Friday, August 31, 2007

Biohazard: The Trojan Horse rides again

This is what I dreamt of doing to my computer for the past two days. After a viscious battle with a computer virus determined to drive me out of my freakin' mind with constant popups and directions to a bogus site to "clear my computer from danger," along with the red background and biohazard graphic which dominated my desktop wallpaper, I have emerged victorious with help from the ever-faithful Symantec...and for the low, low price of $99 (and three hours of my life I'll never get back dealing with a man whose accent I could barely understand.)

My frustration level soared to an all-new high as, after finally fixing my computer and sitting down yesterday to catch up on writing and the loops, I realized I couldn't log in to blogger and my keyboard buttons (which I use to navigate to Yahoo mail and the Internet) no longer function. Who cares, you might think. At least your computer is working. True. But I LOVED those buttons. And I used to use the new tab function through I.E. 7.0 to view several websites at once through one window of the Internet Explorer. Now, however, I have to open several windows and worry about closing the wrong one when I'm done.

Technology makes it possible to do wondrous things. Cut and paste, copy and move, enlarge, insert, edit edit edit. And all without using one piece of paper or killing one precious tree. And yet, when that technology goes haywire, it's enough to affect your whole life--at least, if you're as anal and agenda-obsessed as I am.

I had a schedule, granted, my own, to write and promote. And now I'm off it, and I'm still torqued about it. Stupid and petty, but I became driven to fix everything that now doesn't work on the computer, and that, TOO, has taken me away from writing. (As if I need another excuse...)

All I can say is that after we'd finally gotten my computer to function "normally" again, I pressed my Symantec "buddy" for answers as to how to avoid this in the future. (Prior to this debacle, my virus definitions were up-to-date and ran scans regularly. I have a firewall in place as well as Internet security.) Don't download free stuff, he said. And put your security settings very high. HUH? Half the sites I regularly visit demand you accept cookies, and in order to use other software I occasionally had to use Active X controls. But my buddy told me if I need to download anything, to run a separate scan on that as well.

In my continued fear of having to go through the whole "misleader dot download dot app" virus fiasco again, I'm through downloading anything I'm not familiar with, my pop-up blocker is my new best friend, and I'm scanning like there's no tomorrow. I pray none of you have to go through this, though my buddy did tell me that they had a really high volume of calls because of this very virus. May karma smack that schmuck who disbursed that virus right in the ass, and the same goes to spammers. >:)

Dare I say, Happy Friday?

Marie

Monday, August 27, 2007

MySpace

Well, after much thought, I decided to get a MySpace account. It's a great promo tool, it's free and has reach to touch a lot of people. BUT... if you want your site to look nice and you actually want "friends" to visit, you need to spend some time creating and editing your profile. For those not familiar with MySpace, it can be intimdating. But after spending an entire day goofing with MySpace, I figured out the basics.

So if you'd like to take a stop by or spread the word, please do. My address is:
http://myspace.com/marieharte.

Cheers!

Marie

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday Chuckles

I felt bad about not posting a Friday joke yesterday, since I amuse myself as much as anyone who actually reads these posts. :) I thought I'd post a "cool" video that makes me smile, and a few (sorry guys) woman-friendly jokes below. Enjoy!

video


  • A couple is lying in bed.. The man says, "I am going to make you the happiest woman in the world." The woman says, "I'll miss you..."

  • "It's just too hot to wear clothes today," Jack says as he steps out of the shower. "Honey, what do you think the neighbors will think if Imow the lawn like this?" She answers, "Probably that I married you for your money."

  • He says, "Since I first laid eyes on you, I have wanted to make love to you really, really badly." She grumbles back, "Well, you succeeded."

Ha ha ha Gotta love sexist humor. Marie


Friday, August 24, 2007

Good News! Rachel's Totem has been chosen.

I've been chomping at the bit to share some good news, but had to wait until everyone who'd entered the submission pool had been contacted. Okay, drumroll please... My novella, Rachel's Totem, has been selected, along with five other stories, for Samhain's cat shifter anthology, to be published in the Spring of 2008. Here are the happy participants:

For the erotic romance anthology titled Feral Attraction:
Rachel’s Totem by Marie Harte
Claiming Their Mate by Dena Russo

For an as yet untitled romance anthology:
The Wallflower by Dana Marie Bell
Treasure Hunting by J.B. McDonald

For an as yet untitled urban fantasy anthology:
Even For Me by Taryn Blackthorne
Tiger by the Tail by Kaye Chambers


If you'd like to try to name the untitled anthologies and win some nice prizes, check out Samhain's weblog for details.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Marie

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Backlist Tuesday: A FAMILIAR FACE

There's just something about this cover I absolutely love. It's not the purple font, or the loopy script. Oh, I know. It's the hunk stretching out those gorgeous sets of abs and lats! Okay, call me shallow. But when I'm on the hunt for a book, the cover can attract or repel me. If the title's particularly good, I'll give the book a looksie despite what the cover looks like. But Poser artwork and ugly cover models are a real turn-off, which can hurt a decent read.

