September 29, 2011
My dear friend Michelle Miles has a new release out today, ONE KNIGHT ONLY. I couldn’t wait to chat with her about it — and share it with you!
Devon Ellington: Tell us a little bit about how the book was inspired and developed.
Michelle Miles: It’s funny how this book came about, actually. I started it in 2005 as a straight historical romance (no paranormal elements). I always knew I wanted it to be set during a jousting tournament, so that part never really changed. My heroine was named Grace and she had a brother who, in the subplot, fell in love with her maid, Elyne. Grace’s romantic interest was a knight named Sir Drake, but the story never quite jelled. I stopped working on it for three years.
So in 2008, I picked up the story again but I actually started from scratch. Grace became Maggie Grace from present day and the brother was no longer in the story (poor guy got written out). Sir Drake became a minor character but the romantic subplot stayed—except this time Elyne was a faery princess and her love interest was a faery knight. My hero was now a Scottish knight with a gambling problem, Sir Finian. The story became historical with paranormal elements. I’d written the first three chapters…and then stopped again.
I got sidetracked with other projects and didn’t pick it up again until late 2010. I was now determined to finish the story that I’d started so long ago. I used elements from the original draft, just rewritten them to fit the current story. The setting at the tournament stayed the same but I’d cut a lot of the superfluous stuff at the beginning that no longer propelled the story forward.
My cast of characters now was a modern heroine who was a student of history (Maggie), a Scottish knight with a gambling problem (Sir Finian), and a faery princess with a bad attitude (Elyne). NOW I had a story!
DE: What kind of research did you need to do for the details of medieval Scotland?
MM: It’s actually set in northern England in a fictional town in the mid-1300s. 🙂 My Scottish knight/laird has gambled away his lands to the evil Earl of Litonshire. He has to win the tourney at Middleham to settle his debts and get back his lands free and clear.
I read a lot about jousting and tournaments. I have two books that were my go-to books for research which are The Medieval Tournament by R. Coltman Clephan and Knights at Tournament by Christopher Gravett. The latter is full of color and black and white illustrations on what tournaments looked like. They evolved from being practice for war to a more romantic idea of chivalry and love at court.
I searched for information on banquets and what they would have eaten, as well as dancing and other entertainment. Gambling was a big part of tournaments. I also had to do some research what types of games they would have played back then. Dice and cards were big (Hazard being the predecessor of today’s Craps).
My other two go-to books were Everyday Life in the Middle Ages by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Costume 1066-1990s by John Peacock.
DE: How does Maggie like living what she’s only read about/studied?
MM: It’s very exciting for her, especially because she gets to meet her idol, Sir Derron. She loves the sights and sounds of tournament and constantly wishes she has a way to record everything while she’s there. She’s a modern woman, though, and tends to forget how dangerous life in the Middle Ages can be for a single woman. She tends to get herself into a lot of trouble, especially because she wants to help everyone she meets. She takes an interest in Lord Litonshire’s sister and takes it as her personal mission to help her out of a bad situation.
DE: Tell us about the “snarky faery princess”. She sounds like lots of fun, too.
MM: I love Elyne! She is one of my favorite characters. She and Finn have a love-hate relationship. She thinks he murdered her love, Sir Derron. She doesn’t realize he was set up and she doesn’t believe him when he tells her otherwise. As a Fae, she’s quite old and has been around for a long time, watching the human race. She doesn’t much care for them, but as she gets to know Maggie, she befriends her and helps her out of tough situations, breaking strict Fae law and angering her mother, Queen Maeve. She also pines for Sir Derron, who doesn’t even know she’s alive.
I’m planning a second book that features Derron and Elyne. I’ve already plotted it and written the first 10,000 words so I hope to have it drafted soon.
DE: What else do you have coming out and are working on?
MM: I’m currently working on edits for Phoenix Fire, the story about a gladitrix and her assassin lover, which will be released with DCL Publications before the end of the year. I’ve just finished drafting a futuristic erotic which is the first of three books. I hope to have it polished and submitted within the next two to three weeks. I’m also working on the second Knight book. So I have a lot going on! 🙂
Thanks so much for having me!
A snarky Faery princess, a Scottish knight with a gambling problem, and a murderous earl all add up to one thing: Trouble. Maggie’s medieval education never prepared her for life in the Middle Ages!
Do-gooder Maggie Chase throws her thesis out the window when she wakes up in the arms of a hot Scottish knight. When she realizes she’s somehow ended up back in time, she embraces the persona of Lady Margaret. But she may be in over her head when she realizes she has to keep the sexy knight alive during a jousting tournament in order to get back to her own time.
Sir Finian “Finn” McCullough is a gambling man and owes a very large debt to an evil earl who is after his family estate. When the beautiful and outgoing Maggie arrives in his bed, he can’t remember tupping her the night before and thinks she’s a spy for one of his neighboring clans. He intends to find her kinsman and return her safely but he can’t resist her charms, her smart mouth or her sex appeal. Instead he keeps her close, taking her with him to an important jousting tournament—one he has to win or lose his castle forever.
