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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Spotlight On Author: Kim Lenox

Happy Thursday Everyone,

I'm delighted to introduce to all of you author Kim Lenox of the Shadow Guard Series. (I've read all 3 that are out -- Night Falls Darkly, So Still The Night, and Darker Than Night).

The first time I ever talked to Kim was when she was giving a talk on writing at an NWHRWA meeting. I approached her with some questions and asked her to sign my copy of Night Falls Darkly. She generously answered the questions and signed my copy.

She is a truly personable, and fun person. She's funny and very encouraging. She also writes really well (I really liked the Ravenmaster idea in the 3rd book, by the way) :-)

Oh, and pssst...please comment and include your email address...Kim might be giving out a signed copy of her book, Night Falls Darkly. If she is doing that, you need to comment on this post with your email address to be in the running to get it!

Anyway, why don't I give you a chance to get to know her yourselves?

Me: Introducing... Kim Lenox!

Kim: Bethany, thank you so much for inviting me to be interviewed on your blog!



Me: Amaranthine is a color and a flower, what made you choose the word for your particular type of immortal for your Shadow Guards Series?


Kim: Yes! You are right – the Amaranth is both a beautiful flower and a lovely, deep shade of purple-red. I don’t see history in black and white, but rather in vivid images and rich tones. Beautiful structures, glittering chandeliers and parks. Gilt scrollwork, green velvet and yes – claret red. History isn’t boring, and this particular word intrigued me. The Greek word, amarantos means “unwithering”. My books draw deeply from ancient mythology, and the Amaranth flower has long (loooooong) been a symbol of immortality. I wanted to use it somehow to distinguish my Immortals.


Me: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who is it and why?


Kim: I love, love, love Selene, the heroine of DARKER THAN NIGHT. She is also a secondary character in both NIGHT FALLS DARKLY and SO STILL THE NIGHT. Because of her history–she’s the daughter of Cleopatra—and because she’s a warrior in her own right, she has a very different personality for a historical heroine. At the same time, I spotted a certain vulnerability in her from the moment she stepped onto the page, one that made me want to see her find happiness. I admire her quirkiness and how ferociously loyal she is to the few people she allows herself to love.


Me: What made you place your stories in Victorian England?


Kim: I’ve always been someone who wants to see what lies beneath, and Victorian era England, and especially London, was a perfect study to dissect. Imagine Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, crammed right up against overcrowded slums and immense misery. Yes, the lives of the people that lived in one or the other were extremely different, black and white, but … their paths and destinies crossed. Throw in some fog, some sexy Immortals and a nasty villain, and this write was in Heaven.


Me: Can you describe what the research process has been like and what's your favorite part?


Kim: I read a lot of old books, newspapers and publications on Google Books, or other websites that have public archives. The more I read and the more notes I take, and my mind starts to see certain interesting patterns. For instance, something I saw when researching the Jack the Ripper crimes (Jack, being the villain in my first book, NIGHT FALLS DARKLY) was the oddities taking place in the weather through 1888 and 1889, and the terrible world disasters that happened in the years just preceding and during that time. I wove those details into the books and gave them meaning.


Me: For Fun: What's one of your favorite movies?


Kim: I love the Batman movies. The Dark Knight rocks!




Me: Has there been a piece of advice that's been particularly helpful to you that you can share?


Kim: My dad always told me not to use credit cards. Oh, wait, you mean writing advice. I’ve had a lot of helpful advice, because writers and the writing community are awesome. I think my main advice would be: To be a writer, you really need to be a reader. I’m amazed at how many people write with the goal of publication, but say they never read books. It’s important to read for many reasons. I dissect scenes that made me sigh and laugh and cry just so I can see how the author makes me feel that way. It’s also important to read current books so you’ll know what sells. I’m not talking about trends, I’m talking about style and flow and pace.

Me: Could you describe the changes in your life since you became a published author, versus an aspiring author?


Kim: The main plus of being published is the confidence it’s given me in my writing. No, I haven’t gotten a big head, and I don’t believe gold spouts from my fingertips, but I write a bit freer now, without obsessing over every syllable.


Me: For Fun: What literary character would you want to meet and why?


Kim: Van Helsing, because I bet he would be super cool, have some great stories to tell and have a great collection of weapons.


Me: What was the hardest part of the writing and publishing process for you?


Kim: The hardest part of writing a book, for me, is always the first draft. Remember those books we used to read when we were teenagers and they offered chapter ending A, B or C, and you got to choose which direction the story would go? My mind is constantly presenting alternative endings to paragraphs and scenes and chapters. There are so many ways a story could go, that sometimes it’s hard for me to decide on the “perfect” direction. I love editing and fleshing out my stories, though. Fun!


Me: Anything else you'd like to add?


Kim: Writers love to hear from readers! If you enjoy a book--tell the writer!


Thanks so much for letting me blog with you Bethany!



Have A Terrific Tuesday All!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Editing An English Teacher, Writing A Witch, And Manifesting A Mermaid

Happy Tuesday Everyone,

Accomplished: Sent back the first round judges' comments to the last of the contestants for my category of the Lone Star Contest.

Working On: I'm making progress on edits for my finished manuscript. Last night did some writing on my witch manuscript and then started one that has a mermaid in it. At first I was having trouble with the witch manuscript, but then it started flowing. So at least the writing/editing is progressing.

Looking Forward To: Still time to sign up for the NWHRWA's Lone Star Conference. It really does look good :-)

What's up with all of you?

Have A Tantalizing Tuesday!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Up To Olympus

Happy Monday All,

Sunday evening I finished reading Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson And The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. After having seen the movie, my husband and I were curious about the series. They're marketed as mid-grade, but I'll tell you what, I think YA and adults will like it, too.

The details are just enough that you get a sense of where you are and what's going on, without slowing down the pace. (And also what people look like).

Greek Mythology is sprinkled (liberally) throughout the book, and it all comes alive through the action and dialogue.

Growing up I was very fascinated by Greek Mythology (I still am). Being a romantic, I really liked Cupid And Psyche; but I also read several of the others. I also listened to a dramatizations of The Odyssey and  King Agamemnon. Lately, I've read some retellings of Greek Myths. I've read Cupid by Julius Lester; I read one that had several retellings, but I can't reember the title of the book.

At first I really liked Aphrodite because of he being the goddess of love, but then I went for Athena because I liked how she often helped people.

If you haven't read these books and you like adventure and Greek myths, I highly recommend it.

I'm playing on reading the 2nd book, The Sea Of Monsters.

Have A Marvelous Monday!

Friday, August 20, 2010

May I Have The Envelope, Please?

Happy Friday All,

Working with the Lone Star Contest (it's the annual contest hosted by NWHRWA) has been quite the experience. As a Category Chair, I have seen some stuff that, while I couldn't give an opinion because I wasn't one of the judges, but a part of me was thinking "I'd like to read this one!"

If you haven't had a chance to help out with a contest, find a niche that fits you and go for it. You get to learn how the critique process goes, some of what happens behind the scenes, and you never know, you might see something awesome.

I'm really excited about when we get to announce the finalists. I'm sure it will be a very positive experience. I can't announce the results here, since things have to be done through the official channels, but I am going to say, it's been one of the parts of the Contest I've really been looking forward to--that is, giving that news to people that their story is going on to the final judges!

Entering a contest is also a good way for those seeking critique to get feedback. Different RWA chapters have them at any given time; so look up and see which chapter is doing what and see what they'll accept in their contests.

Granted, you don't have to help out with or enter contests to learn a lot about this business or even to get published, but it's another side of the writing world.

By the way, if anyone is paying attention to the ticker, there's 1 month, 3 weeks and 6 days left until the Conference. There's still time to sign up. Click here for further info!

Have a great weekend!

Have A Fantastic Friday!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's That Time Again!

Happy Tuesday All,

There is less than 62 days until the NWHRWA's annual Lone Star Conference. In the margins of this blog you'll see a little ticker with a black cat (in honor of one of my characters in a manuscript I'm in the process of writing) telling how long until the Conference and if you click on some of the words below it, they'll take you to the NWHRWA's Conference site.

Some of you might remember how I went on and on about Todd Stone last year. This year, it's 3 agents and Randy Ingermanson of the Snow Flake Method.  Christine Whitthohn from Book Cents Literary Agency is scheduled to speak during lunch. Then, if that wasn't enough to whet your appetite for a writers' conference, there's 2 other agents as well:  Naomi Hackenberg from Elaine P. English, PLLC and Amy Boggs from Donald Maas Literary Agency.

Last year was an incredible experience...with book signings and all kinds of things. I don't know everything that's planned, yet, but it sounds like there will be some book signings this year, too.

If this wasn't enough excitement, I'm in intensive editing. I'm on another round of edits with Surreal and determined to finish in about 10-20 days. I've got about 150 or so pages to go. So, I'm polishing up, trying to get some feedback and get it all prepped just in case it's ready for me by the time of the Conference. I'm not signed up for an appointment with an agent, but, it never hurts to be prepared.

Anyway...who's signing up for the Conference? Come on, you know you know you wanna come...it's just one day...you can make it :-)

Have A Tip-Top Tuesday!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Conference Info Up!

Happy Thursday All,

NWHRWA has the rest of the information up on the upcoming October Conference. Please head over to the page for more information.  Looks like it's gonna be a good one!

Have A Thrilling Thursday!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My New Best Friend

Happy Wednesday All,

Well, my unfinished manuscript is coming along (I'm working on Chapter 4, now), my editing for my finished manuscript is going slowly, but it's moving along.

