Sunday, June 28, 2009

My first Blog on Hitting the Hot Spot

Today marked my first post with Total-e-Bound's, Hitting the Hot Spot blog. And while I promise I won't copy every post I write on their blog (or Resplendence Gems) over to mine, the first one is always a bit nostalgic. I have to admit, it's a bit nerve racking to think of the number of people who could read my thoughts. But I suppose that's half the fun of venturing down an unknown path.

I hope you enjoy my venture into the realm of Happily Ever After. And feel free to leave any comments on your ideas on the subject, especially if you've managed to find your own.

The Ever Elusive Happily Ever After...

I'll start of by stating, this wasn't going to be my original post. You see, I'm new to TEB. In fact, I'm new to publishing in general. My debut novel isn't due out till November, so excuse the smudges of green on the page. But like any crazed newbie, I wanted to jump right in and get my hands dirty. I just wasn't sure what to talk about. I mean, you can only promo so much, and no one wants to hear about a book that isn't out for five more months. Then a friend suggested I spend some of the time telling you about myself... kind of a courting of sorts. And my intentions were to do so, until an incident last night prompted me to shift gears slightly.

But I'll start off with quick introduction. My name is Kris Norris, and if you go searching through the author profiles, you won't bring up much more than a picture and a bio. I've currently got four novels due out between November and January, with a couple more hopefuls at the mercy of my editors :D In the coming months I'll tell you a bit more about myself, most likely through tales of my life before writing centred my focus. I've had a few interesting jobs. Did you know I spent some time in the military? Something I usually only chat about after that initial rush of alcoholic bliss. Or that I'm a commercial helicopter pilot? That I'm obsessive about running with my dog, I'm addicted to Diet Coke and that I can't stand people who drive 20 km under the posted speed limit? Or that... okay I'm stopping, promise, but all of these things tell you a lot about who I am, and why I write the kind of characters I do. But for today, I'd like to chat about the all encompassing, if not ever elusive, "Happily Ever After."

I've been thinking about why we love reading romances, erotic ones at that. Is it just a way to escape reality? Is it for the hot, hunky men we all wish hid in our beds, waiting for us to pounce whenever the feeling strikes us? Is it just for the sex? I suppose these are some of the reasons we flip pages, whether in our hands or on our computers. But for me, I think the ultimate factor is knowing that, no matter what trials the characters face, there'll be a happy, satisfying ending. Confetti tossing, bird singing, praise the Lord kind of celebration we've all come to love. After all, Happily Ever Afters are one of the prime defining attributes of a romance novel. But why, when we're willing to dispel all other aspects of rational thought, do we still insist, if not desire, this seemingly impossible feat beyond every thing else?

Here's where my personal experience plays in.

The other night a good friend had a rather unpleasant encounter with her soon to be ex. I won't go into details, but I'm sure you can picture it... bitter feelings, heated words, a case of beer, the hollow reflection of the squad car lights... Anyway, it seems her life was as far away from Happily Ever After as one could get. And she's not alone. I'm sure we all have friends and family swimming against the chaos, doing their best to claw their way back to some semblance of happiness. Heck, many of them don't even get their fair share of Happy for Now moments. So I wondered, am I simply sprouting blatant propaganda when I leave my characters in emotional bliss? Is the concept of Happily Ever After actually the last in a long line of urban legends yet to be dismissed on an episode of Myth Busters?

It took some time, and a whole lot of soul searching, to realize, the answer was — NO. Because Happily Ever After isn't a place you go to. It's not a magical land where you wave your wand and all of life's turmoils vanish like the mist with the morning sun. Happily Ever After is a state of mind. One we all have, but sometimes forget. It's the way you sigh at a beautiful sunrise... the gleam in your child's eye when they tell you you're the greatest mom ever, and actually mean it!... it's stopping to hold the door open and seeing appreciation in that person's eyes, or calling your parents just to chat. It's all the little things we do each and every day and rarely notice. But since we seldom delve into these more mundane matters in our books, we make it seem like a grand illusion our characters visit once their story ends and not the day to day moments that make up a life. It's almost as if they're Dorothy in OZ, clicking their heals together chanting, "I will be happy," three times.

Alas, real life isn't quite so simple. And while I love having a book "take me away", I think the best part is the warm fuzzy feeling at the end you carry around with you. The one that makes you smile when the milk lands on the floor or the dog eats your new leather shoes. I've come to realize Happily Ever After is just another way of saying, they're making the most of every moment.

So go ahead. Get lost in a great book. Smile at the first kiss, squirm during the love scenes and sigh when the hero whisks the heroine away in that magical final chapter. Take that feeling with you and remember these words... my favourite from a not so well known movie...

In the end, it's not whether they lived Happily Ever After that matters... but the fact that they lived.

Here's to making your own Happily Ever After.
And know, for me, it's keeping a few simple rules:

It's five o'clock somewhere
Chocolate and tape fix almost every thing, and
Let the crazy out slow.

Cheers to all,

Kris Norris
Romancing life... one adventure at a time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Sounds of Summer

It's here. After ten months of up at the crack of dawn, running out the door to catch the bus, throwing together lunches in the blink of an eye. Finally... it's summer!

Yes, folks. Tomorrow marks the last day in another year of school, and the beginning of the almighty Summer Vacation. For kids, it's a benchmark. They bear the smiles of their success, the scars of failure and the wisdom of learning to survive one more round of classes. For parents, it's a time of both celebration and sorrow.

I'm thrilled at not having to worry about bed time. About homework or spelling tests. Not having to mark off field trips and play dates. I love having dinner when we're actually hungry, and having them help with chores around the house. But there's another side to summer. A side all parents cringe over.

No more peace...

Yup, I mean it exactly like that. And while I swear they hardly spend any time actually in school, there's now five hours more I'll be required to be on duty. Five more hours as a chauffeur, maid, cook, referee and nurse. Five more hours of trying to steal more than ten minutes at a time to write. Five more hours of not getting my work done.

So I'm raising a toast to summer. To trips to the lake and BBQ's with friends. To staying up late and sleeping in even later. To forgetting all the math and science they spent ten months mastering. To just being kids... doing what nature intended.

Cheers to all those parents shifting gears and learning, once again, the pure pleasure of having children no longer in school.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My first Blog on Resplendence Gems

The New Kid on the Block

And no, I don't mean the 80's boy band that took America by storm... I'm talking about being a new author in what seems like a genre of veterans. You know the kind, so green they blend in with the grass. The ones who want to jump in with both feet and join every blog, chat and group they can just to feel like they belong. And I suppose there's no one better suited to the title here at the "gem" than yours truly.

So let me introduce myself. My name's Kris, and I'm so new you won't even find my books listed yet. So you can imagine how strange it feels looking around and seeing all the beautiful cover art and the endless lists of titles under each author's belt. But, even though the only people googling my name are family and friends (yes, twenty dollars still goes a long way) I didn't want that to stop me. After all, who better to give you the insight of a work in progress author, than one in the thick of it. And if I've learnt anything over the past month, it's... there's a lot to learn.

Originally I figured writing a full, 90K novel was the hard part. I didn't know I'd have to write query letters and make tag lines and blurbs just to catch the editor's attention before they'd even open my sample chapters. So off I went, spending another seemingly endless amount of time trying to summarize my book into one line and finding a creative way to outline the theme in a couple of paragraphs that will have my novels jumping off the shelves, or in a lot of cases, downloading off into cyber space. I scrutinized every page, reading it so many times I couldn't have found a grammar error if it'd jumped off the page, constantly pondering if the few thousand words I cut were the ones I really should have kept. But, finally, there comes a time when you ask... what do I do next? Is it ready to hit an editor's desk? Do I really think I've got what it takes to make it past their slush pile?

Thankfully the answer was yes, but success rarely comes instantly and if you're going to pursue a career in writing, be prepared for your fair share of rejection letters. Whether you submit directly to a publisher or try to get an agent, it's tough to get past that initial selection process. But with determination, some talent, and a bit of luck from your old rabbit's foot, your day finally arrives... an email that doesn't tell you "they hope you find a home for your novel," but one that asks if you'd like to "contract it to them!"

