Sunday, May 31, 2009
Red Sage is celebrating it's 15th birthday this month, and to celebrate, they're launching a contest to allow the participates to compete to win some wicked yummy free books!
Here's how to Play:
Invite your readers and friends to send an email with the subject line “Ransom Note” to eRedSage@gmail.com. Inside this email, they must include a link back to your kidnapped logo.
Then you and your friend will both be entered into a drawing to win free trade paperbacks! Every time one of your readers sends a ransom note with a link, you will be entered again! Each Ransom Note is worth two entries in the drawing -- one for the person who sends the Ransom Note, and one for the linked blog or website. And you both can win!
Want more chances to win? Invite your readers and friends to kidnap this logo, and then you can enter again by sending a Ransom Note linking to your friend’s blog or website!
The more times you enter, the more chances you have to win!
Group blog or website? No problem! Just be sure to sign your post so we know who the winner should be!
Good luck, and have fun!
Friday, May 29, 2009
"Marsha, I love you."
"No, John, you don't!"
"But I do! Really!"
"Oh. Well. Then I guess I love you, too."
"So let's get married."
"Yes, Let's do."
More specifically, writing emotions. Ought to be a piece of cake. After all, who hasn't felt mad, happy, afraid, or in love?
"If you're a romance writer who relies on emotional words carry your character's journey, then chances are you've failed at youre genre." (paraphrased from author/editor Alicia Rasley)
Yeah, I know. She's right. Blows, doesn't it?
Writing realistic depictions of emotion that spring to life on the page is one of most difficult lessons to learn as an author. Yet, there is no more important lesson to learn, particularly for those who want to write moving love stories.
I was fortunate enough to attend a day conference a while back presented by editor/author Alicia Rasley. She's a brilliant teacher, and certainly lives up to her reputation for holding her audience in the palm of her hand.
Much of our discussion was about emotion in writing. I walked way with two "aha" moments, particulary when it comes to building up to those dramatic, emotional moments that define love stories.
1) Trust your reader's intelligence. Never. Ever. Spoon feed.
2) Remove the emotional words from your scene and try again. Once done, you are forced to rely on your character's actions to carry the emotion.
Ah, now we're back to the wisdom we should have learned from our writing 101, but may have forgotten---action is everything, baby. And once again, I'm leaning on a classic movie clip to distract you guys from the fact that this post is woefully short on content because...I'm on deadline. :)
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I remember the first time I was forced to write a synopsis. Frankly, it was hell! I had just completed my very first manuscript, been "dared" to submit it and had spent about a week researching this whole submission thing. To my horror, I discovered I was expected to write a synopsis of my 150,000 word manuscript, which, depending upon individual submission requirements, had to be anywhere between 10 pages, right on down to 1 page.
Gasp! One freaking page? You gotta be kidding me!
To cut a long story short, it took me about a month to "perfect" (hah!) a 10 page synopsis and I ended up doing it by writing a paragraph summary of each chapter and then painstakingly cutting back and cutting back until I had a somewhat cohesive synopsis. Ah the pain and agony of it all! What to leave in? What to leave out?
Then I did the same again, deleting deleting and deleting, until I was left with various file versions in various lengths, which I could use in my queries depending upon the individual agent/editor submission requirements. Of course the pain didn't end there. Then I had to boil it down to a paragraph-long "pitch".... not to mention getting my query letter down to one page.
Honestly? I look back at those early efforts and I cringe.
These days, I've had enough good feedback from writing contests that I'm confident I can toss off a pretty darn good synopsis. But as we writers know, it doesn't end there. There's the one sentence "high concept" to master, too. Here's some of the short pitches/high concepts I've come up with for my single-title length unpublished works. Feel free to critique, as these -- as always! -- are still very much works in progress.
The Seers trilogy
Seer's Hope: What if you were a blind woman who's been transported to a primitive world where people insist you're a Seer with supernatural powers?
Hope's Children: With ultimate power comes ultimate sacrifice, so be careful what you wish for.... Be very careful indeed.
Soul-Mate: He crossed between worlds to find his soul-mate. Now he must choose between the love of his life or the lives of his people.
The Crystal Warriors series
Chalcedony's Warrior: She’s a dancer who’s sworn off men — the most important thing in her life right now is making her dance studio a success. He’s a cursed warrior with delectable pectorals. In a moment of weakness, she lets him seduce her.... Now they’re magically bonded and his life is in her hands.
Ruby's Dream: A plus-sized woman with squashed self esteem, bonded to a leather-clad male Adonis? The Crystal Guardian’s really got his work cut out for him this time!
Jade's Choice: A young woman, fighting to keep the shreds of her family intact, is bonded to an alien Crystal Warrior who’s still in love with the woman who refused him two decades ago.
Elemental Riders series
When Lightning Strikes: What if you died in a lightning strike, then were brought back to life and found you were sharing your body with the alien who rode the lightning bolt which killed you?
Scent Of A Man: What if you were born into a fanatically religious world that rigidly enforces chastity but overnight you became a God-forsaken monster who was completely irresistible to women?
Freaks Of Greenfield High: As if being the only Goth freak at high school isn’t dire enough, what if the hot new boy, who’s totally into you, is a cyborg struggling to cope with human emotions?
Hmmm. Definitely need to do some more work on those!
Okay, now for the fun part. How about I refer you to a website which will show you a bunch of incredible 30 second summaries of popular movies?
The entire plot of Twilight summarized in a 30 second video? No probs.
March Of The Penguins? Too easy!
What about Star Wars, Terminator, Jaws? You gotta see it to believe it.
Well, I'd like to introduce you to:
Angry Alien Productions have an extensive library of 30-second theater productions and believe me, these guys are truly experts in the fine art of 30-second summaries. Not only that, but the stars of their productions are.... Nope. Not gonna spoil the surprise for you. Click on the link and see for yourself!
Warning: I'd advise against holding a hot drink while you watch these, because you ARE going to laugh--no doubt about it.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
For me, there’s something incredibly sexy about a man in uniform. So far, all of my heroes have a military background. Yes, the uniform is sexy, but the fact that a person is willing to sign up and fight and possibly die for their country is what’s sexy as hell. I have the utmost respect for men (and women) who voluntarily give of themselves for what they believe to be a greater cause. I can’t help but roll my eyes when I see so much stock put into which Hollywood star is screwing who or who’s cheating on who because it’s utterly ridiculous and in the big scheme of things, no one will remember or care.
I’ve spent more than enough holidays without my husband at home but at least he eventually made it back to me. So many of his friends never made it and it’s something I didn’t completely comprehend until not too long ago when we were sifting through our boxes of pictures, attempting to organize. I found a bunch of photos of people I didn’t recognize and immediately asked him about it because I thought I knew all his friends. The second after I asked the question however, I wanted to take it back because I knew what the answer would be. Neither of us are even thirty, yet he’s lost more people close to him than I can imagine losing in a lifetime.
If you know anyone who is or was in the military, say thanks for their service and don’t limit it to once a year!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
WGW author liason, Deb Meredith's in depth interview with Rhyannon Byrd
Rhyannon, welcome to Leah’s Literary Lair/Deb’s Book Nook. We are so happy you could take time to chat with us.
Thanks so much for inviting me. :) It’s an absolute pleasure to be here!
Please tell us a bit about yourself. Your background, family, etc.
My friends tell me that I have wings on my feet because I’ve always moved around so much, especially in the last few years. Growing up, I spent my time going back and forth between the Deep South and Southern California. Then, I married a Brit, and we’ve not only done a lot of hopping around America, but back and forth between the States and England as well. We moved back to England last year, and have fallen in love with our new hometown so much that we never want to move again. So I think we’ll be here for a long time to come. My husband and I have two adorable children who constantly keep us on our toes, and who love all things Star Wars, Twilight, and Harry Potter. We also have two mischievous dogs—a Rottweiler and a Beagle—who not only think that they’re human, but in charge as well. Our house is always a little crazy…and never quiet, so I spend a lot of time working with my headphones on, listening to my iPOD while I write. Music has always been a big part of my inspiration, and my writing playlists currently include a lot of Tori Amos, Kings of Leon, Pearl Jam, Laura Marling, and Jason Mraz.
For our readers unfamiliar with your books, please tell us what kind of books you write.
I would say that I write deeply sensual romances in a variety of genres, but I think there are certain elements that all of my books have in common. For one, they are always very character-based, with the romance working as the central element. Emotion also plays a vital role in my work, as well as a strong buildup of sexual tension…and when the moment hits, the love scenes are sure to be high on the heat scale. I love writing about tough, sexy Alpha males who find their heads spinning, and their hearts tumbling when they meet that one special woman who can make them complete. And while I often enjoy creating worlds that are dark and dangerous, I also get a kick out of adding a certain element of humor now and then. It’s great to keep readers on the edge of their seats…or reaching for the ice water, but it’s also a wonderful feeling to know that you gave them a laugh as well.
You have a fantastic new series, Primal Instinct, that’s just been released with Harlequin. There are three books in this new series, and the first, EDGE OF HUNGER, just released in April. Please tell us about this exciting new series and how it came about. I’ve loved what I’ve read so far!
Thanks, Deb! When I first began working on the Primal Instinct series, I knew that I wanted to take this world a step beyond anything I’d ever written before. I still wanted the main focus to be the romance, since that’s what I truly love to write, but I also wanted to create a supernatural world for these characters that was rich in action and suspense, which in many ways was new ground for me. I’ve always enjoyed paranormal world-building, but I really wanted to use this series to push myself and see just what my imagination could come up with. I began with a familiar paranormal concept, saying that shape-shifters and vampires do live hidden among us…and then took it a step further, asking myself, “But what if there was something more?” And once I asked that question, others quickly followed. What if these familiar paranormal characters were only a small part of a past that included a whole collection of races that were something “other” than human? What if some of these races still lived among us, under the watchful eye of a secret organization? What if others stayed secluded in remote parts of the world, hidden away from our curious eyes? And what if some of the bloodlines were now dormant, waiting for the day when they might be reawakened? But the question that fascinated me the most was what one of us would do if we found that the blood of one of these ancient races dwelled within our own bodies. How would we react if we discovered that we were something so much more than human? That’s the question that Ian Buchanan, the hero in EDGE OF HUNGER, has to tackle, along with the other members of his family. The series is definitely dark and edgy, but it’s also rich with a variety of characters and relationships that lead to a truly emotional experience.
The second book in the series, EDGE OF DANGER, has just released on May 1st, and I understand that the third book, EDGE OF DESIRE, will be released in June. How exciting to have these released so close together! Can you tell us about these two books and how they connect with the first book in the series, EDGE OF HUNGER?
The great thing about writing a trilogy is how closely you can tie the books together, easily weaving from one intricate storyline to the next. This first trilogy in the Primal Instinct series tells the stories of the three Buchanan siblings, with Ian’s story starting things off in EDGE OF HUNGER. In Book 2, EDGE OF DANGER, the storyline continues with Ian’s sister, Saige, while Book 3, EDGE OF DESIRE, gives us their brother Riley’s story. I love writing about families, exploring the way related characters can be so alike, and yet so different from one another, and this was so true of the Buchanans, who find themselves going through life-altering changes during the course of the trilogy. Though they each experience their own awakening of the primal, ancient blood that lives within them, the way they handle the changes in their lives are unique, each experience affected not only by their personal demons and beliefs, but by the circumstances that have shaped their lives.
Your previous Nocturne series, Bloodrunners, was fabulous and received rave reviews. I know I loved it. Tell us a bit about this series and is it still available for purchase?
Thanks so much! I’m having such a wonderful time with my Bloodrunners and can’t wait to give the supporting characters stories of their own. I have nine books in all planned for the series, so there will be three separate trilogies. The next trilogy is going to be about the Drake siblings and their mates, and hopefully readers are looking forward to who’ll be paired with who. ;) The last trilogy will take place a few years down the road, allowing some of the younger characters in these first books to get a bit older before having their own stories. One of the things I’m most excited about is giving readers a glimpse of the original characters in these later books, which should be a lot of fun!
Although the books have sold out in the States, they’re available in print again, through the Mills & Boon Intrigue line here in England. Readers can actually order the Mills & Boon editions through Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. The books are also available in eBook on the Harlequin website, as well as at Fictionwise.
How did you get started in your writing career? Was this something you have always dreamed of or did it evolve gradually? Are you a full time author now or do you work an outside job too?
Writing is something that I always wanted to do—and I even studied literature and writing in college—but it wasn’t until I was staying at home with my children that I finally stopped “talking” about writing a book and actually did it. My kids are older and in school now, and I’m wonderfully blessed to be able to write full-time for a living at home. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I think that’s why I became so interested in writing stories of my own one day. Writing romance was a natural choice for me, because I’m one of those readers who can completely lose themselves in the pages of a love story, crying and laughing right along with the characters. To me, the intense emotions and the compelling characters that you find in romances have always been fascinating, and writing my own stories became a natural extension of my love for this genre.
How long did it take you to become published? What was your first published work and when did it come out?
The first publishing house I ever submitted to was Ellora’s Cave, and I was extremely lucky to have them take an interest in my work so quickly. My first title, WAITING FOR IT, released back in March of 2004, followed immediately by MAGICK MEN I: A SHOT OF MAGICK that April. It was such a wonderful, supportive environment to be a part of, and I learned so much from my fellow EC authors, who are a truly remarkable, talented group of writers.
Has anything been different than you expected since you have been published? The promo, signings, anything? Is there anything you would change on your road to publication if you were doing it again?
I think one of the biggest surprises for me has been how easy it is to get out there and interact with readers. I’m horribly shy, and was truly TERRIFIED the first time I ever went to a booksigning. It was just a few months after my first book had come out with EC, and I thought I would sit there frozen with anxiety, but it ended up being one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. And as far as anything that I would change on my road to publication, I think the main thing would be to start earlier. I spent a lot years “thinking” about writing my own stories, before I actually found the courage to do it.
How many books do you have out now and are they all with the same publishing house? Please tell us what books you have with each publisher.
When I read this question, I’m embarrassed to say that I had no idea of the answer. LOL. But after having gone to my website, where I counted the titles, I can tell you that I’ve written 17 books for HQN Books, Harlequin Silhouette and Ellora’s Cave.
Edge of Craving, April 2009
Edge of Hunger, April 2009
Edge of Danger, May 2009
Edge of Desire, June 2009
Harlequin Silhouette/ Nocturne line:
Last Wolf Standing, March 2008
Last Wolf Hunting, April 2008
Last Wolf Watching, May 2008
Half Wild (written with Madison Hayes)
Alpha Romeos (written with Madison Hayes)
Horn of the Unicorn
A Little Less Conversation
Down & Dirty anthology ~ Second to None
Magick Men II: A Bite of Magick
Against the Wall
Magick Men 1: A Shot of Magick
Waiting For It
How many different genres do you write and do you have a favorite? If so, what about that genre appeals to you?
I’m currently writing paranormals for Harlequin, but I’ve also written contemporary erotic romances, as well as erotic fantasy and futuristic titles that are co-authored with the brilliant Madison Hayes. If I’m working on a series, I love to do paranormals, and I would say that paranormal romance is my favorite genre. I think that what I really love about paranormals, aside from the darkly sensual heroes, is the freedom that comes from dreaming up new, intriguing worlds for my characters to live in. This is such a great genre because it allows an author so much freedom, not only with the world-building aspect of a story, but with the dynamics of the characters themselves. I’m currently working on the 4th book in the Primal Instinct series, which is about a gorgeous, cynical, human-hating shapeshifter who finds himself falling head-over-heels for a very human, very shy kindergarten teacher. When I think about how much fun I’m having with these two star-crossed characters and their passionate love story, I realize how lucky I am to be able to do something I love so much for a living.
What kind of writer are you? An organizer plotter and outliner or a bit more relaxed in your writing style?
I’m trying to be more organized in my approach to writing, but it definitely doesn’t come naturally to me. One of the things I’ve learned is that every writer has their own style and way of approaching a project, and though it always helps to keep things as organized as possible for your sanity, you really have to work in the way that’s best for you. For instance, I never sit down and start a book on page one, then power on until I’ve reached the end. When a story comes to me, the scenes unfold themselves more like a movie in my mind, and I rush to get down as much of what’s “playing” as I can before it disappears. I usually end up with a bare framework of chapters—which are often significant scenes of dialogue between the hero and heroine—and then go back through and add to each chapter in layers, building the story through a series of passes.
How do you keep up with the pertinent details of your books? They are so rich in details and I would have a terrible time keeping them all straight. Do you use a notebook or spreadsheet to keep all your facts straight?
I’m hopeless with spreadsheets, but can easily confess to having a large collection of notebooks! LOL. I have notebooks where I write down names that I love, as well ones for my different series, where I keep track of everything pertaining to the world and the characters. While I’m writing a book on my computer, I’ll usually have stacks of paper surrounding me, and will constantly be jotting down notes to myself so that I can keep everything straight.
Have your characters ever taken off in a direction you hadn’t planned and what does that do for your story? Do you let them get by with it?
I think this probably happens a lot, and I always try to go with the natural growth of a character. Creating my characters is one of my favorite aspects of writing, and I especially love to see how they grow through a story as they interact with the people around them. It’s often the surprises that come along that can truly make a character compelling, so I try not to fight them when they decide to take things in a new direction. And sometimes it’s not until you’ve invested some time in a character that you truly begin to understand exactly what it is that makes them tick. I think it’s always fun at the end of a story to look back at what a character was like in the beginning and see how the events of the story have changed them.
What do you do for fun? Do you have a hobby or collection you would like to share with our readers?
Since we’ve moved to England, I love just getting out and visiting places that I’ve never been to before. We do a lot of sight-seeing, but still have so many places that we want to visit. I’m desperate to go to Italy and France, and I’m also looking forward to spending some time up in Scotland. Luckily, my husband and kids love to travel as well, so it’s something that the whole family enjoys doing together.
When we’re at home, I’m usually working, but I’ll always take a break to catch an American football game or a Formula-One race. I’m pretty much a football fanatic and actually have a life-sized poster of Peyton Manning on the wall in my living room and a signed photo on my desk. They were birthday gifts from my husband a few years ago, along with a Manning jersey that I absolutely love, even if it does come all the way down to my knees. LOL.
Are you a big reader and do you find time to read with your busy schedule? Please share some of your favorite authors and books with us.
I’ve always been an avid reader and consider my books one of my most prized possessions. Every time we move, there are boxes and boxes of books because I can’t stand to let go of any of them, and I often go back and reread my favorites again and again. I’m notorious for doing this with Linda Howard titles, and if I had the time, I think I could hide away for days with my favorite books. The busier my writing schedule becomes, the less time I have for reading, but I still make time for my favorites, and I’m lucky enough to have some wonderful critique partners, like the truly incredible Madison Hayes, whose books I can simply never get enough of. Madi’s Calendar Girls series at Ellora’s Cave is one of my absolute favorites, with some of the hottest, most lovable heroes around! I also love Patrice Michelle and Shayla Black/Shelley Bradley, who both write amazing paranormals.
What are you working on now and do you have a release date yet?
I’m currently working on TOUCH OF SEDUCTION, shape-shifter Aiden Shrader’s story, which is the 4th book in the Primal Instinct series. Aiden is a dark, cocky, complicated hero, but it’s been a blast watching him fall for Olivia, a human kindergarten teacher who’s been pulled into Aiden’s dark, dangerous world. The book will release in April of next year, with the 5th and 6th titles coming out in May and June. These books will be the second trilogy in the Primal Instinct series, and each one will be about one of the shape-shifters that are introduced in EDGE OF HUNGER.
What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given as a writer?
The best advice I’ve ever been given is to just keep writing, whether the words are flowing easily or not. The worst thing you can do as a writer is to stop putting words on paper. If a story isn’t working for you, follow your muse and work on another project for a little while, until everything clicks back into place—but you must always keep yourself going!
If you had one piece of advice to give to a new writer, what would it be?
To be true to your style and your voice, and to write the stories and characters that you love, rather than what might be the “hot market” at the moment. If you write what you love, and what truly matters to you, it’s going to show and that’s what will draw others to your work!
Rhyannon, thanks so much for chatting with us. We have really enjoyed it! Please come again soon!
Thanks, Deb! I had a wonderful time! :)
Monday, May 25, 2009
Your Book as a Movie
Most of us have dreams of having our books optioned and filmed. Oh yeah, not to mention topping the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling lists.
Have you ever dreamed of who would star in your if it were a movie?
If one of your books were made into a movie who would you choose to play your hero, heroine, villain?
Why did you choose these actors and kind of story is it? (Ex. Contemporary paranormal-vampires.)
I can’t wait to see what everyone posts!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I'm starting a contest at my Yahoo group fo celebrate the release of Cowboy of the Night.
Here's the link if you're not a member:
(Having the contest on my Yahoo group makes it easier to gather names for those participating.)
This contest will run until June 30.
Here's what you do:
Answer this question and post it on this Yahoo Group. Be SURE to put Cowboy
Contest in the subject line.
Question: What makes a vampire cowboy sexy?
Contents will be placed in a denim bag (I'll make a design)
A download of Cowboy of the Night
A Ty Beanie Bat
Dark chocolate (the better to sink you fangs into)
2 pair of Faery earrings (flower earrings-one pink roses, the other daisies)
Thursday, May 21, 2009
KRISTEN: Electronic and Small Press Authors Network.
KATIE: Why do you think it’s important for ESPAN to have a voice within the romance community, RWA specifically?
KRISTEN: Epublishing is changing the face of the publishing business model as we know it. Ebooks don’t require the cost to publish that traditional books do and they also don’t require the same return policy. Many in RWA may not fully understand that epublished authors often work just as hard as traditionally pubbed authors. Epubbed and small press authors deserve the same acceptance and recognition as our traditionally pubbed peers.
KATIE: What changes has the ‘new’ ESPAN made? What changes do they plan to make in the future?
KRISTEN: ESPAN is moving forward with a brand new website and forum for members that allows us to interact with one another and discuss topics much like a physical chapter meeting. Beyond that, we’re looking into ways to educate others about what epublishing is, what it means for the future of publishing and why there’s no reason to fear it, but rather to embrace it. We look forward to expanding our membership and really developing a voice for the epubbed and small press pubbed authors in RWA.
KATIE: Anything else you’d like to share with us today?
KRISTEN: If you haven’t tried an ebook, check one out. There are genres out there for every taste!
Kristen firmly believes the future of publishing holds many exciting opportunities and that a chapter like ESPAN will be vital in leading the way toward educating RWA’s members about those possibilities. Additionally, she believes ESPAN can become an advocate for epublishing and epublished authors, providing the necessary information to instruct and guide its members in career decisions and dispel myths about epublishing through the free dispersion of information.
Since Kristen was cool enough to hang out with us wild women today, I'm offering a signed copy of Lucinda Betts' The Supplicant (Aphrodisia) to one lucky commenter. If you have any questions about ESPAN feel free to ask :)
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
“My husband doesn’t read my books,” she admitted.
I was shocked. And…delighted. My husband doesn’t read my books, either! I’d always treated his lack of interest like a dirty little secret, something I should be keep hidden or make excuses for.
After all, everyone knows that romance novelists have the most amazing husbands. If you read an author’s bio, on her web site or in the back of one of her books, you can probably find references to this paragon of manliness. She’s married “her own personal hero,” and they’re living Happily Ever After.
In RITA acceptance speeches, the winners always thank their husbands. It’s become such a cliché that Kristan Higgins riffed on it at the 2008 ceremony. She thanked her husband—for great sex! It was so cute and funny.
The perception that romance authors have perfect relationships is hard to live up to. I’m certainly not an ideal wife (whatever that is), and my husband is no reformed bad boy. He’s not a Navy SEAL, a Greek tycoon, or hot firefighter. He’s not even a hot surfer, like Ben Fortune, the hero of Crash Into Me. He’s a carpenter. Okay, so the tool belt is kind of sexy, but you get my point: he’s just a regular guy.
Lori Foster’s confession was very liberating for me. I realized that I’d been too critical of my hubby. Although he doesn’t read my books, he’s supportive of my writing in other ways. We brainstorm together a lot. When I need to block a fight scene, he will gladly show me some moves or wrestle around with me on the floor. He can estimate the amount of gasoline necessary to blow up a small shed. He’s very useful!
So—my advice to aspiring authors is to cut your husband a break. If you want to include him in the writing process, ask him for advice about guy talk. Better yet, ask him to help you understand the male sexual response so you can write a love scene from the hero’s point of view. It might be a fun and enlightening conversation. ; )
Thanks for having me, Katie!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
However, all is not lost, dear readers. If you do crave a post about actual writing processes, check out the "Challenge yourself if you can" post on my website. For now, since time is off the essence, I'm going to do the unheard of and go for short'n'sweet on Writers Gone Wild. And for me, that's gonna be a challenge. I'm a why-use-one-word-when-you-can-elaborate-with-a-sentence-or-even-a-paragraph! kinda girl.
The topic for today is airports. Specifically, getting all emotional at airports.
So hands up if you've ever cried at an airport before? Be honest now.
I have. Because airports can be the absolute worst places. And the absolute best.
Last year, my Y7 daughter (then 11 years old) was chosen to go on a school trip to Himeji, Japan. And as I wasn't one of the parents chosen to go along, she was going on her own. Well, not on her own, because she'd be part of a group of kids with parent and teacher supervision, but she wasn't going with me or her dad. And I was okay with that. Or so I thought.
We got to the airport, met up with her group and her parent supervisor, and then, we were pretty much superfluous. In fact, I got the distinct feeling the adults just wanted us gone so they could get on with things without all us hangers on complicating matters and upsetting the kids. Consequently, they hustled the kids through the departure gates in double quick time--possibly to preempt the inevitable tears.
And as we all know, saying goodbye to someone you love sucks. My baby had just walked through the departure gates on the way to the biggest adventure of her young life...and I wasn't gonna be a part of it.
Sure, I was excited for her, thrilled to bits and beyond at this amazing opportunity which had been offered to her. She was getting the chance to experience Japanese culture by living with a host family. She'd get to visit Hiroshima, travel on the shinkansen (bullet train), visit Japanese schools, participate in Himeji's summer festival. It was a chance of a lifetime for her....and here I was, scared witless that some harm would befall her and I wouldn't be there.
I mean, what if she got left behind on the platform because she didn't make it aboard the shinkansen in time? What if she got lost on one of the trips? What if she didn't get on with her host family? What if they didn't speak any English and she got sick?
So when she turned to wave goodbye one last time before disappearing from view, I was miserable and teary-eyed and trying my best not to burst into tears. I'd forgotten just how awful airports can be.
Now picking people up from airports, that's a whole 'nother story. I absolutely love it! I always get there early, just so I can find a prime spot to sit and watch all the travellers arriving. It's at airports that my secret people-watching fetish really kicks in. I surreptitiously observe faces, make up little stories about who they might be meeting and what their relationship with that person might be. Oh, the stories I've invented!
And the absolute best part about airport arrivals is observing that special moment when someone walks through those gates, cranes their neck looking for the person who's supposed to be meeting them and....their gazes lock. It's the pure, unadulterated joy captured on their faces that gets me every time and I can't help but reach for my hankie and have a discreet dab of my eyes.
Of course, in the case of my daughter arriving back after 2 weeks away, it was tears of joy and shock. How could she have grown up so much in only 2 weeks? Her experiences had changed her, matured her. And I have to admit, as much as I'd loved to have been along for the ride, it was best for her to go without me. She discovered just how independent she could be and that newfound confidence just shone in her face.
I wonder what people thought when they observed my face as I spotted my daughter walking through those gates?
I wonder what they thought when they saw hers?
There's been heaps of airport memories in my life so far. My husband used to be in the airforce so there were plenty of tearful departures and tearful arrivals. And then there was the time my mother flew in to surprise me for my 30th birthday. I sure entertained people with my reaction on that particular day!
Want to share your airport stories? I'd love to hear them.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Tambra may not be able to post today--she's dealing with an ailing family member. So please join me in wishing both Tambra and her family some serious healing thoughts.
Just in case she doesn't make it by, (and Tambra, if you do, you go right ahead and post!), I'm going to fill her spotlight to share my beautiful cover for my July release, Wicked Temptation--the kick off title to the first (sinfully sexy) series ever developed by Red Sage's authors--Three Kinds of Wicked.
Hope you enjoy, and thanks to Rae Monet for a making the covers for the Three Kinds of Wicked Series both sexy and elegant--like the series! I'm also going to thank the amazing woman behind the curtain, Red Sage managing editor, Theresa Stevens, who has done an oustanding job of helping us make this series the best it can possibly be--and in record time!
I can hardly wait for Trey, our super-sexy time strider, to start steaming up your summer.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Congrats to Caffey won my release day contest! The prize: A download of Dangerous Deception! Thanks to everyone else who stopped by this week!
Don't forget we've got some amazing guest authors coming by next week.
Wednesday: Jill Sorenson
Thursday: Kristen Painter
Have a great weekend everyone!
Friday, May 15, 2009
LIANE: Good morning, Deidre, and thanks for visiting us at Writer's Gone Wild. I have to tell you, I loved reading Butterfly Tattoo, and I'm thrilled you could stop by today to tell us a little about where your mind and muse were when you created this beautiful, heart-rending story. So get ready to spill it, babe! :)
LIANE: For those of our readers who haven't yet had the pleasure of reading Butterfly Tattoo, can you give us a brief blurb of the book?
DEIDRE: Sure, I would love to. I like to refer to Butterfly as an unconventional “starting over story.” The hero, Michael Warner, is a widower who lost his partner of twelve years to a drunk driver. This same car accident left their daughter, Andrea, alive but emotionally scarred. The heroine, Rebecca O’Neill, bears her own scars, and not all of them are visible. She is a former sitcom actress who was attacked by a psychotic fan. The brutal assault left her permanently scarred, despite several plastic surgeries, thereby ended her acting career. She now makes her living at the same studio where the sitcom was shot, but works as a development exec. That’s where she meets Michael, on the lot, because he works there in the electrical construction department. These three characters—Michael, Rebecca, and Andrea, come together and find healing, love, and a new chance where none of them imagined they might discover it.
LIANE: Your story blurb promises an emotional read, and Butterfly Tattoo certainly delivered on its three hankie read warning! As an author, you made some unconventional choices in creating Butterfly Tattoo. One was your decision to use the first person, present voice to tell Michael, Rebecca and Andrea's and Alex's story. Was this a conscious decision during the creative process, or did you always "hear" the story in present POV. How did you ultimately decide that the viewpoints should be limited to Michael and Rebecca's POV's?
DEIDRE: The story literally came to me in first person, present-tense. There was such an urgent, painful immediacy to putting it in their real-time voices, that I never could have written the novel any other way.. The first voice I heard, interestingly enough, was that of a character who didn’t ultimately have her own POV: little Andrea. I caught a glimpse of her in the bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror, seeing how unkempt her red hair appeared. I knew that she felt invisible because of Michael’s grief. That she felt he no longer noticed her, and that’s what she talked about in that first little snippet that I wrote for the novel.
