Friday, April 29, 2011
I can safely say, that this is one heck-of-a curve ball.
I am still reeling from what has occurred. I find myself absent minded, easily emotional. None of us will be the same.
So what can we do? What can I do? The first thing I am going to do is thank God I am alive. Next I am going to help my neighbors. How? That depends on what is needed. Food? Water? A laugh? Maybe a tree needs to be cut down. I'll do it. (All right, I'll actually have my husband do that--me and a chain-saw just makes my skin crawl).
Sadly, not much writing will get done, but in the light of things--I'll get back to it. Right now. I'm just going to live.
How are you dealing with this curve ball if you're affected by these storms? For the rest of you, what curve balls have you dealt with?
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Looking For Trouble
Addy Corwin is a florist with an attitude. A bad attitude, or so her mama says, 'cause she's not looking for a man. Mama's wrong. Addy has looked. There's just not much to choose from in Hannah, her small Alabama hometown. Until Brand Dalvahni shows up, a supernaturally sexy, breathtakingly well-built hunk of a warrior from—well, not from around here, that's for sure. Mama thinks he might be European or maybe even a Yankee. Brand says he's from another dimension.
Addy couldn't care less where he's from. He's gorgeous. Serious muscles. Disturbing green eyes. Brand really gets her going. Too bad he's a whack job. Says he's come to rescue her from a demon. Puh-lease. But right after Brand shows up, strange things start to happen. Dogs talk and reanimated corpses stalk the quiet streets of Hannah. Her mortal enemy Meredith, otherwise known as the Death Starr, breaks out in a severe and inexplicable case of butt boils. Addy might not know what's going on, but she definitely wants a certain sexy demon hunter by her side when it all goes down. . .
Monday, April 25, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Setting aside the usual disclaimers (but it’s not a romance, it’s women’s fiction with romantic elements!) and defenses (sure they do! You only read about their first meeting!) I started thinking about what makes for a lasting relationship.
I only have one long date from which to draw conclusions. It began with physical approval—nearly six feet and a muscular build meets my need to feel not-like-a-hulk; thick dark hair is a personal preference.
But was there an inciting incident? Uh, sorry, not that I can recall. In my defense, it’s been a really long date, approaching twenty-nine years. So how did we make the transition from interest to commitment? We have friends in common, but they didn’t universally approve the match. We’re both ambitious—we talked about our intent to improve our lives. And we have similar values—we expect to work hard, as opposed to holding up convenience stores or bilking the elderly.
At the end of the third date, I announced my resolution never again to date anyone for longer than six months without a proposal. I figured if he spazzed under the threat of commitment, he’d disappear without a trace and I could move on before developing any emotional attachment. But he didn’t. At six months, he asked for a three month extension. I granted it.
The trait that I recognized as vitally important to my future was his optimism. While I can spot a mote of woe from twenty paces, he’s certain that I’m imagining things. Over time, my viewpoint has moved toward balance. And that’s a good thing.
What do you think? Are the real life basics that worked for me enough to carry a novel?
*circa the college years, referring to the institution of marriage
Monday, April 18, 2011
BY: Debbie Kaufman
One of the most exciting things about being a debut author is getting to experience all the "firsts." Currently, I'm half-way between getting "THE CALL" and holding my author copies in my hands for my historical romance, THE DOCTOR'S MISSION (Nov. 2011).
Right now I'm waiting on copy edits, and, like all new authors, I'm dying to see my cover. The cover, however, is still a few months out since THE DOCTOR'S MISSION, a Love Inspired Historical, doesn't come out until November of this year.
About the time I was well launched into writing book two, another missionary romantic adventure set in the Liberian jungle, another little fun tidbit came my way from the Love Inspired Historical team. And, since the most common question I get asked is what the book is about, here's the back cover blurb!
THE DOCTOR'S MISSION
To save lives, she would risk her own
A woman doctor! Missionary William Mayweather can’t hide his disappointment. The Nynabo mission in Liberia, Africa, desperately needs help, but he’s vowed not to put another female in jeopardy. Too bad flame-haired Dr. Mary O’Hara refuses to turn back—and he cannot allow her to go into the jungle alone.
