Thursday, May 23, 2013

Making Stupid People Understand


So, I'm guessing lots of you think my title for this post is harsh. Let me explain. Do any of you have totally clueless people in your lives who don't realize how much work goes into writing? Or maybe you have an idiot or two who thinks the time you spend online is the equivalent to the guy above. I don't have a magic remedy for these idiots, but I think venting about them is a great way to cleanse ourselves of bitterness and possibly keep us from tearing up our pretty lawns to bury dead bodies in our backyards. :P

For any non-writers who stumble upon this post, be assured we writers aren't sipping chardonnay in front of a crackling fire while we delicately stroke our keyboards. NO!!! And our time on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and our blogs, isn't idle chit-chat about fluffy poodles. We're retching our guts out as we struggle to eek out another chapter, or we're trying to convince the masses we're cool enough for them to be our friends and maybe persuade them to check out our books. Some of us are running on dang little sleep, yet the house is clean, our babies went to school looking like they stepped out of a magazine, and the fish/cat/dog are still alive because even though we stayed up most of the night blogging, plotting, and stalking Amazon, we still did our stinking part to keep our ships sailing as smoothly as possible.

How's that for venting? I could say tons more, but I don't want my eye to start twitching again. However, I'd love to hear some rants from my fellow writers. Before I sign off, I'll leave you with this lovely thought.

Until next time, happy writing or whatever makes you smile. :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Delancey Stewart's Novel, A Rare Vintage


Today, I'm excited to promote A Rare Vintage, by Author, Delancey Stewart. 


Isabella DaSilva, a fiery grad student from Cornell's wine program is eager to leave her past behind
her and forge a future in the vineyards of the West as an apprentice at Chateau Sauvage, a winery seeking to produce wine like no other California wineries had so far -- Rhone varietals.

She arrives at Chateau Sauvage to find that wine might not be her only interest. The winemaker, Jonathan Sauvage, is tall, dark, and handsome, and clearly in need of help. Together, they work to make a pioneering wine in an effort to keep the struggling winery afloat. Each struggles with their demons -- hers in the form of a painful and mysterious past; his created by memories of what once might have been. In the process, they find that the pain of their shattered pasts fit together perfectly, making their union as perfect as the wine it produces.

A Rare Vintage features an intense and commanding hero who isn’t afraid to ask for help, and a woman who knows that while she might technically be the apprentice, she has plenty to teach Jonathan Sauvage.

This book is the first in the Wine Country Romance series.
 For a chance to win a kindle digital copy, click on the link below, and add A Rare Vintage to your Goodreads, anytime between now and May 31st

Delancey Stewart is the author of Through a Dusty Window: New York City Stories 1910-2001 and A Rare Vintage, the first in her Wine Country Romance Series. A Rare Vintage releases on May 31st.
She is also working on the Girlfriends of Gotham Series for Swoon Romance. The first book, Men and Martinis, will be released in fall 2013.
Stewart has lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns. She's been a pharmaceutical rep, a personal trainer and a wine seller. Despite lots of other interests, she has always been a writer in some way shape or form.
A military spouse and the mother of two small boys, her current job titles include pirate captain, monster hunter, Lego assembler and story reader. She tackles all these efforts at her current home in Southern Maryland.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It Feels Like I'm Standing On A Stage In The Buff!!!!


I'm buzzing with nervous, giddy energy! While randomly searching for my debut novel, Sebastian Falls, on Amazon, I about fell over! The day I've dreamed about is finally here. Though my official release date isn't until June 1st, advance paperback copies are available for purchase.

With all the excitement, comes a hint of fear, but it's a healthy kind of terror, lol. That old monster, doubt, tries to shake me, but whenever the negative thoughts hit, I push them to the back of my mind. Hope outweighs all my emotions as I look forward to the endless possibilities that come with achieving a dream.

