31 May 2008

How do you find new authors? Emails, blogs, and family favorites.

My baby boy turned 14 yesterday. He's so much like me - a little bit geek, a techy toy lover. Quiet, even reserved around strangers (and sometimes around his family and friends). And a budding bibliophile.

I've been lucky enough to find two fantastic books this month to "share" with him. I read a lot, but most of it isn't really something I can recommend to my son. Romances aren't quite his thing. Then a few months ago I signed up for Tor's email list , and every week now I've been getting a nice email from Tor, letting me know that they're new website will be ready soon - and hey, while I wait, I can download a great book and read it for FREE! I've found a few new-to-me authors from Tor through these weekly emails, but my absolute favorite (and the best book I've read this year to date) was Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.

I passed the link on to my son, and he joined up and got the download as well. And loved it every bit as much. Enough that he immediately picked up The Wells of Ascension from the library, and devoured it in one night. We're both eagerly waiting for book 3 to come out - it's preordered from Amazon.

My second great find came via Neil Gaimon's blog. A few days ago he mentioned a book he'd blurbed for Cory Doctorow - "Litle Brother". I love Neil Gaimon, and when I found out that "Little Brother" was released as a free download by Cory Doctorow under the Creative Commons License, and quicker than you can say "ohhh!" I'd clicked the download link. Actually, it took a bit longer than saying "ohhh" - Cory Doctorow has an impressive opinion on the philosophy of free downloads, and he has every format I can imagine of Little Brother available on his website. So it took me a second to decide which one to click. But I am very glad I did - this book is amazing. As different from Mistborn as it could be, but a hell of a fascinating book. And one that I shared with my son, who found the book as "awesome" as I did.

I'm always looking for new authors. As much as I love a new book from an old favorite, I also love the thrill of finding a new author, a new voice to follow down the unknown path. So tell me - have you found any new authors to fall in love with lately? Any books you've loved sharing with your family and friends?

30 May 2008

Gravebreaking News

Stonehenge is one of those mysteries we like to try to solve, or not solve as the case may be. Perhaps this was the reason it was chosen to represent the Beyond the Veil blog's blend of fantasy, supernatural and paranormal genres. Of course all writers like things that arouse their curiousity, because nothing starts off a good story like something that makes them say, 'hmm, what if?'
So, when I started looking for things to blog about and saw that they've dug up new dirt on Stonehenge--literally, I of course surfed right over to find out what it was.
According to reports the megalithic mystery was used as a massive grave site for over 5000 years as opposed to 2700 years, which they thought before. Finds such as a stone mace led the archaelogists to the conculsion that those responsible for erecting Stonehenge were actually buried there. Not much else except some burnt Hazel sticks, and cremated remains of other dead, as well as an altar stone traced back to Wales.
One big and a few other small discoveries among others, true but every bit they uncover is something that makes my story radar go haywire. And nobody can make a mountain of out of a mysterious little mole hill like an author with a wild imagination. Take a look and see what you can do with it.
Jenna Leigh
Research Junkie

28 May 2008

Turning the Devil into the Dream Date

Years earlier, the paranormal entity in a story was always the bad guy, the villain, someone no sane woman would want as her lover. Romance writers may have written a vampire as a mysterious and charismatic figure in their books, but they didn’t have the heroine falling in love with him. At least, not before he worked his magic on her to place her under his spell, thus eliminating her responsibility for hooking up with the evil-doer.

Now, however, one of the best-selling genres of romance book is the paranormal romance. Heroines no longer have to be hypnotized to hop into bed with the debonair, yet evil Dracula. Instead, they fall in love with the vamp just like they would any other hero─with compassion, emotional connections and, of course, plain old physical chemistry. They offer up not only their bodies, but their blood to the man they adore.

But have we gone too far? Have we turned the Devil into the Dream Date?

Some people would say we have. After all, in a society where the real-life homosexual relationship is often still considered abnormal and, in other circles, outright demonized, the idea of a heroine making love to a man who transforms into a wolf is not only revolting, but sinful. They view these stories as jumping from the frying pan (gay partnerships) into the fire (bestiality). How can anyone fall in love with a being that is part creature and part human?

If asked this question, I reply that it is the part that is human that keeps the heroine by his side. Very often the hero is a victim. Although some heroes in these books freely choose to step over the edge and enter the realm of the supernatural, many are thrust into their new lives unwillingly. It is this distinction that causes the heroine to fall for the hero. Why? Because heroes who are part vamp, shifter or alien are the ultimate bad boys. And we all know how women love to love the bad boys.

Think about it. Women’s fascination with bad boys runs throughout our history. From the old west bank robber to the motorcycle hoodlum of the fifties to the rebels of the seventies, women have flocked to read about the men who live on the shadowy side of society. These bad boys don’t behave the way their women would like them to behave─except in the recesses of their fantasies. Each woman is always positive she will be the one who will tame her bad boy’s wild ways. Her love will be the catalyst to save him from his own private hell, bringing the real him, the good side of him, to the forefront. In the end, no matter how bad the bad boy was, the heroine never gives up the idea of a picket-fence future with him. As long as she keeps her goal in mind, she can accept any problem he has─even if it means sleeping with a stake under her pillow.

The question lies within all of us. If given the choice, would you change the Devil into the Dream Date?

Beverly Rae – http://www.beverlyrae.com/
Giggle, Gasp & Sigh with a Beverly Rae Romance

21 May 2008

Summer Productivity for Writers

School is almost done for child #1, who was in kindergarten this year while I spent it home with child #2, who just celebrated her second birthday. I've seen quite a few posts bemoaning the temporary cessation of ordinary days that summer represents. Not that writers don't love their children, but they also love routines--routines that involve writing time in the schedule.

Unlike many writers deeply involved in summer childcare, I'm looking forward to the season insofar as my personal productivity is concerned. Why?

1) It can hardly be worse. Child #2 is a Klingon -- not the Star Trek variety, but the stick to Mommy like glue variety. When child #1 is present, #2 at least spends part of the time fighting with her instead of me.

2) In the same vein, I won't get as many backaches. Child #2 frequently insists we picnic at lunch on her favorite lap tray. This involves me sitting on the ground throughout the lunch hour, and my spine doesn't appreciate it. Since the lap tray is barely big enough for 2, Child #2 can take my place at the picnic while I sit at the table and eat a sandwich while, perhaps, reading a book or writing.

3) The kids won't be constantly exposed to the germs of other children and thus, I hope, won't be constantly sick. Trips to the doctor, the drugstore, the Kleenex store and the ginger ale and crackers store take up precious time, not to mention holding the heads, hands and puke buckets of sick offspring.

4) I have a much better reason for never cleaning house since 2 kids at home will get it twice as dirty as one kid who's too short to reach some of the books and toys she might otherwise strew across the floor.

5) Bedtime won't be such a crucial and peace-shattering event. Not that we'll let #1 stay up until she passes out to avoid the arguments, but the flexibility we'll have at bedtime will mean sometimes we can let her stay up an extra half hour or sometimes we can go out to dinner, run errands or even do FUN stuff at night. This will increase household harmony, and increased harmony means I'll be more in the mood to write, at least until we have to get them back on the school schedule in August.

6) Increased daylight hours will mean hubby can mow the yard or do other household projects when he gets home from work during the week instead of burning entire week-end days on maintenance.

7) My sister, whose employment hours decrease when school is out of session, will be around more, which means more free babysitting! Ok, it's not free because she hangs it over my head to get me to do what she wants, but babysitting is still good.

What career-related reasons cause you to love or hate the summer season, or is it business as usual?

Jody W.
So much cyberspace, so little time!
www.jodywallace.com * www.elliemarvel.com

19 May 2008

Jean Marie's Balticon Schedule

The final nail of official approval has been hammered into the coffin of my Balticon--wait, I'm not sure I like where this metaphor is going, especially since I'm rather fond of Balticon. Let's just say, I have my Balticon schedule and it is good:

E-Publishing (Friday, 7 p.m., Derby) - After editing Crescent Blues for eight years, persuading other people to publish my articles and stories online, and working with Samhain as an author and final line editor, this was probably a no-brainer. But I'll try to find some new stories to tell.

