Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spotlight: Kathy Otten


Today, we have Romance Author Kathy Otten visiting us at Just Write!  Let's ask Kathy some questions. . .


~  What kind of stories/books do you write?
I love writing historical romance, especially from the time of the Civil War through the end of the Cowboy era.

~  How long have you been writing?
I’ve made up stories and written them down since I was a kid.

~   How long have you been writing and seriously pursuing publication?

I submitted a contemporary romance to Harlequin about sixteen years ago. They told me my hero wasn’t heroic enough.  I didn’t know what that meant or how to fix it, so I put everything on the back burner until about six years ago. My oldest was a senior in high school then, and I had more time to join writers groups.  I learned about point of view, show vs. tell, character goals, and hooks.  I rewrote some of my old novels and came up with some new short stories.  Once I worked up my courage, I began the long process of submitting to agents and editors.

~  How many manuscripts did you complete before you sold?
Well, I had the one novel, which had been rejected by Harlequin and another historical western that I was submitting to agents.  I had a third novel, but it wasn’t finished, because I’d come to the middle and didn’t know where to go with it.  But I also had a Civil War short story, Redemption of a Cavalier, which I wrote after reading the book, Characters and Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card. This story which kind of began in my own personal point-of-view exercise, evolved into a story I thought I could submit.

~  Please tell us about receiving “The Call.”
I’m afraid I never really received, “The Call.”  I found a little blurb about The Wild Rose Press in a news letter from my writers organization.  They are an e-publisher, but at the time, I had no idea what that meant.  I didn’t even own a computer.  My daughter helped me retype my old-fashioned, typed pages into a file on her lap top.  She set me up with an e-mail account and I submitted the query letter for my Civil War short story.
I was elated when I got a letter back asking for the story.  The editor read it and asked for changes, which once again I had to have my daughter help me.  Once they were done and submitted they offered me a contract, naturally via email.  And that was my beginning.

~  To expand on your "Call Story"— What did you do when you got the call or read the email?  Scream?  Faint?
I’m not exactly the scream or fainting type.

~  How did you feel when you found out you sold?
I still didn’t have a computer so I would have to ask my daughter every day after school, if I could check my email.  She would grumble and say hurry up, because she always wanted to scroll around the internet and chat with her friends.  So when I saw the email about the contract I was happy, but not quite sure what to do next.

~  Who was the first person you told?

I was in my daughter’s bedroom at the time so I naturally told her.  She wasn’t exactly jumping up and down.  It was more like a, “Oh, that’s good.”

~   How did you celebrate?
I never celebrated.  My daughter then had to create a file to save the contract and the other info that came with it.  Afterward there was an exasperating (for my daughter at least) explanation on how to go to the library and print out the contract.  When I told my husband at dinner, all he said was, “How much money are you going to get?”

I now have my own computer and I’m gradually learning to use it without constantly having to ask the kids how to do something.

My newest story is a historical western, holiday novella, which was released for Christmas Dec. 9th.



An Ordinary Angel
by Kathy Otten

Available Now
The Wild Rose Press


A lifetime of polite indifference is all Julianne Spencer sees when she envisions a future with her current suitor, Mr. Terrel Lee Parker.  She is looking for someone more passionate, more heroic, who can love her for who she really is and not the proper young lady she pretends to be.  Her future seems hopeless until Christmas Eve when fate drops a wounded outlaw at her door and she comes to realize true heroes can be found inside even ordinary men.

Excerpt-G

“I-I don’t hate you, Mr. Parker.” In all her nineteen years, Julianne Spencer had never been so ashamed of her actions. She shifted uncomfortably, suddenly feeling as shy and awkward as Mr. Parker usually appeared.
His dark gaze searched her face for just a moment, as though judging her sincerity, then acknowledged her statement with a slight nod.
“I-I am so sorry for my part in that conversation you overheard. Those comments—what Maggie repeated—what I said—I didn’t really mean it. I was just…”
He nodded again.
“But I…”
“I accept your apology, Miss Julianne. And you needn’t worry. I’ll not impose myself on you again. Merry Christmas.” Ever the southern gentleman, he politely touched his finger to his hat brim and stepped into the street.
“Mr. Parker, wait!” Anxiety gave her voice an edge rarely heard in her usual dulcet tones. He swung to face her, his brow arched in surprise.
“I wanted to say—that is— You’re a nice man. You have excellent manners. You never swear, or smoke, or drink. You dress well. You are polite and articulate. But after all these months of church socials, dances, and Sunday dinners, I-I’ve never seen you dirty.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I’ve never seen you dirty.” Her shoulders rose and fell as she heaved a frustrated sigh. “I mean, I still don’t know your favorite food. I don’t know what makes you angry or how to make you laugh. And I don’t believe you know me any better.
“I can almost see the two of us, ten years down the road, still caught up in this cold relationship of polite indifference. I am sorry, Mr. Parker, but you deserve more than that, and so do I.”

***

You can contact Kathy through her web site at www.kathyotten.com


Thanks for a great interview, Kathy!!!

AM   :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

BICHOK!!! Time again!!!

***



Time to state the weekly writing goals.  Mine are the same as last week, or close enough.

Writing goals for the week: 

1.  Finish up the lessons for the online class.

2.  Post guest blog on Wednesday.

3.  Write one page on wip.

I didn't get it all done last week.  I'm hoping for better luck this week.

Here's to a productive writing week!!!

Happy Writing!!!

AM   :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

TGIF: Check In!!!

.



Well, it's Friday once again.  Time to check on our writing progress.

This week, I've been working like mad on my lessons for my online class.  I gave this workshop live last May, but I'm having to revamp it to teach online.  I've made great strides and I'm pleased with my progress.  I'll be continuing onward through the weekend and into next week, tweaking the lessons.

Regarding my submission:  The editor liked the changes I made, but now wants me to lengthen the story.  It seems I left out the middle!!!  She gave some helpful suggestions and is willing to work with me to help make it a stronger story.  That's good news, indeed.

I hope everyone got some writing done this week.  Have a great weekend!!!

Happy Writing!!!

AM   :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BK Reeves On Writing: Fahrenheit 451

.


Here I’ve always thought Ray Bradbury’s 1953 iconographic novel Fahrenheit 451 was about censorship. Not so, says the author in an interview that has just come to my attention.  Amy Johnston, writing in the tabloid, LA Weekly, says Mr. Bradbury is adamant in insisting that his novel is not about censorship in any way.

Mr. Bradbury vehemently contends that he wrote the book as a warning against television, which was becoming widespread in 1953. He wanted to show that watching the tube would kill reader’s interest in books.
  
I’m not alone in believing this futuristic novel is brilliant on every level, beginning with its title. Paper ignites and burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit.
    
But I’ve discussed this novel with many writers and readers over the years. Without exception, they thought its main theme was censorship. Reviewers do, too. Countless authors writing countless essays agree it explores the effect government censorship had on that particular culture. When the people in their extremity are reduced to memorizing entire books to save them for posterity, the message is clear. Burning books make them infinitely more precious.   
  
A worthy piece of fiction can have several themes, some deeper than others. Sometimes a writer won’t know what h/she is writing about until a novel is finished, or ten years have passed, whichever comes first.
  
In nonfiction books, articles, essays and think pieces, you must know your theme upfront. You tell your reader what you’re writing about. You present a thematic statement, very specific and clear as a bell. 
  
Not so with fiction. A log line is a sound bite for your novel. It probably won’t mention what the book is actually about. I’ve written many novels and only once did I know the theme going in. I’ve always been intrigued by how individuals handled personal power. So my theme was that familiar old saw, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

And I wondered what would happen to a man, or a woman, if they were given unlimited power? Five-hundred pages later, I had my answer. The most ethical person would find it difficult to retain even a scrap of his or her humanity if given god-like powers.
  
A novel’s theme will seem different to different readers. I saw a lady rush up to Tom Townsend at a conference and enthusiastically explain what she thought one of his young adult novels was about. Tom squinted at the ceiling, shrugged and drawled, “Works for me.”   Tom was unthreatened by what his readers thought his books “meant.” Some authors feel that way, others do not. And that poses an interesting question. Does a book belong to its author or its readers or both?
  
Ray Bradbury is still fighting for what he says his theme was when he wrote his masterpiece over six decades ago. Dear Mr. Bradbury: We readers do not believe your book is about television killing (burning) books. We have always believed that Fahrenheit 451 is about censorship. Ask anyone. #


Thanks for the insightful essay, BK!!!


AM    :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

BICHOK!!! Again . . .

.


Here we go again!!!  Another Monday, another chance to post our writing goals . . .

My goals for the week:

Work on lessons for the March online class.

*  Write one page of the wip.

*  Finalize guest bloggers for March.

Just a quick note that Saturday's Book Signing was a smashing success.  It was our first one not held at a book store.  It was at my hair salon and oh my!!!  Those ladies sure bought the books!!!  There were five authors (we call ourselves The Roses of Houston) and we had a blast!!!  The customers enjoyed all the goodies and refreshments and door prizes.  We even scored another signing gig for June!!!  Great fun!!!

Where have you had the most success for book signings!!!  Want to share???

Also, what are your writing goals for the week?

Happy Writing!!!

AM   :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

TGIF!!! Checking In!!!

.
 
How did we do this week?  Well, I worked on the novella revisions for the editor and I'm almost finished.  WooHoo!!!

I also had to prepare for tomorrow's Book Signing at Absolute Hair in Pasadena.  Made the basket, bought refreshments, packed books and supplies and goodies.  I usually sign with four other authors:  Skhye Moncrief, Anna Kathryn Lanier, Emma Lai and Elizabeth Pina.  We always have such a good time at our book signings!!! 

Other than that, I didn't get any of my other goals done.

Oh well, next week . . .

How did you do on your goals?

Happy Weekend and Happy Writing and Happy Valentine's Day!!!

AM   :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spotlight: Rebecca J. Clark


Today, we have Romance Author Rebecca J. Clark visiting us at Just Write!  She will be giving away a stiletto book thong to one lucky person who posts to this blog today.

Let's ask Rebecca some questions . . .
  
~  What kind of stories/books do you write?
Right now, I’m focusing on sexy, humorous contemporaries. But I also enjoy writing deeper, more emotional stories, too.

~  How long have you been writing?
I’ve written all my life and have wanted to be a novelist since I was about 11 years old, but it wasn’t until my first child turned a year old that I started taking my writing seriously.

~   How long did you seriously pursue publication before selling?
Well, my first novel comes out this month and my first child is 17. During those years, I raised two young children, moved several times, and had several years of writing drought where I questioned my sanity on continuing along this path to publication. So, I wasn’t writing nonstop during those years, but still. It took me a LONG time.

~  How many manuscripts did you complete before you sold?
Six, most of which will never, ever see the light of day. Thank God.

~  Please tell us about receiving “The Call.”
It was “The Email” for me. I was talking on the phone to one of my CPs (who just happens to be my sister) and was skimming email at the same time (is it just me, or do all writers/moms/women multi-task?). I saw one that I thought was from my other CP, opened it, then realized it was from an editor at The Wild Rose Press (she has the same last name as my CP). I read it, then said to my sister, “Um, I think I just sold my first book. I’ll call you back.” I hung up the phone, ran through the house to find my husband. He was on the phone, talking to aforementioned sister’s hubby. I said to him, “Hang up. Now.”

~  To expand on your "Call Story"— What did you do when you got the call or read the email?  Scream?  Faint?
It was kind of surreal. I didn’t scream, faint or wet my pants (as I had kind of expected I might). I think when you’ve been pursuing a dream for so long as I had, when that dream finally comes through, it’s hard to know how to react.

~  Who was the first person you told?
After my hubby and sister, I called my other CP, then posted on my Pixie Chicks loop (my fellow 2008 GH finalists). Only fellow writers can understand the excitement of getting that call…er, email. ☺

~   How did you celebrate?
It must not have been too exciting because I don’t remember. But I’m sure chocolate was involved.

***

Borrowed Stilettos
by Rebecca J. Clark

It’s a classic case of mistaken identity. But this time, it’s no mistake.
Plans go hilariously and seductively awry when mild-mannered Audrey Thompson dresses as Ava, her flamboyant but cowardly twin. It is Audrey's task, as Ava, to break up with Ava's fiancé, Zach Banister. However, as Audrey is stuffing her bra and tottering around in her sister's stilettos, she falls for Zach instead. Little does she know Zach has an agenda all his own.

EXCERPT:

Well. It was now or never. Adrenaline blasted through her veins, heating her skin. Taking a deep breath of courage, she navigated the first step downward while holding the banister for support. Her ankle wobbled on the four-inch heel. She took another step. This time, she swayed precariously. Her head swam with visions of being splayed out like road kill on the Banister slate.

The threesome below turned her way.

“Ava,” Zach greeted with a smile in his voice. Its deep tone echoed the answering quiver in her belly. She imagined what her name would sound like rolling off his tongue. She froze on the second step from the top, afraid to move. Who in their right mind would ever install hardwood stairs? Nerves rattled around her gut like coins in an empty soda can.

“Darling, we were just talking about you,” he said, moving toward the bottom of the staircase.

Darling? Oh, crap. How was she supposed to break up with a man who called her ‘darling’ in such a sexy way?

“Come down here, and I’ll introduce you.”

Judging from the hostile postures of the women, Audrey decided she’d rather have a root canal. She hoped they couldn’t see up her skirt from their lower vantage point. She said a silent prayer of thanks she hadn’t taken her sister’s advice and was, in fact, wearing panties. Could she call a thong “panties”?

Borrowed Stilettos is available at:
The Wild Rose Press

Visit Rebecca at  www.rebeccajclark.com

Thanks for a great interview, Rebecca!!!

AM   :)

Monday, February 08, 2010

BICHOK!!!

.










Monday creeps around with surprising regularity, doesn't it?  But it gives us a chance to start in on our writing again.  Thanks goodness!!!

Good news!!!  The editor with my full manuscript got back to me and she adored it!!!  She offered suggestions for some minor revisions before considering a contract!!!  Needless to say, working on the manuscript will be my top priority this week and next.  I want to get it back to her ASAP.

Here are my writing goals for the week:

Work on revising the full manuscript

*  Finalize two lessons for the online class

*  Write one new page on WIP

*  Assemble gift basket and prepare for Saturday's book signing at Absolute Hair in Pasadena

I hope everyone has a great writing week.  Please share your goals and progress through out the week.

Happy Writing!!!

AM   :)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Release Day!!!


ChasingLightCover1-copy-1



It's release day for my second novel, Chasing the Moonlight!!!  Time to party!!!  WooHoo!!!  I'll be giving away one digital copy and one autographed copy to two lucky people who leave comments here before 11 pm CST tonight!!!



Step right up, because I'm passing out party hats and tootie horns!!!  A little bit of the bubbly, too!!!  Come on and help me celebrate!!!





Here's the blurb for Chasing the Moonlight:


Bad boy Mitch Defalco roars into Stone Creek, Texas, on the back of a Harley with his newly discovered daughter riding behind him. Single mom Sarah Cooper cannot believe he’s moved next door. Mitch dated her older sister back in high school, and Sarah had a secret crush on him.

As Mitch struggles with his new role of fatherhood, Sarah admires how he’s turned his life around. She asks him to help her with a problem: her fear of men. Mitch knows he’s bad news for sexy Sarah, but how can he refuse her dangerous request, when she’s determined to move forward, with or without his help?
 
And here's an excerpt:

Mitch rolled down the window, turned his body toward Sarah and leaned against the door.  “Might as well make ourselves comfortable.”

Sarah followed suit and they faced each other in the small confines of the car.  The scent of his spicy aftershave wafted over to her side and she inhaled deeply.

He crossed his arms against his chest, his biceps straining against the sleeves of his Western-cut, button-down shirt.  He’d dressed for their “date,” although he wore the standard jeans and cowboy boots.  And as usual, his five o’clock shadow darkened his cheeks and chin; only it was more pronounced this late in the evening.

He looked dangerous and sexy sitting there.  Sarah wished with all her heart she didn’t have the issues she’d been dealing with for the past decade or more.  She wished she could just enjoy being with Mitch and let nature take its course.  She wished he’d take her in his arms again, kiss her like he had… Was it only last night? 

It felt like a lifetime ago.

“Are you going to tell me what’s bothering you, Sarah?”

Did she have to?  Couldn’t he just kiss away her fears?  She wished he could, but knew better.  “I don’t know where to start.”

“The beginning is usually best.”

***
In Chasing the Moonlight, we return to the small town of Stone Creek, up in the Texas Panhandle where the land is rugged and so are the men.  We get to visit with Beth, Trevor and Maggie again from Her Reluctant Rancher, which was fun to write and is fun to read.

OMG!!!  This second release is just about as thrilling as the first!!!  THIS is what makes the blood, sweat and tears of writing all worth while!!!

Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Chasing the Moonlight!!!

If you would like to buy a copy, please visit The Wild Rose Press.

Thanks for helping me celebrate!!!

AM   :)

TGIF: Check in!!!

.
It's Friday!!!  Time to check in and see how we did with our writing goals.

My goals for the week and my progress:


*  Write one page a day on the novella--YES.

*  Prepare and post Guest Blog for Wednesday--YES.

*  Prepare for Chasing the Moonlight's Release Day on Friday!!!  WooHoo!!!  I'll be giving away a free autographed copy, so stay tuned!!!  YES

*  Prepare for Saturday's Book Signing at Boomerang Books in League City, TX--YES and NO (still needs work)

*  Start preparing lessons for March Online Class--YES and NO (still needs work)

I still need to get the veggies and dip and the door prize for tomorrow's book signing.  And I planned a lot about how to break down the lessons from the seminar "speech."  Now, I just need to make the individual lessons for the online class.  Next week, next week. *grins*

How did you do with your goals this week?

Happy Writing!!!

AM   :)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Spotlight: Linda Barrett

.


Today, we have award-winning Harlequin Super Romance Author Linda Barrett visiting us at Just Write!   Linda is a fellow Houston Bay Area RWA chapter mate of mine.  I love her books.  They're heart-warming and heart-tugging.

Quarterback Daddy is Linda's thirteenth Super Romance and it's out this month.  She'll be giving away an autographed copy to one lucky person who leaves a comment before 11 pm CST tonight.


So, let's ask Linda some questions . . .

~  What kind of stories/books do you write?

    I write contemporary romance and women’s fiction where the theme of family seems to comes up a lot. I think people are social creatures who need their own packs. So we yearn to belong, especially if we have no “pack” of our own. I explore love through the window of family and community, and by story’s end, there will definitely be an HEA. I promise.  

~  How long have you been writing?

    I've written for my own pleasure for many years – essays in high school, poems and short stories as a stay-at-home mom, and then, finally, trying a novel.  

~   How long did you seriously pursue publication before selling?
  
    Four-and-a-half years.

~  How many manuscripts did you complete before you sold?

    Four. Three were romances and one was a young adult novel.

~  Please tell us about receiving “The Call.”

    The call came to my answering machine in 2000 – and I couldn’t understand one word except, Harlequin. My first editor had a beautiful accent-originally from South Africa-and spoke as quickly as a speeding train. It was a hoot!

~  To expand on your "Call Story"— What did you do when you got the call or read the email?  Scream?  Faint?

    The call came on a Friday, and as I mentioned above, I couldn’t understand the message. I was frustrated for an entire weekend!  I couldn’t even understand the name of the editor, so I looked up all the Harlequin editors in Toronto until I was finally able to match up what my ears heard (sort of) with what my eyes read. I was a wreck! I returned the call first thing Monday morning and had the loveliest conversation with Zilla Soriano. It proved to be the first of many. We had a great relationship before she retired. I still miss her.

~  How did you feel when you found out you sold?
    It was one of the happiest days of my life. I was poised between the wonder of achieving such a long-sought goal and blissful ignorance of what happened next. Big edits!

~  Who was the first person you told?

    My husband. He spent the weekend listening to the telephone message at least 25 times with me, trying to figure it out.

~  How did you celebrate?
  
    By sharing the news with my immediate world.

***

Quarterback Daddy by Linda Barrett


A party-loving sports figure is not an ideal parent in Alexis Brown’s eyes. Too bad quarterback Dan Delito is the only parent her niece has. Alexis isn’t in a position to raise the baby on her own, which means she needs Dan’s help. And that means she’ll have to make nice with the unsuitable man. Fine.


Much to Alexis’s surprise, Dan is good with his daughter. He also knows he needs help, so he convinces Alexis to act as a nanny just until he gets the parenting thing down. Soon their uneasy friendship changes into an unlikely romance. But can a football player, a lawyer and a baby really make a family?

Quarterback Daddy is available at:

www.Amazon.com

www.eHarlequin.com

Thanks for a great interview, Linda!!!


Visit Linda at www.linda-barrett.com


Happy Writing!!!

AM  :)

Monday, February 01, 2010

BICHOK!!! Again!!!

...











A new week, a new start and a new look!!!

Due to technical difficulties with that other Blogger Template (which I loved BTW), I've switched to one of the classics and hopefully, I won't be plagued with any more demonic glitches.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Here are my writing goals for the coming week:

*  Write one page a day on the novella.

*  Prepare and post Guest Blog for Wednesday.

*  Prepare for Chasing the Moonlight's Release Day on Friday!!!  WooHoo!!!  I'll be giving away a free autographed copy, so stay tuned!!!

*  Prepare for Saturday's Book Signing at Boomerang Books in League City, TX.

*  Start preparing lessons for March Online Class.

Whew!!!  I have a lot of prep work to do this week, don't I?  But I must write my pages!!!  Onward Ho! and all that . . .

Please share your writing goals for the week.

Happy Writing!!!

AM   :)