Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wait -- two at once? Are you crazy?

I just might be. Remember what I said yesterday? Well, forget most of it.

The fickle genius that is my muse decided that I'm not, in fact, taking a break from GLOW. Or PAUSE either. Yeah, both ideas are jostling for first position in my brain -- think, two side of a '80s-style teen dance off!

GLOW threw down the gauntlet; Brendan, it's blond, hulking beast of a hero can do a mean breakdance.

Then PAUSE walked to the center of the floor, lead by Rainey, the mom with a chip on her shoulder and dancing shoes on her feet. Zzzzp, Zzzzp -- her Robot stunned the breathless crowd.

But, all was not said and done. GLOW and it's sassy heroine Sundae whipped out a glittery glove and, with a loud 'Sha-mon!', brought the crowd to its knees with an out-of-this-world moonwalk...

All kidding aside, this should be an interesting experiment. Can Amber juggle two very different story lines at the same time? Can my mousy widow Rainey, trapped in a world full of dead humans, compete with licorice-haired Sundae, who is stuck in a paint-by-number life? Can big, blond Brendan Sullivan get along with tall, dark Jonas? I think the answer is yes!

Being able to take a break from one while my batteries recharge and working on the other is going to be amazing! Since each project is so incredibly different, this is really going to help me explore the ideas of finding love while still kicking ass in a sci-fi mystery!

It's amazing the difference a day can make on your perspective. Yesterday, I was in a sour, caustic mood, and today I'm bright as a CFL bulb and rarin' to go. Keep moving forward!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Navigation tools in plain sight

While I check my email for what feels like the 20th time today -- nothing, btw -- let's take some time to talk about what happens when things don't work out like you want them to.

No, this isn't commentary on the struggles to be a professional writer (though I supposed in my current mood, that is an obvious undertone) nor is it a look at life shortcoming in general.

This is about writing, pure and simple.

A few months back, I shared with all of you my own personal joy of finishing my second novel, 'Arcane.' And what a novel it is, too. Too quickly (2 days), I began work on my third novel, the paranormal romance 'Glow.' I'm entering the second month, and I am sad to say I'm losing interest in the thread. 60 + pages in, the story just isn't holding my attention like I'd like it to.

So, dramatic shift in gears! I've taken some time to outline and storyboard my fourth novel -- a daring sci-fi medico-thriller about a widow who must follow in her virologist husband's footsteps to cure the world from a virus-induced stasis. I call it 'Pause.' Still not comfortable giving the web a free preview into the writing or characters, but suffice it to say I've gotten down the first 6 pages of the book with ease, and a little tweeking/editing has put me in good shape to keep moving forward.

Talk about things not working out as I planned them.

Alas, the moral of my super-short post is that taking a moment to re-assess where you are in projects is a great navigation tool for determining where to go next.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go check my email again. Sigh.

PS -- I just wrote a rather scathing review of Dan Brown's newest, 'The Lost Symbol.' on Captivate's Book Break blog. Depending on when you check it, it might not be posted yet, so give it a day and check again. I promise it's worth the read :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

So many questions, so few answers...

'That's an awfully big hammer for a little nail.'

Great quote, huh? My husband said it last night, when trying to explain the way he feels when reading overdone, overworked writing -- don't worry, he wasn't talking about mine :) And, as always, I totally agree with him, but it got me thinking:

When do dropped hints and planted seeds become too much for a reader to take? Where is the line between too much information and not enough?

I'm not sure I have an answer for this question. You've all read my opinions on what a reader wants in a book, and how I try to fulfill that in my writing at every turn. After finishing reading my last book, ARCANE, Jason loved it, which is the great news. He loved the skeleton of the story, the narrative voice I told it in, and the twists and turns I have in store for the reader. Amid all the praise, though, was a deep comment I wasn't expecting:

'How do you know what the reader wants?'

'Simple,' I answered him. 'I know what I like, and I am a great reader. I am my target audience.'

'That's not going to work out all the time,' he rebutted.

'But I detest reading all the back story for a character that doesn't have anything to do with the plot!'

'Sure, I can understand that. But, how many books have you read and hated that millions of other people loved?'

Silence in the car.

'Point taken.'

See, I knew I married him for a reason :) This conversation, in direct association with the opening quote up there, made the wheels on my head spin. I want my book to be a success, I want it to be loved by millions. I want to walk into a Barnes and Noble, see someone picking up a copy of *my* book and reading over the jacket with a smile, then tap them on the shoulder and say, 'I wrote that!'

JK Rowling once said in an interview that she doesn't ever write for her readers, she writes for herself. Wise or foolish? Hmmm... Steph Meyer all but panders to her audience, engaging them in conversations on her blog and message boards. Wise or foolish? Both women are great, in their own ways, and both have fierce stories to tell, if sales are factor into this equation.

So, who's right? Should I worry about pleasing a larger audience with my writing, or should I write the story that I want to write, without breaking off into tangents I don't enjoy as a reader myself?

A few weeks ago, I got an *extremely* detailed analysis of my book from a writer friend of mine who begged me at every opportunity to explain the back story of a particular character. When writing, I found neither the need nor opportunity for this conversation, so I didn't worry about it. But should I? Is this analysis more a temperature gauge of my potential readership than my own gut feeling?

So many questions, so few answers -- ironic, I know, since I spent the last few weeks doing nothing but that.

I think I know what to do. I am going to read my own book. Start to finish. On paper. I'm going to take notes in red pen. I'm going to make it work, and I'm going to make it better.

Doesn't mean it's not great now. But, if I have the opportunity to excel, why shouldn't I? As many have pointed out, it's not over until the pages are printed :)

..... In a side note, I'd like to issue a big thanks to Simon and Schuster for holding the BLOGFEST 2009 event on their blog, which I piggy-backed for the past 2 weeks :) Hope you all enjoyed my answers to the questions, and now know me a little better!

..... Oh, and check out my work blog ( for my new interview with Michael Moore! I had the opportunity to check out his film 'Capitalism: A Love Story' in a pre-release screening last week, so come see my review!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

BLOGFEST 2009: Day 14

Last day for my own personal BLOGFEST 2009! Just to recap, this idea began as a promotional blog from Simon and Schuster, highlighting 40 authors with 14 questions over 2 weeks. I've taken the list of questions, answered them myself and posted them up for you all to enjoy and add your own comments to! Thank you for the email -- they were great!

And now, here is the final question before we go back to you regularly scheduled programming ...

Who are your favorite authors/what are your favorite books?
I don't think if I spent the next hour on this question I would finish it accurately. I love so many books from so many genres, I'm going to leave them out and feel silly later. Better to ask me what I don't like ... OK, here goes ...

What I love: JK Rowling; Steph Meyer's 'The Host' (though it needed to be cut by 100 pages or so); Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse and Harper Connelly series (who knew acne scars could be so hot?); Anne Rice (before she went crazy); Dean Koontz; Sherrilyn Kenyon (thanks for all those dreams, btw) ... Hmmm who else ... Greg Norris (a.k.a. Jo Atkinson, and my dear friend); Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Midsummer's Night'; Calvin and Hobbes comics; DnD authors and their adventures/commentary; 'Memoirs of a Geisha'; medical mysteries, horrors, adventures with twists and turns ... There's more, hang on ... Kathy Reight, whose name I can never spell properly, so I have stopped trying; Tess Gerritson's historical works; the story of 'Pride and Prejudice'; books with good covers (I dare you to argue with me about this) ... Oh! 'Holy Cow' was probably the best travel memoir I've ever read (the only one, too) ...

OK, that's a good taste of some of my preferences. Now, for the other side of the coin.

What I don't love: 'Catcher in the Rye' -- there, I said it; memoirs; anything older than I am, with the exception of Orwell's '1984' and other classic sci-fis I read in high school; monotonous chick lit hat's been done before; the first-person present tense in writing; John Grisham (man can write a great story but just can't end them); sorry ... i hate to admit this, but I didn't like 'Lord of the Rings' -- there is just no urgency!; women's lit, it's just not my thing; 'The Chronicles of Narnia' and other things that make me feel like I'm being preached to ...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

BLOGFEST 2009: Day 13

Is it difficult to get a book published?
Ha. Hahahaha ... Wait -- nope, still a stupid question ... hahahaha!

Please. If it were easy to get a book published, everyone would do it. Of course it's hard! Aside from the daunting prospect of just writing and finishing a book, you have to go out and market yourself to a group of people who really don't want to listen to you. And, it's not their fault -- agents are picky because that's their job! Publishers won't waste money on a no one from no where! Are you out of your mind??

Getting something published it emotionally hard, too. Here is your masterpiece, your work of literary art that you slaved over and edited a hundred times. Your friends love it, your mom loves it ... Yet you hand it off like a first born child to a group of people for their direct and unflinching criticism. Your baby. Torn apart by an editor.

Yeah, that probably doesn't feel great.

However, all of these steps are in the process for a reason: to make sure that when you go to a bookstore, you're getting some great writing; to make sure the people not really interested in writing are weeded out early on. I've said it a hundred times: Keep moving forward. Don't take no for an answer. The people who are published are the ones that really work hard as perfecting their craft -- and they enjoy it.

Look, it's just fact that not everyone is meant to be a writer. You can take all the classes, attend all the seminars and writers conferences you want, but if you just don't have it, you don't have it. I can't hold a tune to save a life. I can't act myself out of a paper bag. Heck, I can't knit a stupid fair-isle sweater or remember the recipe for spaghetti sauce. But, this writing stuff, I'm pretty good at.

Oh, and another thing: If you really love it, don't let anyone (not even me) tell you that you're not good at it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

BLOGFEST 2009: Day 12

If one of your books got banned from somewhere, how would you feel?
In good company. I would be honored if someone read one of my stories and had such a visceral reaction. Of course, I would then be entitled to my own visceral reaction, which would probably entail some very angry blog postings, emails and rants on the state of the country where it was banned. I would exercise my right to be vocal, but I would also lament the lives of the people with nothing better to do than decide for others the material you should read.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

BLOGFEST 2009: Day 11

How do you feel about stuff like sex scenes in books? Inappropriate or okay?
I am 29 years old -- that pretty much solidifies me in the era of 'adulthood,' so I say bring it on! Sex is not only something that everyone does, it's also perfectly natural, ultimately pleasing and totally exciting. It exists in every facet of commercials, TV, movies, ads, books -- you name it, sex sells it -- so why should it not exist in written stories, too?

I don't chock my books full of smut, but come on now. Too many people shy away from sex in books because they think it's too girly, or their puritan minds can't be dirtied by naughty words, or God forbid a high school girl read about a character getting to second base with her 'glorious' vamp -- I mean, boyfriend. Oh, the horror that would wreak on civilized society! Think of all the good girls turned bad!

We need to all grow up and understand that we live in 2009 (almost 2010) and that times have changed from the 1950s buttoned-up sexual repression lingering in some mindsets. Get over it, move on!

BTW, Simon and Schuster, I love how you tried to ease into the issue by adding the 'stuff like' before 'sex scenes' in your question. What is the other 'stuff' to which you are referring? Thanks for proving my point.

That rant off my chest, books are nothing without a good story. If a sex scene doesn't work within that story, then it's foolish to add one in just for some sizzle. I've read plenty of books with not even a kiss, and some with scenes that make me fan myself. A good writer knows when to draw the line and when to indulge a sweet tooth.

Overall, though, I'm always rooting for the heroine and her hero to hook up in the end. Or in the middle and the end. Or, in the beginning, then the middle, then before the climax, then at the end ...