Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Meet the Authors

For the next two months I am going to introduce some of my fellow Wild Rose Press authors who write suspense and whose books have just come out or will be coming out in the near future. I'll also be featuring the opportunity to win a free copy of their books or one of mine for those who leave a comment.

Today we are talking to  Dylan Newton, who is from upstate New York. She's always loved reading and writing but got sidetracked by the real world, like so many aspiring authors. She is married to her high school sweetheart, raising a family and writing romance and paranormal romance. Her latest book is titled, ANY WITCH WAY, and is available in print this week from The Wild Rose Press.

Welcome, Dylan, and please tell us a little bit about your book and how you came up with the idea?

ANY WITCH WAY  is a paranormal romance that features a graduate student with a devastating curse who encounters a Wiccan with a secret of his own. Together they battle an ancient evil, struggling to save their lives and their new-found love, ANY WITCH WAY they can.

The idea for the novel was actually a writing challenge issued by my critique partners: we were to write a story based on Halloween. In researching the holiday, I discovered October 31 is the Wiccan New Year ‘Samhain.’ That led me to researching Wicca, and the rest is in my book!

You seem to specialize in books dealing with the supernatural.  Where did you get that interest?
I was always sort of a morbid kid. My family used to call me “Little Miss Blood and Guts” because I had a fascination with all things creepy. After my school day was over, I hung out at our local library—mostly because I hated the school bus and had to find a place to wait to be picked up. Our library was this old, building that had a basement for the outdated books called ‘the stacks’—it was a spine-tingling, creepy labyrinth full of books that held every paranormal topic my little blood-and-guts heart desired.

How did you get started in your writing career?
I did it the old-fashioned way—by cold query letter. My first novel, DESPITE THE GHOSTS, was my NaNoWriMo project. I finished it, edited, and then sent query letters to my top agents and publishers. My query worked (click here to see a copy of my query letter), and I got several partial manuscript requests, finally accepting a contract with The Wild Rose Press in 2008.

What advice would you give a would-be writer wanting to get published?

1.    Finish your novel.
2.    Edit it to within an inch of its life (or yours)
3.    Query, Pitch and submit—try all avenues and be persistent! Many times it’s not magic, it’s mathematics!

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Ooh, there’s so many! I adore Stephen King (of course) but I also love Elizabeth Berg, Gillian Flynn, Gena Showalter…my list could fill pages. I love authors that paint vivid pictures in my mind—things that stay with me well after the last page is turned.

What comes first for you -- the character, the plot or the setting?

That’s a process of elimination. I don’t plot (although I’d like to!), and setting is usually driven by the character’s story. So, character, character, character for me!

Please tell us what you are working on next.

My third novel, “Despite the Fangs” is due out in 2014. This paranormal romance features a foul-mouthed werewolf heroine with overactive follicles, a lab-created, sexy hero who’d do anything for his son, and a world that—for the time being—doesn’t know they exist.

That sounds like a fun read. Thanks for being with us today, Dylan! We wish you the best of luck with your books. They sound fascinating and I know I am ordering a copy of "Any Witch Way" and I'll be watching for the others in the future.
Thanks again for having me here today, Becky! I’m thrilled that my second book, “Any Witch Way” is finally out in print! While I love the convenience of e-books, as a reader (and author) there’s something about physical books that is so gratifying! In fact, one lucky commenter will receive a SIGNED COPY of “Any Witch Way” (US only) as a thank you for visiting! J Comment below and good luck!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Your Characters are People

by Becky Martinez

One of my worst writing habits (and I have many) is working on a number of projects at the same time. I’ve  always been so excited to start a new story and then before long I find myself with a new story idea and I want to go to work on it immediately. Since I seldom plot much in advance of the writing process, it’s not hard to do. If I come up with a character and a scene I start to write it.
Last week my sister asked if that confuses me. She wanted to know how I kept my characters from all sounding alike.
The next day, while attending the Colorado Romance Writers Tea for Readers, I mentioned that comment to the writers and readers at my table. And the answer just seemed to come to me. I see all my characters so distinctly I can’t imagine them all sounding alike. I could gather them all in a room, in a group just like we were in and I could see them all as distinctive people.

So how do you turn them into people rather than characters on the page?
Interview them. I’ve often suggested this to writers. Spend a few hours asking your characters who they are and what they remember of their past. Every character has a past, a family (or if not, a reason for not having one) Ask them about their memorable moments and their biggest successes and failures. Ask them what they want out of life beyond just their goals in your story.

Take them some place and see how they react. For instance, I could see Bonita, the young mother, from my book Home Fires Burning being very at home at an event such as the elegant tea I attended on Saturday. I could see her chatting at the table, talking about her home and her son, Teddy, with pride. On the other hand, I could see my character, Connie, from my book, Deadly Messages, constantly finding a reason to get up and move around the room. She would want to meet everyone at the table immediately and then move on to meet others as well. She likes to stay on the move. My character, Stacey, from Shadows from the Past, would be less comfortable. She would be friendly, but constantly worried she was going to spill her tea and if you told her to look to her left, she might easily look to the right. She might even be late because she got lost.

Spend a day with them. Each character would want to do something different. My character, Amber, from Love on Deck, would definitely want to go to a baseball game, while my newest character, Kimberly from my next book, Blues at 11, would insist on a spa, while Bonita might want to go for a horseback ride around her Colorado ranch.
Listen to them.  The speech patterns for your characters will be different too. My character Connie is going to talk faster than the rest while I know Stacey is just going to bubble over with enthusiasm whenever she talks, even if she says things that she wishes she hadn’t. In my next book, Dead Man's Rules, I have two cousins, Cere and Freeda, but I still worked hard to separate they way they talk so that readers can pick out each one in conversation. Cere is more serious, while Freeda is fun and flighty. I got halfway through writing that book before I knew I just had to write Freeda's story, which is almost finished.

Do all these female characters sound like they might be my friends?  I’ve often said that I always enjoy my characters. The women might be someone I could enjoy (and sometimes want to strangle)
And these are just the women. I do the same with the men too. The men are guys I might alternately love and hate. But I’d like to take everyone of them home.  I can’t expect my character friends to fall in love with them if I can’t.

All these characters are why I find it easier to write different stories at one time. As I told those at the tea, if I want to spend a day shopping and have light-hearted fun, I would chose to go shopping with Kimberly. If I want a steady pal I can tell my troubles to, I would tell them to Lisa, who helped out Connie in Deadly Messages and whose story I am now also writing. Whatever story I feel like writing, it’s just a matter of getting in touch with my character friends
If you get to know who your characters are, they will become more distinct in your head and that should make them more alive for your readers.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Re-Energizing your Writing

By Becky Martinez

Writing can be such a solitary occupation that sometimes we can forget everything else around us. Actually we may ignore our own surroundings, as we plunge ourselves into new worlds that are exciting, frightening and unique. But sometimes we have to come back to earth and when we do, it pays to visit with other authors and get a look at their worlds.

In the past month I have gone through a number of different writing experiences that involved other authors and I have to say it has been a fabulous time. All these events have made me realize how invigorating it is to just listen to other writers talk about how they create their works and to have a chance to share some of my own ideas.
So if you need some inspiration and feel your writing is growing stale, how about trying some of these things:

1.      Attend a book signing. I don’t do many and wish I had time to attend more when people I know are signing, but I usually try to get to the signings for writers I don’t get a chance to see very often. In late August I went to Diane Mott Davidson’s book signing to hear her discuss her latest mystery featuring Goldy the amateur sleuth/caterer. I always enjoy her signings because she brings a tasty treat from her latest  book, but also to hear her discuss her research. This time she talked about how she came up with people who got killed in her books. I have to admit she was the first writer I heard say that she usually kills off someone who has angered her in some way. Since then I’ve killed off an old boyfriend and a couple of ex-bosses in my books.

The second book signing I attended was just for the sheer joy of meeting one of my favorite authors for the first time -- Sue Grafton. I've enjoyed her works for nearly 30 years and she was one of the reasons I decided to try my hand at writing mysteries.

2.      Try a writing convention. I always enjoy writing conventions so it was no surprise that the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold turned out to be as helpful and fun as usual.  The session were top notch and spending time with other writers always gives me new ideas on stories I am working on and what I might want to write next.

3.      How about a retreat? After Colorado Gold I spent four days at the RMFW Writer’s Retreat. If you’ve never been to one, I highly encourage it. The great thing about a writing retreat is that you have to work.  With a room full of writers around you, typing on their laptops, you can’t time out to play a game or tease the cat. My first discovery was that I was too used to working in a noisy area. (too many years in noisy newsrooms) I’ve always been able to write in busy restaurants or coffee shops.  The silence in that room, except for the tapping on keyboards was deafening. I finally plugged in my earphones to listen to music.  The only problem was that most of the music on my computer is sad or very romantic. I ended up writing so many sad scenes I almost had myself crying right there in the room.

4.      Don’t ignore meetings of your writing groups.  I belong to too many groups to make all the meetings, but whenever I get to a nearby session, it is always helpful. This past weekend I attended the all-day Heart of Denver Romance Writers session on selling your books on Amazon.  The information was great, but hearing from other writers about their own publishing journeys was just as good. They’ve been down in the trenches getting their work out there for the public.

5.      Finally, try linking up with a writing buddy. One of my critique partners and I have made a pledge to meet every week to go through what we are working on and to discuss trends in the business. It’s a way to keep up on what is happening and to talk about anything that might be developing into a problem with our current books.

The bottom line here is not to get so involved with your computer that you forget to engage with others. We all spend enough time alone. And often our loved ones just don't understand when we talk about fighting with our characters or problems with a scene. Sometimes it is good just to get out and hang out with other writers to find out what their problems are and to celebrate their successes.

Okay, now it’s time to get back to work…


Characters Lead the Way

We're in the heart of the summer and it is time to relax and enjoy a few good books by the beach or in some secluded mountain cabin. To...