Weekly Question: Inspiration

What story has recently inspired/moved you?

I haven’t read a published book in nearly two years. I’ve been sucked into the writing community (Scribophile), where I’ve been critiquing as a beta-reader. I’ve read dozens of completed manuscripts and have gained my inspiration from those unpublished works. A fellow author, Susan Boesger, posted her urban/contemporary fantasy on the site when I first joined. I gobbled up the first book and devoured the second book. I’d never read anything about magical beings, mythology, or the like. It opened my eyes to another world, one that I wanted to be a part of. Her novels sparked the idea of Blue Ruin in my head. I wanted to have magic. I wanted to turn the real-world into a place where dark shadows weren’t simply shadows, but hiding places for Vampires. For other-worldly creatures. I wanted a world in which everything didn’t seem as it was. I’d been a writer of Dark Fantasy prior to reading her novels, but she showed me the world of urban/contemporary fantasy, to which I melded it to my liking for Blue Ruin.

Stories are big inspirations to me, but music holds the key to unlocking my inspiration. For every novel, I have a playlist that can really bring me to that place I need to be in order to write. It gets the creative juices flowing. I envision scenes within my novels that would go well with a song. My planning is very visual, and then during the writing, it’s very mechanical — in the sense that I plan the sentence structure, narrative, and the aesthetics of the writing.

I’ll share my playlist for my published novel, Blue Ruin, as well as the sequel, New Dawn. 

BLUE RUIN

1. My Demons – Starset
2. Jungle – X Ambassadors
3. Deep Shadow – TTL (instrumental song)
4. So Cold – Ben Cocks
5. Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor) – John Murphy (instrumental song)
6. Young and Beautiful (DH Orchestral) – Lana Del Ray
7. Heaven Knows – The Pretty Reckless
8. Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Lorde
9. No Light, No Light – Florence and the Machine
10. Beyond Fire – TTL (instrumental song)
11. Demons – Imagine Dragons
12. Devil’s Backbone – The Civil Wars
13. Blindfold – Sleeping Wolf
14. Control – Halsey 

NEW DAWN

1. Take Me to Church – Hozier
2. Dark on Me – Starset
3. It Has Begun – Starset
4. Confession – Red
5. Dance with the Devil – Breaking Benjamin
6. Four Rusted Horses – Marilyn Manson
7. My December – Linkin Park
8. My Lover’s Gone – Dido
9. My Heart is Broken – Evanescence
10. Burn – In This Moment
11. The Infection – In This Moment
12. Fighter – In This Moment
13. Oh My My – Ruelle [Evrene/The Ammit Song]
14. Bad Intentions – Digital Daggers
15. Hollow – Breaking Benjamin
16. Close Your Eyes – Digital Daggers
17. Compelled [Instrumental] – Jack Trammell

What books have inspired you?

***

Blue Ruin is Book One in The Phoenix Series. Blue Ruin is a New Adult, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Gothic novel. It is now available for purchase in the Kindle Store. 

“A hunter and the hunted, Maura Leroux is one of the last of her kind with a dark past that has haunted her. With black magical beings having been hunted for centuries, she’s come to learn a thing or two about survival. But Adrian Wilhelm, a notorious Vampire, threatens to destroy Maura’s newfound life as a detective in the magical world of Mystics. Adrian intends to use Maura as a means of resurrecting the fallen world of black magical beings, Abysm. Maura has made it her mission to stop Adrian while covering her tracks from those that have been seeking her out for centuries.”

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Weekly Question: The Meaning of “Story”

“Story” has always been the center of all human cultures. We need it. We seek it out. When we lack it, we invent it. What does “story” mean to you?

Story means everything to me. Story-telling has become a way of life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about writing. Though, “story” is different than “writing”. “Writing” comes second to “story” in importance. I want the novels I write to have a strong story. I give every character a story, a journey they each have to travel. While no one journey is the same as another, they walk on their separate journeys together.

