She's a Writer, Artist, Publisher...

After a Lifetime in Large Urban Areas, this West-Coast Urban Girl has moved to the Country to start a New Life in a Small Town in Vermont... Watch her bumble her way and conquer!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Origin of the P&P Club...

Today, over at Austen Authors, I blog about high school!

"Five Schoolgirls and the P&P Club"

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, David Rintoul... such is the stuff of many an impressionable schoolgirl's dreams. :-)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

PRIDE AND PLATYPUS - NEW Excerpt - First Three Chapters!

I am thrilled to be a part of the Austenesque Extravaganza, a celebration of all things Jane Austen, hosted all this month of August by the wonderful Meredith Esparza.

My contribution to Touring Thursday #4 is a brand new, never previously revealed excerpt of Chapters Two and Three of Pride and Platypus: Mr. Darcy's Dreadful Secret! (Chapter One has been unveiled earlier.)

And now... Read all the complete and uncut hilarious first three chapters below!


Chapter 1

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that when the moon is full over Regency England, the gentlemen are all subject to its curse.

It is a peculiar monthly Affliction inducing them to take on various unnatural shapes—neither quite demon, nor proper beast—and in those shapes to roam the land; to hunt, murder, dismember, gorge on blood, consume haggis and kidney pie, gamble away familial fortune, marry below their station (and below their stature, when the lady is an Amazon), vote Whig, perform sudden and voluntary manual labor, cultivate orchids, collect butterflies and Limoges snuff boxes, and perpetrate other such odious evil—unless properly contained.

And thus, as the first pale rays of Selene’s silver sphere illuminate the celestial velvet of the night, they turn—baronets and dukes, earls and marquises, counts and princes, lords and squires high and low, regardless of fortune—shedding skin and inhibitions, breaking bones and genteel habits (and fine china and porcelain), distending into strange unnatural musculature and contorting into bestial forms, growing nails and claws and teeth; fur, scales, feathers, gristle, hide, or peculiar additional appendages; becoming monstrous beings of savagery and grim wonder.

Woe to any who might encounter them thus! And woe a thousandfold to any who might in such a state encourage them!

Fortunately, as a rule, the gentlemen are safely restrained indoors for their transformation. They are locked up discreetly, in deep cellars or family crypts, caged behind thick iron bars and swaddled in heavy links of chain in custom bedrooms and parlors and hidden estate alcoves. Some are even bound and manacled to stone walls of ancient dungeons converted for just such use—while being closely observed and ministered to by their closest kin or loyal servants.

For as long as the devious pallid orb illuminates the night heavens, they remain thus. And only the golden rays of Helios, the bright luminary of morning, can return them to their human form. . . .
Alas! There is no antidote for this manly Affliction. There is no succor or respite, from month to month. And there are no exceptions. Indeed, even the regent himself is not immune.

All that remains is for the pious to pray, and for the ladies to speculate—for it is a rare amusement indeed to discuss the advantages of each gentleman based on the supposed nature of his Affliction (and manner of private confinement), in conjunction with the more pleasant expectations of his income and inheritance.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Stand on Self-Promotion

From a recent discussion on my Facebook status (prompted by yet a thousandth semi-stranger sending me a crass self-request to "Like" them, or their professional/fan page), it is important to underscore why I am so PASSIONATE about promotion METHODS, as opposed to being in any way against promotion itself (ridiculous! I love and support promotion by all).

In a nutshell -- as someone who had to FIGHT DESPERATELY, tooth and claw, for DECADES, to promote my books (which were given absolutely no publisher support, and worse, were neglected or detrimentally held back by publishers) on my own dime, through misfortune and hell, with self-promotion as is the ONLY TOOL at my disposal... going to superhuman efforts to be polite and do it with class, and STILL hearing relentless criticism from others all throughout (how DARE she even mention or, God forbid, promote, her books?), I am now an expert on the subject.

And as an expert, gone through the fire, I WILL NOT tolerate crass methods from others.

Promotion is a fine art.

Done right it is pleasant to all, invisible as such, and achieves its means.

Unfortunately most of it does not fall under the ideal category. Due to varying degrees of ignorance, laziness, or disrespect for other people, those who engage in self-promotion choose to take little-to-no effort to make their methods socially acceptable.

This is especially true now, when everyone is suddenly doing it, and those of us who have been in it for a long time are faced with raging cluelessness that can adversely affect all of our precarious reputations as solid respectful professionals, and harm our collective efforts through this influx of poor habits and lack of skill and basic human tact.

Yes, this is the age of publishers reducing (and in many cases cutting off entirely) their allocated resources for promotional support of their mid-list and non-bestselling authors, when publishing itself is undergoing grand change, with the advent of ebooks and internet distribution. Authors both new and established are self-publishing in droves, releasing originals and re-issuing their classic backlist. And... "promoting."

Promotion is no longer a dirty word but a sad, Limburger-"smelly" necessity. But, why is is "sad?" Because we still think of promotion as fundamentally evil...

...when it doesn't have to be.

Indeed, the decades-old ingrained stigma remains, and eats at us, reinforcing poor habits by people who think "it's all crap anyway, so it all does not matter how I do it."

For that reason, now is more important than ever to re-think self-promotion and give it respectability and a 21st century facelift.

After all, this is not your Grandma's Self-Promotion. This is now "The Way We All Sell Books."

But, how to achieve this rehabilitation when so much in the way of poor promo habits still remains, and comes pitifully knocking on our social networking accounts with horrible "requests," like a poor little girl scout selling those damned cookies?

Furthermore, because of the oh-so-many poor habits (or lack of awareness, and even lack of will), ALL self-promotion is still perceived as crass and revolting by the population at large, and often for good reason.

This hurts those of us who want to do the right thing and promote with our hearts, not our greed.

Let me introduce the metaphor of the fancy restaurant chef HATING fast food. Why does a chef hate fast food? Because it's all in the METHOD.

Note, a chef does not hate FOOD; indeed, she or he LOVES and values it it to such an extent that cheap, low quality, or poorly prepared food, is an OFFENSE against everything the good chef stands for -- against everything they worked years to achieve and perfect (sometimes with hands tied behind their back by lack of resources, but always thinking of the purest, best ways to practice their art).

A shoddy, crappy method of food preparation and presentation is the equivalent of low-level self-promotion.

Poorly done self-promotion is MORE offensive to those of us "chefs" who take pride in our promotion efforts than to the average person who does not engage in it.

As you can see I am very passionate about this subject.

I've practiced my art, with hands tied behind my back by dire circumstances. Over the years, I have also written how-to articles, given talks, gladly shared my experience with others, and run a Yahoo List "Publicity and Self-Promotion for Writers."

In my time I have run the gamut of "making mistakes" to "going wild and out on a limb" to "doing things perfectly right," but I have always acted with CONSIDERATION for other people.

And that's the one true secret of classy promotion.

How to know what to do and what not to do?

Simple: think. Use your instinct. And use your heart.

Put yourself in the place of the recipient and think how it would affect you on the receiving end of any such promo.

Now, go out there, learn everything you can, be subtle, gentle, yet relentless, and then self-promote to your heart's content, but remember -- use your brain for logistics, but use your heart first, for everything else.

Fifth Anniversary of Norilana Books!

Goodness, has it been so long?

August 3, 2011 marks the Fifth Anniversary of Norilana Books!

Go look! :-)

The Great Escape of Jane Austen

I blog today at Austen Authors:

"The Great Escape of Jane Austen" by Vera Nazarian.

Check it out... :-)

NEW! - Ebook - The Clock King and the Queen of the Hourglass

New in Ebook . . .

A far future "dying earth" science fantasy tale about identity,
erotic desire, flying water and a mystery...

The Clock King and the Queen of the Hourglass
by Vera Nazarian

Ebook Edition in various DRM-Free formats:

Download Now, for $2.99!

The Great California to Vermont Trip Report - PART 5

...Read Part One Here...

...Read Part Two Here...

...Read Part Three Here...

...Read Part Four Here...


