Author in the Spotlight: January Bain

January BainJanuary was one of those: a high school poet. Now, married to the love of her life whom she credits for her interest in big time romance, she has combined this love with an interest in the paranormal and vampires to produce the FOREVER SERIES of books. Forever Man, Forever Woman, Forever Clan and Forever Angel are all published by Champagne books. She teaches Business, Technology, and English during the day, and can often be found engrossed in writing early in the morning and in every spare moment humanly possible. She writes in many genres: paranormal, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary exotic romance under a pseudonym.

January enjoys blogging for Science Fiction Musings, Worlds of the Imagination, and The Writers Vineyard each month. She hopes to touch your heart with her stories and very much enjoys hearing from other writers and readers alike. She loves living in the country and communing with nature while time travelling in her mind. Oh, and she’s a firm believer in positive karma, one of her favorite quotes being, to forget oneself is to be happy by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:

#1: What do you enjoy the most about writing?

The actual-writing-at-the-computer-keyboard-moment when you are literally holding on for the ride created by the characters that have come fully to life in your mind. It’s those hours that make writing the most amazing adrenaline rush I have ever experienced short of falling in love.

#2: What was your earliest writing experience?

Becoming a teenage poet was my start. A special teacher I remember with great fondness would take my words and read them aloud in the staff-room giving me my first audience. What a blessing! They gave me such hope.

#3: Describe a day in your writing life:

My favorite day is Saturday or Sunday. I get to stay in bed for a few hours after waking and write to my heart’s content drinking a bottomless cup of coffee. I usually manage three or four thousand words that will need editing later, of course.

#4: What authors influenced you and how?

I had a voracious appetite for reading as a child that followed me into adulthood. I’ve read many genres and many, many authors. All have helped me in my writing journey. The running joke growing up was that I read all the available books at the public library in our town.

#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?

I’ve learned that first class fiction is characterized by memorable characters, unique premises, story worlds instantly real, plots that grip even when slow, gorgeous writing, and themes that surprise, challenge and change us, to name just a few. It’s always about the quality of the writing.

#6: Describe your writing method:

For me it’s important to go with a story that captivates me and fills me with the driving passion to write it. Then, I write full out the first time round. I flesh out my characters as they become real for I experience them as actual people. (I see a movie unfolding in my mind and I sometimes just feel like the recorder.) I open multiples word files to fill the self-titled book folder with character names and studies, research, hook lines, plot, story arch and ending if it’s come to me yet. Often, it does not, but unfolds in real time with the characters. I think I like that best, though it’s also scary because you worry if the story will become the right one to share with others? And yet, I don’t want to lose all the spontaneity by structuring too fully before starting. And it’s always a wild, glorious ride!

#7: Tips for aspiring writers:

Write, write, write. Learn from others. Don’t be afraid to edit your words, they’re not written in stone and can always use improvement to better explain what you are seeing and experiencing to your readers. Try to say things different from other writers. Be an original. Develop enough of a skin to handle criticism, but don’t become so immune that you won’t fight for what’s right for your book. Always be kind. One of my favorite things to say to my students is, “It’s hard to be human.”

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About January’s Book Forever Clan:

forever clan ecover (1)

  1. Will the love of a human for her vampire mate be enough to save their child?

Sunday Rose’s soul mate is a vampire. If that isn’t difficult enough to deal with, she’s pregnant with a child that prophecy states can either help or destroy the vampire race. And there are those that fear either outcome. If she is to protect her child from those who would exploit the prophecy, she must awaken unknown abilities and call upon her guardian angels to buy the time necessary to get her family to safe harbor.

Excerpt:

“I think reading all those vampire romance novels you love so much has addled your brain, Sunday Rose St. Clair. First, it was Grandma Rose and her faeries, and now you and your vampires.” Her mother remarked without rancor as she deftly rolled out the piecrust for the fifth pie of the morning. Sunday Rose was lagging behind her mother in peeling the Macintosh apples she was in charge of, causing her mother to give her a stern warning with eyes that plainly stated to hurry it up, we don’t have all day.

She sighed, “But ma, to be able to live forever, just imagine!”

The older woman brushed back a wayward strand of still-bright auburn hair that belied her years with a backward sweep of a flour covered hand and looked at her last born child, though her expression softened as she took in her long shining titan hair and striking emerald green eyes that were the exact color of her late grandmother’s, a legendary beauty in her own right.

“I think I’ve done enough baking and cleaning and doing for others in this lifetime. No thanks to continuing this indefinitely.”

Her mother’s practical answer drew an exaggerated eye roll from her daughter who was picking up the pace on the cleaning and cutting up of the fragrant apples into the large tin basin positioned precariously in her lap. A second warning look had sent the clear message her mother was fast losing patience.

“It’s not a practical matter. It’s about being able to have endless time to live and love and learn and—to just have more.” Sunday Rose’s voice was full of yearning as she tried to explain how she felt about the subject.

“What do you know about love? You’re just a chit of a thing.”

“I know that I’m going to find someone that will love me no matter what—who’ll love me unconditionally.”

“That’s pretty hard to find child. Sounds more like the love of a parent for a child.”

***

Buy Forever Clan:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Forever-Clan-January-Bain-ebook/dp/B00AXVC6YE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1392319660&sr=1-1&keywords=forever+clan

Champagne Books: http://www.champagnebooks.com/januarybain.htm

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Connect with January:

Webpage: http://www.januarybain.ca/

Twitter: @JanuaryBain

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/january.bain

Fan email address: jbain@xplornet.com

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Author in the Spotlight: Olga Godim

olgagodimOlga Godim is a writer and journalist from Vancouver, Canada. When she doesn’t work on her fiction, she writes for a local newspaper and collects toy monkeys. She has over 300 monkey figurines in her collection. She reads like a bookaholic and posts book reviews online. She is bilingual and translates her favorite stories from Russian. Most of her fiction is fantasy: swords, magic, and talking squirrels. You can read some of her short stories and translations on her website.

To date she has published 210 newspaper articles, 19 short stories (online and print magazines), and 2 novels. She has another novel under contract (May 2014).

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SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:

#1: What do you enjoy the most about writing?

Most writers love writing the first draft, riding the wave of inspiration. I do too, especially when the writing flows, but I also love revising and editing. When I write the first draft, I’m either in a writer’s block, trying to coax the story out of my reluctant brain, or in a rush, grabbing the most common words and phrases to get my bubbling ideas across. But when I revise, I’m free: no writing block, no rush. I play with words and expressions, search for the best ones, use a thesaurus, juggle paragraphs. I enjoy the process, even deleting pieces, when it improves the story. It feels like I’m a gourmet cook at a feast of words. I rejoice in every modifier, every clever turn of phrase, every quirky noun or lusty verb. I add a pinch of this and a dollop of that, and the resulting verbal brew becomes better.

I must confess, I keep everything I delete. Sometimes, I reuse those snippets of text in another story. I’m a hoarder, I don’t discard anything.

#2: What was your earliest writing experience?