But much as it might have been interesting to get into Andrea’s head, there were a few reasons I didn’t tackle her POV. One, in the end, this is ultimately a spin on the he said/she said tale, just written more lyrically and literarily (I hope!) Also, it was tough enough to pull offrotating first person POV for two characters, especially without losing or annoying readers. Equally hard was working to maintain Michael and Rebecca’s voices, making them as clear and authentic as possible.
Beyond that, I think a huge part of Michael’s story is the fact that his daughter has intentionally shut herself off to him. He doesn’t know what she’s thinking, and that agonizes him, so really, I don’t think we the reader should know, either. We should be in his shoes, struggling to unlock Andrea’s voice and her heart and mind.
LIANE: Wow. You’re giving me chills here! I’m loving that you’re allowing me to dig so deeply into your creative process. So let’s dig a little deeper. What do you think would have happened if you introduced other character voices into the story?
Deidre: I am adoring these questions! You are really making me contemplate my own work, and that’s a wonderful treat. Well, if I’d included more voices, part of the problem would have been what I mention above about Andrea. Because she would have been such a natural choice for a third POV, but that would have robbed us of experiencing her journey, of watching her open up again. Instead, we observe Andrea through Michael and Rebecca’s eyes. We watch those petals slowly unfurl, sometimes fold back again, but then ultimately she blooms completely.. Hearing that process in her own words, well, I fear we would have been robbed of its power,and ultimately would have stolen some of the story’s mystery. We know who Michael and Alex are to her, what their roles are, because of what she says to the other characters—but we’re not in her head, so is she being truthful? Can we rely on what she says? For instance, early in the story she tells Rebecca that Michael is her stepfather. She tells the characters what she needs to believe, and Michael, in his pain, only corroborates her statements. At least for a while. .
LIANE: The first line of Butterfly Tattoo is both gripping and chilling. I imagine before long we’ll be seeing it cited on some lists of “best first lines ever.” I believe I asked you this same question on your author board, but since many of our readers are also aspiring writers, I'd love them to hear how you settled on your opening line and when it found you.
DEIDRE: Wow, girl! You know how to make an author’s day. Best lines ever? Amazing. I’ll just float on away now, not finish the interview. Except…that’s not fair to you, so I’ll continue.
Since I did tackle this particular topic on the message board, I’m pasting in the response from the board, if that’s okay. Also, I hope readers and friends will check out the butterfly discussion thread because there’s so much we can talk about related to this incredible interview, actually! Deidre Knight's Yuku Board. Here’s what I said:
I actually had to work on that opening a LOT. I honestly don't remember how many iterations it went through, or even—not totally—how the story began in early revisions. It always started at the studio, I remember that. But there was a point that came to me after the book was almost done when I realized that opening line was the opening…when I understood that by causing a collision between her working life and her past in that script meeting, that it could really show us her exact state of mind. It seems that, prior to that realization, we had Michael show up a little sooner. But his arrival lacked the powerful context that it needed because we didn’t yet understand how wounded Rebecca truly was. How vulnerable.
LIANE: Just goes to show that it’s really true that many stories are born during the revision process! Your bio mentions that you spent some time in the film industry, I’m assuming in California. How much of that life came into play during the story's telling? Did your story begin while you were working there, or did it find you later on? Do you think Butterfly Tattoo would have played out in a setting/world less obsessed with looks/image?
DEIDRE: Actually, I am a rarity among those who work or have worked in the film industry—I did my time in Georgia. I know, that probably seems bizarre, but during my years working in production, Georgia had a very well-developed film industry. I worked freelanced on movies, videos, and commercials, then was hugely blessed to join the crew of the NBC/MGM show In the Heat of the Night with Carroll O’Connor and Howard Rollins. Talk about working with some amazing talent! Carroll was a legend and Howard had won an Oscar for A SOLDIER’S STORY not long before. Working on that crew changed my life in so many ways, and I’m grateful for that time. As for how it impacted BUTTERFLY, I will definitely say that knowing how television worked, about how shows are shot added authenticity (that scene with the buzzer and the soundstage came straight from my own life.)
At the same time, probably more of the story’s background originated in my agenting life, where I also work with film producers, development executives, film agents, and the like. I haven’t visited L.A. recently, but have definitely been on most of the lots in my agenting capacity. In fact, the old bungalow where Rebecca works was directly based on one that I visited that had been an old screening room back in the day. But, much like Rebecca says in the book’s opening, (I’m paraphrasing here): “When you work with writers like I do, life is an herb garden and you pluck a few ripe things here and there to use…” You reinterpret. This book isn’t biographical, not by a long shot, but at the same time there’s a great deal of me that I poured into it. Probably the biggest part of me resides in the grief that these characters are processing because I was at a time of great loss in my life. Writing the book was in many ways about finding my own healing.
LIANE: So at least with the setting/world of Butterfly Tattoo, you really did write what you knew! And what a perfect, poignant backdrop for Rebecca’s struggle to move on as an imperfect version of her former self. Rebecca truly is an unusual heroine. She is physically scarred and emotionally vulnerable. She's not fully recovered from the emotional or physical after-effects of the attack she suffered. In spite of the horrors she's faced, she shows an inner strength in her determination to rebuild her life. As a result, to some degree, she is able to enter Michael's world with more ease that one would first think. Why do you think this happened? Was the bond Rebecca shared with Andrea through their scars the only reason she could enter Michael's world with relative ease? What qualities did you choose for Michael that made this the *right* man for Rebecca to reach out to? Did his bisexuality come into play as you created their relationship? In the beginning, do you think it was it safer for Rebecca to face possible rebuttal from a bisexual man, or did this come into play at all in your original vision of her story arc? You don't have to answer all of these questions, but while I’ve got you right here in front of me, I’m milking this moment for all it’s worth.
DEIDRE: Wow, what great questions. I’ll begin by quoting a favorite movie of mine, Jerry Maguire (yeah, the agent loves the movie about the agent, go figure.). There’s a scene with Rod Tidwell and Jerry where they’re talking about dating a single mother. Rod says something like, “You see, with a single mom, she’s already been to the puppet show and she’s seen behind the curtain.” In a way, I think in terms of the grief she’s carrying, that’s who Rebecca is at the outset of the story. Remember, Michael is at the one year anniversary of losing Alex, but Rebecca has had three years to work her way to this point of healing. Although still broken, although most broken of all in some ways, , she is in a sense the “wise guide” to Michael and Andrea. She’s had to navigate to a certain place in her healing that they haven’t reached—the only problem is she’s gotten stuck. She hit a plateau at some point, and that’s where Michael comes in. That’s where the essence of what true love accomplishes comes in …he becomes her wise guide even as she’s his. They challenge and provoke each other, and it’s Rebecca’s healing that takes Michael past that plateau where Rebecca got stuck, allowing him to reach back and guide her farther on. They switch roles. She starts as the guide, but eventually he assumes that mantle and provokes her to continue her journey. There’s a back and forth in that relationship where neither one has all the secrets or keys to moving on, but each has a piece—and together those pieces make a whole. A whole person, whole family, whole relationship. All the fractured parts form into a unity that none of them ever would have imagined at the outset.
The bisexuality topic is probably a whole visit unto itself, to be honest, but in short, the book’s greatest theme is that love, family, belonging often come where we least expect them. Michael loves by his heart, and because of how Rebecca feels about her appearance he is at once the most threatening man to potentially love, but also the most freeing. On one hand, she is haunted by the fear that she can’t ever measure up—she’s not a man, she’s scarred. On the other, she can ultimately find reassurance in the fact that Michael Warner “goes with his heart.” In this novel, I wanted very much to show that love is a mystery, that is our highest calling as humans who walk this earth—to give love and to give it unconditionally. That we receive it in turn, is the second part of that mystery. Had Michael’s past been traditional, I think it would have cheapened their story and what that story says love truly means.
LIANE: Rebecca has a way of referring to her attacker by name—suggesting a certain twisted intimacy b/t victim and attacker as opposed to the raw anger Michael expresses toward the drunk driver responsible for the accident that killed his life partner, Alex. Was this an intentional part of your creative process, or one of those wonderful bits that emerges during the creation of story. Or, am I reading something into the story that others haven't remarked on?
DEIDRE: You’re a genius, that’s what.
LIANE: Buttering up the interviewer never hurts. ;)
DEIDRE: Nah, I just love you, babe. And you are a genius, so there, because I absolutely did intend to convey Rebecca as feeling an intimacy to Ben (her attacker. )To her, they are linked, and she bears that evidence on her body same as if he’d tattooed her with that body tattoo he wears of her. No, Ben is definitely not a nameless person, or a random force of nature, and you notice in the book that not even the people closest to her understand that fact.
Not only that, but she feels a strange sense of compassion for him, which comes out in that scene with her mother at the mall. She’s worked to get to that point of forgiveness over the past three years. Shehe could have become embittered—she has every reason to have done so. Instead, she’s found freedom and healing in choosing to forgive Ben. At the same time, she feels that their destinies merged somehow, that it truly was personal. That he wasn’t just “that crazed man” or a faceless stranger. When Ben stepped out of the shadows and changed her life, he linked them together for the rest of her life. Ben, in a sense, is her tattoo, even more than the scars he left on her body.
8) Face it. The lovin' in this story was wayyyy hot. I see roots of the later Deidre here. Is this where you discovered your talents as a more traditional romance author, or did you always aspire to write commercial romance?
DEIDRE: Hee. You know, I’d written some unpublished romances before BUTTERFLY. Nuff said.
LIANE: Wow. So much for the theory that agents who write don’t suffer rejections! But back to the discussion that wicked hot pen of yours that just got you named an honorary Writer Gone Wild!
DEIDRE: I’m an honorary Writer Gone Wild? For real? I’m so stoked! Oh, and by the way< this book was rejected more than thirty times. Yes, I totally understand the pain of rejection. As for the romantic “lovin’” in this book...it was honestly a tough one to call. Michael and Rebecca were so hungry for each other, but each so frightened, so blocked, and the complications of both their pasts made trust a tender thing. I worked hard to strike that balance, and I have a great editor who helped push me to go farther when I needed to, but also pulled me back if I went too far.
LIANE: Alex. Alex. Alex. I feel like I know him, could sense him looking on as Michael struggles to accept Alex's death and his own redefined role in their daughter, Andrea's, life. While subtle, Alex had a character arc of his own. Did you intend for this to happen? If so, what choices did you make in creating Butterfly Tattoo that defined Alex, not as a dead man, but as a fully realized character essential to the resolution of the story?
DEIDRE: Alex was, and remains, as vital and alive to me as any of the characters who are directly on the canvas. That was the mandate I gave myself as a writer from the beginning with the book: that I make Alex breathe. That I make him so alive that readers would love and connect with him as if he truly were alive at the story’s outset. I accomplished that, or so I’m told, and I’m grateful. Part of how he worked as a “living” character, I think, is that I utilized almost photographic snapshots of who he was as a person. Images that linger for the characters, like Michael’s memory of Alex calling him to hear the bells of St. Patrick’s in New York. In that scene we actually get Alex’s dialogue, we experience firsthand his true love of life, even in its smaller moments. Or when Michael recalls how, when he and Alex were first together, Alex told him maybe he just didn’t need to over-think things so much.
The memories that the different characters hold of Alex, the way they ARE his living legacy, that’s how I wanted to make him real. Each character who knew him gives a different snapshot—his mother, Laurel, Andrea…and then ultimately, Rebecca herself carries Alex away in her own heart as someone she has truly known. He speaks to her from Andrea’s dream, after all. I imagine that as the years go by, Rebecca feels a lot of intimacy and love for Alex, the more she encounters him—the things he said, his belongings, his letters—and maybe even has a few dreams of her own that he enters.
LIANE: Butterfly Tattoo is an unusual story by anyone's definition. You tackled subject matter that many would shy away from for the fear of appearing (at first glance) politically incorrect. Was the worry that the book would be judged without considering the story in its entirety a concern as you created the story? Did that concern ever play into your creative process? How about the publisher's editing process?
DEIDRE: I never worried that it was politically incorrect because this is definitely not a “conversion” story where a bisexual guy realizes he was never gay. But it was a very tough sell because at the time in New York publishing, I think that there was less receptivity to bisexuality, to gay themes, period—I just don’t think they could figure out how to market what I was doing with the book. Samhain was and is the perfect publisher for this unconventional story precisely because they’re a digital publisher that can push the envelope and take risks. I think digital publishing is a very exciting world right now, and have utmost respect for everyone at Samhain, all the more because they took a gamble on this novel.
LIANE: Aside from the more obvious role Alex's sister introduced into the story, she contributed significantly to Rebecca's emotional arc. This secondary (at first glance) character plays some pivotal roles in your story. I'm dying to know how many tries it took you to get those very difficult relationships right---between Alex and Laurel, Laurel and Andrea and Laurel and Rebecca.
DEIDRE: Laurel was a tricky one, let me tell you. She was vividly clear to me, but I had to be sure that she could be both the antagonist (or one of them), while remaining painfully sympathetic. That middle portion of the book was some of the slowest that I wrote, and I can definitely recall a point when I was stuck for WEEKS writing the Laurel sections. That was probably the worst block I had in the whole thing, so very perceptive of you to notice that it was quite the magic show to bring it all together.
A confession, too: I still hurt for Laurel a little bit. She went through a lot of pain that she doesn’t even talk about in the book, like losing Andrea’s twin while pregnant. I know a lot about Laurel because I started a book for her after finishing Butterfly, and I know that she has big commitment issues (that is mentioned in Butterfly) that ultimately cause her a lot of pain. Those kinds of issues aren’t exactly helped when your twin is killed unexpectedly.
LIANE: Is there the chance of our seeing Laurel’s story in print? Because if so, then I’ll be the first in line to snap that one up, as I’m sure will many of our readers! Now here's the question for Deidre the agent. Butterfly Tattoo tells a rare, wonderful, love story, a true redemption journey. The story has a haunting quality that lingers long after the last page is turned. I've talked to you enough to know that this was truly the book of your heart. I also know you have a talent for nurturing stories other agents might have turned their backs on. So, if Butterfly Tattoo fell on your desk today, how would your instincts as an agent come into play? I know there are a thousand wild women reading this right now who are dying to know.
DEIDRE: I’m not sure about Laurel. I have a chunk of her story written, but she’s a defiant woman and actually telling her story has been tough for me. But you never know. As for what I’d do if BUTTERFLY came across my desk? Honestly? I’d sign it on in a heartbeat. Because it has everything I’d want in a book—that’s what I tried to pour into it, at least. All the elements that I most wanted to read. I love books that defy boundaries, and even more? Love proving the market wrong!
LIANE: (wicked grin!) Prepare for the onslaught of quirky, left field manuscripts, mine included. Seriously, Deidre, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your charm and candor in discussing the process that led you to the story of your heart. But, being that we are Writers Gone Wild, we need the obligatory beefcake donation. :) I know you have a steamy new title coming out in June. Why don't you be the lovely tease I know you are and set our readers on fire with a sneak preview of Red Kiss? ;)
DEIDRE: Absolutely! I’m thrilled that RED KISS, the second in my Gods of Midnight series, comes out in only two more weeks! Here’s a link to an excerpt that features River, the hero, with Emma Lowery, the heroine. They’re smokin’ hot, let me tell you. This is just a little peek; the book steams a lot hotter! LOL!
LIANE: Fabulous! I can’t wait to read it. I do hope you’ll pay us another visit here at Writers Gone Wild so we can help you celebrate your next release in a style befitting an honorary Writer Gone Wild. Thank you, Deidre, for stopping by Writers Gone Wild. Even more, thank you for writing Butterfly Tattoo. I’m so glad this story found a home at Samhain Publishing. I can't remember the last time I was both thrilled with a story and surprised by it at the same time. Well done. I believe our readers will all agree that you give great hero. :) As a token of our appreciation, we're going send you an official Writers Gone Wild feather boa and some free reads from the authors here at Writers Gone Wild.
DEIDRE: Okay, that’s just too much fun! I’d love to come back and talk about RED KISS! In fact, I’d love to join you anytime! I am humbled and grateful that you invited me—and that you challenged me with such penetrating, thoughtful questions. Thank you so much for having me!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Contest closes 15th May, so visit my website, click on the Win An ARC link and answer a simple question to be in to win!
Heck, since it's nearly contest deadline, I'll give you the question: What's the release date for Even Demons Get The Blues? (Hint: re-read the second sentence of this post to find the answer.) Leave a comment with the anser and the winner will be drawn on May 16th and notified by email. How easy is that?
Right, now that we've got that out of the way....
Referring to myself as a "bitch-troll-from-hell" may appear overly harsh but believe me, it's a perfect descriptor in certain scenarios. Like the following purely fictional one, for instance.
It's about 10.30am on a weekday. I've been to the gym and wonder of wonders, my body hasn't gone into shock and collapsed from the unaccustomed exercise. I've had my morning caffeine fix. I've cleared my in-box, facebooked and twittered (whilst slurping aforementioned caffeine fix) and I'm good to go. Ideas for my current wip are roiling round in my brain, demanding to get out. I have a clear four hours of dedicated writing time ahead. I'm rubbing my hands in gleeful anticipation. I reach for the mouse to click on my manuscript file and....
The phone rings.
Grrrrr. Instead of letting it go through to answer-phone, I pick it up. Yanno, 'cos I'm just dumb that way. And hey, even though it's my landline and not my mobile, so it's probably not urgent, it might be urgent. It might be the school calling to tell me one of the kids is sick. Or (horrors!) has had an accident and needs me right away. I just can't not answer the damn phone. I suspect it's genetic.
The caller is my mum. Or my dad. Or my grandmother. All of whom I've been "meaning to ring". Or it's one of my sadly neglected friends, whom I've been "meaning to ring when I get a spare moment". (I usually find that spare moment is around 10.30pm when it's too flaming late to ring anyone.)
And as much as I reeeeeally want to, I can't bring myself to say, "Sorry, I'm about to start work. Can I call you in a few hours when I'm done?" You see, they know I'm not really "working". Or at least, that's what they think. Which is why they've rung at this time of the day. 'Cos, yanno, Maree's writing isn't really proper work, is it? I mean, it's not like it's a proper career or anything. Grrrrr!
So because I'm sitting at home pretending to be "working" and I'm not sitting in an office being snarked at by some cranky boss who's not gonna take kindly to me yakking on the phone for the next hour, I feel obliged to yak on the phone for the next hour. I hope I'm coming across as interested in the conversation. I hope I'm not coming across distracted and somewhat distant. But I wouldn't be money on it. Even worse, all the ideas I'm desperate to put down on the screen are slowly being smothered by "real life". I just know they're gonna disappear into the ether and I won't be able to find them when I need them. I want to scream.
It's now 11.30am. My muse--who looks exactly like RT09 cover model Jeremy--has gotten sick and tired of hanging round contemplating his gorgeous navel, and he's gone walkabout. I spend the next hour reading over what I've already written. I tweak that trite term. I delete that dumbass description. I polish my prose to within an inch of its miserable, pathetic existence. And then....
I realize it's 1pm and if I don't eat something, I'm gonna pass out. I rush downstairs and stare into the cupboards, searching for inspiration. Aha! Toast and peanut butter it is. Wait a minute, what's that bloody annoying beeping noise?
Crap! The washing I stuck in the machine before I went to the gym is well and truly finished. Grrrrr.....
So by the time I've stomped around the house and dealt to the washing, my toast is cold. Never mind. I can rise above this latest setback. Peanut butter on cold toast it is!
I rush back upstairs, toast in hand, relieved that my nutritional needs have been met with the minimum of time and effort. Hey, I could have put chocolate spread on the toast but I'm trying to eat healthy. A writer's body is her temple, you know ;-)
It's now 1.30pm. And multitudinous little email previews are going 'ping!' and popping up at the bottom of my monitor. I ignore them and get right back into writing...at least until I spot one email from my husband, who wants me to email him back with some important info ASAP. Grrrrr!
It's now 2pm and frankly, I've done bugger all to add to my wordcount. I need to go pick my kids up from school soon. I frantically type a few more sentences. And next time I look at the clock, it's already 2.30pm. If I don't go now, I'm never gonna find a park near the school. Of course the cat chooses this moment to hide in the house somewhere. And if I leave her inside and she decides to go exploring, she'll set off the alarms. It's 2.45pm by the time I locate the sneaky rotten furbag, chuck her outside, lock up and get into my car. And I'm running late. Grrrrr!
It's 4pm by the time I've completed the school run, nagged the kids about notices, spelling, reading diaries and other assorted homework. Son has soccer practice in half an hour. I've got a 15 minute window to write.....
But my daughter needs to talk about "stuff". I paste a smile (or a sympathetic frown, depending upon the severity of the "stuff" being discussed) on my face. We hash it out. And then it's time to head to soccer. Never mind. I can drop him off, be back home by 4.45pm, leaving me an hour to write before I have to leave to pick him up at 6pm. A whole freaking hour! I'm practically drooling....
At the soccer grounds, I'm caught up in a conversation with a couple of other soccer moms. I don't get home till 5pm. My hour has become 3/4 hour. And I only have myself to blame. I am so pissed. GRRRRR!
I write like a madwoman. It could be utter crap--who knows? At least it's increasing my tragic wordcount. Then it's time to pick up son from soccer. Just five minutes more and.... Crap! I'm running late. Again.
Back home, I mutter something about "having dinner when dad gets home" and rush back upstairs to attack my manuscript again. I am determined to get this section finished. And wouldn't you know it? I'm just getting back into my stride when I hear the garage door opening and then , "Hi honey, I'm hooooome!"
GRRRRR! I take a few deep, calming breaths. "Hi!" I yell, hunched over the keyboard, fingers flying over the keys. I'll just finish this sentence...paragraph...chapter....
And before I know it, I hear those fateful words, "Any thoughts for dinner, hon? It's getting a bit late." I explode. Images of my husband doing a lounge lizard act on the couch, complete with glass of wine resting on his stomach, fill my head. And I bet the kids have left their crap all over the kitchen. I bet no-one's emptied the dishwasher. It's not bloody fair. AAAAARRRRRGH!
I have officially crossed the line from grumpy female to full-on bitch-troll-from-hell mode. We are going to have a discussion about division of labor right now so be afraid, people! Be very afraid.
"Why can't you cook for a change?" I'm saying as I stomp downstairs. "I'm right in the middle of a crucial scene, here. Why is it always me who has to cook? Why am I always the one who--?"
Yes, DH is sitting on the couch with a glass of wine at his elbow. But he has his laptop open and he's working. Worse, the kids' eyes light up as they regale me with tales of how he's helped them with some homework research. Worse still, what he's working on right now is my new website. Very quiet, subdued grrrrr. More of a whimper, actually.
Suitably chastened and guilt-ridden, I rustle up some dinner for my grateful family. Once the kids are in bed, I sit down with a glass of wine. And I heave a sigh because tomorrow, chances are that bitch-troll writer persona is gonna rear her ugly head again. I just won't be able to help it.
This "fictional" story was brought to you by a nice girl. Who, far more often than she likes to admit, becomes the writer's equivalent of bridezilla.
Sound familiar? Cripes, I hope so! I'd hate to think it was just me....
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Despite receiving conflicting results from various promotional efforts, I see the obvious value in promoting yourself and IMO, a website is crucial. Unless you’re Linda Howard (who I really wished had a website), then chances are, if you're a writer, that will be one of the first ways to establish yourself. There are so many other options out there that it’s sometimes overwhelming deciding how you want to brand yourself. And what about all those other social networking sites? There’s myspace, facebook, various yahoo loops, romance forums, and now there’s twitter.
