I am so excited to welcome as my guest today the talented Janet Mullany, author of The Rules of Gentility and the new book, A Most Lamentable Comedy. I had the extreme pleasure and honor of interviewing Ms. Mullany for Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem, and of reading her newest book. Below, I offer a review, but I promise to keep it brief so we can get right to the interview!
A Most Lamentable Comedy: My Review
Just one look at the cover to this book is enough to tell you that you are in for something different. A simple brown cover with baby blue lettering harkens back to a day when things were less flashy and stories did not rely upon shock factors to set themselves apart from the rest. But do not let the simplicity of the cover fool you; this book is anything but simple. It is a complex, intriguing tale of two people scheming to out-do the other in their desperate bid to achieve financial gain before their pasts - and creditors! - catch up with them. Throw in a cast of characters worthy of the masters and you have one rollicking tale of missteps and deliberate miscommunications on the path to Happily Ever After.
A Most Lamentable Comedy tells the tale of Lady Caroline Elmhurst, who has had her share of questionable relationsips on her quest to find financial sustenance, and who is fleeing from her ever-expanding list of creditors as fast as her scheming can take her. It also tells the story of Mr. Nicholas Congrevance, a man living off of his good charm and other assets, who finds himself in desperate need of a financial infusion and so is on the hunt for a well-endowed mark whom he can separate from her fortune with said charm. And in a twist worthy of her forefathers and foremothers of fiction, Ms. Mullany sets these two upon each other with what one can only call a devilish delight. Throw in a house party, a rendering of a Shakespearean play, and a congregation of quirky characters, all scheming for their own benefits, and you have a tale that will delight you long after the last page is read. If Shakespeare and Austen had a literary child, her nname would be Janet Mullany.
And now, without further ado, here's my interview with Janet:
1. Janet, can you give us a little background on yourself and your writing?
I was brought up in England and had a varied career as an archeologist, draftsperson, classical musical radio announcer, arts administrator and editor/proofreader for a small press. I now live in the US near Washington, DC. I’m a late bloomer. I think one of the smartest or luckiest things about my writing career was that I waited until later in life when I’d read very widely and then started to write fiction when I had few outside commitments—my daughter was old enough to handle burned dinners, for instance. I’d always written but it was generally work-related.
2. Why did you choose the genre that you write in? Do you have plans to write in any other genre? If so, what one?
I call my current genre Regency chicklit, because I think that best defines it in a few words, and it has some of the technical aspects of chicklit (first person, present tense narration). I started writing it to entertain myself and first Harper Collins (who published The Rules of Gentility in 2007) and the UK publisher Little Black Dress became interested. I'm Little Black Dress's only historical writer and I have another book coming out next year and then a third to write (I have no idea what that will be)! I’m also contracted to write two paranormals starring Jane Austen for HarperCollins (speculative historical fiction with a bit of romance thrown in) and also erotic contemporaries for Harlequin Spice under the name of Liz Diamond.
3. Can you give us a blurb about your latest book, A Most Lamentable Comedy?
The heroine is a Bad Girl—she’s on the run from creditors and meets up with the hero, who’s looking for his next victim, preferably a pretty, rich, gullible widow. They successfully persuade each other they’re rich, but are then confounded by falling in love. They do end up with each other, but their HEA is equally dependent on finding friendship and community as well as love. And it’s funny!
4. The title sounds very Shakespearean. Was that deliberate? What do you think is the significance of that title?
Yes, it’s from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, taken from the full title of the play Bottom’s troupe performs—The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe. The first half of the book revolves around an amateur performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and toward the end there is actually a scene where Caroline and Nicholas (h/h) become lost in a wood that assumes an identity of its own.
5. You chose to write A Most Lamentable Comedy in first person point of view, from the heroine and the hero's perspective. What were the challenges of getting into the mind of Nicholas and making his character ring true?
He was fun to write but I thought I’d created a sex-machine monster! I had to work at making him more likeable and giving him other attributes—he’s nice to kids, for instance, and is good with his hands (in the sense of being able to fix things!).
6. Is it fair to say that this book is a comedy of manners in the tradition of Shakespeare and Austen?
I don’t know if it’s fair but I’m certainly flattered! I’m influenced by Austen, as is everyone who writes romance, and Shakespeare seems to creep into my writing quite often.
7. What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
A guilt-free good time and the urge to tell their friends about it!
8. What are you working on now?
I’m working on my first book for Immortal Jane Austen (HarperCollins) which is scheduled for release for next summer. We don’t have a title yet although my editor has already turned down my suggestion of Blood Bath--it's set in the city of Bath--and my brother’s suggestion of Austen Powers!
