Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It Just Didn't 'Happen'...

Happy happy and merry merry!

Hope y'all are having a restful holiday. I am -- and it included laundry, dishes and pirates. Really, pirates.

Ever wonder what made me want to write about serial killers and dead hookers and betrayals and hot detectives?


Well, check out the interview I did with Hydra Publications!

One question was: Have you ever hated something you wrote?

My response: I hate everything I write… until I read it later and realize, ‘Wow, that [scene, line, plot shift] was clever. Who wrote that? How can I do it again?’ It’s difficult for me to read my stories because the internal editor is always at her desk, tsking at something bad I’ve done.

To read the rest, pop on over to Hydra Publications. If you have a question that I didn't answer, leave a comment and I promise to get you the answer!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Five Books that Influenced Me Most
by Chicki Brown

Thanks for inviting me to share with your readers, Rachel. If there’s one thing I love to talk about, it’s books. So when you asked me to talk about five books that have influenced me, I got all geeked!

Fifteen Beverly Cleary
I must have been in the sixth or seventh grade when I read this book, my very first romance. I copied this description from because it explains why a 13-year-old would love it:

“It seems too good to be true. The most popular boy in school has asked Jane out -- and she's never even dated before. Stan is tall and good-looking, friendly and hardworking -- everything Jane ever dreamed of. But is she ready for this?

Suppose her parents won't let her go? What if she's nervous and makes a fool of herself? Maybe he'll think she's too young. If only she knew all the clever things to say. If only she were prettier. If only she were ready for this...”

Need I say more?

Left Behind Series – Jerry Jenkins & Tim LaHaye
Once I read the first book in this series, it put a chillingly realistic spin on what I already believed from the Bible. The events in the books come directly from biblical accounts but are embellished for fiction’s sake. This series is a wonderful yet terrifying modern account of Christian beliefs on the end times.

Milk in My Coffee
Eric Jerome Dickey
I had never read a romance written by a man before, and this contemporary interracial story made me a sold-out fan of Mr. Dickey’s work. The fact that it was written in first person with two points of view intrigued me and was partially responsible for my decision to write a few of my own novels in first person.

Topaz Beverly Jenkins
Historical novels had never interested me on bit until a friend at Georgia Romance Writers insisted I read one of Ms. Jenkins’ black historical romances. In addition to writing emotional, sexy accounts, her attention to detail and research into actual African-American history, have made me a fan for life. The fact that Ms. Jenkins puts her research at the end of each book is just the icing on the cake.

Dark Lover
J. R. Ward
Until three years ago, I also had never read a paranormal romance. This is why Dark Lover was special and unique to me. I grew up watching Bela Lugosi’s Dracula on Creature Features as a kid, so vampires have always given me the creeps. But not the grown, sexy, urban males of Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Once I read this first book, she had me by the throat (pun intended). Every book in this fabulous series is sitting on my keeper shelf.

Rachel says: Thanks for your list, Chicki! Beverly Cleary continues to be a favorite of mine -- I still have Ramona the Brave, the one I bought back in 1979 at the Scholastic Book Fair in my school's library. When she is old enough to fully appreciate it, I will gift it to my daughter.

Be on the look-out for Chicki's new releases on January 2. Until then, you can visit her at a few places:
Personal Blog:

What's on your list?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

25 Things Every Writer Should Know

Writers are usually smart people. The best of us read. And we read a lot. I mean, reading novels, matchboxes, the sides of buses... run away quickly if you meet a writer who doesn't read. There is no truth in him/her! Anyhoo...

Although we tend to be know-it-alls, we do not know it all. Gasp! And don't tell my husband I just wrote that because our sixteen-year relationship is built upon me knowing it all. But I don't, especially about my craft.

And I'm sure you don't. Don't be offended. You don't. And because we are all in this together, I'd like to share a post from a blog titled Terrible Minds that speaks gospel: 25 Things Every Writer Should Know.

My favorite is Number 13:

Cultivate Calluses

Put differently, harden the fuck up, soldier. (And beard the fuck on, while we’re at it.) The writing life is a tough one. Edits can be hard to get. Rejections, even worse. Not everybody respects what you do. Hell, a lot of people don’t even care. Build up that layer of blubber. Form a mighty exoskeleton. Expect to be pelted in the face with metaphorical (er, hopefully metaphorical) ice-balls. It’s a gauntlet. Still gotta walk it, though.

Are there other rules that you've discovered that aren't on this list?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Need Reviews for Your New Book?

I've used this fabulous website to find potential reviewers for The View from Here and No One Knows You're Here.

As a special holiday gift pour vous, I thought I'd share it with you.

Boom! You're welcome!

Oh, yeah. Buy my books. Did you know you can now gift books on Nook? Yes, you can.

And happy holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Definition of Love « Thought Catalog

So, I stumbled upon StumbleUpon. I know, tardy to the party.

And I stumbled upon this incredible piece about what love is.

The Definition of Love « Thought Catalog

Sometimes, it's hard to show 'love' and not 'tell' love when creating a character. This helps getting 'unstuck.'

