Sunday, October 23, 2011

4th Sunday Surprises

Three years.

Four novels.

Four rejections.

And thirteen months of fabulous blogging.

What have I learned about writing during this time?


To much information.

In my novels it comes out in too wordy sentences or redundancy.  In my query letters it was too much information that didn't really matter for the book I was trying to publish. (I mean, how are you supposed to condense a 90K novel into two-three sentence pitch?) Then I talked too much and shared information with my friends or in this blog about what I was writing about and how excited I was.

Then the moment I hit send to my queries, I realized it wasn't good enough and I just probably shot myself in the foot by sending them out. The moment the words would leave my mouth, all the enthusiasm I felt for what I was writing sort of vanished. Editing my completed novel was like swallowing copious amounts of sickening sweet syrup.

It wasn't until recently when I realized what I was doing. Last winter you might remember me working on a "secret" project which I finished in 45 days. Nobody knew what I was writing about until I was 5K from finishing it. It felt great living in my little fantasy world for a month. Never once did I feel pressured nor did I ever hit creative road blocks. That experience should have been my first biggest clue on how my brain works.

This summer I've met several fantastic authors. When asked what they are working on next, they replied by saying whatever the next book coming out was. Some mentioned what they were working on, but most kept their current project mum, saying they don't like to talk about it, because it ruins the creative flow.
They weren't ready to let people into their world.

This week I discovered that is how I work as well. No matter how exciting my current project may be, it's best I keep it to myself for a little while longer. By the way, whose doing NaNoWRiMo with me next month?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

3rd Sunday Sweets

Welcome to 3rd Sunday Sweets. Today I'm going to review a book I recently "read." Why the quotations? Well, I read a lot but there are so many books out there that I love and want to read. It comes down to time. Luckily my day job is one where I can listen to audio books. So I download them from the Multnomah County Library into my MP3 player. Needless to say my days are much more enjoyable.

Photo courtesy of Jeaniene Frost Facebook Page
This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost is probably my favorite of all five Night Huntress series. First of all, Jeaniene has the most fascinating imagination laced with impeccably timed humor.

I first discovered Frost in the anthology Death's Excellent Vacation. I instantly fell in love with Cat and Bones, the heroine and hero of her series. I went to the library and put all the books on hold. Of course, book 3 and 4 were ready to check out before the first two. I read them anyway. There is so much action and suspense in these novels at times I have to set the book down and grab a glass of wine to calm my nerves.

This Side of the Grave takes place many months after Cat has been fully transformed into a vampire. Of course her list of oddities or anomalies continue even after the "grave." Because of this the ancient ghoul, Apollyon, begins rallying the troupes against the vampires using Cat as the target. War threatens to break out between the undead species and Cat is stuck right smack in the middle of it all. Between blood pumping fights, scalding love scenes, emotional tragic moments and fantastic humorous one-liners from Bones, This Side of the Grave delivers on all levels.

The reason this book is my favorite of the series is Vlad Tepes. Of course! He has a larger roll in this book and my favorite quote is:

"'What was that?' I gasped. 'Premature inflamulation.' He replied. 'Happens sometimes. Very embarrassing. Don't like to talk about it.'"

There are so many others. Between crying, laughing, fanning myself, and gritting my teeth the book entertained me in all possible ways. Thank you, Jeaniene for writing such a wonderful work of fiction to make this girl's day.

One Grave at a Time, Book 6 is out now and I'm looking forward to "reading."  Right now I have zero room in my condo for anymore books. So I'm waiting to buy a Kindle this winter before I purchase the whole series plus the spin-off books in e-book format. Till then, the library is my very best friend.  Click on the titles of this post to purchase your very own copies.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

2nd Sunday Savors: Research

Poenari Citadel, Romania
Due to the popularity of my Dracula's Castle post last spring I decided to add a Part 2. When I visited my motherland two years ago, I had planned on doing research for my first vampire novel. I didn't think I would be able to make to Poenari, but luck smiled on me. Sit back and travel with me through my little adventure to the castle of the fabled undead Count.