Thanks for having me visit, Margay, it's been fun!
Janet, it has been an absolute joy to have you with us today! I can't thank you enough for spending the time with us and giving us such a wonderful insight into your world of writing.
If you would like to learn more about Janet and her books, here are some links:
where I blog (Thursday, usually) http://riskyregencies.
Link to buy Comedy with free shipping worldwide (the book doesn't have US distribution)--http://www.
Note: There is a possibility that Janet will be giving away a copy of A Most Lamentable Comedy today to one lucky reader, so be sure and leave a comment for her. Believe me, you will be glad that you did; this is one entertaining book! I'll keep you updated.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I am so excited to welcome as my guest today the talented Janet Mullany, author of The Rules of Gentility and the new book, A Most Lamentable Comedy. I had the extreme pleasure and honor of interviewing Ms. Mullany for Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem, and of reading her newest book. Below, I offer a review, but I promise to keep it brief so we can get right to the interview!
Monday, August 10, 2009
Between my fridge acting up (Of course, it also distracted me so much that I almost forgot that it was my blog day!), preparing for a couple days of down time, website maintenance and all the guest blog stuff, I am surprised I have time to breathe, let alone write, but it finds a way. Sure, I may not be writing much, and it may still be in my head, but the ideas are ever forthcoming and inspiration is always there in the form of tiny details.
Who cares about tiny details when you have to come up with thousands of words?
Well, it's those tiny details that come now, that will allow for lots of words, situations, characters and their dialogue later that you never would have considered if it wasn't for one tiny detail.
What's nice about tiny details is that they can stay tiny or they can become huge to a subplot or the main plot.
For example, a detail about a secondary person could be that they craft glass flowers. This detail can remain minor in the sense that it was how they came in contact with the main character (much the same way as buying a horse or a book can be minor) or it could turn into a huge facet of the plot.
In this instance, the focus of the plot could be some majorly antique and priceless crystal artifact that someone is looking for. You could go through the entire plot twist to find that the item in question gets destroyed or lost at sea.
Well, the item that everyone was chasing is a complete fake (or hoax even) and it is later discovered that the artist in question (who had very little to do with the rest of the story), is the creator of the fake artifact, but knows where the real one is and who has it, leading up to what could be the biggest action of the book or a great opening for the next in the series.
If any of you have read Ice Blue by Anne Stuart, you see a similarity here, only in this book, her tiny detail was that the item in question was a ceramic bowl. If you haven't read it, I'm not going to spoil it for you. It was a RITA Award-winning novel and I thought it was darn good and well worth a read!
So, the next time you're frustrated about just getting tiny details, show your muse you appreciate them too, and eventually, the rest will happen.
Happy Reading and Writing! Always use a bookmark and never dog ear the pages.
Don't own any bookmarks? Well, besides all the ones you can print on paper for free, you can always contact authors (like Heidi Betts and Lori Foster) and get free ones.
Know any authors besides Heidi that offer free bookmarks? Let us know and we'll start compiling a list of where you can find free stuff from authors.
Whispered by Carrie at 2:17 PM
Sunday, August 9, 2009
This Saturday, I finally (contest started back in June) took the plunge and entered the America’s Next Best Celler Contest, sponsored by Dorchester Publishing and Textnovel.com. The purpose of the contest is to find “the next new voice in romance,” according to Dorchester’s site.
The contest will run until November 1, 2009. By then all entrants should have posted twenty chapters of their novel or a total of 6,000 words and the top 20 semifinalists will be chosen. On November 15, 2009, the top 10 finalists will be chosen. Finally, on January 31, 2010, the overall winner of the contest will be announced.
And the prize?
A guaranteed contract with Dorchester Publishing and a $2,000 prize. Not too bad a deal. And with the success of other voting-based contests, such as Gather.com’s First Chapters contests and Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel awards, it is certainly a positive step in the path toward publication for aspiring novelists. If nothing else, the contest will serve as a barometer for how viable a story is and will help the author build a following and readership.
Here's the short description I wrote for the introduction on Textnovel:
Athena Willoughby is a cynical gossip columnist with a passion for Jane Austen novels. So what happens when she wakes up one morning in Regency England, in a scene that could have come straight from one of her idol's books? She learns how gossip was spread in a time without the internet, of course!
Like many of my ideas, it was inspired by a simple phrase I read on Twitter, “What would Perez Hilton think of Catherine?” The question was followed by a link that to the site for a new book about Catherine de Medici. Well, of course, that phrase inspired the inevitable “what if” questions in me and it wasn’t long before an idea began to formulate.
What would happen if a modern day gossip blogger found herself in a time before the Internet, or even the television and radio? How would she get her gossip and, more important, how would she report it?
