Wednesday, August 29, 2012

EMBRACE THE DARK and "Remember the Romantic Journey" by Caris Roane

This week's spotlight is on Caris Roane, author of EMBRACE THE DARK, ASCENSION, and a whole slew of other awesome books.  Here's her bio:

Caris Roane has published over fifty Regency romance novels and novellas under the pen name, Valerie King.  In 2005, Romantic Times gave her a Career Achievement award in Regency Romance.  Having had a long-time love affair with vampires, Caris tackled the paranormal genre and built a unique vampire world based on ascending dimensional earths.  Her series is called Guardians of Ascension. 
Her most recent self-published project, The Blood Rose Novella Series, launched in May of 2012 with the first title:  Embrace the Dark.  The second novella, Embrace the Magic, will release in the summer of 2012. Caris lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her two cats, Sebastien and Gizzy.


Enter a world of blood-starved mastyr vampires and the rare women who can satisfy their deepest needs…

How can he resist his blood rose…
Gerrod, mastyr vampire of the Merhaine Realm, never thought to have his blood-needs satisfied by a mere human. But Abigail is no ordinary woman. She stuns him with her telepathy as well as the richness of her blood. However, her human DNA makes her an unacceptable mate. Yet how can Gerrod turn her away when she alone has satisfied his blood-starvation for the first time in a hundred-and-fifty-years?

Will she fall to temptation and give herself to a vampire…
When the dreaded enemy of all realm-folk, the Invictus, attacks at a fae wedding, Abigail’s simple human life gets turned upside down. She doesn’t know if she has the courage to pursue a path that means giving herself body and soul to a mastyr vampire. Will she return to her normal existence in Flagstaff, Arizona? Or will she embrace the dark…

Embrace the Dark is the first in The Blood Rose Series.

In lieu of an interview, Caris wrote a beautiful piece entitled, "Remember the Romantic Journey." It fits nicely with my last post, so I thought this week would be a good time to feature it.

Remember the Romantic Journey, by Caris Roane

             I was knee deep in my latest novella, EMBRACE THE DARK, working the elements of the story so hard, that I lost sight of the ultimate goal.  Yes, I was hammering away at developing my characters, and theme, and adding brushstrokes to setting, all good things.  But when I pulled back from this work, I had the startling realization that somehow in my writing efforts I’d forgotten the heart of the matter:  the romantic journey.

I still laugh when I think about this because it’s one of those ‘duh’ moments.  What good is it, for instance, to get every sentence right, to have every paragraph polished to a shine, to have interesting characters who might even have a fascinating goal to accomplish, but to have forgotten that, oh, yeah, these great people are actually supposed to be falling in love?

Writing is real nose-to-the grindstone work, but sometimes the nose just gets too close and stays too close and the real purpose of the work can get lost.

Now I try to take a moment, no matter what project I’m working on, and remember that I was originally inspired by the romantic journey, by all the excitement of falling in love.

Once I remembered the real goal, I made sure that the hero and heroine of EMBRACE THE DARK, my most beloved Gerrod and Abigail, even after all the conflicts were resolved, took some time to savor the love that had come to them, that had found them in a miraculous way. 

Take pleasure in your writing.

And always remember the romantic journey.


To find out more about Caris, you can vist the following places:
To snag your own copy of EMBRACE THE DARK, click the button below:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Being a Writer and Trying to "Have it All"

I've been thinking a lot lately about being a librarian and being a writer, work/life balance, and "having it all." Oh, and let's not forget family. And kids.

So when is it safe to say "I have it all"? And when does "having it all" become too much? 

Apparently I'm not alone in these questions, as this great article from Mark Morford points out. He says, "You cannot really work like a maniac and build a lauded career without sacrificing some level of health and family (and sanity)." Which means, working like crazy doesn't equate to "having it all." A lot gets lost in the process.

I'm very lucky that I have a good job and a loving husband who supports my endeavors.This allows me to revise my novels, send out queries, and do the whole writer thing, which I love.

But even though we're not in a place where we want children yet, there will be a point where we'll have to face that decision. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a hard time being a librarian, a writer, and a mother all rolled into one. 

