Friday, July 30, 2010

Fresh Voice: Alyson Peterson!

"we do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit." - E.E. Cummings

Welcome to the latest edition of Fresh Voices. We are delighted to share with you the voice of Alyson Peterson!

What is your ultimate writing goal? 
I want to write books as a profession. I don't plan on writing only one book or only publishing one book. I am a VERY prolific writer and I want to publish as much as I can until all the ideas in my head run silent.

Why do you write?
First and foremost, I love to tell a good story. I love to make people laugh, gasp, cry... you name it. It's the light in their eyes when they get my story and are sucked into wanting to hear more about it. Very addicting. I don't know about anyone else, but when I have a free moment that doesn't require actual reality thought, my brain is cranking out a story. It fills the blank spaces waiting for doctors appointments, decreases road trip boredom, and makes me laugh in the shower. I have always had characters talking up there. It makes for a fascinating head space. At times when my head gets too full, those character's stories have to come out. The happiest moments are realizing that what I see behind my eyelids is popping off the paper in incredible vibrancy. Sheer joy right there!

Your writing is filled with energy. Have you worked to achieve that voice or is it just a natural style for you?
I do have voice in my writing and I have been told it is a strong voice. I am a passive person with a whole load of opinions I don't ever speak out loud. When I write, I hide behind my characters and all my spunk and fire comes spilling out on the page through them. It didn't come naturally at first. I was still too scared to let myself come out in my first full length novel. It was a horribly written book. By the time I got to the second book, which I started on a very bad day, I was ready to break free. The change in voice, pace, and energy was liberating! Now, five books later, my voice spills out before I can stop it.

Who are your favorite authors and why do you like them?
Oh no... this question is opening a can of worms! I think JK Rowling is utter genius. She has voice, style, and talent. Swoon! I read her books for different reasons, but when I need a vocabulary recharge, she is perfect. I also love the classics. Charlotte Bronte was my first venture into the classics. Jane Eyre swept me up and carried me to places I never thought possible. It was beautiful and raw. Soon after, I was embroiled in Jane Austin, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Charles Dickens (LOADS of Dickens). However, when I need a good laugh, I read James Herriot. My sister made the great mistake of reading All Creatures Great and Small to me while I was sick. I have never been the same since.

What most attracts you to the life of a writer?
Freedom. I can take my laptop anywhere (and I do take it everywhere) or a paper and pen and just let words flow. If I could find a job that gave me that much creative freedom I would be a workaholic... oh wait, I already am. I write in bed, on airplanes, on my sunny back porch, half wet straight out of the shower because an idea was just THAT good. Pretty much anywhere that allows for five minutes to jot something down. Life doesn't get much better than that!

If you couldn't be a writer but knew you were guaranteed success at a different career, what would you choose?
Ah, that's a toughy. I can do other things very well. I have a degree in fine art and I paint every spare moment I am not writing. I think that if I could overcome my debilitating stage fright, I would love to be a world class piano performer. Currently, only my dogs are allowed to listen to me play. Anything beyond them is too nerve wracking and I freeze like I just had massive head trauma.

If you had to describe your writing in one word, what would that word be?
Tongue in cheek. I know that is not one word, but it's the best I've got.

What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
I interviewed Ayesha Pande on my blog last week. Her parting shot to my final question was: "If you have talent, someone will recognize it. So practice your craft diligently and relentlessly and don't let rejections get you down."

Ms. Pande made my day!

Alyson Peterson is a scant five foot tall woman, but makes up for her vertical challenges with spunk and fire. She is married with two boys ages six and eight who keep her on her toes. She mainly writes Urban Fantasy for adults, but is now working on a bit of Young Adult Contemporary Fiction about two girls who are pen pals and their struggles to survive middle school, co-written with Michele Shaw. Posts of those chapters will come at a later date. For an example of her writing style and a chapter out of the current book she is pitching, SOUR GRAPES  For all other reads both humorous and strange, visit her blog Crazy Writer Girl, or check her out on Twitter at CrzyWriterGrl.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blooming Author: Gene Doucette!

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” ~ George Sheehan

Gene Doucette's contemporary fantasy book, Immortal, will be available from Hamel Integrity Publishing in October, 2010.

