Monday, April 25, 2011

Perennial Author Dayton Ward!

Star Trek: Typhon Pact #4: Paths of DisharmonyDayton Ward started writing professionally after entering a Star Trek writing contest for unpublished authors. He had stories selected for each of the first three annual contests, which along with the other winning entries were published in that year’s edition of the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthology. After he became the first contestant to disqualify him/herself from entering future contests, the editor called him up and asked him if he was interested in writing a Star Trek novel. The rest, as he likes to say, is a frappin’ mystery.

What have you learned that seemed completely unrelated to writing at the time but has influenced your writing career?
It’s going to sound simple and perhaps even a bit trite, but one skill which I already had developed thanks to my prior military and corporate careers and which has been of enormous help to me as a professional writer is time and task management. The ability to juggle multiple projects, each with its own deadline and master and set of issues or hurdles to overcome, is of prime importance if you’re looking to be a freelance writer. Often, you’ll be working on a handful of different assignments and a couple of them will have deadlines that are either relatively close together or even on top of one another. The ability to divide your time and energy so that each project gets the attention it deserves and you hit all your marks is what will distinguish the working professional from the rest of the pack. And in case you’re wondering, editors absolutely value this skill in the writers they hire.

A toy manufacturer has decided to make you their new superhero action figure. What is your superpower and what are you wearing?
Everybody always wants to fly, right? I’ll go with that. No more long lines at the airport! As for the outfit, if it has to be tights, I just want them to give me something that’ll showcase the six-pack abs I’m hoping they’ll mold onto my stomach.

Do you ever regret deciding to become a professional writer?
If I have any regrets about writing professionally, it’s that I haven’t yet found a way to earn a full-time living at it. My next major writing goal is to do exactly that, but I’m a realist. Most writers have some other source of income or support system, so I know it’s not an easy goal to reach. I could spend more time writing, but I prefer not to take that much more time away from my wife and kids, who already put up with me working the equivalent of two jobs, one of which—when you boil it down—is an ongoing passion project that happens to generate a bit of side income.

What is the best part of being a professional writer?
Are you kidding? I get to just make stuff up out of thin air, and people pay me for it! Wait. I suppose I could go into politics and get the same sort of rush, but that’s another subject. Anyway, I love telling stories, be it writing them or even just sitting around a table in a bar or a campfire, and getting reactions out of people. Writing just formalizes the process. In the case of my media tie-in writing, I get to play with characters I already love, and in some cases have loved since my childhood, and share the resulting stories with people who share that affection. And somebody gives me money to do that? Gravy; thick, brown, tasty gravy.

Give us a quick overview of what you write and where we can find it.
I write and co-write a lot of media tie-ins, mostly of the Star Trek variety. I also manage to get some original science fiction published here and there, along with being a regular contributor to Star Trek Magazine and as a guest blogger.

Some of my more recent publications include:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blooming Author Sean Hayden!

Sean Hayden's book Origins, Book 1 of the Demonkin Series, was published by Echelon Press, February 2011.

Tell us about your book. What is it about and where will it be available?
Ashlyn Thorn was born different. Born with all the characteristics of a vampire, she lives in a world where vampires, elves, and werewolves work, play, and die side by side with normal humans. But everyone knows vampires aren’t born, they’re made. The only thing she wants is to know her true origins.

Ashlyn’s quest to discover the truth of her differences is all that matters. But with every answer, she uncovers more uncertainties. To make things worse she has found herself an enemy of the most powerful vampires of the city who fear her powers are too dangerous to let go unchecked.

Salvation comes at the hands of the government, or does it, who trains her in the ways that best serve their purposes. Ashlyn is torn between two worlds. She can either be a monster, or she can help destroy the monsters.

That's the official description. Mine is, one seriously fun look at what life would be like if vampires, werewolves, demons, and just about everything else you could imagine worked, played, and died right beside everyday mortals.

Right now Origins is available as an eBook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Omnilit in just about every format you can imagine. I'm expecting a proof of the paperback version this week, so it might be on sale as early as next week! I'm a little excited.

