Archive for June, 2007

Interview with Marcia James

June 25, 2007

Who are you?

That’s a deep question!  😉  To avoid going all metaphysical on you, I’ll just say: my pen name is Marcia James, and I’m an advertising copywriter/PR writer who is enjoying the heck out of her new career writing romances – especially the love scenes!

What do you write?

Thanks to my highly developed sense of the absurd, I write comic, R-rated romantic suspense/mystery.

Where do you live, and what does your work space look like? (No address, please. Just generalizations. You know.)

I live in central Ohio, and my office is a sunny room on the second floor of our home. My “writer’s cave” contains a maroon, L-shaped desk (which is so covered with files you can’t tell its color), romantic movie posters (like the one from Ghost), toys to fiddle with (including a vintage slot machine bank) and a sexy screen-saver of a semi-nude man bench-pressing a large barbell with an improbable part of his anatomy.

When do you generally write? Do you have a regimen?

Regimen? LOL! I wish I had one, but I’m not that disciplined. I usually write from mid-morning to early evening – interrupting the flow constantly to check my email. Yes, I’m addicted to email.  ;-(  I start out the writing portion of my day by tweaking the pages I wrote the day before and then writing new pages.

How do you write? Do you outline? Or fly by the seat of your pants? Do you like silence or rock out to a certain soundtrack?

I’m a plot-driven author, so I make notes about future scenes and plot points, but I don’t outline every chapter. I work hard trying to make my characters compelling and three-dimensional, so I’ve been known to fill out character charts on my protagonists. As for music, I can’t listen to any – even instrumental background music – while writing because it gets in the way of my hearing the music in words. That seems like an odd statement, but there really is rhythm and sound in alliteration, pacing, etc.

Got anything to brag about? (Awards? Upcoming releases?)

Before I was published, I finaled in eleven Romance Writers of America chapter contests. My second manuscript, At Her Command, sold to Cerridwen Press, garnered great reviews and was just released in trade paperback. At Her Command is a risqué comedy of errors that explores the premise: “What would happen if the DEA, FBI and Washington, DC police all — unbeknownst to each other — put operatives undercover at the same hedonistic club?” The tiny Chinese Crested hairless dog, who’s a drug-sniffing dog in the book, has been so popular, I use a caricature of it as my author logo.

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us what it is and why you think it’s gonna be a “gotta have” k?

A full of my latest manuscript is with St. Martin’s and Kensington. It’s the debut book in a comic mystery series featuring a sex therapist who amateur sleuths to the endless dismay of her police detective boyfriend. It’s a fun mix of action, humor and sex.

Tell us how to find you and your stuff. (All your website and blog links)

My Web site URL is www.MarciaJames.net, and there are excerpts and blurbs from my books on the site.  There are also links to Cerridwen Press and Amazon, for those interested in buying my trade paperback or e-book. The blog on my site is actually a sex advice column “written” by my sex therapist/amateur sleuth character. Readers submit questions to the column, and the answers are tongue-in-cheek (pun intended).

Speaking Engagements

June 19, 2007

Ever wonder how people get on the speaking panels for conferences?

<>They go to the conference website, see who is in charge of programming, and send them a press kit, virtual or physical, meaning via email or hard copy in regular mail.

Wait. Did you think that they were just so wonderful that someone said, “Wow. I want them to speak at my conference.”…?

Sure, that happens. IF YOU’RE Stephen King!!

But, if you’re not THERE yet, you have to realize that the way you get known is by word of mouth, and usually that means YOUR word of mouth. You have to toot your own horn by sending out information about who you are, and what you can do.<>

<> I, for example, have been doing motivational speaking for 20-25 years. It doesn’t matter what topic you need addressed to your group, I can research it, and present it in the way you need it put out there.

So, this is an example of how I let people know that I am available for speaking. I post it on my blogs and websites. I send emails to conference planners. I post regularly on my blogs where I will be next.

Who is this person? You may ask that. I’m pretty much a beginner writer who understands some basics about professionalism because I was professional in other areas before I decided to write pro. And I know how to make goals and achieve success. If you or your writing friends are struggling with that, you might want to have me come and speak.

If you’ve already stopped and said WHOA, I’m not listening to a beginner, think again. Read on.

