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Thursday, July 31, 2008

All That Twitters Isn’t Gold, Follow Me To Find Out

We interrupt this blog to report that the coolest thing just happened… Dennis Cass, the creator of the awesome YouTube sensation “Book Promotion 2.0,” just emailed to thank me for posting his video on my blog. How nice is that? Thanks, Dennis! And I’m keeping an eye out for your debut on Rock Band!

Now, back to the blog…

If you were paying attention to Mr. Cass’s video, you probably caught some funky promotional words you may not have heard of before like, “Dig, Delicious, Twitter, etc.” And I’m happy to report that I have joined the technological masses and created a Twitter account.

What is Twitter, you ask? I’m not gonna act all superior and pretend that you should totally know this already. Because about a week ago, I’d never heard of it. But alas, here I am twittering. So, here goes. Twitter is basically a blog where you can only post two sentences at a time. The intent is to let people know what you’re doing, in that instant, in short bursts.

Now, on the surface it seems like a silly idea. After all, I already have a blog, a MySpace account and I’m a member of several writer-related message boards. But as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of friends and family seem curious about what I do all day. So, I’m looking at Twitter as a way to answer those questions.

If you really want to know what I accomplish, professionally, on a daily basis come read all about it at: http://twitter.com/dianarwallach.

You also might see a few familiar faces in my “followers” section. You know who you are :)

And if you really can’t get enough of me—or if you just find it frustrating that I post these blogs randomly with no set schedule making it hard for you to keep up with—you can now SUBSCRIBE to my blog on my website. We’ve added the “RSS Feed” feature on the right-hand side of the page (the little orange icon). For the technologically challenged, if you click on icon, you can then choose to “subscribe” to my blog and get updated every time I post something new. Enjoy!

Also for anyone hoping to get a sneak peak inside “Amor and Summer Secrets,” I took my techie interests over to another popular website, Wordle.net. I cut and pasted my entire manuscript into their submission field and in return I got this awesome image of the “most popular words” used in my novel. The bigger the word, the more I used it. Make of it what you will. But “Lilly” and “Vince” seem rather popular, so do “Puerto” and “Rico.” Go figure.



POP-CULTURE RANT: Breaking Dawn

The final installment of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga comes out this weekend. I’m a 30-year-old woman obsessed with this teen series. I preordered my copy from Amazon a month ago. But you know what’s annoying? Despite having four weeks notice, Amazon will not be getting my copy to my doorstep the day that it’s released. Instead I have to wait until the shipping department gets back to work on Monday to process my order. This means I probably won’t get my book until Wednesday. Come on, Amazon. You can send me emails detailing everything I ever purchased and recommending “things I might like.” But you can’t get me my book the day that it’s released? Really?

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Think I’m Gonna Write a Hit Song and Get it on Guitar Hero

If you’re in publishing, at some point in the past two months you’ve probably seen the video “Book Promotion 2.0.” It’s hysterical, like rolling-on-the-floor-laughing hysterical. And the thing is I can pretty much bet that most people not in publishing don’t understand a single humorous thing about it. I guess this because I have fielded every one of the promotional suggestions in this clip. And the people offering that advice were not trying to be funny.

So, to any readers who haven’t seen it, might I suggest you watch the video now. Go ahead, I’ll wait:



Now I know a joke isn’t funny if you have to explain it but, trust me, if I (or any other writer) had a dollar for every time we were greeted with, “Hey, maybe you can get your book on Oprah!” we wouldn’t need book advances.

And how about when he asks, “What am I doing? Yes. That is the question.” I almost spit my coffee on my computer screen. I have had friends and family go so far as to ask, “What are you doing to fill your time?” As if because I (finally) got a book deal, I can now sit back and eat bonbons and shop QVC while the money rolls in.

People are shocked when I tell them I still have to edit the book—actually three books. And despite the fact that I’m publishing a trilogy and I wrote three books in one year, I had someone as recently as two weeks ago suggest that I have tons of free time on my hands because I “don’t have a full work day.” At the time that comment was made, I was simultaneously editing two books while writing an entirely new one. But, hey, my laptop does all the work. I just sit here daydreaming.

My husband says I need to do a better job explaining to people what I do, because I know you all mean well. Truly, I do. But I’m just not used to having to talk about work in that much detail. Let alone repeat those details to everyone I know.

But since Dennis Cass opened the door, I might as well enjoy his platform. So here are a few more anecdotes in case Cass ever makes “Book Promotion 3.0.” Might I suggest:

Despite the growing popularity of “cell phone books” in Japan, I really don’t think I’ll be text messaging my novel to anyone anytime soon.

I also think that selling the movie rights would be a great way to promote my novel, but unfortunately Steven Spielberg continues not to take my calls.

And no, I don’t think I’ll be able to get James Earl Jones to read the audio book—if the rights ever sell. And it won’t be my voice on the audio book either. Believe me, no one wants to hear that.

Yes, I did hear about Stephanie Meyer’s promotional concert series for “Breaking Dawn,” but unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to sell out Madison Square Garden quite yet. But I will try to get some midnight release parties planned at bookstores when my first novel comes out. That type of thing is absolutely common place these days.

And thanks for recommending the publicist you used to promote your new Indian Restaurant, but I’m not sure if she’s the right person to get my books in the hands of teenagers. However, I’ll be sure to give her a call.

And yeah, it would be awesome to have fan sites with message boards and fan fiction, but I need to have readers first. I can’t really make those sites myself. That’d be kinda weird.


So thank you Dennis Cass for giving us authors a good laugh. Though I do have to disagree with you on one thing. If I’m gonna write a hit song, I’d rather have it on Rock Band. Guitar Hero is so five minutes ago.

POP-CULTURE RANT: So You Think You Can Dance

Seriously, America! You voted out Will. Seriously? Mark the quirky guy remains safe, but Will and Twitch were in the bottom two. Did you all fall asleep while dialing? Now, I know I have no room to judge. I don’t vote. I just watch. But like the judges, I trusted America to get it right. I’m so disappointed in all of you. I guess I’ll just have to wait to see Will when he joins Alvin Ailey. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time at this point. All hail Twitch!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Breakfast at the Waldorf Anyone? Meeting My Editor

I was back in my old stomping grounds on Monday. I gotta say, it’s amazing to see things in New York unveiled that had been under scaffolding the entire time I lived there—like the new subway entrance near Penn Station and the new Borders near Madison Square Garden. I worked at One Penn Plaza for nearly three years and when I walked out of the train station two days ago, I was almost confused because the area looked so renovated. Of course, when I worked there it was immediately following 9/11, so most of my memories of those sidewalks were of standing aimlessly waiting for our “Fire Safety Warden” to clear the building of the “suspicious alarm” that was triggered. Ah, the memories…

Anyway, I headed up to NYC to meet with my editor for breakfast and then with my former college roommate who’s on maternity leave. It was a full day. And I got a lot of free food, including a $22 two-egg omelet at Oscar’s Restaurant at the Waldorf. And you know what? It tasted like eggs.

Personally, I think it’s always good to a get a little face time with people who are crucial to your career. I met with my agent when I first signed with her (coincidentally, I had already planned a vacation to L.A. that perfectly corresponded with her offer for representation). But now I get to picture her whenever we talk, and I really feel like I know her better. If it weren’t for that meeting, she’d be some strange version of “Charlie” on Charlie’s Angels—a mysterious voice on the phone who gives me advice on missions (or books).

So, likewise, it was great to meet with my editor again. We had already had lunch together when I had first signed the contract, and at the time, I got to talk about edits and meet with the art director who’d be designing my covers.

This time, my editor and I discussed book promotions. This is the hard part of the process, because authors don’t have a lot of control over what happens here. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m doing my part. I’ve mailed all of my ARCs to reviewers, I’ve gone around to local bookstores to introduce myself and give away bookplates, and I’ve even sent out my own press releases to schools and reporters.

But I can’t control things like print runs, or publicists, or Walmart. And this type of stuff can drive you crazy; so consequently, I’ve decided to take a cue from mass cards everywhere and learn to “accept the things I cannot change.” It’s more fun to focus on the writing, and my book launch party, and my MySpace page. Besides I’ve got a really cool WIP that my agent is reading right now. That’s why I got into this business. I’ll let my husband handle the sales stuff. It’s what he does. ;)

Thankfully after my fancy lunch, I got to spend the day with my former college roommate and her new baby. I’d post his picture here (he’s adorable!), but I doubt the Internet is a safe place for baby pictures. Don’t worry, Margit, I’ll try not to forward those cell phone pics to too many people! Hehe.

But, the little man gave me a nice way to end the day. Plus, I got him the cutest new outfit—a black onesie with a sketch of a wagon that says “That’s How I Roll.” And of course, being an author, I also got him a board book. If you know anyone who has kids in the city, they’ll love this, “Urban Babies Wear Black." I don’t know how many copies I’ve given as gifts, and I have no affiliation with this author. Truly. It’s just a really cute book.

POP-CULTURE RANT: Reruns

You know the summer line up sucks when you find yourself scanning the “Free Movie” section of On Demand. Have you looked at some of the movies there? I actually watched a few minutes of “Village of the Damned,” because I’d never heard of it yet it starred Christopher Reeves, so I thought it had to be good. Wrong. Very, very wrong. I miss Lost already. How long until the new season starts?

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oh, to Finally Hold That Beautiful Book in My Hands

So it’s real now. I really wrote a book. And it’s really going to be published. I know this shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point, but still nothing prepares you for receiving a random FedEx in the middle of the afternoon that, upon opening, you see is filled with copies of your first book!!

We’re not talking galleys here; these are not bound versions of a rough draft laced with typos and a plain pink cover. No, this is the actual book. The final copy. All the revisions are there. The cover is on. My bio and photo are on the back. My dedication is present, and my teaser covers are displayed.

But for some reason, with all that, it was the Acknowledgments page that first caught my eye. I read through the entire page again almost as if for the first time (it’s been awhile since I wrote it). And I actually teared up. Just seeing the names of all the people who helped me get to this point—from my agent to my parents to my teachers to my husband—I felt (to borrow a page from Mike Myers in Coffee Talk) ferclempt.

It takes a lot of hard work to get to this point, people. I’m not just talking about writing and editing. I’m talking about the querying, the submissions, the rejections, the heartbreak, the whole package of misery that comes with trying to sell a book. But now it’s paying off. I can literally touch it. My manuscript is a real book, and it doesn’t just exist on my computer anymore!

So of course, with a lump in my throat, I immediately took a photo of my box of beautiful books with my camera phone and sent the picture message to my husband. It was 7pm, and he was still in an office meeting (he works too much). So then I sent the photo to my agent, who cheerful replied with congratulatory enthusiasm. And then, I patiently read another author’s book while I waited for my husband to get home and celebrate with me, which he eventually did.

We went out to a celebratory dinner, and when I got back I had him take a picture of me. So here it is for prosperity—a photo of me on the day I held my first book:



Aren’t they gorgeous? Dontcha just wanna run out and buy one? And the good news is – you can! Click here to preorder! Shameless plug, sorry. But if you go to Amazon, you can read the first chapter of the book online. Check it out and get a sneak peek.

POP-CULTURE RANT: General Hospital

First I have to start off with, “Where, oh, where is Sam McCall?” That poor girl has been left hanging on the back burner for far too long. I was thrilled to see her today, even though it was for a lame counterfeit drug storyline. But her sudden reappearance made me notice something else—it’s not only Sam who’s been back-burnered, it’s also Elizabeth. I’m wondering if the writer’s were as sick of the baby Jake storyline as the viewers, and they decided these two needed a break before their fan bases actually killed each other. If so, it’s understandable, but let’s not take this too far. There’s only so much Kate Howard I can stand.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's That Time--The First Review Is In! Drum Roll Please……

When you’re unpublished and you sit down to write your first novel, you don’t think much beyond, “Hey, I wonder if I can write a whole book.”

You’re not thinking about anyone else reading it. At least I wasn’t. It’s more of a nagging story in your head that comes to you some way or another (in my case, a dream) and presents a challenge: can you actually do it?

Then once you’ve finished, you start thinking that maybe this little story is pretty good. Maybe you could get some money for it. Maybe you could even get it published. So you start Googling, “How to get your book published.” You go through the steps: you land an agent, you go on submission, you stress, you panic, you curse every rejection letter, than….MIRACLE! Someone likes it. An editor makes an offer! You jump for joy, or in my case, dance around at a Mardi Gras parade on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans.

But still, even though you’ve got an agent, an editor and a publisher, you’re still not thinking of people actually “reading” your book. Instead you’ve got deadlines to worry about. You’ve got edits to complete. You’ve got proofs to look over, a website to build, a blog to write, sequels to finish, etc.

Then reality sets in. Your pub date gets closer (say two months away). You start seeing your book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and even MTV.

Now, it’s all REAL. And, of course, with that comes your first review. Shudder.

So, low and behold, without further ado….Ladies and gentleman…I present to you…my first review!

This fast-paced and tension-filled story pulls the reader into Mariana's world, as she experiences her first adventure off her own turf and finds love. Amor and Summer Secrets is an enjoyable read, and once you pick this book up, you won't be able to put it down. The first of three books, it will leave you wanting to read more from this talented new author.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

You can read the whole thing at: http://bergersbookreviews.blogspot.com/2008/07/amor-and-summer-secrets_07.html

I can’t tell you how nerve wracking it is to know that people will now be reading and judging my work. But it’s great that the first one’s out of the way and it’s GOOD, YAY!

And to add to the good news, I’ve decided to release the covers and titles of the two sequels in the series. So if you can’t get enough of Mariana Ruiz after “Amor and Summer Secrets,” keep an eye out for:

AMIGAS AND SCHOOL SCANDALS, November 2008



AND…

ADIOS TO ALL THE DRAMA, January 2009



POP-CULTURE RANT: Twilight Series

So, I’ve been rereading the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer in anticipation for the launch of the final installment, “Breaking Dawn.” I’ve already pre-ordered my copy and I can’t wait until August! Anyway, I love this series, truly I do, but….

SPOILER ALERT (do not read further if you haven’t read the series)…

I. Hate. Jacob. Black.

I’m sorry Stephenie, but I have to say it. This character makes no sense to me. The entire series is centered around this tortured true love affair between Bella and Edward. I love them. I want more of them. And as I re-read “New Moon,” I’m almost reminded of the sixth season of Buffy. You know, when she comes back from the dead all depressed and suddenly starts sleeping with Spike. Viewers everywhere were like, “WTF?” Aside from the musical (best episode ever BTW – I have the ripped soundtrack), it was a really dark season that veered off course—away from Buffy and Angel, her true love. I feel almost the same way about “New Moon.” It’s a great book, and exceptionally written, but man, it’s really depressing. And the end leaves me not liking Edward for leaving her like that. Sure, Eclipse ultimately redeemed him, but still—really depressing.

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