Monthly Archives: August 2012
In somewhat of a special appearance of my blog, I’m please to introduce the fantastic Seleste Delaney, author of Kiss of Death and Badlands.
Here’s a little about Kiss of Death:
Too many years of killer vamps have triggered the curse of the Blood Kissed. They’ve awakened the bloodline that can alter their world, because her blood has the power to control them all—even make them destroy each other.
Jocelyn thought her troubles with vampires were over when she drove a stake through her boyfriend Max’s heart a year ago. Even though she’s engaged to Chad now, she’s never really forgotten him. Now Max is back, and Chad is taking her into the heart of the vamp community—and they’re the ones trying to keep her alive. The ones who love her and each seek to claim her for their own. Because once the elders know who she is, they’re all going to want her… or want her dead.
And here’s a short excerpt:
Music still pumped out of the club as the door opened and a pair of giggling humans staggered out, clearly drunk and obviously recently bitten. “Hey, handsome—” one crooned as she stumbled and grabbed his arm, “—wanna come party with us? We’ll show you a real good time.”
He reached out with a surge of power. “Go show each other a good time. It’ll be better for your health.” Yanking his arm free from her grip, he stalked up to the door. The club acted like nothing had happened, like his fiancée hadn’t been snatched up by some no-name vampire and driven off into the night. Business as fucking usual.
At the entrance, he shoved Trevor into the corner between the door and the wall. “Who was the fucker that came running out of here with the hu…” He glanced at the people still standing in line to get in. “—woman I came with? Got in an old blue pickup.”
“Yeah, that was pretty messed up.” Trevor ran a hand over his scalp, acting like being manhandled was a nightly occurrence worthy of nothing more than an arched brow. “I mean, Max can be kind of goofy when he wants to be, but that was out of character, even for him.”
Chad’s eyes widened. It couldn’t be; he was out of her life. Jocelyn had assured him time and again. “Max? Max Shaw?”
“Yeah, that’s him.”
Grabbing Trevor by his shirt collar, Chad opened the door and dragged him inside, throwing him against a wall.
Another bouncer inside gripped his shoulder. “Easy, man. Everyone gets in when they get in.”
Chad twisted his head around, flashing fang. “Cover the outside. I need to talk to this guy for a minute.”
Backing away, the other bouncer slipped through the door as it swung shut. Trevor swatted Chad’s hand away, all pretense of friendliness disappearing. “What is your problem?”
His problem was he thought Max Shaw was dead and gone. “Where does he live?”
“Max? Last I knew he had a place in Bloomfield.”
“That’s south of here. He went north.”
Trevor pushed off from the paneling, his body a wall of muscle as he approached Chad. “Then you’ve got me. Haven’t spent a lot of time with Max in the last few years. Who knows where he keeps his coffin these days.”
“You let him out.”
“Yeah. I did.” He glowered down at Chad, the challenge evident in his eyes and tone as he leaned closer, using his height and size to intimidate.
“And you can’t help me find him.”
“Pity for you.” Chad reached up, grabbed Trevor around the ears and twisted sharply. The vampire’s neck snapped, and when he kicked the body back against the wall, the head came off in his hands, blood spraying for a second before everything turned to dust.
A spotlight swung Chad’s way, blinding him for a second as his eyes adjusted to the harsh glare. On stage, the band had stopped playing and Remy waved his hand in a flourish. “And that, boys and girls, is how you upstage the main act.”
The first human must have noticed the blood coating Chad’s face and clothes and let out a scream.
From across the club, Remy shouted into the mic, “Someone get a fucking handle on this place and clean up the mess.” Before Chad could reach for the door, the singer was at his side, hand holding tight to his arm. Remy’s eyes had bled completely to black. “Little boy, you’ve got some ’splaining to do.”
Sound fantastic, doesn’t it? And now on with the Interview.
1. Can you tell us a bit more about your book? Where did the idea come from? How long did it take to write?
Kiss of Death is where the world I introduced in the prequel shorts (Of Course I Try and The Ghost of Vampire Present) really takes off. The shorts set things up, but in the most tangential way. Of Course I Try started as a 1300 word story for a writing challenge (basically the last 1300 words of the short were the original story), and I thought it was over and done with. But so many reviews I got insisted that there was more to the story that I started considering the possibilities. The Ghost of Vampire Present was written to give another angle on the buildup, and then Kiss of Death took off. The initial draft took about forty days to write (a lot of which happened during NaNoWriMo.)
2. Who’s your favourite character in the book?
That’s easy: Remy, always Remy. He sits on the council of elders, but he’s not old like the rest of them and they hate him for it. He cracks me up so much.
3. What has been your favourite part of this writing/publishing experience? The scariest?
This one in particular? The scariest was moving publishing houses. I appreciate Decadent for giving me my start with this series, but they are very much a romance publisher, and this isn’t a happily ever after kind of story. So when I decided to take it beyond the shorts, I knew if I didn’t want it to fall through the cracks, I had to take it someplace that really embraced urban fantasy. Thank goodness for Mundania and the brilliant Skyla Dawn Cameron. Her excitement over the book and working with me totally buoyed me up when I started worrying that I really wasn’t cut out for this business. And the fact that there are people really excited about this release. That makes me absolutely giddy!
4. What has been the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
This is kind of an odd one to answer. You see, I also write young adult fiction under a different name. At the Romantic Times convention this year, a woman bought my YA book for her daughter (who is “not a reader”). A short while after the con, she linked me to pictures of her daughter reading my book before school (by CHOICE!). Truly, that right there? Best. Compliment. Ever. I’m totally planning to send the girl a beta copy of book 2 when that particular mess gets straightened out.
5. Do you see writing as a career?
Most definitely. I know if I didn’t approach it that way, I’d still be writing but it would be one project a year maybe. Dawdling on the revisions. Maybe submitting, maybe not. I do have projects I haven’t subbed yet, but that’s because of time. I am always working on something. In fact, as soon as my current bout of editing madness finishes, I have a naughty holiday story to write and get subbed by the end of September.
6. Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
In addition to hopefully selling that Christmas story, I have at least one more book coming in 2012. Love & Other Indoor Sports is part of the Cupid’s Conquests series I created for Evernight Publishing. It’s my first m/m romance as well as the first m/m in the series, so I’m really geeked about that. It should be out either in September or October. There is also another possibility between now and the holidays, but at this point, that’s a “please keep your fingers crossed” possibility. Then in 2013, I have a romantic suspense coming, the next in my steampunk romance series, and (tentatively) in June Kiss of Life.
7. You can pick one series to return to the TV. Firefly or Angel?
Easy. Firefly, no question. Angel had five seasons to tell its story and it did. Yes, there have been comics since that continue it, but I truly felt like it had a chance to “finish” its run. Firefly, on the other hand, was plagued with shoddy promo from Fox, episodes shown out of order, and not enough time to build a steady following for something that was truly different and groundbreaking (and didn’t have the advantage of being a spinoff from a very popular series). However, I wouldn’t want it back on without Whedon at the helm of the show and without a commitment to at least two seasons. If the show was back on the air, it deserves the chance it didn’t get the first time around.
8. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
Relax and don’t stress about having fun. Fun is allowed. Fun is good. And odds are, by the time you’re forty, you’ll have forgotten the majority of the things you’re studying so hard to remember. Do the work, but play too. Oh, and that break you’re on from writing—you know, the one you took to “get serious about your future”?—stop that shit. Stop it now. Write something. And then write something else. And stop trying to measure up to what other people want, just be the most awesome you you can be.
9. You get turned into a werewolf, who do you pee on first?
Dude, if I wanted to pee on someone that badly, I really don’t think I’d need to turn into a werewolf to do it. There’s a list of people I’m close to that done with. Don’t worry, you’re not on it. Yet. …Or am I supposed to be marking territory? In that case, there’s a shorter list. You’re not on that one either. Uh… sorry?
I’d like to thank Seleste for taking the time to answer my questions, and also for not wanting to pee on me. I think that’s pretty important.
If you want to read more about Seleste or her books, you can click on the links below:
The short story prequels, available from Decadent Publishing can be found here. And Kiss of Death from Mundania Press here in all formats. Additionally, all are available at a variety of online retailers.
Kiss of Death is on GoodReads as well, and you can find Seleste all over the internet.
Twitter as @Selestedelaney
Welcome to another edition of my blog. Today I have the privilege of handing over the reins to writer, Natalie Westgate. Enjoy.
Hello fellow citizens of Stevetopia! I’m here infiltrating Steve’s blog this week to talk to you a little about world building. Now, I don’t mean literally building a new world – we’re not going to colonise the moon. Sorry! Although from my architectural background I have often wondered about building models of some of the cities in my current work in progress, Pink Mist.
But for now lets put the LEGOs down and focus on how we’re going to get from a blank page, to a world that’s not only functional but draws the reader in and makes them want to keep reading.
World building is something that’s very close my heart right now. I had created a world for Pink Mist but, as I was working on chapter 7, I had a different world idea come to me. Now, this new idea meant rebuilding the entire world from scratch, which in turn meant re-writing everything I had so far. It sounds like a big job, but creating a new world from scratch is a lot of fun and it’s definitely something you want to get right.
