one of her RWA National Conference podcasts. It was actually one of the highlights of the conference for me because I’m such a huge fan of the DBSA podcasts in general.

I love listening to really smart people talk about romance seriously. And sometimes not so seriously. The jokes are there about romance novels no doubt, and to truly have an intelligent conversation you have to accept the good with the bad. But for the first time listening to those podcasts, I really appreciated having someone legitimize both what I write and what I read.

Then Molly and I got to be the smart people talking and that was fun too. We chatted for almost two hours about books, and sex, and the impact of sex in romance novels on women and their lives and I thought YES! This is so cool.

I’m done with being maligned for reading what I love. I’m done thinking that romance books can’t be smart and worthy of serious discussion. I’m done listening to men chuckle behind their hands when they bring up 50 Shades of Gray and how all books like that are just porn. Then I have to explain how it is a romance, but it isn’t a romance and what does it matter?

I read plenty of books by men that have sex in them. But when a woman writes a book about sex suddenly – it’s there. Molly made such a good point about why women aren’t more educated about sex, aren’t more open about sex. It’s the judgment.

I know it seems cliché to say there is a double standard but flippin’ A there is a double standard. And listening to our conversation back and hearing us talk I was reminded again how much I love reading these books. I love writing these books. I love talking about these books!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Karaoke Analogy

So, several months ago, a traditionally pubbed author caused a lot of controversy when she called self-publishing literary karaoke. And I get why people were upset. I get that self-pubbed authors took this as a dis and a claim that they were all a bunch of amateurish hacks.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was an okay analogy. Not a perfect one, but not at terrible one either.

Before you get all mad, hear me out.

The thing about both karaoke and self-publishing is that anyone and everyone can get up on stage and take the mic. Now, right there I see the first flaw in the analogy, because while, sure, it takes courage (or alcohol) to take the mic in karaoke, with self-pubbing you actually have to write a book first. Which is a big accomplishment in itself. And way harder than following the bouncing ball over some lyrics. Kudos to everyone who has written a book. Seriously.

But... after that I start to like the analogy better.

On any given night in karaoke, (let's say on every stage around the world to get a big sample), about 5-10% of the people who grab the mic are truly gifted. They are awesome singers and performers. They are pitch perfect. Their phrasing is innovative, their tone pleasing, their stage presence exciting. Everyone in the room is in awe and wonders why that person doesn't already have a huge recording career, why they aren't already super famous and successful.

And every now and again Jewel gets on stage.

And then let's say that another 5-10% of the people who take the mic are truly deluded (or super-drunk) and have absolutely no talent. They can't carry a tune. They can't keep the beat. They jumble the lyrics. They're painful to listen to. It's embarrassing. It's sad.

So that leaves the middle 80-90% who are, well, competent. They have moments of brilliance. They hit some great notes. They really get into the groove in parts. Some show great promise and raw talent and maybe with a great vocal coach, or more practice or an awesome band or talented producer, or a better song in a different key they might be fantastic. But really, as of right now, their performances aren't spectacular.

Now even out of that middle group of singers a few of them might get really lucky. A talent scout might decide to take one of them on and help them do some polishing. Or someone in the crowd might film the performance and the video might go viral on youtube and get spotted by Ellen or Usher. But lets face it: there are a lot of singers' videos on Youtube too... and not many Justin Beiber stories...

So, that middle 80%--there's nothing wrong with them taking the mic and just being okay. Most of them will be happy singing a few songs every now and again, and don't have real expectations that it will lead to a career. Most simply enjoy performing and their friends enjoy their performances and a few people in the crowd will stand up and cheer at the end and maybe offer to buy them a drink, but that's about as far as it will go.

And in that, I think karaoke actually does have a lot of similarities to self-publishing. And maybe publishing as a whole for that matter, now that I think about it... although with trad publishing at least there's an audition process and coaching involved and someone dresses the "singer" in a professional costume, does their hair and make-up and teaches them how to properly use a mic.

But here's my other problem with the karaoke analogy--which might have fit better right after the Jewel takes the stage section.