How Do You Write Them Shorter? (Friday, 11 p.m., Salon D) - This is a perfect example of chance working for you. I hadn't marked this on my Wanna List, but I actually do have some good info to share--like how to cut 45K from 165K manuscript in 30 days or less and what to do when you get invited to participate in an anthology and you haven't written short fiction in over five years. My only problem is I'm not sure how to promote this as a sex panel. When it comes to late night panels, short is generally not considered a good thing. ;-)

Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading (Saturday, 11 a.m., Salon D) - I've got two passages earmarked for reading here: the opening of Highway from Hell and the opening of "Hero Material", the short story resulting from the panic attack alluded to in the last paragraph. Guess it depends on what the other writers--Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Kelly A. Harmon, Gail Z. Martin, Christy E. Tohara and Trish J. Woolridge--choose to read. My natural inclination is to read whatever offers the greatest change of pace. But I won't know what that will be until I get there.

Feudalism (Sunday, 6 p.m., Derby) - You'd never know my minor was British History in the Medieval/Early Modern Period from the way my brain froze when I read that. Time to relearn "usufruct". LOL

Reinventing The Myth (Monday, 2 p.m., Salon D) - This is the one I asked for special, and the Programming Crew was kind enough to sign me up. This so very much relates to Highway and my work-in-progress. Looking forward to hearing what my fellow panelists are up to, as well.

Looking forward to connecting with everyone who can make it. Now it's time to get back to researching that WIP. At least I've got all the reality show data I need. All those Real World auditions were really getting me down.
Cheers and grins,

18 May 2008

Erotic ROMANCE defined by Melissa Lopez

Something caught my interest at the recent Romantic Times convention in Pittsburg. An NY editor (who shall remain nameless) didn’t have a firm grasp on what exactly erotic ROMANCE is. The terms erotica and erotic ROMANCE kept being interchanged from their lips.

Strange how even today, some have trouble defining erotic ROMANCE. Erotic ROMANCE is a heat level in which an author tells a happy-ever-after story.

First, the most important factor in erotic ROMANCE is a ROMANCE that has two basic plot elements:

1. A central LOVE story.

2. An emotionally, satisfying, and optimistic ending.

In other words, the main emotionally engaged characters (however many there may be or whatever they might be) must have a happy-ever-after or a happy-for-now ending.

On to the deciding factor that earns an erotic ROMANCE that smoking hot heat level.

There are a few heat levels in ROMANCE genres:

Sweet romance is a chaste romance story. There may be some romantic tension but the couples do not go beyond a kiss or two. This heat level is very popular in Young Adult and Inspirational genres.

Sensuous romance is comfortable in its sexuality and open to new experiences.

Spicy romance has an edge, takes risks, and can be a little naughtier.

Are you feeling the flame of the heat level going up?

Erotic ROMANCE contains long, hot, in your face, explicit love scenes.

Like with the chaste kiss in the sweet romances and the love scenes in the sensual and spicy tales…Erotic ROMANCE is not just a story where sex has been inserted. Nor is erotic ROMANCE a story containing a string of sex scenes. The love scenes, like the characters and drama, must drive the plot forward.

There’s room for different definitions of erotic ROMANCE and I don’t think anything is set in stone as to what it is and not. But erotic ROMANCE is explicit enough and hot enough to excite a reader. The erotic heat level is meant to arouse. The ROMANCE is meant to satisfy.

Melissa Lopez
JOURNEYS OF LOVE every woman needs to take.

17 May 2008

Divination: Celtic Ogham - Duir

Other names: Dair, Derwen
Pronounced "door" (as in "boo") or "dweer"
Ogham Letter: D
Plant: Oak (Quercus sp.)
Month: May (Some sources say June, or anytime around May and June that includes Summer Solstice)
Energy: Masculine
Color: Black or dark brown, or white
Planet: Sun
Deity: Dagda, Esus, or Taranis
Crystal: Bluestone, sarsen - stones of stone circles

Symbolic of the Oak King, ruler of the lighter half of the year. Its role as the king of trees is set deep in the British psyche, representing the essence of kingship. King Arthur's round table was made of oak.

Oak is a symbol of security, protection and strength. Its roots go as deep into the ground as the branches reach into the air. Good month for working magic of all positive purposes. Root word thought to be the same as that of "Druid", hence the Druids' strong association with this tree as their symbol. Merlin was thought to have practised magic in an oak grove, with an oak wand.

Oak is the doorway to inner knowledge, and the ability see the invisible - or to be invisible.

A straight-trunked, slow-growing tree, oak is easy to identify among other trees on the horizon. The wood is hard and burns slowly. The acorns feed animal and human alike.


