An Author’s Betrayal

It’s no secret I’ve always been a bookworm. I used to gulp down books like water. My library–even as a child–has always been large. Many of my books are now electronic but the library, virtual or not, just keeps growing. Authors have always been my friends. They’ve given me such joy, I often think of them as family even though nine times of ten I have never met them. I could never understand how some people treat writers as celebrities and keep tabs on all the dirt they manage to dig up on them. I prefer to think of them as ethereal beings, not quite fictional but not quite real either. I don’t want to know the dirt and the skeletons they keep in their closets–because let’s face it, they are humans like everyone else. I want to focus on their writing and the characters and worlds they create. So you can imagine how I feel when a writer betrays their own writing, their own creation.

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I used to read a lot of fantasy and years ago I picked up a book in the store which would become one of my favorite fantasy series ever. I fell in love with the characters, the world she built, the story than unfolded. Maybe because the two main characters were gay, the author developed a specialized following. LGBT characters were not common at the time. These wonderfully three-dimensional characters develop a romantic relationship which was both sweet and realistic with ups and downs, doubts and moments of insane happiness. All while partnering in some seriously dangerous adventures. I fell in love with the characters, the way the author told their story, and the intricate world she created.

A few years later, maybe pressured by her publisher or the fans, she wrote and published an anthology of short stories about the characters. According to her, the fans had requested more details about the characters’ relationships, a sort of behind the scenes glimpse at their romantic lives. It seemed intriguing to this romantic fool, so I bought the book. To date, this was the only book I have ever thrown away. I was utterly disgusted by it. It was hard to believe these sordid, crude stories had been written by the same hand who had written such lovely prose before. Filthy language, terribly graphic sex scenes, well-loved heroic characters that were now being portrayed as bottom-of-the-barrel creatures concerned only with bodily pleasures. She effectively destroyed the beautiful images I had created in my mind of these wonderful, rich, multi-layered characters. I was mad! I felt betrayed. I felt the author had somehow betrayed her own characters.

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When the last book in the series came out shortly after, I bought it but I couldn’t read it. I couldn’t erase the images her short stories had placed in my head and couldn’t face the characters I had once loved so fiercely. The book is still on my bookshelf waiting to be read.

We all have different levels of tolerance for different things. I stopped reading The Outlander series midway through the first book because of something Jamie did to his wife. I just couldn’t “face” him after that so I never finished the book and have no intentions of reading the rest of the series. What’s your threshold of tolerance? Have you ever been betrayed by a favorite author or favorite character? What would–in your opinion–make you stop reading a series you loved?

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Marcy Spellman-An Interview

Today I ‘m interviewing Marcy Spellman, the main character in my upcoming new book, Blind Magic.

Me: Good to have you with us, Ms. Spellman. That’s an awesome polka dot dress you have on.

MS: Thank you, you can never go wrong with polka dots. But please, call me Marcy. I’m not one for formality.

Me: I understand you have a pretty unconventional job. Can you tell us about it?

MS: I’m a witch. A garden variety of witch. I own a witchcraft shop called Polka Dots and Eye of Newt just down main street in town. You should visit. I have just the thing for your droopy aura.

Me: My aura is droopy? Never mind that–I wanted to ask you a very important question.

MS: Go right ahead. I’ll try to answer it the best I can. (she stares at me with her big, smoky blue eyes)

Me: Why should I buy Blind Magic when there are so many other awesome romance books out there?

MS: Who told you Blind Magic was a romance? (she giggles) Just kidding… not totally though. It has so much more than just romance. There is mystery and intrigue, drama and heart-wrenching emotion. You gotta read it.

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Me: Do you cast many spells in the book?

MS: I’m not that kind of witch. I help people in different ways, but I don’t have a cauldron or anything. (she stares bashfully at her polka dot high-heels)

Me: But didn’t you meet your man because of a magic potion?

MS: Hardly a magic potion. It was a simple tea, that’s all. A very efficient one by the way.

Me: Come on, fess up! You do cast a love spell in the story, don’t you?

MS: (blushing furiously) Yes, I confess. I did something very unethical for a witch: I concocted a love spell for myself. The thing is, I fell hard for Oliver right away. I could feel the connection between us as soon as I laid eyes on him. I couldn’t resist the temptation .

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Me: Your face just opens up when you talk about Oliver. Tell me a little about him then.

MS: Oliver Dawson… there are no words to describe him. He’s my heart, my soul, that piece of me I didn’t know I was missing until I met him. He’s also handsome and sweet and has the most gorgeous blue eyes you can ever imagine. I go all gooey inside when I look at him.

Me: Last question for you. Hypothetically speaking, if I was to put a love spell together for me what ingredients would I need?

MS: (looking vaguely suspicious) Are you trying to trick me? (she relaxes) Rose petals and lavender. I’d throw an amethyst in there for protection and healing. You can never go wrong with amethyst.

Me: You drink that?

MS: Of course not, silly. You have to perform a little ritual with it. You really should read Blind Magic and find out (she winks at me again). I have to go now. My store is unmanned.

Me: Are you telling me you left the store open and alone? Aren’t you afraid of being robbed?

MS: (laughing) Who would steal a bunch of rocks, candles and teas? Besides I have a protection shield going while I’m gone. No worries. (her bright red hair bounces around her head as she nods)

Me: Thank you, Marcy, for coming and talking to us. A pleasure, as always.

MS: Well? Are you going to buy the book?

Me: I wrote it, so– (she gives me the evil eye) Okay, I will. I will most definitely buy the book.  (she smiles) Be sure to tune in again later this month when we interview more characters from Blind Magic, releasing November 18 and available for pre-order right now.  Thank you, Marcy.

P.S. Marcy just informed me that if you have any questions for her, she will be more than happy to answer them. Leave your questions in the comments. Thank you.

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Random Thoughts

The complete title for this post is actually Random Thoughts of a Romance Writer at a Book Festival and I collected them during my latest stint at a local Indie Book Festival. Not my first rodeo but same outcome, lol. The only thing that has changed is my attitude. I no longer feel depressed after an event, deciding to laugh about it instead.

Note to self: bring a fan next time. This is fall in the South. Holy crap, it’s hot!

Did I bring enough books? Did I bring too many books? OMG, am I going to sell ANY books?

My banner is crooked. I am not going to look at it. I am not going to look at it.

My table display looks too cheesy. My table display doesn’t look cheesy enough.

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The porta-potties smell like crap. Can’t wait to see how they smell after a couple hours in the sun.

This dragon pen I’m writing with is so freaking cool. OMG, I’m such a geek!

Forgot the sunscreen. Where in heaven’s name if fall weather?

Coffee! Yes, yes, yes. God is good, there is a coffee stand.

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No, it was not this big! Just a table with thermos.

Please, stop by my table, please, please…shit! Walked right on by.

One hour in, zero interaction… Do I smell bad?

Will I get to use my new Square? I want to play with it.

Look at it from the bright side: I’m getting a lot of vitamin d today.

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No, it’snot me!

OMG, I’m so hot. And not in a good way.

Yes, someone has actually signed up for my newsletter. Score!

Great informal romance panel. Made me feel better.

Awesome meeting other authors. Lots of romance writers. Represent!

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Yes, they were all there!

What a cute little guy. I wonder if he would like one of my books when he grows up? Oh,no, he’s trying to eat my book.

I sold two books. I sold two books.

I was told my display looks very professional. Proud little moment.

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Yes, it’s me.

Why are my book earrings always a lot more popular than my books?

I have no moisture left in my body. I think I may be slowly mummifying.

Aahhh…air conditioning. Another rodeo done!

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Also not me.

Hooray For The Characters

I recently had to write the acknowledgment page for my latest book and I realized that I have never thanked my characters. “What?” you may say. “Have you totally lost your mind?” Possibly, but in this case I mean it. I owe my characters a serious token of my undying gratitude.

Characters are more than made up people in a story, figments of an author’s fertile and often feverish imagination. Once created and developed into the pages of a book, they become real–real to the author who made them up and real to the readers who love them. Most of my friends growing up were fictional characters in books.

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Likewise, the characters I created in my romances are very real to me. I feel toward them with the same intensity that I feel toward flesh and bone people. Some I love, some I hate, and some may even leave me a little indifferent.

Marcy, the witch, from Blind Magic has carved a very special place in my heart. I’ve written about her before, about how she started as just a funny side kick on Loved You Always and developed such a big personality I had to write her story. Well, it is written. Blind Magic, which will be released in November, tells Marcy’s story.

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Marcy is at first glance very different from me, but if you dig deeper you’ll find that there is a lot of Natalina in the quirky witch. Like her, I was always the oddball growing up, even within my own family. I never wore the same type of clothes my school mates were wearing, admired artists who everybody thought were weird, and was always the one people came to with their problems. I was a good listener, a problem solver, and yes, I even liked polka dots just like Marcy. Believe it or not I even had strawberry blond hair when I was younger–and not from a bottle.

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Me aged eighteen.

Her man in the book, the dashing Oliver Dawson, reflects–without going into details so I don’t give up any spoilers–a deep, irrational fear of mine. One I still often have nightmares about. Writing it into the swoon-worthy and oh-so-brave detective helped me face and fight that fear.

I may just begin adding my characters to the list of people I often thank for their support because they so deserve it. They fill my world with friendly faces, something to look for, and they are the best therapists a girl could ever wish for.

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What do you think? Do you ever feel strangely attached to a fictional character and find yourself thinking of her/him as if a real person?

The Mystery Blogger Award

I was surprised and excited to be nominated for The Mystery Blogger Award! What an honor. Thank you to  Tamara Rokicki for nominating my blog.

The Mystery Blogger Award was created by Okoto Enigma. According to the creator “this award is for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.”

Mystery Blog Award

I was asked to share 3 things about myself. I hate when I’m asked to do that, lol.

A – I always say I’m a late bloomer because I seem to do everything much later than everyone else. I became a teacher late in life, a writer even later, and who knows if I will finally learn how to ride a bike in my golden years. Now you know why I picked the name of this blog.

B – I speak, read, and write in five languages in various degrees of fluency. In order of the most fluent to the least (mostly for lack of use throughout the years): Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, and German.

C – My first degree is in foreign languages and tourism and I started my adult life as a tour guide in my native Portugal. Challenging for an introvert like me, but I loved it.

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Tamara Rokicki

Now for Tamara’s questions.

 1. At what age did you realize you were a creative person?

Hard to say. I was dancing by the time I was three and writing by ten. I don’t thing I “realized” it as much as I was shocked to find out that not everyone was like me, lol.

2. What is the strangest food combination you’ve ever eaten?

When I first moved to the US I thought peanut butter and chocolate was a weird combination but I learned to love it. I would have to say it was the crunchy big butt ant I ate a few years ago as a dare (Colombian delicacy). It was not bad.

3. What is your favorite book genre?

Hard to say. I love paranormal, fantasy, realistic fiction, chicklit…but it has to have some kind of romance in it. I read YA, adult and sometimes even middle grade and children’s picture books. I just love a great story with awesome characters.

4. Who is your most memorable school teacher?

Her name was Gravata (which translated into Tie in English) and she was one of my highschool Portuguese teachers. She was very strict, hardly ever smiled, but somehow managed to make me love Portuguese lit. She also was amazingly cool under pressure as she proved it by staying super calm during an earthquake during class.

5. What is the one piece of technology you absolutely hate?

I don’t think I hate any technology. In fact I love it and always seem to have an easy time learning new gadgets. We live in an amazing time when our lives are simplified by all kinds of tools straight from an old episode of Star Trek. It’s more hating the way some people use the technology.

Okoto

Okoto Enigma

And now for some nominations and questions:

  1. Ailish Sinclair
  2. Books, Vertigo, and Tea
  3. Selma P. Verde
  4. Raine Balkera
  5. PerfectlyTolerable
  6. Unwrapping Romance
  7. Voinks
  8. Love Books Group
  9. Paula Harmon
  10. Austen Prose

Questions:

1.What made you start a blog?

2. Where would you travel to if money was not an issue? Why?

3. What is your biggest fear?

4. If someone was writing your biography what would be its title?

5. What is one thing you’ve never done but would love to to do?

My Best Posts (or those I liked the best, lol):

Romance Is Dead

The Angel

The Life and Tribulations of a Pantser

An Introvert in the Crowd

 

Again, than you Tamara for nominating me. Ciao!

Chance at Redemption

Gwen Stevens had a privileged life until her father spoke three little words that turned her world upside down. “You’re cut off.”

Broke and desperate, Gwen is forced to accept a waitressing job, but this glimmer of hope has a price. As if being a cocktail waitress isn’t bad enough, she has to do it in a dive bar called The Den, and her bad luck doesn’t stop there. She also needs to deal with the new owner, a blue-eyed, self-righteous ass determined to make her life miserable.

Liam Sinclair walked away from the entitlement and obligation his family planned for him, vowing to make his own way in the world…

Adjusting to life as a new business owner, Liam has experienced more than his fair share of setbacks. When his only waitress breaks her leg, his sister takes it upon herself to hire a replacement—a spoiled, self-indulgent hothead with too much makeup and more than enough attitude. Gwen represents the world he’s trying to escape, a world of excess and greed that he was never cut out for.

Appearances can be deceiving, and first impressions aren’t always right…

Despite their apparent differences, the tension between them turns to a fiery passion that neither of them can resist. Together they find balance and learn to appreciate the simpler things in life. But Gwen soon discovers that old habits die hard, and one mistake is all it takes to ruin everything.

Forgiveness must be earned, but even a villain deserves a chance at redemption…

Sexy passionate couple

BUY HERE

 

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A Shout-Out to Editors

Editors. Some writers love them, others dread them, some love AND dread them. I’ve been so fortunate to work with a few of the good ones. Yes, I’ve had the odd bad experience–like the time this second language learner knew more about sentence structure and grammar than the editor–but mostly it has been wonderful.

Not only do editors save a writer’s metaphorical butt by finding all those pesky little typos and grammatical mistakes the writer can’t see anymore because she is too close to the story, but they are also her pep-squad, and in some cases, the voice of common sense.

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I’ve learned so much from my editors, I’ll never be able to thank them enough. I find myself trying to remember all the mistakes they’ve pointed out, so I don’t make the same mistakes again. After all, writing a book is a team effort. Without the keen eyes of my editors, my books would be riddled with preposition mistakes (the bane of my existence) and too many useless words. Their encouraging words always make my day and are often my “gauge” to readers’ reactions.

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To those behind-the-curtain heroes, I salute you and thank you!

What have your experiences with editors been?  Do you love or dread them? I would love to hear about your opinion and experiences.

The Life and Tribulations of a Pantser

Hi. My name is Natalina Reis and I’m a pantser.

Most of the time this does not bother me in the least. I just ride the wave of creativity and see where it takes me. But there are moments when I wish I was more of a planner so I could avoid those instances of staring into the screen of my laptop wondering what the hell to write.

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I just started a new WIP. A while back I had written a flash fiction piece for my publisher and I immediately fell in love with the characters and knew I had to write their story. The problem is that beyond the fact that they would fall in love and have their HEA, I had nothing else. Okay, maybe I did have the sketchy beginnings of two hopefully awesome characters and their personalities, but that was it. Not unusual for me. My expertise in pantsing often repeats this pattern of starting from a big chunk of nothing and turn it into something.

I had to wait since I was still finishing my last WIP. Big mistake. A friend happened to suggest in passing that I ride the modest success I had with my last paranormal romance and write another. Cai and Sam’s story was lined up to be a contemporary m/m romance. However my freakishly hyperactive imagination immediately set those two into the background of a shifter romance.

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Fast forward to yesterday when I finally was able to start writing it. After a long stretch of time researching hawks, I was ready. Right! I sat, staring at the laptop for over an hour. My mind refused to make the jump from contemporary to paranormal, no matter how much I wanted it. After a while I gave up and went back to editing my other novel.

Later that day my brain lit up and the words came to me. I was ready to make the transition–kind of like my main character transitioning from human to hawk, I was able to begin the spin into paranormal. The words began to flow.

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This doesn’t mean that I won’t be staring at the laptop again tomorrow or the next day searching for words to push the story forward because in my mind, my story plans are still as clear as mud. I would describe my process as when you are walking or driving through a very thick fog–what’s in front of  you reveals itself one thing at a time and always when you are almost upon it. There’s a certain beauty to it, like unwrapping a unexpected gift. Like everything else in life there is a good and a bad side to being a pantser. When it’s bad, it is very bad. But when it’s good, it’s amazing.

What does your writing process look like? I’d love to hear about it.

Panel Etiquette or What Not To Do In A Panel

During my very short writing career I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of two authors’s panels. Obviously I’m not an expert and this blog is merely a reflection of my limited experience and pure observation of many other panels I attended in the past.

My first time as part of a panel was at a major book event and I was so lucky to share it with two amazing writers. It was a great experience. The questions were smart and thought provoking (and hard), everybody had an equal chance to talk, and the audience was engaged throughout the whole thing.

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At that same event I was part of the audience for another panel with four great YA writers and I was astounded by the lack of courtesy one of the members showed the others by monopolizing the conversation. The other authors were frustrated and I was equally upset because the one author I was there to hear talk never got the chance to open her mouth. I felt cheated as a fan and I’m sure she felt cheated of her chance to interact with her readers.

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My second time was at a smaller event and things didn’t quite go as smoothly for me this time. The subject of the panel was something I’m very passionate about and I prepared for hours so that the audience wouldn’t get bored. Unfortunately a couple of the other panel members seemed to be totally oblivious to time constraints or be respectful of the other members. It took them over thirty minutes to answer a question which had a time limit of five minutes. On top of it all, they read from the handout going home with the audience (which was supposed to be an extension of what was discussed during the panel). Needless to say I was frustrated, bored, and the teacher in me really wanted to explain to them the concept of sticking to the schedule.

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Here are some pointers (which I totally made up for this blog) on what NOT to do in a panel discussion.

  • Do NOT go over the time allotted to you for each discussion point or question.
  • Do NOT insult your audience by reading directly from your notes. Your audience knows how to read and can read the notes on their own and on their own time.
  • Do NOT hog the discussion. Allow the other authors in the panel to participate no matter how fascinating you believe your speech is. Others may not be as passionate about it.
  • Do NOT take the lack of hands up in the air as evidence that the audience is fascinated by your words. They may very well be taking an open-eyed nap or visiting their zen place while you speak.
  • Do NOT explain the whole plot of your book to explain something generic to the genre.

In summary, and to put it quite simply, respect the other members’s right to discuss the content matter and try to make it interesting enough for the audience to feel they haven’t wasted their time.

Note: the panels pictured in this article are not in any way related to the ones I attended. In fact, judging by the smiles, I would say these particular panels were probably quite awesome 🙂

Great Expectations-Not the Dickens Kind

When you give birth to a new book you have certain expectations. One of them is that everyone should be as excited about it as yourself. But alas! You’re not J. K. Rowlings or Diana Gabaldon with thousands of fans anxiously waiting for the local Barnes & Noble doors to open so they can rush in and buy your new book. So you wait and check your Amazon page every five minutes waiting for a review or sales, getting overly excited when your book ranking goes up a few points and crashing into despair when the little arrow dips down.

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I woke up this morning with an upset stomach. Nerves made me ache all over and feel like I should crawl back in bed and sleep. I dragged myself downstairs, drank a coffee and checked my messages. No reviews yet. In fact, being Saturday, cyber space was pretty quiet. Bummer!

After the least restful yoga session ever–couldn’t get my head of my release–I came home to find out I had a review. An awesome review. I could breathe easier now.

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But it was not over. With the ebb and flow of reviews and promotions across blogs, Facebook, and Twitter my stomach had a hard time keeping stable. It was so bad, I gave a stomachache to my MC in the novel I’m writing. Why should I suffer alone, right?

I gave birth to little humans and now to books (this is my fourth one) and I’m here to tell you with each new birth there is this surge of hope, possibility that this is the one who will make you an established name in the book world–maybe even the one who may cause a slight surge of one-clicks when your next book comes out. It’s bliss. It’s agony.

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Writers out there, how do your releases make you feel? What things make you anxious and/or happy? Do you wait around checking your rankings like I do or pretend they don’t exist?

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