Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Being a Write-At-Home Mom

Any working mother will tell you it takes an amazing amount of skills to successfully navigate each and every day. Multi-tasking is imperative. A working mother must be chauffeur, chef, secretary and maid, in addition to the job they’re paid to do. 

When the job is writing, things can get a little more interesting. When you’re an accountant or history professor or waitress, you can separate your work life from your home life. As a writer, there is no “bringing work home”. A writer’s work is always with them, inside their head, fighting for attention. 

So, when I’m driving my kids to a doctor appointment or cooking dinner or fending off a grabby toddler while trying to fold clean towels, I’ve got a few other people inside my head saying things like “I wonder what would happen if …” and “Can you kill someone with a meat thermometer if you shoved it directly through the temple?” –The answer, in case you’re curious, is yes. At least in my new novel A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY the answer to the meat-thermometer-death-blow conundrum, is yes.

Unless you’re successful enough as an author to afford a nanny, working as both a writer and a mother can feel like the medieval torture of quartering. Sometimes I find myself feeling guilty for not giving my children 100 % of my attention 100 % of the time and then I feel guilty for not reaching my 2,000 words-a-day quota because I was busy with the children when they would have survived just fine playing safely in their rooms for an hour.
The answer? Do what you can, when you can, and hope for the best. If that means a question like “What’s that word? The one for having your body ripped apart by four horses?” creeps into your mind while changing diapers because you’re preparing to write a scene in which your main character feels torn in different directions, it’s okay. You’re not crazy, you’re just a writer.

What some people might call psychosis, writers call multi-tasking.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I'd Like To See E-Books Pull This One Off ...

How cool is this? A Tree made from books! In 20 years, I hope to have written enough books to build my own tree.

Also, Santa, if you're listening ... how about making my first release, A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY, a best-seller? Thanks!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Perfect Gifts for Writers

1. Scrivener writing software. $40

2. IP address fee paid for a year. (Mine would be around $90. If your wondering for your writer friend/spouse, I think that's about average.)

3. Author Swag for giveaways/promotion. Cafe Press and Zazzle are great places to start. $5 and up

4. A shiny new Author Logo. $125

5. Chic office accessories to make
desk-time more fun. See Jane Work has cute stuff online, Target has a nice selection in the store. $10 and up
    6. Netbook for easy typing/researching on the go. Around $200

    7. Unique USB Thumb Drives for the sale/giveaway of e-books.

    8. Barnes and Noble or Amazon Books gift card. The best way to write great books is to read great books. Also, books on writing and books for researching themes (i.e. Celtic Myths for the paranormal writer, A History of Scotland for the Highland romance author.) $25 and up

    9. A great coffee machine...cause every writer I know needs to mainline caffeine in order to meet deadlines on top of everyday life.

    10. Dues or conference costs paid. Romance Writers of America membership $115, RWA Conference or Romantic Times convention.

      Saturday, December 10, 2011

      Twitter Etiquette for Authors

      • If every one of your posts is a plug for your writing, you're doing it wrong.
      • If you only tweet excerpts from your novel, you're doing it wrong.
      • If you send me SPAM the second I follow you, you're doing it wrong.
      • If you post Review snippits once an hour, every hour for an entire day, you're doing it wrong.
      • If you use # in front of half or more of the words in your post, you're doing it wrong.
      • If you occasionally post about contests on your website, you're doing it correctly.
      • If you sometimes post novel excerpts and self-promo but it isn't the majority of your tweets, you're doing it correctly.
      • If you follow someone and then un-follow the moment they follow-back, you're doing it wrong.

      What are some of the other annoying things you see on Twitter?

      Wednesday, December 7, 2011

      The Best and Worst of Christmas

      Best Christmas Movies:

      While there are many I could name as "the best Christmas movies", the original Gremlins and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation are indisputably two of the greatest. Two lesser known (at least to recent generations) movies that I've found to be some of my favorites are Christmas in Connecticut and Holiday Inn. If you haven't seen these, do yourself a favor and watch them this holiday season.

      Worst Holiday Decorations

      While no one can be blamed for having a slight curiosity about the "wacky-waving-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube man" of Christmas, you have to admit, this semi-recent craze is one of the tackiest Christmas traditions available at your local Wal-Mart.

      "Hey, look! A ten foot, plastic, touch-button inflatable Snow Globe! That'll look great in our yard next to that old Ford we have up on blocks. We'll put it between the Ford and our trailer. It'll really tie the yard together."

      Or, for some reason I'm not sure I even want to know, you can get a set of hollow, plastic, preferably weather-faded Nativity Scene people/animals and prop them up under a shoddy ply-wood lean-to. If you want to get real classy with it, drag out a bright orange extension cord and plug in a spotlight to shine on this atrocity so it cannot escape notice, even after dark. Presentation, after all, makes all the difference.

      Tuesday, November 22, 2011

      The Fictional Hymen

      I've been reading a lot of historical romances over the last six months. At the risk of being ostracized by non-romance reading higher literary connoisseurs, I have to say: I love, love, love me some big brawny Scots in kilts.

      There is one similarity, however, in nearly every single one of the historical romances I've read that drives me crazy, The Fictional Hymen. Or, rather, the breaking of said hymen.

      Why is it, in historical fiction, losing one's virginity is so painful and terrible it always reads like the heroine is having an appendectomy sans sedation?

      Okay, so the hero's wang is always of fictional proportions but still, why is it always the most painful thing in the entire world? I remember my first time clearly. Disappointing, uncomfortable, embarrassing maybe, but not the end of the freaking world. Of course, "he" was no where near "fictional proportions", still, I don't buy the scene where the heroine describes losing her virginity as being "ripped in half". WTH

      Now, like I said, I still love historical romances. I'm just wondering what the deal is with this theme? I understand the nuances of the times may have left the woman with little to no knowledge of sex prior to marriage but I'm wondering how that translates to being "ripped in half" while losing one's virginity.

      In none of the contemporary romances I've read have the heroines felt this way while losing their virginity. In contemporary romance, the heroine usually feels a twinge, a short spike of pain maybe, then she realizes she's having sex for the first time with a man who's cut like a Greek statue and she stops worrying about her stupid hymen.

      I'm thinking maybe I'll make my daughter read only historical romances as a teen--and only to the first sexual encounter--so she'll never want to have sex. Hahaha On her 18th birthday, I'll gift her the last half of all those novels.

      Tuesday, November 15, 2011

      Annnd, on a lighter note...

      I have some wonderful things happening during the first half of 2012. With my first book A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY set to release in February, I'll be doing some blog tours, shameless self-promo and even a few book signings in my local area.

      I've been working on some promo stuff for give-aways and sale items for book signings and finally received my official, finished S.J. Drum logo.

      I've also had a couple requests from literary agents and publishers to read the full SURPRISINGLY SUPERNATURAL manuscript for possible publication. *Fingers crossed, hoping someone is fabulous enough to pick it up!*

      Now, for the Needs-Your-Input part of the program:

      A lot of people are using e-readers these days so I've been working on some ideas for including e-books when I do author appearances. Specifically, I'm planning on obtaining a booth at the Yellow Springs Street Fair and will have printed copies of my book available for purchase. In addition to the traditional printed copies, I'm thinking of having some thumb-drives loaded with the e-pub/kindle/pdf version of the book for sale at the table as well.

      My idea is to have the thumb-drives printed with my logo on the outside and attached to a book-sized, sturdy card-stock print of the cover of my book. I'll be able to sign/personalize the printed cover and you could, if you were so inclined, keep it (even frame it if you wanted, cause I'm just that awesome lol) This way, those that would rather read on their e-books don't have to walk away empty handed and I don't have to depend upon them going home, logging onto the internet, searching out my book, digging out a credit card, and ordering the e-book. Win/Win, right?

      Any thoughts? Suggestions? Irrelevant profanities?

      Wednesday, November 9, 2011

      Personal Demons

      The days (sometimes weeks) immediately following me reading about child abuse are always full of sleepless nights, nightmares, restless days and an all around emotional funk. Why do I keep reading about these things when they become top news? Because if those kids can endure the reality, I feel like the least I can do is read about it. The victims deserve that much at least.

      The problem is, whenever a case like the Jerry Sandusky case comes to light or I read a book like The End of the World as We Know It by Robert Goolrick, my own personal demons always break free of their prison as if they've discovered a kindred spirit in these stories and can't bare to be corralled in the dark space where I keep them.

      So, I spend the next few days or weeks trying to gather them all up, hog-tie them and stuff them back down where they belong...where I don't see them every time I close my eyes.

      I start going back over things and telling myself "I shouldn't have worried about causing a scene. I shouldn't have worried about being embarrassed or getting into trouble, I should've screamed and yelled and kicked and fought harder. I shouldn't have sat there and tried to be as still and silent as possible, tried to disappear. I shouldn't have laid there and wept and waited for it to be over. I should have fought harder."

      Even though I've had no less than six psychiatrists tell me it wasn't my fault, I can't help but think it was. Because it wasn't one time and one person. It was numerous times over the course of my life and a handful of different persons. If I didn't somehow ask for this or at the very least, not discourage it properly, then why did it happen?

      Humiliation and fear are the number one reasons why there are always more than one encounter. When you're young, when you're a child and someone does something to you they shouldn't, sometimes it feels good. You can't help it and it makes you feel wrong and dirty and ashamed. Emotionally, you might be dying inside but your stupid traitor of a body doesn't seem to be on the same page.

      I don't have the answers. All I know is I feel so deeply for the children abused by Jerry Sandusky and others like him. If life were a comic book, I'd gladly take the role of avenging heroine.

      Sunday, November 6, 2011

      Sneak Peak At My Work-In-Progress

      Here's a little peak at an excerpt from the first draft of my WIP. The working title is CAGED IN MYTH and it's a young adult novel about a 17yr old guy with Druid ancestry who lives and works with other orphaned supernaturals.

      “I could go for a beer,” Jace said, stretching his long legs across the backseat.

      “Well,” I said, shifting into second gear as I drove down the winding drive, “If you’d gotten your sister to make the fake ID’s like you were supposed to, we could be going to the bar right now and drinking all the beers we want.”

      “Hey, man, I tried. I’m telling you, she’s turned into a total prude since she married that douchebag Zander.”

      Alex piped in, “I thought you liked Zander.”

      Jace grumbled something unintelligible.

      I laughed, “He just doesn’t like that the guy’s fucking his sister.” That earned me a smack to the back of my head and a stream of curses from the backseat.

      I slammed the brakes, ripped the keys out of the ignition and shoved the door open. Jace clung to my neck with a vice-like choke hold while Alex shouted encouragements from the passenger seat.

      I rolled outside and onto the gravel with Jace still attached to my back, trying his damnedest to assert his authority by inserting a spit covered finger into my ear.

      Friday, October 28, 2011

      The Not-So-Wonderful Years

      So, this morning, while dragging my two children through Wal-Mart for our bi-weekly shopping trip, I started to get annoyed. Anyone with small kids understands what an undertaking it is to be alone with two kids under 3 yrs while trying to do substantial grocery shopping. By the time you get home, you feel like you've been at the gym all day.

      Load the kids in the car, unload the kids and load them in the shopping cart. Load the cart full of everything you need, unload the cart onto the belt, load the cart with the bagged items. Unload the cart and fill your car, unload the car and carrying everything inside the house, unload the kids, settle everything in its proper place.

      While loading the groceries into the trunk of my car, I had a moment of clarity. I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes have selective memory. I might forget about a huge chunk of time in my life until the memory is needed to work out something else inside my brain. While loading the groceries and grumbling about what a pain the ass it was, I remembered.

      I remembered a time when I lived in my car with only a cat and a handgun to keep me company. I remembered being so hungry I ate the cat's food and then felt guilty because it meant having less for her to eat.

      I remembered living in a stranger's unfinished, unheated attic in the middle of an Ohio winter and being so hungry I stole food. I remembered finally getting a shitty job as a ski-lift attendant and how much I looked forward to freezing my ass off in the cold at 4am in clothing that wasn't adequate just so I could enjoy the free lunch that came during the middle of every shift.

      I remembered a time when I was so broken from abuse and bad decisions that no amount of alcohol, drugs or pills could dull the pain. And believe me, I gave it a valiant effort.

      I remembered living with a man I thought I'd marry and then finding out he was sneaking off to screw his best-friend--a MALE best friend. I've got no problem with gay guys, I even think it's kinda hot, but not when it's my fiance and I have no idea it's happening.

      So, I looked at my beautiful babies who were being blessedly patient as I loaded the trunk of my crappy car and thought...No, spending the morning braving Wal-Mart and strong-arming twenty pound bags of dog food is not so bad. Not bad at all.

      My baby may be teething, my 2.5 yr old may have decided potty training is for losers, my yard might be a mess, the roof might leak, the second bathroom may never work, the damn dog probably won't ever stop shedding and my husband can sometimes be a jerk. But, I'm so far from where I was. Even on the worst days, this life is better from so many of the others I've lived.

      My husband doesn't cheat or abuse me(and... hey... he's pretty hot too). My kids are handsome and healthy. The house is warm and mostly dry and we have the money to spend on enough groceries that it's annoying to cart them around.

      Memories can be painful, most of mine are. The great thing about remembering the Not-So-Wonderful Years? It makes the good years look even better.

      Tuesday, October 25, 2011

      Daily Dislikes

      I feel like it's time for a little ranting/venting session so here it goes...

      Here are some things that make me want to punch someone (usually myself) square in the face.

      There's a picture inside one of my framed collages that has come loose from the tape holding it in place. The collage is hanging above our television so I can never NOT look at it yet I still have not taken it down to fix the one picture inside that's currently shifted waaay out of place. The frame is a huge pain in the ass to take apart. And, I hate that I've allowed myself to stare at it for two months instead of fixing it.

      Next, Popcorn. That's right, popcorn. Every time I microwave a bag it ends up either half-popped or burned into a black-death-star of kernels in the middle.

      The bathroom, or rather, the cleaning of any bathroom. I doubt anyone likes doing this. That's probably why my husband refuses.

      Lastly, I'm annoyed at myself for being annoyed by these things. I mean, why the hell haven't I just fixed that stupid crooked picture? Do you have anything like this? Something you allow to drive you crazy instead of taking care of it?

      Monday, October 17, 2011

      Guest Blogging

      I'm guest blogging over at Four Strong Women today. Come on over and check it out! The blog entry is entitled The Mysterious Mystery of the Elusive Poop. If you like funny rants and jokes about poop, you'll love this.

      Comments are appreciated.

      Wednesday, October 12, 2011

      THE END, How Books are Made

      Last night I finally finished the last scene of my WIP (work in progress). Contrary to the way it sounds, typing "The End" does not mean the work is done.

      As I lay in bed last night reviewing the manuscript in my head, I found three major scenes needing adjustment. I had dreams about the stupid book all night long and awoke with the urgent need to write down all the things I found wrong with it as the night wore on.

      So, I make the proper adjustment within the text and it's done, right? No? Damn.

      After I've completed the manuscript to the best of my ability (or so I think at the time), I'll break it down and send it chapter by chapter to my critique partner. She'll use Microsoft Word's "Track Changes" function and send each back to me one at a time (while I do the same for her with her manuscript).

      Once I've considered all of her suggestions and fixed any grammar/spelling errors she's found, it's Kinko's time. I have them print and bind the MS with a red cover--so I know that version is unedited--and break out my red pen.

      I do a much better job of line editing (sentence structure, spelling, grammar) on a printed copy. It's just not the same if I read it on the computer. For me, it's easier to find mistakes in printed words.

      I work through the 300+ pages, marking mistakes with a red pen, line by line. This takes me about two weeks. (I'm a full-time wrangler of small children, time can be hard to find.) I then transfer all the red-inked notes to my computer copy and make all the final changes.

      • Next, I draft the dreaded query letter and synopsis.
      • Search a giant-ass database of literary agents and publishers.
      • Compare my work to the work represented by each publisher/agent who function within my MS's(manuscript) genre to see if my story will fit their guidelines.
      • After compiling a list of people to query, I search each one on google, check out their bog/twitter/facebook and find some bit of info about them with which to personalize my query to each specific person. (Yes, this takes an infuriatingly long time.)

      Finally, I submit the appropriate materials--sometimes they ask for a query letter and nothing else, sometimes a query and synopsis, some want sample pages, a few want these documents attached to an email and some request everything be pasted in the body of an email with no attachments.

      Response time on all unsolicited queries is anywhere from 1 day to 6 months. With each response, I update my personal database where I keep track of all submissions. Most are rejections (even super famous authors go though this). During the next few months, I send requested sample pages, chapters, or the entire manuscript to interested parties and wait for one of the fish to bite.

      While waiting for the coveted positive response from someone willing to represent/publish my story, I start plotting and writing my next work. Patience is a writer's best friend.

      This is my personal process, other writers do things differently but this is what works for me. Now, my lovely aspiring writer friends, go forth and write, submit, write, submit, and repeat!

      Monday, October 3, 2011

      Edits and Other Necessary Annoyances

      I'm slowly moving through first-stage edits on one of my manuscripts. That, let me tell you, is not at all fun.

      My method when reviewing a critique or suggested edits is this:

      1. Read the entire excerpt and comments. Allow for extra time just to see through all the red pen that is seemingly cloaking the entire freaking selection.
      2. Close my laptop--so I don't "accidentally" toss it across the room in a fit of rage-- and go do something else. Wash dishes, fold laundry, take a walk with the kids, anything that doesn't involve thinking directly about the bastard who dared to criticize my brilliant work.
      3. After a minimum of a few hours, I re-read the comments only.
      4. Then, if I'm not still in a blind rage, I start making changes.
      5. Slowly, work through the entire selection and make the necessary corrections.

      The most important thing to remember is never, NEVER respond/reply to an editor immediately after viewing their comments for the first time. Having someone pick apart your blood, sweat, and tears is an eviscerating experience, no matter how accurate their comments may be and you don't want to say something in an impromptu email you'll later regret.

      Sometimes it takes two days. Sometimes a week. But after I've calmed down and looked at it rationally, I'm able to ferret out the helpful comments and discard the ones the don't feel right. When it's all said and done, I'm always much happier with my manuscript after editing than I was before it was so rudely marked with red pen.

      In other news, this week I've received a few rejection letters for various submissions. Don't worry, no tears were shed. It comes with the territory. Also, my two-year old son is obsessed with an extremely annoying show called Shaun the Sheep. I'd like to take Shaun the Sheep out back and put a bullet in his furry head! I love my kids, but their choice in programming leaves something to be desired.

      Thursday, September 29, 2011

      The Good, the Bad, and the Rejected

      Being a writer is very similar to any and all other forms of artistic expression. A writer exposes their soul for judgment with each offering of their work and must accept that rejection may be the number one response.

      The good news is that the entire literary and artistic world is subjective. Where one agent might find you mildly illiterate and extremely boring, another might think it's the best thing they've read since learning how to read.

      The bad news is that the entire literary and artistic world is subjective. No matter how great your work is, someone will always dislike it.

      The first firing squad faced by writers is always the Query letter submission. Whether you're submitting to Agents or Publishers or both, querying is sure to make you question your sanity ... and the sanity of those rejecting your (no doubt completely awesome) work.

      Querying is just like losing one's virginity. Lots of waiting, anticipation and practice. Then swift, harsh disappointment.

      You may be turned down by dozens of editors and agents before one bites, but one saying yes is all it takes. J.K. Rowling received dozens of rejections for her first Harry Potter novel.

      Here is a wonderful, inspirational article about 30 famous authors who received numerous rejections and blatantly rude critiques.

      Moral of this story? Believe in yourself, keep focused and be persistent.

      Sunday, September 25, 2011

      What's the Deal with ....

      What's the deal with Book Trailers?

      Apparently book trailers are pretty popular among authors and readers alike. Am I alone in being unaware of this trend? When I think of trailers, I think about movies. I'm not sure I see the point of book trailers.

      If you've never seen a book trailer, check out the BookScreening website or The Romance Theatre.

      So, what do you think? Book trailers yay or nay?

      Monday, September 19, 2011

      "Fat" Is a Dirty Word

      Anyone who's ever been fat, knows that "fat" is a dirty word. Plump, chunky, chubby ... all dirty words.

      A word that might surprise you to think of as a synonym for "fat" is "healthy". I remember quite vividly the first time someone used the word "healthy" and it meant "fat".

      I was in the third grade and my mother had taken me to the doctor for strep throat. When the doctor came into the examination room, my older brother told him, with all the authority that an older brother holds, "She's not sick. She's just fat."

      The doctor looked me over and told my brother, very sternly, that I wasn't fat. I was just a very "healthy" young girl. While nice of him to placate me and defend me against my brother, I think the truth may have proved more fruitful. No third grade girl should weight 120 lbs. Which is what I weighed at the time.

      For the next few years, whenever I or my brother commented on the pudginess of my physique, my mother would adamantly state that I wasn't fat, I was just very "healthy".

      The mother of my boyfriend in college also told me, "You're just a very healthy young woman."

      A few years later and many pounds lighter, a new boyfriend broke up with me on the grounds that I was just "too fat". So what does that tell me about how fat I actually was at the time when someone's mother told me I was only "healthy"?

      Why do people say "healthy" when in fact they mean "fat" and the opposite of what healthy really is? I've no answer for this. My entire life, I've fluctuated from fat to skinnyish and back again. That's just what my body does, with or without the aid of diet and exercise. But still, when I hear someone say that I look "healthy", I always know it's time to put down the danish.

      Thursday, September 15, 2011

      Author-In-Progress, Synopsis

      Below is a synopsis of my current work-in-progress. Like most authors, I love writing books but hate writing a synopsis and/or query letters. Sooooo ... how about you lend me a hand, er, eye? Give me your thoughts on what could be improved or where I might have had grammar amnesia.

      Surprisingly Supernatural, Synopsis

      Elaina Matthews had no idea how much trouble two small sentences could cause. But she was about to find out.

      Following a fatal car crash resulting in the death of Elaina’s parents, Elaina discovers that she has inherited their house in small-town Yellow Springs, OH. As an only child, she’d expected their property to pass on to her. What she didn’t expect was the plea from her mother, requesting Elaina take up residence in the house for a period of no less than two years prior to the property being sold.

      Recently divorced and still young at 28, Elaina had little to lose by leaving her life in Hilton Head, SC behind in favor of honoring her mother’s request. Two sentences tacked on to the will with no further explanation. But it was her mother’s last request and even though she had no desire to live in some northwestern hick town she’d only ever visited once in the three years since her parents moved there, she had no pressing reason to decline.

      Elaina expected moving to change her life, as any relocation naturally would. But the surprises waiting for her in Yellow Springs were beyond anything she could have imagined.

      As if living inside her deceased parents’ home, starting a new job and trying to find her place in a town full of strangers wasn’t stressful enough, there’s a gorgeous man with a devastating smile that lives in the woods … and he claims he’s an Elf.

      When Elaina first meets Ellis, it’s no “heroine stumbles and gallant hero catches her” fairytale beginning. In fact, she falls flat on her face while hiking alone in the woods, following a trail marked on one of her mother’s mysterious, hand drawn maps. However, she wasn’t as alone as she thought, as indicated by the mocking laughter.

      Elaina isn’t one for whimsy and she certainly isn’t inclined to believe the insane stories told by a jerk who laughs at a woman when she takes a tumble, even if he does look like a Greek god. Staying away from him seems like the smartest thing to do, too bad it isn’t that easy. Ellis seems to pop up around every freaking corner and he won’t stop trying to convince her of a secret supernatural world complete with Solar Elves and their evil counterparts, the Zentry.

      His stories becomes harder and harder for her to deny as the evidence starts to accumulate in Ellis’s favor. When Elaina is forced through a portal in the woods and ends up in the realm of the Solar Elves, she can no longer cling to her idea of a simple, singular world.

      Accepting Ellis is an Elf is one thing, accepting him as a lover is a complication she doesn’t need. Especially when Zane—A Zentry Elf living apart from his clan while trying to right the wrongs done by his malevolent father, the Zentry Clan leader—shows up and starts charming Elaina with his dark good looks and self-sacrificing ways. Maintaining a platonic relationship with them both becomes more difficult by the day until they’re all walking a tightrope that could end in more than one broken heart.

      In the meantime, a woman shows up at Elaina’s house, claiming she intends to exact payment from Elaina on a supernatural debt owed to the woman by Elaina’s mother. Being that Elaina’s mother is dead, Elaina is obligated to pay the debt and is saddled with powers and responsibilities of which she doesn’t fully understand and can’t control. She also cannot ask the woman who gave her the powers to explain because the woman was rude enough to die immediately after the power transfer was complete … and she inconveniently left something called a “Soul Tree”—a mature cherry tree—growing through the middle of Elaina’s paved driveway.

      Add a clan full of pixies, one mischievous cat, a sexy best-friend who understands The Gremlins was one of the greatest movies of all time, and the threat of an impending war … and Elaina’s life begins to equal a SURPRISINGLY SUPERNATURAL debacle.

      Elaina Matthews is determined to keep her humor, and her heart, intact while adjusting to this new SURPRISINGLY SUPERNATURAL world. Now, if she can only figure out how to control her new powers and stop a war between the Clans from exploding and destroying everyone she’s come to love …

      Annnnnd just for fun ...

      Wednesday, September 14, 2011

      Adventures in Parenting

      Any stay at home mother will tell you that it's not all fun and games. Most days I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, except I never have time to learn the piano.

      Yesterday was a day when I found myself wishing it was the 18th century, we were rich, and my children both had their own nanny.

      My son has decided he does not want to use the potty anymore. I thought, "Okay. It's a phase, he'll get over it." I took him to the potty twice in the thirty minutes before his nap yesterday afternoon and both times he just said, "No Potty!" So, eventually I put him in his room with all his lovely toys and put the gate up.

      10 minutes later, after tending to his baby sister, I went to check on him. And found him painting the mirrored closet doors.

      He had already painted the gate (somehow getting it inside the thing so I ended up having to dismantle the contraption), he'd painted his door-both sides- AND the handle, including the little hole where you stick a bobbypin if the door gets locked from the inside, and was in the process of thoroughly and liberally covering his closet doors.

      Now, this would have been a huge mess. It would have been a huge mess if it was paint. But it was not paint. No, it was poop! POOP! My son, his room, and the carpet were all covered in shit. He even had it in his eye!

      So, I put his sister in her crib and let her yell while I placed him in the bath with the water running and plug open so he wouldn't be sitting in poop water while I scrubbed his room. I had to throw away two good brushes after I finished scrubbing the carpet with them!

      Meanwhile, I'm 5,000 words from finishing my second novel's first draft, spiders have invaded my house like Arachnophobia, there's a hole in my backyard where we dug up a pipe and then couldn't afford to have it fixed, my bathroom wall is falling apart because the previous owners were dipshits, the swing-set needs to be finished, the playhouse needs to be leveled, a ceiling in one room of our house needs to be replaced, and ... and ... Well, damn.

      I love my children. I love my husband. And I love that I know my kids aren't being abused by some creepy daycare provider. But, if I ever win the lottery, I'm totally hiring an old-school nanny and a maid. Then, when I say, "I need to get some work done." I can go into my office and work, uninterrupted, for more than five minutes at a time.

      Friday, September 9, 2011

      And the Winner Is ...

      I'd like to thank everyone who participated in my contest! There were so many more of you than I could have imagined and I hope you will all come back in February when I have another giveaway including the first copy A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY.

      The winner of this week's contest is ... @weirdoTheresa from Twitter!!! *Very 80's Air High-Five to you, Theresa*

      Thanks Again! And remember ... keep reading and START writing!

      Monday, September 5, 2011

      Contest with Giveaways!

      I need all my marvelous minions to help me "get the word out". I'm looking to expand my exposure as an author by gaining followers on my blog, twitter and facebook. The rules are simple and the prizes are excellent!

      The winner will receive *drumroll*

      • 1 paperback copy of Best-selling author Robyn Carr's MOONLIGHT ROAD, a Women's Fiction story with strong romantic elements and sexy-as-sin military heroes.
      • 1 paperback copy of Best-selling author Lynsay Sands's THE IMMORTAL HUNTER, a Paranormal Romance with devastatingly handsome vampires.
      • 1 paperback copy of Best-selling author Monica McCarty's HIGHLAND SCOUNDREL, an Historical Romance with too-hot-to-handle kilt wearing warriors.

      Although each of the books belong to a series, they can be read as a stand-alone so don't worry if you haven't read the others.

      • Also, the winner will receive a super(naturally) amazing tote bag!

      The winner will be determined on Friday, September 9th by random drawing. The more points you have, the better chance you have of winning.

      To enter, all you have to do is one or all of the following:

      If you are not currently my friend on facebook, friend me - 1 point

      Same goes for Twitter - 1 point

      "Follow" my blog - 1 point

      Post a link to my blog, twitter page or website on facebook, twitter, your blog etc. - 1 point each

      Email me at sarajanedrum @ gmail . com and let me know what you've done and your name, and you'll be entered! I'll notify the winner on Friday the 9th by email. Thanks!





      Saturday, September 3, 2011

      Sneak Peak At Author's Interview

      I'm excited to give you a look at an interview I did with my publisher for A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY. This interview will be formally released around the same time the book is released in February 2012 but you all can read it early, right here!

      Welcome Ms. Clara LaVeaux to Love, Romances, and More, thank you for joining us.

      Did you always want to become a writer?

      I did not always want to be a professional writer. However, since somewhere around the second grade, I have maintained a constant tendency towards writing. I’d often find myself writing poetry (some of it admittedly not very good) during my teenage years. Later, I wrote short stories and partial novels but I never thought of it as more than a hobby. After college, I became an Elephant Handler / Zoo Keeper at the Baton Rouge Zoo, which was amazing, but I still kept sneaking off at night to write. Finally after becoming a mother I decided to dedicate myself to writing as a profession.

      What is the most, and the least interesting fact about writing?

      The most interesting fact is that you can live more than one life. Creating new worlds and new characters involves so much thought and consideration it’s almost as if I could reach out and touch the person I’m writing about.

      The least interesting fact, one often overlooked, is that writing is still work. If you want to get paid for it like it’s a job, you must treat it like a job. This means setting goals, sticking to them, and doing all the not-so-fun stuff like market research, agent/publisher research, publicity work, and critiquing/editing.

      How do you plan to celebrate your first release?

      I will probably have some friends and family over and pander shamelessly to them (haha).

      How did your family react to the fact that you write romance novels? Have your family read your book?

      My family has not read any of my completed works as of yet. They’ll get to read it once it’s published like everyone else. I’m far too critical of myself during the drafting/editing phases to let them read my work before it’s finished. I think they may be a bit shocked that I don’t shy away from sex in my books.

      Most authors are also avid readers. Is this the case with you? If so, who are some of your favorites? Have any influenced your writing?

      This is a tough one. I read so many books each month that it’s hard to keep them all straight in my head. Some of my favorites are Lauren Dane and Adrian Phoenix. Because I have lived in the South, any story with southern flavor will draw me in. I also enjoy Lexi George and Kalayna Price.

      Every book I read influences my writing. I’m a strong believer in “the best way to write a great book is to read great books.”

      Do you feel each of your characters live with you as you write? Do their lives sometimes take over a part of your life? Can you name an example? Do you have living role models for your characters?

      I don’t normally have real life role models for my characters. I write about people whom I’d like to know but have no chance of ever meeting. My characters certainly live with me, especially while in the midst of creating a climatic point within the story.

      I’m currently writing the first book in a series that takes place in the town of Yellow Springs, OH which is actually just down the road from where I live. I find myself walking through town and thinking “I wonder what kind of trouble Elaina [the main character] would find if she wandered into that shop ...”

      Where do you get the inspirations for your books?

      My inspiration comes from everyday life. I’ve always been a daydreamer and often found myself in trouble for staring off into the distance thinking “... what if ...” Give me ten minutes hiking in a forest and I’ll give you a story about the evil sorcerer who most obviously inhabits the shaded corners of said forest.

      Do you find it difficult at times to write love scenes?

      Absolutely! Nothing stunts romantic dialogue like a toddler screaming in my ear “Mommy! Mommy! Mama!” Fortunately, my characters are most understanding and allow me to set aside sex scenes for when the house is quiet, usually around midnight.

      Do you have a problem with deadlines and have you ever suffered a writer’s block?

      Of course! Everyone must, at some point, find themselves stuck on a scene or storyline. Sometimes I’ll go two weeks without getting one word typed. Writing is like being on a diet, just because you stumble doesn’t mean you’ve failed. If you stop dieting altogether because of one malevolent donut, you’ll never reach your goal. If all else fails, I sit down and write SOMETHING. Anything. Eventually my mind starts working again and the story begins to flow.

      Do you prefer stand-alone books or series (As a reader or a writer) ?

      As a reader and a writer, I love books in a series. It’s wonderful to watch characters and worlds grow, become more complicated, and ultimately conclude over the course of a series.

      If you could change places with one character from your book, who would it be and why?

      Hmmm ... I don’t think I would change places with any of my characters. They’ve all had a particularly rough time of it! That’s what makes them interesting. They’re also required to do some very brave things that I don’t know if I’d be able to accomplish in their places.

      What is your favorite book from the books that you have written so far? Who are your favorite hero and heroine, and why?

      Probably my favorite book so far is the one I’m currently writing, Surprisingly Supernatural. The Heroes Zane and Ellis and the Heroine Elaina are all so beautifully broken and struggling to find their places in the world(s) but manage to find humor in even the worst situations.

      Would you like to give another genre a try?

      So far I have written Women’s Fiction and Urban Fantasy. I read a lot of Historical Romance but I don’t think I’ll try my hand at writing it anytime soon.

      Which book was the hardest to write and which the easiest?

      A Life Beyond Yesterday was the hardest to write so far. Not only was it my first completed novel but the heroine also shares some of my characteristics which made putting her through hell a bit more difficult.

      If you could choose one of your books for a movie, which one would it be and who would you as the cast?

      Definitely A Life Beyond Yesterday. The hero in the story is actually a movie star so I think it’d make a great movie. Chris Hemsworth would be perfect for the hero and Deborah Ann Woll would be great as the heroine.

      If you could travel through time to visit a special time period or famous person, what or who would it be and why?

      I would go to medieval Scotland and find myself a sexy Highlander, of course! Nah, I’d probably go back and talk to Earnest Hemingway. He walked the line between genius and insanity for many years before taking the leap.

      Do you listen to music while you are writing and if so what music is it?

      Some songs remind me of characters but I don’t listen to them while writing. I need silence to write.

      Big congrats to your latest release, can you please tell us something about the book?

      I wrote A Life Beyond Yesterday soon after the birth of my first child and becoming a mother played a large role in the lives I created for my characters. Amelia Gauge struggles with life as a new widow and young mother while trying to develop a sense of self. The setting, Venice Beach, CA, is a place I visited during college and my experiences there played a part in certain scenes within the story.

      Are you working on anything right now, and can you tell us a teaser about these projects?

      I’m currently finishing the first book in a new Urban Fantasy series set in Yellow Springs, OH. The characters are sexy, funny, and unpredictable and I can’t get enough of them! You can check out www.SJ-DRUM.com for updates and info. I use Clara LaVeaux as a pen name for my work in Women’s Fiction and all other works are under SJ Drum.