What were your inspirations for your book? What sorts of thing inspire you as a writer in general?
I've always been fascinated by vampires. Of all the creatures of fantasy they have always had a special place in my heart. It's amazing how interests get passed down through the generations. My daughter (she's 9 going on thirty) is the same way. No matter what it is, if it's about vampires we'll go see, watch, or read it. (Yes, I've read the twilight series ~wanders off and crawls into the box of shame~) Well one thing that always bothered my daughter was why vampires are so different in every book, show, and movie. Why do some sparkle, some have fangs, some walk in sunlight, and some have severe allergic reactions to wooden stakes through their heart? Those differences provided some of the inspirations for Origins. I wanted to explain why vampires were so different.

As for what inspires me as a writer...That's easy. Everything. I suffer from an extremely overactive imagination. I can turn anything into a story. I actually wrote a five thousand word essay once on the sex life of a ping pong ball (not by choice. Got in trouble in school, long story, go figure!). Inspiration doesn't just hit you. You have to play the what if game. Look down at your coffee mug. There it's sitting on your desk all innocent like. You're never going to get inspiration from that. It's an inanimate object. Here's where the what if game comes into play. Now look at your coffee mug and think, "What if?" What if it weren't made out of ceramic like everyone thinks. What if it was made from the ground bones of innocent victims of a local serial killer who used a pottery shop to dispose of the bodies? Hmmmm? Now you know how to play the "what if" game. We meet on Tuesdays.

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 your book? Do you think it was the optimal writing environment for you?
I usually approach a story from behind. It can't see you that way and you have a better chance of catching it. "Outline" is a seven letter, four letter word. It's dirty. They frighten me. If somebody forced me to sit down and plot a book from soup to nuts before I wrote it, I would be forced to retaliate by doing bad things to their slippers. It's just not in me. I write as I go.

I have a laptop. What does that mean? It means I write wherever and whenever I can. I have a wife, two kids, 3 ducks, 2 bunnies, a dog, and fish. I also have a full time job as a fiberoptic engineer at a local cable company. I also am now Senior Editor for the publishing company that published my book. Writing is so dear to me, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night when things are quiet, just to get the stories out of my head.

Tell us about your "story of getting published."
The planet I came from was being torn asunder by violent earthquakes. Our sun was going supernova. My parents put me in a crystal ship...WAIT! Wrong story.

Oh, yes. I remember. I had just finished Origins. I had no idea what to do with it, so I did what everybody else does when faced with a situation they have no idea how to overcome, I googled it. "I wrote a book, what now?" I typed into the search bar. Miraculously I was inundated by adds and spam. That almost never happens. I pulled out my virtual machete and started hacking through the forest of information and found a few things called "Blog Posts." I giggled at the name. "They said blog," I said. I started diving into the real information on my screen. Step one: Find an agent. "Hmmmm," I said. "I can do that." And so began my quest for the elusive literary agent. Know what they didn't tell you in their "blog posts"? If you're an unpublished author, the odds of any literary agency even READING your novel, ya, Not So Good. I queried over 100 agents. Want to know how many read Origins? Zero, Zip, Zilch, nada, nein. squat.

Disenchanted on the whole literary agent dream, I did what any enterprising youth would do. No, I didn't self publish. I refused to give up. I started looking into the possibility of finding a publisher on my own. I didn't know anything about slush piles or the differences between independent publishers and big publishers. I didn't have a clue that big publishers won't look at your work unless you have an agent. Anyway, I lucked out. I found Echelon Press. They invited me to send in my work and voila. I have a novel in publication. And a short story. And another short story series. And I'm part of an anthology. Happy ending.

Origins (A Demonkin Novel)What are the publicity plans you have coming up?
Well, I plan on dating one of the Kardashian sisters. I plan on getting into a bar fight with Justin Bieber. I thought I would hang out with Charlie Sheen for a few weeks, and then go jewelry shopping with Lindsay Lohan. If that doesn't work, I'm going to give the whole book signing, blog tour, post some ads thing a shot.

I also have a contest going to generate some buzz about Origins. So far it's working great. I'm giving people the opportunity to be one of the main characters in the third Demonkin book. They get to be a vampire, werewolf, or anything they want. They can be the good guy or the bad guy, and as special thanks, they will be in the dedication of the book as well. It's all on the Demonkin website.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Perennial Author Shannon K. Butcher!

Shannon K. Butcher writes romantic suspense and paranormal romance. Her paranormal romance series is called the Sentinel Wars. Book 5 of the series, BLOOD HUNT, comes out in August 2011. The series is all about hot, tattooed, sword-wielding warriors and the magical women who make their lives interesting.

