Saturday, January 31

Drive by blogging...

Okay, okay... so here I am... doing a little drive by blogging regarding something I'm quite thrilled about! Today at The Deadly Vixens we have an interview with RWA Seattle's President and published author, Shelli Stevens, as she explains what it's like to be an RWA chapter president and an author.

Also, as you can tell, it's the end of the month. Yikes! Where did January go? I still have the rest of today to make my February goals and try to get as much done on my monthly goals as I can, and tomorrow, I'll see what I've achieved and/or made progress on. I hope you've accomplished all you've wanted to this month!

Anyways, I'll see you over at The Deadly Vixens. *winks*

Friday, January 30

RT convention and first Newsletter of the year...

...has now been released into your inboxes, if you've signed up! The next newsletter will be going out around April or May. And by then I'll have gone to Romantic Times Convention, which is actually going to be in my city. If you can't tell, I'm starting to get the RT fever. I'm quite excited about going. This will be my first time attending a convention, and I hear that RT can be fun, if not overwhelming. =)

Have any of you ever been to a Romantic Times Convention? Are you going this year? I'd love to hear what you had/have to think about it.

Thursday, January 29

Interview with Theresa Scott

Theresa Scott

Thank you for taking the time to interview with me.

1. How were you inspired to become an author?

TS: I read a Johanna Lindsey story and from there, I started to read every romance I could get my hands on. This went on for about two years. I absorbed the books. Then, of course, I wanted to write one. I sat down and figured out a plot and started writing and didn't show it to anyone until I'd written a few chapters. Then I took a weekend workshop at a regional conference and Debbie Macomber was my teacher. She encouraged me and... I just kept going!

2. Did it take a lot of rejections for you to finally get published or was it pretty easy for you?

TS: I find now that I was published fairly easily. My first book was picked up by Dorchester Publishing. Nowadays that is a rarity. I am currently in a hiatus in my career, however, where the publishing is not coming easily, so, moral of the story is I guess you pays now or you pays later... At some point in a writing career you will have to work without outside reinforcement, like being recognized as a writer, or being published, or getting great reviews, to cheer you along. Whether that is at the beginning, middle or end of your career differs with each person. And don't forget that much in a publishing career is out of the writer's hands. We can do the work and make sure it's the best book we can write, but we can't control if it will be bought by an editor or readers.

3. How do you find out all of the information needed on the Native American legends and myths?

TS: My BA degree was in Anthropology. I learned to research while gaining that degree. I find the best information is from the anthropological studies, and not necessarily on the internet. I've spent a lot of time reading books! I've also interviewed Native American people. I find that was often the most helpful and I continue to prefer to interview people on any number of topics. It lends a depth I need for the story.

4. Do you write your stories out with pencil and paper first or do you work straight on the computer?

TS: I like to sketch a story out longhand on a yellow legal pad first. That way, I get to play with the ideas. I've also discovered 3 X 5 cards are wonderful for getting your scenes down and then you can move the cards around until you get your story flowing the way you want it to. I get to the computer fairly quickly, however, and work from an outline, typing as I go deeper into the story.

5. How long does it take for you to write books?

TS: Usually 9 months to a year.

6. Many authors are doing strictly e-books, do you think this is just a trend, or does it spell the end of real books?

TS: I look at it more in terms of story-telling. E-Books, published paperbacks, movies, they are all mediums for the storytelling. People want stories. We learn so much from them. We use them to guide us through life's torturous pathways. I think that story telling is never going to go away. It may change or the structures may change but there is always going to be a demand for stories.

7. Is there anyone that you can think of that influences your writing?

TS: There are probably so many influences I can't name them all. Influences are all around me, from newspapers, movies, and other people, to ideas that one gets. I like Christopher Vogler's 'The Writer's Journey.' Joseph Campbell. Movies. I think earlier on in a career, writers are more influenced by a role model. After a writer has gained some skill and experience--when they get their own voice--a writer may shy away from reading others in an attempt to keep their own voice more authentic.

8. Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?

TS: Ideas can come from anywhere. It is our individual unconscious that needs to be open to the stimulus of something outside or inside of us. Dreams, a chance word, an idea. A question about life. Any number of things. Bottom line is I think that the ideas come from what we call God, or the Universe, or one's Higher Power, or whatever you want to name the Great Mystery. I do not use people whom I know for my characters. I stay away from that. Besides, how can I really know another person? Real life events can be fun to write about in a story, but again, I write fiction so I would change the details, or give it different ending.

9. Do you have any projects you are currently working on?

TS: I am currently working on a screenplay and a contemporary novel.

