Let me be the first to wish you all the best in 2016. I know it’s been a long time (well longer than usual). I’ve been busy editing, working, visiting with friends and family (more so the past week than the previous month) and of course obsessing over all thing Star Wars!
I’ve also been smothered with a Christmas cold 🙁 But I’ve got medicine (and booze) so I’ll be fine. In case you’re wondering I have the shirt above and when you press the hat on the left it lights up! Lovely early Xmas gift from my wife =) Before I get too deep into Star Wars and how it’s affected my writing (and of course a few thoughts on the new movie) I wanted to let you know I did just send the latest version of third vampire novel “The Newfoundland Vampire book 3: The Gathering Dark” over to my editor (I’ll do a post on editing next month) so that means the great folks (which includes me, yay!) at Distinguished Press will hopefully make it available to you sometime in first the six month of 2016.
Now back to Star Wars 😉 Seriously I have loved both Star Wars and Star Trek since I was little (Trek a little longer I’ll admit) and while my heart was broken and my faith shaken by those travesties called “the prequels”, once I learned George Lucas was out and Disney had taken over, I was ready to fall in love again. I got back into the Star Wars comics, read some of the novels (some are okay), played the video games (some of the new Star Wars app are a lot of fun) and even found myself writing a Star Wars novel (spoiler, I never finished it and I don’t even know what happened to it). Who didn’t imagine wielding a lightsaber and using the force?
When I was writing my first book my previous editor said (I’m paraphrasing of course) “how many times have you seen Star Wars? People don’t always need to have their hands chopped off during a fight!” While I write vampire books (and some short stories) I put in a lot of geeky references and Star Wars was no exception. In fact while my vampires fight with swords, I often imagine what the melee would be light with lightsabers. I also based one of my vampires powers on Star Wars, just as Luke can sense Vader’s presence on Endor (and Vader senses his old master on the Death Star), my vampires can sense each other from miles away.
Perhaps more importantly though I have always been fascinated with the difference between good and evil, I’ve always wanted to explore what makes a person do terrible acts and I often like to explore the idea that no one is completely without hope or in other words “I know there is good in you. The Emperor hasn’t driven from you fully.” Star Wars presents a fascinating idea, no matter how far you have fallen there is always the chance for redemption, the chance to make it right. While Vader or Emperor Palpatine are extreme examples (as are several characters in my books) there are others that have a taste of the dark side, ones that are tempted by evil or even straddle the line on more than one occasion.
I think for me Star Wars gave the important idea that characters (and stories) can have an arc, things can take an unexpected twist and ultimately end up in places (or acting in ways) you never imagined initially. I’ve always admired Star Wars for having the guys to develop a character like Darth Vader who (for over half of Episodes I-VI) is a villain and yet still be the main character. Vader often wins and ultimately is the hero once more by the end of Episode VI.
While Lucas (I believe) got caught up with technology and special effects far too much in Episodes I-III, he is still a great storyteller that presented a rich world full of interesting characters and ideas that continue to capture the imagination of audiences/readers all over the world.
So about two weeks ago it happened (You knew I was getting to this) Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens finally came out. I won’t get into my whole review (if you’re seen the movie my review is here, it has SPOILERS! You’ve been warned) but I’m back in love with Star Wars. The movie showed what good writing, action and directing in the right hands can do. Fans new and old alike (and yeah I’m getting old, whatever that means) can enjoy it once more, the arc is growing and the story goes on.
So does Star Wars inspire you? Do you love it? Hate it? Do you reference other materials in your writing? And more important, have you seen the Force Awakens? And if not, GO SEE IT! 😉 Seriously I hope you all continue to enjoy the holidays season and if you’ve ready this a little late, happy 2016!
In early March I experienced a very strange moment. My breasts had been hurting for a couple days, and when I mentioned it to a friend her immediate response had been to ask, “Are you pregnant?”
Well, I stared at the computer screen for awhile with this dulled, blank look on my face as the consequences of potentially being pregnant washed over me. There were the sort of concerns and fears most people have about being able to afford having a child, health insurance, and (selfishly) how it would change my life if my life wasn’t about me anymore. Would I even be a good mother? I’m a great mom to fur babies, but a human baby is completely different. I’d be responsible for raising a child who would have to interact with society. No pressure.
I’d never felt so many emotions as we drove to the store to stock up on pregnancy tests. Excitement. Fear. The purest of both that I’ve ever felt. We talked about names, jokingly, because joking is how we both deal with stress. I barricaded myself in the bathroom and drank glass after glass of water, and then I called him to the door. I didn’t say a word as he opened it, but he lit up when he said, “Are we having a baby? Oh my God, we’re having a baby, aren’t we?”
