Monday, December 19, 2011

12 Things I Hate About Christmas

I'm no Scrooge--(even if I wear Grinch socks) but admit it, there are things that make people crazy about the holidays no mater what you celebrate. So here's my list:

1) The "Christmas is so commercial!" whine. Let me clue you in on something: we live in a commercial world. People, and companies, will make a buck off anything or anyone they can. We buy bumper stickers that say "9/11- Never Forget." Does that make it any less profound and touching because someone sold it to you? I don't buy glow-in-the-dark Madonnas from St. Patrick's cathedral in NYC or send money to TV preachers who beg because I think it's tacky, tasteless, and self-serving--but I don't let it ruin the meaning of the religion behind it. Christmas is only commercial if YOU let it be.

2) Naked houses. Driving down streets at night, homes are a-glow with twinkling lights. Visit those same homes during the day and you'll be lucky if there's a wreath on the door. Let's consider daytime visual interest people; I need some greenery, ribbons and festive decorations.

3) Fruitcake. Hate it, won't eat it, don't bring it.

4) Stupid lawn blow-ups. I mean really, you plop this polyester bag on the lawn, plug it in, and a fan inflates it. It's a lazy way to decorate and during the day when the power's off, it looks like a mess. And Santa in an RV? Crass.

5) The Mall. Me, a woman, hate the mall?? It's overcrowded, stifling hot, overpriced, and filled with people at their greediest and nastiest (and don't even get me started on the parking wars).

6) Bad Christmas songs. Madonna singing Santa Baby (a song about selfish greed using sex) seems to be specifically made for the material girl, but that doesn't mean it's a song for the holidays. Sure, I joke around with the hubby and kids about wanting a deed to a platinum mine but it's more to make fun of the song. And treasured songs of old do not translate well into rap, heavy metal or disco, no matter who the artist is. At least once during the year, absorb some classical or traditional music so your soul doesn't starve for something cultural.

7) Christmas Decorations Before Halloween. Can I enjoy the two holidays between labor Day and Christmas? I love Halloween and Thanksgiving. Don't rush me.

8) Offensive Movies That Scare Children Who See Them. Movies like that one about a serial killer dressed as Santa; I think it was Silent Night, Deadly Night. Some people are really sick; to make such a revolting movie, your mother must be so disappointed.

9) Cheapskates. People will think nothing of dropping bucks on ridiculous junk like fake nails, jeans with more holes than fabric or antler hats for the dog (call the ASPCA), yet they walk by the Salvation Army kettle without putting at least some change in it. What if people passed you by when you were hungry, homeless, lost all your clothes in a fire or flood, or needed some emergency assistance?

10) Thieves. They're bad enough during the year but to target people through charitable scams is so low a snake would slap you. I think Dante needs to update his Inferno to include a circle in Hell for scum, because those people qualify.

11) Not Saying Merry Christmas When It's Obvious I Believe In It. Hint: I'm buying something Christmasy, like a personalized ornament, or a Jerry Garcia Christmas tie, or I have Christmas wrapping paper in my bag. See a theme here? I CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. Don't say "Happy Holidays." Need another hint? I'm wearing a (God forbid!) Christmas sweater, a nativity pin or jingle bell earrings. Don't make me pull out the musical Christmas pen.

12) People Who Whine 'I Can't Wait Till The Holidays Are Over.' Well obviously you're stressed about getting everything on the list done. If you're hosting Christmas dinner for the always-fighting in-laws, then stop hosting. Why continue to do something year after year that makes you miserable? Make changes! Unless of course you're like those people who have dental work done without novocaine (because you need to maintain absolute control). Then don't complain if it hurts! If you want to let your holiday be ruined, it's your choice. I just don't understand why anyone would. Don't burst my holiday happy bubble with complaints.

So there you have it. I have a few others, like people who say the religious aspect is gone (ahem, when was the last time you attended church? Donated time to a cause?). And stop bitching because for one day the movie theater or your favorite restaurant are closed and you're bored. Read a book. Sleep late. Have a party. Volunteer at a soup kitchen so Christians can celebrate.

And the list goes on, but you get the idea. Let's all try to have peace within, and amongst, ourselves--at least for one day.

Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!
Happy Chanukah!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And the Winner Is.....

My very first giveaway!

The Cup of Destiny has spoken!

(Actually the cup didn't do anything. I put all the names in and mixed them up. One son made the cup, the other chose the name.)

And it goes to....

Love Between Pages!

*Claps, jumps up like 2 year old, squeals like 4 year old.*

So, which book do you want? I'll even give you the choice of Sirenz, signed, if you wish. But feel free to pick any one book: Watersmeet, signed by Ellen Jensen Abbott, Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski, or Jeri Smith-Ready's Shade. And, I will ask those author buds if they will include signed bookmarks for each of their books. So I need your addy- you want to get it before Christmas, right?

Congrats, and peeps, keep reading and checking in- I'll be giving away more stuffies.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Word From The Wise

There are just some people who take FAN to a rocking level. I'm not talking about those 'moms' who have scenes from a certain book tattooed on their body (By the way moms, that's scary and creepy, and doesn't leave much room for other books you may fall in love with. And what do your husbands think?)

I'm losing the thought train here.

Superhero co-author Natalie Zaman and I, along with a host of other authors, were invited to "Unmask the Writer Within;" book signing, author workshops, lunch and Halloween party in Johnstown, New York. Hard times and that freaky snowstorm probably kept away some people, but we all had a great time, made new friends and talked books.

