Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Whether we end up sticking to them or not, everyone has their resolution list, full of do's and don'ts, ready to launch on January 1st.

As a rule, I don't make a list, as I never stick to resolutions. So this year, I decided to come up with just a simple goal to get me through the year. One that I can mold and shape into any given situation:

Work hard and do the best I can. 

I can apply this to work, writing, dieting, trying new things...anything really. And if I fail in one area, I can always succeed in another. It may sound like I'm taking the easy way out of bettering myself for the new year, but who can argue with simply trying you best?

On that note, I hope everyone has a great New Year! And if 2012 really does mark the end of the world, head South. Near water (if it's a zombie invasion). That's where the hubby, pugs, and I will be.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas from me to you...

It's not possible for me to reach out to everyone individually during the holiday season, so I thought I'd share some of my personal holiday favorites on my website. So take a moment, mute the television, and sit back and relax.

Merry Christmas...from my casa to yours!!! 

It just isn't Christmas without listening to Cheech & Chong's Santa Claus and His Old Lady. The local radio stations always played this around the holidays when I was growing up. Every year, I download this from YouTube and pretend I'm a kid again, driving around in the car with my folks, quoting every line to the best Christmas story ever concieved since Charles Dickens.

Turn up the volume and sing along with me to some of my favorite Christmas tunes. I've never been into Christmas Carols (probably because I can't sing), but sometimes there are songs that brighten up your day and make you laugh, while others make you reflect and make you cry.

Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses (1981) is simply the best Christmas song ever...

Merry Christmas from the Family by Robert Earl Keen (1994), is the epitome of a Texas-style Christmas. If you're from Lone Star State (or the South), y'all will understand...

Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly Parton (1982) is hands down one of my favorites. I wait for it to come on the radio every December so I can sing (and cry) along...(I'm crying right now as I'm listing to this). 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Year in Review

I can't believe it's the end of Round 4 for ROW80! I also can't believe that I stuck with ROW80 for 3 rounds (thats almost an entire year)! Wait, actually, I can. The amount of support and camaraderie from my fellow ROW80's was enough to keep me going. I don't know what I would have done without y'all. Seriously.

This final update will also serve as my Year in Review, so to speak. I have accomplished so much in such a short period of time, it only makes sense to tie this into my update, for I wouldn't have gotten this far without a little encouragement...

My goal for ROW80 (every round) was simple: write everyday. I figured that writing everyday, even if it was a minimal amount, would lead me to my ultimate goal - to publish my first book. And while I often wavered on my goals, I managed to publish a short novella AND my debut novel.

Of course, this last round was supposed to get me towards the end of book 2 in my series and while I didn't quite finish, I am almost done! I hope to spend the rest of December finishing the dreaded first draft.

I've come along way since last December, when I decided I was going to pursue my dreams and focus on my writing. But I didn't just focus and accomplish what I set out to do...I met some fabulous friends in the process. I thank you guys for commenting on my posts, beta reading, promoting my book, being a shoulder to cry on, and above all - just being there.

And if you're still reading this post, here are some 2011 highlights:

*Published my first story (The Fury)
*Published my debut novel (Parallel)
*October blog tour
*December book signing
*Third short story published (Demonic Dolls Anthology)
*Interviewed J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch
*Participated in ROW80
*Sold over 700 ebooks in 4 months (Parallel)

I had none of those things last December. All I had was an idea for a story and it just snowballed from there.

And just to be sure you get the message...I couldn't have done this without you guys. Sure, I can write a story and upload it, but it means nothing without you, dear readers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Debutante Ball - Feast of Debut Authors

I may be well and married and too old for a coming out party, but when I found out about this tour, I just had to pull out my dance card and participate!

For those of you who are new to my site, I recently published my debut novel, Parallel, the first in the Travelers Series. I am currently working on book two in the series, Paradox. 

