Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Fling: a recap in links & photos

The Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling Writers' Conference was this past weekend and, oh, was it ever action-packed and fun! (Pictured left are Pamala Knight and June Sproat, our amazing conference chairs, with author Cherry Adair between them!)

I'd intended to try to organize my notes and write up a semi-coherent list of things that went on in the 48 hours I was there...but guess what? I don't have to! The wonderful, incredible Pamela Cayne did such a comprehensive job of hitting the highlights, that all you need to do is just visit her blog!! Why try to improve upon perfection, right? (Pamela, Jenifer and I are in this photo on right, taken by the kind and very helpful Montana... Thanks for sending it to me, Pam! :)

I will add some other photos, though, because I had fun snapping these--or receiving them when friends snapped them for me--LOL.

When I arrived, I was greeted by good friends Erika Danou-Hasan and Karen Dale Harris (with me in photo on left) and also the NEW New York Times & USA Today
bestseller (!!) Simone Elkeles (on right).

I quickly went to work setting up the Goody Table (on left) and got a little extra help from our wonderful conference co-chair June Sproat.

Got to hear some of Nancy J. Parra's inspirational workshop on "Perseverence and Perspective"--so good!! (See her on right at the podium being introduced by Tracie Loy.)

In this photo (left), I'm signing copies of According to Jane alongside Sourcebooks author and Chicago-North friend Laurie Brown, who's signing her RITA-nominated paranormal romance What Would Jane Austen Do? Our fearless conference chair, Pamala Knight, is standing in the photo and looking as glamorous as always.

At the lovely dinner, my table companions included Chicago-North friends/chaptermates Blythe Gifford, Hanna Martine and Pat White (left photo) and Laura Moore and Laurie Brown (right photo).

Happy sigh.

To all those who helped by speaking, volunteering, organizing or just attending and being so enthusiastic--thank you!

In other fun news, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for My Book Buddies, and the post just went up yesterday. Thanks so much for asking me to visit, Mary!

Finally, in celebration of spring, check out awesome author Susan McBride on a new episode of "Great Day, St. Louis," as she gives a book talk on three garden-related novels (she comes in about midway through the segment), including Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells. Very, very cool!!

And now I think I've reached my quota of uploaded photos and inserted hyperlinks for the month ;). Have a wonderful rest of the week/weekend, everybody!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Congrats, Simone!!!

Just wanted to shout out to all of the Blogosphere about the fabulously wonderful news my good friend/critique partner/fellow Chicago-North member Simone Elkeles got yesterday: Her just-released sixth YA novel, Rules of Attraction, will be debuting on the New York Times Bestseller List at #3!!!!!!! Check it out on Amazon and don't miss the really great "movie" trailer of the book on the page! I loved it!!

And Perfect Chemistry, the first book in the series, is a novel I read in draft form about 7 years ago. It's been such a thrill to see this story develop from unpublished manuscript to bestseller... What a journey! Check out that Amazon page and the "music video" for the book,too--it's hilarious!!

Most of all, having witnessed firsthand all of the time, effort and incredibly hard work that went into this accomplishment, the writer in me can only stand up and clap wildly in admiration. The friend in me, though, gets to do a little more. I get to squeeeeeee (!!) and say: OMG, Simone! IT HAPPENED!! All of those nights, when we were both newbie aspiring writers, and we stayed up way too late, talking, hoping, dreaming about getting just one book published, let alone having multi-book contracts or hitting bestseller lists... Back then, this was just a fantasy...

Not anymore, sister!!

Congratulations (x 1 million), Simone!!!!!!! Let the celebrations begin! :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Contest Winners!

Racing. I have just been racing all last week, during the weekend, today... It's one of those odd time periods when I have too much packed into it without even the excuse of it being "the holidays" or a book-release week. Maybe it's simply more often this way as we get older and have more to juggle??? I don't know. I'm open to theories if anybody has one to share...LOL.

Anyway, I have the winning names for my latest contest and they are (drumroll):
Tonya Kappes for a signed copy of According to Jane
Robin Bielman for The Book of Appetizers
Virginia C for the hardcover blank writing journal with the world map design

Congrats, ladies!! I truly hope you'll enjoy them ;). I'll be in touch to get your mailing address, but if you see this post before I email you, you can send it to me here: marilynbrant AT gmail DOT com.

Also, many thanks to the lovely Brittany Roshelle for hosting an interview with me on her blog! Please check it out if you have a chance.

