Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Next Big Thing Meme

Robin Hall of Robin Writes tagged me for The Next Big Thing and I'm just so excited absolutely thrilled to participate. Fun, fun, fun.

What is the working title of your book? DEVASTATION

Where did the idea come from for the book? During the summer of 2010, Alex, my then 15 y/o daughter, and I took a road trip. I drummed on the steering wheel to Pour Some Sugar on Me, embarrassing her (just one more service I provide),  and she doodled away in her sketchbook. One of her amazing creations was a girl angel wearing a determined expression and battle gear, including breast plate and weapons, the whole nine yards.

The image of that angel with her wings, armor and sword wouldn't leave me alone. It badgered me, tap-tapping on my shoulder until I paid it some attention. I wondered what life would be like for her if she were a regular girl who woke up one morning with wings. (BTW, DEVASTATION isn't about angels) I talked it over with Alex and we thought it'd make a great book. I started DEVASTATION the next day.

What genre does your book fall under? I've grappled with that one quite a lot actually. However, after many consultations (stalking #askagent on Twitter and other such activities), I've decided it's best described as YA Romantic (Soft) Sci-Fi.
The problem was the science in my 'sci-fi 'is almost non-existent. But, everyone keeps saying 'if your book has aliens then it's science fiction.' Someone suggested I check Wikipedia (yeah, I know) to see what sub-genres Sci-Fi encompassed. I found 'Soft Sci-Fi' and it's the closest I've come to really capturing the feel of my novel.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in the movie rendition? Oh, what a fun question! OK, I admit, I have thought about it - a lot. More than I should, considering I don't even have an agent yet, much less a book deal with a publisher... But, if you're gonna dream big...
(You know, I think this is my favorite question to answer -gives me a reason to go look at all those fabulous guys.)

I so wish Zac Efron was still in his late teens or early twenties, because he'd be PERFECT for Gabe... icy blue eyes, dark hair. He's an absolute YUMster. But, since he's now a little older... bummer... I'm not sure who would be best for the part, maybe someone similar to Robbie Amell or Matt Lanter. Whoever plays Gabe's role needs to be nuclear hot and built (I mean really built).

For Lexa... hmmm.... Emma Stone or someone with those clear eyes (which would be perfect if they were sage green - but there's always contacts). She needs to be beautiful, sassy, but still  have that sweet side.

And then there's Nathaniel...  I'd say whoever takes on Nathaniel's character has to fall somewhere between Grey Damon and Jeremy Sumpter type looks. Blond is important (but there's always hair dye), the golden eyes can be taken care of with contacts. But the smokin' hot body (like call-the-fire-department-smokin'-hot) and attitude will have to be all natural.
FYI: My talented daughter, Alex, drew these depictions of Gabe, Lexa, and Nathaniel.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book? Oh, man! This is probably the hardest question.

At sixteen, Lexa, who’s terrified of heights, learns she’s half alien, sprouts giant-ass wings, and is abducted by genocidal aliens; she'll have to overcome her phobia and fly to freedom or end up light years from home.

Okay, I know... I cheated... but really? One sentence? It's a 95k word novel for Pete's sake!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I really want an agent. Nothing wrong with self-pubbing, but I like the idea of an agent and all they bring to the party,  experience, foreign rights, contract negotiations, all that jazz.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? All in all, I'd say I worked a total of about nine months on the first draft.

May we see the intro? Sure! I'd love it if you wanted to read some of DEVASTATION. You can read the first chapter here on this blog. If you'd like to read more, check out the first several chapters on Authonomy.com.

What other book(s) would you compare it to within your genre? Now that's a toughie. I've struggled with this almost as much as I did the genre question. I've been told it's similar to James Patterson's Angel Experiment books, although I admit, I've not read them. I started to read the first one and got sidetracked after the first few pages and never made it back (not sure what that says).

I've said, if I could throw in some song references along with movies, then DEVASTATION is Katy Perry's E.T. melded with Van Halen's Love Walks In, woven through the book I AM NUMBER FOUR blended with a handful of the movie ALIEN and a tiny bit of SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL(movie).

Who or What inspired you to write this book? As I said in an earlier question, my daughter's drawing inspired me.

What else about this book might pique your readers interest? DEVASTATION'S characters are human-alien hybrids with feathered wings; unique characters. As for interest, everyone deals with self-doubt, wanting what we think we can’t have, and handling life’s curve balls. Add to that love, danger, and loss. DEVASTATION has been read by readers ranging in age from their teens through retirement age - the retiree is a sixty-seven-year-old gentleman and he loved it - who knew? (the teens loved it too :))

So that's my NEXT BIG THING MEME entry. Now I'm gonna tag... hmmmm.... let's see.... :
Fiona McLaren
Jessica Salyer 
Kelley Lynn
Lizzy Froehle

Your turn ladies.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Allie Jean: Author Interview

 Last week, I reviewed Allie Jean's LEGACY OF A DREAMER. This week, I bring you a little closer to author Allie Jean with my very first Author Interview. Don't forget to go get signed up to win a copy of her book LEGACY OF A DREAMER (click here and go to the bottom of the page).

KH: Where is your favorite place to write?

Allie Jean: During the summer I like to take my laptop out on the patio and write while my kids swim. If I want some sun, I’ll take a note pad out to a lounge chair and sip on some wine while I brain storm. During the winter, I love sitting by the fireplace with some slippers, a cozy blanket, and my laptop to write.

KH: Did you have nightmares as a teen?

Allie Jean: Not so much as a teen, no. I did when I was younger, say in the 6-10 range. They were very vivid and dark, with exquisite details that made them seem very realistic. They felt more like a story than a jumbled mess of images that don’t make sense. Most of the nightmares Chantal has in the books are based on ones I had myself.

KH: Finish this sentence: If I could live anywhere…

Allie Jean: This is a tough one. If I could live anywhere, I’d have to say that I’d like to live by the beach somewhere. I love the beauty of the Northern California beaches, so perhaps there. Maybe near Carmel.

KH: What inspired Legacy of a Dreamer?

Allie Jean: Legacy was inspired by an imaginary friend I had when I was younger. It was a shadow in the shape of a man with a tall hat on. He’d be there every night and I would talk to him when I was scared. Later, when my kids asked if I’d had an imaginary friend, I remembered this shadow. I thought how cool it would’ve been if that shadow had been real, and my imagination took off from there.

KH: Is there music or television on while you write?

Allie Jean: I listen to a great variety of music while I write, and I’m currently putting together a play list for the Dreamer Series. It will be posted to the website once it’s done. The most common background noise I write to, however, are my kids playing.

KH: Outside of your own, what's your favorite book?

Allie Jean: Another tough one. I’m a huge supernatural fan, so I love the Twilight series, of course. I think the biggest series that inspired my writing would have to be the Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare. I also love the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Hunger Games, and Harry Potter.

KH: As an author, are you a planner (outline) or a pantser (by the seat of)?

Allie Jean: It’s funny because I’m both. Some things I write just come to me. Others I plan. As for as the Dreamer Series, I currently have about seven books vaguely outlined. I know where I want the story to go and how it will end. Some of the specifics are still a mystery, but I like that in my writing. Sometimes if I plan too much, my characters take me in a different direction. It’s funny how that happens. Sometimes I’m just as surprised as the readers. I love it when I can say, “well…I didn’t see that one coming.”

KH: Chocolate or vanilla?

Allie Jean: Definitely chocolate

KH: Would Chantel (the MC of LEGACY) want to hang out with you and vice versa? Why?

Allie Jean: I would say yes. Chantal is a good mixture of a few very important people in my life. She also has some of my characteristics, so I’d say we’d get along great. LOL. I would have to say that I’d love the chance to go all “Buffy” on some monsters from the Shade, too.

KH: Phobias? Do your phobias ever work their way into your writing?

Allie Jean: I’d have to go with yes on this one. I don’t think I have a strict phobia of anything, although I detest spiders with a passion. That being said, the nightmares in my youth were based on fears I had of ridiculous things. For example, I had one reoccurring nightmare of a man dressed like an ice cream man who’d come around the neighborhood and tickle the kids to death. I remember waking up panting and crying because the man was tickling me until I couldn’t breathe. And before you ask, no, I did not have a traumatic childhood. I hated it when I was tickled, though. I guess that fear played out in my dreams.

KH: What do you do to get your creative juices flowing?

Allie Jean: Sometimes I’ll lie down on my bed and just close my eyes. I’ll think about a scene I want to write and just let my mind wander. Other times, I’ll put on a movie that has the same feel to the scene I’m writing. For example, if I’m writing a fight scene, I’ll put on a Buffy episode or Suckerpunch.

KH: Which authors inspired you as a young adult?

Allie Jean: I didn’t really have much time to read when I was in my early 20’s. I had four kids by the age of 25, so most of my time was spent chasing after them. When I did start reading again, I read whatever I could get my hands on. Some of it was great, some not so great. It was around this time that I started writing stories of my own. So to say one specific author inspired me would not be true. But if I had to choose one, I say JK Rowling. I think the world she created was vast and original, and that is exactly what I inspire to do with the world of the Fallen and the Shade. Although the Fallen concept isn’t original by any means, the Shade is and the concept of the Oracles. There seems to be a ton of repetition these days and originality is few and far between. That’s what I strive for, and JK Rowling achieved that with the Harry Potter series. That motivates me and should prove to other writers that originality is possible and inspiring.

KH: Best advice you’ve ever received about writing/publishing?

Allie Jean: Don’t get discouraged. Promoting is a HUGE part of this industry, and at first, it was a little daunting. But after a few weeks of self-deprecation, I realized I’m not in this business for the money. I don’t depend on the money. I’m here to tell a story, and as long as I entertain one person, I’ll be happy. After that great advice, my mojo came back. LOL.

KH: Looking back, what’s the one thing you wish you knew before starting your first novel?

Allie Jean: How to write one! I majored in human biology in college, so the art of grammar and punctuation did not come easy to me. The structure of a novel, too, I didn’t realize until after Legacy was completed. Luckily, the story seemed to fit the basic outline of a novel, so I wasn’t too upset.

KH: What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Allie Jean: Don’t give up! Don’t get discouraged. Remember the reason you want to write: to tell your story! If you think you’ll become the next JK Rowling, the chances are that won’t happen. Even if you have the best written book and the most original idea, there’s a lot of competition out there. But that’s not the point, right??? You are a storyteller, a dreamer, a visionary…and you want your story to be told. So tell it! Put the rest aside and entertain. Dream. Be inspired and keep true to yourself. The rest will come in time.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Writer Therapy

The lovely folks over at Writer Therapy are hosting a blog hop and have asked participants to write a blog about their 'writer therapy'. So here I am, one more contest, writing my blog - which is supposed to be posted this morning. I still need to get showered and dressed for the day, take my daughter to school, and head to my mammogram appointment, where I will be tortured examined sometime around nine-thirty this morning. I only tell you about the mammogram because it's Breast Cancer Awareness month and I want to do my part to remind all of you to take care of your bodies.

Needless to say, this post will probably be short, since I failed to do it over the weekend, as I should have, but instead was reading (yep, that reading thing got me again).

My manuscript is finished, so lately I've been working on edits and sending out queries.  However, when I was still in the thick of plotting and coming up with scenes, there were many times I'd get stuck or was too tired to trudge on toward my goal of a finished book.

Each time that happened I found it helpful to immerse myself in a movie with a theme similar to whatever scene I wanted to write. If I wanted to write a romantic scene, I'd watch Twilight - again - or some other romantic movie. The emotions from the movie would energize me to move forward with my manuscript. For battle scenes, if I didn't know where to go next or found myself lacking the excitement needed to get it done, I'd watch a movie with some action to get my blood pumping.

I also love to listen to music while I write (at this very moment, Madonna is crooning Lucky Star). Music can be so vibrant and inspiring. Creativity flows from the speakers like ribbons of rainbows wrapping me in their warmth, whispering inspiration into my soul.

It's not really the 'done thing', I know, but I wish I could use songs as comps in my query letters. It'd be so easy. Finding comp titles for my book has been my impossible task - and I really mean impossible, harder than query or synopsis writing. The few books I'd hoped to use just didn't work for me for one reason or another.

Songs, however, would make it so much easier. If I could only give them the title of movies crossed with songs, then they'd get a real feel for my story.

It'd go something like this:

DEVASTATION is Katy Perry's E.T. melded with Van Halen's Love Walks In, woven through the book I AM NUMBER FOUR blended with a handful of the movie ALIEN and a tiny bit of SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL(movie).

See how nicely that all came together? Do you get the sense of the teen love story between best friends that are aliens (mine are human-alien hybrids), who have special powers,  mixed with a scary-ass monster on a spaceship they're trying to escape? Let me know what you think. Perhaps we can get agents to accept songs as comps... it could be a fabulous new trend.

So those are my therapies, movies and music. I'll be hopping around the blogs later this afternoon to see what your therapies are  when I get back from the torture chamber doctor's office. See you soon!

Here are the links to the other blogs signed up for this blog-hop. So hop on over to some of them.

PLEASE NOTE: I made it back from having my mammogram... I want to say it wasn't nearly as bad as I had expected and certainly not bad enough that I won't go every year, as I should, to be screened. I went to the new Baylor Women's Imaging Center in McKinney, Texas. They got me in and out quickly. The Corporate Director, Ethel, who did my mammogram, was the perfect mix of compassionate medical caregiver and professionalism. Overall a great experience.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review of LEGACY OF A DREAMER Allie Jean

 I recently connected with Allie Jean online at World Literary Cafe, at their Author-Blogger Connection. One email led to another and now I'm reviewing her novel, LEGACY OF A DREAMER. She's graciously sent me two SIGNED copies of the book, one I will give away, the other will be donated to my local library.

Come on back next week to check out my interview with Allie Jean.

LEGACY of a DREAMER is the story of eighteen-year-old Chantel Breelan, a foster kid, newly aged out of 'the system'. Suffering from vivid nightmares most of her life, Chantel has had her 'shadow man', Nick, to confide in since she was a little girl. The nonchalant shadow man is always there in the muted shadows of the night watching over her. He brings her comfort in a world offering little of the precious commodity, even though Chantel knows he's not a 'real person'. Or is he?

When Chantel moves out of her foster home, she finds her nightmares have materialized in her waking world and she's haunted by mysterious monsters from the shadows. She has no idea who they are or what they want, but she'll soon find out. I'm not going to go into a play-by-play of the book, that would ruin it for you and we wouldn't want that.

However, I will tell you that Allie Jean has created the fantastic world of the Shade, where evil lurks and warriors who fight the evil travel undetected by the 'real world'. 'A creature in the Shade was nothing but shadow, immortal, deadly and impenetrable.' And there is 'a countless horde of them' to be fought. Ms. Jean's monsters are plucked from your worst nightmares.

Allie's characters are realistic and relatable, which is so important to enable readers to really sink into the story. Chantel has the hardened shell of a foster kid who's been abandoned and hurt, with the soft insides of a girl who wants to be understood and loved. Nick/Mathias, a warrior dedicated to keeping Chantel safe even if at the cost of his own life, finds himself breaking the rules and falling for his charge. These two characters vacillate between attraction and irritation as they try to avoid death at the hands of the Evil One's minions, keeping the reader enthralled to the very end.

Okay, if you know me, you know I pride myself on being truthful. You can always count on me to shoot straight and be bluntly honest, often to a fault. That said, there are a couple of things about LEGACY OF A DREAMER I was slightly disappointed with. I'm reluctant to share these with you, because I really enjoyed this book and think you will too. So read this knowing I'm probably pickier than most and, because I've been editing my own manuscript for the last two months, I'm most likely more sensitive about these things than other people.

First, although the characters were engaging, the plot well developed, and the world building fantastic, the editing could have been much better. There were a few spelling errors and missed quotation marks. Secondly, in my opinion, the writing could have been tighter, more succinct with less filters and wordiness. Please don't let these nit-picky things keep you from enjoying this wonderful story, you most likely won't even notice them.

On my five star scale, I'd award this book three and half stars. So use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win your very own copy of LEGACY OF A DREAMER.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Okay, this was my second give away and I had two copies of LEGACY OF A DREAMER, so I decided to give them both away. Congratualtions to Nerissa Depperschmidt and Monica Calangian!