Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I've been that even legal?

I've been tagged. When I heard that I started looking for some graffiti on me somewhere. Finding myself free of spray paint, I thought perhaps there was someone I should be chasing. No one seemed to be running. So, then I thought maybe I should just slap the next person I saw and shout, "Tag!" Let's just say that didn't go over very well -- my dog just gave me a funny look and left the room.

Next I looked around and decided that I wasn't on the baseball field, so I didn't think I was out. There were no labels slapped on me or name tags stuck on me anywhere. I realized that I wasn't quite getting what this tagging was all about.

Eventually, I figured out that being tagged had nothing to do with any of the rest of that stuff. The idea of this meme is to answer the tagger’s ten questions and then pass on ten of your own to ten more bloggers. It’s a fun way to keep in touch with your friends in the blogging realm. Here's the grilling -- err, I mean questions -- I received from S.E. Lane on her blog, Writing Belle.

 What is your favorite book to movie adaptation?  

 This is a tough call. There have been a number of book adaptations that I enjoyed for various reasons most of them for various reasons of how they aren't like the book. I'm going to pick the Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger as one of my top picks. I loved the story and while I thought the time travel part might make it difficult to translate to film with the same intensity, it was well done. I still cry at the end whenever I read the book or watch the movie.

Who is your top book boyfriend/girlfriend?

  My top book boyfriend is another one with so many choices based on genre and mood. However, the first guy that pops into my mind is still one Jericho Z. Barrons from Karen Marie Moning's Fever Series. He's the bad boy of all bad boys. Of course, I'd never call him a boy to his face. He's definitely all man. He also has the tall, dark and deadly market cornered.

What actor or actress do you think most resembles that character? 

This topic was much discussed around my house when rumors surfaced of a movie of the Fever Series. All sorts of names were tossed out and most often rejected. I settled on Clive Owen as my fit for a good Barrons. Yummy.

If you could jump into any genre, what would it be and why? 

A genre that I've love to jump into would be fantasy. I love the whole concept of knights, dragons, elves and epic adventure and quests. Not to mention since it's fantasy, I can just imagine anything I'd like. The sky -- or universe -- is the limit.

Do you prefer to read fiction or non-fiction?

I read fiction. Occasionally, I'll pick up a non-fiction book but only for a specific reason. The last non-fiction I read was Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell about SEAL Team 10. It's another book that I made me cry.

Pertaining to your sex, would you rather read a book with a male or a female protagonist?

 I seem to read more books with a female protagonist, but it seems to be more a factor of the genre than choice. I've been reading more paranormal romance and romantic suspense. When I get more into fantasy I tend to read more male protagonists.

Why do you love to blog?

I'm not sure I'd say I love to blog. I haven't been blogging for very long, but it has been a great way to express ideas and share my opinions. Most of my blogging is done about my experiences writing and it's great getting the feedback and finding out all those crazy things happen to other people too.

Do you love books with a sense of humor, or do you prefer something more dramatic?

Drama is great, but I love books that can bring a sense of humor into the story. It doesn't have to be the focus, but it's great if you can find something to laugh about.

Have you ever met a famous author?

Not in person, but thanks to the internet I've been able to exchange some messages and meet some really great independent authors.

Where is your favorite place to read - and when? 

My favorite place to read is stretched out in bed. I usually read before bed, but I can get lost in a book anytime and anywhere. If it's a book I just can't seem to put down, I'll carry it around the house and read during commercials while watching TV.

Now you've gotten a glimpse of what it's like to be me. Here are my ten questions:

  1. What made you decide to start a blog?
  2. What is your favorite genre and why?
  3. What book hasn't been made into a movie yet, but that you'd like to see on the big screen?
  4. If you're going to see a movie based on a book, do you want to read the book first?
  5. Do you like to read more than one book at a time?
  6. Who is your most favorite book character and why?
  7. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could pick only three books to have with you what would they be?
  8. If you had to become either a vampire or a werewolf which would you choose?
  9. What got you started reading?
  10. What are your favorite pizza toppings?

