January 18th, 2007
Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Anya Bast
Wow. It’s Thursday already again.

Here are thirteen things I believe:

1. I believe personal growth and development is won in the moments, in how you treat others and in the love that you show.

2. I believe it’s better to be able to bend once in a while, otherwise one day you will break.

3. I believe it’s normal to have doubts and insecurities about your writing and your writing career. To be utterly impressed with your own words and works is to court disaster.

4. I believe that being kind and having compassion are strengths, not weaknesses.

5. I believe it’s important to have tolerance for everyone, even those who are intolerant. (This one is very hard.)

6. I believe we create our own reality.

7. I believe we all change every single second. I am not the same person I was yesterday, not exactly.

8. I believe we are all ultimately responsible for our own happiness. No one else can provide this for us. We make choices about how to perceive ourselves and our lives.

9. I believe that some of the most hurtful and challenging people in my life have been my very best teachers. They have helped shaped me into the person I am.

10. I believe you can’t change the past and the future is made in the present. So it’s important to really be present.

11. I believe there is always something to learn.

12. I believe that while it’s fine to strive for “more,” it’s important to be content with what you currently have and not take it for granted.

13. I believe in keeping things simple.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

View More Thursday Thirteen Participants

Jaci Burton

Tink

Brony

Becky D

Racy Li

Sweet n’ Sassy Girl 

Annie Cat

January 15th, 2007
The Blinking Cursor

I’m sitting here looking at a blank page and a blinking cursor, wondering what to blog about. Cats? Been there, done that (often). Characters? Done that too. The lure of the vampire, werewolf and other supernatural folk? Been blogged about by many, including myself.

But I could talk about the blinking cursor and the blank page. That perfect nothingness every writer faces when it’s time to start a new project…with that annoying cursor that seems to be thumbing its nose at you if you’re not drawing any ideas. Writing really is like making something from nothing, or, rather, maybe it’s more like pulling a lump from the innermost quagmire of the author’s mind and then shaping it into something recognizable. Sculpting, weaving, those are the analogies I use most when thinking about writing.

I always start with a character—a man or a woman who has a certain personality. I want to see how they react when they’re thrown into certain circumstances. What decisions do they make? How do they react? How do those decisions and reactions drive the plot? I always use the example of Angelo from Water Crystal. That book started with him. I wanted to write about an honorable man who worked for a true villain. That concept intrigued me and I wanted to explore it further, thus, Water Crystal was born.

Normally when I’m confronted with the blinking cursor and a new project, I’ll write a few lines about the character I’m mulling and what I circumstances I want to throw him or her into. Then (usually) I’ll start out by putting him or her in danger or in some high-tension situation. Sometimes I keep that beginning, sometimes not. It’s important I write it in order to get a better feel for his/her personality. That’s really the purpose.

Then I’ll sit down and start to figure out their character more in depth. Sometimes I find out more about him or her–him AND her by this point, since I write romance—than I’ll ever need for the book. This is just more exploratory stuff for my own benefit. (Do you doubt I had an imaginary friend when I was a kid? *g*).

After I’m satisfied with that progress, I’ll plot. I used to be a pantser (a writer who writes without plotting, by the “seat of her pants”), but little by little, book-by-book, I’ve found that I prefer to plot first. I always leave some wiggle room, though, in case I have to take an unexpected turn down the writing road.

That’s usually how it goes for me. Sometimes I get a flash of a scene and everything flows directly from there, the plot growing organically (I did that with Edge of Sweetness). I don’t think that one way is better than another way. Whatever ways works best for the author is golden.

If you’re a writer, how do you deal with the blinking cursor, a blank page and a new project?

January 11th, 2007
Thursday Thirteen
Thirteen of Anya Bast’s Favorite Movies (in no particular order and with quotes)

1. The Red Violin — A special red violin makes its way through time and over the world, spreading passion and inspiration to all who play her.

“What do you do when the thing you most wanted, so perfect, just comes?”

