Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Furniture Cat says...

Did you want to sleep here? know, we own the bed now.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Radio Interview: Agents, Crystal Balls & why I'm not going indie

Friday I did my first radio interview for the Book Blogger Collaborative. My thanks to the lovely Coral for being such a delightlful host and for putting up with my babbling about CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN, THE FIRST VICTIM, crystal balls, what it's like finding and working with an agent and why I haven't considered going indie.

The entire show can be found HERE. My bit starts seven or eight minutes in. (I'm fairly certain that I managed not to curse during the entire thing...quite the feat for me!)

So how does one prepare for a radio interview? Here's what I recommend:

1) Look in the mirror and say, "What the hell were you thinking?"

2) Feed the dogs.

3) Read the descriptions of your published books so that you have a general idea what you're supposedto be talking about.

4) Realize you remember very little about said books. Run back to the mirror and repeat, "What the hell were you thinking?!"

5) Walk dog. Cover screeching parrot. Make coffee because your heart isn't beating fast enough as it is.

6) Return to the mirror. You know the drill.

7) Forget to BREATHE during the interview.

Now you too can babble with the best of us!

Here's a KILLER QUESTION: Would you rather deliver a speech or be interviewed?

I'd pick speech because I like to have everything planned ahead.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

All the pomp and circumstance

My son graduated from middle school Tuesday night and, like most parents of teenagers, I breathed a sigh of relief that he passed another year of school. It ain’t easy with boys – in addition to some of the last minute nail biting [Did he pass his final exams? Does he have any huge outstanding book fines he neglected to tell us about?] – we had a week long argument about whether or not it was mandatory to attend the graduation ceremony.

My son isn’t one for pomp and circumstance. Unlike my daughter, he shuns the spotlight and – like me – prefers the background and the sidelines. He’s not one to gobble up praise or bask in the limelight of an accomplishment, so the idea of dressing up in a nice shirt and a tie [egads!] not to mention a cap* and gown, made him understandably twitchy.  He insisted he would still graduate even if he didn’t go to the actual graduation – and I agreed, he would, but that wasn’t going to get him out of going. He argued that it would be crowded, hot, long and basically silly with everyone parading around in their polyester gowns just to get little cardboard folders that don’t contain the real diplomas because they mail those out later. Likewise I agreed and repeated that, as correct as his assessment was, he was still going.

He tried a different tack and asked me if I really felt like hanging out at the school, dealing with the traffic and all the inconvenience of getting there, climbing around in the bleachers and sitting there just to see him from  a distance walk across the field and shake the principal’s hand. I had to grudgingly admit, I’d rather just skip the whole hoopla and go out to dinner, but nevertheless we were going.

Not because I’m a big fan of graduation ceremonies, or middle school, and not, as he believes, because I want to torture him by making him wear a tie**, a decent pair of pants and a shirt that doesn’t have a video game logo on it somewhere, but because, as a parent, I’ve earned this moment and I’m going to darn well have it, even if it is a big pain in the butt.

That thirty seconds, during which he steps up to the announcement of his name , strides across the field and accepts the diploma that allows him to move on to his last four years of public education, is my payment for having to drop out of Mommy and Me because he had a tantrum every time we so much as made it to the parking lot, my payment for having to hand him, kicking and screaming, over the threshold of pre-school to the assurance of the teacher that he would calm down about ten minutes after I left, my payment for all the last minute trips to the store to buy supplies for the project that was ‘due tomorrow’ but he forgot to tell me about it, my payment for baking cupcakes for the school party on the day he got an ear infection and couldn’t even go to school, my payment for picking him up from the nurse’s office because he had a ‘headache’ that miraculously went away during the ride home. I get those thirty seconds as compensation for the bouts of crying that accompanied those early homework assignments and having to explain to his teacher why his notebook looked like a werewolf had attacked it, and running to school with forgotten lunch money and essays and student IDs – all the things I swore I’d never do, but I did anyway because I didn’t want him not to have what he needed even though he’d been reminded a dozen times.

So I finally got my payback. I got to see him dressed up nicely, hair neat, shoes tied, standing taller than me and looking much older than 14 years, and I got to see my little boy take one more step toward being the man I hope for him to be one day.

I don’t like pomp and circumstance either. But I’ll deal with the traffic, the crowds, the confusion and the summer heat to get my payday, and it was well worth it.

