Archive for the 'My Bloggie' Category

01
Oct
08

6 Questions with Maggie Stiefvater

I think Maggie Stiefvater must have very fierce faeries, because she is not afraid of my manuscript zombie. Fierce Faeries! *thumbs up* To meet the fierce faeries, comment!

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

I would definitely rank myself at least a solid 8. I mean, a year ago, before I had any novels under contract, I was definitely a 6-7 on a good day, and now, having four novels under contract and working on editorial revisions for two at the same time has only pushed that number up.

I battle the insanity with sweet tea and cookie dough, and it seems to be working. Or maybe it’s just making me too hyper to notice that it’s not working. It helps that I have a very tolerant/ supportive husband. Without the tea, cookie dough, and my fearless companion-in-life, the men in the clean white coats would definitely be taking me away soon.

2. Have you always written and painted? Or did one come before the other?

Yeah, I was always a compulsive doodler and storyteller. I still remember sitting with my brother playing with our toy horses and before we sat down to actually play, he would ask, “What’s the ‘way’?” Way meaning plot. I had to plot out the rough happenings of our characters before we could even get started.

And then I took over my dad’s old word processor and all was lost.

As for painting and drawing, suffice to say that one of my early habits that I had to work to get rid of was drawing in the air with my finger. When no one was around and I had no paper to occupy myself, I’d draw figures in the air with my finger, practicing facial expressions and shapes. Yep, I was possibly even crazier back then.

3. Will we see a book written and illustrated by Maggie Stiefvater any time soon?

Actually, yes, though not in the way you were thinking. I have a weekly original short fiction blog (http://www.merryfates.com) with my friends and fellow writers, Brenna Yovanoff and Tessa Gratton, and at the end of this year, we’re collaborating on an anthology of the best stories from the blog this year. Nothing formal, but it will definitely have a couple internal drawings by yours truly and of course a third of the short stories will be mine.

One of these days, though, I would like to do a graphic novel. I’m a sucker for the art of J. W. Waterhouse and Maxfield Parrish and I’d love to do something fantastic and gorgeous like that. One of my favorite books growing up was a lushly illustrated version of King Arthur with all the squicky bits left in.

4. We all have a well for creativity. Do you have separate ones for art and for fiction? Does doing more of one mean less ‘creativity’ left over for the other?

I think the answer for this is sort of yes, sort of no. To a certain extent, I think that when one creative pursuit is going well, your other creative pursuits tend to go well too. So in that case, the art helps the writing, or vice versa. But sometimes, if I’m doing something really intensive – like working on a rough draft – I find that I’m just too mentally beat to start working on another creative pursuit.

5. And you’re a musician as well! Many writers have soundtracks for each of their books, songs that especially speak to the story they are telling. How about you?

Oh, absolutely. Not only do I tend to write songs to go along with my novels, I also listen to music 100% of the time while I’m writing. I burn CDs of songs that fit the mood of the novel and label them as such. For instance, I have ‘Homicidal Faerie Mix,’ ‘Angst Etc.,’ Wailing Atmospheric Females,’ and ‘Relentlessly Cheerful’ sitting on my desk right now, for four different novels. I can’t really seem to concentrate on writing unless I have music playing.

6. Since you first made your name as an artist, did it make it easier for you to put your fiction out in the world?

I think so. Actually, I put myself out musically before I started really displaying my art or sharing my writing, so that really broke down the barriers. Because I played the bagpipes, and you just don’t get much more public with your abilities than with an instrument that is as loud as a fire engine. Also, I had siblings that read over my shoulder all the time – I started the submission process with a far thicker skin than a lot of people, I think. It’s a fine line to walk between having a big enough ego to not get beaten down by rejection or easily swayed by subjective opinions and having an ego so big that you don’t keep learning or take note when you hear the same sorts of criticism over and over again.

Maggie Stiefvater @LJ and @website. Lament is coming to a bookstore near you!

