New Year’s Teaser – Don’t Kiss, But Do Tell!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, ALL!

depositphotos.com - Vektor by ayeleskeshnet
depositphotos.com – Vektor by ayeleskeshnet

I hope that the first day of January was a teaser of what this year has in store for you. And I hope you’re really really excited! But before we experience the events, surprises and life lessons of 2015, let’s revel in that tingling sensation of anticipation.

Isn’t the anticipation of what’s to come—that adrenaline-inducing, right-before moment— sometimes more thrilling than the actual event? That’s what romance and urban fantasy author, Amanda Byrne, thought when she came up with No Kiss Blogfest: a meme for posting the scene from a published book or WIP where the couple almost kiss; where the tension burns hot, but something or someone gets in the way of it getting out of hand.

I’m taking part with a scene from Fate Captured, a prequel to Fate Accompli, which I’m currently penning. I won’t introduce the scene. Let’s see how it works:

_______________

The coast guard disappeared inside the health center.

Trish couldn’t make out Markos’ face in the darkness, but she felt him draw back and exit the vehicle. He then opened her door and stepped aside.

She got out, stooping slightly as she knew that any effort to stand tall would make her fold in pain, but she managed to look up and smile. “Are you in any shape to play the part of the gentleman?”

Markos gave a half smile. “I’m always in shape to play the part of the gentleman.” He offered her the elbow of his strong arm. “Shall we?” he said in a too formal tone.

You’d think they were about to enter a ballroom instead of the local health center. As patients.

Trish burst out laughing but instantly regretted it, folding in two. “Oh, you’re mean!” she cried, her face a mask between pain and mirth.

He chuckled and helped her up. “Trust me, if I had my way, I’d lift you in my arms and carry you inside.” He pointed to his bad arm. “But I can’t do it single-handedly, no matter how much I’d like to impress you.”

Trish’s heart swelled. That man was drop-dead gorgeous, incredibly brave and kept saying the right things at the right time. Even when his intention was to rile her up. She could so see herself falling for him.

“You’ve already impressed me for good.”

In the darkness, his gaze was so intense, she felt a tingle run down her spine. He tucked a stray strand behind her ear and then stroked the contour of her chin with his knuckle.

“That’s my line.” His voice could melt butter.

If a simple caress stunned her to the point of numbing her mind, how would a kiss feel?

She closed her eyes, trying to focus on what he’d said.

“How so?”

His hand left her chin and came to rest on her lower back, pulling her in. Reflexively, she placed both her hands on his hard chest. “You saved my life.” He cocked his head as if seizing her up. “You didn’t stop to think the implications. You jumped right in! Her eyes snapped open just as his large hands—the one attached to the bad arm included—gripped her shoulders hard. “You could have been gravely injured.” His face and eyes were now hard; almost scary. He tightened his grip and shook her once. “In fact, what is a foreign girl doing alone on an island halfway around the world, working the night shift at a remote bar and then jumping thugs? Are you that imprudent? You could have been killed!”

Trish didn’t know about killed, but buzzkilled she was.

With a snap, outward move of her hands, she extricated herself from his hold.

Imprudent? Who did you learn your English from? Your great-grandmother?” she spat out. “And how would you call getting plastered—oh, sorry,  foxed I meant—effectively bringing your defenses down when you clearly have unfinished business with the mob? Prudent?”

Markos closed the space between them.

“What I do on my island is my own business.”

She drew up, bringing her nose an inch from his. “Whereas a foreigner, much less a foreign girl has no such right, right?

Markos’ jaw was so clenched she thought it would shatter, but his eyes told a different story.

Now. He would kiss her now.

“Are you two stepping in to be treated or not?”

They both turned at the same time. The coast guard’s dark form cast a long shadow over the health center’s threshold.

Markos jerked his chin. “Go ahead.”

She crossed her arms over her chest, ignoring the fire burning her wound. “Age before beauty,” she said, smiling sweetly.

Markos eyed her for a moment and then strode toward his friend. But not before she saw the corners of his mouth lift in a barely-there smile.

______________________

Seriously, I don’t know how I will make a Clean (apart from the Spicy) version out of these two. They’re getting naughtier by the, well, page.

Feel free to make any comment you wish as this is an unedited WIP. If that whetted your appetite for more almost-kisses, visit Amanda’s blog where you’ll find all participating authors’ scenes.

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Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad. (4,000 views and counting…)

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“Suddenly (DELETE?) life has new meaning to me…”

SUDDENLYI had read that “suddenly” is a bump-word for editors, but I hadn’t given it much thought while revising my manuscript of Fate Accompli. However, a couple of beta readers, Effrosyni Moschoudi, author of The Lady of the Pier among them, mentioned the no-suddenly rule. I did a quick FIND search and saw I had 36 “suddenly’s” in my 96,000-word story. That didn’t seem too much, but for the sake of practice, I decided to look into doing away with at least some of them.

Here’s what I came up with:

By default, a sudden occurrence cannot be non-sudden.

Before: “Monica shot to her feet so suddenly her bare left foot stepped hard on the tilted empty glass, crushing it.”

That was clearly redundant as when one “shoots to her feet” it has to be a sudden movement.

This one is a clear-cut overkill case:

“Her thoughts were interrupted by Flora, who suddenly appeared seemingly out of thin air with a telephone handset in her hand.”

One cannot appear out of thin air in a non-sudden manner, so that one went away.

Sometimes, an interesting adverb (yes, adverb!) adds color:

Before: “For years, he’d been unable to notice any of the stuff that was suddenly visible”.

After: “For years, he’d been unable to notice any of the stuff that was now distractingly visible.”

Before: “She pushed back the worry of Beth’s impending arrival, suddenly wishing he’d turn his attention to her.”

After: “She pushed back the worry of Beth’s impending arrival, now wishing he’d turn his attention to her.”

Before: “Her hazed mind suddenly focused on the answer.”

After: “Her hazed mind somehow focused on the answer.”

Change of heart or mood can legitimately be sudden

Nevertheless, there were several instances where I couldn’t get rid of “suddenly”—and didn’t want to. I realized that the common denominator was that they were all a sudden change of emotion, change of mind or a non-clear-cut sudden occurrence. I did some digging and found that, indeed, even hard-core editors accept that when a character’s mood abruptly changes, “suddenly” enhances this shift. So here are some phrases where “suddenly” stuck.

“Monica removed the phone from her ear and stared at its blank screen. Suddenly, it was as if a sound wall had been removed, and the deafening commotion was piercing her ears again.”

