Interview With Ace Parks

I sat down with Ace Parks to writing, passion and her book, Tiger’s Eye

 

When did you realize or decide you wanted to be a writer?

It happened when I was 12 or 13; I finished reading Demon in My View by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and I guess I wasn’t ready to let go of the characters… So I wrote my own version of their story. I only recently realized my journey began in fanfiction which is amusing, but I quickly progressed into writing my own novels.

What has been your best experience as an author so far?

To be honest, I cringe at the thought now, but after I finished my first draft of my first novel, age… 14? I printed it off… and let people read it.

I shudder to think, the quality of it… Looking at it years later, I can’t believe I ever let another living being lay eyes on it – including my English teacher!

The “best experience” part I suppose is that, essentially, everyone (minus the English teacher) raved about it – they loved it. Horrifying to think, but if my writing was loveable then, then I dare say that my writing now must be hella good. It was so encouraging that these people (not all of them were even friends, these were curious ‘acquaintances’ from my class) enjoyed what I was doing. I think it may be what inspired me to pursue it as a life-long dream.

What sort of challenges have you faced as a writer? How did you overcome them?

Self-doubt is always the biggest killer. I went through a long period of writers block because I kept thinking about people I know reading my work and judging me. I’ve only somewhat managed to put that monster to bed lately with my current WIP, content for now that I can keep it all private until I’ve written and rewritten my manuscripts till they shine. We’ll see how I cope when it comes time to publish and my mother wants to read that book of mine with the sex scenes!

How do you research and plan your books? Do you find outlining helps or hinders your process?

I find it’s a delicate balance. Part of the joy of writing, for me, is the discovery of the story, so over-planning completely destroys my desire to put words on paper – because I already know what’s to come. On the other hand, you’ve really got to have some kind of idea how things are going to play out, or you’ll end up in a rut for five months because you never bothered to decide who the murderer was!

Have you learned anything really cool or interesting while researching your books? What’s been the weirdest research you’ve ever had to do?

I don’t know about really cool or interesting things – though I’m quite fascinated by my naming searches; scrolling through baby-name websites and seeing meanings behind really exotic names is just so… exciting to me. Sometimes I’ll read a name and craft an entire character around it.

As for weird research, I can certainly say I’ve stopped on occasion to think what someone might think if they stumbled across my history… The terms “serial killer” and “Satanist” come to mind. Though I guess it’s not out of the ordinary for writer’s searches. I write mystery and murder novels – and also paranormal and fantasy novels, so the research varies far and wide. Everything from “how many ways can you kill a man with your bare hands” to “Vampire folklore through history”, “Biblical Demons” and “how much do bounty hunters make?” – and then there’s the research on weather patterns in various cities. I recently had to research what it’s like to bleed to death and understandably, kept coming across both messages about therapy and reasons not to commit suicide, and posts about serial killers.

What advice would you give to new writers in the field?

Just write. Don’t think about your audience, who might read it, what people might think or want – you have to write for you, or you’ll suffocate your creativity.

Also, read. Read so damn much – anything you can get your hands on. I don’t care how busy you are; I used to read four to eight books a month in high school, but I stopped because “life got busy” at uni, and let me tell you, it was the worst dry spell of my life. I couldn’t write, for years. This year, I started carrying books around with me – anywhere and everywhere, I’d read in any waiting room, I’d read for two minutes before class starts, I’d read for 5 minutes before starting work. Just anywhere, in any free minute I had. Last week, I wrote 15,000 words.

Tell us a little about your writing nook! Favorite tea/coffee/writing snack?

Honestly, I kind of wish I had one, but I really just write anywhere. Whenever the need takes me. I won’t go anywhere without pen and paper handy; I keep them in the car, in my handbag, my uni bag, near my bedside, and essentially, all over the house. In high school I got in so much trouble because I would sit and write all through class – and then type it up after school instead of doing my homework; books were really all-consuming back then. I still write through some of my uni classes now – but it’s not the most helpful activity for my degree.

Mostly though, I write in bed, or on the couch. I know there’s all kinds of psychology about not doing anything in bed except sleeping… and you know, one or two other things… but I really can’t help it.

And as for snacks… if I’m really in the headspace, I’ll completely forget to eat. Hot chocolates have gone cold and sandwiches turned stale as I neglect them in favor of spewing words onto the page… I’ll pause for chocolate though… Chocolate I remember.

Of all of your own characters, who would you most want to date?

Once upon a time, I would’ve said Sebastian, my very first love. He’s the love interest of Forbidden, concocted from the day-dreaming’s of a 13 year old girl – I’m sure you can imagine I may’ve evolved a little beyond that now. He’s a mysterious bad-boy vampire that as an adult I’ve come to view as creepy and sadistic and in thorough need of review.