I became a writer pretty late in life. By education, I’m a computer programmer. I worked with computers for over two decades. I’m also a daydreamer. I’ve always made up stories and played them in my head like a one-woman theatre, but I never told anyone about my daydreams and I didn’t write them down. To tell the truth, I was a bit embarrassed, afraid of ridicule. I was a professional woman, a single mom with two children. I never thought I could be a writer but I couldn’t get rid of my daydreams. I loved my dream-world’s heroes and heroines. Sometimes, they felt more alive and precious to me than living people.

In 2002, I got seriously ill. During my long recovery, my daydreams became more persistent. They swarmed me, they wanted to be told. I decided to be brave, stop resisting, and at last let my daydreams out. I started writing a story, the first writing I did since high school. I didn’t know if it was a short story or a novel. I didn’t know anything about writing or publishing. I just wanted to write. I still do. My stories are always with me, evolving, transforming, striving to get out—into a computer file or into a book.

I remember the exact month I started writing my first story – February 2003, when I returned to work, bought a dedicated laptop from my first paycheck, and opened the first empty DOC file to record my fiction. I can tell you (but sh-h-h, don’t tell anyone): my first story was terrible.

#3: Describe a day in your writing life:

For a freelance writer, priorities are everything. My priorities at the moment are:

1. Articles assigned by my newspaper

2. Online promotion for my published novels

3. New fiction writing

When I have an article coming, I do research on the internet, conduct interviews, and write the articles. I love interviews: they bring me in contact with so many fascinating people. When I don’t have an article, I spend time, sometimes hours, online—blogging, searching for reviewers for my novels, reading others’ blogs for inspiration, etc. Frankly, not my favorite occupation, but necessary in the current publishing atmosphere. I write fiction mostly in the afternoons, after I’ve consumed my three cups of coffee and replied to all my emails.

For some reason, I need at least a day to switch from article writing to fiction, so a day or two after I finished an article are totally wasted in regards to my fiction. In those days, I play computer games. Then, in the evenings, before bed, I read.

#4: What authors influenced you and how?

I write fantasy, so it won’t surprise you to learn that I read fantasy too. My favorite fantasy writer is Sharon Shinn. I enjoy her lyrical, magical tales, a blend of fantasy and romance. Her stories are full of light, without the darkness that’s dominated fantasy novels lately. I especially like her older Samaria series. In it, she writes about angels, and her concept of angels is unique in the genre. It has nothing to do with biblical angels and everything to do with the writer’s imagination. She created a charming race of angels in her stories, angels I believe in, despite my atheism. Her angels are arrogant and talented, decadent and dedicated to their duty. In short—alive. When I read Shinn’s books, my spirit soars. I want to write like she does.

My favorite sci-fi writer is Lois McMaster Bujold. Her hero, Miles Vorkosigan, is unmatched in the genre. He is a genius at solving cosmic problems. His adventures are always original, his obstacles gargantuan, and his solutions frequently funny. I wish I could create a protagonist as memorable and engaging as he is. Bujold is one of the very few writers I use as a self-teaching aid. Whenever I’m stumped in my own writing, I ask myself: how would Bujold handle such a conundrum? I open one of her books at random and page through a dialog or a narrative to see what she does. It often helps.

And then, there is Terry Pratchett. His satirical fantasy is joy with teeth. I don’t want to write like him—I can’t; satire is not my forte—but I’d like to show in my writing as many shades of gray in a human soul as he does.

#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?

How to deal with a writer’s block:

I read once that the best way through the writer’s block is to write. Three sentences a day as a minimum. I found it good advice. You start with three sentences, but then you want to finish a paragraph. And then another thought sprouts in your head, and you want to write it down before it flees. Sometimes, it helps to switch projects, especially if you don’t know how to continue with your current one. A time away from a story might give you a fresh perspective.

How to create conflict in my stories:

The hardest character for me to write is a villain. I write mostly in the fantasy genre, and fantasy plots usually require a baddie of some sort or at least a strong antagonist. I have trouble with those guys. I don’t understand their thought process. Villains traditionally hanker for power, or world domination, or some such nonsense. But why would anyone want to rule the world, or even a village, is beyond me. It’s so much hassle.

On a more serious note: conflict is a challenge for me. I like my heroes. I don’t want them to suffer, but conflict is essential for fiction, so I have to go against my nature and invent problems for my characters, pit them against wicked odds. One of Kurt Vonnegut’s famous 8 rules of writing is “Be a sadist.” I’m still learning that trick.

#6: Describe your writing method:

I’m a plotter. I outline before I write. I need to know what happens with my characters before I type the first words of a story. My writer’s block often happens when I don’t know, when I wonder how my hero could solve this particular problem. Fortunately, sometimes a story takes over. I would be typing, following my rough outline, and then my hero would meet someone unexpected, have a chance conversation, and the story would veer into a side lane. Such detours often add richness to my characters, but I always return to my general outline in the end.

#7: Tips for aspiring writers:

The most important advice I could give: persevere. I have a favorite quote–my motto in writing:

“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”

―William Feather

Don’t stop writing. Don’t give up. If one route to publication doesn’t work, try another. If nobody wants to read your novel, try to write for a newspaper or a magazine, even if they don’t pay. Try short stories. Try a blog. You need to convince strangers that what you write could be interesting for them. And write, write, write.

A writer friend I met online once said: “You can only consider yourself a professional writer after you’ve written one million words or more.” I agree. An average novel is about 60,000 to 100,000 words. If I toss in all the writing and re-writing I’ve done for all the short stories and novels, plus my newspaper articles, I’m somewhat over one-million-words now. And I’ve got two novels published by small publishers.

Self-publishing–I’m not enamored with it. I respect indie authors and I might try their approach some time, but overall, writing is a long process, and you can’t skip the apprenticeship phase. You can’t rush the skills; they come only from years of practice, like in music or in sport. Of course, there are exceptions, but they only underscore the rule: instant gratification doesn’t exist for writers.

I’m sorry to say this, but your first novel probably isn’t too good. It’s your school. My first novel was really bad. It’s still hidden in the bowels of my computer. It will never be published, although I have revised it at least ten times. I learned from it and moved on.

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About Olga’s Book Almost Adept:

AlmostAdept-EBOOK

For the seventeen-year-old mage Eriale, magic is a source of joy, and she often uses magic to solve problems. Unfortunately, such solutions sometimes get out of hand. Her latest magical caper was a disaster, so she has to leave home in a hurry but she decides to turn her shameful fleeing into a quest to prove her Adept potential. She expects a glittering foreign escapade but ends up in Grumesh, the land rife with treachery and violence. A local courier Kealan becomes her only friend and ally. Together, they survive an explosion, a treacherous incarceration, and a daring escape. Sparks of interest ignite between them, but before Eriale can explore her attraction to Kealan, she discovers blood magic running amok in the city. Her priorities must change. As an aspiring Adept, she is duty-bound to find and eliminate the blood mage of Grumesh. She can’t allow her budding romance to distract her, or the blood magic will taint the entire land. No matter the cost—her life or her heart—she can’t let the vile mage win.

