Saturday, September 29, 2007


It's official - I now have a new favorite show to watch on Friday nights. I've been waiting for the fall lineup to start, keeping an eye out for a few select shows but - I must admit - rather skeptical about whether I'd like them or not. Kelsey Grammar's new comedy, "Back To You", has so far proven itself (yes, it's a rehash of "Frasier", but I LOVED "Frasier", so I'm happy), "Journeyman" (about a man who travels through time) has so far disappointed, and I'm still waiting to see "Dexter" and "Pushing Daisies", so the jury is still out.

But last night I watched the premiere of "Moonlight", and I was almost giddy with relief at how good it was!! "Moonlight" stars Alex O'Laughlin as a modern day vampire/private detective named Mick St. John, and quite frankly, I expected this particular show to suck. :) (Ok, ok, who could resist such an obvious pun? Not me!) Anyway, there were a few little kinks to be worked out, but overall, it was really, really good, in main part because of casting. Mick is not your average alpha male vampire - he's sweet, sensitive, caring about us poor mortals instead of viewing us as walking blood banks. There's a backstory here that's only beginning to be explained, but I can tell it's going to be a good one. His love interest is obviously going to be the lovely television reporter, Beth Turner (played by Sophia Myles), who's gorgeous in a girl-next-door kind of way, but he has a history with the evil Coraline, who's gorgeous in a "I want to suck your blood succubus" kind of way.

I can't wait to see what happens next. So you vampire lovers out there, don't miss this show! I don't want it to be cancelled before I find out what happens!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Alaska: Wild and Free

When I was growing up, my very best friend Maria (hi, Maria!) and I used to spend pretty much every minute together. Maria had a horse, an old gray gelding named Silver. We rode Silver everywhere, two little girls riding double, roaming through pine woods and palmetto fields. We'd even take Silver swimming with us in the many lakes that dotted our neighborhood. This was the best part of my childhood, a semi-idyllic part that helped me escape from the not-so-idyllic parts.

But Maria lived a rather nomadic existence. Her parents were divorced, and she was always being shipped off to a different relative, a different city, a different state. I, never having lived anywhere but the place I was, found all this travel exotic and exciting, never realizing how hard it must've actually been for her. We never lost touch, remaining pen pals no matter where she was, writing each other letter after letter after letter. And it was when Maria moved to Anchorage, Alaska that my burning desire to go there was born. For a girl from a flat state full of heat, mosquitoes and alligators, the idea of a place where snow-capped mountains were the norm, where ancient rivers of ice formed glaciers and iceburgs, and where bear, moose and whales roamed free, fired my imagination like no other place on earth.

And I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed. Captain America and I finally took a long-awaited Alaskan cruise last month, and here are a few highlights:

This is the view from Glacier Bay. Isn't it gorgeous?

Here are some actual glaciers, and an iceberg:

And yes, it was cold!!

We went hiking and saw a gorgeous waterfall:

But I think my favorite day was the day we went rafting. We saw fresh bear prints in the woods as we hiked to the spot where we launched the raft, and once we were in the water, we watched bald eagles soaring over our heads as they searched for salmon in the river. It was glorious.

And then, my husband and I took another of the famous "one-handed" photos that we do every trip, and sealed our great time with a kiss.

(See how multi-talented he is? He can kiss and still get a great shot while holding the camera out with one hand!) :)

So where's your favorite spot? Where's the best place you've ever been on vacation?

Friday, September 21, 2007

In The Mood For "Dark" or "Light"?

I am such a dork. I've been running a contest over on my WEBSITE to celebrate the release of DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY, and I only just realized that I forgot to post it over here on my blog!

I'm holding a "Winner's Choice" drawing, where you have a choice of prizes depending on whether you want to indulge your "dark side" or your "light side".

For those who prefer the dark, I decided to get in the spirit and set the mood for some truly haunting Halloween decorating!
One lucky winner will receive this delightfully morbid "Blood-Red Roses and Skull" wreath, shipped directly to their home, just in time for Halloween! (drawing will be held October 1st, 2007). Blood-red velvety roses, midnight-black leaves, spooky skulls and spiders... what more could a ghoul want? :)

Or, if you prefer simply "delightful" to the delightfully morbid, you can choose this adorable "Book Fairy" with a wonderful quote by Louisa May Alcott, "She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain."

I can certainly relate! Can you? :)

At any rate, whether you choose to indulge your dark side or your light side, all you have to do is leave me a comment or send me an EMAIL (by clicking on the big orange link) and tell me which prize you'd prefer, Wreath or Book Fairy.

Drawing will be held on October 1st, 2007. (Oh, and by the way, entering automatically adds you to my mailing list, but don't worry...)

