Thursday, June 30, 2011

I am not pouting...

Thinking about Thursday
My daughter, age 4. She hates this picture.

                   In case you wondering how I am doing while most of my writer friends are off in New York city at RWA Nationals... I'm fine! I mean, really, who wants to go to NYC anyway?

First of all, the weather. Looks like the high there today is 85 degrees? Really, it is SUMMER time, people. What kind of wimpy place has a high of 85 on the last day of June? The high here today...101. Now that is what you call summer time!

Second, is the entertainment. While my friends are going to amazing workshops, author signings and grand dinners, I have the pleasure of viewing classics such as Jem and the Holograms. I also get to see my girls swim from one end of a pool to another.. approximately 42 times a day. Back and forth...back and forth...back and...

 And last, thanks to the wonders of Twitter I don't even have to be at the conference. I can see all the fun happening just by following #RWA11. Lucky me. I can following links to my friends pictures of seeing famous people, grabbing adult beverages and hanging with their favorite authors without leaving the comfort of my couch.

So, see, I am fine. Just fine. I'm just going to go sit by myself for a while...*sniff*
So, what are you doing today instead of sitting at a silly ol' National conference?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Welcome Candie Campbell

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


Candie was one of the wonderful group of writers I connected with at DFWCon this year. She is an amazingly sweet person and a great encourager. 
Candie is the one in the middle.

   What made you decide to write?  What did you do before becoming a writer?

Though, I have always been a writer, there was a moment in my life when I said, “I need to write a book.” It was because of a dream, not the proverbial kind, but the “wake up groggy and wonder what the heck that was all about,” kind.

I’d been sort of running this play in my mind for years (about 12 I believe), sometimes I’d dream about it. Other times I would imagine the characters doing something extraordinary. Until I dreamed the end … period … all of the sudden the story was done.

It was such a shock I had to write it down. That was three years ago and I’ve been writing fulltime ever since. The last career I had before that was Salon Owner/Nail Tech. I don’t miss it.

  Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?

I do have a routine, I wake up and write until the words are blurry, go to bed, wake up and do it again.

My goodness - that sounds dull. It isn’t to me, I’m in heaven. But my family and friends think I’ve lost my mind. Egh, I’m happy with my insanity.

Where I write changes, when I’m home I have an office. But my husband is currently on deployment at Fort Gordon Georgia and I’m down here hangin out in our 5th Wheel with him. Now I write at the dinette set or in the gazebo, if it’s not too hot.

    Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? What is different?

It is exactly what I thought it would be, its magical, its compulsive and its engaging. Writing digs its hooks into me and captures my mind endlessly. Whether my fingers are moving or not, I am always writing and I love it.

  Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?
I don’t think I am capable of being “normal” anymore. I have the utmost respect for writers who write while raising children or working another fulltime job, that is true talent.

 What is the best advice you have received about this journey?

It wasn’t advice given to me personally, it’s my favorite quotes that inspire me to keep writing. Here are a few…

"What you write becomes who you are…so make sure you love what you write!" J.K. Rowling

And my favorite…

If you love to write, then write. Don't let your goal be having a novel published, let your goal be enjoying your stories. However, if you finish your story and you want to share it, be brave about it. Don't doubt your story's appeal. If you are a good reader, and you know what is interesting, and your story is interesting to you, then trust in that. If I would have realized that the stories in my head would be as intriguing to others as they were to me, I would probably have started writing sooner. Believe in your own taste.” Stephenie Meyer

 What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?

Don’t rush it, slow down and enjoy the ride. If writing truly is what you want to for the rest of your life, then take the time to grow your skill and make your characters live through your words.

 What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do combat that?

I hope and pray I never have to find the answer to this question. I have taken breaks from writing, but they were intentional and quite frankly almost painful. I cannot finish one book without the next great idea formulating in my brain.

What kind of scenes do you have a hard time writing?

I don’t find that one type of scene is harder to write than the others, for me I struggle with the transaction from one BIG scene to the next. I see the book like a storyboard in my head first. Half a dozen big events that push the plot, those are easy to write, filling in the gaps with necessary information without boring the reader to tears, that’s my challenge. 
   Do you ever write material based on your close relationships, such as a best friend? And how do you balance that material with the need to tell an interesting story?

I do not model books off my relationships, but I do borrow aspects or personality quirks if they lend themselves to the characters believability. So if you have a funny saying you use repeatedly, look out - it might end up in a novel.

  What sources do you use for inspiration? (Music, movies, people watching)

My inspiration comes from unexpected places. Sometimes it just takes one word and whole story jumps to life, other times it may be a strange situation or even the pattern in linoleum that looks like a weird mystical creature.
What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I love the outdoors, boating, hiking, camping and motorcycling. I’m also a HUGE nerd. I love movies and books (obviously). I am a midnight release junky. You’ll find me in line with every other Potterhead and Twihard in costume probably. I’m also a Disney freak and I just got my first (real) tattoo. It covers half my back and is of Snow White, because she was my first true love, until Star Wars, when I turned into a geek.

  Tell us a bit about your work in progress.

I’m so excited to share SEEK with you. I actually just finished my first draft yesterday and now I’m editing and getting ready to send it off to beta readers. Here’s a blurb…

SEEK is about seventeen year old Keira who poses as her older sister to join the secret governmental agency Search.Evade.Extract.Kill, as a huntress of shadows known as, khayal. Every khayal seen from the corner of her eye, every feeling as if someone is watching her, every whisper of wind in the trees that's a khayal and it's her job to kill them. She's good at being a SEEK agent, her life is focused and controlled and she's working toward her goal. Until Jonathan Steed saunters in, with his brilliant green eyes and shows her what the khayal really are and that SEEK's true identity and motivation are not honorable. Bitten by khayal or bitten by love, either way, her heart isn't safe and neither is she, now she's her own enemy. SEEK has kidnapped her family and every government agency is after her, teaming up with Jonathan and the khayal is the only way she'll survive. 
What is next for you?
Next I am going to try something different, until now I’ve written only YA and MG, but I’m going to write a crossover.  WHISPER’S CURSE will hold something for both male and female 15-80 years old and should be a lot of fun to write. I’ll keep my website updated.

How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?

Twitter: @candiecampbell

 Thanks Dawn for my first interview! It was great fun! I’m usually on the other side, but I really enjoyed answering your intriguing questions. 

Candie, thank you for stopping by!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Plot Swap~ Boy Band Style

Dawn's Plot Swap
Have a  plot? Leave one
Need a plot ? Take one 
Okay, confession time. 
I am going to see
in concert this weekend.
No matter what you think of the "Boy Band" music. Their lyrics tell  great stories.
So, today's Friday Plot Swap is boy band style :)
New Kids on the Block
(If the song annoys you, just watch the video on mute.
Lots of inspiration.)

The Hardest Thing~ 98 Degrees
On Bended Knee~ Boys II Men
(Everything you need for a romance novel.)

So, swap me! 
Don't be ashamed. 
You know you have some boy band favorites. 
Just to make you more comfortable
Here is what I used to look like when I listened to these songs.  
Now you feel better,
don't you?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Inspirational Romance: Ho-hum or Happening?


Award-winning novelist Keli Gwyn is a California native who lives in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her stories transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. She fuels her creativity with Taco Bell® and sweet tea. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two skitty kitties.
Keli's debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, will be released by Barbour Publishing in July 2012.
Inspirational Romance:
Ho-hum or Happening?

By Keli Gwyn

Inspirational romance. What is it? How does a writer keep it from being preachy? And how do inspirational writers handle the sexual aspects of a story?

Dawn has graciously invited me to her blog to answer these questions. Let’s start at the beginning. . .

What is inspirational romance?

If you’ve ever wondered, you’re not alone. When I tell people at church, the grocery store, or the post office that I write inspirational historical romance, I often have to define the first word. I simply say Christian, which works for most people.

Sometimes, especially for my Christian friends, I’ll explain that I write sweet, traditional stories I’d let my daughter read. That’s my tactful way of saying the reader won’t encounter explicit sex scenes or strong language—without using the word sex. Sneaky, huh? J

How does an inspirational writer keep from being preachy?

Believe it or not, this is something we Christians often ask ourselves. We inspy romance writers don’t want to turn off readers by blasting them with hellfire and brimstone messages that will make them want to pitch our books into the nearest burn pile. What we endeavor to do is show our characters doing their best to live their lives according to Christian principles, those outlined for us in the Bible.

Are our characters perfect? No way. They blow it just like anybody else. Our goal as inspirational writers is to show them growing in their faith, which we do by including a spiritual arc for the main character(s). Those characters who aren’t Christian aren’t expected to follow the same guidelines as those who are.

If you pick up an inspirational romance, will you find a conversion story in every one? Nope. While some might include a character who comes to accept Christ during the course of the story, most characters are professing Christians at the beginning or are believers who might have strayed from the faith they once claimed.

How do inspirational writers handle the sexual aspects of a story?

Each publisher has different ways of addressing this issue, but there are some general guidelines. Inspirational writers (and readers) understand that God created us as sexual beings and that sex is an enjoyable part of the relationship, which is to take place between a married couple. There are, however, inspy books in which unmarried Christian characters have sex or had sex in the past, but often dealing with such choices becomes part of their faith journeys.

We don’t shy away from sex in our stories, but we do keep the sex act “behind closed doors” in most cases. Our primary focus is to show the attraction between a couple as being multi-dimensional. We work hard to bring out the emotional elements drawing the two characters together rather than putting the emphasis on the physical.

I’ve heard inspy writers say that it can be more challenging for us to write a sexual scene than for a non-inspy writer, and I’m inclined to agree. Whereas the latter can be vivid in their depictions and descriptions, we inspy writers are generally limited to glances; touches of the face, hands, arms, and small of the back; and, of course, kisses. Our job is to make those glances, touches, and kisses count.

And we do. Just because a book is an inspy doesn’t mean the sensual scenes are ho-hum. I’ve read a number of inspy romances with beautifully crafted scenes that make it clear the couple desires one another and leave me fanning myself. The very fact that the unmarried couple doesn’t give in to those desires increases the tension, which can be fun for the reader. Think of the tension between Bones and Booth or Castle and Kate. You can find that sizzle in inspy stories because they really are happening.

Keli, thank you so much for sharing with us!

Keli will be around today to answer questions or comments. What do you think when you hear Inspirational Romance? Do you agree it is more difficult to write a sex scene without any sex? Is tension enough to make a book hot?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Off the Deep End

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

 My "baby" turned eight yesterday. That's not her in the picture. I included it because she also jumped of a diving board for the first time yesterday, well, she sorta jumped of a diving board yesterday.

More like she squatted down on the end of it and tried to convince the sweet, teenage girl in the water ready to catch her that it was too scary.  Which was an improvement from last week when she just stood at the end of the diving board and cried.

Thankfully, no one involved in these swimming lessons belongs to the "sink-or-swim" school of thought. The reason I didn't include the actual picture of her "jumping" off is because it included her coach, who is a very nice guy, but not exactly Roni Loren's Boyfriend of the Week, if you know what I mean.

Her coach was in the picture because when he saw my daughter was about to retreat off the diving board again, he  stepped up behind her. He cut off her exit, reassuring her in a calm voice and, with her permission, helped her off the end of the board into the water.

Sometimes, this is what we need when we are writing. I am nearing the stage when it will be time to jump into the pool of querying and pitching. This time last year, I would have stood on the end of the board and cried.

Now, I am squatting on the end. Man, it is a long way down!

As writer's we need someone in the water, waiting to catch us. Our writers' group, critique partners, online friends, they are all there. Most important, we need someone to cut of our exit and nudge us off the end.

So, tell me your story. Are you on the diving board? Or already in the water? Do you have someone waiting to catch you? Do you need someone to help
you in?

Be sure stop by Thinking about Thursday.
Author Keli Gwyn is guest blogging.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Plot Swap

Dawn's Plot Swap
Have a  plot? Leave one
Need a plot ? Take one 
Have you seen a news story that got your wheels turning? 
Do you have a plot in your head that would make a great story, just not one you intend to write?  
Leave it here on Fridays 
pick up a plot for your weekend writing time.
This week I am playing
"What if..."
What if a hot girl recently dumped by a hot guy decided to start dating every unattractive guy she met?  What happens when she starts to fall for one and he suddenly seems more attractive to her?

This article addresses three missing persons' cases. Other than being in the same location, they appear to be unrelated. But what if they were related? How would the victims be connected? What  would be the motivate for the kidnappers?
This is an interesting look into the drug cartels of Mexico. I don't know how much of the gladiator-like fights is true. It is disputed in the article, but what if a young reporter decided to make it her mission to find out the truth? What if she (or he) went into to Mexico undercover to bring down the cartel? Who would he/she meet? Who would help? How would he/she make it home?

So, Swap with me. 
What's got  your "What if?" gear turning this week?