So I guess I’d have to say my recently-named Keirran from Demons Run, which I’m kind of surprised by. He’s a pretty wholesome guy, a cop, who’s magical power is bound, leaving him almost-human with no memory of what he once was. Super mysterious.

Surprising though, because I’m usually far more into the bad-boy, tall-dark-and-handsome mystery man type. I would name Aiden, the fierce fae male from the tentatively-planned sequel to Tiger’s Eye (Working title: Dead in the Night, so-named when Tiger’s Eye was still Dead by Dawn), except for the fact that at this point his concept is kind of a psychopathic murderer so…

What project are you currently working on?

I have three current “Works in Progress”, my main focuses (and the other forty-something concepts have been shelved). You can find blurbs for these on my wordpress. Tiger’s Eye – my adult fiction, psychological mind-fuck; Forbidden – my waiting-to-be-rewritten young-adult vampire romance; and Demons Run – my newest concept, a demon-hunting demon-witch-hybrid young-adult paranormal romance.

What’s next for you?

Well, hopefully, completing a polished manuscript to be published. It’s every writer’s dream, is it not?

About Ace

Ace (born November 8th, 1995) is a New Zealand paranormal romance and mystery writer. Currently studying a double major in Creative Writing and Psychology at Massey University

Find Ace on Twitter Tumblr  Goodreads or at https://aceparks.wordpress.com/! 

Tiger's Eye book Poster

Book Interview 

Tell us a little about your Work in Progress: Tiger’s Eye

Tiger’s Eye is an adult fiction paranormal mystery romance, featuring tiger-shifter Olivia Fairwood, a trained assassin trying to escape a traumatic past of fighting for survival. Someone is killing people of her kin, life-long trained assassins, and she’s forced into betraying her ‘family’ to help law enforcement catch the killer.

I refer to it as a “psychological mind-fuck” because I’m looking to explore some really hard and taboo concepts. I want to show how someone can be a victim of their upbringing and show Olivia’s struggle to recognize moral rights and wrongs as she grapples with the in-grained loyalty to her kin against the need to escape them forever. She’s a traumatized, angry character who is essentially everything society shuns – she has racist ideals and a very twisted moral compass, which is challenged over and over again as she learns that the way she was raised is even more messed up that she thought.

It includes psychological, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, pedophilia, sadism, and all those dark horrible things in the world (I’m a psychology student after all, with a fascination for psychopaths).

Where did your inspiration for the book come from?

Olivia’s character kind of evolved out of Riley Jensen (Full Moon Rising, Keri Arthur) and Anita Blake (Guilty Pleasures, Laurell K. Hamilton). I really liked the feel of their characters and adapted the ‘feel’ to create Olivia. While they were the inspirations for Olivia, I feel that – especially with her background – she’d evolved well beyond the original concept they gave me.

I’m also an abnormal psychology student; I’m… interested in how minds tick, including the really dark and twisted things in life, but I also have a message I want to come across in the books. In psychology, it’s important to understand not just how, but why people hold the beliefs and morals that drive them. Tiger’s Eye forces the reader to get inside the psyche and sympathize with a racist who blames a victim for their abuse; I want to make them understand that people are victims to the way they are raised, the things they are taught – but also enforcing that these ideals are wrong, and while not her fault, are something she must – and does – work to change. People condemn those who have done bad things in their life, and I want to bring understanding that people can change and move beyond their bad history.

Did you outline the story, or dive right in?

I was taken by the desire to write Olivia’s character in a certain scene from the book (but they involve spoilers, so that’s all I can say on the matter), after which I mapped out an idea of her past and upbringing as well as a rough storyline.

Actually, the scene I began with has since been moved to book two, as it skipped into Olivia’s future life and I decided it was both really important to write and also really fascinating to craft, how she came to be in the position, so the concept shifted, and then there were two books.

How did your characters come to life?

This is hard to say… I think most of my characters begin with the inspiration for a specific scene, but beyond that, there’s a period of discovering them as a character where they aren’t yet their own entity and I kind of feel them out as I throw them into situations.

I can’t really say how she came to life, so much as explain when I noticed she had. I was attempting to write a steamy scene I’d planned forever ago, and quickly found Olivia getting in the way of things. She didn’t – couldn’t – behave the way I’d imagined for the scene, and that was when I realized she’d evolved into her own entity.

Did you do any cool or interesting research for this story? What did you learn?

This story has involved a lot of research on killing; I’ve researched things like “how many ways can you kill a man with your bare hands?” and worse. I’ve also read and watched a lot of literature/film on psychologically disturbed people, to try and lend as authentic a feel as possible. I’ve also done a lot of research on cops, geography, Michigan, mountain ranges, and what skills make the ultimate assassin.

What’s your favorite part of working on this story? What’s the most challenging?

