Saturday, June 16, 2007

Making Changes

"It’s only by daring to dream, our relentless pursuit of those dreams, our determination to realize our dreams – it’s only by never giving up and writing anyway that we become the kind of writers (and people) we want to be."
~Marilyn Beker

Here's a great article on the dreams of writers (thanks to Marianne for sharing it in our writers' group the other day!):

Dare To Dream - Write Anyway!

So I'm in the process of working with a website designer to change my website. Last summer, when I was just getting my feet wet with the whole cyber-world experience, I used a very simple template to put up something for myself. Now that I'm lucky enough to have 2 upcoming novels in the works for publication, I decided I wanted to upgrade and do something a little more professional.

Here's my question: what do you like in a website, especially a personal/author one? Anything that really turns you off? Anything that makes you grin and stay and check out all the pages?

Just curious...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Feast

Only one week left 'til summer vacation! And to celebrate, here's our Friday Feast...
Fill in the blank: The best thing about where I live is _________________…
...that it's rural downstate New York, which means it's close to NYC, the gorgeous Shawangunk Ridge of the Catskill Mts., and the much lower gas prices of NJ and PA. It's also a blue state...

Create a new name for a deodorant (like “Flower Fresh” or “Shower Scent”).
Pit Protection (yeah, that's bad, I know)

What was the last piece of software you installed onto your computer?
Hmm...probably TurboTax, back in the spring. Not fun, but necessary!

Main Course
If you were to receive a superlative award today beginning with the words ”Most likely to…”, what would the rest of the phrase say?
Most Likely to Think She Can Solve Every Problem At Work (or)
Most Likely to Make a List to Organize Her Day

What two colors do you like to wear together?
Anything with black. Even black with black. C'mon, it's easy! Though lately I've been wearing a fair amount of pink with brown...
If you're visiting for the first time today, take a scroll down to my first-ever novel cover, in yesterday's post, and let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Got My Cover!!!

"Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book."

~Stephan Mallarme

Here's my cover for One Night in Boston!! I've had it for a couple of weeks now, but Samhain won't let you post your cover on your own website or blog 'til it appears on theirs, which just happened Tuesday. You can see it here and here.

The big decision, some of you will remember, is whether or not I wanted a person/face on the cover. (And yes, I know how lucky I am to have any input at all. Most larger/NYC publishing houses just design it and send it to you). I finally opted for the urban night scene without the heroine on the front. I want to appeal to as wide a reading audience as possible, and so I wanted a cover that didn't scream "romance" only because I know some people will pass it over simply because they prejudge the genre. Now, I also know some hard-core romance readers might not like a cover that's not sexually suggestive[skin-faces-bodies-sheets- fill in the blanks), so I suppose all I can do is wait and see.

Anyway, I do like the cover. More than that, I like the idea of it. It's almost as if before now, my book wasn't real. Before now, I could talk about being published but I didn't have any "proof" to show the world. Now it's there and it's real and it's so exciting I can hardly stand it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Chris Stevenson

Thanks for stopping by...this week we have another author interview. Say hello to Chris Stevenson, the author of sci fi futuristic novel Word Wars, a tale set 100 years in the future where the written word has been banned by the gov't. Let's hear what Chris has to say about his experiences with the world of writing and publication:

1. Hi, Chris! Can you tell us a little about your background?

I've been a resident of Southern California all my life. I've had occupations ranging from auto mechanic and service manager, to Federal Protection Officer. I was once stationed at the United States Geological Survey in Palo Alto, where I became engrossed with science and paleontology. I served as a content editor for a monthly newspaper called The Senior Citizens Reporter. I've had non-fiction books, poems, short stories, novels, radio plays, articles and profiles published in the past 17 years.

2. When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I first became interested in writing at the age of 26 (a little late for the average writer). I just happened to peruse a magazine called The Twilight Zone. I believe I read my first supernatural short story at that time and proclaimed that I could do that, too...just as easily as the other authors. I was in for a rude awakening as to how much time and discipline was involved.

