Thursday, January 28, 2010
It's been a great week!! I've been having fun over on Amberkatze's Book Blog, doing an interview and answering questions from the readers. (We're giving away books on that site, too, so pop by, leave a comment, and have your name entered in the contest.) Also, I'm going to be running a contest on my website in the next couple of weeks.
That's it for now-got to fly. Again, thanks for all the comments and your support! See you next week!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
My beloved cabin is part of Byrdcliffe Art Colony in the Catskill Mountains, where I slaved over a hot manuscript for two summers, researching by day and writing by candlelight. I put in requests to the Woodstock Library for every book they had on serial killers, forensics, and other sordid topics. This was during the Bush administration, so I’m surprised they didn’t flag my library card – I kept expecting a Lincoln town car to pull into my driveway with two Men in Black wearing Ray Bans and ear pieces. I imagined being whisked away by the FBI or the NSA to languish in an Egyptian prison, where I would finally give up the names of my “handlers” – Pia and her colleagues at the Woodstock Library, where they don’t charge late fees, because, according to Pia, “We tried it once, but it was too much trouble.”
Such is the spirit of Ulster County at its best, and such were my summers, where recreation playing an old upright piano and Killer Ping Pong in the barn with fellow writers Randy Burgess and Katherine Burger, and composer/actor Anthony Moore. The closest I came that summer to real danger was the hike I took in the Catskills with Byrdcliffe colleague Alexandra Anderson and painter friend Lucy Nurkse. We entered the woods at about ten in the morning, thinking we’d be out by tea time. Our Three Hour Tour turned into a Death March that had us staggering out around sunset, covered with mosquito bites and poison ivy, down to our last bottle Evian. I’m not sure which of us was Ginger and which was Marianne, but I’m pretty sure I was Gilligan. We’re still not sure why our copious maps led us astray, but I learned something that day:
The woods takes no prisoners.
So I came back to my cabin, settled in with a bottle of ibuprofen and a cup of coffee from Monkey Joe in Kingston, and worked on my manuscript. I had a first draft by the end of the second summer there, and . . . well, the rest, as they say, is history. Or silence – as in Silent Screams.
I wrote the sequel at Hawthornden Castle, an international retreat for writers in Scotland where I was a Fellow (I love saying that) last January. The castle was a medieval structure which provided shelter to William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, during their rebellions against the British crown. I hiked through the glens to Wallace’s Cave, where he allegedly camped while in hiding from the English. The castle was later owned by poet Lord William Drummond, and now is a retreat for writers owned by the heir to the Heinz corporation. So every packet of ketchup sold by McDonalds helps support working writers.
In Scotland, I learned to eat haggis (notice I didn’t say “liked”), took long hot baths in a tub the size of the East River, and was taken very good care of by the wonderful Scottish staff. They kept tea out for us at all times, which was good, since the castle is not centrally heated, and Scotland in January will freeze your tatties off.
Since words can hardly do justice to a landscape that, even in January, brought tears to my eyes almost daily, I’m attaching some pictures from my various hikes and adventures. My fellow writers included two wonderful British poets and a lovely Russian writer who spoke no English. We communicated through a computer translator, which was rather like being on a bad episode of Star Trek.
Ah, Scotland! Ah, Ulster! I long to return to you soon . . .
Silent Screams has been picked up by Verlag Press in Germany, and both Silent Screams and the sequel, Silent Victim, have been sold to Audible Books.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
But it is a lot of fun. And it started me thinking: Wouldn't it be fun to start a Facebook application that lets me give prizes to my readers? Or anybody who plays the game, really. So here's the scoop - in honor of the release of A Tale of Two Demon Slayers, I've created a custom Facebook adventure for Pirate, the dog.
It's called Pirate's Journey and it follows our favorite Jack Russell Terrier on a cross-country road trip as he tracks an Elvis-impersonating demon. Players collect items like strips of bacon and jars of biker witch magic; they help brew spells to earn money; and players who complete the journey get a prize code that they can redeem for signed cover flats, Kiss My Asphalt biker witch t-shirts, and even chocolate turtles (in homage to the toasted turtle knees that the biker witches use in so many of their spells).
