Friday, June 25, 2010

JUST YOUR USUAL CHAOS...

KATE DOUGLAS is my guest today and I can tell you she’s as fun in person as she is here. My first impression of Kate was an attractive, very knowledgeable businesswoman with a ready smile. That she is, but she’s also funny and her humor is dry and the sneaky kind that catches you by surprise and cracks you up (sometimes, I’m laughing because I can’t believe she just said what she did, lol!).

Kate’s a delight to talk with and after listening to what she has accomplished and planned I fully understand why she’s as slender as she is. Yikes, the woman is not only a prolific writer but lives chaos, tames it and directs it, like a maestro. I so need lessons or a bit of the energy pool she dips into accomplish everything she does, lol!


Kate, thank you for visiting with us today.



Hi Sia, and thanks so much for the invite to hang out at your blog today! I’m actually looking forward to it—sort of a tiny island of peace in the chaos that’s been my life the last couple of months. It’s been wild—I was in Columbus, Ohio for the Romantic Times convention, and then three weeks later—after writing day and night to finish StarFire, the third book in my DemonSlayers series—I took a redeye to New York for Book Expo. Arrived Tuesday morning from California after a full day and night of travel (we live in the boonies—just getting to the airport is a nightmare!) and hit the ground running—after I checked into my hotel and took a very fast nap!


Thank goodness my StarFire manuscript arrived in NY before I did...that was a relief, especially since it had been due three weeks earlier. (Baaaaaaaaad kate!) Anyway, I met with some folks at Kensington Publishing and then went to a really cool cocktail party that night. I mean, think about it—redeye to NY, cocktail party in Manhattan with all kinds of authors, agents, editors and publicity people and little ole me, from Cobb, California, a town without a single stop light and only the occasional stop sign, sipping good wine on the top floor of the Library Hotel! In frickin’ MANHATTAN! New YORK! Sheesh...I kept thinking, wow! This is what AUTHORS do! (snort! Actually, what authors do is write. A lot. I don’t hang out in my jammies all day just because it’s cool...I do it because I generally don’t have time to actually get dressed. The poor FedEx man must think I don’t own any real clothes!)


But back to why I’m looking for some peace and quiet—did the cocktail party and then spent all day Wednesday at Book Expo. I wandered around like an alcoholic in a bar giving out free samples. I mean, have you ever BEEN to Book Expo? Publishers from all over the world, famous authors (Fergie was signing, and it was just a couple of days after she got caught trying to sell time with her ex, the prince. The security was amazing...) agents, editors and EVERYONE is giving away free books. I came away with my share, believe me. Getting them home on the plane was another story...Wednesday night I had dinner with my editor’s assistant. I’d planned to take him out because he does so much to make my life easier, but Martin said that Kensington was picking up the tab, which was really a nice surprise. Martin, his friend Nick and I went to a cool little Cuban restaurant not far from my hotel and had a wonderful meal.


There is nothing I love more than going out with not one but TWO smart, funny, good looking young men. I felt like a damned cougar—both guys are younger than my son—but they were so darned entertaining and we had a fantastic time. Then I was up at four and on the plane by seven, headed home again. We’re talking VERY QUICK TRIP...


And, as soon as I got home and got my laundry done, my husband and I were off again, this time in the motorhome headed for the Mount Shasta area to do some research for the next book in the DemonSlayers series, and then on to the Allen Array, an amazing place up in the Hat Creek area where there are all these giant antennae checking space for signals from extraterrestrials as part of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project. That was also research for a possible new series—as many of you may have heard, I’m currently writing the final book in my Wolf Tales series--#12 will be the last one. I’d hoped Kensington would pick up my proposal for a second generation series about the children of the Chanku, but they’re not interested at this time. My editor said to hang on to it—I may be able to do it later on, but for now I need something new. I’m thinking!! Honest...


As soon as we got home, I wrote a short story for an anthology I’m in with Lori Foster—the title is Dime Store Cowboy, and it’s a sequel to my romantic comedy, Cowboy in My Pocket, which was written almost ten years ago. I’ve wanted to write a story for a couple of the secondary characters ever since the first book was published. This anthology gave me a chance to let Mark Connor finally lasso his rodeo queen...LOL! Yep, Cowboy in My Pocket was a western comedy romance, sort of a parody of category romances. If you want a good giggle, it’s still available at Amazon.com and BN.com and most other online book sellers. The sequel will be out next June.


As soon as I finished Dime Store Cowboy, I rushed over to Stockton to visit my mom—she’s almost 89 now—but while I was at her place she had some health issues which meant I stayed over longer than planned. When she was feeling better, I raced back home (it’s about a three hour trip) to finish up copy edits for Wolf Tales 11—that one comes out next January, and I’d forgotten how much I loved it! I’ve been so caught up in chatting about Wolf Tales 10, the book that’s out this week, that I forgot I’d even written 11! It’s sort of a political thriller, though since it’s Wolf Tales, it’s a very SEXY political thriller! One thing I had fun with was letting Keisha step in as the double for the First Lady. When President Obama was first running for office and I saw Michelle Obama, I just about flipped. Other than the hair, she WAS Keisha Rialto, my ├╝ber-alpha, Anton Cheval’s mate. I knew from the moment the president was elected I was going to write a story where Keisha got involved with Michelle Obama, and this one turned out even better than I’d hoped.


Right now I’m getting notes together for Wolf Tales 12. It’s a bittersweet project—I feel as if I know each one of my Chanku like old friends, and it’s going to be difficult not to write anymore of their stories. I had hoped the series would go on a bit longer, but the reality of this business is that when a series has too many books, you start losing readers. It’s time to move on. I’m thinking of moving forward about five years for WT12—Anton’s daughter Lily has been such an amazing character to get to know that I want her to have a bigger part in the final book. She’ll be about seven, just old enough to take off on her own and get into trouble. If you’ve read my series, you’ll recall that there are caves below Anton’s house in Montana, and some interesting hieroglyphics on one of the walls. I really want to find out what they say before I end this series, and I have a feeling Lily is going to be the one to figure them out. We shall see!


So, I’m starting Wolf Tales 12, reminding readers that Wolf Tales 10 is showing up in stores, and cooking like a madwoman because our kids and grandkids will be here for the weekend. We’ve got a family reunion to go to and I’ve got grandkids to hug—our son and his family live in Hawaii and I haven’t seen four year old Ella or twenty month old Owen since early spring, so I’m really looking forward to their visit. Our daughter will be here as well with her two youngest—her husband and oldest son are staying home to keep an eye on the animals. (Sounds like that’s a really good excuse to avoid a family reunion full of people they don’t know!)


I’ll be checking in to see who stops by and says Hi, and I’ll be giving away some books—I LOVE giving away books! I’ve got copies of DemonFire and Wolf Tales 9, and I imagine Sia can probably come up with at least five winners for me. And, if you’re a winner and already have both WT9 and DemonFire, I’ve got an ARC of HellFire or one for Nocturnal, the anthology the comes out in September with stories by me and Jacquelyn Frank, Jess Haines and Clare Willis. Just leave a comment to be entered.

A Life For A Life
The Chanku are gifted with more power—of mind, body, and soul—than the most superior of humans. Yet even these exceptional beings cannot change the laws of nature...or destiny. And when one loses his human life mate to a tragic accident, he is shattered by grief he never imagined possible...

The only thing worse than losing his love is knowing that her death was caused by the incompetence of a goddess supposedly possessed of timeless wisdom. The justice dealt for the goddess’s horrible mistake is a demotion—from immortal to human—and the charge of filling the missing space in the Montana pack. But while some accept her quickly, not all are so willing...
It is time for Anton, Stefan, and Adam to test the newcomer: to see if she can withstand the heights of ecstasy these Chanku men will show her—and to discover whether, when faced with the ultimate sacrifice, she will make the right choice...
Buy: Amazon Borders B&N 
Kate Douglas loves romance. Married 38 years to a man she fell for at first sight, she’s a true believer in love everlasting. Her Wolf Tales have it all—sex, romance, lots of plot and plenty of action...and did we say sex? Her newest series, The DemonSlayers, while not as sexually explicit as Wolf Tales, is filled with rip-roaring action, hot and handsome heroes, and women who know what they want and don’t hesitate to go for it. With four books a year, along with the occasional novella, Kate’s life often teeters on the brink of chaos, but somehow, things always seems to come together when they should. Life's good—but fantasy and romance are even better! 

Where to find Kate: 




Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Write What You Know -- Stupid Advice Given to Writers

My guest is award winning Romance author, Susan Gable. I always like it when Susan blogs with me. I learn so much.

Susan is a wonderful storyteller. Her article today explains why I find her books so fascinating and real--aside from captivating writing and wry humor which I love.



Write what you know.



It's one of the most common pieces of advice you hear offered to writers.


And I suppose it works for people like John Grisham, a lawyer writing legal thrillers. Or for Robin Cook, a doctor writing medical thrillers.


But just how, exactly, do we explain Stephen King? Pretty sure he's not writing what he knows—and if he is...well, let's not go there.


How many fabulous books would we have missed out on if the writers held to a strict interpretation of write what you know? Vampires? Don't know any. Do know writers who make a great living writing about them. A school for sorcerers? Never been to one -- doubt J. K. Rowling has, either. It's worked out well for her.


I'm not mechanically inclined—but my first heroine was a mechanic. My artistic talents are limited to drawing stick figures, yet my last hero was a comic book artist. I've never parented a child who's had a heart transplant—my second book featured such a parent and child. I've never parented a child with acute aplastic anemia or had a child through a sperm bank, either. But my new book, The Family Plan, features exactly such a child.


So how do we manage this? Research! And in today's internet age, research has never been easier. You cannot only access all sorts of articles on the subject you need to learn about, but you can connect with real people who know these things.


For my second book, The Mommy Plan, I was in touch with a mom who had a young son who'd had a heart transplant. She was willing to answer all sorts of questions, even the slightly odd ones, like, would you let him get his ear pierced? She was awesome, too, because she understood that her experience was HER experience, and other people's experiences and reactions would be different.


For A Kid to the Rescue, I had local resources that helped me out with the legal aspects of the book. I had a family lawyer who helped me with the custody case, and the man who is now the District Attorney for Erie actually answered my questions about the criminal case in the book.


For The Family Plan, I connected via email with a nurse who works with kids having bone marrow transplants. She was able to answer all my medical questions. I found an amazing document designed for the parents of bone marrow transplant kids that explained everything in great detail, including what these kids could eat or not eat. My critique partner happened to be my source for information about the heroine's suddenly high-risk pregnancy because the situation had happened to her. So I bugged her constantly while writing the book. (See, don't write what you know—write what other people know and bug the heck out of them! Actually, I've found people are very willing to share their experiences. Ask politely. But don't be afraid to ask questions.)


The part where you DO have to write what you know is when it comes down to the emotions. You may not have experienced the exact situation you've put your characters in, but you can IMAGINE what it would be like. You want to make sure you give them their own emotional response, not YOUR emotional response. But it's okay to tap into your own emotions. That's writing what you know.


Readers respect honesty in writing. Venture into the dark places. Thank God I've never known the absolute fear of losing my child—but I can put myself there. I've lost other loved ones, and I can extrapolate that losing a child would be even worse. I had a foster son who left my home, and I cried for two days, heartbroken. I used these things to get into my heroine's head for The Family Plan.


What I don't know and have written through research and instinct: being an architect, being a chef, being involved in a custody case, being involved in a criminal prosecution of a man who murdered my sister, being an art therapist, being a runaway surrogate mother...


What I've written that I do know: Parents should put their children first. Relationships don't always run smoothly. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. We all hunger for love and acceptance of who we are, the way we are. Change is hard, and often painful.


So when someone tells you to write what you know, don't take them literally. Be emotionally honest—and do your homework. But write what moves you. Because that will move your readers, too.

  • What have you written that you "don't know?" What have you written that you do know?

  •  Do you have questions on how to do research? Can you think of any other advice that’s often given to writers that you disagree with?


The Family Plan Blurb:
4.5 Stars from RT Magazine!

She's stirring up the gene pool!

Dr. Amelia Young has meticulously organized her family plan. Wonderful daughter? Done. Man? Unnecessary. All Amelia has ever needed is carefully selected DNA. So what if the donor turns out to be a ridiculously hot chef with a distracting butt and wicked smile? That only proves she had good taste in genes.

Anonymously donating his DNA at a clinic when he was a student is one thing. A strange woman at his door requesting a second deposit is quite another. But when Finn Hawlins realizes Amelia needs another child to save her first -- his first -- he relents. And when that first kid turns up on his doorstep a few months later, he's in this family deep!


~ *  ~ * ~ * ~ 

Susan Gable has sold seven books to Harlequin's Superromance line. Her books have been Rita and Golden Heart Finalists, she's been a Waldenbooks Bestseller, been three times nominated for Romantic Time's Best Superromance of the Year, and she's won numerous other awards, including the National Readers' Choice Award. Her new book, The Family Plan, got 4.5 Stars from RT. It hits shelves on July 13th. 

Visit Susan's website: http://www.susangable.com/
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Monday, June 21, 2010

PULLING WEEDS—It’s A Dirty Job But…


“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow…?”


I’m not sure how all Mary’s silver bells, and cockleshells, and pretty maids all in a row are doing but I can’t seem to find mine—garden, that is. I wonder if Mary would mind if I borrowed a few of her maids? Surely they know how to weed?


We’ve had a lot of rain of late. To give you an idea of how much, my county gets an average of 43 inches of rain a year. How much rain has my county gotten just in the month of June? 23 inches. Twenty-three! Holy cow, no wonder I can’t keep up with the weeds in my garden!


I do have a very nice and lush group of weeds though. Very pretty, and some even flower—except they are destroying the theme I’ve designed for each garden.


So I’ve been weeding. Then comes the problem of certain things that are supposed to be coming up now and it’s hard to tell if they are flowers or weeds. I literally pulled about dozen marigolds before I realized it wasn’t the daisy weed like thing (I think its part of the ragwort family) I thought it was. They look very similar to each other when two inches tall. Fortunately, the soil was wet enough it didn’t hurt the marigolds and I was able to replant them.


I got to thinking, while I was weeding, that it reminds me of editing. I know, I’ll admit I’m strange and my mind even stranger in it’s leaps and bounds.


There are times the writing mood, zone, or whatever you want to call it, hits me like rain on dry ground. There’s thunder and lightning in my head and the ideas and story comes in like a downpour. At those times I can produce several thousand words in one sitting and a few hours.


The words are good. Just like many *weeds* are good. But some of them hinder rather than enhance the theme of the story. When that happens, you have to weed out the unnecessary words. The difference between weeding my garden and my manuscript is most of the weeds I throw away. Not so with my word weeds. Those are stored in a file because you never know when they might need to be *replanted* or used in another area.


I have good tools to help me with weeding the garden. I also have tools to help me with weeding my manuscript. Dictionaries, because the computer doesn’t always recognize certain words, much less if they’re spelled correctly. I also have a manuscript analyzer, which helps with things like repetitive words and phrases. I also have one which I need to locate on my database again that will tell me if my manuscript is too *feminine* in the use of words. In other words it can suggest whether a man or a woman wrote it based on word usage.

I have two signs hanging in my office. One says, “Write What You Feel” speaking of emotion, the other says, “Keep the details to the Now of the story” to remind me about backstory.


  • So how does your *garden* grow?
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  • What tools do you use in weeding your manuscript?