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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dreams, Parnormal & What Is It?

Happy Wednesday Everybody,

I'm really excited. Today The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is out in theaters (I hope to see it this weekend).

I'm also a little bit puzzled. I had another one of those weird dreams I'm always talking about...one that if I could just get a handle on what the dream was about, rather than these vague flashes, I might be able to take some of it and turn into a story. (It definitely had paranormal aspects in it!)

Speaking of paranormal, awhile back agent Scott Eagan was talking about what he will and won't take regarding Paranormal queries. It's made me sit down and wonder exactly everything that constitutes a paranormal. Things I thought of I wondered if they were strictly fantasy or if they could branch into paranormal (we're talking about nymphs, muses, sirens, mermaids, dragons, and things like that).

Now, I know that MaryJanice Davidson and her husband, Anthony Alongi have a paranormal series for YA out dealing with dragons and shape shifters and it's definitely firmly entrenched in the paranormal genre.

But, let's explore:

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines "paranormal" as "Not scientifically explainable."

Well that leaves things wide open.

Agent Scott Eagan isn't looking for vampires or were-things, or angels or demons or psychics (based on what he says on his blog and site). 

But there's other things, right?

I don't know about you, but I don't think mermaids have been scientifically explained.

But when do you cross from Paranormal into Fantasy? When you reach fairies? Or when you start having a knight fight a dragon?

Author Ciara Gold took Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance, and probably a bit of even Paranormal and sewed it altogether when she published Celestial Dragon.

There's time travel.

Author Lynn Kurland has done a lot with time-travel and ghosts in her MacLeod/de Piaget series. (my computer is acting up and doesn't want to select certain words so go here for her site: http://www.9kingdoms.com/ ).

I remember when I was a kid reading the Half Magic series by Edward Eager (http://www.amazon.com/Half-Magic-Edward-Eager/dp/0152020683 ). And the other books in those series.

There was time travel in one of them called The Time Garden ( http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Time-Garden/Edward-Eager/e/9780152020705 ).

I don't know how much scientific explanation dreams have. I know there's a lot of interesting research on it...ranging from Psychological to things like psychics, but you know, nobody truly understands the human brain. Part of it because everyone is different. Nobody is exactly alike, so what's true for one person's psychological make up, might not be true for another. (I got into this a bit in high school when I took Psychology I & II...we studied dreams, abnormal psychology, the history of psychology and even illusions, it was incredibly interesting...fascinating stuff the way people think!)

Being a how and why type of girl the world of psychology held quite an interest. Not enough to become a counselor a doctor (although one of my sisters does have her Ph.D. in psychology), but enough for me to be really interested in what drives people. I often ask people "why?" or "how did that happen?"

It's the type of questions we ask as writers and the type of questions Paranormal writers have to ask when world building.

You have to know why something is paranormal. You have to know how it works.

You have to be prepared to make it believable. (I mean not in the sense that a person would walk down the street and enter the next dimension or see a Witch turn someone into a frog). But in the sense that it has to make sense. Someone who's reading it has to be able to believe that these characters and this story matters and why it matters. (Not just because you had an insanely good idea, but because it's actually something a reader desperately wants to read).

These are the things that ramble around in my brain when I'm working on a manuscript.

So...what's your take?

(P.S. For those of you going to go see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse I hope you enjoy it!)

Have A Winsome Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wish On A Star

Happy Tuesday All,


Admit it. You've wished for something crazy or outrageous before.


Maybe as a writer you've wished you were the Super Writer with the power to burst through writers' block with super-sonic ray-gun typing fingers. Is this your wish?


Mine would be to be perfectly organized. Never a thing out of place and always know where everything is at any given moment. That would be very helpful. (unrealistic, but helpful; I know organized people, but rarely do I meet a person who never has anything that's out of place).


Have A Thrilling Tuesday!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

From MISconception To PERCEPTION

This post is for Monday but I'm posting early because it's been running around in my head for awhile.

Hello Everybody,

An interesting subject came up when I was reading a blog (unrelated to writing, but a topic I'm interested in). The question of women being mothers and career women came up and I happened to mention I was a writer. The person I was talking to through the comments said that I was "doing it all"; but other things she said reminded me of the misconceptions people have about writers. The ideas I had when I was a teenager, before I got to really educating myself on the writing and publishing world.

This big misconception is that we writers don't have to spend as much time as other career-paths or even full time students on what we do. That at the very least it's a hobby sort of drive at the very most it's a few hours a day.

