Interview with the Playing Ball Authors

PlayingBallORIGI had a great time last night doing an interview with Wt Prater’s “Taste Test” segment on the Writers Online Network along with fellow authors Kerry Freeman, Marguerite Labbe, and Kate McMurray. We talked about how the Playing Ball anthology and our stories came about, as well as what we each have coming up. Check out the interview HERE and comment for a chance to win the anthology! Or if you’d like to go ahead and grab a copy, you can get it for 20% off through tomorrow at Dreamspinner Press. :)

An Interview and a New Audiobook

Two announcements to make!

PlayingBallORIGSunday night, Writers Online Network will play host to the authors of the Playing Ball anthology for the “Taste Test” feature. Kate McMurray, Marguerite Labbe, Kerry Freeman, and I will be there to talk with Wt Prater about the anthology, our stories, and our mutual love affair with baseball. The show starts at 7 p.m. Central time (8 p.m. on the East Coast, 5 p.m. on the West Coast). Here’s the link!

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Also, the audiobook for the Dreamspinner Press Grand Adventures anthology is now available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. As with all the other products related to the anthology, proceeds will go to authors Eric Arvin and TJ Klune to support them during Eric’s recovery process. Here’s the link!

Guest Blog: Aidee Ladnier and Traveling Time

Aren’t You That Guy I Met Next Week?

Today my guest is the fabulous Aidee Ladnier, here to talk about her new story, The Break-In. Take it away, Aidee!

Thank you so much, Shae, for letting me guest post on your blog during my tour to promote THE BREAK-IN, published by Dreamspinner Press. I even have a rafflecopter giveaway with lots of cool prizes, so make sure you enter.

Today I’m going to talk about a problem I recently struggled with that other writers might also face—yes, I’m talking about the dreaded curse of character confusion in time-travel fiction.

Most writers penning a series have tiny details they need to keep straight in order to remain consistent. A hero’s eyes can’t be blue in one book and then green in the next (unless they have some weird eyecolor-changing magic going on…or maybe contacts). A main character’s hair can’t be blue-black in one book and then flaming red in the next (unless they have a really good hairdresser).

But throw in time-travel and you have a whole other set of headaches. With time-travel fiction you’ve got characters popping in and out of each other’s lives at different points in their timeline. This not only requires keeping track of when it happens but also MATH. Because if Character A is 23 when they first meet, but Character B is 38, how does that affect their second meeting when Character A is 33 and Character B is 18?

So how to get around this–I keep lots of notes. You may have heard of something called a “series bible.” This is the book (or electronic file folder) with all the important information that helps keep your story coherent. Here’s what J.K. Rowling’s timeline looked like in her notes:

Most series bibles contain things like physical descriptions of all the major and minor characters as well as their biographies and histories—anything that you will need to know about them every time you write about them.

Notes on the settings are also a must. You can’t have a stream running on one side of the house in one book and on another in the next unless you want the house surrounded by water—might as well put it on an island. Is it on an island? Okay, put that in your bible.

Does your book contains some kind of new and innovative magic that works on a wonky system of rituals or maybe your book has several different species of vampires, or have castes of elven royalty? All these things should go in your series bible.

The main function of the series bible is not just to keep your facts straight but to keep from confusing your readers. If you’re unsure of a fact about a character, your reader will be lost as well. Of course, you can always reread your own novels to find out if a character takes their tea sweet or unsweet, but wouldn’t it be easier just to look it up in one easy-to-find place?

I hope you’ll join me as I journey back to visit my characters Forbes and Oliver in my new ebook, THE BREAK-IN.

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!

About Aidee Ladnier

Aidee Ladnier began writing fiction at 12 years old but took a hiatus to be a magician’s assistant, ride in hot air balloons, produce independent movies, collect interesting shoes, and amass a secret file with the CIA. A lover of genre fiction, it has been a lifelong dream of Aidee’s to write both romance and erotica with a little science-fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.

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The Break-in

Author: Aidee Ladnier

ISBN-13: 978-1-62798-736-3
Pages: 56
Cover Artist: Christy Caughie

Buy: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble  | ARe

Blurb: Ten years ago, roboticist Forbes Pohle received a visit from time-traveler Oliver Lennox. “Wait for me,” Oliver said. Now a decade has come and gone, and Oliver has returned. However, Forbes never dreamed Oliver would reappear as the point man for a gang of technology thieves breaking into his lab. He finds the younger Oliver just as sexy and even more annoying; still, he must convince him their happily-ever-after is meant to be—but he only has the time it takes his robotic cat Jeepers to thwart the thieves to do it.

After waiting so long, he could lose everything in the span of seconds.

Holiday Stories Still On Sale

PresentADay_websiteWell, the Christmas in July 99-cent sale for Sand & Water is over (and a great big thank you to everyone who took advantage!), but you can still get a deal on a couple of my other stories with Dreamspinner Press. All holiday-themed books are 25% off this month, so you can pick up my short stories “Sharing Christmas” for $2.24 and “Of Holiday Spirits, Wake-Up Calls, and Happily Ever Afters” for just $1.12.

Be sure to check in at the Dreamspinner site every day for more 99-cent sales, too. I’ve been adding to my TBR pile every day!

Christmas in July! Get Sand & Water for Just 99c

ChristmasInJuly

Dreamspinner’s having a Christmas in July sale all month long, and today, you can get my first novel, Sand & Water, in ebook for just 99 cents. Set on Georgia’s Tybee Island, it makes a great beach read. You can even transfer the file directly to your Kindle from the Dreamspinner site. Grab it while it’s cheap! :)

Party Mode: ON

fridayfeedbag

I am deep into planning for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party later this summer. Ten years ago, I gave my parents a 40th anniversary dinner. We had 20 people in a nice restaurant, and it was awesome and not terribly expensive. But I wanted them to have something bigger for their 50th, with as much family there as possible, without it being super-fancy.

So we’re having an afternoon reception in the social hall at their church. The space and time are reserved, I have invitations and a guest list, and I have a long, LONG list of things yet to do.

My mom has always been the big party planner in the family. “Mom’s in Party Mode again” has been a running joke for as long as I can remember. She’s 70 now and doesn’t have the energy to do big things anymore, but she still loves the process. Naturally, that means she’s driving me a little bit nuts.

“Mom,” I keep reassuring her. “I grew up learning about parting planning from you. I know what you like and what you don’t, and I can do this without breaking the bank. Redirect all that energy toward stressing over what you’re going to wear.”

(That last part she’s already doing with no prompting from me anyway.)

It’s kind of amazing how much work is involved even with a simple party. The guest list has been a bear, mainly tracking down current addresses for everyone who needs a mailed invitation. I made a decision early on to buy party trays and a premade cake, but someone has to be dispatched to pick those up. I love figuring out table decorations, and I think I’ve figured out how to do that without spending huge amounts. We aren’t going crazy with flowers, but Mom loves ferns, and a local florist will rent them with stands, so I need to call and set that up. We have some gorgeous silver pieces, including a big punchbowl and five-branch candelabra—all of which will have to be polished. And I’m setting up a memorabilia table with pictures and such.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something important. Like stressing out over what I’m going to wear.

Anyway, one of the few things I’m allowing Mom to do is making the base for the punch. She has a recipe she loves that can be made and frozen way ahead of time, and they have plenty of freezer space. I asked if she’d be willing to share the Secret Recipe, and she grudgingly agreed.

(I kid. She loves sharing recipes!)

So wish me luck getting the party together, and if anyone wants to show up for kitchen labor, just let me know. ;)

Party Punch

One 6-oz. package strawberry gelatin mix (or any flavor you like)
Four cups boiling water
Four 12-oz. cans frozen lemonade
Two 46-oz. cans pineapple juice
Six 2-liter bottles ginger ale

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add lemonade and stir until dissolved. Add pineapple juice and stir well. Punch base can be frozen at this point and thawed before serving.

To serve, mix equal parts punch base and ginger ale in punch bowl. Float frozen strawberries and pineapple chunks, ice cubes with lemon slices, and/or a fruit ice ring in the punch. Makes about 50 servings.

Monday Music: Gimme Some More

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Yeah, this post is basically just an excuse to stare at hot guys dancing in very little clothing. It’s also seasonally appropriate. So there. ;)

Free Read: A Life in a Year

I had forgotten about this. For GayRomLit 2012, I put together a set of free reads on CD to hand out, and I’d intended to post them on my site later. I never did, so, surprise! Free reads! :D

First up is “A Life in a Year,” a set of snippets from the life of one couple. You can read it here or download a PDF version here.

More to come over the next few weeks. :)

Free Advice Can Cost You

redpencil_thaikrit“NEVER DO THIS advice about writing style is rarely helpful. Writing is not an exact science. Authorial voice matters.”

I tweeted the above as part of a conversation on Twitter last week, and it got retweeted around a bit. I thought it deserved a little bit of expansion, so I wrote this post as a follow-up. :)

One thing that the internet has made easy is the dissemination of advice. Not just in the publishing world, of course, but the internet makes it simple for any random person (like, say, me) to set up a blog and start handing out suggestions, rules, guidelines, or manifestos about anything they want.

The proliferation of free advice is great for lots of things, including, in many cases, the publishing world. It’s easy to get help when you need it on anything from grammar to word use to location research. The problem comes when personal preferences or opinions are presented as facts. The end result is that there’s a lot of writing advice floating around that’s just not all that good.

When it comes to grammar and usage, most things are pretty clear-cut. There are widely agreed-upon rules regarding how to use the language, and even if not every source agrees, you’ll generally find consensus among different guides on things like word meanings, punctuation, and spelling. Where there isn’t a clear “winner,” a preference may emerge—or your publisher will have a house style that will take care of it.

Other issues aren’t so clear-cut. Idiomatic expressions, metaphors and similes, meter and flow… these are questions related to the author’s writing style, and they don’t have easy answers. They are likely to come down to clarity and authorial voice. To go back to that tweet, generally speaking, advice related to writing style that says to “NEVER DO THIS” is not helpful, no matter what “THIS” is.

Considering the collaborative nature of so much in publishing, it can be easy to forget that editing and writing are far different skills. Writing is a creative art, whereas editing is far more of a science. It’s all too easy for editors to get caught up in the science and lose sight of the art.

I think one of the most difficult things for a fiction editor to learn is how to fix problems without damaging the inherent voice of the author. Even when editors have good reasons for their suggested changes, that doesn’t mean they’re right, or what’s best for the story. I’m not advocating starting editorial fights by any means, but authors who feel strongly about the way they’ve written something shouldn’t hesitate to argue in favor of keeping it.

With every set of edits I receive, I go through basically the same process. I make one pass through to accept or fix everything that I immediately agree with: typos, missing words, incorrect words, and so on. Anything that needs more consideration or that I disagree with gets skipped. Most of the time, that first review clears most of the editor’s comments.

On the second trip through, I look at things more closely. If I agree with the editor’s comment, then I figure out a way to fix it. If I don’t, I mark the passage and explain my reasoning in a comment. Most of the second category contains instances where I think the editor has misread something or has corrected something that wasn’t actually wrong. Often, the choice comes down to “I think it reads better this way.” And pretty much every time, my version is what makes it through to the final copy. Not because I’m “right” and the editor is “wrong,” but because there is no right or wrong, only a preference. And my name is the one that’s on the story.

So the lesson? As with anything on the internet, don’t take every piece of writing advice you read at face value. Figure out what works for your story. And most of all, never say “NEVER.”

Image courtesy of thaikrit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If It’s Free It’s For Me

fridayfeedbag

(Title quote stolen lo, these many years ago, from Atlanta Braves announcer and former major league pitcher Don Sutton.)

Late last month, my sister had some testing done and, as a result, was put on a food elimination diet for a month. She has some digestive issues, apparently, so to test things out, she was told to eliminate gluten/wheat, dairy, soy, and peanuts from her diet.

Welp. There went half her diet. And, because we eat the same meals most of the time, that meant I needed to do my best to accommodate her dietary restrictions. I figured, what the heck, can’t hurt. It’s only for a month, right?

The problem is that we are a bread-, pasta-, and cheese-intensive household. Less so on the soy and peanuts, though soy in particular is an ingredient in many things. Many, MANY things, as I discovered when I started sorting through our pantry. We took a box of pantry rejects to our parents and another to the food bank, and since we had a weekend before the new rules kicked in (sister was working a convention), we used up what we could.

Since then, sister has been following her restrictions carefully. I’m being less cautious—still eating some cheese and bread, mainly—but I’m probably about 85% on board. I’m cooking meals that are mostly veggies and meats and eating fruit for snacks and desserts. We’ve tried out some “junk” food made without the verboten ingredients, and some are pretty decent. (Some not so much.) And we’re spending more at the grocery store, though part of that is because we’re trying out different types of products: coconut vs. almond milk, for example.

The verdict? Well, without doing anything else, I lost 12 pounds in 4 weeks. I’m less tired during the day. One day I forgot to take breakfast with me to work and ate a cheese Danish from the vending machine (which I’ve done before without noticing any issues), and 2 hours later I was faceplanting into my keyboard.

The weight loss isn’t a surprise. I’m eating fast food way less because it’s mostly sandwiches and basically no baked goods. I’m eating more fruits and vegetables, and I’m probably eating less overall, too. And eating healthier also generally means more energy.

Mostly, though, I’ve been thinking about the wheat restriction. I know “gluten-free” is as much a buzzword now as “low-carb” was a few years ago. It’s trendy, though of course that doesn’t mean it’s not a real problem for people who have gluten/wheat allergies or serious sensitivities. But even if you set that aside, just think about HOW MUCH wheat is in the average American diet. We eat sandwiches morning, noon, and night, pizza and pasta like it’s going out of style, cereal AND toast for breakfast, rolls at every meal. And most of it is made with enriched white flours, which have no real nutrition except the vitamins that are added by law.

Seriously. Sensitivity or not, there’s no way that’s healthy.

On Tuesday, my sister had her follow-up appointment. Blood testing confirmed her sensitivity to gluten, particularly rye (which she doesn’t like anyway), as well as a possible egg sensitivity. So we have dairy back, but we’re planning to keep up the gluten-free life for the most part, with an occasional splurge, and we’ll start working on the egg problem soon. We’ve been doing fine without having some form of bread at every meal, and I don’t see any reason to change that.

Especially if the numbers on my scale continue the downward slide!