Saturday, January 22, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
Hello and welcome to the very first Date With Kate 2011.
You’re probably thinking, ‘How hard can it be?’ After all, I’m a writer – so I write! Words are my business, so putting them together should be so easy. But there are so many different types of writing – so many different subjects. Styles. Fiction or non-fiction? And who is my audience? All you lovely PHS readers out there – I know you’re out there because the stats say so. But the stat5s don’t tell me whether you are readers or writers. Published or unpubbed. Established and settled into your writing career - or just beginning, just starting out.
I remember once when I was at school, the English teacher decided to give us a topic for an essay to write over the weekend. I don’t know whether he was feeling inspired or just plain lazy – but what he actually said was – write an essay on any subject you like. You choose. I also remember how that paralysed me. Here was a blank page, just waiting to be filled - and I had no idea what to put on it. I now spend my days doing just that – filling empty pages with stories that I hope readers will enjoy when they are finally published.
But there’s a long journey from that first moment of writing Chapter One at the top of a brand new page and the moment when I add the very last full stop to the revised and reworked version of the novel I’ve written and know that it is now finished. Done. Ready for publication. The start of a new year is something like that too – there is the calendar with all those fresh, new, wonderful days stretching ahead with so much potential. Everyone talks about resolutions, discipline, diets, detoxing, denial (does everything that’s restricting and healthy begin with a D?)
And as I said in my post in December on resolutions for writers – burn-out is real, cruel and savage. I want to avoid that – and I’d love to think that you can avoid it too.
So I’m not going to set myself ridiculous targets - and I hope you won’t too. I’m going to remember that life is just a candle and if you burn it at both ends it burns out fast. And if you are too busy concentrating on work – even work you enjoy like writing - one day you’re going to look up and find that a lot ofbeautiful things have slipped by while you had your head down – and you can’t get them back.
If there’s one thing that 25+ years of writing, 25+ years of new beginnings, blank pages have taught me it’s that so long as you begin – and then keep putting one foot in front of another (or one word after another . . .)then those blank pages, the longest journey, the project you thought was never-ending, will all be completed . What is it they say – the way to eat an elephant is slice by slice.
And she never did. Not for millions...not even for a dollar.
One day, in frustration, she cried out to God, “Why won’t you answer my prayer?”
God answered, “Why won’t you buy a lottery ticket?”
And that’s it – you can’t just sit there and wait for it - whatever it is – to happen. You have to do something about it. To get from a blank page to a book, you have to write the first word and then another and another . . . until you end up with 55,000 of the things – or more. I just proved that. I sat here today, not knowing what to write for this very first column – and here I am finishing it off with 1,202 words behind me.
So that’s how I’m going into 2011 – my 26th year as a published author. And the words I’m keeping in my head are another string all beginning with the same letter – Balance – books – beauty - doing my best – and of course that important word beginning.
I know we’re already well into the first month of 2011 – but the other thing that being a writer teaches you is that there is always a brand new start to be made – if the writing has gone terribly wrong – the book is going nowhere – the idea is dead in the water – there’s always a brand new, fresh, clean page to be turned and you can start again. But do start. All the thinking, planning, dreaming, setting goals is no good unless you begin.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I have to say it was a fabulous story with endearing characters that made me laugh, cry and root for them as they skirted around their feelings until finally risking their hearts to love. Wendy’s use of language and imagery really brought this story to life. Full of angst and joy, this was a heartwarming and enjoyable read.
Claire Dobbs needed a job—and she needed it yesterday. But when the single mother of three arrived at Pine Road Ranch, she didn't expect to be greeted by six-foot-plus of scowling, growling cowboy….
After being injured in a bullfight, all Fletcher Kingsley wanted to do was slink home to Honeyford, Oregon, and lick his wounds. The former rodeo champ didn't need a housekeeper. He needed a wife! It was either that—or forfeit his beloved family home.