10. What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?

TS: Ah, advice... yes. Hmmmm. The story is the thing. What I've found is that a writing career takes a lot more work and effort than I ever thought it would. I've found that I meet wonderful people along the way. I've found that I learn a heck of a lot about myself and how I look at the world. I've found that if you persevere in writing stories, it can be very rewarding for the writer as well as for the reader.

Interviewed by Sarah on 3/10/04.

Wednesday, January 28

How much is too much?

Condoms in romance fiction... yes, fiction. I'm surprised by what I read yesterday at Murder She Writes and Dear Author (this is a slightly older topic, toward the middle of January), but I caught on to it through Roxanne St. Clair's blog on Murder She Writes, which is a great blog, by the way. I definitely recommend romantic suspense and mystery readers and writers to check it out. The Dear Author poll was about Condoms in Contemporary Romance, but I know a few other genres were thrown in here and there like Paranormal/Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Romantic Suspense obviously since it came about regarding Ms. St. Clair's latest Bullet Catcher trilogy.

Some readers automatically said the characters were TSTL (too stupid to live) if there isn't the mention of condoms, which I don't think is fair. My take on this topic is that just because characters aren't shown eating three meals a day or using the restroom to relieve themselves, does that mean they aren't doing those things? Does an author need to mention that when a character gets into the car and drives to work, he has a seat belt on? Isn't that commonsense... let alone The Law? Can't some situations like sexual protection also be implied?

Also, what about for authors? Some readers noted that it takes them out of the fantasy of reading romance fiction, which is fiction, not real life stories. For me, I always used to read as a way to escape real life. Can't authors do what feels natural to them in their stories without wondering which camp will disagree on the given choice of to-include or not-include question?

I will disgress that I do find it important for the YA genre to have mention of condoms and safe sex, since young adults may not assume that the characters are having safe sex and using preventatives, which adults readily have the knowledge and/or experience of.

I've used condoms in my writing, and I think about the potential consequences of unsafe sex for my characters, the most notable being a plot point in a paranormal romance of one breaking and causing the hero stress throughout the book of the heroine becoming pregnant. I'm not sure what happens since the book hasn't been finished yet. Also, if it's a sexy situation, great, that's nice, too, but are authors obligated to give step-by-step details on how two characters make love?

I agree with Ms. St. Clair that love scenes and the characters who act them out help decide how an author handles this condom situation. Last night, I saw The Last Templar movie on TV, and the hero/heroine were in a desert in the middle of nowhere. When they entered the desert, neither were really romantically interested in one another, giving no cause of bringing a condom, but they seemed to be getting real close. What should they do? Is the heroine or hero too stupid to live (TSTL)? And, on that note, why should books be held to one standard and a movies and television held to another? How many movies and TV shows have we seen where the hero or heroine stop in the middle of a love scene to put on a condom? Honestly, I can't call any to memory.

Through and through, what a reader likes or dislikes is ultimately up to them, and I think they have the right to read, or not read, what they feel comfortable with, but I personally don't think that whether an author uses condoms, or doesn't, in fiction should be held against them since each writer has their own writing style and do what they feel comfortable with doing.

Goodness, I feel like I've written an essay. Let me know what you think. I'm open to hearing thoughts. *smiles*

Sunday, January 25

Chocolate anyone?

Here's a fun quiz I found on Rachel Vincent's blog in the archives. I figured I'd try it out and see what happened. Turns out some of it is actually accurate. Wow. *smiles* Try it out yourself, and let me know what you think of it.

What Your Taste in Chocolate Says About You

You are unique, creative, and fascinating.

You don't do what's expected of you.

You go for what's unknown and uncharted.

You are emotionally expressive and sensitive.

You're effected by everything around you.

Your friends appreciate your open heart, but they are afraid of hurting your feelings.

You love to be in love. You crave romance, whether you're single or not.

You feel lost when you don't feel passion... you need someone to adore.

Saturday, January 24

Insomnia and the editing groove

As you can tell by the time this was written, and the title, yep... I've got a small case of sleepless nights, especially after the movie hubby had us watch a little while ago! lol... But, I'm not a scaredy cat when it comes to movies, and it's probably just my messed up sleep schedule.

So! I think I'm finally getting back into a little bit of the groove on my manuscript. It's going slower than I'd like, but then again, maybe it's just that the section of the novel I'm in right now has a lot of changes that needs to be done to it. Lots of things that I decided at the beginning of revising that would be better than what is already there. The important thing though is that I'm making progress. =)

I found a wonderful new author group blog recently called Deadline Dames. It consists of nine urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and young adult writers. I love Rachel Vincent's werecat series, and have heard of several of the others.