Since I write in every genre and have won over 115 awards in 3-4 years, and some of those are in every genre–I may have some simple tidbits that can really boost your writing. Also, in that short time, I’ve had cover articles on national and regional magazines, and have signed many many contracts (over 25 this year alone.) I’ve had 5 books released THIS YEAR and have more coming.
The point is…not to be obnoxious in telling my credits, but to let you know that there is a fast track to success. There are tricks to the trade. Like the first one I mentioned here about setting up speaking engagements. Some will pay well, but when you start out, most likely you will pay your own travel, and hotel expenses.

But in exchange, you will get your name in a program book that all attendees will read. You will get an opportunity (maybe more than one) to let people know what you write. And through that, other writers will learn your name, and you will be considered a professional peer.

Other engagements will follow, and they will soon begin to pay–in growing readership/fans and professional friends you can network with, and all that translates to positive word of mouth, and ultimately to higher sales.

The easiest way to advertise your book in person is to get on a panel at a conference. Someone else draws the crowd. Someone else puts the program book together that brags about your accomplishments. All you have to do is show up, be clean, and contribute with a positive energy and hopefully some good information.

The trick is…making the audience feel good about you being there. If the panel is about writing, give out some useful information. If the panel is geared to meeting the fans, make sure you’ve got something to make them feel good. Bottom line, get some eye contact with your audience. Smile. Be happy to be there.
When you talk, use the mic. If there’s no mic, speak very loudly. Half of every audience is deaf or going deaf. Never think you don’t need the mic. That’s the dumbest thing any speaker ever says. I can’t say that enough. And make love to that microphone. Put it as close to your lips as you can without touching it.

Interview with Michelle M. Pillow

June 18, 2007

First, give us the basics. Who are you, personally? Got a family? Any deep dark secrets you’d like to share? Wanna tell us where you hang your hat or pantyhose or something?

I’m Michelle M. Pillow, Author of All Things Romance… what? More? LOL. Um. I’m addicted to coffee, love pajama pants and have a strange ‘compulsion’ that forces me to keep my toenails painted red.

I’m a wife and mother. My family is very supportive of what I do and have adapted to my eccentricities quite well, though every time my back is turned, they tend to sneak home a new pet. So far, we have 2 English Bulldogs, a Schipperke, a ½ Lab ½ Boxer that everyone things is a Pit Bull, 2 cats and a rabbit—this isn’t counting the tailless squirrel, rescued turtles and duck who temporarily take up residence. I’m pretty sure all creatures of the animal kingdom know directions to our yard.

My husband almost brought home a tiger cub—yeah, you read the right, lol. Lucky for him, he came to his senses and brought the baby back to the person who’d given it to him.

Oh, and lest I forget, Marc our fish.

Second, what do you write? And how do you do it? Spill it all. Are you a shower poet? Pet your cat while you type one handed? Get the name of your next character by what appears in your Alphabet soup or cereal?

I write romance in almost all its wondrous forms—dark fantasy, fantasy, historical, paranormal, contemporary, futuristic, chick-lit and all the combinations thereof. I also write sweet to steamy.

Ideas normally come to me in the shower, when I have quiet time and am relaxed. Or, when I’m trying to fall asleep. Ideas will pop into my head and not let me rest until I write them down. Because of this, I have notebooks hidden all over the bedroom, lol. Normally, I write either in my office or on my laptop in front of the television. I like the low noise when I work.

Wherever I am, I have the two Bulldogs right there, following me around the house. Somehow, I was nominated as their pack leader—though they didn’t consult me when the vote was taken.

When I first started working, I actually named my heroines by going through the alphabet—Alexandra, Brenna, Chloe, Della…. Yeah, I know, strange, lol. I did make it through the whole thing though. It’s how I kept which order I wrote the books in straight. I can’t seem to write a book until I know the characters name. It’s always the first thing I pick out when beginning a new story.  

Third, how long have you been writing professionally? Any cool stories about how you got started? Or mistakes you’ve made. Feel free to elaborate. Just paragraph in between, but, by all means, ENTERTAIN US.

My first book was published in ebook by New Concepts Publishing in April 2004. It has since gone out of print. When I first submitted to the company, I hadn’t heard or even read an ebook—now I love them!