Physical: When Duir appears in your spread, it's an indication that a hands-on approach will help you build the very skills you wish to have. You learn by doing - don't be afraid to get in there and get your hands dirty.
Mental: Your open mind has been accumulating knowledge long enough - it's time to use your generous heart to start sharing the wisdom you've gained.
Spiritual: Have the wisdom to know life is unpredictable. Be strong, as an Oak is strong even when struck by lightning. Duir even makes an appearance in the word endurance (dur = duir).
Negative aspect: Refusal to change your thinking in the face of reason. Be careful you are not forcing issues or overriding others in the pursuit of your own personal ambition.

Oak tree, Middleton Place, South Carolina


Sources: Joelle's Sacred Grove
Sacred Texts
Joelle's Sacred Grove
Celtic Tree Mysteries by Stephen Blamires
Celtic Tree Oracle by Colin Murray

Click here to see the rest of the posts in this series!

16 May 2008

Mythology Workshop and Bad Vampire Movies

I usually blog about different mythologies, but right now I'm utterly absorbed by a free workshop that's happening.

Go over to the Romance Divas website. Join up, if you haven’t already (it’s free) and head over to the Class In Session section for the USING MYTHOLOGY IN ROMANCE workshop that’s going on right now. As in, Right Now.

Lori Handeland is talking about how she combines Navajo mythology with Biblical eschatology (study of the end times), vampires, werewolves, and coyote shifters. Robin Owens is discussing some of her world-building tips. Gena Showalter explains how she tweaks myths to get what she needs. And Nancy Madore is talking fairy tale archetypes.

Our other guest authors will be joining us as they can, so stay tuned. If you can’t join in the discussion today, it’ll stay in the archives for later research.

I was going to write a post all about the Worst Vampire Movies Ever, but realized that I haven’t made a habit of watching terrible vampire movies. Two, however, recently crossed my radar.

One day in a fit of housewifely industriousness, I was ironing and decided to watch a little TV to take my mind off the excruciating boredom. SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE had just started, so I flipped there. Hey, it said Cary Elwes was in it, which is usually good enough for me.

Sweet. Baby. Nosferatu. First, John Malkovich does accents even worse than Kevin Costner, who can’t do them at all. Second, just wow. And not in a good way.

It’s about the making of the silent film, Nosferatu, back in 1922. Apparently, the original film was plagued with misfortune – people disappearing and dying. So the whole cast is doing these really dreadful German accents, except for Udo Kier, who actually IS German, so he at least sounds normal. Willem Dafoe is totally unrecognizable as Max Schreck, who played Nosferatu.

I honestly thought the movie was supposed to be a spoof. Eddie Izzard is in it, for crying out loud. But no. People took it seriously. It won dozens of awards! I just don’t get it. Maybe I’m not clever enough to watch American films about European films. I’d seriously give this one a pass unless you’re in the mood to watch otherwise excellent actors chew up the scenery.

The other movie was a late night “Gee, I’m awake, so I’ll see what’s on.” BLOOD FOR DRACULA is at least supposed to be funny. And it succeeds simply because it’s so over the top.

Udo Kier (what is it with him and cheesy vampire flicks?) portrays a dying Dracula in this 1971 film. He doesn’t just drink any blood. No, he’s gotta be picky. It must be a virgin’s blood. (Pronounced “wirgin.”) So he sets off to Italy and finds a poor, upper-class family with four daughters. Surely, one of them must be a virgin. He starts with the middle two, who are pretty, but slutty. They’ve been banging the help, played by Joe Dallesandro. Pretty face, great abs, but if only he wouldn’t talk so much. I’ve never heard the word “whore” pronounced “hoo-ah” before. And then there’s the fun little twincest thing they’ve got going on. Drac tries to drink from them, but gets sick because they’re not “wirgins.” At this point, the movie is pretty much a sex farce with Udo regurgitating buckets of blood everywhere. The ending is one of the funniest bloodbaths ever. Remember the movie, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” when Paul Rubens dies? Yeah. Like that. Only more.

I suppose it’s worth mentioning that Andy Warhol was one of the producers. And that Roman Polanski played a bit part in the film. You know, that really explains a lot.

So, what are the worst vampire movies you’ve ever seen?