Also, The Deadly Vixens have an interview with an editor from The Wild Rose Press, so make sure to go check that out to see an editor's opinion as well as advice for published and aspiring authors alike.

That's about all I can think of for now.

Tuesday, January 20

Interview with Robin D. Owens

Robin D. Owens

Her books are absolutely wonderful! I definitely recommend reading them.

1. When/how did you know you wanted to write?

RDO: I wrote as a child. The only story I vaguely remember (fortunately) is one about two friends on a spaceship, one with long, curly black hair to her hips and the other with long, curly blond hair...I wrote bits and pieces of ideas/scenes for a long time, then put most of my creativity into a relationship, when that broke up, I decided to do something for me and took a writing course from Cassie Miles/Kay Bergstrom. Kay continues to read and critique all my work.

2. How long did it take you to become published?

RDO: LOL, I prefer not to recall exactly how long it took me to get published, but I think it was between 8-9 years.

3. Who are some of your favorite authors?

RDO: Favorite authors: Jayne Ann Krentz (Jayne Castle), Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Elizabeth Lowell, Jasmine Cresswell, Maggie Osborne...

4. Who do you count as your literary influences?

RDO: Literary Influences -- see above...also, Mary Stewart, Andre Norton, Tanith Lee.

5. How long does it usually take for you to research a book?

RDO: As a person with a library degree I don't DARE research a book beforehand. I have books at my desk (Celtic mythology, botany books and the Herbal Tarot for naming characters, Welsh dictionary, French dictionary, Crystal and Gem, Castles, etc.). When I need something I usually research it that week and usually online. Many times I contact people. I believe the nanotechnology took me about two weeks for Heart Thief, but I'd been interested in it for a long time, so I knew something of the science.

6. How long does it take for you to write books?

RDO: It varies at how long a book takes. I'm usually working on more than one at a time. I'll say between four and six months for a rough draft, then it's revise, revise, revise.

7. I really enjoy reading your books. How did you come up with the idea for your series about Celta?

RDO: Thanks for the compliment on the Heart books. Celta is defined as I go along (though by the end of HeartMate I had about 20 pages of notes, more now of course). Actually, I usually get ideas from physical objects. I was playing with a bloodstone pendulum and thought of a man who might use bloodstone dice to foretell the future, especially his True Love. But it would have to be in a culture where a man doing divination wouldn't be seen as sissy or weak. So I had him make the dice, but being a jeweler might be seen as a sissy job too, so I had him forging swords. It all fell together. I'd wanted to see a Celtic society in books, so I made one up. I don't pretend to be an expert and form my society on Celta by what feels right to me personally.

8. Are you ever influenced by something you see and think, that would go great in a book?

RDO: I am influenced by EVERYTHING. What I see, hear, touch, smell, taste, feel, think. Others' experiences. Books, movies, music, news, what my cats whine at me and how they act, readers' comments, reviews, critique buddies especially. Everything. What I put down on the page is something I got from somewhere...I recall when the penny dropped about doing cat familiars. My scruffy tom, Maddox, was lurking outside the door of my office, waiting for another cat to come out (my office has no door). I said, "Maddox, please don't pounce on Diva." As if 1) He could understand me. 2) He would listen to me if he DID understand me. 3) He would bother to modify his behavior. He was a CAT.

9. Many authors are doing strictly e-books, do you think this is just a trend, or does it spell the end of real books?

RDO: I am sure ebooks are here to stay, but haven't a clue when they will become more popular than paper.

10. What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?

RDO: Determination is more important than talent. Like I say in my dedication of HeartMate: To All Struggling Writers, Never Quit. Never Quit...and I was very careful in that dedication -- I meant myself, too.

Thanks for the opportunity to talk about my craft, and the excellent questions.

Take care,

HeartMate, 2002 RITA Winner Best Paranormal Romance
"I loved Heart Thief!" Jayne Ann Krentz

Interviewed by Sarah on 5/1/04.

Sunday, January 18

New website and more

If you've noticed, I have a wonderful new layout and design for my website and blog. I think it's absolutely gorgeous. It means a lot to me because the Urban Fantasy that I'm working on reflects aspects of it that I can't spill because then my books wouldn't be as much of a surprise. *grins* My webmistress, Rae Monet, did an excellent job on everything. I'm absolutely thrilled with what she's done.

