Thursday, December 30, 2010
Worse Than Death
After digging out the last shard of glass from my heel, I stalked through the kitchen and into the living room. Bloody footprints trailing behind me like morbid breadcrumbs. More blood dripped onto the off-white carpet from the knife in my hand.
The stains didn’t matter. Odds were no one was in the house to care—most houses were empty now. The only ones interested in the blood were those who followed me. Fresh blood drew them like flies to honey.
If I’d had shoes left, I could have gone farther without drawing them in. Too bad my last altercation had forced me to choose between my shoes and my life. I’d kicked the sneakers off without a second thought. Anymore, pieces of glass outnumbered blades of grass, even in suburbia—my feet never stood a chance.
Time was something I couldn’t afford to waste, and I prayed luck had brought me to a house with bandages, shoes near my size, and bullets. Bullets would be good. The gun tucked into my jeans didn’t weigh nearly enough for my taste. Filling the clip or finding a new weapon tied in importance with my need for something to cover my bloody feet.
The first door in the hall opened to a bathroom. The peach towels and bright yellow tile screamed of happy times. Times too far in the past to remember without pain.
Then a flash of joy so profound I wanted to kiss someone hit when I found salve and gauze wrap in the medicine cabinet. My feet were covered as quick as I could manage. The bindings weren’t pretty, but they’d hold for a while. I tucked the rest of the salve into my pocket.
A low moaning met my ears through the window I’d cracked open. It might have just been the wind, but as fortunate as I’d been with the bandages, I knew my luck wasn’t that good. There’d been too much blood.
“Move. Find the shoes.” I stood, wincing—the pain somehow more intense now that the blood wasn’t an immediate issue.
I poked my head out of the bathroom, looking both ways and sniffing. Nothing yet. Maybe I had enough time to get out of here. Hell, maybe there was a car in the garage with gas left. No. I couldn’t allow myself the luxury of that much hope.
The next door opened to an office…with a gun safe. I staggered to it and jerked on the handle. It swung open, not latched the last time someone went into it. Too many times, I found them like that. As well as how I found this one inside—empty. Grabbing the guns as a last hope, and maybe never even having the chance to fire them before…
I shook my head hard. There were no guns or ammo. Time to move on.
Opening the third door in my search for shoes, I found something else. The missing shotgun—pointed right at me.
“What are you doing here?” The old man’s voice was steady and strong…and human.
“Oh shit. I didn’t know anyone was here. You have to get out. They’re coming—“
“Get out of my house! I won’t let you lead them to me!” Fire and fever blazed in his eyes and his hands shook, sickness and panic making him jumpy.
He needed my help even more than I needed his. When they came, he wouldn’t stand a chance. “We need to go…” I reached for the gun, and he jerked back, pulling the trigger.
My ears rang with echoes of the gunshot as I stumbled, hand pressed to the hole in my stomach. Blood gushed from the wound with other, more solid pieces of me as I fell. The stench of rotting flesh hit me as I lay in the doorway. Liquid burbled up in my throat as I tried to tell the man to shut the door and hide, but no sound came out.
Eyes wide and clear for a moment, he knelt next to me, his ear close to my face. “What’d you say?”
And then it was too late. The zombies didn’t run, but they didn’t shamble either. The man must have finally smelled them because he tried to move, but with my body in the doorway, they were on him before he even raised the shotgun again.
The screams couldn’t drown out the growls and squelching of their teeth rending his flesh. Then one of them turned and noticed me lying there. Its one remaining eye locked on me, and I knew they wouldn’t pass me over as dead. Like the old man, I’d feel them eating me.
As the zombie stood, I bit my tongue to keep from screaming. With blood filling my mouth, I raised the knife, and slid the blade across my throat.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
If you're new to my stuff or you didn't remember, I'm doing a series for five weeks showing the five stages of grief, each one from the perspective of a different character.
The third stage is bargaining. Only two characters came immediately to mind for this stage. Both characters come from my Blood Kissed series (Of Course I Try, The Ghost of Vampire Present, and future tales), but one of their stories would have greatly spoiled the end game of the series, so the decision was easy. We're sharing another visit with Max, but for this one, we're traveling back in time about a hundred years.
There are certain things they don’t tell you about the military when you sign up. For instance, when you’re in battle, you follow your commanding officer’s orders, even if he’s sending you to your death.
The hardest part about that is simply the knowing.
The machine gun fire ripping through your body follows as a close second.
Lying in a pile of corpses praying for death to take you isn’t too far behind either.
When darkness fell the first night and I still had some strength left, I tried to drag myself back toward the allied lines. My staunch refusal to accept that I was dying lasted until I passed out from the pain, blood filling my mouth from how hard I bit my tongue to keep from screaming.
I woke the next day to more gunfire. Always more.
Only now I’d ground dirt through my shredded uniform and into the wounds that oozed a constant stream of blood. Had I pulled myself into the damnable Somme, at least the blood would’ve run clean again. And I probably would have drowned rather than lying there, waiting for infection or blood loss to take me.
Soon, the smoke and dirt and blood blurred in my sight and images of Lily took over. My wife—standing in the kitchen over a sink full of soap bubbles, sunlight glinting her blond hair as she sloshed water all over her apron and burst into laughter.
That was the moment I realized I couldn’t die. I had to get back to her. Back to the life I’d promised when we’d said “I do.”
As the sounds of fighting quieted a bit and darkness descended again, I began whispering prayers. “God, just let me get home to Lily—let me tell her I love her one more time—and I promise to be a better man. Just let me live.” I didn’t know how long I lay there saying the same things over and over, begging for another chance at life.
Then a lightly accented voice came from right next to me where only the dead had been a moment before. “Will you really do anything to go on living?”
I opened my eyes to a night lit by the glow of the moon and the flash of gunfire. There wasn’t much to see on the ground besides shadows, but a man with long hair completely at odds with current fashion knelt beside me, utterly calm in the madness of the battlefield. “Are you an angel?”
He shifted, and I swore I could hear him smile. “Something like that. What is your name, soldier?”
“Shaw. Sergeant Maxmillian Shaw.”
“A pleasure, and you may call me Remus.” He settled on the ground next to me. “So would you truly do anything to live again? Because I must tell you, you have about five excruciating hours left otherwise.”
I didn’t bother to ponder how he’d come up with the number. “Yes! I want to go home to my wife,” I cried, my voice so weak I didn’t think he could possibly have heard me.
“It is somewhat complicated. I can save you, but you’ll have to spend some time with me before I can send you home.” He leaned closer, the soft blackness of his hair tickling my neck.
“As long as I can see her again. Make her happy.”
Remus laughed and the sound danced in the night like fireflies. “I’m afraid it won’t be quite as simple as you want. You’ll get back to her, but you will never have the life you lived before again. You will have to hide things from her, from everyone you know. Everything will change. Are you certain it’s a sacrifice you can make?”
An icy chill started to seep into my veins, burning its way through my body, and shivers wracked my frame, making every pain flare to life again. And I said what he demanded, even though I knew I’d never lie to her. “I love Lily. Of course, I’ll sacrifice whatever I have to for her.”
“I’ll say this much for you Americans, you have strange ideas about what love means. But so be it—I will save your life.” Fire lit the sky as he threw his head back. And though he may have had the face of an angel—long black hair framing sparkling, intelligent blue eyes—I found myself staring down a demon. His fangs flashed in the light, and before I could say anything, he was on me.
