Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Good bye

Hello everyone!

The era of The Vixen has come to a close. The blog will stay up so everyone can go back and read what has been said, but no new posts will be written.

Thanks to everyone for your support during this amazing year together. =) We all have thoroughly enjoyed hearing from y'all.

The Deadly Vixens

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Please welcome author... June Phyllis Baker!

When I volunteered to write this blog I had no idea what I could say you haven't heard a hundred times. Then the other day, the idea sort of fell in my lap…or my mailbox. I got a rejection. It's not my first; it won't be my last.

There is a popular song entitled The Climb that suggests it’s not what is on the other side, but the journey it took to get there. As writers, we’ll always have another hill to climb, another rejection letter to paper that bathroom wall.

They are a part of our mountain. Our first inclination may be to look at that sheer wall as insurmountable, and each rejection is another landslide pushing you further down the slope.

Not all rejections are “bad.” Some can lead you to path to the mountain peak. Learn from your rejections. Some editors, albeit rare, take the time to let you know why your manuscript is being rejected. Those are the letters you save and frame. They are great motivators. They inspire, inform, and drive new creativity. And, if you’re lucky, sometimes there is an offer for you to resubmit.

It’s rare, but it happens. I know, it just happened to me. It sure beats the cold form rejection letters that tell you nothing, at least on the surface. Rascal Flats' song Stand comes to mind “You get mad, you brush yourself off and then you stand”.

By now you know music plays a big part in my writing; country music in particular. Country music for me tells a story. The good, the bad, and the ugly! The trials and victories of life. Another mountain story. For me, music moves the muse.

There are times you’ll want to quit, but when the muse comes calling, you have no choice but to write. Step back, face the mountain down, and write.

I think every writer asks her/himself how did I get here. More to the point, how did this happen? Hard work and determination, that’s how. Most writers dream of the day they’ll be published. When that day comes, relish it; plant your flag on the top of that mountain! You’ve earned it!

I’m a romance writer by genre. I have tried writing other genres. I really wanted to write a paranormal with ghosts…and it was fine, until that pesky old ghost scared me away. Find the stories that work for you, instead of against. I think sometimes we don’t have control over our characters, they control us. LOL! So until I can figure out how I am going to make my ghost a bit friendlier, she remains stuck in a file…pouting.

Whatever genre you write, your hook has to be strong enough to make the reader turn the page.

A novel has to make the reader believe in your hero or heroine. It has to make the reader root for them, feel their joy and sorrow. And you have to make your characters unforgettable.

I once read a romance novel so realistic I forgot the characters weren’t real. I found myself wondering about them long after I’d finished reading the book. And yes, I fell in love with the hero.

That is our goal as writers.

Books help readers escape when the world outside gets “crazy”. In a sense, we are like doctors. We can help people feel good; we can make them cry, or smile, and we can let them find a place they want to be when their version of that old 'mountain' seems insurmountable.

Dreams do come true. You can stand atop that mountain. It’s all in your hands. It starts with the first rejection and it ends with a contract.

Speaking for myself, I refused to give up. That’s why today I can call myself June Phyllis Baker, author.

Monday, March 16, 2009

In The Presence Of Angels

In the paranormal world, walking amongst the vampires and shapeshifters, the demons and fairies, there are angels. Not the pink-cheeked cherubs adorning Christmas cards, but full-bodied, living, breathing angels. Angels with enough angst and dilemmas to rival their human counterparts. And with enough sensuality and charisma to bring a mere mortal to her knees with just a look. Angels are the new models for heroes taking their stand in the paranormal world. But what is the fascination with angels?

I have been trying to answer this question for myself ever since a certain wayward angel took up residence in my brain and started telling me his story. Or, in actuality, demanded that I tell his story. Before that, I was content with writing about mere mortals who lived, loved, lost and rediscovered along the journey that we call life. But once that angel first began to speak to me, I have become fascinated by stories of angels, be they real or fictionalized. Still I wonder, what is it about these heavenly beings that spawns such fascination?

