Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

there are things of more importance

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

It may be said that there are things of more importance than striking a ball against a wall—there are things, indeed, that make more noise and do as little good, such as making war and peace, making speeches and answering them, making verses and blotting them, making money and throwing it away.

William Hazlitt, ‘The Indian Jugglers’ (1825); in The Selected Writings of William Hazlitt, ed. Duncan Wu, 9 vols (London: Pickering & Chatto, 1998), VI, 74.

And this citation is from this wonderful article: Hazlitt’s Prizefight Revisited.

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Thank Goodness no Author would Do THIS!

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

I’m posting this over here since my dyslexia and the captcha over at this post utterly defeated my attempts to comment there.

Go take a look at the comments to this post about tentacle romance over at Heroes and Heartbreakers

Here is the comment I would have posted if I could have:

All I can say is thank goodness authors aren’t the sort to comment on a blog post to flog their own product and then log on several more times pretending to be readers who loved that book. Because that would be a transparently idiotic thing to do. I mean, I’ve heard of that happening– was it at Amazon? I can’t remember, it was some place that sells books, anyway. But that’s all ancient history and authors know by now that almost no one is fooled by that kind of thing because, in this really shocking turn of events, readers are not stupid.

I know! Who knew?

Anyway, good thing no one here did that. Though, I suppose if someone did, we would all know not to buy anything by an author who thinks so little of her audience.

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Writing and Stuff!

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

I’ve been working away on The Next Historical (Lucy and Thrale). I recently deleted nearly 10 pages (to be expected) and I’m now writing a different chapter. I’ve made back about half the word count I lost. I know I shouldn’t obsess over it, but I do. I’m better off with 2000 fewer words than 2000 more words that don’t work.

In other news, when I went running today, I was listening to Jude Devereaux’s RWA workshop. My only complaint? The workshop started with the usual statement about “recording, etc, and always repeat the question.” The moderator even said “I think we all know that…”

Here’s how the first question to Jude Devereaux went:

JD: Any questions? Yes?

Recording: silence
More silence.
More silence.
Some shuffling.
More silence.

JD: Yes.

Most of the questions were nothing but silence, and the answers were not always clear as to context. Very disappointing. It was far, far too close to the end before someone finally got around to urging repetition of the question.

Yeah. There needs to be a big RWA presenter and moderator class where everyone has to listen to this sort of thing on the recording. Lots of moderators and presenters make light of the announcement and request, and way too many moderators and presenters do not remember to repeat the question.

::sigh::

However, it’s still a workshop WELL worth listening to. She’s been in the business a long time and she related a story about how, way back, an editor told her that there was a problem with her book because the hero did not rape anyone. How, this editor asked, was anyone to know that the hero was virile if he didn’t rape anyone? And Ms. Deveraux’s answer to that was that she’d have to find someone else to publish her book because she wasn’t going to have her hero rape anyone. She was after that widely considered a difficult author.

And this, people, is how insidious and pervasive the “rapetastic” hero was. We are all still dealing with the consequences of centuries of believing this was how male virility was defined, and how women were to behave. This idea that Romance authors weren’t being pressured to write heroes who raped is just nuts. I lurk on an Academic list where this subject continually pops up and there’s always this naive belief that writers aren’t pressured to make changes they rather not. It seems like no matter now many authors (and there are a few on the list) say this happened then and happens now, there’s a rather willful refusal to accept that as possible.

When there’s money involved, the people with the money have the power to impose their views, and for that reason, outdated views die a long, slow death in the media. The Jude Devereauxs are few and far between. I don’t know at the time how much market clout she had. Obviously, not enough to avoid having the complaint made, and not enough to avoid being thought of as difficult for refusing. But enough that the book was published without rape.

So, thank you, Jude Devereaux, for saying no, and making the refusal heard.

Worth a listen.

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Interview and Giveaway with Author Sam Wilde

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Today, author Sam Wilde visits my blog and I grill her mercilessly until she agrees to tell us about her book and answer a few questions.