“It seemed as if all her blood vessels were suddenly sucked dry, pulling her center of gravity downward.”

but

“Ignoring the need to ask about Monica’s well-being and whereabouts that suddenly erupted in him, Alex touched her arm gently. ‘Beth, are you feeling all right?'”
Nothing can “erupt” non-suddenly, so even though there’s a sudden change of feeling, the verb suffices.

And then there are the cases where “suddenly” could (should?) be removed, but I just didn’t do it. Because I can.

“The sky was full of dark pregnant clouds. A wicked wind had suddenly picked up, and Alex saw the leafy tops of the ancient oaks and elms of Richmond Park whisking incongruously following its capricious behest.”

In the phrase above, “suddenly” adds to the cadence. Try reading it without it. Something is amiss. So it stayed. Just like Lionel Ritchie kept his in the song title I chose to headline this post…

That was my takeaway from that editing exercise. For an editor’s view on the subject, check out K.M. Weiland’s article.

Do you consciously edit out “suddenly” from your writing? Is it on your editing check list? Let me know with a comment.

Don’t forget that my giveaway for a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card, 3 ebooks of Fate Accompli and a set of laminated bookmarks is running until the 23rd. Here’s the link:

Fate Accompli Super Giveaway

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Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad. (4,000 views and counting…)

Sandra Danby – On adoption dynamics and work process (WIP interview)

Sandra Danby Author - photo Simon CooperWhen Sandra Danby contacted me for an interview, my first move was to check out her site and book covers. I ended up spending about an hour that I did not have there, drawn by the power of simplicity and her strong theme. Therefore, it’s with great pleasure, I feature Sandra and her work today.

Sandra Danby’s debut novel ‘Ignoring Gravity’ is just published and she is now writing the sequel ‘Connectedness’. Both novels examine how a person’s sense of identity is affected by adoption.

Sandra, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

If I could, I would write all day every day. And when not writing, I would be reading. It’s always been that way. I grew up on a small dairy farm at the bleak edge of East Yorkshire where England meets the North Sea. So I am a proud Yorkshire woman, tea drinker and tennis fan. When I am not writing, which I can do while drinking tea, I can be found reading a book or watching tennis on television.

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra DanbyExercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.  

‘Connectedness’ – the second book in the series about ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ – features controversial artist Justine Tree. She is a Marmite artist: some love her emotional honesty, others say she is attention-seeking. Disapproving critics say her work could be done by primary school children with empty cereal boxes, fingertips and potato prints. Fans say her work has an emotional freedom that 21st century society could learn from, that she has unbuttoned the British stiff upper lip. But are the emotions Justine puts into her collages real? Truth or Lies: only Justine knows how and why she manipulates the truth.  So when she confronts her past and asks journalist Rose Haldane to find her lost baby, two strong personalities clash. Rose tries to untangle truth from lies in order to find Justine’s daughter who was given up for adoption when Justine was an art student. Justine, who has never told anyone she had a baby, is desperate to find her daughter but ashamed of the truth, desperate to have her daughter’s love but terrified she will find hate.

Connectedness will be published in late 2015.

This will make an interesting read! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

At the moment my writing has halted temporarily as I concentrate on promoting ‘Ignoring Gravity’, but I plan to return to ‘Connectedness’ in January 2015. I am a disciplined writer, which comes I think from 35+ years as a journalist. Writing is my job. I don’t have a specific daily word count and I don’t have a target word count for the book. My first draft of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ was 140,000! Through re-drafting and polishing, that finally came down to 99,000. I hadn’t targeted 99,000, I just polished the manuscript until it felt right.

Plotter, pantser or both?

Plotter, always a plotter. That’s the journalist in me again. But I have learned to plot loosely and let the story develop.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Easy, social media. Essential today for writers to promote their work. But it sucks the minutes out of a day.

Hear, hear. And if one is not as disciplined as you (that’s me!) then the writing time goes out the window. Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

Nope, never not wanted to write, never had writer’s block. I think my journalism training knocked that out of me years ago. When writing is your daily job, and you have a deadline and an empty page to fill, excuses don’t count.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Sandra Danby - where I writeThis is my desk in the attic of our house. I have no view as the loft windows are higher than my desk so all I can see is sky. I am the first in the house to know it is raining. My desk faces the wall and I have a huge whiteboard to which are stuck photos of my characters, inspirational notes and photos of locations. All my books are here, the bookcases are bulging and books are beginning to form piles on the floor. There is a sofabed as my study doubles as a bedroom for visitors, but I rarely sit on it. I did entertain ideas of sitting there, reading… but that has never happened. What else? A floor-standing fan as the room gets stifling hot in the summer, and a small electric radiator to keep me warm in winter. And my CD collection, I couldn’t do without my music. As I write this, Mozart is playing gently in the background. I always write to classical music – Mozart, Verdi, Karl Jenkins, Elgar, Holst – as I find lyrics too distracting.

Lots of wonderful light there! The concept whiteboard is a great idea! Now your workspace pic is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace Board on Pinterest! Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I have read a lot of adoption/family history, books, mostly requested from my local library or in the Reading Room at the British Library. For ‘Connectedness’ I researched art, again lots of reading but also visits to art galleries in London. My favourites are Tate Modern, Tate Britain, The Royal Academy, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. I also watch specialist television programmes. Two key TV series for me are ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and ‘Long Lost Family’ have been enormously helpful. And the BBC has excellent arts coverage.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

No celebration planned, the end of the first draft is the beginning of the next stage of the writing process for me. I find it useful to take a break from the work in progress though, so at the end of the first draft I will write shorter fiction, perhaps some flash fiction, and get out more. Go to art galleries and the theatre! It’s also a great time to research the next book. I am always thinking ahead.

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I am a writer, that is what I do best. I outsourced copy editing, manuscript formatting, front cover design, book trailer production, website design and e-mail marketing.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

Network like mad: blog, tweet, Facebook and share. Don’t bore people with constant requests to buy your book, social media is swamped by repetitive messages like that. And don’t just retweet other people’s original thoughts. Find an original way to communicate, tweet your own ideas and support other writers. There is a great network of mutually-supportive writers out there to tap into.

True words! Your blog can be found here. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

My writing blog has transferred in the last few weeks to a website promoting my books, but the content and purpose of my blog remains the same. I’ve been blogging on WordPress since February 2013, my new website is WordPress too. I blog about my thoughts on writing and the world of books. What other writers are saying and doing, I review books [new releases and classics] and publish some of my own short fiction. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is an occasional series offering solutions to get the creative juices started.

