Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Talking inspiration

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a friend, Bill Richards (who goes by the far more serious formal author name of William D. Richards), to take part in the Writing Process Blog Tour, which is a series of linked blog posts by various authors about their writing process. From what I understand, the idea originated with fantasy author Heidi Garrett.

The idea behind it is that each author answers four questions about their writing and then enlists (coerces, cajoles) other authors to join the tour. And so far, quite a few have. So, in other words, if you link to Bill's post, you can then link back to the fellow who enlisted/coerced/cajoled him into participating, and so on, and so on, until by golly, the end of time. That's right, the end of time!

Okay, maybe not that long. But it does make for an interesting thread to follow. It also gives you a lot of ideas about how each writer finds inspiration and then acts upon it. Isn't writing wonderful like that?

So, that said, before I dive write into those FOUR WRITING QUESTIONS, I want to thank Bill for asking me to participate (and beg him to keep quiet about any embarrassing stories he may have on me from high school...yes, we go back that far).

Oh, and who is Bill? Yes, yes, that's a perfectly good question.

(Let's pause so I can clear my throat to use my most serious writer's voice. Think of it as a cross between an Orson Wells wine commercial and a Morgan Freeman voiceover...)

William D. Richards discovered writing at an early age thanks to a writing exercise by his fourth grade teacher and since has been bewildering people with his wild flights of fantasy. Yet, it was only recently that he began writing in earnest when the Great Recession forced him into making an involuntary career move. He splits his time between writing, promoting, and coaching others how to take the leap into publishing for themselves. His book, Aggadeh Chronicles Book 1: Nobody, is available through most ebook retail channels. You can find his blog at http://www.williamdrichards.com/

And now, let's dive into those FOUR WRITING QUESTIONS, shall we?

What am I working on? 
So, here's my Daleks master plan:
·  First, I'm working on promoting the heck out of Pictures of You. Oh, wait, have I done that here yet? I've got this book, see? It's called Pictures of You. I hope you'll check it out...and if you haven't yet, let me make it easy for you: in case you haven't secured your copy, I'm making the Kindle version available for absolutely NOTHING for the next five days, starting today! So what have you got to lose? It's free! Why not pick up what one reader described as " a delightful, page turning experience for readers of all ages"?
· Next, I'm in the revision process for my next novel, The Late Night Show, which I'm planning to issue forth from Green Victoria Press around the end of the year. Think Pictures was creepy? Late Night is even darker. It's all about webcams, but with a Rear Window kind of twist. Here's the scoop:

The camera doesn't lie, but it may not tell the whole story, either. That’s what college freshman Kami Corley discovers when she meets a strange girl named Jeanette in a webcam community and receives a disturbing plea for help. Drawn into her story, Kami tries to help, but one Friday night at the stroke of midnight, she realizes her efforts have deadly consequences, when she becomes a witness to cold blooded online murder. 

Or is it? Without knowing who Jeanette really is or where she comes from, Kami is not sure what to believe or where to turn. But one thing she learns, and quickly: she's now caught in a web from which there is no escape…and next time, she may be the victim on the inside, looking out.

· After that? Well, of course, there's always Confessions of a Diva Rotundo, a murder mystery told from the hammy lips of the ultimate community theater actor, looking to clear himself of being the murder suspect and still get that standing ovation on opening night. And there's also a YA fantasy called Amelia's Bones, which my friends have been asking me to publish for years. So, just a few things in the hopper...

How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
Hmmm, that's an interesting one. I'd rather talk about what my stories tend to focus on, rather than how they are different from the rest. In order for a book to interest me, it has to have a strong central character. A lot of times I write about people who don't have perfect lives: gender identity issues, absent parents, single moms, siblings with autism, kids who are bullied. A lot of my work is about giving voice to voices that don't fit the norm. Some that lack the courage...and some, that hide in the shadows.

And then, I put them through hell.

Why do I write what I do? 
I was dropped on my head as a child. Twice. That's the only way to explain, I think.

But then I suppose there is a kinder, gentler way of looking at things. I've been writing since the first grade, ever since my dad tucked me into bed with stories about Nancy Drew's younger brother and the Lone Ranger and Tonto. And my first thought: "I don't want these stories to end." And that's why the stories keep coming.

How does my writing process work?
Usually my process starts by being distracted by something stupid. Like, tonight's story was about the world's oldest cat. No, seriously!

Oh, all right. It starts as an idea. Usually something along the lines of: "Wouldn't it be funny if?" I recently wrote about how Pictures of You came into being on the wonderful blog Skewed Notions. That was completely a "what if" sort of story.

But more than that, there's the sheer mechanics. When I am knee deep in writing a book, my goal is to write a least one page a day. That's all: just one page. After a year, you'll have 365 pages, right? And I do it the hard way, too: hand-written, on a yellow Legal pad (anyone who has seen my handwriting will know what a chore that is to decipher). That makes the first typed draft a first edit, of sorts.

And then comes the re-writing. And the re-writing after that. And editing. And input from friends. I can't help it, I take my time. I want the end result to be as good as I can possibly get it. Well, when I'm not being distracted by cat stories, that is.

Passing the hat. 
What, have the four questions been answered so quickly? My how time flies. Okay, so I am now tagging two other accomplished artists, who have just seven days to come up with their own responses. They are:

Kira Tregoning is a language enthusiast, writer, and book lover. I met her while she was in the process of rolling out her latest novel, She writes mostly fantasy right now, although she has some ideas for expanding into other genres. She lives in Maryland with my meddling cuddle-monster of a cat, Mama-Sita, who enjoys getting in the way when she's trying to write. No, she is not the world oldest cat. Her website is found at: http://theworldofcora.wordpress.com/

And then there's my dear friend JM Cornwell, someone I consider to be a mentor and an inspiration. Jackie was the person who dragged me kicking and screaming into the world of self-publishing, and I love her for it. Jackie has contributed stories to several Chicken Soup, Cup of Comfort and various anthologies. Her first novel, Past Imperfect, was published in 2009 and her second, the terrific, Among Women, came out 2011, and she is currently working on a sequel called Among Men. She can be found at: http://redroom.com/member/jm-cornwell.

Rock on, ladies! I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A sleeping dog at Ugly Dog

Saturday was my second book signing at Ugly Dog Books and we decided to take Kyra with us. Although I had some concerns about bringing a puppy (on the second day we've had her) to a store for a signing, here's how she ended up. She was a perfect angel...friendly with everyone and didn't whimper once. Kim, the owner at Ugly Dog, said she is welcome any time.

As for the signing? It went really well. Signed a few books, met up with some old friends (including my favorite teacher from high school), had a local cable station that came to interview me and also received an invitation to discuss the book at a book club. Pretty happy with those results. Now I have to plan the next one.

Oh! Also have been asked to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour, which is a series of linked blog posts by various authors about how their writing process works when creating a new story. I was asked by William D Richards, the author of the The Aggadeh Chronicles, who's also an old friend. How old? Well, we may have actually been in band camp together, many years ago. He played the saxophone, which is a lot cooler than what I used to play. (DON'T ASK.) Anyway, his post about the writing process is up on his site, and mine will be in about seven days. After I write a bunch of other nonsense. You know how it goes.

Anyway, this is going to be a short entry. Honestly, the puppy is wearing us out! I mean, she is a great dog, but...well, she's a puppy, you know? It's tough squeezing everything that needs to be done now into one day. My biggest concern now: when are we going to find time to shop for groceries? Seriously, that cupboard is looking pretty damn bare...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Stupid Shit I Read in People Magazine (May 5 edition)

Nicole Beharie: The Sleepy Hollow star star has come up with a shudder-inducing way to make sure she looks her freshest for the camera. "I just got into doing cold-water splashes in the morning," says Beharie, 29. "When we have to wake up at 4 in the morning to be on-set, I will put ice cubes into a bowl and push my face into them. Basically, I dunk for apples in a tub of ice." 

"Corb," I said last night, well into a delicious lemon drop martini. "I know how much you hate getting up in the morning. I have a suggestion for how you can look your freshest. I know you like to look your freshest for work."

Corb groan could be heard through the restaurant. "This is one of those stupid things you read about in People magazine, isn't it? I may need another drink for this." And with that, he took a swig of vodka and cranberry. "Okay, Ted. How can I look my freshest in the morning for work?"

"I'm so glad you asked! All you need to do is to put ice cubes into a bowl and dunk for apples in a tub of ice."

"Ah...ha." The Ringmaster lifted an eyebrow and looked at me critically. "You want me to wake up in the morning and dunk my head in a bowl of ice cubes? That's a little Mommie Dearest, isn't it?"

Question mark? "What do you mean, Mommie Dearest?"

Corb smirked. "I'm surprised you never heard of it! It's a classicly bad movie from the early 1980s, starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. She's the famous Hollywood icon who had a less than ideal relationship with her daughter. Wire hangers, gardening sheers. It's kind of a gay cult thing--"

"I know what Mommie Dearest is, moron. I saw it before you were born. But why is dunking for apples in a tub of ice like that?"

"Because that was Joan Crawford's beauty routine! She had this morning ritual where she would scrub her face and arms with soap and boiling hot water, then plunge her face into a bowl of ice to close the pores."

I lifted up the top of my martini ice container, staring down at the bottom at the glinting cubes. "It's nice to see beauty hasn't changed that much in seventy years. And that's why you owe it to yourself to look your freshest in the morning, Corb. Hey, I could take these ice cubes home with me, if you'd like, for tomorrow morning. Just to get you started on your new routine!"

"Oh yeah, right. Thanks." Corb finished off his drink and turned to face me head on. "We're going to have a new routine, all right. A new beauty routine. For YOU. You see, I read in Marie Claire the other day that there's another beauty secret that another star has that would be just perfect for you! You see, all you need to do is to dunk your head in the toilet bowl every morning after I've performed my morning constitutional. It's guaranteed to make you look you sparkling clean for all your friends all day long." A pause. "Just make sure you use a towel to wipe everything off."

Touche. I lifted up my martini glass. The main course was getting ready to be served. "It sounds refreshing. I'll pass."

"Oh no. I insist. Dunky dunky, Ted! Dunky dunky."

Sigh. Bring me another Old Fashioned, please. I grabbed a few ice cubes for my martini and closed the container on the ice container. Plunky plunky. Well. Looks like neither of us will be looking our freshest in the morning any time soon...