THE FUTURE OF PNR Reply

When I first heard the idea that PNR is on the way out, I dismissed it. I may have even dismissed it with an audible snort. Now, however, I’ve heard this advanced enough times that I feel compelled to address it in a more serious way.

            First, let me begin by saying that, in the 50’s, the general consensus among people over the age of seventeen was that rock and roll was an overnight fad that was on the way out. Sixty years later my band is still rockin’ it out in Classic fashion and sometimes we get to play for big crowds like Warrior Dash.

            Did rock and roll die? Of course not. Did it change? Oh yeah.

            And it kept on changing and changing and reinventing itself. (Even people who are not rockers like Muse “Uprising”. I particularly love the last line of the chorus: We will be Victoria’s.) If Buddy Holly had lived, he would have had to change or perish because the glory of musical relevance is fleeting.

            The moral of this story is this. Anne Rice broke ground. Kresley Cole and Karen Marie Moning broke ground. If more authors don’t stop the vamp-by-number, more-weres-the-better rehash and try for something different, then PNR is going to end up being recalled as fondly as rockabilly. We (musicians) love it (for a few minutes at a time) and honor it (for its place in rock history), but are we going to buy it or play it? No.

            Before I started writing I spent two full years reading every PNR that had enjoyed any success so that I could know what had already been done. Then I set out to create something apart.

            I get a lot of feedback that starts by saying, “I don’t really know what genre to put this in…”  Those comments make me want to jump up and do a little victory dance. My idea of a great day is a review that says something like, “She explodes stereotypes.” I guess my work is a fusion between paranormal, fantasy, and scifi. That would make sense because I was steeped in a pop culture ripe with these influences.

            Second, we need to redefine PNR so that everybody agrees on what it means. I’m writing true Paranormal Romance. It’s not paranormal suspense or paranormal mystery or paranormal thriller with a love interest back story. Kim Harrison and Patricia Briggs do not write Paranormal Romance. Their books are fun, exciting, sometimes thrilling, but they are not PNE. In order to be a subgenre of romance, the romance has to be the story.  You can’t say John Gresham writes legal romances because there’s a love interest thread in a subplot.

            All this is to say that if PNR is defined as primarily romance, then we’re not in trouble because, so long as there are women, there will be fantasizing about romance.

            What do I see as the biggest threats to PNR? That would be who not what. The biggest threats are Stephanie Meyer (Twilight series) and E.L. James (Fifty Shades). Stephanie Meyer’s success has some of PNR’s most talented writers switching to YA. E.L. James’s success has PNR authors in a headlong dash toward the erotica cliff. (That’s erotica with an “a” at the end.) I don’t have to be psychic to know that’s a dead end.

            Will I switch genres? No. I want to write what I write more than I want celebrity or wealth.

The Great Genre Rebellion (Sex, Romance, and the Paranormal) Reply

If you’re interested in books with supernatural flavoring, you may have noticed the confusion surrounding genre titling. When My Familiar Stranger was published, I started out calling it Paranormal Romance. It seemed like a good description, simple and to the point. It’s a romance with paranormal elements. Right? The answer to that question seems to be: well… maybe.

My first clue that the current labels weren’t working for me was when I began getting reviews saying, “I don’t really know what genre to put this book in…” Confidentially, those comments make me want to jump up and do a victory dance and here’s why.

Once I had decided I wanted to write, I set out to perform due diligence. I spent two years reading everything in the PNR category that had enjoyed any success at all. At the end of that time I felt like I had a good overview of what had already been written and I set out to do something different.

The end result has been called a paranormal romance with a dash of scifi and a dollop of fantasy. Okay, if it doesn’t conform to formula, then I met one of my goals.

About that time I began to notice that confusion was creeping into the labeling process. So, undertaking my own examination, I was surprised by the results. In the ebook department of Amazon.com, the navigation drill down goes: Fiction – Genre Fiction – Romance – Fantasy, Futuristic, and Ghost. At first this struck me as strange because I think most readers of PNR would be searching under Paranormal Romance.

On the other hand, Fantasy, Futuristic, and Ghost may be both more descriptive and more accurate. Breaking it down I began to understand the logic behind this departure from the norm. For me, time travel romance doesn’t fall under PNR. It’s Sci-Fi Romance. But it fits beautifully under a “Futuristic” label.