3. Tell us about Word Wars.

I asked myself what would happen if the Middle East completely cut off their oil supply to the United States. How far would we go in retaliation? What would we do to stem the need for petroleum? How far would we go, in a national security sense? Remembering Fahrenheit 451, and how much I enjoyed that book, I decided to take it a step further and devise a cruel and overbearing United States government, that not only isolates itself from the rest of the world, but also terrorizes its citizens into complete obedience.

To guard against the discovery of recent technological advances in the field of friction-free electricity and anti-gravity, the Continental Security Agency bans the written words and installs the color bar language. The FCC and the U.S. Post Office, now have the authority to enter private residences, looking for contraband writing. They also have the authority to persecute the citizens, by inflicting horrendous civil rights abuses. I created a small rebel force, who've had enough of this subjugation, to ultimately put a stop to the cruelty and break down international barriers, which would bring about world peace.

4. How do you go about developing your characters?

Most of my characters are derived from real life instances, only I exaggerate their characteristics and traits, to give them more diversification. Sometimes I take this a little too far. I've used many past girlfriends in my stories, and for whatever reason, allowed happily ever after endings, despite of what might have occurred in the real life settings. I use a lot of irony in my "peopled" pages. Someone is always in conflict with another character. I not only throw rocks at my characters, forcing them to solve their own problems, but my characters throw rocks at each other, complicating the plot and making the collective objective all that much more impossible to reach. It's a miracle that any of them make it out alive.

5. Tell us about your promotion strategies. How do you plan on making Chris Stevenson a household name?

That's a tough one. I've now learned how to up set websites and Myspace blogs. I link just about every place that I can, without spamming. I think it's important to belong to the large writing groups on the net--to participate, gain respect and advise others on how to achieve their goals. Promotion from here on out will be nearly a full-time job, but it's a necessary evil, I guess. I think I'll wear my website on my sleeve every place I visit. Exposure is the name of the game. I can't rely on my publisher to do everything. I at least have to give it my honest and full participation.

6. What advice would you give to aspiring, unpublished writers?

Unpublished writers? Don't give up. This is a marathon. There is no instant gratification in this business. You have to be willing to put in endless hours of writing and editing, with no reward or recognition. And that's just the beginning hurdle. Getting someone else to read and critique your material is another obstacle. After that comes refining your craft, a constant and never-ending learning process. A young writer asked me a two-fold question once: "If I have the talent, can I be a writer, and how long will it take?" I answered: "You want to be a writer? Take a few aspirin, go into a dark room, lay down and wait for the feeling to pass. And it takes a long time, preferably a life time."

7. What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

I've always liked science fiction and fantasy. Spec fiction. I like urban fantasy, too. I wish I could have written Bedazzled, Manikin, Date With An Angel, Splash, Click, Bewitched, Stepford Wives, anything in that vein. But I started off with lots of books by Robert Heinlein, and others like Ice Rigger, Virgin Planet, The Island, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Black Marble, The Onion Field, The Forever War, Ender's Game, Dune and many others. My favorite author amongst the lot is Poul Anderson--for his incredible irony and interpretation of the human condition. Next on my list would be Alan Dean Foster.

8. What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

Editing is the most excruciating part of the process for me. I loathe it. If I could afford it, I would hire someone else to do it for me. The most exciting thing is to find my books in stores and behind the tables at BEA. I've been there, and caught a little lime light, and there is really no thrill that compares. It's very romantic. I also love first drafts. I can knock out a 400-page story in 10 weeks, and find the journey entirely enjoyable--no blocks or complaints whatsoever.

9. How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

Writing is my life, so the weights are tipped very heavily on planting my keester on a chair and applying fingers to keys. My sleeping habits are so bizarre that nobody knows the proper time to contact me, so I get away with a lot time spent in front of the screen. I'm truly the hermit writer and can subsist on almost nothing. I keep house and lawn for my rent, so when those responsibilities are over, I'm free to murder the keyboard.

10. Can you tell us about your next writing project?

The next project is finished and just about ready for my agent. It's a paranormal thriller, about a woman who is given a second chance in life--a deal with the Roman God, Janus. She has to solver her own murder, and she's given some very unusual skills to accomplish her goals. It's called Gate Walker, and just might end up at Juno Books.