So, if you’d like to become a part of Athena’s misadventures in Austen’s world and follow me on my journey through the process, please check out my story and let me know how I’m doing. I would love to hear from you. For more on my reasons for entering the contest, you can read my post on Serializing the Novel. ~ Margay
Saturday, August 8, 2009
As I've said before, we’ve had a lot of fun shining our spotlight on some very fine young adult authors so far. In fact, I will continue with this list until I feel it is utterly too long (maybe renew it every six months). We've brought Linda Dawda, Brian S. Pratt, Sara Zarr, Jaime Adoff and Susan Beth Pfeffers (but on a Monday), into our spotlight we affectionately call the moon and stars, and today is no different!
Today our starry-moon spotlight shines on author Christine Hart.
When you read her bio, you'll find that she is based in Victoria, British Columbia, that she writes ya and speculative fiction, that she "crafts jewelery, takes pictures, draws, and paints" when she's not in the woods or on the beach.
While you do see some interesting groups that she belongs to, as well as images of her beautiful and interesting crafts, you are left with a feeling of wanting to know more about the author, because it just doesn't feel like enough. So, my first round of questions are targeted to learn more about Christine Hart, the person.
Me: I looked on your website to get more info about you, but there wasn’t much there, so I’ll start with some questions about you:
Q. You graduated from the University of Victoria and are currently based in Victoria. Have you lived anywhere else other than Victoria? If so, where and for what time periods?
A. I’m originally from Edmonton, Alberta – and lived briefly in Calgary - but I grew up mostly in Vernon, BC, having moved there at age 7.
I lived in Vernon until age 17. Almost immediately after I graduated from Clarence Fulton Secondary, I moved to Victoria to pursue my degree at UVic.
Q. Have you always wanted to write creative fiction?
A. Despite the fact that my favourite subjects in school were consistently art and literature, I had always planned on becoming a lawyer. I chose UVic because their law school was very well esteemed. However, I had a first year English teacher who mercifully took an interest in me and urged me to pursue writing.
I loved to write, but I still felt I had to be sensible, so I took a minor in professional writing, primarily training me for journalism and communications. I also took courses in technical writing, web design, and creative non-fiction – the latter being my favourite by far.
[Now, that story sounds a little familiar, nudge, nudge, wink, wink... see my blogger profile...lol...]
Q. What made you choose young adults as your target audience?
A. Finding young adults as an audience was about as straight a path as finding fiction to begin with. I’d been working with youths as an employment counselor, writing freelance career articles for that age group when I decided to start dabbling in picture books. I was trying to embrace my abandoned love of visual art and create both the illustrations and story.
After I’d written two picture books, I realized two things. I’m a better writer than I am an illustrator. Sad, but there it was. And I also had a difficult time connecting to the age group. I decided to set picture books aside until I had children of my own and could better understand my audience. It was a small step from there to start writing for an audience I already worked with every day.
Me: Here come the harder questions
Q. Are you married? – How long and to whom? – If not, why not?
A. I’m married to my not-quite-high-school-sweetheart, Jeff. We started dating after my first year of university and were married last August. We’re almost at our first anniversary, but we’ve been together for over 12 years now.
[Congratulations on your first anniversary! BTW, now I don't feel so bad, my husband and I were together for 9.5 years before making it official. We just celebrated our 6th anniversary.]
Q. Do you have children? – How many, ages and boys and/or girls? – If none, why?
As above, no children yet, but it’s probably just a matter of time. I’ve always planned for it, but I seem to keep planning for more adventures in the meantime. Another trip. Another book. But I know life will slow down enough at some point.
[Life doesn't have to slow done. We haven't stopped, but we also don't feel that kids are in our future, what with 13 nieces and nephews... If you feel like us, that's okay. It doesn't make you selfish, no matter what some might say. There's nothing wrong with feeling complete with just two people after all.]
Q. Do you have any pets? – Number, type, etc.? – If none, why not have a pet?
A. We have two male cats:
Spike - our temperamental tuxedo cat was a 20th birthday present from Jeff
Sam - our very large long hair white & ginger cat was a spontaneous decision and ... well, he looked smaller in the window. [don't they always, small and cute...]
Me: Now on to book related questions:
I just finished reading Watching July, which I gave 5/5 stars to on Shelfari and Goodreads by the way, and I have a few questions:
Q. People usually take inspiration from what they know and love, so what from your life inspired you to write this suspense, mild paranormal, abusive teen relationship that you did in Watching July?
A. I did have a somewhat abusive relationship as a teenager myself. I’ve had other relationships that were also less than positive. So I drew on personal experience for the relationship aspect of the novel. For the supernatural, it’s more of a deep and dividing fascination.
