Patently addicted~Why I prefer to walk on the Wild Side

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I was rummaging through my wardrobe looking for stuff to donate when I  reacquainted myself with my shoes. Patent leather, PVC, fetish heels…when thinking of my footwear, the term ‘exotic’ comes to mind. My sister calls them stripper heels. Very few of my shoes have less than a 3″ heel, most will take my 5’8″ frame and turn me into a 6’+ Glamazon Goddess.

Some women love sensible heels, ballet flats, tennis shoes, ect…I don’t.  While  other little girls were racing about in Mary Janes, I was tottering in my first heels (required dress code for female chancel choir members). Since I was 10, they’ve been a constant presence in my wardrobe. By the time I was 13, I could run in stilettos. I love the sound they make as I walk, I love the wide variety of styles, colors, trims…and the higher the heel the better. For where I live, my natural height is average, but my body type is not. It’s an overblown hourglass.  Heels help elongate my frame & make me look more proportionate, assist with posture, and are great for self defense. I had a lovely pair of custom steel-toed Demonia styled boots that I used for breaking shins and insteps whenever creeps got too hands on during my solo backpacking trip in Europe, and a divine set of 6 inch spike heels that were my standard frat boy defense during parties at college.

For every major event in my life, I can remember the shoes I wore with it–there were the 4 1/2″ burgundy faux croc embossed stiletto heeled T-straps I wore on my 1st cruise, the 3 1/2″ metallic black and silver lighting snakeskin peep-toes when my fiance proposed, the 6″ heels with 1/2″ platform PVC pearlescent peacock blue Mary Jane’s I wore to college graduation, and the distressed leather 5″ spike heeled mid-thigh biker boots I brought out for clubbing or riding on my friend’s scooter. I love my shoes; Pleasers, Jante, Demonia, Elle, Chinese Laundry, and more…the colors and the styles found in the more exotic range suit my personality to a T. So, while I have house-slippers and gym shoes moldering somewhere in my closet, it’s my heels that see the most use. Killer fashion accessories, defensive weapons, and always reliable…I’ll let my sister stick to her delicate ballet slippers and infernally slapping thong sandals. I’m addicted to walking on the wild side :)

How about you? Do you have a preference for footwear, or favorite shoes?

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On the Road Again…

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Things are pretty dire in my neck of the woods, & I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been a bit distracted recently. Family complications have arisen, my mom, sister, and I will all be banding together for a mini-road trip this weekend to see my Grandparents. My grandfather just got out of the hospital; this was his 3rd committal in less than a month.

He’s struggling with some critical health issues, and just when it seems like he’s won one battle, another pops up in it’s place. I’m not sure how much fight he’s got left…and I don’t know if it will be enough to see him through. The family’s been pulling rotating visits to go out and lend support since my grandparents are understandably not up to receiving visitors en masse. Less than 3 weeks ago,  my grandfather was in ICU. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandkids, siblings…4 generations have been steadily conducting a changing of the guard by his side, and now it’s our turn again. It’s so hard to see him fading away with each visit, to see the strain on my grandmother’s face as she watches the man she loves go into decline…to know that no matter how hard we try to lend support, cheer him up, encourage him to go on…he might not. We might lose him.

A Wench by any other Name…

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Years ago, when I first started reading historical romances, I felt like I was getting a crash course in an exotic dialect…there were so many unfamiliar terms and phrases that at times, reading the story came second to puzzling out the meaning behind individual words. Most authors provide enough context that I got the jist of it, but I was determined to do better. I wanted to be able to smoothly read a Regency, breezing right through period jargon, and KNOW the meaning of what I read, not merely guess.

Thus began a years long pursuit of compiling various Regency terms, idioms, slang, and cant–a massive undertaking made even more time consuming by the fact that I wanted my dictionary to be as accurate as possible both in definition and period–so I made the decision to stick with period resources (The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, Pierce Egan’s Boxiana, and the works of Georgette Heyer).

As time passed, I made the transition from Regency Reader to Writer, and discovered a new purpose for my dictionary–instead of puzzling out the meaning of a word, it also became my thesaurus. How many words could you use to denote someone as a courtesan? What were some of the more common oaths? If your characters were dealing with London’s criminal class, what was the dialect? What began as side project to enhance my reading became an invaluable resource to my writing.

