30.9.10

Retro Road Trip!

I'm doing it!  Thanks to the encouragement of friend and author, Robin DeJarnett, I'm going back to where it all began and heading to Eastern Illinois University for Homecoming Weekend!!!  In case you didn't know, EIU is the inspiration behind the CIU campus in Three Daves.  It's going to be surreal to be back there, because while I was dancing the night away at Romans nights and grabbing a beer with friends at Ike's, I had no idea that what I was actually doing was "research" for an 80s chick-lit/romance I would one day write.  Seriously, I was studying finance; no one could've foreseen this.

So I've booked a room at the lovely Super 8, arranged to do a book signing at the Panther Scholarship Scramble, and cajoled two girlfriends, also EIU alumn, into joining me on October 22.  Fun, fun, FUN! 

In addition to a little postcard distribution and making new EIU memories, my mission will be to snap  photos of places that get a mention in the book so I can share them with you. I wonder how many Daves we can find... 

If any of you have any advice on other promo-related things I should try to accomplish on my road trip, I'm all ears.

27.9.10

Meet Victoria Michaels

I had the pleasure of working with Victoria Michaels to edit her second novel, Trust in Advertising, just released at the end of July.  It follows (but is not a sequel to) the publication of her debut novel, Boycotts and Barflies.

Everything about Victoria is delightful, including her stories. She has a talent for pulling readers in to the hearts and minds of her characters, and her sense of humor and fun personality shine throughout each of her novels.  Here's a peek into Trust in Advertising: 



I asked Victoria about some of my favorite aspects of Trust in Advertising:

1. Trust in Advertising is an engaging tale of love, but it's also a story of personal development.  More than one character experiences an awakening of sorts and is a changed person by the end of the story.  Which of the characters to do you think experienced the greatest amount of change in terms of personal growth and self awareness from the story's beginning to its end?

Great question and a tough one to answer! I would have to say that Vincent is the one who grows the most throughout the course of the story. He not only learns things about himself from Lexi, but he also has to overcome some personal demons and let go of painful things from his past to become the man Lexi needs and deserves in the end. Tearing down the walls Vincent had built over the years was no easy task, but he had to find it in himself to trust Lexi, and trust she wouldn't be like all the other people in his past who had let him down.

In the beginning of the story, I would say there were two sides to Vincent, the loving man he only shared with his family and the tough, distant man he appeared to be to the rest of world. With Lexi's help, he managed to find a way to not merge the two but become whole again. Plus, he finally came to his senses - thank God- and pulled the plug on dearest Jade and sent her and her fake nails packing!


2. You have an amazing knack for getting inside of each of your characters and exploring their many sides.  As a reader, I became attached not only to the main characters, Lexi and Vincent, but also to their friends and family.  And yes, I'll admit it, there's a  soft spot in my heart for David Reid, Tango King. 

I read in one of your other interviews that the vindictive Jade was your favorite character to write, so instead of asking that question again, I'll ask you this---if you had to choose one of your characters to go out to lunch with, who would you choose and why?    

Vincent - hands down. I'd love to see him confidently stride across the room as every head turns to watch him pass. I find the creative process of advertising interesting so I'd love to hear about what he's working on, where his ideas come from - oh who am I kidding? He could recite the dictionary, give a lecture on cellular biology or try and discuss the merits of selling ice cubes to penguins in Antartica and I'd still find it interesting. *smirk* I'd love to hear all the juicy details about his past assistants- they sounded like a pretty wild bunch before Lexi walked through the door.

What I would really love to do with characters from this book would be to go to one of Madison's tea parties and watch the tiny girl run the show with her hats and games and antics. Madison finagling Sean into a turban? Now that would be something to experience!


3. Having the story set in San Francisco was another fun element in the book, with the architecture, Fisherman's Wharf, and the bay all playing a role in the story.  Did you consider any other settings for Trust in Advertising, and how did you arrive at San Francisco as the final destination?  

I knew water was going to play a part in the story, being a place where Lexi went to get away from it all and find peace amongst the chaos. My husband grew up in San Francisco and when we went out there for a visit, I fell in love with Fisherman's Wharf and knew that would be the perfect setting for the story. It had the big city for Hunter Advertising to flourish and would be a city with a million options for someone like Lexi who was finding herself again.

Even with all the hustle and bustle of the city behind me, somehow, looking out over the bay, there was a peacefulness that made me feel like I was the only person for miles. That was what I wanted for Lexi. Sprinkle in a little Ghirardelli chocolate (Because come on, who doesn't love chocolate?), and ta-da... the setting for Trust in Advertising was born!   


4. What do you see as perks of going with a small, independent publisher like Omnific Publishing versus either a big, traditional publisher or self publishing?   

Working with a small publisher like Omnific was a great experience. I feel that they were more open in terms of the stories they accepted for publication, because often bigger publishing houses are looking for a very specific genre, or style of story, and as an author you have no way of knowing what that is. It's less intimidating to submit to a smaller publisher, I think, and during the submission process, I felt like they took the time to read my story and got to know my characters before making a decision. The editing staff was AMAZING to work with (bows to her brilliant editor), and I really learned so much through the process- ways to make my writing stronger, in fewer words.

The biggest 'perk' of going with a smaller publisher I have to say is the family feeling at Omnific. The staff, the other authors, everyone is so incredibly supportive and understanding. People share ideas, network and genuinely care about one another. And that is something I'd say you can't get anywhere else.


5. I know you have a playlist for Trust in Advertising, but if you had to choose only one song that captures the essence of the story, what would it be?

Playlists are so much fun, aren't they? The song that I really had playing in the back of my head as I wrote this was "If I Never Knew You" from the Disney movie Pocahontas. It's a beautiful song that I think captures the essence of  Trust in Advertising, which is two people who are so much better together than they ever could be apart. Vincent and Lexi would have gone through their lives if they never met, a part of them always missing and never realizing just how wonderful life could be. But once they crossed paths, their lives would never be the same, each becoming more than they ever thought possible...together.  Wow that was uber girlie of me...

Okay to balance that, what the snarky side of me loved listening to as I wrote was "Hate that I Love You" by Rhianna and Ne-Yo. It fits so well because they both aren't happy about the feelings they have for one another in the beginning. Vincent resents the way she makes him lighten up and smile. And the last thing Lexi wants is to dredge up her feelings for her old crush.


Thanks Victoria!  
Trust in Advertising is available at Omnific Publishing and Amazon.


Meet an Author Monday...and Met Some Readers Friday

Last Friday I was hosted by the Urban Book Club in Forest Park, IL and was once again blown away by the "Book Experience."  It was so much more than a book discussion.  The club members had scoured shops and the internet for 80s apparel, and one even wore an authentic pair of extremely colorful leggings FROM the 80s!  Hair was pouffed to maximum height and 80s tunes played in the background. 

As if getting greeted with this flashback to my heday wasn't enough, our gracious hostess Jean put together an 80s trivia game---complete with prizes---and a spectacular steak dinner. That's when they "grilled" me about the book and writing (get it?).  They had wonderful questions and insights about Three Daves, reading, and life in general, and the evening passed much too quickly. 


THANK YOU so very much to all of you! Special thanks to Jean for all her effort to make the evening absolutely perfect and to Connie for suggesting the book to the club in the first place.  (I just discovered that Connie has a really cool Adventure Quest blog going through the end of the year!)


And now...welcome to the weekly Meet an Author Monday blog hop. To meet new authors and discover great reads, simply visit any of the author links below. Look for our "Meet an Author Monday" icon at any of these blogs to keep on hoppin. Authors! Have a book out? Are you under contract for publication? Join in the hop for a great way to network your blog and let readers know who you are.

Later today I'll be posting my interview with Victoria Michaels, author of new release, Trust in Advertising!

24.9.10

Writing Compelling Characters

I'm excited to particpate in The Great Blogging Experiment, brainchild of bloggers extraordinaire Elana Johnson, Alex J Cavanaugh and Jennifer Daiker.  The experiment is simply this: a bunch of bloggers blog on the same exact topic on the same exact day---today!  Will it be mass redundancy, or will we find each post insightful in it's own way, colored by each blogger's unique personality?  We shall see.  I'm betting on the latter.

For a list of participants in The Great Blogging Experiment, click on the link to this post at Elana's blog and scroll down.  Much thanks to Elana, Alex, and Jen for setting all of this up. 

The topic: Writing Compelling Characters. 

It's well established that fictional characters should have flaws. It makes them real and therefore relatable. And getting readers to relate to a character is imperative if the character is to be compelling. But even the flaws have to be done just right.  If we don't follow certain guidelines, we'll end up with someone who is just as obnoxious, grating, and despicable as the all-too-perfect character.  So I dedicate this post to adding my two cents on guidelines for "perfecting" flaws. 

First:  Don't overdo it.  Just like no character should be all perfection, no character should be all flaw. Even the villains need some redeeming qualities.

