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Interview with Ashley Goss

51RXrxTRjOL._SY346_Today’s interview is with an author who likes to dabble all over when it comes to genre and who’s latest novel devels into a world that (hopefully) never go away, vampires! Welcome, Ashley Goss! 

What can you tell us about “Rise of the Blood Lust?”

Rise of the Blood Lust is a trilogy which starts out in 1990. It comes to show how the vampires species were made and how it effected, at first, the state of Kentucky. It shows the evil side of vampirism as well as the good side. Yes, there is a good side.

We’re friends on Facebook, so I had the privilege to kind of get a glimpse of how Rise of the Bloodlust came to be, but what was the FIRST thing that sparked the book into being?

Honestly, it came to me in a dream and I’ve been dreaming every night of more and more things to add to it. Pretty soon, I had a rough draft of a first book that I never would have imagined myself writing in the first place, but that’s why I enjoy writing. I get to use my imagination.

When do you begin writing?

Even as a young child I would conjure up stories with my imagination, sharing them with anyone who was around to listen. I’ve developed my storytelling and writing quite a bit since then, but the essence of creativity and entertainment I began with as a kid has remained a major influence on my work. My blazing passion for writing has consumed me the last couple of years. I’ve been writing professionally since 2015 and have no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

You normally write contemporary-set fiction right? Was it hard to switch genres for you?

Honestly, it was very hard. So many things change once you start writing in the past. You must do research about the time period you are writing so that everything matches. Was it normal to visit a bar back then? Was it normal to have a mom and pop shop on Main Street? It’s the little things that you don’t want to be wrong. If it is then it will throw off the reader.

What as one of the biggest differences you noticed in writing fantasy as opposed to your usual fiction?

You have to create the worlds. You have to help the reader picture the time period in their heads. Things are better explained in written in a fantasy novel. Description is needed.

What’s to come next in the Rise series? What sort of things do readers have to look forward to? Without giving us any spoilers, of course. 😉

Well, with each book we go further into time. The next book will be set in present time. The next book will enhance the romance between two characters as well as tear many apart. However, Book 2: Rise of the Blood Wars is going to be different. All the same characters plus adding a new few ones, it will be “bloody.” 😉

Who is your favorite character in Rise of the Blood Lust and why?

This is easy to answer: Jane. Coming from a bad childhood of an abusive father (not that my father was abusive because he would NEVER lay a hand on me) and wanting to go to college to get away from him only to have them both slaughtered. She so young and has her whole life literally ahead of her. She gets thrown into this life and she uses it to fight for humanity. She doesn’t think twice. She’s such a strong character and hands down my favorite.

After the Rise series, do you think you’ll go back to contemporary fiction or stick with fantasy? Maybe write a little bit of both?

Honestly, I plan to dabble in a lot of different genres. I have a half written mystery novel, crime novel and many others. I write whatever comes to mind and which one i have the most passion for at the time. I can say that i have a series that will be about werewolves and witches. Let’s just say, writing in the fantasy genre has really opened my eyes to so many things that I didn’t even think about writing before.

Are there any other mythical creatures you might want to write about in the future if you keep working with fantasy?

Well, I think I answered that in the previous question but yes. I plan to construct a series on Witches and Werewolves. I also plan on doing some novellas from the characters within the Rise Series.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Honestly, I have about twenty half written manuscripts across many genres. As I feel passion for each project I work on that specific one. It’s better when you are in all the way when writing a book. If you aren’t passionate about the book, how can the readers be?

Out of the four books you have published, which do you value the most?

Bound by the Heart. I wrote this book because I wanted to write something that would empower women. This book does deal with physical and emotional abuse. (TRIGGER WARNING) Abuse in any form is heinous but cases are growing each day as far as Domestic Abuse. I just wanted a book that dealt with that. I knew that I wouldn’t sell many copies of this book because of the content but I wrote it for me.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Honestly, when I published my first book, I did. After I published my second book, I learned not to read them. I still want people to leave reviews, of course, this is how other readers determine whether they want to buy the book but I don’t write to make a buttload of money. I write so that I can share my imagination with everyone or anyone who will read my books. Do I think my books are absolutely out of this world? Well the right answer would be yes, but all books aren’t right for every person. What I like to read may not be what you like to read? Therefore, I take reviews with a grain of salt. I do love getting emails from readers or when they sign up for my newsletter to get word on my next release. It inspires me to keep on writing because someone wants to read more.

Curious about Rise of the Blood Lust? Here’s a preview of Chapter 1, read by the author herself! 

My website: www.ashleygoss.com

Twitter: @authorashleyg

Facebook: AuthorAshleyGoss

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Interview with Robert Eggelton

RarityHello! As December 25th draws closer and it comes time to release the second Faerie Court Chronicles book, I thought I share the love and feature some other great authors from around the net. Our first guest is an author that pretty much set the bar for me when it comes to indie books with his smart writing, brilliant story, and original take on the modern fairy tale: Robert Eggleton, author of Rarity from the Hollow.

Thanks, Tay, for inviting me to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel.

 

First, for those who haven’t read my review of your book, could you give us a basic idea of what it’s about?

You wrote a great book review of my novel and I hope that everybody reads it. Lacy Dawn begins the story as an eleven year old victim of child maltreatment. Her father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the Hollow is hard. But, she has one advantage – an android named DotCom (a recurring pun) was inserted into her life and works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the Universe.

