I opened my email tonight and found a wonderful surprise. Particularly after a long, harrowing day with my children cooped up indoors and driving me rather batty.

As you know, I sold the first short story in a new paranormal series, Inherited Damnation. The first book, Cursed to Kill, is still pending a release date and cover, but as a teaser, here's the back cover copy:


One of eight children born to an ancient Celtic priestess and sired by a demonic incubus, Cian McLaine suffers from a centuries old curse. Though his immortality allows him to enjoy the pleasures of mortal life, he is plagued by the desire to kill. As long as he doesn't fall in love he can keep the compulsion at bay.

When Cian walked into her rare bookstore months ago, Miranda Phillips never imagined she'd lose her heart to the handsome playboy. Her reward for doing so was abandonment. Cian left as mysteriously as he appeared, in the middle of the night with no explanation, no goodbye. Now he's back, and passion flares just as hot.

But Cian has secrets. If Miranda is to survive, she must uncover the truth and free his darkened soul.

I'm so excited about this series! I think you'll enjoy it too -- particularly fans of dark paranormal.

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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Options for Authors

0 Comments Posted by Claire Ashgrove at 1:38 AM

Recently, someone in my RWA Chapter announced she was going to self-publish her novel. Her announcement was met with much celebration. But not so very long ago (even as short as last year) this sort of announcement would have been met with a lukewarm response, at best.

Personally, I support this author's decision. I hope she does very well, and at the very least, a novel she believes in, which is written well, will be available on the shelves as "proof" of her dedication and hard work.

But, I wanted really to talk about the options today and her efforts really opened that door. Of course, this is nothing new -- discussions like this are cropping up all over the place. Authors now have freedoms they didn't have previously: self-publishing, small-press digital and print publishing, traditional publishing, are just a few. Authors are starting publishing companies to support their self-pub ventures. Authors are creating "Imprint" motifs to make theirs stand out. Authors are joining with other authors to help network their independantly published titles. And through it all we see the same things happening in both small press and traditional press.

My own feelings?

I think an author will succeed the most by incorporating a variety of approaches, not just using one and only one. It's hard, very hard, to generate notice as an indie-pub'd author. Exposure is often one of the biggest contributors to sales. Sales make or break a career.

I know what I have made in royalties from my small press books, and I know how much time I've put into marketing my book and trying to garner exposure. I also know that even where I have succeeded, there's no way I can generate the level of exposure, or quality of exposure, on my own that my traditional publishing house can do simply by stocking it in bookshelves.

It's also a well-known fact that the authors who see the greatest success in Indie publishing are those who have a following. Those who are releasing their back lists in digital. I caution the author who belives they will become an overnight success through Indie publishing to step back, read the industry, and really consider the expectations you might have.

Even authors who have some degree of exposure through small houses often struggle. If they are struggling, and they have some marketing abilities granted to them, it's even more difficult for those who don't.

So, my thoughts are very much along the lines of use the digital world to your advantage. There's absolutely nothing wrong with indie publishing or using a small press. But do so with an open mind and open eyes. Celebrate your releases. Promote your rear off.

Still keep working on a novel that can meet the demand of traditional markets. Because, you'll develop a symbiotic relationship between both markets. Readers who pick you up off a bookshelf and fall in love will look for other titles. Readers who find you on Kindle, will look for others. If you have the ability to produce at even a moderate tempo, you can compose one or two shorter stories for the digital world with one or two longer stories for traditional publishing. Digital comes out faster. Those quick releases will help keep your name alive, your product flowing, and keep folks reading you while they are waiting on your next "larger" release.

I've tried to encourage all my critique partners to consider the *business* of writing. I'm encouraging you to do the same. Step back from the goals and dreams and celebrations and look at how you can make the current business model work for you. And that model is (or should be as you draw it out) heavily influenced by the digital world.

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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Well, those close to me have heard me talk about my pigeons in my barn for a while now. Two years ago I had one. That spring the little birdy took a mate and I had two. By the end of last year I had three. This spring I had four. A normal person might start getting concerned at this time, but they are rather calming birds. I love their little songs and coos, and I've sworn that I'm somehow going to make friends with the pigeons in the barn. Visions of "Feed the Birds" have passed through my head, and I've taken the requisite amount of teasing on the same theme.

