Thursday, December 10, 2009

Guest Blog...Let Your Voice Be Heard

Since I have been busily scribbling away on The Hooded Man, I bring you a guest blog by my good friend Jennifer L Hart. Not only is Jen an amazing person, but she is a phenomenal writer! I am honored and glad she decided to stop by today.

Take it away, Jen,

Let your voice be heard!

Thank you Courtney the Magnificent for having me! The Hooded Man for Next Best Celler! Yeah baby!

Kay, I’m done sucking up. ;-)

See what I did there—other than brown-nose the good hostess— I gave you a taste of who I am as a writer, the particular flavor which makes up my voice. One part snark, one part pop-culture sass, two parts grateful human being.

Voice is one of those nebulous phrases aspiring authors read about all the freaking time, with no real concept of what it is. Quite a frustrating predicament; I mean how can you master something if you are unable to pick the suspect out of a lineup?

When I first started amassing rejections for The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag: Skeletons in the Closet, one of the most memorable was “Truth be told, I’m afraid these pages just didn't draw me in as much as I had hoped.”

As much as I appreciated the good agent’s effort in responding to me personally, you have no idea how much time I spent fretting over this sentence. In addition to the question chasing it around inside my brain.

What was I doing wrong?

Several things, but the biggest was obsessing over one person’s opinion. Took me awhile, but after reading a particularly horrific book told in first person POV I realized because I didn’t like the protagonist, I didn’t like the story. Was the author at fault? Absolutely not, it was my personal opinion, nothing more. Similar to the way some people like chocolate while—shockingly—others don’t. Could I change the agent’s opinion? Not on Laundry Hag.

So, I spent time focusing on my story instead. Tightening up paragraphs, deleting passive sentences and stall phrases. By getting rid of the clutter, I allowed my voice to belt out a chorus I was proud of for the first time. While I believed in my idea beforehand, I loved my story after. That’s what editing is all about!

I sold the manuscript. And as of a few days ago, the next in the series!

So the best way to develop your voice is to write, edit, repeat. Get to know your story, your style and the parts which comprise your unique ability. Will some not like your work? Of course, rejection is part of life. Only you can decide if developing your voice as a writer is worth the effort. I can tell you though; the world wants to read your story. Will you share it with us?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Guest Blog.. Pele's Power by AJ Llewelyn

Today we bring you the first of our guest blogs here at Rearview Vegas.
Joining us today the amazingly talented AJ Llewelyn.
Take it away, AJ!

I am heading to Oahu on December 17, meeting my family for the holidays. It is starting to feel real now that everyone is calling me for my address on island, to send parcels and boxes and also so that they can pick up their cars from Dollar (say dull-ah) and head straight on out there once they land in Honolulu.
With family members flying from all over the world, I decided only this morning to stop stressing about my house not being…well, elegant. It is a fantastic place up in the mountains. It’s pretty ramshackle, but I love it and hope, when I am able to carve a full-time living for myself, to stay there year-round.
I feel in awe of even owning my house, the model for the homes in my Phantom Lover and Waikiki Vampire books. The house is in much better shape in those books than in real life, but that’s the beauty of being a novelist. I can renovate to my heart and mind’s content!
My house is Goddess Pele-protected and blessed. Pele loves children. Pele loves me, even though I feel her anger that it’s been ten months since I went and paid her a visit. One of the things I love about my place is the endless greenery. In spite of a near-legendary drought, we still have a lush bamboo trail out back and rare, tropical birds love to come and visit me. The unruly garden backs onto what used to be Paradise Park, a bird sanctuary, and when the owners went broke, they released the birds. Let’s not talk about what the introduction to all those foreign birds did to the fragile island eco-system. The birds have gone forth and multiplied by the thousands, but I love them. Nothing thrills me more than a bright-red macaw (a messenger from the Volcano Goddess, I tell myself) shows up at my kitchen window.
My brother and his wife loathe my house, calling it Gilligan’s Bohemian Island, but their kids love it. It is a fantastic house for kids because inside or out, nothing can hurt them. We don’t have snakes and poisonous spiders do exist but not on our part of the island.
The kids are into geckos and frogs and we have plenty of those. My neighbor has a dog who likes to come over and has a fondness for carrots. I’ve played Santa for a few years now and I feel blessed that my niece and nephew still believes in him…and I have a more than willing recipient for the multitude of carrots the kids leave out for the reindeer.
My niece is convinced Santa likes beer (I think my brother told her this outrageous lie) but I’ve told her Santa prefers a Mai Tai in the islands.
“I don’t think so, Uncle Andrew,” she said on the phone to me yesterday. “He likes beer.”
So, I’ll let my brother handle the Primo and I’ll take care of the sugar cookies.
I’ve taught the children in my life to respect island traditions as much as Christmas and nobody leaves my house with so much as a pearly shell or piece of lava in their pocket.
In August, I attended a Hawaiian festival here in Los Angeles. I purchased a fresh cigar-flower lei to bring to Pele’s altar here in my home and mysteriously, it vanished before I could get it in the house. Yeah, she’s pissed. Pele has played these kinds of tricks on me before…but usually she returns things she takes, just to make sure I am paying attention.
I used to keep her little games to myself for fear that people would think I’m nuts. Undoubtedly I am, but she does play games with me. Now that I am a prolific and published author of Hawaiian paranormal gay erotic romances, I get to address her powerful ways, not to mention her peppery spirit and priceless sense of humor.
Going home to Hawaii is essential for me, both to bond with her, and also, to do fresh research for my new books. Ninety-percent of my books are set there and yes, they’re paranormals, but they are all grounded in reality.
Most of all, I am grateful that Pele led me to discover a kindred spirit in author Courtney Sheets. I bought her book Kona Warrior and loved it.
We are Pele people and I know we will become very good friends. Whatever you are doing this holiday season, honor the Pele within you – the power of finishing the old, starting the new and doing both fearlessly.
Drop me a line and let me know what new, magnificent eruption you are creating for next year. I think Pele, Courtney and I would love that.
Aloha oe,

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Do you hear what I hear?

There is a radio station in town that plays nothing but Christmas music up to December 25th. I have to admit I love it. There is something about Christmas tunes that warm my heart and make me feel good. Well most Christmas songs. I could live without hearing the Christmas Shoes or Jingle Bell Rock again. I use to work at a local mall and we had so many damn dancing Santa’s shaking their butts to Jingle Bell Rock one year, I was almost driven to hunt down Peggy Lee and pelt her to death with them.

Truth be told, my favorites are O Holy Night and White Christmas.

There is a line in O Holy Night that gets me every time I hear it and I mean every time. And I mean every time, doesn’t matter if I’m at work, in the car, or sitting at home reading. “Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices” I’m not an overly spiritual woman, at least not since I was 16 and gave up my plans to be a nun, yet this line squeezes my heart. Hard. I think it is the notion that there is something so powerful, so moving that your legs refused to work and you can only kneel. I picture someone so overcome with emotion their legs give out. There is something about that imagine that speaks to the romantic in me, and the believer in me. Good stuff.

What can I say about White Christmas? Bing Crosby. Enough said. I live in Las Vegas, where we rarely get snow, which means we are more Mele Kalikimaka land. This makes the lyrics of White Christmas even truer for me. I AM dreaming of snow…for about a week. Then I remember my college years spent in Reno freezing my butt off in May. Still, White Christmas is so smooth when Crosby sings it you can’t help but sigh a little and reach for a hot coca with a shot of peppermint.

What’s your favorite holiday tune and why?