Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Mom is my Hero: Now Available for Pre-Order!

I've been so caught up in One Night... and other things that I nearly forgot about the anthology coming out for Mother's Day this spring, My Mom is my Hero: Tributes to the Women Who Gave Us Life, Love, and Clean Laundry. I have a short story in there titled "Blue Circle Books."

Here's the cover:

And it's now available for pre-order -- just click on the cover, above. What a great gift for the mothers in your life :)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Another Reason I Love Samhain Publishing

"Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light." ~Joseph Pulitzer

A few days ago, I got my galley for One Night in Memphis via email. This is the copy of the book that needs to be painstakingly proofread, for any mistakes/wrong words/formatting errors/etc. before it goes to print. Oh, and by the way, the official print release date is May 26, 2009!

Anyway, I don't really like reading through galleys, even though I know it's important, because it's monotonous and boring and requires A LOT of active attention.

So I started reading yesterday, and I discovered that whoever formatted the book (I guess I didn't see this in the ebook) used tiny little clock faces as section/POV breaks, rather than the simple decorative swirl they used in One Night in Boston. As if that wasn't enough, not only do the clock faces appear between the section breaks within the chapters, the hands actually change time as you read through the book. So the section breaks in the 4:00 chapter read as 4:00 on the clock, and the section breaks in the 10:00 chapter read as 10:00 on the clock, and so on.

OK, maybe it's a little thing. But I thought it was so cool of them to do, matching up with my story's theme, that's it just one more reason I think Samhain is not only professional, but attentive to its authors as well.

And that's my plug for today!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Very Nice Surprise

"Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us." ~Boris Pasternak

A very nice surprise showed up in my email inbox the other day: a note from my former 5th grade teacher (regular blog readers will remember that I dedicated my first book, One Night in Boston, to her -- and was a featured author at her summer book club last August). She had seen an article in the local paper about One Night in Memphis being an EPPIE finalist and releasing in May -- and did I want to come back and speak to their book club again this summer?

Of course I said yes!

Side note here: I sent out press releases to a few local papers (including my hometown one) after the EPPIE finalists were announced. Never heard a thing back. But apparently at least one was published. So...definitely write and send them out as part of your marketing strategy. I've heard of many other authors who were never contacted by a newspaper but ended up having their press release/information printed anyway. You never know!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Mary Ricksen

Welcome to the first Writers' Wednesday interview of 2009! Very exciting...and our first featured author of the year is time travel romance writer Mary Ricksen. Take a peek into her world:

Mary, welcome to my blog! Can you tell us a little about your background?

I was born in Vermont, and though I have lived in several places in the U.S. and once in Canada, I still find it home. I feel like crying every time I get to go, when the plane flies over the airport surrounded by the beautiful Green Mountains, just before landing. I have lived in Florida for several years now, but I would eventually like to end up in a small town in North Carolina, where we own a small piece of land. In the Great Smoky Mountains, I feel very at home there too. I have no children, unless you want to count animals. Right now I have a black German Shepherd named Junior. He's in my book. I also have a canary. He sings so sweetly that he cheers my soul. The winters here in Florida are wondeful and I spend them in my own secret garden, overflowing with all kinds of subtropical plants. My husband and I have been together since we met at the age of 20, and married for thirty two years this last February. He's my anchor.

Right about now, in snowy New York, Florida sounds like a lovely place to be! What advice would you give to new authors just starting out?

Every one has inside of them an ability to shine at something. Some people never find that shine. I wish I'd found it years ago, but it wasn't for lack of trying all kinds of things. When you sit in front of that computer and a little thrill goes through you, that's the beginning. For me I just let it come. That of course leads to a lot of editing. But it also lets my muse loose. And that is one of the things I find that gave me the knack to write my book. To me that is the easy part. The hard parts are editing and promoting. So be persistant in your promoting, take chances, be bold, let yourself jump into it and network. Of course that itself is a learning experienc. And lastly learn the basics well, that makes for less editing.

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

For me reading is a cyclic thing. For years I read Sci Fi, then mysteries, biographys etc., I think I've tried all genres. Romance has become my favorite. Once it was Westerns, then Contemporay, I was stuck on vampires for quite awhile. And then I read Linda Lael Miller's 'Here and Then' and 'There and Now' That's all it took. I think I have read most every time travel paperback in print. And now that I started writing I have found the ebook. Cheaper to buy and faster to get. Not to mention more new Time Travel books to read! My favorite author is Diana Gabaldon.

Do you suffer from writers block? If so, what do you do about it?

I think life throws curves at us that sometimes overwhelm us. My parents are elderly and sick, and it's a lot to deal with. So my muse has gone into hibernation. I know that the short vacation we are taking will give me a lift. As I sit outside looking at the mountains, from purple in the distance to emerald in the forefront, the colors alone still my angst. The smell of the air, the Mountain Laurel, the little critters all infuse me. So when I get there I will write. Just like I always do. The country setting is inspiring in itself, it's so peaceful.

