Saturday, December 23, 2006

Season's Greetings


Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) from the place where we leave sushi and passion orange juice out for Santa (who arrives in a canoe) ...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

characters, in 50 words or less

Somewhat inspired by the American Title finalists who are being judged on their hero/heroine descriptions right now, I’ve decided to write my own descriptions (very much inspired by the enneagram workshop I am taking):

Mason: Not only does the obsessively disciplined perfectionist fall in love with someone who mocks his high standards, but he falls down on the job, forcing the man he’s been hired to protect to save his life. He’ll have to relax his standards to keep his love (and sanity).

Soren: With an anti-authoritarian streak as deep as the Mariana Trench, he nearly gets himself killed in an effort to prove his worth and gain control of his own life. Will he give up the impulsive, self-destructive behavior in time?


Boy, am I glad I don’t have to write the blurbs that go with the book. Whew.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sisters In Crime HI meeting

Sisters In Crime: A world-wide organization of 3400 members, offering networking, advice and support to mystery authors.

We are men and women, authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers and librarians bound by our affection for the mystery, and our support of women who write mysteries.

If you love mysteries, crime fiction and suspense, this group is for you!

Come to the McCully Library Meeting Room on Tuesday, November 21, at 7 p.m. McCully Library is across the street from McCully Bicycle on King Street. Parking behind library.

Meet local writers, readers, share favorite books
Meet guest speakers: authors, crime lab specialists, detectives, K-9 corps, and others
Enjoy an evening learning something new and exciting
Share the experience with new friends
Consult with others on writing and publishing questions

Questions? Call McCully Library, 973-1099 or email atkinsond001@hawaii.rr.com


I’m so excited. I’m finally in a group with actual meetings. Well, no, that didn’t sound right. I’m finally in a group that has actual meetings where I can attend them. Whoohoo. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

to outline or not to outline?

I’m beginning to wonder if I shot myself in the foot.

I didn’t outline THE PROTECTOR. In fact, I was never one to outline, period. Then I got stuck in the second half and started outlining one or two chapters ahead and it got me to the finish line.

Naturally, I thought I’d outline the next book since the outline tool worked so well for the second half of THE PROTECTOR. So I have the first half of THE GHOST CRAB outlined. That book has been on my mind since last fall, that is the fall of 2005.

Do I have to show much for it? Nope. A few chapters, measly word count. I drag my feet. I stall. I rewrite. I edit.

I wonder if I shot myself in the foot with this outline business. It’s like I often hear from other writers. They don’t outline cause it kills the story for them, it takes away the “what if?” factor and answers their questions.

Honestly, I think it’s only part of the problem. It’s not like I know the intricacies of the entire story. I have no clue still about how to get the bad guy or what would give him away. There’s plenty to discover and work with.

I think it’s time I sucked it up, sat down and just wrote the darn thing.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I'm a Seven

We’re probably not thinking the same thing right now :-)

I’m taking this enneagram workshop that deals with different personality types and specifically their flaws (it’s all about the conflict, baby). One of the first things we did, of course, was determine what type we are.

Turns out I am a Seven sharing the spotlight with a Five and an Eight (I took the quiz).

I can’t argue with the Seven. I left home when I was sixteen. I chose a career that all but guaranteed I had the opportunity to move all over the world, I emigrated to the US, changed careers and became the first person in my family to go to college (in a foreign country) and I’ve now lived on three continents. Yep, I’m a Seven, all right :-)

I won’t argue with the Five or Eight either. LOL.

Since you’re confused by now, here the nine types:

Type One is the Perfectionist: these are the people who have very high standards for themselves and for the world. There's never any question about what's right and what's wrong—no gray areas—and there's never any question that they'll constantly try to DO and LIVE FOR what's right. Their motto is "I work toward perfection in an imperfect world," and their greatest desires are to avoid criticism and to be right.


Type Two is the Nurturer, the Helper, the Giver: who loves taking care of other people and feeling needed. They'll go out of their way to nurture everyone around them, always focusing on what OTHERS need more than on what THEY need. In fact, they'll frequently neglect their own needs and wind up feeling kind of hurt that "with all I do for everyone else, what thanks do I get?"

Type Three is the Achiever, the Succeeder, the Performer: these people are very aware of the right image. They're always onstage, projecting whatever the situation requires...you need somebody to fill a particular role, a Three will do it. Success, career, achievement are important to them...no matter what's going on around them, they're gonna look really, REALLY good.

Type Four is the Romantic, the Artist, the Individualist: these are people who love drama and tragedy and falling in love. They have BIG feelings, and they don't like feeling ordinary because that's too flat. Nothing is ever quite grand enough, long enough...they dream about the perfect love, and they're the best at offering wholehearted sympathy when you're feeling low.

Type Five is the Observer, the Thinker: they'd rather be behind a book than out there involved in the world. They like to keep back, keep to themselves, study like crazy (but always from a distance). They tend to "compartmentalize" their lives: work here, family there, one friend here, another over there.... They're proud of getting by with very little, and they're careful about guarding their time and their privacy and their personal space.

Type Six is the Defender, the Trooper: these are the people who get the job done. They're very aware of any possible threat to their well-being or the people they love; they're very aware of the rules and determined to always keep them...or to always break them. (That's the counter-phobic Six, the James Dean rebel type.) Either way, Sixes are very loyal, always on the lookout for danger, good to have on your side.

Type Seven is the Adventurer, the Enthusiast: they want to keep having new experiences, try whatever there is. They're interested in everything and everybody, at least at first glance...and they love to plan things, plan trips, plan new activities -- whether or not they actually carry out those plans. They like to keep all their options open rather than settle for just one of anything.

Type Eight is the Controller, the Aggressor, the Chief: this person is a self-confident, natural leader. They're used to taking charge, getting things done, making sure everyone gets a fair shake. They go after what they want, always keeping an eye out for the people they care about; they're strong individuals who take it upon themselves to defend the weak...kind of a Wild West sheriff mentality.

Type Nine is the Peacemaker, the Mediator: they want everyone to get along and everything to be nice. They don't like conflict; they don't like having to pick sides...even picking chocolate or vanilla. They tend to go along with the flow, whatever that might be; and instead of exploring their own preferences, they like to just kick back with TV or food or whatever's comfortable.

What are you?
(Drop me a line if you’d like to see the quiz that goes with the nine types.)

I’m still trying to figure out what my characters are. Mason’s an Eight. James is a Three. But I have trouble pegging Soren. I think he’s a Seven. But he’s a Scorpio, too, and all that passion and drama would almost point to a Two.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

National Novel Writing Month

It’s November, and you know what that means: it’s the National Novel Writing Month. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to produce a 50,000-word novel by midnight, local time, on November 30th. The quality of the product isn’t stressed nearly as much as the quantity of words. The idea is to get that novel out of your head and onto a page. You can spent the eleven months between NaNoWriMo to edit and polish and rewrite.

I am SO tempted to participate. I don’t think I’d get close to 50,000 words. I’m simply too busy. My priority is the edit of THE PROTECTOR, closely followed by swimming (my lean & fit counselor would like the exercise to be my priority, but, sorry, that’s just not going to happen). And then there’s the workshop I’m taking on personalities and their flaws (another RWA KISS workshop).

Why would I want to participate then?

I’m a masochist. I need pain! Seriously. LOL. I have a feeling participation is exactly what I need right now: a good motivator, a goal to write towards and the opportunity/freedom to simply write, not plan and plot, to produce work and not wonder if it’s as perfect as I can get it (that’s what December will be for).

The simple truth is, I need structure and goals. I’m a competitive overachiever with a lazy streak. To dredge up a cliché: I can do pretty much anything I put my mind to. The problem sometimes is finding something worthwhile to put my mind to.

Since it’s pouring right now, I’m going to skip swimming (did I mention we don’t have indoor pools here?) today and sign up for NaNoWriMo instead.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ironic

Here I am, lethargic, tired, exhausted, fatigued, drowsy … you get the idea. And what was I working on the last two days? Soren contemplating drugs: amphetamines, methamphetamines and their effect on fatigue (decrease) and energy (increase).

In truth, his contemplation only amounts to a single paragraph in the chapter, but I did read through all my research again.

It’s very difficult to read about this drug, which used to be legal and widely used by people who needed an extra energy boost, while you’re so tired you can’t concentrate or see straight.

Ironic indeed.


PS. In case you wondered why I am so tired: I have chronic insomnia, and I just started a new drug this week. Since I’m a glutton for punishment and eternally hopeful, I like the give drugs a week to prove themselves. It’s only been two days for this one. To say it hasn’t impressed me yet, is an understatement.

PPS. No worries. I’m not tempted to try out amphetamines or methamphetamines. Don’t send me any.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Earthquake

After a week of vog (volcanic air pollution; think smog) and sticky humid weather, the Hawaiian islands were rocked by a powerful 6.6 earthquake yesterday morning.

