Have you heard of Blab? Chances are you haven’t yet. It’s a fairly new social media video platform that is still in beta, but there are thousands of people using it already.
The idea is that you can do a live video chat with up to four people in video boxes (unlike Periscope, which only allows one camera, the one on your phone). It sometimes reminds me of the old TV game show Hollywood Squares. You can allow people to leave the video box and let someone else come in to change up the conversation, or you can “lock the chair” so that only the people you want to be on video are allowed.
You can schedule a blab in advance or you can hop on and start talking. You can even choose to record a blab, but you can’t pre-record it to make it available at a certain time. Like YouTube, anyone in the world can go find your recording (if you recorded it) on the site and watch it at any time, and anyone in the world can watch your live blab.
There’s even a chat box so people watching can contribute to the conversation. Viewers can also click on the hands icon at the bottom of each video square to “give props” to that speaker (like the hearts in Periscope give love). It’s connected to Twitter so you can log in with your Twitter ID, tweet about your blab while you’re doing it, and you can get more followers from inside Blab and send them a message that you’re now live.
The frosting on the cake? It’s easy!
Go to Blab to check it out. You’ll see dozens of people chatting live at any given time. The search bar isn’t the greatest, but you can search for people or recordings, and you can follow people so you’ll be informed when they’re live.
YA author Elena Dillon and I started a new live Blab show last month called Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books. (Come “follow” us!) We’d been thinking about doing a podcast, but there is a real time commitment to making a good podcast. With Blab, we hit the record button, interview our author guest, hit the stop recording button, and in less than an hour Blab sends us a link to the recording to download to our computer and upload to our blog and/or YouTube channel. We also send the link to the author we interviewed so they can upload it to their sites as well.
We’ve done four episodes already, interviewing Tracy Reed, Alina K. Field, Debbie Decker, and Tracy Lydia Garner. Tonight’s guest is romantic suspense author Beth Yarnell. Click Beth’s name at 7pm Pacific time to watch the show!
Elena and Kitty Blabbing About Books is a weekly show interviewing a new author every Wednesday from 7pm to 8pm Pacific time. If you’re a published author and would like to know more about being interviewed on our show, please email us at blababoutbooks AT gmail DOT com.
And if you read fiction and like to hear authors talk about their books, join us each week! It’s lots of fun and you may find a new author to try.
Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon. The free short story “Superhero in Disguise” and the new short story “Welcome to Loon Lake” are available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.
Kitty Bucholtz is the author of the romantic comedy Little Miss Lovesick and the light urban fantasy Unexpected Superhero. Though she grew up in Northern Michigan, the setting for many of her stories, she followed her husband to Australia twice. While he made a penguin named Mumble dance, she earned her MA in Creative Writing in Sydney. When she’s not unpacking or repacking, she’s working on her next book or chatting with readers on Facebook.
Kitty was interview by long time OCC/RWA member Marianne H. Donley.
Marianne: First question, do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? What? Why?
Kitty: Itâ€™s funny you should ask because I discovered one theme a couple years ago, but I discovered a secondary theme while writing my book, Unexpected Superhero. After several years of writing, I finally realized that I write about women who are finding out that they have more â€œpowerâ€ than they think they have. Mostly, it comes down to personal strength, inner resolve, and the character to think through how to change a situation theyâ€™re not happy with, though in Unexpected Superhero, she literally discovers a power she didnâ€™t know she had. That theme comes directly from me and my life experience. Iâ€™ve never wanted to just accept a bad situation; Iâ€™m always trying to make things better.
But writing this new book, I realized that several of my stories have a â€œprotecting children in dangerâ€ element. Itâ€™s a little weird to me because I donâ€™t have children. Where did this theme come from? I could guess, but I donâ€™t really know. The fun part about not knowing is that I get to find out more about it as I write!
Kitty: The best advice Iâ€™ve gotten is â€œtrust yourself.â€ It takes a lot of writing for that advice to be useful, but thereâ€™s a point at which trusting yourself is the best thing you can do.
