Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Annual Local Author Appearance

"Your hometown is where they can't figure out how you did as well as you did." ~Anonymous

Though I do a few "local author" signings in and around where I live now, I love coming back to the town where I grew up to be a true local author and see all the people I remember from my childhood. Today is the annual craft fair (do all small towns in the New England/Northeast have these?), and for the second year I have a booth with my books.

Last year was such fun: it was so nice to see former friends and classmates and teachers and parents of friends, and they were all so thrilled that they "knew me when..."

Though it's supposed to be touch and go with the rain today, we're crossing our fingers for decent weather (and lots of sales, of course!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

One Night in Napa - The Trailer!

Tuesday July 21 is release day for One Night in Napa...and for one more way to whet your appetite, here's the trailer, just finished yesterday by Yours Truly. Hope you like it!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

One Lovely Blog

I almost forgot! (how bad of me...) - both Diane and Marianne gave me this lovely award a few days ago. Thank you so much! Here are the "rules" that go along with it:

1. Accept the award, along with the person's name who gave it to you and their blog link.

2. Pass the award to other blogs.

3. remember to contact the other bloggers to let them know they've been chosen for the award.

I'm passing this along to Dayana and Liz...and taking the rest of the day off from blogging.

Hope you have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Cate Masters

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm excited to help fellow Wild Rose Press author Cate Masters celebrate the release of her contemporary romance Going with Gravity. Here's the blurb, to whet your appetite...

Publicist Allison Morris plans her own life – what’s left of it – around the life of her boss Michelle McCarter, the ex-wife of a famous rock star. When Michelle needs emergency public relations patchwork in Hawaii pronto, Allison arranges a flight to the dream destination. At the airport, she meets Wes Hamilton, a six-foot-three sun-bleached blond whose blue eyes and dazzling smile rekindle her fizzled-out sizzle. A world-renowned surfer, Wes captivates her with his charm and wit, though his easy fame and on-the-edge lifestyle are the polar opposite of her own. When their jet loses its fuselage in mid-air, she takes advantage of what she thinks are her last minutes alive with Wes. The plane lands safely. Wes takes care of her when her carefully constructed life begins to unravel. When Michelle accuses Allison of using Wes to gain fame for herself, Allison’s world falls apart in an explosive confrontation. Wes is waiting with open arms when she has nowhere else to go, but can Allison learn to stop planning and go with gravity?

Cate, congrats on your release. First, can you tell us a little about your background?

If you promise not to yawn… I was a very shy, quiet kid. Because my family lived out in the country, I was also a bit lonely. Maybe that’s what led me to writing. I certainly spent a lot of time in my own head (and still do!) and had a very overactive imagination (and still do!). Writing took a long breather while I raised my kids, but when I went back to it, it felt great. And I was more determined than ever – I took any classes or workshops I could squeeze into my schedule, bought many books on craft, joined writers’ groups and critique groups. Lots of rejection helped me grow a thick skin over the years. Last year, my hard work finally began to pay off in a string of acceptances – woo hoo!

That's wonderful! Tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

Today, The Wild Rose Press released my contemporary short romance, Going with Gravity. I’d read a news article about a plane losing its fuselage mid-flight, and it managed to land with no injuries. Such intense drama made me wonder: Hmm, who could I put on that plane, in that situation? To add to the tension, I devised two polar opposite personalities: an uptight career woman and a live-by-the-seat-of-his-shorts surfer. Set in a paradise I’ve always wished I could visit – Hawaii. (I love that writing allows me to visit cool places vicariously through my characters!)

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

First, learn the craft, and keep writing as much as you can. Second, circulate your stories, and don’t let rejection get you down. Many bestselling novels went through hundreds of rejections before publication (read Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul for a boost!). If a publisher rejects your story, take any criticism as positive: they cared enough to let you know what needed work. Resubmit as soon as you revise. Writing is equal parts perspiration and perseverance. Follow your bliss!

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

I don’t often hit a snag like writer’s block, but occasionally. Writer’s block is a signal, I believe, to step away from a story. Sometimes when we concentrate too hard on a thing, the focus can become too narrow. Stepping away can renew the story, help me see what element is missing -- maybe I didn’t develop a character deep enough, or follow an idea far enough. It always leads to something better, in the end. Plus, I’m always working on several stories at once, so if one throws up a road block, I detour to the next.

Describe your writing space (or include a picture!)

Ah, my writing space is my little sanctuary. When we moved a few years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to finally have a room dedicated to my writing. It’s very soothing, all in shades of blue from sky to indigo. Photographs of all sizes decorate the walls, and my books line the shelves (with another ten boxes or so lurking in the closet). My computer screen is extra-wide so I can have two or three documents open at once – the story plus a few background files if I need to refer to something. The trailer for Going with Gravity includes a peek at my PC, dressed up with stickies and other props for the role. Here’s the trailer:

Lovely! Now, what do you like to do when you're not writing?

Lately, if I’m not writing, it’s not by choice! I’ve learned to treat my writing as another job and dedicate as much time to it time as possible. Marketing is the necessarily evil component to writing. Another component is making book trailers, but I find that a lot of fun, and use much of my own photography. When I am able to take a breather, I love to just sit out on our back deck under the stars with my husband and a glass of wine, and listen to the frogs singing in the pond. Ahhh.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book(s)?

For Going with Gravity, I was surprised to learn how evocative the Hawaiian language is. With just a few syllables, words take on complex meanings. The meaning of the word Hawaii itself is such a gorgeous example – ‘Ha’ means ‘the breath of life’ and ‘wai’ means ‘fresh or living waters’ plus ‘i’ refers to ‘the divine in each of us.’ No wonder it’s such a beautiful inspiration! Someday I hope to find out for myself.

Cate, thanks so much for joining me today -- best of luck for tons of sales!! Readers, make sure to visit Cate's website to find out more...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

One Week!!!!

Just one more week until One Night in Napa releases in ebook...aren't you excited?? I know I am! Here's today's excerpt: the first meeting between hero and heroine...and then a later interaction...

The woman on the other side of the door nearly fell into his arms. “What the hell—let go of me!”

Grant blinked, confused. He’d instinctively grabbed at the first thing he saw, determined to catch the intruder. By mistake, he’d gotten his hands on a pliant arm and one very small breast. He stepped back at once and raised his palms. “Whoa. Sorry.”

The petite stranger dressed in bright turquoise and denim glared at him. Dark eyes flashed. “Who are—what are you doing?” Her gaze took him in, head to toe, and dismissed him in less than a second. “Miles, who is this?”

“Hey. No offense, but who the hell are you?” Grant didn’t recognize her face from any of the local news channels, and she sure wasn’t dressed to do an interview, in that ridiculous getup. She wore a miniskirt, but her feet looked damp, and he wondered whether she’d somehow waded through the moat to get here. No way. Impossible. On the floor behind her sat a black suitcase and a small red purse. The external door remained slightly ajar, and a breeze moved through the room. As they stood there facing off, she crossed her arms and lifted her chin.

Grant turned to Miles, a dozen questions on his lips. But the oddest expression lit the old man’s face. Grant looked back at the young woman dressed in mismatched clothes with a butch hairstyle that did nothing for her face. She wore too much eye makeup. She had a ring in her eyebrow and a glittering stud in her nose. And she was glaring at him...


By the time he caught up with her, she’d poured herself another glass of wine. “Care to join me?” She laughed, but it sounded bitter. Resigned. “Only if you leave the camera at the door, though.”

He shrugged the bag off his shoulder and took the glass she offered him. “No pictures,” he agreed. “Then how about some conversation?”

She sighed, and he wondered if he was pushing his luck. He didn’t care. She mesmerized him, the way her gaze moved around a room, the way she filled up a space. “Hell, okay,” she said after a long silence. “As long as we’re stuck here. But off the record.”


They sat at the table in the breakfast nook. Her back was mirrored in the window behind her, and Grant had to stop himself from staring at her long neck, her chopped-off hair, the way she held her chin a little higher than she had to.

“Me first.” He took a long drink. “So why’d you leave?”

She choked on her wine. “Start with the easy questions, why don’t you?”

“Sorry.” He thought a minute. “Okay, why’d you cut your hair?”

She pursed her lips. “That’s not really a good question, either.”

“Fine. Then you start.”

She looked hopeful. “I can ask a question?”

“Sure. Then I get one. We’ll take turns.”

One corner of her mouth lifted. “Fine.” She took another sip.

Grant shifted in his chair and tried not to watch the way her mouth met the rim of the glass.

“Why did you go into journalism?”

He pushed his glass away and laced his hands behind his head. He hadn’t expected that question. “You want the real answer?”

“What do you think? Are we just going to sit here and lie to each other?”

But he wasn’t sure she did want the truth, which was that he’d almost flunked his way out of college, and writing for the paper was the only way his father would save his last two semesters. He’d given in to blackmail of sorts, and it had haunted him ever since.

“Hmm.” He caught the stem of the wineglass between his fingers and spun it. “Guess it was destiny. My grandfather founded the Chronicle sixty-five years ago. My father ran it from the time he was twenty. Neither of my brothers wanted to work there, so I was the last one left. Graduated from UC Santa Barbara and didn’t have much else going on, so…” That sounded good. And more than half-true, anyway.

“What do your brothers do?”

But Grant shook his head. “One question. That was it. Now it’s my turn.”

She rolled her eyes, but a smile skittered across her face. “Go ahead, then.”

“What’s the first memory of your father?”

Kira studied her wine for a long moment before looking back up at him. Brown eyes grew serious with memory. “I guess I was maybe three or so. He used to play with me outside, on the back lawn. He’d roll these giant plastic balls across the grass, and I’d try to stop them before they got to the moat.” She smiled, and Grant loved the way it lit up her face. “I didn’t realize Martin—he worked security here before Simon—I never knew he was about ten feet behind me, ready to catch them if I missed, until I was older.” She paused. “I never missed.” She tipped the wine bottle to refill her glass.

“Okay,” he said. “Your turn.” But he almost didn’t want her to ask. Not because it meant answering, but because it meant she’d stop talking for a minute or two. He liked the lilt of her voice.

She sat forward on her chair, elbows on the table like a little girl. “Do you have a girlfriend?”

He laughed and arched a brow. “Interested for personal reasons?”

She colored. “No. Of course not. I was just wondering if there was any female out there dumb enough to fall for your lines. You know, on a regular basis.”


She grinned. “Too close to home?”


“You’re not my type, anyway, Walker.”

He wondered if that was true. “That’s too bad.” He rested his hand on hers for a moment, until she pulled it away. “No. I do not have a girlfriend.”

“Why not?”

“Hey. One question at a time. I warned you.”

She pretended to pout. “Yeah, but your answers aren’t detailed enough.”

“Now who’s the reporter?”

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer Reading Suggestions??

Summer is a beautiful time for so many reasons...the warmth, things in bloom, vacation for us teachers...and also a chance for me to catch up on my reading. I reviewed Loving Frank last week, and I finished Looking for Alaska while I was on vacation (review below), and now I need some suggestions.

Any good ones? What books have you read recently that you'd highly recommend?


Looking for Alaska by John Green

I think this is considered Young Adult, though I'd recommend it for anyone over the age of 16. A few of my students read it last year and loved it, so I thought it was about time to give it a try. Guess what? I loved it too, more than I thought I would. I've heard it called a "modern day Catcher in the Rye," though don't let that throw you if you didn't like the original -- I didn't either.

Short summary: it's the story of Pudge, a 16 year old boy who goes to a boarding school in Alabama. He's never really had any friends before, but there he meets his roommate, nicknamed "the Colonel," and Alaska, a girl unlike any other. She's complex beyond words, moody, beautiful, and she introduces Pudge to cigarettes, wine, and how to play the best pranks. The friendship that develops between the 3 of them is really well done and believable. Also interesting is the story structure: the first half of the book counts down: "one hundred days before," "eighty-two days before," etc. You don't know what THE EVENT is, though it happens mid-book and then the chapters become "two days after," "seventeen days after," etc.

The author explores a lot of complex topics, besides just coming-of-age, which he does well too. And I know I've posted this video here before, but it's worth another look, because Looking for Alaska has been challenged/banned in certain schools where it's part of the curriculum. I highly recommend this books; it's a quick but thought-provoking story. And if you've already read it, let me know what you thought! (without giving away WHAT HAPPENS of course)...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Working on Edits!!!

"I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil." ~Truman Capote

I am furiously trying to finish up edits for Summer's Song today. The ebook doesn't release until mid-November, but today's my deadline for first-round edits, so it looks like the glorious sunshine and yardwork will have to wait. What did I struggle with most this time? Well, here are the major areas my editor wanted me to address:

Getting rid of filter words. Since the book is mostly written in deep POV, she doesn't like watched, realized, thought, felt, etc. Just state the emotion or the actual thought and get on with it. Example: He wasn't the most handsome man she'd ever seen, Summer thought, but something about Damian got under her skin and stayed there. Permanently. (eventually deleted all these kinds of "character thought..." tags)

Getting rid of extraneous dialogue tags. ("he said" etc). I guess I had a lot of them that I didn't really need. Funny -- I haven't had that problem in my earlier stuff, but then again, this is one of my earlier works, written back in 2002-2003.

Editing for continuity. I had a few errors in people's ages, vehicles, the timeline, etc. Nothing I couldn't iron out.

Inserting a previously deleted scene. This was the most challenging, since the editor wanted me to put back in a scene I had taken out (she read 2 versions of the story before offering me a contract). Of course, putting the scene back in meant also adjusting how it affected both earlier and later scenes, so....lots of work there.

Now I'm going through it one more time, revising anything I see that needs attention. Hoping to finish by this evening, but it's gonna be a challenge~