First I wanted to see what it would be like to hike to the top as my heroine did in my book. Armed with my camera and water bottle, I climbed the 1400 steps. Just as I was about to turn around because the steps seemed to never end this is what came into view.

Of course I couldn't turn around now! I practically sprinted up the remainder 100 steps leaving my poor cousin huffing and puffing to keep up.  This is what you see when you enter the citadel.

This "corridor" leads to the central tower there you can take a peek of the side of the fortress.

The view is looking east towards the south tower. As you can see above stone and red brick make up the wall. The lower section of the wall made of grey rock is the original wall. The brick lay is a result form the restoration attempt done more recently.

The south tower and possibly the place from which Dracula's first wife leaped from during the Turkish invasion. 

 Looking down from the south tower at the Arges River. It's pretty far down there. Chance of survival-pretty much non-existent.  The road next to the river leads to a large dam, hydro-electric station, and a gorgeous mountain lake.

 This walkway is where the north wall once stood and leads to the main square tower. Several earthquakes and centuries of neglect caused the wall to collapse down the side of the cliff the citadel is perched on.

 Looking down at the bottom of the tower. You can see  where the wooden beams crossed. A documentary I watched regarding this fortress mentioned the floor once stood there forming a perfect holding cell for prisoners. They would lower their captives down into the dark dungeon with no chances of them getting out. 

Here is Lake Vidraru which feeds the Arges River. The peaks you see beyond are the Fagaras Mountains and the homeland of my vampires. Those mountians are full of legends and myths, but I'm developing my own because I can. It's the beauty of writing fiction and fantasy.

Research is very valuable to writing. From research you gain inspiration for your work. I write in first person most of the time so it's very important for me to experience some of the things my character would. I have to see how things feel, taste, sound, and look like. Of course there are things I can't experience first hand.

When I went to Smart Chicks Tour, author Jennifer Barnes' advice (and I paraphrase): If you have a choice between trying something new or writing, do the new thing.

Excellent advice. New experiences supply you with an arsenal of interesting things to spice up your novel.

Thanks for reading. Next week 3rd Sunday Sweets. I've been reading lots of fun books lately. Hmm, which one shall I pick from....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

1st Sunday Snippets

Greetings friends,

Welcome to my new blog schedule. I'm going to be blogging every Sunday and this is what you can expect:

1st Sunday Snippets: I get share a short scene or piece of dialogue no greater than 10 or 11 lines of my WIP.

2nd Sunday Savors: I talk about writing or share any helpful advice I’ve gleaned along the way.

3rd Sunday Sweets: Where I review a book I’ve recently read and loved.

4th Sunday Surprises:  Well, it's a surprise. 

I developed this schedule as a means to keep me on task and for you to hold me to it. Of course if anything new or exciting happens during the week, I'll definitely share it. But for now this is the plan Stan. So here it goes. 

Currently I'm working on two different projects: a contemporary romance novella and revision of my vampire novel. For today I'll share a snippet from the vampire novel. Originally the story focused more on the vampire side of things, but in the revision I'm adding more supernatural elements such as elves and shape shifters. My heroine is a young human woman raised by a vampire family. She discovers she has a past she didn't even know she had until assassins and mercenaries began showing up on her front step. This scene is taken about 1/4 into the MS and right before the inciting incident.

I stopped dead in my tracks. After three days of running, I would not go down like a hunted animal. Everyone I loved was dead because of me. My home destroyed. I had nowhere to go. Despite my efforts I failed—miserably. It had to end now before any more innocent people died. 

I raised my arms above my head. With careful steps I turned to face the relentless hunter. The sounds of the leaves crunching under my feet and the wind whistling through the trees blended with the violent thumping in my chest. 

He stood several dozen feet away. His unnatural green eyes watched me from behind his bow primed with the lethal arrow awaiting release.

“Do. It.” I said through a taught jaw. 

Death faced me and I welcomed it with open arms. 

Thanks for reading! 2nd Sunday Savors next week.