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Odds & ends: Christine Feehan, True Blood, RWA, Comic Con June 30, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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Odds & Ends:

  • I Am way behind in my reading and interviewing. Christine Feehan, who just released  HIDDEN CURRENTS — the hidden7th book in her Drake Sisters novels, is awaiting my questions for my next Q&A. So if you have anything you’d like me to ask, let me know!
  • I am seriously bummed that there isn’t a new episode on TRUE BLOOD — based on the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris — on HBO this weekend. However, I did find an interesting NPR interview with Anna PaquinCLICK HERE to listen to it. This ran just before season No. 2 of TRUE BLOOD’s debut, but she talks about some of the special effects (like drinking blood from a fake arm) and other tidbits.
  • I am looking for folks who are attending the Romance Writers of America’s annual conference, which is in Washington D.C., July 15 – 18. Hoping for contributions, such as photos and even snippets of what it’s like to attend. Please let me know if you’re attending and would like to guest blog. (CLICK HERE for a reminder of the nominees for the Paranormal Romance categories!)blueMoon(2)
  • Finally — for Alyson Noel fans, she’ll be signing copies of BLUE MOON (release date July 7) at the Barnes & Noble  store in Orange on July 17 at 6 p.m.  She’ll also be on a discussion panel and signing her book at Comic Con at the  San Diego Convention Center on July 24. (Panel: 12:30- 1:30 and book signing: 1:30 – 2:30.)

Comments or suggestions for the blog? Want to guest blog? Let me know!

Email: dianachiyo@gmail.com

Twitter: mcdiana

Comments: Just leave me your contact info in comments section

Create a book trailer for ‘Fever’ series and win a trip for 2 to Ireland June 29, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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Attention fans of Karen Marie Moning’s “Fever Series.” Create a 30 second to 2-minute book trailer based on reading a special excerpt summarizing her Fever series: DARKFEVER, BLOODFEVER, FAEFEVER (release date July 28) and dreamfeverDREAMFEVER (release date Aug. 18). The trailer that best brings the series alive wins a four-day, three-night trip for two to Dublin.

Entries will be judged on originality (30% of score), creativity (30% of score), and ability to generate interest in reading the rest of Karen’s  “Fever Series”  (40% of score).

The contest starts today (June 29) and all book trailers must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Aug. 7. For complete contest rules — and there are a lot, so read the fine print — and how to get the special excerpt you’ll need, CLICK HERE.

Writing tips: Revise, rethink and don’t take rejection personally, ‘Evermore’ author advises June 27, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.
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I asked Alyson Noel, the author of the NYT bestseller  EVERMORE , the first book in the Immortal Series about Ever and Damen,  to give us a few tips for aspiring authors. Her second book in the series , BLUE MOON – is due out July 7. But before

Alyson Noel

Alyson Noel

we get to her writing tips, I wanted to know where she worked! And stay tuned for part 3 of the interview: Why writers need to be on the Web. (To read the first part of the interview, “Evermore” Author on Immortality, Teen Angst, Her Next Book, CLICK HERE!)

Q. What’s your workspace like?

A. I work at home, in an office that doubles as a workout room. So along with the usual desks, computers, overcrowded books shelves, faxes, printers, phones, and chairs, there is also a treadmill, a recumbent bike, a small TV on the wall in case I need to watch Oprah, and one of those huge rubber balls that you’re supposed to use for . . .well, I’m not really sure, but sometimes I sit on it! I also have a nice ocean view, but I keep the blinds closed because I like to focus on my work without any distractions!

Q. Is it hard to write for teens — when you’re not a teen? (How do you remember all of that angst so well!)

A. While technically I’m well past my teen years, the truth is that despite the husband, the mortgage, and the monthly utilities bills, I’ve never reached that moment where I felt like I’d truly grown up. I still blast my music, still start my sentences with “Omigod!”, still get rock star crushes, and I still blueMoon(2)remember exactly what it felt like to fumble through a pretty difficult adolescence. I have a lot of empathy for teens and I guess I’m still connected to that time in my life in a very big way!

Q. If you had to boil down all of your expertise/experience and advice you’ve received, what would be your Top 3 tips to writers?

1. Rejection is a given in this business and it doesn’t end just because you get published, so it’s important to learn to not take it personal and just keep on keeping on—it’s the only way.
2. Revising is your friend. When you’ve finished your manuscript stash it away and don’t look at it for three months. It’s amazing what a fresh read will reveal!
3. Writer’s Block occurs when you don’t know enough about your characters or their world and the cure is research. Next time you’re stuck, delve into your characters and their motivations a little more, immerse yourself in the world you’ve created, research the concepts you’re applying—it’ll spark new ideas that’ll send you on your way.

