Saturday, October 23, 2010
I got home from a vacation (my first time off in over two years) only to find that The Worst had happened. In my absence my computer had pined away for me and died. Completely, irrevocably, quite thoroughly died. It had joined the choir invisible. It was pushing up the daisies. It was a non-booter, black-screened, unresponsive hunk of metal that did not respond to anything. It had gone to the Great Spare Parts Land in the sky. It was an ex-computer.
So I did what any sensible, resourceful woman would have done: I burst into tears. And when I was done crying, I picked it up tenderly and took its corpese to Fry's, Electronics, which in my area is the only computer store left, having driven all the other stores out of business.
There I met George, a brilliant young man with wise, but somehow sad eyes, a soft voice, and a sister who liked The Vampire Diaries. He also turned out to be a brilliant repairman because in only a few days he had transferred all my data from my old computer (which had croaked because of a video card that had bitten the dust) onto a sleek new fuel injected PC with two googleplexes of disk space, an automatic redundancy mode, a monitor bigger than most movie theater screens and all sorts of doodads that I don't know how to work. Okay, maybe I'm exagerating a little. But this monitor really is bigger than my TV.
The one thing George couldn't do was to rescue my old Outlook Express files. There was just no way to get them off the old drives.
All was not lost though (I was thinking OH MY GOD! All those contest entries!). I still had my own personal computer guru--the One who has made the cool new website which will be unveiled before Halloween. And he, Usok Choe, of Usok Choe Computer Designs (who is also, believe it or not, a Taekwondo World Champion--dude! You don't want to get on this guy's bad side!) performed a holy miracle and managed to recover alllllllll my firstname.lastname@example.org messages. So everyone's contest entries are safe.
However, this was done by downloading the messages once again from the server, and I was left with one or two small problems. One: I no longer have the file with the names, addresses, and books to be autographed by those who suggested versions of The Hunters for the new Vampire Diaries trilogy.
Two: right now I can read email from that account but can't send email from it. So if you get an answer from me from my private Yahoo account, don't freak out. It's me. Really me. It's just that I have to answer you from that account or not answer you at all.
So, once again: if you previously wrote to me to tell me that you suggested a title similar to The Hunters and gave me your address and told me which book to autograph . . . I no longer have that information. If you want your prize you will have to send it to me again. You will know I've gotten your message when I answer from my private Yahoo account.
Also, please join me on Halloween and take a look at the new site. It will have new Sneak Peeks, deleted scenes from recent books, new art, a whole gorgeous new format, and soon a new contest. I'm looking forward to seeing you there.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I don’t actually remember anyone suggesting this, but I get a lot of email, and my assistant is on vacation. So if you wrote in and recommended “Hunter, ” “Hunters,” “The Hunters” or something like that, let me know and I’ll check for your email and then send you an autographed book—of your choice.
I have to say thank you to everyone who participated in this—some of the titles were fabulous and I may—if it’s allowed—use them for individual books in the future. I really appreciate all the suggestions, which ran the gamut from gritty and down-to-earth to high fantasy. I’m so proud that my readers have such great imaginations.
What will the three individual books be called? Unless something changes, they will be Phantom, which will should be out in the summer of 2011, Moonsong, and Eternity. I'll post dates for the last two books when I hear them from my publisher.
In the meantime, paperbacks called Stefan's Diaries will be coming out. These will be about the TV show, back in the time of the Civil War. None of the Stefan's Diaries books will be written by me, but they may help . . . er, sate your thirst for new Vampire Diaries material.
I’m really, really excited about my new website, created by Usok Choe of Usok Choe Designs. Usok is such a nice guy, especially since he’s an absolute genius. He really thinks and researches before he begins work and what he’s done for the site is nothing less than miraculous. It’s what I always envisioned, but that a huge company like Lightmaker couldn’t produce. Since I am about twenty years behind on the technology front (I still remember cute ftp and making sites with Adobe Pagemill) then this is just another blessing I don’t deserve.