Describe your writing place for us.

Here at home I have a laptop. So wherever I feel most comfortable at the time is where I write. Lots of the time I sit at the kitchen table. We have a small house so I can't have a special place for myself. But as I sit here I can look out at the pool, with banana trees, avacado trees, palms of all kinds, pentas for color and little fanciful creatures I purchased. My canary is belting out love songs, my dog lies on my feet and my husband is in the background swearing at his computer. Life, ain't it grand?

Mary, thanks so much for visiting here today! Readers, if you'd like to find out more about Mary and her work, visit her website.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Proof that the Publishing World is Slightly Insane

"I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection." ~Billy Joel

If you're a regular blog reader here, you'll remember that a couple of months ago I got a rejection from my (now current) editor at Samhain, for Summer's Song. Here is what she said, in part:

The scene when Summer remembers what happened the night of the accident should be more dramatic and better integrated with the other plot strands. Instead of her memory coming back fully while she's in the shower, I suggest you revise so that the trauma of Dinah's abduction serves as the catalyst for her regaining her memory. Rearranging the order of these events would also prolong the tension surrounding Dinah's fate, too—if you structure it so that Summer confronts Gabe about the past events before she figures out where Dinah is hiding, the tension will really mount when Dinah isn't found as quickly...

Consider having Summer feel more guilt, more deeply, over the realization that her father lost her, his last living family member, in his effort to spare her, as well as guilt over Gabe's selflessness...However you choose to execute it, the novel will have more impact if you can better interweave the strands of Dinah, Damien, Gabe, and her father as you bring the story to a climax.

I took a lot of what she said under consideration and reworked some of the story, for what I thought was a stronger plotline overall. Sent a query letter to Avon, which resulted in a request for the full ms. Yesterday that editor emailed me another rejection on the story, saying this:

While your initial premise is strong— a young woman returning to her hometown to face a past tragedy and discover more of herself—I think some of the additional conflicts detract from the emotion (and romance) of the story. For example, because the two very weighty conflicts advance and come to a head all at once, I didn't feel the impact of Summer's eventual realization as much as I think the story calls for. Because Summer and Damian are so caught up in their own traumatic situations, they just didn't seem to have a chance to develop their chemistry.

So...while editor says/wants/likes one thing, another may feel quite differently. Same with readers, of course, and reviewers. Interesting, right??

Poor Summer's Song. It needs a home. Of course, since I revised it with the Samhain editor in mind, I should probably just send it to her. But watch her reject it again, LOL.

The good news is that I also got my cover art form for One Night in Napa yesterday -- so apparently it's true: rejection and acceptance in the writing world do go hand in hand!

Two contests for you to enter:

Manic Readers "Men in Uniform" unpublished novel contest

New England RWA Reader's Choice published authors contest (ebooks welcome too!)

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Best Movie You Haven't Seen

"It is written." ~ from Slumdog Millionaire

If you haven't yet seen the movie "Slumdog Millionaire," you are missing out.

Oh. My. God.

Saw it yesterday, and it was just terrific. Great writing, great filming, and a beautiful, poignant, original story -- with a great romance and a happy ending, to boot.

What's it about? Well, Jamal Malik is an 18 year old orphan living in India who's basically had the roughest life a kid could have, from an early age. His brother Salim is the only one who looks out for him (and later, the beautiful Latika, also an orphan, that they meet while outrunning terrorists). Together the brothers figure out how to survive some pretty hellish circumstances (and yes, there are parts of the movie that are disturbing in their reality).

Anyway, Jamal ends up a contestant on the Indian version of the TV show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" -- and he's one question away from winning the whole thing when the movie opens. Of course, the producers of the show can't believe a "slumdog" could possibly know the answers to all the questions, and that serves as the premise of the movie. In flashbacks to his childhood and adolescence, we find out what kind of life experience has in fact taught Jamal the answers.

The movie is beautiful, just beautiful. Underneath the sadness of Jamal's youth is a lot of humor, along with a precious romance between Jamal and Latika, all set against the violence and poverty of modern-day India. It's been nominated for 4 Golden Globes, and I can understand why. Put it on your viewing list. Today.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Linear Writing, or Any Which Way You Can?

"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand." ~George Orwell

I'm a plotter when it comes to writing, 100%. I create outlines, I know where the major conflicts are going to be, I know (pretty much) how the ending will wrap up.

But with Entwined, this very messy literary romance I've been tackling the last 6 weeks, I haven't done much of that. I didn't do character sketches. I had a vague idea of the major conflicts, but I didn't think about where/when they would happen or how the story would end. I wrote a series of scenes I thought would be important to include, and away I went. And that's been fine for about the first 35K words...trouble is now I'm spinning in circles and not sure where the storyline needs to go from here.

Hmm. Brief pause as Allie steps back from the keyboard and frowns.

Where to go from here? Outline? Keep writing scene by scene and see what falls into place? Let it sit for a while and come back with fresh eyes?