Friday, June 29, 2012

UtopYA and life's hard choices

Okay, so there's this little thing called UtopYA con happening in Nashville next weekend (July 6-8) for YA lovers and the writers who make your dreams a {fictional} reality. And I'm sort of GOING there!

If you need to understand what all this is about, here's the deets ^^

Woot woot!!! 

I can't wait! 

Because, in addition to the con, which is amazing enough all on its own, there's this little awards situation happening. And by "little," I mean HUGE. Like empire state building, sears tower, HERD OF ELEPHANTS HUGE.

Because Dirty Blood has been nominated in FOUR categories. Ahhh!

The list of nominees is epic. Angeline Kace is in, like, eighty categories for Descended by Blood, there's Abbi Glines, SM Reine, Chelsea Fine, KC Neal ... all my faves. Seriously, this is going to rock socks. And faces. All at the same time. Ridiculous. 

So, here's where you come in. First, I would love for you to buy a ticket, hop a plane or a train, and present your smiling face to me in person. BUT, I know that's not possible for everyone, so here's what you can do. You can vote. I'm not asking you to vote for me. (You'll have a hard time deciding once you see that list, trust me.) Voting--no matter who its for--will make me happy. Click here to make me happy. 

As for an update on all things Heather--its summer. Which means I'm in and out, more out than in. My biggest decision every day is: the beach, the water park, or the pool? Choices, choices ...

It's such a hard life. Hehe. 

I will be around more in July. Blood Bond, book 3 in the Dirty Blood series, will be out August 31 and I plan on kicking off giveaways and contests leading up to and through the release, so you will want to stay tuned for that. (Hint: the first will be exclusively for newsletter recipients. If you're not on that list, now would be a good time. *wink*) 

In a couple of weeks, I'll have pics and stuff to share from my trip ;) In the meantime, since I'm being blog-lazy, you should check out some of the blogs on my sidebar. They are usually more interesting than me, anyway. And check out our summer guest post series on Accendo Press' blog by your favorite authors here.

Later 'taters.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Epic Weekend

This is how I know summer is going to rock. This weekend was basically ROCKSTAR. Friday, I went to a free concert on the water where I saw Andy Grammer (whom I have a MAJOR crush on now, btw), Gavin DeGraw (all of my One Tree Hill dreams came alive when I heard "I don't wanna be anything other than what I've been tryin' to be lately..."), and Colbie Caillat. Gorgeous girl. 

Here's me during the hour between shows where we had to entertain ourselves with nothing but a hat and a camera. 
Yes, that guy behind me is about to eat a giant ear of corn. Just go with it.

THEN, Saturday, it was a PHOTO EXTRAVAGANZA. And I mean that in every sense of the word. There were photos six ways from Sunday, and I was scandalized--um, I mean extravaganized. I went with Lisa Warden--my godsister if we're being detailed--and Anna Slaven Miller, who will tell you that "we're one person in two bodies," but since she's up and moving to Indiana soon, our soul-mate-ness is going to be confined to Facebook for the foreseeable future. If you want to know THEIR side of the story (which is only accurate when it isn't inaccurate) you can read Lisa's here and Anna's here

They are hugely entertaining and they have a better memory than me so their posts are probably more interesting than mine. You should read them. 

As for my experience, first, it needs to be said that I SUCK at taking pictures. I don't know shizz about lighting and angles and whatever. I just point and click. whatever. But I wanted to hang with these chics so I bought a camera and geared up. I even played with it a little the night before we left so I would know how to point it and how to click it. #ReadyForAnything #UnlessItsComplicated

We went via ferry. That's a boat for all you landlocked peeps. A boat you park your car on. And even though I only live about 40 min (or 80, if Lisa's driving) from the ferry, I've never ridden it. So this is exciting. An adventure. I played it cool, though, trying not to look like a newbie. Up until we asked the guy at the gate where to park and he says, "This is your first time, I can tell." Then politely points us to park in a straight line behind the car in front of us, along the painted straight line on the single-file row leading onto the vessel. 

So, I'm new. This is normal. 

(One of my favorite things to fuss at my kids: "are you new?". because I don't believe in calling a kid "dumb." #ApprovedAlternate)

I realized pretty fast I hadn't missed anything spectacular all these years never riding the ferry. The traffic consisted of one drunk captain who stared at the mast all day (really hope that thing operated on auto-pilot or something), one Marilyn-wannabe who stood on the balcony the entire time, content to let her dress blow up around her ears, and one bum passed out in the seat of his car with his jaw hanging open. (It was 9am, which sorta' makes it worse. I'm pretty sure he was breathing. I think.) 

Our day sort of consisted of these random "are they/we serious?" kind of moments. but none of it compared to the hilarity of our escapades. A quick and dirty recap: (you don't have to understand, simply be amused and jealous that you missed it) 

I used a bathroom in a McDonald's/gas station combo. *shudders* That one still confuses me but yet makes perfect sense. (As if McD's isn't gross enough on its own, they put it in a gas station?!) We saw a sign that said "Hog Traffic." <---- Only in NC. You can't make this shizz up. Oh and a "Beware of Dog" sign in the middle of a cornfield. No house in sight. Except for the doghouse. 

There were bad directions ("turn left." so she turns right.), blueberries consumed, domestic disturbances witnessed ("Is that an inflatable canoe?" "OMG they're going to capsize if he doesn't quit thrashing around!"), #YourMom jokes dropped. ("This cookie is yum, what's in it?" "Your mom.", and "Oh, look, an upscale furniture resale store." "your mom is upscale.") Yeah, I don't get the whole "Resale" and "Upscale" situation, either. Seems kinda' like putting a pawn shop inside Tiffany's. 

BTW- Yes, the "Your Mom" jokes were from me. I'm a sucker for a Momma' joke. 

We even discussed politics without getting into a fight about our different views. (Lisa would vote for Kermit the Frog, all the way. Apparently he does whatever she says. I don't know exactly what that means, but it sounds vulgar. So I didn't ask. Whatever she's into, I won't judge.)

There were so many funny moments and "WTF, did that just happen?" scenarios, I can't even tell you. I'm pretty sure we evaded a hatchet hitch-hiker, spotted a bar that doubles as a butchery. (yes, it said BUTCHERY/BREWERY on the sign, with a kids playground outside. Figure that one out.) Oh, and discovered the bridge leading out of (but not into) Kitty Hawk doubles as a trampoline. I guess they had shocks on it, because we bounced pretty good. it was awesome. mostly because I don't get carsick, or have an irrational fear of bridges, not like Anna, anyway. #SucksForYou)

All in all, a fun day. 

On a serious note (bear with me, it won't last long):

The reason I'm telling you all this is because I want to tell you about my friend situation. Over these past few months, I've done a lot of thinking. Most of you know my story by now, and the amazing five days I had with Tyler before he went to Heaven last December. If you don't, you should read about it here. It was pretty defining for me. Since then, I've thought about my life. A lot. It seems a pretty inevitable side effect when one comes face to face with death. 

One of the things I've thought about was my identity. It might not seem like the two are connected right off the bat, but they are. When I lost Tyler, for a while, I didn't want to --and couldn't-- identify with being a mom. Not his, anyway. I lost that identity. It shook me, made me wonder who I was in other areas of my life. It also reminded me how short life is, and how I need to be true to myself and who I want to be, during the short amount of time I have here. Which led me to really prioritize myself. Goals, Identity, personality, dreams, plans, hopes -- you get the idea. In the end, a full-scale overhaul of my life took place. Personal and professional. And I made some serious changes. Things I needed to do, for me, to be happy, and be true to myself. Both things I wasn't living up to before. 

After careful consideration, I realized some of the changes needed were friendships. Some I'd outgrown, some were never right to begin with, most were filled with negativity and pessimism and complaining that life would never be better, though I suspect they'd rather it stayed awful because they are simply content to complain. So, as guilty as it made me feel, I cut them. Some were only acquaintances and probably didn't even notice the change. Some were long-time friends. Close friends. People I'd known for years. Those were the hardest. The ones I had to explain it to, or easily noticed the change. At first, I felt bad, reluctant to do it, because I hated that I would hurt their feelings, but then I realized the importance of standing up for myself, and what I needed. And I have to tell you, even though I do feel badly for any hurt feelings on their part, I am very glad I did it. I am happier. And I've opened myself up to make new friends, like Lisa and Anna. Something I never would have done before. 

And I have to tell you, I like this new me. The one who stands up for herself. The one who seeks adventure, who values positivity and people that build her up. The one who has given herself permission to be ambitious and goal-seeking and HAPPY and spontaneous.

Chalene Johnson has a great article about toxic friends and choosing friends who inspire you, who make you better. It was one of the things that inspired me to choose wisely. Hopefully, it will do the same for you. 

Quickie Announcements: 
Places you can find me (and possibly win free shizz)

Goodreads giveaway for Whisper ends in 4 days
Accendo is having a summer guest post series by authors you love to stalk. check it out!  GIVEAWAY!
Estevan Vega let me take over his blog to tell you why I write YA. 
Katja Rinne let me talk about being indie, what that means to me. GIVEAWAY!

**AND there MIGHT be something interesting happening this Thursday that you should watch for. Release info on a certain book you are all waiting for. 

I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting. My brain feels kinda' mushy. I'll add them as I think about it. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Predictions... courtesy of a scotch-sipping psychic

My good friend, and mentor of the occasional lunch-date variety, Warren Murphy, stopped by and left me with this article. He wrote it over ten years ago, predicting the future of e-books. Or, what I like to call: the present. I thought it was interesting to see how spot-on he was then--and now. 

The Millennium.  And about time, too.

The French, who seem to have a dopey statement for every occasion, have this one too:  Le plus ca change, le plus c’est la meme chose. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Hoohaw, not this time, Pierre. Not any more. Not in publishing. The times, they are a’changin’ and changing for good.  And the only wonder is why it took so long.  
I once wrote an article for some rag about the warm feeling I got holding my new book and thinking that it started with blank paper and now it helped contribute to the magic of publishing. Until I realized that I was holding the book and still hadn’t been paid for acceptance of the manuscript. Why not? Well, admittedly some blame is mine. I should have paid more attention but I had been drunk for some time and was beyond bookkeeping detritus. The publisher? He just didn’t give a damn. I could wait because he didn’t need me for another year until my next book was done.
Writers, you see, come last. That bears repeating: in the old world of publishing, writers always come last.
          Item: They’ll pay millions and millions for the bio of some guy who makes lightbulbs—“golf, next Tuesday, Jack?”—but can’t find any money to foster their young writers.
          Item: Books are savaged and careers destroyed by surly snots who write anonymous reviews and publishers can’t be bothered to protest this institutionalized corruption. “Hey, writers are always bitching. Who cares? Besides, we’ve got the new Socks-the-Cat book to hump.”
          Item: Slush piles and lost manuscripts and editors who can’t edit but are kept around because they have a good eye for what sold well yesterday, and reserves-against-returns and bookkeeping practices that would befuddle Stephen Hawking.... Just look, and you see an industry that is not only in full retreat but is fleeing the battlefield with its pants around its ankles.
And why not? So many good publishers, good editors, and all suffocating in an industry whose business practices were old a hundred years ago and dumb even earlier than that.
Old boys, lean close. I’ve got a secret for you. It’s over. We Trotskyite deviationists used to warn, “Comes the Revolution.” Well, it’s here and it’s called electronic publishing. E-books. Print on demand. Downloads in seconds; pocket readers no bigger than Gameboy units. A world in which no book is ever out of print. No reserves. No returns. No industry regularly held hostage by West Coast treehuggers driving up paper prices. Royalties of 50 percent, not six, and paid monthly.
Hello? Anybody home?
The estimable agent-cum-publisher-cum-futurist Richard Curtis commented not long ago how publishing theorists complained about the impossibility of the marketplace absorbing the 50,000 books published every year in America. “What,” Maestro Curtis wondered aloud, “will they say when the figure reaches 500,000?”
We’ll find out soon.
Now, don’t think this brave new world comes without pain and suffering. Birth rarely does. There will be an amazing amount of junk published, although one is tempted to ask, in an ocean of celebrity biographies, as opposed to what? And a lot will depend on technology that is still shaking the bugs out of its cuffs. But it’ll arrive. And the signs of success are already here. Stephen King, as he so often does, has shown a lot of young writers the yellow brick road to the future. Melisse Rose rode her book from on-line self published to the Times best seller list. Even as we speak, more are coming.
Imagine, writers with power over their own work. And readers too, learning from other readers what books are good, instead of relying on the corrupt opinions of a few institutional halfwits.
Not convinced? Think the internet is just a flash in the pan? Then, ostrich-person, consider this:  a couple of young guys made a movie, two minutes long, and posted it on the internet. Why not? It’s cheap, fun, and no law against it. This little film was titled “True,” and it hung around online and then was seen by an ad-man who brought it to his agency who brought it to their client and thus began the saga of the ubiquitous beer commercial “Whassup? Whassup? Whassup?” If the movie cost $5 to make, the creators overpaid. But now one of them has a contract to develop a sitcom; his partners are media stars and getting rich. Because of a two-minute homemade movie. That’s internet power.
And, dear publishers, your business is next. Just over that hill, the crowds are massing, manuscripts in hand, and their attack will begin very soon. Do yourselves a favor:  sue for peace.

Warren is the author of about a gazillion books, including The Destroyer series, Grandmaster, and The Forever King <--- one of my favorite books EVER. You can check Warren out here on Facebook.