Making the Pulse Race vs. Setting Expectations

Pictures. I love looking at them…the backgrounds, people’s facial expressions and body language. And right now, I’m looking at a ton of them.

You see, this past week I began working with a designer on coming up with the cover imagery for my new book, The Muse Unlocked.

We have a little bit of time since it’s not planned for release until late May/early June but still, it’s definitely a much more daunting task than I anticipated.

For one thing, I have this visual in my head of what my characters look like and I’m so hellbent on whatever imagery I present not conflicting with that. Crazy, I know.  Poor designer who gets to work with me, right? Yeah, I pity her, too, but so far, she’s been tremendously patient.

On top of that, I am so determined not to take away that wonderful opportunity for the reader to envision their own Cate and Oliver, that part of me doesn’t want to show too much. I know as a reader I am so appreciative when the canvas has been left blank for me to populate with my own pixels.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-shirtless-sexy-man-muscular-abdomen-image14304148

Yet I also know the expectations of the reader and book bloggers. There is the matter of providing readers of a more titillating genre something they will find enticing yet without setting up false expectations…

Okay, why don’t I just go and say what we’re all thinking? SEXY COVERS.

Sure, I want one, too, but what I don’t want to do is set certain expectations about the explicitness of my novel and then have the reader be disappointed if it’s not explicit enough, because I am after all, unfolding a story. A love story. It’s contemporary romance, folks. Not wall-to-wall sex fest.  Sorry if that disappoints. But I promise if you give the story a chance, you just might like the places I take you.

A fine line, a fine line indeed.

But it sure is fun looking at all of these pictures of bare abs and other body parts.

Wait a sec, did I think that or did I type that?

*coughs*

It’s a long, arduous process but I’m up for the challenge. *arches eyebrow*

Happy reading!
ck

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My Own Sesame Street (Sorta)

I could start singing the theme for you, if you’d like. 

Sunny day. Sweepin’ the clouds away…

Snuffi

We all know it. Or at least those of us born in 1969 or later really know it, particularly here in the U.S. (I’m so glad that at least I can honestly say I’m not in THE oldest class of kids who watched. Okay, I’m part of the second oldest kids that watched. In 1970. Oy.)

This isn’t a blog about TV, by the way. You probably don’t believe me. I wouldn’t blame you.

I had planned another topic today, one more related to the book itself that I’m working on. Okay, here is where I think I’m supposed to pipe in with that mandatory early plug – I suppose I’d better get used to this… *coughs*

THE MUSE UNLOCKED coming this June!

And now, this is where you’re supposed to add a flag to your June calendar to remind you to check on its availability then. So go ahead. I can wait here. Go on.

I wonder if I could hire George Clooney to step in and say that little book  promo every time for me as my spokesperson. And I could just sit back and watch him…say it. Uh-huh. Or Stephen Amell of ARROW. Yeah, that would work, too. Or my Man of Steel, Henry Cavill. Mmm.

<Crickets.>

<Crickets.>

Sorry, lost myself for a moment.

No, this isn’t a blog about TV, my book or singing really great TV show themes poorly.

But I think it should be known that anything I’d sing for you this morning would sound much, much sexier than my usual nasal Midwestern twang thanks to my LOWER, raspier Kathleen Turner pipes that I’m developing courtesy of one miserable head cold and nagging cough  (So I’ve got that going for me…) These two guests are determined to ruin my birthday weekend, but I’m not going to let it. No way, no chance, nuh-uh.

So… what is this blog about? Good question. I think my cold medicine’s kicked in and I don’t really know anymore.

Oh wait, I do know.  Focus, Chris, focus.

Community. That’s what it’s about. Now, I remember.

You see, when I entered the Twitter community back in 2008, I was an editor for a magazine, so my interaction and updates were pretty specific and mostly locally-driven. In 2009, when my job changed from full-time editor to holy-shit-I’m-unemployed-now, I had to broaden my mind and my message, and go for it. After all, I could write for anybody, anywhere, anytime – and hey, that included me. So I started talking to people of all backgrounds, professions and home turf as I grew my work as a freelance writer and editor. Twitter basically opened the door to the world for me and invited me to take a step outside.

So I did.

Fast-forward four years.

Now, I’m out here exchanging wise quotes and lyrical sound bites with a former journalist based in Singapore, chatting romance and book boyfriends with an aspiring Canadian author I’ve since met in person and completely adore, and volleyed delicious double-entendres and what-not back and forth among a charming collective of erotica authors across the U.K. and the Land Down Under. And here in the States, I’ve truly enjoyed clinking virtual toasts with the newly published and engaging in conversations about everything from the writing process to Walking Dead with newbies like me and already published, successful authors. 

I’ve been dazzled by how giving folks are in the writing community, and it doesn’t even matter the genre. I am regularly interacting with fantastic writers beyond the realm of the contemporary romance scene — erotica, suspense, vampire thrillers — and it doesn’t seem to matter to them if I’m bound for one genre and them, another. All that truly matters is that connection, a genuine appreciation for each other’s work and the opportunity to learn from each other. That last one’s immeasurable.

I am discovering  a surprisingly symbiotic network out here in a field that I may have falsely presumed was solely about self-promotion but whose outstretched, open arms have embraced unexpectedly and  invited me graciously to be a part of the network, despite not being published yet.  The words of encouragement and support are beyond anything I could have imagined.

Now, for years, I haven’t been above gushing about people who I admire, for their work or the way they carry themselves, and I don’t think anything of doing this and spreading the love. It’s so refreshing to see writers out there doing the same for each other in the published world, and I so look forward to gaining my full-access membership card to this club. Soon… soon…soon. Must. Keep. Plugging.Along. Am trying to finish those all-important final steps.

So a special thank you to the members of my little informal, eclectic Sesame Street. People like…

Karen M. Hanks

Cameron Lincoln

Paige Thomas

Rebecca Gibson

Lisa Fulham

Robert India

John Geddes

Khaled Talib

Carrie Bailey

P.J. Bayliss

Mark Grago

Tiffany Reisz

M. Leighton

Sylvain Reynard

Gail McHugh

…just to acknowledge a few. Thank you for making me feel a part of something much bigger than a silly little book written by a lowly copywriter thrilled to be invited to her first prom.  Yep, I guess I am on my way and the air is definitely sweeter with you in it. 

Much love to my favorite posse of writers. I encourage you to check out their work which runs the gamut of genres, writing styles and formats.

Enjoy the rest of your day, everybody. And happy reading!
ck

Overjoyed and Spilling Over

I’m going to quote one of my favorite contemporary romance authors M. Leighton and an exclamation found frequently sprawled across her Twitter and Facebook pages.

YAAAAHOOOOOO!

Yep. That about covers it.

The damage has been done.
The road has been traveled.
The email has zoomed outta there, from drafts to sent folder.
No turning back now.

The plump lady has sung, and in this case read, re-read, tweaked, paced, read, re-read some more, slept on it (literally) and quite possibly, done everything else she can other than roast, steam, rotisserrie or fondue the original draft of her first novel. It is now officially in the editor’s hands to wield whatever powerful magic spoon she has to whip up something tasty and decadent.

For the next several weeks, I must put that part of the job out of my mind and focus on all of the other fun pieces that go along with it…like website elements, book covers, playlists (yes, you can definitely count on that from this music-loving maniac), marketing and more.

In the meantime, I’m feeling generous. Here’s an ever-so-brief little passage from a phone conversation between Cate and Oliver. A short but sweet book teaser…just for you.

Happy reading!
ck

A TEENY-TINY, ITSY-BITSY EXCERPT FROM
THE MUSE UNLOCKED
COMING JUNE 2013

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Both became silent. She adjusted her position in the tub, and water slipped over the rim.

 “Are you taking a bath?”

 “Um. Yes.”

 Oliver let out a long exhale. “You realize I’m not going to be able to let you hang up now.”

 “Why?”

 “Because if I were there, I would be kissing your lips…licking your neck…sucking on your breast…stroking your thighs…and many other incredible things in that general vicinity.”

 Cate sat up in the tub, a smile curling up the ends of her lips. “Mr. Sand, are you trying to seduce me?”

 “Would you like me to seduce you?” he whispered hoarsely.

Cate chuckled. “I love The Graduate. Wait a second. Are you Mrs. Robinson in this scene? Good for you playing against type.”

“I do what I can.  So what can I do for you, beautiful?”

 

Big Cheers, Small Victories and Book Teasers

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw the recent shouts of WOOT WOOT…or perhaps you even heard them from way the hell over there.

I’m thrilled to say that the first draft is written for my first book, a contemporary romance titled THE MUSE UNLOCKED

 

YES!

I’ll do a last read-through tomorrow, some final tweaks of my own and then pass it along formally to my book editor Monday for the month of April. Then…I’ll move on to the other moving parts with those respective players to help me with book cover design, website, and so on. It will be a busy two months ahead but I can’t wait for every little piece of the process to bring me one step closer to release.

