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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Author Suenammi Richards on choosing Taos as a location for her new book


I haven't visited Taos in years, but after reading this essay from today's guest, Suenammi Richards, I think I may need to book a trip there soon...

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Picking Locations with Heart

By Suenammi Richards

There was a swirl of thought placed into the development of my characters for my latest book. Even more so into the location where this great and magical love should grow wings and take flight. During the research side of writing my latest book, So a Psychic and a Rocket Scientist Walk into a Bar, I decided to set the locale as Taos, New Mexico. Taos is an interesting artistic hub bub of modern and indigenous art. Taos went very hippie in the '70s and thankfully, never quite recovered from it. This legacy of art, peace and free love leads us to one of Taos’ most prolific and well-known visual artists. This artist is mentioned briefly in my book. He is Ted Egri. My female protagonist has a piece of his. He represents a blending of indigenous art and regional legacy. 

Taos has a very prolific culture of art. This art is a mix of indigenous stylings and contemporary takes on historical folklore and canon. The art ranges from pottery from very early indigenous tribes to modern digital media. While my characters did not delve into the visual arts scene, it would be remiss to not point out that visual art is Taos’ most valued cultural contribution.

Even though I write, my first artistic love is visual art. Years ago I studied some of the contributions from this area. I was impressed and moved by the cultural history and authenticity of Taos’ artistic scene. So when I wanted to really immerse characters in a place where magic could be believed, I dedicated this location to the cause.

Author Suenammi Richards
I also desired to point out the importance of indigenous voices. Art as it exists and lives is much like writing in the idea that it is a living tangible expression of the most poignant aspects of the human soul. As artists it is important to recognize our roots and how they have influenced where we are as a species. What our artistic futures can hold. In the shards of a dish that is thousands of years old we can see the parts that carried us and made us. There is the need for community, sustenance and care. A bowl is a symbol of how we should preserve and treat our art. We carry the best of it. We carry as much as we can. Not only for ourselves but to share with others.


So a Psychic and a Rocket Scientist Walk into a Bar

Clair wasn’t sure what she should expect when she literally ran into Sergei and promptly passed out. There had always been whispers about Clair and her family. No one knew quite what they were but it was a history and a birthright Clair had deftly avoided for almost all of her life. This new occurrence puts Clair on the cusp of what was always fated to be her calling. With someone’s life at stake she knew she finally had to literally choose between life and death. 
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You can learn more about Suenammi Richards on her blog and by following her on Twitter.

You can purchase So a Psychic and a Rocket Scientist Walk into a Bar on Amazon.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Learn about Christina Hoag's dark, gritty gang novel, SKIN OF TATTOOS


As a fiction-writer with one foot in the world of journalism, I am especially interested in this guest post by Christina Hoag. But hers is a type of hardline reportage much different from my own experience. For Skin of Tattoos, she found inspiration in an element of society that most of us hope to avoid. But we're thrilled to read about it! Welcome, Christina.

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What inspired me to write Skin of Tattoos
by Christina Hoag

Skin of Tattoos is set in the gritty underbelly of Los Angeles’ gangland, the darker side of the palm-studded, movie-star lifestyle that L.A. is known for the world over. Why, readers have asked me on more than one occasion, did you write about gangs?

In 2000, I was sent on a magazine assignment to El Salvador for story about gang members deported from Los Angeles to their birth country, which they identified with, but really didn’t know because they had left, fleeing the 1980s civil war, when they were infants and small children. Some of them barely spoke Spanish.

Growing up in L.A., they had joined gangs to protect themselves against long-entrenched Mexican-American gangs who didn’t welcome outsiders. But because the Salvadorans weren’t U.S. citizens, they later were vulnerable to deportation when the government started cracking down on immigrants with criminal records. The stories of the young men I interviewed, who were basically stuck between worlds, struck me as an unusual outcome of both a civil war and an immigrant experience. I tucked it away in my mind as a great premise for a story, and a couple years later, I wrote an outline for a novel and stuck it in a drawer.

In 2008, I became a reporter for the Associated Press in Los Angeles and ended up covering gang issues. I dusted off that old outline and started writing, although I stopped and started many times, not confident that I could pull it off. I got a lot of encouragement in writing classes I took, however, and eventually finished it.

I then ended up collaborating on a nonfiction book with a former Black Panther who had formed a programme to turn former gang members into community peacekeepers with the aim of stopping the cycle of retribution that drives gang violence. That book, “Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence,” is now being used in several universities as a textbook for courses that involve urban communities and policy.

Author Christina Hoag
After many rewrites and even more rejections, Skin of Tattoos landed a publisher and was published in 2016—sixteen years after I did those initial interviews in El Salvador. It was a long journey, indeed, but I learned valuable lessons: Write about something you’re passionate about so you don’t lose interest along the way and success is a lot about perseverance.


SKIN OF TATTOOS

Los Angeles homeboy Magdaleno is paroled from prison after serving time on a gun possession frameup by a rival, Rico, who takes over as gang shotcaller in Mags’s absence. Mags promises himself and his Salvadoran immigrant family a fresh start, but he can’t find either the decent job or the respect he craves from his parents and his firefighter brother, who look at him as a disappointment. Moreover, Rico, under pressure to earn money to free the Cyco Lokos’ jailed top leader and eager to exert his authority over his rival-turned-underling, isn’t about to let Mags get out of his reach. Ultimately, Mags’s desire for revenge and respect pushes him to make a decision that ensnares him in a world seeded with deceit and betrayal, where the only escape from rules that carry a heavy price for transgression is sacrifice of everything – and everyone - he loves.

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Learn more about Christina Hoag on Facebook and Twitter.

Skin of Tattoos is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Webrid rides again...space picnics and fuzzy spies in RED SPAWN DELIVERY, out now! #funny #scifi


It's launch day for RED SPAWN DELIVERY, third installment of the Webrid Chronicles!

Time to go planet-hopping with a giant, hairy Yeril again as Webrid gets forced into another misadventure.











How can a picnic go so wrong?

Ganpril Webrid's grandfather always told him not to use his cart unless he was getting paid for it. But this huge, hairy carter on the planet Bexilla let a friend talk him into carting beers and grub to a picnic with her old college roommate. 

Worst mistake he ever made. Before he can even burp up his first sandwich, the ol' roomie stretches out her ten shiny legs, and out pop a hundred spawn. And before Webrid can settle his churning stomach, fifty of those spawn have been kidnapped.

Like it or not, Webrid finds himself on another planet-hopping adventure with snarky, brainy pals Zatell and Stravin and a host of wacky aliens. This time, Webrid's cart turns into an interplanetary playpen--or it will, if he can only find those blasted spawn.