Is contemporary women’s fiction the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

Who knows what the future will bring. At the moment I am concentrating on the ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ series, with storylines planned for books three, four and five. Beyond that, I have ideas for two standalone novels set in Yorkshire.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Strawberry ice cream
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? The Hunger Games
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? BC of course.
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Trek in the Andes. I have flown over them, on the way to Santiago, Chile, and they look amazing.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Scruffy blue Converse

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ignoring-Gravity-Haldane-Identity-Detective-ebook/dp/B00O3D2PFI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415632368&sr=8-1&keywords=sandra+danby

Website: http://www.sandradanby.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sandradanby

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandradan1/

Watch the book trailer for ‘Ignoring Gravity’: http://youtu.be/jpzWKR4gx8I

Thank you, Sandra, and best of luck with your future projects!

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Fate Accompli is now out on Amazon in two heat versions. The links below will take you directly to your Amazon store.

Fait Accompli - Spicy version

Fate Accompli Spicy: getBook.at/FateSpicy

Fate Accompli Clean: getBook.at/FateClean

If you’d like to read the first chapters of Fate Accompli, they’re available on Wattpad. (Almost 2,000 views in one week!)

Quanie Miller: WIP Interview

This week’s author guest is a beautiful southern girl, Quanie Miller. Hi Quanie!

Hi Everyone! My name is Quanie Miller and I’m the author of It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzyand
the southern paranormal novel, The New Mrs. Collins,now available on Amazon. You can find me blogging at quanietalkswriting.com. Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself? 

I’m a married mother of one and love to spend my time making traditional Louisiana dishes like jambalaya and pralines. I probably watch more television than I should and think obsessively about my writing.

collins_promoBy the way this is a fantastic cover! Excellent branding! Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

When Leena Williams suspects that there’s something other worldly about her son’s new stepmother, she goes digging for answers and discovers a little too late that some secrets are better left buried.

That certainly is gooseflesh-inducing! What are you working on right now?

Well, right now I’m really focused on promoting The New Mrs. Collins.
And when I’m not doing that, I’m tinkering with an outline for a novel that feels like it’s going to be paranormal. Without giving too much away, it looks like it’s going to be about this girl who, after a traumatic experience, learns something shocking about herself.

Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

Generally, yes. Some days are better than others. I don’t aim for a specific word count because what matters to me is, “How good is this particular scene when I leave the computer?” Sometimes a hard scene can take up pretty much my entire writing session. And I do try to stick to a writing schedule: the first two hours when I get up in the mornings.

Even after the arrival of the little one? I admire you! Plotter, pantser or both?

Plotter! I outline extensively before I write. I have to know where I’m going before I start writing. But even with an outline, there are plenty of surprises along the way. Characters really know how to surprise you!

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Fear that what I’m writing isn’t good enough so why even finish it when the work is going to be terrible? I battle with this the entire time I’m writing. I don’t think it ever goes away.

Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

I think that happens when something I’m working on feels like a chore (when it’s a work in progress, that’s how I know that something about the story isn’t working or that it’s a story that I probably need to abandon). I get over this by giving myself some tough love: your writing career is your responsibility. Now get your behind in gear and write!

Quanie Miller - WorkstationCould we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

My writing desk is in front of two windows that overlook our front yard (but sometimes, I’m guilty of just opening the blinds and daydreaming as opposed to writing!)

I can totally understand why you choose the blackout! Now your workspace pic is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest! Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I don’t. I’ve considered using Scrivener but haven’t gotten around to trying it.

 How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

With a nice big glass of wine!

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

Oh, wow! I am definitely going to outsource the book cover (if I did my own book cover it would look like something a kindergartener did, or probably worse!), the proofreading, and definitely the formatting. The only thing I’m confident about is my ability to tell a story!

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I’m no marketing expert but I think it helps if you actually tell people you wrote a novel. For some reason, I was so shy about telling people that I was a novelist! Not sure why that is. And blogging is a great way to meet other authors and potential readers (but building those relationships takes time. It’s not an overnight thing).

Your blog is quanietalkswriting.com. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

Not at first. I kind of just started blogging because I read that all writers should have a blog, but lately I’ve been trying to tackle issues that all authors deal with, but in a humorous way. I try to talk about issues that are conversation worthy so that they encourage people to either comment or share the content.

Is paranormal the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I also write comedy. Initially, I thought I needed to choose between paranormal and humorous fiction since they’re polar opposites but I imposed those boundaries on myself. I don’t think people care about genre as long as the story is entertaining.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Dude! Chocolate!
  • Pizza or sushi? Pizza, of course, (although, I do get a craving for a California roll or tempura every now and then!)
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? The Hunger Games!
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor or Idris Elba? Idris. Hands down! Oh, yes!
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Oh, Lord. Ummm…I’ll say snorkeling since this seems to imply warm weather.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? I’ll say stilettos, but hopefully they’ll have a low heel! Yeah, gimme a pair of those! 🙂

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

Book Purchase Links

Amazon (US) http://www.amazon.com/New-Mrs-Collins-Quanie-Miller-ebook/dp/B00OAC362I

Amazon (UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Mrs-Collins-Quanie-Miller-ebook/dp/B00OAC362I

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/483357

Social Media Links

Twitter: @quaniemiller
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QuanieMillerAuthor
Blog: http://www.quanietalkswriting.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/QuanieMiller
Website: quaniemiller.com
Email: quanie@quanietalkswriting.com

Quanie, thank you so much, and good luck with The New Mrs. Collins!

Nina Lemay: WIP Interview

An extra perk of hosting authors for virtual book tour companies is connecting with awesome writers. After reading  and reviewing Shameless, a not for the faint of heart, edgy but very well written NA romance, set in Montreal, I sought the writer out, knowing that she would give me a great WIP interview. I was right. Nina, in her twenties, is the youngest writer featured here so far. Nina, you’re on:

Hi! I’m Nina Lemay, aka that girl who wrote that feminist stripper book, aka Shameless (available now on Amazon). The rest of the time, I write YA and adult speculative fiction. I’m an indie author with hybrid aspirations.

Nina, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself outside writing.

