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Last week, I held a giveaway with 3 prizes. I had 11 people comment on my blog and 2 people comment over on LiveJournal, where it cross-posted. Because of the cross-posting, I used time stamps to determine order of entry. For clarity:

  1. Maripat
  2. Bonnie
  3. Doc_lemming (LJ)
  4. David Bridger
  5. Anghara (LJ)
  6. Nicki
  7. Catherine Stine
  8. Widdershins
  9. Laura Eno
  10. Kathleen Hammond
  11. Margaret
  12. Connie Cockrell
  13. Maija Haavisto

And the winners are:

Widdershins, you receive a $25 gift certificate to the book retailer of your choice (as long as I can buy it and send it on-line).

David, you’ve won your choice of anything I have up for sale at Smashwords. (If there’s nothing now, you can wait and claim your prize later.)

Nicki, you win half a dozen plot bunnies.

Congrats to all the winners, and thank you all for helping me celebrate my blog’s birthday. Also, thank you so very much for all of the kind words about my dad and any thoughts about your own that you shared.

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

Memories

Sep. 13th, 2012 02:24 pm
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Our days, our memories, are what we make of them. Seven years ago today, my dad died. I still read things or see things that I want to share with him, then remember that I can’t. He died before my first short story was published, so he never got to see my name in print. When I first told him as an adult that I was working on a novel — for NaNoWriMo — he was impressed because he said he didn’t have the patience to write something that long. (I don’t have patience either; I have perseverance.) I think he would be proud of what I’ve gotten done so far, and what I’m working on, all the books and stories I have yet to write and release into the wild.

I don’t remember if I was thinking of him two years ago when I launched this blog, but exactly two years to the day, I wrote my first post on this blog, on series characterization. One person commented on that post. I get a few more commenters now.

And to reward those of you who find my thoughts worth reading and commenting on, I’m having a giveaway. The rules are simple: comment on this post to enter. The order you comment in determines your entry number — 1, 2, 3, whatever. (I won’t count my responses, or multiple comments by the same person. One entry per person.) I’ll use random.org to choose a winner. Drawing will be held next Thursday, September 20, at noon Eastern Time.

The winner gets a $25 gift certificate for Amazon or Barnes & Noble, their choice. (Or, you know, Kobo, or whatever, as long as I can purchase it on-line.)

origami bunnies

Origami plot bunnies!

Second-place winner gets a free copy of something I’ve written, their choice. (A coupon code for download at Smashwords in the winner’s preferred format will be provided.)

And third-place winner gets half a dozen colorful origami plot bunnies. Aren’t they adorable? They come in two different styles and a range of colors, and each one has a random plot element hidden inside.

Thank you all for visiting my blog, for making yourselves at home in my little corner of the Web. Good luck!

(By the way, this morning, I discovered that September 13 also marks the anniversary of John Scalzi’s blog, Whatever. Of course, he’s been doing this much longer and has a much, much larger audience. Maybe when I’ve been blogging for fourteen years, I’ll have half the audience he does now. One can hope!)

Originally published at Erin M. Hartshorn. You can comment here or there.

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Lucienne Diver ([livejournal.com profile] varkat) had Sarah A. Hoyt guest-blogging on her LJ not too long ago. The covers of her books look fantastic, and the post Hoyt did had its own bit of magic. I won one of the T-shirts being given away, and today it arrived in the mail -- showing the cover of the book Heart of Light, as well as a cobra-headed walking stick, a map, a watch, and other bits of geekery, along with the slogan "Travel on magical contraptions Across A Victorian world that never was." (Yes, the copyeditor in me wants to fix that capitalization.)

It's a gorgeous shirt, and as soon as NaNoWriMo is over, I'm checking out the books.
eimarra: (Default)
Last year, I submitted a story to Good Housekeeping's short story contest. I wasn't really expecting to win -- Jodi Picoult was the judge, and I was reasonably certain I don't have the mainstream/literary chops to impress her. The theme was to write about women's life.

I wasn't really pleased with how the magazine handled logistics. Their site said that winners would be notified by December 15, but no change was made to that page saying that it had taken place -- not through the end of January. When I checked again yesterday, that's when I saw that they had changed it to say the winners had been notified, but gave no clue of who they are.

Okay, maybe they want the first broadcast of the news to be in the May issue when the story appears. If so -- well, their official rules also gave an address and said if you wanted a list of the winners, to send an SASE to that address by January 15. I mailed one in December. If, in fact, they're not sending those lists out until after the May issue is available, then a) they should have said so in the rules, and b) January 15 is a ridiculously early deadline to request it. ETA: I guess I just don't have enough patience. The list of winners arrived in my mailbox Saturday morning.

Long story short: I didn't win, I have no plan to submit this story elsewhere, and so I present it here for your enjoyment (or otherwise, I suppose). Note the pen name I subbed under.

Silhouettes
by
Anna Bennett Strong

Kelly closed the door to the twins' room. Robbie and Gwen would be asleep in minutes, she knew. Knowing that peace was coming almost made the bath water all over the floor, the temper tantrum over the wrong pajamas, and the three bedtime stories (with frequent interruptions) worthwhile. Sighing, she leaned against the jamb for a moment before pushing herself away and down the hall to clean up the bathroom. At least tonight, the water hadn't run down the stairs to damage the oak floor of the entryway.

The mop was downstairs in the kitchen, so she used the kids' towels to sop up the mess from the tiles. What was another load of laundry, after all?

Two hours later with the towels in the dryer and the dishwasher humming in the kitchen, she climbed into bed at last. Deciding she didn't have enough energy even to read a chapter of the book on her night table, she pulled up the stained daffodil-yellow comforter ("Let's get something cheerful to wake up to," her husband had said.) and turned out the light. Exhaling slowly, Kelly forced her neck muscles to relax. She was almost asleep when the phone rang.

It was her husband, Matt, of course. "I would've called sooner, but I ran into Billingsly in the bar before dinner, and we got to talking . . . "

"That happens a lot with him." Kelly remembered the one Christmas party where she'd met Billingsly, an affable man who could chatter about virtually anything, whether he'd heard about it before or not. He'd actually had some interesting insights into international banking that had impressed Kelly's regional manager when she brought them up. "How's he doing?"

"Oh, you know -- same old, same old. He asked me if I could stop by his office tomorrow for a few hours. He wants my opinion on a new system they're trying out."

"I thought the conference went through Thursday."

"It does--" The rest of whatever he said was lost in Gwen's wail from the next room.

"Duty calls," she said. "I guess I'll see you when you get home."

Gwen stood on her toddler bed, pointing at the blanket on the floor. Robbie had rolled over and sat up as Kelly came in.

"Want water."

"In a minute," she told him, leaning over to pick up Gwen's blanket.

"T'ank you." Her daughter clutched it to her chest with one arm and lifted the other toward Kelly, waiting to be picked up.

"Not now, honey. We all need to sleep."

Robbie's sniffles started first, followed quickly by Gwen's louder cries. Kelly didn't wait for them to swell to full volume. Instead, she scooped one up in each arm (though this had gotten harder in the last year, even with lunchtime visits to the gym) and settled into the corner rocking chair, cuddling the twins close and murmuring nonsense to soothe them back to sleep.

Matt always told her she indulged them too much, that they'd sleep through the night better if she just ignored them. Easy enough for him to say -- even when he wasn't out of town on a business trip, he could sleep through anything short of a semi crashing into the house.

Staring at the moon-etched silhouettes of leaves peeking around the window's curtain, Kelly rocked and counted the hours until Matt would be home.

#

Gulping at her macchiato, Kelly eyed the folders in her inbox. Each one represented documentation for a loan application. Half of them were probably still missing paperwork that she'd have to badger the customers about -- politely, of course.

The top folder was for the McCartneys, first time homebuyers who had saved enough to put fifty percent down on a rather modest house, an amazing accomplishment in the current economic climate. Pay stubs for both of them, bank balance statements, credit reports -- all was in order. Smiling, Kelly stamped "Approved" on their application and moved the paperwork into her "to file" box. She normally grouped her phone calls in the early afternoon; she'd call them then. If only all of the applications could be that easy.

Kelly was filing credit report requests for new applicants when her phone rang. "Second Commercial Bank of the Sierras, this is Kelly. How may I help you today?"

"I was thinking about you the other day and just had to call." The caller didn't bother identifying herself, but Kelly had no trouble placing the voice of Sue, one of her closest friends since high school friends.

She suppressed a guilty twinge at not having called Sue recently, too busy between extra time at work and time with the twins. "Good thoughts, I hope?"

"The best. I wanted to thank you, actually. In high school, I was always jealous of you in art class. You were always so completely absorbed in painting, or in decorating the pottery you were going to fire in the kiln. I wanted something that made me that happy."

Smiling, Kelly touched the bowl on her desk, a souvenir of that art class. It had been a long time since she'd worked in clay. "And you want to thank me for that?"

"You were just so happy doing it, and you never stopped to ask permission to do what you wanted," Sue said. "That probably sounds silly, but I often feel like I have to ask. The other day, one of the radio stations had a call-in show, asking everyone to call and tell her what made them happy in life. That's when I thought of you, and I realized I needed something to do that makes me happy without worrying about what someone else was going to think."

"Glad I could help." Kelly glanced at her computer screen. The site was still waiting for her authorization code, so she entered it.

"Don't you want to know what it is?" Sue's voice was plaintive.

"Of course I want to know. What did I inspire you to do?"

"I put in for a transfer to the overseas division of my company, and I got it. I'm going to France next month! I'll be there for at least a year." The exuberance was back.

"You always wanted to go to France, I remember."

"Though I imagined myself wearing a beret and meeting some incredible Frenchman who would sweep me off my feet."

"I'd skip the headgear, but the man's still a possibility. Just not a co-worker, okay?" Kelly smiled at her friend's enthusiasm. "Send me postcards."

The credit report request had generated an error. Someone had put down the wrong Social Security Number. Kelly didn't know whether it was an honest mistake or if they'd deliberately used the wrong information -- she'd had illegal immigrants from Russia and Ireland before, trying to establish themselves in the country -- but she made a note of the bad numbers. Next up, calling all the customers about missing paperwork, as well as asking for verification of the SSNs.

She'd have to work through lunch, entering the new information. So much for working out to boost her energy levels. Stifling a yawn, she gulped at her drink again. There had been a time when this work could've been done faster, more enthusiastically, but that was BT (before twins), when she'd actually managed a full night's sleep every night. Or most nights, anyway, given the sort of activities that had led to the twins' arrival.

Maybe someone else in the office would bring her back a double caf drink when they went to lunch.

#

Sue's words came back to Kelly as she was working on getting the kids to bed. Robbie loved to fingerpaint with the soap in the bathtub, and Gwen wanted to look at every single detail of the pictures in her books. In their own fashion, each of them loved art as much as Kelly had growing up. She missed that freshness and joy; it was too bad she had neither time nor energy for such pursuits now.

The twins cuddled one on either side of her in the rocking chair as she read them Goodnight Moon, then lay down without a fuss. Elated, Kelly closed the door and headed straight for her room to catch up on her own sleep. Matt had already called to say he'd be leaving the conference early; the phone wouldn't interrupt her tonight. The only thing on her agenda was resting so she could be fresh and energized the next day.

At one, at two-thirty, at four-fifteen, and at five, the twins woke up.

She thought of Sue again. Right now, Kelly wanted to give herself permission to be selfish, to ignore her family, to do what she wanted again. Her family was supposed to be what brought her happiness now, but it was awfully hard to be happy when she wasn't getting any sleep.

Rocking the children to sleep again, Kelly stared out the window and watched the sky gradually lighten with dawn. The leaf silhouettes falling onto the walls would have made a wonderful pattern on pottery when she had been in high school. She'd narrowed her art focus to painting in college, but her work had been too representative for many of her teachers. Her easel and brushes had been packed away to the attic her junior year, and she hadn't even thought of them since, except when she and Matt had moved into this house. It was time to get them out again.

She could set the easel up here, in the twins' room, and paint the impressions that the night brought. She pictured herself with Gwen on one hip and Robbie curled up, sucking his thumb in the rocking chair. Quiet, peace, acceptance.

Perhaps she still wouldn't be getting any more sleep, but Kelly thought she could live with that. She would have some time that was just hers, without running around taking care of everyone and everything else. Yes, that would work well. She'd start with the shadows of the leaves.

- The End -
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[livejournal.com profile] suzannemcleod is celebrating the mass-market paperback release of The Scent of Blood and the upcoming release of her second book, The Cold Kiss of Death, with weekly giveaways. This week, win a signed proof copy of The Cold Kiss of Death.
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I do love to enter contests to win free books. Last week, the authors in Harlequin's Midnight Cravings (a print anthology of Nocturne Bites) ran a contest where each posted on a given day, and commenting on each post was all one needed to do to enter. (Okay, yes, I should have posted about it here to point it out to others. My bad.)

