Thursday, September 30, 2010

Spotlight with 2009's Mr. Romance, Charles Paz

Today's spotlight is a little different. Instead of having a writer or author stop by to answer some questions, I asked Charles Paz, 2009's Mr. Romance to be the spotlight for the month. He's dabbled in modeling and photography, and graced the cover of a few romance novels. (Side note: Charles and I grew up in the same hometown; even went to the same elementary school.) It's very cool that he took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions. Thanks again.

1-Congratulations on your 2009 Mr. Romance win! What have you been doing since earning the title?

Thank you very much. It’s been a very awesome accomplishment. I’m very grateful for it and all that has come with it. Seems like it’s been so long since I won that thing. Hahaha. Since then, I have been on a few book covers. Connie Mason’s Lord of the Devil’s Isle', I’m on the cover of that. I won that one from the contest. I’m also on a few e-books as well. I’m not only a paid MODEL, but also PHOTOGRAPHER for the covers as well. I multi-task very nicely.

2-Is modeling and gracing the cover of romance novels something you always wanted to do? How'd you get into it?

I never in my life would have thought I would have done what I have. I used to weigh almost 300lbs and decided to change my lifestyle. I did a body building show and lost 90lbs. I did some photoshoots after that, which lead to modeling, which lead to people in the industry noticing me, which lead to me competing and winning the competition, which lead to where I’m at now. Not an 'icon' in the industry, but definitely more than just an option and refuse to be forgotten.

3-I follow you on Facebook and noticed you're taking up photography as well. What's it like to go from in front of the camera to behind it?

I’ve always been the guy that takes pictures. Disposables in high school. Point and shoots at family events. I went to a shootout in Vegas and they handed me a camera and wanted to see what I could do with it. So, I took a shot, looked at it, adjusted the lighting and a few other things and took another shot. Showed the guy and he called everyone over to check it out. I guess that’s when “5th Element” was born. I’ve been shooting ever since. I have been doing a lot of shoots with models and stylists, but I do my best work with kids and families.

4-What has your experience been so far, working with people in the romance industry?

Hahahaha!…Oh, the industry…sigh. It’s had its moments. The good with the bad. The salty with the sweet. The authors, fans, writers. Most of them are pretty awesome people. I’m very glad to have met them. Now, the publishers on the other hand…very different story. Now, I’m not talking bad when I’m talking the truth. All I’m gonna say is that it’s a little sad when people see you as a “threat” to their company, and do a lot to tarnish your name and reputation. I’m more of “The People’s Covermodel” though. Hahaha! I love the fans and authors who want me on their covers. Always will. It does hurt a little to know that the publishers kinda got me “black listed”, but I’m not gonna let being Mr. Romance define who I am.

5-I've heard all kinds of stories from writers/authors who attend the RT Convention...what's it like from a models perspective?

OH MAN. The good ole RT Convention . I highly recommend anybody who writes books, read books, or loves books to go to one. This year it will be in Los Angeles. I’m pretty sure I will be there. It’s gonna be a BLAST. As a model, hee hee hee, it’s pretty fun. Like I said, I’ve been dubbed “The People’s Covermodel”. I’m not your normal I’m better than you, stuck up covermodel. I literally approach and talk to everyone there. In some ways, it has hurt my career because I get looked at as just another person by some people in charge of covers. I’d probably get more work/covers if I was quieter, kept to myself and kissed butt with the people in the higher ranks of the companies. I honestly could care less. I’ve never been one to kiss butt to get anywhere. I’d much rather meet the fans, sign autographs, take pics and make sure the people who attend this convention have fun, than to just do private parties with higher ranks, try to score cool points and get on covers. Before I’m Mr. Romance, I’m always gonna be Charles Paz and in a way, being who I am is what got me to where I am now.

6-Finally, where do you go from here? Any big plans? Goals for the future?

The best is still 'unwritten' I guess. I don’t think too far into the future. Life is day by day. Choice by choice. I have been training for the Sacramento NPC Body Building show that is the first weekend of November. It will be my 4th show and I’m hoping to do well. Afterwards, I’ll more than likely do a few photoshoots as well. In all honesty, 'Mr.Romance' wants to settle down with a 'Miss Romance'. Hahaha. Not gonna just go out there and get hooked up with the first girl that comes, but I’m thinkin’ it’s time to not be afraid of loving someone again and actually be happy. The photography business will be booming real soon. You can checkout my modeling and fashion photography on “Fifth Element”, which used to be my Mr. Romance page. Click here for more info.

And you can also see my family and children, along with other fun shoots on my Charles David Photography page. Click here to be redirected.

