Friday, December 31, 2010

What About Me?

Does that title sound like a country song?  I want to thank the four fine authors I featured this week on my blog.  I hope their interviews sparked your interest in some of their exciting books already released and some yet to come.  Today I want to talk about me. 
All of my romance books are available on Fictionwise.  I have two romance series, The Chronicles of Solonia and The Tigers of Salubria. 
The Chronicles of Solonia is a complete series, starting with The Greater Good and continuing with The Lesser Evil, A Ruthless Good and ending with One Good Woman.  Every book in this futuristic romance series received excellent reviews. 
The Tigers of Salubria is a fantasy tale of a group of legendary warriors and opens with To Tame a Tiger.  The second book, Tiger's Mate will be published sometime in 2011. 
Most readers of this blog are more familiar with my fantasy series, The Futhark Chronicles.  The Keepers of Sulbreth is available at most retail bookstores, big and small, in print and ebook.  It also has received nothing but excellent reviews as the first book in an epic fantasy series or as a YA title.  The second book, Beyond the Gate, is due for release tomorrow.  Amazon has been a little slow getting it up on their website but Barnes and Noble has it available as do some other ebook sellers
So load up those eReaders with some great reading.  I hope you enjoyed meeting my friends and perhaps visited their blogs as well.
So what books have you read during the Christmas break? Have you shrunk the size of your TBR shelf or grown it higher?  (Is that correct grammar? LOL)  At least with my eReader, my TBR shelf is invisible to all but me.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Fantastic Jon Sprunk

Please welcome Jon Sprunk, author of Shadow's Son, to speak on a wide range of subjects today.  If you love fantasy his book is one you shouldn't miss.  Don't start it if you have work the next day because you'll be up all night.  Read on to learn a little about this gifted author and his fantasy series.

I've heard lots of parents talking about the interactive books for children available on some eReaders. As a father do you see this newest technology as a useful tool in teaching your child to love books?
Yes, completely. The next generation (my little guy is two-years-old) is going to be so much more tech-savvy than we are. I think eReaders, as they evolve, will become great tools for learning. Of course, as an Old Guy, I still hope that my son appreciates paper books as well.

What is the best fantasy movie you've seen in 2010 and what book besides your own would you like to see made into a movie?
I haven’t seen many fantasy movies this year, unless you count Inception, which I thought was very cool. I enjoyed the latest Harry Potter installment. The only other major fantasy movie I can remember was the Clash of the Titans remake – and the less I say about that one, the better.
Well, I’d love to see The Keepers of Sulbreth on the big screen. (I’d make you sign my popcorn bag.) And I think a new Conan movie, with Arnold playing an older King Conan, would be interesting (but please, not another Destroyer fiasco).

When you write do you like it quiet? Music? TV? Or can you work regardless of any distractions?
When I’m creating fresh material, I like to listen to music. Typically heavy metal. But that’s about it. Having the TV on, or someone talking nearby, are distractions I cannot abide. Fortunately for me, I have a very understanding family who give me lots of free time in my writing cave. They even toss down snacks once in a while.
Are you making any appearances in 2011 where your fans can meet you in person?
I’m in the process of seeing where I want to go, versus the availability of funds and time. I’d like to attend more local conventions this year, like the Pittsburgh Comic Con, Balticon, and PhilCon. I won’t be going to Dragon*Con this year, although I loved it.
Those interested can keep an eye on my website where I post my upcoming appearances.
Shadow's Son is the start of a series (and I can't wait for the next one), can you tell us the title of the forthcoming second installment, the release date and how many more books we can expect in this particular series?
Well, thank you very much. The sequel is titled Shadow’s Lure, and it will be out sometime in early summer 2011. The third and final book in the series should be out the summer of 2012.
Shadow’s Lure takes the main character, Caim, back to the land of his birth in search of clues about his mother’s disappearance eighteen years earlier. But what he finds in the cold North is a new threat with world-shaking implications.
How about a blurb for Shadow's Son?
Sure. Here if the official blurb:
In the holy city of Othir, treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, just the place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and few scruples.
Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers, and sorcery from the Other Side, his only allies are Josephine, the socialite daughter of his last victim, and Kit, a guardian spirit no one else can see. But in this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his instincts, but they won't be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir's hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow's Son....
And I was just telling people at my last signing, as they wandered past me in the bookstore, that – at heart—this novel is about Caim’s self-discovery. He begins the story believing he knows it all, that he’s happy in his little world where he controls everything. But as the book progresses he starts to understand there is more to life than just appeasing your own appetites, that other people matter, too. In that way, it mirrors the growth from adolescence to maturity.
Can you tell us where to buy your book in print or where to buy it for our terrific new eReaders?
Well, you can find it in major bookstores across the country (or order it from them if they don’t have copies in stock). The publisher’s page ( has purchasing links on the left side. It’s also on Amazon, both in trade paperback and Kindle.
Thank you, Susan, for this chance to talk about my books. Best of luck to you and your readers!

This book is already on the eReader I received for Christmas.  Follow the buy links and add it to yours.  One of the best things about fantasy is the world-building.  You can read a book over and over again and discover something new each time.  Shadow's Son is one of those books you'll want to read many times.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Author of the 'Hart'

Please welcome, Megan Hart, multi-published author and a good friend of mine.  Her writing is as entertaining as her interview. Enjoy.

After reading so many of your books I must start this visit with a question. Is it true your degree is not in journalism or any other major related to writing but in abnormal psychology?

Ha! You could imagine that’s true...if you want. With a minor in Unreasonable Phenomenon.

How many balls or writing projects can you juggle at a time?

I can’t juggle at all. I tried, oh how I’ve tried. I just can’t. I can, however, multitask. I prefer to work on one project at a time, but I’m usually flipping back and forth pretty frequently.

How about a blurb for Precious and Fragile Things.

He’s not about to let her leave.
And she cannot stay.
Gilly Soloman has been reduced to a mothering machine, taking care of everyone and everything
except herself. But the machine has broken down. Burnt out by the endless days of crying children and menial tasks, and exhausted from always putting herself last, Gilly doesn’t immediately consider the consequences when she’s carjacked. With a knife to her throat, her first thought is that she’ll finally get some rest. Someone can save her for a change.
But salvation isn’t so forthcoming. Stranded in a remote, snowbound cabin with this stranger, hours turn to days, days into weeks. As time forges a fragile bond between them, she learns her captor is not the lunatic she first believed, but a human being whose wasted life has been shaped by secrets and tragedy. Yet even as their connection begins to foster trust, Gilly knows she must never forget he’s still a man teetering on the edge. One who just might take her with him.
Learn more and read an excerpt at:

Will we see more books in this genre from you? Please tell us you won’t be giving up romance.

I write more non-romance than romance -- I don’t consider my Spice books romances (most of them) but erotic fiction. So no, I won’t be giving up romance, but I’ll just keep writing lots of stuff that isn’t quite romance. I do have another book to write for MIRA that will be out in 2012, so yes, I’ll be writing at least one more “definitely not a romance, not erotic” book.

When they make Precious and Fragile into a blockbuster movie, who will play the lead characters?

Gilly -- Jennifer Connelly
Todd -- Keanu Reeves  (I guessed that one)

Lots of lucky people received eReaders as Christmas gifts. Can you please give us a number of links so they can buy some of your books right now and perhaps pre-order Precious and Fragile Things?

Sure. Readers interested in looking at some of my older, previously published but re-published works can find them at:

As well as and, the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Diesel, and...I’m sure a bunch of other places I don’t even know about. My current books are also available from all those places! Basically wherever ebooks are sold. ;)

Megan's books stay with you when you're done reading them so prepare yourself.  You always long for more and the best way to get it is to buy another of her books.  Precious and Fragile Things will be on my shelf the first day it is out. 
Have you read any Hart books? Which is your favorite?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wonder Woman aka Natalie Damschroder

Please welcome today, my friend and writer or great note, Natalie Damschroder.  I can't count the number of times I've turned to Natalie when I had a question about publishing, grammar, social networking and the other hundreds things I don't know but she does.  If you don't know her already, please make her acquaintance now.
I know you have a Kindle yourself. How easy is it to buy and read books on it?

It’s FANTASTICALLY easy. I set up folders (called collections) on it, and whenever I see a new or
upcoming book I’m interested in, I go to Amazon and send a sample file to my Kindle, if one is available,
and save it in the “To Buy” folder. I also add it to my Kindle wish list. Then, when I have money to buy
books, I just go down the list and buy via the Kindle, or via one-click on It downloads in
about 20 seconds.
Last month, I took Number One to see the midnight showing of Harry Potter, so of course we got there
an hour and a half early to get decent seats. I had the Kindle with me, but the lights were dim, so for the
first time I changed the font size. AWESOME. I love that I can set the Kindle down flat anywhere and still
keep reading, without having to use something to prop the book open. (I read a lot while I’m cooking,
brushing my teeth, taking out my contacts, doing simple chores, etc. LOL) I will say that e-books cannot
totally duplicate the experience of reading a real book, though. I don’t like that I can’t see how far to the
next chapter, or have a true visual of how close to the end of the book I am. And I don’t feel like I get as
lost in the book as I do with print books. So I’m right down the middle in my book love. :)

Your family is supportive of you and I know your children love to read also. How did you as a parent
instill the love of the written word in them as they grew up?

It was probably the most important tool I wanted to give them. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was
4 years old, and knew it would only benefit them to be, as well. My husband started reading to them
every night before they were born, and it was a nightly ritual from the time they were a few months old.
One of our favorite stories is how Number One loved The Foot Book so much, she’d take it out of the
right hand as soon as we were finished, and put it in the left hand so we’d read it again. My husband hid
the book under the couch, he was so sick of it. :) Number One and I had a 45-minute or more commute
to and from work, so she had a box of about 30 books next to her. She’d flip through every single one,
toss it on the floor, and move on to the next. When we got back in the car I’d pick them all up and she’d
do it again on the way home! LOL
Since we did such a good job instilling it in Number One, it was easier with Number Two, because
everyone reading all the time was what she grew up with.

We know you as an author of fantastic fiction but tell us about all the other jobs you work at in the
writing industry including any you volunteer to do. (or at least some of them)

I do freelance work as a writer, editor, and proofreader. My clients range from a novelist to an ad
agency for dentists and an articles-based website. I’m currently a volunteer on the PRO Steering
Committee in Romance Writers of America and was just elected librarian for my local RWA chapter
board. Over the 14 years I’ve been seriously pursuing a career in writing, I’ve held dozens of volunteer
positions. I think it’s important to keep my hand in, in as many ways as possible. It not only gives back to
an industry that has given me so much, it helps me keep in touch with everyone I need to.

I have a special place in my heart for your novel, Kira’s Best Friend. Do you have a favorite?

Aw, thanks! That one’s my favorite published book, too! :) I’m a big sucker for best friends stories. I have
a couple of unpublished books I love even more, though.

Can you give us a blurb for your latest release?
My latest release is Afterlife, a novella published by Amber Quill Press.

When adrenaline junkie Chloe Franklin’s chute fails, she’s whisked directly into the afterlife. Almost
immediately, a corporate-like processing committee tells her that she’s had the rare luck to find true
love in life not once, but three times, and they present her with an intriguing yet daunting task.
Given one more day with each man, Chloe must rediscover what each meant to her as they take each
other to heights of ecstasy they’d barely known in their first go-round.
But at the end of the three pleasure-laden and heartbreaking days, Chloe will be forced to set her
eternity...and choose only one lover to be with her forever...

What are you working on right now?

I recently turned in final edits for Fight or Flight, a romantic adventure coming out in March from Carina
Press. In Fight or Flight, the heroine races to save her daughter from an enemy she’s been hiding from
for 18 years.

Give you give us some titles and links to your books for all those lucky people who received wonderful
new eReaders for Christmas?

Readers can find links for all my books, with buy links for anything still in print, at

Thanks so much for having me, Sue! :)

Thank you, Natalie, for guesting today.  We'll be sure to have you back before the release of Fight or Flight.  How many of you received Kindles for Christmas? Have you bought some books for on it?  Don't forget to check out Natalie's list of terrific romances.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Introducing the Master: Cate Masters Visits

To kick off a week of suggestions for great buys for your new eReaders, I'd like to introduce you to Cate Masters.  Cate is one of the most prolific writers I know, full of orginal ideas and the real 'master' of happily every after.  These cold winter days are best spent with a warm romance. 

Cate, you have so many novels published. How long have you been writing?

Hi Susan! Thanks so much for having me at your lovely blog – great redesign! The past few years have been a bit of a whirlwind, I admit. My stories are all lengths, from short story to novella to novel. Writing has always been a passion. Poetry in my preteens led to a foray toward journalism throughout high school (strange segue, I know) then to fiction in my twenties. That was, ahem, awhile ago.

What genres do you write in and what genres do you read?

I’m an eclectic reader, so it carries over to my writing. I love to read any well-written story with a compelling plot and engaging characters, regardless of genre. For the most part, I write contemporary, historical and paranormal/fantasy. A little something for everyone. :)

What is your writing process like? Do you work on more than one project at a time?

One of my goals is to be more organized about my writing. I tend to start many more stories than I can probably ever finish. I use spreadsheets tracking my WIPs, and once I start a story, I keep what I call a Spec Sheet so I can remember which characters go to which story. I have notebooks full of ideas, and about a dozen stories actually in the works, and usually switch between a few at a time. As you can guess, getting to The End takes awhile. Then the story goes through a few revisions on my own before I send out to several trusty critique partners.

If you were giving advice to a new author, where would you tell them to look for help in getting started?

First, learn your craft. Read how-to books, and take workshops. Find honest critique partners who will guide you with a firm but gentle – and truthful – hand. My biggest rule is: go with your gut.

Where on the web can readers learn more about you and your books?

If you Google me, you’ll find me in many a far-flung nook and corner. Two main sites contain links to the rest, though – my web site :, and blog:

Can you tell us a little about your latest release and where it can be purchased?

Absolutely! Surfacing, a contemporary fantasy, released in August from Whiskey Creek Press: It’s available in ebook and print.
In researching mermaid lore, I ran across a video of the Weeki Wachee Mermaid Show in Florida. Besides being a fun setting, it seemed the perfect place for a real mermaid to surface.
I entered it in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and it actually made it through the first round, lol.
I wrote it through the POV of the hero, AJ Dillon, who’s a down and out indie rocker. He travels to his grandfather’s home in Weeki Wachee, Florida, his last refuge after his band falls apart and everyone else throws him out. His grandfather, who’s a bit obsessed with mermaids, gets AJ a job captaining the Wilderness Cruise at the Weeki Wachee Springs amusement park, where women perform underwater as mermaids. AJ doesn’t believe in the real thing until he meets Cassiopeia. She changes his life in many ways, and when she’s in danger, AJ learns things about himself he never knew.

How about a blurb?

AJ Dillon is trouble. The former lead singer of an indie band has no home, no money and no future. His grandfather is the only relative willing to take another chance on him. AJ arrives in Weeki Wachee, Florida, with his guitar, a few clothes and a bad attitude. The only good thing about Weeki Wachee is the ocean -- the one place AJ feels at home.
Grandpa lines up a job for AJ at Weeki Wachee Springs, where beautiful women perform as mermaids. Grandpa says real mermaids exist, but AJ doesn’t believe – until he meets Cassiopeia. She helps his passion for music resurfaces. But greedy Chaz finds out about her, and threatens to kill them if AJ doesn't go along with his plan to make a fortune with a real mermaid show. Can AJ save Cassie, even if it means losing her?

What is next in the works for you in 2011?

In June, Lyrical Press will release Rock Bottom, a contemporary romance I’m excited about. It combines my passion for music with a fun setting – a reality dating show featuring rock star Jet Trently. It makes a few stops in central Pennsylvania too. :) I dedicated it to my friend Jerry, a fellow Beatlemaniac who tragically died of a brain tumor. I loved writing him a happy ending in which he could go back to his farm in Berrysburg, which Jerry loved so well.
Sometime next year, Whiskey Creek Press will release The Bridge Between, a mainstream novel. It’s one of the first novels I wrote, and I’m also excited it’s set in my hometown of Lambertville, New Jersey.
Two shorter fantasies are currently subbed to publishers, as well as the fantasy novel, The Magic of Lavender.

Please give us some more links to scope out your books and make purchases.

Thanks so much for asking! On the Books pages of both my web site: and my blog: readers can visit the individual pages for each story to read excerpts, reviews, blurbs and view the book trailer.

Thanks again for having me today Susan. It’s been a pleasure.

There you have it.  Buy some great ebooks from one of the best story tellers I know.  Cate's books never disappoint. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Overload of Fun

What a Christmas! Lots of time with loved ones, new games to play and more food than could be good for anyone.  Today is leftover day for all meals so I'm going to be having fun catching up with my blog friends and figuring out my Kobo.
That's right.  My husband purchased an eReader for me.  I didn't give him any demands for type but he knew I wanted one.  I bought my daughter a Nook and my son a Kindle so somewhere down the road I should be able to give a good comparison between the three styles of readers.
What am I doing with it?  Buying books.  Today I bought The Limehouse Text by Will Thomas and tomorrow I'm buying Follow the Stars home by Cate Masters.  Join me here on my blog tomorrow and meet Cate.  She's one terrific writer.
I hope lots of you received your own eReaders and some gift cards for books.  It's a great time to purchase books from those wonderful authors who write for smaller publishers.  Often their books are not sold in the large chain bookstores but you can usually buy them from the company's ebook store or a place like Fictionwise.  I like supporting those small publishers who were willing to take a chance on a new author or a story that didn't fit comfortably into any of the big pubs lines.  This entire week I'll be bringing you interviews from some of those authors.  I'll hope you'll visit and decide to fill your new eReader with some great books.
Did you get or give an eReader for Christmas?  What kind? Where do you purchase your ebooks from?

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Journey or The Destination

At my house the most fun day of the year is this day before Christmas.  My stepsons are grown with families of their own and two of my sons have serious girlfriends.  They all need to spend some holiday time with the families of their significant others.  Christmas Day had become too hectic and stressed as we tried to get together during the morning hours.  When my children still believed in Santa, my beloved stepsons really wanted to be there and share the magic of Christmas morning.  Now everyone is older they prefer to sleep in that blessed morning.  I like having a cup of coffee before they wake and sharing some time with my husband.
So we started having our celebration the day before Christmas.  We eat buffet style, exchange gifts, play games and have a wonderful time.  I love this day and look forward to it for weeks.  I  can't wait for it to get here but I try to slow down and take time to enjoy the anticipation.  If I don't it's like peeking ahead to the back of a book and seeing how it ends.  It rather ruins all the suspense leading up to the grand finale.  
The journey to the end is what makes a book really good.  You can't have a great ending if you can't keep the reader interested enough to get there.  I love a book that makes me want to slow down so I don't get to the end too quick though I can't wait to read what happens.  The books on my keeper shelf are the ones I savored by page by page.  Sure they had great endings but it was everything leading up to that ending that made the book one of my favorites.  It was the twists, the surprises, the heart-wrenching losses and uplifting triumphs leading up the 'The End.'
What puts a book on your 'keeper' shelf?  Do you look ahead to the end of books?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sticky, Stickier, Stuck

It happens to every writer. You get stuck on a scene. For some reason you can’t make it work. You type a few lines and then delete. I’m sure I’m not the only who has written the entire scene and then wiped it away and tried to start over. Sometimes I can’t get the mood right or I decide I need to try it from a different POV. Or the scene commits the sin of not moving the story forward.

Sometimes I can work through it by walking away from the keyboard for a little bit. I’ll walk around the block or even just out to get the mail. In the summer I might go outside and pull a few weeds, sweep out the garage or the deck. All mindless activities to let my mind linger on the scene problems and search for a solution.
Sometimes I get up and fix a cup of tea or warm up my coffee. In the evening I might pour a glass of wine and sip it while I stare at the cursor, demanding the words rise to the surface of my thoughts.
Another thing I do is put on some music or even some favorite movie I’ve watched tens of times before. I usually pick something that matches the scene giving me trouble.
When nothing else works I try to power through it. I write a noun, a verb and create a sentence. Then another sentence. Often this works for me more than anything else. I sit there until there are words in the document. If it ends up being terrible, I slash and burn it in the editing process.
What do you do when stuck on scene? Is there a particular type of scene that gives you more trouble than others?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Best Gifts for Readers

New Word:  Palmary-outstanding, great, best

As in I'm going to be interviewing some of my friends during the week between Christmas and New Year's day and they're all palmary writers.  Everyone of them have published books that would fit perfectly onto anyone's new eReader.  Perhaps you'll receive one of those coveted gift cards to a bookstore.  What better place to spend it than on authors who make sure you get your money's worth on books you'll want to read over and over again.
Cate Masters will visit on December 27th and share news on her latest romance releases.
Natalie Damschroder will pop in at December 28th and fill us in on her newest release and give a hint of what else she had in the pipeline.
Megan Hart, well known for her hot romances, has a new suspense novel coming out in the new year and will tease us with some details on December 29th.
Fellow fantasy author Jon Sprunk graces us with a short interview on December 30th and tell us about his fantasy novel and the sequel coming next year.
I hope you have some time to relax and read over the holidays.  I wish it for all of you.
Will you be getting or giving books, bookstore gift cards or eReaders as gifts this year?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Spirit or Winter Blahs?

As the Christmas season approaches with all its demands on time, emotions and finances, it affects people differently.  I've read a few posts lately despairing of the progress of their goals for the past year as 2010 rapidly spirals down to its end.  Hopefully one can look back at some successes and carry that inspiration forward into 2011.
Holiday shopping, work and family get-togethers, baking, decorating and all the other joys of the season cut into everyone's writing time during December.  It's quite tempting to set aside projects and busy yourself with the many seasonal events and chores needing your attention. It's not unusual for bloggers to post less often, visit fewer of their blogger friends and otherwise not keep up with the social whirl of online communities. 
I have special reason to keep my fingers on the keyboard for the next few weeks. 
On January 1st, Beyond the Gate, book #2 of The Futhark Chronicles will be released.  Though I've tried to plan ahead, I'm busy polishing posts for my blog tour, making improvements on this blog, getting my promotional short stories for posting online for free and a zillion other little things. 
I've wrapped no gifts and actually have only purchased a small fraction of those I need to find.  The menu for our family Christmas dinner is still up in the air and don't even ask me about cookies.  But I'm getting my writing work done.  
How is your holiday/end of the year schedule working? Are you finding time to write? Have you set it aside or reduced your time spent writing?  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

To Spin a Web or Not

I spend hours over Thanksgiving break redoing my website.  But the more author friends I make in the blogosphere, the more I wonder if it's a good use of my time.  I enjoy keeping my blog up to date and can procrastinate hours of my writing time visiting interesting blogs.  Some are fun, some informative and others combinations of the two. 
Cate Masters helped me figure out how to add pages to my blog and I've been working on them.  Soon everything on my website will also be on my blog.  My blog will actually be like a website but it will get updated a couple of times per week and it will have great links everyday to my friends' blogs. So is my web page redundant?
I'm starting to think so and already a number of other authors have told me they only do a blog though they maintain multiple pages on it like a website.
So I'm throwing out the question.  Website? Necessary? Just a lot of work? Keep it or dump it? I'm very interested to hear not only opinions but your reasons to help me decide.

Friday, December 10, 2010

If At First...

How do you judge your success as a writer? I believe most writers who consider themselves professional hope to achieve publication someday. But even then, by what yard stick do you measure your success?

Accolades from family, friends, colleagues and even strangers in various venues pump up the satisfaction level for me. My family and friends have always been quite supportive. My peers at the day job and my students offer their congratulations and often wonder that I write books. Real feel good moments.
I’ve interacted with people who believe you must be published by one of the large New York houses to be deemed a successful author. Statements of distain about small presses usually anger me rather than discourage me. But for those people, they feel a person isn’t really successful until they’ve signed a contract with one of the ‘Big Boys.’
Some would have success based on how much money an author pulls in from their writing. I know a few writers who’ve published multiple books with small presses as eBooks. They don’t make huge earnings on individual books but added together, the quantity of releases adds up to decent amounts of money earned by royalties. Are POD and eBooks an equal measure of success compared to a traditional book sold on the shelves of the large chain stores?
Has an author reached a goal of recognition when they’re asked to guest at a library or perhaps a conference? Does it take a TV or newspaper interview to know ‘you’re a big name?’ Must you hold a book signing and run a highly active blog with thousands of followers?
It’s difficult to stay at something if you continually feel like you’ve failed to achieve your objectives. I believe in goal setting but one should also know what it means when the particular goal is reached. When I sold my first fantasy novel and then the series, I didn’t believe my books would soon push Terry Goodkind off the shelf. ( I use Terry as an example since our names are close and our books are shelved near each other) But I did feel like I’d taken a first important step upward to the ultimate level of success I hope to achieve. I’m proud of the fantasy romances I have with small presses and appreciative of the money I receive from their continued sales.
How do you measure your successes? Is it a matter of money, number of books published, the type of publisher or the accolades you receive from various sources?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Professional Writers

New Word: 
Lucubrator- One who writes scholarly material.

Is your writing an enjoyable hobby or is it your profession? I know many people, myself included, work full time jobs to pay the bills but still call ourselves writers. Where is the delineation between professional and recreational writers? I know dozens of people who would love to make their living as a writer, stay home, and leave the old 9-5 job behind forever. Does having that other career, teaching in my case, mean I can’t claim writing as my career?