Michelle Miles found her love of writing buried in the fantasy books of Patricia A. McKillip and the beautiful romances of Victoria Holt. It wasn’t until her high school years she decided to take up the pen and try her hand at writing. She created faraway lands, space adventures, and even princesses who just wanted to be saved. Never learning to plot, she always believed that jumping in feet first was the way to go and has since become a self-proclaimed Pantser, writing contemporary, paranormal and fantasy romance.
A Native Texan, she loves hockey, football, baseball, drinking coffee, cross-stitching, and shopping for shoes and Coach handbags. Visit her website at http://www.michellemiles.net to sign up for her monthly newsletter and read her daily blog, Ye Olde Inkwell.
September 27, 2011
Posted by devonellington under Uncategorized
| Tags: FRIGHTLINER
, Karina Fabian
, LIVE AND LET FLY
, MIND OVER MIND
, MOTHER GOOSE IS DEAD
, MuseItUp Publishing
, Neeta Lyffe
, NEETAY LYFFE ZOMBIE EXTERMINATOR
, Rescue Sisters
Karina Fabian and I first met at the Muse Online Conference, the first year I started teaching there. That’s about six or seven years ago. We take each other’s classes whenever possible, and support each other’s work. She’s a wonderful writer, teacher, and friend.
With MIND OVER MIND, she goes into a new and exciting direction, and she was kind enough to share some of the process with us.
Devon Ellington: What was the spark of inspiration for MIND OVER MIND?
Karina Fabian: Which version? This one has gone through so many revisions and major rewrites, it’s not the same book I thought up in high school and wrote in college. But let’s go to the very beginning (’cause I told the other stories on my virtual book tour earlier this month.)
I adored the Wrinkle in Time series and especially Charles Wallace, but Madeleine L’Engle never wrote about him as a grownup, except for a one-liner to say he was on a secret mission somewhere. So I made up my own adventures for him. One, imagined while I was in Junior ROTC camp, was about him helping an alien world fight a war and feeling very conflicted about it. I remember telling this story to a guy friend of mine late one night in the compound because the officers came to roust us back to our tents. I had really been enjoying telling the story, and it must have shown because this Army Major (?) exclaimed, “If I saw your face in the moonlight, I’d want to hang out here all night, too!”
Obviously, Deryl bears no resemblance to Charles Wallace, but I think I still get that look on my face when I talk about my stories–at least, if the reaction of my husband is any indication.
DE: When in the process did you know it needed to be a trilogy?
KF: The last major rewrite. Deryl had too many problems to overcome to make it a single book, and then I had some awesome ideas for Tasmae. You think Deryl goes nuts? Just wait for Mind Over Psyche. Tasmae is freeeeeaky! So, the last book finally resolves the war between the worlds.
DE: Did you have to do particular research for the book? Did you discover anything surprising that changed the trajectory of the book?
KF: I did some research on neurolinguistic programming, which is a very interesting field of psychology. I also spent a terrific afternoon in college working out the orbits of the two planets with my astronomy professor. I’m not sure the research changed the trajectory so much as when I decided to change the book, the research (which I’d done for a class in college a decade earlier) became important for the story.
DE: Did it feel strange to be in a completely different world than Vern’s? (Note: Vern the Dragon PI is one of the first characters of Karina’s with whom I fell in love).
KF: It is, but I love the variety. The DragonEye stories are snarky and sometimes serious, but always amusing. Sometimes, even slapstick. I love writing Vern because of his superior, smug way of looking at things. He is an immortal dragon, after all. (Incidentally, he compliments you on your excellent taste.)
With the characters in the Mind Over, I am human. They don’t laugh at danger the way Vern can. When Deryl acts snarky and superior, it’s usually in defensiveness. It’s also a very freaky experience to really get into the mind of someone who by all rights is insane. I do that once a book. It’s like LSD without the flashbacks and illegality.
KF: What are some of the other projects on your plate right now?
KF: For Vern lovers! Live and Let Fly comes out April 2012 from MuseItUp. Vern and Sister Grace are sent on a super-spy adventure to prevent a Norse goddess from destroying our world. Looks like Vern has a steady publishing home now, so Gapman will be the next one. That’s a superhero spoof.
Also, Mother Goose is Dead is out from Damnation Books. Vern wrote an article in it about the common fairy-tale-based scams. Get it and get smart–don’t fall prey to a Faerie scam!
I’m editing DISCOVERY, my first Rescue Sisters novel. Three nuns from the Order of Our Lady of the Rescue join a group of researchers and asteroid miners to retrieve a crashed alien ship. They find a device that can diagnose the soul, and the mission–and their lives–are endangered because not everyone can handle that discovery.
