A few months ago one of my fellow writing friends, Marlene Casticato, was giving our writing group a pep talk. And she told us this story.
My brother, Jeff Horowitz, loves skydiving. I once asked him about the fear factor when it came time to jump. He said, "IT ISN'T ABOUT JUMPING, ITS JUST LETTING GO."
I loved this statement and haven't forgotten it. I have found myself repeating it over and over in my head, coaching myself since she said it.
JUST LETTING GO. It sounds so easy, but for many of us the letting go is the hardest part. Letting go of our babies hands when they take the first step. Letting them go to school for the very first time. Letting go of the keys when they want to borrow the car. Letting go when they have their first date or they fall in love for the very first time. What about letting a loved one go off to war? Or letting a child go off to college? Letting go of a loved one that has recently died?
Letting go isn't as easy as it may seem. For me it's one of the hardest things I have to do.
If you are wondering what I might be having such a hard time letting go? Well, right now it's my manuscript, Morgan Ranch. That is where I have found myself in the last few weeks. Trying to let go! Just do it! Let it go! But it has been harder than I thought. Which makes me wonder why letting go is so hard? What am I afraid of? I know what my fears would be if I was jumping out of a plane. In case any of you are wondering... that is one thing I will never do for pleasure! :) But why am I so afraid to move on to the next story? Next town? Next set of characters?
By letting go of the past you are opening up new doors into your future. We all know what the past holds and none of us know what the future holds. Is it fear that hold me back from my own dreams? I have to say, yes. But why? I still don't have the answer to that. Sometimes we have to just make that jump, even if we are not quite ready to let go.
So here I go. I am making that jump! And hopefully somewhere along the way, I will find the courage to LET GO! Tomorrow marks the day of a new beginning for me. I will be embarking on a new setting, with new faces, new challenges, new characters, new stories to unfold. I will keep you posted on how things are going.
I encourage everyone reading this to make that jump too. Whether it be taking the jump to start writing a new book, start that diet that you've been wanting to start, or just doing something that you've always wanted to do, but just didn't have the courage to LET GO. Take the jump with me friends, you are not alone. Together we will learn to LET GO.
I would love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you have trouble LETTING GO.
See you next time at Micole Writes Romance.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
A few months ago one of my fellow writing friends, Marlene Casticato, was giving our writing group a pep talk. And she told us this story.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Hello friends. It's been awhile since my words have graced the pages of my blog. I apologize for the delay, but I have found myself in, well... a writer's haze. I have spent the last couple of weeks separating myself from everything. Trying to detach myself from my last set of characters, Jake Morgan and Cody Johnson. I have been living with them running around in my head for years and to tell you the truth it's a lot like having a family member move out of your house. There is an adjustment period that goes along with that, and I would like to think that is what is going on with me. I'm adjusting.
My time over the last couple of weeks has not been wasted. No. I have spent hours interviewing guest authors as well as everyday hero's doing research for my next couple of books. I have been reading as much as time will allow. Which is still not as much as I would like it to be. My TO BE READ pile is only a few books smaller than it was before. Well... not really since I've found at least three dozen more books that I want to read and have purchased them all!!! What can I say? I have a problem!
But all of this is in preparation for March 1st. That is the day I will have a new beginning. A new beginning to what you might be asking? Well.... this is the day that I have devoted to starting a challenge. It's called Nano Write. Normally Nano Write is in November. The idea is that you write a 50,000 word book in that month. I started Nano write last November, but having just come back from Washington, and trying to get my manuscript ready to send off to Harlequin, I just didn't have it in me to finish the month out. So March is going to be my Nano month! I am taking a couple of friends with me on this adventure. We have all decided to get that novel done! For some it will just be getting their novel finished. For me... it will be A NEW BEGINNING. New characters. New setting. New story. It's exciting and scary all at the same time.
So over the next few weeks when I blog you can expect to hear about the joys and challenges that my Nano month will bring me. As always I love hearing from you, so please make sure to give me some love and leave me a comment!
Monday, February 22, 2010
Another week has passed, finding us with a new Spotlight Author. This week I am Spotlighting my friend, Stacey Kayne. She is a masterful writer who tells stories about the old west. She has a flare for history and putting two characters together that will twist your heart into a knot. So please take a few minutes to sit back, relax and listen to what Stacey has to say.