A story must be satisfying, powerful. It has to linger with me long after I’ve finished the book. I tend to give my main characters the most life-altering and powerful stories. For example, in Blue Ruin, we meet Maura as an unapproachable, borderline unlikable, isolated and hardened character. She’s killed for her benefit. She’s an outcast who has to make the choice to save her own existence or the existence of everyone else. That theme is strung throughout the series and evolves with Maura’s changing character, becoming more potent. Her character transformation fuels her story and gives it that dose of power. While Maura is a black magical being, centuries old, an immortal, and very un-human…her story shows just how human she is.

What does “story” mean to you?

***

Blue Ruin is Book One in The Phoenix Series. Blue Ruin is a New Adult, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Gothic novel. It is now available for purchase in the Kindle Store. 

“A hunter and the hunted, Maura Leroux is one of the last of her kind with a dark past that has haunted her. With black magical beings having been hunted for centuries, she’s come to learn a thing or two about survival. But Adrian Wilhelm, a notorious Vampire, threatens to destroy Maura’s newfound life as a detective in the magical world of Mystics. Adrian intends to use Maura as a means of resurrecting the fallen world of black magical beings, Abysm. Maura has made it her mission to stop Adrian while covering her tracks from those that have been seeking her out for centuries.”

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Weekly Question: Favorite Character

Which of your characters do you relate to the most (or), who is your favorite character and why?

My favorite character and the character I relate to the most are the same. Maura Leroux, my protagonist/main character/anti-heroine. She isn’t my favorite because she’s the main character, the star of the entire series. There are other novels that I have written, where my favorite character was a secondary character, or a villain who went against the main character — you know, the one who was supposed to destroy the villain.

Maura Leroux isn’t like any other main character/protagonist I’ve ever written, which automatically puts her on the top of my list since she strays from the norm. She stands out. She can’t and won’t be ignored. She’s an anti-heroine, which has made her interesting to write. She can and does do things that other main characters don’t do — like kill people, beat the shit out of folks, and get away with being a total sarcastic bitch. At the same time, her depth is what is most attractive. Her depth is that little piece of me that I’ve inserted into her personality. It’s a harsh contrast to the persona she shields herself with. Deep down, she’s lonely, compassionate, capable of love, but she’s broken. She’s hardened from her life, bitter. She isolates herself and uses her wit and strength to push people away before they can get too close.

Underneath it all, she’s only human.

Now, it’s your turn to share who your favorite character is!

***

Blue Ruin is Book One in The Phoenix Series. Blue Ruin is a New Adult, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Gothic novel. It is now available for purchase in the Kindle Store. 

“A hunter and the hunted, Maura Leroux is one of the last of her kind with a dark past that has haunted her. With black magical beings having been hunted for centuries, she’s come to learn a thing or two about survival. But Adrian Wilhelm, a notorious Vampire, threatens to destroy Maura’s newfound life as a detective in the magical world of Mystics. Adrian intends to use Maura as a means of resurrecting the fallen world of black magical beings, Abysm. Maura has made it her mission to stop Adrian while covering her tracks from those that have been seeking her out for centuries.”

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B2B CyCon 2016 – Author Interview

As part of the Brain to Book Cyber Convention 2016, many authors/bloggers are conducting online interviews, which they will post to their blog as a means of promoting the authors participating in the event.

A blogger, Rebekah Webb (her blog), is conducting a series of interviews that she will post on her blog during the convention. The questions will be unique in that instead of the authors answering the questions, the authors will answer the questions in the guise of an inanimate object. The questions will be about your writing and the book of your choice, but written as if you are the object in question (which you will get to choose).

My interview was live April 8th. Here it is…

Car here. This is a series of interviews I’m doing for my author, Rebekah Webb, for the participants of the 2016 Brain to Books Cyber Convention. Since I only interview inanimate objects, I have used the power of booze and lack of sleep to transform my interviewees into assorted objects of their choice.

