Sunday, October 16, 2011

Break Out the Bubbly & Dark Chocolate--Celebrating Carla Swafford's Debut Novel CIRCLE OF DESIRE

Fabulous Cover!

I am delighted to have a very special writing sister on the blog today. I met Carla Swafford 3 years ago at a Southern Magic Romance Writer's meeting. Carla's always been active in the group, a wonderful mentor, a contest coordinator for the Linda Howard Award of Excellence, our web mistress, and and and... she just helps all the time. She's a wonderful writer and a great friend, so I'm excited to announce that she's got her first book release coming out this week! CIRCLE OF DESIRE. And after reading her 4 1/2 star book review in Romance Times, I bet she'll have lots of books releasing in the future. A fabulous debut for a fabulous writer! *PoP* PouR* *Cheers!* 

Welcome to the Veranda, Carla. Thanks so much, Christine, for the invitation to talk about my debut book, CIRCLE OF DESIRE. 
I'm honored to have you here, Carla. Tell me, are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?  
I wish I was a plotter. Maybe most who write by the seat of their pants feel that way. Though I do have to mention, when I reach the halfway mark in any of my books, I’ll often write out parts of what Blake Snyder (SAVE THE CAT) called his Beat Sheet. It’s fifteen “beats” to a story. For example: Opening Image, Theme Stated, Set-up, Catalyst, etc. Plus I use Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure and Christopher Vogler’s THE WRITER’S JOURNEY to flesh out what I’ve written. This also pushes me to finish my book.
I have all three books in my writing shelf. Love to use them. Great reminder to dust off my craft books, Carla. When does your new book release and where can we find it? 
My debut book, CIRCLE OF DESIRE, will be out October 18 by HarperCollins, Avon Impulse.  It’ll be in e-format and later in paperback through print-on-demand. You can find it at Amazon and on-line at Barnes and Noble.  Here’s the blurb for it.
As the top assassin at The Circle, a shadowy group of mercenaries, Olivia St. Vincent can hunt down anyone. She's been trained since she was a teenager to kill without feeling, to interact with men without love. But when she's kidnapped by the enigmatic leader of a rival organization, she learns she's been lied to for years. She never worked for the good guys.
Collin Ryker believes the sultry woman he's abducted knows more than she's telling about The Circle and its plans for complete domination. Over time, as they work together, Olivia's tenacity and vulnerability captivate him. But if he isn't careful, Collin will fall into the biggest trap of all: caring for a woman who can betray him to his greatest enemy.
Oh, this book sounds so thrilling, dark, and sexy. I can't wait to read it! What is your current project? 
I’m actually writing the second book in the series, CIRCLE OF DANGER. It’s due out the first half of 2012. Like a lot of readers, I love to find out what happens to supporting characters from a previous book. This will be the story of Collin’s brother.
I love reading books in a series. Visiting my "people" again. Where do you get your ideas for your stories? 
Oh, everywhere. From newspaper articles, TV shows, and my favorite way, from songs. I’ve written two books (unpublished) that were based on songs: THE PREACHER’S SON is from LeAnn Rimes’s “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way.” I loved the beginning and ending of the song in particular. It goes “Got a date a week from Friday with the preacher’s son. Everybody says he’s crazy.” And it ends, “Got a date a week from Friday with the preacher's son. Everybody says I’m crazy.” Love it! 
The other one was A SHERIFF TO CALL HER OWN and it was based on an Eric Clapton classic, I Shot The Sheriff. The heroine shoots the sheriff in a fit of rage. Thankfully it was only a nick, and he’s very understanding. It was so much fun to write. Maybe one day they’ll be published.
When it comes to CIRCLE OF DESIRE, it came from my love for the TV series from the 90s, Le Femme Nikita. The characters in the series had so many layers, and the show was so sexy even when no one was naked.
I hope your other books get published, too, Carla. How long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?” 
I’ve been a member of RWA since 1993, but my usual answer is nine years. Let me explain. Though I received my first rejection in 1992, I waited ten years before trying again. Like a lot of writers, family obligations and a day job got in the way. Then in 2002 after several more rejections, I turned to my local RWA chapter, Southern Magic, to find out what I was doing wrong. I quickly realized I had so much to learn about writing and the industry. Everyone should go to those meetings. You’ll hear what editors are looking for, which agents to avoid, how to pitch your manuscript, and so much more. There’s a wealth of information given out that you can never learn on your own.
I completely agree about the romance chapters being crucial to getting ahead in this business. My writing soared after I joined RWA. Attending the meetings is vital to developing craft, networking, and making friends who "get us." Tell me, was the “call” an actual phone conversation or an email or a snail mail? 
The initial contact was by email. A few minutes after five in the afternoon, I was about to leave work to go to a hair appointment. Since I wouldn’t be home until late, I decided to check my email. I noticed one of the subject lines read, “Out of the Shadows” (later changed to CIRCLE OF DESIRE). At first, I thought it was something to do with one of the writing contests I’d entered. I swear it took me a minute or so before I realized what I was reading. Avon Impulse wanted my book, and the editor wanted to call me if it was convenient. CONVENIENT? Heck, yes! It was so exciting. I rate it up there with holding my children for the first time. Not higher, but pretty close to equal. My kids might read this. :-)
Well, our books are like our babies, aren't they? So wonderful to see all your hard work rewarded! What advice would you give aspiring writers? 
I have lots of advice as I had aspired for years. So my top five: 1) Don’t give up; 2) Keep it simple; 3) Learn everything you can; 4) Be polite to everyone; 5) Follow your heart; 6) Pass it forward (help others to become published even when you’re not). Karma can play a role in getting you published.
Yes, helping others and being polite are so important. And I'd add another one, remember to say "thank you" to those who've helped along the way. Which I know you do! What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection? 
Anything worth having is hard to attain. Of course, there is always that author friend who had their first book published. They’re the exception and not the rule. Overall, if we want something bad enough, we’ll keep working, keep trying something new and keep improving on our craft. That rejection can mean many things. It may have nothing to do with your writing. The editor may have just bought a story with the same basic plot line. Or she may not like stories with witches or heroines with pets. Editors and agents rarely have time to give you details. If you continue to get rejections for one story, write another and start sending that one out after you finished and have it critiqued.
Excellent advice. What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you received the call?
That everyone won’t bow down and kiss my feet. I just don’t understand it. LOL!
This is why I love you, Carla. You're make me laugh and I'm so happy for you!! Congratulations again on your wonderful debut release CIRCLE OF DESIRE! 
You can find Carla at the following addresses online. I know she'd love to hear from you.  Meanwhile join the excitement all week with Carla. She has a blog tour that starts today and ends on October 25th. On the 25th  she’ll draw names from all the commenters for 4 prizes.  $25 Amazon gift certificate from Avon Impulse.  And 3 $10 gift cards to Barnes and Noble.  One prize per winner. I know I'll be following her all week. :-)
Twitter: @carlaswafford


marybelle said...

Great interview. I wish you every success with CIRCLE OF DESIRE.


Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks Christine for another great interview.

And Carla, La Femme Nikita was one of my absolute favorite shows back then! Congratulations on Circle of Desire, it sounds so exciting!!

Carla Swafford said...

Thank you, Marybelle. From your fingertips to God's ears. :-)

Thanks again, that reminds me...

Everyone, if you comment and don't have your email address on your Blogger profile, be sure to include it so I can get in touch with you.

Carla Swafford said...

Hey, Anne! Everything about that show was so good. The actors, the clothes and the music. I've got the CD and whenever I listen to it, I can remember the scene. Yes. I'm that weird. LOL!

Carla Swafford said...

Christine, I don't think I've ever told you how pretty your blog is. Love the colors.

Christine said...

Hi Carla: Thanks for the compliment. Darling Teen did this for me. She's so talented. I love her work--shabby chic templates I think is where she got the background.


Patricia Preston said...

Wishing you the best, Carla! I still remember the first time I saw you, you were wearing red horns! LOL!

Heather said...

Your writing voice is very distinctive. Does the voice grow from the story, or does your voice drive the story (hope that makes sense)?

Chris Bailey said...

Enjoy your success! While it may be true that this first novel will not magically produce a household staff and personal shoppers, it WILL lead to adoring fans who can't wait to read the next installment!

Pam Asberry said...

Congrats and continued success! :-)

Carla Swafford said...

LOL! I completely forgot about that, Patricia. Yep. That was when I gave a presentation called "Query Hell." So much fun.

Glad to see you here. And THANKS!

Carla Swafford said...

Heather, that's a good question. And I think I know where you're coming from on it.

When I write contemporary, my voice is that, very contemporary. But when I write a historical, it comes through differently. Mainly, because of word choices. Medievals tend to lean toward the more flowerly phrases. Westerns toward the older plain ones.

In other words (pun intended), I think the voice (rhythm) is the same, but a reader can be thrown off by the word choices.

Carla Swafford said...

Aww! Chris, speak of word choices ... I always love yours. Thanks!

Carla Swafford said...

Thank you, Pam. HUG.

Lexi said...

This is so exciting, Carla! And well-deserved. Enjoy release week. I know you're walking on air! Love yah, chicka!

Carla Swafford said...

Thanks, Lexi. It is fun, isn't it?

For those who don't know, Lexi is Lexi George, and she writes great light Southern (America) paranormal. Be sure to check her out.

Karen H in NC said...

Hi Carla,

Nice meeting you and congratulations on the release of your debut book! Sounds like a winner too!

Carla Swafford said...

Well, hello there, Karen! LOL! Fancy meeting you here. And thanks! Looking forward to getting to know you.

Kara C said...

I am waiting, mostly patiently,fror this book to load on my Kindle.... TOMORROW!
Hope you have a blast with your release week, Carla. I'll definitely be recommending all my reader friends get this book.

Carla Swafford said...

Thanks, Kara. You're doing better than me. I've been patting my foot until the floor near my desk has worn down. LOL!

And thanks also for telling your friends. :-)

Carla Swafford said...

And thanks again, Christine, for inviting me to your blog.


Katherine Bone said...

Carla, I'm so happy for you! You've worked hard to get where you are and you deserve all the success that's coming your way!

Love the way you get inspiration from music. Which kind of music resonates with you best?

Also, you said this was a series. Book 2 is coming out the beginning of next year. Will there be more than 2?

Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn said...

What a great interview. Good job, both of you. I enjoyed hearing about your process and how you get inspiration from shows and music. Fun!

The book sounds awsome too. ;)

Carla Swafford said...

Thanks, Carol. I'm having the time of my life. :)

Chelsea B. said...

Congratulations on the release of your book! How very exciting! I'm wishing you the very best!


Carla Swafford said...

Thank you, Chelsea. It's been a fun day. :-)

lgm52 said...

Super interesting of success with Circle of Desire and your work in progress!

Carla Swafford said...

Thank you, lgm52!

Carla Swafford said...

Thank you, Christine, for inviting me to your blog.

Vivien said...

Congrats on the release! I know it takes a lot of hard work. Can't wait to see the product.

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Carla Swafford said...

Thanks, Vivien.

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

Congratulations Carla on your debut release! Circle of Desire sounds exciting! :-D

And thank you Christine for such an interesting interview, I enjoyed getting to know more about Carla and her novel.

stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

Carla Swafford said...

Thank YOU, Stella, for following the blogs and your kind words. :-)