Friday, November 20, 2009

Check out the cover of True Vision


Holy crap, is my publisher (Berkley) good to me or what?!? At left is the cover of the first book in my paranormal/romantic suspense trilogy, which I'm calling a Truelogy. True Vision hits in June 2010, followed by True Colors and True Calling.

When I first saw the cover for True Vision, I thought, "Gee, the hero looks awfully young." But then a good friend pointed out that he reminds her of Tom Welling of Smallville. Nuff said!

You might notice, too, that True Vision's cover looks similar to the just-as-awesome cover of Cold Midnight (out now). I'm psyched that my book covers already have a theme. (Oh, and the cover of True Vision is the first that shows my name above the book title. It's the little things that make my heart go pitty-pat.)

To read excerpts of True Vision and Cold Midnight, visit JoyceWrites.com


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where the hell have I been?

Well, first there was Witness Protection. But the bad guys found me. Luckily, I had my lipstick/pump-action shotgun to save me. And then I had that Butch and Sundance moment where I jumped off a cliff with a friend. But it was a small cliff ... a curb, really. And, OK, OK, I wasn't with a friend. I was in a car, with Thelma and Louise, and we were looking for a super-hot hitch hiker ...

OK, I'm making all that up. As if you couldn't tell. The truth: I've been lazy. Not lazy lazy. As in "in general." I've been lazy about the blogging and tweeting and such, but I've actually been quite productive writing. I have a fast-approaching December deadline, when the third book in my Truelogy, True Calling, is due to my editor -- and time is running short, as you can tell by that ringing alarm clock to the right. (For more info about the Truelogy, check out my website, JoyceWrites.com.)

What a fast-approaching book deadline means to me: No tweeting, no blogging, no Facebooking, not much sleeping, lots of peanuts and M&Ms. My butt is growing along with my book but luckily not at the same rate (cuz the book is growing fast). 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What I'm watching

After accumulating 10 episodes of the TV show Lie to Me on my DVR, I finally started watching. The premise, the acting and the writing instantly hooked me. I wish I'd paid attention to this well-written show sooner, but at the same time, I'm excited that I have eight more episodes to look forward to, and then the new season will begin. Suddenly, the void left by the season finale of The Closer several weeks ago has been filled.

The premise: Dr. Lightman, played by Tim Roth, can spot a liar at 10 paces. Well, maybe not 10 paces. But by closely watching a person's face as he or she speaks, Lightman can tell if he or she is lying. At times, his observations seem a bit of a stretch, but this is a drama, after all. And there are way too few of those on the schedule now that Jay Leno is hogging NBC's lineup at 10 p.m. every night of the week. But I digress. Sometimes, Lightman seems a little slow--I knew right away that an older professional woman grieving her daughter's death wasn't emoting properly because of Botox. All you had to do was look at her forehead. It wasn't moving! But, still, I like the twists ... as well as the fact that the episodes I've seen so far have subplots that make good use of the secondary characters, one of whom is played by Kelli Williams. I enjoyed her as Lindsay on The Practice, so it's nice to see her back. Where's Bobby? (Yes, I know he's on Dark Blue on TNT. Haven't checked that out yet.)

So, anyway. Long story long: I have a new TV show to watch that is sure to inspire the writer in me as much as The Closer and the shows I miss so much, such as Buffy, Angel, Six Feet Under, The X-Files (in the early days), NYPD Blue, Farscape and Battlestar Galactica. Of course, now that Leno's parked on NBC, I know I won't be finding any new inspiration there. Not that I'm bitter. Disappointed, though? Definitely.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What to do, what to do

November, also known as National Novel Writing Month, is fast approaching. That means I'm waffling daily on whether to participate.

In case you've never heard of NaNoWriMo: In November every year, writers around the world risk their sanity by committing to write a 50,000-word first draft of a novel in 30 days (that's 1,667 words a day). I've participated three times in NaNoWriMo. Twice I prevailed (that's my winner's certificate for 2006 up there) -- with novels that may some day be published. Once I've done substantial (substantial) work on them, of course.

The beauties of NaNoWriMo
1) Your muse is forced to stay front and center all month. There's no going back and futzing (Joyce-speak for editing). For some writers, this is critical for moving forward. NaNoWriMo gives you permission to let the previous chapter suck while you move on to the next sucky chapter.

2) Anything goes. Aliens can land during the sagging middle of your version of the Alamo, and no one is allowed to say, "That would never happen." It's your novel, damn it. Of course it can happen.

3) It's a wonderful bonding experience with other writers. By the middle of the month (the real-life version of the sagging middle), everyone's in the same boat: bleary-eyed and in need of a shower. And the boat is sinking. It's like living in the college dorm again (with slightly less drinking), where everyone has the same stress and gets exactly what you're going through. Who knew 1,667 words a day would be so frakkin' hard one minute and so incredibly exhilarating the next?

4) When you're done, assuming you're not wearing one of those super-long-sleeved jackets you can't get out of without help, you can say, "I wrote a novel." No one has to know about the aliens at the Alamo. Or the guy who took down a dragon with a martini olive. (I already mentioned the drinking, right?)

There are other NaNoWriMo bennies, but those are the ones that appeal the most to me. One of the rules is that you write a complete novel starting on Nov. 1 -- in other words, you don't pick up something you've already been working on. I'm considering doing my own version of NaNoWriMo to finish a first draft of my current work in progress. That would give me December to whip the WIP into shape in time for its deadline. Not sure if this would even be feasible, but it might be worth a try.

For more information on NaNoWriMo: www.nanowrimo.org

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why critique partners rock

I will never be able to say enough about how much critique partners rock. You can never have too many, though some would invoke the "too many cooks" adage. I'd agree with that if they're the wrong cooks. But I'm a firm believer in "the more opinions, the merrier." Of course, you have to be able to focus on what works for you and what doesn't. Helps when your CPs are on board with that. :)

That said, I've been lucky enough to snag the perfect critique partners. Not only does my group, which meets face to face somewhat regularly about once a month, help me tremendously, but I have some online critiquers as well. Here's an example of how my online critiquers helped me strengthen the start of my WIP (called True Calling, the third in an upcoming paranormal trilogy from Berkley Sensation). Mind you, they kind of contradicted each other about the opening lines, but I managed to combine their suggestions for a stronger start. The changes are subtle, but I think they make a difference in both the emotion and the action.

BEFORE:
Zoe was dead.
Dead.
Samantha Trudeau battled back the wave of grief and forced herself forward, one foot after the other. Don’t think, don’t think.
But she couldn’t help but think.
Zoe was dead. Her closest friend.
And Sam would be dead, too, if she didn’t focus.
Blinking cold rain from her eyes, she squinted into the growing dusk, trying to get oriented. The cabin was around here somewhere. She was sure of it.
Unless she’d become so disoriented that she’d gotten herself lost.
No. She wasn’t lost. She knew where she was going.
Just like you knew where you were going when you ran away from home ten years ago?
She closed her eyes, gritted her teeth against the throb of pain in her shoulder.  
Focus, damn it. It’s what you’re good at. What you’re trained to do.
Soldier on. Accomplish the mission. Get to the cabin. Hunker down. Hide. Get warm. God, she couldn’t wait to get warm.
Opening her eyes, she blinked away the rain running in rivulets over her forehead and into her eyes. She couldn’t see a damn thing. Just towering trees decorated in gold and red and orange. The same red and gold and orange squished under the soles of her Nikes, her feet cold and wet, like the rest of her. At least she still shivered, the body’s way of creating its own warmth. But, crap, she’d been shivering for so long and so hard that she should have generated enough heat to warm a small house. If she didn’t find the damn cabin soon, she was toast. And not the warm, golden brown kind.
Hell, she was probably toast anyway. No way were they going to let her go. They’d hunt her down like an animal. Shoot her down like they’d shot down Zoe—
Don’t go there. Don’t go there.
Then she saw it. The Trudeau family cabin. Materializing out of a copse of gold and orange trees. An honest-to-God log cabin.

AFTER:
Zoe was dead.
Dead.
Samantha Trudeau closed her eyes and gritted her teeth against the throb of pain in her shoulder.  
Focus, damn it. It’s what you’re good at. What you’re trained to do.
Soldier on. Accomplish the mission. Get to the cabin. Hunker down. Hide. Get warm. God, she couldn’t wait to get warm.
Blinking cold rain from her eyes, she squinted into the growing dusk, trying to get oriented. The cabin was around here somewhere. She was sure of it.
Unless she’d gotten herself lost.
No. She wasn’t lost. She knew where she was going.
Just like you knew where you were going when you ran away from home ten years ago?
Don’t think. Focus.
She peered through the rain running in rivulets over her forehead and into her eyes. She couldn’t see a damn thing. Just towering trees decorated in gold and orange and red. The same coppery red that spattered her Nikes and the leaves squishing underfoot. Her feet were cold and wet, just like the rest of her. At least she still shivered, the body’s way of creating its own warmth. But, crap, she’d been shivering for so long and so hard that she should have generated enough heat to warm a small house. If she didn’t find the cabin soon, she was toast. And not the warm, golden brown kind.
Hell, she was probably toast anyway. No way were they going to let her go. They’d hunt her down like an animal. Shoot her down like they’d shot down Zoe—
She battled back the wave of grief that tried to steal her breath and forced herself forward, one foot after the other. 
Don’t think, don’t think.
But she couldn’t help but think.
Zoe was dead. Her closest friend.
Don’t go there. Don’t go there.
Then she saw it. The Trudeau family cabin. Materializing out of a copse of gold and orange trees. An honest-to-God log cabin.

Thanks, CPs!!! :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Meet Kate Brady

I've started a new feature on my Web site in which I ask a fellow author some goofy questions. September's featured author is Kate Brady, author of One Scream Away, which I finished reading last week and enjoyed very much (my God, the ending!). Anyway, here's a little taste of what you'll learn about Ms. Brady at www.joycewrites.com:

I asked: If you could have a superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?
Kate (that's her at left) responded: "I’d be Domestic-Goddess-Scrub-Woman:  Able to clean a house top-to-bottom with the snap of a finger, blink of an eye, twitch of a nose… Or able to control a bunch of woodland creatures who could come in and sweep and mop and sew, preparing meals and cleaning the kitchen afterwards while humming lilting tunes to the descant of whistling birds…
"I’d be Adolescent-Mind-Reader-and-Teenage-Child-Tamer:  Able to know with a single glance whether a teenage girl is about to lavish me with love or strike out with inexplicable fury, and whether a teenage boy is lying about how much homework he has…
"I’d be Shapely-Dessert-Eating-Porsche-Driver:  Able to achieve the body of Jennifer Garner while eating chocolate mousse without ever going to the gym, and always looking great behind the wheel of that Porsche…"

And there's more. Much more. I also asked Kate: If you were a car, what kind would you be and why? (She waffles on that one.) What's your favorite way to procrastinate? And other burning questions. To see what she had to say, plus get a glimpse of what makes One Scream Away so special, visit www.joycewrites.com.

So ... what superpower would you have? I'd be invisible so I could listen in on what other people are saying about me. I'm not insecure. Nope. Not in the least. Nuh uh.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I can tell it's time ...

You know that antsy feeling you get when a big storm is coming? You're kinda jittery and anxious but also looking forward to it just a tiny bit? That's how I feel right before I'm ready to buckle down and tackle the next book. There are other signs:
1) Cleaning frenzy: Even the ceiling fan has been cleaned. Isn't it shocking how much crap collects on the blades? I can't help but worry about breathing in all that cat hair and dust. They need to make Swiffers for your lungs. 
2) Organizing frenzy: My desk is clean. Receipts filed away. Books shelved. Even the stray paper clips have found their way into the little silver bowl that represents my five years (six years ago) at USA Today. (I knew it'd be good for something!)
3) I've started zoning out: I had at least one conversation at work tonight that I checked out of and then checked back in to find my co-worker looking at me as if it was my turn to respond. I had nothing, except for a way for my bad guys to track down my on-the-run good guys. A very productive zone-out.
4) I've been seeking out favorite TV episodes that inspire me: The ep where Buffy sends Angel to hell. The ep where Crichton dies in Aeryn's arms. The ep where the dorky guy almost seduces Scully while impersonating Mulder. The ep where O'Neill and Carter end up on opposite sides of a force field. Ah, romance.
5) I'm not chatty: Maybe this goes with zoning out, but trying to have a conversation with me right now could be an exercise in futilty. My brain's working some stuff out. Check back later, please.
 
Put all this together, and it can mean only one thing: It's time to write. Lucky for me, the story I'm diving into now is one I've been looking forward to writing for almost two years. Let the fun begin!

(Fun logo designed for my Web site several years ago by great friend and great artist Chris Clay.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What I'm listening to

I'm a HUGE fan of audio books (thank you, Audible.com!). Especially when I'm in my car. I actually feel like I'm being productive if I listen to a book while I'm on the road. That focus on a story also probably spares me from the inevitable road-ragey thoughts.

On my drive back from vacation in Illinois earlier this month, I listened to the audio book of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. So good! And that was a loooooooong drive -- 14 hours, thanks to traffic in Chicago, a backup on the Ohio turnpike and road construction in Pennsylvania. Luckily, I had Katniss and Peeta to keep my brain thoroughly entertained as they competed in a Survivor-like reality show. Instead of getting voted off the island, though, losers are just plain offed.

I thought the ending was a bit abrupt at first, until I realized The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy. I can deal with that! Catching Fire will be released on Sept. 1. You can bet that when the audio book is ready, I'll be listening.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fan mail rocks!

One of the joys of being a published author is opening your e-mail to discover a reader has sent you some love.

Excerpts from some of my recent fan e-mails:

"I read Cold Midnight and enjoyed it very much. So much that I have been looking for your other books."

"Cold Midnight was fantastic! ... You created a storyline that was interesting with plenty of red herrings and likable characters.  The relationship between Kylie and Chase was fantastic. ... The cast of characters as a whole made the entire story engaging."

"Thank you for the hours of great reading."

"Just had to let you know how much I enjoyed Cold Midnight. I am an avid reader and have a gazillion books, this is one of the very best I have ever read."

"I just finished your book Cold Midnight. It was GREAT!!!"

"Just finshed Cold Midnight, it was the best I have read in a long time."

Thanks, readers! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What I'm reading

Before I went on "vacation" (a loose term, cuz I was doing some book promo, though I did go out of town and I did take time off work and I did have a fabulous time with lots of friends and family), I started reading One Scream Away by Kate Brady. As soon as I started it, I knew I had no choice but to set it aside. I didn't have the time I needed to read a can't-put-it-down-even-to-go-pee book. So the plan was to read it on "vacation."

Well, as it turns out, I didn't have time then, either. I was exhausted by the time I went to bed each night (and, well, let's be honest here: often a tiny bit drunk) and knew better than to pick up a book that would keep me  reading until the wee hours (or the wee-wee hours, if you know what I mean).

That brings us to now. I'm reading it, wee hours be damned. And it's rockin'! Kate, I want to write like you.

Cheers!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Howdy!

I'm planning to yak here about whatever happens to be on my mind. Could be something about writing, could be something about ... writing.

Hey, be sure to check out my other blog: Save the Copy Editor, Save the World. That one gets updated weekly (mostly). It's a serial mystery about newspaper copy editors trying to find kidnapped reporters while gabbing about grammar and punctuation. Yes, we really do do that. :) And it might be more fun than it sounds. It's at www.joycewrites.com. If you make a comment, you could win a signed book! (Written by me, of course.)

Speaking of books, maybe you'd want to check out the excerpt on my latest romantic suspense novel, Cold Midnight, after checking out Save the Copy Editor, Save the World. (I'll wait. You kinda have a lot to do at the moment.)

Back already? OK, that's it for the shameless self-promotion (for now). Anything you want to talk about?