Love, plotting and New Age publishing with guest author, Lena Hart

Happy Monday all! (I can’t believe I said that.)

And although we–in the New Jersey, tri-state area–are bracing for the monster storm of Hurricane Sandy, I’m still glad it’s Monday. I’m also thrilled to have author Lena Hart as my guest today.  First things first …welcome Lena!

LH: Thanks Nett for giving me the opportunity to be here!

Lena and I met a couple of weeks ago at the NJRW Writer’s Conference, and I’ve been waiting on pins and needles to have a chance to talk to Lena about her life as a newly published author. So, let’s get to it!

NR:  How long have you been writing?

LH: I’ve been writing for fun since I was 14 years old but decided to start writing “professionally” (i.e. to make money, lol) in 2007.

NR: How did you discover your love for writing?

LH: When I was in the 8th grade, my Language Arts teacher had us create five characters and write a screenplay about them. She loved the “whodunit” play so much, she encouraged me to go into playwriting. (But of course my plan was to become a doctor.) Needless to say, many years later, I am no doctor but I had so much fun writing that year, I’ve been writing ever since.

NR: And what about your work? What drives your stories?

LH: Good question… I don’t know. Characters and scenes just come to me and I write them down. That’s probably why I have a lot of stories started and very little finished (lol). Most times I have to sit down and channel my characters to get the full story out but the real fun comes from having them pop up when I least expect it. It’s inconvenient, but fun. 🙂

NR: Congratulations on your first book! Can you tell us about it?

LH: Thank you! And of course – here it goes:

Sabrina Monroe and Jake Landon are caught in a tug of war between love and trust. A hurt Sabrina wants nothing more than to forget about Jake and the fierce love they once shared. A wary yet determined Jake wants to bury the past and start anew. When old feelings and desires are reawakened, Sabrina struggles to keep her distance – and protect her heart. But it’s a losing battle she’s not even sure she wants to win. With Jake determined to gain back her love, Sabrina is left longing for his trust. In a fight for “all or nothing,” they’ll soon discover that even an imperfect love can triumph over all.

NR: Are there any takeaways you want readers to experience after they’d read it.

LH: That true love does triumph over all. And everything else, i.e. trust, forgiveness, happiness will follow.

NR: With all the various ways to publish nowadays, which route did you take, traditional or self-publication, and why?

LH: Neither, I think. I classify “traditional” as seeking an agent to get into one of the Big 6+Harlequin so I’d consider my route more “New Age.” I found an established e-publisher that believed in my story and the rest is history J. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with self-publishing or going the “traditional” route but they didn’t factor in my strategy for building my “author brand.”

NR: What’s your writing process/schedule like?

LH: My process is more of a “panster,” I guess. I usually start with the character profile, a logline, and a high-concept blurb – and that’s my outline! I find that if I do too much plotting, I get bored with the story. But I do have a blank plotting board for the moments I do get stuck. And I don’t really have a writing schedule. My life is so unpredictable I just have to find the time. There are weeks I get more writing done then others, but because I’m a night owl, most of it’s done at night and on the weekends.

NR: Writing is tough. What advice would you offer to aspiring writers or writers in general?

LH: I agree, it is! But it can also be fun, liberating, and rewarding. My advice for fellow writers would be:

1) Write what you’re passionate about. Don’t follow a trend – just write what you love.

2) Build your “brand.” What do you want to be known for? What’s your strategy to get there?

3) Join a writing group. It’s the best way to keep the momentum going.

4) Read. Read books, articles, blogs, etc on writing, the publishing industry, and within your genre.

5) Keep writing! Aim to write every day, even if it’s just a paragraph or a page a day.

NR: What a way to start the week! Lena, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your wonderful news and insight.

LH: Thank you again, Nett, for having me as a guest on your blog today!

Lena Hart is currently working on several literary projects, while obtaining her MA in English Language & Literacy. Her debut novella, BECAUSE YOU LOVE ME, is currently available through Secret Cravings Publishing. To learn more about Lena and her work, visit www.LenaHartSite.com or you can find her rambling at scatblogging.blogspot.com   

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TGIF: Meet and Greet, Goosebumps and Mergers

TGIF!

Another week under our belts and I hope you have something fun planned, even if it’s lounging around and doing nothing. 🙂

This Saturday consist of a meet and greet with members of my new critiquing group.  My critiquing partner, author J Gavin Allan, and I joined a talented critiquing group, which consists of paranormal, contemporary and fantasy romance writers. I’m excited about collaborating and sharing information.  It should be a great experience because when you’re going for gold in the publishing business, you need all the encouragement and support you can get!  ::: WAVING TO THE LADIES  :::::

Just a couple of items of interest to pass on.

