Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Who Knew Nigel Had An Iguana?"

At the SOKY Bookfest Saturday, I was once again confronted with the question, "Are you a planster or a pantser?"

Fortunately, the members of the League of Reluctant Adults had previously explained to me that a "planster" is a writer that works from a previously planned plot outline. A "pantser," has no plan and lets their plot grow spontaneously, flying by the seat of their pants. It's a good thing someone explained that, because when I was in high school, "pantser" meant something totally different.

I am more of a hybrid, a "shortster" - more of a planster, less than a panster. I have a general outline of how I think the plot will go, random scenes and dialogue exchanges I plan on using. And generally, I use about 60 percent of the outline. And much of the planned dialogue becomes what my friend, Brandi, calls "outtakes."

But it was clear, while sitting on the Bookfest panel with fellow romance writers Teresa Madeiros, LuAnn McClane, and Allie Pleiter, that they were all pantsers. Teresa talked about writing a scene in her book After Midnight in which a female character spends the night in a crypt with a vampire. Teresa "faded to black" before the reader saw what happened in the crypt and neither character comments on what transpires. Fans asked, "So what happened?" And Teresa had to confess that she had no idea, the characters hadn't told her yet. They didn't tell her until she started writing the sequel, The Vampire Who Loved Me, and the story came out while the characters were talking.

She said, "I stood up, screamed and ran around the room, yelling, 'Of course that's what happened!"

Then there was Allie, who described sitting on a plane, typing a scene and suddenly, it became clear that her character needed an iguana. Named Marilyn. She exclaimed, "Who knew Nigel had an iguana?!" And found all of her fellow passengers staring at her.

So the lesson here, kids, is that with or without a plan... writers can be scary people.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

SoKY Bookfest was AWESOME

I just got back from the SoKY Bookfest in Bowling Green. Above, you'll see a picture of me near the WKU amphitheater, where as a clueless freshman, I would trudge, wondering wht the entire campus was built at a 45 degree angle. It was great to be back on Western's campus, though I hardly recognized it in some places! I'm exhausted and amazed. I met so may fantastic people and bought waaaay to many books, but I had a great time.

Some highlights:

-Meeting Jennie Bentley, author of the The Fatal Fixer-Upper, who also happens to be a client of super-agent Stephany Evans. I am currently reading Jennie's book and am LOVING IT.

-Meeting Nashville area judge Kip Gayden, author of historical crime novel, A Miscarriage of Justice. Kip and his incredibly sweet wife, Paulette, were among the first people we met at the authors' reception on Friday night. And where they go, people follow. We went from having a quiet drink at the hotel bar with the Gaydens, to being joined by folk legend Janis Ian (who came down to the bar in her pajamas, hoping to grab a quick snack, and ended up talking for hours.) Janis was incredibly cool and down-to-Earth, and just happened to know Kip from a Spanish class they'd taken together. My husband, a die-hard folk/bluegrass fan, lost all semblence of cool when he realized Janis knew Pete Seeger. The next thing we knew, there were a dozen or so authors of all genres and experience levels sitting around crowded tables and chatting. It was like the Algonquin Round Table, only you know, at the Holiday Inn.

-Spending most of the day with my fellow romance authors LuAnn McClane, Allie Pleiter and Teresa Medeiros.
I have been a fan of Teresa's for years. (Seriously, I was embarassed to bring any of my copies of her books to the festival because I've read them so often the covers are torn or have been chewed on by my family's Amazon parrot.) So I was all fan-girl giddy to be sitting two spots down from her at the signings. It was so refreshing to find that most authors, even those with 20-plus books under their belt, were just like me. Regular people who stay up too late at night having conversations with characters who don't really exist!

I am really looking forward to reading LuAnn's Redneck Cinderella, because frankly, it sounds like we have similar senses of humor. And Allie had stories so funny, I was actually able to relax during the discussion panel. (Me + Public speaking = Disaster and sometimes, random obscenities.)
- Seeing WKU professor Paula Quinn, who taught me how to scale back my fondness for hyperbole in her feature-writing class.

- Signing and selling all of my copies of NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS!

If you didn't get to the Bookfest this year, be sure to make time for it in 2010. I will be there, whether it's as an author or fan!

Friday, April 17, 2009

SoKY Bookfest

Hey All,

I am packing up for Bowling Green, KY, my old college stomping grounds, for the SoKy Bookfest. The conference will run all day Saturday at Sloan Convention Center. There will be so many authors I respect at the conference - Silas House, Theresa Medeiros, Kathleen Kent. I'll be speaking on the Southern Ficton for Women panel at 11 a.m. Saturday. Otherwise, you can find me at my table!