Whether you believe in angels or not, they permeate our culture like no other symbol of hope and purity. Faith and belief. Awe and inspiration. Perhaps one of the most iconic renditions of angels is that of The Sistine Madonna, better known as Raphael’s Angels. Who hasn’t seen this painting of two cherubs watching the heavens with daydreaming expressions staring back at them from a Christmas card or festive ornament? A quick search through Google will show that, although this is perhaps Raphael’s most famous painting of angelic beings, it is not the only one in which they appear. Indeed, they show up in the backgrounds of several others, but are not limited to Raphael’s paintings. Other artists, including Bouguereau, depict angels in their works.

So is it any wonder that Hollywood would follow suit? One of my favorite movies about angels is called Michael in which John Travolta gives a tour de force performance as a bad boy angel living amongst humans. From smoking to burping after a meal, he is the antithesis of the heavenly being we associate with the word angel. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t wise. On the contrary, he gets to the heart of the matter without seeming to care if he does get there. The trick is, he gets the humans to do most of the work. And who can forget that dance sequence to “Chain of Fools” where he manages to seduce every woman in the bar away from her date?

One of the most successful shows on television was “Touched by an Angel,” which always delivered a story with an uplifting message without sounding too preachy. Della Reese was perfect as Tess, a feisty, put-upon angel who was a rallying force behind her charges and loved them like a mother. She guided everyone, including the other angels in her care, with a firm yet gentle hand, nurturing when needed and doling out the tough love when the situation called for it. On the flipside was the ABCFamily miniseries called Fallen, in which a young man, upon his seventeenth birthday, discovered that he was one of the Nephilim, which put his life – and those of everyone he loved – in danger. A somewhat darker tale, it dealt with morality and good versus evil on a different scale than its more uplifting counterpart.

Which brings me to literature and the new fascination with angelic characters. Whether they are heroes or secondary characters, angels are cropping up everywhere. Debbie Macomber writes uplifting stories about angels called Shirley, Goodness and Mercy, who make it their mission to grant people hope and give them the will to love again. One could argue that the angels are secondary characters to those they come to help. On the darker side is a series by Erin McCarthy, the Seven Deadly Sins. In book one, My Immortal, the hero, Damien du Bourg, makes a deal with a fallen angle for immortality, which poses some unique problems when he meets the woman he might want to spend eternity with. In book two, Fallen, the hero is the fallen angel Gabriel whose penance on earth is to be without love forever. So whether you like your angels lighthearted and madcap, like Macomber’s angels, or dark and tortured like McCarthy’s, there is a story out there for every taste.

Thank you for traveling with me on this little journey through angels in our culture and feel free to leave a comment on your favorite angel in art, film, or literature. You tell me, have you ever found yourself in the presence of angels?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Please welcome aspiring author... Marko-Bob!

Hello everyone!

I am an aspiring author, currently working with my second novel. Some of you might know me from my previous comments on this blog, and I am honored to be given the opportunity to guest-blog today. Having a good grasp of mythology, paranormal and science along with somewhat creative mind, I truly enjoy reading books of all categories, but I truly love books playing with the potentials of magic, extending the "normal" boundaries of limiting magic into working in set categories. However, while working with my recent novel, I found that I had to overcome some of the limits I had imposed to myself. For instance, having a mage or wraith perform an act that normally would be considered way too powerful to maintain characters balance and power to keep the story interesting. Why bother reading a book about an omnipotent characters that simply can do anything in their own realm of power?

One of the works that have inspired me are actual older mythologies and national epochs of various countries. Rune singing, a talent nearly lost from some language families, is considered one of the ways of changing the world. As with the old world thinking, to know a name of a thing is to be able to control it. To name and to rename was considered magical, since truly changing a meaning of an object is to change it in reality. Language used itself controls the thinking. As such, holding a power of naming is considered truly powerful and very, very old magic. Additional definition and difference between magic and praying is that magic is to change the world through oneself, where praying is to ask the world to be changed by God. Is it not that the words and their definitions change the world? Old words get new meanings and their origins get lost for ages.