Even though it feels like I'm standing on a stage in the buff, I'm waving my arms in the air and yelling, "Whoopi!!!!" So, I suppose I should post my blurb and get on with the show. If any of you are interested in participating in the Sebastian Falls' blog tour, click on the link below. 
Also, a limited number of copies are available for early reviews. If you're interested in reviewing Sebastian Falls, please click on this link

A year after her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old, Meadow Parker is close to having a grave of her own.
Beyond her shrink’s false diagnosis of PTSD, there’s no medical reason for her failing health. Only she knows the cause. But if Meadow told the truth—told them what comes for her at night—they’d lock her in a padded cell.
Grasping to help her find closure, Meadow’s best friend, Casey Somner, drags her to the place her parents were obsessed with—the historical landmark that fuels Meadow’s fears and nightmares.
Once Meadow steps foot on the hallowed ground, she has a supernatural encounter that leaves her stricken with terror, but charged with power, fulfilling the legendary prophesy about the coming of The Keeper.
Both the holy and the unholy have waited over a hundred years for a new Keeper to resurface. Like it or not, Meadow’s destiny as Keeper is sealed, and the battle for her soul begins. A sharp double-edged sword, she will either save the world from Armageddon or fast track its annihilation.

Click the link above to check out Sebastian Falls. Until next time, happy writing or whatever makes you smile. :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Story Killers


Let's talk about useless crap that sucks the life out of our stories. For some of you out there in cyberland, this may be a painful post to read. I'll give you all a minute to hide your toes before I put on my spiked shoes. Who says I'm not a sweetheart?

What I'm about to share is nothing new, but for some reason, I run into these offenders a lot, and I've made it my life's mission to banish them from the grid. Before I list the devils, I'll make a confession. The truth: I used to do ALL of the below, and sometimes I catch myself about to do them again.

#1 For me, reading the words, "going to" is worse than having a nail hammered into my face. Yep, I hate those two words that bad, and after this, you will too. Starting now, your life is forever changed. Don't bother trying to put this out of your mind because from here out, "going to" is your enemy. If you write about baking cakes, don't you dare say, "I'm going to bake a cake." Instead, write, "I'm baking a cake." If you need help banishing the combo from your vocab, we'll have an official ceremony. Write "going to" on a piece of paper, call your friends over, and bury the words in the dirt. If your friends refuse to participate in the funeral, bribe them with booze, chocolate, or fruity candles. Island Breeze isn't a good choice, but all other scents might work.

#2 When you talk, do you say what's on your mind? Or, do you grimace, grin, snort, sigh, and fume the words out of your mouth? DON'T go nutty with speaker tags to give your dialog muscles. Your dialog should be powerful enough to SHOW readers what's up with your characters without resorting to tags that will actually weaken your dialog and brand you as a newbie.

#3When a character reads other character's minds, but they have zero superpowers. Nope. That doesn't work. We don't know what people are thinking, but we can guess by their body language and expressions, so if characters aren't SHOWING visible signs of distress, another character shouldn't assume they're breaking down on the inside.

#4 A character reacting to something before the surprise is revealed. You all know what I'm talking about, but I'll give an example anyway. (She gasped and fanned her flushed cheeks. Through the cracked blinds, she gazed at Johny sunning by the pool in the nude.) Wrong. (She cracked the blinds to gaze at Johny and spotted him sunning by the pool in the nude. Her eyes widened. She stumbled away from the window and fanned her flushed cheeks.) Right.

#5  In real life, if somebody does or says something shocking, we react accordingly. Same should go for our characters. If Tommy tells Sally that he beat his pet iguana with a rubber hose, Sally might call him a brute, smack him in the nose, and rescue the battered lizard. Not that I'm a fan of scaly reptiles, but heck, even I would give Tommy his coming ups. So why do I continually read books (even novels contracted by big houses) with characters who aren't connecting emotionally? I don't get it.

All righty, I could keep going, but I don't want you guys to think I view myself as the queenie of writing. I thought maybe somebody out there could benefit from this post. A little while back, somebody pointed this same stuff out to me, and it made all the difference in my writing.

Until next time, happy writing or whatever makes you smile. :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Insight From Author/Editor, Eric R. Johnston, And A Peek At His Latest Novel, Children of Time


Today, I'm excited to have author/Editor, Eric R. Johnston, hanging out on my blog. Eric's latest novel, Children of Time can be found at Amazon by clicking on the link. (those of you looking for a digital copy, his official release date is May 15th) While you're there, check out his other great books too!

Eric has agreed to do a Q&A with me, but first, I want you to check out his blurb for Children of Time.
Shawna McCullough is enjoying a quiet evening with a book when her six-year-old daughter, Alexis, awakens and talks of dreaming about her own death, describing it in vivid detail. They fall asleep next to each other, but when Shawna wakes up just after midnight, instead of her daughter, she discovers a strange man in her bed. She also now has two daughters, neither of them Alexis, and she’s nine months pregnant. This is only the beginning of the strangeness as she discovers the man is just as confused as she is. He is Mark LaValley, a police officer who claims to have been killed in this same house years earlier while answering a domestic dispute between her and her husband, a dispute that led to his death. Except in this reality, he is no longer a police officer but a substitute teacher. It isn’t long before Shawna and Mark realize they have been entrusted with guarding “the children of time,” as a demon known as Zuriz Falcon, who has been exiled to another realm, sends his henchman to kidnap the girls, including the one she’s pregnant with. Only with the powers of these three “children” and that of a collection of unique books can Falcon be released from the dark realm to unleash his evil upon the world.

Hello, Eric! Thanks for stopping by! I bet you’re super pumped to have another novel out in the world.

Thank you for having me, Celeste.

Could you tell us a little bit about your new novel, Children of Time?

Children of Time is about a demon trying to escape a hellish exile and will stop at nothing to do so… or is that really his motivation? This demon is quite tricky, and nothing he says or does can be trusted.

Can you speak to the writing process?

After completing A Light in the Dark, I began a novel I called Temporal Winter. The title came from a play on the phrase “nuclear winter,” which describes a particularly bad outcome of a nuclear war. This story was about a war between time periods instead of nations. In the distant future, humans develop “temporal weapons” that have the ability to erase people or events from history. The novel opened up with a temporal attack on the present.
The novel just was not working. Maybe it was too difficult, or maybe I couldn’t stop thinking about the how the fate of the villain of A Light in the Dark was left pretty ambiguous. I kept thinking about the dark world he’d been exiled to…thinking about what he was doing there. So I decided to write another novel that I called City of Evil.

When I finished City of Evil, I realized I didn’t have enough story for a full-length novel, and what I had served better a back story to something better anyway. So I put it that aside and began working on Temporal Winter again. Then it dawned on me that these were actually two parts of the same story, that it was really the demon in the dark world affecting time, not humans from the future.
Children of Time ties into An Inner Darkness and A Light in the Dark, but is intended to be read as a stand-alone novel.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing my whole life, but first decided to tackle a novel-length work in 2009 when my friend, Andrew Utley, and I outline what would eventually become Harvester: Ascension.
After completing Harvester: Ascension, I immediately began work on a novel I called The Twins of Noremway Parish, which eventual became two books titled An Inner Darkness and A Light in the Dark.
I began my new novel, Children of Time, shortly after completing A Light in the Dark.

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to make their way into print? Is there anything they can do to catch the attention of potential agents/publishers?

First, you have to have a good novel to sell. So write, write, write, write. You will get better with every word. Next, before you send it anywhere, EDIT! EDIT! EDIT! Take the editing process seriously. Whether it’s your own read-throughs or a beta-reader. Take it seriously, take the critiques seriously, and don’t be afraid to cut crap. Don’t worry about word count or page count. If it’s crap, cut it. If it needlessly slows the narrative, cut it. If it’s self-indulgent, cut it. Don’t tell yourself you need to write everything you know about the story. No, if it isn’t 100% required, cut it!
Don’t tell yourself that you will fix whatever is wrong with the book when you have the help of a professional editor at Harper Collins or Random House…no, your editor is not your mother and will not tolerate your laziness. Suck it up and do the work to polish the book, or your novel will be thrown out like a piece of trash.
Also, I can tell you from my own experience reading through submissions that a writer wanting to be published needs to represent themselves and their writing well in their query and synopsis. If your query is poorly written, full of mistakes, etc. why would I think your novel is any different? Not only am I looking for a good story, one I would buy, one that I believe others would buy, I am also looking for something that wouldn’t make my eyes bleed while reading it. If I’m yelling at the page, complaining about adverb overload and a plethora of misplaced modifiers, I’m far less likely to recommend your novel for acceptance. Publishers have so many submissions to go through, so there is no patience for a lack of care. If you don’t care enough to polish your novel, don’t expect someone else to.

We’ve seen a lot of recent changes to the publishing industry and the avenues available to writers seeking publication. Do you think the changes are good or bad?

I assume you are referring to self-publishing avenues as well of the growth of small press publishers. I think they are very good. I can tell you I actually enjoy the “indie” novels I read far more than those published with a major publisher. That just goes to show that people are writing a lot of good stuff that would otherwise fall through the cracks.

Whenever anyone disses a self-published book, I like to remind them that Thomas Paine (author of “Common Sense” and The Rights of Man) self-published his work and he is one of the greatest and most influential writers who ever lived.

Since you’re also an editor, can you tell us a few things that drive you crazy when you’re going over other writer’s manuscripts?

One thing that really drives me absolutely insane is mistakes that I see many, many, many, many authors making. Mistakes that I have no idea why so many people get wrong. Although this is country-specific because different countries have different rules on this, but it really gets on my nerves when I see a manuscript filled with single quotation marks…you know, ‘these’? I thought this was common knowledge, but apparently it’s not, but in American fiction single quotation marks have ONE purpose, and ONE purpose ONLY—a quote within a quote. It is not to indicate a word used for a special meaning. It is not used for thoughts. It is not used for dialogue not spoken. It is used for a quote within a quote, and that’s it!
Besides other countries having slightly different rules on this (outside of North America quotation marks are used in the opposite way), the only thing I can think of why this is such a common error is the common use of the single quotation mark in news headlines. The AP uses its own set of rules to save space. You will find single quotation marks in the headlines and you will find the “s” dropped off a possessive name that ends in “s” (e.g. John Roberts’), things that would be considered incorrect in an American novel.

I know you’re also an avid reader. What does it take for a story to take your mind hostage?

I used to teach a reading class. One the things I told my students was that reading is a conversation between the reader and the text. The text has the words, the story, the characters, but the reader brings with them the experiences, interests, and knowledge to interpret them. In this context I would say a story needs to be relevant to me, important to me. It needs to change my life in some way. A life-changing story for me may not be the same as for someone else (which is why the idea of an absolute literary canon is total bunk).  It doesn’t have to be the greatest story, but what the story has to say has to be something that makes me a different person—makes me see the world differently—than before I read it.

Wow, those were great answers! I hope you guys took notes because that guy knows what he's talking about. When you leave here, be sure to pop over to Amazon to read an excerpt of Children of Time

Until next time, happy writing or whatever makes you smile. :)


Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Finish Line--An IWSG Post

Happy first Wednesday, everybody!

I'm kind of in a euphoric state right now, so forgive me if the post looks like it was written by somebody who's boozed up. I may even cry. Feel free to cry with me. I have extra tissue.

Yesterday, I finished my FINAL round of edits on Sebastian Falls. I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!
It's been a long journey to get where I'm at, but I wouldn't trade a single joyous, agonizing second of it.

Looking back to the beginning, I can recall all the emotions I felt when Sebastian Falls worked its way out of my head. Mostly, I was full of hope--a daydreaming dork determined to find my way into print.

When I wasn't writing, I tortured people, forced them to read excerpts of my crappy first draft or rambled about the HUGE success that I believed was coming my way. I'm sure lots of them wanted to knock me in the head with a blunt object, but usually, I got a lot of eye rolls and blank stares. A few seemed genuinely interested and excited. Those are the ones who helped me make it to the finish line.

I think we need cheerleaders to keep us going, because without them, we're likely to trip and be devoured by doubt. It's our little circle of believers that jerks us to our feet, waves us on, and stays behind to beat doubt with a stick while we rush to gather crumbs of confidence scattered along the winding path toward our goals.

If we're fortunate enough to have even one person to believe in our dreams with us, then we're a force that can't be stopped. We're suddenly rock stars who may sing off tune, but  our pitchy performances don't matter because there's always tomorrow and an opportunity to get better. Pay no attention to Simon. What does he know?

As always, thanks to our Ninja Captain,  Alex J. Cavanaugh 
and to  Lynda Young, Mark Koopmans, and Rachna Chhabria! for co hosting this month's edition of The Insecure Writer's Support Group Bloghop

Until next time, happy writing or whatever makes you smile. :)