Launch Party-Woo Hoo!

Okay, so I haven’t updated my blog in a while. I’ve been so busy organizing my Facebook launch party that I’ve been neglecting it. Shame on me! I have some news though fresh from my publisher tonight. Due to last minute details, The Glass Ceiling will only be available for “pre order” this coming Friday. Boo hoo! The good news? We’re still partying on Friday like it’s 1999, well, 2015. Wow, has it been that long?

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I have five guest authors lined up:

Michelle Argyle (writes YA and NA)

Iris St. Clair (writes YA, suspense and erotica)

Haley Whitehall (writes YA and historical romance)

Lee Ann Ward (writes YA)

Kristina Rienzi (writes paranormal)

I’ve beta read for two of these authors (so you know their books will be good ;)) and have read the books from the others. We’ve got a good group of authors here and they’ll be available for 30 minutes each to talk more about their books and answer questions. And I’m sure they’ll be offering prizes. 🙂

We also have two book giveaways:

Shannon Eckrich (Kissing the Devil)

Crit Kincaid (A Wounded World)

I hope you can join us for the launch party. There will be cupcakes, cats, and prizes. What more do you need on a Friday night?

Click Here for The Glass Ceiling Launch Party

Julie LaVoie: Shameless Promoter

The book is done, but that’s not where an author’s job ends. The next step is perhaps as important as writing the book itself. Promoting it. It’s uncomfortable and shameless, but if you don’t do it no one else will, and your beloved book won’t make it past your circle of family and friends. 15  sales, tops.

So I apologize to all my Facebook friends and Twitter followers for the constant stream of plugs for The Glass Ceiling. It’s not fun for me and completely out of character. To get through it though,  I’m focusing on the creativeness of creating the teasers. I love graphic design and have utilized my background to come up with some teasers I’m pretty proud of.

I can’t believe my book will be released to the world in just a couple of weeks! It’s surreal.

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I Can See the Finish Line!

Things are moving along for both Glass Ceiling and Case of the Plant Killer. It’s odd working on two projects at once, but I’m certainly keeping busy! In fact, I just finished writing the second book in the Cassie Bigler detective-in-training series, The Case of the Missing Caterpillar. I’ve got to go through and edit it still, then it’s on to the publisher for review.

In the meantime, Case of the Plant Killer is being illustrated. How exciting is that? I’m finally going to have a face to go along with Cassie. I’ve already warned my kids that they’re going to be my mini-marketers at their school once that book comes out. They don’t care. They’re super excited about it.

As for The Glass Ceiling, I’m in my last week of line edits. Things are moving along so quickly, my publisher has moved up my release date to December. Yikes! I had all these plans of doing blog tours and getting ARC reviews months in advance. Now I’m scrambling to see what I can get done in just a month. But I should really count myself lucky. Some authors don’t even have their covers ready a month before release.

I’m currently in talks with the lovely people of YA Bound Book Tours. They’re working with me to squeeze in a 2 week book tour during January, which would make my December release a “soft release” and my hard release happening in January. I suppose this is good. Book releases aren’t exactly on peoples’ minds as they’re running around trying to get last minute Christmas gifts. Now January? Much better. People are trying to get their lives back to normal after a hectic holiday season and sit back with a good book. 😉 I hope!

As a newbie author, this promotion stuff is all very confusing to me and I’ll be amazed if I get through it with my sanity in tact. But it will definitely be a learning experience for next time! If you could give one piece of advice during the month before release, what would it be?

Wedding Pictures are Here!

They’re here! They’re here! After two months I can finally share my special day with all of you. It was so hard deciding which pictures to post, but I think these are my favorites. What a wonderful day we had. Beautiful sunny weather and smiling faces. Who could ask for more? Our photographer, Chelsea Ahl, did an outstanding job too. She did a lot of unique shots that were natural instead of forced. Love her!

(Click on the pictures for larger views)

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COVER REVEAL FOR THE GLASS CEILING

The time is here to reveal the cover for my YA Speculative Fiction, THE GLASS CEILING. The book is not slated to come out from Frost Book Group until early 2016, but with such a thrillingly gorgeous cover, who could wait to reveal it? I’d like to thank my cover artist, Melody Pond, for being such a gem to work with. She took all my concerns into consideration and created great solutions. If you’re in need of a cover artist, check out her website at: http://melodyypond.weebly.com/

And without further ado, meet Heart, the main character in THE GLASS CEILING.