And here's the ten blogs I'm tagging:

Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
A Book-lovers' Review
Getting Attwood Published
A Pocket Full of Books
Morgan Shamy - Inner thoughts of a redhead writer
Books Are Better - Fantasy Book Reviews
Georgina Anne Taylor - Gothic Fiction and Fairy Tales
We Fancy Books
Liv Rancourt
Ann Cory

You're all it!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Time for the bullying to stop

For those of you who might not know, I'm a huge fan of the site Goodreads. It is a wonderful place for both readers and authors to gather together. There are groups on a wide range of topics. You can discuss individual books, authors, genres, blogging, reviewing, marketing -- well, you get the idea. It has been a terrific source for support and a gold mine of information for a new self-published author like myself.

My experiences with Goodreads has been nothing but positive. I've met some really awesome people on the site and found a lot of support as a self-published author. As an author, it is always pointed out that you must tread lightly in some groups. Goodreads was created as a place for avid readers to share their love of reading, but where the readers gather so too will the authors flock. As many of us know, readers don't like getting spammed to buy a book, but it happens. There will always be that person that thinks the rules of society, the group or the individual never apply to them.

On Goodreads, the etiquette for authors has been for them to become a part of the community and share more than just your book.Let's face it, most of authors are readers as well and you can talk about the genre you read and share thoughts on the books you've read. It's not hard. The idea being that if people get to know you, find your posts interesting, then they might be open to reading what you have written.

I've tried to follow that philosophy and seem to be successful in at least avoiding any backlash from readers, so far. However, there have been several authors from Goodreads that have been the targets of bullying. Now, I can't say for certain that all of these authors avoided spam or were innocent in their dealings with the groups and individuals they encountered problems with. What I can say is that bullying in any form is unacceptable behavior.

The internet makes it too easy at times for people to engage in bad behavior because they aren't forced to look a person in the eye as they spout their hate. However the feelings are still real and the names on our screens connect back to real people. Bullying in any way, shape or form is wrong. There is a new group on Goodreads that is dedicated to standing up to the bullies. Whether you are a part of that group or not, I think it is important that when you see someone getting bullied take a stand. Be sure to make it clear that whether you are a reader or an author that personal attacks, hate speak and rants are not acceptable forms of communication.

No one is always going to like what we say, what we post or what we think. Everyone is entitled to share their opinions and have that opinion respected even if it isn't agreed with. Let us all keep our eyes open for incidents where someone crosses that line and be there to say that we don't tolerate that action.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cover reveal for Rise of the King

I'm happy to reveal the cover for the second book in The Chronicles of Vlandamyuir series. Rise of the King is nearly ready to hit the market and I hope that all of you will be able to take the time to give it a look.

If you haven't had the chance yet, be sure to grab your copy of the first book of the series, The Path of Light, so that you can be ready to continue the journey with Kallum Syer Theras and his friends as he battles the forces of the Dark One and the nobles at Ahzyr Palace to fulfill the ancient prophecy and free Vlandamyuir from the evil that stalks it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book finished? Now the real work begins . . .

I've just typed the finishing words to my work in progress and that first draft is done. Isn't it amazing that only now does the real work begin.

When sitting down to write a book, you'd think getting the story down on the page would be the hard part. It is a struggle, don't get me wrong, but the real hard work begins when you start to shape that story into something that is ready for others to read. I always thought my story made so much sense along the way. After all, I just wrote down what my characters shared with me.

Then when I started to go back and read what I'd written, I realize how much polish and work is still ahead of me. It's not that I think the first draft is trash ... it just needs twice as many hours of editing. The silliest things crop up when you begin going over your draft. Wrong words such as there for their or hear for here happen a lot. Then there are the repetitive words ... I get a lot of journey, quest, ride, road and forest. Time to break out the thesaurus. I love using it, but sometimes that can be distracting. I get caught up looking up cool new words. Next up is fixing all those boring dull verbs and cutting out the dreaded adverbs. Also need to cut out the telling and work on doing more showing.