I've always wanted a pigeon or a dove. The earliest I remember this desire was around 12-13 when I went to the neighborhood pool and we had six pigeons there that summer and two were quite friendly. Then in my early 20s, I fell in love with a dove at the pet store I worked in. It sold before I could buy it. My parents' house has always had at least one pair of doves living near it. And now I have my own.

Amidst this pigeon-friend-making endeavor a few good friends suggested I watch the nest and they volunteered to snatch a youngling for me. I politely declined. Nest-robbing isn't my thing, and if I'm meant to have a pigeon of my own it will happen as things always do -- they land in my path, literally. Wounded, sick, homeless -- yeah critters know where to find the sucker.

Forever, it seems, I've walked to the barns twice a day, talked to the pigeons, watched them fly, and wistfully thought to myself "Maybe someday."

Someday happened today.

Little fledging pigeon walked right in front of me when I went to turn on the spicket.

Now. I know where the nest is. There's no way in this world I can reach it. I have feral cats that prowl the barns, possums and coons. All of which snack on flightless birds. Then there's my dogs. My dogs that will snack on any of the above, plus flightless birds.

Needless to say, we have a new addition to the family. And our little birdie who is yet nameless, is really cozing up to me. She (I assume its a she) nests in my lap, has a healthy appetite, isn't trying to run away and when I do let her down on the floor she's exploring.

Far better than being snacks for resident wildlife. When she gets the rest of her feathers in, we'll take her into the vet and get her some Ivermectin for parasites and look into getting her banded. I'm already having visions of a spring-fall outdoors cage that has some significant flight room for her. (Never been too terribly fond of clipping wings).

But in the meantime, I think we need to start with something other than, "Birdie". I'm entertaining names if anyone is interested.

~Claire -- who's Feeding the Birds
www.claireashgrove.com

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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I've been writing to deadlines pretty much since I began writing. Mainly because it was a 'fun' way to satisfy my former project manager brain with little boxes to check off. The more boxes I had checked, the more it looked like I had tangible evidence of accomplishing something.

Somewhere along the way though, that anal retentive part of my brain couldn't just look at deadlines as fun and markers to accomplishment. Writing to deadlines became mandatory for my own sense of accomplishment. I picked a date, said I'd have XYZ done, and busted tail to get that done.

Then, as I began to have published works available and started looking toward the next release, deadlines became mandatory. The more titles I sold, the more mandatory that practice became.

For instance, let me give you a peek at my life since late March:

I had one Contemporary novella to finish, two paranormal novellas to compose from ground zero including plotting the series, line edits on Immortal Hope, edits on both Misunderstanding Mason and A Broken Christmas, various tasks related to book blurbs and cover input, and as Tori St. Claire, I had to finish revisions on Stripped and in 6 days must have the proposal for the second Berkley Heat book turned in.

That's not counting obligations I have to other jobs, or my family, or my farm.

Without strict adhearance to deadlines, none of this would have been finished on time. My agent would have been furious, my editors would have been beating on my doors, and that doesn't even touch the level of self-disgust I would have felt at failing to follow-through.

The last two weeks I've really felt that crunch for the first time, and it's been in a good way. I like the feeling of truly having a job. Frankly, it's great fun to finish, mark off the Gantt list item, and move on to the next. But in between all this I had the following issues to mitigate:

a. Eldest child broke his arm
b. Taxes had to be finished to fullfill another obligation
c. Weather changes backed up all my daily farm chores
d. Dog got hit by a car
e. Incredible idea blindsided me and refused to let go, requiring three days of sifting through it until I could pen it all down for later use

Folks, if I didn't have deadlines penned down, and I didn't adapt my approach to writing early on so that those self-imposed deadlines were critical, I'd have never survived the last two and a half months.

Now, after everything has dwindled to a dull whirr, I find myself *ahead* of my deadline schedule. Not by much, but ahead all the same. All that's left is to finish up that proposal -- which is a discussion I'll have on Thursday, on Tori's blog.

So -- if you're starting out, start setting deadlines early on. Approach everything like you're writing with an editor who's knocking on your door and waiting for the project. Teach yourself (and those around you) how to make deadlines come together. (And if you've got a family, get them accustomed to frozen dinners at deadline time early! Not to mention delayed housecleaning and an extra addition of chores.)

Above all, develop the work ethic. That's the best advice I can give you.

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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Hi all! I'm super-duper excited to announce this, as it's been a coveted project for a while now. A few months ago, The Wild Rose Press put out a call for short works within their Black Rose line, revolving around the Pagan Sabots.

After obtaining the necessary permissions, I submitted, Cursed to Kill, the first in my Inherited Damnation series where eight siblings were born to a Celt High Priestess mother and an incubus father.

I received word that the short story has been accepted!

More to come on this project as we go through the editing stages. But look for it to kick off this fall!

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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This is not my dog. The photo came from The Dog Pages

But this is a reasonable facsimile of my dog. Please note she is large.

She weighs in at over 100lbs, stands roughly 26" tall at the shoulder, and she's a gentle, drooling giant. I am 5'2" and I weigh less than my dog.

So tonight I observed something as my son and I took our Newfy on a walk. While admittedly it is a rather humorous sight to see my son flying along behind the dog, for us, manners on a leash are imperative. Not only because it's truly no fun to go skiing along behind when 100lbs+ decides the rabbit looks yummy, but because people sharing the sidewalk aren't too keen on having 100+lbs of drooling hair loping toward them, even if their intent is just to lick them to death.

We put time into teaching our dog the general sense of 'heel'. It's not an expert version and we didn't spend money taking her to obedience training. We did it ourselves, it wasn't hard, and it wasn't an option.

What I noticed tonight is that dog walking etiquette is directly proportionate to dog size. People with big dogs put that bit of effort in and evidently retain the thought of "It's not cool to have my dog run over you, or yours". People with medium sized dogs put medium amounts of effort into enforcing leash behavior. People with teacup size dogs...

Trust me, you teacup dog owners, it's still not cool to have your dog advancing on me or mine. Especially if your teacup dog has no respect for the size of mine's mouth and yours does something to tick mine off.

I don't want to be responsible for stitching your dog back together. So I have done my part in making sure that my dog behaves when she's in public. Teacup dog owners seem to be very content with letting their dog lead them, forging ahead down the sidewalk, and greeting all who happen along their way.

It's really not cool when my dog hasn't looked sideways at yours, until yours is now is crossing that imaginary centerline on the sidewalk, and now I have to take my dog's collar in hand and treat her like a horse because you have yet to rein in your pup. It's NOT FUNNY when I have to push my dog forward on two legs because you have yet to pull back on your leash an inch.

I applaud the medium sized dog owner who compromised. She allowed her dogs to lead and walk her, but when approaching us, and her dogs perked up and pulled on the leashes, she crossed to the other side. That enabled us to toodle along at a nice "Heel", with my dog merely turning her head.

Just because you can pick your dog up and carry it, and when it bolts on ahead it doesn't change your forward momentum, does not mean it's okay to do so. Your pup should be walked by YOU-- not the other way around. It's really not cute that Suzie Schnauzer is choking herself at the end of the leash trying to get friendly with mine, and it does not warrant laughter that I suddenly have to use all my body mass to keep my dog moving forward when yours lacks manners.

So, on behalf of the giant breed dog owners everywhere, who's beasts are really quite friendly, but we've been made aware that they intimidate people and other dogs, and we've taught ours to be respectful... Please folks... give us the same courtesy. We are doing our part by teaching our dogs how to behave on leashes and not mow you down, your pup down, or take us on a cement ski trip. Please do the same.

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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What is Wrong With Blogger?

0 Comments Posted by Claire Ashgrove at 1:54 AM

Okay so... for this entire week, on two different machines, I've been trying to figure out what in the world has happened to blogger. I can log in, but I can't post comments. It won't recognize me as being logged in, and when I select GoogleAccount to post comments, it sticks me in a forever loop requesting I log in.





It used to be when I logged in also, and I was viewing my blogs, that I would have the little pencil near my widges to edit them, and at the top, I'd have different options. Now I have "LOG IN" on every page. I click it and it sends me to my dashboard, clearly recognizing I'm logged in. But not on my actual blog page or viewing individual blogs, or on anyone elses either.





Now, like I said, I've tried this on two different machines, on several different blogs. So... what gives, Blogger? How do I fix you?

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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"Victorians used the term 'limbs' as a euphenism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture."
~
(History Channel International)

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