Medicine or marriage? For Mary, the choice was clear. Far away from the patriarchal medical community, she resolves to be of real service. She’ll willingly go head-to-head with the handsome, opinionated missionary, even in the face of deadly danger. Yet the greatest tests lie in trusting God’s plan—for the mission, and her future happiness in this untamed, beautiful land….
I'm really happy with my blurb. While my story is historical romance, it is also adventure, and I think they capture that it the tag line. If you want to know more about the book or missions, visit me also at my website, www.debbiekaufman.com, where I'm running a simple contest for a free e-reader.
SO, here's my question for you today. What makes a great back cover blurb - one that would make you buy the book?
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Die For Me weaves the mythology of a new supernatural monster--the Revenant--into the beauty of Paris and the mystery of falling in love. After the horrific death of both of her parents, 16-year-old Kate moves to Paris to live with her grandparents. While adjusting to her new life, she falls for Vincent, a broodingly handsome Frenchman. But Vincent is anything but the average teenager. He's a Revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others
I was lucky enough to get a hold of an ARC of the novel months ago, and I really can't say enough about how much I enjoyed the book. In a market over-saturated with angsty supernatural teen romances, Die For Me stands out. The novel is beautifully written and imaginatively conceived. I can't imagine how this book won't be huge. And one lucky commenter will get to read it before anyone else, because I'm giving away an ARC of the novel!
Amy was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy! (And make sure you go pre-order the book.)
1. I know that the success you've had so far with Die For Me has given you the chance to do what most writers dream of--quit the day job and write full time, but at what point did you make it your goal to be a writer? What did you do to stay focused and motivated on that goal?
Lisa, I’ve always wanted to write. But after a few early rejections (by my university’s literary magazine and by friends whose advice I trusted), I decided to keep my writing to myself. Besides my MA thesis and art historical articles I wrote for Sotheby’s (where I worked for a few years), my writing was limited to journals and long storytelling letters to friends and family about the foreign places I lived.
It wasn’t until I moved to the Loire Valley five years ago that I began blogging. Finally, people I didn’t know from Adam started giving me feedback on my writing. And it was overwhelmingly positive, which shocked me because I still felt that it was a passion that I had no talent for. It was because of those readers’ encouragement that I found the courage to write my first manuscript (A Year in the Vines).
So the blog was my “coming out” as a writer. I didn’t know what blogging was, so I usually wrote full essays and articles. And I did that every day for two years, and then every other day for another year, before it became necessarily (because of my book-writing) less frequent.
The thing that kept me focused and motivated during that period was pure desperation. I had gone from being a career girl in the big city (New York) to jobless and isolated in the French countryside. I had no friends. When my husband traveled I sometimes went a whole week without speaking to anyone. My husband and I weren’t doing well. Our financial situation wasn’t good. And I had this round-the-clock screaming colicky baby that I had no clue what to do with.
For me it was write or die: make my desperate situation funny and in doing so seduce a following of readers who would give me emotional support. (Unless I’m deluded, those readers didn’t know how bad things were. Who wants to read a sob story? So I made it comical. If they’re reading this now...surprise!) If I hadn’t had that creative and social outlet, I would probably have been hospitalized for severe depression. Instead, I found my calling. You could say that writing saved my life.
2. Even though your first manuscript found an agent fairly quickly, it hasn't been published yet. Was there anything that helped keep you focused on continuing to write, even as you waited for news on that first one?
Finding an agent (Stacey Glick of Dystel & Goderich) so quickly was a huge confirmation to me. And then the encouraging feedback from the publishers she submitted it to gave me the affirmation that another book was worth trying.
By this time, I had found a job teaching university English, and had done an overhaul of A YEAR IN THE VINES (changing it from part-fiction to pure memoir at the request of publishers). I didn’t like the new version as much and had a feeling it wouldn’t sell. So while I waited for the news from Stacey, I threw myself into a new project. Although I was used to writing stories from my life on the blog, I thought I’d try a different genre. And since I had just read TWILIGHT and saw how well it was working, I figured I’d give YA a try. I wrote DIE FOR ME during the university’s summer vacation.