But since this particular story is both entertaining (heck, I can say that, I wrote it) and has a kick-*ss cover, I'll leave it to you to take a peak or not.

A Familiar Face was published back in April 2007, amidst a lot of release date confusion. Thus, I didn't do much promotion for it, and felt like a lot of readers not with familiar with New Concepts Publishing, through which the book arrived, missed out.

Here's a short blurb, and a link to an excerpt that's readable (please don't mention the one still needing changes at my publisher, ack.)

Barely making ends meet, trade witch Mallory West finds a purpose, and an intriguing gray-skinned warrior in an alternate world, to more than make up for her lack at home.

Trade Witch Mallory West is a heartbeat from losing her rent-controlled apartment, has run out of a witch's stock in trade--wax, and can't afford a decent familiar, needing to act as her own. In an effort to ease her financial hardships, she works part-time at The Python Palace, waiting tables. Late on a Friday night after working an unexpected shift, she receives a surprising invitation from her boss to take a rest upstairs in the exclusive Lounge. Drawn to one of the mysterious black doors sitting so somberly against a wall, she enters and takes a well-deserved nap. But the world to which she wakes is nothing like the one she left, save for the large, incredibly sexy, gray-skinned warrior who looks surprisingly like her boss at The Palace. The man, however, is War Leader of the Talians--a fierce race fighting desperately to survive a crushing enemy. Mallory’s sudden appearance at their pleasure house stuns the wary Talians. And they don’t tolerate surprises, or those they think might be enemy spies, well at all.

Interested? Click here for an excerpt.

Happy Reading.

Marie

Friday, August 17, 2007

Food For Thought

First, I'd like to direct you to Samhain's blog, where I'm today's guest host. My topic is Food for Thought, about how food relates to characters in the books we read. And I've added a recipe for an outstanding and easy to make chocolate trifle. YUM! That said, I just had to post this joke. It's too funny. Enjoy!

A man escapes from prison where he has been for 15 years. He breaks into a house to look for money and guns and finds a young couple in bed. He orders the guy out of bed and ties him to a chair. While tying the girl to the bed, he gets on top of her and kisses her neck. Then he gets up and goes into the bathroom.

While he's in there, the husand tells his wife, "Listen, this guy's an escaped convict! Look at his clothes! He probably spent lots of time in jail and hasn't seen a woman in years.

I saw how he kissed your neck. If he wants sex, don't resist. Don't complain. Do whatever he tells you. Satisfy him no matter how much he nauseates you. This guy is probably very dangerous. If he get angry, he'll kill us. Be strong. Honey, I love you."

To which the wife responds, "He wasn't kissing my neck. He was whispering in my ear. He told me he was gay. He thought you were cute and asked if we had any Vaseline. I told him it was in the bathroom. Be strong honey.

I love you too!!"



Happy Friday!!!
Marie

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Where Does the Time Go?



Ah, the fine art of procrastination. I'd venture that few have mastered that flawless skill as wonderfully as I have. *sigh*

There are so many projects I need to get to, and only so much time in the day. And yet I'm still behind where I wanted to be. Scrapping the first three chapters of my last Storm Lords to start over doesn't help, but the book is finally moving the way I want it to.

Getting started and finished on that marketing plan that I need in order to best promote my books is still flagging. Every time I start this stupid thing, my mind scatters in a million different directions and I end up getting less, rather than more, done.

Sad to say, but I've fallen into one of those work sinkholes it takes some effort to escape. But no worries, I've done it before. I'll do it again.

The funny thing is, I know I'm goofing off. And with the start of school, and having to get up with my kids at freakin' o'dark thirty, I can't stay up late anymore, which has really cut into my writing time. But with the church daycare program starting up next week, and my toddler leaving the nest for a few hours daily, I see major change in my writing time....I hope...

Just curious if the procrastination thing is just me, or if everyone does it. Sometimes I chalk it up to a lack of discipline on my part, and at other times I blame my mother. I was born late, so this is all her fault, right? ha ha

Marie

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Promo From My POV

That Evil Step-Mother, Promotion

I was recently privy to a loop where promotion was discussed in length. Personally, I think the idea of a marketing plan is a good idea. Whenever I have a new release, I'm scrambling to figure out where to advertise and which loops allow promo on which days. It's a headache. And it's hard to know what works and what doesn't, especially since I don't have a lot of time to devote to promo. Because if I'm focused there, I'm not writing. And writing time is invaluable to me. (I think this sentiment applies to most authors.)