Interested in finding out more about Chris's novel Word Wars? Visit his publisher here. And leave a comment to let us know you were here, too!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

First Lines

Well, the Samhain First Line Blog Contest is moving along: they've chosen 90 entrants from the first round (out of 270+) to move on to Round Two. Check it out, if you have some time. Some of them are really terrific! (It's also interesting to see how the authors follow up a zinger of a first line with a second one...ooh, tough).

In honor of that contest, and because Marianne did something similar a couple of weeks ago that I found really cool, here's a collection of my first lines from the 4 novels I've written. Reading them over now, I think I'm glad I didn't have to enter a contest to find a publisher!

“We’re out of time.” (From One Night in Boston, being released by Samhain July 2007)

Sitting back from the street, its original coffee color faded to a dusky beige, the house on Lycian Street waited. (From Lost in Paradise, being released by The Wild Rose Press TBA)

Summer Thompson stared at the square container in the center of her coffee table. (From Summer's Song, currently unpublished and in need of major revision - hopefully this summer!)

“Get out!” Dakota James threw Sean McCabe’s jeans--her favorite pair, she noted bitterly, faded in all the right places--across the room. (From One Night in Memphis, unpublished and in need of revision. OK, I know it's technically 2 lines, but I'm allowing creative interpretation of the rules)

Next week - last lines!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Grrrl Power

"Like a lot of good fillies I've been around, you wouldn't want to mess with her a whole lot. She's a very classy filly. Push a button, you can do anything you want with her. She's a little bossy, too. That's what makes her good."

~Todd Pletcher

Well, in case you weren't paying attention on Saturday evening, horse racing fans had a real treat in the Belmont Stakes: a battle of the sexes that came down to the wire. Rags to Riches was only the 22nd filly to run the final Triple Crown race in 139 years. The last time a filly won? 102 years ago.

Now, I never realized how unusual it was for girl horses to race in such a prestigious event, but isn't it just the greatest metaphor? Here's yet another area of life that's dominated by males. They enter in droves, they race alongside each other, they battle each other down to the wire. And now along comes this talented female that not many people have heard of, and all of a sudden, she's battling with the big boys.

Before the race even began, the odds were stacked against her. Even worse, she stumbled coming out of the starting gate (watch for this in the opening seconds; she's on the far left) and she had to settle into 5th position for most of the race. The commentator didn't mention her much at all, since she didn't make any kind of move until the final 1/4 mile. But, you have to watch the race to the finish line, and tell me you're not rooting for her the entire way:

Let's hear it for the girl!!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


"A preacher's wife proofread his sermon and wrote next to one paragraph, 'Weak point--shout loud!'"

Well, I'm done with my second round of edits for One Night in Boston. Now it's off to the final line editor to catch typos and spelling glitches and formatting issues. I'm still waiting for my cover to be approved by Samhain (Crissy, the owner, has to approve them all before they go up on the site officially), but then I'll make sure to post the link here!

We had a long discussion at my local RWA group yesterday about book covers: what people like, what people don't, what publishing companies do to try and make them appealing. One of the members, who's multiply published by Harlequin, talked about how the cover artists are told to make each cover by an author resemble her other ones (same color scheme, font style, general design style, etc), so readers will recognize the similarity and know it's the same author. She also shared a funny story in which Harlequin changed the title of one of her books from "The Trapper's Woman" to "The Trapper" because they wanted to put a picture of a sexy guy on the front. She said OK, fine. She got the cover, and it featured the back silhouette of a woman with long flowing hair.


Too funny, to find out these things about the publishing industry.

Here's something else I've discovered, since I've signed a contract and worked through the editing process: you're never really finished. And I don't mean with the work, or the publicity. I mean, I think writers always find things in their novels they want to tweak. Even when my editor sent me her comments, I went through the story and found so much more I wanted to change.

That wording stinks! That plot point needs more development! These two sentences should be switched around!

I've heard it said that that's normal, that you have to just let it go at some point even though you could probably write and rewrite certain sections forever. Still, it's a weird concept.

Enjoy your Sunday...