I’m pleased to announce that my latest short story, “Pigeon Post,” has been published today, even a little bit ahead of schedule.
“Pigeon Post” is a short story, but at 13,000 words, it’s not a very short one, and at $0.99, it’s not expensive either.
It’s part of my shape-shifter series and stars Kelsey and Rue, the main characters from True Nature.
If you have read other books in that series, you might remember that the Wrasa, my shape-shifters, are much more lesbian/gay-friendly than your average human. So it’s no wonder that their PR experts come up with an interesting plan to fight for the acceptance of shape-shifters in society—they want to have a Wrasa Pride Parade…and they want submissive wolf shifter Kelsey to lead it.
To find out what happens, check out the story, which is available here.
It’s been a while since I interviewed a fellow author on my blog, but today, I had the opportunity to interview Laina Villeneuve, a first-time author with Bella, who’s already hard at work on book number two and three. You can find her first book, Take Only Pictures, here and read an excerpt of it here.
Welcome, Laina. Let’s start with some warm-up questions:
Chocolate or cookies?
Definitely chocolate. One of my earliest memories is of me pouring over a box of See’s chocolates and skipping over the chocolate covered cherry. When my mom commented on my choice, I pointed out that I was the only one who ate them; thus, they would be there until the end. Strategy!
E-books or paperbacks?
This is tough since I do have a Kindle and have recently reaped the benefits of Whispersync on a trip to San Francisco, enjoying the audio while I drove and the book in the hotel (not to mention the added benefit of being able to read in the dark while my children fall asleep…) But none of that replaces the feel of my favorite book in my hand or the smell of the binding on an old hardcover. When push comes to shove, I prefer paper.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Beach or mountains?
In California, I have easy access to and enjoy both. I lived on the coast for nearly eight years and loved walking on the beach, but I hate the sand and long sun exposure. Ultimately, I’d much rather spend my time in the mountains, especially on horseback. I’ve been across the Silver Divide and have taken a string of mules through the San Joaquin River. The mountains are much more exciting to me (and have so much more shade!)
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do when you’re not writing?
First, I’m a mother of three, so much of my time includes answering various demands for food, help, or entertainment. We enjoy our local parks, spend a lot of time in the pool and love a good movie night. I’m also a full-time professor of English at a community college which means I spend many of my nights grading. Once, my daughter grumped at me when I gave her a blank piece of paper and demanded paper with writing on it, “Like Mama.” All three have scrawled on my students’ work, too, “helping” me catch up on my work.
Please tell us about your journey in becoming a published writer. What challenges did you face when you published your first book? How did you come to publish with Bella Books?
I tried to publish a novella straight out of grad school more than 15 years ago. After several rejections, I dedicated all my energy to teaching. My wife encouraged me to write for years, and we began this novel around the start of 2012. We submitted to Bella Valentine’s Day the following year, and they called us in the spring to say they were interested in the book. My greatest challenge lay in the continued revising. My editor asked core questions that were difficult to answer, and our final edits came during my finals week at school. I had my first panic attack during that stretch of revisions.
We chose Bella because we are such huge fans of so many of their writers. I nearly fainted when I saw Karin Kallmaker’s signature on the first email we got back from them, and my wife insisted on joining me on the line when we first spoke.
How did you come up with the idea for Take Only Pictures?
Years ago on Facebook, some friends of mine asked their friends to post stories of how we DIDN’T meet. I slammed out something that went like this: “I was a cowgirl riding the trails, and you were working for the Forest Service. Although our professional worlds clashed, you admired my ass.” That was the seed idea for the story—two professional women whose jobs would put them in conflict with each other, the Forest Service employee having a problem with the impact of the Pack Outfit’s animals on the backcountry. As it turned out, I had to change Gloria’s profession to give her more freedom in the backcountry, but her position still puts her into professional conflict with Kristine, which adds a nice texture to whether the two women are well suited for each other.
How did you come up with the title for your novel?
