Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve giveaway!

Congrats to Jane Richardson, who won the New Year's Eve ebook giveaway! Jane, please let me know which of my releases you'd like to receive. All excerpts, trailers and reviews for the stories are on my web site.

Have a safe and happy new year! And not just another auld lang syne.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Still time to enter the holiday giveaway!

Christmas may be over, but there's still time to receive a gift from me! The holiday giveaway is still open. Just tell me what draws you to a story, and you’re automatically entered! On New Year’s Eve, I’ll pick a winner at random and announce it here. Don’t forget to leave your email address so I know how to contact you. The winner will have the choice of any of these releases:

1. Seventh Heaven, a Sixties-era short romance, the #1 bestseller on The Wild Rose Press all of July! Woo hoo!
2. The Duende and the Muse, a short fantasy romance
3. Liberation via Pen, a short contemporary romance
4. One Soul for Sale, a contemporary fantasy
5. The Lure of the Vine, a contemporary fantasy
6. Going with Gravity, contemporary romance
7. Picture This, contemporary
8. Wilderness Girl, contemporary erotic romance
9. Reflections, a short contemporary fantasy

You can find excerpts, trailers and reviews for these stories on my web site.

I hope your holiday was warm and wonderful! May the new year bring you all the best.

Friday, December 25, 2009

I'll be home for Christmas

Weather permitting, today we're traveling over the river and across the turnpike to celebrate the holiday with family. They're celebrating me home.

So as Michael Buble sings, I’ll be Home for Christmas.

And finally, my Christmas wish to you. Have a merry little one.

And if you'd like a present from me, don't forget to leave a comment on the post below to enter my holiday giveaway! The contest will be open until New Year's Eve.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Songs from Christmases past

Here's Judy Garland and Mel Torme singing The Christmas Song.

Each year that goes by brings a new classic. I love this Pogues song, with Kirsty MacColl.

There's still time to enter the holiday giveaway! Don't forget to leave a comment on the post below to enter! The contest will be open until New Year's Eve.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

White or blue?

I can't decide. I love them both.

Don't forget to leave a comment on the post below to enter my holiday giveaway! The contest will be open until New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday giveaway

2009 was an incredible year! I’ve had nine releases, from shorts to novellas. Another novel’s in second edits, and the eleventh contracted story will be released on Feb. 10, 2010 (two days before my birthday – nice present, huh?).

It’s been a real whirlwind of a year, and went by too quickly! But I’m looking forward to more of the same next year. I have three novels under submission, and another two ready to go.

Because it’s the season of giving, starting today I’ll run a contest here on my blog. Just tell me what draws you to a story, and you’re automatically entered! On New Year’s Eve, I’ll pick a winner at random and announce it on my blog. Don’t forget to leave your email address so I know how to contact you. The winner will have the choice of any of these releases:

1. Seventh Heaven, a Sixties-era short romance, the #1 bestseller on The Wild Rose Press all of July! Woo hoo!
2. The Duende and the Muse, a short fantasy romance
3. Liberation via Pen, a short contemporary romance
4. One Soul for Sale, a contemporary fantasy
5. The Lure of the Vine, a contemporary fantasy
6. Going with Gravity, contemporary romance
7. Picture This, contemporary
8. Wilderness Girl, contemporary erotic romance
9. Reflections, a short contemporary fantasy

You can find excerpts, trailers and reviews for these stories on my web site.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday, and may the new year bring you all the best!

And finally, here are more Christmas tunes. Springsteen's Santa Claus Is Coming to Town is an all-time favorite, and not just because I'm a Jersey girl. Here, his youthful energy and enthusiasm shine through.

I've always been a big Pretenders fan, too, so when Chrissy Hynde released 2000 Miles, it became an instant hit with me, at least.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas classics

Traditions mean different things to different people, especially those of different generations. I love Christmas songs from any era, from Bing to Springsteen. Each year, we add new Christmas releases to our collection. When my kids were little, it was the Mariah Carey Christmas CD. So for them, Mariah represents their version of "classic" Christmas songs. In celebration of that, here are two Mariah Carey interpretations of Christmas songs.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Getting in the Christmas spirit

Today I'm over at Sharon Donovan's Christmas blog, sharing some holiday memories and a great recipe. I hope you'll stop over and leave a comment!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Booksigning in Harrisburg postponed!

Today I was supposed to be at the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, PA, signing away copies of Picture This and One Soul for Sale.

However, because Old Man Winter made a surprise appearance in full force, the Midtown has officially postponed the event until sometime after the spring thaw. I took the photo below at 7:30 this morning. Already about three inches have fallen, and the brunt of the storm's not supposed to hit until later today.

I know several of you were going to be traveling this weekend, picking up kids from college. Stay safe!

Disappointing that the weather would be so uncooperative - I had my Santa hat and excerpt and giveaways of candy and book marks all ready! And The Patriot-News in Harrisburg supposedly had a write-up yesterday, though I couldn't find it online.

So look for news of the rescheduled event in a few months.

In the meantime, you can always order copies of Picture This and One Soul for Sale from Amazon - both are linked to my Amazon Author Page. There's nothing better than cozying up with a good book on a snowy day. :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Answers to Christmas song quiz

Congrats to Maria Durst! She submitted the correct answers, and got every one right! I admit I scored pitifully low on this song quiz. I think I only had the Kinks, the Pogues and the Waitresses right, though I love Elvis Costello and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Some, I admit, can hardly be qualified as 'artists' but it's all for fun!
How about you? How many did you get right?

1) The Everly Brothers: c) Christmas Can Kill You
2) Brenda Lee: f) I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus
3) Root Boy Slim: j) Xmas at KMart
4) Mighty Mighty Bosstones: i) Xmas Time (It Sure Doesn't Feel Like It)
5) Sherwin Linton: a) Santa Got a DWI
6) Stan Freberg: b) Green Christmas
7) Cheech and Chong: e) Santa Claus and His Old Lady
8) Wild Man Fincher: u) I'm a Christmas Tree
9) Weird Al Yankovic: l) Christmas at Ground Zero
10) Stan Freberg and Daws Butler: d) Christmas Dragnet
11) Elvis Costello: g) St. Stephen's Day Murders
12) Loretta Young: p) To Heck with Ole Santa Claus
13) Commander Cody: k) Daddy's Drinking Up our Christmas
14) Johnny Horton: s) They Shined Up Rudolph's Nose
15) Martin Mull: x) Santafly
16) Father Guido Sarducci: o) I Won't Be Twisting This Christmas
17) Sonny Cole: n) Santa to the Moon
18) Staple Singers: h) Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas?
19) Doug Legacy and the Legends of the West: v) Christmas in Prison
20) Marc Anthony: q) Mama's Twistin' with Santa
21) Butterbeans and Susie: w) Papa Ain't No Santa Claus (And Mama Ain't No Christmas Tree)
22) The Waitresses: y) Christmas Wrapping
23) The Kinks: m) Father Christmas
24) The Pogues: r) Fairytale of New York
25) Jim Croce: t) It Doesn't Have to Be That Way

And now, to get the Waitresses out of my head, here are a few more Christmas clips. I managed to buy an underground copy of this Beatles Christmas album when I was a teenager.