I’ve shared a few book teasers here already to offer a little taste — one in my March 3 blog and the other in my March 9 blog — excerpts from the debut novel, scheduled for a June 2013 release. I do recall promising that I’d unveil a third book teaser this week from my upcoming book which introduces readers to an unlikely pair, 38-year-old screenwriter and author Cate Mullen and 28-year-old film actor and rising star Oliver Sand.

Without further ado…

Happy reading!
ck

AN EXCERPT FROM THE MUSE UNLOCKED,
COMING JUNE 2013

NortonSimon_DegasOliver sat down next to Cate on the large, square wooden bench at the center of one of the Norton Simon’s gallery rooms and watched her gaze at a sculpture. “Who did that?” he whispered to her.

 

“Edgar Degas. It’s called Aging Dancer. He’s mostly known for his paintings that capture each frame of movement and grace of the ballet dancer.” She looked over at him and smiled at how intensely he examined the piece as he sat beside her. Thankfully, the museum was not very busy, and Cate and Oliver had been successful escaping the attention of any onlookers who might recognize him. “Fan of the ballet, are you, Mr. S.?”

 

He smiled back. “Not especially, but I’ve taken my share of dance lessons over the years.”

 

Cate gasped at him in amusement. “The handsome actor dances, too?”

 

“It just so happens I do, and my moves aren’t too shabby,” he grinned, and Cate thought she detected a slight blush.

 

She leaned in and lightly brushed his ear with her lips, as she laid her hand on his upper thigh. “You will have to show me some of those acclaimed moves when we get back to your place.” She licked his ear lobe and gave it a light nibble for final punctuation, then let her hand brush across his leg.

 

Oliver’s eyes widened for a moment, and Cate watched the actor’s facial expression shift from shock to smirk. He quickly reached for the museum map in her hand and laid the opened brochure over his lap. She eyed him curiously, and he lowered his head down to graze her shoulder with his chin.

 

“Do you have any idea what you do to me when you say and do things like that?” he whispered hoarsely. His eyes held a heat behind them.

 

Cate glanced around the room and gazed down at his lap. Navigating her hand under the strategically placed paper, she rested her fingers on his thigh and let them casually graze over the zipper of his pants to discover Oliver pushing back against his jeans. She quickly removed her hand and stifled a giggle as he sat with folded arms over his chest looking anything but thrilled with her amusement over his “condition.”

 

She started to rise from the bench, but Oliver reached out to grab her arm. “Oh, no, you don’t. We’re going to sit here for a little while, okay?”

 

Cate chuckled at him and nodded. Score: curious teeth on Oliver’s succulent ear lobe, 1; sexy actors and their rebellious crotches, 0.

 

 

The Curious Case of…Ta Da!

Epiphanies are funny. I always picture them taking place after some mad scientist sweats over his completely incomprehensible contraption for hours and hours and then suddenly – eureka, puff of smoke, light bulb and all of that other cliche imagery – abracadabra! An idea arrives. Like a super-charged Pop-Tart ricocheting from out of nowhere.

SONY DSC

I had one last night. Or this morning actually. An epiphany, not a Pop-Tart. A decision I had been struggling with for so long with regard to my book or rather the book to follow it rattled my brain. 

Titles. I’m a fairly good headline writer when I write articles, but book titles are a completely different beast.

Anyway, I knew what my book title would be for this first novel – THE MUSE UNLOCKED –  but I also knew that I had way too many plot miles I wanted these characters to travel for one book. I have at least a second book if not a third tucked away in my imagination for Cate and Oliver. So I went back and forth, even had some strange dreams about the titles one day that I had worked far too much and for far too long on the book. I came up with a few titles for the second book and for a possible third installment, too. But while I’d like one of the titles, nearly every time, I hated the other.

So what I want to know is why did the clouds part and the clarity sweep over me at 5:10 a.m. this morning after my body and my mind logged not one minute of sleep? I wasn’t supposed to be able to pour a cup of coffee without spilling it let alone come up with something creative and damn perfect for what I want to convey.

That isn’t supposed to happen. Not on zero sleep. Right? That’s what I thought, too. Of course, the reason I was up all night was because I was finishing the main content of the book.

That’s right. The core content is done. I still have some smaller author-related pieces to compose and an important book two preview to feature at the end, but the story itself is just two more thorough reads away from finding its way into my book editor’s hands.

Damn.

And, of course, I’m not going to tell you what those book titles are. After all, I haven’t even released the first book yet, but let’s just say, my imagination is taking a day of rest in honor of the momentous occasion.

I’d take a monorail to cloud nine if I wasn’t so lightheaded from the all-night writing fest. For now, I will simply be thankful for the inexplicable appearance of epiphanies and their penchant to come along at the strangest, most unexpected moments. Yes, sir, may I please have another?! And I will never take them for granted and would welcome them any time they care to show up on my doorstep.

A Pop-Tart on my doorstop would sound pretty good right now, too.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It’s been a little while since I shared a book teaser. Look for another one to come your way faster than you can say…presto!

Okay, maybe not that fast, but soon. Real soon.

Happy reading!
ck

Decisions, Decisions

I’m doing a lot of cleanup on aisle 5 this week.

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As you know, I’m working away on my book THE MUSE UNLOCKED, which is scheduled to publish early this summer. This is the time when I begin to look back at past chapters and discover more things that I want my characters to say, more revelations that I want my reader to experience.

But the answer to the question “When is more better and when is more too much?” is a tricky little boogerhead. (That’s urban-speak for literary conundrum.)

For example, this week I gathered a set of scenes scattered throughout the book that involved a therapist, and I wanted my professional source contact to review them for any red flags that took away from the scenes’ legitimacy. But as I was gathering, I couldn’t help myself. A little tweak here…a little insertion there…oh hell, let’s just add this entire other element I’d been kicking around for months in my head. There! (Four hours later.) That ought to do it.

I know that no matter what I add, there will always be something else that I deem missing. I will admit that I’m starting to become a danger to myself. I am literally working on the book’s last chapter and the closer I get to the conclusion, the slower I’m writing. Coincidence?

Yeah. I didn’t think so either.

I guess I just don’t want the story to end.

It’s like getting to the end of that frothy vanilla milkshake with the maraschino cherry that magically swims its way to the bottom of the paper cup. No one wants to take the last suck on that straw, because then that tasty, creamy milkshake will be done. Finished. Over. The thrill will be gone. And when you dip down deep and scoop out the little cherry, you’re just not the same. The deed has been done.

Damn straight, I like metaphors.  And yes, all nerds’ minds really are that dirty. TRUST ME. Besides, I think it has something to do with that last scene I just wrote that’s left me a little…um… hot and bothered this morning.

I am happy that I’ve made one decision already. The story may end for now…but not for long. There are many more places I’d like to take Cate and Oliver and crew. The question is: will others want to follow them there?  I’ll build the roads, but whether the readers wish to travel them, well, that’ll be someone else’s decision for once.

Happy reading!
ck

Signed, Sealed, Delivered…Soon, Baby!

 ????????????????????????????????????????I’m excited about tonight.

For one thing, I’m finally getting to meet an author that I’ve communicated with virtually for over five years yet I’ve never met her. When I was the editor for a local women’s magazine, I interviewed her (by phone) for our online edition and wrote a profile about her. Tonight, I’m going to her book signing and I couldn’t be happier for her. I’ll finally get a chance to say hello in person, maybe give her a hug because I feel like I know her and buy a signed copy of her book.

The other reason I’m especially interested in going is for the book signing itself. I think I’ve only gone to two such events before – ever. And yet, in less than three months, I plan to publish my own book, THE MUSE UNLOCKED. As strange as the concept sounds as it reverberates off of the rubber walls of my kooky, confounded mind, I expect that I will be doing a book signing or two of my own.

Gulp.

I won’t lie to you. A sudden bolt of panic just shot through me at the concept of holding a book signing and…<crickets> The room is empty. Like hosting a party, and no one showing up. Besides, who would want me signing anything? I have really shitty penmanship. I guess I’d better practice my signature before then, huh?

Neurotic, I know.

I’ve heard theories that all performers, artists and writers have deep-seated psychoses and neuroses, so perhaps I should find this latest revelation of the breadth of my insecurities encouraging. Maybe I do have the right stuff to make the big time after all!

<More crickets.>

Or maybe not.

Aah, there’s my good friend, Self-Doubt. Back from a sabbatical, I see. May I introduce you to the rest of your table party for the evening, Dr. Doom,  Miss Melodrama and Sir Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

So, yes, I will go to the book signing tonight. And no, I am not seeing a therapist. Yet.

There have been plenty of book signing opportunities I could have attended over the past six months if my only reason for going were for research purposes. I truly am going to this particular signing to support my friend. But I expect I probably will be recording some mental notes, too.

And somewhere deep, deep, deeeeeeep in the dark, cobweb-covered recesses of my brain, there’s a little gawky cheerleader doing cartwheels and leaps into the air getting ready for the summer adventures that await.