Today I’m delighted have award-winning author Georgia Beers join me for Work-In-Progress Wednesday.
Glasses Author Shot
Georgia, September is National Better Breakfast Month. Personally, I hate breakfast. If I have to eat it, I like the fast food drive thru. Do you eat breakfast? What’s your favorite breakfast? What’s your dream breakfast? Does eating breakfast help you write? Any other observations on breakfast you’d like to share?
GB:
I happen to love breakfast. It’s my favorite meal in the world. In fact, breakfast for dinner is my favorite thing to eat, ever. I love eggs. I love pancakes. I love waffles. I am a big fan of the PopTart. And I could live on cereal. Unfortunately, I have gotten into the habit recently of not eating breakfast and that is something I need to fix. I do find I work better if I’ve eaten in the morning.
MJ: If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?
GB:
You know, I have a lot of creativity in me. Lots of outlets. But I have terrible follow-through. Truly horrendous. I have everything I need to crochet and I also have a basic knowledge (though there’s much more for me to learn). Yet my supplies are collecting dust. I love to garden and I have a bunch of houseplants. But I work on them in spurts. I planted a garden in May and have weeded it exactly once so far this summer. See? No follow-through. That’s something I need to work on. One thing I love and do on a somewhat regular basis is color. I have a stack of coloring books and a huge container of crayons. And for my birthday, a friend bought me colored pencils and an *adult* coloring book. So that’s been awesome to help me feel creative when I’m not writing. It’s relaxing and it lowers my stress level. I highly recommend it.
MJ: I love coloring, too! Other than writing, what would be your dream job? Why?
GB:
I would love to be a film director. I think I’d be very good at it. I am a huge movie buff. In addition, when I write, I always see my books as movies. I’m very visual. So I think I’d be good at getting a vision from my head onto the big screen.
MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.
GB:
Hmm. The one I have or the one I wish I had? LOL. I would love to have a separate building on my property that I could remodel into a big, open, sunny office space and then head there every morning like I’m going to work. But since I live in an average-size house in the city, that’s not going to happen. I’ve got an office. It’s bright and sunny (windows and natural light are important to me when I work). Lots of windows. I have my desk set up so I can gaze out the window if I need to or look at shelves of books to inspire me. My dogs are usually on the floor nearby and I have a bulletin board and a white board for jotting down or pinning up ideas. I have also been known to use a change of venue on occasion. I will take my laptop to Barnes & Noble once in a while because there is something inspiring about being surrounded by books. I also have a local coffee shop that I have worked in successfully. It really depends on my mood.
MJ: What do you love most about your WIP hero?
GB:
Well, I’ve got two heroines, so I’m going to answer it that way. What I love most about Ashley is her sunny outlook on life. She is always smiling, always looking on the bright side, always positive. Those are traits that I, as a person, have never been able to master. Ashley doesn’t let anything get her down. She is the epitome of “if life hands you lemons, make lemonade!” I can’t do that.
MJ: What do you least like about your WIP heroine?
GB:
Lisa lets herself get stuck. She knows it, but she can’t seem to do anything about it. If she’s angry about something, she stays angry. She holds a grudge like nobody’s business. If something bothers her, it bothers her for days and days. She has a hard time letting go of negative emotions. (*Her*, I can relate to. LOL.)
MJ: What genre is your current WIP?
GB:
It’s a lesbian romance. All my books are.
MJ: How did you come up with your characters’ names?
GB:
I do two things. First, I have a list of names I like that I’d like to use for a character. Whenever I hear a cool name, I jot it down for possible use in the future. That being said, I also have to pay attention to character ages and whether the names I like make sense for when they were kids. So I also Google the most popular names for the year they were born and I go from there.
MJ: How did you choose the setting for your current WIP?
GB:
I wanted to write a series. My audience tends to be mostly lesbian, so I tried to think of a setting that would draw in lesbians, but not exclude the rest of the world. I also had to keep in mind that I needed someplace large enough to have a lot of gay women associated with it without it seeming too contrived or unrealistic. I landed on an animal shelter. There are enough people involved with a large animal shelter (employees, volunteers, donors) that I can hook up several pairs of them and not have people roll their eyes or shake their heads in disbelief. And lesbians are all about their pets!
 MJ: Can you share the first five to ten sentences of your current work in progress?
GB:
The title is “Rescued Heart.”

“Crap.”

Ashley Stiles was running late. Again. It was the story of her life, really. The bakery had been a madhouse with the rapidly approaching Easter holiday, and she’d ended up stuck there for almost two hours longer than she’d expected. Thank God she’d learned to pack a bag when she left in the morning so she didn’t have to show up at Junebug Farms in her bakery whites, covered with cookie batter and cake frosting. It was colorful, true, but it was also really distracting to try and walk dogs that wanted only to lick your clothes.

MJ: This sounds wonderful! What about your current release?
GB: My current release is “A Little Bit of Spice,” which is available at Amazon.
Spice Front Final
MJ: And how can readers follow you?
GB: I have a website and blog. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram (GeorgiaBeers).
MJ: Thanks again for stopping by, and good luck!

I was recently in Las Vegas for Day Job business. My flight was scheduled to depart at 2:00pm. I had just enough time to hit the restroom and grab a fast food burger before catching my flight (the taxi situation was silly). Boarding started a bit late (the flight crew was late), but no biggie. The temperature was around 108F. We were told there was some paperwork that needed to be approved because of the temperature, the altitude, the wind, and the weight of the plane. Hey, I believed the pilot (and still do). Because of the factors I listed, we needed to take off in a non-standard flight pattern. We taxied out to the runway and prepared to take off.

Except the tower said no. They couldn’t disrupt all the other flights taking off. We sat on the runway for 2.5 hours. Yes, they brought us water. The pilot suggested we try to rebook our connecting flights if possible. Not possible for me: I don’t have a smart phone. Others did.

I said to one of my seatmates: “Oh well, they’re concerned about our safety. Can’t fault them for that.” He gave me a dirty look. I then said something about an adventure. More dirty looks.

Eventually, we were taken back to the gate and told there would be agents standing by to help us. Except there wasn’t. After fifteen minutes, a very cranky agent came over to assist. But she was being verbally abused by some nasty customers, and that ate a lot of her time when she could have been helping more people. Why take it out on her? It wasn’t her fault the tower wouldn’t let us take off. My third seat mate was able to change flights to continue on to his anniversary date with his wife in Montreal.

Behind me on line were two British couples. Mean, rude, nasty people. One was eating a sandwich, and the filling kept falling on me. Eww. I texted one of my Canadian friends and asked if it would damage international relations if I turned around and bitch-slapped one of them. My friend replied, “Not if you yell ‘1776’ first.”

I laughed.

I was the only one smiling. I figured getting upset wouldn’t solve anything.

I had almost made it to the overworked agent when they announced we would be re-boarding the plane. I made a decision: follow my luggage.

(to be continued)

 

I believe I have a pretty solid work ethic. When I need to write, I do. I haven’t missed a deadline yet. I’m usually successful in my chapter’s monthly Book-In-A-Week Challenge.

I thought August was going to be an amazing writing month for me. I had a long writers’ weekend scheduled. I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

Life, however, had other ideas. Between car issues, family issues, DayJob issues, and uncooperative “Smart Quotes”, I haven’t accomplished what I wanted. Now I’m at the Need to Accomplish stage. I can no longer “find” time to write; I must make time to write.

That deadline looms.

I have been traveling for three weeks. I had three suitcases in my home office in various stages of packing/unpacking. All of my trips were fabulous — until it came time to come home from the final one. My journey home from Las Vegas this week surpassed my 1989 trip-from-hell (okay, it was from Wichita to Syracuse via St. Louis, not hell), the day I spent a week in the St. Louis airport.

But I’ve learned a lot since 1989. Like about lemonade and toads. I will be sharing my experiences over the next couple of weeks.

 

 

I’ve been on the road quite a bit since the end of July. As I was getting ready to pack my laptop case for yet another excursion, I realized I have some odd things in there.

  • Various sizes/colors of index cards containing such writerly advice as:
    • Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat beats
    • word count to page count conversion table
    • Christopher Vogler’s Writer’s Journey steps
    • Linda Howard’s “Twelve Steps of Intimacy”
    • Vorhaus’s The Comic Toolbox” story structure list
  • Pocket pack of tissue
  • blank index cards
  • lip balm
  • pens/highlighter
  • screen cleaning cloth
  • screen cleaning wipes
  • small notepad.

I keep meaning to buy an 3-prong-to-2-prong adapter to keep there.

It seems as if every time I pack up to go off and write, I think of something else I need to keep handy.

What do you keep in your laptop case?

 

 

16
Aug

I have never understood the appeal of camping. I like indoor plumbing. I don’t like bugs and/or insects.

A few weeks ago, three of us sat around a fire pit at the side of a lake and reminisced about our childhoods. My two friends both grew up “in the city.” To them, camping was playing with their cousins, catching lightning bugs, fishing, watching the stars at night. It was a fun time.

I grew up next door to some of my cousins, so we did things together on a regular basis. We lived in the country, where life included catching lightning bugs, playing hide-and-go-seek, and watching the stars at night. Those activities weren’t special; they simply were. At least, back then.

I never considered it camping.

That said, many of my cousins now go camping. There is even a Crazy Compton Cousin Camping Weekend in September. Really.

As much as I would love to join them, I have lightning bugs in my own backyard–and indoor plumbing.

 

A few months ago, at my very first booksigning, a woman kept hounding me about research. “Romance authors don’t do research,” she insisted.

I was offended. Such preconceived notions are part of why the romance genre continues to be disrespected.  I am here to tell you: Romance authors do research.

For my werewolf books: I researched country music performers, Toby Keith in particular. (The link will take you to the blog I wrote about part of that.) I also researched early American history and the country’s relationship with France during the French Revolution–it’s all the backstory of my werewolf pack.

For my baseball books: my husband and I had season tickets to the local Triple A baseball team for three seasons. We rarely missed a game. I followed player (and their wives!) blogs, interviewed players, and talked to the people running the stadium. I learned some of the rules of International League Baseball. I research what cities have teams. My husband and I researched cities that should have teams, based on certain criteria. My husband and I visit Cooperstown, NY (Baseball Hall of Fame) every summer.

For all my books: I research marriage laws in whatever state I’m writing about. I research floral, fauna, parks, highways, airports, etc. (The state of Montana is very generous with their free roadmaps.)

Early drafts of my books are filled with >>research this<< from times when I’m writing without Internet access.

Other author friends research such riveting topics as modern ranching, orchard husbandry, the Secret Service, how to be a chanteuse, professional bull riding, vineyards, and Scottish history. Books on my shelves include such fascinating titles as: Deadly Doses: a Writer’s Guide to Poisons; Practical Homicide Investigation; The Naming of America; two The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks; The History of Underwear; and 1001 Ways to Be Romantic.

I once had a contest judge suggested I rename the setting of my story because people might confuse it with the salad dressing. Except reality is Thousand Islands Dressing was invented and named for the Thousand Islands region of the New York/Canada border.

Another contest judge informed me I was wrong about laser ID numbers on diamonds–because diamonds are the hardest known substance. Except my former brother-in-law worked in the Diamond District of New York City and he’s the one who told me about laser identification of diamonds.

Research? Just because data isn’t info-dumped into the story doesn’t mean there the topic hasn’t been researched.

 

I went to sleep-away summer camp a couple of times. For a week.

I went to Girl Scout day camp once. That, too, was for a week.

My husband went to sleep-away camp for years, 6 weeks at a stretch. But he grew up in the Bronx, and I grew up in the middle of no where. I didn’t need summer camp.

When I was in elementary school, the town in which I lived had a pool (converted frog pond). Every Tuesday and Thursday (unless it was raining) in July and early August a school bus picked us up to take us to The Pool. It was a daylong event. There was a concessions stand. There were arts & crafts. There was swimming. Two full weeks were given over to swimming lessons. Looking back at it, I guess The Pool was a summer program.

But The Pool was only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The other days of the week were spent:

  • trying to write novels on an ancient Remington Rand cast iron manual typewriter
  •  picking wild whatever-berry-was-in-season
  • building forts
  • playing with my cousins (who lived next door) along with a slew of other neighborhood kids

No one drove us anywhere (my mom didn’t drive).

We caught frogs by day and lightning bugs by night. There were boxes of old clothes for dress up. Trees for climbing. We had bicycles without helmets, croquet sets, and badminton rackets (using the hedge dividing my aunt and uncle’s driveway from my parents’ as a net). We did somersaults and tried to do back flips and cartwheels on the soft grass of our yards. There was a mountain behind the houses to explore. Massive games of hide-and-go-seek and Wolf at night, and Annie-Annie-Over in the day. We lay on our backs and stared at the clouds or the stars. We didn’t need summer programs.

We were expected to amuse ourselves. We managed.

I sometimes wonder if we aren’t raising a generation of people who are incapable of amusing themselves. Play dates, summer programs all summer long, with no downtime to curl up with a book or teach yourself to play guitar. Or day dream. Are we annihilating the imaginations of our youth?

 

Welcome back, Melissa Snark!

MelissaSnark author photo for book

MS: Hi MJ, Thank you for having me today, National Underwear Day. I’m excited to talk about my current work in progress, which is called Moon Snatcher. It is an urban fantasy/Norse folklore novel and Book #3 in Loki’s Wolves.

MJ: I just love that title! How did you choose the setting for your current WIP?

MS: Hunger Moon is set in the northern Sierras. My family and I love the Tahoe area because it’s so rugged and beautiful. As a kid, my parents often took family vacations up there during the summer. My husband and sons like to ski so we head up to South Shore every winter for a family vacation (when there’s snow). I started Hunger Moon, the first book in the Loki’s Wolves series, while we were up there several years ago. The mountains and forests seemed like an ideal place for wolves, so the Sierra Nevada became the natural setting for my story.

From his most ancient beginning, flight exemplified freedom within his heart and soul. As a hawk, Loki soared high above the suburban oasis carved from Arizona’s austere desert. He drifted upon a rising column of warm air, wings angled to induce enough drag so he didn’t outpace the child he followed.  Far beneath him, the figure of the six-year-old was only a dot, but enhanced avian senses permitted the Trickster to drink in every sight and sound.

The boy’s fleet feet splashed upon the wet pavement, running beside a small twig boat while the swift flowing gutter-steam swept the tiny craft along. Michael Allen Fraiser had light brown hair and an olive-toned complexion as well as a lean, athletic build designed for speed.

Now, in honor of underwear, I’d like to discuss the undies preference of three of my main characters.

Victoria Storm

Victoria Storm is a kick ass heroine with a take charge attitude. She is both a priestess of Freya and a Valkyrie to Odin. She’s definitely got a feminine side but she’s more tomboy than girly-girl. I think this set of athletic dance undies would appeal to her since she trained as a ballerina in her youth. It’s cute but practical.

victoria

Jake Barrett

Jake Barrett is the Hunter King. Master of the Hunt. He has many nicknames, not all of them polite. Rumors purport him to be invincible. He suffers fatal injuries but doesn’t die. Men pledge their undying loyalty to him. Monsters fear him. To underestimate him means certain death.

Jake is older, old-fashioned, and no nonsense. He wouldn’t wear anything other than plain old cotton boxers. No thrills, no frills. You’d be surprised how difficult it is to find images of those nowadays.

Jake

Sawyer Barrett

Sawyer is Jake’s son. He’s something of a rebel and an accomplished hunter in his own right. He prefers underwear that breathes while providing support for his active lifestyle. Boxer briefs would be right up his alley and he’d be more likely to buy name brand undies than Hanes.

Sawyer

MJ: You really know your characters! Here are the details of Melissa’s current release, Valkyrie’s Vengeance:

Valkyrie's Vengeance 750

Genre: Urban fantasy/Norse folklore

Publisher: Nordic Lights Press

Published:  Jan. 23, 2015

A thirty-year alliance that aligned wolves and hunters has shattered. Victoria Storm leads a few surviving members of her pack in a desperate flight. As the only surviving child of their leaders, the she-wolf inherited the role of Alpha. The violent deaths of her parents and the man she loved left her devastated, and the lives of her followers depend on her decisions. Simple survival often conflicts with the demands of preserving her Norse heritage, so she must struggle to balance her duties as Freya’s priestess and Odin’s Valkyrie. When innocent children are abducted, she must set aside her differences and work with her worst enemy to rescue them.

Available for free download:

Amazon: http://goo.gl/gLd386

Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/EQp6Wi

ARE: http://goo.gl/Gb1kMz

Kobo: http://goo.gl/SCC5ws

iBooks: http://goo.gl/HZiicW

Google Play: http://goo.gl/6d292A

Newsletter: http://goo.gl/I6J5NU

Author Melissa Snark lives in the San Francisco bay area with her husband, three children, and a glaring of litigious felines. She reads and writes fantasy and romance, and is published with The Wild Rose Press & Nordic Lights Press. She is a coffeeoholic, chocoholic, and a serious geek girl. Her Loki’s Wolves series stems from her fascination with wolves and mythology.

August is National Happiness Happens month!

For the past several years, I have participated with a daily Facebook post about “Happiness Happens.” This  year, I’m going to skip doing that. I found myself repeating things from year to year, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can get pretty boring.

I am a happy person. I work at being a happy person. I believe that attitude is a decision, and several years ago, I decided I am going to be happy.

Do I have bad moments or even bad days? Yes. I’m human. The human condition isn’t perfect. But that doesn’t mean I have to wallow in misery. Anyone’s misery. I do my best to avoid negative people.

I remind myself of something Eckhart Tolle said: “This moment is temporary.” Wow.