Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Author Interview - Theresa Ragan

Let's welcome Theresa Ragan, author of Abducted, Dead Weight, Return of the Rose, A Knight in Central Park, Finding Kate Huntley, Having My Baby, and Taming Mad Max.  Theresa, thanks for answering some questions!

  1. What were your favorite books growing up? When I was younger my favorite book was Where the Red Fern Grows. Later on, I loved reading books by Stephen King and John Grisham and then I read Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor and I fell in love with romance novels. My favorite authors include Susan E. Phillips, Lisa Gardner and Laura Lippman.
  2. Now that you have, let’s say—some life experience, what would you tell your younger self? Read everything you can get your hands on. Read every day.
  3. Describe your typical day. I wake up around 5:30 a.m. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I go to the gym for an hour. Exercise helps me mentally and physically. I’m usually sitting at my computer by 10 a.m. I respond to emails and then begin working on my current work in progress. I don’t like to allow myself any breaks until my 1,000 words for the day are finished. Of course, I stop for lunch. 5,000 words is the maximum for the day, 2,000 words is my average. I tend to check twitter and facebook once or twice during the day, but I rarely spend more than thirty minutes on social media.
  4. Who is your favorite character in your books? I adore Derek Vanguard in Return of the Rose and Hayley Hansen in my Lizzy Gardner series. Both characters are trying to overcome painful childhoods and they are good people.
  5. What do you do when writer’s block shows up, settles in, and makes itself comfortable? I ignore it. I keep on writing, maybe even skip to a scene that sounds more appealing. If the writing isn’t flowing I will just have to fix it later. I cannot allow myself to get up from my chair. This is my job. It’s what I do. Being a writer is great when you feel like writing. There’s nothing better than finishing a novel. Writing is my passion, but it’s not a career for the faint of heart. No matter how much you love your story, not everyone is going to like it. Writing is difficult and challenging. I love a challenge. I can’t imagine ever doing anything else. I’m excited to wake up every morning and write. Say NO to writer’s block.
  6. Do you find yourself pulling details from “real life” or does your imagination rule the roost? My imagination rules the roost, but when I re-read my stories, I do realize I tend to use “real life” details. For instance, my characters might eat lunch and it just happens to be what I just ate. J Or my cat hops onto my lap and then the cat in my story jumps into my character’s lap, too.
  7. What was the first manuscript you wrote (even if it never saw the light of day)? Return of the Rose is the book I refer to as my Writing Romance 101 class--a five year class. What a journey! That poor book has been through hundreds of overhauls. It has been critiqued by NY editors and agents and critique partners. It has had characters added and deleted. It has gone through many title changes. But I love that book best and it will probably always be my baby. I woke up crying after dreaming about how ROTR was going to end. I grabbed a notebook and started writing the scene down on paper. ROTR finaled in the Golden Heart more than once and I managed to snag my first agent with Return of the Rose.
  8. Have you ever pursued traditional publishing? Or did you go straight for indie publishing? I did everything I could do to get traditionally published. In fact, my husband suggested I self-publish years before I finally went for it. My only regret is not becoming an indie author sooner.
  9. What Works In Progress are brewing? Any target dates for publication? I have so many books I am excited to get back to. I sold my Lizzy Gardner series to Thomas & Mercer and I begin edits on October 22, 2012. This book is much darker than the first two books in the series, Abducted and Dead Weight and will be released in June of 2013. I have two contemporary romances that will be published before the end of 2012. And I am excited to finish another time travel romance that has been waiting forever for its turn.
  10. How can fans reach you?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Do you suffer from Sardoodledom?

There I was, putzing on the Internet as The Hubby played his game online (yes, we believe in spending quality time together!).  As one often does, I was reading the dictionary online.  What - don't you do that? Oh, well...anyway, technically it wasn't the dictionary but the dictionary newsletter, which is just as interesting as the dictionary - but shorter.

So I'm cruising around the newsletter and found Word History of the Month. In doing so, I have gained a new vocabulary word - Sardoodledom.  What is Sardoodledom, you may ask? (Spellchecker is asking, because it wants me to change Sardoodledom to sardonically - not exactly a ringing endorsement for the accuracy of spellchecker!).  Well, Sardoodledom refers to  "mechanically contrived plot structure and stereotyped or unrealistic characterization in drama" and is a blend of the last name of 19th-century French playwright Victorien Sardou, who was famously criticized by George Bernard Shaw for the staginess of his plays, and English doodle, plus the suffix "-dom."

I'd say this is a great word to know. And for you writers, to avoid.

Don't come down with a case of the could be contagious!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Time to take the mantle off the mantel

Here's a little used word, or at least, one I don't use often: mantle.  Or mantel for that matter.

One is a shelf over a fireplace. 

I have a gas stove, so no mantel for me. 

The other mantle actually has several definitions: 

It can be a loose, sleeveless cape
It can be something that covers, envelopes, or conceals - the mantle of darkness
It can be the section of earth between the crust and the core
It has several scientific uses - in zoology, metallurgy,  ornithology
And, if you are so inclined, you could also think of Mickey Mantle.

But one thing I remember - or maybe haunts me - is from my high school Latin class.  I translating something and having the hardest time figuring out what a mantle didn't make sense in the story I was working on.

But a specialized use of mantle I remember from family campouts.  I remember being admonished to be careful with the mantle for the Coleman lantern.

Maybe I should go camping more often!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Eyes Have It...Discreet vs. Discrete

Ok, folks, here's today's lesson on the difference between Discreet and Discrete.

Discreet: having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech : prudent; especially : capable of preserving prudent silence.

Discrete: constituting a separate entity : individually distinct <several discrete sections>

Well, that's the dictionary's take on it.  I tend to think of discreet as something almost secretive, something you don't want to draw attention to.  He discreetly handed the key to the girl.  I discreetly dabbed at the spill on the counter.  It's an action, something you'd have to pay attention to really see.  Blink and you miss it.  Think of eyes watching you...did they see you?

Discrete always reminds me of concrete.  It's a solid, separate entity.  Like blocks.  And it's the usage I hardly ever need.  

After all, it's the subtle things that can make a real difference, right?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012