Hope you all have a wonderful start to the week. It's a busy one for me (and for some of you, too, for the same reason!) because Spring Fling is this coming weekend! I just have to say--Pamala Knight and June Sproat have been incredible organizers. I'm really looking forward to this conference and getting to enjoy all of the speakers, workshops, etc. they have planned. And the Bookseller/Librarian event with the Chocolate Reception--can't wait!!!

FYI: There's also going to be a free-to-the-public multi-author booksigning on Saturday the 24th from 4:30pm to 6:00pm. I'll be there along with about 50 other authors. So, if you happen to be in the Deerfield, Illinois area, please stop by to say hello!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Few Fun Things (even though it's Tax Day)

Yeah, it's here. April 15th already. For those of us in the States, our taxes have to be filed by midnight...sigh.

However, a bunch of restaurants have special deals today, and if you visit any Starbucks and bring a to-go mug with you, you can get a cup of free brewed coffee all day long!!!

Also, the lovely ladies at Magical Musings invited me over for a visit--along with Cynthia Eden, Karin Tabke and Lesley Kagen--to talk about "the greatest joy and greatest angst" of publishing. It was fun having a chance to answer those questions, and even more enjoyable to read the other authors' responses. :)

Finally, those of you who've checked out the "Contests" page on my website already know that I have a giveaway that ends today. I've pasted the contest rules and prizes below. I'll draw the winning names tomorrow and post the results by Monday. Good luck!

I want to celebrate the sale of my third novel by giving away three different gifts, each present representing one of my books:

For According To Jane~an autographed copy of my debut novel, since that's the only one of the three on the shelves so far. (But soon there will be more. Very soon!)

For Friday Mornings at Nine~a 128-page Book of Appetizers, packed with recipes.

And for The Grand European~a hardcover journal that features maps of the world on the front and back covers.

(I'll add in a 3-pack of Starbucks VIA™ coffee for each of the 3 winners, too!!)

To be eligible to win, simply leave a comment on one (or more) of my Blog posts dated anytime between March 5th and April 15th. Please include your email address along with your comment(s), so I can reach you. I'll draw the three winning names in mid-April and send out the prizes then.

That's about it for now. Off to write about my heroine seeing Venice, Italy for the first time... Is it a city any of you you have been to? If so, what were your first impressions??

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April Henry & Lis Wiehl's Hand of Fate

It's wonderful to have fellow GCC'er April Henry back here to visit! She and Lis Wiehl have co-authored a new book, HAND OF FATE (Thomas Nelson, April 2010). April Henry grew up in a little town in Southern Oregon where the main industries were timber and pears. When she was was twelve, she sent Roald Dahl a short story she had written about a six-foot-tall frog named Herman who loved peanut butter. He not only wrote her back - he showed it to the editor of an international children’s author, who asked to publish it. Since then, April has written nearly a dozen mysteries and thrillers for adults and teens, with seven more on the way. Look for her young adult thriller - Girl, Stolen - in October 2010. Lis Wiehl is a former federal prosecutor who is now a legal analyst for FOX-TV.

A little about Hand of Fate: When the host of a popular radio talk show is murdered, the suspects almost outnumber his millions of listeners. Outspoken radio talk show host Jim Fate dies he opens a package and releases poisonous gas while his polarizing show, "The Hand of Fate," is on air. In the ensuing panic, police evacuate downtown Portland. Soon the triple threat of FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges, crime reporter Cassidy Shaw and Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce begin piecing together the madness, motive, and the mystery that lie behind Fate’s murder.

While Lis has worked with Bill O’Reilly for years (often serving as the voice of reason or his liberal foil, depending on your point of view), the character is NO WAY based on O’Reilly. This is the second in the Triple Threat mystery series, which has been optioned for TV. The first one, Face of Betrayal, was on the New York Times bestseller list for four weeks! And in April 2011, readers can look for Heart of Ice, which traces the path of a destruction left by a sociopath - and based on a real-life case Lis prosecuted.

Publishers Weekly wrote, "Exciting... readers will identify with these very real women as they try to uncover Fate's killer, and each battles a personal demon—Allison her fear of miscarriage, Nic her fear of her daughter's criminal father, and Cassidy her prescription drug addiction.”

1. Can you tell us about your new book? Outspoken radio talk show host Jim Fate is murdered when poisonous gas fills his studio. In the ensuing panic, police evacuate downtown Portland. The triple threat of FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges, crime reporter Cassidy Shaw and Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce is on the case - but far too many people would have liked to have seen Jim dead.

2. I've never been able to choose just one favorite food, but do you have a clear preference? I should be Irish - I love potatoes. Baked, boiled, hashbrowned, fried, scalloped, mashed ... you just can’t go wrong with potatoes.

3. What's your Writer Fantasy--i.e., to see your book make into a feature film, to be on the New York Times bestseller list for 40 consecutive weeks, etc.? My writer fantasy is three starred reviews.

4. What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication? Tenacity is as important as talent. I watched people I took classes with - who were far better writers - not get published simply because they got a few rejections.

5. Do your neighbors/hometown acquaintances know you're a published author or did you just choose to tell those closest to you? I’ve been published since 1999, so most people know - and I’m not shy. However, most of the people I take kung fu with don’t know that I am a writer, and when one of them finds out, they are always surprised.

Thanks, April! Best wishes to you and Lis on this thrilling new mystery.

To everyone reading, what are some of your favorite mysteries? Do you like them dark or light? Suspenseful or humorous? Graphic or cozy?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Some Great Links to Start the Weekend

Donald Maass wrote a wonderful Writer Unboxed post on the "Elements of Awe" this week. Excellent stuff!

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit pal Ellen Meister is giving away a $25 Amazon.com giftcard in a drawing for her mailing list subscribers. Her upcoming novel, THE OTHER LIFE (Putnam/2011), is already getting great early buzz. NYT bestselling author Sarah Addison Allen wrote, "THE OTHER LIFE is a provocative and unique tale of the road not taken. Ellen Meister puts a magical, masterful spin on one of my favorite questions: "What if?" What if you took both roads? You won't want to miss this one!" Take a peek at her website for more info on all of her novels!

The Seekers give FABULOUS advice on what they wished they'd known before being published. In my opinion, every aspiring writer should read this...

Check out my friend Maureen McGowan's incredibly cool bookcovers!! Cannot wait to get my hands on these novels this fall!

And, finally, because I've been waiting for the day when our dear Jane would be revealed as a special kind of healer, here's a Telegraph article that rightfully gives Jane Austen her due. And many thanks to my friend Joan in PA for sharing this!

Have a relaxing--and hopefully sunny--weekend, everyone :-).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!!

Hope everyone who celebrates has a wonderful Easter Sunday!!

Now, go color some eggs :-).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Blog Awards!

Many thanks to two lovely bloggers for giving me recent awards! Morgan Mandel gave me the "Happy 101" award, and Brande from Book Junkie bestowed upon me the "One Lovely Blog" award. Thanks so much for the honor, ladies!

For Happy 101, the primary rule for accepting the award it to post 10 things that make you happy and then to pass it along to 5 other bloggers.

And for One Lovely Blog, the rules for accepting the award include posting it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 10 other blogs. (Well, once I got started, I came up with a few more than that. :-) And notify everyone. Considering it's the Easter weekend, I'm bound to be a little slow at that...

So, here we go! 10 things that make me happy:
1. Peeps--squishy, sweet and so amusing
2. Warm weather (!!!!)
3. Anything Jon Bon Jovi sings
4. Gelato (I'm not at all picky on flavor)
5. Trips to scenic places, from Door County to the island of Capri
6. Funny, furry, loving pets
7. My son's artwork (and my son!)
8. Reading a novel that makes me laugh and feel understood by the author
9. The number 42 (because it's the answer to everything, just ask Douglas Adams)
10. My friends--online and off
(Also: my husband, my brother and parents, Jane Austen, Cadbury chocolate-caramel eggs, a working computer/printer, certain scripty fonts, going to live rock concerts, veggie pizza, book contracts, the film "When Harry Met Sally...")

I'm passing along Happy 101 to:
1. Edie Ramer/Magical Musings
2. Robin Bielman
3. Writing Romance in a Closet
4. Book Junkie
5. Cultural Observations

And I'm sharing the One Lovely Blog award with:
1. Pamela Cayne's Blog
2. Time Flies
3. Chick with a Quill
4. Writing in a Vortex
5. This Writer's Life
6. Susan McBride/The Stiletto Gang
7. Tina Radcliffe/The Seekers
8. Lainey Bancroft
9. Austenesque Reviews
10. Kwana Writes
11. Morgan Mandel's Double M's Take on Books...
12. Tonya Kappes/The Naked Hero
13. Alita Reads
14. In the Shade of a Willow
15. Lone Star Meanderings
16. Maureen McGowan
17. Austenprose
18. Not Quite Lost, Not Quite Found
19. Judy Croome
20. NovelWhore's Blog
21. Brittany Rochelle's Blog
22. VVB32 Reads

Consider yourselves very much appreciated by me :).

Also, on April 8th, it will be exactly 3 years since I started this blog. Thanks to all of you for being such a wonderful part of this blogging journey! xoxox