Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Starting a New Book

Yep, that's what I'm doing, beginning another Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. I have the plot idea--not all of it, of course, but pretty much know where I'm going. It's the getting there that's going to be difficult.

For one thing, I'm still putting a lot of effort into promoting Judgment Fire. I'm going to a Sisters in Crime meeting Saturday with books, another book festival the following weekend. Then I'm off to Tampa FL for the WOW conference. I no sooner get home, then I have to pack a whole different bunch of clothes because I'll be a week in Alaska at Bouchercon.

Do you think I'll be able to squeeze in much writing? Nope, neither do I.

Other things crop up too--like writing jobs that pay money. When they come along I have to take them because they pay for the expenses of the trips.

And really, I do have a life. I cook meals for my family which I like to do, most of the time--unless I'm really under pressure. Fortunately, my daughter-in-law trades off with me on the cooking chores. Yesterday wasn't so great because I went to the beauty shop for a haircut and when I got home discovered my wallet was gone. I wrote a check for the haircut so guessed I left the wallet there. By the time I realized this the shop was closed. So I had a night of unrest as I thought about all the things I would have to do if my wallet wasn't where I thought.

Things like, you can't get on an airplane without picture ID. How long would it take to get a new driver's license with picture? Of course I tried not to think these things because after all, I didn't know whether or not I'd really lost the wallet.

First thing this morning, the owner of the shop called to let me know the wallet was indeed in the shop. I retrieved it gratefully, and everything was there that was supposed to be. Praise God!

Because I didn't get enough sleep last night, it was difficult to do all the things I needed to do.

Tonight I go to my critique group and read the first little bit of my book and see what my fellow authors have to say.

And now, to the kitchen to finish making dinner.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Interesting Week

I suppose the most challenging event to arise is Mystery Writers of American's decision to approve and disapprove publishers based on the number of books printed on a print run, advance, author not spending anything to be published. Because a lot of publishers are now using print-on-demand technology to print books (including some New York publishers) they wait to print books when orders come in. This is ecologically sound, but something MWA doesn't approve of. MWA certainly can make up whatever rules they so desire--but as a member of MWA I sure didn't have any input into these new rules.

My publisher is not approved, though Mundania has been trying hard to convince MWA they should be approved. They don't charge authors anything--they don't give an advance, but they do have a sound royalty system.

I'm a MWA member and have been for years and that won't change as long as I pay my dues.

The problem is now some of the mystery cons have decided that only those authors who are with approved publishers can be on panels. Mystery cons are fun, but if you aren't going to be on a panel you sure aren't going to sell any books. If you aren't going to sell books, the IRS is going to frown on you using the cost of the con and all that goes with it as a business expense.

Not all the cons have adopted this policy as yet. Those that I know about who have are Left Coast Crime and Mayhem in the Midlands. Some of the cons do have loopholes. If you find yourself in this dilemma, ask. One author I know was told she could get her money back from the con since she wouldn't be on a panel. Another was told that as a member of MWA she would get a panel.

This has been debated alot. Whether anything will change, I have no idea.

Saturday, Sunny Frazier and I had a booksigning in Hanford at the Artworks, a funky coffee and sandwich shop. We didn't have a huge amount of visitors, but those we had were wonderful. Among them was the librarina from Hanford who asked me to come and give a presentation next spring. Two of the West Hills College Faculty came and asked both of us to come to the college and give presentations to the students. Of course we said "yes."

I've done a lot of online promotion which take oodles of time. I need to be working on my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery which is only in the planning stages at this point. This weekend I'm headed to another book festival, this one at the Universalist Uniterarian church on Ralston in Ventura. I'll also be celebrating a birthday while I'm down there.

Doing blogs is another means of using up precions time, but I feel like I need to keep up with this one as much as possible.

Hope it's cooling off where you live,

Marilyn

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Visit with Karina Fabian, Author of Infinite Space, Infinite God

I was honored to spend a little time with Karina to talk about her latest book and a little bit about her and her writing habits. Here is what she had to say.

Marilyn: Tell me all about your book and how you came to write it.

Karina: Infinite Space, Infinite God is thought-provoking sci-fi with a Catholic twist.
The 15 stories cover the gamut of future science, from genetic engineering to asteroid mining to interstellar travel. They span the topics of sci-fi: time travel, space opera, dystopia, psychological thrillers and sci-fi mystery. Finally, they examine the Catholic world view in the challenges of the future, from evangelizing to aliens to determining the soul-status of artificially created humanoids, to religious orders and even saintly miracles.
It won the EPPIE award for best electronically published science fiction of 2006 and is coming out in print August 15 from Twilight Times Books.
www.twilighttimesbooks.com
.

My husband, Rob, and I are long-time science fiction fans and faithful Catholics, so we'd always been a little miffed about the lack of faith of any kind inmost science fiction--or the misuse of science and pontificating of the early Christian fiction books. (The genre's come a long way since then.) So we decided to start our own stories, in a near future universe where humankind has colonized the solar system and there are priests and nuns in space.

The Sisters of Our Lady of the Rescue perform space search and rescue and are well regarded. We also came up with a spacer's Code of Conduct, which dictates a lot of interpersonal stuff including how and when to discuss religion and politics. It's a rich universe to play in.
In searching for homes for these stories, I got the opportunity to edit an anthology and dragged Rob into it with me. We edited Leaps of Faith, which was an EPPIE finalist and is in search of a print home, and later, Infinite Space, Infinite God.

Marilyn: What is you writing schedule like?

Karina: Erratic. I tend to flow in stages depending on inspiration, time and deadlines. When I get a deadline (whether self-imposed or externally set), I can get pretty obsessive and will write every chance I get from the time I wake up until late at night. Other times, I don't write much, except what I must. (I have two regular publications: "Montana Catholic" and "Hereditas".)
Regardless of what I'm writing, I try to write at least a sentence or two on whatever fiction project I'm involved in. Every day, I do my e-mail, web groups and some marketing. When Rob and I did the anthology, we put out the calls, and I did the first read on the stories. (Rob was working at the Pentagon, which means a long commute as well.) If I liked them well enough, I passed them on to Rob.

Some I wasn't sure about, I'd flag with my concerns. Then we'd discuss them. I handled rejections and acceptances, which was quite a learning experience. I can see why many editors prefer form letters!Once we had enough keepers, we went over them carefully. Some needed editing and re-writes, which I mostly handled, with Rob chiming in as needed.
Then we took the finished stories out to dinner--literally. Over a long candlelight dinner at Olive garden, we hashed out the order and roughed out the introductions, which I then wrote. Rob and I both proofed it, and we started the long hunt for a publisher.

Marilyn: What would you like to see happen with your book?

Karina: We want to see it in regular bookstores, Catholic stores and catalogues. We want sci fi readers of all faiths to pick it up because it's unique. We want university professors to use it in their class, and relatives to buy it as a unique Confirmation gift. Most of all, however, we want people to enjoy the book. If it makes folks think, we're thrilled. If it touches their soul in some way, we're ecstatic.

Marilyn: What are your future writing plans?

Karina: (Laughter) How much space do I have?

We're working on an ISIG II, so writers need to check in in January for submission calls (http://isigsf.tripod.com)

I just finished a fantasy comedy mystery involving a cynical dragon private detective, Vern. Vern and his partner, Sister Grace, a Mage in the Faerie Catholic Church are "volunteered" to chaperone the magical folk at a Mensa convention. But when a Valkyrie start vamping, pixies startpranking, and elves high on soda try to declare war on Florida, it turns out to be more work than they've never gotten paid for. I've several stories about Vern, and several more that are clamoring to be written, including at east one novel. You can read more about him at www.freewebs.com/dragoneyepi

Rob and I are working on our first Rescue Sisters novel, in which three nuns from the OLR are sent to oversee the safety of the exploration of mankind's first-discovered alien starship. I started Discovery during National Novel Writers' Month and will probably end up finishing it then.

Marilyn: Thank you so much. I’ve read a lot of mysteries with Catholic protagonists but never a sci-fi with anything Catholic–and when there’s been religion it’s usually been invented. Using Catholicism in science fiction is a "novel" (excuse the pun) idea.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Judgment Fire/My Own Virtual Book Tour

Judgment Fire is now available. If you go to my website: http://fictionforyou and purchase through the Buy Now button you'll receive a 10% discount from the publisher.

I've been hosting authors on my blog and I'm also on a Virtual Book Tour. Here's where I'll be in the next few days:

August 14, 2007Boomer Chick www.overthehillchick.blogspot.com

August 16, 2007Plug Your Book! www.plugyourbook.blogspot.com

August 20, 2007 The Story Behind the Books www.thestorybehindthebooks.blogspot.com

August 21, 2007 Virtual Book Tour de Net (featured author)www.virtualbooktourdenet.blogspot.com

August 22, 2007 Virtual Book Tour de Net (interview) www.virtualbooktourdenet.blogspot.com

August 23, 2007 Straight from the Author's Mouthvwww.straightfromtheauthorsmouth.blogspot.com

August 27, 2007 Storycraftersvwww.storycrafters.blogspot.com

August 28, 2007 Author Talksvwww.authortalks.blogspot.com

August 29, 2007 The Book Connection www.thebookconnectioinccm.blogspot.com

August 30, 2007 Leicester Review of Books www.leicesterreviewofbooks.blogspot.com

August 31, 2007 Published Secrets of Authors www.publishedsecretsofauthors.blogspot.com

Marilyn

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Making of Silenced Cry

Marilyn is asking author Marta Stephens about her newest book.

Tell me about your latest book.

Silenced Cry is the story of a young narcotics detective, Sam Harper. He and his partner, Gillies, are on surveillance of a drug supplier who had eluded capture. It quickly becomes evident that Gillies is intentionally muddying up the facts. Key points don’t add up and makes Harper believe Gillies is involved in illegal activities. His partner is shot and killed during the surveillance. When questions surrounding his partner’s death go unanswered, Harper suspects a cover up.

Harper is transferred into homicide and given a new partner, Dave Mann. Their first case takes them to the Harbor View Apartments, a building marked for demolition, where workers discover the skeletal remains of an infant entombed in one of the walls. The investigation into the infant’s murder opens the floodgates of questions when the suspects in the Baby Doe case all tie back to Gillies. Evidence mounds as quickly as the bodies in the morgue and the truth leads Harper to the person he least suspects.

Silenced Cry is a layered, multi-plot story about the events, disappointments, and successes that transform the character, Sam Harper, into the man who emerges in the final pages of Silenced Cry.

Where can we buy it?

Silenced Cry, ISBN: 978-1-905202-72-0, is a 248 page paperback available on several online bookstores including all the Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, ABEBooks, and Powells to name a few. It is being distributed by booksellers both here in the States and in Europe so most independent bookstore owners have access to the book and can make it available to their customers. My publisher, BeWrite Books (UK) makes both the paperback and the e-book version of Silenced Cry available on their website, http://www.bewrite.net/merchant2/4.00/merchant.mv. For additional locations, please visit my website, http://www.martastephens-author.com/.

What gave you the idea to write Silenced Cry?

Silenced Cry was actually the third book I wrote in the series. I wanted the set to include at least four stand-alone stories. But once the first two books were drafted and I was ready to draft out the third, I decided that instead of moving forward in time, I needed to show the beginning and therefore, needed to delve deeper into Harper’s makeup, his drive. I quickly learned that there was a great deal more to the Sam Harper character than catching criminals. It was important that he become personally affected by the crimes and once I understood Harper’s motivations and the depths of his emotions, I set out to create criminals who were so vial and their crimes so vicious that it would push Harper to the brink of potentially crossing the legal line.

In short, Silenced Cry, is a story about Homicide Detective Sam Harper. He isn’t a flawless hero. He doesn't always get things right, the evidence doesn't always fall neatly into place, and doors don't always open to reveal the answer. His short-comings are what makes him human. Even though there are a multitude of crimes, criminals, interrogation scenes and visits to the city morgue in Silenced Cry, at its core, this is a story about the events, disappointments, and successes that transform Sam Harper into the man who emerges in the final pages of Silenced Cry.

How much of yourself or your experiences are in the book?

I’ve never dealt in drugs, never killed anyone, I was never arrested or raped, and I’ve never worked in law enforcement. Still, I can’t imagine a writer not bleeding a little bit into their books with what I’d call human experiences; grief, anger, joy, fear, resentment, worry, suspicion—everyone can relate to those feelings. I dug deep into my own emotions in order to understand how and why these characters acted and reacted the way they did. At times, it took some doing to step into the antagonists’ skin and to look at the world from their perspective. There’s something to be said about the writer’s belief system too and how it affects the plot and the characters’ behaviors. As much as I tried to step back away from my own viewpoint, I think a part of me snuck in between the lines.

What would you like to see happen with Silenced Cry?

Sam Harper is the new detective on the beat; Silenced Cry is his calling card.

The book introduces Harper and a host of characters to mystery lovers around the world. It’s a layered story with multiple subplots that pulls the reader from one twist and turn into another. While reviewers have repeatedly dubbed Silenced Cry a pager turner (visit http://www.martastephens-author.com/ for a complete list of reviews), one reader wrote, “Silenced Cry held my interest from the first gunshot, past the first, second, and third plot twist into the clubhouse turn and on to an ending I hadn’t anticipated.”

My first goal was to create a character readers could connect with and love. The second was to develop a story line that would draw and hold the reader through a battery of crimes and a maze of clues. As a first-time author, the challenge has been to create an awareness. We geared the promotional campaign to draw interest to the book. However, sales aside, I’ve found that in spite of all our marketing efforts, word of mouth is still the best sure-fire way to sell books. People pay attention to testimonials from those they trust. Nothing thrills me more than to hear that a reader has passed the book on to friends and family members and they in turn have passed it on to others as a must read.

Nearly all who have read Silenced Cry have asked about the next book in the series. This tells me that Silenced Cry is doing exactly what I hoped it would do; it has grabbed the mystery lover’s attention (and even a few non-mystery fans) and started a following for the series. To those who have read Silenced Cry, thank you! I sincerely hope you enjoyed it. Sam Harper will be around for a long time. In fact, he’s already working on his next case.

What are your writing habits?

Time is precious. I squeeze it out of my evenings after work and on weekends to write. Still, I average three to four hours of writing every day—quite a bit more on weekends.

The first thing I do when I begin a project is to briefly outline the storyline. My outline, however, is never written in stone. It is extremely flexible and only used as a guideline that changes as the story develops. When I began to write Silenced Cry, it was a linear plot line; one case, one murderer, one solution. But then I started to wonder what could possibly happen next? That’s when a whole string of possibilities emerged.

I find it helpful to write bios and back-stories for each of the main characters. Real people don’t live in a vacuum. They have deep-rooted reasons for their behaviors, and have trigger points that have made them behave as they do. Back-stories tell me some amazing things that help me to create three-dimensional characters.

Once I understand where the story is going, I do extensive research on police procedures (including consultations with professionals in the field), forensics and anything else I need to understand. Research, however, is on-going.

After I’ve briefly outlined the plot line, have written character bios and back-stories, and researched my subject, I clear my desk and start typing. Some chapters come very quickly for me, but writing is a process that doesn’t always follow a logical path. I’ve written chapters and chapter sections out of sequence only because they came to me at the most unexpected moments and I had to put my thoughts to writing.

An important lesson I’ve learned is to not to fall in love with my writing. I’ve cut entire chapters from my manuscripts more than once. Some I’ve really liked. One in particular was a provocative and fast-paced chapter. It had great dialogue and tense action, but no matter how much I wanted it to add to the plot, I couldn’t justify it. It’s in a special file in my hard drive waiting for the day when it will be resurrected. I never know if and when I might be able to use deleted sections again so I keep a good majority of them. The second book in the series is a perfect example of how important it is to sacrifice words for the sake of the plot. As I mentioned earlier, I wrote the book a couple of years ago. When it was time to revisit it, I didn’t have to read past the first chapter or two to know I had to start over. After cutting out around 45,000 words, the only thing that remains of the original story is its essence, but this is a story that Sam Harper fans will enjoy.

What are you working on now?

I’m in the middle of the edits on my second book in the series. The reader will find a few familiar characters in it. When bodies start washing ashore no one, including Harper, suspects their murderer or his motives.
He is up against a cunning killer whose purpose and tactics would have escaped detection had it not been for a personality flaw—over confidence. This is a classic murder mystery with an added splash of the supernatural, a power-hungry drug dealer, a religious fanatic, and a hint of romance just to make things interesting.

Thank you so much, Marta, for answering my questions.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

My Virtual Book Tour

I'll be hosting more authors on their virtual book tours this month. While I'm doing that I'll also be on my own tour. Here's the schedule:

JUDGMENT FIRE TOUR SCHEDULE
August 1, 2007 The Writer’s Life
www.thewriterslife.blogspot.com


August 6, 2007 Pump Up Your Online Book Promotion
www.pumpupyouronlinebookpromotion.blogspot.com

August 7, 2007 As the Page Turns
www.asthepageturns.blogspot.com

August 9, 2007 Be My Guest!
www.bloggingauthors.blogspot.com

August 10, 2007 W.O.W.-Women on Writing
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

August 14, 2007 Boomer Chick
www.overthehillchick.blogspot.com

August 16, 2007 Plug Your Book!
www.plugyourbook.blogspot.com

August 20, 2007 The Story Behind the Books
www.thestorybehindthebooks.blogspot.com

August 21, 2007 Virtual Book Tour de Net (featured author)www.virtualbooktourdenet.blogspot.com

August 22, 2007 Virtual Book Tour de Net (interview)
www.virtualbooktourdenet.blogspot.com

August 23, 2007 Straight from the Author’s Mouth
www.straightfromtheauthorsmouth.blogspot.com

August 27, 2007 Storycrafters
www.storycrafters.blogspot.com

August 28, 2007 Author Talks
www.authortalks.blogspot.com

August 29, 2007 The Book Connection
www.thebookconnectioinccm.blogspot.com

August 30, 2007 Leicester Review of Books
www.leicesterreviewofbooks.blogspot.com

August 31, 2007 Published Secrets of Authors
www.publishedsecretsofauthors.blogspot.com

It's going to be fun!

Marilyn