Friday, February 27, 2009

Book Contests, To Do or Not to Do?

I'm in a holding pattern these days, spinning my brain around whether or not to enter award contests.

You wouldn't think it would be much of a decision. Enter your book, maybe get some notoriety. The problem becomes the entry fees and the cost associated. You see, in some cases, I need to submit up to three books (so I take a loss on the cost of the books) and then there's the entry fee - almost all are at least $100 or more.

I have ultimate faith in my story, and to have an award attached to it would be the ultimate validation. However, I'm already in the red when it comes to my book, it's hard to keep mailing the checks, you know?

So I'd love to get your opinion, both from writers and non-writers alike. Is it worth it? My next deadline to enter my next contest is next week.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday 13 - Good Quotes from My Reviews

You may or may not know, this blog is the home of my new novel, The List (buy it on Amazon!).

I've gotten some wonderful reviews, some from people I haven't heard from in years and years, and others from professional review sites. Reviews are an author's way of feelin' good about their work, so I thought I'd share some of the things people have said about The List.




1. "I can picture it being made into a movie and featured alongside How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Runaway Bride." - From Love, Romance, Passion site review
2. "The List is a downright funny read!" - Coffee Time Romance site review
3. "Move over Janet Evanovich!" - Amazon.com review
4. "However this triumphant book assists the reader into actually thinking of putting away their list and enjoying the pleasures of dating...if only for a little while." - Coffee Time Romance site review
5. "What a fun and satisfying read." - Amazon.com review
6. "I ended up so into the story that I exercised way past my usual time...now my legs are sore!" - Amazon.com review
7. "Carmen has written a fun book with a good plot and ample humor to brighten a wintry day." - Amazon.com review
8. "I love how it took a common idea that many women have (the list) and turned it into a sweet parody of that idea." - Love, Passion, Romance site review
9. "I laughed out loud, got angry, felt the disappointment, then the elation and excitement along with the main character as her love life evolved." - Amazon.com review
10. "The characters are smart and vibrant, without giving you the feeling that these-people-don't-exist.".
11. "This book was fantastic, witty and puts down on paper what we all think and live in the life of a 20/30s someone." - Amazon.com review
12. "Shirkey's style is sassy and full of spunk!" - Amazon.com review
13. "Very enjoyable. I recommend it for a cold winter day in front of the fireplace or a hot sunny day on the beach."

Home of the new Thursday 13

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Woot! The Reviews Keep Coming.

You know, I've always thought The List was a good book. But then, I wrote it. So it's my baby.

That's why I love getting reviews. Especially reviews from people who do this for a living.

The folks over at Coffee Time Romance have blessed The List with a review of 4 cups.

Here's an excerpt:
The List is a downright funny read! Anyone who wants to find Mr. Right, has a list detailing the qualities of Mr. Right, and has actually been disappointed when a guy did not meet the criteria of your list must read this book

Read the full review here.

Thanks Coffee Time!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Review & Slumdog

While not a review from a professional source, I received a review on Amazon this weekend that really knocked my socks off. The title was "Move over Janet Evanovich." HOLY COW! I love her books, so that's quite the compliment.

I also saw "Slumdog Millionaire" this weekend. Again, I say HOLY COW! Gives me hope for my book, and here's why. This movie started out as a small independent film. The kicker is that it's a good story. It's not necessarily the money you throw at something or the big names that support something. If it's a good story, people will pay attention. If you build it, they will come. Just like my book! I keep hearing wonderful things from you, the readers, and I appreciate them all!

Just a note, I have to attend an on-site meeting at work the next few days, so please pardon my lack of updates. Why they need to see my face, I don't know. But they're gonna see it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Great Review!

Did I tell you about the AWESOME review I got from the Love, Romance, Passion Website? It is the first PROFESSIONAL review, meaning I don't know them personally and they have no incentive to lie to their users about their book reviews. :)

Have a read.

Reviews make me feel good! That's why I ask anyone who has read the book to write a review on Amazon. It helps me spread the word about The List, and lets others who want to read a contemporary romance or a romantic comedy can find me when they search!

