Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Day Late and a Manuscript Short

Well, it happened to me again. I got a lovely rejection letter from an editor who said she was upset because they'd just published a book with a similiar premise to mine so she couldn't buy it!

Ughhhhhh....

Now, I know my idea was kickass and all, but come on, unless the other author overheard me pitching my idea or talking to friends I don't know how anyone on planet earth could possibly come up with as twisted of an idea as I did. It's just not possible. When I told my chief crit partner, Tara, the news, she said almost those exact words. "How is that possible? It can't even be close." - I didn't ask. I don't want to know. All I want to do is crawl under a literary rock and not come out. I told Tara that I feel like the person standing at the end of a really long ticket line and when it's my turn at the window, the clerk pulls the shade down and a "sold out" sign goes up. I'm the ballplayer that hits the ball clean out of the park - on the wrong side of the foul line. I get it there and it's fabulous...just not at the right time or the right place.

I'm frustrated beyond belief at the moment.

On the plus side, this is the second time said editor asked to see something else by me. (The first project she loved my voice and the writing, but not the premise of the book.) I'm starting to get the feeling she really likes my writing and wants to work with me. Great!!! I'm glad!!! I'm there!!! I don't write what they're really looking for, but she said she'll look at my futuristics and paranormals. Even better. I talked to my agent about the matter - (Yes, I have an agent now. We've signed contracts and are getting ready to embark on my contemporary career.) - and feel 100% better for it.

But I'm still thinking that I wish I had something finished that I could go ahead and send to her (editor). I want to write at the speed of light. Edit fast enough to leave sonic booms in my wake. Crank out books so fast they'll leave a dust bowl behind the printer.

I've always been a firm believer in writing in as many genres and working on as many projects at a time as possible, and still I don't feel I write fast enough. I need bionic fingers to work at the speed I want to.

Oh, I'm just grumbling at the moment, feeling like a fart in a whirlwind because going into this year I had an exact plan of how I wanted all the projects to unfold and I'll be damned if we're not one month into this year and already it looks as if my calendar is blown all to hell and back.

So what will I do? As REO Speedwagon said, I'll "roll with the changes."

-Kat

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Did We Dodge a Bullet?

Or more accurately, an asteroid?

The closest approach by an asteroid recorded happened about nine hours ago. Now corny movies with Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck aside, this brings home the fact that space is well, not all that spacious sometimes.

There's all sorts of crap floating around up there, knocking into other crap that's floating up there along with it. Kind of like how my brain works most days. But some days, just by random chance, there are more things knocking about in one spot than there are on others, and it's those days when, at least in my brain, good things happen. Out in space--or at least, the immediate neighborhood, things knocking against each other can be downright catastrophic.

Now the size of space dictates that the likelihood of crap crashing into us shrinks exponentially. But a million to one chance still is pretty likely, given the number of chances in the universe makes a million feel like significantly smaller of a number.

Where am I going with all this? Philosophy. When something like this comes along, no matter how small or large of a chance of its happening--its meaning bears a significance that has nothing to do with chance.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Guest Blogger - Gia Dawn

Good morning everyone. This week we welcome author, Gia Dawn to our little corner of the Web. Gia married her college sweetheart and after giving birth to her second son, finished writing her first book but she didn't manage to get it published. So she did what anyone else would do; she studied martial arts and belly dancing, opened her own New Age bookstore, and became a licensed massage therapist.

Then she discovered erotic romance and a whole new world opened up for her. Within five months she had finished and sold her first manuscript, a medieval fantasy which will be a summer 2007 release from Samhain Publishing, and is now happily writing the rest of the series.

She lives in southern Indiana with her husband and two teen aged sons, but makes frequent visits to her home state of Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains that she loves.

Welcome Gia!

******************************************************************************

First of all a great big thank you to the ladies here at Star-Crossed Romance for letting me come over and play today. As I celebrate the release of Princess of Thieves, Book III in my Demons of Dunmore series.

Which brings me to my topic of today...When is it time to leave your world behind?

I am finishing the final book in my Demons of Dunmore series. After three full-length novels and a novella, I will be leaving my world to move on to other projects. And, like many other authors, I find myself less and less willing to let go. I hadn’t intended to build a fantasy world, not at first. I originally pitched the books as straight historicals with fantasy elements, but my editor thought the language and dialog were too modern to please the historical reader, and suggested that I go all the way and make them into a true fantasy romance series.

At the beginning, I didn’t know a thing about world building. Basically, I changed the historical names and places with ones I completely made up. It was a simple fix, but one I was comfortable with. And so Westmyre was created, its cities and geography taking shape in my imagination.

As the series progressed, I added layers to my world, creating a history shrouded in magic and darkness, complete with a buried city unknown to Westmyre’s modern inhabitants—the Lost Blue City plays a prominent role in my newest Dunmore book, Princess of Thieves.