Today, I remembered and went to check blogs and found this and this. Yes, I got a copy of Midnight Cravings AND a Wren and Sergei novel! w00t!

To make up for not pointing this out to everyone sooner, I would like to note that Lori Devoti, one of the authors in the anthology is having a month of werewolves, with lots of guest bloggers and prizes -- and those drawings end April 25th, so there is plenty of time to enter still. Also, if you look at the post on Suricattus's blog, you'll see that you can participate in her weekly contest.

Goodness knows, I could use the joy that winning books brings today -- I spent the morning at the dentist getting fillings, and the afternoon has been spent on taxes. Blech!
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The short list for the Nocturne Bites pitch contest was chosen early -- 7 names rather than the 5 stated (of 60 total) -- and my pseudonym isn't on the list. I'll still finish my edits and send it off for standard submission, but I am disappointed. I thought I had a decent shot.

Ah, well.
eimarra: (Default)
Haven't really had much to say recently. Or rather, haven't said it. My only excuse is being busy with the paying work. Well, and with actual writing that I hope to get published.

Specifically, I've been working on putting a blurb together for the Nocturne Bites pitch contest. I wrote a story targeted toward this line last year, and one of my goals for this year is to edit it and get it submitted, so this pitch contest is the perfect goad to get me moving. I've been alternating work on polishing the two-paragraph blurb with editing the actual manuscript. I want it ready to go if I'm picked -- and if I'm not, I send it in as slush.

I've also been looking at the Knight Agency's Book in a Nutshell Competition. Back in February, I printed out my mystery, The Christmas Tree Farm Murders and started putting together a revision outline of it, preparatory to doing a modified version of Holly Lisle's one-pass revision (modified because I do the read-through and outline before making any of the decisions she talks about concerning whether the scenes are doing what they're supposed to; I have to have the big picture before me to make those calls). Now my plan is to send off my Nocturne Bites pitch and then focus on this, getting it into shape by the end of April. Again, if I'm not chosen, it's not the end of the world -- I'll send it off for crit and work on my query and synopsis, then go on to the traditional submission to agents.

Yesterday, I added even more to my plate -- I submitted an application for a paying blog gig. They may well look at my blogs and say, "She doesn't seem to stay focused and consistent, so we don't want to use her." I hope they don't. If I'm offered a position, that's paying work -- and as I've said before, I give paying work priority. If that means sitting down and writing a blog post first thing every weekday, then I'll do that. I'll also try to get back to blogging more regularly here -- but I'll focus first on fiction.

I have one of those minds always fascinated by the new and shiny. I want to take on new projects because they're different. For a bit, I was considering trying to do a podcast. I was going to try to account in advance for my tendency to get busy by having a half dozen episodes recorded before ever going live, and I only wanted to publish once every couple of weeks, maybe even only once a month. I had a title and a premise ("The Many Voices of Erin" all about trying to write and get published in multiple genres). However, I have decided both that I don't have time for this sort of project and that it will not advance my career materially enough to be worth the effort. It won't pay, and it probably won't convince anyone -- agent or editors or readers -- to buy more of my work. So I've discarded that idea.

I am moving forward, trying to make choices to get my writing out there, to get paid for it, to get read. Updates to follow.
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Everybody likes gifts and free stuff, right? So in the spirit of the holidays, I bring you my list of places I look for book giveaways and other neat stuff.

First: sites that give reviews, interviews, and other news, as well as book giveaways.
Fantasy Book Critic

Patrick's Fantasy Hot List

The Book Swede

SciFiChick

Second: author blogs that also do giveaways sometimes.
Paperback Writer (You should be reading this anyway!)

Alison Kent: Blah Blog (Currently running 12 days of Christmas giveaway--hurry! She chooses winners on December 29th.)

Third: Just book giveaways.
Great American Book Giveaway Enter every week!

Access Romance contests (The rest of the site has other stuff, too--blogs, newsletters, reviews. But this page is *just* contests.)

Fourth: Just giveaways.
Giveaway of the Day (Generally Windows software)

If I've missed any of your favorites, be sure to let me know in the comments.
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Click below to enter The Chosen Sin Celebration contest!



Because gift cards to bookstores are always good!

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