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Thursday, August 23, 2007
The main inspiration behind writing Earrings of Ixtumea goes back to the first day of school in my bilingual classroom. I taught first graders and one of the assignments was for each child to draw a picture of himself. Imagine my surprise when I saw some of my students color themselves white, blonde, and blue eyed. I found out that my student’s idols included Britney Spears and Xuxa, a Brazilian children’s television host, who was blonde, blue eyed, and very fair. Also a number of the telenovelas actresses were blonde too.

But it wasn’t until I attended the bilingual/bicultural graduate program at Cal State Fullerton in the early 90’s that I learned more about the culture which I ended up finding was mine too.
My own grandfather was the child of an Italian immigrant and the daughter of Mexican migrants. My grandfather was ashamed of his background and refused to speak of it. After my great grandmother’s death a number of people even changed her maiden name thinking that would erase who she was.

I remember going to Olvera Street in Los Angles to find out more about my great grandmother. I found the reconstruction of the same church where they were married. And I even found their marriage written in Spanish verifying who she was and the names of her parents.

It was a long journey for me finding the truth about my Mexican background. No one wanted to admit it but I refused to give up. More than once I felt her spirit guide me to the truth.

In Earrings I wanted to have a teen find out about her rich culture and heritage. I also wanted her to see how beautiful her people were. I hope others see this in my story.

I feel that TV and the movies have made some progress in showing Latinos in a more positive light. I love America Ferrera. I pictured her as the original Lupe when I started writing this story. Also Salma Hayek has been great with her shows, one of which was Frida, one of my favorite Latina artists. I hope more will come out. Especially more on the history of Latinos in this county. For example the civil marches for migrant rights lead by Cesar Chavez. I was surprised how many people don’t know who he is.

If I do write a sequel to Earrings, it would take place in our world as Lupe goes in search of causes for her people. Of course she’ll have to go back to Ixtumea. I’d love to expand the relationship between her and her warrior Teancum. When she’s older, of course!

Kim Baccellia

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posted by Dorothy Thompson @ 12:00 AM   2 comments
Monday, August 20, 2007
Judgment Fire is the sixth in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. Tempe was inspired by three women. The first, a resident deputy in the mountain area where I live who I interviewed for the newspaper. She told me about the difficulties she experienced as a female deputy.

On a ride-along with a female police officer, from three a.m. to six a.m. she received no calls. During this time, as we were patrolling the dark streets, she poured her heart out to me about the difficulties of being the only female officer in that department, and the problems she faced being a single mother of a young son.

When I met a young Native American artist who grew up on our local reservation, I knew she was going to be the model for my Tempe and she is who I see when I’m writing. And yes, she has read my books. I’ve only used this young woman’s looks, nothing else.

Tempe didn’t grow up on the reservation and in the first book doesn’t know much about her heritage. In each of the following novels, she learns more and more about her ancestry, including the spiritual side. Her husband, Hutch, is a Christian preacher, and believes she’s jeopardizing her soul when she participates in anything supernatural.

In Judgment Fire, I wanted Tempe to recognize why she hasn’t embraced the fact that she’s an Indian during her younger years. Of course there’s a murder, and it’s during the investigation that repressed memories of her high school years come to the forefront.

Over the years, in the area where I live, the creation of a casino has drastically changed the lives of the Indians who live on and off the reservation. Of course, prejudice rears its ugly head at times, but the atmosphere has definitely improved.

Though many of the books in the series refer to or have scenes on a reservation, though there is resemblance to the reservation near my home, the one in my novels is not real nor is the tribe I’m writing about. I do research, of course, but I want all my readers to realize I’m writing fiction. Even so, one of my most treasured compliments from a reader who is an Indian who called me to tell me he’d read one of the Tempe books, Deadly Omen, which centers on a murder at a Pow Wow. He said, "I wanted to let you know you got it right."

Marilyn Meredith

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posted by Dorothy Thompson @ 8:11 AM   0 comments
Sunday, August 5, 2007
When I first started writing I went to an all-day writing seminar presented by Bob Mayer. During the course he mentioned that the Romance Writers of America were the best organized and most supportive group of writers in the country.

