Thursday, July 26, 2007

Vacationing in the Outer Banks

Well, I've been in Southern Shores, NC, all week and having a lovely time. It's a funny place, if you look at a map: just a slip of island, barely wider than 1/4 mile in places. Tiny towns dotted along the water, and gorgeous homes on both sides of the highway that winds its way north and south. Kitty Hawk, site of the Wright Brothers' famous first flight attempts, is right down the road, and it's a neat place to visit. Unbelievable to think how far technology has come in less than a century!

Hubby and I rented a house for the week with 5 other couples, and it's been a great mid-summer break. The weather is great, the company fun, and every day relaxing. It's one of those vacations where your bathing suit stays damp all day long, you're not sure exactly what time (or day) it is, you eat and drink more than you probably should, and you can smell the ocean air and feel the salt on your skin and in your hair whenever you step outside. I've even finished 3 books on my Summer TBR list...and I'll share those next week when I'm back home!

Have you entered my contest to win a "Boston Bonus Basket" to celebrate the release of One Night in Boston? All you have to do is post a comment on this blog...and everytime you do, your name will be entered into a drawing to win this prize. I'll be taking names until Sunday the 29th, and announcing the winner on Monday the 30th, so stop by often and leave me a comment!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Christine Norris

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today we have another Samhain author with us, Christine Norris. She is the author of 2 YA novels, Talisman of Zandria and Return to Zandria, and she's busy on a virtual book tour this summer. I'm thrilled to have her here today!

Hi, Christine! Can you tell us a little about your background?
I'm from New Jersey, born and raised. South Jersey, so the Philadephia suburbs, not the NYC suburbs. LOL. I went to college....a couple of times. I have a degree in Kinesiology (of all things) from Temple University. I always did well in the writing and English classes, though.

When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?
I was sort of encouraged to write in High School, I had an English teacher who always said I had talent. .I dabbled here and there over the years; being a writer just never occured to me! Then I read the Harry Potter series, and about JK Rowling - no formal training, a welfare mom. I knew I could do it too, I just had to find a story.

Tell us about Talisman of Zandria.
Talisman is my first book. It's about Ivy, a shy girl, who thinks she's just not very brave. She winds up in Zandria, which is a magical place just outside of our world. One problem piles on top of another, and the only way for Ivy to get home is to recover the Talisman of Zandria. It's all very thrilling, and Ivy has to really dig deep to find that she really is braver than she thinks.

Return to Zandria is the new book, and it takes place three years after Talisman of Zandria ends. Ivy's now fourteen, and has pretty much forgotten about Zandria and magic. She's too 'grown up'. But the people of Zandria need her again, and so she goes off to help them, which requires bringing some of the people of Zandria into OUR world, which comes with its own set of problems. There's lots of intrigue and fighting and fleeing and flying.

How do you go about developing your characters?
Like a good stew, they develop over time. I don't usually outline books, I usually have a general idea and just start writing. Once I've got the basic story down, I go back and add in all the flavors. I discover things about them that I didn't know before when I do my rewrites. I'm working on the third book of a series, and I've just now discovered something about one of the main characters! It doesn't affect the first two books, but it totally took me by surprise.I keep little notebooks I buy from the dollar store and write things down about the characters as I find them out.

Tell us about your promotion strategies. How do you plan on making Christine Norris a household name?
This Virtual Book Tour is a big part of my promotion for this book. Plus I have the website, and the MySpace page, and my blog. I'm putting my name and the titles of my books in as many places as I can. When someone's got a guest blogger spot, I'm there. My hope is that eventually people will say, "oh, I've heard of her!", because I'm all over the place! It takes time, and is a slow process, but it's been fun. I also like to do local book fairs, and speak to schoolchildren and booksignings.

What advice would you give to aspiring, unpublished writers?
Keep writing. Just like learning to play the violin, or soccer or to paint, writing takes practice. Read, read, read. More than just a step-by-step class, reading and writing is the best way to learn. Be willing to write crap, and be willing to hear that your writiing isn't the best. Prepare for rejection, but don't expect it. Do your homework, and don't fall for the scams. Remember that this is a business too, and if you want to be a writer and not just a hobbyist, learn all you can about the business of books.