And then Melissa Marie, the darling of Mysteries on Main Street Book Store, gave one of these to each of us:

It's Sirenz, done through a series of photos of signs, objects, window bars, wrought iron, etc. in a lovely black frame.

It was my first gift from a fan. I was so touched and thrilled and astonished and speechless (really, me? right?). I've re-arranged my home office so I can be thankful for it, be inspired by it, and be humbled by it. By no means am I encouraging all fans to send such thoughtful, beloved, delightful gifts (while nice, I'd surely run out of room). Cheerful emails, blog comments, a chat at a book signing, a little note on FB mean so much to authors, especially those that are not in the spotlight, that are on a tight publicity budget, that don't fit the current trend (yes, I have no vampires, werewolves, zombies or steam-powered devices. Do have a witch though...) Sometimes we non-famous authors feel neglected, forgotten, overlooked. It takes so much advertising, going to book signings, blogging, interviewing, guest posting, and networking to steal a bit of attention. Nat and I have no famous relations, no connections in show biz or the literary world to ease our path; we're two moms from New Jersey who love to write and just want to share our books with as many people as we can.

It takes a simple reminder; a picture of 6 letters but a universe of meaning, to refresh our memories of why we write; because we love it. Sirenz was no labor; hard work at times, but the fun and laughter Nat & I shared will continue as the series progresses, come what may. So thank you, Melissa Marie, and your wonderful mother (who did the eye-catching photos) for such a priceless gift; appreciation for our work.

YOU get the first copy of Sirenz, Back In Fashion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How The Mighty Have Fallen...

Okay, I'm not mighty in any sense of the word, but just go with me.

 I'm sick--flu, cold, bug, whatever.
My nose is stuffed, my sinuses hurt, my throat is sore throat enough that I want to stamp my feet and scream. So I've fallen out of my routine. House needs to be vacuumed, novel isn't getting finished, errands aren't being run. Now I could excuse myself that I shouldn't spread germs to the public at large, and that's a valid reason for not grocery shopping (maybe I picked this bug up from a grocery cart? ewwww; motivation to shop with your gloves on.), going to the robotics meeting (and leaving my germs on high science desks), and lunch with my writing gal pals (talk about torture!). But neither the dirty rug nor the blank pages care that I feel so lethargic it's a task to get another drink for my burning throat.

There are times we all fall short of expectations. A friend texted me saying "Cheer up! The holidays are coming and you have so much to do!" First of all, reminding me how much I have to do is NOT the way to cheer me up. Second, I'm not depressed, I'm just sick. The holidays are far enough away (even Thanksgiving, the Forgotten Holiday) that I don't need to worry about it; I'm more worried about making my book signings on Thursday in NYC at Books of Wonder (18 W 18th Street, 6-8) and Friday in PA (Children's Book World, East Main Street, Haverford, 7-9). If I can get past them, then I'll be able to get back on track...

Except my firstborn, away at college since August, is coming home on Friday (no doubt with laundry and demands). And I'm helping out the kids' bell choir on Sunday morning. Monday might see the plumber coming to install the new gas fireplace and then there's the regular fencing practice, SAT tutoring, and writing group rescheduled meeting in addition to getting ready for Thanksgiving.

There's always an excuse to put off things that need, must, should, ought to get done. So, I've had my two days of bed rest (almost- I did do laundry, some dishes, straightening up, checking of emails, media posting, yelling at offspring for garbage, recycle and homework; I am not a total slug.). Tonight, I'll start clearing up all those things that are backlogged and get back into the grind, er, routine.

My blog entry is done for the week; that's one thing off the list.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Cover Up!

There's a lot of talk about book covers. What's hot, what's been overdone, what doesn't work, and so on. Some covers are iconic and recognizable without a single word: a cross and people know it's the Bible. A golden colored bear with a red vest is obviously Winnie the Pooh. And yes, the hands holding the apple on a black background is Twilight.

Have you seen our cover? If not, I'll cry, but let me help you out, here it is:

But that's not the way it looked initially: it looked like this:

Why the change? While we loved the first cover, it was too dark for our humorous book. And we were told that teens didn't like it, hence the second, lighter cover. Which do you like better?

And now, the release of the cover for Sirenz Back in Fashion.

There are two emotions about this change. One is that this is a good thing: it will freshen up the look, maybe increasing sales beyond estimations by drawing in new readers. It's lighter and gives a hint about what's inside; a story with two very different girls, a Greek aspect, and fun. The other is that it won't match the first one and since this is a series, the first fans won't recognize the sequel.

The editor and publisher design the cover and while we're asked what we think would look good, the decision is theirs. That's the industry. I look at it this way: at least there is a second book, the Canadian artist (I will insert her name here, I have to dig through emails to find it) did a beautiful job, and there was a lot of thought put into it. Right now there is a controversy because a number of book covers are finding that their cover model (and sometimes the same dress and pose) was used for another book, making them both so similar, it will confuse readers which book they were looking for. That's a marketing nightmare--like telling which one is the clone, which is the original. We don't have that problem, for which I am immensely grateful.

No matter what, that's our cover and we're sticking with it.


Follow The Yellow Brick Road...

Well, not really. But follow me over to my new blog, (Note the extra 'e' between Charlotte and Bennardo. Yes, it's my middle initial, no, I will not tell you. And it's NOT Esmerelda, no matter what the hubby says.)

Had trouble with this blog, abandoned it, started new one, and that's where the action is, so come on over (especially Anne from the Christmas ornament store, but everyone else too!)

Let's talk!