Category Archives: Fashion

Oh, tumblr, how I love thee!

PJ here, and I’ve finally found a form of social media I love! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy checking in with friends and readers on Facebook, but many of those folks are writers, friends, family, high school alumni, and adults who enjoy reading YA fiction, and it can often take up a lot of time getting caught up on everyone’s happenings. I engage in twitter on a regular basis, but as with FB, most of my twitter followers are other writers. After taking a Publicity 101 workshop with Heather Riccio recently, I was prompted to reach out more directly to my audience (namely teens), through tumblr. It turns out, tumblr is easy and really fun!tumblr icon 2 (2013_06_02 00_59_02 UTC)

I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to how I can reach readers and looking at where I’ve had my focus in terms of marketing and social media. Recognizing that I have to expand that all-important sphere of influence and try to connect with readers wherever they may be, tumblr was on the no-brainer list. It was highly recommended by my YA writing peers that tumblr and Instagram are the go-to locations for teens. For sanity’s sake, I chose only one.

I’m just getting started and I still have to work out a few kinks, but I really like tumblr. You can check out my new page here: http://pjsharonbooks.tumblr.com/ I will have to add my books to my page so readers will know where to find them, but I’ll add a little at a time as I figure out how to find teen followers. As with FB and twitter, it’s a slow build.

Tumblr is where I can post a cool pic right from my phone or computer, with a short blurb about the photo, about life, or about any number of things I think are awesome.

Basically, I’ll share snapshots of life as I see it—another way to share my message of hope with teens. I’ll post about my books as well, but 80% of my communication here is going to be about sharing pieces of me with teen readers.  You can add  a custom background, change fonts, and even connect your posts to FB and twitter, a great way for me to contribute to my brand on my FB PJSharonBooks page.

I realized a long time ago that blogging every day on a static website page was nearly impossible, despite the encouragement of publicity specialists who insist that consistent, frequent posts will garner attention and gain you an audience. Frankly, I don’t have the time or enough interesting, informative, or entertaining things to talk about every day. As it is, I currently use my web site’s home page as a way to keep readers updated monthly about sales, contests, and news about appearances. Keeping your content fresh and making your posts “value added” for readers is a challenge.  Blogs such as the one you’re reading now take significant time and effort and weekly blog posting is more than enough for most of us.

I figured a daily blog that literally only takes me two minutes to post would be a great way to start making a shift in the right direction. It’s kind of addictive and oh, so simple, I think I’ll be very happy there and don’t feel the need to explore Instagram at this point. I hope you’ll follow me or share with any teens you think might enjoy some clean, fun entertainment.

What about you? Have you tried tumblr? What’s your favorite mode of social media and why?

Additional announcements:

1.) The winner of last weeks audio book of HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES is Brenda Maxfield! Congratulations, Brenda! I’ll be contacting you to collect your FREE audiobook download.

2.) Readers have until September 11th to enter to win a FREE signed copy of WESTERN DESERT, book two in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy as part of a Goodreads giveaway. You can enter to win herehttp://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/61971-western-desert

Top 10 tips, quotes, and advice I heard at RWA2013

PJ Sharon here, happy to be home after a fun filled week in Atlanta at RWA 2013. It was such a busy week, I couldn’t possibly recap all the cool events, workshops, and networking opportunities I enjoyed. So instead, I thought I would share the highlights in a top 10 list. I’ve paraphrased the exact quotes, but wanted to share the amazing messages from some notable authors and industry professionals.

1)      Advice from Indie author Bella Andre. “Writing is a business. Know who your readers are and write what you can sell. If it’s not selling, change something. Put a new cover on it, change your description, or change the categories on your book’s page.” This is paraphrased, but definitely the gist of her message. I had the opportunity to chat with her and she gave me some very good career advice. She was awesome and I’m now a huge fan girl.RWA2013 me and Bella Andre

2)      Kristan Higgins in her incredibly insightful and moving luncheon speech. “What we do makes a difference. Romance novels can help people through the darkest, loneliest, and most painful times in their lives.” Really…if you ever doubt the worth of what you are writing, you need to remember how you feel after reading a heartfelt and powerful love story by one of your favorite authors.

