Monday, March 31, 2008

Where My Romances Come to Life

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to make one of my Haines characters a writer. Then word came down from NY that using a writer as a character wasn't a wise decision. But I decided I'd show you my inspiration for Jenn's converted home office, since it's similar to what I'd love to have.
















Thanks to Sandra Brown's MySpace page I decided to make a video about the nook where I'm currently writing my romances. I do have to say my current office is far better than using an Operation board game for a desk while sitting on my bed. No lie, that's where my last two novels and articles were penned! Jokingly I told my mom and sister they'd have to stop by to see my blend of Ms. Green meets Disney Princesses. Lol!

video

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As I mentioned we'll be featuring Jenna Black for our April Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview. She has a home office to turn anyone green with envy! Click here to check it out!

National Disaster = Fantastic Office = National Disaster

This week’s theme is…what is your office like?

Well, to be honest, it’s a disaster at the moment. Normally, it flips between that disaster state and a sort of neat, orderly condition every month or so. It seems that whenever we do a major overhaul of another room, things…migrate to my office there to reside until such time that I get totally aggravated and throw them out.

I’ve been trying to set the room up according to the tenets of Feng Shui. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s a system that says certain objects should be located in certain places to aid in your mental, emotional, creative aspects among other things.

It would probably work…if it weren’t for those alternating disaster states :D

In general, I do love my office. Once upon a time, my desk was located in the living room at the foot of the stairs. When I’d work, my hubby or daughter would sit on the steps and start talking. That way they could see me and see if I was paying attention or not. It worked – for them – because I’d stop typing and listen to what they had to say. Then my daughter moved out.

Her bedroom became my office. I repainted the walls (they’re now a lovely lavender), bought new blinds, got a small TV, an end table with a lovely Tiffany style lamp. I’ve got an easy chair in the rec room I’d like to bring up…if I could relocate some of the stuff that worms its way into the room. And if I could figure out a way to keep it from being a launching pad for Wookie to attack the computer (it seems that when I work, everyone including the cat, wants my attention, lol). I suspect I’ll have to rearrange the furniture once again before that happens.

And, no, I can’t lock Wookie out. We actually share the room. I say share but those of you with feline companions know what I really mean, lol. In her opinion, the room, indeed, the entire house, is hers and we are all subject to her will. Typical cat :D

But I love her and my hubby and my daughter even if they do interrupt. At least they now have to walk all the way up the stairs and into my office. That’s exercise and that’s good for them, lol

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

There Are No Lunar Calendars In Space

I was thinking about Easter this weekend (duh!) and pondering the nature of the festival and how it would change in a different environment. My family and I do not celebrate the Christian holiday, but rather the older festival that runs concurrent and incorporates much of the symbology we see today in the Northern hemisphere. The older festival also happened to coincide with the weekend itself this year. I'm speaking, of course, of the equinox, which is used in Easter calculations and a celebration in and of itself.

It's also an astronomical point, the point where the center of the sun lies directly over the equator, and the day and night are of approximately equal length. But the equinox here on Earth has unique properties. On another planet, there will be equinoxes...but they won't be the same. The seasons other planets experience will occur according to their positions and points in their orbits around their primaries. They'll happen at different times, and have different effects and meanings.

I got to thinking just how many of our holidays--great and small--are fixed on or near an astronomical event, and realized that on another planet, those astronomical events would be fundamentally different. A year on another planet will likely not be the same length of time as ours. Days and weeks and months and seasons would all have their own unique feel and length. It's an idea that's as awesome as it is freaky. I mean, I'm a seasonally affected person. It doesn't debilitate me like some sufferers, but I do get a little crazy around this time of year.

And diurnal rhythms--my body knows when it's 7:30. Not that I wouldn't be grateful for a few extra hours in the day, but think of how that would affect everything from what time you wake up in the morning, how long you work, to how "old" you are.

Astronomically based holidays on other planets would be a likely occurrence--a welcome one, since they do connect people to the planets on which they live. They make up a significant portion of the unique culture springing up on a planet and are one facet of a rich pattern of fascinating existence.

Schmaltzy decorations, however, should be optional.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Guest - Leslie Hodges, Editor

Good morning, everyone. Angela gave a wonderful introduction for this week's guest in today's first post so without further ado, let's welcome Leslie Hodges of Wings ePress, Inc.



