Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Debut Authors of the Class of 2k12: Katherine Longshore and GILT

Congratulations on the publication of your novel, GILT.  Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?

Thank you so much for having me on the blog, Janet!  It’s such a delight to meet other writers of historical fiction.

GILT is a story of friendship and betrayal.  Of cliques and wanting to belong. Of going along with the Queen Bee’s wishes because it is sometimes easier (and less confrontational) then having your own.

It is also the story of Catherine Howard, who married Henry VIII in 1540 at the age of sixteen, and died less than two years later, having been convicted of treason and adultery.

Ultimately, I was inspired to write a story that could resonate with a modern audience but in a setting that reflects my love of history.  I wanted the chance to describe the lustrous palaces and gorgeous costumes of the Tudor era, while also exposing the darkness within it.  I saw a similarity to high school in the halls of Hampton Court, and sought to bring it to life.

So many fabulous historical novels coming out this year - and here's another to add to my list! How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?

Compared to others in the business, I haven't been writing for young people for very long–just under five years. But I've been writing my entire life.  I studied geography, anthropology and journalism in college because I wanted to be a travel writer. My first book – about my travels through Africa – was 800 pages of chapters and paragraphs beginning with “and then I…”

I wrote my second book eleven years later. A young middle grade time travel adventure. I loved that book, but something very similar hit the New York Times bestseller list while I was revising. So I switched to full historical YA. And I love it here.

Can you describe your path to the publication of GILT?

I started GILT immediately after the middle grade debacle–it was the slutty next novel, ready to be written. I knew I might be onto something when an agent at a workshop asked me to query her when it was finished. So I did. I was lucky to receive offers from some amazing agents, but knew–probably immediately–that Catherine Drayton was the right fit. She gave GILT a great title (it was cringingly titled CAT’S SHADOW before) and a makeover by offering amazing revision suggestions. And then she placed it with Kendra Levin, an editor who “got” me and my work from day one and never ceases to amaze me with her insight and talent. GILT's publication story is much more of a fairytale than what is between the covers.

"Cat's Shadow" isn't bad...but "GILT" is fabulous. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

1.  Write the book you want to write, not the book you think others will want to read. You will be happier, and so will your readers.

2.  Finish the book. It seems like common sense, but it's a hard thing to do.

3.  Revise. Revise. Revise.

4.  Read. It'll keep you grounded and make your mind soar. Read outside your genre. Read craft books. Read everything. It's worth it.

Can you tell us something about your personal life–inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?

I’m forever finding new and exciting things to research and write about. When I travel to England, I always discover a juicy bit of history I’m dying to put into a novel.  This year, I’m branching out with my research – into another century and a completely different way of life.  I'm finally reaching the point when I feel like I might be able to begin my dream novel, but I can't be sure until I do. I'll keep you posted.

Do you have any new writing ventures underway?

I'm revising Book 2 of the series. It is set much earlier than GILT and includes a sexier Henry VIII. I'm also researching and plotting Book 3.  And dreaming about the dream novel.

Do you have a website where readers can learn more about GILT?

Yes! You can find me at www.katherinelongshore.com. There you can read more about my books, about me and news and GILT-related events.  You can also go to my blog – www.katherinelongshore.blogspot.com -- where I babble on about inspiration, the GILT playlist, history and anything else that comes to mind.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mima Tipper: Part 3 "When Characters Speak"

***Spoiler Alert*** This blog post contains story spoilers. Read the full version of my YA short story “Waiting for Alice” in the first issue of Sucker Literary Magazine at http://suckerliterarymagazine.wordpress.com/

Can You Hear Me Now? When Characters Speak Through Revision, Part Three
(In which Mima finally hears what Alice has to say)

I thought about the story more, about Mia more and, as the following bits from my writing journal prove, obviously more and more:  

September 16, 2008…What is it with Mia? Should I change her name to Alice so I can really look at her with fresh eyes?
…September 19, 2008. How crazy to be afraid of my writing, like it will bite me.
…October 4, 2008. Some days I am a little freaked out by “…Alice.” I just finished M. D. Bauer’s collection of gay-themed YA short stories, and it scares me a little to have imagined what I’ve imagined… (Tipper Journal)

My journal shows me having finished the Bauer collection, so I know that the October 4th entry occurred after I had my library-epiphany. What I also know is that the moment I began writing Mia (now Alice) from the perspective of a young girl struggling to understand an unexpected development in her growing sexuality, the story, now titled “Waiting for Alice,” came to life. As did the revised ending:

Three girls come in. They smile at you in that way that says they don’t know you. It’s true. They don’t know you. There’s a whole world out there that doesn’t know you. You look beyond them to the door.     
Mom and Stacey—your best friend Stacey—are out there somewhere, waiting on the other side. 
The dream dark waits, too. Black and soft and velvet as falling. How much easier it would be to go back there, stay there. Blink—what’s it going to be, Ali-girl, Ali, Alice?   
You can’t do it.You can’t stay in that empty, lonely, not-true place. 
But there won’t be any falling or diving or jumping. Just one step, and then another. 
Out. (“Waiting for Alice,” Sucker Literary Magazine, Winter, 2012)   

Examining the two endings I’ve included, the style and structure of them is not that different. In truth, the style and essential structure of the entire story didn’t change much from the first bit in my fantasy novel. The meaning, however, changed not only dramatically, but also in a way far beyond any intention. By the time I wrote the first of the drafts titled “Waiting for Alice,” it was as though I was channeling Alice as opposed to creating her. 

What writing “…Alice” has revealed to me as a writer, is that a story concept, even a full first draft, is one piece in the larger part of writing a story. I’d always thought of writing and revising as a linear process, draft after draft leading in a line toward whatever the initial inkling of the ending would be. When Alice spoke to me on that library day, I understood that revision is not just part of writing a story, it is writing the story.  That writing is more like a big puzzle, where the writer begins placing pieces—some fitting, some not—to see what the picture is. And if a writer is open to the picture becoming something entirely different than presumed, the process of revision will create magic. The kind where a protagonist will speak, as if sitting at the table, and tell an unexpected whopper of a story.  

Thanks for listening, everyone, and for sticking with me and Alice!

Thank you, Mima, for such a great story!

Works Cited:
Kaplan, David Michael.  Revision.  Cincinnati: Story Press, 1997.
Krishnaswami, Uma.  Letter.  6 May, 2008.
Leavitt, Martine.  Letter.  28 August, 2008.
Tipper, Mima. “Faerie Games.” Ms.  VCFA, 2007.
---. Journal. 2008.
---.  “Peer Pressure.” Ms.  VCFA, 2008.
---. “Mia’s Letter.” Ms.  VCFA, 2008.
---. “The Alice Effect.” Ms. VCFA, 2008.
---. “Waiting for Alice.” Sucker Literary Magazine, winter, 2012.

This series ran originally on the Hen & Ink Literary Studio blog last January at http://henandinkblots.wordpress.com/. Also a freshly updated version of my interview with Sucker’s editor-in-chief, Hannah Goodman, is up this week on Through the Tollbooth at http://www.throughthetollbooth.com/ and I’m also guesting on Lindsey Lane’s blog for “Quotable Tuesday” this week at http://www.lindseylane.net/blog/

Mima Tipper spends as much time as possible writing stories and novels for kids and teens, and recently had the tremendous good fortune to earn an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Along with being mad-proud that her YA short story “Waiting for Alice” is in the premiere issue of Sucker Literary Magazine (live now) she is thrilled that another YA short story, “A Cut-Out Face”, was a Katherine Paterson Prize finalist in 2010, and appeared in Hunger Mountain’s online Journal of the Arts’ Art & Insanity of Creativity issue, Fall, 2011. Mima lives in Vermont with her family, is represented by Erzsi De├ák at Hen & Ink Literary Studio http://henandink.com/ , and can be found @meemtip on Twitter. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mima Tipper on Character: Part 2

 This is such a great series on discovering character. Check out what Mima learned about viewpoint here.

From Mima:

Welcome to part two of my post about the process of writing my YA short story “Waiting for Alice”.  ***Spoiler Alert*** Just to tell you, this blog post contains story spoilers. Read the full version of “Waiting for Alice” in the first issue of Sucker Literary Magazine at http://suckerliterarymagazine.wordpress.com/.

Can You Hear Me Now? When Characters Speak Through Revision, Part Two
(In which Mima continues her search for the story’s ending)

 ...What I did know in this draft was what Mia saw Angie doing at the dance: 

Out in the hall, tucked into the dark space between a corner and a bank of lockers, she is wrapped around a junior boy she called “sorta cute” a couple of times. Their faces press together joined with suction cup mouths. Angie’s arms twist high and tight around his neck. But his hands, fingers spread, move freely, writhing and sliding over her boobs, then slip down, down and around to hike up her short skirt…(“Peer Pressure,” 9)
I also knew that Mia’s response (as in the original bit in  “Faerie Games”) was to find the Edmo character, and rush into an ill-fated kiss that would make her “run to the bathroom and scrub…[her]…mouth over and over” (“Peer Pressure,” 10). These images were as clear to me as my memory of the actual event. What was not clear was where the progression would lead Mia. Ideas surfaced, but none gelled to an ending.

The unfinished story draft, now titled “The Alice Effect” (Mia’s initiation to high school seeming very like a down-the-rabbit-hole experience) went to my VCFA first semester advisor, Uma Krishnaswami. She suggested I read more stories with a second person viewpoint, advising me to “go a little deeper, think about your reasons for using…[second person]…, justify them and it will deepen the work” (Krishnaswami, Letter, 5/6/08). I followed Uma’s advice, and continued to revise.  

The changes I made, however, were all about the first two of Kaplan’s revision definitions: style and structure. What I didn’t change about the story, and I believe it is important to note this here, was my instinctive feel that second person was the right viewpoint. Three other aspects of the story also did not change: Mia still watched Angie’s every move closely; Mia still had the brownie kiss encounter; and finally, Mia’s story still had no ending. What this—both what I changed and what I did not—shows me is that even though revision pushed me to get at the heart of Mia’s self-alienation, and even though her story did not have an ending, there were character and story elements that I didn’t change because deep down they felt right.     

The next draft, still unfinished, went to VCFA as my fall, 2008 workshop submission, and I determined not to work on it again until I’d received comments. My writing journal shows, however, that the story was on my mind: “July 10, 2008…It freaked me out to hear…[two of my VCFA workshop-mates, pre-workshop]…talk about my YA short that way. It was like I had to get away from them fast” (Tipper, Journal).  During the encounter this entry details, I believe one of my workshop-mates asked me if Mia was gay, or possibly told me she was gay.  I remember being dumbstruck—as my journal shows—but later being curious.  Here’s the next day’s entry:

July 11, 2008…I thought about “The Alice…” and maybe my character will turn to her journal at the end—take back that I voice in writing that will reclaim her soul.  Is she a lesbian?  Is she worried about that? Will she gain a sense of humor?  Write a rap song? I’m not sure, but she will want to get out of the rabbit hole. …Is she in love with Angie? I don’t think so, but she is curious about her and where her head is. Why it seems so easy for her just to grow and feel and be, where she cannot. Mia stands back and watches. (Tipper, Journal)

The ensuing workshop discussion about the story was vivid, and often heated. People made the more expected comments: about whether the second person voice worked; about the structure; about wanting more of Mia’s feelings as opposed to her observations about Angie, etc. etc. But what really struck me was that many of my colleagues, including the two from that earlier encounter, talked about Mia in a way that was completely not as I’d thought of her. Like a window cracking open, I realized that something was going on with my character; something of which I, her creator, was very possibly not aware.   

Back home (and determined to find the story’s end) I turned to my next revision, again focusing on style and structure. I thought about the possibility of Mia’s being gay, but clung in the end to the belief that I would have known that about her at the beginning. This choice comes through clearly in the following passage from a letter Martine asked me to write from my protagonist’s viewpoint about the yearnings of her secret heart. I chose Mia’s letter to be to her best friend, now renamed Stacey: 

The thing is I’m stuck in my head. I wish I could stop thinking about how weird everything is, how weird I am, but I can’t do that either. I’m this freaky eyeball who watches everything and everyone around me like I’m outside my body. I don’t want to be like that. I want to be like you and “just be”. You know, experience stuff without getting all twisted up inside. I just don’t know if I can do it. (“Mia’s Letter,” 8/28/08)

Choosing Mia’s letter to be to Stacey told me more about Mia’s fixation on her friend, but I chalked that element up to: first, the story being mostly about the two girls, and second, that it seemed a natural teen choice to confide in a best friend. 

With the letter before me, I continued revising, still focusing on style and structure, and now including: the image of a scrutinizing eyeball dogging Mia; lines indicating how her parents’ divorce exacerbated her feelings of depression and isolation; and dialogue and narration to give the whole story a more active tone. I also found the following ending:   

Snap—the night and everything that’s come before—tastes, smells, touches, Stacey, Mom, Dad, Alec—crowd in, all alive inside you. Makeup drips into your eyes and you rub at them, at your cheeks, until all that’s left is your face staring into the mirror, pale and shiny and clean.     
Three girls you don’t know come into the bathroom. They smile at you like they’ve never seen you before. And, you realize, they haven’t. You smile back, looking beyond them to the door. Snap—Come on Mia! 
Out. (“The Alice Effect,” 12)  

This ending’s great revelation supported my initial presumption of the story’s meaning: that Mia, as a sexually awkward teen pressured by a newly sexy best friend, chooses in the end to stay on her own awkward path. Here’s part of Martine’s response, particularly to the ending:     

I kept thinking that something big would be revealed at the end, something that explained this blue funk, this out-of-body eyeball thing. I really thought she was going to tell us she was gay! Because… because why does she act jealous when the boy shows up with Stacey? And why does she watch Stacey undress and get so affected by it? Why does she stand so long watching Stacey and the boy making out? And then… it ends. Are you sure she’s not gay? When I read the letter from Mia, I thought, maybe I just missed it and she will confess it in her letter… (Leavitt, Letter, 8/28/08)

Martine’s words surprised me. Not the part where she thought Mia was gay—after all, I’d heard that before—but how she focused on Mia’s actions. I’d described Mia’s observations as effectively as I could but hadn’t truly examined how Mia watched Stacey. Was she jealous when she observed Stacey in her new clothes the first day of school? Why was she focusing on Stacey being undressed? Or making out in the hallway? I’d thought Mia was both depressed and fascinated by her friend’s changes; what I wondered now though was, what was the true nature of this depression and fascination? 

            Next: find out what Mima discovers about Alice in the final installment!

This series ran originally on the Hen & Ink Literary Studio blog last January at http://henandinkblots.wordpress.com/. Also a freshly updated version of my interview with Sucker’s editor-in-chief, Hannah Goodman, is up this week on Through the Tollbooth at http://www.throughthetollbooth.com/ and I’m also guesting on Lindsey Lane’s blog for “Quotable Tuesday” this week at http://www.lindseylane.net/blog/

Monday, May 21, 2012

Guest Post: Mima Tipper - "When Characters Speak"


Today it's my great pleasure to welcome fellow Vermont College of Fine Arts grad Mima Tipper. Mima has written a terrific three-parter (look for parts 2 and 3 on Wednesday and Friday of this week) on "When Characters Speak Through Revision."

Thanks for inviting me to guest on your blog, Janet! And just to tell your readers ***Spoiler Alert*** This blog piece (the first of a three-part series) contains story spoilers. The full version of my YA short story “Waiting for Alice” is in the first issue of Sucker Literary Magazine at http://suckerliterarymagazine.wordpress.com/.