Lord Voldemort (from the Harry Potter series for anyone who's new) was one of the most evil characters ever invented, but he had admirable qualities in his power, skill, intelligence, and leadership.  It made his tyranny more tragic, because he could have done so much good with his assets.

Another nearly pure-evil character is Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. His redeeming quality was his love for and allegiance to Catherine Earnshaw.  Sure, this love and devotion became a psychotic obsession that infected the lives of several innocent people, but the sentiment itself was nice.   


Second:  While small flaws are part of all of us and require no explanation, there has to be some kind of reasoning behind the larger flaws. Not that these reasons are an excuse for the behavior, but if the flaws can be understood, readers will sympathize.

Let's look at Severus Snape, one of my all time favorite characters (again from the Harry Potter series if you didn't know...where have you been?).  He's a nasty, greasy-haired jerk-off through the entire series, but piece by piece we learn more about his sad, lonely childhood and his tortured teen years, and suddenly, icky old Professor Snape has an adoring fan base.


Third:  The flaws have to at a minimum be acknowledged and preferably have consequences.

Scarlett O'Hara of Gone with the Wind fame was a horribly flawed individual---selfish, spoiled, conniving, disrespectful, stubborn---and that was acknowledged throughout the book by other characters and more importantly, by the author.  The flaws were intentional and never defended or glossed over in the narrative.  And boy, oh boy, did Scarlett have consequences to her pig-headed refusal to live life by anyone's rules but her own.

Now I get to vent a little and give you an example of a character that in my opinion was very poorly done---Bella Swan from the Twilight phenomenon.  She described herself as plain and nothing special, but obviously was anything but because it seemed every male she came in contact with became immediately smitten with her and most of the the females wanted to be her BFF.  As I read along in the series I realized how incredibly self-centered and false she was, and it nearly drove me insane.  Then it hit me that this shouldn't bother me at all. Because I like flawed characters, right?  And Bella had two big flaws that were entirely believable considering she was a teenager.  So what was my problem?

Well, it turns out that it wasn't my problem at all. The problem was that no one ever acknowledged these flaws.  Not one character and certainly not the author.  Rosalie gave her a hard time, but it turned out that was only because she was jealous of Mary Sue, I mean Bella. As a matter of fact, when Bella's behavior was at its absolute worst, her vampire boyfriend jumped in to tell her how amazingly wonderful and unselfish she was. These flaws were not intended.  They were the byproduct of a poorly developed character.

Were there consequences for her living her life so selfishly?  That's a good one. Nope, she got to skip off under a nauseating rainbow into fairyland.  Now, the series was and still is insanely popular, so obviously the author did something right. But writing a compelling main character was not it.

20.9.10

Meet an Author Monday

Welcome to the weekly Meet an Author Monday blog hop. To meet new authors and discover great reads, simply visit any of the author links below. Look for our "Meet an Author Monday" icon at any of these blogs to keep on hoppin.  

Authors! Have a book out? Are you under contract for publication? Join in the hop for a great way to network your blog and let readers know who you are!.


16.9.10

The 80s Are "Going the Distance"

The other night I saw the funny and sweet Going the Distance, starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long and was surprised and ridiculously delighted by all the 80s references.

The film is most definitely set in current times with texting and skyping galore, but someone involved in this movie was clearly jonesing for the 80s and found any which way to stick the decade in there, starting but certainly not ending with a game of Atari's Centipede.
Then there was a quick move over to a guy in a Ralph Lauren polo shirt, collar up, and before I knew it we were staring at a poster of Tom Cruise in Top Gun!  This was followed up by a  morning wake-up call with "Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing

While the Going the Distance soundtrack is by no means an "80s Mix Tape," 80s bands get plenty of play in the film, including songs by The Cure, The Replacements, The Pretenders, and Berlin.

I didn't hear any Beastie Boys, but our main boy does name Licensed to Ill as his favorite album.

The 80s picture wouldn't be complete without the fashion.  In addition to the polo shirt mentioned above, Barrymore wears an off-the-shoulder number out to dinner, and check out this ensemble to the left.  Oversized shirt, skinny jeans, ginormous belt.  And, I do believe those are Chuck Taylors Justin is sporting.

The movie wasn't perfect---some of the jokes felt a bit forced and "obnoxious friend guy" crossed the believability line more than once---but the two leads had great chemistry and adorable dialogue, and I found the guy humor refreshing in a romantic comedy. But if raunch isn't your thing, be warned that the movie is peppered with it.