You'll receive only a few mailers a year, mostly book news and new release information, I promise (really!). Each mailing will include a link so you can unsubscribe at any time.

C'mon... which side of your personality will you indulge today?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Would A Title By Any Other Name Be As Sweet?

It's in the mail.

Heard that one before, haven't you? :)

Technically, it's in the hands of UPS, and IT would be completed revisions for Book #2 of the Nicki Styx series. You notice I didn't use a title when referring to it. And why, you ask? (ok, I'm pretending like you asked.)

Because my publisher has asked for a new title for Book #2. For two years (and more), this book has been titled WHERE THE GHOULS ARE, but now that it's time to put it in production, I've been asked to come up with something different. There are reasons, which have been explained to me, and which I can even agree with, but I'm having trouble coming up with something equally fabulous. I LOVED the old title. ADORED the old title. But the old title is history. *sigh*

So, because I have a wonderful editor and a wonderful publishing house, they've given me the courtesy of not just plucking something out the air and slapping it on the front cover (which, believe me, has happened to other authors I know). Instead, they've given me time to come up with something different, but time is running out. I gave them a list of alternatives, and they've chosen one I can live with, but I'm afraid I'm still whining that it's not good enough, and they're still gracious enough to listen.

There's a part of me that says, "Shut up and quit whining, Terri! You wouldn't be happy with anything but the original title and you can't have it! So there!" And a nah-nah-booby to me, too.

Have I lost my perspective? Somebody please tell me. Should I keep searching for the perfect title, or should I go with.... drumroll, please....


(Oh, and you should know that a big part of the plot involves the Devil (who's smokin' hot, btw) trying to seduce Nicki Styx over to the dark side. The cover will reflect that.)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's A Sell-Out!


I had a booksigning at Waldenbooks this afternoon. The staff at this bookstore has been fabulous; one of the managers, Carolyn, read an Advance Readers Copy of Dead Girls Are Easy and has been SO supportive! She's sold more copies by word of mouth than I could ever manage on my own, I think. I can't tell you how gratifying it is to have a bookseller tell you how much she loved your book, but I digress. :)

Anyway, I went there today to do a booksigning (scheduled from 2:00 to 4:00), and it was over by 3:15. Why? BECAUSE THERE WERE NO MORE BOOKS LEFT TO SIGN! (well, okay... there were two left, but Carolyn wanted something to put back on the shelf before her next order came in, but she assured me they'd be gone by tomorrow.)

I really want to thank everyone who made a special trip to the mall to get my book, everyone who stopped by because they saw me sitting there, and everyone who made a "spur of the moment" decision to try a new author. I even want to thank all the little kids who kept darting up and stealing my free candy! :)

And I'm giving a special shout-out "Thank you!" to L'Ellen, who called her mom all the way from N. Carolina and begged her to go to my booksigning and get an autographed copy because she'd already read Dead Girls and loved it so much. (Your Mom & Dad were cool, L'Ellen! You're a lucky girl to have such great parents!)

Anyway, just had to share. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Branding: Keeping It Simple Part 3

Today is the third and final portion of the mini-workshop on Branding I began last Sunday.

You've all done your homework, right? Read Part 1 to get an overview, did the creative thinking exercises in Part 2? If so, we're ready to get into the specific ELEMENTS of branding. This is a "mini" workshop, which means I can't elaborate quite as much unless you ask me to, because nobody wants to read a blog that goes on forever. :) If you have any questions, please leave me a comment and I'll respond.

Defining Your Theme:

(1) Who’s your target audience? YA, paranormal (be specific, i.e. vampires?), home & hearth, romantic suspense? If you did Part 2, you should know that it's VERY important that you don't just give a "knee-jerk" response to this question. Knowing your target audience should determine the “tone” of your brand, and help you target market effectively:

Here's some examples:
"Cartoon Network" appeals to kids with loud, bright colors, smart-mouth kids and goofy grownups
"Bones" appeals to the curious and intelligent TV watcher with a brainy but vulnerable heroine, sexy but control-freak hero with a soft side (he played Angel on Buffy, btw), great music, action-packed intro, etc.
"Firefly" appeals to the sci-fi crowd who likes to think outside the box with witty writing, a futuristic space-based society with an “old-timey” Western theme. Specialized, but very effective.

Spend a little time analyzing the commercials on TV – who are they targeting? Housewives, career women, men? It’s not hard to figure it out once you understand the basics of target marketing.

