Author Spotlight with Christine E. Schulze

K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself.

C.S. Well, first off, thank you for having me! I am quite excited to share in this, my first interview as an author.

A little about me, I have essentially been creating books from the time I was too young to write them, probably when I was about four. My first books were comprised solely of pictures. My first “real” book was Jonny to the Rescue. I was a flower girl for a lady at church, and she asked me to make her a book for a wedding present. Thus, I made her a copy of my latest work, Jonny to the Rescue, complete with illustrations. The story itself was inspired by the “Surprise, Surprise, Puppy Surprise!” toys which those in my generation may remember. This book would later provide inspiration for my published Legends of Surprisers series, which is actually for middle readers and young adults.

In addition to writing, I also enjoy drawing, photography, singing, playing piano, and going for exploratory walks in the woods. I draw namely manga style versions of my characters, which you can check out at my blog, www.goldenhealerartwork.blogspot.com. I also love composing and have compiled a couple soundtracks for my books, which can be downloaded as mp3s at a site called “Rmusic” under the name “Stregoni Symphony”. Finally, you can always catch me on Youtube singing something or other! While shy in talking in front of others, I’ve always had quite a voice for singing.

K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

C.S.  Lol, do I have quirks. From the fact that I randomly switch to British or Southern accents when talking or the fact I like to name everything—such as my rolling backpack “Rollie”; not very original, I know—to my strange, childhood cartoon crushes—Darkwing Duck, James from Pokemon, etc.—this author is definitely quirky. And proud of it.

Although quirks can prove good inspiration. Take my childhood infatuation with Darkwing Duck, for example. This provided inspiration for Pekin Muscovy, who marries Elizabeth in The Legends of Surprisers series. Now, I will say this caused some debate, as Sarah, a best friend of mine, still considers it wrong that “a dog should marry a duck”. I still try to tell her it’s okay because they’re really not animals; their humans under a spell to look like animals, but she still doesn’t buy it for some reason.

Then, take my infatuation with James from Pokemon—yes, I’m one of those girls who always likes the badguy and fantasizes about him becoming good. When I was around twelve, I wrote this whole book about our adventures. But you know what? The opening scene for that book provided inspiration for a much more serious novel I’m co-authoring write now called You, Fairie, I.

Finally, the way that The Legends of Surprisers series itself came about is actually a little odd. As a kid, I used to play with these toys called “Surprise, Surprise, Puppy Surprise!” They had mainly cats and dogs. They started making little clothes for the animals, and it was then I invented my first definition for “Surprisers”: Dogs and cats that do everything like people.

This spawned Jonny to the Rescue, then a whole series when I was in elementary school, and finally The Legends of Surprisers series developed when I was around twelve. As I grew older, I developed a more elaborate story about how there were seven human races placed under a spell to give them animal features and were known as “Surprisers” because of their surprising appearance.

K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

C.S.  Well, as mentioned above, I have been writing since I was a small child. I remember being very young and wanting to be an artist, but I think that must have quickly changed, because I feel like I’ve always known this is what I am meant to do. Even as a young child, I would say “This series will get published someday!” And now, it’s finally happening!

K.S.  What genre do you write?

C.S.  I write what I love to read, and that is fantasy! I also incorporate Christian themes, romance, horror, coming-of-age, action, and adventure into many of my works. But if I have to use just one genre to define my work, it would be fantasy, or, depending, Christian fantasy.

K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

C.S.  Honestly, what inspires me most is people. The Gailean Quartet, for example, was inspired largely by Gail Fleming, a favorite college professor of mine who quickly became like a second mother when I was going through hard times. Most of the time she didn’t even know, but attending her Music Appreciation and then Choir classes provided rays of light on dark days. Thus, through her, my favorite series, one where magic and music uniquely intertwine, was born.

Now, in terms of authors, some of my main inspirations are Tolkien, Rowling, and Diana Wynne Jones. You can often tell this from my writing too; I’ve had British editors tell me my writing is too American for them, while one of my American editors was confused when I kept using the word “towards” which is apparently British (“toward” being the American version). Lol, who knew?

But I mainly say I draw inspiration from these authors because of my quirkiness. I know I am quirky and that this translates into my writing, but I don’t always realize how much unless others point it out to me, because it just comes so naturally. I am a person who is very comfortable with herself; I write what I write and do what I do without question, unless I think I’m doing something wrong. I am just myself; I write what I like and hope others will like it too. So when a friend of mine tries to tell me it’s strange that I introduce Panganiban from Bloodmaiden by having her surf on a giant snowflake, I simply think how I never thought that could be considered weird; for me, it’s fantasy, and anything goes.

Actually, a friend of mine who has already written a wonderful review for Bloodmaiden here on Goodreads is considering writing a second called “Schulze and the Techni-colored Dream Fairy” just to compare my writing to other quirky authors of my kind.
I like being different though. I appreciate books like Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle because of its freshness, its uniqueness. So, sometimes I try to emulate such uniqueness in my own writing as well.

K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

C.S.  Well, my mom is definitely a great supporter, which is evident by the fact that she allows me to hole myself up in the computer room quite often, with me only coming out occasionally to eat, sleep, or at least show signs that I’m still breathing. But, yes, Mumsie has always been a good support in terms of my writing, school, whatever I set out to do.