His teeth pierced my flesh, and for a moment new pain blossomed there, and I felt certain it had all been a trick. Some test to get into heaven that I was sure I’d failed. Then, even as I felt my heart slowing, a rich fluid filled my mouth, salty, but sweeter than anything I’d ever tasted. The moment it hit my tongue, the darkness of death retreated, leaving only hunger behind. I latched onto the thing pressed against my lips and drank and drank.
I don’t know how long I stayed there, but with every swallow, the pain lessened, and my strength returned. When at last I opened my eyes once more, I found myself not on the battlefield, but in a cave, the sun casting a circle of light near the entrance. He’d done what he promised—I was whole again. Pushing to my feet, I reached toward the light. Before the glow even touched my skin, the flesh on my fingers erupted in flames. I yanked my hand back, batting the fire away.
“Lesson number one—“ the melodic voice said from behind me, “—daylight is no longer your friend.”
Turning, I found the demon, Remus, in the recesses of the cave. His fangs gone, but the gleam in his eyes the same as I’d seen as I lay dying. And in that moment, I knew I had indeed failed the test, because I’d wakened in hell.
If you've been playing along, you know the deal, but just in case...
In each of the videos, the Decadent Publishing logo will be visible somewhere. If you find it, email the author and tell them where it is to be put in the drawing for a free digital copy of their story (for example, me: firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, Book Matrix Media (who did my author photos, which I love) and Tilvee have donated prizes too! Those logos are each only in one video. If you find either (or both) of those logos, email email@example.com and let her know where they are to be entered for those prizes!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video! Click here--> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMFA6sB7MBk
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Monday: Day off unless something changes (woohoo!) However, Holiday Story Time starts today at Robert's place.
Tuesday: Interview at the blog of the wonderful and funny Deanna Wadsworth(POSTPONED UNTIL NEXT WEEK!). We'll be drinking and laughing and having a good old time. Join us! AND Deanna is also doing her Holiday Story Time today!
Wednesday: I'm going to be at the Harlequin author post-party chat. I'll be popping on periodically from midnight until 10 pm so stop in and say hi :) Also today, PJ is up for Holiday Story Time!
Thursday: It's my day up for Holiday Story Time! There'll be a video of me reading an excerpt from The Ghost of Vampire Present and giving away a copy to one lucky commenter!
Friday: I'm at the Daily Dose of Decadence with ten interesting things about the Blood Kissed series. Also posting my next Friday flash in here (psstt..... it's a Max story, don't miss it!) And, Clarissa is up for the last of the Holiday Story Time videos.
Saturday: I'm on video again and babbling about the holidays over at 13 Wicked Days of Christmas. (Have I mentioned I hate being on camera? I'll probably hide under a rock again until next year LOL.) Another giveaway here of digital copy of either The Ghost of Vampire Present or 'Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas.
Huge and busy week. I hope you are all willing to stick with me and check out all the posts and giveaways! I promise to tone it down for the rest of December ;-)
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Anyway, the long and short of it is I've been sick for about a month now, still fighting this cough, intermittent fever, and other stuff, and it all finally caved in on me this week. I managed to get a couple video blogs done that'll go up before the holidays without any choking fits (WIN!), but other than that and a couple promo things, this week was a wash on me and the blogosphere. Hope you'll forgive me, but odds are I'm just going to use Tuesday Teases to point you to the other places I'm going to be during the week for the rest of December. With the holidays and stuff, I figure that's more than enough keeping up with me for people to do. I'm going to try to get back on the Friday Flash bandwagon next week though so keep an eye out for those on Thursday or Friday.
There is actually a lot of good news though. As I mentioned last week, 'Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas is out AND it is also available in print. And just a couple days ago, The Ghost of Vampire Present came out. Both have gotten reviews already--YAY!
In other Blood Kissed news. I've received the last of the feedback from my alpha reader, so I have what I need to get started on the first round of revisions. The bad news? Until at least a little more of the sickies leave my brain, I'm not sure about tackling them yet. Don't know how long I want to leave them sitting though either. Anyway, it's one step closer to being done, which is a good thing.
So...that should update you on what's going on here. Now I'm off armed with many cough drops to see a movie with my kids.
Friday, December 3, 2010
This year? Now I'm a published author and I need to look at the convention in terms of promo as well as fun and opportunity. I'm slowly gathering some promo items to take with me, but I need more. The thing about promo is everyone's doing it, so I want my stuff to stand out. This is proving more difficult than anticipated since I also need to factor in cost and weight since I'll have to take it all on the plane with me or ship it in advance. So, with that in mind, I'm actually running out of time depending on what I go with.
But I also still need to prepare for pitches, and that means finishing novels not intended for my current publishers. This is harder than it sounds because in my mind I should be on the next Badlands story and doing something else for Evernight and plotting the next Blood Kissed, and that doesn't even take into account my young adult stuff. It's more than a little mind boggling. But I'm hoping to have stuff finished, polished and ready to pitch (especially since I have the experience from last year under my belt).
It's looking like I might be part of a panel this year too, which is huge. It also involves another set of stuff to prep. I'm incredibly geeked about it, so I hope like hell it pans out.
Then there's the fun and games portion of things. Hello? Outfits! Faery Ball, Vampire Ball... I love the madness. I'm on the lookout for bits and pieces to my costumes (still hunting for the perfect corset for the Vampire Ball).
Soooooo much to do and think about, and that's not even taking into account the little things like remembering to bring a power strip so my roommate, PJ Schnyder, and I can both get ready for events at the same time.
Basically what this post boils down to is a heads-up if you plan to attend an event like this. Yes, you can prep for it really quick if you need to, but I recommend putting some thought into things beforehand if you can. Now though? I need to get back to my novel-writing :)
Thursday, December 2, 2010
If you're new to my stuff or you didn't remember, I'm doing a series for five weeks showing the five stages of grief, each one from the perspective of a different character.
The second stage is depression. This was one that I battled choosing a character for because so many of them could fit this at different times. In the end, I decided to go with the best known one: Jocelyn. This takes place immediately after the events in Of Course I Try (available from Decadent Publishing and other online retailers). If you're looking for backstory but don't want to buy, the final scene of OCIT was re-done from Max's point of view in The Cost of Love (my first #FridayFlash) on Danielle LaPaglia's blog
Depression: What Have I Done?
I make it out the door and to my car before the shakes hit me. The keys tumble from my grasp as I try to put them in the ignition, clinking against the steering column before they fall onto the floorboards. Denial takes a breath and screams, “He’s not really dead!” But I know better—I felt his body disintegrate beneath my hands. I don’t get the luxury of pretending.
My eyes turn toward his house—a place that had been my refuge for when the rest of the world became too much. More than the house though, he’d been my savior, my protector, my everything.
“Oh God, what have I done?”
The only bad thing Max had ever really done was hide the truth. He lied. And I hadn’t even given him a chance to explain himself.
The pain and horror choke me, sucking the life from my body more thoroughly than Max ever did. I claw at the door handle, wanting to go back inside, absurdly thinking I can take it back somehow. My body sags against the door, the glass cool on my cheek as I realize I have no right to go back in his home. I’ve betrayed everything it stood for.
I am alone…and it’s my fault.
A sob catches in my throat, I’m too weak to even cry. Light and color are leeched from the world with every breath, bathing me in darkness and despair. I stare at the house, willing it to come back to life, but knowing in my heart it can’t happen. I killed the only man I’ve ever loved, took the very life that gave everything in my life meaning.
With him gone, I want to die too.
Daylight comes and darkness falls, and still I sit and wait. Death is too good for me now.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Here's the thing though. I'm not sending it to her yet.