Today I am going to interview a killer necklace called Death’s Noose, aka Sophia Madison. When she isn’t strangling people to death, hanging on someone’s neck, or getting roped into a fashion show, she’s an author of dark fantasy.

What made you start writing? As a killer necklace, I bet you really clung to the idea that you wanted to be a writer, no matter how many necks it hurt in the process.

It can be rather boring just hanging from a neck all day. Sometimes I’m not even visible — I get lost beneath layers of clothes, or purposely hidden underneath a shirt. What’s a girl to do? And don’t get me started on the voices. Oh, those voices — of all of the souls I’ve killed — they don’t shut up. But, telling stories seems to keep them quiet…if just for a little while.

How does a killer necklace write? Do you choke someone until they fall into a vat of ink and then pull them over paper? Do you let them fall onto a keyboard? Or is there another way to be able to put words to paper/screen?

It depends on my mood. Sometimes I like to write with the blood of my enemy. Other days, I don’t have time. A quick choke is all I can do. They fall onto the keyboard, bang out a couple of misspelled, illiterate, and irrelevant words and before I know it, I’ve written a novel.

Do you hang out with other homicidally inclined jewelry and if so, what are they like?

I used to…until they were stolen away. Death’s Scythe and I were a pair. Now, a Goddess’ Vampire son (he’s such a little brat…just wait until I get around his neck) has her. I’m sure he isn’t treating her well — you know, getting to kill as many as I do. I remember the days where she would slash throats, severe limbs, decapitate the enemy. Ahh, the good days. Now she’s stuck in a glass case, and I’m suffocated beneath a shirt.

Tell us about your inspiration for Blue Ruin. Did it involve staring into the sun until the afterimages turned into an interesting story? That’s how I come up with interview questions.

As much as I hate to admit it, the voices had a part in the idea. They wouldn’t stop talking talking talking, screaming screaming screaming. I fell asleep that night with their words swirling around in my head, like the awful aftereffects of drinking too much booze. I had a vague dream, one that spun into a novel with just a few threads of ideas.

What made you choose to write a fantasy? I always imagined killer necklaces writing medical papers about neck bruising.

While I do have a bit of medical knowledge from being a nurse on my days off of killing, I wanted an escape from the norm. But, as a cold-blooded killer, who feasts on the souls of the living, I couldn’t exactly write romance and children’s books. “And then Button the puppy hopped across the park to his owner…where he bit into his owner’s neck and rolled in the blood that spurted from his severed veins.” See my problem?

Is it true that killer necklaces sometimes choke when in front of a large crowd?

I’ll admit, being concealed by clothing most of the day, has taken its toll on my ability to confront a crowd. At first, I’ll stutter or my links will get kinked and caught. Sometimes I have to be pulled a little harder than usual. But, once that rush of soul hits me…I’ll bring the whole crowd to its knees.

Is there a special killer necklace in your life? Or are you currently unattached?

I’m currently unattached, which is the safest of the two options. The whole intimacy thing can get a bit complicated…before I know it, I’ve killed another one and then I’m stuck with their stupid voice screaming at me in my head for eternity. It’s bad enough I had to listen to them in life.

What else have you written and have you ever unsuccessfully tried to choke an android that looked human?

I’ve written many things since I was a mere child. To date, I’ve completed twelve novels. Though, The Phoenix Series will be the only ones published. The other novels were written for fun as a young teen, and are horrible enough that I want to choke myself when I read them.

What hobbies do you have? Do you hire yourself out as a prop for a haunted house?

That’s a great idea if this writing thing doesn’t work out. As for hobbies, I don’t really have many. It depends where I am. When I’m around a neck, I like to people watch, stare at the scenery, enjoy the sun. I love going to the beach and darkening my golden tone. When I’m placed in the jewelry box for the night, I like to hang out with all of the other necklaces, rings, and bracelets that never get worn.

Do you have any advice for young killer necklaces out there who might want to try their hand at writing?

Do what you love. Life is too short not to try new things — I would know. It’s important to realize that you’re going to suck your first time writing. But practice makes perfect. It took me a long time to master the choke hold — I mean writing. It took me a long time to learn the skill of writing. I went through a lot of people — I mean paper — until I got it right. It’s a process, one with many ups and downs that can either leave you feeling encouraged and motivated or discouraged and hopeless. If you love to write, these things will never stop you. Besides, writing is easy. Editing, publishing, marketing — those are difficult. Who wants to buy a book from a killer necklace? …everyone, or else I’ll be using you as the ink for my sequel.

***

Blue Ruin is Book One in The Phoenix Series. Blue Ruin is a New Adult, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Gothic novel. It is now available for purchase in the Kindle Store. 

“A hunter and the hunted, Maura Leroux is one of the last of her kind with a dark past that has haunted her. With black magical beings having been hunted for centuries, she’s come to learn a thing or two about survival. But Adrian Wilhelm, a notorious Vampire, threatens to destroy Maura’s newfound life as a detective in the magical world of Mystics. Adrian intends to use Maura as a means of resurrecting the fallen world of black magical beings, Abysm. Maura has made it her mission to stop Adrian while covering her tracks from those that have been seeking her out for centuries.”

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B2B CyCon 2016 – Antiheroine Interview

As part of the Brain to Book Cyber Convention 2016, many authors/bloggers are conducting online interviews, which they will post to their blog as a means of promoting the authors participating in the event.

Belinda Crawford (her blog) has put together a series of interviews with authors whose book/s feature antiheroines. The interviews will be posted to her blog in the lead up to the con, and links will be featured in her booth. My interview was posted on April 7th at 4pm EST, but I thought I would also share it with you.

1) Tell us about Maura, what makes her an antiheroine?

Everything. Maura does things a normal (sane) person wouldn’t do. But she makes the choices we can’t — choices that are too difficult. She wasn’t always an antiheroine. In fact, her character started off as a bratty teenager…and then mutated into this ass-kicking, whiskey drinking, cigarette smoking, bad-ass, cold-blooded, immortal killer. She was the easiest character to write, but the hardest to edit. She’d become such an antiheroine that she became hard to like and relate to. Her actions early in the novel turned readers off. I never thought I’d have to tone down a protagonist before.

2) What drew you to writing Maura in particular?

I never intended to create an antiheroine. Maura just happened. The moment she sat in an interrogation room with a criminal and put that cigarette to her lips, I knew she couldn’t be the typical protagonist. Correction, she wouldn’t allow me to write her as the typical main character. I really enjoyed playing with the idea that I was making a really unlikable person, a likable character. She’s a bad guy with good intentions — the one who would make the decision to kill thousands in order to save millions.

3) What do you think is the value of the antiheroine?

The concept of having an antiheroine or antihero gives a story a flare. In the case of my novel, Blue Ruin, the story wouldn’t exist without one. The direction of the plot, the atmosphere, and the series as a whole, relies on the idea that Maura Leroux is an antiheroine. Without that unique character trait, Blue Ruin would be another good versus evil, good guy versus villain…and my protagonist would be dead by the end of the prologue.

4) What messages/examples do you think Maura provides readers?

Yikes, she’s an example of what not to do. She smokes, drinks, has a mouth on her, and has killed one…two…maybe dozens of people. However, beneath the darkness and hardened exterior, she does have a heart. As a reviewer commented, Maura is “an outcast that must choose between herself and the survival of the magical world.” Underneath everything, she’s only human, but sometimes just being human is more powerful.

5) What traits and/or features do you think make an antiheroine great?

As with any character, they need to be relatable. While their choices may be questionable, they have to be understood. An antiheroine is great because they stray from the norm. No one expects to open a book and to have the main character be this individual with questionable morals, highlighted flaws, and a sense that they aren’t perfect or good. An antiheroine isn’t all bad, and it’s important that we see the good in them. In general, I love characters who appear one way – hard, mean, unapproachable – and then they go behind closed doors and shed their skin to show us who they truly are underneath it all.

