Blog Archive

Friday, May 25, 2012

Progress Friday & Where I stopped by this week!

Hello beautiful people!
TGIF, innit? For once, I'm glad it's Friday (coz I usually dread having the hyenas at home on weekends!) because guess what? I finally got back to work this week. Yep, good, forthright, actual writing!
The madness of promo and guest posts and everyone falling sick with a cold (including me!) finally died down and I've been able to sit down with Transient Hearts for the past 2 days and make some progress on the word count. 4, 393 words in 2 mornings - not too shabby, innit? Quite stoked with myself!

It finally feels like I'm back in the driving seat of my life and my writing, not having some weird pumped-on-speed automatic pilot steering me this way and that and not bothering if I crash into the curb or slam into walls (kinda like those Advanced races on Need For Speed where you can't control anything and you end up crashing more than actually doing a race...?)

So hopefully I get to finish this WIP next week, when I plan to sit down every single day to write (hope I'm not jinxing myself here!). Still on track with the deadline for submitting this one, so all's well. Not perfect, mind you, but hey, I know it could be worse, so... beggars are not choosers, are they?
Looking forward to a not-too-crazy weekend now - and the new plan is to focus on doing the week's promo posts and interviews on Saturdays and send them off to their respective blog owners.

Speaking of weekly stops, check out where I've been this week!

Author Tory Michaels asked me over... and requested a character interview with Ash and Rayne from Before The Morning!
So I put these two in the hot seat - come see their answers to my rather-nosy questions!
A tidbit:

'... A few words with Ash Gilfoy – a London-based paramedic, and the hero of this book.

How do you feel regarding this interview?

So-so. Not too enthusiastic. (Grimaces) Okay, can we get this out of the way already? You asked me to the bloody Ritz, lady, and everyone knows I hate having to wear a tie!

*chuckles* It’ll soon be over, once I get the answers I’m looking for...

(watches the dapper-looking, Josh Holloway lookalike squirm in his seat, and loosen his silk tie and undo the collar button. What a fine specimen of male perfection... Anyhow, he’s not mine, so... *sigh*) ...'

Read the rest...

 
And author DB Moon (who I found out is a fellow shoeholic!!) invited me over to her blog for an in-depth interview! Come check it out.

A snippet:

'... If someone wrote a biography of your life, what would the title be?

How to be a headless chicken and still get everything done! ...'

The rest of the interview here...


Last but not least, the amazing Felicity Lennie, whom I met and befriended on Twitter, asked if I'd agree to become a Castaway on the Castataway Island of Books blog, and if I'd nominate a book for the island's bookshelves. Come see my turn on the Castaway Island!!

Little bit:

'... If you could choose any author to be your 'muse' or companion who would it be and why?

My bestie, author Natalie G. Owens. She’s my soul sister and my best friend, as well as my writing/brainstorming partner. We get on like a house on fire, and I’m sure we’d never run out of topics to talk about. J ...'

My Castaway Author Index card answers here!


Hope you all have a lovely weekend, peeps!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Link Thursday: 1,000 Things You Didn't Know About Women (Part 5)

Hey peeps!

Time once again for the 'list'. Catch some more insight into the minds and thoughts of regular women out there.

Catch up with the initial posts in this series from here ... and if you want to read the full list in one go, head to the original post found on Esquire.com

So here we roll...

Enjoy!


*****

1,000 Things You Don't Know About Women

We asked the women in our lives to share their secrets about sex, relationships, and what we've been doing wrong (and right) all these years. Four months after our special issue devoted to women — and with continuing help from you on Twitter — we've reached a thousand pieces of wisdom. Hope they help.


No. 531: We love to cry, and we always feel better after a big sob fest. How much better? Pull down your pants. — Denise Marquez, 40, Rochester, N.Y.

No. 236: If something in your past will show up on a Google search, be prepared to explain it. — Julia Phillips, 39, Longmont, Colo.

No. 1000: We love you guys. — Stephanie Shaughnessy, 41, Pittsburgh

No. 193: Because we love security and fidelity, we also love love handles. Your six-pack anxiety only threatens us with the possibility you might care more about your abs than you care about us. —Alexis Justman, 23, El Centro, California

No. 658: Don't tease us. We're not your little sister. —Katie Holleran, 23, Winchester, Massachusetts

No. 863: If we don't spend the night, don't give up on calling us back. We were probably just wearing Spanx. —Alexis Justman, 23, El Centro, California

No. 386: When we are truly angry, we go silent. That is your opportunity to apologize, or run. Neither will save you. —Lisa Huber, 38, Teutopolis, Illinois

No. 274: Some of us keep imaginary tallies in our head. "He keeps Diet Coke at his apartment because he knows I love it: 5 points. He's liberal: 10 points. He brought me soup when I was sick: 15 points. He made banana pancakes: infinity points." Your kindness is noted, appreciated and will be rewarded. —Rhiannon Falzone, 26, Chicago

No. 417: If it ever comes down to picking between spending time with your girl and playing World of Warcraft you have bigger issues than not understanding women. —Brittany Brundage, 21, Orem, Utah

No. 358: Loading the dishes without being asked — it means more than you know. —Alexandria Pruitt, 24, Louisville

No. 789: Practice proper text message grammar. Abbreviations are okay. "LOL" is not. —Alexis Justman, 23, El Centro, California

No. 467: We like it when you have a lot of male friends. It means you can maintain a good relationship, like the one you have with us. —Alexandria Pruitt, 24, Louisville

No. 439: We gauge how good a father you'll be by how you treat your family. —Alexandria Pruitt, 24, Louisville

No. 562: We know our orgasms can be difficult. Just keep at it. —Alexandria Pruitt, 24, Louisville

No. 574: Most successful men have a strong woman by his side. That would be us. —Amanda Allen, 24, Salt Lake City

No. 725: You have the power to make us feel like the only girl in the room. Use it wisely (and often). —Katie Holleran, 23, Winchester, Massachusetts

No. 343: Those times you remember the small details of our stories — like a random friend's name — is when we can tell you care. —Alexandria Pruitt, 24, Louisville

No. 651: Never underestimate the power of a kiss on the forehead. —Katie Holleran, 23, Winchester, Massachusetts

No. 317: When you challenge your lady to a game and lose, lose with a smile. Not with a broken tennis racket... for instance. —Michelle Schindler, 25, New York

No. 697: Sometimes we think we're in love, and then we see your Facebook profile. —Alexis Justman, 23, El Centro, California

No. 259: Honestly, we don't mind watching hours of Grand Theft Auto if we feel included. —Katie Holleran, 23, Winchester, Massachusetts

No. 330: Take us to Florence. But not in the summer. Too many tourists. —Rhiannon Falzone, 26, Chicago

No. 105: A five-star restaurant is rarely better than eating cold pizza on the couch with you. —Katie Holleran, 23, Winchester, Massachusetts

No. 158: We like it when you stand in the dressing room with us. And give compliments. —Molly Rosen, 33, Chicago

No. 127: "I love you." It's better when it's rare, spontaneous, and really meaningful. —Katie Holleran, 23, Winchester, Massachusetts

No. 245: Women in their twenties may look good while doing it, but most of them are thinking about how they look while they're doing it. Which means they aren't thinking about what they are doing. After their twenties, we have learned that feeling good is better than looking good. We also know that right after we use our good stuff with you, we're going to get the cuddling all those twentysomethings are bitching about. —Lisa Huber, 38, Teutopolis, Illinois

No. 993: Red, black, silky, leather, animal print — if any of these are adjectives that can be applied to your bedroom decor, we may still sleep over, but don't count on a call back. —Alexis Justman, 23, El Centro, California

No. 740: Buying us a candy bar is a surprising — and effective — gesture. Who doesn't like a candy bar? —Katie Holleran, 23, Winchester, Massachusetts

No. 289: A woman has certain spots that are for touching, squeezing, and pushing. These do not include her buttons. —Michelle Schindler, 25, New York

No. 378: Girls like to whine. It's a fact. —Brittany Brundage, 21, Orem, Utah

No. 431: There is nothing sexier than following through. If you say you're going to do something, please do it. —Brittany Brundage, 21, Orem, Utah

No. 598: When we say we want to share a dessert, we really mean we want you to have just one bite and offer the rest to us. We were planning on eating the entire lava cake ourselves anyway, but this way we don't feel guilty. —Aimee Couture, 22, New York

No. 675: Keep in mind that we'll read any e-mail you might leave open on the computer. It's our nature. (And yours too, by the way.) —Leticia Frazao, 25, New York

No. 689: Please be the man we know and love, even when we're at a barbeque reunion with your frat brothers. —Aimee Couture, 22, New York

No. 399: Nothing is quite as comforting as a big, man hug. Safe, warm, firm, but yielding. —Danielle Maupai, 28, Green Pond, New Jersey

No. 849: If you want to impress a girl, tell her you've heard of Say Yes to the Dress and leave it at that. Your feelings about the show are not important. —Jessica Brunelle, 22, Boston

No. 833: There are two acceptable forms of hair product for you: undetectable and nonexistent. —Alexis Justman, 23, El Centro, California

No. 710: We would rather take a hot-air balloon ride than grab drinks. If you don't have a hot-air balloon, just be creative. —Aimee Couture, 22, New York

No. 590: Even if we assure you we don't believe in Valentine's Day, buy the damn flowers. It couldn't be easier. —Alexis Justman, 23, El Centro, California

No. 597: We won't judge you for that occasional girly drink. Just be sure to give us a sip. —Aimee Couture, 22, New York

No. 858: Life gets so busy, sometimes it's nice to have someone to make choices for you. Even if it is just the Friday night movie. —Dani Ruiz, 22, Encinitas, California

No. 514: We do enjoy the gift of expensive jewelry. We just like to pick it out. —Danica Peterson, 22, Providence

No. 182: It's better when you make the effort to do simple things often than trying to make up for making no effort by doing something big and over-the-top. —Chantal Marchessault, 22, Gulfport, Florida

No. 307: Don't go to strip clubs. Just don't. —Katie Holleran, 23, Winchester, Massachusetts

No. 530: When a woman brings you to a store to show you something on more than one occasion, do you think maybe she wants you to buy it for her? Maybe? —Danica Peterson, 22, Providence

No. 490: There is no excuse for you to buy us lingerie for our birthday, anniversary, and Valentine's Day, all in the same year. —Danica Peterson, 22, Providence

No. 822: Whistling of any kind tends to make us walk faster in the opposite direction. —Jessica Brunelle, 22, Boston

No. 808: We can almost always tell how much porn you watch on a regular basis after sleeping with you the first time. Like, don't rip the panties off before getting to second base. Better to be vanilla than embarrassed. —Alexis Justman, 23, El Centro, California

No. 770: We can tell when the gift was purchased at the last minute. But we still like it. —Jessica Brunelle, 22, Boston

No. 239: Your knowing the difference between stilettos and flats is totally adorable. —Chantal Marchessault, 22, Gulfport, Florida

*****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Writing Wednesday: Welcome to Natalie G. Owens!

Hey beautiful people!

It's my absolute pleasure today to be welcoming the woman I consider my soul sister, the other writer-half of me, and a delightful, wonderful person - Natalie G. Owens! I met Natalie a few years ago, but within a few weeks of meeting, we felt like we'd known each other forever. Our friendship and the ties that bind us just kept on growing deeper and stronger, and today, I can say without any doubt that she is my guardrail - the writer-side person who pushes me to be better, stronger, to aim higher in my work, in my author dreams.
And I think that's not hard for her to do, because she's intrinsically a strong and competent writer too, one with a truly unique, lyrical voice that sings off the pages. Natalie has a way with words that, once you read her, makes you go, Damn I didn't know people could string words like that, so beautifully!

Please give her a warm welcome! I cede her the floor now.

Tell us a bit about you, and something we don't know/wouldn't expect about you.

I was born on the Mediterranean island of Malta, and lived here until age 27 when I moved to Atlanta, Georgia to be close to my (now) husband. In 2009 I returned to Malta, where I had a son, and we all settled here. Some author friends may not know that I trained as a lawyer, although writing was always in my blood. It was at a time and in a culture where artistic pursuits weren’t considered a “serious” endeavor. Probably the common perception hasn’t changed much. When you come out of high school, you need to get a “real” job—have a real profession. So, I followed the maddening crowd—indeed became part of it. Until I came to my senses and realized that if I wanted to be happy, I needed to be ready to make some sacrifices and pretty much pull myself away from “normalcy.” So here I am, writing, editing, and doing the things that make me happy – all things that fill my day and leave room for little more, with the exception of taking care of my family. :)

I think a lot of people fall into that 'trap' - I did too. But some find a way out of a doldrum-type existence, and I'm glad you did!

What’s your favorite moment of the day, and why?

Usually early morning, before everyone wakes up. I tend to get work done at that time. However, I have also come to love evenings, when I spend time with my son before he goes to sleep and wind down for the day, perhaps with a bit of reading.

You're a color – which one are you and why?

Red – I tend to flare up pretty quickly, but calm down just as swiftly. Deep down I’m just a little puppy :)

Why become a writer?

Because it makes me happy. Because I feel I have something to say… and because it is cathartic for me. Writing was my therapist in the beginning, and it got me through some tough times. Today, I want to share my work with others, and hope they want to read it :).

Lol, if people don't want to read your beautiful voice, I'm sorry to say they'd be losing on something magical...

As writers, we are bombarded with ideas every minute of every day. How do you sort through these ideas, to stick to the 'viable' ones?

Sometimes I hit a wall with my ideas…but what works for me is to sometimes let it go. Not to force things. Then ideas come to me when I least expect them to. As far as going with the right choice – I think it’s all about instinct. A writer knows what’s going to work in the story and what won’t. It’s all about being honest to yourself and to the story.

Trust in your instincts, innit? They got you so far in your life, we need to remember...

How do you develop an idea into a book?

Lol, I’m not sure I can offer useful advice her. But, I must say that brainstorming with my trusted critique partner always brings up amazing concepts and ideas. At times I speak to my husband, and he may come up with something genial. Or, perhaps I may read an article and it sparks into a speck of an idea in my head, that eventually snowballs into something entirely different. It’s all about happenstance – and being ready to receive the gift when it comes to you.
Now, as far as developing this idea into a book, I like first to have a very general, sketchy idea of a plot. Following this, I figure out who my main characters are going to be. Then, I scout for pictures on the Internet so I can see what my characters look like. At the same time, I develop their back story, which gives me insight into their GMC (goal-motivation-conflict) and helps me determine how they’re going to behave and react in particular situations. From this point on, I start refining the plot/sub-plots and then, do a chapter by chapter breakdown. Writing a rough synopsis is a good springboard. In case of fantasy, I will need to do extra work related to world-building (e.g., the Valthreans in my work in progress, An Eternity of Roses), and identifying the culture/norms of a particular society. These, of course, will have a direct bearing on the story.

Sounds fascinating! :)

If there's one book you wish you had written, which one is it and why that book in particular?

Only one? I’d say there are quite a few – Jane Eyre, The Historian, The Venice Conspiracy, The Children of Men. There are more. First, I love a good romance. I also love books with a gothic feel to them, as well as stories with compelling characters and an underlying philosophical bent.

Which is easier for you – narrative, or dialogue?

I’d say narrative – but I’m learning to be more economical with my language, and I know that one word can often be more effective than five. This helps me with my dialogue. To write better dialogue, the process is very in-depth with me. I always get deep inside my characters, literally lose myself in them – this takes away a lot of energy :). But, this is what I always strive for… I want my characters to be/feel natural.

Awww, don't take too much away from that lovely voice!

POV of predilection? Which POV mixes with you like oil and water?

I write in third person POV – sometimes, very rarely, third person omniscient (when I first started writing I did this more often). I would also love to write a book in first person, but so far I haven’t attempted it – not sure if it mixes with me like oil and water as I haven’t really tried it yet.

Preferred genre to write?

Romance! Because no matter how much I drag my characters through misery and trials, I can’t let go of that happy ending. And, I really want to make readers smile. I want to give them a few moments of escape.

Very true...

How do you get into your characters' heads and shoes?

By thinking of them. Sleeping with them. Waking up with them. Daydreaming about them to the point that my family thinks I’m a bit more than weird. I’ll be extremely distracted, and if you’re talking to me while I’m with my characters, chances are I have no clue what you were saying.

Drafts, edits, polishing – love or loathe? Can you please explain?

Edits drain me – but if they are going to make the story better, then I’m fine with them. Polishing though, it’s a necessary evil that I don’t like much :). That said, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and will go through a story two dozen times if I have to.

What unique factor do you think you bring to the book/story market?

It’s probably my voice that has a literary vibe to it, and that I adapted to genre fiction. I also love to use exotic locations in my stories, as well as add a touch of the gothic.

Best advice you've received, and that you'd want others to know?

If you want to be a better writer, just keep writing and slog through the not so glamorous bits of this career. If you really want this, never give up – no matter what they tell you. No matter the rejections. Another thing – when you’re starting out, don’t be afraid of constructive criticism or take the stance that you know everything. Use the feedback to improve your skills, and appreciate it for what it helps you become—a more confident writer. Then always, always thank the person giving it, whether you agree with them or otherwise. In short, don’t burn bridges, and don’t stop learning.

Tell us about your latest release

My latest release is a short story, called Something to Live for – the first book in my Moonlight Dating Series. It’s a story about two people who find uncommon ground in the most unlikely of situations. It’s also explores the element of healing and overcoming trauma through physical intimacy. It’s short, emotional, sweet and hot, and ultimately, it’s a ‘feel good’ type of story :).
Here’s the blurb:

Fifteen years ago, one fateful day bound the lives of two perfect strangers…
Melita Saari-Quinn is living the consequences of a traumatizing psychic event that turned her adolescence upside down. Now, disillusioned with her job as a psychotherapist and desiring a change from her lackluster existence, she hopes that something out of her  ordinary sphere of existence - something totally uninhibited and spontaneous - will renew her zest for life.
Alex Moncado seems to have it all – good looks, a successful business, and a fun life in “party central” of the Mediterranean: the island of Malta. Except for one day in the year when he can’t help but remember a tragedy that never should have been. One day he’d rather forget, because if he doesn’t, the guilt will consume him.
Can one passionate night together banish the ghosts of the past and give two lost souls a second chance?

Only Fate can tell…

You can read an excerpt here: http://www.nataliegowens.com/p/something-to-live-for.html

In 5 words:

      Your book: paranormal, contemporary, romance, Malta, hot
      Your heroine: trauma, change, adventure, life, secrets
      Your hero: tragedy, guilt, family, desire, redemption
      You as an author and person: persistent, dedicated, loyal, thankful, optimistic

Let's say your book is a movie – which one does it most closely resemble?

Not sure it’s long enough to be a movie… perhaps it could be an episode of The Twilight Zone with a romantic bent.

What real-life actors are playing the roles?

Thomas Jane as Alex Moncado and Joanne Kelly as Melita Saari-Quinn

Now this movie needs a soundtrack – what songs/tracks best fit your book?

I think that “My Immortal” by Evanescence describes really well Alex’s state of mind in this story.

Your characters end up in a world where everyone's a fashionista – how do they dress and what are they wearing?

I think that Alex would feel comfortable in just plain jeans and a t-shirt. Melita is very delicate and feminine so she’d love to wear light sundresses and sheath dresses.
Where can we find you and your books?

Here’s my website URL: www.nataliegowens.com
I also love to connect with people on:
Facebook profile page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=563297082
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Natalie-G-Owens-Author/24911987111
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/#!/natalie_g_owens
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4527498-natalie-g-owens

You can also download Something to Live for from Amazon at:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007RWCK0W (US)http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007RWCK0W (UK)


Do make it a point to check Natalie's work, peeps! I for one, cannot wait for her Valthrean series to come out - An Eternity of Roses is on my watchlist, in the very top spots!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee