Monday, January 31, 2011

"Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a..."

On the original Star Trek series, it seemed as though poor Dr. McCoy spouted a variation of that line almost every episode when Captain Kirk would ask him to do something outside his comfort zone.

As writers struggling to make our mark in today’s world, it often feels like that line was written just for us, doesn’t it? We’re expected to take on more and more responsibilities that have nothing to do with crafting our stories, and we’re supposed to do everything well.
Here are a few lines I’ve muttered about myself in the past couple of months. Which ones do you find yourself saying? What others can you add to the list?


Dammit, I’m a writer, not a WEB PAGE DESIGNER.

While I appreciate that my publisher is generous enough to offer a class on what my website should/should not include, doing the actual work is time-consuming and frustrating, because I have no clue what I’m doing.


Dammit, I’m a writer, not a MARKETING GENIUS

I understand the importance of author branding, I really do, but I also know that it eats up creative energy I’d rather use for actual writing. Plus, I really can’t embrace the idea of pigeonholing myself, no matter how imperative everyone seems to think it is.


Dammit, I’m a writer, not a PUBLIC RELATIONS EXPERT

My job is to write my next book, but I have to do it around writing blog posts, tweeting (follow me @JB_Lynn -- don’t forget the underscore) posting on message boards, commenting on blogs, etc. I know it’s probably a sacrilege to social networkers, but I’m not on FACEBOOK. Why? Because EVERYONE is always talking about how much they HATE Facebook because it’s a giant time suck.


I understand that writers no longer have the luxury of “just” writing books, but sometimes I wish I could do just that.

What about you? How do you feel about the new jobs a writer has to take on?

Speaking of new jobs, my copy edits will arrive this week. I’ll let you know what it’s like working through them in next Monday’s post. Also, tomorrow YA author Lindsay N. Currie talks about what it’s like writing with a partner. Be sure not to miss it!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Excerpt Friday

Since Joann is taking some time off, I’ll be filling in on Fridays. Since I can’t be witty two days out of the week, I decided to post an excerpt from my latest release, UNCROSS MY HEART. [As previously promised.]



    Splinters of wood and glass rained down on the courtyard, followed by a choking cloud of dust. Zoe lay stunned, frozen in place by utter shock as well as the taut-muscled body of the man who had just saved her life.
    Her skirt had bunched up around her waist, and her bare legs tangled with his. One of her shoes was missing, and apparently the only thing that had kept her skull from colliding with the ground was his hand, which cradled her head.
    His face hovered barely a millimeter above hers, and his bottomless brown eyes held a mixture of emotions she would have expected from someone whose house had just blown up.
Another blast rocked the ground before they could even draw in a breath, and his arms tightened convulsively around her.
    Flames lit the twilight, and black smoke billowed up from the ravaged bottom floor of the three-story house. Panicked voices reached them, shouts of the startled neighbors, perhaps. Then came the distant wail of sirens.
    Zoe wanted to scream, but her lungs didn’t seem to work. Instead she gaped at him, no doubt looking like a fish out of water.
    “Are you hurt?”
    Her jaw worked reflexively, but nothing coherent came out.
    “Are you hurt? Is anything broken?”
    Perhaps it was the brief eddy of cool air that momentarily blew away the settling smoke, or maybe it was his hands roaming over her body from thighs to shoulders, prodding and squeezing parts that certainly didn’t need to be prodded or squeezed.
    “Get off me!” The three words escaped in a rush as she shoved her palms against his chest. “I’m okay.”
    He had her on her feet before the last syllable left her lips. Nearly pulling her arm from its socket, he dragged her toward the cedar plank gate at the back of the small, neatly manicured yard. “We have to move before anyone knows we were here. It won’t keep Lambert satisfied for long, but if he thinks I died in the explosion, even for an hour, I can use that time to my advantage.”
    “Right…” Why that seemed so logical, Zoe couldn’t say, but she followed him, half limping, half tripping along in one shoe, through the gate to an alley behind the debris-strewn back yard.
    Dumpsters and garbage cans lined the alley, along with pieces of house. Behind them, the flames leapt higher, and the sirens grew closer, lending a displaced sense of urgency to their flight.
    The alley disgorged onto
Miller Street
, and they ran its oak-lined length to the intersection of MacKenzie, where the street lights had just flickered on.
    Breathless, Zoe tried to slip her fingers from his grip, but he wouldn’t let her go. She tried to pant out a question, hoping to slow him down a little. “How did…how…did you know the…the…”
    “Apparently, hearing is the last vampire sense to go,” he replied between deep, labored breaths of his own. At least he had the decency to look as tired as she felt. “I heard the detonator of the explosive engage. It was on a five-second timer, apparently set to give me time to come through the door and get farther into the house. I suspect every above-ground entrance was rigged the same way and probably linked in serial to blow once one of the others had been triggered.”
    “Are you with the mob?”
    His laugh was a breathless bark. “No. We went over this. I’m a vampire. Was a vampire, until two hours ago.”
    “Right… Now what?”
    He loosened his grip on her hand for a split second, and Zoe yanked her arm back. She didn’t have the energy to run, nor would she have known which way to go, so she merely stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and gasped in cleansing breaths.
    “We need to get off the street,” he said, his tone wary.
    “I need to get off my feet. I think I popped a lung back there.”
    His dark gaze fell to the vicinity of her lungs, as if he could validate her claim by simply looking, then flicked away again before she had a chance to protest.
    “There’s a cab. Get in it and go home. Forget any of this happened.” Even as he spoke, he turned and raised his hand to signal the cab.
    Zoe’s jaw dropped. The back of his jacket was tattered and scorched in some areas, and ribbons of his white dress shirt shown through, some edged with smears of dark red. “You’re hurt.”
    “I’ll heal…eventually.” He dismissed her with a wave when the cab pulled up, then opened the door and tossed some wadded bills to the driver.
    “Where will you go?” she asked.
    “This should get the lady home,” he said to the driver, then turned to her. “Stay away from your shop for a day or two also, in case they come back asking questions.”
    Zoe grabbed his wrist. “Wait! Come with me. You need to get off the street too, and you need some medical attention.”
    “No.”
    “Come on. I know first aid. Come to my place, and I’ll see what I can do. I owe you, I guess. I’d be dead if you hadn’t…” Zoe transferred her gaze from her dark-eyed companion to the cabbie and back again. “Come home with me.”
    He hesitated just long enough to draw an impatient sound from the driver, then he climbed into the cab.