Starting at the beginning, the first question is and should be, “Is it a Romance?”

In general fiction, a typical novel will feature a romance as a subplot of interest. Just as a Romance needs situational distress to vary the speed and intensity of delivery, the thriller needs romance to do the same. That does not make the book a Romance. To qualify as a Romance with a capital “R”, the romantic interest must be the main plot. It is the driving force, the book’s reason for existing. We don’t have to have character growth or a mystery solved or a quest undertaken. The question we must have answered is simply, “Do ‘blank’ and ‘blank’ end up together or not?

If the love interest is a sub plot, it doesn’t legitimately belong under the large heading of Romance, much less a subgenre of Romance.

The works of two of my favorite authors, Kim Harrison and Patricia Briggs, are often mislabeled PNR. This confusion is why I may occasionally be reviewed by a blogger who says there wasn’t a lot of “action”. That’s because it’s a true Paranormal Romance. The series mentioned are paranormal mysteries that are exciting, fun, and often thrilling. In fact some could be called Paranormal Thrillers. But they are definitely not Paranormal Romances any more than John Grisham’s books could be called “Legal Romances”. Again, the fact that there is mention of a romantic relationship doesn’t make a book a Romance.

The other labeling issue that seems to be in perpetual blur is the question of, “What is erotica?”

Sometimes people assume my books will venture into fringe eroticism and are disappointed with the perception of intimacy between two consenting adults: one male, one female as too tame.

I don’t know how the rise in eroticism is affecting Romance in general because it’s all I can do to keep up with PNR, but I can say with certainty that our understanding of what erotic means is rapidly changing. Again, I went back to Merriam Webster. When I looked up “erotica”, I was referred to “erotic” which says: “1.) of, devoted to, or tending to arouse sexual love or desire 2.) strongly marked or affected by sexual desire.” Okay. That’s my understanding, too, albeit practically Victorian in scope.

Since my goal is to please readers, I have tried to be sure they know what they’re getting by adding as much detail as I can to descriptions while trying to preserve the fun of plot and character discovery. I even put a note at the end of my synopsis about what sort of sexual content to expect.

I hope that, at some point in the future, publishers and booksellers will develop a standardized grid with a combination of tags and ratings that could be check marked.

As an author, I wouldn’t mind it. As a reader, I would love it.

Guest Blog for Bonnie Bliss.

Excerpt from The Witch’s Dream 2

If you read a copy of My Familiar Stranger in the past three weeks, you may have this excerpt at the end of your book.

She could see from records that Storm had been in trouble at school from the first day of first grade. Like a lot of the knights, he was too smart to be suited for the public school curriculum and the system isn’t set up to cater to individuals. Also, most adults have a really hard time liking children who are smarter than they are.

He seemed to have been born knowing things, like math for instance. His mind would grab on to a concept on first presentation and then, while his classmates struggled, he would be looking around for something to do. That something usually ended up being disruption.

Storm was loved by his parents, but school faculty was another story. He had a reputation with the teachers for instigating pandemonium in the classroom. He was the triple threat: smart, bored, and a natural leader. It wasn’t that he was a class clown, nothing so obvious or exaggerated. He just quietly went about doing whatever the hell he pleased and ignoring objections. In short, no one in his life to that point had given him adequate reason to believe that anarchy was not the best policy.

Peers wanted to be like him. If that wasn’t possible, they would settle for doing whatever he was doing. So Storm’s experience of the public school system was time spent in the hallway, the principal’s office, or in trouble at home with his parents agonizing over what to do.

At one point they thought sports might be the answer. He had an extra helping of athletic talent and one of those bodies that would have said yes to any physical demand. Unfortunately he never saw the point. To him sports represented an endless, mindless, repetition with some arbitrarily established goal that made no sense when he broke it down and it turned out to be… well, boring. Put it all together and he was a public school educator’s nightmare. He was also a textbook ideal candidate for Black Swan.

One day he was sent to the Vice Principal’s office under protest claiming that, for once, he wasn’t doing anything wrong. He sat down in his usual chair to wait for the usual carpet ride, but, instead, the door opened to reveal too many people crowded into a smallish room. That included the V.P., Storm’s parents and a tall, serious-looking guy with a piercing gaze and an unmistakable air of authority. Storm sat up straight and had only one thought. Uh oh.

The stranger wore slacks, highly polished loafers, and a sports coat.  He guessed the man was old, thirty-five maybe, but he looked hard all over like one of those athletes who can’t repeat enough Iron Man triathlons to please themselves.

Engel Storm’s father worked for the Randolph Moldavni vineyards as head winemaker. The work was personally fulfilling and he wasn’t chained to a desk in a cubicle, but it didn’t cut a path to either greatness or riches. His mother worked part time as library receptionist at the local branch of the University of California. Between the two they made enough to take care of three kids in solid middle class fashion. They could eat steak, but not every day. They had good health insurance with the vineyard. They could take a summer vacation if they drove and stayed in motels. It was an upbringing no child should complain about, but most do anyhow.

Storm’s background hadn’t afforded an education on the finer points of better men’s’ clothing, but even to an untrained eye there was a vague sense that the stranger’s style was expensive.

“Have a seat, son.” Vice Principal Rodgers motioned to an ugly metal chair with green leatherette seat and back. Storm noticed that there was a small tear in the seat that showed a little white stuffing. His mind was racing, partially occupied with the fact that Rodgers had called him “son”. He decided that meant he was in even bigger trouble than he thought, but, on the other hand, his parents looked serious, but not mad. The tall guy leaned against an old book case and looked really, really out of place against the backdrop of venetian blinds that were partly bent and a room that needed repainting.

Mr. Rodgers, better known to the student body as “Tums” as it was said his tummy entered a room five minutes before the rest of him, sat down with a plop that forced air out of the vinyl cushion seat. Another boy his age might have had to suppress a snicker, but Storm sometimes seemed more like an adult than a kid.

When the wheezing subsided, Tums said, “Engel, this is Mr. Nemamiah.” Storm looked up into flinty blue eyes that didn’t blink or apologize for staring. After a couple of seconds he wanted to look away, but pride wouldn’t let him. So he raised his chin just a hair and determined he wouldn’t give in first. Mr. Nemamiah’s expression didn’t change at all, but Storm thought he saw a little light flicker in those steely eyes. Nemamiah let him off the hook and looked away first.

 Tums continued. “It seems he’s taken an interest in you and your education.”

Storm was starting to panic. Not military school. Please. Please. Please don’t let it be military school. It was then he started calculating how long it would take him to be up, out the door, and hitchhiking on I80.

“It’s been noticed that your test scores are extraordinary. To say the least.”

Wow. That wasn’t what Storm had expected to hear next.

“Mr. Nemamiah is in a position to arrange a scholarship to a private school that develops talent such as yours for possible future work with a quasigovernmental agency. He asked that I make this introduction so that you would know that he and his organization are legitimate.”

“Develops talent? What does that mean?” Storm demanded. He directed the question to Tums, but Nememiah interjected answering in a gravelly voice.

“It means specialized training. Highly specialized.”

Storm stared at Nememiah for a couple of breaths and then barked out a laugh intended to imply rebellion, irreverence, and a healthy dose of cynicism. “Spy school? You want me for spy school?” He laughed with his whole body as only boys can – for a few seconds. Then, in the time it took to draw another breath, Storm raked a gaze up and down the older man sizing him up, reasoned through the bizarre nature of the offer and decided that first, it would not be boring and, second, it might be cool. “Okay. Sign me up.”

Mr. Nemamiah almost gave in to the temptation to smile. While such behavior might be seen as rash, impulsive, or even schizophrenic in the mundane world, the ability to quickly sort through an equation and make hard decisions on the fly was one of the traits his organization prized. Neither parent was particularly surprised. With Storm they knew the one thing they could count on was unpredictability.  

Nemamiah talked directly to Storm as if to say from now on this is between you and me. “Clean out your locker and say your goodbyes to your friends. Let them think you are going to military school. I’ll be by your house tomorrow morning at 10:00 o’clock. You and your parents will have an opportunity to ask questions. You may consider it an interview if you wish. If, at that time, you are satisfied with my answers, we will leave together. You may pack some personal things into two duffel bags, but that is optional. Everything you need will be provided for you from now on. You’re going to receive a first-class education, the kind money cannot buy, from people who will be honored to teach you.”