What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
All kinds! One of my purchases this summer is going to be a bigger bookcase. Right now they're kind of all piled up and I'm afraid they'll fall over. But mostly I read what I write - middle grade or YA fantasy. I have several favorite authors, like Tamora Pierce and CS Lewis or JM Barrie (Peter Pan is one of my favorite stories of all time!). At the moment I'm liking James A. Owen, whose book, Here, There Be Dragons is my new favorite book. He blends classic literature and mythology, both of which I also love, and does it in a way that takes you on a great ride. He's got a new book coming soon and I'll be right there waiting to get it. I'm such a geek.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?
The first draft. Sounds strange, but since I don't outline or really plot ahead, (sometimes I do, if I get a great idea) there are times when I just want to tear my hair out because the story just won't come. The best part is the rewriting. Some writers totally hate rewriting, but I love it, because it give me a chance to make the story shine. There's nothing more satisfying than a good rewrite.

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life?
That can be tough. During most of the year I'm also a substitute teacher, so I always have a notebook with me. I get quite a bit done during the downtime. And there are times when I have to actually remember there IS a rest of my life. I can spend days in front of my laptop, while the house gathers dust around me. LOL. If I get too involved, I try to schedule some writing time - usually after my son goes to bed, or afternoons while he's watching cartoons. The library is also good for that too - he can read and I can work.

Can you tell us about your next writing project?
I'm really excited about that too. My next book, THE CROWN OF ZEUS, will be released by Samhain Publishing early in 2008. It's the first of a series, and I'm hoping Samhain will be willing to publish all of them. I've written the second, and I'm about halfway through the third. The series combines mythology and magic,and is developing other undertones as well. It's a great book (but I may be biased in saying that). I'm also working on a full-length book for the Wizard Acdemies series of books (Click here to see more) which are like Harry Potter, but with all kinds of different magickal schools and students. A group of authors worked on the first two books, and the one I'm working on now is just expanding on the first two short stories I wrote for them. That's been challenging, because you don't want people to say you're copying from other people's work, but still remain true to the mythos, which our editor created. I hope people see them as what they are and not as something else. The editor's got an agent interested in those books, and he's trying to get other rights to them sold, like TV or movie rights. We're kind of holding our breath on that one.

Thanks for having me today, Allie, it's been fun hopping around the internet and visiting all these other blogs.Have a great day, everyone!

P.S. Readers, remember that anyone who leaves a comment today is also entered into my contest to win the "Boston Bonus Basket" in celebration of the release of my novel One Night in Boston (see yesterday's post). The more times you comment this week, the more times your name will be entered to win!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Happy Release Day!

It's here! My very first novel, One Night in Boston, is available today!

You can read more about it here...

And remember, anytime you post a comment on this blog (or link to my contest on your own blog), you'll be entered into the running to win my "Boston Bonus Basket" full of prizes. Want to know what you could win? It's all right here.

Thanks for stopping by and helping me celebrate!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Win a Boston Bonus Basket!!!

Happy Monday, and greetings from the Outer Banks, North Carolina, where I'm vacationing this week!

In honor of this being the week of my debut novel's release, I'm hosting a contest to win...

((drum roll))

...a Boston Bonus Basket!

That's right, you could be the next winner of this collection of Boston-themed goodies:

Boston Red Sox hat
1-lb. bag of Boston Baked Beans
30-ct. sampler of Boston Tea
Free download of One Night in Boston

Isn't that worth trying for?

All you have to do is leave a comment any day (or every day!) this week on my blog. The more times you comment, the more times your name will be entered. And if you post a link to this contest on your own blog, I'll enter your name an additional time (make sure to let me know it's there!).

The contest begins today and runs through Sunday, July 29, so make sure to leave your comments this week. I'll announce the winner on Monday, July 30.

And get ready for tomorrow's official release of One Night in Boston - I'm so excited!!