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KC Klein on Inspiration and a Giveaway @kckleinbooks

    Please help me welcome the lovely KC Klein to the blog today, talking about a writer’s inspiration. Also, make sure you leave a comment and your email to be entered in her giveaway : )

Finding Inspiration In Texas

 First, I wanted to thank Amber for allowing me to come on her blog and do a guest post. What better place to talk about my latest book in the Texas Fever series, Hustlin’ Texas, than at a blog dedicated to romance? Amber has been so kind to work around my schedule and all my last minute postponements. Thank you so much Amber for working with me. Your patience has been amazing. J

A few years ago, before I even thought about writing a series, I started thinking about a sweet little love story that was centered on a headstrong young woman who had fallen for the cowboy next door. Add to it my heroine’s absolute passion for horses and a desperate rancher, and I had myself a story. So naturally when I started writing, I had to place my book in a small town in Texas. Well, the problem was I live in Arizona and had nUntitled-1 copyever been to Texas.

I was grateful to learn that the southern part of Texas has similar landscaping as Arizona and after interviewing and following around some local horse ranchers I was able to pull off a realistic Texas setting. But…I still felt the need to visit Texas and get the feel of the local flavor.                        

My best friend, Pam Silva, took pity on me and invited me to stay with her family who lived in the small town of Whitesboro, Texas.

Untitled-2 copy I learned a lot. I toured both small and large working horse ranches, saw long-horned cattle up close, found out in Texas that just about everything can be fried…catfish, hushpuppies, okra, sweet hushpuppies, and that no one I saw seemed as interested in pool like the woman on my cover. (What a shame.)

I also found that I wasn’t the first author, by far, to be inspired by Texas. In the Stockyard Museum in Fort Worth there is a wedding dress on display called the “Bad Luck Wedding Dress.” Due to technical difficulties I lost my pictures of the dress, but found a photo and the history of the gown on the museum website. Though you can’t tell from this photo all I have to say is that the women back then must have been very, very tiny.Untitled-3 copy

Alongside the dress was a romance novel by Geralyn Dawson who was inspired to write an entire series around the legend of this dress. Here’s her book cover. Untitled-4 copy

How cool is that to find your book kept in the Stockyard Museum alongside the actual dress that inspired your book—if only. (Insert heartfelt sigh here)

Well, maybe my book won’t make it into a museum, but I hope it will make its way into readers’ homes and hearts.

Thank you for letting me share a tiny bit of what inspired me in Texas. Below is the blurb and teaser of my latest book, Hustlin’ Texas. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, leave a comment below with your email address and you’ll be entered into a drawing for an e-copy of Hustlin’ Texas.

Thanks again and happy reading.

Hustlin' Texas (ebook) (2)Excerpt

Jett nodded, then glanced around the crowded bar. When he turned his gaze back on her, a person would be hard pressed to describe his eyes as anything sweet or candy like. “I was hoping you’d be up for a little game of nine-ball.”

Nikki took a sip from her beer and raised her brow in question. Nine-ball was the hustler’s game. It was short and quick, without all the rules of straight pool.

He nodded his head toward the tables in the back. “I heard you played.”

“Then you heard wrong.” She took another sip, eying him the whole time. “I’ve given it up for Lent.”

The corner of his mouth hinted at a smile. “Found God, have you?”

“Among other things.”

Jett glanced to the tables, then back to her. “One game. No money.”

Nikki shook her head. “I don’t play for fun. No thrill in it.”

He swallowed, and she could see his jaw work. “Then we’ll play for a favor. A debt. You up for a little more red in your ledger?”

She didn’t want to ask, not really, but gambling was too deep in her blood not to hear the stakes. “What’s the favor?”

He smiled, not the golden boy smile she’d come to know, but instead one that lacked any charm at all. “Well, Texas, that’s the thrill part. You don’t know until the end. Anything goes. No boundaries.”

Her heart did a funky jump-start in her chest at the possibilities, but her game face was ice-cold. “No limits?”

“None. Unless that’s too much heat for you? We could place some ground rules if you want to play it safe.”

Nikki knew what Jett was doing. It was so obvious, and yet, there was that achingly familiar thrill that zipped up her spine and buzzed in her blood. Some families were predisposed toward red hair or near-sightedness. The Logans were addicts. Throw a dart at the family tree and you’d hit a vice—drinking, smoking, shopping. You name it, and the Logans could turn anything into a compulsion. But really, under all the addictions, there was only one. One vice that was as indicative of a Logan as dark hair, brown skin, and blue eyes.

It was very basic, really. The Logans were gamblers.