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Sixteen-year-old Heart escapes slavery in the tunnels, but merely trades her small prison for a larger one. A world controlled by a madman bent on genetic perfection. In searching for a way out, her rebellious nature pits her up against the Guardian, who stops at nothing to protect his secrets. Human skulls atop crude sticks serve as a warning: treason is punishable by death. When her new friends are held captive, and escape is only an arm’s reach away, Heart must decide. Take the freedom she so desperately wants or save her friends’ lives?

Prize Details:

Retweet or Share on Facebook to be entered into a drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Winner to be announced on Friday.

A Review of GUARDED and a Special Announcement

This review has been a looooooong time coming and I’m so sorry I waited until now to write it. Wedding stuff took up a lot of my time, but it’s back to business!

As you know, Carmen Fox is a master manipulator of words, a plot genius, and a heroine of description. Oh, you didn’t know that? Well, shame on you! You need to get with the program. Carmen has gone from a nerd reading physics books (for the fun of it!) to an Amazon bestselling author in two months. In fact, she’s #1 in both Werewolf & Shifter Mysteries and Vampire Mysteries. Wow, how’d she do that, you ask? You don’t pay attention, do you? See first sentence of paragraph.

I am lucky enough to have Carmen as a mentor. Now mind you, she’d probably say it’s the other way around being the humble Englishwoman she is, but I assure you, she’s the brains of the operation. And GUARDED showcases her talent one hundred percent.

So let me start by being square with you. This book is not a beach read. Or an airplane read. Or for that matter, a kid napping read (not meant to be confused with “kidnapping”). This is an “I want to challenge my brain read.” Now what does that mean? It means Carmen’s books are like onions. Her plots contain layers upon layers that you need to pull away. Can it be confusing? At times. But some of the best plots are born from early on confusion. Then when the fog clears, the reader can say, “Oh, I get it now! I never saw that coming!”

GUARDED is a spicy urban fantasy that has a little bit of everything for everyone. It has mystery, paranormal elements, contemporary life (MC is a private investigator), humor, romance, and scenes to make you blush. The story pulls you in from the beginning and there are plenty of good looking men to keep you company on the way.

Reader Tip: To keep track of the characters (i.e., suspects) and the multiple intertwining plots, it may be a good idea to keep your own notebook on the side and try to solve the mystery alongside the main character, Ivy. You could be like a Junior Nancy Drew! I keep notes on books I’m reading all the time. Mainly because my memory is so horrible. But in this book there are a lot of characters to keep track of, so it may be helpful to jot down a couple of notes like Greg = hot human, Waylon = hot demon, Lathan = evil demon, etc.

With thousands of sales, and “currently” 48 awesome reviews on Amazon, GUARDED is finding a home with many readers. So what are you doing sitting there and reading this blog entry still? Go buy it, silly! And be sure to spread the word. Books sell best through word of mouth. To purchase a copy of GUARDED, click this link. Oh, but don’t forget to come back for my special announcements below!

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Back yet? Awesome.

I’m proud to announce that first and foremost, I officially became Mrs. LaVoie (not just a pen name anymore) on September 5th. I’ll be sure to post wedding pictures in a future blog entry!

Second, the first round of edits are complete for my early reader chapter book, THE CASE OF THE PLANT KILLER. It’s coming along nicely and I’m two-thirds of the way through writing the next book in the series.

Third, the cover is DONE for my YA Dystopian, THE GLASS CEILING. The grand reveal will happen later this week so stay tuned! Here’s a hint. Think eerily beautiful. Bet you never thought those two words could go together. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. Absolutely gorgeous.

Be sure to check out Carmen’s book and I’ll see you later this week! Go Team Flo!

A Wedding Dress Disaster

Last November, I found the dress of my dreams. With pick-ups galore and bunches of fabric roses, I knew it would be perfect for my garden wedding. And just like on “Say Yes to the Dress,” I had a crying moment. It was THE dress for me. Plus, it helped that the normally $2,500 Maggie Sottero was on sale for $850 because it had been discontinued…and it was in my size! Imagine a size 18 floor sample. Who’d have thought? So I went home a starry-eyed dreamer.

But the dress wasn’t complete. I had a vision of pink. Lots of baby pink. I switched out the white corset tie for pink and replaced one of the cream ribbon roses in each bunch with a pink one. Ta da! I had made it my own and was proud of my youtube self-taught sewing capabilities. (Thank you, Martha Stewart, for your awesome ribbon rose video.) Now I just needed to get it altered.

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Dun dun DUN!!!! Cue climactic sound effect.

I should have walked back out the door after entering the woman’s house. I had a bad feeling about the place, but because of a family member’s recommendation, and the fact that this woman did all the alterations for a local bridal store, I kept moving forward. Big mistake. On first glance, here’s what I saw. A dog. Seriously, a dog and bridal gowns don’t go hand in hand. The dining room (where she does her fittings) was carpeted with dog hair. The dog was walking around me in my dress. When I made my appointment she never asked if I was allergic to animals. Which I’m not, thankfully.

The next thing I noticed was her sewing room tucked behind a dirty kitchen. The sewing room was the size of my office cubicle. It could actually be considered a glorified closet. One wall was lined with wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses for altering. A good sign, right? Or perhaps they’ve all been taken, just like I was. The other wall was lined with…a fish tank. A giant fish tank. Really? Why, oh why would you take up a good chunk of your working quarters with a giant fish tank? Getting dressed in that room proved difficult as there was barely any floor space.

So let’s get on to the fitting part. I walked through the dirty kitchen, my dress scraping up against cupboards and dog dishes, until I made it into the dining room. She pinned the top for me because it didn’t sit flush against my chest, then pinned the hem. Except she only pinned about 8 inches in the center, and said, “How’s this height?” It looked fine to me. Of course, I should have known after watching marathons of “Say Yes to the Dress” that she should have pinned around the entire hem while I was in the dress. The ruffles are deceiving and I ended up paying the price.

When my dress was ready, I went through the same actions above, then looked into the full length mirror in her dining room. WTH! My gorgeous gown now looked frumpy and the hem was crooked. She kept cooing, “Do you love it? Do you love it?” Of course, I’m a passive aggressive person so I grinned and bore it. I did, however, point out the crooked hem. Her response? Just pull the dress down more. It won’t be noticeable. Then she went back into her “Do you love it?” cooing.

I came home and immediately tried the dress on again. Maybe it would look better? Nope. Because she took off so much of the length, the ballroom poof disappeared. Also, check out the stubby rose at the bottom. It looked horrible. Not to mention the fact that I found a stain on the dress and she’d ripped the end of the corset tie because she insisted on using a safety pin at the end to lace me up.

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But this isn’t the worst of it. The dress no longer fits me. You know that privacy panel behind the corset tie? It’s a good 2-3 inches from the snap. This means you can see my skin along the right side of the panel. My aunt thinks the seamstress took in too much on the top from the back part of the dress. The side seam is running along the side of my breasts instead of my sides. Double argh! Plus, It didn’t help that I gained a few pounds. I felt like my world had crashed down and wished I’d never gotten my dream dress altered in the first place. It was a dress disaster.

But, of course, I’m Julie. And I don’t give up. I try everything in my power to make something work. I have the option of tucking the privacy panel away and keeping my back bare beneath the corset tie. This is worst case scenario if I can’t drop some inches before the wedding. But at least it’s a fix. Thank God for corset backs! [UPDATE: I started a low-carb/high fat diet along with Jillian Michaels’ 30-day shred and have lost 5 pounds in 5 days! Woo hoo!]

Next comes reviving the original bell shape of the dress. The dress already has a built-in crinoline, but obviously I need something more. And what a perfect opportunity to bring more pink in! This is what I’m going for.

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If you were to buy a pink crinoline, it would cost upward of $75 online. And you’re not even guaranteed an exact match in color. All of my pinks match. From my hair piece, to my bouquet, to the ribbon roses on my dress. I’m very finicky about this. (Enter Bridezilla.) So I decided to try what many other brides out there are trying…dyeing it myself. Not such an easy task. Different materials dye differently. Polyester does not hold dye well at all. It basically just rinses off. My first two attempts, using cheap made-in-China crinolines bought off ebay (that were made of polyester), were horrible. They came out a very, very light purple color. But worse than that, they didn’t fit me. *Sigh* One size fits all crinolines are not one size fits all. I needed to buy a plus-size crinoline. Now this crinoline was part nylon and part polyester, and $60 before shipping. I hadn’t experimented with nylon yet, but took the plunge and dyed it. And it came out looking like this. Hot pink. Nothing like the light pink color on the bottle.

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While a pretty color, it’s not the baby pink I wanted. So then I added RIT dye remover, hoping to lighten it up. Well, that nylon just did not want to let go of that color. The best I came up with was a cranberry pink and the polyester slip ended up turning a stark white. After tossing my hands up in the air, I turned to my aunt for help. If I was going to get the color I wanted, I’d have to make my crinoline by hand.

I took a trip to the fabric store in search of bridal tulle. This type of tulle is stiff and has a medium-sized diamond pattern. But did I really think my luck would turn around? No go. Bridal tulle can only be found in white or black. You’ve got to be kidding me. Dying was out of the question. So I had to take the closest available netting. The kind used to make pot scrubbers. Ugh. Yes, the netting was stiff, but it also looked industrial. Not exactly bridal. I even tried sewing a ribbon edging on it to see it it improved the look. A little better.

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After a sleepless night, I decided to try another fabric store. Still a no go, but I left with three kinds of soft tulle. One glittery, one shiny, and one matte. Crafters use this type of tulle to make tutus for babies. I figured if we used enough layers, perhaps it would poof my dress. I brought the $60 total worth of tulle to my aunt’s. (By the way, between all the ribbon, alterations, wasted crinolines, tulle, and a new corset tie, my great $850 find is hedging it’s way up to $1,500.) We came up with the idea of layering the stiff netting with the soft netting. And because the plus-sized crinoline fits me, we’re using it as a base. She’s ripping out the cranberry tulle and replacing it with the light pink layers. I actually think this could work!

Oh, and remember the uneven stubby end beneath the fabric roses at the hem of my dress? My aunt was also able to move the pick-up and roses up about an inch, so Mr. Stubby is not so stubby now, and the dress is actually even on the bottom.
I can slowly feel the stress lifting from my shoulders. The new crinoline won’t be complete for another few weeks so I can’t show you the final result yet, but I have 110% more confidence in my aunt, then the dog lady seamstress.

So why have I written this ridiculously long blog entry? Because I’ve had no one to complain to except my fiancee, and he’s so sick of the dress right now he’ll probably make a stink face at me when I walk down the aisle. Either that or grab a cross and hold it up as if to ward off the evil spirits of my dress!

If you’re a bride that has had your dress ruined by a seamstress, know that you’re not alone. Just take a deep breath, and come up with a solution. Forums are great for problem solving. Wedding Wire, Wedding Bee, and The Knot are all great resources for the bride-to-be. Or you could also just spout off at the Internet void like I am. That always helps, too. 😉

What Your Google History Tells About You

A radio station I listen to often has people call in and tell what their last Google search was. The searches they disclose are often funny and also quite telling. People use Google to search topics from “how to stop burning from jalapeno juice” (raises hand) to “how to help an ADHD child get organized in Middle School” (raises hand again). I can’t imagine how I ever lived without Google. I suppose I had to call people. Or go to the library and look it up. Ick. But Google makes everything so much easier. It also acts as an archive of your life events. Lately, everything I’m Googling is wedding, wedding, wedding. Because that’s what I’m going through right now in my life. In the past, my searches would have consisted of the best brand of diaper or how to clean marker out of fabric. Yup, life with toddlers.

Today I did a Google search on a topic I never thought would enter my curiosity scope. I looked up the difference between content editor and line editor. Wanna know why? Because my book is currently in the editing stage. Yay! I just finished working with my content editor and now it’s moving on to the line editor. One step closer to being published! It still seems surreal. And the publisher wants to offer me a contract for another one of my books, an early reader chapter book. Think Magic School Bus meets Jigsaw Jones. Two books published in one year. Who would have thought? Anyways, I was just reflecting today on how Google searches can be like a window into someone’s world. I think that’s pretty interesting! Although I can’t say I enjoy the “personalized” ads that pop up as a result. I swear, just because I do a search on toe fungus or ingrown hairs does not mean I want to constantly see products for that!

I’d love for you to share your past five Google searches so we can get a window into your world too. I promise no ads will follow. 😉

My last five were: content editor and line editor, Swarovski heart pendant looks yellow against skin, family unity sand containers, colored play sand, and how soon after getting infected with pinkeye do symptoms show. Uh, yeah, a lovely gift from my son to me!

Playing the Part of SPORTS MOM

If you recall in one of my recent blog entries I was so PUMPED UP. I was going to the gym every night, and couldn’t wait to see how my body would change. But now that spring has arrived, along with spring sports, my gym visits have come to a screeching halt. Mondays are Son #3’s tap lessons. Tuesdays and Saturdays are Son #3’s soccer games. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are Son #2’s baseball games. (Thank God Son #1 believes extra-curricular activities mean playing Minecraft online with friends.)

I think I’ve gone to the gym once in the past week. Today, I had to take three ibuprofen because my back is still killing me from all the time I spent in a camp chair on Saturday. An hour watching Son #3’s soccer practice, an hour waiting in line for Son #3’s recital tickets, then THREE hours watching Son #2’s baseball game. Why was it three hours, you ask? Partially because they let my son pitch in the first game of the season. It took him 35 minutes for one half inning! He’d only practiced pitching one time with the coach for five minutes, so you can imagine my surprise when they called him out to pitch. He did manage to strike two people out, but also got four walks, and when all was said and done brought the score from a winning 8 to 7 to a losing 8 to 12. Bummer. Then it was their turn up to bat to finish off the last inning. My son came up with two outs on the board… and struck out. I swear the universe was against him that day. But his team was super supportive, which I was glad to see. I hope this early failure pushes him to try even harder, and that his coaches don’t lose faith in him. At this age, even in rec baseball, it’s competitive.

I never thought I’d be watching any sports games. I hate sports. But now I’m a sideline cheerleader. I have a Dick’s Sporting Goods points card, I know plays for football, and I know how to size a cup. Having boys changes everything. And I can say with full certainty and pride, I’ve turned into a sports mom!

Have your kids inspired new hobbies or have you doing things you never thought you’d do before?

Marketing Strategies for Authors

Probably the worst part about being an author is having to market your work. In my experience writers are introverts. People who prefer their own company to others’. People who are humble and live a simple life. So when a writer is forced to move out of their hermit-like comfort zone and peddle themselves to the public, it’s like asking someone afraid of heights to go mountain climbing. It doesn’t come easy. For the past ten years I’ve kind of “hoped” I wouldn’t succeed. I hoped my books wouldn’t get taken on by publishers and that agents would pass me by. Of course this little seed of hope was stuffed into the back of my brain, overpowered by my other hope of sharing my stories with the world. And now that I’ve had one of my books picked up, and publishing is becoming a reality, I need to seriously step into the intimidating world of marketing.

And a world it is. Larger than I could have ever imagined. Facebook and Twitter are stuffed with other authors, many who are self-published and who have no one but themselves to get their name out. It’s like a circus filled with colorful clowns. Everyone has their makeup piled on, and are performing their best tricks to attract an audience. But without the spotlight of a huge publishing firm or top agent shining on me, how can I possibly be seen in the shadows? This is the problem I’m facing. The problem all authors face. And I have a plan… kind of.

First of all, a couple of months before The Glass Ceiling comes out, I’m hiring a web-based promotions company. These are author-friendly companies who set up blog tours, contests, interviews, and create online banners you can use in social media. The prices can range, but the one I’m looking at is about $150. I think it’s well worth it. What good is writing an awesome YA, if the only people who read it are your editor, mother, and a couple beta readers?

The second thing I’m doing, and have been working up to over the past three months, is growing my online presence. I try to blog when I can, post in Facebook, Goodreads, and very rarely Twitter. Social networking is not my favorite thing to do. I think it’s a time drainer, and you’re reading a bunch of thoughts from complete strangers. But for a debut author, it’s necessary.

Last, I came up with this amazing idea…that’s quickly become a flop. But I’m hoping when the time is right I can take advantage of it. I created a shop on Etsy. You can view my shop here. Etsy is to crafters like Facebook is to authors. Ridiculously packed. I’ve had 32 items listed for over a month with no sales. Why? Because no one sees them. Unless you pay for the advertising, your products are placed in the back of list…on page 856. But all is not lost. There is a method to my madness. There are “some” authors who have succeeded in posting autographed books on Etsy. However, since Etsy doesn’t consider books “handmade” you run the risk of having them removed. Thus, I needed to have an established store on Etsy before putting up my autographed books. AND, I have another niche. Daisy chains play a large role in my book. They symbolize the friendship and create conflict between a few of my characters. Along with a signed copy of the book, I intend to include a handmade beaded daisy bracelet. I figure I can put a link on my author site directing fans to my Etsy shop. Of course, this only works if my publisher puts my book out as paper as well as kindle. Fingers crossed.

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What marketing strategies have you used that have worked for you?