My favorite parts are always the sex scenes. I mean, come on. But essentially, I love the action parts – scenes where everything’s on the line, where every moment counts, where Olivia’s next move will make or break her.

The challenging parts are filling in the gaps. Sometimes I get over-enthused about a specific scene, and I’ll write it in advance, to weave into the story later. The problem parts are the weaving; the quiet transitions – which I know are really important for fleshing out the story and giving depth, but when I’m raring to write that upcoming shower-sex or close-encounter, it feels like I’m slugging through mud to get the words down.

What’s next for this story – is it part of a series?

Tiger’s Eye is about two-thirds written. My goal is to have the draft finished by the end of the year and have it revised, primed and polished before midyear 2018.

You bet there’s a series. I have the sequel mapped out and a concept for a third – possible inklings of a fourth book, depending how the next one goes. I’ve also conceptualized a spin-off involving supporting-character Marianne’s twin daughters, gifted with psychic abilities.

Share an Excerpt:

The earth began to smoke, the dirt blackening as heat blazed up, scorching Olivia’s skin. At this rate the psycho bitch was going to burn down the entire fucking forest.

Anora drew symbols in the air with her wand, trailing a shimmering glow so she could almost make out the what the markings were before they faded. In the pit of her stomach Olivia felt this ritual was about to reach it’s crescendo, and if it did she wasn’t sure there was any hope of escaping with her life.

With a rumbling vibration, cracks began to appear around them; the earth was trembling from the force of whatever was coming, as if the pits of hell were rising up to meet them.

Progress Links:

Follow my progress and stay up to date with my WIP’s HERE

Eat Me

An MFRW Author Post – And check out the other great blogs on the hop! 

Ever since I can remember, my favorite food has been ravioli. It was a staple of my Italian American upbringing and evolved over the years from cheese to lobster to pear and walnut, an ever changing affair with a beloved dish. I have eaten ravioli all over the world, including Venice and Florence, but one particular evening of ravioli stands out above the rest. 

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It is Christmas Day and we are in New Mexico. It snowed last night and my dad expertly maneuvers  the rented SUV up the winding mountains through the sparkling, winter wonderland, to a tiny Italian restaurant tucked against the top of the hill. We are the only people inside, and the proprietor, who still speaks with a thick Italian accent, serves us directly, offering suggestions and drink recommendations. He humors my poor Italian attempts and brings my parents limoncello, but subtly hints for them to share it with me, not yet sixteen, and my thirteen year old brother.

Against this scene, in the sparkling snowy New Mexico mountains, my grandparents, parents and brother beside me, an aura of magic in the air, I ate the best raviolis I have ever had. 

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I honestly don’t remember exactly what kind of raviolis they were, or what exactly made them the best I have ever eaten, still to this day, a decade later. But that’s how memories work sometimes, calling to mind certain details and leaving the rest to history.

We all have stories based around food. Perhaps it is the dinner in a candlelit alleyway in Florence. Perhaps it is the first Valentine’s dinner with the person you love long after. Perhaps it is a cache of junk food shared among your best girlfriends on movie night. Food is an intrinsic part of human life and it feeds – in more ways than one – into who we are as people, physically and emotionally. It dictates our social lives, the way we feel about ourselves and so much more.

When it comes to writing fully developed characters in our books, we do a disservice to leave out their food memories and experiences. Like all things in the writing process, it may not make it into the book, but the author will have a far greater understanding of the character, as well as pre-established memories and jumping off points for the character to talk or think about.   

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Food may seem like a petty or shallow element of a character’s life – the I love chocolate heroine, for example, is a favorite among romance novelists.

But the truth is that foods, the ones we like, the ones we dislike and the ones we crave at three am, are deep investigations into who we are as people, physically, socially and emotionally. After all, everyone has a ravioli in a fairytale mountain restaurant story. What’s your character’s? ♦

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We’ll be countin’ words

An MFRW Author Post – and check out the other blogs on the hop!

 

adult-2178656_1920I am an overwriter. It’s not a bad thing. In fact, as far as the question of overwriter vs. underwriter goes, I’d much rather face the challenge of cutting words than adding them. Putting too much information into a story is a far easier thing to combat than trying to add information into a final product. But either way, I’m definitely an overwriter.

And for overwriters, word count goals can be very good and they can be very bad.

It’s my understanding that most writers aim for word count goals over the course of their writing time because we need to have those tangible, definitive posts along the writing process road. Word count is far more reliable than page count, since matters of dialogue vs. prose can seriously alter how many pages you complete. Counting words is a solid and easy way to measure progress, and all creatives need to feel like they’ve put down a full work day, even if there’s no finished product for several months.