Q. Were any of the characters in the novel based on people you’ve known, met or read about?
A. I don’t have any characters that reflect specific people; they’re more generally influenced by archetypes that stood out from my younger years.
Q. The dialogue for the book seemed pretty realistic, how much research did you have to do? Did you have to talk to a lot kids to figure out what they would have done or where they would have hung out?
A. I think the dialogue comes from my own memory and having worked with youth for several years prior to writing it. I was 26 when I started writing July and 29 when it was released, so hopefully I was still relatively in touch with the teen mindset. That and I have always resisted assimilating myself into the professional and corporate worlds my jobs exposed me to.
Q. The parental figures in your book are lesbians. Did you choose that just to add another dimension to the story or was it influenced from your own life (please elaborate on your answer, thanks!)?
A. I’ve had this question a few times and I’m still not sure I have a satisfactory answer. I don’t have any gay family members, but through friendships and personal beliefs in equality, I think it’s something we need to work towards normalizing. It seemed to me that weaving alternative lifestyles into our social fabric, bit by bit, is the best way to help cultivate an atmosphere of acceptance for youth to carry forward. But I didn’t intend it to be really that loaded – it’s much more of a side-plot.
Q. Can you give us a little bit more on the Miss Pine Valley Pageant? Is that based on fact or something you just made up?
A. In Vernon, we did have a pageant for local girls. The community had started referring to it as a “scholarship program” by the time my friends were old enough to enter – and several of them did. I remember watching Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants on television as a child and genuinely loving it. I don’t recall an exact turning point, but by my late teens, I’d become totally disillusioned by that world as I began to fully understand words like “objectification” and “self-esteem”. I felt it would help develop July’s character to see her react to being nudged into the pageant world.
Q. Any plans on writing a second novel to Watching July? In other words, could Ryan possibly return to July’s life?
A. My original ending wouldn’t have allowed for a sequel, so I hadn’t planned for it in the beginning. I’ve since thought about the opening for July’s story to go a bit farther, but I haven’t had the right inspiration just yet.
Me: I see that you have a new book called Best Laid Plans set to come out in October of this year.
Q. Why the new publisher?
A. That’s an interesting story. I had actually started Best Laid Plans before Watching July, but abandoned the project after sending out a few sample chapters.
Towards the end of completing the first draft of Watching July, an editor from my first round of queries followed up on Best Laid Plans and asked to see a completed manuscript. I rushed to complete the previously abandoned story, but sadly, the finished product wasn’t accepted for publication.
After Watching July came out, a new publisher contacted me and asked if I had any other young adult novels available - and it just so happened I did.
Q. What can you tell us about Robyn Earle that isn’t on your website? How old is she? What does she look like? Where does she go to school? What’s her personality like?
A. Let’s see … Robyn is 18, she has sandy-coloured hair, average height, a slender figure, but not athletic. She goes to Lakeside Secondary, which isn’t a real school, although her hometown of Coldstream is a municipality adjacent to Vernon, where I grew up.
She has a very strong work ethic and academic devotion, which is completely at odds with her parents’ lifestyle. Robyn’s driving force is her sense of urgency to cultivate a path that takes her away from the poverty she’s known all her life.
Q. Again, how much of this story is taken from real-life influences?
A. Robyn’s story is much closer to the people and places I grew up with myself. I come from a fairly normal middle class home, and although in my family we had our share of struggles, I saw a lot of hardship in my friends’ lives. We were all part of a rural community, dependent on tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing.
Q. Why choose to have an affluent aunt in the family rather than focus on a climb from poverty?
A. Like many extended families, Robyn has relatives both better and worse off than her own. In the case of her aunt’s home, I wanted to illustrate that complexity and give the reader more contrast between Robyn’s home and the lifestyles she sees her peers living.
Q. Where can we get an excerpt?
A. Go to www.chapters.indigo.ca
Me: Now let's get back to you:
Q. Any other books in the works yet? What can you tell us about it (or them)?
A. I’m currently working on a collection of short stories and a trilogy – all falling under the category of speculative fiction. I enjoyed the supernatural element of July’s story so much that I’ve taken every opportunity to explore that world further.
Q. Tell us about your jewelry. Tell us about your pieces, what drives you, why Steampunk, Cyberpunk and Trashion and Wire? Give us the stories behind your creations. For those of us not in the know, can you please offer an explanation of the different types? Thanks!