It was really a stab in the dark. I had no expectations that the book would work. I was already geared up to write something in a different genre the next summer, which would be my last go at publication before having to quit the low-paying university job and find something full-time.
3. You've talked about using the theme of "impossible love" in Die For Me. Do you think that the theme has more resonance for a YA audience than an adult audience?
That’s a really good question! I think that impossible love holds resonance for a YA audience for one reason, and for an adult audience for another.
When you’re young you dream of Prince Charming (or Princess Charming!) because you haven’t had enough experience to know that he/she doesn’t exist. I remember watching the film West Side Story when I was a teenager. I became hysterical afterward, and cried for hours. Totally freaked my parents out. The impossible love in Tony and Maria’s case was so incomprehensible and unfair to my fifteen-year-old mind that it destroyed me. I sobbed after reading Romeo and Juliet for the same reason.
So we all fast-forward a decade (or two in my case) and several relationships later. You know the difference between reality and fiction now. But oh, how you wish the fiction were real.
4. Do you think you'll continue to write YA fiction beyond Die For Me?
I have one other YA paranormal series in mind, but only because it is about a topic that has fascinated me for years. If that doesn’t work out, I don’t think I will stick with YA paranormal. But I do enjoy YA and would be open to writing something else for that age group.
But I do hope to write adult books. That diamond project I keep seeing glittering in the distance is a dark southern novel—in the manner of Ya-Ya Sisterhood, but with a pretty high creep-factor. And I have a Rosemary’s Baby-style psychological thriller that I wrote about fifty pages of before not knowing what to do with it. I can’t wait to jump back into that project.
5. Die For Me isn't out yet, but you've had a well developed internet platform for the book for a while now. As a newly published author, what do you think are the most important lessons you've learned about using the web or social media to market your book?
I already had a good readership from my old blog, and they all generously followed me over to my writer’s blog and to Facebook. (Even though most are not YA readers.) So thanks to them I wasn’t posting in the dark. As ARCs get out, reviewers are beginning to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and that is definitely helping to spread the word about Die For Me. But it is still early days, and I’ll only be able to measure social media’s true value in hindsight: once the book is published and the numbers are out.
I do put quite a bit of time and effort into it. And some days I wonder if my time wouldn’t be better spent writing another book. But I do feel that this period pre-publication is important for “building a buzz” as the marketing people say. And I want to do everything I can to help that along.
6. What has been the best surprise about the whole publishing process of Die For Me?
If I can turn your question around, the whole publishing process of Die For Me has been a huge surprise.
I really knew nothing about publishing when it was bought. To the point that when someone asked me for an ARC, I had no clue what they were talking about. The editing process was less of a fun surprise—in fact it was more of a shock—but it has been extremely valuable (albeit painful at times). And then all of these crazy little things keep popping up, like helping to choose a voice for the audio book, being asked my opinion on cover art, and filming an author video (deer-in-headlights-alert!).
But I think that the most amazing, awe-inducing moment was when I got the call from my agent telling me about HarperCollins’s offer. The amount of the advance almost made me faint, it so exceeded anything I could have imagined. But WAY more important than that was the fact that a major publisher wanted something that I wrote, and they wanted it badly enough to give an amazing pre-empt bid. I felt so validated, so valued, that my feet didn’t touch the ground for about two months.
Die For Me will be in stores on May 10th, but one lucky reader will get it next week. Just post a comment telling us about YOUR favorite supernatural beings by Friday the 22nd and I'll pick someone at random to receive an ARC of the book.
Update: The winner of the ARC drawing is Lexi. Congratulations! Hope you enjoy the book.
Friday, April 15, 2011
1. Writing the book/story.
3. Sending your baby out into the world.
You have to have absolute faith in yourself and your work because there are no guaranteed outcomes. And that can be hard, because fear is more than willing to ride up & keep you company. So here are some tips to keep on track:
Set achievable goals --and meet them. For example, 3 pages a day is achievable for most people, but some people can write almost 2,000-plus words daily. Know yourself and set goals that fit you.
