Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Win an advance copy of The Great Panty Caper or a Victoria's Secret gift card for showing us your underwear (or, uh, someone who steals them)

Yesterday, I shared the brand new cover for my upcoming novella, The Great Panty Caper.

I also shared photos of my underwear.

OK, it was actually a photo of my cat wearing my underwear. That makes it totally legit.

In case you missed the post, here you go. It's worth checking out not just for the underwear pics, but for the inside scoop on how the folks at Coliloquy came up with my awesome new book cover (plus you'll get a chance to enter to win some awesome prizes).

Speaking of prizes, the Coliloquy team has a few more to give away.

In honor of  The Great Panty Caper, Coliloquy is holding The Cutest Panty Thief Photo Contest.

How to play
All you have to do is post to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, or Pinterest using the hashtag #pantycaper and a photo of the cutest panty thief in your life. Maybe it's your dog or your toddler, or perhaps it's the pervy neighbor next door. We're not here to judge.

The Coliloquy folks are, though, and they're also here to give away prizes to winners. One lucky participant every single day (September 23 through October 4) will receive a free advance reading copy of The Great Panty Caper. All participants will be entered to win a $50 Victoria's Secret gift card. Winners will be announced October 7, and The Great Panty Caper will be released October 8.

Sounds fun, huh? Totally worth taking a photo of your underwear. For the record, you don't need to show your unmentionables. Only a photo of the thief is required, so get creative with this one.

Questions? Email pantycapers@coliloquy.com or post your question in the comments here.

And for luck, here are a couple pics of my favorite panty thief:

Blue Cat models for the cover of The Great Panty Caper.

Work it, Blue Cat, work it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Why I put panties on my cat's head (and other things authors never imagine themselves saying)

There's a moment in every author's life when she finds herself staring blankly at the screen muttering, "I got nothin'."

I'm not talking about writer's block. I'm talking about the inevitable moment your publisher sends you a form requesting your ideas for cover art and you realize you have absolutely no idea what a visual representation of your work might look like.

I recently had a publisher ask what I didn't want on my cover, which proved to be a bit easier. I sent them a list that included, "Boogers, spaceships, Nazis, mushrooms, aliens, or Fabio."

I'm told this wasn't particularly helpful.

That's why I was so delighted by the process when the good folks at Coliloquy sat down to create a cover for my upcoming novella, The Great Panty Caper. Those of you who've read the first two episodes of Getting Dumped are already familiar with my quirky little romantic caper series starring two sleuthing sisters and a choose-your-own-adventure format (though if you haven't read the first two in the series, you'll be happy to know The Great Panty Caper is a standalone novella that doesn't require any knowledge of the first two episodes).

One of the sleuthing sisters has a large, cantankerous, blue-gray feline named Blue Cat. Because I'm lazy  unimaginative  fully committed to crafting realistic prose inspired by my own world views and life experiences, I also have a large, cantankerous, blue-gray feline named Blue Cat.

So when the Coliloquy folks began brainstorming cover art ideas in anticipation of my October 8 release date, they sent me the following request:

Could you please send us a photo of Blue Cat with panties on his head?

They helpfully provided sample images and tips for adorning my pet with underwear. It occurred to me this was the first time I had a legitimate business reason to send someone a photo of my kitty in a thong.

Blue Cat was not amused.

But the Coliloquy cover artist was inspired. And now I've been given official permission to share the fabulous cover art for my new novella, The Great Panty Caper. Drumroll, please?

I adore it! Somehow, the artist managed to perfectly capture the vibe of my offbeat little romantic caper about high fashion, sisterly love, weekend flings, a grouchy cat, vanishing underthings, a love triangle, and a landfill. I'm totally in love with it, as is Blue Cat.

Whaddya think? Are you as smitten with the cover as I am? Let's celebrate!

The Coliloquy team is giving away some super awesome prizes, including a couple Amazon gift cards and a prize package that includes the two previous Getting Dumped episodes plus brand new novella The Great Panty Caper.

Wanna win? Here you go:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 9, 2013

Why you shouldn't ask me to describe my own book

Several weeks ago, the good folks at Coliloquy asked me to submit a description for my novella they're releasing October 8. You may recall, Coliloquy is the publisher known for interactive fiction, which in the case of my Getting Dumped series, is sorta like a grown-up version of choose-your own adventure.

