Camp Boyfriend… Sneak Peek

Aside

CampBoyfriendbutThis month, I need to go off-script just a little because there’s only one thing on my mind. And while it happens to be Joanne writing for J.K. today (hello!), I am positive there’s only one thing taking up all Karen’s thoughts this week too. Our debut book, CAMP BOYFRIEND, releases on Tuesday so we’ve been writing blogs, planning a book trailer, creating book club resources, going to conferences… all sorts of fun stuff.

Yet, with all the planning we’ve been doing to launch the book with fanfare, we realized we’d overlooked a key ingredient. A basic tool of promo that authors use all the time and readers LOVE. How could we possibly have forgotten to post an excerpt?

17371981Luckily, our Scene 13 day was coming up and we thought this would be a great place to reveal a sneak peek from the book. If you’ve read Camp Kiss, you will have already met Seth and Lauren. (Download a free copy here.) If you haven’t read the prequel, I think this is still going to be fun J. To set the scene- a small group of older campers have taken a canoe trip to a remote spot away from the camp where they are spending the night in lean-tos. Lauren gets a secret visitor late that night, and they visit on the roof of her shelter:

…..Seth continued to grip my hand. “Please hear me out, Lauren. This will only take a leantominute.”

“Fine. But just for a minute. That’s it.” I plunked down on the rooftop and swung my legs over the edge, back hunched, arms crossed.

All around us slept campers in lean-tos. By the moon’s low position, I guessed it was well past midnight. An owl hooted from a nearby pine, then took flight in a blur of white and grey.

Strix varia,” Seth breathed behind me. “Must be after a frog. Look at him dive.”

stars

I tracked the bird to the river. The current made a soft shhhhh sound as it flowed over and around rocks and boulders. I’d forgotten how much I loved this time of night- the peaceful, natural feel of it.

Seth’s shoulder brushed mine as he lowered himself beside me. Goosebumps broke out on my skin, every molecule in my bloodstream screaming to life. I took a steadying breath.the peaceful, natural feel of it.

He wrapped an arm around me. “Cold?”

I shook my head and edged away. “You said this would take a minute, so…?”

His finger pressed against my lips while the other hand pointed. My eyes widened at the sight of a portable field telescope set up to our left. Stargazing. As science geeks, it’d always been one of our favorite things to do together. I couldn’t believe he lugged the collapsible apparatus on the trip. Given the limited gear we were allowed to pack, he’d made some sacrifices to have this moment with me.

“C’mon.” Seth scrambled across the roof, peered into the eyepiece, and focused the lens. He looked up. “Last year we talked about seeing the Perseids together and tonight’s a good clear night for viewing. I didn’t want you to miss it. Have a look.”

stargazing-romantic-600x400He remembered this meteor shower that only an astronomer would love. My heart leaped. Say no, I told myself sternly in spite of its sudden jump.

“Okay,” came out instead.

My eyes flew to the sky. I hadn’t forgotten about the meteor shower and our promise to watch the skies together, but I’d put it out of my mind when I brought Matt to camp. But now… this was science, right? We could be nerds for a few minutes without acting on our hormones, couldn’t we? This was exactly what I needed. To rediscover my passion for astronomy, a part of me that I’d ignored all year, mostly because my dad had checked out of my life.

And didn’t that make me a lot like Matt—spiting myself to get back at my dad for ignoring me? I felt ashamed of myself and my pettiness.

Now, I knelt behind the telescope and looked down into the eyepiece. My breath caught at the otherworldly view. A streak of white light shown against an onyx sky dotted with twinkling stars. Behind it blazed another stream of periwinkle and azure blue.

Wonder filled me. I was transported, aware of the vastness of life and my tiny place in it. The familiar, otherworldly feel brought back my Aerospace Scholar ambition and memories of planetarium trips with Dad.

I grabbed Seth’s hand, wanting him to share this amazing moment.  But then his arms wrapped around me and he stared into my eyes, the stars reflected in his gaze.

Our breaths synchronized. He exhaled against my temple, making my chest flutter. I turned to tell him I had to go. But before I could speak, his lips captured mine.

My feelings for Seth rushed back with a pull as unstoppable as gravity itself. We tumbled against the roof, every nerve-ending awakening at his familiar touch. He was fantasy come to life. A forgotten dream remembered.

Seth pulled back and looked down at me with his expressive eyes. “I’ve missed you so much, Lauren.”

“Me too,” I admitted.summer6

He rolled us over so that I was on top. My hair hung down like a curtain, the dark strands blotting out the world….

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If you’re not changing … you’re dead …

And even then, you’re changing (decomposing — sorry, a little gross there, or maybe in the reincarnation line, wherever your beliefs take you …)Image

I’ve thought about this topic … transitions. And, yeah it’s taken me time to catch on here, I realized that everything is always in “transition”. There’s no static — non-changing moments. We’re always in flux, perpetual movement. And if we’re damned determined to stay in one place, the universe and the powers that be work to make sure we don’t.

So … buckle up. Sometimes they’re neck-breaking, sometimes sluggish … but always, always, always know that change is coming, good or bad. And when it’s bad, keep breathing, keep typing, keep writing, keep reading, and go back to breathing.

In Colombia, there’s a saying: No hay mal que dure cien años ni cuerpo que lo resista”  (Meaning: Nothing lasts forever. This, too, shall pass.)

 

 

Take it to the bridge …

This month’s topic is transitions, and my most eloquent fellow Scene13 bloggers have pretty much touched upon every possible angle one could think of on the subject. So instead of repeating what they all said (and coming off as a copycat), I decided to change things up a bit (see what I did there?) and post a video spoof of an aspiring writer attempting to transition into a published author by pretty much begging someone in the publishing industry to take a look at her book. In song.

Yeah.

Writers can be dramatic like that. Just sayin’.

The Power of Fiction to Change Minds

Well, that’s a rather lofty title, eh? 😉

I really just wanted to share something with you this month. Recently I’ve been thinking about how much writing and reading can change our perceptions of the world. You enter the “story world” or the “story dream,” and magical things happen. You can become another person and see through her/his eyes. That’s the hope anyway, that the book will be so engrossing that you’ll forget you’re reading.

I have a new release, SONGSTONE, coming out next month. Right now, I’m finishing up the last touches before it goes into the formatting stage.

(Warning shameless promotional plug here: enter now to win a free paperback on Goodreads!)

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Images courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

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Images courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

This was a book that, in my research, took me to far-off New Zealand, to a pre-European-contact island world, and introduced me to a people with rich folklore, language, and traditions. I was in heaven searching through images of spewing lava, mysterious steaming lakes, lush jungles, mountain streams, and idyllic beaches. 

The writing of this book changed me. It changed the way I think about culture. There’s was one point in the writing where I realized I’d pressed my authorial thumbprint on something the heroine said, using a dismissive aside about a particular island belief. (Revealing, unintentionallythat I personally didn’t buy into it.)

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Images courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

That sentence sat there festering in my manuscript. But then one day, I saw what was wrong with it (and I was a bit ashamed of myself, to tell the truth). I needed to become Kita (the heroine). I needed, as the author, to stop being me, and become a seventeen-year-old island girl who grew up in a world with no written language. I needed to be a girl who believed in myths and spirits, and I needed to go there wholeheartedly & without reservations. It was so freeing to decide I was going to do just that.

I’m happy to say I went back and revised that line. (No, I’m not going to share what it was, for that would spoil the victory of taking it out. ;))

So, I’ll leave you with a question.

Readers, do you ever have trouble “letting go” as you’re reading? How do you decide if you’re going to stick with it or simply set the book aside?

Writers, have you ever had an experience writing when you realized you were getting in your own way and needed to let go of you, “The Author,” and just get into your character’s head?

The Hustle, The Shuffle, The Hora….

Changes are difficult; transitions can be tough. The transition that I am going through now has been a year in the making, but I don’t see it becoming any easier any time soon. It has become more enjoyable and less of a stress in the recent weeks, but there is still much to be learned. I think at some point, a person needs to step back and realize that there are things in their life that they simply can’t control.

Last month, my debut novel Shattered Illusions was released. Since then, my life has been snowballing out of control…Though I expected things to be a bit more hectic than they have been. Life continued on as normal, although now I am making many more trips to the post office than I used to. The employees at my local post office know me by name now! The transition has been tough partially because life hasn’t stopped. Not that I expected for life to suddenly hand me a golden platter and say “Hey, you worked hard. You don’t have to do anything else from now on, we’ll take care of it.” There are still bills to pay, a life to lead, people to meet, a person to become, a career to develop. But, on the other hand, I can’t wait to repeat this process with my next book. The transition is a reminder that, at the end of the day, I’m still human.

Writing and publishing a novel is a dance of sorts. For some people, it resembles the hustle. For others, the shuffle, the electric slide or the hora. There are different ways to go about it, but the goal is the same. I’ve gladly tried every dance that has come my way so far. Some moves have worked for me, others haven’t. The trick is learning how to get up and ‘dance it off’ when you fail. I haven’t ‘failed’ yet, but there are times that I’ve come close. The transition from almost published to published seems very slight, but it has made such a difference in my life. Although I look the same, feel the same and go through the same challenges that I went through before my name was on the front cover of a novel, something has changed. The transition has been strange, but it has also been incredibly enjoyable. I’ve met new people, connected with people with whom I may have not otherwise…Its been the greatest blessing. There’s no telling what my life would be like without the book, but I can say one thing for sure: Tough transition or not, there is no where else I rather be.

We have to go through transitions. We have to feel the tides of change. Humans must always under go new things. Otherwise, what’s the point of living?

Transitions

Extracted.  It’s been all about Extracted for the last year.  It was my first copy edit, the first time I worked with an editor…basically it was my first everything.  Now I’m transitioning onto book two of the series.

When I wrote Extracted, it was all fun and games.  Now it feels like work.  Not because of pressure anyone has put on me, just something internal.  I feel the transition to book two is hard because I pulled out all the stops I could on book one. In book one, I had the luxury of creating a world and I could do pretty much whatever I wanted, as long as Sherry approved it.  Now I’m limited to the world I’ve created in book two. I could write something and knock the socks off my editor.  Now I HAVE to knock my editor socks off.  Rediscovering new and creative ways to continue on with the story and make it fun is a difficult transition. As I write, I wonder if I’m giving them what they want.

I guess the real issue is that I surprised myself with Extracted and didn’t realize I could write for more than just a hobby. I’m afraid I’ll let Sherry, my new fans, or everyone at Spencer Hill Press down.

I’ve been through so many transitions in my life.  Single to married, zero kids to four kids, bought and sold lots of homes, heck I moved three times in 2012, but this transition seems to be the hardest.  I know once I get past this horrible head game that I’m playing with myself, the words will flow.  But it’s like Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”

Challenging the Writing Process – With Scrivener

Theme for this month is Transitions. I can’t say my current transition comes as a surprise. It happens every summer and has been on my mind for the past several months—packing up the kids and leaving home (my office!) for two months to visit family. It’s a love/hate transition that both energizes my personal self and sets me back big-time.

It takes about two weeks to wind down from our hectic, over-scheduled, computerized lifestyle, and my writing always takes a backseat during this time. But one of the positive things about writing is that it can be done anywhere. Right? So I have to consider…

Location can’t really be my excuse, no matter how enticing the surroundings are. (Ever try writing in a movie theater when the movie is extremely entertaining? Wish me luck!)

Lack of internet can’t be a real obstacle, since I could technically put off any research until I get home. Besides, not much research happens when I’m surfing the web with that first cup of coffee at 5am—I’ll probably gain an hour right there! And I’m betting I can get more done in that one hour without internet than I can in four hours with internet.

The kids are getting older and this will be their 6th summer at the ranch—they probably don’t need as much supervising… though I really, really want to make sure they play smart. They have a lot of freedoms in the middle of nowhere, but it comes with cougars and bears and rattlesnakes in the canyons.

Anyway, back to the writing… since I’m never as productive in the summers as I ought to be, I’ve decided it’s the perfect time to explore the crafty ins and outs of Scrivener with a project that’s been simmering for a good six months now. Nothing too obsessive, just some fun experimenting to see if I like the program, and if it’s worth changing the way I currently organize my novels.

I kind of like the OCD-ness of Scrivener, and from their tutorial, it seems to break the writing into smaller chunks that won’t necessarily require intense concentration or long binge sessions (which is how I prefer to write). I’m curious if I can get Scrivener to track multiple plot lines and character development the way I hope it will. It should be interesting! And it’s not like I had high expectations of getting anything done in the first place. 🙂

So wish me luck (again)!  By the time this is posted, I’ll be 85% off the grid. I say it that way because it might take an hour or more to get a stable internet connection (if I can sit around that long), and anything with images is completely hit or miss. But on the positive side, maybe instead of coming home with lost writing habits, I’ll come home with better ones!!

Do you use Scrivener? Any helpful hints or features I should play/pay close attention to?