Friday, November 09, 2007

GCC Presents: Jackie Kessler and The Road to Hell

Today I'm so excited to present my pal, Jackie Kessler, and her book, The Road to Hell. I met Jackie a few years ago over at Backspace, and she's an awesome all-around person, so I'm thrilled for her success. Even better, this week, she's holding a contest for her book and you, dear readers, can win prizes. Yes, prizes! Check out the "Hit the Road" section of her website.

Okay, get your mind off of prizes, and take a quick sec to read a bit more about the book...

1) What the Hell is HELL ON EARTH?
That’s the series I’m writing, published by Kensington/Zebra Books. The first book, HELL’S BELLES, is about a succubus named Jezebel who runs away from Hell, hides on Earth as an exotic dancer, and learns the hard way about true love. Sex, strippers, demons—what’s not to like? The second book, THE ROAD TO HELL, is about how Jezebel—now the human Jesse Harris—has to return to Hell to save the lives of those she loves…and somehow make sure it’s not a one-way trip. (If she’d known love was this tough, she never would have turned her back on lust.)

2) What's the backstory behind your book?
It's the second book in the Hell on Earth series, and the second in a three-book contract. So not too much backstory there. Just me meeting my deadline. :)

3) It seems that a lot of readers confuse fiction with real life, assuming that a novel must be an autobiography of the author as well. How many elements of your real life are reflected in your book?
Hee. If I were a demon, and Jezebel were Jewish, we'd be the same person.
Except she dances better than I do. And there's no way in Hell (or Earth) that I would ever strip in public. Eek!

4) A lot of my blog readers are aspiring or new authors. How did you land your first book deal?
My first published book, HELL'S BELLES, is actually the third novel that I've written. I took the fantasy that I adore from my first book and the tone that seems to work well for me from the second book and merged them to come up with an urban fantasy/paranormal romance for HELL'S BELLES -- a sassy narrator in a story that's dark and sexy and humorous. I wrote HELL'S BELLES fast -- three months, start to finish (it's like I was possessed) -- and then I queried agents. I really got lucky; instead of the triple-digit rejections I'd gotten for my first novel, or the 40+ rejections I'd gotten for my second novel, I got five offers of representation, within a matter of three weeks. So I selected my agent, and then he sold HELL'S BELLES a week later in a pre-emptive three-book deal to Kensington. Woot!

5) I have a serious procrastination problem when it comes to tackling my fiction. What¹s your routine? How do you dive it? Do you have any rituals or necessary to-dos before or while you write?
Here's how my usual day looks: Write, write, write, get kids and husband ready for school/work, write, write, write, do my day job, lunch/write, do my day job, pick kids up and get dinner ready, family time, get kids to bed, write, write, spend time with Loving Husband, write, write, write, collapse into bed. Repeat. (At times, "write" is loosely defined as "ego surfing" and other Internet activities.)

6) Clearly, your book will be optioned for a multi-million dollar film deal. Who would you cast as the leads, if you were given creative control?
Clearly! :) Let's see. Matt Damon as Paul, the love interest. Or any other character he wants to be. ((fans self)) Maybe Ben Affleck as Roman, the slimy club owner. I'd been thinking of Eva Longoria for Jezebel/Jesse, but I'm really open on her role -- as long as she's played by a petite actress (Jesse is five-foot-four).

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Why Can't We All Just Get Along

Today, I'm over at Writer Unboxed talking about writerly karma and wondering why we all just can't be happy for each other's success...

Check it out!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Why I Care

So I'm a little bit obsessed with the writers' strike. I'm not quite sure why, but I am. I check out about 10 times a day, and I'm trying to stay on top of who is taking what position.

I think that I must be so fascinated by it all because it cuts so close to home. I'm not a television or movie writer (honestly, when anyone asks me if I'm interested in drafting the screenplays of my own books, I just laugh because I have no idea how to do that), but I am a writer, and that, I think, unifies us all. And the fact that the studios and moguls are trying to undercut the value of what these writers give to them just sickens me.

I tried explaining all of this to my husband last night, my husband who has more of the "mogul" mentality given his line of work, and at first, he sort of laughed me off, saying, "Well, of course the studios want to make as much money as they can. It's a business decision." And yeah, of course the studios do want to. Obviously. But then I said, "Okay, so let's say HarperCollins (my current publisher) wanted to put my book online - or wherever - and wanted to generate profits from this but didn't want to give me anything for it. Me. The writer of the book. How would you feel about that?" And because my husband is a good husband and because he fights for every last ounce of respect and every last penny that he believes that I have due, he paused and thought about it, and suddenly, things were a little murkier for him.

And I guess that's why I'm so caught up in the situation: it hits pretty close to home. I hope it's resolved quickly and fairly and that the writers, who are the ones with the vision and who create something from nothing for the studios in the first place, are handed their due.

In other news, I'm over at Monica Bhide's blog today doing a Q/A. Monica is an awesome food writer with a new blog that fun and interesting and insightful, so check it out!

Anyone else following the strike or is it just little old me?

Monday, November 05, 2007

One Strike and You're Out!

Over the weekend, I was reading a television forum that I frequent, and a slew of the posters were up in arms over the impending writers' strike. Not only were they furious that the writers were threatening to walk out, they were certain that if they - these posters in a silly forum about television ratings, many of whom frequently pepper their posts with misspellings and grammatical errors - could do a better job penning TV episodes than the current hired scribes.

Comments were posted along the lines of, "Come on, how hard can it be to write a sitcom?" Or, "God, anyone can be a writer, I mean, we all here could do their jobs."

To that I say: A. BIG. FAT. HA!

Now, because I just lurk in this forum and have no desire to join in the fray with some of these crazies, I didn't respond, but you can bet that my blood was boiling. Beyond the fact that I fully support the writers in their walkout, these comments just reiterated how the general public too often views our profession. Why is it that just about every person thinks that he or she could be a writer? Why is it that just about every person is certain that he or she could crank out a novel (as if!), be a freelance magazine writer (dream on!), or pen a successful television show or movie (even I don't kid myself about that one!)?

Here's the thing: just because you literally know how to write does not mean that you literally know how to write well. There is a huge distinction there, and one that so many people, too many people fail to understand. Including these idiots in that forum. Crafting a novel or breaking into the magazine world is hard f-ing work, and guess what? I'm also going to go on record to say that you have to have some innate talent to be able to do so. I'm not suggesting that I'm Hemingway or Ayn Rand or anyone like that: I'm not. But I'm also going to put it out there and say that not everyone can write well, and maybe that's a horrible thing to say and maybe it's not particularly pc, but just because you think that you have a novel in you (not you, dear Ask Allison readers, "you" meaning the general population) doesn't mean that, in fact, you do. And even if you defy the odds and actually write that novel (something that 99% of people do not), it doesn't mean that this book will be good. (With the understanding that "good" is subjective, and certainly, some people read my stuff and think that it's crap, and that's totally cool. But you get my point.)

Can you tell that I'm pissed? I am. Writers are too often discounted and thought of as second-class citizens, as if somehow, we have the job that the rest of the world could be doing if they only felt like it, and the truth is...this just couldn't be further from the truth. Which is part of the motivation behind the WGA strike: they're sick and tired of not getting the respect they deserve (as well as the money they deserve), and to them, I say, "hurrah." Does the strike suck? You betcha. Beyond the fact that come late-winter, my TV addiction is going to take a serious blow, the strike has affected potential personal projects, and I'm barely even connected to the industry. Hundreds of thousands of people will lose income and jobs, and all around, it sucks.

But the WGA writers are tired of being thought of as replaceable. And after reading some of the posts on the web this weekend, I can't blame them.

So, what say you? Why does everyone think that they can do our jobs for us? What do you think about the impending strike?