(2) Theme Elements:

(a) Your website. If you don’t have one, get one! WEBSITES ARE A MUST! If you’re serious about getting published, you need one now – whether you’re published or not. Not only will you be more prepared when you get “The Call”, you’re showing that you believe you’re going to get “The Call”, and showing to anyone who may be interested (agent, editors) that you understand how important marketing can be.

(Let me tell you a little story about how important websites can be: When I was searching for an agent, I received interest from my top three choices. All three went to my website before contacting me. I know, because they told me. And when I discussed representation with my "dream agent", the one who I ended up choosing to represent me, she actually went to my website WHILE we were talking, so she could read excerpts from my other manuscripts and discuss those with me as well. I have to ask myself, "What if I didn't have a website? Would their interest have stopped before they reached for the phone and dialed my number?" I'll never know, but I have to think that having that website in place helped my chances. )

Now let's talk some website specifics:

(b) Colors and shapes to consider by genre:
Urban fantasy – dark shades; blue and black, gritty city scenes, streets, buildings
Romantic comedy – light shades: pinks, blues, yellows, greens, fun shapes like circles, swirls
Romantic suspense – richer shades: dark reds, golds, eyes, partial faces, crime tape
Historicals – depending on the time period, but you can’t go wrong with jewel tones (ruby red, sapphire blue, golden topaz); rich fabrics like silk and velvet; lush gardens, Victorian jewelry (brooches, cameos, pearls)
Paranormals –the range is wider. If you’re going to write about vampires, red and black is the obvious choice - bats, coffins, crosses. Shapeshifters seem to call for blues and grays, foggy images, mist. Werewolves evoke blacks and browns, the moon, night landscapes.
Fantasy – again, a wider range. Elves and fairies would call for greens and lighter shades, mythical imagery. Science fiction usually calls for bolder colors –purples, reds, dark blues, stars, galaxies, spaceships.

(c) Fonts: a very important element, because it’s a “visual” representation of your actual writing (for use on business cards, signature lines, website headers). Here are some examples of how fonts send subliminal signals (I wish I could show the ACTUAL fonts, but blogger's font choices are limited):

Bernhard Fashion has an “upper crust” feel
Coronet is a lovely, flowing font
Tempus Sans reflects an older historical feel
Copperplate reflects and “old-timey” feel
Lansbury is great for romantic suspense

Pull up your font window in Word and experiment before choosing a font for your website and stationary. Above all, make sure it’s readable, and not just pretty. The body of your text in a website should be in a basic, readable font like Arial. Don't get carried away with a font so much that your website visitors can't read the body of your text without squinting.

(3) Taglines: Taglines are fun, but they’re not actually necessary. Many big name authors do NOT have taglines. But if you want one, go for it. If you’re stuck, look for quotes you like. Try not to be so general that your target market gets diluted, and be consistent with what you’re trying to deliver. It’s not enough to just use adjectives – be more creative.


Terri Garey – “A lighthearted look at the dark side.”
Tawny Weber – “Hot, sassy romance… it’s all about the attitude.”
Cheryl Wilson - “Epic fantasy. Powerful romance. Embrace the magic.”

(4) Signatures: Come up with a short signature to use in your email correspondence, and USE it. Add it on to the end of every email. Keep it short, and try to make it a representation of your philosophy in life, or a representation about your writing. One of my favorite signatures is: “Come to the dark side. We have cookies.” Even your “username” can reflect your brand. My username on various loops is either “Spooky” or “SpookyChick”.

However, don't make your signature so long that people won't read it. More than three lines and it becomes just a bunch of words, losing its effectiveness as a marketing tool.

(5) Your online presence: If you’re a loop, be conscious of what you say. If you’re a flamer, too controversial, too abrupt, whatever… believe me, people WILL remember you, but it won’t be in the way you want them to. The greatest website in the world, with all the bells and whistles, won’t help you if you’ve presented yourself badly in the cyber world.

And that's it! IMHO, "branding", for a writer, is about establishing a CONCEPT, and offering it VISUALLY.

Any questions?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Guest Blogging With The Romance Bandits Today

I'm just a blogging fool these days, aren't I? :)

Today I was invited to blog with some dear friends, the The Romance Bandits. Come on over and join me as I chat with the "Banditas"!

p.s. - Part 3 of my "Branding" mini-workshop will be posted later today or earlier tomorrow. You've been answering the questions in Part 2, haven't you?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Branding: Keeping It Simple Part 2

Okay, if you read Sunday's blog about branding, then you know that my theory on being able to do it successfully is to "Find out who you are, and do it on purpose". I gave an overview on the different elements of branding, and I'm going to get very specific about those elements in Part 3 of this mini-workshop. But today, I'd like to get your brain going in ways that will help you to figure out WHO YOU ARE, and what it is you're trying to express through your writing. Because if you don't know it, how are you going to effectively present it to your prospective readers?

