Archive for May, 2011

Life with a Headstrong Character

by MJ Williamz

World, meet Kathleen “Katie” Prentiss. Katie is a 19 year old beauty. She has long, auburn hair, emerald green eyes and an “I don’t take sh!t from anybody” attitude. Katie is all about what Katie wants. Born in 1846 to Theodore and Della Prentiss of New Orleans, she was raised as the privileged, only child of plantation owners. Life has been easy for her. She has not been easy for anyone.

Now, there are several things I know that Katie does well, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what they are (altho knowing I’m the author might give you a bit of a hint LOL) But I didn’t really know much about her, because I’ve been kind of avoiding really getting to know her. Her mother and I don’t know each other all that well, because she’s more of a minor character. I know her mother’s best friend, Corrine very well. She and I became fast friends upon her inception. But Katie? She’s a bit intimidating, to be honest.

So when the time came to write a chapter from her point of view, I was understandably nervous. If I don’t really know her, how can I get inside her head and tell the story? That’s when I learned that there was a positive to having a headstrong, self-absorbed main character – she tells her own story! It took little or no thought on my part to write last night’s scene. Katie took it and made it her own. I (she) wrote over 1,000 in just a couple of hours, which is almost unheard of for me.

Which begs to question – am I still ok to avoid her and let her write the story her way? Or do I really need to suck it up and get to know her? The jury’s still out on that one.

Playing The Writing Game

by Lesley Davis

I write what I want to read. Being very fantasy minded that has led to my previous stories telling the tales of women possessing special powers, magical witches and friendly ghosts, and my own set of masked vigilantes who keep the cities safe at night. After chasing across the rooftops with my Sentinels in “Truth Behind The Mask” I decided to set myself a challenge; could I write a ‘normal’ romance? Normal in the sense that the characters would exist in the here and now, have ordinary jobs and not one hint of a super power. Out of that challenge “Playing Passion’s Game” was born.

But….my idea of normal might be a little bit different to everyone else’s!

I think it’s a safe wager to make that those who know me are aware that I am a Gamer. Yes, a Gamer with a capital G! It’s mentioned proudly in my bio and I freely admit to worshipping at the temple  of Nintendo. When I’m not writing I have some kind of gaming controller or handheld system firmly in my
grasp and I play every and any kind of game available. For this story, I
followed that other old adage when it comes to writing; write what you know. So my newest lead character, Trent, is a gamer. Now, I am aware not
everyone sees the beauty in playing console games so I made sure to concentrate
on the social aspect. After all, gaming online is very much like going out on a
blind date; you have that same giddy nervousness about who you’re going to be
matched up with. The outcome might be a great night had by all or the sad realisation of it not being entirely a match made in heaven! I also made sure that Trent was not your usual stereotypical view of what a gamer is thought to be like. She’s got a job she loves, has a large circle of friends, her life is pretty settled.

As for my other leading lady, Juliet, she was given a role in a business I used to know well. She works for a company like I once did. I’ll use my best Star Wars voice
here – “Before the dark times, before The Recession”. However, she’s seeking more from life than being stuck behind a desk. I was a mortgage associate who ended up watching as my job floundered and died as the recession hit Britain.  I’d been there for a very long time. It was devastating and scary to lose what  had been a main stay in my life, however unhappy I had been there. So I decided  to combine these two halves of my own world into this story. I used the basis  of my greatest pleasure (gaming) and one of my worst experiences (redundancy) to  bring two women together to weave a tale of romance that I hope readers will  enjoy.

I liked proving to myself that yes, I can write a romantic tale without the setting of
fantasy. But I am not giving up that realm any time soon. I love it too much
and still have many stories to tell from it. My next book, “Dark Wings
Descending” out 2012, will attest to that. I love writing about strange and
magical places, populated by people who are a little bit different but fit
those worlds so well. But in the end, what’s most important to me is the
exploration of romance between two women that leads to the happy ever after
experience; no matter what reality they happen to live in.

I’d like to explore this further, but I have a game level I need to get through so if
you’ll excuse me…I’ll just swap keyboard for controller and get back to the
gaming….for now! But be sure to check out the excerpt on the “This Month’s Excerpt” page of the BSB Authors’ blog. Just click on my title.

The world is definitely coming to an end next year

    By Julie Smith

        The world is definitely coming to an end next year. Haven’t you heard? Well, six years ago, I had, but I didn’t know everybody was going to make such a big deal about it. Back in 2005, when I started writing a YA book, then called BAD GIRL SCHOOL (now CURSEBUSTERS!), I wanted to use an ancient Mayan city as a setting and I knew that thing about the Mayan calendar stopping in 2012. Great idea, I thought, to have my protagonist time-travel back to a Mayan site and prevent the end of days.

            But the first eighteen or so versions didn’t work out and next thing you knew it was almost the end of the world! I based the story on something that happened to someone close to me—a kid who ended up in a “school for troubled teens”, a place so strict you couldn’t even talk to the other kids. And where you were watched every second and there were walls to keep you from running away. How on earth was Reeno, my teen-age burglar protagonist, ever going to have an adventure under those conditions? Well, there was the time-travel thing—you can do that without going anywhere. But who was she going to talk to? Enter the Alpha Beast (aka A.B.), her “handler” for the adventure, a telepathic….um…cat.  See, a cat wouldn’t be noticed by anyone at the school, I reasoned. Kind of like a fly on the wall.  That seemed innocuous enough. I didn’t actually realize he was going to take over the book. Or at least try.

All good ideas, right?  Bad girl, time travel,
talking cat. But there were more—Reeno’s mom was trying to kill her, for one thing.
And maybe her little brother too. Aaargh. Too much, said a kind editor who
wanted to publish the book. So I made Mom nice, but harassed because Grandma
had Alzheimer’s and lived with the family, all of whom were pretty much
full-time babysitters. Well, that helped, but there was more.

Many rewrites ensued. The original beginning was harrowing. Reeno got kidnapped and dragged off to school by detectives hired for the job. But that didn’t fit with the humor. So I made the first part kind of slapstick—the burglary that goes
wrong and lands the kid in Bad Girl School.
That was better, but still, Reeno couldn’t talk, except in Group, which
was basically a psychotherapy sharing kind of thing—very stiff and unnatural.

It still read kind of like two different books—one about the school and the other about the time-travel adventure. Said the kind editor. I was about to go back to the drawing board when she quit her job and moved back to the Midwest. Waaaah!

So I put the book away. Until one day I woke up and realized it was almost the end of the world. Or at least 2012. My agent suggested I run it by a new kid in the office, a young man named Cooper.  Well, Cooper was just full of
ideas, one of which was a conclusion I’d come to as well—I just had to relax
that rule about talking! Reeno had to have some real friends she could talk to.
And maybe a boy friend.

Make them psychic, he said—that could be a lot of fun. Well, yeah. So I did.

And let’s have a curse, said Cooper. If she has to break the curse on her family, she’s got a lot more reason to do the stupid cat’s bidding. Great idea, I said! I love curses.

And I love that time-travel thing where you caused something
in another time period and now you have to go back and undo what you did—which
wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t gone, so you’d think all you have to do is
not go. But time travel just doesn’t work that way. Which is great! It’s a lot
more mind-bending when it’s all tangled up.

I had a lot of fun rewriting with
the curse and the friends and the psychic shenanigans. And od course the love
interest. Guess what I named him? Only one choice there.,

And then I had even more fun making
the CURSEBUSTERS! trailer and watching the characters
come to life. Want to see?  Check it out.

Darkness Embraced: Embracing the Darkness

Darkness Embraced: A Rosso Lussuria Vampire Novel will be released this month, and so I thought I’d discuss that.

Witch Wolf and Raven Mask, the first two books in the Kassandra Lyall Preternatural Investigator series had been published. I was working on my third novel for that series, Bloody Claws, when out of the blue one day: a character came to me. That character was Epiphany. The opening scene stood out vividly and Epiphany’s voice was strong in my mind. Her voice was so strong and clear that I couldn’t ignore her or the sweet lure of my muse. I set Bloody Claws aside to work on what I thought would be a short chapter. There are times when a character will emerge, and initially, I may think they have a lot to say, but they don’t. I feared that somewhere on the page, Epiphany would fizzle out. Some characters are not ready to be written and so some stories turn into works left unfinished.

That was not so with Epiphany and she proved it to me. I found myself putting the third book in the Kassandra Lyall series completely on the back burner. Epiphany, so different from any character I’d ever written, got her fangs in me and held on.

It was a wild ride.

There have been times when writing Kassandra that I’ve been pulled by the story rather than the one pulling the story. Some writers refer to that as pantsing (flying through a book by the seat of your pants, with no definitive plot in sight), but I’m also a plotter. I prefer having an idea of what’s going to happen next. But there are moments when a character digs her heels in about something that the only thing I can do is let my subconscious and my muse guide me. With Epiphany and the characters of the Rosso Lussuria, I tried to stay a step ahead of her, but she mysteriously, always seemed a step ahead and showed me that she would rather show than tell.

And show she did.

I couldn’t shake Epiphany and for a character that is a subservient vampire, I found her to be very persistent and steadfast. I sat down and followed the sound of her voice, and what eventually began as one chapter turned into two and then three, and four, and another, until I’d written an entire novel.

I learned a few things when writing Epiphany’s book. There were places in her story that I normally wouldn’t have tread (at least, not with the intent to publish and share it with the world), areas that challenged my own internal comfort zone. She forced me to dig deep within, to throw off the artistic restraints with courage and daring and to dive into the page, her journey, and her world without inhibitions. She taught me to throw off shackles I didn’t know I’d been wearing. But most importantly, she taught me not to stifle any aspect of a character. And when I nearly did so, she resisted, the writing came to a standstill as she become more stubborn and unyielding than I would’ve ever given my subservient heroine credit for.

Epiphany is different from Kassandra in the sense that she’s naturally more sexually liberated and is a submissive. So, to me it makes a bit of sense that when I went from Kassandra’s story to Epiphany’s, I found myself a bit surprised. Epiphany lacks the harshness of Kassandra’s dominance, her tough Alpha-werewolf persona. Where Kassandra would’ve drawn a weapon or tried to fight her way through, Epiphany relied on her wits first, weapons last. Where Kassandra might’ve boldly told me, “Oh hell no,” or possibly to go fuck myself, I learned that Epiphany was a bit more open-minded, not bound by the constraints of modern thinking.

Epiphany challenged me not to be afraid of exploring the darker and more erotic aspects of my writing and I, in turn, challenged her to find and harness her inner strength. Somewhere along the way, she opened my eyes and I realized how many of her perceived weaknesses, were in actuality, sources of great strength and bravery.

The characters of the Rosso Lussuria taught me that, you cannot limit yourself as a writer and to be true to my characters above all else. A character challenges you? Great, if a character’s voice is strong enough to challenge you, if a character is that real to you – you’re doing something right. Go with it. Don’t stifle it; don’t risk missing out on what could be a wonderful and thrilling adventure.

In fact, a little to my surprise, when I finished Darkness Embraced, I turned around and started the first chapter of Summoning Shadows, which will be the second book in the Rosso Lussuria Vampire Novels.

You can’t keep a good vamp down.


Winter Pennington

Book Giveaway Contest

I’m filled with excitement tinged with dread

by Kristin Marra

Every time I think about my new book, 78 KEYS, coming out this month, I’m filled with excitement tinged with dread. The excitement part is easy to diagnose. What writer wouldn’t be excited to see her book in print, a creation emerging directly from somewhere within her brain and heart? Just the thought of my words being read by many people whom I know, but mostly don’t, thrills me.

So the dread? Ah, the dread.  It’s not the fear that people won’t like the book. That’s a given. I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life. I’ve read many a book that came with heartfelt recommendations only to find the book didn’t please me for some reason. Books are a matter of taste, mood, chemistry and simpatico. If the reader doesn’t match with the book, it’s a matter out of the writer’s control.

78KEYS came from a churning place within me, a place more cerebral but in some ways more spiritual than WIND AND BONES. W&B was a book of the heart, arising from all my losses in Montana: parents, home, land and friends. 78KEYS gives voice to my dismay at our current anti-intellectual, photo-shopped culture and its ramifications for our inner lives.

Does that mean the book isn’t fun? Oh, hell no. It’s an exciting little read that I like to call elastic realism.
Will readers feel comfortable with it and the way it stretches the bounds of our mind-controlled existence? And then there is the use of tarot cards, a subject where interpretations are as differing as each reader of cards. How many emails will I get that disagree with my card interpretations?

Oh, and let’s not forget the Yiddish. Yiddish? The book is peppered with Yiddish because my character was raised in a Yiddish speaking household. I love the language. It’s truly a language of onomatopoeia, the words sounding like their definition. The Yiddish in 78KEYS is a deep bow of love to all my Jewish in-laws, but it’s equally an acknowledgement to the Jewish lesbian readers who rarely see themselves in lesbian fiction. I just hope they go easy on my Yiddish spelling. Every farshtinkener time I’d look up a spelling, three or more versions would taunt me, leaving me fartootst. So I did the best I could.

And finally, not with dread but with awe, I have to admit deep gratitude to my editor, Cindy Cresap. She had me rip the book in half and rewrite one half. And what a better book it is because of that. Had we kept the book in its original structure, dread would be keeping me at home, cowering under my desk.

As it is, I can function with this small amount of dread coupled with excitement. And I suppose that makes me no different than any writer in the world who will see her creation on the shelves in a few months.

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