Excerpt (a conversation between the two protagonists, Eriale and Kealan):

“Tell me about magic, Eri,” Kealan prompted. “Why are you hungry afterwards?”

“Well.” She gazed at the tourmaline in her hands. “Magic is energy.”

“What can you do with it?”

“Anything.” She grinned. “Anything that can be done without it.”

“What do you mean?”

“For example, if you want to carry a load of crystals,” she pointed to the wagons, where the guard still snored peacefully, “to the other side of the kingdom, you can do it using a horse and a wagon. And lots of time. Or you can employ a mage to transport your cargo much faster. The horse would spend energy pulling the wagon. It would need to eat and sleep to replenish its strength. So would a drover. A mage is no different. He compacts the time and space needed for transportation, but his use of energy is multiplied by a hundred. He uses the same amount of energy for the same job, but he pulls this energy out of himself. Of course mages are always hungry and tired after working magic.”

“But where does your magic come from?”

“My body generates it.” She glanced askance at Kealan and pointed at her breasts. “Somewhere here.”

“Oh. So, if my body doesn’t generate magic, I can’t learn to use it? You know, spells or something?”

She shook her head vehemently. “It’s an innate ability, like sight or hearing. Some people have it; others don’t. But you need to study hard to be able to control it.”

“What if a mage wants to use more magic than his body generates?”

“He can’t.” Her expression clouded. “Unless he resorts to blood magic. Then he can, if he extracts energy from the pain and death of others. It’s easy magic, but…it’s dirty. Blood magic corrupts a mage’s soul.” She shivered. “It makes me want to puke, like poison.” She hugged her knees and stared into the distance.

“Sorry I asked.” Kealan didn’t like her looking so forlorn. What could he say to lift her spirit? “What about illusions? You can’t create illusions without magic.” He recalled the illusion of the mountain cats he had employed on his way to Varelia.

“Illusions are extra,” she said serenely, her distress forgotten. “They’re entertainment. I like making illusions. It’s like painting on the air with magic.”

“What if something can’t be done without magic? Like turning a man into an animal? Is it possible with magic?”

Eriale snickered. “Why? Do you want to turn someone into a frog?”

“No. I heard a rumor that some crazy mage at the royal court turned a duke into a goat. I thought it was a hoax; they were just pulling my leg, right?”

“Ah.” Eriale sighed. She kept silent for so long, he thought she wouldn’t answer at all, when she stirred. “You can transform one living being into another, but it’s a very complicated spell and a brutal one,” she said quietly. “It takes lots of power and lots of knowledge. You have to learn every detail of the anatomy of your original creature and the target creature. Otherwise, you’ll create a monster. And the overall masses of both creatures should be the same. You can’t turn a man into a tiny frog. Where would the extra mass go? Unless you want a frog the size of a man.”

Kealan grunted. His imagination leaped into overdrive, visualizing a possible result of such a transformation. “A frog the size of a man. Should be charming.”

She giggled. “There’s another solution. I could use a transportation spell. You know, find a frog in a nearby pond, transport the man there and the frog here. It’s a kind of a switcheroo. Done properly, it only takes a moment. For a bystander, it would look like a transformation, but it’s a trick, really.”

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Buy Almost Adept:

Burst (Publisher): http://burstbooks.ca/product.php?id_product=118

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Almost-Adept-Olga-Godim-ebook/dp/B00HPPNRUI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389036660&sr=8-1&keywords=olga+godim

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Also by Olga—Lost and Found in Russia, a women’s fiction novel availalbe from Eternal Press:

Newborn babies

After the shocking revelation that her daughter was switched at birth 34 years ago, Canadian scholar Amanda embarks on a trip to Russia to find her biological daughter. Intertwined with the account of Amanda’s journey is the story of Sonya, a 34-year-old Russian immigrant and a former dancer, currently living in Canada. While Amanda wades through the mires of foreign bureaucracy, Sonya struggles with her daughter’s teenage rebellion. While Amanda rediscovers her femininity, Sonya dreams of dancing. Both mothers are searching: for their daughters and for themselves.

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Olga’s words about this book:

When I was young and poor, I often thought: what if someone showed up at my door and said that I had been switched at birth, and my birth family was rich. And they’re looking for me. What would I do? What would my mother do? And – here was the tricky question – what would my other mother do? Would she want and love me as much as the mother who raised me? From that daydream sprouted the idea for this book – a story of a mother who discovers after 34 years that her daughter was switched at birth, by mistake.

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Buy it here:

Eternal Press: http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615728770

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Found-Russia-Olga-Godim/dp/1615728783/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362966343&sr=8-1&keywords=olga+godim

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-and-found-in-russia-olga-godim/1114480110?ean=9781615728787

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Connect with Olga:

Olga’s website: http://olgagodim.wordpress.com

Olga’s twitter: @OlgaGodim

Other places to find her:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6471587.Olga_Godim

Worlds of the Imagination: http://worldsoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

Silk Screen Views: http://silkscreenviews.wordpress.com/

Book Likes: http://olgagodim.booklikes.com/

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Author in the Spotlight: Nancy LaRonda Johnson

It’s Thursday, and that means another Author in the Spotlight! My guest today is also my critique partner, so it’s a pleasure to highlight her work for you today.

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Nancy LaRonda Johnson has written short stories, poetry and personal journals most of her life, and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a law degree. A probation officer by day, she strives during her off-hours to write interesting characters who make it through trying times. Her first book, the literary Christian speculative novel Anticipation of the Penitent, about a serial killer and his mother, reached the finals in the San Francisco Writer’s Conference 2012 Indie Publishing Contest. Salted With Fire, a book of short stories and poetry, is her second publication. She is working on several projects, including a sequel to Anticipation of the Penitent.

Christian speculative fiction is horror, sci-fi or fantasy written from a Christian angle. Nancy also writes poetry when it hits her, and flash fiction  (very short stories, usually under 1000 words).

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SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:

#1: What do you enjoy the most about writing?

I love writing about everyday people and controversial topics with a touch of horror. In doing that, I hope to get people to question their beliefs and consider how although others may seem different, they are very similar to ourselves.  In other words, I love to “stir the pot” with my writing. Usually people who love my writing, do so even though they are disturbed by the lives they’ve encountered and the jarring roads they have to travel in the stories.

#2: What was your earliest writing experience?

In elementary school, I remember writing a story about my dog, Chico, getting lost in a regional part and how he found his way home. It was a valiant effort at a first story, but I thought it was quite bad. Even so, my teacher called me “prolific.” She told me to look the word up, which I did but still didn’t understand what it meant. It still encouraged me.

#3: Describe a day in your writing life:

A good day is when, at every free moment, during slow times at work, once home after work, or on my days off, and in between every other responsibilities I have, I’m thinking about my characters, plots and subplots, am adding on to what I’ve already written or am editing it. But, unfortunately, there are days when the document doesn’t get opened.

#4: What authors influenced you and how?

The most influential authors for me have been: Stephen King, for his always interesting characters; Octavia Butler, for her amazingly creative storylines; Gloria Naylor, for her real life, everyday strong characters; and the most influential book, the Bible, which has the most heart wrenching and uplifting stories, amazing poetic prose, and is true. Which reminds me that true stories, especially true crime books, have also influenced me greatly.

#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?

I’ve learned not waste money, which I have done too much last year. I’m learning that if I can’t see a matching return for the money, there’s no good reason to spend it and, in fact, is the worst entrepreneurship rule you could break. So, it helps to find free services whenever possible. Then go cheap. The place to spend the most, I’d say, is with editing.

#6: Describe your writing method:

When I’m starting on something new, even when I have an idea in mind, it really helps me to do free write or use a writing prompt to get me started. Some of my subplots were developed by this method and made my books much more complete and unpredictable.

What also helps me, especially if I’m not focusing or am feeling stuck, is to open up a blank word document and just start writing. Or, I just write at any point in the story that interests me that day. For me, it’s more blocking to write linearly. Much of my writing is mood or emotion based, or character driven, so writing a scene that grabs me that day really brings the best of my writing out.

Other than that, I just keep plugging away! Even if I don’t write as much as I’d like, it will eventually get where I want it to be.

#7: Tips for aspiring writers:

So many people say that writers write. Very helpful, (not!) even if it’s true. Generally, I’m not one to sit for hours and hours writing every day, mainly because I don’t have the time. But I will push myself to write something, even if it’s a paragraph or developing or filling in an outline. Wherever you’re at with your discipline as a writer, just keep trying to increase from there, without guilt.

Another important thing to keep in mind is to get beta readers. This process has helped me greatly in my current project. Graeme has read my WIP as it developed, which meant at the worst stage, with the worst writing and incomplete storyline! But his input has been invaluable. Two other beta readers gave me wonderful input after I made changes to my first draft, which has made it so much better. With each drastic change in the book based on input I got from the beta readers, I like to get one or two other readers’ inputs. It’s amazing how much your original idea for the book develops! Since writing is subjective, readers let you know if what you’re trying to say doesn’t come through or doesn’t even make sense, and you make the changes to write what you really meant. Afterward, you realize that the book has gotten exponentially better.

***

About Nancy’s Book Anticipation of the Pentinent:

Anticipation_of_the__Cover_for_Kindle

Trapped by the devil, Alezea bears Satan’s son and knows her life will never be her own. She is the mother of Thomas, a man reared by Satan to be a killer of life’s most innocent – little girls. Alezea lives detached from the horrors committed by her son and from her domination by the entity who uses her as he pleases. Until she meets Martha, who shows her a way out. Alezea will now risk her very soul to free Thomas from his father. The fight to save her son will either redeem Alezea or destroy her forever.

Rachel knows Thomas’ history, yet she believes her presence can transform him. Her belief in Thomas might send her fully into the devil’s realm or provide an opening for God’s miracles in both of their lives. In a scheme to continue his father’s line, Thomas may ruin his alliance with Rachel or rend himself from the dominion he was born to hold. The impulse to contrive his future takes Thomas to new heights in his lifework as a killer and pushes him toward maturity, while forcing him to encounter the astonishing truth of his heritage.

Anticipation of the Penitent depicts the battle between good and evil in one family until it is rendered to its destined completion. Only then will it be known whether Alezea succeeds in her struggle for a life free from Satan’s control.

Excerpt:

For the first time in twenty-seven years, Alezea looked at Thomas as a part of herself. He was human, not a pliant slave for the devil’s use and pleasure. A rivulet of shame started to stream its way into her heart for the actions she partook in with her son.

Her son. Tears manifested their way from within her soul and overflowed onto her cheeks. He was her son, not Satan’s. He lived in her world, not the underworld of the devil. Her formidable, strong, handsome son had the choice to not be the devil’s heir, just as she had the choice not to be the devil’s maiden.

It was late when Alezea finally completed her story to Martha. Alezea was amazed that Martha did not send her away forever or call the police to her home. Instead, Martha told her to go home. She told Alezea to not worry and that she would help.

Alezea reached out in the darkened room and touched her son gently on the arm, not with the initiation of demanded sexual perversion, but with the care and worry of a mother for her only child who was lost. That rivulet of shame slowly began to transform into a prospect of hope. Could her son, who had no guidance or teachings of goodness, be turned around?

This phenomenon of love for Thomas was in its infancy. But Thomas was a man in his twenties. Could he begin to see Alezea as his mother, to be respected and trusted? The immediate answer to herself was a blatant “No!” Rather or not she reached out to God previously, she knew that God was stronger than her shame, her doubts and the devil himself. She would fight for him. She would fight for her son.

She covered Thomas’ shoulders with his sheet and left his bedroom, closing the door quietly. Alezea stood, leaning gently against his door, still enjoying the emotional impasse welling inside her. For the first time ever, feeling something other than trapped, fear and shame, enabled Alezea to feel relief.

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Buy Anticipation of the Penitent for Kindle:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Anticipation-Penitent-Nancy-LaRonda-Johnson-ebook/dp/B009ZQCEEA

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Also by Nancy: Salted with Fire, a collection of flash fiction and poetry with a theme of spiritual growth

Salted_With_Fire_Cover_for_Kindle

Black magic, murder, insanity… humor, honor and devotion. Salted With Fire is a journey of flash fiction and poetry that shows my writing transformation from worldly to wanting to please God.

Flash fiction is my passion; poetry is my release. I love creating a complete story, with a beginning, middle and end, with twists, humor, drama, compassion and horror, all under 1000 words. Salted With Fire isn’t just a book of stories and poetry, it is my journey as a writer, from writing only for the mere joy of it regardless of the message, to writing stories that highlight God’s will for people, even if the stories themselves are not religious in nature.

Inside are fifteen flash fiction pieces and twelve poems with color pictures, and short Biblical discussions after each story.

Excerpt:

Heat

Smoothly, his hand moves
and glides across my arm,
leaving a trail of humidity in its wake.

Droplets of his heat rise on my skin,
and he takes my hand,
silken and shaken, into his.

Words aren’t spoken,
it’s time to listen.

The sound of “hush” comes from us both,
quieting the vibrations of our hearts that
diminish our ability to hear.

Our hands meld into one,
knowing this is how it should be.
Our arms draw closer,
our steps align,
and we arrive.

There is nothing left,
but to affirm the commands:
Honor. Love. Keep God with.
Only after, do we vow and alight
in our first kiss as one.

nancy-hand

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Buy Salted with Fire:

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/salted-with-fire-6

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Salted-Fire-Nancy-LaRonda-Johnson-ebook/dp/B00DFRU6L8

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Connect with Nancy:

Webpage: http://www.nancylarondajohnson.com

Twitter: @NLaRondaJohnson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NancyLaRondaJohnson

Fan email address: nlarondajohnson-author@yahoo.com

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Author in the Spotlight: S.M Boyce

!BoyceInternational Amazon Bestseller. Fantasy Author. Twitter addict. Book Blogger. Geek. Sarcastic. Gooey. Odd. Author of the action-packed Grimoire Saga.

S.M. Boyce is a novelist who loves ghosts, magic, and spooky things. She prefers loose-leaf tea, reads far too many books, and is always cold. She’s married to her soul mate and couldn’t be happier. Her B.A. in Creative Writing qualifies her to serve you french fries.

Boyce also likes to update her blog a few times each week so that you have something to wake you up in the morning.

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SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:

#1: What do you enjoy the most about writing?

I love losing myself to magic and living in  impossible worlds. The freedom to let my imagination free tugs on me daily! I love my job.

#2: What was your earliest writing experience?

When I was five, I entered a writing contest on my parents’ encouragement and wrote a short children’s book about a lonely pickle and her hunt for friends. I don’t remember how it ended, and that’s probably a pretty good thing—it’s kind of a morbid story when I reflect on it. I mean, the pickle had friends before. The jar didn’t come from the store with just her in it. So how my five-year-old brain rationalized personifying leftovers is beyond me. I’m sure you’ll be completely surprised to hear that I didn’t win the contest. [insert sarcastic laugh]

#3: Describe a day in your writing life:

I get up and go through my morning routine (workout, breakfast, laundry, exciting stuff like that). Before checking email or getting sucked into social media, though, I write for my day’s goal, usually 2-3 hours. After that, I read or get to work on my marketing, emails, and social media.

#4: What authors influenced you and how?

I particularly respect Mr. Neil Gaiman, who manages to keep in touch with his fans despite being a massive success. He’s able to connect with them and genuinely show he cares, which I admire. Besides, he’s a kickass author with a knack for darkly beautiful worlds.

#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?

This is a toughie, but here are a few:

  • Grow thick skin—you will never please everyone, and you’ll lose everything if you try. Just be honest and be true to yourself + your art.
  • Experiment—make every book a lesson in something. Stretch yourself and grow. Experiment with characters, push the limits of your own comfort, and teach yourself something new with every story you write.
  • Be imperfect—you must be open to experimenting and failing as an author, both in your stories and in your marketing. This is a rapidly growing, ever-changing world, and to keep up with it, you have to be willing to take a chance on something that doesn’t pay off.

#6: Describe your writing method:

Every book or series has a theme song. So when I’m ready to write or outline, I sit down and listen to that song. I’m instantly in the frame of mind needed to slip into that story’s universe, and it’s a fantastic jumpstart.  Before I actually start writing the story I’ll do an outline and have the people I write for look it over. Then comes the first draft, rewrites, critiques from others, rewrites, professional copyediting, rewrites again and professional proofreading.

#7: Tips for aspiring writers:

Grow thick skin and prepare for rejection. Ours is a tough profession, but the passionate persevere and make it their lives. I keep a running blog just for writers like you, actually, with updates on news, advice, and industry trends. Check it out and subscribe if you want the latest advice I have to give.

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About Lichgates, Book One of the Grimoire Saga:

1 -Lichgates

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Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things: Ourea.

Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother’s recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With nothing to do, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book’s untamed power. Discovered by Ourea’s royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict – a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn’t trust anyone… but she’s being hunted and can’t survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn’t know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.

For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.

Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.

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Buy Lichgates here:

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Lichgates-Book-One-Grimoire-Trilogy/SHMHKw_hW0OfdUzpEUx3Uw?MixID=SHMHKw_hW0OfdUzpEUx3Uw&PageNumber=1

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Lichgates-Book-Grimoire-Fantasy-Adventure-ebook/dp/B005W5L38G

Other(s): Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lichgates-s-m-boyce/1109150950?ean=2940044342927

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Books two and three of the Grimoire Saga are also available!

Treason (Book 2)

Kara Magari ignited a war when she stumbled into Ourea and found the Grimoire: a powerful artifact filled with secrets. To protect the one person she has left, she strikes a deal that goes against everything she believes in. At the last moment, everything falls apart… but Kara still has to pay the price.

Braeden Drakonin can no longer run from who–and what–he is. He has to face the facts. He’s a prince. He’s a murderer. He’s a wanted man. And after a betrayal that leaves him heartbroken, he’s out for blood.

To survive, both Kara and Braeden must become the evil each has grown to hate.

Buy Treason here:

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Treason-Book-Two-Grimoire-Trilogy/gYDP2z5Gtk-oQ-MkZILeww?MixID=gYDP2z5Gtk-oQ-MkZILeww&PageNumber=1&s=WIzRNG9KIUa6HTK-r6Papg&r=1

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009O3D7WM?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B009O3D7WM&linkCode=xm2&tag=hubp0aaf-20

Other(s): Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/treason-s-m-boyce/1114069696?ean=2940015595178&isbn=2940015595178

Heritage (Book 3):

Kara Magari isn’t normal, even by Ourea’s standards–and in a world of shape-shifters and soul stealers, that’s saying something. To the royalty, she’s a loose cannon. To the masses, she’s a failure. But Kara’s arrival in Ourea started a war, and she’s going to end it.

An ancient isen named Stone takes an interest in Kara’s training, and it turns out he has more answers than he originally led her to believe. In an effort to unearth a secret that might end the bloodshed, Kara instead discovers an ugly truth about her family–and how much she has in common with an infamous mass-murderer.

Braeden Drakonin has slowly rebuilt his life after the betrayal that tore it apart. His father wants him dead, and frankly, his so-called allies wouldn’t mind that either. Private alliances are formed. Secrets are sold. Tension is driving the armies apart. A single battle will end this war, and it’s coming. Braeden may be a prince, but it will take more than that to survive. He must take the fight to his father’s door–and win.

Buy Heritage here:

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/heritage-book-three-of-the-grimoire-saga

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00F2Y46I6?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B00F2Y46I6&linkCode=xm2&tag=hubp0aaf-20

Other(s): Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heritage-s-m-boyce/1116866080?ean=2940148396024

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Connect with S.M. Boyce:

Webpage: http://www.smboyce.com/

Blog: http://www.smboyce.com/boyce-blog/

Twitter: @thesmboyce

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesmboyce

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Author in the Spotlight: Matt Moore

I’m pleased to welcome Mat Moore as my author in the spotlight guest this week!

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Matt Moore is a horror and science fiction writer who believes good speculative fiction can both thrill and make you think. His short story collection Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark was released in 2013.

His columns and short fiction have appeared in print, electronic and audio markets including On Spec, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, Leading Edge, Cast Macabre, Torn Realities and the Tesseracts anthologies. He’s a multiple Aurora Award nominee, Friends of the Merrill finalist, frequent panelist and presenter, Communications Director for ChiZine Publications and Chair of the Ottawa Chiaroscuro Reading Series.

Raised in small-town New England, a place rich with legends and ghost stories, he lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

Find out more at mattmoorewrites.com.

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SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:

#1: What do you enjoy the most about writing?

It’s said stories were the first form of virtual reality. They transport the listener/reader into another world where they can explore others’ lives. As the storyteller, I enjoy this process of creating an immersive place with realistic people you might know in your real life. So, the escapism of it. And, I hope readers enjoy visiting these worlds as much as I do in creating them.

