Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Doomsday Brethren, Interview With Shayla Black

October 5, 2009

The Doomsday Brethren, Interview With Shayla Black

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I started reading about an intriguing world created by Shayla Black (aka Shelley Bradley) and knew that I not only had to read the series, but have her as a guest Over Coffee.

I’m pleased to have had a chance to talk with Shayla a bit about The Doomsday Brethren Series and Seduce Me In Shadow, released September 29th. Shayla Black is a national bestseller and writes various genres, and now paranormal/urban fantasy romance.

When Shayla says, “Magic has never been so devastatingly sexy,” she means it. I have to tell you that her heroine, Sydney, is not the only one that thinks Caden MacTavish is yummy (as you know, I do have a weakness for sexy Scots). Get out your fans, girls, you’re gonna need them, because we’re talking a very hot hero.

Come Join us, OVER COFFEE. Gotta question for Shayla? What’s on your mind?

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Author, Actor, Director

September 30, 2009

Author, Actor, Director

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Directr2

Many writers will tell you they see their stories unfold in their head, much like a   movie.

Is that the case with you?

I attended a writer’s workshop recently that discussed using theatrical techniques   when writing your story. It was presented by an actress and author (Leanna Renee Hieber) and was a fun workshop. I came away with better visual ideas for my writing.

The author is not only writer, but also:

  • Cinematographer and as such you’re in charge of the setting, picture, mood, and ambiance of each scene in the story.
  • Director whose job it is to set the staging, pacing, and viewpoint
  • Actor. As an actor you have to delve into the character. What’s the character’s motivation, how should the lines be delivered, how do you use the dialogue to show your character and his/her inten
  • Marketing Director and as such what’s your movie poster quote? The one line pitch or tag line? You’re a brand so how do you present you and your work?

I’ve gotten stuck now and then, while writing. You know when you know something is wrong but you can’t quite figure out what. It’s frustrating. I had a light bulb moment as I was listening to the speaker. Leanna said, never forget your characters. They are what drive the book. If we’re writing, editing, or have gotten stuck ask yourself as the actor:

1444002 What’s my motivation?

How am I going to get what I  want (intention and tactics)?

What’s the conflict? Or what’s keeping me from getting what I want?

What’s my environment and how is it affecting me? This is context.

My light bulb moment was, wow, I could use this for character and dialogue but I could also use this when crafting or editing my scenes especially if I’m stuck. It would help me look at each character within the scene to see if they’re reacting true to their GMC and is the scene being written to the best dramatic advantage.

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Do you use any of these techniques when you write or edit?

What are your thoughts on this?

When I Make It Big…

September 23, 2009

Sia McKye’s Thoughts…OVER COFFEE

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Diana CrowningWeb[1]It’s my pleasure to have Diana Castilleja, author of Aiza Clan Shifter series, as my guest today. Diana writes paranormal, romantic suspense, and erotica as Diana DeRicci.

Diana discusses how writing has evolved over the last decade, as well as some well thought out advice about the writing process, our attitude towards rejections, and knowing the market we’re for which we’re writing…

I’m asked often what my advice would be for new writers just starting out.

There’s the basics:

  • Learn your craft, the skill of writing correctly without losing your innate flair and voice. Remember, the story you write, can only be told by you. Also understand that all the *rules* out there, aren’t in stone. Write the story the way you would want to read it. Only written words can be corrected and improved. A blank page is fodder for the crayon box.
  • Realize rejection, while tough, isn’t personal. It truly, really isn’t. Your story with all its wonderful twists and characters, is one of probably a hundred different story lines the agent, editor or publisher has looked at just that week when they finally reach yours. There’s places all over the web that discuss the most common rejections and why they happen. Everyone gets rejected. It’s part of the business. You’re not failing because you receive rejections. You’re succeeding because you are pushing forward, because you are driving yourself for more. Be proud.
  • Understand the market you’re writing for. Sounds simple enough, huh? Not exactly. Your market is going to change probably close to yearly as your style, voice and talent improve, as new authors arrive on the scene and mold the current reading selections, and favorites inspire whole new worlds. Sometimes the best thing you can do is generalize your story and let the publisher et al decide where to place it. Remember, this is a very fluid industry. Trends change on a nearly quarterly cycle with publishing. Aim for your genre and learn where your writing fits best. It’s not a reason to panic.