Let go of the negative and accept a positive attitude --I can do It! Believe in yourself.
Allow yourself to write a crappy first draft. You can fix it later. This gem is oft repeated by many authors and remains true.
Evaluate your critiques and rejections.Seek patterns that teach you about where you are as a writer and help you grow.
Take small steps and advance -- writing groups, contests, writing classes.
Ask yourself what you want? How can you make it happen? Then do one little thing everyday from that list.
Most important: Celebrate your achievements! And that includes rejections, because each and everyone of those is a sign that you are taking action.
Books I've found useful:
Noah Lukeman THE FIRST FIVE PAGES
Stephen King ON WRITING
Christopher Vogler THE WRITER'S JOURNEY (actually, I prefer Joseph Campbell, but many folks swear by Vogler, so I'm including it)
Donald Maass WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, THE FIRE IN FICTION
James Frey HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL
Robert McKee STORY
Blake Snyder SAVE THE CAT!
Anne Lamott BIRD BY BIRD
Dwight Swain TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER
James Scott Bell REVISION AND SELF-EDITING, and PLOT AND STRUCTURE
Some very useful blogs that teach you the business & the craft:
Alexandra Sokoloff's blog
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I look for excessive uses of the word WAS. Some are okay, but not herds of them. Areas I can change to action. Ways to add dialogue without dragging down the story. Unnecessary words. For example: His hand caught her hand. Changed to His hand caught hers. Or He caught her hand.
Then there are HE FELT, SHE BELIEVED, HE THOUGHT and SHE REALIZED. Those words need to be deleted and the feeling, belief, expectation and realization should be told or preferably shown.
Of course, every time I pick up one of my grammar books, I learn something new. For example that the pronouns everything, something, anyone, and everyone are singular. And it doesn't matter how many prepositional phrases that appear to make it plural are around it.
Monday, April 11, 2011
One of the most common reasons that editors reject submissions is the story's lack of conflict strong enough to sustain a story from beginning to end. So let's look conflict.
Conflict is what keeps a character from getting what he or she wants.
Too many writers mistake conflict for bickering between their characters. Or they think conflict is a misunderstanding between the characters that puts them at odds. Or that getting stuck in a monsoon is conflict enough to keep a story going.
But that's not conflict. Conflict is about struggling against something specific to get something specific. Dorothy gets sucked into a tornado and ends up in the land of Oz. She wants to get home, but a series of problems arise that keep her from being able to reach her goal of going home, and she and her gang of motley allies must figure their way through those obstacles to reach her goal. That's conflict.
But is that enough to sustain a story? Not really. Because there's something else we need to know about conflict.
Conflict is both internal and external.
For example, in the Wizard of Oz example (which I'll admit, I'm borrowing from the fabulous Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict example), Dorothy's desire to get back home is the external goal. But her internal goal is to find a way to be happy with her life. Her unhappiness, the trouble she always seems to get into in her life, motivates her to want to find a place she belongs. But there's a conflict--she doesn't know what will make her happy. So that's the conflict she has to work through to reach her goal.
So how do we bring our internal and external conflicts into play?
The best way to keep your characters' internal conflicts in the forefront is to fashion your external conflicts so that they play on the characters' worst fears. I had a character whose horrific childhood had given her a near phobia about children. She didn't like to be around them, didn't want to have to deal with them. So what kind of external conflict did I give her? She was called to investigate an assault and attempted kidnapping of a four-year-old girl. And then the little girl formed an instant crush on my heroine, which inspired her boss (and former foster father) to assign her to protective detail for the child, who was the only one who could identify the assailant. So her internal conflicts were top of mind immediately.
What about the hero? Well, his big internal conflict was that he'd married a woman who didn't want to be married when she got pregnant with his child--and it had ended about as you might expect. The woman who didn't want to be married and certainly didn't want to be a mother, leaving the hero to raise his daughter by himself. So the last thing he needs in his life is a woman with a kid-phobia who seems to break out in hives whenever his daughter is around. But at the same time, she's a cop who can help him protect his daughter, who seems to find the heroine irresistible. So it's a constant push pull between the attraction they feel for each other and the myriad reasons they shouldn't be together.