Although it was a nice room and all was quiet, I wasn’t getting any decent sleep at all, probably from nerves and the fact it was the last day of our trip, so I was up around 8:00 AM. Mom wasn’t really sleeping either, we got ready with the usual, walked the dogs past lots of nice older folks -- the hotel was filled with retirees, it seemed, all on their summer vacations. Then I went to the breakfast area (also filled with older people eating, this felt like a senior center!), got some juice hot water, bagels and Danish took it back to our room for mom and me. The hotel was being renovated in part and the breakfast room was downstairs in an obscure corridor, hard to find.

Then we started the usual loading process (just in time before a maid got to our room to clean), and when I was rolling out the cart with cat cages to the car, an older couple really seemed to enjoy seeing the cats. The older man stopped and asked us what was up, and I said we were moving cross-country. He really liked out cats!

The Great California to Vermont Trip Report - PART 4

...Read Part One Here...

...Read Part Two Here...

...Read Part Three Here...


We woke up in the morning around 10:00 AM or 11:00 AM, I went downstairs to grab us some hot water, and the free breakfast time was pretty much over, but I did manage to snag some orange juice from the kitchen dispenser.

We walked the dogs, insulined Charlie, loaded the cat cages on the cart and this time there were lots of people and kids in the halls and elevator, going to and from the pool, and they were staring at the cats in cages. One little boy in particular, with his parents, was just amazed, would not stop staring at the cats, asked their names, and looked very interested.

In the elevator I noticed there was yellow pee on the floor -- apparently someone else's dogs did not behave as well as ours.

The Great California to Vermont Trip Report - PART 3

...Read Part One Here...

...Read Part Two Here...


We woke up sorta around 10:00 AM and I honestly don't remember much of the tediousness, except the usual packing up, shower, animal feeding, giving Charlie insulin, walking dogs around the morning motel. Robin pooped on the grass and we picked up after him.

Then, before checkout time I went in to the front desk to settle the bill, and asked the lady there for a small extension of time so we could pack up, she said, "OK, to take another 45 minutes or so."

Somehow mom and I were moving around so slowly, that we took longer, and the cleaning ladies were walking everywhere around us, giving us looks. Then the motel owner lady came out and sort of reprimanded us for taking so long (close to an hour and a half instead of 45 minutes), since she was paying the maids for their time, she said, etc. So mom and I panicked and started to rush, and we were just throwing things in the car, and I was putting the cats away, and a I carried Johnny to his cage, he went absolutely limp in terror and peed on the front of my t-shirt… with the most smelly, concentrated urine possible (he hadn't been drinking, hardly any water over these last few days).


The Great California to Vermont Trip Report - PART 2

...Read Part One Here...

It occurred to me only after half an hour into the trip that mom and I were in such a state we'd forgotten to say goodbye to the old house, or to even do a drive-by to look at it one last time. The Russian custom in saying goodbye to a place, and also before embarking on a trip, is to formally sit down, even for a couple of seconds, officially (everyone present has to do it), then get up and go.

We'd done it when leaving Russia. We totally forgot to do it this time.

Oh well...

The first 30 or so familiar miles were still in the city, driving the 101 to the 134 E to the 210 E toward San Bernardino county out of LA County, passing my alma mater Pomona College in the dark, and feeling weird and dislocated and utterly homeless and driven to move forward, with cats screaming in the back, and dogs shifting around, and mom in a furious semi-shock. There was some lighted road work on the 210, familiar California cities flashing by in the dark, then we finally ended up, thanks to the very nice directions of the GPS, on the I-15 headed toward Las Vegas.

Here is where the freeway road got to be a narrow four lane highway (two in each direction) and very dark.

The Great California to Vermont Trip Report - PART 1

Vermont Trip Report


It's hard to know where to start this telling. It’s not just a trip report, but a great migration.

No, a Great Migration -- the second one in my lifetime.

As many of you know, the story itself started at least four years ago when I began the struggle with Countrywide (which then became Bank of America) to get my mortgage loan modified, and then in January of this year, a final denial and notice of impending foreclosure. (If curious or unfamiliar with the details of my ordeal, you can read it starting here.)

I only mention this because we started packing soon after, slowly and unbelievingly at first, and then over the coming weeks and months (February to June) with more frantic haste and despair.

It is a kind if madness to suddenly be told that you have to pick up everything and get out of your house for which you've fought for most of your life. Here's your American Dream that you achieved with superhuman labor, and now, screw you, let it go.