Monthly Archives: January 2012

Conference Shout-Out

Today, I wanted to give a shout-out to the upcoming (March 16-18) Silken Sands Writers’ Conference. This conference is put on by my local RWA Chapter, so it’s very near and dear to my heart.

And, um, did I mention that it’s held directly on beautiful Pensacola Beach?  You can see the waves crashing from your room. You can see dolphins swimming in the morning. Awesome.

There’s  a great line-up of speakers and agents for this conference, including fantastic folks like Barbara Vey of Publishers Weekly, Angela James (Carina Press), Holly Blanck (St. Martin’s), Jenny Bent (of the Bent Agency), and Lucienne Diver (of the Knight Agency). You can see a list of all the wonderful attending agents and editors on the GCC site.

If you’ve always wanted to write, this is the conference for you.  Workshops are offered to suit every writing level–from beginning to the multi-published veterans.

Come join me for a conference at the beach! (And if you’re registering, hurry! Early bird registration rates end on 2/1.)

Thanks for letting me have my shout-out. 🙂

Time Flies

Looking at the calendar this morning, I just can’t believe we’re about to shut out the first month of 2012. Where did the month go? Seriously, I’m still trying to remember to put 2012 when I’m dating things and now it’s already February!

Remember when you were a kid and clocks seemed to move so slow, especially when you were waiting for the recess bell, or the end of day bell? Remember when summers seemed to be over in the blink of an eye, but the school year lasted forever?

Yeah, I remember those days, but they don’t happen now. We all used to hear “Time flies when you’re having fun” and you knew it applied to your holidays and summer breaks. These days time flies regardless of whether you’re having fun or not.

My mom used to tell me she feels like she blinked one day and her kids were grown and she had grandchildren. I think about that a lot since I feel the same way. My nephews grew up, I somehow hit my mid-30s without realizing it and I don’t feel any different than I did when I was 24 and graduating from college.

Oh sure, sometimes I wake up feeling like I’m 80 years old and in serious need of a full-body replacement, but for the most part, I feel young in my head if that makes sense. Then I talk with my younger cousin about college and I realize, to her, I’m very old indeed. Why? Because I actually said “If I knew then what I know now…” Or I find myself telling someone “Well, that happened about 20 years ago…” and I go into instant freak-out mode because I shouldn’t be able to remember things from 20 years ago…then I remember that I’m not 24 anymore, I’m 35 so yeah, I can totally talk about things that happened 20 years ago.

Meh. How about you? Have you looked in the mirror and been startled to see you weren’t the fresh-faced 18-year-old you once were? While you comment, I’ll be hiding in the corner counting my grey hair and wrinkles. 😉

Passion

German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said, “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”

I have a handful of critique partners. A few, key people who find things in my work that I’m too blind to see. One of these readers—the first reader of my work, actually—has been a friend since the fourth grade. She’s not a writer, but an avid reader who is blunt, harsh, and will tell it like it is. (The best reader to have, if your poor writing ego can stand it!)

Anyhow, she loves horses. She’s owned a few and still boards one not far out of the town where we live. A few weeks back I took my seven year old princess out to the ranch where she keeps her horse. As she was saddling up, we got to talking. She rides every week. She suits up, drives twenty minutes out, preps the horse, rides it, feeds it, cleans the stall if it calls for it, drives twenty minutes back, etc, etc.

The more she talked about her horse and the ordeal it takes to get out and ride, the more I realized I would never, ever dream of having a horse. (My little princess on the other hand LOVED it. I’m in trouble…) It takes serious passion for horses to put up with the crap it takes to own one.

I realized that writing fits in the same category.

There’s a ton of crap you have to deal with if you want to make it in this business. Hours in the computer chair disappear. (Should I mention your ass could expand if you don’t rev your metabolism?) Muses shrivel up and die. (I’ve shot mine. Twice.) Rejections flood in. (Don’t get me started.) Egos sour. Writer’s block smacks you upside the head, stunning you into stupidity. You inevitably compare you writing to others and think yours is the cream of the crap. (Man, how many times have I used crap in this post…)

My point is that passion drives us. It gives us energy, motivates us to push farther and do great things. Whether that passion is writing, horseback riding, drawing, running, fostering children, politics, nursing, teaching, it doesn’t matter. They’re all the same.

As long as you have passion in your life—for something, anything—you’ll do great things.

What are you passionate about?