Well, I'm here to blast that myth into oblivion.

Okay, maybe not all writers are spending 8-10 hours a day 7 days a week on their craft, but even if they aren't, if they're serious about writing and publishing they're spending almost that amount just THINKING about it.

People don't realize that our ideas aren't always lightning flashes. Sometimes they're a gradual process--a spark of an idea, but then the slow, fleshing out of characters, the organization, the developing plot lines and subplots. It's a real process. (Depending on how you write this could take a few hours to several days).

To illustrate my point let's take an artist (since writing is something of an art form)

An artist has a concept in mind, then sits in front of his or her canvass and begins to outline this concept, slow, deliberate strokes of the pencil, pen or brush, then the gradual adding of details, and in some cases, this process taking weeks or months to fully polish.

This is a writer. The furious scribbling (or typing) and the weeks of editing, agonizing, revising, and learning and acquainting with one's characters, until, months (or even years) later the story is polished and ready for an agent or publisher's eyes.

Just a few hours a day, right? WRONG!

The constant thinking and (even in some cases, dreaming) about the story. Take time.

Of course, if the writer is really serious about his or her craft there's the amount of time reading up on the writing and publishing field. (Books, blogs, articles, classes, conferences, workshops--online and offline, meetings, critique partners, brainstorming).

It really is a full-time process. The thing about it is, is that a writer has to learn to prioritize:  family, unavoidable needs (such as eating and going to the bathroom), other responsibilities and writing. A writer can often delegate a certain amount of time for each thing (much like a college student figuring out his or her schedule, like taking a 3 hour class every Tuesday and Thursday or spreading it out an hour a day over the course of 3 days or something to that effect).

Some writers do put in 8 hours Monday through Friday. Some longer, some less. Depending on who they are, what they write and how serious they are about it.

The point is, the misconception that it's just about sitting down typing (or writing) out a story and then a few hours of editing is unrealistic.

I don't blame people for having this misconception. It's totally understandable. The writing world is something of a mystery for those who aren't deeply engrossed or entrenched in it. It's vast, changing, and full of different rules and expectations than most anything else. It's got some eccentric characters (for example, Lewis Carrol's Alice In Wonderland) and even things people don't even know about (like the several cups of coffee a writer might consume while desperately trying to finish a project).

It's about passion. It's about loving what one does. It's about putting one's heart and soul, mind and self into it.

But it is a real job. It's a full time endeavor, no matter how a writer chooses to split up that full time, it still takes a lot of time and energy. A writer may not be always putting in 8 hours a day of pure writing or editing, but a writer is always doing something to do with the writing world--whether it's helping critique another writer's work, helping out with a conference or a contest, or even just updating one's blog, a writer is always working--writing--imagining, or supposing one way or another. It just might not always be so obvious to the outside world.

Have A Meritorious Monday!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wild Summer!

Happy Tuesday All,

Well, I know it's been a long time since I posted. There's some good reasons for that:

1. Working on Lone Star Contest

2.  My younger brother's wedding (was June 19th and the week before had family get togethers)

3. Working on Lone Star Contest some more

My younger brother (the "baby" of the family) is now a married man. It's hard to believe, but it's true. I like the woman he married, she's very nice and is very good for him. The wedding was lovely and I cried in my brother's hotel room the night before. The best man was kind enough to give me tissues LOL. My brother gave me a big hug before I left for my own hotel room.

The trip was awesome, I was in Seguine/San Antonio for the week and saw several family members and friends that I hadn't seen in awhile (a bunch of them I hadn't seen in over a year!)

Myself and 2 of my sisters gave the The Princess Bride toast at the Rehearsal Dinner (Family tradition...we quote the "Impressive Bishop's" speech...if you don't know what I'm referring to, watch the movie...and even if you do know what I'm referring to, watch the movie again! LOL it's a good movie).

I'm back home, now, and helping out with the Lone Star Contest and getting settled back into my usual rountine. Some family is still in town so I visit with them a bit, as well.

What's your summer been like so far?

Have A Thrilling Tuesday!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Can You Help?

Hello Fellow Authors,

This is a special cry for help:

The NWHRWA is in need of judges for its Lone Star Contest. No, you don't have to be a member of RWA or a member of the NWHRWA to judge.

Please send me an email if you're interested.

Thank you so much!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"My Dog Ate It"

Happy Tuesday One and All,

I remember in high school teachers used to say they've heard every excuse in the book on why someone didn't turn in their assignments on time. Their most hated excuse was "my dog ate my homework"

So, I figured for fun, come up with some goofy (and untrue, I hope) reasons not to write:

A monkey invaded my home. We had to evacuate while the zoo keeper came to collect said monkey. This lasted a whole week since the monkey hid and nobody could find it in my one-storey home.