14 May 2008

Moms and Daughters

This past Mother’s Day got me thinking. Am I a good mom? I think I am. Really.

But don’t ask my daughter. I’m afraid of what she might say. Why? Because I’ve done horrible things to her? Because I’ve treated her worse than a stray dog? (Well, actually, I take in stray dogs so that reasoning doesn’t apply.) Or because I’ve beaten her with a belt every night?

Nope. Not a chance. Never happened.

Here’s the reason. I'm afraid she wouldn’t call me a good mom because…she’s a teenager.

I want to know what happened. I haven’t changed - much. I’m still the same old mom I was when she was ten years old, then eleven, then twelve. Yet something must have changed when she hit the magical age of thirteen. Or, if you listen to her, I changed.

Our relationship went off the edge of the road. Although I wouldn’t say our relationship is in the ditch yet, but the tires are running through gravel on the side of the highway and not on the road. She no longer comes up to me and hugs me for no reason. I don’t get the impromptu snuggle on the couch. Instead, I get one-word answers and eyes rolled in her head. Yep, she gives me teen-talk.

But am I worried? Will we ever get back the relationship we once enjoyed? I doubt it. Neither one of us will be the same person we are today. But that’s okay. I remember my own teenage years. I treated my own mom horribly. (Sorry, Mom!)

I know, however, that life has a way of evening things out. I know that my relationship with my own mother is now a wonderful, loving, friendship-type relationship. So I’m thinking, maybe mothers and daughters have to go through the teen years in order to come out on the other side as adult friends.

Keeping that theory in mind, whenever my daughter rolls her eyes or slams a door, I think of the future. We’ll have a solid relationship again one day. I know it.

Still, just in case we don’t, I’m hexing her with the same curse my mom put on me. Here goes.

“I hope you have a daughter just like you!”

Beverly Rae – http://www.beverlyrae.com/
Giggle, Gasp & Sigh with a Beverly Rae Romance

WAILING FOR LOVE - http://tinyurl.com/35hfxf (Rock star romance)

TOUCH ME - eBook at http://tinyurl.com/397k8j (Touch her and know your soul mate)
In Paperback at http://tinyurl.com/2zand4 (Amazon.com)

13 May 2008

Mythology Workshop May 16-18

Everything Old Is New Again – Using Mythology in Romance

May 16, 17, and 18 at Romance Divas


P.C. Cast

Robin D. Owens

Gena Showalter

Nancy Madore

Lori Handeland

Alyssa Day

Want to know how to use mythology, culture, fairy tales, or folklore in romance? Romance Divas is hosting a 3-day workshop with some of the hottest names in the genre. It will take place at the Romance Diva Forum. All are welcome. To get access to the forum you will need to register.

12 May 2008

Life and Art and Moving

My computer died, but we'll get to that in a minute. Let's begin with the fact that I'm moving cross-country on just over 30 days notice.

This is both a sudden and inevitable move on my part for which I'm grateful. Our apartment building was foreclosed on and the vultures began circling last year. By the time a rep from the bank came by to speak to the tenants everyone had that sinking feeling. Months had passed since the initial change over and silence is not the strategy of one trying to hold onto to residents. Despite this we were cautiously hopeful when the rep took information and spoke about a lease being brought over in a few weeks. Months later it was clear that wasn't going to happen as whispers of condo conversion began. Still we'd been assured that if the building was sold again, we'd be given 60 to 90 day notice and there would be plenty of time to move and do it right. How fortunate I'm not a trusting person.

My Sweetie and I began saving the moment the rep came to our door and confirmed the foreclosure. Sure enough, two weeks ago we came home to a 30 day "notice to vacate" on our door. The vultures had managed to sell our lot for condos. We didn't even blink. In a beautiful bit of serendipity we'd come to the decision an hour earlier to move to New Mexico if we loved it during our July visit. We've wanted to get out of Wisconsin for years and New Mexico is one of four places I've wanted to explore long term. Add to that eager and insistant friends, and money to make the move, and it all just seemed like the right timing. When we came home and found the notice, it was obvious that the timing was even earlier than we thought. July schmuly, we're going now!

