Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Michele Drier, Waitress

Michele is supposed to wait tables at the cafe, but she spends too much time filling salt and pepper shakers, napkin holders and ketchup bottles. She says she doesn't want to get her perfectly-folded hankie mussed up, but she's really eavesdropping on the customer's conversations without having to talk to them. That way, she makes up their stories herself and doesn't have to bother with facts. In her spare time she writes mysteries and light vampire romance with a Hollywood gossip twist, talks to her cat, Djinn, and watches the squirrels on the freeway fence in her Sacramento backyard.

You can find more about Michele at http://www.micheledrier.com

Eilis Flynn, Counter Hugger

Eilis Flynn likes to hang out at the Otherworld because there's always something going on there! When she's not being the diner's principal Counter Hugger, she writes about The Reality Beyond (i.e., urban fantasy and paranormal romance). She lives in Seattle, WA, a place that has its own troll (who lives under a bridge -- you can look it up!), and other strange and wondrous things. To find out more, check out:

Website: http://www.eilisflynn.com
Blog: http://eilisflynn.blogspot.com
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/eilis.flynn
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/#!/eilisflynn

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What kind of writing conferences will you be attending this year?

There are so many good writing conferences out there throughout the year. January is when I start making my list of the ones I want to go to and the ones I HAVE to go to - there is a difference.

This year, I've been invited to seven conferences around the country. I don't think I'll be able to go to all of them, but several are near and dear to my heart and others will help me with the business of writing and selling what I write. Attending conferences is a great way to network, meet production companies, agents and editors and get in on pitch sessions, where you can pitch your story to your dream editor/agent or production company. Some of my conferences this year will be for novels, and some for scripts.

Where do you want to go? Questions welcome :)

Here's some links to get you started:
Novel Writing Information/Conferences

Screenwriting Conferences/Pitchfests

Good luck and get writing!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

PR Mason, Cashier

P.R. Mason likes her coffee black and her pie sweet. She's the Otherworld Diner's Cashier because she must be kept as far from the kitchen as possible—to put it frankly, she's a disaster if she gets near a stove. When she's not taking checks and making change at the diner, she's an author who writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She lives in the weird and wonderful city of Savannah, Georgia, where she's regularly subjected to the mind control experiments of her two black cat overlords. You can find out more about her at the following sites:

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5259792.P_R_Mason  
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/P.R.-Mason/e/B005RCKCQS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/prmason
Website: http://www.prmason.net
Blog: http://www.agirwithacomputer.blogspot.com

If you'd rather learn more about her cat overloards, you'll find the leader on Twitter @ConfuciusCat and on his blog at http://www.confuciuscat.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


What a wild ride so far, eh? I don't know about where you live, but we've had uncharacteristic warm temperatures here, even by Tennessee standards. We've also had a few days of severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings. Tornadoes aren't all that unusual in January in the South, but this is ridiculous.

Global warming? Sun spots? Who the heck knows? I only know that while living in Ohio January meant the coldest temperatures of the year, snow-covered lawns and streets, howling winter winds, and bare trees. It was so cold one year there were deer tracks leading all the way up to the small trees and bushes planted next to our house. Poor things were that hungry - they came into a subdivision and risked human contact just to find something to eat.

As I was thinking of the contrasts between the Januaries of my childhood and the spring-like conditions I'm now forced to endure in what should be a cold, quiet month, I began to wonder (as I so frequently do) where the name January came from.

January is named after Janus, the god of the doorway. The name has its beginnings in Roman mythology, coming from the Latin word for door, because January is the door to the year. Traditionally, the original Roman calendar consisted of 10 months, totalling 304 days because winter was considered a monthless period. Around 713 BC, the semi-mythical successor of Romulus, King Numa Pompilius, is supposed to have added the months of January and February, bringing the calendar to the standard lunar year of 365 days.