After that, I have to finish Neeta Lyffe II: I Left My Brains in San Francisco. It’s 80 percent done. I also need to write Mind Over All, the last in the Mind Over trilogy. (Book Two is at DragonMoon right now.)
In the hopper of my mind is another trilogy, Damsels and Knights, which involves Capt. Michael Santry, chief of the Los Lagos police and Vern’s least favorite person; some children’s short stories about a mouse moving into a church; the Witch Androvitch stories; and a space opera when Rob (my husband) and I can sit down and work out a plot. It’s been a long time since we collaborated on a story. Speaking of collaboration: I’m working on another story with Colleen Drippe, about a priest who gets transported to the fairy realm and turned into a dragon.
I also have two book tours coming up for FRIGHTLINER and NEETA LYFFE, ZOMBIE EXTERMINATOR, a DragonEye PI serial story for Christmas, and another for the new year.
DE: I am, by turns, officially exhausted and exhilarated by all that! I remember Neeta very well — so glad she found a home! I’m looking forward to ALL of these books — and I hope you’ll stop by here as each releases!
MIND OVER MIND:
: Deryl Stephen’s uncontrollable telepathic abilities have landed him in a mental health institution, where no one believes in his powers.
But when Joshua Lawson, a student of neuro linguistic programming, takes part in a summer internship, he takes the unique step of accepting Deryl’s reality and teaches him to work with it. As Deryl learns control, he finds his next challenge is to face the aliens who have been contacting him psychically for years—aliens who would use him to further their cause in an interplanetary war.
Ydrel threw himself into wakefulness with such force that he sat up in bed. Still, the nightmare images clung to his mind: the beat of a hundred hearts, the smell of sweat and fear. He clutched his stomach and fought the urge to scream.
A hundred bodies crowded around him, crushing him against the splintered wood of the boxcar.
No, this isn’t real!
No room to move. No air to breathe. Suffocating. Drowning.
No, this isn’t me!
Confusion and fear. Fear the trip would never end. Terror of what waited at its completion.
NO! These aren’t MY memories!!
Ydrel threw up shaky mental barriers. The visions faded, just slightly. He forced his eyes open, drinking in reassurance from familiar objects.
He sat in bed, an oversized twin, backed up against pillows rather than splintered wood. Pre-dawn light shone softly through the blinds. On the nightstand, Descartes regarded him with one button eye. The only thing left from before his mother died, he’d slept with that bear until an orderly commented on his “abnormal attachment.” Since then it had stood watch over him instead, braced against the lamp. Even now, without any orderlies around, Ydrel resisted the urge to clutch it close to his chest, but he reached out to touch one tattered foot.
On the shelf beside the window sat a portable boom box, a gift from his first birthday here—his thirteenth. Five years ago, today. The maintenance man had disabled the volume control after Ydrel played it too loudly. Thereafter, he’d found other ways to block out the moans and occasional screams that penetrated the closed door. Happy birthday.
The stereo held up several books. He was studying them in case it called. He both dreaded and longed for the calls. Each episode only gave them more reason to keep him here, yet there was something as familiar and comforting about it as his old bear.
He turned his gaze to the far wall and the framed pictures of a nebula and the solar system by his half-empty closet. On his sixteenth birthday, he’d been allowed to decorate his room and he’d chosen those posters and a mild blue paint to replace the still–lifes and the institutional burgundy-and-pink color scheme. While it had been a relief to his eyes, it was also a constant reminder that they never intended for him to leave.
This is my room, he thought. In the asylum. Even after five years, he’d never call it home. He’d never give Malachai the satisfaction.
Calmer now, his mental barriers in place, Ydrel allowed himself to examine the vision that awakened him. Hundreds of bodies packed into a train car not suited for twenty. Most had traveling clothes, but had shed them against the heat. No room to move. The air was stifling and stale. No one knew where they were going. Some suspected, but said nothing. The destination was worse than the trip.
Ydrel sighed. Isaac was on the train to Dachau again.
Ydrel threw off the covers and dressed quickly in a blue t-shirt and jeans, socks and generic sneakers. Already Isaac’s projected fear was breaking down his mental defenses; Ydrel’s fingers trembled as he fumbled with the laces.
Once out in the corridor, he hastened to the old man’s room, forcing himself to keep his pace smooth, his face composed. Someone would stop him if he hurried or looked distressed, and any delay would be unbearable. As he walked he got into character. His stride lengthened; his face hardened. He held his hands relaxed but ready by his hips. When he got to Isaac’s door, he cast a wary look down the hall, then slipped in.
The old man lay on a standard hospital bed, his wide, wild eyes staring at the ceiling but focused on his inner horrors. His hands fluttered helplessly on the thin coverlet. He labored for each ragged breath.
Ydrel sat beside him and composed his own vision.