3)      Michael Hague on the ultimate tool for understanding your character’s deepest fear and motivation. “I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that goal, just don’t ask me to_________.”

4)      Author Carla Neggars on Writing as Work/Writing as Play: Do they need to be either/or? “It comes down to creating a dynamic dialogue between work and play. It’s about abandonment and concentration, the continent of reason and the Island of intuition. Set a schedule with intention and stick to it.” 

5)      Tips on e-mail marketing from Heroes and Heart Breakers authors.  “Create a catchy subject line that has searchable key words and offers a promise. Meet that promise. Send out newsletters on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Balance info with offers and engagement of readers. Blend editorial and marketing with a call to action from your readers sprinkled in.” There was some talk about gaining newsletter followers by using Romance Studios, adding your newsletter link to an automated Twitter response for new followers, adding the newsletter link to your Facebook page, Author Central page, etc.

6)      Mark LaFebvre from KOBO Writing Life on their now offering pre-orders for Indies. “We’re open minded in Canada.” I loved this guy and can’t wait to start working directly with KOBO to sell my books.

7)      Bella Andre says that audio books are the latest big thing and SEO is the key to attracting your readership!

8)      Author Barbara Freethy recommends at least three proof readers for Indie-pubbed books. I agree!

9)      Agent Christina Hogrebe recommended book bloggers for promoting your YA titles. “If a high traffic blogger loves your book, it can go viral in no time.” Here’s to hoping she’s right!

10)  A quote from award winning author and RITA Awards emcee, Christie Craig. “The difference between northern writers and southern writers is that northerners start their stories with ‘Once upon a time,’ while southern storytellers start every story with ‘You ‘aint ‘gonna believe this sh**.’” Christie Craig was hilariously funny and did a fine job as emcee. WTG Christie!

RWA2013 me and Katy Lee Beyond all of these excellent tips and so many more from people like Cathy Maxwell, our keynote speaker, and the excellent agent/editor panels, the best part of the conference for me was the new friends I made and the wonderful companionship of my CTRWA peeps (other than D.S. who it turns out is a terrible covers hog).

Please feel free to share some of your highlights in the comments section below. And speaking of favorite conference highlights, check out all the spectacular shoes! Can you guess whose they are?shoe pic

Top 10 tips, quotes, and advice I heard at RWA2013

PJ Sharon here, happy to be home after a fun filled week in Atlanta at RWA 2013. It was such a busy week, I couldn’t possibly recap all the cool events, workshops, and networking opportunities I enjoyed. So instead, I thought I would share the highlights in a top 10 list. I’ve paraphrased the exact quotes, but wanted to share the amazing messages from some notable authors and industry professionals.

1) Advice from Indie author Bella Andre. “Writing is a business. Know who your readers are and write what you can sell. If it’s not selling, change something. Put a new cover on it, change your description, or change the categories on your book’s page.” This is paraphrased, but definitely the gist of her message. I had the opportunity to chat with her and she gave me some very good career advice. She was awesome and I’m now a huge fan girl.RWA2013 me and Bella Andre

2) Kristan Higgins in her incredibly insightful and moving luncheon speech. “What we do makes a difference. Romance novels can help people through the darkest, loneliest, and most painful times in their lives.” Really…if you ever doubt the worth of what you are writing, you need to remember how you feel after reading a heartfelt and powerful love story by one of your favorite authors.

3) Michael Hague on the ultimate tool for understanding your character’s deepest fear and motivation. “I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that goal, just don’t ask me to_________.”

4) Author Carla Neggars on Writing as Work/Writing as Play: Do they need to be either/or? “It comes down to creating a dynamic dialogue between work and play. It’s about abandonment and concentration, the continent of reason and the Island of intuition. Set a schedule with intention and stick to it.”

