Christa Polkinhorn is talking about me!

Since I confused a lot of you on Tuesday, I’m playing it safe today. So I’ll just let you know that Christa Polkinhorn is talking about me on her blog today.

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Also, I’ll say thank you to those who signed up for my newsletter after they saw my announcement about the June issue on Facebook and Twitter. Welcome aboard.

The temps will be over 100° F here in the San Joaquin Valley the next few days. I hope the weather is more human-friendly where you are. Have a fabulous weekend!

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Persecuted by my characters!

Christa_PolkinhornMy guest today is author Christa Polkinhorn. I “met” Christa online a couple of years ago. Since then she’s answered about a million of my questions, served as a beta reader, and been an all-around A+ supporter of my work. I’d say it’s about time I let her speak to you here. Please welcome Christa as she describes a “visit” from her characters.

~~~~~

After finishing Love of a Stonemason, the second book in my Family Portrait series, I wanted to take a break from “my family on paper” and work on something entirely different. I opened a new Word document and began to type. I was at the second paragraph of the first chapter, when I felt a soft tap on my shoulder. I turned around and gasped.

After years of writing, my heart still stutters when I see him. Tall, broad-shouldered, muscular, with unruly dark hair and those vivid verdigris-green eyes, Andreas is the kind of man I could still fall for—after all, I created him. He isn’t perfect by any means. He has a temper and can be quite crude at times, but he did mature somewhat over the years. Besides, what would I do with perfection? What’s more important, he is a passionate man with a kind heart.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m writing or at least I was trying to until you appeared out of nowhere. What are you doing here anyway? I thought I sent you and your family on vacation.”

He gave me the familiar “what-the-heck-are-you-talking-about” look—his eyes narrowed and a deep furrow formed between his eyebrows. “We’ve been on vacation long enough; we’re bored; we want some action again.” There was an irritated undertone to his deep, throaty voice.

“Look.” I raised my hand and motioned him to sit down on the chair across the living room, but he remained standing. “Look, I’ll think of something for you again, but right now, I’m busy with a different book. You just have to wait your turn.”

AUF-190“A different book? What different book? You’ve been saying this for weeks and from what I see, you’re still at the second paragraph.”

He was right, darn it, but how did he know? “Okay,” I admitted. “I’m having a hard time but you hounding me doesn’t make it any easier.”

“I know what the problem is,” Andreas brushed through his unruly hair. “You write the wrong stuff. You should write about us.”

“I think I still decide what I want to or should write about,” I said. “By the way, when was the last time you had a haircut?”

He beamed. “You like unruly hair; that’s why you gave it to me.”

“Stop grinning,” I said.

“You shouldn’t use ‘grin’ in your writing so much; it’s bad style.”

“You know, Andreas, you’re really getting on my nerves right now. Would you please—”

“Oh, here you are; I was wondering what happened to you.” Karla stepped into the room, giving Andreas a sweet smile. She was dressed in a yellow-and-green slinky summer dress which flattered her tanned skin. I have to admit; I do create attractive-looking characters.

“Talking to our author.” Andreas hugged her and winked at me. “Trying to get her off her lazy butt and write the sequel.”

“With such language you’ll never convince me to go on,” I said, trying to give him a punishing look. But I never manage to get really angry at him, no matter how irritating he is sometimes.

LOS_190 “Heya,” a younger voice said and two more characters appeared—the children, Tonio and Laura, sixteen and eighteen by now. Tonio smiled at me.

“How was your vacation?” I asked with a sigh.

“Okay, but it got boring, nothing to do,” Tonio said. “And I desperately need some new clothes.

It was only now that I noticed his flashy shirt. “Seems like you have some nice outfits.”

“That’s my last clean one,” he said, a slight reproach in his voice.

With another sigh, I turned toward Laura and marveled once again how much she resembled her father, the same green eyes and dark, wavy hair, and strong physique. She, too, was attractive, but she keeps complaining that I didn’t give her the slender figure her mother had.

“Okay, since we’re all here now. How about some discussion about our future life,” Andreas said. “I think we’re all ready for more. I mean you created us and you can’t just abandon us like this. We have a right to our lives.”

“A right?” I raised an eyebrow. The nerve. “I think you forget who is in charge here. I will write another sequel but first, I want to work on something else, as I mentioned before.”

“Ahem,” Andreas stood tall. “What about . . . .” And he gave me a whole list of adventures he was going to engage in.

I raised my hand and stopped him short. “I decide what you guys are going to do.”

“Okay.” Andreas shrugged. “Just trying to be helpful. I mean, we’d love you to write our stories. You’ve been quite a pain in the butt and given us some hard times, but all in all our lives have been okay. However, if you don’t want to continue, we can always go and find another author.”

“Oh, yeah? And who do you think is going to put up with you?” I snickered.

“You’d be surprised. To tell you the truth I’ve received some offers.”

Emilia_190I’m convinced he was merely bluffing—or was he? “All right, I’ll write another book. I’ll start in a while.”

“Can I have a decent boyfriend, finally?” Laura asked.

“We’ll see about that,” I muttered. “I haven’t figured it all out yet.”

“And please, give me a few more exhibitions and make me paint some great pictures.” Karla put a hand on my shoulder or was this merely the breeze coming from the open window.

“Okay. We’ll see.”

Andreas brushed through his hair again. “Yes, and, I’d really like another trip to—“

“Enough,” I shout. “Leave the details up to me.”

“New clothes, please.” Tonio raised his arms in a defensive gesture. “Just saying, so you don’t forget.”

“All right, guys, thanks for dropping by. However, if you want me to finish the sequel within a reasonable timeframe, you got to back off and leave me to it. Understood?”

“Yeah, all right,” Andreas said and the others nodded.

“Okay, that’s settled. Now could you please disappear and let me get back to work.

Karla and the children faded away a little, but Andreas stood his ground. He waited until I closed the Word document I was working on and opened a new one.

I typed “Emilia (Family Portrait, Part 3).”

He nodded, smiled, and disappeared.

