Ending Spy Week with a bang. And by “bang” I mean “giveaway.”

Beware The Hawk novellaOr more in keeping with my character’s dilemma, I’m ending Spy Week with a crunch.

Remember when I said I was having a hard time telling people what my book is about?  I’ve had to summarize my novella a lot of different ways since then, but if you get right down to it, it’s basically about a girl who is having a really bad day at work. A bad couple of days, actually.

So here’s the deal. If you’d like a copy of Beware the Hawk, leave a comment telling me about the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever had to do for work. And then ‘like’ my Facebook page, because I’m needy.

This contest will be active all Friday. Then I will put all your names into a fedora and pick two at random. I will send those winners copies of my e-book.

And if you’re not into all that? Click here to watch another spy with issues.

Also, I’m still hanging on for more beard submissions, folks. But I do have some awesome beard pictures that were sent in to me, so I will be posting about that later today.

Virtual book signing


The official release date was tomorrow, but I’m told that my  book, Beware the Hawk, is already available on Amazon.*  There will still be a lot of hubbub tomorrow – I’m starting my blog tour over at WordVagabond and the book will be available at Vagabondage Press (no relation), but this is like a soft opening.

Signing Pen

A mentor gave me this pen to use at my very first book signing. I was bummed that I wouldn't be able to use it - until now.

So, for those who have asked, Beware the Hawk is an e-book. This is awesome for lots of reasons – it’s easy to download, it stays in print forever, it doesn’t weigh anything and it’s not killing trees. In short, it’s kinda made of magic. But one thing you can’t do with an e-book? You can’t sign it.

That’s a bummer, because book signings are fun. One of my writers’ groups once published an anthology and held a book signing and it was amazing. I could have signed books all night. I considered coming home and signing every book in my bookshelves, but luckily my roommate at the time, (who was also in the writers’ group, but who also had books on the shelves that she probably didn’t want me to deface) distracted me.

I digress.

Anyhow, I was sort of saddened by the fact that there would be no book signing at first, and then, during a conversation on Facebook, I realized that I don’t need to have a physical book to have a signing. In fact I don’t even need to be in the same room with everyone to have a signing. Here’s the deal.

From now until next Monday (Jan. 23, 2012), people who buy the book can send me an email with their mailing address. I’ll send you an autographed Post-It that you can put on your Kindle, Nook or computer while you’re reading my book. Not very fancy, perhaps, but who doesn’t like getting mail that’s not a bill?

So, if you want your autograph, send your mailing addresses to annjoconnell<at>gmail<dot>com. (Just until Jan. 23. Because this week is a special week.)

Then keep an eye on that mailbox. Now, if only I could figure out how to do a virtual reading.

* If you want to help a woman out, get it from the Vagabondage Press site. Both the publishers and I get better royalties and you get the book in three formats. Also, why reward Amazon for releasing the book early?

Book update.

Beware The Hawk novellaHello folks. Just a brief Sunday post to let you all know that Vagabondage Press has a book page up now for my novella Beware the Hawk.

Here it is!

The page is up, but orders won’t be taken until Jan. 17. The publishers and I are reaching out to book bloggers now, and I’m trying to set up a blog tour.

I also want to thank everyone for the incredible amount of support I’ve been getting.  I’ve gotten shout-outs on people’s blogs and insane amounts of congratulations, people have liked my Facebook fan page. I’ve heard from a couple of reviewers. Someone even nominated me for a blog award. Someone else  promised me a glowing five star review on Amazon* without even having read the book. So generous. Thank you guys so much for all of your support so far. I’ve been blown away by all of your kind words. I was very nervous about promoting this book a week ago but you have set my mind at ease.

Okay – that’s it for now. Tomorrow I promise to return to writing confessionals and posts about ninjas, dwarf-maidens and my biological clock.

*I cannot tell a lie. I will not say no to a five-star review on Amazon. But I am told – by those who know such things – that reviews on Goodreads are taken more seriously by the reading public. That’s where the bookworms gather, which makes me feel a little left out, since I don’t have an account there.

Cover art is here! (as is a finalized publication date.)

I was going to write a nice, well-thought-out post about what I had finally decided to do about my New Years resolutions, but instead I’m just going to post these two things.

First, the publication of Beware The Hawk, is set for Tuesday, Jan. 17. Vagabondage Press will be releasing it as an e-book as you know.

Second, the cover art is here! I couldn’t help myself – I had to share. I am  disproportionately excited about this art. Knowing that someone else read the book and designed the cover based on what she read makes me feel like part of a team, and it also makes the fact that the book is being published that much more real. Maybe this is just a first-time author thing, though. Probably seasoned writers don’t lose their minds when they see the cover art for their latest release. I expect that Stephen King probably greets his new cover designs with a yawn and a shrug.

I’m not Stephen King, so I reacted to the unveiling of the cover art the way my dog reacts when she hears the word “walkie.”

Without further ado, here it is:

Continue reading

In which I bite the bullet and say what my upcoming book is about.

I often deliberately forget that I am having a novella published (in e-book form) in January.

The book is called “Beware the Hawk,” and it’s being published by Vagabondage Press and I really am very excited, but you’d never know it because over the Christmas holiday, I didn’t talk about it unless someone else brought it up. (Publishers, if you’re reading this, I am aware that this is not a viable marketing strategy.)

I think part of the reason that I push the book from my mind is this: people ask me what it’s about and – like Eminem in the opening scenes of 8 Mile – I choke.

I stammer something like “It’s about a girl, and spies. It’s funny. Well, I think it’s funny.” This is hardly the enthused, informative pitch I was taught in grad school to make. “What is it about” is a perfectly reasonable question; I’m the author and ought to know. But the question trips me up, maybe because I rarely think of a piece of my fiction as something that other people will read. For the most part, I doubt that the figments of my imagination will actually leave my hard drive and move out into the world.

I do have a couple of projects that are my golden children. If any of my work is published, I tell myself, it will be these privileged novels. I groom and prep them for publication. I submit them to my writers’ groups. I prepare myself to let them go.

“Beware the Hawk” was not one of these. I began writing “Beware the Hawk” when I was 23, worked on it with my very first writers’ group, and then – five pages from the end – abandoned the project when I was 25. I left it unfinished until this year. I was caught off guard by its acceptance this fall. To bring it back to the children metaphor: I expected it to grow up to be a drug dealer, but it’s surprised me by going to med school on scholarship.

Also there’s this – the characters and plot have been marinating in my brain for a decade. I’ve unconsciously built unmentioned back stories for each character. Like my houseplants, I neglected them, and they grew. The idea of summing up all of these thoughts and associations is daunting.

But not is not the time for such timidity. Now I must plot-summarize as if the devil himself were at my heels. The publishers tell me that the book will be out in the next three to four weeks, either on the 17th or on the 24th, and if I’m going to market it at all, I should learn how to describe it. The publishers have categorized it as a spy-satire, but I’ll need to be armed with a summary as I do the virtual book tour. With that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of ways to describe the contents of my novella.

“Beware the Hawk” is about:

i. …a young pink-haired Brooklynite who is a courier for a secret anti-government group, called the Resistance. She’s sent up to Boston to pick something up one night in winter, and everything goes wrong from the moment she steps off the Fung-Wah bus.

ii. …a young woman who desires to live outside society and its rules and who learns that this is not possible (particularly if one is fond of life in the city.)

iii. …making choices young and having to live with them.

iv. …failure.

v. …50 (virtual) pages long.

vi. …a girl, her iPhone, an inept co-worker, a hot mechanic and a leg injury.

Put all those together and that’s what it’s about, although I feel like a lot is still left out. Which is funny, since the book is only a 50ish page novella. No wonder J.K. Rowling unveiled her Pottermore website this year. Seven books and eight films and she still feels like she hasn’t adequately described the contents of her Harry Potter universe to us. Not that I’m going to be unveiling any “Beware the Hawk” web portals anytime soon.

I will however, be sharing the cover art with you. I got a peek at it tonight and I’m excited. The publishers will be sending the image to me just as soon as it’s finalized.

Published, or Can I get a “yay”?

So recently, this blog’s been a big ol’ mess of me complaining about things. Waah, Irene. Waaah, FEMA. Waaaah, writer’s block. Waaaaaaah, grocery shopping.

No more! I’ve stowed my box of Kleenex and called off the waahmbulance, because I’ve got some fabulous news. On Sunday, I received an email from Vagabondage Press, a small, independent publishing house. They will be publishing my novella “Beware the Hawk” (I think, technically, it’s a novelette) as part of their 2012 catalog!

What kind of book is it? Well, for my literary/MFA friends – it’s genre. It’s a spy thriller told in the first person by a strong female voice, and smartphones play a big role in the story. It’s set in Boston. For my family, I’m sorry – my protagonist drops a lot of F-bombs.

This is a piece I wrote years ago, when I was in my first writing group. One of the women in that writing group is a co-founder at Vagabondage. She asked to see the piece this summer.

I don’t have all the details yet, but I do believe “Beware” will be an e-book release. I’ll write more about that when I have more information.

Good lord. I’ve published short stories and poetry and countless news pieces, but this will make me the author of a book. This has been my goal since I discovered books as a child. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write and publish a long piece of fiction.

Now it’s about to happen, and I have this weirdly muted excitement going on. I continue to stress about other projects, and every once in a while, I have this burst of hysteria when I remember that I’m going to have a book published. Now it’s not my end-game. Now it’s something that’s going to happen next year.

But what’s weird is that I somehow never looked beyond that final goal of writing a book. As a kid, I never had any plans beyond that. I was going to write a book and then… what? Be rich and famous, I guess. (Ha!) But now, I find myself thinking, wow, I’m going to be published, and still going on with the process of querying, writing, readying my long manuscript for the eyes of an agent and researching. It feels like I’ve pushed beyond the boundaries of my childhood ambition. It’s no longer “I want to write a book when I grow up,” now it’s “I want to write for the rest of my life.” And it feels like I can do that. I’ve spent the last several years writing, and the last two writing very seriously, but being an author feels like an actual career option now.

This is actually the third – and most exciting – piece of good news I have to share. The first piece of good news is that Vagabondage is publishing one of my short stories in their final issue of their lit mag, The Battered Suitcase, which will be available Oct. 1, and also, that another short story, “Final Statements,” will be published by Independent Ink Magazine sometime soon. I don’t have a date for the Independent Ink release yet, but when I do, I will tell you all.

I’m off to go yell “Wooo!” in the middle of my street.