A tumultuous July come and gone. And I… must… write….

So, I won’t bore you with my medical issues or depression that overtook July and somehow put it in a time warp because I am shocked by how fast, and yet incredibly slow, July passed. 

The writing that was making such great strides came to a shuttering halt and has not really picked up yet.  But today I have hope.  I’ve made some changes in my life, both physically and mentally so that I am in a much better place.  Can I just say exercise is hard, I’m not a fan, I’m doing it anyway, but boxing is fun.  

I can only think I am taking my story in a wrong direction or I’m in the wrong POV currently because otherwise, the writing would be happening.  So, I’m going to try changing the POV and see if that helps.  If not, I’ll have to reassess the story line.  There should be no excuse for why I cannot finish this short story.  It’s a SHORT story.  I know they can be harder to do well – but even getting a rough draft done would be a huge accomplishment at this point. 

I have noticed that I use my email and the internet as excuses to not write.  I think I should schedule time for that and only indulge in it at those times.  If I was being smart, it would not be first thing in the morning since I am most productive then.  And yet somehow, it’s the first thing I do and then hours pass and I’ve done nothing.   This is my job.  My only damn job and I would fire me if I was my boss.  So, I need to pull my head out, go to work and make ny boss proud.  I am an over-achieving competitive person by nature, so I need to use that to my benefit instead of indulging my lazy, apathetic side. 

Keep me on my toes, my friends.  Dog me if I’m not working.  Challenge me.  And I’ll challenge myself as well.  If you need the favor returned – let me know.  Thanks

 

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Filed under Life thoughts, Writing in general

And on we go…

So, after the crushing blow to my writing and ego – which I’m glad to say I got over pretty quick – I am back to the writing and the new stuff has passed muster.  Published friend was amazed at the improvement and so we soldier on. 

I will say, it has been interesting to see the changes in my writing and in myself as I take this journey.  Both, me and my writing, are more open, more expressive, more emotionally honest and more vulnerable.  All good things to the new and improved us.

It’s possible, writer friends.  Not easy, but possible  🙂

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Interview with author Sarah Mäkelä

“Techno Crazed” by Sarah Mäkelä

I hope ya’ll will help me welcome author Sarah Mäkelä  whose

book, Techno Crazed, will be released June 17th.  Hint: that’s a mere two days away!
 
I’m totally loving this cover…. can we say H-O-T?

Without any further lead up – let’s talk to Sarah.

Who are some writers that have inspired you as a writer and/or a reader?

SM: The authors that have inspired me to write and delve into my chosen genres are Laurell K. Hamilton and Christine Feehan.

 What do you like to read outside your genre?

 SM: Holly Lisle says, “If you wrote the book you want to read, you should enjoy reading the book you wrote.” So, I guess it’s no surprise that I mostly read within my genre. When I do step outside of the genres, I read all kinds of things. A lot of writers resources, some non-fiction books on topics I enjoy, and the other genres of romance, fantasy, etc.

 What’s your writing process? Pantser/Plotter/somewhere in between?

 SM: I’m definitely somewhere in between. Kind of. Certain projects swing certain ways. Some manuscripts are flat-out pantsed, and some I have an outline for. Techno Crazed had a general outline that I used as a road map to make my way to The End, but I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen all throughout the book. What affects my process, and how do I decide which book to do which way? It comes down to how much time I decide to allot for planning before jumping in to write.

 What was the genesis for this book?

 SM: I’d seen articles and other things mentioning cyberpunk before, but I thought it was a little out of my league. But then, there was an anthology call for submissions asking for cyberpunk novellas. I figured, “What the heck. It’s only novella-length.” So I brainstormed a story, wrote it out, and later found a home at Changeling Press.

 What’s one thing fans might be surprised to learn about you?

 SM: Fans? I have those? *grins* Just kidding. I’m not sure if this is surprising, but I love cold weather and snow. Winter is my favorite season.