I would like to thank Kristin for this interview. I always take the chance to reach out to fans and this is the best way for them to learn a little bit more about me. I always appreciate and love the fans. And always remember..... RULE #37

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for Pararomance readers! I'm not sure what Rule #37 is, but I wish you luck with your modeling and photography career!

Agents! Or lack thereof...

I've been hovering over my email for weeks, waiting for that one message telling me I've sold to Grand Central or Avon. (Those are the two NY publishers my agent submitted to. Still waiting for the response, fyi.) Instead of opening my mail and finding a sale of my paranormal, I opened my mail and found a disheartening letter from my agent.

Well, disheartening on my end.

I am now, once again, unagented. *Sigh* Wylie-Merrick Literary has decided to open a small press (I'll give the details about their name and titles when I'm allowed to do so--1/1/11) which means it's in my best interest to cut ties. There's nothing wrong with small press publishers. My romantic suspense, which I should have a cover and release date for soon, are with a small press...I've just got my sights set on The Big Six for my paranormal. (The Big Six are the six major publishers in NYC for you non-writing folk.)

I believe in my paranormal. I think the writing is tight and the premise is marketable. I think it resembles what's selling, with unique twists. Everything it should be to land a place in Borders and Barnes & Noble. But it's my baby, so I could be biased.

All in all, I wish Wylie-Merrick Literary luck in their small press endeavors. And I could use the luck as well, as I rehash my query and start the dreaded agent search again.

For some reason Tom Petty's Square One is stuck in my head this morning. Wonder why...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why do men chase women?

Pardon my 1980's nerdiness as I take you back to:

Now, I know you must be thinking, why on earth is she talking about a movie that was filmed over twenty years ago...

The reason is that it's funny. And romantic. *And it was on television last night* But it also has enough cheesy lines to have your eyes rolling until they ache.

Case in point:

Ronnie: I love you!
Loretta: (slaps him twice) Well snap out of it!


Rose: How's his mother?
Loretta: She's dying. But I could still hear her big mouth.

You can't stop watching the film for more than the crazy Italian family dynamic and the witty...I mean, cheesy, dialogue. Despite yourself, you end up liking the characters. You want to watch them go crazy trying to work themselves's that funny.

Throughout the film, an Italian mother, Rose, (who is being cheated on by her brash Italian husband), asks the age-old question: Why do men chase women?

By her question and her current circumstance, I assume she means "Why do men in relationships chase other women?"

Johnny (the man betrothed to her daughter Loretta) answers that men chase women because (and forgive my paraphrasing here), man was created by God, then women were created from Adam's rib, and now men feel like a part of them is they search for the woman to fill the hole in their chest.

Rose isn't having his thought-provoking answer because technically her husband had already found his her! When Rose questions Johnny on this, he verifies her belief. She believes that men are afraid of death.

My favorite line in the whole movie happens when she's sitting in the living room, watching her husband walk in after a rendezvous with the other woman. She says "I just want you to know, no matter what you do you're going to die, just like everybody else." Classic. He thanks her (THANKS HER!) and retreats upstairs to their room where he'll, no doubt, sleep alone. We never know, but that's my best guess because the next night (or maybe it was the night before), she has dinner with another man...

She asks him the question "Why do men chase women?" He says (and again with my paraphrasing) that men who are feeling like a shadow of their former selves can live inside the reflection of a young woman. They can see their former glorious self through the eyes of a woman who thinks highly of them. But, over the course of a few weeks, the women realize they're falling for a shadow and not the man they thought he was, causing the man to chase another young woman.

Rose isn't having this answer either.

It got me thinking...Why do men chase women? Boredom? Stress? Something missing from their current relationship? Taking the easy way out? Primal instinct? Whatcha think?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Meet an Author Monday!

Here's how it works:

•Follow as many authors as you like. Just follow the Linky list and hop from author to author. The idea is to find as many "new to you" authors as you can, and hopefully some great new reading material as well. Leave a comment as you hop from blog to blog! We'd love to chat with you!

•Follow the Meet an author Monday host (Cali Cheer Mom) along with any of the wonderfully talented authors on the list.
•You will need to enter your name and blog url into the Linky tool.
•Grab our super cute button and place it in a post. (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) If you don't create a post for the hop, your readers won't have a place to comment, and the hop will stop with you. So create a post, paste in the Linky code and start hopping!
•The purpose of the hop is to meet "new to you" authors and discover great new reads. Follow as many authors as you can. Leave a comment and introduce yourself!
•If you'd like to share the Linky list in a post on your blog ( Please do!) just follow the link and grab the code.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Silent Sunday


"Without a wish, without a will,
I stood upon that silent hill,
And stared into the sky until,
My eyes were blind with stars and still
I stared into the sky."
--Ralph Hodgson


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Post Traumatic Crazy-Child Disorder

Remember my post from last week? The one with The Wedding and the Crazy-Whacked-Out-Children? In case you missed it, go here.

After all I went through, I'm going to do it again. I have another wedding to go to tonight. Husband isn't feeling well so he's out of commission...that means I'm facing off against the kids again.

Even though Tank is keeping his misbehavin' behind at home...even though I'll have at least some help this go round (my parents will be there in case of meltdown #2)...even though I'm taking Princess and last time she did great...I just can't shake the feeling that things are going to be crazy again.

After much introspection and research (thanks to google) I've realized what I'm suffering from is a common condition among mothers called PTCCD--Post Traumatic Crazy-Child Disorder.

If you're a mother, you might have it. It's a very serious condition, not to be taken lightly. Signs of PTCCD are: Migraines, stomach ulcers, twitches over one or both eyes that lasts longer than one day, leg cramps from chasing unruly children, flagrant screaming at children that may or may not be yours, insomnia, bags under the eyes, dark purple veins bulging from forehead, and one or more days spent in sweat pants with holes in the knees and spit-up or dried food on the shirt.

Luckily, the condition is curable. When your children turn eighteen it miraculously disappears. (Sadly, the bags under the eyes remain.)

Could this be you? If so, we should seek treatment together. Groups gather regularly (much like AA meetings) to help mothers suffering from PTCCD...they're called Mother's Groups or Mother's Clubs. Clever name to hide the true meaning of what they really are: PTCCD Recovery Groups.

I'm going to look for one in my area.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Webster's Dictionary defines "kindle" as this:

kindle–verb (used with object)
1. to start (a fire); cause (a flame, blaze, etc.) to begin burning.
2. to set fire to or ignite (fuel or any combustible matter).
3. to excite; stir up or set going; animate; rouse; inflame: He kindled their hopes of victory.
4. to light up, illuminate, or make bright: Happiness kindled her eyes.

I define kindle as this:

Ain't it purdy?

I can't believe I actually have one--Thank you Coolest Mother Ever. I was hesitant, I have to admit. Way hesitant. I didn't know if reading the printed page would be the same as reading the Kindle screen--It is! It really is! There are books on my shelves that haven't gotten hand-time and are extremely jealous right now.

But at this point, I don't care. (Sorry, sad little Sudden Death. Don't look so glum. Your Death came *rather Suddenly* before the Kindle graced my fingers. I started Carnal Sin, the second in Allison Brennan's Seven Deadly Sins series, and am now hooked beyond repair--Sudden Death is waiting until the other five in the series are written and published. Get to it, Brennan! *wink)

The rest can sit for awhile longer. At least until I've finished a book or two on the New and Interesting. They should understand the excitement and wonder. I've got a bright and shiny new Kindle 3 with 3G for crying out loud! (Thank you again Coolest Mother Ever! Wasn't that the perfect gift for getting an e-pub contract? An e-reader to e-read my e-book? Heh.)

I'm excited. Stirred up. Roused. Inflamed. Illuminated with joy. The true definition of kindle.

But don't worry books on my shelves, I won't set fire or ignite you. You won't become kindle. Not until I download you, anyway.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I am *THAT* mother

Oh, boy. Confession time.

I went to an ex-students wedding on Saturday. Husband had to jet right after the ceremony to get to I was left alone with Princess and Tank. Usually...and I now emphasize the word Usually as if it's the most important word in the English language...Usually the kids are great. They're not perfect angels, but they have manners. They're well-behaved. They're respectful and listen when I tell them to do something.

I prepared for the wedding as a "good mother" should. I brought cars, crayons, pads of paper, tic-tac-toe sheets, barbies, Nintendo DS and three games, Cheez-Its and Popcorn. Enough to keep the kids busy through Armageddon. Seriously.

They. Were. Not. Having. It.

The wedding went off without a hitch. Tank started to get squirmy so I took him outside. No biggie, right?

Within five minutes of the reception starting, things started to break down. Tank didn't want any of the toys. He kept saying he was hungry...but not for the snacks I brought. He was beyond irritable. (Might've had something to do with him getting four shots two days prior...) He had an "accident", spilled drinks all over the beautifully arranged table, played tag with a kid from the table over and proceeded to "tag" him in the back with a fork.

Oh, but it gets worse. Any time I tried to talk to him, to get him to calm down and stop running all over the joint like a madman, he screamed bloody murder and pulled away from me. Not normal for the boy who gets dejected when I discipline him by simply tell him "no" at home. Any of you out there who know Tank, know he is Mr. Mellow-Yellow. He's quiet. Shy. Apparently not this night.

It gets worse. You see, I know my kid is acting up. I know he's being a pain. I don't need to be told by someone else.

A woman the next table over (with two boys my kids' age who were acting like total angels) leaned over to me and said, "I brought toys for my kids. If you want, your son can play with some of these." She handed me a plastic frog. Tank screamed. I said, "Oh no thanks. You see, I brought toys...and food. He's just having a bad day or something. This isn't normal and I'm not sure what's going on with him." She looked at me like I sprouted six heads. Like it was an excuse I've given a thousand times at a thousand different weddings.

I realized...I am THAT mother. The one with the child running rampant around a beautiful reception. Never in a million years would I have thought that to be me. I would have sat Tank in the car on a gazillion second time-out...but I couldn't leave Princess alone in the hall. (I gave him three timeouts in the hall of the bathroom, though, where his scream echoed so loud I'm still deaf in one ear.) I would have left the reception completely...but I already told Princess we could stay for the beautiful Princess cake. She was so excited.

When I told her we had to leave because her brother was throwing a conniption-fit, she threw a conniption-fit like only a six year old girl knows how. Water works started. The bottom lip popped out. Her feet dragged the floor. She pleaded her case with everyone she saw on the way out. I was the evil step-mother tearing her away from the ball.

Oh, boy.

Picture this: I'm dragging a screaming three year old with one arm and holding the hand of a wailing six year old drama queen in the other who "Swears she'd be good enough for cake if I just let her stay!"

After they were buckled into the car and the crescendo escalated in the cab, I slouched against the side of the truck and took a deep breath.

I am that mother.

I was never going to be this mother.

The world has officially flipped on its head.

Then I came to the conclusion that all those other mothers might've been having a bad day too. Their kids might not be hellions every day. They might've just gotten shots. The mother might've been holding the fort all her own with no one to lend a helping hand. The kids might've been sleep-deprived. Hungry. Fussy.

I was so judgmental.

I apologize to all the mothers I've judged through the years for unruly children. I feel your pain. We all try our best...sometimes though, the worst days shadow our best efforts. We end up looking and feeling like failures in the process, but we have to remember: It's a single day. One day.

And tomorrow's a new one.

Today I'm going to take this lesson on perspective and apply it to my work-in-progress. So much hinges on whose perspective a scene is written. The scene at the wedding would have been completely different had it been from the bride's perspective. Or from the woman offering up her son's frog. Or from Tank.

Times like these help me remember that a scene needs to be written from the person who has the most to lose. That night, it was me. I lost my sanity. I'm only now getting it back one behaved child moment at a time.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Just wanted to drop in between carting the munchkins around here and there to remind you of a few things...

I added a new snippet above titled "About Me" in which I answer 30 random questions about myself.

I added some Helpful Tools for Writers links on my sidebar. Take a look--some good stuff there.

Sophie Littlefield, author of A Bad Day for Sorry and A Bad Day for Pretty has agreed to stop by the month of October and answer some questions. She'll also be giving away a signed copy of her YA novel, Banished.

Also coming sometime this week or next is interview with 2009's Mr. Romance, Charles Paz.

Run on over to my wildly talented critique partner's blog today. She's having a blog hop to meet some new writers/readers/authors.

And finally, have you entered the Pararomance Giveaway yet? It ends October 31st and I'm giving away some pretty good books. Take a look here.

That's all for now. Have a look around my minorly tweaked blog, enter my contest to win some free books, hop on over to Cali Cheer Mom and have a great week!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Little Inspiration on this Silent Sunday


“In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you."
--Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Friday, September 17, 2010

Imaginary Writing Process

Everyone seems to have dreams about what the writing process is like.

You're a writer? I've heard, time and time again. It must be easy for you to write a book, right? You're good at English, so that must help.

Yeah. That degree in my dresser drawer turns out four hundred pages in three months all by its lonesome. Every night it sprouts legs and stomps its jagged corners all over my keyboard. I wake up and the work is done. Voila!

Oh, and did I mention that the sun is always shining on my work, the inspiration is flowing, and the words falling onto the page are the best ones EVER written in the history of writing? Ever? I'm telling you now. They're good. (No, no, really. They're not. In fact, the sun is sweltering in the valley right now, the inspiration is flat and the words falling onto the page are these. BAP! ZOW! WHIZ! See how cool those words are?)

Likewise, everyone who has tried their hand at writing has dreams about what the publishing process is like. Agents and editors are lined up at your door, begging to represent you. Oh, and the New York Times just made #1 on their soon as you write the book of your life.

Sounds dreamy, doesn't it?

The truth is, writing is hard. Really hard. Most days the inspiration well is dry. Most days I spend hours digging through the muck at the bottom of said well just to find a drop of water I can exploit to give to a thousand thirsty children in the Sudan. Hey, I can be the Mother Theresa of writing, can't I?

But writing is fun. There's nothing else I'd rather be doing this fine Friday morning...other than shopping...or getting my nails done...or having coffee with one of my lovely critique partners gabbing about writing...I suppose then that writing is a labor of love.

We push through the muck because we love that muck. We love the way that muck hardens into rubies and emeralds in the sun and shimmers all glossy and slick in the rain. When it's all said and done, that muck is a work of art. And we're proud muck holders.

In the meantime, while I'm waiting for that lightning bolt of inspiration to strike in the middle of this summer heat, I can skulk around YouTube and find videos like these...ones that make you scream YES! THAT IS HOW IT SHOULD BE!

So take a look. Fill up your well of inspiration...or not, and just pound on those keys until they turn to dust.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Top Ten Romance Writing Cliches

As I started writing the sequel to Enemy, Beloved, I realized I wanted this book to be different. I wanted it to stand out from the other vampire, shapeshifting, otherworldly books out there. I've heard from agents/editors countless times, "Bestselling novels are the same, but different. A unique twist on a stable, selling platform." Great advice, but you wouldn't know how to make your novel different unless you first know about all the others out there, right?

Obviously, that means you have to read what you write. A lot. *As a side note, you should also read things from other subgenres as well. I learned so much from Monica McCarty's The Chief and The Hawk it's mind-spinning. Historicals are much different from paranormals (and that's probably a blog post all its own), but the point is to read, read, read, then write something unique.

I've been reading a ton lately and the more I read, the more I notice similar slogans, familiar story lines, dialogue that the author was using to beat a dead horse...well, okay, you get where I'm going.

In the spirit of putting different spins on the stories you write, I give you "Top Ten Romance Writing Cliches."

10-The use of "Running his fingers through his hair..." at every turn. I have to be careful for this one. When I picture my hero frustrated, pacing a tight circle, the first thing I see is him scrubbing his hands across his head. But do you see that too? Haven't you read that a million times? I have. It's beginning to get to me. In my next book I'm going to toss all the "fingers through the hair" and come up with something long as he's not picking his nose. Heh-heh.

9-Big busted heroines with tiny waists, bright doe eyes, full lips, flowing mahogany hair...and no self-esteem. Why would the hero want her? She's not worthy of love. She's a virgin, cast aside by society. Really? How many women in our society are like that? Do you really think Kim Kardashian, Salma Hayek, or Fergie make themselves victims in that way? Or do they use their beauty to get what they want? I'm not saying they don't have low self-esteem--they might--I'm just saying the "stunning woman with low self-esteem who has never gotten attention from a man until the hero comes around" is a little played out.

8-The only person who sees the heroine as breathtakingly beautiful is the hero. Something to watch for: If your heroine is as strikingly gorgeous as you say she is...and there's other beta-heroes in your novel, how do they react to her? Wouldn't they have some sort of a reaction resembling your hero's? How does she respond to that attention?

7-The evil ex-wife. The malicious woman who spoiled the hero for other women. Because of this baggage, he believes all women are evil, treats the heroine like garbage...until she proves to him that she's different. The ex-wife doesn't even have to be on the page. Once again, if you haven't read Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca, you need to. Rebecca manages to terrorize Maxim's new wife from the grave the entire novel, but instead of getting stuck in that cliche, DuMaurier makes Maxim stronger for the loss and keeps the past-dwelling at an absolute minimum. Good stuff.

6-Meeting in bars. I don't know what it is, but lately every book I open has something to do with the hero and heroine meeting in a bar-type setting. A club. An after-hours lounge. A bar at a prestigious restaurant. They're all the same. Mix it up a bit. I don't care for bars--never have. Give me somewhere else to connect with your lead characters.

5-The sexually charged hero who refuses to settle for one woman...until he meets the virginal heroine, of course. She challenges him, making him lose his mind before changing it. I think if this one is done right, it works. (*Read McCarty's The Hawk) However, sometimes I feel like if the hero was the Casanova the author painted him to be, why would he be choosing this naive woman to settle down with? Why does he want to settle down at all? Not fifty pages earlier the author wrote that the hero LOVED his playboy ways. What does the heroine have that's so special? Maybe that's the fault. What makes the heroine "special" doesn't off-set the hero's "desire" to be a player.

4-Avoid phrases like: all walks of life, give the devil his due, never a dull moment, behind the eight ball, hook, line, and sinker, nipped in the bud, bitter end, by hook or crook, calm before the storm in the nick of time. You get the idea.

3-Stipulations in Wills. Loved one dies, forcing two people together from the grave. Usually, one person has to marry before a certain date or work with someone on a project on a strict timeline (forcing them to work nicely together and fall in love). Maybe it's just me, but I'm a say-it-like-it-is type of gal. If my grandmother had a stipulation in her will that I had to marry a guy I despised (granted I was single), I would simply get a really good lawyer and fight it. My first reaction would not be to bitterly fight for the money alongside a "hero" who also greedily wants the money. See my problem?

2-Shadowed eyes. Oh, there's something behind them. But what? Is it a secret? Does the vampire hero want to drink from your vein? Does he have to use the restroom but is too embarrassed to say something? Okay, okay, I'm being a tad ridiculous. But the cliche is ridiculous when it's overused.

And the Number One Cliche in Romance Writing is...

1-The evil other woman. You all know who I'm talking about. She's the hero's gorgeous co-worker with the hips that won't quit. He pays no interest. (Of course, right, because what man would????) Every time she enters the scene, the heroine feels insecure and jealous, the hero is oblivious, co-worker flirts before leaving the room, and the hero and heroine fight. Played. Out. I've read versions where the evil other woman purposefully tries to split up the hero and heroine. I've also read versions where the evil other woman is a current or past mistress, trying to sink her claws back into her man before the heroine can. Here's an idea...what about the co-worker who's smoking hot and is actually, I don't know, NICE? Why does she have to be evil and assertive to balance the heroine's meekness? How about making the heroine strong and confident in herself?

These are just my opinions, of course. I realize the reasons we find these everywhere are because they really do work. We like reading the familiar. We enjoy twists and turns an author throws at us. We like reading about "the same, but different." So now go and write it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pen Names

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Juliet, by way of Shakespeare, got it right.

A name doesn't make the writer, does it? It's the words within the book that drive people to read others by the same author, right? Then why is the topic of names so important?

One of the first questions people ask me when they find out I'm a writer is "Will you be published under your name or will you take a pen name?" Which (as a side note) I find odd. Wouldn't the first question be "How close are you to getting published?" and not "What name will be printed on your book?" Thanks for the vote of confidence, people. I wish it were that simple. Write. Publish. Pick a name. Voila! New Yorks Times Bestselling Author!

But no. Not that simple by a long shot. Anyone who's tried their hand at writing and breaking into the publishing industry knows that much.

And to be honest, I'm not sure what to tell those confident people who ask about my published name.

As I toil through books, spending hours and hours of time with the characters, constructing a conflicting story with a satisfying ending, I think No way. I want my name on this book. I worked hard for it. Wouldn't that be the greatest victory, seeing my name on the shelves of Barnes and Noble? Yeah. It would.

I think the question people really mean to ask is "Why do people pick pen names?"

So here's a few answers I've come up with:

1-Anonymity. If you're happily writing Erotica at night, while working a wholesome day job as a nanny, I'd say you wouldn't want people to know your published name. Sometimes it seems much simpler to keep your day job and writing separate.

2-Difficult to pronounce or non-writing birth name. If your name is so unique or so ethnic that people can hardly pronounce it when you speak it to them, how will it read on a book cover? Will people skim over it because they get lost in all the mumbo-jumbo? Or will it roll off the tongue like Meg Cabot and Nora Roberts and J.R. Ward. Those names are simple. Clean. Bestselling. Go figure.

3-To sound more like a romance writer. I know this may sound ridiculous, but I've heard it mentioned on a few occasions talking with writer friends. There are some who believe there are "romance writing names" that take to the industry. In Romancing the Stone, for example, the leading lady's name is Joan Wilder. She's a romance writer and has a name known round-the-world. Yup. Joan. Wilder. Romance. Writer. Done deal.

4-Because there's already someone using your name. And unfortunately, this is where I now fall. You see, there is another Kristin Miller* who writes for Women's World. There is another Kristin Miller* who writes Young Adult. And there is yet another Kristin Miller* who writes for medical journals. If someone were to see my name in print on the cover of a wildly popular paranormal book and think I absolutely have to read more of her work (hey, I can dream), they'd most likely go home and google me. They could easily get lost in the other Kristin Miller's and pick their books instead. (And of course be thoroughly disappointed-heh.)

5-Because their attempt at making bestselling status fell short. If, let's say, I tried my hand at Kristin Miller and my sales flatlined, I might be persuaded by my agent or editor to take a pen. Publishers would see me as a liability. Wal-Mart wouldn't stock me. I'd have to change my name to earn that fresh start back in the business. It's happened to more authors than we realize. I met two last month...but I can't remember which one of their pen names was their "real name" and which was their "current name" so I will remain silent.

6-Because the author wants to genre-hop. If I'm writing erotica as Kristin Miller (which I'm not, fyi), but also felt the desire to write Young Adult (which I don't), I'd most definitely need a pen name. Keeping Kristin Miller might lose readership. Who'd want their teenage daughter reading something from the same person who writes hot, steamy scenes?

I'm sure there are other reasons for opting to use a pen name, but these are a few I came up with on this lazy Sunday morning.

When I started this writing journey, I was so focused on my own work and my own reward, that I didn't see the big picture. I was selfish. I wanted my name printed on a book, darn it. Now I'm looking at the bigger picture. And that bigger picture includes many other clones of Kristin. I could get lost. You, my readers, could get lost.

And I don't want that. That would be as tragic as a pair star-crossed lovers taking their life.

So...for the next few days I'm going to be tossing over names. When I pick one, I'll let you all know so you can be sure when you visit my blog again that you're not visiting the blog of one of those sneaky Kristin Miller-body snatchers.

*In no way shape or form am I suggesting that these lovely Kristin Millers aren't good writers. I've never read any of their work. Now that I think about it, I think I should. And you should too. I think you should goggle them, read them, and love them because they have the most lovely name in the world. I am truly sad to have to shelve it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Moving Forward!

Howdy! I'm in a great mood this morning for a couple reasons and had to post...

1-It's overcast! Woohoo! That means the inspiration is flowing and my fingers are typing away...and hey, the words coming out aren't half-bad either.

2-I'm finished with Chapter 1 and 2! Cause for celebration--especially since I have four versions of Chapter 2 sitting in the "cut-out" file. I seriously have more pages deleted than in my work-in-progress.

3-I'm finally over this horrible cold that's kicked my ass the last week or so! Wonder if my stuffy brain has anything to do with the cloud that's been hanging over my WIP.

And just because I've been writing to Annie Lennox the last couple days, I'll post the link to my playlist...and I think from there you can see the others I've been writing to the last year or so. Let Lennox take you back to the 80's...

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another Pararomance Giveaway!

You're invited to participate in the Fall in Love with Fall Book Giveaway!

It's no secret Fall is my favorite season. Between the leaves changing color and the rainfall inspiring me to write, I'm happy as a clam.

Me+Happy=Book Giveaway!

Lucky for you, right?

Victora Dahl's award-winning novel Crazy for Love

And an autographed copy of Elizabeth Naughton's Stolen Fury

Being a follower of this blog is a must. Enter the contest by commenting on this post. Extra entries will count as follows:

+2 Adding this contest post to your sidebar (shoot me an email or mention it in the comment so I can check it out)
+2 Blogging about the contest (shoot me another email or another comment so I can give mad thanks)
+1 Twittering this post (make sure to add @KM_Miller so I know you did it)

The contest will end October 31st. I mean, what other day in Fall would be more appropriate for a blog celebrating paranormal writing?!? (Now I wish I had some Halloween themed novels to dish out...maybe next year.)

Good luck! *grin

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meet an Author Monday

It's Monday again! And I'm in another blog-hopping mood. If you haven't checked out KarenG's Blog BBQ that's going on this fine Labor Day weekend, you should head over there too before you miss it--today is the last day. But first, you should stop by my awesome critique partner's blog and join her hop.

If you're wondering what a blog hop is, here's the deets:

What is a blog hop?

A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS.
When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the
exact same list appears on each blog.

Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list.
The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.

Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can "HOP" from blog
to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

So get to it! Visit some new blogs, comment and follow along and I'll be right behind you! *grin

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Blog BBQ that will--or won't--turn you into a Blob

What an interesting idea, don't you think? (Thank you KarenG!) What a great way to meet new writers, authors, readers, book bloggers, or maybe some people who just like skipping from blog to blog in cyberspace.

Joining the Blog BBQ...(totally just mistyped it as Blob BBQ...I'm thinking it's a Freudian slip...If this were a real BBQ with all the glorious food listed I'm thinking I might look like the Blob when I leave) I was saying, joining the B-L-O-G BBQ is easy. All you have to do is travel over to Karen's blog, leave a comment saying what you might bring, and what you'd talk about with others if you were there. Visit, comment and follow at least three other blogs. That's it!

What a great way to stimulate activity on writers' blogs out there. I've already followed so many and every single one is interesting and inspirational and...well, get out there and you'll see what I mean.

Oh, and if you came here from Karen's BBQ, WELCOME!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Whiter Shade of Pale: Lyrics, Meaning, and Video

A Whiter Shade of Pale (the Annie Lennox version) has always been one of my favorite songs. As you may know (if you've been reading my blog since last April), I'm obsessed with anything, everything Titanic and have been since I was little. This morning I was in need of some new music to write to. I set up with an all Annie Lennox playlist and, of course, A Whiter Shade of Pale linked up first. As I started writing, my mind started wandering...what on earth do these crazy lyrics mean? I've included the lyrics from azlyrics here so you can take a look:

"A Whiter Shade Of Pale"
Originally produced by Procol Harum
This version by Annie Lennox

We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kind of seasick
The crowd called out for more
And the room was hummin' harder
As the ceiling flew away
And when we called out for another drink
But the waiter brought a tray

And so it was later
As the miller told his tale
That her face at first just ghostly
Turned a whiter shade of pale.

She said: "There is no reason,
And the truth is plain to see."
But I wander through my playin' cards
Would not let her be
One of the sixteen vestal virgins
Who were leaving for the coast
And although my eyes were open
They might just as well been closed

And so it was later
As the miller told his tale
That her face at first just ghostly
Turned a whiter shade of pale.
A whiter shade of pale
Turned a whiter shade of pale
A whiter shade of pale

Then I spent about an hour sifting through random yahoo! answers to find a reputable source for the meaning of the song. I found this:

"The song explores what it means to be wrecked, in more than one sense of the word. A nervous seducer sustains his courage with alcohol. As he becomes more drunk, his impressions of his unfamiliar partner become confused by stray thoughts, fragments of childhood reading and his own faint-hearted aspirations. The song's recurring metaphor is of maritime disaster, and a parallel is drawn between romantic conquest and the allure and peril of the sea. The hero is a callow juvenile, far happier with a book than risking the emotional bruising of relationships. This ambivalence is underscored by frequent allusions to nausea."--The text is excerpted from Tim de Lisle's Lives of the Great Songs.

So you can imagine my surprise that one of my all-time favorite songs happens to be about a romantic encounter...and a maritime disaster...and mentions my name in it. (Hello Miller's tale!) Oh, I'm swooning.

If it's at all possible, I love the song more. Ever had a song speak to you? Ever feel like you were going along just fine, only to be stopped in your tracks and diverted down another path? A walk down memory lane, maybe? Yeah. Me too. Happens all the time.

Now I'm going to enjoy the video over and over again. I know I said it already but hope you have a great Labor Day weekend! And I hope sometime in the near future you have one of these moments. A moment where, if only for a split second, things make absolute perfect sense.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fun Friday!

Howdy from Barnes and Noble!

I decided to leave my brand new desk setup (which I'll post pictures of next week--I tried yesterday but they didn't come out right) and seek writing shelter in a local bookstore. I thought delving into Chapter 2 might flow easier away from home.

Not to mention I just HAD to buy Kiersten White's Paranormalcy

...and Monica McCarty's The Hawk.

(Edited to add: just look at these covers! How could I resist?)

How's my writing going, you ask? How thoughtful of you...

Dark Tide Rising is still waiting on a release date and final edits from The Wild Rose Press.

Enemy, Beloved is still on submission in New York. (And believe me, as soon as I hear ANYTHING I'll post here.)

Immortal, Beloved is...well it''s just put it this way: I've written three different versions of Chapter 2 and none of them feel right. Something is missing. And as long as something is missing I'll keep reworking it.

I don't know why, but the first three chapters are always the hardest for me. Some people write like a top. (Remember those little spinning toys?) They get an idea, spin that story and are off at super-high speeds until they fall off their chair from exhaustion 400 pages later.

I'm kind of like a train. It takes a whole lot of effort to get up to speed, but once I'm going, I'M GOING. From there, top speed is within reach and I can speed through the ending rather smoothly.

Speaking of a train and smooth writing, I have to get back onboard and write!

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

2009's Mr. RT and Fresh Prince Get It Right

A childhood friend of mine (who happens to be 2009's Mr. Romantic Times {hello Mr. Paz!}), linked this on his Facebook page a couple days ago. (He's also agreed to be the Spotlight Interview for September.)

I watched the video. I listened. Something about what the Fresh Prince said struck a cord within me.

Take a look.

Did you hear what he said? When you decide what you want to do, and who you want to be, the Universe moves out of your way. It realizes this is war and you will get what you want at all costs. Suddenly the road becomes smooth. The clouds part. New goals take shape.

The difference between those who reach their goal and those who fall short are the ones who give up along the way.

So break through that rough spot. Re-prioritize your options, deciding what you will not compromise...and what you will. Re-work that problem scene. Get to it. Challenge the Universe to stand in your way.

I know I am. *grin

If you're interested in reading the book Will Smith mentioned as his favorite and beyond inspirational, click here to be carried away to amazon.