Archive for April, 2014

TWN WWW 300

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Stina Lindenblatt, blogger, and author of the New Adult contemporary romance TELL ME WHEN.

Tell-Me-When-cover

 

Welcome, Stina !

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

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Author Stina Lindenblatt

I can now officially say I write for a living after my New Adult contemporary romance sold in a two-book deal to Carina Press (Harlequin’s digit imprint).  I’m also an avid close-up photographer, which I find helpful when it comes to writing.

 

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

We’re hoping to move one day, but for now my bedroom is my office. The commute is a killer in the winter. *grins*

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

When I started writing, we moved the computer into my room, but we didn’t want my young kids to mess around with it. So I bought a fancy cabinet where I could lock away the computer. Most of the time I forgot to lock the kid-proof device. My kids are older now, so I recently threw it away.

Stina's-work-area

Stina’s Workspace

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

I have my support team hanging around the computer. I’ve tried to get them to brainstorm with me, but so far it hasn’t happened. I think they’re shy.

 

4. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

Diet Dr. Pepper. Definitely Diet Dr. Pepper. Skim milk, but mostly in the evenings. And sometimes water (if it’s hot).

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

I don’t have a favorite author. I’m a fan of many YA and NA (New Adult) authors. The author who inspired me to start writing NA books instead of YA was Tammara Webber. I read EASY and was instantly sold on the category.

 

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

I get up at 5 a.m and blog, check my emails, and play on Twitter. At 6:40 a.m, it’s time to get the kids up for school.  With three kids and three different school schedules, I finally get the last kid out the door around 8:30 a.m. At this point, I go for a run (great for brainstorming plots). Afterwards, I spend the most of the day writing (until dinner). Fortunately my super supportive hubby makes the dinners, but I think that’s because he got bored of the same pasta every day. LOL

 My schedule is pretty similar on the weekend, except I spend more time with the family on Sundays. And, of course, I don’t have to get the kids up for school, which gives me more writing time in the mornings.

 

3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I have to write every day or else I suffer from withdrawals. And that’s not a pretty sight.

My worst writing distraction is the Internet. I have to unplug the modem so that I don’t cave into the temptation of checking my inbox or social media account. When my kids are home, they can be a distraction too. My definition of an emergency is different to theirs.

 

4. Why do you write?

I live for it. My characters don’t shut up and so I have to write. It’s as simple as that.

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

 Just do it!

 

Okay, I know that’s a Nike slogan but it still applies to writing. If you don’t do it, it won’t happen.

 

Thanks, Nutschell and everyone, for visiting my not-so-exciting writing place. :)

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life,  Stina!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

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Birthday Giveaways

I am another year older and wiser! Well, okay, so I’m not sure about the “wiser” part, but I am definitely older.

Had a fun and relaxing time last Saturday, starting with a day at the spa and ending with a fun potluck party at home with friends.

Thanks to the busy weekend, I wasn’t able to prepare my scheduled post for today, so I’ve decided to just remind you about my awesome giveaways instead.

 

I’m giving away a KINDLE copy of Lydia Kang’s CONTROL.

control lydia kang

 

AND  an AUTOGRAPHED copy of the graphic novel: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 2.

AVATAR promise part 2

 

 

To join this amazing giveaway and learn the contest rules, simply click on the link below:

 

 

http://www.thewritingnut.com/contest/spotlight-week-giveaway-control-lydia-kang/

 

I’ll be back on Wednesday for another Wednesday Writers Workspace feature. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead.

 

 

 

 

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This week the Spotlight was on Lydia Kang and her exciting Young Adult Science Fiction novel CONTROL.  

If you want to know more about CONTROL you can read my book review here or watch the amazing trailer below:

Also, check out my fun interview with author Lydia Kang.

To end our Spotlight Week, I’m giving away a copy of CONTROL.

control lydia kang

In the interest of being green, I’ve decided to give away a KINDLE copy instead of the usual paperback copy.

But that’s not all, I’m also having a

Birthday Giveaway!

To celebrate my birthday tomorrow, I’ll be giving away an AUTOGRAPHED copy of the graphic novel: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 2.

AVATAR promise part 2

 

To win, just leave a comment below and tell me why you’d like a copy of the CONTROL and AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER: THE PROMISE PART 2.

I’ll put all your names in my magical drawing box and pick the winner.

I love encouraging people to unleash their imaginative and creative sides, so the more creative your answers are, the more chances you have of winning. If your comment/answer tickles my fancy, I’ll add another slip of paper (or two) with your name on it to my drawing box.

Also, if you tweet about this giveaway, or share it on Facebook, I’ll add more 2 slips of papers with your name on it.
AND if you FOLLOW ME on Linky OR on Facebook’s networked blogs, I’ll add 6 more entries with your name into the drawing bowl.

The contest is international and will run until May 3, 2014.

 

 

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Lydia Kang is one of my bloggy buddies, and a fellow member of the Write On to Build On group.

I stumbled upon her amazing blog The Word Is My Oyster and was immediately hooked by her Medical Monday series, where she writes posts to help writers create more realistic medical scenarios.

Lydia is not only an author, she is prolific blogger, a medical doctor, wife, and mom of three. I am in constant awe of how she juggles all the roles she has to play in life. She is a total rockstar in my book.

Here’s a bit more about Lydia, from her author bio on lydiakang.com:

Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. She believes in science and knocking on wood, and currently lives in Omaha with her husband, three children, and a terrarium full of stick bugs.

Lydia is represented by Eric Myers of the Spieler Agency.

 

Without further ado, I present the amazing Lydia Kang!

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LydiaKang

 The Amazing Lydia Kang

 

 1.    Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourself.

I used to be a fan of mixed-martial arts fighting. George St. Pierre was my favorite.

I went through a grunge phase (like the rest of my friends in the 90’s) and crowdsurfed the mosh pit at Lollapalooza.

I can crochet itty, bitty snowflakes out of white thread.

 

2. You are an internal medicine physician by trade. What prompted you to take the leap into the wonderful world of writing?

I always wanted to write, but didn’t know how. I got involved in a writer’s group that combined doctors with poets and writers, and the spark went from there!

 

3.    What inspired you to write Control? How did Zelia’s story come about?

Zelia’s disability, Ondine’s Curse (or Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome) was rediscovered when I was studying for my Internal Medicine board recertification. Also, I wanted to write about kids with mutations, but in a more scientifically sound way than imagined in the X-men mythology.

4.    CONTROL features characters who have modified genes that give them special abilities. Which of these special abilities did you enjoy writing the most? And what “superpower” would you love to have if you were given the chance?

Wilbert’s is my favorite, because I would get so much writing done if I didn’t have to sleep! I had a lot of fun imagining his trait.

 5.    Zelia’s story is set in Neia (the combined states of Nebraska and Iowa) in 2150. How did you come up with this particular setting for your novel? Magpods and styling wands are pretty cool, but what particular element of your futuristic society did you enjoy writing the most?

I came up with the idea of the clustered states by watching a lot of the news. Politics have always divided our nation, so I considered a country where everyone with the same beliefs just clustered together in particular states. My favorite fictional technology are the efferents—they’re like microwaves where you preload food, then punch in what you want and get it immediately.

6.    If your books were to be made into a movie, which scene would you be most interested in seeing live on the big screen?

Probably the scene under the agriplane towards the end of the book—I’d love to see what the cityscape looked like!

 7.    What books and movies inspired your love for Sci-Fi? Would you ever consider writing in another genre?

I love sci-fi and was influenced by movies, like Blade Runner, and current YA sci-fi, like Beth Revis’s novels. Yes, I would, and I do write in other genres! I’m having fun writing fantasy right now, but I’m thinking of doing more historical and gothic stuff.

8.    Tell us about your path to publication. What is the coolest thing about being a published author?

Control is my third book. I suffered through a lot of agent rejections before I landed an agent and a publishing deal. So yeah—I had a lot to learn and learned it during every spare moment of my time for the last several years. The best thing about being an author is getting my book into the hands of people who don’t know me at all—perfect strangers. That is a trip! Also, I love being friends with other authors. It’s one of the best perks of being an author.

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Lydia Kang, photograph by Bill Sitzmann, as featured in the Omaha Magazine

9.    What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

I check all my email and forums and social media before I can sit and write. Also, I have to listen to music.

 10. You were many hats: author, physician, blogger, wife, and mom among other things. How do you manage to juggle all the responsibilities of each role? Do any of these roles influence your writing?

My doctor work definitely influences my writing, but overall, I’d say just living to my ripe old age (not going to tell you how old!) gave me some life experience that I needed for my writing. How do I juggle? Well, I’m a part time doctor, which allows more time for writing!

 11. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?  Any hobbies, sports, or crafts you like to spend time on?

I used to play piano, draw, knit, crochet, but most of that has been gobbled up by writing now. I love yoga though. I do that to keep in shape.

12. Are you a plotter or pantser? Are there any specific writing tools (books, software, a specific pen J ) you use to work on your novels?

I’m a plotter for the major events of the story, but I pants my scenes. I use Scrivener and love it.

 13. CATALYST, the sequel to CONTROL is scheduled to come out in 2015. How far along are you in terms of writing CATALYST? Are you currently working on any other projects?

Catalyst is in edits right now with my editor. I’m brainstorming my next book right now.

14.  What advice would you like to give to writers on the road to publication?

Read a lot in your genre, and be open to criticism.

 15.  What would you like to say to your young readers? Is there any advice that you would like to give them?

Here’s advice that I need to take myself, given that we’re inundated with electronics and social media. Don’t forget to live. Take a few minutes of every day and just see the world around you, without filters, without hashtags. Just…be.

 

Find Lydia Kang on the Web:

     

 

 

And follow her blogs:

The Word Is My Oyster

The League of Extraordinary Writers

The Lucky 13s

The Class of 2k13

Geekery

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Come back this Friday for the final part of the Spotlight Week, where I give away a copy of CONTROL.

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Spotlight Week: Control by Lydia Kang

This month’s Spotlight Week features the Sci-Fi novel CONTROL by author and blogger  Lydia Kang.

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control lydia kang

 

Control

 

400 pages, Hard Cover

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Published on December 26, 2103 by Dial

ISBN-10: 0803739044

ISBN-13: 978-0803739048

 

 

First Line:

Maybe if I move a little slower, I can prevent the inevitable.

 

Synopsis:

Set in 2150 — in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms — this is about the human genetic “mistakes” that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes.

When their overprotective father is killed in a terrible accident, Zel and her younger sister, Dylia, are lost in grief. But it’s not until strangers appear, using bizarre sensory weapons, that the life they had is truly eviscerated. Zel ends up in a safe house for teens that aren’t like any she’s ever seen — teens who, by law, shouldn’t even exist. One of them — an angry tattooed boy haunted by tragedy — can help Zel reunite with her sister.

But only if she is willing to lose him.

 

My Review:

 

The book’s tagline, “A spiraling, intense, romantic read” is a bit misleading. CONTROL is way more than a romance story. It is moral dilemmas, fascinating science, and nail-biting action all rolled into one.

Unlike most Dystopian novels, the world of CONTROL is isn’t filled with barren wastelands or dilapidated buildings. In fact, there is a lot about the setting that I found extremely fascinating. Roads are filled with flying vehicles called magpods, and people walk around with holos—cellphones/computers that all fit in one neat earpiece. Scents/perfumes can be downloaded like programs and styling wands can whip your hair up into a neat do in a few seconds.

And the people have evolved, too—or at least some of them have. Mutants are both prized and hunted by the people who know they exist. Genetic anomalies range from having four arms, or two heads, to having green skin or the ability to heal very quickly. The main character, Zelia, thinks she is normal until she discovers that she has the most sought after mutation of all.

Zelia is a main character you can easily sympathize with. In the beginning of the story she’s presented as sort of “the runt of the litter,” after all she’s sixteen and her body is still under-developed and she has the Ondine’s Curse—a breathing disorder (a real disease), which makes her unable to breathe without the help of a necklace. But as the story progresses, Zelia’s real strengths begin to emerge—her aptitude for science, great skills in lab work, her determination to achieve her goals, and her love for her sister.

The other characters in the story were intriguing in their own right. The allies of Carus House and the villains of Aureaus House were all diverse, fascinating individuals with clear and distinct personalities. In particular, the way the Carus House personalities clash and mesh, and the way they interact with each other through action and dialogue felt very natural and real. Cy, Zelia’s love interest is a  bad boy (complete with tattooes), but is also a brilliant scientist. I enjoyed watching their relationship develop from loathing to loving.

The author, Lydia Kang is a medical doctor and her expertise in the field clearly shows in her writing. Zelia and Cy’s lab work, and the discussions on DNA genetics were authentic and well laid out. Their research into their special abilities gave me a renewed appreciation of  science and genetics.

I loved the many external and internal conflicts set up in the story. There was never a dull moment for me as every scene seemed to be filled with some interesting new piece of information, or some exciting action.

The story’s fast pace and “ticking time bomb” aspect made foreshadowing a bit difficult to achieve. I wanted to see hints of Zelia’s physical strengths, or at least see how her fighting abilities developed, before her final kick-ass battle. But other than that, I enjoyed every single moment of CONTROL.

CONTROL is an exciting Sci-Fi novel filled with well-developed characters, exciting plot twist, intriguing scientific insights, ponderous moral dilemmas and incredibly high stakes.

A word of caution: make sure you are comfortable and not pressed for time before you pick up the book, because  it is incredibly difficult to stop reading CONTROL once you’ve begun.

 

 

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Tune in again on Wednesday for an interview with the awesome Lydia Kang.

 

 

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Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Sponsored by the Paley Center for Media , thePaleyfest is a two week event which allows fans to connect with the producers and cast members of their favorite television shows via a live panel.

paleyfest 2014

This year, I got to see the panel for two of my favorite shows: ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and ABC’s Marvel: Agents of Shield.

Today, I thought I’d share highlights from the Marvel Agents of Shield Panel, which happened last March 23rd, 2014.

Created for ABC by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a television series based on the Marvel Comics’ organization of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. The show ‘s timeline begins  right after THE AVENGERS movie and  follows S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson (played by Clark Gregg), after his death in the Avengers movie.  Yes, you read that right, Agent Coulson is mysteriously  brought back to life, and the show is partly about the mystery of his resurrection.

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The Dolby Theater was packed with fans of the show, some wearing full Marvel regalia. There were even little kids dressed up as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents.

kid

 

 

Executive Producer Jeph Loeb began the presentation by asking the audience not to leak any spoilers via social media or otherwise. When he was satisfied with everyone’s response, he announced, “You are now cleared to level seven.” After that, the audience was treated to the next episode, which was to air on April 1st

Exec Producer Jeph Loeb

Executive Producer Jeph Loeb to audience: “You are now cleared to Level 7.”

It was such an amazing experience to watch the episode 8 days before it would air in public—and with other people who love the show as much as I do.I enjoyed hearing the collective gasps, cheers and laughter of fellow fans.

After watching the episode, actress Felicia Day (Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) came on stage to introduce the panel she would be moderating.

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Actress/ Panel Moderator Felicia Day introduces the panel

Producers and and producers and co-creators Jeph Loeb, Jeffrey BellJed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen were joined by Agents of Shield stars  Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson), Ming-Na Wen (Agent Melinda May),  Brett Dalton (Agent Grant Ward), Chloe Bennet (Skye), Iain De Caestecker (Leo Fitz) and Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons).

panel

 

Panel Moderator Felicia Day with Producers Jeph Loeb, Jeffrey Bell, Cast members Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Ian De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, along with producers/co-creators Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen.

 

Producer Jeph Loeb teased the show’s April 8th episode –a crossover with Captain America, which was at the time, still set for release on April 4th.  Loeb mentioned that the idea for Marvel Agents of SHIELD actually came from Greg Clark himself. He and Gregg were at a fan event for the Ultimate Spider Man and Gregg kept on whispering “Coulson lives” in Loeb’s ear as an idea of a TV series.  Gregg didn’t quite remember the incident but Loeb insisted it was the truth.

producers

 

“I was really dead. It was very clear, since there was a lot of blood,” Gregg said, when asked if he really did die in the Avengers movie. He credits “Coulson” lives campaigns with bringing his character back to life. “I have 11,000 Twitter aliases, all of whom were very integral to starting the ‘Coulson Lives’ movement,”he added.

clark gregg

Producer Jeffrey Bell pointed out that Marvel Comics fans always knew that Coulson lived, at least in the world of comics, so bringing him to life via the TV series, actually followed the Marvel storyline.

Clark Gregg was in top form during the panel, even hopping off the stage twice to hug two fans. The first was a fan who was apparently very sad that Gregg’s character died in Avengers, and was ecstatic when he was resurrected for the show. The second, was to hug a fan who’d created framed artwork for all the cast members.

joss and marissa

 

 

Producer Maurissa Tancharoen said that Agent May was originally named Agent Rice. But when Ming Na Wen was cast for the role, the name was no longer appropriate. It has since become a running joke for the cast.

ming na

 

The producers also shared that the characters for Fitz and Simmons were inspired by the chemistry between Casey Affleck’s and Scott Caan’s character s in “Ocean’s Eleven.”  Fitz and Simmons were not originally written as being from the UK, but after Henstridge and De Caestecker auditioned and got the part, the change was made.

simmons

The two actors have intentionally been playing their characters more as brother and sister, but if the fans get their way, that might change in season 2. The actors joked that if that happened, it might make things kind of awkward.

fitz simmons2

 

Skye’s parentage is a big part of the Agents of Shield storyline and many fans guess that she might actually be the daughter of either Agent May or Agent Coulson. Actress Ming-Na Wen says she wants Skye to be the lovechild of Agent May and Thor. She even volunteered to endure several long flashbacks of the affair, if necessary. Clark Gregg  joked that he thought Skye should be the lovechild of Agent Coulson and Lady Sif.

skye

 

When asked who among the Avengers she’d want to work alongside, Chloe Bennet who plays Skye, responded that she was interested in working with either of the Chris’s. “Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) would be nice,” she said. The producers also brought up Chloe’s past as a teen pop singer in China. And Chloe, ever game, even showed the audience a little bit of her dance moves.

Elizabeth Henstridge (Simmons) said she’d love to do a scene with Loki. “Maybe Simmons can have tea with Loki,” she said. Gregg quickly remarked, “You know I’ve been in a scene with Loki…”

simmons2

 

Moderator Felicia Day asked Brett Dalton about Agent Ward’s reputation as a ladies’ man and his many love scenes in the show. Brett replied, “It definitely doesn’t suck.” Chloe Bennet joked that she would bring along Dalton’s abs. “Just his abs”, if she were stranded on an island. “I’d wash my clothes on them.” Producer Tancharoen quipped, “And this is why we give them dialogue.”

skye and so

 

 

Brett’s character Agent Ward had a physical relationship with May but seems to have a thing for Skye. Brett quipped that his character was no longer a lone wolf, and that he’s learned to “play with the team.”

Series co-creator Maurissa Tancharoen revealed that one thing which convinced them Brett could do stunts was his resume, where he listed that he had attended Clown School.

so

 

During the Q & A, a fan wearing a “Coulson is my Home Boy” shirt remarked that for a secret organization, the S.H.I.E.L.D. has a lot of stuff bearing its logo, including an espresso machine on the plane. Gregg joked,” Fitz can give you a latte where the foam is the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.” but later on explained that the organization itself isn’t a secret, but what they do is.

cast

 

Another fan asked if the show was set to be renewed for Season 2. The producers replied that they weren’t sure yet. The audience laughed when the fan quipped, “So who do I have to shank?”

Producer Jeffrey Bell said they hoped they would be renewed as they had long term plans for the series. They already know where Season 2 would go, and they know where they want Season 3 to end, and which character will still be alive by then.

The cast admitted that even they don’t know what’s going to happen with the storyline. The producers and writers are very secretive about their work and often times the cast would try to get hints from the writers. Ming-Na said that “The whole season has been jaw-dropping surprises. They don’t tell us anything… Marvel is SHIELD!”

love triangle

 

Chloe Bennett added that she has been trying to guess what it means for her character to be an O-84. She said she’s always doing research on the comics and calling up Marvel asking “Am I this? Or this? Or this?” , to which they always answer “Nope.” Chloe says she has many theories, but still has no idea what the real answer is.

so skye fitz

 

After the Q & A, the audience swarmed toward the stage to get autographs from their favorite stars.

signing

 

We didn’t even bother to join the crazy crowd. We were just happy to watch our favorite cast members sign autographs.

I don’t know what shows next year’s Paleyfest will feature, but after a great experience this year, I’m already looking forward to it.

 

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TWN WWW 300

 

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Teresa Powell Coltrin, blogger at journalingwoman.blogspot.com and the ruralhood.blogspot.com, and author of Grim Tales from the Ruralhood.

GrimCover for blogs

 

Welcome, Teresa!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

meworkingphoto1for NutshellAuthor Teresa Powell Coltrin

By day I’m a school based social worker, by night (mostly early morning) I write. I am the mom of a son and daughter and grandmother of four perfect human beings.

Thus far, I’m a short story writer. I’ve started a couple of novels and have a YA halfway there, but my attention span is well…. What was I talking about? Oh yeah writing.  I have loved writing since the sixth grade when I rewrote a few fairytales as skits for our fifth and sixth grades to perform for our country school.  And then I wrote IT—a love story, a play with me in the starring role. It wasn’t for production, and only my best friends were allowed to read it. I started writing again as a young adult while waiting on my first child to be born. I didn’t write fiction much after that, but did journal. After my second child was born I began writing children’s stories. During those years, I sold five stories to Today’s Farmer Magazine for their read-aloud section. Two were published before they stopped providing that section. I still love writing children’s stories and do from time to time.

I can’t think of any hidden talents—maybe they’re too hidden for me to realize. I can’t whistle or do a cartwheel. I have to say, though, that I know how to do a little of a lot of things—maybe a jack-of-all trades kind of girl, master of nothing. I play the guitar a little, sing a little, can fix a running toilet, use an electric drill and saw, sew just about anything and decorate on little money.

 

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my writing in the family room, in a comfy chair, with a laptop on my lap, but my official workspace is at a desk located in what used to be my living room. Sometimes I need NOT to be comfortable. It is then I sit upright in my chair at my desk.

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

My desk is actually the first piece of new furniture that my former husband and I bought from Sears many moons ago—early in our marriage. It is part of a dinette set—table with two chairs.

my desk

Teresa’s workspace

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work? What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

On my desk, I of course I appreciate my iPad Air, a Christmas present from my daughter. I like my lamp because it makes me happy to look at it. I bought the lamp to use on my desk when I was a secretary. A funny story. One day, a teacher friend of mine asked me if it was a Tiffany lamp. I frowned at him and said “Would I bring a Tiffany lamp to put on a desk where students and teachers are in and out?”  He said, “Yes.” This made me realize I didn’t want it broken, so I took it home and bought a brass lamp for work. BTW, I bought my “Tiffany” lamp at Wal-Mart. It’s circa 1990’s. :)

Lamp

Teresa’s Tiffany Lamp

 

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

I drink lots of water, so mostly water except in the morning when I drink coffee—LOTS of coffee.

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

I read a little of everything, but in recent years, I read less than I’ve ever read because I write more. My dad inspired me to write. He’s written stories for years and read some of them to his children when we were growing up. He’s a self-published author, a woodcarver and artist of many paintings.  I used to read Stephen King a lot, but not so much now. Lately, I’ve enjoyed some wacky writing by Aimee Bender and also writing by Jo Ann Beard.  But my favorite discovery of late is T.C. Boyle. I’m also inspired by the funny writings of the late Erma Bombeck. I love funny.

 

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

My typical day is to get out of bed (goal is 5 -5:30 a.m.) with eyes closed, make coffee, open at least one eye to reread a paragraph or two of what I was writing previously and then write. At 7 a.m. I get ready for my money making job.

 

3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I do try to write every day, even if it’s not for a long span of time, because I truly enjoy writing. The biggest curse and sometimes blessing is the distraction of the Internet. It’s a time waster, but also a quick way of retrieving information when I need it.

 

4. Why do you write?

If I didn’t write, I would have a traffic jam of gargantuan proportion with ideas and characters pushing and shoving to get out of my brain. However, I often think about a story I’ve written and/or the characters long after I’ve finished writing it.

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

Nope. I’m still learning. Well, maybe I do. First of all, hook up with wonderful writers by following them on their blogs. You’ll learn so much this way and never regret the comradery. Also, if you like writing don’t stop just because you haven’t been published; writing is good for your soul.

 

 

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Teresa Powell Coltrin, also writing as T. Powell Coltrin, is an aspiring writer of short stories. She enjoys writing in various genres:  mystery, thriller, comedy, fantasy and at times a bit of bizarre, with an occasional children’s story thrown in there. A few of her children’s read aloud stories appeared in Today’s Farmer Magazine in past years.  Her self-published EBook anthology (the result of an A-Z April Blogging Challenge) will be available in April. Grim Tales from the Ruralhood is a compilation of twenty-six short stories inspired by a Brothers Grimm title and set in a rural setting. Currently, Teresa is writing on a YA novel, with the working title of Twice in a Blue Moon and another short story compilation with a working title of Body Bags.

T. Powell Coltrin can be also be found writing on her blogs Journaling Woman, where she writes whatever is on her mind plus a Sunday inspirational post, and at The Ruralhood, where she journals and posts photos of growing up as a rural child and beyond.

To purchase a copy of Grim Tales from the Ruralhood go here

Journaling Woman

The Ruralhood

 

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Teresa!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

 

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Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

Sponsored by the Paley Center for Media , thePaleyfest is a two week event which allows fans to connect with the producers and cast members of their favorite television shows via a live panel.

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This year, I got to see the panel for two of my favorite shows: ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and ABC’s Marvel: Agents of Shield.

Today, I thought I’d share highlights from the Pretty Little Liars Paleyfest Panel.

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Based on the series by Sara Shepard, Pretty Little Liars is a mystery-thriller set in the fictional town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania. It follows the lives of Spencer, Aria, Hanna and Emily, four teens whose lives are thrown completely off balance when their queen bee, Alison disappears. One year after Alison’s disappearance, her four friends begin receiving messages from a mysterious stranger called “A”, who threatens to reveal all their secrets.

pretty litte liars poster

My writer friend Jenn got me hooked on Pretty Little Liars a couple of years ago. She said it was the perfect thing to watch if I wanted to learn more about the YA (young adult) culture/lingo for my YA books. So this past March 16th, Jenn and I attended the Paleyfest for Pretty Little Liars.

The Dolby Theater was packed with people, most of them were teenage girls who are the shows’ biggest fanbase.

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At the Paleyfest, they usually treat the audience to an advanced screening of the next episode. But since the Pretty Little Liars season finale was the following week, we didn’t get to watch the episode. Instead, they treated us to an old clip featuring a teenage Chad Lowe (one of the actors on PLL), and an hour and a half long panel with the cast and producers of the show.

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Executive producers Marlene King, Joe Dougherty and Oliver Goldstick, were present for the panel, along with stars Troian Bellisario (Spencer); Ashley Benson (Hanna); Lucy Hale (Aria); Shay Mitchell (Emily); Sasha Pieterse (Ali); Ian Harding (Ezra); Janel Parrish (Mona) and Keegan Allen (Toby).

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Troian Bellisario (Spencer); Ashley Benson (Hanna); Lucy Hale (Aria); Shay Mitchell (Emily); Sasha Pieterse (Ali); Ian Harding (Ezra)

It was amazing to see the cast live and to watch them interact and talk about their characters. They revealed key plot points in the season finale (which aired March 18th), and dropped hints about the upcoming 5th season. It was fun to see the cast as real people, bantering with each other and revealing what they thought about their work. At one point, Troian Bellisario challenged Ian Harding to show off his sound effects skills. Actor Ian Harding provided the sound effects as Troian Bellisario pretended to shoot him with an arrow.

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Ian Harding (Ezra) provides the sound effects as Troian Bellisario (Spencer) pretends to shoot him with an arrow.

We learned that many of the cast were musically talented and would often have impromptu jamming sessions. Three of the show’s  stars can actually dance and sing. Lucy Hale, who starred in Disney’s Another Cinderella Story, actually released a country album. Janelle Parrish, who plays Mona, has Broadway background, and Keegan Allen who plays Toby sings and plays guitar.

 The producers actually thought about doing a musical episode to highlight the stars’ talents, and the cast even joked about having a Broadway version as well.

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Fans also asked about a movie version and Executive Producer Marlene King said that they would love to make a movie when the show ends.

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After the two hour presentation, fans rushed to the stage to get their favorite stars to sign posters and what not.

signing

Jenn and i didn’t even bother to try and get through the crowd, for fear of being trampled. But we did enjoy the show and left with some  fond memories of our favorite show.

 

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Last March 12, 2014, I was one of the lucky panelists included in SCBWI-L.A.’s Westside Schmooze on Blogging.

Westside Schmooze Coordinators Karol Silverstein and Charlie Cohen challenged us with the following questions:

Some of us blog, some of us don’t.  And some of us do it way too much!  Is blogging a good way for writers to practice meeting deadlines and build an audience?  Or just an excuse to avoid facing the emptiness in their lives? Are Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites great for getting your brand out there and keeping up on what your fellow writers are up to?  Or merely tools for self-flagellation and envy?  (I guess the answer depends on whether you’re Karol or Charlie.)

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Westside Schmooze Coordinators Karol Silverstein and Charlie Cohen flanking Author Allen Zadoff

I joined  SCBWI members and bloggers Lee Wind of I’m Here, I’m Queer.  What the Hell Do I Read? , and Susan Berger, Kris Kahrs, and Lupe Fernandez (via phone) of the Pen and Ink Blog at the Santa Monica Library.

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Lee Wind, I’m Here, I’m Queer.  What the Hell Do I Read?

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Susan Berger,the Pen and Ink Blog

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Kris Kahrs,the Pen and Ink Blog

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Lupe Fernandez, the Pen and Ink Blog

Since Social Media gurus Greg Pincus http://www.thehappyaccident.net/about/ and Laura Wallis http://www.webnavigatorgal.com/ couldn’t join us, they sent a rather fun puppet proxy, along with the answers to some of Karol and Charlie’s questions.

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Greg Pincus                                                                                                     Laura Wallis

 

Schmooze Coordinators Charlie and Karol facilitated the panel in which we  tackled three main points:

A)  What makes a good blog/what can blogging do for me?

B)  How do I make a blog and get people to go to it?

C)  What are the relative merits of Blogging, Twitter and all the other social media venues?

 

A)  What makes a good blog/what can blogging do for me?

Most of us agreed that good blogs are either entertaining or informative. And while blogging can be a good way to build our author platforms, it isn’t for everyone.

Lee warned that blogging takes up an enormous amount of time and that any writer who is thinking about blogging, must really consider how it can help his/her career.

Susan, Kris and Lupe share a blog with Hilde Garcia, which they call The Pen and Ink Blog. Having four of them on the blog team lessens the amount of time they each spend on the blog, which helps in terms of their writing.

I mentioned that part of blogging isn’t only writing the posts, but also visiting other blogs and making connections with other writers.

We all agreed that the benefits of blogging include making connections with other writers, building a possible following for your future books, and giving us time to hone and practice our writing skills. Lee also added that having a blog and following a stable schedule will help us appear more professional in terms of our writing careers.

 

B)  How do I make a blog and get people to go to it?

While the other panelists used blogspot or blogger for their blogs. I opted for WordPress since I love its flexibility. I can add widgets to the side bar ,  manipulate the design and post blogs easily enough.

I also mentioned that one way to meet bloggy buddies and get traffic to your blog is by joining blogging challenges such as the A-Z Blogging Challenge, which is currently ongoing.

 

C)  What are the relative merits of Blogging, Twitter and all the other social media venues?

Lee Wind said that having a blog actually opened doors for him. On his blog he reviews LGBT books and tackles LGBT issues. The blog has allowed him to be viewed as a professional in the area and has led him to be invited as a speaker for several schools.

Susan, Kris and Lupe mentioned that one of the perks of having a blog is that they are able to connect with and interview their favorite authors.

Greg, via his proxy puppet aka. Charlie, also mentioned that social media allows users to reach a wider audience for promoting their work. His blog actually helped his poetry collection get noticed by the New York Times.

 

We discussed all of these things and more in our hour and a half blogging panel. It was such a fun experience being among fellow SCBWI members and bloggers! I can’t wait to relive the experience and Schmooze Coordinators Charlie and Karol publish the blogging panel transcript on their Schmooze Blog!

 

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TWN WWW 300

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Patricia Fry, author of the Klepto-Cat Mysteries.

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Welcome, Patricia !

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

Patricia Fry and Lily

Author Patricia Fry and Lily

I’ve been writing for publication for over forty years, having started out writing articles for magazines. My articles have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Publishing Basics, The Artist’s Magazine, The World and I, Woman’s World, Entrepreneur, Los Angeles Times, Your Health and many, many others. My first “office” was a corner in my bedroom, where I worked on a manual typewriter atop a TV tray.

My first book (Hints for the Backyard Rider) was picked up by a publisher in 1978 and five years later, I established my own publishing company (Matilija Press) through which I produced numbers of books on a variety of topics from grandparenting, youth mentoring and how to present a Hawaiian luau on the mainland to a fun book of true cat stories. Currently, I have 43 books to my credit, most of them for authors on subjects such as publishing, book promotion and writing a book proposal. My most recent 3 books for authors are Publish Your Book, Promote Your Book and Talk Up Your Book (Allworth Press, 2011 and 2012). http://www.matilijapress.com Also available at Amazon.com in print, audio and Kindle.

About fifteen years ago, I began working with other authors on their book projects and continue to enjoy editing both fiction and nonfiction works for clients.

I’ve been involved with SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) since its inception in 1996. I’m currently executive director of this online networking organization.  Representing SPAWN as well as my own literary business and books, I travel throughout the US and speak at writers conferences and writers group meetings about publishing and book promotion.

Aside from writing—which I do in some form all day most days—I enjoy photography, family (we are 5 generations rich), our cats, Max, Sophie and Lily and taking long walks (I’m blessed to live in California where I can walk every day).

As for a hidden talent; throughout all of these years, I wrote nonfiction. That’s all I wrote—all I wanted to write. In recent years, however, I’ve been called upon to edit many fiction manuscripts and found that I enjoy it immensely. In 2012, as a birthday gift to myself, I decided to try writing a novel. That’s when the Klepto Cat Mystery series was created. Now I am absolutely in love with writing fiction. I currently have four cozy mysteries: Catnapped, Cat-Eye Witness, Sleight of Paw and Undercover Cat. They are all available for Kindle. The first two are in print with more to follow. Watch for The Colony Cat Caper to debut this summer as a Kindle book. http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I write physically at my computer in my office most of the time. But what writer doesn’t also write in his/her mind throughout the day—while walking, taking a drive, playing with the grandkids, gardening, etc.?

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Workspace

2. What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

My cats. Lily (5) is in my lap as we speak and Max (15) is impersonating a paperweight on my desktop. The cats are also sometimes my worst writing distractions.

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Lily helping herself to a glass of my water

I’m a great proponent of authors and freelance writers surrounding themselves with items that represent their accomplishments and worth—things that make them feel good about themselves. We have enough rejection in this career. I believe it’s important to offset that by wrapping ourselves in love and a sense of worth.

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One of my kitties, keeping my chair warm for me

On my walls, I have pictures of myself swimming with stingrays, speaking before an audience and modeling with my grown granddaughter when I was in my 60s. I’m also surrounded by copies of some of my book covers, my photography (including an award winning shot of a cat) and lots of family pictures, including one grandson flying his own plane and a great-grandson bringing me flowers on May Day.

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My favorite office equipment:my filing cabinet

 

On Writing

1: Do I have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

I head for my office as soon as I get up—between 3:30 and 5:00 a.m. The one thing I must do before starting my writing day is to feed the cats or I won’t get any work done. I write until around 8 when I stop to straighten up the house and have breakfast (usually oatmeal with blueberries and nuts). I work for another hour or so before taking my walk. My next break is around noon, when I run errands (ship books, pick up my business mail, etc.) and then I work until around four when Judge Judy comes on. I also take a day or so off every week to spend time with my 92-year-old mom.

I blog almost daily at http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog and occasionally at http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades I have a facebook page: KleptoCatMysteries. And a Twitter account.

 

2.  Why do I write?

I tell people it’s because I can’t not write. It’s evidently in my DNA. I’m an addict.

 

3. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us? 

My advice for writers is, if you are making excuses for why you can’t write, you don’t want it badly enough. Of course, there are periods in our lives when it may be impossible to spend time doing what we truly want to do—we’re caring for an infant, an elderly family member or working long hours at a regular job. But in most cases, if the desire is strong enough, the individual can and will find a way to do what he wants. Sure sacrifice is necessary. Anytime something is getting in the way of what we truly want, we must sacrifice something—TV-watching, clubbing, volunteering, etc. Here’s my story of sacrifice:

There came a time in my life when I had to go to work—get a real job. I was despondent. I so missed my writing life and being at home. When it occurred to me that a full-time job may be in my future for the long-haul, I realized that I had to find a way to write no matter what else was going on in my life. And this is a very important point. If you want something badly enough, you must find a way to pursue it no matter what else is going on in your life.

So I started getting up at four in the morning. I’d write for two hours, then take my walk and get ready for work. I also wrote on weekends. After eight months on this schedule, I had built my freelance writing business up to the point where I could quit my job. I’ve supported myself through my writing and editing work ever since.

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Smokey is my mother’s cat–the model for the main cat character in my Klepto Cat Mystery series.

Here he is with book two–Cat-Eye Witness

I also have some advice for authors: Study the publishing industry before ever getting involved. Publishing is a fiercely competitive business that requires a business sense. Bring your emotions into the business and you’ll most likely fail. In other words, make solid decisions based on knowledge of the industry rather than your heart-strings. Educate yourself about the industry, your options and your responsibility as a published author before ever writing that book. I’ve written over a dozen books, hundreds of articles and thousands of blog posts for authors. I’ve conducted workshops and presentations at conferences and for groups in dozens of cities throughout the US and I’ve worked with around a hundred authors and I can tell you there are no shortcuts to publishing success. Success as a published author is certainly attainable, but it takes more than a desire to write or even a good book. I suggest to authors that they consider themselves the CEO of their books from the very beginning so that they are more apt to make executive decisions rather than emotional ones.

Sure you can bring passion into the equation. We want/need to feel passionate about what we do or we may not be motivated to carry on. The emotions you want to keep at bay are those that tend to sabotage your success—those that may cause you to go blindly into a bad publishing contract or produce a book before it is actually ready for publication.

Good luck to all.

 

Patricia Fry’s contact info

PLFry620@yahoo.com

http://www.matilijapress.com

http://www.patriciafry.com

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Patricia!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

 

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