July 27, 2010

Animals On My Team

I’m not sure how exactly I ended up with an animal in each book I write. I didn’t really set out to do it that was, that’s for sure. Maybe it was the cat and dog in Venus In Blue Jeans. The hero, Cal Toleffson, is a vet, which meant lots of interactions with animals. The heroine, Docia Kent, owned a cat, and the cat became the way the two came together (it was seriously injured and Cal had to take care of it). The dog, a much put-upon Chihuahua, was a way of showing the true character of one of the antagonists. She didn’t exactly abuse the poor thing, but she clearly didn’t know much about taking care of him.

The next two Konigsburg books, Wedding Bell Blues and Be My Baby both had dogs, a greyhound and a blue tick puppy respectively. When I got to Long Time Gone, I decided it was time to go back to cats again. I’m a cat person myself—Nico, the cat in Venus In Blue Jeans, was based on my outlaw cat Java, who died a couple of months after we moved him from Texas to Colorado—and I was ready to go back to a cat point of view. So I came up with Arthur, a mostly Maine Coon cat who lives at a winery. It is, I swear, a complete coincidence that I’m now providing house space and catfood for a pair of part-Maine Coon kittens (nobody owns cats, believe me).

In reality, Arthur is also based on fact. Most wineries have dogs (there’s even a coffee-table picture book of California winery dogs), but a lot of them have cats too. The cat who was the basis for Arthur was a very large tom living at a winery in the New Mexico mountains. He liked to drape himself across the doorway so he could catch the mountain breezes and bedevil the winery dogs who found him an annoying roadblock. I made Arthur slightly bigger and meaner and then ended up having him shaved like a poodle after he encounters an illegal toxic waste dump. Believe it or not, that was also based on fact (the shaving part, anyway). Shadow, a cat we had when my sons were small, was always getting into fights with the neighboring toms. Once the vet had to shave his hindquarters to clean out a particularly nasty wound. Shadow took it personally—he blamed us for the indignity and took to sulking in corners.

I did one more thing in Long Time Gone. I had the hero, Erik Toleffson, bond with Arthur. Now Erik is as alpha as I get. He’s a cop with a somewhat tortured past, a former bad guy who’s trying to reform. And he decides that he and Arthur have a lot in common. That’s deliberate. There’s this occasional stereotype that women like cats whereas real men prefer dogs. I don’t think that’s true, and I wanted to get it out in the open. It’s just as okay for Erik to bond with Arthur as it is for Cal to bond with his Chihuahua. Our own sort of Maine coon kitty, Pancho, regards my husband as a god.

So anyway, it seems I’m stuck with the combination of pets and Konigsburg. But next time I think I’ll try something different. Enough with the dogs and cats. Maybe it’s time for some goldfish. Or maybe something even more exotic. Stay tuned, all.

July 13, 2010

Way Back When...

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved to watch the stars and wonder what was out there. Once upon a long, long time ago. *cackle*

I cut my teeth on science fiction. At the ripe old age of six, I was fascinated by Star Trek. I think my older half-brother started watching it but I couldn't get enough. About six weeks after the series concluded its original run, man walked on the moon.

In my nine year old mind, I saw the moonwalk--the entire space race--as just the beginning of a world like Star Trek. I dreamed of the day I could go where no man, or woman, had gone before.

Over the years, I read voraciously. Anything sci-fi, I inhaled the words off the page. Frank Herbert, Michael Moorcock, Andre Norton, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein... Outer space, inner space, futuristic worlds. I read it. I saw Star Wars in the theater ten times.

So when I began writing, my family was mystified why I didn't write science fiction. Truth is, I was afraid I couldn't come up with a realistic world.

World building is a bitch. Not to say contemporary or paranormal doesn't have world building. If you set a book in Memphis, you want the reader to see Beale Street, feel the humidity, smell the sweet smells of barbecue mixed with the slightly rancid odor of the mighty Mississippi and hear the strains of the Delta blues.

But with my contemporary and paranormal stories, I had the advantage of using the real world as a backdrop. Things everyone is familiar with like the sky is blue and the grass is green. The social and political structure doesn't need a lot of description or explanation.

With science fiction, suddenly the sky can be green and the water purple. Alien races have to have a structure from the basic family unit to their economy to their politics. Making them the same as those on contemporary Earth can turn off the reader. Sci-fi readers want to escape from the ho-hum world we live in, not see it mirrored on other worlds. Not without a damn good reason.

So with a lack of good science fiction ideas from my muse, I avoided my favorite genre. Until last year. In a chat about a year or so ago, Brandy Walker of B Renae Reads mentioned she'd like to see something with angels and vampires.

The muse jumped in. "Hmmm..." *frowns* "Vamps and angels... Hummmm... Interesting..."

Well, at first I didn't really have time to do anything with it so I batted that baby into the back of my head. However, a few months later a bunch of talk was going around about space opera stories. Like Firefly (BTW, the most awesome sci-fi show of our time! Talk about world building!).