I really wanted to put this post to good use and do a quick rundown of who would I would cast to star in the lead roles if Parallel ever got picked up and made into a movie (or even a t.v. show, I'm not picky). But I couldn't! I couldn't find the right Cooper and Etta, well I guess the image of her is spoiled due to the cover.

Destiny has a way of catching up. Saddled with powers she doesn’t understand, Etta Fleming’s world is turned upside-down the day she meets Cooper Everett, the man who transports her to an alternate reality. A reality she was meant to be a part of.

One minute, she’s an orphan living at Dominion House for Girls, an institution for delinquent foster kids, then finds herself attending the exclusive Dominion Hall Academy.

Plucked from the only world she’s ever known, Etta now has to deal with an aunt she never knew, a boyfriend she doesn’t know, and a best friend who can’t know. 

Here's what folks have to say about Parallel:

"I give this one a five out of five - an entertaining, fast paced, page turner..." Heather, Bewitched Bookworms

"I anticipated a fun read but I was blown away by how much I loved Parallel..." Jenn, Tynga's Reviews

"Ms. Lefeve did one heck of a job keeping me entertained but also keeping me at bay from answers till the end...Seriously Ms. Lefeve, you are brilliant..." Savy, Books with Bite

"This book has everything it has to offer to all the readers who wanted to take on a new journey of reading...Absolutely Fascinating! Two Thumbs-up!" Clarissa, Teen Readers Diary

Want a signed copy of Parallel? Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win* during the debutante tour!

** Contest ENDS the 31st of December!

Winners will be announced at the end of the tour on January 2nd on each participating author's blog.
*US residents can enter to win a signed paperback copy of Parallel. International residents will be registered to win an ebook copy.

For more chances to win, check out the following author blogs on December dates below!

12 Elizabeth Mueller

13 Regan Guerra

14 Melissa Pearl

15 Claudia Lefeve

16 Joseph Beekman

17 Pendragon Innmen 

19 Alex J. Cavanaugh

22 Anastasia V. Pergakis

23 H. Linn Murphy  

27 Patti Larsen

28 Red Tash

29 Annetta Ribken

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Guesting, Reading, and Dancing...

I can't believe Christmas is a little more than a week away! Leave it to me to still be behind on my holiday correspondence (ahem...still need to purchase cards) and shopping! But as busy as I may seem, I always seem to have enough time to take on more than I actually have the time for.

Today, I'm guest posting over at Red Tash's site!! I never get over how gracious and welcoming other authors are with their precious web space. So, thanks Red for allowing me to take the spotlight for a day! You can read my post on what to get a writer for Christmas here!

If you noticed the sidebar, there are two holiday promos that I'm involved in. The first I'm sure you've already noticed is for the 12 Days of Christmas Reading giveaway! Don't forget to stop by and check-out all the funny and memorable holiday stories from 13 awesome authors!

And being from the South, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to participate in the Debutante Ball - A Feast of Debut Authors! Don't miss reading about the 20 fantastic debut authors and their novels for a chance to win big! My post will be featured tomorrow, so check back for a chance to be entered in the contest.

On the ROW80 writing front, I have another 2k words or so on book two. It is slowly (but surely) progressing. I would really like to bang out a lot more over the weekend before Christmas comes around! Best of luck to everyone on the final days of ROW80!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hate Math, but Love Numbers!

This will be a short update as I posted a rather long essay in yesterday's post, which is part of the 12 Days of Christmas Reading giveaway. I have another holiday guest post that I have to work on tonight for my good friend and author, Red Tash (Red, if you're reading this, I promise to have to you before tomorrow!!)

ROW80 Update:
I am making good on my word goals these past few days...yay!

Thursday - 1,000k
Friday - 1,470k
Saturday - I napped and read :)
Sunday - 1,040k and I'm still writing, so my Sunday word count might get to 2k by the end of the night.

On the humorous end of things, I'm a hit in France! Parallel is ranked #12 in Teen Sci-Fi/Fantasy, right below Veronica Roth's Divergent! I'm laughing as I write this because it only took ONE eBook sold in France to get to that ranking. So, merci beaucoup goes out to the sole reader who pushed me to the top!