I’m (almost) fully trilingual, having moved to Montreal at a young age. One of these days I’ll write an epic Montreal-set novel en français, but until then, I’m working on my BFA in Creative Writing in English. Like a number of writers (as it turns out), I’m somewhat socially awkward and am way more comfortable in front of a keyboard than in front of people—which is why I’m hoping to work as a full-time writer or freelance editor once my degree is finished. Yay pajamas!

What I loved about Shameless was its location. I’ve been to Montreal, and it’s a beautiful city. My husband has also spent twelve years there. Can you talk your city up a bit?

plateau balconiesMontreal, I find, is outrageously underrepresented in books. Regardless of genre. And I have no idea why, it’s a really cool place with a rich history to rival New Orleans. The Catholic and French roots of Montreal (and Quebec as a whole) mean that it looks quite different from a number of North American cities. It has a more European feel—which doesn’t always work in our favor, for example, those pretty outdoor winding staircases probably look wonderful in the south of France, but here they’re basically an ice-slicked deathtrap eight months of the year.

But what really sets Montreal apart is the mindset. It is a little bit hedonistic, with rich food and entertainment and yes, there really is a strip club on every block on Ste-Catherine. The drinking age is 18 but really just a suggestion, and the nightclubs are open till three AM. There was a project this year to allow them to stay open till 6, but it was shot down due to public safety concerns.

Despite of the woo-hoo-party mindset, Montreal is a really safe place to live. I can walk pretty much anywhere at any hour, with headphones on, and have no fears for my safety.

 All these elements are well portrayed in Shameless–one of the book’s features I enjoyed. Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

Our heroine is supposed to be in college, having the time of her life with her popular, beautiful friends and boyfriend. Instead, she’s stuck repeating her senior year. Other teens whisper behind her back, her parents took the door off her room, and instead of parties she attends AA meetings.

Then, at one meeting she runs into the new guy at school. He’s the only one to treat her like a human being after what happened last winter. He’s the only one who seems to understand her. But what is he really doing at her school, and what does he really want from her? And how is he connected with the anonymous threats she’s been finding in her locker ever since he appeared?

Intriguing! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I try to aim for 2000-3000 words. But during the school year those words are often essays, so I try not to be too hard on myself if I fall behind.

Plotter, pantser or both?

Plotter! Enthusiastic plotter. That word makes me giggle because in French the word plotte means something else J But yeah, I like to outline thoroughly, chapter-by-chapter. I keep “idea books” where I jot down my brainstorms and outlines. Some people find it a little obsessive.  But for me that’s the only way to finish a book in a month, so…

A Book in a month?! I’m so going to ignore that that’s your time frame, What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

The doubt. Who the hell wants to read this? Nobody cares about your stupid stories, change majors and get a job. It’s kind of tough pushing past it, but sometimes you just gotta stick your fingers in your ears, shut your eyes and go la la la… that makes it kind of hard to type though.

That’s the attitude! Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

This has to do with the last answer… doubt is the worst. Inspiration might be there, but when you’re paralyzed by doubt, it doesn’t help much.  And to say I’ve faced some adversity in my writing journey (I really hate that phrase, writing journey. There’s never an end. You never “arrive”. You’re only as good as your current WIP) is to say nothing at all. I’ve faced rejection on Books of my Heart, from both agents and editors. I’ve faced crappy reviews. I’ve had phases where it feels like I’m beating my head against a concrete wall, hoping the wall will crack before I do (these odds are not in my favor). I’ve almost given up writing altogether. But you know what, writing makes me happy. I may not write trendy things on trendy topics, but I believe in my books. I believe I’m talented, I believe I’m a good writer. And I believe my stories will find their way.

In danger of repeating myself, that’s the attitude!! You bet you’re a good writer otherwise I wouldn’t seek you out. It’s as simple as that. Now, could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

photo (1) (1)I used to live in horrible, tiny studios on the Plateau where my bed was three feet from my fridge. Now I finally gave up on the Plateau and I have an actual office, for the first time in my life! It has no windows, but it’s a start.

Very … bookish! Now your workspace pic is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

Scrivener is nice, but it got to be too much clicking around for me and I went back to Word.  And have I mentioned that I loooove notebooks? I’m a texture freak. I love the feel of pen on paper. The ideas just flow. I rely on my journals and idea books. Without them I’d be lost.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

Go for a poutine! Just kidding. Or am I?

I had to look up the fries/gravy/cheese curds dish up. Calory-infested yumminess! Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I will never be able to format anything by myself, ever. Nor design a cover. I’m computer-illiterate, unfortunately, so all the webby stuff will be outsourced. However, I do (almost) have a degree in English, and I have good betas. So my manuscripts only need the lightest touch of professional editing, mostly just proofreads.

Great job you did on Shameless, if it was not professionally edited. Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

Itching For Books do GREAT blog tours and promo services. And with the next release I intend to give Netgalley a shot. Everyone says it’s pricey but worth it. We’ll see!

I’ve been thinking about Netgalley myself. Your blog is ninalemay.com. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

I’m terrible at blogging! I just needed a semi-official-looking site (everyone says you have to have those or you’re not a real author, or something).

Interesting. No blogging effort there. I’ll come back to you later to ask you if not having a blog as a pillar of your author platform affects your sales outreach. Is contemporary romance the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

Oh my. It actually took me a really long time to get my a** in gear and write a contemporary romance. I’m a genre writer at heart. Give me paranormal elements and weird powers and supernatural creepiness! My current YA projects are all of the speculative variety, or thrillers. There WILL be a New Adult SFF novel in the not-too-distant future. *mysterious face*

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Sorbet. I’m a rebel.
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi.
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? THG! Ugh, Katniss over Bella any day.
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Cumberbatch, of course. (See? I’m not a normal NA writer…)
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? Museums in Paris. But the trek in the Andes is a close second.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Doc Martens. Or Converse.

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

My website (where I try to keep things up to date on a semi-regular basis): http://ninalemay.com/

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/NinaLemay

My Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nina-Lemay/335772423239892?ref=hl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8298989.Nina_Lemay

Thank you, Nina, and best of luck with Shameless and your future projects!

For more great WIP interview by an array of interesting authors click here.

Janice Ross – WIP interview

In today’s WIP edition, I’m pleased to welcome author Janice Ross. Janice was born in Guyana, South America and migrated to the USA in 1980. Although her citizenship certificate now reads the United States of America, she considers herself a citizen of the world. She enjoys writing about social issues and personal experiences. Janice’s debut release was entitled Damaged Girls. She uses the three books in that series to detail the effects of different forms of abuse, discussing issues that are known to be taboo. Her next release, Jumping Ship, is a dedication to her country of birth and an introductory novella to the Island Hopping Series. She has also penned Loving Nate, a novella with an alternate ending, that I reviewed here.

