Monday, September 30, 2013

My Novel Is Under Contract!

If you are a friend or family member, you already know my exciting news but I feel the need to shout it from the rooftop of my blog. I'm under contract with Soul Mate Publishing for my debut novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS!!!

I couldn't be happier. I couldn't be more excited. I couldn't be more scared.

Here's how it went down. My editor, Debby Gilbert, a senior editor and founder of Soul Mate Publishing, asked for the first thee chapters of THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS during an online pitch session in April. I edited and polished the chapters, gave them an air kiss and sent them on their way.

Then I waited.

Okay, it was only a couple of months (which is very fast in the publishing world) but still. One night I came home after dining out and checked my email before going to bed. The editor said she enjoyed my first three chapters so much that she wanted to see the full manuscript. Elation. And no sleep that night but it was worth it.

I spent the month of May polishing and editing my novel (yet again) sans makeup, dirty hair, vitamin D (sunshine) and in my pj's practically the entire month hoping one of the four editors/agents who requested a partial during April would want a full. That hard-core editing paid off because I was ready to send it to Soul Mate Publishing right away when she requested the full.

A few more nail-biting weeks passed. The editor, Debby, sent an email apologizing for not getting back to me, saying it would take a couple more weeks. More sleepless nights ensued. Then, one morning I awakened to read her email saying she wanted to sign me. She wanted to represent me. She loved THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS.

Ta-da! I was thrilled. Since it's my debut novel, it was important for me to hear from a complete stranger in the publishing biz that my work was good enough to be published. Maybe it's just me but I needed that validation. I didn't want to assume that because my mom, daughter, girlfriends and a few beta readers liked my novel that it was good enough. I'm glad I took the time to go through this process.

First, I'll have an ebook (which I've never had so that's another exciting aspect) and a print book will follow several months later. I'm thrilled I'll have both types of books available. By the way, my novel is a work of women's fiction with elements of romance, humor and suspense.

Now, I've got tons of forms to fill out, formatting to do, tax prep, cover art to consider, a SMP blog to join, review sites to pour over, marketing ideas and more to work on. I also told my editor that I've started the sequel and she was happy to hear that. Uh oh. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that. I could use a break, but of course, I won't take much of one. My novel is under contract!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sprinkle Fairy Dust

No, I don't write fantasy, although I do write children's picture books, as well as novels. You'll get the gist of the fairy dust soon.

While dining with my husband at Nicola's, our favorite restaurant, the chef, Nicola Gilardi (who is well aware that I write children's books) pointed me out to a young couple and their first-grade daughter. They were sitting one table over and I could see the young girl's mouth fall open as the chef told her about me. (This is how young children react to authors. It's precious.)

Luckily, I had some bookmarks in my purse and asked the parents for their daughter's name. At first I spelled it Landry (should have asked) and handed it to her. I asked if I had spelled it correctly. The mom said, "No, but that's okay." I assured her it wasn't okay and found another bookmark in my purse.

I then made it out to Landrie and autographed the bookmark. I asked the young girl where she went to school and let Landrie know about my upcoming contest for SANTA'S SECRET. As hubby said, her eyes were as big as pizzas and she nearly trembled with excitement. I gave her a hint (the same hint I'll give everyone when I announce the contest) and told her I'd be in contact with her teacher.

We proceeded to eat, and after a few minutes Landrie (who was wearing my favorite leopard print, by the way,) brought over a beautiful page she had carefully colored while her parents were enjoying wine. She addressed it to me and signed it, so now we both have a treasured keepsake.

Have you sprinkled any fairy dust lately? Please do. It'll come back to you.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Twenty Things I Learned Being A Contest Chair

Last year, I was asked to be the 2013 contest chair for Ozarks Writers League (OWL). As a writer, I've entered a few contests and know how thrilling it is to win--even to participate in fun, unique categories, so I blindly said, "Yes." I also said yes because my good friend, Jan Morrill, is president of OWL and I wanted to help her since she does nearly everything else.

Here are 20 things I learned during the process:

1.  There are many excellent writers in OWL. I mean there's some outstanding, jaw-dropping talent.

2.  Some writers use rusted paperclips, colorful paperclips, staples or no clips whatsoever. It doesn't matter. Just an observation.

3.  A few used yellowed paper while others used crisp, white paper. Of course, neither matters to the judges.

4.  A couple of people still use a TYPEWRITER, white-out and all. I found this amazing and pretty cool and pictured old-time, well-known authors hunched over their typewriters.

