Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'm Still Alive

Yesterday was...interesting. It hasn't been all that long since I've flown last, but things have definitely changed. Maybe it's due to the Olympics a couple months back, but man, the security at Vancouver Int'l Airport is something else. We now have automated check-in where you have to scan your passport and enter all your info into a computer. I didn't know my step-sister's address, and you now can't enter the US without giving the address of your final destination, so they weren't going to allow me to check in. Trust me, after only an hour's sleep the night before, my stress levels were already pretty high.

With that crisis averted, I went through security. Three times. They scanned me, all my clothes and belongings in my carry-on, then put me in a body scan booth where they check for hidden images and explosive residue. Then they swabbed my hands and socks, shoes, laptop and bag to check for more residue. I even got patted down after all that.

Jeez, talk about overkill. On the plus side, I felt like they'd made a good effort at keeping any crazies off the plane, so that helped a fraction.

After filling out a declaration form (even though I hadn't gone anywhere yet), I finally cleared customs and an hour later got on my flight, took my little Ativan tablet and willed it to kick in. No sooner had the pill melted under my tongue than the pilot came on the intercom to say that we had a broken plane. Some sort of fuel gauge malfunction they were double-checking with maintenance.


Turned out it wasn't a malfunction; the maintenance crew had shorted us a thousand gallons of jet fuel. Awesome. I'm feeling ever so secure strapped into my seat in this damn little tube.

Not only that, but our flight was delayed forty-five minutes, exactly the amount of time I had in Dallas/Fort Worth to get on my connecting flight. When we landed four hours later without incident, they let off eight of us trying to connect to Austin, and we all sprinted through the airport up to the trains to get to the terminal on the opposite side of the airport, then ran the whole way to the last gate. But no dice. They'd left without us. Bummer.

So they put us all on a later flight and we walked back to the other side of the terminal to wait, where I called my step-sis to tell her I'd be arriving late.

Only that plane was broken, too, and I was only too happy not to get on the thing.

They brought in another aircraft about an hour later, and once all those passengers disembarked and the plane was cleaned and fuelled (with the right amount), we finally got on. That flight was unpleasantly bumpy, but in my time sitting around DFW airport, I'd met some nice people that I wound up sitting with, and one of them is a huge Civil War buff :) So despite the turbulence I enjoyed her company, and Tina was waiting for me with baby Areia when I arrived in Austin.

We had a lovely Greek dinner (Tina's short for Athena, and she's half Greek) before driving to their beautiful new Spanish-style house. I met their two Great Danes and had the grand tour (OMG, if you could see the master walk-in closet, all you women out there would be pea-green with envy. I'll try to take pictures and post them later, but it's something else.). Today we're going to go into the city and do a little shopping and sight-seeing, and tomorrow I'm off to the ranch with Rhonda.

No flights for me for another four days! I'm so okay with that :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Deep in the Heart of Texas

It's D-Day tomorrow. Departure day, that is. I'm headed to Austin, to visit my step-sis and her family, then I'm traveling with Rhonda Penders, editor-in-chief of the Wild Rose Press, down to a dude ranch outside of San Antonio for the weekend.

I signed up for this trip a year ago, while I was at Disneyland with my hubby and weasels. Remember? The trip we drove for twenty-plus hours each way because DH and I are terrified of flying? Yeah. How times have changed, because when I leave San Antonio on May 2nd, I'm flying into LA to meet my little family for a week in Disneyland. (I've figured out the only way to get hubby on a plane is to book a trip to a Disney park. So, someday I'm going to drag him across the pond to Paris! *evil laugh*)

Once the damn flying is over with (safely, I mean), I'm looking forward to the trip. I get to meet my editor with the Crimson Rose line of TWRP, so that will be cool. She's promised to go on a trail ride with me. I haven't been on a horse in years, but I grew up with them so I'm hoping it'll be just like riding a bike. I'll also get lots of uninterrupted writing time, and plan to revise my Civil War novel for the umpteenth time. If I get a good handle on those rewrites, I'll get cracking on Crash and Burn, the sequel to Turbulence. Currently, I'm 25% through the first draft.

So wish me luck, people! I'm feeling the fear but doing it anyway :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stephen Knows Things...

I've been meaning to read this book for a long time, and finally picked it up when I was shopping at the bookstore with my eldest weasel yesterday. I'm sorry I waited so long to buy it.

Mr. King has achieved a phenomenal amount of success in this crazy publishing industry, and somehow maintained a wicked sense of humor. I've only read three of his books, but I have to hand it to the man; his wit is every bit as sharp as his pen.

I admire him for overcoming all the hardships life threw at him, and for the fact he's stayed happily married to his college sweetheart for all this time. (I am a romance author, after all, so that alone wins him major brownie points from me.)

Right from the foreword he had my full attention:

This is a short book, because most books about writing are filled with bullshit.

O-kaaaay, then. :)

Two of my other favorite gems:

Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.


I'm convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing...Dumbo got airborne with the help of a magic feather; you may feel the urge to grasp a passive verb or one of those nasty adverbs for the same reason. Just remember before you do that Dumbo didn't need the feather; the magic was in him.

For all us struggling wannabes out there, this book will be both an inspiration and a slap upside the head. I highly recommend it, if for no other reason than to understand that for writers, writing is a compulsion. A writer can ignore their muse or throw in the towel when things get hard, but they won't be completely fulfilled unless they're putting words down on the page. End of story.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Interview With Rebecca J. Clark

Please welcome fellow TWRP author Rebecca J. Clark, here to talk about writing and her first release, Borrowed Stilettos, ranked in the top ten books at Fictionwise.

Tell us a bit about you :)
I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband of 22 years and two usually fabulous teenagers. We have a German Shepherd beast, 2 cats and a gecko to round out our menagerie. When I'm not writing, my "other" job is a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor. I feel like the luckiest woman in the world with two fascinating, fun and and exciting careers. Most people can't honestly say they love their jobs. I have two, and love them both.

What neat careers you have! What made you decide to become a writer?
Since reading my first Harlequin Romance at age 11, I've wanted to write romances. It just took me a while to start pursuing it seriously. I love how I feel when I finish reading a good romance, and that's what inspires me to write them. I want my readers to get that satisfied, happy feeling at the end of my stories, too.

How long did it take you to write Borrowed Stilettos?
You know, I actually have no idea. I originally wrote it many years ago, but the line I wrote it for folded. I put it aside until 2007 when an agent suggested I write really hot. So I completely rewrote the whole thing with a much steamier twist (you can't just add sex scenes. Well, you COULD, but it probably wouldn't be authentic to the story), and submitted it. My guess is that if I wrote it start to finish with no side trips, it would've taken me 4-5 months.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser?
Neither. I'm a mess. :) Seriously, I'm probably more of a pantser, although being a plotter would probably be quicker and less frustrating. I generally will know a bit about the characters, some of the turning points, the setting, then I'll write a really fast and ugly first draft. I mean REALLY ugly. Then I go back and fix it. I'll probably go through 5-6 drafts, if not more. Never less.

What advice would you give to new writers?
Read a lot in your genre and outside your genre. Write what you love, not what you think will sell. This business is hard and frustrating, and can take years and years to sell. You don't want to spend all your time writing something you're not passionate about, do you?

That's a great point, LOL. What promo advice would you recommend for newly published authors?
Man, I am the wrong person to ask about this. Promo is my least favorite part of this business, but it's a necessary evil. :) (I say this because I'm somewhat introverted by nature. I hate talking about myself. My mom always said it was rude...) I guess the first thing I'd do is get a simple website (I use Homestead and it was super easy to put something together, especially considering I'm techno-challenged). Then I'd get onto Facebook or MySpace, and Twitter, and just start putting yourself "out there." Get some name recognition.

Any tricks or tips you can share in terms of writing/craft?
Buy and read James Scott Bell's book Plot & Structure. It's helped me so much. Also, while you're writing the first draft, don't worry or stress too much about getting everything right. Just get the story down. You can revise later. My muse works much better when I hand her the reins and let her run free.

What's surprised you the most about publishing a novel?
How much time it takes to do promotion. I don't do nearly as much as some other writers do, but it still takes a big chunk of my time. I'm not the most organized person, but I really need to learn to schedule time to do this. I'll get on Facebook or Twitter or various loops, just thinking I'll check in. Next thing I know, I've spent an hour or two there when I really should have been writing

What are you working on now?
I always work on several projects at once. Right now, I'm working on a follow-up to my debut novel, Borrowed Stilettos, and also a romantic suspense novella. And a story I plan to submit to Harlequin.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Don't ever give up. This is a tough business. It'll break you if you let it. So don't let it. :)
Ooh, you just gave me goose bumps. I hope to see many more releases from you in the near future!

Thank you so much for the interview, Rebecca, and we'll look forward to your sequel. To purchase a copy of Borrowed Stilettos, visit Rebecca's website, or The Wild Rose Press.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Interview With Susan Lyons/Fox

Today at Writers Gone Wild, the amazing Susan Lyons/Fox is giving away a print copy of her latest scorching romance, Love, Unexpectedly. Come drop by and leave a comment to enter the contest.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Little Retail Therapy

After a bit of a rocky start, I had the best weekend I've had in a looong time. Did my taxes for the accounting department (AKA the hubbster), and verified that yes, my writing is not a lucrative business. Yet. It actually put me $200 in the hole last year. Needless to say, the accounting department wasn't terribly excited by this evidence in light of how many hours I put into it last year. Although, only the first book of the series was out at the time, and this year I'll have at least three and maybe four releases, so it should be a better year, financially speaking. On the plus side, I did make a bit of money from my massage therapy job, but not enough to help us out all that much. Awesome. Two part time jobs aside from being a full time mom, and nothing to show for it. Where the hell is my chocolate stash?

What better way to lift a girl's spirits than to spend the day shopping? After weeks of her trying to pin me down, I finally agreed to spend the day with my mom, just the two of us. We went for lunch and then spent all afternoon at Winners, where I promptly went hog wild. That's why I rarely go shopping--I know better. :) Bought some nice things for my upcoming trip to Texas with The Wild Rose Press group, plus some cute little jammies and a pretty purse. Doesn't really matter what it is; if it's got ribbons, bows, hearts or lace on it, I'll probably like it. I'm such a girl! Anyway, I spent way too much money but I left the store feeling a hell of a lot better than I had that morning. Funny how that works ;)

Yesterday was a family day spent playing miniature golf, topped off by a picnic in our backyard and Sunday Night Baseball (baseball's back--yee-haw!). And, I actually got an entire chapter written this weekend.

You know that saying "feast or famine"? As of today I've got three articles to write, two for my Massage Therapist Association magazine that I just accepted a freelance job for (the accounting department approves), and my galleys just came in for Absolution. One last visit with Luke to catch all the typos. Sigh... He's so dreamy, I can't wait for you all to read his story!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reviews: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Getting a good review is a huge relief for us writers. It affirms that a) we can in fact write our way out of a paper bag, and b) that someone out there liked our stuff. At heart, I think most of us are pretty insecure and sensitive creatures. Why is it that negative criticism carries so much more weight than the positive? Even if the positive is 90% or more of the feedback you receive?

Just last week a writer acquaintance of mine stopped by for a visit, and we got talking about writing. He's not a romance fan, but he did read my first book out of support and maybe curiosity. Anyway, I'm sure he was trying to be helpful, but he went on to tell me all the things I could have done to make it a better book. It could have been he was trying to point things out to help strengthen my future projects, but really, why tell me all of that when the book's already been published and there's not a thing I can do to change it? It's not perfect, of course not! It was my first book, after all. But it also won an RWA published Laurel Wreath award for best romantic suspense of 2009, so it isn't awful.

In happier news, I have received several glowing reviews so far for Cover of Darkness. Trust me, I so needed some good news right now in my writing world, so they couldn't have come at a better time. I'm going to post a couple of lines here for future reference, when I might be tempted sometime in the future to strangle myself with my laptop power cord because my writing isn't going well :) And because I realize not all the feedback I'll receive in the future will make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Dana Dean of Got Erotic Romance gave it 5 stars and said:

Wonderful. In Cover of Darkness Ms. Cross did exactly what a writer should do. Almost from the first page I wanted to be the heroine even when danger and chaos lurked around every corner. I admired Bryn’s dedication to a father she rarely saw, her strength and determination to do whatever it took to survive, and her compassion. Mostly, I envied her opportunity to be rescued by several hunky men. Although Dec is obviously and spectacularly the hero in this story, the other men who circle Bryn like satellites should not be disregarded. In fact, I suspect they won’t be. Cover of Darkness tells Bryn and Dec’s story, but it also drops tantalizing hints about the lives of several others and left me wanting more. I enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to see whose story is next. Well done, Ms. Cross.

Camelia at Long and Short Reviews gave it 4.5 books and said:

The many intriguing secondary characters and their motivations, the subterfuge, hate, and the love make Cover of Darkness a breathtaking and a heartbreaking story of life in a war zone and what it takes to survive. The price is sometimes high. The excitement, fear, and horror keep the adrenaline pumping at top speed as the story unfolds. How love survives and even thrives in such times is a mystery and a miracle.

Kaylea Cross’ writing style plunks the reader down into the middle of the action, traitorous deals, and the horrors of war as she mines the best and the worst of human nature to create a phenomenal love story.

Reese over at Night Owl Reviews gave it 4 stars and a "top pick rating". She said:

Kaylea Cross writes romantic suspense at its finest. She does an amazing job bringing to readers an exciting new Navy Seal romance. Dec was HOT HOT HOT. The details in the story were believable and there is a great blend between the romance and the military details. Readers will also be sucked into Luke Hutchinson's own personal problems. Cross is an author to keep your eyes on.
(Yay, because Luke is my favorite and I want everyone who reads my books to be sucked into his personal problems!)

And while this is not exactly a rave review, a reader from Nights And Weekends wrote:

At the beginning of the novel, I was tempted to compare it to Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series, which is also about Navy SEALs. But as the novel progressed, I saw that I couldn’t compare the two. Cover of Darkness is very pro-America and pro-military, whereas Brockmann’s novels are written from more of a liberalistic viewpoint, which doesn’t accurately portray the military mindset.

Unlike Brockmann’s “heroes,” Declan McCabe would never be caught dead questioning whether or not Americans are the good guys or why they were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place. He might be concerned about, say, collateral damage, but he never doubts his mission. I will grudgingly admit that Brockmann is the better writer, but I feel more connected to Cross’s characters because they think more or less the way I do. I also think that Cross writes far more believable military men—men who think the only good “tango” (terrorist) is a dead tango. But Cross is also very careful to show “good” Muslims, the people who live their day-to-day lives by the actual teachings of Islam (there is one elderly woman who—despite grave danger to herself—shows compassion to Bryn) and not the more twisted fanatical teachings.

(Okay, I'm just tickled to be somewhat favorably compared to Suzanne Brockmann, one of my favorite authors of all time. Who'd have ever thought that would happen?)

That's it so far, but I'll keep my fingers crossed for other good reviews in the future.