February 10, 2014

Musings

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Feb. 8-9 was a weekend of firsts for me.

I attended my first book signing and got my first mention in the Arizona Daily Sun.

The book signing was Saturday down in Glendale, at the Chocolate Affaire. From 2 to 10 p.m., I had a spot at a table with at least a dozen other romance authors, mostly from the Valley of the Sun RWA chapter.

The Chocolate Affaire is a big outdoor festival celebrating — you guessed it — chocolate. Signs like the one below, touting the benefits of one of  my favorite desserts, were posted all over the park.

Chocolate benefits

Fun, right?

With all the chocolate around — everything from pie in a jar to chocolate-dipped Twinkies to chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick — would you believe I didn’t eat any? I know, I know. There’s something wrong with me.

That’s not to say I didn’t eat any junk. I had an orange creamsicle float and a Reuben sandwich for lunch after I arrived and before I went on duty. At dinnertime, I ventured away from the table to find a bratwurst with onions and mustard. I seriously considered getting some cheesecake on a stick, but ended up too busy to leave my post.

The park was packed when I arrived, carrying my box of books around as I searched for the romance writers’ booth. (In retrospect, I should have left the box in the car, found the table and then gone back for my books. Live and learn, right?) And the park  stayed busy throughout the day. Paths were wall-to-wall people.

My display:

My display

That cover still gives me goosebumps. Beautiful!

Plenty of people stopped by. I had a fantastic time telling folks about my debut, Diva in the Dugout. Even managed to sell a handful of copies. I also gave away a lot of bookmarks and business cards. Hopefully some of those contacts will translate to online sales.

It might have been my first book signing, but by the end of the night, I had my pitch down:

“I write contemporary romantic comedy featuring baseball players. This (pointing to DIVA) is the shortstop’s story. It’s my first book and it came out in October. The catcher’s story (tapping the BEAUTY bookmark) comes out next month.”

If they wanted to know more about the story, I explained: “The Condors’ bad-boy shortstop finds out five years after the fact that he’s a father — and must win over not only his little girl but her mother.”

When pressed, I may have compared myself to better-known romantic comedy authors like Kristan Higgins, Jill Shalvis and Jennifer Crusie. “They’re some of my favorite writers. I’m not that well known — yet — but my books are definitely funny. If you enjoy their books, I think you’ll like mine.”

Me with Diva

*Blushing* Maybe I got a little carried away in the heat of excitement. In the cold light of morning, I can admit that.

Then again, there’s nothing wrong with being my own biggest fan, right? And I honestly believe my stories will appeal to readers who like that kind of story.

It was a fun day — long and exhausting, but fun. I’m glad I was lucky enough to get a spot at the table.

I was also lucky to meet Cap’n Jack, in the flesh. He was great. When I asked him if he liked to read, he answered, “Yes. Mostly maps.”

Me and Cap'n JackI think it’d be a blast to run around in character all day. But hot. I couldn’t even manage to wear my baseball cap for a few hours. My head started sweating and I ditched it.

Glad I checked the weather down in the Valley. Otherwise, I’d have shown up in a sweater and roasted. (It was cold in Flagstaff when I woke up Saturday morning.)

A few things I learned:

banner

I want a banner like these for the front of my area. See how they draw the eye? Once I get a cover for Sliding into Home, I’ll get right on that. I think they’ll make one at Kinko’s.

Some kind of easel to stand one of my books up on would be a good idea, too.

I also need to get some postcards or something to promote Blind Date Bride. Since I plan to release it this summer, it’s not too soon to start thinking about selling it.

Maybe I should market it and its related story, Trouble in Paradise, as the “Reality TV Bites” series …

Oooh … That’s actually not bad.

Aw, damn. Just googled it, and someone already wrote a book titled “Reality TV Bites.” So much for that idea.

Ahem. On to my other first: An article in the Arizona Daily Sun.

Abbie Gripman talked to me and Anne Marie Becker about our books and why we think romance sells. It’s a nice article that appeared in Sunday’s Arts & Living section. I didn’t come off sounding like a total idiot, which I appreciate.

It was the first time I’d been on that side of an interview. Usually I’m the one interviewing other people. But it was pretty painless. And the exposure is much appreciated.

I haven’t been doing the best job of getting my name out there. I’m working on that.

 

Last week, I shared the details of my writing process.

This week, if you hop on over to Susie Haught’s place, she’ll tell you about hers. It’s hard to believe we’ve only known each other for three years. She really is one of my biggest supporters, always ready with words of encouragement and willing to read for me.

I’ll be giving away some of Susie’s bookmarks at the Chocolate Affaire in Glendale, Ariz., next weekend. Did I mention I’m signing copies of DIVA IN THE DUGOUT Saturday? It’s my first book signing. If you live in the Valley, be sure to stop by and say “Hi.” I’ll be there from 2 to 10 p.m.

I ordered 15 print copies of DIVA, and would love to sell out so I have to order more for my next signing at Desert Dreams in April.

The book is gorgeous — trade paperback size, 198 pages.

2014-01-24 18.35.12When the box arrived on a Friday night, I took a dinner break from work just so I could run home and see it. (Give me a break — it was my first time seeing the print version. When I ordered copies for the RITA, I had them shipped directly to RWA HQ.)

It looks amazing!

When I go to the Chocolate Affaire, I’ll also be bringing a sign-up sheet for my newsletter, and some bookmarks for BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER. Its mid-March release date is getting closer. Only about six more weeks and BEAUTY will join DIVA on virtual shelves.

In fact, this happened last week:

2014-01-27 12.57.05I got the galley for BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER, and spent several days combing through it — twice.

I’m a little scared that I missed something. Susie had a chance to read the galley of DIVA for me. Between us, we found quite a few things to change. This time, I went it alone.

Fingers crossed that I had my editor’s hat pulled low over my ears, firmly affixed to my blonde head. (You know, I think I saw a few strands of gray in there the other day … I’m so not ready for that.)

As I worked, I started making a list of some of my favorite lines. Not sure where or how they’ll pop up, but rest assured you’ll be seeing them somewhere.

January 29, 2014

Guest Posts

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Good morning! It is a very good morning, even if you’re waking to snow and subzero temperatures. If you are, please stay warm and dry.

It’s not exactly warm here in northern Arizona, either. I’m in the mountains, not the Valley of the Sun, where 60 degrees is considered “jacket weather.” Still, the ground is (for now) snow-free, and daytime temps have been reaching the high 40s and mid-50s.

Temperatures like that are enough to make you start thinking about baseball, right? Heh. Who am I kidding? I’m always thinking about baseball these days. That’s what happens when you write stories about men who play the game.

In fact, spring training is right around the corner. The Cactus League comes to Arizona in mid-February, and the D-backs report to training camp even earlier than that.

Because baseball season is almost upon us, I’m at Fresh Fiction today, blogging about my Boys of Summer, the men of the Arizona Condors. I had fun getting them to answer a bunch lightning-round questions.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 12.21.17 PMThis is my first visit to Fresh Fiction, but I hope it won’t be my last!

Stop by to learn some surprising fun facts about Dave, Matt and Greg, the heroes of DIVA IN THE DUGOUT, BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER and SLIDING INTO HOME. (You can get there by clicking the link or the photo itself.)

January 27, 2014

about

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My name is Arlene Hittle, and I like to laugh. I hope my books make other people laugh, too.

The never-ending bundle of energy that is Jamie Raintree recruited me to take part in a blog hop about my writing process. I met Jamie in 2009, when I undertook the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time. We hit it off, and she’s been reading my stories and encouraging me ever since.

Online sprints with Jamie helped me finish my still-unpublished 2010 NaNo manuscript three days early and 3,000 words over the 50K limit. And in 2011, her cheering pushed me to pull a marathon eight-hour shift at Starbucks before work on Nov. 30 to squeak to a NaNo win. (That MS is also still unpublished.)

Let’s start hopping!

1) What am I working on?

Actually, this post catches me between projects. I just turned in edits on SLIDING INTO HOME, my April 2014 Turquoise Morning Press Release. I haven’t yet begun to write a fourth book in my Love & Baseball series, nor have I decided whether to tackle Mel’s brother’s story. (Mel was the heroine in DIVA IN THE DUGOUT.)

I’ve been trying, without much success, to write the last 10K or so to finish the first draft of TROUBLE IN PARADISE, which I want to release this winter, to follow up BLIND DATE BRIDE, which I’m planning to release myself in June.

Mainly, I’ve been gearing up to promote the two books TMP is releasing this spring: BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER in March and then SLIDING INTO HOME in April.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Excellent question. All funny contemporaries depend on the author’s imagination, sense of humor and voice. The situations I put my heroes and heroines in are different from the circumstances a character in, say, a Kristan Higgins or Tracy Brogan novel would get themselves into. Give all three of us the same waitress heroine and cop hero, and we’d all come up with very different stories.

So I’d say it’s my unique perspective that makes my stories different.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Another good question. In its purest sense, the answer is that I have stories to tell, and I want to share them with the world. Characters pop into my head and won’t leave me alone until I tell their stories.

Inspiration comes from the darnedest places. For BLIND DATE BRIDE, I was driving somewhere and a radio news report sparked my interest. I wrote a one-act play, which I submitted to my then-local theater company in Logansport, Indiana. That play later became the basis for the opening scene in my novel.

Matt, the hero of BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER, used his buddy Dave’s story as a justification for something he did that upset Meg. That reason became DIVA IN THE DUGOUT’s storyline. (I wrote BEAUTY first, and when it finaled in the Golden Heart in 2011, I decided I ought to have other stories to go with it. DIVA sold first, and because the action in it happened before Meg & Matt’s story anyway, that worked out fine.)

4) How does my writing process work?

I am a pantster all the way. I don’t outline and usually only have a vague idea of each character’s growth arc from Point A to Point B. I should probably do a bit more advance planning, actually. When I pre-planned my NaNo novel in 2010, I finished three days early with 3,000 extra words. A bit of extra work before I start might make the words flow that much faster.

Then again, maybe not. Since my day job at the Arizona Daily Sun involves copy editing, I do a lot of self-editing as I go along. It used to frustrate me to no end in NaNo word sprints when other folks were throwing down 1,000 words or more and I only had 400. Then again, my 400 tended to need a lot less editing than their 1K, so that’s a plus.

I do most of my writing at Starbucks. I got more done before they started offering free WiFi for everybody.

NaNo taught me I CAN buckle down and write a complete 50K story in 30 days—but I don’t like to keep up that breakneck pace every day. I’m more of a 1K-a-day girl—unless I’m suffering from writer’s block, as I am now. For some reason, Beth and Cody don’t want me to finish their story. Time to sit them down for a heart-to-heart chat so I can figure out where it went wrong and how I can get them back on track.

Jamie RaintreeJamie Raintree writes Romantic Women’s Fiction about women searching for truth in life and love. She has completed her first novel and is seeking publication. In the meantime, she posts original fiction online, as well as motivational messages for all the other dreamers out there. She lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and two young daughters. Her website: JamieRaintree.com

Susan HaughtSusan Haught calls the mountains of Arizona home and has lived in Payson most of her adult life. With the majestic Mogollon Rim in the background, Susie never tires of the small-town atmosphere. When she isn’t creating quaint towns with captivating characters or wrestling a busy day job, you’ll find her tackling an overgrown garden, engrossed in a movie or curled up with a good book—her dogs and a stash of Australian black licorice close at hand. Find her: SusanHaught.com.

DianaRoseJ.PGDiana Rose is a Russian native who lives in New York. Her stories transport readers to the fantasy filled worlds where she brings royalty and magical beings to life, with colorful romantic scenes and characters that her imagination creates. She fuels her creativity while reading romantic novels. When Diana is not writing, she enjoys spending her time with her family and friends. Find Diana at The Writer’s DreamWorld.