Monday, January 30, 2012

Cozy Up Book Hop Winners!

Winners Announced for the Cozy Up Blog Hop!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog for the Blog Hop. I've chosen 5 Winners, and I'll be contacting you by email and sending you all my books in the eformat of your choice.

Deciding on the winners was tough that I will offer everyone who entered my contest their choice of one of my books. I need email addresses for Lilah and desitheblonde.

  drum roll...

The winners are:

Denise Z

Look for my email everyone

Thank you!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Indie Chick Anne R. Allen--A Kinky Adventure

This week I'm delighted to have Anne R. Allen stop by my blog. Anne's contribution to the Indie Chicks Anthology is her wild ride in the world of publishing! I'm sure you'll enjoy her story.


By Anne R. Allen

When I started writing funny women’s fiction fifteen years ago, if anybody had given me a realistic idea of my chances for publication, I’d have chosen a less stressful hobby, like do-it-yourself brain surgery, professional frog herding, or maybe staging an all-Ayatollah drag revue in downtown Tehran.

As a California actress with years of experience of cattle-drive auditions, greenroom catfights and vitriolic reviewers, I thought I had built up enough soul-calluses to go the distance. But nothing had prepared me for the glacial waiting periods; the bogus, indifferent and/or suddenly-out-of-business agents; and the heartbreaking, close-but-no-cigar reads from big-time editors—all the rejection horrors that make the American publishing industry the impenetrable fortress it has become.

But some of us are too writing-crazed to stop ourselves. I was then, as now, sick in love with the English language.

I had three novels completed. A fourth had run as a serial in a California entertainment weekly. One of my stories had been short-listed for an international prize, and a play had been produced to good reviews. I was bringing in a few bucks—mostly with short pieces for local magazines and freelance editing.

But meantime, my savings had evaporated along with my abandoned acting career; my boyfriend had ridden his Harley into the Big Sur sunset; my agent was hammering me to write formula romance; and I was contemplating a move to one of the less fashionable neighborhoods of the rust belt.

Even acceptances turned into rejections: a UK zine that had accepted one of my stories folded. But when the editor sent the bad news, he mentioned he’d taken a job with a small UK book publisher—and did I have any novels?

I sent him one my agent had rejected as “too over the top.” Within weeks, I was offered a contract by my new editor—a former BBC comedy writer—for FOOD OF LOVE. Included was an invitation to come over the pond to do some promotion.

So I rented out my beach house, packed my bags and bought a ticket to Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, where my new publishers had recently moved into a 19th century former textile mill on the banks of the river Trent—the river George Eliot fictionalized as “the Floss.”

George Eliot. I was going to be working and living only a few hundred yards from the ruins of the house where she wrote her classic novel about the 19th century folk who lived and died by the power of Lincolnshire’s great tidal river. Maybe some of that greatness would rub off on me.

At the age of… well, I’m not telling…I was about to have the adventure of my life.

I knew the company published mostly erotica, but was branching into mainstream and literary fiction. They had already published the first novel of a distinguished poet, and a famous Chicago newspaper columnist was in residence, awaiting the launch of his new book.

But when I arrived, I found the great Chicagoan had left in a mysterious fit of pique, the “erotica” was seriously hard core kink, and the old building on the Trent was more of the William Blake Dark Satanic variety than George Elliot’s bucolic “Mill on the Floss.”

Some of my fears subsided when I was greeted by a friendly group of unwashed, fiercely intellectual young men who presented me with generous quantities of warm beer, cold meat pies and galleys to proof. After a beer or two, I found myself almost comprehending their northern accents.

I held it together until I saw my new digs: a grimy futon and an old metal desk, hidden behind stacks of book pallets in the corner of an unheated warehouse, about a half a block from the nearest loo. My only modern convenience was an ancient radio abandoned by a long-ago factory girl.

I have to admit to some tears of despair.

Until, from the radio, Big Ben chimed six o’clock.

That’s six pm, GMT.

Greenwich Mean Time. The words hit me with all the sonorous power of Big Ben itself. I had arrived at the mean, the middle, the center that still holds—no matter what rough beasts might slouch through the cultural deserts of the former empire. This was where my language, my instrument, was born.

I clutched my galley-proof to my heart. I might still be a rejected nobody in the land of my birth—but I’d landed on the home planet: England. And there, I was a published novelist. Just like George Eliot.

Three years later, I returned to California, older, fatter (the English may not have the best food, but their BEER is another story) and a lot wiser. That Chicagoan’s fit of pique turned out to be more than justified. The company was swamped in debt. They never managed to get me US distribution. Shortly before my second book THE BEST REVENGE was to launch, the managing partner withdrew his capital, sailed away and mysteriously disappeared off his yacht—his body never found. The company sputtered and died.

And I was back in the slush pile again.

But I had a great plot for my next novel.

Unfortunately, nobody wanted it. I was now tainted with the “published-to-low-sales-numbers label and my chances were even worse than before.

So I wrote two more novels. Nobody wanted them either.

Then I started a blog. I figured I could at least let other writers benefit from my mistakes. My blog followers grew. And grew. The blog won some awards. My Alexa and Klout ratings got better and better. Finally, publishers started approaching ME. (There’s a moral for writers here—social networking works.)

And finally, six years later, another publisher, Popcorn Press, fell in love with FOOD OF LOVE and sent me a contract. Soon after, they contracted to publish THE BEST REVENGE, too.

And this September, a brand new indie ebook publisher called Mark Williams International Digital Publishing asked if I had anything else ready to publish.

Just happen to have a few unpubbed titles handy, said I.

He liked them.

So in October and November of 2011, those three new comic mysteries will appear as ebooks: THE GATSBY GAME, GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY, and SHERWOOD, LTD (that’s the novel inspired by my English adventures.) Popcorn Press will publish paper versions in 2012. THE BEST REVENGE debuted as an ebook in December, with the paper book to follow in February.

A fifteen-year journey finally seems to be paying off.

Did I make some mistakes? Oh yeah—a full set of them. But would I wish away my English adventures?

Not a chance.



Twitter @annerallen

Authorpages:  At , at , on Facebook 

(Romantic comedy/mystery: MWiDP) A penniless socialite becomes a 21st century Maid Marian, but is “Robin” planning to kill her?  Buy at ,, or Barnes and Noble


(Romantic comedy/mystery: Popcorn Press) A suddenly-broke 1980s celebutante runs off to California with nothing but her Delorean and her designer furs, looking for her long-lost gay best friend—and finds herself accused of murder. Buy at or and in paper at Popcorn Press or in paper at .

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cozy Up Book Hop

The Cozy Up Book Hop is on! Sponsored by Mommy Reads Too Much!

I'll be giving away a collection of all my ebooks, including my novels: Vestal Virgin--Suspense in Ancient Rome, Hetaera--Suspense in Ancient Athens and my short story collections: Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction) and Ghost Plane and Other Disturbing Tales. That's a $9.96 value. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post--tell me why you want these books! I'm willing to give away 5 of these packages in whatever eformat you prefer!

So cozy up! And make sure you visit all of these cool blogs:


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Indie Chick Sarah Woodbury -- Turning Medieval

I'm delighted to welcome novelist Sarah Woodbury back to my blog. This Indie Chick writes wonderful stories about Medieval Wales. Her road to writing required perserverance in the face of rejection. Please read her story from The Indie Chicks Anthology.

Turning Medieval

by Sarah Woodbury

Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint those moments in your life where everything is suddenly changed.  When you look across the room and say to yourself, I’m going to marry him.  Or stare down at those two pink lines on the pregnancy test, when you’re only twenty-two and been married for a month and a half and are living on only $800 a month because you’re both still in school and my God how is this going to work?

And sometimes it’s a bit harder to remember. 

Until I was eleven, my parents tell me they thought I was going to be a ‘hippy’.  I wandered through the trees, swamp, and fields of our 2 ½ acre lot, making up poetry and songs and singing them to myself.  I’m not sure what happened by the time I’d turned twelve, whether family pressures or the realities of school changed me, but it was like I put all that creativity and whimsicalness into a box on a high shelf in my mind.  By the time I was in my late-teens, I routinely told people: ‘I haven’t a creative bone in my body.’  It makes me sad to think of all those years where I thought the creative side of me didn’t exist. 

When I was in my twenties and a full-time mother of two, my husband and I took our family to a picnic with his graduate school department.  I was pleased at how friendly and accepting everyone seemed.

And then one of the other graduate students turned to me out of the blue and said, ‘do you really think you can jump back into a job after staying home with your kids for five or ten years?’

I remember staring at him, not knowing what to say.  It wasn’t that I hadn’t thought about it, but that it didn’t matter—it couldn’t matter—because I had this job to do and the consequences of staying home with my kids were something I’d just have to face when the time came.

Fast forward ten years and it was clear that this friend had been right in his incredulity.  I was earning $15/hr. as a contract anthropologist, trying to supplement our income while at the same time holding down the fort at home.  I remember the day it became clear that this wasn’t working.  I was simultaneously folding laundry, cooking dinner, and slogging through a report I didn’t want to write, trying to get it all in before the baby (number four, by now) woke up.  I put my head down, right there on the dryer, and cried.

It was time to seek another path.  Time to follow my heart and do what I’d wanted to do for a long time, but hadn’t had the courage, or the belief in myself to make it happen.

At the age of thirty-seven, I started my first novel, just to see if I could.  I wrote it in six weeks and it was bad in a way that all first books are bad.  It was about elves and magic stones and will never see the light of day.  But it taught me, I can do this!

My husband told me, ‘give it five years,’ and in the five years that followed, I experienced rejection along my newfound path.  A lot of it.  Over seventy agents, and then dozens and dozens of editors (once I found an agent), read my books and passed them over.  Again and again.

Meanwhile, I just wrote.  A whole series.  Then more books, for a total of eight, seven of which I published in 2011.

And I’m happy to report that, even though I still think of myself as staid, my extended family apparently has already decided that those years where I showed little creativity were just a phase.  The other day, my husband told me of several conversations he had, either with them or overheard, in which it became clear they thought I was so alternative and creative—so far off the map—that I didn’t even remember there was a map. 

I’m almost more pleased about that than anything else.  Almost.  Through writing, I’ve found a community of other writers, support and friendship from people I hadn’t known existed a few years ago, and best of all, thousands of readers have found my books in the last year.  Here’s to thousands more in the years to come . . .


Links to my books:  Amazon and Amazon UK
Smashwords  BarnesandNoble  Apple

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Freedom of Speech at Risk: Sign the Petition Against Internet Censorship

Wikipedia is blacked-out today in protest against two pending bills. Quoting Google:

Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.

Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.

For more information, check out this article from Fox News, and this video from the Associated Press.

Please take action.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Indie Chick--Suzanne Tyrpak

Sometimes life changes in a day. I work for an airline, and this past summer a gigantic jet-stair ran over my toes. That got my attention. I’d been asking for a break, and boy did I get one! My story has a happy ending: the accident gave me time to finish my recently released novel, Hetaera—Suspense in Ancient Athens. It also gave me time to connect with the Indie Chicks; what a fantastic group of women! We wrote an anthology together and all the proceeds go to fighting breast cancer—the disease that took my mother. I hope you enjoy, Holes, my contribution to the Indie Chicks Anthology. Sometimes discovering our holes, our weakness, allows us to become more compassionate and ultimately more whole.


I used to think I had to be perfect. Of course, I fell short of perfection on a regular basis so I frequently felt like a failure.

The only way to prevent failure is to hide. If we don’t put ourselves out there, we can’t fail.

To prevent myself from failing, I hid in a fantasy world. As a young child, I longed to be a ballerina. I loved to dance, but more than that, I wanted to escape into the fantasy world of the ballet. I wanted to live inside a fairytale, and in my mind, I did. I invented worlds I could escape to, perfect worlds that seemed more real to me than life. Meanwhile, I ate, and ate, and ate. Not ideal, if you want to be a ballerina. My reality never matched my inner world.

I created this pattern, this external and internal disparity, throughout my life. I brought it into my marriage, convincing myself that my marriage was perfect, while in reality it was a mess. Instead of leaving, I found escape in writing. I lost myself other times: ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Rome—worlds as far away from my reality as possible. In my writing, I disappeared for hours, days, years. I got a job working at an airline so I could travel and do research. I got an agent. I felt sure I would be published.

Then my world fell apart. After nineteen years of marriage, my husband wanted a divorce. I fought it. Divorce didn’t fit my idea of perfection, my fairytale. I viewed this loss as a disaster, but in truth it was an opening, a hole leading me to greater understanding and compassion for myself and others.

I was broke, trying to live on what I made at the airline. I was lonely. I had no time to write. Worst of all, I had to admit my life wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t perfect. Forced to accept myself with all my imperfections, I discovered that the more I could accept myself, the more I could accept others. Even my ex-husband. To this day, we remain friends.

Because I no longer had time to sit down and write for hours, the kind of time it takes to write a novel, I wrote short stories. I wrote about my experience, about my struggles as a woman of fifty going through divorce and entering the dating world. Initially, I wrote the stories for myself as therapy. Then I began to share the stories with my writing group. They encouraged me to submit the stories to magazines, and several were published. I read a couple of stories at our local library and people laughed. Then my good friend, Blake Crouch, convinced me to publish the stories on Kindle. A frightening prospect. What if my stories weren’t good enough? What if they weren’t perfect?

At first I resisted. I’d had two literary agents, and a longtime dream of being traditionally published. Self-publishing didn’t fit my idea of perfection. But, in reality, I no longer had an agent, and I hadn’t worked on a novel for several years. What did I have to lose? Nothing. So I published Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction).

My world changed, not because I was finally published, but because I changed. I finally found the confidence to pursue my dream despite my imperfections. I found the courage to stop hiding and put myself out into the world. This freed me.

I rewrote my novel, Vestal Virgin—suspense in ancient Rome. Originally, my characters were a bit flat. Why? Because they were too perfect! I hadn’t looked at the manuscript for two years, and a lot had changed for me in that time. I rewrote the book with a cold eye: cutting, digging deeper. My characters became multifaceted, real people with flaws.

I became busier and busier, caught in a whirlwind, trying to hold down a full-time job, write, promote my books and have a life. Trying, once again, to be perfect.

And then the universe stepped in.

I had an accident at work. While moving a jet stair (which weighed over 1,000 pounds) away from the aircraft, my right foot got crushed. I fell, screaming, onto the tarmac while passengers onboard the plane watched. A coworker rushed me to the hospital for the first of three emergency surgeries. I suffered intense pain due to nerve damage, broken and dislocated toes and, ultimately, amputation of a toe. As I write this, I’m still recovering.

I spent five weeks at a nursing home, a good place for me (even though most of the patients were over eighty years old), because it would have been close to impossible for me to take care of myself at home. While there, I had a chance to meet a lot of the patients and residents. All of us had obvious holes.

I learned a lot from the other patients. And I was forced to face my own mortality. Aging offers us the gift of acceptance. In order to age gracefully, we must the release the idea of perfection. We learn there are some things we can change, and some things we must accept. And, when we accept what is, we may find the good in even the most difficult situations. We learn to accept the holes in ourselves and others. We even welcome imperfection.

Since the accident, I’ve been thinking about holes a lot. I've been thinking about being whole, in relation to loss. How can loss make a person whole? I’ve learned that loss can make a person strong, more self-reliant. Loss can make us more compassionate to ourselves and others.

Where I had a toe, there’s now a hole, and that hole reminds me that I’m not perfect. But, despite my imperfection, I am whole. I am me. It would be ridiculous to think that I am any less of a person, because I’m missing a toe, because I have a hole. Just as it’s ridiculous for any of us to think we must be perfect.

Physical wounds can’t be hidden as easily as emotional and psychological wounds. And that’s a gift. Physical wounds make us confront our mortality, our humanity. Physical wounds can’t be denied. They are tangible and force us to accept ourselves, with all our imperfections.
It's impossible to get through life without being wounded. Some wounds are obvious. Others are internal, even spiritual: the loss of the ability to trust, to connect deeply, to hold a friend and know that you are loved.

We run away from wounds. Try not to look at them. We think they're signs of weakness, but our wounds—the holes in us—provide a doorway, a soft spot in our armor. We walk around armored, protecting ourselves with platitudes and false smiles, never touching our own vulnerabilities, afraid to share our tender rawness with another or even with ourselves.

If we can touch the tender spots, allow ourselves to feel fear, sorrow, loss, we become closer to wholeness. The more we accept our holes, the more compassion we can have for others. When we feel compassion we are able to connect. We are able to expose our soft underbelly to another human being and share the salt of our tears, the sweetness of our joy. That’s what I want to write about, that’s what I want to share, because salt makes all the difference between a bland, protected life, and a true life: pulsing, bloody, messy, passionate and truly whole.

Flaws, or holes, are what make a character seem real—in life and in fiction. Perfection is impermanent, an illusion. A person who seems too perfect is repulsive. We don’t trust him. We know that person can’t be real. Holes speak of truth. Holes allow us to connect, to ourselves and to each other. Our holes make us human, make us beautiful. Holes allow the light to shine through.

If someone had asked me last spring, “Would you give up a toe in order to learn, in order to have time to write your next novel?” I might have said, “Yes.”

Funny, how life works.

Proceeds from The Indie Chicks Anthology benefit breast cancer research. Just .99 cents!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

L.C. Evans--A Five Star Life

I opened my email today and saw a message from Red Adept that I'd hoped never to see, a message much more devastating than a mere one star review for one of my books: The World has Lost...L.C. Evans

I met Linda on Kindleboards. She welcomed me, became a mentor and a friend. She read my stories and liked them! Gave me encouragement, made me laugh. Her book, We Interrupt This Date, is the first book I bought for my kindle. I opened it, and couldn't stop reading. I love Linda's southern style, her warmth, her sense of humor. Her beauty as a person shines through her words.

If you haven't read Linda's books, I encourage you to do so. Buying her books will help her family pay the medical bills for Linda's battle with cancer. The world has lost a light today, but Linda shines on through her writing. Her heart still touches mine.

What a beautiful light.

Books by L.C. Evans: