Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Tips for Character Building
by JD Seamus
A good friend gave me a tip that I’ve continued to use. As you suggest, his tip was to pick a star to use in character building.
My choice was easy in Last Call. A tough, sensitive, New Yorker who could do comedy. Fuhgetaboutit. Robert Freakin’ De Niro! Forget he’s not Irish but he’s perfect for the role of Jimmie Collins. Bar owner, tough guy, made enough money to go in business by stealing bearer bonds with a couple of rising mafia stars. Close to the church. Treats his bar patrons like family, all around nice guy but will ‘knock you on your ass’ if you cross him.
It was actually fun. My wife would hear me laughing loudly and come into my office to see what the hell was going on. I’d try to explain that it’s how De Niro interacts with Nathan, a small town guy (Randy Quaid-did I mention the guy was a lovable dufus)relocating to New York? She’d just stare and I’d explain it’s how he deals with a big mouth, short Italian (Danny DeVito—just too easy)bar regular who has the worst tailor in the world? Or how he would interact with two Manhattan North cops with career paths heading south (anyone from the old Barney Miller show)? Or a long time bar patron who is witty, tough and has a problem picking men (Annette O’Toole). De Niro lines her up with Nathan after telling Nathan to not hurt her in any way or he’s coming after him. She generally walks out around then and closes the door quietly. I guess unless you’ve banged out a book you can’t possibly comprehend.
Last Call was easy with De Niro. Even the slow times when you’re building characters. Even making his sick wife breakfast in bed is an adventure. Picture De Niro fussing over breakfast and toast is way over his head. He’s trying and trying hard. Got to be perfect-the De Niro way. Picture him walking out of the kitchen, remembering the sweetener at the last minute and putting it on the tray. He puts the whole box on the tray, takes a step then stops. He worries that the box is screwing up his presentation. He frowns. Throwing a leftover rose on the tray, he grabs a soup spoon and shrugs, “It’ll have to do. What the hell? I ain’t Martha Stewart.”
Forget narrative. With De Niro, it’s all dialogue. And that’s my favorite. That’s where I stick it to the competition in my genre. Me and De Niro. Those suckers don’t have a chance.
Novelist JD Seamus has lived and worked among some of the most amazing characters ever to have walked the Earth. After decades of working in the world of retail finance, e-commerce, and venture capital, Seamus began writing a series of novels based in Manhattan. With a keen eye for detail, Seamus takes to heart the old adage to “write what you know.” Borrowing from real life experience, Seamus delivers highly entertaining tales full of sparkling wit and dark humor. Whether pondering life’s most absurd or most wonderful moments, or showcasing a character’s foibles or triumphs, JD Seamus is dynamic new voice in the world of fiction. Seamus may make you blush, he may make you cry, but he will certainly leave you entertained.
Today, Seamus is happily at work on his sixth book in South Florida and dividing his time between his family and Braves and Jaguar games. You can visit his website at www.jdseamusbooks.com.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Do I have you confused yet? Well, for reasons you'll soon learn, I could not post Sue's guest blog on a Saturday, so she's taking my spot today, on a Monday.
We’ve had a lot of fun shining it on Linda Dawda, Brian S. Pratt and Sara Zarr and Jaime Adoff, and it continues shining today!
Today, our spotlight shines on Susan Beth Pfeffer! Take it away Sue!
When Carrie Hinkel-Gill was kind enough to ask me to guest blog here, she mentioned my doing it on a Saturday. I replied that I don't work on Saturdays, since it's my Sabbath, and we agreed that I could pay my visit on Monday instead.
I've been a writer my entire adult life, having written my first book that got published (Just Morgan) my last semester in college. Writing children's books has been my full time job for forty years and seventy-five books (number seventy-six, This World We Live In, the final book of a trilogy which includes Life As We Knew It and The Dead And The Gone, comes out on April 1, 2010). But I've only developed the "No Work On The Sabbath" rule within the past couple of years.
Weekends are a funny time for writers. If you have another job as well, weekends may be the only free time you have to get your writing done. But if, like me, your income derives from writing, then you can do it whenever you want, or whenever you have to.
I used to not work on weekends, my line of reasoning being that my friends- teachers, librarians, journalists, lawyers, whatevers- didn't work on weekends, and it was foolish of me to be working and unavailable at the exact time that they weren't working and were available. Not that they were necessarily all that available on weekends either, but at least they weren't going to their places of employment. And I would urge my friends who were writers not to work on weekends for that exact same reason.
But the older I got, the less I followed my own rules. I got into situations where I had very tight deadlines and it simply made more sense to work all weekend long. Or I'd get so involved with a book that I didn't want to stop, regardless of what day of the week it might be. Or, because I regard the true start of a week as Monday (just as I regard the true start of a year as September), I'd decide to work through the weekend so I'd be finished by Monday. Lots of different reasons.
Then I realized that during football season at least, I preferred working on Saturdays to Sundays. I love baseball, but I can work to baseball (and yes, when I was a kid, I did my homework with the TV set on). But pro football isn't a great background sport (neither is figure skating, which I adore, and which I never work to when it's on, and now that icenetwork.com broadcasts so much of it online, you can pretty much forget about my working for major stretches of time fall through winter). So for three or four months, even though I might work on Saturdays, I didn't work on Sundays, which seemed a little weird even to me, given that my Sabbath runs from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
But what finally got me to a no work Saturday policy was the internet. I began to blog, and along with my blog, I included an email link. People read blog entries and write email when the time is right for them. Their clocks are not necessarily my clock.
I love my blog. I love getting comments and I love getting emails. Forty years of what is essentially a solitary profession and it's immensely gratifying to know people are reading and enjoying what I write (it's less gratifying when they don't enjoy what I write and email me to let me know that, but that's a whole other subject). I answer all my comments and all my emails. I certainly have the time to do that, and it's a very pleasurable part of my job.
But somewhere inside me, I found I didn't want to be on call, so to speak, seven days a week. And that was when I realized the time had come for me to respect the Sabbath and not work in any way from sunset Friday through sunset Saturday.
I'm not always 100% successful. I try real hard not to do laundries then or run the dishwasher, but if I don't remember to get those jobs done by Friday afternoon, then a turn the other way load of laundry may well get done, sunset or no sunset. And since I've never bothered to tell the people who read my blog that I won't respond to their comments or emails on Saturdays, I sometimes feel a little guilty when there's a late Friday comment that goes unanswered until Sunday morning, I have learned not to blog on Friday afternoons, unless there's something so fabulously stupendous to report that I can't make myself wait until Sunday. Which, trust me, doesn't happen that often.
So now, in my own bizarre way, I am a Sabbath observer, and like many Americans, I'm a Sunday NFL observer. The books still get written, the emails answered, and maybe, just maybe, I'm a little fresher on Mondays!
Whispered by Carrie at 4:04 AM
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I am awake tonight doing what I never do…waiting until the last minute! I was one of those annoying students who actually read the text book and studied for the test. I was never able to pull an all-nighter, so really didn’t try.
Today though, the sun was out. I am in Colorado and we have had a cold and very wet summer. I rode one of my horses, walked my little dog, puttered in the garden. It was glorious. Procrastination is often a gift. A new story came to me.
When I tell people I write novels, they almost always want to know, “How did you write a book?” And, “How did you get your book published?”
This is how it happens. I’ll be riding, gardening, just driving to the pool for a swim and my muse grabs me by the throat and demands my attention. I have learned to listen because she doesn’t like being ignored. She gets testy and demands dark chocolate.
Butterfly is the first book in the Fadό Trilogy. Fadό is a word in the Irish language that means “once upon a time.” It is not the first book I wrote. It is actually the fourth. But, it is the first to be contracted and will be released August 7, 2009. (Every time I say “Butterfly” and “released” in the same sentence, I have a clear visual of little red winged insects flitting away on a Colorado Breeze…can’t help it …I just do.) I have been bold about giving anyone who shows the slightest interest in Butterfly, a business card, suggesting they look at my website and MySpace. I am by nature a very private and not particularly gregarious person, but, to my surprise, talking about my book is thrilling and not so daunting as I thought it would be.
I have always had stories, rhymes, tales spinning in my conscious and unconscious. It did not mean I was meant to be an author. Didn’t everyone have characters who talked to them, told them of adventures beyond this realm, legends of new lands, chronicles of love and desire? Didn’t all little girls skip the fragile line from fantasy to reality just as I did on a daily basis? I’m Irish, we love to tell a tale. History and myth coalesce in a magical dance throughout our culture. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
When I was eight years old I wrote one of my stories down, illustrated it and sent it to a New York publisher. Oh how I wish I still had that rejection letter. The only part of it I remember, other than they didn’t want to buy my book, was the encouragement to keep writing.
It was decades later, after raising children, working in a field that challenged me and made me happy, pursuing my dream to train and compete with my horses, loving the empty nest…after all this, I sat myself down and wrote my first novel. I never even had any intention of selling it. That’s obvious when you read it! But, I let some friends read it and to my surprise they actually thought it was pretty good.
Wow! I’m an author. It wasn’t by accident or by lack of effort by any means. I had plenty to learn about the craft. The learning curve has been steep. It isn’t enough to simply pound out the words.
Joining a critique group forced me to focus on writing to a particular market. Butterfly really started out to be only an exercise…a way for me to center on the skills and tools for creating a novel. It turned out I just loved the characters and they told me a wonderful story.
The heroine, Flannery Sloane, is a young woman I would love to call my best friend. She is a blast to hang out with. She’s passionate about life. She makes me laugh, cry and want to be spontaneous. I would be envious that she is cute and plays the fiddle better than me, but she doesn’t flaunt her talents…she brings mine to the surface.
Looking back, I realize that I was either very lucky or in the right place at the right time. Butterfly found a home with a wonderful publisher after only a few months of submitting. The Wild Rose Press has been a great place for a newly published author to learn the ropes. I was also blessed with a great editor Eilidh MacKenzie, who worked with me every step to get my book as perfect as it could be. I have two more books coming out with TWRP: Angel’s Share, a romantic suspense and the second book in the Fadό Trilogy and Hot Flash, a stand-alone novel about a couple’s second chance at love.
Butterfly is available at www.thewildrosepress.com in trade paperback and as of August 7 will be available as an e-book. It may also be purchased from Amazon.com and other online booksellers. Later in August it will be in Borders stores and independent bookstores.
If you have questions or comments about my books please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to my website www.clareaustin.com for excerpts and updates about my writing.
Back Cover Blurb:
Flannery Sloane is a free spirited bohemian with a soul blessed by Irish musical tradition. She doesn’t give a care for where she’s going or how she’ll get there. Joy and passion are her only map. And, though she’s not interested in falling in love, she wouldn’t mind a little fun with a fine looking man. Hunter Kincade looks like he could fill that bill and have a bit of change left over.
Flannery never wears a watch. She’s late for everything but the downbeat of a fiddle tune. She’s happy serving pints in the pub and playing for tips and smiles. Hunter thrives on punctuality. He is in the music business with his focus on the bottom line. The pretty fiddle player with the bright green eyes would make his next production worth the price of a CD.
Their only common ground is the belief that falling in love is a danger to health and sanity.
Will it take more than Irish magic to pull a man like Hunter into the spell of a woman like Flannery? They are all wrong for each other...and they are so right.
He lost sight of the fiddler in the mobs of tourists enjoying the April sunshine.
No sooner had he decided to give up on his quest than he heard hands clapping in rhythm with the beat of the now familiar Irish drum.
Then he saw her.
She lifted her instrument and, with the surety of a bird’s wing slipping through the air, bow was laid to strings and life was breathed into melody.
He moved to the edge of the gathering where he could have an unobstructed view of the musicians. She looked up, and he thought she recognized him for an instant. Then her eyes turned and followed another. She smiled and nodded.
Cade had never thought of himself as the jealous type, but he did feel cheated out of that smile.
As soon as the last vibration of strings quieted, a man Cade recognized from O’Fallon’s came up behind the fiddler and, with disturbing familiarity, spoke in her ear. She responded with a hug and an adoring look in her eyes.
Cade had been raised to be competitive, in sports as well as in business, and the appearance of a rival on the field made him want to draw blood. He wanted the fiddler in his studio, and if she ended up in his bed, that might be as nice.
He stood and listened until the sun set and the air held a chill that thinned the throng. The musicians were packing it in.
He hadn’t realized he was staring, until she walked up to him and stood so
close he could smell the scent of her warm skin in the cool evening air. Her approach to introduction took Cade completely by surprise.
“Are you lookin’ at me or waitin’ for a bus?” she said, one hand on her hip and a sassy smile on her lips.
Flannery swung through the door into the dining room with a flourish but nearly tripped over a bar stool when she saw the now familiar profile, broad shoulders, and curly dark hair of the man who had come to see her sister.
“Sufferin’ ducks, and if it isn’t himself come to brighten the day at O’Fallon’s.” Cade was as
compelling as she remembered. Today he was dressed in jeans, a black knit shirt, leather bomber
jacket, and a slow smile that would stop a saint in her tracks.
“What can I get you?” She thought a couple of shots of good Irish whiskey would sort him out.
“I’d try the fish an’ chips if you would join me?”
She gave him one of her best smiles, turned toward the kitchen, and yelled, “Hey, Jamie, I’m
taking my break. Give us a one an’ one, a serving of the bangers and mushy peas, a couple o’ Harps, and an Inishowen, would you there?”
“Anything for the love of my life,” Jamie called from behind the door.
“Stow it, Jamie Mac!” Flannery shot back, then turned to Cade. “He’s always good fer craic, our
“Craic? Inishowen? One and one? Would you like to translate?”
“Whatta ya mean ‘translate’? You speak English don’tcha?” she teased. “Okay...I’m just giving you a time. ‘Craic’ is fun, ‘Inishowen’ is a whiskey from County Donegal, and a ‘one and one’ is what we, the feckin’ Irish, call fish ‘n chips.”
Flannery’s pulse quickened at the way his dark eyes, shaded by long lashes, swept lazily over her, undressing her, right here in a public place. Yes, as her girlfriends back home liked to say, “He was a ride.”
Thank you for being our guest here today and sharing your story with our readers. ~ The Moonlighters
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I hope you enjoy our new spotlight! We’ve had a lot of fun shining it on Linda Dawda, Brian S. Pratt and Sara Zarr, but it hasn’t stopped shining yet!
This week, our spotlight shines on Jaime Adoff! Take it away Jaime!
I suppose I have been training myself my whole life for this career without even knowing it. I was a musician for many years. Fronting my own rock band for nearly ten years during the 1990's in New York City. It was during this time that I really honed not only my songwriting skills but my performing skills as well. I wrote all the songs for my band and although we came close to a record deal, ultimately, that never happened.
I began writing in the most organic of ways. Beginning with remembrances of growing up in a small town, playing little league, going to different musical shows and concerts. Before I knew it, I started filling up notebooks with poems and short stories, mostly for younger kids. After a lot of trial and error and finding a woman in publishing willing to take a chance on me, I got my first contract in the late 1990's. Soon after, I got my second contract. But because of the business, and the crazy things that happen sometimes, it wasn't until 2002 that my first book was published, which actually was the 3rd book that I sold, The Song Shoots out of my mouth: A celebration of music. That book was a thematic collection of poems celebrating the power of music, through the eyes of kids and teens.
After publishing The Song Shoots out of my mouth: A celebration of music I turned to writing novels— young adult novels aimed at a teen audience. The genre that I write in is called realistic fiction. And in my books it can get very real.
My first YA novel, Names Will Never Hurt Me, was published in 2004 and written in a poetic-prose style that I have since used in all of my novels to date: Jimi and Me (2005) and my latest novel The Death of Jayson Porter (2008). Poetic-prose meaning the novel is written in a series of pieces or poems [a phrase that I (Carrie) like to use to describe this type of writing is proetry]. And those pieces tie together tell the story. Since I began my career as a songwriter then poet, it was only logical and natural at least for me to combine that poetic and lyrical element into a narrative form.
I remember reading the Newbery award-winning Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. That book really changed my life in terms of what could be done in writing a novel. Once I saw what she did in that book, that poetic style of writing that absolute brilliant usage of what is called, "economy of style," [known as writing for conciseness in other areas of English]. Meaning, using the fewest words to convey the deepest and strongest meaning. Once I read that book, a whole new world of possibilities opened up for me. And I literally just experimented with anything and everything, in terms of ways to tell a story.
Writing in this poetic-prose style really affords me the greatest latitude in how to tell the story. Some pieces can be more prose like, some more poetic. Whatever I feel is the best way to tell the story at that particular time is how I will tell it. This style of writing is immensely popular with the group we so affectionately call, "The Reluctant Reader."
There have been far too many occasions to list here, when I have been approached by a teacher at a school who tells me that one of my novels was the very first book one of their high school students ever finished or for that matter ever read. [Wow! He may have something golden here!]
I believe one of the main reasons the poetic-novel is so popular with both middle school and high school readers and especially with the, "reluctant reader," is that once this student opens the book, the intimidation factor melts away. They see a less dense format. They see shorter pieces that can be read relatively quickly. The power and emotional impact of the poetry moves them and catapults them from page to page. They get completely sucked into the book and by the time they come up for air, they've read fifty-pages. That is huge for a teen that doesn't like to read, or has never actually finished a book. [Much like the graphic novel format, small tidbits.]
A teen that loves to read and is a good reader will e-mail and say, "Hey Jaime I started your book in first period and finished it by the end of the day. This gives that student such a great sense of pride and adds to their already budding confidence as a reader. Then there is the student who has never finished a book or who absolutely doesn't like to read. This teen will e-mail me and tell me with a palpable sense of pride, excitement and accomplishment that almost jumps off my computer screen, that they have finished my book, in many cases the very first book they have ever read or even liked, and now they are reading my other books, or a poetic novel by another author. The bottom line for me is, that kid, that "reluctant reader" "that teen", is reading, and not only is he or she reading, they are enjoying reading, and want to continue reading. This is why I do what I do.
The Death of Jayson Porter is probably the toughest, most real, and no holds barred book I've done so far. 16-year-old Jayson Porter's life is absolutely miserable. His world is falling apart around him piece by piece. He lives in the projects; A place called Sunny Gardens: "Twenty floors of delusions and despair" to quote him. His mother is both verbally and physically abusive, his father is a crack addict with whom he doesn't have much contact. He struggles to fit in at a private school that he received a scholarship to.
Just taking the bus to his summer job, is a dangerous adventure in the neighborhoods he has to travel through. Jayson's inner as well as his outward suffering is as real as it gets. His pain can be felt, and heard, but sadly (for most of the book at least), never understood. Jayson believes the only way he can find peace, will be by jumping off the railing of his apartment building, ending his pain forever.
The book has two main sections the After section, which has only one piece, the opening piece where Jayson jumps. And the Before section. Which is everything leading up to him jumping.
Then the After section returns, repeating the moment he jumps and showing the reader what happens to Jayson after he makes that fateful decision. Here is the opening piece:
I am a bullet
screaming to the ground.
The air rushing past me, so fast, I can’t breathe,
I am gasping.
The sound—like a 747 taking off in my eardrums.
Getting louder, and louder.
The ground getting closer, and closer.
This is supposed to get rid of my pain,
get rid of it forever.
This is my cure.
It wasn’t supposed to hurt.
I was supposed to go unconscious,
I haven’t passed out yet, and it hurts.
It hurts ‘cause I can’t breathe.
My chest collapsing against itself.
Squeezing all my insides,
The building is an upside down blur, balconies racing past me.
Now I’m going even faster,
my eyes blasted open from the force of gravity.
I try to blink, but I can’t.
much faster than I planned.
I flip over . . .
I start my re-entry into the next life.
I really hope its better than this one.
I can see a woman pushing a stroller––
a man jogging––
Life . . .
[Not as catchy as seen on the actual page, but close.]
Although I have written books for all ages, I've really chosen to concentrate my efforts lately on books for teens. I just feel that this age group is where there is the most need. That is, there is a need to write stories about the sorts of things teens go through in their lives: the ups and downs, the triumphs and tragedies. Although, some would say I write mostly about the bad stuff. I would say it really is the tough stuff. Those universal problems and situations that all teens go through, and can relate to. Whether it be bullying, the potential for school violence as in my novel Names will Never Hurt Me, losing one's parent and a hidden family secret as in Jimi and Me, or parental abuse and suicide as in my latest novel The Death of Jayson Porter. These are serious issues, for sure, but sadly they are not foreign to any of us.
