Monday, January 31, 2011

Who says minivans aren't sexy?

We're in the process of picking out a new vehicle and ... believe it or not, I think we're leaning toward a minivan. Yep, again.

Yes, I hear you. Our youngest just flew the coop to college. It's time to move into something sexier. I know.

But, think about it. There is nothing sexier than a minivan. Every time we drive it, we'll think of why we needed one in the first place: Because we had kids. And how do you get kids?? Uh-huh.

And think further... look at all that room. Flip down those seats and what do you have? Plenty of space for luggage! Just think of all the romantic trips we'll be able to take.

We can probably get to our destinations faster too. If a big luggy minivan and a red sportscar are both doing five miles over the speed limit - who do you think will get pulled over, hmm? Speeding tickets are not sexy. Arriving early at our weekend getaway is.

Okay, yeah, I know I'm stretching things here. But the truth is, I like the room. I love being able to get in and out without looking like a twit. Without making sounds like "ugchk" when I hoist myself up.

Forgetting sexy and thinking "family" for a moment - When the girls invite friends to join us on a family jaunt - to the zoo, the museum, a play, whatever - with a minivan we don't have to go in two cars. Three girls, three friends, and us. Is that perfect or what?

What have we learned today? Minivans are sexy. Minivans foster family-together-time. Minivans mean more vacations. Minivans don't make me look stupid trying to hoist myself in and out.

What more could a person ask for?

Coming up... the final decision on make/model/etc. We're still working those details out.

What do you think is sexier? White? Gray? Pearly smoke?
And what do you think about heated side-view mirrors? Wow. I think I may swoon...



Friday, January 28, 2011

Email signoffs. Weigh in, please!

I read "Ask Amy" in the Chicago Tribune every day. I love her down-to-earth, thoughtful responses and I generally agree with her advice.

Today, however, a reader wrote in to complain about email signoffs. He claimed to find the signoff: "Best" to be grating and pompous.

Amy agreed.

Somebody tell me what's wrong with "Best." I use it often - I see it as a safe, easy way to sign off on emails to friends, acquaintances who may eventually become friends, as well as business contacts.

At least I thought so until now.

Have I been unintentionally offending people all this time? The last thing I want to do is come across as grating or pompous.

What's your take on this?

Best always, and with warm feelings toward all,
Julie

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New ebooks, new names?

Now that I've tested the ebook waters with my first three novels, I'm planning to epublish some of my short stories, as well as a novel that garnered rave reviews from agents and editors, but couldn't find a home at a NY house.

I posted a dilemma on FB about using my "real" name for some of my less-than-cozy offerings, and I got lots of wonderful suggestions. I think I'll keep Hyzy, but I may change my initials. Savvy readers (and readers *are* savvy) will notice the distinction and I hope to carve out a slightly different author persona with the new titles.

All my Berkley books (all cozies) are available as ebooks via Kindle, Nook, etc. but the only backlist titles I have out there are these:
(I'll be adding permanent links to this blog soon)

I'm still in the process of editing, formatting, and designing covers for the new pieces (stay tuned) but coming up with alternative initials is a fun thing to do.

What do you think about N.C. Hyzy (as in "not cozy")?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Artwork

After many months without a computer, Robyn is finally able to upload her artwork again. Woo-hoo! Yeah, she's my daughter, but even if I weren't, I'd think she's awesome!

Check out the new pieces today: Robyn's blog

Friday, January 21, 2011

Southtown Star

My local newspaper, the Southtown/Star did a feature on me - showed up in yesterday's edition. How fun. I really like the photo. More books, less face! LOL

Anyway, lots of fun. The only teeny gripe I have (check it out) is that the story ends with a comma.

Here's the link: Southtown/Star

What's up with that? Did they leave off a line?
No idea. I wrote to Tony Baranek, but no word back from him yet.

When I saw the article, I ran out to my local bookstore to make sure they had Buffalo West Wing in stock.
Bad news: No.
Good news: it's because they sold out. They promised to order more.

Hey - did I mention that BUFFALO WEST WING hit #48 on the ABA bestseller list last week? Pretty cool, considering classics like FAHRENHEIT 451, LORD OF THE FLIES, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, and OUTLANDER are on that list.

I'm pretty darned thrilled!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Said it before and I'll say it again...

... and again and again and again, until it's pried out of my cramped hands.

Avery Aames, a friend of mine and blog-sister on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen (her post today: here) talks about the importance of reading manuscripts aloud before turning them in.

If there's one thing I insist on before any manuscript gets sent, it's my reading it aloud at least once before it goes. Both Buffalo West Wing (out now) and Grace Interrupted (coming in June) were read aloud multiple times. I think I hit three reads on both. Not positive. The most recent White House Chef book (just turned in -- no title yet) I read aloud twice.

Do I catch things? ALWAYS!

By the time I do my reading (hand me a glass of water, please. No, make it a pitcher!), I've usually caught consistency issues but I don't always pick up on those dreaded word echoes.

Avery mentions today (in the comments) that she found the word "back" four times in a short passage. I can't tell you how often that happens. While I'm writing, my brain often latches onto an unusual word and pops it in repeatedly. I usually catch these in the first couple of revisions, because it's unusual and it sticks out. It's the small, common, regular words that slip by. Words like "back" or "some" or "get" or "know." Uh-huh. That's where reading aloud makes all the difference.

Catch those slippery little buggers and cast them away!

When you're writing, do you find certain words pop for you? Does the word change depending on what you're writing, or do you have some that pop up all the time?


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Rumors of Ollie's (and WHCHef's) demise have been greatly exaggerated!

Twice within two days I've heard the same terrible rumor.

That I'm done writing the White House Chef novels.

That's news to me.

Number 4 - Buffalo West Wing - just came out.
Heck, with all the Tweeting and Newslettering and Facebooking I've been doing, I thought everyone knew (and was probably sick of seeing my name).

All of a sudden it seems everyone thinks BWW is the last one.

Nope!

I just turned in White House Chef #5 (the title is unconfirmed, but just wait 'til you see the trouble she gets into) - and I plan to start writing #6 in a few months.

A lot of people thought that the new Manor House series featuring Grace meant that Ollie was going away. But I love writing - love it so much I can bring out two books a year, one in each series (maybe I can even add another series ... who knows?)

Please help me spread the word:

Ollie is not going away any time soon.

She'll be nosing around in high-profile situations until 2013 - at least!

Thanks!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Character Contest - Winner!

For all of you who entered my contest this week - we have a winner!

JEN McE.

Congrats, Jen!!
If you see this, please give me a shout so I can send you your gift certificate.
Otherwise, I'll be in touch over the next couple of days.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

#Smashwords - Why I love them!

As I mentioned here before, I decided to publish my first three novels, Artistic License, Deadly Blessings, and Deadly Interest, as ebooks. All three had originally been published in hardcover and the first two also in trade pb, but they'd all gone out of print some time ago.

I set them all up on Smashwords at first, and eventually on Kindle too, but then I got so busy with deadlines that I lost sight of them. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that readers were downloading them -- a lot more than I'd expected.

But there was a glitch. For some reason, Artistic License (standalone romantic suspense and most popular of the three), didn't upload to BN.com. I couldn't figure out why it hadn't. It had uploaded everywhere else with no problem. I had no idea how to fix this, so I contacted Smashwords via their "Comments/questions/customer support? Click here!" link at the top of the page.

Imagine my surprise when Mark Coker - founder and CEO of Smashwords - emailed me. Like within a half hour of submitting my question. He gave me some suggestions and told me to contact him in two weeks if the title still wasn't up.

As it turned out, I got super busy and I let those two weeks (and more) slip by. But when I did contact him to tell him the ebook still wasn't up, he told me he wasn't about to give up on this and enlisted help from his end.

Within days, I could see that the first step had worked - Artistic License was redistributed. But, would it ever actually make it to BN.com?

I am delighted to report that it did!

I found it today - here - where it's ready to be downloaded and read by Nook owners everywhere!

Huzzah!!
Can you believe how great the folks at Smashwords are?
Fabulous.

Do I love Smashwords? You bet I do!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Of Giant Horseflies

My assumption is that Berkley didn't want to mess with a corporate trademark when they designed the buffalo with wings that decorate each of my new chapters in Buffalo West Wing.

But the buffalo with wings they came up with - cute as it was meant to be - inspires me (and my husband) to want to whack the page.

The best way to describe the little beasties? Giant horseflies.
Yup.

Even though nobody in the White House kitchen would be happy to encounter heavy horseflies hanging about, I don't think (fingers crossed) their presence at the beginning of each chapter will impact anyone's enjoyment of the story. Gosh, I hope not.

They're actually kind of fun now that I think about it. In a funny-looking way.

So, have you seen the giant horseflies hovering in Ollie's latest adventure? Do you have to resist the temptation to swat the book every time you come to a new chapter?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quick reader contest - BWW

Just a reminder that the "fast reader" contest ends Thursday at midnight!
Scroll down (just a bit) for contest guidelines and to find out how you could win a $10 bookstore gift certificate.

I've already received a lot of entries - I haven't been able to respond to each of you individually, though I really wish I could. I'll try to do so after the contest ends. I love reading your answers and right now, we have a clear new favorite character, but my lips are sealed about who that is until all emails are in.

Have fun!



Sunday, January 09, 2011

#Nook Book Glitch

Hi!

I've been getting a lot of emails asking me when Buffalo West Wing will be available on Nook. Guess what? It is available. There's a misprint (more like misinformation) on the BN.com site for the paperback version. It says that a Nookbook version isn't available and to contact the publisher to let them know you want one.

But...

There *is* a Nookbook version available here. For some reason it stands alone on searches but isn't linked to the paperback page. Why is that?

I asked my publisher to look into it, but I'm sure I won't hear anything for a while.

In the meantime, if you know any readers who have Nooks, please let them know it's there. Just kinda sorta hidden.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Buffalo West Wing - Contest for quick readers!



This one is for all you fast readers out there who devour books
as fast as you get your hands on them!

I want to send one lucky winner a $10 bookstore gift certificate
to feed your reading habit!

How to win it?

Simply email me JulieHyzy (at) gmail (dot) com -- put CHARACTER or CONTEST in the subject. In the body of your email, answer a question (or two):

1) Who is your favorite *new* character in Buffalo West Wing?

2) Why is he/she your favorite of the newbies?

(I really love to know how readers relate to new characters, so this is enormously helpful for me!)

Answer one question, you're entered once. Answer both, you're entered twice.
It's that easy.
There's no right or wrong answer. A winner will be chosen at random. No matter which of the newbies you love (or love to hate), just providing an answer gets you in the running. (BTW, there's one character we haven't seen since book #2. If he's your favorite, that's fine too.)

ENTER BY MIDNIGHT JANUARY 13, 2011
I will announce the winner sometime on Friday, January 14, 2011

I'll announce a winner here and at MysteryLoversKitchen. So many of you have emailed to let me know they've already read it, so I thought this would be a perfect way to pick your brains before I start book #6 (#5, as yet unnamed, is done).

Thanks in advance, and happy reading!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Chicago Tribune Feature!

Woo-hoo!! I'm in the Chicago Tribune's book section today! Yep, I knew it was coming but I didn't actually have the newspaper in my and until this morning when it showed up on my driveway. Wow, the photo is *huge!*

So excited! I've always dreamed of making it into a Trib feature, and I have to thank Julia Keller for a fun interview - she talks about Buffalo West Wing, all the White House Chef books, the new Manor House series and both MysteryLoversKitchen.com and KillerCharacters.com. I also want to thank Zbigniew Bzdak for his photographic skills and patience! He was such a blast to work with!

Please check out the Chicago Tribune today. Or, if you don't get the Trib where you live - the article is online here.

Woo-hoo!! Dreams do come true!!