I would like to thank her here, as well as Sarah, Aaryn, Jonathan, Chrys, and a slue of other friends who have also been a great support in all of my writing ventures!

K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?

C.S.  Hmm...well, for one, I learn—to my joy and self-encouragement—that I actually get better the more I do it. I’ll write a book and think it the most wonderful thing. Then, looking back, while I’ll still love the story just as much, I realize my actual writing has improved a great deal since writing it.

I’ll often reread a book of mine I haven’t read in a while and go, “Wow, did I write this? This is actually really brilliant!” I don’t say this to be proud at all, but it’s refreshing to read your own work and realize you really have told a good story. One book in particular, The Mass, has these twists that I always forget how they will turn out, and when I read on, I surprise myself! I know perhaps I should remember what happens in my own books, and generally I do, but I have written twenty-eight by now...

K.S.  What inspires you?

C.S.  As mentioned above, people are probably my largest inspiration. So many books have been spawned because of people I loved and wanted to include in my fantasy worlds.

As a Christian, I must also say that God has inspired me to write everything and has granted me this glorious gift; I must give due credit and praise to Him.

In essence though, I can be inspired by a great deal many things—too many sometimes. Used to be that when I read a cool book, watched a new movie, etc., I would get inspired—which I pretended annoyed me because I had too many projects going already as is. A major inspiration for me actually is my favorite video game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which spawned ideas for The Legend of Loz and Zephyr’s Islands, The Gailean Quartet, and The Legends of Surprisers Series. You can read more about this inspiration on my blog here at Goodreads.

K.S.  Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?

C.S.  Well, while I love all of my books—especially The Gailean Quartet, my favorite series—and while I consider my self-published works to be of high quality, seeing as I have worked a lot with editors and such, the two works I am currently seeking to promote are my novel Bloodmaiden and my ebook Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress, if only because they are my first works published by actual publishers!

Here’s a blurb on each book:

Bloodmaiden
"Zale. Gauthier. Varden. These three dynasties…They all sound like something out of an ancient, oriental myth or fairy tale. The concept of humans and dragons helping and living in harmony with one another, without fear. To me, that’s exactly what they are. A distant dream only read of, whispered secretly, quietly yearned for.
"For, you see, I am the new Quelda of Tynan."
These words echo the mystery, horror, and romance found within Schulze's fantasy novel. Along with her new husband, Chalom, Crislin must choose to embrace cruel tradition, run from it, or stand against it. The young couple's only hope is to rally the help of the three peaceful dragon dynasties of Sulaimon—but tradition is not on their side, even outside the realm of Tynan. The dragons outside Tynan's borders have been rumored as too stubborn and proud to believe their Tynanian brothers would commit such horrors as inflicted upon the Quelda. Gaining their aid is not a likely hope. Yet, any hope at all is valued in Tynan...
If they are to stand a chance of bringing cruel tradition to a permanent end, Crislin and Chalom must brave the constant, consuming blizzards of the Ever-white. They must brave the three dynasties and the challenges awaiting there. Together, they must convince the dragon emperors to allow them access to the shrines which house the sacred Aria - protective strands of music which may be able to disperse the evil from Tynan and unite the four dynasties of Sulaimon as a whole once again. Their only aid stems from a sprite whose moods are as unstable as her magic, a young minstrel, and a mysterious fox. Despite the odds, such plans are daring, dangerous, unprecedented, but fully possible - if they can escape the Wall first.


Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress
He leaned his head close to my ear and whispered, "Are you afraid?"
Chrystine had had more reason than any other time of her life, even when facing one of the rampages of her drunken father. But she wasn't afraid. And that was odd, because although Aaryn, the person asking her that question, was her best friend, he was also a vampire. In fact, she was surrounded by hundreds of vampires.
But they weren't your typical vampires. They were Stregoni Benefici, the good kind. Nor was Chrystine your typical fairy. She was the Golden Healer, and she alone could save the Stregoni Benefici from the Dark Enchantress. But can Chrystine figure out the Dark Enchantress' secret and defeat the evil vampires without destroying the good ones as well, without destroying Aaryn?


Find out as you read for yourself the story of the first vampire.
Bloodmaiden Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAd3ieiCKGc

Bloodmaiden Trailer 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tQEm_fSsWo&feature=related

Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w29WMIrDo7I

The real SWIC Choir (from The Gailean Quartet) performs Sweeney Todd Medley (check out their other great songs!)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMd4bdRmhRU


K.S.  Where can we buy your novel?

C.S.  Well, I’m not in physical stores yet—working on it, but these things take time! I find writing to be one of those ultimate, give-you-the-run-around, going-in-circles professions. You have to be known to be in stores. But to get known, it really helps to be in stores where people can buy your books. Sigh. But I am definitely available at these online locations:

1. http://ChristineESchulze.webs.com
Here you can order Bloodmaiden for a discounted price!

2. www.amazon.com
Find almost all of my books here, many in print and ebook form. Simply type “Christine E. Schulze” in the search box.

3. http://www.oldlinepublishingllc.com/index_files/OldLinePublishingFictionBloodmaiden.html
Go here if seeking to order Bloodmaiden directly from my publisher.