Tell us about Immortal. What is it about and where will it be available?

I was going to say that Immortal is about the life of the book’s narrator, Adam, an immortal man. But that sounds terribly boring, doesn’t it? He’s sixty thousand years old, and that’s a lot of ground to cover, and he’d be the first to tell you that vast stretches of history are incredibly boring.

The story takes place largely in the present, with some relevant highlights from Adam’s history. He’s in a bit of danger, and lessons learned become pertinent in his being able to figure his way out of that danger. And if that still sounds boring, let me add that Adam is much funnier than I am. I should probably have him doing this interview, actually.

As to the when and the where, the publication date is 10/1/10, a wonderfully binary date. We’re having a soft rollout of sorts: it should be available on Amazon right away, hitting brick-and-mortar stores gradually after that.

What were your inspirations for Immortal? What sorts of thing inspire you as a writer in general?

I started this novel in 2004, after some years as a humor columnist and satirist. I wanted to work on a new novel, but everything I started ended up stillborn fairly quickly. One day it occurred to me that since most of what I’d written for the past several years had been in first person, it made sense to try a novel in that voice. That’s how Adam came into being.

What inspires me is a difficult question to answer. I was inspired to write this novel because I wanted to write a novel, and I don’t think my motivations were any more complicated than that. But at the same time I was working on it I was also reading a great deal of history and writing and reading articles on skepticism, so what came out was a modern man who is also, at heart, a caveman and a very non-spiritual realist. What also came out was a story that didn’t involve any magic. When I decided to include vampires and what-not, that last point got kind of interesting.

Let's talk about your process. How do you approach a story, do you start with outlines or something else? Where did you work when writing this book? Do you think it was the optimal writing environment for you?

I tell people on my blog to for God’s sake not write like I do.With Immortal I started the first draft knowing only that my narrator was an immortal man and that the first sentence was going to be “It all started when I woke up behind the futon.” I made up the plot—and much of Adam’s character and history—while I was writing it. Three or four months later I had 95,000 words down and a decent first draft.

I have a full time job and a family—the kids were just starting the teenage years when I began writing Immortal—so there was never a lot of free time to be had. I tend to be a binge writer as a consequence: I’ll go for days and weeks and sometimes months without writing anything new, and then dump out a lot all at once. I’m at the point now where, with the kids old enough to kill their own food, I have more time to write and yet I still do it in bunches.

I honestly have no idea what the optimal writing environment is for me. There were a couple of occasions when I had the opportunity to get away and spend a few days by myself at a vacation house my family has on Cape Cod, but the last time I did that was… well, a long time ago. I guess I’d call that optimal, but I don’t know any more.

Tell us about your "story of getting published." How long did you submit before you were accepted? How did it feel to get accepted?

The process of getting the book published was perfectly horrific. (I covered a lot of it on my website in “On Agents” and “On Publishing”.) Since Immortal is a bit quirky, it’s not obvious where it fits on the genre bookshelf: a fantasy with no magic; a sci-fi but with vampires and demons; an historical fiction with an immortal thrust in the middle; or a contemporary fantasy without a romance story. No matter what genre you want to call it, it’s not going to stay in any one box. Publishers—the large market ones—hate that.

The damnable thing about the whole process of trying to sell it was that without fail the notes I got back were full of praise. Everyone who read it began with how entertaining it was and ended with “but we can’t publish it.” In a lot of ways the industry is more concerned with how to sell something than with how good a read it is.

What are the publicity plans you have coming up?

Publicity is another thing we’re going to be ramping up gradually. Since Hamel Integrity Publishing is brand new there are a lot of steps that need to be taken and will be taken but have not yet been gotten to: websites, online promotions, radio tours, etc. In the meantime I’m hoping to “tour” as many blogs as I can—the Twitter community has been wonderful for this—and I’m working on securing as many pre-publication blurbs and reviews as possible. After that, we’ll see what we can do. Hopefully a book tour is in our future.

Follow Gene on Twitter: @genedoucette
Follow Adam on Twitter: @adamtheimmortal

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blooming Author: Kiersten White!

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” ~ George Sheehan

Kiersten White is a YA writer whose book, Paranormalcy, will be available from HarperTeen in August, 2010.

Tell us about Paranormalcy. What is it about and where will it be available?

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

Paranormalcy will be available in all major bookstores and on Amazon!

What were your inspirations for Paranormalcy? What sorts of thing inspire you as a writer in general?

I was mostly inspired by ideas of supernatural creatures and a desire to both take them back to more original mythology and also kind of play with the pop culture ideas of them. Everything spun out from there.

I'm always inspired by dramatic landscapes--I took a trip to Romania this summer and now I have a whole book in my head set there! I also like music that inspires a lot of emotion, and I like researching mythology. There's so much there that can spur ideas.

Let's talk about your process. How do you approach a story, do you start with outlines or something else? Where did you work when writing Paranormalcy? Do you think it
was the optimal writing environment for you?

I'm a stay-at-home mom to two young children, so I write wherever and whenever I can! I started writing Paranormalcy sitting on my bed while my son napped and my daughter played, and most of it was written there or on the couch. I can't be picky about my working environment or I'd never get anything done!

I very rarely outline. I start a story in full voice, let it churn in my mind, and then go from there. I will take notes on what needs to happen overall and in the next chapter, but I never do full outlines. I find that if I take away my characters' ability to surprise me, I lose interest in the story or force it to go in a way that isn't the best course.

Tell us about your "story of getting published." How long did you submit before you were accepted? How did it feel to get accepted?

I queried off and on for a year with a disastrously boring middle grade project before writing my first YA novel. I sent out forty-five letters for that one before finding my fabulous agent, Michelle Wolfson. She sent that book out on submission in January of 2009, which was when I wrote Paranormalcy. When the other book didn't sell, I went back and edited Paranormalcy. We sent that out at the end of July and it sold in a pre-empt mid-August.

It was certainly a roller coaster! After the very disappointing experience of waiting month after month only to get more rejections on my first book, getting offers so quickly on Paranormalcy was surreal. When Michelle called with the pre-empt from my dream house, I sank to the floor and just laughed. It still feels unreal most days!

What are the publicity plans you have coming up?

I'm going to do a few big contests on my blog--one going right now--as well as signings in several different cities when the book comes out. Currently all I have set is Oceanside, California, and Salt Lake City, Utah, but I'll keep everyone posted! I've thought about a few other promotional things, but I'm not really sure what's worth it when you weigh the effectiveness versus the time/cost. It seems to me it'd be very easy to go overboard on a lot of little things that won't reach very many people. Regardless, I'll keep up my blogging and presence on Twitter and figure out what else to do!

You can also find Kiersten online at

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blooming Author: Kristie Cook!

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to
become the person you believe you were meant to be.” ~ George Sheehan

Kristie Cook is a contemporary fantasy writer whose book Promise will be available July, 2010.

Tell us about Promise. What is it about and where will it be available?
Promise is about two souls that must overcome their internal demons and unite because their union is part of the Angels’ preparation for spiritual warfare to enter our physical realm. The demons plan to bring the battle to the humans and the Angels are preparing their own army. This book is a prologue to the rest of the series – the beginnings of the soul-binding relationship between Alexis and Tristan. Here’s the “official” blurb:
Alexis Ames has a life full of promise…but not all promises can be kept.

When Alexis Ames is attacked by creatures that can’t be real, she decides it’s time she learns who she really is, with or without the help of her mother, who guards their family’s secrets closely. After meeting the inhumanly attractive, multi-talented Tristan Knight, however, Alexis retreats behind her façade of normalcy…until she discovers he’s not exactly normal either. Then their secrets begin to unravel.

Their union brings hope and promise to her family’s secret society, the Angels’ army, and to the future of mankind. But it also incites a dangerous pursuit by the enemy – Satan’s minions and Tristan’s creators. After all, Alexis and Tristan are a match made in Heaven and in Hell.

Promise is the first novel of a series that explores the ideas of how damaged a soul can be before it can no longer be saved and how far we will go to protect the souls we love and those we do not. This first book introduces Alexis and Tristan and their trials and tribulations to unite. Their union is the Angels’ first step as they prepare for the war for human souls to enter the physical realm.
We are currently taking orders at Anyone who orders by July 9 will have their book signed and delivered by July 30, the official release date. The book will be available on that week, then other online and offline retailers sometime in August. It will also be available on Kindle, iPad and other e-readers.

What were your inspirations for Promise? 
I had been thinking of angels and demons for many years, but didn’t have a story to go with the concept until a couple of years ago. J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyers inspired me in two totally different ways (one was, I wish I could be that good; the other was, Well, I think I can be at least that good). I had also been playing World of Warcraft with my kids at the time and drew some inspiration from that world, as well as from J.R.R. Tolkien’s world.

What sorts of thing inspire you as a writer in general? 
Music, real-life conversations and events, the what-if game, other awesome and not-so-awesome-but-could-be stories…I try to find inspiration in everything. Sometimes in real life, especially if I’m bored or completely out of my element, I’ll wonder how my characters would be in that situation and that can get the creative juices flowing…and make the reality of it at least more bearable for me while I’m there. LOL

Let's talk about your process. How do you approach a story, do you start with outlines or something else? 
I started with a couple of character ideas and a life-changing scene. The whole series blossomed from that. I know the ending climactic scene for the whole series and important happenings that must take place to get there, but no more than that (so I’m not positive how many books there will be). I’m the same way with the book I happen to be working on at any given time. I know the key parts that must happen, but I let the characters take me there. Sometimes they take me to much better places, though, and that’s the fun of writing to me. I’ve learned that if I outline something, I have no interest in writing it. I already know everything that’s going to happen. I like the twists and turns, just like when reading. In fact, I set out to write a book that I really want to read but no one has written yet. That’s why I’ve always enjoyed writing, since I was a kid.

Where did you work when writing Promise? 
Pretty much at my desk, which is in my bedroom. I have a laptop, but I usually have so many peripherals plugged into it, it’s a pain to move around. But sometimes I’ll go out on the lanai and write by the pool.

Do you think it was the optimal writing environment for you?
Yes and no. I definitely need to be able to shut the door and we have a big box fan that I run just to drown out the household noise. I listen to music to prepare for writing, but it distracts me when I’m actually working, so headphones don’t work. I would really like to get out of my bedroom, though. It’s too easy to get all-consumed and I really need more exercise than the three feet between the bed and the desk. LOL My oldest son graduates high school next year. Little does he know how much I’m coveting his bedroom. Bwahahaha.

Tell us about your "story of getting published." 
First of all, my first two books, Promise and Purpose, were originally one book and that’s how I started my journey to publication. I queried thirty-something agents with it. I received many rejections and some requests for partials, which ended in rejections (though two didn’t come until I made the following decisions…). I realized two things in this process: 1) I was having a hard time hooking people because I had too much going on in my book to focus on one main plot line. I decided to split it into two. And 2) I was told that it wasn’t marketable. No reason why, but I assume a lot of it had to do with my MC being 18 in the beginning and supposedly no one wants to read about college-aged MCs. I, um, don’t like being told I can’t do something that I truly believe can be done. I’m also impatient (which doesn’t work well with the years-long publishing process) and a control freak. I have another business (I’m actually a serial entrepreneur) and had already tossed around the idea of starting a publishing company with my business partner, who was my first reader and has been my biggest cheerleader. She didn’t like to be told my story wasn’t marketable either because she had already been doing an awesome sales job to everyone she knows. People were always asking when my book was coming out because they were so excited to read it. So, in February, we decided to publish this ourselves and we started our own company, Ang’dora Productions. And nobody has to wait two years to see Promise on the shelves. I never even tried querying Promise as its own book. Traditional publishing just isn’t for me. Did I mention I’m an impatient control-freak? Of course, it helps to have a marketing background and an incredible support team.

What are the publicity plans you have coming up?
We’re holding a Virtual Release Party July 24-30 on my blog (, Facebook and Goodreads pages, that will include a virtual tour with interviews, guest blog posts, reviews and a scavenger hunt with lots of prizes. There are also a couple newspapers publishing articles and I’m working on a trailer right now. We’re having a big release party and signing with family, friends and supporters on July 30, which is when I’ll be truly celebrating (with lots of champagne and other yummy imbibing). There will be more going on after the release date, and then we get to start all over with Purpose’s release in the fall. The best way for people to stay updated is on my blog.

Besides her blog, you can find Kristie on Twitter (@kristiecookauth) and Facebook.