Author Interview: Nora M. Garcia

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Nora M. Garcia whose debut novel The Lightbearers was recently released. She’s currently working on the sequel.

The plot came to her first–and actually the end of the book came to her one night while she was sitting in her apartment in Manhatten.

“It was as though someone said quick write this down, two weeks later the middle came and two weeks after that, the beginning came and all in the same fashion,” she told me. “After that I headed for the New York Public Library to begin my research.”

The title also came to her in a dream. The sequels will have the same title, but different subtitles. The goal is to write a trilogy of the Lightbearers, with the sequels taking place during various times in history and in different locations.

“What are your favorite TV shows?” I asked.

“My favorite TV shows are generally on the History or Science channels. There is a series of programs about aliens that I’m fascinated by. One program in particular is a series called Ancient Aliens. Recently they theorized that Akhenaten was mentored by a being from a more advanced civilization and in The Lightbearers, the fantasy I created about him and Nefertiti included their mentorship by an alien being. When I saw that program it gave me goosebumps.”

In The Lightbearers, the main characters have the ability for astral projection, telepathy, and psychokinesis. I asked Nora what paranormal ability she would like to have.

“Since I am capable of a certain level of astral projection, the other paranormal ability I would love to develop is telepathy followed by psychokinesis,” she said. “We are all capable of these abilities, we just have to tune in to our mental vibrations to begin developing them.”

Nora is originally from New York City and loves the fact you can find just about anything there.

“The culture, the restaurants, museums, theatre, dance, the people and the energy – you can feel it as soon as you arrive,” she explained.

“If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?” I wondered.

“I am self-published and I would have researched an editor a little more carefully. The first editor I worked with was recommended by the publishing company and he did not do as thorough a job as he should have. I subsequently had to do a rewrite and found a more talented editor who helped me immensely.”

Nora is currently using her maiden name as her pen name. Even though she’s divorced, she’s not yet legally changed her name back; however, she plans to do that at some time.

“I’ve always liked my name,” she told me. “It’s more relevant to who I am as opposed to my current legal name.”

“What was the scariest moment of your life?” I asked.

“Many years ago, when I lived in Los Angeles for the first time, I had been out late and pulled into my parking space in an outdoor lot to my apartment. I had just gotten out my car and had to take some bags out of the trunk of my car when suddenly I heard a man say to me, ‘Give me your purse.’ I turned to look at him and found myself staring into the barrel of a gun. He told me to turn my head, which I immediately snapped back to facing the car and I slowly rolled my purse off my shoulder and handed it to him. He took off and disappeared like a wisp of smoke. I ran into my apartment and called the police. They came and took a statement and I couldn’t stop shaking for the entire rest of the night.”

Nora is very politically active online and wants to get the message out to people to help them make more informed decisions about their political choices.

“There are a lot of low information voters out there who seem to vote against their own best self interests,” she told me. “I’m also passionate about getting The Lightbearers in front of as many people as possible because I have a message that I think is important. I believe our humanity is in trouble!”

About the Author: 3_7 NoraBorn, raised and educated in New York City, Nora now makes her home in Southern California where, recently divorced, she enjoys a successful career in the media business. When Nora first began researching The Lightbearers, she went to the New York Public Library and immediately headed for the Egyptian section. While walking down the empty aisles a book suddenly fell off the shelf and landed at her feet. It turned out to be Akhenaten’s biography; Nora was immediately captivated with his story and hence the creation of a fantasy about Akhenatena and Nefertiti.

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3_7 nora LightBearers_FNJean Crystal is held captive on a laboratory table by a motion sensitive laser directed toward her central nervous system. Unaware of her invisible prison, upon awakening from a narcotic sleep induced by Dr. Natas, she attempts to move and finds herself wracked with a mind numbing pain. By astrally projecting herself she is able to overcome the pain and investigate her circumstances. George Martinez, her husband, has already been assassinated and while awaiting her own demise, George pays Jean a visit in the lab, assuring her of their eternal vow to each other. Dr. Natas has developed a school run by robots and computers and Jean and George have discovered the use of a protein computer chip fed to the children at his school. After Jean is assassinated their spirits reunite to plan their return. They agree upon a place, a time and a signal by which they can find and identify each other in their next lifetime. They plan to meet on the first Monday of October, 2024 outside the UCLA Computer Science building. She’ll find him sitting under a tree with a guitar strumming and singing “Imagine”. The reunion takes place 20 years later, but not without a hitch.

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Author Interview and giveaway: Charity Kountz

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Charity Kountz, whose newest release Jason, Lizzy and the Snowman Village is now available. Leave a comment for a chance to win one of five Amazon Kindle e-book copies of Jason, Lizzy & the Snowman Village.

Aside from writing nonfiction articles for various clients, Charity and her husband (who co-writes the books with her) are writing the second book in the Jason & Lizzy’s Legendary Adventures. The second book is titled Jason, Lizzy and the Ice Dragon. It will introduce readers to new fun characters and there will also be some new twists.

“My husband and I just love taking various mythology and legends and twisting them around until they are our own creation,” she said. “We think kids are going to love the crazy characters we’ve come up with for this next book.”

Charity grew up in an abusive home with two alcoholic parents who are no longer a part of her life.

“My life was far from idyllic,” she admitted. “Throughout that difficult time, books were my escape and my salvation. From Walter Farley, Jack London and James Harriett, to Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Judy Blume, I read everything I could get my hands on. School was my respite from the pain and I threw myself into my classwork and reading.

“I had an insatiable appetite for language and learning (except math – nothing could really make me like that subject). I was in two spelling bees (even winning my local area spelling bee but my father wouldn’t let me compete in the district competition). At about age 14, I received an English assignment from my 9th grade teacher to write a story around a girl in a raincoat in a dark alley. My very first novel attempt, titled “Dark Walk” and the character Selena Darkwalk was born. It was 14 pages and never did get completed but I will never forget that very first time, the exhilaration of typing out my story, almost unable to keep up with all the thoughts whipping through my head. I could see the scene so clearly, the character was so vivid. I learned then that writing stories was even more thrilling than reading them. Creating new worlds would become a new passion for me from that point on, an enduring theme throughout my life.”

Ever since that first story, Charity has considered herself a writer; however, it wasn’t until 2010 she began to call herself an author and began to pursue a writing career with focus.

“I realized this is what I was meant to do;  this was the gift I was given and I shouldn’t waste it,” she told me.

She was surprised that her first published book was a children’s book.

“Having grown up in such a dark and troubled way, and spending 10 years trying to recover from that, I don’t feel like I understand or connect with children very easily,” she explained. “I was never given an opportunity to be a child and was old well before I should have been. By the time I was 18 I had seen more tragedy than some people see in an entire lifetime. While I’m a mother to two children myself, it still feels a little surreal sometimes. But with my husband’s help I found myself really enjoying digging deeper and finding ways to reach children and exploring what it’s like to be a child. Looking at the world through a child’s eyes and the wonders around us has been a joy.”

She met her husband through EHarmony in September 2010 and they married in April 2012.

“He is my rock, my partner, my best friend and my love of a lifetime. He’s the most generous, giving, understanding and patient man I know,” she said. “Our marriage was by far the smartest decision I ever could have made, despite being terrified of failure and having no idea what to expect as I’d never been married before. Divorce rates are high but I’m fortunate to love him so much I can’t imagine life without him. For me, there will never be anyone who could ever take his place.”

They have two daughters–her youngest is six.

“She is a delightful combination of spunky, giving, high-energy and incredible intelligence. She’s quite a handful and has none of the childhood issues I grew up with,” Charity told me. “My other daughter is actually my step-daughter and is my husband’s child from his first marriage. But I love her like my own and she is a complete contrast to my other daughter. At 12 she’s almost easier and so like her father. The day they came into my life was the biggest blessing I’ve ever received and I’m grateful for it daily.”

“Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?” I asked.

“I don’t suffer from writer’s block; I suffer from writer laziness and distraction. Writing is hard work and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Somehow, putting your butt in the seat and working through a novel is almost akin to the best and worst kinds of torture. Never has the laundry been so direly in need of washing and folding as when I sit down to work on my latest work in progress. Even after 20 years, I have to force myself to actually DO the work, not just talk about the work. The actual work is very rewarding but it definitely is work. Sometimes the work requires blood, sweat, tears and every ounce of strength I possess. Other times it flows and it’s like riding a glorious rainbow and landing in a pot of gold. Most of the time, it’s just a lot of work. It took me almost two years to write my first children’s novel and it’s only 18,000 words. Hopefully the next book will be a little easier and each time after that will become easier. Already the plot for book two has come together much easier than book one’s did.”

Charity has read thousands of books throughout her life, with some of her enduring favorites being James Harriott, Terry Brooks, Naomi Novik, Mitch Albom, and too many others to list.

“I’ve read everything from classics like Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas to modern day fiction by Diane Capri, Lisa Gardner, Sara Douglass, Elizabeth Hayden, Stephen C. Spencer, Elizabeth Gilbert, David N. Walker, and Patricia Cornwell.

“As an adult I spent a solid month in 2002 reading every book Terry Brooks wrote in the Sword of Shannara series. I was single and on Christmas break from my job at a local university so I had a ton of free time on my hands and no money. I literally checked out every hardcover book my local library had and it was a stack almost four feet high. Brooks is the author who originally inspired me to realize fantasy was the genre I loved the most and would be the genre I would predominantly write in.”

“What was the scariest moment of your life?” I asked.

“There have been so many it’s hard to pick just one but the one that immediately pops into mind is when my daughter was a year old. She’d just started learning to walk around that time and I was still a nervous first-time single mother. One night she woke up screaming like nothing I’d ever heard before. After about 30 minutes of that and trying everything I could think of, I called the pediatrician who thought she was possibly constipated.

“I rushed to a pharmacy for an infant suppository and when that didn’t work, rushed her to the emergency room at 3 a.m. in the morning. Her screams bounced around that room for hours, almost driving me mad. I did not stop crying the entire time, just cried and rocked her, promised her I would make it better, that she would be okay while terrified at my helplessness. The doctors around us seemed oblivious to her wails, but finally after a few blood tests and a urine sample, talked to me about doing a full CT scan. It was clear they had no idea what the cause was.

“Fortunately at 7:30 a.m. my pediatrician, Dr. Christopher Tallo, walked in, saw my ragged tear-stained face, took one look at my daughter and said, ‘That’s not our little girl. Something’s wrong.’ In 20 minutes he had her sedated with a nasal drip, x-rays being processed and she was resting. Shortly after that, she threw up all over me and the doctor said something I’ll never forget, ‘That’s a good sign.’

“A few moments later I heard him whoop from down the hall and come jogging toward me saying, “She’s full of poop! She’s full to the gills of poop!” Her x-rays showed she was full almost to her ribs and essentially her bowels had impacted, preventing her from having a bowel movement. She was moved into an ICU unit where they administered fluids and a liquid laxative. I never left her for a moment except to take a quick shower. She spent most of the day passing what was in her system and within 24 hours was a happy, content baby again. Within 48 hours we were back at home.

“The combination of pure helplessness, terror over the possibilities and then being among other children much sicker than my daughter made me face not only own mortality but also the fact that I cannot possibly protect my child from everything. She will get hurt, she can come to harm and nothing I do will prevent it if that’s what’s meant to be. All I can do is love her as completely as possible and give her all the tools I can to prepare her for the big, beautiful, sometimes scary world we live in and be grateful for every moment we have together. One of my first short stories, titled ‘Alone’, was inspired by that time in my life where I realized how alone, isolated, and vulnerable we each are.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“Writing can feel very scary and overwhelming initially. But the number one thing I’ve learned is that everyone will not love your writing. Some people will and some people won’t. That’s why art is subjective – the appeal of art is based around each individual’s unique tastes, feelings, personality and a complex mixture of life experiences. You, as a writer, cannot possibly ever figure out the ‘magic sauce’ to appeal to everyone. So the trick is, to appeal to your own experiences and those who your words strike a chord with will be drawn to your work. For those who aren’t, that’s fine. Be glad of the readers and fans you’ve reached, and hold no grudges against those who don’t appreciate your work. That being said, don’t disregard everyone’s criticism but instead think about it objectively and weigh it against your own inner writing instinct. Make sure the criticism improves the work in the manner you envision and use it. If it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to disregard it. If you’ve written the best work you possibly can, your work will stand up against the criticism.”

 

About the Author:  

7_29 CharityKountz2012

By day, Marketing Director. By night, published Author. Lover of CSI, writing, poker, animals, family fun & Twitter. Information Addict. Techno Geek.Wife. Mom.

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7_29 Paperback Front Cover 2After Jason and Lizzy’s family move hundreds of miles south from Chicago to Texas, leaving behind friends, school and the only home they’ve ever known, they are desperate for something familiar. Together, Jason and Lizzy make a late-night wish upon a star for snow that launches them on an incredible adventure even bigger than their recent cross-country move.

Join Jason and Lizzy as they make new friends, visit far-away lands, and learn, sometimes, home is more than where you live.

Author Interview and giveaway: Anne Barwell

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Anne Barwell, whose newest book A Knight to Remember was recently released. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of the book.

A Knight to Remember is Anne’s fifth title out with Dreamspinner Press. I asked her to tell us about them.

Cat’s Quill and Magic’s Muse are contemporary fantasy and part of the Hidden Places series. Shadowboxing is book one of the Echoes series, and is set in 1943 in Germany during WW2.  Slow Dreaming is a time travel SF story set here in Wellington.  I’ve also written a free short story called Slice of Heaven which catches up with Jason and Sean two years later for Dreamspinner’s Sexy Six anniversary celebrations.  A Knight to Remember  is a fantasy with dragons.

“My favourite of these is Shadowboxing. I’ve always had a weakness for that time period and stories set within it.  Shadowboxing was also the first thing I wrote which I knew was going to be a novel, although I did put it down for a while as all the research is rather scary.  I’m planning to write the other two books in the series as soon as I’ve done with vampires. They’re plotted out so I know what happens, at least until the characters decide to change things, so I just need to sit down and write them.  I enjoy writing action/drama/romance with a good sized dollop of hurt/comfort aka whumping and this series is full of it.”

The inspiration for A Knight to Remember was St George and the Dragon.  Anne was taking part in a Coffee Unicorns author chat and TJ Klune posed the question: what fairytale would you like to rewrite?

“Aric’s sister is called Georgia, although she’s far from a traditional damsel in distress and would probably kick my arse for even suggesting she might be,” Anne said. “The rest of the story is really nothing like St George and the Dragon, unless you squint really hard, although there’s a dragon in it.”

With Anne, characters and plot tend to more or less turn up together.

“When I think up a plot, it’s usually about a character or two, or because a character has turned up and wants their story written.  Or if it’s just an idea, my first thought is about the characters I can use to bring those ideas to life,” she explained.  “My writing is very character driven, and I usually have characters hanging around who I haven’t written yet.  Several of them are getting very impatient as apparently I’m not writing fast enough so I can get onto their story. It’s good, though, because by the time I’m ready to write, they’ve very much solidified in my mind and are their own person.”

She has a full-time job in a library–working afternoons/evenings during the week and during the day on weekends. This really makes it important for her writing that she be organized–otherwise, it would be too easy to sleep in or kill time before work and not get any writing done.

“I set an alarm and make sure I’m sitting down to write by at least 10am,” she told me. “That gives me regular writing time each day, and depending on where I am in a project, and how hard the muses are pushing, I’ll also come home and do more in the evenings, and on the weekends.  People at work ask me how I manage to write so much with everything else I have going on. My reply is that I schedule it in, like I do with everything else.  It can get frustrating though when I have to stop and run for work at a crucial part of the story.  Writing a bit here and there quickly adds up to a reasonable amount, where if I waited until I had several hours’ stretch before I did anything I’d probably get nothing done!”

When she does take a break from her writing and the library, she tends to do a lot of watching and reading.

“The watching is often with friends, and then we have long discussions dissecting what we’ve just watched. My daughter rolls her eyes a bit, and has commented that we’re having ‘those discussions’ again when she’s been home on movie night.  The shows I’m not watching with friends, I usually end up discussing with friends who are also watching them.  It’s half the fun,” she said. ” Ditto with books. I work in a library so am surrounded by people who love to read. Our reserve piles are really really high. I won’t mention how many suspended reserves I have on my library card. It’s embarrassing.

I’ve just finished Clockwork Princess which is the 3rd book of Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series, so am now reading her Mortal Instruments series as the other series, which is a rather cool steampunkish YA fantasy set in Victorian London, is the prequel for it.  I’m loving both series, and especially the way they interconnect with the present day characters being descendents of the others. There are also a few characters who appear in both.  Her Shadowhunters world is an interesting one, and the stories are a mix of action, drama, and romance with a good dab of angst which are my favourite kinds of stories.   My favourite characters in Mortal Instruments are Simon and Magnus/Alec.  I suspect I’ll get to the end of book 5 and then grumble about having to wait for book 6 which isn’t out until next year.

“I also read a lot of graphic novels, mostly DC as I’m a huge Bat Family fan, with a sprinkling of manga, although a friend has recently tempted me into the dark side of Marvel by showing me scans of Billy/Teddy from Young Avengers.” She sighed. “I was trying to stay away from Marvel as I had enough trouble trying to keep up with DC.

