Sunday, August 22, 2010

I wish I was an under-achiever...

Before I continue, let me state that my use of the term “under-achiever” in this particular post is not in its usual derogatory tone, but rather something I aspire to be as a writer in reference to the dreaded Word Count.

For example, if a novel in your genre is typically 90K words then you have achieved that goal when you reach approximately 90K words. If you finish your novel significantly less than that, then you have quite literally under-achieved. Right?

Contrarily, if you were to write…oh, say, a Paranormal Romance novel…and comes in at almost 135K WORDS, then you’ve by far surpassed the status of over-achieving and gone straight to, “Oh my God!”

That’s right, you guessed it. I went WAY over an acceptable first-novel-word-count. Now, I’ve looked at my scenes from every angle possible and tried to picture my story without them and just can’t bring myself to cut any of them except one. But as I was going through my MS this time I realized something about halfway through. Cutting scenes isn’t my problem. It’s cutting words.

I was always confused when I heard authors say, “I’m doing line edits now.” What the heck were line edits? Who, in their right mind, would go back and analyze every line in their book? I’ll tell you who. A writer who knows what the hell they’re doing, that’s who.

The first run-through of my MS on these latest edits (which were complete overhauls, I might add) I was taking out all of the unnecessary “that” uses and correcting paragraph breaks. Easy stuff like that. Because after all, I thought, I've done so much work on this thing, there's only going to be MINOR edits that need to be done now. It's basically a done deal.

But once I started getting closer to the middle I realized there was A LOT of text I could cut just by choosing different words. For instance, I could take a sentence like this:

“Your body can’t digest regular food now that you’re a vampire.”

And change it to this:

“Vampires can’t digest regular food.”

For my purposes, the second sentence works just as well as the first, but it knocked 6 words off of my count. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but they add up fast.

Another habit I have that adds to my superfluous word count is my love for description. But I go overboard. I add in so many adjectives and adverbs that it turns a perfectly succinct sentence into an entire paragraph. I wax poetic until the reader forgets what the hell it is I’m waxing about. (Okay, maybe I’m not that bad, but you get the picture.) But whether you call it babbling or embellishing, it all has the same result.

Too. Many. Words.

So, even though I had the first half of my MS marked up with red pen, I went back to beginning and started marking it up with purple. I looked at every sentence as an individual. If it wasn’t pertinent to the story, I cut it. If they were unnecessary descriptions, I cut it. If I could think of a different word – or set of words – that would say the same thing in less, I cut it.

At this point I’ve only fixed about a quarter of my edits in the computer version of my novel and I’ve already knocked off about 2K words. That’s not bad at all. My goal is to not have anything more than 130,499 words, so when I query I can say 130K (you’re supposed to round to the nearest 500), but I’m hoping I can get it into the upper 120s.

What have I learned from this experience? With my next novel I have a feeling I’ll be analyzing my sentence structure and word choices a lot earlier in the game to prevent such a gross over-achieving status. I don’t hold out any hopes for ever being an under-achiever with word counts. I’ll just never be that person that can throw down a skeleton and flesh it out after.

But maybe, with practice and time, I’ll eventually just be a regular ol’ achiever.


P.S. My earlier post boasting about my new website is now obsolete. I cancelled that account with VistaPrint. Loved the template, hated the price. I'm still on the prowl for the right hosting company for my website. I'll let you all know when I make my final decision. Sorry for the tease with the other one!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Occasional Update

**Update: I canceled my trial website. I'll give you an updated link when I have a permanent one to give. Thank you!**

Hello to all of my blogging friends!!!  I can't tell you how much I miss all of you.  I miss all of our interactions and camaraderie super-duper mucho much.  :)

I don't have much time to post much of anything except a quickie update, so here goes (if there are any of you out there that are still listening)....

I have a website!  I'm not sure if it's a permanent thing yet since this is just a trial period, but I love how it looks for now.  The problem is that it's through VistaPrint (yes, that annoying place that advertises the free business cards), which isn't known for their webhosting.  I love the way the site looks (the template is pretty much perfect for me), but in order to get very fancy or do anything like email campaigns or anything extra...they charge you for every extra feature over the $10/month.  That's freakin' expensive!  I've tried very hard to research all of the web hosting companies out there and I'm very torn as to who to go with.  I need cheap, easy and if anyone has any opinions or information for me, please share!  You can leave it in the comments or email me!'s the website!  Visit and sign my guestbook!

As far as editing Desires of the Soul's going awesome. My betas, the JBs, have helped me SO immensely!  Thanks a million girls!  I'm still working on it and I'm about half-way through, but the ending is going to take some work.  Unfortunately, I can't seem to get my word count down, so I think it'll still end up being somewhere around 133-134K words!  Yikes.  But I'm SO excited about the changes I've made already.  I know it sounds biased, or even egotistical, but I can't help it...I LOVE THIS BOOK!  I can't wait until the day comes where I can share it with all of you.

Well, I have to go.  I hope you're all doing fabulous and please don't hesitate to contact me via email.  I'll always have time to correspond through email!

Ciao for now...

Friday, June 18, 2010

FAN-tastic Friday: Shannon Whitney Messenger

GLM: Hello, I’m Gina Leigh Maxwell and you’re listening to Passions on Paper on WPOP, the blogosphere’s hit station for paranormal romance and beyond.

The theme of today’s show is FAN-tastic Friday and I’m very excited to have one of my favorite fans with us in the studio today. She’s the Cat Girl from Southern Cal and a fellow triple-namer. She hates blogging and loves vlogging…please welcome Shannon Whitney Messenger to the show! *recorded track plays of applause and cheers*

Thanks so much for being here today, Shannon! It’s so great to have you with us.

SWM: Aw, thanks for having me Gina, it’s great to be here. Oh, but one tiny thing—I don’t actually love vlogging. It terrifies me. Like, a lot. And I love blogging. Reading comments from my followers is always one of the highlights of my day.

GLM: *exaggerated sigh* I’m so sorry, Shannon. I’m working with a new production assistant and he seems to have copied my notes wrong. *knocks on the glass of the studio* DL! Shannon hates vlogging. Not loves. Hates. *DL shrugs his shoulders and gives apologetic grin*

Okay, moving on, let’s start at the beginning. We actually have something in common, you and I. Although you studied art and film in college out in Hollywood, I studied musical theatre and dance in college in the hopes of one day making it to Hollywood. It wasn’t until halfway through my college career when I realized I was a terrible actress and abandoned that dream for another.

What was the deciding factor in changing from chasing the stars to writing about your own? And as a follow-up question, why don’t you have a studio filled with your artwork? The portrait sketches you feature on your blog are so amazing!

SWM: Oh boy, you start with the big guns right away, don’t you? :)

GLM: *DL flexes biceps proudly and waggles his eyebrows at Shannon* No, DL, she wasn’t referring to your guns. Sorry, Shannon. Go on.

SWM: Well…there were a lot of reasons why I left Hollywood, but I guess the major one was that I came to realize that I just didn’t love it enough. Hollywood has to be your LIFE if you want to be a success, and I wanted more than that. I didn’t want to spend 18 hours a day on set—and yes, the screenwriter is required to be on set most of the time. And I hated how all consuming the stress was. My poor boss—who was VP of Production for a television production company—used to leave himself voicemail messages at all hours of the night, because he’d wake up and realize there was something he needed to do and he needed a way to remember it. One of my first tasks every day was to try and decipher his half asleep mumblings. I didn’t want my life to become that way. I knew I couldn’t take the stress. So I walked away.

And aw, thank you for the compliment on my drawings. I actually did sell prints of my portraits for a while, but if there’s any business tougher to break into than publishing, it’s art. Plus I’d rather dedicate more time to writing.

GLM: Your super awesome blog, Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe, is so much fun to read. Not only do you have great posts about all-things-writing, you have tons of other great things on there as well. Some of my favorite posts are what you like to call Shannon Shame. Can you give our listeners the history of how Shannon Shame came about and some examples?

SWM: Ah, Shannon Shame, how do I hate thee? You know, it actually happened very gradually. I started to notice that the posts my followers seemed to enjoy the most were the ones where I’d relate some horrible, humiliating experience I’d had. So I created the label as a way to keep track of those posts. Then my followers started pushing for it and it just sort of became a thing, like, ‘how can we make Shannon humiliate herself this time?’

For example, I made the mistake of posting about the time I went on a game show and lost—horribly. After reading it, my followers made me promise that I would post a clip of it on my blog when my book sells, as a way of balancing the Universe for the success I’ve found. It almost makes me hope my book doesn’t sell. I’ve already endured the horrible vlog they made me make after I signed with my agent, and the game show clip is going to be so much worse. I mean, I have bangs in it. BANGS!

GLM: *LOL* Holy funny shite! I’ve never heard someone so distraught over bangs before. Now I have one more reason as to why I can’t wait for your book to sell!

You recently had a guest post on the Guide to Literary Agents blog on how you acquired your agent, Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Can you give us a brief synopsis of how it all went down and you ended up being the super agented author you now are?

SWM: Ooo—you said the “s” word. Don’t you know that word strikes fear into the heart of writers everywhere? It even sounds evil. Synopsisssssssss *shudders*

*DL yelps and hides under his desk.*

No, but seriously, it was a whirlwind process that I still have a hard time wrapping my head around. I met Laura at a conference and pretty much fell in love with her—even before I pitched my project and she requested a partial. She was just so sweet and approachable, which amazed me because she’s LAURA RENNERT—uber agent extraordinaire. I’d expected her to act more like she knew it.

But even though she’d been so awesome, I was still terrified to send her the pages she’d requested. I kept thinking there was no way someone like her would want to rep me (um…self confidence isn’t one of my strong-suits—just ask my CPs) and I wasn’t sure I could bear her rejection (given that I’d become such a Laura fangirl at the conference). So my friends had to kick my butt into gear on Twitter, with a #hitsend campaign that somehow got about forty people—including one of my favorite writers—pressuring me to send out my queries. Took about half an hour to convince me (and #hitsend came very close to trending) but I finally caved in and sent the emails.

Two weeks later I had an offer of rep from Laura in my inbox and even three months later I still have a hard time believing it.

GLM: That’s amazing! A couple of years ago who would’ve ever thought a sentence like, “And I owe it all to Twitter” would actually make sense! *recorded track plays of applause and cheers* Uh, DL, that wasn’t really needed right there, but thanks anyway.

Shannon, you write Middle Grade Fantasy. I know your current book is super hush-hush until it sells, so instead can you give us a description of the genre itself and some generic examples of what one might find in a Middle Grade Fantasy?

SWM: Well, it’s probably one of the most well known categories out there, thanks to a little series called Harry Potter—maybe you’ve heard of it? And there are a lot of different approaches to the genre, but my favorite are the books where you follow a kid who finds out about a secret world within our world, where magic and fairytales all come together. My project *hopefully* puts its own spin on that, but you’ll have to decide when you can finally read it.

GLM: I have to admit I’m really excited that my kids are at the perfect age for that genre. I can’t wait to buy your book and say, “Here’s a book you’ll love! It was written by Mommy’s friend.” :) My daughter already thinks she’s a celebrity because she made friends with a Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher who lives next to us.

As I mentioned in your introduction, you’re a fellow “triple-namer”. A lot of writers (including myself) struggled with their author names, or even whether or not to use a pen name. Did you consider using other names before settling on your full name? Was there a specific reason for going with a triple-decker?

SWM: LOL. Funny thing: I actually haven’t decided on my publishing name yet—which is why I’m a triple-decker. I’ve had a few people tell me that Shannon Messenger doesn’t have the right ‘ring’ to it (yeah, I know. I always try not to be insulted by that). I have no idea if a publisher will feel that way too, but if they do, I always figured I’d go with Shannon Whitney. So I use my middle name in my profile so everyone’s used to seeing it—just to cover my bases.

GLM: That was good thinking! When you sell your book (which, seriously, should be any day now) and you’re officially a published author, will you change the name of your blog since you’ll no longer be in the “wannabe” category?

SWM: Ha! I’ve wondered about that myself. When I started the blog I never thought I’d make it out of the ‘wannabe’ stage, so I didn’t really consider that I might run into problems someday. But honestly, I think I’ll always feel like a wannabe. Whenever I read other people’s writing it makes me want to throw rocks at my own (or delete my draft and flee to Mexico to start a new life as a maraca player.) So I think I’ll probably keep the name. It’ll remind me of my roots--that once upon a time I was just a rambling nobody telling the stories in my head and hoping that somebody would read them someday.

GLM: Wow, it’s no wonder you didn’t feel comfortable in Hollywood. You’re way too sweet and grounded for a dog-pit like that.

You and several other bloggers recently announced a breakthrough idea called WriteOnCon. For those who don’t yet know about it, tell us what that is exactly and how it’s going to work.

SWM: The seven of us are all about paying it forward—and we all had friends tell us they wished they could go to writer’s conferences, but simply couldn’t afford it. So we decided to create our own, a totally, 100% free writer’s conference, held online so everyone can attend.

GLM: *recorded track plays of applause and cheers* Thanks, DL! That was actually really appropriate. A totally free online conference – that’s such a phenomenal idea, Shannon! Do you think the founding group will branch out to hosting other genres as well? And if not, would you be terribly upset (like have you patented this idea and can I expect to hear from your attorney) if other genre-like-minded got together and did their own version? *strokes chin and looks off into space as the wheels begin to turn…then slaps self as a reminder that self is busy enough as it is!*

SWM: It sort of depends on the success of the first conference—though it’s looking like it’s going to be AWESOME. We have some amazing things happening, but we’re waiting to announce until it’s been finalized a bit more. *smiles mysteriously*

And sure, the more free online conferences, the better. Though I warn you, this project is not for the feint of heart. I knew it would be a lot of work, but WOW is it ever. We’ve all pretty much planned on not having lives until the conference is over—but that’s okay. Seeing everyone’s enthusiasm, and knowing that we’re creating something that will help so many writers is definitely worth the effort.

GLM: Let’s play a quick little game I like to call “Tomato-Tomahto”. Ready? Here we go.

I say: Dark Cherry Mocha from Starbucks (favorite drink)
You say: Pepsi. I can’t drink coffee, so it’s my primary source of caffeine.
I say: Chocolate Devotion from Cold Stone Creamery (favorite treat)
You say: Cupcakes. Any flavor. Any time. Preferably with extra frosting.
I say: Gena Showalter (favorite published author)
You say: Rick Riordan
I say: The Sweetest Thing (favorite movie)
You say: Pirates of the Caribbean (um, hello, Johnny Depp AND Orlando Bloom?)
I say: Shannon Whitney Messenger (favorite unpublished author)
You say: Gina Leigh Maxwell. Obviously! :)

GLM: Fantastic! I haven’t had that much fun since I laughed at all of the Pittsburghers trying to drive in the snow!

Well, folks, I’m getting the “wrap it up” signal from DL – oh, wait…no, sorry, he’s just got himself tangled up in a roll of packaging tape. At any rate, it’s time for all of you who aren’t already one of the hundreds of Shannon followers to head on over to her blog and click that button. I guarantee you, you won’t regret adding her to your blog roll (if only for the frequent viewings of Shannon Shame *stage-wink*).

Thank you so much, Shannon, for joining us here at Passions on Paper. It was an honor having you with us and I hope you’ll come back to visit when you’re finally allowed to tell us all about your super-awesome book!

SWM: Definitely! And thank you so much for having me. I hope I haven’t lulled all your followers to sleep with my rambling answers.

GLM: You’re right. We need to work on your self-esteem, girl. Get with the program - you so totally rock!

Until the next episode of Passions on Paper where I’ll be featuring another lucky fan (and most likely another production assistant), this is Gina Leigh Maxwell saying, “May all your passions be paranormal ones. Good night, everyone.”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wee-Bit Wednesday

Welcome to the 5th installment of

Wee-Bit Wednesday!

Today is the beginning tidbit from Chapter 13. This is a dream (hence the use of italics to differentiate it from the rest of the chapter) that Angelica is having, which she discovers a little later is actually more of a telepathic communication than a dream. Jenni is one of her leukemia patients at the hospital, and the one she feels most bonded with by far.

As always, honest feedback is appreciated!


Angelica walked through a summer field of lush green grass that brushed against the fabric at her knees. She looked down at her blue hospital scrubs and white doctor’s coat. That was strange, she thought. Why would she be dressed for work while taking a leisurely stroll through a field?

The tinkling laughter of a child danced faintly in the breeze past her ears. She turned in a slow circle, but tall blades of grass sprinkled with wildflowers swaying gently on their thin stalks were the only ones that greeted her.

Just then the sun’s rays seemed to intensify, distracting her easily from her search. She closed her eyes, lifted her face to the azure sky and drank in its warmth as it spilled onto her skin. The delicate scents of the utopian flora swept through her body, leaving her more relaxed with every breath she took. Angelica could not remember a time when she had been more at peace.

Again she heard the peels of delight like an echo in the sky. Then a tiny voice called from behind her.

“Hello, Dr. Hart!”

Angelica spun around to see her favorite patient skipping waist deep in the tall emerald blades, wearing a beautiful yellow sun dress. Her golden brown curls danced around her face, her form had filled out with a healthy dose of baby fat and her amber eyes twinkled with the cherubic mischief of a happy child.

“Jenni!” she gasped in disbelief. “What happened to you? What’s going on?”

Jenni giggled as she gave Angelica’s hips a fierce hug. “I knew you would come. He told me that you might not, but I knew you would. You always come when I need you. And now here you are!” she exclaimed in an innocent matter-of-fact manner.

Angelica knelt down in front of the little girl and lightly held her shoulders. “Where is here, Jenni? I don’t understand.”

She smiled a baby-toothed grin that pushed her chubby cheeks up higher onto her face. “This is where I come when I sleep. Isn’t it pretty? Look, Dr. Hart, I’m not sick here.”

“No, sweetie, you’re not. You’re absolutely beautiful,” she agreed with a beaming smile, lifting a hand to finger some of her curls. “Jenni, who told you that I might not come?”

“The nice man that’s been talking to me today. I think he’s like your friend. I like him a lot, but he doesn’t talk to me very much. Not like you, Dr. Hart. You come talk to me even when you don’t have to. And I like that very, very much.”

Water rippled over the child’s eyes and spilled onto her cheeks, framing the smile that refused to diminish in this place of tranquility for Jenni.

Angelica swiftly pulled her into a loving embrace. This child had touched her in more ways than she would ever know. She didn’t understand why Jenni was meant to suffer so much in her short little life and sometimes it infuriated Angelica’s Mortal half, even as her Angelic half accepted He had a reason for everything.

“I’ll always be here for you, Jenni. I swear it to you.”

Jenni pulled away slightly to look into Angelica’s eyes. With a small smile that threatened to falter she pleaded softly, “Then wake up, Dr. Hart. I need you. Wake up…”


And there you have it. That segues into Dominic gently waking her up with the same verbal encouragement. She wakes up slightly discombobulated and then feels at a loss on how to act in the “awkward morning after” situation, not to mention she’s appalled that he’s there before she can correct her morning breath and shove a comb through her hair. It’s a super cute scene between them. One I really enjoyed writing. :)

Just as a small update about my WIP, I'm currently revising Chapter 14 out of 30. That's almost the half way point!!! I had hoped to be done with my revisions by the end of July, but it looks like I might be on track to finish sooner than that. I hope, I hope, I hope! I'm SO eager to get this puppy in the hands of my Betas.

Anyhoo – I know I may be letting you all down with this next announcement, but I’ve become a victim of my own success, so to speak. My FAN-tastic Fridays have gotten pretty popular and somehow I’ve managed to entertain all of you while promoting some of the greatest people in my blogosphere. Unfortunately, in an attempt to keep them fresh and individually tailored for each of my guests, they take a significant amount of time to put together.

I know I promised you an interview with the amazing and fabu, Shannon Whitney Messenger, but I’m pushing it back a week. She’ll be here next Friday, June 18th – I swear! And then, moving forward, I’ll be doing my FAN-tastic Fridays every other week to ensure each of my guests gets my utmost attention.

I can’t tell you how much I love that you all stop by my little ol' blog. And reading your comments make my day more than you can imagine. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Have a great rest of the week!

Friday, June 4, 2010

FAN-tastic Friday: Elana Johnson, Super-Author

More quick-witted than a comedian on speed…busier than a bee in a field of poppies…smarter than the average bear in the literary forest it’s…it’s…


*Elana flies into the studio, cape flapping behind her, and lands gracefully despite her skin-tight super-suit*

GL: Wow! I can’t tell you how excited I am that you’ve taken time out of your busy novice-aiding schedule to be with us today at Passions on Paper. I am a HUGE fan. Love the suit, by the way.

EJ: Well, I look my best in capes.

GL: I can’t disagree with that. Considering where you are now, it’s hard to believe you never set out to be a writer. Instead, you discovered your authorial love and talent through chronicling your life’s story. How did you make the transition from personal memoir to fiction and what made you desire publication?

EJ: The transition was pretty easy. I was basically an emotional mess, and writing helped get those things out. And when I was done, the angst in my real life had translated into a teenage girl (and what creature is more angsty than that? Uh…no one).

As for the quest for publication, let’s just say that I’m like a pitbull. Once I get a grip on something, I don’t let go—ever. So publication came naturally after finishing a novel.

GL: Well, that vice-like super jaw of yours definitely paid off in the end. How long did you query before you signed with your Super-Agent, Michelle Andelman?

EJ: 8 (very long) months.

GL: I’m sure that period of time wasn’t the most fun for you, but the rest of us get to benefit from it. You have an ebook called From the Query to the Call available on your Query Ninja blog, which has garnered excellent reviews as an inexpensive and invaluable tool for writers – not to mention each purchase comes with a FREE QUERY CRITIQUE from the one and only Query Ninja…YOU! When did you decide to moonlight as a ninja and how did that book come about?

EJ: Well, if you have to moonlight as something, a ninja is the way to go. When I decided to query my first novel for the second time, I needed a new query. And that’s when my quest for “the perfect query” began. About six months later, I started writing for the QueryTracker blog, and I shared what I’d learned about query letters. And that snowballed into the whole ebook, which discusses how to write a query letter, how to research agents, how to submit to them (electronically and snail mail), how to handle The Call, all of it. The ebook is based on my own experience and the experience of authors who’ve been through it all.

GL: What is the most common mistake you see when new writers create their queries?

EJ: Including too much information and forgetting to state the consequence.

GL: Hmm…too much information? I haven’t started writing any queries yet, but I’m pretty sure I won’t have a hard time with that particular issue. As you can tell, I’m not long-winded in the least. (Crap crap crap!!!)

Simon & Schuster is publishing your debut novel Control Issues in the summer of 2011! What did you do when you heard the news?

EJ: Well, I was still on the phone with my agent when my husband came home (he knew she was calling that day) and I wrote on one of my beloved sticky notes “Simon Pulse offered!” and held it up to him. Chaos ensued, silently, until we went to dinner that night. Guess what I ordered with my pot roast? A side of bacon. Yum.

GL: Mmmm, bacon – the food with which you gain all of your Super Strength, I’m told. If I had to guess, I’d say bran muffins would probably be your equivalent to kryptonite. I know they’re mine! Now that I’m on the whole yummy food kick, can you give us a tasty blurb about Control Issues and your super delicious main character, Jag Barque?

EJ: Control Issues is set in a world where Thinkers control the population and Rules aren’t meant to be broken. But one fifteen-year-old girl decides to shatter them all.

And to get a taste of Jag you can read his character interview from my blog. It starts with me being flustered and ends with him using mind control to stop me from talking any more! 

GL: That interview totally rocked! (Mental Note: bribe Super Villain to extract Jag Barque from Elana’s mind and keep him as mine…ALL MINE! Muuuaahahahahaaa!...)

*notices the weird look Elana’s giving me, clears throat*

Control Issues sounds amazing (and so does Jag) and I can’t wait to (read about Jag) snag a copy next summer (so Jag can live in MY head)!

Along with your Super-Author blog and the Query Ninja blog, you also contribute to The League of Extraordinary Writers, What Writers Read, the Query Tracker Blog AND maintain Facebook, MySpace and Twitter accounts! All of that is ON TOP of writing, critiquing queries and keeping up appearances with your alter ego as a regular human with a regular life. (Did I leave anything out, like saving stranded kittens in trees?) How on EARTH do you do it?!? Give us the rundown of a typical day in the super life of Elana Johnson, Super-Author.

EJ: Ha! Well, here’s my 24-hour schedule. We’ll start with sleep, since I enjoy sleeping more than anything.

11 PM – 7:00 (okay, 7:30) AM: sleep
7:30 – 8:30: get ready for work, kids for school
8:30 – 9:00: travel to work
9:00 – 2:15: work. Sometimes this means actual typing instruction. This is where I read most of my blogs. I hardly do any blog reading at home, so if it doesn’t get done at work, it doesn’t get done.
3:00: home with kidlet. Reading hour.
4:00: Boy kidlet home from school. I write/read/make dinner/get on forums, facebook, twitter, etc.
5:00 – 9:00: Family time. TV. Some more writing-related activities, usually answering emails or writing blog posts or doing a quick query crit. That kind of stuff.
9:00: Kids in bed, husband asleep on the couch – me, writing. Or chatting. Or whatever.
11:00: Bed.

That’s a weekday. Saturday – Monday, I don’t work, and that’s when I write all my blog posts, keep up with housecleaning, and get my Super-Suit repaired.

And I only saved that kitten that one time…

GL: That’s an unbelievable schedule! Mine is just like that…with the exception of the organization and the times and the fact that yours apparently works. Otherwise, totally identical. *sheepish grin*

Last, but not least, if you could choose any pre-published Paranormal Romance author to be your sidekick-in-training – based purely on writing talent and blogging charisma (and whether or not you want to leave this interview with a new nemesis) – who would it be?

EJ: Well, duh, Gina. You have the coolest cape on the planet. And I’ve heard rumor of some sweet shock spit, so yeah. The choice is pretty easy – you!

GL: Woo Hoo! My grandma will be so happy to hear you like the cape she crocheted for me! And I do have some pretty wicked shock spit. It puts a damper on kissing my husband, but comes in really handy when smiting one’s enemies.

Thanks so much for being here today, Elana. Your drive and success are beacons of hope against the gloomy clouds of doubt for all of us here in Pre-Published Metropolis.

EJ: Well, Batman has a cape too, so it’s pretty cool to be a beacon—right? Right.

GL: That’s all the time we have for today, but I’d like to remind everyone of where our blogosphere Super-Author can be found:

• Her Super-Hideout where you can find “all things Elana”

• A forum where she mingles with her followers

• Her Ninja School of Queries where she helps karate chop your query into top ninja shape

• The location which she helps track the queries

• Her Super-Space

• The book her face is on

• The place from which she perches and tweets to the masses

• Where she posts her literary treasures

• The Super-Headquarters of the literary faction she belongs to, The League of Extraordinary Writers

If you haven’t already, head on over to her sites and click as many follow buttons as you can find! And if you’re new to Passions on Paper, make sure you click MY Follow button over in the sidebar! (don’t make me beg people, just click on the button already, okay?)

Tune in next week – same PoP time, same PoP channel – for another episode of FAN-tastic Friday when I interview the lovely, agented Shannon Whitney Messenger!

We’ll return to your regularly scheduled blog-hopping after your brief messages in the comments section...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's My Birthday & I'll Cry If I Want To

That's right, Blogosphere, you heard right...
against my better judgement, I'm informing you it's my birthday today.

Happy 33rd Birthday to me!

I don't normally advertise it, but I sprang up out of bed this morning (okay, more like my alarm would NOT shut up and I dragged my sorry butt out of bed from annoyance) and thought, "What the heck? I'll shout it to the world before anyone else has the opportunity. That way I'M in control! Muuaahahahahaaaa." Well, maybe that's not exactly what I thought, but we'll go with it for now.

So for my birthday demands wish I'd like to hear birthday stories from all of you!

What's your favorite or funniest or worst or craziest birthday story?

Friday, May 28, 2010

FAN-tastic Friday: Tiana Smith

GL: Hello, I’m Gina Leigh Maxwell and you’re listening to Passions on Paper on WPOP, the blogosphere’s hit station for paranormal romance and beyond.

The theme of today’s show is FAN-tastic Friday and we have a very special guest in the studio with us. She’s the first girl from Montana who’s managed to steer clear of ever getting on horseback, she loves the outdoors, hates bugs and knows how to build a mean fire (probably in hopes of repelling the bugs!). It’s aspiring author and renowned blogger, Tiana Smith! Welcome to the show, Tiana, it’s so great to have you with us.

TS: Thank you Gina. I’m so excited to be here today. I even wore my sparkly shirt. What? You can’t see it? Well, I’ll look fabulous anyway.

GL: Like most of us, you’re an aspiring author. When did you decide to write with intention of publication?

TS: After I graduated from college, I figured I should probably do something with my life. I’ve always wanted to write (well, not always, but since second grade), but it wasn’t until graduating that I thought I might have a chance at publication. After all, I had read a lot of … less than worthy … stuff from my peers, and I just needed the kick in the pants.

GL: I know you originally started out writing in the YA genre, but recently changed to writing Children’s Books. What prompted the switch?

TS: I really love children’s books and even read them for fun on my own time. No, I don’t have any kids, and yes, I know that’s a little weird. I promise I’m not a crazy person. I started out with YA because I wanted to fit in with all the cool kids, but had to be true to myself. Hey, that sounds like it would be a great theme for a book… ;)

GL: Ooh, can I be one of the cool kids in the book? I’ve always wanted to be one of those. Do you ever think you’ll go back to your YA book?

TS: Maybe I’ll name one of the dragons in my book after you. They’re pretty cool, I must say. Eventually I might go back to writing YA, but it would take a very large candy bar to entice me.

GL: Note to self: Stock up on king-size candy bars for bribing purposes with Tiana. Okay, so what fabulous book are you currently working on?

TS: I’m writing a chapter book called “Dragon Secrets”. I would tell you what it’s about, but then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore. ;)

GL: Well, I can certainly resp –

TS: Ok, ok, since you are SO PERSISTANT, I guess I can spill a few details. It’s a children’s book about a land of animals that all get along, except for the dragons of course. One very naïve horse vows to figure out what secret they are hiding, but she may have to give up more than she bargained for, like her frequent bathing schedule. Oh, and she ends up with a buzz cut in the end.

GL: Boy, if I had a dollar for every time a night on the town ended up like that… *ahem* I mean, that sounds like an awesome story. I have an 8 year old son who LOVES reading about dragons. Throw in a horse with a buzz cut and he’d be hooked for sure!

Alright, let’s have some fun. Give us three fun Tiana facts that we don’t already know.

TS: 1. I’m probably the least athletic person you’ve ever “met.” I was playing racquetball with my husband, and I swear I almost hit myself with the racket. It was like something straight out of Twilight.

2. When I take those “what political party are you?” tests, for some reason they keep telling me I’m tied between the green party and a communist. I’ll let you interpret that how you will.

3. I’m a geek. I mean, I like playing around with HTML in my free time and I work for (search engine optimization, that’s what gets your site to rank high in Google.) So, I’m constantly on a computer, and as a result, my skin is very pasty. I should probably get out more often.

GL: Wow…*laughs nervously*…an awkward computer geek of the communist party – your husband’s a lucky guy. Aaaaaand moving right along…

You recently decided to cut back on a lot of your social media outlets due to the major Time-Suck we all know them to be. What made you decide to keep your blog and what do you love most about blogging?

TS: I like my blog because it is my own little space. I can control it. (I may or may not be somewhat of a control freak. I’m just sayin’). With my blog, if I don’t want to post something, then I don’t have to. I don’t feel the kind of pressure that I do with Twitter or Facebook. Another reason why I kept my blog is because I feel like I can create genuine connections with awesome people (you are of course, on the awesome people list).

GL: Aww. Thank goodness no one can see me blushing. Crap, I just said that out loud. I completely agree with you. The connections I’ve made through blogging are amazing. And you’re at the top of my awesome list, too!

Alright, we’re just about out of time, but I really want to ask you: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard or read?

TS: “The way you write a novel is one word at a time.” I have no idea who said it, so, yeah … :)

GL: Well, at least the phrase stuck with you! And I really like that. Sometimes we can feel really overwhelmed when we look at the project as a whole, so it’s great advice. I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but of all the blog interviews you’ve participated in, which would you say was your favorite?

TS: Yours of course! (Would it burst your bubble if I told you that I’ve never done a blog interview before this? Nah, best not mention that…)

GL: (I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that last part.) Oh, I’m so glad! And I can safely say you are definitely in the TOP *looks back to see how many FAN-tastic Fridays this makes* FOUR guests I’ve ever interviewed!

Well, folks, I’m getting the “wrap it up” signal from my (pretend) producer. But before we head out of here I want to remind you to head on over to Tiana’s blog at www dot Tiana Smith dot com. As she mentioned before, she’s an HTML geek and it shows in her blog. She has a beautiful site and posts really great topics, so make sure you click on her “Follow” button!

Thank you so much, Tiana, for joining us here at Passions on Paper. It was a lot of fun getting to know you better.

TS: Thanks Gina, it was a pleasure.

GL: Don’t forget to tune in next week when I welcome published author and all-around Superwoman, Elana Johnson! This is Gina Leigh Maxwell saying, “May all your passions be paranormal ones."

Good night, everyone.

Friday, May 21, 2010

FAN-tastic Friday: Nicole Ducleroir

Aaaaaaaand welcome back to EV-erybody's FAV-orite game showwwww...

*audience chimes in*

Who's. That. FAN!!!!!

That's right, Ladies and Gentlemen, this IS everybody's favorite game show where I ask our lucky contestant questions about her life, her blog and her writing and she tries to answer them correctly honestly. Today we have the loveley creator of One Significant Moment at a Time. So, please help me give a warm Passions on Paper welcome to Nicole Ducleroir! *audience screams and claps as Nicole enters the stage and takes a seat*

GL: Hi Nicole! I’m so glad you’ve taken the time to join us at Passions on Paper. I’d like to start this interview game a little differently and open up with some ice-breaker questions.

Give us 3 things your followers already know about you (so that us Newbies can catch up) and 3 things your followers don’t already know about you...Ready?...Go!

ND: Hi Gina! Thanks so much for inviting me today. I’m thrilled to be here! Let’s see, three things I’ve already shared on my blog…Well, (1) I was a Peace Corps volunteer in central Africa, which is a frequent theme for my short fiction. (2) I grew up the oldest child of five girls (imagine the drama!), and all our names begin with “N.” And (3) another creative outlet I’m passionate about is quilt-making. Three things followers don’t know about me are: (1) I always pass out when my blood is drawn; (2) I can see people’s auras; and (3) I once trained for and competed in a fitness competition, tying with my sister for third place. The ironic part was we decided ahead of time not to tell anyone, including the other competitors and judges, that we were related. A utopian day for sibling rivalry!

GL: Oh, wow – FIVE girls? I can only imagine the fights over the bathroom in the mornings! I followed the link from your blog and read a couple of your short stories. I thought they were excellent! You have a wonderful talent for describing people’s actions and making them come to life. Have you always been a writer or is this something you discovered recently?

ND: I’ve been writing my whole life. My journals document each chapter of my existence. In middle school I won essay contests. In high school I was the student penning dark poetry that got passed around every day. And, I chose a college major that required endless term papers. But I didn’t become a writer until November 2007. That was when I began writing for an audience, when I first delved into the craft with the intention of producing publishable work. For me, that’s the true distinction between the hobbyist I was and an author I am today.

GL: Imagine you’re in a room full of non-writers… *pauses for the collective “eesh” from the audience* - I know, they can be tough – what would you say to them when they told you they “just didn’t get why you would expend so much energy on writing.”

ND: I’d answer their question with a quilting anecdote: the first time I challenged myself to make an entire quilt, I chose a monster project: queen-size quilt top comprised of 224 five-inch-square blocks. Each block required that I sew together twenty-one (or a total of 4,704) tiny triangular or square patches. That first night, my baffled husband watched me lay out yard after yard of fabric and slice it up with a rotary cutter. Hubby only interrupted me once to ask, “So, you mean you’re going to cut all this fabric up into itty-bitty pieces, and then you’re going to sew them back together again? Why would you devote so much time, patience, and energy when you could simply go to the store and buy a quilt already made?” I shrugged and said, “Because I like the process.” Writing a novel is the same. You break the project down into stages, and each stage becomes a fascinating study of that aspect of the craft. The finished project is the goal, but the journey is what’s most important to me. Incidentally, it took me two years to finish that first quilt. Hopefully, my first novel won’t take as long!

GL: Two years for one quilt? Holy Schmoley! I now dub thee Goddess of Perseverance. What are you currently working on? Can you give us a brief synopsis to tantalize our brain-buds?

ND: *laughs* I learned the art of perseverance through years of fighting my sisters for bathroom time! The premise for my WiP came to me a couple years ago. That day, I answered a telemarketer’s phone call. When I declined his pitch, he called me a “bitch” and hung up on me. I was furious! I considered phoning the company and complaining. But before I did, my writer’s brain started churning: What if I complained and that led to the guy getting fired? What if the guy was severely depressed, or maniacal? What if losing his job was that guy’s “final straw,” the turning point in his sanity? What if I became that guy’s poster child for a society that’s cruel, his scapegoat for everything that has ever gone wrong in his life? What if there was a way he could find me? What if he came looking…? By then, all my angry energy was rechanneled, and thoughts of placing a complaint were forgotten as I feverishly jotted character and plot notes. Overcome (working title) was born.

GL: That is one of the greatest thought processes I’ve ever heard of (probably because it sounds just like a lot of mine)! I love how you went from wanting to react to thoughts of the affects that one reaction could have had on that man. I think it’s a good idea that we keep in mind everything we do causes a ripple in the water. I think your book sounds brilliant and I can’t wait to read it.

Okay, next question. Finish this sentence: I want to be a published author because…

ND: …I love the idea of something I wrote surviving long after I pass from this life, so that my great-great grandchildren and beyond can read it. Of course, technically I don’t have to be published for that to happen…so I’d have to say bragging rights a sense of accomplishment is important too!

GL: What lesson do you hope your children learn from their mother being a writer?

ND: In life, it’s easy to say you’re going to do something. Actually achieving that goal takes hard work and dedication. Writers understand the challenge in staying self-motivated. I want to show by my example how success comes to those who are passionate and who stay focused and driven. My children will benefit from learning that lesson, regardless of the fields they pursue.

GL: Beautifully said, Nicole. You’ve given me another reason why I can’t give up either. Your blog is called One Significant Moment at a Time and has tons of great posts relevant to writing and your life. What’s your favorite thing about blogging?

ND: I was so clueless when I began my blog! Honestly, I watched Julie and Julia and thought it would be cool to document my transition from short story writer to novelist. I had no idea my blog represented a door to an incredible community waiting beyond it. My favorite thing about blogging is connecting with so many talented voices, sharing our creativity ups and downs, and offering the same support that I feel daily from my blogging BFFs.

GL: Ditto to that, girl! Okay, I think we have time for one last question, Nicole. In your opinion, who will be one of the next big names in Paranormal Romance?

ND: Phew! All these questions have been tough to answer, requiring thoughtful reflection on my part. Finally, a query quite simple to answer: My money’s on Gina Leigh Maxwell being the next breakthrough Paranormal Romance author!

GL: From your lips to agents’ ears, Nicole! You’re so kind (and truthful) to say so. Well, I can’t thank you enough for your time. You’ve been an absolute joy to have and I look forward to reading Overcome in the future.

If you enjoyed this interview and would like to be featured someday yourself, don’t forget to click on the FOLLOW button over there on the right.

Or even if you’re just happy it’s FRIDAY, you should click on the FOLLOW button over there on the right. *gigantic cheesy grin*

Well, that's all the time we have for today folks. If you're not already following Nicole, now is the time to head on over to One Significant Moment at a Time and click that Follow button! Thanks for joining us and I hope you'll tune in next week on Terrible Twos-day when I pit WORD COUNT vs. WORDS THAT COUNT.
Have a great weekend everyone!
*cue seventies game show theme music*

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wee-Bit Wednesday: Silly Commercial

This week for Wee-Bit Wednesday I’m going to share a little something different with you. It’s not from my WIP, but rather a funny little ditty I came up with that was inspired by a post from my blogging buddy, Michelle Stephens. Last week she wrote a post called Rejection Means You’re a Real Writer. In her post Michelle talks about how she’d received a form rejection letter and instead of letting it get her down, she cracked open a Diet Cherry Pepsi (to which she adequately adds pictures to the post for proof), reveled in its refreshing zero calorie cherry fizz, and proceeded to sit back down to continue writing. Because as Michelle says, “Really, there’s just no other option but to keep writing.”

Michelle’s post avec pics got my crazy mind going. I’d like to hear a Diet Cherry Pepsi commercial just like the old hysterical Bud Light radio commercials. You know, the one where the cheesy 80s guy sings, “Real American He-e-e-roooo-o.” We could dedicate it to the “pre-published writer who received a first rejection letter”! So, the following is my rip-off tribute to those Budweiser Commercials, a trademark lawsuit waiting to happen campaign suggestion for Diet Cherry Pepsi, and a toast to my fellow writers. *ahem*

(Oh, please read the following in a very deep and over-dramatized male voice and the italicized bracketed words should be sung in a hybrid voice of Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.)

Diet Cherry Pepsi presents…Real Writers of Genius…

[Real Writers of Ge-e-eniuuu-us]

Today we salute you, Amateur Writer Who Received Their First Rejection Letter.

[Mis-ter Amateur-Writer-Who-Received-His-First-Rejec-tion Leh-eh-tter!]

Ignoring your day job, your night job and even your family, you hide behind your laptop with squinty eyes and furrowed brow, typing furiously until the pads of your fingers become permanently flat.

[Creepy hands of an al-i-en]

At long last it’s ready. The work of genius that came from your brain and out of your deformed fingers is finally ready to be sent out into the world where it will be revered as one of the greatest works of its time. Or of its genre. Or of its sub-genre. Or maybe just of your city.

[Gotta be better than some-thing]

Then one day you open your mail to find your S.A.S.E. and inside is a form letter with a coffee stain in one corner and a stamped signature in the other, because they couldn’t even be bothered with signing their own name. The rejection is cold and impersonal, yet you rejoice.

[This is SU-per duper awe-some!]

Why? Because this form rejection letter doesn’t just say that someone out there thought your material wasn’t fit to grace the mutilated end product of a once-proud tree…it also says, “You, sir, have arrived.”

[I’m coming in for a lan-ding]

Yes, you are now considered a REAL writer. You grabbed your fear by the proverbial cojones and put your baby out there, knowing she might be sliced into ribbons. And when she was, you smiled in self-absorbed satisfaction, sat down, and began writing some more.

[Not ever gonna sto-op]

So crack open an ice cold Diet Cherry Pepsi, Real Writer. You may have been rejected by the world, but you’ll always be number one, in your head.

[Mis-ter Amateur-Writer-Who-Received-His-First-Rejec-tion Leh-eh-eh-eh-tterrrrrr!]

Thank you. *bows stage left* Thank you. *bows stage right* Thank you. *bows center stage*

Friday, May 14, 2010

FAN-tastic Friday: DL Hammons

That's right, Ladies and Gentlemen. It's time for another episode of FAN-tastic Friday where yours truly asks a member of my followers all the hard-hitting questions you want to know (and even some you don't).

Today's guest is witty, charming and more fun than watching your life-long nemesis get off a rollercoaster and puke all over the guy she's crushing on. Please help all of us here (just me) at Passions on Paper welcome DL Hammons of Cruising Altitude! *loud cheers and obnoxious whistling from crowd*

GL: Thanks so much for being here, DL. First I'd like to congratulate you on reaching 300 followers on your blog!  That's amazing.  I'm expecting to reach that particular milestone in a few days myself.  *looks over at sidebar, decides to ignore the damn elephant in the room & presses on*  For those who aren’t yet followers of Cruising Altitude (for which I’m positive they will be rectifying soon after this interview) can you tell us why you chose that unique title for your blog?

DL: You really think it’s unique? Cool! Anyway, about two years ago I was writing my first novel (which currently is collecting dust on a shelf) and my MC for that story just so happened to be a semi-popular blogger (yes…its fiction!). The blog plays a significant part of the story and thus needed a snappy title. The MC in the book was at a point in his life where he had risen above the turbulence of raising a family and survived climbing the corporate ladder, settling into his twilight years. Cruising Altitude became a perfect metaphor for where the MC was with his life, so it became the name of the blog in the book. At the time, I was using a combination of Facebook and Myspace to blog with, so a couple months after I finished the book I decided to create a proper blog. I debated many, many, many different titles utilizing author/writing themes, but in the end, I decided to transition Cruising Altitude from fiction, to fact. I’m really happy I did to!

GL: I think it’s perfect! And I hope you dust off that old novel someday, too.

DL: I plan to!

GL: Great! You’re a mystery writer. Is that primarily what you read when not penning your novel like the mad man you are?

DL: Primarily, yes, but not exclusively. Mysteries have always been my first love. It began with the Encyclopedia Brown series, moved quickly to The Hardy Boys, then onto more mature offerings such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, Ross MacDonald, PD James, Rex Stout and Agatha Christie. However, my reading taste covers the entire literary spectrum as I’ve found that good writing transcends genre.

GL: Well said, my friend. What is the thing that fascinates you most about writing? Alternately, what’s the most frustrating?

DL: Hmmmmm…good question. I would have to say the opportunity to manipulate a reader’s emotion. That is what a good book does to me. I want to make my readers smile, laugh, cry, hold their breath, spike their blood-pressure, and ultimately lament the turning of that final page. To do that I’ve realized that as a writer I must make two things happen. First, they have to care for (or hate) the characters as much as I do. That means creating realistic, multi-dimensional players who come alive on the page. Second, crafting a compelling story around those characters that challenges the reader’s intellect.

The most frustrating? Definitely the technical aspect of writing. Dangling participles, split infinitives, comma splices, these are my stumbling blocks. Every time I write I curse my inattention in school all those years ago!