 

  • Lastly, glaciers move faster than any facet of the publishing industry. Different methods are faster (ebook/small press) or slower (New York) but it all still takes time. The best way to combat that impatience sitting on your shoulder? Write your next story. You might just discover something new that hadn’t appeared in the previous one. A new tangent, a new skill, a new idea. That’s what makes writing so rewarding, at least for me.

So when I make it big, I can say I knew me when, because I’ve already experienced a lot of this, and know I have a lot more rolling down that hill to smack into me at any given moment. Is that impending trouble enough to make me stop writing? Honestly, no. I have locked up with writer’s block, for a whole year once. I refuse to let that happen again, but I can’t see myself willingly tossing in the towel and never writing a tortured hero or a messed-up heroine again. I’d probably drive my family insane if I did. I’m sure they’d be grateful if I didn’t.

Do you see rejections as failures?
How have you evolved as a writer?

What are your thoughts on this?

Unplugging: Balancing Promotion And Writing

September 7, 2009

Alison Kent One Good ManUnplugging: Balancing Promotion And Writing

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I’d like to welcome Romance Author, Alison Kent, Over Coffee. As you’ve noticed, she has a hot new book available this month, One Good Man.

Today, online promotion is a way of life for authors. Publishers expect more and more from authors in selling and promoting their books. For authors that means Social Networking and blogs. How much is too much? How do you find a workable balance between necessary promotion and time to write your stories? It’s not an easy juggling act and has no definitive solution. Each author has to decide what works best with their deadlines.

I’ve heard many of my writer friends discussing the need of limiting their online time. Alison talks about what works for her.

This time last year, my husband and I were getting ready for a long overdue getaway. I hesitate to call it a vacation because I was the one in need of a break and he was being the good sport that he is and indulging me. I’d been on constant deadline for years (approximately nine) and had but one book left under contract. I couldn’t even think about diving in. I was spent. The getaway had to happen.

Backing up to August of last year, I’d been in my dentist’s waiting room where I saw an article in Texas Monthly about the 25 best swimming holes in Texas. There was one, a spring-fed pool where swimmers – and scuba divers – shared the water with turtles and fish. It was in far West Texas. In the desert. In a state park. In a town of 500. I was SO there. I booked us a room for 4 days. It was an 8-hour drive.

I ate it up. Every minute. I unplugged. I read. I walked. One day I swam, but it was freakin’ COLD, so I left most of the swimming to the husband. We brought our laptop, and the park offered free WiFi, but it would only connect from the picnic table behind the park’s office. The husband would stop there to check the Web on his Blackberry (he is NOT a fan of unplugging), but I didn’t check mail or blogs or anything for almost a week. I did have emails from my agent and editor forwarded to my phone, but since nothing was going on, no negotiations or revisions, it was a precaution in case something came up.

Nothing did, and I loved that week so much I wanted to marry it. I would’ve stayed another. I would go back today. The kitchenette and bathroom in the park’s motel was a modular unit circa 1960. It was clean, but funky, like living in an travel trailer. I didn’t care. I used the time to visualize the book I would have to come home to write. I set it in the same area. I used the places we visited, turning the town of Fort Davis, Texas into my story’s Weldon. I breathed the air my characters would breathe. It was bliss.

I don’t know about other writers, but I’ve found that being constantly connected to the world outside my head plays havoc with the world inside where I get paid to play. When I worked outside the home, my need for adult communication was met during the 8 to 5, and my time at home was family and writing. It worked well. Sure, I emailed and blogged at home, but I got a whole lot of that done on my lunch hour (or while working because it was that kind of casual office), so again. My time at home was family and writing. My real world and my fictional world. I kept the social networking to office hours.