4. www.readerseden.com
Currently the only place to find Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress

5. www.smashwords.com
Some of my books as ebooks; read free samples!


K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

C.S.  I do indeed! First off, I have what I call my “official website”. My wonderful bf is going back to school for web design and set this site up for me. We plan on setting up a more “official” one in the future, but for now, this is it. I actually really like it; it’s a nice, clean, easy navigable site:
http://ChristineESchulze.webs.com
You can find links to my other sites there, but in particular, please check out and consider joining my forums:
http://goldenhealerfantasy.forumotion.net

And also check out my blog:
www.goldenhealerartwork.blogspot.com

K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

C.S.  Do not give up! What I have come to learn is that it really isn’t that hard to write a book or even get published these days. For some, that may be your only goal, and it’s a great one! Completing a book or story is a great accomplishment. But if you’re like me and trying to really get your name known, it can be a daunting task. You don’t realize how small you really are until you delve into the world. But do not give up! It takes constant, hard work, but you can be a successful author! I hope and plan to someday share my stories with all the world and don’t intend to give up too easily. I’ve only just begun. The journey may be frightening but exciting too. So, don’t give up, keep writing and trying, and I hope God blesses you as you start down your own, exciting, writing path!

Self-Publishing "To Do" list.

  
Self-publishing is often thrown around like a dirty word, but really it shouldn’t be. It’s hard work putting a book together and getting out there to sell it. I talked about this subject in depth a few months ago, but I felt a quick refresher might be a good thing to. This is just going to be a quick refresher though. You can find the full 4 part blog post in the archives if you are interested.

There are two basic flavors of self publishing. You can go with a service based publisher like IUniverse, Trafford, or Lulu. They will help you with all the tedious parts of putting the book together. With this method you give up a little creative control. You might use templates and have limited choices in cover art, but it will make the process easier.

Or, you can do it 100% yourself. If you chose to do it this way, you have quite a list of things to do in order to put your book together, but you get the freedom to really make it yours.  If you choose to go this route, stop into your local library and pick up a few books on how to do it. I believe Dan Poynter’s The Self-Publishing Manual is considered the “bible” for all people choosing this route. I have a copy myself and found it to be extremely helpful.

To start, you will want to make your “to do” list. Each step in the process has one major goal with many minor ones to consider. Take your time with each step because the final outcome depends on it. Here is the short list.

1) Write the book and get it critiqued.
Make sure it is 100% ready before you send it off to an editor. Use Critique groups to help you make the story as good as it can be. If there are no local crit groups in your area, check out some of the online sites. There are plenty of them out there, just make sure that your work is protected when you post it. Look through the rules and FAQ’s for the site and make sure your work is not searchable via sites like google. You don’t want your book all over the internet before you publish it.
One of my favorite sites to work with is. 
http://www.critiquecircle.com/

2) Have a Pro, edit the book.
Your book may have been several rounds with a critique group and you may have a masters in English, but don’t send out a book that hasn’t had a pro look at it. Self-Publishing is already looked down on, don’t give reviewers another reason to put a nail in your coffin.
To find info on editors, check out Predators and Editors.
http://pred-ed.com/peesla.htm
Think of it like the “Consumer Reports” page on Writing and Publishing. It’s a great wealth of information.

3) Printing and Distribution.
Unless you plan on going door to door with a stack of books, you want a printer who can distribute to the big guys like Amazon.com
You can use Amazon’s Create Space/Book Surge to have your books put together and distributed. Check with them on what services they offer too.
https://www.createspace.com/

No matter who you choose, you want to have your printer selected before you move on to further steps in the book process.

4) Book Layout.
This can be done in word, but it is quite a frustrating process. The layout is how you book will look when printed; all of those fun little details like: headers and footers, font, page breaks, page size, margins, etc…
You can hire out for this, or you can look for programs that help you do it yourself. I found one on Self-pub.net that was quite helpful.

http://www.self-pub.net/wizard.html

5) Book Cover Design.
Finding a reasonably priced designer can be a fun venture. Do your research and ask around to find your designers. Social networking sites like Facebook are wonderful for this, there are lots of groups out there with aspiring novelist, they are a wealth of information and leads.
I found both my print and ebook cover artist via networking on Facebook.
Check out
http://stellaprice.deviantart.com/gallery/

One note to remember here, your designer will want to know some things before they make your cover. I learned this the hard way. Know what your book dimensions will be before this step. Know the page count, know the size of the book, paper or Hb. Do your book layout first.

6) ISBN’s.
Every book has one so you will have to purchase these.
http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/index.asp


7) PCN or LCCN.
If you want your book able to be on library shelves, you will need one of these numbers.
http://pcn.loc.gov/pcn001.html

Please note, you will have to send them a copy of the final product after publication.

8) Copyright.
File online! Yay!
http://www.copyright.gov/


So there you have it, the short list. If you’re still considering self-publishing, don’t feel overwhelmed. It is do-able. You just have to take your time with it.

Giveaway!!!


 
 


    Goodreads Book Giveaway
 



 
   
   

      Immortalis Carpe Noctem (Paperback) by Katie Salidas
   

   
   

     


        Immortalis Carpe Noctem
     


     


        by Katie Salidas
     


     
     

       
         
            Giveaway ends August 28, 2010.
         

         
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.
         

       
     

   

   

   
    Enter to win
   
 

Author Spotlight with Urania Sarri


K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. 

U.S. Thanks for inviting me to your blog Katie. I come from a town by the sea in southern Greece, where I live with my husband and my two gorgeous teenage sons. I’ve worked as a teacher of English in State schools for the last twenty years. Plus, I’m a student myself, as I’m working on my PhD with Aston University in UK. A typical Gemini, trying to do many things at the same time; that’s the story of my life in brief.

K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

U.S. I guess it’s interesting that as an author I can only write in English. For years I was wondering why I couldn’t put down my thoughts in Greek, since every time I started a story it didn’t come out as I intended to. But when I started writing in English, Pandora’s Box was open. So, I guess it’s strange that I can overcome my personal inhibitions and express myself only in my second language. 

K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

U.S. I’d say emotional overload. You see I’m the kind of person who needs to communicate my feelings with other people. Suppressing emotion is incredibly torturing for me. I wrote my first story in English a few years ago, when I was going through a very hard time after the loss of a beloved person.  Writing was incredibly healing. After that, I knew my life had changed. I had created my own refuge in a world of fantasy.

K.S.  What genre do you write?

U.S. Mainly young adult romance (although I prefer the term  forever-young-adult) with a touch of fantasy or science fiction.. “Gate Deadlock” is science fiction, as the hero is a time-traveler from the future, but it’s a romance above all.

K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

U.S. I read a lot. I have a very mixed taste in books. I admire Gabriel Garcia Markes and Paulo Coehlio but I also enjoy reading Stephen King, P.D. James and Patricia Cornwell too. My students got me to love the Harry Potter series and Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight Saga.   Every book I read inspires me, but mostly I’d say I’m inspired by two things; music and the sea. 

K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

U.S.   They’ve been really encouraging all the way.

K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book?

U.S.   That I can do it; that nothing is really impossible as long as you put your soul in it. Moreover, I found that I can publish my book, even though I live far way from my target audience, I mean the English-speaking readers. I had no idea about self-publishing, you see. Of course I’ve also learned it means hard work, especially as far as it concerns promotion.

K.S.  What inspired you to write your novel?

U.S.  “Gate Deadlock” is the story of a forbidden love, a love that purifies the soul and rectifies the past. Can you believe I was inspired by a song? Two songs, actually. “Sing for absolution” and “Starlight” by the band I absolutely worship, The Muse.

K.S.  Can you tell us a little about your novel?

R.S.     You can watch the trailer video on you tube to get an idea:



here’s a short synopsis:

In a world where reality is predetermined and constantly monitored by the dark forces of the future world with the only aim to protect their own reality, Emma a university student, comes across a huge discovery; everything she has considered to be her own choice was nothing but the inevitable response to the sly directions of the future.
Even her heart betrays her when she falls in love with the wrong man. Christopher has come to her from another world, another time. She has found out that he is now here to protect her, although the first time they met he was ordered to kill her. Even more, he is responsible for the tragedy in her life, her father’s loss, along with other crimes that haunt his past. He is looking for redemption of his soul through his love for her and she is willing to offer him anything he asks because she is desperately in love with him. But what hope can there be when you are in love with a soldier of the future, a trained assassin?
They both know their love is condemned but are determined to fight against the odds till the odds beat them down. When the powerful rulers of the future threaten Emma’s life again, Christopher sacrifices his soul to save her by becoming the same monster he used to be.
But Emma is not willing to accept his sacrifice. This time she will be the one to save him, with the help of his former comrades, the Crusaders.


K.S.  Where can we find your novel?

U.S.   You can order it from Amazon  on this link
http://www.amazon.com/Gate-Deadlock-Urania-Sarri/dp/055708217X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260805721&sr=8-1
Or from Lulu.com
http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/gate-deadlock/5658351
It’s also available by Barnes and Noble and all the major wholesalers.

K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

U.S.  My blog, “Urania’s distractions” is fairly new . You are all welcome to follow http://uraniasarri.blogspot.com/ . There’s a giveaway for “Gate Deadlock” at the moment. You can also find out about me and my book on my website:
http://uraniasarri.webs.com/ Once you’re there, sign the guestbook or sign in as members. There are many surprises for the members on the way.

K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

U.S.  To be brave and go for it. It’s worth every single moment even if they sell only one copy of their book. It’s not a matter of profit but of personal achievement and fulfillment.


GATE DEADLOCK
PREFACE

The heat of the summer night did not get to me at all. I felt chills and I was trembling like a leaf, shattered by the news that had struck me like a bolt out of the blue.
Susan, the delirious female Crusader and emissary of the future world, was trying to rationalize Christopher’s decision, searching desperately for comforting words, but I was not listening to her anymore. I opened the drawer of the desk next to me and took my car keys with a fast move before Susan had time to react. It had to be one of the League’s tricks, I thought; although deep down I knew Susan would never lie to me.
I was frantic. I thought of his house. I had to go there, see with my own eyes, his clothes, his books, sense his smell… Maybe it was not too late. Maybe I could still make him change his mind.

I rushed outside and Susan followed me, shouting my name. But I was faster. Despair had been my motive power. I started the car, wasting no time to fasten my seatbelt.

‘It can’t be true… It can’t be happening! Please God, no! Don’t let it be too late. Oh, Christopher, what have you done?’ I repeated to myself, speeding off, my face soaked from the tears. He could not have gone back, hundreds of years away from me, leaving me here. Even worse, he could not have returned to the life that had consumed all his humanity in the past, to the crimes he was desperately trying to redeem his soul from. It would sooner or later destroy him. I should not let him sacrifice himself to save me. I could not allow that. There had to be another way out of that deadlock.

I remembered the words he had whispered to me that night, when I had told him I was determined to fight for us.

‘When you get to a deadlock, will you please remember that I love you… That you are my life… My heart and my soul…belong to you… Wherever I am… Whatever I do… Promise me…you won’t hate me.’ he had pleaded. Their meaning was so clear to me now.

Tears were blocking my view as I clenched the wheel, but that did not keep me from stepping on the gas.

I only caught a glimpse of the car that appeared out of nowhere ignoring the stop sign. My Beetle swerved dangerously in a last effort to avoid the collision and I found myself heading towards a cluster of trees, having lost control of the wheel.

The awful sound of the crash sounded as a blast to my ears. Then, the darkness of the night surrounded me, swallowing me into the blessed oblivion of nothingness.

Is it towards or toward?

Some words trip me up for no good reason. In crit groups this is one of the words that constantly brings about a session of head scratching and confusion.

Some critters repremand me for leaving out the "s" saying it's "towards." While others scratch out my additional "s" saying it's "toward."

So I did a little digging.

You know what I found out?

It's both ... in a sense. It really depends on where you are from, which is the correct spelling. Towards is more common in British English whereas Toward is more common in American English.


Taken from Dictionary.com

to·ward   (tôrd, tōrd, tə-wôrd')

prep. also to·wards  (tôrdz, tōrdz, tə-wôrdz')

   1.      In the direction of: driving toward home.
   2.      In a position facing: had his back toward me.
   3.      Somewhat before in time: It began to rain toward morning.
   4.      With regard to; in relation to: an optimistic attitude toward the future.
   5.      In furtherance or partial fulfillment of: contributed five dollars toward the bill.
   6.      By way of achieving; with a view to: efforts toward peace.

adj. (tôrd, tōrd)

   1.      Favoring success or a good outcome; propitious.
   2.      often towards  Happening soon; imminent.
   3.      Obsolete  Being quick to understand or learn.


[Middle English, from Old English tōweard  : tō , to ; see  to  + -weard , -ward .]

Usage Note : Some critics have tried to discern a semantic distinction between toward  and towards,  but the difference is entirely dialectal. Toward  is more common in American English; towards  is the predominant form in British English.

The Gates -Tv Show

We are already 4 shows into this season and I'm on the fence (pun totally intended) about this show.  Not sure I enjoy it as much as my current supernatural favorites: True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and Being Human.

Have you seen it?



Any thoughts?

Musings of a Pantser!


Many times people ask me how to go about writing a novel. Some look at writing as such a daunting task. They think of outlining, plot structure, and word counts then instantly balk. “I can’t write 80k words!”

The thing is, you can do it. It doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to relax and not focus on the end result. That’s the single biggest thing that stops a new writer from finishing a story.

Back when I started writing Immortalis Carpe Noctem, I let that kind of stuff haunt me too. I felt I had to plot everything out. I worried if my chapters would be long enough and if I could really ever hit that magical word count to qualify as a novel.

It took me 5 years to finish Immortalis. Yeah, that is a long time, I know. But first novels can take a long time.

My problem was, I kept forcing myself into the little box of plotting out everything down to the smallest detail and then hating where the story went. I would try to force a chapter past its point, adding in too much unnecessary detail, because I felt each chapter needed to be a specific length.

Eventually, I set the manuscript aside, frustrated with it.

While I let that one settle, I allowed myself to “free write,” not caring if the story made sense or if it was ever going to be read by anyone.

You know what I found out?

The muse doesn’t like to be boxed in. At least mine doesn’t.

Some authors need that structure and that is great for them. Me, I needed freedom. And I’m willing to bet a lot of others need it too.

Once I realized that, I went back and finished Immortalis Carpe Noctem in a short time and started the crit and revision process. It was that “relaxing” and allowing my muse to speak without worry that helped me to finish my story.

So now, whenever I see a new writer saying, “Oh, I can’t write. It’s too hard.” I tell them the same thing. Just relax. Don’t worry about the end result. Get your story on paper the way you want it. After that, you can worry about “fixing” things. If you can’t get past the initial draft, you will never finish it and make your self frustrated.

Author Spotlight with S.P. Grogan (Quest Mystery inside)

K.S.  Welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have another Las Vegas local here! Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. 

S.P.G. Thank you, Katie. I'm Stephen Grogan, and my current mystery is called "Captain Cooked".

I have been writing at a very early age; creative writing classes in high school and college. A fellowship in playwriting in college.  Stints in public relations writing proposals, and ten years as an editor for an entertainment magazine.  About ten years ago I started writing fiction. My first manuscript sits in a drawer, but my second, Vegas Die, was published, followed this month by my second, Captain Cooked.


K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

S.P.G. Not that I am old, but I won $25 in a high school writing contest. My theme was a take-off of a popular rock band at the time, called the Beatles.  In college I took a summer creative writing course at Harvard, and got an A- in the course and on my final paper, a short story on the death of my grandmother. Should have gone the way of Stephen King.


K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

S.P.G. In grade school, you got points for the number of books you read, and I always won. Reading became an addiction, and I even took speed reading courses.  As for my first manuscript, I wrote about what I knew, at that time was casino gaming in the Rocky Mountains. This is where I developed my concept of Quest Mystery, that is, hiding a real prize and then hiding clues in the story, where they are seamless in the plot, and you have to go back and look hard.

K.S.  What genre do you write?  

S.P.G. Mystery slash Thriller, with a little bit of struggling romance thrown in.


K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

S.P.G. Again, I think reading and being captured by a story.  There is no shame in trying to create your style my mimic of your favorite author.  As to my favorite, I like all sorts, still tied to the adventure style with a lot of historical background.  I note writers who are good show they are experts in several subjects when they do plotting. That impresses me.


K.S.  What does your family think of your writing? 

S.P.G. So, far so good. I have creative children, and a multi-talented wife.


K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?

S.P.G. That it is very difficult, rewriting essential, and you have to harden yourself to rejection. I do booksignings at the airport occasionally, which keeps me humble.  Finally, ego aside,
I like what I have written. Sometimes I will re-read one of my stories and find it an enjoyment.


K.S.  What inspires you? 

S.P.G. Other peoples’ creativity.


K.S.  Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?

S.P.G. Everything can be found at.

www.CaptainCooked.com


ALL SHE WANTED—A QUIET BEACH WHERE SHE COULD GO TOPLESS...

...NOT TO BE. Videographer Madison Merlot Dayne arrived on the Big Island to shoot the HDTV of her culinary father's popular television food show, "Insatiable Delights". From her arrival on, Madison and her father are caught up trying to discover who may have poisoned a revered Hawaiian singing star. Her working vacation involves riots, suspicious accidents, earthquakes, flowing lava, dangerous ancient Hawaiian war weapons-and a real 'cliff hanger'. Madison is likewise having men problems. She desires island romance but not prepared for three men in her life...at the same time. And there is the mystery of the boiling cauldron. Will Madison get off the island alive?

Captain Cooked is a foodie travel mystery, featuring special recipes from the top restaurants and chefs on the Big Island of Hawai'i. www.CaptainCooked.com

Captain Cooked is a Quest Mystery involving GPS; a real shark tooth war club geo-cached (hidden) somewhere on the Big Island and when discovered can be redeemed for a cash prize. The clues are in the book! www.QuestMystery.com

Read Captain Cooked as a travel adventure, a mystery of unusual murders, a cookbook, and a treasure hunt. A poi-packed mystery, fast-paced and delectable!


K.S.  Where can we buy your novel?  

S.P.G. Amazon. Kindle.  Online through Borders and Barnes and Noble.  Most independent bookstores can order it.


In order to promote my books, I have a radio show in Las Vegas. KLAV 1230 AM. But you can hear archives at www.GrogansTavern.com.  I interview authors each week.



K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit? 

S.P.G. Captain Cooked has just been released to favorable comments. Visit: www.CaptainCooked.com   You can order a signed book at discount through this site with the publisher.

See my book trailer at You Tube, search “Captain Cooked”.


K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

S.P.G. I run into a lot of people who say they have a book in them, but haven’t started it. Start. Start writing. Set aside time. Discipline yourself to write something daily. Don’t be afraid of re-writing. Join writers groups, attend conferences, read books on how to publish, find an agent, etc.  When you finish one book, start the next. Don’t let time interrupt a continuing effort. And good luck.

Author Spotlight with Jess C Scott!


K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself.

JCS Thanks for having me! I’m an author/artist/non-conformist (and English/Business senior at Adams State College). I’m currently getting ready to publish the first book in a contemporary/multicultural YA “seven deadly sins” series. I’m aiming to have it out on the market by Fall 2010.

K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

JCS Every single one of my stories is a blend of fact and fiction. It just doesn’t feel ‘right’ otherwise.

K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

JCS It sounds clichéd, but I think the realization first hit me when I completed my first story at around 3 or 4 years old (it was a short story titled, “The Robbers”—I illustrated the cover too). I think I enjoyed the whole ‘escapism’ of it all…I still do, to this day.

K.S.  What genre do you write?

JCS I write a range of genres, though they mostly fall under the main category of “contemporary fiction.” When you break it down, I write the following genres: mainstream/literary fiction, experimental fiction, new media, erotic fiction, paranormal romance, GLBT, young adult fiction, contemporary romance, multicultural fiction, speculative/fantasy, urban fantasy, offbeat fiction, poetry.

K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

JCS Edgar Allan Poe. I discovered his work when I was sixteen years old. I was rather listless and aimless (though I didn’t want to be) at the time. His writing made me remember why I like reading/writing/the written word so much in the first place.

K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

JCS My family doesn’t really have the time to read novels (they’re all entrepreneurs!), but they are supportive nonetheless, and encourage me to create both mainstream and alternative work (I started off with the latter, but would like to see how my upcoming mainstream work is received).

K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book?

JCS I learned that indie publishing is a model which offers speed and efficiency—I’m glad I went ahead and tried it out. The combination allows me business and creative control, which would be greatly compromised if my sole aim was to be traditionally published.

K.S.  What inspired you to write your novel?

JCS I wanted to write an erotic short story collection before I turned 25 (I’ll turn 24 this September), and I’d been wanting to write a story about an incubus for along time. My erotic short story collection, 4:Play, ended up crossing many genres (including paranormal romance). The Devilin Fey is kind of like “the background material” I created for my own world of incubi—I’m likely to refer to certain elements through this novella for an upcoming dark urban fantasy series I am about to start planning/outlining soon.

K.S.  Can you tell us a little about your novel?
JCS
BOOK DESCRIPTION: The Devilin Fey is a novella of two stories, featuring an incubus and succubus. Story #1 features a demure young woman unleashing the “devil in” her, through the intimacy with an incubus. Story #2 features a voyeuristic succubus driven by jealousy and a dangerous fixation.

EXCERPT:

There, on the rocks, was a figure—my real stranger. I had no proof, no validation. The blood in my veins knew he was the one.

He had spiked short hair on the top, a soft kind of faux hawk. Some sleek, longer strands reached the base of his neck.

He was also shirtless, but the thing that caught my attention, that made me do a double-take, was what appeared to be a pair of wings on this pale figure’s back. A pair of ashen-grey, draconic wings. They came up slightly over his shoulders, and the tips were folded across the small of his back.

It was a beautiful night. The waves were gently washing in upon the shore. And there this pristine figure calmly sat.

K.S.  Where can we find your novel?
JCS
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jess-C-Scott/e/B002FBJLZ2
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jesscscott
K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?
JCS
www.jesscscott.com (Website)
www.jesscscott.wordpress.com/posts (Blog)
http://www.google.com/profiles/missfey (Google Profile)

K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

JCS Write everyday. Stay true to yourself. Don’t be deterred by what others say you should do/be.

Vampire News

You knew it had to happen. With all the other spoof movies being made, someone would eventually take on the Twilight series.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1666186/

Coming in August, Vampires Suck.

Written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the guys behind: "Date Movie," "Epic Movie" and "Disaster Movie."

Check out the trailer below.



Virtual Tour - House of Immortal Pleasures



I'm hitting the virtual road again on a virtual tour hosted by the wonderful people at Pump Up Your Book.  Join me as I spread the word about my newest Paranormal Erotic Novella, 
House of Immortal Pleasures.
 
 
TODAY July 6
Guest post at Hollywood Gossip


July 7
Book Review at Hollywood Gossip

July 8
Interview at Paperback Writer

July 9
Guest post at Review From Here

July 12

July 13
Spotlighted at The Book Connection

July 14
Guest post at Karissa’s Books

July 15
Book Review at Long Beach Examiner
Interview at Book Marketing Buzz

July 16
Review at One Book Bum

Author Spotlight with Sindee Lynn

K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. 

S.L. Thank you for having me. I am so grateful to Brandi and you for giving me this opportunity to reach more potential readers.

Well my name is Sindee Lynn and I grew up in a small town in Virginia. Growing up there wasn’t a lot to do unless you had access to a car so that’s really when my love of reading began. I have an aunt who used to bring me bags of Harlequin Romance novels when she came to visit- back then they had the almost cartoon-like characters on them. Reading became my escape. And man did I become a world class traveller. By the time I turned 14 I had been to Italy, France, Australia, several Mediterranean Islands and to almost every state in the US and Canada. Those books are still at my childhood home today on a shelf my uncle had to build for them because he was tired of them being all over the house... lol. Today I work full time, take care of a very active teenage daughter all while trying to further my writing career. Things can get hectic to say the least. 

K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

S.L.  I don’t think I have any real quirks. I mean I’m sure that at 12:30 am everyone has a fresh pot of coffee brewing in their kitchen while their walking around talking to themselves trying to work through a tough scene. Or have that special play list with nothing but rap music on it for when you start working on those steamy love scenes. Lol… So no I don’t think I have any interesting quirks.

K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

S.L.  Probably at 13 because that’s when I sat down and decided I was tired of just reading books I wanted to write them too. I wish I could locate that notebook now. It’s probably got my NY Times Bestseller in it… The desire to start writing comes from wanting to give others what I gained from reading. Reading has always been an escape for me. It was my way of seeing the rest of the world while lying in my bedroom. Even now it’s my way of getting away when I can’t just hop on a plane for that much needed vacation. I want to give people a getaway for a reasonable price … lol… for the price of a paperback or an e-book you can escape to some other place. It’s the cheapest vacation going. 

K.S.  What genre do you write?

S.L.  That’s tricky because I write in several different genres but I have a love of 2 in particular: paranormal and interracial. If I had to choose I would have to go with paranormal because let’s just face it there’s just something sexy about creatures of the night.

K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

S.L.  There are 2 authors who come to mind immediately for me as far as inspiration goes – 1 who started it all off - Anne Rice and her Lestat series. I mean whoever would have thought you could love someone who kills to survive – that’s where my love of vampires all began for me. Over the next several years vampires began to slowly begin slipping into my romance novels so I was in heaven and then I picked up a book by Sherrilyn Kenyon (smh). When I read it it was in a series about shifters and it was ne of four short stories but that was all it took. I was hooked and when I discovered her Dark Hunter Series – let’s just say I have been a fan ever since. The world she has created with that series is nothing short of amazing to me. Every time I pick up one of her books I become immersed in their world and that’s what I want my readers to experience.

K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

S.L.  Lol… imagine if you can a small town country girl telling people at the age of 13 she wanted to write romance novels for harlequin… too funny. I don’t think anyone believed me. I don’t think I believed it could ever happen. Well I might not be at harlequin, just yet, but I am definitely on my way. I waited until my first book cover was on my publisher’s website to show my dad. He just kept coming back to it and looking at it. It was great. I think they are finally all on board with this being my chosen career path.

K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book?

S.L.  It was probably more so things about myself than about what I was writing. I think it finally hit me that I could do this. I could create something people wanted to pay money for and miracle of miracles I’m good at it.

K.S.  What inspired you to write your novel?

S.L.  I wanted to see if I could put a new spin on it. I mean there are so many vampire romance novels out there nowadays – there’s almost a separate isle for them at the book stores now but I wanted mine to be different. And I think I succeeded and it all started a simple question – If I were a vampire what would the perfect world look like. The first thing that came to mind was never having to hunt for food. So that started me thinking what if humans just volunteered for the job. Where would they go? Would there be an official process in place? And it just kept going from there. 

K.S.  Can you tell us a little about your novel?

Synopsis
Four years ago Jenna James signed up for the donor database with fanciful thoughts of lying in the arms of a vampire. Now four years later, she finds herself wishing she had never heard it. How depressing is it to think not even a vampire will have sex with you to survive? Feeling lower than she has in ages, Jenna is convinced she’s finally ready to remove her name from the list. That is until she opens her door to find her fantasy standing on the other side.

Syrian Roskonovich is next in line to be the king of vampires. But nothing in his years of training could have prepared him for the betrayal of his blood brother and his donor. It’s been months since he’s properly fed, living only on the synthetic blood his people create when he finds himself in a strange city holding on to his sanity by a thread. His only hope is in the database he helped bring to life but has failed him in the past.

Snippet of Jenna’s first meeting with Syrian….

Ding Dong…..

Jenna looked up from drying her hair. Who could that be? No one ever just dropped by her apartment. She headed towards the door slowly, trying to think if she’d made plans with Nehri and had forgotten. Then she remembered Nehri had a date tonight. She recalled trying to be excited for her earlier in the week when she’d first told her. Passing a mirror on the way to the front door, Jenna half expected to see her skin color changed to green. She blew out a breath of disgust. She was happy for her best friend. Honestly she was. But Nehri was so damned gorgeous with a perfect size six body that never changed no matter how many chili cheese dogs with extra chili and cheese she consumed. While she on the other hand, all she had to do was look at one and she gained five pounds without any of the pleasure of consumption.

Ding Dong …..

Hastening her step, Jenna decided it had to be someone who just had the wrong door or something. Glancing through her peep hole, she blinked several times before stepping away from the door, her hand to her pounding heart. She cautiously stepped back to the door and took another look. Though her view was distorted she could tell two things. The man on the other side of her door was absolutely gorgeous and he was most certainly at the wrong door.

Ding Dong ….

Startled she jumped back. Her heart threatened to beat out of her chest. Glancing down at the ratty bathrobe she wore her face flamed with embarrassment. Nervous fingers ran through her still damp hair but were met with tangles. She tried to tell herself it didn’t matter because he wasn’t looking for her anyway but it still didn’t keep her from wishing she’d had an opportunity to attempt to comb her long locks. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door to find herself staring at a wall of muscled chest. Slowly her gaze slid up until she met the silvery gaze of the man staring down at her. Instantly she knew he was not human.
“Are you Jenna Marie James?”

Unprepared for the effects his voice would have on her Jenna found herself unable to respond to his question. She could only stand there, staring up at him. Her brain had apparently taken a temporary leave as it tried to wrap itself around the fact that standing before her was her most secret of fantasies and he was asking for her.

“Excuse me but are you Jenna Marie James,” he repeated.

Coming out of her trance enough to nod her head, Jenna stepped back to allow him entry into her apartment.

K.S.  Where can we find your novel?

S.L. You can purchase my novel from several different places.. naturally from my publisher’s website in either print or e-book format at www.passionatewriterspublishing.com, www.amazon.com, as well as www.barnesandnoble.com.

K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

S.L. I have recently begun working on my website and hope to have it up and running shortly so currently the only way to reach me is via Facebook - you can look me up by my real name: Cynthia Yates, Richmond, VA or email: sindeelynn@yahoo.com.

K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

S.L. I guess the best piece of advice I can offer is also the hardest to follow sometimes and that’s not to give up on your dream. I know it sounds corny but I am living proof. I grew up in a small town called Blackstone, Va – look it up on a map… lol. Who would have thought I would be on a virtual book tour for a book I wrote and got published and people are buying. It’s surreal. And my last piece of advice would be to find those friends or family members who won’t allow you to give up on yourself and what you want to do. Surround yourself with them. Draw off of their energy when you don’t know if you can go on. They won’t let you down.