Paradoxically, as I reach the end of my stay in my world, I find myself wanting to explore it further, go back into its history and see how it came to be…reach into its dark ages and find the path my people took to survive the chaos and emerge into the light.

Marion Zimmer Bradley did this most excellently in her Darkover series. My favorite book in that series is The Storm Queen…and one of the saddest endings I think she ever wrote.

I also think Anne McCaffrey did another truly amazing job of developing the history of her world in her Pern series. In fact, she created several different eras in that series, all of them different yet connected by the dragons and the deadly thread that fell from the sky.

So what do you think? How much of a world is too much? Do you like reading about different periods in the development of a world, and appreciate the way the author ties them all together?

Or can you think of any instances where the past should have been left in the past?

Thank you so much for reading, and for any suggestions or comments you might have.

Gia Dawn
www.giadawn.com
www.samhainpublishing.com/authors/gia-dawn

Demons of Dunmore Series from Samhain Publishing:
Lord Demon’s Delight
Lady Strumpet
Princess of Thieves
Dunmore Book IV, coming summer of 2008!

A Fairy Special gift: Love & Lore Anthology, Samhain Publishing

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Promo Monster

I feel sort of like a thief sneaking in when no one is looking to post. I haven't been around in a while and I apologize for that. There just aren't enough hours in the day sometimes, [or the week or the month] to do everything I'd like to do.

My last two days have been spent promo'ing - something I find about as easy and enjoyable as a trip to the dentist. A necessary evil and hopefully one that pays off. Promo is the part of writing that no one tells you much about before you get started. You think you're just going to write, get published, sell tons of books, cash your royalty checks and buy a secluded hideaway in the Maine woods where your imagination can run wild.

Then reality sets in and you discover that just writing isn't enough. You have to come up with blurbs that tantalize, synopses that actually explain your story in brief and efficient detail, and have a thought or two about what your cover should look like. You have to schmooze and sometimes even talk about yourself in the third person - which under the wrong circumstances can seem oddly creepy.

So that being said, Bernadette has a new release and here it is. She's promo'd her heart out for two days and now plans to go back to her cozy little hideaway and keep writing. And I plan to catch up on housework - that's another thing they don't tell you when you start to write. No one does the laundry or the cooking for you and no one cleans the bathroom.


Skin
By Bernadette Gardner
© 2008, Bernadette Gardner
Cover Art by Les Byerley
ISBN 9781419914393
Ellora’s Cave

http://www.bernadettegardner.com/


Her body is his canvas.

When Makena Brady walks into SkIntense Body Art, she expects nothing more than a little prick, and a small tattoo to satisfy her quest for independence from her ‘good girl’ lifestyle. What she gets instead is a sensual awakening.

Darq Stone is an artist and Makena’s body is the perfect canvas. He works his magic on her, bringing her to the edge of reason with a temporary tattoo airbrushed on her inner thigh. Enthralled by the excitement of lying nearly naked while he paints on her, Makena yearns for more, but can she handle the real thing? Darq is much more than he seems and once he brands her with a permanent mark, she’ll be drawn into his world forever.



Here’s a short excerpt:

“My hands are shaking,” she said. “Maybe you could help me.” She dropped her suit jacket on the chair behind her, but it slithered to the floor. She shrugged and tried to quell her internal tremors. If he continued to look at her that way, she might come from anticipation alone.

In two long steps he crossed to stand in front of her. The musky scent of his cologne reached her and her head swam. Darq Stone was nothing like she’d expected him to be. In fact, with his long-sleeved casual shirt and black Dockers, he didn’t even appear to have any tattoos of his own. She wondered if she might convince him to show her all of his body as well.

“Would you like me to unbutton your blouse?”

She nodded. “Yes.” The word came out as a breathless whisper. She held herself utterly still until he obliged, raising his hands and clasping the first tiny button.

It popped open under his expert touch and Makena gasped. Good Lord, if just having him open one button felt this good, what would it feel like if he actually put his hands on her? She’d come apart under him.

The next button went and Makena felt his warm breath on the vee of flesh exposed above her collar.

“Are you considering an image above one of your breasts?” His voice had gone thick. His eyes were locked on the third button of her blouse.

“I’m not sure. Maybe the small of my back, or on my shoulder. Or my inner thigh.”
“That’s a very sensitive area. You might not be able to wear a tight skirt or pantyhose for several days after the work is done. That could interfere with your job.”

“I have vacation time coming.”

Two more buttons. Makena wanted to put her hands on his broad shoulders and lean on him. Her legs felt rubbery and each breath hitched in her chest. “Pull my blouse out of my skirt, please.”