For more information, see

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My First Signing: A summary

My first signing was fantastic! Thanks so much to everyone who came by and had such nice things to say about the book. And much appreciation to the staff at Barnes and Noble, who so kind and accomodating.

So here's what I've learned:

- When someone buys five copies of your book, one for every person in their department at work, sign it, "To my new best friend." Because that will set a good tone for the rest of the day.

- You're going to misspell someone's name. Apologize, profusely when you do it and try to move on. Side note: Lilli- I am really sorry I misspelled your name... even after you told me how to spell it. I was really nervous.

-Don't let your four-year-old "borrow" your Sharpie because seeing you sign books will inspire her. (Before I realized what she was doing, she'd autographed two Curious George books, which I then purchased.) She won't be coming to the next signing.

-It's cool when your family members show up to get their books signed, it's even cooler when a complete stranger walks up and says, "I wish I'd known you were going to be here! I read your book and loved it." This leads to:

-You sign anything those strangers put in front of you, because they're awesome.

In an unrelated note, I also learned the two most evil words in the English language are "piano bar." Thanks to my 80's music-loving new friends (you know who you are) for making the post-signing evening so memorable and enjoyable.

I will be doing some sort of event every weekend for the next three weeks. My next stop is the SOKY Book Fest, April 18, at the Sloan Convention Center in Bowling Green, Ky.

For more information on the Bookfest, click here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Signing on Saturday

My first signing is Saturday! I hope to see you there!

1 p.m. Saturday
Chesterfield Barnes and Noble
600 Clarkson Road
Chesterfield, MO, near St. Louis.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Podcast Interview with JC Hutchins

It's good to know people.

I was lucky enough to know sci-fi author JC Hutchins when we were journalism students at Western Kentucky University. I worked with him at the College Heights Herald and he became the best sort of friend I could ask for... the kind that always listens, understands your pop culture references and doesn't make fun of you for drinking Zima.

Over the last few years, I have watched in awe as his 7th Son podcast has grown into an internet phenomenon with legions of followers (Hello, loyal clone army.) I am so very proud of him and to be able to say, "I knew him when."

JC was kind enough to interview me for his inaugural episode of "Hey Everbody," an off-shoot of his regular "broadcasts." The conversation was part walk down memory lane, part interview, all fun.


And if you want an interactive reading experience that will scare the absolute crap out of you, order JC's new novel Personal Effects: Dark Art, due out in June.

Seriously, the commercial left me cowering on the floor in the fetal position. Hutch brings the scary. Order it now!

And while we're on the subject:

The video blurb from Victor Miller for Personal Effects can be found here on YouTube.

The link to the "novel meets Alternate Reality Game" Personal Effects: Dark Art can be found here

The link to the fan-fueled "Commit Yourself To The Brink" promotion (where fans can get "committed" in PE's insane asylum and receive patient paperwork can be found here

The link to more "vlurb" trailers, featuring horror icons endorsing Personal Effects can be found here

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Guest Author Interview: Beth Fantaskey

At some point, every teenage girl has told herself, “This isn’t where I belong. Those aren’t my real parents. My real parents are (royals, relief workers in the Peace Corps, circus folk, etc.)”

Well, for Jessica Packwood, it’s true.

Jessica has always known she was adopted. She did not know she was the last princess born to a noble and ancient vampire line. Or that she was promised in marriage to the son of a rival royal vampire clan in a ceremony just after she was born. When her betrothed- posing as a yummy, if somewhat arrogant foreign exchange student from Romania- shows up on her first day of senior year to demand her hand, her whole world is turned upside-down.

I found Jessica and the other characters in JESSICA’S GUIDE TO DATING ON THE DARK SIDE a little while ago while searching for more age-appropriate alternatives for my mother’s eighth-grade students, who wanted to read my book. Author Beth Fantaskey has managed to blend just the right mix of humor, fantasy and angst in her debut novel. Jessica is smart, strong, and has believably adolescent reactions without being whiny. The chemistry between Jessica and her love interest, Lucius, is sexy enough that young readers won’t feel patronized, but still manages to be age-appropriate.
It’s been a long time since a young adult novel actually made me shed a tear or two… in fact, I think I was a young adult the last time that happened.

So imagine my shock and surprise when Ms. Fantaskey took time out of her busy schedule (not to mention defending her century-old home from roof leaks and plagues of ants) to respond to a fawning E-mail from yours truly.

Beth was kind enough to agree to a guest interview on my various blogs. Enjoy!