I think there are a number of things to mark a professional writer and being published doesn’t have to be one of them. A person serious about a writing career will pursue opportunities to improve their craft by attending workshops and conferences. Pennwriters is a group I count on for such opportunities. They will work with critique partners and join communities of writers, seeking out those of like mind.
A professional writer will commit to the time needed to create works, edit them and make contacts with others in their profession. This means more than sitting at the keyboard for a few hours each day. In today’s world a writer must network with readers and fellow authors. Another aspect of this is the willingness to spend time on a piece of work to improve it. How many times will you willingly rewrite and edit a manuscript or story? Is there a limit to the changes you’ll make in your masterpiece?
Does writing one piece a professional make? Will you write that one story and circulate it until kingdom comes or will you continue to create new work, each piece an improvement over earlier works?
Are you committed to a writing career forever or are you giving yourself a certain amount of time to make it and then you’ll give it up if you don’t? I know a teacher who took a leave for one year to write a fantasy novel. He did and he never sold it. He quit trying. I don’t consider him a professional writer. You have to be in for the long haul though there are those who’ve made it big with a first novel.
How many rejections can you rise above? Will you keep going no matter the frustrations and disappointments? Experienced writers will warn you of the rejections to come but even when expecting them they can hit you low. And even once you’ve sold some books or stories, there is no guarantee you’ll sell the next one.
So are you in this business with eternal hope? Are you a professional or a hobbyist? Have you considered quitting? What keeps you going after being rejected?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

When I Get Rich....

New word of the day:
Bruxomania- The act or practice of grinding one's teeth

As in today I had a bout of bruxomania.
I think many writers dream of the day when accolades and recognition come their way.  Besides the satisfaction of admiration from the reading public more than a few of us would like some monetary compensation to go along with it. 
So I often wonder, what would I do with a wad of cash as relates to my writing life? I would, of course, invest in some advertising and promotion first of all.  But the very second thing I would do for myself would be to hire a professional to take care of my website
I like having a website.  When I first put it up I was so proud I did everything by myself, slogging along and figuring it out as I went.  At worse, I did get it up and running. Since then I've learned a few more things. As I pick up new pieces of advice or have a new book release, I try to improve it.  Mostly I'm stumbling around in the dark.  And I'd rather spend my time on my blog or best of all, spend it writing.
So today, I worked for three hours trying to make improvements on my website.  I set up some new links, tried to clear out some clutter and made a page for the short story I'm going to post soon.  It all went pretty smooth until I tried to update my Navbar.  It's still not quite right and I can't figure out why.  Another day I'll swear, I mean work at it some more.
I did complete my short story that is a prequel to The Keepers of Sulbreth.  Tamarin's Story is in the hands of a reader so hopefully I'll have it up by the end of the week.
How many of you do your website yourself?  How often do you update it?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How Important is Setting?

Entire books have been written about setting. I’ve sat in numerous presentations at writing conferences and listened to successful authors, writing teachers and other professionals share their expertise on setting. Sometimes when I do my little posts about different aspects of novel creation I feel a bit of a fraud. I’m far from expert and am only sharing my feelings on how I create my novels and what things I consider in doing so.

When writing a fantasy novel, setting can be a character all in itself. The author strives to bring a world to life in a way that is believable enough to be possible. At least believable enough for the reader to imagine living in that alien place.
The setting of a novel should add to the mood or tone of the story. Is there a seasonal element? Is the weather as dark and brooding as the main character? Is the world cold and bleak? A few choice details about the weather or the landscape infer a serious, tense plot. Or does the description of the surroundings suggest a light, frivolous tone?
Weather isn’t the only factor to use in designing an intriguing setting. How might the interior of a character’s home lead the reader to understanding the character of the protagonist? Are the furnishings brand new, gleaming with lemon polish, or are they dusty antiques, mismatched and nonfunctional?
Don’t forget to use sensory description and a variety of it in setting. We experience the world through more than sight and hearing. Is there a taste in the air? Perhaps of burning stone and a smell of decay. Touch can evoke many emotions from the reader. Most people cringe when reminded of the sensation of a spider discovered crawling on the back of their hand. And don’t forget to vary the senses used in description.
When I read a book that pulls me into its world, I try and analyze what the author has done with setting to interest me. I carry a journal to jot down a descriptive word or verb I might want to use sometime. I especially like the settings that serve to foreshadow the story’s climax or the building of suspense.
Good writing is not entirely dependent on the setting but every successful novel uses the tool of a finely crafted time and place to complete their book.
How important is setting in your writing? Do you give it equal attention to character development? Has any novel captured your interest because of its clever setting?