    The glow of streetlights and passing traffic illuminated her dirt-smudged face to varying degrees as the cab glided through the Inner Harbor area. She held her chin high and chewed pensively at her lower lip, scanning the streets from beneath long, dark lashes.
    Her golden hair and clear, wide-set eyes made her pretty in an uncomplicated way. Fresh, despite the grime and soot. A morsel.
    His vampire instincts kicked in, guiltily squashing the dangerous thought that the longer he remained in her company, the more danger she would be in from Lambert.
    It shouldn’t have mattered to him. She was the type of woman—girl, rather—he used and discarded. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-two, judging from the creamy skin and lack of wrinkles around her eyes and mouth.
    Young blood. Supple body. But she possessed a strength that surprised him. With a low growl, he tore his gaze away from her and concentrated on the route the cabbie had chosen. The expensive town houses of his trendy neighborhood fell away, replaced by the middle class homes, capes and ranches, then converted cottages and bungalows of the lower income section of town. Here, the cab stopped before a two-story brownstone sandwiched between an oriental tea shop and what appeared to be a flop house.
    Julian raised a brow. “Here?”
    Her challenging look amused him. “Take it or leave it, pal.”
    What choice did he have? “It’s charming. Keep the change.” He dismissed the driver as they climbed out, and the cab trundled away, belching exhaust—something it would not have dared do in the tonier section of town, but here it seemed to fit.
    “I’m on the second floor.” She led him through an awning-covered screen door and up a narrow flight of stairs covered in a substance that might have been carpet or a spongy bed of moss. Julian couldn’t be sure which. The place smelled like pierogi and beef stew, and Julian’s stomach clenched at the memory of home-cooked meals. How long had it been since he’d fed? Barely a day—but he hadn’t eaten in over a century.
    His head swam, and he gripped the time-worn banister until his knuckles went white.
Her voice floated down from above him while he struggled to remain upright. “Don’t look, okay? I have to get my spare key.”
    Look? He could barely keep his eyes open. “Fine.” Nevertheless, he stole a glance as she reached above the frame of the door at the top of the stairs and retrieved her “hidden” key.
This girl had “victim” written all over her. If Lambert’s men caught them together, discovered she was helping him—helping him!—they’d tear her into pretty, multicolored ribbons.
He shouldn’t have cared.
    “Wait.” Once he regained his equilibrium, he held up a hand as she reached for the tarnished door knob.    “Let me.”
    “Paranoid much? The vampires don’t know me.” Even as she complained, though, she stepped back and allowed him to open the door.
    “They can trace you from the store, if they’re so inclined. Don’t underestimate Lambert’s people. I trained most of them myself.”
    “Trained them to do what?”
    He held her gaze for a heartbeat. “You don’t want to know.”
    It disturbed him how quickly the momentary apprehension faded from her luminous eyes. “Zoe,” she said, offering her hand. “Just in case you were wondering. I’m Zoe Boyd.”
    Julian didn’t touch her. Instead he pushed open the door of her apartment, straining his muddled senses for any sign that his enemies had somehow anticipated their next move.
    Nothing seemed unusual, but nevertheless, not trusting his humanness, he edged over the threshold into the dark room beyond. The place smelled like her—vanilla and cinnamon with a trace of…something he should have been able to identify. Tea rose, perhaps?
    Before he could get his bearings, warm light flooded the room. Julian blinked at the hodge-podge of second-hand furniture. “Does it always look like this?”
    Her response was a blank stare. Gossamer scarves in shades of orange, purple and pink draped a trio of small lamps set on low tables around the room. The beige couch sported dozens of pillows, some covered in faux fur in nauseatingly unnatural colors. Bright, abstract paintings competed for dominance on the walls and a collection of quartz crystals glittered on a shelf above an ancient-looking recliner.
Garish. A witch’s whorehouse.
    “Make yourself at home,” she said with a faintly sarcastic lilt.
    Never. Not if he lived for a thousand years could he make himself at home in this psychedelic nightmare. Resigned to suffer at the moment, though, he sat on the edge of the couch, careful not to touch a fringed bolster that sported candy stripes of pink and acid green.
    “I’ll get my first aid kit.” She closed the front door and swirled across the room through another doorway that probably led to a bedroom.
    Julian couldn’t imagine what that might look like, though judging from the living room décor, he’d have guessed early neon migraine.
    In an effort to keep his mind off the disturbing color scheme, he scanned the room with a professional eye. Two windows behind the couch opened onto a wrought-iron fire escape, and another door in the right hand wall probably led to a kitchen.
    His stomach begged him to investigate, and he would have, but she returned then with a round wicker basket full of bottles and bandages and swabs. He wished it wasn’t necessary. He hadn’t needed to tend a wound in over a hundred years, but he still recalled the sharp smell of antiseptic and the relentless sting of disinfectant on raw flesh.
    She moved to the low table that sat before the couch and set the basket down. “Don’t you think it’s time you told me your name?”
    He could have lied. Probably should have, but a weariness he’d hoped to never feel again had begun to settle over him. It wouldn’t matter anyway, if she knew his name. She’d die just the same when Lambert’s men caught up to her.
    “Devlin. My name is Julian Devlin.”
    A flicker of recognition lit her eyes. “I think I’ve heard of you. Don’t you have an import business or something?”
    “Or something.”
    “Well, Julian. Let’s get started. Take off your shirt.”