Those are just the start of the work. It seems there are always plot holes, subplots started but never finished, tasks hinted at but never realized. Time to streamline all of that into what is important to progress the story and what can be removed. Then there are those parts that are very cool and need to be fleshed out in the rest of the story.

My next issue during the editing process is cutting out description. In this case less is often more, but I tend to get long winded and want to describe the scene in detail. I often forget that my readers have an imagination and it is better to let them fill in some of those details to help draw them into the story and make it feel as if they are participating. Don't you connect better to stories that you feel you are part of because you are adding in the details that you see rather than always being told what you are seeing?

So now you've done a lot of editing. You've tightened and sharpened. You've clarified bits and cleared up confusion. Time to hand it off to beta readers or editors to see what someone else sees. You'd think this was when you'd get to relax. Right? Wrong.

For self-published writers, like myself, you still have more work ahead. What about a book cover? Have you got a title? Are you creating buzz that your work is nearing completion and will be available soon? Are you ready to format your work for self-publication? A lot of these issues I didn't even realize I needed to worry about until I was ready to put my book out there.

Once my book was released I realized all the marketing would fall on my shoulders. I don't know a lot about marketing and have taken a learn as you go path. If you can get tips and hints ahead of time be sure to put them to work as soon as possible, it can make a difference. Finding people to review your book is important and the sooner you can line them up, the better. Good reviewers often have a long waiting list and you want to get yours on that list as soon as possible.

Another thing I didn't ever think about before I'd already released my book was links to my blog, website and information on where to find other writing I have done. I also never thought about putting a teaser to other work and especially to the next book in the series. I have seen other self-published authors working together -- if you are in the same genre -- to promote each other at the end of their books. These are all additional touches that I think can make a difference in helping to grow who you are as a writer and building a fan base.

Time for me to get back to work on some of these. As they say, there's no rest for the wicked.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Voices in my head

I find myself with a decision to make. I'm in the middle of putting out my fantasy series, The Chronicles of Vlandamyuir, with book two nearly complete. Ideas for book three are festering and waiting for me to start getting them down on paper. However, I also have a couple of ideas for other stories poking at me. Both are in new genres and I wonder, should I ignore them until I've gotten my fantasy series finished or should I take some time between fantasy books and work on these other ideas?

Don't get me wrong, when I say ignore...those pesky voices just don't go away...I mean I jot down the scenes in my head, sketch out some dialogue that just won't be silent, but for the most part I try and keep my focus on the book in front of me. I don't like to read more than one book at a time, it is even harder trying to write more than one book at a time.

So, I keep a notebook handy while I'm working and even in the middle of a scene for my fantasy work, something will pop into my head on one of the other ideas begging for my attention. I have pages of notes, thoughts, suggestions and scenes piling up. Since I sometimes need to write down notes for book three of my fantasy work, you can imagine how cluttered my notebook is getting. I just have to make sure I don't ever get any of them confused. It could make for a wild transition in the middle of a book.

On one hand, I suppose having ideas overflowing from your mind is a good thing. It is better to have too much to write than suffer writer's block. I've been lucky to have avoided any significant cases of writer's block. Does that mean I have really loud voices in my head? When I was little having a vivid imagination got me into trouble, now it is my source of inspiration.

I've lived with my fantasy characters for so long they are like family, I'm not in a hurry to bring their story to an end. However, these new friends just won't leave me alone. I'm definitely going to have to schedule some writing time with them so they don't get mad and leave in a huff. There is nothing more annoying than characters that get you started on a story and then give you the silent treatment.

Well, all the voices wonder why I'm writing a blog post rather than paying attention to them. Time to get back to work before one group or the other starts a war...hmmm? I wonder what would happen if...