Since neither of us drive, an adventurous road trip was out of the question.We looked into shipping our stuff--laughed when we saw the price--and decided to mail what we're keeping and shed the rest. Our entire life reduced to twenty boxes and two carry-on bags and not a natural disaster in sight. Talk about blessed and frightened all in one. Choosing to let go and leave behind the clutter has been deeply emotional and profoundly liberating. Box after box and item after item slips away and a sense of self opens up as the space around me does the same.

As Zen and spiritual as I am, it was my writer's eye that took it all in and identified my perfect chick-lit moments unfolding before me. The quarter-lifer making a move that in the end profoundly changes her entire being, (only with fewer werewolves and vampires than if I was actually writing it.). But as we all know, chick-lit, even the paranormal kind, is as much tragedy as comedy. Fortunately it tends to be comedic tragedy in the end.

Being the industrious one that I am, when I jumped into this I did it full force and with plans upon plans and research for days. They have a saying about the best laid plans. We packed up the boxes and got the first batch to the post office. Turned out all my research was for naught as we couldn't send the book heavy boxes via media mail. Again, I'm industrious and fed two birds with one handful of seeds by using clothing as packing material to protect the books and cds. And you just can't do that.

Would have been nice to have that prominent on the website, perhaps in large, block, neon letters. Would have also been nice to know they had discontinued the complimentary plain address labels and no longer carried the twenty pack for sale. However none of that would have mattered if I'd known my computer was going to die just as I was about to print out address labels for the boxes. Yeah, a lot it would have been nice to know 48 hrs earlier rather than to learn it all in a 20 minute span.

Standing in the post office after the computer died, writing out mailing labels on lined notebook paper, having just learned my careful budget was shot to hell, I realized it was the part in the movie where it seems our plucky heroine has made a drastic mistake. It helped me to remember that it also meant things would turn out wonderful beyond the plucky heroine's wildest dreams. It cheered me up immensely!

Sometimes we're reluctant to put our main characters through their paces when dealing with our created worlds, but the truth is that life is like that. It's a series of highs and elation and then moments of one thing after another trying to drag us down, with only our inner strength to rely on.

So go ahead and find the comedy and tragedy in the every day moments and let your characters do the same. Live your inspiration and in the midst of the worst remember there's always another act coming after the next commercial break. And in the end we can all have a bit of our HEA.

Ramble Done


10 May 2008

Natural Storytelling

“Where do you get your ideas?”
For most writers, the question offers an almost irresistible invitation to snark. “At the five dollar aisle in Walmart.” “I have them delivered.” “Alien implants.”
But you know what’s weird? People who aren’t writers really don’t know. For most of them, what we do is as mysterious and complicated as rocket science.
Earlier this week I received a call from an old friend who wanted to talk about writing. Although she doesn’t write for a living, in many ways this friend qualifies an accomplished writer. She wrote well-received theses for her undergraduate and advanced degrees. She’s written advertising copy and articles. Now she’d like to write a novel or a short story. “How do you do it?” she asked.
At first I couldn’t wrap my head around the question. Which it?
All of it. Where did I get the physical descriptions for my characters? Where do the plots come from? How did I fill up the pages?
To be fair, every writer I know asks themselves that last question. A lot. The white heat of inspiration--where the words flow from your fingers almost faster than you can type because the story is complete and so beautiful it’s burning through your brain like a laser--is the rarest of exceptions, not the rule.
Most stories are built bit by bit. Some writers build a story like a wall, one layer after another in a logical, linear progression. Sometimes, the story comes together like a quilt. The writer sets down the scenes in no particular order and assembles them later. It doesn’t matter how you put the pieces together as long as they fit together to form a whole.
I tried to illustrate this by explaining how I put together “Hero Material”, the short story I sold last month. “But that’s fantasy,” she objected. “I don’t want to write about magic.”
I told her it didn’t matter. The big stuff remains constant. You figure out who or what you want to write about. You decide who your characters are when their story begins and where you think you want them to end up. Next, you write the scenes needed to get them there. Then you revise and edit everything until it flows like a movie in a reader’s head.
Sometimes the process requires a lot of research. Sometimes you make it all up. Sometimes you outline the story before you write it. Sometimes you fly by the seat of your pants. The genre is in the details and the story’s balance of action, tension, emotion and deductive reasoning.
My friend listened and thanked me politely. I got the distinct feeling she didn’t believe a word I said. At best, she thought I was leaving something out of the recipe. The process couldn’t be simultaneously so straightforward, so messy, so universal and yet so individual. It didn’t make sense.
Well, maybe not to her. Not only did it make sense to me, it always made sense to me. I may have only recently learned how to write saleable fictions, but I’ve always known how to create a story. I needed to be taught every other aspect of writing, but the process of putting the story down? That seems to have been coded in my DNA. It was there when I was eight, when I wrote my first complete play about the theft of Thor’s hammer, and it’s been there for every story since.
Which is somewhat surprising, because eight was also the age when I first encountered the concept of the “natural storyteller”. I found it total downer too. At face value, a natural storyteller had to be somebody like my dad, who could tell a joke or a story just right. He never muffed a punch line or blew the big finish. People would gladly listen to him for hours, because he could make “nothing in particular” sound like the best yarn they’d ever heard.
If my dad was the measure of a storyteller, I was flat out of luck. I could never tell a joke properly the first time through. And just because I was constantly telling myself stories didn’t mean they were any good. I had to work long and hard to create believable characters, description, action, crisp pacing and beginnings--oh, beginnings are so hard! Obviously, I was not and never would be a “natural”.
Talking to my friend, however, I found myself questioning my long-held assumptions about what constitutes a “natural storyteller”. Maybe it isn’t about getting it right the first time, every time.
Maybe it’s just a matter of filling all those pages from beginning to end, then opening a new document and doing it again.