A few months later I realized that I needed to be around writers. There were no writers that I knew of in the rural part of Alabama where I live. Remembering what Mayer said, I went to the Internet and the Romance Writers of America website. None of the chapters identified an area or a city. I clicked on the Heart of Dixie Chapter, and, lo and behold, they met about ten miles from my home. Later I found out that they chose Cullman because of its central location in northern Alabama.

I went to my first meeting. I wanted to see what they were about and how welcome I would be, they had no other males in the chapter. Being a male wasn’t a problem, I was quite welcome.

They were well organized and helpful. The group had many published authors with several big names. After the first meeting I joined RWA and became an official romance writer wannabee. But they’re too nice to use that term, I became an unpublished romance writer.

Right after I joined I sold my first novel, a political thriller titled The Second American Republic and began work on writing an action-thriller war novel titled The Red Dragon. When I finished that book I told myself it was time to work on my unmet requirement for joining RWA, the desire to write a romance novel.

As it turned out, my romance novel was the first to be published. The publisher for The Second American Republic went out of business shortly before it was to be released and The Red Dragon sold after In the Arms of a Warrior. The war novel will be released in April 2008. I want to make major revisions on my first novel before I attempt to sell it again.

I consider myself a romantic and a warrior. Both come into play in my romance novel. The reader will get some understanding of the dynamics of a warrior family, something few in the country understand, along with the romance story. My female character is strong because of her family environment. The male character strength doesn’t show up until later in the story, also because of his family background. It’s an interesting story with a background of our current unpleasantness with the Islamists.

Oh yes, one other thing everyone should know. I’ve read a lot of romance novels and the romance scenes in many of these books are explicit. I consider my romance scenes to be highly sensual, another way of saying explicit. I wouldn’t consider the book erotic, as some booksellers do, but it’s not something that underage readers should be reading.

C.J. Maxx

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posted by Dorothy Thompson @ 12:00 AM   0 comments
Thursday, August 2, 2007
How did I come to write my first fiction? This is my fourth book and the first one to divert to an entirely new path, yet with the same objective: To help women and girls lead happier lives, lives of meaning and purpose, while staying totally truth to the unique passions and potential of each woman or girl. I have been teaching the value of understanding one's uniqueness for 15 years. But how to give the lesson a new simple twist that would captivate and at the same time leave the woman or girl who read the book on fire to be truer to herself?

Well, like all journeys, this one has a beginning. The beginning was another non-fiction book for women that I had titled, You Don't Have to Be A Princess to Live an Enchanted Life. Seven Gateways to Happier Living. (My trademark is THE ENCHANTED SELF, hence the word Enchanted in the title. You can find out all about THE ENCHANTED SELF concept on my website and blog, www.enchantedself.com. For now, let me just say it is a both a way of living that enhances happiness and a way of perceiving yourself that augments your sense of well-being.)

Getting back to THE TRUTH, I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything!-this book was to some extent embedded in the princess book. In that book I used discussions with myself as a Positive Psychologist, and a girl of 10 or so, who was me. We talked to each other about how we viewed each of the Seven Gateways of Happiness that we all need to walk through again and again to make progress in life. For example, the first Gateway is centered around self-esteem. My little girl inside of me felt very sure of herself and was actually, as it turned out, much to my surprise, angry at me-the adult, for not having more courage to do the things I claimed to be passionate about. I learned so much writing the rough draft of that book about myself and women in general, as I merged my thoughts with my client's narratives.

I realized above all else, that we don't harness the powers that we really have as adults to live empassioned lives that relfect what we really care about. We are in our own ways timid and afraid and bogged down by life's pressures.

Once You Don't Have to Be A Princess... didn't get beyond a rough draft it came to me that the real gem in that book was the voice of the girl. If I could merge her voice with was a lot my voice as a kid, with my client's girls inside of them and other women's girl's inside of them, then I could make a composite 'girl' who speaks for all of us.

And that is what happened. I started to write and as I think all fictional authors say, the character starts to direct what will be said and what will happen. And she did. She has a bit of me mixed in, but quickly became her own person. And boy did she tell us like it is!

I thing the 'girl' in THE TRUTH is a great character. She is funny and tragic, filled with wisdom and yet yearning for the wisdom and acknowledgement that she needs from grown-ups. She sees a lot and knows what is right. She is smart and proud of it. She has secrets and discovers a wonderful solution for a very painful problem she is dealing with. She is great. I hope you enjoy reading her diary as much as I enjoyed helping her write it. As she said, "Grown-ups say they know so much about live but I know more..." She does and we can learn from her!

What happened to the Princess book? It sits waiting for a kiss of somesort from the prince or a frog to get going again. Meanwhile, I'm satisfied with THE TRUTH, I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything!

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

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posted by Dorothy Thompson @ 11:47 AM   1 comments
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
It’s not always easy to pin-point the exact moment a story idea springs to mind, especially not if you’re someone (like me) who plots her stories in detail beforehand. Developing a story idea is usually a long, somewhat convoluted process; a matter of many little pieces coming together in a synchronistic, serendipitous fashion.

But the lightning bolt of Inspiration can hit you at the weirdest times—like when you’re driving, or when you’re stuck in traffic. And, not surprisingly perhaps, that’s exactly where I was and what I was doing when I was struck with the initial idea for Waiting for the Big One. I was sitting in traffic one beautiful Sunday morning when...

But, why don’t I let Gabby, my main character, describe it to you?
“It was one of those perfect mornings, the kind that only ever seems to happen on a Sunday. You know the ones I mean, don’t you? Just before noon, all lazy and warm.

The city of Los Angeles was steeped in sunshine, snuggled about as deep into the weekend as it could get. It seemed like everyone was laid back and happy, except for me and the dozens of other drivers who were trying to move west along Hollywood Blvd, headed toward Fairfax, going nowhere fast.

They’ll tell you Pisces is a patient sign, but you can’t really label the fish. We’re complex people. We combine the best and worst of all the other signs. And the truth is, I hate to wait.
So, there I was, stuck at yet another red light, when it hit me. It wasn’t just me who was waiting and it wasn’t just now. All of Los Angeles was in the same boat, all of us, all the time, waiting for the big one.

For most of us, that means our big break, our shot at seeing our name in a star on the Walk of Fame. It’s the role that’ll lift us out of obscurity. It’s the hit that’ll soar to the top of the charts. We’re all hopeful romantics--like Kathleen Turner, in Romancing the Stone. We’re always certain it’ll happen with the next deal we make, the next audition we go out on, the next person we meet.

Take me, for instance. Any day now, with just a little bit of luck, I could go from being plain old Gabby Browne, aspiring actress and dog walker, to Academy Award Winner, Gabriella Giacomo.
And if fame doesn’t get us, no doubt the earthquake will. That’s the other thing everybody’s waiting for, the big eight point, nine point, ten point shaker that scientists say is bound to occur. The one that’ll rock this town to its knees. Even hopeful romantics have to admit it seems inevitable. How could any place with this much surface glamour not be doomed?”

In actuality, it was November, in my world, not February, I was on La Brea heading north, clucking my tongue at the brown haze that obscured my view of the hills. But other than that...pretty damn close.

I’d like to say I rushed right home and began to plot the rest of the story but that’s not the way it happened. At that point of my life, fiction writing had been temporarily re-located to the back burner of my mind. I was busy writing and editing documentaries, special interest videos and a monthly magazine column, my husband and I had just moved to Los Angeles from New York City, I was six months pregnant with our first child and my dog had been diagnosed with a serious spinal condition.

Suffice it to say I was otherwise occupied.

In addition to that, my stories tend to be very much rooted in their surroundings (which usually mirror my own surroundings, to be honest). Or, as any good realtor could tell you, location, location, location—that’s what matters. And, speaking just for myself, the proper setting can be every bit as important to a story as fully-realized characters or a tightly woven plot.

As a result, most of my fiction, up to that point, had been based either in and around Manhattan, or in the Caribbean. I hadn’t yet spent enough time in California for my muse to find her feet there. So despite the promising opening—and the kick-ass, Peter Gabriel inspired title—it would be quite a while before the rest of the story came into focus for me.

Not that the idea ever quite went away. I played with it off and on during the intervening years. I even turned it into a rather epic poem. But it never really jelled for me, partially because I was still ‘otherwise occupied’ with two children now and a house full of pets.

So, let’s fast forward a few years...and, okay, maybe a few more...

When we next see our heroine (that would be me) she’s relocated to NorCal, having also spent some time along the Central Coast. The kids have gotten older and more self-sufficient. Her husband’s business no longer needs her full-time assistance. Her muse has finally given in and made herself at home on the West Coast (we suspect the abundance of wineries may have had something to do with that) and she is once again writing fiction.

Very long fiction, actually. In fact, I’d just finished book number eight in a nine-part series of novels (paranormal romantic-suspense) set in the fictional town of Oberon, California, and I was searching around for my next writing project. Much as I loved Oberon, and even though I was anxious to write that final volume, I needed a break.

Book eight was a whopper—250k words in length—and dark, suspenseful and somewhat tragic into the bargain. I needed something completely different. I needed to spend a little time working on something light-weight and light-hearted before I could go on to tackle book nine.

One of my critique partners, who happens to write for Liquid Silver Books, had been pestering me for some time (oh, I’m sorry, did I say pestering? I guess I meant to say that she’d been encouraging me, don’t I?) to try my hand at writing erotic romance. Now, she approached me with an idea that even I had trouble turning down: the Zodiac contest. I’m a sucker for Astrology (as more than one reviewer has noted). The Pisces spot was still open. I’m a Pisces married to a Scorpio.

How could I resist?

There was only one catch, however. The maximum length for stories in this collection was 15k. I’d never written light, short, sexy fiction and, despite all the encouragement from my author friends, I wasn’t at all certain I could pull it off. But there’s a kind of magic that sometimes occurs when you’re writing. It’s capricious and uncertain—definitely not the kind of thing you can count on. But, every once in a while, if you’re very, very lucky, there will be a book, or a character...or maybe just a single scene, or a single sentence...that seems to write itself.

That was the case with the character of Gabby Browne. I’d never planned on writing this book in first person point of view, but as soon as she started talking to me, I knew I’d have to. I fell in love with her voice. Plus, the chick just wouldn’t shut up! I don’t think the story would have ever come together in third person. Certainly not in the same way. Maybe that’s why it had taken me so long to reach the point where I could write it?

Ironically, once Gabby began ‘talking’ to me, the actual writing, took very little time. I wrote the first nine chapters in a month, hit my 15k mark square on the nose, and thought, “that’s it. I’m done.”

But I hadn’t counted on the title working against me.

“It’s called Waiting for the Big One, isn’t it? After all that build-up, how can you leave off there? We’re still waiting! Where’s the final chapter? Where’s the big finale? Where’s ‘the big one’?” For once all my critique partners were in agreement and ganging up against me.

I didn’t want to write more. I thought the story was done. I thought what happened next was obvious and clear. HEAs don’t always need to be spelled out in detail. Do they?

Yes, apparently, they do—if the reaction of reviewers is anything to go by.

Those last two chapters—which made the book, in some readers opinions—took another entire month to write and put me firmly over the word limit. In the end, my story wasn’t the one chosen for the contest. Maybe it was the length, maybe it was the point of view, maybe it was any of a dozen other things. Perhaps the timing was wrong or it just wasn’t meant to be.

Or, maybe, this book was meant to launch its own series, in its own time, which it now has done. Finally. At long last. For this story, for me, for Gabby, the waiting is over.

As Gabby would have put it: “It’s Destiny...It’s Kismet. It’s a miracle. It’s about freakin’ time...”

PG Forte


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posted by Dorothy Thompson @ 12:05 AM   1 comments
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Name: Dorothy Thompson
About Me: Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion and social media marketing for authors.  Visit her website at www.pumpupyourbook.com.

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