Monday, March 31, 2008

Second Wind, Thanks to a Cookie

(Okay, so as the previous post said, I did not actually take a break tonight. I decided to write and post the following blog entry that has been floating around in my head for the past two weeks.)

I've recently read two new authors I think are wonderful. Cody found one for me, and the other I stumbled across in the bookstore when I was looking for a different author. Both are paranormal romances and at opposite ends of the spectrum. So if you like your romance mixed with fantasy (and I'm not talking the kind of fantasy that involves falling in love a wealthy millionaire—before you knew he was rich—who drives delightfully sexy cars/carriages that perfectly complement his chiseled jaw/artfully crafted cravat), then you should check out these authors:

Katie MacAlister—She makes me laugh. A lot. I was reading You Slay Me while brushing my teeth the other night (what, you don't read while brushing your teeth?), and she made me laugh so hard I drooled down my shirt. Attractive, I know. I've raced through one of her books and two novellas in the last month or so, and I'm about half way through the second of her books and looking forward to the five more that are already published in the series. They're all modern tales filled with fantastical elements. The novellas (conveniently packaged together in Ain't Myth-Behaving) involve Norse gods come to life, who encounter modern American women (there're no weak damsels here). I've never laughed so hard and enjoyed a male hero so much as I did with Stag Party, the first of the two novellas. The novel A Girl's Guide to Vampires was sexy and amusing. I don't usually read vampire/romances (I tend to stick to my Laurell K Hamilton vampire/soft porn) because the authors tend to take the vampires too seriously for me. MacAlister keeps it light (despite the murders). Even for me, I completed the book in record time. You Slay Me, which is what I'm reading now, is my favorite so far simply because it has a lot of elements from fantasy that I loved when I was younger (dragons, dark magic, mages, etc.), but that I've typically found too D&D for my tastes now. MacAlister brings all the fun fantasy to life, and keeps it packed with adult material.

Colby HodgeTwist is a time-traveling-to-the-future novel that combines vampires, some magic, and a plague (I love a good plague story—usually in movie form, but this one worked too. I mean, who hasn't contemplated what they would do if they were one of the few surviving humans after a plague/nuclear holocaust/alien or zombie invasion?). The heroine is strong, you get to learn of the world with her, and the hero is sexy. For me, it's a toss-up between whether the plot or the characters carry this book. Both are really well crafted (apparently Hodge has written historical romances under Cindy Holby—wouldn't it have been better if she'd chosen the pseudonym Colby Holby?) and she knows her craft. My only complaint was that I saw the ending coming half way through the book—and I don't just mean I knew that the two main characters were going to live happily ever after, either. The story was novel enough (pun intended) that I wasn't bored along the way, though. The imprint Twist is published under (Shomi) is all about Matrix-style romances, and this one fits the bill. The heroine uses a ninja sword! This book had great action, great romance, and great fantasy.

On a side note, I have recently discovered that I take great delight in matching authors (their books, not the actual people) with readers. There's something magical in finding a book for someone—it's like matchmaking on a totally nerdy level. (Though now I think I understand why people enjoy setting up others on dates.) Look for an updated "Recommended Authors" page on my website soon, in which I'll list all the authors I feel safe in recommending. And if you want a little help picking a new author from the list, I'd be delighted to make suggestions based on your tastes. Of course, I'll let you know when the page is up.

Cookie Time!

I finished editing Madison!

It took me only a little over two weeks (one of which I had off of my daytime job) working 2 to 4 hours a day (with the last Saturday off and then 8 hours on Sunday), to finish the edits and rewrite of the entire book. Among many things I love about Madison, it's how quickly I see results!

Tomorrow, the book is off to my mom and sister for their opinions, and next week, off to Kate for hers. Cody, of course, already has his copy. Wednesday I'm shifting focus to query letters, synopsis, and a brilliant tag line. When those are done, I'll name the chapters. Today, however, I'm giving myself the day off.

It feels a little weird. I think I'll go eat a cookie.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I've been working on Madison this past week. I've done two month's editing work on Areia and I'm 132 pages into a 1,309 page book. At this rate, I won't finish editing until . . . crap! I actually hadn't figured it out until now: It's going to take me another 20 months! Okay, breathe. In. Out. I'm okay. Hopefully it is only these early chapters that are taking so long because there's a lot of rewrite/shuffling to do. The later chapters should, I dearly hope, not take nearly as long!

Deep breaths. Really. I'm okay.

Anyway, I decided to take a break and work on Madison. By the time I neared the end of writing Madison, I knew that the beginning was going to need some hacking and slashing to get the pacing right. I'd even decided what scene to cut and had gone so far as to cut it and start rearranging information before I finally settled on working on Areia first. So when I went back to look over the first chapter and reacquaint myself with where to begin, I reread that cut scene. And I wanted it back.

