Monday, November 25, 2013

The Writing Process

Ever curious about how writers and authors write? What inspires them? How do they hone their stories? What drives them?

Friend and fellow author CameliaMiron Skiba invited me to join the Writing Process Blog Tour, and while I don’t normally participate in things like this, I simply had to for Cami. She’s a little scary when you tick her off. (Just kidding! Love you, girl!) Below are the questions I was asked to answer, and now I get to tag other writers to keep it going. It’s like a chain letter for writers only, and what’s not to love about that? 

What are you working on? 

I have a few works in progress right now, which works well for my unfocused, disorganized brain. 

  •  Freaked, the sequel to Psyched. Sequels do not work well for my unfocused, disorganized brain, so I have to prioritize the things I want to happen, decide what works best with Freaked, and what brings satisfying conclusion for the people who love Aisi Turay as much as I do. Easy peasy, right? Or not... 
  •  I’m revising a romance for grown-up types I wrote years ago. I shelved it after it was rejected. After I pulled it out and dusted it off, with a few years between then and now, I realized how truly terrible it was. After working on ArmsWide Open  and falling in love with my heroine Lauren Brooks, I decided to resurrect the reject and combine it with another idea I had for a romance—it’s Jane Austen’s Persuasion meets a singles cruise. Hijinks will ensue.  
  •  This third makes me happy dance. I’m working with five other authors to put together a mid-grade (upper elementary and junior high through high school) urban fantasy series, with each of us contributing one book. The common thread will be the magic of Atlantis, with each other contributing our own characters and story lines. Characters from the other books will make cameo appearances in mine. I’m really excited with how this one is coming together and the characters I’m creating. We’re planning a release for next summer! 

How does your work differ from others of its genre? 

This is a tough question. I know my writing definitely falls within a few genres. Juvenile, paranormal, YA, romance, fantasy. I want to try writing everything and see which voice feels most authentic, see which people like to read the most. Maybe at some point I’ll stick with one.
I guess this biggest difference is I try hard not to be influenced by the next big thing in any genre. I just read what sounds interesting and if an element in that book sticks out to me, I might experiment with it in my own writing.

Why do you write what you do?

I write the stories that come to me. They come on their own and the stories aren’t necessarily connected or geared to any particular age group. I have ideas for children’s picture books, romances, and everything in between in this world and beyond. I write what I do because the stories demand that I tell them. Bossy little things, aren’t’ they?

How does your writing process work?

I write when I can, and when inspiration strikes. I don't write in acts or segments or follow any established "rules" for writing, because who even came up with those? I wish I could say I was one of those motivated and disciplined writers who outlines everything and writes on a schedule, but I’m a realist...and I’m a mom first, above all else. I haven’t written anything for a couple of weeks because my daughter on year-round school is off track, so I’ve been spending time doing things with her. That won’t write or sell any books for me, but she’s kind of awesome and way more fun to hang out with than a computer. 

All done. Okay, now Shantal Hiatt and Conni Byron, tag! You’re it!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2014 calendar already?

It's that time of year. Stores are finally throwing out the last of the 2013 calendars to display next year's, with the hope that people will buy them for Christmas presents. I think they do this expecting that the only ones who will buy calendars for Christmas are grandparents and people shopping crowded but bare aisles at 7:32 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

I learned recently, however, that my amazingly talented cover artist Silviya uses her artwork to make and sell calendars. Her 2014 calendar is now available here, and totally recommend you check it out and consider this if you need a calendar. This one is way better than what granny will tuck under the tree (or menorah, or festivus pole, or the kwanzaa kinara, or whatever symbolizes whatever you choose to celebrate)! This ain't your granny's calendar...that's for sure.

I mean, look at that art.

This image remains the property of Silviya Yordanova

Gorgeous, right? If you follow the link to her 2014 calendar, you'll see a few of the images she's included. She does book covers and other digital imagery, too, so I recommend you check her out if you need anything. She is truly gifted!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fantastic Christmas Anthology...Check It Out!

Full disclosure: I love all three of these writers, and I'm fangirl geeking all over this blog post as I write. Cindy C. Bennett, Sherry Gammon, and Stephanie Fowers have combined their considerable writing power and wicked imaginations to bring us this fantastic holiday anthology just in time for Christmas! You should definitely check this out--it will get you feeling the magic of the holidays!

 What do Witches, Elves, and Greek Gods (Oh My) have in common? They are part of the romantic Christmas anthology, A Fantasy Christmas, written by Cindy C Bennett, Stephanie Fowers, and Sherry Gammon

Banished from the South Pole, Kara tries to carve out a new life among the elves of the North. It’s not easy with a secret to protect—a secret she's cursed with by the unusual circumstances of her heritage: half-elf, half-fairy. In the North, she’s assigned to work with Seb on a special project. He's the most gorgeous elf she’s ever seen - and the orneriest. 
As if being banished wasn’t punishment enough. 
Seb introduces her to Trystin, a fairy from the nearby fairy forest. Trystin discerns her secret right away and promises to teach her how to use the powers given to her by the very thing she’s fighting to keep hidden.

Check out Cindy C Bennett's web page for more information on her.

Nothing is simple for Aphrodite’s daughter, especially love. 
Scorned by society in regency England, Affry longs for romance. Upon encountering a dashing nobleman at her aunty's Christmas' ball, Affry gets caught in a lovely intrigue with disastrous results. Worse, she wins the interest of the gods. 

Now the furies of the underworld and Hades himself are after her. When all is fair in war,  Affry must use love as her weapon—but only for the one who’s stolen her heart. 

Check out Stephanie Fowers' web page for more information on her.

Loving Marigold by Sherry Gammon

Author of Unlovable, Unbelievable, Not So Easy and more)

Young Marigold Yarrow has a secret. She’s also in love with Jack Mahoney. In the middle of her ninth grade year, Jack's family up and moves to Port Fare, New York, leaving the small town of Sugar Maple, West Virginia - and Marigold - far behind.

Nine years later Jack and Marigold meet again. They join forces to weed out the shady Abbott boys. The unscrupulous brothers are illegally selling moonshine near her home on Sugar Maple Ridge. And they'll do anything to get Marigold to leave the ridge. Anything. This time it may be magic that tears Jack and Marigold apart.

Purchase A Fantasy Christmas:

Barnes and Noble

A Fantasy Christmas blog

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

For a Great Cause!

Just a heads up: I'll be at the Jordon Commons in Sandy, Utah, at the free holiday boutique and family fun event from 10-6 in the Huston Event Room. Come see me and authors Stacy Lynn Carroll and Mikey Brooks and help us raise money for a fantastic cause.

The story behind it is just too sweet, which you can read about on my facebook page. Mikey, Stacy, and I all write different genres so there will plenty of books to choose from (also, friend and fellow author JR Simmons can't make it but he's sending copies of his novel for me to sell), along with games, gifts, prizes, silent auctions, and many vendors who, like me, are donating a portion of the proceeds for the day so a sweet little girl doesn't lose her aunt Kellee.

This event is totally free and will be a great time for families and friends to get ready for the holidays,  knowing we're helping a member of our community as we get a head start on shopping. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Frogs and Toads

I have a really unique connection with author Stacy Lynn Carroll. We didn't meet online, in a writer's forum or networking, which is how I've met most of my writer friends. We happened to work for the same amazing family as a nanny, so we spoke on the phone years ago, when she called me (the previous nanny) to make sure this particular family she was thinking of working for wasn't full of psychopathic axe murderers. Fast forward a little while, and we realized we both write. And our oldest daughters have the same unusual name.  I love having this connection with her--she's felt like an old friend from day one. 

So what better way to tell you about my sistah in writing and nannying than to celebrate the release of the second book in the Princess Sisters series? Frogs and Toads is out now! Stacy generously offered an excerpt for Oh, How Novel readers, and I have to say this book just looks fun. Check it out! 

Belle and her cousins have conquered their fears. Now as they navigate their way through the dating world, they start to see a "happily ever after" on the horizon. But when an unexpected school assignment forces them to examine their past, the Princess sisters realize they have a lot of questions about the fathers they've never met. Secrets are revealed, long lost family members are discovered, and now the girls must decide who belongs in their future and who should be kept in the past.

“Wait!  Shhhhhh!  It’s starting!”
Aurora and Ariel stopped talking mid-conversation and turned their focus to the TV.  Belle picked up the remote and turned up the volume as the theme song began playing a dramatic tune.  Without moving her eyes away from the screen, Cinderella passed a bag of peanut butter M&M’s to Snow White, who sat beside her on the couch.  Their eyes were completely glued to the screen during the opening scene of their new favorite show.
School had only started a few weeks ago, but this new teen drama filled every conversation in the halls between classes.  No one talked about anything else.  The cousins had turned it on the first night out of curiosity, and were instantly hooked.  Now, every Thursday night, a similar scene could be found in Belle’s basement as the girls gathered to laugh, gasp, and ogle at the super-hot teacher on the screen.  Then as soon as the first commercial started, the girls began talking again as if there had been no delay. 
“Oh, this show is so good!  Why do they have to ruin everything with dumb commercials?”
“To make us anticipate what’s coming even more.”
“We could always set the DVR to record Locker Partners, and just watch it later. That way we could fast forward the commercials,” Snow White suggested.
Ariel looked at her like she had gone crazy.  “And just stare at the clock for an hour while we wait for it to record? Are you insane?!”
“I dunno you guys, I think I can make it through some lousy commercials to get to see Lucas Ferreira for an hour,” Aurora stated.
Her cousins all nodded with enthusiastic agreement.  Then the show came back on and the room went silent once again.  The scene opened with Mr. Ferreira himself, leaning over a beautiful blonde student as he helped with her writing assignment.  The girls simultaneously sighed, not one of them noticing the others, as they all wished for a Freaky Friday moment to transport them into that girl’s shoes.  Everything from his tan skin to his dark hair and eyes reflected his Latino roots.  But his flawless American accent indicated he was second generation.
His character grinned down at the student when she found success, revealing his perfect white teeth, embellished by a dimple on the right side.  His dark, long lashes winked right into the camera during a close-up shot and Snow White actually giggled.  She quickly covered her mouth in embarrassment, looking around, but her cousins were too lost in his charming voice to notice.
When the show went to another commercial break, the girls were quickly broken free of their trance and resumed conversation.
 “What do you think it would be like having a teacher like that?”
“Oh, I would definitely pay better attention in school if all my teachers looked like Lucas Ferreira!” Aurora said emphatically.
“I dunno,” Belle paused.  “I think I would be daydreaming so much, I’d probably fail all my classes!”
“Only one way to find out,” Ariel piped in.  When the others looked at her quizzically she continued.  “You’re friends with a lot of the student body officers, just get them to put in a request to hire Lucas Ferreira as the new English teacher, Belle.”
            Cinderella and Aurora both launched pillows in Ariel’s direction, who laughed in return.
“If only I had that power!” Belle replied, laughing.
Then the show returned with its final climatic minutes, filled with cliff hangers to keep the viewers wanting more, and insuring their return next week.
Mary came walking down the stairs after getting off work and paused at the bottom step.  “Hey Belle, I need you to−”
“Shhhhh!” all five girls shouted.
“Well, this must be some show!” Mary said more quietly.
“Hold on Mom, you haven’t seen the best part yet,” Belle said.  “There!” she pointed to the screen as the gorgeous actor appeared.  “Isn’t he great?”
Mary stood frozen to the spot.  Usually she was the first to agree with the girls when it came to cute guys, and her sudden silence caused them all to turn in their seats.
“Mary?” Cinderella asked.  “Is something wrong?”
“He…” Mary started, but couldn’t finish.  Her brain wouldn’t form the right words.  She reached out for the handrail and sat slowly on the bottom step, never taking her eyes off the screen.
“He plays one of the high school teachers,” Ariel said, looking at Mary quizzically.  “His name is−”
“Luke Ferreira,” Mary finished, breathlessly.  She could feel the room spinning around her and was glad she had chosen to sit.
Belle looked at her mother curiously.  “Yeah, how did you know?”
“Because,” Mary answered, pointing at the TV, “that is your father.”

Looks fun, right? Don't forget to snag your copy of book one, The Princess Sisters, while you're at it! 

About the author: Stacy Lynn Carroll has always loved telling stories.  She started out at Utah State University where she pursued a degree in English, learned how to western swing, and watched as many of her fellow students became ‘True Aggies’.  She then finished her BA at the University of Utah where she got an emphasis in creative writing.  After college she worked as an administrative assistant, where she continued to write stories for the amusement of her co-workers.  When her first daughter was born, and with the encouragement of a fortune cookie, she quit her job and became a full-time mommy and writer.  She and her husband have three children, two Corgis, and a fish named Don