October 31, 2009

Behold The Dawn by KM Weiland - Interview & Giveaway!


I am privileged to share with you author K.M. Weiland, who has a new release, Behold The Dawn, just out. Enjoy what she has to say about her book and her writing life.

• Congratulations on your new release, Behold The Dawn! I know it must be thrilling to have another book published. Could you tell us about your story?

Behold the Dawn is a medieval epic, set against the backdrop of the Third Crusade at the end of the 12th century. It tells the story of Marcus Annan, a renowned competitor in the brutal tourneys—the huge mock battles that remained wildly despite being banned by more than one pope. Annan, haunted by the secrets of his past, is confronted by a mysterious monk who demands that Annan help him seek vengeance for a wrong committed sixteen years earlier. Against his will, Annan is drawn into the conflict, and he journeys to the Crusade in the Holy Land, where he rescues the widow of an old friend and attempts to deliver her to safety in Orleans. But he soon discovers that the past he’s been running from is finally catching up, and if he hopes to survive, he has no chance but to face it.

• What made you pick the medieval time period for Behold The Dawn?

I adore the Middle Ages. There is such an epicness about this period in time. I think you could write the smallest, quietest, most intimate story imaginable, and if you set it in the Middle Ages, it would still end up feeling epic! I suppose I’m particularly drawn to the medieval period because of its strange juxtaposition of brutal wars and romantic social mores. I love the swords and the horses, the beautiful gowns and the eccentric language. It’s a world apart—utterly alien from our own society, and yet eerily familiar in some ways.

• How long have you been writing? Tell us about your road to publication.

Stories have run amok in my brain for as long as I can remember, and I started writing them down when I was eleven or twelve. I produced a newsletter called Horse Tails for five years during high school and learned so much about story form, editing, structure, grammar, you name it. Novels were just a natural progression. I’ve written hundreds of short stories, but I prefer the novel as a form, simply because it allows us a longer, fuller arc. I wrote four truly horrible (although still dear to my heart!) novels before finally hitting a new stride and churning out my first publishable novel A Man Called Outlaw.

• Do you write in other genres? If so, what have you written?

I’ve written a fantasy story about a man who discovers that his dreams are really memories of another world. Settling down to do some serious editing on it is my next project. Look for it in print in a few years!

• What is your daily writing schedule?

I write for two hours, five days a week, from four p.m. to six. I spend the first thirty minutes “warming up,” pulling my mind away from the distractions of the day and getting myself into a creative mood. I’ll write in my project journal, read something instructive about the craft, review character and scene notes, and proofread what I wrote the day before. Then I turn on a soundtrack and get to work!

* I'm struck by the fact that you only spend 2 hours, 5 days a week on writing. Do you have a full time job? Part time? How can you work on revisions, write on your current WIP, AND have the time to outline your next project, all in 10 hours a week? I find that fascinating!

I work part-time as a church secretary, so I do have some extra time to focus on my marketing and my "extra" projects, including revisions of previously written stories. For the most part, my two hours of writing time each day is focused solely on my WIP. I'm a pretty slow worker, really. It can take me three years to see a story to completion. But, to coin a phrase, slow and steady wins the race. I don't think the quantity of work you produce each day is as important as the sheer consistency of setting aside a parcel of time, no matter how small, to write every single day. Best-selling novels have been written as little as one paragraph a day!

• What does your writing space look like?

I have what I call a “computer cabinet.” Not sure what the proper term is, but it’s basically a big armoire with the computer on a shelf and the keyboard and printer on pullout trays beneath. It’s great because I can close the doors at night and shut away my cluttered stacks of resource books and note papers. It has bulletin boards on the insides of both the doors, and I’ve covered them with inspirational quotes and photos and who knows what else! I have wind chimes and a sword letter opener pinned up right now.

• What advice can you give to writers seeking publication?

First, write. Then, rewrite. Those are the two single most important keys. If you don’t finish your first draft, nobody is going to read it. And if you don’t polish your first draft (and second and third), no agent is going to read it. I see a lot of young writers who dash off their first drafts, read them over once, have their mothers read it, then stuff them in manila envelopes and send them off, convinced their work is over. But as someone famously said, “Novels aren’t written. They’re rewritten.” Agents are looking for quality. And the only way to produce quality is to first finish your manuscript, then polish the heck out of it.

