30 April 2012

Kindness in My Community

Today, I wanted to talk about someone that is near and dear to my heart--writers.

I am blessed to work in a community where people are kind and help one another. During my career 99.9% of the writers I have come across have been helpful, gentle, kindhearted, inspirational and professional. There may be an occasional bad apple in the mix, but the rest are so shiny, bright and beautiful that there's no need to talk about the flawed, um, fruit.

I will never forget the day I was wandering around lost at a conference and Sabrina Jeffries asked me to join her for breakfast. I guess I looked as lost as I felt.

Forever I will remember that Janet Evanovich and Meg Cabot BOTH agreed to let me interview them simply because I asked!

Diana Peterfreund line-edited my first and very sucky query letter, showing me what needs to go in one of those bad boys. NY Times Bestselling author, Gemma Halliday, critiqued one of my chapters, giving me courage to submit what became my first sale. Kristina McMorris beta-read my first novella and showed me a thing or two about GMC. Once she explained to me what GMC stood for.

THE Nora spoke to me (and thousands of others) during a keynote speech about longevity and perserverance. She also taught me a bit about swimming in the publishing pool. 

Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Amanda Quick showed me how important it is to have life-long writer friendships. 

Julia Quinn gave me concrete examples of dialogue and action tags. 

Authors here at Beyond the Veil have given me support, love and advice for which I am eternally grateful. Romance Divas and the Chick Lit Writers of the World provide education and information on a daily basis. 

My close friends hold me up when my legs are too tired from running this writing marathon and I return the favor. I am truly blessed to have a community that allows me to learn, grow and become the best author I can be. I hope that I do the same for other writers. 

Thank you my friends! Hugs, Kimberley Troutte

15 April 2012

April Showers

I know I was supposed to talk about urban fantasy, I can tell you I'm working hard on Incarnate's sequel Sacrament and it's been a hard fought battle, but I want to make sure it's perfect. At least I can see the end in sight. Which is good considering the paperback for Incarnate comes out in June!

I've been deep in my writing cave working away, but I have to say with the mild winter and backwards March I kind of escaped my cave a little be oftener than I should have.

March was insanely hot.

I never remember a March where I wore shorts, especially since I live in Canada.

I also have to say I'm a bit distracted. It's my birthday tomorrow. The big 3-4.

Today I'm getting my b-day dinner as tomorrow is Monday and I have a Brownie meeting. I'm a Snowy Owl.

I know this is a crazy rambling post and I apologize, but what can I say I'm the almost birthday girl. :)

In May I hope to be able to share a bit of a sneak peak on my next bear shifter I've been working on or a sneak peak of something I have coming this summer. A self publishing endeavour. :)

Until then. I hope your April showers bring May flowers. I know I'm looking forward to summer, because June marks the beginning of our month long excursion as we travel across country.

Happy April everyone! :)

14 April 2012

Celtic Ogham Divination: Ioho (Yew)

Name:Ioho, pronounced ee-yoh or ee-woh (some sources say Idad, pronounced ee-duh, which means "mastery")
Tree: Yew
Letter: I, J or Y
Color: Dark green, some sources say bright white
Element: Water
Bird/Animal: Eagle or spider
Deities: Caílte and Oisín (poet/warriors, lone survivors of the Fianna), Tuan mac Cairill (reclusive guardian of Ireland who reincarnated as different animals over 2000-plus years to witness repeated invasions of Ireland); Hecate (crone aspect of the triple goddess)
Month: None
Planet: Saturn or Pluto

Yew is the last of the "traditional" ogham symbols, so it is sometimes called the "oldest letter" or "older than letters." Ideas associated with yew are transformation, rebirth, immortality, transference, passage, illusion, and transition.

As most, if not all, parts of the tree are toxic, it is known as the death tree. It's wood is extremely strong and springy, so it was often used to make longbows, and extract from the berries used to poison the tips of arrows and swords. Because it grows slowly, it is too easily overharvested, so it is not as abundant as it once was; those trees that are left tend to have crooked, twisted trunks and branches.