Visit Alyson online at:

Her Web site
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Myspace

Suggestions? Have an author you want me to interview? Let me know. Just post in comments section.

PREVIOUS INTERVIEWS:

JENNIFER LYON: ‘Blood Magic author talks about her hero and Hugh Jackman’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

SHANA ABE: ‘Author of Dragon series on next book and its renegade lovers’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

LINDA O JOHNSTON: ‘Her Alpha wolves practice safe sex’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

SUSAN SQUIRES: ‘Author of vampire series on strong women, kinky things, time travel’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

True Blood: Charlaine Harris films her scene! (Read her posts!) June 21, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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The author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels says she’s taped her cameo role for the HBO series, which is based on her

Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris

books.  She will appear in the season 2 finale at Merlotte’s. No vampires in the scene because it was filmed during the day. Here are some of  her posts (from the message board section on her Web site) about her experience!

*****

2009-06-18 22:07

I am here in Beverly Hills. I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille! (That’s from “Sunset Boulevard,” for you younger readers.) Actually, I’m here to do some meetings and to do a cameo for “True Blood.” It’s much cooler here than it is at home, to my surprise.

Charlaine Harris

2009-06-19 10:31

Yes, season two. I think this’ll be a bar scene. Yes, there’s a picture of Alan and me behind the bar. There was also a picture of my daughter’s softball team on one wall for much of season one, though it’s down now. I figured Sam would support the local teams.

Charlaine Harris

2009-06-19 20:44

I’ll be in the final episode in a scene in Merlotte’s.

Charlaine Harris

2009-06-20 08:27

It was fun. It was also a learning experience. This scene takes place in daytime, so none of the vamps were there, and Anna didn’t have a line in the scene, either. But I got to visit with Rutina (Tara), Sam (Sam!), Terry (Todd Lowe), and Arlene (Carrie Preston). It was good to run into Chris Bauer (Andy) when I went outside to get some air, and while I was eating supper at the Farmer’s Market, I ran into the late great Denise Rattray (Karina Logue).

Charlaine Harris

*****

Podcast: Make sure to check out the fan-based  Last Bite podcast for a discussion on the show by Sookie Stackhouse aficionados Maria, Pamela, and Tamara. They also have a lot of news and spoilers!  The podcast is usually ready for download by Monday night.

Q&A: ‘Evermore’ author on immortality, teen angst, her next book June 19, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.
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Alyson Noel is a grownup, but she captures all of the insecurities, angst and heartache of a teen that I wondered how she did it. So I asked her. The first book in her Immortal Series EVERMORE — a No. 1 NYT bestseller– is about teenager Ever, who

Alyson Noel

Alyson Noel

survives a car crash that kills her parents, younger sister AND the family dog. Now she’s not only dealing with survivor guilt but also this new ability to hear thoughts around her. And then she meets Damen, the cute new boy at school.  (Book No. 2 — BLUE MOON — is due out July 7.)

Stay tuned: In two later posts, Alyson shares writing tips, and she’ll talk about her blog and why it’s important for authors to be on the Web!!

Q. What gave you the idea for EVERMORE and the Immortal series?

A. Grief—pure and simple. A few years ago I lost three people I loved in five months, and shortly after that I nearly lost my husband to leukemia (he’s in full remission now!). Experiencing that sort of intense grief and fear got me thinking a lot about life and death, mortality and immortality, the bonds that tie us even after a loved one is gone, and how our youth loving culture sort of seeks physical immortality by trying to remain youthful looking for as long as we can—and yet, what would happen if we really could achieve it? What would it mean for us, our loved ones, society in general?  And since I’ve been interested in all things paranormal since I was a kid, Ever and Damen’s story seemed like the perfect vehicle to explore all of those themes.

Q. On dealing with grief, how has writing the series helped you heal?

A. It’s helped me work through a lot of the same emotions that Ever experiences — grief, loss, loneliness, and the horrible ache of missing a loved one who’s gone. It also provided a nice escape to a world of my making where the consequences and outcomes are in my control!

Q. I know you research like crazy for your novels. Your blog said you were recently at The Getty looking at a piece of artwork Evermore-754459for the third book in the series — SHADOWLAND (expected release January 2010). What types of research did you do for EVERMORE and BLUE MOON?