Since first publishing, I’ve worked non-stop to try and build a career for myself, often putting in 18 hour days. I’ve signed over 50 contracts—though some were for short stories—and recently won the prestigious Romantic Times Award for Best Erotic Romance, for the historical Maiden and the Monster, published by Ellora’s Cave.

I have several publishers I work with—Ellora’s Cave, Samhain, New Concepts, one title in an antho from Pocket Books, and Virgin Books which is now part of Random House.I’d say that my mistakes were those most newbies make—not learning more about promotion and marketing before being published. I didn’t realize how much effort it really took on the part of the author to market a book.

Since 2004 I’ve taught myself how to make book videos, banners, build a website from scratch and maintain it, established the Pillow Scavenger Hunt that has had over 80 great authors in participation, created the Raven Vampire Nightclub with Mandy Roth where we do blogging, podcasts, free stories for readers, ect… It’s been a wild ride and I’ve learned a lot. In fact, I’m still learning.

Fourth, any cool stories about meeting other writers or industry professionals that have influenced or helped you? We like to hear the silly stuff. Ever stutter at an agent? (I have.) Ever sidestep an editor? Or have a margarita downing contest with one? (Pleading the fifth on that, myself.)

Aside from the time the aliens abducted me and I met Mandy Roth…or wait, was it she broke into my house…or was it we met at the Salvation Army fighting over a t-shirt… Well, anyway, I’d have to say teaming up with Mandy has been a great plus for both of us.

We compliment each other’s styles and have the same hard work ethic that pushes the other onward. Many of the milestones of our career we’ve met together, often not intentionally. It’s great to share that journey with someone and she’s become the big sister I never wanted… LMAO, Just kidding, Mandy. I’ve only had one editor “issue” where we both felt the best course was to part ways. It came down to a matter of different styles and opinions—not that either one of us was wrong, just too different to work together. It happens.

The only time I remember being a little awed and tongue-tied is when I got a phone call from the new publisher at the recently opened Virgin Books USA branch under Random House. I was shocked by the unwavering support and by the call and probably stuttered my way through it. Though, hopefully I didn’t muck it up too bad as they’re still working with me.

Fifth, tell us about your first published work. What was it? When did it come out? 

The book was entitled, The Mists of Midnight, a Victorian ghost story that is no longer in print, or ebook rather. I do hope to rewrite it (I cringe to think of that earlier piece, lol). I’ve learned so much since that first piece and hope to resell it for print distribution.  The book was published in April 2004. 

Got any awards to brag about? 

Yes! I do!! I just got back from the Romantic Times Magazine convention in Texas where I was awarded with the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Erotic Romance for the historical romance, Maiden and the Monster. It was just released in print from Ellora’s Cave Publishing, appearing for the first time at the convention. So, as an interesting side note, it was an ebook when it won the award.

Blurb:

Vladamir of Kessen, Duke of Lakeshire Castle, is feared as a demon in the land of Wessex. The Kings have granted him a title of nobility in exchange for his part as a political prisoner. Discontent, he bides his time in his new home until war will once again rip through the land.

But boredom soon turns to devious pleasure as the daughter of his most hated enemy is left for dead at his castle gate. Now the monster bides his time plotting revenge. Lady Eden of Hawks’ Nest doesn’t know what to think of the man who saved her life, but she can’t wrench her thoughts away. His words are those of a tyrant, true to his vicious reputation, but his touch is that of a man, stirring passion and lust when there should only be fear. It would seem the infamous monster is not as monstrous as he appears.

Do you have any dreams as a writer? Go ahead, give us your best fantasy.

Plenty of them. I’d like to work on a literary fiction (though I do love genre fiction and am plenty busy with that), be part of a nonfiction compilation, perhaps a children’s book (under a non-romance author name of course). I’d like to write more for magazines.

As a person, I’m open to new opportunities and experiences in both my writing career and personally. There are also many authors I’d like to be in anthologies with.

I think every writer wants to be successful at what they do. I’m no different in that regard. I want to reach bestseller lists, get awards, get big paychecks, but most of all I want to be happy doing what I do.

Got any projects in the works? Please tell us it’s amazing and give us a short excerpt or something to make us HAVE to go and buy it. What makes it so great?
 

