Juggling Projects (plus bonus giveaway!)

Wednesday FeyRhi posted this comment: “I'm here at least once a day to take a peek to see what you are up to and more times then not learn something new about the life of a multi-published author.”

I haven’t talked about my actual writing life in awhile so I thought I’d post a brief update for FeyRhi and anyone keeping tabs. The key word is ‘multi-published’. Though a beautiful word, one that fills me with pride and wonder, it also represents multi-obligations. If you’re multi-published, you’re multi-tasking. That’s if you’re contracted for even more books and committed to promoting previous, current, and future works. (Read: Building your career)

Currently I’m…

* Promoting... LASSO THE MOON, my historical western romance released a mere two months ago from Medallion Press. This includes participating in on-line chats and discussion groups, interviews, live group Q&As, booksignings and special appearances (like the upcoming Romantic Times Convention), adding special features to website, and blogging.

* Writing... ROMANCING THE WEST, the second in my western trilogy for Medallion Press. Deadline: August 1, 2006. Release date: Sometime 2007. As this is set in the American west, 1878, I’m also researching my butt off as I go. As I go, because I couldn’t do it prior, since I was writing ALL ABOUT EVIE, the first book in a contemporary series—THE CHAMELEON CHRONICLES. That book was due to HQN (Harlequin) February 15, 2006. The detailed synopsis for the second book in that same series was due March 15, 2006. LASSO THE MOON came out at this same exact time, so I was neck deep in heavy promotion. Even though I dug into RTW on March 16, and worked on it in some capacity every day, I’m just now, getting my groove on with that story.

* Revising... ALL ABOUT EVIE. I received the revision letter from my HQN editor mid-April. The suggestions are excellent, and will make the story even stronger, but they are many. Some, mostly those involving the con-artist aspect, require research. The rest, just my imagination and ‘fingers-to-the-keyboard’ dedication. Revised manuscript due: Sept 1, 2006. Release date: Spring 2007.

That’s what’s on my plate right now and through the summer. In addition, SEDUCED, the third in my romantic-comedy-suspense trilogy for MP, just celebrated its one year anniversary. Woo-hoo! Hard to believe that book has only been out one year. It seems a lifetime ago. As more readers discover my work, hopefully they’ll want to read my previous titles. So there’s always a bit of on-going promo in the back list arena.

So there you have it. A peek into the life of a multi-published author. Minus my real life obligations and other jobs. But you know about all that. And if you don’t, you can, by skimming this blog.

I’m devoting this weekend to ROMANCING THE WEST, so I won’t be posting tomorrow. Instead I'm giving away three signed copies of SEDUCED to celebrate the book's one-year birthday. Win! Win! Win! Already have it? That's okay. It makes a great gift!

How to play: Post a question, any question about writing, promoting or publishing in general... or about my peformance life.... or about my dogs.... The more you post, the better your chances of winning. Winners will be chosen at random on Monday. Calling all lurkers and regulars, make my weekend and play. Sky's the limit so ask away!


ElsieHogarth said…
Hi Beth, just wanted to comment: You know Sister Dear/Stalker and I have the promoting thing going, for you, whenever we can. Either by talking about you and your books or by giving friends and relatives (Sassy & Mary etc.) your books.

I can honestly say, that prior to requesting your books, at Borders, now they automatically order them and now they also order other Medallion authors for their shelves.

You're a promotional machine Beth.
Beth Ciotta said…
Elsie, you and Laurie (my treasured personal stalker)are any author's dream reader. You're not only amazingly supportive here at this blog and at local signings and conferences, you SPREAD THE WORD! I once did a survey asking readers what influences them most when buying a certain book (esp. a new-to-them author) Book covers and excerpts ranked high, but 'Word of Mouth' reined. An enthusiastic recommended read carries a lot of weight. So if you love a book, folks, any book, SPREAD THE WORD!

Thanks, Elsie. ;)
Taylor said…
"Hard to believe that book has only been out one year. It seems a lifetime ago."

Beth, I was thinking the EXACT same thing! Wow! Congrats on all the multi-publishing work! Here's to another good 10 years of writing for you! But I do have a question, one that I ask often: when ya gonna have another book signing near me?! Let me know! I'd love to have an autographed copy!
Beth Ciotta said…
As always, thank you for your suppport, Taylor. :) I'll be signing at the Hamilton Mall Borders Express soon. I'll let you know when the date is confirmed!
Bethany said…
Where OH WHERE do you get THAT JACKET in the photo? I LOVE IT! and that counts and question 1 for the contest. :-)

More to come...
Beth Ciotta said…
You're not going to believe it, Bethany. Burlington Coat Factory. $12.00

All hail The Bargain Queen.

Next question? :)
Tori Lennox said…
How's Miss Cheyenne doing with her classes? :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Thanks for asking, Tori!! Cheyenne and I had our second class this past Tuesday. Our homework had been to get the dog to lie down on command and to stay until we released them. (All on leash) We practiced pretty hard and I was pleased that when we got to class she wasn't as scared as the last time. I was also proud because... well, the instructor started to tell us a nifty leash trick to help in getting the dog down, and I raised my hand and asked, "What if she does it on verbal command alone?" The instructer looked surprised, then smiled and said, "Then you're ahead of the game."

Woo-hoo! Yes, Cheyenne lays down on verbal command alone, and she's pretty good about staying until released. Unfortunately, she regressed the last ten-minutes of class. We were practicing 'heeling', walking in a circle, stopping/starting, and one little white dog kept snarling and snapping at the other dogs. Cheyenne was twice her size, but it freaked her out and she cowered and kept trying to get me to go to our car. Ah, well. Meanwhile the instructor made the lady with the snarling dog stay after class. Uh-oh. :)
chryscat said…
Ah, to pick Miss Beth's brain. I love it.
Are you ready?

How do you get Cheyenne NOT to chase something? Chance will chase the cats (not to hurt them) for the simple joy of chasing a live target. Any advice would be appreciated.
chryscat said…
How much do you write per day? Ballpark figure.

chryscat said…
Where do you derive the MOST inspiration?

chryscat said…
Hmmmm. And where do you get a personal stalker? LMAO
Olga said…
Beth, you do so much! My admiration goes to you! As for the question, here it goes. I know you've mentioned the word of mouth as the best promotion, but what are in your opinion the second best promo tools?
FeyRhi said…
No questions from me cause you always seem to answer them before I need to ask *G*

It's great to hear that Cheyenne is doing so well. Poor thing has had a lot to overcome from what you have explained here. I hope that little dog is better behaved and doesn't upset Cheyenne so much next time.
Beth Ciotta said…
Crystal chimes in with four questions. Woo-hoo!

Cheyenne chases our cat, Sadie. She does so in fun. They actually wrestle. Pretty humorous. Sadie's tough and gives it right back, so I usually don't worry when Cheyenne chases her. Sometimes though, the pup gets a little rough. I'll hear Sadie yip, yowl, whatever that noise is. Her version of "ouch!" That's when I intervene.

I'm not an expert by any means, but our trainer suggests that you get a dogs attention to deter unwanted behavior. If that behavior is chasing the cats, then you need to let Chance know this is unacceptable behavior. Three ways to do this (going on memory) 1. Scruff Shake. (this is what I do) This enatils nabbing the fleshy portion of the dog's neck and giving a little shake. It surprises them, gets their attention, and breaks the cycle. (this is also what their 'mom' would have done to deter them)
2. If Chance has a choker collar on and you can grab it, give it a quick jerk. Same result. Gets the dogs attention, breaks the cycle.
3. Use a tiny squirt gun and squirt water or lemon juice in Chance's face. Most dog's don't like this. Again... breaking the cycle.

Hope that helps! If anyone else knows a pet-friendly solution, please chime in!
Beth Ciotta said…
Crystal asks: "How much do you write each day?"

In time or pages? Both vary. I write every day. Even if it's only a blog entry or an article or some promo blurb. It all counts toward exercising my writing muscles.

As far as my actual manuscripts... I write anywhere from one paragraph to ten pages a day. In crunch time, I've produced as many as 15 pages in a day. That's RARE for me. Can't seem to knock the editor off of my shoulder. Time wise, I dedicate anywhere from two hours to fifteen hours per day, depending on my day job work schedule. In crunch (deadline week) I don't sleep. LOL

Please note, though I have a 'day job', husband, and pets, I do NOT have children. That's gotta make a difference.
Beth Ciotta said…
Crystal asks: Where do you derive the MOST inspiration?

Movies. They ignite feelings and ideas. I also find it much easier to analyze a movie than a novel. What works, what doesn't, and why. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't be writing screenplays as opposed to novels. LOL Yet I'm totally jazzed about writing in book form. It feels natural.

I'd like to add I've been inspired by many an author (book) as well. But movies do it for me MOST. :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Crystal asks: "And where do you get a personal stalker?"

Bestselling author Eloisa James asked me that same question once. :) I honestly don't know. Elsie and Laurie are avid romance readers and enthusiastically support many authors, as does their entire romance reader group. I've never met anyone like them. They are genuine and fun, and I consider them friends. I just really lucked out, Crystal.
Beth Ciotta said…
Olga asks: "I know you've mentioned the word of mouth as the best promotion, but what are in your opinion the second best promo tools?"

Hi Olga! My opinion, for what it's worth... your website or blog. Booksellers, librarians, readers, editors, agents... mostly everyone now days, surfs the Net. Want/need info on an author? On a specific kind of book? They google. More and more journalists welcome press kits 'on-line'. Savvy authors have made their websites or blogs ultra interactive. Oh to be Sherrilyn Kenyon or Alison Kent. LOL If you haven't checked out their sites, please do.

Websites and blogs are powerful. When you're looking to designate advertising dollars, don't cheat yourselves in these areas.
Beth Ciotta said…
FeyRhi... a pleasure to see you as always!! Hope all is well in your writing world. :) Thank you for your warm thoughts regarding Cheyenne. She's troubled, but so darn sweet. And she IS coming along. The professional training has worked wonders. New pictures soon. :)
Sam said…
I have a question! (jumps up and down)
How do you find the time to do everything?? Do you have one of those magical clocks that turn back time? Where can I buy one? (Does that count for three questions? Um, make that 4...)
Beth Ciotta said…
Morning, Sam (aka Jenny). ;) How do YOU do it all? I'm pretty sure that your writing schedule is heavier than mine. LOL

As for me... In order to maintain everything pertaining to my writing career, I've given up pretty much all social aspects of life. I only leave the house to work at the library, to perform, and to run essential errands. I don't shop unless I HAVE to. I can't remember the last time I went to the movies. I only watch TV for two-three hours a night, if that... and that's to watch a movie or a specfic show with my husband. Laundry piles up and my house isn't as clean as it should be. :)

Basically, I devote every minute that I can to writing or promoting. Unfortunately, I don't 'write fast'. That is to say, sometimes I can write for hours and only have a page to show for it, because I kept working things out in my mind. So I need to write as often as possible to produce the required pages (and story).

I know it's not healthy to be obsessed with work--all work, no play, makes Jack a dull boy--so I have been forcing myself to get out once in a blue moon. I'm working toward BALANCE. :)
Tori Lennox said…
I'm glad Cheyenne's doing so well! As for getting distracted by that snapping, snarly little dog, I don't blame her! It would have distracted me, too. :)
robynl said…
Kudos to Cheyenne for doing so great. I also love dogs and have a male apricot poodle(toy). We talk 'baby' talk to our dog and my question is this, do you talk baby talk to Cheyenne? Thanks.
robynl said…
Wow, your plate is full and you know what they say about full plates: everything on your plate must be finished and you must leave a clean plate.
Here's hoping you finish with a clean plate and that means that you have accomplished many tasks.
Beth Ciotta said…
Hi Robyn! Thanks for chiming in and playing. :) I bet your poodle is adorable. What's his name?

No, we don't talk baby talk to Cheyenne, but we have nicknames for all of our pets. Billie has three. Billie-the Wonder Dog, Queen Billie, Billie-Boo... oh, and Billie-Schmoopalah. Guess she has four. :) Cheyenne has three: Cheyenner, Cheyenne-Pooper, Cheyenna-banana. Sadie, our cat is Sadie-pie, Sadie-miester, and Sadie-potatie.

We make up songs about them, too. Good lord. Did I just admit to all that? *looks over shoulder for the men in white jackets*
Roni said…
Hey, I make up songs and sing them to my dog (and did with my kids when they were little too). In fact, I used to sing them songs from movies, TV, and even commercials! It made me laugh when our daughter conducted the band one year (as drum major) in a concert and chose a medley of advertising tunes to conduct! Glad to hear that Cheyenne is doing well! My questions are: Will you be at RWA national this year? Will Heather? (she's up for two Ritas!) And what attraction in Londond would you recommend as not-to-be missed?
NTW you'll rerlate to this quote: "When you want something done, give it to a busy person."
Beth Ciotta said…
Hi Roni! LOL on the song singing. :) As to your questions..

1) I'm still unsure as to whether or not I can attend RWA. Several conflicts this year. As for Heather, yes, she'll be there. :)

2) That's right. You're going to London soon! *sniffle* Wish you could tuck me in your suitcase! My two top picks in London are 'Tower of London' and 'Westminster Abby'. Amazing history. Amazing atmosphere. If you don't know much about the history of London, you may want to rent a DVD on the subject before you go. Just to get feel. Also creepy and intersting... one of the Jack-the-Ripper walking tours!
Bethany said…
Ahhh... more questions! I told you there were coming (and I am adding them in this one post, to make my life easier):

2) (since my first question was in another post): How did you find your agent (and tell us the story of how it came about)?

3) What is your most embarrassing moment of your adult life?

4) If you could be any character in your books, which one would you be?

5) What is your most favorite guilty pleasure?

6) And if tomorrow you were given the world on a platter and you were able to write full-time (with no day job every again)-- would you do it?
Olga said…
Beth, thanks for the answer and the advice!
Mark Pettus said…
Do you work on one project at a time, or do you have several books at various stages of completion?

How important is language to your writing?

How many words/pages a day do you write?

What made you choose a western setting for Lasso the Moon?
Beth Ciotta said…
Hi, Bethany. Interesting questions. :)

1) The story of how I acquired my agent is sort of long. I'll give you the short version. I've queried several agents over the years, but for me signing with an agent proved harder than signing with a publisher. Cyndi and I sold three books to ImaJinn Books sans agent. I sold four books to Medallion Press sans agent.

In the summer of 2004, my friend, multi-published author Heather Graham, wrote to tell me about Amy Moore-Bensson. Amy had been an editor with MIRA for twelve years. She was leaving to start her own literary management company. Heather knew Amy well and thought we would hit it off. Because of Heather's introduction, Amy invited me to submit. Turns out Amy liked my work, but wasn't sure she was right for me as she wasn't looking to represent much 'romance'.

Long story long we kept in touch via emails. I kept holding out because I really wanted Amy to represent my work. I felt that 'click'. I think it helped that my book CHARMED received an awesome review in the 11/04 Publishers Weekly. Inspired her to take a chance on me. :) We signed not long after. Talked career goals. I wrote and delivered several proposals and she very quickly negotiated a two-book contract with Medallion and a three-book contact with HQN (Harlequin). I can't say enough about Amy Moore-Benson. It was worth the wait!
Beth Ciotta said…
Bethany asks:
* What is your most embarrassing moment of your adult life?

Gee. I have so many. There was the time I was practicing a skit with male cover model (at one of the RT conventions) and I was goofing off and my skirt split up the back. Mary Stella witnessed that one. :)Another time I was doing a dance routine with a partner at Tropicana and my hair piece flew off and landed in the audience. Just two of many embarrassing moments. ;)

Bethany asks:
*If you could be any character in your books, which one would you be?

There's a little bit of me in every heroine I've written thus far. I'm most like 'Lulu' in CHARMED and least like 'Sofia' in SEDUCED. If I could be one of them, I'd want to be Sofia, the sexy, strong, adventurous one. But But at this stage of my life, I'd fit most comfortably in Afia's (of JINXED) shoes. Good-hearted and soft-spoken.
Beth Ciotta said…
Bethany asks:
* What is your most favorite guilty pleasure?

Ice cream sundaes and anything Elvis

* And if tomorrow you were given the world on a platter and you were able to write full-time (with no day job every again)-- would you do it?

ABSOLUTELY! That's what I'm working so hard to make happen.

Thanks for the great questions, Bethany!
Beth Ciotta said…
Hi Mark! Welcome. :) (Your website looks awesome, BTW)

Mark asks:
*Do you work on one project at a time, or do you have several books at various stages of completion?

Right now I'm working on two books at the same time. I don't have a choice because of contracted deadlines. One is in the first draft phase (a historical western for Medallion Press). The other--revisions on a final draft per my editor's request (a contemporary for HQN, Harlequin). It's a challenge. Mostly because I'm writing in two different eras. Tends to mess with my head, so I devote days at a time to one then switch, as opposed to working on both in one day.

Mark asks:
*How important is language to your writing?

If I'm understanding your question correctly, very important. I spend a lot of time researching lingo and slang as related to a time period, occupation, and character's personality. The hero in CHARMED is a former Marine/current protection specialist. When writing that book, I visited an on-line Marine forum daily. I wanted to get a feel for how a man like Murphy would think and talk. The more I lurked at that site, the better my feel for the character. From readers' responses, I'm pretty sure it paid off.

Language comes into play big time when writing the westerns. Getting it right consumes a huge chunk of time, but I find it interesting and fun. Thank goodness!
ElsieHogarth said…
Thanks Beth, you are so sweet. That's why we love you.

Note to Crystal: What Beth doesn't tell you is that when an author(like herself) that we "Stalk" least expects it...we show up at their book signings(as bag ladies w/our bags of tricks).

We redo their set up tables,for our satisfaction, just to make sure the author is completely spotlighted. Mostly we add on towards the theme of their books. Beth's LTM is easy because it's western and you can find a lot of western things around. Plus our Dad (The Candy Man) makes great chocolate cowboy boots.

If they happen to be at a bookstore. We will redo the shelves and, of course, if someone is passing by we will be talking about the author and their books. We do a good cop/bad cop skit that once we leave the aisle will have the customer going and picking up the authors books. Sometime we do this with the actual author standing right there. That's always a "good thing". Ask Beth. She's experienced some of those moments.

When we go to Conferences...we stare at them, we have signs that say "I love you", we wave from across the rooms, we take pictures, we go back to their tables at least 20 times etc....We do all this in 2 hours.

This year, at the NJRW Book signing, we will be very busy due to all the different authors attending and set ups we will need to do but we have our future little stalker in training.

My niece Julianna, who's 7, and attended with us last year. She's hooked and can't wait to go. She's already made a play date with Eloisa's daughter Anna for the event. At that Conference, upon meeting Sherrilyn Kenyon she received her first marriage proposal. Sherrilyn advised Sister Dear that she definitely wants Julianna for one of her sons. Friends, Marriage proposals and even having authors (Lynsay Sands)name characters after her is a great beginning for a future romance reader.
Beth Ciotta said…
Mark asks:
*How many words/pages a day do you write?

I tackle anywhere between one to ten pages a day, depending on my schedule and state of mind. Although I have an outline, I am very much a seat-of-the-pants writer, so often I'm mulling over character or plot points as I go. If I'm in that head, I can obsess on one page for hours. If everything is set up right and I'm 'in the zone' (this happens more in the second half of the story), I can write up to fifteen pages in a day. BTW, I write in Times New Roman, 12 pt.

*What made you choose a western setting for Lasso the Moon?

Even though LTM was the fourth book that I sold to Medallion Press, it was actually written before the three contemporaries. Although I revised it several times over the years. Westerns aren't the hot trend in the romance genre just now, so I'm thrilled MP took a chance on LASSO THE MOON. Luckily, readers and reviewers embraced the story. I'm finding that there are a lot of readers out there, like me, who are fascinated with the American West. I write a romanticized version, of, course, given my market. All the same, I'm totally intrigued by that period of history and with the colorful, adventurous, and courageous people of that time. I'm happy to say I'm contracted for two more westerns!

Thank you for visiting, Mark. And thank you for the great questions!
Kim said…

Is there anything that you miss about performing on a regular basis...?
robynl said…
Beth, our dog's name is Samuel Joseph - can you imagine! That was his name when he came to us at 3 yrs. old and has since acquired the names:
Sammy Jo
Batsy Boy
etc., etc.
Beth Ciotta said…
Hi, Kim. Thanks for visiting! You asked if there's anything I miss about performing on a regular basis.

Sure. I miss being in top vocal form. Singing once or twice a month doesn't cut it. I don't have the stamina or the range that I had when I performed five/six nights a week every week. Now when I do perform, I have to work extra hard. And I always hurt the next day. All of my muscles take a hit. My voice. My thighs. My knees.

I also miss the money. Casinos pay the entertainers fairly well. Very well compared to any normal 9-5. So I made a decent living when I performed full time.

I miss hanging with my entertainer buddies on a regular basis. Miss 'dressing up'. Miss the 'rush' that comes from performing for an enthusiastic audience.

There are also a lot of things that I DON'T miss. LOL

Truth is, I no longer have the desire to perform full time, especially here in AC. Which works out well since AC doesn't want me full time anyway. *g*

Thanks for asking!
Beth Ciotta said…
Samuel Joseph!! LOL, Robyn! That's an awesome name for your pooch. Also, I am very glad to know that I'm not the only one who has a few nicknames for her furry friends. :) Lovin' Batsey Boy!
Beth Ciotta said…
Holy cow. Just now saw Elsie's post from this morning. How did I miss that?

Elsie's post is right on, everyone. They do ALL of the things she mentioned. Most recently they were sitting in the audience for Q&A with a panel of authors (organized by Elsie). I get nervous at these things. Laurie knows this. So whenever I glanced in her direction she smiled brightly and held up this little sign that said "I love you". Cracked me up. ;) Elsie just sent me a supply of beautifully handcrafted book thongs to give away as promotion at thr upcoming RT conevention. These gals are amazing!
chryscat said…
Note to Elsie: I really do think that is awesome!
Fave Sister said…
Hi. Where's my Christmas present? Does that count? oooh that's 2 questions. I miss and love you tons!! I'll call soon
Beth Ciotta said…
Ah. One of my five sisters strikes. I'm guessing... BARB. :) Your Christmas present is on my dining room table. Unfinished. Yes, that counts as two questions. Smart a--alec.

Yes, please do call. Soon. Love ya. Kisses.
laurie514 said…
Hi Beth ,
Sorry in the slacking in the stalking duty ! Miss you alot and am happy about all your books etc.etc.I can't waite until you go to RT and get recharged with the writing bug.You need to be with your fellow writers sometimes.As the stalking goes .I think it's better from afar.I can't control myself with Donna Fletcher I almost sit on her lap when she comes to lunch or to talk about her books.Mariah Stewart I start having hot flashes and I don't remember anything about her books.
My sweet Diabolical Karen Rose,I just ask her a million questions and she answers them all.And you Beth i just stare and wave signs.
Because you are such an unbelievable person , in person and in your books and I always pick out the parts that are Beth .
Like driving home from the Borgata in the tunnel on your way home.
laurie514 said…
Aren't the thongs Elsie makes the most beautiful things you have ever seen.She show me sometimes and I'm like why didn't you make me one like that ?
She also makes key chains,She should sell them I have never seen such beautiful ones in the store.
Maybe I'll get one for my birthday!!:}
Beth Ciotta said…
Laurie, you're a hoot. And you're the best. The BEST! Oh, and yes, the book thongs that Elsie made are beautiful. I was stunned. First that she'd made them. Second, that she sent me so many.

Okay. Signing off now with the vision of you climbing onto Donna Fletcher's lap. ;)

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