Archive for March, 2012
Saturday, March 31st, 2012
I’m still in Dallas. I’ll leave early tomorrow after breakfast to head home to Central Arkansas. The NTRWA conference may be small, but they pack a lot into their sessions. For my sister and I, it was well worth the trek for face time with Lindsey Faber from Samhain and lunch (which we won through raffle tickets) with media guru Kristen Lamb.
I was supposed to have two bloggers subbing for me today and tomorrow, but I didn’t have time to pre-post, and the files I copied were corrupted. So sorry, Melissa and Mary. I’ll make it up to you soon!
What am I coming away with? A few nuggets of new knowledge. And fresh commitment to one of my publishers (Samhain). I have to retweak my plans for the next few months’ work and start out smartly in April to make it all happen.
Why should you care? You don’t have to, but I have some fun ideas for things to do on this blog, so I hope you’ll stop in to see what I get up to!
Y’all have a great weekend. See you bright and early Monday morning!
DD, from the Heart of Texas.
Friday, March 30th, 2012
Chop Wood, Carry Water: The Daily Round
“The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
I’d like to pause a moment and ask this question: what things are necessary for us to have a peaceful, drama-less life this week? Today?
It’s been my observation that the great dramas of life take our attention: shenanigans in politics, rudeness on the net, which artist died this week with whom we had no personal acquaintance but an abundance of feeling – these things become real for us, immediate, because they engage our emotions.
But not our brains. The checkbook that needs balancing, the tax deadline looming, the editing of a manuscript, the folding of laundry – these are the things that truly require our attention but that, because they are not accompanied by a ring tone or a twitter feet, become neglected.
Here are my thoughts that apply to my own daily round, but that I thought I would share for others in the hope that they, too, might find them relevant. Five things, when done daily, can change the tenor of our week.
1. Put things away when you’re done with them. If you have books out, put them back on the shelf. Put the shoes in the closet or by the door. End tasks, so that when you’re done, they feel done.
2. Floss your teeth. We all know we should do it, but how many of us do? Be honest now. If we called our dentist and made an appointment today, would they be amazed at what they found? Or would they want you to brush before they touched you?
3. Smile at everyone you meet. If you ride transit, smile at the conductor. Smile at the receptionist, or the checker at the store. Smile even if you have to fake it – and if you do have to fake it, make sure to include your eyes in it. Really make it a smile to be memorable and see what happens.
4. Eat your vegies. We know we should, but how many have you eaten today? Doctors recommend between five and nine servings every day, and those should be from the five different color groups.
5. Take a walk. Even a twenty minute walk can change our relationship to our bodies and to the day.
What do you do to maintain the sanity of your daily round? I’d love to know.
A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder
Check out BURNING BRIGHT, available now from Samhain Publishing.
Watch for EMERALD FIRE, coming soon from Torquere Publishing.
Thursday, March 29th, 2012
After five days camped out with my daughter, I’m finally back home. Yay!—although I do feel horribly guilty over leaving her today of all days. We’ve been finishing up renovating/painting/cleaning the “new” old house this week in preparation for today. My duties were mostly babysitting kids and animals while she and hubby worked at the house. I pitched in yesterday to help with the final cleanup. I had laid on movers, but the numskulls told me at the last minute that while they moved things, they didn’t actually pack anything, so they were fired and we had to recruit family members to help with the actual pack and move today. To top off everything else, it looks like the pregnant dog I was watching is about to give birth. So daughter has her hands full.
However, I have a conference to head to tomorrow and while I decided to forego getting my hair done, I still have packing, nails, car cleanup, and email catchup to do today. She’s on her own. I hope she survives. I hope her marriage survives her nerves.
One little note. Okay, three really. My m/f, f/f short story, Marmalade, was accepted by Mischief (a HarperCollins publishing arm); another short story, Soldier Girls, was accepted for a lesbian collection with Cleis; and I have it on good authority that there is a contract in the works with Montlake for a longer book I have partially written. Some of my beta readers out there might remember my strange little dark paranormal/police drama with witches and wraiths… It’s finally going to be published! Woot!
So, while I’m doing my last minute scramble to get out the door to Dallas, I’ll leave you with a question. I always love to see the answers!
If you could have been there to witness any specific moment in history,
what moment would you choose?
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
Can a Heroine be too Strong?
If you’d asked me this question a few years ago, when I started writing my snarky, kick-butt heroine Astra Q Phelps, I’d have said, absolutely not! But now, I’m not so sure. I’m currently reading a series by a very talented author whose heroine is so strong she has no time for, or real interest in, the hero. Huh? Now, granted, this is an urban fantasy series and romance isn’t a necessary component in UF, but the author introduced the romance, she put it out there, and IMHO, her heroine is dropping the ball with it.
This heroine is so strong she believes she can and should do everything herself. That’s not really the most attractive or interesting trait in a character. Especially since it’s obvious she can’t! I, as a reader, enjoy seeing a little vulnerability in a heroine. It gives her depth and enables me to relate to her. Besides, there’s so much opportunity for insight into characters when they interact with each other. Without this interaction the author is forced to go inside the character’s head to flesh her out for the reader. Bleurgh!
This leads us right down the thorny path to angst.
Sure enough, in the course of not needing anyone else, this character is constantly mired down by personal angst. My least favorite thing in a heroine. Yes, a story needs some angst, but when the plot, key relationships, and romance are mired in it, it’s not a good thing. In my opinion as a reader, a character should occasionally have brief moments of introspection, learn from them, and then move on to complete her destiny.
Yup, my dirty little secret is out…I live in a no wallowing zone.
I don’t want to read about a character who does it all and doesn’t need anyone else. It’s kind of sad. And it makes for very one dimensional reading. I love a strong heroine, but I also want her to recognize that she has needs she can’t fulfill on her own. I want her to need her hero. I mean, we can certainly survive all alone in the world, but why would we want to? And when you have a perfectly good hero standing there, all hawt and interesting, why wouldn’t you put him to good use? I mean, let’s not confuse strength with stupidity, ladies!
“Sam Cheever does it again in a thrilling tale that features one of my favorite heroines of all time. Astra is a perfect blend of our favorite champions for justice. She’s a healer, a lover, a fighter, and sometimes just a big softie. Her never give up attitude and ability to kick some serious trash has endeared her to me throughout this series.” ~ The Romance Studio
The Devil You Know – Good versus Evil has never been this much fun!
Astra Q. Phelps is turning twenty-five in a few months and she’s starting to feel the effects of her Settling, the time when a half angel, half devil Tweener decides whether to embrace her dark nature or her light.
The delectable Dialle, king of the Royal devils, really needs Astra’s help in Hell to deal with an insurrection. But Astra’s Settling pretty much has her thinking of only one thing—S.E.X.!
Sex with Dialle, sex with her yummy partner Emo, sex with a molten-hot dragon slayer she meets along the way, and sex with assorted other randy Royals cavorting among the fires of Hell. It’s a constant struggle just to keep her mind and body pure so she can concentrate on the business at hand, but Astra Q Phelps is definitely up for the challenge.
BUY the ebook!
The Devil You Want releases 4/11/12!
Astra Q Phelps gave her boyfriend a magic hickey. Usually not a world-changing issue. But in Astra’s case, her boyfriend is king of the Royal Devils. And Royals have always thought that only males could mark their mates. So how did she do it? Even Astra doesn’t know. That’s the first of her problems.
Now somebody’s trying to kill the naturally curious Astra, which is always a problem.
Thirdly, there’s Slayer. He’s shown up on Astra’s turf and wants her to hire him. Given their undeniable sexual chemistry, that’s probably not going to go over well with her boyfriend. Not to mention that he’s got some baggage that’s gonna come back to bite Astra big time.
Add in the nearly constant sexual need caused by her Settling and you have a whole lot of stuff for Astra Q Phelps to handle. But, as you probably know by now, she’s definitely up to the challenge.
Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
I think I’ve mentioned it before, but this past week has been insane. My daughter’s moving from in town to the house and acreage across the street from where I live in the country. I’ve been camped out at her place in town babysitting a pregnant dog, two cats, two wild children, and doing chores around here (dishes, laundry, etc.) while waiting for folks to pick up items we put on a Facebook swapshop that we don’t want moved to the new place. The Red-Headed Hellion has had it much rougher cleaning out a house a hoarder used to live in, overseeing renovations, and painting.
I’ve been spending nights here, so it’s really hard to get any writing done. Tonight will be the last night, thank God! I can’t wait to slip into my quiet little writer cave and catch up on everything.
So, since I’m a little buried here, I have a quick question. I like life simple. I have a fish in a little bowl in my office, a feral cat I adopted whom I feed and pet (now that she’s learned to accept affection), but who lives outside, and that’s it. I’m not anti-dog and have had many over the years, but like I said, I like things simple. Cats, to me, are simple.
What about you? Do you consider yourself a dog or a cat person?
Monday, March 26th, 2012
The Art of Being Intractable
When I was five my Kindergarten teacher pulled my mother aside to tell her it was a damn shame her charming daughter was so retarded; she would probably never learn to read and certainly would never be able to write.
What the teacher failed to take into account was the fact that we come from extraordinarily stubborn stock, my mother and I. Immediately Mom began studying child development and brain patterns, researching everything she could about learning disabilities. She convinced me that my challenges were actually a gift—the ability to look upon the world through new, fresh eyes. I wasn’t stupid or weird, she told me. I simply marched to the beat of a different drummer.
The real gift I’d been given was a mother who refused to see limitations. She taught me to love a challenge and never give up. She taught me to dream bigger and hold tighter than common rationality would recommend.
These lessons came in real handy when I decided I wanted to be a writer. Not because I couldn’t tell the difference between a 3 and an E. Or a p and a q. Or an S and a 5. Or the fact that letters and numbers rarely had the courtesy to hold still long enough for me to make sense of them. I figured all that out by learning to memorize patterns. (A three rarely appears in a word, for example.)
Nope. Mom’s lessons on perseverance came in handy because writing—and the quest to be published—quite frankly, was the toughest challenge I ever took on. Tougher even than pushing out an eleven pound baby.
I wanted to be published, be an author, so bad I could taste it. But that brass ring seemed always just out of reach.
There were times, more than I can count, when I thought I was nuts for wanting such a thing or hoping for such a thing or dreaming of such a crazy crazy thing. There were times—when I found an idiotic mistake in a manuscript I’d read a hundred fricking times—when I thought, perhaps that Kindergarten teacher had been right. Doubt lived with me, every day. Steeped itself in my teapot. Soaked in my bath.
But I’d remember Mom, pushing me forward, encouraging me, daring me to try, and I’d keep going. And I’d roll another sheet into the typewriter (metaphorically speaking).
I read voraciously and when I wasn’t analyzing someone else’s prose, I was writing. Composing. Plotting. Experimenting. Creating. I wrote an epic fantasy novel (topping out at 175,000-words), a sci-fi horror, an animated children’s book, a middle grade about a dyslexic dragon, women’s fiction, men’s fiction, screenplays and romances by the score. None of them sold. Once I discovered it, a steamy Delilah Devlin in fact, erotic romance became my drug of choice.
Probably not what my mother intended, but there you have it.
I started entering contests. Started winning. Before long, I was addicted. Ironically, this didn’t increase my confidence as a writer, because I never sold, and all that really mattered to me was selling. But contests were fun. They made me feel like a writer. Like I was doing something.
I guess that’s all it takes sometimes. Doing something.
If you read the Secret (and didn’t we all?), you understand that concrete action can set up ripples in the universe. And even if it doesn’t, it’s nice to think that it does.
It’s nice to think that doing something, does something.
And it does. It gives us a sense of power. A sense of control over the universe, or at least our tiny corner of it. And after a while, those little somethings we do in pursuit of our dreams pile up. Gain momentum.
I entered hundreds of contests in my career and, to the chagrin of my fellow contest whores, won a lot. (Sold not). But it only takes one. One winning lottery ticket, one dream come true. One editor or agent who likes the order in which you throw words onto paper.
In November of 2011, I got an e-mail from an editor at Ellora’s Cave asking, very politely, if she could please acquire my book, which she had received as the result of the Novella’s Need Love Too contest sponsored by the Celtic Hearts chapter of Romance Writers of America. (I said yes.) In December she bought the second book and in January, another. In February she snapped up the fourth.
Maybe my life is destined to be a feast or famine proposition.
I’m okay with that.
I walk away with another lesson. A new lesson: Sometimes mulishly pursuing your dreams feels like a folly. And sometimes, just every so often, it doesn’t. Every so often, dreams do come true.
And perhaps every so often is enough.
As long as you don’t quit. Never give up. Never surrender.
Sabrina York’s very first novel ever comes out April 4, 2012 from Ellora’s Cave. It’s a hot & sexy erotic romance called Adam’s Obsession. Read an excerpt and check out the awesome cover at www.SabrinaYork.com. You can follow Sabrina on Twitter @sabrina_york.
Sunday, March 25th, 2012
So much happened this last week! My life is completely nuts. Let’s see if I can break it down for you…
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Wild at Heart
First, for all you writers out there, the deadline for submitting your stories for inclusion in the Wild at Heart anthology, which will directly benefit the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is APRIL 1st! Please get your stories in. They are short—just 1500 to 4000 words, and who doesn’t have an idea for one? You’ve been to a zoo, right? You’ve watched National Geographic. You don’t have to be an animal expert to be able to write about some exotic animal in need of refuge. There’s still time. Read more about it here: Wild at Heart
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About Three Stories
Three developments, book-wise, happened this week.
1) All Hallows Heartbreaker, the second story I ever published, is being offered for free! But this deal doesn’t last forever! For more information, follow this link: Free Story
2) The eighth book in the My Immortal Knight series, My Sweet Succubus, is out! It’s Moses Brown’s story, and I know there are those of you out there who have been waiting for him to have his happy ever after. Well, he gets it all right. Just not sayin’ where. If you’d like to read more, click on the cover.
3) And most exciting for me, personally, is that I have a brand new contract to edit another anthology collection for Cleis Press! One more to follow Girls Who Bite (out last September), She Shifters (coming in July 2012) and Cowboy Lust (out in August 2012). It’s strange how much of a thrill this gives me. I should only want to write my own stories, right? But it’s so much fun. I get to read great stories, “meet” established authors, and nurture new authors. It’s work, sure, but it’s also very, very satisfiying. And something different to do. I like mixing it up. So if you hear me talking about smokin’ hot firemen over the next coming months, that’s what this is all about.
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Sunday Report Card
But what did I really accomplish this week? Not enough.
1) I worked through stacks of papers to burn, shred or file away in my newly neatened file cabinets.
2) Did some “back and forth” with my Cleis editor on the new anthology, wrote the call for submissions and sent it out to the world.
Notice there’s no mention of pages written. I have tons of good reasons—all centered around the fact I’ve been making tons of trips to Hot Springs to buy building supplies. The Red-Headed Hellion and her family are moving into the house across the street from me this week, but we’re down to the wire with renovations and now one of our contracted workers is a no-show. So SIL is learning very quickly how to repair and texture dry-wall so he can get walls and ceilings painted. In the meantime, I’m babysitting cats and dogs, doing laundry and cleaning their other neglected house to get ready for the movers. I hope to have some downtime in between to get some pages in, because I have a novella due tomorrow. Eeek!
Have a great week. Hope you’re getting lovely spring weather like we are here in Arkansas. Have to check the pool temperature. Won’t be long…