*Interestingly, the graduation didn’t include caps – who has a graduation without the cap?
**He ended up not wearing the tie

Monday, June 18, 2012

What to write next?

At the end of last year, a friend of mine had her plan in place (an incredibly ambitious plan) of everything she wanted to write in 2012.

In January I was in awe of her.

Now, as we're about to start the second half of the year, I'm jealous.

Because I'm not sure what to write next.

It's not that I don't have any ideas. (I'm not one of those "one idea at a time" writers....who, I must admit, I'm also jealous of, because they don't have to contend with the distraction of shiny, new ideas.) It's that I don't know which to work on.

I asked someone this weekend, who'd read both THE FIRST VICTIM and CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN which type of book they'd like to read from me next. They said they'd rather read something closer to THE FIRST VICTIM. Others have said they won't more stuff in the vein of HITWOMAN.

The problem is, I enjoy writing both. So how does one choose between two loves?

Do I ask my agent which she thinks she can sell?

Since my next release is another HITWOMAN book (coming in October!) should I stick with that voice/genre to build my brand?

Or should I diversify my readership?

Or maybe I should just flip a coin?

Tell me Killer Friends: What do you think? How do you make "impossible" decisions? And how far in advance do you plan YOUR projects?

(Oh, and my friend, the one with the year-long plan? I think she's going to have an amazing publishing year in 2013. Stay tuned for the details!!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What's in your wallet?

So, what does your book buying budget look like this month?

I have to admit, since I started writing, I actually spend a lot less money on books, mostly because I don't have the time to read like I once did. I remember as a teenager spending all my allowance on books, coming home from the local book store with an arm full of reading material. I can't imagine the menace I'd have been if Kindles had been around back then. I'd probably still be paying off my reading habit.

Nowadays I'm getting a little spoiled,though. Ninety-nine cent books are like potato chips. You can't have just one, so despite whatever the public opinion is about low price equaling low quality, I tend to look for less expensive books, and I find myself clucking my tongue at any eBook priced over $9.99.

If you're like me, and you're looking for some good reads, check out the Book Lovers' Buffet Vacation Getaway. From now until June 22, 2012 you can find more than 150 romance books priced at or discounted to $0.99. Come on, you know you can't buy just one. [You can also win some cool prizes.]

On the other hand, if you don't feel comfortable with a $0.99 book, and you feel a higher price denotes higher quality, I've got just the book for you:

I found the print copy of my erotic anthology on sale at Amazon for the tidy sum of $2,999.99. Is it worth it? Well, darn it, of course it is! That's authentic gluteous maximus on that cover there, ladies!

At this, price, won't have to worry if you're getting quality work...and you won't even have to worry about paying for shipping!

It's good to know there are books available to fit every budget out there. Now all I have to do is find a bunch of readers who consider $2,999.99 to be pocket change, and I'm ready to roll!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Is it Scrooge-like to say "blah humbug" when it comes to The Avengers?

So I finally got around to see The Avengers. (NOT in 3D because I didn't want to spend hours on the verge of vomiting.)

 To be honest I had mixed feelings about seeing it. On the one hand, I tend to not like movies that come with a boatload of hype (or box office billions) on the other hand I'm a huge of Joss Whedon BUT I'm not a fan of comic books turned into movies (except for Hellboy...I really loved Hellboy).

Long Suffering wanted to see it, so we did. (How could I refuse when he's been such a good sport about reading my manuscript as I hurdle toward my deadline?)

I know I'm in the minority, but I didn't love it. I didn't even like it very much. I thought it was uber-predictable, lacked character development (because they had too many!) and that the fight scenes were mind-numbingly endless.

On the other hand, Long Suffering loved the movie. (This is how we usually fall. I detested Avatar and cringe every single time Long Suffering, who loved it, tunes into it on TV. Have you noticed it's on almost as much as Law and Order repeats???)

Since I didn't hate The Avengers I've been trying to figure out why Long Suffering and countless others are such fans of this movie.

After asking him a bunch of questions like "You knew so-and-so was going to die right?" Answer: No. "But you knew what was going to happen with the you-know-what didn't you?" Answer: No "But you understand the symbolism at the end that it had to be The Hulk to do what he did, don't you" Answer: No.

Long Suffering is a wise and clever man.I was befuddled by his answers and then slowly, because I am neither wise nor clever, I got it.

He doesn't know how to construct a good story. He knows how to enjoy one.

I, on the other hand, really have a hard time getting lost in a story, because I know that every action or line of dialogue may have a payoff later in the story and I'm always guessing ahead, trying to figure out where the storyteller is taking the tale, rather than enjoying the moment.

I'd be willing to bet that The Avengers is pretty close to a perfectly constructed screenplay. I'd be surprised if Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler aren't already dissecting it. (If you haven't read The Hero's Two Journeys you might want to.)

I know I'll be doing so.

But right now I'm jealous of Long Suffering and the millions of fans who were able to enjoy it.

Tell me Killer Friends: Did you see The Avengers? Did you enjoy it? Can you suspend disbelief when viewing or reading? Or do you constantly get stuck figuring out the work behind the magic?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Do you know who you're reading?

Most of us know that Mark Twain is the nom de plume of humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, and it’s common knowledge that that the real name of Dr. Seuss is Theodor Seuss Geisel, but did you know the beloved children’s author also published under the names Theo LeSieg and Rosetta Stone?

You might be aware that Nora Roberts took the name JD Robb to distinguish her crime dramas from her romance novels and Stephen King began producing work under the name Richard Bachman to prove his writing his could stand on its own without his already famous name attached to it, but did you know The Bronte Sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne also published poetry under the more masculine pseudonyms of Currer, Acton and Ellis Bell?

You may have heard that George Eliot was really Mary Ann Evans and Isak Dinesen was actually Karen Blixen, but did you know famed mystery writer Agatha Christie wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott?

You may have heard of Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum, but what about Edith Van Dyne, Floyd Akers, John Estes Cooke, Laura Bancroft, Suzanne Metcalf and Schuyler Staunton – some of his numerous aliases?

And you may be a fan of suspense author Dean Koontz, but what about David Axton, Leonard Chris, Brian Coffey, Deanna Dwyer, K.R. Dwyer, Leigh Nichols, Arthur North, Richard Page, Owen West – all names Koontz has published under?

You may not know Howard Allen Frances O'Brien, but you’ve definitely heard of her work. A.N. Roquelaure aka, Anne Rampling aka Anne Rice chose her most famous first name on the first day of school rather than have to explain why her unconventional mother decided to name her after her father.
Have you written anything under a little known pen name or a super secret alias? It’s time to confess so we can say we knew you when.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I don't know if you know this, but...

A dear friend, who is admittedly not much of a reader, paid me what I'm sure they thought was a compliment after they'd read CONFESSIONS OF A SLIGHTLY NEUROTIC HITWOMAN.

"I don't know if you know this, but there's at least one really funny line in each scene of this book."

I must admit that I practically bit through my cheek to keep from saying, "I don't know if you know this, but I worked damn hard to make sure of it."

Being funny is hard work for me. Those lines are written and rewritten and honed until it seems like they're the most natural things in the world for my characters to say or think. In reality, the great majority of them start out as clunkers. I know WHAT I want to say, I just don't know HOW to say it. Discovering the best way to deliver those lines is the result of seemingly endless trial-and-error (A LOT of error).

The same goes for the scenes that readers have told me have moved them to tears.It's hard work pouring that pathos onto the page.Refining it, crafting it. The first draft rarely brings tears to my eyes as I type it, but with any luck, the final version does.

My friend's comment really was a compliment. It means that all my hard work isn't evident on the page. The moments they foumd amusing were woven into the fabric of the story smoothly, but with such consistency that they were appreciated.

Sometimes when I read a novel, I feel as though I can tell exactly which sentences an author has labored over. Other times, I'll read a novel with such incredible ease and flow that I suspect the writer wrote the entire thing in one sitting, without a moment's doubt, without the slightest revision. (Logically I know that can't possibly be true, but I'm in awe of writers who can craft work like that.)

I'm feverishly finishing up the sequel to CONFESSIONS and as I do, I'm sweating those funny lines and wringing my hands over the sad scenes, hoping that I'll be able to make some magic for some readers.

Tell me Killer Friends: Which books/writers magically transport you?

Oh, but I do have to admit that the scenes from the killer's point of view in THE FIRST VICTIM were among the easiest I've ever written. What does that say about me?....