But on a serious note, a BIG thank you goes out to all those readers out there for taking a chance on my book. So far this month, I've sold over 120 ebooks and it's only December 11th! So again, thank you dear readers!!!

Until Wednesday...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Christmas Story

I can't believe Christmas is almost here. The mail strewn on my kitchen counter tells me that I'm already behind on my holiday cards. And I'll be honest, Christmas isn't one of my favorite holidays. I'm much more comfortable celebrating Halloween or Thanksgiving, were I can gorge on candy or stuff myself with turkey. Sure, I love getting presents, but I'd gladly forgo gifts and holiday merriment, in exchange for not having to shop for last minute gifts.

Now, what I do love about the holidays are all the memories I have of my family during that time. Never one to be conventional, our family always celebrates together on Christmas Eve. Every year, the entire lot travels to my aunt's place, doing last minute runs to Feldman's Liquor, piling all the presents for the cousins in the back of the mini-van, to be rewarded by the savoring aroma of brisket as soon as we enter the door (we're from Texas, okay?). Not to mention the heaping pile of steamy tamales (to clarify, we're from South Texas) that my aunts prepare special for the occasion. Shortly after we load our plates up with goodies, we gather around the television set to watch A Christmas Story on TNT, for what seems to be for the umpteenth time that day, before gifts are finally exchanged in-between helpings of brisket and beans.

But there was one Christmas Eve we didn't gather. That was the year that will forever be known as the South Texas Christmas Miracle. For that particular day in 2004 boasted the biggest snowfall in Brownsville. I remember waking up that morning to my mother exclaiming, "it's snowing! Come look!" My response? Some sort of morning grumble - I think I even threw a shoe - followed by, "it's just frost. I'm not waking up to look at frost." Now, by this time, I was a bonafide expert when it came to snow. I had lived in the Washington, D.C. area several years now and had already experienced blizzards and snow day closings, so I knew what I was talking about. But when I finally managed to drag myself out of bed later that morning...there it was, greeting me in all its fluffy white splendor. Snow. That day, Brownsville, Texas made national headlines for having the greatest snowfall in day...a whopping 1.5 inches. Yes, that's inches, not feet. It was the first measurable accumulation of snow in the area since 1895. In a place were palm trees line the streets in almost every neighborhood and the Gulf of Mexico is just a few short minutes away, we finally witnessed our first official White Christmas.

Even I had to admit, it was kind of impressive, given that the year before I wore shorts and flops to Christmas Eve dinner. And now there I was, having travelled all the way from D.C. to visit family, only to being told that "there's too much snow on the ground, so we can't go to Tia Toni's." That's right, amigos, dinner, gifts, and holiday cheer was ultimately postponed a day, until everyone felt "safe" enough to travel. I had to laugh about the entire ordeal, really. The roads were too warm for any of the snow to actually stick and all the white powder soon melted of roofs and lawns by noon, but it was truly a Christmas to remember and surely one for the record books. Some even capitalized on our little miracle: one couple wrote a coffee table book, while others displayed some entrepreneurial holiday spirit and sold snow on eBay (some poor souls actually bid on it).

It's been a few years since I've been home for the holidays and if memory serves, that might have been the last Christmas I spent at home with my family. Oh, I still manage to go home once or twice a year, but usually when I can avoid the holiday spike in airfare. And no matter what time of the year I visit my family, there's still plenty of brisket, beans, and tamales to go around...and I always remember to bring my flops.


This essay is part of 12 Days of Christmas Reading promotion that runs from December 10 - December 22.  If you want to check out the other fabulous writers participating in this promotion, check it out here. Make sure you leave a comment to enter to win some great books, including a copy of Parallel. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

For All Us Slackers...

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for another ROW80 Update. I don't know how much I actually wrote these last couple of days, but I did manage to write a whooping 1k this morning before I headed off to work (that's what happens when you take a 10 min nap at 7pm and wake up at 3am!)

