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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Sound of Silence (thanks, Paul Simon!)

(Completely irrelevant to the rest of this blog post: my author interview is up over at The First 7500 Words! Go read about my favorite authors, my writing tips, and how I would subdue a dragon!)

The topic of music comes up frequently in many of the writing forums I visit. It's understandable. Music is a great form of artistic expression. When lyrics are involved, it's closely tied to the art of creative writing. If we're being honest, music probably plays more of a role in the everyday lives of people than the written word, even if we're just zoning out to the radio during our morning commute. If writers weren't so moved by music, there wouldn't be millions upon millions of "songfics" over at or stories named after stolen lyrics!

(Okay, I'm mostly joking about that last part. Mostly.)

Confession time! My bachelor's degree is in music. Though I don't play as much as I once did, I still consider myself a musician. Here's the kicker - very rarely do I have music on in the background when I write. If I do, it's something instrumental. Even with my phenomenal multi-tasking abilities, I never was able to write one set of words while listening to another. The instruments alone sometimes do a good enough job of distracting me, whether my analytical brain is paying attention to the chord structures and cadences or if I'm simply getting lost in the beauty.

But since people ask, I'll answer: When I do have music playing while I write, I'd estimate about 75% of the time, it's by a classical Russian composer. Not only do I just really like them, but if a piece is long enough, it'll cover a number of different moods, and I don't have to manually switch to something different. Laziness always wins!

Thea Landen (B.Mus)'s Official Playlist for Writing Greatness:

For something utterly exquisite, like a tender, yet intense love: Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini: Variation No. 18 (yes, the famous one), by Rachmaninov

There is suffering, but glorious victory will come! Symphony No. 5 - Finale, by Shostakovich

The evil villain is always lurking: Movement 2 (The Kalendar Prince) from Scheherazade, by Rimsky-Korsakov

And, lastly, nearly everything you could want for musical inspiration: 1812 Overture, by Tchaikovsky

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Recharging the Batteries (no, not the naughty kind)

I am finally on vacation! WOOO!!! This has been a long time coming, and I am enjoying the week of good food (that I don't have to cook myself!), uninterrupted sleep, and other sorts of relaxation. I've been spending some quality time with my much-neglected knitting needles, and have completed the front panel and started the body of this sweater, which I fell in love with the instant I saw it. I've even been able to read a book! On the beach! Out in the sunshine! I repeat: WOOO!!!

Even through all of this "relaxing" time, my mind is still working like crazy. I don't know if I'll ever truly rid myself of that "cracked out hamster on a wheel" feeling. I haven't written anything since Thursday or Friday, and you know, I actually miss it. I might even bust out MS Word and fool around with some ideas for a bit before I go to bed tonight. It's wonderful when writing doesn't feel like a chore, but just another outlet for zoning out for a while. As always, I have more ideas than I know what to do with, but I know I'll get there. Even vacation doesn't completely erase my type-A tendencies and need to organize and compartmentalize everything in my life (says she who already yelled at her husband and her father not to micromanage the entire week).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Making the Rounds

In a cosmic alignment of calendar events, I have stuff featured at two other blogs today. If you haven't checked them out yet, I strongly recommend doing so!

The First 7500 Words is a new-ish blog, but I was intrigued by the concept. You either grab your reader right away, or you don't. As I read along, I found myself bookmarking at Goodreads some of what had been reviewed, which gave me the last little shove I needed to submit my own book. Jennifer, the blogger/reviewer, does a great job at being snarky and humorous without crossing the line into nastiness, which is refreshing.

The Voices of Fiction project is still going on over at Footsteps of a Writer (I think I linked it here once before). It's been great to see the wide variety of answers to each question. The current question ("Who is your favorite fictional character?") is especially fascinating, as different people are inspired by wildly different traits and actions (or reactions, as the case may be).

Go read!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Going Under Cover

Some people may argue that today, in the age of e-readers, cover art isn't as important as it once was. I am quite firmly a Kindle girl, but for the most part, I still like the pretty pictures. That said, there are a couple of books I've read in the past year or so that I have NO IDEA what sort of covers they had. Did that detract from my enjoyment of the book? Probably not. Similarly, I've read some books that had either really simple or really...uh...unattractive/not anatomically correct covers. Again, I don't think they affected how I felt about the actual content. (For example: I loved Heather Killough-Walden's The Game, and that's some pretty basic artwork on the cover. I'll also argue that the dice have little to do with anything that actually happens inside.)

I write erotic romance. In my readings in that genre, as well as my participation in relevant discussion groups and online forums, there seemsto be certain elements that appear in most covers. Back in the day of the paperback "bodice rippers", the formula was simple: Pale woman with long, flowing hair and a low-cut dress clutches at or is clutched by a tanned, shirtless muscular man (also with long, flowing hair?) who is either brandishing a weapon, standing on a rock as waves crash behind him, or steering a boat. (Possibly all three of these.) It was so formulaic, my college friends and I even took the time to mock it on film back in the day.

Identities obscured to protect the overly silly.
Come on, you know they all looked like that. But you know, that's not necessarily a bad thing. If you picked up a book that had people posing like that on the cover, you knew exactly what you were going to get. Inside, these characters are not going to be sitting around sipping tea and discussing quantum physics or the meaning of life. And if you picked up the book based on that cover, you probably wouldn't want them to.

Today, things are a little different. I know the "bodice rippers" still exist, and the covers haven't changed all that much. These days, actual erotica is a bit more mainstream, and those covers reflect that. Instead of the low-cut corseted dress, the heroine wears maybe just the corset and a thong on the cover. Instead of being on a ship being rocked by the turbulent seas, maybe they're on a bed with satin sheets. Either way, the end result is the same - when you pick up that book, you have a pretty good idea of what's going to be inside.

That brings me to the topic of my covers. Now, I had zero input with cover design (as is the case with most publishers, I believe), and there were some sleepless nights where I worried that I was going to hate them. My friends will tell you that my nightly mantra before the Searching the Skies release was "Please let her boobs look real, please let her boobs look real...." Let's take a closer look:

Fierce! (And real!)
I love this artwork. Even though the book is mainly about scandalous activities, this depiction implies that she is more than an object to be ravished. She may have her fun between the sheets, but she will also go out and shoot things in the face with that badass gun. Score!

Next up is The Edge of the Sphere. Again, I had no idea what the cover art for this book was going to be, and as I admitted on the day of the release, I was initially a little surprised:

What's inside the house in the woods? I'll never tell!
Ooh, mysterious. Without revealing too many plot details, both our main characters do, in fact, live in homes that look just like that. There's a certain dreamy, mysterious quality that reflects the tone of the first section of the book. It looks like the forest is filled with secrets. I like it.

With both of these covers, there's nothing about them that screams "THIS BOOK IS FILLED WITH DIRTY SMUT", for better or worse. Me personally, I sort of like that there aren't any scantily-clad lovers with their pouty lips parted as they delight in their passion on there. (Also, friends have told me that they like being able to read the paperbacks on public transportation without getting any odd looks.) However, it could be argued that readers looking for a certain kind of book might pass these over if they feel the covers don't reflect what they're looking for. Would I sell more books if the covers followed the trends? Who knows. But I'm happy that my characters are sealed inside covers that convey their depth.

(Can't post this without acknowledging the awesome team at Double Dragon Publishing! All the covers are amazing there, not just mine!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Winning Winners Who Win!

Congratulations to our three winners! Jason and Laura had the good fortune of being randomly lucky, while Shannon gets her book for providing the most entertaining entry! (I won't give away too many incriminating details, but I'll say that I had the same reaction as her when reading about it and thinking it over - yikes! ;) ) Check your emails for information about the e-book!

Thanks to everyone who entered - keep checking back for more updates and chances to win STUFF!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Edge of the Sphere Giveaway!

Let's give out some e-copies of The Edge of the Sphere! The last giveaway was a blast, so I feel the need to outdo myself. This time, we're going to have an extra bit of fun!

Dreams play a significant role in TEotS. (Dreams of an adult nature, of course.) The question to enter this giveaway is "Tell me about a naughty dream you've had!" There are three e-copies up for grabs: For two of them, I'll pick the winners at random. The third copy will go to the entry with the hottest dream!

Here's where we'll make things even more awesome - since I know that sometimes it's hard to pick just one dream as a favorite (me, I don't know if I would go with the Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic" dream, or Nathan Fillion in his "Firefly" gear...both were EXCELLENT dreams), you can enter once a day between now and Tuesday!

The giveaway will be open until midnight on Tuesday (EST). I do my book gifting from, as they have nearly every format imaginable. You do need an account there to receive the book, but it's an easy site to navigate if you've never been there before.

On with the fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Well, THAT was fast

So The Edge of the Sphere was released today, about a month ahead of schedule. Yay!

Right now, the e-book is available from the publisher and All Romance Ebooks. Last time, I think it took about a week for the Kindle version to go up on Amazon, and about two weeks for the paperback. I'll be sure to keep you posted! Get ready for some giveaways in the next few weeks!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Inspiration Comes From Mysterious Places

I think every writer has heard "Where do you get your ideas?" about, oh, a million times. It's a valid question. Sometimes just coming up with something to write about is half the battle. (And then there are all the other fun battles, like actually putting it down on paper, and making sure the idea can last for more than a paragraph, and so on.)

Inspiration for The Edge of the Sphere (coming in August!) came from an interesting place. And by "interesting", I mean "nerdy, incredibly nerdy, oh dear god I can't believe I'm about to blog about this nerdy". So my love for video games has already been pretty well-documented on this blog. I've already discussed how much the book was influenced by some of my favorite games. However, I think "influence" and "inspiration" can be very different things. Let's talk about the latter.

On a fansite for a series I particularly love, there was some ongoing discussion about our favorite characters. Somehow, this led to one of the members writing a series of shorts about us (as in, real people us) going out on dates with said video game characters. (I told you this was going to be embarrassing!) Everyone got about 1000 words about their "date", and then there was a grand finale where we all got together in the same room and some chaos and hilarity ensued. All good, harmless fun, albeit EXTREMELY geektastic.

Then I got nominated to write the sequel. Sure, why not? I dutifully started planning and asked everyone who they wanted to be paired up with this time around - if they wanted the same "dates" or if they wanted to change. One of my friends, who goes by Xander on the sites, tried to duck out of this series and said he didn't want to be included. Hahaha no. Nice try. Due to his insolence, I told him that he no longer got to choose, and I would be picking his date for him.

I settled on an original character he'd created for a role-playing game set in an alternate universe. He'd written a lot about her and created artwork for her (and some of us had already teased him about her being his fake girlfriend, we're so nice), so I figured I'd have a lot to go on. For the sequel, I decided everyone was already in established relationships with their "dates", except Xander started off his chapter single and alone. In about 1000 words, I wrote a story about how he dreamt of a woman, drew pictures of her, and then eventually met her, all while borrowing some ideas and scenes that he'd created when he made the character.

And this is where my trolling backfired - people really liked the story. I got some great feedback on it, and most people thought it was really sweet and imaginative. In other words, I set out to be an asshole poking fun at my friend's then-lack of a social life, and then everyone told me how nice I was. Go figure.

Many months later, something made me think of that story, I don't even remember what. I couldn't get it out of my mind, and the fact that other people enjoyed it certainly helped. Long story short, with permission from Xander, that 1000 word short eventually turned into a 50K-word novel. (Well, only the first 10K words or so are based off that little chapter. Then I took a sharp turn into very different territory.) When I originally wrote the single chapter, I never thought that it would turn into something so much bigger. Now, the book has officially become my favorite thing I've ever written.

Oh, and the nerds and geeks are going to take over the world one day. Mark my words.