Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How can I count the ways?

How many times can I say am sorry, I have been a really horrific blogger; some of you know why and some of you dont. I have not been around your blogs as much as I'd like to and somehow you amazing people still put up with me.

Last year in my blogging heydays the lovely Carolyn Abiad was nice enough to have me as a guest on her blog and the post goes live today. She is having us international folk talk about how our host - land affects our writing, hop on over to read about how Corsica did not disappoint my writerly expectations.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interrogation Room with Sondrae Bennett

Sondrae and I have had this in the bag for a while now, ever since I found her blog (I cant even remember how we met) I knew I wanted her in the interrogation room, she is kinda like that beautiful pearl you want to show off to the world or in this case on my most wanted list. She came in without a fight so i decided to go easy on her. I give you Sondrae Bennett

Joanna: Okay you strike me as the shy or withdrawn type so lets start off with a nice secret from you

Sondrae: A secret... Hmmm. I guess I'd go with the fact that I am a total geek. I love Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica, and World of Warcraft. In fact, I love Star Wars so much that when I was in middle school, I had a picture of Mark Hamill in my room right next to my bed. ... I can't believe I just admitted that. 
(you framed it? I dont blame you) 

Joanna: You have two books coming out this year how surreal does that feel right now?

Sondrae: Very surreal! Every now and then when I'm thinking about my book 'Arctic Winds' that came out January 17th, I break out in giggles.  

Joanna:    What made you choose Lyrical Press as the right home for your babies? 
Sondrae: I researched a lot of different publishing houses before finally submitting to Lyrical. It wasn't the first place I subbed to but I'm actually quite grateful the first one turned me down. Lyrical has been great to work with. I adore the cover they've created for the book, love my editor, and generally feel they've done a fantastic job.  

Joanna: Since you write paranormal romance(and i love my paras), I am kinda intrigued what do you do for book research?  

Sondrae: The most important research I do is about the animals my characters shift into, especially some of the more unique ones. Samantha, my heroine in 'Arctic Winds', is an arctic fox so I had to know what they ate, how they differed from other foxes and stuff like that. Gwen, the heroine in my second book 'Chasing Paradise', is an otter shifter. There's one scene in particular when Gwen is hunting for fish. I had to research how she would hunt and also what kind of fish she would catch based on where she was. And of course there's the small details that come up while I'm writing that I have to research for accuracy. What the house would look like where they live, weather and those kinds of things. 

Joanna:  Cookies, wine, books or chocolate? 

Sondrae: Ooo, I can't have all four? I guess if I had to order them it would be books then wine. Chocolate and cookies are fighting for third....not sure who would win. I guess it depends on what kind of cookies. 
(if u or KarenG baked them they might be #1 on my list)

Joanna:   How and where do you get inspiration for your stories?  

Sondrae: Everywhere. I'll be walking down the street on my way to work and I'll see something or hear something and BOOM a story idea will pop into my head. Usually I write down a few details and then put it aside to let it simmer so I can come back to it later.  

I'm still staring at your pretty picture so i guess you can tell us about your amazing new baby

Nothing will stop a wolf once he's found his mate....
After her skulk abandoned her four years ago, Samantha knew she would never truly be wanted. When she accidentally stumbles into a wolf town and is asked by their Permier to stay, she believes it's the novelty of an arctic fox motivating him. She knows she'll be on her own again once he tires of her.
Jason finds himself pulled to Samantha from the moment she faints in his arms. His wolf is calling to him, telling him he's found their mate and the heat he feels for Samantha is impossible to resist. But his little fox is loaded down with emotional baggage and doesn't believe she's worthy of love. Can he overcome her fears? Or will pack jealousies and the local foxes convince her she doesn't belong with him before he has a chance? 
Author Bio: Sondrae lives in New York City where she loves to people watch for inspiration. She has been an avid reader of romance her whole life, and began writing them after imaging different twists on the books she read. Sondrae believes the best characters are those deeply and truthfully invested in the situations they find themselves in and usually lets her characters speak for themselves. Above all, she loves giving her characters the happily ever afters they deserve.
Sondrae loves to hear from readers. Please feel free to email her and drop by her blog to learn about upcoming releases.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Let the Characters Talk

Since I am vying for the horrible blogger of the new year award I decided to pull out one of the five writerly posts I have in my head and appease you all with it.
On a lighter note tho' I got the inspiration for this blog post yesterday. here we go

I am a control Freak, I have not learnt how to let my muse inspire me, and I definitely don't let my characters lead the way even tho' I am el Pantser Supremo.