So check out Pirate's Journey, and hit the road with Pirate and the biker witches!
Monday, January 25, 2010
I'm not saying anything more than I am judging, but I realized something. Lately I haven't read anything unless I had to read it. That is very sad. I love reading. Perhaps that is part of the problem. I get so sucked into books I'm reading, I don't look up.
That can be a problem with small children, a dog, two cats and a hubby underfoot. Once when I was in college, I actually ran into a pole because I tried to read and walk at the same time. Yeah, not such a good idea.
I get so absorbed in what I'm reading, my focus completely blocks out everything else. I wish I could be that way when I write, but any little thing can pull me away from my own words. I have to fight for concentration. But if I'm reading something I haven't written, I fall away into a brand new world.
I love that.
I guess I have to acknowledge that it is a bit of an addiction. I have eight books to read for the Ritas. I got them on Thursday, I think. It might have been Friday. I don't remember, because immediately my nose fell into a book, and it has been stuck there for days. I've already powered through three of them, and now my eyeballs ache. I know I won't give it a rest either, because I have to read them. I'm obligated. Lucky, lucky, me.
What is extra fun is I get to read a genre of books I haven't read in a long time. It's like coming back to a town I used to live in and seeing old friends. Old friends in kilts. Old friends in fancy ball gowns. Old friends on horseback.
It's nice to be back.
So how do I find some balance? How do I put a book down and stop thinking about it until I pick it up again? Honestly, people, how do I get some sleep?
Any advice would be helpful at this point. I'm tired.
But I'm happy.
Happy reading everyone,
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Every year, actually a couple of times a year, I reevaluate everything I'm doing. It is that time again, and this year I've decided I've let myself get too fragmented which is making me frazzled. I'm like a crow. I see a sparkly fun idea or opportunity and I jump on it. Unfortunately keeping track of all those fun sparkly things starts to get stressful. And that is where I am at.
So, I'm bringing it back in...leaving this blog and some others in the hope that I will use that time to blog more on my own site, produce a better newsletter of my own and hey, maybe write! Yeah, writing. That would be good.
Anyway, I wanted to stop by today, say goodbye and thank all of you for welcoming me into your little corner of the Internet. If you miss me, I'm not far away. I hope to be blogging back at my own site http://www.loridevoti.com/blog three times a week with actual planned out posts...rather than the mind leaks I've tended to give you here. So, stop by and say hi. And I'll be sure to drop in here too!
Happy writing and reading to all!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Next Tuesday, January 26th is a big day for me. THE SEVENTH WITCH will hit the bookstores! And back in 2004, when I signed my first contract for Ophelia and Abby, if anyone would have told me that the series would go this far, I'd have been amazed...and a little scared. I don't think I'd have had enough faith in myself to believe that I could write seven books.
But you know, like all journeys, one step has led to another, and I've been incredibly fortunate enough to meet the right person, at the right time. From my agent and editor to all the people who've generously given of their time to answer research questions, without them, I never would've been able to create this series. They've each put their stamp on Ophelia and Abby.
So without much ado, let's celebrate!! Post a comment, any comment, and your name will be entered in a drawing to win a signed copy of THE SEVENTH WITCH! AND, since this is the seventh book, you have seven chances to win!! That's right...I'm giving away seven copies! I'll announce the winners next Thursday.
That's it for now-see you next week!!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Who’s the Poe Toaster? That’s all part of the mystery. No one is sure. In fact, the only thing that’s certain is that every year on January 19 between midnight and 5:30 am, a mysterious, black-clad figure carrying a silver-tipped cane arrives at the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore where he (or she) drinks a toast at Poe’s grave and leaves three red roses and a half a bottle of Martell cognac.
That is, until yesterday.
Yesterday, the Poe Toaster never showed.
Jeff Jerome, curator of Edgar Allan Poe home, says he’s not stopping the vigil. In fact, he plans to keep it going until at least 2012.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Rosie is the winner of a hot-off-the-press copy of A Tale of Two Demon Slayers! Email me at angie @angie fox.com and we'll get that out to you!
Monday, January 18, 2010
In it, I had to write a stirring political speech. On today of all days, I know nothing I could ever make up could come close to the power of one man and the inspiration he has given all of us.
I can invent strife, I can invent inspiration and show you made up people inspired by it. The truth is, reality is so much more powerful than words. I'm humbled by a spirit that was able to change the world. I'm daunted by what I believe he would say now about the struggles we have yet to overcome. I'm inspired by his life and very saddened that he was taken from the world far too soon.
Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have a dream.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Some friends and I got into a conversation today about various social networking sites and which ones we like or don't like and what we expect from them/find at them.
I have to admit I've tried pretty much every social network invented. If I wasn't an author, I don't know that I would have, but even before I started writing I hung out on a few forums. So, maybe....
Anyway, last year I dropped Bebo and another site I can't even remember--which just shows how little I visited it. This year, I may scale down more. Because honestly just knowing I have a page out there somewhere not being updated is stressful to me--another guilt cloud constantly looming. And, as I've discussed before, I really don't need anymore guilt in my life. Who does?
For the record, there are really only two social networks I love and visit daily. Those are Twitter and Facebook. I love them so much, I find it hard to understand how others don't. Yes there are a ton of authors on them (especially Facebook) who want to be my "friend" for the sole purpose of selling me their book, and yes, if I had a stalker boyfriend he could find me there, but I also find and meet people who want to actually chat with me or who I would never have found and kept up with otherwise. To me that makes all the bad worthwhile. And honestly, hate to tell the just trying to sell me something people, but I ignore all their "invites" without even reading them and if they get too obnoxious, blithefully (without a trace of guilt) delete or block them from my life.
That's one thing social networking offers you that real life can't. Push a button delete. Cold? Yes. At times sweet? For sure.
So, how about you? Which social networking sites do you love? And which should you remove from your life? I know I've got a few targeted for the latter...
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Now beyond just the inconvenience that being without service causes me in my personal life, I really find this dependence on technology kind of scary. I read somewhere that technology is making our tasks easier, but our lives harder. And I'm afraid I have to agree. I'm never "caught up" (refer to those 1700 emails!). It seems that the more technology we acquire, the more things we have to do.
Am I going to ditch all this "stuff" and go back to a simpler time, without all the gadgets? Not bloody likely! I enjoy the benefits too much...I have my own personal trainer, in the comfort of my own home, thanks to my Wii; I can reach out and touch someone any time, any where, courtesy of my handy-dandy cell phone; I can order anything I want and have it delivered right to my door, without braving the crowds...AND I can even shop in my jammies; plus I have the privilege of meeting readers from all over the world via the blogs. So like many other situations, I'm just going to have to deal with it...use technology without letting it use me. Sounds good, doesn't it...I'll let you know how it works out! *g*
That's it for this week...I need to take a look at those emails! Oh, and btw, stop back next Thursday...to celebrate THE SEVENTH WITCH'S release, I'm going to do a contest!! Take care and have a good one!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
And on to the blog... You know, as an author, I obviously write a lot. And I read a lot (because that's just plain fun). But I also have this obsession with totally-useless fun quizzes. They just tickle me for some reason.
So for the release of A Tale of Two Demon Slayers, my friend Shawntelle and I came up with the What Supernatural Pet is Right for You? quiz
It came about because in the book, Lizzie's talking dog, Pirate finds a dragon egg. This was totally unplanned, by the way. These things just sort of happen as I write. Anyhow, the egg hatches and Pirate decides he has a pet. I mean, how fun for a pet - to own a pet. Lizzie is not happy about that. She has enough going on and doesn't think her dog needs to own a dragon.
So she tells Pirate to find a new home for Flappy (Pirate named him, not Lizzie). So Lizzie is battling evil people and losing track of what Pirate is doing. He keeps promising to find a new home for Flappy, but instead Pirate is hiding the dragon, and loving the dragon and teaching him tricks. Every time Lizzie realizes the dragon is still there, it's gotten bigger and bigger and, well, it's just one more thing she can't quite control.
And the whole time I'm writing the book, I'm thinking, "Holy heck, how am I going to get rid of this dragon?" In short, I don't. So in honor of Flappy the dragon, we present the Supernatural Pet quiz. If you want to take it and post your supernatural pet below, I'll give one lucky winner a shiny new copy of A Tale of Two Demon Slayers. Contest closes next Tuesday. Good luck!
Monday, January 11, 2010
Times have been kinda hard lately. For a lot of people that last statement is entirely too flippant to begin to take in their situation. Things are hard. Everyone seems to be stressed by something lately.
The question is, how do we respond?
As a romance reader, I tend to be an optimist, and I know I'm not alone in that. I want to believe everything will work out for the best in the end. I want to believe that everyone will be happy.
I know that is unrealistic. Not everyone will be happy. Not everyone can be happy. Happy isn't something that happens to you, it is a part of you. I believe happiness and love fill our spirits so we can shine in this world, and those good things will be what we carry to whatever lies beyond.
It's so easy in times of trouble to turn away from happiness and love. They seem like currency that we don't have enough of. As stress builds, so does anger, resentment, and hostility.
But all of those things will only crush us. There is only one person in this world we can control, and she looks back at you from your mirror. So when the world is dark and angry, the only weapons we have are understanding, patience, forgiveness, hope, and love.
As 2010 unfolds, I promise to give out as much goodness as I can. I wish it could be in the form of money, but alas, I don't seem to have any either. LOL
What I do have is love.
I plan to give it freely.
Who do you love out there, and why? Let's spread a little appreciation.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Today is Elvis' birthday. The day Elvis died is one of those days that I remember where I was when I heard the news. I was standing in my dining room (I can see the red vinyl and the oak sideboard) and a friend of my sister's who was a huge Elvis fan was over. As you know, this was in the 70's when he wasn't thought of in quite the same way he had been a decade earlier. It seemed unfair for him to die in that spot of time. He was the King, then he became the butt of jokes, then he was gone.
But Elvis was King. He was the kind of celebrity that I doubt we will ever have again. The only person I can think of who rivals him is Michael Jackson, but both of them rose to stardom in a different era--in a time when we just didn't have as many choices as we do today.
I grew up with two TV channels--three if the atmosphere was "just" right. Of course, I watched the Jackson Five, both live and animated. And I listened to whatever was on the radio--I didn't have the option of going to iTunes and downloading a garage band only a few hundred other people had heard of.
So, Happy Birthday to the King. I believe your reign will go unrivaled. I haven't decided if that is good or bad. Maybe I'll chat about that next week. What do you think? And where were you when you heard Elvis had truly left the building?
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
It’s been a busy week around here. In addition to celebrating the holidays then taking down and packing up all the decorations, I’ve started a new book.
Or I should say, I started writing a new book.
Because, you see, I’ve actually been working on the book for about three weeks now, even though I wasn’t writing a word. I’m an outliner, and I spent those three weeks walking through my story again and again, filling in details, coming up with clues, picturing scenes and fitting them in here and there until the whole thing meshed. I ended up with a 22-page outline, and a thought about how many different hats a writer wears.
Wearing the outlining hat, I plot and plan, working in details, thinking of twists and turns. I’ve heard writers say they never outline and to that I say: three cheers. But writing by the seat of my pants doesn’t work for me. Especially when I’m writing mysteries, I need the safety net of knowing that my plot will work out in a logical, reasonable way. There’s a lot of A-to-B-to-C thinking when it comes to outlining, but there’s a lot of creativity that goes into it, too. After all, every new idea fuels that A-to-B-to-C and without those crazy ideas, the plot would go nowhere.
Once that stage is finished, I can go onto the next phase, and wearing the next hat. That’s when I actually write the book. Though my outline says what’s going to happen, it often doesn’t say how, so there’s a lot of creativity involved at this stage, too. Then there’s the actual putting the words on the page (or in my case, the computer screen). Creativity galore, and lots of writing, rewriting, polishing, changing. It’s fun to put words in my characters’ mouths, and not so fun to remind myself that every one of those words has to have a place in my book or it’s got to go.
The writing stage is, of course, the longest and that’s a good thing, too. It means that once I get my brain in writing mode, it can stay there for three or four months and settle in.
When I’m done with a book, the writing hat comes off and the editing hat goes on. This is the most ruthless phase of the book process. It has to be. This is the phase where I need to question every one of those carefully chosen words and each and every plot point that I thought was brilliant only a few months before. A writer really does have to divorce herself from her work at this stage. Otherwise, it’s impossible to be impartial and without that impartiality, we can never know if our work is good, great, or simply passable.
So hand me my writing hat. I’m settling in! With any luck, Pepper Martin mystery #7 will be done in plenty of time to meet my April deadline.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
As I live in the UK, I naturally explored the local Celtic myths when I conceived my fantasy world for The Magic Knot fairies. I live in Devon, in the English West country. A short distance away is the county of Cornwall, an area with strong Celtic legends. The rolling countryside with its wooded valleys and mysterious lanes, its ancient houses and churches, and its megaliths and rugged coastline inspired me to base my fairy world there.
In each of the books in the series, I take my characters to a different place. In The Magic Knot, the characters go to Ireland. I had a wonderful time visiting Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains for research. In The Phoenix Charm, I send my characters to Wales to face the Welsh Fairy King, who is also King of the Underworld. In the third book (due out at the end of 2010), my hero ends up in Scotland trying to survive the machinations of the Unseelie and Seelie Scottish Fairy Courts. I visited Scotland in summer 2009 for research, and had a fantastic time exploring the countryside and visiting as many castles as I could cram into two weeks.
I wanted my fairy characters to be human sized, so I tweaked the existing mythology and made my Cornish piskies tall rather than small. (These are what we call pixies in most of England, but in Cornwall, they are called piskies.) The heroes of both the first two books in the series are Irish. I love the Irish accent. Combine that with dark hair and blue eyes and my sexy identical twin heroes sprang to life in my mind. The Irish Tuatha Dè Danaan are a noble race of fairies, supposedly descended from Greek gods, so they were ideal for my story. Just to mix things up a little, I gave my heroes some leprechaun blood as well. The hero of The Magic Knot has the leprechaun touch of luck, while Michael, the hero of The Phoenix Charm, inherited his powers from his father. I won't give away what his powers are as they are fundamental to the plot. (The title gives you a clue.)
Celtic mythology has provided the starting point for my fairy world, but I like to give the old myths a new spin and also introduce some ideas that are just my own. The character of Nightshade sprang from my imagination. He is a black vampiric fairy with wings and silver eyes. He is a major secondary character in the first two books of the series, and his own book, The Ruby Kiss, will be out at the end of 2010.
I've also included some Norse Mythology in my fairy world, although that only comes in to the later stories. A novella called The Frost Fairy set in the Magic Knot Fairy world, due out at the end of September 2010, is actually set in the Norse gods' kingdom of Asgard.
I really wanted to include a dragon in The Phoenix Charm as much of the action is set in Wales and a red dragon is pictured on the Welsh flag. Although the dragon is mentioned, I didn't manage to include it in the story until the third book.
I think the Tuatha Dè Danaan are my favorite mythological race. What is your favorite type of mythological character? One lucky commenter wins a copy of The Phoenix Charm.
Monday, January 4, 2010
Ah relief. I love the kiddos, but I never seem to get anything done during the holidays. Since my copy edits were due in on the 14th, I really haven't done much on the writing front. I had my birthday, Christmas, New Year, and all that goes with it.
I feel like I've been out of the saddle for months, but really it has only been a couple of weeks.
I'm recharged and ready to go. Sometimes I'm not sure where I'm going, but I'm going to go.
It's hard to get back in the saddle after a long writing break. I have to read what I've written again, and just spend a little bit of time getting a feel for how my newest characters think again. I know there are authors who write very consistently day to day, but I have to sit, wait, then go in a burning blaze of glory once a week.
Usually that means consistent production of a chapter a week I can count on. However, I'd like to push myself. I believe I can up the pace. Writing a book is like a marathon, but at this point I'm walking it. It's time to start jogging.
So how do you keep up the energy to keep writing day in and day out?
I'm not sure yet. When I was writing at my most productive, it was when I viewed my writing as what I wanted to do for myself in the evening. I certainly enjoy writing, but I've got to really want to do it. The good thing is, after this little break, I'm feeling twitchy.
I want to write. Runners want to run.
Let's see what happens when I put my feet to the floor.
How do you stay productive?