So I've come to terms with the fact that I'll probably have to give up something eventually. But knowing the downfall of working myself to death, I feel a bit more prepared to cross that bridge when I come to it.

Because let's face it--there's only so much that can get done in a day, and in a lifetime--and we cannot lose sight of what's really important. As Morford says, "[Having it all] means being in true alignment. It means being so deeply present, so connected, so alive, so pulsing and breathing and awake in the moment you are in that no matter what your job status, kid status, celebrity status, no matter where you live or to whom you are married, life is already full to bursting."

So by this definition, even though you may not be published yet, or even if your books are published but not yet selling, or even if you're a successful author who feels completely burned out--you can still have it all--if you enjoy the journey, accept accomplishments as they come, and appreciate where your life is now.

Don't get lost in the prospects of "having it all." Instead, take satisfaction in the fact that you are pursuing what you want--and in that, you already have everything you need.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ONLY FEAR and AVENGING ANGEL by Anne Marie Becker

This week's author is Anne Marie Becker, who is not only a great writer, but a wonderful person. She writes in a great genre--romantic suspense. Her debut novel, ONLY FEAR, won the RWA Golden Heart, and her book AVENGING ANGEL was released a few weeks ago.

After a violent incident with a patient leaves scars on both her mind and body, psychiatrist Dr. Maggie Levine craves isolation. A radio talk show host seems to be the perfect profession, a job where she can help people from a distance while staying safe. When a strange caller begins stalking her on the air and murdering people to get her attention, Maggie realizes she can no longer close herself off from the outside world.
A personal security expert, former Secret Service Agent Ethan Townsend is no stranger to tracking down the most violent monsters of society and bringing them to justice. Still, it will take all of Ethan's skills to protect his new assignment, the irresistible Maggie, from a man intent on teaching her the ultimate lesson in fear….

Grains of sand glistened in the moonlight, bright against the backdrop of her wet hair. Her blue lips were parted slightly, as if she could take in that last breath she'd been gasping for. She was, in a word, perfection.

When his friend's niece is murdered, Detective Noah Crandall vows to track down the killer. Since the victim worked in an art gallery with the well-connected and well-heeled Vanessa Knight, Noah questions her first. Despite the chemistry between them, Noah tells himself a relationship would be impossible. He's a loner and their backgrounds are worlds apart.

Drawn to Noah and horrified by the death of her intern, Vanessa shares her insights into the New York City art world. As they work together on the case, she's tempted to explore the possibility of a real relationship with the sexy outsider who ignites her desire. But what Vanessa doesn't realize is that in order to complete his gruesome series of paintings, the killer has targeted her to become his next victim.

Here are some of Anne's answers to my questions:

You finished quite a few novels before getting published. How did this help your writing grow, and can you tell us more about your journey toward publication?

            Someone once said you have to write half a million words before you know your voice and have a grasp of the craft of writing. That was certainly true for me. It was my fifth manuscript that sold. It’s been a long, slow journey since I started writing in 2000, but it’s been the right journey for me. In fact, it wasn’t until 2005 that I really got serious about writing and made it a priority despite having two kids under the age of two at the time. That was also about the time I joined Romance Writers of America® and found a local chapter. The support and information there has been invaluable in growing my writing career.

Writers' organizations are so key, not just for the support you mentioned, but also in helping people grow as writers. I'm very glad I joined our chapter!
ONLY FEAR won the RWA Golden Heart for Best Romantic Suspense. Congratulations! What inspired the story and what do you want readers to take away when they're finished reading it?

            Thank you! When I started Only Fear, I knew it was more “high concept” than my previous manuscripts, and I had a good feeling about the story. It’s the first in a series –The Mindhunters – and the common factor is SSAM. SSAM (The Society for the Study of the Aberrant Mind) is an agency that employs various experts who hunt criminals and bring them to justice. The acronym also reflects the founder – Damian Manchester – whose daughter Sam was a victim of a serial killer. Having a fictional private agency gives me a lot of leeway in how they pursue criminals, as well as a broader scope of expertise to draw from when I create my strong, intelligent heroes and heroines.
            SSAM was inspired by a documentary I happened to catch on TV one afternoon about theVidocq Society. This group of over a hundred professionals, all experts in various fields of criminology, comes together once a month to discuss cases over lunch. The idea enthralled me (I’d love to be a fly on that wall!). So, I invented my own society for aiding law enforcement in hunting criminals and solving the particularly tough cases. As I researched serial killers, I came across JohnDouglas’ books. He was integral to the early years of the Behavioral Sciences Unit (which is now the Behavioral Analysis Unit) for the FBI.
            And I should mention that I write romantic suspense, so in addition to the danger and suspense element, my stories always have a happy ending. My themes tend to revolve around love conquering all, and how hope is powerful, strong enough to overcome fear.