I do not sugarcoat my novels, characters, or situations; I never shield my characters or my audience for that matter from the harshness of my character's existence. Instead, I let them show me and you how they live, and in Jayson's case, how he wants to die. But even in Jayson's story, there is hope. You may have to trudge through a lot of pain to get there, but ultimately this is a story of hope, and healing, and finding the inner strength to go on, even after all is lost.
Thanks for joining us today Jaime! I think all of us have learned something valuable today! If you have any questions for Jaime, please don't be afraid to ask!
Whispered by Carrie at 8:55 AM
Friday, July 31, 2009
It’s been one of those weeks. Have you ever felt like you were going crazy? Or were too busy to think clearly? That’s been my week. It started off with my son injuring himself at football practice. While the doctor’s don’t believe he broke his wrist, the fact that he’s complaining of pain over a growth plate is cause for concern apparently. So, he received a nice, bright red cast on his arm. We go back next Wednesday to remove the cast, x-ray it again and reassess.
That doesn’t get you out of football practice though. Oh, no, apparently there is plenty he can learn even though he cannot catch the ball or tackle anyone. Between both my boys, I am at football practice six days a week. I’m developing a hatred for football right about now and it’s just begun. *curls into a tight ball and whimpers*
Amidst all the football practice, we’ve had karate classes this week because my boys are scheduled to test next week. Yes, we need to add one more sport into my household. Say, ‘Brain the Mom’ sounds like something I could really enjoy right about now. Yes, that was dry sarcasm and no, I really don’t want to play it. But…give me another week and I may brain myself. ;-)
I registered my oldest son for middle school Wednesday and three hours and three-freaking-hundred dollars later, he’s officially a middle schooler. You know the cost of registration roughly came out to one hundred dollars an hour. Who knew middle school was so expensive. And this is my free public education!!! Wow…is amazed…how much would it cost if I had to pay for it? *insert heavy dose of sarcam and rolling of the eyes*
On top of that, I’ve been cleaning all week…kind of like spring cleaning in the summer. It’s long overdue, but I’m exhausted and running on fumes, I’m ready to kill half my family, they’re probably ready to kill me and I’m told tonight that my in-laws are coming in the morning!! *bangs head against the wall* I don’t mind them coming, I truly don’t, but a little more notice would have been appreciated! Enough notice so I’d have known to actually sweep and mop the floors, or clean the guest bedroom.
So, I apologize for the delay in posting. But I am humbly thankful to Carrie for reminding me that today is Friday and NOT, in fact, Thursday. *facepalm* Calgon…take me away! Or better yet…Jensen Ackles, take me away!!!! *sighs dreamily at the fantasies that riot through my head*
*hears a whip snap and bolts straight up in the chair* Right…back to work!
Hope everyone has an awesome weekend!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Hi there everyone,
Let me just say that I am so happy that Laura J. was able to stand in for Heidi today! I wanted to promo the release of Heidi's new book, but because she is so busy writing a new paranormal trilogy as well as some other books, Heidi regretfully didn't have the time to blog herself. She's having a hard enough time keeping up with her own regular blogging demands of Must Love Yarn and Mistress Heidi's Wips and Chains Dungeon.
*from somewhere off in the corner of the MLM set, the following can be heard*
“Hurry, they’re almost ready to start!”
[heavy footsteps moving into the room]
[eyes roll] “I told you, Laura J. is blogging today at Moonlight, Lace & Mayhem about Heidi.”
[more eye-rolling] “Heidi Betts. You know, our creator. The one without whom we wouldn’t exist.”
“Oh, her.” [frown] “I’m not sure I want to read a blog about her. She’s been a little too intrusive in our lives lately.”
[raised brow] “Oh, yeah? Might I remind you that without her interference, you wouldn’t be here right now.”
[slides next to her on sofa, throws arm around her shoulders before giving a huff] “I suppose. I just wish she wouldn’t be so nosy about what goes on in our bedroom.”
[an elbow in the ribs] “Hey, she’s the reason things are so hot in there. Remember the boas? Totally her idea.”
[reluctantly] “Oh. Yeah.”
“So will you hush up now and let Laura start already? She’s going to be talking about us and I want to hear this!”
“All right, all right.” [pause] “You still have those boas, right?”
“Know where they are?”
“Maybe we could get them out later.”
“So how long is this thing supposed to take, anyway?”
“I don’t know. Let’s ask Laura…”
First let me see say thanks to Carrie for having me stand-in for Heidi today. Hopefully, I’ll be able to fill her shoes nicely or snap the whip accordingly, as the case may be.
I met Heidi over a year ago. Well, “met” is not completely accurate since I haven’t actually met Heidi in person, although hopefully that will change—we’ve got tentative plans for the summer of 2010 ;-)—but I have chatted with her online through her WIPs and Chains blog. Cute title, huh? And it only took me about 6 months to figure out that “WIPs” was an abbreviation for “works-in-progress” not actual whips. (Although those can be fun, too. ;-))
[Yeah, I had a similar experience. I first discovered Heidi on Running With Quills and I was so intrigued that I wanted to check out her "Dungeon," but like Laura, I was confused and closed the site a few times thinking that I accidentally opened a porn site or that her site link had been jacked, but after the fourth or fifth try, I was brave enough to read on and found that the icon I saw was just Mistress Heidi.]
From the day I started visiting the The Dungeon (as WIPs and Chains is affectionately known), I was welcomed with open arms. Heidi clearly loves talking with her fans. Her posts are always so funny, even when she’s going through something traumatic (like surgery) her descriptions of what’s going on in her life are just so funny and entertaining. I started going to her blog every day because I was never sure what would show up there and I just had to know. I love when people can find humor in almost everything, and Heidi is one of those who can. If I am having a bad day, I can go to The Dungeon and know I’m going to come away feeling a little better. Especially on Funny Friday and Sexy Saturday.
[True. If you are feeling sick or off center, be sure to know that Mistress Heidi will "whip" you into shape in no time at all. Although her methods might be considered just "wrong," many of us know the value of good beefcake and have heard that laughter can be the best medicine, at least that's what Reader's Digest always said.]
Last summer, Heidi shared with those of us who visit The Dungeon that she had sold a three-book romantic comedy series to St. Martin’s Press. To say I was ecstatic is a huge understatement. I’m a very picky reader; I won’t read anything scary or suspenseful, but my favorite books and pretty much all I want to read are the romantic comedies. So now, I’m getting my favorite type of books from one of my favorite authors in the whole world!
The first book in this “Chicks with Sticks” knitting (yes, knitting! Heidi has managed to make knitting very funny and very sexy! [and how!]) trilogy was Tangled Up in Love, which came out in February. In it, we met Veronica Chasen and Dylan Stone, two rival columnists who write for competing papers in Cleveland, Ohio. Veronica—Ronnie to her friends—is no fan of Dylan’s to begin with, but when he remarks that men are better than woman in certain areas, she takes great offense. Thus begins a series of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better challenges issued via their respective columns. Now it’s Ronnie’s turn to challenge Dylan again, and thanks to the friends in Ronnie’s Knit Wit knitting group, she decides to dare him to learn how to knit.