In the wake of releasing my debut novel After Midnight, I joined a variety of Social Media, including Twitter. As I neared the 200 follower mark, I decided to do something special for my fans. A gift. Despite working on 2 other stories, I began building new pages for my website, painstakingly formatting then uploading my research to the web, and released the addition earlier this morning.  “Regency Cant & Expressions” is now live online; a free resource  for all lovers of the Regency Period, and I do hope you’ll enjoy :)

The Advantages to being a Night Owl

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I recently read an interesting article (written by what I assume to be a morning person) on how being a night owl can be detrimental to one’s health, employment, relationships, life, ect…

Some people shine in daylight, others at night. Here is my perspective (related purely to my personal experience–I do not claim to speak for night owls everywhere): Being a Night Owl rocks.

Want proof? Cities come alive at night. The arts district, the club district, the theatre, the cinema–ALL of them kick into high gear after the sun goes down. A city that was piles of concrete baking in the sun is transformed into a twinkling urban fantasy of lights, sounds, and people. Instead of shuttling back and forth to workplace drudgery, most of the people you meet are out to explore and have a good time. More often than not, my day begins with a party–watching movies with loved ones, belting tunes in karaoke, finding new places to dance or eat, and the people around me contribute to a celebratory mood. Night time is when everyone seems to give themselves permission to cut loose, unwind, and have fun.

Then when the party’s over and it’s time to get down to business, or run errands, being a night owl is fantastic. No rush hour traffic to worry about. Shorter lines at most places including supermarkets–most in my area are open ’til midnight, and Wal-Mart supercenters are open 24hrs. Even banking’s not a problem with direct deposit and online account management, though if I feel the need to go to a bank, ATM’s are always 24hrs, and Bank of America will let me do cash deposits through them whenever I’d like.

For personal relationships, friendships, ect…I’ve never had it better in my life than since I’ve been a Night Owl. I’m fresh and rested when they come staggering in from another day at the office, and I can generally make them smile. I’m never short of temper, because I haven’t been dealing with irritations or annoyances or office politics all day–I can give them my full attention without being distracted by worplace stress or fatigue, and I’m always up for going out on the days they want to unwind. They get the best of me–not what’s left after the daily grind and  dealing with rush hour traffic.

Then after spending time with them, I go on to my job. For employment, no worries—there are plenty of jobs & employers out there who need employees willing to hold down the fort during the dark hours, and those shifts are generally the easiest to come by–less competition from the dawn-raiders & the morning majority. And while odds are you’ll meet a few interesting characters working so-called graveyard shifts, in reality–it’s generally less busy & therefore less stressful than having the same shift earlier in the day.

There’s takeout and fast food at all hours of the night, and even 24hr restaurants like IHOP and JoJo’s, and Steak n Shake;  and if I feel like dining earlier (say 6-10pm) there’s practically unlimited choices because you’d be hard-pressed to find  any restaurant that closed its doors to the dinner crowd.

And if forced to stay up during the day…I’m generally pretty mellow. It’s when I’ve been up for over 32hrs that I seem to run into problems. Then again, with that kind of sleep deprivation, it wouldn’t matter if I was a Night Owl or a morning person, no one would function at 100%.

When my day winds to a close (generally around 9-11am), I’ll have made my friends and family’s day when they came home the night before,  attended to my business while they slept, sent them off to work again with a smile, and be ready to celebrate all over again when they come home in a few hours. Being a night owl gives me the freedom to live my life, and to live the best parts of it. I never  feel as though I’m missing out, I always find time to enjoy myself, and I routinely enjoy watching the sunrise and sunset…just in reverse order ;)

09/25/2011 –Interviewing Sarah Williams, Author of “Captive”

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I’m pleased to feature the very first author interview I’ve ever conducted, and I couldn’t be more happy with the subject.  Please welcome Sarah Williams, an independent author who’s debut novel “Captive” is a unique twist on thrillers.

Author Bio:

Sarah Williams is an author and freelance writer.  Born in Salisbury, England, Sarah moved to Australia in 2008 and now lives in the Illawarra with her boyfriend and ever growing collection of plants.  Sarah enjoys good food and wine, gardening, yoga, reading and films.