Now that I’m writing full-time and can check email and blogs on my phone and computer (unplugging is more a matter of discipline than technology when everything in the house is wireless), it’s harder to compartmentalize my lives. Stalled on a paragraph? Check email. Frustrated with getting a conversation to ring true? Read blogs. The never-ending stream of information is not a good thing. For me, anyway, and I can’t imagine there’s not some detrimental effect on anyone who creates and needs focus.

That week away with the husband really brought home my need for creating in an environment where I talk to–and listen to –no one but my characters. I’ve pulled back a lot from social networking because of the silence of that week. It was an invaluable lesson in how *my* brain works. Since I have a business online, I have to check my client email once a day, but I try to spend at least two days a week offline completely. I don’t always succeed because I have friends who are my writing cubicle mates. They keep me sane, and I need sane to function. I can Twitter from my phone, sharing what’s on my mind without having to interact. I’ve stopped thinking I MUST blog every day, and am now doing so only when the mood strikes. There’s still a part of me that thinks I need to be out there more, but my books are feeling so much better, richer, deeper now that I’m giving my story people my full and undivided attention.

What do you think? Do you ever find your focus splintered and feel the need to spend some quiet time, if not in the desert of West Texas, then at least away from the nonstop bombardment of information?

*~*~*~*~*~*~

The Wandering Writer

August 10, 2009

Tessa Goddess of The HuntThe Wandering Writer

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To catch a wild gentleman,
a woman must be
bold, brave, and very brazen

My guest today is Historical Romance author Tessa Dare. Her bold debut is a trilogy released July, August, and September.

As with all writers juggling their passion of writing with and busy home life; for Tessa, finding quiet time to meet her deadlines isnt an easy thing to do. If you cant write at home in your own office what do you do?

Tessa tells us how she handles the juggling act of author, wife, and mother:

I have a very small house. I have two very young children. I have a very big dog, and a very talkative husband.

For me, writing at home is nearly impossible.

People are always asking me, “Gee, how do you find time to write with two young kids in the house?” And my answer is always, Uh…I don’t.”  Even if they’re not home, I never get much writing done in my house. There’s always some household task to distract me–like that ever-growing laundry heap that seems to be a sock away from gaining sentience and taking over the world. In order to write, I have to leave the housework behind and the darelings at preschool or with my wonderful husband—and then go far, far away.

Or at least, to the nearest place with comfortable tables and coffee. Starbucks, Paneras, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Borders, Corner Bakery, McDonalds…all my books have been cobbled together during visits to these establishments. It’s a wonder I don’t gain twenty pounds with each manuscript! I’m a painfully slow writer. A good writing day for me looks like this: 3 hours at a café, 1 large coffee, something indulgent and chocolate, and 1200-1500 words to show for myself at the end.

When I get behind on a manuscript and really need to focus, I wander even farther afield. I use Priceline to get a bargain rate on a nice hotel, and I leave the kids with Mr. Dare for the weekend so I can write, write, write in solitude. My two accommodation musts? An in-room coffeemaker and no free Wi-Fi.

It’s funny how I can look at my books now and remember where and when I wrote the key scenes. “Awww, I remember writing this scene while I ate that awesome caramel-chocolate bar in the lobby of the community center.”

What lengths will I go to next? My critique partner, the soon-to-debut Courtney Milan (www.courtneymilan), once spent a week in Costa Rica in order to work on a manuscript. I’ve got a book due on October 1st, and a tropical getaway is sounding pretty good right now…

How about you?

Are you able to concentrate on writing (or studying, or other work) at home? If so, please tell me how. Really, I beg you. Please.

Tessa’s Website: http://tessadare.com/

Tessa, SurrenderCOMING AUGUST 25, 2009:

Desperate to escape a loveless marriage and society’s constraints, pampered heiress Sophia Hathaway jilts her groom, packs up her paints and sketchbook, and assumes a new identity, posing as a governess to secure passage on the Aphrodite. She wants a life of her own: unsheltered, unconventional, uninhibited. But it’s one thing to sketch all her wildest, most wanton fantasies, and quite another to face the dangerously handsome libertine who would steal both her virtue and her gold.