This story is so much fun that it had me laughing from the very first page. (It also caused my daughter to ask some weird questions and gain the nickname “B-Girl” in The Dungeon. But she has since learned to leave mommy’s books alone until she’s a bit older. She does though, still look for her Heidi’s books on the bookstore shelves.) Tangled Up in Love is also very sexy. You may very well need hand-knit oven mitts for this entire series, but I can promise you that it’s worth every one of the third-degree burns you might get. I mean, can you say “naked knitting?”
The second book in the “Chicks with Sticks” trilogy is Loves Me, Loves Me Knot, and is coming out next Tuesday, August 4th!!!! It features Jenna and Gage, whom we first met in Tangled Up in Love.
I have been chomping at the bit for this book ever since I finished Tangled Up in Love back in February, so it has been a very long wait. In this story, Jenna and Gage were once married but have gone though a bad divorce. Both of them were brooding or moping through the first book, and you could tell they still loved each other. You just knew they had to have their happily ever after, and thankfully Heidi has delivered. The fact that the hero and heroine are divorced when the book opens isn’t something you see in a lot of contemporary romances. You see a lot of rekindled romances but not rekindled marriages, and I like that Heidi veered off the usual path.
In Loves Me, Loves Me Knot, Jenna wants something from Gage, but she knows he won’t give it to her willingly, so she enlists the help of her knitting group and closest friends (Ronnie and Grace) to get it. Since I have not read this story yet, I can only guess what is going to happen based on the last book and a little teaser that Heidi shared on her blog this past week. (If you’d like a sneak peek, visit The Dungeon) I’m thinking it will be comparable to the antics of Lucy and Ethel (I Love Lucy) or that of Grace, Karen and Jack (Will & Grace), and that can only be a good thing.
But even though I don’t yet know exactly what kind of entertainment Loves Me, Loves Me Knot will hold, I do know that come Tuesday morning, I will be at the bookstore as soon as it opens so I can get my hands on a copy. I’ll most likely have it read in 24 hours, and then I’ll be back to my moping and waiting for the third and final book in this super-sexy, super-funny trilogy, Knock Me for a Loop. (KMFL will be available in February 2010, and here’s a little hint . . . it’s Zack and Grace’s much-much-much-anticipated story!)
I’ll admit that when these books first came out, I was a bit nervous about whether or not they would live up to what I’d built in my head that they would be FABULOUS. It really bothers me when I get really, really excited about a book and then discover while reading that it’s not what I expected. Not that I didn’t like it, it just didn’t keep up the excitement that I built before reading it. With Heidi’s romantic comedies, though, I recommend them to everybody—and I do mean everybody!!! I’ve even convinced a couple of booksellers to buy their own copies of Tangled Up in Love and will soon do the same with Loves Me, Loves Me Knot.
If you’ve never read one of Heidi’s books before—or if you have, but just haven’t realized how truly marvelous an author she is *g*—please consider dropping by The Dungeon for a visit. I promise you won’t be disappointed. And if you’re a knitter (or crocheter), you might also be interested in her side blog, Must Love Yarn.
And because I am such a huge Heidi Betts fan, I am currently moderating (and stirring up trouble on) her YahooGroup, Heidi Betts’s Happy Bookers. We’d love to have you join us for some fun discussions of Heidi’s books, as well as monthly giveaways, casting calls of Heidi’s characters, and deciding what songs should go into creating a soundtrack for each of her stories. [You can also follow the links to Heidi's sites under "Moonlighter Hangouts".]
I also update her Fans of Heidi Betts Facebook page and have recently begun leading a group of Heidi’s readers in helping to promote her books far and wide through her Street Team—lovingly known as Heidi Betts’s Street Walkers. (There’s a bit of a theme going on here, can you tell? *g*) [and the reason why Laura J. is pictured as a "pimp" bear!]
The idea behind the Street Team is basically to supply members with items specifically promoting Heidi’s latest release, then have each of you visit your local book and retail stores to talk her up & draw attention to the newest title. If you’re interested in helping out, please visit the Street Walkers website (http://hbstreetteam.wordpress.com/), e-mail me for more information, or even contact Heidi through her website and we’ll get you signed up!
And, as always, you can learn more about Heidi and all of her books by visiting her website, www.HeidiBetts.com.
But trust me when I say that if you have not read her yet, you are really missing out! And if you have read her, then you know you DO NOT want to miss the August 4th release of Loves Me, Loves Me Knot!
P.S. I was able to convince Heidi to give away an autographed copy of Tangled Up in Love after my visit today. U.S. residents only, please, because of the high cost of overseas postage, but let’s get to chatting about her fabulous books! (She’s even promised to drop in a couple times herself, if she can!)
Remember, to be entered, you must leave a comment to be entered into the drawing!
In true Heidi fashion, here's just a sampling of the beefcake that can be seen in The Dungeon:
Whispered by Carrie at 8:10 AM
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
First, I must make an apology to the authors of this book and their wonderful tour director, Nikki Leigh. This post was supposed to appear on our blog last Wednesday, but I dropped the ball. It never showed up on my calendar, so I did not post it on the day that it was supposed to post. For this, I am deeply sorry (and rather embarrassed). This is just proof that I am one of the people who would benefit from the information in this book.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! Delilah Marvelle’s newest release is LORD OF PLEASURE. His/Her full length historical romance novel is available in paperback August 4, 2009!
Read to the end to find out how you can win an e-arc of the first book in the School of Gallantry series, Mistress of Pleasure!
Places to find Delilah on the 'Net:
My blog that explores Sex Throughout History
My website: www.DelilahMarvelle.com
Books can be purchased anywhere books are sold. Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Borders.
When/how did you know you wanted to write?
Ever since my father read me my first fairy tale, I knew I was hooked on the “what if.”
How long did it take you to become published?
I feel like you're asking for my age, LOL. Truth be told, it took me 11 years and over 200 rejections before I finally got my first contract.
How long does it usually take for you to research a book? Write the book?
I am always researching, whether I am writing or not. I have come to terms that 1830 is the era I will stick with. As I have collected far too many books and done far too much research to leave it behind. It makes writing each book easier in some ways when you stay within the same era. You aren't stopping every two second to see if you're being historically accurate. As far as writing the book, it depends on my mood. I'm usually a pretty fast writer. I can write a 400 page manuscript in 3-4 weeks. Of course, I then spend another 3-4 weeks cleaning it up.
Is there any character in your books that you can really relate to?
I have to say the one person I can really relate to out of all my characters is Madame de Maitenon who is the elderly retired courtesan heading the School of Gallantry (which is a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction). She's been through a lot in life, lost a son, has been degraded for who and what she is, and yet there is a pride and self-respect within her that I admire so much. I've been through a lot during my life and being able to keep self respect after everyone drags you through the mud is really something not only to be proud of, but something I can relate to.
What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?