6) Who are some of your favorite antiheroines?

This is going to sound crazy, considering I have an antiheroine, but I’ve never read anything with an antiheroine or antihero. In fact, I’ve never read anything within my genre. This is an embarrassing admission, but I’ve never even completed the Harry Potter series. They always say, “write what you know”, and I’ve done the complete opposite. That’s not to say that I don’t know what I’m doing — I’ve had tons of help from beta-readers and fantasy lovers, who have all given the series a thumbs-up. As a nurse, I know a lot about people, and that’s what I write. People.

***

Blue Ruin is Book One in The Phoenix Series. Blue Ruin is a New Adult, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Gothic novel. It is now available for purchase in the Kindle Store. 

“A hunter and the hunted, Maura Leroux is one of the last of her kind with a dark past that has haunted her. With black magical beings having been hunted for centuries, she’s come to learn a thing or two about survival. But Adrian Wilhelm, a notorious Vampire, threatens to destroy Maura’s newfound life as a detective in the magical world of Mystics. Adrian intends to use Maura as a means of resurrecting the fallen world of black magical beings, Abysm. Maura has made it her mission to stop Adrian while covering her tracks from those that have been seeking her out for centuries.”

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Self-publishing: Harder than I Thought (an update to this journey)

A couple of weeks ago — or months ago at this rate — I posted an informative (and hopefully helpful) blurb about my journey of self-publishing. Well, I’m still trekking through that wild journey, and I’ve learned a lot more since first publishing my Dark Fantasy novel, Blue Ruin.

While the journey of physically publishing my book has come to a close, the adventure of marketing has commenced. There’s no easy way to go about marketing. Rather, there’s no graceful way. It’s hard to avoid being that solicitor. You know, the ones you run into at the mall kiosks — the ones who step on your shadow, shower you with sweet words, and throw their product at you. Yeah, them. That’s you. That’s us. However, I’ve discovered a way in which this can be done a little less painfully, retaining some sort of dignity. I use Twitter, which as I stated in my marketing blog post, wasn’t going well because you’re one voice in a sea of thousands and thousands who are all screaming thousands of different things. It’s easy to get lost in the crowd. But, there’s an add-on app, CrowdFire, which messages every new follower with a message of your choice. I know, I’m pretty late to the game with this app. I wish I had it 800 followers ago. Nevertheless, I’m utilizing it now. I’ve since formatted my automated message to give a two to three sentence hook about my book. I’ve included a link to my book on amazon, my blog, and my website. I close the message with some realistic expectations by telling the new follower: if they won’t look at my book, please at the very least, retweet my pinned tweet. Which brings me to my next point…

I never knew I could pin a tweet aka keep a specific tweet at the top of my tweets. Again, I’m late to the game. I’ve ruined the stereotype that the young generation knows technology better than the older generations. Yeah, no. Anyway. I’ve found that people may not be willing to buy my book, but they’ll at least retweet a tweet if I ask them. A follower actually bought my book after looking at my pinned tweet. Score! Simple, baby steps.

When it comes to gaining more followers, I’ll simply visit the profile of one of my followers and scroll through their followers. After a few dozen clicks on the “follow” button, I’ve added more followers. From my experience, it seems as though authors and writers will follow you back. Out of 800-something followers, only 20 of them haven’t followed me back.

At this point, I feel like I’m utilizing Twitter in the way it’s supposed to be used for marketing. That is…until I discover other hidden (not so much) features. With my newly acquired Twitter skills shared, let’s move to Goodreads…

I’ve been a member for two years, but only an author for two months. I’ll admit, when I first joined, I had no idea what the fuck I was supposed to do with the site. Even for someone who grew up on technology, the site was rather overwhelming. So many links. Buttons. Groups. There were just so many things, and I had no clue where to begin. Like my previous experience with Twitter, I felt as though my voice was lost in an ocean of other competing authors. And I wasn’t so far off in my assumption. So, up until two weeks ago, my profile sat idle. But then a message popped up on my news feed regarding a convention. Suddenly, this vast site narrowed into something completely manageable. The Brain to Book Cyber Convention is an online convention, where authors establish “booths” within the group on Goodreads. They market their books, give interviews, and hold giveaways during the convention. I set several hours aside and really dove into the group on Goodreads. I clicked on every link that I thought could be beneficial. Several clicks later, I’d networked with bloggers who were looking to promote the books that were in the convention. After a few interview questions, the bloggers penciled me into their schedule and offered to promote the interview and my book during a set time in the convention. Needless to say, Goodreads has many undiscovered resources. Though you have to dedicate time to digging for them, they are there.

Finally, I’ve learned through these new marketing tools that there is an unspoken bond — a brotherhood/sisterhood — between self-published authors. We are all walking the same path, and marketing a successful novel is not the work of one person. It takes an entire population of readers, writers, and authors to lift a book off the ground. We all know that we need to support each other because we need to be supported ourselves. Of course, you have some of those authors who couldn’t care less about the others. But I’ve found, for a majority of the time, that if you rally for support, authors will rally right behind you. Even if it’s just to retweet your tweet.

Weekly Question: Favorite Scene

Unless I have a topic that I really want to talk about, or have an announcement to make, my weekly posts (typically on Friday) will be geared toward questions I receive here and on my other social media platforms.

The week’s question: Describe your favorite scene in your book (Blue Ruin) and tell us why it’s your favorite.  

I can’t tell you my absolute favorite scene, because it will ruin the ending of the book. But I’ll tell you my second favorite scene, told from the POV of the antagonist’s estranged younger brother, Claus.

Claus Wilhelm, Adrian’s youngest brother, left the family hundreds of years ago to live with their father in the mountains, while their mother sought to claim Abysm (the world of black magical beings) as her own. Throughout the years, Claus has remained aware of the events that followed his mother’s demise, and found refuge in London after his father’s passing. For years, Adrian looked to rekindle the relationship between his brother, if only to gain his help in obtaining the power his mother had failed to claim. Adrian’s requests go ignored, until he freezes Claus’ bank accounts, sends Vampires to chase him from his home, and leaves him no other option but to return home.

Claus is apprehensive about seeing his brothers again, and looks for every opportunity to leave while there. Except, Adrian has countered every reason for Claus to go, with every reason to stay. Evrene, a long-ago love affair, is there waiting for Claus. Julian, the middle brother, has yet to return home from a night out with Maura Leroux — Adrian’s target. Claus battles the temptation Evrene exudes and tries not to mind the idea that his brother is missing. Bribed by Adrian, Claus agrees to find Julian, as long as Adrian allowed him to leave after.

I enjoyed writing this scene because it showed the backstage dynamics that pulled the plot along. Writing from Claus’ POV allowed me to explore the mind of someone who was associated to the situation (Adrian hunting Maura) by blood. While he was disconnected from the events, he was still affected by them and had to make a decision — whether to help his brother, or side with Maura. To write a character who was torn between blood and the right thing to do, was interesting. Adding a sexual tease, like Evrene, into the mix, only deepened the dynamics between the two brothers.

Now, it’s your turn to share your favorite scene!

***

Blue Ruin is Book One in The Phoenix Series. Blue Ruin is a New Adult, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Gothic novel. It is now available for purchase in the Kindle Store. 

“A hunter and the hunted, Maura Leroux is one of the last of her kind with a dark past that has haunted her. With black magical beings having been hunted for centuries, she’s come to learn a thing or two about survival. But Adrian Wilhelm, a notorious Vampire, threatens to destroy Maura’s newfound life as a detective in the magical world of Mystics. Adrian intends to use Maura as a means of resurrecting the fallen world of black magical beings, Abysm. Maura has made it her mission to stop Adrian while covering her tracks from those that have been seeking her out for centuries.”

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