Jeff Rivera Interview

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Released today from Grand Central Publishing, Forever My Lady by Jeff Rivera has received reviews such as "captures those fleeting but powerful moments in young love," and "Moving and meaningful... Its suspenseful ending leaves us all waiting with baited breath for the romantic sequel... This is more than just an urban story, it is a human story." ( Personally, I can't wait to read Forever My Lady for myself. But what's even more exciting is that we have Jeff's own words on the blog today to give us some information about his book and provide advice on the ups and downs of writing:

Q: What is it about Forever My Lady do you think that made it stand out in the minds of agents and editors?
A: I think it was good timing for one. I mean there was a real call for Latino-themed stories and remember I had also built an audience from online that were poised and ready to buy. I also really worked on the craft of the storytelling. Writing an emotional roller coaster isn't easy and I applaud anyone who's able to do it well. It's fun but a lot of work.

Q: What was more important to you in writing Forever My Lady, the characters or the plot?
A: To me they were equally important. I knew as a reader, that I hate books that bore me so my mission was to write something that would keep people turning the pages. And the characters came from real life, from my family, from my friends, from my enemies. Haha! That's where most of my characters came from and from aspects of me, even the bad guy characters.

Q: How did you overcome rejection?
A: Instead of getting frustrated at the rejection (and I had at least 20 editors who rejected the book) I got motivated. I thought to myself "I'll show them!" And I just knew in my heart of hearts I had a book that I believed in. That's what kept me going. You have to be determined but you also have to have a life too. You cannot put all your eggs in one basket and become obsessed with getting published. People can smell desperation and it turns them off.

Q: What would you say is the number one way for an unpublished writer to get noticed?
A: I would say it's the obvious, be the very best. So many writers are in such a rush to get published they don't stop and make sure their book is the very best. Don't be afraid to hire a credible book doctor or a freelance editor with credits behind them. It'll save you time and money in the long run. I was fortunate with Forever My Lady I didn't use a book doctor, in fact the book that is published by Grand Central is the first draft. But I am totally open to working with one on my next few projects and in a sense my book doctors were the hundreds of first fans who read the book when it was just online. They gave me good feedback and motivation to keep going and to tweak it where necessary.

Q: How can my readers pick up a copy of Forever My Lady?
A: You can find it at bookstores everywhere,, and my website:

Thank you so much, Jeff, for taking the time to give us a few encouraging words. I hope Forever My Lady starts off a wonderful writing career for you.

Predictable Life

Monday, October 27, 2008
Life can be so very predictable. It’s almost always about the counterbalance. As soon as one thing goes right, something else has to go wrong.

Take my house-building project for example. Our poor mudding and taping guy experienced all sorts of problems from mechanical to medical, he was delayed nearly a month. Finally, when that picked up and he even offered to primer our walls because he’d taken so long, we thought we’d hopped on the right track again. Someone came out to look at our water-leaking problem and we bought vanities, paint, and doors without killing anyone or totally breaking anything.

So, last night we made it home late from messing with all that and were ready to relax in front of the tube for an hour before bedtime. I threw a load of jeans in the washing machine and walked into the kitchen to see about what to make for food… when from the laundry room, the washing machine made the most gawd-awful noise and threatened to blow. It died, of course, and the motor toasted to a crisp.

It just goes to show you, you can’t have it all… ever.

Overall Update

Friday, October 24, 2008
I've experienced house-building problem after house-building problem lately. The mud and taping progress on my walls is lagging. The contractor said he'd be done by the fourth and now he swears he'll have it finished by the twenty-fifth (That's tomorrow, if you haven't noticed). Then it rained--actually, it poured--and we found about a million leaks, which will require I-don't-know-how-much dirt work to re-direct the flow of water. Plus, we had to close the construction loan and I've no idea how we're going to budget in these new expenses. The whole project has been one, ginormous disaster. I'm so ready for it to be over.

On the up side, I'm feeling healthier these days. I don't have to snack every thirty minutes and my head is clear... not muddled up constantly with racing thoughts. I've even come up with a new idea for a book. I'm still debating the title, but I've settled on Killer Vacation for the time being. It's about Maddy, a thirty-something recent divorcee who goes to Cancun for a vacation to re-discover herself. There, she meets Dane, a twenty-something hunk with a mysterious aura and irresistible smile. They hook up, of course, and just about as soon as they realize they've fallen for each other, his highly-secret government agency past comes back to tug him back into their clutches... and they're not afraid to use Maddy to get what they want.

So, I'm excited about working on it. I have a few ideas where I might want it to go, but nothing concrete yet. The writing is definitely helping me escape reality and house horrors though.

I hope everyone is doing good and is ready for Halloween. I know I'm not. I don't even have trick-or-treating candy bought. Yikes.

Secret Life of Bees

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd a few years ago. I even liked it so much, I went out and bought her next book, The Mermaid Chair,when it came out in bookstores. It's one of those "literary" novels, so the fact that I read it in the first place was unusual for me--I usually only stick with genres that contain some sort of romance. But to then go off and purchase more from that author... that should tell you right there how much I appreciated this story. So, I'm particularly excited to see that it has come out in movie format. I love it when books I've read come out with a movie. Comparing their artistic differences and similarities is one of my favorite hobbies.

A few other "literary" pieces I've read and compared to its movie counterpart are:

What are some of your favorite movie/book combos?

The Bad Good Guy

Saturday, October 18, 2008
Author Sophia Garrett, one of my wonderful critique partners, started to blog recently. Tuesday, she wrote a blog and posed the question,
“What do you all think of people who push the line of... redemption... having a romance written in a darker fashion?”
Well, I just loved this question, ‘cause it made me think. And here was my response to her, pretty much verbatim as I said it.

“I think a hero or heroine in a book CAN stay somewhat unrepentant from their bad ways at the end. Anne Stuart is one of my favorite authors and her heroes tend to be assassins and mercenaries. Just read her ice series:

1. Black Ice
2. Cold as Ice
3. Ice Blue
4. Fire and Ice
5. Ice Storm

Her stories are very dark and there's this sense that even after the two mains get together and start their happily ever after, they're still going to be shrouded in the darker side of life. That's actually what I love so much about her books, her ability to be that sinister and still make me cheer for her characters.

I think that's why I liked the movie The Crow too. Coming back from the dead to kill a bunch of people isn't such a happy-sweet plot, but his reasons for his actions--he did it because of a great love, for his soul mate--it's just so... thought-provoking and intriguing and heart-rendering. It stays with you longer after you experience the story exactly for that reason.

I also love Katherine Sutcliffe for her dark writing, both her historical and contemporary stuff. And then there's Meagan McKinney's more contemporary work. They have some very conflicted heroes and heroines, which makes me like them more. Neither of them have published anything for a few years, but if you get your hands on one of their books, read them and see for yourself that dark writing I'm talking about... it's addictive.”

There are so many other “Good Guys” out there that have a bad angle to them, I can’t even begin to start naming names. You can even find them on television shows. In That 70’s Show, for example, my favorite character is Hyde because he’s just so naughty and I don’t really want him to change. In fact, that’s what I like about him.

Now… a curious Linda wants to know, who are a few of your favorite bad “Good Guys”?

The Fiction Wars

Monday, October 13, 2008
It doesn't seem to matter what you write sometimes, someone will always look down their nose on your work. After listening to many writers talk, I've discovered there is a hierarchy of arguments over which is consider quality writing. So, today, I think I'll explore these arguments and discussions to simplify what each school of thought believes.

Literary vs. Mass Market
To begin, we have our academic scholars dueling with the sensation writers. There is actually fiction in the world that considers itself so above par, it cannot possibly be classified into something as lowly as a genre. This fiction is called literary. When I was in college, I was taught genre stories were not as fulfilling or meaningful as true literary classics. Though, to be honest, the definition of a literary work is simply to make a point about the human condition and to have the protagonist change or realize something new about him or herself.

Genre A vs. Genre B
Since the literary world sees all genres beneath them, they don't really pick on one category more than another. But once you step into the genre community, the differences begin to stand out. Science fiction and Mystery, for example, like to point at romance fiction--and at Harlequin/Silhouette stories more significantly--calling it fluff and saying it's only formula writing. There's no real substance in romance, they claim.

E-Press vs. Print Press
Romance writers, however, don't think Harlequin/Silhouettes stories lack such substance. In fact, if you sell to Harlequin, you're pretty well respected in romance writing circles. With romance authors, the big debate is between how you're published... by an e-press or print press. Mostly, people consider e-press publishers somewhat lower than print-press publishers.

So, those are the three main debates I've noticed in my writing endeavors... and guess what, I've actually been aspiring to make it to the lowest on that totem pole of importance.

Now, ask me if I care.

No, not really. I know each of my stories have a theme and makes a point about the human condition. I know my hero and heroine learn something about themselves and sometimes change by the end of my books. And I always have that satisfying romance ending, where my two mains get together. Other than that, I just want to tell a story and bring my characters to life on each and every page. If that makes other writers look down at me, oh well... I know what readers like because I know what I would rather sit down and read myself and also... I see what sells the most on the bookstore shelves. And that right there is what's important to me. The reader.

Stephen King illustrated it best in his self help writing book, On Writing. After getting in trouble when he was young for--what do you know--writing, one of his teachers lectured him for his choice of subject, telling him had so much potential and he was just throwing it away on writing garbage. He went on to say, that for years after that, he was actually ashamed of what he wrote and the stories he told. Now, I don't consider King an unsuccessful author. He is one of the most talented storytellers of our time, and I must further comment, I'm glad he didn't let anyone get him down. I'm glad he was able to share all the stories inside him because some of his stories have been made into my favorite movies.

Now, here's my challenge for you today. Don't let anyone belittling your dreams get you down, be those dreams writing or teaching or politics or sky diving. Be proud of what you want to do with your life and don't be afraid to reach for your goals. You never know what you might find in your grasp. And whatever you do, you can always find a group of like-minded individuals who share the same passions. Surrounding yourself by them will help you realize you have purpose and importance.

And I think I'm off my soap box for now. Have a great day.

My Inspirations

Saturday, October 11, 2008
I was scanning the web page of unpublished author Marie-Claude Bourque and felt captivated by the inspiration section on her bio page. Using different movies titles, musician names, author pseudonyms, and television shows to give us an insight into her world, she explained her culture and background very artistically. It's similar to what we do when we create our MySpace page, but I liked how she headed it "Inspirations" and mixed everything up like she did. So I had to do my own and here it is:

To Kill a Mockingbird Sandra Brown Harry Potter Gail Giles Catherine Anderson Moulin Rouge Garth Brook’s The Dance Anne Stuart Kurt Grotheer Romancing the Stone Adam Sandler Shawshank Redemption Dirty Dancing Akon Cheers Marlon Brando Twilight Walt Dinsey’s Cinderella Julia Quinn Doris Crumpacker Black Eyed Peas Beach Boys The Fugitive Nora Roberts Kristin Hannah Funkytown A Walk to Remember The Little Mermaid James Dean Eminem RWA Richard Marx Lisa Kleypas Blue Oyster Cult Jim Carey Scream Linda Howard Willow Blue Collar Comedy Tour Christina’s World South Park Eurythmics Shrek J. R. Ward Friends Journey Sarah Palin Gone with the Wind Suzanne BrockmannTwo and a Half Men Nirvana Meg Ryan

An Inspired Linda

Friday, October 10, 2008
Though we didn't make it home from my writing meeting until a quarter till midnight last night, I feel wide awake this morning and am eager to start the day. There's just something about coming together with a group of people that are as passionate and excited about the same subject you are. When you're surrounded all the time by friends and family who love to affectionately tease you about your dream--Yeah, Linda here writes soft porn (They like to call romance soft porn)--it's as if you step from night into day once you're suddenly embraced by all these other individuals going through the same exact situation. It's enlightening and soothing, encouraging and energizing all wrapped into one fun ball.

Suzanne Arruda gave a spectacular speech, challenging everyone in the meeting to mix in other genres while creating our stories. She contained the very presence of enlightenment and encouraging energy that comforted me into once again feeling satisfied about writing the stories I do so love to write. And there's no denying Suzanne's entertainment value. I spent a good portion of the evening holding my stomach and wiping tears of laughter from my eyes. She is truly a magnificent storyteller. If ever you get the opportunity, watch one of her speeches in person to get the full effect of movement and voice inflection. She's wonderful.

But not only did she bring an amazing presentation to our group, she also brought a guest. I had never met Harlequin Everlasting Love author, Tessa McDermid, before and I had no idea there was another romance author living under a hundred miles from me. It was relieving to discover I had a like-minded writer closer than Kansas City away. And she's such a pleasant person. I enjoyed both her and Suzanne's company all evening and learned so much from them. It was an aspiring writer's dream.

And now that I'm full to bursting with romance enthusiasm this morning, I'm extra-excited about the third and final trailer for the movie, Twilight, that just came out. I would say this is my favorite preview of the movie so far because it really shows the sweet, romantic part of the story. We're able to watch the hero and heroine actually converse... at least Edward's character has more dialogue to match Bella's. And we're showed more of their kiss scene. Wow, that looks... amazing. And when he says, "You are my life now," every romantic bone in my body just melted. Uber sweet. I'm not sure I can wait a little over a month more to watch the whole show. But I guess we'll all have to.

Until then, I hope everyone has a great weekend.

MRW Meeting

Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tomorrow at 6:30pm in the Red Robin on 95th and Metcalf, I'm responsible for providing the program at my writing group's monthly MRW meeting. Author Suzanne Arruda has graciously agreed to give a presentation about how different genres interact with each other. So, if you're in Overland Park, stop by and enjoy the lecture. I think it cost five bucks for a visitor to sit in on a meeting. Not sure. Could be free.

Anyway, I was watching television last night and saw something that scared the bejesus out of me. Don't you hate it when you're home alone at night and, boom, there's this creepy, weird scene on your television that makes all the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Then you gotta walk through your house, turning on all the lights and checking every door lock.

So, after watching the 2008 presidential debate (Sorry, couldn't resist)... actually, it was the trailer for The Happening that totally freaked me out (and, yeah, I realize I'm a couple of months out of date here). I guess this is M. Night Shyamalan's first R rated movie. The commercial I saw last night was ten times more disturbing than the link I've sent you to, but it definitely looks like something I won't watch. If you're one of those die-hard horror movie buffs that loves a good adrenaline rush, however, this is probably the movie of the year for you. You decide.

October Nightstand Reviews

Monday, October 6, 2008
I had my birthday, attended my friend's wedding and now... now none of my pants fit anymore. Yikes. I must've gained five pounds from all that cake and punch. Hmm.

Anyway, I think I promised last month I'd have more books to review this month. And I do, but not much more. The historical romance and romantic suspense books reigned on my nightstand.

Seduction of a Proper Gentleman by Victoria Alexander (Historical Romance).
Oliver Leighton, The Earl of Norcroft, is the last man standing in Alexander's Last Man Standing Series. He won the bet with this friends over who'd be the last of them to marry. Sad thing is, he didn't really care to win. He's the type that wants to fall in love and wants to settle down with a good woman. Well, thank God for Lady Kathleen MacDavid. Because she seems to be that woman. It's too bad their families' curse get in their way, though that does leave for some good reading.

Then You Hide by Roxanne St. Claire (Romantic Suspense).
This is the fifth book in the Bullet Catcher Series, but the second in the trilogy to find triplet daughters. The next book, Now You Die, will tie up that trilogy and is much anticipated because it's Lucy's Story. I can't find it in any of my local bookstores, so I'm going to have to order it online somewhere. But anyway, I'd always thought Lucy would end up with Dan, though that isn't so. She actually gets Jack. Even the author thought she'd put Lucy with Dan, but HERE she tells the real story. It was a fascinating read that shows how sometimes our characters really do take over our writing.

Ace is Wild by Penny McCall (Romantic Suspense).
This is the third book in McCall's FBI series and it follows the first with witty dialogue, crazy chases and the good guys overcoming and hooking up at the end. It was an enjoyable read. I'm glad McCall has more in the series to come.

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas (Historical Romance).
Second in Kleypas's Hathaway series, Seduce Me at Sunrise, finally gives us Win and Merripen's happily ever after. All you have to do is read the excerpt Kleypas posted on her website to see how totally wonderful the story is. And then to further intrigue me, this amazing author set up a nice beginning for the Hathaway brother and the governess to get together. Can't wait for their adventure... hopefully.

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn (Historical Romance).
After reading The Lost Duke of Wyndham, I'd been anxious to get my hands on Mr. Cavendish, the book not the man. And once I did, I was not disappointed. The two books happen at the same time and share some of the same scenes, but are all from different characters' points of view. I enjoyed it because I knew what what going to happen and kept anticipating certain scenes, wondering how each character saw it through their eyes. Great idea for a duo of stories, I say. I'm just depressed they're over now.

Full Manuscript News!

Thursday, October 2, 2008
I might've been onto something yesterday. After commenting (And, yes, let's definitely call it "commenting" because otherwise we'd have to say I was outright whining) about the fact that I hadn't heard from a publisher in a while, I suggested maybe they'd all passed out because they thought my work was so absolutely stupendous (Oh, yeah. That's still a ridiculously funny thought).

So, anyway, one of those editors must've revived herself because she contacted me this morning. What a coincidence, huh? If only I'd waited one more day to whine--I mean, comment--then I wouldn't have needed to say anything at all.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. Get on with the news already. What'd the woman say? Well, hold your horses. Let the suspense build a moment. I need to give background information first so you can feel the full effect as I felt it.

Alright, then. If you've kept up with my blog, then you might've read that about two months ago a publisher finally asked to read one of my full manuscripts, and then a few days later another publisher wanted to read another completed story. I'm not sure if I shared, but a third publisher asked for a third story a few weeks after that. It was that third publisher who emailed me today.

Since sending out full manuscripts is new to me, I have no idea what the protocol is once an editor has finished reading my story. I figured I'd get "The Call" if they liked it and wanted to publish it and I'd received a Dear John Letter if it was rejected.

When I saw an email from the third publisher with "The Stillburrow Crush" in the title line, I was sure I'd just received a rejection. Bluck. But I opened the letter anyway and, Holy Cow. She said she enjoyed--let me repeat, SHE ENJOYED--my story and she's sending it on to another review panel.

Therefore, no, I didn't sell a story today, but I didn't get a rejection either (always a plus). I moved one step closer to my goal (which is to get published, by the way, if you weren't aware). I'm absolutely on cloud nine. I don't recall visiting clouds one through eight, but nine feels very fine. I think I'll stay a while.

October Greetings

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Things are mellow here in my world. Almost a month has passed since I've heard from one of the six publishers reading different manuscript proposals of mine. But then, I haven't waited for anything longer than four months, and four months in the writer's waiting world isn't so awfully long. I'd like to think all those wonderful editors who haven't contacted me yet are simply caught in a swoon after reading my amazing stories (LoL! Even I can't keep a straight face while saying that).

I'm not getting any younger though as I twiddle my thumbs. In fact, I'll be a year older this Saturday. I'm going to attend a wedding to celebrate. Yes, it's a sneaky way to get some cake on my birthday but, hey, whatever works.

On house and health issues, I'm feeling pretty good lately. Of course, I'm swallowing ten pills a day, so who wouldn't feel good at this point? I have an appointment with my endocrinologist at the end of the month and might narrow my medicine down to two pills day if I'm lucky.

My house's wall should have some mud and tape on the sheet rock sometime this week. Painting is the next step I get to pursue and man do I have some wild colors picked out. I'm thinking purple and gold walls for my grape kitchen, blinding yellow for the rubber ducky bathroom, forest green for my husband's den, two tones of blue with wallpaper border separating them for the master bedroom and grey with purple flicked on the walls for my library. I can't remember what color the living room will be. I think it's a light greenish brown. This whole picking-out-my-own-house-details is starting to turn exciting.

You should've seen me in the appliance store. I had to have one of those French-door refrigerators with the freezer on the bottom and a flat top stove... and a dishwasher. Praise the Lord, I'm going to have a dishwasher now. My husband will no longer be able to tease, "Yeah, I have a dishwasher. Her name's Linda." Life is beginning to look up. Except... now I have to actually pay for this stuff. Yikes.