Thursday, February 28, 2008

Vote for Trish Milburn

So, unlike the big fix in the US Presidential elections (see post below) the voting for this year's American Title contest is legit and still on. The winner gets a publishing contract with Dorchester Publishing. To vote, send an e-mail to this address: with the title of your favorite entry in the subject line. (Hint: Out of Sight)

Voting to choose the winner continues until March 2, 2008. Today, I'm glad to host Trish Milburn, one of the final two contenders. Welcome, Trish!

Congratulations on being in the final two for the American Title contest this year, Trish! For my blog pals who aren't familiar with this contest, how does it work?

Initially, Dorchester and Romantic Times make the call for entries. Each year, they have a special sub-genre on which they focus. This year it was paranormal romance. From there, they go through and determine which entries they want to see the full manuscripts for. Then they weed it down to 10 finalists, who compete in up to five rounds of online judging by visitors to the Romantic Times Web site. Each round focuses on some aspect of the books -- descriptions of heroes and heroines, romantic scenes, etc. Each round has a two-week voting period after which the two contestants with the fewest votes are eliminated. We're down to the final two contestants now -- the talented Helen Scott Taylor and myself.

What's your entry, Out of Sight, about?

Out of Sight is about Jenna McKay, a street cop who can make herself invisible but doesn't very often because of the fear that if the government finds out they'll turn her into a lab rat to find out why she has her ability. As you might guess, the government does find out and delivers the news of their awareness via a very sexy agent from an agency that apparently has no name and a murky agenda. But instead of shipping her off to a lab for study, they send her to the White House to go "undercover" to find out which person inside the most powerful address in America is sending threats to the president. Identifying the culprit isn't as easy as it should be,
and neither is figuring out if Agent Daniel Webster is friend or foe.

That sounds fantastic. What I wouldn't give to be invisible some days... Congratulations on your Young Adult and Series Romance book contracts this year. I was so excited when I heard about these deals. When are those books hitting the shelves?

A Firefighter in the Family is going to be out this September from Harlequin American. I don't have a date on the second American yet. My first YA book, Heartbreak River (Razorbill), will be out in the spring of 2009.

Can't wait. I know your "overnight success" came after many years of writing and lots of heartbreakingly close calls. What are your thoughts on so many things hitting for you this year? Karma? Fate? (Or did you finally sell your soul to the devil... I've had the contract on my desk for a while, but am too squeamish to prick my finger for the ink.)

LOL! No contracts that smell faintly of sulphur and with burnt edges here. I think I just refused to give up and became more and more determined to prove to myself that I could do this. My agent and I kept lots of my projects out there, and I took what opportunities presented themselves to me. The American sale came about because of a publisher-sponsored contest, and the American Title is, of course, also co-sponsored by a publisher.

Proof that contests can work! You've been on the Board of RWA for the past few years. Would you recommend this to other writers? What have you learned from the experience?

It really is a very enlightening experience. I have a whole new appreciation for how much work it takes to successfully run an organization the size of RWA, and I'm in awe of how much the staff accomplishes with so few people. I had served on my chapter board for several years before this, and I felt I contributed positively there and thought I'd try it at the national level. After all, someone has to step up to the plate and volunteer for the task of board service.
That said, it has to be an individual decision. It's a fair amount of work, particularly if really big issues pop up or during the weeks leading up to board meetings and the National Conference. But I'm glad I've had the experience.

Thanks for being here, Trish, and good luck!

Thanks, Maureen, for hosting me!


This is too funny not to post....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Who got passed over for Oscar nominations

Okay, so the Oscars are tomorrow night and I can't figure out why I feel slightly bored about the whole thing. They are all really great films this year. Really great. Maybe that's it? Maybe there aren't any nominations that make me angry, that I'd leap off my chair to yell at the TV if that actor or film won?

There are a few underdogs that could make me leap up if they won, I guess, but they are such incredible long shots, I don't hold out any hope... Like Sarah Polley for directing Away from Her. That would be so cool. But she won't win. I guess I'd like the Coens to win that, because I think their acceptance speech might be fun. I'd also like to see Ellen Page win. She's amazingly talented. (Okay, I may be biased. I've just listed two Canadian nominees.)

So, who isn't on the list that I think should be?

The glaring omission in the Best Picture, Best Director (Sean Penn), Best Actor (Emile Hirsch), Best Score (Eddie Vedder) and Best Song (Eddie Vedder) categories are all Into the Wild. Maybe Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener), too. I really don't understand why this movie got so ignored. I felt sure it was going to make Emile Hirsch into a huge star.

David Cronenberg for directing Eastern Promises. I don't know if this was my favourite Cronenberg film ever... but it was his most accessible while still being daring (people will be taking about that Turkish bath scene forever) and I'd love to have seen him nominated.

Gorden Pinsent for best actor in Away from Her. Yes, Julie Christie was great, but he was the heart and the core of that lovely film and his performance was fabulous. But he's not well known outside of Canada (maybe not even well known inside Canada since the 1970's) so not surprising he didn't get a nomination. But that would have been exciting.

