Saturday, February 16, 2008

I'm Not Gonna Write You a Love Song

"Promise me
You'll leave the light on
To help me see
The daylight my guide upon
Cause I believe
There's a way
You can love me..."
~Sara Bareilles

This is my new favorite song:

Fun, right?

And I am 50 pages from the end of Summer's Song, so that's my goal this weekend (maybe even today!). Finish the damn thing, put a period, type "The End" and then wait for some good-natured, patient, HONEST critique partners to give me feedback...

I'm off to write!

Friday, February 15, 2008

I'm So Pleased with this Article!

"Romance is the fiction that owes no allegiance to the God of things as they are. In the novel the writer's thought is tethered to probability, but in romance it ranges at will over the entire region of the imagination." ~Ambrose Bierce

So here's my big announcement for the day: go check out my feature article at WOW! Women on Writing! They always do such a nice job setting up their pages and all their features, and I love the way it turned out. Also take a minute to read the Editors' page...they say some nice things about the article and the romance industry in general.

I also have an article coming out with The Samhellion this month, on creating book trailers. Next time I have my webmistress update my website, I think I'm going to have her add a page with my article links. I never really intended on getting into that area of writing, but it's been a nice way to promote my author name and get some free advertising (and some paying markets!) at the same time.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's All About Happily Ever After

"I claim there ain't
Another Saint
As great as Valentine."
~Ogden Nash

Big congrats to Crystal B. of Williamsburg, KY, the winner of my Valentine's Day Giveaway Contest! Crystal will be receiving 2 books, free downloads of my 2 novels, chocolate truffles, and beauty goodies. Thanks to everyone who entered ~ I had a great turnout. And just a reminder: I hold some kind of contest every month right here on my blog. Usually I give away a book, but you never know...I like to toss in other fun things as well. So stop back next month (or sooner!) to see what the March contest will bring...


Most of my regular readers know that I freelance for the awesome ladies over at WOW-Women on Writing...and Senior Editor Annette Fix is celebrating the release of her novel The Break-Up Diet today! You can order it on Amazon or from your local bookseller.

The Break-Up Diet is the true story of a 30-something single mother/aspiring writer who is working as an exotic dancer, searching for Prince Charming, and trying to find a perfect balance between her dreams and her day-to-day life as Supermom.

~Annette Fix is the Senior Editor for WOW! Women On Writing, an author, and spoken-word storyteller, living in Laguna Niguel, California with her Danish Prince Charming, her aspiring photographer son, and two rescued dogs.

Looks great, right? Also, check out the Break-Up Story Forum, a place where women can go to read and share their break-up and dating stories, the book blog, and her MySpace page.

Finally, in honor of Cupid's great day, here are two classic poems and three classic movie scenes, all of which should warm your heart and remind you of the power of true love and happily ever after. It's why I write about it, after all :)

Sonnets from the Portuguese XLIII (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

i carry your heart (ee cummings)

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Carol Spradling

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Before we get started with today's author interview, just a quick reminder: today is the last day to enter my Valentine's Day Contest! Click here for all the details ~ I'll announce the winner right here, tomorrow!

Now welcome Carol Spradling, author of historical fiction and romance. Her first book, Cost of Freedom, is due out with The Wild Rose Press this spring.

Hi, Carol! So tell us: was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I was always fascinated with Colonial America, but there were two events that captured my attention in a way that I knew I had to write about the 1700s. One was my middle school, history teacher, Mr. Igo. When he taught, he would pull his chair in front of the class, lean in, and speak as though it were story time. His animation and passion for this period stayed with me, deepening my infatuation with the time.

The other, I read a small blurb in a magazine about a woman who lived in pre-Revolutionary War America. Her husband was away, fighting with the Patriots while she lay dying of an undisclosed illness. A friend begged her to send word to her husband. She refused, commenting that her life was insignificant to what he did. It was more important that he stay where he was than be with her.

I knew this woman’s story had to be told.

Wow, that's interesting. Can you tell us about your upcoming published novel?

Cost of Freedom is the first book in a trilogy set in 1770, Boston. It opens with William Jackson at the Boston Massacre. He tries to diffuse the situation but gets wounded, rendering him unable to continue with the Sons of Liberty. Unknown to him, childhood friend, Abigail Matthews arrives in Boston, thinking herself an indentured servant. One night, she is alone in a cemetery and overhears two Patriots plotting against her beloved England. She flees with this information but is captured and taken to William’s home. On opposite sides of the conflict, they re-ignite their friendship, but it is not until Abigail shoots a British soldier and is marked as a traitor that she begins to see the Colonies and their fight through William’s eyes.

Sounds exciting! So how do you go about developing your characters?

Most of my characters present themselves. As I formulate the idea for a scene, they arrive,
generally with their own attitudes and thoughts of what should transpire. It is not uncommon for me to have an idea for a character’s speech and behavior. The next thing I know, I’m following them down a side road, wondering how I got there. I always find it advantageous to allow them to be themselves, rarely have they lead me astray.