Great premise--and I love the parallels between the organization and what happened to the founder's daughter!
In addition to writing full time, you are the current president of NARWA (Northern Arizona Romance Writers of America). How has this helped your writing career and what do you recommend to writers who want to get more involved in writers' associations?

            I became president of NARWA in 2009, and my reign ends late this year. I’ve also served in my online chapter (Kiss of Death – which focuses on romantic suspense) as a judge coordinator for their annual contest. Looking back, my career has grown by leaps and bounds since volunteering my time to these organizations.
I absolutely encourage writers to join a well-respected organization. The support and knowledge I’ve gained through Romance Writers of America and its chapters have been invaluable.

I'd have to agree! AVENGING ANGEL, the next book in the "Mindhunters" series, was released this July 30.  What can readers expect from this newest installment? 

            AVENGING ANGEL follows a secondary character from ONLY FEAR, Detective Noah Crandall. SSAM is, of course, involved in tracking the killer.

I love that you're able to expand on characters you introduced in the first book. What are some other current projects that you're working on? Will there be more books in the "Mindhunters" series?

            Yes, I definitely plan to write more Mindhunters books. There are so many employees at SSAM who deserve their happy endings, and I hope to bring closure to Damian Manchester at the end. He’s the man who founded SSAM after his daughter was the victim of a serial killer, a killer who was never brought to justice. I’m finishing book three, currently titled DEADLY BONDS.
            I’m also developing a different series and hope to complete the first book early in the new year.
            I’ve always got ideas popping up, usually at the most inconvenient times when I’m on deadline for a different project. I’d like to write a screenplay someday, and I’ve got 30,000 words of a contemporary romance (no suspense) that’s part of a four-book series. I certainly have a lot of ideas and not enough time, but that’s part of the fun of being a writer —I’m never bored.

Thanks, Anne! To get your own copies of ONLY FEAR and AVENGING ANGEL, be sure to click the buttons below:


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

TUCKER'S CROSSING, by Marina Adair

I connected with Marina through someone at the Desert Dreams Conference back in April. Not only is she busy promoting TUCKER'S CROSSING, which debuted August 1, she also has two more books slated for publication later this year. I was also delighted to learn that Marina used to live in my (very small) hometown, and will be basing one of her novels there!

From Goodreads:

Sweet Plains, Texas, wasn’t so sweet to Cody, Noah, and Beau Tucker. But now the Tucker boys are men, ready to take on the questions that have haunted them since they left home…

Cody Tucker shook the dust of his two-bit hometown off his boots ten years ago—right about the time his college sweetheart, Shelby Lynn Harris, married his so-called best friend. But when his dad dies, Cody finds himself home again and knee deep in the past. Except now his rowdy beer buddy is the sheriff, his housekeeper is a blue-ribbon chili chef, and the family ranch is in the red. The only thing that hasn’t changed is Shelby Lynn…

Shelby Lynn has gone through a lot of heartache thanks to Cody. But that’s all over now. She just wants a chance to live the life she’s made for herself in peace. The trouble is, the Sweet Plains chili cook off is heating up, the Ladies of Sweet are as riled as hornets, and as soon as Cody gets near, she’s forgets all about peace. Cody is pure temptation—and she knows just how good it feels to give in…

 Here are some questions I asked Marina:

Your website bio says that the New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) first drew you to romance writing. What other facets led to your interest in romance, and can you tell us more about your journey toward becoming a writer?

Oh, New Kids on the Block . . . *dreamy sigh*

My teen-self was convinced that she would meet Jordan Knight after a concert, they would fall madly in love, marry immediately, honeymoon on his tour bus, and their true-love would Hang Tough throughout the ages.

