Friday, February 27, 2009

GCC Author interview and giveaway: Carolyn Jewel

Hey girlfriends! Today we're fortunate enough to chat with a member of the fabulous Girlfriends Cyber Circuit: Carolyn Jewel. She's here to tell us all about her paranormal romances, inspiration for her writing and also, Jet Li....

And it just gets better from there-- she's also generously
offered to give away a copy of her latest paranormal romance, MY WICKED ENEMY. Want to enter? Just leave a comment below. And now, on to the good stuff:

When did you first begin writing?

I suppose the pat answer is, ever since I can remember. I've always been making up stories. But I began writing seriously when I was 27 which was when it occured to me that my dream of writing a novel would never come true if I didn't start doing some actual writing.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

Wherever I have to. As Jack London so famously said, You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. The inspiration I like best comes when I'm not looking for it. Those moments when my mind is occupied with other things; a great book, a movie, when I'm cooking or exercising. Alas panic seems to be a great inspirer for me. This makes me very sad as I would rather have the muse come down from on high and annoint me with sweet perfume and rose petals along with the answer to all my writing issues. But when I'm getting panicky about finishing and polishing something, I generally end up tuning out my editorial voice and inspiration kicks in. It's painful, but it works.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I'm working on proposals for my next paranormal romances from Grand Central Publishing. Some people have classed them as Urban Fantasy, but they're marketed as paranormal romance. They're set in the present time and involve magic wielding humans who quite often aren't so nice and demons who are fighting for their survival. The first in the series was My Wicked Enemy, which came out in August of 2008. My Forbidden Desire will be out in June 2009.

How do you usually begin your stories—with a character or with a plot?

I am very much a character-driven writer. My stories develop from the characters and the plot depends on what they turn out to be like. Which means I throw away a lot of plot ideas as I write my characters. I have tried mightily and, I must say, in vain, to do more up front plotting.

It sounds so efficient! But it just doesn't work for me. All that happens when I do that is I waste time writing plots my characters refuse to fit in.

Do a quick character study on yourself: don't forget to add in the fun stuff, like favorite foods and things you love/hate!

I work as a Microsoft SQL Server database administrator, which means I am a geek with pretty much all that implies except for the pocket protector. My writing is the opposite of the kind of logical, technical knowledge required to support enterprise databases. I am detail oriented – to a fault, I'm afraid. I even drive myself crazy with that. I have an MA in English, which took me forever to get because I was working full time while I was in graduate school. The degree was one of the best things I ever did for myself and for my writing. The time management required for the combination of grad school, the day job, writing and parenting resulted in my learning to ignore things like neatness and to develop tunnel vision. I have to look at my monitor. Any glance to the side might result in the burning need to straighten up. Except in dire cases of writer's procrastination, I succeed in this.

I am organized, but you'd never know it from looking at my work space. My favorite food is chocolate (duh!). I used to be a coffee fiend and I often miss it but don't miss the cost. My now 13 year old son is two inches taller than I am and still growing. We love action movies and have been on a mission to see every move ever made by Jet Li and Jackie Chan. We have reached the point where there's not much we haven't seen by them. I know my martial arts movies. I am not-so-secretly in love with Jet Li. Swoon.

Thanks, Carolyn! Want to win a free copy of Carolyn's book? Just leave a comment below and you're entered! Want extra entries? That can be arranged.... Blog about it for another entry. Become of follower of this blog for another entry, too.

I'm so proud to tell you that this contest is part of the Book Giveaway Carnival which is being hosted by the fabulous Bookroom Reviews!

The winner will be announced on March 13th.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Big congrats go out to Bridget3420-- she's won a signed copy of Mindy Klasky's MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL!

Not a winner this time around? That's okay! Tomorrow, we'll be giving away a copy of Carolyn Jewel's MY WICKED ENEMY. So, don't forget to check back here for a chance to win more books!

Monday, February 23, 2009

And the winner is....

Taraji P. Henson! Okay, no, she didn't win an acting award at last night's Oscars, but she's my official pick for best dressed! Sure, Anne Hathaway was Audrey-Hepburn-lovely (and she sings! what a talent!), and Natalie Portman was picture perfect beautiful, but Taraji's dress truly took my breath away. The color, the fabric... everything about it was perfection for me. And the way she paired it with that red bag was just marvelous. Couple that with her fabulous hair and makeup and a necklace that could've come to the party by itself, and you've got a truly winning Oscar look!