And I love this Rob Thomas Christmas song.

This one I'm throwing in for the sheer bizarre factor, though it's laudable Bob's donating the proceeds to charity from this CD. I just never imagined him doing a Christmas polka! I'd have loved to have been an extra in this video. It looks like a blast. (Is that his son Jakob running away?)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas song quiz and contest!

I'm over at Popculturedivas today with a Christmas song contest. A lucky participant will have their pick of any of of my releases. Come on over!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Welcome special guest author Emma Lai!

I'm happy to welcome back fellow Wild Rose author Emma Lai. You can read her earlier interview here. Welcome Emma!

Cate, thanks for allowing me to promo my latest release, His Hope, Her Salvation, available today from The Wild Rose Press!

Promised in marriage to an abusive oaf, Judith resolves to find out if there can be passion without love. Snatches of conversation overheard at the local inn lead her to a mysterious American merchant who might be able to satisfy her carnal curiosity and capture her heart.

Donovan, a Guardian Hunter, is on the trail of a rogue Elysian in Georgian England. As the son of the First Hunter, he long ago gave up hope of finding his heart's mate. When Judith appears in his study, his inner beast and his heart demand he answer her plea for help.

Will their passion answer their hearts' pleas, or will it wither under the threat of reality?

“Where did the idea for the story come from?” I had this scene in my head of a desperate woman bursting into a gentleman’s study.

When I started writing the story, the hero, Donovan presented himself as bored and callous. The opening line exemplifies this.

“That will be all, Eallair.” I waved a hand in dismissal, my gaze focused on the fall of the elegant lace cuff against the blue velvet sleeve of my frock coat. “See this gaggle of geese out, if you’d please.” I glanced back at the occupants of the parlor, the corner of my mouth lifting in a sneer.

In the original version of the story, I emphasized his callous nature. From the opening lines until the study scene, Donovan was an ass. He treated his guests, his mistress and the heroine with disdain. Of course, the original version was written with Ellora’s Cave in mind. When The Wild Rose Press contracted the first story in my Mates of the Guardians series, they obtained the right of first rejection. So, even though Ellora’s Cave was interested in the story, I decided to keep the stories together at one publisher. However, in order to do so, I had to rewrite the crucial study scene and make Donovan more likeable.

“What do I do when my editor asks me to rewrite what I feel is a crucial scene?” Well, I put a lot of thought into the reasoning behind the request. In this case, I had to realize that even though I liked the scene, it did not portray Donovan as a very sympathetic character. Since the story is told in his voice and my readership is female, I figured it’s better to explore the reason behind his boredom and callousness at the beginning of the story rather than wait to show the reader how his behavior changes when he finds his mate. Otherwise, I’d be in danger of putting my reader off, and I want to involve her in the story rather than distance her from it. (This all sounds like calm, cool reasoning now, but it actually took me a few days to work it all out and resolve myself to killing my vision of the scene and then figure out how to rewrite it.)

“What’s next for me?” Well, I have a new baby boy who takes up most of my time. But, I have contracted my Regency erotica, Twice is Not Enough, with The Wild Rose Press and am working with my editor on edits. I’ve started a suspense story. I’ve started polishing a contemporary romance. And, as far as the Guardians go, I’m in a holding pattern as a major plot point evolves. In other words, I’m all over the place.

I host author interviews on a weekly basis at my blog, I blog about general writing topics every Tuesday at the Roses of Houston blog, I also blog on the 12th of every month at the Black Roses of The Wild Rose Press, Finally, I have a web page…

Question for readers: I’m curious to know what my readers would like to see.

Here's an excerpt from His Hope, Her Salvation:
The voices in the taproom of the Horse and Hound deafened us as we entered. A large group of men stood packed together in the center of the room. A roar ripped through the crowd as it surged inward.

I shoved my way through the mass of sweaty bodies with Eallair following in my wake. I stopped when confronted with the scene that held the crowd enthralled.

A large, older, well-dressed gentleman gripped my mysterious guest from earlier by an elbow. He shook her and yelled, “You little whore!” He raised a hand and slapped her across the face with his open palm.

The crowd cheered as she collapsed to her knees, her shoulder wrenched as the hand on her elbow restrained her from crumbling into a heap on the floor.

The dead look in her eyes and the lack of any outward emotion testified to the regularity of similar scenes she must have suffered. With a bellow of rage, I swooped forward and scooped her to her feet just as the old man raised his hand to strike her again. Placing my body between them, I snarled, “Release her.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Beware NaQuRejMo!

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? Me too! Technically, I didn’t finish, though I suppose I could have counted my blog posts and other writings (do emails count?) to make up that last five thousand words. But to me, the point was less about getting that little badge than making headway on a manuscript, which I managed to do.
I love getting Chris Baty’s little nudges and encouragements in my email. And his follow-up email was interesting too – it contained a link to this blog by literary agent Mary Kole. In it, she laments that December’s become known, for some agents, as NaQuRejMo, or National Query Rejection Month. Why? Too many authors so excited about completing a first draft, they immediately submit their work. (And if you do, don’t mention it in the query, as it’ll immediately be tossed in the slush pile.)
Ms. Kole has some great advice: submit your work to your critique partners first, and keep revising. Setting the manuscript aside for a bit, as she suggests, gives you some much-needed perspective, after which you should revise again.
Besides revising to bring out themes and enhance the framework, also be sure to self-edit. Many authors, myself included, post valuable information on how to polish your work to be its best, from making that first line a grabber to eliminating duplicate words and strengthening verbs. Yes, it’s tedious work, but well worth it to make your story an even better read.
So I’m in the middle of doing just that with my NaNoWriMo project, a historical novel. I’ve reviewed and revised it a few times. A few critique partners will continue to review it. I may enter it into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, if it’s ready (or the first ten thousand words are, at least) by January 25.
I’m also revising a novel I’d set aside a few years ago after submitting to an agent, who rejected it. While searching for some old notes, I came across the rejection letter. Actually the agent was very encouraging, and gave me some sound advice about revision. At the time, all I saw was the “sorry” part, but now I realize I should have gotten back to work on it and sent it back. But time’s lent better perspective, and I’m better able to see the story in its full scope now than I was a few years ago. So after I finish revising, I’ll send it back to the agent. But not until after December. :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm a Kreativ Blogger

Alice Audrey gave my blog an award! Thanks Alice!