The train stops so suddenly that people would have been thrown down if they hadn’t been so tightly packed in. The sound of gunfire and shouts in German. The boxcar door opens with a rusty screech. Someone yells in Yiddish, then German: “Out! Now! Quickly, to the woods—to the south!” Relief from the press of bodies, then a new pressure as the flow of people pushes him through the door. Someone grabs his arm—
Ydrel grabbed Isaac by the arm as he pushed the new vision into the old man’s mind.
Isaac blinked, twisted toward Ydrel, then smiled, his eyes bright with tears. “Gideon! Old friend. Thank God!”
Mind Over Mind Materials
Title: Mind Over Mind
Author: Karina Fabian
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Over-Karina-L-Fabian/dp/1897942362
Kindle Link: http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Over-ebook/dp/B005D94LI0
: Unlike her characters, Karina Fabian lives a comfortably ordinary life. Wife to Air Force Colonel Robert Fabian and mother of four, her adventures usually involve packing and moving, attending conventions, or giving writing and marketing advice in one of her many workshops. She’s always had an overactive imagination, however, and started writing in order to quell the voices in her head–characters who insisted on living lives in her mind and telling her their stories. Winner of the 2010 INDIE award, winner and finalist for the EPPIE and finalist for the Global e-book awards, she’s glad people enjoy reading the tales her characters tell.
Google +: https://plus.google.com/103660024891826015212
September 20, 2011
Welcome to Pauline Baird Jones, a wonderfully diverse writer!
Annabel Aidan: You’ve got a wonderful range of projects, from science fiction to action adventure to World War II to Steampunk. How do you choose your projects, or do they choose you?
Pauline Baird Jones: I will admit to committing random acts of writing, ruthless genre mashing, and recklessly crossing genre lines whenever I want. It caused me no end of problems in my early days, because back then NY publishers did not like this. I did make an effort to conform when I had a NY agent for a couple of years, but when push came to shove (obviously I have no problem with clichés) I realized that I had to follow the muse, not publisher guidelines. My agent and I parted amicably and I have not looked back (not that I can look back while relentlessly following my wayward muse). So I rather think the answer is I’m compelled to choose my projects, rather than choosing them. I will confess that I very much enjoy the wild ride with my muse.
AA: Why do you think so many of us are drawn to Steampunk, both as readers and writers?
PBJ: I think readers and authors are drawn to steampunk for a variety of (sometimes personal) reasons. For me, it was the quirky factor. I just like quirky and quirky with goggles, airships, automatons, parasols and corsets? What’s not to love about that?
For others, it is a chance to make social commentary or explore ideas in a milieu that is very free flowing right now. Consider that steampunk is a genre that came FROM readers and authors, rather than being driven BY publishers, so it has few boundaries and no rules (which might also explain why I love it, lol).
Interesting side note: There are some that are think: corsets? Are you kidding? Didn’t we free ourselves from them last century? I asked a gal at AetherFest about this topic and she told me that a properly constructed corset is quite comfortable (if not laced too tight) and provides nice back support. Her suggestion? Try it, you might like it.
AA: What was the inspiration for STEAMROLLED?
PBJ: When I finished my novella, TANGLED IN TIME, the working title was STEAMED, but there were two novels of that title released or in process of releasing. I couldn’t think of another title, so I had a contest for a new title. My husband entered (even though he didn’t want the prize which was some steampunk jewelry) and one of the titles he suggested was STEAMROLLED. My editor liked TANGLED IN TIME better, but I knew that the next novel would be STEAMROLLED, because that is what was going to happen to my characters. And they were. Totally. (grin)
AA: On your site, you say, “short stories are a good way to get through rough times”. Can you expand on that a bit?
When life hits you upside the head, it can eat up your writing time, because family has to come first. In the last eight years, life has hit a lot. When sitting in a hospital or doctor’s waiting room, I can’t write (even with cool tech), but I can think. I plotted several of my short stories while waiting. Not only was it a good way to take a break from tough times, but when I did get a couple of minutes to write, short stories let me feel a sense of completion. I was also able to use them to keep my readers remembering I existed, even though I didn’t have a novel releasing as fast as I would have liked.
Short stories also let you explore small, side stories with support characters from larger works. They let readers get a feel for your style in smaller (and often less expensive) bites. On my website, I try to highlight how and where and if my short stories connect to my novels, so readers can find them if they want to. ☺
AA: Some of your titles talk about adapting novel into film. As a playwright, I find I often do it the other way around. I worked on Broadway and in film and television for years. Although I tend to write/sell more plays than screenplays, I still find I sometimes work an early draft in script format first, and then adapt back into novel format, instead of the other way around, because I hear the piece in terms of dialogue and character first. Can you talk a bit about adaptation?
PBJ: When I was writing scripts, I used to switch back and forth between novel and script format, depending on how I was stuck. Like you, I like scripts when focusing on dialogue and action, then would shift to novel format to get into my characters’ heads. This was particularly helpful when I was writing DO WAH DIDDY DIE because Luci, my main character, was a bit crazy and being inside her head, trying to figure out what she’d do, made ME crazy.