#2: What was your earliest writing experience?

I recall being in third grade and missing recess twice in a row so I could work on a short story I was writing about treasure-hunters as a class assignment. I was “that guy” when the teacher told the class they were to write a story and someone would ask for the minimum length, I would then ask about the maximum since I could easily go over it it. I don’t recall what I got as a grade, but I did enjoy writing a lot more than recess.

#3: Describe a day in your writing life:

I work a full-time day job, so a day in my writing life is different every time.

If I have a full day I can set aside to writing, I find I have about three or four good hours of writing in me before I fade, so if I can get that time, it’s great. But there is more to writing than just pounding out words. There’s paper line edits, revising the manuscript, marketing, submitting stories, interacting with people on social media, reading, critiquing others’ work. I need to be able to do this wherever I am and with the time I have.

So a day in my writing life is getting as much done as I can with the time I have.

#4: What authors influenced you and how?

There are so many.

Growing up, I read a lot of Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft. King, unfortunately, did not teach me restraint and so many of my stories from high school and university have massive digression and side stories that add nothing to the plot. Lovecraft was just so far out there that I learned that a plot’s resolution did not need to be wrapped up tightly in a bow. Sometimes, we have no idea what happened—that’s life.

Currently, I admire the work of David Nickle, Lydia Peever and Joel Arnold, who I think are doing great things in the horror genre. They are telling literary stories with strong themes and characters without sacrificing the toe-curling creepiness of horror.

#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?

Be humble. It doesn’t matter if you routinely sell to pro markets and are nominated for awards, never act like you’re too good for something. Be grateful to those who read your work, appreciative of conventions that invite you to attend, and professional when dealing with fellow writers be they first time published or NYT bestsellers.

Also, understand the difference between the art of writing and business of publishing. As an author and artist, you can sigh heavily, stare out the window for hours, scribble notes to yourself as if they were written by a character—that is all fine. Honestly, we all wrestle with the creative process. But once you are dealing with someone else’s time, effort or money, you are a businessperson. Be professional and understand that others have their own motive in working with your story; rarely is it your greater glory. Editors will not care that you have not turned in your story because you’re “blocked” or can’t find the resolution for a minor character’s arc. They expect you to meet your deadline. If you think a contract is unfair, go ahead and try to negotiate, but don’t negotiate every single contract just because you think you deserve better than others.

#6: Describe your writing method:

Most stories begin with a kernel: “What if when you die, your afterlife flashes before your eyes?”, “What if the zombie apocalypse is the singularity?”, “What is the most useless were-animal?”

I then try to map a character’s growth, a theme or series of events onto this idea. If I find ideas are connecting, I try to outline and hopefully a theme will solidify.

Then I’ll start to write, but ultimately by the second draft I find something is not working and I revise, re-work and revise some more. I am usually on draft six before the major plot elements and character beats have finally lined up. I then revise to clean-up the language. During all of this are bouts of insecurity, second guessing and self-doubt.

#7: Tips for aspiring writers:

I have three: one about the art of writing, one about the business, one about the lifestyle.

The Art: Work on strengthening one storytelling skill in every story you write, and make it an essential element of the story. If you have a dialogue-heavy piece with three main characters, give each a distinct voice. If you have an interesting setting, tell us about it using all five senses. Really work and hone that skill so that it comes naturally in your next story. But only work on one element per story. If you work on too many, you won’t strengthen anything.

The Business: Like I talk about above, understand the business of publishing. Who does what, what terminology is used, where does the money come from and go to? Read blogs and attend panel discussions with professionals in the industry. Publishers and editors are much more likely to take work from a good writer they can do business with than a great writer who is unreliable. Time is a publisher’s most valuable commodity. If you show you understand their world and can work with them, you will stand out.

The Lifestyle: Saying “I need to write” is not a magic ticket that excuses you from your responsibilities. Non-writers do not understand the need to write and the time that it demands. So, be open and honest with your family, partner, children and friends. Make sure your kids understand that if you are in your writing space with the door closed, they shouldn’t enter. If you are on a deadline, communicate this to your spouse that you might not have the time to do chores for the next day or two. But (and this is the main part), there has to be a balance. The time you spend writing is seen as time not spend with your significant others. If you are giving the impression that your writing is more important than they are, it will hurt your relationships. So make up for that time. If you get a writing night once per week, your husband should also get a night to do what he wants. If you hole up to do NaNoWriMo, how will you make it up to your girlfriend come December?

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Check out Matt’s latest book, Touch the Sky Embrace the Dark, ten horror / scifi short stories of the terrifying, the bizarre, the all-too-near futures. These stories first appeared in leading markets such as On Spec, the Drabblecast and Leading Edge. For fans of thought-provoking horror and science fiction, it includes the Aurora Award-nominiated stories “Delta Pi” and “Touch the Sky, They Say.”

TtSEtD-cover

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These worlds, and more, await you…

Only able to recall the memories of others, a ghost tries to solve the mystery of his death.

The zombie apocalypse is the gateway to a higher level of human consciousness.

An amusement park of the future might turn you into the attraction.

An engineer-turned-mercenary races to kill the savior of mankind.

When the sky falls, what room is there for hope?

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Matt’s Book is available on any of the platforms below:

Amazon US: www.amazon.com/Touch-Embrace-Dark-Matt-Moore-ebook/dp/B00F6G5WJW/

Amazon Canada: www.amazon.ca/Touch-Embrace-Dark-Matt-Moore-ebook/dp/B00F6G5WJW/

Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/Touch-Embrace-Dark-Matt-Moore-ebook/dp/B00F6G5WJW 

Kobo: store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/touch-the-sky-embrace-the-dark 

B&N: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/touch-the-sky-embrace-the-dark-matt-moore/1117053835

Sony eRader: ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/matt-moore/touch-the-sky-embrace-the-dark/_/R-400000000000001137365

Apple iBookstore: itunes.apple.com/ca/book/touch-the-sky-embrace-the-dark/id720794872

Google Play Books: play.google.com/store/books/details/Matt_Moore_Touch_the_Sky_Embrace_the_Dark?id=CZPlAQAAQBAJ

Smashwords: www.smashwords.com/books/view/360291

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Connect with Matt:

Webpage: MattMooreWrites.com

Twitter: @MattMooreWrites

Facebook: facebook.com/MattMooreWrites

Fan email address: MattMooreWrites@GMail.com

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Author in the Spotlight: Susan Forest

A warm welcome to Susan Forest, my author in the spotlight guest this week!

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Two-time Prix Aurora Award finalist and winner of The Galaxy Project, juried by Robert Silverberg, David Drake and Barry Malzberg, Susan Forest is a writer of science fiction, fantasy and horror, and a fiction editor for Edge Press. You can find her stories in Analog, Asimov’s, OnSpec, Blood and Water, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Tesseracts, AE Science Fiction Review, and The Urban Green Man, or in her collection, Immunity to Strange Tales (Five Rivers Press). www.speculative-fiction.ca.