I always seem to have several things in the works, though this year I’ve been a little slower with all the extra promotions I’ve been doing with Virgin Books (Random House). My book, Along for the Ride, is one of their USA launch books in October 2007 and is for pre-order at Amazon.com. The books I do for Virgin are different than some of my other titles in style. They all deal with strong, modern day women who don’t necessarily believe that a romantic happily-ever-after is all there is in life.

Happily, they discover that in some ways their “modern” notions were wrong. Since I am a HEA kind of girl, all my stories do have that HEA ending.  

Blurb:

Detective Megan Matthews is cursed with always being right. Her instincts are good, her deductive reasoning even better. She’s found her hard-headed ways to be too much for most men, so she’s given up on trying to find Mr Right and has settled for arresting Mr Wrong.

Photographer, Ryan Andrews, has had a crush on the sexy detective since he first took her photograph by accident at a crime scene. That picture became headline news and she hasn’t talked to him since.

He’s tried everything to get her attention, even enlisted the help of her sister. Nothing works. When opportunity presents itself, he’s left with little choice. But is blackmailing a cop into marriage really a good idea? 

Read an Excerpt: http://www.michellepillow.com/ride.htm

I’ve also been working on the last book in the Call of the Lycan trilogy at Ellora’s Cave. It’s about half way finished. I’m almost done with the first Space Lords book, part of the Dragon Lords universe, though I’ve not contracted it with anyone as of yet. And for Virgin, I’m working on Recipe for Disaster, the third Matthew Sisters book, which include Bit by the Bug and Along for the Ride.

Any tidbits of help for other writers that you’d like to pass along? Please, by all means, inspire us. Point us in the write direction. 
 

Do your research. That’s pretty much it. Research everything—the industry, your book topic down to every last detail, publisher guidelines, everything.

Do you have any suggestions as to what a writer should avoid? Any mistakes you made that you could give us fair warning on?

Never close yourself off to learning more, even when you think you have it down. And never close your ears to the criticisms that count when it comes to your work.

Though you might not like all the ideas people give you, you can learn and grow and possibly make your book better by at least listening. I say “criticisms that count” and want to emphasize that.

Don’t listen to everyone with an opinion, choose carefully those you do listen to and disregard the rest. And know that opinions are only as good as the people giving them—and people can have bad days and bad attitudes.

Let the negativity roll of your back, just make sure that you don’t ignore the useful critiques in the process. Um, yeah, hopefully that makes some kind of sense. Oh, and don’t air your dirty laundry publically—even if you are frustrated.

Give us links to your websites, blogs, etc.? 

Links:

Website – www.michellepillow.com

Blog- http://www.michellepillow.com/authorblog/  

Contests- http://www.michellepillow.com/contest.htm  

Newsletter – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/michellempillow/join

Myspace – http://www.myspace.com/michellepillow 

The Raven, with co-author Mandy RothFree Story – http://www.ravenhappyhour.com/raven.htm  

Paranormal blog – http://ravenhappyhour.com/ravenblog/

Podcasts – http://www.ravenhappyhour.com/raven_podcasts.htm  

Chat Group – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/The_Raven_Vampire_Nightclub/join

Thanks for giving us your fifty cent interview. Come back and see what other authors and readers have to say. Send your friends this way, too. K?

Thanks you so much for having me!

Speaking at conferences?

June 11, 2007

I have spoken at a lot of conferences this year, including Epicon (national ebook conference, VA Beach), Romantic Times (Houston), AggieCON (Texas A&M), CONquest 38 (KC), and SoonerCON (OK City).

And I’ve done readings at the National Poetry Convention (OK City) and hosted a room party at the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc. Conference (Also in OK City). I will be speaking at the White County Writer’s Conference in Searcy, Arkansas on Labor Day weekend.

And I’m working on getting some other speaking “gigs” set.

So, you want to promote your books? You want to start your speaking career?

You may be surprised to find out that most speaking engagements are settled by the author offering to speak, or listing themselves as “willing to speak.”

Feel free to contact conference programming chairmen to offer your services. Be sure and list your credentials. You can send a hard copy press kit, or a query via email.

Some speaking engagements pay, some provide room, travel expenses, and meals, as well as a speaking fee. Some are “free entrance into the conference.” Some offer free conference entry for your family.

