Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ideas in the Simmering Pot

Egads, do you ever have a moment where you have a bundle of emotions and ideas swishing through your brain and trying desperately to reach the surface but to no avail?

Today is one of those days. I have things I want to say, points to make, important pieces of advice to share but my head, heart and typing fingers refuse to work in tandem. I suppose that means I have to let the ideas simmer a little longer, perhaps let them age a little and see what fine vintage they become with some time.

That is how the writing process can be for me, whether its a blog post, short story, outline or revisions. The ideas need more than a single moment to be developed. They need to be put into a big, simmering pot where the ideas can sit and I can turn them over in my mind, mixing and figuring out what they want to become. Sometimes this process takes a few days, sometimes a few weeks. I had one story simmer for nearly two years before I did anything with it.

With all these ideas I have you'd think I could pick one and start, but today just isn't that day.

What I'd love to know is do you have a process for your ideas or do you dive right in?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to all who participated in both giveaways and I hope you continue to put your names in on the comments as I try to do giveaways regularly. My way of say "thanks for following me."

Now, on to the good stuff. :)

The winner of CJ Goslings YA Fantasy The Guardian is . . .


And the winner of Kim Lennox's PNR Night Falls Darkly is . . .

Ju Dimello

Congratulations to you both. :-) My email is and you can contact me to have your prize shipped your way asap.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review + Giveaway of Night Falls Darkly by Kim Lennox

Death is inevitable.
But there are some souls, more wicked and disobedient than most, who defy Death’s claim.
Rebellious souls who must be called to heel.

ARCHER, Lord Black, returns to England at the behest of Queen Victoria to immerse himself in the dark, hellish streets of London’s East End. Among the immortal Shadow Guard, he is the most prolific and cunning of the Reclaimers. He revels in the hunt of his current prey: an ill-mannered, reluctant soul reviled in the daily newspapers as Jack the Ripper. Archer has only one weakness … one distraction … the young woman he spared from death two years before.

ELENA WHITNEY has never wanted for anything — not since coming under the protection of her mysterious and absent guardian, Lord Black, who has gifted her with everything a young woman of quality could ever hope for, including an enviable address, an unlimited income and entrĂ©e into the drawing rooms of high society. But now, after nearly two years of indifference, he believes he can sweep into her life and rid himself of her by marrying her off. If he knew anything about her — anything at all — he’d know she had greater aspirations than that.

This is a Paranormal Romance (PNR) that I won through Bookends Literacy Agency’s 12 days of Christmas Contest. This is the first time I’ve read anything of Kim Lennox’s work, though not my first foray into PNR. As such, being a romance there are certain elements that must be in play and leave little room for suspense and true concern for the characters. No matter what, you know Elena and Archer will end up together, survive the bad guy and come out on top. That is the definition of a romance.
BUT, the true test of a writer comes when you can read a formulaic book and still enjoy it. That is what Lennox has done with Night Falls Darkly. The twist at the end, although I suspected it from the beginning was satisfying and I was happy to see that it didn’t all end well. (I’ll say no more as that would spoil things!) This was a great book for a quick read and as it is the first in a series, I think the characters and premise is strong enough to carry through the rest of the books.

Overall, I would give this a 4 star and recommend it to all romance readers, and most readers who love urban fantasy or paranormal period books would really enjoy this.

If you’d like to win my very slightly used copy of Night Falls Darkly, tell me the most memorable romance book/scene in a book you’ve ever read. Remember, memorable doesn’t have to mean your favourite! I'll take comments until Wednesday February 23rd before drawing a winner.

For an extra entry, as always, follow my blog and I’ll throw your name into the bucket twice. Good luck and happy commenting.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Interview and Giveaway with . . .CJ Gosling

Debut novelist CJ Gosling has written a YA Fantasy that blends the Chronicles of Narnia (IMHO), modern teenage angst and a splash of Harry Potter. Below is an interview with CJ and a chance to win a copy of her book The Guardian.

CJ, why did you decide to start writing?

There was no why in the beginning. I've always been a storyteller, it's just who I am. When I was a kid, I would invite friends over for sleepovers and then tell them ghost stories to keep us up all night. In the daytime I would write my stories down.

