Monday, April 30, 2007

What's on Your Bulletin Board?

Artists of all types seek inspiration. I like to keep myself surrounded by evocative items while I'm writing. To that end, I have a bulletin board mounted just above my computer terminal. It's covered with objects that have meaning of some sort. Let's examine them:

Three postcards from Disney World - well, if you know me, you know my Disney fixation. I have Tinkerbell, Mickey and Minnie standing in front of the castle, and Cinderella dancing with Prince Charming. Just a glance at either of those puts me in my "laughin' place."

A picture of Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner from "Romancing the Stone." She's a romance novelist; he's Michael Douglas. You do the math.

A list of four goals I wrote at the beginning of 2007. Two of them have been ticked off.

The Valentine my Prince gave me. It's a picture of Scarlett and Rhett. She's in the widow garb, and she has her arms around him. Their mouths are about two inches apart. It's the scene where he says, "You need to be kissed, and often, by someone who knows how." When you open the card, it plays the theme from "Gone with the Wind."

An 8 X 10 glossy print of the cover for BRIANNA'S MAGIC. I haven't framed that one yet.

Five pictures of Stefan Sanderling taken from the covers of programs from performances by the Florida Orchestra. I have a classical musician story in me somewhere. I don't have a clue what it is yet, but I like those pictures of Stefan. They remind me to think about it.

A bookmark from Borders advertising the soon to be released seventh Harry Potter Book. It says Severus Snape (Friend) on one side, and Severus Snape (Foe) on the other. Right now I have it turned to the Friend side, but that could change.

Two packages of chopsticks from the Thai restaurant we went to a couple of weeks ago when I was researching the Lotus story. The packages are bright red with lotus blossoms on them.

A postcard reminding me of the Mozart Motown and More concert by the Florida Orchestra on April 20. Guess I can take that down now.

A small flyer with a colorful drawing announcing a Halloween concert by Skull and Bone Band. That's my son's band, and his girlfriend drew the picture.

Finally, the calendar telling me which days I'm supposed to blog and/or chat where. Because otherwise, I'd never remember.

Those are the things that make me smile when I look at them. What' s on your space?

Delia

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Emotion of Writing

I had an interesting discussion the other day. Okay I’ll admit it was more of a debate. It was concerning a book a mutual friend and I had both read. She didn’t like and I loved it.

That led to a long debate of us both listing out points and countering why we liked or disliked the book. We got loud and emotionally about our point of view.It was interesting. We had others around us who had read the book chiming in and those who hadn’t asking more about it. It even led to other discussion of various author’s work we liked, did not like, the reasons why or why not. It was a very reveling conversation.

This is the emotion of writing. No matter if your book is not liked or liked. It has created an emotion. As an author this is what I want to do. Whether it is good or bad. I want you to feel it. The one thing I do not want is apathy. That is like a punch to any writer. Please NO APATHY. Give me any emotion and I will feel that I have done my job.

Now I am not saying if I get a bad review or email that a reader didn’t like my work I won’t get a little upset at first. But when it comes down to it I will be content and happy. I created a reaction.

An Emotion.

I touched the reader in someway. From that little debate I had the other day. I realized that people will remember you if they have enough emotion whether good or bad. I got a few new authors to try just from that conversation alone. Hey just because someone didn’t like a book doesn’t mean what they saw as flaws I or another reader wouldn’t see as treasures.

Come on and share the books you have read and created strong emotion. Don’t be shy it can be good or bad.

Taige

Reading

Most writers read. A lot. And I'm no different from any other writer. I read. A lot. Recently I've been sidelined by health issues so I've been reading a lot more than usual. And that, let me tell you, is a lot.

So what have I been reading, you ask? I'm pleased to tell you that most of what's been taking me away from my current situation, transporting me into worlds and lives unknown to me except through the wonderful storytelling abilities of those who wrote them, are books by companion goddesses. I have a limited time to sit without discomfort so I'm just going to list some of what I've read, and you'll have to take my word for it that they've all been great. Although great is truly an understatement. I highly recommend each and every one of them for your own personal reading pleasure.

Okay. Ready? Here goes... Everglades Wildfire by Isabelle Drake (great family turmoil in that one), Heaving Bosoms by Ashlyn Chase (made me giggle, love her sense of humor!), Crazy for the Cowboy by Cindy Spencer Pape (I read this twice, I enjoyed it so so much), Anchor and Storm by Kate Poole (anyone that enjoys historicals will be nuts over this one. I was!) and Overlord's Vessel by Bronwyn Green (Micah and Elizabeth--a couple that won't be forgotten!).
I told you I read a lot. I read these in the past few days, LOL!!

Fortunately, the goddesses are a prolific bunch and there is an assortment of tempting offerings that will keep me occupied in the coming days. The hardest part of reading what these talented women have written is deciding what to read first! But eventually, I'll read them all.

And no matter what your taste, reading friends, there is a goddess that writes just for you, too!

Until next time, happy reading!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sweet Stress-Waiting on Reviews

Ahhh...waiting for those first reviews on a new release, is that sweet excitement or nail biting anxiety?! The first review for my first EC release, Everglades Wildfire, made my day! 4 1/2 Hearts from The Romance Studio! Here’s a clip:

“Drake has created a complex, riveting story that will grab you from the start. ... The setting of the everglades and hot scenes make this story hard to put down.”

