Friendship-is-Forever


Thanks for hosting me today, Misha. It’s good to be on this virtual trip to South Africa.

On one of my prior visits, I took note of Misha’s side bar where she talks about drifting. The book I’m touring touches on just that subject.

Kyra, one of my characters, is stuck in a relationship with a user, has discovered that she’s settled for far less than she’s worth and also has financial issues because she shops too much.

In the novel, she moves in another direction, thanks to guidance and support from her friends. In life, we face the same challenges. We move through each day, living them as they come, but don’t always make a decision to change course. Sometimes, we’re fortunate enough to have good friends—like the women in Distraction—and sometimes we have to go it alone, making the best decisions we can.

I’d be delighted if you’d take a trip with my characters in A Baker’sDozen: Thirteen Steps to Distraction. You’ll meet Dionne, Justine and Kyra a year before Distraction takes place. This prequel is complimentary for the duration of the Friendship-is-Forever Tour, so download your copy from Smashwords.

As a bonus, at the end of this Friendship tour, there’ll be a main prize of a Distraction note pad & pen and a $10 Amazon gift card. The second prize is a paperback copy of Distraction. Stop by my blog sometime to enter the giveaway on the Rafflecopter.

Thanks again for having me, Misha, and thanks to those of you who’ve stopped in to read and share your thoughts.

Distraction on Amazon

J.L. Campbell is a proud Jamaican and the author of Contraband, Distraction, Dissolution, Don’t Get Mad…Get Even, Giving up the Dream and Hardware (pen name Jayda McTyson). Campbell is always on the lookout for story making material, loves company and can usually be found lollygagging on her blog. Link with her on Facebook or through her Twitter handle @JL_Campbell.

Blood Fugue by E.J. Wesley

Blood Fugue, Moonsongs Book 1 by E.J. Wesley Cover Reveal Party
 
Author E.J. Wesley is throwing a blog party to celebrate the release of his new book cover and wants you to join in the fun. Jump over to his blog to learn about how you can win some awesome prizes, including $50 toward a cover of your own and advance reader copies of Blood Fugue.

Cover work by Sketcher Girl, LLC – http://sketchergirlstudios.com/
What’s the Story About? 

Some folks treated the past like an old friend. The memories warmed them with fondness for what was, and hope for what was to come. Not me. When I thought of long ago, my insides curdled, and I was left feeling sour and wasted.”

Jenny Schmidt is a young woman with old heartaches. A small town Texas girl with big city attitude, she just doesn’t fit in. Not that she has ever tried. She wears loneliness like a comfy sweatshirt. By the age of twenty-one, she was the last living member of her immediate family. Or so she thought…

“We found my ‘grandfather’ sitting at his dining room table. An entire scorched pot of coffee dangled from his shaky hand. His skin was the ashen gray shade of thunderclouds, not the rich mocha from the photo I’d seen. There were dark blue circles under each swollen red eye. A halo of white hair skirted his bald head, a crown of tangles and mats. Corpses had more life in them.”

Suddenly, instead of burying her history with the dead, Jenny is forced to confront the past. Armed only with an ancient family journal, her rifle, and an Apache tomahawk, she must save her grandfather’s life and embrace her dangerous heritage. Or be devoured by it.
BLOOD FUGUE by E.J. Wesley, is the first of the MOONSONGS books, a series of paranormal-action novelettes. At fewer than 13k words, BLOOD FUGUE is the perfect snack for adventurous readers who aren’t afraid of stories with bite. Available wherever fine eBooks are sold September 2012. 
Join the Party!
The Open Vein, E.J.’s blog – http://the-open-vein-ejwesley.blogspot.com/
E.J. Wesley on the Twitter – https://twitter.com/EJWesley

Almost there

Well… I finally got around to editing this weekend, so Parts 9 and 10 of Doorways are out with CPs.

The amazing thing is that 10 is the last part of the book. So I will soon have about six finished editing rounds behind me, three of which would have been with CPs.

Then there will be two more CPs who need to read 10 and then edits are done. Exciting, hey?

I know I’m pretty stoked to be done, although I’m pretty sad too.

This is more than five years’ worth of work that I’m about to take to the next level.

So while I’m looking forward to moving on, the story itself feels like an old friend, even though there will hopefully be three sequels.

But that’s a worry for another day. Now the race is on to see if I’ll finish before the deadline.

How’s your editing/writing/querying going?

Gender Challenge: Writing as the Opposite Sex

My Detective Lancer crime series, starting with Oracle, is written from the point-of-view of a male protagonist. This required me to get into the mind of someone of the opposite gender. Whilst I’d like to think my tomboyish tendencies helped in writing from a man’s perspective, there are many factors to consider when writing someone of the opposite sex.

Man v Woman

Gender equality aside, male and female brains are not hardwired the same: they women think differently, react differently, make different observations. To realistically write a character of the opposite sex, a writer has to take these differences into consideration.

1. Observational Skills

Men and women notice different details when observing the same object. A man may see a blue Mazda MX5. A woman might see the same automobile as a sports car in a metallic shade of robin’s egg blue. You can have a bit of fun with this: if a male character can tell puce from lilac, could he be gay?

Similarly, a man or woman notices different features when ogling an attractive member of the opposite sex. Men tend to zoom in on a woman’s body: her curves, legs, cleavage, etc., and while women will stare at a perfect pair of exposed pecs (I know I do!), they also tend to also notice more facial features: eyes, hair, nose, smile.

2. Problem Solving

Men and women can solve the same problem equally well, but their process could be very different. For women, how a problem is solved is often as important as solving the problem itself. Talking through the problem also helps women formulate a solution.

Men often see a problem as an opportunity to demonstrate their competence, and tend to dominate or assume authority of a problem-solving process. They seek the best, most effective solution, keeping their feelings separate from the task.

3. Reaction to Stress

Women are intuitive thinkers, simultaneously considering multiple sources of information and their interconnectedness. With this broader perspective, women tend to get overwhelmed by the enormity of a problem, and they tend to voice their worries by confiding in someone else.

By contrast, men focus on just a few tasks at a time, tackling a large problem in bite-sized, sequential chunks. This focused approach may result in failure to appreciate subtleties, or to see the “big picture” that could be crucial to a successful solution. Any emotional stresses in men are generally internalised.

Finally, whilst the differing thought processes of men and women are interesting, and can be a useful tool when writing a character of the opposite sex, it is important for a writer to always remember…

PERSON First, Gender Second!

Bear in mind that these gender differences are generalisations: just as not all men like football, detests asking for directions, and cannot engage in deep emotional conversations, not all women are bad drivers, calorie counters, and obsessed with their hair and makeup. The key to writing a believable character of the opposite sex (and to avoid stereotyping) is to write the person first, and then add further layers to their personality with a sprinkling of gender-specific attributes.

What do YOU think needs to be considered when writing someone of the opposite sex?

Oracle
 Oracle-FrontCover-500px.jpg
With London gearing up to host the Olympics, the city doesn’t need a serial killer stalking the streets, but they’ve got one anyway.

Leaving a trail of brutal and bizarre murders, the police force is no closer to finding the latest psychopath than Detective Inspector Kurt Lancer is in finding a solution for his daughter’s disability.

Thrust into the pressure cooker of a high profile case, the struggling single parent is wound tight as he tries to balance care of his own family with the safety of a growing population of potential victims.

One of whom could be his own daughter.

Fingers point in every direction as the public relations nightmare grows, and Lancer’s only answer comes in the form of a single oak leaf left at each crime scene.

Purchase Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble
 

About the Author
 Author Photo 2 s.jpg
J.C. Martin is a butt-kicking bookworm: when she isn’t reading or writing, she teaches martial arts and self-defence to adults and children.

After working in pharmaceutical research, then in education as a schoolteacher, she decided to put the following to good use: one, her 2nd degree black belt in Wing Chun kung fu; and two, her overwhelming need to write dark mysteries and gripping thrillers with a psychological slant.

Her short stories have won various prizes and have been published in several anthologies. Oracle is her first novel.

Born and raised in Malaysia, J.C. now lives in south London with her husband and three dogs.

Contact: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

So… when I said I’d be writing…

Just a quick update to show I’m not dead.

So… no writing happened. Not even editing, despite the fact that I now have two parts of Doorways back.

Why? Because the flu I thought I’d beaten just isn’t letting go.

When I left work on Thurday, my headache started. Now it’s Thursday again and guess what? It’s still here. At least it’s not as painful as it had been, but it’s so annoying.

Still… there’s this countdown timer at the top of my blog that says I have a week left to finish. Probably won’t now because I wasted a week without editing. But damned if I just slack off now. One CP has 1 part left to the finish. Another has two. I’m going to try at least send out the next parts before the deadline.

Knowing that three out of four CPs read all the way through will make me happy enough. So I guess I better get cracking.

Anyone else editing? How’s it going? And your writing?

Interview Tuesday: R. Mac Wheeler

Hi all, welcome to another round of Interview Tuesday (on a Wednesday). Today I welcome R. Mac Wheeler to MFB.

Hi Mac! Please tell us a bit more about yourself?

I’m an author of character-driven SF/F/paranormals filled with quirky sorts who lug a lot of baggage, in worlds that aren’t that far out. I was raised in the desert southwest; have called Florida my home the last twenty-five years. As we say in Texas, I have three dogs, a truck, and a beautiful wife, not necessarily in that order.

Hehehe so do the quirky sorts walk into your head fully formed or do you design them to be quirky?

I run a little on the quirky (and obsessive) side myself, so my characters are a natural extension.

Do the characters come into your head first or the story?

 

Most definitely, the characters.They beat me about the head and shoulders while I sleep.

What’s your favorite part about writing?

The fame, fortune, and idolizing of my groupies.
When that wears thin, I live off the creativity and sense of accomplishment.

Do you have any books out there for prospective groupies?

 

After one too many rejections last fall, I decided to self publish all of my eighteen novels. I’ve been editing like a crazed lunatic since then, and diving into the creative process of developing covers (Never thought that would be harder than the writing, even blurbs). I have thus far gotten fourteen of my titles on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and will have title number fifteen there hopefully within three weeks.

Don’t ask me about my sales. No time to worry about that. They are assets that aren’t going anywhere, and when I get all eighteen titles out there, I’ll do some marketing. But in reality…anyone approaching writing expecting to make money should keep playing the Lotto.

Wow! How do you get so many works out there? Do you multitask between WiPs?

I’ve been writing full time for ten years, during my bench time when I was consulting for five years, and otherwise I stole what time I could back in the days I still worked a regular gig…did that for another ten years. I probably sound long of tooth. Yep. Feel about as old as dirt.

Ah so you’ve been at this gig for longer than a lot of us. Got any tips that you wish you knew early on in the process?

Unless you have a favorite uncle running one of the big publishing houses…pick another hobby. Writing can break your heart. Why do that when so many hobbies, like sticking pins in your eyes, are so much more rewarding, without as much pain.

*snort* Right. Excellent tip. Except you’re preaching to the addicted. 😉 Any other tips?

Read the top ten style books three times.
Recognize that fifteen edit passes isn’t excessive. You’ll still have a change to make in every paragraph on the sixteenth pass.
Compose your query letter, blurb, and synopsis early in the writing process. That will enrich the edit process. You’ll see your manuscript in a different light.

Those are some great tips. I didn’t do the blurb etc. earlier, now I’m sort of at a loss with where to start.

Do you use crit partners and/or betas and/or editors? If so, where did you find them?

I’ve tried combinations of all…and while they improved my writing years ago, I’ve never really been that satisfied.

Multiple crit partners can do an excellent job picking out copy errors. But unless they are highly skilled, they can rip the emotion and voice out of your writing.

If you can’t afford true editing, and not JUST copy editing, crit partners is a must. But, I’ve seen the results of $400 editing. You get what you pay for. I’m not making money writing, so I’m not spending $1,500 for an edit.

The best I’ve found is partnered-editing with other full-time writers. If you’ve paid your dues reading the ten style books three times, you’ve bound to have picked up some skill. (Too bad you can’t see your own errors.) If you find a considerate partner willing to put the required time in, both of you will end up with a much cleaner product, cross editing.

Last but not least, where can people find you and your works on the internet?

RMacWheeler.com     On Kindle     On Nook     Blog

 R. Mac Wheeler

Thanks so much, Mac! I truly enjoyed doing this interview with you. Good luck with your writing and publishing endeavors!

The Writer’s Life

Thank you, Misha, for hosting me today. I’ve always loved your blog, so I’m really happy to hang out here for a little while!

I thought I’d chat about a writer’s life. Specifically, this writer’s life. Although it took me a while to realize I was supposed to write the stories that collected in my head, those stories have always been there and still are. Some are just snippets. Others are more fully formed. The same with characters – they hang out in my head, too. And I’ve always possessed the outlook of a writer.

People watching. OMG!More like instant profiles. “She has a cat.” “He’s a mechanic.” “He’s way too much in love with her, and she doesn’t love him as much.” Of course, I have no idea if my perceptions come close to the truth. Over time, these observances graduated to include stories about their lives. Sometimes these became the beginning of a new story in my head or blended with one already there. But not always.

Event watching. This is only slightly different from people watching. Or maybe it’s still a part of it. But an event usually occurs when I’m not actively engaged in watching people. It may be as minor as a vehicle parked at an odd location or perhaps even at a strange angle. Or someone whose dress or manner is inappropriate for the occasion, say the man who sits apart at a funeral and doesn’t speak to anyone. Or maybe the two strangers(?) in the pet store who meet, speak, and move on. Events like these truly spark my imagination. And sometimes lead to a plot twist in a story.

Names. I love maps, and I put names of streets, cities, towns, counties together to form names. South Carolina is home to Florence Newberry. Think about a character named Florence Newberry. Can’t you just see her! There are many more, including two Texans, who you’ll meet in stories yet to come, but not the same story—Peggy Whitsett and Brady Ellinger. These characters usually appear with at least a little backstory, and sometimes full stories spilling over and waiting to be told.

So how is your life as a writer? Do you do these things? Different things? Or am I the only one?

Carol Kilgore is a Texas native who has lived in locations across the U.S.as the wife of a Coast Guard officer. Back under the hot Texassun in San Antonio, Carol writes a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance she calls Crime Fiction with a Kiss. She and her husband share their home and patio with two active herding dogs, and every so often the dogs let them sit on the sofa.

Learn more about Carol and follow her here:
Blog: 
http://www.underthetikihut.blogspot.com

 
No home. No family. No place to hide. For Summer Newcombe, that’s only the beginning.
The night Summer escapes from a burning Padre Island eatery and discovers the arsonist is stalking her, is the same night she meets Fire Captain Gabriel Duran. As much as she’s attracted to Gabe, five years in the Federal Witness Security Program because of her father’s testimony against a mob boss have taught her the importance of being alone and invisible.
No matter how much she yearns for a real home, Summer relinquished that option the night she killed the man who murdered her father. But Gabe breaks down her guard and places both of them in danger. Summer has vowed never to kill again, but she’s frantic she’ll cost Gabe his life unless she stops running and fights for the future she wants with the man she loves.

Pacing Yourself

Many thanks to Misha for allowing me to guest post about challenges I face in maintaining a proper pace. I’m honored to be featured here on My First Novel.

The challenge of maintaining a steady pace is as important in your approach to writing as it is in your writing itself. So why do we so often agonize over literary pacing yet lose focus on the proper pacing of our work, and in our lives in general?

I’m a full-time working mother with an active website, pursuing an agent to represent my manuscript of humor essays. I’m working on my next WIP, blogging, critiquing other writers and trying to strengthen my public platform. All in my “spare” time.

That means if my kids need clean clothes, they know to check the basket on top of the dryer rather than their dresser. My kitchen floor isn’t as clean as I’d like it to be, and in my yard, the phrase “A Secret Garden” implies the weeds are currently winning the battle for horticultural supremacy.

Any Olympic sprinter can attest to the importance of maintaining a sustainable pace. And they know it isn’t enough to just run without also focusing on weight training, a healthy diet and proper equipment.

In many ways, writing poses comparable challenges. A well-written book is not sufficient to take home the gold. We need to join critique groups and attend writers’ conferences to improve our skills, stay in touch with trends and meet other writers. We need to be accessible to potential readers via our blogs and websites. We need to build a public platform on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to market our book.

I’m willing to make sacrifices to steal more time to write because writing is my passion, but I don’t forget that first and foremost, writing is a business. My MBA helps me plan and manage my writing aspirations in relation to the challenges the rest of my life throws my way as a busy working mother.

Would a sound businessperson open three stores at once? Of course not. Why would an aspiring author try to write a manuscript, maintain a blog, join Twitter and start a Facebook page all at the same time? These are all important things, but the successful writer balances these challenges in stages without losing focus on crossing the finish line. What good does a strong platform and topnotch marketing potential do if the book is never finished?

Do I wish I started my “business plan” sooner? Absolutely. But isn’t that the equivalent of saying an Olympic gold medalist should’ve started sprinting at six months of age? I may have lost some time, but I’ve found my rhythm and I’m in it for the long haul now.

I have many roads yet to travel on my journey to becoming a published author, but I know one thing with certainty. The more I write, the more I write. Or, in other words: the more I do something besides writing, the less I write.

The challenge of proper pacing for me has become less about finding time to write and more about making time to do everything else that still demands my attention. The key to achieving this balance is knowing what I can handle and learning to let go of less important things.

You can rise to the challenge and find your rhythm, too. Set your pace. Today’s a great day to start.

**********
Cindy Dwyer is currently seeking representation for her manuscript My Roots Are Showing. These narrative nonfiction humor essays explore the quirks of her family and portray her acceptance of the fact that she is turning into her parents. The only thing left to do is to prepare her husband for the inevitable.
You can follow Cindy on her website http://www.cynthiadwyer.com or on Twitter @CindyDwyerWords.

Writing and thank yous

Sigh… This is becoming quite a bad habit, but for once I have a good reason for not posting. I want to write in a big way. In a way I haven’t wanted to write in a long time.

And since the desire and the urge is there, I’m not going to ruin things by distracting myself.

So yeah. GPF continues as always. Then on Monday there will be a guest post and Tuesday another Interview. Wow, this will be like an unplanned blogging break!

Anyway. Just want to say thanks to Cindy for volunteering to write this week’s post. You are officially my heroine until further notice.

And then I want to say thanks to all my blogging friends who looked me up at WriteOnCon. And for your excellent feedback. Because you guys’ crits ROCKED. 

See you all on Wednesday! X

Please wait…

Something I’m finding in the crits from WriteOnCon has me wondering again.

See… it’s not limited to the forum, although I’m lucky in that my CPs usually don’t step in this trap.

A trap named being overly critical.

Now before I go on, let me just say that this isn’t about me being unable to handle my criticisms. Because heaven knows I give as good as I get. And I don’t just see this in my own works, but those by others too.

But the thing is, I think for and CP there’s a very real risk that they’re so focused on being a CP that they forget they’re supposed to be readers too.

And here’s one thing readers do a lot of: they wait. They wait to find out what happens in a chapter. They wait to see if the characters end up together. They wait to find out more about something that intrigues them.

They don’t care that they have to wait, though, as long as there’s plenty going on in the mean time. Or enough things readily available in the story right at that moment to keep them going until they don’t have to wait any more.

Make sense to everyone else?

So why is it that my first five pages seem to be getting crits where people seem to want to know everything right now? They book is 110k words long. If I told anyone I’d put the explanation of some of the biggest factors in my book right in the first five pages, they’re probably laugh and call me mad.

Same with the first 250 words. It’s 250 words. In a 110k novel. At the start. And I was a good girl and didn’t start with an action sequence. Where would anyone expect those first words to go? They only gain their meaning as the chapter progresses.

In other words: wait.

And yes I start those 250 words slowly, because I want to lull the reader into the fact that, yes, the story starts somewhere they didn’t expect. I’m actually fulfilling my first job as a writer: gaining a reader’s trust. The trust that’s needed for a reader to be willing to wait. Because why would they wait if they didn’t think I’d reveal what I need to reveal in due time?

But yeah… being a CP means you need to think as a reader and a writer. Not actually as a CP. As a reader you need to think: hmm… if this was a published book, I wouldn’t have thought of the comment I’m writing now. As writer you’d think: hmm… this is different, but why is the writer doing this?

As supposed to just blasting away with crit that writers have to dismiss because it’s neither pointing out an unforced error nor pointing out why a reader would have a problem with this.

So if someone who’s never been a CP asks me for advice, I’d suggest the following: Think before you comment. And if you’re a trigger happy commenter, read the piece at least once before starting to crit. Because you’d be surprised at how many times the answer to your question is only two sentences away.

What about you? Do you also get a little annoyed when you read comments by people who clearly didn’t think before they wrote?