A. Ah, yes, the jewellery. That is a bit of a wild card in my life and I’m still not totally sure where I’m going with it. Like writing, I’d been doing it for longer than I’d even realized by the time it became something serious. But developing jewellery-crafting skills came more out of filling a practical personal need. I’m very petite and the only way to get a bracelet, ring (size 3 for my ring finger), or choker sized just right was to make it myself. (I also wear children’s size shoes, but I hope I don’t get started on footwear.)
A friend turned me on to the world of Steampunk (think Wild Wild West or The Time Machine) last fall and I haven’t looked back. The aesthetic seemed a natural fit for some of the imagery I saw in my writing in-progress. Online research quickly led to Cyberpunk (think Borg drones from the Star Trek world), which in turn led to Trashion (fashion from trash).
Most of those themes are generally defined by their aesthetic, but all have a philosophy behind them. Definitions vary, but I like Wikipedia’s version of all three. For my own interpretations, the common theme is re-using and recycling mostly old watches and computer parts. I try to use as little new material as possible, which does tend to give my designs a distinctive look alongside traditional accessories.
The necklace and earrings photo I’m enclosing represents a favourite commission from earlier this year. My first retail experience was with a wonderful lady who owned a funky boutique in downtown Victoria. One day she gave me a beloved silver bracelet that didn’t really work for her as it was. She asked if I could, “turn it into something else” and I decided to make it a necklace and earring set, adding a few other spare parts along the way.
Thanks Christine for joining us today and providing such fabulous answers! Please feel free to ask Christine questions or leave her some comments as she'll stop by from time to time throughout the day!
By the time Christine and I finished our interview, Spike and Sam - well, see for yourselves!
Whispered by Carrie at 2:28 AM
Friday, August 7, 2009
Again, I’m sitting here thinking what to write about. I cannot seem to get my head off the things that I need to get done for my son’s spend the night birthday party tomorrow, or football practice or karate testing….all of that is taking up the space in my brain and hindering my creativity.
How do you free your mind of the crazies of daily life to find that inner muse? Because I’m finding that even when everyone and everything is silent in the house, I still am unable to wind down enough to tap into that muse zone. *sniffles back tears* I’m the type of person that writing is like my exercise. When I am writing, it puts me in a better mood, makes me feel better, alive, more jubilant. When I’m not writing, especially for long periods of time, watch out!
As much as I hate for my muse to go on vacation, it has been helpful this week. I finished up my synopsis, edits and cover letter on WytchBlood and managed to get it submitted. Now…*crossing my fingers*…the anxious waiting begins. The waiting drives me nuts. By nature, I’m not a patient person, but waiting to see how someone likes or dislikes my “baby” is even more nerve racking.
So, while it was productive for the muse to be on hiatus…I want her back…desperately. I’m starting to feel lost and out of sorts. Any suggestions on how to coerce her back?
Have a great weekend everyone!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Today's guest author is Chris Evans. I didn't discover him the way I usually discover authors, I just stumbled upon him, blind luck really.
Sometime in early November, I was standing in line at the library with a tall stack of books in my hand when I saw this eye catching blue colored book jacket with a sword on the cover prominently displayed on a rack near the checkout counter. I picked it up, read the blurb on the back, saw that the main character was an elf with the last name of Swift Dragon [okay, so I put up an image of Legolas], and I knew the book was for me and added it to my stack. I've never heard of the author before, but I didn't think anything of it, because there are a lot of authors out there to be discovered.
I usually hear about fantasy authors from a friend, family member, or the guys at the gaming stores, but I've never just "happened" upon them, so this was a momentous occasion. That wasn't the only thing that made it momentous. See, I didn't read too close when I grabbed the book. When I realized that it was about Iron Elves and they used muskets because he was a historian by day, albeit a truly clever idea, I didn't see it that way at the time and became rather leery about the book altogether.
I thought, what is this guy doing? Well, I wanted to know so bad that I kept reading and by the time Konowa Swift Dragon and his wild creature-pet Jir come on the scene, I was hooked! I was blown away by the detail and the world he created, so much so that I sought out his website and set off to learn more about him and this new trilogy that has captivated me.
Chris wrote what he knew and made it work. When we created Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem, I just knew that I was going to ask him to guest blog with us because I felt people should know about his books. While they are fantasy, there are also paranormal and romantic elements to this tale.
Yes, there is a romantic aspect that exists between Konowa (an utter outcast living in the wilds) and Visyna Tekoy, a highborn daughter of an elfkynan governor. There is definitely a connection brewing between them, but their familial stations keep them apart as well as some of the choices that Konowa makes along the way.
Yes, at the end of the novel the relationship seems in tatters, yet there is a ray of hope. This is a relationship that will span at least through two novels, possibly three.
