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.”