“Audio books are great for listening to in the car. I always have one on the go, although more often than not they are something from Big Finish Productions. They do great audios with a Dr Who connection, whether it be full cast audios with Drs 4-8, Companion Chronicles, or spinoffs such as Bernice Summerfield and Iris Wildthyme.  I bought a Highlander spinoff (Highlander: the TV series) full cast audio featuring the Four Horsemen last year. Loved it.”

In addition to this she also has played violin in a local orchestra for over ten years, apart from a few years when she was studying full time. They practice on Monday nights and have three concerts a year.

“It’s a lot of fun, despite the work involved,” she assured me.  “Playing in an orchestra has really stretched my playing ability although some of the music still invokes a ‘yeah right, like that’s going to happen’ response from our section.”

She’s also taken up knitting again after a break of several years because of RSI.

“At present I’m knitting socks on four needles which I’ve been informed are for my other daughter.  Apparently helping me to choose the wool meant they’re for her. Who knew?” she said.

“What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?” I asked.

“I love the what ifs of the genres. I love being transported to situations that aren’t the norm and either write or read about characters who find themselves in ‘fish out of water’ scenarios.  Give me something with time travel and/or psi powers and I’m usually hooked.  One of the first SF books I read was one my dad introduced me to called Wild Talent by Wilson Tucker, and it was about someone with psi powers. I totally blame him for my addiction to SF.  Another series he introduced me to was the Pip and Flinx series by Alan Dean Foster, which is about someone who has empathic powers and a dragon. We used to read them as they came out and then talk about them.  My dad passed away last year.  I miss him.

“Both SF and fantasy have so much potential to explore just about anything.  The only limit is imagination, and they’re great at opening the mind to possibilities.  My reading and writing is very character driven, and how people react to very different situations, and yet don’t lose their humanity really appeals. People are still people, whether they’re on an alien planet or flung back in time to somewhere they have no clue about.”

 

About the Author: 7_17 believe in dragons iconAnne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/

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7_17 KnighttoRemember[A]“The last of your line will be in the embrace of a dragon.”

Aric, Crown Prince of Astria, has been brought up to believe that all dragons are evil. But when he speaks with one, he finds himself questioning those beliefs. The dragon tells him to find a sword in Sherwin Forest to save not only his kingdom but also his sister, Georgia, who must otherwise wed the prince of a neighboring kingdom.

At the start of his quest, Aric dons a disguise and meets Denys, an archer and herbalist who lives alone at the edge of the forest. Denys agrees to guide Aric into the forest, but then Georgia appears, revealing Aric’s true identity.

However Aric learns he is not the only one keeping secrets. Denys has a few of his own that could change both of their lives forever.

 

 

INTERVIEW: JAMES S. DORR

Long and Short Reviews welcomes James S. Dorr, whose newest book The Tears of Isis is scheduled for release on May 15 by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.  The book is already available for pre-order, though, so be sure and check out the links at the bottom of this interview. Also, the publisher is offering five free copies of The Tears of Isis up until May 15 on the book’s site on Goodreads.

James told me that the easy answer to “what inspired him to start writing” might be that it was a great way to meet girls–and he did, including meeting the Woman Who Was to Become His Ex-Wife.  Actually, though, he came a bit late to writing–having first been interested in the visual arts.

“In college, for instance, I was art editor on the undergraduate humor magazine, though I read a lot too, and the editorial post sometimes included doing some fill-in writing,” he explained.  “Then I was also doing some writing (and meeting girls) for the school science fiction club and, when I went to graduate school, I became a columnist and then an editor on a campus underground magazine, and then editor on a literary newspaper.  At that point I also got an graduate assistantship with the college’s academic computing center which ultimately became a full time ‘real job’ as a technical writer and editor.  This takes us to around the 1980s where, recession times striking the Midwest where I was located, I started freelancing real estate, business, and consumer topics for a series of newsletters.  Eventually I got a new ‘real job’ outside of writing but that gave me breathing room to get back to the artistic side of writing with short fiction and poetry.”

The Tears of Isis is a collection of short stories.  Seventeen stories in all  plus a poem to begin it.  Most of these have been previously published, but some are original, and with one exception none of these are printed in other collections of his work.  This would make this a collection of stories that will probably be new to the reader.

“If my selection does what I hope it will do, both in the stories I picked and in the order of their presentation, once you’ve finished you may have a feeling of having read something bigger than just the sum of the individual stories themselves,” he told me.

James has a series of short stories he’s been writing set on a far future, dying Earth in and around a vast necropolis called The Tombs.  Something more than a dozen of these have been published in various places, including three (two reprints and one for the first time) in The Tears of Isis, “The Ice Maiden,” “Mara’s Room,” and “River Red”  (another new one, “Raising the Dead,” is also scheduled for later this year in the White Cat Publications steampunk anthology Airships and Automatons).  At one time he had been in discussion with a publisher about a possible novel made up of Tombs stories as a sort of future history, somewhat along the lines of the late Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, though problems with the economy at large seem to have put that on hold for now — at least for the moment.   He’s also being more aggressive in trying to place older stories as reprints in various anthologies, partly to get them back into circulation but also as a response to a weak economy. Also, he published a book of vampire poetry, Vamps (A Retrospective), with Sam’s Dot Publishing  two years ago and is thinking about the possibility of a second volume, possibly something like Vamps (And Friends) to allow in some poetry about zombies, werewolves, monsters and the like.

In the “Tombs” stories James began with a map–different areas were defined in terms of the people who lived there. More or less “normal” people lived in the New City and the Tombs; ghouls resided in the Old City;  boat gypsies lived on the river–they were fairly normal, but prone to disease from the river’s poisons, thus leading short but more intense lives;  more or less normal people again lived in the Port City but had a higher proportion of mutants.

“I asked myself how people made a living (in the Tombs itself, for instance, in trades related to undertaking: digging graves, guards to protect from corpse robbers, but also tombstone artists and carvers, curators for record keeping), and then what the social structure would tend to (in the New City an exaggerated version of parts of current America with rich getting richer and more privileged and poor getting poorer — and with hierarchies among hierarchies, as in varying levels of respect even among the city’s beggars),” he explained. “I asked about male-female relations (in New City, especially among the wealthy, rather ‘male chauvenist piggy'; on the river more rigid but also with the sexes more equal; in the Tombs the society in general tending to more individuality but also more collectivist when it comes to meeting mutual threats).  The physical world is a dying Earth with mixed levels of technology (the New City, for instance has electricity, but boats on the river are powered by sail) and with a sun that’s gradually swelling, becoming hotter to the point that it’s dangerous to go out in daytime, so part of the game is watching people within their various societies adapt themselves to a nocturnal existence,  But the thing is, you start with these strictures, then have to work through them to their logical conclusions (one story, as yet unpublished, shows how the New City can still be electrified; another, ‘Mara’s Room,’ reprinted in The Tears of Isis, alludes to a exodus from Earth at some time in the past, so the people we have now are those who were left behind).”

The names in the “Tombs” stories also follow conventions–arbitrary and somewhat of a whimsicality on James’s part, but conventions he feels can be useful to the readers as they become familiar with them. Males in the New City with names ending in “ar” are usually from the more wealthy, higher status classes (but not necessarily always since, after all, a once wealthy family could fall on hard times);  high-status women among the boat people have names that end in “an” (or “ann” or “anne”); ghouls almost always have names that begin with “m.”  In one story, a high caste boatwoman refers to herself as “Ana,” which, it’s explained, is a suffix without an actual name to precede it meaning she’s to be taken as “Everywoman”.

I asked him to describe his writing space.

“I have a particular room I use as an office with an off-line desk computer, file cabinets, and lots and lots and lots of bookshelves crammed with books, a lot of them reference.  Dictionaries. encyclopedias, atlases, travel guides, you name it.  Plus papers and who knows what else scattered all over when I’m in the middle of a project — I’m a messy worker.  I refer to this sometimes as the ‘computer cave,’ but there’s an outer part of the computer cave too, a second on-line computer on a table (with monitor stuffed onto a bookcase) and hooked to the phone for dial-up internet (I also refer sometimes to myself as the ‘caveman of computing’) in a corner of what was the dining room, that I use for email and for submissions, doing original writing on floppy disks which I can then switch to the second computer.  A lot of the equipment I use is second hand and cheap, but that’s my protection, too, from things like computer viruses:  important files are always backed up, and, should a computer become infected, I just replace it.   But also, as sort of a computer annex, I’ll also do work like downloading larger files, or files in more sophisticated form than the home computers are comfortable with, at the public library, thus getting some needed exercise too by usually walking downtown to get there.”

