Guest Author Jamie Samms – When Pencil Trumps Keyboard

I tried to come up with a witty topic to post about tonight, but I’m burnt out on editing the fourth Rainbow Alley book, and a down-home farmer book, and trying to finish the second Off Stage book, so I came up a bit blank.

But it got me thinking, what do I do when I’m in this position and it’s time to write? What if I can’t think of anything to write or my current characters aren’t speaking to me? Which happens, occasionally. Usually when I abandon them for editing, in fact. They hate that. It’s like spending too much time with your ex. Your current partner gets jealous, throws a hissy fit, and refuses to play nice.

What I do when that happens is I get out a sketch book and a pencil and see where that side of my imagination takes me. Here are a few faces my drawing has introduced to me over the years. I hope you like them, and if you can figure out who they are, do let me know, because I have no idea….

Some days, I have to admit my pencil definitely trumps my keyboard. I wouldn’t consider myself very good at drawing, but it keeps me out of trouble in work meetings, and sometimes gives my characters a bit of life outside the pages of their books. These two guys are my website hosts. I don’t know their story, since they never told me, but I like them, and they have served me well.

Nor have I figured out who this guy is. He looks too young to be in one of my books, though, and that has me worried about him. He hasn’t even told me his name, the cheeky brat.

The elf and the human, similarly close-mouthed, well, other than that they are forever kissing each other, I guess. But I have no idea where they are from, how they met, or if they love each other, or are just convenient. It’s a mystery.

And finally, my own rendering of this holding hands picture I’m sure we’ve all seen in a million different places. I always wonder who these guys are, and if this hand holding is an act of defiance, bravery in the face of impending heartache, or a peaceful stroll on the beach.

So there you have it: where my mind goes when the words go away. Anyone have any cool story ideas to go with these? I’ll try to write them if you do. I’m always open to prompting :)

 

Jaime has been writing for various publishers since the fall of 2008, although she’s been writing for herself far longer. Often asked why men; what’s so fascinating about writing stories about men falling in love, she’s never come up with a clear answer. Just that these are the stories that she loves to read, so it seemed to make sense if she was going to write, they should also be the stories she wrote.

These days, you can find plenty of free reading on her website. She also writes for Freya’s Bower, Loveyoudivine Alterotica, Pink Petal Books, Dreamspinner Press and Total E-Bound.

Spare time, when it can be found rolled into a ball at the back of the dryer or cavorting with the dust bunnies in the corners, she’s probably spending reading, drawing, gardening (weather permitting, of course, since she is Canadian!) or watching movies. Well. She has a day job or two, as well, and two kids, but thankfully, also a wonderful husband who shoulders more than his fair share of household and child care responsibilities.

She graduated some time ago from college with a Fine Arts diploma, with a major in textile arts, which basically qualifies her to draw pictures and create things with string and fabric. One always needs an official slip of paper to fall back on after all….

 

Website: http://jaime-samms.net/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000982219151&ref=tn_tnmn

Livejournal: http://dontkickmycane.livejournal.com/

Deviantart: http://dontkickmycane.deviantart.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/JaimeSamms

Amazon Author page: amazon.com/author/jaimesamms

 


Guest Authors Noon and Wilder – Tiger Tiger, When Two Write As One

TigerTiger72webWhen Rachel and I meet readers and other authors, one of the most common questions we get is, “How do you both write a novel?”  The second most common has to do with specifics: do we write one chapter and then switch off, how often do we talk, how do we come up with a cohesive voice so it doesn’t sound like it’s written by two people.

Thank you to Charlie Cochet for sharing The Purple Rose Tea House and inviting Rachel and I to talk about our process a bit.

While it’s tough to distill what we do into a simple formula, I’ll describe it a bit and then share some tips if you are interested in trying it for yourselves.

When we write a story, we write enough to get the ‘feel’ of the world and the characters.  For me, that takes a large chunk of writing, around 30,000 words.  I usually catch the feel pretty quickly, around 1,000 to 2,000 words, but I don’t get a good idea of the overall plot until that magic 30k.

For Rachel, she has a more internal process and when she gets a story, she works at it in her head and has the outline pretty well established fairly early in the process.  To be honest, she doesn’t share with me how early because I find an outline to suck a lot of the juice out of the story for me.

Instead, we do a lot of brainstorming.  We both think out loud, so this is a lot of fun.  We talk either on the phone or via Google Talk daily, as well as share emails when one or the other of us are at our day job and we can’t communicate.  I also leave occasional voicemails on her mobile when she’s at work and I just have to talk something through – we often joke that I use up all the voicemail tape.

