Sunday, January 27, 2013

Olympia Finalists Announced

Today brings Clash of the Titles to the end of Round Two of our first annual Olympia Award.

The Olympia is a literary contest dedicated to Christian fiction and offered only to unpublished writers. In Round Two, the first 3,000 words of entrants’ manuscripts were read and scored by non-industry readers. 

A hearty THANK YOU to each of these women who set aside a portion of their time for this contest. Without them, the Olympia would not be.

Of all our submissions, only the top three scores move on to Round Three. 

Those scores go to manuscripts belonging to:

Bethany Kaczmarek
Laura McClellan
Elaine Manders

Our warmest congratulations to these three authors!

During Round Three, their manuscript excerpts will be read and scored by the following generous individuals:

DEBORAH RANEY--award-winning author
AMANDA LUEDEKE--literary Agent of Macgregor Literary
STEVE HUTSON--literary Agent of WordWise Media

The winner will be announced 
Friday, March 01, 2013.

Best wishes to our finalists!

The remainder of the contest's entrants can expect to receive their scores by Friday, January 25.

In the meantime, stop by COTT and vote for your favorite book this week:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Electric Cocktails

Me Skyping

Yesterday I was farting around on Twitter because I was supposed to be writing and I am the master of avoidance.  Anyway, I follow a lot of writers and I'm always amazed at the awesome advice I come across in those 140 character bursts.

For example, I read this post by Elizabeth Vail on Heroes and Heartbreakers site about painful pasts and tortured heroines.  It was really helpful and since I didn't follow the website, I would never have come across it if it wasn't linked by @elizabethscraig who I find to be one of the most informative Twitterers in the industry.  You should check out her Mystery Writing is Murder blog too.

I said all of this at a party I attended last night. Some of the people knew I was an author and asked me about getting started. Every time I said that it was important to connect with other writers via Twitter or Blogs I got the raised brow.

Isn't that a time waster? I was asked.  Well...sometimes. But mostly it is not. Mostly...its an incredible asset to a writer.

Why? Because I connect with other people serious about their work. I network and hear industry news tidbits I find helpful information like what press is looking for submissions at the moment.  I get funny anectdotes and hear whats going on with whom...Its a giant cocktail party/golf game with my peers.

Business people do it. Doctors do it. Politicians do it. Teachers, not so much, but they hang out in the lounge and eat junk food and gossip, which is the same. (My husband is a teacher so I have it on good authority.)

There are a lot of reasons to hang out virtually. I've learned so much from writers further in their journey than I. I've been reminded of why I write by people just starting out.  I've made friends, realized how cool Steampunk is, and arranged to hang out at conferences.  

None of that is a time waster. Its an investment in your career as an author.  So get out there and follow and post and Tweet.  You just might like it. :)

Until next time...Go Write!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Richter Zombies...

It started out innocently enough with a funny forward from a friend about the 'Zombie Apocalypse' blog she likes. The post was on 'Go Bags' or 'Bug Out Bags' intended to keep you safe, fed, hydrated, and protected for 72 hours until you could find shelter or hook up with a roving band of zombie killers.

I chuckled, totally thinking it was a pretty detailed set up...matches, batteries for the flashlight, glowsticks for in a pinch. The pack had 'hot hands' packs and some firestarter stuff, some water and purification things...

I gotta admit. I didn't know what half the stuff was. So since I'm supposed to be working on my next project and since I have not decided what that is I was just kind of surfing the zombie preparedness sights for fun.

In an effort to encourage citizens to prepare for real disasters, the CDC, law enforcement, and other sites have done tongue-in-cheek 'Zombie Education' programs.  They're actually pretty  helpful...

How Does She Blog
Turns out all of the things in this 'Zombie Go Bag' or whatever, is actually recommended for use in emergency preparedness kits in my own state of California.  

Earthquake safety. You'd think I'd be up on it, but short of diving underneath desks, not standing next to plate glass windows, and our 'meet at the street' drill...

I got nothing. Seriously.  Zilch is going on in the "what if our house crumbles scenario" that is an actual, real, and probable situation.  What!?

So now I'm totally into this survival stuff. I'm starting out with making the 'Go Bags' for each one of my family members.  That is no small feat, mind you. My husband and I have 6...yes, SIX children.  That's 8 packs I have to buy, stock, and store.

I've also decided, since I just realized that FEMA suggests not a 3 day supply of food and water for you family in the event of a 5.0 earthquake or higher, but a 10-14 day supply...I was totally launched into a panic.

I thought if we had a major quake, we'd have help at least by the third day on the OUTSIDE. Now it seems in the wake of hurricane and other disasters the three day rescue timeline is turning out to be way too conservative.

Being Vegan, my family and I eat primarily fresh fruit and vegetables along with grains, beans, etc.  Not really a lot of outdoor/survival recipes for that kind of diet. I've decided to try and modify our exisitng stew and hearty soup recipes to be made via a dutch oven.

Ready Meals
A mom blogs about this kind of stuff and suggests just bagging some familiar dinners and keeping them in a safe place...a tub in the garage, etc. One hardy meal a day and some water will get you through.

I've had to alter recipes before to make them Vegan friendly...camping recipes were a challenge. Why does everyone need to eat so much bacon when camping???  

Anyway, I can do this.  I have to do this. I hope I never have to use the supplies. EVER.

Anyway, I'm hoping this foray into investigation will totally help me as a writer.  I can research like nobody's business. I love learning about new things and it always sparks some sort of idea for a story.

I've released the Kraken -- my manic writer alter-ego...

I'll keep you posted. :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dark vs Time

Columbia Tower, Seattle
I finished the second book to my Gothic romance series, went through edits, and submitted it to the agent/publishers. Now I find myself in that writing limbo where I have no active projects...and therefore, no direction.

It is one of the most free and fearful times of the year for me. I love the 'anything is possible' sort of opportunity to explore ideas for books. I also hate not having my writing routine. I feel untethered to the the day-to-day.

As many of you know from previous posts, I often work on two books at the same time. My main work which has a deadline, is usually part of a series, and very structured...and my thinking book. The one that I turn to when I have writer's block or I'm stuck in my main book.

Calico Ghost Town
Usually, well, inevitably, those secondary books turn into main books at some point. I seem to rotate them out as I go.

Currently, I have two such 'back burner books' that are circling the drain of my unconscious. Not quite going away, yet not really coming together.

Book one is a contemporary romantic suspense. A serial killer chase with lots of action and dark, dark scenes. It was something to chew on while I got into the Gothic atmosphere of the Noble Island books I was writing.

I like this book. We'll call it DARK. Its very meaty and the main character is so broken, that you wonder how she'll survive her own demons, let alone catch the one she's chasing.

The second back burner book is a historical romance. We'll call it RECKLESS HOPE. It is so completely different in tone and pacing from anything that I've ever written, I was surprised it even came from me. Yes, I write romance...but historical? Old west? Outlaws and damsels?

Hmm... Just different enough to entice me after I just spent so long in the depths of a mysterious island, grappling with Romany curses and lost loves.

I think the enormous amount of research involved in the historical is what's actually keeping me from writing it. I'm about 30K deep into both books, but DARK would just flow whereas RECKLESS HOPE would definitely take a lot of work outside of my writing zen.

So now, as I sit and avoid writing by blogging and tweeting and yes...even 'liking' on Tumblr...I still have not decided.

How do you deal with finishing a book and the loss of direction that comes after? I'd love to know.