Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We Have a Winner for Tiffany Clare's Contest

Congratulations to Johanna R Jochum.!!! Please contact Tiffany at tiffany@tiffanyclare.com and providing your full mailing address to receive a copy of The Surrender of a Lady.

Thanks again to Tiffany for a great blog and for all who stopped by yesterday!

Cheers!
Vicky

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meet Debut Author Tiffany Clare!

Please help me welcome Tiffany Clare, the author of  The Surrender of a Lady on sale now!  Romantic Times gave her debut novel 4 1/2 Stars and a TOP PICK. Be sure to keep reading because Tiffany is giving away one copy of her fabulous historical romance to one  lucky commenter. (North American entrants only).

Before I grill interview Tiffany, here's a quicky blurb to whet your appetite.

THE PRICE OF PASSION
Sold. With one word, Lady Elena Ravenscliffe’s destiny changes forever. Forced into Constantinople’s slave market to pay off her late husband’s debts and save her son, Elena reinvents herself as Jinan—a harem girl adored by the rich lords who bid on her favors. But one man instantly sees through her fa├žade.

…IS COMPLETE SURRENDER
Griffin Summerfield, Marquess of Rothburn, let Elena slip through his fingers years ago. When he recognizes her on the auction block, he pays an outrageous sum to possess her even if it is for a short period of time. But when his deadline looms, Griffin will risk all in a desperate bid to make her his—and his alone…

Tiffany, what is the first romance novel you ever read?

Outlander, Diana Gabaldon. I know it’s not strictly romance but after reading it I wanted more happily ever afters. More specifically, I gobbled up Scottish historical romances like no one’s business after falling in love with Jamie. He’s the hero of heroes.

What inspired you to write THE SURRENDER OF A LADY? 

I had this perfect image in my head of this woman in a veil. I’ve even included the two pictures that were my focus. There was just something about these pictures that tickled my muse into action. Once I immersed myself in art, research, and the culture (not physically, only through reading) and I knew enough to write the story and do it justice for the setting and time period, I couldn’t stop writing Jinan’s story.

And what gal wouldn’t want to picture themselves dancing seductively in the garb of a harem princess for the man she loves more than life itself? It’s every role players’ fantasy. LOL Okay, maybe not every role player, but it is pretty dang sexy.

Tell us about the setting. Did you uncover unique or intriguing historical details while researching the novel?

Ah, the setting. For me, setting is another character—it needs to come to life or I’m doing something wrong. It wasn’t till I’d written about a third of the book that I realized I didn’t know where in the eastern part of the world my harem took place. I finally settled on Greece territory seized by the Turks in the 19th century—it offered a rich and opulent backdrop to the harem. I loved researching the climate, flora, fauna, and especially the food and lifestyle.

Interesting facts I learned: When Barbary pirates seized ships they often took the women aboard (the ones who survived the attack) as prisoners to be sold as slaves. Sometimes those women would end up in harems (this is documented as far back as early/mid 16th century). The Ottoman Empire, Algerian, Moroccan, etc., all had a fascination with white skinned, light eyed beauties also known as Circassian women.


What do you love the most about your hero? And your heroine?

I love that Rothburn knows he’s bad. I love that he thinks he’s right when he’s not, but that his heart is on his sleeve for Jinan. She is his whole world.

My heroine is a survivor. She’s given the worst lot in life but she makes the best she can of it. She learns to adapt and grow and open herself up to any possibility. 

If you time-traveled back to Victorian England, what would you enjoy the most? What would you detest? What one modern product would you mourn?

I’ve always thought of myself as an old fashioned kinda gal. I think I might do well with Victorian England—so long as I was rich and so long as I lived in the more pleasant smelling countryside. What modern amenity do I adore—coffee makers. I’d be lost without my flavored coffee in the morning. Yes, I just so happen to be drinking a cup of coffee right this minute.

Tell us what's next for you?


Asbury and Emma in February 2011 in THE SEDUCTION OF HIS WIFE. And Emma’s sister, Abby THE SECRET DESIRES OF A GOVERNESS are coming June 2011.

***
Merci Beaucoup, Tiffany! 

Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a free book. Tiffany and I regret the contest is limited to North American entrants. To find out more about Tiffany's books and where to purchase them, visit her website at: http://www.tiffanyclare.com/

Cheers!
Vicky

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Speak Loudly

Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor of management at Missouri State University, recently wrote an opinion piece in the News-Leader of Springfield, MO in which he labeled Laurie Halsey Anderson's Young Adult book SPEAK as a filthy, immoral, and soft-porn novel because the subject matter involves rape.