Regretfully, I met Jordan Knight and he was not my Prince Charming, but that crush led to two years of swapping binder-paper-length stories back and forth with my high school friends during algebra class. (I have been told—okay threatened— that those notes still exist.)  

It wasn’t until New Kids became a “Where are they now” story on Biography Channel, and my daughter started kindergarten, that I actually got serious about writing. I began in LA, writing screenplays on spec—because everyone there has Oscar-worthy pages in their back pocket—and I got a lucky break that, three years of my life and a Costco sized flat of Kleenex later, lead to the producers deciding to take my screenplay in different direction. Different meaning: we love your concept, we love you, but we love the concept better without you.

It took me two years to get the courage to write again. When I did I wrote a novel, something I had never considered because I’m dyslexic and, for me, writing is a difficult process. But a brilliant screenwriter and mentor, Barnaby Dallas, reminded me, “The only thing you have to do to become a writer is write.”

So I did.

Five years ago I wrote my first novel, a paranormal YA. It was difficult, problematic, a complete disaster, and slow going—it took me three years to finish—and it was also one of my proudest moments as a writer because I finished it—all eleven drafts. Since then I have completed six more novels, the first three never sold but the last four did . . . all within five month of each other.

The secret Barnaby was trying to share? Sit you butt in the chair and write. So that’s what I do now, every day.

I remember NKOTB! I dialed their hotline (remember hotlines?) on a dare back in the fourth grade! Awesome writing advice, too! 
SPEAK NOW placed third in the GOTCHA contest before being published. Congratulations! What makes the story unique, and what do you want readers to take away when they’re finished with it?

SPEAK NOW was a unique project because, although it is the third novel I wrote, it was my first in so many other ways: my first romance novel (my other two were YA), the first book I pitched to an editor, and, most importantly, it was the first time in my writing that I found little bits of ME. I stopped trying to be the next __________ fill in the blank with your favorite bestselling author, and wrote people and situations and families that resonated within me. I never took my eye off the market, what was selling, what elements belonged in each subgenre of romance, but I quit trying to be someone else and allowed myself to be heard.

SPEAK NOW never sold, but it did snag me my dream agent Jill Marsal and created the foundation for who I was to become as a writer.

Definitely goes to show that being true to yourself is necessary in writing! KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE is the first in your St. Helena Vineyard series—I grew up in St. Helena! Did you visit the area, and how did you draw inspiration for the story?

Go Saints! (Woo hoo!)

I actually lived in St. Helena for a few years when I was a newlywed. Our house was on 12 acres, surrounded by cabernet grapes, perched in the hills overlooking the Napa Valley. By far, one of the most romantic places that I have ever lived, so I was excited to spend time there again, even if it was in fiction-land.

I was drawn to place a story in St. Helena because I love the collision of old world traditions with the virgin vintners (mainly dot comers and Hollywood expats when I lived there). It is a small town that values community pride, Friday night football games, and deep roots—yes, pun intended. Yet there is an underlying social hierarchy that separates the workers from the owners, the owners from the rich, and the rich from the elite. Add in miles of vines, five-star eateries, a high school that looks like a castle, and a lamppost lined downtown—it’s the ideal backdrop for a small town romance with the perfect blend of elegance, sizzle, and drama.

I can't wait to read it! I still get homesick for St. Helena quite a bit. You have at least one or two books slated for publication later this year—how do you juggle promotion for books that are released at similar times, and can you tell us more about other projects you’re currently working on?

One word: organization.

At the beginning of 2012 I was an aspiring author looking for a publishing house to call my own. Mid-January I sold my first novel, TUCKER’S CROSSING, to Kensington Books. In April the ST. HELENA VINEYARD SERIES sold to Montlake Romance, and in May Grand Central picked up THE SUGAR SERIES. I went from zero sold to 7 books at three different houses in 5 months.  

Immediately following, I had a what-if attack. How was I going to write multiple series at the same time? And what if they suck? Worse, what if they are successful and I have to write more and can’t? What if, just like Jordan Knight, my hero turns out to have stage fright, he marries the wrong woman, and my HEA ends up on pieces of binder-paper in a shoebox stowed in my friend’s attic?

The what-if’s were paralyzing, so I did what any professional would do: I cried. To my husband, my friends, my cats, the guy who takes the bus with me and smells like Gouda and Apple Jacks . . . anyone who would listen. Then I wiped off the snot, pulled on the big girl panties and called my agent. Agents rock! We made a schedule, color coded with clear goals and deadlines for each project, and all the what-if’s disappeared. Because I learned there is no time for what-if’s when you sit your butt in the chair and write!

And next month, on August 16th, my first novel finally releases. TUCKER’S CROSSING takes place in Sweet Plains, Texas, where the only thing bigger than the hair, attitudes, and sexy cowboys is the most competitive chili cook off this side of the Mississippi. But at its heart TUCKER’S CROSSING is about family, forgiveness and two lovers who have to heal their past if they stand a chance at a future together.

My second novel, the first in the ST. HELENA VINEYARD SERIES, KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE releases October 16, 2012. This was a fun one to write because what’s more entertaining than two sworn enemies who can’t keep their hands off of each other. Especially when one is a single-mom looking for a fresh start and the other is a smooth talking vintner who is determined to run her out of his town . . . or into his bed. Being a man, he can’t seem to make up his mind.

Right now I am working on the second book in the ST. HELENA VINEYARD SERIES, A SUMMER IN THE VINEYARDS, where my hero and heroine are not only fighting the need to get naked every time they see each other, they are also fighting against their past—Alexis’s cheat of an ex-husband just so happens to be Marc DeLuca’s childhood best friend. So finding a good reason that will allow Marc to break man-law and fall for his best-bro’s ex has been entertaining.

Great advice! Organization is definitely key, and something I'm still trying to hone in juggling the writing irons I currently have in the fire. 
Finally--if you were stuck on a desert island and could only bring five books, what would they be? 

Jane Eyre

The complete works of Jane Austin.

The complete works of Julie Garwood (Yes, she is on that level of brilliance and deserves her own collection . . . it isn’t my fault that they haven’t made one yet.)

Christmas in Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis (2 sizzling books in one . . . is that cheating?)

The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot (Yeah, I know, 6 books, totally cheating but we are also talking a deserted island and you let me have the Julie Garwood thing.)

Falling for Mr. Dark and Dangerous by Donna Alward because after I read this book I looked at my husband and said, “I want to write books that make other people feel exactly what I’m feeling right now.” The next day I started SPEAK NOW.

 Thanks Marina, for a fantastic interview! Readers, keep on the lookout for KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE, and click the button below to purchase a copy of TUCKER'S CROSSING!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

DEFIANCE, by C.J. Redwine

This week's feature is DEFIANCE, by C.J. Redwine, which will debut August 28. It's a YA fantasy with a kick-ass heroine, and I totally love the premise:

From Goodreads:

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Here's the trailer:

And finally, here are some of C.J.'s answers to some of my questions:

It says on your website that you are repped by Holly Root of the Waxman Agency. How did you originally connect with Holly and can you tell us more about your journey toward becoming a writer?

I connected with Holly when I was discussing my manuscript at the time on a loop of writer friends. Several agents had requested the full, and one of my friends said it sounded like something her agent would love. So, I queried her agent, Holly, and the rest is history. :) As for my journey toward becoming a writer, I've been writing stories since I realized in the second grade that it was someone's job to make stuff up. When I was thirty, I was diagnosed with cancer, and after winning that fight, I realized that waiting around for my life to slow down enough to make it the perfect time to chase my dreams was foolish. I finished my first novel that year and never looked back.

You have my utmost admiration for what you've survived, and I greatly admire your strength! DEFIANCE has an excellent premise. Where did the idea for the story come from and what do you want readers to take away after they’re done reading it?

I don't really know where my ideas come from. But I'd like readers to see what it looks like to be broken and then to do what it takes to heal and find hope again. Also, I'd like readers to be on the edge of their seats wondering if Rachel and Logan are going to make it out alive. :)

That's such a wonderful theme--and definitely one that many people can relate to!
It says on your website that you’ll be able to quit your day job once you receive your advance. Congratulations! For the benefit of those of us with day jobs—is it difficult to transition away? What do you recommend for those who might be taking the same steps you are?