What makes an editor choose one book over another? Is it the story? The characterization? What is it that makes me want to contract a book?

Truthfully? I don't have a tried and true process. I look for submissions that interest me as a reader. It can be one or many things, but there must be something about the book that draws me in, makes me feel an emotional connection to the characters. There are, however, some things that I do look for, or things that make me reject a manuscript.

For starters, I can’t tell you how many manuscripts I receive that read like a first draft. These manuscripts contain many misused words, grammatical errors and typos. I receive manuscripts on a regular basis that have problems with homonyms, or verb tense. No matter how good the story is, this kind of thing makes it hard to get through without being distracted by these problems. I’m not saying the manuscript needs to be absolutely perfect. But basic writing skills are essential. As an editor, I’m willing to work with an author to improve the manuscript and help with the writing, but it’s not my job to teach English 101 to an author.

World Building is essential to any story not set on Earth as we know it. When you have your book set on other planets or worlds, you need to build those worlds and try to explain everything possible about that world to the reader within the context of the story. This means establishing social mores, politics, religion and philosphies of this world, and making sure that the reader can visualize these worlds completely. You, as the author, needs to let the reader know exactly what your world is like. You are the creator of this world. Just because you can see it clearly in your head, it doesn’t mean your reader can. You need to do the necessary work in your writing to explain everything about that world to your readers.

Compelling Characters will make all the difference. You need character descriptions that paint a vivid picture in the mind of the reader. They need to be able to visualize the two main characters (hero and heroine) in a romance, plus they also need to be able to "see" the villain. We need, not only the physical description, but also the emotional description--what makes this person tick? To build a great character you need to know that person inside and out. That may mean doing a character chart. For example, what is this person's background? Did they come from a loving family? Were there two parents in the home? Were there siblings? Was this character the first born? The middle child? The baby? Were they wealthy? Middle class? Poor? Were they church goers? What religion? How devout? How well educated is she/he? What is his/her profession? Do they smoke? Drink? What is his/her favorite meal? Who is the best friend? For how long? Since grade school? High school? College? You need not reveal all of this information to your reader but if you know it, it will come across in the story and you will be able to better portray your characters because you will know how they would react in any situation. Characters in a novel need to be emotionally appealing to your reader. Otherwise, why should they continue to read the story?

If you are writing a romance novel, your Hero/Heroine need to have good chemistry. And I don’t mean just sex scenes. A couple needs to have chemistry outside the bedroom. The reader needs to be able to picture them being together forever. Just putting your characters in a bedroom and letting them have sex doesn’t give them chemistry. I read so many submissions where I just can’t see enough chemistry for it to be realistic that the two of them could possibly end up together--and many times as a reader, I don’t want them to. That’s not good in a romance novel. You want your reader to believe in their love.

Oh! And here is one I’m going to throw in that may sound quite unusual, but it happened again recently and really ticked me off, so I’m going to pass it on it you. When I write a rejection letter, sometimes I use a generic one, but if I feel a book has real promise I will take the time to write a detailed letter of the areas I feel that an author can work on to make the book better. And I tell them that if they are interested in making these changes, I’d be happy to take another look at the manuscript. I try to make these letters as kind and constructive as I can. I understand it’s hard for an author to get a rejection letter. You would not believe the amount of snarky, rude letters I get back from authors. Some of them telling me things like I’m a clueless hack that doesn’t know what I’m talking about. (I always mumble something under my breath at these about how I may be a clueless hack, but you’re the one that submitted the manuscript to me, not the other way around). More recently I got a letter back from an author about six months after I sent the rejection letter. It stated that she was quite glad she didn’t take my rude suggestions about her story, because she had been picked up by another publisher, and look! She was their current bestseller, so it just goes to show I had no clue what I was talking about. Curiousity demanded I click on the link. She was with a publisher I had never heard of, and they had for sale her book and three others. So she was the bestseller out of four available books. Like somehow that was going to make me regret not contracting her manuscript. My point is (yes, I do have one, this isn’t just a rant), I will never accept another submission from her again. When she queries, I will decline to look at the manuscript. I keep a file of authors that are problems. Why? Because if an author is a problem before I ever contract one of their books, what will they be like afterwards? Act like a professional no matter how you feel about the editor/agent, etc. They may be publishing your book someday.