If you're looking for something fun, sexy, and sentimental with a touch of 80s thrown in, why then, I'd say this movie is "Just Like Heaven" (on the soundtrack):


13.9.10

Meet Jennifer DeLucy

Great news!  Through July 31. 2012, Seers of Light - the first book in the Light Series is on sale for only $2.99 in Kindle!

Jennifer DeLucy is a highly creative, wonderfully genuine person whom I had the pleasure of working with when I was assigned as Developmental Editor on her debut novel, Seers of Light.  Seers of Light is the first book in The Light Series, a paranormal journey of self-discovery, adventure, and romance.

Jennifer was inspired to tell this story after a personal exploration of various paths of philosophy and spirituality, including near death experiences.  All of these things come together in Seers of Light in a remarkably accessible, engaging, can't-put-it-down way.  Not only is Jennifer a gifted writer, she is also a talented musician and actually wrote the song for the Seers of Light trailer:




I recently asked Jennifer about some of my favorite aspects of Seers of Light, and she was kind enough to answer.  Thanks Jen!  The mini-interview is below:

1. In addition to being an enthralling story, Seers of Light has several themes woven throughout.  Which is the single most important message or theme that you hope readers retain after reading Seers of Light?

The single most important theme of Seers is hope.  It's so important, SO important for people to believe in happiness, in the power of courage and love and the life-altering changes that occur when you combine them.  Everyone deserves to be supremely happy in this life, and I believe it's possible, but you have to be brave and never give up, even through the hard times.


2. One of the greatest things about Seers of Light for me was the cast of entertaining and unique characters.  Which one of the supporting characters did you have the most fun writing?

Anna.  Honestly.  I never give her enough lip service in interviews, but I love her so much. Of all the people in the book, she reminds me the most of me.  She's dorky, she's naughty, but she's perceptive and loving, as well.  I loved being able to say the most candid things through her.

3. Your descriptions of paranormal entities were quite chilling at times, and so vivid that I sometimes felt like I was watching the scene instead of reading it.  Are you a fan of scary movies?  If so, which ones do you think most influenced you in writing the creepier scenes in Seers of Light.

Oh, I am such a scary movie fan! But, I only like psychological fear. You won't catch me watching slasher movies. I can't stand senseless violence for entertainment value.  Movies like The Exorcist, The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, etc. really are some of my favorites.  Basically, if it could be real, I love it.

4. What do you see as perks of going with a small, independent publisher like Omnific Publishing versus either a big, traditional publisher or self publishing?

Personal attention. I highly doubt that a mega house would be so cocerned with involving me in the little details (like book covers, marketing, editing, etc.)

5. Besides the song that you wrote (show off) for your book trailer, if you had to choose one other song that captures the essence of Seers of Light, what would it be?

Life is Wonderful, by Jason Mraz.





Seers if Light is available in paperback, e-book and Kindle and can be purchased at Omnific Publishing and Amazon. The second book in the series, Whisper of Light, comes out next month! Both books are just perfect for some Halloween time reading.

Meet an Author...and an Editor...Monday

In addition to being an author, I am also blessed to be able to work as a Developmental Editor at Omnific Publishing.  I say "blessed" because I'm odd in that editing is one of my favorite parts of the writing process.  I love taking a step back from my own manuscript and looking at it from the readers' perspective.  There's something so satisfying about tweaking, rewriting, adding, deleting, and in general polishing that baby up.  Like I told my editors on Three Daves---I felt like my story had been to the spa.

At first the prospect of editing and critiquing other authors' works was a bit daunting to me.  Writing is such a personal thing, and they'd be understandably territorial. But I've been doubly blessed by getting to work with extremely cool writers with professional attitudes.  They are passionate about their manuscripts and so they want them to be the best they can be and were eager for and appreciative of my feedback.  I've truly felt part of a team on each project.

And the best part is, I've gotten to immerse myself in their fabulous tales.  Now it's time for me to stop being selfish and get around to introducing you to these authors and their books.  First up, in a separate post, will be Jennifer DeLucy, author of Seers of Light, her first book in The Light Series.  Watch for more authors on future Mondays, and next month I'm even going to give you sneak peeks at a couple of novels before they are released!  Ooh-la-la.  

And I've got even more authors for ya---check out all the great author blogs linked below at the Meet an Author Monday blog hop. To meet new authors and discover great reads, simply visit any of the author links below. Look for our "Meet an Author Monday" icon at any of these blogs to keep on hoppin. Authors! Have a book out? Are you under contract for publication? Join in the hop for a great way to network your blog and let readers know who you are!

9.9.10

A Virtual Scavenger Hunt!