To any well-bred lady, Benedict Gray Grayson is trouble in snug-fitting boots. A conscienceless scoundrel who sails the seas for pleasure and profit, Gray lives for conquest—until Sophia’s perception and artistry stir his heart. Suddenly, he’ll brave sharks, fire, storm, and sea just to keep her at his side. She’s beautiful, refined, and ripe for seduction. Could this counterfeit governess be a rogue’s redemption? Or will the runaway heiress’s secrets destroy their only chance at love

Chat with the authors of Real Men Last ALL Night

August 3, 2009

Chat with the authors of Real Men Last ALL Night

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My guests today, are three special and talented ladies. Lori Foster, Cheyenne McCray, and Heidi Betts. I’ve read and enjoyed their books. Each write wonderful books but they also have written an anthology, along with Lora Leigh, Real Men Last All Night. The title made me laugh because it sounds like something said among women. The cover is oh-la-la.

Ive never written an anthology, although I’ve read many. A couple of my favorites were when the authors wrote connected stories, shared characters, and related plots. Not all anthologies do that. Some are merely themes where the authors contribute a story.

I had the opportunity to chat with Lori, Chey and Heidi about their anthology and what we can expect from them in the future. Being the curious person I am, I had several questions, which they were gracious enough to answer. And we also get a peek at the covers of their next releases and a bit about the book.

Some of the questions covered:

Many dont have a clue as to how anthologies comes about. Could you share a bit about the process? How you get the assignment. Do you get to choose the authors you work with? Or are you just assigned a theme to work with?

Each of you writes romance. I know a couple of you write in the para sub genre, like Chey and Lori. Is Real Men Last All Night, strictly contemporary romance?

Each of you writes some pretty hot and sexy stories. How do you define sexy? Is it the way a person moves or acts, his eyes, the way he talks, or perhaps his humor?

I know each of you have a new book due out this month. Could you tell us a little bit about the premise and the characters? And when can I buy it?

Finally, you’re all accomplished and well-read authors. What advice you would offer an aspiring author today?

Follow the link above and come join us OVER COFFEE.

Sia McKye

July 31, 2009

Sia McKye

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Mr. Darcy, Vampire
Amanda Grange

Sourcebooks, Inc

**ON SALE: AUGUST 11, 2009**

A MARRIED MAN IN POSSESSION OF A DARK FORTUNE MUST BE IN WANT OF AN ETERNAL WIFE…

I’ve read Pride and Prejudice more than once as well as many of Jane Austen’s stories. I’ve also enjoyed the screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. I will confess, however, I’m not a big fan of Austen fan fiction.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, aroused my curiosity. It was certainly a different take on the characters of Pride and Prejudice. Beloved Darcy as a Vampire? I wondered how Amanda Grange would handle the whole thing. Would she be true to the characters and the flavor of the era? Would she totally modernize the vocabulary and the actions of the characters and settings or maintain the expressions and culture of Regency England?

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, starts out like a sunny day with a storm brewing on the horizon, which gradually hides the sun and changes the atmosphere…

For the full review: http://siamckye.blogspot.com/

Biting the Nail: The Discipline of Writing

July 22, 2009

Biting the Nail: The Discipline of Writing

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My guest is award winning author, Vincent Zandri. Zandri’s writing has been described as “poignant and shocking” with “depth and substance, wickedness and compassion.” He wrote the critically aclaimed As Catch Can. Vincent’s new book, Moonlight Falls will be released later this year.

How does someone who works full time as a freelance writer and photo journalist, a father, and author, manage it all? And do it so well? I hear he has an alluring partner who helps…

“Where do you get your discipline?”

