Monday, September 29, 2008

Contest Week at Murder She Writes!

Okay, so the title of this post pretty much says it all. BUT wait a minute, turns out I do have more... Murder She Writes is having a Contest Week (9/29-10/3) because they're adding new bloggers to their staff, so they're giving away a lot of books! Lucky us!

It's Monday, so good friend Jennifer Apodaca is the first one to post the news and the hints with whom she'll be sharing every other Monday.

Go forth and comment! Win stuff! Spread the word!

Good Luck!


Monday, September 22, 2008

Here With You

On Saturday, September 20th, my family and I participated in a cause close to our hearts... the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "Light the Night Walk" at Angels Stadium in Anaheim.

We walked in honor of my youngest brother-in-law who is battling a rare form of lymphoma that has been induced by an extremely rare auto-immune disorder. He told me it was cool to post some of the photos from the walk, so this will give me a chance to show you all what we've been up to since May 11th...the day he went into the hospital for the 3rd time and stayed until the end of June (he's been in and out numerous times since then).

My sister-in-law found out about the walk and rallied the family (and it's a huge family). She also discovered that Andrew McMahon, the frontman of the band Jack's Mannequin, had a team for the walk. McMahon founded the Dear Jack Foundation, which benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Pediatric Cancer Research Center, and the UCLA stem cell transplant program. In 2005 and 2006, when Andrew was 22, he fought his own battle with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia and underwent a stem cell transplant that was donated by his sister. It's a pure coincidence that this happens to be one of my brother-in-law's favorite bands and that the similarities between he and Andrew are truly uncanny.

Spearheaded by Christine, my hardworking sister-in-law, Team Jack's Mannequin Angels Stadium raised over $16,000... and we're still going. Not only that, but we were the top fundraising "Friends and Family Team" at that location, so we were given the prime location of under the big red baseball cap near the entrance to the stadium!

Here are a few photos from the night:

Rod Carew and Angels Baseball President Dennis Kuhl, co-chairs of "Light the Night"

Our banner under one of the big Angels caps!

You know what was really cool? Andrew and his family showed up and walked with us, a show of support. And other than our family, friends of our family walked, as well as few others who had signed up on their own.

5000 people walked around the parking lot and inside the stadium, a total of 2 miles. We shuffled our way toward the finish line.

I think Matt and Andrew are commenting on the crush of people ahead of us... And we're telling them that we'll hang out in the back.

And we're walking... :-)

The banner for those whom we're walking In Honor of and In Memory of...

But we're not finished YET! The goal of Team Jack's Mannequin, nationwide, is to reach $100,000 and we have until December 31st to continue our efforts. If you know of any corporations, businesses, friends...anyone who would like to donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, please feel free to pass along this link (please copy and paste--if it doesn't work):

Thank you so much! And, of course, all of your good thoughts, prayers, and emotional support are always welcome. :-)

This is the trailer for the Dear Jack Movie: The Journey of Andrew McMahon. If you have/had a family member go through this, it's a little difficult to watch, as he chronicles his struggles with a hand held camera. It's eerie how similar it is to what my brother-in-law is going through. The trailer's only a few minutes, but I do encourage you to watch it... Keep an eye out for this full length movie in 2009.

And this is the video for Jack's Mannequin's "Dark Blue," which they posted on their YouTube site. I LOVE this song!

Photo Credits: Eric Cwiertny, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Same Place, Different Season

So if you're like me, maybe you've visited a place during the summer or the winter and thought, I'd love to come back here during the autumn. Or maybe, Wow, I'd love to see what this town looks like during the holidays.

I've been longing to get back to New England for awhile now. We've traveled there in the summer and very early spring (might as well as been winter, though, as a freak snow storm powered through the East Coast right around our visit--burr--but the snow that blanketed the historic towns--stunning!). Anyway, I'd LOVE to be there in the fall to witness the change of the brilliant foliage, the crisp weather, the cold-weather food. It'll be awhile before we'll make it out to New England again (sniff)... So here's my question for those of you who live on the East Coast: Do you mind telling me what I'm missing? I'd like to know about the weather, the food, the tourists, the peepers, the crimson blueberry fields, everything!