I told him I wanted more cold water. Yes, I survived that moment.
I didn’t call him to the door, however, when my bladder was so full I had almost no choice except to pee on the stick. I instead had a private little meltdown by myself that involved a few tears, lots of smiling, and borderline hyperventilating. I had a freaking tiny human growing in me who was utterly reliant on me. I was pregnant.
Before I became pregnant, it seemed like the half-assed way to add drama to a story. Dare I say…the easy way out? PREGNANT would always illicit an eye roll from me, even when it came from the best authors. Gwen in The Kiss of the Highlander by KMM? Blech. The mention of Xhex possibly being pregnant after being raped by Lash was marginally better, although (SPOILER ALERT) she wasn’t. It was with some (many) reservations that I decided to incorporate pregnancy into one of my upcoming novels. I loathe to be a hypocrite, but was convinced that the end justified the means when it came to moving the development of the character forward. My understanding of pregnancy itself had been shallow and superficial. I greatly underestimated the experience. Perhaps that’s part of why it’s been sitting on my shelf, untouched, while people clamor for this sequel.
I’ve met a version of myself I never knew existed. One who swings through phases of eating all-organic and dotes on onesies before catapulting to the nearest Cinnabon, and laments her misery over a caramel pecanbon to whoever will listen. I’ve become multifaceted to the point of almost multiple personalities. My pregnancy hasn’t been terrible, although neither has it been smooth. My normally dormant Tietze Syndrome has become the bane of my existence and I endure pain 24/7, and my IBD is at war with most of my pregnancy cravings. Being pregnant had never been a viable “excuse” before in regard to how people acted. Now I’m riding a roller coaster where censoring myself into staying well-behaved is…hard. Just today, as I sat trying on my first ever pair of Crocs, some kids walked by and shouted into the store at me. It took almost more self-control than I could muster to not go running after them and berate them. I’m six months pregnant, my feet hurt, and you think it’s smart to mock me trying on Crocs? I’ll show you, you little whippersnappers! In fact, the only thing I think stopping me was the fact that my feet hurt too much to chase after them.
The Red Wedding in Game of Thrones is my worst nightmare. In my head I’m already reacting to situations with the sole interests of protecting the unborn young who is brutally hiccuping and kicking me when I’m trying to sleep. A car accident is my most immediate concern, and it’s constantly on my mind. I’d like to say I’m driving like a grandma, except I think we all know old folk are rather…reckless when they’re on the road. My own grandmother could drive blocker for a truck of illegal Coors. I was reading a book a week ago where the female MC learned she was pregnant, and didn’t tell the father on the basis that his previous (and likewise pregnant) fiancee had been shot dead by the mob. Before pregnancy I would’ve just rolled my eyes until they spun right out of my head. How cliche, how ridiculous. But now? It hit me right in the fucking feels. While I might not be pregnant with the spawn of a mobster (I try to take what blessings I find), I could understand. Or, perhaps a better way to phrase it, I finally understood.
I still intend for my character to be pregnant. I intend it more than ever now because instead of thinking it will change her a certain way, I know for a fact it will. And it will make my story fantastic.
It’s a well-known fact that I don’t write much in the way of romance. When I was writing the short story “Space in the Fall” for Persephone’s Song, I brought in my friend Jadeleath to help me out with the parts that were supposed to sizzle. When the Gloves Come Off is an exercise in growth, but still very much plot driven. There’s action. Boxing! Mobsters! Drama! I’ve realized in my ‘old age’ that I’m an author who doesn’t mind including romance…so long as it furthers the plot. So long as it fits the situation and the characters, and wasn’t thrown in for the sake of having a sex scene.
Even though I don’t write much romance, I love reading it. Some of my library staples are Karen Marie Moning and J.R. Ward. Many of my favorite books are love stories. I watch promoters online like a hawk, looking for romances to go on .99 cent promotions or — even better — free! I hoard them and go on reading binges when I am running out of steam for my own writing. Sometimes it’s nice to step out of the worlds I’m building and just live in someone else’s for awhile. The problem I’ve been encountering lately, however, is that everyone else’s worlds…kind of suck.
I have been suffering a drought of love stories. My Kindle, brimming with them, contained only about three or four who deserved even a four star review on Amazon. The consistent problem I found was that the story itself was taking a backseat for the smut.