Can You Hear Me Now? When Characters Speak through Revision, Part One
                     (In which Mima’s writerly epiphany begins)
Writing my YA short story “Waiting for Alice,” the story-epiphany moment came as I stood in line at my local public library. Here’s what happened: I was waiting to check out books I’d picked specifically to help me with my revision of “…Alice,” and imagined having the following conversation with the librarian: 
Her: “Are these for one of your kids?
Me: “No.  They’re for my character… (motherly pause)…she thinks she might be gay.”
A silly idyll yes, but one that in a single, astounding moment opened my eyes, or better my mind, to what my Alice had been trying to tell me for the almost year I’d been working on her story. 
I walked home in a daze, imagining myself sitting with Alice at the kitchen table. Sitting with her, as I would with one of my children, her looking into my eyes in that hesitant way that asked if I was ready to listen.  When she did speak, there was no hesitation, “It’s true,” she said, “I think I’m gay.” Her words left me speechless. I hadn’t set out to write a story about a young girl’s first realization that she might be gay, but that’s where the writing path led. What held my hand, tugging me along until I could hear Alice speak (more like a remembered conversation than one imagined) was revision—a kind I hadn’t experienced before (Kaplan, 27).
My Alice-epiphany made me re-examine my knowledge of revision. David Michael Kaplan offers these words in his craft book Revision:
I think you revise for style (saying it in the most graceful way, which is often all people think revision is), and you revise for structure (saying it in the most coherent and dramatically effective way), and you revise—and here comes the way you might not have thought about it before—for meaning, for discovering what you really wanted to say in the first place, what the story’s really about. (10)
I was familiar with (and practiced heavily) Kaplan’s first two revision definitions. Regarding meaning, however, until “…Alice” I’d always presumed I knew the essential meaning of my stories before I started writing. So what had happened with my Alice?
     To understand, I had to go back to the beginning. 
     The seed of “…Alice” came from one of my high school experiences. My best friend and I, tenth graders at an all-girl boarding school, decided to go to the first dance of the year, meet a boy each, and kiss him. Fueled by vodka-laced grape soda, off we went. There, each of us found a boy. By evening’s end, my friend had disappeared with hers, but I hadn’t even managed a peck on the cheek with mine. I watched him get on his return bus, and something in me snapped. I rapped on the bus window. He got off and, before I lost my nerve, I threw myself at him. He’d just had a huge bite of brownie, and well—yuck! Amidst raucous cheers from bystanders, both of us had a good laugh and, as the bus zoomed off, I forgot all about him and the brownie kiss. 
     Fast-forward twenty-some years to my fantasy novel “Faerie Games,” where in a first chapter draft, I drew from this memory to illustrate my fourteen year-old protagonist Selena’s sexual awkwardness at witnessing a friend’s behavior at a school dance:
And she had found her. Out in the hall, tucked into the dark space between a corner and a bank of lockers, wrapped around a junior she’d called “sorta cute” a couple of times. Their eyes had met over junior-boy’s shoulder, and for a long, drawn out heartbeat, Selena hadn’t recognized her best friend. It was like in that moment, Selena saw clearly that the Stacey she’d lived next door to and been best friends with forever had run away to a place where Selena wasn’t sure she wanted to follow.
But that night, Selena had tried to follow. Like a hound scenting a fox, Selena stalked around the gym until she’d spotted Edmo’s hunching back standing at the refreshment table. Without saying a word or even looking at his face, she’d grabbed his hand and dragged him out into the hall. In one swift, blurred move, Selena had pushed him against the wall and with no thought about what she was doing or how she was doing it, shoved her open mouth on his. (“Faerie Games,” 15)
I submitted the chapter to my first Vermont College workshop, and it was workshop leader Martine Leavitt’s comment “What did she see?” written in the margin next to the first paragraph quoted, that sparked me to explore in a short story what Selena saw Stacey doing.
     As I began to think of this short story, I remembered Dennis Lehane’s short story “Until Gwen.” Lehane used a second person viewpoint, and I’d found the voice both disturbing and intriguing. Freshly out of prison, Lehane’s narrator was detached, yet watched himself with an intimacy laced with self-loathing. This viewpoint spoke to me as authentic for my self-scrutinizing, awkward teenager.
     My story, now tentatively titled “Peer Pressure,” quickly took shape around the awkward narrator Mia and her newly sexy best friend Angie. With Mia’s second person viewpoint, her voice naturally came out full of observations about Angie’s blooming appearance and aggressive behavior; also natural was that Angie’s looks and attitude would be in stark contrast to Mia’s. Though the initial novel-flashback was morphing to a short story, the essential meaning—a young girl’s sexual awkwardness—still drove the heart of my writing. Then an unusual (for me) turn: I got two thirds through a first draft and didn’t know how Mia’s story ended.