Storm blinked and his brows came together to form perfectionist lines that would be permanently etched into his face by the time he was twenty five. People who would be honored to teach him?

Mr. Rodgers cleared his throat. “Well,” he stood and held out his hand to Storm’s father to shake. “Thank you for coming.” He nodded to Mrs. Storm. “Give us a call tomorrow and let us know what you decide.”

Everyone in the room knew Tums would feel like he’d won the lottery if the troublemaker kid was on the way to being somebody else’s problem.

Storm’s parents waited in the car while he cleaned out his locker. In the few minutes that took, he had already made a list of questions. He couldn’t keep himself from peeking into the classroom where he would normally be looking for something to occupy his restless mind and body. When the other kids looked up and saw him at the door, he gave them a goofy smile and a wave, just so they’d know he hadn’t been led away crying or something disgraceful like that. He wanted to leave with his reputation intact.

Prune Face Blackmon followed the eyes of her students to the classroom door which stood open to the hallway. “Mr. Storm. Do you have someplace you need to be?”

He didn’t want to give her the finger. He really, really, really didn’t want to give her the finger. But he gave her the finger and trotted away grinning at the uproar of laughter from the poor douches who were going to be stuck in that hell hole the rest of the hour. “Not a bad exit,” he thought to himself. “Points shaved for lack of planning, but…”

He didn’t know where he was going or what he was going to do. But he would have felt really good about the whole thing if he had known that Sol Nemamiah would have laughed, on the inside, had he witnessed the teacher receiving a prime example of bird as a parting shot. What you want at your back if you’re heading into a nest of unknown fuck all is not a man who was afraid of a little authority as a kid. That guy will just as likely freeze and shit his pants or vice versa.

Sol’s philosophy, had he ever been asked, would have been something like, “Give me a kid with a proud third finger and I’ll give you back a vampire slayer.”

The Storm family stopped at McDonalds drive-through on the way home, then settled down at the Formica top kitchen table with a yellow, legal pad and the goal of making a comprehensive list of ask-now-or-hold-your-peace questions.

What was the scope of this “first class education that money cannot buy”?

Did it include geometry, foreign language, literature, biology?

Would he be receiving a diploma?

Would it be accepted by desirable institutions of higher learning?

Where would he be going?

Could he leave if he didn’t like it?

Would he be able to call home whenever he wanted?

Could he visit them?

Could they visit him?

Would he have a room of his own?

Would he get spending money?

Would he have an opportunity to spend spending money?

Would he be signing up to get an education or pledging himself to pay off the investment in service to a job that wasn’t his choice?

Would he have an opportunity to interact socially with others his own age?

And, did they know it wasn’t all mind-blowing test scores and high I.Q.; that he had been in trouble at school pretty much nonstop since first grade?

By the time his two siblings got home from school, Storm and his parents were agreed on which questions were deal breakers.

He and his dad pulled down two duffels they kept in the attic for camping. After packing everything he wanted to take, he hadn’t even completely filled one. That realization gave him pause, but not as much as the fact that he didn’t have any friends worth lying to about where he was going.

He didn’t sleep that night. At all. He didn’t know whether he should be excited or apprehensive. So far the information he had was cryptic at best. What he did know is that it was an adventure come knocking at his door and that this kind of thing didn’t happen every day. In fact, he’d never heard of it happening to anybody. Ever. The idea of a school that wanted him was so outrageous it made him smile to himself in the dark.

The next morning Storm said goodbye to his older brother and younger sister when they left for school, then sat down at the kitchen table with his parents to wait. His duffel was by the front door just in case. At precisely ten o’clock the doorbell rang. 

Nemamiah was invited in. He graciously accepted coffee and the four of them sat down in the modest living room for a question and answer discussion about the future of a very special boy. After all their questions had been answered, to everyone’s satisfaction, Mr. Nemamiah clicked open an old-fashioned, battered, brown, leather briefcase and withdrew a contract. 

Storm’s dad put on his reading glasses. Every one of the questions they had asked was covered in the contract already. It spelled out what they would do for Engel Storm. It spelled out that the initial choice of facility would be theirs, but that he might be transferred at any time at the discretion of Saint Black’s which was the parents’ code name for the organization. Storm and his parents agreed not to say anything other than that he was awarded a scholarship to a private school. When Mr. Storm was finished reading, he handed the contract to his wife and asked Mr. Nemamiah to excuse him and his son. He took Storm into the back room, closed the door, and gestured for him to sit on the bed.

“Your mother and I want to do the right thing, the best thing, for you. If you decide to accept this offer, we want to be sure that you’re doing it for you and not for… any other reason. We love you enough to let you go if you’re inclined to think this is the best thing, but we want you to stay if it’s not. Do you understand?” Storm nodded and tried to swallow back the lump in his throat. That was the longest speech his father had ever made, that he knew of, and he heard the love in it loud and clear. “Alright. You know what you want to do?” Storm nodded again.

So Storm and his parents signed the contract. He gave his mother a big hug and tried not to notice how hard she was working to keep the moisture in her eyes from spilling over. He was already two inches taller and could look down on her when she wasn’t wearing heels. He was more trouble than the other two put together… more trouble to the third power. Even so, although she would never admit it even to herself, he was her favorite.

He stowed the half filled duffel in the trunk of Nemamiah’s understated black sedan and waved to his parents who were standing in the front yard watching him drive away. He had just turned fourteen.

They drove south toward San Francisco. Nemamiah wasn’t big on small talk, but he told Storm he was welcome to listen to whatever radio station he liked. He then rolled the driver’s side window part way down and lit a little, thin, black cigar.

They kept driving until they reached the naval base at Treasure Island. They were headed for the compound in the middle surrounded by a twenty foot wall. They passed three checkpoints where guards recognized Nemamiah and waved him through. As they passed a gorgeous old, graceful mansion with lawns and tennis courts, Nemamiah said it had once been an Admiral’s home, but that it was being used for the school now, that Storm would eat and enjoy leisure time there.

They parked next to a brick building, opened the door with a key card, and entered a long dormitory-style hallway. Each door had a name plate. When they stopped mid way to the end, Storm looked at the door. The name plate said Engel Storm.

He reached up to run his fingers over the lettering. “Wow. You must have been pretty sure I’d come.”

Nemamiah didn’t smile, but his eyes did soften just a touch. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, Mr. Storm. We know what we’re looking for.” He turned the knob and swung the door open. “And you’re it.”

Interview Today on Paranormal Romantic Suspense Blog 2

http://sjclarke.com/blog-2/

August, 30, 2012

Welcome, Victoria, I want to start with sharing some insights into your general writing style, then delve a little deeper to get your thoughts on the Paranormal Romance genre as a whole.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? My working theory is that, if you watch children carefully, they will show you who they really are by the time they are eight or nine. At that age I had two stacks of legal pads on my bed. One I used to sketch glamorous evening wear. The other I used to write my own BobbseyTwins novels. I did spend a few years as a designer of glam dresses and was copied by the biggest names in the business. I had a big following in the Northeast, South America, and Europe and still see some of my dresses show up in the movies. So I checked that off the list and did it until I was done. Now I’m writing.

You were definitely gifted with the creative gene.  How do you keep track of plot elements or twists? I start with a skeletal outline then copy it to a second document which I call my “extended” outline. That’s the one that gets fleshed out and will eventually become a book. I have to have it because I often wake up in the night with a thought I want to include and need to be able to plug it into a story “timeline”.

Have you ever made big changes in your story because someone – your crit partner, a friend, or beta reader – really didn’t like it? Are you glad you did (or didn’t)? The answer is yes, but the someone was one of the characters. My Familiar Stranger started out to be a different story. My heroine was supposed to end up with the character of my choice. I was about 80% finished when another one of the guys (characters) started insisting it was him! I let him make his case and finally had to agree, but it caused a lot of overhaul.