That said, my work is primarily electronic. And if I don't throw my name and new book title out there, it's hard to make sales. Yeah, it's easier for me now since I've been marketing "Marie Harte" for the past three years with books published, but the goal is to attract a bigger readership while maintaining the one I have.

Several tips I've found helpful, though a solid marketing plan will definitely make my life a lot easier, are the following:

  • Newsletters work. Keep your readers up to date while teasing with new excerpts and upcoming works.

  • Advertise on review sites, because many of these are affordable and grant a broader audience

  • Guest blogging helps, as does writing articles for different newsletters/posts

  • Try to participate in chat loops. I belong to many, so this is difficult for me. But I try to involve myself as often as possible.

  • Push for interviews and author spotlights. These can cost money as well, but in the long run it's worth the exposure.


Think about it. We all know Nora Roberts and Sherrilyn Kenyon, but they're print authors. Their books are carried by major booksellers and retailers like WalMart. So people can see their names over and over again. But in the electronic world, an electronically pubbed author really needs to spread her or his own name. I look at it this way. The publishers help, but it's my career, and I've got more invested in it than anyone else does.

So I plan to put my pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, and come up with a solid plan to market my work. And I'm going to plug Romance Junkies and The Romance Studio as great sites to promote your work. I've used both, and the costs are low, the readership fairly high. So as soon as I get that marketing plan written, I'm going to jump on those bandwagons. :)

More tomorrow. Chow!


Marie

Sunday, August 12, 2007

New Contest

AUGUST CONTEST

It's that time again! The Romance Junkies Writing Contest is ongoing, and it needs voters!!
This year I'm on the judge's panel. Read excerpts from the stories and rate what you think. Each week new stories are added, the old ones taken off the rating poll.
To encourage participation, I'm offering the chance for 1 person to win a $20 Barnes & Noble gift certifcate.
  • To be eligible to win, simply email me the names of the entries you rated. Don't tell me what you rated, just the stories that you rated on. Send the email to marie_harte@yahoo.com, with August Contest in the subject line.
  • For every 5 stories rated, your name is entered once in the drawing. There are 16 entries this week, so if you rate all the stories, your name goes in the pool 3 times.
  • Winner announced August 18th

Good Luck, and don't let my deadline stop you from rating all the stories throughout the second week of September. I get to critique one of the top-rated books. The more you rate, the better the book is that I'll eventually critique. So thanks in advance!!


Marie

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Never Ending Sig Line

Hope you like the new cover for my upcoming short story, Mirror Mirror, coming soon to Loose Id.

Marie Harte
Experience the paranormal, the future and the fantasy of romance
http://www.marieharte.com/


Welcome to the wonderful world of sig lines, or Signature Lines--one of my more recent pet peeves. With the advent of the Internet and the influx of correspondence now done electronically, a lot of people now use sig lines instead of tagging their names to each and every email sent. Of course, this presents a great headache when friends and associates forget that we only have so much time in the day to download and read our email. And God-forbid you're on dial-up. You'll never get your emails downloaded.


For writers, a sig line often possesses three things: Author name, author link (i.e. website/blog) and a catch phrase associated with the writer. Some authors like to mention a current work, a publisher, or an award they've earned. HOWEVER, some people sign their emails with everything but the kitchen sink. For example, on the loops, it's not uncommon to see someone post an engaging piece, then end with:
Annette Alphabet
Erotic Romance at Its best
www dot anniealphabet dot com, http slash and dot blogspot, wordpress, www dot www dot etc
Fictionseller bestseller
Seven and Seven, coming soon from Book Publisher
Now available, One on One, Two on Two, Three by Three, Four at Four, Lucky at Cards, Unlucky at Love ...
And the book names keep on coming!! I mean, sorry, but come on! (I'm harping on those involved in the writing industry here, since that's the majority of people I deal with daily on the Internet.) Do we really need to see every single book you've ever published in the sig line? And why are four or five different websites and blogs mentioned? The sig line should stick in the reader's mind for effect, and if it's too long, wordy or confusing, people will most likely ignore the bottom of a post/email, which completely goes against the reason for posting it in the first place.


Now I'm not saying it's wrong to create a paragraph of a sig line, but my personal preference, and all the posts I've ever seen written on the subject, mention the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. (a great axiom often prescribed in the Marine Corps as well. :)


And for those of you who post on yahoo loops without cropping messages, remember, your sig line and others are repeated and repeated and repeated, making reading the loops just as difficult as reading your emails.