Links:
http://www.amazon.com/Captive-ebook/dp/B005ITYF2W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1316922889&sr=1-1
http://twitter.com/#!/wordsbywilliams
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-Williams/272696322756528?ref=pb
http://www.wordsbywilliams.blogspot.com/
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5164274.Sarah_Williams

Tell us a bit about your book and where it’s available.

“Captive” is a thriller with a supernatural twist.  I purposefully avoid going into too much detail about my book as I feel it gives too much of the story away.  The tale begins with a young woman who awakes in a hotel room that she has no memory of falling asleep in.  She is alone, scared and inexplicably afraid of the dark.

“Captive” is available in e-book format via Amazon and Smashwords.

What was the inspiration for your book?

The idea for “Captive” literally came out of nowhere.  The idea just popped into my head one day and it just grew from there.

Who would provide the soundtrack to your book?

I think an album by Muse would fit quite nicely with my book.

Which character in your book do you identify with the most? Why?

 I think there’s a little bit of me in a few of the characters in this book but I probably identify most with Lux as she shares a number of my traits.

Do you have any other books currently available?

Not at this stage, though the sequel to “Captive” is currently in the works.

What will you be working on next?

The sequel to “Captive” is currently my main focus however I’m also playing with a few ideas surrounding a comedy.  I’ve never written in this genre before so it will be a new challenge for me.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

I’m a huge film fan and love going to the cinema or snuggling up on the sofa to watch DVDs.  I’m also an avid reader and like nothing more than a good book, a hot bath and a glass of wine.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

I love the escapism when you lose yourself in a world entirely of your own making.  Sitting down and realising you’ve knocked out several chapters – several good chapters – is a very satisfying feeling.

What do you find hardest about being a writer?

As a self published author I find the marketing and self-promotion really difficult.  It takes up a lot of my time.

What do you enjoy reading?  Who is your favourite author?

I enjoy a range of books but particularly like thrillers, horror and historical fiction.  I’m a big fan of Dean Koontz, Carol Goodman and Sarah Rayne.

What would be your ideal writer’s haven for creating your novel?  

Somewhere with as few distractions as possible!  I could imagine myself tucked away in a quiet nook of an old library with a massive desk and a big comfortable chair.

What’s something not many people know about you?

That I wrote, directed and starred in my very own film…when I was about ten.  But still, it was an achievement at the time.  I was also an extra in the King Arthur film and you can see me – dirty looking peasant – for about five seconds at the end.

Time for Fireworks…

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Celebrations are in order. Tonight, I went from pursuing the dream to living it!

In general, I live my life as I please. I find it easier to be myself than be a method actor, and my life’s too short to waste on pretending to be something and someone I’m not. It hasn’t always been the easiest road to take, and I know there are millions of people out there struggling with the same issues.

Tonight, all that effort, all the 1,001 things that I’ve endured, lived through, experienced, and learned on the journey to simply being me…all the years of writing, knowing that I wanted to be a romance author, that I wanted to be able to share my stories with others, and my refusal to give up in the face of rejection letters or snarky comments, disdain, & scorn…all of that solidified into the knowledge that I am exactly who and what I want to be.

What brought on this epiphany? Tonight, as I was tallying up the  numbers from across my distribution channels, I realized I’d reached 50 sales. True, it’s not a staggering amount, and I already knew I was a published author, but it never felt real to me before tonight. It’s finally dawned on me that after all this time, after staying true to myself, my passion, and what I love, I finally achieved my dream:  I am a romance author.

For anyone out there battling for their dream, keep at it. Follow your heart, your interests, and be proud of who you are. Every one of us is unique, don’t be afraid to show it. Let it shine. With only one life to live, what’s the point of living it like someone else?

PS: I’d also like to express my profound gratitude for those who stood by me & supported me on this journey. Hold onto your seats, because I’m just getting started!

I’m picking up Good Vibrations…

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Even more jam-packed days since the last post; this time, I used the interim period for my Author’s Website to go live, check for displayed issues  & feedback  on Amazon’s KDP forum, networked with WoMen’s Literary Cafe on their Facebook threads for #ShareTheLove & #TagNLIke, and then watched my Twitter follower count explode. The remainder of this post is geared for authors and writers wanting to get involved in social media.

I’d like to take a moment to praise WoMen’s Literary Cafe. It’s a great place designed for Author & Writers to network with each other,  to help promote likes, followers, and product tags on Amazon by supporting each other & interconnections through social media, and it works strictly the honor policy.  It also flat out works.

I have about 80 more tweeps than I did 24hrs ago.

Working your way through the lists sends ricochets pinging through Amazon, the twitter-verse, and FB, and in return, links for you & your work will be spread by dozens if not hundreds of writing professionals to their 1,000s of followers. It’s a domino/ripple effect, and it’s extraordinarily powerful.  The lists are rather intimidating, and they continue to grow as the community expands, but the effort is well worth it. I just completed the lists this morning, my sales are up, my excerpts have been re-tweeted across several other author’s follower lists,  & my followers & FB likes are up as well. However, they do check to make sure that users continue participating in the lists; if you’re not, you’ll be removed.

So here’s to seeing the return of social media karma; it makes for good vibrations indeed.

Predictions on Book Signings, Cons, and Launches

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I just finished a very grim read on Joe Konwrath’s blog. In his post “Over” he expounds the prediction that the age of book signings is over, that book launches and event venues are going quietly into the night of oblivion, and that the advent of the eBook era has rendered these previous forms of connection and interaction between readers and authors obsolete.

He could very well be right. Despite that, and the compelling support from fellow authors and writers commenting on the post, I believe in a slightly different future. Call me a neophyte Pollyanna, but I believe there is still a place for these face-to-face interactions between readers and authors—they just need to be changed/re-envisioned to remain valid in today’s rapidly evolving  market.

Each of the below suggestions will work best if used in tandem with social media—blogging, tweeting, facebook, mySpace, Goodreads, online Bulletin Boards (BB’s) & Forums, ect…get the word out, and connect to your readers & community on a personal level. You could even arrange for signings, meet & greets, launches and events with geographically similar followers/authors, and hold a Bookworm Blitz at a local café, library, ect…

1st, book signings…rather than have stacks of paperbacks or Hardbacks, why not only bring a few of each—but a LOT of notecards with cover art from the book(s) you’re promoting to autograph for your readers on request. If you’re purely an eBook author, then just the notecards or similar material. Vistaprint seems to be a pretty reasonably priced print service for various sized promotional materials.

2nd, author meet & greets/interviews. Blog tours are gaining popularity, and you can always add in an extra level of immersion/interactivity by doing more than just sending text & images—you can record your voice or even videotape the interview using little more than a webcam, skpe (either normal/conference call, video call, or conference video call), a tape recorder, & a PC mic. You can choose to send not just your words, but yourself into the web. If you really enjoy it, you could create your own YouTube channel to broadcast your interviews along with book trailers & anything else you want. You can also meet & greet/interview in person by finding out geographically similar Twitter followers, FB fans, BB participants, and arranging a meet at a local venue.

3rd, book launches/events—It’s hard to imagine anything doing away with the RWA national conference or similar genre-specific Cons geared towards writers & authors in the industry, but if you don’t feel up to a large event (or possibly large expense) look into local writers/authors guilds, critique groups, or reading clubs—they may not be a large crowd, but it will give you an excellent opportunity to get them as individuals…and every author’s best marketers are his or her readers. Also, fellow authors can be very supportive of each other’s efforts. You might be surprised by how many might be willing to participate in a mini launch party to celebrate with one another following the completion of a work.

Do authors need to meet face-to-face with their reading audience to have a successful career? Absolutely not. Plenty of authors are doing just fine without making a single public appearance or video call/interview. It all depends on your comfort level, and whether or not you want to make that connection. Ebooks have made it possible to place your books in front of a worldwide reading audience & have sales take off without ever leaving your home; but thanks to social media, you can also choose to connect with them locally as well. The age of large scale signings, launches, and events may be be dying out & replaced  by digital debuts, but there’s still an opportunity to reach readers in real life.

I believe there will always be a place & desire for authors and readers to meet in person, not just on-line, but whether or not the possibility of doing so is explored relies on individual choice.

~Eryn

PS: This is by no means an ‘expert’ opinion; merely my own.

I’m Feeling Good…

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It’s been incredibly busy since the last post; in the past 4 days I picked a host, domain, and my entire fledgling author’s website was designed (complete with graphics, content, book excerpts & cover art). Now all that’s left is transferring it via FTP to my domain so that it will go live. I also signed up and was approved for All Romance eBooks’ Publisher/Author status, opted in to their review program, went on a formatting spree, and uploaded both After Midnight & The Hellfire Bride this morning. As of this evening, they’ve already had sales.  Cue Micheal Buble’s “I’m Feeling Good.”

This afternoon, I checked out another author’s blog for tips on how to use Twitter (I’ve only been tweeting for about 3 weeks, still pretty clueless), then went exploring determined to put his recommendations to use…with  rather comical results. I didn’t realize that Twitter’s Follow suggestions function like YouTube’s video suggestions: they never end. Which is how I went from following 8 people to 170 something in about an hour and a half. I was thrilled to find so many other readers and lovers of romance,  and was having a blast clicking on profiles and twitter feeds…I blame sleep deprivation for the reason I didn’t notice how the list kept expanding. LOL….hopefully I’ll be forgiven for my enthusiasm.

In other news, if you want a FREE ereader, Danielle (aka: DBookWhore on Twitter) is giving away her mint condition Nook! Enter for a chance to win at her blog:  http://www.bookwhoreblog.com/2011/09/nook-giveaway.html 

My 1st sale from Smashwords also came in, so now I’m officially generating revenue from all four of the distributors where my books are available. It feels great to know that my stories are going out to a wider public, and I’ve even gotten some great Reviews on Amazon for After Midnight. Anytime  formatting is giving me a migraine, I just pull up that page, and it’s better than Advil.

Plans for the rest of tonight are re-arranging my bedroom, packing away the last of my baby sister’s things, and hopefully getting my PC set up so I can continue writing Bittersweet.

An Older Sister Waves Goodbye…

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Today, I said farewell to my baby sister. She’s moving out of state for college, and she and my father have just begun the first leg of their 20hr road trip. I think it will be good for her, and I hope she’ll be happy.

Last night, we talked. I haven’t really been near the family home in more than 6 years aside from scattered family reunions, so it was the longest conversation we’ve had since I’d been in high school. It brought home the fact that I’d lost touch with her, and that she’d lost touch with me. We were sisters, but we didn’t know each other…separated by both years and distance until we could have been just casual acquaintances staring at each other over the neutral zone of the dining room table, a wide expanse tied by the bonds of blood,  her need to have someone to talk to, & my need to try somehow to comfort & counsel.

I listened as my little sister poured out her grief at the life she was leaving behind: boyfriend, friends, family, the city in which she’d grown up, her job…listened as she mourned the loss of her relationship, her nervousness over what awaited her in California, her rueful despair over finding anyone she cared for as much as the man she was leaving behind, as well as the time it would take to find and develop a romance with someone else.

I learned we had something in common. My baby sister, just like me, believes that the best relationships start as friendships and then grow into something more. Neither of us has much interest in the casual dating scene. The ones we loved were the ones we loved first as friends; each relationship was literally years in the making. Trying to start all over again with someone new was something my sister dreaded.

I learned how she wanted love, and how she despaired of finding it in college—the place where many people meet their future spouse.  My sister’s path in life is slated to be unique: she’ll be a military surgeon or engineer, with the possibility/probability of rotating through stations around the globe every few years. The second she completes her education, the military owns her. While she’s grateful to them for the opportunity, and intends to go career when she gets out…She doesn’t feel it would be right to drag a civilian spouse with her. Finding one who’s also military presents challenges of its own with the regulations against fraternization between officers (among others).

I listened, tried to comfort, counsel, step up to the plate & my responsibilities; an older sister awkwardly coping with the fact that her baby sister wasn’t a baby anymore. We talked, and I made her smile, then she packed the last of her things–entrusting me with two pots of lucky bamboo, her babies, who she feared wouldn’t survive the trip since there was no safe place left in her fully loaded VW beetle. And then she was gone….pulling out of the drive and heading for California with my father alongside.

I’ve never yet managed to keep a plant alive for more than two weeks, my ‘green thumb’ is practically spawn of Chernobyl–all I have to do is walk into a room, and I can practically see plants wither on the vine. But I as watched my sister’s taillights disappear, I resolved to do my best by the little green tykes. I’m going to keep them alive until their mother comes back for them at Winter Break.

After all, what are big sisters for?