 I really like snow and winter too 🙂

Now for some quickies:

Favorite book? Wow, I’ll have to go with favorite series instead. Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series, Karen Chance’s Cassie Palmer series, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, and Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series.

Favorite author? I love all of the ones listed above, but if I had to go with one, it’d be Ilona Andrews.

Favorite food? I really like Mexican and Italian food. A good steak rocks too.

Favorite TV show? My favorite TV shows are Supernatural, Damages, Tudors, Criminal Minds, and Ghost Adventures.

Favorite movie? I can’t think of any favorite movies. I’ve seen a ton of them. I’d say ones that are at the top of the list are The Hangover, Taken, the Transporter movies, and From Paris with Love.

Favorite writing activity? If I’m on a roll, I love writing. I also enjoy brainstorming and figuring out my next story.

Favorite non-writing activity? I love traveling, video games and computer games, and playing with my kitties.

Anything else you want to share?

 SM: Thank you for the great interview!

 If you’re interested in a chance to win a copy of Techno Crazed, make sure to sign up for my newsletter. I’ll announce the winner in it on 6/24.

Find me online at:

Website: www.sarahmakela.com

Blog: http://blog.sarahmakela.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/sarahmakela

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorsarahmakela

 Also, here’s an excerpt from Techno Crazed, which will be available on June 17th. Enjoy!

 Excerpt:

 A loud, metallic click sounded from the other side of the room. Then footsteps raced around the couch. 

“Hannah? Are you okay?” Ian’s voice drew her gaze to his concerned face. 

“What did you do? What are you?” She gulped, unsure if she wanted an answer to that.

He frowned, and a muscle clenched in his jaw. “I’m a technomage. I use and simulate magic through technology.”

“What?” She pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. Pain formed at her temples. “Whoa. How long have you… ?”

“Since puberty. My mother was also a technomage.” He shrugged a shoulder. “It’s always been part of who I am. I’m just pretty good at hiding it.”

She blinked. Wow, his mother had seemed so normal when she’d met his parents. Had she really known him? He seemed like a stranger. No, she wouldn’t throw away their memories together because he’d hidden part of himself. She wouldn’t do that to him. Or she’d try not to, at least. “Were you ever going to tell me? Like if things had progressed between us?” 

He helped her up and grabbed the blanket, keeping her covered. “I would have, eventually. Wouldn’t be nice of me to do otherwise, you know?”

She nodded and stared into his brown eyes. “I’ve missed you.”

He released a breath and rested his forehead against hers. “I’ve missed you too. God, I really screwed things up, didn’t I?” 

Placing her hand against his chest, she angled her face to brush her lips against his. “We both did.”

Ian ran his hand through her hair, cupping the back of her head before deepening the kiss. His mouth possessed hers like a thirsty man at a well. He always kissed hard and desperately, and she loved it.

Ian scooped her into his arms, making her feel desirable. He carried her into the bedroom and kicked the door shut. Crossing the room, he set her down and ran his hands over her neck, shoulders, and down to her hips.

“You’re so beautiful, Hannah. I missed out on a lot when –”

“Hush. Don’t think about that. We’re together now.” She drew his face down to hers, kissing him.

He held himself over her, obviously being careful of her wounded state. She appreciated that, but part of her didn’t care about the injury, she just needed him.

He stiffened and glanced over his shoulder, looking at the door. She followed his gaze to see the gnome peeking inside.

“Sorry to disturb the party. As much as I’d like to listen to you two HAVE SEX, there’s stuff to be done!” Bernard looked as happy as ever, and she so wanted to wipe that cheerfulness off his face.

Yet he was right. Damn it. She still needed to check out the donut shop. There was a possibility they might find evidence of a struggle that they could bring to the police. But hadn’t she heard a couple weeks back about someone spreading rumors of police involvement with MAX Home Security? Ian rolled next to her and placed his hands over his face. He let out a ragged sigh. “Fine. We’ll be out in a moment.”

“No more SEX!” The gnome slammed the door behind him.

“Why do you put up with him?” she asked.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you, Sarah, for visiting my blog.  I wish you luck on your release.

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Filed under Guest Bloggers

From the beginning, again

I’ve been a slacker lately and I suspect it has something to do with my frustration.  Every time I think I’m getting this writing thing down, I figure out how much more I need to learn. 

So, I’m starting a new story, and I had a few chapter written, and I let someone who is published and a terrific writer, read it.  She shredded it… and rightfully so.  I’m still skimming the surface with the emotions, I’m not answering the right questions, not giving the reader a reason to care and still telling when I should be showing.  GRRRRRR

After much discussion with my awesome CP (she may be having similar issues), I am going back to the beginning and working on my craft.  I realize this requires a lot of writing as well as reading and studying, but the writing doesn’t have to be what I hope to publish.  Probably better if it isn’t, so I can just worry about the craft and nothing else.  Currently, I’m working on the emotional depth – in me and my characters.  If I can’t get there in myself, how am I supposed to be able to do it for a character?  And while self-exploration is up there with chinese water-torture, it is necessary to my writing, so I’ll do it. 

I told someone the other day, nothing is more important to me than my writing and I meant it.  There’s a quote I have on a post-it on my desk (can’t remember who said it), but I’ll paraphrase: Remember, they said it would be hard.  This is what hard looks like, but you can do it. 

Stay the course on whatever your endeavors are, fight mediocrity, do what it takes and succeed.  I can do this.  So can you.

I’ll go through this with ya’ll.   And hopefully we’ll both figure out some stuff.  Next post on what I’m doing exactly.

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Filed under The Craft of Writing

The great, the okay and the terrible

I read avidly, rabidly, voraciously – however you want to phrase it.  And though I now have gotten to the point where I will just stop reading a book because it is bad (saving much time, thank you), I am still blown away that something as bad as what I was reading managed to get published in the first place.  I learn lessons from bad writing – ya’ know, examples of what NOT to do.   But I still sit there, saying “Really?  Really, that got published?  How?”

Last year, I began a spreadsheet of all the books I read.  Curiosity… more than anything else.  I also have one for all the movies I watch, but movies are my special weakness.  Nevermind that though, back to books.  So, I have now begun noting not just the author and title but also the publishing house.  If I see a trend with a publisher, like every book I read from them is only okay at best and terrible at worst, then that is not a publisher I want to ever submit to.  It’s kind of eye-opening.  Writers – look at this… really.

Every writer has particular publishers or agents or editors that are their dream place/person to work with.  I am no different, but now I also have a list of publishers, agents, editors I want to avoid because I don’t think they are doing their job well or some of the stuff I’m reading wouldn’t be available. 

I have nothing against self-publishing.  I think lots of good stuff gets published that way, but I also know that the odds of it not being very good are also higher because no publisher, editor, or agent has vetted that piece of work.  So, when I get something that has been self-published I go into it with lower expectations and that thought in mind. 

If I read a book that has been published through a publisher whether they are big or small, I expect that an agent or editor or both saw merit in this work and the publisher agreed with them.   Even the stories that are okay – not great, not even good,  just okay – make me wonder.  With as much talent as is out there, why are these pieces being promoted?  I don’t get it.  In all fairness, it’s a really small number of publishers I’m seeing this from, and a really small number of books that are just so bad I can’t even finish them, but more worrying is the plethora of ‘just okay’ writing that is also out there.   ‘Just okay’ is not good enough.

I’m not an advocate for or against the big five/six publishing houses, I’d love to be an author with one of them.  I also appreciate all the smaller publishers that are opening up opportunities for authors.  I like that we can just go self publish with a vanity press or post something on Amazon and hope it takes off.  But I don’t like mediocrity or outright crap, and I’m seeing more of it than I care to admit.  

I work very hard to write the best I can and improve daily.  And, I hope that I will be published soon, but I don’t want to publish something that someone will find so awful they can’t finish it.  Is it subjective – sure.  But if you are reading/writing in a genre you know you like – and you don’t like a particular book – it’s either the story didn’t resonate or the writing  is just not good.  I don’t have to love every book I read, but I do want to at least think the writing is good even if the story didn’t grab me.   Both were novellas, both were published, both were romance, yet one was great and one was so bad I couldn’t finish it.  This makes me sad.  Go read or write my friends, the rant is over…

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Filed under From this Reader's perspective, Writing in general

A Writing Retreat

So, when I first knew my local RWA chapter was having a Spring retreat for our writers, I can’t say I was super excited about attending, but felt I needed to go because I’m part of the board.  I can’t write when I’m around people, so I figured it’s not going to be a productive weekend, but once again – boy was I wrong.  Those who know me, know that me being wrong is not uncommon. 

I am rooming with four other writers, two I had never met before and two I know well.  I’m having the best time, not just with these four incredible and open women, but with the other twenty women in attendance.  We are having conversations I wouldn’t have expected, getting to know each other better, and finding kinship.  We are a diverse group from all walks of life talking writing, relationships, life, and ideas.  I feel rejuvenated, inspired, motivated. 

Writing can be a solitary activity and we need to connect once in a while, we need to re-evaluate why we write, and know that while we as writers create alone, we are also part of a bigger community that is supportive and helpful.  Romance writers are a true community that support each other, celebrates each other’s successes, and knows that success for one is success for all.  

The personal journey I am currently on is because I want to be a better writer.  Things I won’t do for myself or others, I am willing to do for my writing.  I am grateful that I felt compelled to be here, because it has been an experience I will remember.  And I’ll be back.  It’s not just networking, it’s building relationships, learning new things, and bonding with creative others whose spirits understand my spirit.

Friends, if you have a chance to go to a retreat, writer or otherwise, do yourself a favor and do it.  Embrace the experience, open yourself to some creative, emotional, ideational pot stirring that spurs you to new concepts, and inspires you continue your down your individual path.

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Filed under Life thoughts, Writing in general

Review: “Hearts Through Time” by Marie Higgins

Hearts Through Time

Disclaimer:  A request went out and I responded – “Yes I’ll read and review your book.”  Said book was sent to me (free – thank you) and here is said review.

Marie Higgins, is a local author I’ve met, a lovely person, and the requestor in question.  So, what did I think?

First, let me say, I read the blurb and thought it sounded good.  THE BLURB:  When a beautiful woman claiming to be a ghost from 1912 appears in Nick Marshal’s new office and begs for help in solving her murder, he’s intrigued enough to consider her plea. A scandal that rocked Hollywood almost destroyed his law practice, so taking on a client who insists she’s dead seems a good way to refresh his career. The more history he uncovers, the deeper he falls for the ghost. Abigail Carlisle believes Nick is her heart’s true desire, but how can happily ever after happen when she’s already dead?

It does sound good, right?  Yes and no…. for me.

I like my romance steamy, the steamier and more explicit the better, so while I found the premise intriguing and the writing just fine, I personally had a hard time getting really involved in it because the romance is clean – squeaky clean.  As it should be, since Marie is a christian romance writer and that is the type of romance she writes.  I did not realize this when I volunteered but that’s bad on me.  I am not her target audience. 

If you are into clean, sweet romance then this will be right up your alley.  The premise is cool.  I wasn’t sure how you get a happy ever after with a ghost, but Marie manages it deftly.  There is a murder mystery going on that bring our hero and heroine together and the suspense is handled well.  It took a long time for me to figure out whodunnit and why.  Marie has some beautifully descriptive passages as well.  On the marketing side, I will often buy books (or at least seriously consider them) based on the cover alone, and this one is gorgeous.  So, as I said – if you like your romance clean, you’ll like this.  If you want some sex in there, this is not the book for you.

I thank Marie for the opportunity to read her book and review it.

You can find more info on Marie here:  Marie Higgins  and you can buy Hearts Through Time at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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Filed under Reviews