Also, I had a request for a full on my novella, Night of the Tiger, which is about a Siberian weretiger who falls in love with an Amazon Princess. It was really fun to write, and I can't wait for it to find a home. It stretched me as a writer, since at the time, I was writing urban contemporaries, and with the novella, I really had to research and find out information that I didn't readily know.
In other writing news, besides from editing my novella for the request, I haven't gotten too much more done. I hope to change that this week though. Instead of checking my email every few minutes, I need to work on editing my urban fantasy novel or write on my urban fantasy sequel. But, it's a new week, so I'm going to go for it. =)

Last night, I saw My Bloody Valentine 3D. It was a fun movie, and Jensen Ackles did an amazing job as did the rest of the cast as well. And yes, I love him in his role of Dean Winchester from Supernatural, but this role was also great for him in a very interesting way. I'm honestly a fan of his through and through. I can't say too much else about the movie because I don't want to ruin the movie for anyone who wants to see it. Seeing it in 3D is definitely the way to go since the special effects were neat. Some were done pretty much for the 3D effect, which wasn't bad. Don't take kids to it because there is gore and sexual content.

Thursday, January 15

Interview with Penelope Neri

Penelope Neri

Thank you for taking the time to interview with me! It was great talking to you.

1. How were you inspired to become an author?

PN: Perhaps it sounds a bit trite, but I think my first inspiration to become an author started way back, when I first learned to read. I suspect now that I had a form of dyslexia as a child, although such things weren't diagnosed in those days. It seemed as if everyone else in first grade could read, except me! I felt so left out, because I knew I wasn't stupid!

I was about seven or eight when I finally began reading. Once I knew how, I read everything in sight! By the time I was eleven, I was reading books for adults. At that time, it seemed to me that being able to write a book for other people to read was the most exciting thing anyone could do. (I was right! It is!) That's one reason I was delighted to be asked to contribute to Leisure's 'Love's Legacy' literary anthology.

2. Who are some of your favorite authors?

PN: I enjoy so many! Historical biographies by Margaret George, great epic 'place' books by Edward Rutherford, (London, Sarum, etc.) psychological suspense from British writing duo Nikki French, history/adventure by Wilbur Smith, Mary Stewart, Rosamund Pilcher, Binchy, Nora Roberts, and so many others!

3. How long did it take you to become published?

PN: My first book, Passion's Rapture, was accepted on its third submission by editor Pesha Finkelstein at Zebra Books (now Kensington). It took about eighteen months to write it, and another eighteen months to find a publisher. I was very lucky.

4. How long does it usually take for you to research a book?

PN: Research is an ongoing process as I write, so about six months or so. I also enjoy watching movies with a similar locale, time period etc. to my current work in progress. This helps me to absorb the feel of a time or place.

5. What inspires you to focus on past eras?

PN: My love of history and the quirks of various cultures and time periods!

6. What do you do in preparing to write a story?

PN: I read 'all around' the people, time and place I'm interested in, such as travel books, non-fiction history books, even cook books and recipes. Sometimes I get a bit carried away and my research spills over into the family meal-planning. When I was researching Scotland, my kids were afraid I'd expect them to eat haggis! (boiled sheep's intestine stuffed with oatmeal, spices, onions and minced meats.) Once I've absorbed enough of the atmosphere and flavor of the people/period/location to write about a time or place comfortably and knowledgeably, I begin.

7. Who do you count as your literary influences?

PN: I was raised and educated in Suffolk, England, so my influences tend to be classical British authors such as Dickens, Shakespeare, etc.

8. Many authors are doing strictly e-books, do you think this is just a trend, or does it spell the end of real books?

PN: I hope not. There's nothing as comforting as lugging around that special title you can't wait to read, then curling up with it in a comfortable nook somewhere, and losing yourself for a few hours. Of course, you could do that with an e-book and a 'reader' too, but I'm not sure the experience would be as personal, somehow. Hopefully, there is room for both e-books and traditional books in the market.

9. Do you see yourself writing in the same genre in 10 yrs? If not then what?

PN: Who knows if I'll even be here in 10 years? I'm getting pretty ancient! If I am, though, I'll probably still be writing. I can't seem to give it up. I'd like to move into the romatic suspense genre, and perhaps from there into mainstream suspense/mystery genre.

10. What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?

PN: 1. Find a well paying job or someone to support your writing habit first !!! Seriously, despite my own good fortune, getting published is usually a long (often frustrating) process. I was tremendously lucky. That said, if you are committed to becoming published...

2. Don't let anyone talk you out of it! Go for it! Use every moment of your spare time to write, research, and polish your manuscript. If you don't have time, MAKE time. Trust me, if you want it badly enough, you will find the time somehow, even if it's fifteen minutes here, twenty minutes there. Those minutes spent writing add up. Plotting can begin in your head while you're riding a bus, train or the subway, or washing the supper dishes. In a few months, a page a day, or even five pages a week, will become 300 pages. That's a book!

