Thursday, June 28, 2007

On Writing: Something To Talk About

There are pros and cons to not blogging daily.

Pro: You alleviate the pressure of having to come up with something fresh and entertaining or educating on a daily basis.

Con: You get rusty.

I'm feeling rusty today on this one of my formal blog days. I don't have anymore pictures of pets to post. You met them all, Billie, Cheyenne, and Sadie. Although a friend did email pictures of three kittens they found abandoned, asking if we'd like one. Hard to say 'no' to a cute kitten (or any animal in need for that matter), but now's not a good time for us. I didn't feel too bad, because I just know my friend will find those kitties good homes. Gosh, they were cute.

Lots of times when people get stuck for something to say, they talk about the weather. It's really hot here. Sticky hot. Then again it is summer and this is New Jersey. Can't wear shorts to work at the library, although I'm not a big shorts person anyway, although I do like those new skinny bermuda shorts I've seen some girls wearing. I used to shy away from skirts and dresses in the summer because no one wears pantyhose or tights in the summer, and I was uncomfortable with my blindingly pale white skin and random patches of spider veins. I have recently conquered that insecurity and have rediscovered the delight of feeling feminine and pretty in stylish skirts and dresses that fall just below the knee. Cool and comfortable when matched with flirty flat sandles or funky Mary Janes.

Another pro to not blogging daily: It frees up energy and time for working on my books. Since I am now working full-time at the library, I need all the writing time I can carve out. I've been pretty religous about getting up at 5:30am every morning to write before work and then writing until 10pm after I get home. Although last Friday I hit the wall and it took a couple days to recover. I'm currently trying to listen better to my body.

Another con to not blogging daily: Your blog readership slips. Guilt niggles that you should be keeping in better touch. That sets off the ancient and on-going concerns regarding self-promotion. "You should be doing more!" More chats. More interviews. More booksignings. More newsletters. More advertising. More podcasts, book vids, and whatever it is all the other authors are doing. Well, not all, but a large majority. Except I can't physically do any more than what I'm doing just now. My body shouted that loud last Friday.

So what's an ambitious and dedicated author to do?

Write the best stories that she/he can, do what self-promotion one comfortably can and have faith that word will spread.

I can hear some people groaning. Skimping on self-promotion? Relying on your publisher and your story? Career suicide.

I'm not so sure. Putting massive time and energy into self-promotion, skimping on time spent on revisions or in knowing your characters better or experimenting with a plot twist or in self-editing to create a lean, mean read. I'm thinking that's career suicide.

A multi-published friend of mine attended a workshop at BEA where booksellers spoke about what sells a book. The cover and the blurb ranked number one. Two things that are out of the author's hands. Next came word of mouth. Write a compelling story, people will talk.

So that's my focus just now. Writing the best stories I can. I'm currently working on two, each in a different phase of production. Challenging, but fulfilling. When all is said and done, I'm hoping people will talk.

Hmm. Regarding blogging. Guess I'm not so rusty after all.

By the way, any thoughts pertaining to any one of my above rambles is welcome!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

On the Fly: Speaking of Animals

I should be writing. I will be writing soon after I type this. It's Alison's fault for tipping me off to this fun site. By the way the artist who would paint my portrait is Andy Warhol. The reason given?

"You've got an interested edge that would be reflected in any portrait. You don't need any fancy paint techniques to stand out from the crowd!"

But then I saw this and had to know... What Animal was I in a Past Life?

I was.... A Cat! Well, not this cat. This cat is my cat, Sadie! But I hope I was as pretty and funny as her.


"You are an independent person who inspires others with your dreams. A calm protector, you will fight when you need to."