Janice is also a devout supporter and promoter of other authors through social media. She hosts a weekly show, Cultural Cocktails, on the largest social radio network, Blog Talk Radio.

Thanks for having me, Maria! You are truly supportive and amazing!

What are you working on right now?

Oh my goodness, Maria! I am always working on several different projects, at any given time. I’m still attempting to plot out and finalize the next books in the Island Hopping series. And although Loving Nate is a stand-alone novella, I’ve been in talks with Nate (smirking) about telling his side of the story. Those are just two of my current WIPs. And as if I’m not having enough fun, I’ve recently begun writing paranormal stories through an alter ego.

Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I am actually pleased with my overall pace. I used to be concerned when I felt that I wasn’t progressing along too well, but I’ve learned to manage my stress much better. Perhaps, this is why I have multiple storylines at any given time. I typically aim for at least 3,000 words/piece/day. There are days when I’m able to achieve this and days when I’m not able to. I try to remain focused on what I produce instead of how many words I produce.

Plotter, pantser or both?

I used to be big on plotting out everything. This method never works out entirely because there’s a certain level of spontaneity that’s needed, so I try to keep a healthy mixture.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

I am my worst enemy in getting through the first draft.

Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

I’m always motivated to write, though I don’t always have the time to do so.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing? 

photo (7)

 

I love the fruity energy booster! Now this picture is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I try to go to the source – people from different backgrounds, regions and experiences.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

I celebrate “The End” of a draft by taking a day or two off from writing. I might also go to happy hour with my friends, as a method of relaxing.

Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

Although I enjoy many aspects of editing, I believe in having my work edited by someone else. I also have certain parts of Marketing outsourced.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

I came across this site when I first published, and have since used it as a reference point:

http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com

Is women’s fiction the genre you will brand yourself with or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I most enjoy writing women’s fiction, with a twist. I’ve recently taken on an alter ego and ventured into paranormal. I hope to continue to grow and expand.

Would you like to share with us links where we can find you and your work?

You can connect with Janice on

Website: www.culturalcocktails.com

Talk show: www.blogtalkradio.com/culturalcocktails

http://myculturalcocktails.wordpress.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/JGRWriter

FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/Cultural.Cocktails

&

https://www.facebook.com/jgrwriter?ref=hl

Google+https://plus.google.com/104579627944902429382/posts/p/pub?partnerid=gplp0

LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/pub/janice-ross/58/691/894/

Thank you, Janice, and best of luck with The Island Hopping series!

14 Examples on How to Sharpen Your Sentences (reblogged)

Pic picked up right from Jenni with an “i

Cheeky, cheeky writer Jenni Wiltz finished a draft and all she could think of is “word bloat!” Who hasn’t been there? But Jenni is not one to sit and ponder for long. After some serious line-editing, she shares her takeaway from this process in an excellent blog post I had to share. What drew me to her site? Her clever tagline:

“They say modern writers need a “platform.” I have plenty of these in the closet, but apparently they aren’t the right kind.”

So, without further ado, here’s Jenni for you 🙂

_______________________________________________

I just finished the third draft of a book that’s going to take at least five drafts to finish. The biggest problem until now was sheer word bloat. I knew I couldn’t make the additions the book needs until I made a buttload of subtractions. Imagine trying to evaluate the health of a garden when it’s so full of weeds and overgrown shrubbery you can’t see a single stalk or bloom. All you know is there’s an awful lot of green shit underfoot.

To hack away at that green shit, I focused on sentence-level editing. This meant fixing (or deleting) things like:

  • Sentences that use imprecise verbs or descriptions
  • Sentences that convey the same information in two different ways
  • Bloated sentences with filler words like “just,” “only,” “that,” etc.

This is no small task. And a lot of writers never do it.

These days, a popular piece of advice for self-published writers is to PUBLISH AS MUCH AS YOU CAN, LIKE, A MILLION WORDS A YEAR AND IF YOU DON’T NO ONE WILL EVER DISCOVER YOUR WORK LET ALONE BUY IT AND YOU’LL NEVER MAKE A DIME AND THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO PROVE YOU’RE REALLY COMMITTED.

This strategy might work for some people, but I’m not one of them. For starters, I don’t see how it’s possible to publish that quantity of words that have been edited and polished to perfection. As Miracle Max said in The Princess Bride, “You rush a miracle man, you get a rotten miracle.”

How to Look at Revision: Don't Rush Your Miracle.

For the spot-on examples right from Jenni’s own manuscript, click here for the rest of the article.

When you’re done, come back here to learn about

The 4 Elements of a click-worthy title” and what to do

When beta readers come with an agenda

and if you don’t want to miss any posts, just subscribe on the upper left corner.

Thank you for reading!

Karli Rush – WIP Interview

Karli Rush Author picThis week, I have the pleasure to present to you paranormal romance author, Karli Rush. Karli’s life is as lush as the vegetation surrounding her, so I’ll let her introduce herself.

Hi all! I’m a card carrying member of the Cherokee Nation and live in its capital. Although my Native American heritage is a shadow of who I am, it holds sway more than I want to admit sometimes. Crazy how subtle influences shape the world. I have the patience of a brain surgeon operating under fire in a war zone. You can chalk that one up to being the mom of an autistic kiddo. With the passion of a starving artist, I write. The obsession to tell my tales have led to self-publishing the Crescent Bound series plus the beginnings of two additional series. The Veil Realm series is dystopian based, and the No Death for the Wicked is an alternative vampire romance series. Both currently have book one published.

Karli, thank you so much for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, can you clue us in some more about your life? It sounds toughly exotic if you allow the oxymoron.

I’ve traveled the US from Florida to California and always wind up back in Oklahoma. I’ve worked in Hospice, been an EMT and a dental assistant. I’m an advocate for autism. I love mountain biking, traveling, and experiencing new things. I’ve been as up as the stars and as down as a grave. I’m content and challenged as an author. It’s more therapeutic than I want to admit.

What are you working on right now?

The fifth and final book in the Crescent Bound series is Ice Bound. We get the chance in Ice Bound to experience book one (Crescent Bound) from Marc’s point of view. This is much more than an alternate version of book one. It delves into Marc’s world which holds so much discovery that wasn’t seen in the first book. It really allows me to bring out more of Marc and Alyssa from a different point of view.