As an overwriter, I love word count goals. My very best writing day in recent memory, I reached twenty thousand words. I used to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and often squeezed ten or fifteen thousand words into the final weekend of the month, desperate to reach word count. When it comes to getting words on a page, I’m your gal.

electronic-1858956_1920Depending on the goal of the draft, that can be a great thing! Because when I’m trying to get my first draft just written, no frills, no lace, no charm, then overwriting at absurd speeds is the way to go. There is safety in the knowledge that I have way too much content to work with, so when I hit the editing process, I can really go to town.

I recently completed a draft for a short story submission in about two weeks, but when I took my pen to it, I ended up rewriting a lot of lines, cutting many more and revising character, plot and setting. That’s fine! The first draft gave me a bare bones to work with and I was able to flesh the manuscript out and make it more of the final product I had visualized.

That’s when the process goes right.

The process goes a little awry when I don’t have an outline or roadmap of the book. I’ve written one single book without an outline and it turned out to be one of my best final products, but that’s the exception not the rule. I can’t speak for other authors, but when I have a word count to reach and don’t feel like tackling a sticky plot problem or character development confusion, I’ll fill the book so full of fluff you could sleep on it.

In instances where I’m not working with a completed plot, or where there are matters that need to be addressed as they arise, I’ll focus my efforts less on word count and more on signposts within the story – a place I really need to end up before I consider my work done for the day. Get through the balcony scene, have him confess, interrupt their first kiss, onward and upward. This helps focus my writing where it might otherwise wander, integrating the outline into the writing process, instead of a final guide before I begin draft one.

fountain-pens-1393966_1920There’s no trick to word count. Over the years, I’ve discovered that the best way to set goals and determine your success for the day varies book by book. Word count is a great tool when your book needs to be a specific length, or when you know exactly how the next few scenes are going to play out and you’re just running the rally at a comfortable speed.

Certainly, I’d never throw away the idea of counting words. For me, it’s been the most effective tool to measure my goals. But there are definitely instances where another way works better, and the author has to figure that out for themselves. Each book you or I write will be a different process, maybe subtly different, maybe drastically different, but what works for one might not work for another. That’s okay, we experiment until we get it right.

Because when it comes right down to it, whether we’re measuring words, pages, scenes or hours, we’re writing and that’s all that matters. ♦

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That Book Ouch Moment

An MFRW Post – and check out the other great blogs on the hop!

 

Every genre has its pitfalls. Mysteries that give away the whodunit too early. Sci-fi that falls this side of derivative. Romance with two-dimensional Ken doll heroes. Writing genre fiction comes with all sorts of challenges, and it takes a certain set of skills and knowledge of craft to truly perform within the confines of that genre’s rules, or to properly break them.

Recently, I’ve been delving into the young adult genre. I’m interested in seeing what’s on the market, I like the crossover between romance and fantasy and the idea of writing the genre appeals to me. The more I read, also, the more I realize just how influential and important the genre is. The target demographic is at a critical age where representation of alternative perspectives and environments is more important than ever. Diversity in race, sexuality, socioeconomic background and more in YA books plays a fundamental role in providing young people with a sense of identity, belonging and validity.

Most of the time.

Young adult is, in many ways, a vast and complicated genre. While the target demographic is young– much of the time, specifically young women, it comes with the territory that YA provides content appealing to older and more mature readers as well. One of the myriad reasons for the wild success of the Harry Potter series was that the books grew, in both writing and theme, as the audience got older. I was five years old when the first book came out and began reading the series around eight. When Deathly Hallows was released, I was fifteen – a world away from the person I had been at the start of the series, just as Harry, Ron and Hermione were now facing challenges of life or death, betrayal or loyalty. 

Of course, not all YA series can work along this format, and instead authors must find a common ground between adult, mature themes and the younger audience most likely to read their books. Some ideas are universal – love, acceptance, justice, identity, and the median comes from the way an author address that issues. Many authors achieve this middle ground quite spectacularly. They discuss grown themes without tipping that precarious edge into adult fiction. 

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The problem comes when a book attempts to simplify these adult themes to make them more digestible for a less mature audience. While YA will steer away from graphic descriptions of sex and draw certain lines of violence, it must do so without speaking down to its reader or narrowing themes of vast injustice or evil to milk. And that remains one of my biggest frustrations with the YA genre.

Sometimes, authors just don’t give their readers enough credit. The young adults reading these books are the ones who sought them out, the interested, curious and willing-to-learn readers who prefer a challenge to a watery adventure. The adults reading the book simply find it unrelatable, even though issues facing young people today need to be taken seriously. The tone of condescension is often difficult to ignore and that can be quite frustrating. And unnecessary.

Take, for instance, Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard. The book runs amuck of the dystopian, caste system of injustice and inequality so prevalent in YA, but at no point does Aveyard speak down to her audience. She provides insight into the extreme violence, without grotesque details, and tells her readers that themes of betrayal, injustice, loyalty and purpose are not limited to a demographic, but rather universal, important and fundamentally complicated. Her protagonist, though certainly not flawless, is righteously pissed off enough to keep us there by her side and the threads of romance that must accompany every YA dystopian novel, are much more subtle and realistic, a subplot to the larger question of good vs. evil. 