• What has brought you the most joy in your writing? What has been the most difficult aspect of writing?

Writing itself brings me joy. When a scene is just right, when the characters are flying solo with barely a glance at me for confirmation that they’re doing the right thing—it’s magic. Whenever I get this breathless feeling, this skip in my diaphragm (I call it “my chest collapsing”), I know I’ve aced a scene. It’s wonderful. Life doesn’t get any better than that!

The most difficult moments are always those when I’m 150 pages into a story and every word I write feels like absolute dreck. Never fails. I’m always sure, halfway though, that whatever story I’m working on is the worst I’ve ever written. But somehow, by dint of hard work and the grace of God, everything always pulls together in the end.

• Have you started your next project? Or do you have several in the works?

I have several projects in the works, including the completed fantasy, Dreamers Come, which I mentioned earlier. I also just started outlining my next project, a historical novel called The Deepest Breath about the passion, betrayal, and vengeance that dog two men and the woman they both love through the trenches of World War I, corruption in colonial Kenya, and the criminal underbelly of London. And I’m also working on a fun co-writing project that asks, “What if Robin Hood met Sleeping Beauty?”

• I have one last fun question for you. If you were granted three wishes, what would they be? These are to be indulgent, guilt-free wishes! (Our family’s spiritual and physical health are always on the list. . .these are wishes just for you!)

Oh, goodie! A fairy godmother! Just what I always wanted. Let me see…

1. An isolated cabin in a warm, beautiful, secluded area (but not so secluded that it doesn’t have wi-fi!).
2. Unlimited energy. You know those people who run around like they’re on a caffeine high all the time? I would love to be one of them!
3. A lifetime’s supply of macaroni and cheese—the world’s greatest comfort food! (And also some kind of health indemnity that would let me get away with eating a life’s supply!)
Don't forget to leave your email addy if you want your name in the draw for a copy of Weiland's new book, Behold The Dawn. Make sure to leave it in a safe way, such as: sherrinda(at)gmail(dot)com
Names will be placed in a random number program and the winner will be chosen Wednesday, November 4. I'm sorry, but U.S. citizens only. :(









October 30, 2009

I'm Back on Fatless Friday!


I've been gone for almost 2 weeks and my goodness, it has flown by. But oh, it was good for me. I spent time in the mornings with God, instead of searching through blogs and emails. I spent time relaxing in the evenings, trying to unwind from an extremely taxing time at work. (State data collection is today and I have been feverishly working to make sure there are no errors...bleh)

So, here are a couple of things to catch you up on. My daughter had a birthday Tuesday and turned 17 years old. Isn't she cute with her brothers? They are so goofy and we rarely get serious pictures in our family. :) And no, she is not super short. The boys are just extremely tall. We had a family dinner and her two older brothers and sister-in-law (not pictured, sad to say) came over for food and fun.

Also, I have lost some more weight, giving me a total weight loss of 16 pounds!!!! How cool is that? I'm just thrilled my clothes are feeling better on me. I'm not ready for a smaller size yet, but soon, I think.

I've been thinking through an idea for a book series. Contemporary romance. Weird for me, but the idea is consuming me. I had thought to join in the fun with the NaNo month, but I just haven't gotten a good plot yet. I've done the character sketches for the main characters, but haven't gotten "the map" laid out. And to do NaNo...I would HAVE to have a map.

I've missed all my blogging friends and hope to slip back into a more palatable schedule. I hope to get reaquainted with you all! :)


ALERT!!!!! I am interviewing K.M. Weiland, author of Behold The Dawn, tomorrow. You will enjoy getting to know her better and will have the chance to enter for a copy of her new release! Stop by for your chance to win!



October 17, 2009

Unplugged

I don't know when unplugged week is, but I am going offline for awhile. A week at least, if not more. I just feel God pulling me close and needing me to leave behind distractions. The evil one has been active and bombarding me lately and I need to gird myself with God's strength and power.

I will miss you all, but I know you understand. I could consider it an honor if you would pray for me. I will be back in time.


October 16, 2009

Fatless Friday

I was dreading getting on the scale this week. I'd eaten out 4 times this week, which is a difficult thing to do when you are trying to lose weight. I tried to make good choices and really cut back the rest of the day, but I was nervous. I thought I had totally blown it. I guess it evened out though, because I ended up losing another 1.8 pounds! That gives me a total of 13.8 pounds! Yep. Feels good, too.

Real good.



It is really rather amazing at how successful you can be when you really put your mind to it. When you focus and expend a little energy in something, it is awesome what you can accomplish. It just takes a little effort every day. Sure you might, mess up, get distracted, lose your focus and fail to stick to your goal for the day, but you know what? You get another day to start over.

Isn't this like writing? All it takes is a little bit every day. An hour a day. A page a day. 500 words a day. How about 1000 words a day? Steady progress is better than no progress, right? We may have days where we slip and get distracted. Sure, we may have bad days that make it impossible to put pen to paper, but hey...there's another day coming!

Now, if I could just take my own advice! lol No, really, I'm not laughing.
I need your prayers. My work has been unusually stressful this year. It is very taxing and draining, and I find that all I want to do when I get home is NOTHING! Please pray that God lifts me out of this slump. Please pray that things can change someway, somehow, so that the work load eases. Please pray that God's spirit would fill me with His energy, His joy, and His peace.
Have an awesome weekend!


October 12, 2009

Life Passing By


I went on a short trip to see my 93 year old grandmother yesterday. She was in town visiting my parents, who live an hour away. She wanted to take us out for lunch and so we went to Babe's, a family style, home cookin' kind of place. GREAT food, but oh my, the music was so incredibly loud, we had to shout at each other.

My grandmother has lived a long life and has experienced alot. She was a minister's wife for over 50 years, until Papaw passed away. She is an incredibly hard worker and spent her life to serve others. She hasn't any huge accomplishments to her name other than being a great wife, mother, and servant of God. I know, it is a HUGE accomplishment. A life to be proud of.

I look at my life and wonder what in the world am I doing? Will life pass me by so fast that I feel like I have accomplished nothing? Am I really contributing to the world? Does it matter what I do? What does writing have to do with anything in the grand scheme of things? It is such a solitary pastime and a preacher's wife should not live a life in seclusion, should she?

Sigh, I think the week of low clouds and no sun is affecting my mood. I would sing an Annie song, but I know for a fact it is supposed to rain once again tomorrow. Thanks for letting me wear my Doubting Pants today and spew forth from my well of gloom.


October 09, 2009

Fatless Friday!


I really worked hard at eating right this week and it paid off with another 3.8 pounds lost at my weigh in! This gives me a total of 12 pounds lost! That is like a small dog! lol The best part is I am starting to notice it in my jeans. Before, after I washed my jeans, they would be so tight I would have to lay on the bed to zip them up. I would then dampen the seat and legs and sit for awhile to loosen them up. (for a little comfort, you know) What a long process just to wear jeans! Yesterday, I pulled on my jeans, zipped and buttoned them with ease, and lo and behold, there were wrinkles and a little space in the leg area! Sigh...what a blessed day!

Speaking of blessed days...yesterday I worked until 10 a.m., then took the rest of the day off. I went for a skin check up at the dermatologist (where they biopsied 2 moles), and then went to see a movie! You all know how I have complained about my work load this year, so taking a day was pure bliss.

I saw Love Happens, with Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart and it was good. Not your typical happy-go-lucky love story. It had depth and dealt with the issue of loss of a loved one. I couldn't help but notice that Jennifer stayed entirely clothed from head to toe for the entire movie! I wonder if it the age of the actors...no, that's not it, because Sandra Bullock stripped down for all to see in her last movie The Proposal. I will say that it was refreshing to not have any bedroom scenes and to see more of the development of the relationship.