08 May 2008


I have always admired authors who can work on two, three, or even four projects at a time. Some seem to do it with an ease that makes the task look so simple it should be a must for all writers.

Uh huh. Right. You betcha. If it really was that blasted easy then every author should be able to do it. Stands to reason. So I'm going to attempt the task myself. That's right, you heard it here first, I am vowing my pledge to write two books at once.

But what is the best way to accomplish the task? I have initially started by assigning each piece a word count for the day. X-amount of words on project one, and x-amount of words on project two. Seems the logical choice, split up the workload evenly between the two manuscripts and voila...both completed and finished at roughly the same time.

I'm not finding this approach so easy, however. I get good and involved on one project and whoops...time's up...set it down and move onto the next. Nothing kills a good writing flow better. And if I continue to write that particular project, I always know in the back of my mind that I have to complete the assigned count for the other project. Plus it's hard to shift gears, juggle the plot lines, and keep the characters from blending into one another.

I'm thinking of switching tactics, giving each separate work their own days of the week...i.e., for three days I work on project one, and for the next three days project two...take a day off to rest, and off I go again. This way I can give each work my undivided attention for a few days before switching gears completely and moving onto the next. I like this idea, I think it will allow me to immerse myself fully into each book, and when I get bored with it or blocked, I get to set it down and move onto the next.

Of course two sessions of a smaller word count each can sometimes seem more achievable than a single session that requires a longer commitment. AAkkkkkk. See the dilemma? I have the usual amount of ADD and get bored rather quickly, so going for the smaller sessions felt like the right idea in the beginning.

So what do you think? Who out there has managed to successfully work on more than one manuscript at a time, and what works for you? Any and all ideas would be most gratefully appreciated. :)

Help...I think I need it!

07 May 2008


My new book, a futuristic m/m romance entitled Poison is now on sale at My Bookstore and More!

Didn't Anne Cain do a fantastic job with the cover?

Here’s the blurb:

In this world, trust is hard to find…and the one thing they need to survive.

Tobias Smator lives down his late father’s execution by avoiding the spotlight—and responsibility. He doesn’t mind what people think of him as long as they leave him alone. Still, in this unremarkable half-life he’s fashioned for himself on deceptively low-tech Rimania, he’s not safe from political intrigue. Someone wants him dead.

Alliance operative Geln Marac’s orders for his first assignment were simple: Stay uninvolved. Those orders go out the window, however, when he delivers an antidote to save Tobias from death by poisoning. His reward? Possible betrayal that lands him in the hands of police interrogators. To protect the Alliance, Geln resorts to a temporary mindwipe.

Tobias is fascinated by the amnesiac man who saved his life. But Geln has attracted the attention of the high-powered Lord Eberly, who would use him as a pawn. Rather than sacrifice Geln to the political wolves, Tobias chooses to embrace his heritage.

Geln’s memory reawakens to a precarious situation with no source of protection—except Tobias. There’s only one way forward for both of them.