5) Tips on e-mail marketing from Heroes and Heart Breakers authors. “Create a catchy subject line that has searchable key words and offers a promise. Meet that promise. Send out newsletters on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Balance info with offers and engagement of readers. Blend editorial and marketing with a call to action from your readers sprinkled in.” There was some talk about gaining newsletter followers by using Romance Studios, adding your newsletter link to an automated Twitter response for new followers, adding the newsletter link to your Facebook page, Author Central page, etc.

6) Mark LaFebvre from KOBO Writing Life on their now offering pre-orders for Indies. “We’re open minded in Canada.” I loved this guy and can’t wait to start working directly with KOBO to sell my books.

7) Bella Andre says that audio books are the latest big thing and SEO is the key to attracting your readership!

8) Author Barbara Freethy recommends at least three proof readers for Indie-pubbed books. I agree!

9) Agent Christina Hogrebe recommended book bloggers for promoting your YA titles. “If a high traffic blogger loves your book, it can go viral in no time.” Here’s to hoping she’s right!

10) A quote from award winning author and RITA Awards emcee, Christie Craig. “The difference between northern writers and southern writers is that northerners start their stories with ‘Once upon a time,’ while southern storytellers start every story with ‘You ‘aint ‘gonna believe this sh**.’” Christie Craig was hilariously funny and did a fine job as emcee. WTG Christie!

RWA2013 me and Katy Lee Beyond all of these excellent tips and so many more from people like Cathy Maxwell, our keynote speaker, and the excellent agent/editor panels, the best part of the conference for me was the new friends I made and the wonderful companionship of my CTRWA peeps (other than D.S. who it turns out is a terrible covers hog).

Please feel free to share some of your highlights in the comments section below. And speaking of favorite conference highlights, check out all the spectacular shoes! Can you guess whose they are?shoe pic

After a Fashion–Oscars 2013

Hey there, Scribelings. Suze here. It’s the first Thursday after the Oscars and you know what that means–it’s time for Suze’s picks for best dressed! I wish I could post actual pictures here, but I can’t because of copyright issues. So I’ve provided a link in each entry below–they’re in no particular order:

Nicole Kidman. (Click here) This dress is gorgeous. I love the metallic accents at hem, neckline and waist, and I love the sleek and simple lines of the silhouette. It’s gorgeous, classy, but with a bit of an edge. I love her hair too–so soft and feminine.

Jennifer Garner.  (Click here) Will you look at this color? Beautiful. Again, a classic silhouette, but with the unexpected addition of a frou-frou bustle/train. And check out the lovely jewels at throat and wrist. Another soft, wavy hairdo makes this a pretty much perfect look.

Maria Menounos. (Click here) Again, a beautiful color in a classic va-va-va-voom gown. Note the retro-80s high bouffant–love it! (Am I showing my age? I just want to turn on the Talking Heads and dance!)

Jenna Dewan-Tatum. (Click here) I have to include this one because, for Pete’s sake, that’s Channing Tatum’s baby in there. Sigh.

Kerry Washington. (Click here) I love, love, love everything about this gown, especially the little Jackie-O-like bow at the waist.

Now, I haven’t forgotten the guys (puhleeez!). I gave you Channing Tatum (you’re welcome) above, but here are a few more:

Bradley Cooper. (Click here). The suit is classic and perfectly fitted; the hair and scruffy beard are pure romance hero. He might be my new celebrity crush because he took his mother as his date to the Oscars.

The Avengers. (Click here). The Avenger guys. In tuxes. And you just know they all smell yummy and will always pick up the check.  {Thud} That’s the sound of me hitting the floor. No, don’t bother to wake me up. I’m having a beautiful dream.

Did you watch the Oscars? Do you care about the fashion? What was your favorite (or least favorite) look of the night?

Downton Abbey, According to Suze

Hello, darlings. Suze here. Can you hear my snooty, upper crust British accent as I write? Because today I’m talking about Downton Abbey.

Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.
Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.