When you start out, you need to be willing to compromise, and meet the conferences half way, and appreciate the fact that they’ll be putting you in their program book, on their website, and giving you speaking time, even if it’s only on a panel.

If you’re good, people will request you back, and spread the word about how great you were. So, to make sure that happens, be prepared on your topic, and learn panel etiquette, which means “not monopolizing the conversation” but being willing to fill in the quiet spots if other panel members aren’t as equipped on the subject. Also, learn how to keep things on topic, or to bring thigns back to topic, and make sure you’re not the one leading the panel off topic.

Think about these things:

A speaker should educate, entertain, and motivate. If they don’t do that, they aren’t a very good speaker. If they do one thing, they’re okay. Two means they’re good. Three means they’re great. Aspire to be a great speaker.

ALWAYS use the mic if it is available. Remember that half your audience is likely deaf or going deaf. Even if you think you have a booming voice, you need to use the mic. This is one of the biggest mistakes speakers make.

(More on speaking in other posts.)

COLORFUL PHRASES

June 7, 2007

Janny Wurts, a very good fantasy writer, caught my attention when she mentioned he watched the woman walk away, MARIGOLD SKIRTS SWISHING.

I often think about that sentence. They may be two flowery for some works, but we, as writers, should be thinking about our prose. Janny’s words had a “purple prose” feel, meaning it was poetic, almost too pretty.

I, however, love the phrase and look to add flavor like that to my fantasy works. There is alliteration in that line. Watched the woman walk away. Look at the w’s and a’s. Consonant repetition is called consonance. (I know, that’s a DUH. But, until someone points it out to you, or explains it, it’s hard to grasp.) Marigold doesn’t add to the alliteration, but it gives us vivid color and imagery in a single word. Swishing skirts. S’s add more consonance, and the w in swishing draws the consonance from the first half of the sentence into the last part.

The phrase is just plain eloquent, the kind of thing that has mesmerized my thinking processes often. Did she know she had done that? Or does she have a natural knack for poetic prose, and not even know it? IS SHE A POET? Yes. She must be, even if she doesn’t realize it.

I’ll have to ask her if she intends to be poetic or if it simply happens as she writes. Not that it matters. I recommend her, if you’re a writer who struggles with active prose that has color and flavor. Read just one of her novels, or even several pages of one, and you will see what I’m talking about.

She doesn’t waste words. Use of WAS is minimal. She demonstrates active and rarely slips to passive writing. All in all, I believe she is a fine example of the type of writer we should aspire to be. You can learn a ton, and absorb a lot, just by reading her works. (And she didn’t pay me to say this! She doesn’t know me from Adam.)

To find Janny’s work, you can go directly to her website: http://www.paravia.com/JannyWurts/website/index2.html

Spread the word…

June 6, 2007

The written word is an amazing thing. Contracts bind people. Novels spellbind people. Nonfiction helps people–whether in self-help or in information.

And the internet is an amazing way to spread the word about something. That’s why websites for authors are so important. And search engine optimization–which is the keying in of metatags to your website so that you’ll come up first in a search engine. If you google your name, and it doesn’t come up on top, you need to take a look at your metatags. If you don’t know how to do that, you need to look up the directions or get a web designer that has a clue. You can hire someone to maintain your website, if you aren’t web saavy.

But it is by word of mouth, and one by one contact, that we gain a fan base. If I can give you one word of advice today, it would be to value each person you speak to. Do not ever act like you’re looking for someone “better” to talk to.

I see this all the time. People are talking to a writer, but the writer is looking over their head, hoping to find someone else to reach now that they’ve made contact with this one. You would do better to give full attention for several minutes to the one you’re speaking with.

This is a basic “people edification” skill. Edify the one you’re with, with your complete attention. They will feel so good from those few moments with you, where you listened to what they like or dislike, and where they are coming from, that they will ring your praises. I swear this will work to spread your name.

Conversely, if you act like you don’t have time for someone, they will speak of you poorly. He was abrupt. He was rude. He walked away before I finished my sentence. Don’t let that be the trail that follows you.

Look people in the eye. Tell them, without a doubt, why you think they’ll like your book. But listen to them for a minute to find out what they like, then skew your presentation of your work to fit them.

