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Showing posts from September, 2006

Motivated Hamster

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A couple of days ago, I overheard my husband talking on the phone with his brother. He was updating him on the 'writing' side of my life. "She's just finishing up revisions. Then it starts all over again." Meaning as soon as I mailed in this book, I'd start writing the next. He was right. I knew this, but his take on the process made me feel like a hamster on one of those exercise wheels. Sort of going and going with no rest in sight. If I hop off, the wheel will continue to spin and I'll be forever trying to catch up or, horrors, standing in the wood shavings, immobile, as the wheel that is my career peters out.

I have read and heard many times that given the competetive market, a new or even midlist author needs to write two books a year to really launch or secure (as secure as one can be in the arts) a career. I've been doing just that since 2003. Writing two novel-length books a year. I'm contracted (thank God!) to continue that pace through …

My Almost Reward

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I finished the revisions! I'm brain-dead, but I'm done. Still have to print out the manuscript, but I'm done. As this project was a mega-challenge, I think I deserve a special reward. I choose this car. It's on E-Bay. All I have to do is place a bid.

But wait! Someone beat me to it! Well, drat. Out-bid by a three-year-old. As the car went for $17,000, I'm thinking he must have one big piggy bank. *sigh* Fine. I'll just settle for a bag of Oreos. Oh, and a glass of cold milk. Yay, me.

Blog By

This is a Blog By. Zipping off to participate in a workshop for the library. A workshop I forgot about until late last night. Yikes! Then I have to finish up and print out my revised manuscript. TOMORROW is D-Day. Due Day. Then I have to revise a synopsis for the next book, also due this week. And then . . .

Yeah. It's one of those weeks. So much to do, so little time. I'll try to check in later today with a more reading-worthy post. Just now... gotta run.

Cheers
Beth-the-Blur

Make Believe Monday - A Fun Q&A

American Title II finalist, Debra Parmley invited me to be her guest for Make Believe Monday. Click here to read our fun exchange. Thanks for having me, Debra!

Fourteen Years Ago Today

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And they lived happily ever after...

Will the real Beth Ciotta please stand up?

If you never saw the old game show To Tell The Truth? you won't get the reference in the above title. Doesn't matter. The point is, I'm complicated. Or rather, you can't judge an author by a book's content.

People who knew me before they read one of my books often comment on how shocked they were by certain graphic language or scenes. Not shocked as in repelled, but shocked as in--it's so not like me.

One girlfriend commented on a creative 'car sex' scene... "I was fanning myself thinking, I can't believe Beth wrote this!" Another emailed me to applaud my... "...prolific use of the 'F' word. I didn't know you had it in you. I'm impressed." In my defense, I heavily researched these particular male characters and, realistically, they, unlike me, would not say, fudge or flipping.

You see, in real life, I'm a bit of a modern-day Doris Day. Thing is, my characters although they come from me, are not me.

One of m…

Winners and An Update

Popping in to announce randomly chosen winners from my 'What's His Story' Post. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Your creativity is inspiring! High tech person that I am (*snort*), I pulled three names out of a hat (Of which I own several, but never wear. Don't ask.). And the winners are.... Cynthia, Kristen and Charlene. If you'd like one of my books just email me at beth@bethciotta.com with the title of the book of your choice and a mailing address. You can check out the selection here.

In other news... still working on revisions.
Good news... I'm in the homestretch.

Reviews, Advice, and Acts of Courage

Ken Levine is reviewing television's new season in a series of posts. Because of my current deadline, I've been unable to watch the premieres. Nice to know I haven't missed that much.

J. A. Konrath's last two posts, The Five Habits of Highly Neurotic Authors and Time to Make Time were of particular interest to me. I read thinking, "I am not alone!"

Scott Oden exibits wisdom, courage, and grace. A true artist. My admiration for this man, this amazingly gifted writer, just doubled.

Meanwhile I am crunching on revisions that are due in a few short days. Due to day job and dream job, I won't be around much this weekend. Meanwhile YOU can still share a story in the post below. You'll not only make my weekend, you'll be eligable to win one of my books. Winner randomly chosen and announced on Sunday!

So what have you seen around blogosphere? Any 'must reads' to suggest?

What's His Story? (aka Win a Story!)

So I'm working at the library yesterday, and I look up from the circulation desk and see this man at the copy machine--directly in front of us.

First I notice the back of his black T-shirt which reads: I Already Hate You

Okay.