It would be a cold day in Honeyford before Fletcher ever got hitched. But having the pretty, spirited widow and her lively brood underfoot could change a man's mind in a hurry. Especially when sweet Claire started him thinking about home and hearth…and love?
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
There was a time when I had eight different stories going at once. And they would have all been for different lines. The Mediterranean Princess for Presents, the hotelier for Desire, the telekenetic vampire hunter for Nocturne, the girl scout cookie sisterhood for American, the widow and the rake for Historical, the grieving father for Supers, and then I had this brilliant idea to write about one family with the sister in Romance, one brother in Blaze and the third in Medicals.
The ADD shows right there, doesn't it?
Wow. Everything was happening on the surface. Great plots...little emotion. And isn't that what we're after when we read romance? That soul stirring feeling of connection, either with the characters or between the characters.
Mine said and did the right things, but even if I'd finished those stories none of them would have garnered much interest. It was all fluff and gloss. Glorious window treatments when the glass is missing.And so I slowed down. WAY down. And focused on characters until they made me feel something intense. Think about all the characters you start out hating but wind up loving. It's that intensity that keeps you reading (or throwing the book against a wall, whatever).
By focusing on a single story, which line my natural style worked best with became more clear (I hope). Which is good, because editors aren't looking to buy a single story, they're after a style, a voice, something they can count on...at least until the next change in line direction!
Jenna Bayley-Burke is a best-selling author recently featured on Good Morning America. Kinda. Compromising Positions made the best seller list for Kindle for a few weeks, and GMA did their daily top ten list of Kindle bestselling ebooks and Compromising Positions made the list. But doesn't it sound better the first way? Keep up with Jenna's spin on things on her website & blog.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
My latest release is “Champagne with a Celebrity”. It was inspired when I decided that it was time I got out of my perfume rut and tried a few different ones, and then I had this lightbulb: wouldn’t it be interesting to write a book about a parfumier? (I did a course on how to make perfume, and it was fascinating!)
Who are a few of your favorite authors to read?
Liz Fielding, Kelly Hunter, India Grey, Caroline Anderson, Maggie Kingsley, Nicola Cornick, Sarah Morgan, Judith Lennox, Barbara Erskine, Susanna Kearsley, Lindsey Davis
When the writing is done, how do you kick back to relax?
I love going to the beach for a walk (especially in winter); to the cinema with the kids; and fossicking around museums and stately homes. I also love cooking – and my family always knows where I’m setting a new book because of what they get for dinner! (I’m not alone there – my mate Sarah Morgan does the same thing.)
What’s your favorite flavor of romance? (Sweet? Spicy?) Do your tastes vary when it comes to reading versus writing?
Probably more on the spicy side, for both reading and writing; but as long as the hero is someone I can fall in love with and the heroine is someone I’d want to be friends with (so I can root for their happy ending), I don’t really mind whether the bedroom door is open or closed.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Can you tell us which ones? Were you surprised to find yourself there or was it intentional?
I think there’s a bit of me in all my heroines, to be honest. Readers have said that my books are full of warmth and heart, and I think that’s why – I put myself in my characters’ shoes and the reactions are how mine would be, if I had their backgrounds.
When pursuing that first sale, what line did you target?
Medical Romance. My husband pointed out that I was a freelance journalist working on the health pages and wanted to write romance – plus I watched lots of medical dramas on TV. I started reading Caroline Anderson, Maggie Kingsley and Sarah Morgan, and I was hooked! And then, at the age of 7 weeks, my daughter had bronchiolitis and spent her first Christmas in hospital. As a journo, I knew too much about her condition; the only way I got through it was to pretend it was happening to someone else, so I started my first M&B at her bedside. My agent loved it, M&B loved it, and they bought it on her first birthday and published it on her second birthday.
What inspires you?
Anything and everything. It’s usually something quirky that starts a ‘what if?’ train of thought in my head, and by the time I’ve finished it’s developed into a plot.
