Monday, August 19, 2013

Comprehending Twitter for a Social Networking Idiot

I'll admit it. I don't understand Twitter. My eyes glaze over as I watch the tweets wiz by at light speed in the few minutes I'm on it each day. It seems like you have to live on Twitter 24/7 and wade through a lot of gibberish to catch any tidbits worthwhile. Maybe it's my social media ignorance showing, but the whole thing boggles my mind. But I'm trying to get better at it.

I follow authors I read and who write books similar to what I write (mostly paranormal romance). I also follow those same authors' followers who are readers. I figure if they like those authors' books, they might also like mine. There's no sense in following authors who write non-fiction or murder mysteries or erotica. I don't write it. I don't read it. There's also no reason to follow their readers because they probably don't read what I write.

I follow book bloggers of paranormal romance to see what's trending. I just went through a following binge where I followed a bunch of UK book bloggers. I'm really interested to see what they're reading since I'd really like to break into the UK market.

I don't always auto-follow back other authors. Why? Because if I don't read what they write, I don't need their promo tweets clogging up my twitter feed. Sorry, but it's true. I've also found there are some authors out there who follow massive numbers of people, then unfollow them shortly after to free up their numbers so they can follow more people in an effort to increase their follower numbers. I ask you, if someone has 85,000+ followers, how in the world are they going to see, much less respond, to anybody's tweets?

I try to pay-it-forward. If someone retweets one of my tweets or mentions me or my books or a review, I try to return the favor. Not always right away, but if they tweet something interesting, I'll retweet it for them.

I try to tweet about non-writing things. I know I get bored with all the constant self-promo from some of the authors I follow. A little is fine, but a promo tweet every 15 minutes all day long is a bit too much. I want my followers to know I'm more than just a writer. I'm a person, too. Hopefully an interesting one on my good days.

One thing I realized as I was writing this post is that I wasn't following over half of the diner peeps on Twitter. Shame on me. I fixed that this morning. *G*

Friday, August 16, 2013

New Item on the Menu



There’s a new offering today, but not food.

What? You’d rather have a pie?

 Sorry, maybe next time. The item up today is a book. My book, actually. Today is release day. The Ugly Truth will now be available in all the regular outlets in both electronic and print format.

Here’s a little tease:
If she can't believe what she sees, can she believe what she feels?
When photojournalist Stephie Stephanova visits Ugly Creek, Tennessee to help her best friend, Madison, she expects a boring visit. Then she snaps a photo of something she shouldn't have seen—and falls for a man  she definitely shouldn't have.

Jake Blackwood can deal with his scarred face, though not with his scarred past. A savvy antiques store owner with an eye for the finer things, he's never seen anything so fine as Stephie. But his history with Madison hampers his desire to get closer. So does Stephie's relentless curiosity about his oddball town.

As Stephie probes Ugly Creek's mysteries, she's torn between loyalty to Madison and her feelings for Jake. But when her snapshot threatens the secret at the heart of Ugly Creek, Stephie realizes she will sacrifice anything to protect Jake and the town he loves.

Check it out:

Other retailers coming soon

Have a great weekend!

Cheryel

Friday, August 9, 2013

Spontaneous Combustion and the Joys of Blogging

Despite being an introvert, I’m a talker. Get me with familiar people and a subject I like or find interesting, and I can talk more than most people probably prefer. It’s odd, then, that the hardest part of blogging - for me, at least - is coming up with something to say. Earlier this week, a friend and I spent our entire lunch break engaged in an in-depth discussion of the darker thematic elements beneath the beautiful surface of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Two nights ago, my husband and I discussed accidental adult themes in children’s books after he snickered through our son’s bedtime story. But when I think about writing a blog post? Brick wall. I feel like I have absolutely nothing of interest to talk about.

So, I tried to make a list of things I find interesting for possible blog topics.

The blank page, she haunts me 

Yeah…even I thought it was boring.

I gave up. In a fit comprised of 2 parts self-loathing and 1 part indignation, I decided to check my email as a procrastination method (like you do). A long time ago, I subscribed to an RSS feed of MSNBC’s “Weird News” stories. I checked that folder for the first time in ages. There was a LOT of junk; crazed beauty queens and goats as landscapers and a dead shark found on the subway. Okay, that last one isn't so bad. 

Possible explanation for HOW the shark wound up in that subway car 

There were also some really interesting and thought provoking stories. Stories about spontaneous combustion, secret Korean unicorn lairs, and new Chupacabras. This, I can work with!

This is, actually, why I subscribed to the RSS feed in the first place. Not for the news stories, but for the tiny ideas that spark to life while reading them. Take spontaneous combustion, for example. I don’t know if spontaneous combustion is actually possible in a real world setting, but think of all the possibilities it presents as a story device. Paranormal and speculative fiction are my genres of choice, so let’s put spontaneous combustion into a fantastic setting. Was it really “spontaneous”, or is that a cover up to mask the more nefarious truth? Was the victim smuggling black market dragons and one escaped? Was the victim really a casualty in the war between the fire elementals and the water elementals? Did the victim steal a cursed ancient talisman that activated suddenly, with horrible consequences? The possibilities are only hemmed in by the limits of the imagination.

 So, perhaps it's time I start thinking of blogging (something I struggle with) the same way I think of brainstorming new story ideas (something I *love*). Maybe the weird scraps of daily life that can be turned slightly and used as the starting point of fiction can also fuel blog discussion.

What do you think? Is blogging something you love, or is it more of a chore? Do you pull your story ideas from the strange and fantastic elements of the world around us? Did you see Sharknado? What do you think is the sinister, magical force behind all these reports of spontaneous combustion?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Introducing New Characters Into An Ongoing Series


By Eilis Flynn

I have been pretty open about my unexpected fondness for the TV show ARROW. Of course, I became unexpectedly fond of it when a news report on the first episode referred to a character as a “wealthy billionaire.” I laughed and giggled like mad and of course, asked my husband, who was at this point staring at me as though I’d gone mad, if I could meet a “poor” billionaire. And after that, I looked forward to new episodes for other such silly bits, until I just found myself looking forward to the show, period. Somewhere along the way, I went from looking forward to it for the sake of mockery to looking forward to it for itself.

Of course, part of the fun—at least for me; my husband still thinks I’ve gone off my rocker, because he’s not nearly as fond of the show as I am, but then he doesn’t watch the show for not only linguistic silliness, but also half-dressed, extremely buff men doing buff-men type things—I mean, he watches it for the PLOT, such as it is. Yeah, I can’t quite believe it myself.

Anyway, part of the fun is the over-the-top opera-like drama. On this show, the characters do everything except sing arias about opera-like things. They’re very dark and somber and considering how often people keel over dead (just like in many operas, come to think of it), they deserve to be dark and somber. It’s a little bit opera, a little bit Hamlet, come to think of it.

Now, with all the dark and somberness, we hear that there will be a ray of breezy sunlight coming to this CW version of an opera. (Hey, hubby, if you’re reading this, as I know you do, you may want to stop reading at this point, because I’m going to reveal something about the show for the coming year. And I know you hate spoilers!) To this story of “wealthy billionaire” Oliver Queen, depressed, suffering from PTSD, guilt-ridden, and probably more than a little troubled, the show is adding another character from the DC Entertainment universe, but in contrast to the dark Ollie (aka “the Vigilante”) Queen, it’s going to be Barry “the Flash” Allen, a character who is (in virtually all his incarnations) bright and cheery, as bright and cheery as the red and yellow uniform he eventually dons. Maybe all that cheeriness will be a touch diminished for the sake of the darkness that swirls around this show (instead of the pun-loving, chili-making, girlfriend/wife-adoring character I’m familiar with, he’s going to be hunting for something or other), but he’s still going to be brighter than most everybody else, I assume.

Now, this addition to the cast interests me, because the last thing I heard, the character was being prepped for a feature film somewhere down the line. Now, they’re talking about spinning off the character, eventually, for another CW show, maybe not a film. Or maybe a film.