Reclaiming the office

Most of my Shadow series has been written from a big, comfy chair in my bedroom. And most of the time, the long ottoman from our loft has been dragged in so I can have a place to rest my feet. The surrounding area is often littered with the pages of one of my stories, usually from crit or from having my keen-eyed husband review for typos. And then there’s the day’s snack stuff. My work spread easily takes over a third of the bedroom. Not good.

So last year, we moved the kids into a room together (under duly noted protest) and my husband and I took over the empty room for our office. I tried to work in there, but somehow my mojo was tied to the chair in the bedroom. Plus, the office got cluttered quickly with random stuff from the house. And it’s been overhauled for visitors, most recently the Christmas crew.

Well, it’s January—the month of fresh starts. And I am taking the office back. It’s cleaned out now, as you can see from the photo. Curtains and rods have been purchased. And I have a bunch of random stuff I need to put for decoration or utility. My absolutely necessary whiteboard needs inconspicuous wall space. I need more shelves. A little table. My comfy chair. And I’m going to buy myself a small ottoman so that the loft can have the big one back. And I hope this transformation can happen by the end of the month.

I am not particularly talented where home decoration is concerned (suggestions welcome), but I’ll post the results next time. I’ve got a lot of writing to do this year, and I have a fantasy of doing it in a great room.

Where I Fear to Tread

Well. I apologize! I had an entire post written and scheduled to post this morning and WordPress ate it! It is 100% gone. That’s damned annoying.

At any rate, the summary was that I was blogging as a means to procrastinate working on a story that scares me because it’s pretty emotionally intense and I really dread going there. I hypothesized some masochistic streak in me that handed me story ideas that made me recoil in three-year-old ‘I don’t wanna’ hysterics.

I’d mentioned that author Mary Buckham says it’s our jobs to go into the dark places of ourselves and write about all the nasty, terrifying stuff most normal people can’t admit lives in their psyches. I’d like to believe that.

What about you? If you’re a writer, how do you view delving into the shadow portions of yourself for story material? If you’re a reader, are there books that have haunted you? What about them did that, do you think?

And again, my apologies for the blank post.

I get hooked…

Happy New Year!! I hope 2012 brings you only good things. 🙂

Do you ever go through moods in which you suddenly find yourself hooked on a certain type of TV show, a certain type of book–or even a certain type of food?

I do–I’m one of those people that can get hooked, and hooked fast.  If I read a book by an author that knocks me off my feet, well, then guess who is about to go into a reading frenzy as I buy up more of that author’s work?

And if I find a series on TV that just draws me right in, well, yep, guess who will go back and watch all the previous shows in that series (we’re talking several seasons–and, oh, yes,  Castle, I’m looking at you).

When I find something I like, I’m a happy girl.  I’m also a girl that can get hooked way, way too easily.

What about you? Do you get hooked on certain shows or books? Are you hooked on anything special right now?

 

The Waiting Game

Happy belated New Year! I know, I know, I missed my post two weeks ago, but I blame the holidays for that. Now that’s over, I can concentrate on being a responsible blogger.

Unfortunately, with the end of the distraction of the holidays, I have to deal with my instant gratification problem. That’s one thing about writing that drives me insane: It’s not an industry that moves at the speed of light.

You spend weeks, sometimes months writing your story. When you reach The End, it’s just the beginning because then you have to edit and revise, make it pretty. After that, it’s on to critique partners and beta readers so they can look for things you’ve missed. Once you get the story back, you spend even more time weeding through it with a fine-toothed comb until it’s as polished as you can possibly make it.

Depending on your situation, this starts either a round of queries to agents and editors, or you send it along to your agent for them to send it along to editors. And then there’s the waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

That’s where I am right now with three books. Two are in the agent’s hands and one is in the beta reader’s hands. Now what do I do with myself?

Keep writing, of course! I already have a new story in mind, one completely unlike anything I’ve written before. Normally I stick to the paranormal being type stories, but this time I’m going ahead in time with no supernatural people. When I explained my story to my mother (who knows what makes me click) she looked at me in shock. Yes, shock, because what I intend to write doesn’t fit in with what I’ve done before. Which is a good thing, I think. Taking risks in writing is what keeps your edge sharp and readers interested.

So while I wait and wait, I’ll write and write.

But I really do wish this was an instant gratification industry. It’d be so much easier on my nerves. LOL

First Impressions

They’re so important, aren’t they? Whether you’re walking into a job interview, or meeting someone on a blind date, it’s crucial to put your best foot forward.

Is your hair flowing perfectly? Does your outfit suit the job you’re applying for? Is your outfit smokin’ hot (without revealing too much) for your date? Do you say the right things, staying professional, yet open?

