Sunday, December 8, 2013
After making sandwiches in my dad's deli for eight years I vowed that I would not get a real job upon graduating from college. Let the other guys punch a clock and become one of the commuting undead on the train into Manhattan. I was gonna have fun. I might not get rich, but you can't buy happiness.
So I went into journalism, working for a short time in newspapers and radio before ending up on television. And let me tell you, back in the day (when dinosaurs roamed the earth, often known as "the eighties") being a TV reporter was a glamour job. Meet incredibly interesting people, fly around the country to cover big events, spend time with celebrities. We called it the "front row ticket" to life.
Now of course I have two glamour jobs. I've changed hats in the news business (high-def not being kind to those of a certain age) and now work as a freelance network producer. And, of course, the ultimate glamour job, being an author. (Twenty foot commute, wardrobe includes a bathrobe or sweats, quality time with the cat.)
But while I can't think of anything bad about being an author, things aren't always as glamorous as they seem in the world of television news.
Sometimes you get to meet people from your all-time favorite TV show, Star Trek.
Sometimes you set up a live shot with someone running for President. (He's an incredibly nice guy, regardless of what you think about his politics.)
And then sometimes you get a flat tire on a news car in the middle of a hurricane. You can't exactly call Triple-A. (And no, I haven't gained a hundred pounds. That's what you look like with 75 mile per hour winds blowing up your blue slicker.)
Yes, not all glamour jobs are as they seem.
Of course writing isn't easy, but it's too much fun to complain about anything. Sure, you can get frustrated at times, but at least you don't have change a tire in a hurricane.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Welcome to the 12 Days of Christmas Tour with Jane Lark.
After signing with publisher Harper Impulse, Jane, author of the smash-hit Marlow Intrigues series, has decided to end 2013 with a bang! She’s gathered together some of the industry’s best authors to create one enormous Christmas giveaway.
The huge prize is made up of more than 30 books, a combination of signed paperbacks and eBooks, and two gorgeous book bags. It’s the perfect early Christmas present for any bookworm and all you’ve got to do to win is feast your eyes on the details below and enter via the Rafflecopter . . .
Jane's books have been a huge hit with fans, leading to an ever-increasing fan base and comments such as:
"Jane Lark has an amazing talent to draw the reader in from the first page onwards."
And to celebrate her upcoming December release of NA novel I Found You, you could also win a unique rucksack.
The book is already causing excitement among readers and looks set to be the must-read NA of 2014.
But that's not all folks! As if Jane's books weren't enough, check out the other amazing books included in the prize pot, you're sure to find one or two of your fav authors getting involved . . .
Entry to Jane Lark's 12 Days of Christmas giveaway extravaganza is easy, just follow the authors on Facebook or Twitter, plus maybe give the comp a shout-out tweet (or two) all via the Rafflecopter below and you're golden. But don't forget to keep your fingers crossed too!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please take a moment to read through the giveaway terms and conditions:
This is an international giveaway.
Signed paperbacks are to be sent from the authors themselves. Jane Lark, BestChickLit and/or any authors involved accept no responsibility for delivery failures. The winner must be open to accepting eBooks in any format i.e. Kindle copies and via iTunes voucher, from different sources. In the event of .mobi copies, the winner must have an Amazon Kindle account and be prepared to add selected addresses as approved emails on their Personal Document settings.
Some of the books involved in the giveaway contain adult and sexual content and this should be taken into consideration before reading. Jane Lark, BestChickLit, Harper Impulse and any of the participating authors are free to amend any of the giveaway details at any time.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Yep, I hit the 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo yesterday, which was the last day to do it. Usually I don't push the envelope like that, since my years in the news business have conditioned me to hit deadlines way ahead of time. But this time it was different.
Because when I started, I had absolutely no idea where the story was going.
A few weeks before NaNo started, I asked my editor what she wanted. Another Rom-Com? A YA book? She asked for a sequel to the first YA novel I'd sent. Which was good since Id just finished a Rom-Com and I like a change of pace. The good news was that I was totally familiar with the characters. The bad news? I'd never written a sequel. Do I have to re-introduce all the characters again? Does the book have to be able to stand alone? After getting some guidelines I was ready to go.
But with a week to go, I still had no plot in my head. So I took the time to re-read the first novel.
On the morning of November first, I had a very thin outline of a plot in my head. So thin it made Gwyneth Paltrow look like she needed Nutrisystem. Thin as in "the heroine gets in trouble and has to get out of it."
So it was time to put my TV reporter hat back on, because this was going to be the literary version of a breaking news live shot.
I was going to seriously wing it.
I alerted my muse, who'd been given the previous week off. She said, "Pffft, no problem," and dove into my subconscious, where it is said every plot you'll ever need is hidden.
On that first day I wrote a couple thousand words and figured out how the book would end. How I would get there, I had no clue. But my character knew. I simply had to get back in her head.
Of course, I'd just spent eight weeks in the head of a Rom-Com heroine, so I had to give the gal her notice, telling her my lease was up and I needed to move on. Poor thing, she had been so good to me and didn't take it well. Off I went, like a lounge lizard moving on to shack up with another woman.
And then everything started to click. The plot worked itself out. Since this is a paranormal YA book I came up with a bit of conflict between two characters. As it turned out, both were enemies in Greek mythology, and I hadn't read any of that since high school. Was it something kicking around in the back of my mind for decades? Luckily the muse found it and put it to good use.
So I reached the goal but not the end of the book. I think it will come in around 60,000 words, as there are several more scenes to write. And I've got a small hole in the plot that needs to be fixed. But I'm happy with the way things turned out.