Right now in self-publishing, Jewel equivalents are taking the stage more regularly than they do in karaoke. By which I mean that authors with lots of publishing experience--who've previously worked with the "pros"--are self-publishing in higher percentages than proven singers are taking karaoke stages on any given night. (Except maybe in LA or Memphis, where one might be more likely to spot a pro-- I'm guessing.) So in my analysis of this analogy, I'd like to exclude all those authors. All the authors re-releasing backlists or the few of their manuscripts (out of many) that for whatever reason didn't get a contract. I think that's different and does NOT fit the karaoke analogy well. And if that's the people who were insulted. Well, I agree. I'm insulted for them.

But for people who've never had the experience of being professionally published and/or have never caught the attention of an agent, for people who are self-publishing their first or second manuscripts, and/or are ignoring negative feedback and assuming everyone who rejected them just didn't "get their genius"--for those people I think the analogy fits.

That is, I'd guess that 5-10% of the those authors are probably truly awesome and have just had bad luck/timing and didn't land on the right desk on the right day. I think we all know that not every publishable manuscript gets published, even when writers have been repped by agents and editors have praised and wished they could publish their work. It sometimes takes a frustratingly long time to get published and it's equally hard to stay published. And if some of those manuscripts are now seeing the light of day via self-publishing. Great. I think it's awesome that self-pubbing is giving options to writers who have worked really, really hard on their craft and have been THIS CLOSE a bunch of times without actually getting a contract. But I also believe that a percentage of the books being put out there are at the other end of the spectrum. They're beginner level and/or embarassingly bad. And I also believe that the vast majority are merely okay.  (And again, I am excluding from this entire analogy authors who are re-releasing backlists and/or moving away from their trad publishing careers to gain more control.)

I'm a little nervous posting this. Because I really don't intend to insult anyone. And I know that everyone has to make his or her own choices in publishing and everyone has different goals and there's definitely more than one way to achieve publishing success (not to mention different definitions of success).  But when I heard all the brou-ha-ha about the karaoke analogy, I wasn't all up in arms, even though I have considered self-publishing myself and have total respect for others who have done so. Instead I thought, hey, literary karaoke--that's kind of clever and almost fits.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What Do You Want to Know?

I'm about to update my website (long overdue, I know) and actually send out a newsletter to people who said they wanted to know about what was going on with my books. My question is . . . what do people want to know?

Just to be clear, I'm going to keep this book-focused. I'm not going to send out recipes or household organizing tips, not that I have any worth sharing, but still . . .

I have a couple things I know I want to put out there.

1) I have a short story up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for less than buck, but I am going to offer it as a free PDF download for my newsletter subscribers.

2) Don't Kill the Messenger is available in mass market paperback and Dead on Delivery will be available in that format in November.

3) Dead Letter Day, the third Messenger book, is due out in March of 2013 and I might have a cover to show everyone by the end of the week.

What else do people want to know? I've had a couple of foreign sales recently. That was nice news to me, but does anyone else care? I don't have the covers yet. Should I wait and talk about those when I have something to actually show? Or should I mention it now?

My life is basically an open book. I'll tell anyone about anything. Just tell me what it is people will be interested in hearing about.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer Reading Had Me a Blast!

Ha! Get it? Summer reading...summer lovin'. The Power of Grease.

I do not know what I was thinking when I planned this summer. It's been non-stop. Between vacations, conferences, cottages, swimming lessons and now camps - I'm wrung out. Wrung. Out. I also haven't gotten anything written since the middle of July - yikes.

I have, however, been reading like a fiend. And lots of great books. Here's my list:

The Lonely Polygamist - Brady Udall is one of my favorite authors. The combination of tears and laughs and anxiety is a potent one.

About Last Night - Ruthie Knox, for those of you who might not have read her yet - is a gem. Funny, smart, sexy, sad. Good good stuff.

The Great Escape - SEP's latest isn't as great as her early works, but it's still a great way to pass the time.

Suzanne Brockman's Darkness book, the new futuristic - I loved this book. It takes a second to get into the world, but once you're in, the pages fly by. Great hero, great heroine, fun chemistry - exciting world. Want more.

The Fault In Our Stars - a very very very sad YA. very very funny and smart, but mostly I stayed in the bedroom and cried.

Liquid Lies - this is a really cool sci-fi romance. I loved the romance and the sci-fi. Fans of Battlestar - this one is for you.