Vamps, angels, space opera... Vamps, angels and space opera, oh, my...

The result was ANGEL MOON. Vamps and angels in space, at war and in love. *cackle*

Le blurb:

Terra offers sanctuary to both Angellum and Virkola. Unknown to the humans, a truce exists there. To Terrans, the two species exist as myths. One is a frail, winged creature from religious texts. The other, a demon of the night, living off blood. Both are far from the truth…

Sorin thought sanctuary was the answer to their problems. Terra with its plentiful creatures, full of fresh blood and off limits to the millennia-long war with the Angellum—who wouldn’t think it paradise? Except paradise comes at a high price. Claiming a bounty on a renegade angel hasn’t ended up the way he planned at all.

Teo loves his ship, his life in space, but he loves Sorin more. The plan seemed sound, but the bounty is a fraud and now the price is on him and Sorin. He’ll make the best of the rest of his life with Sorin, even if it’s only for a few weeks.

But when hope appears from an unexpected source, both men grab chance by her wings.
Well, I can't just create one story out of this new world, now can I? Why bother doing all that world building for just one novella? So the plan is three novellas!

Book two, SHROUDED ANGEL, is in the middle of edits. No release date yet but I'm hoping for a quick one.

The blurb for SHROUDED ANGEL:

Because of the Angellum, Patrea has spent his life afraid of loss. When darkness descends on the ship in the form of a strange angel, Patrea feels he can’t stay on the Avere. But departing would mean leaving behind the only light in his life, his bunkmate Hadreal. He needs to find the courage to tell Hadreal how he feels.

Hadreal has always felt more than friendship for his younger bunkmate but bitter past experience keeps him from acting on his feelings. When a new danger brings them closer, he decides it might be time to live again. But now his chance at happiness may end before he’s able to sample it.

Sometimes it takes a brush with death to make life worth living…
The muse is a fickle enough creature without forcing stories out of nothing. However, when an idea strikes, you have to go there. And I'll always be grateful to Brandy for uttering those fateful words. "Vamps and angels."

The as yet untitled book three is plotted, just waiting for time to write it.

Tell me about your favorite sci-fi memories for a chance to win a copy of the ebook ANGEL MOON. Or just comment! *cackle* I'm easy.

Thanks for stopping by!
Shayla

For more on Shayla Kersten or her books, see her website at http://www.shaylakersten.com.

July 6, 2010

How a Horror Author can Write the Same Scary Stuff for Dark Paranormal Romance

When I decided to write my first paranormal romance I looked no farther than what I’ve been doing already under another name: horror. And I loved reading paranormal romances myself. It was a no brainer for me. I’ve read paranormal romances where the vampire didn’t drink blood nor did bad things. Let’s admit it, European vamps drink blood—humans are food for goodness sakes. I also had a problem about a vampire getting together with a human—necrophilia came to mind for me. My first vampire romance was set not only in the future but on another planet. The hero was the last Undead Earth vampire in existence and he had to escape from Earth to another world as pollution had killed all the others of his kind. It was on that new planet that he met his ‘soul mate’, Nalessa, a living alien vampire. She was the last survivor of her civilization, which perished eons ago. That story became Crimson Promise. This got published by Phaze Books. Since then, I overcame my issues and wrote a vampire with a human romance story, which also was a second chance at love for two lovers separated by terrible circumstances. This will be coming out in the anthology, Just Another Paranormal Monday, to be published by Mojocastle Press, LLC. Monsters are scary. We all are afraid of the dark. What better way to conquer that fear of the dark then have the heroine or hero fall in love with a monster? You have the bad boys or girls in contemporary romance novels, but this takes that bad idea and making them even more bad assed. Besides the reader wants to be taken away from their mundane day-to-day life and suddenly they can find that in a tale where the heroine moves to some creepy town. Each night something or somethings are taking innocent citizens. These monstrous things are also after her. Then she meets a tall, dark and handsome man, who saves her from a pack of howling things. She falls for him. Maybe even makes love with him. It is later that she learns he’s not human, but one of those ‘howling’ things. He’s a werewolf, cursed to take another shape, but he’s tortured and doesn’t want to harm humans. Will she, can she, change him for the better? When she does, and both ride off into the sunset on his motorcycle (or drive off in a car or truck—doesn’t matter), the readers close the book with a snap, knowing once again there’s a happily ever after for another couple. You don’t have to stick to supernatural creatures either. Why not an alien, whose people want to take over our world? Not just an alien, but a parasitical one? I did this with Iridescent Invasion once upon a time with an epublisher whose doors closed in 2008. One day, I hope to go back and turned this story into a full blown novel. Latest stories I had published have demons in it as heroes and heroines. One is an erotic urban fantasy, Being Familiar With a Witch. It’s a short novel that already has made finalist for two different awards—EPIC Awards 2010 and now Prism Awards 2010. The latest is an erotic paranormal romance novella, Ain’t Nothin’ Like Succubus Lovin’—this has a succubus just as the title implies. But it doesn’t matter what kind of being your hero or heroine is, a paranormal allows you to take chances, to go where no reader has been before in a love story. You can take the theme of racism, religion and prejudice, and add a twist by making one of the lovers a merperson or a vampire or shapeshifter. They say that love overcomes everything--well, here’s a writer’s chance to prove that. With writing paranormal romance and being allowed stretching the limit with blood chilling horror I have proved that a horror author can apply it to a paranormal romance with no problem. Readers: chime in with a comment if you agree with this or not. We authors love to know what readers think since you are the one who buy our books. Paranormal Romance Authors: Let us know what led you to write paranormal romance, and why. Sapphire Phelan http://www.sapphirephelan.com/ http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sapphire-Phelan/324399690647 http://SapphirePhelansPassionCorner.blogspot.com http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SapphirePhelansParanormalNewsletter Go beyond the usual, instead take the unusual that stretches the boundaries and find romance with Sapphire Phelan's aliens, werewolves, vampires, fairies, and other supernatural/otherworldly heroes and heroines.