I don’t mind characters having sex. That’s what people do! My problem is when authors bend characters into doing things that people don’t do. Mob boss kidnaps a girl as collateral for her father’s unpaid debts? Makes sense. Girl immediately hops into bed with said mob boss? Not so much. Or–and this one killed me–girl studying abroad is making eye contact with this handsome, debonaire stranger from across the museum gallery. He approaches her and has the mouth of a pig and is a complete dick. Naturally she’s going to just go for it! Right? Because isn’t that was people do? I can’t speak for anyone else, but not any people I know.
Authors are coming up with great, vibrant ideas. Mobsters might be fading out, but motorcycle clubs and Russians are all the rage right now. I love it! But when your leading lady falls in love after knowing your hero for only a day (generally immediately after having sex, no less), you lose the romance. Part of what I love about authors like KMM and the Warden are that they BUILD the relationship. It doesn’t happen in an instant. They let the characters banter and sizzle and get to know one another. They let the characters fall in love with each other because of who they are. Not because their leading lady needs to sleep with the leader of the MC to guarantee her safety and she lays there after thinking he’s the One. Let your leading lady sleep with him for whatever the reasons might be, but let the lovebuild. Let the love happen naturally. And don’t let that love be overshadowed by the sex.
Dear romance authors around the world, please stop forcing the love through physical encounters and please, please, please stop letting the plot take a backseat to that forced love. If you really want to leave your audience truly hot and bothered and begging for more, #romanceyourreaders
I got the chance to get a little crazy with author Sarah Jayne Carr and this is what happens when we’re both lacking caffeine or sleep… or both. She’s an awesome chick, a fantastic author, and a good friend of mine. Give it up for the sensational Sarah!
Sarah Jayne Carr is a novelist who can be found most evenings with a cup of tea in-hand and her imagination racing from plot to plot. When away from her work, part of her mind is constantly brainstorming her next story and she always has writing paraphernalia within reach.
She wrote stories as a child, but became more serious about her passion during her twenties. In her spare time, she likes to read, splash in mud puddles, smell bookstores and eat Honeycrisp apples. Yearly, she participates in NaNoWriMo and has mentored others through the program. Due to her dedication to National Novel Writing Month, she is part of an amazing writing group.
Born and raised in Washington State, Sarah still resides in the area. Her life is richly filled with her supportive, yet swashbuckling husband and their golden Nugget.
Sarah Jayne Carr
Tell me something you want people to know about you: I have an abnormally long tongue. Oh? Not a fact that random? I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and I’m a six-time champion. My muse wears the diamond-crusted medals to prove it. It’s too bad she lives inside my imagination; the value decreases drastically when compared to tangible diamond-crusted medals. 😉 My NaNo stories from 2005 and 2009 have been published: Revealing Hamilton and Embracing Hamilton.
Tell us how you live or walk us through a normal day for you: How do I live? Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. 😉
A day only feels “normal” to me if I’m able to squeeze in time to write. If I don’t write, I feel “off”. My schedule differs each day, so it includes juggling…chainsaws. A lot of chainsaws.
Are you a full-time writer? If not, tell us about your day job: Oh, to dream! By day, I work in radiology billing. By night, I’m a novelist (that’s when I put on the spandex and the cape). Watch out, Washington. Kidding. My day job is very number-oriented–much different from the writing world. In a sense, I achieve a balance this way and that allows the world to remain on its axis. You’re welcome.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? The “theme” of my stories doesn’t manifest until after I’ve written them. I don’t go into a story with an elaborately mapped out plan for what the reader should come away with. I go into a story thinking about how I can punish Amelia. Then, I think about what can make her life ten times worse. It’s sad, but true. In all honesty, reading is a personal experience and everyone interprets messages and envisions characters/scenery within stories in their own way. If I asked you to imagine a fire-eating clown juggling miniature unicorns while singing Spanish opera, I’ll bet they’d all appear differently. (When I’m sleepy, I become random. Yes, I’m tired. How could you tell?) Readers have all led different lives with different experiences. With that said, they may pull different “messages” from my stories so I don’t aim to pinpoint a certain one as I’m writing.
How much of the book is based off personal experiences? Within my stories, there are many real-life experiences woven throughout the pages. I’m usually pretty quiet regarding which parts are reality and which parts are pure fiction. One instance of a personal experience? Within the pages of Embracing Hamilton, there’s a morgue scene. For the sake of research, I visited a morgue. I needed to see/smell/hear/touch (not taste, that would just be wrong) everything to write the scene accurately. From the metallic sound of the garbage disposal to the salty smell of the body cooler (yes, there were bodies within), I was able to put Amelia in the necessary situation.