In my current WIP my hero is Latino and yes I was inspired by Charlie Sheen and Enrique Iglesias, in a bid to make him into a character I really liked I was going to make him talk like George Lopez and use his popular catch phrases like es ta loca? or que la (pardon my spelling) but my hero staunchly refused to speak a word of spanish, everytime I went down that route, my brain froze up.

I eventually let him be and just wrote whatever et voila my latino hero showed me himself, he was raised in America, in the social security system and adopted by numerous families; the only time he speaks spanish is when he is in bed with his lady love and no he does not say te quiero or te amo he just calls her chica - if he ever has kids with her he would totally call their son mijo.

I like that! am cool with that! I know him inside out and I am pleased to be working with him since he looks like my longterm crush - Enrique Iglesias; but even better he so tattles on the heroine, he told me she is always on the defensive and she is disgusted by abused women- she thinks they are weak (this is a big flaw we might not be able to get over, but he is working on her).

Here is my advice for letting your characters do their own talking and not be influenced by your idea of who you think they are

oh la la!
  1. When the words are not flowing easily to your fingertips that could be an indicator that you need to switch POVs or are not being true to your characters
  2. It does not hurt to stare at images of Enrique Iglesias or Johnny Depp for a long time
  3. The minute something unplanned for comes up, go with the flow and then take some time out to see how that could mesh with your preconceived ideas or original storyline.
  4. Learn to fall in love with your characters, that way you would still be able to write them in a good light when they throw you a curve ball.
  5.  Maybe because my deadlines are self imposed, I don't write like my stories have to be published so if my true to himself hero starts to look highly unpopular I chalk it down as a writing exercise and move on.
  6. don't forget if all else fails go back and  repeat #2 over and over again, it has been tried tested and true.


Friday, January 14, 2011

A Publisher in our Interrogation Room

 I hope everyone knows what it means to be chuffed because that is how I feel right now, I am pleased to introduce to you Astraea Press, a new publishing house with a refreshing twist. Owner and Editor in Chief Stephanie Taylor has agreed to sit down and be interrogated.
Some of these questions are from you, while the rest was concocted by my devious mind. Feel free to check the blog and their stunning covers out.

  1. N.R. Williams - I would like to know from Astraea Press what form of publishing they are considering? Traditional hard/paperback copies, e-books or audio books? One or all three?
Astraea Press - All three!  Eventually.  Right now, we're focused on our launch and getting our name out there.  Once we get our initial titles under our belt, we'll be uploading for POD, and looking into audio.
  1. the1940mysterywriter - how do you intend to market your ebooks and your writers? Granted that marketing budgets are endangered species throughout publishing, but do you have a plan for overcoming that ongoing problem and assisting their writers' sales figures?
At Astraea we offer a personalized marketing plan for our authors based on their location to aide their efforts.  Our marketing director, Alice, is already hard at work on these things.  We also plan to market in every avenue possible.  We'll be placing ads on websites and in appropriate magazines.  We're hard at work with social media, getting our name and our author's name out there.  Without our authors, we wouldn't be much of a press!
3.      Kimber Leszczuk.I would love to know what inspired them to put the ROMANCE back into romance stories? EVERYTHING lately seems to be all about sex - I think there is something to be said for someone who can convey emotion and a well told love story without it. Kudos to them for doing it!! What is their inspiration and motivation behind it?
Astraea Press - To be honest, I came up with the idea because my own books fall into a black hole.  I don't write erotica, I don't write inspirational.  I fall somewhere in between and tend to keep my sex scenes behind closed doors.  But I love playing up on the sensuality and the actual emotions of a relationship.  So after I published my first book, I thought…I bet there are other writers out there who don't want to compete with erotica (and lose) and need a house who offers only clean romance.  The outpouring of support for our venture has been astounding and I'm so excited that I took a leap of faith and opened Astraea Press with Jane.
  1. Joanna - How many books a month should we expect to come out of Astraea Press?  
Astraea Press - We're aiming for ten a month.  We're one contract away from our goal for February!
  1. Joanna - How do you maintain the balance between professionalism and making the authors feel like part of the Astraea family?   
Astraea Press - Hmmm…that's tricky.  To me, professionalism IS making someone feel like family. That's how I do business.  I'm chatty, I love to help and I want others to succeed.  You've got a question?  Ask me.  If an author and I were to disagree on edits, we can talk about it.  But as an author myself, I understand how emotions can play a part in the publishing of a book, and I'm here to make sure things are objective and we put the best product out there.  Ultimately, Astraea has the final say in a product, but I won't "pull rank" unless absolutely necessary.  I like to talk about things first!
  1. Joanna - Do you have any cool contests or pitches coming up? 
Astraea Press - We're currently open to submissions and we have a pitch scheduled with Sweeter Romantic Notions later this month.
  1. Joanna - What would you say to people who still do not believe in ePublishing?  
Astraea Press - Epublishing is the same as any other technological advance.  Just like computers, TV, cell phones, anything that advances, I'm actually surprised that books took so long!  E-readers, smart phones and such are all going to replace paper books because it’s more economical and easier to access.  Like it or not, it's happening and it better to embrace it.  ;o)
  1. Joanna - Apart for explicit scenes, what else would be a major turn off for editors at Astraea Press? 
Astraea Press - Language is a turn off, stories that revolve around cheating and weak GMC (goal, motivation and conflict).  

