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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guest Blogger paranormal romance author Adriana Ryan

One of the joys of reading fiction is getting to know the personalities an author has invented. Today, Adriana Ryan joins us to chat about the quirks in her characters. Adriana's paranormal romance novella, Her Heart's Desire, came out this month from MuseItUp.

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Hi Anne, and thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today! Since Her Heart’s Desire just came out on the twenty-third of March, I thought it would be fun to do a little list of things I know about my characters that didn’t make it into the story ... A little sneak peek into the quirks of the characters, if you will! When you read the story, you’ll find evidence of these facts peppered throughout. See if you can spot them all! J
I have to start with Millie Fields, of course—the heroine of the novella. Fun facts about Millie include:
1. She can never find her purse. When she gets home from work, she intends to put it down in the same spot every night, but it usually ends up hidden under her bed or in some other hard-to-find spot.
2. If there’s a classic romantic movie in existence, Millie’s seen it.
3. She has yet to find some good quality hair products that will hold up in humid weather (which really sucks, because she lives in Charleston, SC!)
And now, Braedon Hill, Millie’s best friend and pediatric surgeon extraordinaire. There was so much I wanted to share about him that I ended up cutting. So here’s some about him:
1. Braedon secretly reads romance novels because he wants to know what Millie finds so absorbing about them.
2. He often wonders why the female nurses at the hospital seem to stutter so much when they talk to him.
3. When Millie’s parents died, he vowed to himself that he’d become her family and be there for her no matter what.
And last, but certainly not least, the delectable Graham Lance.
1.  Graham started using his signature aftershave because a former girlfriend told him it made him irresistibly seductive.
2. If his condo was burning down, and he could only save one thing, Graham would choose his bed. He’s had way too much fun on that thing for it to burn down to ashes. ;)
3. Women with hazel eyes are Graham’s Achilles heel.
I hope you had fun learning more about the main characters in Her Heart’s Desire! I know I had fun dreaming them up. J

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Sounds like a fun bunch, doesn't it? You can get to know Adriana Ryan better by visiting her website.
You can purchase Her Heart's Desire from MuseItUp.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Guest Blogger SF Author Matt Adams


My guest today is Matt Adams, whose witty sci-fi superhero novel, I Crimsonstreak, will launch in May. The book is now available for pre-order (details below). Matt discusses his decision to use the first person to tell this story.

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I, Crimsonstreak is my first novel, and readers will see the world through the eyes of Chris Fairborne (henceforth Crimsonstreak), a superheroic super-speedster with quick wits and a love of pop culture.

The character has a definitive voice; when I write as Crimsonstreak, I am Crimsonstreak. That’s one of the biggest draws of the first person perspective. As a writer, you completely become that character because you’re writing from his or her perspective.

Even though Crimsonstreak’s voice comes to me very easily, first person does have its drawbacks.

It’s limiting. The biggest problem with first person narrative is that it imposes certain limitations on what writers can do. For instance, if you have multiple characters working together to solve a problem, you’re only able to show what’s happening through your narrator. You’re limited solely to what he or she sees and feels.

That guy is boooooooring! If you’re going to use first person, you’d better be sure your narrator has a distinct, engaging voice. Who wants to read 300 pages of Captain Bland? Not this guy! Not you, either.

“I, I,” matey. Too many sentences will start with “I.” After a while the pronoun becomes nearly invisible, but when you read a piece written in first person, you get a lot of “I did this” followed by “I did that.” It is sometimes unavoidable, but writers must get creative to avoid repetition.

What are they doing? This goes a little bit with the first point I mentioned. If you have several characters to keep track of and they get separated, readers will have no idea what happens “off camera” because the narrator has no way of knowing what has transpired.

Hello, info dump! First person books can become filled with ye olde info dumps. This happens for a couple reasons. One, because the narrator has to talk to other characters to fill in gaps in action. Two, because the narrator is the guide to an unfamiliar world. Sometimes this handcuffs the writer, resulting in some “As you know, Bob” moments.

You’ll have to excuse my friend; he’s a little chatty. First person stories become grating when the narrator simply wants to talk. Constant monologues aren’t interesting, and writers must infuse their characters with personality without turning them into monologue machines. Words are precious; don’t let the narrator’s sense of self-importance override your story!

Get creative! This isn’t a pitfall, per se, but it is something writers must challenge themselves to do. I used flashbacks in I, Crimsonstreak to help flesh out certain themes (the narrator’s relationship with his parents, for example). I also used appendices in the back of the book to lay out the detailed history of the Crimsonstreak universe. The main narrative (via Crimsonstreak) gives readers the basics without getting bogged down in every single detail.

First person is tricky, but I love using it as long as the circumstances fit. It does demand forethought and discipline in order to be used effectively.


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You can visit Matt Adams at his website.
You can pre-order I, Crimsonstreak through Kickstarter and get nifty Crimsonstreak swag here.
Or you can use BN to per-order here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Green Light Delivery cover and free sample!

Look at this beautiful cover for my humorous noir sci fi novel, Green Light Delivery. The book is due out in June from Candlemark & Gleam, but you can read the first 24 pages for free by clicking here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Guest Blogger sci fi author Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz

Science fiction presents special challenges to a writer. How much technology should you include? How accurate does it have to be? My guest, Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz, tackles this quandary and offers some sound advice. Her published stories include "Mirror, Mirror" and "A Past and a Future."

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    Science fiction can be classified as hard (technological) or soft (sociological).  Soft science fiction deals with people, not machines. Although there should be some element of futurism, your characters need not go shooting off among the stars in a high-tech space craft.  It is important, however, for you to include elements of the future in your story.  It's not good enough to insert a few words about view phones and laser guns.  Be a little more daring.  Think of technology that exists today and project what it might become 50 years from now.  In addition, imagine how life will change with new technology.  Thinking back over the changes which have happened in our own lifetime, and how fast those changes occurred, will help you imagine your future time.
     As with any science fiction, you need a concrete picture of what happens in your world.  What rights do women and minorities have?  What type of government is in power?  What mode of travel does the common person use?  Where does your world exist?  Is it a future version of
     Earth, or is it a planet in a far-off galaxy which has been inhabited by humans?  Allusions to technology which could exist, but doesn't already, help place your work in the science fiction genre.  If, however, you concentrate your story more on the people and their problems, rather than describing the intricacies of your spaceship's drive engine, you are writing soft science fiction.
     You should research what is currently available in the way of technology.  Read issues of science and computer magazines to give you insights into the ever-changing world of science and personal computers. Read as much as you can of books already written in the science fiction genre.
     As a beginning writer, where do you look for markets for your work, once you've created it?  The obvious market guides are Writer's Digest and Novel & Short Story Writer's Market(published by Writer's Digest Books,1507 Dana Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45207, www.writersdigest.com ).  The other place is, of course, the Internet.  Do a search for science fiction magazines, speculative fiction magazines, and publishers of science fiction.  There are market newsletters such as Ralan’s (www.ralan.com )which specialize in speculative fiction.
     Now you know what determines soft science and where to look for markets.  The rest is up to you.  Send for guidelines and sample issues.  Study what kinds of soft science fiction sells in which magazines.  Write, revise, and send to an appropriate market.  If you do your homework,
you, too, may find your byline in a science fiction magazine, anthology, or novel.

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You can visit Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz on her website and her blog.

Purchase "Mirror, Mirror" here. Purchase "A Past and a Future" here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Guest Blogger

Ooh-la-la. We've got a little spice in the blog stew today! I'm delighted to welcome novelist John B. Rosenman, whose newest work is called Steam Heat. Appropriately, John shares with us some fascinating thoughts about the connection of sex and horror in the human mind.

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            In fiction, why is sex so often scary?  Isn’t it supposed to be fun, the most beautiful, life-affirming thing around?  Yet in book after book, and in movies, too, sex is chillingly portrayed as being a tool of the Powers of Darkness.  Far from being the source of life, it is presented as an expressway to death and a shortcut to hell.
            Why?
            By way of answer, let me talk about one of my books that deals with erotic horror.  In Steam Heat, available from MuseItUp Publishing at  http://tinyurl.com/7muafug, Chad Benson enters a steam room and lies down:

            Ah, the heat felt good!  He'd sweat a bit and decide who he'd see this weekend.  Maybe
someone kinky like Michelle.

            Lying down, he covered his eyes with his towel. His chest rose and fell in the hot, humid air.
            The door opened and closed. Listening, he could hear no footsteps. How odd. Was the person simply standing there? As he started to remove his towel, a hand caught his.
            "I don't want you to see," a soft voice said.
            "You—don't?"
            "No, Chad.  It spoils the fun."
            It was the redhead! Obviously, she'd seen him watching her and had dumped her loser before finding out his name. He grinned.
            "Can't I even peek?"
            "No, it could prove dangerous. After all, I might be Medusa."
            He laughed, imagining her lovely face. "Hey, come on. If you looked at Medusa—"
            "Shhh.  Don't even say it."  Fingers slid behind his head, tying his towel securely so he couldn't pull it off.  A moment later, he felt sharp nails glide down his chest and stomach and start to remove his trunks.
            "Hey!"
            "What's the matter? Don't you like to live dangerously?"                                    
            What was with this girl? Having her strip him while he was blindfolded put him at a decided disadvantage, put her in control. What’s more, they were practically in plain sight! Any moment someone could come in.
            "Well?"
            Something in her voice stilled his protest, soothed it away.  "Okay," he shrugged.  "Only you get to peek and I don't.  It hardly seems fair."
            Her hand took his and glided it along a smooth, bare thigh, up her stomach to her breasts. 
            He caught his breath.  She was naked!

            Okay, cool off.  The first thing this scene suggests is that when we have sex (or make love, if you prefer), we put ourselves potentially at a great disadvantage.  We have decided to trust somebody in the most vulnerable experience of our lives, and all our defenses are down.  This is scary and horrific.  At best, our partner may be displeased by our body and our performance and even snicker, thereby shredding our self-esteem.  At worst, well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.  In the scene from Steam Heat, the hero has been stripped and blindfolded, submitting passively while his unknown partner has assumed control.  What’s more, as he notes, they are “practically in plain sight!”  At any moment, others might walk in and not only witness his humiliation but contribute to it.
            So, one reason sex is scary is that so often, it is both dangerous and a dangerous leap of faith.  We never know when we might be embarrassed or worse, even destroyed.  Yes, sex can be the greatest and most loving way to connect with someone, but it can also be the most terrifying way to have that connection destroyed forever.
            Ask yourself this: Do any of us ever really know the person or persons we make love to?  As in my story, how do we know the person we desire isn’t really a “Medusa” or monster guilty of unmentionable sins?  How do we know that person won’t betray us?
            Well, that may be laying it on a bit thick, but just think how closely love and hate are connected and how quickly and completely the former often turns into the latter.  Think of America’s soaring divorce rate, or the feuding couple in The War of the Roses. 
            A second reason sex is often tied to horror is thanatos, or the death wish or death drive.  In Elizabethan literature, the verb “die” was a common euphemism for having an orgasm.  Put another way, why are the “Twilight” books and movies so popular?  Fall in love with a vampire, and you can become one of the Undead forever.  Or get raped by Satan as in Rosemary’s Baby, and you can become Satan Jr.’s mother.  Yes, indeed, having sex means that you skate on very thin ice, especially if you’re ambivalent and part of you wishes to crack it and fall through—to spiritual death.  Want to take chances and walk on the dark side?  It’s easy, wrap your limbs and soul around a vampire.  Or use sex in a hundred different ways to hurt someone, including yourself.  Bondage and whips, sadism and masochism, here I come!
            I don’t want to give away any secrets, but the fear of and desire for death is also a part of my story Steam Heat.  Is not embracing death and oblivion the most frightening experience of all?  Doesn’t it turn folks on?
            I’m sure there are other reasons why sex is often portrayed as horrifying.  On a positive note, sex is also shown as funny, glorious, and loving, the most important thing that makes us human.  It’s just that like so much else in human life, sex can be twisted and misused.  Ultimately, it can be a force of transcendence or of pain.


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Don't want to cool down? You can buy Steam Heat here.
You can visit John Rosenman on his website.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Aliens & Weird Stuff, Volume 1, now on Kindle!

The first volume of my new series of story trios for kids, Aliens & Weird Stuff is available now on Kindle for $1.49. I'll be adding more formats soon. You can check it out here. Two of the titles appeared in e-zines a couple of years ago, and one has never been published!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Guest Blogger fantasy novelist Chrysoula Tzavelas

Chrysoula Tzavelas has just released her urban fantasy novel Matchbox Girls. Despite the whirlwind of her book launch, she kindly took time out to discuss her unique perspective on angels.

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I've been interested in angels ever since I was young. I think I remember the genesis of my interest: when I was very, very young, I had a dream wherein I went into a man's home, saw a large pair of wicker wings leaning against the wall, asked him about them, and was told, "Those used to be mine."

Later, when I was still quite young, I went to Sunday school, and got very upset when they taught me about Satan, and how, although God would forgive every human being for anything, angels who had made mistakes were cursed forever. That hardly seemed fair. I don't think my Sunday school teachers were very happy with one of their charges crying out of sympathy for the devil.  (Fortunately my mother was more interested in what I had to say than what they did.)

Then there was the early experience of picking up an illustrated Bible in a photographer's waiting room and reading a strange chapter about how some of the angels came down and mated with women and produced giants that dominated the Earth. For a long time I could never track down the text I'd read (and certainly not the vivid illustrations in the book itself), which only made it gain the substance of legend in my mind.

So yeah, I've been thinking about angels for a long time. Celestial messengers of an all-powerful entity who were simultaneously known for their obedience and their disobedience. It was fascinating, especially to a strange little kid struggling to understand both the spoken and unspoken rules of life. As I got older and started to seek out my own entertainment, more and more ideas about angels and their Fallen brothers crept into the mass of knowledge I'd been accreting. Nice angels, devout angels, amnesiac angels, scary angels, irreverent angels, lost angels, misguided angels, and just as many varieties of demons and devils and monsters.

It was clear that the world of celestial beings could be extremely simple: a black and white accent to the questions of human nature, or a whole landscape in which to explore metaphors of choice and destiny and the passions of entities that still seem both alien and so very human.

Guess which approach I decided to take?

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You can purchase Matchbox Girls from the publisher, on Amazon, and on B&N.
You can learn more about Chrysoula Tzavelas at her website.