If you’d like a signed copy, however, comment! Tell us why fierce faeries will beat up manuscript zombies!

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15
Sep
08

6 Unspectacularly Quirky Things? Only 6?

I’m kidding about the second part.

As always, Nadia Lee is the Queen of Evil.

  1. I fiddle with fonts for every project. Fiction, non-fiction etc. The only one that goes untouched are my blogs, and that may not last for very long.
  2. I always have to read library books first. No matter how many hundred books I have in my TBR pile.
  3. I like chewy things, like mitarashi dango and caramels and toffees and glutinous rice balls.
  4. I like sashimi and sushi, but I don’t particularly like salmon or maguro. My current favorite is nama hotate.
  5. I speak a number of food languages, but only 1 fluently and another kind of in the sense that I sound like a native speaker even if I don’t read like one.
  6. I don’t believe in Wikipedia but I do believe in the power of the wiki.

Because I am the Queen of Evil’s chief councillor, I must tag people. Therefore, I tag you, you, you, you, you and you

01
Sep
08

MG Braden Comes To Town

She cheated. I wouldn’t give her questions, and guess what she does? She cheats and gets the Divas to give her some. *tosses severed hands at her*

Mock her for her cheating, and you could win a copy of Harmony!

When May said I could guestblog I had no idea what to talk about so I asked people to tell me what they’d what to know about. Here are the questions they asked:

What were your struggles when you started writing for publication and how did you over come them?

When I started my struggles mostly involved juggling family time with writing. At the time I started writing seriously, for publication, I became pregnant and experienced a difficult pregnancy. That sidetracked me for a while, but then when my youngest was a few months old I came back to it and my first published story was written with him in my lap. Really, it’s just been a matter of finding time for everything. I’m not really sure I’ve over come anything, some days are easier than others. My family has to come first, especially because my kids are so young right now.

How do you deal with writer’s block or do you think there is such a thing? I totally believe there is such a thing. It is hard. My worst was last year when I went three months without writing anything. I was miserable, but I just couldn’t write. The well was empty and I didn’t really know why. I just kept in touch with my CP and hung out with Romance Divas for inspiration. It finally came back. Thankfully I wasn’t on contract at the time, although I tend to work better under stress and when work is due, so hopefully that won’t be a problem.

Why are you the way you are?

Because God made me this way.

What is the nastiest, dirtiest non-writing job you’ve ever had and do you think it contributed to you becoming a writer?

For me it was being a busser at busy restaurant where the kitchen was downstairs. We had to haul trays of dishes, cutlery etc. up and down those stairs without killing ourselves or breaking anything. I know that’s not necessarily nasty, but it was dirty. And I didn’t last long at it, so I don’t really think it contributed much of anything to my life, let alone writing. I waitressed for a long time and was much more suited to that. I love people-watching and working at restaurants provides a great venue for that. People-watching contributes a lot to my writing.

When you write do you keep pictures of your heroes and your heroines in front of you?

Nope. They’re in my head.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

A pantser for sure.

How would you describe a typical writing day?

I have three kids aged 2-9, there really is no typical writing day for me at the moment, but mostly it would start at 9pm when my house is quiet. When I’ve got something due then I try to write between 9 and 11pm every day and then whenever I can catch some time throughout the day.

Is there anything you have to have on your desk or you can’t write? And I don’t mean a computer.

Duh. LOL Coffee!

If you could choose just one, would you rather win the National Book Award, a Nobel prize, or be on Oprah for something unrelated to your writing? And we aren’t sayin’ what!

Wow – well, I’m not really eligble for the National Book Award because I’m Canadian, but I’d probably pick that if I was. Otherwise, Oprah, for something unrelated to writing.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’m not sure I could just choose one. I choose different things from different people. But, I guess, if I had to choose just one, it would be Imogen Howson. She is brilliant with world-building and description/narratives. She puts words together in a way that makes them magical and she’s a grammar goddess.

What book are you reading now?

I just finished Lara Adrian’s Midnight Awakening.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I need to work on descriptions more. I love dialogue and I like the pace to move along. When I read I don’t like a lot of filler, so I tend to write that way, but sometimes you need descriptions—you need more information.

You write within a few romance sub-genres. How do you think that affects your writing? Are any of the sub-genres the one you aspired to write?

I honestly didn’t intend to do that. I honestly write what I am called to write. What I mean is, the story in my head evolves the way it evolves and I let it. At the base, everything I write is contemporary romance. What I actually aspired to write was romantic-suspense, but my voice seems to be lighter than that requires. I like to read gritty romantic-suspense, but I just don’t have a dark voice. I’ve learned to accept what my voice calls for and am slowly finding what works for me.

How did you get so tall? Can I have some?

It’s my genes! And I’ll Fedex you some.

I think this is srsly unfair. I’m her sister. How come I’m so short? I throw more severed hands than she does. I should be taller!

Seriously, does the butterfly (in your banner) have significance to you or is it just pretty?

It’s all about the emergence of me as a writer and how I coccooned and… No, really, it’s just pretty! LOL

What is your favorite cheese?

Brie

If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be? why?

Probably on the beach in Mexico, because I would really rather do anything on a beach in Mexico. LOL Truly, I am lucky to have a great office to write in at home, where I can look at the trees, squirrels and nature in my backyard. Sometimes, I wish I had walls so that I could shut out the household noise, but otherwise I’m good.

Michelle (MG) Braden is the author of several contemporary romances, the latest of which is also a paranormal. Vampire Oracle: Harmony cover Vampire Oracle: Harmony was released by Cobblestone Press on August 1, 2008.

You can find out more about the book at http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/books/harmony.htm and more about Michelle at http://www.mgbraden.com

And so. Giveaway. Harmony. One lucky winner, one vampiric copy. It’s gonna suck your soul out into its pages. *nods* That’s why I haven’t read it yet. Not sure I have one, but if I have a soul, I wanna keep it. So comment if you dare!

25
Jul
08

6 Questions with Justine Musk

I have been looking forward to the release of Lord of Bones ever since I found out that there would be a sequel to Bloodangel. And now it’s out, though I’ve been unlucky thus far in my search for a copy. That’s mostly why I’m going to giveaway an ebook copy of Uninvited.

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

Oh God. I’d say I’d range from 7 to 15, depending on the day. I’m going through some tough stuff right now that I’d love to blog about but as a favor to the other party involved will keep entirely private unless given a reason not to. Ahem.

2. Lord of Bones is being released almost three years after your debut with Blood Angel. Care to share us the story of what happened during the interim?

This is kind of a two part answer, so first: My husband and I decided to try and give our twin boys a little baby sister. So again we did the IVF route, this time with sex selection, and instead of one girl ended up with triplet boys. I kid you not. It seems the sex-selection process was faulty. Thankfully my husband is one of those visionary genius types whose talents tend to meet with extraordinary financial rewards, so we have all the help we need – like they say, it takes a village, in this case a village of nannies – but I wrote the first two drafts of Lord of Bones in the last trimester of pregnancy and then while recovering from a C-section, which meant I wrote while stoned on painkillers. I was also nursing the triplets, whom the baby nurses would bring me one at a time, during which I would somehow tap away at my laptop with my iPod plugged into my ears. Not surprisingly, the draft turned out to be terrible. Terrible. I had to throw out about three quarters of it and start over – so instead of a final rewrite I was basically writing a whole new book. On top of that, I had surgery to correct the kind of damage that twins and triplets will do to you physically, no matter how fit you are or how successfully you manage to lose the baby weight. I had a massive hernia, so my stomach muscles had to get stitched back together, and recovering from that took the longest of all. And, of course, more painkillers.
The second part is a lot less dramatic – for whatever reason I went through kind of a dry spell. Writing became difficult and the ideas just weren’t there. I hadn’t really thought of the story beyond BLOODANGEL, except for a few things I knew about the characters and their mysterious connections to each other. The sequel just took an extremely long time to come together, possibly because this time I really was thinking in terms of an actual series and how each book could still be a complete saga on its own while still leading into the next one. In sharp contrast to that, I expect to finish the next book in the series – tentatively called SOULSTICE – within a few months. I knew from the beginning where I need to go with this one.
So while wrestling with story ideas for LORD OF BONES, I went ahead and wrote UNINVITED, which became my second published novel with a different publisher. It was an idea I’d been kicking around since high school and really wanted to get out of my head. I also felt the need to write something short and fast-paced – the kind of book you could finish on an airplane ride – after the epic multiple-perspective plot of BLOODANGEL.

3. Last year, you published a young-adult novel with MTV, Uninvited. At least for me, it was very different, and not simply because it’s a young adult novel. If it didn’t say Justine Musk on the cover, I would not have thought you wrote it. It just reads so differently. It doesn’t read like a YA novel for me either, except that Kelly is in the right age group. So what do you think makes a novel a YA novel versus something else?

It’s interesting that you would say that – UNINVITED is in many ways a book I wrote to and for my much younger self, the same self who dreamed up that story in the first place. Although the villain in that book – who became one of my favorite characters, actually, and I plan to use him again at some point – was in some ways a rehearsal for the villain in LORD OF BONES (although he is a much more dangerous piece of work and not someone I’d ever want to encounter in any way under any circumstances whatsoever).

Some readers really love that book and some readers don’t. BLOODANGEL tends to elicit that kind of reaction too – for the most part the response was extremely positive, but there are readers out there who just hated it. I also have a few friends who just couldn’t handle BLOODANGEL because they found the opening chapters too intense and scary. But at the same time they really did want to read something of mine, so they were happy (or maybe relieved) to get UNINVITED, which one of those friends not only whipped through but emailed me an ongoing commentary of the experience. It was worth writing the book just for that.

In my mind UNINVITED was always a young adult novel, maybe because the protagonist is a teenager and it’s a coming-of-age story, as YA novels usually tend to be in one way or another. And YA novels tend to be short and maybe a bit more linear than adult novels, although certainly not always. Other than that, I never saw much of a difference. Especially in this genre. In fact, when I was a teenager there really weren’t any YA supernatural thrillers – it was mostly realist or problem novels or romances – so you had to ‘read up’ into adult fiction if that kind of genre was what you wanted. And I did.

In fact, it turns out there’s so much reader crossover, or at least seems to be – so many adults telling me they enjoyed UNINVITED and so many teens passing around copies of BLOODANGEL– that there doesn’t seem to be much of a point labeling me one thing or the other. Which is one of the things you learn after you publish – who your audience is, which is not always the audience you expected. For example, I was surprised (and delighted) to hear from so many guys who read my first book. I thought my audience would be mostly female, which doesn’t seem to be the case at all. Which maybe shouldn’t have surprised me so much, given that I actually do write from the perspectives of several male characters, but still. I also didn’t realize that Ramsey would be by far the most popular character, or that the demon Del, who appears very briefly, would get such a great response from readers that I actually went out of my way to figure out how to include him in the next books. Which I’m really glad I did, because he brings a neat dimension to the tale.

4. Since you have twin boys of your own, do you have any insight as to why people are often so fascinated by them? It’s such a common trope in fantasy that I swear that every writer must have written about twins or have an idea filed away somewhere starring twins.

Heh. I’m not immune to that – I play a little bit with the twins trope in LORD OF BONES and when I was a teenager I wrote a novel about twins who can communicate telepathically with each other, and then one of them gets kidnapped. As the mother of twins, I can say that it’s just a neat relationship to watch unfold. There was never a time when either twin knew life without the other – I have a photograph of the two of them, 4 years old, watching TV together on the edge of my bed. The photo is of their backs and how their seated bodies just fit so neatly and nonchalantly into each other, like pieces of a jigsaw. I think it’s that idea of closeness, of intimacy, that really fascinates – it seems natural to imagine that that kind of knowledge of each other extends into the preternatural – they know each other’s thoughts, have a mysterious mode of communication, that kind of thing. Or that they come into the world already made complete by each other. We’re kind of a lonely species, when you get down to it – trapped inside ourselves. The idea of twinship opens up this possibility that maybe there’s this alternative way of being. So behind the sheer fun of the idea – the cool image of it – I think there’s some wish-fulfillment involved about being that strongly connected to another person…or even just the narcissistic fantasy of having this other you walking around.

5. One of the reasons why your blog is such a good read because it’s a mix of you and the people you see, meet etc. Do you think the whole ‘writers are boring’ thing is a cliché, or true most of the time?

Thank you! The blog kind of took on a life of its own. I really thought it would be much more of a writer’s journal, talking about craft, etc. , and maybe it will become more that way. But I’ve always enjoyed describing the people and events I see around me – observing, analyzing. When I was an exchange student in Australia or away at college I would write extremely long, detailed letters to a small handful of individuals. Which is probably, I realize now, when I first started to develop what eventually became the voice of the blog — it’s a very different voice from my novels, influenced by a different group of writers, the sharp-witted social observers like Edith Wharton or F. Scott Fitzgerald or a much more contemporary favorite, Paul Theroux. There’s a part of me that was always drawn to that kind of writing, of bearing witness. So landing in this life in Los Angeles and blogging about the less-private parts of it was inevitable, I think, and took my ‘writer’s journal’ in a completely different direction.

What I want to do at some point is bring both those voices together – the blog voice, the dark-thriller voice – in some fiction. There are a couple of novels I’m planning that are set in an LA milieu based on the one described in my blog and I think those will be a lot of fun. Although I still need to soak up more of LA and the people here and creatively digest my experiences a little more to get some really compelling fiction out of it.

Do I think writers are boring? Not at all. I’d much rather listen to a writer or director talk about a movie than any of the actors who starred in it… a successful writer is someone who spends a lot of time reading and really thinking things through and has the ability to take a personal experience and make it interesting and relevant to other people by finding the universal aspect of it. In contrast, I’ve met people who have lived through experiences that seem so amazing and fascinating…if only they could process, analyze and express those experiences in an interesting way. You can lead an extremely exciting life and still manage to bore the crap out of people…I think the reason why writing about writers has gotten such a bad rap – to the point where one of the ‘rules’ of making fiction is that you’re not, apparently, supposed to write about a character who writes fiction — is because it’s so easy to do it so badly. When it’s done well, I think it’s great. Stephen King wrote one of his best books, MISERY, about a writer, the process of writing…. Writers are a quirky breed with some truly wild inner lives. There’s nothing boring about that.

6. You are one of the most mysterious authors I’ve ever interviewed who has an online presence. If you had to write your bio in five minutes, what would you write?

Here’s the bio I just wrote – in a hurry – for the San Diego Comic Con:

Justine Musk grew up in Ontario, Canada and started writing at age eight when her parents refused to buy her a dog. She entered her self-conscious and perilous adolescence planning to be either an actress, a vet, or a writer of fine literature like the Sweet Valley High novels.

Then she discovered Stephen King.

Thanks partly to a less-than-stellar social life, Justine wrote her first few novels before graduating high school. She attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where she was rejected — twice — from the school’s lone creative-writing workshop, which she didn’t want to join anyway. Really. After living abroad in Australia and Japan she made her way west, as a young woman should, to California. She is the author of the dark-fantasy novels Bloodangel and Lord of Bones, about a race of men and women descended from fallen angels who go to war against demons, and sometimes each other, as well as the YA supernatural thriller Uninvited.

Justine lives and writes in Los Angeles, where she blogs about living and writing in Los Angeles. She also likes to Twitter.

I really do recommend reading her blog, and she’s quite fun on Twitter too–though I am also a Twitter addict and hence understand the liking Twitter part.

As to the contest, the usual rules apply. Comment to enter. Either way, go buy Lord of Bones! There’s going to be a third book!

22
Jul
08

Charlene Teglia Talks To Us: Wicked Hot…Behind the Scenes

I was trying to figure out how to introduce Charli when I stumbled on this. So instead of an introduction, we’re all going to beg her to come back and guestblog in sonnet form next year. *g* The most creative beggar wins a signed copy of Wicked Hot!

It’s always hard to know what to say about a book. There’s the obvious: Here’s the cover!

Charlene Teglias new book!

Charlene Teglia's new book!

And the blurb!

The struggle between good and evil is about to get…Wicked Hot

Edana is a succubus—a breathtakingly beautiful demon who offers men their most decadent fantasy in exchange for their souls. No one can get close to her without being destroyed..until she meets Eli and Dal. Both men are Nephilim, immortal warriors who bind and banish demons. Edana’s mission is to arouse their lust and steal their souls before they can destroy her—she never expects to fall in love. Shared by two virile lovers and lost in a world of sensation, Edana begins to fall for one of the warriors, jeopardizing her mission. Only he has power to save her, but first she must give him power over her heart—and her destiny…

But while covers are shiny (and this one has a hot nekkid guy) and blurbs are designed to catch a browser’s attention and get them to pick up a book, it doesn’t say much.

So there’s the book trailer to convey more of the mood and tone:

But what about the story behind the story? Er, well, I wanted to write a book set on Washington’s remote and rugged Olympic Peninsula. I wanted to write about Nephilim because they’re fascinating. And writing about a succubus heroine posed a lot of challenges. Writing a ménage relationship that ends in a traditional hero/heroine happily ever after posed even more challenges. I mean, if she spends the book sleeping with both of them, how do you pull off the believable romantic resolution?

To be blunt, this book gave me fits. It forced me to rethink and reinvent my process and change the way I write. It stretched me. It frustrated me. It delighted me. And in the end, it was a book I could look back on and say with satisfaction, “I did good work.”

Wicked Hot is erotic and fun and romantic and hopefully will entertain readers as much as it entertains me. Unless they are Barry Manilow fans. In which case, er, sorry, but come on, they WOULD punish people with Barry in hell.

Charlene Teglia‘s latest releases are Wicked Hot and the Naughty Nights anthology, in which you can find her story ‘Wolf in Shining Armor.’ At least she doesn’t have a pink cover to embarrass me with this time. *g*

She’s also giving away a copy of Wicked Hot, which is, indeed, Wicked Hot. You guys know the drill, comment and one lucky winner gets a signed copy.

14
Jul
08

Beta Reader

I’m not sure what it’s a sign of but I can’t remember a RTB post I’ve written that wasn’t gone over by somebody else before it went up.

Barb Ferrer got shanghaied into the job the last time.

Any volunteers?

I’m trying not to name names in this one, just because it seems rather mean and I’d rather not get flamed for this. If that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen here on this wee blog rather than over there, where I am Queen of my Domain (not exactly, since I think I’m going to postpone getting my own domain because it looks like it’ll be a massive PITA).

PS It’s not going to go up for awhile, but I usually have a dearth of ideas when it comes to relevant ideas for my column, so I might as well get it down whilst I can.

10
Jul
08

RTB day

I’m at Romancing The Blog today:

The Happy Ever After’s just lost its zing for me. I don’t read a romance and go all ‘awww….’ or ‘happy sigh’ when I turn the last page. It’s more of a ‘That’s it? That’s all?’ type of feeling.

I’m counting on people telling me I should stop writing from RTB to make my day.