One of the stories that I hope to write is set in Maine during the fall. I say "hope" because it's the second in the series. And since I've lived my entire life in suburbia California where the trees pretty much stay green all year round--unless it's "fire" season--I'm in awe of regions with honest-to-goodness seasons. :-)

Another place I want to visit is London during Christmas. I think that may be because I've watched Love Actually more than a few times. ;-)

I know we had to wear jackets and scarves there in June and also wore them when we traveled there at the beginning of July a few years ago, so I can only imagine how cold it is during December. But just one time, I'd like to experience that city all dressed up for the holidays--the lights, the decorations, the music, the food. Doesn't that sound fun? Have you been to London during the holidays? Do you live in the UK? Do you mind telling me about your experience?

So, what about you? Is there a place you'd like to go back and visit during another time of year, another season--maybe the holidays? Is it someplace local to you that you just haven't been to in awhile? Have you ever set a story there?

Take Care,


Thursday, September 18, 2008

PR Boot Camp: Everything You Need to Know to be Your Own Best Publicist

Hi everyone,

This October online class is a popular one and with good reason! Everyone I've talked to who has taken this class learned so much in this four-week boot camp...they're recommending it to anyone who will listen. Seriously. I've also taken this class (although I was in lurker mode because I was on a deadline), so I do know for a fact that she's helped many writers be their own publicist. :-)

Below is the information for this online class.

Take Care,


********** permission to forward **********

PR Boot Camp:
Everything You Need to Know to be Your Own Best Publicist

With Louise Ahern
October 13, 2008 – November 9, 2008
Enrollment Information:

COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members
Enrollment deadline: October 11, 2008
If you have specific questions, email:


Gone are the days when a good book was all an author needed to build her career. Today, authors need to master the art of self-promotion to build the buzz that leads to higher sales, new readers and a loyal audience. Not sure how to do that? Do you consider yourself a promotional weakling? Then boot camp is for you!

In this four-week online class, PR Drill Sgt. Louise Knott Ahern will whip you into the best PR shape you've ever been in.

Louise will teach you to approach book promotion in a new way. You'll learn to stop reinventing the PR wheel with each new book, and instead envision and develop long-term PR goals and high concept plans that sell YOU as much as your novels. Topics include goal-
setting, your author brand, your "PR personality" and the kind of PR campaign you need. Be prepared to work! Class participants will be asked to write (or rewrite) their biographies, complete a PR planning guide, craft sample press releases, identify an "expertise" and brainstorm ideas for freelance articles. By the end of the class, you'll be armed with tools you can use immediately to launch your own PR blitz.


Louise Knott Ahern is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, editor and PR specialist in some of the biggest news markets in the country. When she's not chasing down freelance articles or working on her own novels, she coaches authors on how to master the media and promote their books. She's the instructor of the popular online classes "PR Boot Camp" and "Pitching the Press" and several live workshops, including, "20 Questions to a Killer PR Plan" and "How To Talk to a Reporter."

She's been published in the RWR and was for many years the content editor of the Orange County Chapter's award-winning newsletter, The Orange Blossom. Her clients have used her coaching to grab the attention of large and small media alike, including The Wall Street
Journal, the Florida Sun-Sentinel, and Wisconsin Public Radio. You can find her at or on her blog,

Enrollment Information:
COST: $20 for OCC members, $30 for non-members
Enrollment deadline: October 11, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Good Writing Music

Have you guys heard of the Icelandic musical group Sigur Rós? They categorize themselves as "rock," yet they're the most ethereal rock band I've ever listened to. For me, it's the perfect music to listen to while writing.

On Friday night, my youngest brother-in-law introduced us to Heima, which documents the band's return to Iceland after they'd toured the world. Throughout this film, they conduct free concerts all around the island, from one at a coffee shop to a couple huge open air concerts. And the visuals of It's absolutely gorgeous and wild, if not stark in many areas. After watching that movie, I realized how much I don't know about that country and its people. That's going to have to change.

Below is a trailer for Heima, and the word "Heima" in Icelandic means "at home." This clip was taken off the Sigur Rós YouTube site, so it'll give a taste of their music, as well as a good idea of the raw beauty of the island.

