Friday, September 21, 2012


It's time for a--


This time around it's my new YA fantasy/adventure, APRIL, MAYBE JUNE. I'm giving away three free copies! (Assuming I get three or more comments, that is. *tap tap* Is this thing on?) I'll be doing this once a week for a while, for different novels.

If you'd like to win a free copy of APRIL, MAYBE JUNE, leave a comment with your contact information (this can be your e-mail in a cryptic format, such as ladiva AT gmail). Comment by next Tuesday, September 25th.

I'd like to hear commentary on the current state of publishing. You can say anything you like in the comment, as long as it's nice. Let's play nice (unlike the rest of the net, politics-infested as it is.

The winners will be chosen randomly from the commenters by random drawing. If I only get three comments, then you'll all WIN! You're already winners, you know--in all sorts of other ways. Thanks for reading.

I'm really interested in hearing from readers. Let me know your thoughts on the new Bounty o' Books that is out there, much of it for free on e-readers. Are we better off than we were a couple of years ago, or not? LOL

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I'm weary of hearing all these pundits lecturing on how This or That will bring our economy out of the "slump" and back to Greatness. There is only ONE event, IMHO, that will actually do something for us. We can't create jobs out of nothing the way they did in the 1930s because the government has spent all the money it could print on foreign wars and homeland security, and people are too scared to drive the economy by spending what little they have.

But! What has always boosted the economy before?

The Next Big Thing.

The last really big Next Big Thing, I think, was the cell phone. It got a somewhat slow start, but once people realized they could have free long distance and dump all those special-code long-distance plans, and they could be in touch from ANYwhere, suddenly the cell phone was the accessory of choice. Texting and 'net connection came along, and cross-breeds like iPhones and CrackBerries jumped into play. The cell phone is now replacing the landline in many households. The worst thing that can happen to most people is losing that phone and its list of contacts. (No one knows their own phone numbers any more, let alone the boss's and Mom's.)

The GPS has also done this on a smaller scale. Many people now either have a standalone GPS in the car or a portable unit, or their cell phones have this capability. Yellow pages and maps that fold into origami cranes in the glove compartment have fallen by the wayside, and good riddance. Most travel can be better with that little voice saying, "Make a legal U-turn at the next opportunity."

E-readers are taking over from paper books and reference materials, at least with the under-50 crowd. We are seeing many people re-buying their entire libraries in e-form. This is such a coup it's comparable to the conversion from vinyl to CD to MP3, or the videotape to the DVD to the Blu-Ray. This is a way for content providers to re-sell new versions of all the old stuff PLUS all the new stuff. Score!

We've had a steady stream of good-sized Next Big Things, I would claim. The iPad or Android Tablet is the newest. Before that, though, the MP3 player/iPod single-handedly took down the monolithic music industry and all the great old record labels. Now people don't keep a houseful of CDs or vinyl records. They have a huge hard drive or memory stick, and they swap in and out their iTunes libraries and playlists as they feel ready to. Before that, everyone had to get a laptop to replace the old desktop clunker (which was a really HUUUGE Next Big Thing that changed business forever.)

So, anyway, I claim that we will not be able to climb out of the hole we're falling into by electing any particular person or party, or by creating jobs out of nothing, or by having more foreign wars. I claim that somebody will have to create the Next Big Doodad.

Why "doodad"? It needs to be something that all of a sudden EVERYONE *HAS* to have. Something like a portable teleporter, mind-reading device, time travel doohickey, flying car, or whatnot. (Let's leave aside the horrific chaos and end-of-world stuff that would occur if everyone could suddenly read everyone else's minds or teleport in a blink to any of various teleportation stations set up around the world. We know that fistfights would break out on the street as people had a passing thought about what a big booty the woman in front of them had, and that criminals would flash in, steal stuff, and then flash far away in an instant.)

Science fiction never expected the personal computer and cell phone and so forth in their present forms, and promised us instead that we'd have robots (to clean house, to do guard duty, for all kinds of tasks) and flying cars by now. We don't have the personal rocket jet pack, but we have all kinds of doodads that we now feel we could never live without. That's what we need now.

You see, when NBD comes along, it will create jobs! People will be needed to sell the item, stores will be rented or built to have customers come in and browse models and features, help desks or customer service phone lines have to be staffed, marketing and advertising types will be there to publicize and compete, factories full of people who run the factory builds of the item will flourish, websites will be designed and browsed, a bureaucracy will build up around it all, someone will write the documentation and then that "For Dummies" version as a book . . . wow! Employment! Selling! And thus people will get jobs and have disposable income that they will go out and spend, and suddenly every sector will be rollin' again until some other crappy war or whatnot comes along to burst the bubble.