But it's also the threat to the child that allows the heroine to work through her fears and her past torment to move forward with her life and allow herself to love not only the child but also her father. And the hero's love for his daughter helps him find the patience to look past the heroine's protective walls to see the woman inside that his daughter so clearly adores. And the heroine's bravery and determination to protect his child helps him trust her enough to also share his heart.
To sum it up, your external conflict should constantly be putting pressure on the internal conflict. It should also be part of the means by which the characters resolve their internal conflicts and come together in the end.
And remember, in a romance, the internal conflict is extremely important. In many stories, it's the most important conflict. Don't give it short shrift.
So, here's the assignment for today. Think about the conflicts in your current WIP. What external conflict is keeping your hero/heroine from reaching their goals? What internal conflicts are complicating things? How do those internal and external conflicts apply pressure to each other?
Saturday, April 09, 2011
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Sunday, April 03, 2011
As writers, we are selling a product. Like other branches of the entertainment industry, a writer has fans excited about their work (hopefully). Some are more zealous than others. Yet, nothing will turn off a loyal fan faster than an author who acts as though dealing with fans is beneath them.
To my way of thinking, professionalism includes a good dose of common courtesy that extends beyond agents and editors. We, as professionals, should be considerate to our readers (including book reviewers). After all, readers want to be in it for the long haul too.
Friday, April 01, 2011
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think;
'Tis strange, the shortest letter which man uses
Instead of speech, may form a lasting link
Of ages; to what straits old Time reduces
Frail man, when paper - even a rag like this -
Survives himself, his tomb, and all that's his.
from Don Juan George Gordon, Lord Byron
This is one of my favorite Byron quotes. In fact it is on the opening page of my website for just that reason. I like the idea of my words living on long after I’m gone. It can be, however, a double-edged sword. Words are powerful, whether spoken or written. They can change the world or change someone’s mind. They can change how we see others or how we see ourselves.
We, as wordsmiths, spend much of our time trying to pick just the right words to draw a reader in, to create the world of our story, to introduce characters who will resonate with our readers and make them want to continue reading. Just the right words will carry a reader through your pages like a gondola on the canals of Venice or like the passenger seat in a fighter jet.
Those of us who write historical romance have a completely separate set of issues when we write. We have to insure our words don’t just tell the story, but do so in language that isn’t an anachronism to the times. I am constantly using etymonline.com to check the date a particular word came into use. I also have access to a number of dictionaries from the nineteenth century and a couple of interesting sites on the history of swearing and the evolution of terms for “the naughty bits,” as my British friends call it.
And those of you who write paranormal romance often have the task of making up words to define the colors, emotions, and objects in your paranormal worlds. I am in awe of some of the elaborate glossaries associated with certain paranormal series.
I always have a notebook handy when I read. When I come across a particularly good word, I will jot it down in said notebook and later go back to write in a definition and an etymological timeline on the word. I also collect books about, well, about words. Peter Bowler has a great series of Superior Person’s Book of Words that have some of the most amusing, confusing and esoteric words in the history of the English language.
His eructation was neither called for nor polite.
(Sounds so much better than – Dude burped and grossed me out!)
So, as a writer, do you spend hours mulling over which word to use? Do you find that once you get to know your characters there are words they use that are unique to them? Are there words you shy away from using because you feel readers won’t recognize them or worse, might be offended by them? One of my critique partners found this interesting thread on an Amazon forum. Words to Cringe By
Check it out, but be warned. Do not read through this while drinking a beverage of any kind. You will drown your keyboard!
After you read it you will never look at your love scenes the same way again!
How about it? What lengths do you go to in order to choose just the right words? And have you ever written something, read over it and thought “Hey! That’s good! I wrote that!” Share it with us! In the words of my brother “It ain’t braggin’ if you’ve done it!”