That’s the question I’m asked most frequently about my solitary writing life. Most people who work according the programmed schedule of job and career find it inconceivable that a person can actually roll out of bed, face a blank page, and begin to make words. Yet, as writers, that’s what we do. We create and in order to create we have to have discipline. Discipline to work alone, according to our own rules, according to our own high standards, according to our own priorities and curiosities.

Acquiring discipline isn’t so hard when you are passionate about your work—when you have a desire not only to write well, but to do it better than anyone has done it before. At the same time you have to develop a skin of armor in order to feed the obsession. The first most important lesson of the disciplined writing life is learning that you’re not always going to be successful. Most of the time you will fail and must face the resulting rejection head on. That’s the most difficult thing about discipline: carrying on with your work unabated, even in the face of rejection.

So where does my discipline come from?

As clichéd as it sounds, I can only tell you that it comes from deep inside. It’s not something I have to work up; so much as it’s something I have to feed on a daily basis. Discipline means waking up early every day, day in and day out, and writing. It’s writing everyday in isolation no matter what’s happening in my life. Be it sick kids, angry spouses, insolvent bank accounts, a broken toilet, a terrorist attack… I write no matter what. Hemingway called this sometimes impossible but necessary process, “biting the nail.” And anyone who has the discipline to write every day no matter what, understands what biting the nail is all about. Writing, like the discipline it requires, can be an awfully painful process.

Back in 1992, I wrote in my published essay, A Literary Life, “In the morning, weariness begins with darkness. It surrounds me inside my kitchen like a weighted shroud, cumbersome and black. It continues as my fingertips search and locate a light switch next to the telephone, above my son’s hi-chair. White light stings my eyes when I flip it up. There is a clock above the sink…I interpret a big hand and little hand that have not yet made 6:00AM.”

Those were the days when I wrote in the mornings, worked a fulltime job and received rejections everyday. But still, I crawled out of bed and wrote. I guess all these years later, I can truthfully say, discipline is what I had in the place of sleep, in the place of comfort, in the place of security and success. Discipline was and remains the bedfellow I seek when I am at my most lonely.

Eventually the discipline would reap its rewards.

In the 12 years since I’ve earned my MFA from Vermont College, I’ve published three novels, with one on the way this winter. I’ve been translated into numerous languages. I’ve published almost two-dozen short stories, countless articles, essays and blogs. I’ve traveled “on assignment” to China, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Africa and more. Along the way I’ve met wonderful people, seen wonderful things, witnessed atrocities, unspeakable disease, hunger and corruption. I’ve written about much of it. Some of it, I’ve simply stored away in my brain for some future story or novel down the road.

For all its rewards, discipline demands stiff payment.

Because of my priorities, I’ve failed at two marriages and many more relationships. I’ve lost friends and lost the faith and trust of family members who have come to think of me as unreliable or flaky at best. Because after all, I tend to use a holiday like Christmas as a time to work, and when family events like birthdays come up, I might be traveling or locked up in my studio with my significant other…Well, you know her name. It starts with a D.

I have managed however, to find a way to balance time with my kids. Not that it’s always been easy. Children are a distraction, no bones about it. But they are also fuel for your discipline. I’m not entirely certain that I could have achieved any kind of success without them. Children open up emotional vaults that would otherwise remain sealed shut. You need to expose the contents of these vaults in your prose.

My writing simply wouldn’t be the same without kids. Now that they’re almost grown up, I still keep them as close as possible without smothering them. When it comes to my children, my philosophy has always been, hug them, tell them you love them, and make them laugh once a day. You’d be surprised how well this works. Also, don’t be afraid to tell them the truth. They know when you’re lying. If you can’t spend time with them because you have to feed the discipline, be honest about it. They will appreciate you for it and come to respect you.

Case and point: it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I’m writing this article. My children are home, just outside the closed door of my studio, where I can hear them engaged in some sort of friendly argument. I’m not doing anything with them per se. But I’m here with them, for them.