Then I noticed his right arm was fully tattooed, colorful swirly patterns--red, orange, green, blue--from upper arm to wrist.

Interesting.

My co-worker thought he might be having trouble with the machine so she swung around front to offer assistance and when he angled to speak with her, I noticed his face was tattooed in those same brightly colored, swirly patterns. Co-worker noticed too, obviously. When she returned behind the desk we acknowledged each other with subtly raised brows, a silent, "Wow." I mean we're talking a fully tattooed face. All over. Like a tribal mask. I've never seen anything like it and I've seen a lot of brow-raising things.

First I thought, "Jeez." Then I thought, "Ouch." I mean that had to hurt,…

Save or Bury?

Yesterday was a marathon writing day. As was the day before. Today it'll be broken up a bit by a four hour work day at the library. I need that break. I'm so deep into revisions, so focused on key elements and specific scenes, that, as of 11:30 last night, I lost my sense of pacing for the overall story. I'm second-guessing myself anyway.

The thing about revisions--it's a domino effect. Every change you make touches previously written passages. Sometimes it grazes them, no harm done. Sometimes it knocks them off kilter, surgery required. Sometimes it topples them and you're staring at ruins, wondering how can I save this? Or should I bury this and let something new arise from dust?

That's where I left off last night. Reviewing a scene that now, because of heavy revisions to previous chapters, struck me as a pile of ruins. Because I kicked up the action in two aspects earlier on, this scene now reads like dead weight. I'm in the homestretch, I can't…

A Dose of Inspiration

Today author HelenKay Dimon posted a story about where she and a few fellow writer/friends were two years ago... and where they are now. By hopping around blogosphere, I was aware of most of these ladies triumphs. I applauded the sales as they trickled in, thrilled to see a writer's dream come true. I guess I didn't realize how the sales had accumulated. To see each author listed with multiple sales to mutiple houses... and all within a two year span? Wow. It's darn amazing.

Of course, these multiple sales would not have happened if not for the writers' dedication to craft, determination to succeed, and perseverance in the field. If you don't know this already--Psst. Here's a scoop. Pursuing a career in publishing ain't for wimps.

Five Things I've Learned on My Journey
1. Develop a thick skin
2. Hone your craft
3. Network
4. Set goals

and the big one...

5. Never give up

"Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and …

Cosmo Saves The Day

I'm in the nail-biting faze of revisions for ALL ABOUT EVIE. Must. Finish. This. Week. I don't have a creative thought to spare, so forget an inspiring or original post. Which means either no post or.... a quiz!

Found this one at Cosmo. Can't go wrong a Cosmo quiz. This one determines your secret-power. Click here, answer a few questions and discover your secret power. My results were pretty true to my personality right down to my own 'Just do it' motto. There were a few misses, but overall my 'profile' was pretty close. I'll include a snippet of what it said about me. I'll also highlight a few of the dream jobs, I have actually already tackled! Be sure to take the test and let us know the results. Here's mine!

YOU'RE A FREE SPIRIT
Secret Strength: open-mindedness

Words to describe you: unconventional, daring, adaptable, optimistic
Power profile: Some might call you a rebel, but you prefer "nonconformist." You'd rather follow your w…

The Power of the Promo Shot

Yesterday, I posted about the catchy opening on author Barry Eisler's web site. I also posted his headshot. Although we did talk about that blurb and the premise of his books, that photo caused quite the stir.

All hubba-hubba references aside, that's a magnificent promotional headshot. His expression, the five-o-clock shadow, the dark attire--all help to convey the tone of his novels. If you scan his website, you'll see plenty of candid shots of Eisler smiling, clean-shaven, and wearing glasses. He looks like he has a great sense of humor. He looks like a nice guy. If he copped that look for his promotional headshot, he'd be setting the reader up for a different tone. Perhaps they'd be expecting a cozy mystery as opposed to an edgy thriller. Instead, for promotional purposes he opted for a dark and dangerous look, a perfect tie-in to his books.

Perception. Something to keep in mind, writers, when you invest in that professional headshot. Your clothes, your pose, yo…

Hooked, Sold

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"Welcome to the official website of author Barry Eisler and assassin John Rain. If you like edge-of-your seat action, exotic locations, realistic spycraft, steamy sex, and a killer with a conscience who is "the stuff great characters are made of" (Entertainment Weekly), you've come to the right place..."

That, my friends, is the first thing you see when you click on Mr. Eisler's website. Well, that and the hubba-hubba headshot of said author. That one paragraph had me race-walking over to the adult fiction shelf to snatch up 'John Rain' novel. (Yes, I was scanning author websites--and blogs--during downtime at the library last night) Eisler is a new-to-me author. I'll let you know what I think after I tackle the read.

The point is that kick-butt opening paragraph reminded me of the power of stellar PR and/or boffo sales-pitch. As a result, I'll be giving careful thought to my 'welcome' paragraph when redesigning my website. Of course…

The Human Factor

As you know, I don't get out much. I've been concentrating on my day job and my writing deadlines. Meanwhile, my social life is deadsville. I actually handle being a hermit quite well. Chatting here and blog hopping a bit keeps me from talking to myself or imaginary people (not counting my characters, of course.) However, lately I wrestled with an odd feeling that finally pegged as lonliness. I blogged about that a bit last week. The need for human contact.

I'm still on a tight deadline for revisions to a book AND a synopsis for another book, but I convinced myself that getting out and actually interacting would energize me and somehow make those revisions easier. I picked up the phone--twice!--and chatted with two entertainer girlfriends. We're trying to coordinate a breakfast date next week. I've emailed with another dear friend (Hi, Shelly!) and we're trying to coordinate a get-together, too. I emailed my movie buddy, Vincent. We're shooting to see ALL TH…

Librarians Are Hot

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Yesterday while driving to another branch of our county library to get re-badged (I lost mine. Typical!), I passed a marquee that said: ENTERTAINERS WANTED! APPLY INSIDE!

I'm pretty sure they meant EXOTIC DANCERS WANTED as the place was a strip club. Although they are performing and the audience is certainly entertained, so it's not like it was false advertising. Regardless, even though I am an unempolyed entertainer, I did not stop and apply.

A few minutes later, I whizzed passed another marquee. SEEKING PERFORMERS! AUDITION INSIDE! Yup. Another strip club.

Later, while at the library, awaiting the badging process, I skimmed a local enertainment guide to Atlantic City. No less than three casinos have incoming revues featuring Chippendale-like dancers.

Huh. There may not be an over abundance of work for lounge singers in this town, but there seem to be mulitudes of opportunities for themed dancers willing to bare some skin.

Hmm. Maybe I could work up a sexy librarian act. (If an…

Signs of Abnormality

I have a horrific memory. It's actually kind of scary how much of my past is a blank slate. I am always amazed when people give detailed acounts of numerous things that happened to them in their childhood or even two to five years ago. And don't even ask me when something happened, as in a date or year. I have NO concept of time.

That said, I do have a few memories. Splotchy, vivid images of the craziest things. They're almost like out of body experiences rather than memories, because I see myself. Like I'm watching me in a movie. I know. I'm weird. I was born this way.

Thinking back, I do believe there were early signs that I am not entirely normal. (Although who's to say what normal is?) One of these vivid 'memories' involves me swinging on a swing in our backyard singing Petulia Clark's 'Downtown'. Considering where we lived at that time (my family moved a lot!) I couldn't have been more than five. Shouldn't I have been singing nu…

Heroes

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Breaking Blog Rule #1 (or was it #3?)

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According to the rules of 'being a good Blogger', you're not supposed to post if you don't have something interesting or helpful to say. But then that would mean two days since my last post and since I usually blog daily I worried that you'd think what gives? Or that--shudder--you'd give up on me, never to return! So here I am. But without anything interesting to say. Bad blogger.

Yesterday I worked a full day at the library then I came home and spent all evening toiling over revisions on ALL ABOUT EVIE.

I could post about how we rearranged an entire section of the library to make more room for the growing collection of audio books. How incredibly popular audio books are in my area and how I mused on a future where people only 'listened' to books. Nah. I mean, that'll never happen. Right?

I could talk about the challenges of reworking two essential devices in a story. Nope. My time would be better spent 'just doing it.'

Or I could talk abou…

Beth Gets Hip (Sort of)

Yesterday, my quest to know whether any one refers to tongue-kissing as Frenching anymore continued at the library. Taylor, Denise, and I were working the circulation desk. Denise is around my age, but has teenage kids. Taylor is a senior in high school. Taylor also frequents this blog. He informed Denise and I that kids today call it 'making out'. A woman standing within earshot who was browsing the 'new book' section, piped in, "They also call it 'hooking up'. I know. I'm a teacher." Taylor said, "Er, that could refer to a few things." *cough* I can imagine.