So first things first, we need to decide if our novel is to be set in the past, present of future. If you’re writing historical fiction then most of your world is already built for you, if you’re writing non-fiction then stop reading this now and get on with your research 😉
Let’s say we’re going to set our novel in present day. So now we’re faced with the choice of shaping the world via our characters – keeping the world accurate to modern day, with changes only because our characters exist in it, such as in the Sookie Stackhouse series or Steve’s novel, Crimes Against Magic – or, shaping the world from scratch and then putting our characters in it – such as in The Hunger Games with the districts and way of life there.
Lets follow the latter route and create our world from scratch. This presents a lot of things to think about, the first of which is to keep in mind that our world needs to be bigger than the immediate surroundings of the protagonist. For example, in our new world the protagonist could live in a city, we can call it Stevetopia, that is surrounded by a giant bubble. Our protagonist may never have ventured outside of this bubble, but we need to know what’s out there and if it caused the bubble to be built or not. This will add depth and draw the reader in by eluding to, or even flat out explaining, why things are as they are. If you do it right, the reader will feel that they are living in your world and not just reading about it.
Turning our attention back inside the bubble for now, we need to think about things like government. Is there one? If so, is it the only one or is there another part of the government outside of the bubble? This brings on the question of communication – how do people communicate in our new world, is it by phone and computer, or writing on paper or even telepathy?
From communication we can look at transport. How do people get around inside the bubble? By car? If the bubble is completely sealing them in, then how would exhaust fumes be ventilated? Which brings us on to fresh air – how is it being produced or circulated in the bubble? Are there vents? If so, do these vents pose weak spots that could let something evil into the city? Or are the people outside of the bubble more worried that something evil might come out? This will also link back to government, if there are guards at the vents for one (or both) of these purposes.
Now we need to think about how our citizens are going to get food and water. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I’ve read a few books where half way through I’ve suddenly realised the main characters have gone through weeks or fights and running, yet no one has seemed to ever stop and eat anything! Unless your world involves beings that don’t sustain themselves by normal means, then you will need to mention the occasional meal. This is a great way to draw a reader in, by enticing them with exotic foods, or talking about dishes they would recognise by a different name.
The subject of food also brings on the question of how do they get rid of waste? In a bubble-free world this wouldn’t be too much of an issue to consider, but with the restrictions Stevetopia faces how would our city tackle this problem? Even now in our world we’re seeing that landfills are getting full, so would they bury their rubbish? Burn it? Or do they recycle everything and never throw anything away? This alone could spark a whole new dimension to the story and characters we meet along the way 🙂
Which brings us on to clothes – what do these living conditions mean for the clothes of the citizens? Have they been stuck with the clothing style from when the bubble was formed (due to “recycling” their clothes through generations, or lack of designers to think of new styles)? Or are they more fashion forward because people have had to be creative with what materials they have at their disposal?
Those are a lot of questions so far! But all the while, you need to keep in mind that some of your world building will happen because of your characters’ interactions with it. There needs to be obstacles for them to overcome but don’t make it impossibly difficult or you could back your novel into a corner.
Now, this isn’t to say that you have to go this deep for writing a short story. Obviously you can if you want to but most things that you plan out won’t even come into play when writing short fiction. In a recent short story of mine, The Guard, I knew it was set in a dystopian future and gave a few clues to that end but didn’t go too much in depth. The reader is left to fill in some of the blanks themselves (which is always good).
Obviously when world building your genre of choice will come into play. For a dystopian theme we could say Stevetopia is in the bubble because the world was getting too cold, so the bubble was built to protect the citizens of that city and other cities have done the same. For a horror theme, Stevetopia might be in the bubble to protect them from a zombie apocalypse that is going on outside. Both of these scenarios will change the way you build your world and which areas are more important than others.
The two biggest things I haven’t yet touched on are housing and weather. Every world has weather and it can dramatically change a scene. Fighting in the snow means you have cold and ice to contend with, versus fighting in burning hot sunshine would bring on dehydration, maybe sluggish movements or muscle cramping. In a bubble how would Stevetopia be effected by weather? Is it simulated or do they just never have any differing conditions? Weather and housing are always linked: you don’t need sturdy brick houses in a world where weather is always a nice temperature and there are never any adverse conditions. But you wouldn’t be building reed-houses if your world had a season of devastating hail storms.
This is in no way an extensive list as we haven’t even talked about wildlife or plants and trees, both of which have a dramatic effect on a world by either being there or not. But hopefully it’s a good starting point to get your world building off to a running start. The more questions you pose yourself, the more complete your world building can be.
Ultimately, the one piece of advice I hope stays with everyone is this: don’t treat your work as precious. What I mean by that is, don’t hold onto a “good idea” if it isn’t working, and don’t be afraid to get a red pen and edit your world building notes just the same as you would a manuscript.
I went back and forth a lot over the the “new idea” I had for the world for Pink Mist, revising and rehashing for a long time. It’s now somewhere so much more complex than my original thought but is all the better for it – it’s something believable instead of a shell that a reader could poke holes in. Eventually though, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t right for this novel. It was a “good idea”, but just not a good idea for Pink Mist. So I’ve set my newly built world aside, for now, and it will be the foundation for a new, as yet unnamed series 🙂
So, I guess that’s it from me! I want to thank you all for letting me ramble on about world building, and to thank Steve for letting me hijack his blog for today. Feel free to come by and visit me at http://nataliewestgate.com, to see the shenanigans of me and my still unnamed protagonist. But, she is an assassin so perhaps anonymity isn’t such a bad thing 😉
Welcome back once again to another guest blog. Today is the turn of Kendall Grey, author of the A Just Breathe trilogy, to go in the hot seat.
Here’s the blurb for the second book, EXHALE:
Her dreams brought them together, but reality could tear them apart…
The man of Zoe Morgan’s dreams isn’t only real, he’s interested. In her. But her boss wants her too, and is leveraging his unsolicited advances with the threat of blocking the huge promotion she’s after. When he places a spy on her research team, the intense stranger discovers more than he should, and Zoe fears hiding a relationship with Gavin Cassidy from her boss is the least of her worries. The whale she must protect has been marked for death, and Zoe’s old enemy Scarlet is eager to deliver the killing blow. To both of them.
Australia’s Sentinels must find and lock the door into the Dreaming before Fyre Elementals launch another attack on innocent dreamers. But corruption and distrust abound, and Gavin believes someone on the Sentinel council is in league with the Fyres. As he reluctantly embraces his new role as council leader, Gavin must not only keep Zoe safe from Scarlet’s vengeful clutches, but organize a Sentinel defense strong enough to prevent a full-blown Elemental war—with a traitor fighting by his side.
*This book contains graphic language, sex, and some violence. Not suitable for readers under the age of 18.
**The author will donate all profits from the sale of the JUST BREATHE trilogy to programs that educate people about whales and the challenges they face.
That is a fantastic cover. And the excerpt;
The suite had a modern décor done up in cool tones: thick-napped emerald carpet, wispy eggshell-white curtains tied back to reveal a stunning cityscape beyond the Brisbane River, and vertically striped white and navy wall paper.
A bucket of iced champagne sweated on a low-slung glass coffee table in front of a long, blue-upholstered couch. Zoe’s overnight bag sat on the floor beside a small black duffel at the foot of a king-sized bed. Dainty chocolates adorned monster pillows at the headboard, and the corners of the sheets were folded back. Matching ‘His and Hers’ robes draped across the thick, royal blue comforter.
Seeking refuge against the now-closed door, Zoe swept a hand across her forehead, brushing some windblown wisps of hair out of her eyes. Gavin dropped the key and his sunglasses next to a bulbous green lamp on a dresser and turned to her, his colorful, tattooed arms swinging with the spin.
He closed the distance between them, then reached around her head, loosened the rubber band, and tugged it free. Hair tumbled down her back. Heat prickled her skin as a whiff of his woodsy cologne set her belly alight. The loud clack of a lock snapping into place rang out from somewhere near her right arm.
Trapped with Mr. Perfect.
Zoe’s heart raced. Dropping her gaze to the floor, she inhaled a sharp breath. He peeled open the jacket still hanging on her shoulders and slid it off. The leather fell into a heap behind her. What was he—
Thumbs wriggled through the belt loops on either side of her hips and pushed her flush against the door. One black boot appeared between her feet. The other planted itself in the carpet to the left of her right shoe. She looked up to protest. His lips landed on hers, gentle as a falling feather. Breath shuddered out through her nose, and her eyes drifted closed as he staked his claim on her mouth.
Jitterbugs swarmed her stomach. She reveled in the rhythm of each tiny movement of his mouth as if they’d done this a thousand times before. Which, they sort of had. In her dreams. But dreams weren’t real, and this…so…was.
Her cheeks and ears flushed with fast-pumping blood. His pierced bottom lip, which she’d been dying to taste again, hypnotized her into performing a precarious balancing act between girlish retreat and slut-worthy acceptance of any- and everything he might put up for auction tonight.
A moan vibrated between their mouths, and she realized with embarrassment, it came out of her. She opened her eyes and pulled away, wiping her lips with the back of a hand.
Thanks, Modesty, for the interruption. Your late arrival was poorly timed, but much appreciated.
If the kiss had gone on much longer, she would have straight-up jumped his ass.
He looked down at her, his thumbs still holding her hips by the belt loops, a steady couple of inches away from his steaming hot body.