It was my husband however, who encouraged me to take my work seriously. I guess you could say I started writing professionally about three years ago.

Who is your favourite character in your book? Why?

Ahhh! You can't ask me that. I love them all. My favorite character changes with my mood and the time of day. Right now I guess my favorite character is Tavin's grandmother. I love the sharpness of her tongue and the deep unquestionable love she has for her family.

You went with a small publishing house, Brighter Books, as opposed to going a more traditional route, why did you chose to do this?

For several reasons. I guess I was eager to begin to build my career as an author. I was also impressed by my publisher's genuine love for my book. She has given my manuscript more TLC than I believe a bigger publishing house ever would.

What are some of the upsides of going with a small publishing house?

The publisher is accessible and willing to work with authors on their manuscripts. There were no changes to my book that I didn't like. I even got to pick the artist that designed the cover and the chapter headings inside.

Are there any downsides that you care to share with us when going through a small publishing house?

The lack of resources in a small publishing house means I spend a lot more time marketing and promoting my book than I'd like. It is a daily challenge to balance the promotional needs of my book with the need for time to work on my next manuscript.

You are a multi talented lady, painting, singing and song writing as well as published author. Do you have a preference for any of these?

I've learned that creativity goes in cycles. Sometimes all I want to do is paint, other times I can't stay away from my guitar. I've learned to let these things happen and not to force it when it doesn't. At this stage in my life however, being an author is my foremost passion, I see art and music as an extension of my love for storytelling.

What can we expect next from you as a writer?

I am working on a series of four YA adventure fantasy books. The first one was just released. The next three should be coming at a rate of about one a year.

What advice would you have liked as an aspiring writer that you can now pass on to others?

You need friends. I would have never have made it without other writers, authors, industry people and of course, my husband. You need to attend literary events, conferences and join a writer's group. Without writing friends, my writing would have never improved, and I would have never connected with my publisher.

Thank you CJ for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share a little with us about yourself and your book! Below is more about CJ's debut novel and how to win a copy!

After the fire that killed Tavin’s mother, his grief-stricken father disappeared, abandoning him and his sister Moreanna. Tavin and Moreanna share a secret psychic connection. Sometimes, her presence is the only thing that keeps Tavin sane. When a mysterious sickness threatens Moreanna’s life, Tavin's connection to his sister begins to fade. With the discovery of a magical universe through a hidden door in his grandfather`s attic, Tavin desperately hopes a cure may be within his grasp.

“No trespassing” becomes an easy rule to break.

Shadowlands: The Guardian blends mages and magic into a traditional German backdrop for a book about overcoming prejudice at the cost of personal sacrifice. Shadowlands: The Guardian is an entertaining read for teens and adults alike.

If you'd like to win a copy of The Guardian, make a comment about your favorite YA fantasy. For an extra entry, follow my blog :) The random winner will be drawn on Saturday, February 19th and you can make an entry up till 12:00pm PST. Open to Canada and the USA only.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Blog & Life Update

Sometimes a blog post is necessary for this sort of deal. I have a lot of little things to share, information, upcoming events and blog posts and there isn't much to do but put it all in one ginormous information laden post.

Kidding. :)

First off, my young reviewer and I have yet to connect on his latest reads so it may be a bit before we get this idea launched properly. But no fear, it will happen!

Some upcoming posts, there will be an interview and give-away with CJ Gosling about her YA Fantasy The Guardian, another post with Elizabeth Engstrom on When to say goodbye to your Agent and a list of the ins and outs of publishing and all the people you never knew existed (like literary Scouts) to name a few.

There will be a contest coming up when my followers on my blog hits 150. This will be a big splash of a contest with lots of goodies! Details are still in the works but I think it's going to be a real fun one. :)

Finally, my own writing journey has gotten under way. Though I don't yet have a contract with publishing house yet, it is getting closer as my agent continues to submit the ms. Along these lines, I will be taking some editing courses in March in the hopes that I will make less mistakes in my own work.

This also means that I will be looking to dip my toes into the free lance editing world. So to pick those lucky few, I have a contest for free edits in order to get feedback before I start on this as a potential side career.

Sounds good? Would love to hear what you all think about this. Thanks for your support in this crazy journey of mine.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

When it's Time to part Ways with your Agent

First off I'd like to welcome Jeremy McNabb to my blog and thank him for taking the time to answer a few candid questions about dealing with an agent that may not be the right fit for you and your career. The decision to end a business relationship is always difficult and I hope that by having Jeremy here his story can help other writers that come to this point in their careers.

Jeremy, looking back, what were some of the signs that perhaps your relationship with your first agent wasn’t going to work out?

My first agent was a high-profile name, responsible for discovering some of the biggest authors in what was, at that time, my intended market. I was fortunate enough to have made several friends that were, or would shortly become, best-selling authors. One multi-published friend referred me to him with a recommendation and the agent took me on without hesitation. But after our initial contact, it was three to six months before he responded to me again. I was new to the business and still leaping for joy at my luck, but somehow, it still didn't seem right. I e-mailed my friends and found that both of them had found new representation, and they suggested I do the same.

How long did were you with your first agent before you let him/her go?

It was probably about a year, but it was a one-way conversation for the last six months of that year. I had e-mailed him several times, each was met with no response. Finally, I sent a very (hopefully) courteous e-mail that said that if I didn't hear back from him within the month, I would take that as a suggestion to seek representation elsewhere.

What did you learn from that first experience with an agent and were you able to take what you learned and apply it to the next agent relationship you had?

I had no official contract with my first agent. It was just a verbal agreement. That was my first lesson. The next lesson was to speak up for myself. My time was as valuable to me then as it is to me now, but I spent a whole year in limbo, afraid that complaining would jinx my luck.

It seems to me that communication is # 1 when working with an agent, do you agree and if so, what is your best suggestion for dealing with a difficult topic?

I do agree. When you communicate, I try to use a reasonable amount of humility and grace. I can almost guarantee that I will make more mistakes with my career than my agent will, so it seems only fair that I give them at least as much room to be wrong as I give myself.

A lot of people think that agents are not worth the trouble, do you think that is true? Would you ever submit a project or work with a publisher without an agent?

My second agent opened more doors for me than I could have opened on my own. When a publishing house passed on my first proposal, he convinced them to look at a second proposal—for a novel I hadn’t even finished. I couldn’t have gotten a second chance like that on my own, I don’t think. Can it be done without an agent? I’ve been told that it can, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

How do you think, we as writers can better improve our working relationships with agents?

Again, I think it goes back to what I said before. We need to learn to take professional criticism with grace, and we need to stay humble in the face of success. It probably doesn’t hurt to follow half a dozen on them on Twitter, to learn some of the mutually shared peeves. I would hate to work with an agent for two or three years, only to find that some little quirk of mine made me an unpleasant client.

Last, but not least, what is your best piece of advice for up and coming authors as they step into the agent/author contract world?

Learn how to write a query letter for an individual agent. That means paying attention to what each agent wants from you and sending exactly that. Those of us who have been writing and submitting for a while know what it’s like to receive a rejection in the shape of a form letter. For agents, I suspect that it’s a little bit like the reverse of that. They might receive ten, fifty, or a hundred impersonal form-like queries at a time. I imagine that “To whom it may concern…” gets depressing after a while. When they’re sending out fifty or a hundred rejections a week, “Dear Sir/Madam,” is probably all they can manage and still stay sane, but for a writer, it doesn’t take nearly the same effort to just get the agent’s name correct.

Jeremy can be found on his blog, and below is a teaser of his current work! Definitely worth checking out.

Long Tail City is a steampunk tale that centers around the first-person narratives of Cage Donnagan, a blacksmith, wolf, and do-gooder. His adventures with Constance the gremlin, and their flying friend Emma, get them into all sorts of trouble with the Guild of Angels, winged would-be aristocrats.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Agents, Editors and Publishing Oh my!

This is a quick post with a link to an interview and not just any old interview, but one with me! My very first of hopefully many, I was asked a bunch of questions about my agent, my journey in my writing and a little about my writing too.

The interview was by CJ Gosling, a good friend and writer who's debut YA Fantasy, The Guardian is launching this week.

So click on the link, I think it was pretty cool to be interviewed and I hope you like it. :)