He hesitated only a second then tugged the creamy yellow silk out of her waistband. She didn’t need to ask him to push the blouse off her shoulders or to run one finger under the strap of her bra.

She bent forward to ease the intense ache that crawled up from her pussy to her womb. Her stomach clenched when his breath hit the bare skin of her shoulder. “Do you see a spot you like?”

He didn’t answer. Instead he curled his fingers around the satiny strap and pulled it down, almost exposing her breast. He ran his fingers over the skin below her shoulder and then into the cup of her bra.

Every nerve in her body went tight and she gasped when his fingers grazed the smooth skin just above her nipple.

“You’re very sensitive here as well. The process can be painful in certain areas. I wouldn’t want to see you in discomfort for a long period of time…unless you like pain. Some people do…they get a sexual satisfaction out of being tattooed.”

“I don’t know if I would…ah…”

“Turn around.”

She obeyed on wobbly legs. In her mind’s eye, he put his hand on her back, just between her shoulder blades and pushed forward so that she bent over the chair. She pictured herself spreading her legs for him and biting her lower lip hard while he lifted her skirt and probed between her thighs for the hardening nub of her clit.

Instead he merely removed her blouse, sliding the cuffs over her wrists. He placed the garment on the stool he’d been sitting on and then brought his hands up in delicate strokes along her spine to the clasp of her bra.

“Will you allow me to—”

“Yes!”


To read more about Skin visit Ellora’s Cave!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sports-man-ship

I’m a big sports fan (and have been devouring coverage of the Australian Open) but when it came time to talk about sports my heroes played I came up blank. (Well except for my contemporary which co-stars an ex-NFL player.)

I think the reason my guys don’t play sports is because they’re either wooing the heroine (or keeping her out of trouble) or doing their job. The closest thing I could come up with to a sport for Awyn from TIES OF VALOR was programmed practice in something akin to Star Trek’s Holo chamber. Or if a programmed foe wouldn’t do, he always had men from his garrison to wrestle of cross swords with. I guess in some way that is sport, because if you beat everyone you get bragging rights.

And then there’s anti-social Kendron from JUST ONE LIFE, who can’t play with anyone for fear of putting them in arms way. When I wanted him to have alone time, but still be active (because as Nora says you can’t have your characters standing still) I came up with the idea to use martial arts. (Think Duncan MacLeod from Season 4 of Highlander when he’s thinking in the dojo. I actually wrote the scene after watching the end of the intro over and over to describe the movements.) Though I know martial arts is a sport, how can you really keep score when you’re not fighting anyone?

Now if woman chasing was a sport all my guys would be on the roster. All of my guys are skilled at that activity. But I’d have to say Ravin from ALL I EVER WANTED would take the gold for that sport, since he can’t go anywhere without women tossing themselves at him. As for going the long haul in that event, I’d have to say Samson from CRASH INTO YOU. Chasing a ghost of a woman for a thousand years does seem like a record-breaking feat.

This whole sitch makes me think…I need to incorporate more sports into my writing! Which means studying hero types in action…hmmm, Andy Roddick (tennis player) as a rim-riding cosmic gunslinger. Taking it one step farther…HHH (from WWE) as a futuristic alien Conan who slices and dices with light sabers instead of steel. (Both can already do the day-to-day grunt work.) I think there’s promise there.

__________________________

If you want to check out an up-and-comer in the writing world check out Mai Christy. She’s one of the final four in the American Title contest and is a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breathrough contest. (Provided the judges at Amazon like your insightful review, you could win $2,000!) If you’re a fantasy lover, cast a vote for Mai by following the links!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Heroic Sports?

Humans have participated in tests of bravery and skill throughout history. Sometimes this was to impress a possible mate, sometimes it was to acquire prestige or perhaps the leadership position of that particular group. No matter the reason, it was always a stirring sight.

Among the first, most renowned challenges were the Olympics where the best athletes of the day competed amongst themselves. Their prize? Prestige and a laurel crown. Although women were banned from the spectator stands (the games were dedicated to the male god, Zeus), you can be sure that these prime athletes caught many a feminine eye.

In the medieval age, knights held Tourneys both to proclaim their knightly skills and to earn prizes. Their skills were battle-oriented and what fair maiden wouldn’t want a man with the skills to protect her?

Today we have many organized sports both professional and amateur. My favorite is hockey (I’m a Detroit Red Wings fan). Now there’s a sport full of break neck speed and huge amounts of testosterone. So it seemed reasonable that when I needed a sport to display on the holovision in a bar, I’d choose something like hockey.

Well, the keyword is something :D This particular story is a futuristic so I let my mind take elements of hockey and combine it with future tech to create a game that I’ve so far left unnamed. The only thing I named was a team playing it – Jet Sliders. Why? Because the game isn’t important to the story, only to the culture of that time and place. It takes a bare mention before it’s relegated to the background.