The first book of her new romantic suspense series, LIVING ON THE EDGE, came out in March 2011. It's not your typical serial killer story, but more on the action/adventure side of things. There's lots of mystery and intrigue to go along with a big, overarching storyline. It's similar in style to her first couple of suspenses (NO REGRETS, NO CONTROL) but with a larger cast of characters. The second book of the Edge series comes out in November 2011.

Shannon won the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for NO REGRETS and BURNING ALIVE. All of her books are currently in print, and can be found at your favorite book store.

What have you learned that seemed completely unrelated to writing at the time but has influenced your writing career?
My engineering career has been a huge help to my writing. All of the time and project management skills I learned, as well as organizing large amounts of information like what is created during world building, have really helped me stay on track.

A toy manufacturer has decided to make you their new superhero action figure. What is your superpower and what are you wearing?
I'd be the Magnificent Multitasking Lass. My cape is a calendar. In one hand I carry the spatula of infinite hamburger flipping to feed my hungry boys, and in the other I grip a magical jug of detergent that can clean clothes and surfaces at 100 yards. My tiara is imbedded with Bluetooth technology, allowing my mind to connect to my laptop, which is strapped to my chest, recording chapter after chapter of the next book. With a phone in one ear and a glitzy earring dangling from the other, I'm ready for whatever my nemesis, the Evil Schedule, throws at me.

Do you ever regret deciding to become a professional writer?
No. There are times when it's harder than others. There are times when it's harder than being an engineer, but it was a good decision. I get to make people happy with what I do, and that is a rare opportunity. The fact that I can do so in my jammies is just an added benefit.

What is the best part of being a professional writer?
The dress code is great--definitely makes up for the long hours. I love being at home with my husband and my dog. The flexible hours are nice, though sometimes I wish there weren't quite so many of them. :)

You can find Shannon on her website and on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Blooming Author Sonya Clark!

Sonya Clark's urban fantasy novel Mojo Queen will be published on May 2 by Lyrical Press.

Tell us about your book. What is it about and where will it be available?
Hoodoo and high magic are on a collision course.

Roxanne Mathis isn't like everyone else. Not only can she see auras and spectral entities, she can mix herbs and roots for spells to do good or ill. She can even light a candle without the benefit of a match. But when she’s hired to exorcise a demon from a young girl, she discovers the limits of her powers.

With her vampire cousin at her side and a sexy sorcerer chasing her on the rebound, Roxie sets out to send that evil entity back to where she came from.

Nothing is as it seems and Roxie’s in over her head. It’s not going to be enough for her to just be a paranormal investigator and old school root worker – to defeat this demon, she’s going to have to be the Mojo Queen.

Mojo Queen will be available from the publisher, Lyrical Press, as well as Amazon and other digital book retailers. It's a sexy urban fantasy with plenty of hoodoo and magic, a determined paranormal investigator, a slightly flaky vampire sidekick, and a dangerously tempting sorcerer.

What were your inspirations for your book? What sorts of thing inspire you as a writer in general?
The very first version of this story came from the question: why would someone choose to be possessed by a demonic entity? Since that question gave me a villain, next I had to figure out who my protagonist would be and I knew I didn't want her to be the typical urban fantasy heroine. No leather pants or tramp stamp, no kicking a**, none of the usual stuff. I wanted to create a character with different strengths to work with. Roxie sees auras and spectral entities and I knew magic would also feature heavily. That only got me half a book though, and it seemed to be missing something. To try to break the writer's block I wrote a short story about Roxie and her cousin working a case. Since it was partly just for fun, I gave Roxie my love of Mississippi blues. That led to her using a little hoodoo. My editor Nerine Dorman read the short story and basically said, ""how about more like this?"" Letting Roxie have that piece of myself helped me to connect with the story in a new way. I rewrote what I had and finished it, and Roxie turned out to be not only a paranormal investigator but a hoodoo root worker.

I tend to draw inspiration from different things. I've learned that if I don't know what kind of music a character listens to then I don't really have a handle on them. When I start figuring that out the music can have an influence on the character, everything from what they wear to their speech patterns to deeper things like their emotional tone. For instance Roxie's vampire cousin Daniel - who is actually her ancestor - has a fondness for classic country. It's easy to snicker about him singing old Conway Twitty songs at the top of his lungs, but the truth is there's plenty of darkness in a lot of those old country songs, all those cheating songs and murder ballads. It really helped cement what I wanted to do with him as a character. Daniel is an atypical vampire - how often is the vampire the sidekick? - but he is still a vampire.

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 your book? Do you think it was the optimal writing environment for you?
To be honest, my process is not always very organized. Usually I start with an idea and try to build an outline from it. Outlining doesn't work very well for me at first, I have to just dive in and get to know the characters and the story. Then I usually get stuck and wander around for awhile, trying to figure out how to get unstuck. This can last for days, weeks, months even. Then out of nowhere what I need to finish - whether it's plot points or whatever - will fall into my head and the writing will go much smoother. After I rewrite what I already had, that is. I've tried various methods of outlining but they do nothing for me until I know my characters. When I say ""know my characters"" I don't mean tally a bunch of stats about them - I have to write them. This is not a method I recommend, as it can make for slow writing. :)

My husband built me a desk and that's where I write. I'd have to say that's about as optimal as it gets. :) The clutter I've accumulated sometimes gets in the way, but occasionally the Magic 8 Ball is helpful.

Tell us about your "story of getting published."
I had a book that I've worked on for some time that was never finished and I finally trunked it in frustration. Then I wrote something radically different (though still paranormal) and wound up with a hundred thousand word novel. It was a mess though and also wound up trunked. After that I wrote an urban fantasy novella. This time I felt like I had a good story but didn't know what to do with it. I started researching places that accept novella-length work and discovered digital publishers. I decided to submit to one (Lyrical Press), figuring the worst that could happen is they reject me. In fact I was fully prepared for rejection, pretty zen about it, even. I was astounded when they accepted that first book, Bring On The Night. And then again when they accepted Mojo Queen. It's pretty amazing.

What are the publicity plans you have coming up?
I've got a few guest blog opportunities and always looking for more. I try to use social networks too and of course I'll be talking about Mojo Queen on my blog I might even work up the nerve to talk to someone at the local paper. Promotion is tough for introverted writers like me. I have to take inspiration from my character Roxie. She gets really scared dealing with scary demons and such, but she jumps right in and does it anyway. :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Perennial Author Christian A. Dumais, a.k.a. DRUNK HULK!

Christian A. Dumais, or Puff Chrissy as we know him on Twitter, is an incredible writer, humorist, and University lecturer. Writing Insight was lucky enough to track him down in Poland (via email) and interview him.

What have you learned that seemed completely unrelated to writing at the time but has influenced your writing career?
The best thing I can think of is how when I created Drunk Hulk, I was fully expecting it to be a small writing exercise I could use for distraction from my bigger projects. I had no idea how popular Drunk Hulk was going to become.

Most writers have that huge epic story in their head that will change everything. Or that great American novel that's going to make you so famous people will want to steal your eyeglasses. I've published stories I felt were mind-blowing and incredible, and I was convinced that I'd get a positive response from readers and agents alike. And while I've gotten some wonderful feedback, I've never gotten the response I imagined I would.

It's taken me a long time to realize that just because the idea clicks in your head doesn't mean it's going to click with everyone else. And the most important part of writing is the process of discovery of getting that idea out of your head and on the page. If you can focus on that part alone, and not predict, second-guess and worry about what happens later, then you'll find yourself a much happier writer at the end of the day.

And if that story does change everything and if you find out your glasses were stolen and are now being held for ransom, then you can consider all that a massive bonus.

The point is you can't predict what's going to connect with your audience. So try a little of everything and be ready adapt. So when readers respond to your ALL CAPS 140 character tweets over your 3,500 word short stories, consider hitting the CAPS LOCK key and seeing what happens next.

A toy manufacturer has decided to make you their new superhero action figure. What is your superpower and what are you wearing?
I'm assuming the toy manufacturer either close to bankruptcy and desperate for ideas or my parents have inexplicably been made in charge.

I suspect that my action figure would look suspiciously like Charlie Brown with a goatee. My superpower would be the ability to sunburn easily ("Hey, kids! Hold the Puff Chrissy Action Figure under the light and watch it turn red like a poor man's Zartan!"). Accessories include a laptop, a pair of Hulk hands, and a Starbucks Frappuccino.

Hey, not all superheroes can be winners!

Do you ever regret deciding to become a professional writer?
Well, I'm not a professional writer, to be honest. Hopefully one day I'll be able to find out if I'll regret becoming one. That said, as a university lecturer and teacher, I get to spend days talking about my favorite writers and stories with some amazing students. Even if I was making good money writing, I don't think I'd be able to stop teaching. It's just way too much fun.

What is the best part of being a professional writer?
I'm going to guess what it's like being a professional writer. ""Get into character,"" as they say in all the writer workshops. I imagine getting up early in the morning and clearing my workspace. This includes cleaning the cocaine off my desk and the bits of mushrooms stuck between the keys of my keyboard, asking the previous evening's ""goddesses"" to go home, and then meditating for an hour like Master Splinter did in the cartoons. Once that's out of the way, I go online to catch up on the news, answer my e-mails, and then call my attorney to discuss suing someone who spoke critically of my work. High on power and motivated by the cost of legal fees, I take off my pants, sit down at the desk and write while listening to the music of Super Mario Brothers 3. And that's when the magic happens...

At least that's how Joe Hill makes it sound like on Twitter.

Give us a quick overview of what you write and where we can find it.
Despite all my best efforts, most people only know my writing from Twitter's Drunk Hulk.

EMPTY ROOMS LONELY COUNTRIESMy first book, Empty Rooms Lonely Countries, collects a lot of my nonfiction short stories published between 1997 and 2005. If you know me only as the writer of Drunk Hulk, I think there's enough laughs and alcohol in this collection to keep you entertained.

Cover Stories: A Euphictional AnthologyLast year I contributed to and edited a collection of euphiction (fiction inspired by music) called Cover Stories. I'm extremely proud of this book. You'll not only find 10 short stories I did, but 90 other stories by 9 other fantastic writers. You get a lot of bang for your buck with this one. Also, Volume 2 will be out later this year.

Other than that, you can find my work in magazines like GUD, Shock Totem, Ha!Art and more.

Even though I'm working on a novel, I'm beginning to suspect I'm really a short story writer.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fresh Voice Marc Nash!

A, B & EWelcome to the latest edition of Fresh Voices. We are delighted to share with you the voice of Marc Nash!

What is your ultimate writing goal?
To leave a body of work that survives well beyond me to make a contribution to the pool of human art and knowledge.

Why do you write?
Because I believe I have something to say and a reasonably interesting way of saying it. It also helps me probe the wonders and the frustrations of the world.

Have you worked to achieve your voice or is it just a natural style for you?
I would like to think my voice doesn't matter nearly as much as that of the character in whatever book I'm writing. But I'm told I have a recognisable style, that marks a project as 'my' book, so I guess I do have a consistency of writing voice. It's both natural and comes out of my own continual pursuit of literary ideas and approaches.

Who are your favorite authors and why do you like them?
Kafka was such a mesmerisingly deceptive stylist. He leads you into nightmarish scenarios with such a lightness of touch. Camus was chock full of ideas about humanity. Jonathan Lethem is a master of literary language. Don Delillo is just the perfect writer. Jeanette Winterson writes wonderful poetic works of love. Neil Bartlett deals in desire like no other writer I have come across.

What most attracts you to the life of a writer?
The ability to think about, explore and deal in language 24-7, without having to worry about numbers as I currently do in my day job. I like jousting with words, trying to nail those slippery characters down on the page.

If you couldn't be a writer but knew you were guaranteed success at a different career, what would you choose?
Musician or abstract painter. Something that still gave life to the mind.

If you had to describe your writing in one word, what would that word be?

What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
Trust your own instincts.

After writing some dodgy lyrics for teenage bands that never got off the ground, Marc first started writing stage plays at College. With the arrival of his twin boys and parenting, he stopped hanging around theatres and turned his hand to novels. He self-published his debut novel "A,B&E" in October 2009 and contributed adult experimental pieces of fiction to Year Zero Writers, Eight Cuts Gallery, Exclusive Literary Magazine as well as producing regular flash fiction on his own blog. More information about his novel can be found on this website. He has contributed 2 short stories to the "Pop Fiction" Anthology - Stories Inspired by Songs. For all Marc's literary struggles, nothing causes him more sleepless nights than managing his twin boys' junior soccer team. Marc lives and works in London.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blooming Author Lindsay Buroker!

Lindsay Buroker's Goblin Brothers Adventures Vol. 1 was self-published, Dec 2010.

Tell us about your book. What is it about and where will it be available?
This collection of short stories features a pair of adventurous goblins, Malagach and Gortok, who want nothing more than to be heroes. Well, Gortok also wants new tools, a bag of honey-crunch spider legs, and a tour of a working steam engine. But being a hero would be good too!

For now, the stories are available as an ebook, which you can find online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords (Smashwords is a big indie ebook outlet, and they have formats for every ebook reader out there, so Ipad, Sony, Kobo, etc. folks can download the stories too). If there's interest, I'll look into making a print copy available, but you won't be able to beat the $0.99 price tag for the ebook!

What were your inspirations for your book? What sorts of thing inspire you as a writer in general?
The Shrek movies were a big inspiration for these characters. I wanted to tell a fun story with atypical heroes that young readers would enjoy. At the same time, I wanted some humor for older readers (also known as grownups), so I poke a little fun at the Dungeons & Dragons/Tolkien-inspired fantasy I grew up reading (much the way Shrek pokes fun at fairy tales).

As for what inspires me as a writer in general, I just love the characters that populate my mind (more people than you'd think there'd be room for in there), and I want to share their words and adventures with others.

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 your book? Do you think it was the optimal writing environment for you?
Outlines? Hm, I remember doing these in school....

I believe I'm called a seat-of-the-pants writer (AKA a pantser). I get an idea, mull it over a bit, figure out the ending, then get started.

If I know how the story ends, I'll find a road to get there. I've learned, thanks to a lot of half-finished projects, not to start things when I don't know how they'll end.

As for where I write, anywhere. Laptop at the coffee shop or with pen and paper in front of the TV. I'm not fussy.

I usually plot things in my head while I'm at the gym or walking the dogs, and that way I have a good idea of what happens next when I sit down to write.

Tell us about your "story of getting published."
Well, since I decided to publish myself, there's not much of a story here. I've watched some writer buddies make it (insofar as getting an agent and a publisher), and I'm very excited for them, but I'm not sure I have the patience for the process.

For me, it was about a month from thinking, "Hey, it's time to try e-publishing!" to "Cool, my ebook is up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble." That included editing, cover design, and formatting (otherwise I could have had it up over night!).

I figure, if the Goblin Brothers stories do well (I'm planning a whole series of novels with these characters), I can approach an agent later.

What are the publicity plans you have coming up?
I'm busy turning more novels and stories into ebooks and finishing up the first Goblin Brothers novel, so I'm just planning to do a little bit here and there when it comes to marketing.

My main goal is to get links back to my two sites, so I'll try to find some guest blogging gigs and publish some articles around the web (not to mention hitting up those kindly folks who are willing to interview authors and let them promote their work *smile*).

You can follow my progress on my website. And you can read some of the Goblin Brothers stories for free on the Goblin Brothers website.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Perennial Author Elizabeth Rolls!

Lord Braybrook's Penniless BrideElizabeth Rolls is an historical romance author who has won the HOLT Medallion twice, and the Laurel Wreath as well as CataRomance's Best Harlequin Historical for 2007, been nominated twice for Romance Writers of Australia's Romantic Book of the Year Award, the Romantic Novelists' Association Romance Award, and an RT Reviewers' Choice Award. The major thrill last year was the RITA nomination for Lord Braybrook's Penniless Bride. If you are at all a reader of historical romance you should definitely check out Elizabeth's stories. She took a few moments from her busy schedule to tell us about her work.

What have you learned that seemed completely unrelated to writing at the time but has influenced your writing career?
I studied music at university, and while I was writing my first term paper on 16th century vocal music, I made the earth shattering discovery (sarcasm fully intentional) that what drove the music on was dissonance, or discords, which were then resolved. Simple really. Dissonance equals tension, or conflict. So create tension, then resolve it. Of course you have learn where to place the tension and what to use as tension, but the principal is very much the same for writing a story. You need those builds of tension and resolution threaded through the music or story, with the final resolution leading to the final cadence, or in the case of a romance the HEA. Oddly enough, much later when I was studying for my Masters in Musicology, I found a book comparing the works of Mozart to the novels of Jane Austen in much the same way!

A toy manufacturer has decided to make you their new superhero action figure. What is your superpower and what are you wearing?
Dead right I'm a superhero/ine. What working mum isn't? And let's face it, all mums are working mums, whether they work outside the home or not. My superpower would be to get my kids to endless soccer training sessions on time and still have a meal on the table when we all get home. I'm keeping very quiet the fact that for one of those sessions I have a standing arrangement with another soccer mum to sneak off for coffee, pizza and talk about what books we've been reading! No one seems to have noticed that I rarely eat dinner on Wednesday nights ...

As for what I'm wearing ... I think I have a Team Steward's vest on (fluorescent green) and I'm clutching a container of orange quarters for half time and an umbrella.

The Dutiful Rake (Harlequin Historical)Do you ever regret deciding to become a professional writer?
I never regret it, but there are times when I'm stuck that even the housework looks tempting. Times like that I go and work somewhere else. Working at home can be difficult because there are so many things to distract you. The phone, email, housework, making a pot of tea. So when I need to refocus I go out and work in the local library, or even a cafe. There's a great cafe across the road from the local laundromat and if it's too rainy to get the clothes dry I go there and work while the clothes look after themselves. I try not to do it too often because we have dogs as well as a baby magpie who still needs feeding, but every so often it helps to put me back on track.

What is the best part of being a professional writer?
Getting that box of author copies in the post and thinking, "Wow. This is real. I made it." Getting a revision letter from my editor that focuses my thinking and helps me bring the best I can out of a story. I actually love revision letters because they make me think and inspire me. And hearing my kids say casually, "Yeah, Mum works. She's an author."

A Scandalous LiaisonGive us a quick overview of what you write and where we can find it.
I write Regency Historicals for Harlequin. The best place to find my back list is either at eHarlequin, or Amazon.

My most recent release was the Historical Undone, A Scandalous Liaison, released as an ebook last year and now available in the anthology Delectably Undone. Also I have another short ebook coming out next month called A Princely Dilemma. This is a Royal Wedding special in honour of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Several of us have written stories celebrating royal marriages through the ages.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Feature: Immortal by Gene Doucette

ImmortalThird stop on the 2011 Immortal Blog Tour.

If you've been a reader of Writing Insight for awhile then Gene Doucette is a familiar face. He was featured as a Blooming Author back in July 2010 before Immortal was published. We're excited to report that a lot has happened since then. This article is an attempt to give you a "best of" on the press for Immortal prior to this April blog tour so that you are set up to really enjoy getting to know Gene and his book - and be as excited as we are to hear that Immortal will have a sequel coming out soon!

Something that many find hard is trying to pigeonhole Immortal into a particular genre. In Spencer Seidel's review he says, "Technically, I suppose the “correct” genre is speculative fiction, but I’m still not sure how I feel about that genre. Like the thriller genre, it’s probably too vague to be meaningful. So forget the genre. Here’s a description I like: Immortal is like Men in Black meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Odd Thomas. Yes, really." Gene also likes to quote Jonathan Vos Post, "A sui generis Urban Fantasy/Historical/Crime crossover novel, in which pixies, demons, dragons, and vampires are real though few humans know that... Narrated by a wisecracking immortal that's worldly, noir, skeptical without bleak cynicism, and open to surprises; he's half Gilgamesh and half Raymond Chandler. I couldn't put it down!" Lori Hettler at The Next Best Book Club tried to sum it up with "Part science fiction fantasy, part action adventure and thriller, Gene Doucette creates the perfect balance of humor and edge-of-your-seat anticipation in this genre-defying story of an immortal man named Adam..." Now that we've talked about how to describe it (or how we can't describe it), how have readers been responding?

The first blogger review of Immortal was in August 2010 when The Next Best Book Club gave the book 5 out of 5 stars. "Witty sarcasm, quick quips, and an uncanny knack to self-preserve at all costs, our leading man quickly endears himself to you... Along the way we meet tricky iffrits, whimsical pixies, sexy vampires, and armored dragons as Adam finds himself on the run on more than one occasion, forced to battle demons and bounty hunters, while trying to uncover who is coming after him... A rapid fire, unrelenting wild rumpus of a ride - Immortal earned it's spot as the Next Best Book."

Wow! Who could ask for a better book review? Does it make you curious what Adam looks like? Rachael at Enchanted by Books was curious about that in July 2010 when she interviewed Gene, asking, "Who would you have play Adam the Immortal in a movie?" Gene responded, "Hah! That’s a tough question. Adam looks thirty-two, so it would have to be an actor that could play that age. Both Robert Downey Junior and Johnny Depp project the kind of intelligence the role would need, but I don’t think either of them can pull off thirty-two any more. Jeffrey Donovan from Burn Notice could probably do it." That would be an excellent casting choice.

BURN NOTICE 24X36 POSTER PRINT JEFFREY DONOVAN PORTRAITI gave Immortal 5 out of 5 stars in my September 2010 review on my personal blog. I fell in love with the storytelling, the writing, and most especially Adam's voice. One of my favorite quotes from the first chapter is, "I was suicidal for two solid centuries once. That was during the early part of what they now call the Dark Ages, in medieval Europe. Suicidal tendencies were de rigueur at the time, and I’m nothing if not trendy." I closed with, "If there is a God, which is something that main character Adam sincerely doubts, then Mr. Doucette will write a series and get a TV show." PennyAsh from Night Owl Paranormal (who gave the book 4.75 out of 5 stars) made a similar statement, "...this book would make a great TV series. I know I'd watch every week." So someone call Jeffrey Donovan, we have his next project.

Tracy Riva of The Pigeon Post gave us some insight into how Adam's immortality plays into the way the story is told. "Immortal, generally speaking moves clearly and easily between the present, the past and the distant past. Recollections are vivid and seem as though they could in fact be the recounting actual historical events. The character has lived through some interesting times and events and his retelling of these stories, via memories, is lively and interesting." Topher gives us a little more in his review on It Was Uphill Both Ways, "The jumps in periods of time worked for me, which is saying a lot because it rarely does. It's especially fitting for this novel, since bits of Adam's long history begin to pop up in his current situation, and a lot of the flashbacks really explain how he's gotten to be where he is, why he reacts the way he does. I don't want to give away anything, but the novel is fast-paced and is much like a thriller or suspense."

Meghan Morrow contemplated Immortal in her review on the Writers News Weekly, musing, "Apart from his immortality, Doucette has created a relatable character for anyone who can’t seem to find their right path. While Adam has taken every possible route a person can come up with, he is still no closer to finding what he desires." It is an interesting mental exercise to wonder if we would be any more satisfied even with thousands of years on hand. Gene and Adam make a good point - probably not.

Jennifer at The Literary Soundtrack talked to Gene about his musical preferences and what he listens to when he writes. Then she asked the character Adam HIS opinions on music. "My introduction to new musical sounds is always greeted with the following declaration: "Oh [current god]! What is that horrible noise!" It doesn't matter how lovely that music ends up being, to my ears, later: new rhythms, innovations, and instruments are always discordant and jarring the first time around. Understand, though, that the first thing I ever heard that I could call music was rhythmic drum beating, and that was perfectly good for a very long time, up until someone came up with a crude woodwind and complicated the hell out of everything."

Annikka Woods reviewed Immortal on Books in the Woods and also interviewed Adam on Writing in the Woods. Her review was 5 of 5 stars with the note "Holy crap, this is awesome and amazing!" In her interview of Adam she queries, "How have you coped with living for so long? Aside from drinking, I mean." Adam responds, "I don't know that it's something requiring an extra coping mechanism. Staying alive is sort of an instinctual thing, and in more ways than you might realize it's also a largely passive thing. Suicide-- and I've thought about it-- requires action, whereas continuing to exist generally doesn't. So in a lot of ways all I've done is decide not to get up off the couch."

Mary DeBerry interviewed Gene for Yahoo! Associated Content titling her article "New Novel Immortal Explores Vampires, Pixies, History, and a Man Who Lives Forever, Author Doucette Combines Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Comedy and Drama into One New Novel." She elicited some excellent writing advice from him, "the best advice I think I can give is to remember you're there to tell an entertaining story. That may sound simplistic, but I talk to a lot of writers, and believe me, this point can get lost." Mary's review of the book illustrates that Gene follows his own advice, "Although history is an important element in the story, Doucette does not fall victim to trying to cram every major event into one novel. Adam, the story's protagonist, sprinkles his wry observations of history here and there as appropriate."

And Lorna Suzuki's interview with Gene on All Kinds of Writing had some of the best news of all for fans. "The Immortal sequel is already written. It’s called Hellenic Immortal, and I’m sure you will see it in the next five years. The research I described [before] is so that I can start working on the third Immortal book." That's so exciting!

If you haven't read Immortal yet we recommend you order it now. If you have already read it we hope that you want to read it all over again (like I do). Not sold yet? Go check out the rest of the blog tour.