Finally, some last bits of advice that I hope you find helpful: I’m always looking for something completely different from what you would see on the market. A different plot, concept, etc. For example, while vampire romances are extremely popular, it's becoming difficult to come up with a fresh plot. Not that I don't want to see vamp novels--I do, just make sure your tale has something a little different, something special to set it apart from the hundreds of others out there. I'd say the same is true for shapeshifters of the wolven variety. Give me something just a little different. The problem with novels of this type is that the basic premise is the same for the vampires or werewolves, so you need something that makes your book unique, to stand out from the others. I am looking for books to find that unusual spark to make the reader sit up and take notice.

It is a good practice to find several objective readers or critique partners to read your story and give you comments on their impressions. If you do this without trying to explain anything to them about the story, you can begin to see some areas where you, as a writer, have not made things as clear on paper as they are in your imagination.

Lastly, believe in yourself. Don’t give up, and never stop writing.

Leslie Hodges
Senior Editor: Historical Romance
Managing Editor: FF&P, General Fiction
Wings ePress, Inc.

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Introducing Leslie Hodges, Editor of Wings ePress

I'd like to introduce you to Leslie Hodges, one of our editors from Wings ePress, which publishes both e-books and trade paperbacks. She's been the editor for all my books since I started with Wings, and is so easy to work with! She takes a genuine interest in her authors, and is always easy to approach. I can't say enough good things about Leslie - she doesn't even yell at me for STILL making mistakes with pre-propositional endings!!!!

So, here is Leslie's bio! Enjoy! - Angela

Friday, March 21, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright....Interstellar Interview with Angela Knight

Angela Knight is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of books for Berkley, Red Sage, Changeling Press, and Loose Id.

Besides her fiction work, Angela's publishing career includes a stint as a comic book writer and ten years as a newspaper reporter. Several of her stories won South Carolina Press Association awards.

In 1996, she discovered the small press publisher Red Sage, and realized her dream of romance publication in the company's SECRETS 2 anthology. She went on to publish several more novellas before editor Cindy Hwang discovered her work and asked her if she'd be interested in writing for Berkley.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Angela for a couple of years, so when I pictured who I’d love to kick off the Star Light, Star Bright…Interstellar Interviews with I knew she was my first choice. But I had to ready myself for her to say no, since she is a professional author on tight deadlines. When she said she’d be able to squeeze me in, I was over the moon, and as she says “doing the snoopy dance”.

I hope you enjoy the interview, and by all means if you have questions you’ve been dying to ask, please post a comment below! And if you're in the mood to gush over her writing, do!


How important do you think it was to be a reporter before you became a full-time author? Do you think it gave you insights you otherwise wouldn’t have had?

It really did provide me with insights. It also taught me how to put your butt in the chair and work. When that 6 pm. Deadline rolled around, you had to have that story IN whether you knew what to write or not. So the discipline was important. So was the experience of listening to cops on the scanner, going to crime scenes, going to fires, watching cops and firefighters and even school board officials at work. If you read my books, you’ll see all those people doing their jobs. The reason Diana was a city administrator in MASTER OF THE MOON was because I was so impressed with the Woodruff city administrator at the time. The town in MASTER OF THE MOON is basically Woodruff, very thinly veiled.


I’m certain your readers have favorite characters, but do you have a certain heroine or hero you’re fonder of? Can you tell us whom your readers commented on most?

You know, I love all of my children in different ways. I do have some I’m really fond of for various reasons. I adore Rance Conlan in SHIFTER, for example, because it’s only a 100 pages, yet he’s so very THERE there. I really think that’s one of the most successful books as a story I’ve ever done.


In your latest anthology SHIFTER, did you consult with the other ladies included or merely write toward a common overarching goal?

Nah, you consult with your editor, then you do your own thing.


Can you walk us through a usual writing day, if such a thing exists? Do you have anything, say a favorite pair of jammies, that you love to wear/use when you’re writing?

I tend to wear sweats. I try to write 10 pages or so, though I cut it back to five because I’m having back problems. And I usually hit the gym after I finish writing to burn off some energy and avoid problems with my back and stress.


In your career to date, what do you think has been the most surprising achievement you’ve received? Is there something you never expected to achieve, but have?

I was nominated for a Career Achievement award for Paranormal Romance by Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine this year, which absolutely flabbergasted me. I had no idea it was coming, or that I would be considered for such a huge honor so soon in my career.


I know you mentioned your Yahoo Group members in your non-fiction book, PASSIONATE INK and found that you have 660+ members. What can your current members and newbies look forward to by being a member?