You would think the author of the series should be uniquely qualified to write a description of the latest release. You would think is the key part of that phrase, because I am abysmally bad at this. Blame it on the fact that I'm currently scrambling to keep up with scheduled releases at three different publishing houses (four novels and two novellas slated for release in a 12 month period, thankyouverymuch) or blame it on the fact that I suck at writing blurbs for my own books.

I'm inclined to think it's the latter.

In any case, this is what I turned in a few weeks ago:

Eager for a break following the drama GETTING DUMPED (which previous readers will remember fondly and new readers won’t miss), JJ and Lori head to Seattle for a fashion trade show. Their plans for a weekend of cocktails and sisterly bonding takes an unexpected turn when Lori discovers her panties missing from their hotel room. Determined to get to the bottom of it, the sisters set out to track down the thief with the help of some familiar friends and some wacky new acquaintances.

Not good. Not the worst thing I've ever written, but hardly what I want out there as the primary marketing copy for my next release.

Lucky for me, the Coliloquy team includes plenty of marketing-savvy folks who can string sentences together better than I can. On Friday afternoon, they sent me the following revised version of my blurb:

The Great Panty Caper 
JJ Shultz is torn between two hot men. So what’s a girl to do? Prolong the decision and escape to Seattle, of course! Especially when sister Lori invites her to a fashion trade show. 

But their plans for a weekend of cocktails and sisterly bonding go south when Lori’s panties disappear from their hotel room. It’s not just any pair of unmentionables – it’s Lori’s only prototype for a new product she’s almost ready to reveal. 

Determined to find Lori’s treasured trunks, the sisters set out to track down the thief, with the help of some friends at home, a few quirky new acquaintances, and a cat that can’t keep himself from shedding all over the evidence. 

What’s Cool from Coliloquy 
In The Great Panty Caper, Lori’s considering a weekend fling and you get to decide just how far she goes with tall, dark, and handsome. Dinner and flirting, or more? It’s up to you! In the meantime, JJ needs a little help figuring out which of her boyfriends to call for some sleuthing tips. Can she resist the urge to phone her hot English man? Or will the all-American hunk fulfill her needs?

The whole thing made me dance with joy, because it's so much better than what I'd written. It also made it clear they totally GET what this story is about and how to market it.

It got me thinking about whether authors are sometimes too close to their own stories to write good blurbs. Is that the case, or like I said – do I just suck at it?

Either way, here are a couple more examples of what I originally wrote for a couple of my stories, followed by the version the publisher developed:

For Eat, Play, Lust (my new novella with Entangled)

My version
Cami Pressman is a yoga instructor with a secret. It’s not a prison record or gang tattoo—it’s worse, at least in Cami’s opinion. 

Her lust for junk food puts her at odds with her health nut mother, not to mention her own goal to never again be the overweight girl she was in college. Still, Cami can’t shake her craving for sinful, mouthwatering wickedness in the form of…well, tater tots. Hey, a girl’s gotta have vices. 

When Cami meets Paul Hammond, her lust for junk food isn’t the only thing making her tingle. Paul is a gourmet chef with a crush on Cami and a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. He’s looking to score some fitness tips, and maybe a date with his hot instructor. But is there any hope for something serious between a goofball with a golden skillet and a girl with a serious case of junk food lust? 

Or is serious the last thing they need?

Their version
Cami Pressman is a yoga instructor with a lifelong secret love of junk food. Not even an irresistible man can replace the mouthwatering wickedness of her favorite foods. 

Until, that is, Paul Hammond signs up for her class. He’s a gourmet chef looking to score some fitness tips, and a date with Cami. Suddenly Cami’s lust for junk food isn’t the only thing making her tingle. 

When this sinful chef and hot yoga teacher eat, play, and lust together, they just might bring their obsession to a new level.

