Friday, February 22, 2013

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, YO

Yesterday a friend came over and we ate awesome baked barbeque chicken and from-scratch red beans and rice, and some not-so-great (very stemmy) sauteed baby kale. Then, after my child went to bed, we almost got caught up on Lost Girl. (KENZIE!!!)

So there we were, sitting in the dark, watching spooky supernatural things pop out of the woodwork. As I turned in the recliner, I felt it bump against something. So I turned around, to find a tiny, misshapen humanoid thing standing silently behind me, staring at me. I screamed, my friend screamed, and then my son giggled.

He had - forty minutes after being put to bed downstairs - crept up and knelt behind me, waiting for me to notice him. An hour later I had to walk my friend to her car because she was still so creeped out.

It's possible that small, silent children have become too prevalent in horror movies. Of course, for one heart-pounding moment last night, they were also too prevalent in my home.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Q&A WITH AIMEE LAINE



Aimee Laine and I, like so many writers, first met online. I don't recall when or where exactly. Probably on Twitter, likely through a mutual acquaintance. Our first publications occurred around the same time, in early 2012, and I came to recognize certain parallels between the two of us. Between the full time jobs and round-the-clock families, we're both marching down the road of publishing.

You aren’t just a writer, but also a photographer. How do the two mediums compliment or complicate each other?

One kinda led to the other. You see, I started with photography, seeing and visualizing images, searching for and pulling out the emotion in a face. That allowed me to understand the nuance in expression – when is a smile real vs. fake. And when I sat down to write my first novel, tada! I understood just how important those little details were. So for me, it’s a definite compliment.

You also – another duality here – write adult fiction as Aimee Laine and young adult books as Emi Gayle. Is that a struggle, switching back and forth between those voices, or is the variety refreshing?

The variety is totally refreshing. I write adult novels in third person. I write my YA novels in first person. So not only is it refreshing, it’s also a huge challenge because switching back and forth, especially while editing, can be tough. I have to both remember who’s POV I’m in, what person and what tense, because yes, I even switch that up! Call me crazy. It’s okay. I already know.

I completely understand the point of view shift. I can’t read books in third person when I’m writing in first, and don’t even get me started on what happens when I read present tense while writing in past (it’s so, so ugly). On the spot time! What are a few of your favorite lines that you’ve written?

This is one of my all time favorites:
“Dawn conceals what the dark of night reveals.”
This is where After Dark (an Emi Gayle novel) started. That one line. One idea. Three books later … it’s on a cover.

Now, for my adult books, this:
“Do you trust me, Lexi? Will you, just for a moment, or a few days, even a week, set aside the moral compass against which you measure me day in and day out and just trust me?”
is one of my favorites. Tripp is speaking here, and it’s indicative of what Lexi puts him through in the whole book. It’s exasperation and for him, he finally said it. It’s a turning point for them in fact.

I love that! Rarely does a bit of dialogue, out of context, feel like a precipice.

One thing that I discovered after I’d been writing for a while is that I was returning to the same themes again and again. The stories and characters were different, but in a way, writing helped me to recognize some of the things that I find most important in people and in life. Do you ever find that, a recognition of your own values in your stories?

Yes, absolutely. As a photographer, I focused on relationships. Yes, I did a lot of portraits of individuals and of big events, but my true love is putting 2 or 3 people together and seeing how they interact. It’s the same in my books. I love seeing my characters grow and fall in love. But I also love the mystery that surrounds all of that. So more and more, my stories are getting complex with mystery and complex with relationship dynamics.

Aren’t all our lives the same way? We love to love but at the same time, it’s getting harder and harder to do. Same with work. With parenting. With … anything. The complications in our lives (be it work, hobbies, commutes, etc) keep us from truly engaging with others. I love diving into that and finding ways to get around it.

Who are some of your favorite writers, either those who inspired you to write or those who delight you to read?

As a kid, I read classics. Classics. Classics. Classics. I remember very little of them. I was just too young to truly appreciate them. I only read them because I had a ‘chore’ (Yes, I did) to read 20 minutes every day and if my shelf of books came from our family room – a la Classics.

Somewhere in my early 20s, I found Nora Roberts’ romances and FELL IN LOVE (with capital letters).  Is she my favorite? Maybe, maybe not. But she restarted my love of reading.
I am not, however, the voracious reader that so many are. I’m incredibly picky. When, however, I fall in love with an author’s style, I’ll read everything they have. This is true of my author friends (Jocelyn Adams, J.A. Belfield and Julie Reece for example) as well as some of the bigger names in books like Kristin Hannah, JD Robb and Sharon McCrumb.

Oh, I hear that. There are certain authors whose shopping lists I’d read if only I could get my hands on them. J

Emi has two books in The 19th Year series is due out in 2013, and Aimee’s Silent Echoes will be published in March. With that much on your plate, I’m hesitant to even ask, but what’s next for you? 

Ha! Oh, there’s always more. I’ve just finished writing Perry Road, the first in a dystopian YA series and I’ve never, ever had my beta readers get back to me so fast with the ‘OMG, this is the best thing you’ve ever written’ comments, so we’ll have to see where that goes. I’m also writing the final in the Mimics of Rune series, Redeemed. It was supposed to be ready for 2013 production, but I’m kinda happy that it isn’t. :) Outside of that, I have another Games of Zeus book in editing and book two after Perry Road called Delta Street already started in my head. 

Plus, I work full time, have three kids, a husband, two cats, two guinea pigs and some desire to sleep, eat and exercise, so I’m thinking that’s probably (maybe?) enough for this year. :)

*raises hands in surrender* That’s somewhere beyond plenty to do. I wish you the very best of luck with that, and can’t wait to see the new books! Thank you so much for stopping by, Aimee.

You can find Aimee's books at: Amazon     Barnes and Noble

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Aimee is a romantic at heart and a southern transplant with a bit of the accent (but not a whole bunch). She's married to her high school sweetheart, and with him, she's produced three native North Carolinians, two of whom share the same DNA. 


With an MBA and a degree in Applied Mathematics, there's absolutely no reason she should be writing romance novels. Then again, she shouldn't need a calculator to add two numbers, either ... but she does.


Aimee Online: Website     Facebook     Twitter
Emi Online: Website     Facebook     Twitter

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

WORK IN PROGRESS

I'm very much enjoying my work in progress. It's at around 55,000 words and has a long way to go, and I'm aware of a pair of large disconnects that will have to be joined and sealed with tonnes of elbow grease when I revise. Good thing I melted down all those elbows I found last summer.

I'm not sure of the genre, but there are Themes in this story, and, I'm hoping, some surprises.

Snippet:

Varen paid extra for a private bathroom and I spent twenty minutes scrubbing and drying before he sat me down on the bed and glued my lip closed.


What secret stories are you all working on?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Q&A WITH DIANE DOOLEY


Diane and I are chummy around the Internets, and I'm also very much a fan: from her flash and short horror stories to her alternately humorous and desperate science fiction romance novellas. I'm never quite sure what to expect from her, but I always delight in what I find.

You write hardened space captains, interstellar bounty hunters, sweet romances and chilling horror. So I have to ask, who are your writing influences? What authors are on your “must buy” list?

I read a lot and very widely. When I first started writing it almost destroyed reading for me. I couldn’t enjoy the story itself, could only focus on how the story was being told. Thankfully, I’m past that phase. And looking over at my bookshelves I’d have to say my influences are those writers who appear again and again.

It might sound strange to say that Nabokov is one of my biggest influences, because I write nothing like him, unfortunately. I remember loving one his sentences so much, too much. It was so perfectly and exquisitely structured and punctuated, that I took the entire sentence and wrote my own version using its structure and punctuation. Silly me! The girl who fell in love with a sentence.

Also on the bookshelves: Jane Austen for dialogue, sly wit, and cleverness. Octavia Butler for boldness and sheer imagination. C.J. Cherryh for human and alien characters, spaceships and space stations. Thomas Hardy for tragedy, which I love. Poetry is my go-to happy place. Neruda, Pushkin, Plath, and many more. Short stories: Richard Bachman, Ray Bradbury. I adore the wicked and wonderful Roald Dahl, both his children’s and adult stuff.  Alasdair Gray, a Scots writer, for wit and intelligence and brilliance.

It actually feels a little impertinent to name these influences. I’m not even in the same league as them. Moving on: the book I’m most looking forward to buying is the one G.R.R. Martin is still writing. I’m on a Courtney Milan kick right now and trying to decide which one to treat myself to. I’m looking forward to Joe Hill, Jo Walton and Paolo Bacigalupi’s next books.

Ah, nobody ever says Thomas Hardy. I’ve happily allowed him to break my heart several times. Hell, even on re-reads. Do you find it difficult to switch back and forth from writing stories set in as diverse of locations as space ports and contemporary cabins?

No, I find it refreshing. I like darting back and forth in time, past, present, future. And to different locations, on Earth and off. I wish I wasn’t like that, though. I wish I had laser-beam focus. I wish I could focus on one thing and make it my own.

On the spot time! What are a few of your favorite lines that you’ve written?

Oh dear. This means I’ll have to go back and read some of my stuff, which I rarely do after it’s published. *several hours later* I’ve pick three lines from my published short stories.

1.  “They examine my body with morbid interest, excited for my eventual autopsy, these stumpy little creatures all dressed in white.”  
From ‘Monster,’ published in ‘From the Depths,’ Summer, 2012. Why do I like this one? I dunno. The morbid thrill of writing from the POV of someone dying and soon to be dissected, maybe? Writers are strange people.

2.  “Only someone as pompous and long-winded as Eugene could have written an eight page suicide note full of such petulant complaints.”
From ‘Compartment C,’ published on my blog, September, 2011. Again, I dunno. But that eight page suicide “note” just kills me.

3.  “Later that day the three bears relaxed in their clean and cozy home, nursing their headaches and each flossing their teeth with identical strands of long, golden hair.”
From “A Taste of Revenge,’ published by Dog Oil Press, September, 2009.  I love this line because I’ve always hated Goldilocks, that horrid, home-invading girl.

I adore the Goldilocks line. Even as a child, I was uncomfortable with her antics, and always sided with the bears. So, other writers sometimes talk about stories coming to them in dreams. Does this ever happen for you, where something that occurs in your sleeping mind refuses to leave once you wake? Or, alternatively, do you ever dream of the characters of your own invention?

I think this has happened to me, I’m not really sure. I’m always day-dreaming and can never quite differentiate between things that popped into my head when I was awake vs. when I was asleep.  I do remember this one time, a week or so before a final paper was due at university. I’d done all this cool research and had all this wonderful material at my fingertips, but I couldn’t do a damn thing with it because I didn’t have a thesis. I went to bed one night and had a vivid dream about all the research strands. When I woke up - eureka! - I had a thesis. I was so relieved! For the record, I got an A- with comments: terrific research, weak thesis, absolutely wonderful writing. I think that was when I decided to give the writing thing a go one day. As long as it didn’t require a thesis.

Good lord, I hope never to see that comment on an edit letter: What’s your thesis?

What’s next for you, Diane? I seem to recall tantalizing hints of the third Blue (Blue Galaxy, Blue Nebula) book.

Yes, I’m working on that one now. Blue Planet.  I finished it ages ago, but hated it. I love tragedy, but it was too dark and depressing, no light in it at all. But I figured out how to fix it and am enjoying it again. I always have lots of irons in the fire. Other works in progress include: a post-apocalyptic western, a gothic horror, a couple of contemporary romances that are finished, but need a brutal edit, a dystopian road trip/love triangle kind of thing, a near-future scifi romance. That’s just the top of the pile. I’ll take laser-beam focus for a hundred, please, and many more hours in the day.

These all sound wonderful. I can’t wait to see them emerge! And I’m seconding the request for more hours in the day (I promise I won’t spend them all on Twitter). Thank you so much for stopping by, Diane!

Find Diane’s diverse and engrossing work at: Amazon     Barnes and Noble

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Diane Dooley is the author of Blue Galaxy and Blue Nebula from Carina Press, Mako’s Bounty from Decadent Publishing, and That Night from Wild Rose Press. They’re also available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all the usual e-book stores.
She writes horror, science fiction and romance, short stories, novellas and novels. She also Facebooksblogs and tweets.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Q&A WITH THE ONE, THE ONLY: CLAIRE GILLIAN AND LILA SHAW



I met Claire Gillian through AbsoluteWrite, a resource site for writers and, shortly thereafter, discovered that she wrote under not one, but three pen names (Claire Gillian – mainstream fiction and non-fiction essays, Lila Shaw – erotica and erotic romance, and a YA pen name). The mind, it boggled! We grabbed drinks at RWA last year, and I will admit to being a little relieved that she displayed only a single – very charming – personality. Though she did refer to herself in the third person the entire time…is that weird? J

You have the unique ability to combine strong sexuality with humor and suspense. Is that something that you intentionally work to balance, or does it develop organically during the writing process?

I don’t give it much conscious thought, to be honest. I write what I enjoy reading—romance, sex, mystery/suspense (sometimes), but nearly always humor. I look for humor in most situations and I especially love the ridiculous. Humor is subjective though, so I’m always taking a chance I’ll fall flat on my face with some readers. Sometimes I’ve consciously removed it when it felt inappropriate or too campy. Other times, I’ve had readers characterize a work or scene as funny when I hadn’t intended such. J Happy accidents are always fine with me. I never cease praying for luck to fill in the cracks and gaps in my skills.

However, I’m quite the cynic, though I don’t necessarily want to read or write about human misery. I wish I could write a starry-eyed / tearjerker to make people cry and sigh and tell all their friends to read it, but I prefer my fiction to make me cry with laughter. The other kind gives me a stuffy red nose that’s not at all attractive.

You’re writing prolifically, interacting under multiple pen names across the gamut of social media, inventing glorious blog features (Regrettable Book of the Week, anyone?), while maintaining a day job and a life. One question: Oh Dear God, How Are You Doing It???

Badly, I’m afraid. Actually, I have a really nice day job that pays enough to allow me to hire an occasional maid service to at least keep the CDC away. My kids and husband learned basic survival cooking and grocery shopping. I stopped watching almost all television. I cut way back on my exercise because I noticed that being buff had no bearing whatsoever on the quality of my work products whereas a fat butt in the chair did. Now, if I could train my pets to walk themselves responsibly and to use barf bags for hairballs I’d almost be set.

Beyond the time mismanagement, I’ve always been this eclectic type person. I was the one who floated between the various cliques in high school--never put down roots or committed to any one group. (Typical military brat.) I enjoy the challenge of writing in different styles and for different age groups. Diversity keeps writing fresh and fun.

To some extent I do regret having three pen names because it is more work and can be a pain in the tookus, especially when my YA pen name accidentally tweets something racy (damn that rascal Tweetdeck).

I consider Tweetdeck the great betrayer of social media. The things it’s done with my (not so) innocent tweets. *shakes head*