Tell us a little about yourself.
BF: Hmmm.... I'm 43, married with two kids, and I have a couple jobs, including teaching at a university and working sporadically as a journalist. I like to dabble in different hobbies, like studying Mandarin or doing martial arts, and I most recently joined up with a bunch of women who are training to complete a mini-triathlon this summer. Not sure if we'll cross the finish line, though, since half of us - including me - don't really know how to swim. That could be a problem!

Tell us about your pathway to publication. Where were you when you thought of Jessica? How long did it take you to write the book? To find an agent and a publisher?
BF: I was riding in a car, traveling from Georgia to Pennsylvania, when I came up with the idea for Jessica's Guide. I started jotting notes on the gazillion fast-food napkins that my husband stockpiles in his glove compartment. (He is ready for any ketchup-related emergency!) When I got home, I wrote the book very quickly, in a matter of weeks, and sent it to an agent I'd heard speak once, at a conference. She called me within a few days and said, "Let's get this sold." It was all really fast - which was great, since I never had time to think, "Who do I think I am, writing a novel??"

What about this story made you sit up and say, "This HAS to be told."
BF: I just loved the idea of a very rational, math-loving girl discovering - and embracing - a very irrational truth about herself.

How did you come up with your vampire lore? Were there certain plot devices that required certain vampire powers?
BF: I created my vampire lore from scratch, not counting vague memories of movies like "Nosferatu" and the old Bram Stoker story. Mainly, I wanted Lucius to be able to function in the real world (not dissolving in light, for example) or doing things that I considered too silly, like cringing away from garlic. I can't imagine Lucius Vladescu cringing away from anything.

You've created a sensible, steady teenager in Jessica. How important was it to you that she be a good role model for teen girls?

BF: Very important. I want my own daughters to have strong female role models. I wanted Jess to be able to stand up to Lucius, when necessary, and think for herself and make her own choices. I also wanted her to be proud of her appearance, although she's not the traditional "model" body type. Smart, gorgeous women come in all shapes and sizes, and I think that should be celebrated.

How did you manage to find such a delicate balance for Jessica's parents? They're these wacky hippies, but still very well-rounded, real characters.
BF: Thank you! I drew upon being a parent, myself. I do things that embarrass my kids, but I'm also there to give them guidance, support and, of course, love. When I wrote about the Packwoods, I'd think, "How would I deal with Jess in this situation?" They are in a tough spot, trying to protect Jess while also allowing her to grow and become the person she is meant to be, and I really connected with that struggle, emotionally, as I wrote.

Will there be a sequel? (Please, please, pretty please.)
BF: That is not certain... I am honestly not sure!

What's next for you? Future releases? Exorcism of ants and leaks from your house?
BF: Propping up our old house with duct tape, Elmer's glue and chicken wire is, indeed, high on my "to do" list. But as far as writing goes, my next book, called Jekel Loves Hyde, is due out next year. It's another dark, supernatural romance/mystery... I'm very excited about it. I hope readers are, too!

Here is her Amazon sales page

And here is her home page.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Live Morning Radio- An Adventure

I did my first ever radio interview this morning. If anyone knows of a magic trick to doing interviews and not sounding like you've got a tension bubble in your throat, I'd love to hear it. I sounded incredibly nervous, apparently.

And the minute the DJ Greg Dunker gently reminded me I would be live and asked me to refrain from foul language, I was overwhelmed with this perverse compulsion to start cursing a blue streak. What is that about? I don't curse much in everyday conversation. I hadn't thought about cursing until he said something. But the thought loop of "Don't curse, we're live, don't curse, we're live" made me want drop some f-bombs. Fortunately, I restrained myself, even when a car alarm went off 10 feet away and ended up broadcast across 10 counties.

It was an interesting educational experience and Greg was the consumate interviewer of nervous first-time authors.

Mobilizing my minions

I have been told that it would be helpful to have customer reviews on the online sales sites. So if you have an account with Amazon, Booksamillion, Borders, Barnes and Noble, etc., have read the book and are inclined to right a review, I would really appreciate it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Release Day Round-Up

Thanks to all that have purchased NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS in these first few days. And to those who have left comments on my blog and web site. I still can't believe the book is out on the shelves!

Funny story: My friend called me from the local bookstore to tell me she couldn't find my book. She approached a clerk and got as far as, "I'm looking for a book by Molly-" when the clerk got this really wretched look on her face and said, "Look, we sold all the copies we had. People have been coming in all morning asking for it. We've ordered more. They should be here by the end of the week, OK? I'm sorry." The clerk turned on her heel and walked away.

Now that's what an author likes to hear! I do feel bad for stressing out my favorite bookstore's employees... They'll get over it.

Also, I will be doing an interview with Greg Dunker on WKYX, 570 AM on Thursday morning. I'm not sure when it will be airing. I'll post when I know!