For those of you curious about trying it yourselves, here’s some tips to avoid confusion:

1 – Start small.  Pick something new to you both or use a short snippet of something you’re not strongly attached to so you can experiment and see how well you work together.

2 – Don’t force it.  Be gentle with the process – it takes time to learn how you each think and communicate, as well as what gets each of you onto the page.  It may be different for each of you.

3 – Respect each others’ process.  If one of you is a night writer, and the other an early bird, don’t try to force either one to the other’s way of working.  With the internet, you can both write when you’re “on” and share it.

4 – Be patient.  Between time zone differences and different work styles, it can take time to get ideas to coalesce.  That’s normal and part of the process.

5 – Practice good communication skills.  Restate what you think you hear so you’re sure you understand the other person.  Use your emotional intelligence and don’t be afraid to have fun.  That’s what it’s all about.

To see the latest results of our collaboration, check out TIGER TIGER, available from Samhain Publishing on July 23rd.

Write on!

* * *

Blurb:

Chicagoland Shifters, Book 2

Veterinary trauma surgeon and animal empath Sasha Soskoff has found everything he ever wanted with his new partners Neal, Steve and Carlos. Life feels as safe and secure as it can be among a group of ex-Marine tiger shifters. Until a homeless man is found, gruesomely mauled and murdered, near Neal’s BDSM club.

When it’s determined a rogue tiger did the deed, the jaguars’ accusing eyes turn toward Sasha’s lovers. The precarious balance of peace tips dangerously toward war.

Neal knows damned well none of his tigers committed the crime. Someone must be in Chicago without his knowledge or permission, and they’d better find him fast before uncertainty and conflict rip the tight-knit band apart from the inside.

As Sasha struggles to heal the stress fractures forming among his tiger family, he begins to wonder if his dreams of a home, and love, were too good to be true. And it’s precisely that moment the killer strikes at the heart of the tiger clan—Sasha himself.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

– E.E. Cummings

 

My links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora

Knoontime Knitting:  Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry

Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Website | Facebook

The Writer Zen Garden:  The Writers Retreat Blog | Forum | Facebook | Twitter

Team Blogs: Nightlight | Nightlight FB Page |  Beyond the Veil | BtV FB Page | LGBT Fantasy Fans and Writers | LGBTFFW FB Page

Publishers: Samhain Publishing | Torquere Press

 

Check out BURNING BRIGHT, available from Samhain Publishing.

Check out EMERALD FIRE, available from Torquere Books.

Check out “Taking a Chance“, available from Torquere Books.

Check out COOK LIKE A WRITER , available from Barnes and Noble.

Watch for TIGER TIGER, coming July, 2013, from Samhain Publishing.

Watch for “Seeking Hearts”, coming soon from Torquere Books.

 

Guest Author Augusta Li – UK GLBT Fiction Meet: An American Author’s Perspective

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I recently had the great pleasure of spending eleven beautiful days in the United Kingdom and attending the UK GLBT Fiction Meet. I explored a lot of the country and visited some beautiful places, but this post will be about the meet itself. If you’re interested in reading more about my adventures in Cardiff, Leeds, and London, you can do so at my blog: http://www.booksbyeonandgus.com/  I’ll be posting some pictures and hopefully some useful information for potential visitors shortly.

But on to the meet! It was a wonderful experience, and I can’t express how welcome I, and I believe everyone, was made to feel. The entire conference was drama and diva-free. The venue, the MacDonald Hotel in Manchester, was a lovely hotel with big, comfortable rooms and a very friendly and helpful staff. I have to say I enjoyed the HUGE bathtub in my room. Breakfast and lunch were served at the hotel’s restaurant, and the food was very good. I took advantage of a full English breakfast my first day there, but afterwards restricted myself to lighter fare, as eating that much tends to make me tired. Luckily, the hotel staff provided coffee and tea at regular intervals in the very lovely meeting rooms.

002The organizers did an excellent job and managed to pack a lot of information, discussion, fun activities, and opportunities to relax into the convention’s two official days. Guest speakers Elisa Rolle and Marie Sexton both gave excellent presentations. Some panels provided valuable information, such as those on cover art or self-publishing. Others were more conversational in nature, and they were lively with everyone encouraged to participate. I feel I shouldn’t shy away from talking about the “Leave my ‘ou’ Alone” panel, in which I may have gained a bit of infamy. The object of the panel was for British and European authors to discuss how to retain their voices in a world of American publishers and with American readers being a large percentage of customers.

I intended to just sit quietly and listen—I really did. But at one point I felt my experiences, both as an American and an editor for a major American publisher of M/M romance might be valuable. I attempted to explain some of the reasoning behind why the publisher I work for changes certain things during the editorial process. I want to be clear in that it was never my intention to condemn or endorse, only explain. Well, my contribution to the panel initially sparked a bit of animosity and passion. But before long it evolved into an intelligent debate and discussion, one of the best I’ve had the privilege to attend. Lots of important points and ideas were discussed, and I, at least, took a lot away from the panel. It made me think about my approach to editing, and I think I’ll be a better editor for it. I think it’s a wonderful commentary on the convention and the attendees that what started out as semi-strong disagreement quickly turned into a valuable and enlightening discussion on several significant issues. An intelligent and respectful exchange of ideas—which the panel truly was after the initial, brief misunderstandings had been cleared up—can only ever benefit those working in the industry.

The panel was a good experience for me, and I truly learned a lot and enjoyed hearing different perspectives and the reasoning behind them. This was a discussion that could have gone on a lot longer, and one I suspect will be revisited at future meets. With the blossoming of the ebook industry and publishing becoming increasingly international, it’s an important and vital topic, and there’s no better way to help the industry evolve to reflect the diverse cultures of authors and readers than for people involved in this business to sit down and engage in an intelligent discussion like this one. Maybe I’m crazy, but although the panel had a rocky start, for me this was a high point, because there’s nothing I enjoy more than a thoughtful discussion with intelligent people and the free exchange of ideas.

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The exchange of ideas and wonderful conversations continued long after panels had ended for the day. The event organizers chose some stellar locations for dinners in Manchester’s gay village along the famous Canal Street, including Taurus (http://www.taurus-bar.co.uk/index.php), The Richmond Tea Rooms (http://www.richmondtearooms.com/About-us.aspx), and The Molly House (http://www.themollyhouse.com/). All of them are worth checking out if you ever make your way to the wonderful city of Manchester. Many of us spent the hours afterwards in the hotel’s bar, where conversation often continued until very late. I so enjoyed talking with the many interesting and wonderful people that I often sacrificed sleep to do so, and for me, this was the best part of the meet: connecting with authors, readers, and people in the industry and having meaningful discussions. I made some lifelong friends that I can’t wait to see again.

I am proud to have been a small part of raising a good amount of money for the Albert Kennedy Trust, an organization that finds loving homes for GLBT youth. For me, supporting the community and being a voice for equality goes hand in hand with my writing. I am delighted that the UK Meet agrees and is helping to support this important organization. If you’d like to learn more about the Albert Kennedy Trust or donate to this worthy cause, please use this link: http://www.akt.org.uk/

I sold some books at the UK Meet. It was a bit surreal to put my books on a table next to Clare London’s and be treated as an equal. Absolutely an ego boost for me when people came to have me and Beau sign books alongside Clare London. So yeah, I made myself a few pounds, and hopefully got my work out to a few new readers who will enjoy it, but in the end, I took something much more valuable than money away from the UK Meet. I took ideas, inspiration, and many things to think about and consider. I took away the words of knowledgeable and insightful people. These words and ideas will stay with me and influence my work and my thinking. Most importantly, I made friends, many of whom I miss fiercely already even as I write this.

I’ve rambled on long enough, but I would like to add a few quick notes for other American authors considering attending the UK Meet. First—do it! You won’t be disappointed. You can be assured of receiving a very warm welcome and meeting some wonderful people. And I think the discourse between American and British authors is invaluable. We can learn a lot from each other. As for the cost of traveling to the UK—I was pleasantly surprised. The price of food and lodging was actually less than what I would expect to pay in New York City. It can be affordable, and in my experience, the British authors I speak with online were very willing to help me plan. For me, it was worth every penny (pence). Overall, this conference felt more like a meeting of friends discussing ideas than authors competing for sales. If you are an author who has never attended a convention and are nervous about it, this is the one for you. And for readers, the UK Meet is a place where you can meet both “big” name authors and up and coming authors without the threat of ego. There were no divas in Manchester; even authors I feel have the right to diva status weren’t. Quite refreshing. Really, whoever you are, you can go to the UK Meet and be embraced.

For more information on the UK Meet, go here: http://ukglbtfictionmeet.co.uk/

I hope to see you in Bristol!

Much love,

Gus