I really enjoyed quitting my job! :) I set up a schedule of office hours that work for my family (and this includes taking a couple of days a week to write at my local bookstore), and I just make sure that I remain motivated to get my work done. Also, I absolutely refuse to look at housework during my office hours. It's easy to get distracted by things when you work from home!

Office hours are a great concept, and a good way to stay focused! DEFIANCE is the first book in a trilogy. What, if anything, do you want readers to know about the subsequent books in the series?

Hmm ... the action is relentless, the stakes keep rising, and ... that's about all I'm able to reveal right now. :)

Sounds promising! If you could take five books to a desert island with you, what would they be?

ONLY FIVE??? *thinks* Okay, I'm going to take my boxed set of Harry Potter books (since they're boxed, they totally count as one item) because I like to reread those every year or so. For my other four books, I'll take some recent faves: Timepiece by Myra McEntire, Incarnate by Jodi Meadows, Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, and Everneath by Brodi Ashton.

To pre-order DEFIANCE, click on the button below:

So this will be my last post until sometime next week--I'll be getting my tonsils out today. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Being a Writer: Validation, Well-Being, Patience and Hope

Last week, I had enormously wonderful and profound experience at the Glen Workshop West, which not only uplifted and rejuvenated me in a variety of needed ways, but also allowed some insight into things I need to be thinking about as I move forward with my writing.

Here are some nuggets of wisdom I gleaned:

1. Validation Comes From Within
Along with all the great feedback I got from my fellow workshoppers, one theme kept coming up among all of the responses: to own my abilities as a writer and to realize my potential. Case in point: The main reason I wrote my second book was in the event the first one didn't sell. And while it's good to be prepared for contingencies, I shouldn't necessarily doom the first book to the trunk (or doom any other venture I pursue). But this belief has to come from within--you can't expect others to sing your praises. You must be able to sing them on your own.

This sort of validation is not only handy for aspiring writers, but can also be useful for those of you on the other side of the publishing coin.

2. Equip Your Mental Well-Being 
You know all those little mental demons we fight in our day to day lives? Here's what I found out: they will be ten times magnified during the process of bringing a book to publication. So do what you can to get in the best possible mental place in the meantime--therapy, yoga, faith, community--whatever works best for you. Because not only does your skill level have to be ready--your mind has to be also.

3. Patience is More than a Virtue
I know that many of you are in a place where you just want to get published, already. I totally get that. But there is definitely something to be said for things that come in their own time--when they're meant to happen. And you may be surprised that if you wait, that the place you're at when you do get published is a much better one than if you'd rushed yourself into it.

4. Never Lose Hope
The movie The Shawshank Redemption explores a lot of great themes. I've always used the analogy about "becoming institutionalized" when I refer to working in libraries. While I've worked with a lot of great librarians, I've also encountered a few who depend on the library for their very existence and well-being (and think everyone else should too). I've vowed never to become one of those people--and I finally figured out how: to never lose hope, especially when it comes to my writing. I think the below clip from Shawshank demonstrates this perfectly (particularly the last part, which nicely sums up the feeling I had when leaving the Glen):

And, finally, I'll leave you with a Bible passage that helped me weave everything together:

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:24-25

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

GILT, by Katherine Longshore

This week's feature is GILT, by Katherine Longshore. As a long time lover of English history (especially the King's court), I was immediately drawn into the book's premise.
From Goodreads:

In the court of King Henry VIII, nothing is free—
and love comes at the highest price of all.

When Kitty Tylney’s best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII’s heart and brings Kitty to court, she’s thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat’s shadow, Kitty’s now caught between two men—the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat’s meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

Here are some questions I asked Katherine:

According to your website bio, you've traveled quite extensively! How has this influenced your writing and can you tell us more about how writing has enabled you to explore new worlds?

What a great question! In the most obvious of answers, travel has influenced my writing by providing tangible, immediate research for the settings of my novels. I think, however, that the traveling I did when I was younger has provided even better research. Exploring the world brings you into contact not only with extraordinary places but with an incredible variety of people. The characters I create in my fiction are conglomerates of characters I've encountered throughout my life – physical, personality and vocal types – that I mix with a healthy dose of imagination.  I originally wanted to be a travel writer – to stay on my feet for decades – but now that I’ve settled down a little, I love to be able to continue to explore through my writing.  The Tudor court is just like a foreign country – exotic, mysterious, difficult to navigate.  I love being able to visit every day, but am equally happy to be able to come home to my indoor plumbing and chocolate peanut butter cups when I’m done.

What a great way to describe the English court (and those peanut butter cups don't sound bad either!). As a fellow English history buff, I was immediately enthralled by the premise of GILT. Where did the inspiration for the story come from, and what do you want readers to take away when they're finished reading?

The inspiration for GILT came from the history itself. I'd been reading about English royalty for years. When I told my husband that I would like to start writing for young people, he reminded me of the old saying “write what you know”, so I did.  But I wanted the past to be relatable and recognizable to modern readers, so I wrote in a more modern voice and about characters who could be just as visible in modern high schools. I'm a firm believer that people were people no matter when or where they existed, and that 16th century teenagers and their relationships to each other wouldn't be all that different from teenagers today. Friends are important, and so is fun, and there's nothing like first love. The Tudor court just intensifies the consequences.

I've not only heard, "write what you know," but also "write what you love." It sounds like you've done both! I see that you were a part of the Stages on Pages tour in Northern California (I grew up near there). How was the tour, and can you tell us more about Stages on Pages?

The Stages on Pages tour ( was conceived and designed by Stasia Ward Kehoe, author of AUDITION. It's a collective of authors of books for young adults who have their roots firmly embedded in performing arts. There are musicians and actors, singers and dancers, and they live and write all over the country. The tours include a handful of authors, often from the area they're touring, and they discuss how the arts affect their writing. I studied acting and costume design, and I believe that both enable me to write characters more deeply and setting more richly. The northern California tour featured Ms. Kehoe, Gretchen McNeil (author of POSSESS), Elise Allen (author of POPULAZZI) and Kim Culbertson (author of INSTRUCTIONS FOR A BROKEN HEART).  Not only is it always a treat to spend time with other writers, but the tour was a great learning experience for me and (hopefully!) made me a better speaker. The next tour will be in the Midwest in the fall, probably November, and participating authors will be announced on the website soon.

What a fantastic idea--and a great experience. I love your website design--how did you come up with it and how is it maintained? Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers who want to build an online platform?

Thank you! I don't have to be modest about it, because I didn't build it, so I can say that I love it, too. It was designed by Maddee James of, and she maintains it for me, thank goodness. We worked together on the concept and images, the texture of the site, and I think she captured the “feel” of GILT – and my writing – very well.

I think any online platform has to reflect the writer. I'm not a fan of the word “brand” applied to people, but it's effective in this case. You don't want something dark and haunting if you write bubbly picture books, just like I couldn't incorporate pastels and cartoons for GILT. It's the same thing with the rest of your online visibility. Your Facebook, Twitter, blog–all need to reflect who you are as a writer. They can be personal to a certain extent, because people really want to know who you are if they've searched you out. But I think it’s equally important to be personable. Ultimately, you’re in a social situation, even when you’re at your computer in your pajamas at 3 am. Be polite, be funny, be responsive, and have fun with it. But don’t let it take over – the novel (or picture book or magazine article or whatever) comes first.   

I completely agree--a memorable brand can really go a long way, but ultimately, it's important to maintain those personal connections. What are some current projects you're working on? Will GILT have a sequel?

GILT does not have a sequel, but it is the first in a three-book series set in the court of Henry VIII. Book 2 begins before Catherine Howard was born, so she won’t have a role to play in it, and neither will Kitty. Book 3 is set somewhere in the middle. All three books feature a different character–a teenage girl–but some familiar characters will show up in every story (like Henry). I'm currently revising Book 2 and drafting Book 3, and having so much fun with them. They are very different stories and show very different facets of Henry and his court, but with all of them I try to write a story that reflects attitudes and situations recognizable and important to teens today.

Thanks, Katherine! To purchase GILT for yourself, click on the button below: