Saturday, November 01, 2008

Update on NaNoWriMo

"Life can't ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death - fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant." ~Edna Ferber, A Kind of Magic, 1963

OK, here it is: I'm not doing NaNoWriMo. Well, I'm not doing it in the traditional manner, anyway. I have WAYYY too much on my plate (writing and otherwise) to start a book today. But the concept is to write a book in a month, right? November is nice because, hey, a bunch of other people are doing it then too. But a month is a month, so I'm setting mine as Nov 15 - Dec 14...because Dec 15th is my birthday and I'd like to have 50K words done by then. And by Nov 15, a lot of the craziness should have subsided. Of course, there might be other craziness (there always is, right?) but life should be more manageable by then.

So I have 2 weeks to tie up loose ends everywhere else, which means more reading and judging of EPPIE entries this weekend, finishing One Night in Napa and finetuning the synopsis, and putting together some promotional stuff as well.

Speaking of promotions, I have a book signing at my local Borders this afternoon - so I'm off.

Happy Saturday - and good luck to all those who've begun the NaNoWriMo challenge today!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

When Pumpkins Drink...

(Oh, come on - you know it's funny...)


In other news, I'm still trying to decide whether I'm participating in NaNoWriMo. Yeah, yeah, I know I committed, like, last month when I still had more than 10 minutes of free time in my days. But I'm up to my ears in schoolwork, EPPIE judging, and my own writing. Sigh. Not sure if I should just forge ahead and tackle a brand new book, or finish revisions on the two already on my plate. And yes, I know it begins in less than 24 hours.

Guess you should check back tomorrow and see if I took the plunge...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's Winter...Or Is It?

"Winter dies into the spring, to be born again in the autumn." ~Marche Blumenberg

This was my front lawn two days ago. I do not lie. Note, if you will, the bright red color of the leaves STILL ON THE TREES, contrasting oh so prettily with the white snow on the ground.


So, what's the weather like in your neck of the woods??

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Cindy K. Green

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! (I love these days). Today I'm featuring fellow Wild Rose Press author Cindy K. Green. Enjoy!

Cindy, I'm so glad you could join me here today. Can you tell readers a little about your background?

Two of my goals when I was a teen was to be a writer and a teacher/or professor. I am now a published author, have degrees in history and education, and taught middle school history, math and English. Not too bad. Born in California, I currently live in North Carolina with my husband of thirteen years and two young sons. I now stay home and write as well as homeschool my kids. Visit me at to learn more about me and my books.

As a fellow teacher, I definitely appreciate your ability to tackle middle schoolers (yikes!). So when did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I feel like I’ve always been writing. I have a folderful of stories written from when I was 10 to 18 years old. In college, I stopped writing fiction and excelled in non-fiction history, winning some awards. But it was once I stopped working and became a Stay-at-home-mom that I began to write fiction again. At first the writing was of a cathartic nature. I wasn’t working and I had just moved to a new state. I needed something and turned to writing. In time, I became more seriously turned toward publication. And a couple months later, I had my first contract. That was July 2006.

Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

This summer my 2nd NovelTea book, NovelTea Next Door, was released through The Wild Rose Press. It's a romantic comedy/romantic suspense series filled with fun literary references. It concerns bookstore/tea shop owner, Juliet Truesdale, and government secret agent, Grant Gerard. This second addition to the series is written in first person from the perspective of the hero. I had a lot of fun writing this book and getting into the head of my hero and really fleshing him out for the readers. Happily, this has also been a well-received and best selling series. My latest release, a short Inspirational story, Relationship Rescue, released last month with The Wild Rose Press. It is a story of failed love and second chances. As one reader said: Sometimes touching, sometimes funny, this short, sweet read will warm your heart.

Sounds like a treat to read :) What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

The greatest thing aspiring writers can do is read and read and read—and then write and write and write. Read books in your genre and then read books and articles on the writing craft. And just keep on writing. Join a critique group and continue to learn.

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

I love to read Historicals and Romantic suspense. These are also my favorite genres to write. My favorite author is Jane Austen with her novels, Persuasion and Pride & Prejudice being on the top of my list. I love that Jane created characters that stay with us – that have enough depth for us to analyze. She has created characters we can laugh at, despise, and fall in love with. What a gift. And most importantly, I love her style of wit and sense of humor. As an author, I completely appreciate her works and am inspired in my own writing.

Ah, I'm a Jane Austen fan myself :) Now for the tricky question: how do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

Finding balance in my life is a never ending battle. I’m home all day, yet I never seem to have enough time for everything. On top of being mom, maid, and accountant—I’m also a teacher to my two boys. In between all that, I have to try to find time to write and promote my works. One of the things I have done is set up writing days. Two days a week and a few hours on the weekends, I am free to write. In fact, once I set particular writing days I became much more productive. My husband keeps the kids busy during those times and I am able to stay completely focused. On the other days, I get household chores done and spend time with the family. The house is still usually a mess but it’s better and everyone has been a lot happier.

What is your favorite movie? Did it inspire your writing in any way?

Oh, this is a difficult one; but after consulting my husband, I believe my favorite movie at the moment is the 2005 Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen. You are probably seeing a theme as I’ve already admitted to being a Jane Austen fan. I do like the 1995 Colin Firth P&P mini-series so I was skeptical when this movie first came out. However, I thought they hit the heart of the story is this 2 hour film. I do love the P&P story and all its terrific characters. This particular movie had outstanding acting. It was a totally different take on Darcy and MM played it so well. There is a lot more underlying emotion and tension in this version. But what I really love about this film is that it is absolutely BEAUTFUL. It is an art-film-worthy, and the soundtrack in one of my favorites. When you listen to the audio commentary with the director Joe Wright, you begin to appreciate this gorgeous adaptation all the more. Has it inspired my writing? Certainly! Characters like Darcy and Elizabeth will continue to inspire. Has it inspired me as much as my other Austen favorite, Persuasion? Not as much. I’ve plotted out my own Persuasion story that I hope to write one day.

Cindy, thanks so much for being here and giving us a peek behind the scenes of your writing life.
Readers, if you'd like to know more, or pick up a copy of her book, you can visit Cindy at to learn more, read excerpts, and find out about contests. You can also join Cindy's newsletter by sending an email at and ask to be added to the list.

Keep up with the NovelTea Series at the NovelTea Blog at Cindy also contributes to two blog groups White Roses in Bloom at and the Author’s Studio

Authors, remember: if you're interested in being featured here on a future Writers' Wednesday, just send me an email or leave a comment in any post.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Couple of Cool Links

"Whenever I found out anything remarkable, I have thought it my duty to put down my discovery on paper, so that all ingenious people might be informed thereof." ~ Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

A couple of cool links I thought I'd share today:

Share the Love - This relatively new organization collects donations of gently used romance/women's fiction novels and gives them to women's shelters. If you have a growing collection of books you liked but probably won't read again, you could always consider donating them to this good cause.

Romance Novel TV - This company, located in NJ, features videos and interviews of romance authors, along with book trailers, reviews, and news about the industry. (They also provide advertising for authors, if you're interested.) They were at the NJRWA conference taping some of the workshops; they also walked around the book fair the last day, doing interviews with some of us signing there. The President and VP of the company (twin sisters, by the way) loved the concept of my "One Night..." books, which was cool. If my interview shows up on their site, I'll make sure to let you know!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Conference Recap: Part Two

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about the NJRWA "Put Your Heart in a Book" Conference, here are the workshops I attended and my brief summary of them all. Hope the writers out there, especially, find this info useful:

"Perfect Your Pitch" - This workshop reminded us to have a "logline" when pitching our work to editors or agents, a brief "hook" sentence that provides a "high concept" -- that original idea that will make publishers and readers love your book. Similar to the elevator pitch, it's the idea of summarizing your book briefly by highlighting the hero, heroine, and their Goal-Motivation-Conflict. I must have learned something, because at the book signing, a reporter for Romance Novel TV told me I gave "great synopses" of my books :)

"Sell Yourself...Sell That Book: - A workshop on promotional techniques, it basically highlighted a lot of ideas I already do (bookmarks, brochures, ads if you can afford them, guest blogging, writing articles, etc.) One new idea I did pick up: send "buyer packets" to booksellers, complete with ARCs of your book (Advance Review Copies), bookmarks, business cards, and candy. A Borders bookseller who was in the audience said "Booksellers LOVE candy." And make friends with your local independent bookseller/bookstore!

"Building Your Supporting Cast: How Secondary Characters Can Make or Break a Novel" - A decent guide on how to avoid letting your secondary characters take over the plot (or turn so flat that they drag it down), she mentioned Captain Jack Sparrow from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies as one of the most classic secondary characters to ever take over a story -- it's true, if you think about it :) Anyway, she said DON'T EVER give a secondary character a POV, and don't let a secondar character do any action that advances the plot. Those things should belong to your primary characters only.

"Ask the Bookseller" - Given by a Borders Romance Fiction Buyer, this workshop was an interesting look at what Borders buys, how they promote it, and how to get your name in front of readers. She said the biggest sub-genres in romance these days as far as sales are paranormal, urban romance, romantic suspense, and "soft romance" (sweet but still sexy, small town, nostalgic stories a la Debbie Macomber). She also said book signings, even for big name authors, haven't had the draw they used to, and they even recently cut all "Events Coordinator" positions. They do have a "Romance Reading Room" on their website now -- check it out.

"Building and Repairing the Single-Title Plot" - Eloisa James talked about the biggest problems she sees in single-title plots (not complex enough and subplots not developed enough). She gave some suggestions for improvement, too: make your characters multi-faceted (no stereotypes!), make your dialogue short and punchy, cut out A LOT if the middle is sagging, and consider writing series to save yourself the time of creating a whole new world with every novel you write.

All in all, the conference revitalized my own writing and gave me a lot of good ideas to work with over the next few months. Now if only I could find the time!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Conference Recap

"The way of the world is meeting people through other people." Robert Kerrigan

I had the tremendous opportunity to attend the NJRW "Put Your Heart in a Book"Conference over the weekend, and while there were a few glitches (which shall remain undiscussed), overall I gained a lot from it.

So much so, in fact, that I'm going to have to break my recap into a couple of blog posts!

Today, the Very Cool People I met at the conference:

Keynote Speakers:

J.R. Ward - OK, I'll confess, I haven't read any of her books (paranormal romance). But she gave a really dynamic talk about her theory of "persisting and reinventing" oneself as a writer, which is what she did when she proposed her (now hugely successful) Brother vampire series. She said over and over again how important it is to listen to the voices in your head as a writer, and write the story you really want to write, regardless of "the rules" of the genre.

Eloisa James - A Harvard, Yale and Oxford grad who also teaches Shakespeare at Fordham University AND who writes best-selling historical romance. I LOVED HER! She was smart, eloquent, and inspiring. She talked about making your writing "real," about writing from the heart and putting real pain/angst/fear into your book - even when it has a happy ending, it needs those elements as well.

Lisa Scottoline - Hilarious Italian divorcee (and a former trial lawyer) who writes best-selling legal thriller. She told a lot of anecdotes from her own (rather warped) life and ultimately told us we should tap into the truths of real life - however we see that real life - when we write, 'cause that's what readers will identify with and enjoy the most.

Random Fellow Writers:

J.K. Coi - She's appearing on my blog for Writers' Wednesday in a couple of weeks, and she pops in to comment every now and again. Bought her novel My Immortal 'cause it's gotten rave reviews.

Jo Piraneo - She's my website designer, but I found out she's a writer too - I never knew! She offered to mention me to her agent, so that's a plus-one for networking :)

Jennifer Shirk - Fellow Samhain author (actually, a bunch of us had dinner together, and I met Samhain's executive editor in person too - Angela James).

A fellow Absolute Write member, who recognized my name from the forums and ended up buying one of my books at the book signing on Saturday. Let's hear it for virtual networking!

And Jenna Kernan - OK, I didn't really meet her, 'cause I already knew her. She's a member of my local RWA chapter and local Tuesday night critique group...and she let me crash in her room when the hotel...ah...screwed up my reservation. So thanks, Jen! I owe you one :)

Tomorrow, a recap of the workshops I attended. You won't want to miss it!