The Magic City

The Magic City

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

This is being posted simultaneously here and on Romance Magicians.  Please leave any comments on the post at Romance Magicians.

This last weekend, Southern Magic had an exhibitor booth at the Alabama Book Festival. The foot traffic at our table was heavier than I expected. Most of the people smiled and shared with us their favorite romance novels and asked about our chapter’s authors.

A few joyless souls wrinkled their noses, said something snotty about romance, and skulked off into their miserable existence to absorb books about death, misery, or some other boring and depressing topic.  Their reaction didn’t bother me too much. If they don’t like what we write, oh well.  

It was the third category that rubbed me the wrong way. The people who leaned forward and whispered romance novels were their guilty, secret pleasure. What the what? Guilty, secret pleasure?  Like Easy Cheese on crackers?  Reruns of Saved by the Bell? Lady Gaga? I own my guilty pleasures, thank you very much.

We like what we like. Why keep it a secret? Or feel guilt? I make no bones about the fact that I like to read urban fantasy and paranormal romance (or that I write both – for a funny story, ask me about opposing counsel’s reaction earlier this week when I explained why we couldn’t schedule depositions in late June). Believe it or not, one of my lawyer friends and I continue to exchange recommendations on paranormal romance reads. We are currently in the middle of a race/challenge to see who can finish all of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series. (tee hee – what my friend doesn’t know is the fabulous SK writes much faster than we read – we’ll never be done! Muahaha!).

Do you have a guilty pleasure? Don’t keep it a secret. Tell us what it is. You may be surprised how much company you have. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Demonically Good Time

Even though Alabama author Lexi George's debut novel, Demon Hunting in Dixie, doesn't come out until April 26, it is already generating fantastic reviews. Publisher's Weekly wrote, "George's rip-snorting Southern-fried paranormal debut delivers hilarious one-liners, sexy alpha males, and plenty of mayhem." Manic Readers called the book "flat out fun."

All it takes is spending five minutes with the author to understand why everyone who reads this book will love it.  Not only is she she sassy and creative, she is incredibly generous with her time. Despite being busy writing and promoting her novel, she found the time in an over-crowded schedule to do an interview with me.  For that, I am honored and grateful.

Demon Hunting in Dixie's heroine is Addy Corwin . Other than talking dog, what troubles plague her?

Addy hates dead people, which is unfortunate since her mother and older brother run the local funeral home. Addy escaped Dead Central, as she calls it, in high school by going to work in her great aunt’s flower shop, a treachery her mother has yet to forgive. And that’s another problem of Addy’s: her mama. Addy, a natural rule breaker, has spent her life trying to please her mama, but she draws the line at marrying to please her mother, no matter how many times Mama gives her the wilting ovaries speech. Until Brand Dalvahni comes along, that is, making Addy’s hormones run amok and her determined avoidance of marriage a thing of the past.

Brand Dalvahni, confirmed warrior and (Heaven forbid) suspected Yankee (by Addy's mother) takes the reader's breath away in Demon Hunting in Dixie. What sets him apart from the heroes we’ve met in other stories?

Brand Dalvahni is a demon hunter. That’s what he does, what he is. He is single minded in his pursuit of his quarry, unsurpassed in fighting skills. Brand has never been in love, never felt fear, never smiled or laughed or joked, never wavered in his dedication to the hunt. Until he meets Addy Corwin and she rocks his world. He is totally bewildered by this strange, wisecracking girl and flummoxed by his feelings for her. He is stern and serious, ruthless in his determination to protect Addy from the demon that has marked her, and unhinged by the passion she evokes in him. In short, he’s an alpha male who is undone by love. You gotta love it when the big guys fall, and fall hard!

What is your favorite part about writing Demon Hunting in Dixie?

I love the juxtaposition of our Southern culture with all its richness, our penchant for exaggeration and euphemism, against the totally humorless, absolutely literal Dalvahni. Imagine a medieval knight landing in today’s Deep South and falling in love with a small town Southern girl and you get the picture. Talk about your culture clashes. And it was fun to write, because I got to be smartass and modern with Addy and more formal and flowery when I was in Brand’s POV. And the weenie in the bag chapter was a hoot to write, too!

Paranormal romances pose unique world building concerns. What was your process for creating the world in which Demon Hunting in Dixie is set?

Well, really, the world was already there: our world. It’s set in the South and the demon hunters come here and the story is about what happens when a demon hunter falls in love for the first time. I didn’t spend a lot of time describing the Dalvahni’s world because, really, they don’t have a world to speak of. They were created to track down rogue demons and that’s their existence. They hang out in the Great Hall of Warriors and train or pay a visit to the House of Thralls (concubines to the Dalvahni) in between jobs. So, I kind of slid by on that one!

Demon Hunting in Dixie has some steamy scenes. How did you prepare your friends and family for what they were going to read?

Oh, brother. My friends can tell you how I hairballed over that one. I’m a grown woman with two children and a husband and I still agonized over the sex scenes, especially when I had to type that first ‘c’ word in my book—the male one, not the female one. I kept seeing the face of the old maid librarian from my grammar school days and envisioning the expression on my Aunt Gail’s face. (She’s married to a Baptist preacher). But Addy and Brand wouldn’t let me cheat them, so I had to man up, so to speak and be true to the characters. By and large, I let people find out for themselves, and I tried to write the kind of sex scene I like to read, hot but romantic

How do you manage to balance humor, a great mystery, and sizzling romance in the same story?

I will tell you the truth, I never tried to write funny until this book and the humor was as big a surprise to me as it was to anybody. When I started writing it I thought it was going to be this dark, dramatic story. It even had a dark, dramatic title: Dark Encounter. But, almost from the first page, the story took a humorous turn. Addy is one of those characters who takes over. She deals with trauma and fright by being a smartass. It’s her nature. I tried to remember, though, that no matter how crazy the story got, to keep the focus on the romance. That’s what I was aiming for, anyway!

What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Tough question. I am, by and large, a pantser with plotter envy. I usually have a very rough idea what the story is going to be about. Small town florist meets inter-dimensional demon hunter: chaos to follow. Then I try to figure out how and where to start the story. Beginnings are tough and essential. After that, I pants it for a while, maybe 50 pages and then I get nervous. Where’s this story going? What the heck am I doing? So, then I sit down and make a list of plot points, things I know I want to be in the story, things that have to happen. No idea about order, but I have my list. Every so often, I will stop and try to sketch an outline of the rest of the story, so I don’t get sidetracked or bogged down. Basically, it’s organized chaos. I actually wrote a synopsis for Demon Hunting in Dixie at the beginning of the manuscript, but only because I had to have one for a writing contest! I hate writing a synopsis!

I write every day, or try to. It’s the way I keep in shape, writing wise. And I set goals for myself to keep on track. Doesn’t always work, but it keeps me focused. And I think about the darn story all the time. It consumes me. I think about it in the car, during church (I am so going to heck!), at meetings. Pretty much all the time. I keep note cards with me in case I get an idea or hear something funny I want to use.

What is the worst writing advice you received?

I once attended a workshop on writing by a formula. Totally freaked me out and shut me down. I can’t write that way. If I listen to someone talk about how they write, I panic and think I’ve done everything wrong, because we all approach the craft differently. What works for one person may not work for another. I can’t dissect it too much. I have to leave a little mystery in the process. The rules are there, in the back of my mind, talking to me, but if I dwell on the mechanics of writing too much, the notion that the arc of the story has to be by such and such page, etc., it derails me. Every story is different. I know, I sound like a total, metaphysical flake, but there you are.

What is the best writing advice you received?

Write what you know. It took me YEARS to figure that one out. I thought it meant I had to write about law because I’m a lawyer. Yuck. It wasn’t until Demon Hunting in Dixie that the light bulb went off. Write what you know, for me, meant small towns, small town characters, and zaniness. It has been such a huge joy to discover this voice inside of me that I never dreamed existed!

What is your next book, and when can we expect to see it?

I have a novella coming out from Kensington in August as part of a Halloween anthology called So I Married A Demon Slayer. My novella, The Bride Wore Demon Dust, is set in Hannah, the same town as Demon Hunting in Dixie. My next full length book, Demon Hunting in the Deep South, will be out next year.

You can check out Lexi on her website, Twitter, and Facebook. If you are looking for a great time, order your copy of Demon Hunting in Dixie today.  I want to thank the fabulous Lexi George again for the generosity of her time.  Please leave comments so that when she stops by the blog, she knows her time was well spent!

If you want to meet Lexi, she will be at the Southern Magic Annual Readers Luncheon on November 5, 2011, in Birmingham, Alabama.  The talented and funny Victoria Dahl will be the keynote speaker for the luncheon, and the delightful Jennifer Echols will be Southern Magic's welcome speaker.  Tickets are on sale now!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Great Time at the Alabama Book Festival

Lexi George's First Signing
A great time was had by all at the Alabama Book Festival on April 16 in Old Alabama Town in Montgomery.  I was able to spend the day with authors Lexi George, Laura Hayden, and Louisa Cornell.  Being the only person at our table without a name starting with an L, I felt a little left out.  However, the exceptional company helped me rebound quickly.

The quality of authors at the festival was fantastic, and the weather couldn't have been better.  If anyone is looking for a fun, free event, the Alabama Book Festival promises a great time.  

An added bonus was I was present for Lexi George's first book signing.  Her eager fan grinned from ear to ear in anticipation of reading Demon Hunting in Dixie.  Check back on April 19 to find out why!

An eager reader about to devour Demon Hunting in Dixie.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Getting It" in Less than 140 Characters

Twitter, you internet Siren.  Throughout the day, in five minute intervals, you draw me to your black hole of productivity and smash my well planned work day against your rocky shores of 140 characters or less.  You are less threatening than the abyss that swallows my "outside of work" time, Facebook, but just as lethal.

But I get it.  Just as the Sirens were the muses of the underworld, given wings by Demeter, Twitter has sparked my inspiration.  I justify my time spent in non-writing pursuits as "research," but the excuse has become the reality. #askagent #askeditor  Both pierce through the Twitter noise and set me on the right course. I get the utility of 140 character posts beyond informing people how long a line might be or what is in your wine glass.

The Sirens' song promised mantic truths with a false promise that their victims would live to share them.  Twitter makes a similar promise:  truth about the writing industry from those who live it.  Now, if I could get my rear off the internet, I might live to share them with you.  Is that a rock ahead?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Winchester Mystery House

Sarah Winchester built a home that was never finished:  The Winchester Mystery House.  From beyond the grave, her late husband communicated to her, "You can never stop building the house. If you continue building, you will live. Stop and you will die."

The last few weeks, I've been working on revisions and edits to (what I thought was) my completed manuscript. I am starting to worry Sarah and I are kindred spirits. When do you say when?  How do you know when you are done?  I'm waiting for the soft music to swell or balloons to fall from the ceiling, but neither has happened yet.  Maybe a little more construction is necessary . . .