Unless you’ve been living in an unelectrified, non-cell-phone-signal-accessible shepherd’s cottage in the Outer Hebrides somewhere (and if you are, please contact me–I’d love to hear all about your life!), you must have seen, or at least heard of, Downton Abbey. It’s a costume drama set in the early twentieth century, and follows the aristocratic Crawley family and their household staff as they all try to find their places in a rapidly modernizing world. It’s beautiful, and it’s brilliant.

It’s also gotten a little … boring.

So far Season III, which started a couple of weeks ago, is underwhelming to say the least. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I still love it, and I will continue to watch it. But if I were writing the story, here’s what it would look like:

Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley. Does anybody else feel like these two, instead of being destined for each other and deeply in love as the writers would have us believe, actually have about as much chemistry as, say, Bill and Hillary? Like the former president and secretary of state, something else–a potential earldom in this case–is keeping those two together. I’d break them up in the final episode of the season. Maybe kill one of them. But then again, I write murder mysteries.

Carson and Mrs. Hughes. These two need to go off on a seniors’ cruise together, stat. Can’t you just picture Carson in a Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, and black knee socks held up by garters? And Mrs. Hughes sunbathing on deck, the keys of her chatelaine glinting in the sun? Shuffleboard at 2:00!

Lady Edith. She is clearly suffering from middle child syndrome. Not as beautiful as her sisters and creepily attracted to burn victims and older men, she really needs something to occupy herself. I suggest that she either embark on a torrid affair with one of the footmen (not Thomas!), or beg Matthew to buy her a plane so she can become an aviatrix. I can also envision her writing smutty novels from a secret room somewhere in the castle.

Bates and Anna. I don’t doubt that their love is true, but will it survive Bates’s incarceration? Perhaps she should get Mrs. Patmore to bake a nice cake with a file in it, get past the warden by flashing some leg, then she and Bates can go off on a Bonnie-and-Clyde-like crime spree. To heck with being a valet and a housekeeper/ladies’ maid–crime probably pays better.

Lady Sybil and Whats-his-name, the chauffeur turned Irish revolutionary. Boring. Send them off to Canada.

O’Brien and Thomas. I really need to see these two scheming and sabotaging each other, but O’Brien seems to be embracing The Force these days. Oh, she’s making some threats, but I don’t know what kind of teeth are behind them. Here’s how I would handle: Thomas finds out about the above-mentioned smut novels being penned by Lady Edith and embarks on a blackmailing scheme. O’Brien snoops into Edith’s things and finds the novels, which she greatly enjoys. O’Brien must choose between joining in with blackmailing Edith, or destroying Thomas. Perhaps she can find a way to do both!

Lady Cora and Lord Robert. What do these people do all day? They dress nicely, I’ll say that. Okay, readers, who wants to take a shot at making up a storyline for these two. I got nothin’!

The Dowager Countess. I adore her. I would write her into every possible scene. Yeah, yeah, I know. She wouldn’t be nearly as much of a treat if we saw her more often. But I don’t care. I want her zinging everyone, all the time.

How about you? Are you a Downton Abbey fan? Have you ever wanted to rewrite someone else’s story your way?

So What’s Your Book About?

Last weekend was the first time I saw any of my extended family since the news I was going to be published came out. I knew in the back of my mind they would be curious about it. But I pushed those thoughts away hoping they would all enjoy the free alcohol too much to ask. I was wrong.

I’m not one to talk about my writing to people who aren’t writers. Because, frankly, they just don’t get it. In fact I was hesitant to start calling myself a writer unitl recently.Different people have different definitions of what WRITER means. For me it means being able to show what’ve I got to the world and get paid for it. But I digress. When my mother’s friend asked me about my road to publication I was fine. It was a fairly easy question to answer. Query letter→ Agent→ Contract. But then came the dreaded question….

What’s your book about? I’ve never been able to answer this question smoothly. When my father asked I actually said I DON’T KNOW.

“What do you mean you don’t know? You wrote it. Didn’t you?”

Of course I had written the book. It is something I labored over for five months. The characters are people I grew to love. So why couldn’t I share their story?