For example, my novel The Price of Peace…when I talk to people who are into history, I say, “This is set in 13th Century Wales. Reviewers say it has great flavor and is highly recommended.” I also mention that Deborah McGillivray, a famous Scottish historical romance writer, reviewed the book and loved it. (See the reviews on my website: http://www.jenniferdicamillo.com/ )
When I talk to people into fantasy, or sword slinging things like Lord of the Rings, I say “This is a sword slinging novel.”

When I talk to romance readers, I say “This has an epic romance in it.” I bring up Deborah McGillivray’s review, and also the review I have by Rita Gerlach, Nora Roberts’ cousin who also writes romance. (and has a great newsletter for writers, by the way.)
When I speak to mystery readers, I say “This has a lot of suspense, and it’s based on a mystery. This woman has planned the downfall of five clans. You’ll want to put the pieces together as you read, and try to figure out why. Oh, yeah, and there’s murder and suspense and a lot of other things like that in this.” I also add that National Best Selling author Barb D’Amato, past president of Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime International, said some really good things about my novel, too.

See how I went out and got reviews from people others will be impressed by? We listen up when we hear names of famous people. Also, those names are great to put in your metatags.

Back to The Price of Peace…It’s also a literary novel. If you think about it, you will see that it views a wide range of what people will do for peace. Some will fight for it. Some will die for it. And some will compromise everything they have for it. Some will sacrifice beyond measure.

And there’s an underlying theme about faith. Nothing that will beat you to death. But, in the end, it points you to a fact that it doesn’t matter what you believe, we all pray to a higher power. (atheists excluded, of course.) But, it starts with pagans and is set by an abbey, at a time when paganism and Christianity were vying for followers in Wales. See? The conflict on this may appeal to inspirational readers because it is an inspirational read. It may appeal to pagans because the protagonist is a pagan, and her daughter is torn between that and Christianity and finding her own path.

But more than anything I always say it’s EPIC. Because that one is.
I don’t bill my second novel as epic, though, because it isn’t. My Courting Disaster novel is sword slinging, tongue lashing foreplay. It’s fun. It’s a romp and stomp farce written for men and women, a double romance written, my editor says, in the flavor of Shakespeare in Love. There are a couple murders, but it’s not mystery. There is intrigue, though–and that will appeal to mystery readers.

And it is set in a place I made up, but has a historical feel. Most importantly, there are several main characters and they seem very different, like most people do, but in the end, you can see that they are all looking for the same thing. See how this can be examined and the appeal to ANY reader can be presented.

One reader told me, “I loved three of the four main characters, adored them! But that Prince, I’d like to run him over with a truck.”

Loved main characters. Hated someone enough to email me. She WILL remember my story, and my name and she’s told me she talks about it to her friends, some of which have read it now.

People who read The Price of Peace in 2004 when it came out still email me, saying, “I was thinking about that story again.”

What’s important is that I connected with those people on a deeper level. I have since met them in person. I went out of my way to go where they would be, and they are true fans.

Love your readers. Listen to them. Know who your audience is. Set up your website so that there is an easy email button for people who read your work to email you. That is how you set up a fan base. And get a newsletter list. Even if you only email it once a month, or every other month, stay in touch with your readers, and tell them what you’re doing as a writer.

And by all means, get a blog. Even if you only blog once a month. Get guests to come and blog. Post interviews of other writers, like I do here. Go on virtual tours, spreading the word about your books and works by commenting on other author’s blogs, signing with your website underneath your name. You can spread your word a lot by sharing fan bases with other writers.

GREAT Interview with Cat Muldoon

June 5, 2007

First, give us the basics. Who are you, personally? Got a family? Any deep dark secrets you’d like to share? Wanna tell us wear you hang your hat or pantyhose or something?

My name is Cat Muldoon.  I have 2 children, both girls.  They are wonderful felines.  I’ve never been married but am open to the possibility.  Currently, I’m living in the Ozarks, but I have lived various places. 
 

Ireland and Scotland are a couple of my favorite places to be, but I enjoy spending a good deal of my time in, shall we say, “other worlds.”  If you ever hear that I’ve gone to Ireland and never returned, perhaps I found a Faerie hill and went inside.

Second, what do you write? And how do you do it? Spill it all. Are you a shower poet? Pet your cat while you type one handed? Get the name of your next character by what appears in your Alphabet soup or cereal?