What are your current projects? I’m working on the third full-length novel in the JackRabbit7 series. It’s called Hunting Hamilton. Additionally, I’m working on the third JackRabbit7 prequel. It’s called Concealing Torres. I have a few other stories marinating inside my head—not JackRabbit7-related. Whenever those characters try to emerge, Amelia puts them in a headlock and knees them in the face. Right now, she’s still in the spotlight and isn’t ready to give it up yet.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? My cousins and I used to write short stories when we were kids. Throughout my teenage years, I didn’t give writing a second thought (outside of school). When I hit my mid-twenties, I was wandering around a local bookstore. Unable to find the book I wanted to read, I realized it hadn’t been written yet. However, I wasn’t sure where to begin. Shortly thereafter, I learned of a program called National Novel Writing Month. I heard marvelous stories of people who wrote 50,000-words in a month. I wanted to be one of those people and I made it happen. The rest is history.
Do you ever experience writer’s block and how do you overcome it? Pffft. I eat writer’s block for breakfast. Two lumps of sugar and cream, please. Okay, the real answer is…<pause for dramatic effect> I don’t believe in writer’s block. If there’s a block, something is wrong with the story. In these times, I treat these “hurdles” like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story. If there’s a stumbling block in front of Amelia that I can’t figure out, I try to take a detour with the scene. It works. In the past, I’ve also tried writing the scene from the perspective of a supporting character. It’s helped too. To date, I haven’t had to use my flare gun to signal for help so I must be doing something right for my muse.
What project are you working on now? Is this déjà vu from three questions ago? You know I’m going to be snarky. Right now? I’m working on this interview. What are you working on right now? 😉 Coey: Nothing… 🙁
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers? Write. Everyday. If you wait for inspiration to strike, you’ll be waiting a long time. The more you practice the craft, the deeper you’ll be involved with your characters.
Before we get to the crazy questions, check out the trailer for Revealing Hamilton by Sarah Jayne Carr.
Sarah, The Zombie Apocalypse is a scientific possibility. What’s your plan when it happens? I’m headed to the cemetery with mallet to play Whack-A-Mole.
If you wrong someone, how do you apologize? With a singing telegram, of course. By the way, Coey? I’m sorry I stole your unicorn. Make sure you’re home tomorrow between 11 and 2. A man in a lobster suit is going to stop by and sing a rousing rendition of Crossfade’s “Cold” to you. Creepy, isn’t it? Coey: You always know exactly the right thing to give a person. 🙂
If you get cheated by the Better Business Bureau, who do you complain to? There’s no need to work my way any higher up the chain. Instead, I’ll just write them into my next novel. Then, there aren’t any repercussions for my actions. <insert maniacal laugh here> Coey: If you insist…
If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how will anyone ever know? No one will…except for Merriam-Webster. As I hop in my time machine, I envision Noah Webster, George Merriam, and Charles Merriam sitting back in leather armchairs. The setting is an office with oak furniture and crushed red velvet curtains. It’s late in the evening. They’re smoking cigars and laughing as they screw with the population by altering snippets of dictionary. Did I mention they’ve had too much to drink? I can’t see this ending well…
If you were stranded in the remote wilderness would you eat one of your dead traveling companions to survive? Is one of my dead traveling companions a cow livestock? If so, bring it on.
Would you volunteer to be one of the first colonists on Mars if it meant you could never return to earth? I need clarification here. Are we talking about Mars (the planet) or Mars (the candy bar)? Right now, I’m distracted as I think about chocolate so I’m willing to take you up on your offer of caramel and nougat.
If it is after midnight and you do not want to go home yet, where do you go? Coey, you’re so funny! I have a two-year old. I turn into a pumpkin at midnight. Then, I can’t fit through the door, I spend the night out in the cold, and I get cranky. No one likes a cranky Sarah.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I understand you’re an author, so I’m going to forgive your Internet browser history.
I swallowed and shook my head as tears slid down my cheeks. “Dane, don’t.” I gulped. “Gasoline. He has a gun. Matches.” —Engaging Kennewick
Molly Kennewick is involved in a long-distance relationship with a secretive IA employee named Dane Pascall. A prior breakup gone wrong with a resident bad boy leaves a bad taste in Molly’s mouth and also leaves her on edge. A significant amount of time has passed since Axel vanished from her life, but he’s been reminding her of his presence in peculiar ways. A weekend getaway is what Molly believes she needs to clear her head, but history is waiting with bated breath to repeat itself. Can Molly resolve her past and present before her future goes up in flames?
I had the great pleasure of getting the scoop on Author, Jay Ellis. Right from the start, I want to thank him for taking the time to tell us about himself, answer my batty questions, and I hope you have as much fun as I did getting his responses. So, thank you, Jay. The pleasure was mine.
Jay Ellis writes primarily Fantasy, for teen readers. He’s been writing for about 17 years from Essex, UK.
… and I’m sorry, ladies, he’s engaged. He proposed to his fiance, Tammy, on Valentine’s Day. How romantic is that? He’s the proud father of three little boys under the age of seven and it’s a wonder he has time for anything else!
“Before you pick up the pen to write, make sure you realize how long you’ll carry it for and how heavy it will be” -Jay Ellis
I met Jay Ellis several months ago and he’s kept me entertained with his wit, humor and charm since day-one. Something about his English accent makes him even more interesting. He’s self-publishing, he designs his own book covers, and he’s always working on something new. He’s been an inspiration to me since I’ve known him, just don’t have the coffee vs. tea argument with this bloke. He’s English and very serious about his tea.
Let’s get to it, then. I asked, ‘Who is Jay Ellis?’ I want to know more than the basics but I did cover all the good stuff, as well.
I wanted to have some fun. I asked Jay some questions just to see what he would come up with. As a writer, it’s our job to create. Day after day, we spend our lives exaggerating, embellishing, telling stories and doing the best we can to entertain those around us. I wanted to put him on the spot and test his ability to talk his way through some confounding questions. Also, I like to hear him talk… So, check it out. Jay Ellis tells us what he’s going to do in a Zombie Apocalypse, why Superheroes wear their underpants on the outside, and much more.
Hypothetical Hotspot with Jay Ellis.
“Jason Ellis – Wears a cap, he’s English and he drinks tea. His books must be great!”
Jay has a plethora of books to choose from on Amazon.com, so, head on over there and check out the many titles he has to offer. Here’s some additional links to get you started.
My iPhone buzzed to remind me I needed to write a blog post today. Yes, as sad as may seem I need the calendar function to remind me of such things. If I don’t I get into bed at night and think ‘blast I should’ve…’ I logged with a head full of ideas what to write, then it struck. The empty page phenomenon. What happens is a minuscule naughty imp jumps up, creeps in through your ear and whizzes the words straight out of your brain again. I’ve tried cotton wool, but it actually seems to like the stuff… I digress.
The only way to beat him is to type or write anything. You see he is not very clever, he thinks if he steals your ideas he himself becomes cleverer, but we as writers are smarter than a naughty imp. Put anything down, what you are going to cook for dinner. What colour socks you’re wearing, bare feet today by the way, too warm for socks. In short anything. Then what happens is he gives up a lot of the ideas again. He may retain the ghost of ideas, but they’re probably not the best ones.
Now you know what to do. I do find in general the plot bunnies keep him firmly under control, but you know bunnies they occasionally go off and do bunny things. Then he takes chance and sneaks up. If you are finding your bunnies are not behaving… Well that is an entirely new blog post all of its own.
Genre: Humorous Fiction, nostalgia, coming of age.
Length: 44,000 words
Appropriate for ages: 10 to 91
Synopsis:A King in a Court of Fools begins with a book — The Book of Tom — a journal writing assignment from Tom Ryan’s sixth-grade teacher, Sister Jeanne Lorette. That’s what she called it anyway. Tom called it punishment. In it, he chronicles the adventures of the Caswell Gang, a group of siblings and friends with two things in common — their love of adventure and their allegiance to Tom, their king.
The 1950s book was misplaced a long time ago, and all the children have since grown up, but Tom’s youngest brother, Harry still remembers it and retells for us one of its many stories in a nostalgic, heartwarming, and humorous way that brings the 1950s to life. The serial published weekly and now available in book form, was followed by thousands and received an overwhelming positive response. It appeals to children and adults alike and will have you wishing for adventure, too.
About the book: A King in a Court of Fools, originally published as a serial novel, is Larry Enright’s second published work. Read by thousands each week, it is humorous, nostalgic fiction about kids growing up in the 1950s and has been already enjoyed by ages ten through ninety-one. It is available in both eBook and paperback from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. Click for details to Purchase or sample A King in a Court of Fools.
About the author: Larry Enright was born to Irish Catholic first-generation immigrants and raised in Pittsburgh. After college, he moved to the Philadelphia area where for the past 40 years he has filled his life with many careers including musician, teacher, programmer, researcher, and writer. He has written three other novels, including the best-selling Four Years from Home. Visit Larry Enright’s site.