Tessa Dare's first two Spindle Cove books - I LOVED these. Loved them. Gobbled them up. the set up - a small town of oddball outcast women hit a lot of my favorite tropes. They're funny and sweet and very romantic.

Sherry Thomas' first two books in her new series - wow. Now, I didn't love these like I loved some of her other books. I think the fault is mine - I read them too fast and in the car - yuck. But I was DYING to read them. And they're great. Emotional. Gritty. Different.

And finally The Cloud Atlas - just finishing this one. It's amazing. Epic. Tour de Force etc... just don't try to read it when you're going to bed tired. It's dense. But one this last cottage trip I got to spend some time with it when I wasn't exhausted - amazing. Just amazing. Can't wait to watch the trailer.

All right - how about you guys? Reading anything good?

Friday, August 10, 2012

My secret crush

Or not so secret now. OK, so we've been talking about hot men all summer, Vamp Eric, Taylor Kitsch and they are lovely, but the person I'm loving right now is Will Ferrell.

It was a slow conversion. I found Old School mildly funny, I did love Elf, found Anchorman funny, but mostly for Steve Carrell, and then Bewitched killed any budding love I had for him.
Talledega Nights and Step Brothers were mildly funny, buy I never did see the overwhelming love other people (mostly men) had for Will, until The Other Guys. I don't know why, but that movie makes me snort milk (who am I kidding, cider) because I'm laughing so hard.

It even made me love Mark Wahlberg, whom, aside from The Departed, I've found to be mostly forgettable, even with those abs.

It was like a switch turned on, and now I find Will Ferrell hilarious, even the pretty awful Land of the Lost made me laugh. No one else does pompous stupidity better, except maybe for John Cleese in Fawlty Towers.

I'm going back now and watching everything he's ever done and finally finding Anchorman hilarious and this weekend, I'm going to watch Talledega nights. I'm even going to try and see the Campaign in theatres.

I'm on the Will Ferrell is a genius bandwagon. He's hilarious in interviews, we know almost nothing about him, because he almost never talks about his personal life, and started the Funny and Die videos, which if you haven't seen, well, google them, and ... you're welcome...

So he's my not so secret summer crush.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Lois Lane, Princess Leia and more on difficult women

I found the best new cable channel ever. The Hub. It’s rerunning old classics from the 80s and 90s and re-airing from start to finish The New Adventures of Lois and Clark.
I’m not going to lie. I loved this show. In hindsight I can see that it might have had a lot to do with Dean Cain walking around without his shirt on for a good chunk of the show.

1995 Dean Cain is my new boyfriend. I know… my boyfriend situation is getting quite complicated.

But in looking at this show in all its corniness and bad effects, at its heart it’s a love story. A well told story over a pretty big arc. They meet, they become friends, we have the typical conflict of the other love interests, but the biggest conflict is the duality of Lois’s feelings for Clark and Superman. One is her friend. The other is the man she wants. Good stuff.

But what I’ve also been enjoying about the show again is realizing Lois is not an easy character. She is in fact a very driven professional. She’s difficult, competitive, hates to lose and is immersed in her work. Clark however seems to appreciate all of this and loves her. Crazy – but he’s truly a beta to her Alpha. Which is then contradicted by his Alpha qualities as Superman. Real good stuff.

And it’s always at that point where you think you might not like this character that she does something goofy or silly or is humbled in a way that helps the audience to connect to her.

I remember getting into an argument with my sister-in-law (I was like 12) over Princess Leia for the same reasons. My sister-in-law said she was basically a bitch. I pointed out it’s not easy leading the rebellion against the Empire! Is she exactly grateful when Luke and Han save her from jail? No. But she’s got other things on her mind. Her planet has been destroyed, she needs to escape with the plans for the Death Star… save the rebellion. I mean give a girl a break.

It makes me realize how I’ve always had a thing for difficult heroines. I like it when they are edgy. I’m okay with ambition. Leadership to me is an amazing quality, and not something to be frowned upon because it doesn’t always make for a sweetness and light heroine.

As women we need to stop worrying so much about how likeable we need to be. Especially with our characters because they are fictional! They can’t really tick anyone off.

And the men we write for them, who really deserve them... well let’s hope they are all just like Superman.

Without his shirt on.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Goodreads, Bloggers, Amazon Reviews: Oh My!

It's never fun to read a bad review and/or opinion about your work, but if writers release their work for sale to the public (via a publisher or via self-publishing) reviews come along with the deal.

The world of reviews has changed a lot over the past several years with the cutbacks at newspapers and the advent of the internet. And particularly since Amazon started encouraging customers to post reviews, and reader community sites like Goodreads became popular, and book lovers discovered blogging.

But it kind of amazes me when authors get up in arms about "unprofessional" reviews on Goodreads or amazon.

My take on it is that Goodreads is primarily a social networking site for readers. Some of the reviews posted there are very professional and thoughtful, but some members just put their thoughts, whether or not they're coherent. And that's okay. In fact, it's great.

The way I see it, Goodreads is a place where people who love books can meet each other and share ideas and talk about the books they love and hate. Facebook for avid readers, if you like. As an author, I can't see a downside to this. I think it's awesome. Sure, some people on GR have posted some negative things about my 2 books that are already out in the wild and I'm sure the same will be true for my upcoming releases, and I'm not going to pretend I'll enjoy that. But again, it comes with the territory.

Similarly, customer reviews on e-retailers like, B& etc. are there to boost sales. Retailers know that prospective customers are more likely to make a buy decision for a product if they can read reviews or see ratings from others who've bought it before. In fact, consumers are skeptical of products with no ratings or conversely exclusively high ratings.

Are all of those reviews on e-tailers' sites well thought out? No. Are all of them even relevant to the book? No... But again, as frustrating as it is to read the bad ones or the ones that complain about the cover or the shipping or packaging or other things that have nothing to do with the book, I think overall it's great for authors that these online retailers let prospective customers see which books many people have bought and liked (or hated). And let them give feedback for the books they've already bought.

So, with a new book coming out, I'm simultaneously excited and terrified that people are (I hope) going to be reading and reviewing it.

And speaking of that... Drumroll... I'm doing a Goodreads giveaway!!!

Tell your friends to enter.
Add my book to your shelves. :)
And, oh, you could also pre-order it if you're so inclined.

Then, after you read it... review it. Please. Even if you hate it. I mean it. Really.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Deviants by Maureen McGowan


by Maureen McGowan

Giveaway ends August 27, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Monday, August 06, 2012

Talent Talent Everywhere

On Saturday night, I went to a birthday party for a friend and at some point, someone introduced me to a young woman named Emily Senecal who is interested in writing. This happens all the time. Usually the person is thinking about starting a book or maybe has made a few attempts to start things.

Not Emily. Emily has written seven books of a series. Seven. She wrote most of them in one year. ONE YEAR. She said she'd tried to get an agent, but had gotten frustrated and decided to put the first few up with Kindle Direct Publishing.

She was sweet and I told her to email me and we could talking about writing and publishing and all that stuff. When I got home, I went online and the first book in the series was only $2.99. I figured I'd buy it and glance through it so I could offer some constructive criticism when we connected up.

Ha! I've got nothing. I've only just started the first book, but it's darling. Funny. Well-written. Well put together. I like the characters. I like the voice. I like the setting.

It's daunting, I tell you. Daunting. There is so much talent out there.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The challenging heroine

It's been a really fun time for the drunk writers over the past six months. Molly's second book in the crooked creek trilogy came out this week, and Maureen is ramping up as her YA Deviant trilogy gets close to being released.

It's been a remarkable experience watching these books, emerge from idea to first draft to finished product and along the way as critique partners, guiding what we loved and what thought needed work (not that much was needed for either of these books)

And then Molly's first and second book came out to some truly enthusiastic reviews and I nodded my head sagely and patted myself on the back for seeing the awesomeness in these books early on, and then some criticism and truthfully, and there hasn't been a lot, but what there was has been about what I loved most about these books.

Truly, I love Luc and Molly's ability to create tension between her two leads, but I loved, loved, loved Tara Jean from the first sentence describing her, to her wry, sarcastic POV voice and how she grew throughout the novel. It stunned me that not everyone felt the same.

And then the second book, I adore Victoria. This mentally battered woman creating her own place in the world and finding love and a sisterhood of sorts, (My secret is, I think I love the second book more than the first) and again, stunned that not everyone loves her the way I do.