For more information about UNCROSS MY HEART visit Samhain Publishing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Interview and book giveaway with Angela Henry

We're pleased to welcome Angela Henry to Killer Chicks!

Angela allowed me to interrogate her about her romantic suspense novel THE PARIS SECRET.



PLUS, she's been kind enough to offer a copy of her romantic suspense novel to one of our lucky readers. Make sure to leave a comment on this post before 11:59 pm (EST) on Tuesday 2/1/11. The winner will be announced on Thursday, February 3rd, 2011.



JB: First, the all-important question: If you had to choose between them, would you pick cheese or chocolate?

AH: Oh, you are an evil woman! LOL Okay, if I had to choose, I’d choose chocolate…no cheese…no chocolate! Ack! I need more time to think!


JB: Tell us about The Paris Secret and how you came to set it in Paris.

AH: The Paris Secret is my first romantic suspense thriller about a librarian whose Paris vacation is turned upside down. She ends up framed for murder and on the run with a French journalist and together they must find a priceless book hidden centuries ago by a French queen’s secret daughter. I was inspired to write it after I took a solo trip to Paris in 2007. While I was touring the Palace of Versailles, I heard some 300 year-old gossip from a tour guide about a French queen who’d given birth at the palace to a child fathered by her African lover. All I could think was: Is this story true and if so, what happened to the baby? The story took off from there.


JB:How long have you been a suspense writer?

AH: I’ve been writing mystery/suspense for about 17 years. I started the first book in my Kendra Clayton mystery series in 1994. It took me four years to write and another six to get a contract for it. Since then I’ve written five Kendra Clayton mysteries, four of which are published.


JB: Do you work with an outline or do you fly be the seat of your pants?

I’m a total plotter. I usually write a detailed plot outline before I start writing. In the end, I usually stick to about 75 – 80% of the outline


Fill in the blanks:

In order to write, I need:
my iMac and nothing else.

The last three books I read were: Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, and Dream’s Dark Kiss by Shirin Dubbin.

People might be surprised to find out I’m: an anime addict.

I collect…uh…clutter ; ) .

The best writing advice I've received is: to just get the story down on paper and stop worrying about it being perfect the first time since you’ll have to revise it anyway.

I wish I could tell my younger self: not to worry about that comment you overheard from a high school classmate about how sorry they felt for you because you must not have anything else to do but read. It all pays off for you in the end : ).

THE PARIS SECRET by Angela Henry available from
Download hot ebooks from Carina Press




Less than twenty-four hours after fleeing to Paris, Maya Sinclair is the prime suspect in a brutal murder—and targeted by the real killer. When she's viciously attacked in the gardens of Versailles, Maya barely escapes with her life thanks to sexy French journalist Simon Girard.

Simon has been investigating the mysterious death of his brother, an art forger with ties to the woman Maya is suspected of killing. Still healing from heartbreak of his own, Simon reluctantly joins forces with Maya, who has awakened feelings within him he thought long dead.

Their search for answers uncovers the existence of a secret society, and puts them on a quest to find a missing crucifix rumored to hold the key to everlasting life. Together, Maya and Simon race through Paris one step ahead of a killer who will do anything to ensure some secrets remain buried forever...





Don't forget to leave a comment to be eligible to win THE PARIS SECRET.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Writer's Workout

After reading Peggy Blair’s inspirational story about her journey to publication yesterday, all I could think about was how the most important thing we writer’s need is perseverance. It takes a lot of stamina to keep at this business when the chips are down and if we hold on long enough, we’ll get where we want to go.

That in mind, I figured since writers tend to spend most of our time BIC [Butt In Chair] it would be a good idea to talk about some exercises we can do to stay in shape and build up that much needed stamina while we’re working.

I’ve listed a couple of my favorites here:

  1. The Caffeine Crunch – best done early in the day, this exercise involves a short, brisk walk to the kitchen followed by pouring and lifting a mug or glass of your favorite caffeinated beverage. Three to five reps should keep you on your toes and your brain in good working order for a rough day of writing.

  1. The Index Flex – this builds up the muscles in your index finger, so important for maintaining speed and efficiency of the ‘point and click.’ You need to be ready at a moment’s notice to hit SAVE, or to open those all important e-mails from your editor or agent. Make sure your index finger rests firmly on the left mouse button and press and release. Start slow with a thousand reps a day, increase as needed to several hundred thousand for those days when you need to obsessively check your e-mail for responses to submissions.

  1. The Snoopy Dance – excellent cardio workout – use this for submission acceptances, multi-book deals, royalty checks of more than two digits, five-star reviews or finding files you thought you accidentally erased. Start by removing butt from chair, stick your nose in the air, flap your arms and River Dance until you collapse.