The worst advice Iâ€™ve gotten is â€œreal writers write every day.â€ That doesnâ€™t work for me. I work best in bursts. That may mean writing 5-8 hours a day for weeks to finish a book, then 10-14 hours a day doing what I call the book build, creating the files that will become the ebook and print book. Then I may read all day every day for a week, and half a day every day for another couple weeks, researching and ingesting material that will eventually find its way into another book. The only way I overcame the worst advice for me was by taking the best advice for me – I trusted that I had figured out how I worked best.
Marianne: Do you ever run out of ideas? If so, how do you get past that?
Kitty: Iâ€™m laughing! Run out of ideas? No! I get tangled up in my ideas and get stuck when I donâ€™t realize Iâ€™ve got two or more ideas working against each other. Thatâ€™s been happening a bit with my next release, Love at the Fluff and Fold. But thatâ€™s been untangling more as I finish the current book and spend more time on the new book.
An example to show you why the question made me laugh – when I was hired at E! Entertainment, the cable TV network, I had to sign a standard contract. In it was a clause that any creative ideas I came up with, at work or away from work, while employed there would be the property of E! Entertainment. I made a polite but assertive fuss about it and wouldnâ€™t sign the contract. The network attorney finally said that I should provide a list of all the titles of projects Iâ€™d already thought of and those would be exempt. My agent suggested I write down everything Iâ€™d ever thought of, ever. I took her advice and the addendum was two pages long, single-spaced. I think there were fifty or more ideas listed!
Marianne: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Kitty: I get really excited about people discussing ideas with passion. Once at a party, I got all fired up talking to a friendâ€™s uncle about economics because he was passionate and I knew a bit about the subject and was really interested in what he had to say. I love talking about God and how everything works together, from personal situations to the fact that we are on the only planet in the known universe that provides the exact mix of elements for us to live freely. I cry over commercials and TV shows, even though I know itâ€™s pretend, because Iâ€™m thinking, â€œSomewhere, thereâ€™s a real person this is happening to, and I feel for them.â€ Thereâ€™s just something about passion and energy coming together in the form of ideas that makes me crazy excited!
Marianne: What are you dying to try next?
Kitty: Ooo, good one! Well, itâ€™s something Iâ€™ve been interested in for a long time, but itâ€™s going to require a ton of research and Iâ€™m inherently lazy, so… LOL! During a class in my masterâ€™s degree program, we had to write one scene in each of eight different categories from romance to detective to thriller, etc. One assignment was to write a scene with â€œmagicâ€ in it. That led to my masterâ€™s degree final project – a spiritual warfare, angels vs. demons story set in modern New York City with a teenage girl as the main player for both sides. Kind of a Joan of Arcadia meets Supernatural story laced with the kinds of humor that are in both of those TV shows.
This is kind of a â€œbook of my heartâ€ story, inasmuch as I have some really strong spiritual beliefs that I want to use without disrespecting them. I need to research what we think we know about angels and demons, what we think we know about what is happening outside of our five senses, and I need to research New York, its tunnel systems, the political climate, the financial district, and more. Yikes! So Iâ€™m slightly terrified! But Iâ€™m hoping to have at least a strong first draft done in the next 12-15 months.
Kitty: Iâ€™m really glad I made you, Kitty. You really crack me up!
Welcome, Hailey, to my blog. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions about your new contemporary romance from HarperCollins, Not the Marrying Kind.
In Not the Marrying Kind, two urbanites reluctantly return to the small town where they both went to high school and bump into each other for the first time since then. You moved from the city to a small town shortly before writing this book. Did any of your experiences or emotions about this move make their way into the novel?
I appreciate this question . . . yes, I suppose my move from New Orleans to Covington did influence my characters’ experiences. Though as someone who lived in many small towns around the South and Midwest, I think I envisioned Harriet from that greater experience of having left (er, fled) the southern Midwest to college in California. The visits back to the Midwest were not without their challenges.