Have you ever suffered from “writer’s block”? What did you do to get past the “block”? Honestly I don’t know exactly what it is or how it feels, but I suspect it’s just a matter of stepping on the conduit between our minds and the creativity that is always flowing freely and available to everyone – just like stepping on the garden hose. I’m into creativity on several different fronts including art, music, and writing fiction. When I need a dollop of inspiration, it’s always there for me – KNOCK ON WOOD !!!!

My process is that I get completely quiet and completely still, close my eyes, and simply say, “Bring me a melody.” Or plot point or whatever. Fill in the blank. This method is as reliable as my belief that the sun will rise tomorrow in the east with or without me. I should add that a lifetime of “seeking” is a factor in the sense that I have been practicing meditation for twenty years and can achieve a state of concentration fairly quickly. I recommend it for creative pursuits of any kind.

I truly envy you that ability. I’d go so far as to call it jealousy.☺Let’s move on to writing PNR. What’s your paranormal element of choice? If pressed, I guess I would choose to write about magic, but my reading preference is probably earthy, sex-starved, one woman werewolves.

Is there any area or element of this genre you read but will never write about? At various times I have read about ghosts, but it’s unlikely I will write about them.

How do you research the paranormal elements in your story? Spent my life researching. Now I just write. I had formal academic training in parapsychology in the eighties and worked as a professional “metaphysician” and hypnotherapist (including past life regression) in the nineties. It was part of my job to read lots of non-fiction on these subject and to study with masters on the subject. A lot of the scifi and fantasy influence began with preadolescent reading of fiction that had been written for adults.

Many people feel the PNR genre is on the way out. Do you agree? Are there any changes you’d make to stay on the cutting edge of this genre? Will you change genres? I think that will be true if more authors don’t stop the vamp-by-number, more-weres-the-better rehash and try for something different.

Before I started writing I spent two full years reading every PNR that had enjoyed any success to find out what had already been done, then set out to create something new. I get a lot of feedback that starts by saying, “I don’t really know what genre to put this in…” I love comments like, “She explodes stereotypes.”

Also, I’m writing true Paranormal Romance. It’s not paranormal suspense or paranormal mystery or paranormal thriller with a love interest back story. The romance is the main plot for me. And romance is never going to be on the way out.

FREE Labor Day Weekend. Reply

Put it on your calendar and tell your friends.

E-book version FREE on Amazon.com all Labor Day weekend, three days, Sept. 1-3.

Link to download.

My Familiar Stranger Now Available in Print. Reply

Click here to buy in paperback form from Amazon.com.

FINALLY! To all of you who have asked for this book in print form, here you go. Enjoy.

Guest Post on Creative Writing Reply

Victoria pens a guest blog on the future of creative writing for Ravencrafts’s Realm Blog. August 23, 2012

People ask me about “writers’ block” more often than you might guess. Honestly I don’t know exactly what it is or how it feels. I’m into creativity on several different fronts including art, music, and writing fiction. When I need a dollop of inspiration, it’s always there for me – KNOCK ON WOOD !!!!

My process is that I get completely quiet and completely still, close my eyes, and simply say, “Bring me a melody.” Or plot point or whatever. Fill in the blank. This method is as reliable as my belief that the sun will rise tomorrow in the east with or without me. I should add that a lifetime of “seeking” is a factor in the sense that I have been practicing meditation for twenty years and can achieve a state of concentration fairly quickly.

What do I need to make that happen? Not props or tools or other people or magick words or ritual or any other external thing. EXCEPT silence. Of course those of us who live in or near a city never experience true silence because our nervous systems are under siege by thousands of refrigerators humming and thousands of motor rpm’s grinding on the roads, whether we’re consciously aware of it or not.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the advantages of living in a technological age as much

as the next person and even more than most. Were it not for the internet I would not be sharing these thoughts with you now because my first book wouldn’t have taken off due to Amazon.com and electronic reading.

My problem is not with technology. Truthfully, I do love it and could probably write love

sonnets about movies, TV, recorded music, the convenience of internet research, not to mention electric guitars and fast cars. I would hate giving up all that cool stuff and would fight to keep it.        No. That’s not the problem. The problem is that I feel like my choice is being taken away. Little by little, in a most insidious fashion, I have experienced what I’ll call “noise creep” which finally came to a head at the gas pump. See the thing is that all I need to be creative is to be left the hell alone. Give me a few minutes and I may have a great idea. Whether that idea is a  book or song or painting isn’t important. What’s important is the creative exercise.

