Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Young Adult Move

Hello everyone! I hope you all are doing well. Im here and ready for the summer to start. I can’t wait to finish up at least two of my current works in progress. This week my school is doing the end of the year Scholastic BOGO event. I love this book fair. In the gym lobby we set up the middle school age book fair. In between classes I’ve been studying the books we have for young adult. What im seeing is a shift from vampires and werewolves to science fiction and post apocalyptic books. While I love vampires and weres I am so thrilled about the shift. I LOVE science fiction and admit the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy had me up all night reading it.

I have so many ideas for young adult science fiction and post apocalyptic stuff that now my summer to be written list is growing fuller and fuller. Yayyyyy!!

So what are you’re summer plans and what do you predict for the next shift in young adult?

Invisible

It was one of those days, yesterday. I felt invisible – you know – a day when nothing you do and nothing you say seems to matter to anyone? It’s like throwing a stone into a lake, ony there’s no ripple. . .Please assure me I’m not the only one who has those days.

Anyway, nothing I said made any kind of dent anywhere. The people you pay to listen to you? Blew off last night’s appointment. The person who wanted to pay *me* to listen? (I do occassionally read tarot for friends. This was one of those.) Blew off the appointment – though to be fair – it’s because his car quit on him in the middle of his morning commute and getting a reading while dealing with tow trucks probably wasn’t going to have worked out well.  Regardless. The spouse was in a headspace that  meant he might as well have been on another planet. And, I admit, by the end of the day, the pity party was in full swing and I was cranky.

That’s when this little girl crawled into my lap and purred up into my face. I existed again. She assured me that no matter what else had happened during the day, I mattered to her. In fact, I was vital to her. If only because that left ear desperately needed to be rubbed. Sure. I fuss about the cats walking on my keyboard. My editor has caught evidence of feline edits in my manuscripts. But you know, Hatshepsut just bought herself all kinds of leeway in the keyboard walking wars.

The Raven

“Once upon a midnight dreary

While I pondered, weak and weary…”

When I was a senior in high school, I had to memorize THE RAVEN. Since I am a huge, CRAZY Edgar Allan Poe fan, this wasn’t exactly a hardship for me. And, yes, I still remember too many of the lines, and I drive my husband insane when I start to quote them.

And I’m quoting them a lot right now because…THE RAVEN will be in theaters on Friday. YES!!!!! A movie about Poe! A movie in which Poe is tracking a killer.  I cannot wait.  Serial killers and Poe–that’s a combination that I’ll never be able to pass up. And, just in case you haven’t seen the preview, I wanted to come by today and share this with you…

Have a great day!

Muse Massaging

Because I like lists, and because I’m on a deadline tighter than my skinny jeans, I’ve created lists of things than can both KILL and FUEL your muse. I’m not speaking from personal experience of course. :ahem:

What’s guaranteed to kill your muse stone dead:

1-Reading poor reviews of your other work—don’t do it. Just don’t. A good review won’t suddenly make your writing go from mediocre to New York Times, but a bad review can shoot down your writing day faster than you can say Scotch on the Rocks.

2-Editing another book—if you can help it. I’m “this” close to finishing Last Vamp Standing. The manuscript is due to my editor mid-May and I’m chugging right along. BUT I had to remember to leave enough time to edit a novella that’s coming out with Harlequin this summer. They’re both paranormal. Shouldn’t be too hard to switch between them, right? Wrong. My edit brain works on one level while my creative brain works on a completely different one. Don’t try that at home…

3-Overachieving—Now is not the time to volunteer to work double shifts at work or start a hardcore workout program like Insanity or P90X. Now’s not the time to deep clean your closets or learn how to become a chef. Now’s the time to get your book done. Tackle one beast at a time.

Things that can FUEL your muse:

1-Music—I’m currently listening to Augie March, There Is No Such Place over and over (and ever over) again. My husband recites the definition of insanity to me (you know, doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result), but if Augie March is doin’ it for my muse, I’m rolling with it. Find something that does it for you.

2-Dancing. Running. Kick-boxing. Anything physical. Get that blood flowing. Period.

3-Watching a movie in genre—Keep with the tone, the darkness (or lightness) of characters. (Last week I watched The Last Airbender, Underworld and The Hunger Games. Although you’d think that paints a damn foggy picture of the book I’m writing, it’s pretty clear for me…either that or I’m genuinely confused, which is always a possibility…insanity, remember?) Immediately after the movie ends, go home and write. Ideas should flow like wine and if they don’t, drink the real thing.