GL: *Starts to panic* What in the heck is a “split infinitive”?!? And there are participles that dangle? Do we want them to dangle? Crap! *note to self - write personals ad: Fun, female writer seeking editor for new best friend & confidante…*

Sorry, I just needed a moment there. Where was I? Oh - Without giving away any of your high-concept ideas, can you tell us a little about your Work-In-Progress?

DL: Glad to. *scanning room for any agent-types* I’ve always been drawn to stories with ordinary people thrust into extra-ordinary circumstances, so at its core that’s what my book is about. My MC is a middle-age HR manager whose leads a comfortable life in the southeast, but he’s also part of a tight-knit group of old college buddies who jokingly call themselves ‘The Knights Who Say Ni’. When one of the Knights (who works for a private detective agency) is savagely beaten and left in a coma, the group rallies together to help find the assailant. Joining forces with the female owner of the detective agency, the rag-tag group follow clues from an old case to the doorstep of the nation’s capitol and find themselves smack in the middle of a plot to carry out the deadliest bio-terrorism attack in US history. It’s a story about testing the limits of friendship and undying loyalty. I call it, FALLEN KNIGHT.

GL: Shut UP! The Knights Who Say Ni? Monty Python and the Holy Grail is only one of my favorite movies ever!! “You must cut down the tallest Redwood in the forest wiiiiiiith…a herring!” *LOL* Okay, I have to stop there – I could quote that movie for hours.

Seriously though, your book sounds great. I’m a pretty hard core Romance reader, but that plot sounds awesome! I also love the title you’ve chosen. It’s perfect.

DL: I’m kind of partial to it myself.

GL: You have a knack for putting writing advice into fresh and vivid analogies – like Black Ice and Riding a Scooter – that really help put things into perspective for other writers. Are you lying awake at night trying to think of these, or are you just that clever?

DL: LOL. The only thing that keeps me up at night is figuring out how to close that plot hole I left in the eighth chapter. :) For a good part of my professional life I’ve been an instructor/trainer, and it’s taught me how to figure out better ways to communicate difficult concepts. Part of being a responsible blogger is finding a way to give back to this wonderful community and fortunately I’ve been able to do that with a couple of these analogies. I’m no expert…at least not until I land an agent and get published…then every word turns to gold…right?! I have a backpack full of writing books just like everybody else, but sometimes a unique perspective from an obscure source can resonate with just as much clarity. If you have an idea or a different take on things, put it out there for other bloggers to see. If only just one finds it useful, then it has served a purpose.

GL: Lastly, despite being a Mystery Dude, if you could act as a Beta Reader for one Para-Rom author, who would it be?

DL: Hmmmmmm….tough choice. I’ve heard good things about Christine Feehan and J.R. Ward. Ewwww…what about Keri Arthur! Then there’s always Sherrilyn Kenyon. Decisions…decisions??

[*Big puppy dog eyes filling up with tears, chin quivering*]

Okay…okay…enough teasing. Of course I’d love to read the next best author (which would be you) before she becomes an icon. :)

GL: Really? I'm so flattered! That's a huge compliment that I totally wasn't expecting. *bats eyelashes innocently*
Well, I'm afraid that's all the time we have for today. Thanks so much, DL, for Cruising by Passions on Paper. (I'm so clever...I used the word "cruising" because of your blog title. How am I not published yet? Oh, right. I haven't submitted anything yet.)
Tune in next week when I'll be sharing a funny jingle I wrote for us wacky writers that's modeled after those goofy old Bud Light radio commercials, Real Men of Genius and Real American Hero! (If you don't know what I'm talking about, make sure you check them out on You Tube beforehand, so you get the full effect.)
Also, next week's guest on FAN-tastic Friday will be Nicole Ducleroir of One Significant Moment at a Time. Until then, I hope your weekend is filled with rainbows and pony rides!

Friday, May 7, 2010

FAN-tastic Friday: J. Leigh Bailey

Hello, and welcome to FAN-tastic Friday!! This is going to a weekly post on Thursdays Fridays where I interview one of the wonderful Passions On Paper followers! This is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded writers and bloggers without the gargantuan amounts of time it would take to click through every follower to see if they’d be a good match for you to follow. It’s kind of like speed dating. Only without the speed part because you only get one person per week. Or the dating part. I’m not Chuck Woolery people.

So please help me welcome today’s victim guinea pig awesome guest, J. Leigh Bailey! Thanks so much for joining us, J. Leigh. It’s great to start this post-tradition with one of my Three Musketeers. Okay, let’s get down to business.

GL: When did you decide to write with intention of publication and what keeps you motivated?

JL:  I’ve sort of always had the “itch” but it was kind of vague. It was a “maybe someday if I get some time or win the lottery” kind of thinking. I’m a very practical person from a very practical family, and writing just seemed, well, impractical.

It was really a little over a year ago that I’d had enough of the wishy-washy thoughts of a writing career. I finally gave myself permission to just do it. And that permission was key for me. Luckily about that time I had this niggling idea about shape-shifting dragons that just kept getting bigger and bigger, better and better, so I jumped in.

I’m actually motivated (and not a little intimidated) by the number of other aspiring authors that I’ve met on-line and by a critique partner that constantly requests new chapters. The blogging community really is amazing. The sharing of ideas, thoughts, expertise and experiences has been huge in maintaining the motivation and the desire to keep on learning and keep on producing.

GL:  I totally agree! So, what do you like to read when you’re not writing furiously or visiting my blog obsessively? (What? Don’t give me that look – everyone visits my blog obsessively…*sighs* Okay, fine, maybe not. But they will someday.)

JL:  I’m a voracious reader. I seriously average a book a day. I got an Amazon Kindle a few weeks ago and I’ve already downloaded over 45 books (and I’ve already read 43 of them!). My debit card hates me, but man, I’m loving it. I read romance in all its many forms—contemporary, historical, suspense, you name it, I’ll read it. Right now I’m on a Paranormal kick, and have been for about three years, so anything having to do with fangs, fur, faeries (and of course, romance) is great for me. There are also a whole bunch of authors who are on my auto-buy list that I pick up the minute their books hit the shelves. The top five favorites are Nora Roberts (a.k.a. J.D. Robb), Jayne Ann Krentz (a.k.a. Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle), Elizabeth Lowell, Christine Feehan and Sherrilyn Kenyon (a.k.a. Kinley MacGregor). It’s also not unheard of for me to pick up a selection of fantasy, mystery, and urban fantasy/horror. Lately I’ve been consuming a vast array of Young Adult Romance and Young Adult Paranormal Romance since that’s what I’m aspiring to write.

GL:  Whoa! Next time I visit the Windy City I’d love to steal your collection. No, I said see your collection. I’d like to see it. (Steal it.) What? No, you’re hearing things. Back to the questions. *clears throat* Being as though you have such an eclectic taste in books, what drew you to writing Paranormal YA?

JL:  I’m too afraid to write a sex scene.

Okay, that’s not totally true. The honest answer is I’m not entirely sure why I write YA. It’s strange—everything I’ve ever tried to write, going back to the half-finished novel I wrote in study hall my senior year of high school has been geared towards YA and included paranormal elements (magic, aliens, fantastical creatures). Beyond a random thought here and there it’s never really occurred to me to write anything else. Which I’ll admit is a little odd—I didn’t read much YA when I was at the target age (I started reading adult romances when I was 11 and never looked back). I’ve read more YA in the last two years than I did between the ages of 12 and 22.

GL:  Can you tell us a little about your Work-In-Progress? What’s it about?

JL:  The easy answer is that it’s about teenagers who turn into dragons who fall in love. The more detailed answer is (this is my brief back-cover-esque synopsis):

Lacey Bradley wanted nothing more than to be a normal teenager. Unfortunately, a mysterious illness has always kept her a step apart from her peers. When she and her parents move to a small town in Northern Minnesota, she's prepared for the close scrutiny she receives. What she's not prepared for is her almost miraculous recovery and increasing strength and stamina. Nor is she prepared for the Drakes--a family surrounded by a mystery of their own. And they seem to know more about Lacey than she does herself.

Scarred by a childhood trauma, Duncan Drake does his best to stay calm and reserved. He knows from experience the tragic consequences of a loss of control for someone of his nature. There's something about the new girl, however, that shakes his resolve. Like he and his family, Lacey is Drakon--a human who, due to the right combination of genetics and magic, can shape shift into a dragon. The only thing is, no female Drakon have been born in over 200 years, and the fact that Lacey exists at all could lead to a war that would destroy both the human and Drakon worlds.

There are essentially two themes that I’m trying to convey: the first is about accepting and embracing all sides of oneself—one will never be truly powerful or successful until they accept who (and what) they truly are, and the second is about cooperation and teamwork—anything can be accomplished, any monster can be defeated, if people work together to get it done. And, I guess there’s the third that all romances have, which is something along the lines of “love conquers all.”

GL:  Wow, J. Leigh, that sounds FAN-tastic! Get it? It’s a play on words because today’s post is called…uh, never mind. Your blog, Stories of the Drakon, has a ton of awesome information for writers on your blog. What’s the best piece of advice or lesson-learned that you can share with us?

JL:  For me, the absolute best piece of advice (the most helpful for me in particular) I’ve gotten was at a recent Romance Writers of America conference, and was given by author Cherry Adair. It’s called WTFITPOTS, which translates to “What the F*** Is the Point of This Scene.” Every scene or chapter should have a purpose or goal, whether it’s to introduce a main character’s back-story, drop a clue about a bigger mystery, move the plot forward, or make the character relatable and likable, etc. Unfortunately, I tend to be a very wordy writer (bet you couldn’t tell!) and I want to include EVERYTHING in a chapter or scene. And it often takes me a long time to get to the point. Now, before I write any scene, I sort of make a list of bullet points on what exactly I want to come out of this scene—I don’t outline; I’m not nearly that organized—then, when I’ve finished the scene, I can make sure that all of my bullets are included and anything extra I’ll look at and decide whether it’s necessary or just extra fluff that I added. It’s actually helped a lot. (Sorry for swearing....)

GL:  Oh, you YA writers. There’s nothing wrong with a good string of colorful swear words (or steamy hot sex scenes with an alpha warrior). Besides, it’s not considered swearing if you replace letters with asterisks, but your apology was cute. I digress. Okay, last, but not certainly not least, I think everyone here would like to know who your favorite pre-published Paranormal Romance author is.

JL:  Me! [points finger at J. Leigh and then drags it across throat] No, I meant to say Gina Leigh Maxwell, of course! (It’s the middle name, I always get us confused.) ;)

GL:  Oh my gosh, I'm so touched! You're a total sweetie. And our middle name is pretty awesome. Thanks so much, J. Leigh, I hope you had as much fun with this as I did.

You can learn more about J. Leigh’s book and her progress on her blog, along with tons of posts with helpful information she learns via books, college courses (she shares her assignments and the teacher’s feedback, which is like taking the class yourself only without the stress or bill!), and writers’ conferences. She’s a veritable font of information with very to-the-point posts that don’t tend to suck a lot of your time. (Don’t you just hate long-winded bloggers who don’t know when to shut up? Wait. Fark.)

So do yourself a favor – follow this link, click on the Follow button, and add her to your blog roll. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back! Well, you know what I mean.

Have a great weekend everyone! Until next week…you stay classy blogosphere!

(Aaaaand, we’re clear! Good job everyone.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wee-Bit Wednesday

Happy Wee-Bit Wednesday, everyone!

Today’s excerpt is significantly shorter than last week’s. It also requires a bit of a scene set up to explain a few things.

Angelica is on a date at a charity event with her ex-boyfriend, Rick, who is trying his best to win her back. Inebriated and unsure, Angelica calls on Corryn, her British Guardian Angel, for advice. Normally a very “together” doctor, this scene is completely out-of-character for Angelica which made it a lot of fun to write.

During dinner they talked about what they’d been doing since they last spoke, although Angelica conveniently left out anything to do with her Destiny. The conversation flowed (as did the champagne) and they laughed with each other over crazy patient stories. After their plates had been cleared, and another bottle of champagne had been emptied, Angelica excused herself to the ladies’ room.

She managed to navigate her way through the tables without incident, despite feeling extremely lightheaded from the alcohol. Once she was through the door and standing in front of the wall to wall mirrors behind the long counter of sinks she quickly called for backup. “Corryn!” she whispered loudly. Her Guardian shimmered in at the sink next to her just as a lady in a too-tight fuchsia dress was exiting a stall behind her. Fuchsia automatically moved around the Angel and used the sink on the other side.

“Oh thank goodness you’re here,” Angelica said with great relief.

Fuchsia turned to look at her with a puzzled look. “I’m sorry, do I know you?”

“No, sorry, I wasn’t talking to you,” she answered Fuchsia. Then to Corryn, “Okay, I need your advice.”

Corryn asked, “What about?”

Fuchsia repeated, “You need my advice?”

Angelica looked at Fuchsia in the mirror and said a little flustered, “No, I’m not talking to you.” Fuchsia gave her a look of irritation as she finished drying her hands and proceeded to take out an entire makeup line from her huge Louis Vuitton.

Corryn suggested, “Maybe you should use your cell phone to talk to me.”


Fuchsia stopped mid-lipstick application to give a terse, “I didn’t say anything.”

“Take out your cell phone,” Corryn explained slowly, “and pretend like you’re talking to me on the phone before they call the local psych ward.”

When Corryn’s idea finally sunk in Angelica retrieved her cell from her clutch, pretended to dial and wait for an answer, then said, “This will be so much easier in a few days when I can talk to you inside my head.”

Corryn hopped up onto the counter and rolled her eyes at Fuchsia’s hurried attempts at putting everything back in her bag with sidelong glances at the crazy blonde girl. “Fantastic. I suppose I’ll have to do some creative explaining when I ask your father to bust you out of the loony bin. Or I could just tell him his daughter drank more than a glass of alcohol for the first time in her life and acted like a crazy person in the loo.”

“I know,” Angelica whined. She sagged against the tiled wall and leaned her head back. “I don’t know how that happened. I was just so nervous and I felt completely out of my comfort zone so I figured I’d have a glass to help myself relax. But every time I looked at my glass it was full and I wasn’t paying attention to him refilling it all the time.” She took a deep breath and let her hand holding the phone fall away from her ear when Fuchsia finally fled the bathroom.

“Well, I certainly noticed his on-point bartending skills. I’m not sure if he’s aware how much of a lightweight you are. Either that, or he’s very aware and he has a hidden agenda.”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. What do you think? Do you think he’s really telling the truth? That he’s done with gambling and…that he loves me?” she asked with naïve uncertainty.

Corryn looked at her charge and sighed, “I don’t know, love. He seems sincere enough, but unfortunately I’m built for fighting and protecting, not lie detecting. What does your heart tell you?”

Angelica dropped her gaze to the floor. “I don’t know that I can trust my heart right now.”

Her Guardian slid off the counter to stand in front of her. “Then maybe you should just take things as they come. Eventually you’ll learn to trust it again.” Corryn used her fingers under Angelica’s chin to lock their twin pairs of sea green eyes. “It’s a good heart, Angelica. Believe me; I know it as well as I know my own.”

“Thanks, Corryn.” A goofy smile spread across Angelica’s face provoking Corryn to hitch a wary eyebrow in her direction.

“What?” Corryn asked while she pulled back a little like she needed a better angle.

“I just love you so darn much. Is it normal that I can’t feel my lips?”

“Bloody wonderful. You’re completely sloshed. Come on, you’d better get back out to your date before he comes in here looking for you.”

“I’m not sloshed,” she argued as Corryn ushered her towards the door. “I’m just a little buzzed. And I really do love you.”

“Hush now. We can discuss your affections for me later. Go and finish your date.”

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Pushy-Pants.”