Not many of us think of the origin of a word "policeman", which is simply "a man of polis", a man of the city. Remember the power of life and death is in the tongue. One way to think of this is that the power of language is decisive factor between life and death, or even a transcending force between the two. Do a small test, switch your entire thinking from a language to another one. Now, do the same and switch words and sentences to physical images. This may seem strange but go ahead and try to think about life, while discarding all knowledge of such things as number 0. Seems strange? Now, how do you think about paying for groceries? What is the consept of number 0? Check into it. Its small little things, but so important that we don't think twice about them.

This boils to what magic actually is, the talent of shaping the world in a way or another. As such, its true strenghts are not reliant in its raw power, but rather subtleties of the thought itself. The same goes with the language. Political speeches, thesis, professional lingo all use varios different ways to influence others throught subtle little adjustments. Why would not the same apply to magic in literacy as well? Instead of raw force, one would have to approach the world from a complete different setting. Lighting a candle and increasing its flame, instead of shooting a fireball from the palm of the hand. Using and growing shadows in an underground station, instead of some invisibility cloak. Tapping into local power outlet and throwing the current outward toward a subject, instead of shooting lightningbolts. These small changes help to keep the characters alive, interesting, cunning and let them play out their own roles out in the book.

These minute small changes into thinking about magic in literacy and in my own writing have helped to break down the classical, somewhat boring, thinking of magic for me. Changing ones thinking is to influence the world. It has helped me to open myself more and to bring out ideas that have previously seemed too obscure (such as why should there be any limitations to power of thought if the user has unique way of thinking).

So, as a small idea, try to think something differently, and see where it will lead you. It opened a huge new view for me... what could it do for you?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Life Romantic

So, my interviews are done now, and so is my time as a regular Deadly Vixens poster.

I originally agreed to be here for only a few months, to help supply content as the search for other bloggers went on. I gave my word I would stay no longer than that, and as there are now new Vixens in abundance, I can go, with a clear conscience. It's been fun, but other things demand my attention, and I must turn to them.

There's the preamble. Now for the actual blog.

Why do people read romances?

I believe that it's similar to the reason that people love superheroes: we need to believe in the "happy ever after," in the good guys always winning, in evil being defeated in the end, despite the evidence to the contrary that reality often presents. In reality, the "happy ever after" marriage often ends in divorce, the good guys sometimes die with their missions unfulfilled, and the bad guys somehow keep getting re-elected. Reality, to put it plainly, is more often unsatisfactory to our emotional desires than not.

But here's the rub: it doesn't have to be that way.

I want, in a wife, what I want. I want (in no particular order) intelligence, creativity, passion, beauty, grace, charm, elegance, sophistication, style, poise, and the ability to meet my needs all in one woman, and I'm not settling for less. This may explain my long periods of being single. But the solitude is worth it to me, if, in the end, I am together with the most wonderful, greatest lady I have ever known, no matter how long it takes. She's worth waiting for, wherever she is now.

This is what our heroines and heroes in romance novels do: they find exactly what they want, whether they were actively seeking it or not. That's how they get the "happy ever after;" they know what they want and recognize it before them. Granted, there may be rough edges that need polishing off (and that feeds into that "I can fix the Bad Boy" mentality that gets so many women into bad relationships, but that's a topic for another time), though in that world, the edges are certainly easier to handle than they are in reality. But I digress.

Want the "happy ever after" ending? Then know yourself, know your needs and wants, and be strong enough - and patient enough - to not stop looking until you've found the person that meets them and completes you. Want right to prevail over evil in the world? Then be that person that always does the right thing, and in doing so set an example for those around you.

My whole point of this is to say that the "happy ever after" ending isn't impossible in reality. It may be difficult and arduous to find, but it's possible to have the romance-filled real life that we read about in books, and it's worth the diligence and search, isn't it, to have just what you wanted and be happy?


And that is the end of my regular contributions here. I'll still be around, commenting from time to time, but my interviews are done.

Special thanks and wishes to my best friend: happy heart day to you! (She knows what I'm talking about.)

Thanks to Gracen, Sarah, Margay, and Ashley for having me here, it's been fun!