Breathless, she focused on the lip ring. Big mistake. He licked it.
Thank you, sir. May I have another?
“What was that for?” It took a few seconds, but her senses returned and reminded her of his distance only moments before. Was he buttering her up for sex? Rock stars were notorious users. Maybe he was grooming her to be his next victim.
She couldn’t take much more of the mixed signal shit.
He stepped closer, eyes rippling blue. At five foot eleven, Zoe wasn’t short, but he had a good five or six inches on her. And if his physical stature didn’t dwarf her, his epic hotness was the perfect stand-in. “It’s eleven fifty-two.”
Did she imagine desire hanging thick in his voice, or was that husky tone the result of scream-singing on stage for an hour? Had to be the singing.
“You gonna turn into a pumpkin at midnight or something?” Look away, damn it. Be strong. She stuffed both hands in her front pockets, but he didn’t let her go. Instead, he leaned in even further, heat rising off his sweat-drenched shirt in the cool, air-conditioned room.
“When I woke up this morning, I promised myself I’d kiss you before this day ended.” He tugged her hips to his with a jerk. Holy freaking hell. “Eleven fifty-two.”
And now for the Interview:
1. Who’s your favourite character in the book?
I have a lot of favourite characters in the JUST BREATHE series, but if I have to narrow it down to just one, right now I’d say it’s Sinnder. He’s actually a villain in the series, but you get the feeling there’s a tiny slice of good hiding somewhere under all the apathy. I love the mystery surrounding him too. He’s a bad boy with questionable motives, which is why I think he’s so appealing.
2. Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Right now I’m in limbo while I wait for edits on the final book in my trilogy, so I’m working on some short stories that will accompany the books. It’s fun because I’m able to give readers more insight into the characters without having to write another whole book. Eventually, there will be a spin-off book for at least one of the JUST BREATHE characters. I’m also planning something completely different from my urban fantasy stuff—a religious satire. Can’t wait to dig into that. The life of a writer is never dull!
3. Which character from your book would you most like to meet?
I’d love to meet Sinnder, whom I mentioned above. He’s gorgeous, sexy, and leaves a lasting impression, thanks to the sex pheromones he naturally exudes. 😉 Fyre Elementals are hot in many ways!
4. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
Pretty much every criticism I get is tough. I have very thin skin, which is why I quit reading reviews. The stress isn’t worth it.
A lot of readers have said that the world-building in the beginning of INHALE (book 1 in the JUST BREATHE trilogy) is hard to understand. They’re probably right. There are many new terms and concepts to learn at the beginning, and I drop the reader right in the middle of the action without a safety net. However, I couldn’t make the opening all back-story because I would’ve been slammed for info dumping. It’s a lose-lose situation. I handled it the best way I could. My goal is to “show” the reader what’s going on through story revelations, not “tell” them everything they need to know in two pages or less. The world building in the trilogy is pretty complex. I included a glossary of terms in the back of the book, but I believe sometimes the reader has to trust the author and go with the flow. My friend Dennis Sharpe called INHALE “intelligent smut.” I couldn’t agree with that label more. 🙂 Bottom line: If you want to be spoon-fed a bland, easy-to-digest story, don’t read this series.
5. Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you’re self-publishing, hire a professional editor and cover designer. Don’t skimp on those two items. If you want people to take you seriously, you MUST be professional. Also, avoid reading reviews of your books. If I get ten fantastic reviews and one terrible one, all I focus on is the bad. It makes me question myself as a writer, and I lose my confidence. It will eat you alive if you let it. Best not to put yourself in that situation. Keep writing and ignore people’s opinions.
6. Tell us about your cover. Where did the idea come from?
The cover for EXHALE was the hardest one of the three in the trilogy. I’d spent months looking through stock photos for the perfect guy to be Gavin, the hero. When I finally stumbled upon the photo I ended up using, I knew this was the guy. Not only did he look like Gavin, but the pose matched perfectly with Gavin’s state of mind at the end of EXHALE. The book does not have a happy ending, and I think this image fits the mood perfectly.
7. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Anyone who writes is a writer. Not everyone is an author though. I refused to call myself an author until I was published and actually sold some books. Even now, I have a hard time thinking of myself as a professional author. Seems too big of a title for me.
8. What skills do you possess that would help you survive a zombie apocalypse?
Absolutely none. I’d be the first one down and eaten. And if I got turned into a zombie, I’d suck at that too. I have zero physical skills, zero strength, and zero sense. I’m hopeless!
9. Someone wrongs you. Do you get revenge or allow Karma to do it for you?
If you’d asked me this question a year ago, I’d have said “revenge,” all the way. I’m a very giving and trusting person. I try to help people out any way I can, but DO NOT screw me over. I will hold a grudge for a lifetime, and I NEVER forget a slight. My rebellious nature has never had a problem with taking action against those who do me wrong. However, I recently discovered that when someone slams me or writes a crappy review of my books, karma is pretty good at exacting revenge for me. Most of the time, the sheer idiocy of the person shines through in their review or comment. It saves me the trouble of getting involved. Or giving a crap.
10. You get turned into a werewolf, who do you pee on first?
There’s a long list of people I’d love to pee on. Most of them have some connection to publishing and books, including certain agents, editors, other authors, reviewers, bloggers…I’d better shut up before I get myself into trouble. Karma, remember? 🙂
11. What is your favourite band?
Chevelle. I based my hero’s band from the JUST BREATHE trilogy off Chevelle. Every time they come through Atlanta for a concert, I’m there. LOVE that band! “Family System” may be my favorite song ever.
Thanks to Kendell for taking part in the interview and I hope you all enjoyed it. If you want to read more about Kendell and her incredible work, you can click on the links below.
Today my blog is home to Patti Ludwig, one of the many talented people at kelley Armstrong’s Online Writing Group. But instead of me going on, I’ll let Patti introduce herself.
My name is Patti Ludwig, I live in traditional writerly fashion with a cat, in the Pacific Northwest. I have written some articles for an e-newsletter that is now defunct, and short stories in a variety of genres for two online author boards. As senior moderator for one board’s writing group, I do a certain amount of blog-type musing on writing concerns in semi-public there.
I have various longer projects “in development” but there’s no point looking for me at a bookstore or online publishing concern.
So, I was reading Sharon Lee’s blog “Eagles Over the Kennebek” on the subjects of “who ‘owns’ the characters in a fictional series” and “how do you feel about it when a series comes to an end?”
(Grabs cup of coffee and visits with the cat while reader zooms over to read the other blog and the comments on it.)
Okay, your turn to get an iced drink and scream into a pillow or otherwise vent at the “fan-girl” arrogant stupidity, while I type this up.
Ownership really boils down to this: Who gets paid for creating it? Right, then, THAT’s the owner of the intellectual property. As surely as DRM means that if your electronic book reader gets zapped in some fashion, then you have to re-buy a book, or if your house burns down with your dead tree copy, you have to re-buy the book; you are the consumer of a creation, and you are only renting it to enjoy, from the writers, film or TV makers, or artists whose works you own in reproduction.
Let’s just talk about written series, to keep the qualifiers under control, shall we?
To me – and feel completely free to agree with me on this – any attempt at coercion of the authors is anathema. It’s bullying, and it leads to Stephen King’s “Misery”. Right up there with torturing kittens, gang; seriously uncool.
You know what happens when fans bully their authors? Reichenbach Falls, that’s what. And the less than stellar stories of Sherlock Holmes that were written afterward.
I’d kind of like to imagine that certain series whose quality fell off were victims of this phenomenon, but sadly, most of them are the authors’ own doing for whatever their necessities (Why yes, I am looking at a certain necromancer-vampire slayer, but also a particular land of puns and magic, and at least one series of mysteries.)
This actually leads into the other topic the blog above goes into, or at least the comments on it. How do you feel about a series ending? Is it better to end on a high note rather than to produce zombie clones of previous novels, or better than changing the main characters so much that they are not recognizably the same people who hooked your readers into the series in the first place? Growth is fine, – better! it’s needed if you’re not going to get “Mary Sue Fights Vampires Mark 2”, but is it “growth” when the attitudes, morals, and methods of the “hero/heroine” have taken a 180 degree turn?
You can certainly do that to your characters if you’re writing anti-heroes and how they got there, or dystopian fiction, but if that’s your plan, I want to know in advance. Don’t sneak up on me with it or I’m going to blow up, throw the book across the room, and tear the pages out of it.
Now, I’d accept it, if reluctantly, under one other condition – and if you’re going this route, you better have your basic story arc mapped out and in the hands of a literary executor in case you die before you get to the darkest point, or I’m going to spend our next incarnation hunting you down and beating you with wet noodles. That’s if you start with a “typical” main character and make him or her go through a dark period in order to bring them back out the other end with some kind of improvement. They can have new weaknesses or hard, evil, mean moods or behaviours rarely, but by golly, I’m not reading fiction to get the same “the world sucks and you better get used to it” crap the news services dish out constantly. Paksenarrion comes to mind here; she had a very bad period, and came out the other end with new strengths.
This ties in with “the author owns the characters and fictional universe,” because I’m not actually telling the author not to write it. I’m saying that if they do, I’m voting with my bank account, NOT to buy & read it. Anything more than that or a “meh, it’s not my kind of thing any more, but if you like dark crap, knock yourself out” review is bullying. Driving the author to tears? Can we say “definition of bullying”?
Now, before I blow a gasket, let’s move on to how I, as a reader, feel about series that come to an end.
Crappy answer, isn’t it? But this is why: It’s too complex and individual to answer in a witty one liner, kinda like “how do you feel about theft?”
If the author has already planned out an arc and ends it in a way that’s consistent with their previous material, I’ll (this DOES assume I’m enjoying them to this point, okay?) re-read, sad not to have more adventures with those people, but I’d rather that than… Reichenbach Falls, or “Mary Sue Fights Vampires Mark 28”. But I respect an author who either has that much of a plan, or looks at her body of work and says “that’s it. That is all that Mary Sue has to do or say. Time to let her retire and go to write someone else with New! Different! Adventures!”
If we do get “Mary Sue Fights Vampires Mark 28” chances are that I stopped reading them around Mark 4. Oh, there are exceptions; one of my guilty pleasures is a perfectly dreadful set of westerns that include way too much of the same expository material about the “bridge crew” and their weapons or martial arts, with side trips into Science Fiction and romance; but on the whole, unless there’s something special about these zombie/clone books, I’m voting monetarily to end it. No buyers = no publisher contract. The author may write them, but is unlikely to achieve more than vanity press self publication by that point. Too many books and too little time to waste on this or a slow and horrifying shift from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, for my tastes.
When the author “sells out” or loses focus or interest, (I’m thinking of a set of blue eyed white quadrupeds here) it gets exasperating, and you start weighing how much you “have to complete the set” or “love this author/series” against the cost of substandard product and the hope of a return to the quality that attracted you to it. It’s a really personal and fluid equation, and I tend to come down on the side of “if it improves, I’ll buy again, but until then it’s check it out of the library or put in some time at bookstore checking if it’s worth my limited cash.” Often even then, it’s going to wait for paperback or even used paperbacks before any more money leaves my hands.
In the case of Author Existence Failure, I experience considerable frustration, but what CAN you do? “He died, man.” Even if he left an outline and a literary executor (yes, Jordan is a perfect example) it may still not be completed as the author envisioned. (See? What’d I tell you?) It may be satisfying – I can’t get into the Wheel myself, so I can’t tell you if that co-writer is doing a really competent job – but is it authentic? At its best, I’d say yes, it probably is, but at its worst… Anything Pern after Todd McCaffrey started getting co-author status is fanfic to me. Not very good fanfic, either. “We have a problem, there is a scientific solution in the past, we will send someone back in time to get it and write lots of scientific jargon while we do so. The heroes will get verbally if not physically beaten up for being right and not abiding by what the PTB think is right. The end.” Given that kind of option, I’ll *try* the “co-written” or “authorized successor” versions. *If* they work for the rules of the universe that the original author set up, and they aren’t formula or flogging some agenda of the new writer’s choice, if they have the “feel” of the original, I may continue with them. If they don’t, they go off my “read/buy” list. End of discussion.
Writer’s Block or Publisher Rejection are essentially the same for me; the author is still there, still (probably) writing, but they’ve left a plot and characters hanging. Sometimes, the author has gotten the story from A to say J, but for some reason, the characters refuse to move on to K, or even L, so it can get to Z. For some authors, this is something they can work around, they can write side stories, or later volumes, coming back, working toward the blind spot. That can be annoying for the reader who prefers the saga in chronological order, and leads to spoilers, but… if that’s the only way you can get the story out, that’s what you’ve got to do. Sometimes even that won’t happen. “You got a tumour there, not a kidney stone. You’re not going to pass it, and we can’t operate.” What can you do? Do you castigate your friend (because, to me, someone who writes a series I get invested in IS a friend) for not being able to go running with you, or do you accept gentle walks around the mall instead, since that’s what they can manage? It’s still good time together.
When the publisher orphans a series, that makes me furious with the company, but I will bow to their financial necessities You should too, however angry you are, and this is why: Publishers are in business. Business, people! There to make money! They have to balance “we’re not getting sales that pay back the money invested in these books already, do we go bankrupt publishing the rest of them, or cut our losses? Should we hang onto rights to the ones already printed, in case the next different thing the author writes goes ballistic best seller and we can re-print for a sack full of money?” Usually they’re going the latter route, and who can blame them? Really. If your paycheck depended on not throwing good money after bad for a miniscule fan base, wouldn’t you put your hands behind your back and say “Uh-uh, I’m not throwin’ nuthin!”?
You know how you fix that? You make waves. You get other people to read the existing volumes. You blog, review, buy, book-push. Get that author and that series into the spotlight. Tell the publishers and book stores how you feel. Like Star Trek, you might manage to squeeze a few more instalments out of the studio, and possibly the author will realize the analogy and be able to finish at least one volume on a note that leaves the readers saying “well, I’d love more, but… if it has to end here, I can live with it.” It may not tell the whole of the story the author wanted, but compromise is a fact of literary life. Don’t like it? Make a new solution – and clue the rest of us in!
The next stop on having great authors on my blog belongs to Red Tash, the author of the excellent Troll Or Derby and The Wizard Takes a Fitness Class.
Here’s the blurb for Troll Or Derby:
In Troll Or Derby, fifteen-year-old Roller Deb is singled out by town bullies for both her skates, and her sexual orientation. When her popular homecoming queen of a sister is kidnapped by a scuzzy drug dealer, Deb must flee the trailer park in which she’s grown up, and rescue her. Along the way, Deb becomes enmeshed in the magical realm of trolls and fairies, and the blood-thirsty version of roller derby at which these beings excel. But spending too much time among the fairies comes with a price. Will Deb choose to save her sister, with the aid of a mysterious troll? Or will she be lost to the lures of roller derby, and the blonde temptress April, forever?
I’m sure you’ll all agree, that is an excellent cover. And now for a short excerpt:
Burning Down the House
Meth fires are blue, the hottest kind of flame. I’d heard it before, probably from Derek, but now I was seeing it firsthand. Lucky me.
A sickly smell hung on the air. The remains of chemicals, plastic, and pharmaceutical ingredients brutalized my lungs, but I couldn’t back away. I wouldn’t—no matter what.
The trailer crackled with flame, and Gennifer was inside. Tall, eerie tongues of fire licked the outer walls–ten feet high, at least. I had no idea flames could reach that size.
Plasticine, sticky smoke—brown and thick—engulfed me as I neared the trailer. I didn’t know where to look for my sister, but I was sure she was inside. A moan, then a scream—I could hear her through the thin aluminum walls.
The trailer was melting into sludge and toxic smoke, and it cracked and popped on a warping metal frame. I didn’t know if I should try and run through the fire at the kitchen end of the mess, where a gaping hole belched sickening fire. Maybe I could try to get Gennifer to open or break a window and climb out from the other side. I wondered if she’d have it in her to bleed a little, to save her own life.
The window was way too high for me to reach.
“Open the window, Gennifer! Climb out!”
She was never right when she was doing the drugs Dave gave her—could she even understand what I was saying? Could she hear me?
I thought maybe I could pitch something hard enough into the glass to break her out. I ran to the woods, looking for a log or branch I could ram through the window. Everything was too rotten to be of any use—sticks and limbs crumbled in my shaking hands. Gennifer’s screams were getting louder, higher pitched. Was she on fire? Why wouldn’t she help herself?
If only I had a crowbar.
Then I saw them—tools. The trailer was up on blocks, with no underpinning. Of course Dave would be too cheap to finish out his rustic rural meth lab. I crawled beneath, the leaky septic line christening me as I stooped, groping for the abandoned tools. I hoped the mobile home wouldn’t collapse on top of me before I could crawl back out, but it wasn’t sounding so good.
Dave and his gang of junkie slaves had been working beneath the trailer, and sure enough, they’d been too distracted, dumb, or high to put away a set of screwdrivers, some ratchets, and a really, really heavy wrench.
It’s no crowbar, but it’ll have to do.
Liquid shit dripped on me, but I didn’t have time to care. My sister was screaming her head off in a burning trailer and I was reasonably certain she was out of her mind on drugs.
I flung the wrench at the window, but it didn’t break. I tried again, and again, but only managed to crack the damned glass, and Gennifer still hadn’t appeared at the window to save herself.
There was only one thing to do. I grabbed the wrench and ran to the kitchen end of the trailer. I took a deep breath of fresh air, then I hurled myself through the cloud of fumes. The fire and smoke obscured everything, and I shut my eyes against the sting of chemicals. For a moment, I thought I saw the shapes of blue and orange dancers in the flames.
I braced myself for the heat, but I didn’t feel it. Pops and hisses all around me sounded like whispers or cackles. The fire was eating through the trailer, and I felt the floor giving out with every step. I wouldn’t let it take Gennifer—I wouldn’t let it consume me, either.
The hallway was short, and the door Gennifer was locked behind very thin. Her screams were so loud, there was no point trying to yell to her that I was coming in, especially if it meant inhaling more smoke.
I swung at the handle, holding the wrench like a baseball bat. The brass knob fell to the floor, a chunk of splintered wood still clinging to it. I kicked the bedroom door in, and Gennifer stopped screaming long enough to pass out.
Lovely. Now I’ll have to carry her.
She wore a black bra and jeans, and her skin was burning with fever. I put my hands under her armpits and lugged her over my shoulder. She had at least 75 pounds on me, so I should have crumpled under her, I suppose. Instead, I stumbled into the door frame as I carried her across the spongy floor of the burning trailer.
The heat touched my hair—I could hear it sizzle, could smell it burning, even—but I felt nothing but determination as I carried my sister out of that meth lab.
With Gennifer still on my back, I jumped. She fell hard on top of me, and I was just pushing her off, struggling for breath, when the trailer collapsed onto the ground. The sound of sirens in the distance was no surprise—the smoke was so black and thick that farmers in the vicinity surely could tell this was no typical trash fire. I pulled my sister as far away from the flames as I could and watched for the EMTs to roll up.
Gennifer groaned, and her eyes flickered open for a sec. She met my gaze and frowned. She closed her eyes again and drew a deep breath.
“I’m going to kill that son of a bitch,” I said.
“Dave didn’t do it,” she said. Her words were slurred. She reached up to rub her eyes, lazily, as if waking up from a nap.
“Yeah, right, Gennifer. He’s such a saint, locking you in a burning trailer and all.”
I didn’t see the point of arguing with her, though. I let it drop.
Something sticky and hot dripped too close to my eyes, and I reached to wipe it off. Please don’t let it be crap from the sewer line. I pulled my hand away, and it was covered in blood. Even better. I won’t think of that now—nope, not at all.
The fire truck roared up the gravel driveway. Guys in black rubber suits jumped off the truck–someone put a face mask on Gennifer and asked me if there was anyone still inside.
I shook my head no, and then I fell through trees, air, sky, into the black. I felt my head hitting the hard ground near where my backpack lay, could hear the EMTs shouting, and then—nothing.
I’d Love to Change the World
I want you to understand something. I didn’t rise up out of the ground fully grown, I wasn’t the bastard child of an angry god, and I didn’t become this way because I was cursed. My skin’s not green and I won’t turn to stone in the sunlight.
When I was young, I had a mother, and she was a troll. I had a mother and a father who were both trolls, in fact–and we were a family. Yes, I had a family. Just like you.
Almost everything I know about humans, I’ve learned from their trash. Redbook and Woman’s Day show up at my doorstep more than any other source, I reckon. It may not be a perfect picture of what your life is like, but I’m betting I’ve got a more accurate view of your lifestyle than you have of mine, at least for the time being.
For starters, there’s a shopping mall full of differences between troll family life, and how human families live. Trolls, for instance, do not typically invest a lot of emotion into their own young–often don’t even raise them. They especially don’t socialize with their relatives for special occasions. You won’t see us breaking out the patio umbrellas and the ice chests full of soda for a family barbecue. A special occasion in troll culture is when the villagers rise up and try to corral one of us in a cave, or something like that. At least, that’s how it used to be. That’s what my mom told me. I remember that.
I remember a lot more now than I did, when this adventure started—but I’ll get to that.
Best I can tell, my nuclear family was more like a human family than a troll one. The extended family, as you English would call it, was a mess. A big, illegal, drug-running, slaving mess. But I’ll get to that. This is my part of the story and I want to begin in the beginning. I’m not a storyteller. It’s not my profession. Bear with me while I sort this out, okay?
Sure, you’re going to think what you want about trolls. I mean, you’ve seen movies, you’ve read Rowling and Tolkien. I’m telling you that the real-live working-class trolls of the Midwest are nothing like you’ve been told. We’re capable of great violence, sure, and I’ll concede that our proclivity is largely toward evil, but let’s face it—a lot of that comes down to breeding and culture.
In our world, might most definitely makes right. That’s the fundamental law of troll culture, although most trolls would forego the flowery wording and just express it with a grunt and blow to the head.
Trolls as a species, though, are capable of great love. I know, because I’ve experienced it. You don’t live with something like that and ever forget. If you do, you’re a fool, anyway.
My parents weren’t totally solitary like so many other trolls are. They even had a very close friendship with a fairy family called the Wheelers. If we’d celebrated holidays, the Wheelers were the ones we’d have invited over for a Fourth of July cookout. We didn’t do that a lot, that I can recall. We did raid sinkholes filled with garbage on a few occasions, though. Good times.
The Wheelers were not just fairies, they were Protectors. Fleet of foot and quick of mind, their instincts were so well-tuned as to be mistaken for psychic powers, by most. According to my mother, in the old days humans and fairies alike worshiped or feared the breed of fairy the Wheelers were. Their massive black wings shimmering in air above a crowd of would-be foes were beautiful and awesome—I remember that, too. Sometimes. The memories come and go, unless I’m looking at Deb. Then I can’t forget.
Anyway, these two particular Wheelers, Marnie and Mannox, were so powerful and strong, everyone lived in fear of them. Everyone but my folks, and me, I guess. The Wheelers were my fairy godparents. I don’t remember much about them, but I remember that.
Trying to remember is a full-time job. I’ve visited the library in Bloomington, and even picked through the local bookstore in Bedrock, curious about what the old days used to be like. Maybe there’d be a book there, or something. I read in a muddy copy of Psychology Today once that some therapists use fairy tales to trigger vital memories in their patients—and I used to get these blank spots, this fogginess.
Anyway, my point is, among the children’s stories and the romantic teen fiction, and even in a lot of the comic books, there’s some truth. Mostly fiction, but if you look hard enough, you can see through the tall tales, and find the common thread within. I’ve always been good at that sort of thing. Figuring stuff out.
The one thing I wish I’d figured out sooner was what to do about my uncle Jag.
Why? Well, for starters, my uncle killed my parents, and my fairy godparents. It was immediately after the bonding ceremony between their baby daughter and me. The Wheelers had pledged to protect my parents, and by extension, me. My parents were to protect Deb, and I was, by extension . . .
Well, I jump ahead of myself. I told you I’m not good with stories.
I should start with an introduction, shouldn’t I?
My name is Harlow Saarkenner. I am an American Troll living in rural Indiana, and this is the story of how I met a kick-ass rollergirl, rejoined a rock band, and lived happily ever after.
In a landfill. Did I mention that?
But there’s more. Stay tuned. I’m just going to tell it like it happened, best I can. Deb will fill in the rest.
And now on with the Interview:
1. Can you tell us a bit more about your book? Where did the idea come from? How long did it take to write?
Troll Or Derby is about a weird kid who gets thrown into precarious circumstances and skates like hell to get out of them with herself and an increasing number of “dependents” intact.
I used to play roller derby, so the idea to have the characters involved in derby came from that aspect of my life. The derby I played was nowhere near as brutal as Jag’s, though. I’m not positive any of the girls I skated with were trolls, either, although there was one who was kind of Oompa Loompa-shaped.
Actually, come to think of it, there was a lady who I was very intimidated to meet. I did not skate against her because she was way out of my league. She had served time for murder, and she was one of the best roller derby players in my region. I named one of my characters for her—it’s not her exact name, because that’s generally frowned upon in Derby, but it’s a tribute. The lady’s a legend. Really nice, too. (Turned out the guy deserved it.)
But, yeah. Lots of derby names in my book. One of my minor male characters is named after a real life friend’s skate name: Mace Frehley.
The rest of it? The fairies, trolls, meth labs, rock & roll? All that’s based on true events. 😉
I started writing Troll Or Derby in single-subject notebooks on my lap while sitting in line at the school to pick up my kids. 5 min. here, 10 min. there. I took long chunks of time off from writing because roller derby became all-consuming. I also had a few years of personal-life free fall (not uncommon when derby happens!) Two or three years later when I picked myself & Troll Or Derby back up to finish, it was about 75% done.
I finished, worked on other projects, sent it to some betas, worked on other projects, had it edited, got the cover, did my final, and got it onto shelves in about…maybe 6 months? This was my second book, and it was an easy book to write, because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it, what tone to strike, all that. I called it my “rebound” book because I wanted to write a fun book that had no deeper meaning, no world-changing agenda. It helped tremendously that I had some experience tinkering around with epublishing by then, as well.
2. Who’s your favourite character in the book?
It’s not nice to play favorites, is it? I haven’t had to answer this question yet. Hrm…
Deb is such a vivid person in my mind. She’s tough, takes no shit off anyone, is somewhat innocent and somewhat jaded like any teenager, and let’s face it—she’s not cool. Okay, maybe once she becomes a fairy she’s a bit cooler, but not before her transformation. Then there’s Harlow, the rockin’ troll, the older guy who has Deb’s back, even though he can’t remember why he’s compelled to care. He’s so far removed from society of every kind, he lives in the county dump–but he does the right thing according to his gut and he’s probably the most honorable character in the book. I pity those two, but I also love them.
Of the bad guys, I think April, the evil jammer fairy princess from hell (horns and all) and her daddy, scrawny, smoky, sleazy McJagger are guilty pleasures to write. I just like writing bad guys. I love it as much or more than I like chocolate.
3.What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
That I was not special or talented enough to make a success of my career writing fiction. However, the person who said that to me has yet to publish a book, so I don’t know why I bothered letting it upset me at the time. You gotta consider the source.
4.What has been the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
Well, someone called Troll Or Derby “literature,” which honored me and completely took my breath away. More than one person said it was the best book they’d read all year. I couldn’t have asked for that kind of praise—I was simply shooting for “fun.” I’ve been offered a couple of publishing contracts in the past month, so that’s a pretty good sign, too.
I particularly like it when readers tell me I’m responsible for their lack of sleep and a tough time at work the following day, because they couldn’t put one of my books down and get to sleep until they found out what happened.
5.Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
So many! Sequels to Troll Or Derby and This Brilliant Darkness, a madcap collaborative adventure novel with Axel Howerton, a Christmas anthology, comics, a memoir, poetry…really, it’s been a very creative year!
6.Someone wrongs you. Do you get revenge or allow Karma to do it for you?
I’m not sure I believe in karma. I’m not sure I believe in revenge, either; however, I will say I am tremendously talented with the latter. Don’t know if I should be proud of that, though, right? Hrm. How’s that for a Ravenclaw answer to your Slytherin question?
7.You could live out the story from any one book. What book would it be?
After that last question, I’ll give you one guess. But, honestly, I love my life. I think I’d miss my family if they couldn’t come to Hogwarts with me.
And that’s it for the interview, thanks to Red Tash for agreeing to take part. I hope you enjoyed it.
If you want to read more about Red Tash’s excellent books, you can click on the links below:
Next in the list of wonderful people to take my blog for a spin is the, quite frankly, uber-talented Angela Addams. It’s all yours, Angie.
I started getting tattooed when I was 19. In fact, my very first tattoo was so painful (the artist admitted to me later that he was intentionally more heavy handed than he needed to be…asshole) that I vowed never to get another one again. As you can see from my pic, that was a vow I broke….big time. I think that my current count is somewhere around 14 or so…but I don’t sit around and count my tattoos very often so I can’t say for sure. We’re not talking little butterflies either…the artist that I went to for years always had a saying whenever I came in with a new idea, “BIGGER” he’d say… “BIGGER, ANGIE!!!” and so we always went bigger.
For a long time I would always make sure to get ink that I could cover, primarily because I was very concerned about judgment within my profession. So yes, that meant if I was going anywhere where I could possibly run into someone from work I would wear jeans and ¾ length shirts, even in the summer. My family didn’t know about my tattoos either…so yeah, I’d cover up for family events too.
I lived and breathed the tattoo world for quite some time. My bff worked as a piercer at a tattoo shop for many years and I would go there to not only get work done but to hang out as well. I went to tattoo conventions. I drank and partied with some of the biggest, most kickass, heavily tattooed folks you could meet. So I didn’t realize until I moved away from the people who were “like me” how very different the rest of the world tends to view women who have many tattoos. I have faced some element of judgment living in a community where my tattooed self kinda stands out. I’ve been followed around stores by security…I’ve been ignored while waiting for service (trust me, that doesn’t last long, I tend to speak up 😉 I’ve been asked inappropriate questions and scolded about how terrible my tattoos will look in thirty years and what a shame I must be to my mother. It’s kind of unbelievable what people think is okay to say to another individual that they don’t know.
What people don’t realize is that my tattoos do many things for me, many positive things. They act as conversation starters…you show me, I’ll show you kinda stuff. They act as a shield…some folks find my appearance intimidating and at times, that’s exactly what I want. A turn on…yes, some men find tattoos on women very attractive and that can be flattering. They are moments in time, symbols of what makes me me. Most importantly though, my tattoos have always been a way of working through the burden of depression. I’ve found that when I’m feeling my lowest, getting tattooed has been a way for me to work through the pain on the inside by feeling a little pain on the outside. Some folks might think that’s a little strange but it seems to work for me. So, there’s more to it than a little (or a lot) of ink on my skin.
We are a judgmental society. I’d be a fool to think that people don’t judge me based on my appearance. I realize that when I walk down the street showing my tattoos, no one is thinking, wow that is one intelligent, highly educated, hard working woman there. Do I care? No, not really. Getting tattooed is an expression of who I am. It’s a part of my life that I won’t ever walk away from. My ink gives me power, and as a woman I value that above most things.
Amazon Author Central: http://www.amazon.com/Angela-Addams/e/B005JOTBPM
Every day is Halloween for author Angela Addams. Enthralled by the paranormal at an early age, Angela spends most of her time thinking up new story ideas that involve supernatural creatures in everyday situations.
Well, until now, that is. Angela has recently expanded her creative repertoire to include contemporary erotica, because the written word is an amazing tool for crafting the most erotic of scenarios even if there are no werewolves in sight.
She lives in Ontario, Canada with her loving husband and children.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce my new baby daughter Harley McHugh, born on 16th Aug 2012 at 01:48.
There’s going to be a full length blog post later today from guest-star Angela Addams, but for now, I just wanted to share the awesome.
Next on my list of great writers to take over my blog is T. James. He not only has a great book out, the touching and moving My Mirror Self, and I, but he also interviewed me way back in April, which some named as the funniest interview they’d ever read. You can go here to read it in all it’s glory.
My Mirror Self, and I has been given some wonderful reviews: ““The central character is sympathetic and all too human while the depiction of depression rings scarily true.”
Here’s the blurb to My Mirror Self, and I:
Intimate and real, this is a story about finding courage in the face of adversity. Cassie is a young woman struggling to keep herself, and everything else, from falling apart as she tries to deal with breast cancer and depression. Can she find the strength she needs to rescue her marriage and reclaim her life?
And a short excerpt:
“A couple of claustrophobic and disconnected weeks followed before David left for another week away. I drove to see my parents back in my hometown of Topeka, where I stayed until a couple of days before David was due to return. The change of scene was wonderful, and it was so lovely to see them. For a brief time I felt like I had a home somewhere again. This was despite the suitcases left abandoned randomly in several rooms through the house; like flower centers surrounded by a corona of petals, each suitcase was decorated with its own crown of scattered clothes.
Mom had always been awful at packing, but adamantly refused help from anyone. This time it was even worse; in two weeks they were off on their ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe as Pop called it – bus trips around England, France, Spain and Italy, followed by a month-long cruise around the Mediterranean. They’d literally been saving for decades for this, their once-in-a-lifetime retirement dream – so I couldn’t talk to either of them about David, being unemployed, or hating Atlanta. I wasn’t going to ruin this for them and so I acted as if everything was fine. I thought I deserved an Oscar.
David called every day – at least things had calmed to a civil exchange of words. All marriages had their ruts, right? I had to be content with waiting, figuring that we could mend things when we got a bit more perspective on them. However, Marjorie overheard one of our calls and she wasn’t the waiting type.
Marjorie was one of my oldest friends, and the only one left still living nearby. We had gone to Malone’s, our favorite bar, which was now Chantrey’s American Bistro, and paid five times the price for drinks than we used to. The food was good though, and we were having a great night. Marjorie was always outrageous but now she was divorcing Jerry, her second husband, she was unstoppable. After two hours I knew more about their defunct love-life, Jerry’s birthmarks and the funny sound he made in the back of his nose when he panted than I ever wanted to. The phone rang and I pulled it eagerly from my bag – despite the tension between us, it was still great to hear David’s voice. He sounded happy enough, if a little distracted, and we chatted briefly about inconsequential things. He said he loved me and he was looking forward to seeing me again in a few days.
With a serial divorcee’s unerring instinct for spotting holes in someone else’s relationship, Marjorie asked if David and I were still having sex before the phone was even back in my bag. I really did not want to talk to her about that. Just because she felt comfortable going through a position-by-position debrief didn’t mean I did. I tried to evade the question, but Marjorie was drunk and simply wouldn’t let it go. Where did David go in the evenings? Did he still buy me gifts and, if so, what and when? Were we still planning a family?
I remember blushing and beginning to fume inside, but it wasn’t until Marjorie asked if I had been through his things, and checked his pockets, his address book and his phone contacts, that I finally understood what she was driving at. I threw my drink in her face and stormed out of the bistro, leaving my so-called ‘friend’ to find her own way home. I blamed Marjorie for being drunk and soured by two failed marriages. She was bound to suspect the worst. The hot feeling of shame buried somewhere inside told me that I doubted David too; I’d been through his things hadn’t I?”
And now for the interview:
1. So, why don’t you tell us all a bit about yourself?
I’m a dad and husband, living in the UK. Depending on who you talk to, I’m an old crusty the wrong side of forty, or my life began just over a year ago. I’ve trained as a scientist and therapist and I’ve been writing formally, at work, for most of my life. I started writing creatively in February 2011, the first time since I left school. I started with no clue, no confidence and an abandoned attempt at writing a fantasy novel. Since then I’ve turned my hand to poetry, short fiction, and blogging.
2. Can you tell us a bit more about your book? Where did the idea come from? How long did it take to write?
My Mirror Self, And I (MMSaI) tells the story of a young American woman, Cassie, and her struggle with depression, breast cancer, unemployment, and a failing marriage. It’s a story about finding the courage to go on living, no matter what the odds stacked against you.
The ideas came from a few places: various members of my family have faced what Cassie faces in the book; the courage of the people I used to treat; and my wife’s ongoing involvement in breast cancer research.
MMSaI took around six months to write, and several more for beta reading and editing. Although it is only novella length, the subjects are extremely emotive and it took me a long time to work out how to handle them within the context of a story—although it is fictional I wanted Cassie’s experiences to feel as real as possible. It also took several tries to find a tone, viewpoint, and style that I felt happy with. Partly this was down to my inexperience, which meant multiple rewrites. That was frustrating, but it was a great learning experience for me as a writer.
3. How did you come up with the title?
I can’t remember which song it was, but I heard the phrase, “me myself and I,” in the lyrics. That stuck with me and I started to play around with the wording until I felt it fitted some of the themes of the story: our identity and how we define it.
4. What made you decide to self-publish?
I’m not against traditional publishing, but for this novella it was a straightforward decision: the shorter format, unusual writing style, and the topics of cancer and depression were never likely to appeal to an agent or a mainstream publisher. It was either self-publication or abandonment.
I was also excited by the prospect of being able to get into the design and presentation side of book production—something only self-publication allows you to do.
5. What has been your favourite part of this writing/publishing experience? The scariest?
Writing anything, especially when it’s self-published, leaves you feeling quite exposed as I think something of yourself always goes into what you create. It’s like being at school again and waiting for your essay to come back from the teacher—covered in red pen and with, “See me,” written at the bottom—except this time your writing is applauded or criticised by a lot more people.
The exchanges I’ve had with writers and readers so far have been challenging and rewarding in equal measure, but something I’ve really grown to value. My other “best bit” is the feeling of satisfaction I get when I see the finished product. I will leave it to others to personally rate the quality of what I do, but for me the point is that I did it, and to the best of my ability.
6. Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
I’m very much in an experimental phase at the moment, wanting to try different genres and styles of writing to find out what my limits are. Life is a mix of both tragedy and comedy, and as a writer I want to explore both. My new projects are a lot less serious: a YA parody and a satirical writer’s how-not-to guide.
7. What do you do for fun when you’re not writing?
The thing is, writing is fun. I’ve always had an overdeveloped sense of curiosity and writing gives me a great excuse to find out all kinds of oddities and obscure facts—did you know you’re not supposed to hot wash hemp underwear?
As a person I’m quite passionate and my free time is limited so if I was going to give writing a decent go then something else had to give. I used to watch anything and everything on television and play loads of computer games—now, not so much. I don’t miss them as much as I thought I would as I get more of a kick from creating than I do from consuming. I still watch TV and films with my wife and there’s reading, of course. Otherwise life is about letting my son spray me with water and jump on me as often as possible.
8. What was the last movie you went to see?
Avengers Assemble. It was fun: excellent action sequences and cheesy one-liners, Loki in a dress, Thor with the intellectual capacity of a bison, Ironman with his toys, Captain America in a gimp mask, the Black Widow in her itchy cat suit, and a Large Green Angry Man. Great cinema.
9. What’s your favourite comedy Monty Python film/sketch?
Of the films it has to be Monty Python And The Holy Grail:
The Knights Who Say Ni: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTQfGd3G6dg&feature=related
The Black Knight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKhEw7nD9C4&feature=related
French Taunting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9DCAFUerzs&feature=fvst
It’s the Monty Python team at their funniest, but personally I found the ending a bit of a let-down.
The Parrot Sketch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npjOSLCR2hE
Fresh Fruit Self-Defense: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piWCBOsJr-w
Ministry Of Silly Walks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZlBUglE6Hc&feature=relmfu
I know these are everyone’s favourites, but they’ve become classics for a reason.
10. What makes you laugh on TV?
Well, it was a while ago, but I always enjoyed the anarchy of The Young Ones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPDa8gZ75vw&feature=related
Um, Steve? Steve…? Was I that dull? Maybe he’s just working his way through all those YouTube clips…
*An even longer uncomfortable silence*
Well, I guess that must have been his last question. I don’t know, does he do this a lot? It’s his blog and everything, but it’s a bit off isn’t it? To anyone reading this, I guess Steve will be back soon with another post. I apologise on his behalf for leaving you all hanging…
*Mutters on the way out* Maybe it was a technical fault…? Maybe writing Nate’s got to him, and he’s now delusional and trying to kill people by dropping cars on them with the power of his mind…? Maybe one of his daughters needed Daddy for something? Maybe he hasn’t done the dishes, and his wife found out? Maybe…
(Steve – Everyone just remain quiet, it might be cruel, but it’s the only way to get him to go home.)
If you’d like to read more of TJ’s musings (and that should probably come with a health warning of some kind), or want to read his incredible book, click on the links below.
EBOOK FOR KINDLE (readable on almost any mobile device with the Kindle App) available from:
T. James Blog: thewordonthe.net
Today I’m happy to have on my blog the incredible, D.B. Reynolds. Not only does she write the wonderful Vampires in America series of books, but she’s also one of my fantastic crit partners. Which works out very well for me, because not only is she very good at helping my writing get better, but I also get to read all of her books before anyone else. Not that I’m showing off or anything.
Duncan is the 5th book in the Vampires in America series and here’s the blurb:
Washington, D.C. … capital of an empire. Powerful. Exhilarating. Corrupt. And in the shadows … vampires far older than the nation itself.
A power unto himself, Duncan has served at Raphael’s side for nearly the entire two hundred years of his existence. But long laid plans have finally borne fruit, and the time has come for Duncan to leave Raphael and tackle the greatest challenge of his life. He will face treacherous vampires and murderous humans. He will rock the halls of human power if necessary. But Washington, D.C. will be his.
Emma Duquet cares nothing for vampire politics. She just wants to find her missing roommate and best friend, Lacey. But Lacey’s been playing with vampires of a particularly dangerous kind, and Emma will have to deal with the new vampire in town if she’s going to find her friend.
Battling powerful enemies who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets, Duncan and Emma will dig beneath the corruption and depravity that is Washington, D.C. and uncover the most heinous conspiracy of all …
And to whet your appetite even more, here’s a short extract:
“Do you feel it, Miguel?” Duncan whispered, and sent a fraction of what he was sensing down the link he shared with his vampire child.
Miguel sucked in a breath. “Sick fuck,” he hissed.
“Not sick,” Duncan corrected softly. “Evil.” His gaze traveled up the wide staircase. It would be worse up there. So much worse.
“Upstairs,” he said.
Miguel sent one of his vampire guards up ahead of him, but Duncan knew they’d find nothing. There was nothing to see any longer, only to feel. He tightened his shields down hard, needing to know what had happened, but unwilling to let the full measure of Victor’s corruption swamp his senses. What he was feeling was horrific enough. He didn’t need to drown in it.
He climbed the stairs slowly, reluctantly, for all that he was determined to do it. At the top of the stairs, he turned unerringly to the right, the waves of pain and terror like the fingers of a ghost, tugging at his clothing, drawing him closer.
They passed the first room, and the second. Duncan paused, looking ahead. Every one of the rooms up here reeked of lust, of a hunger that would never be satisfied. But the worst of it, the true depths of depravity that had been perpetrated here . . . that had happened in the room at the end of the hall. The door was closed. Duncan wished it could stay that way.
His fangs emerged, sliding over his lower lip unbidden, as he stared at that closed door—as he stalked down the hall to that nightmare chamber. Next to him, Miguel gave him a startled glance, his own fangs appearing in response to Duncan’s obvious anger. Duncan almost staggered when it finally hit him, a red haze filling his vision. He opened the door and halted there, unwilling to cross the threshold. He heard the voices of men laughing, swearing, grunting in release. And he heard the terrified cries of women begging for mercy, screaming in agony.
He swallowed a furious howl, biting down so hard that his fangs sliced his lip. Blood dripped down to his chin, warm and thick. He licked it up without thinking, lost in the memory of what had been done here, of how far they’d gone to satisfy their perverted need to inflict pain on the helpless.
Duncan spun on his heel, unable to bear another moment within that agony-soaked room. It ran in invisible rivulets down the walls, rotting the boards, the carpets; everything it touched was fouled by what had happened there.
He strode back toward the staircase. He needed to get outside before the leftover emotions destroyed what was left of his shields. He shuddered at the thought of facing the searing pain of that house without even a shred of protection.
I can assure you, it only gets better from there. And now, on with the interview:
1. Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
My current contract is for eight books, and I just turned in number 6. So, first I have to write two more Vampires in America books. And then I’m in talks with my publisher for a continuation of that series. But I’m also working on a couple of new series ideas, one a paranormal romance, and the other an urban fantasy which I’m pretty excited about.
2. What has been the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
I received an email from a reader when I announced that Book 5 would be DUNCAN. She told me how much she loved the books, but what really touched me was what she said next. She said she’d had a terrible, sad day, having just returned home from her cousin’s funeral. And that when she’d read that Duncan’s story would be next, she was so happy that it brightened this otherwise very grim day. And I thought how lucky I was to have somehow crafted a world that could touch someone like that.
3. Do you have any advice for other writers?
My first piece of advice for anyone who wants to be a writer is always the same. You have to WRITE. All the time. You have to work at it. And then you have to let other people read and critique it. And I don’t mean your mom who still has your first poem hanging on the refrigerator. You need objective criticism from people who know the craft. Join a writing group—they’re everywhere, especially on the internet. And then you have to submit and risk rejection. It’s painful, but we’ve all been there, and rejection is part of the learning process. If you don’t discover what doesn’t work, you’ll never know what does.
4. What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine?
I’m a terrible night owl. I start work around midnight and write until about 5:00 in the morning. Every night. When I’m on deadline, I write 7 nights a week. When I can breathe a little, I try to cut down to 6 nights, but sometimes the muse is driving me almost as hard as a deadline would, and I end up doing 7 nights anyway.
5. Did you want to be a writer when you were at school/college?
I wanted to be a writer in high school, but by the time I got to college, I knew I had to be more practical. I always had it in the back of my head, though, that someday I’d have enough time, and then I’d go back to writing. And I did.
6. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I suppose it was when my first book was published and I held it in my hand. It’s a little foolish, since by that time I’d already written the first two books in the series, plus at least two other full-length novels, including an epic fantasy that was close to 200,000 words. But somehow, holding that first book in your hand is a turning point.
7. If you could work with any author who would it be?
I can’t name only one. There are so many authors I admire, so many I’d love to work with. But just to name a few, there’s Nalini Singh, Kresley Cole and Adrian Phoenix in Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy. And I’d love to write a mystery with John Sandford, or a romantic suspense with Linda Howard.
8. What is the last book you read?
I read a lot of books, so by the time you’re reading this, I’ll have read several more books. But as I write this, the last book I read was Linda Castillo’s Breaking Silence, which is the third in her Kate Burkholder suspense series. And I’m reading the fourth one, Gone Missing, now.
9. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
Don’t marry that idiot! (first husband) And … don’t get old.
10. What skills do you possess that would help you survive a zombie apocalypse?
Well, first of all I’m in good physical shape, excellent stamina and zombies don’t move very fast … or sideways, for that matter. Second, I’m quite pitiless. If flamethrowers are what works, then flamethrowers it is. They’re dead anyway. And finally, in order to get to my house, they’d have to climb a long twisty road. They’ll find much easier food at the bottom of the hill and lots of it!
11. What TV shows do you enjoy?
Not that many. I watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart pretty religiously. And Bill Maher on occasion. And lately I’ve got a thing for crime/cop shows. Criminal Minds is particularly good, and I enjoy The Closer (which is about to enter its final season.) And then there’s this new show, Longmire, which is very laid back. I like that, too. I watch True Blood, although lately, I don’t know why I bother. This season in particular is pretty dull. I watched Game of Thrones, although it’s frustrating when they dole out a complex story like that in 13 episode bursts. I’ve read the books, but, even so, I find myself wracking my brain sometimes trying to remember what’s going on and who the many players are. I don’t watch ANYTHING live. I DVR everything and watch it later. I’m totally addicted to the reverse and forward buttons. It’s reached the point that when I’m in a theater watching a movie, I find myself mentally reaching for the reverse button! It’s very irritating when it’s not there!! LOL
12. If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?
I guess I’d have to choose my own Cyn … so I could go to bed with Raphael every night/day. “Go to bed” being a euphemism in this case.
13. What’s your favourite Monty Python film/sketch?
There are so many! My husband and I quote them all the time! But I guess my favorite would be in Life of Brian when they’re sitting in the arena discussing the various and many political groups like the Palestinian People’s Resistance vs the People’s Resistance of Palestine. And someone asks “Whatever happened to them?” and Reg (John Cleese) points at this guy sitting alone and says, “He’s over there.” And they all yell “splitter!” And then they have this huge discussion about how Stan wants to be called Loretta. “But he hasn’t got a womb!” Cracks me up every time.
Next up in my list of incredibly talented people to have on my blog is Krista Walsh, author of The Serpent’s Kiss, a story in the Day of Demons anthology.
I think it’s an excellent book and Krista’s story is one of my favourites in it, but here’s a little more about the anthology.
Day of Demons is a collection of powerful stories featuring the conflict of demons and humans over the course of a day.
Read how one woman’s inner-self awakens to unexpected and frightening consequences, or how a charismatic half-breed thief is forced to strike a deal with a pen-stealing imp. Read about a mother as she struggles to cope with a deadly, satanic bargain, and a sword-wielding anti-hero as he returns out of exile to face his demonic fate.
Nine stories, nine demons, nine authors. From fantasy, to horror, to contemporary fiction, this anthology will fright, delight and grip you with tales of daring-do, danger and of course — demons.
Oh yeah, and it has an incredible cover.
Here’s a short excerpt from Krista’s story.
The Serpent’s Kiss
Becca stared blankly at the shimmering letters of the house warming invitation that danced on her computer screen. The cursor hovered uncertainly over the “Delete” button.
“Still haven’t made up your mind if you’re going to Seth’s party?” Natalie’s short curly-haired head popped over Becca’s shoulder.
“I don’t know,” she answered with a grimace, and wiped her hands over eyes weighed down with fatigue. The whispers had been bad again lately, preventing what would otherwise have been a good night’s sleep. She made a note to ask her doctor for a better sleep aid at her next appointment. And maybe she’d see about bumping up the appointment.
“Oh come on,” her friend urged, giving Becca’s shoulder a shove. It jostled her awake again. “It’ll probably be lame and boring and full of work people you don’t want to spend your days with let alone your evenings…but I’ll be there.” She ended with a white smile and Becca had to laugh. It was hard not to smile at Nat’s indefatigable cheerfulness. “And who knows,” she added, “Rob might be there, too.”
A smile touched on Becca’s lips and her eyes dropped to the keyboard.
And now, on with the interview:
1. Can you tell us a bit more about your book? Where did the idea come from? How long did it take to write?
I can’t take credit for the concept of the Day of Demons anthology – that belongs with Colin F Barnes – but it really is something worth checking out. It’s a collection of 9 dark fantasy stories: epic, contemporary, horror, steampunk, religious – basically any sub-genre of the sub-genre one might think of. My own contribution, “The Serpent’s Kiss”, stemmed from an idea I had for the monthly flash fiction contest at Devin O’Branagan’s forum (forum.devinwrites.com). . Unfortunately (at the time, but later it seemed pretty lucky), I wasn’t able to fit my whole concept into 1000 words, or make it geared towards the right age group, so I jumped at the chance to elaborate on it.
2. Do you have a favourite book or author? What are they?
It may be a cliché answer for an English major, but I’d have to say Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice in particular. Not only because of the sweet storyline, but I adore Austen’s humour. It’s so sly and satirical that no matter how many times I read it, I get something out of it. I’ll also say L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle. It’s probably one of most underrated additions to classic Canadiana, so I like to talk it up whenever I can. Sweet, funny, and relatable to anyone with a family. I grew up with these books and authors and without a doubt they’ve influenced my writing style.
3. Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Perhaps a better question is how do I keep them all straight. The answer? I haven’t figured that out yet. I have a novel in the querying process, another in the rough edit stages, an online serial that will be ending in a month’s time, and another short story anthology I’m involved with that should be revealed sometime in the fall. That doesn’t include the other ideas scrambling for priority in my head. So a very busy time, but a lot of fun, too!
4. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Absolutely. Always. Amazed I’m able to write anything at all. For me the problem is rarely that I have no ideas, but just that I’m not sure how to get them on paper. I have two ways to work around it. The first is to ignore myself and write anyway, but often the result is unpleasant and the writing isn’t fun. What I do more often is go back to the brainstorming phase. If my problem is the writing and not the ideas, then it’s really easy just to sit down and type, or sometimes voice record, plot points, character development, etc. It makes it really easy then to go back and use those ideas once the mood strikes me to narrate.
5. What’s your favourite genre to write in?
Hard to say just yet – I feel like I’m just getting started. So far though I seem to be leaning towards the fantasy side. World building isn’t really my strength, however, so contemporary or urban fantasy takes up most of my time. From there it’s kind of easy to remove the fantasy element, which is sort of what my online serial Greylands does. I honestly never saw myself writing dystopian fiction, but that idea took hold and I ran with it. So glad that I did, too; the quality of the work I’ve received has left me astounded!
6. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Getting up the courage to write it, I think. I was writing with a particular project in mind (one I knew was going forward and would be available for anyone to read), so it became a bit of a challenge to remember why I was writing in the first place. Which was, of course, to please myself. If you’re not writing for yourself, then where’s the enjoyment in it? As soon as you factor in readers/editors/critics and your brain starts going “Will they think this is stupid? Will they like this? Is the whole idea inane?” it’s hard to focus on the story. I had to stop a few times to get centred again on what my point was and what I was aiming for.
7. If you found a time machine, where would you go, and when? (What time period)
Easy-peasy. Early 19th century. Of course I’d bring the money I have now, so I could be wealthy in the early 19th century, but I wouldn’t hesitate. People who know me best often tell me I was born in the wrong era.
8. Wile E. Coyote or Road Runner?
Wile E. Coyote!!! I hated that damned bird. I always wished that just ONCE the coyote would win. Still hope it. Hmm…maybe it’s a good thing I’m a writer.
9. What’s your favourite Monty Python film/sketch?
The Killer Joke! Or the Dead Parrot….or The Spanish Inquisition…or the Argument Clinic. Never mind. Next question.
10. What is your favourite band?
This is a tough question. I have everything from Renaissance Dance music to Eminem to AFI on my mp3 player, so I guess it just depends on my mood and what sort of project I’m working on. Greylands has a more Massive Attack feel, whereas my novel Playing with Fire is more E.S. Posthumus and Florence and the Machine.
And that’s the end. I’d like to thank, Krista for taking part and for picking Wile E. Coyote, who is clearly the better character. I hope everyone fun reading it. And if you want to learn more about Krista, and why wouldn’t you? You can click on the links below.