The earthquake centered just off the coast of the Big Island, Hawai'i island, but it was strong enough to rattle my house on O'ahu.

I was in bed, of course. It was 7 a.m. And I thought a heavy truck was rumbling by my house (unusual, but not unheard of). But the rumbling got louder and the shaking stronger, until the whole house rattled and things started falling off the walls and shelves.

I was up in a flash checking on the kids. My son was watching early morning cartoons, oblivious. My daughter sat up in bed, complaining about her brother shaking her bed.

"Honey, that wasn't your brother."

By the time I got around to putting some clothes on, the house was shaking again and the power went out.

My 3-year-old: "Let's call Handy Manny. He has tools. He can fix things. He can bring batteries for the TV."

Handy Manny, in case you don't know, is a cartoon character. He's a general contractor, and yes, he has tools and fixes things.

I was pretty disappointed. I had had plans for a great writing day. I'd even had playdates for the kids, so they'd be busy and would let me work in peace.

Oh well. The playdates and their mom came over. We hung out. Eventually I grilled some hot dogs and Spaghettios on the grill (in torrential rains, mind you). I am very proud of myself, because that was my first grilling experience. Heidi brought pretzels and carrots. We had plenty of water (we even made tea with grill-heated water), just no power (we got that back in our town around sundown; others are still without power as I type this).

Lessons learned:

having batteries is great; checking the radio to make sure the sizes we have actually fit in the darn thing would have been better
having instant coffee or tea is great, too; having a grill-safe container to heat water in would have been nice, too (I improvised)
scented candles smell nice, but don't illuminate very well
having a good book on hand is key

I am convinced we wouldn't have been as ready and prepared as we were to deal with the power outage and resulting difficulties, if we hadn't survived a few typhoons in Japan where power could be out for days.


My friend who’s vacationing on Maui right now called after the initial quake, telling me they were heading for higher ground in case of a tsunami. I couldn’t tell her anything, because I had no radio or TV, but I figured the warning sirens would be on. Incidentally, we’re safe, because we live way past the evacuation zone and up a mountain.]

The people on the Big Island weren’t so fortunate. There was quite a bit of damage. Sinkholes and mudslides don’t sound like much, but Hawaii island is very rural and if your road is destroyed there isn’t anywhere else to go.

All in all, we did okay.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Self-promotion

Two days ago I stood in the parking lot of my daughter’s elementary school, waiting to pick her up, when the PTA president sees me. She’s in her car across the parking lot. She yells a greeting. I wave back.

She: “Hey, didn’t you write a book? How is that coming?”

Me, beaming: “It’ll be in bookstores in the spring.”

She: “Great. What kind of book was it again?”

I notice heads swiveling in my direction, moms and dads and grandparents. They look at me expectantly.

Me: “A romance novel.”

Satisfied most people tune out. The PTA president waves and drives off.

Later, I kick myself.

***

Yesterday I had lunch with a bunch of ladies I didn’t know (I had to attend an educational function). Someone asked me what I worked.

Me, beaming: “I’m a writer.”

Heads swivel in my direction. Six women ranging in age from early twenties to late fifties look at me with curiosity.

“What do you write?”

Me: “I used to be a reporter, but now I write fiction. In fact, I just finished a book that will be available in the Spring.”

“Oh?”
“Really?”
“Wow.”

Me: “Yes, it’s a gay romance novel.”

“So, uh, what does gay mean?”

Me: “It’s a novel about two men.”

“So, uh, two men. Is there, like, uh, a damsel in distress?”

Me, thinking of the chapter I just revised and Soren saving Mason’s life: “In a way.”

I explain a bit more about the story. I offer my reason for writing gay fiction. We discuss the concept of men in vulnerable circumstances (the “damsel”) and books in general. Right before the lunch break is over, six women whip out pencils and paper and ask me for the name of the novel and if they’ll find it at Borders when it comes out.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bottom Line

“Bottom line, will the story that goes to print be the story you wrote??”

My friend LaConnie just asked me this over the weekend. You see, LaConnie just sold her first book – Congratulations! – and she had some questions about the revision process.

I imagine there are quite a few writers who cringe when they hear “revisions.” I read an interview where the author likened the revision process to driving bamboo splinters into his eyeballs while tearing his novel apart, chapter by chapter.

Ouch.

LaConnie’s question made me realize how comfortable I feel with Seventh Window. I like working with Ken *waves*. He answers my questions, and he explains stuff. His suggestions and comments come across as just that, suggestions and comments. He manages to focus my attention on just what’s missing or unnecessary in whatever chapter I am working on.

Bottom line: He’s not making me write a new novel based on the original. He’s helping me polish the original’s rough edges.

And I’m happy to report he does all that without the aide of bamboo splinters :-)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Sea Sprite

It’s only fair that I post a picture of The Sea Sprite as well. Here she is:



The Sea Sprite really is a Krogen 58 and “the new flagship and the first of the next generation of trawlers from Kadey-Krogen Yachts.” She was specifically designed with liveaboard comfort in mind, which was why I chose her for Mason.

Nice, isn’t she?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Can men write romance novels?

Interesting blog on Romantic Times. Stupid question. Of course, men can write romance novels. Good ones, too. If you have a chance, check out the blog and article it was inspired by.

Yes says Ray Connolly (and I agree). No says Liz Hunt. But she says more than that, and I’m still shaking my head over some of her notions.

“ …there is a brooding, obsessive, all-consuming passion that every woman – if she is being honest – aspires to be the object of at some time in her life.”

Huh?

I’m being completely honest, I swear: no, thank you. When I think brooding, obsessive, all-consuming passion, I think stalker and restraining order. I think control freak. I think man who cannot handle a strong, independent woman with friends/interests of her own. Trust me, even as a doe-eyed, innocent (don’t laugh) teenage girl I wasn’t swooning at the prospect of brooding, obsessive, all-consuming passion.

Oh, and why can’t men write romances? “…it is only another woman who really knows how to deliver [brooding, obsessive, all-consuming passion]because she has been there – or would like to have been there – too.”

Yeah. Uh huh. I’m sure no man has ever longed for a love and lived to write about it. This is as insulting to women as it is to men. I’m beginning to feel sorry for Liz Hunt (I admit I don’t know who she is). She must not have any caring males in her circle of family members, friends and associates.

Then she goes on to say this:

“Women writers are better at detail, too – and details are essential in creating a romantic build-up: what he wore, what she wore, how they were standing, how they moved, how they touched.”

What?!

I see. That’s probably why I don’t care to read traditional romance novels. I always skip the parts where the clothes are discussed. I couldn’t care less what brand shoe the heroine wears. Dropping men’s wear designer names doesn’t do a thing for me either.

Seriously, what is this woman thinking? Male (romance) writers can’t be detailed? I think it’s safe to assume that she hasn’t read any gay romance novels, the kind written by men. We all know the characters populating those romances don’t move or touch. They don’t dress and undress. We never learn what their apartments look like. Oh, and they never ever yearn for someone to shelter them or love them.

Rubbish!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Revision update

I celebrated the passing of the sub teacher exam (with a 97, no less) by cleaning my desk off all things non-Protector and cleaning out my inbox. Then I tacked up some inspirational pictures on my corkboard :-)

Like these:





The Rock. I can’t say that I was a fan of his when he wrestled, but I saw his movie The Rundown right around the time I started writing The Protector and I couldn’t help but think that Dwayne would make a great Mason. And so his picture is tacked up on my board next to the picture I have of "Soren" (I originally shared his pic here, but the young man in the photo contacted me and asked to have it removed, since he'd stopped modeling) and, my, they look good together.

With those two staring down at me from my wall, it's easy to work on revisions. I did finish chapters 1 and 2, and I have to say I like them a lot. The first paragraph of chapter 1 is still off (yes, Resh, I’m working on that), but the rest came along very nicely and is fun to read.

I started working on chapter 3 and my brain, happy to have something to do that’s not sub teaching related, is mulling over chapter 4.

All in all, revisions are going well, and I am not pulling hairs out by the roots just yet. I have a feeling I might not ever do that. I’ve never minded revisions. In fact, I like the rewrite/edit phase much better than the initial writing phase.

Must have something to do with me working better when I have a clear understanding of the finished product. In the writing phase there is so much out of place and up in the air and unresolved, I can get flustered. Luckily, that’s what they invented outlines for :-)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The rewrite has begun!

THE PROTECTOR is now officially in revision mode.

I’m excited and terrified. Where is that quote I had about writers and courage? I want to pin it on my message board.

But I am so looking forward to holding the finished product in my hands, which are sweaty right now, by the way. I’ll keep you guys informed. If you think you might want to have a copy,
preorder to get the 25% discount, because once April 2007 comes around and the book is in print, the discount won’t be no more.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Protector

Tonight I’m going to go see The Protector with Tony Jaa. Of course, I have to go see this movie. I love watching the trailer—not only because I’m a martial arts fan, but because I love hearing the announcer guy say “The Protector.”