Since I already had a myspace page, I resisted facebook for a while, but eventually caved on that too. Technically I use it a lot more to stay in touch with friends than promote, but I’ve discovered some amazing authors that I probably wouldn’t have known about if it hadn’t been for either of these social networks.
Blogging is probably my favorite ‘promotional’ tool because it’s not really about promotion. A year or two ago I ‘met’ Sarai through a random comment she posted on Romancing the Blog. I followed her link and now I don’t even remember how we started chatting, but we did, and she eventually invited me to join DIK. Through that site, I've met and discovered so many wonderful authors, some I now consider friends. And just recently I met Liane at a local chapter group and that’s how I joined Writers Gone Wild. :)
After my first book came out, I spent all this time promoting but less time writing. I quickly realized something was wrong with that equation. I’ve learned to say no to things that I’m not comfortable with and just do things that I actually have fun with. Finding that balance was difficult and I'm not sure that I have yet, but I'm getting there.
If you’re a reader, what do you like to see your favorite authors doing? If you’re reading this, I assume you like blogging, but what else? If you’re a writer, what have you found most helpful as far as meeting readers?
And now, for some blatant self promotion…Dangerous Deception releases from Ellora’s Cave this Friday. One lucky commenter will receive a free download! I’ll announce the winner Saturday here and on my blog.
Finally, next Wednesday I'll be hosting romantic suspense author Jill Sorenson. Her newest book Crash Into Me was recently featured in Cosmo so don't forget to come back for a fun giveaway!!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Off and on through the years I've entered writing contests. Specifically ones sponsored by chapters of Romance Writers of America.
I've never done well in them and I'm wondering if that makes a diffence. If so, how much difference?
A large part of the problem was the feedback. I didn't get any from the published author. With one contest, the writing was so hurriedly scribbled I could barely read what the author had written.
Even though I didn't place in any of the contests I'd always received one person who totally got what I was doing, one who hated everything and one who was in the middle.
A word to those who judge contests: don't judge a category unless you know it. I can't tell you how many times I've read, "I don't usually read paranormal romance..." and the comments and the scores proved the judge had no idea whatsoever about the genre.
By having unqualified judges, the writer entering the contest gets cheated out of the money she/he spent to enter.
So, what do y'all think? Have entering contests been helpful and if so, how?
A Cursed Heart by Keelia Greer, Out Now from Red Rose Publishing
Cowboy of the Night by Tambra Kendall, coming May 14th from Red Rose Publishing!
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Pretty cute, huh?
I think she captures the essence of me; a woman who's got so much weird stuff inhabiting her headspace, she often gets distracted and comes a cropper. Or comes out with stuff that doesn't make any sense given the context of the conversation. Oh yeah. I've got that whole banging into things, sliding down the stairs on my butt because I've been day-dreaming and foot-in-my-mouth thing going on.
Ah, the joys of being a writer. If you hadn't figured it out by now, we're all a bit nutty.
So, what to shock you all with - I mean, write about this week?
Hmmmmm. Okay, so while I'm thinking, I'll post some gratuituous eye-candy and see where the mood takes me....
You think these are risque? You should see the photos I'm not posting here!
Okay. Now that the brain is able to partially function again, these photos are courtesy of the Vizeau range of men's swimwear, underwear, beachwear and tee-shirts.
But before you go clicking on the link to check out the faces behind these butts, these are old photos I've had on my computer for a few years, just waiting for the opportunity to share with some friends.
There's a whole bunch of new guys on Vizeau website now. Well worth checking out if you need some ah... inspiration.
And because I'm an equal opportunity kinda gal, here's a link to the most gorgeous lingerie site evah! It's IM Boutique and what I love about this site is you can click on the color swatches and the lingerie the models are wearing will change color accordingly. Veeeery expensive but oh so worth it! (As I can personally attest. Haven't I mentioned before that my husband is the best?)
Ooh! And wha'd'ya know? There's guys' underwear on the IM Boutique site too. Yay.
Now for gals who like to be comfy while they're sitting on their butts all day trying to up that all-important word count on their work in process, here's a link to a more practical website: Thunderpants.
Here, you can choose your own colors and designs and bindings from the range and order them to be made for you. How fun is that? (Believe me, it's fun!)
Thunderpants also make a claim that all women who've almost had to resort to having their thong surgically removed from their butt crack will appreciate: "They don't go up your bum!"
This claim is absolutely true. I'll say no more.
Right. I think I've figured out what to talk about now. And since the eye-candy is just so very distracting, I'll make it brief. *winces at the unintended pun*
So are you a pantser or a plotter?
Hey, maybe in honor of this post, we should re-name these terms because I'm generally a pantser and for me, pantser always sounds slightly ridiculous. It's like what the wonderfully witty (and delightfully blunt!) Anne Stuart had to say about a certain portion of the male anatomy, when she spoke to us at the 2007 RWNZ conference: "I hate the word penis. It's such a whiny word!"
Pantser might not be a whiny word but it's a label I'm not particularly enthralled to call my own. It's such a silly word. Every time I talk to a friend or a reporter about my writing process and confess I'm a pantser, they just laugh.
To clarify, a pantser is a writer who writes by the seat of her pants. For example, she might have an idea for a beginning scene, a partially formed hero and heroine, and maybe (if she's lucky!) an idea for how she wants her story to end. She just plants butt on seat and writes with only the vaguest idea of what's gonna happen in the middle. She gets her ideas as she goes along and just runs with it.
A plotter is a writer who plots her story first - no surprises there. She might do character interviews, so she's clear on her characters' motivations. She might write an outline, or even go so far as to do a chapter-by-chapter plan of her story, before she starts. She's got it all sussed in her head - and down on paper - before she begins to write the story.
For me, the process of plotting was extremely useful when I was "stuck" in a story and found myself editing and polishing and shining the prose I'd already written to within an inch of its life, but I just couldn't see my way clear to writing anything new. I forced myself to write a chapter-by-chapter outline. And along the way, I discovered the reason I was stuck was because my chapters needed to be moved around and plonked in an entirely different order for maximum impact. A hugely valuable exercise, which allowed me to launch right back into writing the story with a vengeance.
On the down side, I found it stifling to then have to stick to my chapter outlines, when all I wanted to do was go for it and write what came to mind. I didn't like that "boxed in" feeling when my inspiration was desperate to fly. I lost some of the excitement of not knowing where my story was gonna end up and having to stick to "the plan".
But that's just me and my writing process. Everyone is different. And it was an incredible relief to have "the plan" to fall back on during those days where I just didn't want to be sitting at my computer writing.
So that was the brief, to-do-with-writing part of this post - just in case you missed it.
Now back to relabeling these terms. Let's stick with the underwear theme here, shall we? Just to make it more fun ;-).
Guys reputably wear boxers because they prefer to let their manly parts er... swing free. They don't like those bits to be uh... confined. So perhaps someone who likes to write without planning a heck of a lot first, could be termed a boxer. Which would then turn the plotters into brief-ers.
Hmmmm. I'm not seeing it. Well, I am seeing it - namely hot guys in boxers and briefs, but not boxers and briefers as a re-classification of the writing terms.
How about boardies? You know, board-shorts, those long and loose shorts surfie-types wear. Pantsers would become boardies and plotters become...Speedos?
Well, dammit all, I just can't seem to come up with anything suitably witty. Or even sensible. (Or maybe my brain's still out to lunch because of all the scantily dressed, masculine eye-candy.)
So I'll leave it to you smart ladies (and guys!) out there to come up with some glamorous suggestions to rebrand these "unfortunate" writing terms.
Pantsers = ??
Plotters = ??
Now I must reiterate that this is important stuff, people! With winter on its way here in New Zealand and the prospect of many more damp hours cowering beneath the umbrella while I watch the kids play winter sports, I sure could do with a bit more glamor in my life at the moment.
So I'm relying on you. Next time an interviewer asks me about my writing process, I'd love to be able to call myself something other that a pantser. Please don't let me down!