3. Don't talk about your book too much while you're in the writing process. I think sometimes, too much talk can drain the 'juice' out of an idea, and steal some of the writer's enthusiam and excitement, which ideally, should show through in the actual wiring, instead.

4. Set your goals and follow through by making sure that everything you do contributes to reaching them. For example, craft a plot that you would want to read yourself, one that would be suitable for a genre that you know, enjoy, and are very familiar with--then give it that unexpected twist to set it apart from the rest.

5. Study the market and any current/upcoming books from the list published by your chosen publishers.

6. Get yourself a current copy of the Writer's Market Guide to find out if you need an agent, or if you can submit unagented work to your chosen publishers. This point is very important. Knowing whether a publisher will or will not accept unagented submissions will save you precious time.

7. Try to discern trends in the genre, which I've found start to show themselves about one year to eighteen months or so before a certain topic (Scotland, Vikings etc) becomes 'hot'. You, as the writer, have to be eighteen months ahead of those trends!

8. Decide what the editors are looking/not looking for, then craft a plot that meets and exceeds the publisher of that genre's requirements. That way, you won't waste precious time sending a great horse to the wrong stable!

9. If, despite your best efforts, you receive a rejection letter that includes any suggestions from an editor, stop everything, act upon those suggestions and resubmit, ASAP. (Editors rarely waste precious time in offering suggestions unless something tweaked their interest.)

10. I really believe that by setting goals, working towards them and visualizing a positive result you can achieve just about anything. Oh, and good luck!

Interviewed by Sarah on 3/12/04.

Tuesday, January 13

Making it with Discipline

Here's an article I did on motivation, so I thought I'd share it here. I hope you enjoy it!

Making it with Discipline
By Sarah Mäkelä

In the past, I have had a lot of trouble with staying focused and being disciplined when it came to writing. I had thought that writing was something people do when they’re feeling creative and inspired. New York Times Bestsellers probably wrote every day, but they made a living writing. I would write when I thought about it, and I loved writing when I did, but it wasn’t something I would do on a regular basis. I loved my characters and thought about them a lot, and when I did sit down to write, I would think about new ideas that had occurred to me, and start writing out those stories. Needless to say, I now have six partials for novel-length works. Most of those are around twenty thousand words.

I always hear a lot about writer’s block, and my answer is that I don’t believe in writer’s block, so it doesn’t believe in me. Most times when I’m “blocked,” I just need to keep that much more focused on the work and break through it. That doesn’t mean I think there can’t be actual problems going on when a writer is stuck. Always examine where you are stuck and try to figure out why, but then continue on. I know of well-known bestselling authors who write their first draft quickly, and then go back and make sense of the manuscript. Stephen King in his book, On Writing, suggests three months for this process.

Before completing my first manuscript with the help of National Novel Writing Month, I didn’t understand that. Why would I want to hurry through such an important step? With National Novel Writing Month, you have to turn off your internal editor and lock her in the closet. If you don’t, you simply won’t be able to write fifty thousand words in one month.

I think sometimes writers get bogged down with making everything perfect on the first time through, but if the first draft doesn’t get done with the diligence of sitting down to write every day, then you won’t make it to the second draft. Now with my first book coming out April 1st, and my second book ninety-one percent written, I recognize that a person needs to have discipline when writing, or pursuing anything else that they desire in life. Writing is a creative process, but it’s also a business.

If you have the desire to write, then go for it! Don’t let others deter you from your dreams.

(c) 2008 Sarah Mäkelä

Sunday, January 11

Michael J. Lore interview

Hello everyone! Here is the second interview I have to share with everyone. Hope you enjoy!


Michael J. Lore

Thanks for agreeing to interview with me. It's been a great experience.

1. When/how did you know you wanted to write?

MJL: Oddly enough, I never thought of myself as a writer. Despite the fact that I did do a lot of creative writing as a child. For instance, during my middle school years, I would use song titles to create funny short stories. And, during my high school years, I produced endless amounts of rap and song lyrics. At that time, I was dreaming of becoming a rapper. Around the birth of my first child, I began to write poems. But most of these were to amuse my wife. So, I didn’t make the connection of creative writing equals writer. None of my high school English teachers ever mentioned it to me. I don’t recall any of them saying that my writing was anything other than average. But, all of that changed when I reached college. My English professor told me that my stories were very entertaining. He told me that my approach to telling a story was different. And he suggested that I keep all the papers I’d written in his class and considering publishing them one day. Then a little light went off in my head. Because, I’d once had a job selling books. And from that I saw first hand that books could generate money. But, at the time I didn’t consider writing a book. But, now that my professor had validated my writing abilities, I began to think of a way to write a book that I could sale. I believe it’s at that point that I became a writer.