So, I'll remind you that I am continuing to run a contest, which I'm calling my "New Zoo Review" contest. If you write an Amazon or Facebook review, you're entered to win! See all the details.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday 13 - Things I've learned about being an author

You may or may not know, this blog is the home of my new novel, The List (buy it on Amazon!).

I've learned a lot about being a self-published author, and here's a list of 13 things I've learned!




1. "Self-published" still has a stigma. It's like wearing a big red letter. But things seem to be getting a little bit better that way.
2. If you don't toot your own horn, few others will toot it for you.
3. You have to ask for what you want. If you ask, sometimes you will receive.
4. Social media is a mixed bag. You can let yourself get sucked into doing nothing else, but if you use it wisely, it's just another way to get the word out.
5. Marketing your book is almost a full-time job.
6. Correction, it IS a full-time job.
7. I'm a marketer by trade, and it's a lot easier, from a comfort standpoint, to market someone else rather than to market yourself.
8. When you market yourself, you had better have a thick skin, because everyone's a critic.
9. However, there are a few kind souls out there that are always willing to help. They're like writing angels.
10. For some reason, getting people to write reviews, even if they really like your book, is like pulling teeth.
11. Remember that old saying, "you have to spend money to make money?" Well, sadly, it's true.
12. Because of all these things, you really have to believe in what you're selling. I really believe in my book, in my story, and in my storytelling. So I have faith that eventually, I'll at least break even. :)
13. Though, you should always listen to advice. It's like those American Idol singers that are really horrible but think their great. Get advice outside of your family and friends. If you get constructive criticism, take heed.

Home of the new Thursday 13

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The List Word Cloud

So my new author friend RW Ridley turned me onto this new application called Wordle. It creates graphic images of your word cloud. Here's a word cloud of the first few paragraphs of The List. I thought it really showed what this romantic comedy was all about!

Monday, February 16, 2009

And the Winner Is. . .

Thanks to everyone who played in the Valentine's Day contest! I got nearly 20 new Facebook fans, and hopefully new friends of The List!

The deal was, if you became a Facebook fan, or if you were already a fan and left a comment, you received one entry in the contest. I put everyone's name into Jim's favorite baseball cap from our trip to Greece, and he had the honor of drawing a winner's name.

And the winner is . . . (drumroll, please)

VIRGINIA ESPARZA! Woot! (streamers fly, confetti drops, it's a big day.) Virginia wins the romantic necklace to wear proudly as a badge of honor. :)

And just because I was in a good mood today, I had Jim reach right back in the bag and draw another name. New friend Susan Cook was the name drawn out of ye ol' hat, and she'll be getting a $50 hotel gift card.

Thank you to everyone who played, and keep an eye out for new contests. I still have a contest for those who write reviews of the book on Amazon and my Facebook page, so some of you have a shot at that prize! Details here: http://bit.ly/COMUW

Contest has ended

I'm sorry, but the Valentine's Day contest ended at midnight on Feb. 15. Winner to be announced soon!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Last Day to Enter!

If you'd like a chance to win this gorgeous, romantic necklace, today's your last chance! I'm giving it away in my Valentine's Contest this weekend. The necklace was designed by a wonderful jewelry designer, Peggy Li. She sent this one specifically for my book, because she thought it was romantic, like the book. :) It retails for $65! Peggy's jewelry is so great, it's been featured on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI, Without a Trace, and more.

The contest ends today! Hurry and enter!

To enter, all you have to do is become a fan of The List on Facebook. That's it. That's all!

If you're not on Facebook, now's your chance! It's so much fun, a great way to keep in touch, and it's all the rage. (peer pressure) It's easy to register.

I appreciate everyone who is already a Facebook fan, and don't worry, you can still enter. You're not automatically entered, but you can still visit the Facebook fan page. and leave a comment or a review during this contest.

I'll randomly draw a name from a hat from everyone who entered. I'll announce the winner on February 16, and send the winner an email on Facebook.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Celebrate Valentine's Day with a Contest!