Great name choices for your main protagonists! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I like to feel the accomplishment of pumping out several thousand words, but then I ultimately want the best story I can have and therefore kind of throw word count out the window. I’ve written several books that have no ending until they do.

Plotter, pantser or both?

I couldn’t plot my way out of a wet paper bag. I feel the vibe and let it flow out of me.

I’m totally with you on that one. What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

We have a fairly chaotic daily existence. Autism tends to create priorities that puts my writing on the shelf several times a day. So, my enemy is the juggling act that comes with being a mother of an autistic child. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and find the challenge fun and rewardingly exhausting.

(Un)fortunately, I empathize. Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

If I don’t feel the vibe then I start looking for a way to get inspired. In most cases several hours of good music and a bottle of pinot noir tends to set things straight when I need. I also will take a long mountain bike ride or trail hiking through the forest.

Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Writer's Cave

 

Sweet! Now your pic is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

Not really. Youtube provides my music while I write and that is a must.

How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

Champagne, chocolate, and a romantic dinner.

That’s refreshing! Most authors reply with a “by starting the next book!” Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

I’m not sure that it’s the confidence in me that drives me or is it more of a control issue, but I handle all aspects of publishing (outside of editing). I write, format, revise, design and create the book covers. I handle the uploading, pricing, marketing, print publishing, and social networking. I haven’t seen a publishing house or independent that will give me what I want yet. Although I am considering outsourcing the print formatting, but that’s it so far.

You’re a one-woman-show! Amazing! Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?

Marketing? Oh my, this one is my weakest points, I think. I use facebook, twitter, amazon, my blog, your blog to simply give myself the opportunity to be seen. I have an online street team that is very beneficial, you girls rock!!! I also believe that word of mouth is still by far the best form of advertising you can ever get. I also like the 80-20 philosophy, meaning, I love promoting others and sharing about 80% and direct marketing my books about 20%.

Your blog is rushbound.blogspot.com. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

My blog is a free platform that I try out new things on. I have done several character interviews with a fictional host and that was fun. I’ve run promotion, interviews, general updates on my work. It is my Pandora’s box of stuff. You’ll never know what I may try on there. Last fall, I wrote an entire story chapter by chapter on there. Then I published it for free on Barnes and Noble. It’s a ghostly novella. Here’s the link  The House .

Thanks! Is paranormal romance the genre you will stick to or do you see yourself branching out in the future? I love paranormal romance, but I already have a contemporary romance brewing in my head along with more sci-fi and futuristic adventure romance stories as well.

Fun stuff now: Let’s do a rapid fire round.

  • Flavored sorbet or chocolate ice cream? Definitely the flavored sorbet.
  • Pizza or sushi? Sushi, sushi, sushi!
  • Twilight or The Hunger Games? The Hunger Games, I love Jennifer Lawrence. I think she’s a badass.
  • Ryan Gosling or Benedict Cumberbatch? Absolutely Ryan Gosling but my husband is a big fan of Sherlock Holmes.
  • Trek in the Andes or snorkeling in Tahiti? I would much rather trek than swim, so the Andes it is.
  • Ugg boots or red-soled designer stilettos? Stilettos, and now you know one of my fetishes.

Finally, please share with us links where we can find you and your work.

Web  http://www.wix.com/crescentbound/karli-rush#!home|mainPage

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/karli.rush1

Twitter https://twitter.com/KarliRush

Blog http://rushboundblog.wordpress.com/

Blog http://rushbound.blogspot.com/

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Karli-Rush/e/B007DJNOMW

Thank you, Karli, and best of luck with your future projects!

If you enjoyed this interview, read what Whitney G, author of the wildly popular Reasonable Doubt erotic romance series has to say on Starbucks, post-it notes, and how writer’s block made her a best-selling author. Click here.

Thomm Quackenbush: WIP interview

Thomm Quackenbush is a fantasy author living in the Hudson Valley of New York. He has written three books in the Nights Dream series – We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods – with another to follow early next year, as well as many stories. He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted, and was once unwittingly a teenage gigolo before getting sacked for non-performance. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings.  

Thomm, thank you for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why dont you tell us a few things about yourself. Is your present as multi-faceted as your past?

My day job is teaching adjudicated minors English. Given that gangs seem to recruit from outside special education classrooms, this can be challenging on several fronts. I’ve taught two young men who went on to become murderers, but I am fairly confident I also just taught my first student there who will get his MBA.

When not writing, I do a fair bit of research for my books and promotional events. For Artificial Gods, I attended meetings and sky-watches with a group of UFO contactees, though I saw only planes. I have recently fallen in with a group that is researching the possibility of a nest of sasquatches in my town (which is, genuinely coincidentally, the setting for two of my published books and my soon-to-be-published one). This is fairly exciting since I have no idea how I will end up weaving this into a future book, but I almost have to. The Bigfoot researchers are genuinely nice people, whatever others may think of their theses. I also just returned from a stint on the artist alley at Otakon, the largest anime convention on the East Coast. I did not have spectacular sales, but I spoke to a lot of people and made a couple of connections.

Last month, I married my partner of three years, Amber Haqu. We immediately embarked on a honeymoon in California, then to Otakon (she is an artist), and then a vacation with my family, which was about three solid weeks where we did not see our own apartment for more than eleven hours at a stretch, usually while asleep. All this relaxation took its toll. I am thrilled to get back to writing and eating food less than 50% fry oil.

Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

My next book is Flies to Wanton Boys, explaining why the mythic aspects of the world (called daemons in my series) are so few and threatened with extinction unless Gideon, a reformed murdering body thief who only inhabit small animals at the moment, can convince Shane Valentine that she must have a hand in stopping the Purging from obliterating what remains of the supernatural. Unfortunately for him and for the daemons,  Shane despises him for having tried to make her one of his flesh puppets and otherwise tearing her from mundane reality, so she is somewhat of a hard sell on playing messiah to a collection of nightmares and fantasies.

Intriguing! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I don’t know that I am happy, necessarily. I have a half dozen books in different forms, but I think this is the current pace that befits them. If I could spend all day writing, I still don’t think I could work as quickly as my fans (or publisher) would prefer. I work at the pace that allows me to be functional and that will have to suffice for now, unless I can get a sentient operating system that will compile my notes and make sure I am not abusing the continuity.

Plotter, pantser or both?

I keep my plots loose to give my characters room to grow and tell the stories they need.  I tried to be more rigid with Artificial Gods, but found that my protagonist Jasmine refused to submit to certain plot points.  This ended up being a crucial aspect of her character and made her story much deeper than I initially intended.  When I went to revise for my revelation, I found that it was well foreshadows already. Tricky characters.

I do start with an outline and tend to know how the book has to end, but I find surprises in how the characters get there. Clive, a decidedly minor character in We Shadows and Danse Macabre (so much so that he was not formally named in the former and did not appear beyond a name and a few severed, latex feet in the latter), has turned out to be one of my favorite actors in Flies to Wanton Boys, since he points out flaws in supernatural logic while riding the line between funny and pesty. I didn’t intend for him to take on this role, since he only previously existed as proof one of my characters had other friends, but he seized it with apparently characteristic gusto.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Wanting to fix it before I have reached “the end.” I spent years getting each scene “perfect” in We Shadows, only to cut 60,000 words of that supposedly perfect draft to get it publishable. I’ve also heard that the scenes I did not labor over are seen as better, so who am I to argue? When I am starting a new draft, I just write and hope I can clarify any tangles of plot during revisions. Until one finishes a book, it’s hard to say what it will actually end up being about anyway.

Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

I tend to always have something I should be writing, so I can flit between pieces when one well goes dry (which is likely why I have so many books plotted and half-written while procrastinating my main project). Occasionally, I need to sit and read a whole book straight through to rejuvenate my mind. Either the book will be marvelous and I will be jealous enough to have a fire lighted under me (and the sloth burned out of me) or the book will be dreck and I will want to write to spite those authors.

Reading is always win-win. Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

For the most part, I can’t be too comfortable if I am to be productive. For instance, I am answering this particular question on a hard plastic chair in a Laundromat while a man attempts to fix one of the machines with much banging (I assume he is trying to fix it. At this point, he could also be trying to get out a decade worth of frustration or he might be engaging in a vigorous bout of performance art). In my prior apartment, I wrote on the floor of a small closet on a 9” Asus Eee because it balanced sensory deprivation with discomfort. Now, I write in a corner of my bedroom on a plastic desk or outside my apartment before breakfast. When I moved into this apartment, the agreement was that Amber and I would share the studio space, but it quickly became evident that I would never be able to dig out working space among her cardboard and paint. (She talks about a future apartment, where there is an office for me that she can decorate. Our friends realize she is just trying to talk herself into two studios, since I would want only walls full of butcher paper for outlines/timelines and a strong wi-fi connection. Any furniture or extraneous decoration would simply become something I would play with instead of writing.)

Balancing sensory deprivation with discomfort to write. You just gave me the pitch of this interview. But, hey, Elphie looks comfie! Maybe not after sitting on him for hours though, right? Now your workspace picture is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest. Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

I use WriteMonkey to get a distraction-free draft out of me, since it doesn’t even tell me if I have misspelled something. I have also set it to make a clicking sound as I type, so I have come to associate that sound with productivity and type faster.

I think Dropbox or something of that ilk is essential for any writer and its backup has saved me more than once. The editor for Danse Macabre pointed out that a few chapters were corrupted to gibberish symbols, but I was able to find a copy among the archives that had a nearly complete version of those sections, saving me from tearing out my hair.

Though it may not strictly fall under the umbrella of this question, I am an annual participant of National Novel Writing Month, during which I bang out the first draft of a new book. It helps me to make connections and foreshadowing between books, since I am always two or three books ahead of what are on shelves, and it is so much easier to work with fifty thousand words of imperfect prose than a few pages of unwritten ideas.

I am also a huge fan of pen and paper. I know this makes me a Luddite, but I get my best and least distracted drafts when I am just handwriting. It helps that Amber got me a carbon fiber pen for one of our anniversaries, so I feel obligated to make great use of it.

Let’s bring back the “a pen to a writer” gift! How do you intend to celebrate writing The End on your draft?

By immediately starting work on the next one, which is already fifty thousand words thanks to NaNoWriMo. As I see it, I’ve got miles to go before I sleep, to borrow Frost’s phrase. Plus, I have honestly had enough celebrating recently to last me until next year.

Good luck with that! Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?

For my novels, I am grateful that Double Dragon Publishing handles everything from editing to cover design to distribution. I have beta readers, but it is hard to convince people who are not getting a paycheck that you would like their revisions within the next three months. My wife is currently my best reader and it could be because I can gently pester her over dinner.

I have started posting stories to the Kindle, which has been a fine experiment so far. I intend to make those works that are currently Amazon exclusive more widely available to make room for the next crop. For that, I lean on my artist wife for cover design and farm my editing out to a few interested parties.

Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites youd like to share?

I am still experimenting with my approach. I will say that doing conventions and panels greatly increases the interest of the reading public, though it is far from reliable and tends not to be cheap (I have only earned appearance fees from No Such Convention, which is always a fun time). In general, I recommend connecting with other authors online and see what they are up to. Very few authors these days can survive in seclusion.

If you aren’t on Goodreads, get there immediately. At the very least, it will incentivize you to read, but it also has several methods of connecting to interested readers.

True words! Your blog is http://xenex.org. Do you follow a specific branding pattern with your posts or is it a free writing platform?

It is mostly free writing, though I separate it into entries about my life (which I tend to mine for my books) and essays about writing. I’ve tried other topics, but these are the ones I tend to stick to, since I can offer a more informed opinion.

Is contemporary fantasy the genre you will brand yourself with or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I have plans at least for a realistic comedy centered around my wedding, though it will lean more heavily on fiction than fact. However, it is hard to contest that my fantasy series sells and Double Dragon Publishing is eager to put out as many books in the series as I can write. Any author who says they are not in it for royalties is welcome to sign them over to me.

Anyone to take Thomm up on his offer? 🙂 Would you like to share with us links where we can find you and your work?

For my novels: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/eAuthor.php?Name=Thomm%20Quackenbush or http://www.amazon.com/Thomm-Quackenbush/e/B004ZQYE5W/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&linkCode=ur2&tag=xenexorg-20&linkId=FW7MA5L7AG5I4ZEI

 

For me in general: https://www.facebook.com/ThommQuackenbush

http://thommquackenbush.tumblr.com

or 

https://twitter.com/thommq

Thank you, Thomm, and best of luck with your current project!

Leo Valiquette – WIP Interview

leoLeo Valiquette is the author of The Sword and the Skull, an adult epic fantasy that he is currently pitching to agents. Leo was brave enough to submit the first chapter of his novel to a cross-blog critique event this blog participated in. I must admit I was seriously impressed! Next step: an in-depth interview on writing processes, aspirations and how monetizing your writing can improve your physique!

Leo, thank you for being here. Before we talk about your WIP, why don’t you tell us a few things about yourself?  

I live in Ottawa, Canada, with my wife and nine-year-old son. I’m going to cite the old writer’s cliché that I have a fairly boring life. When not writing, I am trying to keep up with my reading. I keep a 65-gallon fish tank. I’ve also tried my hand at sword classes and making my own chain mail and leatherwork as research for my writing.

These days, I’m a freelance writer and marketing and public relations consultant. Much of what I do is helping businesses market their products and services, through content marketing. I was a journalist and a newspaper editor; those experiences have definitely helped with the discipline required to just sit down and write, and take constructive feedback. 

Exercise in lean writing: give us a synopsis of your current WIP in under 200 words.

To quote my query letter:

A disgraced soldier and the blind witch he loves find themselves on the run, carrying the fate of their world in a nondescript canvas sack that bishop, warlock, and sorcerer alike would kill to possess.

Since fleeing the Holy Clerisy, Ryn and Josalind have tried to build a quiet life as dealers in religious relics. When the haunted skull of the evil demigod Zang arrives on their doorstep, Josalind is convinced it’s her destiny to prevent Zang’s return.

After Zang’s worshippers capture Josalind and the skull, Ryn has one desperate chance to save her and prevent the demigod’s resurrection. He must steal the Clerisy’s holiest relic, a sentient sword that can enslave its wielder. The sword’s thirst for a final victory over Zang could break Ryn’s mind and cost thousands of innocent lives.

Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?

I’m in that Limbo right now between projects. The Sword and the Skull is technically my fifth novel, but it’s the one in which I have made the greatest strides to improve as a writer. So it’s been a learning tool as well as a WIP with the intent to publish. Aside from some shorter stuff, it’s been my principal focus for several years.

And now that I am “done” and querying the MS, I’d have to say I’m not happy with the pace of my work at all. Revising and tweaking is far less daunting than starting from scratch with a blank page. I need to muster the ambition to start the next project. If I can average 1,000 words a day, I’ll be happy.

Plotter, pantser or both?

Half of one, three quarters of the other, I’d say. I need to know in a general sense where I am going in order to start the journey, but not to any great detail.

What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished?

Time. What else? I have the advantage of being self-employed. This gives me the flexibility to juggle personal writing and client work in the course of a normal workday, depending on how busy with client work I am.

When I punched a clock for an employer, my only available writing time was of course evenings and weekends. So, while having that flexibility during the day now may seem like a godsend, it’s also led me to slip out of the habit of writing in the evening before bed. When I’m in my busy seasons for client work and don’t have the time during the day, it takes a lot to keep my writing from sliding off the radar and get back into that nighttime groove.

Have you ever experienced lack of inspiration or drive to write? If so, how do you motivate yourself?

Healthy eating and exercise is the sovereign cure. Seriously. About 16 months ago, I took a fitness challenge with a personal training gym, and I haven’t looked back. My blood pressure and cholesterol are the lowest they’ve ever been. My body fat percentage went from 28 to 16. I’m 44, and in the best shape of my life. I have more energy, more focus. And because of my skills as a writer and content marketer, I am exchanging services with the gym instead of paying for what is a premium service. Never forget – a strong writing skill is a currency all its own, even if you never make the New York Times best seller list.

That’s a new one! A healthier lifestyle to combat writer’s block. Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring for writing?

Leo's officePicture of my home workspace attached, complete with swords and skulls.

Here is a panoramic of my favorite local coffee shop: http://bit.ly/1pLgB8H

Very cozy! Now your workspace is pinned on my Featured Writers’ Workspace board on Pinterest! Apart from Word and Google, do you use any other writing or research tools and apps?

Not really. Unless the Lord of the Rings soundtrack counts 🙂

I’m sure it does! How do you celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?

I take a break to read a book. I find it hard to focus on reading for pleasure when I’m drafting.

Would you consider self-publishing if the process of acquiring an agent takes too long?

That’s a tough one. I’m only now at the point where I truly believe I’ve learned enough, and gained enough insight into my own writing, to have a marketable product. I know there are many writers out there who are excellent writers and self-published successes. But I know too, there are many people who have succumbed to their own impatience and self-published works that just weren’t ready. I still see reputable agents as the gatekeepers of quality, and as business partners and advocates to shoulder the administrative burden of managing a career.

But it is a highly subjective business, and if the agent route continues to disappoint, I might very well decide to self-publish. If I do, I will make sure to invest in professional editing and original cover design. You need every edge you can get.

Do you have any marketing or professional tips you’d like to share?

I’ve often drawn the comparison between a writer seeking publication and an entrepreneur trying to bring a product to market. You have to treat this as a business. As with any business venture, you must be prepared for failure, and you must see every failure as a learning opportunity.

The sooner you can accept your weaknesses, the quicker you can move past them and be the better for it. You can’t become a better writer without checking your ego at the door and taking to heart the most eagle-eyed and frank criticism you can find. Usually, this means someone who has been through the ringer with agents and publishers.

So after you’ve accomplished all you can with the kind of feedback you get from friends, family and your writing group, it’s time to cultivate a more battle-scarred network of people. Go to conferences. Attend workshops. Socialize online. Even pay for professional editing and MS assessments – BUT research carefully to ensure you are dealing with a reputable individual who will give you good value for your money. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there looking to fleece you.

As every successful entrepreneur knows, the key to marketing is to have a compelling product your audience wants. It’s practically impossible to create that in a vacuum, locked away from the rest of the world.

Is epic fantasy the genre you will brand yourself with or do you see yourself branching out in the future?

I’ve got a few different directions I want to go. The Sword and the Skull is the first in a planned series. But I have also written shorter works – 6,000 to 12,000 words – that will be the basis for books in different genres. One is an adult sci-fi dystopian, set in my part of Canada. Another is a contemporary dark fantasy.

Would you like to share with us links where we can find you and your work?

I am on Twitter: @LeoValiquette

You can find the first chapter of The Sword and the Skull at wattpad.com: http://www.wattpad.com/66499562-the-sword-and-the-skull-chapter-one?d=ud

Thank you for sharing your work process and workspace and best of luck securing an agent for The Sword and the Skull!