So, if the relationship doesn't really happen, why would I consider it romantic? Because, all the while I'm reading the passages with these two surrounded by war and death, I kept wanting the relationship to bloom and waiting for it to actually happen is excruciating and against the traditional "romance novel" idea of a romance, but quite in tune with a fantasy genre idea of romance.
Think about it, it's like watching a TV series where you can feel that sexual tension and you keep thinking, "Damn it, would you two kiss already!" That's the relationship of Konowa and Visyna in a "nut shell".
Okay, I've rattled on enough, so let's bring on the guest of honor, Chris Evans! Oh, did I mention that he's not only an author, but an editor too? And, he's going to have some hints for us, so stay tuned!!
Okay *drum roll please* Here's Chris Evans!
My name is Chris, and I lead a double life. By day I’m the editor of history, military history, current affairs and conflicts books for Stackpole Books. Being an editor means existing in a demi-deity/demi-dementia state, acting as gate-keeper and choosing whom to welcome into the realm of published author. It might seem that editors dash the hopes of many an aspiring author, but the unfortunate reality is that most writers present themselves already pre-dashed. This, however, doesn’t have to be the case. Before I was published, I was every bit the babe-in-the-woods myself, knowing little about how publishing worked and even less about how to crack the code. That leads to my other existence, author of the Iron Elves series, an epic fantasy of elves, dwarves, magic and muskets. Carrie’s graciously invited me to talk a bit about my new book, The Light of Burning Shadows, and share a few insights from inside the world of publishing, and I appreciate the opportunity.
Whenever I talk about writing I invariably start by talking about reading. It is simply the best fuel out there. Whether you’re an aspiring author or an aspiring human being, reading is good for you. If you’re reading Carrie’s blog then you already know this. Reading lubricates the brain and keeps it running and wet (which is good for a brain). TV, on the other hand, usually acts as an anesthetic.
If you’re new to the world of the Iron Elves I suppose proper introductions are in order. The series launched last year with A Darkness Forged in Fire. The world is one where magic and muskets coexist, so a time period roughly similar to the late 1700s/early 1800s. It chronicles the adventures of the Iron Elves, a regiment of soldiers cursed with immortality as they seek to overthrow the elf witch, the Shadow Monarch, and preserve the empire they are bound to serve. It’s certainly in the vein of traditional fantasy – something I’m not at all ashamed to say – but there are a few twists. Much of my inspiration is derived from areas that aren’t mined all that often in fantasy, coming from the works of authors and historians like Rudyard Kipling, Bernard Cornwell, Richard Holmes, Len Deighton, Michael Shaara, George MacDonald Fraser, Terry Copp, Barbara Tuchman, and T.E. Lawrence among others.
The Light of Burning Shadows picks up with the Iron Elves regiment continuing their fight against the, ever bolder, incursions of the Shadow Monarch. The regiment’s task is complicated by the growing restlessness among the colonies and protectorates of the Calahrian Empire. The native peoples see the impending war and the return of stars thought to contain magical powers as a chance to be rid of the Empire once and for all. With all out war looming and rebellion imminent, the regiment stumbles upon an ancient power that may hold the key to freeing the Iron Elves from the blood oath that binds them in service to the Empire and the Shadow Monarch in life and even death. In addition to propelling the story along, The Light of Burning Shadows has given me a chance to explore more of the effects of battle on characters like Major Swift Dragon, Private Alwyn Renwar, Visyna Tekoy, Rallie Synjyn, and Sergeant Yimt Arkhorn, and we see some very different responses. This was important to me as I work with many veterans and hear firsthand what it’s like to be in battle, from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iron Elves series is allowing me to explore some of this within a fantasy context, and it’s my hope that in addition to telling an entertaining story, The Light of Burning Shadows does justice to the plight of the regular soldier.
Learn more about Chris and the inspiration behind his books
So now that you know a little bit about the Iron Elves, you might be thinking “Hey, I’ve got a story myself that I’d like to get published. What do I do?” Hmm, almost sounds like the beginning of an infomercial, doesn’t it? The good news is there’s no need to send money, but you will have to spend a lot of time and energy. Oh, and did I mention reading? The mantra is simply “read, read, read”…then repeat. And read outside of your comfort zone from time to time. Think of it like trying a new food. You never know what you might discover, and like.
Fine, you already know all of that, but what you’re really after are some of the inside secrets. How do you get inside? The short answer is, and you know this too, there is no quick and easy plan…well, unless you land a crippled airplane on the Hudson River or start dating either Jon or Kate. For the rest of us, it’s a long, long road. I became an author by first becoming an editor nine years ago. I was offered the chance to work for Random House in New York editing military history and science fiction and jumped at the opportunity. It let me learn the business from the inside. Basically, I spent several years of apprenticeship as an editor while using my free time – when I could make some – to improve my skills as a writer. So when I say long road, I really mean it.