Overall rating: 4 1/2 Hearts
Sensuality rating: Very sensual
Reviewer: Tj

How cool is that!

Jumping off

It's not my blogging day but I felt like jumping in so here I am.

How do I begin writing a book? I enjoyed the last two blogs about visualization and creating a "book" of images to kick start a book. I often hear the dialogue, then visualize the scene and the characters, then I raise the curtain and start the show.

I've been to workshops where we cut pictures from magazines and pasted them on large sheets of paper. Although I enjoyed the experience it didn't do anything for my WIP. I am fortunate to be in Jo Beverley's critique group. Jo admits to "flying by the seat of her pants" to start. An idea finds its way into her creative brain and she mulls over it awhile before it takes root and she's off and running.

Other writing friends chart, plan, use 5x7 cards to keep them on track and other tricks of the writing trade. I've tried all of them and I can't get into long range planning. We all have our little ways. What works for me, works for me. We need our five senses at work as we write. As long as I remember that, I'm okay. It's when I forget that my writing doesn't sing. FIVE SENSES. I think I should print and paste those two magical words where I can see them as I write.

Anita Birt
www.anitabirt.com

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Visual Aids

In the classic Star Trek episode "The Empath," Kirk, Spock and McCoy find themselves in a dark, featureless landscape (hmm, much like an empty soundstage) with a mute woman. A dramatic script made this one of the better third season tales. Still, when I look back on it, the episode reminds me of of my own writing back in high school, and not in a good way. Because what I frequently wrote at that time was dialogue in a featureless landscape. Unfortunately I wasn't trying to write plays, but novels.

I realized my writing needed to be more visually appealing to readers. So I worked hard at describing settings, clothes, and characters' features. Drawing and painting became an important sideline to my writing. In order to make the reader see what I was describing, I had to be able to visualize it myself. I searched constantly for pictures that looked like my characters. When I found a picture, I would often use it as a basis for a drawing of my own.

At that time I wrote with a friend, a much better artist than me (and now a professional graphic designer). Her drawings and paintings for our joint works were an incredible inspiration.

One thing I like about writing for EC/CP is that we can make suggestions about our covers. While we're somewhat limited by the images the artists have in their files, I must say they gave me what they asked for on my first two books. I was particularly pleased with my "One Thousand Brides" cover (written under my penname). I asked for a heroine in a bridal gown and a hero with cat ears and long hair, and that's exactly what I got. While I wouldn't have drawn my hero or heroine quite the same way, it came out as a very sexy cover.

Bronwyn talked about collaging in the entry previous to this one. Coincidentally, I was at a writers' retreat this past weekend where we spent 3 hours making collages for our books. I did one for the novel I'm working on, a time-travel romance where a Revolutionary War doctor dies and finds himself in the Waiting Room between Heaven and Hell. He's offered a chance to redeem himself by fighting a demon in modern-day Massachusetts. I doubted I'd be able to find pictures that expressed the book. To my surprise I found some good ones: a sundial with "The Centuries" written beside it, a man dressed in Colonial clothes (too old for my hero, but could be his father), a beach for the modern resort town where the story takes place. Best of all, a white building floating in a blue sky full of clouds--my "Waiting Room."

I'd encourage anyone who writes to try collaging--you might be surprised at what pops out at you when you start looking for book images.

Note: a few of my book drawings are on my website, www.maryannchulick.com
When you go to the sample chapters, some have an illustrations link.

Inspiration

Inspiration comes in many forms. . . visual, aural, tactile, etc. A painting or a piece of evocative music may prompt a story idea, so might the soft texture of a woven shawl or hand knitted sweater. Face it, anything that strikes the fancy can be fodder for the writer’s imagination.

A while ago, Jennifer Crusie wrote an article for the RWR about making story collages as a form of prewriting, a method of getting in touch with their stories before the actual process of writing begins. I was so fascinated by this oft-used method (writers like Anne Stuart, Jo Beverley, Susan Wiggs, Christie Ridgeway and Barbara Samuel frequently use this technique), I had to try it.

Unfortunately, my living space doesn’t really support the housing of a three dimensional collage (read many small children and even more cats.) But, I was so intrigued, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. Thus, the Book of Wonder was born.

Using pictures from magazines, snippets of phrases, lovely scrapbook paper, pictures from the internet, I began to collage together visual images and inspiration for FAERY KISSED, my WIP at the time. It was a giddy, freeing sensation to be able to find the faces of my characters, to see where they lived, to find images and phrases that resonated with them regardless of whether or not they’d be used in the actual story. These story collages gave me access to my characters and story on a whole different level.

As I’m sure you know there are three basic methods of learning. Visual, aural and tactile or hands-on. Like many people, my primary method of learning is visual, followed closely by tactile. This is the method through which I best process information. Actively working with the visual images I selected and turning them into mini works of art seemed to free up other areas of my brain. As I worked, I got ideas for new directions to take my story. I figured out how the story’s secret would be revealed. I thought of ideas for two connected stories. It was like a non-stop party in my head and I couldn’t wait to get back to writing. Since then, I’ve done a series of pages for all of my books and I store them together in an expandable scrapbook.

Frequently, life imposes writing breaks, whether we want them or not. Often, after one of these breaks, it can be difficult to get back into the flow of writing again. The best thing about the Book of Wonder is that it acts as a conduit for creative thought. If I’m having trouble betting back into my story, I open up the Book of Wonder and peruse the pages. Inevitably, just looking these pages puts me back in a writing mood and I’m ready to move forward again.

In addition to story pages, I’m also fond of doing random inspiration pages. These are all-purpose collages and illustrative of my idea of romance.

A Disclaimer: The copyright holders of the following images retain all copyrights. These images are being displayed for educational purposes only.

If you'd like to check out some of my most recent story pages, please go to http://photo.xanga.com/Bronwyn_Green_Book_Blog I've got images up for Overlord's Vessel, and my two tarot stories, I Put a Spell on You and Ronan's Grail. The indivdual albums are listed on the right.

Do any of the other Goddesses do anything like this or have any other methods of prewriting?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hidden Assets

Good morning. It's a bright sunny morning in Victoria. I'll digress for a few minutes. I walked around Government House grounds this morning. It is quietly beautiful. Flowers are blooming. The ducks are pairing off. If they are lucky, they will raise cute little ducklings but the odds are against them. In and around the duck pond the predators await! Rats eat the eggs. Raccoons do the same. And swooping down from the skies, eagles and hawks. I didn't intend to be gloomy but that's life, isn't it. The dark side of beauty can be ugly.

I can see the Olympic mountains in Washington from across the Strait of Juan da Fuca. By the way, Government House is the official residence of British Columbia's Lieutenant Governor, the Queen's representative in BC. The position has no executive power unless something dire happened in the BC legislature. The park like grounds are opent to the public from sunrise to sunset. When Her Majesty visits Victoria, she stays at Government House. The place crawls with RCMP security then.

I'll jump off from there to Hidden Assets. No, no, I don't mean those interesting visible physical assets. I mean the hidden asset inside our heads. Our wonderful brains. On a previous post, one of the Goddesses mentioned how her characters often have minds of their own and she has to pay attention. It's fascinating what goes on inside our heads. We create movies in full colour. We hear words. We hear accents. We sniff and sometimes conjour up a scent. If passersby could see inside our heads they'd send for the men in white coats. Thank goodness, the handsome guy I saw the other day working on a construction site didn't know I was planning to make him the hero in my next book.

But did you know that some people cannot make pictures inside their heads? Ask someone to visualize what he or she had for breakfast the previous day and they can't do it. If pressed they might remember but can't run the movie. We are authors because we have tricky brains. My unconscious mind wakened me in the night and warned me of a mistake I made in my writing the day before. I'm revising a Time Travel I wrote several years ago and had forgotten to change the date when my hero found himself in the present time. A full moon glowed overhead. I had an old full moon date in my manuscript. Thank you, brain.

I'm not a plotter. I have a vague outline where I start and where I end up. I know the characters. I've often had a full opening sentence drop right into my head. "You will, of course, accept my offer." It came out of nowhere. I liked it so much I started a contemporary romance with it.

Next time you see a flower, stop and look at it. Touch its petals gently. Enjoy the moment.

Anita Birt

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wait For It!

Hi, tomorrow, April 23, is my day to blog. I'm out here on the west coast of Canada and won't be posting my blog until late tomorrow morning or early afternoon. Mondays are busy! You folks on EST will find me late in your day. I will be here.

Anita Birt

Heroes

Good morning. The day is just beginning and its quiet here. My computer is located between two windows so I can look out and see trees and flowers and the occasional bird that lands close by. And on occasion one of our cats staring at me from the other side of the window. Sunday mornings are a good time to reflect. And what I'm reflecting on today is heroes. My father loved John Wayne and played his movies constantly. Because of that I grew up with unrealistic expectations, expecting men to be heroes and women to be larger than life. As an adult it seems each year those heroes become harder and harder to find. Where are those men and women with bright shiny stars pinned to their vest, their feet firmly splayed as they stand in the middle of the street ready to meet out justice and face down the bad guys? Our country is embroiled in violence both abroad and at home. Drugs are prevalent. The economy is a problem and no matter what you do or say you run the risk of being sued. Our most recent horror: the Virginia Tech massacre. Senseless, wanton destruction of life that left us dazed and saddened. And then like the phoenix rising from the ashes I saw America's heroes. The professor who used his body to baracade a door and protect his students with his life, the students and instructors that faced death to help each other and the coming together of our young people to unite after this horrific tragedy. Yes, our heroes are alive and well. We see them on the corner everyday, talk to them at work and school. They don't need tin stars on their chests to prove they are heroes. They just go about the business of living from one day to the next and when danger threatens they rise up to meet it standing tall, strong and united. I am so very proud of all of our day to day heroes. Brothers and sisters I salute you.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Getting Closer

My first book will hit the Cerridwen Press Coming Soon page next Thursday (April 26). I'm getting nervouser and nervouser. You can tell because I'm using non-words like "nervouser" more and more often. I know it's a good book. My editor thought it was good enough to acquire, and the copy editor even commented on it. But will you like it? That's what's got me all worked up, no matter how much I repeat "I write for myself. I write for myself."

We all want to be loved and accepted. We all have a craving for approval and get a warm glow when someone says something nice about us. So over the next few weeks, as my book cover creeps closer and closer to the main Cerridwen page, I'm going to make an effort to tell at least one person a day something nice about them, something I especially appreciate. Maybe it will keep my mind off the butterflies in my tummy.

If you're curious about my book--the cover, the blurb, or want to read an excerpt or two, shimmy on over to my web site: www.elissaabbott.com and click on the "Books" link on the left side of the page. And let me know what you think. If you want bulletins on when I add new excerpts or a reminder on release day, shoop over to my myspace page: www.myspace.com/elissaabbott and friend me.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Where do ideas come from?

Today I'm going to try and answer the question I seemed to get asked the most often - where do ideas come from. Where Do Ideas Come From

People always ask:Where do writers get their ideas? How do they come up with plot lines? With characters? I used to ask the same question myself before the writing bug bit me, and I took all the suggestions I’d been given and figured out how to use them/
For one thing, always carry a notebook with you – big, small, tiny enough for a purse, it doesn’t matter. Just something to keep notes in. Say you’re in a restaurant having Shrimp Louie and a chilled glass of Chablis and the people at the next table begin arguing about wine. Okay, what if they are co-owners in a winery. One wants to sell, the other doesn’t. And if it’s a family winery all the more intense. So you jot down the gist of their conversation and maybe a word or two about the people themselves so you have character references.
Another good place to people watch is a mall. Every kind of humanity will pass before your eyes in the space of an hour. You can look at each one and play the What If game. What if that guy covered with tattoos is really part of a biker gang running drugs? What if the couple looking so romantic are actually married – to other people? What if the old woman sitting across from you is really a millionaire looking for someone to give money to, but her family is fighting it, trying to have her declared incompetent? Well, you get the idea.
Newspapers are a great source, too. Even letters to the editor. I read one in our local paper from a woman who had just moved to town and was renting a house, gone jogging and was caught in a downpour and a very nice man in a truck – with a dog – gave her a ride home. From that I came up with the idea for a romantic suspense about a woman who returns to her hometown after leaving it twenty-five years before. No one knows her after all this time. She’s changed her name, she’s a true crime writer and she’s back to solve the mystery of her sister’s murder.
You can even steal a little bit from television. I watched an episode of CSI in which a couple left their dead baby for the police to find and faked a kidnapping. The baby was actually killed by their five-year-old child. It was an accident but they didn’t know what to do. Okay, here’s where the What If came in for me. What If a family had a child that was really a bas seed, had already killed her brother and the woman was pregnant again? How would they find a way to remedy the situation? Watch for ECHOES OF THE PAST, out in May from Triskelion Publishing, to find out how far I took the What If game with this one.
When something triggers an idea in your mind, pull out that little notebook and jot it down. You never know how you can flesh it out at a later date. Describe people you see who fascinate you, places that might make good settings for stories. Anything the you find interesting, someone else will like, too.
But the most important thing to remember is that ideas come from YOUR MIND. So give your imagination free reign. Nothing is too absurd or off the wall. New York Times bestselling author John Lescroart said, If you write a page a day, at the end of the year you’ll have a book.
So start watching what goes on around you and putting those ideas down. Maybe at the end of the year you’ll have finished your book.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech

Thank you, Delia, for your beautful words. It is so hard to comprehend the horror visited on the innocent students and their teachers. We have very strict gun laws in Canada but when an insane man - and they are all men - wants a gun, he will find one and use it. We are as shaken as our American friends at the tragedy inflicted on that extraordinary college. Losing a child is the worst pain. My husband and I know that all too well. But to have a child murdered is an agony that must be borne. There is no escape. My heart aches for the parents, the siblings, the aunts, uncles and cousins.

Anita Birt

Don't Read? Do Tell

How right Delia is, stories will always have a special place in our hearts.

Throughout history readers have turned to fiction for a break from their daily world, an escape. A book I picked up recently speaks to this issue and another one that crosses my mind occasionally: censorship.

Venus Bound: The Erotic Voyage Of The Olympia Press And Its Writers which, aside from offering great glimpses into the careers of ground breaking writers Henry Miller, Samuel Beckett and Ana├»s Nin to name a few, tells the story of Olympia Press--a publisher that put into print erotic stories considered “too hot” for the censored post-WW II British and American market.

It’s been a while since WWII, but censorship is still around. I myself have been “censored.” It’s gotten to be a joke with my writer friends (who were the only people I’d told, until now.) I laugh now, but back then–after I got over the shock–I was pretty upset. The irony is that the book that was “banned” from the local library was His Friday Girls, a super sweet YA I wrote as Melissa Ford. HFG is about a girl who has the nerve to stand up for herself and her beliefs. The librarian’s reason for banning this squeaky clean book that Romantic Times said “...reminds readers that a young woman's value lies not in her looks, but in her mind and heart” was that the Melissa Ford book that came out over a year earlier was a gritty YA suspense, The Keeper. The librarian hadn’t read that book either, but she assumed that since TK has some intense R.L. Stine-esque scenes HFG would too.

Censorship is one thing, but judging written works before reading them? As my son would say, “That’s messed up.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

We Pause for a Moment...

Every writer in every public venue in America is writing about Virginia Tech today. This small collection of romance novelists should be no exception. As women, as mothers, as wives, as sisters, as friends we grieve today with those families who face unthinkable tragedy. Even in imaginations as fertile as those of writers, we cannot comprehend this horror.

A journalist sees a situation of this type and digs for facts. Who? What? Where? When? How? Writers of romantic fiction see this situation and wonder about the people. We are so driven to find the emotion in every scene we write that the way we look at the world changes to account for that.