Besides writing, Susan paints (acrylics and oils) both speculative and western landscapes. She teaches creative writing for adults (the novel, speculative fiction, and some weekend courses) and goes into elementary schools as an artist-in-residence (writing).

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SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:

#1: Why do you write?

Stories bubble up in me all the time. As a child, I had imaginary playmates, and I still love to play with my imaginary friends. Writing, for me, is being immersed in story–surrounded by bizarre, dangerous and exciting landscapes, interacting with surprising characters. When I was younger, I enjoyed acting in community theatre, and I directed plays as well. Writing for me is the best of theatre, because I get to be all the actors and the director at the same time.

#2: What was your earliest writing experience?

In grade two, I wrote, “Jimmy the Fish That Couldn’t Swim.” In grade six, my teacher suggested my contribution to the class talent show would be to write, and read, an original story: “The Eyes on the Wall” (my first horror piece). In grade seven, the last section of my school binder with all my subjects was my first (uncompleted) novel: “Jean-Paul Travels Twice.” I used to work on it in class, after I finished the assignments for homework.

#3: Describe a day in your writing life:

First, I get rid of my email commitments, then go to the gym. Too much sitting is not only bad for your health, but leads to all sorts of stress injuries like carpal tunnel and tendonitis; besides, I like to get the blood flowing through my brain, and I find one of the most productive places to think about my stories–and solve plot problems–is on the treadmill. The afternoon is spent writing until supper, and I do my hobbies (painting), volunteer work (I am secretary for SFWA, IFWA and When Words Collide) and prep for courses I teach, in the evenings. As well as go to book launches, of course! Reading and critiquing happens while I eat or at bedtime.

#4: What authors influenced you and how?

My earliest influences were Edgar Rice Burroughs and Walter Farley, but I love so many genre authors: Ursula K LeGuin, Sherry Tepper, Robert J Sawyer, Barbara Hambly, Connie Willis, Lois McMaster Boujold, Lois Lowry, and Margaret Atwood, and non-genre authors such as Betsy Byars, Katherine Paterson and Natalie Babbitt. Burroughs was formative–Tarzan, his Martian stories and the centre of the earth stories: his worlds were so exotic. I got to hear LeGuin speak when she came to Calgary, and I’ll never forget her advice to writers about crowding (adding all the detail to make your story as complete as possible) and leaping (cutting until what is left is only your best). Tepper created the most bizarre worlds, and Sawyer has been a personal mentor. Hambly creates the most amazing turns of phrase, and Willis can kill you with laughter and tears. Boujold integrates threads. Lowry’s book “The Giver,” is the only book I closed at the end, and immediately re-opened to read again. Atwood is the master of the telling detail. Byars captures the pre-teen voice and Patterson gets to the heart of pre-teen angst. Babbitt makes you think.

#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?

There is no substitute for experience. Once, at a conference, I listened to a pro respond to a question from the audience by saying, “In that situation, I’d do this, then I’d do this, then I’d write the book.” Simple! But not necessarily simple for me because at that time I lacked experience. Over time, I have begun to develop those tools as a writer: you can learn and study, and people can pass on their tips, but it takes time and lots and lots of reading and writing and reflection–in other words, experience–for those skills to become so integral to your being that you use them as an artist, rather than as a craftsperson.

#6: Describe your writing method:

The opening of a new story or novel is slow for me, because I have to go back and forth between writing (pantsing), planning and research. I need to be sure the characters and setting are very clear in my head, and I take the time to go slowly, revising as I write until I get the exact words I want, to make the world, the characters and the situation very real. The draft tends to pick up speed as I write, and as the plot twists itself into knots I focus on the target: the idea I am trying to express as the sum of the story. Like a game of chess, from the opening gambit, the entire goal is the opponent’s king, and one cannot get distracted by juicy bishops or rooks along the way. I am constantly reminding myself to keep the main plot elements simple, because complications love to multiply. The end usually goes very quickly. Then the real work begins: shaping through revision. I love revision, because I can see how the story improves.

#7: Tips for aspiring writers:

Read. Write. Heard that before? It’s true: I never sold to Asimov’s or Analog until I read Asimov’s and Analog. There is no substitute for experience: write! Analyze and listen to the feedback you get from other writers whom you admire. Read the best your genre has to offer (the award winners, the top sellers) and read outside your genre. Read Donald Maass and Robert McKee.

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Check out Susan’s book, Immunity to Strange Tales, available from Five Rivers Press.

12 immunity Strange Tales

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A collection of 12 short stories by one of Canada’s rising stars of speculative fiction. Forest takes you from death-bed wishes to the eerie regions of madness employing subtle skill and fresh prose. Nine of the stories have appeared in publications such as Asimov’s, On Spec, Analog, Tesseracts Ten, Tesseracts Eleven, Tesseracts 14 and AE Science Fiction Review. Three of the stories make their debut in this collection, with an introduction by one of Canada’s respected editors and experts, Mark Leslie Lefebvre.

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Excerpt:

We made movies in those days. Lasha did everything. She woke at dawn, made lists and organized, calling people, always calling people. We lived upstairs, she and I, intimate as lovers, celibate as eunuchs, in the warehouse where the filming was done, where the fantasies played out. I did nothing but what Lasha told me to do, which was everything. I went for coffee. Answered emails. Painted sets, hung lights, sewed costumes, picked up.

Mostly, I dressed Lasha. I made her clothes. I styled her hair. Lasha had wonderful hair, then, long and kinky and willfully wild. I lived to touch it, to smell it, to adorn it. I was the only one to work with her hair. She didn’t want the natural look. No, the red was a dye, a lie, different with every mood. “Put more orange in it,” she’d say. “Streaks along the top.” Then she’d lay all the way back in the barber’s chair and give herself up completely to me. “More burgundy. More red.”

Then she would be gone.

Doing things, being with people. Because people were what Lasha was all about. Actors, designers, musicians. Long-haired technicians in ripped jeans with wrenches in their pockets climbing ladders to tighten the nuts on big tin-can lights. Makeup artists smoking Camels in back rooms, swathed in chenille and rehearsal socks. Government arts funders with pale fingers and obscure forms, rigid with ass-tight loopholes. And executive producers who didn’t really matter, because Lasha was in charge. She fought for every scrap of film that ever came out under her name. A bullet-proof vest might have helped her to bear the world.

We existed in perpetual deep night, and brilliant day. Lights seared the stage so it became a desert, barren and dry. They broiled the actors, who walked through Sandbox and Godot and No Exit. But in the cool dark, behind the sandbags and dollies, behind the folding chairs and empty beer cans, there was a richness, of furtive movement and silent cues, the smell of greasepaint and spirit gum. Costumes fluttered on racks, cigarettes glowed in ballet hands. Paper cups emoted on overturned oilcan coffee tables, and ropy wires slithered across the floor or hung like vines from impossibly high catwalks.

Lasha’s life was a spotlight. Intense. Hot. Forever struggling to spill beyond the black box eclipsing her. But, as her movies leaked into the world, cracks appeared in our warehouse, admitting strangers and fear. We saw how they knocked at the doors, and we huddled inside, in curiosity and despair, she and I.