I've put together a list of simple "free thinking" questions. Take your time, and do your best to give each one some thought before you write down your answers. Nobody's going to see it but you, so be honest. When you're done, you should have a better feel for what you want to express through your "brand".

#1: What do you write? (Imagine yourself at a cocktail party, and you’ve just been asked this question. What would you say?)

#2: Who is your target audience? (age range, personality type) Get specific. Who is your “ideal reader”?

#3: What do your want your readers to FEEL when they’re reading one of your books?

#4: Why do you write the kinds of books you write? (Think carefully, and try to be as specific about your reasons as possible.)

#5: Pick three words that describe your writing style.

#6: If they made a movie of your book, what songs do you think they should play in the soundtrack?

#7: How do you envision your book covers?

#8: A reader has just finished reading your book. What words would you like them to use to describe it?

I'd recommend writing down both the questions as well as the answers, and using this as a guidepost as we begin talking about the specific elements of branding: themes, colors, fonts, taglines, etc. Hope you're finding this helpful, and feel free to leave me a comment or two - I'll be happy to answer any questions!

Let Us Never Forget

Take a closer look at this picture. (click on it, and it will enlarge)

It's made of ice. I had to pass it along because (1) it's amazing, and (2) it struck me as the perfect example of what happens when tragedy strikes. Think back, won't you, to the moment when you heard that airplanes had struck the twin towers. Remember the moment when you turned on the TV and saw those horrifying images for the first time; fireballs, shattered glass, stunned New Yorkers stumbling away from the scene, covered in ash.

Frozen by shock and fear, weren't you? Disbelieving, stunned, horrified. Americans had been attacked on our own soil, using our own airplanes, and thousands of people had lost their lives while going about their daily business in the heart of New York City. The entire country, for a brief time, was united in outrage and filled with a sense of patriotism that had flags flying and hearts soaring.

And then what happened? We forgot. We let that sense of urgency and unity melt away under the more mundane cares of daily life, and we let ourselves become divided politically and personally, arguing with our neighbor over whose fault it was and which President should be held responsible.

I don't know when this ice sculpture was made. 2001? 2002? It's long since melted away, I'm sure, but the sentiment behind it shouldn't be. Take a moment today and remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, those who struggled so valiantly to save them, and those who, right now, are risking their lives to ensure it never happens again.

Don't you think that's something worth remembering?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Guest Blogging Today With The Avon Editors

Ever wonder which editor publishes which author, what they like, or what they don't like? Come join me today over on Avon Romance Blog, the official blog of Avon editors Carrie Feron, Lucia Macro, Erika Tsang, May Chen, Esi Sogah. Lyssa Keusch, and Tessa Woodward, as I blog about what makes a "typical" heroine so... well, typical. :)

P.S. - I'll post Lesson #2 of "Branding: Let's Keep It Simple, Shall We?" later on today.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Branding - Let's Keep It Simple, Shall We?

Yesterday, I was invited to speak at the monthly meeting of the Tampa Area Romance Authors, where I delivered a workshop on "Branding". You see, I have this theory that branding is not as complicated as it sounds, once you understand a few of the basics. The ladies of TARA were great, and I got some wonderful feedback on the workshop, so I thought I'd share it with anyone else who's been scratching their head about "branding", and why it's so important to published authors and aspiring authors alike.

I'm going to do it in three parts, because hey... I presented it in three parts, and you'll have to come back to my blog three times that way, right? :) No, seriously, better to break it up into three different sections than overwhelm you with one giant one.

So here we go:


I used to think that branding was so complicated! I mean, I went to the conferences and sat through the workshops. I’ve seen six week courses on this stuff! I heard phrases like “emotional velcro” and “brand equity” and “target demographics”. I thought I understood branding in a general sense: McDonald’s has their Golden Arches, Coca-Cola has their big red and white circles that say COKE, Dr. Pepper has their peppy people dancing and singing in the streets. But when it came time for me to do it for myself, it became really complicated.

I know what I write. I know what I like to read, but how does that translate? I did my research, I lurked on online loops, I tried to absorb it all and figure it out.

And then I had a revelation. I read this quote by Dolly Parton (of all people), and it goes like this: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

Dolly should know, right? When we think Dolly Parton we think big hair, big um… (heart! Yeah, big heart! LOL), country music and a cheerful, upbeat personality. Dolly is unashamedly Dolly, and she does it well.

And that’s what branding really is. At heart, branding is about being yourself, finding the part of yourself that you’re trying to express through your writing, and then expressing it WELL.

