Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Writer's Need Cats. . .Or is it Dogs?

The eternal question : Do cats rule and dogs drool or is it the other way around? When it comes to writers, it seems the question is even more pertinent. Within my own writing group there was a three day eamil debate over whether or not having a cat was necessary to not only being a writer, but in particular, a good one. The question never was answered so I'm going to pose it here.

The qualities of a cat lend themselves to us habitually loner types. Cats are more independent, less needy, self entertaining and yet they still are a form of company that is less intrusive than a person asking what’s for dinner every freaking night.

Dogs tend to be just a tad bit needier, they have to be fed on schedule, walked on schedule and they can almost be as demanding as a two year old child in their wants. This can be counter-productive to keeping on your writing schedule or just plain breaking up a great flow you’ve got going on.

I have some of each, my indoor cat Falene is my writing buddy, my little grey and white tuxedo. She sits on my lap while I type and settles in quite happily for the duration, no matter how long it is (In fact, she's sitting on my lap as I type this.) Our two boxer’s are another matter altogether. While they aren’t particularly demanding, I feel bad if I don’t spend time with them or take them out for multiple walks when I’m home and I squirm under their sad eyed scrutiny if I’ve sat for too long. That is the factor that gets me every time. The guilt factor. As a writer I can immerses myself in my stories for hours on end and the cat doesn’t care. The dogs not so much, they want attention, need it and demand it. And I give it to them because I’m a conscientious dog owner.

In all honesty, no matter how I try to deny it, I do prefer cats (though I would never give up the boxer girls for anything). I like the air of mystery about them, something that even a house cat never truly loses.

Which is it for you? Do you prefer a cat, dog, or some other critter that soothes the lonely hours of writing yet doesn’t disturb your creativity?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You are a Winner!

The winner for the Zoe Archer book interview and giveaway is . . . .

Evie! I will contact Zoe with your email address and she will send your book to you directly.

And if you're sad that you missed out on winning, I only need a few more people to follow my blog before I do a major contest. We're talking books, goodies, writing paraphernalia, a million dollars. Okay, maybe that last one is a little bit much, but how about gift certificates? Yeah, that is more up my ally. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

American Idol for Writers

I've been thinking that if there was the equivalent for American Idol amongst and for authors I would enter in a heartbeat. Then I really considered what sort of things I might have to do to prove I could be an author. Instead of challenges, I think the things you would have to do to in order to move forward in the competition would be called Tasks. And they would suck.

Task 1- Write up a complete outline for a full length novel and shoot a book trailer for it. You have 1 hour.

Task 2- Take that outline, take out the main plot and insert a new plot using the same characters. Re-Shoot the book trailer.

Task 3- Pitch the best of the two stories to your top five favorite agents. You have less than 5 minutes with each agent to sell your book. Try not to sweat too much either, agents don't like that.

Task 4-One of the agents has asked to see your mansucript, the full manuscript. You have 1 week to complete the novel and 1 day to edit it.

And so on and so forth. At first glance a competition for writers would be great, but I don't think after some serious thought that I'm up to the Task. ;p

If you had to add a Task to the list to make for a tough competition, what would it be?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with . . . Zoe Archer #2

Welcome back to Zoe as she puts out another fabulous book, COLLISION COURSE, a sci-fi romance.

1. You've written both paranormal and sci-fi romance, do you have a preference for one or the other? Any reason why?

I really do love them both. With my paranormal historicals, I get to infuse the past with magic, and with sci-fi, I get to live out all the science fiction fantasies I've had since I was a kid (though with a decidedly adult twist).

2. What made you want to start writing romance?

Romance writers are all first romance readers. I began reading romance in high school, and fell hard for the combination of historical settings with emotionally charged stories, complete with happily ever after endings. It didn't take long for me to try my hand at writing romance, though those early efforts are fortunately lost to time. Even after I received an MFA in Fiction, I continued to write romance. I love the stories, the setting, and the achieved promises of happiness. There isn't much in life that can fulfill that promise, so I try to provide it where I can.

3. You're female characters are strong, smart and independent, the kind of woman I think most of us want to be like. How important is it that your heroines are the kind of woman that your readers can look up to?

Extremely important. There's a definite amount of wish fulfillment in my writing, and I try to embody qualities I respect in my heroines. Especially in adventure narrative, I despise depictions of weak, helpless women. Spare me the shriekers and fainters. Popular culture has had some wonderful depictions of strong women, but they're far too rare, in my opinion. And in romance, we get so invested in the heroes, but the heroines are equally important. They aren't just ciphers. They need to be as actualized and developed as the heroes. And if even one reader feels empowered by reading my books, I feel I've done a good job.

4. Have you got another type of romance that you would like to dabble in besides the sci-fi and paranormal?

I will be writing a series of steampunk romance novellas for Avon Impulse, the digital imprint of Avon, so I have to say I'm pretty fulfilled in my choice of subgenres! But I'm always looking around for new worlds, new ideas. There's always more to write!

5. Do you have plans to step outside of the romance genre?

I've already been published in literary fiction. Writing under my real name, Ami Silber, my novel EARLY BRIGHT came out in 2008 and will be re-issued by Amazon Encore very soon. That novel is set in 1948 Los Angeles. I also have written several chapters of a historical fiction novel, which is set in the Eighteenth Century, yet finding time to work on it is very, very difficult. Some day, I hope to get back to it, but the romance is keeping me extremely busy--which isn't a complaint, by the way.

6. I haven't had the opportunity to read Collision Course, your newest release yet (I'm very excited as I loved your Blades of the Rose series!) do you have plans to turn this sci-fi romance into a series as well?

Absolutely! The next book in the series, CHAIN REACTION, will be released by Carina on November 28.

7. More into the craft of writing, how long do you spend each day actually writing? Is it a time amount that you give yourself or is it a word count?

I write all day, every day. Fortunately, I am able to write full time, so I can dedicate my entire day to it. I try to maintain a minimum word count of 2000 words per day, but now that I have so many books lined up (my new paranormal historical HELLRAISERS series for Zebra, which launches in December, the sci-fi romance, and the steampunk romance), I'll have to bump that up considerably. There will be much consuming of caffeine.

8. I see a lot of people struggle with the completion of a novel, the beginning seems to be the easy part. Any suggestions for young writers on completing a novel?

The only way to finish a novel is to sit down and write it. Surfing the internet or watching Netflix will not get your novel completed. Make a hard schedule and stick to it. It's far too easy to let things get in your way, which is why most people never finish their books. So, if this is something you truly want, make it happen for yourself.

Thank you Zoe for taking the time out of your busy schedule to have a chat with me, it is always a pleasure and I wish you the best of luck in your conituned writing success.

If you'd like a chance to win one of Zoe's books, it's as simple as leaving a comment about this post. Open to residents of Canada and the USA only.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Reviewer's Hell- Or What to do when the Book sucks

This is not a pleasant place to be. I have a book to review, I was approached by the author and I agreed as it is within my genre and the premise sounded promising. And then I started to read it. I found myself gripping the book to stop my hands from pulling the pages out. The characters are completely clich├Ęd, the action ridiculous without any lead in and deus ex machina was thrown about like rice at a wedding. This is only about 4 pages in- and the book is huge!

Never mind my urge to help edit the thing (which should have been done long before print) and make it a better book. Already there is chicken scratch in the margins and post-it notes marking problems.

I scratched my head over this and tossed and turned all night. It's great to review a book that is wonderful, or at least has some high points. Perfect PR for authors that are busy marketing themselves and their work. But when a book is this bad, a review, at least an honest one, is going to hurt the book, not help it.

The only thing I can think of to do is slog my way through the book (I'm going to need a freaking excavator if it continues on this way) and when I'm done, write the review and offer it to the author first, allowing them to make the decision of whether or not I post it.

What do you think? Is that the way to go or do I just post the review regardless?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

That's me, I'm a Fire Bug

“Lighting a fire under your ass,” is a term given to show motivation and passion. “She/he is on fire!” says that you’re a person who is moving forward, totally motivated, “That’s hot,” is said to display our approval/desire for someone or something.

Fire is the source of life for cultures around the world, if you’re a "Survivor" aficionado, fire represents your life in the game. Some of the symbolism behind fire is passion, energy, motivation, growth, fresh starts, cleansing and on the flip side, destruction, death, pain and wildness.

What has this all got to do with my post today? Have you ever started a fire while camping or maybe in your woodstove? It can prove difficult if the wood isn’t dry, you don’t have a match or kindling, the wind is blowing too hard. But if you have all the pieces, paper, kindling, wood, matches and no wind or rain, it’s a great deal easier. Better than that, once the fire is going, it’s really easy to KEEP going. Do you see where I’m headed with this folks?

Writing can be hard, one of the most difficult things out there when you think about it. Here’s the analogy. The paper to start a fire is the paper under your fingertips. It won’t do anything until you apply something to it. The kindling is your ideas and your outline. The larger chunks of wood are the hours you put into your writing be it research, outlining, writing or studying the craft. And the match is you, your motivation, your drive and commitment to what you want to accomplish. Don't worry about the wind (naysayers) and rain (rejections) don't let them put your fire out. They're just part of the process, something we all need to go through to have a bigger and better fire (book).

Once the writing fire’s going, despite how hard it might seem, it’s actually a heck of a lot easier to keep going, just like a real fire. You’ve developed your routine, you’re beginning to write every day and now it’s only a matter of keeping at it. So keep at it and most importantly, don’t let your fire go out.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Call me Mayer, Stephanie Mayer

I want to start this post by saying it is not a bash of anyone, their writing or their choices. I know this author and I think highly of them.

We're going to call said author Bob Smith, if he chooses to comment that would be great and I will gladly give him a shout out. Bob is a great writer and has chosen to e-publish like so many writers have with the advent of that technology. The problem was, like so many going it on their own, Bob was struggling with selling his books.

Bob re-vamped his covers, re-named the books and gave himself a pseudonym. This is where my curiosity perked up. Sales improved drastically and Bob is very happy. Why would my curiosity perk up you may ask? Because Bob chose his pseudonym to be the equivalent of Stevie King. Meaning the name he chose was almost identical to that of a best selling author. Now, I wondered, was this a type of infringement on the national bestselling authors rights to their own name? If not, it's a very smart marketing move on Bob's part. I believe he writes in the same genre as the author who's name his pseudonym is so close to, and I think people would see it and think that they're related, most likely twins.

Please remember (you especially Bob if you're reading this) this is not meant as a critique. More only an observation that I found very interesting and really wanted to share with others. I mean hey, if this is a plausible way to drum up business, call me Stephanie Mayer ;P

What are you're thoughts on this? Was Bob making a smart move or do you think he might have given himself more trouble down in the long run?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Blurb for CURSED

Okay guys, here's the blurb for my next book. Would love to hear your comments and thoughts, it's only a second draft so there is lots to be improved on I'm sure :D

Descendant of the goddess Bast, Bronwyn seemingly has it all, beauty, speed, stamina, healing abilities and the talent of shape shifting into a variety of felines. That is, if you discount the Curse an ancestor’s folly brought on the family line. Because of the Curse, Bronwyn is a veritable Black Widow, one night with her and her lover dies a horrible death. Desperate to find a way to break the ancient Curse, she’s willing to do what no one else in the family has been. She’s going to employ a demon.

Maksym, sleek, deadly and full of charisma is that demon, but he isn’t interested in breaking the Curse for Bronwyn, not if it means she’ll be in another man’s arms. In a wicked game of cat and mouse with enemies on all sides, Maksym’s and Bronwyn’s growing attraction to each other could spell not only the death of Maksym, but the destruction of all that Bronwyn holds dear.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Blog Posts worth Linking to.

Today is a day of links to some pretty cool blogs. Hence the chain link picture (it was the best I could do!)Informative? Yep. Funny? Oh heck yeah!

How to deal with bad reviews is explained so succinctly by Nathan Bransford. And he's kept to my rules about blogging short and sweet.

Ever had the desire to throw a book to a neighbours pit bull the writing was so bad? Wonder how in the world it got published in the first place? You better check out the Novel Doctor, it's a post that explains the situation perfectly.

In need of laughing till you cry? Stay away from Linus is one man's adventures into the doctor's office for a turn your head and cough kind of story. A little longer than I recommend for a posting but worth the time IMHO.

Inside the world of Literary Scouts. Don't know what a literary scout is? Don't worry, I didn't either until I read this fascinating post on the ins and outs of the job and what it means for authors.

Last but not least, here's Show me the Money a post breaking down the money made within publishing houses in regards to two genres and if that isn't quite what your looking for, try Kate Hart's post about YA genre's that are being bought and those that dominate the six figure market.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Balancing Urban Fantasy and Beliefs

Two posts in one day? I know, it's hard to believe you get a double dose of moi. But since I'm trying to keep up with my own 30 day challenge and I missed one yesterday (the second day no less!) I'm doubling up today.

I wanted to see how other writers dealt with sensitivity when it comes to religion within their writing. When I wrote a blog about Urban Fantasy and using other backdrops rather than vampires an interesting comment came up. I would like to paste the comment made by Rosehips because I think it brings up an interesting point and a good topic for discussion.

On the suggestion you made to mine Indian "mythology"--here's the thing. Many Hindus have worshipped the deities and believed in the demons, etc., of this cosmology for thousands of years (which I realize you alluded to in your post). My concern is that by using it in fiction, I may disrespect the faith of those people. Did you ever watch Xena? She eventually starts traveling the world, and there's a series of episodes in India. And as I recall, a lot of Hindus objected to the episodes.

So the question would be, regardless of the religion or myth, how do we as writers give religions the reverence that the followers would expect and still use the ideas in our stories?

I know that for myself I have tried to use a blend of many cultures, myths, religions and my own smattering of ideas when it comes to belief in the otherworldly to make sure that I don't pick on any one theology. That said, I think that I still have the potential to offend by doing that very thing, by blending beliefs.

I am very curious to hear your thoughts on this as I at least want to show respect for other cultures and religions yet still be able to tap into the uniqueness that each culture brings and blend that with my stories.

Rock Bottom and the Growth it brings

Hitting rock bottom sucks. Whether it’s with your job, your marriage, your family, or your writing. Rock bottom in writing can be the rejection letter that is one too many. It can be the editor who doesn’t connect with your work and tells you to quit writing. Or it can be something as simple yet as destructive as writer block.

All of these things have happened to me, made me question my skill, desire and dreams. As many of you probably know, rock bottom isn’t very comfortable. It hurts in so many ways. But when I was in one of my pits, a good friend gave me the best piece of advice.

“The good thing about Rock bottom, is there’s only one way to go and that’s up.”

As a writer it’s easy to get in a funk, harder to get out. My advice? Get a cheering section, people who can give you the pep talk be they friends, family or maybe a writing group like I have

Rock bottom is not fun, but it can also be the driving force behind a new idea, an inspiration or perhaps just the desire to prove that you can do it. Believe in yourself and you’ll see rock bottom in a whole other light. You’ll see that it’s there to burnish off the rough edges of your personality, to get rid of the excess in your life and ultimately will make you a better person and a better writer.

What advice do you have for those that are feeling rocks on their posteriors right now?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Blogging that Rocks your Socks Off.

Day one of my, self imposed, thirty day challenge. A few rules on writing a blog post that I have

A)Learned the hard way

B)Learned off of other blogs and

C)Used my good ol’ common sense

The first thing I’ve learned is keep it short and sweet. Get to the point and don’t dawdle while you get there. Some writers can ramble and it’s fun to follow along but those are few and far between. More than that, ask anyone who frequents blogs, most won’t read to the end of a Looooong post. So cut it off when you find yourself contemplating the meaning of life in a free flow form of writing. I try to keep it under 400 words if possible.

Use catchy titles. (This goes for your novels too of course. Think "Skinny Bitch".) Catchy titles get people’s attention and that will get them reading your blog. Hence the oh -so -snazzy header of this post.

Using pictures is great, but not thirty per post. One or two will suffice. Again, short, sweet and pertinent will rock it.

Controversy can be fun and make for great debates, but only if you truly believe in what you are writing about. Don’t dive into a trendy topic JUST BECAUSE. That’s just dang irritating.

Finally, try to keep it interesting. (This could get tough for me over the next thirty days) If you’re writing the same type of posts (Woe is me is another no-no) over and over and over and over again, people tend to notice. Mix it up a little. If you only write about writing, tell a story about your childhood and how you came to be a writer. Only talk about yourself? Do an interview with a new author, editor or agent.

A last thought. One thing that’s good to do is to ask your readers a question at the end of your blog to try to engage them and start a dialogue. That one I learned from Creepy Query Girl. Hence the next line! These are only the things I try to avoid, what have you learned either by reading posts or blogging yourself?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Blogfest 30 day Challenge - With Prizes!

There's this great yoga studio in our area and they have put on a thirty day challenge to it's members. What that means is that you have to attend a class every day for thirty days or if you miss a day you have to make that missed day up by doing two classes in a day.

My little brain got to thinking. Maybe that would make a great blog challenge, in fact, I think it would make a great blog challenge and one anybody can participate in.

I know that some of you are groaning and already contemplating the great difficulties that are ahead, the cramped typing fingers, the frozen brain that will no longer produce cognizant thoughts. But that's kind of the point. How many of us actually work on our writing every day? We should if we want to be serious writers (I am still working on this concept myself)

Think of this challenge as a way to train yourself for writing that next novel, a way to get into the swing of things. It will also be a way to get into your blogging if you struggle with regular posts, something that I think is important if you want to keep your followers coming back for more of you quirky brand of writing. You can use interviews, contests, funny blurbs, personal thoughts or anything else that relates to writing in some way.

The start date for this challenge will be April 4th to give you a few days to come up with a list of posts you want to write about and the end date will be May 4th. If you want to participate please make a comment as I think there should be prizes for a contest like this and yes, I will provide them!

And if anyone is super savy and knows how to make a button for this awesome sauce challenge, please feel free to do so we can put that up too.