Trust—or die.

Warning: this book contains hot nekkid otherplanetary manlove.

Read an excerpt.
On sale here.

Obviously this was written under my Joely Skye pen name. It was actually written a few years ago when I was reading a lot of science fiction. I had a lot of fun with this one!

04 May 2008

Stuff going on today!

I was going to post something else, when I realized that my day today coincides with the YA List Mom day over at the Samhain Cafe. If you're not already signed up, it only takes a minute to subscribe to the list. Myself and four other Samhain Publishing Young Adult authors are taking over the list from 1-8 pm (EST) to talk about, what else, our books! There will be some excerpts, and games, and prizes (of course). So drop on by!

Meanwhile, I'm here with the second round edits to The Ankh of Isis, which is the sequel to The Crown of Zeus and the second in the Library of Athena series. The cover art has been submitted, and I'm waiting for approval. Anxiously waiting, because I can't wait for everyone else to see it! The artist, Christine Clavel, is totally brilliant! I'll be posting at least one preview excerpt from ANKH today at the Cafe. ANKH wil be available from SP July 8, 2008! I'll be sharing more about the book when we get closer to the release date. Expect posts about Ancient Egypt :)

I've been finishing up my college courses for the Spring term, and finally finished all the papers, and reading books that I will review over at my site (YA and Fantasy Bookspot), and working like a fiend and looking for a full time job. I passed my certification test (yay!), so I'm qualified to work as either an Elementary School teacher or a Middle School (grades 5-8) Science teacher. Yes, Science. I know, it's strange eh? That was my original topic for today - how I am the new Renaissance Woman, able to appreciate both Science and Literature, Fantasy and Reality. But I just ran out of time to do it properly.

I've been so busy that I haven't really been able to even work on the WIP, which is the third in the LoA series. After the finals are over, I plan to dive back in and wrap up the first draft.

Hope to see you this afternoon!

Make every day magical,


01 May 2008

Wastin' away in Shark-a-ritaville

Humorous Pictures
see more crazy cat pics

My mother called me today. The waves crashing on the shore didn't quite mask the smug satisfaction in her voice as she told that she was lying on the beach doing nothing. Absolutely nada, zilch, zip! She paused to sip something more than likely cool and refreshing and sighed happily.

During this lull in her bragfest, I asked her if she'd been swimming yet, and she gasped in horror. "Are you nuts?" Yes, I am, thanks to her, but I didn't say that..out loud, because while she's in Florida on vacation, it won't prevent the don't make me come up there, young lady speech. And I don't feel like hearing it, well, okay, the young lady part would be nice.

Luckily, she contined and I forgot all about my smartalec reply which would have gotten my butt in a sling. "Sharks are evil, they like to get revenge, and I still have those sharkskin boots I got in the 70's. They're gonna get me for that."

"No they're not!" Seriously though, who keeps boots that long? I was born in the 70's!

"Yes they are! Hello, Jaws? It was based on a true story."

"That wasn't a true story, that was just a movie!" I try to instill some sanity in her oh so twisted logic but I doubt she hears me because she's pulled the phone away from her to yell something at my stepfather. It sounds like either "great white behind you!" or "good for you!" it's six of one and half dozen of the other for her. And it means the same thing, "Shut up I'm on the phone!"

Apparently, my stepfather is actually out in the water. He may as well have moved to Beau Bridge, turned himself into a crawdad, slathered himself in Tobasco and butter and screamed, "Eat me!" at least, this is what she is muttering when she comes back on the line. So I know he's committed this grevious sin even before she tells me he's sufing the waves on a body board. "He looks just like a seal from below. I saw that on Shark Week last year. And I know that was real. It said documentary."

"Yes, that's real. Jaws, isn't. But he's having a good time?" I smile as I ask this.

"He looks it. I'm having one too. I'll bring you home some shells, they're all along the beach. And I'll even bring you a shirt. I love you, even though you make fun of me." She sniffs indignantly.

"I love you too, Mama." I hum the Jaws theme. "And remember, sharks can come up on..."

"Oh shut up! I'm not moving from this spot. If one comes near me, I'll smack it in the eye with my flipflop." I can picture her sitting close enough so that the waves barely lap at her feet. She likes to play it safe, my mama, but she likes to get her feet wet too.