My reading life has taken off like a shot. I am totally into Shanna Swendson's 4 novels about Katie Chandler (Enchanted, Inc.; Once Upon Stilettos; Damsel Under Stress; Don't Hex With Texas).

Today I start the last one, Don't Hex With Texas.  I'm sad because it's the last book, but happy because there is another one. The last one ends in such a way that you're like "Oh I hope, I hope, I hope x, y, z happens!"

Yes, these books are my new best friends. Since I consider books a friend (I always told people:  "Books will never betray you, unless they end in a way you don't like, they're always there for you and you can always count on them.") Sure, in general, inanimate objects can't exactly give you a hug when needed, or help you pick out an outfit for a special occasion, but sometimes you read something that is good advice, or funny, or gives you an idea for your own life (or story, for that matter).

So, I'm happy to add Shanna Swendson's books to my collection of book friends.

If you haven't read Swendson's novels, and you don't mind fantasy meets chick lit, then please go pick up Enchanted, Inc. and start your own journey with Katie Chandler. I promise, it'll be fun.

Oh and blushing men can be adorable.

And gargoyles driving a car is one of the most hilarious things I've ever read.

Say hi to Sam and Rod for me!

Have A Wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"What's In A Name?"

Happy Tuesday All,


Recently I was watching something and there was a name of a character that made me think the people who chose the name for that particular character didn't realize the implications of said name.


Sometimes we choose names for our characters that don't have any hidden meaning. Sometimes they convey a sense of time and place, and sometimes they give reference to a type of being or a particular character.


For example:  If someone was to choose the name Pandora what would be the first thing that came to your mind? If you've read the Greek Myth about the girl who has this box given to her from the gods and lets out all kinds of creepy things, you'd probably think of that right off the bat. If this is a heroine who is supposed to make people like her, you might want to change the name. Unless you were going for a sense of grim irony.


Names are important. They give a sense of identity, an idea of personality (especially for characters) and they also help your readers know who is who. If we just named everyone Girl and Boy, and you have more than one girl and boy in your story it could get incredibly confusing.


But, also, in choosing a name, it's a good idea to have some idea of what might come to your reader's mind when they see that name.


It's important that when you have a recognizable name and you aren't having the character any kind of relation to that person that you make the character's personality clear.


Another idea, which I've used and it's been recommended is to look up baby names and find their meanings. You can always make that work for you in your own stories.


A name doesn't always define the person's personality, but it can mean something to your reader.


Shakespeare's Juliet said: "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  She was right. A rose wouldn't smell any different if it was called Petaled Thorny Stem, but when people see the name 'Rose' it means something to them. Same with Shakespeare's play. When people heard the names Montague and Capulet it meant different things depending on the character and even to this day, those names make a lot of people think of Shakespeare's play, Romeo & Juliet.


Best wishes to all of you on your writing and reading!


Have A Timeless Tuesday!

Monday, August 9, 2010

EXTRA EXTRA: OPPORTUNITY!

Happy Monday Everybody,

Hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was fun. :-)

I'm reading the 2nd book in Shanna Swendson's series that started with Enchanted, Inc. The 2nd one is Once Upon Stilettos and it's good so far. Chick lit meets fantasy is how I'd describe the series thus far.

Now...onto the reason why I have the blog title I do:

October 16th the NWHRWA is going to have it's annual conference. These are the sort of opportunities authors look/need. So, if you're available, I suggest you go.  The Conference will feature Randy Ingermanson, as well as three agents: 

Naomi Hackenberg from Elaine P. English, PLLC

Amy Boggs from Donald Maass Literary Agency 

Christine Witthohn from Book Cents Literary Agency

I don't have all the details, yet, but it looks like it's shaping up to be a good conference. But once I do, I will be sure to give them.

Anyway, just wanted to alert everyone.

Have A Meritorious Monday!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Need A Good Read?

Happy Tuesday Everybody,

Recently (and I blogged about some of this) I've been digging up some great books to read.

So, I thought, if someone was looking for something to read, I'd give a list of some of the books I've gotten into and/or liked and pass along the information. Sorted by Genre:

YA:

Princess Of Glass by Jessica Day George

Wondrous Strange and Darklight by Lesley Livingston

Contemporary Romance:

Shut Up And Kiss Me by Christie Craig

Time-Travel Romance

One Enchanted Evening by Lynn Kurland

Fantasy

Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson (I haven't as yet finished this one, but it's good so far).

I still need to read Jennifer Scales Novel: Rise Of The Poison Moon by MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi. I've been wanting to read that one for awhile! Based on the set up, it should be a good one. It's been an incredible YA series. Lots of action, paranormal elements and some romance. You just never know what will happen next.

What have you been reading lately?

Have A Terrific Tuesday!