Monday, December 26, 2011

Where Masterpieces are Made

The two most import areas of my house are the places where I write and cook. They aren’t the most tidy spots – something I chalk up to us disorganized creative types.

I know I drive Mr. Clean bonkers and I appreciate that he cleans the house and does the laundry in exchange for my cooking services, but he needs to accept that I’m a lost cause, right?

After a weekend with my friend “Mrs. Ultra Uber Clean” I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet.

We spent an ‘International Christmas’ on Orcas Island (one of the loveliest since leaving home) with our wonderful island friends. Between the four of us we represented Australia, New Zealand, France and, ahem, Alaska. Not to mention our U.K. babies: A Staffy and a Westie.

Shan inspired me to stop being such a slob.

On Christmas morning she was up emptying the fridge of all opened wine bottles. She whipped out a mini handheld vacuum and started sucking up loose tea leaves that’d spilled in the pantry drawer. (As I slouched over the table with a piece of toast and water treating a hangover.)

For Christmas lunch she chose to make Tal Ronnen’s Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms with Polenta, Roasted Japanese Eggplant, and Smoked-Paprika Crème from The ConsciousCook: A major production that didn’t end till 2.

There’s nothing I love more than group cooking while sharing amusing stories and having a laugh. (I could have gone without the hangover and barfing, but we can’t have it all.)

(Note: I’m not much of a drinker these days, but I finished writing a new YA novel Christmas Eve morn. and celebrated with a bottle of champagne that obviously didn’t sit right.)

As I finished pureeing the smoked-paprika crème, Shan said, “We’ll clean as we go.”

Clean as we go? What a novel idea.

This didn’t just apply to dirtied pots, pans and measuring cups, but all clutter.

My bottle of ginger ale didn’t last 20 minutes on the kitchen counter before Shan emptied the last of it in my glass and tossed the bottle.

A bag of chips got chucked as I yelled, “Noooooo!” Too late. (It was still half full.) Shan’s answer, “I don’t keep junk food around.”

I set down a bowl of veggie salad I was snacking on only to have the remainder of the contents tossed in the bin and bowl stashed in the dishwasher.

I’ve never seen anything like this before. So yeah, it might be overboard, but that’s why it made a lasting impression. This morning I chucked an opened bottle of Schweppes my brother left in the fridge back in September. I removed the moldy carrots, beets and baseball hard limes from the bottom fridge drawer. I yanked my dead flower bouquet from the vase and tossed them off the balcony. When I spilled on the countertop I wiped it up right away rather than leave it for days and have to scrape at the dry crusty stain.

I’m on a roll. It feels liberating. It feels clean. And it’ll probably only last a couple weeks.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Author Interview at Chick Lit Goddess

The wonderful and talented Isabella Louise Anderson interviewed me on her blog: Chick Lit Goddess.

I was honored to be asked and had a blast answering her fabulous questions. Check it out.

Love in Dystopian Fiction

This one’s for Keary Taylor, Orcas Island author extraordinaire!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Envious Author

“It is so hard to know what to say to friends who are struggling with their writing when yours is going well. I learned to play down my success, which I don’t think anyone should have to do.” 
– B. J. Daniels (Twelve-Gauge Guardian)

Heck no, girlfriend!

The timing of Janet Tronstad’s article “Secrets of Professional Jealousy” (Romance Writers Report, December 2011) was spot on. That same day I popped over to YA author Keary Taylor’s blog and read that film rights had been acquired to her dystopian thriller Eden.

I also received an email from online author friend, Kira Saito, sharing with me that her recently self-published novel, Bound, was on the bestseller list on amazon Kindle for children’s.

(Congratulations to both ladies!)

That odd mix of excitement and envy started swirling inside me and I turned back to Tronstad’s article to find a comment by Lenora Worth (The Doctor’s Family) that resonated with me:

“I’ve had spurts of professional jealousy, but this is how I decided to handle it. I have what I call professional envy. Envy is blue: you’re happy for your friend but a bit sad for yourself. But professional envy only makes me want to work harder, so envy is not a bad thing if it drives you to keep trying.”

That is what Keary and Kira have done for me. It is the success stories – the authors who make it – that drive me forward. There’s a certain thrill, especially when you “know” writers who are making it.

As Keary Taylor said (in regards to the movie deal): “This is pretty exciting, especially considering that I am a self-published author who was told “no” by more than 100 literary agents between all my books.” 

I am totally excited for her and not at all jealous. 

Nope, not one bit.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Death by Chocolate: Novella Finished

How am I celebrating? With champagne and chocolate naturally.

Finishing my submission was no mean trick. I had to take a 62,000 word (and counting) novel and chop it down to 14,000 words (ended up with 17,500 – maybe my beta readers will have ideas for trimming or maybe it’ll just be a bit longer). This meant cutting characters, removing scenes and writing new scenes to make it all flow – like a molten chocolate river.

I always make the mistake of thinking, “Novella? No problem!” But novellas require the same character development, story arcs and tidy endings.  

I am excited about this anthology and swapping stories with my writing buddy, Kira Saito, whose eBook Bound is currently a bestseller on Kindle. I look forward to reading all the stories to be included in this lip-smacking collection of YA paranormal romance.

I like my stories dark and delicious.

The anthology goes live for Kindle and other eReaders (can you tell what my preference is?) on Valentine’s Day 2012.

It looks like we’ll sell it for $2.99, but keep an eye out for giveaways!  

Monday, December 12, 2011

I love Spike!

Totally completely love Spike.

Check out my latest post at YA Stands (Move Over Mr. Moody Broody) about crafting lovable bad boys.

I started writing YA novels as a way to cope with Spike withdrawals after watching the complete Buffy: The Vampire Slayer series at the beginning of the year. (Finished 7 seasons in 3 weeks - that must be a record.)