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Archive for April, 2011

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries, Moore Mysteries, and Tall Pines Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at www.legardemysteries.com and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books releases, FIRESONG(2011), TERROR COMES KNOCKING (2011), FOR THE BIRDS(2011), ESSENTIALLY YOURS (2012) and DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (2012).

Q: When did you start writing mysteries?

A: During my late teens and twenties I always knew I wanted to write a mystery series some day. It’s odd, because the writing bug hadn’t really hit me at that point. But in the back of my mind I just assumed I’d do it some day. I pictured it happening later, maybe in retirement. (I still had to finish college, get a job, get a house, raise my kids in a safe environment, etc.) As I matured through my thirties, I continued to devour all of the series mysteries I could read. These writers were my teachers, so to speak.

I didn’t commit to the LeGarde series until my father died, in 1997. The agony of the loss sent me into a tailspin. I’d lost eight family members and friends in the previous five years, and his death was the final straw. I needed something to help me release the pain, and decided that a series dedicated to my dad would be just the ticket. After writing Double Forté, I was completely bitten by the writing bug. And it hasn’t stopped pestering me since.

Q: I understand the latest instalment in the LeGarde mystery series, FireSong, has just been released. What is your protagonist, Gus LeGarde, up to this time?

A: Gus juggles more troubles at one time in this book than he has in his entire series. Here’s a blurb:

What would you do if your country church was hit by a rogue tornado during services? What if the shrieking winds unearthed the bones of a missing parishioner in a nearby wheat field? Now add the discovery of heroin in your elderly minister’s bloodstream. When Gus LeGarde is thrown into the middle of the mess, he knows life’s finally gone berserk in East Goodland, New York.

The Genesee Valley is in chaos. Strangers drive panel vans through the countryside at weird hours of the night. A new batch of drugs is on the street, endangering local. The local salt mine collapses due to illegal mining practices. Gas fires burn in wells. Watering holes turn to brine. Crops are dying. Tempers are short. To top it off, the new salt mine lies directly over ancient Indian burial grounds, bringing anguish to local tribes.

While Gus faces ordeals delivered by nature and man, his wife Camille discovers a hidden room in their house. She digs through historical archives to learn that the 1811 original homeowner, Mary Hill, may have had connections with the Underground Railroad. When local grave robbers begin to loot historic coffins, they find an empty coffin. Who killed Mary? How did she die? Where is her body? And where will this two-hundred-year-old mystery lead?

Join Gus as he’s lured into a bizarre network of underground tunnels to expose the most shocking discovery ever to rock the Genesee Valley.

Q: Besides being an amateur sleuth, Gus is a music professor. He also loves gardening, cooking, and is a big family man. How did you create this character?

A: Gus LeGarde is based partially on my father, and partially on me. He’s a strange amalgam of us both, and has also grown into a unique person all his own at the same time. My father was an avid musician, gardener, cook, animal lover, and family man. Of course, so am I. People who read the series see “me” in it, but I see my father. It’s rather fun.

I always say “Gus LeGarde is a better man than me.” That’s because he can run through the woods to chase villains without getting out of breath, hold his own in a nasty fist fight, play a superb Chopin etude (I’m hopeless), garden, teach, inspire his students, and he juggles all of these adventures while still caring for his family. I admire his stamina!

Q: How important is plotting a mystery in advance for mystery writers?

A: Some folks plot in advance with great detail. I admire that. And I’m a little jealous of them! In my case it ends up not being all that important. The story comes as it wants to, flying out of my head without much advance notice. I simply document the process by keeping my fingers moving. ;o)

Q: What would you say are the main elements of a great mystery story?

A: In any genre, my firm opinion is that you need to have strong, memorable characters firmly rooted in a great setting with a plot that rings true. Or close to true! Providing clues that are reasonable up front is essential, but they shouldn’t be so obvious that they give away the ending. Twists and turns are a lovely addition – I particularly like to use this ploy. In addition, mysteries need to establish right off the bat some aching need in their readers to discover what happened, who killed whom, or what is going to happen as a result of it. There must be a burning question that needs resolution. I also believe a mystery needs a good setting, with a very strong sense of place. And it goes without saying that the writing must be smooth and polished, and that the dialogue must be real.

Q: How long does it take you to write a novel?

A: On average, it takes me about two to three months working an hour or two per day. That doesn’t include the post-edits that come when we get closer to publication, of course. Those may require another month or so of intense work.

