Friday, March 05, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: Getting Recognized by the Local Borders Manager is Wayyyyyyy Cool

“Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character.” ~Horace Greeley

My squeeee for the week:

Yesterday I stopped into my local Borders to pick up a book (Looking for Alaska, by the way, since I need at least 2 copies in my room because so many of my students want to borrow it this year). The manager recognized me on sight, asked if I had anything new coming out soon, and when I said yes in May, he asked for the title so he could recommend it to customers.

How cool is that?!

I do have a couple of appearances coming up in the next few months, and I'll probably be adding some as the weather gets nicer, so check out Allie's Appearances over there in my sidebar every so often. I'd love to see you!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Bianca D'Arc

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! I'm so happy to welcome my book signing buddy and fellow Samhain author, Bianca D'Arc, to celebrate the release of her brand new book (and first with Kensington Brava), ONCE BITTEN TWICE DEAD.

OK, Bianca, tell us a little about your background...

I was a professional student for a while. I have degrees in biochemistry, library science and law. I also spent a lot of time pursuing a career I ultimately gave up in favor of writing. Smartest move I ever made. In my youth, I studied and taught martial arts and like to bring some of that knowledge into my stories as well.

When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I've been writing since I was a kid. I guess I was inspired by the knowledge that my Mom's uncle had been a famous writer in Europe. He died before I was born but he was such a large influence on my Mom's life - and through her, on mine - that writing was something I always wanted to try to do. While I don't kid myself that I'm anywhere near his caliber, I try to become a better writer each day and with each book. I doubt I'll ever write "literature" but the small success I've had is really gratifying.

So interesting! Now, tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

ONCE BITTEN, TWICE DEAD is my first novel published by a big, New York publisher. It's the beginning of a trilogy of military paranormal novels featuring zombies as the bad guys. It's a little darker than my other work, but I wouldn't call it horror. I'm not really a horror kind of girl. ;-)

The heroine is a county cop who encounters zombies on patrol and the hero is a Green Beret who's been sent to clean up the zombie problem. They work together on the case and, of course, fall in love. There are some scary moments with the zombies and a mad scientist who is trying to perfect the contagion that created the zombies, but together our hero and heroine win the day and save humanity from the zombie menace... for now.

Congrats on publishing with Kensington Brava! Inquiring minds want to know: how do you go about developing your characters?

My characters almost feel like real people to me. Once I decide what they look like and what their name is, a set of traits sort of adheres to them in my mind. From there, they sort of take on a life of their own and they become easier to write.

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

Just keep writing. The more you write - and the more you listen to feedback from editors and other writers - the better you become. Writing and submitting is only part of the work. Learning how to be a better writer is something that you have to work on every time the opportunity arises. Each round of edits. Each critique. Everything is an opportunity to learn.

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

I love sci fi and fantasy. Right now I'd have to say my favorite author is Elizabeth Moon. I also love Tolkein, of course, and still read books by Mercedes Lackey, Barbara Hambly, Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris among others.

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

The biggest difficulty is the isolation. Writing is awesome, but writers tend to spend a lot of time alone in front of a computer. It can get lonely, which is something I didn't realize until just recently. The exciting part is when readers enjoy what I write. I love talking with other people about the worlds I write about and I love it when they are as enthusiastic as I am about the characters and places I've dreamed up.

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

I'm still working on finding balance. I started writing full time about three or four years ago and up 'til now I've devoted pretty much all my time to making a go of it. On the way I seem to have lost a bit of the balance between writing and a personal life. At some point soon, I'll need to fix that. I just have to figure out how. If you have any ideas, let me know! :)

Hmm...okay (I think that's a challenge for many of us!) Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Not writer's block, per se, but sometimes a book gets sort of "stuck" at a certain point. In fact, that just happened in my current project. I usually work off a sort of vague outline and my most recent project got hung up in the middle of my outline. The way I'm going to overcome that little problem is to skip to an area of the story that works, get the story flowing again, then go back and address how to glue the two pieces together. When I get stuck it's usually because I got a little too bogged down in the outline. Jumping ahead to another part of the action usually gets things moving.

Describe your writing space for us.

I write on a laptop so my space is anywhere I make it. Nowadays I'm writing mostly in the family room, sitting in a recliner my Dad bought for my Mom. She passed away recently and I never thought I'd use her chair but somehow it's comforting.

I'm so sorry to hear of your mother's passing. The idea of sitting in her recliner sounds like a lovely, and comforting, one. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I like chatting with friends on the computer. Other than that, I've become too much of a recluse in recent years. I really need to get out more!

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

That I don't always have to have a plan. Sometimes the most amazing things happen unconsiously while I'm writing. New characters show up from out of nowhere and they tend to be some of the most exciting characters I've written. I've learned to go with the flow and see where the muse leads me.

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

I type fast. I have also toyed with using voice recognition software from time to time but I usually go back to typing.

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

That's a tough one. My all-time favorite movie is Buckaroo Banzai, but I have a lot of other favorites. Batteries Not Included is a great one. I've seen The Fifth Element a few times in the past few weeks - loved it except for the ridiculous clothing. I also love Ladyhawke and I have a fondness for really bad B movies starring Rutger Hauer. ;-)

Bianca, thanks so much for stopping by! Anything else you’d like to mention?

I'd like to thank Allie for having me today. She's a great friend and a lovely person. Many thanks to her for allowing me to drop by and promote my new book, ONCE BITTEN, TWICE DEAD. ;-)
Readers, find out more about this prolific author and her new release at her website, right here.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Monday Mentionables A "Best Book" Award and a Guest Blog!

"We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance." ~Japanese Proverb

Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who voted for Summer's Song in the "Book of the Week" poll over the weekend at The Long and the Short of It. It ended up winning! So it will be featured on their website all week long (always good for a little extra promo) and I get this nifty little icon to show off:

Cool, right?

And in other news, I'm guest blogging today at that very site - about pole dancing. Yes, that's right: a few weeks ago, some of my girlfriends and I took a pole dancing lesson just for fun.

Want to know what I thought of it? Read all about it here!