This industry is a tough one. Be prepared by honing your skills not just in writing but the business aspect. Getting published is just the beginning of a lifelong journey. There are so many obstacles, you really have to be mentally prepared for it. Regardless, don't ever give up on your dream of being published. There is lots of room for new authors in this industry, but take the time to brand yourself. Meaning, stick with the one genre you love most and go for it. Define yourself and your writing in a way no other writer would be able to. That is what is going to ultimately sell you.
Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?
I get a lot of my ideas from researching. So many amazing things happened in history and truth is in fact stranger than fiction. All my characters are pieced together from people I actually know or figures in history. All writing is inspired by reality, my characters are proof of that.
You just recently were published. How does it make you feel?
After trying to get published for 11 years, it was like I won the freakin' lottery. It was amazing. Beyond amazing.
Getting back to your books coming out soon. Tell us a little about what to expect from them.
If you like tons of humor, character driven stories with great sex against the backdrop of history, then I'm your gal. I don't like writing about villains because in reality, we don't meet villains on a daily basis. We are our own villains. And I play with that. A lot.
When and where can we purchase your books?
August 4th is when Lord of Pleasure comes out and you can buy it anywhere where books are sold.
What are you reading right now?
I am actually re-reading Jane Eyre right now by Charlotte Bronte. I read it last when I was in high school and really wanted to revisit it.
Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?
Edith Wharton, Charlotte Bronte, Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Judith McNaught. To name a few.
What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?
Without a doubt, Jane Erye. Mostly because I related to Jane having a stepmother who was verbally and physically abusive toward me. It made me believe that despite so many horrible things that happened to Jane, in the end, Jane rose above it all by being steadfast.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading — and why?
I would have a historical based book club. And we would alternate between romance, fiction and non-fiction. I am obsessed with anything historical but try to be well rounded enough not to focus on just one aspect of it.
What are your favorite books to give — and get — as gifts?
Anything historical. It doesn't matter if it's non-fiction, fiction, romance, paranormal, it's all good.
Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you.
*I believed in Santa Claus until I was 14. No kidding. My imagination has always gotten the better of me and I always had a tendency to want to convince myself that magic did in fact exist.
*The longest book I ever wrote was 800 pages long. Single spaced. It was my first attempt at writing a full length book and I simply couldn't find a way to end it. So I kept writing and writing and writing. It was about the origin of vampires. I cringe just thinking about it but it allowed me to discover the joy of writing.
*I met my husband at a Halloween party. That night I went home and wrote in my journal that he was the man I was going to marry. Lo and behold, I was right. My gut feelings and my writing never lead me astray, LOL.
What else do you want your readers to know?
I love to paint, run (I do five mile runs every other day), cook (I'm a chef by trade, hence the running is *very* necessary, LOL), do kickboxing and love to collect first edition and out of print books pertaining to history. My favorite way to unwind? With my hubbie and my kids.
What are your experiences with publishers and agents?
Having been in the industry for 13 years, I can readily say that this industry isn't just about being creative. It's about endurance. Publishers and agents want the moon and the stars from their authors. And it's up to you to deliver. Because in the end, it's a business. And you are the product. Once you look at it that way, dealing with publishers and agents becomes a lot easier.
What will the role of the Internet play in the future of publishing?
I think it's already playing a huge role. It's bringing readers together, creating communities that otherwise would not have existed. E-books is going to be the future, which environmentally I am all about.
What's your next project?
I have officially started two more series but I am keeping it hush, hush until I get another publisher. Which hopefully will be soon.
Why did you choose your genre?
I have always loved fairy tales. Always. And historical romance simply falls into that whole fairy tale aspect.
Have you ever gotten to a point where a story wouldn't come? If so, how did you get back on track?
I've never had writer's block – knock on wood. Hopefully I'll be prepared for it when it does come...
What do you think is the most important characteristic of a prolific writer?
Being able to keep to a schedule without allowing life to get in the way.
If you could choose one thing to be remembered by, what would it be?
Humor. I love to make people laugh.
How do you come up with original story lines?
There are no original story lines, sadly. Just original presentations. My upbringing and experiences allow me to give an angle that makes it unique. That's what every writer brings to the table.
Some authors start out with a plot in mind, others with characters whom they’ll follow to reveal the theme. What works best for you and why?
I have a concept and the hero and heroine. That's it. Then I sit down and write and get to know the characters and the plot that way. Obviously, I eventually have to plot things out, but I prefer not to. Because if I know how the story is going to play out, I get bored and don't want to write it. I want to be as equally surprised by my characetsr as my readers.
Do you use a pseudonym? More than one? Why?
Delilah is my real name. Marvelle is not. The reason I use a pseudonym is to protect myself and my family. With the internet, the world comes knocking a bit too much.
Many writers have had success writing in different genres. Do you think it is difficult to switch over to another genre?
It's only difficult because in some ways you're starting over when it comes to building your audience. Unless of course you're Nora Roberts. Then that's entirely different. Even though she is writing as J.D.Robb she brings her other audience by announcing on the cover that she is in fact Nora Roberts.
When did you start writing?
I've been writing ever since I could remember.
Where did you receive your most valuable lessons in becoming a writer?
Life offers the most valuable of lessons. When Hemingway was once asked what makes for a great writer, his response was, “An unhappy childhood.” And truer words have never been spoken. There is a reason why writers write. They have a story to tell and have experienced things in life that no one else has.
Do you belong to a critique group or have a critique partner? Which do you prefer?
I have two Critique partners, which I prefer. Anything more than that and I feel I am not giving 100% to the people I am supposed to be helping.
Would you recommend critique groups to other writers? If so, what elements, in your opinion, make a successful writer’s group?
You always want to have a sounding board, at the very least. So yes. I would totally recommend a CP or a group. The most successful, in my opinion, are those that equally spend time on each person. The bigger the group, the harder it becomes. Honesty is also important. There shouldn't be sugar coating. It's not about getting your ego stroked. It's about ensuring your writing is the best it can be.
Do you ever look back and think, "I wish I had written this differently?"
I think every writer goes through that. Because with each book, there is more expereince and understanding toward not just one's self but their writing. If you don't think there's anything you would change, then you're not a true writer. A true writer is always looking to better themselves and their stories.
Is writing your full time job or do you have another job also?
Writing is my full time job. But when I can, I am a personal chef on the side.
How important is it to attend writing conferences?
VERY important. Aside from all the friends I have made throughout the years, it's all about growth. I am always looking to attend classes and learn something new, even after 13 years. Personally, I would not be where I am at if not for the writing community and writing conferences.
I want to thank Delilah for giving us such a wonderful interview today and to let you know that I am part of the campaign to save her book series. Details about the campaign can be found on Delilah's website, but if you were intrigued by her interview and want to read more, do her the honor of purchasing her book and proving to publishers that it is a series worth saving. I am currently reading the first book in the series, Mistress of Pleasure, and will have a review of it soon. Stay tuned! In the meantime, Delilah has graciously offered an e-arc of Mistress of Pleasure to one lucky commenter today, so comment away! ~ Margay
Monday, July 27, 2009
Hey there everyone!