I read Ms. Anderson's book a few years ago and found it a compelling, honest look at the problem of rape for young women.

As I write this blog, writers and readers are decrying Scroggins for his attempt to censor SPEAK. I wonder how Mr. Scroggins would feel if a young woman in his family was victimized. Is the man so ignorant that he doesn't realize the horrifying statistics? RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network reports 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

And those statistics reflect only what is reported.

Shoving the problem under the rug will not stop the abuse. And it most certainly will not help the victims who suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome.

Frankly, I'm appalled that such ignorance still exists. Many years ago when I was a freshman at the University of Texas, our dorm resident assistants counseled us, guys and girls alike (we lived in a co-ed dorm), about rape. To give you an idea of how long ago this occurred, let me say I have a grown son and a daughter in college.

A writer has spoken out about her own horrifying experience. You can read her brave story here: The Last Word.

Do you know someone who has been a victim of rape? I wish I could say no, but I do. Their stories will always haunt me.

Laurie Halsey Anderson's novel SPEAK ought to be required reading in high school classes everywhere. Teens need to be aware and informed. Parents should use the book as a springboard for discussions with their teens. Information is power. Ignorance leaves our teens vulnerable to peer pressure and violence. They need to know they can turn to their parents for help.

Most of all, young women who have suffered from abuse need support. They need to know that they are worthy.

In my book HOW TO MARRY A DUKE, the heroine confesses a traumatic experience to the hero. I hope young women who have suffered bad experiences at the hands of scoundrels will read what my hero Tristan says to Tessa, my heroine. As a writer, I sometimes feel as if my characters take over. And in this case, Tristan's words brought tears to my eyes.  Because he recognized that Tessa's past did not define the woman she is now.

The past is past. All that matters is who you are now and what you contribute to the world. Lift up your hearts. Extend a helping hand. Give encouragement to those in need. Be a true friend. And love your family.

May the Magic Romance Fairies be with you.

Love,
Vicky

Monday, September 6, 2010

Books & Blogs


First, check out that photo of my first book HOW TO MARRY A DUKE. Several readers have contacted me on Facebook and Twitter to ask when the book will be available. The publication date is January 3, 2011. If you're interested, you can see the back cover copy and some wonderful quotes on Amazon.

Now off to other good stuff. Once again, I've found some really cool links to share.

Amazing Books!

Young Adult

If you're a Young Adult fan (Raising my hand!) or have a teen who loves reading, don't miss Sophie Jordan's fantastic YA debut FIRELIGHT available 9/7/10. 

Another great Young Adult is  ReVAMPED from my agent Lucienne Diver. If you missed the first book VAMPED, you might want to get it at the same time. Gina is such a fun character.

Fantasy

I've waited more than a year for Michele Lang's wonderful LADY LAZARUS, an incredible fantasy set against the backdrop of WWII. Highly recommend!

Historicals

THE SURRENDER OF A LADY a debut by my Twitter buddy Tiffany Clare. Can't wait to read it on Sept. 28th!

A SEASON OF SEDUCTION by Jennifer Haymore. I'm a huge fan of Jennifer's books, so I'm really looking forward to this one on Sept. 28th.

SINFUL IN SATIN by Madeline Hunter, also available Sept. 28th.  I've been a big fan of Madeline's books since reading her first book BY ARRANGEMENT. (To see her backlist, go here: http://www.madelinehunter.com/books.html)

THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT by Miranda Neville sounds like so much fun. I just love books where all the best laid plans go awry.

THE DEVIL WEARS PLAID by Teresa Medeiros is available 9/8/10 & of course I already ordered it! Teresa is another author I've been reading for years. In fact, I got her first book as a gift along with a promotional I Love Romance nightgown. I think it was A WHISPER OF ROSES. (You can also see all of Teresa's backlist here: http://www.teresamedeiros.com/)

Great Paranormals Available in September:

CHAINS OF FIRE by Christina Dodd is on sale 9/7/10. Check out the yummy guy on the cover!

EAT PREY LOVE by Kerrelyn Sparks will be available on Sept. 28th.  The excerpt on Kerrelyn's website is really compelling. Check it out here:  http://kerrelynsparks.com/excerpt_september2010.html

Intriguing Blogs!

Using Facebook to Amplify Your Reach (and Not Annoy People). Great advice from Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest.

What Makes a Great Writer. Another great post from Kristen Lamb. I recommend you bookmark her blog.

Why Bad Girls Get All the Best Lines. Justine Musk's blog is an auto read for me. She's got a unique viewpoint. Bookmark this blog.

Finally, a funny (but a little raunchy) video I first saw on Kristen Nelson's blog Pub Rants. Check out The The Impotence of Proofreading (that's not MY typo LOL).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

And the Golden Heart Goes to...

Every year, I love attending the Romance Writers of America Awards Ceremony for published and unpublished authors. It's as glamorous & exciting as the Academy Awards. This year was especially poignant as my friend and fellow writer Pat O’Dea Rosen won the 2010 Golden Heart for Novel with Strong Romantic Elements with her book A PLACE AT THE TABLE. At my request, Pat graciously agreed to guest blog about where she gets her writing ideas.  I know you'll adore her as much as I do. ~ Vicky

I love newspapers. I began reading Ann Landers’ column in the long-defunct Newark (N.J.) Evening News before I understood some of the problems her readers described. The New York Daily News’ headlines hooked me early, and the New York Times showed me newspapers didn’t need comics to pull in readers. I’d turn the pages of its magazine section and picture myself in the glossy ads. Human-interest stories were and still are my favorite read.

These days, I live in Texas, where a subscription to the daily New York Times qualifies as a luxury item, but subscribe I do. In this mean economy, newspapers have cut the number and depth of the feature stories they run, but the Times’ budget still allows for longer, thoughtful pieces.

The heroine of A PLACE AT THE TABLE, my Golden Heart-winning manuscript, was inspired by a Times series on people in unusual medical/hospital jobs. One of the people featured was a social worker/hospital-discharge planner. As I read her story, I remember wondering what kind of person writes detailed instructions about a to-be-discharged patient’s on-going therapy, prescriptions, and care? What kind of person chooses to run interference between patients and insurers and between patients and their frightened or exasperated loved ones? As I was reading fact, I spun fiction and decided, with apologies to the real-life planner in the article, that such a person had control issues. I even decided such a person was the adult child of an alcoholic and had been the type of kid to keep track of her mom’s AA meetings. Later in the article, when the real-life planner alluded to a relative with an addictive personality, I wasn’t surprised and felt free to go deeper into make-believe.

On September 1, the Times did an article about a candidate for public office who makes a point of hugging people to win their approval. His advisors refer to these hugs as “mind melds,” and a photo shows the candidate cheek-to-cheek with a supporter. By the time I finished reading, I pictured a boss who manipulates those who rely on her for a paycheck. I don’t think my fictional boss uses hugs, but her father might have. Or did he withhold them?

Newspaper stories jumpstart my imagination, and I’m detached enough from the events and people described to go where it takes me. A friend recently confided a secret, and my primitive brain screamed, I’m using that. But I can’t. My mind won’t travel to worst-case scenarios when a friend’s involved, and it refuses to see humor in her dilemma.

The Times’ Sunday wedding feature, “Vows,” is an auto-read for me and so is “The Boss” feature in Sunday’s business section. I read about athletes whose sports I don’t understand and devour travel articles about places I’ll never visit. It’s all fodder.

Pat O'Dea Rosen writes family stories that mix drama and humor--a blend that duplicates dinner conversations at her house. Between two long teaching stints, she spent a decade in the newspaper business, seven of them as a reporter. A newpaper editor once told her: "You know your problem? You think everybody's interesting." She doesn't consider that a flaw. Pat lives in Houston with her husband and two cats. Her grown children live nearby and keep mealtimes lively.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happiness is Holding Your First Book

I got a package in the mail today. Here's is why I cried.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Here's a fun sharing game - thanks to my fellow debut author & good friend Laurie London for suggesting it.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:


Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks!

My Teasers: From LAST NIGHT'S SCANDAL by Loretta Chase

"Make up your mind," she said.
"You come to a man's bedchamber in the dead of night, dressed in your nightgown -- and you expect him to have a mind to make up?"

Remember to leave me 2 teasers in the comment box or a link to your blog posting 2 teasers.
 
Have fun!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sharing My Favs from Around the Web

Summer at Chez Dreiling has been a bit crazy with the College Kidlets and College Pets breezing in and out the door. Between the day job and the deadline, there just don't seem to be enough hours in the day. But I check Twitter periodically (O.K. frequently) and keep finding some real gems posted by those in the writing community. So I decided to share a few links to articles and blogs that I found illuminating.

May the Magic Romance Fairies be with You!
Vicky

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Plot Versus Character

After I finished revising HOW TO MARRY A DUKE, I had one of those ah-hah moments. I realized that every scene in the book was about the premise. In retrospect, it seems obvious that every scene should promote the premise. But the plot of the story is the vehicle. Without character, readers have no reason to care.

Although I consciously chose a high-concept premise at the outset of writing HOW TO MARRY A DUKE, I never thought about plot and character as separate entities. Many authors claim their stories are either plot-driven or character-driven. That doesn't make sense to me. One cannot exist without the other. If, as I believe, conflict is the engine of the story, then plot makes up the external hurdle and the POV character's reaction forms the internal struggle. The two elements are closely intertwined. In order for the reader to become engaged, she must feel an emotional connection to the characters.

The plot or events in the story exist to force the characters out of their comfort zones. At the beginning of the story, the characters face a moment of decision. In THE WRITER'S JOURNEY, Christopher Vogler identifies this stage as The Call to Adventure. Resistance is common, but as in real life, external events sometimes force us to take unexpected journeys. Those journeys and the decisions we make along the way are often referred to as character-building. And so, fiction mirrors real life, albeit amplified to make the story compelling.

I don't think it matters whether the writer starts with premise or character; each presents challenges for the author. In my case, I had to invent a hero and heroine that fit the premise. I had to create their histories and give them story goals that made sense in terms of their pasts as well as their situations at the start of the story (Vogler identifies this stage as The Ordinary World). The goals we create for our characters spring from wants and needs. While the characters usually don't understand their deepest needs until late in the story, writers have to discover this in order to know what drives our characters to act and make decisions. When we know their deepest desires and fears, we can then throw obstacles at our characters in the form of external plot that challenge and gradually change them for the better.

Plot and character aren't mutually exclusive. One doesn't supersede the other. In the best of stories, plot and character are closely interwoven.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Bachelorette & Her Emo Boys

Weatherman is reduced to Man Tears because he has to kiss Ali.



More drama next week!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Bachelorette

It's the 6th season for ABC's show & I'm totally hooked again. Check out this video where Derrick confesses & proves he's TSTL.

ABC.com - The Bachelorette - The Bachelors

ABC.com - The Bachelorette - The Bachelors

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Words for Women to Live By

My good friend Ellen sent me this in an email, and because it made me smile, I thought I'd post for all my friends, old and new, near and far. Love you all.

1. Aspire to be Barbie - the bitch has everything.

2. If the shoe fits - buy them in every colour.

3. Take life with a pinch of salt... A wedge of lime, and a shot of tequila.

4. In need of a support group? - Cocktail hour with the girls!

5. Go on the 30 day diet. (I'm on it and so far I've lost 15 days).

6. When life gets you down - just put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

7. Let your greatest fear be that there is no PMS and this is just your personality..

8. I know I'm in my own little world, but it's ok. They know me here.

9. Lead me not into temptation, I can find it myself..

10. Don't get your knickers in a knot; it solves nothing and makes you walk funny.

11. When life gives you lemons - buy some Coronas.

12. Forget about the perfect man - he's living in Bondi with his boyfriend.

13. Keep your chin up, only the first 40 years of parenthood are the hardest.

14. If it has Tires or Testicles it's gonna give you trouble.

15. By the time a women realizes her mother was right, she has a daughter who thinks she's wrong.

Friday, April 23, 2010

As Luck Would Have It

When I look back at my writing career thus far, I'm amazed at how many fortunate circumstances I encountered. Some of these events are so improbable they make my jaw drop in retrospect.

For example, several years ago when I was new to writing, I decided to attend the Moonlight & Magnolia conference because I'd finaled in the Maggies. I signed up for an appointment with an editor. There was just one big problem: I didn't have a clue how to pitch a manuscript. This was a group appointment with 12 authors. When the first author finished her perfectly short pitch, I knew I was in trouble. I looked down at my legal pad (you're allowed to guffaw now) and started rattling non-stop. My face heated. I knew I was botching the pitch. I came within inches of standing up, announcing I was a fraud, and telling the editor I wouldn't waste her time.

Then the editor said, "Wait a minute. I know this book."

Here is the improbable part. She'd read three chapters and a synopsis in The Orange Rose contest. Keep in mind this contest did not announce the editor judges in advance, so I had no way of knowing who judged it. I'd been writing for six months and got my first full request with the worst pitch on the planet. Are you thinking it was pure dumb luck?

I've always thought so until I read an article in The Telegraph by Richard Wiseman entitled Be lucky - it's an easy skill to learn. The article reported experiments designed to discover why some people are luckier than others. Read the full article here: http://bit.ly/cOJaNj.

The research results found that lucky people notice chance opportunities, make decisions based on hunches rather than just logic, expect good things to happen, and see the positive side of bad fortune.

Let's return to that incredible lucky circumstance at the M&M conference. When I got the call telling me I was a finalist, the coordinator urged me to attend and said editors would pay attention to me. I really couldn't afford it. If I'd listened to Logic, I would have passed up the opportunity. Instead, I listened to my intuition. Not only did I get that request, I won first place in the historical category.

Fast forward to the day I finished polishing my second manuscript. I announced on a loop that I'd written the end. Now keep in mind, I'd not found time to research agents because of my travel schedule, but I planned to do so after I returned from a two-week business trip to Europe. While waiting for a flight to London, I checked my email. A published author who had read my first three chapters said she'd told her agent about my manuscript. The agent wanted me to query her immediately. I wrote the query in the airport, emailed it, and ten jet-lagged hours later, I found a request for the full in my email box.

Sure, it was a lucky break, but I'd volunteered many months earlier to review this published author's books. I didn't expect anything in return; I just liked her books. But the author kindly extended a helping hand to me.

I took advantage of other opportunities. I entered a contest because the grand prize was a check for the RWA conference in San Francisco. In truth, I knew it was an outside chance, but I figured it couldn't hurt to enter 5 pages. Not only did I get a request for the full, but I also got the overall highest score, netting me that conference fee. It never would have happened if I'd not entered.

I also entered an online contest on an agent's website just for grins. The competition was stiff, but again, I figured it couldn't hurt to try. Not only did I win first runner up, but I got yet another request for the full manuscript.

In a previous post, I blogged about how I met my agent by accident twice at conferences. I didn't even know about that first conference until friends asked if I wanted to go with them. Once again, I acted on a hunch and decided to attend. If I'd not gone, I would never have met Lucienne Diver. The second time we met was yet another chance encounter at the San Francisco RWA conference.

Was it all hearts and flowers? Of course not. That first agent who requested my full manuscript asked me to revise and resubmit. There was a big problem, however. She wanted me to change the premise of the book. Keep in mind she's a great agent. I have the utmost respect for her. She's done great things for my friend's career and for many other authors. She answered all my questions promptly, but we couldn't agree on the premise. Regretfully, I declined her offer, but I see it as a positive experience. Because I turned down that first offer, I met my dream agent only a few weeks later. :-)

Did I ever get rejections? Of course I did with my first and second manuscript. Some were tough to take, but the tough times made me appreciate that first sale all the more.

Luck played a role, but I also worked very, very hard on that second manuscript. I didn't send out a first draft. I ruthlessly rewrote the manuscript twice. And that hard work coupled with taking advantage of opportunities eventually culminated in my first sale.

Even with that first manuscript, I worked very hard despite being so green I glowed in the dark. I took 2 writing classes simultaneously. I wrote, rewrote, and polished that manuscript. Then I dared to enter 5 regional contests. I won 4 out of 5 and finaled in the Golden Heart. Eventually, I rewrote that manuscript for that editor I met at the M&M conference, and I got a heartbreaking rejection. But shortly afterwards, my personal life underwent some drastic, unexpected changes. If I'd sold that book, I'm convinced it would have been a disaster. What seemed unlucky turned out to be in my best interests in the long run.

Work hard, be open to possibilities, and most of all, keep a positive attitude. You can make luck happen.

Tell me your lucky writing stories!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bunnies Rock!

Check out this awesome video of a cat adopting a baby bunny. Thanks to Katie Babs for posting the link on Twitter.