There’s a sign that reads “Take Only Pictures; Leave Only Footprints” as you enter the backcountry in California. One of Kristine’s conflicts is whether to follow her natural talent raising and working with mules or pursue a career in photography. Initially, I liked the emphasis on photography. Working on the book, I liked how Gloria used it to describe relationships that leave no permanent mark. Now that I’m answering this question, I realize it’s also Kristine’s greatest desire, to walk away from her father’s ranch and spend her time taking pictures.
What would you say are the main themes in Take Only Pictures? What personal meaning do those themes have for you?
The driving force of this book is making a choice for yourself. In the opening chapter, Kristine’s father reminds her that there are two ways off a horse. She knows: when it’s their idea and when it’s yours. Kristine is in the position of figuring out how to make her own decision, first in trying to choose between the life goals her father has versus her own desires. Just as she’s figuring that out, she has to factor love in. I love Kristine’s dedication to her family and admire her quest to find out who she is an individual.
Years ago, my mom and talked about my decision to move five hundred miles away to attend a community college. What she observed struck me. She said that she didn’t think I would have become who I am today if I hadn’t made the decision to move away from my family. So how one discovers her identity is important to me.
How long did it take you to write Take Only Pictures?
From brainstorming the idea to sending in the “final draft,” I think about fourteen months, but at least half of that was spent on two major overhauls. I like to talk to my students about how I’m an okay writer, but I’m a really good reviser. I had an okay first draft and amazing advice input from a colleague that completely reshaped the conflict and pushed the story in a more action-oriented direction. When I finished a draft for him, my wife said, “This isn’t a romance anymore!” so I was thrown back into revision. Once I’d made her happy, we were ready to submit.
How do you find enough time to write, even though you have a day job? Any tips for how to be productive as a writer who can’t write full time?
Habit and sacrifice. I got about four or five chapters written during my winter break between semesters, and once the semester started, I gave myself one evening and one weekend morning to write. That usually means I get between two and three hours of writing time, minimum, a week. I made that part of my budget and balance it like anything else. Research papers took away my hour this week, I’ll take two weekday hours next week. The hardest part has been sacrificing snuggle time on the couch with my wife. I cut out a lot of TV to increase my writing hours when I really got into a writing groove. No-matter what, though, the consistency is key. The mornings I just wanted to sleep, I’d tell myself, “You’re a writer. Writers get up and turn on the computer.” And then I would.
What’s your favorite scene in Take Only Pictures?
When Gloria has returns from Fish Creek and offers Kristine an apple. There is so much sensory detail in what Kristine smells and feels when she puts the apple up to her lips, and I love her willpower when she puts it down and says she doesn’t want to spoil her supper. I love that she says supper, too.
Which scene in Take Only Pictures was hardest for you to write?
The final scene with the bear was the hardest to write. The only real-life experience I have with a bear was chasing a yearling away from my camp. I struggled to make the scene feel authentic, getting caught up in what that specific place in the backcountry looks like. My wife kept on saying, “It’s fiction! Just make it up!” A friend told me that Steven Spielberg says write first; research later. I find that advice very useful but also very difficult to follow. I get caught up in the research, wanting the details to be right.
What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would Kristine, the main character in Take Only Pictures, order? Black coffee? Soy-sugar-free-non-fat-vanilla latte? Double chocolate chip Frappuccino with whipped cream and chocolate sauce? Something else?
If, and that is a huge if, Kristine set foot in a Starbucks, she would get a small, black coffee and drink it just like that, piping hot. She’s a bigger fan of campfire coffee in a tin cup, the kind you bring to a boil before settling the grounds with a cup of cold spring water.
What projects are you working on right now? Any upcoming releases?
I’m wrapping up my first draft of my third book. My wife says the last six chapters need a lot of work, but the arc of the story is there. My second book, The Right Thing Easy is due for a Valentine’s Day 2015 release which I am really excited to hear. I figure I’m looking at edits for that book pretty soon, so I’ll most likely be juggling polishing the third book for submission with editing the second one for publication. Oh, and my wife is pestering me to get started sketching out the fourth…
Thank you, Laina, for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. Best of luck with your new books, and I hope to find some time to read Take Only Pictures soon!
Readers, has anyone read it? If yes, what did you think? Please leave a comment or send Laina an e-mail at: lainavilleneuve @gmail.com (please remove the space before the @).
Fellow authors, if you want to be interviewed on my blog, let me know.
Have a good week, everyone!
Anyway, I used my laptop mouse for the rest of the day, but it’s too small for my liking and my wrist started to hurt within a few minutes.
I prefer a big mouse that I can rest my hand on—like the Logitech Performance Mouse MX or the Logitech G500. These were perfect for my hand, but sadly, they never last very long.
Finally, I decided to try out a vertical mouse. I never had one of those before, but I thought now that I write full time and spend even more time on a computer, it’s worth a try.
I’ll let you know how we get along.
Does this mouse-killing thing happen to anyone else who works on the computer a lot? And what kind of mouse do you use? Does anyone have a recommendation? Has anyone ever used a vertical one–and if you did, how did it work for you?
Thanks and have a nice weekend, everyone!
I almost forgot to draw the winners, so thank you for the reminder, Ann
So, just a few hours late, here are the winners of my latest giveaway:
So, Lee F. and Annegret, would you please send me an e-mail (jae @jae-fiction.com) and let me know your address so that I can send you each a signed copy of Departure from the Script and one of the coasters.
To anyone else: I’m doing giveaways for each of my books, so if you subscribe to my blog, you won’t miss any of them. My publisher is also doing giveaways, so you might want to subscribe to Ylva’s blog too for more chances to win a book!
Thanks for participating and have a great week!
Since I traveled for most of June and July, I didn’t get as much writing done as usual. But it was totally worth it. I had a wonderful time seeing the West Coast of the US, attending the GCLS conference, and meeting friends that I’d never seen in person before.
If I take that into consideration, I think my writing hours still look pretty decent.
Most of my time was spent working on Under a Falling Star, my short story that turned into a novella that turned into a novel. I had planned to wrap up that story while in the US, but it refused to fit neatly into the novella format. I’m now working on revising the novel, and I have to say the story reads very well. I’m really having fun with this one!
So let’s look at the numbers for the last two months:
|2014 - TOTAL||520 hours||272 hours||163 hours||52 hours|
|January||75 hours||60 hours||1 hour||--|
|February||48 hours||70 hours||35 hours||--|
|March||50 hours||41 hours||47 hours||--|
|April||109 hours||31 hours||48 hours||--|
|May||102 hours||48 hours||28 hours||37 hours|
|June||75 hours||7 hours||--||8 hours|
|July||61 hours||15 hours||4 hours||7 hours|
I also did about 15 hours of marketing and answering reader e-mails each month, so that means 105 working hours in June and 102 hours in July.
For the month of August, I’m planning to finish Under a Falling Star. There will also be two of my short stories published this month, the foodie romance Whining and Dining (in the anthology All You Can Eat) and Pigeon Post, a new short story set in my shape-shifter universe.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
My latest novel (or rather novella), Departure from the Script, has been out for a month now, and it’s doing incredibly well. To celebrate that and to say thank you to my readers, I’m giving away two signed paperback copies and two really cool glass coasters.
These coasters look like the clapperboards that are used in movie making and display the book’s cover. I signed them both with a silver marker. Personally, I think they’re almost too nice to be used as a coaster, but then again, maybe I’m just biased
If you want to participate in the giveaway, all you have to do to enter the drawing is to leave a comment. I will draw the names of the two winners on Monday evening (German time, which means about noon EST), so after leaving a comment, please check back to see if you won!
Good luck, everyone!
Now that I’m writing full time, I finally had the chance to travel to Portland and attend the Golden Crown Literary Society conference. It was an awesome experience that I definitely intend to repeat next year. It’s hard to describe how it feels to be among nearly 300 lesbians who are just as dedicated to lesbian fiction as I am. I had the chance to meet so many readers and fellow authors, including some of the writers whose work I admired for the last fifteen years.
Tonight, on the last full day of the conference, the “Goldie” awards were presented. Here’s a list of this year’s winners, and I’m very honored to be among them!
Best Lesbian Romance by Radclyffe (ed.)
