Saturday, March 21, 2009

Weekend Featured Author Interview: Karen Lee Field

Happy spring! Hope your weekend is off to a great start. Today as part of Small Press Month celebration, I'm featuring another author interview -- this one with Karen Lee Field. Enjoy...and don't forget to leave your comments for a chance to win that prize pack of books!

Welcome, Karen...Can you tell us a little about your background?

I mainly write fantasy for adults and children, but I’ve recently ventured into paranormal stories too.

Over the years I have attempted to help unpublished writers cross over into the published world. In 2003, I organised a competition and asked Australian authors Jennifer Fallon and Fiona McIntosh to read and judge the stories submitted and then give feedback, which they did. It was inspiring for all the writers concerned to receive feedback of this type. I’ve also run year long workshops through my website where writers help writers by giving in-depth critiques over several edits until each and every writer (those who stay the distance, of course) has a polished short story to submit for publication. I’m pleased to say that several of those short stories have now been published.

As a writer I know how difficult it is to get noticed in a world where every second person wants to write the next best-seller. I’ve seen some trash in my time, but I’ve also seen some gems that deserve publication and it was those manuscripts that forced me to try and bring their authors into the lime light.

That's wonderful -- I always love to hear about authors giving back. When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I was about 11 years old when a teacher asked us to write a short story as homework. The only stipulation given was that it had to have a beginning, middle and end. My story was a mystery, which I was extremely proud of. On the day our stories had to be read out in class I sat and listened to a lot of rubbish, still pleased with my own efforts. And then a boy stood up and read a story about a spider and its web. I was transported into an imaginary world of colour and wonder. I was the spider! When the boy sat down, I looked at my story through different eyes and knew my story did not compare to what I had just experienced. I vowed at that moment to improve. That spider and its web have been my inspiration ever since.

Great story! Now, tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

In 2007 I decided that I would organise the publication of an anthology. I enlisted the help of Sasha Beattie, editor, and Heather Anderson, artist, and together we sifted through almost 140 submissions. The end result is “Speculative Realms: Where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

The anthology brings together thirteen original stories by authors around the world. They are stories of fantasy, science fiction and horror for adults which will entertain, provoke, startle, amuse and resonate long after the last page has been turned. The stories are themed, but there are unexpected twists which make them unpredictable.

Sounds intriguing...I'm sure some of my blog readers would love to pick that up! How do you go about developing your characters?

I believe characters are as important as the overall plot, if not more important. I like to write a brief storyline for each of the main characters. It’s important to remember that everyone sees the same event or situation differently. They have motives, backgrounds and personalities that differ, so it’s important to know how each person will react to the events unfolding around them and why. Naturally, their reaction will sometimes spark another reaction from other characters and you need to know where all this leads. With luck, you’ll end up with lots of tension…which always keeps the reader interested.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

Write. Don’t talk about it or dream about it. Do it.

I have a lot of people tell me that they can finish a short story without much trouble, but they can’t seem to finish a novel length project. I believe planning a project of this type is essential. How much planning is done is up to the individual. You might want to plan every detail – character profiles, chapter scenes, individual plotlines, etc. Or, you might do just as well with a brief outline which prompts you towards the next plot point. Whatever type of writer you are…knowing the beginning, middle and end will give you a good guarantee that you’ll finish the project. And remember, every word you write takes you one word closer to the end.

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

In my opinion, writer’s block doesn’t exist. Distractions, being unprepared and laziness exist and they are the things we have to learn to deal with. Being a writer takes discipline. If you can’t force yourself to stop playing computer games when you are supposed to be writing, get rid of the games. If the internet distracts you, delete access to it from your computer or simply unplug the cable for an hour and force yourself to write. Don’t whine about it. You either want to write or you don’t.

I’m in control, so if my mind is blank, then I’m either too tired to write or I haven’t done enough planning to know where my story is going. Either way, I shouldn’t be blaming something that doesn’t exist.

Ah yes, discipline -- I heartily agree! Karen, thanks so much for being here today. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

If you want to purchase a copy of the anthology “Speculative Realms: Where there’s a will, there’s a way” or if you want to find out more about the stories and authors, visit the Speculative Realms website –

If you want to find out what I’m doing, feel free to visit me at Scribe’s Writing Desk –

Friday, March 20, 2009

Saturday Signing

"Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come." ~Robert Schuller

Just a couple of quick things today:

First, a big THANK YOU to everyone for their kind congrats yesterday. I'm still on cloud 9...