I'm going to let the manuscript (and the muse) breathe for a few days, then read what I've written and wrap things up.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking about chocolate for breakfast.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
NaNoWriMo recipe for time-strapped writers: The 10-minute recipe that combines chocolate and chicken
And I thought the same thing. Until I tried this wonderful concoction in a Mexican restaurant.
It's called "Mole" and pronounced "mo-lay". Some Mexican restaurants call it "mole poblano." I figured it was so good it must be incredibly hard to make. Nope.
It has three, count 'em, three ingredients. Your seven year old could make this.
-One jar of Mole
-Two cans of chicken broth (Or, if you made the last recipe, use the chicken broth you saved.)
-Four chicken breasts
You'll need to buy a jar of mole sauce, which costs about two bucks and looks like this:
Friday, November 22, 2013
The school nurse walked into the classroom without knocking, moved quickly to the teacher and whispered in her ear. The teacher's smile vanished. The nurse quickly left as the teacher said, "You all need to go home, right now. President Kennedy has been shot."
When you're a kid in elementary school, you don't understand death. Sure, history class of late had been about present day events, what with the Cuban missile crisis and all that stuff about the Russians nuking us. And living in the shadow of Manhattan, those "duck and cover" drills made us wonder how a wooden desk would protect us from an nuclear warhead. It was an era in which current events went directly into the history book because it seemed every day brought something important.
But this, we didn't understand.
JFK was the same age as our parents, he talked like people we knew, he was from the same part of the country, he was Catholic and went to Mass like we did.
But he was best at inspiring people.
We didn't know what Republicans or Democrats were, and we didn't care. He made us feel like we were all in this together. Whether it was the space race with the Russians or his physical fitness program, we were united. We wanted to do our best, to try as hard as possible.
Once upon a time...
Now of course we're hopelessly divided. Politics, religion and social issues separate us. Everything is black and white, with no gray areas.
And in the workplace, we have to watch our backs because it is every man for himself. I've spent my career in television news, one of the most cutthroat professions around. I could open a cutlery store with the knives I've pulled out of my back.
But despite the factors that drive society apart, the flame of Camelot that Jackie lit fifty years ago still burns. And writers are the keepers of the flame.
Because writers are in this together.
I'm not sure if there's another profession in which people are so incredibly supportive, so kind. Rookies get help from best selling authors, then pay it forward as they move up the ladder. Editors work endless hours to make our work better. All toward the common goal of creativity.
And unlike those days when we worried if Castro or Khrushchev would nuke us, there's no common enemy. There's no enemy at all except a blank page. But there are tons of people who will help you fill it. People who may lose a sale because you gain one. Benevolent souls whose only common denominator is a muse and the desire to create something special.
You look back at those days of innocence fifty years ago and realize that a lot of what JFK accomplished was through good PR. You find out the childhood hero was a horrible womanizer who didn't play by the rules. But, bottom line, he united us. We were all in it together.
If those of you who weren't alive in 1963 want to know what it was like before that day, go to a writer's conference. Sure, we're all competing for the brass ring known as a best seller, but no one is going to trample you to get it. If you fall, someone will pick you up. If someone else falls, you'll extend a hand. A bleeding heart liberal will have lunch with a Bible-thumping conservative and they'll get along great. Because writers are in it together. They will renew your faith in human nature.
Those who say we lost our innocence that day got it only half right. We lost our togetherness as well.
Thankfully, writers haven't lost either.
Once upon a time is a great way to start a fairy tale. It's also a great way to reminisce about a wonderful period in our history, which many people think is gone forever.
Once upon a time exists if you're a writer.
Monday, November 18, 2013
However, I didn't expect the questions and comments from people after I told them I had a book deal. Some are bizarre, some just plain funny.
1. "So, you selling your house now?" Yes, the first thing you do when signing a book deal is call a realtor. Obviously you must unload the hovel in which you're living, charter a plane, and head for the Caribbean where you will select an island to buy. Or call up the Queen of England to see if she's interested in unloading one of the Channel Islands.
2. "Hey, that hobby finally paid off." (The most common comment, and the one that makes you want to spit nails.) Yeah, knocking out nine novels before getting a deal took no effort at all. I did it after I was done collecting stamps and chasing butterflies.
3. "So, are you going to continue working at your real job?" (The second most common comment.) Yes, writing is not work, and when I'm through playing with the unicorns and rainbows I might do something you consider to be work.
4. "You can retire now." Yes, and the future books will magically write themselves. I've got this cool computer program that's activated when the cat runs across the keyboard and creates a manuscript.
5. "Am I in the book?" Of course you are. I have magically transformed a street on the Florida border into Manhattan and the people who live here into sarcastic New Yorkers. The middle aged male pattern slug with the beer belly who lives across the street was the basis for the smoking hot guy in the book. So I hope you'll be able to recognize yourself. (That's one way to get book sales.)
6. "Did you get a lot of money?" I'm not going to tell you even if I did, but it's fun watching you think I got a seven figure check. Hey, you wanna take a ride with me to the Mercedes dealership? I'm thinking about a new car. Or two.
7. "Can I buy a copy?" No, of course not. Only the Pentagon has access to the manuscript, since they discovered there are secret nuclear launch codes buried in a romantic comedy. You ever see that Robert Redford movie Three Days of the Condor in which he reads books for the CIA looking for clues? They have actual people reading books like mine, so I'd better get to that Caribbean island quick.
8. "Since you're home not really doing anything, you can watch my kids, right?" Sure, just let me know. (Caller ID is a wonderful thing.)
9. "What's a Rom Com?" It's basically When Harry Met Sally in book form, except Meg Ryan isn't in it.
10. "Would you have time to write my life story? It would make a terrific book and I know it would be a best seller." Sure. When I'm through watching your kids.