So once you finish picking yourself up off the floor, be prepared. 'Cause now the real work begins. Who knew you'd have to have a website, a blog page, an email for fans? I know, I sat there staring at the request thinking... I'm going to have fans? I'm not sure about other authors, but I can honestly say, fans weren't the reason I wrote the book. I wrote it to please those voices in my head that wouldn't seem to quiet down until I told their story. (And no, I'm not completely insane yet, but thanks for asking.) And quite frankly, the thought of fans seems very surreal. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm looking forward to the first piece of fan email... another milestone down the road of becoming published. Just as soon as I start a myspace page and don't even start about the twitter thing...So, the reality is, there is still a ton of work to be done, even though others may think you've already made it.

Thus, to all you aspiring authors, take heed. Start now. Get a website. It doesn't have to be fancy and for quite a while mine was pretty meager. And while I've managed to fill it up, since my first book isn't due out until November, it's still just mostly for my pleasure. But it's there, ready to go, for my soon to be adoring fans. (yes, I will believe! If I make it, they will come.) And once you've got that done, start blogging. It doesn't have to revolve around only writing. I talk about everything, from relearning my 10 year old's math, to trying to rename a novel. All that matters is that you've got it all in place. Trust me, it'll save you a lot of frustration when that magical day finally happens.

So there's the tip of the iceberg, folks. There's much more to being the new kid than just making blogs and websites, but as I said, I'm learning as I go. I still don't know much about promo's and getting yourself out there, but each step is another down. Besides, those are great fodder for another post.

Here's to staying focused, and letting the crazy out slow.

Kris Norris

Romancing life... one adventure at a time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's in a name...

You'd think as a writer, actually composing 90K plus words would be the hardest part of the process. Naming characters, figuring our how the story flows together and making sure you keep days and clothes straight are all challenges you face in order to make a novel more than just a collection of words. But picking a title, child's play.

Or is it?

After getting four contracts in a month, the hardest thing I've faced is having to rename two of my books. Yup, twice the dreaded email has popped up... title change requested. But what's the big deal?

For many, I'm sure it's nothing. They sprout great titles as easily as dandelions grow in my yard. But for me. I might as well try to cut off a limb as come up with another name. After all, I've probably spent more time agonizing over the first one than I did writing the damn thing. And if not, it was close. So how do you pull an amazing title out of the proverbial hat?

If you're me, you don't. You think, and you ponder and when all else fails, you ask for help. Hopefully from one of those title making machine people. But in the end, you pick something that goes with the book, knowing that for you, it'll never be anything other than the name you chose the first time. But heck, I guess no one else will know.

So the next time you read a novel take a second to wonder if there could've been another title once upon a time. If the one you're reading is merely second fiddle.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

8 Days a Week

Is it just me, or does the impending end of school make life revolve at twice the normal speed? Not only do I need more hours in the day to get everything done, I need more days in the week to squeeze in all the things that seem to forever stay on the "to-do" list. 

I've got two more books I want to ship out to my editors, two blogs I've signed up to take part in, field trips from school coming out the wazzoo and a garden to do battle with so the neighbours don't think we're really renters who don't seem to own a shovel or a pair of gardening gloves.

Ah, but just two more weeks. That's right, here in Canada primary schools continue to trek off to school until the 25th of June. A cruel and unusual punishment... but that's fodder for another blog.

So I'll cut this one short. As I hinted at above, I've signed up to be part of the Resplendence Gems blog. I'm up on the 17th of every month, so hop on over and catch up on all the exciting news and releases. And I've added a whole bunch of blurbs and excerpts on my website for the four books up and coming. Come on over and check it out at 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Four, definitely my new favourite number.

I've often pondered if authors ever got complacent with their releases? If there ever came a day when they'd submit a book and just casually nod when the contract came back, signing it while contemplating other facets of their life? Did success become as mundane to them as, say, brushing their teeth or driving their car?

Well, I can only speak for this particular author... and for me it's definitely a resounding... NO!!!

I feel like I've taken a trip to the moon and can't keep my feet on the ground. I recently submitted a short story and just got the news it'll be released some time this December! Yup, number four on my hit list and I'm still so excited I have to remind myself the kids do need to eat! And no, granola bars are not a suitable dinner substitute.

Anyway, I'm sorry if you're all getting bored with my rantings of joy, but when you've waited for your career to take off, every step feels like a milestone. Thanks to all my friends who patiently listen every time I call and scream into the handset. Sorry ladies, I'll try to rein it in... hey, who am I kidding... this is me, passionate to a fault at times, but always shouting it from the rooftops.