Anyhow the teacher trailed off and the three of us became immersed in an interesting conversation about today's slang. Out of the three of us I am definitely the least in tune. "If you ever want to know what a current slang word means," Denise said, "go to the Urban Dictionary." So I did. Wow.

The first word I zoned in on: Down Low or D-lo. Instead of saying,…

When Life Throws you a Curve ...

... you can stand there dazed, angry, or upset, asking, why me (us)? Or you can take a swing, using a different technique, still hoping for that home run in the field of dreams.

Life doesn't always go as we mapped it out. Sometimes we have to take a detour. But backroads are usually more intersting than super highways, don't you think? It may take longer to get where we're going, but the journey will be colorful and ripe with adventures. It's all in the attitude.

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." ~~John F. Kennedy

Dinosaur Slang

After doing a cold read on some chapters for me last week, one of my significantly younger sisters (waving to Barb) asked: "So, your heroine is hip, right? She's not a geek, right?"

Me: "No, she's not a geek. Why?"
Sis: "No one says 'Frenching' anymore."

I was genuinely shocked.

Me: "Really? Then what do they call it?"
Sis: "Kissing."
Me: "No, I mean when there's tongue involved."
Sis: "Kissing. It's just called kissing. No one calls it Frenching."
Me: "I do. Maybe it's a generation thing."
Sis: "I have friends your age. They don't say Frenching."
Me: (grasping at straws) "Maybe it's a regional and generation thing."
Sis: (unconvinced) "Maybe."

I'll be the first to admit, I'm not up on the latest hip slang or what's considered dinosaur slang. I still say 'cool' which is probably 'uncool.' My heroine is close to my age so she…

Planning Ahead - The Internet Promotions

Back to my survey regarding my promotional effort next year. So far your input on My Website and My Blog have been tremendously helpful. Hopefully others have benefitted from your generous insight as well.

Today's topic: Internet websites that promote to the reader in general. Great sites such as Romance Designs, Road To Romance, Romance Junkies, Novel Spot, Fresh Fiction, Writers Space, and so on.

#1 Do you frequent sites like these? If so, approximately how many?

#2 Has an animated banner ever caused you to click through to that author's website?

#3 Have the excerpts or contests offered ever prompted you to purchase that author's book?

Those are my three big questions. Please feel free to offer any other observances! Looking forward to your thoughts.

A Day to Celebrate Positive Energy and Potential

I just read that although some people regard Labor Day as the saddest day of the year--the end of the summer, the start of school. Others look at it as the start of all things new--new season, new clothes, new ideas. Some people treat Labor Day similar to New Year's Eve by making resolutions.

I came across a quote this morning that inspired me to stop allowing this ageism thing in entertainment to effect my self-esteem.

"Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
--Eleanor Roosevelt


How can a simple observance be so dang powerful?

As of today I resolve to laugh off those who fail to see the beauty in life experienced individuals. Their loss. What's your Labor Day resolution?

I Did It For The Money

You may have noticed that I didn't post yesterday. Or not. Maybe you were off doing fun weekend things. Good for you for getting out and about. Even though I've been feeling like a recluse lately and knew that I could obliterate a funky, nagging bout of lonliness simply by leaving my house and mixing with humanity, the last thing I wanted to do yesterday was an eleven hour emcee gig front-of-house. Front-of-house meaning in the public eye.

My regular emcee gig at Trump Marina Casino is back of house. No one ever sees me. I'm behind the scenes, the 'voice' that announces a winner every ten minutes for six hours. Aside from trying not to butcher the occasional tough name (The 12-letter last name with only one vowel was particulary challenging) it's a cake gig.

Yesterday's gig was at Trump Taj Mahal. I've only emceed there once before. A Slot Tourney last summer. Taj normally employs more modelesque emcees. I only get the call when their regular emcees are…

Planning Ahead - The Website

Those of you who weighed in with your two cents yesterday regarding 'The Blog', THANK YOU! If you didn't comment and would like to, feel free. I'm reading and taking into consideration everything that comes in.

Today I'd like to get your feedback on websites. Authors' websites. I've been surfing the Net and there are some great ones out there. To get the 'look' I really want, I'd have to hire a professional web designer or bone up more on my own goober skills. Considering my current budget, sharpening goober skills it is. A man checked out some really interesting looking books on web design yesterday at the library. Duh. Why didn't I think of that?

Anyhoo, I'm in the process of doing a complete website overhaul. Here's how you can help. Share with us one or two of your favorite author websites, and tell us what you like most about it. I learn best by example. *g* Plus, I'm sure there are others like me who'd like to get an ide…