Just wanted to mention an unfortunate trend I'm seeing more and more of lately. *sigh*

Happy Friday anyway!!


Marie

Monday, August 6, 2007

Inspiration

Inspiration Strikes

A questions I'm often asked, how the heck did you come up with that story? The answer varies, but I think most writers will say that their inspiration comes from everywhere and everyone.

I have the oddest muse. Mine visits when I'm in the shower. Don't ask me why, but as I stand under the warm beads of water, watching soap and suds swirl down the drain, I get the best ideas. Then it's usually a dash for my towel and a notebook to hurry up and jot down notes.

I'm a sci/fi, fantasy nut, so it's no surprise that I like to write futuristic and paranormal romances. Television is a wonderful resource. I love the Discovery Channel's specials on the universe. The History Channel's disection of holidays and religious traditions. Then there's the Scifi Channel, always a thrill. Books, people you pass on the street or in the mall. Everyday occurrences make me wonder, what could I do with this in a book?

Creating worlds and societal rules is always fun. But sometimes coming up with names can be a real pain. I have a book of baby names I use when writing contemporaries and paranormals, but I like my futuristics to be more creative when it comes to character names. I mean, come on. A male fugititve from planet Nolan who's name is Harry? For those names, I often look right on my desk. It's great fun to bastardize letterhead or advertisements to come up with names. Gren, for example, from Winner Takes All and Lurin's Surrender, found his name from a post card on my desk with the word "green" on it. I took out an "e," and Gren was born.

Bottom line, creation is always a thrill, and inspiration can strike from the most unlikely of places.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday Laughs

Am I crazy for being up at 4 in the morning? Heck, yeah. But I just can't get to sleep with a jumble of thoughts in my head. And heck, I'm a night owl. Sleep? Sleep is for the dead! Which is what I'll be tomorrow since I'm typing late at night.

So to enjoy a Friday before the weekend hits, I'm posting two jokes courtesy of my good friends Gladys and Teri. These two posts will have you laughing out loud.


Enjoy! Marie
*****


Why You Never Question a Drunk

I was shopping at the local supermarket where I selected:

A half-gallon of 2% milk,
A carton of eggs,
A quart of orange juice,
A head of romaine lettuce,
A 2 lb. can of coffee, and
A 1 lb. package of bacon.


As I was unloading my items on the conveyor belt to check out, a drunk standing behind me watched as I placed the items in front of the cashier.

While the cashier was ringing up the purchases, the drunk calmly stated,
"You must be single."

I was a bit startled by this proclamation, but I was intrigued by the derelict's intuition, since I was indeed single. I looked at the six items on the belt and saw nothing particularly unusual about my selections that could have tipped off the drunk to my marital status.

Curiosity getting the better of me, I said: "Well, you know what, you're absolutely right. But how on earth did you know that?"

The drunk replied, "Cause you're ugly."

*****

Three men were hiking through a forest when they came upon a large, raging violent river. Needing to get on the other side, the first man prayed, "God, please give me the strength to cross the river." Poof? God gave him big arms and strong legs and he was able to swim across in about 2 hours, having almost drowned twice.
After witnessing that, the second man prayed, "God, please give me strength and the tools to cross the river." Poof! God gave him a rowboat and strong arms and strong legs and he was able to row across in about an hour after almost capsizing once.

Seeing what happened to the first two men, the third man prayed, "God, please give me the strength, the tools and the intelligence to cross this river." Poof! He was turned into a woman. She checked the map, hiked one hundred yards up stream and walked across the bridge.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

News on the Writing Front

Ah, the time between manuscripts... I've been working on Guardian's Redemption on and off, only to realize there's something about it that's not sitting right. Then I rewrote the first page from a completely different angle, and felt it hit. Yes. Finally. Which means I have several chapters I'll have to rework and try to fit in...somehow. It's frustrating, since I really liked what I'd already written. But it just won't work for the story I have in mind. My last chapter of the Storm Lords should be a conclusion, but I also want it to stand alone as its own story, unlike the other four books. An interesting concept, and one I'm working on.

On another note, I've contracted a short story with Loose Id about a ghost and two potential lovers with misconceptions about each other, Mirror, Mirror Standing Tall. I'm hoping it will be out in time for Halloween. And I finished A Royal Continuum, a novel about Matthias, one of Ferin's brothers from Firebreather, for Amber Quill. I just need to polish it before submitting.

But still, I'm bent on finishing my Storm Lords by the end of this month. I might be taking on more than I can chew, but I think if I really put my mind to it, I can meet my own deadline. At least as far as the rough draft goes.

Well, that's my news for today. More tomorrow!

Marie