Wednesday, December 31, 2008

LA in Seekerville Jan 2

Early Happy New Year! Just wanted to let everyone know I'll be hosting an interview with LA on the Seekerville blog on Friday, Jan 2! She's going to share all her knowledge of the screenwriting industry and more! Come join us!

Five Scribes Tout their Author Interviews Great Reviews

Author Crystal Green

4.5 Star Review from Romantic Times - Crystal Green's Good to the Last Bite (4.5) has the erotic pull of the vampire tale with a romance to sweeten the story.

Romantic Times - One for the Road (4.5), by Crystal Green, has a wonderful, wildly romantic, wounded hero; hot, sensual sex; complicated relationships; and a heartwarming plot.

Author Elaine Levine
4 Stars, Romantic Times

First-time author Levine draws on classic western themes and a rugged backdrop like a veteran of the genre. Her realistic characters leap from the pages yet never supersede the emotionally charged romance. The western is alive and well with authors like Levine.

Author Anna Louise Lucia ~ 4.5 Stars Romantic Times

"Good character development - Kier, especially, goes through a sea chance - and a riveting plot make RUN AMONG THORNS an excellent read. The first section of the book is devoted to the battle of wills and emotions between Kier and Jenny, the second the run for their freedom, maybe even their lives. I don't know which part is more intense or exciting, just that the action is non-stop. The addition of three important minor characters enhances the whole. One is a vacillating Agency employee, another is the ruthless man sent after Jenny and Kier, the third is Jenny's brother, an intriguing fellow in his own right. Give RUN AMONG THORNS a chance to thrill you; you'll be glad you did."

Also check out:

Jane Bowers, Romance Reivew Today:

Author Sylvia Rochester

Shadow of the Soul has all the potential elements needed to make is a successful Hallmark Movie Channel Award Winning feature. Sylvia Rochester, stand up and take a bow you have written a perfect masterpiece. These beloved characters will wrap their way around you heart and refuse to let go. This is a tale where you cannot stop once you start. I was so impressed with this author's story that I can't wait for the second installment in this highly addictive series. Very highly recommended.

Suzie Housley, Book Reviewer

Author Misty Evans ~ Rating: 4 Cups!

“This is a top notch romantic suspense…The characters in this story fulfill their roles perfectly, strong, heroic, and of course, dangerously sexy. Ms. Evans takes you on a wild ride, one that you will hate to see end. I will await her next installment of Super Agents with great anticipation.”

~ Reviewed by Loloty for Coffee Time Romance

Author Kylie Brant

4 Stars, Romantic Times

TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT (4) by Kylie Brant After three years on the run, Lindsay Bradford lands in Metro City, where things go against her mantra of no close ties. She makes friends with Dace and Jolie, who > turn out to be SWAT team members and set her up with colleague Jack Langley. The attraction between Jack and Lindsay is electric, something Lindsay can't afford. When she lands in a hostage situation, the past comes to her front door, and Jack's not about to let her face it alone. This addition to the Alpha Squad trilogy is filled with nonstop action and a couple with sizzle that zings right off the page. But at the core is a terrific story about a woman who's finally able to be herself after years of hiding both literally and figuratively.

Author Linda Wisdom

"With clever writing, a high sensuality factor and an unfettered imagination, Wisdom makes a sparkling entry into lite urban paranormals." Publisher's Weekly review of 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover

"Wisdom, no stranger to romance fans, delivers a striking opening salvo in her new paranormal series... a zany, hot read." Book List

"Longtime series author Wisdom makes a wickedly fun jump into the supernatural realm. Offbeat characters -- including Irma, the ghost who haunts Jazz's car -- offer insight into this highly intriguing new heroine. The balance of danger,adventure and the supernatural is excellent. With characters as rich and challenging as these, let's hope we haven't seen the last of them." Romantic Times

Author Denise Agnew

“Every book I have ever read by this talented author has grabbed me during the first engaging paragraph, and the strong pull only escalates with each new scene...Ms. Agnew has a gift for crafting breathtaking scenes, whether from distress or joy, and her talent is evident on every page of CLOSE QUARTERS.” Amelia,

“Bridge Through The Mist is a time travel novel with a bit of a different twist. I loved the attention to detail that was not overpowering but a quiet theme running behind the scenes throughout the book...The characters are very realistic. I had no trouble believing Alenna was a modern woman who suddenly found herself bound by the constraints of the early fourteenth century...secondary characters are so utterly alive they make this book a must read. I highly recommend Bridge Through The Mist.” Karen Hass, Just Erotic Romance Reviews

Author Stacia Kane

"Kane's clever story is packed with supernatural action and unique characters. The heroine has made some powerful enemies in the past, and they return with a vengeance. She also has a nice love interest going, and it zings with sexual tension. Surprises throughout keep tension and high and the pages turning as it all comes to a satisfying conclusion."
4 Stars, Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine

"From demonic bodyguards with accents that seem uncannily like Cockney at times to how sometimes shrinks are literally the tools of demons, Personal Demons is so much fun from start to finish. This story has plenty of playful tongue-in-cheek humor that doesn't derail the story into irreverence nicely balanced with some effective moments of scares, thus making it a most readable one. Megan is a nice heroine because she's realistically tough in a situation that she is out of depths in and she is a pretty smart one as well."
88 from Mrs. Giggles

Author Mark Henry

“Urban chic, sarcastic wit and cannibalism mesh in Henry’s riotous new take on the underworld….a truly unique and wildly warped tale!” –Romantic Times Book Reviews

“Marvelously unique…the fabulously original storyline will keep readers’ rapt attention from the first page. A beautifully bizarre and uproariously fun read.” –Darque Reviews

Author Sharon Mignerey

"For an equally good love story and mystery, be sure to pick up Sharon Mignerey's book."
4 Stars, Romantic Times Book Reviews

"One of your earlier Harlequin books, “Cassidy’s Courtship,” is a favorite of mine so when I saw this current book offered at eharlequin, it went into my ecart.... “The Good Neighbor” is a relatively short book that zips along but that doesn’t mean that I felt shortchanged. Megan and Wade are both vividly drawn characters who fit solidly into the story." - Jayne, Dear Author

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pumping Your Muse

My critique buddies know that, for the first time in my 11 yrs of writing, I've had trouble starting another book once I finished the last. In the past I ALWAYS finished polishing a story, selected a dozen favorite agents most likely to appreciate this story, submitted queries, and then immediately set about plotting and researching a new story--but not this year.