What will the Next Big Doodad be? I couldn't guess. Something to do with health would really rock, such as the Star Trek healing probes and so forth. Or maybe something to do with robotics. Where is my Rosie the Robot to do my cleaning, cooking, and household stuff? The doodad can't be TOO big and expensive, though. We will have early adopters who'll pay a thousand just to be able to have the doodad first, but soon the price will drop to $700 and then $500 as more people decide to splurge or charge it. The price will hit $250 and a Wal-Mart version will come along. Then the prices on the street will go lower than that, and everyone will have a Doodad [TM]. Get one today! All your friends have one! It's the Next Big Thing!

Anyhow . . . get to work, scientists and engineers. I think we really, really NEED the NBT to come along, and hurry its butt while it's at it. We don't need to slip-slide even further away.

Meanwhile, buy one of my books. It's good for you.

"Nine out of ten doctors recommend my books. The tenth is a quack."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I PROMISE my readers these things


I will never kill off a pet or cute little animal, never. I will very seldom kill off a cherished character or little kid--a mystery does have to have a bodycount, but you'll usually hate the deserving victim beforehand.

I will never write silly stuff that is more suited for a comic book and makes readers yell, "Come ON!!" I will never have characters who are TSTL (too stupid to live) opening a door and going unarmed down into a dark basement where they know the monster lies in wait.

I will never have a scene with incest or abuse because that pushes too many people's buttons and would trigger symptoms in those with PTSD. If these things have happened to a character of mine, it has been kept offstage (something in the character's past that is only referred to and not dramatized). If I ever find it necessary to have a scene with rape, abuse, or whatnot, I will clearly label that story or book so that those who, like myself, prefer not to read such stuff can avoid it. I don't see any reason for all the gratuitous "thrill" stuff that supposedly "pushes the envelope" and is "gritty." Authors can evoke more appropriate and enjoyable emotions in their readers, and I think we should.

I will never have my characters knocked unconscious with rocks, baseball bats, and the like, only to awaken a few minutes later, rub their heads, and stand up to pursue their assailant again (possibly with a bit of unsteadiness, but no other ill effects.) You should know that ANY blow to the head can be fatal, ANY unconsciousness is a medical emergency, and CUMULATIVE blows to the head or concussions can do lots of brain damage. One blow is likely to cause a blood clot (hematoma) and can cause cerebral hemorrhage, stroke, brain damage, memory loss, and other problems. This is extremely unrealistic stuff that you read over and over in mysteries because it's convenient for the plot, but it models some really unwise behavior and things that do not happen in real life (such as standing right back up again without any problems), and it's a terrible thing for authors to use as a convenient plot device.

I will never write "what's selling now" because I couldn't spend that much time with such a novel. I write books I would like to read, that I wished I could find when I was a child and teenager, that I have wished I could find again as an adult. You might find my books have too much description and too little action for your current taste, but not everyone eats curry and not everyone prefers chocolate to vanilla.

If you loved any of these books as a teen/youngster, you might like APRIL, MAYBE JUNE by Shalanna Collins.

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E. L. Konigsburg
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

If you loved any of these books as a teen, you might like CAMILLE'S TRAVELS by Shalanna Collins.

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom

If you loved any of these books as a child or teen, you might like DULCINEA by Shalanna Collins.

Harry Potter (and the series) by J. K. Rowling
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (and the Narnia series) by C. S. Lewis
The Worst Witch by Diana Wynne Jones

I write for kindred spirits. If you like my work, you typically REALLY LOVE my work. And that's enough for me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Denise Weeks, mystery author, wins Dark Oak contest!


NOW it can be told!

No, not that prolific writer Shalanna Collins is the alter ego of author Denise Weeks. You already know that, if you have reached this blog. I'm like Nora Roberts with her alter ego J. D. Robb for mysteries. I have other news. NICE WORK, the first novel in my Jacquidon and Chantal Carroll mystery series, has won the Dark Oak Tree mystery contest and will be published by Oak Tree Press!!

This morning I got my contract by e-mail and an agreement to sign. I've signed, and the process to publish the book is in motion. It could be a Christmas release, but we're still in the preliminary stages of planning. As you probably know, traditional publishing (which this is) moves somewhat more slowly than the small YA/fantasy press I have worked with for my books (written as Shalanna Collins) DULCINEA, CAMILLE'S TRAVELS, and APRIL, MAYBE JUNE. (Oh, and of course LITTLE RITUALS, by Denise Weeks.) But perhaps this one will surprise us and not take as long. Stay tuned.

This series is the "Snoop Sisters" humorous and non-gory/not-so-dark line. It doesn't have the angst of the MARFA LIGHTS/Ariadne French series. What it does have, I hope, is a take on cozy/traditional mystery style that will appeal to fans of the Anne George "Southern Sisters" mysteries (much missed) and witty romps like the old Helen Hayes/Ruth Gordon "Snoop Sisters" television program.

One can dream. And sometimes one's dream can come true!

The Book's Own Blog:

Oak Tree Press Home

(They haven't announced the contest win yet, but I am told I can post about it now myself)