According to the rules, I must reveal seven random things about myself, and then bestow the Kreativ Blogger award on seven others. (See, I told you seven was a mystical, magical number!)

So here goes:
1. I finished my Christmas decorations today! Yay!
2. Now I’m baking Pumpkin Pie Bars. Mmm.
3. I have three brothers and three sisters (I was the tie breaker – go girls).
4. I have three kids (two girls. Girls still win.).
5. Just one hubby, though. :)
6. Animals make me smile. Mostly Lily, who's (thankfully) not impressed with her first Christmas tree. From her sound napping, you'd think she helped. Being part Aussie Cattle Dog, she did, however, herd me up and down the steps.
7. They make me smile even when they wake me up at five a.m. (which has been a lot, recently).

These blogs are some I try to visit often, because they’re always interesting:

1. Sharon Donovan
2. Bookbabie
3. Cactus Rose of the Wild Rose Press
4. Emma Lai
5. Murderati
6. Somewhere in NJ
7. Neil Gaiman

I bow to you, Kreativ Bloggers! (Hm, who spelled Kreativ so creatively, I wonder? My Catholic schooling is urging me to correct it!)
I'm relying on Google to alert you of your award. Mostly because some of you (yes you, Neil) will not care. However, I still love you.
Blog on.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Booksigning in Harrisburg next Saturday!

On Saturday, Dec. 19, from 3 to 5 p.m., I'll be at the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, PA, signing away copies of Picture This and One Soul for Sale. Anyone who purchases a print copy will receive a free book thong, while supplies last. If you're in central PA, I hope you'll come by. My novellas make perfect holiday gifts! And you can always buy one for yourself, too. There's nothing better than snuggling up with a book on a cold winter's day.

So mark your calendars, and spread the word:
Dec. 19, 3-5 p.m.
The Midtown Scholar, 1302 North Third Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102

A brief description appears on the Midtown Scholar's site but please note, they still list their old address on their web site. The shop is now directly across from The Broad Street Market on Third.

Hope to see you there! If you can't make it that day, The Midtown Scholar has several copies of One Soul for Sale and Picture This for sale, so get 'em while you can! Or you can always order copies from Amazon - both are linked to my Amazon Author Page.

Closeup of bookmarks (no two alike)

Friday, December 11, 2009

2009's best reads

The end of the year means lists! Here are but a few:
The New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2009. Sometimes the review itself is a great read, such as the one for Follow Me: A heroine bent on reinvention is at the center of this densely stitched crazy quilt of a novel, which spans six decades and a wealth of genres while evoking a quintessential American mythology. How do you get a reviewer like that? I know, I know: write a great story. Two of my favorite authors apparently have - Alice Munro and Barbara Kingsolver, both on the list.

Publishers Weekly posted several lists.

USA Today listed the bestsellers, which doesn't necessarily mean a best read, to me. There's viral marketing, and then there's great writing.

The Guardian UK published a list of what kept them turning pages and a "What not to miss" list.

Amazon solely recognized that hey, 2009 isn't over yet! Its subhead's a disclaimer stating "so far." Which begs the question: do publishers avoid releases after say, October, knowing that the listmakers won't include those books in the "best" categories?

And if you're taking a vacation in a balmy clime, you might want to check out NPR's best beach reads for the year.

If you're the kind of person who cross-checks lists thoroughly, check out Large Hearted Boy's amazing compilation of lists.

My TBR list always grows after reading these. As an author, of course I'd love to be listed, but more than that, I hope my writing touches readers' hearts and minds, and makes them want to read more.

Sadly, I'm not on any of the above lists. But then, they're all for print. When I Googled "2009 best ebooks," the mishmash of results contained nothing related to the search. Maybe it's time for such a list. Not the individual "bestsellers" on each publisher's site. A comprehensive list encompassing all epublishers and genres, just like the print versions. It would be a leap toward respectability and recognition of the validity of ebooks. They're not going away anytime soon. It's misleading for only those print books also published as ebooks to be listed, given the rising sales of ebooks. So I'm putting out the challenge: let's have a "best ebook reads" list next year!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another blow to Harlequin

Harlequin's decision to create a new branch has raised quite a fuss. Because the new press allows authors to self-publish, many have severely criticized Harlequin.

Why would such a big name press endanger itself in the industry? Marketers must have looked at models such as CreateSpace and seen dollar signs. Authors so eager to see their works published, they'll pay, especially to fall under the brand of Harlequin, long a well-respected name.

Now, Harlequin's seeing harsh signs such as "Banned," first from the Romance Writers of America, who excluded Harlequin from its annual conference resources, and now from the Mystery Writers of America, who will bar Harlequin authors from entering its Edgar Award competition. Many authors have supported the ban.

Harlequin scrambled to distance itself from the new branch by immediately changing its name from Harlequin Horizons to DellArte Press. But changing the name doesn't change the fact they're still part of Harlequin.

The problem of piracy is unfortunately related to the self-publishing issue. Some self-publishing sites are known to illegally post author's ebooks for free downloads. I won't list the one I know about here, but if you're an author, feel free to email me at cate.masters AT for the name of the site so you can check it for your own work.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fever Dreams cover art!

Isn't it fantastic? Dawne Dominique did a great job on this cover. Eternal Press will release Fever Dreams in mid-2010.

Here is the unofficial, unedited blurb:
When Diana Taylor changes jobs, she doesn’t expect it to change her life. Meeting Cal opens up a new world of passion. He encourages her to pursue her passion for photography. Her love overwhelms her, blurs the line between reality and dreams. But is it love or obsession?