Beyond the Trail by Jae
Three by Ann McMan
Exception to the Rule by Cindy Rizzo
In Between by Jane Hoppen
Laughing Down the Moon by Eva Indigo
In This Small Spot by Caren Werlinger
Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran
Picking Up the Pieces by Brenda Adcock
At Her Feet by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Switching Gears by Rhavensfyre
Wild Girls, Wild Nights by Sacchi Green (ed.)
Passion for Vengeance by Patty G. Henderson
Reflected Passion by Erica Lawson
Silver Wings by H.P. Munro
Point of Betrayal by Ann Roberts
Turning on the Tide by Jenna Rae
Yellow Vengeance by Liz Bugg
The Awakening by Yvonne Heidt
The Horde by Linda K. Silva
The Lone Hunt by L.L. Raand
Chopper! Chopper! by Veronica Reyes
Roses Read by Beth Mitchum (ed.)
The Finley Human Experience by Monique Finley
Code of Honor by Radclyffe
Mountain Rescue: The Ascent by Sky Croft
The Gemini Deception by Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou
Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau
Saving Morgan by MB Panichi
Shell Game by Benny Lawrence
Traditional Contemporary Romance:
Every Second Counts by D. Jackson Leigh
Homestead by Radclyffe
I Remember by Julie Cannon
Orphan Maker by D. Jordan Redhawk
Secret City by Julia Watts
Secret Lies by Amy Dunne
Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award (Tie):
All That Lies Within by Lynn Ames
Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran
Lee Lynch Classic Award:
Nancy Garden for Annie On My Mind
Congratulations to all the winners and also to the finalists!
To all of you who couldn’t be there—you are missing out, so try to make it next year, when the con will be in New Orleans!
This is not one of my “War and Peace” length novels, but at 52,000 words, it’s fairly long for a novella and could be called a short novel. It’s set in Hollywood and first started out as a short story, which was published under the title “The Morning after.”
But my muse and my readers demanded that the main characters get more attention, so I set out to write another short story about them…and ended up with a novella.
Here’s a description:
Aspiring actress Amanda Clark and photographer Michelle Osinski are two women burned by love and not looking to test the fire again. And even if they were, it certainly wouldn’t be with each other.
Amanda has never been attracted to a butch woman before, and Michelle personifies the term butch. Having just landed a role on a hot new TV show, she’s determined to focus on her career and doesn’t need any complications in her life.
After a turbulent breakup with her starlet ex, Michelle swore she would never get involved with an actress again. Another high-maintenance woman is the last thing she wants, and her first encounter with Amanda certainly makes her appear the type.
But after a date that is not a date and some meddling from Amanda’s grandmother, they both begin to wonder if it’s not time for a departure from their usual dating scripts.
For all of you who still prefer paperbacks:
The paperback will be sold at the GCLS conference and should be available online after that (so mid-July, probably).
I hope you enjoy my newest work!
Have a great week,
I was invited by Michele M. Reynolds to participate in the Meet my Main Characters Blog Tour. Michele’s newest novel, Love’s Autograph, recently climbed the Amazon bestseller list in the category lesbian romance. Check out her website here and the interview with her main characters here.
So let’s see what I can tell you about the main characters in my work-in-progress, Under a Falling Star.
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Dee Saunders and Austen Brooks, the two main characters of Under a Falling Star, are both entirely fictional. Austen was named after author Jane Austen by her mother, though.
2) When and where is the story set?
The story is a contemporary romance. It takes place in present-day Portland, Oregon. Some of the scenes include a hike to Punchbowl Falls, a stroll through the Peninsula Park Rose Garden, and taking in a game of the Portland Trail Blazers.
3) What should we know about him/her?
Dee is the Chief Operations Officer of an international game company. She’s a workaholic and a control freak. That’s why she rearranges the lights on the Christmas tree in the company’s lobby—and the star-shaped tree topper crashed down on her.
Austen just started to work for the company and is determined to impress her boss when he assigns her the Christmas tree decorations. She’s not about to take any crap from the stranger interfering with that task.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
At first, Austen doesn’t know who Dee really is. When she finds out, she already feels a connection to Dee, and she’s not happy about being lied to. Even if she would forgive Dee, there’s no chance of a relationship between them, because Dee is practically Austen’s boss and if anyone found out that they are involved, one or both of them would lose her job.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Austen just wants to settle in to her new job as an administrative assistant in a games company. After the less-than-pleasant end of her last relationship, she’s not looking for love.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
The story is titled Under a Falling Star, named after the incident when they first meet.
You can read an excerpt from that first meeting here.
7) When can we expect the book to be published?
Under a Falling Star will be published in October 2014 by Ylva Publishing. If you subscribe to my blog or website or like my Facebook Fan Page, you won’t miss any news about my upcoming releases.
I’ve tagged three talented authors who will discuss characters from their books:
Check out their blog posts next Monday, June 30th.
Have a great week and many greetings from California,
I was invited to participate in the #MyWritingProcess blog tour by fellow writer and editor R.G. Emanuelle.
Every author answers the same four questions about her or his writing process and then tags someone else to continue the blog tour.
So here are my answers:
#1 What am I working on?
I used to work on only one thing at the time, but it seems those times are long past.
I just finished the edits of food romance short story “Whining and Dining” today. It will be published in the anthology All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica, edited by R.G. Emanuelle and Andi Marquette.
My short story “Christmas Road Trip” is with my beta readers right now. This one is a bit unusual for me, which is why I wanted a bit more feedback from test readers before I send it off to the editor.
Mainly, though, I’m working on Under a Falling Star, a novella that was meant to be a short story. The main characters were just too fascinating to wrap up the story in 10,000 words. We meet Austen on her very first day as a secretary of a game/toy company. Her first assignment, decorating the Christmas tree in the lobby, results in a trip to the ER when Dee, the company’s second-in-command and a total control freak, tries to rearrange the lights and gets hit by the star-shaped tree topper.
Needless to say that it’s not the head wound that makes Dee swoon over Austen. The problem is just that Austen has no idea who Dee really is…and she won’t be amused when she finds out.
#2 How does my work differ from others in the same genre?
I see a lot of lesbian romances that has their characters fall in love at first sight and jump into bed on page 10. My novels aren’t like that. Since I tend to write longer novels (or short stories that turn into novellas), I have more room for character and relationship development. I can show readers what makes the characters tick—their flaws, their strengths, and the conflicts they have to overcome to find happiness with each other. I’ve heard from a lot of readers who said they really appreciate the chance to get to know the characters that way.
#3 Why do I write what I do?
I guess I write romances because I’m a romantic at heart and because it gives me a chance to focus on a character-driven story that has interesting main characters who are strong yet flawed. I want to write about characters that I and my readers can identify with—not invincible superheroes who save the world on a daily basis, but story people who struggle with their jobs, their families, their fears, or their pasts. I want to create plots that force them to face and overcome their problems, so that, once we reach the last page, they really deserve their happy end.
#4 How does my writing process work?
It depends on the story, but most often, everything starts with the characters. I first work on the main characters and sketch out their background and their personality and figure out what their goals and the conflicts they have to overcome are. Ideally, their goals put them into conflict with each other.
Let’s take Backwards to Oregon, for example: Luke’s goal is to live her life as a man without being discovered. Nora’s goal is to secure a good life for herself and her daughter, so she tries to seduce her new husband, Luke—which would lead to her discovering who Luke really is.
You can easily see how the characters determine the main plot.
I’m a plotter, but the details aren’t set in stone, so the plot can take unexpected turns once I get to know my characters better.
Research also gives me a lot of ideas for scenes that help drive the plot forward. I do a lot of research, maybe even too much. It can become a form of procrastination too.
Now that I write full time, I try to write every day. My daily word count goal is 2,000 words. Sometimes, that takes me three hours; sometimes it takes seven. But even on the days when every word is like pulling teeth, I still think I have the best job in the world!
Next, I’m tagging Barbara Winkes, author of The Interpretation of Love and the Truth, Secrets, Autumn Leaves, and Winter Storm.
I hope you enjoy their blog posts too.
Created by Krystel Contreras & Jorge Courbis