I’ve never pitched a book before even though I have lorded over the pitch sessions for two years at my local conference. I’m still amazed at how people do it. A few minutes to condense months of hard work into a few lines. I’m not suggesting that other people shouldn’t do if they find the thought terrifying. They should go for it. I just knew that I couldn’t. If I couldn’t eloquently tell my mother what it was about then I had no hope with an agent or editor. And thankfully I didn’t have to.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever get out pitching my book. The publishing process is full of pitches. Most importantly to the reader. I know I have to get better at this. My family party was my first chance. It was horribly pathetic. My first attempt went something like this.

“Um… It’s about a lawyer who um, quits her jobs, dumps her boyfriend and opens up a boutique and starts a blog.”

GAG! Even I wouldn’t buy that book. And while that generally is what the book is about there is so much more to it. It’s about body image. And the complicated relationships between sisters. It’s about being adopted and feeling like an outsider. It’s about self-worth and confidence and friendship and trust. And about learning to love yourself while falling in love. Throw in a father with Asperger’s and a hippie feminist man hating mother and a hunky cop and you’ve got yourself a book. Oh and did I mention it was funny. Or at least I think so. And it’s called FAT BOTTOM GIRL. At least for now. The publisher might want to change it.

Can you slap that on the back of a book? Probably not. But it’s the best I can do for now. I’m working on it. I promise.

And if anybody is remotely interested here are the first few lines from the book.

Big Fat Fattie and Other Words for Fat

Plus Sized

Zaftig

Big

Overweight

Plump

Chubby

Portly

Fleshy

Curvy

Chunky

Heavy

Rubenesque

 

“Ellison? Is that you, honey?”

 Not today. Please not today. Ellis Garret shut her eyes and prayed hard as she stood in line at Hot Lava Java. Really, really hard. Maybe if she appeased the right god she would be spared the torture that was Mrs. Agatha Toomey.

Jesus? Buddha? Zeus? 

“Ellison? Yoo hoo!”

Are you there God? It’s me, Ellis. Can’t a girl get a miracle here?

“Ellis!”

Apparently not.

All she really wanted was a cookie and not just any cookie, but one of those super big Black and White cookies with the yummy icing and the oh-so-soft cake-like bottom. She knew she wasn’t supposed to be eating delicious giant cookies. It was only Tuesday. Cookies—any and all junk food were off-limits today. She was supposed to be good on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and everyday that didn’t start with a Sat or a Sun.  Thou shall not eat high-calorie snacks on weekdays.   

“Yes, Mrs. Toomey. It is me,” Ellis said, plastering a smile on her face that she hoped looked genuine. She turned to face the annoyingly slender woman holding a cup of green tea. Is that you? Mrs. Toomey asked the question as if she didn’t know. Well, duh. Ellis wasn’t one of those girls who was easy to miss.

 “I’m a little surprised to see you. What are you doing here?” Mrs. Toomey looked Ellis up and down with her judgmental eyes, seeming to know already why Ellis was there. Fat girls shouldn’t eat cookies.

Today I’m seeking advice. Help me to understand how to pitch my book. How to make it sound so great that people can’t help but to buy it. How do you do it? Like pitching? Hate pitching? Avoid it like the plague? Any and all comments are welcome.

How to Suck at Dating

I’m envious of those people who find their true love in high school or college for the simple reason they no longer have to date. My parents were lucky like that. They met when my father showed up at my mother’s door looking for somebody else. She was 16 then. 5 kids and 36 years of marriage later and they are still together.

Le Sigh. I keep opening my front door waiting to see if my true love is there but the most I find is a package from Amazon that usually contains a book about somebody else’s happily ever after. Until then, like millions of other singles I am forced to date.

I hate dating. HATE IT. Mostly because I’m a little socially awkward. The only things I can talk about in great detail is writing, romance novels or my job. I’m super good at random trivia and would kick butt on a game show but unless my date is going to give me a pop quiz that thread of conversation is going to end rather quickly.