If you’re a fan of best-selling author R.L. Stine, (Goosebumps) or have a teenager or pre-teen in your life who loves him, he will be featured on SiriusXM Radio to celebrate the release of his latest novel, “Red Rain,” and the 20th Anniversary of “Goosebumps.”   I can’t believe it’s been 20 years!  My youngest daughter loved, “Goosebumps.”

SiriusXM’s Author Confidential with R.L. Stine will air Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 8:00 pm and replays on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 10:00 pm and Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm on Book Radio channel 80.  All times are Eastern Standard Time.   

The author is also host of SiriusXM Boo!k Radio beginning Friday, October 26 at 7:00pm ET and continuing through Halloween.  In celebration of the holiday, Boo!k Radio will air radio dramas and classic horror novels continuously. 

Speaking of scary things …

Just when you thought the publishing industry couldn’t get any scarier, something comes along to make you shake your head, and say, “It figures.”  In the midst of the ever-increasing battle between traditional and e-publishing, two traditional publishers are talking merger to no doubt compete and fortify themselves against Amazon, Apple and Google.

Guess who? Random House and Penguin. Hmm …

Some of their blockbuster authors include Dan Brown, Toni Morrison and John Grisham of Random House and Junot Diaz and Patricia Cornwell of Penguin. It will be very interesting to see what transpires if this occurs.

Until Monday, take care and do you.

Batman’s Lady: Sexy. Vulnerable. Wicked. Varied.

I love Batman. Well, if you count the original with Adam West and the Dark Knight series with Christian Bale, I LIKE Batman. And although he’s a talented actor, I’m lukewarm with Val Kilmer’s Batman Forever. I did enjoy Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face. Go figure.

Bottom line, my allegiance is to Michael Keaton’s portrayal. Last night, I watched Batman and Batman Returns (for the fiftieth time), and had a brain scramble. (Thoughts that pop in without order or reason.)

I started to analyze the evolution of Catwoman and the women who brought her to life. (I know. It’s right up there with splitting an atom!)

According to historical data, “Batman’s creator, Bob Kane, was a great movie fan and his love for film provided the impetus for several Batman characters, among them, Catwoman. She was primarily inspired by Hedy Lamarr and partially inspired by 1930s film star Jean Harlow who at Kane’s then-early and “impressionable age… seemed to personify feminine pulchritude at its most sensuous.”

Who knew?

Wikipedia goes on to say, “Wanting to give his Batman comic books sex appeal and someone who could appeal to female readers as a female Batman, Kane and writer Bill Finger created a ‘friendly foe who committed crimes but was also a romantic interest in Batman’s rather sterile life.’ She was meant to be a love interest and to engage Batman in a chess game with him trying to reform her. At the same time, this character was meant to be different from other Batman villains like the Joker in that she was never a killer or evil.”


And if you’re familiar with the movies of Hedy Lamarr and Jean Harlow, there’s no doubt that the core of Catwoman’s personality is sensuality.

All the women who have portrayed Catwoman over the years, brought their own special finesse and style to the character.

Julie Newmar. BATMAN (THE TV SERIES) 1966
Lee Meriwether. BATMAN: THE MOVIE (1966) and BATMAN (THE TV SERIES) 1966

Eartha Kitt. BATMAN (THE TV SERIES) 1968
Michelle Pfeiffer. BATMAN RETURNS (1992)
Maggie Baird. BIRDS OF PREY (2002)
Julia Rose. BATMAN: RETURN TO THE BATCAVE: THE MISADVENTURES OF ADAM AND BURT (2003)
Halle Berry. CATWOMAN (2005)
Anne Hathaway. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES  (2012)

Actresses who lent their voices as this “good to be bad” character in animated series or programs include Gina Gershon, Melendy Britt, Adrienne Barbeau and Courtney Thorne Smith. (yes, of Melrose Place and Ally McBeal fame.)


During the 1960’s, which embodied war protests, peaceful sit-ins and the sexual revolution, American TV tested the waters of sexuality with sitcoms such as Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. However, they skimmed the surface when it came to programming, where the target audience was children. In the Batman TV series, Judy Newmar, played the part with womanly (or feline) wiles and suppressed sexuality.

By the ‘90s, the gloves were off, and it was full-blown sexuality both in TV and cinema. Which is why, I think Michelle Pfieffer’s portrayal of Catwoman is closer to the character than those of her predecessors.

She embodied the smoldering character created by Kane and Finger, and brought  sexiness, vulnerability and wickedness. And the things she did with that whip? Enough said.

IMHO the role of Catwoman will always belong to Michelle Pfeiffer. She is such a class act in any role she plays. It was nice to see her cuddle up and then go toe-to-toe with Batman. The footprint she left behind is huge and I’m not sure any actress after her will be able to fill it. We will see.


Anne Hathaway is a good actress and tried to make the role of Catwoman her own. In all fairness, her portrayal stayed truer to the fact that Catwoman was a cat burglar with expensive taste. However, something was missing. Hey, that’s just me.

Julie Newmar, the original Catwoman is my second favorite, followed by Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt and Halle Berry. Yes, the plot in CATWOMAN wasn’t that great. But Halle wore the hell out of that outfit.

My favorite line, (and probably quite a few folks enjoy it) is between Selena (Catwoman) and Bruce (Batman) in Batman Returns.

Selina Kyle: A kiss under the mistletoe. You know, mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.
Bruce Wayne: But a kiss can be even deadlier… if you mean it.

NOTE TO SELF: (Is there room for a Catwoman-like character in one of my books? Must think about that.)

So, which Catwoman did you purrfer? Sorry, couldn’t resist! Just a brain scramble for Thursday’s Toss.

Beat it Buffy. Behold the adverb slayer …

One of the first (and quickest) lessons you learn as a writer of fiction is that adverbs are bad. Verbs and nouns are good. Repeat. Adverbs bad. Verbs and nouns good. 🙂

When I went from writing a monthly column in a corporate magazine to writing fiction, my thinking required some adjustment–not because I used adverbs with wild abandon. But because I’ve seen them used often in other works of fiction, (especially those written way back when) including romance.

In corporate writing, there isn’t time for flowery prose or description. You stick to the facts, and if it’s an interview (which most of my columns were) you stick to the story as told by the person you’re  interviewing.

In that sense, my magazine writing toughened me up for the battle ahead–the one to rid my fictional writing of adverbs.  Although I LOVE English and diagramming sentences, I agree that adverbs weaken the best of prose or a good book. And when you’re searching for an agent, editor or readers, that’s unacceptable.

The reader shouldn’t have to see your character “walk briskly” or hear them “yell loudly.” Allow them stride and scream their way onto the page. Instead of saying, “The cat ran quickly up the tree.” try writing, “The cat scurried up the tree.”

Simple? Right? Mmm …maybe not. It seems the more creative we try to be, the harder it gets to leave those ugly adverbs at bay.

You might say there are best-selling authors who use adverbs all the time. And I would agree. However, I would also suggest waiting until you’re pulling in a six-figure advance before flexing those muscles.

Stephen King is a great example of a best-selling novelist who believes in the no adverbs rule.

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day . . . fifty the day after that . . . and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s–GASP!!–too late.”
(Stephen KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Scribner, 2000)

As writers of fiction, we must make a conscious effort to do away with words that lessen the impact of our stories. Adverbs must be banished from our WIPS, and future stories. They must be plucked from our front lawns.

Slay all adverbs!

For courage and guidance, I offer the Adverb Slayer’s Creed, composed by yours truly. (Yes, the craziness exists in all forms**)

Oh, and pick a cool name like Van Helsing, Selene Nyx, Blade, Jack Crow or okay, Buffy, if you just can’t think of another slayer’s name.

Recite the creed each time you put pen to paper or finger to key. Memorize it if you must.  It will strengthen your craft and your resolve as a writer.

THE ADVERB SLAYER’S CREED

You are of the Old Ones, revered and worshipped by those who dare to bleed at their typewriter and on their keyboard. You seek refuge in authors still too unsure to express themselves through the written word, without the lore of “ly.”

You plot to control emotions, and time within works in progress with little regard to the strength of verbs and nouns.

Demonic excuses for prose, you lurk behind dialog tags, lessening their usefulness and potency, which brings clumsiness to each line, and sloppiness to each paragraph.

Said, Scribes Mark Twain and Stephen King masters of prose before us, you serve no purpose. Leave the spirited verb to stand on its own. And with the aid of our trusted noun, each page will resonate with all who read them.

Be gone, wicked word of weakened prose …

Be gone, cruel captor of all creative thoughts …

I (Fill in your name), am the Adverb Slayer and I write better without you!

** I’ve play the game Mortal Kombat a little too often and I love History, in particular the 18th century. However, it would have been quite difficult to write with a quill and by candlelight. But the gowns were beautiful.

Seek and ye shall find …

After I blogged about the possibility of venturing into self-pubbing, I went in search of a past article that featured a “to-do list,” for all self-published authors.

In the past 12 hours, I’ve destroyed my office in search of the electronic and hard copy of this article, gave my dog good reason to wonder why the hell he chose to live with me, and gave my neighbors proof that “The writer” next door really has a few screws loose.

But it doesn’t matter because I found it!

The article, 8 Things Readers Want from Self-Published Authors, which was posted in the May, 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest, offers a “to do” list for the discerning self-published author, who wants to be taken seriously. I thought this relevant topic was worth sharing and reading again.

The top three to-do’s:

Hire professionals for editing, proofreading, and design.
Put most of your cost toward editing. That means, aside from development or content editing, you must eliminate all proofreading errors and typos if you want to be taken seriously. Evelyn Lafont also recommends using beta readers to put out quality work.
Hire a conversion house for clean e-book formatting. (By the way, TheGreenStudy offered that bit of advice in our discussion about self-publishing. Way to go!)

You may want to take a look at The “Self-Pub Is Crap” Debate, which served as the catalyst for the to-do list.

This time around, I’m making a copy to hang on my wall and I’m storing one in Google docs just before I clean up the mess that is now my office.

Enjoy.

Will we like Newsweek’s digital makeover?

The digitalization of Newsweek is another demonstration of the change and, for some, the demise of print publication. Although I shouldn’t be, I’m always a little surprised when another newspaper or magazine either closes its doors, or goes digital. I guess it’s because I grew up with all the print publications, and had them delivered to my door, as did my parents.

Although I wasn’t a frequent Newsweek reader, I would purchase it on occasion particularly if it was an interesting issue. From the cover to the photos inside, Newsweek was a beautifully produced magazine. The change in the way they do business is just another example of the evolving face of print publishing. All publishing for that matter.

I remember when the Newark Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, downsized its operations because of declining circulation, and decreased their newsroom staff by 40 percent by offering the employees a buyout.

Many of the large papers such as the New York Times and Wall St. Journal have undergone the same scenario. Both publications, now offer electronic subscriptions, for the reader who prefers their news electronically. However, I don’t think they’ll see the numbers they once did in their heyday. After all, as the article “Decline of an industry” states, “the news is free.”

Since I look for story ideas everywhere–especially the news–I subscribe to USA Today, but electronically. It’s convenient getting the issues on my Nook or iPad, and I’ll always have it in my story library.

I admit, it’s changed the way I read the paper.  How about you? Has the change in print publications changed the way you get your news?

The Decline of an industry is definitely worth reading. I hope you find it interesting.

Happy Monday!

Microsoft “Surfaces” with a new tablet and I’m just looking

TGIF!

We made it to another Friday, just in time for the mounting technology frenzy. I admit I’m a technophile and usually have to have the latest and greatest, especially if it makes my writing life easier. Yet for some reason, I’m not feeling the pressure to buy.
(Woo Hoo! I’m cured!)

(Credit: Josh Lowensohn/CNET)
Microsoft’s Surface tablet is hitting the scene on Oct. 26, and while it looks really slick, I’m not clamoring to buy one. I STILL love my IPad.

HOWEVER …I am checking out the features!

The Surface will run on two different platforms, Windows RT and Windows Pro. It seems light enough to carry around, just like the iPad. I’m going to assume it has all the apps for standard Microsoft features such as Word etc. What’s the point if you can’t write on the go?

The pricing is about the same: the $499 32GB version without a Touch Cover. But the $599 32GB and $699 64GB models, both have the Touch Cover included. You if buy the $499 edition, it doesn’t come with the Touch Cover so you have to spend an extra $120 for one.
(Credit: Josh Lowensohn/CNET)
The Type Cover keyboard (which is nice protection for sticky fingers and dust) that Microsoft offers would cost an extra $130. In the long run, it’s probably worth it to buy at least the 32GB, so you can get the Touch Cover. You’re doing to spend extra for the Cover anyway.

CNET reports on its functionality and some of the highlights they’ve tested. Here’s a rundown of the official specs that they provide:

Surface (Windows RT) tablet key specs
• Windows RT operating system
• Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU
• 9.3mm thick
• 676 grams/23.85 ounces
• 10.6-inch ClearType HD Display
• 31.5 watt hour battery
• Ports: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro-HD video, 2×2 MIMO antennas
• Storage options: 32GB and 64GB for Windows RT
• Front- and rear-facing “HD” cameras

Surface (Windows Pro) tablet key specs
• Windows 8 operating system
• Intel third-generation Core i CPU
• 13.5mm thick
• 903 grams/31.85 ounces
• 10.6-inch ClearType “Full HD” Display
• 42 watt hour battery
• Ports: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort video
• Storage options: 64GB and 128GB
• Front- and rear-facing “HD” cameras

Microsoft is allowing people to reserve before the Oct. 26 release, which is cool. Building momentum always helps make money. From what I can see, it’s a thin tablet with a quite a bit to offer. I like the kickstand. Very slick.

(Credit: Josh Lowensohn/CNET)

If you’re in the market for a tablet, but don’t know where to start, CNET offers a comparison of prices and specs to get you going, in addition to their favorite picks. Although I’m not buying, I will go take a look in person, probably over the weekend with my grandson. You know …just because.

Today’s my grandson birthday. He’s four. And what kid wouldn’t like to go scope out the new Microsoft toy with his grandmother on their birthday weekend? 🙂 (Fun, fun!)

Hey, he loves me. Therefore, he puts up with me!

Have a great weekend! See you Monday.