Next: Mima searches for the story’s ending!

Note: This series ran originally on the Hen & Ink Literary Studio blog last January at http://henandinkblots.wordpress.com/. Also a freshly updated version of my interview with Sucker’s editor-in-chief, Hannah Goodman, is up this week on Through the Tollbooth at http://www.throughthetollbooth.com/ and I’m also guesting on Lindsey Lane’s blog for “Quotable Tuesday” this week at http://www.lindseylane.net/blog/

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Happy, Happy Winner!

The winner of my "happy-happy" contest is (drumroll)...


But I want to thank you ALL for coming by, and for your kind words, and please watch for more contests in the near future!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happy-Happy! Time For a Giveaway!

I'm approaching a Twitter follower milestone and thought the best way to celebrate is to...host a giveaway!

And because there are things in my life right now I'm really happy about, I'd like to follow Bhutan and honor happiness. (In case you didn't know, Bhutan's economic model takes into account the country's gross national happiness. I just love that.)

If you'd like the chance to win your choice of one of my books - FAITHFUL or FORGIVEN - you just have to comment on this post.

*ADDED - The winner will also receive a pre-pub eyes-only chapter of my next novel, SIRENS, a 1920s "noire romance" due out next year!!*

First point for the giveaway is your comment. And just to sweeten the idea, tell me one thing that makes you happy.

Extra points are given for:
- if you are a new follower and follow me on Twitter and mention it in your comment, plus one point.
- if you are a new follower for me on Facebook and "like" my Facebook author page and mention it, plus one point.
- if you Tweet and/or Facebook this post and mention it, plus one - or two! - points.

Please include a contact in your comment (so I can contact you should you win).

I'll start off the happiness. I have a new novel coming out in 2013, and I'm really, really happy about it.

Your turn!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Debut Authors of Class of 2k12: Lynne Kelly and CHAINED

Note: Follow the rest of Lynne's debut author tour here.

I'm delighted to host my good friend Lynne Kelly, here to talk about her debut novel CHAINED. I predict this sweet story will garner major kudos as well as charm many kiddos. Here's Kelly:

Congratulations on the publication of your novel, CHAINED. Can you tell us a bit about the story and what inspired it?

Thanks! CHAINED is about 10-year-old Hastin, who leaves his home in the desert region of Northern India to work as an elephant keeper at a run-down circus. He becomes best friends with the elephant, Nandita, and soon realizes that they're both captives. He wants to run away and return home to his family, but doesn't want to abandon Nandita. 

I got the idea for the story when I heard that a young elephant who's tied up will try and try to escape, but once it gives up, it gives up forever. So, years later when the elephant is full grown, it's still tethered by that same rope, not knowing it could easily break free if it tried. Elephants have always been my favorite animals, so I knew I'd love writing about them too.

I adore elephants, and can't wait to read this story. How long have you been writing for children/teens? Have you written other books or is this your first effort?

I started writing in 2006 when I got the idea for CHAINED. It's the first book I've written, although it's changed so much from the first version I feel like it's also the 2nd book, the 3rd, the 4th...