And unofficial excerpt:
He glanced around. “Last weekend, I called your apartment about twenty times.” His short laugh revealed his embarrassment.
“I moved,” she stammered. So that’s what he tried to tell her that morning when Jack interrupted.
He jerked his head to one side. “I know… now.”
“I didn’t realize.” What an idiot she’d been. “I disconnected my answering machine.” Trying to avoid Adam’s calls.
The ring of her cell phone interrupted. Adam’s name showed in the display. So much for her avoidance techniques. She sent the call to voice mail.
By his forcibly dissolved grin, he must have deduced the caller had been Adam.
She had to cut to the quick. She knit her brow. "Look, I don't play games."
"Me either," he quickly agreed, the image of sincerity.
If only he didn’t look so good – his hair uncombed, the layers tousled. His steely blue eyes piercing hers. ”Why are you here? You said you don't want to get involved with a coworker."
He slid toward her. "I said I was hesitant to get involved."
"No, no, no." She stood and paced in front of the table. "I distinctly remember your exact words. You said you did not want to be involved. And, it's probably the best solution." She stopped and folded her arms.
"Maybe I was wrong." He spoke slowly. Deliberately. "Maybe I didn't know how much I wanted you."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Welcome special guest author Trent Kinsey!

Cate: Please welcome Trent Kinsey. Trent, will you please share a short bio with us?
Trent: Well, I’m new to the world of fiction but from 1996 to 2008 I spent my time as an active duty Marine, working as a combat correspondent. I had some family issues that came up and so I left the Marine Corps’ active ranks and became a civilian contractor. I am now the web content manager for the same Marine Corps unit I began my active career with.

Cate: Tell us about 10:15 and where it's available.
Trent: Well, my latest story on the shelf is 10:15 and is about three students and one teacher who become trapped in one second of time. Before they can figure out why they’re trapped, they find out there is something living between time…Something horrific!

Cate: I love that premise! Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Trent: As he walked around the back of the gym and passed the front entrance, Mark could see the little fat kid he loved to mess with running for his life. He wanted to laugh because George was nude as the day he was born and his fat body was gyrating and jiggling all over the place. Before he could muster the air for a laugh, his eyes pulled in the image of what was chasing him. The only thing Mark could think was, “This is the fear those people in the movies must feel when they piss themselves.” He was glad he had relieved himself earlier.
His attention caught movement to his right. On instinct he turned and raised his fists, ready to fight, only to see one of the hottest girls in school run the other way. He didn’t blame her. He wanted to run away at the sight of the thing chasing George, too.
Two options crossed his mind: run and help the gyrating blob, or protect the hottie. Being the man of strong morals he was, he chased after the girl.

Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Trent: I’ve always been a fan of horror and have so many ideas for stories of my own. When I wrote 10:15, I was deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and had just finished the rough draft of the novel I’m currently working on. I wanted something to do to take my mind off of ripping the novel to shreds so I decided on writing a short story. If you’ve ever spent time on ship (USS Bataan for me) time can feel like it’s not moving at all and on good days it reminds you of Groundhog Day. So I decided to write about time stopping and before I knew it the story took off with my imagination in tow.

Cate: Any specific inspiration for your characters (an actor/actress or personal hero)?
Trent: Well Mark is actually a persona of mine when I work out. Though his back story is nothing like mine, there is parts of him and his personality loosely based on me and my addiction to weight lifting.
George is the same in a way. I was the overweight kid in junior high school (not as much as George) and there was that part of me that needed to change my appearance. I was able to accomplish that, but George…George is the me that didn’t make it through the hardships of that time in life.
Jamie and Kathryn were originally created because I needed something to offset the theory I had of being stopped in time. One theory I had was that you wouldn’t be able to hear anything when stuck in time because the air wouldn’t be moving like it would when time flows normally…How do you communicate in an environment where you can’t hear? How ‘bout bringing in a hearing impaired character that lives her life like that every day. And, I learned in Chemistry (many moons ago) about absolute zero, a temperature that when reached everything stops—even electrons in atoms. How messed up would it be to be in that situation? Well who would know more about that than a Chemistry teacher? That was the birth of Kathryn.

Cate: How do you pick the character’s names?
Trent: Here’s where my life gets strange. I love to tell people that I’m not an author, but a journalist of alternate realities. In this case, that’s kind of how it happened. I can tell you all sorts of stories where I just look a the face in my mind and then a name matches and in other cases the name is there as if my character has been alive and I just met him or her.

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Trent: Oh do they! I’m writing about events and people I see as clearly as if I were talking to you face-to-face. There is a guy in one of my stories whose daughter dies of cancer. I cried with him as he fought the medical staff to wait for him to finish reading her favorite story before letting them take her body away. I have a woman in another who’s heart raced slightly faster than mine as she finally takes control of her life from an abusive husband…Or should I say ex-husband. It scares me sometimes how I’m in these people’s personal lives. Who’s to say our lives aren’t being written the exact same way?

Cate: Ha ha, my thought exactly. So what's next for you?
Trent: Well in January my short story Who’s to Blame will be coming out in Ebook from Moongypsy Press and I am always working with them on my next novelette, The Book of Absolute Truths. Both stories are deeply character driven and will keep you up late at night wondering what would happen if you were in their shoes. In between that, my day job with the Marine Corps and now working as the Military Fiction Acquisition Editor for Moongypsy Press, I am steadfast on finishing the revision of my first novel, The Devil’s Oak. And there is no words for how excited I am about having that work released as soon as possible.

Cate: Great titles, especially the Book of Absolute Truths. Very intriguing.
At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Trent: I actually started my first novel when I was in the sixth grade, though it never made it more than two pages of hand-written work and only God knows what happened to that. My next discovery of writing occurred during my first deployment (Kuwait and Afghanistan) in 2002 when the idea of writing my own works of horror struck me again. I haven’t stopped since then and don’t think I might ever be able to. 10:15 is my first publication other than military journalism, though it is not my first story written.

Cate: You started young! Describe your writing in three words.
Trent: Suspenseful, Dark, Twisted

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Trent: I’m too busy to have a routine! Truth be told, I get up at 4:30 a.m., go to the gym to work out, leave there for work, work as a contractor while writing in my spare moments, leave at around 3 p.m. and go home. That’s when life gets real exciting. I have two children with autism spectrum disorders and I am the living toy. So needless to say most of my evening time is spent being daddy. I do find time and sometimes I have to steal it from other places in life.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Trent: The most challenging aspect is staying focused. Facebook has been killing me lately, but I’m overcoming my addiction to it. Then again, I’ve met so many wonderful people and have so many writing contacts I couldn’t have made it this far without! The most rewarding is the friendships I’ve found in other writers and businesspersons involved in publishing works of fiction. I have so many friends who are just as equally creative and demented as I am and I love it! The other thing is my kids will one day know their father did two things very few people in this world could do: Be a Marine and write fiction that gets published.

Cate: Congrats on both! What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Trent: The one I loved the most was a review about 10:15 where the reader told me it reminded him of Ray Bradbury! I reminded someone of one of the greats in horror and suspense. Now I just need someone to tell me I remind them of Alfred Hitchcock and I can die a happy man. Well maybe a Poe comment in there too would help.

Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Author: There are so many! My absolute favorite (please indies don’t beat me too bad) is Clive Barker. I will never get over his work, Imajica. It still spurs so many emotions in me thinking of it. Right now I’ve been reading some of my friends’ works and some of the authors I’ve met now that I’ve been published. Some of the stories I’ve finished lately include: The Zombie Cookbook (Damnation Books), Bite Me (Eternal Press) and The Greywalker series (Kat Richardson). And I have ten other Ebooks on my computer, taunting me each time my mind wanders.

Cate: What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors? Or in people/the environment in general?
Trent: That’s not that easy of an answer. There are ups and downs to each advancement in technology. The Ebook and E-readers bring such immediate impact to the publishing world. Books are released faster and available upon purchase. Readers can read their books on phones or Ereaders and can take an entire library with them in the palm of their hand. Environmentally it makes perfect sense because…Well think about the trees needed to produce the paper to make a print…But on the other hand…Where is the electricity coming from that makes the ereader readable?

Cate: Where can you be found on the web?
Trent: The best place to find out what’s going on with me is at my web page: and if you want to see more of my crazy side, go to the “World Wide Woods” link in the banner and find me at Facebook or the other networks I haunt…We have so much fun on the web.

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Trent: What creature hides beneath your bed at night, whispering in your ear? What does it tell you to do?

Cate: Readers, Trent is giving away a signed print and signed Ebook of 10:15 to two random guests... so start commenting. He'll pick the winners on Dec. 8 around 7 pm EST.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Welcome special guest author Michelle Miles!

Cate: Please welcome Michelle Miles. Michelle, will you please share a short bio with us?
Michelle: Michelle began her semi-prolific writing career long ago in junior high when she and her then-best friend wrote and illustrated their own Indiana Jones comic books. Star Trek fan-fiction quickly followed, as well as Star Wars fan-fic. Later, she dabbled in her own science fiction stories and some historical fiction (princesses, towers, and handsome princes!), and finally found her footing on contemporary ground.
Michelle is a member of Romance Writers of America. She resides in suburban Fort Worth with her cat and her precocious son. In her spare time, she enjoys watching hockey, reading, adding to her shoe collection and–of course!–drinking coffee.

Cate: Tell us about TAKE ME I’M YOURS and where it's available.
Michelle: TAKE ME I’M YOURS is a contemporary romance about Graeme, a love-struck painter, and Marion, a jilted woman trying to recover. It’s available as an ebook and can be purchased via Cobblestone’s website.

Cate: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Marion is mending a broken heart. When her fiancé leaves her at the altar, she picks up the pieces and tries to get on with her life. She finds solace in her work at the gym and art lessons.
Graeme has never fallen in love. As a celebrity in the art world, he can have any woman he chooses. Yet the one he really wants has eluded him for years…until a chance encounter brings Marion and Graeme together, giving him his shot at having the woman of his dreams…and drawings.
Can Graeme’s love mend her shattered heart?