I love it! So what animal were you and why?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On Writing: The Muse Dogs


I know. It’s Thursday, one of my official blog days, but I’ve got nothing. Juggling day job and dream job. Other people’s books and my books. Creativity and energy tapped. But at least I can share a picture of my muse dogs. Cheyenne and Billie. They have the run of the house yet every morning and night while I’m writing, Cheyenne curls up under my desk and Billie stretches out alongside my chair. For hours. Talk about devoted friends. I may be burnt but I’m blessed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On Writing: Unexpected (but, good) News

This afternoon I received an email from Keyren, my editor at HQN. Attached was this photo. She, unlike me, thought to bring her camera to the annual Harlequin party at BEA. Steve snapped this shot of us. One for the scrapbook! Mine anyway. Thanks, Keyren!

In that same email she shared some exciting news. EVERYBODY LOVES EVIE, the second book in Evie's adventures, has been pushed up on the production schedule. For all of the readers who wanted more of Arch and Evie now, the wait just got shorter! New official release date for EVERYBODY LOVES EVIE... February 2008!

Monday, June 18, 2007

And the Winners Are...

Thank you to everyone who chimed in on my last post.

Kelly already snagged a copy of ROMANCING THE WEST (Thank you, Kelly!)

Barb, how can I say 'no' to my sister... especially when she's ready to resort to blackmail? I'll mail you out a copy this week.

That leaves the five copies of ROMANCING THE WEST that I set aside as for the official giveaway. And the winners are... Danette, Crystalg, Robinl, Cheryl, and Roni!

Congratulations, ladies! Please email your snail mail address to beth@bethciotta.com Your copy of ROMANCING THE WEST is forthcoming. Enjoy the read and spread the word!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

On Reading: Romancing the West

Tonight someone asked me, “So when’s ROMANCING THE WEST coming out?” There’s a short answer and a long answer. I take that back. There’s one complicated answer. I barely understand it myself so I’m not going to try to explain it. I’ll just say it’s a weird publishing glitch. Wait. Glitch isn’t the right word. Phenomenon? Yeah. I’ll go with that.

It has to do with an original release date of July 2007 and a delayed release of October 2007 because of a new distribution deal between Medallion Press and IPG (Independent Publishing Group). It’s all good. Great news for Medallion and its authors because it means wider distribution. Read: You’ll more readily find Medallion Press books on the shelves of your favorite bookstores.

Basically, ROMANCING THE WEST was/is slated in a transitional period. The result: Stores who pre-ordered for the original release date are stocking RTW per the original release date. So RTW is in select stores now. Available through bn.com (Barnes and Noble) as of July 1. Otherwise, it will be released world-wide…. October 1.

Confused? Welcome to the club. But it’s sort of exciting, too! Look at it this way. Like an art-house film, ROMANCING THE WEST is now available in limited release. Lucky you, should you get a copy before the world-wide release! You could then taunt your friends. “Ha! I read it. You didn’t. Boy, are you in for a treat!” (At least that’s how it plays out in my brain.)

Don’t see ROMANCING THE WEST at your bookstore? Don’t trust an on-line source to send ASAP. Have to have this phenomenon now?

Submit a comment to this post. Anything.

“Hi, I’m so-and-so from wherever.”

“I love you and your books! Pick me!”

“Never heard of you, but I’ll give you a try. If it’s free.”

Submit a comment. Any comment. And you’re automatically entered in the giveaway. Monday evening I’ll draw five random names. Five winners. Five advance copies! All you have to do is comment to this post. Come on. You know you want to!

Still not convinced? Click here for an excerpt. Click here for an advance review from The Romance Studio. Here’s a snippet.

This complex novel has a myriad of characters and a multifaceted storyline. The drama is expected—of course Seth and Emily had to be attracted to each other! The suspense was constant because someone was blackmailing Emily. I’ll admit the ending was quite a surprise to me; I definitely did not figure it out on my own! Then there were the three men who had proposed to her; one was Athens. All the characters were strongly written and worked together to create an intriguing book which was very hard to put down.

Kudos to Ms. Beth Ciotta; she has penned an exciting, extremely interesting, tale which will keep the readers talking. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical romance. You definitely won’t be disappointed
!"

Come oooooon. You know you want a fun, fast, and heart-tugging read. Comment. Say anything. Literally. And you could win a free copy of one of my personal favorites: ROMANCING THE WEST. All I ask? If you like it… spread the word. By mouth. By blog. Just share the love!

A Note from Borders Books & Music

New Jersey romance authors Beth Ciotta and Lois Winston will join our Romance Reading Group for a discussion and booksigning. Lois' new book is Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception and Beth's new novel is All About Evie. Everyone is welcome to attend.

June 14, 2007
7:00 PM
Location: Borders Books and Music
Marlton
515 Route 73
SouthMarlton, NJ
Phone:856.985.5080

Open to the public, so if you're around. please stop by. I have my pink pen and bookmarks and a full tank of gas. Good to go!

Check back this weekend for news on ROMANCING THE WEST and a fun giveaway!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On the Fly -- BEA: The HQN Signing

BEA (Book Expo America) was exciting for me for multiple reasons, but nothing jazzed my senses more than signing my books for enthusiastic readers. I was the only author slotted for my time in the Medallion Press booth so I had the luxury of feeling like a star. On Sunday, my third and final day of the tradeshow, I signed in the Harlequin booth alongside Geralyn Dawson, Heather Graham, and Dee Davis. Not only was I co-starring, but I couldn't help but feel like an bit player on stage with three leading ladies as they were all far more established and famous than I. Of course no one treated me like a bit player. I was treated like all of the other authors... wonderfully.

Harlequin publishes several category lines and multiple single-title programs so the booth was very large and always a hub of activity. This particular day was on the quiet side as the show was winding down, however, the moment we starting signing the crowds formed. They formed faster and longer for the other three authors, but that was natural given their name recognition. I forced myself not to focus on their long lines. In fact, I forced myself not to even look at their lines. I refused to let the insecurity demons rise up, run wild, and ruin my special moment. I knew I would get some overflow, after all the books were free and these were avid readers. Plus, and this was really exciting, several people mentioned they had read me before or that they had heard about ALL ABOUT EVIE and couldn't wait to read it. Woo-hoo!

For anyone wondering what my editor looks like, that's Keyren (Gerlach) standing to my left/your right! Steve snapped quite a few pictures. Looking through them, I noted that I looked like a goof-ball in several. He said I was a goof-ball, period, claiming it was hard to get a decent shot because I'm so animated. And this is a bad thing? I was jazzed. I was happy. I genuinely enjoy talking to people. My happy-peppy editor stood beside me almost the entire time helping me with books and lending general support. When she had to step away for a few moments, executive editor, Tracy Farrell stepped in and Tracy was equally wonderful.
To show I'm not mortified by my goof-ball status. Here are two animated moments. Left is me saying something to Keyren (who you can't see) about how almost every single reader commented on my 'pink' pen. We decided we need to do something promotional with a colored pen. I'm thinking 'purple' as that's Evie's color of choice, although I'm a 'pink' gal and pink ink sure looked pretty with the pink and red cover. I know. I ponder the strangest things.


Lastly... well, I don't know what the heck I was reacting to here, but that's Tracy Farrell on my left/your right. She was simply impressed that I had a supply of my own pens, period. I brought three total. That's me. Anal.
If you think I look animated here, you should have seen me when Keyren announced that we were 'sold out'. Maybe I didn't have a long line of eager readers, but I certainly had a steady flow of eager readers. Enough so that I 'sold out'! Thank you readers and thank you Harlequin. What a way to end BEA!
Stay tuned this week for a special annoucement and giveaway pertaining to my upcoming western.... ROMANCING THE WEST!

Monday, June 11, 2007

On the Fly -- Partying with Harlequin

I've written a lot of 'On the Fly' posts lately. 'On Reading' and 'On Writing' posts forthcoming. Fear not. I've also been posting more 'Random Days' than I intended, but it's all due to chiming in on BEA. I apologize about not having much industry information to share with fellow writers, but, rather than attend forums, I met with my agent and publishers, vsited with a few author friends, and tooled around a bit with my husband. I only have so much energy and that's where I directed it this time around.

