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Friday, January 27, 2012

Being a Mom and Maintaining Sanity = Hard Work

So last week, I finished the latest rounds of edits on my never-ending White Whale. Sometimes, I swear that manuscript will be tossed into my casket as the ongoing, never-finished, constantly-tweaked, work-in-progress. But regardless, this latest bout of round-the-clock revisions is behind me, so I thought I’d celebrate by giving myself the week off from writing. I’d just read a few books, hang out with the baby, watch a movie, clean out my inbox.

It’s been seven days, and I’m going crazy.



Truly, I’m amazed by how different my mental state is when I don’t write. I’m not sure if I felt this before, but since becoming a mother, I find I need this release—like chocolate or Starbucks. Not just because I enjoy writing, but because I enjoy thinking. I enjoy having something substantial that’s just mine.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that my beautiful bundle of joy isn’t rewarding in and of herself. She’s adorable and a lot of fun to hang out with these days. But I find that, personally, when I spend my days entirely focused on her—just playing, doing laundry, cooking baby food, cleaning the house—dinnertime comes and I’m antsy, snippy, and a little bit grumpy. (DH is probably happy I’m admitting this publicly.)



That’s why I think people say that being a stay-at-home mother is the hardest job in the world. Not just because raising a child who grows up to be a kind and intelligent member of society isn’t difficult, but also because for a mom do all that and still remain personally fulfilled is hard work. Being a kickass mom and not feeling like you’re going insane at the end of the day is hard work.

In my opinion, in order to achieve this, I think women need to claim something for themselves—whether it’s writing, or work, or jogging, or cooking like Martha Stewart. A woman needs something that will make her happy first so she can make her children happy second.

I have writing. And I think I’m going to make sure I incorporate into every one of my days now. I’m sure Juliet will appreciate the happier mom she gets as a result. And I’m sure I’ll appreciate the day I can say my White Whale is officially complete (and published).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sink Your Teeth Into Something FANGTASTIC With GCC Member Lucienne Diver

If you miss Buffy (and who doesn’t?), then I have the perfect replacement to fill the void in your heart—the Vamped Series by GCC Member Lucienne Diver. Her latest installment, FANGASTIC, just came out this month through Flux, and it sounds amazing!

As always, here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

What do you wear to face down a cadre of killer kids?

Gina Covello would rather be working on her manicure than missions for the Feds’ paranormal unit to which she’s been recruited. That changes when a group of killer kids takes out a family in the sunshine state and disappearances begin to plague the lifestylers who only play at the kind of existence our fanged fashionista leads. She and her crew are sent undercover into the vampire clubs…which turn out to be run by real vampires. While Gina’s BFF Marcy hangs with the steampunk-styled Burgess Brigade that spawned the killer kids, Gina herself is supposed to get in good with the fanged fiends behind the scenes, even to the point of playing double-agent, offering to hand over her powerful boyfriend Bobby. Her playacting threatens to become a bit too real when she discovers things about her spy handlers that make her wonder whether she’s truly on the right side of the battle between Feds and fangs.

Here’s what Lucienne had to say:

Q: In ADIOS TO ALL THE DRAMA, Mariana is a bridesmaid in her cousin's wedding. How many times have you been a bridesmaid and what's the worst dress you ever wore?
Lucienne: I’ve been a bridesmaid three times, and I have to say that none of the brides made me wear anything truly hideous! My sister had a hippy style outdoor wedding, and I’ve even worn that dress again, although it’s hand wash and I have an aversion to clothes that are more high maintenance than me. I’m pretty sure that couldn’t be said for my heroine in the Vamped series. I refer to her as the fashionista of the fanged. You don’t know high maintenance until you take away a glam girl’s reflection and compromise her ability to do her hair and make-up.

Q: I've used some of my personal background in each of my novels. Did you take any snippets from your real life when writing your latest book? Base any characters on real people?

Lucienne: My hero and heroine draw a little from people I know, but they’re not a direct correlation. For example, Bobby might get his killer blue eyes and shaggy dark hair from my husband, who’s also, come to think of it, a geek boy just like him. Hmm. Aside from that, part of Fangtastic is set in a club where the vampire lifestylers like to hang out, which turns out to be run by actual vamps. There’s a place something like this in Tampa (where Fangtastic is set), and one or two of the characters might be drawn, at least physically, from some of the colorful characters I saw there when I went to research.

Q: Let's talk publishing. What was harder for you, finding an agent or an editor? Why?

Lucienne: It wasn’t harder for me to find an agent. (She’s the one who in turn found me an editor.) However, I’ve had a few snarky comments from people who think I’ve gotten published because I have some sort of in. Oh, if only it worked that way! Publishing is a business, and no matter who you know, editors have to get second and third reads, run it past marketing, run profit and loss statements (P&Ls), and take it through an acquisitions meeting. The editorial director has to green light any offer made and the amount. I can’t just take a novel to my good friend down the street and expect him/her to buy the book because we’ve had a few laughs over drinks. If the acquisition doesn’t make financial sense, if the publisher doesn’t think it will sell in sufficient quantities to earn back their investment with interest, it doesn’t get bought.

Q: Where did the idea for you latest novel come from?

Lucienne: I’m a forensic show junkie. (Actually, when I first graduated college, I applied to graduate schools for forensic anthropology and to agencies and publishers for entry level positions. Publishing got back to me first.) I saw a segment years ago about the vampire killings in Florida. A teenager who thought (or at least said he thought) that he was a 500 year-old vampire recruited others and led them to murder the parents of an ex-girlfriend. Luckily, they were caught. This made an impression on me, and when it came time to set a vampire novel in the sunshine state (I like the irony), that story rose to the forefront of my mind. Of course, there’s a lot more going on in Fangtastic, as my heroine, Gina Covello, discovers some things about her spy club handlers that make her wonder if she’s on the right side in the war of Fed vs. fang.

Q: Where were you when you found out that your latest novel was going to be published? Tell us the story.

Lucienne: I almost always seem to be in an airport when offers are made for my work. If I’m remembering right, though, this time I was shopping in New York at a store called Mango Mango. One thing my heroine and I have in common, we love to shop!

Thank you, Lucienne! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Go A Little Goth With UNRAVELING ISOBEL By GCC Member Eileen Cook

Why do all gothic mansions have to be haunted? Because they’re just creepy, that's why—especially if you’re forced to live there with some creepy step-father. That is why you must read GCC Member Eileen Cook’s new book, UNRAVELING ISOBEL, out this month through Simon Pulse.

As always, here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the Internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.

But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong
reasons.

Here’s what Eileen had to say:

Q: In ADIOS TO ALL THE DRAMA, Mariana is a bridesmaid in her cousin's wedding. How many times have you been a bridesmaid and what's the worst dress you ever wore?
Eileen: I happen to be one of those people that other people like to have in their wedding. I think they’re counting on me to provide the comic relief. I’ve been a bridesmaid around a dozen times. Most of the dresses were pretty decent (how’s that for lucky?) but one of them was a shamrock green color that made me look like I was getting over a raging case of malaria.

Q: I've used some of my personal background in each of my novels. Did you take any snippets from your real life when writing your latest book? Base any characters on real people?

Eileen: I don’t tend to base my characters on any real people, but I do steal little details here and there, the way someone dresses or a quirky habit. One of the best things about being a writer is the chance to people watch all the time and daydream and get to call it work. I have to go to the coffee shop and listen in on other conversations- it’s research!

Q: Let's talk publishing. What was harder for you, finding an agent or an editor? Why?

Eileen: The hardest thing for me was finding my agent. The biggest reason was that when I first started looking, I wasn’t actually ready. I thought I was ready. I was sure the book I had written was genius! It was only after every living soul who worked in publishing shot me down that I realized that maybe the book wasn’t as good as I thought. I went back to work and wrote another book, Unpredictable, and that became my first published book.

Q: Where did the idea for you latest novel come from?

Eileen: I work as a counselor and am interested in mental health issues. I think one of the most difficult things about having mental illnesses is that you can’t trust your own perception of reality. How do you cope when you aren’t sure what you see and hear is real? I decided I wanted to write about Isobel who struggles with trying to figure out if she’s seeing a ghost, if she’s going crazy, or if her step dad is trying to make everyone think she’s crazy so he can get rid of her.

Plus, I’ve always loved gothic novels. I love creepy old houses, buried family secrets and the potential for a ghost or two. Not to mention a cute boy in the picture.

Q: Where were you when you found out that your latest novel was going to be published? Tell us the story.

I’m very lucky in that I work with a great team at Simon Pulse. I had recently finished my book, The Education of Hailey Kendrick. I was having lunch with friends and my agent called to tell me that my editor was offering me a two-book deal for whatever I wanted to write next. I didn’t even have a story idea yet. I was thrilled. I convinced my friends to join me for a celebration!

Thank you, Eileen! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Don't TOUCH GCC Member Laurie Faria Stolarz

Seeing the future isn’t all it’s cracked up to be according to the latest installment in GCC Member Laurie Faria Stolarz’s YA series, DEADLY LITTLE VOICES, out this month through Disney/Hyperion Books for Children. I must say that the covers for this series are gorgeous! Love them, love them!

As always, here’s a little bit about her book to get you hooked:

Camelia Hammond thought her powers of psychometry gave her only the ability to sense the future through touch. But now she’s started to hear voices. Cruel voices. Berating her, telling her how ugly she is, that she has no talent, and that she'd be better off dead. Camelia is terrified for her mental stability, especially since her deranged aunt with a suicidal history, has just moved into the house. As if all of that weren't torturing enough, Camelia's ex-boyfriend, Ben, for whom she still harbors feelings and who has similar psychometric abilities, has started seeing someone else. Even her closest friends, Kimmie and Wes, are unsure how to handle her erratic behavior.

With the line between reality and dream consistently blurred, Camelia turns to pottery to get a grip on her emotions. She begins sculpting a figure skater, only to receive frightening premonitions that someone's in danger. But who is the intended victim? And how can Camelia help that person when she’s on the brink of losing her own sanity?

Here’s what Laurie had to say:

Q: In ADIOS TO ALL THE DRAMA, Mariana is a bridesmaid in her cousin's wedding. How many times have you been a bridesmaid and what's the worst dress you ever wore?
Laurie: I’ve been a bridesmaid twice. The first time I wore a dress that was too big, the fabric of which (grayish-purple and super thick) reminded me of couch material. The second time, the dress was this horrible bright red, skin-tight, low-cut glossy-taffeta sheath that I could barely sit in.

Q: I've used some of my personal background in each of my novels. Did you take any snippets from your real life when writing your latest book? Base any characters on real people?

Laurie: I don’t base anything directly on my own personal background. Though, I do steal character quirks from others (or sometimes myself). For example, in the Blue is for Nightmares series, Amber carries around a pair of chopsticks for whenever she’s eating out. I once knew someone who did that. In the Touch series, Camelia's mom is a vegan- raw-foods health nut and a touch of that comes from me. I'm nowhere near as crazed as Camelia's mom, but I am vegan 98% of the time.


Q: Let's talk publishing. What was harder for you, finding an agent or an editor? Why?

Laurie: Finding an editor, for sure. I think it’s hard to find an agent when you haven’t been published before. So, I found an editor on my own. Once I had a couple deals behind me, it was much easier to find an agent.

Q: Where did the idea for you latest novel come from?

Laurie: I wanted to write a story where the main character has to struggle with the idea of falling in love with someone who could potentially be dangerous. I tinkered with this concept in the first three books of my Blue is for Nightmares Series [(Blue is for Nightmares (Llewellyn 2003), White is for Magic(Llewellyn 2004), and Silver is for Secrets (Llewellyn 2005), as well as in Bleed (Hyperion 2006)]. InBleed, in particular, there’s a young male character who was convicted for the murder of his girlfriend. His next relationship consists of pen pal letters he exchanges with a young girl while he’s in prison. Without giving too much away, the relationship is briefly pursued once he is released, but I wanted to bring this concept to another level.

Additionally, I wanted to continue experimenting with the supernatural (which I also use in my Blue is for Nightmares Series as well as in Project 17), showing how we all have our own inner senses and intuition, and how with work we can tap into those senses and make them stronger. I started researching different types of supernatural powers and discovered the power of psychometry (the ability to sense things through touch). The concept fascinated me, and so I wanted to bring it out in a character, showing how sometimes even the most extraordinary powers can also be a curse.

Lastly, I wanted to apply these concepts to be part of a series. I love the idea of growing main character over the course of several books.

Thank you, Laurie! Now, everyone go out and buy books, lots and lots of books!

Copyright © 2008 Diana Rodriguez Wallach, All Rights Reserved