This book was different from your previous books. Less humor than usual and more . . . je ne sais quoi. Depth? Sorrow? Strength?
What was different was me pressing into places inside myself that really, really hurt. It’s more authentic. Most of my ha-ha funny stuff is a means of protecting my vulnerability.
For the post-Hurricane Katrina reader, romances were perfect for taking one’s mind off the difficulties of everyday life and vicariously experiencing good events. But for you as a writer, was it difficult to write a story with a happy ending when you were displaced and your house destroyed?
It was difficult to write, period. It would have been harder to write a bleak story. I’ve spent years and years of my life scribbling in notebooks, filling the pages with dreams and characters. After Katrina when my husband and I hauled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow to the street, I cried as I said goodbye to the molded, warped piles of all those notebooks. But even as I cried, I was cheered by the reality that those notebooks had become published novels and if I’d done it before, I could do it again.
As you’ve noted, this book is not my typical “light romance.” I was in no mood after losing our home in Hurricane Katrina to tred too lightly into a happily ever after story. However, as I spent more and more time with Harriet and Jake and their family and friends, I came to realize that despite tragedy and trauma, we can all come out okay on the other end. They helped me to realize the redemption.
Did Hurricane Katrina change anything about the way you write, either your method or your characters or plot?
The most important thing that Hurricane Katrina changed about my writing is that I now possess a laptop. We packed, at the last minute, I must confess, to evacuate and I didnâ€™t tow my desktop or any backup disks. We were leaving, after all, for only a few days. Hahahaha. When we made our way back to our flooded house and I found my desk and computer and boxes of files and all our wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves full of books tossed around like dinghies in a particularly violent storm, I could do nothing but cry. And then begin to shovel the resulting mess into the wheelbarrow my husband transported to the street to be picked up by the Bobcat and dump truck crews. Words can barely express the loss.
And about being a newlywed . . . thank God we went through it together. It made us even more bonded.
Even though Not the Marrying Kind takes place in Arkansas and never mentions Katrina, it feels like a Katrina book to me because the intertwined themes of loss and recovery are so strong. Yet itâ€™s an optimistic book, not a sad one. It was cathartic for me to read; was it cathartic for you to write? Or was it hard to write about loss when the wounds were still so fresh?
I think my response above answers this question. And yes, when all was said and done, it was cathartic. We carry on. We grow through the loss. We are reborn.
I’ve always found the story of how your early critique group helped you get published inspiring. Could you retell the story for blog readers who donâ€™t know you?
As to my early critique group . . . yes, and yes and yes. Gosh, have I written anything that contained a comma splice? If so, I owe a dollar! We were merciless. Met every Wednesday evening without fail for four or so years. We all published our first books, all five of us. Wow! And yes, I did have to “audition” to get accepted as a member. Thank you, Meryl Sawyer and Olga Bicos. And thanks for letting me pass muster!
Many romance writers, including you, started out as lawyers. Which is harder, being a lawyer or writing romance novels? Which is more fun?
Which is harder, being a lawyer or a romance writer? It depends. Seriously. My husband is a criminal defense lawyer specializing in capital cases. If he flubs up, his client gets the needle or the electric chair. If I slack off, I miss a bestseller list. Hmm . . . .
What is your favorite part of writing?
My favorite part of writing is hearing from readers who relate to my characters as people. Living, breathing, complicated, annoying, adorable people.
What is your writing regimen? Would you recommend it to aspiring authors?
My writing regimen?? Hahahahahahaha. When Iâ€™m on deadline I write like a maniac. A whirling dervish.
Do you write with or without your cats Mocha, Stanley and Daisy?
At this very moment, Daisy is asleep on my lap. Mocha is in her safe place, the laundry basket at the foot of our bed. And Stanley is snoring peacefully on the foot of said bed.
What books can we look forward to in the future from you?
Books in the future . . . ah, now, that’s a good question. I may do some more “Nancy Wagner” books . . . as in Two Sisters and All Our Lives, the first two books I published with Avon Books, before I transfigured into Nikki Holiday, author of paranormal romantic comedies. And then . . . and only then, came Hailey North. So it’s yet to be known who I shall be next.
Thank you again for visiting my blog to talk about writing and your new book Not the Marrying Kind.
Visit Hailey Northâ€™s Websites at http://www.haileynorth.com// and http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/17884/Hailey_North/index.aspx/. Her book Not the Marrying Kind is available at all major bookstores and can be ordered online from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
Shauna Roberts is an award-winning medical writer and editor specializing in diabetes and related subjects, a penner of fantasy, science fiction, and romance stories and novels. Her medical writing website: http://nasw.org/users/ShaunaRoberts/ Her fiction writing website: www.shaunaroberts.com Her blog: http://www.blogger.com/www.shaunaroberts.blogspot.com
Janet Quinn has wanted to be a published author since she was seventeen. Despite the demands of her “other life” as mother, teacher, and active OCC volunteer, she’s managed to accomplish her goal and garner ten sales to her credit.
Q. Janet, you are one busy lady. I know that you work as a Director of Education, are a mother of three boys, an active member of OCC, and you still find time to write. Can you give us some idea of how you manage all this so well?
A. Luckily my sons are grown and don’t take a lot of time now, though all three of them are living with me again. My youngest does most of the cooking, shopping and housework, which helps. I only work a 30 hour week, which is more than enough. When I get home at 5 p.m. on Thursdays,I become a writer instead of the Director of Ed for Sylvan. Thursday night through Sunday night I write and do promotion. I usually write during the afternoon and evenings since the boys go out and it’s just me and Chewbacca, the dog. He likes to help me write. He thinks if I’m at the computer, I must want to play ball.
Q. Do you ever have trouble keeping up with it all?
A. Yes, sometimes I don’t manage so well. There are days I just sit on the couch and watch TV or read a book. Then the next day I’m back at it. Everyone is allowed days when they can’t cope and I figure I’m allowed a couple a month.
Q. I agree! I personally take several! Looking back, is there anything you wish you’d done differently after publishing that first book?
A. I’ve always wished my first editor and I had a better relationship. I’ve had a couple of agents I wished I’d never hired. Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve managed to accomplish.
Q. You should be. So what’s the best writing advice you ever received?
A. Sit my backside in the chair and finish the book.
Q. Yeah, sitting is good; finishing the book is even better. But what inspires you to get past the hard times?
A. My sons inspire me. They have always been very supportive. My middle one said to me once, “I tell everyone you’re a writer. It would be nice it you sold something.” A week later I sold my first book. A lot of my inspiration also comes from within. I love telling stories. I always have since I learned to talk and I just can’t imagine not putting them down.
Q. I know that THE KILTED GOVERNESS is available now, and you’ve sold a contemporary
that should follow soon. So what can we expect to see from you after that?
A. I have a witch book and an alternative universe book I’m working on. Those are both fun, though the alternative universe is a challenge to make it different than a fantasy. I’m also working on a sequel to THE RIVER’S TREASURE which is my first sequel and an underground railroad story. I think I’m moving more to the fantasy side because I find it so much fun to create worlds where my rules are the only ones that count.
Available from Whiskey Creek Press –
THE IRISH COUNTESS, THE LUCKY LADY and A MOMENT IN TIME
Available at Amber Quill Press –
THE KILTED GOVERNESS, ARROW OF THE HEART and THE RIVER’S TREASURE
(Sandy Novy-Chvostal aka Sandra Paul loves interviewing OCC’s talented authors. To read more of her interview with Janet–and to learn Janet’s thoughts on writing for e-publishers compared to a traditional house, check out the OCC interview in the September ’07 issue of the Orange Blossom.)