Saturday, August 27, 2011

Me, Myself, and Irene

Yup...we're bracing for a hurricane after the shortest beach vacation ever: the fam and I arrived on Wednesday afternoon and were forced to evacuate on Friday morning. But that's not what I'm writing about today. Today, I want to share what writers can learn from Hurricane Irene (and other examples of nature's fury) that they can use in their manuscripts.

First, there's only so much preparation you can do. You can read the how-to books, get the perfect laptop (or the perfect pen if you're a scribbling type writer), arrange the ideal space for the Muse's visits, and let everyone know you're writing. Eventually, though, you have to stop preparing and hit the ground writing.

Hurricanes start out slow, building as time goes by, and they absorb the atmosphere around them. Writers do the same: absorbing what they read from other books, advice from critique partners and professionals, and honing their skills through continual practice.

Take no prisoners when you're writing! Sometimes we become so attached to our characters, we don't want to hurt them. No one wants to read a story about a pretty, kindhearted girl who never has a bad hair day. We need conflict. Hurricanes are full of conflict, drama, and take-no-prisoners attitude. Mother Nature doesn't care that a heroine runs a shelter for puppies, orphans, or the elderly. Her fury barrels through, wreaking havoc, and anticipating people will rebuild the destruction afterward (often so she can send a sister hurricane a few years later to destroy it all again). Save your sympathy for real life and wreak havoc on the page.

The aftermath can be devastating. Rejection hurts, whether it's your first or your hundredth. Sometimes, they're not as bad as you thought (particularly if you get some great feedback with a rejection), sometimes you'll get something so scathing, it feels like a hot knife to the heart. Do what all hurricane survivors do: pick up the shattered pieces, fix what you can, and move on.

Hurricanes have been around for centuries and are in no danger of dying out anytime soon. Once you're done with this writing storm, be prepared to build up drama for another manuscript. Write on!

To paraphrase "the most interesting man in the world": Stay safe, my friends!

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Five: Five Television Shows I Never Miss

Sure, I'm a writer. But that doesn't mean I don't have a few guilty pleasures on the "boob tube." In fact, there are several I'll DVR if I know I won't be home to watch or might fall asleep before they're over. Here are a few of those television shows I'm addicted to. P.S.: I've listed these by the night they air, not by personal preference ('cuz that's my obsessive way)

1. Dexter. Love the books, love the series. I own all the previous seasons on DVD and pull them out to re-watch when I'm in a morose or dark place. And I'm stoked for the new season.
2. Rizzoli and Isles. Again, love the books, love the series. I appreciate the differences between the original Gerritsen dynamics and still find myself smiling along with Jane and Maura, as if I'm in on the friendship.
3. Top Chef Just Desserts. Yay! It's back! I love all the Top Chef incarnations and the sweet treats are sooooo amazing. A guilty pleasure with no calories.
4. Project Runway. I admit, I refused to watch the finale last season because I believed Michael Costello got rooked and hearing who won only left a sour taste in my mouth, but I'm back (if warily) for this season. I like the 90 minute length but it does interfere with Show #5, requiring a DVR moment weekly.
5. Wilfred. Have you seen it yet? OMG, it's funny, it's irreverent, it's brutally honest and one of the most original ideas I've seen in ages. The whole family quotes our favorite lines, week after week. If you haven't jumped on the Wilfred bandwagon, catch up! (Warning: it's an in-your-face show and definitely not for those who don't like sexual innuendo and bold sexual situations!)

There ya go. A peek into my twisted viewing mind. What shows do you never miss?

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Today's the Day

I'm currently en route to Oneonta to take my daughter to her junior year in college. Those of you who know me know how close Tori and I are. And yes. I'm trying to hold back the tears. Because as sad as I am to finally let her go, I'm also so extremely proud of her. She's bright and beautiful, generous and loving. She's independent and compassionate. In short, she's all I dreamed she could be when she was born. 

I wish you the best of everything, T-kat! I love you. Learn, dream, grow.

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Five: Five Ways to Guarantee Failure in Publishing

There are lots of writers willing to share their success stories with you. But because I'm a rebel <grin!>, I'm going to give you a few tips on how to fail.

1. Write an 800+ page manuscript (yes, I've done this.)
2. Pitch your erotic romance to an inspirational publisher (aka not doing your homework)
3. Bad mouth editors, agents, and other authors in the industry, complain that they all handle garbage far below your level of artistic genius.
4. Plagiarize major chunks of your story.
5. Quit.

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mid-Week Rude Awakening: Your Loves Don't Give You Presence

A fairly well-known predatory company that calls itself a publishing house has a great idea for you to reach the bestseller list: sell to your family and friends! Umm...okay.

I don't care if you hit every person in your high school graduating class. You're gonna top out at (maximum) 500 sales. Let's take a little time for reality, shall we? Because unless you're Snooki, your name and your acquaintances aren't going to be enough to push your sales into the stratosphere of best-sellerdom.

Whether you sell to a Big 6 publisher, a small press, or self-publish, you'll have to promote yourself. Book tours are expensive for those of us without a marketing department behind us.

What's a writer to do? Get creative. Play to your strengths. Got lots of technostuff on your computer? Create awesome book trailers or mini-commercials. Are you a former police officer who writes mysteries? Consider hosting workshops for other mystery writers who don't have your expertise. Ditto nurses, auto mechanics, or other experts in fields where you find errors in plotlines. Mentor. Judge contests. Attend booksignings. Contact other authors in your area. Talk to your local bookstores and libraries. Is your book only available in electronic format? Get your name and book out there! Join reading forums, find reviewers willing to read your book. Comment on popular blogs. Often.

What shouldn't you do? Don't sit back and do nothing. Don't shrug off promo as unimportant or impossible because of time or money constraints. Don't fall off the radar. Don't decide because you blog three times a week and occasionally Tweet a photo of your recent manicure that you're doing all you can to reach readers. Don't expect to get rich because your husband's coworkers, your neighbors, and the parents of your kids' friends follow you on Facebook.

Be proactive. And of course, don't forget to write that next book. The bigger the backlist, the more readers you can reach.

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Guest Blogging About Authors Night in the Hamptons

Last night, I was out in the Hamptons for Authors Night. Wanna know a little about it? Check out my blog post on the Avalon Authors blog: http://avalonauthors.blogspot.com/2011/08/authors-night-in-hamptons.html

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Nobody's Darling excerpt

Here's a little taste of my latest release, Nobody's Darling, for readers of Sweet Saturday Samples! April Raine is the owner of Rainey-Day-Wife, a parenting services organization that helps overextended parents handle the day-to-day duties of family life. On a morning talk show, she comes up against television psychologist and author, Dr. Jefferson Prentiss, who believes her company actually harms families by handing over the responsibilities of love and family obligations to profit-seeking strangers. Take a look at April and Jeff's conversation on the air:

“In case you’ve just joined us, we’re talking with Ms. April Raine, founder of Rainey-Day-Wife, a parenting services organization, and Dr. Jefferson Prentiss, author of Love Is a Contact Sport. Now, April, you said you wanted to respond to Dr. Jeff’s comments about your organization’s negative impact on marriage and family.”
“Yes, Jocelyn, thank you.” She turned a steady gaze toward him. “First of all, I’d like to say there’s nothing mercenary or shameful in what I do. I provide a service to families who need help, and I am compensated for that service. Don’t you profit from the problems of others, including problems due to troubled relationships?”
Jeff frowned. “I hardly see that as the same thing.”
“No? Do you only treat healthy, well-adjusted patients?”
“Of course not.” Where was she headed with this topic? “But my practice is geared toward healing their ills, not taking advantage of them.”
“And if you can’t heal those ills, do you waive your fees? Are you a philanthropist, Dr. Prentiss?”
“I’m an educated professional, Ms. Raine.”
Her only reaction to the barb flared in the quick blink of her eyes. But in a steady voice, she replied, “I’ve read your book, you know. Unfortunately, I found vital information missing.”
“Oh?” He arched a brow at her. “Such as?”
“Such as a successful relationship takes two people…” She held up two fingers in front of his face. “…working together, twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. Endlessly loving rapport with a spouse is not easy to attain. Bette Davis once said, ‘Love is not enough. It must be the foundation--the cornerstone--but not the complete structure. It is much too pliable, too yielding.’”
His frown deepened until he sensed the camera zooming closer, and he cleared his expression to casual. “If you read my book, you know I never claimed loving rapport was easy. Nothing worthwhile in life is easy to attain. Certainly, by the time a couple decides to have a family, however, they should be secure in their partnership and ready to face new challenges.”
Shaking her head, she smiled, as if she knew a secret he wasn’t privy to. “No one can fully prepare for the stresses of parenthood. Whenever a child is born, priorities change, and a couple’s life is irrevocably altered. Raising a family is the most difficult, gut-wrenching job two people can attempt. Sometimes, the experience makes them stronger. Other times, it tears them apart. But whether their partnership succeeds or fails after the arrival of children, no one’s life should be judged by that outcome.”
Several ladies in the audience cheered, and their hoots and whoops echoed off the soundstage.
Jeff leaned back and waited for the volume in the room to return to normal before continuing. “I realize how demanding a parent’s role is these days. That’s why my book stresses couples must maintain a relationship based on infinite acts of love and consideration, toward each other as well as their children. So they don’t find themselves abandoned, juggling too many responsibilities, and ignoring their children’s true needs in the process.”
Her voice grew soft, almost sympathetic. “How much experience do you have juggling responsibilities, Doctor?”
Now, he blinked. “I’m sorry?”
“Have you ever lost a job because you stayed home with a sick child once too often?” she demanded. “When was the last time you tried to balance your attention evenly between your spouse, your children, your boss, your home, and yourself? Have you ever spent a sleepless night worrying that the check you sent to the gas company would clear your account before your deposit did? Parents are often stretched so tautly, it’s a wonder more of us don’t snap. Frankly, my services help save families teetering on the edge of a breakdown because my staff and I offer them the gift of time. And every parent, no matter how devoted to family, benefits more from extra time than from the acts of love and consideration you espouse.”


Nobody's Darling is available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble from Avalon Books. You can check out links to other Sweet Saturday Samples here.

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html


Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Five: Five Places You Can See Me Before the End of the Year

I'm a busy girl. And I've been booking workshops and talks all around the East. So here are a few places you can see me and learn some great tips about writing in the coming months. Check my sidebar for links and details!

1. East Hampton Library, East Hampton, NY on Saturday, August 13.
2. Farmingdale Library, Farmingdale, NY on Thursday, September 22 and September 29.
3. Renaissance Hotel, Iselin, NJ on Friday, October 21 and Saturday, October 22.
4. Uniondale Library, Uniondale, NY on Saturday, October 29.
5. Cumberland Library, Cumberland, RI on Saturday, December 3.

Come out and see me!

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mid-Week Rude Awakening: When Opportunity Knocks, Do You Say Yes?

Opportunities pop up for us every day. The trick is to recognize them when they appear and to seize them before they escape.
Ever see the movie, Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey? Okay, so life's not a movie. But there's still a message to be learned. In order to truly experience life and all its gifts, we must learn to say, "Yes," when the universe offers us something. Success in the writing world relies on that same magic.
Yesterday, for me, was a day filled with opportunities. I hope I seized them all, but it was almost like that gopher game at carnivals where they pop up so fast, you can't keep up.
My day began with an invitation to become a regular contributor to a large social blog (sort of a Huffington Post for the publishing world). Of course, I said, "Yes!" I was thrilled and honored the editor-in-chief thought of me and my little writing diary here. I'll be sharing details of this development as they become available.
In the afternoon, over lobster ravioli and peach sangria, I became involved in a discussion about last week's Navy SEAL tragedy in Afghanistan. This sparked an idea in my head and, with some help from a few mega-stars in the romance writing industry who eagerly said, "Yes!" (as well as my partner in crime for all these brainstorms of mine), I'm well on my way to participating in something special for the well-deserving family of an American hero. Again, details will come later.
While leaving the restaurant, my cell phone rang. The caller wanted to book one of my workshops for her local library. My answer? Yes, of course.
At each of these junctures, I could have said, "No, I don't have time." I could have kept my big wazoo shut, rather than throwing out that idea that wasn't even fully formed in my head yet. I could have backed down from contacting those mega-stars in the romance writing industry because, after all, who am I to ask them for a favor? I could have. But I didn't.
I said, "Yes" to each and every one. And I got "Yes" in return from everyone I came in contact with.
Why am I writing this as a Rude Awakening? Because yesterday evening, I ran into someone who asked me about another writer. Apparently, Writer X had volunteered to read a few of this lady's pages and send her some commentary. Two and a half weeks ago. To date, she's heard nothing from Writer X. Oh, I'm sure, eventually Writer X will get back to this lady, particularly once the lady contacts her to ask for some kind of status. But that's not the point.
The point is that Writer X didn't embrace "Yes." She uttered the word, sure. But she didn't follow through. She left this nice hopeful writer hanging. And destroyed an opportunity to connect, to show generosity, and perhaps, to create a new fan for herself.
Forgive me for waxing philosophical here, but the universe notices these things. You squander enough opportunities, and they'll soon dry up.
So what will you do when the next opportunity appears in your landscape? Will you say, "Yes" and ignore it? Let it pass you by altogether? Or will you say, "Yes," and run with it?
The choice, the opportunity, is yours.