Q: Do you suffer from writer’s block at times? What do you do to ‘cure’ it?

A: Sometimes I feel a little burned out, and when that happens, I just put away the laptop and live life for a while. I submerge myself in all things around me, listen to conversations at the grocery store, cook family feasts, garden in the sun, watch some great movies, play with my grandkids. Usually it takes less than a week to stir up the juices and get the stories percolating again.

Q: Who are your favourite mystery authors?

A: Here are a few: John D. McDonald, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Dick Francis, Clive Cussler, Laurie R. King, Rex Stout, Peter Mayle, and Tony Hillerman.

Q: How do you balance writing and editing your novels with marketing and promotion?

A: This is the toughest part of my career right now, Mayra. In the beginning, I just wrote. I was hardly online at all, and I lived for the next book. I wrote 5 books in row before I even thought about getting published. But now – many years later – I go through phases of massive creation following by months of promotion. I don’t like this at all, and am trying to get more uniform and balanced with both. I write an article each week for my collaborative blog, Murderby4.blogspot.com. I try to twitter multiple times per day all week (pre-scheduled with Twuffer.com). I respond to fan mail and help young authors get started. And when a new book is coming out, I try to create a buzz in advance with virtual book tours, etc. Frankly, I wish I could go back to those early days when it was all pure fun. But then again, I’d have no readers, would I?

Q: What tips would you give aspiring mystery writers?

A: Here are a few tips: Less is more. Avoid adverbs and use stronger verbs. Avoid a bunch of useless phrases that are not needed but commonly used. Also, expect and welcome rejection. If you aren’t receiving lots of rejection notices, you aren’t submitting enough. Eventually one of them will pan out. Keep writing. The more you write, the more your skills develop. And one day it will all come together with your first book deal! (I’ve posted many of these tips on my website http://www.legardemysteries.com in the “Free articles and essays” section with detailed examples, etc.)

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?

A: I often encourage writers (and everyone!) to “take pleasure in the little things”. No matter what’s happening in your life, if you appreciate the gifts that God has given us, all will be okay.

Open your eyes. Reel it all in. Absorb the beauty around you, whether it is the flash of love in an old woman’s eye, the ping of a cooling woodstove, the touch of a child’s hand, or the fragile petal of a white violet. Allow yourself to be in that moment, record it in your soul, and play it back for your readers for the ultimate connection.

Thanks, Mayra, for having me here today. It’s been so much fun! Following is a list of my books, blogs, and awards. If anyone needs to contact me, you can email me at aaron dot lazar at yahoo dot com.

Twilight Times Books by Kindle bestselling author Aaron Lazar:

LEGARDE MYSTERIES
DOUBLE FORTE’ (2004, new version coming 2012)
UPSTAGED (2005, new version coming 2012)
TREMOLO: CRY OF THE LOON (2007)
MAZURKA (2009)
FIRESONG (COMING SOON! JULY 2011)
DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (COMING SOON! APRIL 2012)

MOORE MYSTERIES
HEALEY’S CAVE (2010)
TERROR COMES KNOCKING (2011)
FOR KEEPS (2012)

TALL PINES MYSTERIES
FOR THE BIRDS (COMING SOON! OCTOBER 2011)
ESSENTIALLY YOURS (COMING SOON! MARCH 2012)

Awards:
Preditors & Editors Readers Choice Award – 2nd place 2011* Winner of Carolyn Howard Johnsons’ 9th Annual Noble (Not Nobel!) Prize for Literature 2011 * Finalist Allbooks Editors Choice Awards 2011 * Preditors&Editors Top 10 Finalist * Yolanda Renee’s Top Ten Books 2008 * MYSHELF Top Ten Reads 2008 * Writers’ Digest Top 101 Website Award 2009 & 2010

www.legardemysteries.com
www.mooremysteries.com
www.murderby4.blogspot.com
www.aaronlazar.blogspot.com

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Please welcome Louise Voss, co-author of the suspense novel, Killing Cupid. I hope you’ll enjoy the interview, but first, here’s a little about Louise in her own words…

I started writing as a hobby while living and working in the music business in New York in 1995. After a few years of rejections, my first book was bought at auction by Transworld/Black Swan. To Be Someone was published in 2000, the first novel to come with its own CD soundtrack (on Virgin Records). Three more novels followed, as well as two co-written thrillers with Mark Edwards. The first of these, Killing Cupid, was optioned by the BBC for a two-part drama and is about to optioned again by a BAFTA-winning producer for a feature film. Killing Cupid has recently been published on Amazon Kindle, shortly to be followed by Catch Your Death.

I live in South West London with my daughter and our psychotic flatulent rescue cat.

About the book:

A frightened woman turns the tables on her stalker – with devastating results.

A fast-paced, funny and original psychological thriller with more twists and turns than a bucketful of snakes.

When Alex Parkinson joins a creative writing class, he realizes immediately that he and his tutor, Siobhan McGowan, are meant to be together. Alex will do anything to be with her…Like buying her designer clothes and lingerie…with her own credit card. Like breaking into her house and reading her diary. Like threatening her ex-boyfriend – and watching his love rival plummet from a rooftop. Like creeping around her house and hiding in the wardrobe, waiting until she comes home…

But when Alex is finally scared off and seeks solace elsewhere, Siobhan decides to take revenge. How dare he lose interest in her? He picked the wrong woman to stalk then just back off!

As their lives begin to unravel and the past closes in, Alex and Siobhan embark on a collision course that threatens to destroy both themselves and everyone around them…’

KILLING CUPID is now available on iBooks!

Interview:

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

I never thought about becoming an author until I took a writing class whilst living in NYC in 1996 (just because I wanted to do something creative – it could easily have been painting or photography instead) in which we had to work with the same character all semester. I ended up with several short pieces of writing which I realized I could expand into chapters and hang a plot line onto – and bingo, I had the makings of a novel. I was hooked!

Do you have another job besides writing?

I used to be a full-time writer (had four novels published) but things, ahem, didn’t go quite to plan, and now I have another job, organizing concerts in the music department of a university in south-west London. It’s fun, but doesn’t leave me enough time to write! I’m really hoping that this Kindle venture, ie. my second bite at the cherry, is successful enough for me to go back to being a full-time novelist!

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

Mark (Edwards, my co-author) and I decided that we should put our writing/critiquing friendship to good use, and co-write a novel. We came up with the stalker-becomes-the-stalked premise, he thought of the title (‘Killing Cupid’) and we decided to write a chapter each, me as the female lead, him as the male. He then promptly moved to Japan, so we would write our chapter in turn, email it to the other for editing and comments, and continue that way. We didn’t write an outline, we just had a vague idea of where it should go, and took it from there. It was a breeze to write; so much fun.

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?

Eurgh, bad reviews are horrible! Luckily I’ve only had a couple, but it’s true what they say – you do remember them better than the good ones. I think the recent hoo-ha about the Kindle author who behaved appallingly badly, kicking off about a mediocre review only to find her offensive and bitter retorts going global, is a salutory lesson to everyone… Let it go! Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, and as long as the majority of reviews are positive, you must be doing something right!

How do you divide your time between taking care of a home and children, and writing? Do you plan your writing sessions in advance?

It was much easier when my daughter was a baby, because I could write during her naps. And then, for years, I wrote when she went to bed, from about 7.30pm. It’s got more difficult now that she’s 13 and we tend to hit the hay at about the same time. By the time I’ve come in from work and we’ve done the homework/dinner routine, I’m too worn out to write, so it is now mostly relegated to weekends and holidays. But I think that’s also because I don’t have a new work-in-progress – at the moment I’m working on getting my old novels up on Amazon Kindle. Once I get stuck into something new, I’m sure I’ll make the time. And yes, I would loosely plan a writing session in advance, ie. have in mind a specific scene I want to get down.

What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?

I am a huge fan of critique groups. I am lucky enough to have been in a brilliantly supportive one for the past ten years. We’ve all become good friends – and have all been published, too. I think anyone with any self-esteem or intelligence would (hopefully) pretty soon realize that they were in the wrong group, if they were feeling crushed or not given critiques in a constructive way.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Here’s a link to my co-author Mark’s excellent blog:
http://indieiq.com/tag/mark-edwards
One to the book on Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/gXGez2
And one to Amazon US: http://amzn.to/eGhcPx

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

As I said, I’m planning to get all four of my past novels up on Amazon Kindle as soon as I can – I love the idea of them having a whole new lease of life! Plus, Mark and I are currently in the process of e-publishing our other co-written thriller: Catch Your Death, set around a research centre into the common cold, featuring rogue scientists, ruthless killers, and a woman who is out to find the truth about what happened to her first love…

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Series: Tales of Ever
#1 Banished
by Jen Wylie
Short Story 0.99
Published March 1 2011 by Echelon Press

I am really excited about my first short story series.

Tales of Ever is part of a new short story program being put out by Echelon Press.

Electric Shorts is a pilot program for reluctant readers. Each series contains six short stories presented once per month as electronic downloads (eBooks), much the same as a television series. Tales of Ever is a fantasy series written for young adults (13-17 year olds). The first instalment, Banished, debuted March 1st, a new instalment will be available the first of the month ending in August. At only $.99 each, the short stories are affordable for all walks of life.

I was lucky enough to have a mother who was an avid reader, and became one myself at an early age. I’ve now passed the love of reading onto to my own children. Tales of Ever is full of action and written to captivate even the most reluctant readers. I’m hoping to share the joy of reading with many young adults.

Series Blurb:

Welcome to Ever.

Ever, a deadly realm where feared, powerful and dangerous magical beings are banished. Though very large, it is not a world but a magically created prison. You can’t break through its circular boundary. Who, or what, made Ever? I’ve no idea. They were powerful, and cruel. That is all I can tell you.

Ever is like and unlike every other world. Nothing is safe. Safety is a dream. Ever is a nightmare. Few survive their first day. Nothing is what it seems. If something appears safe, it isn’t. If something appears dangerous, well it is, but probably more so than you think.

Ever has no sun, no moon, no stars at night. Time is told by the ever changing color of the sky where portals open, dropping new inhabitants, or new terrors. Time does pass. Don’t worry, you won’t get old. You won’t live that long.

The landscape changes without reason form dessert to jungles. The flora isn’t safe at any time. There is food, if you can find it without getting eaten yourself. Most plants and animals are poisonous. So is the water.

Are you afraid? You should be. This is the end. It gets worse of course. Remember the portals? Do think angels come through? Rarely the innocent do. Mostly, it is people of evil, people too powerful to kill. Their magic works here. The creature’s are worse.

Do you understand? Well you will eventually, or you’ll die. There is no escaping Ever. Ever.

Banished Blurb:

My life was normal. It sucked, but it was normal. At least until I got this new power. I can control fire. It would be cool if it wasn’t so dangerous and if I knew how to use it. Pretty much my sucky life took a nose dive once I got it. Yup, everything gone. I suppose I should be thankful some uncle I never heard of took me in. Turns out the whole family isn’t normal and my power is a lot more dangerous than I thought. I thought things couldn’t get any worse. I was wrong. They banished me to Ever.
If I’m lucky, I might survive my first day.

Excerpt:

Fire.

I see it everywhere.

When did it start? I don’t remember. A year ago? Maybe more. I see it more now than before.

Flames dance just out of sight. They flicker on school lockers, in windows, anywhere.

Now they hover over the road as I run.

I glare at my watch as I round the block. School sucked today. I’ve run farther and faster than I usually do, trying to push all my stupid problems away. I wonder if Mom waited for me.

Probably not.

The last year I’ve been unsettled. Sometimes I get these hot flashes. I don’t understand why. Mom gets them sometimes, too. She says not to worry about it.

I can’t tell her about seeing the fire, or about the dreams.

We do Yoga and that helps. So does running. I’ve done a lot of both over the last year.

It hasn’t been the best year. Mom lost one of her jobs. She found another, but it doesn’t pay as much. Lack of money really stresses her out.

I hope she’ll let me get a decent job soon. Something other than yard work and babysitting. I want to help. Mom looks so tired lately. She is really starting to worry me.

In a few months I’ll be sixteen. I haven’t asked about getting my driver’s license. I’m sure Mom won’t bring it up either. We don’t have money for a car, anyways. We don’t even have money for lessons or the stupid license test.

What will I do if something happens to Mom?

I have no idea. We don’t have any really close friends. A few people we sort of talk to, like our old neighbor Mrs. Green. No family either, at least not that Mom ever talks about.

I don’t have any friends at school. Even though I go to a public school, most of the kids there have money. We don’t, and it shows. People can be so fickle. Of course, I don’t really try to make friends. I fall into the quiet and shy group. Years ago I gave up trying. Too many times I thought I’d found a friend and then got stabbed in the back.

Seeing fire sets me apart too. I know other people don’t see it, not like I do. Some are obsessed with it. I watch them play with matches and lighters outside at school.

I’m not obsessed. What I see scares me.