I am a great proponent of doing what works for you when trying to plot/write a novel. (wry grin)
But you asked me to talk about adapting. I wrote my handbook ADAPTING YOUR NOVEL FOR FILM, because—while there are books out there about adapting novels for film—there weren’t any about how to adapt your OWN novel for film. Why does that matter?
Because it is very hard to see your own novel with enough clarity to adapt it to a script. A script is NOT your novel in script format. It is a new incarnation of your novel story. As I’m sure you’ve discovered, not all novels, or stories, lend themselves to script adaptation. So in my short manual, I focus on how you can find your script story in the mass of a novel. (One thing that really surprised me was to learn that short stories often adapt better than novels.)
On my website, I have a couple of free articles on this topic:
Thank you so much for having me visit your blog, Annabel! You ask fun and thought-provoking questions. ☺
Excerpt from STEAMROLLED:
She was tall and moved easily, despite the heavy boots and enveloping coat. There was air moving from somewhere, he decided. She lacked forward momentum sufficient to make her coat billow that much, no matter how confident her stride. As the light built, puffs of cool steam drifted up out of the vents, appearing to wrap around her, even as she blew through them, forcing them to shift and dance on passing air currents. While he appreciated the spectacle, he found the reasons for it obscure, but then he had limited experience with women, except his sister, who even he knew wasn’t a typical female.
Beneath the coat she wore what appeared to be a red and black striped corset over some sort of white tank top and cargo pants that hung low on her hips and had many pockets. The pants were baggy and should have increased her rustic factor. They did not. Perhaps it was the corset that offset the rustic. His lack of people knowledge quadrupled where women were concerned. She stopped, upping her level of dance involvement with the music by turning in a circle, her hips kicking from side to side, her coat flapping back to give tantalizing glimpses of a female form. Increased light glanced off a section of her skin mid-body that appeared to be bare below the cinched in corset, and light reflected off something in that region. Her singing increased in volume, as well, though not in tonal accuracy. If anything, the volume decreased tonal quality.
She’s quite awful. The nanites seemed delighted, rather than the converse.
The ambient temperature had not changed, but it felt as if his body temperature increased. His casual tee shirt tightened around his neck—a physical impossibility confirmed by a tug at the soft fabric.
There is a physiological shift in progress, Wynken confirmed. Reason for shift unclear.
It wasn’t need-to-know, so Robert ignored the semi-question, hoping the reason didn’t become clear to them anytime soon.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/steamrolled-pauline-baird-jones/1100450293?ean=9781603184076&itm=1&usri=pauline%2bbaird%2bjones
All Romance eBooks: http://www.omnilit.com/product-steamrolled-536606-141.html
Fictionwise (multiformat): http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b122468/Steamrolled/Pauline-Baird-Jones/?si=0
My website: http://www.paulinebjones.com/
Bio: Pauline Baird Jones is the award-winning author of eleven novels of science fiction romance, action-adventure, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery. Her latest release is a steampunk/science fiction romance called Steamrolled. She’s written two non-fiction books, Adapting Your Novel for Film and Made-up Mayhem, and she co-wrote Managing Your Book Writing Business with Jamie Engle. Her seventh novel, Out of Time, an action-adventure romance set in World War II, is an EPPIE 2007 winner. Her eighth novel, The Key won an Independent Book Award Bronze Medal (IPPY) for 2008 and is a 2007 Dream Realm Awards Winner. Girl Gone Nova, her ninth novel, won the EPIC Book Award, a Single Titles Reviewer’s Choice award and was nominated for a Romantic Times Best Books award. She also has short stories in several anthologies. Originally from Wyoming, she and her family moved from New Orleans to Texas before Katrina.
September 12, 2011
Please give a warm welcome to today’s guest, Jane Toombs, and her new book, THE TURQUOISE DRAGON
On the dragon planet of Cozz, a female blue dragon stares in consternation at the third and last egg she’s laid–it’s not blue like as she is, but turquoise, which will male her an outcast. She would never destroy one of her eggs, so she’s doomed. Unless…
On Earth, pre-teen girl searching for wild strawberries started to find a turquoise egg so large she can’t imagine what could have laid it. Maybe she’ll find out if she takes it home, keeps it warm and it hatches. What happens changes her entire life and that of her older best girl friend in ways they never dreamed were possible…
Jane was kind enough to answer some questions:
Annabel Aidan: As someone who grew up reading and loving gothic novels, I was excited to see them in your bio. What draws you to the genre? Do you think “gothic” is the foundation for the urban fantasy novels that are so popular now?