For Believe it or Not  (my last romantic comedy with Sourcebooks) 

My version: 
It’s your typical “reluctant fake psychic” meets “jaded owner of a male strip club” love story. With a twist.
Violet McGinn doesn’t believe in psychic powers. That’s one thing she has in common with Drew Watson, the infuriatingly hot owner of the bar next door to Miss Moonbeam’s psychic studio. There’s just one problem – Miss Moonbeam is Violet’s mother. And for the next few weeks, Violet must fill mom’s shoes at the psychic studio.
Drew can’t figure out who’s nuttier – Miss Moonbeam, or her gorgeous daughter trying desperately to live the normal, straight-laced life mom never gave her. The one thing he knows for sure is that he doesn’t need another type-A female meddling with his life, career, or heart. So why can’t he get her out of his head?
Before Drew and Violet know what hit them, they discover that while normal may be nice, weird can be wonderful. Even worse, there just might be something to this psychic crap after all…

Their version: 
Do you believe in...accounting? 
Numbers never lie, so Violet McGinn found safe haven in the most boring profession she could find. Until her renowned psychic mother lands in the hospital and Violet has to run her business. Now you can have your taxes filed and your aura read, in one convenient location. 

Do you believe in...music? 
Drew Watson is the jaded owner of the local hot spot next door, and doesn't need a single thing except a good crowd to dance to what he's spinning on Saturday night. 

Do you believe in...love? 
The only thing Violet and Drew seem to have in common is that neither believes in that psychic hoo—hah. Except Drew seems to play exactly the right song at exactly the right time. And truth be told, it makes Violet's heart dance just a little ... 

Pretty different, huh? What do you think of the two versions? Am I the only person fascinated by the differences between how an author describes his/her work and how the publisher does it? Please share!

Monday, September 2, 2013

If I write what I know, I must know a lot of perverts

I was typing away last Monday night when I realized I needed to do some research.

"Hey, Honey?" I called to my gentleman friend.

"Yeah?" he hollered back from his station at the kitchen sink, where he was dutifully unstopping the garbage disposal.

"Can I borrow you a minute?"

"What for?"

"Well," I called, glancing back at the scene in my manuscript. "If I came up behind you braless and topless wearing high-heeled shoes, I need to know where my boobs would come into contact with your back. I'd also like you to describe the sensation."

There was a brief pause. Then he appeared in the office with  dishtowel slung over his shoulder and a big grin on his face. "I'm really glad you write romance and not science fiction."

I posted an abbreviated version of the conversation on Facebook, soliciting a few chuckles from readers. One person remarked that the research was only valid if my hero and heroine were precisely the same height as my gentleman friend and myself.

"There's a reason I've never written a particularly tall heroine," I replied.

Surprisingly, this was the first time it had dawned on me. Every heroine I've ever written has been a bit on the shrimpy side. I'm five-foot-three-and-a-half (don't you dare try to take away that half inch). My heroines have all ranged in height between five feet and five-five. Since there's a law that says you'll be thrown in prison if you write a hero who's under six feet tall, this works out fine with my six-one gentleman friend.

Clearly, I haven't strayed  far from the old adage to "write what you know."

I've been thinking about this a lot since the release of last week. One of the most common questions I'm getting from readers is whether standup paddle yoga is a real thing. I'm not sure why it never occurred to me that people would think I'd made up the sport, but I never considered that when I set out to write a heroine who teaches yoga on a standup paddleboard. It was just the quintessential activity to represent the uber-fit, uber-outdoorsy vibe in Bend, Oregon (the setting of the story, and not-so-coincidentally, the town where I've lived for 16 years and where I work part-time as the PR & Communications Manager for the tourism bureau).

So for those who are wondering, yes, it's real. And yes, I've done it. If you've never tried standup paddleboarding, it's actually much more stable than you think it would be. That photo there of me in wheel pose on the Deschutes River? That was only my second time on a paddleboard. It was my dog's first time, and she thought it was great fun to lick my face as the instructor (Kama, not to be confused with Eat, Play, Lust's heroine, Cami) offered suggestions for moving from one pose to another.

After that I probably went home and cooked either an elaborate gourmet meal, or tater tots. Or both. Also major elements of Eat, Play, Lust, in case you're wondering.

So, yeah, I guess I do tend to write what I know. For the record, I've never once fallen off a standup paddleboard. I suppose you could say I didn't fully research the scene in which Paul and Cami topple into the water together, but if it makes you feel any better, I can promise the other scenes were thoroughly researched.

Especially the one with the honey.