The only person who has seen more than little snippets of this piece (those are available on the Blood Kissed Facebook page--I'd love it if you liked me there) is my incredibly awesome alpha-reader, Katee. She's been one of my betas since my second novel, and she gets me like no one else. This time she stepped up to the plate and has been reading Kiss of Death in it's most raw form so that once I'm done with the draft, I can revise with a plan in mind. Which means I can get it to the crazy people who are willing to speed-beta for me hopefully by the weekend. And then I can revise again next week and get it to my publisher.
Some of you are probably shaking your heads and saying, "OMG, is she nuts?" To which I answer, "Yes. Yes, I am." I wouldn't normally work like this. My usual course of action is to finish the draft, let it sit for a couple weeks, revise, then if I'm okay with it, send it to betas. As often as not though, I still don't think it's ready for them and I'll let it sit longer and revise again before sending to them. Then, with their feedback in hand, I revise again (maybe more than once). So normally, after the rough is done, it's a minimum of a month before I send it out to agents/editors. Did I mention minimum?
So while I am demonstrating that the usual way doesn't always work (crazy deadlines), my methods are still similar. I'm still doing revise, beta, revise before I send it out, because I don't want people in charge to see something that isn't the best I can make it (in the time allowed).
And you shouldn't either. I know I have readers here who aren't published yet. I know a zillion people did NaNo this year. And what I want to tell you is your stuff is not ready to send. The big-time authors I know who do NaNo don't send their NaNo drafts to their agents/editors, and none of us should either. Every manuscript needs some sort of real critique before it gets sent out, and every manuscript needs revision (beyond spell-check, though that's important too).
Every year agents complain about the amount of unpolished NaNo work they get every December/January. Don't be part of the problem. Revise it until it's shiny. Do your homework on agents and how to query. Do everything you can to make it as perfect as possible.
And for heavens sake, don't follow my example this year. Remember: I'm nuts.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Since that email, I've kept clicking to my inbox, hoping for my cover art to arrive. Wednesday night while I was out to dinner, it did. Can I just say it was worth the wait? She captured the stark feel of the landscape and Ever's calm demeanor perfectly. I know there will be some people who have issues with the lipstick, but I love the way it draws attention to her face. More subtle aspects, like the way her hair fades into the sky almost looking like wispy clouds and the way the Dark Hawk almost glows in the sunlight are just gorgeous. I hope you like it just as much as I do :)
[caption id="attachment_478" align="aligncenter" width="518" caption="Copyright © 2010 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited "][/caption]
Thursday, November 25, 2010
The first stage is denial, and who better to show this than the woman whose dream she gave up her life for was torn away by the very home she left. With that I give you the scene that precipitated my mermaid novel-in-progress, Surrender to the Tides.
From a chair ten feet past the high tide line, Liera watched as waves licked the shore. The salty tang on the breeze brought back memories of seashells and coral reefs and she smiled, wishing she could frolic in the water with Joshua and the kids. Andrew dunked his sister, and Alicia sprang up, water spraying in a cascade as she flipped her long auburn hair. They were glistening, beautiful, like they belonged to the sea. Liera’s lips curled into a smile at the thought.
She turned toward the voice, catching sight of a round little woman waddling up the beach, her salt and pepper hair sprayed so heavily the breeze didn’t touch it. “Sonya, hello.” Brushing herself off, Liera embraced her. “Looks like your arthritis is doing better today.”
Sonya shrugged from her arms. “Better than most. Why are you on the sand again? You should be in the water with your children. They won’t be young forever.”
As much as Liera agreed with her, joining them in the ocean was impossible. “The sea frightens me too much. I don’t want them to live in the shadows of my fear, so I stay here while they have their fun.”
Shielding her eyes from the glare, Sonya frowned. “But you trust them out there? Even though you’re afraid?”
“Joshua’s with them. I know he won’t let—”
The scream turned Liera’s blood to ice. Her head twisted in slow motion as if her spine had frozen in place. She saw them just as the water covered her son’s head and Joshua dove under after him. Alicia was nowhere to be seen. Hand clutching at her heart, Liera staggered toward the surf as a young man--a lifeguard--threw himself into the water.
Liera’s toes crossed the high tide line and curled against the sensation while a battle raged in her head.
It isn’t safe here.
I have to go.
Someone else will save them.
They’re my family.
Not if you go in the water.
The warning didn’t matter. Liera was halfway down the beach before hands grabbed her, hauling her away from ocean that had come an inch from licking her toes. A horrible keening rent the air, like the song of the sirens if heard true. Through her thrashing, Liera vaguely realized it came from her throat. Her lungs.
She remembered feeling water rush into them when they'd formed, the searing pain and pressure as she tumbled in the waves, searching for the surface.
Her body crumpled as the seconds ticked by, the terror replaced by something quieter, something deadlier.
“No. Not my babies.” She shook her head, staring at the crashing waves. “This can’t happen to them. They were born for the sea.”
But you denied them that birthright when you became human, little mermaid. You cost them their gills and flippers.
Liera trembled in Sonya’s arms, trying to banish the inner voice as the old woman rocked her back and forth and slid a hand along her hair.
“No. They aren’t gone. They can’t be gone. They are my children,” She whispered, still staring wide-eyed at the water. “Swim, little mers. Swim for all you’re worth.”
In Liera’s mind, slits formed in her children’s necks, letting the water rush out from their bodies even as scales erupted from their skin, sealing their legs together in long, glorious tails. They weren’t dead. Couldn’t be.
She sighed as certainty took hold. It was simple then. If Joshua couldn’t be saved, she’d return to the sea and find her children. Reject the very wish that had brought them to her and go back from whence she came. A tear caressed her cheek as she thought of Joshua and the years they’d shared. Not nearly enough, but he’d given her the life she’d dreamed of and two beautiful children who even now waited for her in the sea’s depths.
Soon, she would join them. No one would question her disappearance. They’d be a family again and she would introduce Alicia and Andrew to all the wonders of the ocean. They would survive this.
Relaxing in Sonya’s arms, she gazed anew at the water as they head of the young lifeguard broke the surface, seafoam coating his body like glitter. Someone ran into the water toward him, reaching out…
And lifting the limp body of her daughter in his arms.
Her eyes shifted back to the lifeguard, who hauled her son’s still form ashore.
Liera’s screams carried over the surf, touching the ears of the denizens of the sea and making them mourn along with her.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Hi Seleste! It's lovely to visit and chat about writing and life.
In my mind (which is a weird and wonderful twilight zone) I make a distinction between a writer and an author. A writer writes, an author is published. Yet despite having a couple of books digitally published (and short stories and even poems) I still consider myself a writer, not an author. I'm still learning.
A few years ago, I made the decision to write, which to me meant that instead of occasional attacks of scribbling, I'd commit to finishing things. I couldn't control whether an editor would publish my work, but I could finish, polish and submit it. I was scared, but determined.
I still am, though since then I've learned that:
- editors are human, friendly, supportive and funny;
- "writing" isn't some elite activity—it includes blog posts and tweets and comments on friends' blogs and reviews;
- rejection stings, but it doesn't kill you; and,
- there's a wonderful online community of writers and readers and it's fun to join in.
But has being a writer changed me?
Do you know the single biggest, most ridiculous change is that I can now tell a joke—and people laugh. Before I challenged myself to write, I used to mess up jokes. I'd stutter, stuff the pacing and forget the punchline. But with repeated attempts to create my own stories, I learned to recognise and memorise the key points of other people's stories, their jokes. Amazing.