There were stories as far back as her grandfather, if stories in the Logan family could be believed, who won his first car—a 1950 Cadillac—on the toss of a coin. Then there was her father, Dakota, who’d bet on every sports game invented, and even ones that hadn’t, like golf without clubs. Her father had once bet a hundred dollars on his ability to throw a golf ball through the eighteen holes. Legend had it, he’d won that hundred, but lost the money in the same night in an “I can piss into a can from the second story” contest.

So Jett knew what he was doing. And Nikki was smart enough to know this was more than a simple favor and way more than a simple game of pool. She also knew something else. Jett was no match for her in this game.

She hid her smile with a sip of her drink. The thrill of a “sure thing” was headier than any shot of tequila, more exciting than a leather-jacketed man on a motorcycle.

“Oh, I can take the heat,” she said.

“But can you handle this much heat?”

“Oh, I can handle it. Because we both know I can beat you with one hand tied behind my back and blindfolded.”

His eyebrows arched. “Then you’d best start figuring out what your favor will be.”

Nikki put down her bottle, no longer needing the buzz. “Already have.” Her car fixed…for starters. “You really think you can beat me at pool?”

God, he was so cocky. It was almost tragic.

His eyes narrowed and there was absolutely no humor in his voice when he spoke. “Oh, I’m betting on it.”

BIO: KC Klein has lived most of her life with her head in the clouds and her nose buried in a book. She did stop reading long enough to make a home with a real life hero, her husband, for over sixteen years. A mother of two children, she spends her time slaying dragons, saving princesses, and championing the belief in the happily-ever-after. Her debut novel, Dark Future, is a finalist in the 2012 Prism contest and has been honored with a reviewer’s choice award. Her other titles include a sci- fi, 2012 RONE award winning romance anthology, Hotter on the Edge, and the first two books in her Texas Fever contemporary romance series, Texas Wide Open, and Hustlin’ Texas. KC loves to hear from readers and can be found desperately pounding away on her laptop in yoga pants and leopard slippers or more conveniently at www.kckleinbooks.com. Sign for her quarterly newsletter for updates on her latest releases, sales, and free giveaways.

Blurb for Hustlin’ Texas:

 “Sassy, sexy, fun, but sweet at heart, KC Klein knows how to spin a tall Texas yarn.”—Lori Wilde

 “A sexy read. KC Klein’s hero is as hot as a Texan summer’s day. KC is an author to watch..” —Rachel Gibson

 Only one person in Oak Groves is happy to see bad girl Nikki Logan back in town…

 Oak Groves’ most beloved bachelor, Jett Avery, lives by a simple set of rules. Getting involved with a complicated woman isn’t one of them. He learned that the hard way two years ago when he spent one of the most incredible nights of his life with Nikki Logan. But then she hightailed it out of town, never to be seen again—until now. It might be time to break one of those rules…

 Picking up the pieces of her life, Nikki is back in Oak Groves, face to face with the one man she’s done her best to forget. But she has her reasons for being here—and they don’t include winding up in bed with Jett. Especially since he’ll never forgive her once he finds out the truth about why she’s back…

 Buy links for Hustlin’ Texas:

Amazon: http://kckleinbooks.com/HustlinTexas

Barns and Nobel: http://kckleinbooks.com/BNHustlinTexas

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/hustlin-texas

 Blurb for TEXAS WIDE OPEN:

 “A tortured hero, a love that defies distance and time…this is a book you won’t soon forget.” –Cat Johnson

 Katie Harris loved growing up on a ranch. She had her horse, the beautiful Texas prairie, and Cole Logan, the cowboy next door. But there are a lot of secrets hidden under a Texas sky…

Katie always knew she’d marry Cole one day—until he broke her dreams and her heart. But now that Katie’s father is sick, she’s back home, older, wiser and nowhere near the love-sick fool she once was.

Cole knows Katie doesn’t want anything to do with him. But after so many years, he can’t pretend she’s no more than a neighbor. Holding his ground was hard enough when she was seventeen. Now that she’s her own woman, Cole’s heart doesn’t stand a chance…

“Passionate, gritty and fast paced…with a hot blooded, honorable hero to make every woman’s knees go weak.”—Diane Whiteside

 Buy Links for TEXAS WIDE OPEN:

Amazon: http://kckleinbooks.com/TexasWideOpenAmazon

Barns and Noble: http://kckleinbooks.com/TexasWideOpenBN

Blurb for DARK FUTURE:

A woman caught between two futures…

Awakened in the middle of the night by a future version of herself, Kris Davenport is given a mission: go travel in time to save the world–and his life. Of course, her future self doesn’t tell her who he is just sends her into the darkness and straight into an alien invasion.