Oh, it’s up to 1784 now. Wow. I started it with 25 in 2001. Dayam. Anyway, I send them excerpts of whatever book I’m writing, along with pictures of the nekkid men I render in Poser, which is a three-d computer graphics program. I like to send them love scenes a lot. They’re the first to know what I’m working on, and I generally noodle and ask advice about my new ideas. And also, I have all these other writers in the group – some of the group became writers after joining. So they send in bits of their stories and their love scenes too. So it’s fun.


Lastly, can you give us any hints on what you have lined up for the future including what you’ll be up to at RT’s conference in April?

Well, I’ll be doing several panels on vampires, and I’ll be signing copies of SHIFTER and PASSIONATE INK and DARK ONE. SHIFTER and DARK ONE are anthologies. DARK ONE has a short story of mine in it, and it’s from Changeling Press, and SHIFTER is from Berkley and has a novella of mine. And PASSIONATE INK is my guide to writing erotic romance. I’ll also be going to San Francisco for RWA July 30-Aug. 2, and I’ll be signing my new novel, WARRIOR, there. Look for me at the Reader’s event on Wednesday, July 30.

If you'd like to learn more about Angela's novels and see her fabulous artwork, go to her website!



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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Rare Gem

So I almost never go shopping without a goal. A) because I’d spend every last cent I had and B) because I’d waste a lot of time. I most often find myself caught up in a hunt for someone else’s needs like a friend’s big occasion, my sister’s must have trip to Wally World or my mom’s hunt for another fabulous pair of shoes.

Of course on rare adventures, you just need to cut loose and browse the aisles for inspiration. Even if that inspiration isn’t for yourself. That can definitely be said for my jaunt to the manicured shopping mall that bridged my area’s reintroduction to the new “mall” experience. I say this because of the new idea of having stores bunched in outcropped configurations instead of together under the same roof. (In my hometown, we’ve had this set up for as long as I can remember as BMOC, the place to hit for outlet shopping.) However the Streets at Southpointe also boast restaurants, its own gas station and a posh housing complex.

I myself was on the hunt for some real NY pizza at Tomato Jake’s which we stumbled across due to a Mazda meeting. Let just say there wasn’t a speck left of that pie when my bf and I got done. So refueled, we went of in search of goods…at Super Target.

While there I went on the search for a super heroine made of plastic that wasn’t necessarily keen on sugar, spice and everything nice as a writing prop. Alas, all I could find was a new Colossus doll to drool over. Unfortunately my snipped bank account didn’t allow for the purchase since I’d already snapped a new copy of THE PRINCESS BRIDE. (If you haven’t seen it, do!)

Next we ventured to the mall itself to make a new life affectionately dubbed Vernice Hamricks. (My sister and I settled on that name while I waited for my pepperoni slices.) Inside Build-A-Bear we got sucked into a humongous line that ran right through the center of a birthday party. Note: Do not attempt to build a bear or any other creature when there are 20 kids under the age of 10 running ramshackle inside a small shop.

Eventually, my bf and I came through the ruckus with a Reading Teddy (a portion of the price goes to a reading charity) clad in a striped shirt, khaki skirt, silver hand bag with matching sandals, and some kicking white shades. And let’s not forget the piece de resistance…the blonde wig. So what prompted this birth? My sister came for a visit and asked if I had the new BAB mailer. I handed it over and couldn’t help but giggle when she flipped open to this pic:






It’s my mom to a T.




So with Vernice in tow, safely ensconced in her white cardboard box, we ventured on to HOT TOPIC. Let me tell you I *heart* this store. It’s not everyday you can walk inside a shop and pick up such kick butt tee’s as these:


(Resident Evil...enough said. I love a butt-kicking heroine and Mila (Eve) does an excellent job. This installment might not have been the best of the trilogy, but it still had it's great moments.)







(I've loved Gargoyles (especially Mr. Grouchy Goliath) since I was a teen. This is one of those cartoons I wish they'd bring back atleast to DVD. And yes, I do have Vickie Taylor's Les Gargoulliens novels!)



And no, I really didn’t need 2, but when you’ve snagged a good thing that you likely won’t find elsewhere, you’ve got to swipe the card!


Then in FYE I happened across another to make my grand total 3…
(The shirt's design matches this game graphic. Picture the logo across my chest and the assassin spanning from neck to hip.)


And a woman who I found out is Wonder Woman’s cousin. Loved the star-studded black pantsuit and arm bands! Alas, I couldn’t get passed her identical features. As I was putting her back on the shelf I noticed a dab of gold and blue spandex. Which led me to uncover something I never thought I’d find in this day and time! Booster Gold in all his visored glory!

I have long admitted that I’m a comic nut, though I’m not sure anyone besides my sister and I would relish this find so much. And of course I splurged for her! When she ripped open the bag, she ew-ed and ah-ed quadruple the amount I did in the store! But she didn’t have kids staring at her like she’d grown a second head.

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I also couldn’t resist a bit of flair that reads "I have a heart on." Yes, it's definitely a play on words! I’m sure it would’ve made a hit at RT if I’d gotten to go. I’m still bummed about that! Maybe more shopping therapy is in order. Lol!


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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Watch what you drink

I hope everyone had a great St. Patrick’s Day, ate lots of corned beef and cabbage and enjoyed some green beer yesterday. I know I did…well, except for the green beer. I’m not much of a drinker though I enjoy the occasional glass of wine or fancy mixed drink. Mostly I drink coffee (generally a flavored coffee), tea or water. Once in a while, I’ll have a pop and because I’m diabetic, it’s usually a diet soda.

After seeing the url my darling daughter sent me, I’ve decided that diet soda is too dangerous. Too downright scary.

With all the pollutants in our air, the chemical additives to prolong the shelf life in our food, or pesticides on our produce, you have to wonder why any of us are still alive. Then you hear of reports that products imported from China are poisoning our pets, our children (lead based paint on toys) or have unknown substances (a recent case of heparin imported from China)…and your anxiety factor raises up another notch.

I’m not an alarmist by nature but the results of an unofficial test on aspartame (a popular artificial sweetener is enough to strike fear into the most stalwart heart. I remember when this product first appeared on the market, we were warned not to let our children use it because it could cause brain damage. The reports were largely ignored. I mean, heck, aspartame is supposed to be a ‘natural’ artificial sweetener. How could something like that be bad for you?

Then I was sent to this url. I urge everyone to read it, to look at the photos. Go all the way to the end. Then make up your own mind.

As for me, water will remain my beverage of choice (I drink filtered water) With all the other factors I have so little control over, this is one where I can at least say – No more.

http://www.myaspartameexperiment.com/index.php

-- Lynda

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Top o' the mornin' to ya!


Sexy Comments & Profile Graphics

Just stopping by to wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm not much into green beer, but I love shamrocks and the idea of the Luck o' the Irish. In fact, I've got a story idea that's been rolling around in my head for a while now about a sexy Leprechaun and a magical poker chip...maybe one of these days I'll get to write about it.

Sexy Leprechaun, you say? Am I daft? Well, your average Leprechaun may not be the stuff of most romantic dreams, though who can resist a man with an overflowing pot of gold?

I'm off to find a Sexy Leprechaun to star in my book. Wish me luck!

-- Jennifer

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

What Kinda Crazy Idea Is That?

This week at Star-Crossed, we're blogging about the science in our stories. Every science fiction or speculative fiction story must, by definition, have some element of the fantastical in it. Even if the fantastical element is not the technology, physics, or science, but the manner in which it is used.

The science that underpins my stories is real science--most of the time, something about my worldbuilding will be triggered by an article I read on space.com, or nasa.gov, or even, gods help me, wikipedia (yes, yes, I know that wikis are notoriously hackable, but for most of the stuff I'm looking at, wikis make really nice encapsulated "layman's summaries" from which I can at least begin to understand the concept I'm researching. Fact-checking happens elsewhere). It's real science...but currently used in not-yet-real ways.

I consider it part of the speculative fiction writer's job to stretch the imagination around technology. Even if my use of a technology or aspect of physics could be kicked over by a stray sneeze by a half-decent scientist, making it work in a fictive setting presents a possibility that can then be either proven or disproven, and perhaps expanded upon or altered until it does work. Not that I'm comparing myself to the greats, but Verne, Asimov, Clarke--can we really say that they were predictive of some of the futuristic speculation they engaged in in their stories? Or did enough minds fasten upon the possibilities that these authors presented and shape discovery towards achieving the goals the authors conceptualized?