I was a bit shocked the very first time I saw/heard it. Even my husband turned to me and said “hey, isn’t that your book?”

Sure is :-)

When I started writing THE PROTECTOR, there was only one other book available on amazon.com with the same title, the David Morrell thriller I do want to read at some point.

Morrell’s action hero is an ex-Delta Force operator, now in the protection business. He works for Global Protection Services.

To understand how bothered I was by the similarities you need to know that the original Mason was an ex-Army Ranger in the protection business, working for an outfit very much like Global Protection Services. Not only had I set my sights on the same title (which is perfectly okay), but I had a similar set-up and that I didn’t like at all.

I made some changes. For one thing, I didn’t think I could carry a thriller-series. I like reading them; I’m not confident enough to write them (yet). For another, I totally fell in love with Guam as a location (don’t ask me why; Guam is a pain in the ass to research). But Guam isn’t really a hotbed for people important enough to ask for bodyguards and protection from evil villains. Tumon Bay might be Guam’s flashy, over-commercialized equivalent to Miami Beach, but it’s nowhere near as metropolitan.

So today’s Mason is still an ex-Army Ranger, but his personal protection days are mostly behind him. There are plenty of other ways for him to attract trouble.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Beautiful

Mihrab, 1354-55/ A.H. 755

I love the Met.

Going to be busy

As if I wasn’t busy enough, I signed up for a new workshop with Kiss of Death, the RWA chapter devoted to the romantic suspense writer: Getting it Right: Real-life Detail for your Law Enforcement Hero by former FBI Agent Rae Monet.

I don’t exactly have a law enforcement hero. Kaoru probably isn’t even a secondary character. He’s third tier. But he’s important. I was a bit concerned about the realism of his role, so I contacted Rae Monet a while back. She has her own yahoo group and gladly answers law enforcement questions. According to her, Kaoru’s reactions and decisions were a bit off his mark, but plausible. Man, was I glad to hear that.

I put a lot of thought and work into my characters. I would have changed THE PROTECTOR had Rae told me that even creative license wasn’t going to make Kaoru’s situation work.

I had to change Mason’s military background several times, because I found out that what I had in mind and what works in real life were mutually exclusive. Dang it. And if you’ve read THE PROTECTOR, you know that Mason’s military days are nothing more than a footnote. Did I mention I put a lot of thought and work into my characters?

So I’m going to take this workshop, because I’m sure my guys will encounter law enforcement again. Hell, it’s virtually ensured, with Stoney being a cop and all.

Oh, and if you are a procrastinator like I am, these workshops are a fun way to avoid real work. My real work at the moment consists of studying for the HI substitute teacher exam next week.

PS. Yay! THE PROTECTOR revisions are about to start. Look for updates soon.

PPS. I’m going to take a handgun safety class next.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Everything you always wanted to know about me

On her MySpace blog, MJ Pearson recently featured one of those fun surveys that occasionally pop up in mailboxes everywhere. She suggested appropriating it and so I did:

1.You and the president go out to dinner - who pays?

The taxpayers do.

2. You suddenly have to flee the country and adopt an alias.
How suddenly? Just kidding. I would have no clue. I love my name. I don’t want an alias. Hmm … I’ll have to think about that.


3. Pick one state in the U.S. to get rid of permanently.
Beats me.

4. You wake up as the opposite gender: what's the one thing you wanna do?
Right after I wake up? Pee and brush my teeth.

5. Luke Skywalker or Han Solo?
I’m drawn to Luke’s character, but I really like Harrison Ford.

6. Toy you always wanted but never got as a child?
Could a pony be considered a toy?

7. Top three celebrities you wanna do.
Hmm … jeez, I’m still busy thinking about the alias I’m going to adopt.

8. What's an automatic deal breaker in a potential significant other?
Smoking.

9. What is the last movie you saw that actually scared you?
The Grudge. Oh, oh, Jason Behr. SWEET. I’d do him.

10. Stupidest thing you've ever said out loud?
I’ve said plenty of stupid things, I’m sure, but I’m having trouble with recall …

11. You're sentenced to death and it's the morning of your execution, what do you want to eat?Believe it or not, but I have thought about this before and decided there was probably no way I’d be able to eat and/or taste anything, so why bother? Having said that, I’d ask for ice cream or some other treat.

12. What's something that most people do that you've never done?
Pray in church?

13. Before you die you want to go to...?
Oh, I had a list. I wrote it in High School and one of my old classmates found it and sent it to me. It said: USA, Japan, Hawaii, Virgin Islands. Haven’t been to the Virgin Islands yet.

14. Something you'd really like to do but probably won't ever be able to do?
Act in a movie, receive Oscar nomination. Adapt or write screenplay, receive Oscar nomination. Btw, I think I’d be able to, as in I could manage to pull it off. I just won’t get the chance to test that theory.

15. A wild animal you'd like to have as a pet?
Amur Leopard

16. A drug you'll never try?
Chances are, I won’t try any of the illegal drugs out there. Am curious, though, I admit.

17. If you were an animal what would you be?
An otter.

18. If you had to marry someone you knew at the age of 12 who would it be?
Good lord. I was such a tomboy at 12, I had no interest in marrying anyone. That lasted for some time. I think I might have had one date before the age of 18.

19. What's something most people don't know about you?
I was molested once.

20. First celebrity crush?
George Michael, then of Wham!

21. What's a weapon to suit your personality, habits and abilities?
Verbal abuse. (I’m keeping this one, MJ. It’s just such a great answer.)

22. Favorite cereal growing up as a kid?
I think all we had was oatmeal. I can’t remember anything else. Oh, and I ate it cold and uncooked.

23. Favorite breakfast bread style (pancakes, waffles, toast etc...)?
Bagel.

24. Favorite parody movie?
n/a

25. Worst way to die?
Fire.

26. Grossest injury you've ever seen?
Can’t say that I’ve ever seen a gross injury.

27. The worst injury you've ever had?
Hmm … broken wrist, broken ankle, horse bite (which caused the most creative lie to be told to my parents) … none of them are that bad really.

28. Favorite thing about Thanksgiving?
I don’t care for Thanksgiving.

29. Sport you hate the most?
I don’t care to watch many sports, but I don’t hate them. I find golf and tennis the most boring to watch, does that count?

30. What city in the U.S. do you want to visit?
JA Konrath just finished a 500-bookstore book tour. He visited cities all over the US. I’m aspiring to do the same some day. I don’t care what cities they are as long as they have a bookstore :-)

31. What's something you think would be sweet to know everything about?
Parenting. Grammar. Punctuation.

32. Favorite Actor/Actress?
oh, I’m still trying to figure out what three actors I’d do

33. What's one phrase you absolutely detest?
That’s the way it’s always been.

34. What makes an awesome party?
the guests

35. What's your material obsession?
Books. Not sure if they could be considered an obsession, but I sure do have a ton of them.

36. What's something most would consider an insult but you enjoy having said about you?
You're evil. Sneaky bitch.

37. Favorite kind of dog?
Beagle.

38. Favorite carnival food (everyone has one)?
Cotton candy

39. Morning or night person?
Night owl. Unfortunately, though, I have kids in school and that requires me to get up in the mornings

40. Worst drunken/drugged up habit?
I think I might have been drunk once or twice (okay, three times) and that’s not enough to create a habit.

41. Weirdest ebay purchase?
One of these days I’m going to buy a dildo. Just kidding. Or maybe not!?

42. Favorite food to eat when you're wasted?
Okay, so the three times I’ve been drunk, I can’t recall there being food involved.

43. It's Saturday at 3am, where are you?
Is this Saturday, 3 am, that’s really Sunday already? Occasionally I can be found on the computer, furiously typing.

44. Who's your favorite friend to go out with?
If she lived closer and we actually socialized in person, Laurie.

45. Worst job you've ever had?
Selling knifes for Cutco.

46. What's something your friends make fun of you for?
Shouldn’t my friends answer that?

47. What's the oddest thing you've ever done in a car?
Change my clothes. So much for odd.

48. Book you could read repeatedly?
Most of the ones I own/buy.

49. What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
Die Sendung mit der Maus (remember, I grew up in Germany).

50. What was your best Halloween costume ever?
I think I might have been a cowgirl a few times.


Thanks, MJ. That was fun.

PS. Still no alias, but I figured out some celebrities I’d do if I wasn’t married and we’d be stuck in the same elevator: The Rock. Hugh Jackman. Jake Gyllenhaall. I probably wouldn’t push Orlando Bloom out the elevator either. Bradley Cooper would be welcome to stop by.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sex or no sex in gay fiction

This is in response to Nigel and Janet, writer friends, who wondered about the marketability of their books and the inclusion of sex.

I think the question is, among others, whether or not you are aiming to write a mainstream fantasy/science fiction/whatever genre gay novel or a “true” gay/lesbian novel meant to be read by the people actively interested in that style.