A. The research I’ve done for this series has been eye opening, mind-blowing, fascinating, and fun!  I took a three-day, psychic development course with world famous medium James Van Praagh that exceeded all my wildest expectations, and I went under hypnosis for a past life regression with best selling author Dr. Brian Weiss, where I saw things I never could’ve imagined! I also read a ton of books on psychics, mediums, ghosts, reincarnation, near death experiences, past lives, chakras, crystals, you name it! And yes, I took a few field trips as well, like the aforementioned trip to The Getty museum where I checked out an exhibit I reference in SHADOWLAND, as well as a really fun trip to the “Shake Shack” in Crystal Cove where I pretty much had no choice but to consume a variety of milk shakes to ensure I got the flavors just right. Oh how I suffer for my art!

Q. Does it surprise you that many of your fans are not teens? Why is that? Do you think the idea of immortality weighs more heavily on the older reader’s mind than the teenage mind? (I can’t imagine that many folks wanting to re-live teenage angst! And teens think they will live forever!)

A. I love that I’m hearing from so many adult readers. There are so many good reads on the YA shelves these days and it’s great that those books are gaining a cross-over audience. And while I certainly didn’t pay much heed to my own immortality until a few years ago, I think the real appeal is adolescence itself. It’s such a pivotal, powerful, defining time — filled with so many changes, so many firsts — and once it’s over there’s no going back except through books! Books allow you to relive the rush of that first kiss, the pain of lost friendships, the exhilaration of first love — the universal experiences we all share. And even though most of us are glad to get through our teen years, we’re shaped by them in more ways than we realized at the time.

Q. You live in O.C. and EVERMORE was sprinkled with great local references, such as the date shakes! Will you continue to keep the local references in the rest of the books? (Maybe there will be an Ever/Damen tour of O.C.?)

A. It’s so much fun to include all of the local landmarks, and it’s definitely something I plan to continue! As far as an Ever/Damen tour goes, well all I can say is I’ll be the first in line at the “Shake Shack”!

blueMoon(2)Q. You’ve got excerpts up from the first three chapters in BLUE MOON. And we know Ever is facing a decision — and wow — you have time travel in this! But anything else you can share about your characters? Ever seems rather annoyed/irritated still with Damen’s past loves. Will she get over this? Are the two really meant to be? Or is there someone else possibly?

A. I really enjoyed writing BLUE MOON because Ever really starts to come into her own and is forced to reach deep within herself to make a heart wrenching decision in order to do what she feels is right on a bigger, more universal, level, and not just what’s right for her. And yeah, she’s definitely more than a little insecure about Damen’s past, but then Damen with the ex-wife and the 600 years of dating under his belt is pretty intimidating to someone as inexperienced as Ever! And while I can’t possibly answer the last part of your question (talk about a spoiler!), I will say that they both will continue to have some very big obstacles to face and whether they make it or not—well—time will tell!

Q. I’ve read the series may now contain 5 novels. How many do you think you’ll write?

A. Well, I now know there will be more than five—how many more, I’m not sure!

Q. If this becomes a movie or TV series, who would you cast in the main roles?

Actor Ben Barnes

Actor Ben Barnes

A. Well, it’s funny because on the one hand I’m such a visual writer—I can see my characters so clearly I often feel like I’m merely transcribing the movie in my head! And yet, on the other hand, because I know them so well, it’s hard for me to cast them with real, live, actors in mind!  Though a few readers have mentioned Ben Barnes for Damen, and I must say, after Googling him I’ve found him to be suitably dreamy!

Visit Alyson online at:

Her Web site
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Myspace

Suggestions? Have an author you want me to interview? Let me know. Just post in comments section.

PREVIOUS INTERVIEWS:

JENNIFER LYON: ‘Blood Magic author talks about her hero and Hugh Jackman’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

SHANA ABE: ‘Author of Dragon series on next book and its renegade lovers’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

LINDA O JOHNSTON: ‘Her Alpha wolves practice safe sex’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

SUSAN SQUIRES: ‘Author of vampire series on strong women, kinky things, time travel’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

‘True Blood’ ratings, Sookie showing more skin, what’s with Eric the vampire’s hair? June 16, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Entertainment.
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The opener for season No. 2 of HBO’s True Blood series sucked in 3.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data. That’s the most since the finale of The Sopranos. Read more about the ratings HERE.

Also — everyone was talking about the hot scenes in the opener, starring Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer. Paquin, who plays Sookie — based on the Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books — says viewers will be seeing a lot more of her — without clothing — this season, and she’s been working out in the gym to get in shape. (I mean was that last love scene HOT or what!!??)

Anna Paquin/HBO

Anna Paquin/HBO

She tells the The National Ledger: “I get more naked this season than I did last season. … We have a really great crew and everyone’s really respectful. It’s not an issue for me.”(To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.)

Alexander Skarsgard/HBO

Alexander Skarsgard/HBO

And what was with that tinfoil in Eric’s hair? I guess even vampires need highlights and some evidently (Bill) recycle. But check out what Alexander Skarsgard told the New York Post’s PopWrap why “There’s more to Eric than being a badass vampire.”

And for all other insights into the HBO series, go to www.sookiestackhouse.com. Each week, the trio of Maria, Tamara and Pamela will podcast their thoughts on the show and offer up some spoilers and other gossip from the show. They also have a ton more interviews with the cast and a lot more vampire entertainment news.

COMING UP: I’ll be interviewing Christine Feehan. Anyone who has read her Carpathian series, Ghost Walkers books , Leopard series or her Drake sister novels knows how cool her stories are — although how does she keep all her series straight? If you’ve got questions for her — lemme know in the comments section below.

Q&A: Vampire author on juggling full-time job with novel writing June 13, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.
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So you wanna write that great paranormal romance but need to hold down a full-time job to pay the rent? And how do you find the time to do the research for your novel? I asked Susan Squires, who has successfully balanced her writing and 9-5 job to create vampire novels that are filled with historical details, strong heroines and great romance, to tell us how she does it. Her TIME FOR ETERNITY is due out in September. CLICK HERE for Part 1 on my interview with her: “Author of vampire series on strong women, kinky things, time travel.”

Susan Squires

Susan Squires

(Up next: Alyson Noel talks about EVERMORE and her next release in the Immortal series: BLUE MOON.)

Q. Your husband is a successful writer, too. (Harry Squires, who writes under the name H.R. Knight) Does he read your work and vice-versa? Do you help each other out? (Is it hard being married to another writer?!)
A. We absolutely help each other. As I write, I’m turning in TWIST OF TIME  (about a real, live Viking who lands in modern day San Francisco)  and his comments have been invaluable in making it the best book it can be. He’s really talented, and I respect his opinion. I help him with his projects too. Now, it hasn’t always been easy to take comments from each other. We’ve grown into it. And we have rules (first say something nice! Don’t give suggestions that are outside the direction of the story, etc.) We spent many years in the same critique group, which honed our thicker skins. It’s great to live with someone who understands being on deadline, helps with plot over dinner at the local sushi bar when you’re stuck, etc.

Q. How do you juggle your full-time job with writing?
A. I work for a Fortune 500 health and life insurance company, and believe me, it isn’t always easy doing both. I often do weeks of 50-55 hours or even more. I’m the queen of scheduling. I know exactly when I can write during a week, and I plunk my butt in a chair when that time arrives. There’s no time to waste. In some ways that’s a blessing. Also, if the writing isn’t going well, sometimes the day-job is, and vice-versa. However, when I’m having trouble on both fronts, look out!

Q. Your novels are chock full of history and European cities. How much time do you devote to this research? And how do you do it? (Books/academic experts/travel?)
A. I would love to say I’d been everywhere I’ve set a book. I have been lucky enough to travel many times to England over time. companionI’ve been to Italy. But I’ve never been to France or to North Africa. In that case, pictures, travel books, good maps, on-line research tools, and books that tell about everyday life in the time and place I’m writing about are crucial. I’m the one scouring Amazon and B&N for books about what life was like during the French Revolution. That’s much more important than the dry facts of political factions, etc. I read outlines of those too — just to provide anchor points, but you end up making very few references to those, and many more to what people were wearing or eating or how they were making a living. For THE COMPANION, I read Patrick O’Brian’s MASTER AND COMMANDER series, because HIS research was so good on ships, warfare and the Navy in the Regency. He really gave you a flavor of life. That’s what you look for. In my current book, I needed to know about sailing. So I read SAILING FOR DUMMIES, and the guy across the street took me out in his boat and let me sail it. Voila.

Q. How do you craft your love scenes? Are they difficult to write or the easiest part of the manuscript?
A. I find them pretty easy, as long as I let them grow from character. Like any other scene, a character comes into a love scene with “baggage”– things they feel, about themselves and their partner, beliefs and needs, fears and insecurities maybe. I think what makes a good love scene is not only the body parts and what they do, but what the experience means for the character at the time.

Q. Do you write everyday? At a certain time of day? (Do you have an outline or just write top down?)
A. I write whenever my schedule allows — almost never every day. In any given week, I look ahead and say — I’m going to write Monday night, Thursday night, and Saturday afternoon. And then I do.  I can write a sex scene in the middle seat of an airplane, because I have to. My laptop is my space, and I open it up, play three games of La Belle Lucie solitaire, and then ask myself, “so where was I?” “What am I trying to do in the next scene?” That’s about the extent of the ritual. I admit I’m better in the mornings than at night. I have to write off a brief synopsis, because my contract requires me to submit one to get paid (they know me! –I hate synopses). Usually it’s about three pages single spaced. I admit that now that I’ve learned to write that way, it saves me time, and getting quite so tangled up in directions.