5.  Some of the new categories were VERY popular, as were several fan favorites. (Of course, I can't tell you which ones because you'd enter the less-popular categories next year, now, wouldn't you?

6.  Many wanted to get their $10 worth and entered many of the 16 categories.

7.  A lot of writers waited until the last minute and had to pay priority postage. (When I enter contests, I do the same thing.)

8.  A large amount of people seem to like the color "Red" in their titles. Interesting trivia.

9.  Paper cuts are going to happen.

10.  Trash cans will overflow with large, opened envelopes.

11. I learned I needed a secretary. My husband felt sorry for me and FINALLY helped me sort one evening.

12. My dining room was trashed for a week. Now, the piles are dwindling as I search for all of the judges' snail mail addresses. (I should have done that in August.)

13.  It's very important for the entrants to include the contest number on their cover sheet and their titles on their entries. It expedites the sorting process for the various categories.

14. Several out-of-state writers participated which surprised me.

15. If the rules state a certain word count (say, 1,500 or 3,000), the entrants often come in one word under said WC or right on the dime.

16. I kept forgetting to look at the outside of the envelopes to make sure the postmark date was Sept. 1 or before. (So I had to dig through my trash. Often. And all met the deadline date.)

17. Some joined OWL specifically to enter the contest, it seems, since their membership check also accompanied their entry fee and entries.

18. A few authors listed both their real name and pen name. I wonder which they'd prefer on a winning certificate?

19. I didn't have nearly as much time to play on social media (or write) in September.

20. I had to get organized. A spreadsheet isn't necessary but there must be a SYSTEM. Mine is handwritten first and will be typewritten soon.

I'd recommend everyone try this chair position at least once. It's a good learning experience and you get to sample so many writers' work. One copy goes to the judges and the chair keeps the other one in case of loss in the mail, an entry eaten by a judge's dog or whatever, I suppose. Reading the entries will be a nice treat/reward when the weather turns cold. That's my paycheck!

Finally, I'll get to make some writers really happy in November when I announce the awards and recognize their achievements. Here's a link to the 2013 categories if you are interested:!contests/coug

Good luck, everyone, and thanks once more to our generous sponsors and judges!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ten Surprising Things About Me

I love getting to know other writers and readers so I thought I'd list ten random things about me from childhood to adulthood. I think you might be surprised!

1.  I swam with sharks in the Bahamas. Really. I've got the pictures to prove it. See. (They feel like sandpaper, by the way.)

2. I'm a Leo through and through. I couldn't be MORE like a Leo, actually.

3. I've been mistaken twice for the actress who played Shelly (Ted Dansen's girlfriend) on Cheers--once in New York City and once in Oklahoma. I don't think I look a thing like her.

4. I've climbed the huge, world famous (and slippery) Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica three times. My daughter joined me on one of those trips.

5. I was extremely shy as a toddler. Non-speaking shy (even with relatives). As a young girl, I ran and hid when my aunt and uncle arrived, hit my head on the television and bled like a stuck pig. All because I was shy. I still have a scar on my forehead.

6. I love to deep-sea fish and have caught some whoppers--a 25-pound tuna in Florida and a 40-pound Mahi Mahi in the Bahamas (pictured here alongside hubby's, er, guppy. lol). Note: Everyone ate that fish but me. I just didn't have the heart.

7. I was a HUGE Elvis fan. Still am.  I used to kiss the television when he performed (and cry). I got to see him live in concert two months before he died. What a tragic death. I'm still sad about it. I've been to Graceland twice and even got to see the inside of his mansion.

8. I didn't know how to cook when I was married the first time. I remember calling Mom and asking how long to cook a ham or roast and whether it needed water or a lid on the pan!

9. I was a cheerleader in middle school. (I came out of my shyness then. Sink or swim, as they say.) I was also drum captain for the Kilties in high school. By the way, the Kiltie Drum & Bugle Corps is the oldest women's drum corps in the United States, a tradition I'm proud to keep alive. This photo is when we marched over the same bridge that Paul Revere galloped across to announce the British were coming in Concord, Mass. I'm the first drummer on the far left (probably blocked by the flag). My good friend, Jackie, is the majorette in the middle with the big black hat.

37 years ago today
CHS Kilties
Concord, Mass

10. I was a single mom for 16 years. My daughter and I had a lot of fun (and stress as a single working mom) but mainly fun.

That's it. A bit in the life of Beth. I hope you enjoyed finding out random things about me. Now, it's your turn! Tell me some things I may not know about you.