When I say mainstream gay novel I mean limited sex, sex off stage and behind closed doors. Those novels you can find on the gay/lesbian shelves AND mingling with the other books on the other shelves. I think their placement depends a lot on the bookseller, because I’ve seen the same book shelved in different stores in either area.

Now if you’re including descriptive sex, I’d expect to find your book in the gay/lesbian section. I’d like to think that is so that people like us who are interested in reading that sort of thing will find what they are looking for. God knows, trying to find a good book with good gay sex among the hundreds of other books would be like searching for a needle in the haystack.

I don’t think writing the mainstream stuff and then hoping to switch to the sexier, steamier stories will work as well as we envision. The audience we’ve cultivated might or might not follow. I think switching would mean starting from scratch again, looking to get your foot in the steamier genre, and finding a new audience/fan following there.

Those of us, like Janet, with a young adult background, might even publish under a pen name what’s not appropriate for that young adult audience, i.e. anything that has descriptive sex in it.

So saying “I’ll switch later when they know me” might not be as feasible as it sounds, might in fact be far more difficult than we anticipate.

Having said that, I am struggling with my own sex issue. Boy, that sounds weird. LOL. If you’ve read THE PROTECTOR, you know that it includes two sex scenes. One of the changes the manuscript will undergo in the very near future is the removal of one of those scenes. I was very surprised, I have to admit, when I first saw my publisher’s suggestion of less sex. Less sex? In a gay book?

We discussed it, and I trust his judgment that I can make one scene work far better, be far more powerful, than two scenes.

My issue is not with THE PROTECTOR. I harbor the secret fear that “less sex” wasn’t book-specific, that “less sex” was a genre guideline. You see THE GHOST CRAB includes (or will include) three sex scenes, and at this point in that manuscript I’d hate to loose either of the three. I’m not writing sex for sex’s sake. I’m including it because sex is an important part of any relationship. It shows us how two people relate to each other. Enter gay sex and suddenly there is the “top” and “bottom” question. Who’s in charge?

Honestly, I think too much is done of that. I suspect that the sexual position is far less of an indication of interpersonal position as some stories make us believe. Not being gay, though, what do I know?

But as a writer I find it’s a great tool to show (not tell) how relationships work and positions can and do change. I use sex the way I use clues and red herrings and all those other tools at my disposal. Thus, I’d hate to loose the sex in my stories, because they are an important part of the tale, not merely fluff for hungry readers.

So I can’t just take it out later and still have the same story. For me, it doesn’t work that way. [Now, let’s hope my publisher agrees with me ;-) ]

I’ll be fine with having my book in the gay/lesbian section (where it competes with fifty others, not five hundred others).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Things that need saying

There are several things I would like to get off my chest today:

First and foremost: kudos to Ken Harrison over at Seventh Window. He’s my publisher. He’s also the guy behind Seventh Window who does ALL the work. Yet he still finds time to shoot me quick e-mails to keep my up-to-date and in the loop. Short messages that come down to “soon” or “I haven’t forgotten about you.”

That might not mean much to you, but to writers, who are perpetually kept waiting, small, short messages like that are priceless. I know, because I used to be a writer like that: always waiting, always anticipating.

Thanks, Ken.

Second: I’m free! Okay, okay, I’m being dramatic. But my youngest started preschool yesterday, which means from now on I have the morning hours all to myself. In a manner of speaking. The husband will be home, because he works the afternoon shift right now, so I won’t be prancing around the house singing up the top of my lungs, but it’s not like that was my plan anyway :-)

It simply means I can meet with my girlfriends for our weekly coffee break without the youngest in tow. It means I could run over to the mall and browse for a new pair of glasses without the youngest in tow. It also means I can go to the gym and contort myself into a pretzel while doing yoga … whoohoo, that’s actually what I’m most looking forward to.

Third: I can’t get enough of THE PROTECTOR movie trailers on TV. I just love hearing them say “The Protector coming to a movie theater near you soon.” I wish.

Fourth: Remember the coffee break with my girlfriends I mentioned? I’m late for one …

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I’m back.

Just spent three days on the green green island of Kauai, HI. What a lovely place. Really a small slice of paradise: Sandy beaches. Clear blue-green ocean. Good, locally grown coffee. Dolphins visible from the back porch of the cottage. Two monk seal sightings (rare pleasure!). One honu (green sea turtle) sighting. And, much to the delight of the kids, plenty of horses along side roads, paved and unpaved.

The only notable disappointment was the helicopter miscommunication: passengers must weigh at least 35 lbs. Our youngest family member only weighed 32 lbs, so he couldn’t go on the 60-minute ride, and since someone had to watch him, neither could I.

The MWR agent who booked the trip wasn’t clear enough on this. That’s where the miscommunication comes in. As I sit here and type this I am waiting for a call from the MWR manager to talk about refunds.

If you receive a postcard from me, consider yourself lucky.

Overheard on the beach, two young mothers discussing child rearing and language skills:

“I, like, want my kids to use proper terms for, like, things and stuff, whatever.”

Oh, boy …

Sunday, August 27, 2006

short story: THE DEAL

THE DEAL


Camden Colgan seldom took pleasure in a woman’s discomfort as much as he reveled in Candice Lane’s. Despite her sweet-sounding name, Candy Lane was anything but sweet. She was a shark in barracuda-infested waters. He fully intended to make her discomfort last.

“So we’re done here,” she asked.

Camden leaned back into the comfortable couch cushions with a satisfied sigh and smiled at his host, watching the man standing behind Lane blanch at the gleaming flash of sharp canines.

Lane swallowed, but refused to be intimidated. She had no choice but to acknowledge that Camden represented a threat she wasn’t equipped to handle. But this was her territory, her office, and by god, she wouldn’t let him see her apprehension.

“Yes.” Lane’s relief wafted over Camden like a humid current that matted the hairs on his exposed arms. He would need a shower after this. “Our deal?”

“Stands,” Lane assured him. “I am a woman of my word.” In truth, she’d been prepared to pay a lot more. Camden’s services didn’t come cheap, but the bonus he’d requested for the successful and timely completion of his task barely registered. Independence City’s foremost crime boss had no problem throwing in something extra when it didn’t cost her.

Eager to get this over with, Lane pressed a button on the communication console on her desk. “I’ll have delivery arrangements made as soon as you—“

“That won’t be necessary,” Camden interrupted. “The young man in question is downstairs.”

Lane’s glee drifted over Camden much like the woman’s relief had only moments before. Camden nearly shook his head. He could live another six hundred years, and he still wouldn’t understand it. A minute ago Lane had feared him and rightfully so. Now her arrogance was firmly back in place. Vampire, professional assassin or not, Camden’s threat had just been downgraded because he preferred to rut with the males of the species. Lane wasn’t the first to fall prey to that idea. She wouldn’t be the last.

She raised her shapely brows in an unspoken question.

“Daniel.”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me.”

“Daniel?”

“He is in your employ, is he not?” He was. Camden had checked.

“Yes, but—”

“One of the people in your employ. To be used at my discretion and how I see fit. That was our deal, was it not?”

“Yes. But Daniel, he’s … “

Camden waited. His glance strayed over Lane’s shoulder and met the disapproving stare of Noel Lane, Lane Enterprises’ heir apparent. His stare buckled under the hard glint in Camden’s eyes.

“I have the finest whores, male and female, in this city,” Lane rallied. “Daniel isn’t one of them.”

If she heard her son’s “He is now” fall over her shoulder, she gave no indication of it. Camden heard it, though, and it drove him to his feet. He felt a momentary surge of satisfaction when mother and son flinched.

He smiled sweetly, baring just enough of his fangs to drive the message home Lane had all but forgotten. She’d made a deal with the devil, and she’d signed the contract with blood—not hers, but that was a technicality.

“I’ve made my choice.”

Truer words couldn’t have been spoken. He’d made his choice a long time ago. Young Daniel hadn’t been more than a gangly pre-teen, a wide-eyed gorgeous kid with his father’s features.

“He’ll grow into a fine young man,” Jeff Lane had prophesied, catching Camden’s interested gaze on his son. “You’ll have to wait that long,” he’d said. “You better wait that long,” he’d warned, knowing his friend was known to indulge his hedonistic nature on occasion.

“I will,” Camden had promised. “I will.” But he hadn’t.

“Daniel works in the garage. He isn’t trained. He has no experience.”

Camden suppressed his disbelieving snort. He couldn’t tell if she operated under the assumptions of a mother or if she really didn’t know that her son was anything but inexperienced. “Maybe that appeals to me?”

He’d come across a teenage Daniel years after his father’s death, drunk, high on more than one illicit drug and about to go home with a stranger. It hadn’t taken much to persuade the nameless john to find new companionship; it would have taken a lot more willpower to resist the teenage temptation than Camden could muster at the time, still grieving for his lover, the man whose features the boy wore. Maybe it would have been easier if Daniel hadn’t been so darn determined to get fucked.

“I have others. Untrained. Untouched. Boys. Young men.” What she didn’t have she could procure.

She must have known about her son, Camden figured. She’d sent him away. He hadn’t been there, had been somewhere else on off-world business, and she’d sent him away. In an effort to control the out-of-control teenager, she’d shipped him off to one of those preparatory military academies that excelled at beating the individualism out of young men.

Camden knew he was being overly dramatic. But after Jeff’s death, he’d taken to watching over his son from the shadows, determined to wait for the kid to grow up. Losing him to the military had been a blow only his familiar’s sensible influence had softened.

He’d come back to claim his prize as soon as he’d learned that the adult Daniel had gotten himself discharged, somewhat less than honorably.

“I’ve made my choice,” he repeated, not bothering to hide his impatience. The rancid smell of discomfort that suddenly permeated the office pulled his lips off his teeth in a humorless smile.

Lane reached for the communication console again, pressed a button, and barked a simple command at her assistant, “Bring Daniel.” She met Camden’s glare with a hard stare of her own. “I am a woman of my word. And I am also a business woman who likes to guarantee the quality of her product. But in this case—”

“I will hold you harmless,” Camden promised with a snarl. He was beginning to tire of this charade. He’d dragged this out long enough. He turned to look out the panoramic window and calm his rising urge to tear Lane’s throat out. She was Daniel’s mother, for god’s sake! She was supposed to refuse, not worry about her professional reputation for offering less than satisfactory goods.

Just as he was about to suggest he wait elsewhere, a perfunctory knock sounded and a young man swept into the office.

“What?” The single word carried a surprising amount of disdain and apprehension with it, which paled in comparison the life that burned in hazel eyes.

Only decades of experience kept Camden from gaping. Jeff had been right. His son, the gangly pre-teen, the very angry teenager who’d been anything but virginal had turned into a fine young man.

In an ill-fitting oversized mechanic’s overall. With an oil smear across his cheek and bloody knuckles. Camden caught himself smiling. He wouldn’t have put it past Lane to exploit her son’s looks. Her protest not withstanding, he hadn’t been entirely convinced that she didn’t offer Daniel as the occasional business incentive.

“With this, I consider our business concluded, Mr. Colgan.”

Daniel’s hazel eyes followed the direction of his mother’s gaze, and he found himself caught like the proverbial deer in old-fashioned headlights. His knees would have buckled had he not learned to control himself.

“You see that man, Danny,” his father had asked, one arm around his bony shoulders, pointing to a tall blond walking away from them. “He’s a very good friend of mine. His name is Camden Colgan. Remember that name, son. One day he will come for you.”

“You’re here for me?”

“Yes.”

About damn time, he wanted to snarl. What took you so long, he wanted to ask. He’d thought once before Camden Colgan had come for him, but their ways had parted after an exhausting hour. “For good?”

“Yes.”

Daniel grinned. “So I can be Whistler to your Blade?”

Camden caught the 21st century pop culture reference and returned the grin. “Something like that.”

“Let’s go.”

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fun, no-plot, sexy writing exercise

Totally inspired by Sherrilyn Kenyon's DarkHunter universe.

Also, it seems most authors go for the big animals, the tigers and leopards and wolves. I wanted something else, a different mammal. Something mischievous. Otters and bears don’t usually interact. They avoid each other. Bears don’t prey on otters, but on documented occasions they have a snack …




Warning: This is an explicit writing exercise. Two guys. Sex.



High on sex pheromones, they tumbled into the moonlit cottage and sprawled ungracefully over the hearth rug. Briar, with his superior strength, had his lover beneath him a heartbeat later. His fingers were already in the belt loops of River’s jeans, tugging viciously, when River found his voice: “Not here. Briar! Get off.”

“Why?”

“They’ll hear.”

“You’re shitting me?”

“No.”

“So what? I want to fuck you. You’re mine, and I don’t care who hears.”

“Briar!”

“Fine.” Briar scrambled to his feet and marched off in the direction of his bedroom. He was back in River’s sight a moment later, gloriously naked and aroused, a bandana dangling from his outstretched finger.

River cocked a brow.

“Gag,” Briar explained.

River slanted him a look that spoke volumes.

“I’m going to fuck you with or without the gag. I’m serious, River. I don’t care who hears.”

River sighed and climbed to his feet. He was as horny as the were-bear. He wanted to rut as much as his lover. Unlike Briar, though, he was fully aware of the clan of predators outside the quaint cottage. He had no business being here; this was bear territory. They barely tolerated him as it was. If they decided they had enough of his trespassing, Brian wouldn’t be able to protect him against his clan elders. Not that River’s hormones cared. They jumped like fleas whenever the bear came near him.

Briar watched the play of conflicting emotions flit across his lover’s face and pressed his advantage. “Undress,” he commanded.

River’s scruples stood no chance.

The bear swallowed as one slender hand disappeared down the front of River’s jeans, popping buttons along the way. Oh, he held no illusions. He knew River’s obedience didn’t come naturally. The otter had been trained well. He responded to the order of a superior predator, not the request of his lover.

A smile tugged at the corner of Briar’s mouth when he noticed River wasn’t wearing the slinky new underwear he’d had spent a fortune on. He loved the small act of defiance. No, the otter’s compliance wasn’t an inborn trait.

River was naked a moment later and exactly what Briar had wanted to see. Even in the flickering light of the lone candle staving off the darkness he was beautiful.

He wasn’t overly tall. Slender, even a bit on the thin side, though Briar hazarded a guess that that had more to do with River’s recent ordeal than the otter’s natural build. They were tough creatures, otters. At the top of the food chain in their natural habitat, predators in their own right. In their human form, though, there was no room for fat on that slender frame, which made them susceptible to the cold, one of their few flaws.

Fine, highbred features. Large eyes. Ears that were just a bit too large to be entirely human. But they lay well hidden beneath the lustrous fall of cognac-colored hair that just barely brushed River’s shoulders. Not that they took an ounce away from the delicate beauty River wore with such disregard.

Not for the first time Briar wondered just how old his submissive lover was. His age was difficult to gauge. Weres lived longer than their human counterparts, matured differently. The man before him appeared to be somewhere north of eighteen but south of twenty-five. He’d likely look that way for a decade.

At the thought of River by his side for that decade, Briar’s heart leaped past his frenzied hormones. Unwilling to entertain the thought of such a permanent bond with a prey animal, though, Briar growled and surged forward.

River’s fight or flight instincts barely had the chance to kick in. Before the animal in him could take control, Briar impaled him and he was lost to the thrill of physical dominance. The clan of bears outside their cottage forgotten, he cried out. His back arched off the wool rug with Briar’s slow withdrawal. An involuntary and utterly sexy, low moan followed his cry.

His eyes closed. His hands searched for purchase, clawing the carpet, finding a strong wrist next to his hip, curling around the flesh there, feeling a frantic pulse beating beneath the skin. He loved the pain, and unlike Briar, he didn’t think it was a conditioned response. When Briar’s thick cock, aided now by the slick lubrication of blood, drove back into his bowels, he groaned.

He forced his eyes open to watch the bear working over him. Briar had his dark head bowed, chin on his chest, hair falling into his face, plastered to his sweaty skin. His eyes were open. Their feverish brilliance focused on the body beneath him.

“Move, River,” he growled, hooking his hand behind a knee, pulling his lover closer.

River obliged. He rocked his hips, changed the angle of his pelvis and crossed his ankles behind Briar’s back, forcing the bear closer, deeper yet. He struggled up on his elbows, lifting his face, licking, kissing, and suckling the chest right before his eyes.

When Briar came with a silent growl, River followed him with a hoarse cry.

The bear’s supporting wrist buckled and he let himself fall into the sweaty embrace of River’s arms. They lay there for a moment, panting or, in River’s case, gasping for air, with a racing heartbeat and thundering blood in his ears.

“I thought you didn’t want anyone to hear us,” Briar teased after a while.

“Fuck you.”

“Later.” He withdrew and swatted River’s hip. “Up. Up. On your hands and knees, boy.”

River complied with a grin. He had the playful, lighthearted nature of his animal cousins. Was an unrestrained and uninhibited, too, which made his kind a prize to the sex traffickers who specialized in weres.

Briar tried not to think of that. His hands on either side of River’s narrow hips, he arched his back and lowered his head to watch himself slide into the enticing depth of his lover.

Heat teased him, searing his engorged flesh, offering him ecstasy deep within the writhing form of a beautiful, utterly willing and oh so pliable River. Thrusting hard, he slid himself home. Clenching his teeth, the moan, an animalistic, guttural sound, still tumbled past his lips. Good god, he’d found heaven.

He slid his arms around River, pulling him up and off his hands, drawing him against his own sweaty chest – balancing them both on their knees. He set a pace as slow as it was relentless. Thrusting. Sliding and gliding within River whose slender body fit perfectly with the hulking form of the bear.

River’s hands clutched at the muscular arms supporting him. His head fell back and his cheek brushed against Briar’s face.

“God,” he gasped.

