Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hanging Out With Nicole McCaffrey!!

Well, hey, hey, hey!!! It's Friday!

We're super lucky to have Nicole McCaffrey chatting with us today! Nicole is a peep I met over at Helen's Heroes. Nothing like a bunch of hunks to make the gals flock together, eh?!

I was able to sweet talk her into letting me grill her on writing. So, sit back and get ready to laugh. Nicole has such a wonderfully refreshing personality that just shines through in her writing. I think she's pretty awesome and I know you will, too!

Hope you've got your frosty beverage and chocolate bar because we're getting this party started!

1)If you were a book, what would your blurb be?

LOL probably a jumbled up mish-mash since there’s so much going through my mind at any given moment and it changes from second to second, LOL. Don’t forget to do this, gotta be there at such a time, get this ready, find that, fix this… So the blurb would have to consist of a bunch of sentences that don't relate to one another and make sense to no one but me. *G*

2)What would be your ‘voice’s’ tagline?

Probably the line I use on my blog and my website “love, laughter, adventure”—I can’t write melodrama, can’t write heavy or dark or sad. I love humor and I love those hairpin plot twists and turns that leave you thinking “whoa, I wasn't expecting that.”

3)For starters, pantzer or plotter? Pantzer- what techniques do you use to get your thoughts in order? Plotter- how far ahead do you plot and how?

Total pantzer. It really kills my creativity and enthusiasm if I try to plan ahead, so other than basically knowing my destination --“and they lived happily ever after”—I don’t plan. I really don’t want to know how the journey is going to end, I just want to take the ride and have fun, LOL.

The best way I’ve found to keep my thoughts in order is to do a full read through periodically—usually about every five chapters I’ll stop and re-read from the beginning. It keeps me refreshed and focused, reacquaints me with my characters. Once I’m a few chapters in I know my characters pretty well so it’s nice to revisit the beginning and jot down notes where I can expand on their personality traits, too.

4)My favorite romance novel is Ransom by Julie Garwood. The book was written in 1999 and has multiple POV switches on almost every page. What’s your take on the way POV has evolved in today’s market? Any tips you’d like to share?

I really love deep POV and I’m pleased with how it’s evolved. I think romance writers are the only writers who truly give readers that “you are there” experience and I feel our use of POV is why. I’m not a big purist who feels you can only have one PV per chapter, I try to keep it to one PV per scene, but if it’s done correctly, you can switch mid-scene. It’s when it happens in mid paragraph or mid thought or switches repeatedly in a scene that I have an issue with it, LOL. That really ruins a good read for me.

The best tip for POV I’ve found is to be aware of your surroundings. What do you see? You can’t see your eye color, your hair color… you’re only conscious of what you feel and think and hear and see. It should be the same way when writing in your POV character’s head. She (or he) can only see as much of themselves as you can see of yourself at any given moment. And when you reach for something you’re not thinking about the size of your hands or your skin tone—they’re the same hands and skin you’ve always had, so you don’t think about it at all. (In other words, don’t have your heroine reach for something with her delicate alabaster hand, LOL.)

It sounds so simple but that’s what really made POV click for me. And once you get it, it’s a lot more fun to describe your characters through each others’ eyes. Let the hero reflect on those delicate alabaster hands--the very hands she threatened to strangle him with moments ago, LOL.

5)When do you do your editing? Right after your wonderful CP hands you the pages back or do you hold them until the end? Which is your style and why?

It depends. If things are really flowing for me creatively, I won’t do the edits right away, mainly because I want to keep moving forward rather than stop and go back. I’ll wait until the words aren’t coming or I feel like I’m losing focus and do the edits then, to sort of reacquaint myself and hopefully jump start the creativity again. But if we’ve really revamped a scene or torn it apart, or come up with something fun, a lot of times I’ll jump right on that, even as early as the minute I get home from a critique session.

6)Give us the low down, lady! To Agent or Not to Agent- That is the question!

I think it’s a personal choice. I can see both sides of the issue, pros and cons. But I think the bottom line is, if you want to get noticed by a NY publisher, you need someone who can open that door for you.

7)Tell us about your book? What was your inspiration? How long did it take you to finish the MS?

For me, inspiration comes from a lot of places—a line in a song, a dream, a snippet of conversation overheard standing in line at the bank or grocery store. Anything that starts me wondering “what if…” The short Civil War story I’m currently working on was inspired by an old Federal style house I drive past several times a week. I started wondering who might have lived there and a story was born—I’ve been intrigued by the story of Rose O’Neal Greenhow, the Civil War spy known as “the socialite spy” (she was placed under house arrest and imprisoned in her own home by Union officers, yet still managed to pass information to Southern officers), for years and something just clicked. Another story was inspired by a name—literally, LOL. I heard the name, got a certain image in my head and that was it, I had to find out who this guy was and write his story.

It’s hard to say how long it takes. Each story is different, I kind of felt my way through the first few and learned how to keep my focus, learned what works and doesn’t work for me as a writer and most importantly learned to trust my own instincts as a pantzer—when I first started out, I was unaware of it, but I was surrounded by plotters and I heard a lot of “you can’t do it that way.” (Even now my CP’s sort of frown when they say “where are you going with this?” and I tell them “I don’t know, the characters haven’t told me yet.” LOL.) It took a long time for me to be able to trust myself and say “oh yes I can do it this way!”

Think I'd let you slip away without a tasty tidbit for the weekend?! Here is an excerpt from Nicole's latest release from The Wild Rose Press titled, THE MODEL MAN!

Derek Calavicci opened the door to his penthouse apartment and stepped inside. Home, although it never really felt that way. At one time the navy and pewter color scheme, so carefully chosen by the designer, the expensive but tasteful furniture and state-of-the-art gadgets hadsoothed him. But not lately. He set his keys on the kitchen counter and picked up a stack of personal mail waiting there.

Gabrielle, his younger sister and personal assistant, strolled into the room. Dressed in her robe and fuzzy pink slippers, she had a toothbrush sticking out of one side of her mouth and a towel wrapped around her head. She often stayed at his place when he was gone, and judging from the clothes, shoes and magazines strewn about, she had done so this past week.

“So, how was Tokyo?” she asked around the toothbrush.

“Fine.” He put his hands to his hips and glanced around the apartment. “It’s a good thing I pay the cleaning lady so well.”

She moved to the kitchen sink to spit out a mouthful of toothpaste. “How did the bourbon commercial go?”

“It was fine.”

“Did you get lucky?”

He didn’t answer her, merely shook his head in wonder.

“Okay, for other guys it’s getting lucky. For you it’s par for the course. So… did you?”

“Would I tell you if I did?”

“You’re always so grumpy when you get home from these things.”

He headed for the sofa and flopped down, finally allowing the exhaustion of the long flight and the time change to overtake him. “There’s a fourteen-hour time difference between here and Tokyo. I’m beat.” He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, grateful that he was no longer in motion. Not in a plane, not in a limo, just sitting still.

“Hope you aren’t too jet lagged, you’ve got an early flight in the morning.”

He raised his head just enough to look at her. “Where the hell to now?”

She laughed and headed toward his desk. “You really are out of it. The Romantic Moments conference starts this weekend.”

“Christ.” He dropped his head back down. “Little wonder I’m more comfortable in hotels than in my own home.”

“You’re never here,” she agreed, holding out a note pad for his inspection.

“What am I supposed to do with that?”

“It’s your messages. Your voice mail filled up twice so I had to write everything down.”

“I’m too tired to read them. Anything important?”

“Mmm, depends on what you call important. Or who.”

“I’m afraid to ask.”

“Let’s see… Megan called. She’ll be at the conference in Florida; she’s really looking forward to ‘hooking up’. She’ll be in room eight-twelve. Amber, also going to the conference, is in five-seventeen. Oh, and Shannon is going to be in New York next weekend and she’d like to … well, I’m not about to repeat it. Is she double jointed or something?”

“Damned if I can remember.”

“Anyway, there’s another page and a half of these.”

“I’ll look at them later.”

“Good idea. Oh, and Frankie called. About nine times.”

“What the hell did she want?”

“You. Under her tiny, little thumb. When are you going to fire her and get a new manager? One who doesn’t want to run your life.”

“Why bother when I can just avoid this one as much as possible?”

“She wants to make sure you two are on the same flight tomorrow so she can go over a few things with you on the way down,” Gabby spoke over her shoulder as she headed to the kitchen. “Something about the ‘Flawless’ campaign. You know, that new line of men’s cologne and skin care products you’re promoting.”

He raised his head again. “And?”

She returned, holding out a bottle of water and gave him a triumphant smile. “And I made sure to book you on a different flight.”

“Good girl.” He unscrewed the cap and took a long drag. “What do I have going on today?”

“I canceled everything when I realized you were getting back so late. Thought you might want a little break.”


“Don’t forget Anthony’s engagement party is tonight.”

“I can’t believe my kid brother is getting married. Did I buy them something nice?”

“Besides paying for the wedding? Crystal. Expensive and impractical, just your style.”

“I’m such a nice guy.”

“Well, you’d better be prepared to answer the inevitable from the relatives tonight.”

“You mean the ‘and when are you going to settle down’ stuff?” Now that he’d turned thirty, that was all anyone wanted to know. His younger brother’s engagement had only made it worse.

“Exactly. At this point, I’m beginning to think you’re commitment phobic myself.”

“I’ve got nothing against commitment.” He raised his feet to set them on the coffee table. “But whenever the urge strikes, I lie down until it passes.”

“Yeah, I know. Preferably with a blonde or a redhead.”

“Gabby, I’m hurt you think I’m so shallow. I’d never turn down a hot brunette.”

I'd like to thank Nicole for being so generous with her time! And of course I'm going to say THANKS to all of you who wandered on over to check out what was swinging at TLN!

It wouldn't be a Friday if I didn't send you off with a song for the weekend! So here's my ultimate favorite- MARGARITAVILLE!! Enjoy my hunky-dunkie Jimmy Buffet! And Nicole, first round is on me! *winkwink*


Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Nicole and Sarah,

Wow, I feel like I've found a twin. I write exactly the same way right down to the "what ifs." But you're way ahead of me on grasping POV, Nicole. Loved your easy explanation and I'm going to really try hard to incorporate into my way of thinking. Great excerpt too. My to be read list is like Pinocchio's nose, it just keeps growing and growing. LOL
Pass the salt, Sarah.

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Thanks, Rebecca, and Sarah, thanks so much for letting me take over your blog for a day. I love hangin' out with you!


Paty Jager said...

Fun interview! Loved your questions Sarah! You made Nicole think! LOL
I've read the book and I have to say it is definitely a feel good read!

Sarah Simas said...

Thanks ladies! Nicole made it easy!

I'm glad ya'll stopped in! Wouldn't be Friday without my peeps swinging by to say HI!

No problem, Rebecca! But you better duck! LOL I can't throw for beans!

Helen Hardt said...

Great interview, Nic and Sarah! I love how you described POV ;).

Savannah Chase said...

Another fantastic interview. It is so nice to see how other authors do their thing....

Susan Macatee said...

Hi, Nicole! See you got some very interesting questions and did well with the answers. I agree with your take on POV. I hate reading books where the viewpoint character changes every other paragraph or describe what they look like. LOL.

And good luck with being a panster! I started out that way, but just couldn't hack it.

Great interview!

Ginny Christensen said...

Hello Nicole & Sarah,
Really enjoyed the interview. Great Q&A. And that POV explanation is great, especially the hand analogy - that's a great one. I [was] such a head-hopper, but thanks to you and Sarah, now I totally get it! I've re-written chapters that were so bad and now, [I think] they are so much better. I was having a hard time when my POV character would do something or think something to another character and that character would [think back]-so wrong since I wasn't in that character's head!

Love the synopsis of your book. I'm going to have to buy it.

Another thing I liked is that your dialogue flows. I find myself writng a lot of "he said, she said, etc." when you know who's talking, you don't need that. Your dialogue is nice and smooth.

Thanks again to both of you for sharing. Again, I learned something!

Ginny from Fresno

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Hi Ginny!

Thanks so much for your kind words. Try using actions instead of dialogue tags. Having your characters move around, pick up objects, fidget before/after speaking is a great way to avoid using dialogue tags. I was addicted to them for a long time, but my CP's finally helped me see the light and stop tagging. *G*

So glad the PV explanation helped!

Best of luck with your WIP!