Q. Deadlines? Usually hit ’em or miss ’em?
A. Almost always hit them. (Sometimes I ask for an extra weekend like on the one that was due on May 1). The only deadline I missed — by a month — was the time I had broken ribs from falling off my horse. I spent two months on some pretty strong drugs, which is not conducive to writing. The hard part was that I was in the middle of a three book contract, and all my deadlines were pre-set. So I had to catch up on the next book.

Q. Any advice to newbie writers with a manuscript …. how to get noticed?
A. This is the sixty-four thousand dollar question. I’m going to assume that an author handles language well, understands the timeforeternityrhythm of a story. Then I think the author constantly has to ask herself, how can I make this MORE of whatever kind of book it is… funnier, scarier, more emotional, etc. How can I make it worse for my characters? How can they be placed in situations where they must do things they’d never normally do? How can my dialogue sound more like people talk (or talked in some historical period)? How can my scenes feel like the reader is really there? One great way to get deeper into the book is to ask “why would the character do this?” and make sure you have great answers. The process of answering those questions and getting the answers into your manuscript is what makes a book you can’t refuse. I see a lot of contest entries where the author sort of skims over the surface of a scene, without really letting you know how it would feel to be in that situation (and of course I mean showing, not saying “this was really scary” or “the heroine was really embarrassed.”) I know this sounds a little vague, but the answers actually SHOULD vary from book to book (or they wouldn’t stand out!). Just keep asking those questions.

Q. Any other advice?
A. I know it’s a cliche. But you have to keep at it. Don’t rework that first book for the ninth time. Move on and write another one. That’s when you know you’re an author. That’s when you progress in skill. Know that hardly anyone sells your first book until you’ve sold another book, and they ask you what else you’ve got because they like your work so much. That’ what happened to me. SACRAMENT was only published because DANEGELD and BODY ELECTRIC got bought and they wondered what I had in my trunk. I reworked it, and it was a much different book after I had developed my craft writing two others.  Good luck!

Suggestions? Have an author you want me to interview? Let me know. Just post in comments section.

PREVIOUS INTERVIEWS:

JENNIFER LYON: ‘Blood Magic author talks about her hero and Hugh Jackman’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

SHANA ABE: ‘Author of Dragon series on next book and its renegade lovers’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

LINDA O JOHNSTON: ‘Her Alpha wolves practice safe sex’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

SUSAN SQUIRES: ‘Author of vampire series on strong women, kinky things, time travel’ and CLICK HERE for her writing tips.

Vampire author who inspired HBO’s ‘True Blood’ may appear in season 2 finale June 4, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Entertainment.
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HBO’s Alan Ball told the New York Daily News that Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels that the TV series is based on, is expected to make a guest appearance in the season finale.

Sookie with vampire Bill. (Photo: Courtesy of HBO)

Sookie with vampire Bill. (Photo: Courtesy of HBO)

Last month, Harris released her ninth Sookie book: DEAD AND GONE.

Season two of “True Blood,” which starts June 14, is expected to move further away from the novels. Even in season one, Ball added his own spin and even characters who were not in the books.

Ball told the Daily News that he doesn’t talk much with Harris about the direction of the show, but they are in touch.

“She actually is going to come out and do a cameo probably in the last episode of the season,” said Ball. “But I do think it’s best to just respect that boundary. Maybe I’m just being chicken because I don’t want to hear that she hates this or she hates that.”

CLICK HERE to read the whole article

What’s your favorite paranormal book video trailer? June 2, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.
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Most authors are  putting book trailers on YouTube. This one — from Christine Feehan — is tame compared to others I’ve viewed. Got a fave paranormal book trailer? Let me know! But Feehan got me hooked on paranormal romance with her DARK SERIES, those Carpathians who fight vampires and look for their soulmates. She also has an enchanting series on seven sisters — each has a special magical power, and they have one very cool house that won’t let guys through the gates unless they’re the right ones!  We finally get to hear the tale of the last sister, Elle.  She is the youngest of the seven sisters and according to family lore is destined/fated to bear seven children so the line will continue on. Her story  HIDDEN CURRENTS is available June 30. Check out the video below and other links.

The Drake Sister series

Which Drake Sister are you? Take the quiz HERE.

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