Now here’s the thing. When you have an established series, you also have an established feel to it. In this case, it’s the pseudo-operatic quality to the story. Introducing a basically breezy character confuses me here, because light draws attention from surrounding darkness, right? Here, it’s like introducing a rap song into an opera. It just seems...wrong. Mind you, I didn’t think ARROW sounded very promising at all when they announced its premiere. But I was wrong, and so maybe that single ray of sunlight will enhance instead of distract from the gloomy opera.

If they give me an occasional linguistic goofball and Felicity Smoak, I’ll be happy. Except, of course, I’ll ask what everyone is asking (I’m sure they’re asking. Of course they are): what about Wonder Woman? The CW network had been talking about a young Wonder Woman show, but they promptly shoved that under the rug when they came up with this idea. Introduce Diana Prince, for crying out loud! Why NOT?

Eilis Flynn can be found to argue with at Facebook, Twitter, or at her website at www.eilisflynn.com. She likes to spend some idle moments thinking about super-heroes and some such.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How do YOU know when Summer's over?

This year I've been asking as I usually do of my young customers, "Are you ready for school to start?" and unlike previously years, I have heard only a resounding "No" from them. Some say they have just started enjoying their Summer and school starts next week, just as some serious heat sets in. Usually we have more heat before now but the last two years it's only been in the upper nineties, until now.

My snowball stand is booming in the Spring when kids are in school and they enjoy a reward for making it through the day. At about fifteen after school lets out I get the flood of customers wanting their usual "Spiderman", "Cinderella", "Wedding Cake" or anything else I can come up with. But as the Summer approaches and school lets out, it slows down.

I had a truck driver who came through yesterday who was amazed with the 108 degree heat index that I didn't have a line waiting. He said he'd never had a snowball but it sounded like the perfect thing. He got what I call and Xtreme, snowy ice stuffed with ice cream, doused with flavored syrup and condensed milk on top.

But that's usually how I start feeling the end of Summer. Business gets slower, parents start drooping, and I start hearing about football training camps. Yay! I'm ready for some football even preseason which starts next week.

How do YOu know Summer's coming to an end? And are you ready?

Monday, August 5, 2013

How Far Would You Go For Research?

I write historical paranormal romance. Not only do I have to make paranormal seem, well, normal, but there's a lot of research involved to make the historical time periods come to life on the page.

My first book, OUT OF THE ASHES, was set in Pompeii. Since I wasn't a NY Times bestselling author, I didn't have an unlimited budget to jet off to Italy to do research first hand (oh, how I wish). Instead, I did a lot of arm chair research: days at the library, hours online. I even ordered an old 1943 era tour guide of the ruins of Pompeii off Ebay. All that research paid off. A friend who'd lived abroad for several years read my book, called me up and fussed at me. "When were you in Pompeii and why didn't you look me up while you were there?" I told him I'd never crossed the pond and it was all virtual research. He paid me one of the biggest compliments ever. He said I nailed the setting and it felt like he was walking through the ruins all over again. Score!

My second book, FIRE OF THE DRAGON, was set in 13th century England. Obviously I couldn't travel back in time like my characters and experience what life was like in the Middle Ages, so back to the library and the internet I went. I chose to focus on the not so glamorous part of life back then. No castles, no royalty, no knights in shining armor. Well, okay, I did have knights, but they wore rusty chain mail and slept outside under the stars for the majority of the book. Still, readers of medievals tend to know their stuff, so I wanted to be as accurate as I could. So far, no one has called me out on any factual errors so I think I did a decent job.

The book I'm working on now, the sequel to DRAGON, has a rock climber as the heroine. This is the type of research that I "could" do first hand. I could go to Peak Experiences and take some indoor climbing lessons. Heck, my kids have done it lots of times. There are several places within an hour drive where I could climb sheer rock faces (with a guide, of course) and experience first hand what my heroine will be doing several times throughout the book. But I can't. I just can't do it. I'm terrified of heights. So again, I'm going to have to rely on books and videos, and perhaps an interview or two with insane thrill seekers who hang by microscopic cracks using little more than their toes and fingertips. I know I should try it myself so that I can relay the experience to my readers, but I'm just too much of a chicken. There. I've drawn the line at how far I will go for research. How far would you go?
 
ja