Although March was originally the first month in the old Roman Calendar, January became the first month of the calendar year under either Numa or the Decemvirs about 450 BC. Historical names for January include its original Roman designation, Ianuarius, the Saxon term Wulf-monath, meaning wolf month, and Charlemagne's designation Wintarmanoth, which means winter or cold month.

In Finnish, the month is called tammikuu, meaning month of the oak, but the original meaning was the month of the heart of winter. In Belarusian January is called word which means "a frosty one." In Czech this month is called leden, meaning ice month. In Ukrainian the word for January means cutting or slicing. Perhaps referring to the wind? Similarly, in Croatian January is called a word that means meaning cutting or slicing. The Turkish word for the month is called Ocak that means stove or fireplace.

Had enough? :) I don't know about you, but I find this stuff fascinating. I love to research names and their origins, because so often they end up nothing like the original idea or reason behind the name.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ask An Editor

Ever wish you could get inside an editor’s head? To have that esteemed person respond directly to you?

For many authors seeking publication, getting an editor’s attention is a dream come true.

In traditional publishing, editors are the gatekeepers. They decide if your piece is publishable or rejection fodder. This ultimate authority and the way they handle it makes them enigmas. For most us, editors remain mysteries because they are busy people, have varying backgrounds and interests, and sometimes make, what to us, are questionable decisions.

Today, we have a special opportunity at the diner.

Loose ID Senior Editor Ann Curtis has graciously offered to answer questions collected in our post today.

FYI: Loose Id is a California-based company that publishes steamy romances. Since 2004, they’ve published between 16 and 24 titles per month, penned by more than 200 talented authors. You can find them at http://www.loose-id.com/default.aspx.

Ann has been with Loose Id since 2006. In addition, she’s had her own editing business since 2005. Ann has a wealth of knowledge, which she’s waiting to share.

Today, we’ll collect your questions and I’m sure we’ll have lots of great ones. Ann will answer 13 of them and I’ll post her responses Feb. 23rd.

So, what would you like to know? This is an opportunity you don't want to miss. ...
Please post your questions in the Comments.


1. Mary asks--What is the first thing you look for in a manuscript?
2. Mary would also like to know--what do editors like to see?
3. Mia wonders--In terms of submissions, what would you like to see more of?
4.Jeannie asks--Where do you see publishing going in the next five years - will digital overrun print?
5.Alice Audrey has these questions--Do you edit self-pub books? If so, which have you done? What does your editing encompass?
6.Anonymous asks--When you receive a manuscript, what's a cardinal sin? In other words, a deal-breaker? What should we authors do better to impress an editor?
7.Country Dew wonders--Do you require a completely finished manuscript from a new writer, or do you prefer to accept a query and then work with the writer to create a finished work of fiction?
8.The Gal Herself poses these questions--How important is an agent? Is it true that editors prefer to receive manuscripts through an agent, rather than directly from the author?
9.Regina Castillo asks--I would like to know what agents see that makes them want to see your full manuscript. What can we do to make them want more?
10.Shelley Munro’s first question is - what genres would you like to see more of?
11.Oh, and her second - which are the most popular genres at Loose-Id?
12.Barbara Britton wonders--If the writing is A plus, but there's one grammar error, does it make you pass on the manuscript?
13.She also asks--What does it mean when editors/agents say it's not right for their list? What formulates a list?
14.Carolyn Rosewood’s question is--What percentage of manuscripts that you acquire would you say come from new authors?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Indie Author Spotlight: Chosen

by Denise Grover Swank

Book Blurb

Everything Emma Thompson owns fits in a suitcase she moves from one roach infested motel to another. She and Jake, her five year old son who can see the future, are running from the men intent on taking him. Emma will do anything to protect him even when it means accepting the help of a stranger named Will. Jake insists she needs Will, but Emma’s never needed help before. And even though she’s learned to trust her son, it doesn’t mean she trusts Will.