This month alone I will write and published 36 short architecture and construction articles, three major blogs, present a revised version of The Concrete Pearl (my fifth novel) to my agent, write one or two features, engage in pre-publicity for Moonlight Falls, and maybe, if there’s time, pen a new piece for my personal blog. In between all this, I’ll juggle time with the kids, time for exercise, time to tip some beers with friends, time for a few road trips, time to be by myself and read. Have I mentioned the discipline required to read books?

One word of warning, the discipline, no matter how beautiful a bedfellow, does not always respond lovingly. Even after you’ve scored a major book contract or two. During my second marriage, I suffered through a writer’s block that lasted five long years, a period during which I published not a single word. The block just happened to coincide with my oldest son’s nervous breakdown and the onset of severe depression (see “Breakdown,” http://www.blnz.com/news/2008/11/12/Breakdown_8563.html). At that time, as I neared bankruptcy (after receiving a mid-six figure advance for As Catch Can), I never once stopped working, never once veered from the discipline of waking up every morning and trying to write. “Trying” being the key word here.

Looking back on those difficult years, I realize I wasn’t writing so much as I was just typing, but the process helped me cope with some very difficult and serious issues in my life. If nothing else, the discipline to write can be a mighty powerful therapy.

Eventually the damn breaks, as it did in my case, and I made a return to good writing and publishing. I’m not making millions by any means, but I make a decent living as a freelance journalist and novelist, and that’s all anyone can honestly ask for.

The late great Norman Mailer also understood about the financial ups and downs of being a fulltime writer. But more importantly, he understood about the discipline of biting the nail. He wrote 2,500 new words a day right up until the end when his kidneys failed him. It wasn’t the disciple or the talent or the mind that gave out, it was the 84-year-old body. I’m told he died with a smile on his face. Not the kind of smile that accompanies peace of mind, sedated painlessness, or “going to the bright light.” But the kind of smile that only a disciplined writer can wear; the sly grin that means you’re about to embark on a brand new adventure, and that you can’t wait to write about it…

How To Sprinkle Your Articles With Humor

July 17, 2009

How To Sprinkle Your Articles With Humor

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“There are very few good judges of humor, and they don’t agree.” Josh Billings

I’ve posted several articles on writing humor. One thing most everyone will agree with is that writing humor is hard work. You have to spend a lot of time looking for just the right word or phrase or device to put the sizzle in you writing.

Even then, how do you know others will think what you wrote is funny? Maybe your twisted, little mind is the only one laughing. Professional comedians try out their material over and over again, honing every nuance and inflection. The average writer definitely does not have the time or access to do that.

If you’re writing an article that is meant to be humorous, these obstacles come with the territory. But, what if you’d like to add a little humor to a regular fiction or nonfiction piece, and you don’t have the time, or the inclination, or your comedy muse is on an extended vacation?

My suggestion is Quote the Experts.

You can add humor to any article with a few well-placed quotes from people who get paid to be funny. A few sources:

John list some resources and how to use them.

Come join in the discussion.

W Is For Writing- Lane Robins

July 15, 2009

W Is For Writing And Structure

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My guest today is author Lane Robins, also known as Lyn Benedict (Sins & Shadows).

Lane’s topic for discussion: how to keep control of a story, both in character arcs and plot lines. Especially with deadlines looming. I’ve seen all sorts of visuals and story building devices to keep everything straight. Her visual is an intriguing concept.

Writing is the best job ever. It gives you the opportunity to create worlds, characters, plots. You get to play with magic, religion, history. Best of all, you get to play with the office supplies.

Call me irrevocably warped by long afternoons in my father’s office, but I adore office supplies. As a writer, I get to use them whenever I want. However I want.

Every writer has their own process to creating a novel; mine involves a rainbow of sticky-notes and posterboard.

For me, novel genesis goes something like this:

I clear off the table, or at least half of it. I lay out a piece of foam core, posterboard, sheet of cardboard. I take the cats off of it. Repeatedly. Then I draw a giant W with a black permanent marker…

Come Join in the discussion. What works best for you?