Monday, November 29, 2010
Hi Friends! Please welcome Whimsical Publications author, Pat Dale,visiting with The Balanced Writer this week. I appreciate the thoughts and experiences Pat has to share, and I know you will, too.
First of all, I’d like to thank you, Danielle, for inviting me to join you today. It’s always fun to share our thoughts and feelings with one another. As a fellow Band of Tigers refugee, I suspect that we have a bit more to share than if fate had not intervened back when. But it did, and now here we are, each of us moving forward with our own writing career.
If your readers will kindly indulge me a moment or two, I’d like to reminisce on my transition from writing music to writing fiction novels. My college English profs tried to convince me to write fiction back then but I was stubborn. I suppose being a hot-shot trumpeter and bassist had something to do with it. Music was the center of my life when I was young, and I had no time to consider alternate routes through my pell-mell life. A few decades later, I faced the end of my career as a professional performer, so I began looking for something new to tackle.
I’d always carried stories in my head; characters that had never lived, living lives that had not seen the light of day either. So, fifteen years ago, I began writing a novel. Other than that I had no idea what was acceptable or usual practice, I just started jotting the words into a spiral notebook. Three months later, I had a complete novel of a hundred thirty thousand words. Well, nearly complete. I could not, for the life of me, find a satisfactory way to bring the story to a climax.
Thus it began; my quest to move my newfound love from my head to a printed page. I studied with mentors, joined writing groups, gained a handful of critique partners, and wrote my heart out. One novel, then another, and a third; and so on.
Trust me, I’m getting to the point of this blog, Which is, I had no doubt that getting published would be easy. My stuff was good, very good. A number of good writers had told me so. My critique partners had told me so. My gut told me so.
Unfortunately, all the editors I queried had other ideas. I got the run around in one form or another for a couple of years; occasionally with a bit of advice but usually with a cold "good luck elsewhere."
My brother urged me to consider e-publishing so I did. Nothing but strange missed communications ensued from that effort for another year. I met one editor at a conference and she told me she loved my book. Never heard from her again. Months later, I sent the MS to the editor who’d taken the other one’s place but she hated it. Stuff like that went on until I sent a book to Tiger Publishing. The editor liked the story but felt it was not right for their coming line and invited me to send something else if I had it. If I had it?
Good Lord, I’d done nothing but write, write, write for all those years. Yeah, I had it. I sent another sure to please book. She liked it, too, but it was not right either. Did I have anything else? I did and I sent it. And she loved it and said it was right.
Voila! I sent another and another. She wanted both of them! I got the contract for the first one. An overnight success after only eleven years! Before they could send the second and third contracts, the owner learned she had a dread medical condition. Months later, the company folded and I had a letter releasing my novel from legal purgatory. And that is what this blog is REALLY about.
History is just that. A recording of cold hard facts that change nothing, except the future path of the person being written about. Interesting in a way, and yet it does not bring us forward if we’re not willing to put the day we find ourselves in to some good use. My yesterdays are gone, fun to ponder, but the only time I have is right now, at this moment, going forward as long as I breathe. So, I choose to continue writing and submitting, knowing that some of my work will make it and some will not.
We’re smack in the middle of a season to be thankful for what we have. I give thanks every day for the editor who loves my work enough to put it to the test of publishing it. Also for that same editor when she has to tell me I’ve fallen short in one way or another. Only when I work against some sort of resistance do I get a sense of how to improve my writing. So, yes young writer, give thanks for the discriminating editor.
The world of books is in the midst of a cataclysmic reconstruction. Some institutions will fall and others will rise to take their place. The new medium may well be electronic. I urge you to embrace it, whatever your personal feelings. Paper bound books will be with us for a long time yet, but the paperless world is just around the corner and we’d better begin to make allowance for that fact. As a writer who is old enough to have lived through more than one revolution, I urge you all to find whatever way works to get your own characters and stories in front of your readers. Be it a hard bound book, a paperback, or an e-reader, the important thing is for them to hang on your every word while vicariously living your story in their heads.
From the heartland of mid-Missouri, I greet you one and all. Happy reading!
Make sure to check out Pat's book new release, A Girl's Best Friend, from Whimsical Publications. It's one of the many to-be-read books on my substantial reading list!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
One of my friend's said something very true to me this week, that Thanksgiving, for her, is the only holiday left that hasn't been commercialized. I think maybe she was right. Besides the frozen turkey specials at the grocery store, Thanksgiving really is still mostly about visiting with family and friends. And eating.
I recently told my husband that I didn't have time for a holiday. Is that how busy we've all become? Too distracted and overwhelmed by work and responsibility? By the trials in our lives?
Today I am forcing myself to set down my editing assignments, the new story I've started, and even the laundry basket. I'm taking my kids to their grandparents house. Last night I even baked a blueberry pie while running back and forth to the laptop and wrapping early holiday gifts. I need a Thanksgiving. I need to be thankful more than I already try to be. And I need a holiday!
Take a break. It will all be there when you get back. Eat some turkey and lots of goodies. Thanksgiving only comes once a year. Make the most of it -- and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
*Leave your comment to win a free postcard and coffee mug!*
Greetings to author and my friend, Stephanie Burkhart. This month I've asked Steph to stop by and share a little about how she is balancing her life and commitments with the holidays coming up. Steph, I know you are very busy with new titles coming out. Care to share the news about your latest releases?
STEPH: Thanks for having me here today, Dani. My latest release with Desert Breeze Publishing is a short story in the Borealis II Anthology called "Shadows and Light." It's somethin
g a little different from me in that it is a science fiction romance. (But then, you know I like to try my hand at different romantic subgenres –wink.)
The story takes place on the Borealis space station that is run by the bad guys, the TPP. My hero, Elijah Kess in undercover for the rebellion. So is my heroine, Persephone Talon. When they realize they have the same assignment, will their attraction help or hinder their mission?
I also have a Christmas short story coming out with Victory Tales Press in "A Christmas Collection, Stimulating," called "Christmas in Bayeux." It's a contemporary story that takes place in France near the World War II Beaches of Normandy.
On Thanksgiving (of all days! –wink) Issue 12 of the Ethereal Gazette comes out with my horror short story, "The Scorpion Temple." It has a Lovecraftian influence and is under my pen name, SG Cardin.
Boy, you're busy! Do you have any plans for the Thanksgiving holiday?
STEPH: We're having the family over my house. I have some great recipes I want to try out of the Weight Watcher magazine, and I plan on brining the bird!
My son wants to cook pierogi, which is an all day affair and not very weight watcher friendly, but it's a lot of fun so we'll probably set aside a day to do that. When I was his age, we'd go over to my mother's family house to make it. It's a tradition I want to continue with my boys. It's a Polish dish, and I'm proud to say there's a little Polish in me.
Glaring spotlight: Quick, what are the first 3 things that come to mind when I say "gratitude."
STEPH: Warmth, decency and thankfulness. It implies a humbleness that I think we all should strive for during the holiday season.
Good one. How have you managed or how do you plan to manage working your writing hours into the holiday season? Will your schedule change?
STEPH: Last year my writing slowed down because it's important to spend time with my family, especially my boys. That will probably happen again this year. I don't mind if it slows down because it's important to share the holidays with your friends and family.
I totally agree with that one. What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?
STEPH: I have two. As a young girl, making pies with my mother. She liked to make mincemeat, pumpkin and blueberry.
In 1991, my husband and I were married, but overseas in Germany they don't have Thanksgiving there. My friend, Gwen, from my old unit in Muenster invited us up to celebrate. Everyone ate turkey and drank too much. (Except for me and Gwen – we were close to sober.) Anyhoo…poor Gwen's husband was so tanked he pee'd on the wooden ornaments she had just bought at the downtown Christmas markets. She never let him live it down.
Okay, *laugh* one of the reasons I'm a non-drinker. Ornament preservation! I love pie. Mincemeat cookies are yummy, too, but I've never had mincemeat pie.
Now, you have had a lot of success and feedback on your work. What are your goals for next year?
STEPH: Keep writing and challenging my craft. I want to branch out with more small press publishers. Right now I have a short story planned for the Victory Tales Press Easter/Spring anthology that is going to be an inspirational. I've never done an inspirational, so I'm looking forward to it. I also have a novel length project I'm researching now that takes place in Germany 1939 and my focus is to make that a romantic suspense.
Do you have any holiday recipes you'd like to share?
STEPH: Gosh, my pierogi and homemade sugar cookies are very labor intensive. I can share a French Onion soup recipe. My husband and I were married in Denmark on 14 NOV 1991, but we've come to enjoy a good French Onion soup for our anniversary.
I'm going to have to try that for sure. Onion soup is delicious done right. I trust you!
Thanks for stopping by. Would you leave us with your contact information and links?
STEPH: Dani, let me wish you and your readers a Happy Thanksgiving.
Blurb: Shadows & Light
Although used as a controlled -- and controlling -- substance in the Borealis prisons, Uudon is a powerfully addictive drug. Abuse runts rampant, and the violence that has been directly linked to Uudon use is staggering. Nowhere is this more true than on Borealis, where the poor and forgotten will do nearly anything for this drug that will take away the sharp edge of their pain and supposedly make life a little easier to live... until they need their next fix. If they can't get it, their hazed world turns into hell... and depending on their degree of addition -- death may follow.
Over the years, the Rebellion has successfully infiltrated every level of the TPP and has slowly been chipping away at their power from their very foundations. Elijah Kess has been aboard Borealis for nearly half a cycle, working as a lieutenant on the Enforcer squad, and gathering information. So, when he starts suspecting someone is poking around about the Uudon trade on the ship, he has no idea that person has been sent by the Rebellion and his own family. Elijah and Persephone are both strong willed people, and both think they know the best way to handle things... as they trip over each other at every turn, they have to decide to either work together -- or shoot each other -- whichever comes first.
See the Story Teaser on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YV2moYlgwCA
Now for Steph's recipe!
French Onion Soup
5 Onions sliced.
1 stick of butter
96 oz beef broth
salt & pepper to taste
Fresh French Bread
Shredded swiss cheese
1. Melt butter and put in onions. Soften & caramelized the onions. (this takes approx 30-40 mins)
2. Add the beef broth, bring to a boil. Then simmer, 15 mins. Salt & Pepper to taste.
While that is going on, slice the French bread and butter. Put the shredded cheese on the slices and toast. When you take the slices out of the toaster oven, slice them smaller into crouton size and put them in the soup after it's finished simmering.
Leave a post and I'll pick two winners to receive an autographed postcard of the Borealis II Anthology. I'll also pick one lucky winner to receive a coffee mug with the cover of the Borealis II Anthology. Just tell me who your favorite science fiction villain or hero is and why. I'll be back on 20 NOV to announce the winners.
Find me on the Web at:
Thursday, November 11, 2010
My own first turned out to be a poetry win in a National Scholastic competition when I was in the eighth grade. For some bizarre reason, it was about Jack the Ripper. Everyone else wrote about tween angst and nuclear war, but even back then my head was in the clouds. Some dark ones apparently.
I was delighted today to receive the new cover for THE PRIVATEER, my first ever published novel about a pardoned pirate privateering for the British in 1729. Despite the growing pains I endured before, during and after sharing my beloved Captain Julius Bertrand, I've never let go of that experience. THE PRIVATEER will always be my special child.
This January, 2011, THE PRIVATEER will be re-released by Desert Breeze, re-edited and lengthier with missing scenes and back story. It's an honor to be working with the class acts at Desert Breeze, and it's an even bigger honor to have my cover done by one of the best in the e-business. A big Thank You to Jenifer Ranieri. See below and enjoy the sneak peek at next year's THE PRIVATEER!
Back Cover Blurb:
The reign of piracy is over in the Caribbean, or so it’s believed until diamonds are discovered in Brazil. Despite the cover-up, Captain Julius Bertrand begins to hear whispers. The Spanish guardacostas are dumping log books, and a new French pirate is on the prowl. Distracted by an avaricious woman he could never love, and the beautiful Kate O’Connell who doesn’t need him, he tries to untangle the web of mysterious cargo someone in the New World wants kept secret. When Bertrand’s pirating past returns with the explosive force of a sweeping broadside, he finds he must sacrifice everything his respectable life has brought him, in order to save what matters most.
Monday, November 08, 2010
…we all know that he had three ships on his voyage of discovery that landed him in the new world: Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria. This week, I had the awesome opportunity to go visit life-size replicas of two of those ships, the caravels, both Nina and Pinta.
Being an age of sail fan means a lot of old books, sketches and historical fiction. Being able to step onto these floating museums made available on the Tennessee River this week was a remarkable experience for me. I've only seen lines like shrouds and halyards in pictures, and I've never had the opportunity to smell pine tar – the stuff they painted their wooden ships with for weatherproofing. I'm pleased to report I thought it smelled wonderful, and I only got a little choked up thinking about Captain Aubrey and Midshipman Hornblower standing on deck with spy glasses trained on the horizon (even though it was a little before their time).
The ships were made by hand in Brazil using 15th century techniques and are sailed all around the world for visitors to explore. Crews are volunteers who sail for a minimum of four weeks, no sail experience required. Can you guess what I've been wishing I could do all week?
This winter the ships will head toward the Caribbean so it was more than likely my only chance to see, smell and hear what life aboard a floating wooden ship was all about. Thank you so much to my best bud in the world, Stacy, for the information and a wonderful day. We even ran into some pirating neighbors from home!
For all the cool information about this unique historical experience, check out www.thenina.com.
Then watch out for the re-release of my Caribbean age of sail historical, THE PRIVATEER, coming soon January 2011 with Desert Breeze Publishing!