2. How long did it take you to become published?

MJL: Years. Because, I never got positive feedback from any established, traditional publisher. Either nicely or harshly they all told me that they were not interested in taking on a new and unknown author. So of course, I got frustrated and took my mind off writing. Then I noticed what was happening in the rap world. That small unknown artist were shunning big time record companies’ rejections and making there own music. Producing it themselves. So then my mind flashed back to writing. I figured that if they could self-publish, I could self-publish. And I began to look around for a company that would allow me to do that. And that’s when I discovered AuthorHouse. And I decided to give it a try. I believed in my book. So I decided to put my money where my mouth was.

3. How long did it take for you to write your book, Live, Laugh, and Love: The Golden Moments of Life?

MJL: In all truth and honesty it took about a year and a half. Which is way longer than it needed to take. You see, I didn’t have a real direction with the book. I knew that I wanted to write a story about my relationship with my grandfather. And, after the funeral I began to tinker with a plot and a main character. But, many of my first drafts of the characters and story lines were too personal. They were too much like my grandfather’s actual life and the things we really did. And that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to capture his spirit. I didn’t want to write a biography. So I kept playing with the plots and thinking and thinking. Add to that the fact that I was only writing in the evenings. After everybody else had used the computer I would go on it and write. So I wasn’t spending a lot of time writing the story. But, that wasn’t a big problem because I still didn’t have a plot that I liked. Finally after about a year and change I thought of a plot that I liked. Which, once again was totally different from what I’d written. So I discarded all that I’d wrote and started over. From that point, it was about another four to six months for me to complete the manuscript which was somewhere around 90,000 words.

4. Who are some of your favorite authors?

MJL: I’m really not an avid reader. When I was young I did read a lot. But the older I got the further I got from reading. So I don’t really have a favorite author. You see, I’ll go to read a book. Get distracted. And never get around to finishing it. However, I do admire and strive to be like those few authors who’ve created a story that they’ve been able to successfully build into a multi-entertainment empire. Like Gene Roddenbury did with Star Trek, and like George Lucas did with Star Wars, and like Tyler Perry is doing with Madea.

5. What do you do in preparing to write a story?

MJL: Research. I want the reader to believe that the story is real. Even though it’s fiction. I want the story line to be so real and imaginable that the reader forgets it fiction. For example, if I’m writing about a Miami street party that happened in 2003. I’ll go back and look for reports of an actual Miami street party that took place in 2003. Then, I’ll bring elements of that event into the story. In that way, some readers will read the story and say hey, I remember this party. That person really did perform at that party. And then they’ll sit back and ask themselves, is this story real? I thought this book was fiction, is it really real? And that’s what I want my readers to do. I want them to be fully entertained. And by offering them a blend of reality and fiction, I can accomplish that. So the big thing for me is research. I want my story to seem so real that my readers begin to believe that it is.

6. Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?

MJL: So far, all of my story ideas have come from my personal views of the world. For instance, I’ll be talking and joking with my friends and family about something. And they may be saying that’s so true or that’s funny or they’ll hit me with the old your crazy comment. At which point, I’ll think to myself that the rest of the world might enjoy hearing about my view on this matter as well. Then I’ll write a synopsis of what the story would be about. At that point, I’d show it to them and see if it generates the type of response that I want. If it does, I’ll set it aside to be created when I get a chance.

As for basing the characters on people I know, the answer to that is yes and no. My characters are based on blends of human personalities. Sprinkled with flash viewpoints and reactions of some people I know. But, with characters you have to remember that we’re all humans. And as such, the personality types we have as individuals are not exclusive to us. For example, I’m not the only person who dislikes raw garlic and believes that exercise is torture. And so, I could generate a character who like myself hates raw garlic. And doesn’t care for running marathons. Yet still wants to have a lean and sculptured body. A character who like the rest of us is filled with self conflicts and certain insecurities. A character who is human. Just as human as the rest of us. Somebody the reader and the world can relate to.

As for the events, most of them are real life events. Either based on my own life or somebody else’s. For example, my grandfather was seriously wounded in World War II. But he wasn’t shot eight times on Hagushi Beach. Likewise, a co-worker’s girlfriend did show up at the job and destroy some things. But, nobody was savagely beaten and hospitalized. None the less, the reader can still relate to it. Because you see it on the news daily. Everyday somebody goes to work and hurts somebody. So it’s very believable. In fact, there’s a chapter where a drug addict tries to escape the police by jumping from one roof to another. And, low and behold about a month ago, there was a police pursuit where the suspect, who was believed to be high on illegal drugs, tried to escape by jumping from one roof to another. And, I’ll bet you that if you let enough time pass it will happen again. These things keep the story feeling and seeming real. Sort of like magic is. You know it’s not real, but it seems so real when the magician makes the building disappear that you go off wondering if such a thing could really be done. You begin to believe that it’s real. At that point, you’ve been entertained. And you’re pleased with the magician’s performance. And the magician feels as if he or she has accomplished something.