I also wrote a fun holiday post that I will have up sometime on Friday, as part of the 12 Days of Christmas Reading Giveaway, hosted by fellow ROW80's, J.R. Pearse Nelson and Nadja Notariani!

Also, I am proud to be a part of (which accounts for my awesomeness word count the morning) National Novelist Slack-A$$ Month (#NaNoSlackMo), the brainchild of another fab ROW80'er, Jenny Hansen. This challenge is for those that didn't win NaNoWriMo (although y'all are winners in our hearts) or didn't participate to begin with (like moi). So let's see if I can do 25k this month!

Until Sunday, have a great ROW80 week!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Down to Business

I've debated on writing this post for awhile now. I know there are a lot of writers that post their monthly sales figures and while I find those reports very informative, I have to question, "is this something I want to do?"

After much thought, I decided to go ahead and post my sales stats for Parallel. I don't know if this will become a regular occurance on my blog, but maybe I'll try it just this once. In the last few weeks, I've had emails from writers interested in my sales, not to be nosy, but wanting to gauge how they are progressing by comparison and since most of my followers at this point are writers, why not share my own progress?

To be honest, I actually appreciate it when writers share their sales figures. I know not everyone feels the same way, but it really does give me an idea of how other authors in my genre are doing in terms of sales/trends/etc.

So for those that are curious, here are my recent stats for the last three months:

August (I hit the "publish" button until August 26th, so this is only a few days of sales for the month):
Amazon Kindle: 12
Barnes & Noble Nook: 52

Amazon Kindle: 26
Barnes & Noble Nook: 25

Amazon Kindle: 64
Barnes & Noble Nook: 23
Apple iBook: 1

Amazon Kindle: 224
Barnes & Noble Nook: 25
Createspace (paperback): 1

eBook Sales: 452
Print: 1

All in all, not bad for three months! Since November, I am averaging about 6-10 books a day and even though we are only in the first few days of *December, I am still seeing a rise in sales. Aside from actual book sales, I've also been asked what I'm doing to get these numbers and to be honest, I have no idea...maybe the spike in November sales was due to the blog tour I did in October, perhaps I'm just in the right genre, or it could very well be the luck of the draw. This is not to say I'm killin' it, but personally, I'm pretty damn proud to have sold this many books in such a short period of time.

Book Signing!

As some of you know, I did a very small book signing in Old Town Alexandria (where Parallel takes place) on Friday. My friend Jody was kind enough to let me sell books during her Islay Trunk Show. I only brought 10 books to sign, figuring I'd sell only a couple, then I could just give the rest away for Christmas gifts, but surprisingly, I ended up selling/signing 9!! There were several folks there that were desperate to find stocking stuffers for their nieces/daughters. So now, I actually have to get a couple more to add to my gift list! 

It was a nice affair, complete with champagne, cheese, and other goodies. Not to mention getting to see a few friends that I haven't seen since moving away from Alexandria. I don't know if I'll do more book signings, since it's not really cost effective (gas, chipping in for snacks, etc.), but it did get my name and website out and it was a total blast. Perhaps I'll do another small one in the future...we'll see.

ROW80 Update

A few weeks ago, I decided to revamp my goals from writing everyday, to writing at least 5,000 words a week. Well, that's not really working for me. I am writing everyday, but as we all know, life gets in the way. That being said, I guess I'll just stick to my original goal of just keeping it real and write what I can a day. 

Paradox (book dos) is coming along nicely and I'm totally digging what my characters have come up with in terms their adventures. So far, I've traveled to Mexico City, Boston, and Las Vegas, and in different dimensions no less!! 

I'm also working daily on my other WIP, an adult paranormal, that I sometimes forget to share my progress on. I'm about a third of the way done and I'm pretty excited about it. 

On the promotion front, I'm scheduled to do three guest posts this month. Yay! I'll keep you posted on those as they are posted. 

*I'm already over 500 in ebook sales as of today (all months combined).