Monday, October 31, 2011

Bam Bam rocks my muse world

My husband is so going to kill me for this, but I'm taking the chance anyway.

It's Halloween and though there are some muse-worthy hotties of the real celebrity form, I couldn't resist turning the muse avatar spotlight on to Bam Bam.

Doesn't he look adorable with his white surfer hair and leopard print beanie? (Yup, I'm going to die - and he'll get away with it since it's Halloween!)

Every year, my husband tries to get me into a Brussel Sprout costume because he is 6'5" and thus a worthy Jolly Green Giant. I'm short, but really? Not going to happen.

I must admit though, when we found these awesome Pebbles and Bam Bam costumes, I couldn't help but fall in love with my husband all over again. He's tall, tattooed, and often intimidating - but had no problem playing the part of young Bam Bam, even when we entered a pub full of zombies, vampires and drunk people not even dressed up. He was so confident and fun!

We actually won the costume contest, but that isn't the only reason I'm naming Bam Bam (aka: handsome hubby) this week's muse avatar.

He put up with a lot from me this weekend. An emotional outburst as I blubbered about missing family, and recognizing my teen stepdaughter is pretty much past "family time" holidays. Not to mention the six hours he put into creating our awesome Halloween Lane for the local trick-or-treaters. He bought champagne to celebrate the e-book launch of Spirited (containing a story by "the other me") and didn't even look at me askance when I said tomorrow was the start of NaNoWriMo.

Yes, even after I explained what it was.

Muse worthy indeed.

After a highly energized October, I thought November might slow down a bit. Instead, I've jam packed the month with great projects, including my yearly attempt at completing 50,000 words inside a month. Doing the NaNo? My handle is Jagger74 - please come find me so you can kick me in the butt. Otherwise, Bam Bam will just club me.

Wishing everyone a safe and HAPPY Halloween. Go out there and scare some people, K.

Oh...I might save myself from my husband's wrath if I post a picture of the two of us as Pebbles and Bam Bam. Please try not to laugh TOO hard!

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

Friday, October 28, 2011

The other me is geeking out

Go ahead and laugh, but it's true.

I am not my level-headed self these days.

I've always taken the ups and downs of this unpredictable publishing industry with stride. My mentors have schooled me to be patient, and I'm careful about not announcing any of the irons in my proverbial fire until they're so hot, they're imprinted in my hand. Irrefutable evidence the project exists, I suppose.

I'm good at keeping secrets and selective about who receives the news when I'm ready to share it.

Which is why I thought I'd be less affected by the launch of the Spirited anthology.

Instead, I am totally geeking out.

It started about two weeks ago when I saw my "other" name on the cover of the book, along with 12 other paranormal YA authors I admire and respect. I even managed to wipe up my drool before it hit the floor... I sent the photo to my family, my friends, and even whipped out my iPhone to show it off to strangers. Well, just once...

But then the actual e-book popped up on - almost a week before the official October 31 launch.

And something very strange happened to me.

I created an profile page. And Tweeted/Facebooked about it as though it was a masterpiece fit for the Louvre.

I applied for a Goodreads author profile - and anxiously watched my inbox until confirmation arrived. More tweeting. Another Facebook update. That feat even warranted a call to my Dad...who sadly has no idea what Goodreads is, or why the hell he should turn on his dinosaur of a computer and enter my name - my married name - into a computer to find out. (Sidenote: When I forwarded the cover image to my Dad, he scanned the cover four times, grunting into the phone, "What am I looking for here?" He didn't clue in that Dawn DALTON is me. The other me.)

But I'm pretty sure my behaviour last night just about sent my husband over the edge.

Spirited, for at least an hour, was listed at #16 on Amazon Best Sellers in Children's Short Fiction top 100. You'd almost think I'd won the lottery. I "whooted." I tweeted. I Facebooked. I texted my sister. And I called my mother-in-law and my father. Thank goodness for mother-in-laws because my Dad's first question was, "So when are you going to be number one?" Sigh.

Irrational behaviour for sure, but even worse when I became obsessed with refreshing the page, holding my breath as the list emerged onto my iPhone screen.

Which is when I realized how quickly the list shuffles.

By the time I'd gone to sleep (which took considerable effort and a Tylenol Cold and Flu), Spirited had slid down to #23.

Honestly, though? I'm still geeking out.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

Monday, October 24, 2011

Once upon a muse

I've added a new show to my top list of TV viewing this fall, and if last night's premiere was any indication of its quality, I have no doubt Once Upon a Time will soon skyrocket to first place.

I've anxiously awaited the arrival of Once Upon a Time since the first preview months ago, hopeful it would live up to its hype.

It exceeded it.

The official logline is: When a young boy who purports to be her son shows up on her doorstep, Emma Swan is drawn into a town where the magic and mystery of fairytales may be real and hold the key to unlocking the mysteries of her troubled past.

That's rather simplifying what I consider a brilliant concept that was, at least in the series opener, brilliantly executed.

Modern twists on fairy tales aren't new, and indeed are all the rage on the big screen, with the release of Beastly and Red Riding Hood last year. I enjoyed both of those movies (though admit neither lived up to its full potential). Once Upon a Time is something entirely different - and refreshing!

Each of the actors have dual roles - their storybook character, and the real-life person who lives in Storybrooke, Maine. (Don't groan, it's actually quite clever...) It was great fun to figure out each fairytale persona. Snow White is perfect, the evil Queen is delicious, Rimplestiltskin is incredible, and those seven dwarves? Fantastic!

Prince Charming ain't so bad himself, which is why Josh Dallas is this week's muse avatar. A head cold blindsided me yesterday afternoon and my thoughts are a bit jumbled from the overdose of cold and flu medication. It's going to take more than the wave of a magic wand to draw out more than a couple coherent sentences from me. Maybe the prince can help.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

Huge congratulations to my dear friend, Jessica Bell, whose debut novel String Bridge releases Nov. 11, 2011. The book is a literary masterpiece, showcasing Jessica's astonishing talent.

But if that's not enough, Jessica also created a soundtrack for the book, writing and performing each song. Her voice is both haunting and beautiful, and yet another demonstration of her boundless passion for excellence. Melody Hill - On the Other Side releases today on iTunes. You'll want to pick this one up!

Last week, I revealed that "the other me" is taking part in the Crossroads Blog Tour. If you haven't checked it out, don't miss out on an opportunity to win free books and stellar swag from each of the 15 participating authors.

It's a paranormal creep-a-thon you won't want to miss!

And, lastly (I promise), Leap Books and Bridge Social Media is offering YOU a chance to win one of 13 copies of SPIRITED, a haunting collection of short stories by bestselling and dreadfully-talented debut authors of paranormal YA fiction.

Check out the Leap or Bridge blogs for details. You can follow the contest on Twitter three ways - @Spirited13, @BridgeSocial or @LeapBks. You never know what clues may be hidden amongst the tweets.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The other me is on tour...

I'll never forget the day I was almost assaulted by an irritated mother.

No, not THAT time.

Back when I worked at Chapters, I had the pleasure of hanging out in the fiction and children's sections of the store. I enjoyed shelving books, mostly because I could mentally inventory all of the great new - and old - releases in stock. You learn a lot about some of your go-to authors that way.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of my favorite teen fiction authors also writes erotica. I'm not one to judge - there isn't a genre I haven't dabbled in, and some of my writerly friends are very talented in that area. (I'm reading a hot werewolf book by one of them right now!)

The trouble came when one of my booksellers didn't pay attention to the title and genre of the book (or clearly the cover) and shelved the erotica in with the young adult fiction by the same author. You can guess what happened - young kid buys book by author, gets it home and Mom blows a gasket.

I decided then that should I ever want to write youth fiction, I'd go with a pen name.

In the adult world, I write thriller and paranormal romance. I'm not into heavy sex and violence - unless the scene warrants it. But I wouldn't want my young nephews and nieces, or even my stepdaughter to read some of my work. Yet.

Which is why I've created another blog and a whole new persona.

I haven't been covert about the fact that I write under both names. The links are all over the place, and I'm using my married name (which has the added bonus of making my husband happy) so anyone who knows anything about me (or is following the Spirited Ghosthunters contest) knows I'm one and the same person. In fact, anyone could figure out the link with a quick Google search.

But there is separation, even if it's dangling by a thread.

Well, that other me is soon to have a short story published in the Spirited anthology (e-book launching October 31 and print edition scheduled for March, 2012), which means a couple of things:

1. I'm published! And in the company of some amazing YA authors, like Candace Havens, Maria Snyder, Shannon Delany, Heather Kenealy, Judith Graves, Kitty Keswick...and more! Plus, proceeds from the book will be donated to youth literacy, through 826 National.

2. I'm able to participate in the Crossroads Blog Tour with another 14 amazing paranormal young adult authors.

From October 22 through to October 29, I'll be interviewed on a different awesome blog per day where I'll be chatting about Halloween, books, youth literacy, and my, er, bad habits.

The schedule and all the links are posted on the sidebar of my other blog. I hope you'll join me there. Besides lending support for me (thank you!), you have a great chance to win free books and swag. Huzzah!

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

Monday, October 17, 2011

In love with the muse

I'm writing about love this week, my friends.

The unmatched, unloved, unrequited, and the just plain desperate. And of course, the greatest loves of all time.

With the Spirited anthology edits behind me, I return to adult writing - and Heartless.

Which is good enough reason to bring back my most-loved and most-used muse avatar, Ian Somerhalder.

Aka: Damon Salvatore on the The Vampire Diaries.

Aka: Vamp of my dreams (when True Blood's Eric Northman isn't around...)

This past episode of The Vampire Diaries may have been one of the best. Something dramatic happened with almost every character, and that cliffhanger ending? Holy freaking crap. I'm still a little slack-jawed.

But amidst all that drama was some bonafide romance, and hot damn if my guy Damon didn't whisper some swoon-worthy zingers.

I could use some of those one-liners myself. In the MS, people - handsome hubby has a buffet of words to make me melt, I promise.

Here's hoping Ian can send some of his romantic wordsmithing my way this week. Go forth, sexy vampire, and make me, er, my characters swoon...

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstein

PS - You may have noticed that The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler is no longer "the book in my bag." I tried, honest I did. But despite raving reviews to the contrary, I simply couldn't get into the book. Perhaps it was the strange point of view, or maybe I found myself mesmerized by the YA book also in my bag, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Either way, I'm putting it back on the shelf. For now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Block busting

Sometimes I whine about "the block."

I know approximately when it's going to happen - deadlines piling up, something "off" in my non-writing world, lack of time to create more than dinner. Combined, these factors lead to writerly procrastination, and eventually, the dreaded "block."

I've always considered "the block" an obstacle for creative people. I may have even suggested non-creative types wouldn't "get" it.

How arrogant of me!

After listening to me whine about "the block" yesterday, a dear, self-proclaimed non-creative friend reminded me that every career has elements of difficulty - tasks you haven't quite figured out how to complete, or icky jobs that leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

She's an accountant who loves her career, and the opportunity and challenge of making numbers dance. But that doesn't mean she doesn't get blocked - a statistics chart she hasn't quite figured out how to format, a series of equations that never quite add up, the desire to curl up with a good book instead of trucking it into the office.

Those are her blocks - no different than when I hit a plot snag, or can't quite hear my character's voice.

So what's her block-busting secret?

Just do.

Well crap. Who knew it would be so easy?

Thanks, Sue for listening to me whine - and then kicking my butt into gear.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Hypnotist, Lars Kepler

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thanksgiving with Monday's muse avatar

My family is celebrating its first Canadian Thanksgiving in our new house this year.

While there's much to be thankful for, and handsome hubby is helping me stuff a turkey, our household decor is more geared to Halloween.

Don't judge.

If you're a Halloween junkie like us, check out my daily Dawn Dalton blog to see some of the cool stuff we've created - like a chicken wire ghost that will send chills down your spine, a meatloaf hand that will gross out your party guests, and easy mason jar lanterns guaranteed to make you smile.

But, uh, back to Thanksgiving.

It's been an up and down year, if I'm going to be honest. There's been a number of low points, but the highs definitely outweigh the rest.

In no particular order, I'm grateful for:

  • An amazing husband who offers me unconditional love and support. He's my best friend, my prince charming, and the love of my life. How lucky am I? Very.
  • My beautiful stepdaughter. She brings happiness and life to me that only a child can - and I love her with every ounce of my being.
  • My extended family - close and distant, and those who have passed. Each plays such an important role in my life and I am grateful for every minute we've shared. (And I wish we lived closer...)
  • My small, but vital, network of friends. And I do mean vital.
  • Three loving dogs - and nine healthy puppies. It's been a houseful, but I am thankful to have had the chance to witness the magic of raising puppies. As they leave to their forever homes, I am grateful for the happiness they bring to each loving family.
  • A beautiful home in the country. Away from the stress of the city. Nestled in a small hamlet. Where I can relax in a sunroom my husband created, or write in the loft office I've always dreamed of.
  • Deadlines and meeting them. I'm so excited to be a part of the SPIRITED anthology with some truly talented writers of paranormal young adult fiction. 
  • Writing. My release. My torture. My life blood. Thank goodness my husband and stepdaughter get this.
And for um, Kiefer Sutherland, this week's muse avatar. I've been at a bit of a loss since 24 completed - few men can truly compete with Jack Bauer. But in the midst of all the new TV drama I've been sucking up, I found out something amazing: Kiefer is coming back to my small screen this Spring.

I'm coming back this week. Editing my short story THREAD OF THE PAST, for the SPIRITED anthology was grueling. I learned so much from Kat, the Leap Books editor, but until I was certain the story was as strong as it could be, it's all I've thought about. 

Ineffective when so many other projects hang in wait.

I've got three major works in progress on the go, and I'm planning to do NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) this year, now that I have a NaNo buddy. 

Jack Bauer, er, Kiefer is the perfect muse avatar to kick my butt in gear. 

To all my Canadian peeps, have an awesome Thanksgiving. May you count your blessings, and stuff your bellies.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Hypnotist, Lars Kepler

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tightening up

My editor for the SPIRITED anthology says some of my prose needs a little tightening.

Er, Marky Mark Wahlberg here looks as though he can help with that, no?

I'm on deadline (shocking, I know), and I needed a muse avatar that required very little introduction or explanation.

I think he's just what the doctor editor ordered.

- Dawn

The Book In My Bag Today: The Hypnotist, lars Kepler

PS - Want to win a copy of the SPIRITED anthology? Leap Books and Bridge Social Media are giving you a chance to win a copy of this hauntingly great book. Check out the blogs, follow Spirited13 on Twitter, and you may win.