  1. The Head/Desk – [for experienced writers only] – This is an advanced exercise that should only be undertaken when you’ve mastered the others. It helps to build up a good strong callous on the forehead. Start by clearing a space on your desk [don’t use your keyboard!]. Center your head above the empty space and then, let it drop. The satisfying thud and minor shock to your skull should provide momentary relief from the agony of a rejection or edits that make your brain explode.
Practice these exercises several times a week, and you’ll be ready for all the ups and downs of the writing life.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cover Art Anxiety

I am not a visual person. I get lost driving to a place I’ve driven to hundreds of times over the past twenty years. I can’t figure out which way the paper towels are supposed to go on the holder. I couldn’t draw a circle or a straight line if my life depended on it.

I don’t go through life “seeing” what’s around me….I “feel” it.

So imagine my abject terror when I received an “art fact sheet” from the wonderful folks at
Download hot ebooks from Carina Press
who will be responsible for creating the cover art for THE FIRST VICTIM.

I had to read my own book just to come up with the answers to some of their questions. (Yes, I’m well aware of just how pathetic I am.) Ask me how one of my characters would react in any given situation and I could tell you without hesitation, but ask me to describe what they look like and I break out into a cold sweat.

I could tell you what I DON’T want on my cover – pink, polka dots or puppies, but I’m afraid I couldn’t offer much guidance to the artist as to what I WOULD like.

What about you? Could you describe your characters in detail? Do you dream of what your book cover will one day look like? Do you dread the idea of putting that part of your work in someone else’s hands?

I, for one, am excited to see what magic the artist works, because I have no preconceived ideas of what my cover “should” look like.

Are there any book covers you absolutely love? Have you ever refused to read a book because of its cover?

Make sure you come back tomorrow to read a special guest post by Peggy Blair. Her story about how her manuscript was rejected over 150 times before she landed a two-book deal from Penguin is sure to be an inspiration.

And on Thursday, Angela Henry lets me interrogate her about her romantic suspense novel THE PARIS SECRET published by


Download hot ebooks from Carina Press

Friday, January 21, 2011

Are You An Exhibitionist?


I mean, not in the traditional sense of the word. I would never ask you that, friends! Okay, I would, but that’s another post for another time.

I’m talking about writing (of course) and sharing your stories with others before they’re as polished as can be.

I’ve read a lot of pros and cons about alpha readers and beta readers and critique partners. I think it’s fabulous when a writer can hand their work off – in whatever shape it’s in – and get the feedback they seek. I wish I could do that, but I haven't been able to so far. I’ve been fretting over my newest wip since May, seriously editing and polishing for the last couple of months, and no one but me has read a single word. Why? Because I can’t seem to share my work with anyone until it’s as far as I can possibly take it.

It’s only when I’m convinced that I’ve either 1) done my absolute best or 2) wrecked it beyond repair can I hand it over to Hubby or post a snippet on Dark, Dark or, in the case of TIN LILY, post a chapter to the AW forums.

This is also true at the earliest stages of my process. MIDNIGHT was the exception in that I wanted to write the story so badly, but had no idea how to bring all the ideas together into a coherent narrative. I was so paralyzed by the bigness of it that I talked it over with Hubby out of pure desperation. He gave me loads of ideas to sharpen the good bits and rolled his eyes at the trite, cliché bits (exactly what I needed). Talking through the idea and getting the feedback I needed helped me launch into the story wholeheartedly and it’s coming together into a Real Book, one I’m quite proud of (good grief, I hope that feeling lasts).

Because this exercise was so helpful, I’ve toyed with the idea of looking for a critique partner or asking someone besides Hubby to beta read my stuff, but I shy away from it every single time, not because of the horror stories (though I’ve heard plenty) and not because I’m worried about someone stealing my ideas (please, they’re just not that original), but because I am an overprotective mama to my little baby books.

Perhaps it’s a personality thing. I’ve always been a loner and maybe keeping my projects close to me until they’re sparkly is another manifestation of my preference for solitude. I dunno. 

Do you work with betas/alphas/CPs and, if so, how’s that going? What kinds of issues do your readers point out that perhaps you would not have seen yourself? And at what point in your process are you willing to hand over your manuscript?

p.s. I’m having surgery on my banged up knee next week and taking the next two Fridays off at Killer Chicks. I do hope to still comment and participate as I’m healing up, but if I don’t see you until the 11th, have a great couple of weeks!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Other Me

As you might know from my bio, I’m really two people…well, okay, that sounds weird. I’m one person, but I have two personas. I wear two writing hats [to borrow from JB’s Monday post.]

Most of the time I’m Jennifer Colgan, mild-mannered romance author. My stories run toward sensual paranormal and somewhat speculative science fiction romance.

But sometimes, I let my alter ego out to play. Her name is Bernadette Gardner and she’s the take no prisoners Killer Chick. Bernadette’s stories are edgier, a little naughtier. She’s the me I don’t let out all the time because frankly, she scares me a bit.

People ask me why I write under two names and that’s a complicated story. Originally I was only going to have one name, a pen name, but once I sold my first full-length novel Conjured in Flames, and I found out it would be available in print, I realized I really wanted my own name on the book, so I scraped the pen name for that project. I decided to split my work up into two categories after that – the hotter stuff was all Bernadette’s and the cooler stuff was Jennifer’s.

It’s been a bit of a rough ride having two names, twice the promo at times, twice the website upkeep and twice the wondering what direction to be going in at any given time. I often wonder if I haven’t branded myself as the ‘split personality’ writer – and whether or not having ‘Two Voices’ works as a marketing tool.

For those of you who have alter egos, why did you choose that route and would you do it again? Do you think it helps to write under more than one name or not? As a reader, do you follow any authors who write under multiple names and does it matter to you what name they write under? Were you surprised to discover two writers were the same person?

Bernadette’s latest book is available today at Liquid Silver – stop over and check out ICARUS UNBOUND, the sequel to ICARUS RISING.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Writer's Hats

The other day as I was sifting through my box of hats (trying to find my purple tweed cap) it occurred to me that we, as writers, wear a lot of hats.