Huh? I can hear you asking. Well, the answer is simple. I grew up with a Dad who mastered the art of watching two football games on TV while listening to another on the radio. No joke. It was the holy hours of Sunday afternoons and woe to the person who interrupted with anything less that a lethal injury.

While I loved my Dad, I don’t find sitting in front of a TV for hours watching other men play a game all that heroic. And the heroes in my stories might watch an occasional game but they’re not the sort to be ‘addicted’ to it. They’re more the sort who will PLAY the game, testing themselves, their skills, their strengths.

Heroes are ‘doers’. Like the Olympic champions or medieval knights, they go after the prize, whatever it may be. That’s what sets them apart from other men. That’s what makes them heroes.

-- Lynda

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Love and Other Indoor Sports

Don't take the title seriously folks, this is really a two-prong posting.

First off, this is our week for letting readers know about our heroes favorite sports. This is actually a tentative question I ask my heroes when I interview them for my books. The title of the question is actually "hobbies" but I include their favorite sports under that heading. I don't actually have much in the way of sports in my futuristics and sci-fi's, though I have come up with a kind of bocci/bumper pool hybrid for one of them. In my contemporaries, I put in pool, bowling, strong man competitions, Austrailian Football (a new passion of mine!), rugby (watched a great match last night between Glouster and Ulster), hockey and anything else I can manage. However, I have yet to make any of my heroes sports nuts. I just spend so much time weaving the romance and twists in there I kind of forget about the sports angle. Though most of my heroes- and heroines for that matter- are crazy about muscle cars. As am I. It's kind of a fun, reoccuring theme for me.

I think the reason I tend to not concentrate too much on the sports aspect is because my own husband isn't into sports. In general, I know more about them and the players than he does - with the exception of rugby and the AFL (Austrailian Football). I don't think a hero has to be into sports to be hunky and sexy and hot (oh my!). Maybe it's because I like cerebral men. Yes...I'm the one who lusted after Spock instead of Kirk, but hey...what do you want. To me it was logical.

With that said, I do realize the basis for the entire sports aspect being important. The whole gridiron as gladitorial games sceneario and all. The call of the warrior within to test his strength and cunning against other men. I get that...I just don't know if I have time to show it in my books with all the other stuff I have going on. Maybe that's why I choose more obscure sports (at least for Americans) for my characters. Or at least the ones most people don't flock too. That way I'm not forced to do too much research by way of talking baseball, basketball or football.

Now for the Love part....

Today marks the release of my novel The Host:Shadows by MK Mancos. Here's a little trailer to whet your appetite.






-Kat

Friday, January 18, 2008

Extravaganza!

In almost every book there is inevitably a grand scene that reveals some kind of pomp and circumstance…be it a graduation, a coronation or a ball. In other words an excuse to dress to the nines and hobnob occasionally above one’s station.

I myself don’t rub elbows with the elite much, but have the past couple of years gotten to see how the other half live. I will admit to knowing a few well off people, though I wouldn’t call them friends. They’re my co-workers, that weird breed that falls into the gray zone as far as business mates and chums.

For the past couple years I’ve gotten to transform a la Cinderella style with beautiful dresses and updos for my company’s annual holiday party at the local Country Club. Need I remind you who they usually let into these places?

As I write this I’m about to get dolled up, with the whole nine yards of a fresh bath, scented lotion, makeup (which I almost never wear with the exception of Halloween), stockings, nice lingerie and my evening dress.

For now I’m kicking it in my "Ladies Night" Justice League pjs, since I’ve got a bit of time to kill.

Isn’t it amazing the transformation heroes and heroines can go through themselves for these big events? I think it’s a fabulous chance to show their characters, not only with what they wear but how they act. I know a few people who are stuffed shirts, and others who choose this occasion to really let their hair down (and are sorry for it come Monday morning). These scenes can show a woman’s innate beauty come to the forefront, that a down and out urchin can clean up well, and that men on occasion do truthfully now how to act in civilized society.

Honestly I feel like Firefly’s mechanic Kaylee dressed up to the go to the ball in that flouncy ball gown with the hoops. Though my borrowed purple sheath with a hint of lace doesn’t conjure thoughts of Scarlett. I will feel out of place (since I rarely wear dresses), but I’ll try real hard not to make a fool of myself. The best part is that I’ll also have a dashing man on my arm and just might take home a little loot.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Witch Hunt?

I thought long and hard about this article and finally decided that I’d take the risk of posting it. Risk? Because I’m going to state how I feel about one of the Internet’s most vicious groups.

I’m sure you all have heard about the big brouhaha with the romance writer accused of plagiarism. Let me be clear...I do not now nor ever have I condoned plagiarism in any form. But neither do I appreciate a ‘witch hunt’.

Again, let me be clear. The writer accused of allegedly plagiarizing is not one of my favorite authors, nor even close to them. I am assured she is a genuinely nice person (by those who know her) but I have never found much interest in her books. The few that I’ve read left me cold and I was thankful that I’d not spent money on them. (They were freebies from RWA National.) I will admit that seeing a particular reference to a type of technology that I was sure wasn’t available in the time frame of the story did send me googling for facts about it. And I was right. The technology would have been extremely unlikely at that place and time.

That did not prompt me, however, to do a search for particular phrases to determine their origins. No, what it did was convince me that I would never purchase her books.

Not so with these other bloggers. They’ve spent hours, perhaps days, ‘ferreting’ out the phrases that ‘were written in a different voice’ from the author’s own. One has to wonder why they went to such lengths.

They claim their intent is altruistic; that they merely want to bring an ‘injustice’ to light. Perhaps they did. Or perhaps…not.

They’ve created a controversy and that draws hits. They’ve created a furor and that draws hits. I won’t even address the ‘glee’ I hear in their voices as they post the juicy details, as they build ever higher the bonfire to 'burn the witch' on.

And this isn’t the first time they’ve done this though perhaps it is the first time they’ve been quite so vicious. They’ve a track record for such antics.

You know who I’m talking about. I won’t give their web url or name them. Why not? Because that’s what they want, in my opinion. Hits, hits and more hits. It may be that this is their way to attain ‘popularity’ or ‘immortality’. I don’t know.

All I know is that because of these...women, the romance genre is again being lambasted as ‘bodice-rippers’ and ‘trashy’ books. Only now, in addition to being ‘trashy’, we’ll bear the stigma of being plagiarists too lazy to take our research and put it into our own words.

I won’t buy this writer’s books, not because of her alleged plagiarism, but because I simply don’t like her writing. And neither will I contribute to more ‘hits’ to a site so desperate for ‘popularity’.

I left high school long ago.

What are your thoughts?

-- Lynda

Monday, January 14, 2008

Guest Blogger - KS Augustin

It goes without saying that it takes a particular geeky frame of mind to write science-fiction romance, but I suppose it also takes a particular geeky frame of mind to read it too. And that's very heartening to me. You see, when I was at school, I was one of those spectacle-wearing, book-reading, propellor-heads. Other kids would come to me asking for help with their homework, but I wasn't really the type to be invited to any of their parties. In a way, nothing much has changed; I'm still that person who other people sometimes edge away from, but I'm more comfortable in my own skin now.

The problem with being one of the geeky kids is that, as you grow to adulthood, you're struck by the thought that there's something different and alone about you. Life happens in another room, while you try--with varying degrees of success--to decipher the bass notes that creep in under that closed door, or through the adjoining wall. You never think that there are whole other bunches of people out there who may like the same things you do, because there never seemed to be in the past.

And yet, here we are, and I'm still staring around in dumbfounded amazement. Samhain Publishing, for example, keeps saying they want more futuristic romances. More?! Like, the stuff I write? The stuff that came out of a brain that I somehow always thought of being out of sync with the rest of the universe? People want to read that? Wow! Who'da thunk it? And I read the same from other publishers too...women who love sci-fi romance themselves and would like to see more of it published. These women make sound business decisions in their positions as publishers and editors, so if they say they want sci-fi, who am I to argue with them?

So, to all of the sci-fi romance READERS out there, thank you. You are where the demand is ultimately coming from. If I'm still sporting that startled, deer-in-the-headlights look on my face, it's because of you...and I wouldn't have it any other way.


BRIEF BIO:

Latest release:
Combat!, a first-person erotic sci-fi romance, with lashings of martial arts. Available from Samhain Publishing (http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/product_info.php?products_id=803).

Also available:
The Commander's Slave, an erotic sci-fi romance about a driven and duty-bound man and the woman he casually bought but can't stop thinking about. A CAPA 2007 nominee. Available from New Concepts Publishing (http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/thecommandersslave.htm).
On Bliss, an erotic sci-fi short story about a man, condemned for nothing more than his origins, and a woman from the same government who put him there. Available from Total-E-Bound (http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?s=ls3vYy85361&strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=128).
Prime Suspect, an erotic sci-fi romance about difference, prejudice and redemption, with an hermaphrodite protagonist. Available from Total-E-Bound (http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?s=ls3vYy85361&strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=164).
The Dragon of Ankoll Keep, a fantasy romance pairing a broken thief with a compassionate man-dragon. A Romance Junkies Blue Ribbon Favorite. Available from Samhain Publishing (http://www.mybookstoreandmore.com/product_info.php?products_id=715).

KS Augustin discovered science-fiction at the age of eight, and romance at the age of sixteen. Unfortunately, it took her considerably longer to combine the two! Before being hit by a brainwave, she was an IT project manager, political essayist, comedy writer, bookshop owner, martial arts' instructor, and a few other things she'd rather forget. She and her husband have lived and worked in Europe, Australia, North America and are now based in south-east Asia. They have two reasonably happy children and two grumpy cats.

2007 was a good year, with five releases. You can catch more details of those releases, her opinionated blog, and information overload at http://www.ksaugustin.com

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Change of Medium

We've all done it—written articles for newsletters or writers' sites in an attempt to pass our knowledge on to others. Usually I can riff on any topic, throwing in comic relief here and there, making witty comments and ancedotes. This week I wrote an article for my local chapter's newsletter and had probably one of the most difficult times writing a non-fiction article I've ever had.

What's up with that?

It was only a 400-500 word article, so not very long, but you'd think I had the total removal of all my teeth without anasthetic just to get the thing written. Why was it so hard? Why did I sit and stare at the keyboard and screen as if the blinking cursor mocked my every letter, space and punctuation. It was a completely painful experience. It wasn't mandatory or compulsory, but when you're a member of a group it's nice to participate. I generally enjoy writing the articles (this is I think the third or fourth I've written for the newsletter), but I really had a hard time.

Again, I ask why?

This exercise has made me appreciate those days when the words flow from me like gravy over mashed taters. The thing is, I totally enjoy balancing all the fiction I write with the occasional non-fiction. It's fun and can be just as creative as the short stories. However, it did make me want to rethink the way I do things. Or at least the way I limit my focus.

Often times, my thoughts are scattered, blowing in the breeze like so many fallen leaves. When I sit down at the computer I really attempt to center my thoughts and pump the work out. Usually, I'll go through periods where it's harder to produce than others—all writers go through times like that—but taking 3 days to write a 500 word article...a little ridiculous, even for a procrastinator like me. But I found myself staring at the screen...mind drifting...focus shifting...oompa music playing...Gilmore Girls blaring...

Now that the new year has come upon us, I need to reevaluate my time table and schedule for what I'm writing and when. I had thought to write a paranormal comedy for The Wild Rose Press' Halloween story deadline in January. Doesn't look like that is going to happen. Though I love the story I came up with and will eventually finish it, I think I need to stay on track with the other 3 novels I'm currently working on.

So, what does this have to do with that blasted article I wrote?

Glad you asked. It proves that sometimes we create our own havoc in our writing lives. That it doesn't matter what form my writing takes, detours are bound to occur.

-Kat

Thursday, January 10, 2008

In Which Xandra Goes Meta

There's something very interesting happening in Romancelandia, that I have only recently noticed and been able to articulate. It's a fascinating phenomenon, and one I'm watching--and hopefully participating in, in some small way--with enthusiasm.

A friend of mine recently remarked on the so-called "stigma" of e-books--she's not a writer, but she is a voracious reader and keeps tabs on the genre. We got to talking about the perception that ebooks were the books that New York rejected, and the implications both good and bad of that assumption. In the course of the conversation, we figured out something, which I will explain below...eventually, as it is my way to be long-winded and meandering. ;)

It's not an untruth to say that many e-books are, in fact, ones that New York publishers wouldn't buy. That is not to say that they aren't worthy reads in themselves--only that they didn't fit New York's idea of publishable due to any number of reasons, which led us to our first point--that the e-book market diverges from the mass-market paperback market from a pure materials management point of view. The cost to produce and market an e-book differs from the cost to produce and market a paperback. The time to do so also differs--everybody knows the intert00bz moves faster. Ergo, the constraints that limit an e-publisher differ from those that limit a print publisher, so print and e-books are two different products which nevertheless have a lot of things in common, including a large portion of their individual target markets.

More discussion on our part, however, further identified a key difference between e- and print, and that was the subject matter. It's no secret that erotica and erotic romance have taken off, and it's largely due to e-publishers leading the way for a variety of reasons (rapid response medium, streamlined production process, plentiful raw material, and little competitive demand for it among those reasons, and the internetz being made for pr0n in all its flavor being another), and that led us to the meat of our discussion. The e-publishing industry being as young as it is (and let's nevermind the fact that the internet is run in dog-years and ten years is venerable Methuselah status--we're talking meatspace in this instance), it's hard not to notice that the product (the e-book) remains wildly unstandardized in matters ranging from file format to delivery method to the more subjective subject of subject matter (say that three times fast), and the not-as-subjective matter of quality assurance standards (and the immediate nature of the internet brings qa issues like typos and such to the light faster, as well as granting a quicker opportunity for production adjustments to correct those issues).

But also emerging was the wide range of what my friend called "rawness" in the body of e-publishing, as opposed to what was found in her print experiences. I understand what she means, and without trying to place a value judgment on it, the body of e-work does have more unconventional-ness to it. Sometimes this manifests as unskilled writing craft, other times this manifests as odd or unusual storytelling cadence or subject matter. In some cases, this can be fixed, and in other cases, it may be better served to be left alone.

Huh? you say. But doesn't Xandra blather on incessantly about writing craft stuff all the time? Isn't she obsessed with trying to learn that much more about what makes a better writer? Well, yeah, I do. But here we come to the rich and chocolatey center of my point. E-books are made up largely of more erotic works, and their explosion has done something not just for publishing, but for the body of consciousness known as women's fantasies. In the meta of things, e-books have busted a huge hole in the boundary field of acceptability in women's fantasies.

Four or five years ago, if I wanted to read a love story with a hero, a heroine, and another hero, I would have to either hang out on the internetz with pervs or fanficcers (and the venn diagram that includes "pervs," "fanficcers," and "regular people" is one with a massive intersection, don't let anyone tell you different) or in highly secretive enclaves attuned to a particular kink as a lifestyle. Now, I can go to Liquid Silver or any number of the reputable e-pubs without having to expend much effort, and find my kink without changing out of my jammies, and before I finish my first cuppa. And without having to hide under a blanket or visit websites laden with viruses, spyware, and malware ready to trash my computer.

E-books right now are at the intersection of literature, entertainment, and consciousness dialogue. Especially erotica and erotic romance e-books. Yes, it can get messy. But pushing boundaries is rarely a mess-free activity. As the subgenres of electronic erotic romance and electronic erotica grow and mature, I have no doubt the dust will settle and literary standards will make themselves known. But at the present, there's a messy sort of exuberance evident in a body of work that includes a percentage of works that are new, raw, and formerly unspoken. Like I said, an interesting time indeed.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Horizons

As a kid all the cartoons I liked—Spiderman, Bionic 6, Captain Planet, Galaxy Rangers—pushed the boundaries of convention. I do admit I like to explore those nooks and crannies around every corner, though those are usually the ones that led to heroines getting into trouble.

This year, eager to set some good resolutions, I decided not to let my fears get the better of me. Looking at the photo album my aunt gave me for Christmas, I wondered what happened to that kid that loved adventure?

The answer is simple I got old and turned into a scaredy cat. Which is also one of the reasons I think I’ve been in a slump of late. I usually jump right on projects, but lately I’ve been in a lull over novels editors and agents have asked for. Which means now I’m up to my eyeballs in work (not just at my full-time job).

So I needed to rededicate myself…reinvent myself. That started with a promise to get in shape…again. And to not let my fears stop me from venturing into territory I hadn’t charted.

In answer to that personal call to arms, I volunteered to do my local chapter’s newsletter—The Final Draft. I knew I had the design knack, but hadn’t really ever tried my hand at running a “paper”. I sent the first issue out New Years Day to an overwhelmingly warm response. So I get a gold star for that achievement.

Next I decided to act on my idea to branch into non-fiction. This past Sunday I finished off my secretarial notes from a meeting of said local chapter (because the person taking over that job was ill) and decided there was no time like the present. I opened a fresh document and set to work putting down the ideas I’d brainstormed in the 2 hour drive from Charlotte. In about an hour I was done. Before I lost my nerve I sent it to a local, high-end magazine editor and then did the nervous dance. I figured the worst she could tell me was that I’d missed the February deadline or that she wasn’t interested in my article. I’d already been told no plenty of times by editors/agents, so what was one more?

That night I found a bounce-back e-mail sitting in my box. Her inbox was too full. I promised myself that I’d give her a few hours the next morning to clean it out, then resubmit. Once again what was the worst that could come from sending that e-mail again? No boogey man was going to jump out from my screen (unlike those e-cards that make you scream).

Since said full-time job is super busy I didn’t get to log in to my online account until lunch. There in my inbox sat an e-mail from the editor of ALAMANCE WOMAN. Nervously I clicked on it and to my surprise found that I’d just made the deadline and though she couldn’t offer me any money, she would love to include my article in the February edition. So “Be Mine: 9 Valentines on a Dime” will be out on stands everywhere in my hometown boasting not only my picture but also a pretty hefty byline.

So if you’re counting that’s 2 gold stars for me. In response to the good news I’ve already sent another article to my local paper and am working on some pieces to test the waters for national publication. And since I dream big, I’ve mocked up a idea/pocket book I’d like to market based on my Romantic Tidbits.

But I haven’t forgotten my old goals! I still want a romance on the shelf, or atleast on the web. And I still want to be able to do a booksigning and meet my readers. This is just a way to confirm that people like my writing.

