Finalist News and Weekend Plans

Once again, I want to send a big thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me and my writing career these past years.

I’ve got some exciting news to share…My debut novel, Along the Way Home, is a finalist for a 2013 RONE Award in the American Historical category. Though I’m unable to make the trip to Las Vegas for the awards ceremony this Friday, I have made arrangements to get updates via fellow Astraea Press (my publisher) authors who are attending.

I’ll keep you all posted!

CLICK HERE to see the list of all the nominees in all the categories.

And, they gave me this FANTASTIC finalist emblem to use, so here I go 😀

200x2014_RONE_Final_historical_american

 

 

 

 

What about you? Are you doing anything fun and exciting this weekend?

The Not-So-Glamorous Story of How I Got My Book Deal

Today I’m hosting Jillian Kent’s blog, and I’m featuring all the gritty, sad, and ultimately happy details of my journey to publication.

Click here for The Not-So-Glamorous Story of How I Got My Book Deal

Specifically, how I went from “Hey! I’ve got a really great idea for a book!” to signing the contract with Astraea Press.

And, there’s a prize package of writing goodies to one lucky commentor, so be sure to pop over and leave a comment to be entered to win.

Meet Guest Host (and Contest Judge) Moriah Densley

Tomorrow begins another fun writing contest here on the blog. I’ve rounded up great prizes which include books, a gift package especially designed for writers, and best of all, TWO critiques!

Today’s guest host (and the judge of my next contest which starts tomorrow) is Moriah Densley.

Moriah Densley sees nothing odd at all about keeping both a violin case and a range bag stuffed with pistols in the back seat of her car. They hold up the stack of books in the middle, of course. She enjoys writing about Victorians, assassins, and geeks. Her muses are summoned by the smell of chocolate, usually at odd hours of the night. By day her alter ego is your friendly neighborhood music teacher. Moriah lives in Las Vegas with her husband and four children.

 

And now, without further ado, here’s Moriah…

Tell us about your path to publication. What led you to pursue writing as a career?
 
For my day job I’m a musician. I never thought I’d want to be a commercial fiction author until last year. The last writing project I’d done was a research paper on violin pedagogy, so the first time I sat down to write a scene for what I didn’t realize was a historical romance, it felt really weird – almost guilty. Like a Weight Watchers reject hiding in the closet with a bag of Cheetos.
 
Once I started, I couldn’t stop. In a few weeks, I had a first draft finished, a 140K-word behemoth. It was terrible. Then I got to work. As I fed my reading addiction, I also learned craft, got an agent, and joined RWA and critique groups . . . all while producing manuscripts like the zombie apocalypse was coming tomorrow. I think I wrote five full-length books that year.
 
The “big six” just weren’t buying from debut authors, especially historical romance. The rejections piled in, and the “digital revolution” had everyone freaking out. (Are we still freaking out? I don’t know.) I’d exhausted every option available and hadn’t made a sale. I had three choices: quit, switch genres, or try the e-book market. After amicably parting ways with my agent, I queried e-book publishers big and small. What a contrast! Digital publishers work fast, and they’re more flexible in what they’ll accept. The artistic freedom and fast pacing appealed to me. In March 2012 I signed a historical and paranormal with Crimson Romance and also got news that my historical was a finalist in the RWA Golden Heart contest.
 
It seems a lot of romance writers are starting with a small publisher, a digital publisher, or even self-publishing to break in. You have to build your backlist anyway, right? It’s being said the backlist is the new query letter for the bigger publishers, meaning they want authors who have proven they know the process and are committed to their writing careers. The publishing industry changes before the ink dries on the latest manual, but that’s what I’m hearing lately. 
 
What was the inspiration behind your book, Song for Sophia? 
 
Oh, it’s so clichéd, I’m embarrassed to tell. I saw the library scene between Wilhelm and Sophia in a dream so vivid I felt like a voyeur. A sardonic lord taunted his so-called housemaid with the subliminal message that he knows she’s hiding her true identity. The chemistry between the two characters stayed with me, tempting me with the allure of making my own story. I couldn’t resist.
 
The loads of research were this geek’s dream come true. They say you should “write what you know,” so I made the hero and heroine musicians. Almost right away I knew Wilhelm was damaged – a washed-up war hero − but it took a while for me to realize he had all the symptoms of an autistic savant. His character evolved more than any other, and the finished Wilhelm Montegue was a beautiful disaster. Think Rain Man in Jude Law’s body with “X-Men” Wolverine’s attitude. An unconventional hero to say the least.
 
