Sunday, April 29, 2012

What's In A Name?

I've never been exactly happy with the name that my parents chose for me. After all, it's difficult to overcome a name that rhymes with "booty." So when I thought about creating a pen name for myself as an author, I figured it would be an easy task. Wrong!

At first I sat down with pencil and paper and began writing down all the ideas for pen names. I thought about Paige Turner, Louisa E. Anna, Pearl E. Gates, Amber Waves. I think you get the picture. I was getting nowhere fast.

Frustrated, I turned to the internet for ideas. I searched articles on "How to Choose A Pen Name" and "Why Choose A Pen Name" and, the best one of all, "The Pen Name Generator." Their advice was to choose a name that's in the middle of the alphabet so that our book is placed on the middle shelf in a bookstore. "You don't want your book located on the top shelf," one article noted. "Nor do you want your book located at the very bottom. After all, no one wants to bend down or reach on their tippy toes to choose a book. They just want to stand there and look at the middle shelves. It's easier."

Then there was the whole question of how long or short your name should be. "If it's too long," the article states,"people can't remember it. If it's too short or common, people won't remember it, either. Or worse, they will remember part of it and find another book with the same first or last name and take that book instead." Horrifying thought, let me tell you.

Some of you may be asking, "Why not just use our own name? Wouldn't that be better?" That's the tricky part. I read an article about a woman named Patricia O'Brien who had her book "The Dress" rejected 13 times. She changed her name to Kate Alcott and it was published. So, in her case, the name was very important. It made all the difference to the publishers.

For me, the plan is to write in different genres. My first book is a young adult, and I intend to write under my real name for this genre because I'm a middle school teacher, and I want my students to be able to find my books with ease. However, for my adult books, I don't think it's a good idea to use my real name as they may not be suitable for my preteen students. Using a pen name will differentiate between the two.

So, I ask you, what's in a name? Shakespeare said, "... a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." I would have to agree with Shakespeare, but then look at his name. It's pretty catchy.

What's the secret to finding that perfect pen name that everyone will remember? A Pen Name Generator, of course!!! It's fast and easy! However, is it effective? Here's what popped up for me. I will let you be the judge.

Temple Drake
Grace Foster
Claire Hill
Zoe Miller
Lexie Michell
Sian Forest
Dawn Davis
Kate Stone

I would hope that I would be able to come up with a pen name by the time I finish my upcoming adult book. It's in the outline stage at this point. Meanwhile, I'm open for suggestions!!


Trudy Edgeworth is a sixth-grade science teacher who lives in Rogers, Arkansas. She is married to the love of her life, Keith, and was blessed with four amazing children. Despite her busy schedule with her career as a teacher, she finds time to pursue her true passion ... writing. She is currently working on a fictional piece for young adults at the request of her students and plans to have it finished in May 2012.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

RT Reflections

What a hive of noise and industry the Chicago Romantic Times Book Reviews Convention was this past weekend. Women strode here, there and everywhere with great determination—most of them in sensible shoes, but quite a few wearing skyscraper heels that will make fortunes for podiatrists in about 20 years. Many were writers, but readers, booksellers and librarians were also present in great numbers. Their focus was the various workshops and panels available, also the two book signings, but they didn’t miss out on the publisher and author parties!

(From Left) Jennifer Blake, Diane Stacy and Christina Skye in the RT Goody Room

And how grand it was to see familiar faces, including Kathe Robin, long-time reviewer for RT (who told me she still has a copy of BAYOU BRIDE, one of my early light romances on her keeper shelf) and Christina Skye, whom I ran into in the “goody room” of the RT office and who shares my passion for knitting. There was Sherill Boudine, who helped make a three-hour book signing speed past by treating me to a margarita and having it delivered. Leigh Greenwood and Roseanne Bittner, Loretta Chase and Lorraine Heath, Sue Grafton, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Francine Pascal were all there, not to mention Kathryn Falk and Kenneth Rubin, Carol Stacy, Jo Carol Jones, Jill Brager, and all the rest of the great RT crew. Added to this list was the personable young writer I met on the train to Chicago, Heather Rainier. In the way of such things, I ran into her and her husband Richard often, and enjoyed their company each time.

The Author Chat I sat in on with Loretta Chase and Sarah McLean drew a nice crowd. Mary Balogh was supposed to have been on hand, but bowed out due to family illness. Lorraine Heath took her place in quiet and composed fashion, and we all answered questions until they chased us from the room so the next panel could be set up.

Chicago being the home of Sourcebooks, Inc., this amazing publishing house sponsored an office tour for their authors. What a fun jaunt! Transportation was by special limo—buses the size of small living rooms, with curving leather seats, stocked mini-bars and multi-colored flashing lights. We felt like rock stars! Publisher Dominique Raccah guided us through the many departments while recognizing personnel. She even introduced Bessie, the Well-Read Cow, a huge cow statue resting on books which she had bought at auction, outbidding Oprah who also wanted the icon. Lunch of pasta, chicken parmesan and decadent brownies was enjoyed, after which gifts of handmade bath and beauty products from Lush were handed out. Before our departure, all authors used large permanent markers in various colors to autograph a blank corridor wall. Leigh Greenwood (Harold Lowery), being the tallest, capped off all the signatures by making a banner heading of his "John Hancock.”

On Friday, Roseanne Bittner and I sat in on a panel discussion with Kathryn Falk. Our retrospective of the romance industry over the past thirty years, and the passion of authors for their work that has driven its success, was well received. I also spent time with Kathryn, Roseanne, Kenneth Rubin and Leigh Greenwood at the Bookseller and Librarian appreciation event, and heard interesting things being planned for the Kansas City convention in 2013.

Passion was a constant at this convention—the passion for erotica, that is, or erotic romances. The authors with the most fervent followings seemed to be those with the boundary-pushing stories. The only genre to give erotica a run for its money was paranormal, with its vampires and shape-shifting animals, ghosts and ghoulies. Both are certainly interesting trends, though it's impossible to say how long they will last.

Another thread for this convention was self-publishing, or indie—independent—publishing, as it’s labeled these days. The presence of such e-industry heavy-hitters as Mark Coker, Bob Mayer and J. A. Konrath stoked the interest of attendees. Bob Mayer encouraged authors to gain control of their backlists and self-pub the books as soon as possible. The thinking here is that traditional publishers are sitting on absolute gold mines of out-of-print titles but, like elephants squatting on eggs, are oblivious to the potential rewards.

Special guests for Saturday’s gigantic Book Fair were Anne Rice and J. R. Ward. Anne was reportedly seen striding the hotel corridors in company with her bodyguards. Extra security also had to be brought in to keep order among the fans waiting for signed books from Anne and J. R. The other spot of great activity during the autographing was the section cordoned off for YA authors. Fans of tales that tap into the Twilight and Hunger Games mystique congregated there. Business was brisk for the rest of us, as well, and the lines at checkout were long. The state of the book industry seems less gloomy than has been depicted.

The convention was a time of renewal in many ways, of getting back to why I write, how lucky I’ve been to be able to make a living at it and excitement about the digital future. I came home with the urge to start a new book. Seeing old friends, making new contacts and taking the pulse of the industry was great—but recapturing the anticipation of a new story? That's priceless.


Since publishing her first book at age 27, New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jennifer Blake has gone on to write over 65 historical and contemporary novels in multiple genres. She brings the story-telling power and seductive passion of the South to her stories, reflecting her 8th-generation Louisiana heritage. Jennifer lives with her husband in northern Louisiana.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Nook of My Dreams

I should probably begin this post by telling you I'm like "the little old lady who lives in a shoe." Thankfully, I do not have so many children I don't know what to do and, hopefully, I'm not considered a "little old lady" yet. Then again, I do get a lot of "yes ma'ams and no ma'ams" from people who make me feel much older than I am. But I digress ...

Most days I do feel as if I live in a shoe since my house is very small and extra space is more of an illusive dream than a reality. I've tried rearranging and even getting rid of unnecessary items, but I still can't seem to find extra space. Then I discovered some fascinating ideas on Pinterest.

Reading is my favorite pastime and one of the things I would love to have is a private reading nook. Hmm ... How does one fit a reading nook in a shoe?
Believe it or not, I think there actually might be a way. Take a look at these great ideas. My favorite is the closet (that's the green one above). Even my shoe has a closet, so that is a definite possibility. I've seen some nooks built under a staircase, some built into a window sill and some children's book nooks built as a loft inside a small closet. The possibilities are endless...

Picture it ... one of these cozy little nooks, a fabulous can't-put-it-down book and you. Can life get any better than this?

I think not. So, the question is ... where do you like to read? Do you have a cozy little nook or do you just grab some precious reading time anywhere and anytime you can?

Tamelia Tumlin has worked with several online publishers, but is now writing exclusively for Steel Magnolia Press. Juggling motherhood, teaching and writing is a challenge, but one she welcomes to pursue her passion. Her romance novels range from sweet and sassy to dark and dangerous. Look for her novella, A Dragon's Seduction, out this month!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Fling Freebies!

That's right! We're giving away 7 of our Kindle titles today only!

Why? Because we'll be at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention later this week giving away ebooks and we want to be sure everyone gets to go home with swag -- even if you're not at the con.

Click the titles and download your copies direct from Amazon with our compliments and hopes that you're enjoying spring as much as we are!

And remember, if you don't have a Kindle, you can still read Kindle books on just about any device, even your computer, with a free app from Amazon.

By Jennifer Blake

Contemporary Romance

An extravagant honeymoon suite, a rented groom and an ex-fiance one room over. Gina booked the suite, but the groom and the ex? Not her doing. So why is she spending the night with a man she doesn't know?

by Tamelia Tumlin

Contemporary Fantasy Romance

A rogue dragon terrorizes New Orleans and firefighter cum dragonshifter Brayden is hot on its tail. But other Magik's at play too, and his sworn enemy, a sorceress battling her past, will need to help quench the fires burning his city – along with the one she's started in his heart.

By Tamelia Tumlin

Contemporary Romance
Category-Length Novel

Showing up at the Italian tycoon's hotel 6 years after that one unbelievable night with him is humiliating enough. But wearing only a G-string and a smile? Still, Sophie's secret might just turn her sexy playboy's life upside down.

by Lindy Corbin

Regency Romance

The palm reader spoke of two paths. Would one lead Juliet to her gypsy husband?

by Phoenix Sullivan

#2 Medical Thriller on Amazon in January!

10,000 years ago a pandemic wiped out much of the world. It's back. "Contagion" meets the science of "Jurassic Park" in this near-future medical thriller for fans of Michael Crichton and Robin Cook.

by Phoenix Sullivan

#1 in Veterinary Medicine and a Top 10 in Pet Essays on Amazon

A charming and insightful coming-of-age story for anyone who's ever had a pet or a dream.

edited by Phoenix Sullivan

Echoes of yesterday touch the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways in 18 provocative stories by 18 of the best up-and-coming authors of mainstream and speculative fiction around the world.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Romantic Times

Next week is the annual Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, a romance reader and writer extravaganza being held this year in Chicago. Of course Steel Magnolia Press will be there!

We couldn't be happier that Jennifer Blake has been nominated for two awards, winners to be announced at the RT Con:

 We hope you'll be there to cheer her on!

If you are attending the RT Booklover's Convention, be sure to say hello! You can find Jennifer at:
  • Thur, 10-11 am - Historical Author Chat (with Loretta Chase, Mary Balogh and Sarah McLean)
  • Thur, 4-6 pm - E-Book Expo and Book Signing (Phoenix Sullivan will be there too)
  • Fri, 10-11 am -  Power of Passion: An Industry Retrospective (with Mary Balogh, Rosanne Bittner and Kathryn Falk)
  • Fri, 4-6 pm - The RT Awards Ceremony
  • Sat, 11 am - 2 pm -  Book Fair - Bring your favorite books for Jennifer to autograph!
Now, we know that in addition to meeting your favorite authors, you go to conventions to glom up the swag. We'll have TWO special free ebooks (titles by Jennifer Blake) for anyone at the con who wants them. If you see Jennifer or Phoenix, just ask for the postcard with the secret url, or pick one up at the E-Book Expo or Book Fair.

Not going to the convention? Don't despair -- we'll have our own goodies room right on our website where you can pick up 7 of our Kindle titles for FREE on Monday, April 9 (note that the two books we'll be giving away at the convention aren't included in Monday's Spring Fling giveaways - they are truly exclusive this month for conventioneers).

 Thank you to our wonderful, wonderful readers!