~*~

2. Roman Holiday — Audrey Hepburn! This is actually only one of many of my favorite classic films.
“I’ve never been alone with a man before, even with my dress on. With my dress off, it’s MOST unusual.”

~*~

3. A Shark’s Tale — I adore this one. A shark who truly is a peace loving vegetarian tries to make his way in life.

“Now that you’re the Sharkslayer, does this mean you’re leaving your job at the whale wash?”

~*~

4. V for Vendetta — I loved this movie. It always makes me cry, though.

“It seems strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years I had roses and apologized to no one. I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Every inch, but one. An inch. It is small and it is fragile and it is the only thing in the world worth having.”

~*~

5. Drop Dead Gorgeous — A very dark comedy set in a small Minnesota town. It’s a “documentary” of a teenage beauty pagant. Hilarious.

Voice of Documentarian: So what was the theme of the pageant last year?
Gladys Leeman: Last year? It was, “Buy American.”
Voice of Documentarian: And the year before that?
Gladys Leeman: “U.S.A. is A-okay.”
Voice of Documentarian: Can you remember the theme of your favorite pageant?
Gladys Leeman: “Can I? I’m Amer-I-Can!” People ask me where I get this. I don’t know, it’s, maybe a gift from God or somethin’.

~*~

6. L.A. Story — An older movie, very touching.

“Why is it that we don’t always recognize the moment when love begins but we always know when it ends?”

~*~

7. Ladyhawke — Yes, it has cheesy eighties musis. I don’t care.

“Maybe I’m dreaming. My eyes are open, which means maybe I’m awake dreaming that I’m asleep. Or, or more likely, I’m asleep dreaming that I’m awake wondering if I’m dreaming.”

~*~

8. Blade Runner — A SF classic

“The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long – and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy.”

~*~

9. Donnie Darko — This is a movie that really screws with your mind and will have you thinking about it for a long time after “the end”.

“If the sky were to suddenly open up, there would be no law, there would be no rule. There would only be you and your memories.”

~*~

10. A Fish Called Wanda — A classic comedy

“It’s K-K-K-Ken c-c-c-coming to k-k-k-kill me.”

~*~

11. Zoolander — Never fails to make me completely incapacitated with laughter.

“Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?”

~*~

12. The Big Lebowski — a hilarious and oddly Buddhist movie (with copious amounts of swearing).

“Nihilists! Fu** me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.”

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

View More Thursday Thirteen Participants

January 10th, 2007
Cats and Writers

I dare you to tell me I don’t have the cutest cat eveh. I dare you!

I have more than one, you know. There are eight kitty-kats that run this house. I am subject to the whims of each and every furry paw. They crawl into my lap when I’m trying to finish an important scene. They bat at the pointer on my computer screen. They lounge on the terminal and curl up on the satellite receiver. When one of them, Wiggle, is hungry he steals paper from my printer page by page and scatters them all over the house.

Yes, I have eight cats.

I can even herd them. People say you can’t do that, but I say you can. All you need is a little cat food. They herd just like a bunch of tiny, furry, meowing cows.

Seems like most writers have cats. I find it interesting that so many writers seem to share this common masochistic love of felines. I love them so much I named myself Bast.

Or maybe the truth of why we love cats lies somewhere in this quote…Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance” – Dan Greenburg

Yeah. Blogging, too.

January 6th, 2007
Thankful

Jane at Dear Author enjoyed Edge of Sweetness.

Thank you, Jane, for taking the time to read and review the novella. 🙂

January 6th, 2007
Two Books

Two great books that I’ve read lately and highly recommend:

This is what happened. I met him at the candy store. He turned around and smiled at me, and I was surprised enough to smile back. This was not a children’s candy store, mind you — this was the kind of the place you went to buy expensive imported truffles for your boss’s wife because you felt guilty for sleeping with him while you were both at a conference in Milwaukee. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

I’ve been hit on plenty of times, mostly by men with little finesse who thought what was between their legs made up for what they lacked between their ears. Someimes I went home with them anyway, just because it felt good to want and be wanted, even if it was mostly fake.

The problem with wanting is that it’s like pouring water into a vase full of stones. It fills you up before you know it, leaving no room for anything else. I don’t apologize for who I am or what I’ve done in –and out — of bed. I have my job, my house and my life, and for a long time I haven’t wanted anything else.

Until Dan. Until now.

This is a complex book with interesting, equally complex characters. It’s a book that wraps you up and holds you close from beginning to end. A book with meat on its bones, one that stays with you for a long time after the telling. I really, really enjoyed it.

Here it is on Amazon.com

You can find an excerpt on her web site.

~*~*~*~*~*~

I always enjoy all the Secrets anthologies, but this one in particular is very good. It’s an enjoyable and well-balanced mix of novellas that will sweep you away until you’ve finished the last page.

Did I mention it’s hot? It’s very, very hot. 🙂 Always a plus in my book.

Of particular note is Ellie Marvel‘s story Birthday.

Here it is on Amazon.com

January 5th, 2007
How real are my characters to me?

This is in response to Characters & the Writer over at Smart Bitches love Trashy Novels (I adore those women). I was also recently asked a question along these same lines by a reader, so I decided to blog about it.

How real are my characters in my mind? Do I get so involved with them that the lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur and I start to think of them as real people, want to invite them out for coffee? I have to say that I don’t go that far. Although I definitely do develop an emotional attachment to them because when I’m writing a book I’m in their heads 24-7. Even when I’m not writing their stories, I’m thinking about their stories. I mean, really, I probably spend more time with my characters than I do my husband or my friends.

When a book comes to a close and I have to leave these characters that I spent every day with for months on end, I cling to them for a while. It’s a little like grieving, I guess. I don’t think it’s an uncommon phenomenon for writers. After all, we’ve created these characters, set their little fictional hearts to beating. We’ve put them through trials and tribulations and all these (literally) character-building experiences. We’ve, even unwittingly, imbued parts of ourselves in them, little snippets from our subconscious minds. Of course we’re going to get attached to them a little.

So, I can draw the line between fantasy and reality and I know my characters aren’t real. I can’t invite them out for coffee, even though that would be really cool! Maybe in an alternate universe…. However, I do become emotionally invested in them as their stories play out. I do fall in love with them a little.

And when I write “the end” on a book, I do mourn their absence in my life for a time. So much so that it takes me a while to start a new book, in fact. Maybe somewhere deep inside I feel I’m being unfaithful or something.

There is a point when I’m writing that the characters do take over the story and drive the events. The plot is moved forward by the sheer force of their personalities, as a result of the decisions they would make because they think a certain way or would act a certain way. When that happens, it’s freakishly like I’m on auto-pilot, subject to the whims of the characters I’ve created. But I know when that happens, it’s a good thing because it means I’ve created (hopefully) characters strong enough to carry the story and (hopefully) win the hearts and minds of the readers.

So, really, when the characters become real enough to hijack the story…that’s a good thing. A little bit crazy, maybe, but a good thing. 🙂

And, you know, us writers kind of make a career out of blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, don’t we?

January 2nd, 2007
Got the cover for Witch Fire!

Isn’t it pretty?

Mira Hoskins doesn’t know she’s a natural born witch who possesses the
rare-and powerful-element of air. She also never expected to find herself
tied to a mahogany bed frame, captive to a man who aches to fulfill her
every desire and let loose the magick that dwells inside her…

Heat emanates from elemental fire witch Jack McAllister. The Coven, a
governing authority of witches, has sent him to protect Mira from a band of
warlocks who drain witches of power… and life. Long ago, he saw Mira’s
parents murdered by this same dark magick. He’d like to quell his guilt and
offer her everything she deserves. But she’s the long-lost cousin of his
boss-making seduction off-limits.

With Jack’s strong guidance, Mira is luring forth her inner magick. But his
sense of duty is quickly swelling into insatiable hunger. They warned him
about the natural attraction between air and fire. Now he risks being
consumed by the woman he shouldn’t want-but can’t stay away from …

It’s available for pre-order at Amazon.com right now!