As a published author, what advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

Write from your heart. It doesn’t matter what you write or how well you construct a sentence. Get the ideas on paper. You will have ample opportunities for revisions. Also, write for the joy of it. If your main goal is to be published, you will find writing frustrating.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Writer’s block hasn’t been a problem. I am a ‘chunk writer’. Basically, whatever scene I’m thinking about on any given day is what I work on. When the flow dries up, I move on to something else. Sometimes, I’ll write small paragraphs, ideas basically, in several scenes. Other times, the entire scene will unfold in one swoop.

When I do find myself without a pressing scene, I will look over what I’ve written, pick one spot and think, what would happen if I did this. I also like to take a deeper look at the characters and try to determine what is the driving force behind them. This generally opens up an entirely new aspect in which to work.

With historical fiction, although the foundation and some of the characters are based in fact, my main characters are fabricated. This gives me the liberty to put them in places and situations without adulterating history. Plus, it breathes life into the period, providing a fresh perspective.

When you write, do you use the computer or compose by hand, oral dictation, or some other method?

Oh, I have to use the computer. I can’t touch type. For me to transfer written work to the computer screen would take forever, not to mention be frustrating. I will jot thoughts and ideas down on paper because inspiration strikes at the oddest times and a fired-up computer isn’t always handy.

Thanks for being here and sharing your experiences, Carol. Is there anything else you’d like to mention to readers today?

I hope you will enjoy William and Abigail’s story as much as I enjoyed telling it. Updates, excerpts, and soon-to-be announced release dates for Cost of Freedom are available at my website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Release Day!

"Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book, If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for?" ~Alice Walker

It's the official release day for my good writing friend, Marianne, whose romantic comedy One Love for Liv is available today from Samhain Publishing!

And here's the trailer I made for it...

Head over to her blog and wish her a happy release day, OK? Even better, go over to Samhain and buy yourself a copy of her book. She writes good comedy, believe me. I've only seen about 1/2 this novel, in its draft form, so I'm excited to finally read the whole thing!

Congratulations, Marianne!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Nineteen Minutes

"At fourteen you don't need sickness or death for tragedy." ~Jessamyn West

I just started reading Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult. Anyone else read it? It's about a school shooting, and from what I've heard, she delves into the social aspect of cliques in HS and what leads one boy to become so desperate he brings a gun to school. I'm only a few chapters in, and so far it's...OK. I do like her writing a lot, and the book is seamless and easy to read. But there's something that has rubbed me the wrong way, something I almost can't put a finger on. It might be the way she creates caricatures of the high school students, in their various groups, or the way she makes the mother of the shooter (and one of the primary victims) these Every-women that we should relate to, understand, and forgive for their shortcomings.

It's probably just that I teach high school, and so any attempt to write a fictional account of what happens in teenagers' daily lives naturally falls short. They are much more complex creatures than the media gives them credit for. And it is probably that part of me (that is not a parent) that cannot excuse mothers and fathers who are absent from their child's lives, who buy their children cars for their 16th birthdays because it is easier than taking a pay cut and being home in the evenings to go to games and look over homework and talk about tough times, who think their children's bedrooms should be off-limits to adults, who think it's OK to give your child unlimited privacy on the computer because, after all, back in the '60s that's all they wanted too, privacy and space and a place to rage against authority.

But I digress.

One thing I have learned over 10 years of teaching adolescents: as much as they complain about and rebel against it, they want structure and boundaries. They want someone to tell them no. They want to know where that line of "no" is, even if they cross it (and they will). They want to be loved and respected for who they are, even if that changes from day to day. They *want* you to know who they are. They want desperately to belong. And they want it to be OK to make mistakes.

Over Christmas break, I had a student who graduated 2 years ago return to visit. We were talking about college, and she said, "You were the only person who ever told me it was okay if I didn't like college right away, and if I wanted to transfer. You were the only person who made it seem like that was an option, that it wouldn't be the end of the world."

Teenagers think everything *is* the end of the world, and they need us to provide a perspective they don't yet have.

We'll see how Nineteen Minutes unfolds. It might prove to be a valuable novel, an insightful look at the world of adolescence. I hope so.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Two Contests You Might Not Have Entered Yet

"Win as if you were used to it; lose as if you enjoyed it for a change." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

You know how much I like and promote contests, right? Well, here are 2 more you might not have heard of...

Fellow Wild Rose Press author Melissa Blue is celebrating the release of her very first novel (hooray!) by giving away both an electronic and an autographed print copy of her book, How Much You Want to Bet? Click here for more details.

Fellow Samhain author Kerri Augusto is giving away an ebook reader to one lucky reader who answers a trivia question about her new novel, Strawberries in Winter. Click here for more details.

Me? I'm still working on trailers, filling out publisher's info for One Night in Memphis, and watching the snow come down outside my window. Seriously. It snowed ALL DAY yesterday, and it's continuing this morning. You'd think I lived in the north, or something, and it was mid-February, or something...