I also hate dating because it is so nerve-racking. What to wear? How to do my hair? How much cleavage to show? And then there is the food thing. Can’t order linguine. Slurping pasta on a date is strictly not allow. Don’t order anything with garlic or onions. Sandwiches aren’t good because they have the potential to fall apart. (I know this for a fact because a pickle fell down my shirt on one horrifying occasion.)

Despite all my crazy neurotic worrying I usually manage to pull myself together and be a pretty good date. I show up on time, with a smile, looking great and I never order the most expensive thing on the menu. I’m sure men go through their own panicky process before going on a date but I wonder if it is at all the same for them as it is for us. I wonder if they use the same markers to determine whether a date was a good one.

I’ll give you an example from my own life. Last year I went on a blind date with a guy who asked me to meet him at the “entertainment district” in a nearby town. No problem. I was familiar with the place. But as I’m pulling in he calls me and tells me to park in the garage behind Barnes and Noble because that garage is free. No problem, except there are at least four different roads that lead into the center and depending on which way you take the either garage could be considered behind.

I get another call 5 minutes later. “Where are you?”

“On the first floor of the garage in the second spot.”

He sighs. “Just meet me in front of BN.”

I walk up to the store with a big smile on my face ready to charm the man I will be spending the next few hours with and do you know the first thing he says to me? Nope it’s not hello, or how are you, or that you are the most beautiful woman in the world, but you don’t follow directions.

Oh no he didn’t!

Now if he would have said this with a smile I might have laughed it off. But he didn’t smile and a IMHO I think a nice guy would have said something to the effect of, “I’m sorry, I should have been more clear.” Or “I should have given you the name of the garage.”

But he didn’t say that and I being me(who loves to be right) said,”Look at where we are standing. From this angle which way would you say is behind Barnes and Noble?”

He shut up and I was the tiniest bit annoyed. Later on in the date as we sat down for dinner he asked me how I take constructive criticism. I immediately get my back up. “What do you mean how do I take constructive criticism?”

“Like if I told you some thing you could improve on, things you might want to work on, how would you take that?”

“What do you mean things I could improve on? What do I need to improve on? Are you going to fill out a comment card at the end of our evening?”

He raised his hands in defense and laughed, “Well now I’m not going to say anything. You’ll probably bite my head off.”

Jackass. I tried to push away my extreme irritation and finish the night so I could get the hell out of there. Of course the neurotic nut job in me was wracking my brain thinking what it was I could improve on. All we did was go to a movie. There wasn’t even much of a chance to talk. I know I didn’t say anything offensive.

Of course the date doesn’t end quickly. He decides to order dessert and coffee! After we talk about him for another twenty minutes I get the grilling of my life. What political party do you affiliate yourself with? How’s your credit? How many kids do you want? Where do you see yourself living in the next ten years? What’s your attitude towards alcohol?

SERIOUSLY? I felt like I was on a job interview. Finally the date ends. He walks me back to my car and I high tail it out of there. An hour later I get a text message.

“So did you feel the chemistry?”

Not sure how I could politely say hell no I instead typed. “Did you?”

He responds, “Yes, I can definitely see a future with you.”

Oh boy. Apparently he saw that date in a totally different light.  Yes, I did go out with him again. I thought maybe I was being a bit harsh and wanted to give him another shot. But when he said this, “What did you tell your friends about me? Did you tell them I was intelligent and successful and have a great smile,” in a needy, please validate me sort of way, told me three times how much money he made and took me outside just so he could show off his brand new BMW, I knew we were not meant to be.

I probably should immortalize him in one of my books. He might the reason I switched to writing romantic comedies soon after we met. Now I can see the funny side of falling in love.

And just for the record neither parking garages were free and the one I parked in was closer. So I was right all along. Vindication!

Your turn! Ever had a bad date? Ever meet a person that just rubbed you the wrong way? Been on a date lately?  Like dating. Hate dating? Can you top my story? (I’ve got others.) Any and all comments are welcome.