Even better yet Astraea Press is open to submissions right now! They have also challenged me to do one thing - write a story with the doors firmly shut, it is a challenge but I look at it as an opportunity to grow as a writer. Ms Taylor will be in and out all day feel free to say hi, ask any other questions and visit their blog.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It is with great distraction

that I bring you this blog post today, as I speak I am in the same room with four children under four years old, all of whom have the ability to make extreme noise.

That aside let me share my joy with you - its not about publication so you can keep the pompoms away - for now (but still save them specially for me, cos something's gotta give eventually)

I was walking around in Houston and found myself in walmart, i went in for some french toast but came out with 5 books instead - how did that happen? I think I went blank till I got back in the car and hugged my books like a dolt. I have missed walking into a store and just indulging in books, my in laws looked at me with concern but I did not care. These are books, I have not seen books in english just sitting and waiting to be sold in a long time so excuse my indulgence.

To make things even better I won 2 Miranda Dickinson Books from Kath at the Nut Press, and a you can have whatever book you like from Raquel Henry and an ebook from lily Harlem - all of these people shall be properly thanked next week.

let me get back to loving my books and squeeze a little writing time somewhere in between too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Rebel in Me

This writer can be a really nice girl when she sets out to be but just like the little girl with the curl in that nursery rhyme(I think I have a cowlick) I can also be very horrid.

By the way, lest i forget yesterday's story was pretty much Fact I left out most of the details tho'.
I am a natural rebel, i think I have been singing Bob Marley songs since I was born and now I like Muse (see the connection?) I won't tell you about how i flunked a grade in high school just to rebel or how I dropped all languages from my curriculum or switched majors after getting the best grade in my class just to irk my poor dad.

What I would like to tell you is that I am a rebel and I know there are a lot of you like me out there (if you are still in denial its okay too). I understand that rules, guidelines and all those do's and don'ts are really helpful but I still cannot help kicking against them when I see them. (I shall leave people like Jennifer Lane to analyze this behaviour)

I really appreciate someone telling me the do's and don'ts of twitter or blogging or anything else but at the same time the rebel in me says "so what? if  I don't follow your do's and don'ts will I be kicked out of your exclusive club?"

Some days i feel like yelling this is my blog - it says my name on it and I will pretty much do what i want - rules spoil all the fun right? dont tell me to put an excerpt of my work up; I don't want to be laughed into oblivion and don't tell me I have to post my blog schedule because I don't have one and I am not convinced it makes a difference.

And just to contradict myself in the folly of today's post you tell me your fave rule that is a no bender or breaker for you - here is mine. Learn the rules then break them

and I swear this is not a rant

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Yesterday, I was supposed to learn all about google alert but here I am google alertknowledgeless, so instead I will tell you what drama prevented me from learning all about google alert instead and talk about google alert later.

Anytime I tell you all a personal story - feel free to use it in a book or at least get wacky ideas for your books from it; here is my story.

So yesterday I was feeling way ahead of myself and even scheduled my blog post (for a pantser that is big right?), when I woke up in the morning I chatted with the hubs online and then at 8.30ish I heard grabby toddler make some noise in his room, so I got up and went in for our usual
"good morning"
"say good morning to mummy"
me with a very sad face "say good morning to mummy"
"a' morning ... drink?"
I pasted my usual mummy is trying to be a morning person smile on my face and turned the door knob - nothing! hmmnn no panic but it does not take a genius to realize grabby toddler has locked himself in the room.
I walk downstairs and ask the mother in law "Mom - do you have the keys to grabby toddlers room?"
and then of course she panics but keeps it downstairs - but what I get from her rapid phone calls is she does not have the keys, so I move on to plan B (sometimes table knives make the best keys)

But yesterday the table knife failed me and grabby toddler started to get hungry, I slipped him some biscuits but he pushed them back out  "DRINK!"

We soon progress down to a stage where my 2 year old is begging me to open the door, he tells me he is sorry and i should open the door - I try to explain that I am trying my best but he is in tears and cant really listen or hear me but at least i am still able to slip him a half drunk capri sun under the door.

The door knob has no screws or anything really and I have torn the fancy golden part apart but the obstinate door is still locked, I ask my son to go stay on his bed so I can break the door open with my shoulders, then the handy man arrives.

The handy man is able to cut the door down in a midst of sparks and a lot of noise (grabby toddler is deathly terrified of loud noises) when we eventually found him a lil over 2 hours later he was hiding under his duvet but you could tell he had been under the bed too - his head was covered with dust mites and lint.

He recovered fast enough to say thank you to the handy man - a man nice enough who refused to get paid because he says my mother in law reminds him of his mother and he could never make his mother pay him, my mother in law says this happens every time he comes to do some work for her.

So what do you think peeps fact or fiction and who do you identify with the most in the story?


Monday, January 10, 2011

Chances are

I am so excited I am writing this post and scheduling it a whole 8 hours b4 it goes live - I am all grown up! there might just be hope for me after all.

I am hanging out at the inlaws till the hubs gets back from this new round of travelling, problem is there are so many kids running up and down i cannot even hear myself think on the plus side tho' grabby toddler gets to hang out with his cousins and i can take him to childrens shows, the library and watch yo gabba gabba.

Okay so back to my post of the day Chances are .....
as helpful as the blogging community might be there might still be scammers amongst us (did I just hear you say duh? u are such a smart cookie)
There are loads of services being offered to help us writers online, and I won't really go into great detail about those services, but please please look before you leap.
Do your research! talk to your bloggy friends about their experiences, find out about their qualifications, ask them a billion questions and best of all follow your instinct.
Good Luck me hearties and if all else fails ask Writers Beware.

am off to send out a million batches of questions to some amazing folks, tomorrow I'll talk about google alert - it has me intrigued.


Friday, January 7, 2011


This is the only friday this year where the interrogation room will stay empty. I have interviews but I have not informed any of my suspects they will be arraigned today.

So instead I have decided to tell you a few interesting things and then let you all grill me instead.
  1. Nancy N.R Williams book is out "The treasures of Carmelidrium" I've got a feeling about this book and cant wait to bring her to the interrogation room.
  2. I think Nicole MacDonald's book "The Arrival" is out too (someone correct me if I'm wrong)
  3. I also did some pretty bold things in 2010 regarding the interrogation room that still has me grinning (one of them involves Elana Johnson)
  4.  Lastly I got the owner of a new small press to come into the interrogation room; its called Astraea Press and they put a new spin on their books - no erotica! you'll have to visit their website to find out more. Do you have any questions you would like me to ask? you know, the kind that is never on the FAQ page?
So there you have it, what questions would you like to ask me and what questions would you like to ask Astraea Press - feel free not to ask me any questions and put the heat on Astraea Press instead :-D


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What I learned in the New Year

Phew! it feels good to be back. I already feel giddy just typing this blog post.
Just in case you have been wondering what this blogger has been up to - I have been remembering what it feels like to have family around, having a 16 hour road trip with a toddler and a bad internet connection.

To start off my new year I am guest blogging today at Melinda Pierce Blog she has a new series called Warrior Wednesdays - Tales from the unpubbed, I seriously hope by the end of this year i will not be eligible for this series anymore. So please check out my battle scars here or here either ways check me out and I shall be all over your blogs in a minute too.

It feels good to be back.