This time I was curiously besieged with a series of insecurities and worries that made me unable to happily settle on a new story. I lost my joy. I let worries and the business of writing steal my joy. I always said that I don't HAVE to write and when it's not fun any more, I wouldn't do it. The stories I did think of that fascinated me weren't in my current genre. I thought of a suspense and a YA story that seemed fun--but they certainly wouldn't help me build a women's fiction career. The lack of a story that gripped my interest made it not fun. Was it time to quit?

I'm NOT a quitter. In fact, I'm annoyed by the great rejections my past books continue to garner. I'm a self-proclaimed submission slut. Over the course of 5 books, I've earned more than 400 rejections! I currently have 4 agents considering one book and 2 editors and 2 agents considering another women's fiction book. I KNOW there's someone out there that will believe in my stories as much as I do and it's just a matter of time before I find them, but Lord the submitting can wear at your patience and confidence. So what's a writer to do? Write another story and get better at my craft.

But as the months passed, I could not settle on the perfect story. So what did I do? I gave myself permission to do something else. I concentrated on other creative outlets.

I gave my time to critiquing writer pals when asked. I spent more hours helping plan the Crested Butte Writers Conference (June 19-21, 2009). I worked with a landscaping friend and fueled my creativity with flowers and plants. I immersed myself in a new hobby that fascinated me--mosaics. My first effort at mosaics is pictured to the left, and for those of you who think like several of my family members, it's a BEAR. And bears do NOT have tails I can see --or feel in the case of my bear footrest, Jerome!

I had a lot of fun doing my mosaic. I can't wait to start my second project, and over the month it took me to complete it . . . I got my joy back! I settled on a new story, darker than any I've ever written, yet it absolutely fascinates me. I no longer CARE that it's more suspense than women's fiction or that it won't help with branding myself; it'll be fun and interesting to write and that's why I started writing in the beginning. Though it might not be the smartest move for my career (or it may turn out to be the start of my career) I'm going to write it--and have fun!

Then Christmas season rolled around and we got many lovely cards, but my critique buddies, LA & KL sent me bea-u-tiful homemade cards! Despite being under strict, self-imposed writing deadlines, they took the time to fuel their creativity in a different way--card making. So I'm not alone in needing more than one creative outlet. We are far more than just writers and this Christmas season, I'd like to celebrate that fact.

Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mother and daughter writing team explains their process

I met Kristina McMorris in Dallas the night of the Rita® and Golden Heart® Awards in 2007, where this GH finalist all but beamed from excitement. Later, I was honored when Kristina asked me to give her GH manuscript Flaherty's Crossing a beta read. Imagine my surprise when I learned she and her mother Linda Yoshida co-authored this book. From this point my curiosity peaked and I wanted to know more. Please join me in welcoming Kristina McMorris and Linda Yoshida to the Five Scribes. ~ Donnell

DB. Good morning, Ladies. This will be a first, since there are two of you and one of me. Kristina, of course, will be KM and Linda will respond by using LY. First, congratulations on your 2008 joint Golden Heart® final. This accomplishment is huge for a single writer, but for two of you? I think this may be a first. Has there ever been a mother and daughter writing team among the Golden Heart® finalists to your knowledge?

KM: Thank you so much for the warm wishes, and for inviting us to participate! I'm not aware of another mother-daughter Golden Heart® team; although I did hear about a husband-wife team from a few years ago. (Me, write with my mother? Definitely. My hubby? Um, I don't think so. LOL.)

As mother and daughter, as well as close friends, we were absolutely thrilled to have been recognized as 2008 GH finalists together. My mom had been, and continues to be, my greatest supporter; so after her attending the GH ceremony the year before, solely to cheer me on, I was extremely excited when I learned she would be receiving all that royal treatment firsthand! And actually living it out, fancy gowns and all, was nothing less than we had hoped the experience would be.

LY: I agree with Kristina about the husband-wife team. I heard about them from several GH attendees, but could never imagine surviving that kind of intense, working relationship. My admiration and respect goes out to them. It was hard enough just wallpapering an entry with my husband, let alone combining our thought processes. My daughter, on the other hand, is like a younger, improved version of myself. It’s been incredibly fun working together and sharing the amazing experience of being GH finalists.

DB: What a wonderful compliment to pay to your daughter, Linda. How cool. Kristina, no wonder you love this woman. As I mentioned, when I read Flaherty’s Crossing, I was surprised that I couldn’t tell where one voice began and the other ended (and believe me, I looked). Is there quite a bit of editing involved to accomplish this feat? Could you tell me about your process?