:Cheers!:

Le Hero

“Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” The Bard

As an exercise in writer’s craft, the quote goes a long way to outlining character. Take “some are born great” for example. It may be that “born great” actually refers to the birth of the hero, but I was kinda thinking of it in terms of the hero’s introduction to the story. Lots of heroes in paranormal romance are already great—great with power, great with authority, great lovers. Their character arcs take a different form, perhaps humility or sacrifice. Then there are those who belong in the second group, who are pouring their blood and sweat into attempting to achieve something. I love these guys—they’re the stuff of the American Dream—which promises that if you work hard enough, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. I love to see them work out their dreams in stories so that I can have the immediate gratification of their efforts, while my dreams are still works in progress, slogging through one day at a time.

The third variety is the kind of hero or heroine that would rather be watching a movie or canoodling than kicking butt, but circumstances require them to act, to fight and to reach beyond what they (and the reader) ever thought possible. These kinds of protagonists, forced into greatness, are I think closest to the average person, you and me. We live our lives, surf the web, eat too much chocolate—but we hope that if ever there is a moment when we have to step up and do the brave thing, that we will have the mettle and presence of mind to do it. I get a thrill every time I read a story online of some random, regular person being the hero of the day. Recently I saw a yahoo video of a boy jumping up to drive a school bus when the driver lost control. And once—it still makes me want to cry—I saw an online security video of a parent wrapping themselves around an infant as a car crashed into them. They both survived, the adult with two broken legs, the baby unharmed. There are a million examples, and most of them make me want to weep and/or cheer.

I’ve written all three kinds of protagonists, but the third is by far my favorite.

What about you? Think of a favorite book… What kind of hero or heroine does it feature?

Guest Author Kaylea Cross

Please welcome guest author Kaylea Cross! She writes fast-paced, uber sexy military romance and now her first paranormal romance is close to releasing (Darkest Caress, 4/23/2012). She’s a very dear friend of mine and an incredibly talented writer and I’m thrilled she’s here today! So without further rambling from me…here’s Kaylea!

The Setting That Left a Mark

Normally I write military romantic suspense, but after one particular trip I took a couple years ago, I decided to write something different. Way different. And all because the settings I’d seen were too awesome to pass up.

It’s a long story, but even though I hate flying, somehow in the fall of 2009 I wound up in the Baltic States with my father, stepmother and favorite cousin, Mike. He’s really the reason I went on the trip in the first place, leaving my hubby and young children for three weeks. The fact that I actually gave in speaks volumes about just how much I love the guy.

On one particular leg of this trip we were in Lithuania, visiting various spots with our suddenly enthusiastic tour guide, Jurate (the J is pronounced like a Y, and her name means “mermaid” in Lithuanian), who is from the capital city of Vilnius. We’d already been with her over a week in Latvia and Estonia, but I’m telling you the moment we crossed the border into Lithuania, the woman suddenly lit up.

One early October day we drove out to a Catholic shrine dating back to the 19th Century, called the Hill of Crosses.

The sky was clear and blue…except for the roiling mass of black clouds closing in from the south as we approached the shrine. And I do mean black. The approaching storm looked like something you’d expect to see right before a tornado hits. That should have been our first clue to turn around, but no, we carried on and climbed out of the vehicles to visit the shrine, which is smothered in crosses and crucifixes of every shape and size.

No sooner had we reached the edge of the hill than the heavens opened up. It felt like the Big Guy Up There had turned on a faucet all of a sudden. Buckets of rain poured down, and the wind picked up suddenly, blowing so hard we could barely stay on our feet. Hail began to pelt us, raining down from the boiling clouds like stinging bullets. We all huddled together, leaning into the wind to stay upright as the icy pellets pelted our faces and hands. Mike reached out blindly to grab the closest thing to him—a six foot tall cross, and hung on for dear life while we all laughed hysterically at the situation. We withstood the storm for a few more minutes, then abandoned Juarate, who was bravely still trying to give us the grand tour, turned and ran back to the vehicles at a dead sprint while the wind shoved at our backs. My stepmom fell headlong into a gigantic puddle lake that had formed on the sidewalk. Jurate kept shouting at us, trying to call us back. As a staunch Catholic, this was a sacred spot to her and she’d been waiting for almost ten days to show it to us. We all kept running.

By the time we got to the vehicles and piled into them, we were soaked through. It looked like we’d dived headfirst into a swimming pool fully clothed, we were that wet. And we still had another four hours of driving to reach the town where we were staying the night. It was a long, cold, clammy ride, with torrential rain, wind and flashes of lightning that slowed us to a crawl along many sections of the highway.

This is the stuff of adventures, people. And as someone that doesn’t travel much, it certainly left an impression on me.

The next morning we found out it hadn’t been just a storm—it was an anticyclone that felled trees and power lines, killing half a dozen people in the immediate area.

O_o

Was it mere coincidence that the storm hit the very instant we set foot onto sacred soil? No way. I still think it’s because my father is a non-believer and my cousin and I were never baptized. Someone Up There was ticked at us.

It was the very next day while visiting the picturesque Curonian Spit and the seaside village of Nida that I learned about the folklore which ultimately gave rise to Darkest Caress. But you’d better believe I’m going to find a way to include the Hill of Crosses and the anticyclone in the next book! I included a note about it to cousin Mike in the dedication.

Has a book’s setting ever made such an impression that it’s always stayed with you? For a chance to win a digital copy of Darkest Caress, please leave me a comment.

Two-hundred-year-old Daegan Blackwell is one of the last remaining Empowered, an ancient magical race. Daegan’s duty is to lead and protect his remaining Brethren in the coming war foretold by prophecy. The last thing he expects is to meet the one woman who will either save or destroy him—his destined mate.

Fiercely independent Realtor Olivia Farrell believes darkly handsome Daegan is simply a prospective client. Until she’s attacked by a man with a strange aura—and Daegan fights him off, taking away her pain with just his touch. At first, Olivia refuses to believe she’s part of a magical race, yet mounting evidence and her powerful chemistry with Daegan are too strong to deny.

But as Daegan’s partner, Olivia becomes a target in the battle between good and evil that threatens her life, as well as the very existence of the Empowered. And the only one who can save her is the man claiming to be her destiny…

Happy reading!

Kaylea Cross is an award winning author of edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense and hot paranormals. A Registered Massage Therapist, Kaylea is an avid gardener, artist, Civil War buff, Special Ops aficionado, bellydancer and former nationally-carded softball pitcher. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband. You can find her on Twitter, her blog, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Greetings from Chicago

I’m at the Romantic Times Book Lover’s convention this week. I’m giving away goodies and partying with my fellow readers and writers. I’m also celebrating the release of my first attempt at an erotica novella.

It was a priority-two alert for beautiful Commander Cashel Khaleize: a contract put out on the life of Xiao Zhong. Professionally, Xiao was the Captain she reported to. Personally, he was man she desired. But as female Guild Assassin Mekise Tollenga closes in, Xiao wonders if even Cashel can be trusted with his safety. And with a tenuous bond between them, Cashel wonders how far she’s willing to go to earn that trust.

BUY Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Yes. The rumor is true. I wrote this on a bit of a dare – I’d bet a critique partner that I couldn’t write a sexy story. She bet that I could. So here it is. If this sort of thing is your cup of tea, give it a shot and let me know who won the bet. Kidding. I’ve already bought her the drink I owed her for this one.

If you’re in Chicago, come see me Saturday at the book signing – it is open to the public – you need not be registered for the conference. I know all of the authors in the signing would love to see every single person who comes through the door. I have glow in the dark bug bands for the first several (we’re talking thirty or forty) people who stop in to say hi. Yes. The bug band are ridiculous. But they’re cute…my twelve year old niece says so. <G>

Distractions

Distractions are sometimes a writer’s worst enemy. I say sometimes because I can usually ignore them. Once I’m deep in the story, I can block everything from my mind and when I’m yanked into the real world, it takes me some time to realize what’s going on around me. You know, like someone asking me an important question, or even recognizing someone.

But there are times when distractions can’t be ignored. One such incident happened to me over the weekend. I’m working on the second book in my Olympus, Inc. series and have been having a rough time of it. The characters are not cooperating with me, the plot has more holes than Swiss cheese, and I’m starting to have doubts about the story. These are bad, bad things for a writer to deal with.

I wrote the first book in the series in 28 days (kind of like the zombies in the movie, it took over everything in my life) and most of it was written in a coffee shop. I tried to recapture that atmosphere by going to a different coffee shop. Starbucks, to be exact. I had everything I needed: A white chocolate frappucino, my ear buds, and enough music to last me several hours.

When I listen to music, I always listen to it as loud as I can stand it. I’ll probably be deaf in a few years, but it’s a risk I have to take since music motivates me when I’m writing.

So there I am in a nice little corner of Starbucks with my ear buds in, Avenged Sevenfold screaming in my ears, and an open document in front of me. I place my fingers on the keys and start typing when I hear screaming over M Shadows.

I look up to see a little boy, possibly 4 or 5, tearing into the building with his mom who seems to find this funny. I look back down at my laptop and turn up the volume, trying to block out the noise. Except the little boy came closer and closer, running, skidding, and I’m thinking the last place he needs to be is a coffee shop. Not only because he was distracting, but because he might somehow suck in caffeine through osmosis. It could happen.

But it was too late for me and my muse. The spell was broken and I’d lost my desire to write. I stuck it out as long as I could, forcing myself to write and deleting every word I put down because they were awful.

There are some distractions I can ignore, but apparently screaming, half-wild kids isn’t one of them. How about you? What distractions can you ignore and which ones get you every time?

Roberts and Mice and Men, oh my!

Nora Roberts really knows her shit.

I mean, this isn’t late breaking news for anyone who’s read a Robert’s or Robb novel. They wring out your emotions, make you laugh and cry and sympathize with characters you didn’t think you would at the beginning. You can’t go into any romance section without seeing rows and rows of Nora novels, even though bookstores are downsizing.

I’ve seen Nora speak a handful of times, and each time someone asks how she writes, she holds strong to her mantra:

Sit your ass in the chair and write.

Each time she says it, I nod, agreeing that a book can’t be written if you don’t put in the time. Duh, right? You can’t get thin by sitting on the couch. You can’t learn to play sports without getting out there and doing them.

This month I’m reciting her mantra…

I’m smashed under a deadline. Vampires ofCrimsonBay#3 is due in May. I’m…not behind, per se, but I’m definitely not cooling my heels drinking Long Islands. I have to write 1500 words each day in order to meet the deadline which would leave a week or so for edits. Usually that kind of pace would be no problem for me, but this book is heavier than the rest. There’s more at stake. It’s the end of a certain villain and the beginning for a new breed of paranormal creature. (Can’t give too much away!)

I’m finding it beyond difficult to meet my daily word count and distractions are everywhere. (Hello closets, you look like you could use a spring cleaning!) It’d be easy for me to lax on my word count and take off for the weekend now that the weather in Northern Cali has put on its happy face. Instead, I sit my ass in the chair and chug through the words. It’s slow going. It’s give-you-a-headache hard. (Writing is HARD folks, who knew?)

While some days I feel like I’m not getting anywhere, those words are adding up. I’m at 64k (approx 210 pages) and to be honest, I’m not sure how I got there so quickly. Wasn’t I just sloshing through 40k?

All I know is, even on days when the writing is sluggish and the words don’t seem to fit into the puzzle just so, I keep going. I sit my ass in the chair and what do you know…the book takes shape.

When the writing is sunshine and wildflowers, it’s easy to sit in the chair and pump out a chapter or two. When the writing is quicksand…that’s when the men are separated from the mice.

So sit your ass down, leave your closets alone, and get that book done.

Nora Roberts really knows her shit.

First loves…

Some years back, I was house/dogsitting for a work friend and I caught a pretty bad flu. My husband couldn’t even sleep in the same bed because any movement would… be very alarming (enough said). So while I tried to breathe as shallowly as possible to survive the day, my husband searched the room’s bookshelf and found a whole lotta paperback romances. He selected Honor’s Splendour by Julie Garwood, which became my first romance. (Full disclosure: before that time I think I had read one category romance, but it had been stripped. More on that book in another post.)

Anyway, I was so sick the first day of the Dread Flu that I couldn’t even hold the book myself. My husband did the sweetest thing, worthy of a romance—he read it aloud to me. I hung on every single word, not just to save my life (which I was sure was coming to an end), but because I’d never encountered a book that put all the good bits right up front, instead of burying them in a subplot.

The hero’s name was Duncan, and he will forever have my husband’s voice. It’s one of my all-time faves.

After the first hell day passed, I was able to read by myself to pass the time. I conquered a few more of her Garwoods, and as I already had an interest in writing fiction, soon after I attempted my first romance, a medieval. I didn’t get very far into it (I think it opened with the heroine trying to escape the invading Normans). But secretly, one day I hope to go back and write the story. I’ll have to name the hero Matthew.

What was your first romance?

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