Ok, becoming an editor might not be for everyone, so what else? I mentioned reading, right? Well, don’t just read for enjoyment. Read like you’re back in school and study what you read as well. I’m not suggesting you suck the fun out of reading, but if you’re going to be a writer you need to understand the mechanics of what good authors do. How does Stephen King scare the beejeebers out of me every time I read one of his books? How does Terry Pratchett make me laugh so hard I pull muscles? Think of a book as an engine. Take it apart and see what makes it work, or doesn’t, as the case may be.
The really tough thing you have to do is to ask yourself what you want. Sounds simple, but it requires asking yourself tough questions. In my case, I know I want to be a successful writer, and so for me that means accepting the fact that I’m part of the entertainment industry. I freely admit that and am entirely okay with the concept that I write for my enjoyment, that of my fans, AND that I get paid to do it. It’s that last part that can get some people worked up. It leads to the false and rather pointless dichotomy of the “artist” versus the “hack”. The true auteur versus the commercial…hack. I saw the same bifurcation in academia, the scholar versus the “popular” historian, and it’s all a bit beside the point. I enjoy the high and the low, the humorous and the serious, the urbane and the broad equally, and for entirely different reasons. I don’t want to eat steak every day, or hamburger, nor do I just want to read only the most literate or only, the most bawdy. I like variety, and I suspect most readers are the same. I suppose all this boils down to one simple axiom - know yourself and what you want (and want to achieve,) and then be ok with it. When you can do that, you’ll be much happier, and closer to realizing your dream.
I know, I know, but what about the secrets? There has to be more than reading and writing, right? Ok, I’ll lift the curtain a bit and let you see inside. First, every agent and editor has a complete name. There is no one working in the publishing industry named Sir, Madam, To, Whom, It, May, or Concern. If you can’t find their name, you aren’t going to be taken seriously.
Finish what you start. No one is looking for a half-written manuscript. If you want to be treated as a professional then be one. Editors can spot authors who aren’t really ready from a mile away, and that’s a surefire way to get a rejection letter. The temptation to rush something out there is hard to resist, but you need to if you’re going to make the best first impression you can. There are so many great resources out there to help that there’s no reason you can’t be polished and prepared if you’re willing to make the effort. And when you do finish your manuscript, celebrate your accomplishment by starting a new novel. Oh, and don’t constantly revise and rewrite the same novel year after year. My first completed novel remains unpublished, but what I learned while writing it proved to be the stepping stone to the Iron Elves series which launched my career.
Don’t tell an editor or agent you’re better than King, Evanovich, Tolkien, or Brown. You may very well be, but let them discover that. Instead, tell them with specificity how an aspect of your writing is like one of these giants, and then tell them how it’s also different. You still get to name drop, but you don’t sound like you’re blowing your own horn, even though you are.
Know the difference between patience and patients, and then practice the former while doing your best not to become one of the latter…in an institution for aspiring writers who call, email, and write the editor or agent every day until the editor or agent finally rejects the manuscript just to gain some peace of mind. Publishing is slooooooooow. Glacial even, unless, as I mentioned before, you happen to land airplanes on water or date reality show stars.
Finally, enjoy what you do. Publishing is not easy (despite what the commercials for copy printers might suggest). If you love to write, need to write, and can’t imagine your life without writing, then you’ve already won.
Other Places to Find Chris:
His Blog [This may take some time to load. I noticed issues when trying to load it today, but they worked just fine yesterday, so please be patient and try again later if you wish to check out his blog - thanks!]
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I was reading Kate Douglas’ newsletter and found a note about Delilah’s Save the Gallantry Series Campaign. Since part of running an author means supporting published and non-published authors alike, I thought that this was a cause worth taking up. While I cannot speak for the contest (it is solely your choice as a reader to enter), I can speak for the fact that series die all the time and it can be quite a sad thing. Clicking on the above image will take you directly to Delilah’s website.
The following is a reprint from her June 25th Blog:
When I was in high school, I had a dream. I was going to be the next Stephen King. Heh. Yeah. Stay with me. Please. I knew my ideas were fabulous and I knew all it would take is for an editor to look at it and they would offer me up the moon and the stars and best of all, a contract. I had my girlfriends read everything I wrote. And they kept telling me, “This is fabulous! It's SO funny! Hilarious!” Seeing it really wasn't supposed to BE funny, I immediately changed course realizing I actually had a better handle on being funny than scary. I also figured adding a romance into it would even make it better since that is what I loved to read.