What about The Valkyrie’s Guardian?
 
I love superheroes! Brooding, complex creatures with a big secret. Even better than the infallible Superman types are the screw-ups and wannabes. The Valkyrie’s Guardian features a berserker who has devoted his life to what he believes is a lost cause, and the heroine thinks she’s a dud among the annoying sparkly heroes she lives with. I love that what-the-hell reckless attitude from characters who think they have nothing to lose.
 
I got hooked on Navy SEAL memoirs. Those elite soldiers are real life superheroes, and I knew they would get along great with my misfit paranormal characters. The SEAL Team joins forces with the berserkers, and they all take it in stride. It’s one big party for them.
 
The mythological roots of berserker warriors also needed a place in the story, and from that came Kinmylies, a crumbling Scottish castle housing a family of berserkers. Everyone is in everyone else’s business – a traditional close-knit family, yet Jack is not welcome . . .
 
Superheroes, Navy SEALs, and Highlander warriors: the trifecta! Writing Valkyrie’s Guardian was sheer enjoyment. Bliss. 

What advice do you have for other authors wanting to write in different genres?
 
Do your thing. Do what you love. If you want it badly enough, you’ll find the time to put in the necessary work to make it shine. So many authors published in multiple genres are wildly successful; Nora Roberts, Karen Marie Moning, and Linda Howard to name only a few. Who says you can’t do it? It’s already been done!
 
Can you tell us, does it get easier now that you’re a published author, or do you still have the same anxieties that you had before you were published?
 
Honestly, I’m a mess. Those who say not to worry about rejections, don’t obsess about climbing, don’t be jealous of more successful authors . . . I’m convinced they’re all either overdosed on Prozac or lying. If you care − if you’re aware, involved, invested − then you can’t help it. That’s our industry; take it or leave it. We’re all so eager to appear magnanimous, not many will admit that’s the way it is. I’ll come out and say it!
 
I still don’t feel like I’ve arrived. It’s often daunting to worry about how competitive our field is and what it takes to break out. Fundamentally, I love everything about writing, and that’s what keeps me plugging away. I don’t know if I’ll ever sigh and think, “Yay! I made it.” My idea of success evolves, so it feels elusive. The carrot-on-a-stick thing. Forgive me for quoting “It’s the journey that matters.”
 
Are you a Plotter or Pantser?
 
Total pantser here. I admire those smug, serene plotters and their shiny well-crafted plots. I seem to think that if I begin a story with plotting, the magic will disappear and I won’t be able to write a word. I begin a new story because the characters talking in my head want out. I just start taking dictation, and the story takes care of itself. Not to mention the massive amount of editing that follows, which I love. So I’m a true-blue pantser who has OCD about revisions. Weird, I know.
 
What was your VERY first thought upon hearing you were selected as a Golden Heart 2012 finalist in 2012? (No cheating, your ABSOLUTE FIRST thought)
 
I thought it was a mistake. Even after I got “the call,” I watched the results post on the RWA website, still waiting for someone to say it was an error. My historical romance is unconventional and a bit controversial, so I had no expectations with the contest.

What an honor to be a finalist! I learned a lot from the other authors, who are very friendly and helpful. I thoroughly adore Elisa Beatty, the winner in my category. I can honestly say I am happy for her, and only a little jealous.
 
How do you do your research?  
 
The internet is a great place to start, then I rely on good old-fashioned libraries when I’m ready to dive in. Documentaries and memoirs are my favorite for finding details which will make the story lifelike, and I interview experts whenever I can. Recently I’ve researched quantum physics, brewing poison for assassination, Pre-Raphaelite art, post WWI economy in Austria, and Harley Davidson motorcycles vs. Ducati. I’m in nerd heaven! 
 
What advice do you have for writers trying to break into the business?
 
Don’t let the thrill and pride of creating seduce you into thinking your first draft is rose-scented 24k gold. Yes, bringing your world and characters to life is a high, but it’s one step in a long process. Authors build success with patience and hard work.
 
Read everything you can get your hands on by authors who are doing what you want to do. Learn craft, find skilled critique partners and honest beta readers, and glean the truth from their criticism. Join online forums such as absolutewrite.com, follow agent and editor blogs, and become involved in local or online writer groups to understand the industry.
 
Be prepared for the vulnerability of baring your soul (or presenting your manuscript − same thing). Expect to wait on pins and needles for weeks only to get a rejection. Keep writing, keep improving, waiting for the one time you’ll get a YES. This line of work is not for the faint of heart! Why do we do it? Because we love writing, and we love books. 
 
Twitter, Facebook, Blogging—valuable networking tools or an unbelievable time suck?
 
Both. Authors are expected to interact with readers and the writing community, yet must produce new material and meet deadlines. I’m still trying to figure out the right balance. It seems the writers who stay sane follow a schedule, allotting time for social media, blogging, research, revisions, and writing. Pantser me, I’m resistant to that kind of structure, but I’m starting to admit it’s necessary. 
 
Tell us about the “Mean Mom” moniker you’ve given yourself.

I didn’t invent the title, it was bestowed. And I proudly own it. Apparently the threat of calling me is enough to keep my kids in line at school. That’s not to say they always behave. “What were you thinking, climbing the flag pole / streaking in the lunch room / surfing on the bus seats?” I might be strict, but in my defense, they’re certifiably crazy.
 
To get the time to put together these questions, I allowed one of my twins to roller skate through the house and the other one to ride a scooter. As a fellow mom of young twins, how do you eke out time to write? 
 
Who else is a night owl? I do my best thinking at odd hours of the night, probably because I don’t have kids tugging on my sleeve calling “Mom! Mom? Hey Mom…” When I write during the day, I resign myself to interruptions. With four kids and a part time job, someone always needs something. I’ve learned how to write for 15 minutes, put out a fire, then pick up where I left off. Ideal? No. Good for balancing my chi? Definitely not. I totally understand your indoor roller rink, Christi. If I’m desperate I’ll resort to outright bribery. “Give me one hour to work, then I’ll let you microwave a bar of soap / fingerpaint the bathtub / make a stop-motion playdough video.” Sometimes I just let them play videogames and eat cold cereal while I feel guilty, typing away. Oh well.
 
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
 
Hard to choose between mind reading, flying, and invisibility.
 
If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do? 
Ha. Probably take tickets and envy the acrobats. I’m terminally clumsy. In a fantasy world, I’d be a sexy firedancer. 
 
If you could have one current writer write your biography, who would you pick?
 
Either Laura Kinsale or Linda Howard, and I’d ask her to embellish. A lot.

Thanks to Moriah for such a great interview! Here’s more information about her books (I met Moriah when I won Song of Sophia in a contest and can assure you it’s a wonderful read!)

If she truly knows her business, a woman has the mind of a diplomat, a general, and Cleopatra, all in one.” Anne-Sophia Duncombe is ruined, a victim of her father’s high-stakes gambling. Stolen moments at the piano are her boon. Wilhelm Montegue is a washed up war hero, rumored insane. His “condition”–modern diagnosis: savant autism–is the source of his gift for composing music. Anne-Sophia and Wilhelm thought they had missed their chance for love, but anything can happen in the music room.

Song for Sophia is available now wherever e-books are sold. Click HERE for the Amazon link.

Visit moriahdensley.com for teasers and sample chapters, and humorous blog articles on life as a writer. See reader reviews on Goodreads.com. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. I love hearing from readers!

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Now that you’ve met the judge for tomorrow’s contest, get ready!

This contest will consist of entrants submitting their witty, fun, true-to-life caption to a picture/video (yeah, haven’t decided yet). The winner and first runner-up receive (among other great prizes) critiques from Moriah Densley herself, so make sure your captions are hiliarious!

The contest opens for entries Wednesday, August 15th at 1:00 am PDT. Deadline for entries will be 11:59 pm PDT on August 24th.

Check back tomorrow for more details.

“Best First” Contest Winners!!

The “Best First” Contest winners have been chosen!

First, let’s give a standing ovation to the judge, author Reid Lance Rosenthal. For one, he had to pick only a few winners out of a whopping THIRTY-FOUR entries.  And second, he managed to do so while fighting to save his ranch from the massive Arapaho fire.

Well done, Reid. Well done.

Here’s the criteria he used to determine his choices…

Did the sentence invoke curiosity?

Did the sentence create a palpable visual image?

Did the sentence conjure suspense?

Did the sentence make me want to read more?

Was the sentence properly written and constructed?

First, let’s give a round of applause to the three Honorable mentions. (No particular order)

Artemis Grey       Evernow         YA Dystopian

Life is so much easier without underwear.

 Talynn Lynn       Found: Dead or Alive                   YA Paranormal Suspense

My grave knocked on the door last night, but I refused to answer.

 Sarah Fiete          Brink of Life                      YA Science Fiction

Leroy Splinter was eight years old the first time he was arrested.

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And now, here’s the Second Runner-Up. This winner gets book one of Reid’s Threads West, An American Saga, series…Threads West.  

Talynn Lynn        Hope’s Redemption           Historical Fiction

Alura stood with Molly, Natalie, and Mary in the dwindling line of the captives.

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And now, the First Runner-Up, recipient of a package of writing goodies AND books one and two of Reid’s Threads West, An American Saga, series…Threads West and Maps of Fate.

Rick Lippincott           The Sicilian Connection          Mystery/Detective

The small 12 footer was tossed about the waves like a yellow rubber duck in a tub full of sumo wrestlers.

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And now, the Grand Prize Winner. This person will receive a critique of the first page of their novel from Reid, AND books one and two of Reid’s Threads West, An American Saga, series…Threads West and Maps of Fate.

 Talynn Lynn              Only One Time      YA Paranormal Suspense

A man’s hand reached out from the smoky plated glass mirror and caressed River on the cheek.

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Winners, please contact me via email with your mailing address so I can get your prizes out to you right away.

Thanks to everyone for participating, and be sure to check back soon for details about my next fun contest, and to meet the author judge!

Contest Update, and Some Fun Links

The “Best First” contest was a rousing success and garnered a whopping THIRTY-FOUR entries!

I don’t envy Reid right now as being the one who has to sift through all those fantastic sentences and select three as winners (One Grand Prize winner and two runners-up). When I was compiling the list for Reid I couldn’t help but think how hard it was going to be for him to just pick three!

So, it’s little wonder that he hasn’t made his selection yet. While we wait, I found some fun links that I wanted to share…

Click HERE to see the newest editing symbols. They are hilarious!

Click HERE to see why I’m stalking the mailman as I await a package from Amazon that will contain what I hope will be the best writing tool evah! Seriously, I peer out my window when the mailman drives up to our box just hoping against hope that Amazon shipped it early. So far, no such luck. I think I’ve become Mrs. Kravitz by now I’m looking out the curtain so much 😦

Click HERE if you have no idea who Mrs. Kravitz is.

And finally, click HERE to learn about a book I wish I had when my twins were at that oh so tender age of not wanting to go to sleep—the hubby and I called that age zero to now. (Hint…the title is Go the F*&k to Sleep)

 

“Best First” Writing Contest Open for Submissions!

Yesterday, I introduced award-winning author of the Threads West, An American Saga, series, Reid Lance Rosenthal.

Reid has generously agreed to act as the sole judge the “Best First” Contest, and is including a critique to the winner!

Now, without further ado, let’s get to the contest details…

Entrants shall enter the first sentence to any novel they’ve completed, but haven’t published.

If you’ve written more than one novel you can enter the first sentence from each—just complete separate entries for each one.

Entries should include author’s name, title of novel, genre, and first sentence. (Use my example below as a guideline.)

Christi Corbett

Along the Way Home

Historical Western Romance

Every Wednesday Kate stood on the same front porch, her hand poised inches from the door, willing herself to do the unthinkable—walk away without knocking.

All genres accepted.

Enter your sentence in the comments section of this post.

Contest deadline is June 22nd, 2012 at 11:59 pm PDT (Pacific Daylight Time).

Winners will be announced when Reid is done judging 🙂

Prizes are amazing, and as follows…

Grand Prize Winner will receive a critique of their first page of their novel from Reid, AND books one and two of Reid’s Threads West, An American Saga, series…Threads West and Maps of Fate.

First Runner Up will receive a package of writing goodies (chosen by me and I always include great stuff!) AND books one and two of Reid’s Threads West, An American Saga, series…Threads West and Maps of Fate.

Second Runner Up will receive book one of Reid’s Threads West, An American Saga, series…Threads West.  

Best wishes!

Meet Guest Host (and Contest Judge) Reid Lance Rosenthal

Tomorrow the “Best First” Contest opens for entries! I’ve rounded up great prizes which include books, a gift package especially designed for writers, and best of all, a critique!

Today I’m thrilled to introduce award-winning author Reid Lance Rosenthal, who has generously agreed to judge tomorrow’s contest.

*This bio taken directly from his bio page of the book, Threads West *

Reid is fourth generation land and cattle. His cowboy heart and poet’s pen captures the spirit of the western landscape and its influence on generations of its settlers. His long-standing devotion to wild and remote places and to the people—both past and present—who leave their legend and footprint upon America and the American West is the inspiration and descriptive underpinning of all of his writing.

And now, a little bit more information about his award-winning series of books (again, this description was taken from his bio page).

Passion fuels each thrilling romance-packed novel in this widely-acclaimed series and epic of the historical and contemporary American west. Reid’s debut novel and the first book of the six-part saga has been compared to McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” by reviewers and readers alike. Each ensuing book further unfolds the riveting, sensual, adventure-filled tale of a country on the cusp of greatness, personalities from uncommon origins and lives weaved into generational tapestries of lust, duplicity, enmity, love, and triumph.

I’ve had the great pleasure of reading book one of his series, Threads West, and am nearly halfway through book two, Maps of Fate. His writing is rich with detail, history, and above all, he does a masterful job of portraying the underlying urge of his of his characters to not only survive, but to succeed, in the great American west.

Here’s the cover of his debut novel, Threads West, the first in the Threads West, An American Saga series.

Here’s the book trailer for Threads West   

And here’s the cover of the next book in the Threads West, An American Saga series, Maps of Fate.

Here’s the book trailer for Maps of Fate

Now, without further ado, here’s Reid! *********************************************************************  

Great to be on here with you and your readers, Christi! Thanks for the invite!

 1.      What led you to pursue writing as a career? And, what steps do you take to research such a sweeping historical saga? 

I am writing the Threads West An American Saga series not only because I want to keep a promise a nine-year-old made to himself many years ago, but because this series is “our” story. It is the ongoing story of “us”. I hope that it provides a reminder of the magical history of America and–through the historical facts that I detail through the eyes of fictional characters–a touchstone that we can reach back to in these troubled times, and perhaps use as a guidepost in future decisions. 

I am concerned about the future of America. The disintegration of the values of the old West and of our revolutionary forefathers distresses me. These seem to be traits that are slipping away, replaced by entitlement mentality, dependency on the red herrings of government rather than the tried-and-true traits of self-reliance, individualism, family and community. 

The Threads West series begins in 1855. It is the tale of disparate threads of lives, from many locations around the globe, of different social origins, ethnicity, culture and creed, that weave together as friends, enemies and lovers into the tapestry of an emerging nation: a country on the cusp of greatness, offering opportunity and freedom. The story arcs over one hundred seventy years and five generations. 

The last book of the series will be set in the real-time of the contemporary West. The final book will portray America and the West in vivid current reality – couched in romance and adventure. Threads West, An American Saga is, in essence, a fictional anthology of true life history. If the series evokes folks’ emotions, inspires passions, and delights readers with its story arc, that’s great! But, if it by chance re-acquaints readers with the basic principles that are the foundation of this fantastic experiment called the United States of America, then I truly will be well satisfied.

My pen is also driven by my love of land, a genealogy that goes back almost two-hundred years in land and cattle—including a goodly portion of that time by my ancestors in Europe. Perhaps I am inspired by the cowboy hat, the special feel and touch of a woman you care for, or the smell of horse leather and sweat. I love America and the West. I am enamored with romance, history, fiction, and all things western. They epitomize universal energies. So it makes sense that I love Historical Western Romance as a genre: the power of the land, the all-encompassing flow of steamy passion, heartfelt romance, and the intrigue of differing personalities, all laced with the American spirit.

I had important help from several researchers on details of dress, circumstances and some great historical tidbits and gave them credit in Book One, Threads West. But I wanted to learn what was entailed. Though I thought I was familiar with this magical moment in American history, I was mistaken. 1855 may be one of the single most difficult years of which straighten history of this country and the West that I’ve experienced. The great westward migration was in its infancy. The later turmoil between the northern and southern states–part of the Maps of Fate era novels of the series (Books 2, 3, and 4)–has begun to darken the whispered rhetoric of both sides. Native Americans had rightfully lost trust in the promises of the white man, the broken treaties of the years prior, and indeed the breach of compact between the states just within the previous 12 to 24 months were stirring the winds of war. 1855 was just several prior to the discovery of gold in Colorado, the real precipitator of the tidal wave of westward migration that began 1858. 

The Singer sewing machine had just been invented, revolvers were only a few years old, and the repeating rifle was still just a few years out. It was this point in time that the world – and America– breathed in, held their collective breath, and readied to exhale with a rush toward the Great Plains and the Rockies.

It was a time of both promise and fear, and the beginnings of the second great European immigration, a critical timeframe just prior to the switch of reels in the living movie of American history, reel one, the East. Reel two, the West.

My research sources are many and varied. They include print, web, nonfiction and memoir historical works of the specific time, interviews, and many times travel to specific geographic locations which my wandering feet have for some reason not yet visited. History can be general or detailed. I have found that in the nuggets of details oftentimes lies the best of the story. I’m extremely proud of the eight national awards the series earned in the last year, including four in Romance, one in Western, and – perhaps the one I’m most proud of – a Best in Historical Fiction from the Independent Book Publishers Association. It was a surprising pat on the back for the hours upon countless hours invested in research.

Combine these forces of land and love (or lust), mix in detailed historical fact, the West, the American spirit, and the interplay of strong, conflicted male and female impassioned personalities, and we have historical western romances!  It is not an oft written genre, and I am the only rancher/cowboy writing heated tales of the multi-cultural West.

2.      You’ve written several books. Can you tell us, does it get easier or do you still have the same anxieties with the latest book that you had with the first? What are you working on now? 

When I began writing Book Two I was startled to realize that Book One, the foundation for the hundred and seventy your story arc encompassed only four months. Actually, startled is not the right word. Shocked is more apt. And I found, to my amazement, in writing Maps of Fate, the second book, that the first hundred and eighty pages literally only covered only three weeks of my originally intended twenty year segment in the overall storyline of the saga. Indeed I ended Book Two earlier than my original outline. My terrific publishers and distributors urged me to expand the series to at least sixteen novels. Being a masochist—I agreed! There is no anxiety—other than deadlines. There is, however, an awareness that each book sets the bar ever higher for the next. 

You could say the genres of romance, historical fiction, and Western chose me, and I chose them. A mutual love affair, no pun intended. I am intrigued by universal energies. The power of the land, the all-encompassing flow and energy of steamy passion and heart-felt romance, and the unique spirit of America, her people, her concept, and their evolution through the relatively short-term of American History. 

3.      Are you a Plotter or Pantster? 

I don’t write detailed outlines. I am convinced, after many discussions, that book organization is unique to every author. My “outline” is one page and consists only of the chapter titles. I merely hunker down on the stage of the setting, and listen to the characters as they tell me their stories. I am the simple scribe. 

4.      What advice do you have for writers trying to break into the business? 

I am laughing. Write! 

Pick an area in your house that is “the writing sanctuary.” My preferred writing atmosphere is pacing around the kitchen and living room of the old ranch house, digital recorder in one hand, coffee in the other. A close second is the cozy interior cab of a one ton Ford as it screams down the highway from ranch to ranch, many of those trip durations of 8 to 10 hours. I would estimate that at least half of Threads West was dictated driving at 90 mph — and if any state trooper is reading this, I meant 75!  Many times I’ve missed the next exit or turn, so engrossed have I become in the story the characters are telling me. On a few occasions my startled glance in the review mirror has revealed the winking lights of a patrol car. Generally the officer has asked me why I didn’t pull over for the last thirty miles. The looks I get when I explain I am writing a book are priceless. 

Third—devote time to your writing. Easy to say—hard to do! I am both a night owl and an early bird—that helps! Sleep is nothing more than a necessary evil. I would prefer to be catching winks three days at a time followed by six weeks without any rest. The majority of my writing is usually done from about 10 o’clock at night to 3 o’clock in the morning. Secondary productive timeframe would be six or so in the morning to perhaps ten a.m. Then the reality of daily life, business and the ranches takes over. Once in a while I’ve stepped through that time portal I described, and I’m reluctant to remove myself. On those occasions I can go three or four days without any sleep whatsoever. 

Last, use technology! All my writing is done via dictation. I am chuckling. Truth be known, I dictate because I can’t type. Actually I can type about 80 words per minute. Unfortunately, that includes 20 typos (at least) per line. I am also not a big fan of spell check. It is the big paw, little keyboard syndrome. Also, I spend so much time traveling between ranches, or in locations without power that recording thoughts for later use became a necessity in my teens. The prehistoric full-size cassette recorders of the 70s were quite something. Good ones were the size of small briefcase.  Then along came the micro-cassette recorders.  If I was in heaven then, the current digital technology is pure nirvana. 

5.      Was it easy for you to find a publisher? 

Ah, the world of Publishers! From what these relatively new author eyes see, it is in a state of flux—rapid change—unparalleled opportunity. 

I was approached early on by two large publishers all via contacts at conferences. I was gratified to get the interest, but not thrilled with the deal structure. 

The end result, as the books have gained momentum, is a joint-venture affiliation between one small, one medium and one huge publisher/distributor out of Wyoming, Texas and New York City, respectively. Each does what they do best—print, e-book, graphics, editing, “reach and penetration.” Texas handles the award-winning covers, interior layout, and epub loading. All in all a better deal for the direct author team. I believe hybrid deals of this nature involving several publishers with different “muscle” might well be the future. Time tells all tales! 

6.      Twitter, Facebook, Blogging—valuable networking tools or an unbelievable time suck? 

All play a role. All take time. It is the cumulative effect. Facebook is probably best and least time-consuming if you are without help. 

7.      What are your thoughts on the recent rise in authors, both established and new, going the self-publishing route? 

More power to them! It’s that American entrepreneurial spirit! A great thing that will, of course, have significant effect on both the author and publisher sides of the industry. 

8.       Tell us about the series. 

The Threads West series begins in 1855. It is the tale of strong men and independent women—complex, conflicted personalities from Europe and America—the threads of their disparate lives destined to converge, drawn by the currents of fate to the remote, lawless flanks of the spine of the continent—the Rocky Mountains. 

The last book of the series will be set in the real-time, contemporary West. That is a one hundred and seventy year story arc has been organized into eras—each with three to four novels—but all part of the series. The full description of the six eras and sixteen novels can be found at our website www.threadswestseries.com

I’m astounded by the success of the series. Like Book One when it launched, Book Two, released April 17, 2012, was an immediate #1 best seller in Western, Romance, Historical Fiction, Family Saga, Historical Romance, Women of the West and seven other related genres. Book Two continues the tale of the Book One men and women, and new characters catapult into the story. The novel begins the examination of slavery, from the viewpoint of an older slave couple setting their life sails for freedom. So, too, does Maps of Fate commence the tale–from the intensely personal perspective of an Oglala Sioux family–of the sad, dark blotch on the pages of American History which is the treatment of the Indians. 

Maps of Fate follows the evolving life threads, passions, loves, disappointments, tragedies, romances, and in some cases the pathos filled, lethal experience of the characters which the readers of Book One seem to thoroughly enjoy. Their passions, interactions, conflicts and decisions hurtle through American history towards the cloth of their destinies and still subsequent generations of the series. Book Three, Uncompaghre—where water turns rock red, will release in November 2012. 

My first narrative non-fiction work, Volume I of the three-volume Land for Love and Money series releases June 26th, everywhere. It is written for owners and wannabe owners of land—any type, size or location. It will be controversial. These are eye-opening secrets of land and real estate sales, acquisitions, management, tax and government that banks and attorneys don’t share, told in the form of sometimes humorous, sometimes serious true stories based on my extensive forty-year land related career (there’s that land thing again!). 

I hope Maps of Fate, and the overall series makes readers laugh, smile, cry, and think. I hope it stirs their love of country, sense of self, stimulates the romance and passion centers of their brains and bodies, and makes hearts beat faster with adventure, action and intrigue. 

9.      If you could have one superpower, what would it be?  

To write at the speed of light? (Big smile). Super strength. 

10.  If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do? 

Be a ranching, writing cowboy fool! 

11.  If you could have one current writer write your biography, who would you pick? 

Now—that’s a scary question! (The cowboy grins). My mom—maybe! 

Thanks much for this opportunity, Christi! It was fun. I hope it was enjoyable and informative for your visitors.

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Now that you’ve met the judge for tomorrow’s contest, get those first lines of your novels ready!

The “Best First” Contest will consist of writers entering the first line of their novel. The winner receives (among other great prizes) a critique from Reid Rosenthal himself, so make sure your first sentence grabs the reader’s attention and leaves them wanting to read more. In other words, craft that hook!

Start polishing those words now because the contest opens for entries Wednesday, June 13th at 1:00 am PDT. Deadline for entries will be 11:59 pm PDT on June 22nd.

Check back tomorrow for more details.