7. What is your favorite part of writing?

MJL: Creating the story. I love the initial creation process. Because, initially I’m in total control. What I decide goes. The characters will behave and perform as I tell them to. Things will happen when and how I want them to. It’s me, the pen, and the paper and nobody else. Now I’m aware of the fact that I can go off the deep end in some of my stories. So, I’ll write a part and then show it to my wife or my family or my friends and see how they like it. See if it sounds possible and how does it make them feel. What’s their reaction to it. I love that part of the writing process.

8. Do you have a specific schedule in which you write?

MJL: Yes. When I’m writing a story I tend to work on it Monday through Friday from about 10:00pm until about 1:00am or 2:00am. Or until my sentences stop making sense. And on Saturdays I’ll try to write from about 8:00am to about 2:00pm, take a break and come back to it in the afternoon. On Sunday, I try to take a break and resist touching the computer, with all of my might. It’s very easy to become obsessed with writing to complete the story. And my wife will point that out to me. If she sees me spending too much time with the story she’ll let me know, and then I’ll try to back off of it a little. But, there are those moments when the story is just flowing and before you know it it’s 4 o’clock in the morning.

9. Do you have any projects you are currently working on?

MJL: Yes. Currently, I want to make the book available as an audio book. And, I’m researching how to get that done. It’s new territory for me, and a chance to learn about something new. As well as expand the book’s audience. I also have several other stories that I’d like to write and I have to figure out which one to go with.

10. What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?

MJL: If you’re waiting for somebody to validate your abilities as a writer then you’re setting yourself up to be frustrated. If you feel that you have a good story, go ahead and write it. Once you’ve finished it look for a publisher. Treat it like a job application. The more applications you fill out the sooner you’ll get a job. And likewise, the more publishers you submit the book to, the sooner you will get published. But, if you feel yourself getting frustrated and can’t seem to find anybody to publish your book. Then don’t be afraid to publish it yourself. You’ve got two choices; keep showing it to publishers and praying for them to like it or publish it yourself. A lot of people don’t want to have to be bothered with promoting the book themselves. So they seek a traditional publisher who they believe will do everything for them. But that’s not the case. Either way you go, traditional publishing or self-publishing, your going to have to promote your book. If you want your book to sale, you are going to have to get out there and tell people about it. Now if the book is good, it will be easier to do that. Likewise, if you have a good publicist and marketing team, it’ll be even easier to do. But one way or the other, the success of the book is going to depend heavily on your willingness to talk with people and tell them about your book. Now if you’re really fortunate, you’ll come across somebody who can talk about the book for you. And, then all you’ll have to do is sign autographs and shake hands. But at the end of the day, I believe, it comes down to getting the word out there. Now, there are some cases of people who’ve self-published and generated so much buzz about their book that a traditional publisher steps forward and wants to republish the book. They still have to keep talking about the book. Because, the publisher wants to turn profit. But it becomes easier and more productive when they do talk. Because, the traditional publisher will have relationships established with certain media outlets that will give your talks more expose. But it still comes down to you. So I say keep writing and letting the world know about your writing. Because, there’s bound to be somebody out there who likes your style of writing and story telling.

Interviewed by Sarah on 5/29/05.

Thursday, January 8

Interview with Mary Balogh

Hi everyone! Here is an interview I had with Mary Balogh a while ago, and I thought I'd post it here to share with all of you.

Mary Balogh

Thanks for interviewing with me!

1. When/how did you know you wanted to write?

MB: I always wanted to write. When people asked me as a child what I wanted to do when I grew up and other girls around me were saying they wanted to be nurses or teachers or secretaries, I always said I wanted to be an author. I used to write long stories that sometimes filled whole notebooks. I even won a few competitions. I remember once at the age of ten winning a shoebox-sized pack of chocolate bars--a wonderful prize in those post-war days in Britain when any sort of candy was scarce.

2. How long did it take you to become published?

MB: I discovered when I grew up that I had to eat--alas! And so I became a high school English teacher and principal. I married and had three children. I was in my thirties when I was finally at leisure to write. I did it as a sort of hobby at the kitchen table after everything else had been dealt with by mid-evening. I wrote my first Regency between October and December of 1983. It was accepted for publication in April, 1984, and was published in April, 1985--A MASKED DECEPTION.