Second, I'll be at Chicklet Books in Hillsborough, New Jersey, tomorrow evening (5-9) with a group of romance authors for a book signing/panel/reading/giveaway -- so if you're anywhere nearby, please stop by and say hi!

And finally, Happy Spring! (whew...did it take its time getting here, or what??)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Exciting News!!

"Never, never, never, never give up." ~Winston Churchill

I've been sitting on this news for a few days, until it was official...

Samhain offered me a contract for Summer's Song!!!


This poor story has been around, in various stages, since early this century. It's been through a number of beta readers (and you know who you are...thank you), publishing houses and agents. All resulted in the eventual Rejection.

When I submitted it to Samhain last year, my editor sent it back with major revision suggestions. I let it sit for a while. Then a couple of months ago, I tackled it. And finally, finally, it's going to have a home...probably an ebook release in the fall of 2009, which means 2 print books (this one and One Night in Napa) coming out in 2010. Exciting!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Editor Deborah Nemeth

Welcome to a very special edition of Writers' Wednesday! Instead of interviewing an author today, I'm interviewing Samhain Publishing editor Deborah Nemeth. Want to hear an inside scoop on the world of editing and publishing? Here's your chance! (And yes, if you're wondering, Deb is my editor at Samhain...she's tough but good!)

Deb, thanks so much for joining me today! Tell us, how did you get into the business of editing?

I starting out writing fiction and found that I enjoyed the revising and polishing steps the most. And like all editors and authors, I’ve always loved reading. Editing allows me to combine the best of both, since I spend a lot of time either reading submissions or guiding authors through revisions.

How long have you been at Samhain Publishing? What do you like most about working there?

I first met Angela James, Samhain Publishing’s Executive Editor, in the fall of 2007, at a time when I was editing for a few other e-publishers. Angie impressed me so much, I asked her on the spot about job openings and began editing for SP soon after.

SP has a dynamic leader in Crissy Brashear, a great staff and a wonderful team of generous, helpful editors. I’ve learned a lot and had the pleasure of working with several dozen talented authors. The other thing I like is the thrill of signing a new author, especially a new, never-before-published talent.

Of course, editing has its downsides, too. It’s never easy to send anyone a rejection letter. The worst part of my job is rejecting a manuscript from one of my authors—especially after having sent them a revision letter.

What makes you fall in love with a submission from a new author?

More than anything, I’m excited by an author’s voice. Voice is hard to describe; it’s rather like that definition of pornography, I know it when I see it . It’s the way a writer expresses herself/himself that can encompass perspective, attitude, rhythm, word choice, personality…

But voice alone won’t do it. I recently rejected a submission from the slush pile from an author with a wonderful voice because, after sending a revision letter and receiving the revised manuscript, it was apparent the author wasn’t able to do edits, and none of the pacing problems had been fixed. I was so disappointed, because I’d had high hopes of signing this author and I loved the setting and premise, too. Lack of well-structured conflict and sluggish pacing are the biggest problems I see with manuscripts from otherwise talented authors.

In addition to the author’s voice, I have to love the hero and heroine and care about their goals. The conflict must grab me from the first page and carry me through until the end. The story has to have a black moment in which I can’t figure out how the heroine and hero can possibly overcome the odds. Stories that make me laugh and cry are more likely to stick with me. And if the submission has all that and a kickass premise, well, there’s a good chance that lightning will strike.

What are you looking to acquire right now?

Male/male romance is selling very well for Samhain right now, as are erotic romances, especially ménage, so those submissions are always welcome. I’m eager to sign more authors who write Renaissance/Georgian/Regency/Victorian-set historicals—especially erotic Regencies, Regency romantic comedy, Regency suspense, or paranormal Regencies.

I love paranormal romance but would like to see something other than vamps—witches, ghosts, djinns, genies, cat shifters, dragons, fallen angels, whatever—only because I already have quite a few authors writing vampire series. (Vampire authors, fear not—there are other SP editors who love the fangy subs.) In general, I prefer fantasy in richly layered worlds over sci fic or futuristic-set romances.

Romantic suspense manuscripts will interest me if they’re well-paced, with high tension, especially when the romantic conflict is deftly interwoven with the suspense plot.

When it comes to straight contemporary romance, I’m looking for deeply emotional stories with fresh premises and real external conflict—not stories that rely on the same old I-was-hurt-before-and-don’t-want-to-trust-my-heart-again for the sole conflict. And, last but not least, I’m a sucker for romantic comedy that makes me laugh out loud.

In the synopsis package, I like to receive complete manuscripts in .rtf format, along with a short (1-3 page) synopsis and query letter. My email address is

Any other thoughts or advice for new authors seeking to sign that first contract?

Study the craft—learn how to handle viewpoint, layer in backstory, hook a reader, give your characters bridging goals. There are so many great books out there. I recommend Stein on Writing, How to Grow a Novel, GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict, Writing the Breakout Novel, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Read agent and editor blogs.

Don’t submit a manuscript until you’ve sat on it, revised it umpteen times, sent it to critique groups and/or beta readers. Ditto for your query. One day you may not need to do this, but for a first book, you probably need to get input from others with more experience. But make sure you’re getting advice from authors who are published in your genre, because bad advice is worse than none.

Be aware that your online personality may affect an editor’s decision to take you on. If I google you and find out that you’ve been sniping at someone on Dear Author, I’ll be hesitant to make you an offer. So if you’re one of those people who has to get the last word in and simply can’t restrain herself from replying to any perceived criticism, we’re probably not a good fit.

Be prepared to promote tirelessly. New authors are often surprised and dismayed by this aspect of publication. I suggest not waiting until you have a contract to design your web site, set up your blog, and learn everything there is to know about promoting your ebook.

What are the most common reasons you reject manuscripts?

Lack of conflict and pacing. If these are missing in the opening pages of the manuscript, I’m not interested in reading far, no matter how much I like the voice, setting, or premise. Another thing that will make me set a manuscript aside is a heroine who’s too wimpy/has no goal or passion.

What advice would you give new authors in working with an editor?

Be prepared for your precious words to be criticized and dissected nine ways to Sunday. This can be difficult and it’s natural for your defenses to come to the fore. When your hackles rise, step back, take a deep breath, and remember we’re on the same side—my pay depends on your sales. As your editor, it’s my job to ensure consistency in style and to point out anything that will make readers pause and scratch their heads.

Don’t rely on your editor to do your work for you. We’ll painstakingly point out every dangling modifier in your first manuscript but we do expect you to apply yourself and get the hang of the whole punctuation and grammar thing by the second or third book.

Some authors turn in a beautifully polished manuscript for their first book—a manuscript that’s been through critique groups and contests ad nauseum in the author’s quest for publication. Then, after that first sale, these authors get sloppy and start submitting first-draft stuff. Um, no. Unless your name’s topping the NYT bestsellers list, you shouldn’t expect your editor to polish your subsequent manuscripts. That kind of thinking will only result in rejections and disappointment.

Be honest with your editor. We can’t help resolve any issues—whether with cover art, your marketing blurb, or your publication date—if we don’t know about them.

Where do you see publishing trends moving in the next couple of years?

I’m an editor, not a publisher, so I don’t see myself as an industry expert. I’m more comfortable discussing slushpiles, viewpoint, pacing and where to use a semicolon than industry trends. Since I lack experience in economic forecasting, which would be helpful in projecting the future (either that or a crystal ball), my thoughts on this topic shouldn’t be taken as having any particular significance.

Given the current economic climate, I would expect most companies to continue paring operational expenses. This could very well mean fewer imprints and fewer publishing slots for new authors, at least in the near term. But of course that won’t last forever, and I can’t imagine a time when editors and agents would ever stop looking for new talent.

My personal hope is that prices for ebook readers will come down to a point where the devices become as common as MP3 players. I don’t expect that to happen during the next two years, though, so I’ll have to be patient for few more years yet.

Deb, thanks so much for all these words of wisdom! Readers, if you'd like to read more on Deb's take on pacing, visit her recent Samhain blog here. And remember, all comments left today qualify you to win the prize pack at the end of this month!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A St. Patty's Day Contest!