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Perhaps I am biased, when it comes to the post-America caste system novels, given our wildly turbulent political environment and my fears for my family and friends. I remember reading one book where the economy was incredibly unbalanced, creating an unbreakable cycle of poverty, a dark line between the haves and the never will haves.

In the book series, which I loved despite all this but won’t name, (you can probably figure it out!) the protagonist is deeply invested in her own love affairs and heart. I won’t begrudge her that. But with the choice of whether or not to become princess, she focuses on love, rather than the power that the position will wield and the mass changes that she will be capable of implementing. When I first listened to elements of the story, I found myself quite frustrated with the idea that she was mature enough to recognize the incredibly divide and the struggle her family faced every day, but didn’t seem invested enough to fight at any cost. I distinctly remember clenching my fist and thinking, become the queen. Rule. Win. Then worry about the boy.

Every book approaches this issue differently, and certain elements of this series were done remarkably well, just as there are elements from Red Queen I would have liked to see play out differently. The point is, if this political climate has proven anything, injustice, division and fear are not fictional or fantastical ideas. They are real and the character must be unique, fully-developed and strong enough (in the sense of craft, rather than strong female lead) to properly react to the world around them.

The genre I am most familiar with is romance, I’ll admit that. Perhaps my own perspective, at now a decade older than I was the year Deathly Hallows was released, is the issue, not the writing. But as a person who deeply enjoyed reading books at every age, I think it’s important for YA authors to remember that their audience will reach, will rise, will find answers. With young adult readers, it’s always best to aim high. They’ll follow. ♦

Summer Floodin’

An MFRW Post – Memories From My Childhood

And check out the other great blogs on the hop! 

Our backyard floods. Since we moved into this house, over fifteen years ago, the section to the right of the backdoor, just beyond the patio and before the bamboo, floods. Badly. If it weren’t for the water, you wouldn’t know that the backyard is actually a small valley between the two houses to each side, but there is water and so we do know. There’s a lot of water. In fact, after a torrential storm last night and into this morning, there’s a remarkable amount of water in the backyard right now. We call it Lake Turrell, for the name of the street, and it has been a fixture of my time living in this house.

With one afternoon standing out among all the rest.

child-736365_1920I am ten years old. It is late June, maybe early July, but it’s already hot–muggy the way only summer in New Jersey can be, and everything is a little saturated, seen through a thick fog of humidity. The rain comes in sheets and buckets, but that is not unusual. It is summer in New Jersey and anything is possible.

Except this storm causes a problem. The drain sewers in the street are backing up and then they are shooting out, bubbling, gurgling fountains of rainwater gushing down from the sky and up from the ground.

This is the afternoon Lily and Seamus became some of our best friends. They had just moved from New York City, away from the recent 9/11 attacks and to the nice suburbs. We’d know there were kids our age, but we hadn’t met them. Until that afternoon.

That afternoon, the streets flooded for real and our slightly older, much cooler neighbor took his lake kayak out in the water, never scraping the ground–the road. That afternoon, Lily and Seamus and my younger brother and I stood in the great, flooding puddle of Lake Turrell, up to our pale knees in backyard water and dirt and grass, and we splashed and we swam and we got covered in muck. That afternoon, we formed a friendship in the shape of dirty handprints on each others arms, in the splash of water to the face, in the shared laughter of a day when you can’t help but to get wet, and instead you enjoy it. 

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Lily and Seamus went to Catholic school, but we had grown close and stayed close. We shared books and double sleep overs, birthday parties and movie marathons. We grew up, but it wasn’t the kind of friendship that needed constant attention, and we never really grew apart.

The family moved to Canada the year Lily and I graduated high school, and then to Washington state, Maine and then back to Queens, not so far from where they started over a decade ago and much closer to Lake Turrell.

My parents talk of moving too, once my boyfriend and I can afford to live on our own, once my brother decides to move out, once they don’t need this aged, wonderful Victorian house for the two of them. Wherever we end up, all of us on our paths, and if I decide to have children one day, I hope that they too will go swimming with lifelong friends in a big muddy puddle in the backyard. It’s something unforgettable. ♦

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Interview With Leta Blake!

 

I sat down with Leta Blake to talk writing, passion and her book, Slow Heat! 

 

When did you realize or decide you wanted to be a writer?

I wanted to be a writer when I was a young girl, but my parents told me that no one ever made a living as a writer, so I’d have to do it as a hobby. I let that dream go for a long time after that, focusing on psychology instead. In my late-twenties, during a bout of deep depression, I started writing again. Eventually, I realized that writing was my joy and I haven’t turned my back on it since.

What has been your best experience as an author so far?

Waking up to find my book, Smoky Mountain Dreams, at number one on the Gay Romance Charts at Amazon. That blew my mind. It’ll be hard to top that incredible experience.

What sort of challenges have you faced as a writer? How did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge for me is financial. I’m driven and inspired by life, so I don’t have a real problem with writing books or coming up with the ideas. But I do worry about how to finance self-publishing them. I have many reasons for not going through a publishing house but it all comes back to being very badly burned by the first one I went with. After that I’ve been able to successfully strike out on my own, but I fear there may come a day when I can’t afford to self-pub any longer. To that end, I’ve set up a Patreon account where fans of my work contribute a monthly pledge. I use that income to help fund the business side of my books.

How do you research and plan your books? Do you find outlining helps or hinders your process?

I am 100% a pantser! My characters seem to believe that outlines are rules to defy. As soon as I start an outline, they go off course. I always have a general plan, and some story beats in mind to hold the pacing, but otherwise, I let the characters tell me their story. As for research, I am endlessly and forever grateful for the Internet. You can find almost everything you need on there! The only things you can’t find are abstract things like how something smells or tastes. But you can find videos and pictures of almost anything.

What advice would you give to new writers in the field?

Finish your work. Get a good editor. Self-pub if you can afford it. Read contracts carefully if you can’t. And don’t be so excited to be offered a contract that you sign a poor one. Make friends with other writers. Support each other.

Tell us a little about your writing nook!

Oh, this is a hilarious truth. I write in the bathtub. Like Kyle XY from the old TV show, I’m obsessed with my bathtub, and I write my books while hanging out in there. Yep. It’s a terrible ‘office’ for my back, though!

About Leta! 

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

If you’d like to be among the first to know about new releases, you can sign up for Leta’s newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/bdn32H or find her on her website, Facebook or Twitter!


 

unnamedAbout the Book!

Tell us a little about your new release: Slow Heat!

I’ve long been intrigued by the Alpha/Omega tropes and the concept of male pregnancy. I decided I want to explore it for myself before I read too many other people’s take on the idea.

How did your characters come to life?

They dropped into my head while I was in Walgreens pharmacy waiting on a prescription and the old song by Icehouse, Electric Blue, came on the speakers overhead. I have no idea how or why this old, cheesy song brought this story and these characters to me, but it did! (the song: https://youtu.be/eSxmtivj_Gs )

What was your favorite part of working on this story? What was the most challenging?

My favorite part was how easily it just seemed to roll out of me. It’s a rare gift when that happens. The most challenging was trying to figure out how to explain the book for marketing purposes. It’s still hard for me to do that!

What’s next for this story – is it part of a series?

I do have a stand-alone sequel in mind for the main character’s best friend. He’s left in a bit of a difficult situation and I’d like to solve his problem. So, yes, hopefully there will be more in this universe.

Blurb:

A lustful young alpha meets his match in an older omega with a past. 

Professor Vale Aman has crafted a good life for himself. An unbonded omega in his mid-thirties, he’s long since given up hope that he’ll meet a compatible alpha, let alone his destined mate. He’s fulfilled by his career, his poetry, his cat, and his friends. 

When Jason Sabel, a much younger alpha, imprints on Vale in a shocking and public way, longings are ignited that can’t be ignored. Fighting their strong sexual urges, Jason and Vale must agree to contract with each other before they can consummate their passion. 

But for Vale, being with Jason means giving up his independence and placing his future in the hands of an untested alpha–as well as facing the scars of his own tumultuous past. He isn’t sure it’s worth it. But Jason isn’t giving up his destined mate without a fight. 

This is a stand alone gay romance novel, 118,000 words, with a strong HFN ending, as well as a well-crafted, non-shifter omegaverse, with alphas, betas, omegas, male pregnancy, heat, and knotting. Content warning for pregnancy loss and aftermath.

Pre-order it on Amazon

 

 

The Book Was Better, But I’ll Still Watch It

An MFRW post – And check out the other blogs on the hop!

 

 

I’m a firm believer that the original medium is always the best medium. If a book is turned into a film, there will be something lost in translation, and vice versa. But while it might not always resemble the original story to the letter, I still enjoy many books-turned-films. Here are some of my favorites.

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Harry Potter Series:

These got better, once they realized how big the series really was. Am I infuriated at the portrayal of Ginny Weasley, uh ya. But with a few exceptions – SPEW and Harry’s sarcastic retorts among them – I genuinely love this series. The stories are large and expansive, and probably better suited to a television program like Game of Thrones but I’ll swear by them and rewatch them forever.

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Pride and Prejudice:

Both of them. I love me some Colin Firth standing in a corner glowering, but I also like not devoting 4 hours of my time to a movie. I think Keira Knightley did a wonderful job capturing Austen’s essence and it’s so visually beautiful to watch. But also Colin Firth brooding does it for me.

Ten Things I Hate About You:

Let me be frank. I hate Taming of the Shrew. I think the antiquated idea of trying to calm a woman down with marriage – represented in Ten Things I Hate About You as her uppity feminist ideals, is absurd, to put it lightly. But this movie is still the perfect teenage, coming of age rebellion story, and they played off and got rid of a lot of the misogynist nonsense. Plus it’s hilarious. Plus Heath Ledger.

She’s the Man: shakespeare-and-company-1701307_1920

I’m going to admit something. I only understood Twelfth Night because I watched this movie a lot growing up. Firstly Amanda Bynes is a remarkable comedian, and Channing Tatum, despite looking way too old to be in high school, does dry comedy well. It’s hilarious, in addition to giving some clarity to the French farce of the original story. It also makes a lot of subtle references to the play.

Outlander:

Okay, it’s a television program and I’m cheating. But honestly, this show is remarkable. The books are thick with content and history and a whole lot of details that don’t make it in, but I don’t envy the person who has to narrow it down. They capture the essence of the story, keep the show active and exciting, and make me want to fall through the stones.

I love books. I love the smell of them, the joy I feel at getting the next one in a beloved series, the way they make me cry and laugh and disappear from the world around. But I admit that there is beauty and humor and fun to be found in remarking them into something new. Books may be my favorite, but I’ll go back to these movies and shows time and again, and that must count for something.

What are your favorite adaptations? Drop a note in the comment section! ♦

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The Ideal Romance Hero – What’s Inside?

 

An MFRW Post

 

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I realized some time ago that I don’t have a type. Sometimes, I think I do – a sexy Italian man with long hair and seductive, dark eyes or a sinewy, brilliant professor, who keeps me late after class to discuss Aristotle and the role of intersectional feminism in global economics. Every once in awhile, I’ll think I’ve finally learned my type, only to be caught off-guard by a viking, a military man, a pirate or an inventor in the latest book I grabbed from the library.

So what’s my ideal romance hero, well it’s not so much about the packaging as what’s really inside.

The person within – a truly trite idea, if you have any experience with romantic books, film or music, but true nonetheless. There are certain elements that my romantic hero must have, despite their time period, environment and penis size, (did I make you spit out your coffee? That’s what I was going for.) Here are some of the parts and pieces for my ideal romance hero.

 

Feminist Ideology:

While giving an 18th century lord feminist ideals is challenging, it’s far from impossible. I love stories about heroes that start out with preconceived notions of how women should behave, only to realize the error of their ways, as they fall in love with a woman who dgaf about your archaic, sexist values.

 

Communication Skills:

Okay, much of romance exists because of a lack of communication, but for real life communication is key. If we have an issue, it’s not going to be solved by my Ideal Romance Hero flexing his pecs. He has to be willing to hash it out.

 

And to Compromise:

I’m getting over the macho macho of romance heroes. Relationships work because of give and take. If my hero is set in his ways, I’m going to get really tired of that really quick. Couples compromise and evolve, it’s how we survive.

 

Humor:

Because the truth is, I’m super weird. I laugh at inappropriate things and I speak in funny voices and I give totally bizarre nicknames to the people in my life. If you can’t roll with that, it’s just not going to work.

 

Supportive and Encouraging:

I’m planning to follow my dreams whether or not Dude Man Hottie is by my side. If he wants to take this rollercoaster ride, he better be there when the going gets tough, not just when the acceptance letters pour in.

 

Curious and Interested:

I love travel and adventure and new experiences. Whether it’s the art museum or the antique car show, I’d like my hero to be willing to try everything at least once.

 

Sexy Hot Bod:

What, it’s still a fantasy, right?

 

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Keeping a Straight Face

An MFRW Author Post  

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I’m a person who loves humor – it doesn’t take much to send me into a fit of laughter, and I tend to crack rude and inappropriate jokes anywhere and anytime. I love making people smile and I come from a family of wise guys and smart alecs, so I’m in good company.

But, witty remarks at the dinner tables and goofing off with my boyfriend aside, there’s one thing that will make me laugh without fail, every single time.

Sexy audiobooks.

Don’t get me wrong, I love audiobooks. I’m an audiobook nut. I probably listened to 25 or 30 last year and I’ve a mind to beat that. But despite being my favorite genre, or maybe because of it, they tend to put in me into a sticky spot sometimes. (Please direct your mind out of the gutter…)

hipster-869222_1920The thing is, I’ve grown quite adept at keeping a straight face when I listen to the sexy bits on my way to work or back from town. But every once in awhile I’ll be taken off guard, and I have to do my damnedest not to laugh directly in the face of whatever unwitting human is walking in the opposite direction of me.

Some of the ones that have definitely thrown me are things like surprise ten-inch penises, (um, thanks, but no thanks,) the words splooge and honeypot, and one time when an adopted dog named Jupiter happened upon a post-coital Christmas morning scene, and then his hip gave out and he fell over.

But while I could list a dozen scenarios that almost had me laughing out loud in public like a crazy person, there is one that will stay with me far above all the rest.

I think about two years ago, I downloaded an audiobook on the fly. I was running late for work and hadn’t bothered to check out the description, just saw that it was contemporary Special Forces and hit the road. It turned out to be the start of a lifelong love for Maya Banks, (I am currently reading her entire KGI series), book one of The Falcon Mercenary Group.

I really should have read the description.

As I learned much later into my Maya Banks education, she sometimes throws in paranormal things without a whole lot of explanation. There are a surprising numbers of sexy, grown men who mysteriously turn into wild jungle cats, among other things. Like this book. 

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See, it starts out like a regular contemporary story. The heroine is obviously after the hero, so she finds him at a club and seduces him before he brings her home. They have sex in the first, like, fifteen minutes and fall asleep. Then the hero wakes up from their post coital snuggling and turns into mist.

Say what now?

When I first heard it, I grappled with whether or not I was supposed to decipher some deep metaphor. But nope, the hero literally transforms into mist, which made me pause in my walk and blink a lot before bursting into unstoppable laughter. Like, what the fuck, right? Only I love Maya Banks and I stopped asking questions about her vaguely paranormal stories a long time ago.

I’d say that listening to these books and being caught off guard is embarrassing, but it’s not. At the core, romance is a really fun genre, and if it makes me laugh, it just means it’s doing its job. It is silly? You know it! Do I want a ten inch cock anywhere near me – no thanks, not even a little. But these escapist, fun elements are part of the reason we love it. And if the people who see us burst out laughing on the sidewalk think we’re a little weird, well, fuck it – they don’t know what they’re missing. ♦

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My Achilles Heels

[An MFRWAuthor Post!]

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Last week, I got to brag a little about my ability to string sentences together, in Herculean Effort. In keeping with the theme, it’s time I eat some humble pie and tell you about the elements of writing I need to work much, much harder at.

Firstly let me say, the English language is hard. I didn’t quite realize how hard until I started editing my own novels, and I’m convinced I don’t know the extent of it. We conjugate differently than nearly every other language, half our words are spelled the same and pronounced differently, there are hundreds of verbs where the past and the present tense are the same word. Don’t even get me started on there, their and they’re? I could go on.

correcting-1870721_960_720Which brings me to my first point – editing is a challenge.

There are two kinds of editing – story and syntax, and you want someone who can do both, well. The story element is the who, what, where, when, why and how. It’s your characterization and plot. It’s the meat in the middle of the pie. The syntax is everything else – the copywriting (I’m the worst with commas), the sentence structure, the vocabulary.

In order to build a beautiful house, first you need the frame and the floors – that’s the syntax editing. In order to come out with a really good final product, you need an editor – you or someone else – who can do both of these things well.

I’m a fairy decent editor of my own work. After four years of college writing workshops, my grasp on the English language is good enough to break the rules – and I love breaking the rules. I can see plot point issues and I can understand most of the nitty gritty of the syntax editing. (Still forever arguing with Word about that or which), but that doesn’t mean I like it.

Because there are two things I’m slow at – researching and editing – the bookends for any good novel. Only with my last few novels have I begun to understand the importance of research as a companion to writing, rather than a pre-requisite. On my current WIP, I’ve been researching as I write, 10 Chrome tabs at a time, which really makes the whole process move through molasses. When it comes to editing, I’m even worse.

I know, it’s important to be thorough and detail-oriented in the areas where people can call you out. The writing process should be fairly quick and straightforward because we trust that the editing process with be slow and detailed.

correcting-1351629_960_720I know all this, and I still don’t care, I hate it. I’ve never been a patient person, and the editing and researching process require a lifetime of patience. Because if you rush through it, if you skim the story or do a quick job, you might as well not have bothered at all. There’s a reason they say write drunk, edit sober. Your inhibitions should be down while you’re writing and doubled while you’re editing.

Psh.

I do have to say, I am grateful for my ability to edit. The reason I’m slow is because I’m trying to do the very best job I can, even though that kind of stuff doesn’t come naturally to me. I make a point of printing out and editing on the hard copy of every manuscript I write, and I know it makes my stories better.

That doesn’t mean I have to like it – but I do have to come to terms with it. In the modern writing world, authors aren’t just writers. We’re editors, marketers, promoters and bloggers. We run social media and websites and edit our own work. We’re the Jills of all trades. Fine, I’ll be the master of some and keep on the working on the rest.

After all, I’m a work in progress too. ♦

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