Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More GCC-Writers in Their Own Words

So, we're still stuck in February and all looking for an escape. Fear not, here's another one for you: Megan Crane's Everyone Else's Girl.

Meredith does things for other people. She irons clothes for her boyfriend, she attends her ex-best friend's horrendous hen party for her brother (who's about to marry the girl) and she moves back to her parents' house to look after her dad when his leg is broken. She's a good girl and that matters. But when she gets back home, all is not as Meredith remembered. Especially Scott, that geeky teenager from her old class at school. He's definitely different now. And so, it seems, is she. One by one, her family and old friends start to tell her some home truths and Meredith begins to realise she's not so perfect after all. Maybe it is time she stopped being everyone else's girl and started living for herself...

It's been called "Amusing, heartfelt and emotionally sophisticated chick-lit" by Kirkus and none other than Meg Cabot says, "Megan Crane rules! Cancel your evening plans: You won't want to stop reading until you've devoured every delicious word."

Now here's Megan in her own words:

1.) How did you come up with the idea for this book? Are you more driven by plot or by character?
This was the second book I wrote. I had finished the first, sold it, and was living in my parents' attic for a few months while I finished up my dissertation. So I could see that there were all kinds of people I grew up with who were still in my hometown, and I was intrigued as to why. Some were settling there. Some, like me, were passing through between other parts of their life. Others were lost. I wanted to write about that feeling--about not knowing who you are, and how coming back home to your parents as an adult can muddy the water but can also help you see the truth. It was an interesting process!

I am much more driven by character than plot. I try to dig inside characters and figure them out, because I'm fascinated by identity--by the things we all cling to as markers of who we are. I try to do this in social situations, too, with less success--at least in books I can force the characters to make sense!

2.) Who's your favorite character in this book and why?
I've always had a strange relationship with this book. I felt that the characters never really did what I wanted them to, and that I never really got a handle on Meredith the way I should have. But when I got my hands on this version of the book, about five years now since the book first came out, I re-read it and realized that I actually really like this book. I like how messy the characters are--especially Meredith. She's in a rough place here. She has to fall face-first into the muck, and she's really only just figured out how to climb out of it by the end... but I like her for it. I hope readers will, too.

3.) What's your writing process/writing environment like?
I'm pretty fierce about my daily word quotas, which are really the only way I can write as much as I do. (I wrote five books last year and will write at least four this year.) I usually write 2,000 words a day--although at a certain point last fall I had to write 3000 a day to hit a particular deadline, and I found that dizzyingly difficult. The internet is my greatest time-waster. I'm starting to use Mac Freedom to turn it off for stretches here and there, because I can't be trusted--and I will often look up to see that hours have passed and there I am reading Jezebel and hitting refresh on Twitter... Not good.

I have written all my books (I'm on number 15!) on the same desk, which I'm a little superstitious about these days. It's currently located in the office I share with my husband, overlooking a pretty sweep of trees and mountains and the Hollywood sign here in Los Angeles. It's filled with books and pictures, and somehow, helps the words come.

4.) What's your favorite part of writing?
When the story just flows from my head to the page, and it feels like magic.

5.) What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?
Just do it. Just write. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

GCC Tour and book giveaway!

Just what we need to get us through these cold dreary days of February . . . a fabulous new book--DRIVE TIME by my buddy Hank Phillipi Ryan . . . and free books to two lucky commenters.

In a starred review from Library Journal, they wrote: Buckle up and prepare for a wild ride as Charlie McNally and Boston’s Channel 3 News investigate a nefarious car theft/forgery operation and race to get their story on the air before their lives are endangered. In the meantime, Charlie becomes consumed with secret sleuthing as blackmail and suspicious deaths threaten the private, prestigious Bexter Academy where her fiancĂ© teaches. Amid late-night stakeouts and dangerous car chases, Charlie finds time for romance, wedding planning, and bonding with her future stepdaughter. In her fourth series entry (after Prime Time, Face Time, and Air Time), Ryan once again channels her Emmy-winning investigative reporting expertise to craft a realistic and compelling mystery, full of hairpin turns and dangerous intersections at breakneck speed.

Let's hear from Hank in her own words . . .

1. How did the character of Charlotte ‘Charlie’ McNally come about?

What a great question. I have NO idea. She was born when I got a weird spam in my email. It was what looked like lines from a play by Shakespeare. I thought--why would someone send a spam like that? And it crossed my mind--maybe it's a secret message.

I still get goose bumps telling you about it. And I knew, after all those years of wanting to write a mystery, that was my plot. And that turned out to be the Agatha-winning PRIME TIME. But Charlie? Well, I knew I had a good story, but who would tell it? A television reporter, of course. And she just instantly popped into my head. Named, fully formed. I knew her perfectly.

The other characters were more difficult to get to know. But now, Charlie surprises me a lot! And I love when that happens.

2. Any mistakes you’ve made along the way, have you learned anything from them?

Hah. That’s another long blog for another day. Mistakes? Ah, on a huge level, people always yell at me for working all the time. ALL the time. Is that a mistake? None of this would have happened without that. Would I change it? I have to say no. So is that a mistake? I'm not sure. On a tiny level, I should have put together a mailing list of bookstores. Still haven’t done that. Wish I had.

3. Advice to fledgling writers?

On my bulletin board there are two quotes. One is a Zen saying: “Leap and the net will appear.” To me, that means: Just do it. The other says “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” And I think that’s so wonderful—just have the confidence to carry on. Writing is tough, arduous, not always rewarding in the moment—but no successful author has ever had an easy path. When you hit an obstacle, pat yourself on the back. You’re a writer!

So, leave a comment between now and Friday, Feb. 19 at 5 p.m. CST and be entered into a drawing to win one of two copies of DRIEV TIME!