Off the top of my head (go ahead, groan) here’s a list I came up with.


CREATIVE THINKER CAP – This is what I wear when brainstorming. Inspired ideas, clever turns of phrase, and unexpected plot twists can be discovered while wearing this. Unfortunately it often works best while I’m in the shower, so it appears a bit bedraggled.


PROJECT MANAGER HARD HAT (aka the Plotter) – I draw up the blueprint for my story before I ever begin working on it. My project manager makes sure that the structure I build is sound. My writing has many faults, but I’ve never had anyone tell me that my plotting is weak.


FACT FINDING FEDORA -- When I’m writing, I often toss my fedora in a dusty corner. I’ll make notes about things I need to research, but I don’t do the actual work until a draft is done. Others do as much research as they can before they ever write the first page. Still others do it as they go along. Which method do you prefer?


CRASH HELMET – Safe writing is boring writing. Sometimes you just need to channel your inner-daredevil and take some risks.


NEWSBOY CAP – When it’s time to edit and revise I pull on my newsboy cap and pull out my red pen.


COWBOY HAT – When it’s time to start marketing what you’ve written, a cowboy hat can come in handy. It can add some swagger to your step, showing the world you’re confident in your creation. Plus, it can shield you from the blinding glare of rejection letters.


These are just some of the writing hats we can wear as writers. Do you wear them? Can you think of others we should add to our collections? Which hat fits you best? Which hat do you dread having to put on?

Friday, January 14, 2011

What Fills You?

Last week I asked what scares you. This week I'm curious about what fills you.

I just finished CHILDREN OF GOD, the amazing sequel to Mary Doria Russell’s, THE SPARROW. Russell’s use of language, her depth of storytelling, and her unforgettable characters filled me right up, not only with a sense of longing when the story was finished, but with a desire to stretch beyond my own perceived limitations as a writer.

This epic story, in all its horror and glory and complexity, allowed me to step back in time for awhile, back to when I was just a reader. Before intimidation had wormed its way in. Before I knew the mechanics of good writing or the structure of a well-plotted book. Before the writer’s critical lens had fitted itself around my brain.

Isn't it tremendously satisfying to find that...thing...(whatever it is) that sparks your soul? You know the spot - it's down in the center of you where light and life and poetry and inspiration live. It's the place that fills up when we experience awe.

I love that place of wonder! And I love it when people share the things that inspire them most, so I've put together a little journey to share with you my own sources of inspiration and I hope you'll join us in the comments for a good discussion about what sparks you. 

A few things that inspire me...


Poetry


Pictures & Art


Quotes

To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong. – Joseph Chilton Pearce

Dwell in Possibility. - Emily Dickinson

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. - Mahatma Gandhi

Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment. – Rumi

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you. – African Proverb

Movies


Philosophical Perspectives
…The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot…  (Carl Sagan)
Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are. (Eckart Tolle)
Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Music

If I ever feel the light again 
Shining down on me
I don't have to tell you
How welcome it would be
I felt the light before
But I let it slip away
And I just keep on believing
That it'll come back someday...

-Beth Orton, It's Not The Spotlight

Broken bicycles
Old busted chains
With busted handle bars
Out in the rain
Somebody must
Have an orphanage for
All these things that nobody
Wants any more
September's reminding july
It's time to be saying good-bye...


-Tom Waits, Broken Bicycles 


(and so much more)


So what sparks and fills you up, killer friends?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Novelist Kate Perry -- Interview Part 2

Did you catch the first part of the interview with the “stoic and studly” Kate Perry? If not, just scroll on down the page.

Today we’re going to talk about her contemporary romance PLAYING DOCTOR.
But first, I’m going to torture her with more absurd questions. ((hehehe!))

How long have you been a writer?

For too frickin' long.
Just kidding. Actually I've been a writer for eight years, give or take. My first book came out five years ago. However, if I root around in the dusty files of my mind, I used to write all the time as a kid.
Especially letters. I should have been born in Victorian England, I wrote so many letters.


Which comes first the characters or the plot?

Characters. To me, what happens depends on who you put in a situation.

Picture this: you're in the restroom in a laundromat and you look down to see a huge, hairy emperor scorpion. What do you do? Some characters would be stuck in the restroom. Some would take the scorpion and put it on an annoying person's neatly folded underwear.

(note from JB – in case you’re wondering, I’D pick the latter option!)

Fill in the blanks:

My favorite way to waste time is: to read craigslist missed connections, although they aren't as good as they once were.

I get my best ideas: in the shower, on the bus, or at the museum.

I collect: people (living and whole--no body parts, JB, because I know where your mind went)

(note from JB: I plead the 5th.)

In order to write I need: a beverage and music

The last three books I read were: Um... I've been on the same book for three weeks. I can't seem to get through it. I should love it, but it's like drudgery. I don't get it. And, no, I'm not saying what it is. What does this have to do with this blank I'm supposed to fill? It's been so long I can't remember anything I read before.

What does a “typical” writing day for you look like?

6:00 wake up and meditate
7:00 get dressed
8:00 trek to a cafe to write
11:00 go home to eat
between 11:30 and 3pm go to the gym, nap, answer emails, see friends
3:00 go somewhere and write some more
6:00 kung fu, dinner with friends, or go on a date

How did you break into the biz?

Really? You want to know this? Are you sure? It seems like you could
ask me a more exciting question. Try it--ask me anything right now.

Okay, fine, but now I'm asking two:
1) What's the best piece of writing advice you ever received or read?