Why Sam Wilde is Awesome

Photo of sam Wilde

Photo of Sam Wilde

Samantha Wilde is the author of I’ll Take What She Has and This Little Mommy Stayed Home (both from Bantam Books). The at-home mother of three young children, she moonlights as a minister and a yoga teacher. She’s the graduate of Smith College and Yale Divinity School and lives in Western Massachusetts.

Find her on the web:
samanthawilde.com
Facebook
Twitter: @whatshehas
Wilde Mama Blog

 

 

About I’ll Take What She Has

Cover of I'll Take What She Has

Cover of I’ll Take What She Has

Best friends since kindergarten, Nora, a reserved English teacher, and Annie, an out-spoken stay-at-home mother, wrestle with the green-eyed monster when the new history department hire at the suburban Boston prep school where they teach, Cynthia Cypress, arrives on campus. A missing grandmother, depressed sex therapist, and a financial crises add to the comedy in a novel about imperfect friendships, mixed up families, messy motherhood, and the quest for the greenest grass.

Carolyn: Every time I see that cover I smile. That baby looks so happy!

Praise for I’ll Take What She Has

Publisher’s Weekly: “With wit, compassion, and a keen ear for dialogue Wilde explores issues of insecurity, envy, young motherhood, and friendship in this fast-paced work.”

RT Top Pick! “Wilde speaks the language of women and communicates what lies in their hearts…a gem of a read.”

Read the first chapter at the Random House website.

Where to Buy I’ll Take What She Has

Sam Answers A Few Questions

What made you want to write this story?

I came up with the title and synopsis on the phone with my mother, novelist Nancy Thayer, during a brainstorming session just as I was getting my book contract. The initial idea, to write about envy and newlyweds, came from her, the title and plot from me. As soon as I sat to write the book, the three main characters, Nora, Annie and Cynthia appeared. And though they are all, in a sense, newlyweds, I really ended up writing about motherhood and friendship. Being led by your characters into a story is one of the pure joys of writing.

Every parent is busy, especially when their children are young. Can you talk about how you balance family and your writing day?

I wrote my first novel during my first son’s nap times. He slept one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon. Through two more children I have, essentially, stuck with that same schedule. Now I work while my older son is at school, my toddler is napping, and my preschooler has quiet time (usually listening to books on tape). That gives me less than an hour most days—which is hardly enough time to look at emails. I work after bed-times as well, though not every night. Some years I have had a babysitter for roughly three hours a week, some years I haven’t. I love being a mother and for right now, as an at-home mother, I stay close to that identity and vocational calling. Working into the corners, edges, and crumbs of time in my day has made me a more efficient writer, a more patient person, and much less attached to my writing career. Writing an awesome scene and hearing someone call out, “Can you wipe my bum?” really puts everything into perspective.

Writing a funny book is hard. Do you think some writers are just naturally funny or is it something that can be learned? Any tips for those of us who are humor impaired in their writing?

I wholeheartedly agree. It’s hard to be funny! And, of course, when you’re funny, no one takes you seriously! I have the hardest time writing humor when I feel down myself. But I love to achieve funny. In the margins of the manuscript of I’ll Take What She Has, I often wrote, “Funny enough?” The best way I know how to get more funny juice (besides drinking it) is reading funny writers, watching funny films, and listening to funny comedians. Good humor always comes off as effortless, kind of like watching a ballerina float across the stage. Well, I studied ballet seriously for years and my toes bled! The word grueling comes to mind. When you know the hard work and effort required, it doesn’t feel so unnatural to have to work a little at it. But can anyone be funny? No. But a writer doesn’t need to be funny. A writer only needs to find her own authentic voice. Mine somehow came out funny.

One day, you’re walking along thinking about your next yoga glass. Suddenly, a time portal opens up right in front of you. Assume the following things are true:

 

  1. you can go anywhere in time you want;
  2. You will return to your family unscathed and not even late for anything;
  3. You can bring something back with you without causing a rupture in the space-time continuum that will destroy us all.
  4. You can’t go back in time to prevent some massive evil because that answer, while probably true, is not not where I’m going with this.

Answer the following:  What time period do you choose and why and what object do you bring back and why?

photograph of Sam Wilde's Great Grandmother

Great Grandmother

That’s an awesome question! I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that. It also makes me want to brush up on my history. It’s been so long since I thought clearly; the deficits of mama-brain could potentially lead me to say something like: “I would go to the time of the Egyptians and return with a printing press.” Can I come back with a person? I would probably head out to the turn of the last century, the year 1900, because that’s the time period I studied while an English major at Smith. The changes, excitement and innovation of that time, the cusp of modernity fascinate me. Also, the clothes. Oh, such beautiful clothes. I really do live in the wrong time for fashion. I am the only person I know who doesn’t own a pair of jeans. I would return with (can I have more than one?) hats! Hats and more hats! All those gorgeous, fanciful, elegant, expressive hats. I can’t wait for hats to come back into fashion somewhere other than in my children’s playroom where they always boss me around saying, “Mama, that’s my dress up box.”

What do you hope readers will like best about reading your book?

I hope they will laugh! I hope they will laugh out loud. That’s always my favorite compliment: I never laugh out loud at books and I did when I read yours. In the end, for me, that big laughter is about recognition, a truth being seen, so in laugher, I think so much happens: levity, joy, relief, touch of freedom and healing and a sense that you are not alone.

Any surprises while you were working on the book? Characters who did unexpected things? Did anything make you laugh out loud/cackle evilly while you were writing? If so, what was it?

I rewrote that book so many times over so many years for so many editors that when it finally came time to write a brief description of the book for my publicist, I really didn’t know what the things was about! What surprised me was the adaptability of my characters. The two main ones, Annie and Nora, survived so many editorial changes and remained, at heart, nearly the same. I feel close to them and proud of them. I cheer for them now that the book is out in the world, almost as if I had nothing to do with their story. But then writers are allowed to be weird like that, aren’t they, thinking about their characters as if they were real?

What’s next for you?

In my house, we really take it one day at a time! My husband has such a hard time with planning ahead that he often leaves arranging airline tickets for major business travel to the last minute! This can make some things in life hard, on the other hand, it’s a blessing to find anything encouraging you to stay more in the present moment. I have a third novel that I love nearly done. How happy I would be to have it out there! In the meantime, someone has to clean my house (much neglected with all the publicity I’ve been doing), potty train my toddler, enroll my daughter in gymnastics, teach my son the proper way to print a letter “d” and eat the cake in my refrigerator. I volunteer!

Giveaway!

I’m giving a $20.00 iTunes gift card to one winner. Read the rules!

Rules: Must be 18 to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. You must be able to receive the gift card via email. My relatives are not eligible to enter.

Contest closes at 11:59:59 PM PST Saturday March 09, 2013.

To enter, complete the following sentence: This morning, I tossed ……………

Go!

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Ms. McGrump Has a Brilliant Idea

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
needles_20081210_2

Prickly? Photo by Yours Truly.

This has been a week of short sleep and too much caffeine. Probably that’s why I’m grumpy. Anyhoo. I just had the world’s most brilliant idea.

If you’re an author and you have yourself worked up about reviews at places like Amazon and Goodreads, I have an utterly brilliant suggestion.

Start your own review website.

I know, right?

Here’s the rules:

1. Posters must provide proof of purchase before posting a review.

2. Posters must also sign an affidavit affirmatively stating that he/she is a true fan of the type of book she/he is reviewing.

3. Reviews must be a minimum of 250 words.

4. Reviews cannot be mean, disrespectful, or otherwise likely to upset the author.

5. The lowest possible rating is 4 stars. The highest is 5.

6. All reviews are sent to the author for editing and approval BEFORE it posts.

I’m sure readers will find such a site really informs their future buying decisions.

I am a genius.

A Kickstarter campaign to get this off the ground is in order.

I doubt I missed anything but if I did, please let me know in the comments.

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Interview with Debut Author Hanna Martine – Plus Giveaway!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Welcome Hanna Martine!

Photo of Author Hanna Martine wearing a black sweaterThank you for coming to my blog to tell us about your book and answer some questions! I LOVE that cover. LOVE IT. And it sounds really interesting. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Hannah will be doing a giveaway, of three (3!) books, so don’t forget to check out the contest and rules and then enter for your chance to win. Also, Hanna, I forgot to mention that I have a niece with one of your names. Did you know you spell your name wrong? She wants to have purple hair. I notice your hair is not purple. Huh. Fashion hints are free here, by the way.

About Hanna

Hanna Martine’s only goal growing up was to become a writer, specifically a fantasy writer. That dream stuck until she realized that most speculative fiction novels faded to black during the best parts or skipped over love stories altogether. When she discovered paranormal romance and urban fantasy, she found the genre of her heart. After the arrival of her daughter, she couldn’t think of a better lesson to teach the little one than: Have a dream. Go after it. Be fulfilled. So she set aside all thoughts of returning to the business world and focused on writing and learning about the industry. She finished two novels before coming up with the idea for the world of The Elementals. She joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA), placed in numerous contests, and found an agent and editor who believed in her unique stories. She loves writing about secret worlds, magic, and the intense emotional and physical relationships that exist within them.

About the book

Magic is Corporate America’s best-kept secret

Gwen possesses the unique ability to pick up any language in an instant—a power that will globally expand the profitable family business. As dutiful future leader of her race of water elementals, she’ll do anything to protect her people’s secrets and bloodlines—including enter an arranged marriage. Inside, however, she yearns for forbidden human men.

Reed is a mercenary addicted to the money and adrenaline rush of his work. After he inadvertently saves Gwen’s life, he ignites her taboo desire for men without magic—and with bodies of gods. Just as things heat up, Reed discovers that Gwen is exactly who he’s been hired to kidnap. He resolves to put work before lust, yet her luscious beauty and fiery spirit unravel him…

But there is a terrible truth behind Gwen’s family business—and now, caught between the kinsmen she no longer trusts and an enemy bent on vengeance, the only ally she has is her abductor…

Buy the Book


Read an Exceprt

The Interview!


1. So. “Elementals” What that heck are those? Is there anyone named Watson in the book? Does anyone say “It’s elemental, my dear Watson?” (If you want to use that phrase in your next book, feel free! You’re welcome.)

Ruin my hook for book 2, why don’t you!

The series circles around different races who control the “classic” elements– earth, air, fire, water–and who live outside human awareness in modern-day America. Liquid Lies focuses on the Ofarians, the water elementals.

2. What kind of sick, twisted mind thinks up people selling magic to corporate America? Or did you not make that up? To your knowledge, is that actually happening? Because I think this would explain some irregularities in my power bill. Is this an idea that came to you all at once in the shower or did it develop slowly over time? Or did you just take really good notes from your whistleblower friend?

It totally could happen, couldn’t it? The sick, twisted mind who thought this up survived ten years working with corporate types. When I was writing this book, I knew I wanted to use elemental magic, but I needed a new twist. With phrases like “mission statements,” “break-even,” and “synergy” stamped in my mind, I went with the corporate angle. The story also came about during all that Bernie Madoff craziness, which got me thinking about greed and power, and how it shapes a person (or group of people) over time.

3. I love “the call” stories. Will you tell us about selling your debut novel?

It happened so incredibly fast, I barely remember the details. In my head, three furious, nausea-inducing days have melded into a blur. I signed with my agent (whom I met through an auction when I bid on and won a lunch with her), and she somehow managed to get me a two-book deal barely two days later, right in the middle of BEA 2011. I may have hyperventilated when she called to tell me the news, I don’t recall. And I’m sure my timeline is off as I describe it here; I was a basket case for days. I do remember a really fine bottle of champagne being opened, however.

4. If you were in charge of casting the movie of your book, who do you call in for a screen test?

If Jason Statham could magically grow five inches and put on forty pounds of muscle and lose the accent, he could be Reed. Though she’s a little young, Blake Lively might work for Gwen. She did gritty and angry really well in The Town.

Another tidbit about Gwen: when I first saw the cover of Liquid Lies, I started crying because the model is exactly how I pictured her. I was choking and sobbing because she (and the whole cover, really) was so perfect. My husband jumped off the couch and rushed to me in worry, asking me who’d died. True story.

5. Got any cute pet pictures?

Why, of course. Mackenzie the Bernese Mountain Dog wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Dude. Awesome Hat.

6. Drop some hints about book two.

One, it’s allllll about sex, by nature of the hero and his tragic past. Two, it has my most favorite (and by that I mean the most twisted) character I’ve ever written (who also gave me the most trouble). And three, you will never look at city buses in the same way again.

7. Do you listen to music when you write? What kind? Now look to your left and tell us what you see
.

I’m one of those people who can’t write to music, but I love writing in a super noisy bar or coffee house. One voice is distracting; lots all at once are the best white noise ever. If I do have to drown out the world, I listen to wordless electronica: Explosions in the Sky, Boards of Canada, that kind of thing.

Looking to my left … over the giant, furry dog hangs a board made of wine corks I pieced together myself. I used to remember for what occasion I drank all those bottles, but hell if I know now. Tacked on it are magazine photos of things I will never buy, a timeline for book 2, my first business card, and drawings from my kid that say “For Mom” in that wonderful, shaky writing.

8. What’s next for you?

Book 2, A Taste of Ice, is currently snuggling with my editor and awaiting release on December 31, 2012. Also fighting for the sheets is a novella in the Elementals world, to be included in a Berkley Sensation anthology, Unbound, with Angela Knight, Jennifer Ashley and Jean Johnson. I’m working on a hot bonus scene between Gwen and Reed to be released to my newsletter subscribers, and another extra (hopefully) to be released around the time of A Taste of Ice. Between those, more book proposals!

Contest

Hanna: To one winner I’m giving away three great books, all releasing July 3: my own LIQUID LIES, Roni Loren’s MELT INTO YOU (format of your choice), and Britt Bury’s THE DARKEST DAY (ebook only). Good luck and happy reading! I hope you discover a new author to love.

Rules

Void where prohibited. Must be 18 or older to enter. US residents only. No purchase necessary. Winner will be chosen via Random.org on or about Saturday July 7, 2012. You must comment by Midnight Pacific Friday July 6, 2012.

To Enter

To enter leave a comment in which you caption the photograph of Mackenzie the Bernese Mountain Dog. As you can see, I have myself added a caption. Go.

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Brenda Novak at the Riskies

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

The fabulous Brenda Novak is at the Riskies with an amazing blog about her writing journey, self-publishing backlist and titles that didn’t sold. There’s a book giveaway, too. DON’T MISS IT!!

Go read about Brenda and all that she does at the Riskies

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This Makes Me Feel Cheated and Sad: Semi-Rant

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

I recently blogged about Heat, a self-pubbed book that worked for me. (It won’t work for everyone, by the way.) In fact, that book worked so well for me that I went out and bought several other books by the author: R.L.Smith/R.Lee Smith (more on that later). As noted in that post, one of the books was a DNF for me.

One of the others, Care and Feeding of a Griffin, was a major win. Major. The book is wonderful and flirted with brilliance. I’ve now just about finished the 4th and last in the series and I feel sad and cheated. Book 2 was … rough, and that’s being kind. Then the beginning of Book 3? For a while, it was just as wonderful as Book 1 and I was so happy; giddy even. Then it crashed and burned. Book 4? Not good.

Dear Author reviewed a different book by this author and I’m going to try that one, because it worked for that reviewer and since Heat worked for her, too, I suspect this other one will work for me.

Why I Feel Sad and Cheated

Heat and Care and Feeding prove this author can write. She can take risks and make them work. She can write characters that just pop off the page. When she’s on her game, her use of detail is sublime. But, it seems, she can’t do it consistently. And, having now read a fair amount of her work (assuming gender here) I can see what themes she likes and what writing issues are a problem for her.

I am sad because when a talented writer works with the right editor, the result is a far, far better book. The right editor challenges a writer to confront weaknesses and to turn good into great, and great into brilliant.

I am sad because I wanted to live in the world of Care and Feeding for more books. I feel cheated of what ought to have been and I am especially sad (and cheated) that Book 3 started out so brilliantly and then crashed and burned. I mourn for all those lovely, exquisite details that were wasted or never brought out.

Lords Of Arcadia Series

I highly recommend Care and Feeding. Read it. It will be worth it even with the abrupt ending. But I can’t in good conscience recommend the other three.

The main character continues to be a Mary Sue. In fact, parts of Book 3 offended me. The white human visits new and hostile species and each and every time, she is so relentlessly perfect that Low! The new and hostile species stops raping human women or the women of their own species or whatever wrong thing they’re doing. All because, practically literally, the heroine has a magic hoo-haw. If a creature has sex with her, that creature is transformed from ignorant brute to noble beast.

No matter how monumentally stupid the heroine’s decisions, she prevails and it’s magically the right thing to have done after all — because she’ll have cured the creatures of whatever was wrong with them before she got on the scene. She can do no wrong. I started to hate her. I could predict what would happen and how it would happen.

Plot threads start and then vanish. There are continuity errors. (The griffin is there for the wedding and then never mentioned again. Many many pages later, there’s a mention of the griffin NOT being at the wedding.) She’s preggers for nearly two years, then it’s only been nine months and she’s ready to pop, then later yet someone says, oh, you’re 10 months along, and you have 5 to go. Then later she’s 15 months with three more to go. It’s confusing as hell. As with her other books, time and events pass with unbelievable slowness. In these books it’s like 1 manuscript day = 7-10 days in a book that follows a normal events-to-day ratio. I’d be absolutely convinced several days had to have passed only to discover that, no, it’s only been one day. WTF?

Some Other Thoughts

In hindsight, there are clues to my eventual disappointment with the series. All the covers are awful. The formatting is often sub-par. There are typos and other errors that would be caught by a copy-editor and a proofreader. The author is inconsistent about her own name. Is she R. L. Smith, R. Lee Smith or Robin Smith? The names matter because it makes her hard to find on Amazon. A little research on my part left me with the strong suspicion that Smith has or does write under at least two other names. Obviously, Smith is prolific and has been writing for a long time. At some point, I’ll check out those other writings because when she’s good, she’s really, really good.

All these things combined point to someone who lacks the necessary attention to detail for an author who wants to self-publish and not outsource. The alternative is she’s outsourcing and doesn’t understand she’s being cheated. The consistently good writers know why they need to pay for a good cover and they can tell the difference between a flat out bad cover and one that is even minimally acceptable. And they care about it. They know why editing, copy-editing and proofreading matter. Given the accumulation of all these issues, ultimately, I’m not surprised by the lack of attention to detail in the writing of Books 2-4. But it makes me sad.

I’ve been cheated. We’ve all been cheated out of what should have been an amazing, sexy and wonderful series as good or better than anything being traditionally published.

R.L. Smith, please, please hire an editor and then give us your best, because your best is wonderful.

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I have a Girl Crush on Nora Roberts

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Every time I hear Nora Roberts speak or read about something she’s done or said, I come away impressed.

Here’s a great interview with her at The Guardian. You should go read it if you haven’t.

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Writer Pr0n

Monday, November 7th, 2011

This past weekend, historical romance author Joanna Bourne was in my part of the country. She drove nearly 2 hours to meet up with me and historical romance author Isobel Carr who lives about an hour from me so that we could have High Tea at the amazing Patisserie Angelica about 30 or so minutes north of me. I brought along my copy of History of Brooks’s because I knew I was in the company of people who would find a list of the members of Brooks’s fun to flip through.

We had wonderful food and great company and we talked all about books and writing and having stories in your head and we just had the greatest time. I’m so glad they both drove up here. The food was great, too. and really, just lovely.

Sigh.

 

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