Tuesday, January 25, 2011

FOR WRITERS: Saving Your Creative Spirit

Another writer shared this video on one of my loops, and I thought it would be helpful to other writers, so I'm passing it along. I think it's a neat way of looking at creativity and distancing yourself from your work. Whether you're still trying to get published and wading through rejections, or you've just finished that first book and are receiving reviews, or you're working on your next project and feeling anxious about topping your last one, this might provide some valuable insight into allowing your creativity to flow unhindered.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Destination Truth: Researching the Historical Romance Novel

One of my favorite shows on TV is SyFy channel’s Destination Truth with Joshua Gates. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s about a guy who travels to all sorts of exotic locations to find out the truth about monsters reportedly living there. The host, Josh Gates, is tall and adorable…brave almost to the point of insanity…has a wicked sense of humor…perfect hero material…sorry, got distracted. Anyway, Josh never seems to uncover proof of the actual monster (I’ll keep rooting for him), but his journeys are amazing, and he always discovers all kinds of other, interesting things (like a headless chicken corpse with human feet, an enormous unidentified footprint, ghostly images, disembodied voices and even scarier mundane things. Like quicksand. Alligators. Poisonous snakes…)

Shivering aside, what does Destination Truth have to do with researching a historical romance novel?

The similarities are mind-boggling.

So let’s start by comparing an episode of Destination Truth with one of my historical research topics. Let’s say, Josh’s search for evidence of the Yeti with my search for historical…panties. (Trust me, it’s going to be tougher than it sounds. Victorian underwear wasn’t too difficult, but when I began researching Georgian underwear for THE ELVEN LORDS series, it had me tearing my hair out.)

Destination Truth: Search for the elusive yeti/panty

Rumors of the Yeti have reached Josh at his headquarters. A huge ape-like creature similar to the Sasquatch, living somewhere in the Himalayas. Josh packs up his crew and travels thousands of miles to the Far East. The search is on.

Rumors of corsets, stays, and chemises reach the author. But what of panties? This information is critical to the author for her love scenes. Author props up her feet next to her computer and brings up the Google screen. The search is on.

Josh interviews people, looking for reliable witnesses who have seen the Yeti, in order to determine the best place to set up an investigation. He hikes through a valley where sightings have occurred, but finds nothing more exciting than a grazing cow.

Author types in ‘Georgian Underwear’, scanning through the results, looking for reliable websites. The first one looks promising, but on further investigation author comes up empty-handed. The rest of the sites aren’t even related to author’s search.

Josh continues his search, and gets lucky. Some evidence is found of the creature, but Josh can’t determine if it’s genuine. They are frustrated in their attempts to acquire some evidence for testing from the artifact. They are told that because others believe it to be genuine, so must they.

Author expands her search to ‘Georgian Clothing’ and gets lucky. Results have turned up some reputable websites, but further investigation only leads her from one link to another, frustrating the author. She’s tempted by the Wikipedia result, but is aware that the general populace updates the site’s information.

After four days of hiking with nary a Yeti in sight, Josh and his team split up, and start hunting in earnest.

After Googling several combinations of word searches with nary a panty in sight, author decides to branch out her search to the library and bookstore.

The journey through the Himilayas is arduous but amazing, and the hunt reveals fascinating plant and animal life, with exciting discoveries and perilous adventures.

The journey through the library is arduous but amazing, with hundreds of books on Georgian costume to pour through, revealing discoveries of clocked stockings and brocade waistcoats. Although most of the books at the bookstore deal with general English social history, the author lives new adventures through historical biographies. But no mention of panties. Author goes to Amazon and searches for out-of-print books that may have an answer…and is overjoyed! She orders the Handbook of English Costume in the Eighteenth Century, a detailed look at clothing.

One of Josh’s sherpa guides finds an enormous footprint! Josh is overjoyed! His team spreads out, looking for more evidence, but unfortunately, find none. They take a plaster cast of the print and bring it back to headquarters amid much acclaim.

Author receives her Amazon order. She removes a book from the wrapping titled, Handbook of English Costume in the Seventeenth Century. They sent her the wrong book! But after searching through it, author finds no reference to panties anyway.

Josh brings the plaster castings to a professional for examination. It is estimated that a 300-400 pound creature made the prints. They are ruled out as a hoax and are called a ‘significant discovery’. Is this definitive proof of the Yeti, then? Alas, it seems to be unclear.

Author has garnered enough information by now to deduce that panties were ‘most likely’ not worn prior to the drawers of the Victorian era, but alas, she lacks definitive proof. Indeed, historians seem unclear as well, for if panties were worn, no clear evidence of them remains.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Just finished the final edits for the sequel to THE FIRE LORD'S LOVER

Book 2 in THE ELVEN LORDS series, THE LADY OF THE STORM, is scheduled for release in August 2011, and I'm thrilled to have finished the final edits for the book. Since I'm a stickler for details (the prefectionist curse) it's always such a pleasure to have a new set of eyes read through my work, and I have to say, my copyeditor did an amazing job of catching the smallest of details. (For example, I have a tendency to use "his own body" "Her own hand" and "own" is redundant and can be deleted without changing the meaning of the sentence.) Maybe this is a small detail, but the goal is for my readers to be swept up in the story, to have the writing so tight and smooth that you don't notice it.

Before I became a writer, my favorite authors always made writing look so effortless, and I thought a book was just born that way. Trust me when I say, a lot of hard work goes into the final product. My hope (with the help of my publisher) is that you will be swept away by the story and characters, and that my writing will only enhance the adventure for you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I will be signing books tonight at...

Ironworks Restaurant
Writer's Meeting Room
17233 N. 45th Ave.
Phoenix, Arizona
Bell Road & 45th Avenue, just North of Bell
5:30-9:00 pm

I will have my current books & backlist available for sale, but you're welcome to bring your own copies. :}

FOR WRITERS: There are many ways to create a story...

A couple of good ways to brainstorm a story is through plot and character. Whether plot or character comes first when composing a novel is sort of like the chicken and egg thing. It greatly depends on the author’s point of view. Plot and character are so entwined that it’s often hard to even separate the two. Like all elements of a novel—dialogue, exposition, description, pacing—plot and character are woven throughout. I think writing can be compared to weaving, where the threads are blurred within the composition of the overall pattern.

After several books I’ve found that, although there are guidelines to writing, there are no hard and fast rules. That’s why the best authors appear to break them.

For me, it's nice to know where I’m going before I create my characters, even if it’s only a general idea of the plot. Once I have my external conflict (plot) I can then create the characters who would suffer the worst internal conflict within the story. So, if I have a storyline where the heroine must leave her village to find her missing father, who is tangled up in all sorts of political intrigue, I will create a character who is not an adventuress at heart. She’d prefer a cozy, quiet life of knitting and cooking and raising babies. The last thing she would want is to leave her peaceful home and go wandering about the dangerous countryside, eventually becoming tangled up in the same intrigues that cost her father his life. Her internal conflict will be so much greater than creating a character who longs for adventure and excitement. And her growth would be much more rewarding and life-altering. And this is exactly what I did for book two in The Elven Lords series, The Lady of The Storm (releasing August 2011).

Once I create the characters, and plunk them into the story, they will take over, sometimes changing the plot drastically from what I’d first envisioned. And I let them. Because isn’t that the magic of writing, when the words aren’t coming from you, but the characters that you’ve created?

So should you try starting with plot or character? That’s all up to you, and the story you envision writing. But if you’re not quite sure, try starting with a general plot outline or idea, and create characters who would hate to be put into the situation you’ve created. Or start with a fascinating character, and create a situation that will challenge them. And see where the magic takes you.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Interview with Kathryne Kennedy on radio station WKEE-FM

Airs this morning at 6:35 am Arizona (mountain) time on I Heart Radio (WKEE-Huntington WV). They also stream online at www.WKEE.com (Just click the Listen Live arrow on their website). If you've missed it, you can listen to it below:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

To all my friends and readers, and readers who are friends, may this year see the the fulfillment of all your hopes, dreams and ambitions.