Wednesday, June 30, 2010
a novella by Michelle Davidson Argyle
It's coming out in August and I plan to be among the first in line to buy it!
Here's to guts, talent, brains, and creativity all working in glorious harmony...
Episode Five: Tim: Return of the WHAT?!?
Now to be honest with you all, I'm really excited, because I have a sneaking suspicion that Tim may in fact actually be a Jedi Knight. Watch as I stealthily try to reveal the true nature of his identity with all the patience, subtlety, and understated charm of a nap-deprived three year old on a sugar high. Because if you add thirty-six years to the age thing that's pretty much what I am this week.
My mind tricks are a little rusty, let's give them a go though. I'll concentrate really hard...hmm. One with the Force...sufficiently caffeinated, yes, yes, I think it's working.
"This is the blog you're looking for..."
Here we go!
FG: Tim! Thank you so much for joining us today on Pitch Slapped.
I really enjoy your blog- it's got quite a variety of interesting things to read. Recently you posted some amazing- and I mean amazing- short fiction pieces, which were written in an astonishing 20 minutes each in a challenge you made to your wife.
Dude. 20 minute fiction- how the hell do you do that and can I try it?
T: First of all, let me say that it's great to be here, Bru, *waves to crowd*. Now, in answer to your question, it's not as hard as it sounds. I think we've all had to do timed tests and the timer can make you really focus.
FG: Or it can make you scream like a girl and dive under your desk...but apparently you never had that problem, especially the girl part since you are, in fact, a man. How many people did you get in on the fun?
T: We always did it with two people but you can do more. Basically, you write down a short character description and you give it to the other person to write about, set the clock and away you go. So my wife liked to give me a lot of female characters to try to stump me since at the time I was used to writing about profession men, top-dog types. She really helped stretch me.
The character description for Afternoons are for Friends on my blog was a "7 year old girl with leukemia who loves horses". That's all, the rest is all my doing. The key, I think, is to try to put yourself into the shoes of the character and imagine what that person might be doing, how they think, who they know, what their problems are. I would just spend a minute or two trying to come up with an idea and then just write.
Can you try it? Sure! It's a great game to play, especially on long winter evenings.
FG: Boy howdy, do we have those, about ten months out of the year. I could write an awful lot of flash that way. The three you pieces you have posted were all great but that one made me cry like a baby. I have to say, the reality of the piece was very moving. Thank you for posting it.
I was really interested in interviewing you for several reasons, but one of the main ones is that I've never really talked to anyone who writes technical papers before as well as working on creative pieces. Aside from the obvious that the former involves writing about real stuff and latter, well, does not... is there any real difference in the process itself for you, creatively, between writing fact and writing fiction? If you approach the projects differently, how so?
T: Great question! Writing science can be fun but it is more formulaic. Reviewers for journals (I'm a mathematician) expect things to be written a certain formal way. They don't really like to see a lot of metaphor or poetic writing. They like crystal clarity. It's sort of like the difference between a plate glass and a stained glass window. The stained glass window is pretty but you can't see through it well. Writing science is all plate glass and I try hard to make things as clear and complete as possible. With fiction writing, my goal is to communicate certain emotions and perspectives on the human condition rather than explain a technical idea.
FG: *scribbling and mumbling* Uses jaw-dropping analogies to teach...
definitely another check mark in the "Jedi evidence" column... Yes, um, what? Oh! Sorry. I was listening.
That is one of the coolest metaphors I've ever heard. And I happen to be a big fan of stained glass so, you're really impressing me here. Not to mention the fact that you're a mathematician because honestly, math makes my head hurt. I'm great with balancing the checkbook but beyond that? I make sure that I always have a couple mathematicians in my posse so that they can bail me out with numbers when it comes down to it. They're pretty handy guys to have around (and I'm sure there are gals too that are just as handy, I've just never had a female friend who was a mathematician).
All this talk of science and stuff (yes that's a highly technical term around here) begs the question, Do you also write science fiction?
T: Yes, I do! I love science fiction and it's what got me interested in writing. My favorite thing to do is to explore how a particular technology changes how people live and what they can do. The best thing about writing science fiction is that you don't have to do any research!
FG: I know you're submitting nonfiction, do you plan to try to publish fiction as well? If so, give me your pitch for your project!
T: Yes, I go back and forth, both have their rewards. I have two,  a mostly written novel, and  a novel idea that my wife has been asking me to write for years.
This first one is about a xenolinguist, Tolan Smith, an expert in alien languages in an era where miscommunications have resulted in protracted wars. Smith is a grumpy, temperamental genius who sniffs out the meaning behind alien communications for Earth's central government as part of a special diplomatic section. When Smith and his team are called to meet the leaders of an unusual and technologically advanced race, the Amidans, Earth's alien enemies attack in their absence and in the confusion the military deposes the government. Can Smith and his team, with the help of special technology from the Amidans find out how to restore the government, prevent a war with Earth's greatest alien enemy, and uncover a conspiracy to take over the galaxy?
FG: Gee, I hope so! The second one?
T: This second one is along the lines of The Office. My wife has been begging me to write about my observations of people I've worked with over the years. I have a lot of anecdotes and observations about office lifeforms stored up. There was the guy who played video games all day and one day disappeared to get away from his ex-wife playing tricks on him. How about that guy with the unusually loud swishy pants who drinks so much coffee he's always on the way to the bathroom? There's nothing like reading about office dysfunction after a long day at the office!
FG: No doubt. I worked as a temp for a time and I swear- there is a book in there somewhere. I think Temporary Insanity (the working title) tells you about how well the experience worked out for me. I'd love to read about all of those characters- in fact I think I probably worked with them at some point in my life!
Now this is one of those questions I ask just because, you know, I'm me.
You're stuck at the airport by yourself- battery on laptop is dead and the book selling gift shop is closed. You're flying standby so you're trapped at the gate, you can't go wandering. (yeah I know, to quote Bugs Bunny, ain't I a stinker?) What do you do to pass the time?
T: Probably stare out the window (if there is one) and daydream or possibly observe the people around me or attempt mind control or telekinesis (hey, it might work one day!)
FG: *jumping out of chair and pointing* JEDI!! I knew it I knew it!
On to another sci-fi franchise for a minute here- I'm a huge Doctor Who fan, So that leads me to ask you this question. If you had a TARDIS at your disposal and could go back to any point in time what event would you want to witness?
T: I am a huge fan of time travel books. Connie Willis is my favorite and when I was a kid I liked to read the Time Traveler series. Where--when would I go? I'm thinking Lincoln's second inaugural. I have a picture of it. Look at all the soldiers, veterans of the battlefield. Is that guy up on the balcony in front of the pillar John Wilkes Booth who would shortly assassinate the great man? There's something incredible about the scene. If I could pick a second...can I pick another one?
FG: Sure, who am I to argue with a defender of the Republic? Go for it.
T: It would be VE day, London. (Is there a pattern here?) I love moments of great relief.
FG: Another 'just because wondering could keep me up nights' kind of question, did you happen to catch any of Michio Kaku's Sci-fi Science series on The Science Channel? If so what did you think of it? If not, do you have your own theory on how to, say, ummmmmm *rolls eyes up to ceiling* build a lightsaber? I crocheted one once but it really wasn't very efficient so I'm in the market. Any help for me there?
T: I haven't seen it but yarn would not be my first material of choice!
FG: It shouldn't have been mine either... *pulls out photo album* Observe...it started out so promising...
T: Looks cuddly!
FG: No wonder the Republic fell.
I did finally get the fiberfill to yarn ratio corrected but all you could probably do would be smack around and annoy a whomp rat with it. *sigh* they're never going to let me face the Trials of Knighthood...
I'm curious to hear your thoughts on a better design.
T: A lightsaber is basically a big electric switchblade. You could do it with a laser(s) that's powerful enough but how do you stop the beam so that you don't put a hole in your ceiling when you switch it on?
FG: That's exactly what Kaku said! I knew your genius was truly legendary. He said the trouble is it would just keep going forever! I don't think that's exactly practical...if nothing else the upstairs neighbors may take issue with it when you want to practice. Any ideas for a work around?
T: You would need to reflect it back somehow with a mirror that's so stable that it wouldn't deflect the beam somewhere you don't want it to go (like your hand, ouch!) You'd have to shoot the mirror out somehow when you flick it on. Has anyone noticed that lightsabers don't have hilts? As a veteran of many lightsaber battles with my 6 year old, I think they really need hilts, but maybe if you're one with the Force you don't need one.
FG: Here's a link in case you are interested in seeing what Kaku's design turned out like! Nanobatteries and a plasma generator were involved! But unfortunately he says it's about fifty years until we get the technology...rats. The video is about halfway down the list (sorry, there's no more direct link).
Aww, Jedi Master Tim, sadly it's already time for our last question! I'll try to make it a good one. You, like myself, are very interested in Keirsey Temperament Theory. In fact you just posted a video on YouTube of yourself giving a great description of just what that is. How did you first become interested in KTT and what has it done for you?
T: I encountered KTT in 2002. I typed as an INFP the first time and then got INTP all the other times I took it. KTT has helped me to understand how people are different from me and why I come across as unusual. The best thing I've gotten out of it is the opportunity to meet other people of the rarer types and connect with them.
FG: And us with you! *whispering* just so's you know, folks INTP (Rational Architect) is THE rarest of the sixteen types: less than one percent of the total population. Fascinating. I have only ever had a chance to 'meet' (both online actually, they're difficult to find in person) two in my lifetime (including Tim) and I am convinced that they ARE Jedi!
You write, you're a mathematical genius and I'm intrigued by your sketches too. A true Renaissance man, Tim, even if you deny the whole Jedi thing.
For the record, do you deny it?
T: Let's just say I'd like to avoid any Imperial entanglements.
FG: Gotcha, totally understandable. Well, I know you're off to the far corners to protect the safety of the galaxy (your secret is safe with me) and myself, I'm due back to Dagobah to finish my training with the Muppet so I've got to dash.
Seriously though- I know that you're going to be tied up the next week or so on business so thanks again for your time here, it's been a blast. I'll let you go as soon as you answer my standard final question.
If you had to be stuck in an elevator for an hour with anyone who has ever lived, who would you want it to be and why?
T: Isaac Asimov. I named my son after him (seriously). His books were a great influence on my life. He was both a scientist and a writer, and also a really good joke teller I hear!
(Since you also were curious about my sketches, I would say that I have a dislike of not being good at anything, so I try just about everything once. I don't really draw based on feelings though, my aim is technical accuracy and perhaps to create a mood with light and shadow. I'm ever so slightly autistic which apparently helps--so I've read--people to draw what they're actually seeing instead of what they think they're seeing. I often look at the parts of things instead of the whole.)
FG: Wow... another reason why Rational Architects are so fascinating, folks! Take a good long look and listen while you can- it'll likely be a long while before you are lucky enough to meet another one!
With that...at some not so distant point in the future, I am going to have to challenge you ALL to a 20 minute fiction-off! Sounds like a potential blogfest to me.
Thank you so much, Tim, for stopping by and chatting with me. It's been such a pleasure and I look forward to following what you're up to on your blog and future YouTube videos!
Thanks for reading, everyone, I hoped you enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Tim as much as I did.
See you tomorrow with the new Bru Interviews You! question of the week, which will also be auto-set to publish while my eyes recover. By Friday morning I should hopefully be able to look at the screen again.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Oh god. I feel woozy...
She posted last Friday asking people to express their frustrations with the industry. If you missed that post, the cartoon that was posted with it alone is worth going over to look at.
Darn that cartoon. I wasn't going to comment- I held back- but I loved the cartoon so felt I should post.
I thought about it, and then somewhere in the slew of sixty some odd comments I said that I just wished there was an industry standard cover letter/procedure for queries because I'm always afraid I'm going to miss something on an agent's website or blog and end up in the auto-reject pile right away.
For me, it's not a matter of not wanting to be cooperative- it's a very real issue with limited eyesight time available. In fact right now it feels like someone has taken twin spiked mellon-ballers to my eyesockets but I'm determined to post about this before I finally get to sleep.
First of all, I want to reiterate that I know my problems with my eyesight are no one else's problem- I know that.
I know everyone has challenges and many more folks have them greater than I do. I don't mean to sound like a whiner (or a whinger, as they say outside the US).
I was just doing what she asked- expressing honest frustration and a wish that agents would let the pages to stand or fall on their own, and she was kind enough to pull my comment out of the heap and respond.
She said- well here's the link, you can see for yourself.
I know I do need to worry less- and I really do appreciate her taking the time to answer. Honestly, I'm still in a bit of shock over it. I'll take her advice to heart and I promise her and everyone else I will hereby never refer to myself as the "next Nicholas Sparks" in a query ever again (and my friends are now laughing hysterically and yes, that is a joke).
Lest anyone think I'm just deceiving myself and trying to make something simple like querying complicated on purpose to explain away a bunch of rejections- honest, I'm not. I've queried a grand total of three times earlier this year and got two requests for fulls (I am not trying to brag, please read on)they were both ultimately rejections so nothing to brag about. One rejection on each of my manuscripts. That's it. I really am that new at this.
My point- it's going to take me getting more than one rejection per book before I start looking for excuses as lame as trying to say that it's the query process itself that's to blame for my failure. At least two rejections apiece...
I really have been like a deer in the headlights after reading all the agenty blogs, frozen and so just haven't sent out any more queries but now I see that I just need to decide if I'm going to do it to just do my best and do it.
I am, however, wondering where the heck she found the picture of me she used on that post.
I thought I burned them all. That was a very bad day, the day that was taken. And as you can see, I've since gotten a new haircut. The bangs and glasses are still about the same though.
So anyway, thanks again to Ms. Gardner for taking the time to try to give a clueless newb a sense of direction. Much obliged!
Maybe I should query her next *laugh* as soon as I revise that letter claiming that I will outsell Twilight, Harry Potter and all of the Captain Underpants books as well as change the world with my work. Darn. I really liked that letter.
Now, back to my regularly scheduled post.
What's playing on my earbuds right now: Chances, by Athlete
The following conversation actually took place, a few years back when I was planning a vacation.
Disney Dining Reservations Agent: All right! You’re all set for lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern on X date at X time for a party of four. I must inform you that there won’t be any characters at this meal.
Me: You sure? I mean, we’ll be there.
She laughed in response. I was making a joke but I really wasn’t kidding. The personality types of the four people in our party are so different, but work so well together, that we can be very entertaining wherever we go even and especially if we’re not trying.
If you’ve read anything here (and at the very least you’ve just read that intro) you might guess that I’m somewhat…well…unusual in my view of the world. There is a documented reason for this. I’m an INFJ.
Now before you go making any interesting (even if more entertaining) guesses as to what that means, I’ll tell you that it means is I was typed as an INFJ (Idealist Counselor) on the Keirsey Temperament Sorter.
Most of you probably knew that already- many have taken the sorter or a similar test like the MBTI. Many schools give them to kids in high school now or people take it in college or for the company they work for.
I didn’t take the test until I was in my twenties and seeing the result was a revelation and a relief. Suddenly it all made sense! It was actually scary accurate. If you’ve taken the test and had a similar experience you know what I’m talking about.
The biggest shock was finding out that my type makes up only somewhere between 1-3% of the general population depending on whose estimate you believe. That’s it.
So it is official: I am weird! And I’m perfectly okay with that.
The poor Architect Rationals are even rarer (we’ll find out a little more about that tomorrow- don’t miss Tim’s interview- it’s a hoot!)
Whatever type you are one thing’s for sure- if you’re here you’re a writer and so even if you don’t really care what type you are, yourself, I’d like to humbly submit that you might still want to check out some information on temperament theory anyway.
Because knowledge of the types can help you really make your characters come alive—at least that’s been my experience (I know, your mileage may vary.)
I’m still working on that whole ‘am I really seriously going to start querying’ quandary and I don’t claim to be an expert on writing- but I am an expert on my own writing and I can tell you is that studying Temperament Theory as I have the past decade plus has done wonders for it.
I Keirsey type all my characters now, in my head if not on paper, going in- at least classifying them as one of the four main types if not pinning them down to their sub-type among the sixteen. Why bother, you ask?
Well, because it gives you an instant snapshot of the character’s personality below the surface and it can help you to understand how they’d react in any given situation you may write.
Is your male main character especially impulsive, longing for novelty, thrills and excitement all the time? An Artisan.
Or is he a steadying force, circling the wagons and trying to do his duty no matter what? Then he’s a Guardian, for sure.
What if he’s always looking up to the stars and yearning for more, imagining what could be? Idealist.
Is he a genius mastermind of design, invention, and planning (often but not always the brilliant villain or scientist?) Sounds like a Rational!
Understanding the dynamics can help you craft super-dimensional characters that interact with each other and react in ways that everyone can relate to --even if your readers can’t put their finger on exactly why it works so well.
Dr. Stephen Montgomery, who has worked for years with Dr. David Keirsey, wrote a very nifty little book called People Patterns that takes the temperament types and applies them to the characters in many famous tales: including Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, even Sex and the City! It’s a great book and so much fun to read.
Best of all, it clearly gives you pictures by example of why good casts of characters work well together.
Think about it. Daring, romantic, impulsive starship Captain James T. Kirk (ARTISAN with all capital letters, sorry, had to) needed the Rational, Spock, to balance him out.
Luke Skywalker was a true Idealist, while Princess Leia Organa was worried about getting the plans to the Death Star into the hands of people who could exploit weaknesses in them to make a difference in their cause (Rational).
It seems that the patterns repeat again and again, even in great literary love stories.
In Please Understand Me II (a book that really changed my life, I tell you- and the way I see everyone I have ever met or will ever meet) Dr. Keirsey explains how and why certain complimentary types work best together romantically in real life. Rationals and Idealists, for example, tend to be drawn to each other in a way that particularly works. Same with Guardians and Artisans—and you can see this carried over into some of the most classic love stories ever written. That’s why they are so fascinating to read.
Here’s one quick example from one of my all time favorites- Jane Eyre. In another of his books (The Pygmalion Project Volume Three: The Idealist) Dr. Montgomery explains that Jane is an Idealist Counselor and Rochester is a Fieldmarshal Rational, and he explores how their differences draw them to each other and make for an incredible read. The study is fascinating to me, and he does the same thing with other famous characters in the volumes on Artisans and Guardians (alas, the book on Rationals has not been written- at least not yet).
So, the point of this post is to pass on something to you all that has truly helped my characters evolve over the years into what I hope, at least, makes them seem fully realized people.
If you find yourself ever getting stuck as to how to bring depth to your characters, or to know just how they would react to a new circumstance based on what you know of them already- it may well be worth your while to look into a few books on temperament theory.
As your understanding of how people interact in real life broadens with knowledge of the types and why they behave the way they do (what motivates them, what comforts them, what excites or bores them) you might find that it translates onto the page in ways you can’t yet imagine.
That’s what happened for me. I also learned a lot of important things about myself and the people I care about along the way- for that reason alone I encourage anyone who wonders just why they're the way they are (or their spouse...or their kids...) to look into Keirsey's work. I only wish I'd known my type when I was a teenager it would have saved me years of angst.
Care to share? Have you ever taken the Keirsey test or something similar? What did you think of your results? Have you ever applied the types to characters in movies or books- do you use temperament theory in your writing? I’d love to know!
And if you’ve made it this far and want to check me out talking about what it’s like for me to be an INFJ and a writer- here's a one minute clip I filmed last week and then uploaded to YouTube *gulp!* Still learning the details on that camcorder thingie. This is me, for real! I'm not wearing any vision correction in this clip so I'm not really seeing the camera.
See you all on Wednesday for my next interview, with Tim! Then stop back by Thursday cause yeah, you talked me into it, we're gonna try it again. There will be a new question for the next interview spot here. I'm debating just going to a random number system for picking a winner though- cause it's so hard to choose...in any event, there will be one interview per week from now on and you'll have from 12:01 Am Thursday until Midnight EST to comment if you'd like a shot! I'd love to get to know more about you.
Happy Tuesday, all you colorful characters, you.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Anne, before we start can I just say- I have a minor major thing for lighthouses. Do you know where the one in the gorgeous picture on your blog is located? Because I want to move there. I'm sure the people living in it won't mind...
AG: Truthfully, I don't know. I think I was just trolling for lighthouse pictures one day and this one came up. I like to think it is the Hog Island Shoals Light in upper Narragansett Bay. I'm originally from Rhode Island and if you need a lighthouse fix, well, that's the place to go. They have 18, 14 of them still working.
FG: *scribbling down notes* Excellent, thank you. Such a little state, so many lights. If the first people do mind me moving in then hopefully one of the other thirteen won't be bothered by it...
Congratulations are in order- you just did a guest spot over at The Guide to Literary Agent's blog! They posted a version of your Five Stages of Querying article, which originally appeared in full on your blog.
What inspired you to write the piece originally? Bad day querying? Long-term query angst? Too much coffee?
AG: When I was younger, several really good friends died unexpectedly and someone gave me the book THE FIVE STAGES ON DEATH AND DYING by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. In querying, I was going through so many emotions, partial requests made me giddily euphoric and of course the rejections sent me spiraling into deep dark depression. I knew/know publishing is just business, but still it hurts to get rejected time and again. I remembered the stages of grief set down in DEATH AND DYING so re-read a basic article describing them so I took it and ran with it. It's funny too, I sent it to Chuck Sambushino (Guide to Literary Agents) as soon as I finished it, but I never heard from him. I figured "Oh well, maybe he didn't like it." That was February. Last week, I got a letter from him saying he had just recently found it in his in-box and could he use it. Surprise! And there we have it.
FG: Cool. Again, congratulations.
You have been having some issues with power outages in your area lately- so glad you're back up and running. You have my sympathies. We went through a phase last year where if someone sneezed the transformer behind our house blew. We had seven power outages that year. There is nothing like that sinking feeling of knowing that the fridge is warm and the Popscicles are not long for this world.
Aside from the obvious loss of internet connection, when the power is out what do you miss the most?
AG: Nothing. I have my books and am totally content to curl up on the couch and read (which is exactly what I did.) However, Monster Baby (my daughter) was desperate for her TV fix. She played in the pool, with her Barbies and chased the dogs. Oh, maybe I did miss the fans. We can't use the a/c and it was very hot by the end of the day.
FG: On your Blogger profile you named one of my all time favorite films, Mulan, as one of your favorites. Do you have a favorite line/scene and does your daughter like the movie too?
AG: Because I write romance, "A Girl Worth Fighting For" is one of my all time favorite songs. And the fact that Donny Osmond sings it. (And I don't care who laughs at me, I've been in love with Donny since I was 12. He's still totally hot.)
I believe the end of the movie when the Emperor gives Mulan his medallion is the best scene in the movie. My mother has also told me that is a true story. Mulan really did exist way back when, so it's nice to hear women have been making bold moves since the beginning of civilization. And no, it's really not one of Monster Baby's favorites.
FG: When mine was little she wouldn't go anywhere without her "beads of Jade for beauty" on...*sniff* Now she's a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, all grown up (almost) and going on a cross country trip for two weeks in Julyyyyyyyyyyyyy *sob*
Back to the subject of writing now- who is your favorite character you've created so far? Tell us a bit about him/her. Why are they your favorite?
AG: Oh, wow, that's kind of a hard one. I think in my historicals Richard, Captain Richard Gaines would be my favorite. He is so deliciously full of angst. He was the Captain who captured Napoleon at Rochefort and after that gave up his career (to the detriment of his father - Rear Admiral and his grandfather, Commander of the Fleet). Richard was plagued with nightmares and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (called exhaustion back in the day) and is kind of wandering through life, not knowing what to do. He finally decides to get back on the water and is thrown into a situation with a woman that finally makes him realize what life is all about. Love.
AG: In my contemporaries, I think Genna is my favorite. Well, naturally. She's had devastating losses in her past and comes home after 10 years to face them and well, with all her unresolved feelings about Tony, and dealing with her Aunt Fortuna's illness, her cousins problems and now a new love interest, she's mired in angst. Can you tell I just love angst?
FG: Yes, and it sounds like fabulous reading!!! Now, please be kind enough to tell us about any projects you'd like the world to know of- WIPs or novels being queried/etc...go wild!
AG: Well, as we all know, I'm still querying MASQUERADE. I have had 3 more partial requests, (go figure, I'd finally given up on it and was ready to shelve it when BLAM 3 more came in during the last 2 weeks. So NEVER GIVE UP for all you who are ready to quit.) I also am trying to work steadily on REMEMBERING YOU the Genna & Tony story so I can finish the first draft by the end of the summer and query by Halloween. In between that, (truthfully when I get bored) I put in some words on my other historicals to try and get them ready so when (not if) I get offered representation, I'll have a 3 or 4 book deal ready to go on my historicals.
FG: Cool. This next fact about you is amazing- you've moved 38- yes, you read that right people- thirty-eight times in your adult life. Just the idea leaves me staring and gaping- more slack-jawed than Cletis the Yokel from the Simpsons. ("Never you mind Brandine, you just go back to birthin' that baby!")
I haven't moved in eleven years and I still have nightmares about it- I'm not making that up, it's true. At two in the morning with movers due to arrive in three hours and desperate for sleep, we threw everything left that hadn't been boxed into what we dubbed the "I don't give a damn bin" and if it made it in one piece, fine, if not oh well.Ironic --nothing in that bin broke, but some of the boxed stuff didn't survive the trip from the house to the car...
Anyway, my question about all that moving (and I do have one, sorry for the detour there) is- what on earth keeps you grounded when you're moving around that much- or are you such a free spirit that the idea of moving that often is something that appeals to you?
AG: *laughs hysterically* I hate moving. Most of my stuff was in storage for almost 28 years but living at the beach, I had to move every six months because the beach house had no heat. Actually it was the beach that kept me grounded. I love the ocean and would walk the beach twice a day, winter or summer, sunrise, sunset and any time in between. Now, living in the Piedmont, I have all my stuff in one place, I have a nice house, yard, Monster Baby is settling in, but I feel the least grounded I've ever been. Everything here is brown. There is no blue, no ocean. HOWEVER, I'm writing, so that makes up for it in more ways than I can say.
FG: I found a post that you wrote in February of last year, where you spoke about many of the different things that are skilled at doing (the list was mind-boggling- truly you are a woman of many talents! If I tried to mix cement I would soon be doing my best Galatea impression. Permanently.)
You did so because you were debating how to fill in the 'occupation' space on a form you had to fill out. You ended up writing something in that space that truly made me smile- especially when I read how you said that doing so changed your 'way of looking at the world'.
Can you tell me how that moment felt, and is the glow still with you? (and everybody, that post is worth a special stop-by, it put a lump in my throat...)
AG: Thank you so much. Now that I've finished a book, I can say I am a writer. It was Janet Reid and Davin Malasarn that both inspired me to say that. "When you finish your book, go into your bathroom, look in the mirror and say out loud, I am a writer." Those words have stuck with me since then. If someone should ask, and I'm feeling especially snarky, I say, "I am a novelist." And just for real fun, when the next question from them is (and you know it always is) "So what have you written?" I say, "My latest book is out on submission to my agent. I should be hearing from her soon." And usually, I am especially snarky.
FG: I can't believe this is our last question...*sniff*... I could just keep right on going. I'm beginning to understand why Barbara Walters did all those Oscar Specials.
I had a soft spot for you the moment I read that your Blogger profile lists both Hepburns (Audrey and Katherine, of course) as favorites of yours- as they are of mine as well. But that soft spot turned to a feeling of true kinship after reading the following on your blog (May I quote you, please?)
Speaking of writing Regency Romances, you said, quote:
"And I see you shaking your head and saying, yeah but does it have sex because that's what sells. And my answer is, NO, it does not. That's not why I write Regency romance. It's not about the sex, it's about the romance, it's about FINDING the love, finding the one other person in the world who makes you feel like no one else ever has. It's about the Happily Ever After that we all long for. It's about the journey. The journey to find it.
And that's what I try and create on the page. Two people looking, searching, for the only other person in the world who will love them back, who will make their lives complete. C'mon, who doesn't love a good love story? Even the biggest bad ass macho testosterone driven man, loves love. They might not admit it, but I bet they cry too when they hear a great love story.
And tell me, who doesn't want to fall in love? Who doesn't love a happily ever after? Wouldn't it be great if we all could find that one special someone that would only belong to us?" (end quote)
FG (continuing): Anne- I just pushed my chair back from the computer, I actually stood up and I am literally giving you a standing ovation. BRAVO!
I feel that kinship with you because my romances- modern romantic comedies/dramas I guess you'd call them- don't really have sex in them either. It's referred to when critical, it's alluded to- it may even be 'fade to black' in a spot or two. But I just don't write it in novels. I don't want to. There are enough of that out there in the genre already. I want to write modern romances that feel like old movies.
Um, do I have a question here? Yes! I promise I do! Give me a minute, I'll find one.
I just have to say first that I admire you for this, and the reason I haven't really gotten into reading Historical Romances is because recently I had the most embarrassing trip to Borders Express of my life. I just started picking up random HR books off the shelf, flipping through and reading to see if there was, you know, anything about the genre that might appeal to me to try writing next since I hear they're the big thing. Let me tell you- I'm a grown woman and I was beet red after a page or two of random reading from an assortment from the display. I walked out without buying a single one- and several of these authors had series of three or more books in the same line. I felt heartsick that night, thinking that this is all that people want???
Reading that you are writing REAL romances gives me hope.
So finally now, the question. Do you think that we- you and I and the others like us who long for books we can read and enjoy without having to feel that we can't leave them out for, say, visiting in-laws to find on the coffee table, have a chance with this, you think? What is your view of the future return of Real Romance??? (please, tell me it's hopeful...)
AG: I believe, in my deepest heart of hearts, there are two kinds of romance readers in the world. One are those who believe in true love, soul mates, kismet, Bobby Darin "Somewhere beyond the sea, someone is waiting for me" kind of people who don't need sex to sustain them.
The others, who, though they like a good romance, need the physical act of love to complete them (shades of Jerry McGuire). I don't necessarily like to read them. In the 30 years since I've been reading historical romances, I skip the sex. Yes, I do. I feel dirty, like a voyeur.
I don't think you need sex to make a good romance novel. Not if the writing is superb, your characters are real and you have a damn good story. Who needs sex when a good book, chocolate, and glass of wine will do.
And please, don't get me wrong, I like sex just as much as the next gal. I'm not a prude, nor frigid, nor any of the other terms that come to mind. I just don't like to read it. To me it stops the flow of the narrative. You're reading along, all nice and cozy, getting into the angst and them BOOM, someone shoves a penis in your face. I mean, really.
FG: Yeah, I totally hate when that happens...
AG: Okay, and if you don't believe me, think Jane Austen. She never even had any of her characters kiss until the last page. Now THAT's romantic!!!
FG: You are a wonder. Your blog is fascinating- I can't wait to spend some more time reading it and read some of your posted work and all. I am so glad that I got to interview you before you get famous. Seriously.
I swear, you guys are making me question whether or not I should suspend the weekly interview thing like I planned. I'm starting to think I should give it a couple more weeks. If I'd called it quits after the first week then I wouldn't have gotten to meet and interview you! What a loss that would have been for me.
Thank you so, so much for spending some time with us. I wish you all the very best in your journey as a novelist, and I look forward to the day when I can go into Borders, pick up one of your Regency Romances and say "Oh yeah, this one is so worth using my eyesight for. The author is brilliant!"
AG: Thank you Thank you Thank you.*blushes*
FG: Just telling the truth. AH! Stop the presses! I almost forgot the standard question. I really got carried away on all those good real romance vibes there.
If you had to be trapped in an elevator for an hour with anyone who has ever lived, who would you want it to be and why?
AG: Okay, throw me a curveball here -- this is tough. I can't pick one. Katharine Hepburn probably. She loved Spencer Tracy throughout her whole life, never married him, was her own person, femininely feminist, made the best movies, wrote fantastic books, starred with some of the world's best leading men, and stayed true to herself. She is definitely one of my inspirations.
FG: I think Kate would find a way to get you out of that elevator way before an hour was up though even if she had to climb up the cable with her teeth! *laugh*. Then she'd probably take you out for a stiff drink and a cigar.
I must say you're pretty inspirational yourself! Thanks again for taking so much time and giving such great answers!
You can all see what Anne is up to and what she's writing about over yonder. After this chat I know at least one thing she won't be writing about! *laugh*
Until next time...Happy Monday everyone!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Yet, as I contemplate the shawl I’m working on for my daughter so she can take it on her Big Trip Out West in a couple weeks, the fiction piece that I’m writing with a friend that I don’t feel I can do justice to today with my additions, the blogs I’ve been reading as I’ve checked out the home spaces of all the new Followers that have joined me here this week (thank you again- I didn't realize that my Blogs I Follow list wasn't on my blogger profile. Fixed now) and the heavy binder with my novel draft and a big red pen sticking out the top, still I find that this is what I’m moved to do instead.
Thinking about varying posts I’ve read to the point of exhausting my eyes (and they feel like they’re being scooped out of my head with a large serving spoon at the moment) I just keep thinking one thing and I just have to say it.
I love writers.
It’s not just that I love writing- and I do- but I love writers.
The reason is that never have I met a group of people more dedicated to their art. Never have I seen such existential angst over details as small as the number of spaces after a period at the end of a sentence. Such willingness to put themselves out there in contests and critiques to let themselves be emotionally shish-kabobed or flambéed or exploded like a firework on the rapidly approaching Independence Day holiday here in the States.
I should tell you at this point that when it comes to blogging, this is not my first rodeo.
A long time ago, I blogged for a couple years in a completely different (yet still creative) type of community. I had a very modest readership but I was happy with it.
I wasn’t writing anything else at the time. I’d taken a hiatus from the group fiction projects I’d done for years and I hadn’t yet started my novel(s).
I have to admit I forgot how much it takes out of you. It’s not just the writing it’s the reading- and it’s not just the reading it’s the feeling all the things that I feel when I read what you write.
You guys are pretty amazing.
You’re parents. You’re holding down day jobs and running businesses and some of you serve/have served in the military. You’re musicians and poets and artists in so many other ways besides words. The feeling and emotion and skill at all these other things comes through so clearly in the work you’ve shared with the world on your blogs- but the truth is that it’s when you talk about your writing that I am the most amazed.
You don’t just smash words together like a slab of clay, start poking a finger at it and then see how it turns out at the end.
You’re sculptors, chiseling away each excess conjunction and as many adverbs as you can stand (though I for one do believe they still have their place. Sometimes, you just have to say something ‘softly’.)
You’re artisans working in mosaic- taking the fragments of colorful ideas and emotions and events and lovingly piecing them together into a much larger, overall piece of art.
You are all about the bigger picture while never forgetting the importance of nuance and detail.
You’re builders and destroyers of worlds; overthrowing kings or bringing heirs from the ashes.
You wear your heart on your sleeve and you bleed on the page, raw emotions that come through so clearly to me in scenes I’ll read where a writer’s sense of comedic timing or their deep experience of pain in the past echoes as if they were shouting through a bullhorn, even though the feelings were merely whispered or even only mouthed in the prose on the page.
In your words, in your characters, in your worlds, I see you.
Whether you’re writing teenage angst, sweeping epic torment of men who’ve been to war or the tales of the kind of love that so many live a lifetime and never get to know for themselves- you’re putting your soul on display for all to see. It’s a courageous, generous, and hopeful thing to do.
I know why you do it, too.
So few of you, I believe, are really thinking about the money it could bring (though yeah, it would be great if we could all make a living off of this we all know well by now they keep telling us we can’t and not to quit our day jobs).
Maybe some of you want to be famous- to be immortalized through your stories like the greats of times past.
Maybe you want to be the next Tolkien, Austen, Crighton, Sparks, Clancy, Rowling or King.
I really think though that for most of us- of you- it’s much more simple than that.
It’s about that whisper you’re sending out into the world.
It’s about wanting to be heard, without having to shout.
It’s about stories you love and people you want us to remember as if they were members of our own families: parents, friends, siblings, lovers long lost.
I just have to tell you today that I hear you, and the brilliant, colorful, unique and irreplaceable voice inside of you is exactly the reason why.
You write, because you have no choice. You write because those people you’ve created must have their say. Their stories must be told.
Despite the heartache, the insomnia, the doubts and rejection- it is always about leaving the emotions on the page and holding nothing back, giving so much of yourself away to a world that may or may not even appreciate it in your lifetime.
This is why I do, and always will love writers, especially the hungry, yearning, dreaming, aching, striving hopefuls.
I may not be able to bring home your books with me from Barnes and Noble (yet).
Still, I will remember those whispers that you so willingly send out into the world, and I thank you for them.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
FG: Hi Melody, I'm thrilled to meet ya! I know you said you were nervous, there's no need to be, promise. Here, have a seat. Have some tea. Have a Twinkie!
Have whatever will make you feel comfy and cozy.
M: Yes, please. *wraps it around shoulders like cape* Nothing is more self-assuring than a blanket.
FG: I concur. Okay, now that you're bundled up tighter than Charlie Brown on a winter day and have snacks, let's talk!
First of all, thank you for answering my question of the week on Thursday June 24th which was:
"What would you want to be remembered for/by?"
You said: "I've always hoped those who survived me would say something to the effect of, "She was always smiling and ready to laugh, even at her own expense, even when her own life wasn't all that much to smile about."
I really appreciated that answer because I've always told my family that the day I lose my sense of humor is the day to take me out to the back 40 and be done with it.
Tell us, what difficult challenge or situation in particular has laughter helped you get through? (even if you could only laugh about it afterward?)
M: Well, I do tend to be very socially awkward, somehow ending up in situations that would mortify the best of us (and I am truly not the best of us).
FG: Hey now! Please be nice to yourself. After all you’re the only you there is and if there was no you, what would the world do? We’d be fresh out of Melody the moment we need her most. You are exactly the you that you are meant to be.
*holds out tray* Cookie? :) Sorry, I know, you’re much too polite to talk with your mouth full and here I am interrupting you. My bad. Please, continue.
M: I've learned that I must be ready to laugh at myself, or else refuse to ever go to a party again. It helps when you realize that no one is out to embarrass you - really. (Example: Card game. “Everyone close your eyes”. I, being the squeaky-clean card player that I am, close my eyes. And keep them closed. And keep them closed. While everyone else is *cough-cheating-cough*. After several minutes, someone says, "Melody, you can open your eyes now." And then comes the startling realization that I've been the only person with my eyes closed for the past minute. Embarrassing, especially when there are...certain people...certain male people...that you want to be halfway mature around.
But the choice is mine at that point to blush and run away and hide, or to blush and laugh and stay. I stayed.) I've also seen how laughter aids grief; I haven't lost anyone extremely close to me, but I know how treasured one humorous moment can be when everything feels like it's falling down.
FG: Hey, why would you need to be mature around male people? Not all but a many of them attempt to elevate immaturity to an art form (none of MY readers of course…you fine people, gentlemen and scholars all, are the bee’s knees. In fact, I’m sure that at least two of you are actually the last of the Jedi…Well, besides me but that’s another story. We’ll discuss it later in Counsel chambers. May the Force be with you).
An aside, Melody, I have a personal favor to ask of you. Please do me a favor and promise you’ll read the post I have planned coming up about Keirsey Temperament Theory. I think that you’d find it very enlightening and it will help you a lot in those party situations (which I, at what I am certain is nearly twice your age, am still working on…that and the blushing thing. I’m a blusher, too, and you are so adorable I just want to spend all day feeding you cookies.)
Next question! You're an LM Montgomery fan (and a Gilbert Blythe fan! *sigh* They just don't build 'em like old Gilbert anymore do they?) Do you have a favorite book in the series- and (this may be a two part question but what the heck) if you've seen the films what is your favorite scene of all?
M: Oh, yes I've got a favorite book! I usually get blank stares when I mention it, because it's the last in the series and very few get that far. But Rilla of Ingleside, which focuses on Anne's youngest daughter, is one of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching books I've ever come across. It takes place during World War I, when brothers and lovers are traveling over the sea to join a war. Some don't make it back. *checks tears* So very sad. But as for books starring Anne, if I sound cliché saying Anne of Green Gables (which has a special place in my heart), I do love Anne of the Island. Because of Gilbert. *squee*
FG: I have got to order the whole set again today. I gave mine away to a friend years ago and I want to read them again- I loved that book. Thank you so much for reminding me about it.
Question 3: Reading around your blog I see that you mentioned having seen the only movie I happened to go see last- wait, this? It was this year right? I told you people, I don't go out much. Um, yeah, this year. The movie was called Leap Year.
This was one movie my daughter and I had to see owing to my (and now her) Ireland obsession. I adored it. You said that you enjoyed it, and you also said (may I quote you?) "Then, to top everything off, I went and saw Leap Year tonight. On the whole, I am not a big chick flick fan. I actually hold them in rather cold regard."
You enjoyed the movie even if you don't generally like the genre. Is there a book(s) you've read that gave you the same feeling, if any, that Leap Year did? Fun, romantic, and a really good time even if predictable?
M: Wow, you've traveled deep within the archives! I've got to say that Gordon Korman's Son of the Mob books are highly entertaining even if they feel a bit cliché. They make me laugh out loud. And Stephanie Tolan's Surviving the Applewhites is also hilarious (And the MC is home schooled, so I can relate...or I could before I graduated. Alas, my identity seems to be changing). Oh, and I'll admit that I'm quite addicted to James Patterson's Maximum Ride series. Can't figure out where the plot is going for the life of me, but it's the funniest, most romantic romp of all YA time.
FG: Hey- I was home schooled and my daughter has always been too (though technically now she's a freshman at an online high school so it's different now). Represent!
So let’s make this a two part question (cause I can!) and ask the same thing about films- romantic movies much? I'm partial to old ones, myself. Brigadoon and My Fair Lady and Desk Set and another really old one called The Penny Princess that I can’t find for the life of me anywhere anymore.) You?
M: Besides Pride & Prejudice? Penelope is a must, as is August Rush. And Ella Enchanted, even if they did make a poor adaptation of the book.
FG: I'm taking notes here, thank you! And Ella Enchanted- I enjoyed that movie- I didn’t realize (shame on me) that there was a book first! Now I can check that out too. You are teaching me a lot today, thank you!
Question 4: Again, quoting you from your blog- this is talking about something you were writing at the time, I'm assuming... (dangerous I know, but you'll correct me if I'm wrong, right?)
"But I simply can't write those romantic scenes now! I have to go in order, or else I'll get off the path, or miss something, or add something, which is even worse. And I'm quite a ways from when they meet up again. Ah, life with separated lovers is quite dismal. They're both moody now, moody and angsty and on edge. Ivolet is being all cold and unemotional and depressed towards Martin, and I'm a little scared to see what's happened to Daniel when I return to him. Poor Daniel. He's having to cope with a lot, I know. It's very cruel of me."
What is the very worst thing you've ever done to a character you've written? (you don't have to be terribly specific like give away plot points or names or characters, just tell me "I broke his heart, or I burned his farm to the ground and killed his pet iguana...you get the idea).
Alas, poor Iggy, we hardly knew ye…
M: A pet iguana...hmmmm. Well, I tend to be very good at killing parents (because orphaned characters are so much more interesting, it seems, though I'm not sure why!).
FG: Hmmm. As a parent I’ll try not to take that personally. (I’m kidding of course). It always bothers me how they kill the mothers though in Disney movies, always the mothers! What the heck! I’m sorry, please continue…how do you think your characters feel about you when you do these things?
M: I'm sure they hate me for that alone. I've given Ivolet the worst emotional turmoil ever in trying to decide which country she should be loyal to. I haven't done too much heart-breaking, but I think I broke Eric's (another book) heart by having the girl fall for someone else. (It's his own fault. I only figured out he liked her after I brought Jason into the story! *rolls eyes* Characters. Ugh.)
FG: Oh, honey, can I relate to that. I’m just a passenger. The characters stomp the pedal to the floor then take their hands off the wheel and mock me. It’s glorious.
Question 5: About writing things out of order- have you always known it was a bad idea for you to do it or did you find out the hard way? (like I did...with my second novel...still...in...revision...*sigh*...)
M: I found out the hard way, and I never let it happen after the first draft (which is just a hodge-podge of words that carry some semblance of a plot). The time it takes to go back and fix things pretty much equals the time I would spend just rewriting it.
FG: I’m so glad to know I’m not alone in that! You’re doing great by the way, I am having a wonderful time and I hope you are too!
Question 6: What can you tell me about your current work in progress (or one you're querying if you'd rather)?
M: I can tell you that it's YA, and it should appeal to fans of Shannon Hale, Gail Carson Levine, or Megan Whalen Turner. It's about Ivolet, a princess who has grown up in the country of Cosia without any knowledge of her true lineage in the enemy country of Ellan. When she's told that her blood is actually that of the people she's been taught to hate, her loyalty is torn in two different directions. She loves the land that raised her, but tradition dictates she fight on the side of her kin.
Complicating matters are her feelings for Cosia's crown-prince and the fact that betrayal can occur in any country, especially when you have a rightful claim to the throne. (I'll never be able to say that again! *copies and saves somewhere special for query-writing time*)
FG: Yes! Copy/paste! Copy/paste like the wind! Dang, girl, do save that! That is a brilliant pitch, I would love to read that book. It sounds romantic and adventurous and yet also feels like the characters are people with problems you can grasp- sometimes I get a little lost in people’s fantasy worlds, to be honest. I never can remember the differences between, say, the sacred order of this and the holy sisterhood of that…and sometimes the names are so long I’m wondering if I’m reading about a princess or that angry volcano in Iceland that's been spitting ash all over my beloved Ireland. So thank you for giving us names we can actually say. Good on ya.
Question 7: Another interesting fact that I learned about you from your blog: You've never read Twilight. I must confess: neither have I. Nor do I intend to.
After you spoke about that fact also said:
"I've never written paranormal romance.
"There was a quick moment where I wondered if something was wrong with me. After all, pretty much every other authoress is writing these things, and we all know it's because of the Twilight trend. Because falling in love with sparkly vampires is all the rage."
FG (continuing): I'm not writing paranormal either (though I did pause to wonder if my leading man in my first novel was determined halfway through to actually have fangs or gills or sprout horns/and/or/wings and a halo or even if he turned out to be the grandson of a centaur if I'd have a better shot at getting published.)
What DO you write and WHY do you write it?
M: Again, I'm flattered that you performed all this research! I write what I call princessy or nobility YA novels, neither of which is a genre. Basically, it's fantasy without the magic, with dash of romance. (If anyone knows what this called, I would be in your debt always!)
Also, I write dystopian YA (Which I used to call 'futuristic'. Dystopian is a much prettier word, though.). And then, of course, there's some smatterings of historical fiction (which I try to avoid because the need for accuracy scares me), true fantasy, and sci-fi in the 'My Stories' folder, as well.
FG: I have got to go back and check some of that out, and believe me the idea of accuracy in HR scares me too, so you’re not alone in that.
I love that- fantasy without the magic. Almost sounds like, say, Fairy Tales for the 21st Century? But no fairies, right? So…hmm. Suddenly I’m thinking that it’s more along the lines of The Black Arrow (set during the War of the Roses, I loved that book as a teen and in fact I have to remember to blog the story about it). Sounds to me like romantic adventure might be a good guess but I hope our readers will chime in and help you out finding that elusive label!
Aww, time for the last question already. Ooo, this may be my favorite. It may also be the most random. In your Favorite Authors list on your Blogger profile you listed Dumas.
I love little more than men who know how to buckle their swash.
Which Musketeer is your favorite, and why? (and no, the candy bar does not count...)
M: What? I can't pick the candy bar? Because it's seriously my favorite because of its lack of nuts.
FG: *opens mouth to speak- stops- closes it again and nods* (I'm only teasing, Melody. I actually really like those too. Mmm. Three Musketeers bar...)
M: But really, it's Athos. I'm such a sucker for angst. Mysterious, brooding, secretive... *swoon*
FG: Oh yeah, his name really should have been Pathos shouldn’t it? I have to admit now that every time I think of him, I think of Keifer Sutherland. It was a silly little film but I loved the Disney version.
I’ve had so much fun talking with you Melody, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and talk to me. You’re absolutely as sweet as you can be and I hope lots of readers here will come by and check out your blog!
Before I let you go, I’ll ask the question I ask everyone- if you had to be trapped in an elevator for an hour with anyone who has ever lived, who would you pick and why?
M: This is hard. I've actually been thinking about it, and it's still hard. There's so many choices! Probably C. S. Lewis, because I would just love to pick his brain and hope some of his brilliance lingered on me when the elevator finally started working. Just half of one percent of his brilliance would be enough. The other possibility is Jenny Lind, a famous singer during the late 1800s. I would want her to sing me a song, for they say she had the voice of an angel and there are NO RECORDINGS of her voice.
FG: What completely cool answers. Thank you again so much for letting me get to know a bit about you. It was absolutely delightful.
M: Thank you very much for having me! I was very honored, and I shall never forget that you were the first person to ever think I was worth interviewing. It was so much fun!
Oh, and one more thing - I think your name is beautiful, February Grace. :)
FG: Aww, shucks. Thanks, kid, you’re an absolute joy and you are definitely worth interviewing. Here, have another cookie…
Thanks to everyone for reading! You can stop by and see what Melody is up to and writing about over on her blog! I will be checking in when I can to see what this fabulous young Authoress is up to.
Stay tuned for my interview with PiedmontWriter on Monday, and then (hopefully) Wednesday with Tim!
In the meantime…well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
That’s a wrap! I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend.
I’m overwhelmed by all the positive comments (and all the new followers- squeeee! Thank you!) following my chat with Creepy Query Girl yesterday. Thanks again to her and to every single one of you who took the time to comment and are taking the time to read.
I hope I managed to comment back to you all. If I missed you forgive me it wasn’t intentional- my eyes are seriously paying for the overuse the past few days and I have to watch it for the next few.
Before I get to my next interview (and you’re gonna love it and the interviewee she’s as cute as a button- and I love buttons.) I’d like to formally accept now the One Lovely Blog award that Tessa was so kind in granting me!
Thank you Tessa, I will always remember you gave me my first blog award ever! The picture couldn’t be prettier- two of my favorite things, flowers and teacups and look Ma! It even matches my blog template! (In truth my mother isn’t on the internet but trust me that’s a good thing.) This is so sweet, thanks again.
In accordance with the rules of the award I would like to pass it along to the following bloggers (please forgive me if you already have it- I’m trying to only give it to people who don’t but I might have somehow missed seeing it on your blog. I’m still new to the writerly/blog community and getting to know folks). If some of you aren’t into this whole thing please feel free to just ignore me…
1. Melody @ I Am An Authoress
2. Lisa and Laura @ Lisa and Laura Write
3. Cruella Collette @ The Giraffability of Digressions
4. Julie @ Julie Musil
5. Alison Coffey @ Petunia Town Girl
6. Anne @ Anne R. Allen
7. Bohemienne @ Capitol Ideas
8. Carolyn @ Checkerboard Squares
9. Stina @ Seeing Creative
10. Sherry @ Write About Now
11. Olleymae @ MBW Creates
12. The Empress @ Good Day, Regular People
13. Shannon @ Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe
14. Anne @ Piedmont Writer
And lastly, just because I just HAVE no choice *evil grin*
15. Tim @ Tim's Cornucopia 2
(No, Tim, I don't actually expect you to post it but I'm giving it to you anyway).
If I missed you, please don't feel sad and or bluer than Eeyore on a blustery day. If you already have it please don't smack me for my inability to focus on the screen today. I'd love to give ya'll awards. Hmm. I may have to think on a design and name for that...
Okay, back in a minute with another fabulous aspiring writer to get to know: Melody!
Friday, June 25, 2010
I am so excited because I asked- and this is the first time I’ve directly asked- a blogger I find endlessly entertaining to submit to my unique brand of interview questions and she said yes! I’m so happy!
This interview is not to be filed under the weekly Bru Interviews YOU segment- even though our lovely (and multi-talented, as you’ll soon discover) guest is a fellow (currently, I can’t believe it’ll be the case for long) unagented, unpublished writer. Please do not think I say that as a bad thing. I say this as she’s in the fray with us all- crafting revisions, pondering rules, living through rejections- and she’s doing it with wit and style. I tip my stylishly quirky crocheted hat to you.
I mean, I was entertained by her before but after THIS ...well, you know I had to get to know more about her.
So we’ll file this under another new blog segment that I like to call Hoopy Froods Who Really Know Where Their Towels Are! (or, for those of you who haven’t read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy yet- and if you haven’t, why not? You really MUST!) it could be called Whoa There, You’ve Got My Undivided Attention Now!
Please welcome the fashionable, unbelievably impressive writer and adored, award-winning blogger Katie Lyn Mills AKA Creepy Query Girl!
FG: I am humbled to be in you glamorous yet unpretentious presence! Thank you for joining me. Now, when you’re famous I’ll be able to say "Ha! Take that, Entertainment Weekly, I interviewed her on my dink blog back in the day before you put her on your cover holding her best-selling, record breaking book so nyah.”
Where to begin, well, let’s see. Let’s start simple. I love your blog. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
KLM: First of all I have to ask- Mom? Is that you pretending to be a blogger? I don’t know anyone else who would compliment me like that. I’m blushing crimson here. Thanks so much for inviting me!
FG: Yes, it’s me. Clean your room! Sorry, I just had to say that. You started blogging…
KLM: I started blogging in April, so it’s only been a few months. I was stalking blogs long before I began blogging myself. I finished my first book in January 2009 and since then it’s just been a learning process and there’s just so much information out there for writers through author and agent blogs. I started off stalking the big wigs and then slowly fell in love with the blogging community as a whole and knew I wanted to be a part of it. I didn’t just jump right in though. I didn’t want to do it because I felt I ‘needed’ to. I wanted it to be a FUN part of this ever-dreaded querying process. It wasn’t until the name ‘Creepy Query Girl’ came to me along with her voice and style that I knew the time was right.
FG: Your characters see dead people (and other supernatural kinda stuff) what draws you to writing those kinds of stories and what genre do your books fall into? (I think you write YA, yes? No? Slap me accordingly with the facts please)
KLM: Yes, I do write YA. I love YA. It might be the teen in me that never grew up or it could be the fact that the first full series of books I read were YA and the genre just stuck with me. I’ve always been intrigued with the idea of people communicating with ghosts. I loved shows like Lisa Williams and John Edwards and I like to get my tarot cards read and all that rot. But I definitely would never want to be haunted. Real ghosts totally freak me out. But writing about them is ok. :)
My second book isn’t paranormal at all but YA romance with a Pagan teen as the mc. I’ve always been curious about the Neo Pagan religion and ‘witchcraft’ and I had SO much fun researching in order to create an authentic Pagan teen and not some superhuman with incredible powers.
FG: Hey, I did that too once only with a…un…supernatural…Catholic Irish guy…so that’s completely different. Yours is way up there on the cool-o-meter. I love the idea of realistic characters in books that teens can really relate to so thanks for that!
You live in France, which is incredibly cool so I have to mention it. For those of us who don’t know but are really curious, what precipitated your move there and what is the best part about living abroad?
KLM: I first came to Paris to study French when I was a junior in college. I met my now husband back then when I was asked to sing with a French rock group. He was the drummer. He came back the U.S. with me during my final year of college and we moved back to France together in 2004. We’ve been here ever since. The best part of living abroad is the different viewpoints you acquire. My eyes have been opened to so many different ways of living, culture, food, ideas and world events that I was just never exposed to when I lived in the U.S.
FG: Wow, you married the drummer and moved to France. I am still definitely not your mom but you are rocketing up my Coolest Lives Ever list. You have three kids. For the sake of those of us who have less and still struggle to find the time to write- please enlighten us. How do you do it?
KLM: Well, I work part time as an English teacher for a French primary school. I teach twelve hours of class a week but it comes down to me working one full day a week and three mornings. My two oldest are in school and my youngest does nap during the day so I try and get some blogging done then. It’s all a matter of organization. I’m one of those people that has their meals for the week planned out, the clothes laid out the night before, etc…I write a lot of my posts before hand and I jot down ideas when they come to me and try not to put too much pressure on myself. I also type really really fast (it’s like Darwin’s law. If I didn’t evolve, I wouldn’t survive) and my laptop is my lifeline.
FG: Yay, laptops! I just got one of my own and I still can’t believe I’m not chained to the desk in the corner anymore. Okay, changing tracks. Steampunk Smackdown that may or may not include caffeinated beverages, Brunch in the Garden armed with a croquet mallet to keep all those Historical Fiction-type Lords’ hands to themselves, or classic Afternoon Tea with Scones and finger-sandwiches- perhaps on the ceiling?
KLM: Afternoon tea with scones and ginger sandwiches- definitely on the ceiling. When I was a teenager I went on a classic lit kick and would only read Bronté and Austin. I even started drinking tea and plaiting my hair…
FG: Oh, man, I am so glad to know that I’m not the only one. I spent an embarrassing amount of time during my youth wearing ankle length gray skirts and a lace dickie.
Speaking of clothes…what would you wear to the above chosen event?
KLM: Something from Jane Austin’s closet? With a feather?
FG: If you were a shoe what shoe would you be (Myself, I’m a Converse All Star Chuck Taylor High Top in Pink. Or a Doc Marten Steel-toed Combat Boot. The jury is still out.)
KLM: Jimmy Choo pink patent leather pump. Don’t ask me why. I don’t even own a Jimmy Choo but I like his name and in the movies these are always the ones the dog eats so it seems appropriate….
FG: What is the best vacation experience you’ve ever had?
KLM: I’ve been lucky enough to see some beautiful places, like the island of Mauritius off the coast of Madagascar, and the Turkish Mediterranean. But I have to say my BEST vacation was spent with my husband and two girls (I was VERY pregnant with our third) when we went down to the south of France on our first vacation as a ‘family’. It was just awesome.
FG: Now this shows you how much of a reformed toddler Mommy I am- I hear Madagascar and I think one thing: Zoboomafoo. And since I’m ever the ray of sunshine, how about the worst vacation?
KLM: Worst vacation would have to be Christmas spent in England with some distant relatives. They were great, but I was homesick and for some reason my debit card got eaten and I was one broke, miserable twenty year old.
FG: Your totally re-Tweet and Youtube linkage worthy Mary Poppins Parody is completely inspired. What specifically, if anything prompted you to write (and perform!) it? Thank you for doing that, by the way. The performance really was stellar- you have a gorgeous singing voice!
KLM: Wow, thanks! My kids are big Mary Poppins fans and I’ve got a whole connection with Julie Andrews that many of my followers might remember (she helped me write my first ms) I just thought it would be fun to send an advertisement out into the world for a fairy god agent, much like Jane and Michael did for their magical nanny.
FG: Speaking of your singing, did you ever consider going into music professionally?
KLM: Eh- my parents were professional musicians for most of my life. They had their ‘day jobs’ but spent most weeks gigging, had a manager and travelled all over New England. My family was really musical but I can’t say I was every really passionate about making music. Not like I am with writing in any case.
FG: Well you’ve sure got pipes, sister. Your kids are lucky, what pretty lullabies they must get. Still on the subject of music- your three favorite songs of all time. Ready, set go!
KLM: Oh god. I have the worst taste ever in music and movies- which is why I tried to stay away from them on my blog profile. Just off the top of my head ‘ Summer Lovin’ from Grease. ‘Sweet Emotion’ – Aerosmith ‘ You Can Leave Your Hat On’- Joe Cocker.
FG: Now that is an eclectic list! Ugh now I’m flashing back to a point in my childhood where I wore ponytails and bobby socks…moving right along…Do you listen to music (or the television, or some other specific kind of background noise when you’re writing?
KLM: The television is always on and most often times my children are repeating ‘Mom, mom, mom, mom’ like some kind of mantra…
FG: Are you a morning person, a night owl or somewhere in between?
KLM: Both. I wake up early to take care of the kiddies and hubby gets home late every night (around 11:30 pm) and since I have trouble sleeping before he gets home, I wait up for him. I don’t get a lot of sleep but once you’ve had three kids in a four year span, you get used to sleepless nights.
FG: Best Writing advice you ever got?
KLM: This sucks. Do it over.
FG: Do you plot first or come up with characters first?
KLM: I plot first. And I learn about my characters as I go and then flesh them out after the first draft.
FG: Finally, the question I ask everyone- if you had to be trapped in an elevator for an hour with anyone who has ever lived, who would you pick and why?
KLM: Jesus. I figure he’s the only one who could answer my questions better than Google.
Thank you, Katie Lyn Mills (AKA Creepy Query Girl!!!) for allowing me to take time out of your life for everyone’s amusement here. I hope you enjoyed this and I really look forward to going up to you at a book signing someday and saying “Hey, remember me? No? Of course you don’t. Could you please just autograph my copy of Love Potion N° NOT! (love, love, love that title, btw…) for me? Please, and thank you. No, really, you don’t need to summon security. I’ll go quietly…”
KLM: LOL- THANK YOU for having me!
Thanks for reading, everybody! You can keep up with the creative adventures of Creepy Query Girl here, on her blog, follow her on Twitter, and otherwise become another one of the groupies she so clearly deserves. I already have!
I have an announcement to make.
I promise you in one second I'll get to my amazing recent chat with the one and only Creepy Query Girl.
First- let me thank everybody who was brave enough to venture an answer to yesterday's question!
After two weeks test-piloting the weekly interview feature, response has been great as far as readers (and lookie-loos, helloooo lurkers! I'm so happy to have you here, please, don't be shy!) but not so much with people actually participating.
Therefore- I won't be continuing it, at least right now. If/when I do interviews, I will do them less frequently and without the whole contest-feeling to it. I'll just approach bloggers that I find I'd like to chat with (as I did with CQG) and if they're gracious enough to put up with my shananigans, here they'll be.
BUT!!! First, I must thank the three of you who responded yesterday with such great and varied answers- I want to interview the lot of you! I'll run an interview a day over the next few days and nothing could be better to kick off a BruInterviewAThon than my amazing Q&A sit down with Creepy Query Girl.
So Melody, Piedmont Writer, and Tim please give me until tomorrow to look around your blogs and come up with your personalized questions- then you can get them back to me over the weekend and they will run here in the next few days on Pitch Slapped! Thanks so much to everyone who took an interest.
Back in just a sec with Creepy Query Girl!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I am however not feeling well at all so I am programming the bloggy thingie to send this out at 12:01 AM on Thursday for me in advance- hopefully it'll work.
If you'd like me to consider your comment as an entry for this week's interview, here's the rules:
You must be 18 or older and an unpublished, unagented writer. By that I mean no book deals, past or present. Short stories, self publishing, scary online sci-fi or fantasy fan fiction, poetry worthy of the Vogons, bring it: doesn't faze me. No books. If you blog, I love you already.
You have until midnight Eastern Standard Time tonight, June 24, to answer the question.
Friday (say, before noonish?) I'll announce the winner, who will receive (or may already have received) their interview questions via email (link is in my profile in the meantime if you have questions).
You must, must, MUST have a readily available email address listed in your blogger profile or on your blog when you enter. I just can't burn eyesight trying to hunt you up. This is a dealbreaker no matter how much I love your answer.
Please note that I will expect that as a courtesy that you will return the finished questionnaire (eight questions. plus the standard bonus one that you can find on my previous interviews) within 24 hours. This is because I want to post the finished interview over the weekend.
Think of it this way, it's good practice for when you're hugely famous and have to juggle interviews and writing deadlines into your schedule! If you don't follow through then the interview will be cancelled. If you know you won't have time this week, you can always try next week.
And no sneaky anonymous commenting- this is about promotion and I can't promote people who won't tell me who they are and what they write no matter how much they may want me to.
The general disclaimer- I am not an agent, nor am I connected to anyone in the industry. I am just another unpublished, unagented writer just like you and I am trying to do something nice for you.
If you choose to participate in this little meet and greet opportunity you are doing so of your own free will and you will not blame me in any way, ever, for anything that may result from it or happen to you. In other words, you can't get blood out of a rock so don't even think about going all legal on my ass.
I am not being compensated in any way for promoting anyone that I will interview here and I reserve the right to refuse to publish interview responses that are obscene, rude, or that just don't feel right to me cause I'm an INFJ and I have a sense about people, yes I do. After all- it's all subjective right?
Since the question will be posted beneath this disclaimer every week if you answer the question that will be acknowledgement that you've read and understand the rules/disclaimer.
Whew I'm glad that's over I hate that part.
Okay, here we go!
Today's Thursday Question: Everyone wants to be memorable, cause you know being forgotten really sucks. What would you most want people to remember you for/by?
Looking foward to your answers. Oh, and don't miss my bonus feature this week, a very entertaining peek inside the mind of the one and only Creepy Query Girl which will be posted on Friday. Fun will be had by all- it sure was had by me asking her the questions and reading her responses!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Tonight I'd like to introduce you to Bohemienne. Yes, she’s going by just the one name for now. Very mysterious. She must be really cool, like Madonna or Cher or…Fabio…or, well you understand what I’m saying. After reading her responses in this interview I know she’s destined for greatness and in a class all her own! Let’s get right into it, shall we?
FG: Thank you, Bohemienne, for joining us. Looking over your blog, it leapt out at me that you've read twenty-two books already this year, that is impressive...most impressive. I bow to your superior ocular capabilities. How fast can you read an average sized novel?
B: My daily work commute involves a train ride out of the city and back, so I get plenty of reading time! I average a book a week if I’m only reading on the train, but if the story’s really engrossing, that’ll spill over into lunch breaks, grocery store lines, dog walks… you get the idea. I try not to read at home, though. That’s my writing time!
FG: Dog walks! Yikes! That’s much harder than, say, patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time I’ve never understood why people get so thinged up over that. You’re great at multi-tasking. If I tried that I’d walk into the first stationary object ahead of me.
Next question. You find yourself with a day all to yourself- nowhere to go, no one to report to, no work to do- but you have to spend it out of the house. Where would you go and what would you do when you got there?
B: Sounds like a perfect day for editing, sprawled on a blanket on my stomach in the park, with my Red Pen of Doom. Of course, my Sheltie would spend the whole day trying to crawl into my lap. He’s mortified by the burden of freedom that his park leash grants him. And I’d probably get distracted by whatever book was in my purse. The likelihood of an unintentional nap is pretty high.
FG: Mmm. Unintentional naps…wait a minute.
“He’s mortified by the burden of freedom that his park leash grants him.” Damn, girl! That’s showing off some major writerly (it’s a word here on this blog, don’t worry) chops! That is like fantastic, one sentence flash fiction, right there, I love it!
Also, I loved your answer to the crayon question (Copper was the color crayon you said you'd be if you were one). Colors are one of the things I appreciate most in life when it comes to my sight. What is the most beautiful sight you've ever seen in your life?
B: After five years completing my Bachelor’s degrees… two years waiting for the final confirmation on my job offer… three frantic weeks of packing and hunting down an apartment… and two days on the road, the most beautiful sight I ever saw was Washington, DC, castle-like buildings teetering high up on the cliffs overlooking the Potomac River, peeking through the trees that whizzed by on the George Washington Parkway. I’d spent all my life trying to get there, and at long last, I could call it home.
FG: Wow…that was beautiful- what an amazing image. Thank you.
Now…tell me, please, what would mean the most to you about getting a novel (or ten) published?
B: It would probably mean a heart attack and a bottle of Rodenbach!
FG: *hysterical laughter*
B: Okay, that’d be just my initial reaction. In the long term, I’d feel tremendous pride in being more than just a cultural consumer, in becoming a producer as well. I want to add to that frantic current of ideas and art and words, whether my writing endures beyond me or not.
FG: Believe it or not, I hope and believe you’re adding something to it right now. I’m certainly not ever going to forget you after these responses.
What literary character, good or evil, has made the most lasting impression on you, and why?
B: Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse V—one of the very few books I’ve read more than once. Some things he did were cowardly, and others brave. He wasn’t bad or good, he was just a victim of circumstance, unstuck in time! What an unusual character study, a main character who’s both unchanged and always in flux.
FG: Dude. That answer was so deep it’s going to take me a little while to climb out and catch up to you. You’re doing a great job with this- when you’re famous you’ll already have the interview thing down cold already. You and Alison (our Episode One Interviewee) are totally making me sure I made the right decision in undertaking these chats. Thank you.
So, speaking of the future- where would you like to be in five years time?
B: In five years, I’d be thrilled to be right where I am, only amplified! Working where I work, but at a more advanced level. Living in my beloved DC, but almost ready to buy instead of rent. Writing like crazy, but writing the next book in my already-published series, instead of scrambling to polish and rewrite and revise the first, unpublished one.
FG: Switching tracks from the path of your life to someone else’s- if someone gave you a million dollars and told you that you had to give it away in a way that would vastly improve someone else's life, what would you do with the money?
B: I’d create a college fund for my boyfriend’s niece. She’s scary-smart, athletic, and eager to understand the world around her. I want to ensure she has the right tools at her disposal to accomplish whatever she wants.
FG: Ooo, scary-smart, I know a couple people like that. My kid is scary-smart. Girls these days, I tell ya. Girlpower rules!
We’re almost to the end here, tell me, what would you like to tell the world at large about your writing? Pitch, girl, pitch!
B: I write about situations—weird ones, ridiculous ones, creepy ones, real ones. But I flatter myself to think that they’re always fresh. Nothing aggravates me more than a book or movie that feels like its plot is on a racetrack with certain checkpoints it has to hit along the way.
My current manuscript is a dark fantasy story with no real heroes, only evils and lesser evils. I love the fantasy genre, but it needs some anti-heroes (or in my book, anti-heroines) who aren’t Prophesied Chosen Ones with limitless reserves of courage and valor. And my YA paranormal series gets to the root of what I love about the paranormal and macabre—the unsettling sense you get in Lovecraft, or Twin Peaks, that things aren’t what they seem, that anything is possible, and your sanity is at stake. Enough with the vampire coteries already.
FG: *standing ovation * Yea! Yea, verily, I say, sing it, sister! There is more to life than Chosen Ones and guys with fangs!
You’ve been an absolute joy to talk to and get to know a bit about, Bohemienne, thank you again for stopping by and sitting down with me and introducing yourself to us all. Meeting you has definitely made my day a better one.
Before I let you get back to reading and walking the dog (please look both ways before crossing the street- sorry, I’m a mom, I can’t help it) the bonus question I plan to ask every person I interview:
If you could be trapped for an hour in an elevator with any person who has ever lived, who would it be and why?
B: Fyodor Dostoevsky, but I’d probably spend the hour trying to steal all his Awesome for myself instead of getting us rescued.
If you’d like to keep up on what Bohemienne and her gorgeous little mortified Sheltie are up to, you can visit her blog here. I know I will!
That’s all for now.
Remember, about 12:00 AM on Thursday EST I’ll post the next question to answer for your chance to be chosen to be our next Bru Interview! You’ll have until midnight Thursday night EST to post your reply in the comments section. Then before noon on Friday I’ll post my choice and then you’ll read their interview next weekend here on Pitch Slapped!
Thanks again to Bohemienne. Hope to see you soon as you wing your way around the blogosphere, and for sure to get a book signed one day when you get published!