Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dresden Files

June was my “finish the damned novel” month, so I set myself a target of 1000 words a day and, as the result, didn’t get much reading or watching done.

Apart from “Dresden Files”, that is, when I needed a break from my typescript.

“Dresden Files” is a TV series about a wizard named Harry (sic!) Dresden. Harry is a Chicago police consultant, called in whenever the murder case looks unconventional (for example, if the murder weapon was black magic). So far so good. But Harry is not an alpha male, so even though he may look cute, he’s not sexy, and there is only so much of a TV program you can watch if the sexiest bod it contains is that of a ghost who’s trapped in his own scull.

The plot is skinny at best, there are continuity errors as big as from here to the moon and back (possibly because the series was not screened in order) and the stakes are negligible.

So why do I watch it? Two reasons:
1. It’s wonderfully non-addictive - a quality I’ve come to admire in displacement activities. (The other day we had a power outage in the middle of the episode, and I didn’t mind having to stop watching at all.)
2. The TV series is based on books. If those got published, then my own are going to be on the NY Times bestseller list next year this time!

(STOP PRESS: Apparently the novels are much better. Check out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dresden_Files. Also, having now watche dthe last 3 episodes of the series, I must admit, they're a huge improvement on the preceding few.)

Which reminds me. “Interview with a Dragon” is coming out as Echelon Press’s Spotlight e-book. Check it out on www.echelonpress.com after 1 July.

And wish me luck submitting my typescript.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wintersmith



Those of you who know me also know that I’m a shameless fan of Terry Pratchett, irrespective of his over-inflated ego and less than cordial interpersonal manner. I admire his quick wit, intelligence, writing style and the ability to sit down and produce at least one book a year (I’ve just completed a novel that I started in 1998 or 1999, so I’m speaking from the unenviable position of an expert in the field of procrastination).

Of course, some of his books are better than others. Some (like the children’s series Johnny, which is waiting for my children to grow up) I haven’t read yet. They are all unmistakeably pterry, though.

“Wintersmith” is a Discworld Novel and the third in the series of Tiffany Aching, the Sheep-girl Witch. I’m partial to all Discworld witches and Tiff is no exception. In this tale, she inadvertently gets Winter to fall in love with her, and - of course - the results will be disastrous if she doesn’t save the world, again.

I love Terry’s allusions to literature, so I’m glad to discover that the echoes of Snow Queen from the first Tiffany book (“The Wee Free Men”) resound here again. And I may be reaching, but the idea of becoming human in order to be with your loved one may have been borrowed from The Little Mermaid. There is also plenty of Greek mythology for those who like that sort of thing, myself included.

In “Wintersmith”, Terry also alludes to his own books, much to my enjoyment. The first place I spotted was a romance book Tiffany was reading, commenting about the author’s lack of knowledge when it came to a sheep farm (I wonder whether Terry was quoting from one of his own readers' letters there). The other reference was to “Where is my cow”, when Rob Anybody commented that the author hadn’t stretched himself there… that’s ok, my two-year old loved the book.

All in all, a yummy read. Now bring on “Making Money”… October is just around the corner!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Murder @ Work


Today's entry is a slice of shameless self-promotion. Enjoy!

(excerpt from a cosy murder mystery, "Murder @ Work" by Yvonne Eve Walus, Echelon Press 2004. Click here for more details.)

As usual, Christine longed for a swimming pool, and as usual, she knew that she and Tom could never afford it. It was something that belonged to the Old South Africa way of life.

"How was your day, honey?" she heard.

Tom was in the kitchen. Judging by the smell of fried chillies, he was preparing something deliciously Oriental. And deliciously fattening.

"Just great, thank you," she shouted back in a tone of voice that contradicted her words. "I'll tell you about it in a moment. I just want to make a phone call. The office phones are stuffed again. That's Africa for you."

The blouse was also too hot. She dialled her aromatherapist with one hand, tearing off the white cotton with the other. "Hi, it's your favourite customer," she said. "I need you. Desperately. Before I murder my boss. Can you give me an emergency massage tonight? Oh? Tomorrow before work then? Thanks. You're a star."

Wearing only her underwear, Christine ambled into the kitchen.

"Smells gorgeous. There goes my diet."

Tom looked up.

"Wow," he said. "A naked wife."

He dropped the knife onto the chopped pile of mushrooms and stepped toward her.

(excerpt from "Murder @ Work" by Yvonne Eve Walus, Echelon Press 2004. Click here for more details. Click here for reviews.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Welcome A Dragon to the Blog!


Today we’d like to say a warm hello to writer Sandy Lender, who is visiting this blog as part of her online book tour. Sandy’s high epic fantasy novel titled Choices Meant for Gods has just been published by ArcheBooks Publishing. Check it out on http://www.archebooks.com/BookIDX/Indexes/Fantasy/CMG/CMGDesc.htm and read the interview with Sandy below.

Sandy will be available throughout the day to answer your questions, so feel free to post comments.


“Choices Meant for Gods” is an intriguing title. How does it relate to your book?
The lead character, Amanda Chariss, doesn't believe in herself at first. She views the confidence everyone else has in her as misplaced. Now, as she goes through her arc, she still has some reticence about the things she's asked to do, but she gets more comfortable with her role, but she still thinks the decisions she's asked to make are choices meant for gods, not a simple mortal girl.


I hear there are dragons in your book. Are they beautiful or scary?
There are two main dragons in the book. The first that we meet is terrible. She's an evil goddess as old as time itself who can actually morph between "human" and dragon form at will. And as frightening as Julette is in human/goddess form, you really don't want to see her in her dragon form…someone's probably going to get eaten.

The other dragon is wonderful. When we first meet him, he's just a fledgling—absolutely adorable and endearing. He lands on Chariss's balcony at night and watches her through the curtains because he's curious about this new human at the Taiman estate. And then one night Chariss catches hold of him…


Who are you when you’re not a writer?
Oh my…I don't think there's a time when I'm not a writer. I guess I have brief spells of insanity when I'm at Duran Duran concerts. I think my muse avoids me then because I'm just too loud. But I literally keep pen and paper with me at all times. I work for a magazine publishing company, so even my "day job" involves writing. Almost everything I do involves communicating through some means or another, and it's usually with the written word.


What made you decide to start writing?
Honestly, I think I was born with the desire! I used to write little stories for my great grandmother when I was a child; I wrote little one- and two-sentence "articles" for the class newsletter in first grade; it's just something I've always done.\



Who has influenced you the most in your writing?
There's a list, actually, that ranges from Jesus Christ, who kept me from getting too out of hand with the violence in Choices Meant for Gods (and who reminded me that Nigel and Chariss are NOT married—thus CMFG sports a PG rating instead of something insane like triple X), to Duran Duran to the Anglo-Saxon warriors that the Old English scops immortalized (I really want to meet the fellow who wrote Beowulf when I get to Heaven—I want to shake his hand!) to the Master of All Writing Charlotte Bronte.


Tell us about your road into the Published Kingdom.
This story would be horrific if not for the happy ending. I started out with the same depressing query-letter routine that most writers start out with. I'd research agents that represented fantasy authors, figure out which ones would accept new clients, send this sparkling query letter demonstrating my knowledge of publishing (I'd been in magazine publishing for 12 or 12+ years at that point as an editor and writer) and marketing. No one cared. Rejection-letter city, right? That got old fast, so, rather than continue getting beat up by that process, I decided to try something different—bypass the gatekeepers, as it were. I ended up going through a move in there, too, relocating to Southwest Florida to help someone in my life pursue his dream to go back to school. When I got to Florida, I joined a group that had a Writers Conference where I had a pitch session (which you can read about in the May 25 archives of www.alisonkent.com/blog) with ArcheBooks Publishing's Bob Gelinas. He accepted my manuscript and sent me a contract. Problem solved! I had my foot in the Publishing Kingdom door. And I am eternally grateful.

I cannot tell you how much effort it takes beyond that step, though. Holy cow. Marketing and promotion is not the job of the publisher in this industry these days. Even your high-n-mighty New York publishers don't have mongo budgets for marketing, and what budgets they do have are reserved for their big-name authors, not newbies. So a new author in the publishing industry has a path to beat through the underbrush to get noticed amid the 400+ titles being released each day to the marketplace. That's one of the reasons I'm in the middle of an online book tour for Choices Meant for Gods. I want to get my name out to as many online viewers as possible to let them now there's a new fantasy author on the scene. And that's why I'm grateful to you for letting me stop by your blog on that tour. You may not realize it, but you're providing me a great opportunity today and I thank you.


Please describe your usual day to us.
I'm up at 5:30 to prepare for the day. I post the Word of the Day and some other marketing-related and writing-related articles to my blog at www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com. Then I'm off to work (I have an hour commute) where I write and edit and produce magazines. After work, depending on the day, I'm either attending class, attending a writers meeting, or hitting a place to get a non-traditional venue to either hand out flyers about Choices Meant for Gods or sell the book on consignment. Once I get home, I fire up the computer to assist Nigel with his blog http://sandylender.blogspot.com because I can't really let him post without overseeing what he's writing about me. The evenings also see me editing Book II of the Choices trilogy, prepping future blog posts, managing the online book tour, helping out other writers with blogging questions (I give seminars on this topic), and writing. Now that the person I moved down here to support in following his dream has abandoned me and the house to foreclosure and bankruptcy (ooh, sounds like I made a mistake, doesn't it?), I have a few odd errands that interrupt my schedule, but I still make time to entertain my pet bird and keep up the marketing and promotion. Oh, once in a while, I eat. I usually go to bed around 1:30.


How much do you read?
A lot, considering my schedule! But I have found that most of my reading lately has turned into work, which is a shame. I'm reading specifically to provide reviews for other authors who need support in their marketing efforts.


Who are your favorite authors and why?
Hands down: Charlotte Bronte. (Are there other authors?) Seriously, I've been a Bronte fan since I read Jane Eyre one summer in high school. Holy cow. I think it was the first book that made me so mad I wanted to throw it across the room. The wedding scene (and everyone who's read it will understand) made me actually react out loud. And has anyone visiting today read Villette? Ugh…you read this fantastic story and get all the way to the end expecting roses and love and happiness and "oh, they finally get together," and Charlotte rips the rug out from under you in like the fourth- or fifth-to-last paragraph. That was another one of those moments where I was gasping at the page thinking, "She did not just end it that way." She's another one I have to meet when I get to Heaven…


Quick, sell us your next book.
Well, considering the working title may change, this may be odd. Choices Made by Gods is the sequel to Choices Meant for Gods, and it shows us Chariss growing in her role as the protector of a god who has just lost his power and who has an evil dragon hot on his trail. While Nigel Taiman struggles to keep her at his estate and bound to his side, the forces of prophecy, and the armies converging on his front lawn, threaten to take Chariss away. And it turns out he was right to try to make her stay…


Finally
Yvonne, thank you again for hosting me today at your site. I've enjoyed the questions you've had, and I'll check in to see what questions or comments I can answer from your visitors!