Mercenary Will Davenport lives in the moment. Hauling Emma to South Dakota should have been an easy job, but his employer neglected to tell him about Emma’s freaky son and the gunmen hot on her trail. Instinct tells him this job is trouble, but nothing can prepare him for Jake’s proclamation that Will is The Chosen One. Who must protect Emma from the men hunting her power. A power she doesn’t know she has.thing Emma Thompson owns fits in a suitcase she moves from one roach infested motel to another. She and Jake, her five year old son who can see the future, are running from the men intent on taking him. Emma will do anything to protect him even when it means accepting the help of a stranger named Will. Jake insists she needs Will, but Emma’s never needed help before. And even though she’s learned to trust her son, it doesn’t mean she trusts Will.

The Romantic Suspense

This book grabbed me from the first line and didn’t let go until the end. Fast-paced and action-packed, it had me flipping my virtual Kindles pages at mach speed. The author hardly ever lets the reader catch their breath. The suspense plot is tight and keeps us guessing. We, just like Emma, Will and Jake, have no idea who the bad men are and why they’re after them until the end.

The Characters

Will is a tortured hero hiding behind a cocky persona. I love how the author didn’t make him so self-assured that he can’t hide that he’s freaked out and a little scared of a 5 year old. Emma is believable as a mother doing everything in her power to keep her son safe. However, my mommy-meter went off every time Emma cusses like a sailor in front of her young child. During moments of life-threatening danger, I can understand letting one or two fly, but she didn’t seem to have a mommy filter on when things weren’t so tense. Jake is a child who is wise beyond his years. He’s confused as he comes into his new powers but deals with them like an adult, stoically accepting the fate life is about to deal him.

The Heat Factor

The sexual tension builds slowly with these two. After all, they have more pressing things to do (like staying alive) than ogle each other every five minutes. But once the burner gets turned up, the sexual chemistry is definitely sizzling between these two. The author does a good job building up to the moment with some steamy foreplay and then fades to black, leaving the nitty-gritty details to the reader’s imagination. If you want graphic sex scenes, this book is not for you.

A Few Stumbles

Besides having problems with mom’s potty mouth around her young son, this book would have benefited from a good, final proof-read. There were occasional times where words were omitted or left in (such as ‘his head his head’ or using ‘of’ instead of ‘off’’-- things that spell check doesn’t catch). With the fast-paced action, running into one of these caused this reader a bit of a stumble before continuing on.

Not Quite a HEA

The author doesn’t tie the ending of this book up in a nice, neat bow. There are many questions left unanswered and Will and Emma are still on the run. But hey, that’s what sequels are for. *G*

What Makes This Book Standout

This book is a page turner. Once I started it, I kept my Kindle by my side at all times and even got a few thumb cramps from hitting the NEXT PAGE key so fast. If you like good romantic suspense with a little paranormal thrown in, don’t miss this gem of a book.

Learn more about Denise Grover Swank at http://www.denisegroverswank.com/

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Where Do You Find Your Muse?

First of all, a HUGE apology to my fellow bloggers for missing my last post date. I'm very sorry.

For today, I'm going to pose a question. Where do you find your muse? I don't mean when she's lost. I mean from where do you find your inspiration? When I see this question in interviews or blogs, the answers are always stock - music, "everywhere," art, a snatch of conversation, or from people watching. And while I agree with each of those and have gleaned story or character ideas from all of the above - sometimes more than one at a time - I'd like to explore this further.

We recently took a trip to New York City for my daughter's 21st birthday. It was exhausting but fun! We took her to the Met (both the Opera and the Art Museum!), to the Gerswhin to see Wicked and to the Majestic to see Phantom. We visited Times Square and ate at both chain and local restaurants. We stayed in Midtown on the East Side so we were within walking distance of everything we planned to see and do.

My muse was on overload, even though I was so tired I didn't get any writing done. From the cab rides to the myriad of languages and accents all around me, the constant construction, horns honking and sirens wailing, all the way to more black boots than I've ever seen in one place and fake Burberry scarves on every corner.

There was the woman with the walking boot who told me she didn't bring her crutches to Wicked because "Can you imagine what the people sitting next to me would say?" I found this odd because in Nashville at TPAC the person sitting next to her would have said something along the lines of "Bless your heart, you poor thing!" and would have held her crutches for her during the performance.

I had a pleasant conversation with one of our housekeepers in the hotel elevator as we rode up to our floor with her, bags of dirty laundry, and her housekeeping cart. Her names was Rosa, she's always lived in NYC, and told me "no one here sleeps." I have to agree with Rosa. No one in NYC sleeps. We didn't either. :)

Friday night as we walked back to the hotel from the Gershwin we passed the NBC building at Rockefeller Center to see people lined up already, intending to spend the night, in the hopes of scoring stand-by tickets to SNL the following night. While on the NBC Studios Tour that very morning, we were told it's nearly impossible to score tickets and people literally wait years for them by mail, but every Saturday morning a crowd forms hoping for rare stand-by tickets.

A carriage ride would have cost us $100 for 20 minutes. And that was only around Times Square! We never even saw Central Park, except to pass it in a cab on our way home from the art museum.

The hot dog vendors don't only sell hot dogs. They sell hot pretzels, beverages, kielbasa, and every imaginable topping for your dog or sausage sandwich. The smells coming from the carts were enough to make me hungry even if we passed one on the way back from a restaurant.

People in NYC theaters take pictures during the show and inside the theaters despite the warnings not to. People text during performances. Not much different from home. :)

No one makes eye contact for long, and strangers don't smile at you on the street. In fact, if someone is making contact or smiling, they're trying to sell you something or are homeless and begging for money. I don't know if it was because we weren't in the right neighborhoods, but we saw fewer homeless people than when we were in Chicago.

St Patrick's Cathedral is breathtaking. I can't even describe it. The one thing I did find both amusing and slightly disturbing was the roped-off "media" platform. Oh, and there are two gift shops. :)

There are two ways to get to LaGuardia. One is slower and will cost you about $10 more, but you do have a lovely view from several bridges as you cross the East River. The other will get you there in about 15 minutes on a Sunday morning, and you get the experience of driving in a two lane tunnel with small orange cones separating the lanes, at roughly 60 mph, under the East River. I liked them both. :)

Speaking of cabbies, most of them were really nice, surprisingly safe drivers, and had no trouble taking us where we needed to go. Only one had no clue where our hotel was and it was a good thing we'd been there a couple of days already so I could tell him it was between Lexington and 3rd.

The black boots, you ask? All the women wear black boots and other assorted black clothing, with a fake Burberry scarf, of course. And they're all thin. I know why. There are stairs everywhere, and they walk everywhere. Plus the food is ridiculously expensive so I suspect most of them don't eat much. :)

I think I'll need at least a month to write down everything I saw, smelled, tasted, heard and experienced. I do know my muse was working overtime, and I'm grateful for the trip.

How about you? Any overload experiences you'd like to tell me about?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Want to Improve Your Writing? Thirteen Tips To Help You Write What You Know

You've heard the old adage "write what you know". But what if you're a housewife with no work experience and your most recent hobby is folding laundry? You know more than you think. Do a little work to get to know your personality, learn how to verbalize your specialized knowledge and find what topics of human nature resonate with you. When you learn to write what you know, you can leverage your knowledge and put power into your books. What you know is intimately connected to what you believe. It is these beliefs about people and situations, life, the universe and everything that will come through in your stories.

Here are 13 tips to writing what you know:

1.Generalize your likes. For example, describe in detail the reasons you liked a certain story you read without naming any characters or their specific situation in the book. Use these generalizations when creating your own stories.
2.Find a book you read that made you feel so giddy with excitement you just had to share the story with someone or burst. Now find a second book that was good, but didn't make you as excited. Figure out what was in the first book that was missing from the second book and use it.
3.Leverage your dislikes. Has your personal tolerance level ever been tested to the limits? If so, describe how. If not, describe how you manage to avoid being tested to the limits. Use your descriptions to give your characters a deep emotional touch.
4.Are you reserved and people think you're shy, or are you confident, and people think you're opinionated? Why do you think people sometimes misread your personality? What vibes do you give off that might make people think that? Create a scenario of what could happen when people misjudge.
5.Name one joy in your life.
Describe that joy in such a way that others can feel it along with you.
6.Name one tragedy in life that you've personally sorrowed over and want to help others overcome. Describe the process of how you overcame it.
7.Name a champion in your life. Create a scenario that will glorify that champion.
8.Name a villain you know of in your life. Create a scenario that will serve justice to this villain or expose the oppression he or she represents.
9.Describe the difference between justice and mercy and give an example of each from your personal experience. Create a scenario in which a character must choose between the two.
10.Use the question, "What makes you think that?" to understand why friends and relations think the way they do. Compare their answers to your own thinking and use any differences to set up powerful story conflicts.
11.Name one small thing that bothers you. Describe why it bothers you. Find story ideas or themes that connect with the reasons it bothers you.
12.Make a list of any specialized knowledge you have from work and non-work experience. Use small details from your experiences to make your story worlds feel real.
13.Use ordinary experiences to advantage. It's not the ordinariness of the experience that matters, but your unique perspective on it. Look for ways that your ordinary experiences differ from those of other people. Capture and highlight those differences in your stories.

If you have trouble with these tips, don't get how they would relate to writing what you know or just need help getting the most out of your own knowledge, consider taking Kat's class Using Ordinary Know-how in Every Genre at Savvy Authors. Registration is open now!

Thank you, Kat for visiting The Otherworld Diner and giving us some great tips. As a former student, I’m awed by your ability to explain concepts so that they can be easily understood. I would take another one of your classes in a heartbeat.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Indie Publishing: In Through the Back Door

A few posts back, I blogged about how readers are the new Gatekeepers in the publishing industry. Seems like I created a bit of a stir and there were tweets going back and forth, along with several other bloggers who took that thought and ran with it, some agreeing (thanks Kendall) while others respectfully disagreed and said that we still needed the professional Gatekeepers (i.e. editors and agents). That argument aside, guess who’s using the Reader Gatekeepers now? Editors and agents. Go figure.

I have several indie published friends who’ve sold so well doing it themselves that they are being approached by agents and editors to come back to the mothership. And just how are the editors and agents finding them? I’ll let you in on a little secret. There was a post on the Kindle boards that asked this very question and received a very interesting answer, one that many of us have suspected for some time. Agents and editors are being alerted to any best selling indie published books and it looks like 10,000 is the magic number folks. Yep, sell 10K on one or more indie books and you too may find you have an editor or agent knocking at your door.

When this call comes, many authors are leaving the indie world behind and taking these offers. The reason why might be obvious to some. After all, isn’t it every author’s dream to be traditionally published? Perhaps. But you might be surprised at the main reason some authors are giving for joining Team NY. Self-publishing poster child Amanda Hocking is probably the best example. She accepted a huge deal from St. Martins after taking the indie world by storm. Her reason? She was tired of doing all the work herself. For an indie author, writing the book is only part of the job. You also have to format the book, design the cover, get the reviews, do all the promo…the list goes on. It’s a lot of time consuming hard work. And some authors are willing to give up a piece of the profits in order to let someone else do most of that for them. Another reason? By going traditional, your books will be available in the brick and mortar stores, although with the popularity of e-books on the rise and rapidly taking over a big chunk of the market share, this dangling carrot is not as appealing as it used to be.

But other authors who are getting these calls are struggling with what to do. Now that they’ve had a taste of what having total control over their creative product is like, do they really want to give up the ability to write what they want, how they want? The flexibility to change the price as the market fluxuates? The power to bring their vision of what the cover art should be to life? The money, because to be traditionally published, many will be selling more books, but making less as far as royalties go. Those are a few of the reasons why some are saying, No thanks.

Regardless of which way an indie author chooses to go, it’s interesting how the business is turning on its head. Those we used to kiss up to, praying they would buy our books, are now courting the very ones that got away.