September 24, 2010

Interview with Author Elizabeth Lucas-Taylor

We're interviewing today with author Elizabeth Lucas-Taylor. She writes fiction as well as non-fiction and can be an author's best friend when it comes to knowing how to promote.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS (2002) romantic intrigue (out of print) (used copy) or (signed Author copies available)
REFLECTIONS & DREAMS (2000) eBook poetry (out of Print)
SOURDOUGH & MORE (2008) eCookbook (out of print)(Author CD available only)
poems to read...On A Dark Stormy Night (2008) ePoetry (out of print)(Author CD available only)
MARKETING YOURSELF AS A FREELANCE WRITER (2008) eBook non-fiction (out of print)(Author CD available only)

Contributed to:
YOU THE HEALER  by Jose Silva/Robert B. Stone Ph.D.
SALES POWER by Jose Silva/Ed Bernd;
THE SILVA METHOD FOR BUSINESS MANAGERS by Silva/Stone, Ph.D (out of print)(hard to find)

Titles Coming Soon
Dangerous Conspiracy

Where to find you

Tell us about your latest book.
My newest novel is titled Dangerous Conspiracy, a romantic intrigue. My heroine, Lilly D'Aggelos, is a famous model—and an undercover DEA agent. Her newest assignment is at the world famous Greek fashion house, Simera. Simera is under cyber attack by the leader of a ruthless drug cartel. It isn't until Lilly is on Greek soil with her finger on the elevator button to carry her to the Simera's corporate offices that she discovers the reclusive owner of Simera is none other than ex-fiancĂ©, Dmitri Aleksandros. A dozen years earlier, a young and naive Lilly fled Greece in humiliation when she discovered her fiancĂ© in bed with her best friend. Past differences aside, Lilly and Dmitri join forces and uncover the identity of the twisted mind stalking Dmitri, a person who will stop at nothing to see them both dead.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I most enjoyed the research about Greece, her history and people. Every school kid is taught something about Greece's past and her wondrous antiquities, but her modern day problems are overwhelming. Finding out about the drug trade so prevalent all over the world was an eye opener, and how Greece is a conduit for illicit drugs and has been for centuries. The research led me in so many different directions. It was a shocker to find out the sums of money involved in drug transactions, and the way that international banking facilitates the drug trade.

Do you live in the mountains, desert, forest, lakeshore, city, or _____?
I live in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains in Tucson, the Sonoran Desert, not far from the edge of the Sahuaro National Forest. The city of Tucson sits in an ancient caldera. During Monsoon, my husband likes to remind me that Tucson can be underwater and we will be high and dry. I remind him we are living in a volcano and volcanoes are known to fill with water.

What genres and authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?
I have so many and love them all. I read many different genres from Sci-fi to cozies. Thrillers and mysteries are probably my favorite with a vampire thrown in here and there. After reading Arthur C. Clark, I fell in love with science fiction. I am also a fan of biographies and political commentary. I've even been known to read some YA along the way. My very favorite authors are Karen Moning, Christine Feehan and Christina Skye. Not a bad book among them. Then there is Coulter, Rice, Medeiros, Dara Joy…the list goes on, each unique in their own way. And, I am continually finding new authors to follow.

When writing your description of your hero/ine what feature do you start with? Eyes, age, hair color, personality, name, etc?
My hero has to have an appealing name, but not too corny. I use a hunky movie star or celebrity in my mind's eye to begin the process. That hero of mine has to have drop dead sex appeal, a sense of humor and vulnerability. He needs to be someone I would like to get MY hands on as well as my heroine.

If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
I can better answer that question when I have a string of novels after my name. But I find with my favorite authors, if I read a later work in their career, I'm inclined to search out their earlier works. And if I pick a later work in a series, I am sure to go looking for the prequels and sequels. I don't think it matters in what order you read unless you are obsessive compulsive. The fun of reading out of order is when you have collected all the books in a series, you begin at the beginning and reread and enjoy the body of work even more. I do love authors who thread memorable characters throughout other books. It is a smart marketing technique…you go searching for those back titles.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?
Every writer brings a different twist, a unique use of language and viewpoint to their work. I would hope a reader takes away a little bit of history and a sense of being entertained from my work—a feeling of excitement. Artists paint the world as they see it. Writers created the world as they want it.

A biography has been written about you. What do you think the title would be (in six words or less)?
Writer of dangerous, savvy, sensuous intrigue.

What song would best describe your life?
What A Wonderful World. ('I Did It My Way' works, too.)
Everyone experiences some adversity in their life, some life threatening, and I've certainly had my share. Those opportunities and challenges make us who we are, works in progress.

If you were a tool, what would people use you to do?
I would like to think of myself as a facilitator, someone who is a link to helping a person turn on to their innate creativity. I'd like to be the one to enable, to give even the tiniest tidbit of information or spark, to help a person get to the next point of light. I would like to be considered a cheerleader of the human condition. I believe we all have greatness inside ourselves and we should exercise that greatness. So much potential is lost because the spark hasn't been ignited. That's what teachers are here to do—ignite that special something in us that makes us want to GO and BE, to WANT the best for ourselves, to reach out and DO.

You can erase one experience from your past. What will it be?
If I could begin again, I would leave my hometown earlier to spread my wings. I regret that I did not. I lived at home. I went to college in my hometown. I was caught up in what my family expected of me, not what I yearned so passionately to do. My advice to any young person is to move away from where you've been raised for a couple of years. Spread your wings and reach for what may seem the impossible. Absorb everything around you.  "Live, Miss Gooch, Live!" See a bit of the world. That way, if you decide to move back to your hometown, it is a choice, not a life sentence that you feel you cannot extricate yourself from. That one thing would have changed much in my life, though I finally did get to where I belonged.

If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
My warning label would read: She doesn't scare, nor will she be intimidated.

If I want to—I will. I would also like to instill that "can do" philosophy in everyone I meet.

Picture yourself as a store. Considering your personality and lifestyle, what type of products would be sold there?
I would have the finest, the best, the most unusual, handcrafted if possible, and not necessarily the most expensive in my store.

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

Q: What would your epitaph say?
This woman worked damn hard at living.

September 14, 2010

Guest Author Amy Gallow

Writers are not born

Forty years ago, I enrolled in a report-writing class in our Adult Education system and found it cancelled by lack of numbers. I was offered instead, a fiction writing class conducted by a writer of pulp detective stories and my sense of humor prompted me to accept the alternative. Other than it leading to my first published story in a long defunct men’s magazine, I remember only a few highlights of the course, none of which I use today.
It did prompt me to write my first novel, using a portable typewriter perched on my knee during engine room watches at sea, and led to me using fiction writing as a form of stress relief from a twenty-four/seven technical career in the offshore oil industry some years afterwards. I still have some of my early manuscripts and they are, quite frankly, atrocious.
I’m not sure what prompted me to put aside the dubious pleasure of writing for myself and start writing for other readers to enjoy, but the habits of success ensured that I began by a detailed analysis of the process and a plan to succeed. Fifteen published books and several magazine shorts later, I’m still working on it.
Its central tenet lies in the understanding that my task as a writer is to disappear from the reader’s consciousness, leaving them caught up in a smoothly advancing story “now”, unaware that they are reading as they experience the story unfolding around them. Supporting this tenet are twenty-three pillars of acquired skill, none of them original, but all functional.
(1)             Punctuation: Keep it simple, tailored to the needs of your targeted readers;
(2)             Use simple words vividly rather than trying to impress with your erudition;
(3)             Imprecise words: - “He picked up something heavy and hit the man on the head” is much better as “David snatched a fist-sized rock from the pile and slammed it into the back of John’s head.”;
(4)             Unnecessary words, phrases, adjectives: - The morning sun’s silent rays burned Julia’s skin as she walked from the grassy open field into the deeply forested woods. Immediately, the late spring air felt cooler. She sat down on a grey rock, took off her Cordura nylon backpack, pulled open the sticky Velcro fastener of the side pocket and took out a plastic bottle of soda water. She opened the blue screw-type top and drank thirstily. Her green and gold speckled kerchief felt scratchy against her sweaty skin, so she loosened it. Crows cackled wickedly from somewhere in the dark woods. A small ladybug with one wing torn off was crawling on the rock’s rough surface.;
(5)             Space fillers: About; Actually; Almost; Like; Already; Appears; Approximately; Basically; Close to; Even; Eventually; Exactly; Finally; Here; Just; Just Then; Kind of; Nearly; Now; Practically; Really; Seems; Simply; Somehow; Somewhat; Somewhat like; Sort of; Suddenly; Then; There; Truly; Utterly
(6)             Overuse of adverbs; A well chosen adverb can create vivid images, but many of them are simply unnecessary. Take “she slammed the door forcibly” and ask yourself how else do you slam a door? Add to this the repeated “ly” that most of them end in creates a clickerty-clack rhythm in your writing that palls very rapidly.
(7)             Overuse of past tense: - Differentiate between the immediate past of “Harold lied” and the more distant past of “Harold had lied.”;
(8)            Overuse of participle phrases: - “This is a really boring movie,” she said, fidgeting in her seat. “You said it,” he agreed, handing her the popcorn.” Considering for a moment, she took a handful. “I really shouldn’t be doing this,” she said, her voice dropping.;
(9)             Illogical use of “as” and “while”: - “Hey, Jim. How about another drink for this guy and give me a refill of my usual,” while she said this, Anna leaned forward and dropped one leg to the floor. Jennifer’s head shot up as she looked around.  “Damn coasters,” the barman said, as one fell to the floor. ;
(10)         Run on prepositional phrases: - “He won the race in the rain, under record time, with new shoes …… etc.;
(11)         Repetitious words or phrases; These sneak into our writing like thieves.  Consider the following: “By the time he reached the party, there were a collection of his friends there before him. Now the MC was there, it was time to start. There was an air of excitement already.”
(12)         Convoluted phrasing: - “The place turned out to be a Laundromat” is better as “It was a Laundromat.”  “She launched herself forward at him.” Is better as “She jumped at him.” And “He raised himself from his chair and came to stand by the bar.” Is better as “He stood and came to the bar.”;
(13)         Weak sentence structure: - “Harold clenched his fist outside Henderson’s door” is weaker than “At Henderson’s door, Harold’s fists clenched.” because the significant action comes at the end. Just as “Harold saw Henderson in the car park when he glanced out the window.”, is weaker than “Harold glanced out the window and saw Henderson in the car park.”;
(14)         Dialogue tags: Don’t leave them hanging out to dry at the end of speech. Use alternative attributions where possible;
(15)         Over-inflated imagery: - “His doubts assailed him, a swarm of wasps buzzing around inside his head, ready to sting in an instant.”, is patently ridiculous;
(16)         Unnecessary phrases of realisation or discernment: - “He saw there were three men coming over the hill” is better as “Three men came over the hill.”  “He discovered he was not alone in the room.” is better as “He was not alone.” and “Barbara realised a sound was coming from the closet.” is better as “A sound came from the closet.”;
(17)         Too much passive voice: “Harold found himself trembling.” is both passive and weaker than “Harold trembled.”;
(18)         Over-telling: - “Harold looked at Henderson’s door.  He could storm in there, expose Henderson as incompetent, as venal, as the womanizer he was … and Ruth need never know how their future had been threatened. He was fantasizing.”
(19)         Monotonous sentence rhythm: - “Harold looked at Henderson’s office. It was three o’clock. He looked around. The rest of the office was empty. It was very quiet. He rubbed his chin. An office girl returned. He sighed, bending over his work.”
(20)         Continuity: Don’t leave gaps in the action;
(21)         Reader orientation. Keep control of the way the reader experiences the story;
(22)         Show, not tell! Don’t say that you’re angry, sad, or happy. Prove it by your choice of words, the tempo of your sentences. Let the reader experience the events: and
(23)         Use effective images: 3000 people can die in Turkey as the result of an earthquake and few take notice unless it affects them directly, while the death of a beloved pet is heart-rending.

If you want to see how these are applied, check out my last two books as Amy Gallow, “A Fair Trader” at Whiskey Creek Press and “A Soldier’s Woman” at Eternal Press, and “The First-Born” a science fiction romantic adventure will be released by Eternal Press on October 7th.
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