Sunday, February 26, 2012


I’ve always kept the various aspects of my life compartmentalized. My PTA Mom role stays separate from my Intense Writer role, which stays separate from my Fanatic Exerciser role. That’s comfortable to me. No need to sweat all over my manuscripts or try to discuss the current trend toward self-publishing with a weary mom of four who is unaware she has baby puke on her shoulder.
So when, this week, the VP of Communications for the PTA grabbed my wrist right before the start of a monthly PTA meeting and said, “Oh my Gosh! I read your short story!” I felt a definite, gut-churning crashing of roles.
Especially since the story she had come across, “Him,” was about a teenage sex addict. Edgy, even by today’s teen writing standards.
This wide-eyed PTA mom stood there staring at me, waiting for me to say something – anything -- but all I could think about was that her “keep our kids safe and healthy”-focused mind had soaked up my sordid story in its entirety. And the first fifty words were enough to make my mother blush.

I’m in a stranger’s bed
            a college guy from the cigar shop at the mall. He smells like
tobacco, tastes like mints. He pulls my shirt over my head, weaves his fingers
through mine to pull me down. And I get the same thought.
Every time. The same. I shouldn’t be here.

You get the picture.
And so did she.
So I managed to squeak out, “So, um, how did you find that story?”
“Well,” she said all chipper, “your email signature with your blog sites was at the bottom of your last email, so I just got onto your blogs and looked around.”
Crap! I had made a habit of taking off my Intense Writer electronic signature to any email going to anyone associated with PTA Mom. Apparently, I had been rushed and left it on.
Then this woman of two adorable young children said, “And I couldn’t stop reading! I loved it! I wanted another 250 pages of it. So you better get on that.”
I was stunned. Baffled. I mumbled a “Thanks” and then did what anybody whose compartmentalized world had suddenly shifted would do -- I went to the nearest Italian restaurant with a girlfriend to discuss the situation over chocolate martinis.
A half a martini in, it struck me – I should be promoting myself more. I’m a good writer. I’ve won some awards. My stuff is racy, but with reason. Hell, why haven’t I been using that email signature to death?
After all it’s FREE MARKETING. It gets your name out there and connects people to all your online sites all in one shot. And those people share what they read, which sends other people to your sites, which ultimately will sell more of your writing. It’s a beautiful thing.
After my World’s Collide experience with the PTA, I decided to make sure that if I was going to throw my email signature out to the whole world and nothing but the whole world, I’d better be certain it had everything it was supposed to have. So I consulted for those key elements a writer’s email signature needs. They said, in a nutshell:

  • Your book’s title and a link where people can buy it.
  • Your website and blog links.
  • If your website or blog doesn’t offer up your email (though they should), include it in the signature for quick-clicking contact.
  • Stick to five lines or less.
  • Add a touch of color (but don’t go wild!) and break up the lines to make it more visually appealing and help it stand out.
  • Consider creating more than one signature and rotate them to highlight different projects, awards, or sites.

Here are the email signatures of a couple YA Fusion bloggers. They contain the elements needed to effectively market these writers. And note Tracy’s cool color choice! Way to go, ladies!

Tracy Bilen
What She Left Behind (formerly Riding Backwards)Simon Pulse/Simon and Schuster - May 1, 2012

Katie McGarry
Pushing the Limits ~ Harlequin Teen ~ Summer 2012
YA Fusion Group Blog:

And so, I’ve revamped mine to include some awards I’ve won, just for that added “oomph”!

Heather Smith Meloche
YA Fusion Group Blog:
2012 Winner of the VCFA Katherine Paterson Prize for YA/Children’s Literature
2012 Winner of the Writer’s Digest National Competition – Children’s/YA Category

So lesson learned: you need to create a signature that reflects you. That gets your name in front of people. That highlights your successes and those imperative links to your website and blog. That gives that fantastic, final flourish. And once you’ve created it, use it. Own it. Embrace it as a key marketing tool that can help get the word out about how wonderful a writer you are. Then target all those soccer moms, room moms and dads, and PTA parents because you never know. They just might be craving some well-written YA!

Has your email signature ever helped to sell a book or given you extra hits on your website? Let us know by posting below!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Happy Book Birthday to Jennifer Armentrout's Shadows

Here at YA Fusion we love a good reason to celebrate and this week gives us a reason to party down. On Tuesday, February 21st, Jennifer Armentrout's Shadows debuts!

I first learned about Jennifer from our shared agent, Kevan Lyon. Kevan spoke very highly of Jennifer and I knew immediately I wanted to read Jennifer's books. This is what Kevan has to say about Jennifer: Jennifer always gives readers the type of story we all love – one that keeps us up far into the night reading – pulse pounding suspense and that sense that you can’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what is going to happen!

Now that is the type of story we all want to read. So, now let's chat with Jennifer.

Hi Jennifer!

Can you tell us a little bit about Shadows?

Shadows occurs before Obsidian, and even though it's a novella, it's almost a full length book that centers around Dawson (Daemon's twin) and Bethany, the girl that Katy sees on the missing person's posters in Obsidian. You get to see the world through three different POVS: Dawson, Daemon, and Bethany, and readers will also get to see Daemon before Obsidian, which is really fun to share.

Who is your favorite character in Shadows?

I'd have to say Dawson. He is so different from Daemon.

Do you have a favorite sentence from Shadows? Can you share it with us?

“You probably should have thought about that before you Lite Brighted her ass.”

How would your favorite character in Shadows answer the following questions?

That would be Dawson, so...

1. Beatles or Rolling Stones? Rolling Stones
2. Novel or Graphic Novel? Graphic Novel
3. Ice cream or Brownies? Ice cream
4. Camping or Hotel? Camping all the way.

Thank you so much for sharing with us Jennifer! Congratulations on your release!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Recipe For Swoon

From the dictionary

Swoon : To enter a state of hysterical rapture or ecstasy.

About sums it up, right? It's that warm, squishy feeling you get when you come across something that makes you swoon. There are a million things that could do it. A beautiful picture. A rare bird. A pretty face.



But today I’m talking about swoonage in relation to fictional characters. Every once in awhile we come across a character that makes us go totally cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. A character—male or female (see the serious girl-crush I have on Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson)—that we can’t stop thinking about. We want to quote them, hang out with them, hell, even be them.

Different things do it for different people.

There's the rough exterior that hides a soft, squishy center. You know the kind of character I mean. The abrasive, sometimes seemingly mean guy (or girl) that has a heart of mush. They might act like they doen't care, but every now and then, they slip up and we get to see the goodness they've try so hard to hide. Aww moments ensue, and everyone falls in love.

What about the kick-ass attitude and never-say-die mentality? Determination is a biggie for me. I’m a sucker for characters that take things into their own hands instead of waiting around for someone else to swoop in and save the day. Sometimes they're a little rash, charging into the fray without a plan or backup, but be lets honest... That only makes us love them even more.

How about the romantic type? The characters willing risk life and limb for the ones they love? I have a special kind of swoon reserved for them. Hell, even bad guys make us swoon sometimes. Give me a villain with a troubled and complicated past that has ultimately forced them to be the bad guy and I’m a happy puppy.

Now it's your turn to share. What's the recipe for your swoon?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I Need a Hero

Yes, I’m in Bonnie Tyler mode (without the big hair). The last 10 weeks have been very stressful. I was lucky enough to sell my house twelve days before Thanksgiving, and had to be out within seven days. That’s good news, right?

I’m holding out for a hero till the end of the night.

Except I hadn’t been house hunting. I mean, who expects to sell around the holidays? So for 10 weeks, I’ve been living with my BFF and her family while I look for a house. My running total of houses seen is 38. (So if you’re thinking about looking at a house in the Louisville area, just ask. I’ve probably been in it at some point.) I’ve got a place to live and I’m already much closer to work (my goal in moving). So that’s good, right?

He’s gotta be strong.

Except when I packed and stuffed everything into storage, I thought I’d only be homeless for a month. Meaning all of my books, including research books, all my pens and papers and notes are sitting in a Space Center Storage locker. At least everything’s safe and dry. So that’s good, right?

And he’s gotta be fast.

Except I need to check some facts for accuracy. At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I stare at my computer, my fingers aching from hours of hovering in the ready position. I need my things around me. For ten weeks I’ve pretty much stared at the same old words with the same new ideas swirling around in my head but never making the leap from brain to fingers to screen. But given that I’m losing my phone an average of twice a day, and I’m losing thoughts in the middle of sentences, maybe this isn’t so bad, right?

And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.

Except all this aimless confusion is driving me crazy! That’s why I need a hero. Not the kind that saves the day, but someone to show me how to survive. How to thrive. How to conquer.
Creating these heroes is why I write. It’s why I read. It’s also why I bought a second copy of The Hunger Games (my other is in storage and I need it NOW.) It’s why I’ve watched Lord of the Rings. It’s why I’ve re-watched Sherrilyn Kenyon’s 2011 Awards Luncheon Speech on RWA enotes (Volume 11, Issue 14. If you haven’t seen/heard this, it’s incredibly inspiring!)
I need epic. I need larger than life. I need a fighting spirit that won’t quit.
Which is why I’ve become fascinated with a new hero. A different breed of hero. I found him on YouTube and he’s absolutely indomitable. Unstoppable. He’s everything I need to be.

Who's your hero, Baby?