Thanks also to Tierney and Sierra for helping talk me into this, you are both missed here!

Thanks especially to all the people I interviewed, who put up with my bumbling efforts to learn how to inteview people, and gave great answers to my questions!

And most of all, thanks to the readers, who didn't instantly ridicule me nor abandon he site in droves at the sight of my ramblings and questionings. . .nothing is possible for a writer without readers, and you have been among the best in that class.

To everyone, don't ever stop pursuing your dreams; one does not fail until one stops trying, and even in their pursuit rather than capture can dreams be fulfilling, even if merely in that they are still alive.

Don't ever give up on your dreams.



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Importance of Learning

Hello everyone! This month, I'm taking an awesome online class by Margie Lawson called Empowering Characters' Emotions, which is being hosted by PASIC. It has been mind-blowing with all of the great information. It's also the largest and most intense class I've ever taken outside of a college environment.

As everyone posted their introductions for the class, something was brought to light for me. Not only are there unpublished authors in the class, there are New York Times Bestselling authors, too, which proves that no one is too experienced to stop learning.

Nothing is sadder than the person who thinks they have nothing to learn. Going back to the excellent ebook that I got last month 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, he lists as Mistake #7 An Unwillingness to Learn and #12 Failing to Learn From the Masters, Masters meaning people who have already mastered the skills. I agree with this since one can always learn something that might fit in with their process. I've read how-to books and taken classes that I got just a few "aha" moments out of that made it worth it to invest the time and money into it. And as authors, we need to make sure that our work sparkles as much as possible to get the agent or editor or book deal of our dreams.

That being said, make sure to check out the class that you're interested in taking. Do research and see what other people have said about the class or instructor since you want to make sure to get the most best information for your money. Below I've listed a few places where you can find writing classes. RWA chapters, like PASIC (Published Author Special Interest Chapter), also tend to have writing classes that are usually open to anyone, even non-RWA members, so make sure to check out those as well.

Have you taken any great classes recently? If so, what was it and where did you take it? I'd love to hear what all of you say.

Neat websites to find affordable writing classes:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Welcome guest blogger... Deanna Lang!

Hello! Hello! First off, I want to thank the Deadly Vixens for the invite to guest blog. I’m delighted to be here.

After I accepted the invite to blog, my mind immediately turned so the topic of “what the heck do I say that would be interesting?” I’m sure similar thoughts go through the heads of other bloggers, or it might just be me. I confess that this is my first time guest blogging, so you might call me a “guest blogging virgin”. Hmm … that doesn’t sound all that palatable does it? Scrap that thought.

Well, as I contemplated about what to blog on, I am also in the middle of thinking about what to do about a day job. I suppose I should put this into some context for you.

I’m an organisation restructure project manager by profession. In simple terms, I manage projects for companies that are undergoing large scale change – be it a restructure, outsourcing or putting in a new computer system. All these things will change the face of the workplace for the people impacted. My job is to make sure that that the changes take place on time, on budget and with minimal disruption to the people. I also make sure that the people affected are well taken care of, that they are communicated to, their fears and issues addressed and they are satisfied with management’s approach to the changes at hand. It’s a full on job. Sometimes I can be managing as many as 20 projects at the same time.

On top of that, I’m also writing a book – or at least attempting to write a book. I think for me, I don’t know about other writers, it is always the attempt to write a book, even when I’m writing a book. I’m the midst of pulling thoughts together and doing research. Each day consists of an hour or two of writing and several hours of reading and research.

It all takes time.

So here I am, torn between the dreaded day job and my desire to produce a well written book and that’s the topic of my blog.

The day job!

How many of us writers also have day jobs?

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my day job. I love the challenge, dealing with people, the exhilaration of knowing when a plan comes together (which often isn’t the case) and just getting things done.

There’s the rub then. I LOVE my day job but it takes up 12 to 14 hours each day, sometimes more. At my last job, before we moved to Qatar, I was up at 5:30am, left for work at 6:30am and in at work shortly after 7am. I’d work till 6pm, sometimes later … well, actually, a lot of times later, and I’d get home by about 9pm. Then its dinner, some computer work and bed. There’s little time left for anything else and I’m exhausted.

Right now, I’m between jobs. I always have between jobs because I work on a contract basis. My contracts last as long as the project(s) last. Anywhere between 6 to 18 months. Sometimes as long as 24 months. After that, I have a few months off and then I’m back in the saddle of the day job again.

The reason I’m between jobs right now is that I’ve just relocated to a new country and as I write this, I’m still looking for work. Today I was presented with a potential job opportunity. The word “potential” in capital letters. It’s a POTENTIAL job opportunity because my CV has been forwarded to a company by a friend and I may receive a call from the HR department of the company which may or may not result in a job interview.

Here’s the thing – already with the potential, I’m worrying about how this will cut into my writing because right now, I HAVE TIME TO WRITE. In the midst of living life, I have time to write a few hours each day, read and research a few hours each day and I don’t get bored. I have plenty to occupy my mind and fill my time. I’m not working and that’s okay, I’m writing.

I’m worrying about not having time to write and worse than that, I’m worried about not having the emotional energy to write. And while we’re at it, I might just add that I’m a worrier. I worry about everything. I even worry about worrying too much.

I have lots of friends who write full time and enjoy it immensely. They work from home, have time to walk the dog and go to the gym. They can stay in their PJs all day while they write (I do that too). I also have friends who work full time or part time and write when they can find time – weekends and late at night. I have a friend who’s given up sleeping so that she can write. She only sleeps 3 to 4 hours each night so she can write and then occasionally she crashes.

Let me tell you about this one friend of mine. She’s a delightful lady, heaps of fun, has written 3 books that are best sellers and they are wonderful books. I know ‘cos I’ve read them. She was complaining that the royalties from the books aren’t paying the bills, not so much complaining as stating a fact.

“You need to have published a lot more books than I have to make a full time living out of writing or be J K Rowling” was what she said to me.

When she was writing full time, she was also blogging regularly. Even when she was looking for a job she was blogging about that experience. Since then she has found a job and has also signed up with her publisher for another six books. Two more trilogies from the series that she’s written so far.

So far she’s been working full time since July of 2008. I haven’t heard even a peep from her. She’s busy working full time, she’s busy being a mum to two teenagers and a wife. She’s mostly also busy writing to fill her book deadlines. She has three books to produce by the end of two years. I’m not sure where she is with that, but by the end of 2009 I’d say she has to have all 3 of the second trilogy done, since she signed the book deal at the beginning of 2008. She has also stopped blogging and I’m not even sure what she’s doing about promoting her books.

She’s a fine example of someone who is a successful writer, going to become an even more successful one, but writing right now does not pay the mortgage and put away tuition money for the kids’ college fund. I should probably drop her a line one of these days and say “hey”. I’d like to know how she’s doing.

So here I am, thinking about friends who work full time and write. Thinking about the lack of time to write, more likely the leisure to write when I please and when the muse strikes me rather than sit down at a particular time and discipline myself to write a fixed number of words each day. Thinking about the time when I go back to work and what I’ll do about the lack of sleep. Is it even possible to cultivate insomnia just so I can have more time to write or will I be a nervous wreck and no good to myself anyway?

All I can say is – for those of you who have the luxury of writing full time, don’t squander it. The time is to be treasured and used productively. And for those of you (us) who don’t have that luxury, hang in there. It may take longer, but the end result will be well worth it.

Thoughts on the topic anyone?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Do You Believe in Angels?

I never set out to write about angels. I didn’t sit down one day and think to myself, “Angels, now there’s a good basis for a book.” In fact, it was the furthest thing from my mind – before I had the dream. Back then, I had visions of Regency heroes and quirky modern heroines, but angels? Not so much.

Until the dream.

Of course I didn’t realize at the time that I was writing about angels. They weren’t very forthcoming in the beginning. I actually thought that I was writing about a woman who was at a crossroad in her life where the ultimate choice she made could literally have life or death consequences. I know what you’re thinking. All this from a dream? Well, no, not exactly. The dream itself centered around a woman at a nightclub dancing the night away with a sinfully attractive man. Simple enough but for the fact that, when she turned away from him, his eyes began to glow red, giving him a devilish look. Still rather unremarkable, right? Until the woman showed up in my next dream. Only this time, she was dressed in a rather proper manner and moving into a garage apartment, preparing to take care of the twins of a widower.

