Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I have returned from the Far East! The trip was amazing and intriguing. I had fun, learned fascinating things about a very different culture, and came back wonderfully exhausted (and thoroughly jet-lagged). I'll post travel gossip and pictures! pictures! pictures! in the next couple days (just as soon as I've gotten myself some semblance of caught up and managed to convince my body that night-is-day and day-is-night again).
In the mean time, I'm taking nominations for the next place I should visit - Peru? More Asian Adventures? Sub-Saharan Africa?
And I would like to extend a big ole THANK YOU to the blog-sitters who visited while I was away! Hope y'all had fun with them.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Draggers With Dessert
If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would you pick?
I was asked this question recently in an interview and I choose an undercover female agent. Why? Because I love and write romantic suspense novels and one day I’ll write a story with a spy as my heroine. I’d love to know how she really ticks, not just what I assume from watching movies or sitcoms or reading novels.
I’m really curious how anyone can give up their life, walk away from family and friends, and put themselves at risk, living with danger every second. The thought of not talking to my best friend, who is my dear husband BTW, whenever I want, or not being able to be there when a family member or friend desperately needs me makes me say, “No. I don’t think the job is for me.” Holidays would either kill me or I’d blow my cover for sure.
What about children? I know not every woman wants children, but what if she did? So many questions come to my mind concerning that subject.
I also wonder what their long term goals are, or dreams. We all picture ourselves in that far off future to some degree. We’re retired, enjoying activities that we put on hold for decades and just spending our Golden Years as we want, without looking over our shoulders for someone who might recognize us and drag us in for interrogation.
I’m sure as they were growing up, they didn’t think, I want to be a spy one day. Or did they?
I wondered about their schooling and training. How are they paid? Do they get vacation days? And if so, what name do they use?
I have a thousand questions I’d love to have answered, and more would probably surface in my tiny brain before we’d ordered our chocolate mousse. (We are women so chocolate would be involved.)
So, if you could have dinner with anyone who would it be and why?
Autumn Jordon is an awarding winning romantic suspense author. She was a 2009 Golden Heart finalist and a 2010 Golden Leaf winner for “Best First Book” with Evil’s Witness. She’s an active member of RWA (The romance Writers of America) and The International Thriller Writers. She lives in Northeast PA with her husband and two guard dogs— a kissing fiend of an Irish Setter and a five pound Yorkie, who while blind still backs up the setter with a bone-chilling bark and an ankle snapping bite. Visit her at www.autumnjordon.com or her weekly blog www.autumnjordonsnotes.com .
Friday, March 25, 2011
Good luck to all who entered! Congratulations to all who finaled! (And fists shaken at the Fates for all the brilliant books that were robbed, I tell you! Robbed! this year... cuz there's always one that somehow doesn't make the list even though it rocked my ever-loving socks.)
And if you want to celebrate with the giddy finalists themselves as the calls go out, head on over to the Ruby blog where a collection of '09 Golden Heart finalists are hosting an online party to toast the newly anointed finalists!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Reactive Mind (Joss Wheddon Style)
One thing I’m learning as an observer of this thing called life is that it’s not necessarily what happens to us on a day-to-day basis, but how we react to the events surrounding us. Reality TV, anyone? As a writer, this is important. I had to learn that it’s not what the heroine does or doesn’t do in any given situation, but how she reacts to her environment. It’s not what the hero says, as if his statement were a disembodied fragment of thought floating in the air, but how he’s responded to the stimulus provided. If you’ve ever had something you’ve said taken out of context (and looked like an idiot because of it), you’ll know what I mean.
So why is this important? Will it change the way you react to bad news? Good news? To a strong hand resting on the small of your back, guiding you as you enter a restaurant? Probably not, but it might make you more aware of what appeals to you and why. And from a writer’s standpoint, trust me, this stuff is gold.