Plot or Pants?
Absolutely plot. I have tried pants, and it’s way too scary! I think this is probably the non-fiction writer in me: I work best when I have a structure in place.
What’s the best piece of advice you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Read, read, read, read, read. (And if you’re writing category, read the latest books in the line because it will help you see where the line is headed. Target the line you enjoy reading most as that’s more likely to fit your writing voice.)
How would you describe what writing is to you? (Habit, hobby, outlet, obsession, sanity saver…?)
Breathing. (I have to do it.)
Kate, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today!
CHAMPAGNE WITH A CELEBRITY, is on the shelves now.
Darkly mesmeric parfumier Guy shuns the press, and he feels he must shun Amber, too. She might be stunningly attractive, but a heated affair with her would risk the media discovering the secret that could shatter his world. But now that he's getting to know the real woman behind the celebrity facade, how can he let her go?
Monday, January 17, 2011
Anyone who has watched The Mentalist knows that Simon Baker's quirky, not-exactly-a-psychic, Patrick Jane is the man to keep an eye on. He and his acute observational investigative techniques coupled with a penchant for making uncomfortably accurate comments to all and sundry are the focus of the show.
But he's not the whole show.
And the group of investigators surrounding him have come into their own over the past couple of years.
One of the most compelling and watchable is Tim Kang. Tim plays straight-arrow, hard-ass, never-crack-a-smile, CBI Special Agent Kimball Cho.
It's a little bit of a disconnect to watch Cho week after week and then go looking for material on Tim Kang.
For one thing, Tim smiles a lot more.
He even laughs. His face is expressive, definitely un-Sphinxlike, which makes his acting ability all the more apparent -- because Kimball Cho would make Dragnet's iconic detective Joe Friday look like a laid-back sort of guy.
Obviously, then, there is a great deal more to Tim than we know about Kimball Cho.
Tim Kang is described on a Korean film database as one of the most sought-after Korean actors. He was born in San Francisco nearly 38 years ago, and grew up speaking Korean at home. And after studying the language at Yonsei University, he says he "pretty much understands Korean."
He doesn't play only Korean parts, though, and for a long time he didn't intend to be an actor at all.
His resume sounds a bit like the all-American kid. He broke his arm twice skateboarding. He likes to scuba dive. He's a bit of a risk-taker (note: he ran with the bulls in Pamplona). He was the lead singer for a rock band that once opened for Primus. And he has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
He studied political science at the University of California at Berkeley and afterwards went to work for a securities firm. Not exactly the straight line to an acting career.
But, he says, "Nearby where I lived, there was an American Repertory Theatre (ART), Harvard's professional theatre in residence. I would pass by the ART on my way to and from work, and this idea of wanting to become an actor suddenly overwhelmed me."
So he decided to go for it. (see: running with bulls, risk-taking, etc).
He studied at ART and eventually got an MFA in acting from Harvard.
But even with exalted credentials, acting jobs were not easy to come by. He says he barely got one role in a hundred that he auditioned for, in part because there were not a lot of roles for Asians in Hollywood.
But if you look at his list of credits on IMDB, you can see that he didn't let type-casting stop him.
For every character with a typically Asian-sounding name that he played, there were others called Liam Kelly, Chaplain Alan Lantz and Mr Brenneman.
In the past nine years years he's had roles in such films and television shows as Rambo, Two Week's Notice, Law and Order, The Sopranos, The Office, Third Watch, The Unit and Monk.
He's delighted with the success of The Mentalist,
The trick to succeeding? He just never gave up.
And that does sound quite a bit like Kimball Cho.
Anne hopes you'll look for her book, Hired by Her Husband, from Harlequin Presents this February. It's the story of George Savas, who turned out to be an unexpectedly sexy physicist. He also turned out to be married. Who knew? Well, George did. But George plays his cards close to his chest!
He'll be blogging over at her site once she lets him out of the lab. Stop by and say hi!