Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm Trying Really Hard...Really I Am

It's so hard to keep politics out of this blog. It really is.  I briefly considered starting a political blog, but quickly realized I was way too moderate to attract enough attention to make it worthwhile.  And although I would dearly love to get back into the political analysis business, I now have a reasonable cop out.

I'm too busy.

But every once in a while, the bug hits me hard.  I want to sink my teeth into an issue and rip it to shreds.  I want to take my soapbox back out! I want to protest, to march, to yell, "Hey you stupid sons-of-bitches! When are you going to stop selling out to the party line?????"

And then common sense takes over and I remind myself, "No, Celina. You don't have enough time to do it right so leave it alone."

And then I stew over it for a few days.

I just wonder sometimes why it is that in America we only have liberals and conservatives. Where are the moderates? The independents? Hell, even a libertarian will do.  Someone who doesn't automatically tie the abortion issue in with foreign affairs, or gay marriage witht he capital gains tax.  Where are the politicians brave enough to say, "You know what? I believe a woman has the right to choose AND I believe that this health insurance reform is a REALLY bad idea?"

Yeah. I know. They're unemployed.

So this is my lone foray into politics on this blog. *sigh* I guess I should probably go ahead and get everything ready for a political blog too, though. Otherwise, everytime I look at this blank screen I'm going to get sidetracked.

We'll just consider this a momentary aberration. Carry on.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another Great Asphodel Review!

This morning, I found a nice surprise in my inbox.  Coffee Time Romance has just released a review of The Asphodel Cycle 4: Apostle of Asphodel. In part, the review said:
Celina Summers has created an absolutely stunning world. The different locations in the story show a lush world of wonder and magic, some good and some bad. The action scenes are amazing and the magic was dazzling. The cast of character building in the story is strong and allows the reader to become involved in their world and feel like one of the gang. Apostle of Asphodel will transport the reader to a different time. Take a trek across a world of magic and a journey that will truly bring the reader pleasure.
Woohoo!  I love getting great reviews!  You can check out the rest of it at the CTR website.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Getting Your Sh*t Together

In keeping with my current thought processes on organization and maximum production, I thought today i'd write about something that really gets me steamed. 

Yesterday, I confided my struggles in staying organized. That organization is essential if I'm to get every accomplished that I need to. So today, I want to talk about the flip side of the coin--keeping your shit together.

The writing relationship is interdependent with other people; it has to be.  Writers rely on cover artists, editors, proofreaders, beta readers and promotional experts to get their books not only ready for publication but out there in the public eye.  All the people in this chain have to be able to depend upon the others to get their work done well and in a timely manner.  Waiting for someone else to hold up their end of the stick is not only annoying, it's costly. 

If, for example, I'm editing a book for an author, she is going to rely upon me to get those edits done quickly and thoroughly and get them to her.  She can't proceed with her story until I've gone through that manuscript and made the necessary corrections--spelling, grammar, telling her what works and what doesn't and generally helping her to find ways to strengthen it.  If I decide to jack around and go play in Walmart for a few days, leaving her manuscript on my desk collecting dust, I'm not just affecting me.  I'm affecting the writer--who's stuck, the cover artist--who's waiting for the author's manuscript to be done, the proofers--who can't do their work until I've done mine, the promotional people--can't publicize excerpts if they aren't ready, and the publisher--this should be obvious.  If the edits drag on, the release date of the book can be delayed or pushed back.  This will impact people that I don't ever interact with and probably don't even know--the website manager, for example, or the third party sites that have to be informed the manuscript won't be ready.  And the domino effect continues all the way to someone's living room (maybe yours) who is waiting anxiously for that book from your favorite author to come out and is horribly disappointed when it doesn't. So playing at Walmart instead of editing may not seem that important at the time, but the end result might be the loss of readers for that author.

Laid out like that, it's kind of daunting, isn't it? Sure--procrastination is a fault many people share.  I am the queen of procrastination when it comes to things like washing the dishes or making an appointment at the vet.  But with writing--whether it's mine or someone else's--I can't afford to put things off.  I have to do my work to the best of my ability and as expeditiously as possible. 

So take a minute and think about what effects your procrastination might have. Think about who you're affecting with your inability to get things done when they're supposed to be done. Then sit down and try to figure out a way to alleviate your desire to put things off and see how it affects you overall.

And above all, get your shit together.  For every moment that you delay, you're wasting someone else's time. 

A Plan...and a Schedule-- Celina's "A Month In The Life"

I was making out a list today. I'm a professional list-maker.  I don't make grocery lists; I make life lists.  Sometimes I try to make a real schedule for my day and stick to it.

I usually don't.  I'm too easily distracted.

Unfortunately, I have so much to get done over the next month that I don't dare attempt it without being very strict about how I'm going to spend my time.  Between writing deadlines, editing deadlines, promotional deadlines and the convention, if I don't schedule my meals I won't be able to remember to eat.  Yesterday I literally forgot to eat.  Although missing a few meals won't hurt me--and after my butchery appointment at the dentist's yesterday eating very well might have hurt--that's not really the best weight loss program I could follow.  So I'm hanging out with my calendar and my appointment book and I am making a schedule for every day in the month of April.

And then I started to think.  A lot of people have asked me, "Celina, how in the world do you manage to get everything done?"  So, I decided that maybe in April I'll show them. My journal has been stapled to my side for the past few months anyway.  So beginning on April 1, I'm going to use my blog in lieu of my journal.  I'm going to post my schedule every morning and while I'm working, I'll make notes in my journal about my progress.  You'll be able to track my word counts, my distractions (mostly a couple of TV shows and the daily crisis call from someone in my family) and my deadlines.  You'll know just about as soon as I will if I screw everything up (which will happen, I guarantee you) or if I exceed my goals for the day.  If nothing else, it might help some of the younger writers who wonder how an author whose last name isn't Rowling can manage to survive financially while writing full-time or how I can manage to split my time between writing and editing.

Make no mistake--it's a buttload of work. My eighteen hour days are not a myth.

And, as an added bonus, I'll keep that blog/journal going throughout the Romantic Times convention.  You'll know who I met, what I did and what was notable about the workshops and events I attended.  If, towards the end of the day at RT my typing becomes worse, you'll know I'm updating my post in the bar. 

What good is a convention without a Happy Hour?  I ask you!

Heck--I'll even do a play-by-play of my pitch sessions.  Benefits for everyone...

So brace yourselves.  For the entire month of April, you get to walk that proverbial mile in my shoes--and if we're lucky, neither one of us will trip over my big feet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A New Countdown Clock?

Notice anything new?

Yep--that's right!  The release date for The Vampire Covenants 2: Warding the Covenants, co-written with fellow AMP author Rob Graham, will be released on April 30, 2010~!

I'm excited.  I'll have two books released on two consecutive weeks.  Stay tuned for more info--this month is going to be crazy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Drive By Post

Yep, I'm posting in a hurry today because I've had the most productive day of the year so far! I've cleared out all my submissions, sent off two sets of edits to my writers, written a letter of recommendation for a friend applying to graduate school, doctored up a sick kitty, finished up my laundry, sent out Aurora Regency's very first offers of publication to some very very good writers and started to work on paraphenalia for the Romantic Times convention.  But, in between all of this and my mandatory writing block which begins in fifteen minutes, I had to come post this little nugget quickly.

Remember me telling you I was going to be interviewed by future Hugo nominee (at least, she'd better be nominated at some point damnit!) Gini Koch?  Well, the interview is up and live in the Spotlight section of her website!  Go to http://www.ginikoch.com/spotlight.htm and take a look.  You'll find out things about me you might never otherwise have known!  And then, be sure to check out Gini's upcoming novel Touched by an Alien--which will be released by DAW on April 6~! Gini is a fantastic writer and you won't be disappointed. Touched by an Alien is available for pre-order. Get it now! You won't be sorry.


An interview? With me? Wow. I am overwhelmed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And More New Information~!

You may have noticed that the countdown clock is going...

Yep. We have a release date! Mythos 2: Daughter of the Sea will be released by Aspen Mountain Press on May 7th!  Want to hear more about it?  Okay--here we go:

The young gods of Olympus have pursued the sea god Nereus’ daughters, Amphitrite and Thetis, since they grew to maturity. The sisters are used to the adoration of immortal men and like the attention they receive. But when the imprisoned Titan, Prometheus, makes a prophecy that Thetis’ son will be greater than his father, the gods shun the beautiful nymph. Thetis hides herself away from Olympus, leaving her sister Amphitrite angry and in no mood to deal with the fickle tastes of men.

When the King of the ocean, Poseidon, watches Amphitrite dance at a feast upon Olympus, he falls instantly in love with her. His attempts to court Amphitrite end in disaster; she flees to the one place in the three realms where no Olympian can go. Can Poseidon find some messenger to break through her anger and win her heart? Or will the great god of the oceans be spurned by this daughter of the sea?

Heh. I love that storyline.  At any rate, the adventures of Amphitrite and Poseidon will be released on May the 7th and I'm excited about it!
In other news...
I've received two new reviews this week.  ChrisChat Reviews  posted articles about both The Asphodel Cycle 3: Temptation of Asphodel and  Vampire Covenants 1: Breaking the Covenants.
About  Temptation,  the reviewer said in part:
"...As a reader, we all love tightly written tales. Stories which move quickly and have moments of calm where we can breath a little, where the characters can relax before the next surprise, the next battle. As a reviewer, these tales make my day. I love books which carry me away with their telling and have me forgetting I’m suppose to be looking for the positives and any negatives. Ms. Summers continues to capture the reader in me, while making me, the reviewer, forget what I’m suppose to be reading for..."
About Breaking the Covenants, co-written with Rob Graham, she writes:
"...In BREAKING THE COVENANTS you will be introduced to many other characters…the characters that guide, hinder, protect, and use Marguerite and Gunther. My favourite is Marcellin. I don’t want to tell much about Marcellin—he’s a character one must discover for oneself—I’m already hoping for a story of his own.Truthfully, there are other characters within BREAKING THE COVENANTS, which could easily carry their own separate story. Ms. Summers, Mr. Graham, was that a subtle enough hint? I am eagerly waiting book two. .."
ChrisChat Reviews gave both books a FOUR out of FOUR. Not too shabby, eh?
And, so--today some of my promo items came in for the RT Convention.  I'm excited--the little document stands look great and are a really nice gift for readers.  Everyone wants something to hold up a document when they're typing, right?  And instead of the big, bulky ugly metal ones, what could be nicer than a small, red, portable document stand...with my name and website address on it?
Right! Nothing.
OW.  That hurt.  The emergency root canal turned into TWO root canals this morning.  I was in the dentist's chair from eight am until just before three and my jaw is SCREAMING at me.  That's enough blogging for today.  See you next time!
Oh, by the way--want a document stand?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Breaking the Covenants Moving Up Bestseller List!

Oh forgot this too--

Breaking The Covenants, the maiden novel in the Vampire Covenants series I'm co-writing with Rob Grahqwam is now at 32nd on the Fictionwise Bestseller list for Dark Fantasy! We're catching up with books by Charlain Harris and Stacia Kana so I'm totally excited!


Right now, Aspen Mountain Press' top two bestsellers at Mobipocket are BOTH my books!  Mythos 1: Bride of Death tops all other AMP books while The Asphodel Cycle 4: Apostle of Asphodel  is in second place.  So yeah--I'm having a GREAT week in sales.  Thanks to all of you for that!

Way Too Much To Do

It never fails that on a day when you have way too much to do, your body suddenly sits up, screams, "Hell, no! I'm not doing squat!" and provides you with the fabulously entertaining afternoon of trying to explain to the rest of the world why you're not getting done what you need to be getting done.

For example...and don't be so modest. You knew it was coming.

For example--I have two of my own books in edits right now. Both Covenants 2: Warding the Covenants and Mythos 2: Daughter of the Sea are with two entirely different editors.I am also editing two--no, three!--manuscripts for three entirely different writers. Plus, I am writing three...no, four contracted works at the moment and really busting my ass to get Mythos 3: Beloved of a Mortal in shape which means, naturally, that the muse wants to work on any. story. but. that. one.  The kids are coming home next weekend for our wedding anniversary, which means I need to get the house in order and the guest room de-catted.  Then I'm sending the girls with their girls to go get Easter portraits made for all the grandparents and great grandparents.  Then I'm still waiting on my promotional document stands to get here for the RT convention; they have to go in the closet by the sports bottles I got last week. Plus I need to make all my promotional gear for RT--business cards, postcards, bookmarks, cover flats, CDs and covers, table decorations, gift baskets and so forth--NOT TO MENTION the costumes for the two costumed events and work on my pitch and get my other agent-ready manuscripts finalized and start promotion for the nest Mythos book and the next Covenants book AND I have to do review submissions for AMP AND work on royalties AND wade through the slush pile for Aurora Regency and start to whittle it down to viable submissions AND I'd intended to do so much of this this week, starting today, so I sat down for a minute to eat a roll and watch my new favorite and only non-TIVOed television show (Undercover Boss on CBS at 9 pm EST on Sundays--the only show my husband and I both like and watch together so it's our weekly date) and as I bit into the roll--a soft yeast roll, because I love them--something strange happened and...and...

The tooth I was going to have a root canal on the week after this snapped off at the jawline.

The WHOLE tooth, save for a few purgatorial spears of bone, came out in my hand when I spit the strange hard object from my mouth.

First off, I'd just like to point out that considering how much I'm paying for dental care, this really annoys me.

Second, a big I TOLD YOU SO!!! to my dentist who insisted last month that the tooth would make it five more weeks until the root canal.  No, Doc--sorry. It didn't.  And I wasn't chewing ice. I was eating a soft yeast roll.

And, naturally, my third thought was OUCH!

Owowowowowowowowowowow--man does that hurt!  So, despite the hectic schedule this week and the work that is piling up faster than bonbons on a conveyor belt when Lucy is manning the line, everything comes to a screeching halt while I try to coordinate enough time--not only on my schedule but the dentist's--to get this little problem corrected all the time not looking in the mirror at my homage de la Alvin and the Chipmunks facial swelling and seeing double anyway.

All that spring forward crap? I sprang forward--and it looks like I sprang right into a brick wall.

Oh, by the way--I'll blog more about this tomorrow BUT be sure you head to my friend Gini Koch's website on Wednesday, March 24.  She's interviewed me for her site and you might find it funny.  Gini's sci fi novel Touched by an Alien is about to be released by DAW books and is available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. 

Gini is one of the most prolific writers I know. She writes faster than I do, and that's some trick. She's also a hell of a damn good writer with sharp characters and completely amazing world building skills.  I don't say this about many writers so you know I'm telling it like it is.  Hop on over to her website and check it out.  You'll enjoy it--I promise.  Be sure you take a look at Touched by an Alien too.  I've already pre-ordered my copy and you won't regret picking yours up too.  I guarantee you--she's a future Hugo winner! I have faith in her.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Um... So What Exactly Do I Say?

So, at the Romantic Times convention, I have an appointment with an agent and also with an editor for a major publishing house. I'm thinking the chance for a sit down one on one pitch session is a chance for me to excel.  After all, I was a professional actor for a long time. A nationally recognized public speaker. A bartender.  I can talk to anyone. Right?

Yeah, but what do I say?

Let me think: 

"Hello, Mr/Ms Big Time New York Agent/Editor For A House I Would Die To be Contracted By!  My name is Celina Summers. I write speculative fiction with a heavy dose of romance. I focus upon strong female protagonists and I'm really headed for the top!  Now--fork over my contract or I won't buy you a drink in the bar..."

Nope. Not it.

"Yo, babe. My name's Celina. You can call me Your Majesty.  I have the best manuscript in the world, the next great American novel--a guaranteed blockbuster that will make JK Rowling and Stepheny Meyer look like rank amateurs..."

Nope. Not it either.

"Um...hi.  Um...I wrote this book, you know? And it's about weird people who fall in love.  And magic. Can't forget the magic. And I like cats..."


"You know, I queried you last week/month/year and you didn't request my manuscript so I figured I'd show up here and tell you why you were wrong..."


"My name is Celina and I am an alcoholic..."

Nope. Not a good idea.

"Hi. My name is Celina Summers.  Right now, I have five manuscripts completed in the genres of paranormal romance, urban fantasy and high fantasy.  Three are standalone books and two are the first books of potential series.  Chances are if you tell me what you're looking for, I have a manuscript that'll fill that need..."

Not bad, but the subtext would be "...and if it's not, I'll damn sure make certain it is before I send it to you..."

So let me think. What would I say?

This makes me fall back on the long days of cattle call auditions.  When you're auditioning for a role, you not only want to do a great job interpreting the script but you want to make certain you're memorable to the casting director.  Now, there were many occasions that I was memorable--mostly because I face-planted on the way onto the stage or did something completely stupid like tucking the back of my skirt into my panty hose.  (I don't recommend that as a good way to get a role, by the way--although I did manage to land that one for some odd reason)

So I'm going to have to rely on instinct.  Let's see where that takes me.

In a one on one situation, the best way to be memorable is to be personable and unaffected.  Fortunately, I'm very comfortable speaking with strangers.  I like to put people at their ease.  In an eight minute scheduled appointment with an agent or editor, I need to be able to do that swiftly.  I need to be able to get across as much information as possible as quickly as I can.  That means being able to boil my pitch (my query letter) down into three or four well-chosen sentences.  I need to relate my experience, publishing history and strengths as a writer without sounding like an overbearing asshat.

My manner, which in my debate days was kindly described as "formidable" and somewhat more accurately called "bitchy," needs to be calm and pleasant. And above all, I need to arrive at a point as soon as I possibly can where the agent/editor can ask me questions--and THAT means I need to make them interested in my work.

So to start off with, I think my best bet is to get that presentation as efficient as I possibly can and then work from there.  Keep an eye out on the blog--I'm going to make notes as we get closer to convention time and let you know what I'm thinking.  Then, as I'm planning an extensive blogging experience at RT, I'll let you know how my plans worked or if they didn't.

Oh, I haven't mentioned that yet have I? I will be updating my blog a minimum of three times a day at the RT Convention and I'll share as much as I can of the experience.  I'll be heading into it with a lot of momentum too.  Mythos 1: Bride of Death  is currently AMP's #1 seller on Mobipocket and Breaking the Covenants is currently ranked 35th on the Fictionwise Best Seller list for Dark Fantasy.

Aha!  Something else I can say.  Amazing how that works.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Plotting and Plotting

It's all I seem to be doing these days--plotting.  No, not against people. Plotting new storylines. Or, in the case of Terella, replotting. 

Every writer plots.  Not all of us outline--personally, I prefer to sit around and make notes and then just let the story happen as it may.  But, regardless of what I'm writing, there's one thing I absolutely know whenever I poise my fingers above my keyword and prepare to type "CHAPTER ONE."

The ending.

I always know how the story is going to end.  If I don't know how it's going to end, how am I going to fully develop the path the story takes to get to the end?  It's impossible.  There's no way I could have written Tamsen's story if I hadn't known that at the end of The Asphodel Cycle, one of the primary characters was going to...erm...die.  I think I would have written that character differently if I hadn't known; the character almost certainly wouldn't have taken on the importance that he/she ultimately did if I'd not planned that death.  The death serves a purpose, not only for the main character at that moment of the story but for any--ahem!--future Asphodel stories that I may or may not be working on at the moment.

Yeah, if I'd tried to be any more coy than I just was, my fillings would have jumped out of my teeth.  Suffice to say that while some writers have elaborate and detailed plot outlines of their stories, still others like myself don't outline at all.  Regardless of which method you prefer, I think it's fairly important that you at least know where the story is going to end up.  The Mythos series is pretty sweet that way--I don't have a choice about how the stories resolve.  Since I'm sticking to the original classical sources, anyone with Google-fu or Morford's mythology books would be able to determine the ultimate outcome of those stories.

So here I sit, like a spider in a web, stringing out my plotlines in my head and trying to determine how to make them work.  Terella has been giving me fits now for how long? Two years?  The main reason I'm having such trouble with it is because I didn't have the ending planned before I began to write. (Darn that NaNoWriMo stuff anyway!) But now that I have an ending I'm pleased with, I figure I have to cut at least 40% of the manuscript in order to get the storyline back on track.

Color me contented--I like a challenge.