I should have known you'd take that answer as a challenge. Okay--here I go...

To just write.

I don't remember where I read it. (Maybe WRITING DOWN THE BONES by Natalie Goldberg? I love that book.) But I remember thinking it was genius. Writing is a habit--a muscle you need to exercise and develop. The only way to do that is to use it daily, evenif it's just for five minutes. In five minutes you can write a page, and if you write a page a day in a year you'll have a book.

I think it was Nora Roberts who said it's hard to edit a blank page.

That stuck with me too.

Note: I may be accrediting the wrong people. Remember that I make up stuff for a living. But they're wise women, and they have said profound things about writing.

2) If you could ask one question of any person (living, dead, real, fictional) who would it be?

Stan Lee. Duh. You KNEW I was going to say that.

What puzzles me is why you didn't ask me what the question would be. But it's too late now. (Muah ha ha!)

Tell us about PLAYING DOCTOR

You know my first two books were contemporary romances, right?

(note from JB: Project Mommy and Project Date are both rollicking reads imho...even though no one dies in either, if memory serves)

Well, in PROJECT DATE (my second book) the heroine's sister (Daphne) came to live with her. Over the past few years I've got tons of emails about Daphne and requests for her story, so I made it available as a download on Amazon.

I love PLAYING DOCTOR--it was so much fun to write. Basically, Daphne was a female Doogie Howser, grown up and done with everyone wanting her simply for her brilliant mind. Why can't be be wanted for her body, like other normal women?

What’s the hardest part of being a writer?

Writing. For real.

What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?

Making shit up. I'm really good at lying and this gives me a legitimate way to channel that skill.


If you could try one other career for a week, what would it be?

I'd like to be a bodyguard. And a garbageman. And a Segway tour guide.


Signature cocktail?

Kir Royale, baby. Bubbles all the way!

If you had to choose between a chunk of each, would you choose chocolate or
cheese?

Cheese. Duh. Like there was any doubt there.

Click to find out more about Kate or PLAYING DOCTOR.

The Killer Chicks thank you for being here, Kate!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Un-Vampire

A couple of years ago when I was deeply entrenched in writing vampire stories, I attended a writing conference where I heard the disheartening news that publishers were tired of heroes with teeth.

This perplexed me, not because I pictured a surge in gummy, drooling men gracing the covers of romance novels, but because everywhere I looked there were vampires and werewolves and legions of their loyal fans.

It occurred to me, being a neurotic writer, that I should be prepared for the popularity of fanged heroes to wane, and it hit me that I should write about a non-vampire hero. But what’s the next best thing to a sexy, hypnotic, mysterious, bloodsucking creature of the night? Obviously, a sexy, hypnotic, mysterious non-bloodsucking creature of the night.

Julian Devlin was born. Well, hatched. Well…unbitten?

UNCROSS MY HEART, available today at all your favorite e-book retailers, is about a vampire who was unceremoniously de-vamped. Fangless, Julian is still gorgeous, he’s still sexy and brooding, but in his estimation, he’s powerless and that doesn’t sit well with him. His only goal is to be re-vamped, and he’ll do anything to get back those pointy incisors. Unfortunately getting back what he lost comes down to giving up something he never thought he’d miss – his humanity.

He meets Zoe Boyd who’s the type of woman he’d have made a quick snack of back in the day. Now, she’s his only ally in a world he’s almost forgotten how to live in. Zoe’s not sure about Julian…she can almost believe the vampire part of his story, he’s got the looks, the magnetism, and presence, but one thing he’s certainly not is soulless, and she can’t help but wonder if he might just be better off staying alive this time around.

UNCROSS MY HEART was a labor of love for me and it’s had a long road to publication, so I’m thrilled that it’s finally available and I can share one of my favorite stories with my readers.

For more info visit Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com or your favorite ebook retailer.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Paranormal Romance Novelist Kate Perry Interview Part 1

Kate Perry kicks ass. And I’m not just saying so because she’s a Master in the art of Kung Fu San Soo. TEMPTED BY FATE the third book in her paranormal romance series The Guardians of Destiny, rocks. According to the Library Journal, “Compelling, action-packed, and threaded through with relentless evil, smoldering sexuality, and dynamic magic, this story engages readers from the get-go and doesn't let them come up for air until the end."

The Killer Chicks are thrilled to welcome the one, the only, Kate Perry!

If you possessed one magical power, what would it be?

I would fly--because I want to fly and not because it would mean I'd get a cape.

Although the cape is incentive too.

And, no, I don't buy that the cape would be a hazard. How many years has Superman flown without getting sucked into an airplane propeller? Exactly.

(note from JB -- I don’t think he worries about propellers. More like he gives jet engines a wide berth. At least that’s what I think…)

Weapon of choice?


My hands. I can do things with my pinkie that would make your blood curdle. Second weapon of choice: knife. Third: cane.


You’re sitting on Death Row and you place your order for your last meal – what will it be?

Steak frites, mais bien sur. Rare, with freshly made mayonnaise for my fries and a lovely Bordeaux.

Notice how I didn't question sitting on Death Row. I'm trying to decide what that means too.


Tell us about TEMPTED BY FATE and your kick-ass heroine Willow.

Well, you should really just read TEMPTED BY FATE, and form your own opinion. I mean, you know I'm just going to tell you how awesome it is, right?

But--okay--I can play along. Willow, Guardian of the Book of Wood, is an assassin who's hunting the man who murdered her mother. Except the Bad Man is hunting her as well, chasing her right into the arms of Rick Ramirez, a homicide detective who wants her--professionally and for his own.

(note from JB – I have read Tempted by Fate and not only is Willow a bad-ass (a lovable bad-ass) but she’s got a whole lot of attitude and some great lines!)

What are the pros and cons of writing paranormal romance?

Are there cons? Because with paranormal you can make up anything and get away with it. Even if it's as outlandish as a series about magical scraps of paper. (wink)

Which of your characters do you most relate to and why?

Oddly, I relate to my male characters. I'm stoic and studly like they are, and I'm hoping to recover from a tortured past through love.

(Do you believe that? Because I thought it sounded good.)

Seriously though, I related a lot to Gabe in MARKED BY PASSION, mostly because I've been a reluctant heroine all my life too. I've always tried hard to resist responsibility, partly because I had so much responsibility when I was a kid and partly because I didn't think I'd succeed. But, like Gabe, I'm finally stepping up. Or at least I'm trying.

(note from JB: Gabe is actually Gabrielle…another stoic and studly woman)

Kate will be back here on Thursday answering my inane questions and telling us about her latest contemporary romance PLAYING DOCTOR.

Here’s the description of TEMPTED by FATE that was shamelessly lifted from Kate’s site. To get a sneak peak, go there. NOW!


Willow Tarata is a Guardian who trusts no one. She hunts those who prey on the vulnerable. And she's driven by a vengeful goal-find the man who murdered her mother. Yet suddenly Willow's quarry now has her on the run... straight into the sights of San Francisco's most dangerous detective.

Three bizarre murders have Inspector Rick Ramirez baffled-and determined to uncover the truth. But to catch the real killer, he needs the help of his prime suspect, Willow Tarata, even though this fierce and sexy blonde is challenging his professional cool. And now, unless they believe in each other and trust their deepest instincts, a relentless evil will end both Willow's and Rick's life-and claim this Guardian's extraordinary powers forever...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Do you read narrowly or widely?

Last week I got into a discussion about reading preferences. I speculated that if you classify yourself as a non-fiction reader, chances are good you tend to stick to specific areas that interest you, whether it’s American Presidents, the Civil War, or Rock Formations. I also theorized that fiction readers have broader palates.

So which are you?

Or are you like me? Someone who considers herself (or himself) to be “just a reader”. Someone who reads both.

I thought it would be fun to do an informal survey:

1) Do you read more fiction or nonfiction?

2) For no vels, do you read one genre exclusively or do you read multiple genres?

3) What genre do you read most?

4) How do you choose which books you read? Favorite authors? Word of mouth? Book reviews? Cover art? Clever titles? Cover copy? Excerpts? The first page?

5) What’s the last book you finished and what are you reading now?

6) And for you writers: Do you read more or less fiction while you’re writing? Do you read in the same genre you’re writing in?

My answers:

I’ve never kept track, but I’d be willing to bet I probably read close to equal amounts of fiction and nonfiction. I’ll keep track on my personal blog this year, so that I can know whether my hypothesis is true.

I read multiple genres.

For fiction, I probably read more romantic suspense than anything else. For nonfiction, I’m into self-improvement books.

I have favorite authors, but also rely on word of mouth, which is how I found THE SPELLMAN FILES by Lisa Lutz and THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein last year. Sometimes I’m intrigued by subject matter, which is why I read THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED by Wally Lamb, and of course I get to read some awesome work by my crit partners (which I can’t tell you about or they’d have to kill me).

Last week I read Kate Perry’s TEMPTED BY FATE (tune in tomorrow and Thursday for my 2-part interview with her) and Lisa Scottoline’s LOOK AGAIN. I also listened to HOW I WRITE by Janet Evanovich. I’m currently reading THE HUNTERS, a novella by Jason Pinter and I’m listening to ROOM by Emma Donoghue.

When I’m in the final push to finish a book I don’t read much fiction at all. I tend to stay away from reading the genre I’m writing in.

What about you Killer Friends? How would you answer those questions?

DON’T FORGET – tomorrow Part One of my interview with the stoic and studly Kate Perry will run right here in this space. (C’mon, you’ve gotta be wondering why I describe her that way….find out tomorrow!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

What Scares You?

I recently reread THE SHINING and it got me thinking about the images, words, and scenes that scare me the most as a consumer of spooky stuff. If you’ve read the book and you’re claustrophobic at all, I’ll bet you remember the part where little Danny’s inside the underground tube in the playground. My god, friends, I didn’t breathe through that entire scene. My heart hammered, my palms sweated, and I wanted to scream when Hubby, not knowing I was trying to speed-read my way through HELL, asked me some benign question.

The only other time I can remember having that kind of reaction was when I watched The Descent. Same thing – claustrophobic scene that induced a feeling of pure terror.

Ok, so I’m not a fan of small spaces (<--that might be an understatement) and my own claustrophobia certainly contributes to a genuine empathetic reaction, but I’m also afraid of long flights of stairs and heights and yet it doesn’t bother me in the least to look at an Escher drawing. (In fact, I find Escher unendingly fascinating.)

Visceral reactions are definitely exciting in the adrenaline department, but why are they so random and why do they affect some people, but not others?

Perhaps it’s a matter of desensitization. I don’t get myself into claustrophobic situations to be sure, but maybe if I did my reaction wouldn’t be as strong as it is. Course it couldn't have anything to do with that time when I was sixteen and crawled into a snow cave and immediately felt the weight of a hundred pounds of snow burying me alive...naaaahhhhhh.

So, what ignites your phobias, friends? Spiders? Clowns? Little girls holding comically large lollipops?

Have a great weekend, Killer Friends!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Fourth J

Hi everybody! Since this is my first post at Killer Chicks, I thought I’d just give a little background about myself.

My name is Jennifer Colgan and I write science fiction, futuristic and paranormal romance. I’ve been writing since I was ten…I won’t say how long ago that was, but let’s just say the year didn’t even have four digits back then.  I’ve been published since 2005 when I sold my first novella.  I’ve been married for eighteen years and I have two teenagers, a geriatric dog and two adolescent cats. In addition to writing, I’m a freelance editor and I work for my local Town Hall where I spend a good deal of my time crafting passive sentences for the minutes of town meetings. 

I’m a Trekker [Trekkie, makes no difference to me], born and raised.  I’m fluent in techno-babble and Buffy-verse [real vampires DON’T sparkle.] I know what TARDIS stands for. I consider dark chocolate to be writing fuel. I sing off-key, collect sea shells and miniature vases and enjoy the scent of a freshly opened box of crayons. I despise housework. I’m a passable cook and I cannot parallel park, nor do I even try.

To follow up on JB’s questions from yesterday:

What did I work on the most?In 2010 my biggest obstacle was time. My family moved during the year and that took an enormous amount of energy and involved a lot of stress that caused me to put writing on the back burner. Finding the will and the way to put Butt In Chair was my continual challenge for 2010. I’m hoping with things more settled in 2011, I can squeeze a few more hours into each day.

My weaknesses:I over-analyze myself, my plots, my characters, often to the point that I my brain becomes paralyzed. I worry that each word or detail might not be the best choice, rather than simply getting the work done and allowing myself to fix it later.  I’m a closet perfectionist [though you wouldn’t know that by looking in any of my closets].

My strengths:It’s all in my head…what I mean by that is, I don’t plot, but I have stories in my head fully formed. I know the way things go in a story as if they’ve already happened so once I get out of my own way and simply write, it’s just a matter of making my hands keep up with my brain on the keyboard. Getting to that magical ‘zone’ is the tough part, but once I’m there, I’m on fire.

What helped me get over the hump:Forgiveness. That sounds all new agey, I know, but the thing I feel I have to remember is to forgive myself for typos, for clunky dialogue, for scenes that don’t quite work and just get the story on paper. I’m an editor as well as a writer, so the fixing of stuff actually comes easier to me than the initial writing.  I have to work hardest at telling myself it’s okay not to have a perfect first draft and just write.

In 2011 I have a number of new releases scheduled, the first of which, my latest paranormal romance, Uncross My Heart, will be available next week. I’ll tell you more about them on Wednesdays when I’m here holding down the fort at Killer Chicks. I look forward to meeting everyone and hanging out here with JB and Joann.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

It’s a new year and Killer Chicks has a new look (thanks, Joann!) along with a new Killer Chick, JENNIFER COLGAN. Everyone make sure to give her a warm welcome when she posts on Wednesday!

I thought I'd start off the year by answering some questions one of our commenters asked, because you can't know where you're going without knowing where you've been. (At least that's what I've heard, but I'm directionally-challenged, so what do I know?)

I’ll share my answers to his questions about last year and I hope you’ll tell me yours. Here goes:

What did you find were the things you had to work on the most?

I had to give this particular question a lot of thought. Eventually I asked myself, “What gets in my way the most?” and the answer to that is all too familiar: MYSELF. Some people might say a lack of time, others might claim a lack of ideas (SO not a problem I suffer from) but for me, the biggest obstacle I face is myself. More specifically, having faith in myself.

This was particularly evident at the beginning of last year when I was considering leaving my agent. Everyone knows it can take forever to get an agent, right? And it wasn’t like I had a “bad” agent. She’s a perfectly capable woman. But she wasn’t the agent for me.

To be honest, if I’d had more faith in myself, I probably never would have signed with her. Desperate to land an agent, ANY agent, I ignored my gut. I knew that I wasn’t making the best choice, but I resolved to make the best of it. Like that ever works…

Eventually after much soul-searching and hand-wringing I trusted myself enough to gather the courage to leave my agent. Was it an easy decision?

I went on to write what I think is my best book (an idea I’d floated to her and she nixed) and I sold the book she hadn’t been able to find a home for (THE FIRST VICTIM coming from Carina Press in June!).

Was it the best career choice? Time will tell. I’m still trying to find an agent for that book. But finding the strength to believe in myself, despite the fact my decision flew in the face of common wisdom, was well worth it.

What were your weaknesses?

I’m a TERRIBLE proofreader, I suck at punctuation, and I often struggle to get down a character’s thoughts.

In order to shore up my weaknesses, I’m taking a self-editing class this month in the hopes it’ll help with both my proofreading and punctuation skills. As for the other thing, I think I’m slowly getting better at it. Practice makes perfect they say.

Strengths?

I think my plots are pretty solid and that my pacing is fairly strong. I’m adaptable. (I didn’t freak out when my editor suggested I remove a character entirely from THE FIRST VICTIM….well, I may have panicked about HOW to do it, but I didn’t fight doing it.)

But what I think is one of my greatest strengths is my eagerness to learn. I don’t think I have all the answers and I’m constantly striving to improve.


What helped you to really get over the hump?

Perseverance! There’s no magical formula or lucky break for me. It’s hard work, and lots of rejection, and learning from those rejections, and then more hard work.

Having faith in myself (which is a daily struggle) and writing a book because I loved the concept and characters (not because I thought I might be able to sell it) helped me to rediscover the joy of writing. It reenergized me, and has made me more determined than ever to succeed.

I’d love to hear how YOU would answer those same questions. (Much thanks to Draven for asking them in the first place!)

From now on, I’ll be blogging on Mondays, Jennifer on Wednesdays, and Joann on Fridays. We’ll also be featuring lots of special guests, so be sure to check back often!