Hey, I'm no quantum physicist (although I may or may not play one on TV--until you turn the thing on! :P ), but I like to think that part of the speculative fiction writer's job is to entertain possibility through storytelling that can maybe find traction in more technical minds elsewhere.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Will All the Techies Please Stand Up?

TAKE ME IN YOUR HEART was the first novel where I tried my hand at being a mad scientist. In fact, I created a scientist, who embodied a person with the brains to create inventions beyond the average person’s comprehension. Only he was absent minded, because when you have a positive, you have to balance it with a negative. Of course, this made people nervous about using his genius-level tech toys.

I have to admit my step-dad made me a tech lover. He was always interested in new fangled gizmos and how things ticked. So, when I’m thinking of ingenious new items to add to my worlds, I think of something practical, yet with a twist. (The best mix of this for one of my characters is Rabi Hamlin. She uses her knack at raiding Radio Shack’s cheap parts and know-how from her dad to fabricate all her specialized crime fighting gear.)

In TMIYH, I created the dimaci, a range rover type vehicle as big as a tank, and yet fast as a cheetah racing over land. I created a sentient computer system that could remain fully functioning if the ventral CPU cube was carved out. I created communicators with picture feed and GPS, as well as machines that could heal—though they hadn’t been tested on mere humans.

To carry my creativity a bit further I imagined two eco-systems that show the diverse nature of the hero and heroine. One has regions with deadly climate changes and diverse abnormalities only the locals know how to circumvent (because I wanted to use them in later books). The other had two suns, and a society that is fueled by that energy, yet lacks the necessity of human touch. Building worlds can be fun, but you’d be surprised how much you have to think of in relation to the sun(s), moisture, gravity, etc. that make the world go round. What I concocted was simply based on my small grasp on ecology thanks to high school and college science classes. (Dare I flaunt that I did better in Bio than most of my classmates majoring in the field?)

However, my love for technology always rears its head (and gets me in trouble by writing futuristics). In BELIEVE IN ME, I had supped up cycles, cuffs that sported 3-D mapping technology, and surgical breakthroughs including…biotechnology. As a high-schooler I dreamed of being in the newly designed field, but unfortunately my science and math wasn’t stellar enough. And then I thought of all the mutants I might create if I botched a complex formula. But there’s something thrilling about changing an organism because of the addition of a foreign body. Just image the characteristics of steel emerging from a common animal cell…then multiply that by a 6 foot four male body packed with muscle. Wouldn’t want to be on his bad side, huh?

And I’m headed back to the techie side for LEAP DAYS with drug enhancers, digital signage, and tracking body signatures from hormones and DNA scripts. (For the latter think of pet tracking, but on a more complex biological level.) Yes, my mind does like to hop from place to place where it picks up fodder from those articles about breaking news in the science industry. Just like all stories must be based on something you know, those real-life science exhibits metamorphoses into things that people (including me) only dream of being reality. Sometimes walking the techie side is awe inspiring, but other times it can scare the “bleep” out of you.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

The Market for SFR

Since I mostly write SFR (science fiction romance) the science in my stories is very important. Not that I dump vast quantities of science factoids on my readers, I don’t. I do use science to help me develop the world or the culture in the story.

I don’t write hard SF. You won’t see the nuts and bolts although you might see a few neat gizmo’s :D And often as I’m creating a world, I’ll research a particularly (to me) interesting aspect…and end up in research nirvana (I’m a research junkie, I admit it). And even when I’m not actively researching for a particular story, I’m reading science zines, articles, magazines, books…well, you get the drift.

I like science but I also like the interaction of the characters (story is character) and I love writing romance. It wasn’t always that way. I used to write straight SF with romantic elements at most. Why? Because at one time, SFR was the bastard step-child of a bastard step-child. There was simply no market for it. Then times began to change.

One of my first published short stories concerned explorers on a small, barren planet orbiting a binary star. In it, I referenced a stream of star stuff (heheheh, technical word here – I haven’t had my coffee yet) going from one planet to the other. Some people loved the story, some people said my science was way off.

Ahem, they did change their minds, grudgingly, when I showed my research references :D

But the thing I noticed was that most of those who loved the story were women, most of those who cried foul on the research were men.

I’m not saying the gals were science duds, not at all. They loved the story because it was about a woman who saved her man from certain death (as for the science—they may have already checked it out and found it to be strong) and the subtle but growing relationship between them. Story is character :D

I recently heard a discussion hinting that men were now getting onboard with SFR, that they consider it Science Fiction With Sex. The gist of it was that they want the nuts and bolts of hard science but, hey, throw in some sex, it’s even better.

This may be true; I have no way of knowing. But I can say with no doubt that a SFR writer better have her Science down pat because someone, somewhere, will discover any mistakes and condemn her for it.

What are your thoughts on the SFR market? Do you think it's growing? That men are willingly seeking it out? And how do you perceive the science being used? Let's discuss it :D


-- Lynda
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Friday, March 07, 2008

A Few Tips On Writing That I Use

So many here have already written about characters, and I reckon in the past I've warbled on enough about what I like to see in my characters, and how I create them. Basically they start as a visual picture brought on by a song or an event, and I build them from there.

When I start a story, I always have a brief description of the hero, heroine, villain and other minor characters. I add onto this list as people come and go, depending on how important they are to a story. But as my story builds and grows, so do my characters, and they often come up with little things peculiar to them that I didn't plan originally.

But my main problem is when I'm tired and would rather curl up with a book or watch TV than write. Yes, horrors! But it does happen , especially if I've had some heavy nights at work. It takes discipline to rev up the ol' computer then.

So this is where I've found my little 'rituals' to be helpful. I get up, shower and search for the cats, and spend a few minutes with them. (they could be anywhere in the house or cattery). Then I wander to the 'fridge and pull out a Diet Coke...I tell you, that first sparkling taste helps revive me.

Next I rev up the computer and turn on the local radio station, which plays basic pop/country/rock'n'roll/ etc, but not rap or heavy metal. Nothing against rap or heavy metal, it's cool if you like it , I've just never been a rap or heavy metal girl.

I've had to discipline myself to only doing the internet 3 times a week (or I try, but just lately, this week especially, there has been things that couldn't wait), otherwise my writing time vanishes because I'm emailing and on the internet.

During writing, when I get a bit brain dead or just need a few minutes break, I often pull up the solitaire or hangman's game, and spend a few minutes playing that. It seems to revive me. Of course, as most people know, my other fav method of reviving myself is to wander inside and annoy my mother and smooch the cats, then wander back out to my writing room and continue writing. LOL

Another tip I can offer, especially if you're writing series books, is to keep a time line and a list of characters, places (in my case planets and settlements and things), and I've started keeping a list of all the little sci-fi gadgets used.

I'm not heavy on the sci-fi side of things, first and foremost, I write romance, but I love the freedom futuristic/sci-fi romance gives me, to create rules and worlds where I please. Sort of like fantasy writing - the universe is my oyster .

But I learned early on how important time lines are, and keeping a list of characters and who fell pregnant in which book, etc. very important as I am currently writing book 16 in my series...and even though I always have my lists, I still had to spend a bit of time going through older books to work out some details.

So I guess what I'm waffling on about, in my writing tips , is if you're a series writer, keep lists of your characters and places, take regular breaks to revive yourself, and above all, enjoy what you write!

cheers!
Angela

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Right Blend

And no, I'm not talking about coffee beans. I wish I were. I love coffee.

What I'm talking about is the blend between romantic storyline and "external" or action storyline in the stories I like to read and the ones I want to write.

Romance is not only a genre in itself, it also goes beyond genre into basic story element itself. Stories in a range of other genres possess romantic threads as significant parts of their plots. An action story develops an extra kick if there's a love story in there, too. And what hero is complete without a Love Interest?

Yet having two distinct plot lines in one story can backfire--if you've ever been in a movie, or read a book where the action stops for the partners to start smooching--or the smooching gets rudely interrupted by bad guys with guns--then you understand that there's a delicate balance between the external and the internal. Navigating that fine line can cause many a story to belly-flop into the water below.

One method I've noticed in the more memorable stories I've read is that the authors will keep the romance and the action running very closely together. Tied thematically, similar in scope, and entangled, so that the romance doesn't feel like an intrusion on the action, and the action doesn't feel like an interruption to the romance.

It's a tough thing to do...but absolute magic when it happens.

-- Xandra

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Guest Blogger - Linda Wisdom

Good morning everyone!This week we've got my friend, a lovely lady and a fantastic writer, guesting with us. Her book, 50 WAYS TO HEX YOUR LOVER, is a fun and exciting read you won't want to miss.

Linda Wisdom is a born and bred Californian. She sold her first two novels to Silhouette Romance on her wedding anniversary in 1979. Since then she has sold more than seventy novels and one novella to six different publishers. Her books have appeared on various romance and mass market bestseller lists and nominated for a number of Romantic Times awards and Romance Writers of America Rita Award.

She lives with her husband, a spoiled rotten Chihuahua/Yorkie, an equally spoiled parrot and a tortoise.

When Linda first moved to her town there were three romance writers living in the town. At this time, there is just Linda. So far, the police have not suspected her of any wrongdoing.

______________________________________________________________________________
What do you do when a witch named Jazz pops up and says “have I got a story for you?”

Easy, you write it.

About 2 ½ years ago Jazz showed up and told me she was one of 13 witches expelled from the Witches Academy in 1313 because one of them cast an illegal spell and no one would own up to being the wrongdoer and no one else turned them in. Punishment was they were banished to the outside world for 100 years and as long as they behaved they would be returned to the academy after the 100 years. Which is why 700 years later they’re still in the outside world.

I started thinking, what would a banished witch be like? What would she get mixed up in? After that, it all just sort of rolled over me.

Jazz would believe in dressing cute witch and sometimes goth witch along with scary witch when needed, she’d drive a hot car and nothing like a 1956 T-Bird convertible to add to the cute factor. Even if cranky Irma is there. Seems she’s haunted the car since 1956 (an interesting story behind that) and while Jazz would like nothing more than to have the ghost gone from the car, and you’d think since she’s a curse eliminator she should be able to do it. But nope, for all Irma claims she wants out of the car, she’s not budging no matter how much magick is thrown at her.

But there’s still got to be more than witch and ghost, so hmm, what next? A guy. We need a hot sexy guy, so let’s go for vampire. And make him Jazz’s on and off lover. Nikolai Gregorivich, now Nick Gregory, former enforcer for the Vampire Protectorate and determined to keep Jazz from getting into trouble by having her tossed into mortal jail. No wonder there’s times she’d prefer tossing witchflame at him rather than kiss. Still, he’s a really good kisser.

Jazz lives in a Victorian house in Santa Monica with friend and web designer for the undead, Krebs, near enough to the boardwalk she can satisfy her need for cotton candy, funnel cake and Ferris wheel rides and work as a curse eliminator by day and driver for All Creatures Car Service by night.

Life couldn’t be better for her. Then Nick shows up in her life after several decades apart and he’s looking to take down a serial killer of vampires. Except he needs Jazz’s magickal help.

Along the way Jazz shows a television executive it’s not nice to mess with a witch’s payment, deals with her toothy magickal bunny slippers, Fluff and Puff, who are convinced anything in the house is theirs, even when it’s not and try to stay out of trouble since the Witches Council tends to add time on to a misbehaving witch’s time of banishment.

You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you? But it’s not when olive-green Dweezil, her boss, does his best to make Jazz’s life miserable. A Barbie-like elf named Mindy is more than she appears. Totally gross creature Tyge Foulshadow has the hots for her and we’re talking major euww there! A sheriff’s detective who may know there’s creatures in town, we’re talking LA here!, but that doesn’t mean he wants to believe in them.

And then there’s Nick. Nick, who needs more than some sweet talking to get Jazz to agree to help him bring down the big bad from their past.

Jazz is soooo not ready for this, but hey, she’s over 700 year old, her power has been growing over the centuries and well, it does mean spending time with Nick as long as he doesn’t try to have her thrown in jail.

So that’s Jazz. A witch with snark and attitude. A witch who loves roller coasters and Ferris wheels. A witch who will be there for you and if you betray her, well, duck. Otherwise, you could end up looking like a Fourth of July Roman candle.

Now do you see why I listened when Jazz spoke? And let me tell you, that witch didn’t shut up! She had so much to say that I ended up writing a second book set a few months later.

I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun writing a book. The road was bumpy at times, but also very fast. There were times I was frustrated, but I had precious friends and family who refused to let me stop. And out of that process was Jazz and the other witches who will have stories of their own.

Because I listened to a snarky witch a book that I consider the book of my heart is on the shelves, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover and you’ll enjoy reading it. And if you do enjoy it, please blackmail friends and family to pick it up too. Jazz would appreciate it.

Linda


50 Ways To Hex Your Lover is available now in bookstores or online at Amazon

4 Cups from Coffee Time Romance
4 Stars from Romantic Times

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