Sunday, February 26, 2012

4th Sunday Surprise: Ski boots

Because I have nothing too writerly or authorly to share, except I have so much to share, but can't talk about it right now... If you know what I mean. So I'm going to talk about something that has nothing to do with fangs, felines, fins, & fun fiction: skiing. (but it actually does, keep reading...)

Yup, it's still winter in the Northern Hemisphere and here in the Pacific NW, we still have plenty of snow on the mountains. But I will rewind a bit.

Let me take you back 8 years when a young 25 year old single female moved to Portland, Oregon so she could go skiing in the winter and hiking/backpacking in the summer while enjoying the benefits of a big city such as shopping and fine dinning.  Oh and to be closer to her rapidly-approaching-retirement parents too. Within the first three months of her new life in the coolest city in the US, she met a certain handsome stocky fellow who loved to hike/backpack, read speculative fiction, and SKIED.

He took her skiing a couple of times up on the iconic fixture of Portland (when it's not cloudy) Mt Hood. Long rides on the chairlifts coupled with the four hour round trip car ride, led to interesting conversations and other things. Okay, you all know where I'm going with this.

A year and a half later, the young girl had a ring on her finger and a new last name. And while their happily ever after still continues one thing died after the wedding: the skiing. The one thing that had brought them together they stopped doing. Oh, he continued to ski, but she stopped for various reasons. Sometimes it was finances (skiing is an expensive sport). She then missed two years, because of a broken toe and the thought of cramming her foot into a ski boat set her teeth on edge. And then laziness set in. After a while of not skiing, one starts to question their skill and fitness level.

Well, Thursday on the anniversary of their first date, the man took his wife down to REI and bought her:

Boots, Skies, & Bindings
Sexy wool socks
And Helmet & Goggles
Mt Hood Meadows

Friday, he dragged her butt up to the mountain and she skied for the first time in SEVEN YEARS! Boy, did she have fun. The best part about the day is she got done and realized her knees didn't hurt. Having skied her entire life on crappy rentals, she felt like a champion getting her groove back on after a long sabbatical. Having the right gear makes a world of difference.

I guess you can compare this with writing. You can spend years trying to emulate another author's techniques or "rent" ideas, but until you own your personal style, it will never seem right. Once you figure out YOUR voice, YOUR expression, YOUR story, your writing "knees" will stop aching because your feet will be in YOUR shoes. Not in someone else's. Sure you'll be sore, but the good kind.

See writing lessons can be learned in every situation, even in skiing.  My advice: get your own writing "boots"!



PS. Did you notice The Marked launch countdown widget? I will be part of Inara Scott's Blog tour in April. So excited!!!! Check out the short post I did a year ago on The Candidates (book 1).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

3rd Sunday Sweets: Bridge of Scarlet Leaves

Some of you might remember about a year ago I wrote a blog review for Letters From Home by my friend Kristina McMorris. Well, this year she has a second novel coming out, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, and I had privilege of reading it months ago (one of the perks of being a writer & friends with authors).

Here is a brief bio of author and details of story:
KristinaMcMorris is a graduate of Pepperdine University and the recipient of nearly twenty national literary awards. A host of weekly TV shows since age nine, including an award-winning program, she penned her debut novel, Letters from Home (Kensington Books, Avon/HarperCollins UK), based on inspiration from her grandparents' wartime courtship. This critically praised book was declared a must-read by Woman's Day magazine and achieved additional acclaim as a Reader's Digest Select Editions feature, a Doubleday/Literary Guild selection, and a 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for Best Historical Fiction. 

Her second novel, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves (March 2012), has already received glowing reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, among many others. Named one of Portland's "40 Under 40" by The Business Journal, Kristina lives with her husband and two sons in the Pacific Northwest, where she refuses to own an umbrella. 

Brief story description:

Los Angeles, 1941. In spite of her Julliard ambitions and family's wishes, violinist Maddie Kern secretly elopes with her Japanese American boyfriend—the night before Pearl Harbor is bombed. When her beloved Lane is interned at a relocation camp, she dares to remain at his side. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.  

Skillfully capturing one of the most controversial episodes in recent American history, Kristina McMorris delivers an authentic, moving testament to love, forgiveness, and the enduring music of the human spirit.

So what do I think of this critically acclaimed WW2 novel? First of all I must mention I'm not a fan of this genre. It never appealed to me, that is until I read Letters from Home and discovered a wealth of beauty from a not-so-distance time in history. Second, Kristina has such an exquisite talent for telling a very emotional story, that she could probably write about the robots falling in love and I would still fall in love with the characters and story.

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves left me teary-eyed, in awe, transformed, and hopeful. There is no way you can read this lovely poignant story without being changed. Kristina takes to you a place in history where terrible events took place, even on our own soil, and shows how love can conquer all. 