I love when writers challenge a genre and by doing so make it more layered and complicated and fun to read. See also Sherry Thomas and Laura Kinsale.

But I think that's whats fun about interesting books. Not everyone's going to love them, but everyone probably has an opinion and they are the books that remain on my keeper shelves.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Agony of Defeat

Ironically the title of this post has nothing to do with the fact that I didn’t win the RITA at this year’s RWA conference. That I was fine with and frankly rather relieved. And I got to wear my pretty sparkly shoes that I get to keep forever. (See below!)

No, I’m back in Olympic mode and of course loving every minute of it. And much like a good Molly O’Keefe novel (Can’t Hurry Love is out in stores now!) there are so many ups and down it makes the whole experience so amazing.

The other night for me it was the US women gymnasts. The girl coming into these Olympics considered as the best all around gymnast and a heavy favorite to win the gold, failed to qualify for the all around event. Why? Because only the top two gymnasts from each country can compete. Now I’m sure I understand why they changed this. They probably got tired of only a small handful of countries being represented each year when simply choosing the top scorers. But the result is the girl thought to be the best in the world will have to sit and watch other lesser gymnasts from other countries compete.

She’s heartbroken. She’s devastated. Pictures of her crying are everywhere as the cameras witness this. Bottom line, she just didn’t have her absolute “A” game that day. And another US gymnast did and beat her out.

And that’s the beauty of this story. One girl’s heartbreak and misery is another girl’s triumph.

The other girl came to play. She came to give it her all. She succeeded and now she gets a chance she didn’t think she was going to get. While one story is the worst I ever heard. The other is the best.

It’s why I love these games.

I watched on Tuesday night a girl who basically only does one thing – the vault – do something so amazing I had to rewind it like ten times. They told this girl to do one vault (they only get once chance in the team competition) and do it better than she’s ever done it before.

I thought it was perfect. The judges somehow found .297 in deductions – but still obviously thought it was pretty great. One event, one chance, in the Olympics with everyone watching, and make it your best. And she did it without hesitation.

These girls – these athletes – they are something else.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Can't Hurry Love

No, you don't have to wait! ;)

Fans of Molly (i.e. everyone who's read her or met her) will be thrilled that CAN'T HURRY LOVE the second book in her new series is out now!!! It released yesterday. (Was so excited to wake up with it on my kindle. )

From award-winning author Molly O’Keefe comes a wonderfully written contemporary romance about second chances at life and at love.

Tori Baker, a penniless widow of a disgraced financier, is ready to stand up, be counted, and make a new life for herself and her beloved son in Texas. She’s taking over Crooked Creek ranch, her birthright, and turning it into something special. All that stands in her way is Eli Turnbull, a rugged, too-handsome cowboy who wants the land just as badly.

If Tori wants a fight, Eli will give her one. He’s devoted his life to Crooked Creek, and he’s not about to let some pampered city girl—even one as brave and beautiful as Tori—turn it into some silly spa. But all their anger and frustration seems to fuel heat of another kind: uncontrollable passion. And soon Tori and Eli come to realize that the person standing in their way is the one they can never do without.


What can I tell you... When I first realized that Eli, the uber-hunky and mysterious ranch foreman from CAN'T BUY ME LOVE was going to be the hero of her next book--let's just say I was excited.

*Critique partner inside information* I think Molly had Eli's character figured out before Luc's... so in the first drafts we saw of the first book, I fell in love with Eli before I fell in love with Luc. Of course, in the end, I wanted both, but just saying...

But when I realized she was setting up Luc's spoiled sister as the heroine with Eli, I was worried. Worried for about five minutes, because I know Molly can pull this shit off. I mean, her heroine in the first book was engaged to an old man and ended up with his son. This is one writer who can pull shit off.

And then once we started reading CAN'T HURRY LOVE it was like a lesson in how to make readers empathize with someone they might not have initially liked. And beyond the writing lesson: it was a human lesson in how we shouldn't judge before we walk in someone else's shoes.

Eli and Victoria's heat is smoking and they really fight hard for their love, which made me believe their love was real and would last. Proves... you really can't hurry love.

If you click the cover in the little widget on the right side of our blog, you can buy it now! No, you don't have to wait! You will not be sorry. :)

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