July 1, 2010

Interview with Author Brindle Chase

Brindle Chase

Booklist:
That One Night in Vegas ( a free read) at http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=20930134

Links:


Tell us about your latest book.



Gothic City Lights is about a half-demon who falls in love with an angel. In a world where each demon is tied to one of the seven deadly sins, Lilith is tied to Lust: a succubus. Gabriel, the angel she has fallen for, is an angel of the virtue of Chastity. She finds herself caught up in the never-ending war between angels and demons, and partnered with Gabriel. You can imagine their internal struggle, being diametrically opposed in so many ways.

The quick of it is, Lilith must infiltrate a gang of demons for the angels and Gabriel is her support. She has to get in, send a beacon and get out without getting killed. It would be an easy task for a succubus, with her irresistible sexual allure, but her heart was captured by Gabriel and screwing her way into the demon’s lair would ruin any chance she might have at winning his love. Therein lies the plight of her adventure.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

The romance genre is new to me, so I had to do a lot of research, which led to a lot of personal insight. I’ve grown as a writer and as a human being. The sexy parts were pretty fun too. *lol*


Do you live in the mountains, desert, forest, lakeshore, city, or _____?

I live in the burbs outside of Portland, OR. I’d rather live at the beach.


What genres and authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?

I read a lot of paranormal romance and urban fantasy these days. JR Ward, Gena Showalter, and Kim Harrison, stuff like that. I also read my buds Fallon Blake, Jess Haines, JA Saare and Lainey Bancroft too! My personal bookshelf has everything from Tolstoy to RL Stine. A little of this, a little of that.


When writing your description of your hero/ine what feature do you start with? Eyes, age, hair color, personality, name, etc?

First I have to envision them. I can see them in my head. When I go to describe them in my writing, I take it from the POV of the character seeing them and what logically would they notice first. So it varies, depending on the scene and the circumstances therein. But I know exactly how they look, so it’s pretty simple.

If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?

I’m a debut author, so I only have one. Thusly, Gothic City Lights would be your ideal choice. *lol* I have two short stories releasing later this year, and a couple free reads on my site. Many more in the works. You haven’t heard or read, the last of Brindle Chase. Muhahahaha.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?

If I could leave my readers with a single impression, is that while male authors have a different approach to romance, we can write it.

A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be (in six words or less)?

If the hippy can, I can.


What song would best describe your life?

Wow. This is hard. One song that really struck home with me, was “Arms Wide Open” by Creed. It came out about the same time as my oldest daughter was born and the lyrics hit pretty hard. I was moved by the song and every time I hear it, it takes me to that very special moment in my life. Becoming a father is life transforming.

If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?

I’d be a sledgehammer. All my life I have been an exception to the rule. I’ve inadvertently broken through so many stereotypes and barriers that just shouldn’t be. Not violently, but with the same dramatic impact as a sledgehammer. I crush assumptions!

You can erase one experience from your past. What will it be?

I cheated on my wife in a moment of raw stupidity and utter weakness, when I was a younger man. To this day it impacts the quality of our life. Forgiveness is hard, because it is one of those things that are not forgotten. The two go hand in hand. I pray I will die as her husband, knowing I could never take back what I had done, but that since that day forward, I was faithful and loved her dearly.

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

Exposure to Brindle Chase may cause hyperactivity, indelible enthusiasm, possible arousal, unexplained laughter and rare instances of WTF?

I love that last part! I think I've caused a few of those myself. ^_^ Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?

Nudie magazines, books, video games, coffee, goth stuff, posters, my books, and anything having to do with Jessica Alba.

What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

Kayelle, these are fantastic questions. This one stumps me though. Maybe, what’s next from Brindle Chase?

I’m currently working on several projects. A sequel title to Gothic City Lights, three short stories, including a joint-write with January Lawrence, and three other novels. I have a short story, The Grass is Always Greener coming out August 13th with Breathless Press. Another short story, Diva-licious, coming out later this year with The Wild Rose Press. So, in a nutshell… lots!
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