Taking a short blogging hiatus

I feel guilty that I’m not sticking to my normal blogging schedule, but then I tell myself, I need to do what’s best for my writing and that it’s okay to do this. I started writing the sequel to MUST LOVE BREECHES on February 1, trying to get the rough draft done this month, Fast Draft/NaNo style, but it’s slower going than I’d hoped and honestly, the thought of sacrificing my morning writing time to writing a blog post is what’s making me face it that I’ve got too much going on and I have to set aside some things. I’ve already let up on the promo for BEER, sooo… 🙂

See ya on the flip side and send some good writerly mojo my way!

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Swept Away Valentine’s Day Blog Hop

0ValentinesBH300x200Welcome to the Swept Away Valentine’s Day Blog Hop! I’m geek girl romance author Angela Quarles. What makes my romances geeky? Oh, in a myriad of ways! Whether it’s fan girling over Ada Lovelace by having her as a secondary character in my time travel romance, Must Love Breeches, or outright geek references with geek types in my romantic comedy with paranormal elements, Beer and Groping in Las Vegas, or going all Southern steampunk in Steam Me Up, Rawley, I like to have fun with my romances and hope my readers do too.

And I have some fun for you–First, one lucky commenter will win a $5 Amazon gift Card!

Since Valentine’s Day is about romance, I thought I’d include a snippet from my current release BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS that has a romantic setting at a fictional Vegas hotel, plus he seems like he gets a bit swept away at the end, like the theme of our hop!

He glanced at his palm—”Mirjam” inked across in blue. The only information the follow-up note from the bellhop had told him after accepting the invitation, a first name and where and when to meet. Oh, and the cryptic last sentence: “Be in the moment and you will find the answer.” What answer? He didn’t feel like he knew the damn question, though he was questioning his own sanity for agreeing to this weird-ass date. Somehow, he’d felt certain, in his gut, he needed to answer ‘Yes’ to the crazy invitation he’d received from a guy named ‘Jim.’ A night with the ‘woman of his dreams.’ He rubbed the name away. No sense looking like a complete dufus.

“Here’s the gentleman requesting to meet you,” the concierge said, interrupting his thoughts.

Shit, no time to rethink this. Or take a breather. He took a calming breath. Keep your head in the game, Riley. A chance for a date with a decent girl, see what that is like. Nothing more.

“I’m Stefan,” said the man who approached him wearing a pink bow tie. “Your date is waiting for you by the pool. This way, sir.” Stefan escorted him through the lobby and out to a terrace. They wended their way around the glittering pool to a darker section. Torches lit the area every few feet, highlighting potted plants somehow kept alive in the desert heat. Gentle lapping from the pool blended with other guests’ murmurs. He followed Stefan up a short flight of stone steps set against a wall.

At the top, his guide swept back a leafy frond, revealing a granite table surrounded by lush foliage and a high stone wall. More torches blazed in each corner, casting enough light to see but adding a ton of atmosphere. A little hideaway for two, the elevation affording an extra layer of exclusivity.

His date faced the far wall, head tilted to the full moon looming above. Torchlight flickered across the ash-blonde hair tumbling down her back. He swallowed hard. Shit, if he were the romantic type, he’d be in hog heaven with this setting.

She slowly turned and faced him.

His breath caught. Dear God, he was in heaven.

Want to know more? Here’s the blurb:

Can a djinn and a magic slot machine bring two geeks together?

Riley McGregor is a geek trapped in a Good Ole Boy body and as owner of a microbrewery, smart chicks never look at him twice.

Rejected by a geek who wanted to “trade up,” Mirjam Linna would rather immerse herself in work than be the girlfriend-of-the-moment. Stranded in a Vegas hotel, she makes a wish—a night of hot sex with the man of her dreams. It’s granted. She agrees to dinner, but afterward, she’ll say thanks, but no thanks, and see what’s on the SyFy channel. But when they meet, they’re surprised to find they had a shared connection in their past. Sparks fly as these two learn to be in the moment, be themselves and find love.

Fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Monty Python, Firefly and Marvin the Martian will enjoy this romantic comedy.

Fore more information you can visit my book page, or view the trailer. It’s also available at these outlets:

Amazon | Amazon CA |  Amazon UK |  Barnes & Noble | All Romance eBooks | BookStrand

Visit the other participants on the host website to learn about more books and chances to win more prizes !

Book Monday: Guest Author Donna Cummings and I Do… Or Die

Today I’m super excited to bring you Donna Cummings whom I’ve gotten to know via various online methods, and whose sense of humor and advice has helped me through several writerly journey bumps. She’s also a valued Beta reader. Writers talk about the need to have other writer friends to go to when they’re feeling out of sorts (or panicked) and Donna’s become one of those for me. Thank you, Donna!

Today, for Book Monday, not only is she going to give us an excerpt from her new release, but she’s also going to confess a habit she has regarding books. Take it away, Donna!

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I’m always curious to see what people are reading. My neck can stretch giraffe-like just to get a peek at the title of a book they’re carrying. If someone is engrossed in a book while at Starbucks, all of a sudden I need to walk past them on my way to get a refill. Of napkins.

When I’m visiting someone’s home, the first thing I seek out is their bookshelves. I’ve learned to hide my glee when I see rows upon rows of books displayed for my viewing pleasure. And I never, ever say out loud (well, not anymore), “Oooh, wonder what they have that I need to take home with me!”

Seeing books lined up on shelves, or piled on tables, or teetering in a big stack on the floor, it’s easy to determine which ones have been read more than once, and which are just for show. This is trickier to accomplish when e-readers are involved, although if someone is on Goodreads, we can poke through their virtual shelves to see which books they’ve read, or want to read–and way too many of those end up in my own lists as a result of my rigorous “research”.

The heroine in my current release, I Do. . .or Die, tries to figure out the hero from viewing various items in his home, including the bookshelves. Shelby has been shot at, twice — the first time at her friend Alexa’s wedding. Shelby has to spend the night at Detective Ryan Nichols’ house for her protection, and this is her first time checking out the inside of Ryan’s home:

It was a place designed for a man’s comfort, not to impress female guests. A honey colored leather couch took up a large portion of the room, flanked by a couple of matching club chairs that were obviously well-used, probably whenever his policeman buddies dropped by. A large—no, make that a really large—flat-screen TV covered most of one wall.

Alexa and I had just been discussing the correlation between the size of a man’s flatscreen TV and his—

Detective Nichols was a very tidy person, with not even a single random burst of clutter. That was distressing. People who had everything in its place kind of freaked me out. For one thing, how did they find time to keep everything in its place? And for another thing, why would they want to spend all their time doing that?

He leaned against the closed door, his arms folded across his chest, watching me stroll around his sparse living room.

I trailed a finger over the police league softball trophies covering the fireplace mantel. Another flaw. He probably liked to work out all the time, while I—well, I did try to lift my martini glass with alternating hands, so I could evenly develop my bicep muscles. But I couldn’t do that every day. My liver was too delicate for that kind of exercise regime.

Detective Nichols cleared his throat. “Think this will do for the night?”

I nodded, a little sad, yet relieved, that I’d uncovered these deal breakers. Not that it really mattered, since I’d only planned on getting in bed, not getting involved, with him. Still, a girl needs to have standards, even with flings.

“Are you letting me get accustomed to my surroundings?” I asked. “Like a new puppy or something?”

His lips turned up in that way I found too sexy, and my stomach did all kinds of silly flip-floppy things. “As long as I don’t have to swat you with a rolled-up newspaper, I think we’ll be fine.”

“Beats the hell out of bullets.”

I halted, peering at him as the words sank in. It always came back to that. No matter what else happened, I still had to deal with the shock of being shot at. Twice. In one day.

At a wedding. And then in a police car.

“You know, Shelby, you’ve got a pretty good sense of humor about all of this.”

“Oh, that’s only because I’m in that numb phase right now. Wait till I get a good night’s sleep and realize how incredibly insane all of this is.”

I wandered over to a bookcase, something he’d probably gotten from the Ikea catalog and put together himself. I loved to see which books people had, and which ones were never going to be read, based on my assessment of their personality.

This man loved mysteries. Thankfully for me, it looked like he’d actually read a lot of them, so he would know how to solve the one I was embroiled in. Or give advice to the detective he’d be handing me off to in the morning.

Do you like to investigate other people’s reading materials? Please tell me I’m not the only one!

Official Blurb:

“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” is Shelby Atwood’s personal credo. She’s managed to avoid commitment all her life – no pets, no plants, not even a long-term lease. Heck, she’s had colds last longer than her romantic relationships. How could she be any other way when she has a gigolo for a father?

But then gunfire erupts at the latest wedding she’s agreed to be in, and it ends up being the best thing to happen to Shelby’s love life. Detective Ryan Nichols is assigned to the case, and when the shootings don’t stop, he becomes her 24-hour bodyguard. Shelby wouldn’t mind except Ryan is too appealing, too sexy, and too happy to remind her of the raucous bachelorette party when she mistook him for a stripper.

Shelby’s plan is simple: find the shooter, have a fling with Ryan, and return to her non-committal life. Unfortunately, the shooter is very elusive. Shelby’s feelings for Ryan are way more than adrenaline-fueled lust. And returning to her normal life is now impossible since, despite her lifelong resistance, she’s managed to put her heart smack dab in the line of fire.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARe | BookStrand

About Donna:

6a011168847f76970c0147e0d1c81c970b-200wiI have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances.

I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.

In addition to I Do. . .or Die, my available books are Summer Lovin’, a free romantic comedy novella, and Lord Midnight, a Regency romance. My contemporary novella, Back on Track, part of the Strangers on a Train collection, will release from Samhain on April 2, 2013.

How to stalk her:

Website/blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

Weekend Writing Warriors – 2/10/13

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where we post eight sentences from one of our works. I’m picking up exactly where I left off last week with meta fiction romance, NOT ANOTHER DARCY. This was my NaNo project for this past November, and the heroine has to deal with literary characters that come to life at her independent bookstore. Last week was the opening eight sentences and Mr. Darcy from the latter half of Pride & Prejudice showed up. She wasn’t very pleased to see another one.

This is still a rough draft. But here’s the next eight sentences:

But as a Handler in the Literary Reclamation League, it was her duty to take whomever popped into existence, train them, give them new identities and find work for them. The Darcys, she usually shipped off to Jane Austen sites in England as tour guides.

She faced her newest challenge, who gazed around her bookstore with a look of confusion, the poor guy. Thank god her employee Chris wasn’t due to work until noon. “Hang on there one sec, Mr. Darcy, and I’ll be right with you.”

She hustled to the front door of her bookstore and flipped the sign to “Closed,” and threw the bolt lock. From a pocket near the door, she pulled out and hung her pre-made sign for such emergencies: “Closed for twenty minutes. Grabbing coffee.”

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by! I’m going to try and be better today with visiting–I had out of town guests for Mardi Gras. It’s the final week, so today’s also a big day, but hopefully I’ll make the rounds this morning before the first parade rolls.

Writer Wednesday: Using Bit.ly as part of your marketing campaign

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This is one of those posts I hate to write, because there’s probably other services people like better and I’m by no means an expert, and will cause eye rolling on the part of those uber-familiar with it. So this post is to other fellow authors who’ve never used bitly to help with tracking how their marketing and promotions are working, because I wish I’d thought to use them from the beginning.

So you non-eye rollers are probably familiar with them for its way of making your hyperlinks shorter, and that’s why I initially went there shortly after my book launched. I sent out a notice with those shortened links and didn’t think anything more of it. Then I went back again to get another link shortened and noticed the “Stats” button, and was like Whoa!

bitly_clicksIt not only tells you how many times someone’s clicked on it, but where. You can also break it down by day, if you want. Also, you can see which sites had folks clicking on the link.

So, how to use this effectively? I now use it anytime I’m promoting a link that I care to track, like links to buy sites, reviews, guest posts and the like, because these are stats I can’t get anywhere else. Anytime I’m posting on a site other than my blog (email, guest posts, facebook, twitter) I use these, so that I can track the effectiveness of my campaign.

The other thing it has, which I wish I’d seen before I made my postcards promoting my book, is a QR Code generator for each link! Print materials are so difficult to assess, but now you can use bitly to create your QR code and then track its effectiveness, cool huh?

I went so far as to have a QR code on mine (I also have them on my business cards), but alas, I created them without using bitly, so I have no way to see how many people scanned it. I know there are services out there that can generate your QR code and probably track it as well, but I like this because it’s part of the rest of my links.

Bonus tip: What if the QR code is to a link you already have in bitly but you want to track separately? Here’s a coding trick: You can add extra stuff to the end of your URL and it won’t affect the page being pulled up. Just do this, at the end of the URL add:

?campaign=pcard

Or whatever will distinguish it for you. Be careful though. Check the URL string for ?. If there’s already one in there, then at the end do this instead:

&campaign=pcard

Just remember that this is visible to your reader, so don’t make it offensive (unless that’s part of your brand).