KM: The reason our writing blends so seamlessly is simple: I don't let her sneak a single word in. Just kidding! The truth is, we work together really well because we quickly identified our strengths and weakness, and found a way to complement each other. Typically, we brainstorm ideas (she is truly an idea goddess), then we divvy up research (she knows how to Google like no one's business). Once we've outlined our plot points and/or scenes, I write a draft of a single chapter. At the end of the day, I'll call her and read the scene aloud. She has an incredible ear for editing! Ninety percent of the time, (I sometimes admit begrudgingly) she's spot on. The next day, I'll reread the chapter, incorporate her changes, then move on to the next chapter/scene. And so on and so on, until we finish the book. Then the real work begins... the revision process. Ugh. At this point, while my mother rattles off all the ingenious ideas for new books that came to her in her dreams, it is then my job to calm/restrain her with a glass of wine and a reminder that writing a novel isn't what gets it published—editing is. LOL.

Five days a week, she then proceeds to arrive at my house just after I've deposited my kidlings at preschool, often with semi-healthy, drive-thru, brunch food in hand (yes, A&W Root Beer floats are considered semi-healthy!). She pulls up a comfy wingback chair, right next to me in front of my computer, and we dig in. I again read aloud, chapter by chapter, and we edit word by word, line by line, until we reach "THE END." I then go through the entire manuscript solo, calling her daily with story glitches, word choice questions, and research inquiries. Once we feel it's ready, we rent a hotel room with a couple of our closest friends, armed with two grocery bags filled with wine and snacks, and I proceed to read, yes, the whole darn novel aloud within two days for final tweaking. And somehow, though only Lord knows how, we still end up liking each other when it's all over!

LY: Okay, I admit to the libations. Some of my best ideas and romantic inklings actually come after a sip or two, or so I’d like to believe. And it can be tough at times to turn myself into a human thesaurus in order to conjure up “better” words while we’re sitting across from each other vigorously editing. My suggestions or words might get shot down from time to time, but after a little skin thickening, there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing your vision grow and develop into a viable story under the direction and fingertips of a talented writer.

DB: The dedication is obvious, the relationship remarkable and given what you go through libations, a must. I also like the idea of the hotel room, and, of course, reading out loud. Regarding your process, I read the writing process of another mother and daughter writing team, P.J. Tracy. These two women write thrillers, live several thousand miles from one another, and yet they appear very close. Kristina, you and Linda live in Oregon, and as you said, you see each other often. Could you talk about your brainstorming sessions? Where does the mother-daughter relationship end and the writing relationship begin?

KM: We only live twenty minutes apart, so writing together works great. I suppose our familial and literary relationships do blend. But because she is such a gifted editor, and has the patience of a saint, I can tell her things like, "Mother, no one would use that kind of dialogue in real life. Actually, no human would say that." And yet she still comes back for more abuse... mostly, I would imagine, because every once in a while I'll have to retract my insult and admit that she was completely right. The nice thing about working with your mother is that "You're right" can often substitute for "I'm sorry for telling you your dialogue sounded like an alien's." At least that's how it is for us, thank goodness. And, did I mention she brings root beer floats?

LY: So my frothy bribes make up for my failings? What a tease!

DB: Too cute, and I adore A&W Root Beer floats. Both of you have impressive backgrounds. Kristina, not only are you an author, but you’re also a highly educated, professional actress who was named one of Portland’s “Forty Under Forty” by the Business Journal. Linda, you have a long history in Oregon’s arts community, even to the point of being appointed by Governor John Kitzhaber to the Oregon Arts Commission. With everything going on in your lives, when did you discover you wanted to write a full-length novel, much less write one together?

KM: Well... I was pregnant with my second son at the time, so my hormone level was obviously at an all-time high, since it suddenly dawned on me that I should write a novel. Not because I'd been an English major, or a voracious reader (I only read nonfiction books at the time), or that I'd always dreamt of penning a book. Oh, no. Nothing that logical. I, in my infinite hormonal wisdom, had cried while watching The Notebook, discovered it was based on a novel—a debut novel that sold for a million bucks, I believe—and decided: Hey, I could do that! Um, yeah. Easy as pie. And why not? I was going to have all kinds of free time with a second child in the house, right? Uh-huh.

So within a day, blissful ignorance abounding, I outlined a novel inspired by my grandparents' WWII epistolary courtship, yet with a classic "what if" twist. Needless to say, the ms. has transformed, oh, a wee bit since that first draft. Now, of course... had I known how little I knew about the craft, let alone the industry, or how much intense research that particular war and era were going require (yep, it turns out some people out there are capable of issuing death threats if you don't get your WWII facts straight), I probably would have run screaming the other way. In this case, thank God for ignorance, because I couldn't imagine wanting to do anything else!

LY: In my case, I was writing up press releases for art exhibits on a regular basis,and while pulling out files from my office cabinet, I came across an old manuscript that I had attempted years earlier. It was sort of a mental therapy exercise that I had undertaken after witnessing my father’s passing. There were so many questions and unsaid things between us that working them out on the keyboard had become a means for resolution. It worked, but somehow, I could never find an appropriate ending to my story. Thrusting my pages into Kristina’s hands, I asked her to do her magic and lo and behold, she took on the challenge. Working side by side, we reinvented this emotional journey and Flaherty’s Crossing was born. I had so much fun working on this with her that I wanted to do it again and again.

DB: I hope writing the book brought you comfort. As for Flaherty's Crossing, I still remember the story and it’s been months since I read it. Your passion for the story shines. For a lone writer it’s bad enough to keep the muse going when doubt gets in the way. What happens when one or both of you experience this fear? Or, does it happen at all? How do you encourage one another? And a more delicate question. ;) Is there an alpha or beta personality between you?

KM: Okay, this is when other writers are going to start pitching tomatoes at us, right? In all honesty, we haven't had the misfortune (YET... knock on wood) of misplacing the muse. My biggest challenge is always reminding myself: It's a marathon not a sprint, so slow down, Kris! I did, however, recently go through a difficult stint when my last agent proceeded to squash every new idea for a novel I came up with. As a result, I found my literary passion and confidence diminishing. My mom was the first one to insist I pick the story idea I loved the most and run with it, regardless of anyone else's opinion. And she was absolutely right (but don't tell her). Just this week, I completed what I feel is my best work to date, thanks to following my heart... and yes, Mom's advice.

LY: Wow, I don’t know what to do with all this praise…only glow with the knowledge that, as a parent, Kristina’s successes are truly my successes. I’m extremely proud of her extraordinary accomplishments, which come with all the hard work and dedication she puts into everything in her life. And (right now) I’m not about to let her slow down.

DB: Not a tomato in sight :) Sounds like you’re proud of each other. Kristina, I LOVE that you follow your heart. How many books have you written together? How long did it take, and is this partnership likely to continue in the future?

KM: We've written one novel from start to finish together, which I believe took about five months in total. She also helped me with intense editing on a novel I wrote solo. We are currently working on our own projects in two very different genres, but we have been heavily involved with brainstorming and plotting for each other. And of course, we'll be editing buddies soon, once our rough drafts are completed. Apparently, she's realized that I'm not letting her off the hook. Just love those root beer floats too much! Ha.

LY: There she is, hustling me for another treat. Too funny…but all joking aside, this is truly an exciting time for both of us. Our Irish-ness makes us determined and committed storytellers who will continue to “mettle” in each other’s work, cheer each other on, and hope that someone enjoys the tales we tell as much as we enjoy writing them.

DB: I see in the not-too-distant future good things happening for both of these phenomenal writers. Kristina and Linda, thanks so much for satisfying my endless curiosity. It’s been a pleasure. I think I’ll toast a root beer float in your honor. Wishing you both health and happiness, and much-deserved success. Thanks for joining us today.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Carol Steward, Author of Inspirational Romantic Suspense

With us today is Carol Steward, successful inspirational romance and romantic suspence author. Shield of Refuge, the latest book in her series, In The Line of Fire, is out now and a very gripping read. Carol lives in Colorado where by day she's a mild mannered university employee, but during all the free time she can scrape together, she's a brilliant author and informational speaker. Please join me as Carol opens the door to the highs and lows of her writing life.

IN THE LINE OF FIRE is a series about three siblings working in different areas of the justice system who find love while struggling to keep peace in their communities and in their family. Drugs, assault, and corruption are all part of the Matthews family’s daily battles. Someone is terrorizing Northern Colorado communities throughout the series; assaulting, kidnaping, and killing female victims and threatening even the heroes’ and heroines’ safety. Will the forces against the Matthews siblings break through their armor of faith (Ephesians 6: 10-17), or will they overcome the enemy, allowing God’s light to shine?

Good morning, Carol! Thank you for joining us!

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

1. I wish I'd learned to set daily goals earlier in my career.
2. Had more faith in my writing.
3. Found a better way to balance family time and writing time. I always wrote late at night and into the morning when my three children were young. It worked well then, but now that they're grown and gone, I have a tougher time staying up that late.

What should a new writer know about the publishing business.

Publishing and writing has a lot of highs and lows. Just because one story doesn't work doesn't mean you shouldn't work on the next book. I think that's one thing I've seen pay off the most with this group. Perseverance is critical. It's important to not take anything for granted and always keep writing.

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

That's a tough question! Intentionally, I don't write anything of myself, but I do write what I know, so that means a lot more of what I believe and respect filter into my writing. Such as my love of God, family and a few of my hobbies and interests. I guess it's impossible to say I don't write myself into my characters, isn't it? As far as the characters personality, that isn't me. I am not nearly as witty and positive in real life. :o(

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I guess that depends on who you ask. My sisters think writing is pretty quirky. My children think I'm pretty quirky all the time, but especially when my husband and I go crazy and have a "trading spaces" weekend and redecorate a room in our house. We love bringing something back to it's original beauty or transforming and bringing new life to an old space.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

When I was writing my first book, I asked God to take away the desire to write. He clearly said, "No, keep writing." I never dreamed that I would sell so quickly when I said "Okay, show me the way, Lord." Suddenly, I found writers groups and critique groups, and conferences. It wasn't easy to let go of my lucrative cake business for something I had not even gone public with yet. Not only am I thankful that God showed me the way in writing, but how to let Him guide me in life and with my family. It gets pretty chaotic at times, and I could not do it alone.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Letting go of the need to revise constantly. With the first book, I was just learning, and I had time to revise, and revise, and revise. Once it sold, and I was selling on partials and trying to finish a book in 6 months or less, that was no longer an option. I had to keep moving through the book and learn to edit differently, after the story is told. It was really tough to do this with my last contract because I was working full time and writing four books, with 5 months per book and no time to regroup in between. I had several hurdles to jump with them, but figuring out where the story had to go and quickly letting go of things that didn't work was all I could do. I know that they could have been better books if I'd had more time, but I also suspect I would have wasted a lot more time second-guessing myself, too. I think the writing process is full of these kind of hurdles – and what's worse, is just when I learn to handle one challenge, another challenge comes up. I've learned how it's not only important to keep trying different techniques and styles, but that my writing can even get better through the challenges. I'm not afraid to let go when something doesn't work. Sometimes I think writers need to just write the full story, then go back and layer in the character development, the red herrings, and analyze how to improve the story. A lot of times, if you stop spinning your wheels on one scene, a scene or two later you will probably figure out what went wrong in the problem scene. But again, don't stop and let the wheels spin again in the new place, take notes and keep moving.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

I loved writing about Amber Scott and Garrett Matthews, and all of the characters in the In the Line of Fire series, actually. Amber had a lot of self-appointed expectations for herself and like Garrett, had a strong determination to succeed, no matter the cost. They're a lot like each of us, we don't know how much we can do until we run into a roadblock. It's then we find out how deep our faith really is.

What themes exist in Shield of Refuge that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I try to work with themes, but it's hard for me to start with one in mind. Even when I do, it often changes. I let that develop as the story does, but for "Shield" I think forgiveness. It's so easy for bitterness and resentment to poison our lives. Both Amber and Garrett wear a shield to keep distractions away. Neither one wants to jeopardize their goals. It was that much more rewarding when they were able to let God take over the job of shielding them and guiding them toward one another.

I've found that each book has taught me something as I wrote it. What did you take away from writing this book?

Like He did Amber & Garrett as life hit them in the gut I was reminded that God can sustain me through everything life throws at me. And like them, I don't learn much about myself, or life, or faith when life is going smoothly. The more I need to rely on God, the more I'm learning, about myself and God's plan for my life.

How do you balance family life with writing?

I don't. I'm compulsive with everything. I work long hours. I developed terrible sleep habits as a teen, and have always worked more than one job, no matter what it might be. It's catching up with me now and I'm trying to learn how to reprioritize to take better care of myself.

I sold this series when my house was empty. My kids were all living out of town. I have a day job that I really love. I was going to fill the quiet evenings with writing again. By the time it sold, one family had moved to from Arizona back to Colorado. Then both of my sons and their families moved back into town. One moved in with us for the remainder of my deadline. My granddaughter was 1 ½ when they moved in with us, and when I finished my last book, she looked at me after dinner and told me to go to the basement (where my office is.) I've found how absolutely inspiring it is to have children around and how much I took that for granted. It was a huge blessing to have them close enough that I could share even the few minutes a day that I had with her. They've moved back to Phoenix because of the economy, and I miss them terribly, and realize how precious the time we had together was. Now I have a little more time to spend with my two grandsons and treasure quality time with them. That is, until the next book series consumes me…

I don't recommend my "balance" with others aspiring to write. Learn to say no to what isn't important in your daily life. Let go of what you can give up, and let God help you focus on what He has planned. I cook huge meals and eat leftovers, multitask too much, and put off the housework until company is coming.

What are a couple of your all-time favorite books?

That's an impossible question to answer! Absolutely impossible.

Do you have a day job, too?

I work at the University of Northern Colorado Graduate School with masters and doctoral students as they finish up their theses and dissertations. I love helping others reach their goals and see that gleam in their eye when they finish it. And I think having someone who struggles with deadlines helps us make a great team to get to the end of their degree.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite has to be telling stories that encourage the readers, that may help them forget their problems for a while and take a little while to relax and laugh a little.

My least favorite part is that there's just not enough hours in my day to get it all done. When an idea hits, I'm usually in the middle of something else that I can't put off.

Plot, seat of pants or combination?

I'm mostly a plotter. I do a lot of planning at the beginning, but then the story takes over and it ends up a little different than I planned.

Key advice for other writers?

Be grateful for each day and enjoy it fully. Life is just too short to spend so much time doing something you don't love.

Thank you, Carol Steward for taking the time to visit the Five Scribes! Shield of Refuge was a Novemeber release. If your local bookstores no longer carry it, please ask them to order it or check out your favorite online book source.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Great Review for Rachel and the Hired Gun

In June of 2008, Author Elaine Levine granted The Five Scribes an interview promoting her first novel, Rachel and the Hired Gun. For many months we'd heard the same ol, same ol that Westerns weren't selling. Authors like Elaine Levine are proving this statement false. I wanted to share with readers the outstanding review Elaine obtained through Romantic Times. If you're interested in learning more about the author's call story, scroll through the Author Interview link listed on the right hand side of the blog. Congratulations, Elaine. ~ Donnell

First-time author Levine draws on classic western themes and a rugged backdrop like a veteran of the genre. Her realistic characters leap from the pages yet never supersede the emotionally charged romance. The western is alive and well with authors like Levine.
4 Stars, Romantic Times

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The True Colorado....Easy Research!

Since most of us Scribes are now calling Colorado home...and KL has called it home, we thought you'd enjoy's oh-so-true.

98% of Americans scream before going in the ditch on a slippery road. The other 2% are from Colorado and they say "hold my soda and watch this."

You're from Colorado if you'll eat ice cream in the winter.

When the weather report says it's going to be 65 degrees, you wear shorts.

It snows 5 inches and you don't expect school to be cancelled.

You'll wear flip flops every day of the year, regardless of the temperature. (LA: Boulder for sure!)

You have no accent at all, but can hear other people's. And then you make fun of them.

"Humid" is over 25%.

Your sense of direction is: Toward the mountains... and away from the mountains.

You say 'the Interstate' and everybody knows which one.

You think that May is a totally normal month for a blizzard.

You buy your flowers to set out on Mother's day, but try and hold off planting them until just before Father's day.

You grew up planning your Halloween costumes around your coat.

You know what the Continental Divide is.

You don't think Coors beer is that big a deal.

You went to Casa Bonita as a kid, and as an adult.

You've gone off-roading in a vehicle that was never intended for such activities.

You always know the elevation of where you are.

You wake up to a beautiful, 80 degree day and you wonder if it's going to snow tomorrow.

You don't care that some company renamed it... the Broncos still play at Mile High.

Every movie theater has military and student discounts.

Everybody wears jeans to church.

You actually know that 'South Park' is a real place, not just a show on TV.