~~~~~

Now that you’re intrigued by Christa’s characters, click on the covers of her Family Portrait trilogy to learn where you can purchase the trilogy. And right now, you’re in luck because the first book in the series, An Uncommon Family, is on sale for only 99-cents!

You can find Christa on her blogFacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Goodreads. You can’t miss her. She’s the one with the cheery smile and a sparkle in her eye!

AUF-190   LOS_190   Emilia_190

elle

The Next Big Thing

Author Christa Polkinhorn, tagged me to answer these questions about my work in progress. This author meme is called The Next Big Thing. Please read Christa’s responses about Emilia, her next big thing. At the end of  this post, you’ll see who I’ve tagged.

AIT_page_frontWhat is the working title of your next book? It’s titled An Illusion of Trust and is now available at Amazon in ebook and print.

Where did the idea come from for the book? It’s a sequel to my novel The Brevity of Roses. I ended that book with Jalal and Renee’s engagement, but that wasn’t the end of the story I’d written in my head. They were both troubled people, but I knew for certain Renee’s emotional damage would surface as she experienced the realities of marriage and parenthood, so I wrote An Illusion of Trust to tell that part of the story.

What genre does your book fall under? This is contemporary fiction. I suppose it will appeal mainly to women, but I hesitate to call it women’s fiction because that classification is often interpreted as romance or chick lit, which this is not. Maybe I could call it literary women’s fiction.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Though I do mentally cast certain actors as my characters, I decline to share my picks for the same reason I don’t dwell a lot on the physical descriptions of characters in my writing. Unless there’s a good reason to force my image on readers, I want them to visualize my characters as they like. I mention or allude to Renee’s petite stature and long hair several times, and I mention once (in this book) that she has gray eyes. In my head, she’s a more petite version of a certain actress.

Jalal was described in more detail in The Brevity of Roses because Meredith gave her poetic mind free reign as she observed him: “… it was hard to ignore this man with his beautiful skin, like fine tea-dyed silk, and hair, as black as any she had ever seen, curling down to his shoulders, and if he chanced to look up from the book he now read, she was certain his eyes would seem as deep and dark as temple pools on a moonless night.” He has a slight change of appearance in An Illusion of Trust, but even with this number of details I think readers could “cast” several different actors in his role.

If you’re familiar with my characters Renee and Jalal and pictured a celebrity as you read about them, please share. I’m curious to know if anyone sees who I see.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

This is the tag line: In this sequel to The Brevity of Roses, Renee Vaziri discovers that even when your dreams come true your nightmares remain.

Here’s a distillation from the back cover blurb, which is more a one-line synopsis: When Renee Marshall locked the door on her dark past and married Jalal Vaziri, she hoped for a quiet life, but as the stress of living in his society increases, the traumas of her past begin to poison the present and threaten to destroy everything she treasures.

 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

This sequel will be another indie novel published under my imprint Two-Four-Six Publishing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

That’s a difficult question for me to answer because I don’t write a typical first draft. I develop the story in my head and make written notes for several months to a year (or more) before I start to actually write a draft. And because I edit as I write, what I end up with is a step or two beyond the proverbial “shitty first draft”. Specifically, I wrote this “first draft” in two stages. I wrote for three months and then a health problem forced me to let it languish for a couple of months, during which indecision on what my next book should be cropped up and delayed me even more. When I picked up my WIP again, I finished in seven months, so I guess it took about ten months to write what I call a first draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I’m going to have to pass on this one. Most every novel I read is contemporary, but I’m not familiar with one I can compare to this story. My favorite author is Anne Tyler, so I’m sure her style has influenced mine.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? After I finished writing The Brevity of Roses, my characters refused to stop talking to me. In fact, as I was writing it, I kept thinking about what would happen to them past the point I planned to end the book. So while I was still editing Brevity, I started writing out scenes and snatches of dialogue that would, mostly, become part of An Illusion of Trust. An image that haunted me, from a scene that didn’t make it into Illusion, was the impetus for a particular element in this book.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I don’t want you to leave you with the impression this story is relentless doom and gloom. As those who’ve read the first part of Jalal and Renee’s story already know, they indulge in a healthy dose of smartass humor. And marriage certainly hasn’t turned down the heat between them. ;-)

~~~

Now, in a week or two, each of these fine authors will tell you about their next big thing. Visit their blogs today and subscribe, if you haven’t already, so you won’t miss learning about three more good books to watch for.

Natasha Alexander

Anne Gallagher

Jessica Luton

If you’d like to help me build a buzz for An Illusion of Trust, please click those cute little share buttons below.

elle

Impatience and writing don’t mix!

I’ve been more aware of my impatience writing this last novel. Losing three months due to illness, made me feel rushed to get back on schedule. It didn’t matter that the schedule was self-imposed. I’d hoped to streamline my concept-to-publishing timeline this time. But haste makes waste—or typos, at least.

powEventually, after much writing, editing, and reading, reading, reading, I pronounced An Illusion of Trust as ready, done, finished. I sent out ARCs. Christa Polkinhorn and I exchanged ARCs. When she pointed out a few typos in Illusion, I decided to reread it one more time.

POW! WHAP! Ewwww …

I found a few more typos and many sentences that needed tweaking. Cassie Hart, another ARC reader, pointed me to the typos she’d noticed—a couple of which neither I nor Christa had caught. My concern wasn’t that the typos existed because I suspect my remaining ARC readers will catch another lurker or two, but what bothered me was where those typos occurred.

Not a single one of the edits we found were in a sentence as originally written. I edit as I write, so much of my first draft remains unchanged by subsequent edits. I created every one of those typos during later editing. In fact, I made most of them in the final-polish stage.

So as I correct these typos and tweak these sentences, I’m conscious to slow down, read each word and punctuation mark, so I don’t introduce another problem. For my next novel, when I think it’s at ARC stage, I’ll wait a week and then read it through ONE MORE TIME. Even then, with familiarity clouding the editing brain, I won’t catch every Pow and Whap, but I might avoid the Ewwww.

I hope you do too.

elle

Yes, we have a winner!

We have a winner in the book anniversary giveaway. I entered all the entrants’ names once, twice, three, four times per the rules and Random.org chose Christa Polkinhorn as the winner of the signed copy of The Brevity of Roses. Congratulations, Christa! Please send me your mailing address, so I can get your prize in the mail.

I’m sorry you couldn’t all win, but thank you for entering—and tweeting, plusing, and facebooking. I appreciate the free advertising. :-)

Seven Sentences

I owe an apology to my friend Darlene FosterA couple of weeks ago, she tagged me for the Lucky 7 Meme. Then, with the twin punctuation posts followed by my absenteeism, that fact slipped into the often murky swamp I call my memory. So … I’m sorry, Darlene, and thank you for choosing me.

The rules of this fun meme require that you turn to page 77 of your work in progress. I have two WIPs, one I’m not leaking a word of in public yet, and the other is a collection of short stories. Those stories are in no particular order at the moment, so I don’t know which page will end up in 77th spot. Instead, I’ve chosen my 7 sentences from page 7 of one of those stories.

In this scene from “Better Left Alone”, a middle-aged and newly divorced woman, is on her way to have lunch with a man she hasn’t seen since high school.

Teresa left home early. Two blocks from the restaurant, she pulled over to check her hair and makeup one last time and to slow her breathing. What impression would she make if she arrived disheveled and hyperventilating? She restarted the car, but then sat for a moment wondering at her sudden insecurity. Yes, as a giggly girl, she’d had a crush on Mark, but life had tempered her in the years since high school. She’d raised three children, ran a small business, and—yes, she had—managed to keep a marriage solid for most of twenty-seven years. She was Woman, and could roar with the best of them.

Now then, the rules of the meme say I have to pass it on to 7 other writers, so here’s my list:

  1. Alannah Murphy
  2. Jennifer Neri
  3. Laura Best
  4. Kat Magendie
  5. Christa Polkinhorn
  6. Dana Mason
  7. K.S. Bowers

If these fabulous women choose to accept this meme, they must:

  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP.
  2. Go to line 7.
  3. Copy down the next 7 sentences and post them as written.
  4. Tag 7 authors.
  5. Let them know.

If anyone else wants to play along, grab the logo and rules and post your excerpt. And don’t forget to let me know, so I can drop by to read your 7 sentences.