Writing really is a craft. There's no shortcuts. Just practice. Butt-in-chair and write. Read, too. Maybe one day I'll even consider myself an author ;)
[caption id="attachment_449" align="alignleft" width="291" caption="Copyright ©2010 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited"][/caption]
Angel Thief, releases Nov 29, from Carina Press
She’s breaking the rules. Again.
An archivist in the heavenly library, Sara must follow protocol when it comes to curating the knowledge of the universe. But "liberating" an ancient text from the collection of a human—an Australian drug lord—could save a boy’s life. Sara has no way of knowing that one of the man’s other treasures is a sexy-as-sin djinni, bound by a wish to guard the estate.
He’s only following orders.
Filip is compelled to turn over intruders, even celestial ones, to his master. When he catches Sara in the library, he isn’t above indulging in some sensual kisses with her, or using her to trick the mobster into wasting a wish. It’s what he must do to preserve his facade of freedom and protect his heart.
But the kidnapping of the drug lord’s daughter forces Sara and Filip to work together—bringing out the hero that lurks within the soul of the djinni, and the passion within the angel.
You can find Jenny:
at her website http://www.authorjennyschwartz.com/
or on Twitter @Jenny_Schwartz http://twitter.com/jenny_schwartz
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Also, I'm going to be doing a kind of crazed blog tour in the first half of December.
On December 1 I'm at Romance Author Hotspot, then I might have some time off (lol, it won't last, so check back for updates)
December 3 'Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas releases
December 8 We're having a party to celebrate the release of the anthology at the Book Boost. Lots of prizes and fun will be had! (I also have my monthly post at the Para-Posse that day, so make sure you stop by!)
December 12 I'm doing a holiday post at Decadent's holiday blog. Again...prizes!
December 14 The fabulous and funny Deanna Wadsworth is interviewing me over at her blog. We met last year at RT and the two of us always have fun with each other.
December 15 I'm at the eHarlequin Open House, specifically the Carina Press post party. It's an opportunity to meet lots of current and upcoming Carina Press authors, so please pop in sometime during the day
December 16 is the day I will be doing my Holiday Storytime! There will be video of me reading from The Ghost of Vampire Present. For those of you who know me, you are aware getting me on video doesn't happen very often. There are also prizes with this, one every day from Decadent Publishing, and a couple extras from Tilve and Book Matrix Media. Make sure you check out all my friends' vlogs this week too.
December 17 I'll be on the Decadent blog sharing some interesting things about me or Blood Kissed (I haven't decided yet)
December 20 I'm scheduled for an interview with Got Romance
AND I'm planning a short holiday story for one of my characters at Got Romance (date TBD) and an interview with Wicked Little Pixie (date TBD). After all that I might just sleep for a while. In case it isn't clear, all of this means my REGULAR blogging isn't going to happen unless the mood strikes. Hope you'll join me for the blog hop!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Because I don't want to split my energies (or confuse my new #FridayFlash friends), I'm not separating the YA from the adult stuff. It'll all go here. This week I'm focusing on Elle, one of my teen characters. This would be between books one and two of the series (maybe later, but for now, I'd say there).
All We Knew
The air hits my back, pushing against me unevenly and I tumble. My lungs burn as I struggle to breathe. There is nothing around me but the darkness, I only know down because I feel the pressure as I fall. My heart thuds in my chest, terror taking hold.
I reach out, grasping for something—anything—to slow my descent. Hopeful fingers brush against flesh that is not mine, and I latch onto you. Without warning, you pull me in and wrap me in your warm embrace, sheltering me from the biting air. With you there is light. Looking into your eyes, I see friendship…love…hope…
In your arms, the fear evaporates; here I am strong. Everything else disappears into the darkness, leaving only us and the falling. Your touch draws out pieces of me better kept hidden, but in your light they are beautiful.
Then the darkness grabs hold of you, wrenching you from my grasp. I scream your name as you fade into the black.
My arms are empty and the air buffets my body once more, all pretense of safety gone.
All we knew was falling.
And now I fall alone.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
A Simple, Sacred Life
I wanted to write about my stepfather's novel The Temple of the Heart, but I didn't know where to begin. So I decided that the best route would be to take on something huge, something we all have to deal with, like the meaning of life. What is all this for? There are many answers out there. Everyone must find their own. I can only say what life means to me. To me, it is a sacred personal spiritual journey. I did not always think so.
The universe must know that I enjoy theatrical drama, because it sent me an epiphany in a most dramatic fashion. I was walking down a street in San Francisco, fooling myself into false contentment with a lifestyle that was ultimately unfulfilling. The sky was cloudy. I had arrived before daybreak and found myself walking down a steep hill. All of a sudden, the sun came up over the clouds and struck me with the force of the divine. It was the sort of thing I thought only happened in novel or movies - or maybe to the really fortunate. It was the first and only epiphany I have ever had in my life.
I have come to realize that the media, and society in general, teaches us some very harmful philosophies. Fashion magazines and television ads show young women in their formative years that they are not good enough. We are taught to measure success by wealth in America, and we neglect our souls, caught up in the struggle as capitalism leeches our humanity. Last night I was in the martial arts studio, reflecting on the psychological challenges of begin a female martial artist, of wondering how people will see me (overly agressive? weird?) because I too have been programmed over the years in ways that I struggle to comprehend. My reawakening of spirit has seemed a long time coming.
Without my stepfather's spiritual guidance from the age of nineteen on, my young adult years were subject to the unholy influences of a very misguided world. Grief made things immeasurably harder as I struggled for identity and inner peace. My kind stepfather was Richard Albert Anderson, a man of many talents. He was - at various times throughout his life - a Navy man, an art teacher, a state worker, and a Buddhist monk. But beyond his personal background, he was a shining, noble soul - one of those brilliant shooting stars that blazed across the sky and faded all too soon.
He wrote The Temple of the Heart, a semi-autobiographical tale about leaving the monastery to pursue life in all its richness and glory. In dealing with this crazy world, reading it reminds me of my spirit, of the strength of noble compassion and trying your best. Reading his work reminds me not to neglect my soul.
My stepfather's manuscript is now available from Decadent Publishing, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the American Diabetes Association.
When Joseph Banquo saw that girl come through the gate, it was the end of his life in the monastery.
He had seen her years before in a more innocent time and silently had cast his furtive glance. Now she appeared again. Dressed in a sky-blue sari, she stood by the water on a trellised landing, absorbed in her thoughts. Joseph found himself absorbed in her. Smiling coquettishly, she turned to walk away upon catching his stare and it seemed as if Divine Mother Beauty herself had taken human form. If only he could talk to her, but he was too shy, too hung-up with austerity and discipline, rules and monkish restraint.
What delusion is this? It was a burning desire but seemed so much more, and he wouldn’t admit the power of the physical over the spiritual.
She was forbidden, woman oh woman, but he had begun to notice the female form once more, to not turn his eyes away, to see the languid curve of the supple spine. And the outrush of thoughts after two youthful celibate years had caused him to lose his edge—the wisdom and discrimination that protects the monk. In making progress, in overcoming his strong sexuality, he had relaxed, thinking he had won and that was the end because he found that he no longer had the desire to fight.