I then entered college as an English major. I was going to be teacher and write during the summers. Even then I was a smart girl who knew I wasn't going to make jack and that I needed a job to support the “creative” one. Throughout all of college I wrote historical romances. One right after another. And kept submitting. And submitting. And submitting. And kept getting rejected and rejected and rejected. In the meantime, I got married. I had two kids. I joined RWA. I got critique partners. I did honed and honed and honed the crap out of my writing. And kept writing and getting rejected. I eventually racked up over 200 rejections and had written over 40 books in those 11 years of trying to get published.
When I finally sold my first historical romance, Mistress of Pleasure, and my second book, Lord of Pleasure, I was beside myself. It didn't feel real. To FINALLY arrive at a destination I had been traveling toward for 11 long years seemed like a mirage. Which fortunately, I quickly snapped out of. Because after all, most of my friends are all published and unpublished writers and the stories they all have told me throughout the years made me realize I had to fight with fists up for myself every step of the way. I knew publishers did little to no promotion for their authors, so I spearheaded my own promo, ready to be more than just an author. And even though I was budgeting very well and spending countless hours networking and promoting on websites and blogs, doing tons for free, I still ended up spending $7,000 on my first book. Which was way more than my advance. But hey, every business starts in the red. Right?
Then the reviews started coming in about my series set in 1830 London England about a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction. People loved it! Wow. It got nominated for awards. Wow. Readers are e-mailing me raving. Wow. Readers from France, Austria, Poland, South Africa and from all over the U.S and the world. Wow. It just kept getting better and better. I was beginning to feel as if every penny I spent was all worth it (even though my family and I weren't going on any vacations and were eating out of cans). Because all that mattered was that my publisher loved me and my readers loved my series.
Come contract time, I'm ready for whatever they wanna throw at me. Or so I thought. Mistress of Pleasure, though completely sold out and unavailable anywhere (unless it's a used copy, some going for a ridiculous amount of $40.00), hadn't done as well as my publisher had hoped. So without waiting for the second book to come out to see if the series was even worth saving, I get a rejection from my own editor citing lack of sales.
I have to say this rejection felt more personal than any of the other two hundred and some rejections I'd received. Because it was no longer “Your book isn't good enough” it became “Your sales aren't good enough.” Since when is an author supposed to be a market guru AND a fabulous writer? Eck.
I love this series. The men in it make me laugh and it broke my heart to think that my readers will never get a chance to read about Lord Brayton, my glorious male virgin. The only alpha virgin I ever plan to write about. Then I realized something, why I am letting a publisher decide what is worth holding on to? Shouldn't that be a reader's job?
Ah. Herein lies the purpose of my post. I am challenging everyone, be they readers or writers to help me do something that's never been done before. Save a series from a death sentence given by a publisher. Can it be done? Who knows. But I eat challenges for breakfast and I hope you do to. Please join me in saving my series. Come August 4th, tell everyone you know (yes, even you're 72 year old grandfather) to buy the book, Lord of Pleasure. In doing so, you'll have a chance to win one of three $50 Visa Gift Cards. How? Check out my website for details at http://www.delilahmarvelle.com/
That said, thank you for all the support and love everyone has already shown me. Feel free to post and repost this to everyone under the moon and the stars. To all you readers out there, thank you for supporting us writers. To all you writers out there, don't ever give up on your writing. The moment you do, you give up on yourself. Which is why I'm not giving up on my series.
[Here’s what you’ll find on her website, if you click on the same image I have above:]
Despite being sold out of my first print run for my debut book, Mistress of Pleasure, my publisher will not be finishing the School of Gallantry series. As a result, I am looking to do one last push for the second book in the series, Lord of Pleasure, in the hopes that this series can be saved by another publisher who will see more promise in the series. Lord Caldwell, Lord Banfield and Lord Brayton (yes, the virgin) have yet to have their stories told.
I'm hoping everyone can help by blogging, pitching, sending out newsletters, telling their brothers and sisters, ANYONE to buy the book when it comes out August 4th. It is a simple way of announcing that this series does matter. I am working on a new series, which I hope to unveil soon, however, my heart still lies with the School of Gallantry.
SPECIAL CONTEST: From August 4 until August 28, anyone who e-mails me at Delilah@DelilahMarvelle.com with the School's quote from Lesson 27 found in the book Lord of Pleasure, will be entered to win one of three $50 Visa Cards. Winners will be contacted via e-mail by September 10th.
Cheers and much love,
Thanks so much to Margay who graciously gave me her blog day when I mentioned this campaign. Very cool Margay! You are a peach!
Whispered by Carrie at 1:00 AM
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