The biggest shock for me was when I read about the work camps all the US Japanese citizens were forced to live in during the war. I had no idea such a treacherous thing took place here in America. They never really talked about this in high school history. Then there were all the American spouses who chose to live in these dismal conditions just to be with their loved ones. This part of the story blew my mind. 

The relationship between Lane and Maddie will bring tears to your eyes, warm your heart, make you scream, and take your breath away because the power of love has no bounds. I highly recommend this beautiful novel to anyone and promise you won't be the same person after you've read the last page.

You can pre-order (to be released February 28th) your own copy of Bridge of Scarlet Leaves here.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2nd Sunday Savors: Traditional vs Self-pub

Tillamock Lighthouse, Oregon Coast

Why don't you just self-publish? If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me this question, I would have enough money to pay someone to publish and promote my book while I vacation in Hawaii for six months.

Over the last year, I've taken great consideration to the question. With e-publishing becoming so popular, many authors rejected by NY are still getting their book out there and some with more success than ever. Several authors in my RWA chapter that have gone this route and are able to support themselves financially.

You know what? I think it's great! I'm so happy to see them succeed, because they deserve it. The relevant question is what the author wants? Are they willing to query their hearts out to NY and wait for months while assistants dig through the slush piles or do they want to see their book out in print within six months?

Does the author want to hold a beautiful hard cover copy of their book they've shed blood and tears writing and editing or will they be satisfied with the digital copy on Amazon or B & N?

These are the questions I've asked myself since I started writing 3 years ago. There is nothing wrong with either route of publishing. In my opinion, NY is the way to go because they have high exceptions expectations. Therefore I strive to write to their standard, even if in the end I publish with a smaller independent company. When I have a product I'm proud of I will see where the industry is and will make my decision. If I find an e-publisher that provides the same quality and marketing drive as the big six in NY and they want my book, I certainly am not going pass the opportunity.

Till then I will write, write, write, write.....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Winner

Sorry Blogger Amy with no last name. You didn't claim your prize from the Valentine's giveaway so I drew another winner.

Cici "I really enjoy all kinds of love stories. They don't even always have to have a happy ending for me to enjoy them. These two books are high on my TBR list. I do enjoy the paranormal a little more than I ever thought I would."

Congratulations. Please email me your mailing address at melania (dot) tolan (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

1st Sunday Snippets: 1st Kiss

Haystack Rocks at Cannon Beach, Oregon

Oh my goodness you guys are amazing! Thank you everyone that participated in the giveaway. I wish I could give each of you a set of these books, because I love them so much. I also wish I was a fairy princess with intergalactic travel powers and a closet full of every color of boots, but we won't go there....

Without farther ado, the winner for the Valentine's Giveaway is: Amy  and she said: "I love Lisa Schroeder and I'd love to win her books. I love variety of genres from science fiction to mystery to romance. I love having teenagers and little kids at the same time because I am discovering and enjoying alot of new to me young adult authors as well as children's authors right now as we read together."

Please email me your address at melania (dot) tolan (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll get the books to you ASAP.  IF I DON'T HEAR FROM YOU BY WEDNESDAY I'M GOING TO DRAW ANOTHER WINNER. Thanks again everyone and a special thank you to Lisa Schroeder for being apart of this giveaway. You inspire me, girl.

Okay, so it is 1st Sunday Snippets and since we're on a Valentine's theme I'm going to include the first kiss scene in the fantasy YA novel I'm editing write now through EditPalooza. The scene is between Eva, my heroine, and Ilie, a HOT young Orthodox priest, inside the catacombs of an ancient church. Enjoy.

“It doesn’t matter, we’ll discuss it tonight.” He pats my hand. “Regardless darling, I need to get going. Will you have dinner with me beforehand?”

“It would be my pleasure.” I say. My eyes drift down to those perfectly kissable lips.

“Come back around seven?”

“Yes.” Before I lose my nerve I lean forward and press my mouth to his for a short second. “Thank you for taking care of me last night.”

His face freezes with shock. I know then I have crossed a forbidden line.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.” I pull away, but don’t get far.

His hands grasp the sides of my face and his lips crash into mine like a bullet train headed to Bucharest. The heat of his touch is dizzying. Tiny explosions like sparklers spread across my skin. He softens his kiss for a moment and then deepens it. Time seems to stand still. My hands find his chest. I can feel his heart beating like a mighty drum and with each thump waves of energy surge through my body.  

My lips part inviting him in and he doesn’t hesitate. The taste of salt, spice and wine fill my mouth awaking a hunger so profound my muscles twitch with need. And then he pulls away leaving me breathless and wanting more. We stare into each other's eyes in the torch-lit room.

“I’ve been wanting to do that since the first day I say you by standing by her grave.” He whispers.

Thanks for reading!