You know what a "trust fund hippy" is, and you know its natural habitat is Boulder (LA: again Boulder!)

You know you're talking to a fellow Coloradoan when they call it Elitches, not Six Flags.

A bear on your front porch doesn't bother you. (LA: Had that last year!)

Your two favorite teams are the Broncos and whoever is beating the crap out of the Raiders.

When people out East tell you they have mountains in their state too, you just laugh.

You go anywhere else on the planet and the air feels 'sticky' and you notice the sky is no longer blue.

~author unknown

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We Have a Winner! Or Three...

So you know my mad methods, I used high technology (scraps of paper in my popcorn bowl) to draw names for Lucy Clark's novels. The following loyal readers have won a book:

Jacqui Jacoby

Ladies, if I don't already have your private contact information (ahem, Donnell), please contact me at klgrady [at symbol] gmail [period, dot, or whatever] com.


Interview with Katherine Nintzel, Editor William Morrow/Harper Collins

By Theresa Rizzo

Date: 12/01/08

Bio: Katherine Nintzel is an Editor for William Morrow/HarperCollins where she works with a broad range of fiction and nonfiction. She is looking for literary and “book club” fiction; speculative fiction and fantasy; and narrative nonfiction, including memoir and pop culture. Recent and upcoming projects include Jessica Anya Blau’s Today Show summer reading pick The Summer of Naked Swim Parties; Diane Hammond’s BookSense Notable Hannah’s Dream, and the New York Times bestselling Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold.

  1. Which categories do you currently acquire? Which category is your favorite?
    Answer: Literary and “book club” fiction; speculative fiction and fantasy; and narrative non-fiction.
    My favorite category depends entirely on what I’ve recently read and what I’m currently working on.

  1. In terms of submissions, what are you sick to death of and what would you like to see more of?

Answer: I’ve seen a lot of urban fantasy/vampire knock-offs. It’s true that the market for those types of books is huge, but the best, most successful books in the genre have more going for them than just the vampire – the world-building is excellent, the characters dynamic, the writing clean and polished.

  1. Do you accept unagented and/or email queries?

Answer: No.

  1. What length synopsis do you prefer to see with a partial?

Answer: One page, no more. Honestly, I read the synopsis after the partial, if I’m impressed by the partial. The actual writing is much more important to me than where the story goes.

  1. What are the compelling elements that you think are necessary for a good
    read? What particularly grabs your attention?

    Answer: The writing is what catches my eye right off the bat; good writing, whether it be commercial or literary, will keep me reading for the first fifty pages, at least.
    To get me beyond those first fifty, I need to have characters I care about and a plot that’s going somewhere interesting.

  1. Does meeting an author face-to-face at a conference make a difference in your response time, the submission process, or the rejection process (ie. Form letter vs a few sentences of advice)?

Answer: I always think I will get back more quickly to people I’ve met in person, but, sadly, that’s not always the case.

  1. Besides the writing, the story and the talent, what are the most important elements you look for in an author, ie. contest wins, cooperativeness, affiliations to writers organizations, knowledge of publishing industry, promotability, etc?

Answer: Professionalism. Writing is an art and a craft; getting published is a business. When your manuscript turns into a book, your name will be on the cover, but your publisher’s name will be on the spine. I don’t want to work with someone who is unwilling to collaborate or compromise.

  1. What do you love most about your job?

Answer: So many things! I love books; I love working with writers as they develop; I love the blend of business and craft.

  1. Do you have any pet peeves?

Answer: Getting nagged. Sometimes it’s necessary – both for me to do and for someone else to do to me! – but I really hate it.

  1. What’s your favorite genre/type of:
    1. Book:
    2. Food:
    3. Music:
    4. Movie:
    5. Hobbie:

I’m not sure I can answer these! My tastes are pretty catholic; I work with a wide range of books, and my music/movie preferences are equally scattered. I will say that I love watching an entire season of a great TV show in one weekend.

  1. What are you addicted to?

Answer: The West Wing, which I’m only discovering now on DVD. (See above.)

  1. What have you always wanted to do?

Answer: Exactly what I’m doing.

  1. Do you have a favorite quote?

Answer: No.

Monday, December 8, 2008

An article and a delayed drawing

First, there was a fantastic opinion piece at the New York Times every author should read and then pass to non-authors to digest. I'd love to see a response from publishers. It would be fascinating to understand why and how this business practice works for them.

Second, the interview with Lucy Clark was fun, but I have not gotten enough comments. Come on, y'all! Just leave a comment that says, "KL, you absolutely rock, and I can't wait to win your books some day." Or maybe say, "Lucy, you're adorable and fun and fabulous, and I want to read your book right now." Or something. Really, almost any comment will do.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Joss Whedon and Hot Doctors: An Interview with Lucy Clark

Australia. 1995. A young, hopeful author receives The Call for a medical romance penned for Mills and Boon.

Mere hours later, she learns she's pregnant.

More than ten years later, her two children are growing like noogoora burr, and her career is keeping stride. She's a big fan of Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Neil Patrick Harris, and Zach Braff. But then, who isn't?

Because we often focus on the American audience to the exclusion of international readers, I thought it would be fun to hear from a prolific author who not only isn't American but whose books don't often make their way to American shelves.

Be sure to ask Lucy some questions of your own, or just leave a comment. She shipped three of her books across the pond for three lucky winners of a random drawing.

Tell us about your newest release.

My newest release is "Children's Doctor, Christmas Bride". It's a Medical Romance set in the goldrush mining town of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia. It does have a pretty Christmas tree on the front cover which is nice. Here is the back blurb (written by my editor) in all it's glory:

A Christmas Wedding

Christmas has arrived in the small town of Ballarat - along with paediatrician Summer Hoyts and her young son! Summer left the city for a fresh start, so she's not about to act on her unexpected attraction to her handsome new colleague Jason Daniels...

Jason's ex-wife never wanted children, so he gave up on his hopes for a family. But Summer and little Tommy have stolen his heart. He soon finds himself wanting a very special gift this year - and vows to make this single mum his bride by Christmas!

Now - a little tit-bit. We called the hero Jason Daniels so we could get the JD reference in there. No, not Jack Daniels as in the Scotch but JD from Scrubs - which my hubby and I both love (Gotta have a bit of Braff!!) I put lots of movie references in a lot of my books. Last Christmas was my "Doctor Who" book with heaps of references to Doctor Who and I've also done one with a lot of Firefly references (yay Joss!!!!). Earlier books had a lot of Star Trek references and of course Dr Cusack's Secret Son (which was my 25th Medical Romance) had a lot of John Cusack references from his various movies.

What is your writing kryptonite?

I loathe synopses. I would rather write the entire book again and again than do a two page synopsis. In fact, it can take me 2 weeks to write a two page synopsis and during that time, I can get a pretty solid draft down so yeah - I really loathe the ol' synopsis. I'm not the hughest fan of revisions and it takes me a while to switch my brain from left (creating) to right (editing) but once I'm there, it's fine. The synopsis, however, does not happen no matter how I might procrastinate (and I like to think I'm quite inventive when it comes to the procrastination stakes!).

Any chance your books will cross the pond and hit some US shelves?

They have been spotted here and there in the States which is excellent news. Some Borders stores do stock Medical Romances but I'm not sure which ones. Some stores in California are a definite but again, it's up to the store owner so go and BUG THE STORE KEEPERS to stock them. Thanks. Much appreciated. Other than that, it's easier to buy from the internet.

How does the Mills & Boon career track (especially for medical romance) compare to the North American Harlequin/Silhouette/M&B author career? Would you say the different markets create different expectations for you than (for example) American authors have from the Silhouette editors?

For the most part, it's all quite similar - the main difference (monetary wise) for Medicals are that they're not sold retail in North America. We (as a group of writers) have asked Harlequin head office about this and they've said that a lot of Northern American readers would not understand the "English" in the books. eg - we call our ER - A & E, standing for Accident and Emergency. We call our phones "mobile phones or mobiles" rather than "cell phones" and for some reason, head office seem to think that our North American readers aren't... savvy enough to figure things out and therefore wouldn't buy them. At least, that's the story we've been told. The Medical Romances have been given a "trial" on US shelves and the books were printed with a "glossary of terms" in the front of the book.

As far as the Silhouette, M&B, Harlequin difference, I'd say it's not much. Each editor is rather individual and each sub-genre has it's own guidelines which must be adhered to. Harlequin, on a whole, want their authors to build up readerships. In Australia, our romance books are released as Harlequin Mills & Boon or Harlequin Silhouette etc so there really isn't much division with regards to whether they were edited out of Canada, USA or UK. In Australia, however, colour coded :) (Medical Romances are pink - just in case you were wondering!)

What author is your guilty pleasure?

Jeremy Clarkson. (not the man but his books - just want to make myself abundantly clear on that point.) Yep - probably not what you were expecting me to say. He's the guy from the British Top Gear (car show) and he is very funny. He writes a column for a British Newspaper (and it's not always about cars although I do have a passion for cars) and a lot of these columns have been combined into book form. I'm usually found chuckling away or nodding my head at what he's written. He has a great style that I love and above all, he's honest and I totally appreciate that in a person and a writer.

If and when you read American authors, is there anything that makes you laugh, snort, or roll your eyes?

I do read a mixture of British, Australian and American authors and I think the biggest thing are the words and phrases that we just don't use. You say "she lighted the candle", we say "she lit the candle". Also, with American stories, there seems to be more "product placement" for want of a better phrase. I've had to ask friends for information on "Preparation H", "Captain Crunch" and "Zapple" just to name a few. Through the UK editorial office, we're not allowed to have anything major in case audiences don't understand. Quite a few of us, though, have fought to get "Tim Tams" into the books. These are not the run of the mill chocolate biscuit. They are heaven's choice of chocolate biscuit. Hugh Jackman just gave Oprah and her audience a taste of Tim Tams because they are the best EVER. Hmm... I seem to have forgotten the question... :-) However, in reading these stories, I "do" understand them. I don't need a glossary of terms in the front to educate me on the differences in our societies!!!

One of your favorite books is The Branigan Brothers series by Leslie Davis Guccione. What do you love about these books?

I confess I have yet to read the whole series. I simply can't get my hands on a few of the books. I do love series books and I like a lot of Nora's series romances that she's done. But with regards to the Branigan Brothers, the pictures painted by the author were so vivid. It really made me want to visit the places she was writing about - to see a Cranberry farm and it was because of those books that I first tried cranberry juice (and found I loved it). I do like series books and finding out what has happened to beloved characters. Also, to this end, I have a map of where I've set different books and if I set one in the same town as a previous book, then I make sure those previous characters are mentioned (does that make any sense??)

Do you have a favorite theme or set of themes you like to explore in your books?

I do like reunion stories. I like it that they've met before, whether good or bad, and then end up together. Themes - it took me a long time to understand theme but I guess I tend to have a generalised theme of "hope", of "learning to trust" and of "believing in yourself". The last one is something I struggle with every day, of believing that "I" can achieve the goals I've set for myself and I think if I'm struggling with it, then my characters should be struggling too.

Why medical romances specifically? What drew you to write them, and have you ever had the urge to step outside of the genre (both romance in general and medical romance specifically)?