Jane Toombs: The first book I sold was Tule Witch, a contemporary gothic romance to Avon in 1973. This was the heyday of the sweet gothics, which could be
very sensual as long as there was no consummated sex. Since I’ve always loved paranormal the book was full of it, but Avon didn’t seem to mind. They bought my second gothic, Point Of Lost Souls, as well, also loaded with paranormal elements. In fact I every one of the sweet gothics I or, rather, my agent sold in the early days to NY pubs were all paranormal.
I also preferred to read gothics with some type of paranormal, if only a
suggestion. So I believe it’s the paranormal element that drew me to gothics.
Oddly enough, I don’t care much for urban fantasy because , while paranormal, it’s
not ”gothic” enough. But that’s not to say it doesn’t derive from old gothics. Of
course, neither gothics nor urban fantasy are “sweet” anymore, but that’s not a
problem for me because when historicals came along, kicking and screaming . I
was dragged into learning how to write sexy books.
AA: How did you develop your pseudonyms?
JT: I never developed any because I always wanted to write under my own name. A Berkley editor decided my name was “too depressing”’ to be on a historical romance, so she named me Diana Stuart. Since Ann Stuart (which wasn’t her real name either) and I had the same agent, and both live in NY state. you have no idea what problems that caused. We got so we’d simply ship the wrong box of books or forward letters to the right person.. Harlequin /Silhouette picked up that pseudonym when I started to sell to them. Only when their Shadows line debuted did they let me use my own because “it fits the line.” They let me keep using my own name even after the line cratered .and I began writing for Special Edition. Kensington was another publisher who decided I should change my name when I wrote in different genres, so I briefly became Jane Anderson and Ellen Jamison for them. I hated doing that, but at least they let me choose the name. Once I switched to writing for epubs, no one ever asked me to change my name.
AA: What was the spark of inspiration for THE TURQUOISE DRAGON?
JT: Every year Devine Destinies puts out a series of Christmas books with a zodiac or birthstone theme related to that holiday. My birthday is in late December, so I chose turquoise as the gem,. But when I began writing the synopsis, it refused to take on a Christmas theme and instead of an adult romance, became a YA book. I’m a plotter, so I write with a synopsis, though I don’t stick strictly to it. Anyway, I realized that I wasn’t going to be including a Christmas theme at all. The publisher wanted the book anyway , even if it couldn’t be included in the series. But as far as an inspiration for the book, I have no idea why what I was writing suddenly decided it was an YA. .
AA: Do you have a regular writing routine? Will you share it?
JT: I don’t have any regular routine. I write when I have time. Sometimes it’s mornings, sometimes afternoons, sometimes evenings. . Often it’s bits and pieces of writing at al of those times.
AA: Do you ever have days when you’re stuck? If so, how do you get past it?
JT: I have days when I don’t feel like writing, but after I pull up the story and type in a sentence or two, I’m off and running. Often I have to go back and delete those first sentences, but they do get me started., My feeling about this is that if I gave into all the times I don’t feel like writing, I’d never finish a story. Which has something to do with why I made a New Year’s Resolution in 2009 that I would not allow myself to plan out any more series until after I finished the first story in all the series I already have waiting to be written. Surprise! Once I sold the first one in the first series I began, the epub waited the other two stories right away. (Darkness Of Dragons from Devine Destinies) Luckily it was only a trilogy. Once those were done, I finished the first book in another series that was picked up right away, so I had to write the second. Both those are out now–Dangerous Darkness with Shadow On The Floor and Watcher At The Door from Red Rose Publishing and I’m writing the third, Terror From Before now. One more book after that–Stranger On The Shore. I also finished the first book in a third series, Dagon House Ghosts– Taken In at Champagne Books,. It’s now being edited, so that means I’ll have to begin the second, Where There’s Smoke, as soon as I finish the third in the other series. So in the number of books sold, that resolution is paying off, but also keeping me busier than I like. I haven’t had time to start any other first book in my other five planned series. Never realized publishers were so crazy about series.
The truth is I simply don’t allow myself to become stuck because I try not to procrastinate. I’d far rather have to delete a number of written pages than dither because I didn’t know what came next. Sure, forcing my self to sit down and write does often result in those deletions, but it does get me past “stuck.” I’ve decided it does this because the process of writing something that may be wrong, triggers my mind into the realization of what would be right.
Jane Toombs, born in California, raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, has
returned “home” to live in the beautiful Upper Peninsula on the shore of Lake Superior– with the Viking from her past and their calico grandcat Kinko. Jane has five
children, two stepchildren, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
She’s the author of over eighty published books, both in paper and electronic. These include the various romance genres–gothic, suspense, contemporary, historical, Regency and paranormal–as well as other genres such as mystery, fantasy and horror. Her awards include a 1995 Bookrak Award for best-selling series book (The Abandoned Bride), a 1998 Prism Award for best dark paranormal (Lover’s Moon) and a 2003 EPIC Award for best non-fiction.(Becoming Your Own Critique Partner, co-authored with Janet Lane Walters). Other EPIC awards include a 2003 award for Best Anthology: Shifters (With three other authors. My story was “Return to Deville’s Crossing”.)
Jane is a member of a closed twelve author group of authors designed to promote each each called Jewels Of The Quill, where she’s Dame Turquoise and has her own page at the site: http://www.jewelsofthequill.com . This group has won many awards: In 2006, Best Anthology: Tales From the Treasure Trove Vol. I, a Jewels of The Quill anthology with multiple authors. (My story, “The Turquoise Mask”.) And again in 2008 the JOTQ won Best Anthology with Tales From The Treasure Trove Vol.III (My story, “The Turquoise Talisman”) and we won Best Anthology once more in 2010 with A Valentine’s Day Anthology, Magical Kisses. (My story, “The Third Kiss”).
Because Jane wrote for Harlequin for many years and they sell foreign rights, she has books published in many foreign countries in their languages.Besides Harlequin, she wrote for many other New York publishers in the past, but now is concentrating on writing only for electronic publishing companies, She thinks she may retire once she reaches one hundred published books–then again, maybe not…
September 6, 2011
A Biblio Paradise is launching a new season, and my fellow Champagne author Ute Carbone is our first guest! Please give her a warm welcome, along with her book, A BLUEBERRY TRUTH.
Annabel Aidan: What triggered the move from poetry to novels? Do you still write poetry? Poetry requires such spare and specific language. Was opening out into prose a challenge?
Ute Carbone: The switch was something that just kind of happened. I had been writing poems for a while and I got to a plateau. I wanted to deepen my poetry and make it work better, but I couldn’t find the way to do it. I had talked to my good friend and fellow poet Lana Ayers and she suggested we take a workshop with another area poet, Kate Gleason. Kate is a terrific poet and a great teacher. Her workshop “writing from the inner voice” is based on workshops created in Amherst, Mass. by Pat Schneider. They’re all about writing from what’s inside of you, opening the faucets wide in the first draft. We would write using paper and pen and then read what we’d written, looking for the “good stuff,” the gems that come out in first writing. The method did help my poetry, but an interesting thing happened. I started writing stories. I began with flash fiction. Over time, the stories got longer and longer until, one day, I found myself writing a novel. I loved the method so much that I started a similar workshop with Lana!
I do occasionally still wax poetic. It’s a different kind of writing though, and most of my energy goes towards prose these days. I love creating worlds and telling stories. In a work in progress that I’m now polishing, the main character is a singer-songwriter. I wrote a couple of her songs. It was kind of fun, getting back into it.
You’re right about poetry being spare and specific. Blueberry Truth is around 60,000 words, P-town runs about 70,000. In novel-writing terms, those are relatively short books. Lots of novelists will write somewhere around 150.000 words in an early draft and then pare the story down to 100,000 or so. I find I often do the opposite, I’ll have to add things on rewrite because the prose is a bit spare.
But poetry has also been a great training ground for prose. Poets pay a lot of attention to voice, to how words ‘sound together’ on the page. I try to use that in my prose. And the language of poetry, because it is spare, needs to be precise. Every word counts. I try to carry that specificity into my prose. Geranium, for example, paints a more precise picture than flower.
AA: I love the title of your upcoming book from Champagne, THE P-TOWN QUEEN. Is it set in Provincetown? As someone who recently moved to Cape Cod, and spent many a summer in P-town in the late 1960s, the title alone captures my attention for the book.
UC: Thanks! P-town is a romantic comedy and kind of a romp. It was a lot of fun to write. And it is set in Provincetown. The Cape is one of my favorite places. I imagine it’s a wonderful place to live and a terrific place to write. I live about three hours away in Southern New Hampshire and my husband and I visit as often as we can manage. We usually go to the outer cape and have spent lots of time in Provincetown.
Provincetown is a great mix. There is a vibrant arts community, an open and equally vibrant gay community, lots of tourists, and a fishing community that tends to be traditional in its values and very proud of its Portuguese heritage. All on a tiny fist of land surrounded on three sides by water.
AA: BLUEBERRY TRUTH is set in Albany, NY. What about Albany, specifically, made it the perfect setting for the book?
UC: Hmm, good question. The short answer is that I lived and worked in the Albany area when I was in my twenties. I was a teacher and the school at which the main character, Beanie, teaches is loosely based on the place where I used to teach. So, Albany seemed like a natural.
I’ve read some of your blogs on the importance of setting and like you, I like having a place where I’m comfortable with the geography. Places have a kind of ‘feel’ to them that I think you have to experience firsthand. For this reason, all my books tend to be set in the northeast. It’s where I live and where I’m ‘comfortable’. That said, I have an idea for a book that would be set, at least for a part of it, in Afghanistan. I’ve been reluctant to follow that idea because I’ve never been there, but maybe it would be a challenge worth taking…
AA: Beanie’s playlist (on your book’s Facebook page) is fascinating –Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Dave Matthews. Do you usually use music when you write? Do the music choices evolve out of the writing process? Do you create a playlist before you write, and, if so, how do you choose what goes on it?