I was abducted by aliens. I just returned last month. I'm still recovering. 

My characters don't like me. They said so.

Oh yeah...

And this one of course:  My dog ate my computer.

Of course, if you have a good excuse (health, family obligations, that sort of thing) then of course you haven't been writing. But if you've only been playing hooky, that's enough.

I've gotta pull up my manuscript and get to editing.

Have A Toe-Tapping Tuesday!  :-)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Updates

Happy Monday Everybody,

I know I'm posting this later than I normally would post, but my day was full of other things to take care of, so it fell by the wayside.

NWHRWA'S Lone Star Contest is now closed to entries (the deadline was midnight last night).

I still have to finish the next rounds of edits for one of my manuscripts, but that was going okay.

What's going on with all of you?

Hope you had a Marvelous Monday!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Get Me Out Of The Corner!

Happy Thursday All,

So you're writing along, merrily going, things are flowing, writing life is great. You love your characters, wait, no you actually love everybody, because everything's clicking. You're ready to dance a jig.

Then it happens. The unthinkable. The unwanted.

You write yourself into a corner.

You frantically go back and see "Is there anything that doesn't belong? Can I redo the scene? Is the scene important? Should I take out this part and start over?"

You delete a few sentences here and there. But the nagging feeling that "I don't know what comes next" won't go away.

I have gotten to the whole "What now?" in one of my stories. I sit there and I think "Come on! You've had this story practically written in your head for months now!"

Sometimes this happens. For me, it means I sometimes have to go back to my other project and work on the editing some more. Or it could mean that the scene either needs adjustments. Or maybe I need to think a bit more and consider different possibilities.

Sometimes you have sit back and ask "Why isn't this working?" Not say "You idiot, get yourself moving, just write dang it!"

You could ask questions like:

Is the scene essential?

Does it move the plot along?

Is it true to the characters?

Is it developed enough for me to move it along? If not, why?

What would my characters do next?

Or, worse case scenerio you can go all WWWSD (What Would William Shakespeare Do?)

In a WWWSD situation you can always have your character go into a dramatic death scene...that is, if a dramatic death scene moves the plot along. Or maybe he should get philosophical (think Hamlet) or get all head-over-heels in love ("Arise fair sun and kill the envious moon!"--Romeo, from Romeo And Juliet).

Whatever you have to do to be proactive about moving your story along. It doesn't necessarily mean you're a bad writer or even that the story is bad, it just means it needs some adjustments and work.

Speaking of WWWSD....it makes me want to ponder...WWWSD about my story! (What WOULD Shakespeare do with a Paranormal? Oh yes, he'd write MacBeth, and Hamlet--too bad I don't have ghosts in my story LOL).

Have A Thoughtful Thursday!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Winner & Wednesday

Happy Wednesday Everyone,

Yesterday's Christie Craig Interview Comment Contest was pretty fun, with some really good comments. Choosing a winner wasn't easy, but in the end "there could only be one" (whooo Highlander flashes here).

(Maybe I should've called it the Awesome Comment Contest instead? A better ring LOL).

Anyway, the winner is *drum roll please*...



LINDA HENDERSON!
Congratulations, Linda! :-)
Linda has already been notified and the information has been sent to Christie so that she can get the signed copy of Shut Up And Kiss Me to her.
So, I have a question for you all to ponder...
What if a story an author is writing makes him or her uncomfortable?
Now, if it somehow goes against the writer's religion then the obvious choice is to put it aside or change it.
If it just makes the author uncomfortable because his or her character is this terrible con-man who cons an elderly lady and he or she would never con an elderly lady out of $500,000 dollars, then that just might mean you have a really good villain on your hands.
What if it's a man trying to write about a woman's monthly cycle? (My advice is ask a woman, she'd be more than happy to pour out her "Aunt Flo Woes" LOL I'm a woman, I know!)
In any case...how do you take the uncomfortable and make it a good story?
Anyway, again congratulations to Linda. Thank you Christie Craig, for yesterday's interview and thank you everyone for all the comments yesterday! Christie appreciated them and so did I. It's wonderful to see the support :-)
Have A Wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spotlight On Author: Christie Craig

Happy Tuesday Everyone,

Sorry about the delay in getting Christie Craig's email interview up. Normally I can just copy and paste interviews from my email into my blog, but this time my blog would NOT let me paste the interview! So everything has to be done manually, which takes longer.

