Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

To all my readers, regardless of which holidays you celebrate, may your days be merry and bright!

The very best of holiday wishes,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice, everyone! Tonight is officially the longest night of the year - a fact which is probably only noteworthy in Alaska where we start talking about how many seconds of daylight we're gaining every day as soon as solstice passes. It's eleven-thirty a.m. as I write this and I can just now see the edge of the sun breaking out over the mountains across the valley. How am I celebrating? With a slice of solstice pizza from the Moose's Tooth and a vow to wrap packages until the sun sets or I finish them all. (Which is kind of a wussy vow since the sun won't stay up long, but that's how I roll.)

Enjoy the holiday! And remember, it's only T-minus 365 days until the end of the world, Mayan-style! Make this year count, boys and girls.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Sundance Channel Wants YOU

You guys, social media marketing is weird. The way businesses promote themselves online is... odd.

Case in point: I tweeted a snarky comment about the prestige involved in my alma mater being picked for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. (Lube up with Wildcat football!) Imagine my surprise when Meineke Car Care tweeted me back, urging me to attend the game.

Why does a car care company have a twitter account? And why are they encouraging alumni to attend a bowl game? How is that tweet - which was doubtless done by an employee paid to find references to Meineke and reply to them - going to further their business interests and enhance their reputation as a good place to take your car to get it fixed? I would rather know that Meineke wasn't wasting their money on twitter campaigns, but lowering their prices by the amount of that Twitter employee's salary... or teaching him how to fix a carburetor.

(And yes, you may be saying, but Vivi, aren't you doing the same thing with your blog and twitter-ness and whatnot? Promoting your books, aka your business, instead of perfecting your craft? Wasting your time? Well, sorta. But really, this blog doesn't exist to promote me. It exists so I have a place to put announcements and talk about any random musings that trip across my brain. It's more recreation than marketing. If this is self-promo, I totally suck at it. Just sayin'.)

A couple weeks back, I wrote a blog which (very indirectly) mentioned Jennifer Grey. A few days later, I got an email from a publicist for the Sundance Channel. They had a new television show coming out, designed to humanize celebs by sharing their embarrassing childhood moments. Jennifer Grey was going to be in it, and didn't I want to let my readers at the blog know about it? (The Mortified Sessions: Mondays at 8pm EST on the Sundance Channel! Come watch Jennifer Grey and Will Forte relive their childhoods!)

Now, I've received emails like this in the past. I usually just shrug them off since 1) I'm not a fan of being told to publicize stuff. If I'm gonna publicize stuff on the blog, it's gonna be whatever random crap I happen to be noticing that week and not what some publicist with a Google Alert thinks I should publicize. And 2) I generally think they've made a mistake by sending it to me. I am not, in fact, this influential person they seem to think I am, so I'm doing them a favor by ignoring their request for me to try to influence you guys to do something.

But this time they were offering bribes! A "swag kit of exciting Sundance Merchandise" was available to folks who emailed them and told them "Yes! I'm going to pimp your show for you!" Sure, there have been other chances to whore my website and blog out for advertising dollars and "swag", but how could I possibly resist Sundance Channel merchandise? Especially since I'm such a devoted watcher (I'm not even sure I have the Sundance Channel) and there were only a LIMITED NUMBER of swag bags available!

Alas, no swag shall be forthcoming for my pimpage, because I did not reply. (And I might be about to get in trouble for "disclosing" the contents of said email... though they did send it to me and I feel like if you find some gabby chick online and send her an email asking her to talk about crap and then get mad at her for talking about the fact that you asked her to talk about crap... yeah, I'm thinking that's not sound legal footing, but what do I know about confidentiality?)

It's just so peculiar to me, the way people are trying to buy word of mouth - and it's WORKING. I've fallen victim to their evil plot. By bitching about their attempts to expose themselves through me, I have ingrained in your minds the subconscious desire to go get your brakes checked while watching celebrities attempt to be real! Now you guys are all thinking about Meineke and the Sundance Channel, aren't you? You can't help it! It's like pink elephants (which reminds me of a story about testicular cancer, but let's leave that for another day, shall we?). Ooooh, wait, did I just free associate The Mortified Sessions with testicular cancer? Oh noes! Marketing backfire!

It's a strange world we live in, folks. Getting stranger by the day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tis the Season to Give Some Books!

Looking for a great read for a loved one this holiday season? Don't know which book to get that hard-to-shop-for someone on your list? Fear not! A horde of authors are coming to your rescue! (Cuz that's what authors do, yo.) All this month, Tilly Greene has been hosting an event at which authors recommend their favorite books for holiday giving. Swing on by and get some great recommendations to give away or keep for yourself. My pick is up today and is a book I have, in fact, given away for Christmas in the past. It's the strangest Christmas pageant ever. The holidays with a dose of the ridiculous.

How's your holiday season going so far? Got your shopping knocked out?

I've been busy doing "Designated Shopper" duty for some of my non-local family members (to save them the crazy shipping costs up here, we run around and pick up the presents they want to give and wrap them), attending three Christmas concerts (one classical concert choir, one delightfully irreverent barbershop chorus, and one pre-school barely-audible-mumble-the-words-but-they're-so-darn-cute), picking out, lighting, and decorating three Christmas trees in two cities, wrapping like crazy, and catching up on the latest season of Dexter - because really, what says Christmas more than blood spatter?

Happy Holidays, y'all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wayfaring Eden

Friend of the blog Brenda Hyde is interviewing me over at her online home today - The Wayfaring Writer. We're chatting about Eden, my love of Sam Worthington and zombies (cuz really, who doesn't love a mindless fleshbag intent on eating your brains?), and the future of the end of the world. Swing on by and say howdy to the delightful Ms. Hyde!

And while you're there, you can see her thoughts on Reawakening Eden - which were totally flattering enough to make me blush. And I loved this encapsulation: "The story is about survival, both physical and emotional, but it's also about trust and a willingness to think beyond one day at a time."

YES. Don't you just love that feeling when someone totally gets it? Bliss. Thank you, Brenda!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Semantics on Parade

I'm over at the Ruby Blog today, shoving my foot as far down my throat as it will fit on the topic of critiquing, judging & beta reading. Learn why I find the criticism "bad writing" somewhat less than helpful & come argue with me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Snow Day!

I think there are days you probably have to be a little nuts to love living in a place like Alaska. Luckily, sanity has never been a handicap for me. Man, do I love it here.

I've completed my latest round of travels and I'm back in the frozen north (woohoo!) for Christmas with the folks. This weekend Winter welcomed me home right. It started on Sunday morning, right as we were returning home from picking up the Christmas trees (yes, two!). Just snow at first and a few power flickers (which we've been getting all week, including a couple 4 hr outages), so we went about life as usual. We headed over to my sister's place (through near white-out conditions) to celebrate my brother-in-law's birthday with presents and sledding.

My brother-in-law (a lower-48 transplant) laughed at our hapless Alaskan weathermen, who'd predicted up to an inch and we already had two or three, with more falling fast. With night already closing in (it was 3:30pm, after all) we headed home through the snow. Back at Casa Andrews, my dad and I settled down for some football as the wind kicked up outside, but the power began flickering again and then gave up for good. We pulled out some candles and played cards by their light as we listened to the chinook howl through. The spruce trees in the yard bent over at sixty degree angles, but luckily no more of them came down in our yard (we already had one mega-wind-storm this year take out almost a dozen trees in the neighborhood).

The wind died down enough to stop being a danger to the electric company crews around ten and, confident the power would be back on soon, I grabbed some extra blankets and burrowed under them to read a historical romance by candlelight - because what could be more fitting than reading about folks who read by candlelight?

But in the morning we still had no power. What we did have was eighteen-plus new inches of heavy, wet (gorgeous, white, perfect for snowmen!) snow.

Behold! The barbecue grill - tipped over by the wind and ever so lightly snowed upon:

We started a fire in the fire place and lit the burners on the gas stove to keep the house from cooling down too fast. The contents of the refrigerator migrated outside in coolers to stay chilled (though, alas we were too late to save the ice cream).

We melted and boiled snow on the stove to make coffee and cocoa (Ice Coffee & Snow-coa!) and then took turns wrestling the snowblower through the heavy masses of snow piled in the driveway.

By midday the driveway was clear and the house was getting COLD. Our road still hadn't been grated (and still hasn't as I'm writing this) but we'd seen our neighbors push through in a Suburban so we all piled into the truck and went back to my sister's (where they had power and everyone was home for a snow day).

One of my nephews showed me his pirate fleet (composed of drawings of ships, many of which have laser-shooting mermaids as hood-ornaments). Another showed me Mesopotamia (the actual Mesopotamia on his world map). And I watched Cinderella with my niece - who is going to be Rapunzel when she grows up and therefore has stopped cutting her hair. (She's convinced that someday it will glow when she sings.)

After the bliss of hot showers and the marvel of fully charged cell phones & laptops, we eventually headed back to the Ice House where temperatures were now in the fifties. We pulled out even more blankets, preparing for a very cold night, when what to our wondering eyes should appear, but ELECTRICITY!

The roads are still clogged with snow, but we're nice and warm with our delicious luxuries of heat and running water. The wind has calmed, the sun is up (as much as the sun comes up in the winter), and it's a true winter wonderland out there.

Nothing beats an Alaskan winter.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Smutketeers Holiday Festival of Awesome!

It's time to bring out the naughty and nice, boys and girls! The lovely (and delightfully naughty) ladies over at the Smutketeers are hosting a holiday Twelve Days of Christmas blog party and giving away books and prizes every day!

My day on the blog with the "Three Wise Vivis" - which made me giggle like you would not believe - was actually yesterday. I regret I was not on-the-ball enough to schedule this blog in advance and then yesterday was a comedy of errors internet-wise with jetlag and router misfires and power outages, oh my! So I missed giving you a heads up in advance, BUT I'm online now and here to say, Merry Christmas to All and to all a Smutty Night! Hie yourself over to the Smutketeers for some flirty Christmas fun!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Advanced Buzz on Some Ghostly Valentine's Giggles

She liked it!

The first review for Ghosts of Boyfriends Past is in from Night Owl Reviews and it's 4.25 Stars! (GoBP! Coming January 17th from Samhain & up for Kindle pre-order now!)

"Ghosts of Boyfriends Past was one heck of a roller coaster read. I actually felt totally guilty laughing throughout the story given that three of Biz's boyfriends had died but I couldn't help myself."

Ah, the guilt-giggle. Check your sense of shame at the door, ladies and gents. This one will make you smile in spite of yourself. Read the full review here.

"A great seasonal read wrapped up with kooky paranormal elements, Vivi Andrews never disappoints readers and Ghosts of Boyfriends Past is definitely top notch!"

Dude. Can I just say? Having someone tell me I never disappoint readers has to be the biggest, most ginormous, oversized, humongous, mega-Costco-bulk-purchase, King-Kong compliment I've ever received. (And because I'm a neurotic mess, it also freaked me out because I was all what if the next one disappoints her? I will have lost my "never disappoints" status! Oh noes! Yeah, I'm well-adjusted like that.)

Happy holidays for your friendly neighborhood neurotic and Thank You, Night Owl!

Monday, December 5, 2011

We Have SUPER Art!

Guess what I just got permission to share, boys and girls? We have Superhero cover art! The fabulous Xanaxa is the artistic genius behind this baby and she's given us DynaGirl in all her vampy (not in the vampire sense, but in the va-va-voom sense) glory. Oh my...

Without further ado, I give you... Superlovin'!


What do you think? A touch of you can save my day any time, big boy perhaps?

Coming this May along with shiny new superhero hotness from Jodi Redford and Kimberly Dean!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Whomper

I have a new metaphor for writing success. And, as with all my extended metaphors, I am totally in love with it. It's sailing! Grab hold of a mizzenmast and brace yourself, y'all. There's some awesomeness slicing across the waves toward you.

See, as a sailor, you can't control the wind, but you can control how you react to the natural conditions. The right sail, the right tack at the right moment, the right hull shape and rudder length... you face what nature gives you with the skill you develop and the equipment you choose.

You are just as much a sailor in a one man craft on a lake or a Hobie-Cat in a bay as you are on an IACC yacht trying to kick the defender's ass in the America's Cup. There's no shame in being a weekend sailor just as there is no shame in being a hobbyist writer - we aren't all going to be John Grisham and Stephen King - but I think it's important to realize what type of craft you're sailing.

The hobbyist in that lake dinghy is going to get his ass rolled to hell and back on the open ocean. If you want to sail with the big boys, you need to have a big boy boat - or in this case, a big boy book. Not all books have the broad, mainstream market appeal. A niche novel is a lake boat and can sail beautifully there, the NYT best-seller is an IACC yacht. But even a NYT best-seller doesn't get there without the right crew (editorial/art/publicity) and being launched in the right waters (distribution).

And even with that beautiful yacht, the right crew and the right seas, you need the wind. Those glorious gusts are unpredictable and will determine how fast and far your yacht can fly across the waves. Public opinion, word of mouth, reader reactions, a magical chemistry of timing and luck - all those little things that take a good story and make it into a popular one. That's the wind, and when it isn't there for you, no amount of perfect craftsmanship or well-trained crews can fill your sails.

In her post-Dirty Dancing days, Jennifer Grey appeared in a movie all about sailboat racing called Wind. Her character is in love with the science and the mystique of the sport, addicted to it, helpless to fight the way it gets into your blood. There's no cure for that passion, even when it's knocked you around some. At one point, she sews a giant sail and then at a pivotal moment in a race, talks her team into deploying the "Whomper", a massive big-daddy of a spinnaker that, as advertised by Ms. Grey, catches the wind, goes whomp and their boat rockets forward to win the race.

I feel like Harry Potter was a Whomper. Twilight. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The Help. Those big-daddy books, deployed just right, catching the wind and flying.

For the last few years, I'd say I've been writing Hobie-Cat books. Learning the feel of the sails and how to read the wind, having a great time as a bright-eyed young sailor, but now I'm starting to want something bigger, faster. I want to get into the big race. That means a bigger boat, more high tech sails. A book with a broader audience, one that pushes me to apply everything I've learned so far.

I love my Hobie-Cat books and have no intention of giving them up, but I want to try an IACC race or two. So I'd better get sewing. And then pray for wind in my sails.

(Random note: I come by my sailing metaphors naturally, with a genetic tendency for throwing money into those holes in the water we call boats. There's nothing like the wind and the sea.)

How 'bout you? Do you see yourself as more a Hobie Cat or a IACC yacht? Or do you have no flippin' idea what I'm jabbering on about in the first place?