UC: I’m glad you asked about the playlist! Music and writing have always been connected for me. My love of poetry grew out of song. I spent my teens listening to songwriters like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell.
These days, I’m a huge Petty and Springsteen fan! My iPod is one of my prize possessions. I listen while driving and while walking and while doing chores. I don’t usually listen while writing, because I can get too caught up in the music and so it becomes a distraction rather than an asset .
Like most writers, I spend a lot of time “noodling,“ that is thinking about the next scene- what my characters are likely to do, what will happen, how things will be resolved, etc. I find that music helps to me to find my way into the tone and feeling of the book.
I have a playlist for nearly all my books, though I haven’t ever started with songs. I usually get a ways into a project before I start thinking about a list. The choices are very intuitive, they just ‘feel’ like they belong to the book. Often, the lyrics will in some way match the thoughts and feelings of the main characters. I will sometimes add or subtract songs as the characters undergo changes.
I read on Twitter where someone was creating stories based on what was playing on their iPod. That sounds fascinating to me, maybe I’ll try that at some point.
AA: What drives you to keep writing?
UC: I love words, I love the sound of them, the way they fall together on the page.
I was a head-in-the-clouds kind of kid so dreaming up worlds and characters suits me well. Creating characters is a kind of magic. After a while, they take on a life of their own. It’s like hanging out with a whole bunch of imaginary friends. And really, how many adults get to have imaginary friends? ☺
I shouldn’t have slept on the floor. I’ve got a perfectly good bed to sleep
in after all. But I couldn’t stay there. Not alone. Not after the fight I had
with Mac. It’s not as though we haven’t fought before. You don’t go
through a bunch of years dating and eight years of marriage without a few
skirmishes. But he’s never walked out before. He’s never opted to sleep on
the couch before.
He’s wrong about Blue. She needs a place to stay. I’ve promised to keep
her safe. She’s had enough of broken promises. I don’t plan on breaking
this one. I have to get Mac to change his mind. He’s not some cold-hearted
beast who won’t see the rightness of this. When I go down to find him, he’s
Blue wanders into the kitchen while I’m making coffee.
“Hey sleepyhead, what kind of cereal do you like?”
She doesn’t answer me right away. The wariness that had disappeared
yesterday is back and creates a wall between us.
“We not going to Florida?”
I set a bowl of cereal in front of her. “No, Blue. We’re not going to
“You say you help me out. You lie.”
“Florida’s a big place, Blue. I told you that. We can’t just go to Florida.”
“We can’t. We can’t. We can’t.”
I pour milk into the cereal. She stares at it for a minute, then walks
away. I walk after her to find her sitting desolate on the piano stool.
“Right now, we need to get to school.” I sound more like her teacher
than someone who might care for her.
“No. I’m going to find my ma. If you don’t help, I go by my own self.”
She crosses her arms and turns her back to me.
“It’s not that easy.” I’m ready to detail how impossible, to say we may
never find her.
Blue reaches into her pocket and pulls out a battered postcard. It has
been torn and taped back together. The ends are dog-eared from the
pocket. On it is a picture of a cheap-looking motel made of pink cinder
blocks. The sign in front of the motel says Flamingo Motor Lodge. On the
back, girlish handwriting tells Blue to be a good girl. The “o’s” in “love”
and “Mom” are big and heart shaped. The postmark is February
something, Dunedin, Florida. “That where Ma is.”
I hand the card back to her. She folds it into her pocket with the care
you’d give something breakable.
“We can’t go down there. The card came months ago. It’s a motel.
People don’t stay in motels for long.”
“You ain’t going to help. You lie. You fucking lie all the time.” She gets
up and knocks the piano bench over.The top flies open and sheet music is
spewed onto the floor. “Fuck you.”
I gather her up, hurt back and all, and hold her close.
“Fuck you.” She sobs into my robe. We sit on the floor, rocking and
Ute began her writing life as a poet and has had a number of poems published in small press magazines and anthologies. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in such publications as Comstock Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, and
Bellowing Ark. She taught first-draft writing workshops for about twelve years and keeps a fan page based on the workshops at:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wildwords/191658074009. She has a short story due out in the “Words on Fire Anthology” by Nemesis Publishing, later this year. Blueberry Truth is her first novel. A second book, a romantic comedy called The P-town Queen, will be released by Champagne Press next June.
Ute was born in Germany and grew up in upstate New York. She and her husband now reside in Nashua, NH. They have two grown sons. Ute enjoys hiking, skiing, and generally anything that involves being outside. She loves the theatre and attends as regularly as time and money will allow. She’s a bibliophile who will read just about anything, though she loves novels best.
You can contact Ute at her website: http://UteCarbone.com