One of the best pieces about 'love' I've ever read.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Black Kindle - - - African American Books on the Kindle: 99 Cents Baby!!! Its only 99 Cents

Interested in African-American Kindle reads that don't cost much? Please check out this blog I discovered while being Dr. Google this morning...

Black Kindle - - - African American Books on the Kindle: 99 Cents Baby!!! Its only 99 Cents: NUMBER 101  I know I’m behind.  I got so much to do and it ain’t shopping for Christmas.  My list is short, very short, my kid.  I have an i...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

If You Like Mysteries, Boy, Do I Have a Site For You!

So not only do the good people over at Kindle Mystery Authors feature novelists that write mysteries, my favorite genre of ALL TIME, they are featuring me and No One Knows You're Here RIGHT NOW.

Please visit. Discover new writers. Discover great books. You'll be happy that you did!
Five Books that Influenced Me
by Joel Arnold

In a way, every book I’ve ever read has had some influence on me – at least on a subconscious level. Even a poorly written book, one that barely engages the cerebral cortex (or the ‘little grey cells’ as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot often says) at the very least makes you realize, “I can do better than that!”

So here is my list.

A House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs
Not only did this children’s novel introduce me to horror literature, it also introduced me to artist Edward Gorey, whose illustrations were the perfect compliment to the novel.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
I read this in the third or fourth grade and remember how completely immersed I was in this story of Billy and his two dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann. It’s about struggle, survival, love, grief and acceptance – a lot of tough concepts for a kid, but the story is unforgettable. I hope I can write something half this powerful some day.

The Shining by Stephen King
Not only did this novel introduce me to Stephen King, it also taught me a lot about writing – about pacing and the rhythm of words and sentences. It also cemented my love for all things that go bump in the night.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Of all the books on writing I’ve read, I feel this one is the best for those beginning on their writing journey. It’s not so much about the writing craft as it is about freeing your mind up and letting the words flow, which is an important concept for those writers starting out, and is a great wake-up call for writers experiencing writers’ block.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
I’m not even a fan of western novels, but this is probably one of my top three favorite novels of all time. The scope of this story is breathtaking and so well written and crafted, the characters so vivid and brilliant, I’m still in awe at this literary accomplishment. Its influence on me is simply that I wish to be able to write something as good as this someday.

Writing my own novel – Northwoods Deep – inspired me in that I felt like I was able to somewhat successfully write a horror novel with emotional depth, vivid settings and complex characters that – at least I hope – gives chills to those who read it. The novel itself was inspired (very loosely) by Hansel & Gretel as well as some Native American folklore and an early image I couldn’t shake out of my head of an old man creeping up the steps of a cellar, lifting a trap door and ascending into an old cabin in the woods. What exactly was he hiding?

Here’s the description of Northwoods Deep:
Deep in the north woods, two sisters become lost; one stalked by a murderous ex-husband, the other unable to rid herself of the leeches that appear mysteriously on her skin.

All are drawn to an old, dilapidated cabin.

Inside lives an old man with awful urges, accompanied by a Rottweiler possessed by something…unnatural.

But it’s what resides beneath the cabin that they should really be worried about.

Please join award-winning author Joel Arnold on a ride over the river and through the woods straight into terror in his newest novel, Northwoods Deep.

Kindle version:

For other ereaders:

Print version:

My blog:

Rachel says: Thanks for your list, Joel! The same happened for me with Lonesome Dove -- had never read or even liked Westerns, but this one... And then, I had to read all of McMurtry's writing! And Stephen King... can't say enough about how he's influenced me as a reader and writer.

What's on your list?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You Changed Me

Books are powerful things. I don't say that cuz I write them. I don't say that cuz I read them.

Think about it.

The fatwa on Salman Rushdie.

The book burnings in Nazi Germany.

Influenced some of the greatest movies ever made including Dracula, No Country for Old Men and The Wizard of Oz.

America's banning of books by Judy Blume, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Mark Twain, Richard Wright, Aldous Huxley, Stephen King, Joseph Heller, R.L. Stine, J.K. Rowling, Maya Angelou, Truman Capote and on and on and on and on and on....

Books influence how I write, how I think about life and also informs me of how others view life. For the next few weeks, I'll be sharing with you books that have changed my life. Other writers will also share with you books that affected them as well as how a book they wrote changed them in some way. Feel free to comment on influential books in your life -- and if you're interested in writing your own post for Writing in My Car, send me an email at!

Until then,here's my list (which I'll add to cuz THERE BE SO MANY, OMG!):

The Holy Bible
Lucky by Jackie Collins
Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret? by Judy Blume
Forever by Judy Blume
It by Stephen King
Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
Sula by Toni Morrison
Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

What say you, book-lover?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's ALIVE!!!

No One Knows You're Here is ALIVE!!!

You can buy it RIGHT NOW on Amazon or Smashwords. The Nook and Kobo versions will be available soon!

And please visit the book's Facebook page and 'like' it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Do You Like to Read for Less?

And do you like chatting cyber-ly with writers from everywhere?

Pop on over to Authors on the Cheap. I am one of five featured writers this week. You'll find good readin' over in them parts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sooooo exciting!

Really, it is.

No One Knows You're Here now has a Facebook page.

Go visit it. Please?

There will be updates on the book, announcements about giveaways and such, interesting things.

For realz.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Let's Talk About Characters

Characters shouldn't be perfect. Characters who are perfect are BORING. Snow White? Bitch is BORING. But the what's-her-face, Ursula from The Little Mermaid. Oh yeah, more of her. Vikki from One Life to Live was only interesting when she became Nikki. And Tyler Perry's version For Colored Girls? Which character did you want to watch? The social worker (played by beautiful Kerry Washington (hi, Kerry, please play Nicole if View ever becomes a movie. xoxx) - or The Ho' (played by gorgeous Thandie Newton - hi, Thandie, please play Leilani if View ever becomes a movie. xoxx)

Lionel Shriver recently wrote an article about this.

Because in real life, people are not always perfectly charming. I try to duplicate in fiction the complex, contradictory, and infuriating people I meet on the other side of my study door. When fiction works, readers can develop the same nuanced, conflicted relationships to characters that they have to their own friends and family. I’m less concerned that you love my characters than that you recognise them. Human beings have rough edges. Authors who write exclusively about ethical, admirable, likeable characters are not writing about real people.

In The View from Here, Nicole is a bit whiny, insecure, a bitch in many ways. I BET you know someone like that.

In A Quiet Storm, Stacy is self-deprecating and enables her sister, putting her husband second and running off to save her sister at all costs. Until she doesn't.


Who are your favorite flawed characters, in film, literature or television?
Nathan Bransford shared this article from GigaOM about the death of book publishers:

Amazon executive Russell Grandinetti gave the most succinct comment about the new world that publishers find themselves in: a wakeup call that should be posted in giant letters in every publishing house and agency. In an interview about Amazon’s moves into signing authors directly, he told the New York Times:

[T]he only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader. Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New e-Novel a'Comin'

I've been silent. Cuz I've been working. On what? you ask?

Drum roll, please.....

In collaboration with Beyond the Page Publishing, my new e-novel will be published in time for Thanksgiving.

Here's a little more about No One Knows You're Here:

Three weeks out of cancer surgery, crime reporter Syeeda McKay is in the pursuit of Los Angeles’ most active serial killer. Over the last twenty years, the Phantom Slayer has hunted African-American prostitutes working in one of the worst parts of South Los Angeles, killing eight victims in the alleys off Western Avenue, and then disappearing into the shadows. But Syeeda doesn’t know that the killer has turned his sights on her. Detective Adam Sherwood, a hotshot investigator with the Robbery-Homicide Division of the LAPD, has been handed the Phantom Slayer cases, and together, he and Syeeda must figure out who is doing the killing… before Syeeda becomes his next victim.

And here's the cover which was designed by my husband David Hall -- who also designed the cover for The View from Here. (Psst! Need a cover for your novel. Let me know -- I'll hook you up, man!)

I will keep you posted on all thing No One Knows You're Here aka NOKYH as well as other book-related news-es.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Yelping with Cormac McCarthy

And I discovered this on Pajiba who discovered it from someplace else and I'm re-posting cuz I think it's awesome. Called Yelping with Cormac McCarthy. Here's a bit about 'his' trip to Ikea: I went to the damndest store I ever saw with my son and my daughter in law shortly after my granddaughter was born. Had to be the biggest furniture store in the world. Showroom floor with these little rooms all done up you could walk through. I felt like I was trespassing. My son and his wife were arguing about I don’t know what so I hung back a bit and before long I lost them. I ended up next to a wall of chairs. Maybe 30 chairs on shelves all lined up. I guess I stood there for a long time just looking at them. These entries are the clever work of EDW Lynch, and it's some of the funniest writing I've read.

Hello, Again, Hello

As Ned Flanders would say, "Heidi-ho, neighborino!" I've been away for a long time, huh. According the Blogger, since March. I haven't been idle, though. Nope. Not in the least. Writing, writing, reading, writing some more, trip to Disneyworld, conference, writing and reading. And if you're into true crime, I've got some book recommendations for ya! Oh, yeah, my mind was filled with all kinds of unfortunate yet provocative stories. Next post. Promise! And! And I'll have exciting news about my next release No One Knows You're Here. For now, I'll leave you with a sign -- I won't tell you where I took it but I don't think it matters. It would be blech wherever it hung.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Writing in my Car... with Nicholas J. Ambrose

Dialogue Dos and Don’ts

One of the things that I tend to struggle with is dialogue. Ironically, my trouble with dialogue doesn’t come from the dialogue itself – but the action that takes place around it. For a lot of writers, I suspect the problem is the same.

To write, I believe you have to be very adept at picturing things visually. When you’re in the middle of writing a scene, that scene should be playing out in your head. The same goes for anything you write – any piece of background or scenery, any of your characters, any action, and any dialogue. When I write, the scene plays like a movie in my mind.

That’s useful, because it means you can get everything down as you’re picturing it. As something happens in your mind, you can describe that action.

Enter dialogue, and with it, a problem.

My problem comes down to sometimes being too visual-minded. When I’m writing dialogue, I like to convey the action happening around it – and when I was newer to writing, still developing my style and voice, before I started to really hone the craft, I used to convey the action too much.

Cue many instances of dialogue brimming overfull with tags like ‘cried’ and ‘shouted’ and ‘yelled’ and ‘whispered’ and ‘muttered’ and so on ad infinitum. Cue even more instances of dialogue where each line is broken up by a snippet of meaningless action – someone turning to someone else, looking up sharply, swinging kicks, moving across rooms, staring into space. Conversation turned from conversation to something else entirely, the flow entirely broken to pieces.

This is something I still struggle with from time-to-time, although I am getting much better. Sometime after writing my first couple of novels, I began to read more, and started to pay attention to dialogue and conversation in books. Instead of ceaseless tags, a lot of dialogue is a perfect mix: subtle pieces of action peppered throughout, a scattering of tags to indicate the way someone is speaking (although you should try to use ‘said’ most, if you do, as it’s read but not consciously taken in), but mostly just solid dialogue. It was exactly what it should be: an exchange.

Think about what your characters are saying, rather than doing, when you write your dialogue. Try to turn that visual brain of yours down a notch, or you risk ruining the thing entirely. Remember that writing is art, and you should paint with subtle brush strokes and leave the rest to suggestion and imagination. Don’t insult your reader and spell every little thing out for them – let them put the picture together for themselves.

And if it doesn’t come out perfect? Well, no sweat – that’s what the second draft is for.


Nicholas, thanks so much for sharing all this. I love writing dialogue and I often eavesdrop on conversations between real people to get the flow down, the equivocations and half-lies, the hearing and not listening rhythm. Then, I read it aloud. Elmore Leonard is the KING of dialogue.

For you, Reader-Friend, please visit Nicholas at his blog, An Author's Journey and his site Regarding the Hive (pretty cool title, huh?). And. And! His book Progenitor is available at Amazon for only 99 cents. Check it out and tell him I sent you!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The View from Here Gets Italian Love!

Recently, I cyber-chatted with lovely Italian blogger Serena Gobbo over at her site, Librini (little books). We covered writing, books, multitasking, all of it.

Please pop on over. Serena translated the interview just for you!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fun with Sign Language

Well, not this time, not really. More like phone language. Specifically, auto-correct.

You will laugh.

Rachel Howzell – The View from Here

Rachel Howzell – The View from Here is today's featured post on The Indie Spotlight.

How great is this?

Stop on over and read more about other great indie authors.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Frugal eReader: February's Ten Most Popular Frugal Finds!

The Frugal eReader: February's Ten Most Popular Frugal Finds!: "Below are the Ten Most Popular Frugal Finds Under Nine* from The Frugal eReader for the month of February! 1 ~ The Secret Diary of..."

The View from Here
is on the list! Hooray, and thanks to those who helped make this possible.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Spalding's Racket: The View From Here by Rachel Howzell - General Fic...

Spalding's Racket: The View From Here by Rachel Howzell - General Fic...: "Nicole Baxter has always tried to control every element of her life, but that control is slipping away. She has issues. Abandonment issues. ..."

Ah, Spalding's Racket: another awesome place to find awesome ebooks. Nick has four books listed today, including mine!


The Frugal eReader: Presenting Today's Sponsor ~ Rachel Howzell

The Frugal eReader: Presenting Today's Sponsor ~ Rachel Howzell: "Sponsored Post Rachel Howzell's Frugal Find Under Nine: Description:The View from Here focuses on the beauties and hardships of marriage; ..."

Please check out this site -- especially those who lovelovelove frugal finds like mine!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Are You a Geek Who Likes Robots and Live Performances???

My friend Pam Noles, mistress of And We Shall March, is sooooo freakin' awesome. Pam is a former cop reporter and graduate of the Clarion Writer's Workshop. She lives and writes in be-yoo-ti-ful Los Angeles.And she's continuing in that streak of awesomeness with a new project.

If you're a geek, or someone who likes storytelling, or someone who likes live theater or comedy, Pam has got something for you. Yes, you!

Drum roll, please....

! Death 40-Feet Tall ! is a one-hour live storytelling show about two best friends, giant robots and the quest to become your own Prime. It's a storytelling show, not a showcase, about one hour long and family friendly! Please visit the project page on Kickstarter for full details.

Also, stop by Pam's blog for all things geek. Tell her I said, 'Hey!'

A Novel Idea - the Life of a Chapter IV

This will be ugly. In the last Life of a Chapter, I warned you that it would be ugly. No hyperbole. No belle of the ball is Chapter 8 right now. No tall drink of water. No foxy momma.

But when is editing and revision ever pretty, sterile or neat?


So. Don't be scuurred. I'm not anymore, now that it's all on page.

Here we go:

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8

It WILL get better. Oh, yes it will. Because I've completed all these messy revisions and the chapter's clean... For now. But before I dirty it all up again, I will post them and I will bask in their cleanliness and ignore typos and still-clunky sentences and continuity lapses.

There is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Hopefully, it's not a train.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Two Great Posts on Two Great Sites

Hey, ya!

The View from Here is all over the place today. Well, at least in two awesome places:

The Frugal eReader and Daily Cheap Reads.

If you like e-books, and you like saving money, then both of these sites will HOOK. YOU. UP. Swear.

Pop on over.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Another Great Review for The View from Here

Syria, mistress of SyriaSays, one of the funniest blog/book review sites on the interwebs, just posted her review of The View from Here:

Storyline: Rachel, I don’t know HOWzell you did it! But, somehow you took a potentially depressing premise and made it both very entertaining and enjoyable.

And she says much, much more. Good stuff. Good, good stuff that made my tired heart SWELL.

Please pop on over to SyriaSays to read the rest of the review as well as other reviews and interviews (she also interviewed me). I'm a lucky gal.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Novel Idea - the Life of a Chapter III

Hey, hey! A Devil Within is growing and turning into a real book! Holla.

Now, this is my favorite part of writing. The second draft. Oh my, yes, yes, I do love me some second draft with all its errors and Times New Roman 12 and half-baked ideas and WTFdidImeanbythat and the all of it.

Because now! Now, I get to return to each sentence with a clearer understanding of my story, of the characters, of all the nitty-gritty and plot points and turns that I need to make. It is not pretty work, this second draft. No, second-drafting is not the Tai Chi of writing with all the grace notes and wit and stunning prose. No, second-drafting is sweaty, lifting tractor tires, bloody hands, endorphins running through your body kind of writing. Ooh-wee.

So, in the last Life of a Chapter, I shared pristine pages of prose transcribed from the handwritten version. My next step was to read the manuscript all the way through and make notes on the page. No correcting or adding, but adding 'Describe more' or possible directions to take. This is also where I notice all the 'I shook my head', 'she sighed' and 'he shook his head' wackness. This stuff I circle and underline to return to later with more clever actions and descriptions that first drafts don't allow.

So what's changed? The chapter number, for one. And I learned that Juliet Hill kept a diary -- this will play an integral part in the way I tell the story.

Ready? Here we go (remember to click on each page to enlarge):

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Stayed tune for the next episode of Life of a Chapter! It's about to get ugly up in here.

Writing In My Car... With SL Danielson

Today, romance novelist SL Danielson is Writing In My Car. SL (government name: Stephanie) is the author of five novels, including Lust in London. What's this novel about, you ask? Young Alex had never left Kansas, much less flown across the pond to London. He arrives to study, but ends up getting involved in far more than he bargained for. He meets a charming salesman named Mason who beguiles him from the moment they lay eyes on each other. They start a romance, only for it to be put on hold while Mason travels and Alex attends school. Soon enough, they two are together again, but things are straining due to the distance between them. There are other obstacles as well including a secret admirer, and a jealous ex-lover. Will their relationship survive or fall prey to the London fog as only lust?

In her essay, Stephanie talks about her past dreams of becoming a writer and the challenges she faces now that she's published. Here's Stephanie!

My writing life has been something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a young girl in the mountains of the northeast. I’d written all these years and was finally inspired to attempt to publish something in 2007. I still remember the absolute euphoria at being accepted by someone! My little book would go out into the world and I’d be rich and famous, right? Well, not exactly. Things didn’t go as planned with that particular item; but it was a huge learning experience. Since then, I’ve penned 4 other books, some of which have sold into the hundreds (a huge amount to me)! For the first time in years, I am able to buy Christmas presents for my family thanks to my loyal fans, and them buying my books.

So where do all of these volumes come from? Are they welled up inside of me like a font? Kind of. I have stories that go back 20-23 years (which I plan on publishing in the coming years), but as for my overall inspiration? I’d say watching life and playing games and being a soap opera addict was a massive help! I would take what they were slowly drawing out and shorten it with my own dramatic twists. My first ‘real’ writings were when I was 12 and stuck on an incredibly long family vacation, where we had 5,000 miles to cover. It was just me, a pad of paper, and markers. The rest is history on that.

So now that I’m in this marvelous world of writing as an officially published author, what’s next? Well, let’s step back and see how I got here. There are fears and triumphs along the way. The first major fear I had? Acceptance! The genre I write (gay fiction) is not exactly a conversation starter; more a conversation ender! I rarely mention it and only last year did I ‘come out’ to my father with the truth about what I write. He read one of my books and called the characters ‘sick’, BUT, he did read it and was impressed with my storytelling style and ability. Have to get the ‘ol man credit there.

My triumphs? Being accepted in 2007 (though it turned out to be short-lived and rather empty in the end). I regret it now, and would never use the same format, company, or manner that I did. That said, my next triumph, REAL this time…was finding my friend Leiland Dale. He welcomed me onto his site in its early days and in that time I sold more books than ever in my life! My 2 best-sellers (Ranch Hands and Lust in London) finally started S. L. Danielson on the map and out of obscurity.

What’s next? Blogging, promotion, and all in-between graduate classes, working, and life. I have many more books to write, and only recently began signing with publishers again (did the self-pub thing for 3 of them). So therefore, let the games being, this author is ready!

Please take a moment and visit Stephanie's blog. You'll get an honest glimpse of the writing life. And there are also lots of guest posts by other authors.

Thanks for sharing, Stephanie!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Writing In My Car... With Patricia Sands

Good morning, y'all!

In today's Writing in my Car, author Patricia Sands talks about starting her writing journey -- the surprises, the excitement, how you even change your schedule to make it a part of your life.

Patricia is the author of The Bridge Club. What is this novel about, you ask? For more than forty years, the mantra of the eight women in the Bridge Club has been "one for all and all for one." Beginning their monthly soiree in the psychedelic Sixties, unpredicted twists of fate weave through the good times and strong friendship they share as the years pass. The constant from one decade to the next is loyal and nonjudgmental support, even when agreeing to disagree is the final solution. From the exhilarating cultural changes of their early times together through the "zoomer" years, their connection never falters. As they celebrate turning sixty (give or take a year) at a group birthday weekend, each woman recalls a challenging time in her life when the Bridge Club came to the rescue. After tossing around ideas mixed with a generous helping of common sense and a large dose of laughter they decide to refer to that time as their "SOS".

Here's Patricia!

My first novel, The Bridge Club, was self-published in September through iUniverse and has received very positive feedback.

I’ve been a storyteller forever through photography and also in my career as an educator. One particular story had been simmering in my mind for years and five years ago I sat down to write it … just for fun. The story was about my “bridge club”, ten friends that have been together for over 40 years and some of the life experiences we shared.

As assorted people took a look at my writing, I was encouraged to consider approaching the story with a view to publishing. This suggestion created a shift in my perspective as I was not interested in publishing a memoir. Turning to fiction, the number of characters switched from ten to eight and although most of the issues in the story did occur, the details and circumstances in many of them have been altered. The characters became composites of real people.

Research was essential as I made certain my facts were correct. Hours were spent talking with people, listening to their stories and fabricating them into the novel I was crafting.

Never an early riser I found myself waking with a start at 6:30 in the morning, compelled to get to my computer and record the thoughts swirling through my mind. I became totally consumed by the story as it took on a life of its own. One of the great surprises of writing was to discover how characters actually began to direct my writing at times, taking me places I had not planned to go! I had heard other writers speak of this but never really believed it.

After four years I took a deep breath, decided I had completed a first draft, and handed the manuscript to my brother to read. He is an author and co-author of some amazing textbooks – used across Canada in high schools - and a proofreader extraordinaire … and I knew he would be brutally honest.

If you ask any writer, I believe most would confirm it is extremely difficult to declare a manuscript is finished, complete, needs no more work. There comes a time when you have to try to let go. Honestly, another aspect of this process is preparing yourself to let others read what you have written – I felt it was akin to taking my clothes off in public – and at my age, that’s particularly scary!

My brother took the manuscript on an Alaskan cruise he and his wife had planned. He said he wouldn’t contact me until they returned ten days later. On the day I knew I would hear from him I opened my e-mail with trepidation. What if he suggested I stick to photography? His subject line read “I loved it!” Whew!

From there I first followed the traditional query letter route. How I ended up self-publishing and that part of the journey is another 500 words – at least!

Thanks for stopping by, Patricia! Please visit Patricia over at her blog to read interviews and essays about the writing life.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Writting In My Car... With Adam Santo

For many of us, sharing your art with the world can be a bit scary. Many creatives (myself included) are natural introverts, observing the world, then sneaking back to our notebooks to make something of what we've seen. We all handle this natural ability in different ways, and in today's Writing In My Car, novelist Adam Santo shares his experience.

Adam is the author of Temperature: Dead and Rising. What is this novel about, you ask? When Sally Mertill is driving a carload of her friends back to Green Mountain Falls after visiting Pike's Peak they'll careen off the side of the mountain. With no guardrails it's not surprising there are no survivors. And yet within two days a not altogether bad fellow named Bocnic Drewings will call upon the metal drawer where her body awaits autopsy, open it, and lead her on the adventure of a lifetime; well, that's if she'd have survived the accident. The powers that be have chosen Sally to become undead and she's the only other person time eternal who's been given the power to raise the dead; and control them. When leaders of rival undead clans find out, they either want to control or destroy her, which makes Sally staying undead a bit of a challenge.

The funny part about the writing experience, for me, is the shyness. It is fine to people-watch and to find ideas hidden in everyday life, however, does that come from being an introvert? Not wanting to interact with the ones around or the world at large? Could be. So many little things in life draw ideas up in each of us to use. Whether it is writing, drawing, making movies and shows, creating a bestselling toy for children, or the next presentation to the board of directors (ok, those last two might be stretching it) shows what we notice in the world without consciously knowing these strangers will one day become a part of your creative genius.

At some point in a person’s life they feel the need to write a book. Be it their own manuscript or fixing someone else’s novel to give it the added flare it apparently lacked. It’s not a bad thing to think writing would be easy – it is hard when you create a world these make-believe characters will live in. What is harder still? Publishing said work yourself.

Once the book was completed I felt I had done something great and I still do. What I did not know was how I could sell it. Sure, there are plenty of sites out there explaining how to sell it but for myself it meant stepping outside of the house to do it.

I have found out the hard way that writing ended up being the easy thing to do. It is the promoting that still kills me. I have never enjoyed standing before a crowd to speak, never mind having to “pimp” my novel at the same time. You want to know something? I had a hard time explaining the simple concept of my book to my wife and she was an audience of one!

I have been asked to be a guest columnist here (Thank you Rachel) to my utter reluctance expressed early on to her. Don’t take these words wrong. The reluctance came from writing outside my box; something not related to my manuscripts. This is the first time I have been asked to take on such an endeavor. The thing to remember is that you will fail at something given enough time and that’s alright. I think that last sentence summed it up about how I feel each time a letter on the keyboard is pressed.

My comfort zone at being a secluded gnome is broken. Because of this I have agreed to speak at book club meeting for Friends of the Library that meet once a month and invite authors as guest speakers, such as myself.

Adversity will be present at every turn if you let it. This is a mighty first step against it, which will lead to the speaking engagement scheduled for the end of February 2011. We will see how strong I am after that encounter. I am told it normally is a small crowd of six or eight people. All I can suggest to anyone is “just try it”. The reward comes from doing something you’re not used to instead of be concerned about failing before you start. Enjoy life with flare.

Thanks for sharing, Adam! Please pop over to Adam's blog for more of his musings and book reviews.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Today from Gawker:

[Inquirer, mugshot via Philadelphia Inquirer]

An illiterate deaf man who knows no sign language being prosecuted in Pennsylvania. His linguistic deficit is either his biggest problem—particularly for participating in his own defense—or the greatest loophole in his criminal career, depending who you ask.

Juan Jose Gonzalez Luna's defense lawyer believes his client was raised in an isolated town in the Mexican state of Michoacán. Luna met few (if any) other deaf people, and did not learn to read or write. He uses ad-hoc pantomiming to communicate. Though Luna is intellectually competent, his public defense lawyer has "a really hard time" communicating "even the most basic things. To try to describe legal procedure to someone like that is virtually impossible."

Read more here.

Writing In My Car... With Kevin Klehr

Sometimes, you have to return to your writing more than twice to get it right. In today's Writing in my Car, novelist Kevin Klehr shares his journey to publish his novel Drama Queens with Love Scenes.

What is this novel about, you ask? Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They're not crazy about the idea so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel. They are soon drawn into the world of theatre - Afterlife style, with all the bitchiness, back-stabbing and ego usually associated with the mortal world. Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro. Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.

Let's welcome novelist Kevin!

The first few years
About ten years ago I started writing a fantasy novel on Thursday nights, as that was the only free time I had (My partner, Warren, had started playing tennis on those nights).

It was handwritten in a journal and called Staging Life. I had written about five chapters when a friend bought me a 'How to Write' book for my birthday. (As an aside, writing was a passion of mine as a kid, so rediscovering it as a hobby in my 30s was a blessing)

The first paragraph of this How To book clearly told me that if I was writing without my plot being clearly laid out, to stop right away! I made a chapter by chapter story outline, but this totally killed the creative process. The journal was then left in the bottom drawer.

Several years later a young man captured our hearts (no, not in the way you're thinking). He was charming, charismatic, and just needed a little help in learning to love himself as a gay man. Warren secretly lent him my unfinished manuscript, which he returned to me enthusiastically. He demanded I finish it. So I did. Within months a novella was born.

The first draft was taken to an assessor who loved my style of writing, but pointed out some major flaws. Like the main character in The Great Gatsby, my protagonists watched drama unfold around them, but were not directly effected. Secondly, she thought that the love interest between my two main characters which happened out of the blue in the last chapter, should be the main focus of the whole novel.

Thirdly, she didn't like my first chapter. A fantasy telling of Warwick and Allan's life up to the point to which they die. She found two problems with this. Firstly, the real world was as fanciful as the Afterlife. No clear distinction between the two realities. Secondly, she made me realise that how they died should be one of the mysteries that should be told in flashback. Keep the audience guessing!

One thing she did like was the fact that my main character was sometimes inappropriate in social circumstances. She told me to make this his main personality flaw and pointed me toward Joe Keenan's My Blue Heaven. In her words she said 'turn up the 'tude'.' This was very good advice.

I kept using her as my assessor for two more drafts, finally taking the novella to novel length. Eight drafts later the book was finally born.

Along the way there were two mistakes I made that might be worth mentioning for young players. The first I didn't go through with, but it's so important to note.

One publisher was interested in my book. When I looked over the contract, one thing that stood out was my lack of control over my own copyright. I've worked in broadcast media, so copyright law is something I know a lot about. In this contract, not only did they want exclusive world rights, they also wanted me to write to them and seek their permission if I wanted to write anything in the future. Plus, only they would have the right to end the contract, even if I desperately wanted to.

A lawyer pointed out how their payment of royalties was far below the industry standard. Once I asked this publisher a few questions, then they dropped me straight away.

My second mistake was using a different assessor for one of my drafts. One publisher (in fact, many) loved my writing style but not the uncommercial nature of my book. They suggested a few ideas on making the plot more sellable, after only reading the first chapter. So I decided to use them to assess my novel (as a backdoor way of getting them to read the whole manuscript).

This is my mistake...I rewrote the book taking on their ideas, but they didn't really work in the context of the whole story. My partner suggested that I simply should have sent the most recent draft, but I was desperate for a publishing deal that I rewrote using their ideas. Never do this! Five hundred dollars later they criticized the novel in its new form, making me wish I'd listened to my husband.

Even my psychic (don't laugh, she's extremely good) looked at me sternly while we were talking about something completely different, and asked "What did I do with that woman!" She was referring to my original assessor. I said that I was just getting another opinion to which she replied "She understands what you're writing about!" This all happened before I got the book assessment from hell.

I shot and edited the Book Trailer in January, but finally, nine months later its out. It was suppose to be out back in May, but they had problems with my cover design. I'm just glad its finally available.

So if you're into love stories, the afterlife, theatre and film, characters from different time periods, bitchyness and comedy, please check out the book trailer and the first chapter from my profile. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A New Cyber-Friend

Good morning!

Like Young Adult novels? Then, go on over and say 'hey there' to Karly Kirkpatrick, YA novelist at her blog.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Feature: You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I love stories that can't possibly be true but they ARE! And I love sharing those stories with friends and family. And I'd like to share them with you. So I shall.

First up:

This politician in the Philippines was assassinated on New's Years Day. The screw: he was taking a picture of his family at the time, and caught the assassin in his shot. THE MURDERER IS HOLDING UP A GUN IN THE FAMILY PHOTO!

Crazy. right? Chilling, isn't it?

Gawker has the full story and that creepy family photo.

Writing in My Car... With Deborah Brodie

I've been asked several times what inspired me to write A Quiet Storm [and now, The View from Here. For each work, that source of inspiration differs while getting it down on paper and using it shape a story remains the challenge.

Today, novelist Deborah Brodie talks about inspiration and how it moves her through the machinations of novel-writing. So. let's welcome Deborah, author of The Path That Gets Brighter and the recent In His Love.

What is In His Love about, you ask? The book tells the story of Sarah, one of the youngest sisters of the congregation at Anchorage Place, a refuge for abandoned children. While running to the love of her Lord, she runs from the romance of a lover, fearful that she cannot love both equally. Sarah must contend with religion and surrender her fear before she can pursue love. The story reveals whether it is possible for Sarah to give into her desire for Daryl while giving her heart to the lover of her soul, and if her relationship with Jesus will survive as she wrestles with her faith. Will she ever be able to fully believe In His Love?

Here's Deborah!

I was excited when Rachel extended the opportunity for me to describe the process of my writing.

When any artist talks about their talent or craft, I believe it all begins with inspiration. One of the unique qualities of inspiration is it is different for everyone, and yet it is found everywhere and in virtually anything. For some, inspiration comes from a beautiful sunset, or perhaps a tranquil landscape. For others, they are inspired by other people’s accomplishments, and whatever obstacles they have endured and overcome.

For me, inspiration comes in the seasons of life; both good and bad. It is in the changing seasons of life that we learn most about ourselves, and others for that matter. These moments become my canvas. Hardships and obstacles battle it out through the characterization of heroes and villains. I become the author and architect of circumstances transforming the abstract to art; the subjective to objective.

Once I become inspired and a story unfolds, I begin to develop the characters and expand on the theme and plot by doing chapter and story outlines. This simply means transcribing my thoughts and ideas onto paper, and putting them in a chronological order I would like the story to follow…at this point.

My writing tends to be from start to finish and I always write on pad and paper before copying it into the computer. I have learned from experience that while this is burdensome it protects my work if technology fails me!

Believe it or not, this is the easy part of writing, because I have the opportunity to express my emotions while engaging my imagination to create a virtual reality of entertainment for others to experience.

Once the story is complete it goes off to meet the scrupulous eyes of the publisher where it holds the fate of being dissected and categorized.

For me, an editor can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. I have recently learned that there must be a balance in the maintaining of the integrity of your story, while having the flexibility to change, and adapt new ideas; especially if it comes from a marketing standpoint.

I am currently working on the sequel to my last novel, “In His Love.” It is a trilogy sequel series. While “In His Love,” is a romance, the first sequel to follow will be a mystery/suspense novel. The backdrop takes place in mystical Guatemala, and the climax will leave readers chomping at the bit for more!

We are all a creative people and I encourage you to let yourself be inspired today. Through inspiration you will find your creative outlet, whatever it may be. It is an expression of your inner self – the real you.

“If you can see yourself as an artist, and you can see that your life is your own creation, then why not create the most beautiful story for yourself?”
Don Miguel Ruiz – “The Voice of Knowledge”

Please visit Deborah at her blog -- and tell her Rachel sent you!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Strange Twisted and So True, She Says

Awesome news!

Mega-reviewer Nina Sankovitch just posted an incredible review of The View from Here on her site Read All Day.

Because others' reviews are copyrighted, here is just a small excerpt of what Nina had to say:

The View From Here is Gaslight turned up a notch by modern life, including current anxieties about having it all (baby, career, husband, good sex, great vacations, big screen TVs). Whereas in the movie Gaslight, the woman can only rely on her own resources to fight off impending insanity, Nicole must free herself from the too-freely prescribed medications and proffered therapies, stripping down to the basics of who she is -- only then can she beat the demons at the door (and in her house).

Please visit Nina's site. And please, please, purchase a copy of The View from Here. You'll like it. I swear!