Monday, September 28, 2009

Giveaway - Choices Meant for Gods





On Thursday, October 1st, and Friday, October 2nd, I'll be reviewing and interviewing author, Sandy Lender. Sandy is on a month long blog tour. As part of her tour, she is giving away an autographed hard copy of her first book in the Choices Trilogy, Choices Meant for Gods.

You may have already read some reviews and commented on some blogs who have hosted Sandy. I would encourage to stop by and comment here on Friday and/or Saturday. Sandy will be "pulling names from a hat," to determine who will win her book. The more times you comment, the more chances you have of being the winner.

After having reviewed the second of the series, Choices Meant for Kings, I know I would love to have a copy of the first book. In fact, I've visited several blogs and left comments in hopes that I may be the fortunate winner.

Hope to "see" you all at the end of the week, and remember to leave a comment for Sandy.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

How Easy Is It?

Sometimes as writers, we complain about how difficult our task is. We work alone. We often aren't paid much for what we produce. We have no health insurance. We can barely pay the bills unless we have an outside source of income. But really, when we take time to look back at what writers used to endure, we really have it easy.

I watched the movie Becoming Jane, the other night. While it was fictionalized, I suspect the screenwriters did their research and provided us with a fairly accurate depiction of Jane Austen's life and how she worked. I watched while she wrote with quill and ink, her fingers smeared black, as she struggled with her words. Then, the finished product, wholes cut from the paper where she needed to change what she had written. Imagine no computer, not even a typewriter with carbon paper. Each word laboriously handwritten. Mistakes carefully cut from the paper. What did the writer do if her manuscript was lost in the post? There was only one copy, after all. One thing is for certain, if the intended market said no, by the time the manuscript came back, the writer would have to re-write the entire manuscript. No quick method of going to one's computer,opening a file, and printing a new copy.

So, if you ever start to feel sorry for yourself and how difficult it is to be a writer, remember Jane Austen. Oh, and by the way, Jane published her works anonymously, so never received fame or fortune. Yes, we do indeed have it very easy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Celebrate!

Today is National Punctuation Day(http://nationalpunctuationday.com/). Remember to celebrate by doing some of the fun things suggested on their web page.

Punctuation is a writer's friend, and you need to learn how to use it properly. There are plenty of web sites available, not to mention great books dedicated to the proper use of punctuation.

Happy writing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blog Talk Radio

Tomorrow, Thursday, September 24th will be a milestone for me. I am having my first ever live interview. Barbara Ehrentreu will be interviewing me on her new Blog Talk Radio Show - Red River Writers Live - Tales from the Pages (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/RedRiverWritersLive/2009/09/24/Red-River-Writers-Live). Also on Barbara's show will be Virginia S. Grenier, author, editor and publisher. Ms. Grenier is the founding editor of Stories for Children Magazine (http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org/default.aspx) and author of the children's story Babysitting Sugarpaw. (http://vsgrenier.com/BabysittingSugarPaw.aspx)

I'm honored that Barbara wants me to appear on her show, but honestly I'm more than a bit worried. I'm one of those writers Hope Clark refers to as a "shy writer." I've always been hesitant to speak in public and perhaps one of the reasons I gravitated to writing was because I could write more comfortably than I could speak. It should be interesting talking with Barbara about my writing, even though my voice might crack and my hands will get sweaty. Fortunately, she was kind enough to send me the questions in advance so I won't be caught completely off guard. We'll be talking about short story writing, which is what most of my fiction writing is.

Part of being a successful writer these days is being able to market yourself. You can't depend on your publisher to sell your books or make your name a household word. You have to be willing to go to book signings, host a table at a conference, and, yes, talk live on the radio. Barbara has offered me an opportunity. While I was hesitant at first to do this, I do understand the value. I'm amazed at how many published writers there are these days. With the opportunity for self-publishing, eBooks,online publishing sites like Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/), and of course traditional publishing houses, it's more important than ever to market yourself and your work.

If you have an opportunity tomorrow, join Barbara, Virginia and me at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/RedRiverWritersLive/2009/09/24/Red-River-Writers-Live. I hope to see you then.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interview with author Beverly Stowe McClure




I’m pleased to host Beverly Stowe McClure today, author of Caves,
Cannons and Crinolines
. Beverly would you please answer some questions
for my readers?

1. How long have you been writing and why did you start?

I’ve been writing since about 1990, which would surprise many people who knew me in my early years. I was the kid who hated to read. Even though my eighth-grade teacher sent my poem “Stars” to a high school anthology and it was published, I hated to write. But when I became a teacher and read great books and magazine articles with my students and my sons, I saw how much most children enjoy a good story. Maybe I was missing something. Then one day, I saw the Institute of Children’s Literature advertisement in a magazine, and thought it might be fun to try my hand at writing. So I took their course, and to my surprise some of my articles were published in leading children’s magazines. Encouraged by my success, I turned to writing novel length stories. And that, as they say, is the rest of the story.

2. What types of writing do you do (e.g. children’s, fiction,
non-fiction, adult, etc.) and which do you prefer?

My magazine articles range from ages 4 up to about 10. My books are mostly for teens, but I have a chapter book and a middle grade novel forthcoming. Teens are my preference.

3. Your historical novel obviously required a lot of research. How do
you do your research?

Much of my research for Caves, Cannons and Crinolines was done at Vicksburg, MS, the setting for the story. We visited there a couple of times, toured the battleground, the museum, and some of the old Victorian homes. I talked to a woman at the courthouse whose grandparents had survived the war. She was so interesting. When I learned about the citizens living in caves during the siege, I knew I had to tell their story. I bought a ton of books from the museum bookstore. Diaries are great because they give you a glimpse into the lives of the people, the way they spoke, the effect the war had on them, and not just focusing on the battle part. They also had copies of old newspapers. I have a huge Civil War library and used those books when necessary. The Internet also provided information about the city.

4. Your scenes appeared to be true to life. Do you write about places
you’ve lived or visited or do you primarily rely on research? How do you
create your settings?

I like to visit the place when possible. Caves probably would not have been written if I had not gone to Vicksburg. My idea came while I was there. In my paranormal novel, Listen to the Ghost, I also visited Charleston, SC, the setting of the story. Our oldest son lives in Charleston, so we’ve been there several times. Some of the places in this book are real: Fort Sumter, the street where my characters live.
The settings for my other novels are basically my home, where I live, the country, because I know it best.

5. Do your characters have attributes which you would say relate to you
or your family members? How do you create your characters?

My characters come about in different ways. I think some of them have a trait or two that’s me: the ones who are quiet, a little shy, but this isn’t a conscious thing I do. I found my ghost story main character when we took a twilight walking tour of the historic district in Charleston, where the guide told such great ghost stories to us. Then I read books about ghosts, until one day this little voice told me she was the one. And we wrote her story. My forthcoming chapter book is loosely based on one of my granddaughters, who is quite the athlete. My characters many times just create themselves. I get to know them as the story grows.

6. What is your writing process?

I don’t outline. I may have a first line, or a character, or an event (like the Civil War), and go from there. I love for the characters to take control of the story. Usually each draft gets more detailed as I learn more about the characters and their goals and problems. Yes, sometimes I have to make changes, add characters, take away characters.
As I get to know the characters, I make profile sheets for them. I also paste pictures cut from catalogues and magazines of what they look like. Interviewing them, too, is one of my favorite ways to get better acquainted.
I use index cards to help me keep track of what’s happening and not repeat myself. On the cards I write the setting, characters in this scene, and what happens. I love cliffhangers and try to end each chapter with one.

7. What would you like to see young readers take away from Caves,
Cannons and Crinolines?


That we shouldn’t judge others by where they live, their nationality, or preconceived ideas we have about them.

8. Tell us about your other writing.

I have three published novels for teens: Listen to the Ghost, Secrets I Have Kept, and Rebel in Blue Jeans. Two books are due out this fall, Just Breeze and Caves, Cannons and Crinolines. Two more stories are under contract: I Live in a Doghouse (MG) and Kate, Little Angel Sometimes (Chapter book.)

9. What was your process for getting your book published and how did you
choose Twilight Times Books?

Twilight Times Books has published two of my novels. For Caves, I submitted the manuscript to Lida Quillen, the publisher. She accepted it. My first book with TT was Listen to the Ghost. When I was researching houses that published paranormal stories, I saw TT mentioned on a message board. At the time they only published E-books. I knew nothing about E-books, but many of TT’s books had won awards, so I queried the publisher. She asked to see the manuscript and offered me a contract. Then TT started their trade paperback line, and in 2005, my book came out in print. Rebel in Blue Jeans was published in 2008, and Caves will be this fall.

10. What do you do to market your books?

Book signings at local libraries and book stores, though we have few of those in our area. I’ve been the guest speaker at club organizations. I send media releases to area newspapers, radio stations. My brochure for school presentations goes to area schools and libraries. Advertisements on Teens Read Too and other spots. I like the Virtual Book Tours. I do a workshop at the Muse Online Writers Conference. I’m a member of the Red River Writers on Face Book and enjoy the Blog Talk Radio shows they sponsor. I have many blogs. Book festivals are on my list, though I haven’t done one yet. I send postcards to friends. Whatever else comes to mind, because few people have a clue who I am.

11. Do you have any tips for authors wanting to break into children’s
writing?

Hang in there. Sometimes it gets discouraging. My writing room wall is plastered with letters from editors that wrote encouraging words. The form letters are filed out of sight. Be persistent. Never give up.

12. Do you have an agent? Do you feel authors need an agent? Why?

I don’t have an agent. Today, to get into the big publishing houses, a writer pretty much needs an agent. Most accept only work submitted by an agent. I’ve discovered that agents are hard to get. Someday, maybe I’ll find the right one. Until then, I’m doing fine.

13. Where can readers go to learn more about you and your work?

http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com
http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

14. Anything else you’d like to share with my readers?

Just thank everyone for taking the time to read my ramblings. And if you truly want to be a published writer, pen the best story you can, send it out to appropriate editors/agents then get busy with your next work. Try the small publishing houses. The ones I’ve worked with are very nice. It will happen for you, too.

Thank you for stopping by to visit with us today.

Thank you, Penny, for such great questions. I enjoyed answering them. Happy writing everyone.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review of Caves, Cannons and Crinolines




REVIEW

Title: Caves, Cannons and Crinolines
Author: Beverly Stowe McClure
Author web site: http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com/
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
url: http://twilighttimesbooks.com/
ISBN: 1-60619-112-8
Genre: YA historical
Format: trade paperback
Release date: Sept. 15, 2009
Price: $16.95
Pages: 220
Chapter excerpt:
http://twilighttimesbooks.com/CavesCannons_ch1.html

Caves, Cannons and Crinolines, is thought provoking young adult
historical novel. Set in the days of the Civil War where families are
torn apart, readers are given a very real picture of life in 1863. Ms.
McClure has clearly done her research and skillfully brings her
characters to life.

The main character, Elizabeth Stamford, or Lizzie as she is called by
her family, is a girl on the brink of young adulthood. Everything she
knows has been thrown into confusion and turmoil as the Yankees lay
siege to her home in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Lizzie’s two older brothers
have gone off to war, leaving Lizzie home with her younger brother, Nat,
her mother, two slaves, and her father, who is a doctor.

With shelling occurring on an almost daily basis, the family is forced
to move from their lovely home to a cave carved into the hillside behind
their house. Food is scarce, tempers are high, and living conditions
difficult. Lizzie is torn between her desire to please her family, and
her convictions that even girls should fight in the war. How does a
young girl deal with this conflict?

Lizzie has a lot of growing up to do, and in the midst of death and
despair, love comes calling in a most unlikely young man. Is Lizzie up
to the challenge? Will her family support her choice? Can love blossom
despite the stench of blood and the pounding of cannon balls?

We all know the North fought the South because President Lincoln
believed all men should be equal, despite the color of their skin. Ms.
McClure lightly deals with this subject as Lizzie struggles to determine
if her family’s slaves, Aunt Lois and Uncle Morris, are happy. Lizzie
thinks of them as family, but do they feel the same way?

Ms. McClure answers these questions and more, but you’ll have to read
Caves, Cannons and Crinolines to find out the answers/. /I know I
enjoyed reading this novel and felt transported to another time and
place each time I picked it up to read another chapter.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

National Punctuation Day

Are you confused about punctuation? A lot of people are and quite a few people are helping out by posting on their blogs about proper punctuation. One of these people is Vivian Zabel, a former teacher and now an editor and publisher with 4RV Publishing. Vivian has been running a series of posts on her blog about grammar and punctuation. You can find her posts at http://vivianzabel.blogspot.com/

Today, I received a newsletter from Barbara McNichol, author of Word Trippers. Once a month Barbara offers a free "word tripper," such as this month's "every day" and "everyday." In her latest newsletter Barbara also talks about National Punctuation Day. (You can sign up for your Word Tripper newsletter at http://www.barbaramcnichol.com/)

National Punctuation Day (http://nationalpunctuationday.com/) is September 24th and will be celebrating its 5th anniversary. The web site has a lot of useful information about all types of punctuation from commas to semi-colons and everything in between. Founded in 2004 by former newspaperman Jeff Rubin, this is a day dedicated to reminding people to use proper punctuation in schools and at work. At the web site, Jeff offers some fun things to do to celebrate the day such as getting out your red pen and circling all the errors you find in your daily newspaper.

As writers, punctuation is certainly something we all need to be aware of. Let's all celebrate National Punctuation Day by making sure our manuscripts can pass the red pen test.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Interview with author Pierre Roustan





Interview with Pierre Roustan

Hi, today I have author Pierre Roustan as my guest. Pierre is the author of The Revenants of Anarchy Series, published by Eirelander Publishing (http://eirelanderpublishing.com/) The first book of the series, The Cain Letters, will debut December, 2009. Pierre has been writing since the age of ten and studied creative writing and has a Bachelors in English.

1. Pierre, The Cain Letters, is about vampires, but your main character Alexandra discovers Cain of the Bible is the first vampire. How did you come up with this unique idea for a vampire novel?

I've always been a big fan of vampires: Bram Stoker's classic to the slick and sexy action-style vampires of "Blade" and "Underworld". I love 'em all. I'm spellbound by Anne Rice as well.

At the same time, religious theology and history fascinates me. The mystique behind it, the mystery, the complexity. I, myself, am a born-again Christian. So tying my work to God is essential. I love Dan Brown and his religious thrillers, so I did some research on mythology and theology. What actually helped me create the idea of Cain being the original vampire of the world was one of Wes Craven's horror films, a marvelous twist on the Dracula legend, the movie "Dracula 2000." The idea of Judas Iscariot being the real "Dracula" was so interesting to me that it fueled my research more to speculate and find pieces of Scripture that lent to the history of what might be what we call now "vampirism."

2. What drew you to the Bible as a basis for your story?

To my surprise, several verses in the Old Testament do hint at the possibility that many humans did practice what we call "vampirism," which shook my boots if you can imagine. Even vampire mythology hinges on a connection with Christianity, mentioning Cain as a figurehead. So I went from there. I formulated my own mythology behind it, using faith as my groundwork and research in the Bible. I wanted the story to be about forgiveness. Faith. And when I finished the work, I knew I had a series in my hands that I couldn't stop writing.


3. What was your process for researching the story?

I researched online and through intense Scripture reference. It helped that I already had a working knowledge of the Bible, though, or else I'd be much more lost. There were also other nuggets of truth I had researched years ago that I incorporated into the novel, such as the Apocrypha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, etc., etc. All those writings fascinate me on so many levels, and it helped round out and deepen the story for me.

4. Who served as "models" for your characters? Are any of them based on your own likes and dislikes, fears and goals?

It's funny that you ask that question, because my answer to your question before sort of segues into this answer:

The main character Alexandra Glade was created out of a model formed from some of my favorite heroes in films and even novels (although in literature, most of the characters I ended up admiring were male). There always seemed to be this appeal to me that the main draw of any story was a 'female' character who breaks the norm of what is considered 'female'. For instance: Ellen Ripley of "Alien" and Sarah Connor of "Terminator", or how about the "Resident Evil" films based on the video game? Who doesn't love a little Milla Jovovich?

There was always just something appealing about a beautiful woman taking names, kicking some tail, and gritting her teeth while she does it. Biologically, too, it's just a powerful statement, because in truth, based on survival, women have better instincts when it comes to staying alive. So to see it in action really makes it come full circle. To see the heroine survive makes it all worthwhile.

One other main character really does model me on many levels, and that is a young man in college named Marcus Brennan. In a way, he resembles me and has some of the same aspirations, wanting to find a purpose in life, struggles as a youth pastor (at one point in my life, I was a youth leader). Even his church in the novel is a reflection of a church I once attended. Even the college Marcus attends is the same college I had achieved my Bachelor's Degree! So there happens to be a lot of "me" in Marcus. He's one of my favorite characters.

5. What is your writing process?

I love that question, because sometimes I feel like the answer always changes: I generally do "shoot from the hip"; however, I always outline. It gives me a framework to fall back on. Character sketches are helpful for me, too, but sometimes not necessary for certain characters. By the time I finish the novel, though, the actual story and how it's formed is not quite similar to the original outline, which I always find amusing. My characters always seem to find a way of surprising me.

6. Do you have an agent? Do you believe they are necessary for first time authors?

Surprisingly, no, I don't have an agent. However, I do believe it's very necessary to hunt for one (I use the term "hunt" very strictly, as sometimes that's what it feels like!). Agents are crucial. For a year after completion of The Cain Letters, I queried to over 100 agents, receiving a few requests for the manuscript, some partial requests--but no takers. I obviously had some interest--

However, from a certain point of view, when in the mind of a literary agent, you have to understand just how insane their workload is. Compare it to an editor investing his/her time on work specifically for the publishing house. A literary agent works with not simply one publisher, but MANY publishers. It is HARD to grab the attention of an agent. HARD.

To land an agent is the customary path to breaking into the literary industry; however, it's not the only way. If you manage to cross the path of an editor who's willing to look at a manuscript without the endorsement of an agent, the stars can be aligned just right, and that editor wants a specific manuscript that you happen to have.

And that's exactly what happened to me.

7. How do you plan to market your book?

Facebook, Facebook, MySpace, MySpace, e-mails, contests, interviews, reviews, interviews, reviews, Facebook, Facebook, MySpace, MySpace. And lots of black coffee.

8. I see Eirelander Publishing is the publisher for your series. I understand you are an editor with Eirelander. Do you feel this gave you an "in" to have your series published? Why?

What I do happen to be proud of is simply that the publishing house and my editor contracted me BEFORE they decided to hire me in as a copy editor/junior editor. It was a gift in disguise that in numerous conversations, over time, my editor learned of my work history: several years working as a caption editor for TV networks and the B.A. in Creative Writing pretty much helped me land a position with Eirelander. But the truth was--my editor first liked my story enough to contract it.

9. What does Eirelander look for in books they accept for publication?

Currently, Eirelander is open to all fiction submissions--that includes all genres of fiction, as well as erotica and romance.

10. Tell us about your other writing projects.

I have a few in the works, along with the last two books of the Revenants of Anarchy series. I was fortunate enough to also have completed the sequel to The Cain Letters, entitled Chimera Falls, which Eirelander will be releasing as well. The series as a whole will be four books. I'm also currently working on a sci-fi urban thriller with a touch of fantasy elements, an historical fantasy thriller, a dramatic urban paranormal novel, and a psychological thriller. I'm taking projects one at a time, though, currently. But I would love to start tackling all these projects all at once. I also write poetry and would love to put out a collection for publication.

11. What are your future writing plans?

It's always been my biggest dream to make a living out of being an author. Not simply for financial reasons but practical reasons. I love to write. And I love the freedom it gives. To be able to make a living, provide for my family, by doing what I love--how can that not be anyone's dream in life?

12. Where can people learn more about Pierre Roustan?

Penny, it has literally been a tremendous pleasure, and I appreciate all the questions. You can find out more about the world of the Revenants at my official web site, http://pierreroustan.spaces.live.com, my Facebook at http://facebook.com/proustan (which also features my fan page). I also have a MySpace for my main character (yes, you heard me, my MAIN CHARACTER) at http://myspace.com/Alexandra_Glade. You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Starwise and http://twitter.com/Alexandra_Glade as well. Come check me out!

Now, here's a quick synopsis of The Cain Letters to whet your appetite for the book's release in December:

ALEXANDRA GLADE (POV), a vengeful and bloodthirsty vampire hunter, discovers a terrifying secret: the origin of vampirism, the biblical figure, CAIN. She’s faced with her deadliest mission, tracking two vampires, MASON and NIKOLAS, who uncover that true source of evil. They plot to kill Cain to gain his power. She deals with a terrible decision knowing that mankind’s existence actually hangs on Cain’s survival thanks to God’s covenant with Cain as written in the book of Genesis.

With the help of a young college student, MARCUS, Alexandra and her comrade KYAN discover a secret book revealing the truth about Cain and then realize the danger in keeping the book in their hands, knowing vampires stalk them for it. Mason and Nikolas apprehend Marcus along with the book, leaving Alexandra and her team of hunters alone to face the evil.

Mason and Nikolas find Cain and free him from an eternal sleep, leaving Alexandra with her horrible choice: save Cain, allowing a true child of Satan to possibly damn the world to agony; or allow Cain’s death, ending mankind. Alexandra slaughters Mason and Nikolas, saving Cain’s life, but at the greatest risk: the antichrist’s reign over the world. Deep within the ancient words of the book, Marcus realizes what he must do to save mankind from the likes of Cain.

He validates Cain, understanding him. According to the book of Genesis, Cain looked for God’s favor. He never received it. Marcus gives it. Marcus offers the earth to Cain in the same way Cain offered the work of the earth to God. That one act shatters all of Cain’s fury. That one selfless, trusting act—stops Cain from raging against the world.

As it stands, Cain lives. He vanishes without any knowledge of his whereabouts, but Alexandra knows he walks the earth. Whether or not Cain chooses to return to his eternal sleep—that itself is a mystery begging to be solved. She is faced with the decision to go on with her life as a vampire hunter. Holding onto the book that nearly ended all life on earth, naming it the “Cain Letters”, she lives on to face another set of fangs in her life as a hunter. Only this time not a hunter born of rage or blood. But of faith.

Pierre, thanks so much for stopping by and answering these questions and giving a synopsis of your book. It's always interesting to see how other writers tackle the job of creating a novel and getting it published.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Are You Ready to Write a Novel?

Recently, on the Muse Conference Forum, Cheryl Malandrinos posted the following message:

"Jean Lauzier, the brains behind StoryCrafters, has started a new blog titled, Let's Write A Novel Together. Starting tomorrow, she'll be posting about creating characters, writing dialogue, setting scenes, hooking the reader, tension, conflict, pacing, taming the inner editor and so much more.

In Oct., we'll start an intensive month long novel planning session. It'll include more indepth posts on topics such as story arc, structure and scene development along with some brainstorming and possibly real time chats.
Then, starting Nov. 1st, we'll make daily progress posts, along with weekly encouragement and who know what else.

If this sounds like something you're interested in, just check out the blog at http://letswriteanoveltogether.blogspot.com/"

I went to Jean's blog and signed up. This looks like a great way to get started on that novel you always wanted to write. There will be a support system here with a place to ask questions from other writers. While I've already published one novel, I think a writer should always be open to learning more about the craft. Some of us can't afford to take expensive writing classes. To have someone offering their advice in this way, is refreshing. If you are even thinking of writing a novel, you should sign up to follow the blog.