Let’s say that our hero and heroine are tearing into each other, their lust too strong to hold in check. We can only hope this is in response to an attraction that has been growing inside each of our characters and the tension has been building for some time. But what if instead they’re at a quiet table in a nice restaurant? Same attraction. Same unabated lust. But because of their environment, they can’t act on it. Think about how much stronger a subtle glance will affect the other, a soft touch. If he reaches across the table and runs a fingertip over her wrist, how much more will she feel it because she cannot react openly?
Or perhaps they’re being chased through a jungle, running for their lives because they have the antidote to a deadly virus that has been unleashed on the world. They can save hundreds, possibly millions, and the bad guys want to stop them for reasons I can’t go into here. Let’s just say they have issues. But the bad guys are gaining ground and our heroes know they are going to lose. Maybe the hero stays behind to slow them down so the heroine can get the antivirus safely to the good guys. His reaction is courageous and will have all the girls swooning, but it’s not really all that much of a surprise.
This is where Joss Wheddon comes in.
In Joss’s world, the opposite reaction thrives as he presents twist after twist of the unexpected. Yep, the unexpected. It’s what makes him great. In Joss’s world, you look at your characters, think of the best possible scenario and quite often the most predictable, ie, the hero sacrifices himself to save the world, and you do just the opposite.
The hero and heroine are running through the jungle. The bad guys are gaining ground. The situation is impossible, so the hero turns to the heroine, offers her an apologetic shrug, and trips her to make a clean getaway. Of course, what we don’t know is that the hero has a plan. Heroes always have plans. By tripping her, he’s bought himself some time. He knows that the head bad guy is in love with the heroine and would never hurt her. So while the bad guys stop to see if she has the antivirus, he slips into the jungle and loses them. And then we get to the good part. Now he has to make it to the village, deliver the antidote, and go back to save the girl with stealth and mad, special-forces skill. All of which he accomplishes, naturally. The question is, does the heroine fall into his arms when he saves her, or does she kick him in the shins to teach him a lesson? Like I said, the good part. Whatever you think she’ll do, have her do the opposite.
The stimulus-response paradigm is hardly new, but if we think in terms of the reactive opposite, the unexpected like Joss does, we will have our readers on the edge of their seats trying to figure out what we’re going to do next.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Stephanie Laurens recently started a blog where some of the heavy-hitter authors are discussing the new digital age. Dear Author had a post up a while back about how readers are going to find new authors now as the internet changes everything. And as self-publishing becomes a more and more viable option for those authors who already have audiences, it seems more and more appealing to newbies starting out.
But whenever I hear an unpublished writer say she's made the decision to self-publish, I still have a little internal flinch. Now, I refuse to be as down on self-pubbing as the mainstream publishing community was on digital publishing a few years back. I don't want to be prejudiced and I do think it's a fascinating opportunity... for backlist titles, or continuations of series that don't get the mainstream nod, or veteran authors who already have audiences. But I'm leery of previously unpublished writers who take vocal pride in "going rogue" and "defying the gatekeepers" and jump straight into self-publishing without the seasoning of working with editors & agents in the mainstream channels.
Not to say those untested books can't be wonderful, but the thing is, I've learned a huge amount from working with editors (and I'm still pretty new - there's still much more to learn). They've helped me figure out how to ride with my publishing training wheels. I think authors really benefit from that process. The editors aren't standing between you and your audience, locking the gate. Their job is to get the best possible product to the reader - just like us.
When newbie authors jump the fence, I feel like they may be missing necessary pieces of the learning process - like rejection (yes, a necessary part) and overcoming our own stubborn (stupid) belief that our baby is perfect just the way it is. (I'm more inclined to think my stuff sucks than it is perfect, but I think I might be a minority there.)
I just think there's a difference between a writing veteran taking the self-publishing plunge (because they see it as a better financial bet or they want the control) and a frustrated unpublished writer deciding they know better than publishing professionals. To me, it's about perspective. Both the need for outside perspective, and the changed perspective experience can give you. Again, I don't mean to say that newbie authors jumping straight into publishing can't produce utterly brilliant books, but I have to approach those books more dubiously (and wonder if they wouldn't have been even more earthshattering with a shot of perspective).
I guess my take is... I don't have anything against self-publishing, but if you go that route, please don't be too smug about all the steps you're skipping. The more superior you act, the more inclined I am to think you're setting yourself up for a fall. There's more to it than royalty percentages...
What do you think, as a reader? Are you leery of self-published books that don't have a publisher's stamp of approval? Does an author's previous traditional-publishing-track record make a difference to you? Or do you not give a rip where the book comes from as long as it's good? Have you been burned by a bad self-pubbed book? Will you give them another try?
Friday, March 18, 2011
I want to thank Vivi for letting me babysit her blog for a day while she’s on vacation. I jumped at the chance. Right? What’s not to love? It’s like house sitting for your rich relatives. Swimming in their pool, eating your way through their pantry and watching Pay-Per-View. I think I’ll throw a wild party. And you are invited. Yes, you. And you. All of you. I’m going to do the Risky Business dance in nothing but my underwear all over her blog.
I told her I’d do a blog on What’s Hot and What’s Not. I know what I think is hot and what’s not. Hot is kissing. It can be an innocent church kiss like on The Wedding Singer or a crazy tongue-twirling kiss so hot that steam rises off the couple. Hot is lacing or twining of fingers. So intimate. Again, be it sweet handholding or hands cuffed above the lover’s heads while making love. It’s all good.
I was on a chapter mate’s blog awhile back, and for her the “what’s not hot” was flaring nostrils in love scenes. Not hot, she reported. I’m not a fan of flaring nostrils. I’ve never written about them. I’ve never seen these flaring nostrils in my limited lovin’ experience, but it’s not a deal breaker for me. As a matter of fact, if we’re talking about a demon or shape shifter I might expect some flaring of nostrils.
I love crazy, frenzied love scenes. You know the kind. Clothes get ripped. Furniture is broken. Beds collapse. A trip to the ER is not out of the question. Hot is a hero worshipping the heroine, putting her on a pedestal. And if it’s an erotic, I guess he can tie her up.
I read a book where the heroine licked the hero’s zipper. I’m still trying to get the image out of my head. You too? Sorry. First of all zipper-licking sounds unsanitary and potentially dangerous. It should come with a disclaimer to not try this at home. And now all my men, real and imaginary, wear button fly Levi’s.
What’s hot and what’s not is subjective, like everything else in the writing world. What’s hot to you? What’s not?
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
But the correlation between creativity and reimbursement is an interesting idea nonetheless.
Why is this topical? Well, there's this Bill in Congress about copyright protection as it applies to the internet... and I'm currently in China where copyright protection does not exist. A threat to the protection of intellectual property raises interesting questions.
Would I be an author if I knew I couldn't make a living? If I knew there was no hope of it because the things I had created would be taken from me with no promise of reimbursement? I don't know. I like to be able to eat, so I'd have a lot less time for writing if it couldn't put food on the table. I'd still write. But would I bother to put my work into the public eye?
I don't think Shakespeare wrote because he was getting paid per ticket, but if there hadn't been the promise of a living - in any form, whether a patron or theater-goers - it's entirely possible he would have stayed in Stratford-upon-Avon and been a carpenter who wrote dirty limericks in his spare time.
I'm already in this, and I don't want to give it up, so I hope that regardless of what changes occur in intellectual property in the next few decades, that there are still opportunities for making money in some way, shape, or form with a pen. I'm versatile.
It's an interesting concept to consider. Does the fact that you can make a living as a writer create the atmosphere in which great minds can grow? Or are the two completely unrelated beyond the most general coincidence? Your thoughts?
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Not to worry. Thank you for thinking of me, but please now redirect any good vibes that were diverted to me back to the rescue/recovery efforts in Japan. Thanks!
Monday, March 14, 2011
Today we are joined by fabulous paranormal author Kaye Chambers as our blogsitter. Welcome, Kaye!
Scaling the Wall…
“Don’t stop writing.”
“Never stop writing.”
The advice comes in a variety of catch phrases, but the meaning is the same. Carry the momentum forward, never stop. Because stopping is the enemy. Right?
But, what do you do when you hit a wall bigger than the Great Wall of China? Do you muscle through?
Well, as any writer can tell you, life can get in the way of working. Small things block your creativity. And when the real-world issues aren’t small, the wall grows bigger. Recently, I hit a wall like this. My personal and family persona could not coexist with the writing one. My responsibilities as a wife and mother overshadowed the muse.
I tried to muscle through, keep writing and carry it forward, but the work wasn’t up to par. A fact reinforced by the rejection on my next St. George project and a revise and resubmit on a new project I worked on in an attempt to jumpstart the muse.
So, I did the unthinkable. I stopped. I took a part-time job outside the house for the first time in a decade. I allowed distance to come between me and my computer.
And you know what? I didn’t kill me. It didn’t kill my desire to write.
What it did do was give me a renewed perspective on people, distance from the personal stressors that were getting in the way, and a renewed determination to embrace what it was that drew me to writing as a profession: passion.
So, after a six week hiatus, I’m back to writing in the regularly scheduled time slot. I feel renewed and fabulous about it. Do I think I’ve made it over the wall? No, but I’m halfway up. The words are coming again without tears and pain. I feel comfortable enough in my own skin to slide into that of my heroine.
Stopping is not the end of the writing road. It’s just permission to turn around and look for a new direction. Writing is like life. Sometimes we need to backtrack to get it right.
Have you ever needed a GPS to get you from point A to point B via route C in life?
Friday, March 11, 2011
Free to good home—Holiday Hostage.
Yes, it’s a little late to the Christmas party or early, however you want to look at it. During the transition of Cerridwen Press being absorbed into Ellora’s Cave, my little freebee got put on hold. But it’s here now. Cross fingers. Rub your lucky rabbit’s foot or whatever you rub to get lucky.
Get it now. Save it for Christmas if you’d like.
Why would anybody give their treasured words away for free, you ask? I spend hours hunched over my laptop, wracking my brain for just the right combination of words. From somewhere deep in my mind, I devised a mini plot, micro back-story and teeny tiny conflict to draw the reader into my little world, wrapping it all up in an itsy bitsy bow with a happy ending in less than seven thousand words.
With all the words out there in cyberland, why would anyone choose mine? Because I have so much confidence in my words, I’m giving them away for free, free, free (insert echo here). I’m going to borrow a page from the drug dealer’s handbook and hope you’ll get hooked on my writing and be jonsin’ for a little bit more.
You might think because it’s free, or because it’s short that I may have skimped on the story, on the funny, on the romance. Now is no time to hold back on the goods. I want my reader to come on in, sit right down and be totally satisfied in a single sitting. Wait, now I sound like a hooker. So maybe my writing is a guilty pleasure or a naughty vice you’ll need a twelve-step program to shake. I hope so.
What do you think? Am I a word whore or a marketing genius? Not that I invented free reads? Wouldn’t that be cool?
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Kelly Fitzpatrick - 3.11.11
Kaye Chambers - 3.14.11
Kelli Scott - 3.18.11
Darynda Jones - 3.23.11
and Autumn Jordon - 3.28.11
Have fun and don't get into too much trouble while I'm away.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
1. Ghosts of Boyfriends Past sold to Samhain publishing and will be releasing in ebook in January 2012! Though not in the Karmic Consultants world, this light-hearted Valentine's ghosty-witchy romance has much the same tone as the Karmic capers. Can I get a woohoo?
2. Winter Wishes, the anthology including No Angel and excellent works by Vivian Arend & Moira Rogers, has been nominated for Best Anthology of 2010 at The Romance Reviews. The competition is steep - Burning Up? Inked? Must Love Hellhounds? Jeez-ma-crow those are some flippin' awesome collections. I'm gonna run tell everyone that I'm nominated in the same category as Nalini Singh and Marjorie M. Liu. Just see if I don't. You can go vote for your favorites in all categories here.
3. Serengeti Sunrise is now available for pre-order on Amazon! Click now and it'll be delivered in the wee small hours of May 10th, ready for your reading pleasure. Zoe! Tyler! Shiftery goodness! Woot!
4. And last but not least, Barbara Vey of Publisher's Weekly is holding her Anniversary Bash this week with beaucoup awesome prizes to be won. And I do mean beaucoup. The Rubies are giving away a Kindle loaded up with some great books and there are other ereaders to be won as well. Stop by, hang with some awesome authors, and win some awesome prizes.
Happy Monday! (And t-minus thirty hours til I depart for China!)
Sunday, March 6, 2011
For example: The movie Rango. I was perfectly interested in seeing it, but then I found out that the voice-track for this animated feature was created by putting all the actors into half-assed costumes and having them play out the action on a soundstage in a giant game of Let's Pretend. Not for action capture, just for, I don't know, authenticity? There is no rational reason why that should bug me, but it was a total turn-off. Why? Who knows? I encourage creativity in my nieces and nephews and love when they engage in imaginative play - so why this objection to the same thing?
In another case, a woman on the recent season of The Bachelor entered the show with fangs. Seriously. Fangs. And she turned out to be a pretty quality chick, but listening to her talk about having been turned into a vampire on national television that first night - there was much eye-rolling in Casa Andrews, let me tell you. And that from a paranormal author! Shouldn't I be more tolerant? Ren faires, live-action role play games - some participants take them very seriously, but why do those who seem to buy into their own acts a bit too much make me recoil?
Or character interviews in which we are all supposed to pretend a figment of someone's imagination is a real person. Not in the "If I could ask John Galt three questions..." kind of way but in the "I wandered into Wonderland and sat down with the Red Queen last week" kind of way. Former, cool and interesting. Latter? I'm sorry, but it just feels creepy and disgustingly twee to me. I don't want to join in the delusion. I like my boundaries.
But I love books about bridging them. The Eyre Affaire, Inkheart... so why this visceral, almost instinctual objection to the playful blurring of the lines? I have an active imagination (real surprise, eh?), so maybe the need for the boundaries is the only way to keep that piece from overrunning my mind. That way lies madness. Is it self-preservation? Or something more judgmental (and much less pretty to admit to)?
I'm fascinated by the relationship between life and art, reality and fantasy, but I need to keep the concepts clean and separate. And it's hard to stop my reflexive swing toward scorn when others smudge the lines.
What's your take? Do you ever find yourself slightly annoyed by being invited to join in a grown-up game of pretend? Or am I the only judgmental cow around here?
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Also today, I'm chatting it up at the Samhain Cafe if you would like to join for excerpty fun. Or to ask any questions you might have about... well, anything. Captive audience!
Happy Wednesday, everyone!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
This is (I'm probably not supposed to admit this) my personal favorite of all the books I've written (so far). It was nominated for the CAPA for best paranormal romance and now, ladies and gents, you can get your very own physical, hold it in your hands, give it a good home, sniff it, lick it, love it copy of The Sexorcist in print! It will survive the Zombie Apocalypse when all of our technology crumbles (and you know our technology will crumble because no brain is tastier to a hungry zombie than a nerd brain high on internet fumes) and its handy-dandy trade paperback size make it a useful weapon for fending off hungry zombies! Don't delay, your life may just depend on it!
And speaking of sales pitches that crack me up, have y'all seen the Bass-o-Matic? How much do I love Dan Akroyd? Dude.