I slow when I reach our falling down house. Flames dance on the metal mailbox. I look away and dash into the broken porch.

“I’m back!”

Mom doesn’t answer, but I didn’t expect her to.

She had started without me. Sitting on a mat, her body is twisted into a Yoga position.

I started Yoga when I was little because it was fun. Later, I did it to spend time with Mom. That was after Dad disappeared and Mom took a second job. The only thing Mom ever makes time for is her Yoga.

Tucking away how much that hurt, I join in quietly.

My thoughts don’t want to calm. All I can think about is how unfair everything is. If Dad hadn’t disappeared, we wouldn’t be living like this.

I glance over at Mom, wondering if anyone knew the truth. The police listed him as a missing person.

Dad left work to come home one night and never arrived. They found his car in the next county. Someone had set it on fire too. At least Dad hadn’t been in it. We still don’t know what happened to him. Would Mom move on if she knew?

I feel another hot flash coming on and grimace. Breaking my stance, I pull at my T-shirt.

“Misha,” Mom says quietly. “Find your center.”

Mom never speaks during Yoga. Weird. “I’m fine.”

Starting another position, I pull something in my side. Today so isn’t a good day.

Last night the dreams had been bad. Fire roared through them, burning everything. Everyone.

Turning and flopping onto my butt, I fan my face. I don’t want to remember. Heat spreads through me. Maybe water would help. Water puts out fire.

Mom stands and walks over before I can get up. “This is important,” she says firmly.

“I said I’m fine.”

Mom tosses her red hair over her shoulder and reaches out to me.

I don’t want to be touched and push her hand away.

Mom shrieks in pain.

I stare in shock as the welts form on her hand. They look like fingerprints. They quickly blister into burns.

I jump to my feet. Reaching out again, I quickly stop myself. I panic. The heat within me grows worse. “What did I do? I’m sorry!”

Mom sucks in a deep breath. “It’s alright, honey. Let me deal with this.” She pauses at the door. “We’ll talk in a minute.”

I nod dumbly, having no idea what’s going on. Had I done that? How?

Flames flicker out of the corner of my eye. Fire.

I run to the kitchen and get a glass of water. I drink two cups before Mom comes back. Her hand is bandaged. “What’s going on?”

She sits at the table and puts her face in her hands. Her hair falls around her.

My hair is the same shade of red as my moms. It looks like pale fire. Ours is like wild fire, curls and waves going off in every direction. Mom keeps hers really long. I cut mine shoulder length a few months ago. Dad’s hair was red too, but darker and straight.

Mom has flecks of gold in her green eyes like me. I don’t remember Dads eyes.

She looks up at me. The gold flecks remind me of tiny flames. “I was hoping you’d be free of this.”

“Free of what?”

She lowers one hand and holds it out, palm up.

I stare at her hand, confused. “What?”

Mom doesn’t say anything.

A moment later a flame is dancing over her palm. She curls her fingers in and out, playing with it.

I do nothing but stare at the fire she created. It’s impossible to look away from the flame.

Fear runs through me. Mom made this fire. I see fire, dream of fire. I just burned Mom.

“The current term for it is pyrokinesis,” she says after a while. “The ability to start fire from nothing, to control it, has been around forever.”

“So what, you’re like a firestarter?” I’ve seen the Stephen King movie. I’ve even read the book. Perhaps that’s what freaked me out. It wasn’t a very happy story.

Mom nods. She isn’t happy either.

“How…” I don’t even know where to begin.

Mom sighs as she curls her fingers over the flames. They disappear. She leans back in her chair. “In science class, you’ve learned how everything is made up of atoms?”

I nod.

“We can manipulate atoms to an excited state until they burst into flame. We can create fire from nothing by doing the same with atoms in the air.”

I don’t know what to say. Is she serious?

“Like a microwave,” she adds.

“And you’re saying I can do this too?”

She grimaces. “Yes. The first signs are heat changes in your body.” She shakes her head. “It’s a very dangerous gift, Misha. More like a curse. It’s not easy to control.”

I think of Dad. Of his burned out car. “Dad?”

She nods. “He was like me. Like us.”

“But did it kill him?” I can’t stop thinking of that movie. Of the girl who could kill with her fire. I remember my dreams of fire out of control. At least I know his death hadn’t been my fault. I just got this darn power. Hadn’t I?

Mom looks away. “I don’t know.”

I sit down at the table. My feet just don’t want to hold me anymore. “Okay. So what now? How the heck do I control this?”

She smiles a little. “You’re growing up so fast.”

I stick my tongue out at her.

“You’ve got to learn to control it. Keep practicing. Stay calm and steady.”

It’s fun when you suddenly understand something. “The Yoga!”

She nods. “It helps. I’ll help you, now that I know…” her voice trails off and she looks away. She looks tired again.

I wonder if she’s worried I’ll burn the house down. If I’ll hurt her.

Looking at her hand, I wince. I already had.

Mom smiles a little. “You won’t need to worry about doing that again, honey. I just wasn’t prepared. Our gift can’t fully be explained by science. We can control fire as well, move it, strengthen it, put it out. We can protect ourselves from it.”

“Maybe I should learn that first?”

She chuckles. “A good plan.”

So began my lessons as a firestarter.

Buy Links:

Omnilit: http://www.omnilit.com/product-banished-519511-234.html
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/44865
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Banished-Tales-of-Ever-ebook/dp/B004Q9TX4A
B&N: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Banished/Jen-Wylie/e/2940012206961/?itm=1

Bio:
Jennifer Wylie was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold. Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales. Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories. Sweet light is her debut novel to be published in 2011.

Jennifer resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her husband, two boys, Australian shepherd a flock of birds and a disagreeable amount of wildlife.

My website: www.jenniferwylie.ca
My blog: http://jlwylie.wordpress.com/

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We all have one. That manuscript. The one we love with every fiber of our being. The one we wish we could share with the world. The one that frustrates us more than anything else in the universe because we just can’t get it out into the world where we want it.

I have a story like this, a sweeping post-apocalyptic tale with multi-cultural elements and heroes/heroines I love. It has been polished, edited and shined ready for the Big Read. But I can’t seem to get anyone else to even look at more than the first ten action-filled pages. I’ve passed 100 agents/editors now, and all of them have turned it down without ever reading the whole thing.

So I’ve put it aside, as much as I love it, and continued working on other projects. I sold five novels in the last year, divided by genre into three urban fantasies, one romantic suspense and a women’s fiction with romantic elements. I’ve got three more book-length manuscripts, a vampire story, another romantic suspense and a science fiction novel all out under consideration now. I’ve sold a couple of short stories and have published many non-fiction articles, as well as keeping up three websites/blogs.

But my heart keeps coming back to my young Chinese Romeo and Juliet, destined to meet and save each others’ lives in an America devastated by a terrorist attack.

How do you decide when to let go? Do you have to?

I know some writers who cling to one piece of work, editing and carving and adding and practically bleeding the life out of it, trying to make it acceptable. Acceptable to who? I’d ask. Granted, your first draft probably isn’t good enough. Some polish and re-working is necessary to most any piece. But don’t you think that your work should be what you intend it to be, not something cut and bent just to fit some agent’s formula? Especially considering that most agents are overwhelmed with submissions, and your work is likely to be read by some junior bottom-of-the-totem pole person just out of school?

There’s some writing advice floating around out there attributed to William Faulkner, that says writers should “Kill their darlings.” According to author Wendy Palmer, “originally the phrase was ‘murder your darlings’, and it came from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch: “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – whole-heartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscripts to press. Murder your darlings”.

This means, of course, that anything that you find fantastic and perfect and the most wonderful piece ever is probably something you can’t judge objectively.

But this story, the book of your heart, isn’t necessarily your “darling.” If you’re working with an objective critique partner, or better yet, a critique group, that you trust, you can reassure yourself that you love this one with a true heart, not one blinded by infatuation.

So I’ll keep working on other projects, but at the same time, I’ll cherish my special book and keep holding it for the right time. Who knows, with enough other success and the changing nature of the publishing business, perhaps I can follow authors like CJ Lyons and self-publish the story that couldn’t find a home with a big publisher. The future holds many possibilities. What about the book of your heart? Has it found a home? What are your plans for it?

About the author

Alana Lorens has been a published writer for over thirty-five years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at a newspaper in Homestead, Florida. Her novel SECRETS IN THE SAND comes out from The Wild Rose Press in April 2011, and the second book in the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, THE ELF CHILD, (under the name Lyndi Alexander) is now available in print and ebook form. Her list of publications is eclectic, from science fiction to romance to horror, from tech reporting to television reviews. Alana is married to an absent-minded computer geek. Together, they have a dozen computers, seven children and a full house in northwestern Pennsylvania.

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