When the work was done, and it was never done, the play began, which never stopped. The actors came off stage and into the fantasy to smoke and strip out of costume and gossip. The lights dimmed then, and candles appeared, and the bottles and joints, and the Ouija and tarot. Hands, gracefully dancing in smoky glow, gestured, illustrated, slowed. Tongues loosened and names dropped, and grand ambitions flowed. They’d trade their souls for a chance at Hollywood. And it was Lasha who summoned the séance.

Other things happened, too; secretive things, in dark corners. Love-making in broom closets or overstuffed couches or deserted kitchen tables on top of the silverware and grapes, beating the table, moaning, crying.

I watched her.

From the space between the counter and the window, beneath the hanging pots, bypassed by moonlight and candlelight, I watched her jerk to the rhythm of a faceless stunt man. She watched back, eyes on mine, fever bright. Lightning current pulsed in the space between us, sharpening, demanding, insisting, until we quivered and throbbed and burst.

Read more of Immunity to Strange Tales:

Kobohttp://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Immunity-to-Strange-Tales/book-I1Z3p4s750Wh6HJ3dig4TA/page1.html?s=rr5LsyF3OkaCQP5L-8Ayrw&r=1

Kindle: Amazon.com, both print and digital: http://www.amazon.com/Immunity-Strange-Tales-Susan-Forest/dp/1927400147/ref=sr_1_23?ie=UTF8&qid=1366825125&sr=8-23&keywords=five+rivers+chapmanry

Barnes & Noble, print and digital: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/immunity-to-strange-tales-susan-forest/1110920009?ean=9781927400142

Five Rivers catalogue: http://www.fiveriverspublishing.com/p/fiction-adult.html

Google Play, digital: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Susan_Forest_Immunity_to_Strange_Tales?id=w1upEh6r7UcC&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImJvb2stdzF1cEVoNnI3VWNDIl0.

Indigo: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Immunity-To-Strange-Tales-Susan-Forest/9781927400142-item.html?ikwid=immunity+to+strange+tales&ikwsec=Home

Smashwords, digital: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/207720

Waterstones UK, print: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/susan+forest/immunity+to+strange+tales/9246966/

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Connect with Susan:

Webpage: speculative-fiction.ca

Twitter: @susanjforest

Facebook: Susan Forest

Fan email address: go to speculative-fiction.ca

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Author in the Spotlight: David Annandale

It’s an honor to welcome David Annandale as my author in the spotlight this week. I’m indebted to him for his workshop on genre fiction, which introduced me to outlining and forever changed how I write.

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David Annandale_1_1

David Annandale writes fiction in a number of genres. He writes Warhammer 40,000 fiction for the Black Library, including the novel The Death of Antagonis and the novellas Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha, Stormseer, and Mephiston: Lord of Death. His next Black Library novel is Yarrick: Imperial Creed, coming in April. His horror novel, Gethsemane Hall, was published last year by Dundurn Press and (in the UK) by Snowbooks. For Turnstone Press, he has written a series of thrillers featuring rogue warrior Jen Blaylock (Crown Fire, Kornukopia, and The Valedictorians). His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies, including Dead But Dreaming, Tesseracts 7, and Wild Things Live There: The Best of Northern Frights.

David also writes non-fiction, contributing academic articles on movies, video games and other aspects of popular culture to such collections as  Roman Catholicism in Fantastic Film: Essays on Belief, Spectacle, Ritual and ImageryHorror at the Drive-InThe Meaning and Culture of Grand Theft Auto; and  Performance and Identity: The Music of Lady Gaga. He writes film reviews for The Phantom of the Movies’  VideoScope.

David holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Alberta, where he specialized in horror literature and film. He is a senior instructor at the University of Manitoba, where he teaches film, creative writing and literature.

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SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:

#1: Why do you write?

To tell stories, to explore ideas, to entertain, to horrify. Storytelling has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, to the point that I actually find this question difficult to answer. I can’t imagine not writing.

#2: What was your earliest writing experience?

I was six. I was fascinated by a monster called Zaradak, who appeared in a French translation of an Adam Strange comic. I started writing a story about him. I didn’t get very far, but that was where it all began: banging things out on my father’s typewriter, and then my own little plastic one I was given for my birthday when I was about eight.

#3: Describe a day in your writing life:

Because my teaching schedule varies from term to term, there isn’t a typical day. In a very general way, I try to write 1000 words a day during the University term, and 2000 words a day during the summer, though I’m trying to raise that level this year (so far so good). Sometimes I have several uninterrupted hours to work, but other times I have to do most of the writing at the end of the day.

#4: What authors influenced you and how?

Stephen King taught me a lot about how my great love (horror) works. Through him, I discovered Ramsey Campbell in my teens, and that was when I first became aware of style, that prose did more than convey information. So that was a major step in discovering my voice. Kathe Koja was a later influence in the same vein.

#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?

Probably the single biggest help was learning how to outline. My first four novels (three trunk novels and Crown Fire) were written without an outline. From Kornukopia on, I’ve done a full outline, and the difference has been like night and day. There is no loss of creative freedom, but the editing process is a fraction of what it was before. So, so, so important. I am indebted to Stephen R. George and Dave Clarke for introducing me to Syd Field’s work on screenwriting, which is eminently adaptable to novels.

#6: Describe your writing method:

Starting from a rough idea informed by research, I write point form notes until an actual plot takes shape.  I sort out my plot points, then construct an index card outline using Field’s method. This then becomes the basis of my chapter-by-chapter breakdown. Then I get to work, and I write  novels in a very linear fashion.

#7: Tips for aspiring writers:

Don’t get discouraged. Getting rejected is no fun, and it will likely happen a lot. But keep at it, keep writing, and keep getting better. If I could go back to my frustrated younger self, I would tell him that down the road, he’ll be relieved those first few books didn’t get picked up. Also, as you might guess from the above, I am a very firm believer in outlines.

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Check out David’s latest release, Death of Antagonis, available from Black Library.

Death-of-Antagonis (1)

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The Black Dragons fall upon the world of Antagonis, summoned to combat the plague of undeath that has engulfed the planet. Allying themselves with Inquisitor Werner Lettinger and a force of Sisters of Battle, the Black Dragons endeavour to save the souls of the Imperial citizens who have succumbed to the contagion. But there is more than a mere infection at play – the dread forces of Chaos lie behind the outbreak, and the Black Dragons stand in the way of the Dark Gods’ victory…

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Buy it Now:

Kindlehttp://www.amazon.com/Death-Antagonis-Warhammer-40-000/dp/1849703191/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390791469&sr=1-1&keywords=death+of+antagonis

From publisher: http://www.blacklibrary.com/all-products/the-death-of-antagonis-ebook.html

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Connect with David:

Webpage: www.davidannandale.com

Twitter: @David_Annandale

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DavidAnnandaleAuthor

Fan email address: David.Annandale[at]gmail[dot]com

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