3. Who are some of your favorite authors?

MB: Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Anne Perry, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, John Grisham, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Bernard Cornwell, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Ross...

4. Who do you count as your literary influences?

MB: It is very hard to say. I have always read voraciously--anything and everything I could get my hands on. I had read most of the great classics by the time I reached the end of my teens. Everything I have ever read, combined with my own boundless imagination, has probably had some effect on my own writing.

5. How long does it usually take for you to research a book?

MB: Most of my 60+ books are set in the English Regency period. So although I still read anything new I can find about the period and am well aware that I don't by any means know everything, really the amount of research I now do on individual books is minimal or nothing at all. When I do venture outside my period--to write about Wales in the 1830s, for example (in LONGING and TRULY)--I take a few months to read what I need to know. Research is very important. I hate sloppily researched books.

6. Many authors are doing strictly e-books, do you think this is just a trend, or does it spell the end of real books?

MB: At the moment at least I think there are too many people who like a physical book to hold in their hands for there to be any real danger that e-books will take over entirely. I don't know what the future brings. E-books are enormously convenient and can help solve the horror of the way we are destroying our trees and therefore our planet.If the technology of their presentation can make them look and feel--and even smell!--like a printed book, I would be all in favor.

7. How long does it take for you to write books?

MB: Usually two to three months. I have written one in two weeks (A PRECIOUS JEWEL). The current book is taking me four months. But on the whole I like to write fast. It is the surest way of keeping the emotional intensity of the romance at a high peak.

8. Is there any character in your books that you can really relate to?

MB: Almost all of them. I would be alarmed if I couldn't relate. I think an essential part of a writer's gift is the ability to put herself into the shoes and mind and soul of almost any living person--to know exactly what it is like to be that sort of person in that sort of life situation. I don't think I could create a character--particularly a hero or heroine--if I couldn't convince myself as I am writing that I actually AM that person. I write from deep within my characters and see the whole story through their eyes and emotions.

9. Do you see yourself writing in the same genre in 10 years? If not then what?

MB: I don't know. I love writing what I am writing. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to come up with something new each time. I can't picture myself stopping writing altogether. I do have a scheme afoot for a series of books with my younger daughter. They would not be romances exactly, but they would be a cumulative love story. Sorry--I can't give any more detail at the moment. But stay tuned...

10. What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?

MB: The best advice I can give is to ignore all advice and write your book. If you have the talent and the imagination and the will, you don't need anything else except a computer or--failing that--a blank pad of paper and a pen and an old banger of a typewriter (the way I started!)

Interviewed by Sarah on 4/11/04.

Tuesday, January 6

My Goals for 2009

Well, I figure I'm covering a topic that's really popular this time of year, but I haven't really discussed mine yet. One thing I'll mention before jumping into it, is that goals are important. People who set goals (and write them down) are more likely succeed than people who don't.

I wish I could find the list of my 2008 goals, but I know that I accomplished some special landmark events. Earning my Bachelors of English with an emphasis in Creative Writing, having my debut ebook, Melody of Love, be accepted and released, teaming up with three wonderful women to form The Deadly Vixens, I completed two full-length novels, as well as other things I probably forgot to mention.

So, for this year, I'm aiming even higher.
  1. Get my novella accepted by a publisher.
  2. Finish three books (two of which I've started).
  3. Get an agent.
  4. Get more involved in the writing community and network.
  5. Read more.
  6. Be more consistent with my blog and
  7. Build more of a web presence.

I'm very excited about the year ahead, and I hope to share it with all of you.

Sunday, January 4

Hello again...

Happy New Year everyone! Recently I've decided that I'm going to start blogging again on my own blog. Not sure how interesting it'll be, but I'll try to make sure to entertain and not do so many "Here's an event I'm doing, go check it out" kinds of things. Perhaps I'll share pictures and other fun things as well. =)

So, what's been going on with me recently... I submitted to an agent (I'll keep you informed on how that goes!), I won Nanowrimo, and I completed my third novel, which happens to be the first in an urban fantasy series. I've gotten 60 pages of it edited so far. I'm now working on the next in the series, but am running into a little bit of confusion with my plot. Now I need to go through and outline it so that I can get on course.

I also bought an awesome whiteboard yesterday. It even has a small tray at the bottom to hold my markers and eraser. I'm excited about using it.

Also, for everyone on the newsletter, I hope to start back with that, too. Things have been a bit hectic in my personal life, so I'm happy for a new year. Who knows what you'll find there? *winks* I'm thinking over a few ideas for making it more exciting. I plan to have something in the works on it by the 15th.

Anyways, that's enough jabbering for me tonight. I need to get some writing done! Hurray!
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