Virtual Visit from Author Emma Lai!

Hi everyone! Thanks for coming by, especially on author interview day! Make sure to read on for Emma’s surprise revelation 😀

Thank you so much for accepting a place in the bloglight, Emma! Always great to welcome a new face to my blog! Let’s get started: 

What do love best about writing? I’m a complete panster and love watching the characters and plot grow. It’s like watching a movie unfold, and I love movies!

Sometimes, I’m surprised by what the characters do, and for me, if I tried to plot then I would feel compelled to force my characters to act in the predetermined way. Plus, it makes the writing process more emotional for me, allowing me to experience the highs and lows as the characters would when faced with, well whatever they’re faced with.

I can so relate, Emma. When I’m in first draft, I feel as though I’m the reader, waiting as the story unfolds. Makes for writing that’s as much fun as reading! What do you like least? This is a moving target. Edits are always difficult, but if they strengthen the story then they’re well worth the blood, sweat and tears. Promotion is also difficult, partially because I have a hard time putting myself out there, partially because of the time involved. However, I love interacting with other authors (we have a solitary lifestyle by profession) and hearing what readers have to say.

Wait. The answer just came to me. I hate the waiting. I hate waiting while my characters figure out what comes next because once I start a story I have a pressing need to finish it. I hate waiting after I’ve sent the draft to my critique partners because I’m anxious for first reactions. I hate waiting to hear back on queries and submissions, mostly because I’m not patient…though I’m sure you’d never get that from this post. 🙂

What started you as a writer? My husband. He loves to read, yes even romance. I needed something to occupy my free time while I studied for my comprehensives, so I wrote him a story, which he insisted I share with his mother, who has some experience with the publishing world. They both pushed and pushed until I bit the bullet and submitted. Here I am two years, five releases and eight contracts later. Guess their faith wasn’t misplaced.

What keeps you writing? I would literally go insane if I didn’t write. My mind is constantly working, and writing stories gives it something productive to dwell on. Writing is a great stress reducer for me.

How has your writing impacted –or significantly changed—other aspects of your life?

I guess it’s time for the big reveal…

The biggest way writing has impacted my life was to inspire me to start a small e-publishing press, Twenty Or Less Press. I’ve found that while there are plenty of romance publishers who provide awesome feedback, even on rejected works, there just weren’t that many—or at least I didn’t come across them—e-publishers of other genres who provide much more than form rejections.

As a writer, I continually strive to improve my skills, and one of the most helpful things I’ve received, is criticism from others. My publishing house provides constructive feedback on all legitimate submissions. (Legitimate as in following the submission guidelines.) I’ve received dozens of emails from authors expressing their appreciation for my honest feedback even though, for the most part, the feedback included rejections. My goal is to help other writers be the best writers they can.

How exciting and mazel tov! I am so impressed by you taking on the business of publishing in today’s changing publishing paradigm. How did you come up with a name as intriguing and unique as the one you chose?

Sorry; sidetracked! Back to the interview:Where do you get story and character ideas? And for those who write across cultural lines, how do you market or generate mainstream, typical reader’s interest in your books? I think this question applies to those who write across genres while using the same pen name. That said, I have just submitted my first interracial/cross-cultural story. Either way, my answer is the same: market the characters. Plot drives the story, but it is through the eyes of the characters that the journey is made. Strip the characters of whatever makes them genre specific and tell the reader what she has in common with them or why she’ll love them or hate them.

As a reader, sell me on the characters, and I’ll read anything.

Me too! I’m currently reading a book and getting through it exactly b/c the author got me interested in the characters AND the story is compelling enough to keep me turning the pages. (The actual writing falls pretty far short of my tastes.) Talk about current, past and future projects, upcoming releases, maybe your ‘dream novel’? I have a couple of ‘dream novels’. I just submitted my first full-length book for consideration by Loose-Id. It’s not only my pet because it was the first book I wrote when starting my career as a writer, but because the heroine shares part of my personal life journey–walking the line between two cultures while feeling part of neither. Or, maybe that’s what I tried to write and didn’t succeed at. We’ll have to wait and see what the editor says. 🙂

My other ‘dream novel’ is a YA sci-fi/fantasy. I’ve always loved science fiction and once I discovered fantasy in my college years, I fell in love with that as well. I thought combining the two would make an intriguing read. The project has been slow going. The first book is over half complete, but I’ve taken a long hiatus from it while I’ve learned more about the craft of writing. Some things take time to do full justice. (Just hope I remember that if I get a rejection on the cross-cultural romance.)

Are we soul-sisters? I feel the same way w/a very slow-going project, but in the meantime, I’ve learned tons about web presence and social media. Please tell our readers how you juggle work (other than writing, assuming you work ‘outside the home’), time to write and all that goes along with it, especially as a published author (i.e., promo, etc).

My life is one of deadlines. Everything is prioritized based on that. I’m blessed to have a husband with a flexible schedule so when due dates loom, he steps in to take care of the little one.