Its aspect is feminine; in recent years taxol, a substance derived from the bark, has shown promise in fighting breast cancer.

Another interesting fact about yew is that as the tree ages, the outer wood dies, rots and falls away and a new tree grows from within.

"Yew is the link to spiritual guidance through your ancestors, guides and guardians in the Otherworld. The Yew is here to remind us that there are other levels of existence beyond this material plane. By understanding the illusionary nature of the life we have created for ourselves, we can live our lives more consciously. Often death is fraught with a sense of loss, but the Yew can teach us to see death as a form of transformation and that it is never final." (Source, The White Dragon, 1997 article)

Long ago, clan leaders were buried beneath yew trees, and clan members conducted rituals at the tree to connect with those departed leaders to ask for guidance. Therefore the tree symbolizes connection to the ancestors through old stories, lore and tradition.

When yew appears in your reading, it is telling you you've been holding on to something for too long and it's time to either let it go or pass it on. It's a reminder to take comfort in the fact that nothing lasts forever. Spiritually, it is not unlike the Tarot's Death card, signalling that change is afoot and you need to let it happen. Change is your friend, not your enemy. Without change, we don't grow.

Stay tuned for another in this series next time!

13 April 2012


My newest online obsession. At first I thought, "Pff. Why in the world would anyone spend their time flipping through someone else's photo album?" I don't consider myself especially visually oriented, so I dismissed the idea.

After I'd heard about it a dozen times, though, I registered. On a whim. And have subsequently lost hours.

HOURS of my life that I'll never get back. Hours I consider, if not well spent, then at least charmingly entertained.

I've giggled at the funnies, had tears start in my eyes at the touching, been awed by the breathtaking, and followed all kinds of links to new and unusual places.

For those of you who are woefully behind the times, Pinterest is a site where people can make their own public albums of things they've seen around the web that catch their eye. If you had a big pinboard at home where you tack up all the pictures that you've cut out of magazines, or ideas for things you always mean to do or get, that's basically what Pinterest is about. It's a giant, virtual pinboard. The best part is that you get to see what everyone else is pinning, too! So you end up following their pinboards because they find the coolest stuff for you to pin onto your own board. Then you follow the pinboards that *they're* pinning and so on and so on until it turns into a giant Pinterest Prell commercial. (If you're too young to get that reference, I don't want to know.)

I started out with two boards of my own. One for my covers because, hey, that's part of my job description, and one for everything else.

Last night, I had to add two more boards, bringing my total up to ... ok, I went to see how many boards I had and got lost for half an hour. Thirteen boards.

Libraries - pictures of bookshelves, bookstores, book collections, and yes, libraries.

Keep Calm - my collection of "Keep Calm and ..." sayings and posters.

Books Worth Reading
- covers of my favorite classics and keepers.

Bookfessions - sayings about reading, literature, readers and books.

Readers - pictures of readers, famous and not. Who knew that Marilyn Monroe was an avid reader?

Steampunk - duh. Of course I have a Steampunk file.

Writer Gear - sayings and doodads about and for the writer's life.

Myths That Move Me - anything that reminds me of a story I once heard, including mythology, folklore and fairytales.

Picturesque - at first, this was my catchall for things that caught my eye for their beauty. Now, I'm trying to keep it to photos of nature.

Random Great Stuff - funnies and Sherlock and Nathan Fillion.

My covers - I can't tell you how thrilled I was when someone repinned one of my covers!

And my two newest boards, Beautiful Fashions - because people keep pinning gorgeous dresses and stunning jewelry - and Luscious Noms - because people keep pinning pictures of food and my keyboard is getting all drooly.

It's actually been a great way to get to know people, too. Who knew that some of my friends were such fashionistas? Or that they had an abiding interest in cakes or trees or astronomy or all kinds of cool stuff? Sure, I could be writing or folding laundry instead of surfing Pinterest, but let's get real. The world needs more pictures of Nathan Fillion.