Moments later, as Marion grasped the warm cup of coffee in her hand, she turned to find someone she knew sitting in a corner of the coffee house. Graeme Butler hadn’t noticed her entrance, since he had his head buried in his laptop.
With a deep breath, Marion headed over. There wasn’t any reason why she couldn’t say hello to an old friend. Was there? And she hadn’t seen Graeme since… She mentally calculated how long it had been. Several months, to be sure. The last time being a night of shooting pool and drinking beer not long after Ethan left a horrendous aftermath in his wake.
Determined not to allow the painful memory of that day to cloud her thoughts, she pasted on a bright smile and sauntered over. She’d forgotten how good looking Graeme was, with his strong jaw line shadowed by a goatee. He shoved his hand through his dark blond hair, which had golden highlights that didn’t come out of a box—Graeme wasn’t that kind of guy.
“Well, hello, you,” she said in her sweetest voice.
Graeme looked up, question then surprise flickering through his devastating blue eyes. His mouth broke into a wide grin, and he looked genuinely happy to see her.
“Are you as surprised to see me as I am you?” she asked as he rose and came around the table.
“You have no idea.”
He folded her into his powerful arms, hugging her tightly and squeezing her to him, then kissing her soundly on the cheek. He smelled of soap and something else—a spicy scent she didn’t know. It made her knees weak, which was totally unexpected, because Graeme wasn’t the weak-in-the-knees kind of guy…or was he? Stepping back, he looked her up and down, his gaze sweeping over her.
She should have been incensed that he looked at her that way. But somehow, it wasn’t the same creepy look Ethan had given her only moments before. This one was less on the lascivious side and more on the…well, since he was a man, his intentions were probably less than honorable. She found she didn’t mind so much when Graeme did it.
“You look fantastic. I haven’t seen you since—”
“I know.” She cut him off and put up a Don’t-Go-There hand, refusing to allow him to speak aloud the words of those fateful events. “It’s been a while. How are you?” She smiled, incredibly happy to see him.
He waved her to a nearby cushioned chair, and she gratefully sat down. After saving his document, he shut down the computer and closed the laptop, then leaned back in the chair, propping his ankle on his knee. He gave her his full attention. “I’m great. Couldn’t be better.”
Damn, he looks sexy. There was something ruggedly handsome about him, yet she knew underneath that tough exterior was a sensitive guy. Of course, he never liked that to be common knowledge. He liked to keep up the rough façade. In the few years she’d known him, he’d always been super nice to her, and she found she could be herself with him.
A vision of him dressed in a tux with a blush colored tie and cummerbund flashed through her mind. He had looked so handsome that day. So suave and debonair. And now she couldn’t stop looking at him. He had the best forearms and hands. Nice, strong looking hands.
She held her cup in her hands to keep them from fidgeting. “What are you up to these days?”
“Just working. I’ve got some new clients lately, so the business is going really well.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” She forced her gaze back to his face, noticing for the first time the new facial hair. One corner of his mouth was upturned in a grin. She resisted the urge to reach out and run a finger down his stubbly chin. “I like the goatee.”
He ran his hand over the beard, his skin bristling against the coarse hair. “It’s something I’m trying out.”
“Well, it looks great,” she said. “And how’s Charlotte?”
“Uh…” He cleared his throat. “That was over a long time ago. Shortly after you and Ethan—”
“Stop.” She held up her hand. “Please don’t say it.”
“Sorry.” Looking sheepish, he picked up his paper cup and sipped his coffee. “I don’t mean to keep bringing it up. I figured after that day in the church, you’d never speak to me again.”
“Why’s that?” She quirked an eyebrow and leaned forward, placing the cup on the table. She wondered why Graeme thought she would shun him.
“I was the one who delivered Ethan’s bad news,” he said.
“Oh, right.” She twisted the edge of her worn shirt around her forefinger. “Speaking of the devil’s spawn… I actually ran into him this morning.”
“Here?” Graeme sat up straight and glanced around the nearly deserted coffee house. He looked as he if were ready to fight.
“No, no. Down the street at the café. I was having brunch—”
“Yes.” She paused, unsure why that mattered. “Anyway, he just showed up out of nowhere. Told me he made a mistake and he wanted me back.”
“Fuck him.” He scowled, clearly unhappy with his friend’s actions. His face had lost the light he’d had only moments ago and turned dark and serious. Snatching his coffee, he sat back in the chair again, relaxed.
“No, thanks.” She snickered at her own joke then blushed for laughing at herself. “I’m not sure what makes him think I’d want him back, especially after what he did to me.” Looking back up, she met his gaze. “All that time we were together, he lied to me about his business dealings.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean he did Web design for a…” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “…porn Web site.” Clearing her throat, she glanced around to see if she had been overheard. “Did you know that?”
When Graeme was silent, she was certain it was from sheer shock. That was her first reaction as well. “I had no idea. And all that time we were together, he hid it from me. Talk about a scumbag!”
“Yeah,” he agreed, his voice muffled behind his coffee cup.
“I wouldn’t have made it such a big deal if he hadn’t cheated on me with half the girls from the Web site. Of course, I found out about that after we broke up, but still…the nerve of that guy.”
This time, Graeme cleared his throat. “How did you find out about all that?” He carefully placed his coffee cup on the table, then fixed his gaze on his computer. Was he avoiding her gaze on purpose?
Marion gave him a pointed look of disbelief and snatched up her cup, taking another sip of the tepid liquid. Either he really didn’t know, or he was just as guilty as Ethan was for pretending not to know. “You never knew, Graeme? You were his best friend, after all.”
Graeme kept his eyes on his laptop monitor. “Ethan and I shared a lot, yes. But he never shared that information with me. It’s sort of written in the Man Rules.”
“Man Rules?” She had to chuckle.
“Yeah,” he said with a cocky smile. “Never share information that can incriminate you.”
“Ha, ha.” Marion first wanted to smack him for the remark, but his big, silly grin made her fall into laughter.
“Anyway, Ethan had his chance with you, and he blew it. His loss.”
Her eyebrows shot up. She was surprised to hear this from the man who was supposed to be Ethan’s best man and best friend.
“You deserve better than him, Marion. I always thought so.”
“I…don’t quite know what to say.” A heated flash went through her, and her palms felt as though they had suddenly caught fire, forcing her to put down the cup once more.
“He’s an idiot for letting you go.” He snatched his coffee again, the liquid sloshing, and sipped. “What’d you tell him?”
She smirked, remembering her lie. “First I told him too bad, and then I…” She stopped, waving the thought away. “Nothing. It’s silly.”
“If you said something that will make that asshole suffer, please share. I haven’t spoken to him since that day in the church.”
She blinked. Graeme, it seemed, was full of surprises. She had no idea the two of them hadn’t spoken in the last six months. So, Ethan had lost his fiancée and his best friend all in one day. Interesting.
“You haven’t?”
“No, I haven’t.”
She wanted to press further, to find out exactly why the two hadn’t spoken to each other in so long. Was Graeme sore because Ethan made him do the deed? Or was there something else underneath the cool façade he wasn’t telling her? She suspected the latter. What did Graeme care, really, if Ethan ditched his girlfriend? Unless…
Unless deep down, Graeme had feelings for her. The notion seemed so ridiculous, she quickly pushed it away. Graeme wasn’t interested in her any more than she was interested in the guy who owned this coffee house.
She stared down at her lap, toying with a string on the edge of her shirt. “Anyway, I sort of told him I was seeing someone.” Looking up through her lashes, she added, “And that I was almost engaged.”
“I see.” Graeme downed the rest of his coffee and set aside the empty cup. He reached for his laptop and shoved it in its case.
She suddenly worried she had somehow upset him. “But, you know, I was just lying to get him to leave me alone. I’m not seeing anyone. I’ve tried to date, but it’s just…too much. I haven’t been able to do it. I don’t think I’m ready.”
He stopped, looking at her with those blue eyes, and smiled. She wanted to melt into a puddle. “Marion, you don’t have to explain yourself to me. I’m not Ethan.”
“But I—”
“You want to go for a walk?”

Cate: Loved it! Especially the “Don’t Go There hand” – too funny. What inspired you to write about the theme?
Michelle: TAKE ME I’M YOURS is actually the third in a trilogy (with perhaps more to come; not sure yet) and follows the lives of those folks who live in Fort Worth and quite often frequent THE BITTER END COFFEE HOUSE. I thought it would be fun to write about people living and working in an urban setting. The first book, TALK DIRTY TO ME (Samhain Publishing, 2006), was about a phone sex operator and the sexy phone on the other end of the phone. The second book, NICE GIRLS DO (Samhain Publishing, 2007), was about a stripper trying to reform her life. All are available as ebooks. I think what inspired me was mostly I just wanted to write some hot romance. LOL I had no idea it would take off and be so much fun to write. I have a fourth book planned but I haven’t had a chance to finish it yet.

Cate: Any specific inspiration for your characters (an actor/actress or personal hero)?
Michelle: I picture Graeme as a Simon Baker kind of guy and Marion as Holly Hunter. Those actors were really the inspirations for the characters.

Cate: Oo, Simon Baker’s so debonair. I love Holly Hunter too. They’d make an interesting combo.
How do you pick the character’s names?
Michelle: I like something that sounds good. Especially when I’m going to be spending a lot of time with them! LOL

Cate: What's next for you?
Michelle: I just finished a fantasy about a female gladiator that’s currently on submission with an agent. I’m not working on an urban fantasy based on Celtic mythology. I’ve been so busy lately with life things that it’s hard to focus and I feel like I’m losing touch with some of my writing friends and writing in general. I’m hoping things slow down soon!

Cate: Wow, a female gladiator - what an intriguing concept. Best of luck with it! I hope things slow down for you, too. It’s tough to balance sometimes.
At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Michelle: I really started writing in high school with my friend. We wrote and illustrated our own Indiana Jones comic books. Then I wrote a lot of really bad fan-fiction (Star Trek, Star Wars, Blade Runner). I stopped writing for years and then took it up again about 8 years ago when I was on maternity leave. I wrote my first book which ended up at about 90,000 words and just really sucked. A few years later, I started writing serialized fiction with a now-defunct publisher. I wrote two series—one contemporary and one time travel. In between writing the serials, I started writing contemporary romance (TALK DIRTY TO ME) and sold to Samhain in late November 2005. I was so thrilled with my first published book. And Samhain is really awesome to work with.

Cate: Do you have a writing routine?
Michelle: I used to write every single day for at least an hour but now it’s very sporadic.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Michelle: The most challenging is finding the time to write! The most rewarding is when someone emails you and tells you how much they loved your work.

Cate: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Michelle: I’m a fan of urban fantasy and really enjoy reading Karen Mare Moning’s Fever series. I also like Vicki Petterson’s Zodiac series. There are a lot more but I can’t think of them right now! LOL

Cate: Where can readers find you on the web?
Facebook: http://www.facebook/AuthorMichelleMiles
Monthly at Pop Culture Divas:

Thanks for being my guest, Michelle! Best of luck with Take Me I'm Yours!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Great review for The Lure of the Vine!

Seriously Reviewed gave The Lure of the Vine a top rating!

Here's what the reviewer said: Do you like a little mythology in your books? Then here is a good one for you. A nice SPICY read that is titillating, sexy and an ending that makes the journey worth the trip :)
What a wonderful little read that is not the typical Harry met Sally, I enjoyed the drama, the lust and the issues right until the bitter end.
This is not the first book of Ms Masters that I have been fortunate enough to read and let me just say that it won't be the last :)

Thank you so much, Seriously Reviewed! You have made my month!

Here's the story trailer:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

No NaNo "finished" badge, but...

...I have a great first draft, so I'm very happy! And I feel I accomplished the goal of NaNoWriMo, which is just that. Still have some critiques and revisions to get through, but I'm hoping to sub this puppy early in 2010.

As the wise and wonderful Natalie Goldberg says: "Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning. Probably that's why we decide we're done. It's getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out." That's what I like to aim for -- the place beyond, the universal place that reaches for the outermost boundaries, where things are brilliant and dark.

I also feel great that I added two more stories to the TBF (to be finished) queue. It's getting a little crowded in there so I have much more work to do, shaping and reshaping those sticky blobs of nebulous threads into a readable story. A writer's dream.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

NaNoing all over the map

I somehow lost count of my word count! When I signed up for NaNoWriMo, I had it in mind to write a contemporary novel, a story that had been sloshing around in my head for a bit and seemed about the right consistency and temperature to start really cooking. So I went for it.
First-round edits for Angels, Sinners and Madmen, my Key West historical novel, were due by the end of the month too. Better to finish those off, I thought, so I could concentrate on my NaNoWriMo story. With the edits, that novel finished with another 1600 words. Add that to the count!

Back to the contemporary I went, writing away to almost 5,000k. But another story pulled me away. You know how that goes sometimes. One becomes more insistent than another, and it starts building a momentum in your brain that whirls and clicks and grows, and if you ignore it, your skull might explode from the pressure. So I went back to that one. It had been 27k, intentionally truncated to fit in the Earth Songs line for The Wild Rose Press. The editor returned it, saying she liked it very much, but it wasn’t quite a romance. She suggested I layer in the POV of the hero between that of the heroine. Once I started, the momentum unfurled onto the page and I couldn’t stop. Even on our trip back home for Thanksgiving, I wrote pages and pages in the car. I added another 35k to that story, so it’s now at a respectable 61k and I’m still going.

Meanwhile, Christmas commercials on TV, of all things, have begun to really spark my Christmas spirit. So I started yet another story with a Christmas theme.

I finally tallied it all up this morning and found that my word count wasn’t so pathetic as I thought. In fact, it’s a respectable 43k. Only another 7,000 words to go. In two and a half days! As Chris Baty said in his last pep talk email, “easy peasy.” Here I thought I’d fallen into the third group of NaNoWriMo hopefuls, “The Go On Without Me’s.” Baty’s description fit: “life went completely crazycakes” (oh yeah). His final words of encouragement buoyed me: “You're off the map, but that's the point of this escapade… Return to the page—there's still a beautiful adventure waiting for you.”

Thanks, Chris. I agree! I’m very happy with what I’ve accomplished this month—I’ll finish off a great historical novel, and have started two other stories I’m excited about, plus the first-round edits of another novel. Not a bad month at all.

Here's another Christmas video, to keep the spirit going.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving thanks

Here are some great Thanksgiving quotes:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. - Melody Beattie

None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy. - Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much. - Estonian Proverb

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice. - Meister Eckhart

Do not get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. - Galatians 6:9

It would seem that the ingratitude, whereby a subsequent sin causes the return of sins previously forgiven, is a special sin. For, the giving of thanks belongs to counter passion, which is a necessary condition of justice. But justice is a special virtue. Therefore this ingratitude is a special sin. Thanksgiving is a special virtue. But ingratitude is opposed to thanksgiving. Therefore ingratitude is a special sin. - Thomas Aquinas

We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning. - Albert Barnes

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! - Henry Ward Beecher

Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all. - William Faulkner

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life." I love that. Hope your Thanksgiving holiday leaves you full of good memories. And oh yeah, pie.

And because Thanksgiving's the kickoff for the Christmas season (or used to be, now it seems to come earlier every year), here's a little Bing to get you in the mood.

I would have liked to have seen Bing and Alannis do a duet, wouldn't you? (He wouldn't have to prompt her with the lyrics!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A new contract, another reason to be thankful

Yesterday when I checked my email, I found a contract from Eternal Press for my novel, Fever Dreams!
Being so close to the Thanksgiving holiday, I've been tallying up all my blessings for this year. Topping the list are my wonderful and supportive family. I love you all more than anything.
My friends and critique partners are amazing, giving sound advice while cheering me on.
I've met many incredible people this year. Though some only virtually, their warmth and caring and creative spark shine through.
Though this year has been tough for many reasons, it's been incredible on the writing front. Fever Dreams will be my eleventh story contracted by an epress this year, and the third with Eternal Press. Like One Soul for Sale and Picture This, Fever Dreams will be available through Amazon as well.
This story has special meaning for me. It represents the return of my muse, who'd given up on me while I raised my kids and went off to Tijuana on a drunken binge. After I began writing this story, she returned with the vengeance of a ten-year hangover and has been lobbing story ideas at me faster than I can type. I'm not complaining. I'm typing as fast as I can, or writing in notebooks, or generally mulling over what the characters might be planning to spring on me next. And loving every millisecond of it all.
Fever Dreams probably won't be easy to classify. It incorporates the theme of a woman finding her bliss in life, which doesn't necessarily mean romance. Although it has a love story, it's a complicated one, much like real life. But it also contains some dream sequences that aren't quite fantasy. I'll leave the categorizing to the experts.
The blurb and excerpt for Fever Dreams are tentative, but here they are:
When Diana Taylor changes jobs, she doesn’t expect it to change her life. Meeting Cal opens up a new world of passion. He encourages her to pursue her passion for photography. Her love overwhelms her, blurs the line between reality and dreams. But is it love or obsession?

He glanced around. “Last weekend, I called your apartment about twenty times.” His short laugh revealed his embarrassment.
“I moved,” she stammered. So that’s what he tried to tell her that morning when Jack interrupted.
He jerked his head to one side. “I know… now.”
“I didn’t realize.” What an idiot she’d been. “I disconnected my answering machine.” Trying to avoid Adam’s calls.
The ring of her cell phone interrupted. Adam’s name showed in the display. So much for her avoidance techniques. She sent the call to voice mail.
By his forcibly dissolved grin, he must have deduced the caller had been Adam.
She had to cut to the quick. She knit her brow. "Look, I don't play games."
"Me either," he quickly agreed, the image of sincerity.
If only he didn’t look so good – his hair uncombed, the layers tousled. His steely blue eyes piercing hers. ”Why are you here? You said you don't want to get involved with a coworker."
He slid toward her. "I said I was hesitant to get involved."
"No, no, no." She stood and paced in front of the table. "I distinctly remember your exact words. You said you did not want to be involved. And, it's probably the best solution." She stopped and folded her arms.
"Maybe I was wrong." He spoke slowly. Deliberately. "Maybe I didn't know how much I wanted you."

This song seemed like it might be a good soundtrack for the movie, eventually. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Congrats to book giveaway winners

Congrats to Bill Barrett, who yesterday won the basket of books donated to the Mechanicsburgy Mystery Book Shop by the Susquehanna Writers.
By an odd coincidence, Joe Barrett won Saturday's drawing for the basket of books at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg.
Preceding Saturday's drawing, Mike Silvestri gave a fascinating talk on Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 as part of The Big Read.

Mike donated a copy of "Bark of the Tree" to the basket, which the group provided to the bookstore in celebration of National Bookstore Day.

Four other members of the Susquehanna Writers were on hand for the drawing.

Don Helin, who contributed a copy of "Thy Kingdom Come"

Tina Crone, who contributed "The Yellow Stone"

Lori Myers

Cate Masters, who donated "Picture This" and "One Soul for Sale"

Afterward, Mike had a signing for his new scifi anthology, It Came From Beyond the Sun.

I even signed a copy of One Soul for Sale!

Enjoy your books, Joe and Bill Barrett!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Writing tips from Jack Kerouac, man

Some said Jack Kerouac reinvented literature. Others said he destroyed it. Whatever your opinion, these writing tips will trip you out.

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy

2. Submissive to everything, open, listening

3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house

4. Be in love with yr life

5. Something that you feel will find its own form

6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind

7. Blow as deep as you want to blow

8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind

9. The unspeakable visions of the individual

10. No time for poetry but exactly what is

11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest

12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you

13. remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition

14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time

15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog

16. The jewel center of interest is hte eye within the eye

17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself

18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea

19. Accept loss forever

20. Believe in the holy contour of life

21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind

22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better

23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning

24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge

25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it

26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form

27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness

28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better

29. You're a Genius all the time

30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

Oh baby. Kind of makes you want to snap your fingers and say, "Yeah."

Whatever else, Kerouac's love of words shines through with a brilliance that dazzles and can leave you speechless. If there were a Dharma Bum Writer's Retreat, I'd sign up, man.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kurt Vonnegut's writing tips

Though Kurt Vonnegut aimed these tips at short story writers, they apply to any story length.

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things: reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

I also found a few quotes attributed to Vonnegut with regard to writing and life in general:

Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.

I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.

When Vonnegut learned that Slaughterhouse Five was one of several books tossed into the furnace by outraged school administrators, he wrote the following letter:

Dear Mr. McCarthy:
I am writing to you in your capacity as chairman of the Drake School Board. I am among those American writers whose books have been destroyed in the now famous furnace of your school. […]
If you were to bother to read my books, to behave as educated persons would, you would learn that they are not sexy, and do not argue in favor of wildness of any kind. They beg that people be kinder and more responsible than they often are. It is true that some of the characters speak coarsely. That is because people speak coarsely in real life. […]
If you and your board are now determined to show that you in fact have wisdom and maturity when you exercise your powers over the education of your young, then you should acknowledge that it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books — books you hadn't even read. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive.
Again: you have insulted me, and I am a good citizen, and I am very real.

Too bad Kurt predated blogging. His was certain to have some interesting content!
More writing tips from a Dharma Bum to follow.