I hope you had a good weekend and enjoyed our spotlight on YA author Sara Zarr and Gracen's review of Carnal Cravings by Keta Diablo.
Because I appreciate authors who say yes when I invite them to blog with us, I try to read everything they write, or at least as much as I can get my hands on from the library. I try not to buy books because, well, the idea here is to get others to buy them after they've been here. Plus, I am a horrid pack rat and refuse to get rid of books. I love books and I keep everyone I've ever bought (including textbooks) because, I have learned that they'll always come in handy from time to time either as a reread for enjoyment or as a reference. Since I would soon run out of room if I purchased YA books before I knew if I liked the author's voice or not, I rent from the library whenever possible. As I find a YA author not on their list, I plan on trying to change that.
This weekend, I read a couple of entries from the anthology Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?. I haven't posted my review on Shelfari yet because I haven't finished it. I kind of want to read all of the entries if I can.
However, I think that this book is definitely good for all YA to read and can become a good discussion point between parents and children. The essays in this book are a multi-faceted teaching tool. It explains to adults (mostly parents, but not always) how they can, without intending to do so, effect the eating habits of their children. Don't be fooled, eating habits have less to do with knowing what makes a good, well-balanced meal than they do with environment, self-esteem and tastes.
For example, how many of you remember those cartoon ads that said, Don't Drown Your Food in mayo, ketchup or goo? Well, I do, but it hasn't made much difference in how I eat my food. As much as I like the taste of a potato, if I want sour cream on it, I'll put sour cream on it. If I want to taste the butter on my potatoes, I'll add a bit more than usual. As for my eggs, I like cheese on them [yeah, yeah, I know big shocker with me being from Wisconsin and all].
And, if you read some of the parent magazines, they can suggest mixing peas with honey because it's sweet and sticky and it can be "fun" for kids to try to see how many peas they can get stuck on the spoon or knife. There are other similar suggestions like this such as covering broccoli with cheese. Why? Because kids naturally do not like the taste of vegetables, especially when they know what junk food tastes like. Plus, when you eat the same foods regularly (I have way too many food allergies to try new foods and shellfish can kill me as far as I've been told), you need variety to make it different, so you add things to change the flavor and texture. Some people load their food with spices, some with ketchup, some with gravies and some with dairy products. But to what extent, all depends upon the individual eating the food. So, if they learn to eat their vegetables this way, chances are, they will do this as they get older.
So, that leaves self-esteem and environment. Well, if a person can feel good about themselves, they can be comfortable with their bodies, it kind of goes hand-in-hand. If a person feels bad about themselves, chances are they won't feel good about their bodies.
As you can probably figure out, the environment a child lives in shapes a child's self esteem and how he/she sees food. If you use ice cream or some other sweet treat to comfort a troubled (upset, hurt, etc.) child, as Pavlov's dog learned to salivate to a bell, so will a child learn to eat when depressed. Same goes if that child sees a parent eating when depressed or upset, that's what they'll do. Of course, if you teach a child to treat food like an enemy (in other words, teach them to equate "thin" with "pretty"), that can make them accept or develop eating disorders more readily.
Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Sure, it seems like common sense that everyone should know. But, we all do it, destroy a child's self-esteem, again and again without thinking about it. We do it as children when we innocently describe someone as fat because we don't know any other way to describe them when someone doesn't recognize them by name and other factors such as hair color or style or the presence of eyeglasses won't help. We do it as adults by hooting and hollering for too-thin women or overly muscled men. We do it as parents when we demonstrate/reinforce poor eating habits, make snide comments about out of shape or imperfect people, making direct comments about they way a child looks, or constantly subject them to the media's idea of what makes a "fabulous" body. We do it as grandparents when we try to counteract those effects. We are surrounded by the potential to develop poor eating habits.
So, how do you, as a parent or grandparent, combat these issues and reduce the risk of an eating disorder?
1. Demonstrate good eating habits by eating properly yourself
2. Do not use food to make someone "feel better"
3. Encourage good exercise habits as well as serving size limits
4. Show your children the images of the best looking women of the past - you'll learn something interesting.
Well, when you look at the beauties of old, you see that even though they were thin later on, when they started, they looked like the rest of us, curvy.
Norma Jean Baker's (bust-waist-hips) measurements fluctuated all her life and on different sites will be stated anywhere between 36-24-34 to 38-23-36. [I know, when she died, she was 5'7" and 117 pounds and had size 7 shoe, but you get the point, she wasn't perfect, not by a long shot, but confidence made her sexy.]
Rita Hayworth's measurements (during the war years): 36.5-C-24-36 and she was 5'6" and 120lb with a size 5.5 shoe. One of the biggest sex symbols of all time.
They were curvy, and if you looked at them right, you could see that their stomachs, while small, were not flat.
While thin, they were not flat, but curvy. If interested, check out some current actresses measurements. But Kate Winslet [check out this article] has to be the best example because she makes a 29 inch waist sexy.
But that's not the only thing to do. Do your research and be sure to point out that most of these so-called "perfect" sex symbols were not happy.
Someone posted a similar question to Yahoo! answers (UK and Ireland). Check it out because the general consensus is that what makes a person beautiful comes from inside. If you are happy with your self and smile from within, the beauty radiates from the inside out, but they make equally good points that being really heavy is not good for your health.
What does all of this have to do with Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?. Well, the book can be used to help teach people the effect their words can have on other people and how important it is to learn to accept people for who they are not what they look like. It can be a tool to help children with similar issues learn that they are not alone in how they feel and offer tools that can help them to start changing things for the betterment of themselves and do it the right way.
What about you? Do you have any similar stories to tell?
Whispered by Carrie at 2:55 AM
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Today Sara Zarr stands here in our spotlight answering questions I ask her, and any that you [the reader] can think of.
Sara - like many writers, performers and actors - comes from a family of creative people. A big part of her entertainment came from the library. For a kid, the library is a free form of entertainment and escapism and Sara's family took full advantage of that, as you can read about in her bio.
Like many authors are doing these days, Sara has created a really nice FAQ Page and a very in depth section on why she writes called, On Writing. She also tends to cover some very interesting topics on her blog.
Let's get to the fun stuff!
I just finished reading Story of a Girl and Sweethearts – both were fantastic! I wasn’t just watching a story unfold, but I felt I was right there, next to the main characters. Very well done. [Click here to see my comments about these books and her short stories on shelfari.]
Utah living has influenced your writing, as can be seen in Sweethearts:
Q. Did you take the school referred to in Sweethearts from reality or is it completely made up?
A. I made it up, and I can't remember exactly why I chose a small charter school as the setting. I think it just felt like something that would help me control the plot a little more easily and make the backdrop a bit more interesting.
Q. How did you know that these kids (non-Mormon) were treated that way? Was it something you observed or learned about through children and parents that you met?
A. I only moved to Utah after age 30, so I don't have personal experience in that regard, but having talked to non-Mormon friends who grew up here (and some parents who live here) I did hear some stories about how religion can be a dividing line, socially, for kids. Of course that's true in any community where one race, ethnicity, class, or religion is predominant. It has nothing to do with Mormonism - it's human nature to divide ourselves into insider/outsider cultures.
