Four Question Friday

Ask me a question, any question! Tez was so kind to ask the first two, so here they are with my brilliant answers:

Question 1: Since your daughter was born, have you been writing less?

Answer 1: I write 5k a day, have a spotless house and cook four course gourmet meals every night. I am a fiction writer, after all. ūüėČ

Honestly, pregnancy brain hit me hard, and I actually stopped writing way before I had the baby. Once the baby arrived, I spent most of my “free time” editing and entering contests. It wasn’t until I got The Call in January that I got serious about making time to write again. Deadlines are a good motivator. I have less time than I did pre-baby, but I’m much more efficient with it.

Question 2: Have you hired a baby-sitter so you can get some writing done?

Answer 2: Still working on it. Now that she is 13 months I feel a lot better about leaving her in a stranger’s capable hands. She is extremely social and inquisitive, so I think she’ll really like being in a school environment. Yesterday I had my first full day without the baby and I wrote 5 thousand words!! (Not-fiction!)

Question 3: Are you still in love with secret-baby plots after having a baby of your own?

Answer 3: THOSE BOOKS WERE WRITTEN BY CHILDLESS PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER MET A BABY. Just kidding. I LOVE being a mommy, but for a while there I was pretty convinced that the only people who liked the secret-baby plots so common in the romance genre were childless people and women too old to remember what it was like to have a newborn. I’m probably still right, but after a year my brain has already blocked the shock and exhaustion that characterizes new parenthood. So, short answer: yes. I’m a sucker for them again. Babies! So cute! Heroes who like babies! ADORABLE!

Question 4: Did you watch the royal wedding?

Answer 4: You know that thing about parenthood? You sleep when the baby sleeps. If my baby is sleeping at 3 am, I am certainly NOT up watching tv, Fabulous hats or no.

Maybe if I had known about the Fabulous hats ahead of time I would have made an exception.

Now a question for you, dear readers: Did YOU watch the royal wedding?

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Wednesday is Book Day

Wednesday is hump day. How do you get over the hump? With a good book of course. Tell me what you’ve been reading and what you are dying to get your hands on.

I’ll start.

What I’ve been reading:

 

After polishing off the last Dark Swan novel by Richelle Mead (Iron Crowned), I wanted more Mead, so I picked up the Georginia Kincaid series. It helped that Amazon had the first title on sale on Kindle–hard to resist a sale on a book I actually want to read. Succubus Blues was just what I was in the mood for: a wry, clear voice set in my very favorite place. How can you go wrong with a Seattle heroine who drinks microbrews, wears birkenstocks, and works in a bookstore? It looks like the series is being made into a graphic novel. I think I’ll have to try the Vampire Academy series again after I finish the Succubus series. Love Mead’s voice.

What I’m dying to get my hands on:

Just look at that gorgeous cover will you? Steampunk Young Adult with an Oliver Twist-sounding premise. I’m hooked. Anyone read it yet?

Here is the blurb:

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one‚Ķexcept the “thing” inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of¬†them.¬†The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help‚ÄĒand finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on‚ÄĒeven if it seems no one believes her.

Now it’s your turn. Recommendations?

Getting down and dirty on the internet

What every aspiring author wants to know: Marketing!

This is a topic that strikes fear in the hearts of many an author. We tend to be introverted, skittish creatures. Marketing feels like whoring ourselves on the internet, tarnishing our “art”, exposing our vulnerable creative core.

But it’s necessary, unless one wants to write for oneself. An author craves an audience. If the audience doesn’t know about it, they can’t fall hopelessly in love with one’s story.

At the request of the marketing department at my esteemed publisher, I have set myself up on the requisite social networking sites. We are all told as aspiring authors to build a platform before we get the call. Get your name out there! Network like your butt’s on fire! Promote your author brand!!!

I would like to issue a statement: I am not a brand. Author Maureen Johnson said it much better than I could in her Manifesto. Please read it. It’s funny. But most importantly, it reminds us of what we all forget about the internet: it is made up of people. You and me and my mother and dentist and third cousin once removed. I don’t want to hear sell, sell, sell anymore. I dislike being sold to. I will not try to sell to you. If you pick up a copy of my book because it looks interesting, yay! If you decide it’s hopelessly wonderful and share it with all your friends, yay! If you check it out of the library, yay! I love creating the Hearts of Darkness world, dragging my characters through their most hopeless soul’s night, finding redemption and love along the way.

I hope, of course, that you like the trilogy as much as I do. But all I have control over is the words I put on the page. It would be easy to get sidetracked into networking, building a social platform, and evangelizing on the internet. Whole months go by without writing, just blogging, commenting, tweeting, and “liking” away. I’ve been there. I blogged a lot. I pretended I was “working.” My word count on my manuscript stayed stagnant.

Finally, I took to heart the words of the most esteemed grand dame of romance editing, Kate Duffy: “Get off the internet and write.”

It was amazing how all the distractions lifted away, forcing me to face the dragon of my own blank page. We fought. I won. No one else can write your story for you. You can’t sell a story you haven’t finished writing.

So it is with great hesitation that I once again join the ranks of the socially networked to market my book. I will not let myself get carried away this time. Writing comes first, marketing a distant second. My focus is joining a community of readers.

Here is my new blogging schedule that I hope I’ll stick to:

On Manic Mondays I will talk about WRITING.

On Wacky Wednesdays I will talk about READING.

On Fractious Fridays I will answer four QUESTIONS. (Please send me your burning questions about life, the universe, and beyond.)

Let’s get this ball rolling!

What I’ve been reading…

A little of this, a little of that. I have very little time to read these days, but it only makes me appreciate it that much more. Here are some good ones for your reading pleasure:

SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi РDystopian Young Adult. It was quite as good as those peeps on the internetz said it would be

WICKED BECOMES YOU by Meredith Duran РVictorian Romance. Our book club book this month, and a rousing success. I love her!

TRIAL BY DESIRE by Courtney Milan РVictorian Romance. Nicely layered characters.

WICKED GAME by Jill Myles – Contemporary Romance set in a reality Survivor game show. Sarcastic and funny and sweet. And only $2.99! You can’t get good coffee that cheap.

ISLAND HEAT by Jill Myles – Time-travel fantasy romance with dinosaurs. No, really. This is journey to the center of the earth, romance style. Very fun. And only $0.99.

STORY ENGINEERING by Larry Brooks – Non-fiction on how to write a novel. I actually haven’t finished, but the half I’ve read has some excellent advice.

What have you been reading? What should I read next?

Hot off the press!! August 2012

Well, new to me anyway. Hearts of Darkness, book 1 in my to-be-titled trilogy, will be released from Kensington in August 2012, earlier than I was anticipating. Mark your calendars!

I’m hard at work on book 2, Hearts of Shadow. For some reason, I’m excited by the prospect of rewriting book 1 more than I am about facing down the blank page of book 2. Why is that? Why is the blank page so terrifying? There is a quote widely attributed to La Nora that goes something like, “a page of crap is easier to fix than a blank page.” I think I need to write that in big letters over my desk. It’s just that my internal editor is so loud.

It might help if I had a desk. I do, buried somewhere underneath all those papers and books. A professional organizer came out this week to consult about my office. Until recently, I didn’t have any place but the dining room table to write on. After painting the garage and setting Mr. Kira up in it, I got to claim his old office. It’s a nice space with a bathroom and a sliding glass door to the back yard. The problem is that all my craft supplies are in bins and need to be organized, my filing system is half-assed and carries over onto the desk, and the cat has peed on the carpet. It also lacks character. I simply cannot be inspired in a room that lacks character. The horror!

The to do list, I’m afraid, is long and dreary and involves copious hours of me not-writing in order to prepare to write. Am I procrastinating under the guise of preparing to write? Perhaps. But perhaps I will also be more productive in a comfortable room painted a robin’s egg blue, with a large cork board plotting board on the wall over a clean desk, that smells like tea and chocolate and certainly not cat pee.

I’ve also been embracing Scrivener. My organization woes are solved. Ze Book hasn’t plotted itself YET, but I have high hopes.

One Upon a Time…

…there was a girl who liked to make up stories (who doesn’t?). She was ship wrecked on deserted islands and built tree houses out of vines in the deep jungle (equipped with mysterious and environmentally friendly hot-holes in the jungle floor to cook on), tracked international jewel thieves for the FBI (and sometimes the reverse), and led troops to battle the forces of darkness in petty fiefdoms high above the clouds. She thought, sometimes, about writing these grand adventures down on paper, but there were always too many princes to save from fire breathing dragons.

After too many years fighting briars down multiple wrong paths–*cougheconomicscough*–she found an enchanted tome (AKA Outlander) that transported her to far away Scotland with dashing and dreamy men in kilts. “This!” she thought to herself. She signed up for her first writing conference and set forth to do battle with the blank page.

The right path is not smooth. It has rocks and wicked witches and trolls under the bridge. It has giants that tried to stomp on her dream and alluring fairies who tried to lure her toward some other shiny, sparkly item. She fought on. Hurdle after hurdle. Rejection after rejection. Motivated by red-haired fairy godmothers in orange feather boas who shouted “FINISH THE DAMN BOOK!”

So she did. She pitched it at the next Emerald City Writers Conference and waited. And waited. And won some writing contests. And sent out queries and manuscripts to interested editors and agents. And waited some more.

Sometimes she thought writing was the easy part.

But then finally she got THE CALL, slew the dragon, and rescued the prince.

Now comes the hard part. Welcome to my shiny new blog. This is the story of a newby author. Hold on to your top hats, ladies. Here there be monsters.