Stacey, tell us about what you write.
I write historical westerns—love those rugged heroes and feisty heroines pitted against the untamed and perilous terrain of the American West. My Wild Trilogy and Bride Series are published by Harlequin. I’ll have a new western series starting up in the next year. I got a flash of good news this week when MOUNTAIN WILD, the final book in my Wild Trilogy, received the CataRomance Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Harlequin Historical of ‘09.
Congratulations Stacey!!! That's awesome news! What has inspired you to write about the Old West?
My college courses in American History and my tendency to daydream. I have a very visual brain, so while steeped in images of the American West my brain began to spin stories. Having a computer at my disposal for the first time, I tried to capture those images on paper. The result: Bride of Shadow Canyon. Until then I’d never written more than an essay or a term paper. I had no idea I’d ever have an inkling to write novels in the romance genre or any other. But once I started weaving stories, I was hooked. Within a year I’d started several manuscripts, signed with an agent and changed my career goal from teaching to publishing western romance.
You have a way of creating memorable characters that I and many readers out there love. Have you ever become so connected with one of them that you have a hard time letting their story go when you type The End?
Thank you. It’s always hard to say goodbye, although writing series as I do, nearly all my characters are around for several books. This past year tied up both my Wild and Bride series, and I think it left me a bit shell-shocked. I’d spent years with those characters. I’ve been working on the new series over the last year and it took me quite some time to detach from the old cast and settle into the new.
When I write I have to listen to music. Does music or anything else influence your writing? If so what do you like to listen to while you’re writing?
I don’t listen to music while I’m writing, but music can certainly help with my mindset before I open a file. Lyrics also inspire strong visuals that can relate to something going on with my characters, or maybe just a feeling that will tap into one of my characters. Again, it all goes back to daydreaming—visuals from songs can make my mind take off in a new direction for my characters. Most recently Slipknots’ song Psychosocial inspired one of my upcoming heroines—the powerful and aggressive lyrics spurred a landslide of visuals and I started sketching the character.
How long was your road to publishing?
I finished my first manuscript in January 2002, BRIDE OF SHADOW CANYON. I sold my first book in July 2006, MUSTANG WILD. I’ve since sold eight westerns—six published, two in the works.
Do you have any tricks of the trade or something special that you use to help you write?
I like to make storyboards for the manuscript I’m writing—a poster board collage I keep next to my desk—mostly scenery and key words I clip from magazines. It’s a great tool for glancing up and getting a quick visual of my character’s surroundings.
Any favorite books on craft?
Not really—but I’ve always been one of those who learn through trial and error, and tend to leave the directions in the box *g*. My short attention span doesn’t last long in tech books. When I first realized I was trying to write a romance novel I called up my mom and asked her bring me some of those books she read—Uh, yeah, I wasn’t a reader—and she brought me this huge box. I read about 300 romance novels in a month. I sorted them into piles I liked and didn’t like and then wrote out the reasons why. I knew the story I wanted to tell, the characters very much alive in my mind, but reading those books helped me define the style of writing I wanted to use to bring them to the page, mostly the balance of prose vs. dialogue, action vs. circumstance, and the rhythm to the writing that most engaged me as reader. I then bought the book YOUR NOVEL PROPOSAL: FROM CREATION TO CONTRACT to get the 411 on formatting and how to structure a synopsis and query letter. My first query letter got me an agent, so it might be a good book to have As for fine-tuning the actual writing—I entered my work in writing contests—lots and lots of contests. Contests worked for me is because, first, I’m very stubborn, and second, I didn’t know anyone in the writing world, therefore had nothing to base my trust on someone as a critiquer. With contests, if I didn’t agree with the feedback, I tossed it in the trash, no fuss no muss. I expected heavy criticism and I got it! (side note: that doesn’t change even after you sell!) I tended to ignore random gripes from judges that struck me as personal preference issues and focused on writing mechanic errors or anything mentioned by more than one judge. If three judges had a problem with a certain scene or area, I’d look more closely at it and gauge if I needed to do some tinkering. Or sometimes a judge would make a suggestion that would make me slap my forehead and say, “Dang, why didn’t I see it that way!?” I loved those moments. I knew my story, knew where I wanted my characters to go and all that—I just needed to make sure I was keeping that clear for the reader, and contests really helped. Now I have three critique partners whose perspectives I trust and love dearly.
What about any advice for aspiring authors?
• Write like a maniac. Personally, I believe it takes completing more than one manuscript to find your voice. When it comes down to it, we’re not selling “a book”, we’re selling our personal spin on storytelling. By the time I sold my first book I had finished ten manuscripts, but it wasn’t until my third, MUSTANG WILD, that I hit on the ebb and flow of words/characterization that defined my voice for me. I then went back and reworked those first two ms’s. There might be those who get it first try, but I think for most, it takes some time to SEE it.
• Don’t rush it. While it’s important to submit to editors, it’s more important to take time to fine-tune and put your best work out there.
• Write what you love—because once you sell, they want MORE.
• Put your work out there to get reader feedback, whether it’s critique groups, critique partners or contests.
• Believe in yourself. Know that rejections are just another necessary piece of the game; building blocks, steppingstones to the next round. A character in a book I read recently, UNDENIABLE MAGNATISM by Bonnie Dee, had a saying that I just loved: “Rejection is simply acceptance that hasn’t ripened yet.”
• Love what you write, keep the faith, keep submitting.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully with a hefty back list of books, and likely lost in transition since my boys will be in their first years of college (say it ain’t so!!).
All time favorite movie-
Hangover. Funniest movie I’ve seen in forever!
If you were on a deserted island what is one thing you couldn’t live without and why?
My laptop, it contains my universe!
Early riser or Night owl-
Rainy or Sunny days-
Rainy days are great writing days.
What is loaded in your i-Pod right now?
All my faves, mostly rock and metal with sprinkles of country: Slipknot, Metallica, Blackstone Cherry, Skillet, Papa Roach, Lincoln Park, Chilli Peppers, Static X, Rob Zombie, Gary Allen, Tim McGraw—recently uploaded a new favorite group, Cage The Elephant—love their sound. I added them to my Myspace player for anyone wanting to check them out.
Thank you, Stacey for giving me the opportunity to interview you.
My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me over!
You can find Stacey’s books at www.StaceyKayne.com
Thanks again to all of my faithful Micole Writes Romance blog readers. I appreciate everyone of my supporters out there. Please don't forget to drop by the comments section and say hi. Tell me what you think about this interview. Leave a question for me or Stacey. Until next time friends.
Monday, February 15, 2010
This weeks Spotlight Author interview is with Gerri Russell. After writing romance for seventeen years and completing five books, she caught her first break in 2007, with her book, THE WARRIOR TRAINER. Since then she has continued her success and is proud to introduce her fourth book SEDUCING THE KNIGHT.
Last October when I attended The Emerald City Romance Writers Conference, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting this beautiful and very intelligent woman. She was a great source of help and information while I was preparing to pitch to the editor of Harlequin. I am convinced that it was with her help that I was asked to submit my first three chapters to Harlequin. Thank you, Gerri for everything that you have done. With that said let’s get down to business.
Micole* Gerri tell us a little bit about your up coming title, SEDUCING THE KNIGHT.
Gerri* SEDUCING THE KNIGHT is book two in The Brotherhood of the Scottish Templars series. Each of the books in the series focuses on a group of ten knights that existed in Scottish history. These men were ten of the best warriors in the land, hand-selected to be King Robert the Bruce to fight at his side. These knights were entrusted with a task for the king. When he died they were to cut his heart out of his chest and take it on crusade with them to Jerusalem and bury it in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
But things did not go as planned. These knights made it as far as Teba, Spain when they were attacked and crushed by the Moors. Their mission failed. Five of the ten knights died, along with hundreds of foot soldiers.
Each of the three books in the series focuses on one of those knights who survived, and how they put their lives back together after such a painful experience.
SEDUCING THE KNIGHT takes us on a journey to Jerusalem where the hero must honor a promise he made to his king to find the Ark of the Covenant and bring it safely back to Scotland. Along the way, he is joined by a princess determined to see her own prophesy through. Together they face storms, treachery, and an army of assassins. Yet these two soon realize that they thrive on adventure as much as they thrill to the pleasure they find in each other’s arms.
Micole* What influenced you to write about Scottish Knights?
Gerri* I love all things Scottish. While I was trying to find my place in the writing world, I kept coming back to Great Britain. I love castles, men in armor, and the strength it took for people to survive and thrive during the Medieval age. While researching, I happened upon a story about a female warrior who trained the male warrior’s of Scotland to fight . . . and that was it. That one gem lead to the development of my first book that sold, THE WARRIOR TRAINER, and that’s what started my career.
Micole* If you had to pick one character from your books, who would be your favorite and why?
Gerri* Your characters are like your children…you love them all, and for very different reasons. But if I had to pick one character that stands out above the others it would be Scotia, the heroine from my first book. I love her strength and her vulnerability, and I am so grateful to her that she helped launch my writing career.
Micole* What do Gerri Russell fans have to look forward to in 2010?
Gerri* I’m really excited about my releases this year. First SEDUCING THE KNIGHT will hit bookstore shelves May of 2010. Then in October 2010 THE BETROTHAL, a Christmas Anthology, that I’m doing with one of my favorite authors, Mary Balogh, and a bright new star in romance, Trish Albright.
My story in the anthology involves one of the knights featured in TO TEMPT A KNIGHT, Lucius Carr, who is forced to leave the Templars and return home to assume the family’s earldom, little expecting he would also be inheriting the BORDER LORD’S BRIDE.
I’m really had a lot of fun writing both these project, and I hope readers enjoy them as well.
Micole* How long was your road to publication?
Gerri* My road to publication was long. I wrote six full manuscripts and several partials over the course of the thirteen years it took me to sell. And then to sell, I had to go through the American Title contest. The contest was a bit like Survivor and American Idol all rolled up together. It was a grueling experience, but I’m so grateful to Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times Magazine for that opportunity to grow. The contest helped me become the writer I am today.
Micole* What’s one thing that you know now that you wished you knew when you started your journey as a writer? Advice for aspiring authors?
Gerri* My advice for aspiring writers is simple: persevere and appreciate your talent. It’s one moment of time, a breath and a heartbeat, between when you are unpublished and published. As writers we have to remember that what we do is very special. We’re so often surrounded by other writers that we forget how special our talents are. We create characters, places and stories from our imaginations. Even if we never get published, what we do is magical and special, and we should never forget that. Remember there’s a whole big world out there of people who've always wanted to write a book and never did.
Micole* You give writing workshops on maintaining a positive attitude. Please share your best tips.
Gerri* The best tips I can offer are these:
2. Surround yourself with the positive: friends, other writers, motivational speakers, uplifting songs, movies, books, phrases, quotes. Be a magnet for positive things.
3. Be open to opportunities that present themselves. Every person you meet and every event in your life has the potential to be that next open door you need.
Micole* Is there anything special to your writing process? Pictures? Music? Any tricks of the trade?
Gerri* Downtime is something I’ll have in the future. I hope. Right now life is pretty full. I’m a full-time mom, full-time writer, and I have a full-time job. My time seems to revolve around what’s most important…now. I write everyday. I try to have a clean house, most days. I tame the laundry into submission occasionally. I manage to squeeze in some exercise while trying to work out the next plot point. When all that’s done as well as writing pages, then the day is a success. But I really can’t complain. I wouldn’t trade where I am right now in my writing career for anything in the world.
MB* Puppies or kittens-
GR* I have four cats. Enough said.
MB*Love letters or roses-
GR* Definitely roses. Love them!
MB* Milk or dark chocolate-
GR* I don’t actually like chocolate! However, I have a terrible weakness for red Swedish fish.
MB* Night Own or Early Bird-
GR* I’m an early bird. My best writing is done first thing in the morning just fresh from sleep.
MB* What’s downloaded in your i-Pod right at this very moment-
GR* 1. Every Item We Touch, by Cascada
2. Here Comes the Sun, by The Beetles
3. Such Great Heights, by The Postal Service
4. Viva La Vida, by Coldplay5. Rooftops (a Liberation
Gerri, thank you for stopping by and letting me interview you. It’s been a pleasure having you here at Micole Writes Romance.
Micole, thanks for having me. Best of luck to you in your writing!
Thank you Gerri, I need all of the luck I can get! (wink) Readers don’t forget to look for Gerri’s books at www.GerriRussell.net . Thank you for stopping by, Micole Writes Romance, we would love to hear from you so please leave a comment to let us know you were here. Until next time, big cyber hugs!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Hello friends, thank you for stopping by Micole Writes Romance for another amazing interview. This weeks Spotlight Author is, Debra Salonen, the Queen of, Harlequin Superromance!!! All hale to the queen (wink).
MICOLE* Tell us a little about your new release, UNTIL HE MET RACHEL that will be coming out in mid-May.
DEBRA* I call UNTIL HE MET RACHEL my “Beauty and the Beast” book. I’ve always loved that fairy tale and I love focusing on the redemptive qualities of love. When we’re introduced to my hero, Rufus Miller, in the first “Spotlight on Sentinel Pass” book, BABY BY CONTRACT, we’re left with the impression that he’s a hulking, hirsute, questionably intelligent hermit. There’s even talk that he might be Big Foot’s less attractive second-cousin. What kind of person purposely evokes that kind of image? The kind who is hiding out from a lot of pain. And he’s content to remain frozen in time...until he meets Rachel, who has the power to make him want to hope again.
MICOLE* I see from your site that you have numerous titles out. How many books have you published over the years?
DEBRA* I sold my first book in 1999 and it came out in May, 2000.
Since then, I’ve had 25 books released, including one online story for eHarlequin, a single-title for the short-lived Harlequin Signature line and three Harlequin Americans. The rest have all been Superromance titles, including my current “Spotlight on Sentinel Pass” series.
MICOLE* What do we have to look forward to from Debra Salonen in 2010?
DEBRA* In May, UNTIL HE MET RACHEL will be on shelves, and later in the year--probably November or December--my seventh “Spotlight on Sentinel Pass” book will come out. Its working title is: A MAN LIKE WILLIAM. But that could change. It’s going through the titling process as we speak. The final two titles in this connected series will be released in 2011. They will come out in consecutive months because the heroines are twins, and my editor and I thought it would be a good way to end the series.
MICOLE* Can’t wait for November or December Deb!
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
DEBRA* I’ve always thought of myself as a writer, even as a child. One of my first stories involved crayons on the underside of my mother’s coffee table. She was not amused as I recall, but she did say I’d probably grow up to be a writer some day.
Before I ever dared to “call” myself a writer, though, I scribbled in a secret diary, wrote a journal before journaling was considered cool and kept copious notes for future projects in a spiral notebook that I still have somewhere. I also wrote long, pithy letters to my family. They called me the Erma Bombeck of the family.
In high school, a teacher told me that while I had good language skills, I wouldn’t be able to make money with that talent unless I went into journalism. I avoided that job for as long as possible, but eventually I did become a feature writer at a newspaper. I left that job to write full-time...fiction.
MICOLE* Journals are a very important part of most writer’s lives. I too went through many journals as I was growing up.
So you started writing when you were…a um-toddler I guess. (grin) Once you were older, what steps did you take to make your dreams come true?
DEBRA* Like every aspiring writer, I started by writing a book that will never see the light of day. It was filled with clichés because that’s what felt comfortable to me at the time. Once that was out of the way, I got serious about learning my craft and the marketplace. I bought a dozen or so current releases and read every one of them to see if my style would in any way jibe with what the imprint was offering at that moment in time. (I knew that the market was not necessarily a fair sample of what editors were buying currently, but this did show what the company felt comfortable putting out.) When I found a line that seemed close to my voice and the type of contemporary, human-interest story I was interested in writing, I read, read, read until I could “hear” the cadence of the line. THEN, I wrote a book that felt to me as though it would fit the line.
MICOLE* About how long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
DEBRA* This is probably the most frequently asked question I get. (The second most common is: where do you get your ideas?) I allot myself three-to-four months to write a book, but not all of that time is writing. I do research. I have revisions, edits; print out corrections, art pages, and PR to do for earlier books during this time, too. I’ve written faster and I’ve written slower. Sometimes, it depends on the story.
MICOLE* Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
DEBRA* Write what you love to read.
MICOLE* What advice do you have for any aspiring author (like…um… me) who’s just received their first rejection letter?
DEBRA* Learn this, ingest this, believe this: “No” means this story doesn’t work for us at this time. That’s all it means.
No editor worth his or her salt would ever tell you that you can’t write, you suck, you’re barking up the wrong tree. That’s Simon Cowell’s job. :-)
MICOLE* How long have you been with Harlequin? And have you received any special awards along the way?
DEBRA* I got the call from my first editor, the lovely and amazing (now retired) Zilla Soriano, in late June, 1999. I’ve been pretty steadily under contract since then.
Awards: Many of my books have been nominated for Best Superromance of the Year, but none have won. The books all tell me they’re okay with that because...you know...it’s an honor just to be nominated.
Personally, I was thrilled to be named Series Storyteller of the Year by Romantic Times Magazine in 2006. It’s actually much nicer to win.
MICOLE* That is awesome Debra!!! Congratulations!!!!
Have you ever become so connected with one of your characters that you’ve had a hard time letting their story go? Who was it and explain why.
DEBRA* Heck, yes. Happens all the time. I’ve had an ongoing love affair with Cooper Lindstrom, hero of BABY BY CONTRACT, throughout this entire series. He’s such a sweet, vulnerable guy who created a leading-man persona simply to stay alive in the shark tank of Hollywood. He’s not the brightest bulb in the pack, but he has a huge heart, and every time he shows up in a new book in the series, I smile and pause to give him a mental hug.
And Rachel, the heroine of UNTIL HE MET RACHEL, left a very big impression on me--and my editor--when she showed up briefly in her brother’s book (DADDY BY SURPRISE). I knew I wanted to know more about her, and I wasn’t disappointed.
MICOLE* Where do you see yourself in five years?
DEBRA* I can’t even see five days in advance and I’ve misplaced my Magic 8-Ball. But I’m sure I’ll still be writing books.
Do you ever read your own books after they’ve been published?
DEBRA* It’s hit and miss, depending on where I am in the writing/editing process. And it’s difficult to turn off the editor in my brain long enough to appreciate them. No book is ever perfect, but if the characters and story holds my interest, I consider that a job well done.
MICOLE* What is your favorite thing about being an author?
DEBRA* Escaping into a world that I have genuine control over. I recently took care of my sister after she was diagnosed with cancer, and I learned very quickly that nothing about that process was determined by me.
In DebraSalonenTheAuthorland, happy endings are a given, even if there are a few rocky, “that’s life” moments along the way. I need that.
MICOLE* I know where you’re coming from Debra, I took care of my mother for years before she passed. It’s much better when you can create your own Happily Ever After!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are and what you do when your not busy writing, “Happily Ever After” stories.
DEBRA* I’m married to my high-school sweetheart. Our two children have children of their own now. Luckily, they live near by and I’m able to see my three, adorable granddaughters all the time. When I’m actively working on a project, I try to write every day to maintain continuity. In between those times, I try to focus on the business of writing, which includes blogging, participating in guest blogs and belonging to online communities. I also walk every day, read, do one “difficult” Sudoko puzzle a day, and watch “Bones” and “House”, weekly.
Now for the fun stuff… here’s a few questions, five to be exact that is just for the heck of it! Enjoy!
MB* What’s loaded in your i-Pod right now?
DS* Alexander Rybek: “I Believe In a Fairy Tale”
MB* Cats or dogs?
DS* dog, singular, her name is Sydney
MB* Vanilla or Chocolate?
DS* ice cream? vanilla with hot fudge and nuts; candy: dark chocolate
MB*The beach or The mountains?
DS* beach (I live in the mountains)
MB* Pepsi or Coke?
DS* NEITHER - I hold both responsible for childhood obesity
Thank you Debra for letting me pick your brain. I really enjoyed having you here at Micole Writes Romance. This has been a great interview. If you would like to learn more information about Debra or her amazing books you can find her on the web at www.debrasalonen.com. Thanks to all of you have stopped by my blog. Feel free to leave a comment or question for either Debra or I. We would be happy to chat with you.