…must choose between the man who has her heart…

He turns out to be ConRad Smith, the callous, untrusting military commander of Earth’s army and the world’s last defense. There’s only one way for Smith to know for sure if this strange woman is an alien spy–slice her throat. Except, he didn’t anticipate the desire he would feel as he interrogates the hot-tempered, warm-blooded woman. 

…or the fate that saves the world.

As Kris and ConRad struggle to trust each other in a world on the brink of destruction, they each will have to face the ultimate choice of whether to fight or die… survive or forgive. 

 Buy Links for DARK FUTURE:

Amazon e-book: http://kckleinbooks.com/AmazonDarkFuture

Amazon print book: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Future-Kc-Klein/dp/0062117041

Avon Impulse: http://www.avonromance.com/buy/dark-future-epb/

Barns and Noble: http://kckleinbooks.com/BNDarkFuture

Website: www.kckleinbooks.com

Blog: http://kckleinbooks.tumblr.com

WordPress: http://kckleinbooks.com/writing-from-the-edge-blog/

Links To Social Media:

Twitter: @kckleinbooks

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorKCKlein

Pintrest: http://pinterest.com/kckleinbooks

Amazon Author page: http://kckleinbooks.com/AmazonAuthorPage

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5163507.K_C_Klein

Character or plot?

I’m a plotter, I can admit that fully. I like my little road map laid out before I begin writing, even though I know full well that at the end, the book probably won’t look much like my initial outline.

That’s because as I write, my characters take on their own personalities and decide from there on out where they’re damn well going to go.

But being a plotter, I still need to know quite a bit about my characters before I can start that initial outline.

I recently sat down to plot book 5 in my Heart of a Vampire series. I wrote two pages of outline before my heart sank and I showed it to Wicked.

She laughed.

My characters were wimps and the story was going nowhere.

Which is when I finally realized I didn’t know nearly enough about my characters to even begin plotting.

 

So, my Q4U: Writers – how well do you need to know your characters before you begin to write?

Readers – Are you drawn to books with more action oriented plots, or by great characters (or both)?

The next big thing

Today,
I’m bringing to you the Next Big Thing. I was tagged by the lovely Yelena Casale. (Check out her Next Big Thing post here). This is the 17th week of this blog hop, designed for writers to connect with readers and reveal a little bit about their current work in progress.

What is the working title of your book?

I know it will be ‘something’ storm, but I haven’t quite decided yet. I’m calling it Vamp 4 (Heart of a Vampire, book 4).

Where did the idea come from for the book?

When I get a book idea, my mind automatically wonders how it could be turned into a series. So, the HoaV series came with an idea for my first couple. In book 4, readers get to know Brandon Wulfgar, one of the Viking twins who guard the vampire king.

What genre does your book fall under?

Vampire paranormal romance

Which Actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Salma HayekThis is hilarious to answer, because I actually have pictures of my characters for my own reference. Brandon Wulfgar would be played by Chris Hemsworth (from Thor of course). Celeste Wilder would be Salma Hayek.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Hmm. I don’t actually have one yet. Okay, made up on the fly: An old-school Viking warrior must convince a mortal detective that the paranormal is real in order to save her family, and her soul.

What do you think? Yeah, needs work.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My plan is to self-publish this entire series.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m writing it right now. I started on October 9th, with the goal to be done before the end of the month… at least with this first draft, LOL.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Um, I have no idea. I generally don’t compare myself to other authors. Anyone who’s read the books in this series want to answer?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The characters. They’re always the culprits. They get in my head, demanding their story be told and refuse to go away until I comply.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I know what I wonder about. How can an immortal vampire and a mortal homicide detective find their happily ever after.

Okay, this was fun. Thanks for listening to me 🙂

For next week (#18) check out who I tagged in The Next Big Thing:

Cathy Pegau

Cassandra Carr

Guest Author and Give@way~Cera duBois of the Hunter’s Dagger Series

The Rest of the Story…

Keeping the facts straight when writing a series.

Thank you, Amber, for having today as your guest!

 *Always, thanks so much for stopping by 🙂 *

Whether you are a reader or a writer of fiction, we often fall in love with the secondary characters or the “world” of a story. So much so, that readers often request authors to “finish” the story. This is what happened with the Star Wars universe. If you ask George Lucas, his story ended at the last scene in Episode 6, Return of the Jedi. Sure, he wrote and produced the Prequel which fans either loved or hated, but we (I’m a Star Wars fan) all wanted the rest of the story.

Do Han and Leia marry? Does Luke rebuild the Jedi Order? Does Leia become a Jedi?

Fortunately for us, Mr. Lucas made a business decision that has raked in millions for him, has kept the franchise alive and well and has, for the most part, satisfied us fans. Yes, Han and Leia not only get married, they have a set of twins, Jacen and Jaina and a son, Anakin, all of whom become favorite characters in the series about Luke’s new Jedi Order. And yes, Leia becomes a Jedi, she actually becomes a Master eventually. A lot happens in the Galaxy Far, Far Away beyond that final scene with the Force ghosts of Anakin, Obi-Wan and Yoda watching the Death Star exploding over the forest moon of Endor with the Ewoks playing primitive instruments and Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca and the droids rejoicing the end of the Evil Empire.
Yeah, did I mention I’m a fan? But having read this series of books, written by various writers, I’ve seen some of the problems with writing a big series. One of the biggest for me is inconsistencies… But this I can understand in a series as huge and diverse as the Star Wars books. These books aren’t written by George Lucas or even endorsed by him … Oh, he makes money from them and sanctions their plots as part of the Expanded Universe, but these authors are only using his “world” and characters. If he chooses to continue with his personal vision of the story—it will be nothing like what has been written. Something this fan hopes never happens. I love the books!

However, I think if a series is written by one author, within one “world” and with the same set of characters, he or she better get the facts straight. I hate inconsistencies and nothing will throw me out of a story faster than changing the facts late in the game.

So, how does an author prevent this from happening? Because it’s the little things that may and do bug the observant reader. Like the heroine’s sister’s green eyes (in book one) now are blue in book five—with no mention of colored contacts. Or the long lost friend whose name was John and now it’s James—without the benefit of the character changing his name.

We all have seen them, but hopefully we can prevent these with some basic record keeping. For both of my series, The Hunter’s Daggers Series and The Colton Gamblers, I use the Microsoft Office program One Note as a virtual notebook. There’s a lot of writing programs out there, and most of them have features that allow you to save notes, or information within the program. I use One Note simply because I like it and it’s easy to use, if you’re a Microsoft user.

For my series The Hunter’s Daggers, I created a virtual notebook and each book has a section. Within these sections, there are pages. I have a page in each book section for research, character profiles, calendar of events, and general notes. On the research page, I’ll copy/paste entire web pages. This makes life easy when I need to make sure my facts are straight, I simply go to my Notebook and find the article. I don’t have to do another web search. In the character profile page, I note anything I might need to know later—such as physical appearances, and any facts about that character I might need to know later. The calendar should be self-explanatory. On the general notes page, I list anything else I might need to know–like brainstorming sessions; I copy/paste the book info, like the blurb and synopsis; all the links to the files; and important dates, like when I started the book and when I finally finished it.

For example, here’s what the profile for Brad Morris/Austin Calhoun from A Hunter’s Angel and A Hunter’s Blade looks like. This was copied from my One Note page. The things in parentheses and italics I added to clarify things.

Bradley Andrew Morris AKA Austin Calhoun

*Born: August 23, 1979, age 32 at the start of A Hunter’s Angel

*Turned into a Vampire by Shane Chamberlain in January 2011.

*Eyes: Hazel/ After his turn, they glow amber when he drops his glamour.

*Hair: Golden Brown, he wears it sort of like Rob Pattinson in Twilight (LOL… I know, this is just so I can picture it so that I can describe it in the books.)

*Height: 6’2”

*Known for his one-night stands and never committing to a woman.

*His father is sentenced to life in prison when Brad is 3 yrs old after he kills a cop during a robbery of a convenience store. He hasn’t seen his father since.

*Grows up on his grandparents’ ranch in East Texas with his mother and sister Diane, who is a year and half younger than him.

*He marries Samantha Anderson when he is 18 after she gets pregnant with his first son, Brandon. She files for divorce in 2001. She remarried a rancher and lives in Texas with Brandon.

*He joins the Army after high school graduation and becomes an MP and eventually works his way into the CID (Criminal Investigation Division). He deploys to Afghanistan in 2002 and to Iraq in 2003. He ETS’s (this is a military acronym which means he leaves the Army) and joins the FBI in 2005.

*He marries his second wife, Jamie Becker, in 2005 after she becomes pregnant after a short series of one-night stands. They are married for 2 years until he cheats on her and she divorces him. She now lives in New Jersey with their son Matthew…

This goes on for every fact that makes up Brad/Austin’s character. 

So, hopefully I don’t mix up something that is vital to his character. And hopefully you fall as much in love with this ex-soldier-turned-FBI Special Agent-turned vampire vampire hunter as I did when I wrote him in A Hunter’s Angel, and I just had to tell the rest of his story.

A Hunter’s Angel, Book 1 The Hunter’s Dagger Series

The serial killer stalking Clayton, Pennsylvania, isn’t all that has Chief of Police Grace Wallace worried. For a year, she’s tried to forget Special Agent Ian McHenry and now he’s the expert the FBI sent to catch the killer. She can’t stay away from him, but something primal is telling her to run to save much more than just her heart. Despite the strict code of ethics Ian vowed to follow as a vampire hunter, he craves Grace’s blood above all others. If he chooses to stay, Ian risks losing his chance at divine forgiveness. But if he leaves Grace unprotected from the evil he’s hunted for over a century, he loses more than just his soul…

***Here’s a never  before seen excerpt featuring Brad, Ian and Grace***

She looked at him as if she wanted to say something, but Brad interrupted by moving in beside her. Ian hadn’t missed the two of them talking earlier while he waited with Sheryl and the children.

“We’re finishing up. I was thinking of heading back to Clayton for something to eat. I’m starved enough to eat a horse, shoes and all,” Brad said, looking at Grace.

She laughed. “Me, too. But I’ll pass on the shoes, I think.”

The sound shot right though Ian. When was the last time she laughed with me?

His answer came back to him like a double edged sword—the night you almost killed her while making love to her.

Grace brushed a lock of coppery hair from her lightly freckled cheek. Brad watched the action, and Ian sensed his lust. Ian’s jealousy was potent and instant. He fought his darker side and managed to prevent his fangs from descending.

Brad glanced at him, and Ian didn’t need to read his mind to know his intentions. Focused once more on Grace, Brad stepped closer and tilted his head toward her.

Brad was a good two inches taller than Ian. His light brown hair styled in one of the latest disheveled trends and the sun highlighted it with gold. The Texan had that cowboy charm most women easily fell for.

Ian didn’t pay much attention to their conversation. He was too busy fighting the urge to slip into Brad’s mind and make him dance around like a monkey. Maybe have him even scratch his crotch. Wasn’t that what all the Sunday paper cartoons made fun of?

He shook off the crazy notion. Ian didn’t like using his powers on his friends and rarely read Brad’s mind. But Ian couldn’t stop thinking Brad Morris was the last thing Grace needed.

The only thing that prevented him from sending Brad away was his connection with Grace. She wasn’t interested in Brad—now. But given time, would she fall under Brad’s spell as easily as if he had some sort of supernatural power? He had seen his friend charm the pants off more than one woman.

Ian clamped down so hard on his teeth it was amazing he didn’t break them off. The accent, Ian silently accused. He remembered all too well her fascination with his brogue when they’d met a year and a half ago. She’d quizzed him on it until he told her a satisfying story of picking up his Irish parents’ accents.

Brad’s chuckle quickly brought him back to the present. They talked as if Ian wasn’t even there, as if they’d known each other for years. Had they carried on like this last year? Ian couldn’t remember.

She asked, “Hey, you still hungry enough to eat the shoes off a horse?”

Brad smiled broadly. “Yep. What do you say we get out of here?

Available Everywhere E-books are sold:

The Wild Rose Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

A Hunter’s Blade, Book 2 of The Hunter’s Dagger Series

 Brigit Wolfe, a born werewolf, hasn’t killed a human in over a hundred years, although now, she wonders if the animal attacking people in Silver Creek, Colorado, isn’t her. But she might have bigger problems when her cowboy neighbor, Austin Calhoun, ambles into her bar. Austin hasn’t been a vampire for long, but he is determined to prove to himself that he’s worthy of his hunter’s dagger. Brigit’s rare beauty and blade-sharp tongue enchants him. She ignites a passion he thought was dead, but is she the killer his master sent him to destroy? During Austin’s investigation regarding Brigit’s involvement in the deaths, an old crime surfaces connected to her human best friend. These two immortal enemies have to join forces to solve the mystery before someone else dies. But can they survive the heat of their own desire?

***Excerpt***

“Why don’t you enlighten me?”

She glowered at him for several moments. Then she closed her eyes and spoke in a language he didn’t understand. Before he knew it, a fire sparked to life in the old stone hearth across the room. A second later, he flew out of his chair and shoved hard against the edge of the bar behind him.

He struggled against the invisible restrains, but she’d taken him completely off guard. He was powerless to break free.

Standing, she kicked the chair to the side and stalked toward him. She could kill him right here and now, but…holy hell, she was damned sexy.

She stopped in front of him and growled, “Let’s get something established about werewolves. There are two kinds. The lesser wolves who are made. And the Lykan who are born. I’m not one of the degenerates. I was born a Lykan in 1647. The first child of Valeriu and Elena. I’m an alpha and you are nothing more than a fledgling just hatched.”

He broke free of her power by drawing on his own. When he moved toward her, Austin held his hands to his side, ready to grab the special knife he had sheathed inside his jacket. His fangs had long ago descended ready for a fight. “I don’t really give a flying fuck whether you were made, born, or hatched.”

When the energy of her power touched him again, he pulled the knife, and the silver blade caught the dim light of the fire in the hearth when he opened the long switchblade. “I want to know if you’re the one preying on these people.”

Her eyes widened and she backed up a step as he approached. “I told you I didn’t attack those humans. I haven’t killed a mortal in over a hundred years. How many innocents have you snacked on tonight? How many of them did you want to kill?”

“I don’t hurt my prey,” he said through clenched teeth and held her icy gaze. He’d never let her know battling the beast within every feeding was the hardest thing he’d ever done.

After forcing himself to take a deep breath, he lowered the knife and released some of the tension zinging through his body. “If you didn’t kill those people then you have nothing to worry about. Best way to figure out who did is by working together.” He put the silver blade away, and his fangs retracted.

“What do you have planned?”

He didn’t miss the slight quiver in her voice. He should finish all this right here and now so he could get back to Ireland and whatever life he’d scraped together, but something needled him into doing a thorough investigation.

“We begin with you telling me everything you remember from those nights you became the big, bad wolf.”

Available now at Amazon and everywhere January 2, 2013.

 

Bio:

Cera duBois has a strong belief in never giving up on your dreams…

Although Cera was unable to read due to dyslexia and a learning disability until she was in the fourth grade, she always had a story to tell. She wrote her first novel in eleventh grade when she had to keep a journal for her academic English class. Since her life was far from exciting growing up as a farm girl in West Central Pennsylvania, she decided to rely on her imagination to give her something to write about. Over the course of the school year, she wrote a tangled romance set in the Deep South during the Civil War.  Becoming an author was her ultimate dream. Despite holding a BS in secondary social studies education from Penn State University, she currently works full-time as a medical secretary. A mother of a teenage son and pre-teen daughter, she lives near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with her husband of nearly 20 years. If she isn’t sitting in a quiet corner with her laptop, warm days will find her in the English garden surrounding her house. Cera loves to read and is interested in history, romance, science fiction and the paranormal. She also writes contemporary Westerns under her real name of Sara Walter Ellwood.

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 I’m also having a giveaway!

 2 Lucky posters will be picked to receive a custom piece of jewelry designed by me. So make sure you LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS in your post!

Please welcome Cindy Carroll ~ and Giveaway

I’m honored to have Cindy Carroll with us today. Author and teacher, she has an upcoming class on how screenwriting can help fiction writers. Check it out : ) http://www.writersonlineclasses.com/?page_id=592

Also, comment here to win a lecture packet from Cindy.

And, action!

First I want to say thank you to Amber for allowing me to guest blog here to kick off my blog tour! I love writing novels and scripts. And I love talking about how screenwriting techniques can improve your novel.

Action. There’s a reason it’s not lights, camera, passive. How boring would that be? Action is what movies and television are all about. They’re moving pictures, so they have to move. Of course there are two kinds of action. But I’m not talking action movies here with explosions, car chases, gun fights. Though I do love all that stuff. I’m talking active writing. Whether you write novels or scripts you have to keep the writing active. Avoid passive voice as much as possible.

In scripts those sections of description describing the action are actually labelled action in screenwriting softwares. Too much describing what’s going on slows the pace and lessens the white space. Scripts should have lots of white space. Script readers actually skip over large chunks of action. Novel readers would never do that would they? Uh, yes, they would.

Novels need white space too. Just because novels aren’t moving pictures doesn’t mean they can be passive. Lots of narrative in passive voice, not enough dialogue, too much introspection make for a slow paced book.

What can you learn from reading scripts and watching movies that can help your novels? Here’s an example of action that sets the scene from one of my favourite action movies – True Lies.

EXT. CHATEAU – NIGHT

The driveway and motorcourt are filled with cars. A formal dress party is in progress… a private reception for a middle-eastern dignitary. Tuxedoed men escort their diamond-encrusted ladies through the huge front doors, where they doff their overcoats and are politely scanned with hand-held metal detectors by white gloved security staffers.

The walled perimeter of the house runs along the lake, forming a kind of rampart. There is an opening, to a kind of waterway or canal, which connects to the private docks inside the grounds. There is a steel grating across the opening. The bars disappear down into the thin ice of early winter.

With the house visible BG, we CRANE DOWN below the parapet wall along which a guard is a white exposure-suit is walking… down along the dark wall to the grating… TILTING DOWN to see a glow pulsing under the ice.

Note how the action isn’t overdone. There isn’t a whole lot of description to set the scene but can you picture it? Can you picture the scene if you haven’t seen the movie? If you have seen the movie do you remember this scene? In screenwriting the writer puts in just enough detail to paint a picture but the rest of the details – the colour of the walls, what’s on the table in the character’s living room, what kind of TV they have – are decided on by other departments. Painting too detailed a picture may let the reader picture exactly what you, the writer, envisioned but it doesn’t let the reader use her imagination at all.

I talk about action and a whole lot more in my Is That Hollywood Calling? – How Thinking Like a Screenwriter Can Improve Your Novel. Comment here to be entered to win a lecture packet. If you don’t win, don’t worry! There’s still time to register for the class at: http://www.writersonlineclasses.com/?page_id=592

***

Cindy
http://www.cindycarroll.com/blog
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCindyCarroll

#AmWriting Back to the Basics

I keep hearing about ‘back to the basics’ with local schools. Two of my kids go to a charter school which has used this slogan since they opened. What exactly does it mean?

Well, my take is that rather than having kids sit and listen, memorizing rote facts they don’t understand, curriculum is changing to go back to the basics. If you want to do algebra, you need to know the basics: addition, subtraction, ect. Kids need to actually apply the knowledge by doing the work instead of being talked to.

I think as writers, sometimes it’s good to be in this frame of mind.

Now, I can share my knowledge about the basics of the craft of writing, but if all you do is listen, you won’t get as much out of it. Like any writing information, you’ll get more from it by trying it out and applying it to your own writing.

Some of what I’ll be talking about the next few weeks is probably going to be pretty basic. But that’s where, after a bit of thought, I decided to start with. Because if the basics are missing, the rest isn’t going to be much help.

Come join me.

The first thing I’m going to be talking about is dialogue.

See ya’ll Wednesday.

What to write next???

Sometimes, it’s hard figuring out what I want to work on next. The ideas are plentiful, so mostly it comes down to what’s calling to me the loudest (at least, when I’m not working on something already contracted :).

I don’t like being in between things. It makes me feel at a loss. Things get a bit blue as my muse falls silent and allows my internal editor to start squawking his not-very-nice crap. He can make it hard to find the motivation to start on something new.

The nice thing is, as I play with the ideas and one begins to call out, my muse wakes up and tells that editor to shut up. Then, I begin work and life itself seems to pick up its pace.

The rollercoaster of an artist, I guess.

So, my Q4U:

 Writers, how do you feel between projects? If it’s a down feeling, how do you overcome it?

Beating the blues

I don’t know what it is lately. The weather here has been great – mid-70’s and sunny. My oldest is between activities, which has freed up time in the evenings to just hang out together.

But I’ve just been feeling down. I don’t know if there’s really a song or not, but the words, “I’ve got the blues” keeps singing in my head.

One thing I’ve been doing is revising my urban fantasy. I came close a few times last year to finding an agent. And while they “Love the premise”, the general consensus is I need to work on my world-building and characterization.

I’ve learned a lot about the craft since then, and so I’m trying to apply it to the UF. I don’t know if I’m feeling like it’s a mountainous gargantuan task, or if I just don’t know where to begin first. The last two days, I’ve been rewriting my opening, trying to make my character more likeable and sympathetic, while making it a ‘hook’. Part of this is re-reading some of my favorite books and studying their openings.

The good news: I’ve finally started reading again 🙂 It’s been a little while since I actually sat down and just read. Partly, I blame the TV.

**Note to self – less TV

But a small part of me, you know, the evil editor deep inside that for some reason I can’t seem to shut up lately, is constantly telling me that even though I’m published with my erotic romance, I’m never going to make it to NY with my urban fantasy.

I KNOW it’s a lie. That voice is full of shit. Because I’m going to work my ass off and never give up until I get there.

But it won’t shut up 🙂

So, I’ve decided to make a plan.

I’m going to write down the steps I need to take to rewriting/editing my urban fantasy.

Then I’m going to number them.  Once that’s done, I’ll have a plan.

I work well when I have a plan. I love goals.

And I know, once I get deep into working through it, I’ll finally be able to shut that stupid voice up.

Q4U:

How do you get rid of the blues?

Who said writing is the hard part?

This month, I’m working on editing (read rewriting) one of my urban fantasy novels. I wrote the first draft late last year.

Now, when I write, my first draft is always short. My characters are faceless beings, walking around a foggy space — naked. They have few feelings, but man, do they get stuff done 🙂

So I’m used to editing and rewriting in the second round to flesh out the story.

Well, I decided to take EditPalooza with SavvyAuthors.com (great site, BTW).

I get to work with an editor and another writer.

So, the first assignment was to read my draft from start to finish, without picking up the red pen.

OMG.

Horrible.

I almost cried.

My first draft is completely below my quality standards of a first draft.

So, nose to the grindstone. My goal is to drag it screaming if I have to, into a more acceptable thing.

So far, I’ve been doing pretty good. Slower than I hoped, but I’m pretty much on track.

Q4U:

What do your first drafts look like?

Superman and Grooves

As I sit down to begin Dragos 3: Blazed, I can’t wait to hit the keyboard. Book 1 went fast (like superman fast). Book 3 has caught me, I can’t wait to write the characters. I know the plot.

Book 2, on the other hand, was a pit of mud mixed with quick sand. It took me forever to get the first part down.

Now, I’ve written enough to know every book is different. But I still don’t have that connection to Scorched that I would like. The funny thing is, everyone tells me it’s wonderful, better than book 1. But I’m just not feeling it like I did Burned, or like I’m feeling Blazed.

Go figure.

I guess we’ll see what my editor thinks when she gets back to me, right? 🙂

Anyway, I’m off to start pounding the keyboard with my newest tale…

~mumbles bye, head already in the clouds of Blazed.

Aaaarrrggghhh!

Learning ‘All About Marketing’. Wow.

Who woulda thunk there was so much to learn about such an innocent seeming topic. But with any publisher now-a-days, E or New York, they’re all asking authors to carry a heavy part of the marketing bucket.

I think my brain’s about to explode.

But I’m learning. And soon (hopefully for the love of sanity) it will become a familiar thing.

I read a great document sent to me by my publisher. The one thing stressed above all others was the time.

As authors, we need to get the most bang for our buck–not just money, but time.

So right now, Marketing is taking up a lot of time. But as I get the hang of it, I’ll find new ways to use the time to set up, then be able to keep the ball rolling with little effort. It’s finding that ‘downhill’ that I’m working on now.

You tell me, what is your favorite way to market?

If you ask me again…

As a writer, we all experience this at least one time in our lives:

“So…” blushes and silence.

“Yes?” we prod.

“So, where do you get your ideas?”

Us-bangs head against the nearest hard surface.

I love Jeff Foxworthy and his ‘You might be a redneck if…’ jokes.

You might be an author if the above question makes you want to rip your hair out, or the hair of the person asking such a question.

But as a reader, I also understand. The amazing things writers come up with is astounding. The written word is as limitless as the imagination.

My novella coming out October 8th, Dragos: Burned, essentially came about because of two things– my love of all things dragon, and the spark of an idea I had.

What would happen if a dragon shapeshifter and a fireman fell in love?

Well, right there told me it was going to be a paranormal romance.

I had been pushing my personal boundaries and trying to write (and be comfortable with writing) sex scenes. So, I decided to include some of those.

Then it became a paranormal erotic romance.

***See how my brain progresses 🙂

So, I sat down to write my 1 sentence per chapter\scene outline.

When I got done, it had turned into a novella, not a novel.

Sure, I could have pushed for a novel, but the shorter length worked for me.

My ideas normally start with a character. For example, my historical paranormal romance came about because–my love for all things big cat (tigers) and my love of kick butt heroines in historicals. So, I made my heroine a princess in a matriarchal clan of tiger shapeshifters. And the hero? Well, she had to track him down and drag him home.

Ideas are everywhere. I remember a time I’d hear that and snort. No they aren’t.

The key is to train your brain to see them. And then, WRITE THEM DOWN. I don’t care if you have a photographic memory. The best ideas will slip through your fingers before they’re fully formed.

If you WRITE THEM DOWN, they’ll linger in your subconscious, growing and adding to themselves until one day, they’re ready for your inspection.

As authors, it’s our job not just to write, but to constantly cultivate ideas.

Just as we learn the craft, we learn how to see nibbles of ideas in everything around us (or, in my case, inside my wild imagination).

Happy writing.

New & different, but not too different

I always hear agents and editors talking about how they want something new and different.

Then, they add, but not too different.

What’s a writer to do? How do we find that line?

Obviously, I’m still working on that.

But I think, over the years of reading agent blogs (See the links for some of my favorites) I’ve come to get at least a slight grasp on the statement.

As a reader, I love seeing the common tropes I’ve come to expect from the genres I love. If I pick up a romance, I darn well want to experience the tumulus, rocky relationship, and the falling in love to their happily ever after. If I pick up an urban fantasy, I want that heroine to kick some major butt, but occasionally show the alpha hero her softer side. I also want to watch how she wraps him around her pinky–not in the way that he’s whipped, but in the way that he treats her with softness, and respect.

So as a writer, I think one of the most important things is knowing the tropes of the genre you write in. As long as you have what the reader expects, the playing field is yours baby 🙂

Q4U: What’s your take?

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