If we are really good at our job, then we can show the emotion to you as well. Maybe we will write something that strikes a chord in your heart. Maybe you will see yourself in one of our charcters. Maybe you will find hope in a desolate situation because one of our characters found the way out of his or hers.

We offer you an escape. When the world around you is ugly - whether it's the recent shootings, an undeserved chastising from your boss, the suffering of someone you love - we invite you into a world where you can forget those things for a while. There will be struggles, to be sure, but you pick us up knowing that you can count on us for a happy ending. You know you will be satisfied with a great payoff for whatever trials you had to endure.

We thank you for allowing us that privilege. We take your faith in us very seriously. We hope we have delivered.

Please take a moment today to give a silent thought to the friends and families affected by the tragedy in Virginia. Then hug someone you love. There is never enough love in the world.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Popular Fiction as Myth

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a workshop given by Debra Dixon, author of the book, Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, which has become pretty much the backbone of popular fiction writing. After flight delays and other fun and games, she did condensed versions of her three major presentations, “Goal, Motivation, and Conflict,” “The Big Black Moment,” and “The Hero’s Journey.” My expectations for the workshop were moderate. I’m already familiar with the concepts of GMC and black moment, but I’d heard she was an excellent speaker, and I believe you can always learn something new. That is exactly what I came away with from the first two portions—bits and pieces of new ideas to use here and there in the writing process. Deb is an informative and entertaining presenter, and the material is great, but I’m a little too much of a seat of the pants writer to use charts and such to plot out my book. No single process works for every writer, (which she was quick to point out herself, to her credit) and that just doesn’t work for me. I can however see myself going back and using the ideas she presented to rework problem areas or to unstick myself when I’m caught in a dead spot. So by lunchtime on Saturday, I considered my money and time well spent.

I didn’t have fabulous expectations for “The Hero’s Journey.” After all, I’ve known since grade school that for a story to be a story, the protagonist has to change. So I waited, not with baited breath, but with pleasant anticipation for her to begin. And then all my expectations fell away.

This wasn’t a ‘how to write a romance’ talk—not really. It was a ‘what is a story talk’. And again, to her credit, she did not claim the original ideas and material as her own. She began by citing the academic papers she’s based her workshop upon. The workshop points out that in nearly every culture, stories and myths have twelve essential elements. And that the function of myths in society is to provide hope. They give the listener or reader a hope that there is life after death, a hope that good conquers evil, a hope that extraordinary effort brings extraordinary rewards. In our society, popular fiction has that place. People read fiction for hope—whether it is about love winning in the end, the cops catching the bad guy, or the little hobbit saving Middle Earth.

A good story must engage the reader mentally, emotionally, and on an instinctive level, just like an enduring myth. We want to see our characters put through their paces before they get the reward at the end, and we want to watch the characters grow and evolve. A good story takes the characters out of their comfort zone and forces them to change, but also shows them how to change and why they should. Finally, that journey should be both inward and outward. Ms. Dixon’s workshop goes on to explain a great many more facets of an enduring story, but I’ll let you discover the rest of this material for yourself. Read her books, or take her class if you get the chance. I highly recommend them.

Romance has a universal appeal, because a fundamental facet of human nature is the desire to find the perfect companion(s) with whom to share our lives. We are not a species designed to live alone in an emotional sense. But when we read about love and romance, we don’t want to just see “Bob met Sue and they fell in love and lived happily ever after.” We want our characters to work for it, fight for it, and be willing to sacrifice for it. Because when all is said and done, we still need hope, so we still need our heroes/heroines. And we still want to watch them earn their happily-ever-after.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Let me Speak I have a Voice

“Come on it should go this way.” Voice A states.
“No I want it this way.” Voice B defends
“You better let me speak or…” Voice A warns.
“Or else what?” Voice B shoots back.
“I won’t say a word and we’ll see how far you get without me.” Voice A said with no inflection in the tone.
“Both of you shut the hell up and work together.” Voice C says in exasperation and walks away.
Voice A and B watch each other fear on their face and run after Voice C to apologize.

This is a mythical conversation between a writer (Voice B), the characters (Voice A), and the muse (Voice C).

As a writer it is hard when you have vision of how a story will go then it takes a different turn because of how the characters want it to be. My characters live for me. They have personalities, wants, desires, and opinions just like anyone else. I learned long ago to let them speak and give their opinion. I learned to work together instead of against each other. This helps me create vivid real people and paranormal beings that make you want to laugh, cry, fight, and love with them. Writing takes a mix of all parts working together.

Don’t get me wrong in no way it is always roses and harmony but we have learned to work together. When my characters and me come to an impasse usually my muse Mikayla will come in and knock sense into both of us. Or if Mikayla (she is a bit bossy) goes on the she knows the best and no one else knows crap frame of mind I have my own ways to get her to listen to reason. It involves a whip, keyboard, and chair. Heck it is too complicated to explain but it works. Me, Mikayla, and my characters (in whatever novel I am working in) work as a team to get the best story out to you the reader.

This may seem strange that they are real to me but then again writers have a tendency to have a vivid imagination. Stop it Mikayla. Back the hell up.

Mikayla here. I’m not part of anyone’s imagination. I’m just the more flashier side of Taige. She thinks I’m bossy. Please that woman is a hard task maker who demands the best of the characters and me. It’s a challenge to live up to but we have to step up or get rolled over by the gentle whirl-spin that is Taige Crenshaw. Yeah, yeah that was sarcasm if you missed it. Taige isn’t gentle when it comes to her work. I remember… Ah Crap I have to go. Taige is fighting something fierce as I sit on her. Hey son of a .. watch the damn teeth.

You have to excuse Mikayla as I said she is a bit bossy and thinks she knows everything. As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted (glaring at Mikayla while she looks down at her nails a smug little grin on her face). In the process of creating characters that live everyone has to be a part of the process. You have to listen to each other’s opinion. Years ago this was hard for me. I had a vision I wanted and the characters / Mikayla each had their own thoughts. When I realized in order for us to make the best book we can we all had to join forces. I learned to listen but not let the personalities of the characters and Mikayla drown me. We find a balance that works for us all.

Even when I read I hear the voice of the characters. I don’t know if that’s just me but I do and I enjoy novels that the characters voice speak to me more. Even some characters that stick with me even after the story is finished I take with me as I sleep. They pop up in my dreams. That to me is a sign of a great book. Characters that stay with you afterwards and make you wonder what is going on in their lives.

With my own characters that I have already written I don’t have to wonder. They pop up in my dreams also letting me know they are still there. Who am I kidding the new characters and Mikayla when we are on a role won’t let me sleep or have a moment to myself. Well that is a different topic for another blog. LOL. Yeah my mind is full and I love it.

My question to you. How does the characters in any novel you have read or written speak to you?

Taige

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bare Confessions Release Postponed

I had to laugh at yesterday's post because it fits so beautifully with what I am going through today. Today was supposed to be the day that my second Bare Love book made its grand entrance into the world, but Bare Confessions won't be out today. With Holidays come chaos for everyone and that is when my final edits arrived. It is very important for a book to recieve that final bit of polish and shine that it goes through just before release and mine was either going to be a quick job or held back so that it received the same avid attention as others. I thank God that I write for a place like Ellora's Cave Publishing that doesn't believe in rush jobs . No they held the book back for me and allowed it the same time as others. And my book will be fantastic because of their attention to detail! So sometimes a change in plans is a good thing! It is all in how you look at it! With a May release date now, May 2, this will be a very busy summer for me with books coming out in May, June, July and August! I hope that you will all share in this joy with me! I'll post more on Bare Confessions and what it is about later in the month or the beginning of next month! For now keep reading! The best adventure could be just over the next page!

Lacey Thorn

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Other plans

Have you ever made one set of plans, only to find when the day arrives that the plans you've made are utterly impossible to carry out? Or that, at the very least, they'd be ridiculously impractical to adhere to? Of course you have. We all have. And that's what I'm facing as I wake this morning to the sound of ice pellets hitting our windows. A winter storm. In spring. Sheesh, only in New York! Oh, right. And the rest of the northeast, too! :)

So the dilemma. Mickey and I were planning to picnic in Central Park. It's part of his get-your-mind-off-the-cast-on-your-arm plan. Because, you see, the cast comes off next week but I'm a hairsbreath away from hacking it off myself, I'm so frustrated. Hence, the plan. But today things won't be going according to Mickey's fine plan, not unless I relish the thought of getting cold and damp--which I don't. So we'll have to make alternate plans.

Perhaps a picnic in our apartment? With the heat turned up really, really high so we can wear next to nothing? Yeah, right. Not feeling so romantic with this dratted cast. We'll probably call in for take-out and settle in with a couple of good books. Not a bad way to spend an icy day. Not a bad alternate plan, especially considering the great selection of new books available at Cerridwen Press and Ellora's Cave. Some of the writers here at the goddesses have released some great titles lately, with more to come. Have you checked them out? Recently I've read a lot of books by fellow authors. Some have made me laugh, some have made me cry and all have entertained me. We write a whole range of stories, so there's always something to please every taste. If one doesn't suit your fancy, try another. We've got a bunch!

Yes, today I'll find a new book or two to read from the EC/CP selections and it will be a good day, I know it will. Plans are meant to change, we're meant to adapt and me? I'm always meant to read. :)

Wherever you are, whatever your weather and whoever you plan to spend it with, I hope you have a great day today. And thanks for stopping in.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Query Letter: Agony or Ecstasy

Nothing can make a writer click her heels together and do the happy dance like a response from her query letter that says, please send us your complete manuscript'. Conversely, nothing can tempt a writer to bang her head against the wall and drown her troubles in a vat of ice cream like a rejection.

Everyone has their own ideas on what constitutes a good query letter. My beginning and middle consist of what I hope is, an excerpt grabber from my book. My letter ends with the usual, 'if you would be interested in seeing the manuscript, I would love to send it to you,' etc.

I had what I thought was a good query letter and a great premise for The Crystal. I thought seeing a mysterious stranger in a crystal ball was a 'novel' idea. So I sent out my queries and sat back and waited for the response. When they finally came I went looking for the ice cream and a black armband.

After drowning my sorrows and stretching out my waistline, I sat down and took a long hard look at my letter. I decided to add one sentence. That one sentence turned my dings to requests. I even had an agent ask if she could use my letter as an example of how to write a great query letter in a workshop she was giving.

The sentence I added consisted of five little words....'Ecstasy coursed through her body.' Go figure.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Anita Birt

It is 1l:39 at the west coast of Canada. I made a huge mistake earlier and - don't ask - wrote a long Blog and it ended up as a personal blog in my name. I'm going to try and retrieve it. Sorry folks. My blog was lovely dissertation about Ley Lines and other stuff. Anita

Sunday, April 8, 2007

What do You Believe?

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays because of the religious significance. But I'm not going to talk religion today. Instead I'm going to talk about what I do believe in, the things that bring me hope and keep me going. I believe in happily ever after. It truly does exist but no one said how many frogs it took to get there. I believe in magic and miracles. I believe in long wet kisses that never lead beyond first base. I believe that no matter how bad the storm, the promised rainbow will arrive and it will be beautiful. I believe in the power of a good friend to pick you up and put you back together when you need it most. I believe in faeries and dragons and ghosts. I believe in life on other planets. I believe that in order to more appreciate the world around us and our place in it, that it is important to keep an open mind and embrace the very differences that make us unique individuals. I believe because I am. I believe because not to believe has never been an option. I believe becuase no one has ever shown me that they absolutely do not exist and never have. So my question to you is what do you believe? What sparks your imagination and pulls you head long into fantasy? What twisted tales exist in the chaos of your mind just waiting for a way to be heard? Tell me....I'll believe...

Lacey Thorn, www.lacythorn.com

Saturday, April 7, 2007

I'm a Geek...

I’m so excited! My first book, Overlord’s Vessel, was released last Friday, I’ve gotten real live letters from readers as well as my first review—all of which have been fabulously positive. Apparently everyone, including the reviewer from The Romance Studio, wants Asher’s story. I think I can manage that. J

Despite all of this excitement, I can’t help but feeling like a giant geek. For some unfathomable reason, the external validation I’ve received from people I don’t know somehow seems more valid than the feedback I’ve received from friends and family. Perhaps it’s the underlying fear that the people I know are just trying to protect my feelings, or, as my father would say, blow sunshine up my skirt. Conversely, the positive comments I’ve received from other authors has made me completely giddy. It’s very strange.

Maybe I’m just neurotic. Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon or am I alone in my neurosis? Either way, I’m thrilled that people are enjoying Micah and Elizabeth’s story — whether I know them or not!

Friday, April 6, 2007

First Love

I've been thinking about quitting my day job. Not because I'm making so much money writing (my first book doesn't release until May), or because I have a terrible boss (he's actually a leading contender in the hypothetical World's Best Boss competition), or because I hate my work (I mostly enjoy it and the people I work with), but because I think I'm meant to be doing something else. Let me explain:

Another Goddess e-mailed me yesterday for help with a plot point in her current work-in-progress. And I had a blast coming up with ideas, working out details, drawing invisible lines between event A and event B, while taking character X into consideration. This is what I would love to be paid to do. While it's true that I'm an editor by profession (both on staff at a major academic press and an occasional freelancer), I've mostly worked with non-fiction. And fiction is my first love.

Stories have power. They can simulataneously entertain and teach. They can communicate Truth even while not being fact. Science fiction and fantasy, stories that are farthest from fact, have historically been written to bring us closer to Truth. Weird, huh? And romance, of course, gives us the greatest Truth of all: love is real and important (and often involves sex).

But that's what I want to get my hands on, shape and form, build and refine, so that all those Truths can come out, so that great stories can be told, so that the world of imagination can be fully explored. And I can't do that sitting here at Stuffy University Press.

On a different subject: For all of you who celebrate Easter, I hope you will find a Good Friday service today and a Sunrise Service on Easter morning. We need the darkness of Good Friday to truly appreciate the dawn of Easter.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Wednesday Night

It is 10:15 PM on a Wednesday NIght. April 4th to be exact. I am watching Medium. It is about the medium who "sees" a bad day for her husband and tries to get him to stay home from work.
Reminds me of Pilate's wife who warned him about his bad day. Ceasar's wife who warned him of the Ides of March. How many women/wives have tried to warn men of impending doom to be ignored? How much history has taken place because the man would not listen? How would our history be different if the men had listened?
It reminds me of a time when my husband and I were first married. It wasn't earth shaking or history changing - at least not world-wide history changing. It would have changed our history. We were struggling financially. I dreamt that a certain stock which was selling for pennies per share was the stock we should buy. I told my husband, urged him to buy the stock, begged him to buy the stock. This was back in the day when it was considered proper for the husband to manage the money. He refused to buy the stock and I had no money of my own. This was before internet stock purchases. The stock skyrocketed. It was Microsoft.
Would our purchase of the stock have changed history? Probably not. Would it have changed our history, definitely! It might have changed history - I can see the headlines now - Leatherman Family is the Primary Stockholder of Microsoft Stock. Would we be up there with Bill Gates?
We'll never know.
Now I write fantastical stories about headstrong women who take their men from disaster and save the day. Will my stories change the course of history? Of course not. Are they fun to read? You Betcha.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Anita Birt

It's almost dinner time out here on the west coast of Canada. I thought I'd drop in to say hi. The sun is shining and I really think warm spring weather is on the way. We've had daffodils blooming for two months. They are fading now but it's been a joy to see them for such a long time.

The cover for Isabelle's Diary hasn't appeared yet and I have to offer the cover artists my thoughts on a cover for Isabelle's Story. It's a historical romance set in and around the lovely old Spa town, Llandrindod Wells. My next book, not contracted, not even presented to my editor, is a Time Travel with Paranormal elements. The title, The Mysterious Alan Tremaine. It is set in Cornwall not too far from Tintagel where King Arthur is supposed to have been born.

Tintagel is a ruin now but it's still very impressive. I visited it several years ago. It was built on a site high above from the sea lashed rocks. Cornwall is a magical place where legends of King Arthur abound. More of this another time. It's time for a glass of wine before dinner.

I'm posing a question to the Goddesses and interested visitors to our blog. Are Ley Lines real or a figment of the imagination?

It's my day to blog . . . .

Hi, everyone

Well, today is my day -- my first romance novel, Anchor and Storm, will be released today by Ellora's Cave. I am SO excited!

Here is the blurb:

Edgar Armstrong, Earl of Callander, had not given much thought to marrying and producing an heir…until he meets Emily Sinclair. When their easy companionship grows into love, they learn that Edgar’s progressively debilitating disease could be passed on to his children. As their joy turns to despair Edgar finds a solution. If he can’t get her with child he knows just the man who can. But will Emily agree to his plan?

Angus MacNeill, Lord Callander’s groom, thinks Emily married Edgar for his title, his money and the security he can give her. And when Edgar approaches him with a very unusual request Angus questions his master’s motives. Still, it doesn’t stop him from accepting Callander’s terms—it’s the only way he can be with Emily, even if only until she conceives.

Deeply in love with Edgar, Emily will do anything he asks of her. But she never suspected he’d ask something like this! Despite Edgar’s reassurances she worries that his plan could destroy their marriage rather than strengthen it. And when she makes her choice, Emily wonders if there’s room enough for two men in her heart—and in her bed.


And here is an excerpt:

Emily sat on the rug, her arm resting on the raised hearth. Despite her nearness to the flames, her whole body trembled with chills. She wrapped her shawl more tightly around her nightdress and took yet another deep breath, dreading the encounter that was to come at any moment.

When she heard the tapping of Edgar’s cane coming down the hallway, she knew it was time to face him. She had no idea how he would respond and hoped that perhaps her decision would make him abandon this whole idea.

As he entered the room, he said, “Emily? Are you all right?”

She nodded, trying to swallow past the knot of nervousness in her throat. Her heart pounded in her chest and her hands shook. She felt the beginnings of a dreadful headache.

He sat down in one of the two chairs in front of the fireplace and leaned toward her. “Something is troubling you, my dear. Can’t you tell me what it is?”

She took a deep breath and glanced up at him, then quickly looked away again. “I-I have decided.”

“Oh, I see.” There was no need for him to ask her what she had decided.

“You said his coloring didn’t matter.”

“That’s true, I did.”

“Nor his education or status in life.”

“No. If there is a child from the union, I will claim it. He or she will have the best education available, so it matters not how schooled the father is.”

He waited for her to continue, but her courage again failed her. “So, who is it to be?”

She squeezed her eyes shut and in a shaky voice, whispered, “Angus MacNeill.”

For a moment, the only sound in the room was the crackling of the logs in the fire. The small pang of fear that had started in her stomach now spread to her chest and she found herself holding her breath, waiting for his reaction. From his stunned silence, she suspected it wouldn’t be good.

Then he started to laugh. A more apt term, she thought, would be guffaw! He threw his head back against the chair and tears ran down his cheeks. Although he had an easy wit, she had never seen him laugh so hard.

Edgar, that is unworthy of you!” She had worried over what his reaction would be, but she never suspected this. She suddenly found herself defending her choice. “Angus is an educated man. And he would have been a great chieftain, had it not been for the Rising. He—”

Edgar was shaking one hand at her and wiping his eyes with the other, his mirth finally subsiding. “I know, I know.”

“Then why are you laughing?”

“Oh, my dear,” he said, clearly making an effort to control himself, “Angus was my choice all along.”

Now it was her turn to be silent. She stared at her husband in disbelief. When she saw he was being serious, she asked, “Then why didn’t you tell me?”

All the laughter drained from his face, replaced by a tender smile. “As I told you before, I could not choose the man with whom you would be so intimate. I trusted you to pick the right man and you did.”

“Oh, Edgar,” she replied, shaking her head. Her headache was becoming worse, she pressed the heels of her hands to her forehead. “It doesn’t matter. He’ll never agree to do it.”

“Are you so sure of that?”

“Aye, a cat and a dog get along better than we do.”

“From the way he took care of you when I was ill, I suspect he will not object.” He reached over and took her hands away, then leaned down to peer into her face. “Shall I speak to him tomorrow?”

She nodded. “But if his reaction is no, as I’m sure it will be, don’t tell me what he says. I don’t think I could stand to hear it.”

“All right.”

“And tell him that, when we go riding together after, we will never speak of it.”


With Taige's help, you will see my cover flashing around on the left side of this page. This book is worth buying just for the cover -- WOW, it is HOT!

You can also read an interview with me in Lady Jaided magazine on the Ellora's Cave website. Just go to the Authors link and click on New Authors.

I hope that both the blurb and the excerpt whet your curiosity enough to buy the book and, if you do, I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks so much,
Kate Poole

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Popping In

It's completely not my day to blog, and I apologize to the Goddess who's day this is. I'm just popping in to say "Hi!" and wish everyone a good morning. It's warm and sunny here in New York and I hope the same can be said for wherever you are today. That's it, just hello from me. Now I'll pop back out and leave the day's goddess the blog. :)