Q. Both of the main characters are on the fringe of society. What made you choose this character type over say a more popular girl?
A. Outsiders tend to make more interesting stories, I think. Most people feel like outsiders when they are teens, whether they really are or not, and giving the characters some tangible outsider-ness helps give flesh to that feeling of being alone, like no one understands you, or that you've got some kind of dual real/fake self.
Q. Would it be safe to say that you draw heavily on some of your own personal experiences to tell Cameron’s and Jennifer’s story?
A. Yes and no. The story was inspired by a childhood friendship I had. Through the wonders of the Internet, the boy and I found each other again in adulthood and I was curious to explore what makes that bond so strong though we hadn't seen each other in 25 years or so. And of course I always relate emotionally to my characters. But, the details of Jenna/Jennifer's life, the details of Cameron's life, those are made up.
Q. Story of a Girl seems like such an unfinished novel because we readers aren’t really sure what’s going to happen with all three of them (in truth, it is unlikely that Lee and Jason will stay together forever and there seems to be unfinished business between Jason and Deanna. Now, I know you state that you have no plans on writing a sequel (however, I hope you do because these are some really interesting characters and I’d like to know more about them), but could you please share a little bit on what you feel their story might be if you decided to write more about them?
A. Well, they are all very real to me, and I imagine they're out in the world living their lives. I picture Deanna at community college, making new friends and playing a role in her baby niece's life. Her relationship with her parents is still conflicted, I'm sure. Lee probably went away to college and is detaching from her high school experience. And Jason? I don't know. Maybe he got out of Pacifica, but maybe he didn't.
I do get asked a lot for sequels to both Story of a Girl and Sweethearts; I think people want neater endings than I tend to write. If I wrote sequels to either of those I'm sure I would still write ambiguous endings and some readers would want still more!
Q. In December 2008, you participated in the anthology, Does this Book Make Me Look Fat. Please tell us a bit about the story you included in that anthology and why you chose to do participate?
It's a collection of essays and stories about body image. Like most women, I've had my share of body issues, and then some. In that essay I focused on the fact that I had to learn how to not hate myself before I could truly make any progress toward positive change. So one reason I participated is that it's a topic I'm always interested in. Another reason is that I try to say yes to almost all writing opportunities, if they fit in with my schedule. Trying new things scares me, and I'm very insecure, so in order to help myself overcome my fears and insecurities about writing I sort of made a deal with myself to try everything I get asked to do. It's a good way to stretch.
Q. Geektastic just came out. What can you tell us about the story you have in that anthology?
A. It's a somewhat humorous piece of short fiction called "This Is My Audition Monologue," and it's written from the point of view of a teen who tries out for every school play but always ends up on the tech crew, and she's fed up. She wants a part! She wants her drama teacher, at the very least, to remember her name. It was fun to write.
Q. Do you like contributing to anthologies?
A. Yes! Working in short-form writing is totally different than writing novels, and as I mentioned I like the chance to push myself and try new things. The Geektastic story was particularly fun because I was in the middle of a really hard revision of Once Was Lost, which is fairly serious. With the short story I could play a little bit.
Q. How do you become involved in them? By invitation or do you search them out?
A. So far they have come by invitation. That's one of the perks of being a published author (and I think my blog helps, too).
Q. Once was Lost is set to come out in October. It sounds like an interesting story. Can you give us a sneak peek into the story? What can you tell us about the story, that’s not on your website?
A. I guess just this: though it's written from the point of view of a pastor's daughter, and it's partly about a crisis of faith, I think readers of any or no religious faith will relate. No matter what beliefs or non-beliefs we grow up with, we all come to a point of questioning and challenging those things and making them truly our own.
Q. As you discuss on your website, and most authors already know, books are usually written well before their release dates. Do you have any projects that you are currently working on? Can you tell us about them please? At least as much as you feel comfortable discussing with us here.
A. Currently I'm working on my fourth YA novel. I'm in the not-talking-about-it stage right now, sorry! All I'll say is that it was one of those unexpected ideas that came about when I was doing a simple writing warm-up from a book of writing exercises (Naming the World, edited by Bret Anthony Johnston).
Q. Is there anything going on with teens today that you think should be covered? Needs they have that authors could meet? What and why?
A. "Meeting needs" is a lot of pressure to put on an author. Sometimes in young people's publishing, people expect writers to be social workers, therapists, experts on particular issues, parents, and teachers. We're not - we're writers, telling all kinds of different stories. That said, I think the huge range of stories, styles, and formats available in YA fiction now covers pretty much all the bases!
Q. I was actually thinking of them in terms of readers, such as, what they want to read (not what parents expect writers to do, but what teens, as readers, want from authors). Have you been hearing any calls for certain types of stories recently? Just to give us an idea of what kind of trend we might start to see.
A. I think there are going to be more stories about faith and the religious lives of teens over the next couple of years, as this has been one area that's been a little thin.
Q. Can you tell us about your awards?
A. Both Story of a Girl and Sweethearts have gotten some award action. The biggest for me was that Story of a Girl was one of five finalists (in its category) for the National Book Award in 2007. It's given by a panel of other writers, so it's kind of like the Screen Actors Guild award for writers in that it comes from your peers, who do what you do and know all the little details of the craft. So that meant a lot. Plus there is all this hoopla and a black tie dinner and a press conference that makes you feel like a celebrity for a couple of days.
Getting awards and being named to lists is of course great for the ego, and can be good for your career (though it may or may not translate into more sales), and can help you find a wider audience. However, awards and lists don't necessarily do those things, and don't make the process of writing any easier, don't magically give you confidence, don't fundamentally change anything about you. And, they don't matter much to anyone outside of the publishing and book world. When I found out about being a NBA finalist, I discovered that most of my friends and family had never even heard of the National Book Award! So that's humbling, in a good way.
I would like to thank Sara for joining us today. Feel free to leave your comments or ask Sara questions!
Friday, July 24, 2009
By Keta Diablo
Buy From Dark Roast Press
Warning: m/m gay fiction
Just like with Decadent Deceptions by Keta Diablo, she again drew me in and I couldn’t tear myself away. From almost the beginning, she had me holding my breath when Craven and Anthony are caught by the hooded figure on Beresford’s property. And then anxious again as Crave awaits his punishment for trespassing.
Carnal Cravings was a great read from beginning to end, spicy hot, but you’re forewarned, if you don’t enjoy gay fiction, then skip it. But if you do, pick it up and be prepared to love it as much as I did. Because I loved it so much, I gave Keta 5 out 5 MLM kisses!!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Reese’s Sites are:
How long did it take you to become published?
How long does it take for you to write books?
Is there any character in your books that you can really relate to?
Do you have any projects you are currently working on?
Do you write your stories out with pencil and paper first or do you work straight on the computer?
Thanks so much for joining us today, Reese! It was an honor and a pleasure getting to know you!