I’ve never been one for alphabet soup, but I do like the idea of naming characters that way.  Maybe I’ll try it sometime. 

Anyway, what I write is whatever comes to mind.  Typically my stories are fantastical.  I love wordplay and I love creating interesting “what if” scenarios. 

My characters are real to me in that I write dialogue by hearing them interact.  Occasionally I have to break up fights or tell them they don’t get their own way. 

I had to change a character’s name in my novel Rue the Day, and he wasn’t at all happy about it.  He wanted to be called Aiden, but that name too closely resembled the main character Aislinn, and her name had to stick.  But he got used to Cian and liked its meaning well enough that he settled down quickly.

How do I name?  It depends.  For the Faerie folk Rue the Day, I chose the names carefully based on their meaning in Celtic traditions.  Now for the Selkie, I made them up. 

Corlath simply had to be Corlath.  It has no special meaning in any earthly language (a far as I know), but it expresses his essence well. 

If I am not sure what to name someone, I will use letters like YYY until I figure it out, then do a universal find/replace (because what word has YYY in it?). 

At one point I had too many B names and had to rename someone.  The bard “won,” and her name changed from Brighid to Eliatha, which she likes better anyway.

Sometimes I choose names based on meaning and sometimes on “feel.”How do I write?  Mainly by feel, but it is typically based on the interaction of characters rather than an idea. 

Oh, an idea may spark the story, but the characters are definitely in charge, and I do let them live their stories (with the occasional reigning in as necessary).I think a writer should let things flow and not get in the way. 

So if I’m writing a scene and it’s 5 pages of dialogue at first, I don’t stop to put in gestures or bits of action or have someone order pizza. 

Flow is a beautiful thing and should never be interrupted to worry over a word or fuss over details.  I spiral back through the story to fill in details or movements or whatever is missing. 

This means my scenes have bits of setting sprinkled through them, for the most part, and not in huge clumps.  I like to let readers see through the eyes of the characters.

Spiraling…I adore spirals, and when I think of how Rue came together, I really did spiral my way through.  I didn’t do “first draft,” “second draft” as such.  I spiraled through to add or change as the needs came to me. 

BUT I did have a sense of where the plot was going at all times right from the moment I realized this was not a short story.Suspense is one of my favorite features in a story, and there is a lot of suspense in Rue the Day, and in many of my stories. 

I was a bit surprised Wings ePress put the book as fantasy romance, because I had always thought of it as fantasy suspense, or maybe epic fantasy.Which brings me to how this book came to be. 

It all started because of a misty Ozarks morning with fog so thick you lost the world in it.  I thought of stories in which someone crossed through the mists into another realm, like Mists of Avalon and some of the faerie lore. 

I honestly did think I was writing a short story for a while with only 3 characters (one of them a cat named Bree).  Then all sorts of interesting characters and situations came to me and I realized I needed to write a novel.

Funny thing is, there are so many people who dream of writing a novel, and I never did.  Not that I’m opposed to it.  But writing a novel never occurred to me until then, and here I was writing a complicated suspense story with a couple of suplots and minor characters who could easily hold their own in their own book.

Third, how long have you been writing professionally? Any cool stories about how you got started? Or mistakes you’ve made. Feel free to elaborate. Just paragraph in between, but, by all means, ENTERTAIN US.

In some ways, I don’t feel like a professional.  I love writing and I do work at writing better and better all the time, but I really did fall into being a novelist. 

Now I am planning out the next in the series that took its first breath on a foggy morning. Short stories are also fun for me, but I have to reign myself in so that I don’t add too many complications for a short piece.

Fourth, any cool stories about meeting other writers or industry professionals that have influenced or helped you? We like to hear the silly stuff. Ever stutter at an agent? (I have.) Ever sidestep an editor? Or have a margarita downing contest with one? (Pleading the fifth on that, myself.)

This isn’t really what you asked, but the margarita contest put me in mind of it.  One time I was writing a story that’s a bit randy, and I had to drink a couple shots of Brendan’s before I could write it.

So for your question…I had an opportunity to pitch a “big New York Agent.”  Not a big person, just a well respected agency.  Because I was there at the writer’s conference the night before the “real” event, I had the opportunity to spend a fair amount of time with this agent and another author in a hotel room. 