We strive so hard to write well, don’t we? We do all we can do to be the best we can be. Branding is really just an extension of that – because branding is really about evoking emotions, which is just like what we try to do in our writing.

Technically, branding is defined as: “Establishing a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”

Huh? I’m an intelligent person. I know what the words mean, but how do they translate? The definition seems so… well… unemotional.

So here’s my radical thinking approach to branding: Branding is simple. It’s not just developing the right tagline, the right font, color scheme, or logo (all of which are important, by the way, but not THE most important things). Branding, if you do it well, is more of a concept that springs to mind whenever your name is mentioned. And it order for it to be authentic, in order for it to be something that people actually believe, it has to be an extension of yourself.

Let’s talk about some examples (and I’m going to use people I’ve met, because it will better illustrate what I’m talking about later. These are people who if you meet them in person, are the personification of their brand, and just by looking at their websites you can tell who they are, whether they include a picture or not:

Meg Cabot (young, upbeat, funny)
Tawny Weber (sexy yet fun, playful yet hot)
Jennifer Crusie(humor, accessibility: upbeat covers, upbeat website, cherries – what’s more innocuous then cherries? Life’s a bowl of them, right?)
Susan Elizabeth Phillips (gracious, down-to-earth, human)
Julia Quinn (young, self-effacing, sweet but intelligent)

Branding is the sum total of your reader’s experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you can't. Branding is about who you are, and what you’re trying to express. I give kudos to McDonald’s and Coke and Dr. Pepper – but they’re selling a product, not a person.

You, my friends, are selling a product, AND a person.

“Find out who you are, and do it on purpose,” as Dolly says.

Now, let’s get down to business. I’m going to give an overview of the elements of branding, and then some actual exercises to get your brain flowing.


1) Establishing your target audience (historicals? YA? fantasy? inspirational? paranormal?). You need to know who you’re selling to establish your branding theme, which we’ll talk about in tomorrow's blog.

2) Figuring out your unique selling point. (what’s unique about you? Why are your stories different? Why are you different?) That was one of the hardest things for me to come up with, until I examined my life a little more closely. The most obvious thing that’s different about my writing is that I write about ghosts – not vampires, not werewolves, not shapeshifters – and that makes me different in the paranormal market. I also use humor in my writing, which makes me considered “light” paranormal instead of “dark”. But even more importantly, I looked into WHY I write about ghosts, and that’s where I struck gold: My family and I once lived in a house that was apparently haunted. My mother had heart failure on the operating table, had an out-of-body experience, and lived to tell about it. I grew up watching Creature Feature, and loved shows like the Addams Family and the Munsters. Basically, I spent my life preparing for a career to write the stories I do without even knowing it! But once I realized it, I was able to define my brand.

3) Once you establish your brand, you have to be consistent with it. It should cover all aspects of what you do: your website, your stationary, the fonts you choose, the colors you choose, the signature you use online, the way you look, the way you present yourself…. If you write hot and steamy and you dress like a Quaker, you’re not an accurate representation of your brand. If you write inspirationals, but you dress a bit racy, you’re not an accurate representation of your brand. I’m not advocating going around in costume, but be consistent. Branding is all about PERCEPTION, and if you want to be treated as a professional, you have to look like and behave as a professional.

4) Be flexible. If there’s something about your brand that isn’t working, change it. Don’t get caught up in saying, “No, I like flowers. I’m sticking with flowers. I like this curly little font, even though I’m writing romantic suspense.” One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to be too stubborn. Yes, you want your brand to be an accurate reflection of who you are, but you want to present yourself in a way that other people can relate to. It’s kind of like when you don’t like to do housework, and your house gets real messy… you might say “take it or leave it”, but if the 6o’clock news was going to come in your house and do a story on you, would you clean it up? I’ll bet you would! It's still your house, it's just cleaner!

So tomorrow, we'll move on to figuring out who you are. You’re not going to accurately brand yourself until you know what it is you want your readers to see in you.

Any of this making sense yet?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Come Chat With Me Tonight!

Otherwise, I'll just be talking to myself, and while I do that all the time, it's not pretty to do it in public. :)

When: Thursday, September 6
Where: The RWA Online Chat Room (It's open to the public, and you don't need to register. Just type in a "username" and a password, and you're in!)
What Time: 9pm to 10pm EST

Stop by and say hello! Otherwise, I might have to send the Goth Fairy after you, and she will not be amused!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Guest Blogging Today

I'm guest blogging today over at The Romance Vagabonds, where I'll be talking about how dreams can come true. Stop by and leave me a comment!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Browse Inside

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my publisher? Look at this cool "widget" they've made available to anyone who wants to "browse inside" my new book: