Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Crystal Collier-- Moonless--Character Weaknesses

Crystal Collier is here today to talk about her book, Moonless. It looks AWESOME, and I can't wait to read it. Crystal is also going to talk a bit about character weaknesses. I love this idea because to me, it's the weaknesses that make our characters real. 

Character Weaknesses

First of all, thank you so much for having me here today, Jessie!

After completing an interview recently, I realized I like characters often more for their weaknesses than their strengths. For instance, in Moonless I love these aspects about my characters:

Alexia’s unsure of her place in the world.
Kiren thinks he’s always right—because he knows way more than he should.
Bellezza kills people. All the time. And loves it.
Sarah’s a flirt.
Miles is pretty much socially inept.

On the reverse side, each of these characters have some strong and very redeeming qualities:

Alexia faces her fears. She recognizes her own naiveté from a lifetime of sheltering, but she isn’t afraid to step into the dark and embrace the possibilities.
Kiren would give his very soul to protect those he associates with, and has sacrificed all for the sake of others. His compassion endears him to me.
Bellezza is gung ho in her cause, even when it means breaking laws. Her determination gets me.
Sarah knows how to laugh off the awful things in life.
Miles loves deeper than anyone. He’s learned from a lifetime of patterning that to truly love someone, you have to put their happiness before your own.

I suppose there has to be a balance for a character to resonate with you, but how do you weigh in? Do you love characters for their weaknesses?

Short Description: Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.

Alexia’s nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless. 

Author Bio: Crystal Collier, author of MOONLESS, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Husband Interview-- Elizabeth Seckman and J. Andersen

 A simple chick with a simple dream…
to write stories people want to read.
I love doing something different on the blog, so when Elizabeth Seckman, author of the Coulter Men Series, suggested a husband interview for her blog hop, I jumped at the idea. So, we worked up a few questions and asked our respective husbands. Chad Seckman is Elizabeth's husband and Todd Andersen is Jessie's husband. Here are their answers...

1. What's the best part about having a writer for a wife?

Elizabeth and  her hubby, Chad
CS--      (Chad is my first reader) I get to see what her creative mind has inside it. The “movie” that plays out while I read is wonderful.

TA--My wife gets to stay home and be with the kids and still do something she finds rewarding. (Both Todd and I work from home. We eat lunch together. I'm pretty sure we're the only couple who can stand each other enough to have us both be home all the time.)

2. What's the worst part about having a writer for a wife?

CS--   My biggest complaint is that she doesn’t see in herself the greatness that I do.

TA--Being grammatically corrected in everyday speech. (Yes, it's true. Luckily, Todd knows his grammar pretty well, so this doesn't happen too often.)

3. What's your favorite take out place when the muse is visiting?

CS--  I never go for take out. Elizabeth is pretty good at leaving us food in the fridge we can warm up.

TA--We don't eat takeout. We live in a podunk town that doesn't have take outs. 

4. My hubs (CS), the smart aleck, wants to ask your hubs if he has to dig through the laundry basket to find socks when deadlines approach.
Jessie and her hubby, Todd. 

CS-- (This is a total lie, but he’s either trying to make me look good or is oozing sarcasm!) I never have to dig for socks. She lays them out for me before she goes to bed.

TA--I have to dig through the laundry baskets every day to find socks, not just at deadline time. 

5. What meals do you cook when your wife is too busy to make dinner?

CS--  When she gets really busy, I try to cook something. Usually cheeseburgers. I don’t have a big list of foods I have mastered.

TA--    I make a mean grilled cheese for the kids. Sauteed salmon for me.
a.      Recipe for Grilled Cheese: Spread butter on bread. Put the bread in pan butter side down. Add two pieces of cheese. Add bread butter side up. Grill to golden perfection. (Optional: Swing dishtowel at smoke alarm if "golden perfection" turns to blackened char.)  
b.       Recipe for Sauteed salmon: Put a bit of oil in pan. Salt and pepper each side of salmon. Toss into pan and grill until crispy. Wait for your wife to yell at the grease spatters all over the stovetop because you forgot to cover the pan. 

6. Finish the following sentence: You know you're married to a writer when...

CS--You go to bed with your wife and her laptop because she stays up late to finish work so she isn’t losing family time.

TA--your extra spending cash turns out to be 1/332nd of minimum wage.

7. If you were to have free reign in spending the last royalty check, what would you buy? 

CS--  I’d save the money and surprise her with the honeymoon she never got to have. (Looks like my honeymoon will be dinner and a movie again…LOL)
TA--Royalty check? What Royalty check.

Aren't our hubbies funny?

Now, Elizabeth has a few books you should definitely check out. You can also find her on her blog, facebook adn Amazon.

Amazon Page

Fate Intended is the third book in the Coulter Men Series.  Trip is the last of the Coulter sons to find
love. He’s a handsome man with all the skills a young spy needs to succeed. But when it comes to love, he misses the target. Jane is a sweet beauty who may or may not be wanted for murder. She’s hiding out as a cleaning lady when chance brings her and Trip together. It looks like a happily ever after is in the cross hairs until reality tries to destroy what fate has intended.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find J. Andersen's newest short story, LEMONS on Amazon.

They say when life throws you lemons to make lemonade, but when Ally finds herself in the biggest pickle of her life—stranded on an island in the middle of a lake—fruit and veggies are the least of her worries. Now she’ll have to face the harsh realities of her selfish choices, which means dealing with what happened between her parents a few years ago.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

LEMONS--A short story-- Release day

WHOO WHOO!!! I'm so excited. The day is finally here when I get to share with you my latest short story, LEMONS. This is how I feel right now:

And like this:

It's all because of this:
They say when life throws you lemons to make lemonade, but when Ally finds herself in the biggest pickle of her life—stranded on an island in the middle of a lake—fruit and veggies are the least of her worries. Now she’ll have to face the harsh realities of her selfish choices, which means dealing with what happened between her parents a few years ago.
You can find it here and celebrate with me.   AMAZON  

If you want, you can even post your favorite celebration GIF in the comments! That would be awesome. 

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy the new short story. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Lemons--Cover Reveal-- J. Andersen

Well, today we don't have to welcome anyone new. For a change, I'm posting about my own writing! I know. I know. I should do it more often, but hey, I like to share about other writers too.

But today isn't about other writers. Today I get to share with you my new cover for a short story that will be released on Amazon next week. Be sure to check back on Feb 13th for links to the new release.

Without further delay, allow me to present LEMONS:

I know! I love it too. And it fits perfectly with the story, but you'll have to wait to read it. But until then, how about the BLURB?

They say when life throws you lemons to make lemonade, but when Ally finds herself in the biggest pickle of her life—stranded on an island in the middle of a lake—fruit and veggies are the least of her worries. Now she’ll have to face the harsh realities of her selfish choices, which means dealing with what happened between her parents a few years ago.

And maybe a little EXCERPT:

All those people out there who say, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” have apparently never heard of Crystal Light or Kool-Aid or even the Tops brand of powdered lemonade. I mean really, who actually makes lemonade out of real lemons anyway? Not my mother. She’s a powdered lemonade kind of girl all the way. Probably wouldn’t even be able to identify a lemon in the grocery store if it weren’t for the sign right next to the little yellow balls of fruit that says, “Lemons-5/$1.99.”
Anyway, if I knew how to make lemonade out of real lemons, maybe I could get myself out of this pickle I’m in.

There you have it. Thanks for celebrating with me! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Saint Joseph Plot- John M. Persinger

1.      Tell us a bit about your writing background. When did you first start to write?
The first writing class I ever took was a summer course while in grade school.  Creative writing wasn’t offered as a course during the normal school year.  It wasn’t until high school that I started to write creatively again.

For my senior year arts elective, I chose creative writing, but nearly dropped out after a few days.  The first part of the class focused on poetry.  I was, and still am, terrible at writing poetry.  It was very discouraging.  Fortunately, the teacher encouraged me to stick with it.  As we moved on to short stories and plays, I enjoyed it more.

In college, I decided to major in history, which provided lots of opportunities to write.  I found that writing history can be like writing stories.  With history, it is just that your writing is grounded in true facts, events and people, as opposed to a fictional world.

After college, I had the opportunity to write professionally.  I drafted speeches for my bosses – the White House Counsel and the U.S. Ambassador to Australia.  It was a challenge to write the speeches from my bosses’ voices and not from mine.

Going through law school and now as a practicing attorney, I am writing all the time.  Sometimes the topics can be very dry.  I challenge myself to make it as interesting as possible to the reader. 

All of this background is to say that I have been writing for a long time, even if it hasn’t always been creative writing.     

2.      Who would you say has inspired you most as a writer? (Another writer, a colleague, a family member…)
My parents initially inspired me the most as a writer.  They placed a big emphasis on reading.  Going to the library to check out books seemed like a weekly occurrence when I was growing up.  My father would bring home multiple newspapers each night and share articles with my sisters and me. 

My parents also enjoy a great story.  They are big movie goers.  I think this appreciation for good stories wore off on me.

Today, my wife inspires me the most as a writer.  She is a former journalist – she worked both in the Middle East as a freelance journalist and in Australia as a political reporter for one of its biggest newspapers.  She is an excellent writer and her insights and critiques motivate me to become a better writer.

 3.      What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
In this debut novel, The Saint Joseph Plot, the final chapters were the most enjoyable for a couple of reasons. 

First, the final chapters are the fastest in the book.  By fastest, I mean that people read them so quickly because there they are action-packed and reveal several of the mysteries contained in the book.  In that sense, they were fun to write.

Second, the final chapters are the ending of my debut novel.  It was immensely gratifying to know that I could not only write a novel, but write one in which all of the issues in the book were resolved by these final chapters.

4.                  How did you come up with the title?
The title reflects my desire to brand this book as one in a series.

Before writing this initial novel, I kicked around several ideas for novels.  Even though I didn’t write about those issues this time around, I knew that I would get to them eventually.  With this in mind, I decided that the title of this first book should have some features to it that could be replicated several times in a series. 

Since the book featured the intersection of religion, politics, and foreign affairs, I thought the title should reflect some religious influence.  Hence, the idea for The Saint Joseph Plot.  The title of each subsequent book will feature a different saint.

5.                  What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I appreciate all of the constructive criticism because it helps me to become a better writer. 

On that note, the toughest criticism came from a review in my hometown newspaper, Erie Times-News, in which the reviewer offered no constructive criticism.  One of takeaways was that the reviewer suggested that the book should have more sex.  The reviewer missed the point of not having any sex or gratuitous violence in the book.  It was tough because I felt that I failed in my goal of writing an entertaining book without sex or gratuitous violence.

The best compliment that I have received is simply when people say that “they enjoyed it.”  I wrote it to entertain people.  I know people have very busy lives, so any time someone says that they took the time to read the book and that they enjoyed it, I appreciate it.

6.      How does your writing process look? Consistent with regular amounts of word counts daily/weekly… or more sporadic with a gush of words all at once and then a dry bed for a while?
Because I have a young family and a day job as an attorney, I try to be methodical in my writing.  I get up each morning by 4:30 a.m., and I write until 7:00 a.m.  I do this every day of the week.  Some days I write more words than others.  But I don’t adhere to any particular amount of word counts that I need to meet by any particular deadline.

7.      What is best writing advice you can give?
Just write.  Worry about revising after you have a story done, but just get the book done.  There will always be room for improvement.  The revising and editing process never ends, even after a book has been published.  But unless you get a first draft of the book done, too many distractions might prevent that from ever happening.

8.      Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I outline an entire book before writing.  I outline chapter-by-chapter what will happen and what I want to achieve.  I complete character sketches (bios/backgrounds) before writing as well.  I even jot down potential quotes.

9.      Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I decided to self-publish the novel after much research and even after obtaining an agent.  In my day job as a lawyer, I do transactional work, including reviewing contracts.  In reviewing various publishing industry contracts, I found them to be not very advantageous to a writer in my position.  Additionally, I felt comfortable finding and hiring an editor, cover designer, and printer.  I figured it was worth the risk to self-publish.

10.              If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
The writing process and, more importantly, the editing and revising process never end.  There are definitely things that I would have done differently regarding the book.  But, again, if you delay finishing a book simply, you may never finish it at all.

11.  What’s next? Do you have any works in progress or other contracted work?
I have a number of projects coming out in 2014.  I have a short follow up and a separate prologue to The Saint Joseph Plot.  My second novel, The Saint Francis Revelation, will also be released, as well as a short follow up and a separate prologue to this novel.  I’m also working on a number of other creative projects, including a radio show and a children’s series.  It makes life busy, but I’m enjoying it all!
The Saint Joseph Plot can be found on Amazon.