Monday, January 31, 2011

My Writing Spot

As promised, today the authors participating in the Meet an Author Monday blog hop will be showing you their workspace.

For my writing time, I decided to nestle myself into a corner of our living room. I have a beautiful view of grape vineyards outside my window (though you wouldn't know it from the blindingly beautiful glow in the picture). I always have a cup of coffee to my left. My current read (Lauren Kate's Torment) to my right. And if you look closely you can barely see the edges of stacks of paper on the far left...those are the Golden Heart entries I'm supposed to judge by March 1st. I'm a tad behind...

But my writing space is just that...*MY* writing space. No clutter. No bills. No stress. Just an orchid, my coffee, and writing materials. That's where I work best. (I totally just typed "That's where I work beer." Freud would have a field day with me right now!)

On to the hop! 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.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Some signs need no explanation...

*This one's on the way to Arnold, CA. It was rainy. Foggy. Snowy. Windy. Icy. Our four-wheel drive decided to malfunction. (Murphy's Law, anyone?) Have you ever driven up a hill completely sideways, skidding the whole way, looking "forward" through the passenger side window? Sad to say I can mark that off my bucket list.


Some signs remind you what you should be doing...

*Ruan is the name of my hero in my work-in-progress. Yes, the truck was my inspiration. I thought Ruan...Ruin...tortured hero...PERFECT! But when you're going through a writing slump, bashing a scene into place (which I was at the time), the last thing you want is to see your main character on every milk truck that passes you by.


Some signs give you hope...

*I'm currently on submission with Harper Collins' imprint Avon. I haven't seen an ad for Avon in YEARS. Maybe since the late 1980's. Yet there it was, staring me in the face in the Dairy Queen drive through. A reminder to have hope...that there might be good things to come. I said a prayer, crossed my fingers...and picked up my chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard.


Some remind us of a forgotten age...

*This sign is one I found while traipsing through Fort Point in San Francisco. I was researching Immortal, Beloved at the time. This one was bolted to a brick wall on the barracks side of the fort.


And there are those that show us what the future holds...


Other signs make you read in awe...

*Another Fort Point beauty. I read this one over and over again. I could only dream of writing something so awe-inspiring. It was pinned beneath a window with a view of the center courtyard lightower.


Some signs aren't even signs at all. Sometimes the feelings bubbling inside of you are signs. Signs you're on the right path...or the wrong one. I feel happy. Hopeful. Grateful. Appreciative. In my book, those feelings are all signs of good things to come. If I'm a member of this group in any way shape or form, my future is brighter than I ever could've imagined...

*San Francisco Chapter of Romance Writer's of America board. I couldn't ask for a better group of gals to be on this journey with.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dark Tide Rising Love and Some Giveaways

Okay, there's a few things to mention today, none of which are normal Monday things like school and work, and all of them make me very, VERY happy.

Catch Dark Tide Rising as the featured novel over at Mithril Wisdom. You just missed his 100 Follower giveaway but the blog is informative and witty and you can really hear Mithril's voice through the posts. Could you ask for anything more from a writer? I think not.

Also, romance authors Tina Folsom and Bella Andre (all-around great gals and fellow members of SFARWA) are giving away Nook colors. The requirements to enter are super easy and best of all: THEY'RE FREE. Tina's giveaway ends January 24th (That's tomorrow folks!) at 9pm. Bella's giveaway ends January 31st at 9pm so you have a bit more time.

And last but not least, I'm giving away two signed copies of Dark Tide Rising! I'll throw in a few bookmarks too because they're too beautiful not to pass around. (Geez, how many toos were in that sentence? Two too many. Ha!)

Rules to enter:

~Contest open to US Residents only
~Be a Follower of my blog (All you've got to do is click Follow on the right sidebar and enter your email address. I'll never spam you--promise.)
~Comment this post answering the following question:

In Dark Tide Rising, police sergeant Mark Thurgood is deathly afraid of the ocean. What are you deathly afraid of?

~Winner will be selected using
~Contest ends one month from today: February 24th at 9pm. Winner to be contacted via email then announced through a subsequent blog post.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sagging Middles

No, I'm not talking about that little pooch hovering around your middle. I'm talking about the drawn out middle section of your work-in-progress.

You'll know if you have one:
Is there a certain chapter driving you mad? Giving you all kinds of problems? A certain character who won't get in line and do as you want him to? Is the writing slow and choppy? Have you edited it a thousand times over and *still* something doesn't seem right about it?

If you answered YES then your problem most likely is not that chapter or character or scene that is "sticking"'s the sagging middle pulling down other threads of your story. The plot should roll. Fast. (Although I struggled in my own WIP to make certain parts PERFECT, and rewrote them {and rewrote them over and over again}, I honestly felt like I was still in the beginning throws of my book, still tossing conflict at the characters, still building their relationships, when I suddenly realized I had to start wrapping things up. I started panicking that I didn't have enough room to finish the growth that the characters so needed.)

So how do you stop the middle of your book from sagging?

Use the Three Act Structure.
Use GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict. (Although I prefer reading it straight from Deb Dixon.
Remember Vogler's Hero's journey.

Those are great tools. If you're still stuck, here's a quick checklist you can go through to be sure your middle doesn't sag:

1-Characters aren't drifting through--make sure they have solid, clear goals.

2-Are characters getting closer to those goals? Or closer to realizing what they are, at the very least?

3-Are all scenes ending with the characters' needs being met? THEY SHOULDN'T BE. Do you always get what you want? No. Neither do I. Neither should your characters. It complicates things and that's exactly what you want.

4-Do you have unexpected twists and turns? Some event that takes the story in a different direction? (And side note: what would happen if that event pushed your character into a corner?)

5-Are your emotional stakes high enough in the middle? Do they escalate?

6-How's your pacing? Is it choppy and quick? Or long winded and dreary? Speed things up by creating a sense of urgency, not just with your words, but with your sentence structure.

7-Are there dead weight scenes? Find THREE purposes to keep the scene in your work-in-progress. If you can't find three VALID reasons, HACK IT.

8-Is your writing cliche-driven? Does your plot have predictable patterns? Change things up. Lead the readers a certain direction in your chapter or scene, then end it COMPLETELY DIFFERENTLY.

How's your middle looking now?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thick Skin

(This post brought to you by the news of my first "on submission" rejection.)

Rejection sucks. It really does.

Whether you're trying to break into the publishing industry with queries to agents or submissions to editors...or whether you just passed along your very first draft to your very first critique always stand the risk of being told "it's not good enough."

And, sadly, that's what I was told earlier this week. Three times. Yup. The first rejection was from a major publishing house in NY. I'm bummed to say the least. But Enemy, Beloved is still with two houses, and there's a few more out there so DONT'FREAKOUTKRISTIN!

*deep breath*

The other two "rejections" came in the form of critique partner feedback for Immortal, Beloved, the sequel to Enemy, that I just finished. I sent off the last 50 pages to be torn apart by two of the most vicious (and also smartest and most appreciated) critique partners out there. They didn't hate it...per se...just tore it to shreds saying it could be tons better.

*deep breath*

This writing gig is hard. Really hard. I feel like I'm competing with the likes of authors I love to read (ie: Brennan, Novak, Ward, Ione, Kate, McCarty) and here's the even scarier part...I AM! I really am. I desperately wanted to send my crit partners my work and have them tear the house apart running to the computer screen. I wanted them to devour the pages. I wanted them to call screaming that they want more...a third in the series! But they didn't.

So in the face of the three rejections this week I did absolutely nothing yesterday other than watch DANGEROUS BEAUTY. Do you remember the film about the 16th century courtesans? If you haven't seen it OHMYGOSHWHYHAVEN'TYOUSEENIT you should netflix it. It's about forbidden first love and tears my heart out for the heroine every single time. I kept myself busy by cleaning cobwebs out of my vaulted ceiling and my brain. I devoured my crit partners' harsh, but heartfelt, words...and chocolate.

Then I got back down to business. Instead of saying "thanks for reading my work" and moving along with minor edits to appease my injured ego, I listened to all they had to say. Really listened. I took notes. Asked questions about my own plot, including hypotheticals. I asked where they were taken out of the story (took notes) then where they were "in" it (took more notes). I analyzed why and read (I mean researched) some of my favorite books, rereading parts that hooked me and asked myself why. Why do I care at that moment? How did Ms. NYT Bestselling do that? I took more notes.

It would've been easy to say my crit partners were too harsh. It would've been easy to let their sobering advice about one of my plot points fall on deaf ears. I could've easily thought "I'm the writer, and I like this scene, I'll do what I damn well please."

But this writing gig isn't easy. So if I want to make it among the likes of Brennan, Novak, Ward, Ione, Kate, and McCarty I have to work as hard as they do. I have to take that soul dampening advice and chop apart my manuscript no matter how much I want to be done.

That's my challenge today: look at the manuscript with fresh eyes. Love nothing so dear that I can't chop it to bits. Try not to worry about being done, but rather being great.

And *deep breath* here I go.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Perfect Storm and The End

I wrote like a madwoman yesterday and finished Immortal, Beloved!!! Yay!!! I woke up, deciding immediately that it was going to be a PJ, coffee, writing day (those are now OFFICIALLY my favorite kind) and buckled down.

Do you remember the movie The Perfect Storm? Let me jog your memory:

What'd you say? Those two hunky celebs weren't supposed to be the focus of the movie? Huh.

In the movie (based on real events), Hunk 1 and Hunk 2 were part of a crew of swordfishermen fishing off the Grand Banks. Their fishing boat, The Andrea Gail, despite countless warnings, headed straight into The Perfect Storm (a culmination of a few monster Atlantic storms crashing into one another) and sank.

How does this fit in with my writing day yesterday? Glad you asked.

Remember this scene?

The Andrea Gail was fighting to get out of the storm. The fishermen could see the sunrise. Just on the other side of that ginormous wave was their freedom. They could almost reach it...almost...tension was at its peak. And then they tumbled down the wall of water and were never seen again.

Okay, so I'm being overdramatic. But I was fighting to finish Immortal's first draft. Although this book is my absolute favorite--the best I've written to date--it's given me pains along the way. The beginning was torture. I wrote draft after draft. The middle was action-packed and went much more smoothly. But this ending. Ugh. Pain. I wrote 6k in a few hours yesterday morning. Stepped away from the computer for a bit. Came back. Deleted 2k of those words. I reached the black moment of my story, wrote through it, realized I was a few paragraphs from the end...and decided it wasn't good enough. It didn't grab me like it should've. So I tumbled back down the wall of words.

After I put the kids to bed last night I sat down again, determined to finish this book. I wrote a few more hours, twisted things in a different direction, saw the new day dawning (in my book of course), and FINISHED!

It's raw. It needs to be edited A LOT. Especially since I wrote another 2k in a flurry after hours. (And the stuff I write in the middle of the night is not good. Ever.)

But it's done. I made it out alive. (Albeit tired and in serious need of coffee and down time reading other genres.)

The [glorious and wonderful and all things shiny and sparkly] End.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blog Hop!

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.

*Side note: I'm on the last chapter of Immortal, Beloved and hope to push through the end today. My author copies of Dark Tide Rising should be arriving this week so I'll be able to announce the contest to win a free signed copy within a few days. And I'm beyond thrilled that my munchkins are home from school today! That means I can write in my PJs! Woohoo! Happy Monday!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

How Kristin Writes Part II

Okay. I'm about to get personal. Really personal. I'm about to post some pictures of what I've looked like when writing the ending of Immortal, Beloved: Book 2 in the Crimson Bay Series. (And think about how personal it laptop screen is the only thing that sees this side of me...the troubled, contemplative, working side.)

Now, keep in mind...this ending has been in my head since early December...but for the life of me I couldn't write it. Remember the performance anxiety post? Yeah. It's plagued me for going on two months.

So finally FINALLY I buckled down, trudged through the first few paragraphs and got some GREAT writing done. I set my webcam to take an auto picture every fifteen minutes for an hour. Get ready, get set, for the progression of my writing hour. (And NO, sadly, this is not a joke.)

At first, I was ready. I was writing up a storm. The ideas were flowing. I even knew when the webcam went off. I think I wrote a few solid paragraphs at this pace. Not great. But not too bad.

Oh, and then came the irritated stage. You know, the stage when things aren't going as smoothly as you'd like (to say the least) and the writing is total and utter crap? Yup. That's my I'm never going to be able to fix the mess that is this chapter face. I start to get ticks. I bite my nails. Fluff my hair. Adjust my shirt. Change the channel on Pandora (Jack Johnson is my absolute favorite) or Facebook a minute or two.

And now I'm on a roll. The ticks have stopped. I've facebooked. I've tweeted. I've updated my blog and posted comments on others. Pandora is playing music I ABSOLUTELY LOVE. I'm in a groove. I have no clue when the webcam is flashing because, let's face it, I'm not looking at the clock. And although it looks like I'm dreaming about very important things like when the next new episode of The Vampire Diaries is coming on, I'm not. I'm editing. Hacking away the dead parts of the chapter. I'm skimming for repetitious words or phrases or clumps of adverbs and adjectives. I'm making headway. I LOVE BEING A WRITER!!

What's this a picture of? Oh, that's right. You guessed it. I hit the wall. This is a picture of me--back hurting, hands cramping, arse numbing and ravenous for more coffee. This is me a few minutes before I get up, throw some laundry in, watch some Judge Judy, make a sandwich or run circles around my dog. (Wouldn't I be bad ass if I could do all of that at once?)

I've learned that it takes me a bit to warm up to writing every day. Most of what I write sucks. It really does. But I go back, again and again, and again, every single day and smooth things over, ramp things up, and delete, delete, delete things that aren't working. (DON'T BE AFRAID TO DELETE!) (Seriously, the Immortal, Beloved "cut-out" file is 72 pages long. The actual novel will end around 350.)

So that's my progression. (And I should also add that I write for, on average, three hours per this cycle repeats itself another two times. No joke.) What's your progression look like? Take some webcam pictures and see! It's great to take a look and laugh!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Early release and giveaway and squealage!


Dark Tide Rising is available NOW in print format! The digital version still won't be available until February 2nd, but The Wild Rose Press pushed print production ahead! Yahoo!!

You can find it here. Once at TWRP website, scroll down to "Latest in Paperback" and you'll see it.

You can also find it here, which is still from The Wild Rose Press website, but copied directly from the order page.

And here, which is Dark Tide Rising's site on Amazon.

The price for print is the same, no matter where you order from, however you might want to play around with shipping costs from each site to find the best deal.

Also, once I get my author copies I'm going to be giving away a signed copy--watch for the easy-to-enter, easy-to-win giveaway.

If you're one of the lucky ones to have read Dark Tide Rising early, and you post a review on Amazon...well...I'd love you forever. That's what. And if that's not good enough then I guess I'll have to figure out other cool stuff to giveaway.

Dark Tide Rising is out there in the world. Hope you all enjoy it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dark Tide Rising Listed on Amazon!



That's right...Dark Tide Rising (although not available for purchase until February 2,2011) is cited on AMAZON!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to Write a Rollercoaster...I mean *Ride* a Rollercoaster

I'm convinced that writing a novel is like riding a rollercoaster.

If you're at an aumusement park with a friend and he or she says, "Let's ride THAT!" you're going to size up the ride they're pointing at. Does it have enough dips and turns to make you thrilled and are they severe enough to make you sick? Is the line worth the ride? Is that a ride you'll love? Will you walk off wind-blown and dizzy with a smile on your face saying "That's the greatest ride ever?" (I get that way EVERY SINGLE TIME I get off Space Mountain in Disneyland.)

Writing a novel is no different. You plot out all those dips and turns in your head. You make sure you can do them justice. You research your material. You make sure you're challenged (at least I do). You chose a story that will pull you to finish--something you're passionate about.

Now when you get on the roller coaster, what's first? Oh yes. That long, dragging pull up to the top of the peak. That's plotting, folks. Building your story one rung at a time. You peak at the top of the first hill--the largest--hold your breath, close your eyes, (maybe pray)...and fall into writing LINE 1 PAGE 1. It's wild. It's freeing. You feel like you're floating.

*That's me--the crazy lady with her arms in the air--riding The Hurricane at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk two years ago.

The roller coaster sweeps around turns, jerking you right and left, then right again. Some turns are expected. You brace yourself. Grit your teeth. Maybe even scream a little. Some turns are blind. You smack into the rickety car, hurting your side. It'll ache for days. Same goes for writing. Some pieces of your story you'll see and prepare for. Others will sideswipe you and leave you reeling. (Robert Frost said "No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader...") Both the expected and unexpected are necessary to make the writing ride thrilling.

If the roller coaster is any good, it'll speed up, not slow, near the end. You should be holding tighter near the bottom, as the G forces pull the smile from your face. Just when you think you can't possibly hold on any longer or any tighter, you slam to a stop and the bars release to let you up. Writing is no different. You want your endings to be the best part of the ride. Leave the reader breathless and reeling. Aching to hop the turnstile and do it again. (You know you've done that before. Remember the feeling? You just HAVE to get back on. One more time. Books are the same. Remember the one you finished and held close, as if you could jump back into that world? Remember how you didn't want it to end? Yup. Same feeling.)

Remember when you're building your roller coaster and writing your story that the mechanics between the two are the same. You should feel the G forces pulling you to finish. I've heard some published authors say that endings fly off their fingers. They can write 50 near polished pages a week. Their stories read the same way. My eyes fly through the words.

What kind of roller coaster are you crafting? And how will your reader feel when they get off the ride and close your book?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How the NYT Bestseller list is created

I found a video this morning about how the New York Times Bestseller list is created. I've always wondered. I've been asked a thousand times.

Truth be told, I just figured "they" ("they" being people behind the publishing industry's pearly gates) tallied up the total sales for hardcovers any given week and VOILA! NYT Bestselling.

Not so much. Take a look.

(ETA: Sorry the right side of the video is cut off. I don't know what's going on with Blogger, but I can't modify the margins like normal.)

Are you shocked to hear that books sold at WalMart aren't included into the tally? Me too. I'm also shocked to hear that only two books from each publisher are sent. Seems like there should be more under consideration especially since I'm sure trusted and true authors (like Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Stephen King) are sure-ins for the list. Where does that leave room for debut authors? Kinda feels like there's a teeny tiny crack in there somewhere to slip through.

Whether you're shooting for your writing goal today (mine's 4k), or aiming to finish that book that just won't end (I'm still 50 pages off. Heh.) or hoping to sell your first book to a major publisher (I'm still waiting on editor feedback from Enemy, Beloved) or are praying to hit the NYT Bestselling list this Sunday (under the circumstances I'd say I'm years off), at least now we all know the process to get there.

Have a great writing day!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dark Tide Rising Excerpt

What better way to start the year than by posting something on the blog that I never have before?

I'm going to post an excerpt from my work. Even though I realize it's coming out in a month (ONE MONTH, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?) I'm actually scared to death to post this. Something about writing it here, for all the Internet world to see, feels...shaky. Like I can write the darn book but am terrified of having someone read it. Ridiculous concern, I know, especially since tons (at least I hope tons) of people are going to be holding the book in their hands. I mean, that's what I'm in the profession for, right? To write something great. To have people read it and (hopefully) enjoy it. Now I'm wondering if there's any authors who've felt the same way...

Okay. *Deep breath* *And another*

I'm stalling...

I know...

Dark Tide Rising RELEASES FEBRUARY 2ND. Here goes!

A killer was on the loose…
Lurking in the dark, waiting for her to succumb to a dreamy state, was a menacing foe. Like a demented spider creeping into her mind, the vision tapped its sick legs on her deepest insecurities and darkest fears; took her to a dark, wet place reserved for secrets and shadows.

Emily knew immediately she’d felt this ominous feeling before, watched this scene play out in her head.

But Stefanie was gone. There was no reason for her to be reliving this again.

A sheet of ice water slipped over her legs, numbing her senses.

It was when the initial shock of the wave wore off that Emily realized this was different than the nightmare she’d had before. The pain from the previous vision was foreseen, understood, and empathized.

This pain and this piercing cold, however, she felt deep in her bones. She wasn’t looking through Stefanie’s eyes. She was looking out…

Through her own.

Panic seized control over her logic, her thoughts. She looked around, her head thrashing from side to side, unable to see anything but a black void.

Why couldn’t she see? Why couldn’t she hear? Why was she unable to do anything but wriggle with her hands stuck behind her back and kick her feet?

The one thing she did know was that she wasn’t alone. She could feel someone watching her, standing over her.

“Hello?” her voice shook, echoing through the cave.

Why couldn’t she hear him? Wasn’t he talking to her, as he had to Stefanie? Why was she left with nothing but an eerie silence and rising water?


Okay, so there you have it! The Wild Rose Press has officially posted my book on their website. You can't order it yet, but if you wanted to check out the page where you can buy the novel come February 2nd, go here.