Monday, December 27, 2010

Brooklyn Ann's triumphs, trials, and tribulations of 2010

2010 was a pretty exciting year for me. Nearly every month was a new accomplishment.

January: After surviving my first Christmas without my mother and celebrated my 6-year dating anniversary with my fiance, I submitted my first batch of queries for my regency paranormal romance, BITE ME, YOUR GRACE. Then I went on a road trip to Salt Lake City for a conference with the financial advising company I was working for. During the trip I decided that finance was not for me, but I came away with an awesome cookie recipe. When I got back home I had received a few partial requests for my manuscript.

February: I received a rejection on my first partial request and a few query rejections, but I garnered a few more requests as well. I also came to realize that my word count was still too low. After some more work with my awesome betas I was able to get more words and fix some insidious errors. I also began working 2 jobs. One at The Bookworm, my favorite store ever, and the other doing the 2010 census. Fun Stuff!

March: In the midst of the chaos working 2 jobs, I realized that my wedding date was looming near...then I discovered that my wedding gown no longer fit. YIKES! Somehow, between work, family, my manuscript submissions, and arranging my reproductive surgery, I somehow needed to lose 2 inches from my waistline.
Slim-Fast shakes taste like crap.

April: Thankfully, the census work came to an end. Although I missed the pay, I was getting a little tired of hiking through the woods and facing attack dogs. It was good exercise. I also did regular ab exercises at the bookstore when there were no customers around, which unfortunately for my wallet, was a little too often. After my tubal ligation, my boss sadly informed me that she could no longer afford to keep me. Unemployed, foggy on pain meds and raging hormones from my surgery, the month was a little difficult.

May: The wedding was fast approaching. Nearly every day was consumed with preparations. And I was still in query/ submission hell. My diet was also really getting tedious. Somehow everything worked out by the 30th. My dress fit, my bachelor party kicked ass, and I had the most awesome wedding ever.

June: Everything went wrong at first and we were almost unable to go on our honeymoon. But again, it worked out and we spent a a delightful week in Seattle. It was my first away-vacation ever and I had a blast. My best friend since 3rd grade lived there and it was a wonderful reunion despite the sad news that she'd soon be moving to New Zealand. And the best news of all was that I received 2 more full requests from some awesome agents.

July: Best month ever! I received 2 offers of representation from said awesome agents. In my excitement, I didn't handle it as well as I should have but everything worked out and I accepted representation from Cari Foulk at Tribe Lit just before I attended my 10 year High School reunion. Bragging rights rule. I also got a job as a janitor. It was perfect for my writing schedule. I began working on another project.

August: I signed my contract with my lovely agent and celebrated my birthday. Between the kids and the constant barbecues it was a struggle to get in some writing time.

September: I'd never been more relieved that summer vacation was over. As the kids set off for their 1st day of school, my husband and I danced in the street with noisemakers- literally. I began revisions on BITE ME, YOUR GRACE with my agent and also worked my tail off on my WIP. My best friend visited one last time before her move to New Zealand. A miracle occurred and I was able to attend the Idaho Writer's League conference where I won two awards.

October: I worked my tail off on my WIP, took myself and the kids to many dentist appointments, and got into the Halloween spirit. I also discovered Netflix and an endless selection of B-Horror movies.

November: I completed my first draft of AN IRONIC SACRIFICE and jumped into a major overhaul of a previously trunked "baby." It went well until I tore my rotator cuff. The pain meds made my head so foggy that it was hard to write. Between the pills for my shoulder and the nitris from my dental appointments, I wondered if I'd ever be sober again. Sometime here BITE ME, YOUR GRACE went on submission.

December: For some reason the prospect of facing Christmas without my mother was worse this year. I spent a few evenings crying in my car from missing her so badly. And then a problem with my marriage came up. Thankfully we caught it before it became worse and I think we're better because of it. Christmas ended up being very pleasant, albeit hectic, and I just might finish the first round of revisions on WRENCHING FATE before the new year.

Whew! So, how was 2010 for you? Triumphs, regrets? Do tell!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Special guest author: Sean Poindexter!

Okay, Sean’s not exactly a paranormal romance author, but he tells me there is some romance in his “Dragon’s Blood Chronicles” AND we share the same awesome agent and a love of firearms, so I’m gonna let it slide and feature him.

Sean, tell us about yourself:

I live in the Ozarks. Right now it’s cold and there are wolves after me. No, seriously, right now I devote most of my time to writing and do odd jobs for money. Very odd jobs. Before that, I did investigations for the State of Missouri into abuse, neglect and exploitation of elderly and disabled adults. I did that for over three years. It was challenging work, and I’m happy to have the experience, but I’m happier to be out of it.
               Dragons have been a little neglected in popular fiction lately. What inspired you to resurrect them and what is a new twist you’ve added to the dragon tale?

That’s a pretty big part of why I picked them: dragons are something everyone is familiar with, but it isn’t something that’s been done to death yet. At least, not in the urban fantasy genre. I think including dragons in an urban fantasy is intimidating, because they are huge and powerful. The only way to hide them is to make them smaller, or make them shapechangers. I chose the latter, since I wanted my dragons to be huge. And they are. But, they can turn into humans (and occasionally other forms) so that allowed me to keep them hidden. Also, there aren’t a lot of them. Less than a thousand world-wide. They are very rare but they live a very long time.

As for a new twist, I’ve managed to weave dragons into this cosmology I created for the Universe in which my books are set. I don’t want to give too much away, but I believe in a causal Universe, i.e. nothing happens without a reason…even if the reason is so far removed from human understanding that it seems meaningless. There is a reason why dragons exist. They have a purpose. Everything has a purpose, even if they aren’t aware of it. I also wanted to contrast dragons with humans. Humans have short lives, almost insectile compared to dragons. But because of their nature, dragons lack a creative impulse. They have no desire to make the world better or to create new things of beauty and order. They admire it, even covet it, but they can’t (or don’t) make it. That’s why humans have gone from troglodytic scavengers to space flight and atomic power, all in the lifespan of a single dragon. For all their power, these are things dragons never would have done, or could have.
       What triumphs and challenges have you faced in your writing?

The greatest triumph I’ve experienced is the feeling I get when someone tells me they enjoyed something I wrote. I’m generally very insular about other people’s opinions, but the positive feedback I’ve gotten from people has been very heartwarming. It’s particularly exciting when my writing brings me into contact with artists I’ve respected and admired for years. Last summer, I was shocked when a musician I idolized (Thomas Gabriel Fischer, aka Tom Warrior of Celtic Frost) contacted me and invited me to come backstage at an upcoming show. This was someone I’d listened to since I was a child, and a pioneer in the genre of music in which he played. It was probably one of the happiest moments of my life.
But honestly, the best I’ve met have been everyday people who enjoy my work, and are willing to take time out of their lives to promote me to their friends. That, in my opinion, is the greatest compliment a writer can get.
      What is some memorable feedback that you’ve received from your fans?

The most flattering compliment I’ve gotten was when another writer compared my work to a very popular, very well known author. I don’t want to say which one because I don’t want to sound like a conceited jerk…and I don’t really agree with the comparison: I’m nowhere near as good as the person to which I was likened. But still, it was flattering beyond words to hear it. The most memorable was probably when a female friend who was able to read the whole manuscript told me that the first love scene between Meg (a human) and Garrett (a dragon) had inspired a number of personal fantasies. Dozens of other women (and a few guys) have written to me—just based on the excerpt on my website—that they would like to have a dragon lover of their own. That feels like I accomplished something in making Garrett a desirable and memorable character.
      Name one thing you’d do/ buy if you became a mega best-seller?

Heh…I promised my wife a new car. One of the characters in my book series—Max, who also gets his own spin-off series of paranormal mysteries—drives a Toyota Prius. My wife wants one of those, so it will probably be the first thing I buy once all our student loans, mortgage and credit cards are paid off. As for myself, I have a medical condition called TMJ…there is a surgery available to have it fixed, but its considered elective by most American insurance companies and very expensive. I’d like to have that done. After that…well, there are a few more guns I’d like a get. I can’t really have too many guns.

5.)    Tell us a little about your next project.

I’m always working on something. I’ve finished five books in the Dragon’s Blood Chronicles, and one in Max’s Paranormal Mysteries series. I’m currently working on Max’s second mystery, which always takes longer to write than the Dragon books. I’ve begun the sixth Dragon’s Blood book, but it’s on hiatus right now as I devote all my attention to Max’s second book. I can finish a Dragon’s Blood book in about a month, but Max’s books take longer. I’m not sure why, but probably because they are so dark, comparatively.

Thanks bunches for stopping by, this was a lot of fun and it looks like there is a little romance in your work after all! Now, where can readers follow your career?

Thank you so much! This was great! for an excerpt and a link to my blog at 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Juggling Writing and the Holiday Season

From Thanksgiving on, writing has been difficult for many reasons: Christmas preparation, holiday parties, wrapping up 2010, the stress of the season, and the kids being home on Christmas break. Besides summer vacation, this is the hardest time of year to get anything done. So far to get snippets of work done I've employed these methods:

1.) Send the household away and indulge in a writeathon. I pulled it off once but the forces of the universe are conspiring to prevent another opportunity.

2.) Achieve little snippets of writing amidst the chaos. I have a sneaking suspicion that many of said snippets will be cut during the rewrite.

3.) Scribble down notes between gift wrapping/ baking/ etc. Little actual writing gets done, but I feel like I've done at least something.

4.) Give up until the New Year and focus on family and holidays. I've been leaning this way, but this WIP keeps calling to me.

How are the rest of you handling the chaos? Especially you moms and dads? I'm desperate for more tips.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Special Guest Author: Danae Ayusso

Danae and I share the same agent. (Update: As of July 2011, said agent closed shop) We also both live in the Inland Northwest and we’ve added snow to our rants on writing and motherhood. Anyway, it is past time I introduced you all to this awesome wordsmith.

What made you stand up one day and say, “I’m going to write a novel.”?

It was during that ungodly snow we had two years ago, and we were snowed in.  We had my 10 year old niece over and she was bitching about not having anything to read since I’m a R.A. Salvatore fanatic, and Pher is a Terry Brooks fan.  So I asked her “What do you want to read?”  She said she was reading something called the Vampire Diaries.  Rakyia gave me a quick rundown and it sounded boring.  However, vampires in high school?  I’ve never heard of such a thing.  I sat down and found a picture on the internet of a pale girl with raven black hair wrapping around her from the breeze and large eyes that were the most haunting color of blue that blended to teal with hints of green in them.  Her features were delicate and doll like but there was something about her that made you want to fear her.  She was a killer.

That picture, that single, simplistic picture inspired Prophecy.  In 4 days I have a 30K story written for my niece and she loved it.  However, I didn’t.  I took some of the characters and wrote them out better and started over.  Five weeks later, Prophecy: Revelation was completed at 247,000 words.  Immediately I jumped to the second installment, Contrivance, and the third, Nemesis.  But were they any good?  I was too scared to ask.  My friend at work demanded that I let her read one since she was out of stuff to read, this friend is 50 years old with a book collection that rivals any library, so she read Revelation.  Four pages in, she walked around the aisle to my cubical and punched me in the arm and told me that this was brilliant.
In twelve weeks I wrote three full books totally more than 600,000 words.  I thought that there was no way that writing was this easy!  That is when I discovered this little thing called “WORD COUNT” and that my Prophecy Saga was really long in the printed sense but the stories are quick and addictive and action filled.  Either way, it just snowballed from there.

What triumphs and challenges have you faced in your writing?

Overcoming the Twilight comparison was very hard.  Since I’m a fellow Northwest Girl, I base my shit off of what I know, and I know the Northwest.  Because of commercial success of other vampire or werewolf books based in the Northwest, it causes an automatic Twilight comparison.  It is beyond frustrating and two pages into any of my work, the notion is thrown out the window, but it is that initial comparison that drives me insane.

What is some memorable feedback that you’ve received from your fans?
Anytime I hear, THIS KICKS TWILIGHTS ASS is a proud moment for me—I’m ├╝ber petty like that.  There has been many moment.  I started writing Jan 2, 2009 so this approaching Jan will mark my two year mark, but in these two years, I have gotten emails from people about how UNDILUTED MINDS helped them laugh again after the sudden loss of their young husband, loss of a friend, mother, father, and so forth.  Two fans named children after two of the characters from my books and asked for my blessing and permission—slightly awkward.  Ninian and Kellan from Prophecy Saga, their story helped a young man in South America come out to his family, and for the first time he felt happy being who he really is.  But I think overall are the comments that they love that a woman is strong and doesn’t need the man.  That is my thing; strong women that are smart and independent.  Hearing girls and women, even men, make the comment that it’s about damn time that a woman kicked some ass in a book, that makes me smile.  Even Kennedi, frail and broken, sick and physically weak Kennedi, is mentally strong and it shows outwardly and she is a fan favorite because of it.  Strong doesn’t mean they can bench press a damn Buick, it means that they don’t need a sparkling crutch to give them self worth.

Name one thing you’d do/ buy if you became a mega best-seller?

I want to build an environmentally friendly house with a moat around it filled with dragons to eat people.

Tell us a little about your next project.

At the moment I am working on The Damned of Lost Creek: Requiem of the Damned.  I am also brainstorming an epic old school styled Fantasy with my best friend and writing buddy Jolyn Palliata; we spent three hours working on the basics for book one of that project yesterday, and she was amazed that I rambled for over 7,000 words in that time.  There is also the Hush Anthology that I randomly pulled out of my ass Saturday while I was supposed to be taking a break from writing.  It will be a collection of shorter ghost stories, which I’ve never written before, but I have some ideas in my head for it. 

“If you are a dreamer, come in.  If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer.  If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” Shel Silverstein

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Writer's Christmas Wish List.

First off, I must thank @Branli from Twitter for this wonderful discovery. She led me to the most delicious website ever: Cafe Press Writer's Gifts I spent hours going through the site, drooling over everything in sight. Here are a few awesome items.

 And one of my faves (I had to zoom it in) is a tee shirt featuring Shakespearean insults! Excuse me while I have a nerdgasm!
This was the US site, but there are sites and options for almost all of the other countries. :)
These are all going in my letter to Santa. Happy Holidays to all!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December is "Try a debut author" Month...'cuz I said so.

We hear everywhere that book sales are down and publishers aren't buying as many books. Who's fault is it? Well....besides the crappy economy, it is our fault as readers. We need to buy more books, especially from new authors. After all, what else is there to do when we're awaiting the next Black Dagger Brotherhood/Dark Hunters/ Etc?  When I was looking around I found this really cool site: Dark Faerie Tales and they had this nifty list.

Pretty cool, huh? But I'm certain there's more. So, if you know of any other 2010 paranormal romance debuts, please stop by and share!