Finally, I'd have liked to have seen Josh Brolin get a nomination for No Country for Old Men. Javier Bardem is getting all the attention for that film for playing a psychopath. Yes, he made a great psychopath, but Brolin's was the more interesting, more subtle, more real character. The one we could identify with, who takes a chance and lets greed take over his common sense. And then kindness, too. He might not have been caught if he hadn't gone back with that water...
The night that film premiered in Toronto at the TIFF, the paparazzi outside were all, "Diane, over her. Diane," when Brolin arrived on the red carpet (with his wife, Diane Lane). I kind of thought it was funny that night. To me, Josh Brolin was the son of a guy famous for being attractive and married to a much more famous and powerful woman (Barbra Streisand), who also married an attractive and famous woman (Diane Lane). To me, the Brolin men were boy toys to Barbra and Diane. But this year Brolin-the-younger proved he's not just a trophy husband in both this film and in American Gangster. I'm very interested to see what he'll do as George dubya in the upcoming Bush.

Who do you think got passed over?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Is Harold Perrineau Lost?

Has anyone else noticed that Harold Perrineau's name has been in the opening credits of every episode of Lost this season to date, but we haven't actually seen him in an episode since, what? The second season? Was the Michael character even in Season 3? I don't think so.

I was so excited to see his name show up in the credits and keep expecting Michael to jump from behind some tree, or to be hidden in the strange, moving cabin, or locked in a cell in the barracks. So far nothing... Is he on the ship???We've had a mention of Walt... But no Michael. And I can't even remember exactly what happened to Michael. Did the others let him leave the island on a boat or something? Can't recall.


Anyone else still loving Lost?

I'm actually typing while watching tonight's episode... I guess this post'll be kinda dumb if he finally appeared tonight. Oh, well.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Editorial meetings online?

Okay, so this was the bit of the Penguin press release that caught my attention, and I kind of buried it...

"In addition, during the last week in February, the public will have the unique opportunity to get an inside peek into the editorial selection process, when video clips of actual editorial staff discussions at Penguin Group (USA) will be posted online."

The remote chance that some editors might be debating the pros and cons of publishing my book online for the world to see simultaneously thrills and terrifies me. Mostly the latter.

Do you think they'll really show actual editorial meeting???

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Penguin press release about contest

Okay, I just think this is interesting... Then again, I'm in the contest. Why wouldn't I find it interesting....

NEW YORK, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Penguin Group (USA) announced today that it will now have the privilege of selecting the Top 10 finalists from among the Top 100 semifinalists for the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA), the international writing competition in search of the next popular novel. These 100 semifinalists were ranked by Amazon Top Reviewers and Publishers Weekly and selected by Penguin Group in the previous stage of the competition which was originally launched in October of 2007. A list of all 100 submissions progressing in the semifinal round is posted at The top 100 contestants represent all walks of life and parts of the world, from Ypsilanti, Michigan to Tokyo, Japan and numerous stops in-between. The public is embracing the contest and forming long- lasting relationships as they continue to flood the message boards with critiques, encouragement, and advice. One contestant even recommended forming an "ABNA Alumni" group to sustain the conversation about reading and writing, a suggestion that was met with enthusiasm. Other entrants are selecting dream casts for film versions of their novels, with Queen Latifah, Adrien Brody and Reese Witherspoon topping several wish lists.

And the competition is heating up as the field of contestants grows smaller. Contestants are getting creative to generate support for their novels on social networking sites. One contestant has set up a global group on Facebook entitled "Find the next great novel." Many are leveraging their MySpace connections to garner votes. And bloggers are mobilizing their readers in anticipation of the upcoming voting period. These aspiring writers are not averse to using the power of video to advance their causes.

Some have posted videos of themselves on YouTube (see to rally voters.

Grass-roots support is thriving offline as well, with the home team effect in evidence. The Indianapolis Star ran a piece about a local music teacher's semifinalist status; the Manila (Phillippines) Times proudly plugged the entry of a Filipino-American emigrant living in California; and a teacher blogged about his pride over a former student's ascension to the ranks of semifinalist, just to name a few.

"That writers and readers everywhere have responded so enthusiastically to this competition is an inspiration to us all," said Susan Petersen Kennedy, President, Penguin Group (USA). "Our editors are carefully going over these manuscripts and making the hard choices that will ultimately determine the Top Ten. This exciting process helps further our commitment to finding, publishing and bringing new literary voices to people around the world.

"As the competition continues, the public is encouraged to participate by reading, rating and commenting on the posted excerpts. In addition, during the last week in February, the public will have the unique opportunity to get an inside peek into the editorial selection process, when video clips of actual editorial staff discussions at Penguin Group (USA) will be posted online. On March 3, the resulting top 10 contestants will be announced, and from March 3 until March 31, the public can log on to officially vote for their favorite writer to win the grand prize.


The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition, sponsored by Amazon, Penguin Group (USA), Hewlett-Packard, and CreateSpace, launched on October 1, 2007 and received nearly 5,000 qualified submissions, with representation from approximately 2,000 cities around the world and in every state in the U.S. All submissions were first read by Top Reviewers-individuals recognized for the high quality and frequency of their comments on the site- who generated over 10,000 ratings in selecting 836 submissions to advance to the next round. In January and February, publishing trade magazine Publishers Weekly reviewed each of these submissions. Based on these reviews and the feedback from Amazon Top reviewers, editors from Penguin Group (USA) narrowed the field to the 100 semi-finalists now in the running for the top prize. Penguin Group (USA)'s editorial staff will read and evaluate each of the semi- finalist entries, and ultimately select 10 finalists, to be announced on March 3. Amazon customers will then vote to choose the grand prize winner to be announced April 7, 2008.

The grand prize winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin,
which includes a $25,000 advance; and an entertainment technology package from Hewlett-Packard that will include an HP 50-inch Plasma TV, Digital Entertainment Center, HP Pavilion Notebook, HP LaserJet All-in-One and HP PhotoSmart Digital camera.

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is sponsored by Penguin Group (USA), Hewlett-Packard and CreateSpace.

For complete terms and conditions on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel
Award as well as to read, rate and review the top 100 semi-finalists,
please visit

About Penguin Group (USA)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc. is the U.S. member of the internationally renowned Penguin Group. Penguin Group (USA) is one of the leading U.S. adult and children's trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks, including Viking, G. P. Putnam's Sons, The Penguin Press,
Riverhead Books, Dutton, Penguin Books, Berkley Books, Gotham Books, Portfolio, New American Library, Plume, Tarcher, Philomel, Grosset & Dunlap, Puffin, and Frederick Warne, among others. The Penguin Group ( is part of Pearson plc, the international media company.

SOURCE Penguin Group (USA)

Top 100!


I made it into the top 100 of this Amazon Breakout Novel contest. I'm a little surprised but very happy. My goal when entering this contest was hoping to get on the desk of a Penguin editor. And I've reached that goal. So, yay!

If you haven't checked out the excerpt and would like to, here's the link.


Here's the main link for the contest if you want to check out the competition. There are great prizes for writing lots of high quality reviews.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Is facebook turning me into a spammer?

Okay, so I admit I probably haven't spent enough time on Facebook to totally get what's going on... And maybe I'm at least twenty years beyond their target demographic, but certain things are making me crazy.

Like those "click here and see what happens" messages. Am I missing something or are those just nuisance posts, or worse, something where our facebook ID's are getting captured for nefarious purposes. They make you think someone you know has sent you something, but then...

Nothing happens right??? Except, if you're not careful, you end up sending the same damn thing to all your Facebook friends? A spammer.

Please someone tell me if I'm missing something here.

I love certain elements of Facebook. I've reconnected with some people from high school and it's been pretty cool that way. But I could do without all the crap.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Unimportant Meme

Okay, so I don't mean it's an unimportant meme... It's a meme about unimportant facts... Hmmm.. Kind of challenging. I mean, are trivial things unimportant or merely trivial... I can't think of a thing to put on this list. Not that I think anything about me is particularly "important"... I'm just flummoxed. (I love that word -- hey, can that count as one of my things?)

Thanks to Louisa Edwards for tagging me. :-)

So, here are the rules and my attempt at the meme.

1. Link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share six unimportant things about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your blog entry.
5. Let the tagged people know by leaving a comment on their blogs.


1. My dad has 3 brothers. Each of the four brothers had 3 daughters. 12 McGowan girls. I know. Scary.

2. I'm a pack rat. I live in a 3 storey house. By myself. I need this much space for all my stuff. Important stuff. Really.

3. I just sold a car I owned for seventeen years. (Suffering from separation anxiety but I sold it to my brother, so I can still visit.)

4. I'm watching Britain's Next Top Model while coming up with this fascinating list.

5. I was born in Saskatchewan.

6. I'm missing a tear duct on my left eye, and the one I have is 80% blocked, so my eye tears all the time. (Messes up my makeup and makes people think I'm crying.)


Now, who to tag, who to tag...

Christine D'Abo, Diana Peterfreund, Misty Simon, Kwana, Barrie Summy, and Bonnie Staring.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What not to write

Over on Drunk Writer Talk, we've often discussed how much we've all learned as writers from watching certain well written (in our opinions) TV shows.

In contrast, I've had a few "what not to write" moments watching movies...

I blogged about the horrible Penelope when I saw it at the 2006 Film festival. They really blew that movie in so many ways. So sad since it starred the adorable James McAvoy.

And tonight I saw 27 Dresses. Didn't hate it... but was far from loving it and haven't completely analyzed why yet.

But one thing... And my take-away lesson from the movies tonight. Do not write a scene where one character expresses their undying love -- basically the most pivotal and emotional (should be) scene of your story -- with one character on stage in front of a crowd and using a microphone. Not unless you've got a really compelling and unquestionable reason for said character to do it this way rather than in private.

Crazy storytelling choice. Crazy. I think the movie had already lost me--zero chemistry between the leads--but that stuck several nails in the coffin. Okay, maybe I did hate it.

Anyone else see this movie? Was I just in a bad mood?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...