During the month of October, Night Owl Reviews is hosting a web hunt.  It's a fun little scavenger hunt through author websites to find hidden Full Moon Web Hunt graphics with spooky "secret words."  Mwahahahah! 

If you find enough of the secret words, you can enter to win an amazing assortment of books, gift cards, and other goodies. I love Halloween, and I dig scavenger hunts of any type, so it took me all of five seconds to say "I'm in!"  Starting October 1, you can download your entry form, pull out your cape, plastic fangs, fake blood and what have you, and let the hunt begin! Mwahahahah!!!...oh, said that already.

6.9.10

It's Monday---Time to Meet New Authors


Welcome to Monday! It's time for the Meet an Author Monday blog hop.  To meet new authors and discover  great reads, simply visit any of the author links below.  Look for our  "Meet an Author Monday" icon at any of these blogs to keep on hoppin.

Authors! Have a book out?  Are you under contract for publication?  Join in the hop for a great way to network your blog and let readers know who you are!

Happy Labor day to all!




4.9.10

Quick & Dirty Tip for Generation Xers

Buy your liquor at Walmart.

Their rule is that employees are supposed to card if you look under 40. 

Just got carded.

Feelin' pretty good about myself. 

Random Musing: Why we have kids

This post has nothing to do with anything, but the other night I was hit so powerfully with a conviction and I just had to share it.  It literally came to me while I slept.  In my dream, I'd been visiting a harried friend with two rambunctious kids.  

I've never really understood why it is that humans continue the widespread practice of having children.  I recognize this internal thing that most of us are born with that makes us yearn to procreate; that can't be denied. Way back throughout most of history, people didn't question this yearning. And it's not like there were a whole lot of other options, anyhow. If you were "doing it," at some point you were likely to get pregnant, and you'd have the kid; end of story.

But in modern times, there are tons of options to prevent pregnancy, and people are different.  We don't blindly accept fate anymore.  We still feel the inner tug to procreate, but in today's society, it's perfectly acceptable to slap it aside. And when you look at it logically, every fiber of our left brain activity should be screaming at us to take all measures necessary to avoid getting pregnant.

It makes no logical sense whatsoever to have children. 

They're expensive, they consume your every free moment for a good long while (even into adulthood if you're a parent like mine are), and children are the source of unbelievable amounts of anxiety. All of us who have had children, of course, know that the intangibles of parenthood make it all worth it.  We can no longer imagine our lives without them, but there's no way you can understand this ahead of time.  So before the little darlings have a chance to suck you in, why even give them the chance? And yet so many of us continue to get willingly, and very often willfully, knocked up. 

Why?


There's the spiritual, God's plan, side to it, and I very much adhere to that, however, in this day and age, for parenthood to continue to be such a popular chosen lifestyle, there has to be a communion of the logical and the spiritual going on.  What I want to understand is what's driving the logical side. 

Now back to that dream.  In it, I didn't have children yet, but I left that house convinced that I could do better than my friend was doing with  hers.  If you don't have kids yet, admit it---that happens to you all the time.  And I'll admit that before I had kids, I most definitely observed the way that other people handled their children and was convinced that, given the chance, I would do much better. And after I had kids, I know for a fact that my parenting skills were being judged by others; I could feel it. So I propose that it is the joining of the competitive side of human nature with the spiritual that leads us to have children.

We want to prove that we can do better than all those before us. 

Naturally, we can't.  But try telling that to us before we're plunged into the middle of it, watching ourselves make bad decision after bad decision.  But go ahead, keep making those mistakes with your kids, and out in the open too---for the sake of humanity!  We need childless couples to watch you and become convinced that they can do better, so that they too will plunge willingly into the abyss... suckers.

3.9.10

Get More Followers AND a Delicious Recipe!

Hey, I'm about to head over to KarenG's Labor Day Weekend Blog party at her always interesting and entertaining Coming Down the Mountain blog and thought I'd share the recipe of what I'm e-bringing to the party. I love this recipe because it's easy, different, and delicious!

Southwest Corn Dip
 

Ingredients
(Makes a HUGE bowl, may want to cut in 1/3 if it's for a smaller group)

3 cans Mexican-style corn, drained
1 cup mayonaise
2 cups sour cream
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch salt

In a large serving bowl, stir together the corn, mayonnaise, sour cream, green onions, cilantro, Cheddar cheese and lime juice.  Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt. Stir to blend in seasonings, then refrigerate until chilled before serving.  Serve with blue corn or multi-grain tortilla chips.  Or grab a big ol' spoon and eat it right out of the bowl. Told ya it was easy. ;)

Enjoy and come join us at the PARTY!