Having that reaffirmation means, I will be taking my edits to the gym to work on as sweat rolls down my brow. Now if I could only figure out how to safely prop my laptop on the treadmill…I’m sure I’ll figure out a way. People don’t call me the go-to girl for nothing.
___________________________
In a funny aside a fellow Carolina Romance Writers' chaptermate told me this morning that she has a free read coming out February 1st entitled Be Mine. You can check it out here: http://www.allromanceebooks.com

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Got Post-Holiday Doldrums? Here's your cure!

Well, here is, January 8. The decorations are getting old and probably coming down. Presents have been opened (hope you got some good ones). You’re probably dieting to shed some of that holiday weight and you’re probably back to work. It’s winter, the sky is gloomy and the weather is cold. The holidays are all past us.

Not so! There’s a plethora of holidays that take place on this day. So okay, maybe they’re not well-known, NATIONAL holidays, but, heck, they’re still a good excuse to put your party on.

National English Toffee Day
I used to make candy and I still bake bread from scratch…You could always make your own English toffee but the Heath Bar is a fine way to go (and lots easier!). But if you’re dieting, you might want to skip this one.

National Joy Germ Day
Here’s a holiday I’d never heard of and it immediately brought to mind weird things like a new health food or a street name for a drug (I did say weird, didn’t I?) But the real idea behind this day is much nicer. It’s a day devoted to the spreading of kindness, courtesy and other good things. It sure beats what sprang to my weird little mind. I’d definitely advocate celebrating this one. Every day!

Show and Tell Day at Work
The idea here is that since students have show and tell at school, adults should get to do the same. I don’t know about other offices but the gals in my office celebrate this about three times a week (we’ve got a lot of crafters so that may up our statistics)


Birthday - Elvis Presley (Singer)

While this isn’t a holiday, it is a good day to pay homage to one of the most well-known singers/performers we’ve ever known.

Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8, 1935–August 16, 1977), was an American singer, musician and actor. He is a cultural icon, often known as "The King of Rock 'n' Roll", or simply "The King".

Presley began his career as one of the first performers of rockabilly, an uptempo fusion of country and rhythm and blues with a strong back beat. His novel versions of existing songs, mixing "black" and "white" sounds, made him popular—and controversial—as did his uninhibited stage and television performances. He recorded songs in the rock and roll genre, with tracks like "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock" later embodying the style. Presley had a versatile voice and had unusually wide success encompassing other genres, including gospel, blues, ballads and pop. To date, he is the only performer to have been inducted into four music halls of fame.

In the 1960s, Presley made the majority of his thirty-three movies—mainly poorly reviewed musicals. In 1968, he returned to live music in a television special and thereafter performed across the U.S., notably in Las Vegas. Throughout his career, he set records for concert attendance, television ratings and recordings sales. He is one of the best-selling and most influential artists in the history of popular music. Health problems plagued Presley in later life which, coupled with a punishing tour schedule and addiction to prescription medication, led to his premature death at age 42.

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Bubble Bath Day

Today is a fun day to relax and enjoy the warm and soothing pleasures of a bubble bath. Best of all, it can be enjoyed by kids and adults. For kids, it's playtime. For adults, it's soothing pleasure but, well, it can also be playtime (eg)

On Bubble Bath Day, there are a couple of ways to enjoy your bubble bath. It depends upon how old you are.

For kids, it's simple.... Just fill the tub with bubbles and toys. Then hop in and play!

For the ladies, its time to relax! Fill the tub with bubbly water. Hop in and just enjoy the soothing water and bubbles. Before hopping in, set the mood with candles placed (safely) around the bathroom and tub. Add a radio playing softly on the sink counter.

For the guys: Don't feel left out! With permission, you can hop in, too! Get in touch with your feminine side, and make sure the candles are lit. You can relax and/or play. The proper sequence is relax, play, relax. I highly recommend both!

Oh, and don't forget your rubber duckie!

Male (Man) Watcher's Day
Ladies, here is a day that we can thoroughly enjoy! Male Watcher's Day is for all of us ladies to go out and watch the guys. After all, they have their fun watching us. Now, it's our turn.

You can perform your Male Watching just about anywhere that suits your fancy. Popular places include:

* Watching them at work on the job, especially labor jobs where short shirts cover flowing muscles.
* On the beach...too bad this day is in January. Lucky you, though, if you live in a warm climate!
* Watching your favorite guy working....on a home project you wanted done.
* At a singles bar or sports bar.
* At the mall...it's time to get even. This is where more than one guy has been known to visit for the sole purpose of watching the ladies. This may be your favorite.

It is okay to perform Male Watching discreetly, or quite visibly. Single, unattached ladies may prefer to be seen male watching.......for obvious reasons. Those of us who are married may want to be a tad more subtle, especially if our husbands are near.

So don’t let the after-holiday doldrums get you down. Start celebrating!

Lynda