Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Post: Olivia Kelly talks music

Thinking about Thursday

Olivia Kelly Talks Music 
Olivia Kelly
Today we have a guest post from Regency romance author, Olivia Kelly. Olivia is a stay-at-home mom of two very active little boys, as well as a classically trained chef whose last job was working in the banking industry instead of a kitchen. She writes stories that focus on the relationship between the hero and heroine, the society they moved in and their families. You can find her on twitter @oliviakelly_.  

Olivia, I give you the blog.

Hello everyone! First, I’d like to say thank you to Dawn for having me here today. I appreciate being able to come by and talk about two of my favorite things in the entire world: Regency England and music!
Okay, so now I know some of you just rolled your eyes and considered hitting that little X in the top right corner of your screen, but STOP! I am not here to extol the virtues of tatted lace vs. Belgium lace, and I’m certainly not going to debate the merits of Mozart vs. Handel. (I can see your eyes glazing over already.)

Here’s where I’m going with this. When I write, (and I write romance novels set in 19th century England) I must have music. I have tried to work without it, and it is slow and painful. I’d rather poke a fork in my eye than listen to the ticking of the clock or that high pitched whine from the TV that no one else ever seems to hear. I’ve tried to write to what I think of as “era appropriate” music -like Chopin, which is quite lovely, but doesn’t usually do it for me either. Maybe it’s my generation, maybe it’s just the way my warped, little mind works, but I tend to do my best work to the tune of Foster the People, Tracy Chapman, Aloe Blacc, Kina Grannis, The White Stripes and Adele.
I also like to assign my characters theme songs.
In my novella, It Could Only Be You, (from the anthology Summons from His Grace) my hero Harry has been to hell and back. Having survived the deaths of his parents and young wife, and having fought in one the more vicious battles leading up to the American War of 1812, he then travelled to England to confront the grandfather who had disowned Harry’s mother, leaving Harry without family for most of his life. Still recovering from battle wounds, he literally collapses at the feet of Lily Beauchamp, the local vicar’s daughter, and learns that sometimes, if you are very lucky, life will give you a second chance. It’s up to you to grab that chance with both hands and not let go.

I chose the song More Than Life by Whitley for Harry. It is a beautiful, quiet song. I think the potent mix of acoustic guitar and the raw emotion of the singers speaks perfectly to the yearning that Harry feels for a home, and peace.
     More Than Life by Whitely
As for Lily, well, I just loved the song Stars Falling Down by Kina Grannis. Again, it’s a soft, acoustic guitar that accompanies the sweet, light voice of Kina. The lyrics are so hopeful, and I feel like Lily wants to be hopeful. She’s not a young girl anymore, but she’s still searching for love.

I don’t always choose soft songs for my characters, though. One of my heroes has “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns n Roses as his theme song, and Taio Cruz’s “Break Your Heart” seems almost like he sang it just to inspire another character of mine. If a song fits, it fits. Rock, blues or pop –as the song says “Anything goes!”
Do you like to write or read to music? Do you hear a song and it reminds you of a character, or a book you’ve read?
 (If you leave your email address in the comments, then you will be entered for the
Regency  Summons Anthology Prize Extravaganza 
drawing that will take place on December 15th. Some of the awesome prizes include a Kindle, gift cards to Amazon and Barnes and Nobles and free books! And who doesn’t like free stuff?)

Thank you so much for visiting with us, Olivia.

Also, tomorrow we will be having a musical Friday Plot Swap! So think of your characters theme songs and come swap with us !

Monday, November 28, 2011

Welcome Jill Myles!

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


and her alter egos: 
Jessica Sims and Jessica Clare

Let's get to know Jill!

Introduce yourself and all of your alter egos (pen names). What does everybody write? 

I write under three (whew!) names currently:
Beauty Dates the Beast
Jessica Sims – paranormal romances
Jill Myles The Succubus Diaries (a quasi paranormal romance/urban fantasy) and self-publishing
Jessica Clare – starting next year, I’ll be publishing under this name. The books will be erotic contemporary romance.

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

I worked (and still do work) for a very large financial institution. I love the thought of writing full time, but I love a 401k and health insurance more at the moment! I’ve always written here and there, though – it wasn’t until I hit my mid-twenties that I was bored with my career path and decided to turn all my journal scribblings into a novel.

I loved Wicked Games, what inspired you to write about a reality show?
Wicked Games

I really love reality TV gameshows. Not bridezilla or dating stuff – but I love Survivor and The Amazing Race. There’s just something so exciting and adventurous about those sorts of things. Plus, it really brings out the worst (and the best) in some people. I’ve watched so many seasons and I’ve always thought that it would be the perfect opportunity for a pair of characters to hook up. So I wrote it!

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

I credit my husband with my productivity. He’s my coach – he encourages me to hit my word counts every day, and nags me until I do. It’s so effective I ask him to constantly stay on me to ensure I get stuff done! I’m kind of, what’s the word, FLAKY, so if he isn’t there to remind me, I might get distracted by shiny objects and not follow through.

My writing routine is not so glamorous. I sit in a chair with a lapdesk and my Alphasmart, and write until I get my word count. On weekdays, it’s a smaller goal (1k) and on weekends it’s a larger goal (anywhere from 3k to 5k). Writing every day really makes the word count fly, but I don’t beat myself up too much if I can’t swing it that day.
Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? What is different?
It’s what I imagined it would be…and not. Lots of deadlines, lots of writing. Sometimes a little stressful when reviews aren’t what you hoped they would be. I thought I’d be able to write full time, too! So much for that. J

With as many books as you have out, do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?
I don’t have children, so I credit a lot of productivity to that. Plus, my husband coaching me (as mentioned above). Other than that, you just have to want it really badly. You have to recognize what sorts of things derail your productivity and cut them out. I love video games, but when I’m on deadline, I can’t play them because they eat at my brain and distract me. I can’t work at my laptop because the internet distracts me. It’s all about finding the things that bog you down and cutting them out.

 What is the best advice you have received about this journey?
Write the book you want to read, but also write the book that plays to your strengths. If you’re not good at certain aspects of writing (be it world building or sexual tension), write stories that don’t focus on those parts so you end up looking smarter than you are!
Also? Writing advice is crap, for the most part. Find what works for you and stick with that.

What advice do you wish someone would have given you when you were starting out?
You really don’t have to put a book aside for six months to revise it. Not everyone can handle that well. I did that when I first started writing, and by the time I’d go back to the manuscript, I’d lost all enthusiasm for it and didn’t want to edit it. I’m a writer that works best when I still have the fire burning in my belly. If you’re like that, don’t put the book aside for six months! You’ll kill it! Finish that last page, then start over and edit right away.

 What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do combat that?
I stack stories. Which sounds crazy, but I usually don’t get burned out on writing, just on the story I’m working on. So I give myself a second story as a ‘carrot’ to encourage me to write. I can work on this shiny new project if I get my wordcount in on this other project. Plus, I read a lot.

 What kind of scenes do you have a hard time writing?
That’s hard. I always struggle with the climax of the book, I think. I dread it and my writing slows down as I move toward it, and then one day, it just all arrives on paper in one massive brain dump. But I never look forward to the climax of a novel.

 Do you ever write material based on your close relationships, such as a best friend? How do you balance that material with the need to tell an interesting story?
God no. I mean, I think we are all inspired by things that happen in our lives, but overall, I don’t cobble characters from other people that I know. I think that can get you into more trouble than its worth!

 What sources do you use for inspiration? ( Music, movies, people watching)
I read a lot. Watch TV (who doesn’t?) and I try to pick up on the quirks of people. Oh, and I’m addicted to Wikipedia and reading up on obscure figures in history. Oddly enough, they figure into my writing quite often. One of the characters in an upcoming book is based on an infamous Greek hetaera, for example. I take what we know about those characters and I let my brain roll their timeline forward, imagining what they’d be like now.

 What do you do when you aren’t writing?
I sleep. There’s never enough hours in the day for sleeping. Plus, I’m a video game fanatic (current favorites are Uncharted 2, Left 4 Dead, and Dead Space) and I read a lot. I try to read at least a book or two a week. Sometimes I go through dry spells, but overall I hit about 100 books a year.

 Tell us a bit about your work in progress.
I’m almost done with a first draft of The Care and Feeding of Alpha Males – it’s going to be the next book in my Bluebonnet series for Berkley Heat. After that, I am full steam ahead on Succubi Are Forever.

What is next for you?
My next release is a short story in the Agony/Ecstasy anthology. My next full release (not counting Succubi Are Forever) is The Girl’s Guide to (Man) Hunting under my Jessica Clare name. It comes out next May. Next fall I’m going to have three releases in a really short timeframe – a second Jessica Clare book, and two more Jessica Sims books.

 How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?
I have a blog, but I mostly use it for announcements at this point. I tweet under @JillMyles and I have a facebookpage (though I don’t check it as often as I should).

Thank you so much for stopping by, Jill!
So, anything else you want to know about Jill? 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This temporary blog interruption is brought to you by Thanksgiving Break!
I hope you get to: 
Hug those you love. 
Eat lots of food.
Enjoy the season with  family.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Plot Swap~Smuggler's Blues Style

Dawn's Plot Swap
Have a plot? Leave one
Need a plot ? Take one  

Smuggler's Blues Style
The song itself is a pretty decent plot starter. 
As a mystery writer, I am usually concerned about where to hide the body. This week I found some stories with suggestions for where to hide the drugs. 
Happy birthday to you...Happy Birthday to you...

Operation Urban Cowboy 

Lookin' for love in all the wrong places....
(Only Urban Cowboy loyalist will get that one) 

For some reason, this made me think of those  "I love what you do for me" Toyota commercials.
So, swap plots with me. Do your characters have any good hiding places? For bodies? Drugs? Deep dark secrets?