To accomplish her mission, Lacy assembles a team – the android who had been going through a gradual humanization process, the increasingly functional parents, the ghost of her best friend, a marijuana growing neighbor who has Bipolar Disorder, and the family mutt, the only member of the team with enough natural empathy to communicate with a vile enemy. Sensitizing readers to victimization, early tragedy in the story feeds and amplifies subsequent comedy and satire during zany trips to planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall and the center of economic governance of the universe.

Rarity from the Hollow is an adult literary novel with a social science fiction backdrop. The content addresses social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder – capitalism, and touches on the role of Jesus. “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.” It’s up to readers to decide which scenes are dissociative as a result of Lacy’s severe traumas and which scenes are pure fantasy and science fiction. I hope that readers take away the sense that action empowers one to overcome any real or imagined tragedy.

In addition to your review, another review of my novel that I found particularly astute was by Awesome Indies. I believe that it will give your readers a good overview: “a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/

The novel was also the first, perhaps the only, science fiction adventure to specifically predict the rise of Donald Trump to political power – parody with no political advocacy one side or any other. Readers find out how Lacy convinced Mr. Rump (Bernie Sanders) to help talk Mr. Prump (Donald Trump) into saving the universe. The allegory includes pressing issues that are being debated today, including illegal immigration and the refuge crisis, extreme capitalism / consumerism vs. domestic spending for social supports; complicated U.S. tax codes, and sexual harassment. Mr. Prump in the story was a projection of Donald Trump based on the TV show, The Apprentice. The counterpart, Mr. Rump, was based on my understanding of positions held by Bernie Sanders. Parts of the negotiations in the story occur in the only high rise on Shptiludrp, easily identifiable as Trump Tower.

Rarity deals with some very real, very heavy material. What made you want to tackle these issues through science-fiction rather than contemporary fiction?

I selected the SF/F backdrop for this story because it was the best fit by process of elimination. The novel also has elements of horror, mystery, romance, magical realism, self-help, and thriller. It is not a good example of the historical or western genres, although many of the social issues addressed in the story have been present throughout history, including in the Wild West.

I felt that the straight literary, biographical, nonfiction genres wouldn’t work because the story would have been so depressing that only the most determined would have finished it. The story had to be hopeful. I wanted it to inspire survivors of child maltreatment toward competitiveness within our existing economic structures, instead of folks using past victimization as an excuse for inactivity. I didn’t think that anybody would bite on the theme of a knight on a white stallion galloping off a hillside to swoop victims into safety, like in the traditional romance genre. That almost never actually happens in real life, so that genre was too unrealistic as the primary. There was already enough horror in the story, so that genre was out too. What could be more horrific than child abuse?

The protagonist and her traumatized teammates needed fantastical elements to achieve empowerment. But, as in life, one cannot overcome barriers to the pursuit of happiness by simply imagining them away. That’s where the science fiction came into play. It provided a power source. I tied the science fiction to capitalism because in today’s reality it will take significant financial investment by benefactors to significantly improve the welfare of children in the world. Our governments are unlikely to do so in the near future because of the politics, such as the upcoming tax statute that cuts domestic spending and which could hurt local efforts to prevent child maltreatment. Since half of author proceeds are donated to a nonprofit child welfare agency, I wanted to produce something that would be fun to read and hopefully sell.

What was the biggest challenge while you were writing the book?

Writing comes easy for me. The hardest scene to write was the third, the only actual depiction of physical domestic violence, and even in this scene nobody was seriously injured. Tears blurred my vision of the monitor every time that I reworked the scene.

By far, the biggest challenge has been the promotion of the novel. I’m a retired children’s psychotherapist and had no ideas about book marketing when I was published. Neither I, nor the small press that published Rarity from the Hollow, have funds to advertise it, so I’ve spent many hours on the internet trying to generate interest in my novel.

In the Lacy Dawn universe, who is your favorite character? Why?

I have a love / hate relationship with each of the flawed characters in Rarity from the Hollow, except for Brownie, the mutt. He’s my favorite, especially as he moved toward humanization in the story, because of his strong empathy skills and his sense of humor.

When I first received a copy of Rarity to review, I took a glimpse at the Amazon reviews for the book, like I do with most titles I review, and this one definitely has one of the most diverse reactions I’ve seen. What are the most common things that people like about the book? What are the most common things they don’t like? Why do you think that is?

Almost all of the reviews of Rarity from the Hollow on Amazon were posted by independent book bloggers. Also like you, I had no prior relationship when requesting a book review. This speaks highly as to the objectivity of the reviews of my book, but on the other hand, it’s disappointing that readers other than book reviewers have not been posting reviews. Eighty percent of the reviews are very positive; some of them are glowing praise. Ten percent are critical.

One of the most common themes of the positive reviews appears to be that my novel is unique in contrast to mainstream cookie-cutter releases. Some of these reviewers focused upon the realism, while others seemed impressed with the satire. Only one, a customer review, hit the political parody square on the head http://amzn.to/2xTqKqP), but this is not surprising as some of the reviews were written before Donald Trump and the emerging issues became household topics.

Here’s an excerpt of one review that is not on Amazon but which I believe illustrates my general analysis of the positive reviews that are posted there: “…Full of cranky characters and crazy situations, Rarity from the Hollow sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved….” https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/rarity-from-the-hollow

Of the ten critical reviews, frankly, two of them are questionable. One of these reviewers stated that she didn’t like war stories, but there is no war in the novel. The only thing gunshot is a Barbie doll, a metaphor of the impact of poverty on the self-esteem of children. The other questionable review was posted by a blogger that I emailed the novel one evening and then discovered her review on Amazon the next morning. I apologize if I sound critical of these two critical reviews. So, let me get off the hook here by saying that the most common theme of critical review was “it’s not my cup of tea.” I recommend that potential readers check them out and decide if they are helpful reviews or not when making a decision on what to read next. One review of my novel was the most critical review of any book that I’ve ever read in my life. I can’t explain that one.

I’ve reviewed two editions of the book. What was the biggest factor in your decision to go back and tweak the story a bit?

The first edition of Rarity from the Hollow that you reviewed had a formatting error. The problem was discovered after its release. The italics for the internal dialogue (the thoughts of the characters) had been inadvertently left off in the final typesetting. We didn’t discover the problem until it was called to our attention as a mention in an otherwise glowing review, and then by another glowing review in Tales of the Talisman Magazine. The missing italics caused a problem with attribution – who was thinking what – and that resulted in head hopping for some readers. This problem was fixed in the next edition that you reviewed.

I take all reviews seriously. Based on comments in reviews, especially the otherwise very positive four star reviews, the connection between the tragedy and the comedy was strengthened with a new closing line that reached emotional closure of Lacy’s maltreatment. The sexual references were toned down a little. Actually, there are no sex scenes in the novel and Lacy is an old-fashioned traditional role model of virtue for girls because she vowed not to have sex for the first time until after she was married and did not even experience her first real kiss by age fourteen when the story ends. But, some of the punch lines appeared to be a bit much for some reviewers. There were a couple of typos, etc., but otherwise it’s the same story with not much revision.

Can you tell us what’s next for Lacy Dawn and her family?

I’m hopeful. After Christmas, the publisher is going to make the next deposit of author proceeds into the nonprofit agency’s account for the prevention of child maltreatment. Millions of American children will spend this holiday in temporary shelters. Having once been the director of emergency children’s shelters in West Virginia, it is still heartbreaking to think about children not having a “real” family during Christmas. I remember the faces, the smiles and thank yous for the presents from staff, but….

Depending on this outcome, I will either continue the Lacy Dawn Adventures project or I will return to writing for my own enjoyment. Self-promotion has been very difficult and a barrier to my writing interests because it takes so much time and energy. I’m not sure that I have a strong aptitude for marketing. One of my short stories was published in a magazine recently (part two of the story will be in the next edition). Writing it was the most fun that I’ve had in too long a time. It’s free if your readers want to check it out: “Stainless” in Far Horizons Magazine https://farhorizonsmagazine.wordpress.com.

Do you have any other books or series in the works currently?

Yes, the next Lacy Dawn Adventure is Ivy. I thought that it was ready for final editing a while back, but I got so wrapped up in self-promotion of Rarity that based on my experience, I’ve decided to tweak it again. It is another adult literary adventure with a science fiction backdrop. The story is about an almost forgotten alien invasion of Earth set in an almost forgotten abandoned small town filled with disabled Veterans. The compelling question of the story is how far will a child go to save her parent from drug addition. It was inspired by the fact that West Virginia has the highest opioid overdose death rate in the nation.

Thanks for joining me today, Robert! 

Thanks, Tay, for this wonderful opportunity to tell your readers about my fiction. If any of your readers have questions or comments, there is a link to my personal email on: http://www.lacydawnadventures.com

Purchase links:

https://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton/dp/190713395X/

http://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton-ebook/dp/B017REIA44

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rarity-from-the-hollow-robert-eggleton/1118420669#productInfoTabs

http://www.doghornpublishing.com/wordpress/books/rarity-from-the-hollow 

Public Author Contacts:

http://www.lacydawnadventures.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32993259-rarity-from-the-hollow

https://www.facebook.com/Lacy-Dawn-Adventures-573354432693864/

https://twitter.com/roberteggleton1

https://plus.google.com/b/108662084126982201049/108662084126982201049/posts

https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-eggleton-909b154b?trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile_pic

About the author:

Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. Locally, he is best known for his nonfiction about children’s programs and issues, much of which was published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from1982 through 1997. Today, he is a retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome maltreatment and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines. Author proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment. http://www.childhswv.org/

5 Reasons Claire and Jamie are Relationship (Writer) Goals

I have a confession to make before we get started: I hardly ever watch TV.

Walking Dead and Doctor Who were pretty much it for a long time, despite how desperately my girlfriend tries to get me on board with her shows. It’s not that I don’t like TV. I just have trouble focusing on something I have to leave and come back to repeatedly. I’ve even fallen off the Walking Dead and Doctor Who band wagons (all though Bill makes me want to get back on the Doctor Who one).

And yet, I was counting down the episodes and watching them religiously until Jamie and Claire Frazer were reunited .

When I first started watching the show I figured I’d enjoy it for the history and action while just tolerating the romance, but I was wrong. I’m as invested in Jamie and Claire as I am the other fantastically written elements of the show (I can rave about those in another blog post). I’m not usually this invested in romance-heavy stories, so I thought, since my favorite TV couple is reuniting, it would be a good time to break down what makes them so great when so many other relationships in the romance genre fall flat.

1. Both Characters Have Strong Individual Identities

Claire is a ex-combat nurse looking to settle down after the war. She’s as smart and quick-thinking as she is compassionate and brave, but she sometimes leans too strongly on her own understanding of how the world works, which gets her into trouble in a world far more different from her own than she expects.

Jamie is a Jacobite rebel fighting for Scottish independence and trying his best to navigate to the social-political landscape of his time. He can be stubborn and too quick to act at times, but is smart and open minded enough to listen when it’s important, even at great sacrifice to himself. Also he’s got great hair.

Both Claire and Jamie stand alone as compelling, sympathetic characters, so no matter who they’re with, they’re great to watch and when they’re together, they play off each other’s well developed strengths and weaknesses to be an awesome power couple. Given how much they have to overcome together, they both need that strength.

 

2. Their Happy Ending Isn’t Set in Stone (pun possibly intended)

If you’ve followed the story up to the point, then you know what Jamie and Claire are going through and where they relationship lies, but for entirety of seasons one and two, we had no idea. We didn’t know if Claire was going to stay and what would compel her to do so, the same for if she were to go back to her time.

One reason I don’t follow a lot of romance-centered stories is that you can see the happily ever after from the front page. With Jamie and Claire,  there’s too many variables at play, both on a personal and greater narrative level, so we have to watch to see what will happen to them.

 

3. They’re Part of Something Bigger

Whether it’s trying to thwart the British or gather support for the Jacobite cause in France, Jamie and Claire have a lot on their plate and they have to work together to get through it. We want to see them succeed not only because we care about them as characters, but because we come to care about everyone they know and we feel the weight of what a victory, or a defeat, would mean for them. We also know these larger conflicts have a direct impact on their relationship, meaning that, if we want to see Jame and Claire get their happily ever after, we have little choice but to be invested in everything that goes on around them.

 

4. They Both Mess Up

Like all real people, both Jamie and Claire don’t always handle things in the best way. They get things wrong, whether due to misunderstanding or acting out in anger. They hurt each other on accident and like real couples, sometimes you wonder if they’ll recover from what’s happened and you breath a sigh of relief when they do. It makes them all the more sympathetic because they’re believable, both in the source of their conflict and they way they both handle it, right or wrong. And in the end, they’re always stronger for it, which leads me to my last point.

 

5. They Challenge Each Other

Like I mentioned above, Jamie and Claire compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses perfectly. Jamie has to lean on Claire’s knowledge of the future at times, no matter how crazy it sounds that his wife is from another time. In turn, Claire has to learn to navigate a time and culture very different from her own, meaning she has to in turn lean on Jamie to get by, and even for her personal safety, on occasion. Such trust and vulnerability, alongside the fact that they’re from two different worlds, forces both of them into situations where they have to grow as people, making them a more interesting couple as well as more interesting individual characters. And with them FINALLY coming back together after such a long time, we get to see them change and grow together as they set out on another adventure.

 

What about you? What makes Jamie and Claire so enjoyable to watch? What about the show overall? Leave a comment and lets talk!

 

Image owned by Starz.

Rose Petal Graves by Olivia Wildenstein (A Book Review)

Plot: 3/5       Characters: 3/5       Writing: 3/5       Entertainment: 3/5       World Building: 3/5

Rose Petal GravesRose Petal Graves brings a new twist to the fairy lore we all know, but its slow, heavy-handed world building and lack-luster faerie characters hold it back from being anything great.

The small town of Rowan has a rich and mysterious history filled with legends about faeries and those who hunt them. For nineteen-year-old Catori, the death of her mother means all those legends are coming to life and demanding she chose a side. With only an ancient casket filled with rose petals and a book of Native American stories to guide her, Catori must find the answers that her mother was looking for before anyone else dies.

I must admit that Wildenstein has a gift for breathing life into places and people that only exist in the imagination. The town of Rowan is a well-fleshed out, believable and homey and the people who reside there are equally so. Catori’s relationships with her parents are heart-felt and genuine, which is rare for YA and NA (and I think Rose Petal Graves could fit in either category), which I’ve always found odd since parents still play such an important and complicated role at that point in peoples’ lives. If as much heart had gone into the magical elements of the story, Rose Petal Graves would have a fairly strong book rather than simply “okay.”

While I appreciate Wildenstein’s attempt to work outside the usual faerie lore, the huge emphasis on an over-complicated back story slows the book down immensely. The conflict is interesting enough without info dumping every legend and story relating to it in rapid succession. The constant use of borrowed words for things that already exist in English hurts the book as well. While a few of them work for places and things new to Catori’s word, Wildenstein really could have left “mate” as “mate” and “legend” as “legend.” Making a reader keep track of words for concepts they’re already familiar with doesn’t really add to the fantasy experience. It just makes them pause and retrace where they heard the word, which gets old quite fast.

The fantastical characters themselves aren’t much better since their personalities are mostly made of exposition, being attractive, and, if they’re lucky, being attracted to Catori for reasons that don’t really lend themselves to potentially interesting relationships. If more of the book had been dedicated to developing Ace, Cruz, Lily, and Kajika as people rather than fountains of information, they and their world could have stood apart from the YA/NA urban fantasy crowd. As is, they all feel like cut outs of all the other mysteriously attractive otherworldly beings we’ve seen before.

So, if you want an easy read and like faeries, I guess Rose Petal Graves is okay. There’s definitely worse urban fantasy titles out there, which is why Rose Petal Grave gets three stars, but if you’re looking for something more exciting with more original characters, it might be best to look elsewhere.

5 Ways to Start Writing Now. Like, Right Now.

For better or for worse, I belong to a handful of writer groups on Facebook. Every once in a blue moon I’ll ask a question, but I mostly lurk among the more interesting ones and give a few tips or tricks if I have a bit of insight into a particular topic. One of the questions that I always, with out fail, come rain or shine, scroll over is this:

I have an idea, but I don’t know where to start. How do start writing this book?

Better question: How do you answer that in a Facebook comment? There’s so many styles and approaches (not to mention all the commentators clamoring to have the right answer), that I never know where to start. Maybe it’s because I tend to overthink things, but that’s a whole lot of answer for not a lot of words. It is for me anyway.

It is, however, still a valid question and a daunting one at that, so I put together five simple, flexible, (hopefully) no stress ways to get working on that project clamoring to get out of your head and onto paper.

1. Make an Outline

I personally think outlining has gotten a bad rep in the writing world. It’s often seen as being too structured and too restrictive when I’ve often found the opposite to be true. An outline is whatever you want it to be. It can be paragraphs, one-line chapter summaries, character interviews, whatever you want. I’m personally a fan of the Snowflake Method, created by Randy Ingermanson. It’s quite a detailed method, but long story short (*bada* *tsu*), you write a few statements about your story, then build on them until you have a full picture from start to finish. A key part of that picture for me is writing every chapter on a sticky note so I can edit/rearrange events before getting them all down.

Outline
Pretty sure my roommate thinks I’m a conspiracy theorist. 

If the Snowflake Method isn’t your cup of tea, there’s hundreds upon thousands of outline formulas that might work. I also really like Beat Sheets, for example. Or you could always make up your own. Like I said, outlines are whatever you want time to be. 🙂

2. Write the Middle Scene First

No one ever said you had to write chapter one first when writing a novel. Well, I’m sure plenty of people do , but no one ever said you had to listen to them. If all you’ve got to go on is a scene or two and a handful of characters, then work with it. Get it on paper or on your computer screen. Pretty soon all sorts of questions and plot threads will start popping up. What leads up to this scene? Why do these characters feel the way they do? Who else knows about what’s going on and what are they going to do about it? What did they do before? Now you’re off and running with the rest of your novel!

 

3. Study Books You Love

Maybe the best way for you to begin your book is to look at one that’s already ended. Go through someone of your favorite books and see how they start their stories. How do they introduce characters? What sort of events are you dropped into on the very first page?

In the Darkest Part of the Forest
Teach me your ways! *swoons*

For me, Holly Black’s In the Darkest Part of the Forest had a huge influence on the tone and set up of Portraits of a Faerie Queen. I loved the way you know right from the get go that it’s a dark fairy tale and that readers should be wary of this new town and the surrounding forest. While I my style is a bit more upbeat and simple, I’m still always learning a lot from Miss Black’s work, including how to get a book rolling. I’m sure you could do the same for whatever genre you love to write.

 

 

4. Watch a TV Show in Your Genre

 

I’ve written before about how TV and books don’t necessarily have to be at odds. Figuring out how to start a book is no exception. Just like reading in your chosen genre can have a wealth of insights, so can watching TV in your chosen genre. How do the shows introduce characters and conflict with dialogue? How do they do so with action? Where does one episode start and another begin? Take notes on what you could implement in your writing. Those notes could give you the perfect set up to get your novel going. Not to mention that, like reading in your genre, watching in your genre helps you get a clear intended audience in mind for when your book is all done, so good on you for thinking ahead!

 

5. Get Outside. Go Somewhere. Anywhere.

It might sound counterproductive to leave your desk if you want to get a book going, but getting on your feet will probably get your creative juices flowing. Where does your main character live? Hows is that place similar or different from where you live? Where would the like to go if they were in your shoes? Who would they meet once they get there? The questions and possible plot threads are only limited by how far you want to walk/run/bike/drive/unicycle/whatever you want to do. You’ll also be getting exercise, which we writers often don’t get enough of, so you’ll body will thank you later along with your story.

Downtown
City streets are some of my favorite places to walk. 🙂

Rina’s school, James-Child college, borrows a lot of elements from my old stomping grounds. I spent so much time walking to and from class that the place left a permanent  imprint in my mind. I knew one day I’d have to use it in a story eventually and I’m glad I got to sooner rather than later. The scene where Jocelyn meets Rina at school is one of my favorites in the book.

 

 

 

 


 

These five ways to get writing are only the tip of the creative iceberg. For those of you out there who have been writing for a while, how do you get started? What advice would you give to a writer just starting out? For those newer to the craft, what scares you the most about starting? How did you overcome those fears? Leave a comment below and lets talk!

Interview with Author Tay LaRoi prt 2

Originally hosted by Happily Ever Chapter 

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How do you answer the question “Oh, you’re an author…what do you write?”

I usually say, “Harry Potter-like stuff. There’s magic, but it’s in the real world.” That’s usually enough to satisfy people’s curiosity without them looking at me like I’m crazy, haha.

What does your family think of your writing?

They’re so excited! My mom was basically my editor in high school, so she’s seen all my stuff and has always supported me and my dad is still convinced I’m going to be the next J.K Rowling. He pretends not to hear me when I tell him that’s unlikely. My aunts and uncles are all trying to call dibs on copies already, even though I’ve tried to explain it’s young adult, so they might not enjoy it that much. Still, we’re a big family, so having all of them cheering for me makes me feel incredibly loved.

Tell us about your current work in process and what you’ve got planned for the future.

I’m currently working on the third “Faerie Court Chronicles” book and trying desperately to the world building done for that story I started in high school. The “Faerie Court Chronicles” will have two more books after the one I’m writing now, but I really want that other one done by the time I’m thirty. That’s five years from now, but a lot can happen in five years, especially when you have too write around the type of day job I’m about to start.

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

Get off Facebook, get off Pintrest, sit your butt down, and write. I don’t care how you do it (though I highly advise outlining), just write. I’m not saying you need to get it all down in one day. We’ve all got jobs, kids, and twenty million other commitment, but that book’s completion is up to you and only you. If it’s something you really want to do, you owe it to yourself to set aside some time and at least get started. I swear it gets easier after that (in some ways, at least), but you’ve got to at least start. Do it. I believe in you. 

Also, network, network, network. Get on social media, leave comments on blogs, what ever floats your boat. It’ll pay off in the long run when you’re trying to spread the word about your book and you want to spread the word about books you love along the way.

If you could travel forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?

Forward. Then I’ll come back knowing what I need to prepare for and what I need to do differently so, when the future does finally come, I can be completely ready.

We’ve all got a little voyeurism in us right? If you could be a fly on the wall during an intimate encounter (does not need to be sexual) between two characters, not your own, who would they be?

I’d like to see the moment Arthur and Molly Weasley met. They were my favorite part of the Harry Potter series growing up, especially Molly, and I want to know what first drew them to each other.

If I were snooping around your kitchen and looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?

Not a whole lot, honestly. Left over soup, milk, and some vegetables. I work nights, so I haven’t been cooking much lately and I try not to snack too much.


Purchase “Portraits” wherever you buy paper or electronic books!

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“Portraits” Deleted Scene

Originally hosted on Boy Meets Boy Reviews

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This scene was more seriously overhauled than deleted. In the first draft of “Portraits,” Jocelyn was the dark and brooding Joshua and Rina was Maeve, who honestly didn’t have much of a personality in hindsight. They also knew each other in high school. The book also started on the door step of the biggest conflict, so I had to back it waaaaay up and let Jocelyn’s family live.
Moral of this story: Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water if you realize your project has major problems. Mine for the gems within and build around those. 🙂
***
I inch away from the girl speaking as she leans on the counter and talks to the bartender. She’s so small and simply dressed that I didn’t notice her between the three others. The bartender has her attention, so I take the moment to really look at her.
Her green eyes are familiar and her dark brown hair is in a cute pixie cut that makes my heart skip. Her nose is slightly crooked with a faint scar along the right side. She crashed into a tree and broke it our freshmen year of high school.
It’s Maeve Fischler.
She takes the glass with a smile, but the bulky dwarf on her other side turns in his chair and bumps into Maeve’s arm, splashing the water onto the counter. Looking around for napkins, her eyes rest on me for a second, but I look away, spotting a dispenser within arm’s reach.
“Here,” I mutter, handing it to her with my face still turned away.
“Thanks.” As she mops up the water, I light up another cigarette and keep my body angled away from her. She nudges with me the napkin dispenser. “Can you put this back?”
I do.
“Thank—wait…” She cranes her neck to see my face. I try to swivel out of view, but she’s too fast and my range of movement too limited. Her eyes get wide with recognition and I know I’m busted. “Joshua! Joshua Ricc—”
“Maeve! Fancy meeting you here!” I exclaim, trying to cover up my old name. “What brings you to the Time Between?”
Maeve blinks like I asked the question in Mandarin. “What brings—Joshua, what are you doing here?”
One of the girls yells, “Mae, come on,” in a drunken slur.
Cupping her hands around her mouth, Maeve replies, “I’ll be along in a sec,” and hops into the barstool the redcap vacated. “Joshua, are you real? Am I dreaming?”
“Nope,” I sigh.
“After the accident you just vanished. What happened?”
I should just run. I could leave, drive away and blend back into the city for the three months I have left. These girls aren’t safe here though and I can’t bring myself to abandon them.
“It was a lot to deal with. I needed space,” I say. Someone across the bar wears a Los Angeles T-shirt. “I went to California to live with family.”
Maeve drums her fingers on the counter as I tap the ashes of my cigarette into the tray. “That’s it? No reason why you didn’t say ‘good-bye?’ No reason why you didn’t…” She sighs and runs a hand through her hair. “Okay, so you’re back. How long?”
I shrug.
“Are you staying with friends?”
I shake my head.
“Are you going to college? Working?”
A quick glance reveals that her friends are still fine for now. Just dancing together under the spastic lights and having a good time. If only I could figure out a way to get them to leave that wouldn’t draw attention.
“Helloooo!” Maeve lightly punches my shoulder. “Earth to Joshua! What gives? You disappear for two years and now you won’t say a word?”
“What is there to say, Maeve?” I snap. “My family died, I freaked out, I ran, now I’m back until I form another plan. That’s all.”
Maeve cocks her head and her eyebrows disappear under her bangs, one slightly higher than the other. It’s a silent way she has of saying “bull shit.” I see that she has perfected it in these two years.
“Anyway, that’s all water under the bridge.”
Maeve groans and rolls her eyes. “Your parents and sister dying are not ‘water under the bridge!’”
I ignore her, more to seem apathetic to the faeries around us, and take a drag on the cigarette. “What’s new with you? I imagine you wrapped up your freshman year of college, right? Still pre-med?”
Maeve glares at me. “Joshua—”
Her drunk friend barges in again, grabbing Maeve around the waist and holding her a bit too tightly. “Mae,” she whines, “We brought you so you could learn how to have fun!”
“Yeah, Maeve,” I chime in. “Go have some fun.”
She keeps on glaring as her friend drags her off the stool. “Joshua, seriously. Tell me what’s going on with you.”
“Go dance for one song and we’ll talk,” I say, giving her a little salute. “Promise.”
Her “bull shit” face is back.
“Have I ever lied to you?”
Somehow, that works and she goes off with her friend, looking back at me every few seconds. Soon, she’s so deep in the crowd that she can’t see me.
Too bad the answer was to my question was, “Yes.”

Purchase “Portraits” wherever you buy paper or electronic books!

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The Official “Portraits” Playlist!

Originally hosted on Love Bytes Reviews 

Music always plays a key part in the formation of a book for me, whether it be inspiration for characters, scenes, or conflicts. Here’s a few tracks that either had a huge influence on “Portraits” in its early days or helped me get in the zone while writing certain scenes.

Find You/Beating Heart: Confession time. I liked the “Divergent” soundtrack more than the movie or the book. It was just a great collection of interesting, flavorful, unique songs and I loved it. Zedd’s “Find You” and Ellie Goulding’s “Beat Heart,” conjured up images of two characters finding each other in a dark, seedy, crowded night club and having to run away together to escape some sort of dark force, even though they didn’t know if they’d ever see each other again. Three years later, those characters are now Jocelyn and Rina.

Tam Lin/Beloved Enchantress: Shortly after I stopped playing the “Divergent” soundtrack on repeat I went on a sort of European folk/fantastical/traditional music kick, which lead to the discovery of the Mediaeval Babe’s rendition of “Tam Lin,” which laid the foundation for “Portraits.” The Moon and the Nightspirit’s “Beloved Enchantress” popped up one day on a Spotify radio station while I was working on the first draft and wound up influencing the antagonist quite a bit.

Half Acre: This song stars with “I am holding half an acre torn from a map of Michigan. And folded in this scrap of paper is a land I grew up in,” so naturally I love it. I was very intentional about setting “Portraits” and the rest of the “Faerie Court Chronicles” in Michigan, so it felt important to have a song around that always brought me home.

Lime Tree: Whenever I need to write cute and/or romantic scenes, this is always the first song I play. It’s so relaxing and chill. Perfect for making characters cuddle. 🙂

Deep End: My girlfriend introduced me to Ruelle somewhere between drafts two and three and this song instantly made me think of Jocelyn’s struggle to keep her head above water in the dark depths of the Faerie Realm. When I brought that up to my girlfriend, who had read the most recent version of the manuscript, said she could see it, but it needed to be clearer in the book. I made a few adjustments in my next round of edits and I think it made a world of difference.

Our Solemn Hour: No real story behind this one. I just get SO EXCITED to write fight scenes when Within Temptation comes on! They always sound so much larger than life and there’s so much energy in their sound. They’ve been my go-to artist for action scenes since high school and this track is one of my favorites.

The Times They Are A-Changing: I listen to this one whenever I’m writing a final chapter. It’s a good relaxer after writing the final battle and has a sense that things aren’t really over, just changing.

 

I hope you enjoyed this playlist! Maybe you even found some new music to listen to. 🙂 My inbox is always open and I love to talk about music, so feel free to message or email me any time and we can geek out. I also hope you’re as excited about “Portraits of a Faerie Queen” as I am to share it with you, soundtrack and all.


Purchase “Portraits” wherever you buy paper or electronic books!

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Excerpt from “Portraits of a Faerie Queen” pt. 2

Originally hosted on A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

Hello again! Here is another excerpt from “Portraits” for those of you who want to read more.

 


I’ve never told anyone, but my fear of the dark lasted long into high school. Since striking the deal with the queen, however, the monsters that hide here can’t hurt me. It’s a comforting thought as I walk through the trees.

 

In a small clearing sits a large hill ringed with white mushrooms. Its grass is still lush while the surrounding area lays cloaked in dying grayish-brown. As I climb over it, the energy of the world shifts. The air feels thinner, the colors sharper, and the earth more alive. It feels like a fresh spring morning rather than a bitter autumn night.

 

If that doesn’t tell me I’ve entered Faerie, the houses protruding from trees and rocks certainly do. Lights glow in windows like fireflies and bonfires. Colorful smoke and earthy herbal scents waft down from chimneys built from hollowed branches. Hushed conversations ride the wind, and I can pick up English and a few modern European languages, but I suspect others are older than these woods. The unease in all the voices crosses any barrier made my language. Nervous figures peek outside at the sound of my footsteps. Some are only as big as a human hand and others stand twice as tall as any adult.

 

Members of the queen’s guard patrol the paths. They scowl at me from the slits in their black helmets. Once they spot the painting, they ignore me and look for other people to harass. I’d scowl back, but I’d hate to cause a scene, mainly because that scene would end with me getting my ass kicked.

 

The queen’s labyrinth of a keep rises out of the night. Its trunk and roots are so massive and sprawling that they remind me of a mountain range. I don’t raise my eyes to the branches anymore. The sight makes me dizzy, and I know the sky is hidden, even as the autumn leaves fall. Two knights stand at the entrance, a root arching tall enough to walk under, and let me pass without a word.

 

Once inside, the bark turns into a system of corridors and chambers too vast for anyone to explore all at once. If they didn’t drive you mad, the thick aura of magic would. It hangs in the air like a muggy scentless perfume. Luckily, the path to the Grand Hall is a short one.

 

Red, gold, and brown banners wave limply in various states of decay. They span from new and silky to moth-eaten and crusted with dirt. The tablecloths and silverware are in a similar state, as are the decorative paintings and tapestries. The scenery has nothing on the patrons.

 

They wear similar autumn colors as they dance and peruse the tables. Many of them sport ripped gowns and trousers spotted with dried blood and dirt. Leaves and acorns adorn elaborate and simple hair styles alike, which complement corsages made of dead flowers. Those wearing clean clothing stand out with their otherworldly physical characteristics: skin like bark and twiglike fingers, enormous onyx eyes and sharp jagged teeth, hair like weeping willow branches and bodies with more thorns than a rose bush.

 

I know better than to stare into the crowds, but I can’t help it. Both the beautiful and horrifying enchant me with the way they move. The way they dance and weave together.

 

The way they torture each other.

 

The only folk that look like they could be from fairy tales are living a nightmare. One small mangled arm hangs out of a gremlin’s bloody grin. To my right, a doe-like woman kneels as a footrest for a harsh-looking pair of gentlemen. A young man gingerly weaves past me, his back hunched with defeat, to set more food on the table. Two dark bloody holes protrude from his shoulder blades where a pair of glistening wings once fluttered.

 

If I stay here too long, I`ll be sick. I need to deliver this painting and get out.

 

I lift my gaze to the most beautiful and terrifying being in the court. My refuge from all this ugliness and my worst nightmare.

 

The Queen of Faerie.


 

Purchase “Portraits” wherever you buy paper or electronic books!

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Interview with Author Tay LaRoi

Originally hosted on My Fiction Nook

Let’s take another look at what went into “Portraits of a Faerie Queen” behind the scenes!

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When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

Freshmen year of high school. It was a joint effort between me and my best friend. We had a notebook and we would pass it back and forth between classes. I don’t remember any real inspiration, per se. We just really enjoyed those characters we had created and wanted to see what they would do. I was particularly attached to one character in particular, Caleb, because he was biracial like me and I had honestly never seen another character with my background at that point.

I’m still trying to put together a real book out of our ideas. I think readers would enjoy them as much as we did, especially since they’ve grown so much over the years. I just have to figure out how to piece it together.

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

Mostly when I can find the time, but I do try to find the time everyday.

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

I’m a hardcore plotter. I used to pants when I was in college and nothing ever got done, so I switched gears. I do listen to a lot of music when I write, though. I have different Spotify playlists for each type of scene I go back and add to from time to time.

Where did the desire to write LGBTQIA+ stories come from?

I realized I was queer while I was attending a Christian college and I was a very involved youth group kid growing up, so coming to a place where I feel comfortable in my skin has been quite the journey. While I always had plenty of accepting friends and my college had a good support system in place for LGBTQIA+ students (they did in my opinion, anyway,) seeing characters like me still did loads of good. It helped me feel like we had a place in the outside world and seeing those characters experiencing happy endings gave me hope.

I’d like to pay that sense of peace and comfort forward, especially to teenagers. High school was honestly not a great time for me, and I think a lot of that was due to not feeling like I fit in the world the way I was supposed to. I want to teens to know that they’re fine the way they are and that they are worthy of love, and all the adventures life has to offer. Most importantly, I want them to know things will be okay in the end.

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

It depends on the story. For “Portraits,” it was mostly researching faerie lore, and reading other retellings of Tam Lin. For “Smile Like You Mean It,” a short story also coming out from NineStar Press, it was watching a ton of Japanese horror movies. For the book I’m working on now, it’s been reading old manuscripts about Ireland’s mythological history. My curiosity is all over the place, so my research is all over the place.

As far as an authentic voice for characters goes, I try to start with a theme for each character. For example, the theme for both the antagonist and protagonist of “Portraits” is “Responsibility.” I sat down and tried to figure out what sort of struggles would a person deal with if their sense of responsibility, whether to a family or an entire realm, was a central part of their identity? How would they interact with other people? How did that come to be so important to them? Questions of that nature usually get me off and running.

What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?

Character naming, hands down. You’ve got to find names that stand out and are memorable, but still appropriate for the time and place all while making sure everyone can still pronounce them if you decide to get creative.


Purchase “Portraits” wherever you buy paper or electronic books!

NineStar Press     Amazon     Smashwords     Barnes & Noble      Kobo