Can you describe your path to the publication of CHAINED?

Yes, I spent about three years writing the book and learning as much as possible about writing. In 2009 I started submitting to agents, and in June that year I heard from an agent who was interested in representation but wanted to see a lot of revisions first. I spent the summer working on her revision suggestions and submitted the manuscript to her again in September. Then she said no after all. Even though the story was better, something about it still wasn't working for her and she wasn't able to place what it was. So that was a bit crushing. But I knew the manuscript was much better, so all the work I did wasn't wasted. I think it was the next day that I started submitting to agents again. Like before, there were some rejections, some partial requests, and some full requests along the way, and in February 2010 I heard from another agent who was interested in representation, and we set up a phone appointment for later that week. Coincidentally, Joanna Volpe called me that same day and said she'd like to see the full manuscript if I wasn't represented yet. I replied back, "I'm not represented yet, but I have a phone appointment with an agent in two days!" She read the full manuscript right away and wrote back to say she'd also like to set up a phone call to discuss representation. I talked to both agents that week and loved them both, then took a couple days to think about it and decided to go with Joanna. (And she's fabulous so I'm really happy with the choice I made!) After doing some revisions for her, she sent the manuscript out to a few editors, and called me about three weeks later to tell me that a publisher was interested in acquiring it. Soon after that, she let me know there was another interested publisher, so she set up an auction, and the book sold that April to Macmillan/FSG.
What a great story! Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Read as much as you can. Read about writing, and read great books in the genre you want to write. And even if you think you don't have time to write, try to get in a few minutes here and there throughout your day. It helps to keep little notebooks with you so you can jot down ideas or some dialogue you've overheard. Plus little notebooks are fun to buy. 

Find a good critique group and take the time to listen to their feedback. Join the SCBWI and attend workshops or conferences in your area-- even if you can't afford the expense of a national conference right now, local chapters have fabulous conferences where you can meet other writers and listen to presentations from agents and editors.

Can you tell us something about your personal life – inspirations, plans for the future, goals, etc.?

I plan to keep writing books! 

For my "day job" I work as a sign language interpreter, and I'm really lucky to have a job I enjoy doing. 

Do you have any new writing ventures underway?

Something completely different-- a humorous young adult novel that's close to home! I've just finished a revision of REASONS FOR LEAVING for Joanna, so I'll find out soon if it needs more work or if it's ready to send out to editors yet. I'm excited about being on submission again even though it's a bit nerve-wracking, waiting for an email or a phone call. But, what helps with that is turning off the Internet and writing the next thing, so I'll get going on my next midgrade novel, about an amateur forensic scientist with cryptozoologist parents.  

Fun! Do you have a website where readers can learn more about CHAINED? 

Yes, my website is http://www.lynnekellybooks.com. There's a "Books" tab there with more about CHAINED and the other books I'm working on. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Guest Post: Debbie Davies "Look But Don't Touch"

Today I'm hosting author Debbie Davies on a singular aspect of romance...

Look but don’t touch – can this ever work in love?

“You can look but don’t touch” is a statement often uttered by frazzled parents trying to control their children. I have said this plenty of times to my toddler and it goes completely unheard.

In a different context, though, would it be so easily ignored? What if someone was telling you to look but not to touch someone or something you loved? Someone you felt a burning need to be with, to speak to, to touch just once?

Perhaps you are being told to look only because the object of your affection is forbidden to you. Some cultures have caste systems; some prejudices are openly discussed, while others are buried in our subconscious and we blindly follow them. We might see someone we could potentially love but we never dare to touch. Or do we?

An emotion as powerful as love encourages us to take risks. In Any Love But Mine this is the conflict facing Acacia. She has been banished and ordered to help others fall in love but to never allowed do so herself. But a life of loneliness is not one she can live, and now she has to choose: love and live with the risk of destruction or live and die from the pain of never knowing.

Any Love But Mine can be found at amazon.com and amazon.co.uk and you can also read more about it at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13541721-any-love-but-mine