This is what’s interesting, and it is an important principle I want you to write down and maybe even tattoo on yourself somewhere. This agent and I did not choose each other, but what I want to point out is that as I listened to her talk, I knew there was NO WAY I could work with her.  It was not the right fit.  Always follow your gut or your instinct or whatever you wish to call it on these things.

Another time I heard an agent speak at a conference (a different one), and I thought, “This person has all the energy of a slug on a slow day.  She couldn’t work up a spark of passion if I lit her butt on fire.” 

So there again, I knew this was not someone I could work with.  I’m not suggesting she’s a bad person or an ineffective agent, but I’m a focused person, and we’re not the right fit.

Now this is a funny story for you.  One time I was pitching an editor and…well, let’s just say the hormones were alive and well that day with the particular editor in question.  That was the most interesting pitch experience I have ever had.  I did manage to stay focused, and I definitely was not nervous, but the hots added a whole new dimension.

Fifth, tell us about your first published work. What was it? When did it come out? 

“Seal Skins” is a short story that takes place in ancient Kirkwaa (now called Kirkwall) in the Orkney Islands of Scotland and features the Selkie.  Perhaps I should say that the Selkie are shape-shifters from Celtic mythology who, in the tales, can take off their seal skins and take on a human form.  They tend to enjoy dalliance with humans.  There are a number of stories in which a man hides the seal skin of a Selkie woman and forces her to marry him.  The first scene ends with a human husband shooting at the Selkie who has tarred with his wife.  This story is in a book called WomanScapes, available through Amazon.  The other stories in the book are wonderful! Got any awards to brag about?  

Rue the Day was a semi-finalist in the ArcheBooks 2005 First Novel competition.  One of my short stories took a door prize in the Writer’s Weekly 24-hour short story competition.  That contest is fun because you have no way to prepare and no idea what you’re going to write.  The judges do NOT appear to like anything fantastical, though, so I’ve actually had the challenge of writing something “normal.”  This last time, I wrote something that seemed as if it might have fantasy or paranormal elements but did not.Do you have any dreams as a writer? Go ahead, give us your best fantasy.I want Rue the Day to become a movie.  I’m putting it out there right now.  I think it would translate well to the screen. 

What are you up to now, writing wise? Got any projects in the works? Please tell us it’s amazing and give us a short excerpt or something to make us HAVE to go and buy it. What makes it so great?

I have a couple of stories I’m playing with, and I’m working on an anthology.  Whether they are great is for readers to say, not for me, but I will say this.  I love working with interesting characters and playing in other worlds.  When you go to my website http://CatMuldoon.com, you will read and hear excerpts of Rue the Day, and when you sign up to receive excerpts in yor inbox, you’ll get more of Rue and also bits of 2 other stories that are published.  You can also go to my page on Author’s Den http://www.authordeden/catmuldoon  

Do you have any tidbits of help for other writers that you’d like to pass along? Please, by all means, inspire us. Point us in the right direction.

Follow writer’s guidelines and contest rules absolutely to the letter. “Get attached” to the process of creation, not to the results.  If something is rejected or doesn’t win, simply send it elsewhere and don’t take it personally.Trust your own instincts.  Yes, you want to improve your craft, but every writer works differently.  You need to discover what works for YOU. If you meet an agent or editor you can’t stand to be in the same room with, or who sets your teeth on edge, you will do well to look elsewhere.Be careful of scams.  Be a wise consumer.

Talk to other writers.

And finally, the only way for you to find your true writer’s voice is to WRITE WRITE WRITE!  It’s not delivered by the stork.  You have to put out a lot of words to find your own flow. 

Do you have any suggestions as to what a writer should avoid?

Any mistakes you made that you could give us fair warning on?I think I’ll let my answer to the previous comment inspire you.  I can’t think of a mistake, and rather than saying “don’t,” I prefer to teach you by saying, “do.” 

Give us links to your websites, blogs, etc.?

My website is http://CatMuldoon.com my blog is http://blog.myspace.com/CatMuldoon  and I’m on Author’s Den http://www.AuthorsDen.com/catmuldoon  

Thanks for giving us your fifty cent interview. Come back and see what other authors and readers have to say. Send your friends this way, too. K? 

Of course! But this interview is worth $50 at least! 😀Cat