I did notice that the beginning of the movie was all about Aaron Eckhart and took FOREVER to get Jennifer Aniston on the screen. It made me think of writing romance and how you are supposed to get the hero and heroine together sometime during the first chapter. I did not do that in my ms. Well, I did at the very last paragraph, but you don't really know it is the hero. (you just know the heroine is getting saved from the hands of ruffians...while she is passing out) You meet the hero in the second chapter. I thought it worked, but maybe I need to rethink that.

Whew, I am rambling today, so let me ask a question for you writers out there. Do your hero and heroine enter during the first chapter? Do you think it is really necessary?


October 07, 2009

What To Do With Exposition?


I'm working through Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell and I got to the part about exposition, otherwise known as The Information Dump!


Bell has three rules for handling exposition.



  1. Act first, explain later. Get the character moving at the beginning of your story. A reader will follow a character without demanding to know more if they are engaged with the character and what the character is doing. You can divulge information bit by bit as you go along.

  2. When you explain, do the iceberg. Don't tell everything you know right away. Give 10%, just enough to help the reader know what is going on and then save the 90% for later on in the story. Reveal the rest a little at a time.

  3. Setting information inside confrontation. Sometimes the best way to reveal information is to set it in the midst of great conflict. A character's thoughts or even dialogue are great ways to toss information to the reader.

I am thoroughly enjoying this book. It is full of excellent information, told in a way that I can understand and grasp. It will definitely be one of my go-to books!


The iceberg rule was my favorite. Icebergs are deceptive and reveal little of the true nature of the beast! Catastrophe happens before you know it and you find yourself sinking fast!This could prove invauable to our characters. We should keep much of the back story hidden, giving just enough to hint at something mysterious and quite possibly dangerous! (I feel an evil laugh coming on.)


Strangely enough, I find that I am like an iceberg at times! Just letting a little of the real me show, because I am afraid of what others might really think if they see what's below the surface. I wonder how many of us are like that. I wonder how many of our characters are like that.


What I really wonder is what Jeannie The Character Therapist might say to that! lol



October 05, 2009

The Journey of A Second-Born

My second child started school today. He was accepted into the Animation program at the Dallas Art Institute and his first day is today. He is a talented artist and my prayer is that he will blossom and succeed in this love of his.

It is a 45 minute drive from our house to the school, with no traffic. Of course, in Dallas, there is always a ton of traffic! We live in Fort Worth and the school is on the far side of Dallas, so he has moved in with my husband's parents in Dallas to make the trip easier. He will come home on the weekends, so it is not like he has really moved out. At least no completely.

It is a stepping stone. A new beginning. A part of a new journey. Who doesn't love the first uncertain steps of a fresh start? The start of a new path. The not-knowing. There is excitement in the newness. A thrill of the unknown.

Such is life, isn't it? Such is the journey of a writer, don't you think? Each new book begins yet another journey. There may be a little fear involved. (Am I really capable of spitting out another volume of words? Do I really have an idea that can sustain itself through 60-80,000 words? Can I do this again or am I a one hit wonder?)

Yes, I admit it. I have a bit of fear in this new beginning. But then I tell myself there is always fear in new beginnings. Yes, there is excitement, but there will always be doubts and I need to let myself go and dive into the wonder of a fresh journey.

Thanks for letting me ramble about the new journeys in my family. :)



October 02, 2009

Fatty Friday & Loving Book Covers!

As you can see by my title, my weigh in did not go well, but I'm not going to whine. I gained .4 pounds, which "could" have been due to the fact that I was wearing jeans instead of something more lightweight like I had been. Nonetheless, I ate out more and gave into the bread. I cannot pass up a hot, steamy roll, golden and glistening with what looks to be decadent butter. What is it with the carbs anyway? But here's to a new day. A new week. Discipline and will power is mine, I say.

I was thinking a post about the worst book covers ever would be a great idea. And it really is, except for the fact that alot of the covers I found are not appropriate. Seriously, my husband and I were crying with laughter over some of these covers. Oh my, I sure with I could post some. But alas, my tender sensibilities keeps me in line and I shall refrain.

So, I thought I'd share some covers that I absolutely love.


These are just a few of my favorite covers. I haven't read all of them, but I just think they are lovely and would make me pick them up off the shelf.
What kinds of covers are you drawn to?


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