Hmm... why medical romances? I could say "why not?" but the real reason is rather an interesting answer and so I'll give it. I was madly writing "Sweet" romances (Tender romances in the UK and Harlequin Romance in the US) and being rejected and then in my writing group, we got word that M&B were looking for Medical Romance authors. I was currently working at a hospital as a secretary to 3 orthopaedic surgeons and decided to give it a go. I wrote 3 chapters (and the dreaded synopsis) and sent it off. They had it for MONTHS and then requested the whole manuscript. This I wrote and then they had it for LOTS MORE MONTHS (I started suffering from letterboxitis) and finally, I received a "nice" rejection. This was where the editor pointed out what was wrong with the story and how she would like it to be fixed "if I thought I could address the issues". I did this and that first Medical Romance became "A Surgeon's Reputation" released in 1996. (see? wasn't that an interesting answer??)

Do I ever have the urge to step outside the genre?

Not initially but I think that was because I also had young children and trying to write 4 books a year with a young family was difficult in itself. Now, though I have a great desire to be writing other books but I would never give up on my Medicals. They're such a part of me. I not only want to step outside the genre of romance, I want to step outside the medium of books and write movies. (and I LOVE Sci-Fi)

If you could have Joss Whedon's babies, would you ever stop? Seriously, if you could pick his brain, what would you ask him?

Although I totally adore Mr Whedon (I'm not worthy) there is no way on this earth that I am having ANYONE'S babies, ever again! Two pregnancies and enormous babies with NO TIME FOR DRUGS (me, not the babies) was enough. However, if by "babies" you mean working on writing projects with Mr Whedon (I'm not worthy), then I should love to have hordes with him. If I could pick his brain, I'd probably be mortified with myself because it would be pretty gross and rather bloody (all that CSF - Yuck!) and I doubt I'd learn much. I have had the opportunity to breathe the same air as him (at a conference) and that almost made me hyperventilate!!! (along with the other 4,000 people in the room - Nathan was there too. It was a good moment!!) To be able to sit down and talk to Joss (ahem Mr Whedon - I'm not worthy) would be... amazing and I think, after I'd managed to control my breathing, to untie my tongue from the inevitable knot it would be in and stopped trembling, I'd just ask him to talk... and I would simply listen and learn. I'd also like to talk to his wife because she must be an incredible person to support such a genius.

How many times have you watched Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog?

How many times? Another excellent question. Too many to count is probably the answer. My kids have the songs on their MP3 players and the other day, they were watching it in fast- forward so the songs all sounded Chipmonky :) All I can say is "this is his hair".

How incredibly awesome is it that Dr. Doogie Howser is also Dr. Horrible?

It is legen... wait for it... dary! (heh) Too many delicious men to watch. NPH and NF. Delightful.

What would you say is your best book so far?

The book I love the most is Undercover Doctor. It's where the heroine is a doctor but she's also a spy. She round kicks the hero and knocks him out, she breaks into the morgue and she rescues a girl from a burning building. And she does this all whilst falling in love with a man she suspects of murder. What can I say - I was going through my ALIAS phase :)

Does your doctor know what you do for a living?

Of course he does - you can't hide anything from a man with a TARDIS and a bleeping sonic screwdriver!!!

Thanks, Lucy, for stopping by and sharing your perspective on romance, medical romance, and the random awesomeness that is Joss. Not to mention Zach, Nathan, NPH, etc.

Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win an awesome Aussie romance! ETA: I will announce the three lucky winners on Monday, December 8, so you have all weekend to jump in.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Business of Writing and Why I Joined Toastmasters

I don't know about you, but for me, one of the hardest things I do every year is attend writers' conferences. Reading posts that tout, "Can't wait for National," or "Our local conference is three weeks away," are enough to break me out in a cold sweat.

But the fact remains conferences exist to help writers, not send them into apoplectic fits. These events truly are the most efficient and economical way to connect with agents and editors to set you apart from the hundreds of anonymous queries they receive every week.

Does this knowledge help, however, when your tongue is less than golden? Probably not. While some people can practice their pitches, memorize their log lines and appear at ease, most cannot. Ever stood in a room full of writers waiting to pitch? I have. I'm here to tell you that public speaking for an introverted author ranks right up there with tightrope walking. What's more, given the choice to talk about their book to the agent or editor of their dreams, many would opt for the tightrope -- without the net!

So why do I bring this up when it's a foregone conclusion that in spite of this fear, we'll do it time and time again? Because last year I had such a fiasco at a conference, and after doing a marvelous impression of a deaf mute, I resolved to do something about it. I decided to step out of my solitary comfort zone and overcome my fear of public speaking. Ladies and gentlemen, Toastmasters is helping me do it.

What's so special about Toastmasters? In a word -- everything. Instead of preparing for a conference in the weeks beforehand, I now attend weekly meetings. This organization isn't only about giving speeches, it's about building leaders and creating confidence. It also teaches you to ad lib, to think on your feet, and while my tongue may never be golden, I no longer feel like it's wedged in cement.

My ability to write also has helped me with Toastmasters. While many members fret over giving speeches because they first have to compose them, that's the area in which I excel. I'm already on speech number five of the Competent Communicator, and recently I took third in a citywide humorous speech competition.

I tell you this not to gloat, but to let you know that if I can overcome shyness or speaking in public, anyone can. As a writer, I am by far the most comfortable at my keyboard and in my fictional world. But for those few times when I'm at a conference, I plan to make the most of the opportunity and treat it as a business. It is business, you know. Thanks to Toastmasters, I'll be ready.

Check out the Toastmasters in your locale or this link will take you to Toastmaster's International.