“I aim to please,” Briar managed breathlessly, his chin on River’s shoulder. His eyes closed as the orgasm washed over him. Seed, red-hot and boiling, poured out of him like molten lava. And with it River’s name, in a hoarse, unintelligible cry.

His pace slowing, he stayed inside his lover’s body until the liquid fire in his testicles cooled and relented. Then, they fell.

“Briar?’ Muffled, tired, from somewhere beneath their dark, spent bodies.

“Hmm?”

“Get off me.”

With a grunt, Briar rolled over. A heartbeat later the spent body next to him flashed into his animal form. The sleek, streamlined river otter disappeared in the shadows of the cottage, escaping through the dog flap inside the backdoor as Briar’s father stormed through the front door.

“Where is he? Where is that weasel?”

“Gone,” Briar sighed.

“One day,” his father warned, snatching River’s pants off the floor and throwing them at his naked son. “One day I will catch his peddling ass and then he’s going back in his cage.”



Brick

Saw an awesome movie tonight. Brick. Very very interesting. Loved it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt grew up mighty fine, I have to say. Excellent performance.

If I were writing movies, that’s the kind of movie I’d like to write. Fortunately, I write books … and while I have that noir streak, I’m more prolific with the upbeat stuff.

Go watch Brick.

Speaking of fine actors. Gale Harold’s back on TV. This doesn’t mean a thing to you unless you’ve seen Queer As Folk. Remember Brian? He’s got a new show. Vanished. First episode wasn’t bad, but I can almost guarantee it will be canceled. Why? Because I’d like to keep watching it

Monday, August 21, 2006

Team work :-/

I don’t like team work. Never have. Never will.

Somehow, though, I managed not only to survive what should be considered a milestone of teamwork, but I actually enjoyed it. Talking of PURGATORY here. Years and well over 250 chapters worth of teamwork.

And the crazy thing is I’d do it all over again

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Been busy

I’ve been very busy this past week (yet still feel like I hardly got anything done).

I set up a MySpace site. With the help of a free editor I got the sort of minimalist site done I like. You know, nothing fancy. No flashing bells and whistles (is that a mixed metaphor?!). It made me wonder why I chose the font color I have. Couldn’t remember the reasoning behind the purple.

Until I revamped my website and my choice became clear. Since I’m not very good with html and such, I rely on editors and templates. And the template I chose for the website came in purple, brown or some awful green. Purple it was.

Since I’m anal that way, I carried the purple over to this blog and now the MySpace site.

But that’s not all I did this week. I also wrote some PURGATORY stuff. Anyone here read PURGATORY? If you have, you’ve encountered Etienne. I love Etienne. He’s a great character. I’m immensely proud of him. I sometimes wish Soren could be more like Etienne. Oh, I think they’d make good friends, but Soren is nowhere near Etienne’s league. Soren’s an immature, spoilt brat, and I’m doing my darndest to keep him that way.

I should say Soren is very similar and yet totally different from my other characters. Oh, he’s got the usual Nadja-trappings, the angst and father issues and all that. But he’s also the least mature. In that respect he’s unlike any of my others and I’m tempted to have him grow up real quick, because I’m not in my comfort zone with an immature character.

But, alas, I’m going to have to give him some time to figure out his shtick. I know where I’d like to see him end up, and I know he’s got similar ideas. It’s just the getting there …

Anyway :-) I worked a bit with Etienne this week, between the MySpace set-up and the new website layout.

Writing plans for this coming week:


More Etienne. He’s going to have to blackmail his father and Felicity Reibold, bitch extraordinaire, into freeing an innocent man from prison.

And, if I can, chapter 7 of THE GHOST CRAB.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

This absent-minded writer is worse than any professor

I woke up ready to write, inspired and motivated, sentences already forming in my head. That’s rarely a good thing, because I get so distracted I can manage to drop off my first-grader at school, but forget her backpack at home. Sigh. Didn’t do that today. Instead I hustled into the kitchen to make a cup of decaf coffee, called my dad to wish him a happy birthday, booted up the computer and then eventually found my way back to the coffee machine, wondering why there was no coffee.

No water!

I’d forgotten to fill the machine with water.

I was probably channeling my characters. I have two of them who are coffee-“challenged” (I’m not sure why; I’m not that much of a coffee aficionado by any stretch of the imagination).

On the good side: I got all those sentences out of my head and, TR, if you are reading this, which I doubt, I'll have an Etienne post or two for you.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

new website; important!

I’m changing the domain name/web address of my current website. This will likely result in some downtime. I have no idea.

Keep your eye on the old site. Once it’s gone, try to find me at
http://www.nlgassert.com/.

Wish me luck.

THE GHOST CRAB chapter update

I’ve posted chapters five and six on Nigel’s site. If you’re interested, have a look see. Keep in mind, this is a work in progress and YES, the title will change. Also, I try to post on a weekly basis, but some chapters take longer, others never seem to get off the ground.

Most importantly, work on THE GHOST CRAB will likely stop or slow down considerably when revisions for THE PROTECTOR begin some time in September. I simply don’t have enough writing time to work on both books.

That said, it’s coming along nicely and I’m beginning to enjoy it very much. (I’ve had issues with this story for a while.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

THE PROTECTOR: pre-order now

THE PROTECTOR has become available for pre-order. Check out http://www.seventhwindow.com

Nothing like good news and a Red Bull to get me going ;-) Chapter four’s done! If you’d like to read it, go to Nigel’s google group and have a look see.

It’s a drag

Today I succumbed to the siren call of energy drinks. Ever since I gave up my sleep medication and thus restive sleep, I’ve been dragging my feet, getting reacquainted with chronic fatigue. Ugh. I haven’t even had energy (or will) to sit in front of the computer. I’ve been staring at the half-finished chapter four nightly, adding a sentence a day. Oh, it’s going well. I’ve got the whole chapter done in my head. I’ve got the next two chapters done as well. I just haven’t moved what’s in my brain to the page. Yet.

So today I bought two Red Bulls. According to at least one guy on my husband’s nightshift, energy drinks are not to be underestimated. I drank one earlier, and here I am. I don’t hold much stock in caffeine or energy drinks, but, hey, I’m willing (and desperate enough) to try. Most of all, I am an absolute believer in the placebo effect … you know, mind over matter. I think it works therefore it works.

Works for me.

Btw, THE PROTECTOR contract has been signed. Revisions will begin sometime next month.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Website updated

I’ve updated my website. I changed the author name on all pages (I think I got them all) and added a contact page with contact form. I added polite links here and there, like a Thank You page after the contact form. Yes, I’m a polite website owner.

I’m quite happy with my site. Have a look and let me know what you think.


Oh, and yes, I will change the domain name and web address some time in the future. So keep a look out for information on that.

I'm a wuss or good characters are flawed

I’m a wuss.

To celebrate the last day of summer vacation, we went to the Hawaii State Farm Fair today and rode all the rides. Okay, most of the rides. And “we” didn’t really include me. I’m a wuss. I’m afraid of heights. I don’t like things that drop me and I won’t go near a roller coaster. Now I’m also a Mom, which meant that I climbed to the top of the Super Slide twice. If I had to guess how high that was, I’d say second story maybe or a little bit more. Climbing up the rickety stairs and standing on the swaying top was an exercise in controlled breathing and near-panic.

As is often the case with writers, I immediately translated my experience into story material. A good protagonist/hero is flawed and what better flaw than a fear?

Since I’m afraid of heights, I think one of my protagonists ought to be afraid of heights as well. Probably not Mason. The guy was an Army Ranger. I think a fear of heights would have seriously handicapped the man. And while I’m all for working through fears, I don’t think it’s realistic where someone’s job is concerned. Point to the contrary: my brother is afraid of heights as well and he was a paratrooper for a while!

I will probably settle Soren with a fear of heights. I doubt it will come up often, but you never know. I have already decided, though, that Soren doesn’t like firearms. In fact, his experience in THE PROTECTOR left him with nightmares that will reoccur in THE GHOST CRAB. This is a bit of conflict material. He lives on a boat with a guy who owns at least two handguns, and Mason would insist Soren know how to handle those guns for his own safety.

It’s not like Mason is without flaws. The man is so calm and controlled, I had to give him a temper issue. THE GHOST CRAB is all about Mason’s temper. I love chapter 1, because I think I snuck it in there nicely. I like chapter 3, because it becomes obvious what can happen when he loses his temper, his cool.

Anyone read chapter 1 or 3?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

“When you catch us lying on the couch and staring into space, we’re not goofing off. We’re working.”

Check out Tess Gerritsen’s blog and her entry Only Another Writer Would Understand.
http://tessgerritsen.com/blog/2006/07/26/only-another-writer-would-understand/

I give my husband a lot of credit for putting up with me and my (professional) interest in other men. He’s not all that comfortable with the gay thing, but I know he’s very proud of me for selling THE PROTECTOR.

He’s also totally clueless about the mental effort that goes into writing. But I love him anyway.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

NL Gassert

I’m going to need a pen name.

I think I have decided on NL Gassert.

I briefly played with the idea of using NL Gassert-Depape, but it’s simply too long and doesn’t work with the fast-paced romantic suspense genre thing I will have going on (I hope).

NL Gassert will be easy to find on a book shelf. And not as hard to pronounce as Depape.


Now I just need to incorporate the new name into my online life. I already got the appropriate e-mail address (NLGassert [at] usa.com). That was an easy step. But the website needs an overhaul as well. I checked on the domain: still available. Whew.

Following a suggestion by dear friend Ella, I was going to turn THE BUCHANAN-WARD SERIES into THE PROTECTOR SERIES, but with the publisher's focus on romance, not suspense, I think I had the right idea originally. Now I am waiting for publisher Ken’s reply to my e-mail bringing up the possibility of a series.

If he’s okay with the idea of a series, whoohoo. If he’d rather not go the series way, I have other material for him (anyone of you old, old friends remember SULLIVAN?!). It’s not like there is only one book and only one set of characters in me.

Ideally, I’d like to continue work on THE GHOST CRAB, which I was supposed to do tonight, but will probably not get to. (I could use some sleep.) I’ve been putting off chapter two’s overhaul for days now. I want to get it done, so I can move on.

So, NL Gassert it will be.

Anyone care to guess what the L, middle initial, stands for?

Friday, July 21, 2006

It's official

Nadja,

I'm very interested in picking up the rights to publish The Protector. Keep in mind that there will have to be some editing done to make it conform more to the romance genre. To do this we'll have to play with the plotting a little, then work with it from there. I'm willing to work with you on it chapter by chapter until it's ready to be published. I would like it for a May 2007 release, if not sooner. We can have the edits done in time to make this deadline.

...

Take care,
Ken.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What acceptance looks like

Nadja,

I was able to read half the manuscript over the weekend and will read the remainder today. So far I've been enjoying it very much. Unless something goes terribly wrong in the plotting, I'm going to take it on for next year. There will have to be some editing, though. So sit tight and I'll get back to you this week.

Thanks,
Ken.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Check out MJRose.com AND her vidlit for THE VENUS FIX

I love visiting JA Konrath’s blog. I take copious notes and when the time comes to promote my book, I’ll have plenty of ideas. So naturally when he mentioned M.J. Rose’s promotional efforts, trying to reach 500 blogs by August 15, I had to check out her blog [http://myspace.com/venusfix] to see what that was all about.

Neat idea. I’m taking notes again.

Check out MJRose.com AND the vidlit [http://www.vidlit.com/mj/] for THE VENUS FIX. A vidlit is a book trailer, btw.

Sophomore Slump

I learned so much writing book one that I was sure book two would be easier. Uh huh. Instead of not being organized, I am now over-organized. I fiddled with the outline for months. Fiddled with background and motifs for months. I even took up exercising—what better excuse to get out of the house and away from the computer. Then I took a short vacation and decided to get off my sleep medication—I might not sleep as well now, but my dreams are back and with it a burst of creativity. I’ve figured out holes in the plot, gave up on the outline and am writing again. Book two is taking shape. (Unlike me; I gave up exercising in favor of more time on front of the computer.)

Yes, THE GHOST CRAB is moving along. I got chapter three done in its roughest draft form and just wrote what I call The Duck Butt chapter (because the setting is a bar called, you guessed it, The Butt Duck).

Here two tiny teasers from that chapter:

The hand on his leg advanced to mid-thigh and Soren tried desperately to recall what little he knew about date rape drugs. He’d warned his sister on more than one occasion—big brother privilege—but he’d never thought to take the same precautions or pay attention himself. Hell, he was a guy. This kind of shit didn’t happen to a guy. [Think again, Soren.]

*

“Go back out there and sit down. As soon as I hang up with you I’ll call the bartender and make sure he keeps an eye on you and your blond. Don’t leave with him. I’m on my way already.” She hung up before Soren had time to thank her. The thought of Mason’s mother coming to his rescue made him giggle. She was a great woman, and he knew why he’d gone into debt over her Christmas present. [Bless you, Mrs. George.]

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I'm back

Not that I announced I was leaving or anything, but I am back now. I spent a few days in hot and sunny Las Vegas, Nevada. Nope, I didn’t gamble at all, wagered not even a Quarter, but I had a great time.

Some six years ago, I met some crazy ladies online—you know who you are—and I finally had the chance to meet two of them in person. They are just as lively, just as crazy, in person as they are on AIM.

Ladies, it was a pleasure meeting you and the family members you had in tow. I had a great time.

I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. Matter of fact, I got stuck at the Phoenix airport for an additional four hours of waiting (plane was kaput) and I spent that time writing (sorry, not on GHOST CRAB, though).

Since I’ve returned I started a Kiss of Death C.O.F.F.I.N. workshop: Sleuthfacts: P.I. Procedures with Linnea Sinclair (Bantam/Random House). I worked my way through the 114 messages waiting for me when I returned, and I am all caught up now. It’s great fun and ultra informative.

I won’t suddenly turn Mason into a private investigator, no worries. But since he occasionally has to skulk down dark alleys—which, according to Linnea, real life P.I.s seldom do—it can’t hurt to get some pointers or two …

Great to be back.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Thank You

This is what my Acknowledgment looks like at the moment:

Thank You

Thanks, first and foremost, to all those other wonderful authors who didn’t write the book I was in the mood to read. I had to sit down and pen it myself.

Many thanks to Ella, Laurie, Nigel, Reshenna, and Tru for your support, encouragement and input. Thanks for pestering me about new chapters and not letting me get away with lazy writing or poor excuses. You guys rock
.

I think I can get away with that.

But yesterday, as I was forcing the bits and pieces I’d written for chapter two into a coherent sort of scene—writing longhand; there’s something soothing about rolling ink on paper—I had to realize I should probably amend my Thank You to include something like this:

A very appreciative Thank You also to McDonald’s and Burger King for having enclosed, air-conditioned playgrounds at some of their locations, providing my kids with hours of fun and me with the opportunity to write mostly uninterrupted (“Mom. Mom? Mom!”).

Monday, June 26, 2006

Business needs

I’ve been reading JA Konrath’s blog (okay, I’ve really been avoiding the new chapter two of the not-yet-renamed GHOST CRAB) and I’m taking notes.

There’s nothing but great advice about the business of writing. Not the art and craft of writing so much, but a lot about the business laying ahead of me (I hope).

One thing that dawned on me today: I better get a business account with Kinko’s or OfficeMax soon. Because I’ll need:

  • business cards
  • bookmarks
  • postcards
  • flyers/posters
  • “signed by author” or “autographed copy” and “local author” stickers (optional, as these can be liberated from the bookstores carrying my book; with my luck, though, they won’t find their stickers on the day I’m there; so I’m bringing my own)
  • a car magnet for self promotion (the book better have a good, ie. clean, cover; there is no way in hell I will be allowed to drive around town with a HUGE erection plastered to the driver side door)

I feel like I am missing something. But that should do it for starters. Now all I need to know is whether anyone will publish my book soon (Ken's deadline in July 14), what title it will be published under and if my entire first name will make it.

Seventh Window’s Ken likes initials.

Laura Baumbach told me in an e-mail over the weekend that her books sell just fine with her first name on them.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Where My Heart Will Take Me

Where My Heart Will Take Me
sung by Russell Watson

It's been a long road, getting from there to here.
It's been a long time, but my time is finally near.
And I can feel the change in the wind right now. Nothing's in my way.
And they're not gonna hold me down no more, no they're not
gonna hold me down.

Cause I've got faith of the heart.
I'm going where my heart will take me.
I've got faith to believe. I can do anything.
I've got strength of the soul. And no one's gonna bend or break me.
I can reach any star. I've got faith, faith of the heart.

It's been a long night. Trying to find my way.
Been through the darkness. Now I finally have my day.
And I will see my dream come alive at last. I will touch the sky.
And they're not gonna hold me down no more, no they're not
gonna change my mind.

Cause I've got faith of the heart.
I'm going where my heart will take me.
I've got faith to believe. I can do anything.

I've got strength of the soul. And no one's gonna bend or
break me.
I can reach any star. I've got faith, faith of the heart.
I've known the wind so cold, I've seen the darkest days.
But now the winds I feel, are only winds of change.
I've been through the fire and I've been through the rain.
But I'll be fine ...

Cause I've got faith of the heart.
I'm going where my heart will take me.
I've got faith to believe. I can do anything.
I've got strength of the soul. And no one's gonna bend or
break me.
I can reach any star. I've got faith, faith of the heart.
Cause I've got faith of the heart.
I'm going where my heart will take me.
I've got faith to believe. I can do anything.
I've got strength of the soul. And no one's gonna bend or
break me.
I can reach any star. I've got faith, faith of the heart.
***
Do you know where you've heard this before?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Title search

I need a new title for GHOST CRAB.

Naturally, since events unfold days before Christmas, I thought of Christmas related titles. Something along the lines of ON THE 8TH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME EIGHT CROOKS A-STEALING.

A bit long, though. :-)

How about THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST? I could still use all my Ghost Crab references...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Way cool

Last Wednesday I scraped my foot on some sharp rocks while snorkeling. I’d come too close and hadn’t worn my fins (or any other protective gear). I had two thoughts immediately: “shit, I’m bleeding and there are sharks in these waters” and “shit, those spiny sea urchins got me.”

Neither sea creature got me, I am happy to report. (I was also snorkeling in a very protected lagoon that’s not frequented by sharks.)

Today, we went to Waimea Bay Beach park, which is very different from the lagoon we usually go to. It’s wide open ocean as far as the eye can see, complete with strong currents that revel in pushing you into the beach sand (I don’t think I have to exfoliate my legs and arms for the foreseeable future).

Yes, this is the famous North Shore of Hawaii. Swimming is great here in the summer months (May to September is the official season, I believe). The ocean is at its calmest and waves rarely crest over a foot or so.

My brother-in-law, daughter and I went snorkeling. Well, the kid stayed on her boggie board, which has a clear window in it so she can see what’s going on in the water. We didn’t see a lot of fish, but I saw a green sea turtle. It was swimming away from me, so I only got a very quick glance, but I saw it again lifting its head out of the water. Definitely green!

Neat.

(I was more cautious around the rocks this time. No spiny sea urchins in sight, but definitely shark territory. Someone was attacked and bitten just last week.)

And from the beach, we saw two dolphins off a bit in the distance. They didn’t leap out of the water (like they are famed to do), but they stuck around and came up for air a few times, checking out the action on the beach.

Way cool.

Bravo!

I got an e-mail from Ken at Seventh Window. He received the manuscript, but hasn’t had time to look it over. He promised to get back to me by mid-July (after having gotten the new MJ Pearson ready for publication in September).

To understand how thoughtful and professional that e-mail was, you need to know that the waiting times most publishers list on their submission guidelines range anywhere from four to eight months. That’s four to eight months without a word or acknowledgement. And there’s no guarantee that you’d even get a rejection then, you just keep waiting and waiting and waiting….

Thank you, Ken, for letting me know that I’d have to wait a little while longer.


Now let’s see how much GHOST CRAB I can write until then.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

It’s that time of year …

It’s Christmas in THE GHOST CRAB and Soren has no idea what to get Mason.

Any suggestions?

Keep in mind, Soren is mostly broke.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Coincidence?

Got the new Kenyon hardcover yesterday. Also got the final season of Queer as Folk on DVD. My little man got a haircut. Now he looks more like a little boy, less like a little girl. And because my life isn’t interesting enough, I had the school bus crash into my car.

Okay, it didn’t really crash. That’s a strong verb.

My nice car was legally parked by the side of the road. The school bus was turning into the school’s parking lot and as it turned left its hind end swung out and clipped my driver side mirror, ripping it out of its plastic anchor. Adios mirror.

We weren’t in the car. My little man and I were just walking back towards it when I heard the loud crunch and saw the bus turn. Sigh.

I insisted we call the police to file a formal report (not what the bus driver wanted to do) and a nice officer arrived a few minutes later. I have never been in an accident before and never really had occasion to interact with a police officer. No, wait, that’s not true. Way back when I was a newlywed and my husband was serving in Kuwait, I was being stalked. I had some interactions with the military police then.

Anyway. My contact with the police yesterday immediately had me thinking of THE GHOST CRAB. In an upcoming chapter Soren’s Jeep gets vandalized. It’s an important chapter. The bad guys stash drugs in the Jeep, then trash it and call the cops.


I had to realize that the police officer called to the scene would have no reason to search the car for drugs unless he was tipped off that there might be illegal substances hidden.

Thanks to a school bus destroying my mirror, I can now write this upcoming scene with a confident degree of authenticity. Ain’t life great?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Driving forces

I read something very interesting in Writing Fiction: The practical guide from NY’s acclaimed creative writing school. Every (good) piece of fiction answers an underlying question, is in fact driven by this question. Will the hero find redemption? Will the rebels win their freedom? You get the idea.

Every good short story, every novella and novel has an underlying question that can be answered with yes, no or maybe. The trick is to ask the right question and not to get distracted. ‘Will the hero find redemption?’ cannot be answered with him finding love or happiness; that wasn’t the question. The answer has to match the question.

So I started to think about the question(s) underlying THE GHOST CRAB, which btw I’m going to have to rename. The chapter I read (by David Harris Ebenbach) suggested asking ONE question, the question centering around the protagonist.

That made sense. I won’t argue. But I have a team of protagonists. What can I say? I have a knack for complicating things :-)

The truth, though, is that I am not creating a 50-50 partnership. Depending on the story, I’m envisioning a 55-45 or 60-40 split. Soren took the lead in THE PROTECTOR. Mason will take the lead in THE GHOST CRAB. His question then is the driving force behind the story.

And since there is an antagonist, I figured there should be three questions:

1. Will Mason save his reputation and relationship with Soren from destruction?

2. Will Soren find equal footing in a relationship that’s unbalanced power-wise?

3. Will Love Savior survive?

My problem now is to answer these questions.

You might think the answers are obvious, but keep in mind I am writing a series. There is no need or reason to finish character development/growth by the end of this particular story. Indeed, I should leave room for future developments.

The only question I can answer with certainty at this stage of prelim plotting is question 1: a definite yes.

Two and 3 are a maybe flirting with a no.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Naughty

There’s something very decadent about reading erotica at the dentist, the playground and McDonald’s. I ran out of Sherrilyn Kenyon novels (new one coming out in hardcover Tuesday, May 30), so I’ve started carrying an Emma Holly erotic romance around with me.

I’ve had MENAGE for a while now. I even started reading it twice before now. Both times, though, I couldn’t get past the first person point-of-view and the fact that the protagonist is a woman. What’s different this time? I ran out of reading material. So I picked up MENAGE again and started reading and I am quite enjoying myself (thanks to the two very yummy, very male co-protagonists).

I might even quite possibly check into another Emma Holly erotic novel in the future.

On Tuesday, I’m going to get me the latest Kenyon and the Queer as Folk Final Season DVDs. You can guess what I’ll be doing for the rest of the day on Tuesday…

Friday, May 26, 2006

Writer Beware’s 20 Worst Agencies List

This is taken directly from the Writer Beware site:

Below is a list of the 20 literary agencies about which Writer Beware has received the greatest number of advisories/complaints over the past several years.


None of these agencies has a significant track record of sales to commercial (advance-paying) publishers, and most have virtually no documented and verified sales at all (book placements claimed by some of these agencies turn out to be "sales" to vanity publishers). All charge clients before a sale is made--whether directly, by levying fees such as reading or administrative fees, or indirectly, for editing or other adjunct services.

Writer Beware recommends that writers avoid questionable literary agencies, and instead query agencies that have verifiable track records of sales to commercial publishing houses.

Note that while the 20 agencies listed here account for the bulk of the complaints we receive, they're just the tip of the iceberg. Writer Beware has files on nearly 400 questionable agencies, and we learn about a new one every few weeks.

  1. The Abacus Group Literary Agency
  2. Allred and Allred Literary Agents (refers clients to "book doctor" Victor West of Pacific Literary Services)
  3. Barbara Bauer Literary Agency
  4. Benedict Associates (also d/b/a B.A. Literary Agency)
  5. Sherwood Broome, Inc.
  6. Capital Literary Agency (formerly American Literary Agents of Washington, Inc.)
  7. Desert Rose Literary Agency
  8. Arthur Fleming Associates
  9. Finesse Literary Agency (Karen Carr)
  10. Brock Gannon Literary Agency
  11. Harris Literary Agency
  12. The Literary Agency Group, which includes the following:-Children's Literary Agency-Christian Literary Agency-New York Literary Agency-Poets Literary Agency-The Screenplay Agency-Stylus Literary Agency (formerly ST Literary Agency, formerly Sydra-Techniques)-Writers Literary & Publishing Services Company (the editing arm of the above-mentioned agencies)
  13. Martin-McLean Literary Associates
  14. Mocknick Productions Literary Agency, Inc.
  15. B.K. Nelson, Inc.
  16. The Robins Agency (Cris Robins)
  17. Michele Rooney Literary Agency (also d/b/a Creative Literary Agency, Simply Nonfiction, and Michele Glance Rooney Literary Agency)
  18. Southeast Literary Agency
  19. Mark Sullivan Associates
  20. West Coast Literary Associates (also d/b/a California Literary Services)

Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors

If you are a writer in search of a literary agency, literary representation or a publisher, you must visit Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors.

Before you begin crafting that killer query, you need to read the information on
Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors.

Take good care of your dream; don’t let it fall prey to scam artists or lazy agents.



Writer Beware: http://www.sfwa.org/beware/
Preditors & Editors: http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/