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!!/authorsjdrum

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 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.