Buy from Decadent
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Saturday, November 13, 2010
Okay, now that I've teased you with something that won't be out until December 3, I have a new story available free...right now. As you know, Danielle LaPaglia shared her flash fiction with us on Tuesday (if you haven't read it, check it out), and yesterday I was on her blog. "More Max" has been something I've heard since Of Course I Try came out. "The Cost of Love" is my answer to that plea. WARNING: If you haven't read Of Course I Try, this story is very spoilerish. Proceed with that in mind. (Click here to read "The Cost of Love")
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Anyway, Danielle LaPaglia, one of my fellow Rebels from writing group is honoring us not only with the pleasure of her beautiful company, but also with an excerpt from her erotic story Should Have Said No. Danielle is a master of flash fiction, specializing in horror, and her series on the seven deadly sins isn't to be missed. She participates in Friday Flash every week, and this Friday is being kind enough to allow me to post a piece of flash that will be recognizable to anyone who has read Of Course I Try (those of you who wanted more Max, he'll be there). Please check out her flash fiction on her blog and follow her on Twitter. She's funny and brilliant, and a little scary sometimes (but only in the best way). Without further ado, here is her excerpt from Should Have Said No.
REMINDER! NO ONE UNDER 18 PERMITTED BEYOND THIS POINT!
Should Have Said No – Excerpt – by Danielle La Paglia
It was painfully clear that she wasn’t getting back to sleep so she tossed the blanket aside and went to wash her face. Her long hair pulled back in a low-ponytail, she slipped on her sports bra, shorts and running shoes. The beach was only two blocks down; a morning run was just the thing to clear her mind. She chugged a half a Gatorade from the fridge, stretched and headed out the door, not bothering to leave a note.
The street was quiet, the air cool against her skin, but the run would warm her in no time. A wide sidewalk stretched between multi-million dollar homes and the open beach. She turned South, toward Balboa, and took off. Later in the day this same stretch would be crammed with bicycles and roller-bladers, but for now she was alone. A few surfers waited in the water, but the beach was deserted. Pale light edged brighter between the homes on her left, turning the sky a beautiful pale blue as it pushed back the twilight.
A light sweat broke across her skin, cooled by the breeze coming off the ocean. She ran, not thinking about the man from the bar last night, or her heart-broken friend passed out in her room. She concentrated on the rhythm of each step slapping against the sidewalk, each breath passing in and out. Everything faded, the houses on her left, the ocean on her right; it was her and the pavement and nothing else. Forty minutes later, she was standing beneath a stream of hot water. It poured over her skin the way his gaze had the night before. She closed her eyes and saw him again, standing confident and gorgeous before her. Instead of reaching for the chair, this time he reached for her. His fingertips trailed across her skin.
Mimicking her vision, she smoothed her hand across her body, up her arm, across her shoulder and down to cup one breast. Despite the heat of the shower, her nipple was a hard bud. She rolled it between her finger and thumb, teasing it. Her other hand trailed lower, gliding across her stomach and down between her legs. She parted them slightly, allowing better access for her finger to slip between the soft folds.
Her breath caught. She squeezed her nipple almost to the point of pain, and drove her finger inside, imagining it was him, the beautiful stranger from the bar. She could almost feel his breath on her neck, his cheek against hers. Her movements became more rapid, urgent with the need to climax. It built inside; she slid her finger up, circling her clit again and again. A white heat burst between her legs, flooding through her core and into her limbs. She bit her lip to keep from crying out.
The sensation ebbed; her muscles relaxed and she gave a final stroke, sending a last jolt through her nerves. One hand on the wall, she leaned into the spray. It poured down her scalp, caressing her tingling flesh before disappearing in the drain.
Danielle is an urban fantasy junkie whose favorite fix comes from the likes of Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, and Patricia Briggs. She writes horror of every kind: ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and even monsters of the human variety. She is a member of Kelley Armstrong’s online writing group and participates in #fridayflash on Twitter where she posts weekly flash fiction on her blog. She is completing edits on her first novel, The Watchers, and is hard at work outlining her next urban fantasy project. Danielle is also the last Jedi warrior to study under the nearly extinct Scotnadian Yoda.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Sometime in September, I saw a call for an anthology with a new digital publisher. I was working on The Ghost of Vampire Present at the time and working on the idea for my NaNo project, but I looked at my calendar and wondered if I didn't have time to put something together for this one too. The people who have been following my craziness on twitter or facebook know I stayed busy right up until NaNo started on November 1. I literally took Halloween off, finishing my outline the night before.
But I didn't really take Halloween off. You see, in those couple weeks between finishing The Ghost of Vampire Present and starting on Kiss of Death for NaNo, I penned and submitted a little story called Yes, Alana, There Is a Santa Claus. I received my first round of edits from Evernight Publishing on Halloween and made sure I got them in before NaNo actually started at midnight. The story will be part of their upcoming erotica/erotic romance anthology 'Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas.
The only sad part is I don't have a cover or release date to share yet. Trust me, when I do I'll be sure to post. Which leads me to announcement number two...
I've finally realized that trying to blog three times a week per blog is killing me. Even with throwing in "easy" blogs, I'm just stretching myself too thin and it's making me enjoy it less. So, Thirsty Thursdays are gone and won't be replaced. My "official" blog days here will be Tuesdays and Saturdays, saving the occasional Thursday for when I have announcements that won't fit (due to guests or planned posts) on the other days. I hope you weren't just here for the drink recipes and will come back for whatever I give you the other days.
And I hope you'll keep an eye out for 'Twas a Dark and Delicious Christmas!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
6 oz. Red Bull (I used diet, just because)
1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. blue curacao
Fill an old-fashioned glass 1/2 way with Red Bull. Separately, fill a shot glass 1/2 with vodka, 1/2 with blue curacao. Drop shot glass in the other glass and shoot.
Okay, I'm bad about reading directions. I just mixed everything in a glass and added ice.
Me: First it is a really pretty emerald green color, and I am a fan of pretty drinks. What's more is this isn't half bad. It has a very tart fruity taste (mind you I've never had Red Bull before, so maybe that's all I'm tasting). I could definitely sit back and enjoy this sometime when I need to stay awake (hoping it helps for that at least). 8/10
Hubs: Tastes kind of like the off-minty medicine the doctor used to give you as a kid with zero kick. It'd be better if it had more alcohol. 6/10
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Over the past few months, I've gotten to know some of these wonderful people via the magic of Twitter, and I'm luck enough to have one of my favorites here today. I hope everyone will make Natasha, aka Wicked Little Pixie, feel welcome. If you don't, I give her free rein to beat you with her snark-stick.
Hey Nat! Welcome to Ramblings and Romance. I'm pretty sure anyone reading knows what you do, but could you give us some rough estimates of how much you read in a given month? (include a comment on DNFs if you are so inclined)
This is the first year I’ve actually kept track of how much I read, as of almost the end of October I’ve read 155 books. (http://wickedlilpixie.com/2010-reading-challenge/ ) I read fast if the book draws me in, so some months I read a lot faster and some months are slower. That is not including the DNF’s I’ve “read” this year. Let me tell you, DNF’s are really hard for me. I feel guilty when I can’t finish a book believe it or not. I know how much work goes into writing a book, but I can’t help personal preference.
God I need a life.
Oh my God, that number is even bigger than I would have imagined, and you do interviews too. Don't you have a day job? How do you find time for it all?
Interviews take a lot more time in my case then it takes to write a review. I think it’s a must to research the author before the interview, god knows I wouldn’t want to answer the same questions 100 times. I try to make each interview unique for the author and if I “know” the author, I can usually get away with some snark back and forth which I love. Those really have been my favorite interviews, where I can get a rapport with an author & it’s not just standard or strained.
As for time, I got laid off months back, so this has been a way to keep my brain going while I decide where I want to go next career wise. I always thought I was going to end up in Forensics, after 3 years of college my brain said no thanks & I drifted for awhile in a few different careers. Now I finally know what I want to do with my life. *queue choir music singing Hallelujah*
Er...sorry about the lay off but Woohoo for knowing what you want to do with your life. So does that mean I shouldn't pester you about reviewing everything I have coming out over the next few months?
Not unless you want me to snark you in public ;) Lay off lady. LAY OFF!
Speaking of authors (because this question isn't about giving me ways to annoy you…nope, not at all), what are some things authors do that really irritate you as a reviewer?
I do have a few requirements before I even agree. First, my biggest pet peeve is when an author sends me a blind email without asking if I’d like to review the book. You’d be surprised how many times I get an email that’s an obvious mass email & they don’t register me as a person, more like a machine. Drives me insane, please just say Hello my name is, it takes two seconds to look on my site and find my name!
My other issue is when an author goes to my site, gets my email address, but doesn’t read what books I don’t review. Sorry, Historical Erotica just isn’t for me. And if you want the book reviewed in a certain period of time, say so when I ask and not constantly send me emails to see if I’ve read it yet! UGH.
Another thing that has been bothering me lately is the lack of line between personal life & author on Twitter. I’ve noticed some authors think its okay to rant & go uber personal all over social media. Some things I just don’t want to know, especially sexual things *shudder* Okay, I just scared myself all over again. I’ve seen way too much on Twitter I tell you, WAY TOO MUCH! My virginal eyes, they burn.
Okay, okay, no more talk of what melts in your mouth and not in your hands then. Anyway...With as busy as you are, it's got to be overwhelming sometimes. What can authors do to make it easier on you?
Don’t be demanding, it takes time for us bloggers to read a book & review it. We all have lives outside of blogging, family, friends, careers, health concerns, family concerns, bills, just real life issues that sometimes take up time. Most of us don’t make a dime doing this & while “free” books are great, a lot of time & effort is needed to do a review.
So patience is needed, but also be friendly! I love when I get an email from an author who I’ve never spoken to who says thank you for reviewing their book; it makes me feel like I am doing something other then talking to myself.
And god forbid, if I never reply to an email or my brain dumps & I forget to review your book…an email saying “hey, did you forget about me?” is fine, just don’t yell at me please. My TBR pile is trying to kill me in my sleep, while my email is trying to blind me during the day. I’m human, I forget sometimes.
Make a wish for the next book to come through your door. What would it be like?
Right now I am obsessed with Vicki Pettersson’s Zodiac Series. If someone’s written something similar, I’d cry tears of joy. I’m really on a darker UF kick, but I am always up for something snarky that makes me laugh.
Believe me, if I had one, I'd send it your way. Well, no I guess I wouldn't because you just told me not to. *sigh* There's just no pleasing you, is there?
Speed Round (Because I couldn’t let you get away without doing this. If you could only pick one of the following, which would it be?)
Booze or Food? Food (or coffee..mmm coffee)
Cursing or Reading? Reading whilst cursing?
Sex or Violence? Sex or I’d become violent.
Snark or Sleep? I’ve been told I snark in my sleep.
Spaz or Me? (Wait! No. Don't answer that one :P) A Spaz (Pam) & Seleste sandwich?
Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
Umm. Love, peace & hair grease? Sorry, I’m having a weird Soul Train remixed in Pixie’s head moment. My brain is a weird place.
Thank you so much for stopping by, and I promise next time I'm in Toronto, you are tops on my list of people to visit (and I will keep stalking you on Twitter in the meantime) :)
For those of you who want to follow Natasha, and you know you do, she can be found at the Wicked Little Pixie blog, on Facebook, and Twitter. She's awesomely snarktastic and a whole lot of fun to be around.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
I just hope they still want it when it's done LOL.
But in the meantime, I'm doing my best not to freak out about the numbers. I'm trying not to think about all the days my kids have off school in November, or the pre-holiday shopping, or the revisions that I know will be hitting my inbox during the month. Nope. I'm just focusing on the story and the new characters I'm dying to write. I still have a little bit of "casting" to do in order to appease the visual side of my nature, and I want to flesh out some sections of the plot more. But I can't wait to tell this story. So that's where my energy is at least for now. There will be time for panic later.
In the meantime, Ellen Keener interviewed me for her blog. Twenty questions, people! Please read the post so I don't think I spent all the time answering them in vain. K? Thanks.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
3 oz. Bacardi (it called for Limon, but we don't drink enough rum to buy a special one for this so we used the gold we had on hand)
1 0z. Blue Curacao
4 oz. Mt. Dew
Mix in a highball glass (I did ours over ice)
Hubs: (Pardon my spelling) Blargh! He didn't even want to taste it since it smelled so heavily of rum.
Me: The color was gorgeous as it ended up kind of a teal green. WAY too much rum though; it was pretty disgusting.
After adding more Dew, we still weren't fans as it just tasted medicinal. If you really like rum, you might like this drink, and maybe it would have been better with the flavored rum, but this was a MAJOR thumbs down from us.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
From the moment I decided to do it, I had help with everything from picking out a wardrobe to calming my nerves. They even managed to talk me into doing a video interview, which scared the shit out of me, but I saw the usefulness of it. And the promises to make me look good helped a lot LOL.
The photo shoot was amazing. I don't do so well in the heat and as luck would have it, we were a couple days before Vegas cooled off for fall. It was a hundred degrees out and I was dressed in black (this is not the fault of BMM, but my own stupidity). But we started off as much in the shade as we could manage for the headshots. I will say, I got a bit more nervous during this portion because I had a very difficult time making my face do the things the photographer wanted (I've never in my life practiced control over my facial muscles. I get smile and frown and whatnot, but subtleties escape me).
Then it was time for an outfit change and I never thought I'd be so happy to slide off my jeans and put on a skirt and heels LOL. This is where the fun really started. We were going for kind of an urban fantasy vibe for these shots and I got to get in character and play. There was still a lot of posing involved, but it was a lot easier. Other than being kind of hungry (and hot), by the time we were done, I didn't want to stop.
And then the photos came.
They didn't manage to make me lose fifty pounds, so I'm not going to pretend that happens, but
I love these pictures! I'm not sharing all of them right away. They'll probably come out piecemeal with interviews and such, but I wanted to start using at least one right away. And since it's almost Halloween, I figured what better choice than the most in character shot we went with.
Also, as some of you know, my steampunk/alt-history novella, Badlands, is coming out in February. I was recently invited to Scathach Publishing's blog to talk steampunk. I'm hoping some of you will join me over there today and see what I have to say about the genre.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Last week I sent it off, and I can now announce that not only did Decadent pick it up, they already have a fabulous cover for it!
Isn't it beautiful???
And if you notice on the abs of hot guy on the left, it says "A Blood Kissed Story". That's right, this is part of a series, specifically the one that started with Of Course I Try. I know those two covers don't match completely, but OCIT wasn't actually planned as part of a series, so I wasn't thinking that way when I talked to the publisher about cover art. With The Ghost of Vampire Present I wanted to have something we could carry on as the series continued, and this definitely fits the bill.
The Ghost of Vampire Present takes place the Christmas after the events in Of Course I Try and introduces a new character as well as bringing back a couple who only had tiny roles in the first story. For those wondering about the cover, yes, that is our girl Jocelyn front and center. As for the men behind her? You're just going to have to read to find out.
I don't have a release date yet, but I'm under the assumption it will be prior to the holidays. For those of you on facebook and wanting an easy way to stay caught up with any news regarding the series (including that release date), there is a new page for the series, so if you're so inclined, please "like" Blood Kissed.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
1 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Rum
1 oz. Midori Melon Liquer
Mix rum, vodka & Midori in a shaker. Pour over ice. Fill with lemonade & garnish with a cherry.
Review: Hubs said it had a light fruity taste with a kick that hit about a minute later in a very nice way. Made him want to give up his beer for the night. (9/10)
For me I think it had a little too much rum. I'm very sensitive to the flavor of rum and to me it overpowered the rest of the drink, so if I made it again (and I probably will) I'd go 1.5 oz of vodka and 0.5 oz rum (either that or make it bigger and just add more vodka and Midori). It's a gorgeous lime green color though and still quite tasty even with the extra rum. (8/10)
Looks-wise, it would make a fabulous Halloween punch... as long as no one's driving home.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I know I don't normally post on Wednesdays, but I just wanted to let you know that Got Romance Reviews has an interview with our very own Maxmillian Shaw! (That's Max for those of you scratching your heads right now.)
Stop by and say hello, or in some people's cases (*cough* Janelle *cough*) flirt. He'll be there all day :)
In other news, I wanted to help give people a heads up. 1RomanceEBooks is about to become 1PlaceforRomance. Always good to keep tabs and bookmarks current for our online retailers :)
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
(Blurb from Decadent Publishing's website)
When Alexa took a job in Ireland searching for the lost O'Shea treasure, she had no idea what she signing up for. Between vivid dreams, ghosts, and the old Irish legend that surrounds the castle, she is overwhelmed.
When she finds out the man she's been working so closely with is actually the heir to the O'Shea fortune, she is upset that once again a man has surrounded her with lies. Their relationship is further tested when a friend from the United States comes for a visit and Liam believes she's been telling her own tales.
Will their love prevail? Will Alexa find the missing treasure and discover her heart's desire?
Welcome to Ramblings and Romance, Kelly. Thanks for being here! Reading the blurb for The Legacy Keeper's Treasure, it kind of sounds more contemporary than paranormal. Do the ghosts and the legend have a bigger part to play than it sounds like?
Yes, the legend itself plays a huge role in the story and the dreams Alexa has. You come to know a lot about the ghost, too.
As most people know, I have mad love for fictional men. Tell me a little more about your hero, Liam. What would make me fall for him?
Liam is that guy who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The guy who would do anything for you. He’s humble, despite his wealthy background, and falling in love with him is easy!
Let's talk a little about your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Are there any things (place, time, etc) that you prefer for writing?
I’m definitely a fly by the seat of my pants girl. I have tried plotting things out, and I end up going in a million other directions anyway. So I sit down and write as I go. I prefer having music in the background, and I can write just about anywhere though I love my comfy, worn out computer chair in my living room while the kids are nestled upstairs in bed.
What about your characters? Do you keep your images just in your head or do you find physical pictures to go with how you see them?
I definitely have an idea in my head of how my characters look. Then I’m not satisfied until I find a picture of someone who suits. One of the first cover options I was given had a guy and girl on it, but the girl just wasn’t my Alexa so we eliminated her and the cover that was chosen just had Liam and the castle!
Now that you've been through it once, what are your favorite and least favorite parts of the process of getting a book out there for people to read? Why?
I think I was very lucky in finding a publishing company that allows its authors to be so hands-on. I enjoyed being able to choose my own cover, and having major input in the editing process. My least favorite part was editing, to have some of my story chopped away, and knuckling down to write new stuff on a time schedule. Now that my book is out there, self promotion has been my hardest challenge.
What book have you read recently and loved so much you wished you'd written it?
I haven’t really done too much reading lately. Currently finishing up Samantha Gail’s Sentinels of Redemption and next on the list to read is Moon Sworn by Keri Arthur.
Name some authors who inspire you.
Nora Roberts, Stephenie Meyer, Charlaine Harris, Rachel Caine, and Kerrelyn Sparks to name a few of my favorites.
Angels, Demons, or Fairies?
Roses: red, pink or white?
None of the above, give me Calla Lillies any day or if I have to choose a rose, I like orange ones!
Rock, pop, country, or hip-hop?
Yes, Yes, Yes, and oh Yes!
Leather or lace (for you, not your man :P) ?
On the beach or by the fire?
By The Fire
Anything else you'd like to share with my readers?
Never give up on your dreams. Always follow through when you start something. And, treat others how you wish to be treated!
Thanks again for joining me today, Kelly!
And readers, if you want to know more about Kelly and her projects, please visit her blog.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Right now, I have contracts with two publishers. If everything goes right, it'll be three before the end of the year. I'm working on series for the first two. Let's start by quietly understanding that—I am a brand new author and I'm working on two series for two publishers. They aren't going to care about each other's timelines, and if my stories sell, they are going to care about getting more from me.
This is a mixed blessing. Yay—they want more! Boo—somehow I have to be the one who figures out how to balance everything. If I had years in the business, I might have all the tools at my disposal to accomplish that, as is…I'm winging it.
So far, I'm not doing too badly, but a few weeks ago I looked at the calendar and realized National Novel Writing Month was right around the corner. I sat for a full ten minutes staring at the calendar with one thought in mind: which project do I work on (ie—which publisher is going to get something first)? In the time since then, I've struggled to stay focused on anything because I kept changing my mind.
Last weekend, while working on two very sex-heavy holiday stories, I decided to go with the much less erotic option for NaNo. I sat back and breathed a sigh of relief, convinced my internal stabilizer would get back online finally.
Then the other publisher held out a carrot to its authors. A fairly impressive carrot.
My internal stabilizer went haywire again and options started flying through my head. Buh-bye Focus.
After a few conversations with the publisher in question, the real insanity set in. You see, while I'm pretty sure I'll get my 50k in November (I haven't lost NaNo yet), I'm not certain I'll finish that novel in time for the carrot. I'm definitely going to try, but since I'm not positive and I really want that carrot, I'm also initiating Plan B.
Plan B involves taking a novel that I'd trunked a while ago and shining it up. Before November. You know, those eighteen days when I'm also supposed to be editing and submitting those two holiday stories?
Yeah. I'm pretty sure I've completely lost it. Oddly enough, I feel good about the decision. It's not because I work best under pressure (sometimes I do, but not often enough to claim it). I think in this particular case it's just because I'm not fighting the pull of the madness. (And because I know come December, I'm free and clear to work on the other project, which might not have been long enough for NaNo anyway.)
Stabilizer is momentarily working fine. Now if I could just figure out this navigation thing, I'd be all set.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Red Dragon's Breath
1 oz. Hot Damn cinnamon schnapps
1 oz. Whiskey
Mix in shot glass and serve.
Review: Okay, so the consensus on this one (between hubs and I both) is it tastes like Hot Damn that's gone funky. Not bad, per se, but funky. *shrug*
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
First off I wanted to thank Seleste for having me stop by. Thanks!!! I’ve only guest blogged once before, so I’m very excited. I wanted to share a little about what had shaped my writing life, so here it goes:
In my humble (ok it’s not humble) opinion, those are the major things that have shaped my life. If I didn’t like to read, I wouldn’t write, if I didn’t ride I wouldn’t have the ideas I have today, and if I didn’t write I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I hated to read when I was very young. I can’t really remember why, but I suspect it was hard for me. Then one fateful summer my best friend stayed with us instead of going to daycare while her mother worked. Naturally that was the summer that we decided we hated each other. In retrospect that was very important, because that’s the summer she learned to love to read. She didn’t really have anything else to do because I was being an ass. Of course once school started we were best friends again. She shared her newly discovered love of reading with me. This was the third grade and I started reading voraciously. I have never stopped.
I’ve been in love with horses since I can remember. Most of my childhood favorites involved horses: The Black Stallion, The Saddle Club, any fantasy where the characters rode horses, even things like Steinbeck’s The Red Pony. I don’t remember a lot of that book, but I do remember it really didn’t seem like a kids’ book, but it had a horse so I read it anyway.
I also loved to ride. Ever since I was tall/old enough to go on pony rides my parents would do their best to get me on horses. Once I was big enough to take lessons, they scraped together the cash to get me instruction. The place I rode did lessons by quarters, and I could only afford to ride once a year, but I took lessons as much as I could until I got to high school. There, I was too busy with track and science Olympiad and my interest in horses waned a little. I had this vague feeling that if I could ride every week all year I could really get somewhere with my riding, but I knew it wasn’t possible and a slight sense of frustration, combined with school kept me from begging for lessons when my parents wanted me to stop.
Through this whole time I wrote. Nothing serious, and very intermittently, but I always liked to tell stories. My friends and I had a play we were writing, something silly and with star wars characters, but that was a lot of fun. I also loved it at sleepovers when we would tell serial stories, each person picking up where the others ended. Of course mine usually involved killer Portuguese Men of War. I have no frigging idea why.
Things started to come together in the sixth grade when one of my reading teachers, Ms. Fox, said those fateful words: “Julie, someday you are going to be a writer.” I thought she was full of it at the time, and it took six more years, but suddenly the bug bit me, and it hasn’t let go since then.
I moved to Colorado and suddenly there were horses everywhere. I was dying. All these horses and I couldn’t ride. I was a college student, lessons were out of the question. I know I could have worked more than one job to make it happen but with the amount of homework I had, that wasn’t a good option. I went silently nuts until one day I said something to the right person and the next set of fateful words were spoken: “Hey, I have a friend…” And so I met Fran. I rode with Fran, learning a ton from her, refreshing my rusty skills and gaining new ones. The horse I have now, who very well could be called my muse if anything could be, lived, unused and untrained at Fran’s barn and one day I started working with her. I fell in love. She was perfect. Still is. Perfect for me anyway. With help, I trained her and she has carried me miles and miles down mountain trails, over jumps, around arenas, across open plains and just about everywhere else. She has also carried my imagination to other worlds on horseback and sparked the idea for the first novel I ever actually finished. I have written three novels based on that idea now, the two original ones and then the rewrite I recently completed which is the beginning of the series that will eventually be published.
Without Sabaska, my horse, I don’t think I would be where I am now. She is my sanity when the day job is kicking my ass, or my personal life goes to hell. She’s the anchor in my life and she refreshes my mind when I’m burnt. A half hour of riding is more therapeutic than anything else I’ve ever done. A day spent in the mountains with my horse will keep me going for months after, and my imagination goes wild with ideas when I’m spending time with Sabaska, or any horse really. Like writing, horses are in my blood.
I write what I like to read, which is fantasy, but though most fantasy has people riding around on horseback, very few actually have horses as main characters. Mercedes Lackey is one notable exception and I love reading her books. I believe I have read almost every fantasy involving horses that is out there, certainly everyone I could find. And there aren’t enough. I read once that if there is a novel you want to read that hasn’t been written, then write it. So now I write urban fantasy with horses, and of course I write urban fantasy with vampires too. Even though the subject is different, those ideas also come to me while I’m riding. I also have a short story series about Doc the vampire hunting Border Collie and his development is a whole different blog post. You can read some excerpts and Doc’s stories on my website: www.writerjacampbell.com . Feel free to stop by and leave a comment if you like what you see.
Also, if you feel like seeing what I had to say today, I'm over at Julie's blog talking about Supernatural.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Love triangles are more common than ever in YA literature, and devotees of the genre are die-hard about their love for one choice over the other. I can't think of a single YA title with even the hint of a triangle that doesn't have people rooting online for their side to get the girl.
It's the type of thing a lot of authors dream about. After all, it means people are invested in our stories.
Just this week, I had the pleasure of sending out my newest story to my little group of beta readers. I've heard back from three of them already, and I couldn't be happier.
One of them is Team Max all the way. She adores him. So much so, she's even devoted an entire list on Twitter just to Max. I think if she could bottle him and take him home with her, she would.
Another issued me a challenge. She said sex with a Chad could never be hot. I received this tweet from her today: "@SelestedeLaney Oh! I forgot to tell you....you met and exceeded the #smexyChadchallenge! *high five*"
The third informed me that she really liked Max, but thought she preferred Chad. But "mostly I'm team Jocelyn."
My heart skipped a beat when I read that. I know it isn't YA, but the idea that even among my beta readers they are choosing teams is crazy exciting for me. It means that maybe, just maybe, I'm doing something right.
Because I still doubt myself.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Bend Me Over
1 oz. whiskey (we used Southern Comfort)
1/2 oz. amaretto (we used DiSaronno)
1 oz. sour mix
splash of Sierra Mist/Sprite/7-Up
Mix all ingredients in a shaker half-filled with ice. Shake well and strain into shot glasses.
My opinion: You can really smell the whiskey. If that's not to your taste, the scent might be a problem. It tastes pretty good, though if I were to make it again, I'd probably up the amaretto content to try to balance things out a little more.
Hubs opinion: Not bad, a little syrupy
I'm not overly fond of mixed shots, they just seem like a waste of effort to tell the truth, so odds are I wouldn't make this again (I'd rather have a drink that's going to last a while). But it was fairly tasty, like a whiskey sour with a twist. Grade: B-
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
While I wandered and saw sights, I also spent time on the lookout for images and places that inspired.
[caption id="attachment_289" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="I took this shot at night, but the way the lighting hit, it lit up the building and gave it a bit of a haunted look. Personally I like the creepiness of how that worked more than anything specific about the building."][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_291" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="This is actually an image of the Virgin Mary set into a frame on the outside wall of a building, but when I saw it, all I could think of was the soul of someone trapped in this frame in the wall for eternity and everyone keeps just walking by, oblivious to the curse."][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_292" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="When I looked at this, all I could think was how the "wires" looked like restraints that had been broken, as if someone had been bound there and tore their way free. "][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_293" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="This gate had a real Beauty and the Beast feel to it. Not sure what I'll do with it, but I had to have the picture. "][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_294" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="There was this amazing piece of art on the street in Turin. I took several pictures of it. Behind it is a big open courtyard, but there doesn't seem to be a gate into it. It kind of made me think of a magical gateway to a steampunky alternate universe. "][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_295" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Then I found these amazing cyberpunk Carnival masks in Venice and had the image of a bunch of half-humans essentially crashing Carnival from the future for some reason I haven't figured out yet. "][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_296" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="I found these dragon sconces on a hotel in Rome and thought they had a very YA Fantasy feel to them, like at night they would just detach from the building and fly off. "][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_297" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="I took a few shots like this of the streets of Rome at night all blurry. I love the gritty feel of it, it got me thinking urban fantasy again, and I'm really tempted to try one set in Italy now. "][/caption]
Needless to say, inspiration was everywhere. None of these were tourist spots, they were just images I saw on the street. You don't have to go overseas to find things like this, they are all around you. You just have to open your eyes and look at your surroundings differently. Stop rushing about trying to get from point A to point B and let yourself be inspired.
It's a lesson I'd forgotten, and I'm really glad for the reminder.