That’s how Nora’s Soul came to fruition. Two dreams, interconnected, that wouldn’t leave me alone. They were all I thought about. Who was this woman and why was she out dancing with a devil one night and preparing to care for children the next? The questions fueled my imagination, demanding answers. The first answer came in the identity of the woman, Nora, who began to give me clues to her background. The angels came in later. You see, in the beginning, I thought I was dealing with a clear-cut depiction of good versus evil, devil versus angel, but as the story progressed, I realized that not everything is so black and white. There are beautiful shades of gray.

Dante is a shade of gray. When he first came to me in my dream, Dante portrayed himself as something of a devil. So that’s how I described him. He was a devil, his only purpose was to steal Nora’s Soul, and that was the end of the story. Or so I thought. But Dante had other ideas. Just when I thought I was done with him, he wouldn’t let me go. He kept invading my dreams, telling a different story. I soon learned that Dante was an angel who, not unlike Nora, was led down the wrong path by his desires. And Dante also finds himself having to make some decisions that could have severe ramifications not only for himself but also for others connected to him.

At its core, Nora’s Soul is about a woman’s crisis of faith – in herself as well as the heavenly beings who are trying to set her on the right path. But it’s also about what happens when one of those heavenly beings has been led astray, his own faith – in himself, in his kind – tested. Even Dante will have to answer the question: Do you believe in angels?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Interview With Me, By You

Well, I'd intended this to be my final interview for Deadly Vixens. However, since the people I had lined up for this interview somehow keep not getting the questions back to me (not mentioning names, but I'm glaring at them telepathically), I'm left at odd ends for this one.

Never let it be said, however, that I was not able to improvise.

So, here's the deal. I want people to leave questions in the comments for me to answer. I will check the comments often during the day and answer the questions (provided they're not too personal). Sound like fun? Does to me!

Now, let me answer some of the more likely questions now, just to get them out of the way:

1. I don't have anything published as yet, nor do I have anything coming out soon.

2. I do have some romantic works in progress; I'll include samples on my Thursday blog if anyone wants.

3. I just had this idea today; my apologies for not soliciting questions sooner.

That should about cover it.

All right, readers, question guns at the ready. . .FIRE!


Saturday, March 7, 2009


Ah begorah, per Wikipedia, a leprechaun (Irish: leipreachán) is a type of male faerie said to inhabit the island of Ireland. Some say the name leprechaun is derived from the old Irish word "luchorpan" which means "little body."

Leprechauns are faerie cobblers who make shoes for elves. They are always aged and diminutive men (2-3 feet tall) sporting bright red hair and beards. They wear emerald-green frocks and tall top hats. The green is to help them blend into the countryside and disappear from view. Their great wealth and greed is legendary (i.e. they have pots of gold which they hide). They're usually reclusive. Some people think they're mean. They're also pranksters.

According to myth, leprechauns have magical powers such as hypnotism, trickery, and control over the intricate workings of Earth and metals such as gold and silver. They regard humans as foolish and greedy and so avoid contact. If a human sees him, he will vanish as soon as the human takes his gaze off him. However, they can be generous to humans who do a good turn for their benefit.

If a leprechaun ‘adopts’ a family things go missing, or appear in unexpected places. Furniture may be moved around the room, and the whiskey or milk will disappear overnight. If this should happen to you, you must start leaving presents of food, drink, and anything else to keep the lhim happy. With any luck, the leprechaun will go round the house and barns at night finishing off jobs that the big people have had no time to do (and not cause his normal mischief.

Legend also reports leprechauns will drown in a light rain, float away in a breezy day and can get buried in a snowstorm.

To catch a leprechaun means to possess his treasure. However, be warned, he's a very hard creature to find, much less hold. Remember, you can't take your eyes off him for even an instant, lest he vanish.