For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Recipe for Citrus Blueberry Bread

I had some blueberries in my fridge and decided to come up with something a little different for today's baking project. After scanning a bunch of recipes online, I took the best of each to come up with citrus blueberry bread. Try it. You'll like it!

1/4 c water
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp grated lemon peel
1/2 c orange juice
2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 c sugar
1 c fresh blueberries

Glaze:

2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In microwave safe cup or bowl, heat water to boiling. Add butter, lemon peel, and orange juice.
In separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg and sugar until fluffy. While mixing, alternately add dry ingredients and wet ingredients into the egg/sugar mixture.
Fold in blueberries.
Pour batter into a greased and floured 9x5x3 loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

During last few minutes of baking time, mix together honey and orange juice until well mixed and smooth. Spoon over top of hot bread, allowing bread to absorb the juice mixture. Cool and serve.


For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sold!

It's Katherine's turn to happy dance. Echoes of Love, her fourth historical romance for The Wild Rose Press, is officially contracted and in edit mode.

"Echoes" is the story of royal governess, Chesna Dubrow, who must protect the 5-year-old King of Amatia (a fictional country on the border of Russia) from Napoleon Bonaparte's grand plans to rule Europe. Standing in her way is Pietor Gabris, once her childhood sweetheart, and now a loyal French soldier. When intrigue escalates, Chesna will have to place her faith (and her heart!) in the one man she swore she'd never forgive.

Stay tuned for details on release date, cover art, etc. as they develop...

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Five: Five Pieces of Advice That Just Aren't True

Whether they're old wives tales or just tips from well-meaning friends, we've all heard about stuff we should or shouldn't do. Here are five of those so-called rules that science has disproven:

1. Don't swim for at least 30 minutes after eating or you'll get a cramp.
2. If you go outside without a jacket, you'll catch cold.
3. Cats smother newborn babies because they're attracted to the smell of milk.
4. Sitting too close to the television will affect your eyesight.
5. Gum takes seven years to digest if you swallow it.

All wrong! Go forth and break the rules, kids! It's okay.


For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's My Birthday and YOU Get the Presents!

August isn't a month that gets a lot of love. It's hot, the kids are bored and dreading back-to-school, it's hot, barbecued food has lost its appeal, it's hot, your hair is damaged from all the chlorine and salt, it's hot...

But for me, August has been a look-forward-to month since I was 2. My birthday is in August (the 20th, to be precise). Hooray!

So, okay. After a few decades, I might not look forward to my birthday with the same enthusiasm I did when I was 6.

Why don't we stir up some enthusiasm? For the next four weeks, send me a birthday message: here, on Twitter (@GinaArdito), or on Facebook and mention the word "contest" in your greeting. You'll automatically be entered to win a copy of one of my books! The more greetings I receive, the more copies I'll give away so be sure to let all your reader friends in on the deal. Limit one greeting per entrant per day.

Winners will be announced September 4, 2011. Come on, everybody. Show me some birthday love!


For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html