There was a time when I could get something else done if I was forced to be on hold. I trained myself to “tune out” elevator music, but there’s just no way I can “tune out” looped commercials. PLEASE, I’M BEGGING YOU, NOT AGAIN!!!

There was a time when I could wait in line at the bank and keep the company of my own thoughts. Now I get CNN on overhead TV monitor.

There was a time when I could wait for a plane in the boarding area with my book or my thoughts. No more. Overhead speakers wired into the fancy flat screens spaced at regular intervals mean I’m held prisoner by whatever is playing.

When I was in Ireland, the pubs that had been a place of gathering and conversation for literally centuries were being retrofitted with big flat screens for football (soccer) and turned into sports bars. Progress? You decide.

For me the tipping point was the new gas pumps with the viewing screen and obnoxiously loud speakers with snippets of news and commercials. I started pushing every button I could see. Eventually I found one that turned the sound off. Thank the gods.

So, with all this encroachment on our “alone” time and by that I mean the time when we get to enjoy the companionship of ourselves sharing communion with ourselves, how are we supposed to be creative? How can we function in this riotous new world that seems to CONSPIRE to keep us from thinking?

Don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind that, the more you can distract people and keep them from thinking, the easier they are to lead. Shades of decades-old science fiction. Do I think all these portals that are vying for my attention are interlocked in a conspiracy with that old guy who runs G.E. at the helm? I’m not willing to go that far, but, I will say that merchants are always looking for a bigger, louder megaphone than the vendor in the metaphoric stall next to them.

Can we rise above this? Sure. But only if we’re aware of it.

Why should you care? Because our one true expression of the divine is creativity. All the other mammals eat, work, play, and procreate. This is the only thing that sets us apart. Whether you find that expression in writing fiction or sculpting mud pies with your kids is unimportant. What is important is finding a path to that expression even when it gets harder.

Now I really should say something about my books since I was given the opportunity to guest post.

The second book in my paranormal romance/fantasy/18+ series (heavy on the romance) will be released October 14th on Amazon.com in print and ebook. Being the second book in a series, The Witch’s Dream draws from characters and situation presented in the first book, My Familiar Stranger, available in e-format and in print within a few days. I will be releasing more excerpts between now and mid October and the book trailer will be available October 1st. Visit me on Facebook for up to date news. http://www.facebook.com/vdanann

Author Interview Today on Roxanne’s Realm 1

Roxanne’s Realm Interview Questions

www.roxannesrealm.blogspot.com

 

1. What inspired you to become an author?

          My father was a great orator. He loved books and loved words – how they can be put together to inspire, to persuade, or even used as weapons. After I had exhausted the Bobbsey Twins series and Child Craft, he bought me the set of Scribner classics which was a library of the best literature for young readers. These included Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Fenimore Cooper and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

          Out of all those stories, I was captivated by the two that featured a young female protagonist who was physically capable and intellectually superior. One of these was a fairy tale called “The Last Dragon”. The other was one of the Arabian Nights.

          I wrote a lot of Bobbsey Twins novels as a preteen and wrote several pages of a paranormal romance in my mid-twenties, but put it down when it failed to impress my spouse. Now it’s excruciatingly obvious that he is not the reader I’m trying to please. Duh.

          Anyway, all this is to say the answer to the question is two words: Kresley Cole. I discovered her books two years ago and remembered how I loved those proactive young women and their adventures. I then set a goal to try and carve out time for writing. Kresley – thank you. You’re the best. 

 

2. Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve never had a class on writing so I don’t know how to answer this question. I have picked up some of the inner circle writer’s lingo from reviews because I had to look up what POV means. I can tell you that, three months after initial publication, my target audience are right brained, meaning women who want to become emotionally engaged by a story, leave reality behind for a few hours, and come to the end of the book wishing they could experience it all over again. If you nodded and laughed when, in the movie “Dead Poets’ Society”, the Robin Williams character told the class to tear out the page that attempted to graph poetry, high fives all around. In my opinion, if you’re not a rebel, you’re probably not a writer.

 

3. How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

          Right up until release, the working title was Familiar Stranger  taken from the song, “Stranger” by Jefferson Starship. At the last minute I searched Amazon and discovered that there were several other books by that name. So I added the “My” to get a unique title.

4. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes and I use it in promotional material all the time. The message is that true love can find you when you least expect it, in the strangest places, even when you’re far, far from home.

5. Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

We are all defined by our experiences. Certainly that includes writers. Characters and events in my books are a little like a house of mirrors. They may be based on something real, but expanded, elongated, distorted, or otherwise manipulated into what serves the story best. They may just as easily be based on an idea gleaned from another book or a movie. Once I digest media through my own filter, it’s also a true life experience.  

6. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

          Kresley Cole. I have never interacted with her by any means. If I were she, I would think it strange to be considered a mentor by someone I didn’t know existed. But there it is. As I say in my books – often – life is strange.

7. What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

          The third book in The Order of the Black Swan series entitled “The Summoner’s Tale” expected to release February 14, 2013.

8. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I am locked in a life/death battle with time and, although I fight the good fight, I suspect I’m predestined to lose. If I had four clones, I would still not have enough time to pursue every interest or project I’d like.

          I still publish Seasons of the Witch  every year and oversee the operations at 7th House. The only way I could find time for writing was to back off music. My Classic Rock band broke up a few months ago. I can say I had the full rock and roll experience. I got to play Warrior Dash to 35,000 people and I got to play late night biker bars to fifteen people. It ended with slamming doors, lots of f u’s, and “I wouldn’t play with you again if you were the last bass player on earth!” type proclamations. Sigh.   

          So, rather than get with another band, I took that time and applied it to improving my guitar (my first instrument is keys). And started writing.

10. Who designed the cover of your latest book?

          I do the covers and the book trailers personally. It’s not that I’m controlling. Okay. Well. Maybe it is.

11. Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?

The song that backs the book trailer for My Familiar Stranger is “At Last”, the classic love song originally recorded by Etta James. The version on the book trailer is done by Alicia Brass who is lead singer for a popular Houston variety band that I manage and, I might add, she is better than the late, great Etta James.

          The song that backs the book trailer for The Witch’s Dream is actually an integral part of the story. I found a real life (or close enough) Rammel Hawking who backs the book trailer with an acoustic version of the mystery song – used with his permission, of course. I plan to release the book trailer on October 1st, two weeks before the book in available for download.

 

Guest Blog on Grave Tells Reply

http://gravetells.com/2012/08/09/book-tour-what-do-women-really-want-romance-or-action/

MY GUEST BLOG FOR GRAVE TELLS:

For me, there are two basic categories of fiction. Is it fiction set in reality as we experience it or is it fiction that takes place in a world that exists only in someone’s imagination?

I’ve never understood why someone would opt for the first if they could have the second. I mean, have you been here? To contemporary life on Earth? Why would you want to spend your precious leisure hours reading about that when you could be transported to a world that has been tweaked and debugged?

Taking that a step further, I write paranormal ROMANCE, heavy on the romance, because I think it holds the key to the answer to the giveaway question I love to ask which is: what do women really want? I love men, but I write for women. We want different things. Again, what’s in my imagination is better than what’s actually outside the door.

I mention that my books are heavy on romance because there is a lot of confusion between paranormal romance and paranormal suspense. A book can be classified as a romance when unless the love interest is the main plot and not the subplot. An action/thriller with paranormal elements and romantic elements is paranormal suspense.

One of the most satisfying things about reactions to the first book of the PNR series The Order of the Black Swan, entitled My Familiar Stranger, is that different readers fall in love with each of her three suitors and then write to tell me they wanted her to end up with this one or that. Someday I’m going to take a poll: Were you rooting for bachelor #1, 2, or 3?

Don’t worry. Each of them gets a story. In fact the next book, The Witch’s Dream, to be released in electronic format on October 14th, is one of those. Whereas My Familiar Stranger could be read and enjoyed as a stand alone novel, the second book picks up where the first ends which means readers will benefit greatly by reading the first book first. That’s why I have insisted the cost of My Familiar Stranger be kept to $.99 so that everyone who is so inclined has a chance to get in on the beginning of the series.