Want to see my pretties? Check out my Pinterest boards!

12 April 2012

April's Child: You Write What? What Do You Write? What Izzit?

My first love was mystery. The novels of Phyllis A. Whitney captivated me. A masterful storyteller, she combined riveting worlds I wanted to inhabit along with her characters, though the “worlds” were right here - just different times and places.

Then I discovered fantasy and science fiction. The novels of Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony, Ray Bradbury, and Ursula K. LeGuin kept me up late at night. I learned of politics and intrigue, love and jealousy, and most importantly, Story. The worlds they created aren’t just our everyday reality but some of the most imaginative places ever created by the mind of humans. In Jamaican tradition, they believe the reality of the dream and the reality of waking are not different; both are reality. Reading these authors, I begin to understand what the Jamaicans mean by that.

I’ve written stories since the age of nine. I haven’t always considered myself an author. When I started to, I wondered what kind of author am I? If I had to describe myself to readers, how would I do so? What sentence would describe the stories I write? Genre descriptions are so often limiting – look at Lyle Lovett. He plays music, not any one specific kind of it, but Music. I, like him, didn’t want to be limited in my storytelling, nor in my description of myself. Let bookstores wonder where to put my books.

And then the miraculous happened: the internet evolved and ebooks were born. Within a few years, the entire face of publishing has changed irrevocably. As many other industries before them have learned, the internet is a juggernaut of social change that cannot be turned aside. Like a tsunami it will rearrange the face of the land. Change? Nay. Transformation. Gone are the days of the single-genre author. Now authors can identify themselves with multiple genres and readers, more importantly, can find stories of every description to please their voracious appetites.

I, then, decided that I tell stories. My job is Storyteller. As such, I create worlds. Therefore my description of my work reflects this flavor: Explore the Worlds of A. Catherine Noon.

What does that mean? I write all sorts of things. I write science fiction, fantasy, and erotica. Sometimes I blend all of that. Burning Bright, available from Samhain Publishing, is an urban fantasy novel about weretigers in the city of Chicago and has elements of Wicca, BDSM, and just for good measure, a healthy dose of the Russian mafia.

Emerald Fire, due out in a couple months from Torquere Press, is more traditionally science fantasy, after the tradition of Anne McCaffrey: it’s set on another planet, has distinct cultural elements, macroeconomic trends, and politics. Ah, yes, politics. And truffles. Mustn’t forget the truffles.

I think this is a healthy thing for writing and, especially, for readers. Historically one read stories, one didn’t care if the story was from a particular group of stories, one cared if it was a good story. With the shift in the way stories are marketed, we can get back to the most important part of the whole equation: good stories.

No matter what the genre.

10 April 2012

Jean Marie's RavenCon Schedule

RavenCon is this weekend!  I can’t wait, and when you see the schedule they’ve given me, you’ll know why.  And this is only the tip of their programming iceberg.  Glen Cook and Matthew Stewart are the writer and artist guests of honor, respectively.  This year the con hosts its first media guest, Battlestar Galactica’s Nicki Clyne. Not to mention an all-new Masquerade and a concert by Bella Morte, whose lead singer Andy Deane is also a writer and on the program.  
And so am I:

Friday, April 14

4 p.m.

Space Cowboys and Fantasy Noir: From Shadowrun to the Garret Files to Priest, mixing genres can result in some interesting stories.  What genres mix well?
John Betancourt Glen Cook, S. Reesa Herberth, Stuart Jaffe, Michelle Moore, Jean Marie Ward

5 p.m.

Creating a Timeline: How carefully should an author keep track of what happens, when, and where?  What are some techniques to make this easier?
Day Al-Mohamed (m), Pamela K. Kinney, Bud Sparhawk, Jean Marie Ward, Robert E. Waters, Steve White

Saturday, April 15

2 p.m.

Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading: Tasty, bite-sized readings from the authors of Broad Universe, an international organization dedicated to promoting science fiction, fantasy and horror written by women.
Danielle Ackley McPhail, KT Pinto, Gail Z. Martin, Jean Marie Ward, Leona Wisoker (m)

3 p.m.

Design a Superhero: What makes a superhero great? Panelists describe what they think makes a memorable superhero.
Butch Allen, Billy Flynn, CJ Henderson, Patrick A. Vanner, Jean Marie Ward

5 p.m.

Modern Fairy Tales: Lost Girl, Grimm, and Once Upon a Time all bring fairy tales to the TV screen.  What makes some shows work, and others not?
Butch Allen, Flynnstress, Warren Rochelle, Suzanne Rosin, Michelle D. Sonnier, Jean Marie Ward

Sunday, April 16

11 a.m.

Are Panels About Vampires Played Out?  Every year, we have a panel asking if vampires are passé.  Are panels asking if vampires are passé…passé?
Scott M. Baker, Keith R.A. DeCandido, KT Pinto, Jim Stratton, Jean Marie Ward, Robert E. Waters

2 p.m.

Military Science Fiction and Fantasy: Panelists discuss the various subgenres of military SF and fantasy, from Star Trek to Battlestar Galactica to the Black Company.
Glen Cook, Mike McPhail, Tony Ruggerio, Janine K. Spendlove, Patrick A. Vanner, Jean Marie Ward (m)


Guest Blogger: Caridad Pineiro with More On: The Vampire's Consort

Sometimes you’ll be in the midst of a writing a story when a character from another story will start screaming in your head to hurry up and write about them.

That happened to me with DARKNESS CALLS, the first book in THE CALLING (soon to be THE REBORN) Vampire Novel series.  For some reason, Diana Reyes started screaming in my head while I was writing a contemporary romance.  She wouldn’t stop yakking until I set aside that story and wrote the first few chapters of hers.

Then she stopped, seemingly satisfied that with those pages in the can, she knew I would not be able to resist writing about her. Diana was right.

The same thing happened to me with Eliza from THE VAMPIRE’S CONSORT.  Now, while Diana was a in-your-face-take-names-kick-ass kind of personality, Eliza was a very different kind of character.  More laid back.  More genteel, but don’t let that fool you.  Beneath that very feminine and soft exterior is a spine made of steel.

As Eliza whispered in my head, I learned a lot about her.  She was Irish.  She had consumption and banned from serving meals to humans, worked in a vampire bar to help support her family.  She was on death’s door when she met the vampire hero, Adrian.  Since she was young and had yet to see any part of the world beyond her small Irish village, she grabs Adrian’s offer of employment as his keeper with both hands, not ready to die.

By becoming Adrian’s keeper, Eliza saves herself and yet that choice becomes ever more complicated as the decades go by because of the feelings that Eliza develops for Adrian.  After all, her master is kind, handsome and an excellent lover.  Eliza knows this from the many women she sees him pleasure, all the while wishing that it was she in his bed.

It was that last thought – of Eliza yearning for more while watching Adrian – that snared me into writing her and Adrian’s story.  There was just something about her great need and her strength, that made me want to somehow give her and Adrian a happily-ever-after.

Especially when Adrian popped into my head and confessed his love for his young keeper.

So what’s keeping Eliza and Adrian apart?  Well, pride and confusion.  Fear of rejection.  And did I mention Eliza’s human boyfriend?  That last bit of the puzzle helped me define the relationships of the three and also provided the impetus for a sexy little ménage in the story.  It is erotic romance, remember!

Anyway, I hope Eliza and Adrian will intrigue you as much as they did me!  I loved exploring their histories and their hearts in order to write THE VAMPIRE’S CONSORT.  I hope you’ll love these two characters as well!

RT Booklovers Convention with Aunt Noony

It's conference season in the land of the writer, and the festivities are kicked off by the RT Booklovers Convention in Chicago, Illinois. Authors are gathering costumes, preparing workshops, and reminiscing about RT's past.

Unless you're Aunt Noony, in which case this is your first time at the madness that is RT.

And, if you're Aunt Noony, you signed up to lead two workshops and offered to be on a panel, to help out a pal on Romance Divas.

Oh dear.

So, in good Artist's Way fashion, I shall take the next small step and share with you, Dear Reader, my take on the upcoming festivities. If you're curious about the festivities in totem, then please click on the link above for the entire list of everything by which you, too, can be overwhelmed.

Priming the Creative Pump
Thursday, April 12th, from 10:00 to 11:00 A.M.
Currently scheduled in Liberty, Lobby Level

Are you a writer but need to prime your creative pump? Do you secretly fantasize about being a writer? Do you wish you could write but don’t know where to start? Join the founder of the Evanston Writers Workshop for a hands-on demonstration. You are welcome to bring a notebook and pen or laptop computer to participate in an eclectic blend of written experiments including tools from Julia Cameron’s The Artist's Way and other tools.

Panelists: Debbie Cairo and A. Catherine Noon, Co-Founders; and Tina Holland, CAO and Editor-in-Chief of Shopnotes; Evanston Writers Workshop.

I'm excited about this one, because it's based on our popular Prompt Group, which meets in Evanston the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month.

Self-Editing For Writers: Improve Every Word
Thursday, April 12th, from 2:45 to 3:45 P.M.
Currently scheduled in Liberty, Lobby Level

Panel with Louisa EdwardsTere Michaels, A. Catherine Noon, Kristen Painter, Devi Pillai (editor, Orbit Books)

I'm honored to be included on a panel of such professional authors whom I met through my affiliation with Romance Divas.  We've prepared short lists of our best editing tips that we use when preparing our manuscripts for a publisher, and I'm sure there will be lots of good tips to pick up!

Hands-On Critique Group
Friday, April 13th, from 11:15 A.M. to 12:15 P.M.
Currently scheduled in Liberty, Lobby Level

Have you ever wondered how participating in a critique group might help your writing? Join the founder of the Evanston Writers Workshop for a hands-on demonstration. You are welcome to bring up to 1,000 words of a story or novel to be read out loud and critiqued or simply participate in the group discussion. Since 2007, EWW has helped writers develop through weekly workshop critique and prompt meetings. See how a workshop-style critique can help you improve.

Panelists: Debbie Cairo and A. Catherine Noon, Co-Founders; and Tina Holland, CAO and Editor-in-Chief of Shopnotes; Evanston Writers Workshop.

General Impressions
I'll be honest and say I'm overwhelmed by the schedule. It's 32 pages long! The coordinators have done an incredible job, and I'm excited to be part of the program. Excited and a little awed. Well, okay, a lot awed.

I'm told by those who have gone before that RT is an excellent place to network. In honor of that, I've set up meetings with several author friends as well my two publishers. I plan to become like a sponge and see how much I can absorb in 5 days.

If you, too, are planning on coming to RT, please be sure to holler. If you're a newbie, like me, we'll clasp arms and phalanx our way through the place in grand fashion. If you're an old hand, then by gods HELP! ~grin~

See you at the conference! (And check back later today for a post by fellow BTV-er, Jean Marie Ward, for her upcoming conference schedule.)

08 April 2012

Happy Holidays!

First, happy holidays to those of you celebrating this time of year - and the best to you all for the future!

I really don't have much to say today, having just returned from a visit to Canada to nurse my mother for two weeks - she had triple bypass heart surgery and I went up to help out.

I *do* want to share some good news I got while in Canada - here's the new cover art for the last in my superhero trilogy, coming out in October!

As for what I like to write... I like to write and read hopelessly romantic stories of all shapes and kinds, from superhero romances to paranormal stories about shifters.

Because, after all - you are what you eat.... er, wait. Let me stash this chocolate bunny before I finish that thought...


07 April 2012

Waiter, There's a Romance in my Fantasy...Doing the Time Warp

Long ago (well, it was a different millennium) in a galaxy not that far away I launched Crescent Blues, a weekly nonfiction electronic magazine dedicated to the proposition that all genres are created equal. 
The notion didn’t seem terribly radical.  After all, I’d hung around bookstores (I told you it was long ago).  I spied with my own little eyes (not Google Glass, oh no) that while people might head to one genre-specific section the minute they arrived at the store, they invariably moseyed elsewhere before hauling their stash to the cash register.  Books and magazines were—and remain—impulse buys, and like potato chips, nobody could read just one.

Mainstream readers shopped mystery.  Mystery readers (ahem) probed science fiction.  SF readers checked out the jacket copy on the fantasy next shelf or explored the thin slice of retail space remaining for westerns.  Fantasy readers wandered into the horror aisle or hung out in the romance section, and romance readers read everything.  In quantity.

Crescent Blues page views reflected my observations.  Readers would come for an interview with a specific writer or media personality and wander deeper into the site.  Their page trails formed an electronic version of “If you like this writer, try that” one that seldom ever remained in genre for long.  

A lot has changed in merchandising and marketing of narrative nonfiction and fiction since then, but the pattern hasn’t changed.  People continue to read across genre.  Not only that, some of the intervening years’ most famous and popular books and series straddle genre lines.  The fantasy of Harry Potter is wrapped around a mystery core.  For the Twilight series, fantasy adds the spice to a very traditional sweet romance.  Charlaine Harris addresses mainstream themes of prejudice in America's so-called melting pot in her Sookie Stackhouse series.  Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series uses mystery as a framework to explore—and denounce—violence against women.  George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones is as more about Realpolitik than fantasy dragons.  Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series mixed reality TV and the Iraq War with dystopian SF.  And that doesn’t even address mash-ups like Pride and Prejudice with Zombies or Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone.  If the notion of blending genres unsettles you, think about it another way: How many of your favorite dishes contain just one ingredient?  I agree, there’s nothing like the flavor of a ripe tomato fresh off the vine or a handful of blackberries you picked yourself.  But even those flavors are complex—sweet yet salty and acidic, and sweet and tart.  But consider, a steak has no flavor if you cook it without salt.  And what about those of us who salivate at the thought of some childhood favorite—Mom’s spaghetti sauce (the ONLY thing my mom could cook) or a favorite aunt’s lemon meringue pie.  They’re a riot of flavors, which by some miracle of talent and art come together just right.

It’s something to think about the next time you hear someone say they don’t like this kind of story or that kind of movie.  They’re only fooling themselves.  They wouldn’t know what to do if someone tried to take the romance out of Castle or the fantasy out of Desperate Housewives.

On a purely promo note, I’ll be thinking about it a lot during the next week.  My first panel at RavenCon, April 14, will be “Space Cowboys and Fantasy Noir”, featuring con guest of honor Glen Cook.  To quote the program, “From Shadowrun to Garret Files to Priest, mixing genres can result in some interesting stories.  What genres mix well?”

To which I plan to reply: All of them.


02 April 2012

You Write What? Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance vs. Paranormal Fiction vs. Sci-fi/Fantasy

Happy April!

This month we are going to be discussing the types of stories that we here at Beyond the Veil write. And we are a pretty diverse group of authors, so this should be fun.

I'll get the ball rolling.

What do I write?

Paranormal Romances. They may have a bit of suspense in them, possibly a little fantasy and a touch of the historical, but at the beating the heart they are all paranormal (as in something extraordinary is going on) and they all have a satisfying romantic happy ending.

I don't write about vampires, werewolves, or shapeshifters--even though I like reading some of those stories. Nah, three out of five of my books (a couple are not published yet) have ghosts in them.

Why? Because I want to believe in love that never dies. Love that lasts for eternity even as it slips beyond the veil.

What kind of stories do you like to read?