Do you use bitly or another service? If you know of a better service, or even a blog post that explains this better than me, please comment! I’m all about sharing the knowledge we accumulate!

Monday Hunk Who Reads – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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Gordon-Levitt reading | Photo courtesy of HitRecord.org

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Like any child actor, he’s fighting against his earlier portrayals and looks, but one thing’s for sure, he’s turned into a cutie. He also reads:

The movies I watch and the music I listen to and the books I read – those are important to me. It’s very important to me, and I don’t know what I would do without those things. [source]

In this article, he was asked about his role in The Lookout, and he related:

Well, I did a fair amount of research. I did some reading. My favorite book I read was called ‘The Man with a Shattered World‘ which was about a veteran coming back from World War II.

According to TV.com, his favorite book is J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, and if there are any gaming geeks out there, he loved reading and playing Dungeons & Dragons when he was growing up. At the same website, he’s quoted as saying this about his role in Mysterious Skin:

I didn’t read the book till after I read the script, but probably more than any other movie I’ve ever been a part of, the movie turned out the way I thought it should look based on the script and the book.

He’s also friendly to authors, because when the author of Mysterious Skin tweeted that his book had gone on sale, he RTed it.

But guess what? If you didn’t know this already, he’s a part of the book world, by way of curating and editing. He has an online production company called HitRECord  that inspires users across the world to come together and create singular works of art, and it was through that site that the genesis for his Tiny Book of Tiny Stories came about, as well as other collaborations:

  • The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1 From hitRECord, the immensely popular open collaborative production company, and its founder, Golden Globe-nominated actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, comes The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1. The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories. To create The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, known within the hitRECord community as RegularJOE–directed thousands of collaborators to tell tiny stories through words and art. With the help of the entire creative collective, Gordon-Levitt culled, edited and curated over 8,500 contributions into this finely tuned collection of original art from 67 contributors. Reminiscent of the 6-Word Memoir series, The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1 brings together art and voices from around the world to unite and tell stories that defy size.
  • The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 2 One of the most ingenious and successful projects to come out of Gordon-Levitt’s online creative coalition hitRECord – an international collaboration of artists and writers – The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 2 offers more quirky, delightfully small, ingeniously illustrated haiku-like tales, proving once more that the universe isn’t made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories. The best things do come in small packages
  • HitRECord Recollection Vol. 1 Hardbound 64-page Book, DVD & CD. ‘RECollection: Volume 1’ is the very first anthology of hitRECord’s work, featuring the contributions of 471 collaborators. The eight-inch square, cloth-bound tome is a well-crafted and meticulously-designed piece of art. With equal attention given to each medium—video, audio, image, text—this relic of our records is rich in detail and a feast for the senses.
  • Little Red Riding Hood: Redux (The hitRECorderly #1) A beautiful book of hitRECord’s adaptation of the classic fairy tale – complete with artwork, essays, and paper doll cut-outs!

This LATimes interview talks more about HitRECord and Gordon-Levitt’s role.

Want more? You can follow him on Twitter and Goodreads!

So that’s this month’s Hunk Who Reads. Reading is sexy people!

For further opportunities to idolize men and books:

Do you have any photos of male celebrities reading?

Come back next month to see the next Hunk Who Reads…

*previous Ovaries Exploding Award winner

Weekend Writing Warriors – 2/3/13

Welcome! In the aftermath of the demise of Six Sentence Sunday, I’ve signed up for Weekend Writing Warriors, where we post eight sentences from one of our works. Since this is the start of a new venture, I thought it only fitting to kick it off with eight sentences from my brand-spanking new project, my meta fiction romance, NOT ANOTHER DARCY. This was my NaNo project for this past November, and the heroine has to deal with literary characters that come to life at her independent bookstore.

It’s so new, this is still a rough draft. But here’s the opening eight sentences:

“As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit,” declared a masculine, cultured British voice behind Katrina, making her jump in her chair.

After her heart steadied to a normal beat, she rolled her eyes and pushed back her chair. Not another Darcy. And today of all days.

Still, it was a bit refreshing for it to be a Darcy from the latter part of Pride and Prejudice. Usually she was startled with some early Darcy line like, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men,” or some other equally obnoxious Darcy from his haughty phase.

Why most girls fantasizing about Darcy dreamed about that version, she didn’t know.

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!