I’m finding that all of those questions are crucial to ask yourself when you sit down to write the opening scene for you novel, too. Are you hooking your readers from page one, line one? Are you revealing just the right amount of information without giving away too much? Is the story of their life (back story) clogging what’s important to this scene?

Last summer, I started writing Vampires of Crimson Bay #3. I got seventy pages in, when my agent asked if I could pump out a few novellas for Harlequin Cravings. (I did, by the way, and I think they’re some of the best things I’ve written! Look for them this summer!) Anyhow, I stepped away from Crimson Bay and the characters I’ve come to love through InterVamption and Vamped Up.

It feels like I’ve been gone from their lives forever.

We’re starting fresh.

Having gone back and read the original seventy pages, I’m finding that my first impression of some of the characters was skewed. (There was tons of why did he say it that way? Doesn’t he know how he comes off? Or she wouldn’t do that, would she?) There’s material that doesn’t belong—two whole chapters, actually. My “cut-out” file is huge, let me tell you! I’m revealing too much back story. I’m giving too much information about characters that don’t really play a role in Dante’s story. (Oh yes, he’s next. :swoon: )

Although I have a deadline looming over me and a gazillion of things to do in my non-writing life, I deleted half of what I wrote. I’m starting fresh. With a new perspective on things.

I’m scared to start again. I know these characters inside and out, yet the impression they’ve made on me doesn’t quite fit the mold it should.

As a writer, or reader, do you find that your first impression of a character changes through the course of the story? Or what about when you put a book down for an extended length of time?

I’m dying to know that it’s not only me…

Shadow Play cover!

I am very excited to post the cover to my upcoming novella release!

Shadow Play is the second in my Shadow novella series, and though it stands alone, it also continues the story of Cam and Ellie, the main characters of the first novella, Shadow Touch. Two more novellas are planned in the series–I just turned in the synopsis for the third, tentatively titled Shadow Hunt. I can’t wait to write it.

SHADOW
The world is growing dark with it as mysteries from antiquity and legend creep into our time, bringing a new world of danger, beauty and…

MAGIC
Dr. Cam Kalamos has dedicated his life to studying its strange properties, but nothing is more intriguing than a woman whose soul is split in half, one part under her control, one part bent on…

SEDUCTION
How can he resist the lure of a lover with no inhibitions and an insatiable desire to possess him? Both Ellie and her shadow want Cam, but there is an innocent child to be rescued from the forest and the strange fae creatures of…

TWILIGHT
Love, loyalty, betrayal—which will rule? As Ellie sends her other self into the darkness, there is only one certainty: Trusting in shadows is a dangerous game.

Shadow Play releases May 2012 from Kensington Zebra.

Welcome Guest Author Shawna Thomas

Please welcome guest author Shawna Thomas! A very talented writer, and fellow Carina Press author, she’s here today talking about goals for the new year!

Can you believe we’re almost half way through the first month of 2012? I can’t. Where does time go?

I don’t make resolutions, but I did make some important decisions and set some firm goals for this year.

I won’t bore you with why I don’t make resolutions or what the difference is between resolutions and goals, at least in my mind. You’ll just have to trust me.

A lot of those goals and decisions involve my writing career. Last year was a year of change. I got married, expanded my family by a stepson and got pregnant. Also in the middle of all that, Carina Press published my first book, Altered Destiny.

Taking Altered Destiny through the publications process with Carina was a dream come true. Because of all the wonderful and good changes, I didn’t spend the time I should have promoting the book. Most writers will tell you promotion takes a lot of time and energy. Two things I have in short supply.

Also, even though Altered Destiny has received some pretty good reviews, one book does not make your career. I have several partial finished manuscripts needing to be edited, polished and submitted. Queries and synopses need to be written and…you guessed it. Time.

Time is a fickle thing. While waiting in the doctor’s office, an hour drags. At home, an hour isn’t enough to clean out my email inbox.

So my goal for this year is to spend more time writing. You’d think it would be easy. I love to write. Spending time doing what you love should be easy. But every writer will tell you, there’s just not enough hours in the day.

You see, writers work from home. At home you will also find laundry, dishes, dust and a hundred tasks to be done. There are often also children, husbands, dogs and phone calls. All of which take…time.

Barring the discovery of a Tardis machine or Hermione loaning me her time turner, time to write means some difficult choices. Maybe a little less House Hunters, Facebook and Twitter. Maybe some creative crockpot cooking.

So did you make any resolutions or goals this year? Have you kept them?

For more information on Shawna, please visit Shawna’s website or her page at Carina Press.

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