Finally I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“One word:  perseverance.  Some might even say pigheadedness.   But seriously writing takes time to develop so be prepared for lots of disappointments before the acceptance letters (emails these days) begin to come – and even then there’ll be lots of editors who, for one reason or another, may turn you down.  Don’t quit your day job.  You’ve heard that before,  but it’s true.  Even fairly steady success, especially if you’re into short fiction and poetry, is unlikely to bring in a lot of money, though there can always be exceptions (novels are better, but if you really want to make a living writing, go for nonfiction).  But then, money aside and, I think, most important,  find joy in writing whether you feel successful or not.  I think it’s the same with any art – if the joy isn’t there it isn’t worth doing.”

 

About the Author: 

5_7 Dorr-SMJames Dorr combines the charm of a gentleman born in the US South with the wiles of a near-New York City upbringing, the canniness of a one-time New England resident, and the guile of an outwardly stolid Midwesterner, or so he says.  It is known that he was born in Florida, grew up in New Jersey, went to college in Massachusetts, and currently lives in Indiana where he also harbors a cat named Wednesday.  He is a short story writer and poet working mainly in dark fantasy and horror with forays into science fiction and mystery, and  has previously worked as a technical writer for an academic computing center, associate editor on a city magazine, a nonfiction freelance writer, and a semi-professional Renaissance musician.

Dorr’s previous books include two collections from Dark Regions Press, Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance and Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret; a poetry collection Vamps (A Retrospective), from Sam,’s Dot Publishing (now part of White Cat Publications); and several electronic chapbooks from Untreed Reads and elsewhere, along with nearly four hundred individual appearances from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine to Xenophilia.  An active member of SFWA and HWA, Dorr recently wrote the introduction to Telling Tales of Terror: Essays on Writing Horror & Dark Fiction (Damnation Books, Dec. 2012).

http://jamesdorrwriter.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/james.dorr.9

5_7 TheTearsOfIsisWhat do Medusa and the goddess Isis have in common?  Are both creatresses through destruction?  And why was Isis oftentimes depicted as weeping?

Herewith are some answers as parts of a journey through art and creation, of sculpture and blood-drinking, crafting musical instruments from bone, revisiting legends of Cinderella and the Golden Fleece, of Sleeping Beauty and Dragons and Snow White — some of these, of course, well disguised.  For is not art both the recasting of what is, as well as the invention of what is not?

The Elizabethan poet Sir Philip Sidney spoke of art as “making things either better than nature bringeth forth, or, quite anew, forms such as never were in nature,” so here there be vampires, and ghouls, and insects perhaps from outer space as well as from this Earth, and visions of Saturn and life in the sea, and other wonders “such as never were in nature,” but, above all, Isis.  The Weeping Isis.  Isis with vulture wings, breasts bare and smeared with blood as in the earliest forms of her myth.

And of course, as well, Medusa.

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INTERVIEW: ELIZABETH FOUNTAIN

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Elizabeth Fountain whose debut novel An Alien’s Guide to World Domination was published this month by Champagne/BURST! Books.  Leave a comment on today’s interview telling Liz  why you  love to read science fiction and/or fantasy and you might win a $5 Amazon gift card.

She’s working on three more novel-length manuscripts in varioius stages of revision. One is the story of a woman who can write stories that come true . Another is the tale of what happens when Death is looking for early retirement, and meets Guinevere, who is desperate to escape her guilt over inadvertently causing someone to die. And the one she’s most excited about right now is her first foray into writing for young people – middle grades. It’s the adventure of Amy June Pilgrim and her grandfather as they try to find the mathematical formula for immediate forgiveness. If they find it, they can transform the world for the better – and that’s why so many forces are intent on stopping them.

Liz has written stories as long as she can remember. She started out as an arden reader and fell in love with books about Robin Hood and Maid Marian, shy puppies, and “Pickle Chiffon Pie.” So, it wasn’t long before she tried creating stories of her own–illustrating them as well, mostly with pictures of horses.

“I’m not at all sure the stories were about horses, or even marginally related to horses, but I liked drawing horses, so I included them in all my work. That’s the advantage of being a little kid – you don’t have to follow any rules!” she said.

“What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?” I wonder.

Oh boy, this is one that I really could go on forever about. I’ve written and thought about this a great deal. It comes down to this: as a writer, I can tell truths using the conventions of science fiction and fantasy that are much harder for me to tell if I stay within the bounds of realism. My favorite example of this is time-travel. Science fiction authors did not invent time travel. Human beings experience it all the time (pun intended). Remember the last time you walked into your parents’ house? Boom! You were twelve, or sixteen, or three, again. What did you do last night while trying to sleep? You projected yourself into your future, whether it was that annoying work meeting first thing in the morning, or the house you want to live in ten years from now. Our imaginations don’t register any of this as ‘fiction’ – it’s just life. That’s why I’m trying out a new motto as an author: ‘Fiction – the other white lie.’ Nothing about science fiction would grab your interest if you hadn’t already experienced it somehow. You know what it feels like to land on a strange planet and wonder if you can breathe the air there. You know what it feels like to slip from one universe to another, through some kind of portal, and you know the feeling of panic as that portal closes behind you.  And you know the joy of finding your way back home, to a universe that blessedly makes sense again.”

Liz loves the frenzy of National Novel Writing Month, when she commits to writing fifty thousand words in thirty days.

“When I lived in Seattle, a group of us WriMos would meet at a local tavern for what we called ‘the drunken write-in.’ No one ever got drunk, but I was amazed to find that one beer (usually Redhook), lots of noise, and dodging the tavern regulars who want to play pool or throw darts significantly juiced up my word count,” she said. “Some of my best passages were written in that crazy environment, surrounded by bar-goers and other nerdy writers huddled over laptops. Every now and then I try to re-create it; sometimes silence and privacy just don’t help me get words on a page.”

The job in Seattle paid close to six figures, but she left it and moved herself to the small town of Ellensburg, so she could support herself by teaching university courses while she writes.

“I’m amazed and grateful that it’s worked out so well so far,” she said.

She pretty well stays within the science fiction-fantasy genre, broadly speaking.  She told me that she’s tried many times to write “straight” fiction, but something happens.

“I was writing a really deep piece about a woman trapped in a loveless marriage, while also being in love with her best friend, who was about to marry someone else,” she told me. “I’m working on the opening scene where she is in her kitchen, doing dishes, talking to herself, making wishes, like you do when you’re doing dishes – at least I do, if there’s no one else around – and boom! all of a sudden a genie lands on her faucet. He’s about eight inches tall, with a little green cap holding a long feather tucked in the band. He can’t hang onto the faucet because it’s covered in dish soap, so he slides ungracefully into the sudsy water. Worse yet, he’s there to grant the woman’s wishes. And all of a sudden I’m writing fantasy again.”

I asked, “What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?”

“When I first read Jasper Fforde’s Lost in  Good Book, I realized that’s what I wanted to write – and that I could do it. I mean, I wanted to write about worlds that are ours, but different: his worlds slip between reality and Bookworld, and people can travel through time, and the Crimean War lasts hundreds of years, and mastodons ravage people’s gardens now and then. But as the reader you believe it all, even though it’s nonsense. I hope to create those kinds of experiences for readers of my books too – they will know these worlds, and these characters, even though they are aliens, or genies, or talking goats, or Death seeking early retirement.”

The worls Liz writes about is our world, but just a little different.  Most of the action in An Alien’s Guide takes place in towns and cities Liz has visited, but seen through the eyes of the characters. The aliens, btw, take their names from popular culture–television and movies.

“These are the compelling visions the aliens encounter when they arrive on Earth, so it made sense they’d wind up naming themselves after their favorites. Some central events in the book take place in 1976, and that happens to be the year Charlie’s Angels debuted on network television. I scanned the credits and took several character names from that show,” Liz explained. “It was also a way to show how the aliens don’t really fit in – they take names from the wrong gender, or names that are just silly. They only have the movies and TV shows to go by – they don’t have all the cultural context that we take for granted.”

Finally I asked, ” If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?”

“In junior high, there was a girl who was at the very bottom of the social totem pole. She was so happy anyway, she didn’t seem to notice. She invited me to her birthday party my eighth grade year; and I didn’t go. I lied when we saw each other in school, and told her I’d been sick. But really, I was scared that once the other kids knew I’d been to her party, they’d ostracize me, too. I was already pretty lonely, so that seemed like a fate worse than death. Now, looking back, I know that girl was likely to be a better friend – and better person – than any of the popular kids I was so afraid of provoking. I can only remember her first name. If I ever find her, I’d apologize for missing her party and for lying about it. And I hope she’s still the happiest person around.”

 

 

About the Author:   5_2 Liz2Elizabeth Fountain lives in Ellensburg, Washington, in the heart of the beautiful and diabolically windy Kittitas Valley. She started writing in grade school; fortunately, most of her tortured high school poetry and song lyrics are lost to posterity. She teaches university classes in psychology and leadership, and writes short stories and novels that capture the unintentional humor and weirdness of everyday life; or, as she puts it: “Fiction – the other white lie.”

Her work has been published in Randomly Accessed Poetics, a literary magazine, and in Shared Whispers, an anthology of romance and adventure stories. Her first novel, An Alien’s Guide to World Domination, was published in April 2013 by Champagne/BURST! Books.

                                                                                      Website                            Facebook

5_2 BOOK COVERWhen Earth’s future is in the hands of the last person on the planet who thinks humanity is worth saving, it’s lucky her dog knows what to do.

Louise Armstrong Holliday is the last person on Earth you’d expect to save the human race. But when she uncovers proof that her boss is an alien the color of lime Jell-O gone horribly wrong, and is at the center of a plot to destroy humanity, Louie decides to do exactly that. She begins a journey from her company’s suburban Seattle office park to the old cities and castles of Eastern Europe. Along the way, Louie is attacked by flying books, overly-sensitive bat-crow monsters, and her own self-doubts. She must learn the truth about her closest friend, stand up to her boss, confront her oldest enemy, and make peace with her Aunt Emma, who annoys her in the way only true family can. She also has to rely on Buddy, the little blind mini-Schnauzer who saves her life twice – and really is from Mars.

INTERVIEW: BRIAN DAUNT’RE

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Brian Daunt’re, the author of the Illogical Detective series.  His latest release is Illogical Detective II: Holes in Cornwall and he has completed four of a planned seven books in the series.

Brian told me that he doesn’t build worlds as much as he uses and modifies those worlds that already exist.

“The real world, Fairytale /Fairyland, as in the Illogical Detective; history and mythological worlds in various cultures,” he explained. “I explain these worlds as geometric dimensions, that may communicate and or interact with the real world.”

He describes good writing as “impressionist painting with words.”

“It gives a skeleton / points of reference that can be fleshed out by the reader’s imagination. The reader can then interact with the story and characters. This is equivalent, to audience participation,” he said. “In this way the narrative does not need to be in detail. For example the descriptive narrative of a brick wall does not need to describe individual bricks, but the character of the wall. This is reflected in its texture, its function, where and how it was built. It will reflect the attitude of the builder and the person or persons for whom the wall was built. This constitutes the individuality of a brick wall, which may be interactive or at variance with its environment. Therefore the wall has an attitude that is dependent on the time of day and weather. People who view or come with in, the influence of the wall may modulate this attitude. Like wise the wall will modulate the people’s attitude. This is impressionist writing.

“Impressionist writing also applies to action and dialogue. Speech is rarely if ever divorced from action, together they form a communication system. Therefore action and dialogue are interactive and help to create the character. For example: His decision was made. He about turned, in true military fashion of an ex-household cavalry officer. He marched the exact four paces to his own personal oak desk, an eighteenth century military campaign desk. He paused slightly as if having second thoughts; then firmly pushed the button on the intercom. His secretary immediately responded. ‘Yes Sir.’

              ‘Make an appointment for me to see the director of operations. Today!  It’s Urgent!’

The example given also tells the reader that the character has a tertiary classical education, a military-authoritarian approach and an interest in military history. Therefore you would expect his pronunciation to be word perfect. In contrast, the rules of grammar and spelling may need to be distorted when creating a character with a dialect, accent or speech impediment. For example: you, you’s and yew; yaws and yours; them and them’s. In addition a character that speaks a language other than English, the dialogue needs to reflect that language. This may be achieved by mispronunciation; the use of similar sounding words; common recognizable words of that language and the logic of the sentence to give meaning to an unfamiliar word.”

Brian also sees impressionist writing as a powerful tool in humor, where a humorous situation is set up that acts as a thread to other well-known humorous situations or jokes.

“The readers are then taken in to their own humorous world,” he said. “The difficulty here is creating a multi-thread to lead to different types of humor. My own definition of humor is simple. If some one laughs at it, it’s humorous.”

An example from his writing:

The youngest of the three brothers, AH, the proctologist, got married in 1884. The bride to be was given special dispensation by the church, and was upheld in the high court, that she did not wish to take on the family name of Holes, as her given name was Fanny. The result of this union was the birth of Albert Holes in 1885 in the parish of Aston in Birmingham. It was said that AH was now in a SH. When Albert was five years of age his father AH was charged with indecent assault / homosexuality. This came about by a patient complaining that AH had both hands on his shoulders while inserting a suppository. AH went to prison for five years and his son, Albert, and his wife, Fanny, went to live with Uncle Greatholes at Aston Manor in AstonPark that he had just purchased from the Birmingham city Council for exploratory quarrying.

Uncle Greatholes took great care to shield Fanny and Albert from the publicity surrounding the imprisonment of AH. Unfortunately a year after moving to Aston Manor Fanny died of a massive heart attack induced by the embracement of finding out her husband AH had taken up rear-end parking with one of the prison warders, at first she thought they were motor car enthusiasts. Uncle Greatholes adopted Albert and by doing so became the first legal Victorian single parent. He told Albert that his parents had gone to Africa as missionaries, in order to spare the boy further distress from losing both parents, and that he would look after him.

Brian is currently working on experimental writing–using poetry in combination with narrative and dialogue in a horror novel.  The Diary of an Insane Mind:

Daniel had decided to escape; he had done it before and would do it again. He felt the warmth surround him and the heaviness of his body; he had started the journey. He would escape in to the world he had created, not theirs. Far away, cast away within the inner mind, on an Island of dreams, forged in to shape on the anvil of reality; tempered with a murderess theme; that can hide away or be hidden until he navigated that path way far away, cast away within his inner mind. 

“Do you hear from your readers much?” I asked. “What do they say?”

“Not sure if reviewers are readers. The Illogical Detective I has been praised and criticized. The criticism was that the characters were almost cardboard cutouts moved around a theater setting. As previously discussed; impressionist writing gives a skeleton / points of reference that can be fleshed out by the reader’s imagination. Perhaps I expect too much or the reviewer has too little.”

For Brian, research takes up as much time as writing. He has a good collection of reference books on subjects of interest. He also uses the public and university libraries, as well as the Internet.

“I always check things out. Eg:  wanted to add a humorous thread relating to a rude Rugby song ‘On the Good Ship Venus.’ This is what I discovered: In April, 1806, the Colonial brigantine VENUS, owned by Robert Campbell and under the command of Captain Samuel Chase. Setting a course for Port Dalrymple, the Captain soon discovered he had made a grave mistake taking female convicts on board. During the voyage, he found several of the crew in a drunken state and the two women dancing half naked. The crew and the women mutinied when they got to port.”

“What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?” I asked.

“One time I was thinking about writing a scene requiring a disguise. I came to the conclusion that you could use behaviour to project your disguise. I was driving my car when a delivery or tradesman’s truck forced me to stop abruptly. I parked my car behind his truck. Walked over to him and said, ‘Tomorrow I will be on duty; I’ve got your number. If I see you drive like that you’re nicked.’ He was most apologetic.”

Brian’s pen name came about when he discovered his ancestor was Daunt’re who died at the Battle of Hastings, and whose name is on the Battle Role in Battle Abby.

“Based on this I have written ‘The Diary of a Battle Knyght’ whose mentor was Merlin. Merlin and Battle rally call knights and warriors because non-people, from the dark vortex, are attacking this world,” he said.    “It’s written in medieval prose, verse format. Some old English, French and Norman words have been used, but I have attempted, in their use, not to obscure or confuse modern English.  I have also attempted to use the rhyme of the verse to give a modern English meaning to an old word. For those readers who want a more precise definition for some of the old words, a glossary has been included at the back of the book. In this way I hope I have created the atmosphere of the time. It poses the question as to whether or not we have past lives, or is memory passed on in DNA, waiting to be awoken.”

Brian believes that any good story will contain fact, fiction, and fantasy–the Three Fs. The genre classification depends on a matter of emphasis.

For example, in Harry Potter, the facts are: students go to school and take exams, moving from primary to secondary to tertiary education; interaction with school politics and interpersonal relationships; a spectrum of family relationship dynamics. These facts are the foundations on which the story is built. This gives the  families and their histories a believable reality.

“The next step into fantasy becomes a smooth transition in to the realms of well known mythological magic,” he explained. “This is acceptable because it appears not to violate the natural laws of chemistry and physics. In this way a world within a world is created, rather than a total new world divorced from natural laws. It becomes believable and appeals to a broad age group. In other words it is not age group specific, such as magic flying dogs in children’s stories. Therefore adult fantasy may be described as surrealism, a believable reality.

“Examples of unbelievable fantasy are the Vampire Stories. Vampires incorporated in to our present society. This could be made believable by links to reality. For example in our present society they could be classified as an endangered species; heamogloblin (haematophagy) addicts requiring blood shoot up parlors; treatment with artificial blood to break the addiction. Then there is blood borne disease transmission and HIV. Gay and Lesbian vampires.

“If vampires are immortal, then they would be subjects of stem cell research and anticoagulants for the benefit of the non-vampire population. Would there be a black market for vampire organs develop run by poachers or poachers hired to get particular organs? Would vampires be reclassified as a sub species and bred for legal organ transplants?”Would vampires require a separate dental plan relative to non-vampires? The sociological implications are enormous.

“In terms of sociology, the Vampire Stories offer, at the best, a weak reflection of racial discrimination; at the worst successful selfishness.

“The original story of vampires was influenced by the discoveries in physiology, vascular circulation; life giving properties of blood, oxygen carrier, and experiments with blood transfusion, blood groups were unknown at the time.

“The story by Poe, a mummy brought back to life with static electricity, soon after its discovery, using Leyden Jars. The discovery that the contraction of muscle was due to the propagation of an electric impulse by nerve transmission, influenced the story of Frankenstein. This was at the time of the invention of electricity generation, and the realization that lightening was an electrical discharge.

“What I am trying to say, is that these original stories were not only linked to the age, but also to the cutting edge of medicine, science and technology; a glimpse in to the potential future. This is what makes these stories frightening and believable; they contain the three Fs.  The three Fs today may include stem cells, cloning of DNA from dead people and its use in nuclear embryo transfer, Frankenstein-incarnate. Gene transfer from the vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) to human embryos would be interesting. Would this be the beginning of a new human-vampire species? Dracula incarnate.”

About the Author: University lecturer, human reproduction and cancer; business development consultant. Based on the Gold Coast; Surfers Paradise Australia. Partner and a cat named Toffee who insists on being taken for a walk on a lead and drinks water from a wine glass; his favorite food prawns, but only if you peel them.  Publications, me, not Toffee, in science / medical journals and pharmaceutical trade journals. Medieval prose and poetry. Sketch 2009. Illogical Detective (I of VI) ebook non-exclusive rights Untreed Reads 2012.

Illogical Detective I: Britain’s greatest illogical detective, Albert Holes, uses reverse logic to solve problems.  Holes came from a well-established linage that could trace its ancestry back before the Norman invasion in 1066. As was the custom in those days, the family name was the name of the trade or profession that was practiced. The Holes family made and sold holes.

Holes is supported in his investigations by his logical friend Doctor Aston. In 1914-18 (WW1), they discover that the parallel dimension is Fairyland, and that the dimensions are interactive. The British Government’s stationary is stolen; the Foreign Secretary is a spy, with an interest in genital photography, and commits suicide. The Home Secretary, a descendant of Simple Simon, engages Holes and Aston to find out who is manipulating Europe to go to war. At the same time, Old King Cole engages Holes and Aston on a similar problem in Fairyland.

Illogical Detective II Holes in Cornwall. . Holes theories on reverse logic lead him to believe that a four right-footed cat is the clue to the murder and the treasure of the Pirates of Penzance. This leads him to stolen property being auctioned at the Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor. He reasons that the Beast of Bodmin Moor is a Were Cat controlled by the Ghost of Bodmin Moor, both involved with the stolen property being auctioned at the Jamaica Inn and the pirate’s treasure. Who is to inherit the treasure? Tom Bowcock and his four right footed cat, delegates from the Peanut Venders Conference, the inhabitants of Mouse Hole and Camelford, Russian ship wreaked sailors from a riotous beach party,

 

 

 

INTERVIEW: Electra Shepherd

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Electra Shepherd, Her latest book Man or Machine, Book Two in the Body Electric series, was released earlier this month by Ellora’s Cave.  She’s also the alter ego of a bestselling, award-winning women’s fiction writer, who made her up because she wanted an outlet for the weird things in her imagination. The name Electra Shepherd is a tribute to one of her favorite science fiction writers, Philip K Dick, and the title of his android story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” which was the basis for the film Blade Runner.

“It’s sort of nice being an alter ego,” she told me. “I get to wear a silk mask in public and I eat all of her chocolate when she’s occupied elsewhere.”

In Man or Machine, Computer genius Ilsa builds a robot, Dallas, to be her sexual companion, but her ex-boyfriend Hal sneaks into her house to steal her secrets. Of course she has to tie him up, and then, of course, Dallas has to have sex with both of them, to extend his knowledge of human sexuality.

All of that is in the blurb. What’s not in the blurb is that the robot Dallas is also trying to extend his knowledge of human love…and by the end of the book, he’s fallen in love himself. With someone quite unexpected.

Electra is currently working on the third book in the series which is going to be called Hardware. It’s about Dallas and his lover as they learn about love in some rather unusual ways.

“What inspired you to start writing the Body Electric series?” I asked.

“It was during Hurricane Irene. The wind was blowing hard enough to lift the house straight up into the air, and I was trying to distract myself by coming up with the funniest book idea I could write. ‘What if,’ I thought, ‘I wrote an erotic novel about a woman who falls in love with a big blue robot?’

“(My mind is quite a strange place sometimes.)

“The power had gone out, but I lit a candle and immediately started writing. When the power came back on and it was safe to go outside, I told the premise to several people and they all fell about laughing, so I knew I had a winner. In fact, that one idea has spawned an idea for an entire series of sexy novels, Body Electric, about a genius family and their robots. It was originally going to be a trilogy, but I’m a big Douglas Adams fan, so I’m planning a trilogy with five books.”

She’s currently reading I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. You might think she’s reading it because she writes about sexy robots, but she’s reading it for another reason.

“My friend’s mother was a huge sci-fi fan, and when I started writing my books about robots, she thought it was great. I, Robot was her favorite book and she took the time to outline Asimov’s rules of robotics to me. She loved that I’d chosen to name myself after a Philip K Dick novel. Sadly, she died of a brain tumor last month and in her memory, we’re reading her favorite book for our book club meeting.”

“What do you do about writer’s block?” I wondered.

“I’ve found that if I make myself sit down and write entirely in binary (00000010000001100001111001111111) eventually I get so bored that I have to get back to the darn story to keep myself awake.”

Electra told me that any book can be improved with the addition of aliens, robots, or monsters.

“And big guns,” she added. “Big guns are also good. If Emily Bronte, Harper Lee and JD Salinger had known this simple fact, they would have been much more prolific in their lifetimes, and think how much richer the world of literature would have been.”

When she was young, Electra wanted to be Princess Leia when she grew up.

“Precisely, I want to be her at the moment where she’s wearing a metal bikini and strangling Jabba the Hutt,” she qualified.  However, I harbor a sneaking suspicion that if I were ever indeed, like Princess Leia, placed in a metal bikini and chained to a grossly obese and drooling alien in the shape of a giant poo, I would utterly fail to wrap my imprisoning chain around the evil alien’s neck and strangle him. I think I would probably just belly dance at his will and become crabby and passive-aggressive. This is an enduring disappointment in my life.”

“How do you do research for your books?” I asked.

“Are you kidding? I make all this stuff up out of my own head. Try Googling ‘make a robot penis’ and see what sort of nonsense you get. My Google searches are the stuff of nightmares. But I have made a research trip in real life. In my first book, Love Machine, the characters have to make a penis for the robot hero, Blue. While I was writing it, I went into a sex shop in Vancouver and carefully examined each one of their blue dildoes and vibrators. Because, you know, insider (ahem) knowledge is vital for this sort of thing.”

Electra told me that the scariest moment of her life was when they stopped making any new Star Trek television series.

“Major panic time!” she assured me. “Fortunately I have several copies of the DVDs of every show ever made, hidden away in a secure metal-lined underground bunker. And at least we have the new movie to look forward to, though as far as I’m aware, it’s shockingly android-free. This is WRONG, people.”

“What would we find under your bed?” I asked.

“He really likes being tied up there, and he’s perfectly contented on a diet of dust bunnies and odd socks. Honest.”

Finally, I asked, ”

  • Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?”

“Actually, I used to be part of the collective calling themselves B. H. Dark, who wrote a sexy romantic comedy called Close Encounters, about four humans being abducted by aliens in order to form an intergalactic porn empire.

It’s good to belong to a collective. It’s sort of like being part of the Borg.”

Find Electra online at

http://www.electrashepherd.com

http://www.facebook.com/ElectraShepherd?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/ElectraShepherd

Man or Machine

Book two in the Body Electric series.

4_25 manormachine_msrGeek-girl Ilsa Morgenstern has had enough heartbreak to last a lifetime, so she builds Dallas—a smart, sexy male robot—to keep her satisfied without requiring any pesky emotions. She’s not expecting Hal, her computer genius ex-boyfriend, to break into her home in an attempt to steal her family’s tech secrets. And she’s certainly not expecting that Dallas will want Hal and Ilsa to increase his knowledge of human sexuality by having sex with him—both separately and together.

As the robot/human encounters get closer—and even hotter—Ilsa’s feelings for Hal threaten to resurface. She’s determined to avoid heartbreak again, but sometimes a girl has to accept that the man—er, robot—you think you want is only seventy-four percent of the man you need.

Inside Scoop: This book contains male-male action, a male-female-male threesome and a robot who learned his speech patterns from watching internet porn. Yeah, baby.

 

 

Electra’s books:

https://www.ellorascave.com/index.php/authors/index/author/slug/electra-shepherd/order/by-title

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Electra%20Shepherd&search-alias=books&sort=relevancerank

INTERVIEW and giveaway: LISA FOX

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Lisa Fox who is giving away an ebook copy of her latest release Knightly Desire to a random commenter on today’s interview. Knightly Desire was released in March and there’s a bit of a May-December romance dynamic between Brant and Gabrielle in addition to the scorching hot chemistry. Gabrielle is about fifteen years younger than Brant.


Titling a book is the very last thing Lisa does, because it’s always difficult for her–so she likes to put it off as long as possible.

“First, I send an email to everyone I know saying, ‘Help! I have no title for this book!'” she said. “After they respond with a number of suggestions, I systemically reject them all. Then, I drink some coffee and stare off into space wondering what I am going to call the book. I come up with a number of titles that have absolutely nothing to do with the book I’ve just written and have to reject all those too. I suddenly come up with something brilliant, but I when check Amazon, I find there are five hundred other works of varying length and genre with same title. I drink more coffee. Play on the internet. Obsess. I think about writing other books. And then slowly, out of somewhere in the ethers, an idea forms and a title comes.”

Lisa’s writing space changes depending on the season. In the fall and winter, she likes to sit in her overstuff recliner, wrapped in blankets. In the spring, she likes to sit at her desk in her bedroom, because there’s a wonderful breeze. And, in the summer, she likes to sit outside in her background and enjoy the warmth.

As you might guess, Lisa absolutely hates the winter and she told me she honestly doesn’t know why she lives up north.

“One day I will move again, back down South,” she told me, “where the weather is more civilized.”

She’s actually from New Rochelle, New York, and told me that the best part about it, apart from it being the setting of the Dick Van Dyke Show,  was that she could catch a train any time, any day, and be in New York City in about forty minutes.

“If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?” I wondered.

“1.

  • Toilet Paper – I think this a thing most people overlook and take for granted, but I could not live without it. It is indispensable. 2.
  • A Complete Barista Set-Up Including a Never-Ending Supply of Fresh Ground Coffee – no explanation is really necessary for this one. 3. A Source of Electricity – so my coffee machine works 4. A Working Email Account – I could live without the internet, but I need my email. Besides, how else would I submit new things for people to read?

5. Hugh Jackman.”

Lisa doesn’t watch a lot of television–she prefers to spend her downtime playing video games–but she told me that she really likes American Horror Story.

“I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it actually because I generally prefer my horror in written form rather than visual,” she said. “Horror movies and shows can be very, very cheesy, often little more than cliché-riddled gore-fests, but American Horror Story is well-written and perfectly acted.”

Things that make her happy?  Writing, cookies, her PlayStation, lazy summer afternoons, champagne, new shoes, beautiful men, coffee, the smell of the ocean, chocolate cake, and reading really good books.

Finally, I asked, “What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?”

“I’d like to just keep on putting out new work. I feel like every time I finish a story and it gets accepted, it is a huge accomplishment. And I love that feeling, the mixed tremble of anxiety and delight when I see my editor response in my inbox, the awesome thrill getting new cover art, the crazy, hectic plans for release day promo. I’d like more of all of that for the rest of my life!”

About the Author:  4_23 LF_logo_2World-renowned neurosurgeon, jet fighter pilot, secret member of American royalty, seducer of legions of beautiful, outrageously sexy angels and demons and vampires and werewolves and the occasional pirate, Lisa Fox has done it all… in her own mind. In reality, she can generally be found at her desk with a cup of coffee close at hand. Or maybe a martini. It really depends on the day.

Email: lisa@lisafoxromance.com

Website: www.lisafoxromance.com

Twitter: @LisaFoxRomance

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LisaFoxRomance

4_23 knightlydesire_msr

A routine mission turns disastrous when knight Captain Brant and his men encounter a renegade mage. Injured and near death, Brant is brought to a nearby sanctuary of the god Ison, where the chaste sisters heal all those in need.

He is given into the care of Gabrielle, a talented healer. She is young, vivacious, bold—and a mage. She is everything wrong for him, and yet their desire can’t be denied.

Brant lives for his duty. Gabrielle belongs to a god. The lust-filled passion between them is powerful—and forbidden. But their erotic bond cannot be ignored, no matter the consequences.

INTERVIEW and giveaway: VOSS FOSTER

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Voss Foster, whose newest book Tartaros was released in January. Leave a comment for the chance to win a download of Tartaros.

Voss decided to use a pseudonym and I asked his reasons.

“Partly because I share a name with another author, which can end in a lawsuit, and partly because my name sounds rather similar to the name of yet another author that I didn’t want to be associated with (not naming names). Coming up with the name was easy. Voss was my grandma’s name when she died, and my mother’s maiden name, and Foster was my grandma’s maiden name. And, you know, it makes me sound like some character in a crime noir novel.”

When choosing titles, Voss tries to either make a play on words or use the name of something important in the story. For example, Tartaros was chosen because the name of the main character is Daniel Tartaros, but also because it’s a play on Tartarus, the ancient Greek pit of torture for nasty dead souls. Another book Rings of Treachery, which is currently with beta readers, is a play on words. The culture in the book is based on a complex code involving rings, but also like a suspicion, i.e., “Hmmm. This rings of treachery.”

Voss has been writing for a long time and, in fact, still has the first short story he wrote on a typewriter when he was in the first grade.

“Super Duck,” he told me. “I remember he used ‘duck tape’ to tie up the ‘bad guys.’ Then, for a while in middle school, I got into writing poetry. Really bad poetry. Cliches stacked on top of saccharine imagery and held together with teenage angst. But, around my junior year of high school (and I fully attribute this rediscovery of fiction writing to my English teacher at the time) I got back into real writing. My senior year, we all had to do a project–I wrote a novel. Not a good novel, since I wrote it under protest, but a novel. Then, the month after I graduated, I wrote Tartaros– NaNoWriMo that November and I was lost to the world of fiction.”

“What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?” I wondered.

“I’d say, and anyone that’s ever been in the same room with me while I write will back me up, it’s the moving. When I think, I move. I make faces, I copy my characters’ movements, I try to capture what’s going on. It helps me get things straight in my head. I remember once, writing with some other writerly friends, I got up and had to act out an entire battle scene, because I’d lost track of how many chakram my character had left to throw. So I counted while I acted.”

When he is preparing for a project, part of the prep work is putting together a playlist to listen to when he writes—the music ranges from anything from K-Pop Filk, Country to Death Metal, Symphonic Rock to Techno. If it has the right vibe, he throws it into the playlist.

“Of course, sometimes, if I’m really into something, I end up just listening to that instead,” he said. “The last novel I wrote was done half to the playlist I put together and half to K-Pop.”

“What group did you hang out with in high school?” I asked.

“I was a nerd (I know. Shocker). I was a band geek, and I was in Science Olympiad. Yep. I was also later informed that I was committing social suicide. I didn’t care. These were intelligent people with minds just as out there as mine. Plus, you know, when you spend days on end with people, you can’t help but form some bonds. High stress performance situations or competition situations. It happens. And it helped that a number of them all read the same things I did.”

He’s not that far out of high school himself, so keeping up with the YA market is not an issue for Voss. He still has friends in high school and a lot of his own reading is in the YA genre.

“Do you write in multiple genres or just one?” I asked. “If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?”

“I write under the whole blanket of speculative fiction. I can’t honestly be expected to choose just one, can I? Even if that’s what people expect, it’s just not going to happen. I’m very happy to write paranormal, fantasy, science-fiction, and horror. A few times, mostly on shorter works, I’ve strayed into (gasp) mainstream. But, if I was required, forever, to write just one genre, I’d pick YA. It’s the only way to really cheat–I can write in whatever genre I like under YA. I’m sneaky like that.”

When it comes to world building, most of his sci-fi world building comes in the social interactions. What are the conventions of the culture? Why did the culture evolve? How do they flirt or marry? Is there a religion? In fantasy, he does the same things, but he also draws maps, plans magic systems, and finds out where their technology level would fall in comparison to Earth.

“No matter what, I normally just type up and scribble down pages and pages of notes and drawings. And then I attempt to figure out where I put everything when it comes time for me to actually use it,” he admitted.

“Are you a pantser or a plotter?”

“I pantsed my first book. Then, the first time I read it, I figured out that I had to completely cut out half of it because it was completely pointless. So, from then on, I’ve always had at least some idea of what to do. It ranges from book to book. Sometimes, I fill out a form that details every single point you need to touch on in a plot, has it broken down into a formula. Other times, I go to the opposite end of the spectrum, just have a beginning, middle, and end. But, normally, I’m a moderate. I’ll just write out a couple pages of outline, mostly just to get the plot straight in my head. And I do stray from there, almost every time, but it makes the book better, I’ve found.”

I asked Voss what kind of mythical creature he would be interested in owning and he told me without hesitation, “A unicorn. Not even a question in my mind. I want a unicorn. A pretty unicorn with a long horn. And it would be like a giant lap dog. And I would love it pet it and squeeze it and call it George. I’m just not sure where to get unicorn chow. Anyone know what they eat? I’d be happy to find out.”

Voss has one group of friends that can tear him away from writing, editing, marketing, and submitting most of the time; however, apart from them, unless he completely burns out there’s always something going on in his head about his writing. However, when he is burned out, he sits around and plays what he called “stupid online games.” However, when he gets with that one particular group of friends, things can go anyway.

“I just, in about three days, shot a short film with them inspired by ‘Repo! The Genetic Opera’ and ‘The Devil’s Carnival.’ We watch movies, have game nights, sing. And they’re also my Rocky Horror crowd. I’m a part of the local cast for our Rocky Horror showcases,” he said.

“Do you have a favorite quote or saying?”

“I do. I actually keep a list of quotes, constantly growing. And I have two favorites. Why yes, I am cheating. How kind of you to notice. The first is from Walt Whitman: ‘I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.’ I first heard that watching ‘The Dead Poets’ Society’ in Junior English. I eventually looked up the full quote and fell in love. Now, the other one is from Marianne Williamson, but often gets wrongly attributed to Nelson Mandela: ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.’ That’s one I just came across in my meanderings and it teared me up a little. So it’s definitely going to stay as one of my favorites.”

About the Author: 4_9 Voss Foster Author PictureVoss Foster lives in the middle of the Eastern Washington Desert, where he writes speculative fiction from a single wide trailer. When he can be pried away from his keyboard, he can be found belly-dancing, cooking, singing, and practicing photography, though rarely all at the same time.
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4_9 Tartaros Cover ArtA demon hunter, Daniel Tartaros is sworn to slay the denizens of Hell and, for over a decade, he has. He’s kept the world, and his girlfriend, safe. But, one night, the demons cross the threshold to his home. His girlfriend is taken, possessed by a powerful demon. Too powerful for him.

But the horror increases when he finds out the truth: it’s not just a demon. Lilith, the Queen of Hell, has bound herself into a human body to be with him. But broken free and without the restraint of a human life, she still needs him, and plans to use all of her power to keep him. She’ll do what it takes to keep him, even if it means the end of life. With Earth hanging by spider’s silk, the tiniest ripple from either Daniel or Lilith could send it swinging into the fires of destruction.

INTERVIEW and Giveway: IAIN S. THOMAS

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Iain Thomas whose latest book Intentional Dissonance is available. Leave a comment and you will have a chance to win one of two ebook copies of Intentional Dissonance.

Iain is currently working on three different books: a revised version of his first book I Wrote This For You, a second book due the end of this year that’s still untitled, and How to Be Happy, which isn’t due until the start of 2014.

“I can’t seem to stop myself from writing it,” he admitted, “even though I shouldn’t even be thinking about it right now.”

“When did you first consider yourself a writer?” I asked.

“My first book, I Wrote This For You, has spent a year on the Amazon and iTunes poetry bestseller lists and frequently finds itself at #1, and I still don’t know if I’m actually a writer. I think when I’m writing, I’m a writer and when I stop, I become something else. I still have trouble introducing myself at a dinner table as a writer.”

He’s been writing since he started keeping a diary when he was around 13; he stared writing prose a couple of years later. He told me he’s always found writing to be cathartic—a way to get rid of whatever demons were in his head.

“They’ve always seemed easier to face and defeat when they’re put down on paper,” he said.

He’s written professionally since he was 19, mainly for the design industry.

Unlike many authors, neither plot nor characters comes first in Iain’s books—instead scenes and dialogue come to him. Moments within the book that could happen inspire him and then he builds the characters and plot to serve those moments.

“How do you develop your plot and characters?” I asked.

“All my characters are amalgamations of people I’ve encountered in my life and the plot is something that serves my own purpose, which is to create beautiful, surreal moments and environments that draw the reader in. I believe the most important elements of writing are having an original idea, the ability to tell the truth about what you’re saying and the desire not to waste the reader’s time.”

Iain usually comes up with his titles first, and then the book follows. Intentional Dissonance was a name that floated around in his head for a while. It described a feeling of being disconnected, of not wanting to play by the rules. It’s a cyclical book, much of it has to do with the repeating patterns we fall into as human beings. I Wrote This For You defined itself and How To Be Happy is doing the same thing.

I wondered, “What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?”

“I think the strangest thing I’ve ever done literary wise is the entire I Wrote This For You project. I wrote more than a thousand poems that all have titles that start with the word ‘The’ and every single one has the word ‘You’ in it. I think constructing your own rules around what you’re writing gives you something to play with and can lead to really creative, interesting solutions.”

Iain writes poetry and science fiction, but he believes that both fit only loosely into their respective genres. In fact, he tries to defy genre.

“Originality is important to me and I do my best to break literary conventions as much as possible to achieve that, with varying degrees of success,” he said. “I’d rather fail while attempting to be original than succeed at obeying a convention.”

He admits that I Wrote This for You was an incredibly bizarre literary debut. It was a real struggle for him to find a publisher who could see why it was as popular as it was and the potential behind it.

“I wrote I Wrote This For You under the pen name ‘pleasefindthis’ as I believed that every part of a story, including the name of the person writing the story, can be an entry point into that story. I chose the name because it invited people to find out more,” he told me. “A young girl discovered I Wrote This For You while she was undergoing treatment for a tumour in her brain and she wrote me a letter telling me how strong it made her feel. She wrote the words ‘I Wrote This For You’ on the paper bracelet the hospital put on her and sent a picture along with her mail. I don’t even know how I managed to respond to that. Another person wrote me a message saying that my words had inspired her to get off the streets as a prostitute and go back to studying. I still speak to her about once a year. She’s doing well.”

Iain believes that the more input you have, the more output you have. So he works in chaos, surrounded by comic books, antiques, paintings, old books and whatever else he’s picked up along the way. He also creates procedurally generated music to listen to while he works.

“I’ll load up a relaxation application on my iPad that plays the sound of the rain, load a YouTube video of someone whispering for 45 minutes, then load an ambient music album at the same time and have all three playing at once,” he explained. “It’s familiar yet new music every time I listen.”

Finally, I asked, “What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?”

“Writers write. Every word you write makes you a better writer, and there are a lot of bad words that you need to get through before you can get to the good ones.”

About the Author:2_20 IainThomas Iain S. Thomas is a new media artist and author. As an author, his most famous work is I Wrote This For You, which he writes under the pseudonym ‘pleasefindthis’ – a blog then book that’s been on both the Amazon and iTunes poetry bestseller lists since its launch in December 2011.

As a writer for the design and new media industry, he’s won numerous local and international awards for his work. Amongst other things, he created a never-ending sentence for a monument for South Africa’s Jazz Artists and recently collaborated with musical phenomena BT on the packaging design for his last album. He wrote his first book, Ignite, at the age of 23 for the Markham clothing company. It won the Grand Prix at the First Paper House Art of Design Awards and a gold individual craft award at the Loeries. He currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

Find the author online:
Twitter @iwrotethisforu

2_20 9781926760858medIt’s been 10 years since the world officially ended. In the last city on Earth, Jon Salt is addicted to Sadness, a drug that invokes its name, and obsessed with his lover, Michelle; both of which threaten to drive him insane.

Strange creatures and new technologies appeared in the last days of humanity and the widespread adoption of teleportation technology sundered the fabric of time and space, leaving a smattering of looping ghosts. It is a sad, monotone world, but the remaining populace is happy, thanks to the anti-depressants in the water supply.

The last government on Earth has taken a special interest in a gift that Jon possesses: the ability to make his thoughts real. Jon must rely on that gift and the help of a few unlikely friends to stay one step ahead of those who desperately want to use him for something far more sinister than even he could dream…