She was also funny, adorable and charming on the Red Carpet. Just so sweet and bubbly in every interview she gave. Taraji, you are now officially my new favorite Hollywood starlet!

(Clearly she needs to acquire the film rights to SCOT and JACK and then star in both movies as the lovely and fabulous Vanessa....)

Now, you know I like to keep it positive on this blog, so I'm not going to mention anything about my pick for worst dressed. But, you know who you are. (And I never said anything about being nice in the comments section, so please feel free to tell us your catty opinions on worst dressed....)

Special mention goes out to Angelina Jolie's emeralds. Did you see that ring? Those earrings?! Talk about jewelry that could've come to the party by itself! Words cannot describe....

And special thanks to for the fabulous pics! There are lots more on his site, if you'd like to place your own vote for best dressed!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Would your dress like a complimentary beverage?

I'm guest blogging over at Travelogged today, a fun site about all things travel. I'll be talking about wedding dresses and why you might not want to shove yours into an overhead bin....

I hope you'll check it out!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm so lost...

Is it just me, or are you totally confused with what's happening on LOST? The producers keep saying that this season they'll be answering lots of our questions, but I feel like they just keep piling on new ones.

I still don't know where Walt is/ why the Others ever wanted him, what the numbers mean, why people call Hurley "Hugo," what the deal is with the four-toe statue, who Jacob is, why Jack's dead dad keeps walking around, and a whole host of other things that I'm probably not even thinking about right now.

Phew! That was a mouthful.

But on a lighter note, so far this season, Sawyer has spent considerable time with his shirt off. So I really shouldn't be complaining that much.

On a lighter lighter note, one of my favorite guilty pleasures is back-- THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER. And on the premiere episode, this guy is back! And Patti totally yells at him. It's classic.

So at least one show is answering the burning questions that are on viewers minds. You want to know whatever happened to the dude who proposed to a girl on the first date? Well, I hate to spoil it for you, but those two broke up already.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day interview and giveaway with Mindy Klasky!

It's almost Valentine's Day, so I thought that I'd give you all something sweet today! And sweet it is-- we've got author Mindy Klasky here to chat! And she's generously offered to give away a copy of her latest book, MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL. By now, you should know the drill: to enter, just leave a comment below!

Now, on to the good stuff:

1. Tell us about your most recent novel in 25 words or less.

In MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL, librarian-witch Jane Madison works a desperate spell to regain lost powers, turning her magical and personal lives upside down.

(Whew! That was harder than I thought it would be! And yes, "librarian-witch" IS one word. Why do you ask? And before I go any further, thank you, Brenda, for giving me the chance to chat here!)

2. What are you working on right now?

I'm hard at work on WHEN GOOD WISHES GO BAD, the second volume in the As You Wish series, about a wish-granting genie who always manages to complicate the lives of the people he's supposed to help. (The first volume in this new series, HOW NOT TO MAKE A WISH, will be in stores in October 2009.) I've drawn on my experience as a stage manager to tell these stories, which all take place in the emotion-charged world of small theater companies. GOOD WISHES involves guerilla gardening, true love, embezzlement, failed Valentines dreams, and the Peace Corps.

3. What is your favorite part of writing? Least favorite?

I love editing sections of my work that I've already written. I write a novel chapter by chapter, drafting about 5000 words at a time. When I finish my first draft, I read through it, making substantial changes (the skeleton stays the same, but the structure of every single sentence is twisted, tweaked, and turned on its head.) I love that stage -- playing with my own words. I often read bits out loud, looking for the rhythms of real speech, searching for the flow of true thought. (After the major edit of each chapter, I do another one or two read-throughs, for stylistic consistence, grammar, and spelling, but it's the first edit that I love most.)

My least favorite part of writing is creating first drafts. I find a million ways to distract myself before I settle in to write -- I answer interview questions (ahem!), I play online Boggle, I file my fingernails.... Once I get a hundred words on the screen, I can move forward without hesitation, but that first blank screen throws me every time.

4. How do you usually begin your stories -- with a character or with a plot?

I generally begin my stories with a character. I get to know her personality traits, the quirks that make her unique. Those traits often depend on the standard rules of her society, so I expand my knowledge of the story from character to world-building. (World-building, a staple of fantasy fiction, also applies to other genres. In MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL, for example, I create a realistic library with believable patron, um, challenges, to better illustrate my main character. Part of my goal as a writer is to make readers understand how actual libraries work.) Only after I know the general surroundings do I figure out the specific plot twists that will display that character best, that will lay out the structure of my world and all of its complications.

I outline my novels while I write, taking advantage of the software program Scrivener, to create files for each chapter. Generally, I stick with my character sketches and world-building close to 100% as I write, but my plot slips and slides, as I discover new ways to heighten the tension of the story (read: As I throw previously unplanned complications across my characters' paths!)

5. Do a quick character study on yourself: don't forget to add in the fun stuff, like favorite foods and things you love/hate!

I am a happily married (I met my husband on full-time writer (after careers as a lawyer and a librarian) who is currently owned by two cats. While, as a kid, I wished that I had long, straight, blonde hair, I've learned to be satisfied with my shoulder- length dark brown waves. My eyes are an unremarkable brown, noteworthy only for the fact that I am legally blind (but my vision is corrected to 20/20 by contact lenses.)

I'm far more likely to be wearing jeans than a dress. While I might have remembered to put on a bit of blush and a dash of mascara this morning, I definitely forgot to add lipstick. On weekends, I sometimes stay in pajamas all day (adding slippers and a scarf in the winter -- I'm almost always cold.)

I am in love with most forms of cheese and nearly any hearty bread.
Not coincidentally, I am almost always counting points with Weight Watchers. (I can count to some shockingly high numbers...) I prefer dark chocolate to milk and tea to coffee. If tapioca were the only dessert on earth, I'd never eat dessert again. Mustard is the condiment of the devil.

My to-be-read pile is constantly threatening to collapse on top of me. Lately, I've been reading a lot of romance (I'm a judge for the Romance Writers of America RITA contest), and I'm learning about graphic novels. I wish that I had more time to keep up with mysteries and with literary fiction and with creative non-fiction, and, and, and....

I'm sure that I'm forgetting major character traits, but they'll reveal themselves as I continue to write the story of my life!

Brenda - thanks again for the chance to answer some questions! I'll keep an eye on comments and answer any more questions that people ask. (And I look forward to sending a signed copy of MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL to the one person that Brenda chooses, from everyone who posts in comments.) Happy Valentines Day!

Want to win a free copy of Mindy's book? Just leave a comment below and you're entered! Want extra entries? That can be arranged.... Blog about it for another entry. Become of follower of this blog for another entry, too.

The winner will be announced on February 26th.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Big congrats go out to Purplg8r from Windemere, Florida-- she's won a signed copy of WIFE GOES ON by Leslie Lehr!

Not a winner this time around? That's okay! Tomorrow, we'll be giving away a copy of Mindy Klasky's MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL. So, don't forget to check back here for a chance to win more books!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Are we getting meaner?

First it started with Stephen King, when he publicly said that Stephenie Meyer wasn't a very good writer.

Then I heard about Faye Dunaway attacking Hilary Duff, saying that she wished that they'd found a real actress to do the re-make of her classic film, Bonnie and Clyde.

And she's not the only one to have choice words for a younger entertainer taking on one of her classics:  Etta James had many, many nasty things to say about Beyonce and her performance of "At Last" at the Inauguration.

So, my question is:  are we all just getting meaner?  With the internet and the blogosphere, is it that we just feel able to say whatever is on our minds, no matter how potentially hurtful to the object of our scorn?  

Or is it that the ones being attacked are so high profile that they've opened themselves up to it?  Perhaps that's a little of what's going on here:  have the ones being bashed surpassed the bashers in each of their respective fields?

Still, if you don't have to face the person who you're bashing, is it easier to bash?  Would Stephen, Faye, or Etta been as free to rant if the subject of their hatred was standing right there in front of them?  As anyone who's ever been in a writer's workshop knows, it is incredibly hard to critique the work of a person sitting across the table from you.

So, Stephen, Faye and Etta:  can't we all just get along?!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Things I'm obsessed with this week....

Here are some links you'll love:

Ever wondered what would happen if Barack's life were an episode of The Hills? Newsweek figured it out for you.

I just have no words for this.

Yay, Lisa Loeb! How much do we love her?

And, in the I-can't-wait-for-this-weekend department, this movie preview is HIGH-larious!