Check out this romantic necklace! I'm giving it away in my Valentine's Contest this weekend. The necklace was designed by a wonderful jewelry designer, Peggy Li. She sent this one specifically for my book, because she thought it was romantic, like the book. :) It retails for $65! Peggy's jewelry is so great, it's been featured on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI, Without a Trace, and more.

The contest continues through tomorrow, Feb. 15, so enter now!

To enter, all you have to do is become a fan of The List on Facebook. That's it. That's all!

If you're not on Facebook, now's your chance! It's so much fun, a great way to keep in touch, and it's all the rage. (peer pressure) It's easy to register.

I appreciate everyone who is already a Facebook fan, and don't worry, you can still enter. You're not automatically entered, but you can still visit the Facebook fan page. and leave a comment or a review during this contest.

I'll randomly draw a name from a hat from everyone who entered. I'll announce the winner on February 16, and send the winner an email on Facebook.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Contest Continues!

We're in full swing for the Valentine's contest, which started yesterday and runs through Sunday, Feb. 15th! Since The List is a romance book, (specifically a romantic comedy) I couldn't let the holiday go by without a contest. :)

To enter, become a fan of The List on Facebook. That's it. That's all!

If you're not on Facebook, now's your chance! It's so much fun, a great way to keep in touch, and it's all the rage. (peer pressure) It's easy to register.

I appreciate everyone who is already a Facebook fan, and don't worry, you can still enter. You're not automatically entered, but you can still visit the Facebook fan page. and leave a comment or a review during this contest.

I'll randomly draw a name from a hat from everyone who entered. I'll announce the winner on February 16, and send the winner an email on Facebook.

The prize is FANTASTIC, as well as romantic. It's a necklace by a wonderful jewelry designer, Peggy Li. She sent this one specifically for my book, because of its romantic nature. :) It retails for $65! Peggy's jewelry is so great, it's been featured on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI, Without a Trace, and more.

Photobucket

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursday 13 - Why You Should Play in the Contest!

You may or may not know, this blog is the home of my new novel, The List (buy it on Amazon!).

Since The List is a romantic comedy, I can't let the most romantic of holidays go by without celebrating somehow. So I'm having another contest!

This Thursday 13 details the contest and why you should join. It's so easy to enter!



1. To enter, become a fan of The List on Facebook.
2. Really, that's it! Not on Facebook? It's so much fun, a great way to keep in touch, and it's all the rage. (peer pressure) It's easy to register.
3. If you already ARE a Facebook fan, thank you.
4. For my "already a fan" base, to be entered in the contest, just leave a comment on the Facebook fan page.
5. If you're already a fan, and have a copy of the book, you may also write a review as a way to enter.
6. Clarification, if you're already a fan, you're not automatically entered. You need to leave a comment or a review. But that's not hard!
7. The contest is open from February 12 through February 15.
8. I'll randomly draw a name from a hat from everyone who entered. I'll announce the winner on February 16, and send the winner an email on Facebook.
9. No purchase is necessary, but if you'd like to read the book, you can buy it here.
10. Men, just because it's a romance book, doesn't mean that you can't become a fan. Maybe your wife/girlfriend/mother/sister would like a copy, and I KNOW they'd like the prize.
11. Let me tell you about the prize. It's a necklace by a wonderful jewelry designer, Peggy Li. She sent this one specifically for my book, because of its romantic nature. :) It retails for $65! Peggy's jewelry is so great, that it's been featured on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI, Without a Trace, and more.
12. Remember, all you have to do is become a fan on Facebook! It's so easy I almost hate myself for doing it. ;)
13. Here's a picture of the necklace:
Photobucket


Home of the new Thursday 13

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Track The List!

If you've picked up a copy of my book in the airport, train station, taxi - wherever - I want to know where you found it, and where you left it for the next person to read!

Please leave a comment in the section marked "reviewers raved about the list." Make sure you leave an email so I can contact the winner of the prize.

If you enjoyed the book, I kindly ask that in return for the free copy, you leave a review for me on Amazon. Click here to go to the Amazon page.

Thank you for playing!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My book DOES have a market

You know, when I sent my book through the traditional avenues - trying to get an agent, a publisher, etc. - I had a few people tell me that it was a good romantic comedy book, but that they just couldn't sell it, that there wasn't a market.

Clearly, they just weren't trying hard enough. Because here's a prime example of why my book DOES have a market.

I don't know how many of you read the Washington Post, but Carolyn Hax is the advice columnist there. This is a link to an actual letter that she received.

Here's an excerpt:

Dear Carolyn:

Before I met my boyfriend, I had a long list of things I wanted in a husband. Now I'm in love with a sweet guy who loves me very much, but who doesn't have some of the important things on my "list." If I leave him, I could regret it forever, but if I don't, I could miss out on someone who does complete my list. What should I do?

To Be or Not to Be!

I invite you to click on the link to read Carolyn's response, but the more I talk to folks about The List, the more universal the theme becomes.

I found my own list last night, tucked into my Bible. While it was nowhere near the complexity of my character, Candace's list, (plus, I'd paired it down a bit) I think that every woman has a list.

So today and tomorrow, I'd love to hear what was on your list. Or your wife's list. Or your girlfriend's list. Tell me your story.


Monday, February 9, 2009

An in-person booksigning!

You know that saying about "there's a time for everything?" I'm hoping that this is the time for my romantic comedy, The List.

The article in my hometown paper last week generated an email from a local bookstore asking if I would consider a book signing. Well, yeah! Details to be worked out.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Now Available on Kindle

Although I'd like to have one, I don't have one of those new-fangled Kindle wireless readers. However, maybe if enough people buy the Kindle version of The List, I'll have some extra money to get one of my very own.

That said, if you want to add a great romantic comedy to your Kindle reading list, The List is now available for download on Amazon for the bargain price of $8. Check it out!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thursday 13: What I've Learned

One of the most-asked questions I get about my new book, The List (buy it on Amazon!) is how I wrote the book, and what I've learned. Here's a list of 13 answers to those questions.



1. I always think of my creative ideas in the middle of the night, like a dream.
2. Once I have an idea, it doesn't let go until I do something about it - write it down, etc.
3. I needed something to push me to write, I couldn't get motivated on my own, so I participated in National Novel Writing Month, at NaNoWriMo.com
4. For one month, I wrote about 3000 words per night to finish the contest.
5. I learned that I can do anything that I put my mind to.
6. I've also learned not to give up.
7. Another lesson: you have to fight for what you believe in. You'll have a lot of people tell you "no" or think you're crazy.
8. If you have other people that believe in you, it makes things easier.
9. Rejection letters are to be saved for when you are proven right, and then rolled around in. (This day has yet to come, but it will!)
10. Self-marketing is the hardest kind of marketing I've ever done.
11. I've also learned that a good editor is probably worth the outrageous price you'll pay.
12. Writing takes discipline. And patience. Both something I lack, but I learned.
13. Write what you know.


Home of the new Thursday 13

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Virtual Book Tour Continues

Today, I'm being interviewed by my blog-friend and Vegas soul-mate's blog, the Virginia Monologues. She asked some great questions about my novel, The List, and how I wrote the romantic comedy. She asks if I like the genre of chick-lit, who are my fave authors, how much is autobiographical, etc., so I hope you'll stop by and leave a comment!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Local Fame

In case you didn't see it on my Facebook or Twitter posts, here's a link to a newspaper article (that was featured on the FRONT PAGE of my hometown paper) about me and The List.

Read the article

I'll be adding this to my press kit shortly.

The article mentions that I'll be appearing as an exhibitor with my romantic comedy book at the 2009 Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, Va on March 21. I have no idea how many books to take with me. I'm open to suggestions. :) Do people sell a lot of books at book fairs, or mostly network?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Guest Blogging

In case you can't get enough of my ramblings here, I'm guest blogging today over on Love, Romance, Passion. Don't worry, it's nothing sappy, it's just about how I got the idea for this book, the process of writing, etc.