Speaking of technology, I got a Droid 2 phone and I am doing my best to figure out how to use it. First I had to get my nails cut so that the darn thing would recognize my touch, and then I tried to figure out the apps already on it before getting more. I swear that the phone has taken a dislike to me and refuses to show me my email, while it rolls over like a puppy and will do anything for my more tech-savvy friends.
One thing in particular I wanted to do was pick up the CW’s offer of free passages from The Vampire Diaries books, and read them on my phone. I saw in an ad that you can even buy the entire books to read on a phone. Why anyone would want to do this is beyond me, but I guess the young and keen of sight are a different breed.
Oh, and sincere thanks to Victoria M. of New Jersey who discovered a lovely new item for a wonderful new contest. Thank you, Vicki! I always appreciate new contest ideas, or new prizes that have meaning to my readers.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I can't help it--I just can't exclude readers from other countries from this contest. So what I will do is make the Grand Prize, Bonnie's opal ring itself, open to anybody, from any country, on any continent. But the book winners will have to be confined to the USA. Maybe by the next contest I can find some way around that.
The following is just the old blog about the contest and the rules. :)
If you've read Vampire Diaries: Volume 6: Shadow Souls, then you know that Bonnie is sent home with an opal ring set with diamonds, as well as many other pieces of opal jewelry, and I can tell you in advance that this opal ring gains great significance in Vampire Diaries: Volume 7: Midnight.
So I can't think of a better prize right now than "Bonnie's Opal Ring"--which has been slightly sized down from its book description (which would hardly be suitable, except as a cocktail ring!).
Now you can win this version of Bonnie’s opal ring (see above). It’s made of 14 karat gold and 14 karat white gold, with one central opal and diamonds sprinkled around it. This is a gorgeous ring that sells for over $700—so pretty that I got one for myself! And if you didn’t win an autographed Shadow Souls book during the last contes--well, here’s your chance, because I’m offering ten (10) this time around as second prizes.
Unfortunately, I’m afraid I’m going to have to confine the books in this contest to readers in the United States, just because I had so much difficulty mailing prizes to other countries. However, the ring is now available to everyone.
To enter, simply send an email to email@example.com with the words BONNIE’S OPAL RING in the Subject Field. Please use these exact words, or your entry will not be in the right alphabetical place to be randomly picked for the ring. So if you have sent an email to Opal Ring Contest or Contest: Bonnie's Ring, do yourself a favor and send another with the subject BONNIE'S OPAL RING.
Inside, if you like, you can let me know in your email who you think Bonnie should end up with in the Vampire Diaries. Will it be Matt? Damon? Some boy yet to be introduced (and I'm introducing at least two more)? If a stranger what should he be like? I’d love to hear your opinions.
This contest will begin September 15, 2010, and end on Halloween, after which the winners will be announced. I'm hoping that I can put up the quotes from winners of this and previoius contests on my new completely refurbished website.
Also—I shouldn’t have to say this, but—only one entry from any email address, and only one prize to a home address.
Monday, September 13, 2010
To enter, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the words BONNIE’S OPAL RING in the Subject Field. Inside, if you like, you can let me know in your email who you think Bonnie should end up with in the Vampire Diaries. Will it be Matt? Damon? Some boy yet to be introduced? I’d love to hear your opinions.
This contest will begin September 15, 2010, and end on Halloween, after which the winners will be announced. I'm hoping that I can put up the quotes from winners of this and previoius contests on my new website.
The other thing that has been going on is a makeover of my website--each and every page changed, I hope for the better. I have a great new webmaster, Usok Choe, of Usok Choe Design, who had wonderful new ideas to revolutionize the site, give it a facelift and make it easier to work with. Now we're both going over it with a finetoothed comb, making sure that everything is consistent and convenient. We're looking to unveil it before Halloween.
I hope that visitors will stop by and catch up with the latest Vampire Diaries news, as well as that of my other series.
And I hope to be able to blog more in the future. Honestly.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Well, on the 18th (yesterday by a half hour, I mailed out the last of the prizes for the Twin Fox Ring Contest and the Forbidden Game Contest. The last of them are sent, now, except for one person who lives in England. Abbie R., I have written to you about clarifying your address.
It's so sad . . . but what with customs forms and possible custom charges to the winners, I may have to confine my contests to the USA and Canada. I'd hate to do that, but I'm running into brick walls with other foreign countries.
I'm already thinking of a contest, to see who wants who to pair off. I mean, should it be Delena? Stelena (okay, I made that up, but it's what my publishers want), or Bonnie and Damon? Don't send in your entries yet, because I want to make a real contest of this.
I had a serious fashion attack and went out and bought all sorts of clothes. I don't know why I'm writing about this, but it seemed important when I started.
Again, anybody who comes up with a name for the new arc of Vampire Diaries books (the three after The Return) will get not only a book, but a lovely ring with one black and one white flower, from Eve's Addiction. It's no toy ring, either! But better yet I got a real black and white diamond ring for those who are stuck between Circle Daybreak and their ties to the Night World. Gotta do a contest for those!
I woke up today feeling efficient and romantic. I have no idea what that means, but I thought I'd put it together by putting up the answer to a question I got not long ago about how I had used the "silver cord" image in many of my trilogies. I searched what's left of my memory and tried to trace the usage.
By the way, for those of you who are still entering The Forbidden Game Ring contest (or, dear me, The Twin Fox Ring Contest) the winners have been randomly selected, informed, and have written back. I hope to mail the Forbidden Game rings (with Tiffany chains and a personal note from me) out today. Then I'll post the winners' comments.
And if you're wondering why I've been too busy to mail them yet, I've just emerged from a very intense session of negotiation with the result that, barring my publishers rejecting Midnight, there will be a new arc of three books in The Vampire Diaries series. My choices for titles are Phantom, Evensong and Eternity, but first thing this morning my agent informed me that they are looking to me for suggestions for a name for the entire arc (the last one they called The Return). If anyone has a nice title and no use for it, email me. The books are about Elena and Stefan et. al. starting at Dalcrest College, and finding themselves playing the role of Spirit Hunters (already suggested by me) or just plain hunting serial murderers who may or may not be mystical. If you do think of something, and we use it, I'll send you an autographed book!
Here's the email I sent:
You pose a very interesting question about the origins of the silver cord and the soulmate principle. Back in the 1990s when the first four Night World books were written, I took two legends and put them together. One was the myth (prevalent in the Far East) that all people in love have a red string that connects their little fingers together. At the same time, in the western countries, a New Age idea had come up that people who have out of body experiences are connected to their bodies by a silver cord. I thought that the silver cord sounded more romantic than a red string, and that it should connect the lovers from heart to heart instead of pinky to pinky. So the soulmate principle was born--but I didn't know it yet. I actually don't remember if I used it way back in 1990-91 for the first four Vampire Diaries books--I don't think so. But I did use it in Shadow Souls, the second of my new trilogy of Vampire Diaries books, the arc called The Return.
As for the Secret Circle, that was supposed to be a one-off usage of a metaphor for Adam and Cassie's love for each other. That may be when I actually created the silver cord for the first time, and it was connected to the chalcedony rose that Adam gave to Cassie. The two were connected, so that the person who had the rose was the true person Adam loved.
Still back in the 1990s, I wrote the Night World series, and there everything came together. I wanted to have the silver cords bind only soulmates together--not just lovers, but those who were born to be like half of a puzzle piece that could only connect with another half. So the soulmate principle was born. You can love your soulmate, as Poppy loved James, or fear your soulmate, as Hannah did Thierry, or even hate your soulmate, as Mary-Lynnette originally did with Ash. But the soulmate principle will bring you together, regardless of your everyday feelings. Imagine how Sarah Strange of Strange Fate, the last, LONG overdue Night World series when she sees two silver cords connecting her to the two guys she loves best in the world. Can I say confused? Maybe flummoxed is better.
And the silver cords have an additional function that won't be explained until Strange Fate finally comes out--I hope and pray in 2011. Something that may make it all make sense at last.
Thanks, R, for a question that led to a whole new blog. I'd never really thought it through before . . . and watch me get two hundred emails the day after I post this saying that I did too use it in the first Vampire Diaries books. So much for my memory.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
The traditonal method used to have you make up an index card for each character and write a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual etc. description for them on the index card. I tend to do my work on the computer--it doesn't get lost or fade over the years. I write for each book or series a list of characters and a table that shows what color eyes and hair they have (so that I don't end up with two unrelated mink-brown-haired violet eyed girls). I do a mini character bible for new characters (like the index card bios). I already have bios for my main characters that tell me where they live and what their bedroom--or wherever they tend to hang out--looks like, and the like. Sometimes I do maps. I tend to be longwinded so my entry for Elena Gilbert is about five single spaced pages long.
And nothing keeps me from making huge bloopers. Just as I'm writing you now, at 5 a.m. my time, I tend to do a LOT of writing each day. I get confused and sometimes use my memory rather than my Guide, which is like using a sieve instead or a pot to cook with. The copy-editor is supposed to catch such mistakes if the editor misses them, but I know of at least two that they didn’t in the last couple of books. One was out and out my fault, but never caught—that was referring to Tyron in Nightfall as Dr. Alpert’s grandson, and then in Shadow Souls as her son. Solution: I gave Tyrone a divorced mom who died young, so that his grandma adopted him. Not a very good fix but the best I could pull off by the time I was writing Midnight.
There is also software out, like New Novelist (which I haven't tried) that is built so you can write in character descriptions and traits and leaf through them whenever you like. It also claims to help you write. I'd take that with a grain of salt.
If you can draw, the index card method may work best for you. You could just flip through images until you got the right one. Otherwise, I'd recommend a computer . . . and a lot of rather tedious typing. But you can also gain new insights into your characters if you do a Guide entry on them--they open up to you and often show you that they have hobbies or habits that you never knew about before. Matt rattles his change in his pocket when disturbed. Stefan pinches the bridge of his nose. Damon just smiles like an archangel.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Only please no more "I'll die if so-and-so and so-and-so don't get together in Midnight, or "Promise that you won't kill so-and-so"--which I completely don't understand. Neither I nor my assistant ever threatened to kill anyone, not even to get leverage with my publishers (although I have to assume they read this and it might be a tactic worth trying). Elena and both boys commit lover's suicide the real Japanese way--and I don't have to worry about writing any more books! (Although I do have to worry about whether readers are close to a trash bin or toilet and how fast they can run. And I suppose about hate mail, which I don't get from Twilight fans anymore. I wonder if, like John Doe, they did finally look at the copyright dates?)
Ground rules: I won't give away the plot of Midnight--I never do with the ends of trilogies--and even I don't know if there will be any books after Midnight. I'm still trying to negotiate a contract for more books, although it's been a harrowing experience that I think has scarred me for life. Hate mail or snarky criticism will be weeded out by my assistant before I am allowed to see the Inbox. Anything else is fair game, and I know anyone nice enough to have subscribed to my blog won't deliberately try to upset me.
By the way, my website is in the middle of a complete redesign by a real whiz of a wizard who, unlike Lightmaker or Nikimedia, actually understands what I want. And this blog page will be the first page after the new (short) movie. So from the time it's unveiled I will be able to do my own updates, and blog my little loving heart out.
Plus, there will be new Vampire Diaries stories, the end of Ash and ML's story, new art, an updated book list, and new contests for ever bigger and more expensive prizes. If I can get it approved there will be a section for things that my publishers had me cut out of my books (for length or other reasons). And I also hope all my old blogs will stay . . . no, I promise they will, one way or another. So stick around, please. And please keep reading--and writing.
Oh, and finally, if you haven't been able to find me on Facebook, I'm authorljsmith. Another gift from my publishers. Hoorah? Hoorah.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
I'm so happy that you decided to write to me, and that my books actually inspired you to write a story. As for your question about whether you should be concerned about "nobody seeming to be interested in the stuff you write about" and should you care--the answer is . . . NO! I'd make that bigger, but I think you get the idea.
I once made a picture book for my niece who was worried about turning her short story into a contest. The book was called Who Cares? and in it, my niece Lauren called her Aunt Lisa (a published writer but a rather headstrong person) and said she was worried about what others would think of her story. Aunt Lisa replied shortly "Who cares?" Who cares what others think of your story or if it wins a contest, as long as you enjoy it? And the end of the picture book says "And did Lauren's story win the contest?" And on the last page . . . WHO CARES? That's really the end. You never find out. (As a one-time teacher--and of special ed to boot, I know what gets a discussion rolling. A cliffhanger that's never resolved. The book was meant for teachers to get kids talking about the subject.)
I've often thought of offering the words to the picture book (my art's atrocious) to be published, but never gotten around to it. Maybe I should try.
Tell your brain to stop worrying about what other people think, anyway! That’s what the genius scientist Richard Feynman thought, too. He actually wrote a book called What Do You Care What Other People Think?
Hope this helps someone.
Monday, August 2, 2010
First of all, is your book really finished? Or is it a rough draft or missing any chapters or reading through and editing? The first thing is to have a finished book. For new writers, that's imperative.
Second, you should be able to find books at any bookstore or on Amazon, such as the Writer's Market or Writer's Guide, that list agents who send books to publishers. Or do it the easy way and google "agents for authors."
Never EVER take an agent that asks you to pay them for sending your book to a publisher. These people are running scams. A real agent will ask to see some part of your book, such as the first ten pages or the first chapter. They will probably also want you to give them a short synopsis or query that describes the entire book in one page or five pages. Find out what the specific agent you pick requires. Then do your best to describe your book in exciting terms, to interest the agent in representing you.
Different agents have different specialties. Make absolutely sure you're not wasting your time sending your book to an agent that only works with adult books, if your book is YA, or an agent who specializes in romance books, if your book is urban fantasy.
Reputable agents will have websites that tell their specialities, and what they're looking for. Make sure that you send exactly what they ask for, and nothing more or less.
Third, cross your fingers. If an agent takes you on, you don't have to do any more work (unless the agent asks you to). The agent will send your book to different publishers and try to get them to buy it.
If an agent refuses you, but gives you criticism, that's good! Think about their remarks, change your manuscript if you feel that their criticism has merit. (It probably does. I know it hurts to be told your book needs to be changed, but agents know what publishers want--and you want your book published.
Fourth, if you have tried 10 agents who specialize in your book's type, and they have refused you, you can try the slush pile. This doesn't sound very good, but it just means the place where publishers put books that have been sent to them from the authors who don't have agents. Some books get do published from the slush pile! After I had written The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening for Harper, and before it was published, I got a very excited phone call from a young assistant at Harper. Somehow she had gotten hold of the manuscript for The Awakening and she thought that it had come from the slush pile. She wanted to publish it. I had to explain that it was already coming out. We both ended up laughing.
Fifth, there is also the self-publishing or "vanity publishing" method. Google these terms, since I don't know anything about the process. I believe that you can sell self-published books on Amazon, but it's best to check that information with Amazon.
Hope this helps any new writers!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I also wonder where my grand prize winner from the Shadow Souls contest is. I've been contacted by most of the book winners by not by the winner of the Twin Fox ring.
Anyway, here's what I pasted.
You are a very productive author, you write a lot, but the success of your books is always the same. In your opinion, which is the secret to capture the audience of horror-fantasy readers?
You are very kind to put it this way. To answer your question as best I can, I know stories of forbidden love, or of love triangles, are popular. I start off by thinking of a heroine—either a strong-minded girl like Elena, or maybe a shy girl who will become strong throughout the book, like Cassie from Secret Circle or Sarah in Strange Fate. Once I have a heroine in mind, I think of a hero, or a hero and anti hero (as in Vampire Diaries) or two heroes (as in Strange Fate.) I try to think of why the heroine and hero’s love should be forbidden. Are they from different clans? Is it as simple as that she is a human girl and he a vampire? I brainstorm until I have the characters in mind. Then I figure out a beginning, and an ending . . . and I sort of let the characters run free in my brain to see what they will do.
Monday, July 19, 2010
It was an exciting contest, although it almost overwhelmed my Outlook Express program. I got thousands upon thousands of entries from all over the world. That's going to mean some expensive shipping for me to get the books to some of the winners, but I don't care. I'm just happy to have so many people participate. And--as a few people sent in hundreds of emails from a single account, I have learned to put in the rules that I must forbid more than one entry from any one account.
Oh, welll. It's over . . . unless in three weeks the ringbearer--I mean winner--doesn't email me within three weeks of her first notification. In that case, one of the book winners will be upgraded to the Grand Prize Winner, and someone from the pool of entries will get a book.
Also, I have been finished with Midnight, the final book in the last Vampire Diaires trilogy about a month ago and am waiting (you can imagine how eagerly or maybe--if you're not an author--you can't) for the edits. I've also signed on for a new trilogy and finished the first book in it, Phantom. So there is more Vampire Diaries in store for readers of those books. And yes, Strange Fate will also come out as soon as I can finish it. The problem was that the Strange Fate contract got delayed and . . . well, just trust me, it's coming, even if I type my fingers off.
I had a lovely live chat with French fans, and I'm trying to think whether it would work with American fans. I'll put one together if I can and notify everyone as to the day and time. There's nothing better that I like than talking to readers.
Last but not least, the Forbidden Game Contest is still running until August 1. So if you didn't win a gold ring last time here you have another chance. And I've already bought a fantastic brand new Tiffany and Co. (the real Tiffaney's) gold locket and chain. Now I just have to make up a scene in which Stefan gives Elena the locket (crucial for the new trilogy coming up after Midnight) and we'll see if we really can cause my computer to implode.
Thank you again, to all readers, all who've emailed me, and all who entered the contests. Love ya all.
L. J. Smith
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Isn't that a good one? I was surprised I hadn't heard it before when my friend Toni said it. She said it was attributed to Plato, which would make sense, but then a scholarly gentleman said it was really Philo (say it Hee-lo) and Toni said well, that was what she had first heard but then someone had said it was Plato.
On the Internet, it says it is attributed to both Plato and Philo but not in Philo's extant works.
I think all the argument about attribution really takes away from the quote itself. Everyone I know is facing a great battle. Maybe Rupert Murdoch thinks he is not--but that's silly, because he must worry about how to get all the liberals, and Bill Gates must fret over how to get Microsoft chips into your and my heads, plus in everything else that exists in creation.
Be kind, for everyone you know is facing a great battle.
A friend of mine wrote an article that was sent back for revision and then rejected for not having the very thing she was told to take out! The editor who did that is foolish, and not kind, but I will bet you she is facing a great battle of some kind or other. And so is my friend. Maybe we should all go around with signs on ourselves saying "My battle is to get published" "My battle is to get my wife home safe from Iraq" "My battle is to live through highschool/freshman year of college/junior high/life. . . alive and uneaten."
I love my enthusiastic young readers. They remind me that I swore to keep my ideals unbroken, even when the world seems very dark to me. My young readers are fighting a great battle. Even if what they are reading now is acceptable, if they go on reading (and, oh, please go on reading! More and more books, from all the wonderful authors in the world!) somone may give them a hard time for being lliterate. To me this seems ridiculous, but I know enough and have heard enough to know that it's true. And it's unfair, because they have so many other great battles to go through.
Me. I was happy today because my agent told me that in NY, NY they have posters on phone booths, saying 'If you like Vamprie Diaries the TV show, try the Books! That made me smile.
That's all except that I am going to do some kind of all around change to this website. More vampires! New picturees! More stories and sneak-peaks and even a section of what has been cut out of books for space and content. And a new devotion to blogging.
See? I am trying to be kind because you are fighting a great battle, even if I never know what it isl I hope you win, or at least enjoy the fight.
Monday, April 5, 2010
In case not: Forbidden Game comes out in June.
After that, a new Vampire Diaries trilogy . . .
And finally, finally then Strange Fate.
I'm doing triffic, except that I have to write too much every day. A little less would be perfect.
But who has perfect?