I love the scene. It's witty. It's a great character-building scene. There's a lot of information that gets revealed during dialog. I love two of the characters that are only on-page during this scene. I cracked myself up with the scene. I mean, it was great. Only, it makes the beginning about twenty pages too long.

Two days ago I tried, again, to make it work. I rearranged and squished and pulled information from other scenes into this one, all in the hopes that it would somehow be short enough to keep. Yesterday, I reread it and realized what I'd known all along: I was merely indulging my ego. It doesn't work. It doesn't fit. I want it in there because I want people to see the great dialog/phrases/descriptions I created. Yeah, I moped. Then I got back to work again today and pushed past that scene and realized that some of it I can keep. Some of it I can place in bits and pieces throughout other scenes. And some of it I still hold secret hopes to use in the next novel. In the end, I'm a happy girl again (but you're glad you weren't here yesterday :) ).

(Damn, I'm still reeling from the 20 months revelation!)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mood Music

For reasons outside of my control, I was subjected to a good deal of '80s music today. Normally, I hear an '80s song, the general course of action is retreat: I change the radio station, leave the departments store, close the apartment/car windows, etc. This was impossible today, and a funny thing happened: I found myself enjoying the music.

I'm not saying by any means that I'm now a fan of '80s pop rock and will be running out to the local Safeway to buy an iTunes gift card to download fifteen dollar's worth music I still consider best left to childhood memories. However, it did get me thinking about music and writing. (What doesn't make me think about writing?)

I believe that the whole reason I enjoyed the music today is because other people did. It was less that I liked the music, but that I liked the shift it created in people's energy level. It's one of the things I love about music in general: they way a song can change your mood, make you think differently, and inspire you. Which is, of course, why a lot of authors write to music.

I've found that while editing, I like a nice, quiet environment, especially because half the time I'm reading aloud to myself. (This never fails to attract a cat.) But when I was writing Temple, I had a rotation of music that helped me along: Natalie Merchant and Tori Amos in the early days; Enya, Shakira, Celine Dion (yes, I know you all are now mocking me) in the later days. For Madison, I wrote whenever and wherever I could, and the only place that I remember the music was sitting in a Starbucks listening to several different distracting renditions of "Baby, It's Cold Outside". (Not exactly inspiring music for a mildly violent fantasy, in case you were thinking of trying it.)

As you can tell, I'm not an author that believes I need a certain type of music to fit my mood. (I'm not listening to anything at the moment.) I was telling Cody a while back that I've never understood people who are obsessed with having the right music to create the right mood. And I wasn't, until I said, "It's like they're trying to create the soundtrack to their own life," at which point, I wanted one of my own. Fortunately for all parties concerned, I've been rather lazy about pursuing that goal, but occasionally the thought of putting together a soundtrack for my books inspires me to hunt through the pages of iTunes. I mean, how cool would that be? Buy the book, get a bonus compilation CD soundtrack (or iTunes download) of the songs the author feels best suit each scene. I'd buy at least one to see how it went. And they could play it softly in the background of audio books. Brilliant, right?

And because I was enjoyed your responses so much to the previous post's question, I've got another: For all those of you who do like to set the mood with music for your creative endeavors, what are your favorites?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Little Gratitude

I had a whole post written where I spent the entire time complaining about having too many things I want to do and not enough time. Which is a rather boring post, not to mention a common complaint that, while I'm sure it's something you can all relate to, it doesn't make for fascinating (or fun!) reading. However, rereading that post made me realize something: I've got a lot of things to be grateful for. Here's a small list that (mostly) pertains to writing:

*I have a job that provides enough money to support me, with regular 9-5 hours, so I can write in the evenings and weekends (and not need a second job).
*I have two great stories written that merely need polishing before I sell them.
*I have a lot of free time to work on my writing (and whatever else comes up) because I don't have kids or a dog or family obligations or (fill in the blank here). In fact, I have so much free time, I've been able to explore my desires and find even more things I want to do (hence the previous complaining email).
*I've got loads of great book ideas, including ideas for non-fiction books.
*I have great family members who support what I do and what I want to do.
*Cody was considerate enough to take late classes three nights a week and make me realize how much I can get done in an evening (and how much I appreciate it when he is here!).
*I live in America where I can do anything I want to do.

So while I temporarily fell off the blog-posting bandwagon to wallow in self-pity as I overwhelmed myself with trying to fit too many fun things into too little time, I hope to begin posting more regularly again.

Until then, what are you grateful for?