So, what are you listening to these days? I need some new music.

Take Care,


Friday, September 12, 2008

Room for Inspiration. And A Slice Of Orange.

I'm over at A Slice of Orange today talking about places that inspire writers.

This dining hall at Christ Church in Oxford, England struck inspiration in at least two famous authors: Lewis Carroll and J.K. Rowling.

The staircase behind the High Table, the portraits, the fireplace, the lighting, the table settings...

What places have inspired your writing?

Hope you join me!


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Bit of a Laugh

A family member shared this hilarious clip, so I thought I'd share it with you, too. I know I needed a laugh today.

How are you guys doing? Any good news? How's your writing going?

Hope you're all doing well...


Friday, September 05, 2008

Very Cool: VFRW and $1500

Thought I'd post the information for this raffle, as the cost of the San Francisco conference is still oh-so-fresh in my memory. And I'm fairly certain D.C. won't be any less expensive!

Raffle tickets cost $5.00 each or three for $10.00. Not bad for a chance to defray your conference costs.

This one is sponsored by the Valley Forge Romance Writers and proceeds benefit the Sheila A. Conway Memorial Fund, which helps financially strapped writers.

Good Luck!


P.S. I saw this on the contest loop and permission to forward was granted.

*******permission to forward granted*******

YES! We're doing it again!

Valley Forge Romance Writers Presents
The 2nd Annual VFRW
Writer's Rafflemania!

The Prize: $ 1,500.00

To Defray Your Costs For... 2009 RWA National Conference Fee!

Held In Washington, DC
July 15-18, 2009
4 Nights Hotel Accommodations!
Roundtrip Airfare To Washington, DC!

See our winner from this year, Nancy Naigle &
Rules and entry information at:


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Where Do I Belong?

So, for the past week I've been fighting the achy muscle and extreme fatigue thing. Ugh. I thought maybe I'd caught one of the viruses going around (and I was sooo ready to blame the germ factory called "school"), but it turns out it was just a new cholesterol medicine I'm taking and once my doctor changed the dosage...Voilá!...Good as new! Phew. My little wild dog kept me company while I was feeling under the weather, though. I thought that awfully nice of her.

Now, it's back to the writing for me. And I need to write, write, write. But dang, I have so many ideas and so many directions I want to go with my writing--paranormal romance, romantic suspense, western historical romance, contemporary romance--that I just have to put on the brakes say, "FOCUS, Michele."

I think it's a matter of setting aside the time each day to work on these stories and figuring out where I belong. I've completed stories in all of those sub-genres, except contemporary romance (but I'd love to write one!), and I truly, truly enjoyed every moment I spent writing those stories. I connected with those characters, those settings.

Okay, what about you? Do you know exactly what genre or sub-genre in which you should absolutely be writing? Do you love to mix it up and write in several of them (I know a lot of you do!)?

Take Care,


"Unleash Your Story" in September

I heard about this writing and reading challenge and fundraiser through a fellow OCC member, Beth, who posted it on our chapter loop. It's a challenge to "Unleash Your Story" for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation this September, so I thought I'd pass along the information.

Take Care,


From the Unleash Your Story website:

Whether you're an author or a reader, you can help. The idea is simple. You can work alone or with a team to set a writing or reading goal for the month of September 2008. Debbie Macomber has volunteered to be the pacesetting author and has committed to writing 30,000 words in September. We'll give you a button for your website or blog so that your supporters (readers,friends, family or anyone else) can click through to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website and make a donation in honor of you or your team. If you don't have a blog or website, we'll set up a link for you here. Challenge your friends to read more, write more or raise more!

It is not too early to start forming your teams and setting your goals. You can register with us now at: and we will put you or your team on our list of participants. As soon as we have our link set up, we'll give you a button you can put on your blog or website to invite your readers, friends and relatives to donate. One special prize I'd like to announce now is donated by the authors of Romance Unleashed. We will be donating the complete MP3 of the 2008 RWA National Conference to the RWA Chapter that brings in the most donations. So, if you are an RWA chapter member and would like your total to count for a chapter, be sure to let us know by e-mailing us at