Anyway, let me introduce you to Christie Craig:

I met her through the NWHRWA, which we're both members of. She's a real sweetheart. Funny, fun, and makes you feel comfortable (you don't feel shy or uncomfortable because she has a very hospitable presence about her). She's also very helpful, offers great advice and encouragement (I know this from experience, she's been very encouraging to me).

Christie is a multi-published author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her works include things like Divorced, Desperate & Delicious and her up-coming non-fiction (with elements of fiction) work, Wild, Wicked And Wanton: 101 Ways To Love Like You're In A Romance Novel...due out this month). You can find more on Christie on her website here.

Without further ado, I give you the email interview with Christie Craig:

Christie is giving away a free autographed copy of her new book, Shut Up And Kiss Me to one lucky commenter of this post!

Me: Could you tell us a little bit about your new novel, Shut Up And Kiss Me?

Christie: Welcome to Precious, Texas. My hero's foster father, Redfoot, believes in Fate. And he believes the spirits come to him in dreams and tell him who is whose soul mate. He is determined Shala Winters, the new tourism specialist/photojournalist coming into town and his son, the Chief Of Police, Sky Gomez, are soul mates. Sky takes one look at Shala and decides he wouldn't mind the "mating" part, but the "soul" part, meaning the forever kind of love...well, Sky doesn't do that. He watched love destroy his parents that ended in murder/suicide. And Shala, who had her heart shattered once, is here to work, not play, and she's opted out of forever as well. Unfortunate for Sky, she's not into quick flings either.

Ahh, but this is Precious, where you don't get between Fate and what It wants, because Fate, even though It has everyone's best interest at heart, doesn't fight fair. It will use whatever It can: skunks, fire ants, and a whole pack of wacky town folk to help It, too. Nevertheless, it's not just Fate stirring up trouble in this tiny town. When it becomes clear to Sky that someone is willing to kill to get Shala's camera, it's Sky's job to find out why and who and more importantly to keep Shala safe. But can Sky do it when none of this is making sense? And can he safe Shala without his heart to the one woman who might be his soul mate?

Me: Was there anything in particular that inspired Shut Up And Kiss Me, or was it one of those ideas that was "simmering" in your mind?

Christie: I actually wrote a blog called Fate, Destiny & Soul Mates: Do You Believe? It talks about where the idea came from. For the long answer pop over to: http://www.tracymadison.com/blog/ . But the short answer is that the idea of soul mates intrigued me since I was twelve and my grandmother told me a story about having a premonition in a dream about her soul mate.

Me: You have a range of books published. Do you have a favorite, if so, which one and why?

Christie: That's like asking a mother which one of her children she loves the most. LOL. I will say that I think "Shut Up And Kiss Me" is my funniest and possibly the best book I've written. The characters just really came alive for me.

Me: What made you decide to write romance novels?

Christie: I usually give my first marriage credit. It was so bad I had to learn how to fantasize. LOL. But seriously, I think love is what keeps the world going. Romance and love feeds the soul.

Me: For fun: What's your favorite color?

Christie: Hmm, it's a toss up between pink and purple. What does that say about me?

Me: What piece of advice has been helpful to you that you'd pass on to aspiring (and newly published) authors?

Christie: Never, never give up. I started writing in '84. My first book until a short ten years later. If you think that's bad, my second one didn't hit stands until a short tweleve years after that. For about five of those years, I only wrote non-fiction--and was successful at a photojournalism career--but during those other two years, I worked part time in journalism, and wrote and completed eight novels and six proposals. And the rejections poured in--one right after another. Ahh, but when I sold my second book, I sold my third, fourth and fifth on the same day. And yes, they were books I had already written. My jump start back into novel publishing was only possible because I had continued to write book after book. And don't think I didn't have every reason in the book, including thousands of rejections, to throw in the towel, to stop believing in myself and in my talent. I just refused to give up, to be a quitter, and look what happened. "Shut Up And Kiss Me" is my seventh novel, "Wild, Wicked & Wanton" is my third non-fiction book, and I have contracts six more novels. Yup, not giving up was a good thing.

The condition is: Never stop growing as a writer. You can keep writing, but if you aren't honing your craft by reading how-to books, studying the work of other authors, or taking classes, then you could be making the same mistake book after book. And isn't that the definition of insanity--doing the same thing and expecting different results? Basically this is the entertainment business and it's one of the fastest changing businesses out there. Even if you are published, even if you finally figured it out, you can't stop learning, because what's popular is constantly changing. If you stop growing as a writer, you'll shrivel up and die and that ain't pretty.

Me: What's changed in your life since you became a published novelist? (FYI to those who don't know, she's a photojournalist and non-fiction author, too).

Christie: Well, I had more work to do. Because I was pretty serious about writing and writing every day, I already had a good work ethic, but the extra work was doing copy edits, doing PR, reading contracts, planning book signings, and writing guest blogs and such. There's a lot of work that comes with the business side of writing that can really cut into your writing time.

I think the biggest surprise that selling brought about wasn't what changed, but about what didn't change. A lot of people believe that once you sell, you suddenly feel accomplished, all those ol' doubts and insecurities will fade because duh, someone has paid you for your work. And maybe for some people that happens, but almost every day when I come into my study and sit down, I have this tiny little worry that someone will discover my secret. And my secret is that I'm just faking it. Thank God I'm pretty good at faking it.

Me: To plan to start another series to go along with your Divorced, Deceived & Delicious series?

Christie: While I hope to go back and write a Divorced series about three men starting a "Stay Single" club, and I would like to write more Precious books, my next series is: "Don't Mess With Texas". It's a story about three men, ex-cops and ex-cons, exonerated of a murder they didn't commit. They've opened their own PI business, determined to get justice for those that the system lets down. Mavericks to the max, these men bend all the rules and it's gonna take some special women to win them over. Look for the first book in the series in 2011 through Grand Central Publishing. Also, my young adult series released by St. Martin's Press, "Shadow Falls Camp", should be released early 2011 under the pen name C.C. Hunter.

Me: For fun: Do you have a favorite dessert?

Christie: Chocolate. Something crunchy and soft at the same time. Like a corner piece of brownie. And can I have some coffee with it, with cream? Darn, now you got me craving something sweet.

Me: Dorchester, to let everyone know, is your publisher for Gotcha!, Divorced, Deceived & Delicious series and for Shut Up And Kiss Me, how did you end up with them as a publisher?

Christie: I got lucky. I knew Dorchester bought a lot of newer writers, and they also took chances on books that were a little outside the box. My books mixed humor, suspense and romance. Other than Janet Evanovich, this wasn't being used a lot. So whenever I spotted a writing contest that had a final judge that was from Dorchester, I entered it in hopes of making it to their desk. And as I said, I got lucky. At one time I had three different manuscripts on three different editors' desks at Dorchester. Oh, I also had another manuscript there that my agent submitted. With the good contest news, my agent made a few calls and within a few days I had a three-book contract.

Me: Anything else you'd like to add?

Christie: In June, I also have a humorous non-fiction release, "Wild, Wicked & Wanton: 101 Ways To Love Like You're In A Romance Novel" is a funny self-help relationship book about what a woman can learn from a romance novel. Sure, romance novels offer fun, pure fantasy, but can they actually teach a woman anything about love? Faye Hughes and I believe they do.

Think about it, if a woman spends as much time plotting her romantic relationships as authors did in plotting their romance novels, there would be far less heartache. If real women took their cues from romance heroines, there may be many more real-life Happily Ever Afters. Romance heroines aren't perfect, they make mistakes. But by the end of the book, they've earned their walk into the sunset. How do they do it? Courage, wisdom, and some good ol' kick-ass gumption. Heroines don't wish they'd said something, they say it. They don't fret about their problems; they fix them. And couldn't we all use a little bit of their wisdom to deal with real life and real men?

In the book, our heroine, Jayne, like most romance heroines--and most real life women--has had her share of heartaches. In "Wild, Wicked & Wanton", Jayne's search teaches her: How to recognize a Keeper...and a Creeper, How to tame a Bad Boy, How to trust her instincts, How to find her own Mr. Right. And Much, Much more!

Thank you, Christie, for this great interview!

And thank you, my readers, for your patience while I dealt with silly computer issues and posting this up manually. I appreciate your understanding.

Now, it's your turn, readers, after you've read the interview, post a comment on this post. You never know, you could be the lucky one chosen to have a free autographed copy of Shut Up And Kiss Me.

Have A Terrific Tuesday!

Please Bear With Me...

Hi Everyone,

Today is Christie Craig's interview. I'm having some computer issues, so I beg your patience as I iron out these problems.

Hopefully it's just a temporary glitch. I didn't have this problem with the other emails and I don't know why it's happening now.

Again, I apologize for the delay.