If you please, talk about ‘my life is one of the deadlines’ in the comments’ section. In the meantime, kindly share the three ways you find most effective to promote your work: Promoting is about keeping your name out there even when there’s not a release in the near future. So, I tweet and do blog posts—though keeping with my desire to help other writers, most of my blog is devoted to showcasing the work of others. As time allows, I leave comments at other blogs as well. However, just as big as promoting is making sure I keep readers supplied with new stories.

Now in honor of the two-year anniversary of my first published story, I’m sharing covers and blurbs from the entire Mates of the Guardian series, which includes the upcoming Book 3: His Capture, Her Rescue. (Stories are available at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com)

Leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of any of my published stories and an ARC of Book 3–when it becomes available. I’m also offering a $25 gift certificate to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or The Wild Rose Presswinner’s choicefor rebranding suggestions left on my blog at http://emmalaiwrites.blogspot.com/2011/08/its-all-in-branding.html.

BTW, Emma, these covers are stunning. Love the colors. And the model on His Capture Her Rescue reminds me of Twilight fame’s onscreen hero, Robert Pattinson. (That’s a good thing! :)) 

   His Ship, Her Fantasy:  Ellie Woods is in love…with a ship. When an argument with the ship results in a bump on the head, she finds herself in the strong arms of Alastair. But, who is he, and where did he come from?

Alastair has loved Ellie from afar for years, but duty has kept him from revealing himself to her. When a grave threat reveals his true identity, he hopes that Ellie will choose reality over fantasy. (Read an excerpt.)

   His Hope, Her Salvation: Promised in marriage to an abusive oaf, Judith resolves to find out if there can be passion without love. Snatches of conversation overheard at the local inn lead her to a mysterious American merchant who might be able to satisfy her carnal curiosity and capture her heart.

Donovan, a Guardian Hunter, is on the trail of a rogue Elysian in Georgian England. As the son of the First Hunter, he long ago gave up hope of finding his heart’s mate. When Judith appears in his study, his inner beast and his heart demand he answer her plea for help.

Will their passion answer their hearts’ pleas, or will it wither under the threat of reality? (Read an excerpt.)

  His Capture, Her Rescue (Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press)Masquerading as an American, Eallair, a Guardian Steward from another world, is searching Victorian England for the kidnapped mate of a fellow Guardian. When he meets Miss Harriet Cartwright, he knows her for the spirited, intelligent mate he has longed to find.

Since the death of their parents, Harriet has used her intelligence and sharp tongue to guard her sister from fortune hunters, but now that Prudence is close to choosing a husband, Harriet can consider her own future—one hopefully filled with adventure. When she meets Eallair, an American rancher who likes to travel and isn’t put off by her outspokenness, she is intrigued.

But before Harriet and Eallair can explore their attraction, she and her sister are kidnapped. While Eallair scours the countryside for them, Harriet discovers Eallair’s off-world origins. Now she must decide: just how much adventure does she want in her future?

So which of Emma’s titles has YOU most intrigued? (#2 has my attention.) Any of you who’ve already read her work, please leave the rest of us a recommendation! As always, thanks to all of you who stopped in! Stay tuned for two or three reviews next week (maybe even tomorrow! :)) 

Until next time, 

Joanna

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Cozying up with Cate Masters!

Hi everyone! It’s been two weeks of paperwork at my end; almost  day-job-writing-free–for a little while, anyway! Nothing like reports looming over me to mess with the fun of a much-appreciated scheduled day off!  Today I’m also enjoying a semi-expected snow day!   School is closed so I get some freebie time to get caught up enough to really enjoy the extended Presidents’ Day weekend; as snowy as things look right now on the mid-north Atlantic coast, I might get almost a week out of this deal! No place more snug than cuddled with my computer and a hot cup of coffee to ride out the inclememnt weather, plugging away at the keys…

                                              

Chances are today’s guest will most be likely plugging away at yet another story very soon, but at the moment she is very excited about today’s release, only one of twelve (count ’em!) current releases–wow! 

 Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction. Among many reviewers’ descriptions you’ll find: “so compelling I did not want to put it down,” and “romantic tales that really touch your soul.”  Sounds like someone from whom I could learn a whole lot, so let’s go! 

Tell us about your writing roots, Cate. How did you start and what keeps you going? Writing grabbed me at a very young age. I started writing poetry at age 10 which, during my teen years I hoped to be song lyrics but that never panned out.  Not until my late twenties did I turn to fiction, and then I only wrote for myself. Once my kids grew, I had more time to devote to all things writing, including critique groups, workshops and classes. A few years ago, my daughter had a health crisis and I quit my full-time job to stay home with her. Writing literally saved my sanity (and continues to do so!).

                                    Liberation-via-pen.jpg      

How has your writing impacted other aspects of your life? By concentrating on my writing, I find my life to be much more centered and balanced. In the past, I’d pushed writing to the bottom of the priority list, and the rest of my life suffered because I was unhappy. Now I’m doing what I love. Nothing’s better than that. 

Talk about current, past and future projects, upcoming releases, maybe your ‘dream novel’? As the result of a submission frenzy in 2008-2009, I had twelve contracts last year: Seventh Heaven, The Duende and the Muse, Going with Gravity and Design for Life with The Wild Rose Press; One Soul for Sale, Picture This and Fever Dreams with Eternal Press; Liberation via Pen with Wild Child Publishing; Angels Sinners and Madmen, Wilderness Girl and The Lure of the Vine with Freya’s Bower; and Reflections with Shadowfire Press. It’s been a wonderfully crazy year!

                                 

Five releases are coming up: Design for Life will be released as part of The Wild Rose Press’ Flower Basket series on Feb. 10, 2010. A historical novel, Angels Sinners and Madmen, will be released by Freya’s Bower soon. Surfacing is a contemporary fantasy novel that Whiskey Creek Press will release. They also contracted a contemporary women’s fiction, The Bridge Between.. I literally have a “dream novel” – Fever Dreams, a contemporary to be released by Eternal Press in mid-2010 (though my real dream novel, my first, is as yet unpublished).

Currently, I’m waiting to hear from two publishers on three contemporary novels.  A historical novel is in revisions, and I plan to submit that soon. About a dozen other stories are in various stages, with my muse nagging at me to get to work!   

                             

Okay, I’m dizzy now and no less than amazed (again!) at how one author can dream up then keep so many stories straight in her head. I’m lucky on a day I can revise one story and work on the first draft of a second. What’s the magic, Cate? How you juggle real life, time to write and all that goes along with it, especially as a published author (i.e., promo, etc)?  As my daughter’s health improved, it necessitated me finding a job again. My wonderful husband urged me to go back part-time, so after getting home from half a day’s work in the real world, I put in a full day of writing and related activities – blogging on my own blog site plus monthly at Popculturedivas and at The Susquehanna Writers, Facebook updates, loop emails (which are the real killer for me! I have a hard time keeping up with the hundreds of emails, even with many on digest).

Please share the three ways you find most effective to promote your work and get others to know you!  I’m still fairly new, so I’m not sure what’s most effective. Social networking has introduced me to a bunch of great people. By blogging regularly, I get my news out there plus I like to host other authors to help them promote their releases. My web site, www.catemasters.com, has all the latest news, links to my releases, reviews, my blogs and other Web pages. Basically, I’d advise any author to put yourself out there however you can!

Design for Life (The Wild Rose Press Flower Basket series),

Released today!

Becca Lyndon puts her dreams on hold by leaving art school to care for her ailing mom. Working full time at The Flower Basket leaves precious little time, but she squeezes in night classes at the local college. When Mike Hunter fills in as a substitute teacher, she worries about a repeat of the critical reviews he gave her work when he substituted at her high school three years earlier. His reason comes as a complete surprise, but can she trust him? Or will he disappear like her father? When that possibility looms all too real, she’s determined never to let the design for her life unravel again. Following her bliss requires work, but pays off in more ways than she ever imagined. She also learns that one door might close, but another can open—and lead to unexpected opportunities.

The homey atmosphere in the shop always unraveled Becca’s wound nerves. Walking to the counter, she reached into her handbag, oversized to double as a briefcase to carry her art supplies. Her presentation last night had gone well, but she hoped this morning’s would surpass it.

“If you have a minute, can you take a look at these designs and let me know what you think? I used them for my class project last night.”

Grace laid a hand on her arm, her face alight. “Did you wow them?”

With a grin, Becca pulled out her sketch pad. “Not exactly. But Mr. Hunter said they were good.”

Her brow furrowed, Donica stepped next to her. “Who’s Mr. Hunter?”

“A substitute teacher.” Her words came out in a sing-song tone.

Steffie clucked her tongue. “Something about the way you say that makes me think he’s kinda cute.”

Becca couldn’t help but smile. “Not kind of. Very.”

At home last night, she found herself sketching Mike Hunter. His dark hair, tapering to the top of his collar, made her want to run her fingers through its waves. She wanted to remove his black rectangular-framed glasses, peer into his dark brown eyes that sparkled when his gaze met hers. Press her lips against his and push his corduroy jacket from his shoulders. Drawing his features gave her a sense of intimacy, one she wanted to experience.

Hoping the women didn’t notice, Becca fanned the warmth from her neck.

Thank goodness they were too busy laughing. Since she’d been hired at The Flower Basket, the three co-owners had come to feel like her sisters. Warm. Supportive. On the days she had to bring Mom to her doctor appointments, all encouraged her not worry about them, even though the shop had attracted so much new business, they sometimes put in sixteen hours.

Becca hoped to give something back. Something worthwhile.

A pleasure to have you stop by, Cate! Best of luck with Design for Life,  your multitude of upcoming releases and all your works-in-progress! Having you here has been an inspiration!

Next week, multi-faceted, Golden Heart Finalist Rebecca J. Clark stops in!  Until next time, my friends: have a wonderful day!

Joanna