Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Check Out My Book Trailer!

Here it is! My very hip, with-it and cool book trailer, courtesy of the very talented Brenda Urquhart and Circle of Seven Productions. Pretty cool, huh?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Squeeing About Coffee Time Romance

I'm very excited to report that I just received an advance copy of Coffee Time Romance's review for Thirty-Nine Again. Delane Davis had this to say about my story: "Sabrina . . . has strength and tenacity in abundance. With the guns, bad guys, and sexy men, Thirty-Nine Again is a wonderful and exciting read." CTR gave the book 5 cups, which is their highest rating. The review is not posted at their site yet - it will go online closer to the book's release date, but I just had to do a little bragging right now. Here's hoping this is a good omen for future reviews!

Come very soon, I hope to have my incredibly cool, very snazzy book trailer uploaded here too. It's being designed by the super-talented Brenda Urquhart for Circle of Seven. Yes, I know you can make them yourself, but only if you like sticking bamboo shoots under your nails - which is how it felt when I tried to do one myself. Trust me, you'll be glad I let Brenda do this - it's looking great so far.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Adapting Noir to the Middle Ages

Today I'm excited to have the very talented Jeri Westerson as my guest blogger. Jeri is the author of Veil of Lies, a brilliant medieval take on the noir subgenre of detective fiction. While I refer to my own Thirty-Nine Again as "chick noir," the truth is it's voice is a lot more "chick" (as in chick lit) than it is "noir." But Jeri has perfectly nailed the voice of noir fiction and done a remarkable job incorporating it into Veil of Lies.

Here's what Jeri has to say about adapting that voice to a story set in the Middle Ages. . .

Noir, to me, is at once milieu and emotion. It’s quite literally the black and the bleak. It’s shadows and the dark longings in the soul. The medieval period seems perfect for this set-up.

My debut medieval mystery, VEIL OF LIES, is styled a “medieval noir,” dealing with the grittier, darker side of the Middle Ages rather than the grandeur of palace life with its furs and jewels. These are the bleak streets of London, the seamier side of things, and what holds the story together from sinking into drear oblivion is its strong protagonist, Crispin Guest. Heathcliff meets Sam Spade meets Brother Cadfael, I suppose. Though Crispin is definitely no monk. He’s the dark and brooding type because of his circumstances. In such a rigidly defined society, he stepped out of line by committing treason against the newly enthroned Richard II, and instead of the expected execution, his life was spared, but little else. His knighthood was taken along with his wealth, title, and status. With just the clothes on his back, he was exiled from court and forced to make his way on the mean streets of 14th century London. He could have become an outlaw. He could have become a henchmen. But he chose instead to reinvent himself as the Tracker, a sort of “private sheriff,” solving puzzles and righting wrongs for sixpence a day...plus expenses.

It wasn’t hard to adapt the trappings of noir and hard-boiled pulp to a medieval setting. Keeping the language and sensibilities strictly in the Middle Ages (no gats, no car chases), we can still translate the milieu, the hopelessness of noir to that era. The darker shadows and the people who populate them--the thieves and whores--thrive. There are femme fatales who use sex to get what they want from our hero, and because he was raised as a knight, his knightly vows urge him to protect when he might be better off backing away. They also prevent him from fully succumbing when he finds himself falling for a woman far below his former rank. It’s walking that fine line from what might be expected from a storyline and what was expected of the medieval mind, that makes it both fun and a challenge to write.

Getting into Crispin’s mindset is sometimes tough. But it’s as much getting into character as an actor would do, finding motivation, backstory, and making your character feel feelings that are as far from one’s own experience that can be had.
Crispin is a complex man but he is a man of his time. Making that work for a modern audience means getting the reader on Crispin’s side right away, and that means showing qualities that are universal: loyalty, bravery, and, let’s face, stubbornness. With subtle and not so subtle introductions to medieval life, his stage is set and the reader doesn’t have to worry about what it means to have a hard-boiled detective in the Middle Ages. They can appreciate the candlesmoke standing in for cigarette smoke, that light from a cracked shutter might be that venerable shading from the hatching of Venetian blinds, that knives and swords are used instead of guns, and chases can be had on foot or on horses.

Deep down, the people are the same. Loyalty is the same. Murder, my sweet, is the same.

Read the first chapter of Veil of Lies on my website www.JeriWesterson.com.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Me

Last week, I reached the end of my rope (at least for now) with the historical paranormal I began a couple of months ago. I had a very sexy hero, a wicked cool courtesan heroine - but really, I had no story. I had an idea of a possible germ of a story, but not really a plot per se. That's not all that unusual for me in the early stages of a story. But usually the story seems to pull itself together at some point and tell me what the heck to do with the characters. This time, it just wasn't happening. Trying to work on that story was becoming more dread-filled than a visit to the dentist. So I packed it all away. Got a great big box, threw all the notes into it and decided I would take a sabbatical. This week I would spend on getting some craft and gardening supplies. I would exercise another part of myself.

Well, I got to exercise another part of myself, all right. The part that kneels on the bathroom floor cleaning up Tasmanian Devil Boy vomit. And other body fluids too, come to that. In fact, cleaning up body fluids that really aren't even supposed to be fluids. For five days I have been serving jello and then, a few minutes later, cleaning up the jello when it makes its rapid and very unpleasant re-entry into our world.

My poor Taz has been sick with one thing or another since early February - first a respiratory flu, then an ear infection, and now the mother of all stomach flus. He is a bright and generally cheerful kid, but just loaded down with weird obsessions and anxieties - these are part of the package with someone who has Asperger's Syndrome, which he does.

This is what taking care of a mildly sick person with Asperger's is like:

Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory is the most accurately Asperger-y person I have ever seen on TV. Truthfully, he probably has a worse case of Asperger's than my son. But his obsessiveness is right on target and a fine example of what every day with The Tasmanian Devil Boy is usually like.

This past week, however, Taz been so sick that he hasn't had time to fret over how many questions are on the math worksheet or whether we will eat dinner at 6:00 versus 6:15. That part of his illness was actually a little restful. Too bad the trade-off for losing his anxiety was becoming violently ill! He really had me scared for a few days there, but now he's getting back to his usual exasperating self. I guess that's the good news.

I'm just glad I didn't have any writing deadlines to meet this week. Guess I was right to shelve that book for now. But I'm not making any plans for gardening or doing crafts next week though - I wouldn't want to tempt fate twice!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

We Have a Winner!

The winner of the two pairs of earrings is MINDY! Come on down, Mindy. Or better yet, email me your address and I'll ship the earrings off to you as soon as possible! Thanks to everybody who entered the contest!

I haven't been blogging much in February. I've been busy taking two classes and trying to get back to writing some more - hard to find time for all that when you're also trying to scheduled reviews and interviews for the first book. Geez, I thought people were kidding when they said writing the book was the easy part! They weren't. Publicity and self-promotion takes an enormous amount of time and energy. Some day, when I have time, I'll write a blog about it!

Oh, and caring for two sick males also doesn't help the blog productivity. The big Daddy Bear is almost well now, thank God. Unfortunately, I've discovered something worse than a sick grown male: a sick preteen male. All the helplessness of a sick adult male with a big dose of preteen sullenness and attitude thrown in for good measure! Now I know why the British invented boarding school for kids from age 11 to 17.