More ideas, I hope they never end!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

For Valentine's Day I thought I'd discuss a few things that bring love and happiness into my life. I know this is supposed to be a day about lovers, partners, and significant others, but there are other things that share the love.

First, I wouldn't be anywhere without my family and friends. They have been that rock of support through all the ups and downs. If for a moment you doubt yourself, there they are ready to shore up all your doubts and launch you back onto your journey full of hope and confidence. It is a support system that I would have sunk without. Today seems to be a good day to let them all know just how special they are to me.

Next, is my writing. I'd go crazy without the ability to write. I love it. It is an outlet for my emotions. It let's me express my feelings and explore unknown desires. I'm not always brave enough in the real world to tackle things. In my writing, I am able to test the waters and experience things that I'd never do myself. I haven't yet written anything about a someone skydiving or bungee jumping, but I could. I don't know that I could do it well since I'd probably be clinging to the keyboard in fear just thinking about it, but the option is always there. Writing keeps me sane. Well, okay, as sane as I can be.

My dogs are the best at making my heart swell up with love and happiness. How can you look at their faces and not just want to hug them? They listen to all my goofy rantings, all my story plotting, and let me talk gibberish to them. The whole time I get their undivided attention and support, especially if I'm rubbing a tummy or scratching a hard to reach spot. Hey, they give to me so I give back to them. It's a win-win. Watching their antics is a constant state of joy. They do silly things and I laugh. They do crazy things and I shake my head. They all try to rush out the door at the same time and I have Three Stooges flashbacks. When I need a pick me up, there they are ready to put their head on my knee or snuggle up beside me on the bed and just be someone that cares.

Reading is the escape that takes me to places and let's me leave all my troubles behind. I'm so grateful my mom encouraged me to read. Now, there isn't anything I can't do. I can learn new things. I can explore new places. I can laugh, I can cry, I can be scared and it is all contained within the pages of a book. Reading, I'm sure, is part of why I write. It has defined who I am. I don't think I'd want to know what life was like without it.

Sports are my passion. I love sports. I wish I was talented enough to play them. My brother was the star athlete in the family. I sat in the stands and supported him. I learned to keep score, I became a sports writer and discovered just how much of an emotional swing you can have in the space of a few seconds. Baseball is the biggest love of my sporting world, but I still yell and scream at the TV for college basketball, football and of course, the Olympics.

This post started out as a quick idea to share some love on Valentine's Day and in typical fashion I've rambled forever. To bring this to an end before I write a book on it, I want to thank my family, my friends, my followers, my supporters and all of you who share this journey with me. I couldn't do it without you.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Two Status Update!

*Does the happy dance and the M&M wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle*

So, I've been added a bit here and a bit there while staring at the computer screen and letting the letters blur together before clicking onto something exciting like Bubble Town. However, that was all before yesterday.

Yesterday, I had an epiphany! I opened up my work in progress, the second book in The Chronicles of Vlandamyuir series. Most of my procrastination with writing lately was the indecision on how I wanted to end book two and set up book three. Yesterday, I figured it out.

I sat down to write, wanting to at least make an effort into forward progress, and give me some sense of something by adding words to my word count, even if they weren't always great words or even the right words. I used a new little trick I read about called fast drafting from Lynnette Labelle's blog. The concept is straight forward. Write the dialogue, write the scene -- don't try and give a lot of description. Instead let the story flow and advance. You can fill in the gaps and flesh out the scenes more in future edits.

There have been a few difficult scenes for me to tackle in this book and this technique helped get me over the rough spots. Once the action in the story moved beyond my stumbling blocks, the rest of the book fell into place. I suddenly knew the ending and what I wanted to happen. I got 5,000 words written yesterday not including making a rough outline for the end of the book.

Mission accomplished! I was surprised that the fast drafting method did help clear my head of questions and indecision. Once that was clear, I was able to listen to my characters better and let the story flow. Hurray!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My hidden talent

I'm great at something. It's not often I can admit that or even accept it. Usually, I'm shy about tooting my own horn as the saying goes, but not about this. I am great at procrastination. I mean really awesome at it!

Anything that I can put off until tomorrow, I will. If I can accomplish two things in a day, I won't. Why do two if you can do one or none? What makes me so very good as a procrastinator is the creativity I use to avoid tasks. If I'm supposed to be writing, I don't simply get away from my computer to cook dinner or clean house. Oh no, that would be becoming productive at another task, and that simply won't do. I don't stay on the computer and work on promoting the book that is finished. Again, I might actually accomplish something there, so I have to be careful. Nope, when I'm in procrastination mode, I do things like spend a couple of hours on YouTube. I'll flip on some music and go play Bejeweled, Text Twist or some other free online game.

Yesterday, I slipped and went to YouTube to share the Muppets doing Bohemian Rhapsody with someone that hadn't seen it before. Now, a productive person would have closed the window, mission accomplished, and went on to writing or reading. Me? Heck no! I spent the next two hours watching old music videos for Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Hinder, 3 Doors Down, Theory of a Deadman -- well, you get the picture.

Don't misunderstand, I'm very handy at multiasking. I just never said that all my multiple tasks were productive. I was listening to the audiobooks of the Fever Series again, it had been a while and I needed a Barrons fix. Most people use audiobooks to pass the time of a commute, get in some exercise or some other productive activity. Me? I played Bubble Town on MSN games to win a new badge for my collection. Am I talented or what?

I love to write and when I get on a roll, words just flow onto the page nearly effortlessly. Then there are those days when I work just as hard to avoid the flow and put my procrastination tools to work. You'd think someone who has characters talking to her in her head would have enough distractions and wouldn't need the considerable talent of procrastination, but what can I say? I'm gifted.

What are some of your favorite time wasting activities? Feel free to share, I might add them to my list!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Confession: I love vampires

I have a confession to make. I love vampires. I don't write about them, at least I haven't yet, but I love them. There is something sexy about a vampire. It's not the blood part, I'm not all that into blood. I have in fact passed out from the sight of my own blood. Vampires on the other hand are very cool.

Horror movies have always been a huge part of my life so I know all about Dracula. Vampires these days, though, are not Dracula. They are sexy. They are young. They are mysterious. They are hot. They don't turn into bats. I think this is the biggest thing that turns them from monsters to sexy.

Now, I realize there are female vampires. I just don't find them as interesting because I'm busy drooling over the male ones. I started my new fascination with the fanged ones with -- yes, I'm admitting it -- Twilight. Before you all run screaming in the other direction, take a breath. I found the idea of vampires that embrace life and not death to be very interesting. They were still strong. They were also moral and caring, vampires with feelings. I mean come on, did we ever really get a sense of feeling from Dracula? Well, I never did.

From Twilight has grown a whole new kind of vampire. We get to see vampires as people who drink blood to survive, but still  have all the same hang ups and drama as the rest of us. Living forever, having super speed or super strength doesn't make their lives super perfect. That human element makes it possible for us to relate to them in ways I could never relate to Dracula.

We also have vampires that can walk out in the light. Vampires take on a whole new look when they aren't trapped by the night. They can have jobs, if a vampire wanted to have a job, they could be even more like humans. It again makes it possible for us humans to relate or understand. It is a good time to be a vampire fan. Twilight aside, there is just about every type and kind of vampire out there for all of us. Along with my love of Twilight -- Team Edward always -- there is True Blood and The Vampire Diaries.

I'm hooked on both of those series as well. It is exciting to get to watch them brought to life on TV, but the very best part is that they are also books. This means I can pick up a copy and immerse myself into their world at any time. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy staring at Eric from True Blood or Damon from The Vampire Diaries, but it is always great when you can take them to bed and cuddle up under the covers with them.