"May your blessings outnumberThe shamrocks that grow,And may trouble avoid youWherever you go." ~Irish Blessing

Happy St. Patrick's Day! The Romance Studio is running a terrific contest all day long...and one of the prizes is a copy of my ebook, One Night in Memphis (just in case you haven't read it yet, or you can't wait 'til it comes out in print).

Here's the link...check out the many prizes available!

Monday, March 16, 2009

More Pictures

"Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by men." ~Chinese Proverb
Well, even though it's still in the 20s at night, spring is teasing us a bit here in New York. Here are a couple of pics of life outside my home these days...

Green things growing...yay! (I think they're daffodils and tulips - AKA deer candy - but they're close to the house, so they usually survive)

Little snow-drops that I forgot I had planted in a garden in the back lawn

And the 5 furry creatures that show up on our front lawn almost every morning. All last year there were 3 (a mom and her twins that we watched grow up), so I'm not sure where the other 2 came from. But they're pretty brazen and rarely move much when we drive up or down the forget what I said about my tulips being safe!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Second Featured Interview of the Weekend: Crymsyn Hart!

Welcome back for another small press author interview...get those comments in for your chance to win free books at this end of this month! A now, a big welcome to Crymsyn Hart (is that a great pen name, or what?) ~ best-selling author of erotic romance...

Happy Sunday, Crymsyn! Can you tell blog readers a little about your background?

I grew up in Massachusetts, moved around a lot in the state, and ended up attending Emerson College in Boston where I got a degree in Creative Writing. My very first job out of high school was working for one of the nation’s oldest psychic salons. I learned how to read tea leaves, tarot, runes, palms, etc. Working there influenced me a lot in what I write. I moved south in my early 20’s and have lived in Charlotte, NC ever since. I met my husband, who is also from Mass, in Charlotte. Everyone thought it was hilarious that I had to move a thousand miles away to meet someone from up North. It is kind of the running joke. But he’s a good guy.

A psychic salon...sounds cool! Now tell us, what do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

Lately the most difficult thing about writing is trying to find the time. I don’t mean just to write I mean just to work on one specific thing. I have five different books going at the moment and all of the characters are demanding my attention. It gets kinda scary in my head when there are people shouting at me. It gets really funny when different characters end up arguing with one another when they are from different books and completely different books.

The most rewarding thing about writing is being able to watch a story develop. I love having the characters go through twists and turns until they reach the end of the book. Granted they normally want a second appearance so I write a sequel, but that’s okay. I normally plot out books, but the characters take me above and beyond what I have for a plot and normally twist it up in knots until I have to write them out of a corner. But overall, writing is great for my imagination.

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

I find it hard to balance writing with the rest of my life. I work a full time job, have 2 dogs that demand a lot of attention, and make time for my husband. In between that I try to do all the writing I can. My normal routine is I write for a couple of hours after eating dinner and stay up a little after my husband goes to bed. On the weekends I stay up until the wee hours of the morning and write. It’s hard, but I have to get it in anyway I can.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

When I’m not writing, I love to spend time with my friends and family. I love watching horror movies. I love the thrill of being scared. I talk walks with the dogs, read, listen to music. Try not to think about writing or my characters, but that never happens. They are always whispering something into my ear. But I love to hang out at coffee shops and eat cheesecake with my friends. Sometimes I take long walks in cemeteries to quiet my mind.

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

When I write I am mostly on the computer. However if I’m in the car or on a plane I always carry a notebook with me. Then I write by hand. It also depends if we are baseball games which my husband is a huge fan of. I bring my notebook with me and write there while we watch the game. I think I wrote two books last summer sitting in the stands. I also have a specific places where I keep certain works. I have most on the computer, but I do keep books I’m writing only in notebooks so it helps to differentiate between what I am working on.

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

My favorite movie of all time is Poltergeist. That movie didn’t inspire me to write, but other movies do. I watch horror movies in general as well as vampire movies to give me inspiration. I’ve gotten some great ideas from watching movies and reading books.

Thanks for being here today! Anything else you'd like to mention?

I can be found on the web at
My blog is
My Myspace is
My facebook is