Saturday evening, before the big Harlequin party, Steve and I met Alex Kava and Amy Moore-Benson for drinks. Amy represents both Alex and I as well as several other authors--all quite talented I'm sure as Amy is very selective. Conversation was casual and fun. Steve and I both enjoyed meeting and chatting with Alex. She writes pyschological thrillers. Currently I'm reading A Necessary Evil. Creeeepy and intense. Let's just say I don't read it after dark.

Later the four of us walked a few blocks to a cool nightclub and were greeted with glasses of champagne by some of the friendly staff of Harlequin. Drinks and appetizers were plentiful as were the party-goers. As the night went on the club got more and more crowded. Between the music and the constant, enthusiastic chatter, the noise level was pretty intense. After awhile I resorted to reading lips!

I have to admit I was a little shy and stuck close to people I knew like Heather Graham and her family and my editor Keyren Gerlach. My former editor Abby Zidle played matchmaker with Keyren and I. She really knew what she was doing because we truly do click! Keyren told me that Dianne Moggy (Editorial Director for the Single Title program) wanted to connect with me as well as Loriana Sacilotto (Executive VP of Global Publishing and Strategy). I've met Dianne on other occasions and she was as vibrant and entertaining as ever. I had never met Loriana and I'm so glad I had the chance. Also vibrant and entertaining. Earlier Alex had introduced me to Donna Hayes (President, Publisher and CEO) and she was lovely as well. In all honesty, I have to say everyone I've met so far at Harlequin has been fabulously nice. It warms my heart greatly to know the entire company is excited about and so strongly behind ALL ABOUT EVIE and the entire series. I am one lucky girl!

I'll wrap up by saying, both Steve and I had a great evening. No gossip. No awkward incidents. Just a genuinely good time! Thank you to Harlequin for sponsoring such a fun event.

Coming soon... Signing in the Harlequin booth alongside bestselling authors. I'm so glad Keyren was with me!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Changes!

Hi all!

I lost Miss Zoot. The lovely lady who provided my previous blog template. I can't complain. The service was free. And I very much appreciated her lovely work. I'm not sure where her site went. I hope she's well.

So I spent the morning searching for a new look. Budget restrictions and all that, I searched for another free template but something that suited my style. I like this template very much. It took some trial and error as I'm now working in the new Beta Blogger program. Very different than what I'm used to. But now I think I've figured it out. Actually, it's pretty techno-goober friendly. Thank you Blogger and thanks to the folks at 'freeskins'.

Bear with me as I continue to update this new section. As you can see , I lost my blogroll, but at least I saved my archives!

**UPDATE: Posting links in the sidebar as time permits. Stayed tuned...

Saturday, June 9, 2007

On the Fly--Delayed but Not Forgotten

Today is my husband's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEVE!

Unfortunately, he has to work all day and I'm emceeing a sweepstakes tonight. The plan is to celebrate tomorrow. Our idea of celebrating is eating breakfast out and then later that night, snuggling on the couch to watch a movie while enjoying a bottle of champagne. Heaven.

How do you like to celebrate your birthdays?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

On the Fly--BEA ... Day 2

Still sharing some of my BEA adentures, though I'll be (trying ) to keep my posts short as time is short. And you've got limited time as well , right? Seems like most everyone I know is crunched these days. I'm back to writing down every single thing I need to accomplish on a long TO DO list and then attacking and crossing off. Of the fifteen major things I listed two days ago, I've crossed of eleven! Of course I just added two more.

Where was I?
Ah. BEA. Day two. Saturday. Um, honestly... at this point, it's a bit of a blur. But I know I was busy. I know there were crowds of people eeking their way down the crammed aisles. I know it was hot but not as hot as the day before and that the lines for the well-known authors were still long. I know I saw people walking around with a cool Harry Potter tote bag. I asked someone where they got it and they said the Scholastic booth. I zipped down lickety-split... and saw that there were no bags left. I remember the note of desperation in my voice as I said to the representative, "But you don't understand, my boss at the library is a Harry Potter FANATIC!" Amazingly, she did not say, "Her and a billion other people." Instead, she smiled kindly and told me there would be another supply Sunday morning at 9am. "Come early," she said. "They go fast." I thought, but did not say, "Naturally." And by the way, I made it there Sunday at 9:10am, scored, and--from my boss's over-the-moon reaction--made her year. Thank you, Scholastic.

Where was I?

Ah. A booksigning! I had a booksigning on Saturday from 1pm-2pm in the Medallion Press booth. A well publicized event since MP took out a huge ad for me and my featured book in the Publishers Weekly Daily, the magazine put out 'daily' at BEA by PW. It was big and beautiful and on page TWO! Although ROMANCING THE WEST is now scheduled as an October release, MP rushed their printer and had plenty of copies on hand. A major bonus for me as far as advance publicity. Throughout the event RTW made it into the hands of several booksellers and librarians. Word of mouth/pre-buzz is priceless.

The signing itself was very well attended. A special thank you to friends who stopped by! Mostly though, I met a lot of new people. Booksellers and librarians. Women and men. Several who had read my books before and who made me feel like a million bucks with their enthusiastic and kind praise. It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of writing, to live in a bubble of neurosis. It was inspiring to be reminded that people are actually reading the stories of my heart and very inspiring to know they want more!


Alongside and cheering me on in the MP booth were the MP dynamos--Helen, James, Ali, Adam, Jim, Deborah, Gloria, Kirk, and kick-butt MP author Dolores Wilson. I'd share a picture of all of them but, I forgot to ask Steve to take a group shot! I was buzzing on a reader/author high and the brain short-circuited. I think someone else took one though. If I can track it down, I'll share. In the meantime, just picks of shallow-me signing copies of a true book of my heart--ROMANCING THE WEST.
Thank you, Medallion Press!
Next up, at some point, Saturday night's festivities. Cocktails with author Alex Kava and our mutual agent, Amy Moore-Benson and the Harlequin party!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

On the Fly: BEA -- Dining with Medallion Press

Popping in to finish yesterday's tale. Showered, spiffed, and starving, Steve and I cabbed it over to Nino's Tuscany, a fabulous Italian restaurant where we were shown to a private room. Medallion Press chose to treat authors and staff as well as Matt Hurley from Publishers Weekly and Leslie Jones from Library Journal to an intimate dinner as opposed to a bells and whistles party. Lucky us!

We were all charmed by the delightful company, food, and wine. Helen and James Rosburg are famous (in my book) for hosting classy, fun affairs. This night was no exception. We ate, drank, chatted, and laughed for hours. It felt more like a family get-together than a business dinner. That's one of the things I adore about writing for Medallion Press. They are incredibly Author--make that People--friendly. Classy with a capital C. A heartfelt thank you to Helen, James and Adam for hosting such a wonderful affair.

I'll continue with my BEA adventures as time permits. Still ahead... a boffo signing for ROMANCING THE WEST in the MP booth. Drinks with Alex Kava (super suspense author!)and Amy Moore-Bensen (our dynamo agent). Partying with Harlequin at the Arena Nightclub. And my first official (and successful!) signing for ALL ABOUT EVIE in the Harlequin booth.

Sometimes I just have to pinch myself!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

On the Fly: BEA... The First Day

Although BEA launched earlier in the week with special workshops and forums, the first day for me was Friday. I woke up with swollen eyes. Yup. The weekend I was to meet with my agent and several professionals with both of my publishing houses--not to mention the general masses--and my eyes were almost swollen shut. Figures.

I've been fighting my worst allergy season ever, but this was more like an allergic reaction, one I'm still battling a bit. Still not sure what's triggering it. At any rate, I took an allergy pill, drank lots of water, and wore my tinted prescription glasses all day, hoping I looked somewhat cool, and not aloof. Heh.

Steve and I arrived midday. If I rushed, I could make the last ten-minutes of my friend Heather Graham's autographing. As I mentioned yesterday it was brutally hot and crowded in the Javitz center, so imagine what I looked like after rushing... coupled with my swollen eyes. Er, yeah. I did, however, make it in time to see my friend. I intended to get her book--an ARC--for an avid fan library patron, but she was being hurried and we were chatting and she made it out to me. Hee. So now I have her personalized copy of THE SEANCE. Lucky me. I wanted to read it anyway.

While downstairs we bumped into Ali DeGray, lovely and talented daughter of Helen and James Rosburg (Helen is an author and the president and founder of Medallion Press and James is a wicked-talented artist). So after a few seconds chat with Heather and a few members of her family, we zipped up to the main floor to the Medallion Press booth. We missed Helen and James, but we did see and speak with Deborah (direct sales), Gloria (foreign sales), Jim (art production) and the wondrous Adam Mock (VP/Creative Director). Adam made me laugh when he said he'd been visited earlier by two extremely enthusiastic women who knew everything about me and my books and even knew who he was. I knew it could be no other than the famous Elsie and Laurie! (Sorry I missed you girls!) More on the fabulous Medallion Press booth tomorrow when I talk about my signing!

I then skipped over to the Harlequin Enterprises booth where I ran into Romantic Times friends, Kathryn Falk, Jo Carol Jones, and Sharon Murphy. The Harlequin booth was huge and quite the hub-bub of activity. I encountered several more people I knew including author Alexandra Sokoloff (hi, Alex!), chatting until it was time to meet with my agent.

For those who don't know, my agent is Amy Moore-Benson of AMB Literary Management. In her former life as an editor, she spent 12 years with Harlequin, most of that I believe (if not all) with MIRA. I actually think it's quite beneficial that she knows both sides of the fence from personal experience. Amy is lovely--a charismatic dynamo. I'm inspired and energized every time we meet in person. We found a semi-cool space in a food court where we had juice and discussed my career. I'm goal oriented, so I was supremely pleased about all the options we discussed and the goals we decided on. I. Am. Jazzed.

This moment, however, I'm rushed to make it to work. So... This post to be continued as soon as humanly possible as I must share bits about the fabulous dinner sponsored by Medallion Press. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 4, 2007

On the Fly--BEA....Hot, Hot, Hot

I'm baaaack.

And exhausted. BEA was a whirlwind. It was hot, crowded, and totally overwhelming. I had multiple commitments (meetings, booksignings, publishers dinners/parties) so it seemed like I was always had to be somewhere. Hence I was forever glancing at my watch and didn't stand in line to meet many authors because the lines were so loooooong. In the Publishers Weekly Daily it did mention that this was an extremely well attended (even more than usual) event. The Javitz convention center is massive and there were three stories teaming with publishers' booths. Wall-to-wall industry professionals. Publishers of children, YA, adult, fiction, non-fiction, erotic, art, travel, graphic (you name it) books. Hoardes of booksellers, librarians, and authors.

In additon to shoulder-to-shoulder crowds there was the heat factor. It was hot and humid in NYC this past weekend, and Friday the convention center's air conditioner was on the blink. There were pockets of cooler air every so often, but for the most part--nada. Bless the man who gave out hand-held fans featuring his book cover! It was one of the few self-promo items shoved at me that I truly appreciated! Hard to feel beautiful, comfortable and confident meeting industry professionals when you're soaked with sweat. Although everyone was in the same boat. Amazingly, cool heads prevailed. Everyone handled the stifling heat with good humor! I think that's because everyone was just so excited to be there. On a good note, Saturday the air conditioner worked a little better and by Sunday it was practically freezing (although crowds had decreased significantly by then.)

By the way, I know I had said I'd try to blog while I was there, but we didn't have wi-fi as expected. Ah, well. Now I'm home and have Internet access, but being home means back to my daily routine--limited time. I'm rushing off to work at the library just now. Stay tuned for posts relaying what I actually did at BEA. Details and name-dropping forth coming.