Tour Stop #1: Sassy Book Lovers Interview

I’ll re-post any interviews that happen along the way for my Dark Minds Book Tour, just in case you missed them. But you should really visit the site if you’d like the full experience.  =) They all have giveaways to offer, and some give their review of the book as well.

This interview courtesy of Sassy Book Lovers.  Enjoy!  I’m always quite the candid one. 😉

Q1. What or who inspired you to become a writer?

Early on, I was drawn to paranormal stories and dark twisty movies. My family is full of creative genius; I guess it was always in my blood and there wasn’t one single trigger to get me going on the thought. Although, Blood Life was inspired by a paper I wrote on vampires in junior college. The professor hated my topic and gave me a D, even though it was a great paper. So, I left her class after telling her off and went home to start writing the first draft. 😉

Q2. Who is your favourite Author & what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I have many favorite authors. I guess the author that truly inspired me to write about vampires was Anne Rice. Her intricate, romantic, and dark alluring worlds intrigued me. Her way with words really spoke to me and resembled mine (at least I thought so).

Q3. What was the hardest part about writing your book?

Letting it be finished. I couldn’t let it go. I kept revising and reediting it. That’s why it took me 15 years from start to finish. That won’t happen with the next book. The first born is always a little special.

Q4. Has the paranormal been something that has always interested you?

Always! Ever since I can remember; even as a little tiny girl.

Q5. What was your favourite chapter to write and why?

I’d say my favorite was the first sex scene between Roman and Alexandria. I am a very passionate person, so writing erotica like that came so naturally and exciting. I’ve toned it way down since the first draft, let me tell you… only because I felt what is there now is enough for that story. Had it been a straight erotica story, I would have left it as it was originally.

Q6. What was the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing your book?

That I can really tell a story from beginning to end! It was such a trip to piece it together, and this particular book, since it was written over the span of 15 years, has undertones that tell the story of my life and growth as a writer and a person. It’s pretty cool if you think about it.

Q7. Do you ever experience writers block?

Yes! Usually when I’m stressed out in my daily life. Stress really affects my writing.

Q8. What is the last book you read?

“Inside the Outside” by Martin Lastrapes. Excellent book!

Q9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?

My inner witch, Devendra. She’s the bomb. I love everything about her.

Q10. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Exercise. Watch movies. Have coffee/tea with good company. Watch live music. Read. Cuddle.

Q11. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

The first thing I wanted to be was a nun (I went to catholic school). That quickly turned into a bus driver (WTF?) and then a veterinarian. Writer came next and stuck. =)

Q12. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?

Me… Or Madeline Stowe. Or Sherilyn Fenn. Or Monica Bellucci.

Q13. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Yes, always remain true to yourself. Don’t write for others; write for you. And write with all your heart.

Q14. Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?

Thanks for giving my debut a chance and for your amazing support! More to come, even stronger than the first, so stay tuned! =)

Some quick questions…

Q15. Light or Dark chocolate?

Dark

Q16. Sunrise or Sunset?

Sunset

Q17. Dogs or Cats?

Cats

Q18. Tea or Coffee?

Coffee

Q19. Favorite Colour?

Purple

Q20. Favourite Disney movie?

Old Yeller

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Blood Life is currently on tour!

Dark Minds Book Tours is currently hosting a 10-stop tour of Blood Life. So far the reviews are very mixed, from a 3-star “sick and twisted” to a 5-star “amazing read!” I’m loving this roller coaster . . . and it’s only day three of 10.  😉

You can find the complete tour schedule here: http://ow.ly/cuJuo

Growing Pains (of life and writing)

By now, if you are following my blog at all, you’ve learned that I am a writer. Duh, I say it constantly (haha!). Also that I wrote and self-published my first full-length, horror fiction novel, Blood Life. In case this is your first visit, the book is about vampires, witches, magic, violence, and sex. It is set in a fictional world (which was designed to be forgiving of language style and surroundings). It is much different than Twilight, and there is no sparkling Edward Cullen. There are, however, weak protagonists, like Bella Swan, but mine become much stronger with time, aging like fine wine.

Character interactions are vast and intriguing, maybe even infuriating at times. There is Roman and Devendra, Roman and Alexandria, Roman and Alethea (he sounds a little slutty at this point, but when you read it, you’ll see how that works). There’s also Lokee and Lorien. Seth and Lorien. Lillith and Silas.  Just throwing names out there because I love these characters and their crazy relationships.  My point being, there’s a lot to this book. It is a deep, multi-faceted thriller adventure in disguise. It’s magical and unique for a debut, but also true to form, there are some issues with the plot and I’m not too proud to admit that or to point them out.  It’s part of becoming a better writer, after all!

Although I pull everything together nicely in the end, I’m prepared for heavy critiquing from some readers, and just plain love of the story from others who are just reading and getting hooked (and not reviewing, per se). I let the book out there knowing this full well. I had to release it, because I had been writing it for such a long time, and until I finally let it go, I could not focus on anything else.  It was almost therapeutic to do so. And if you read it closely, you might see the 15-year span of growth in me as a writer peppered throughout in rewrites.  If I’d tried to revise any more of it, I may have just scrapped it, and it was too good of story to do that.  😉

Why am I saying all this? Well, because the prequel, Devendra, is coming out so well! It is written completely in my present frame of mind. And I don’t think it would have been channeled from brain to fingers quite as deliciously had I actually written it first.  As I write it now, I’m moved in a way I cannot describe, and moving yourself is key (moving others is the ultimate goal, but you catch my drift). And I have so much more to come: two more vampire/witch books, a female serial killer by the name of Z (you’re gonna love her), and a phantom ghost lover of a girl living in a place much like hell on earth.

So as the reviews are rolling in for Blood Life, I’m feeling motivated and fulfilled. I’ve heard things from “It reads like a movie!” to “I don’t read this genre normally, but the story really hooked me!” to “I love your mind!” to “Please keep writing!” All of those bits of feedback have really satisfied my ego. And not in a conceited way, but in a pleasing, humble way. I’m very proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished. And most of all, I thank you, the reader, for reading my story and giving it a chance! Whether you love it, like it, or hate it, I appreciate you for taking the time to look at it and consider it. Hats off to you. ❤

Writing Research, Book Signings, and Excerpt Readings… oh my!

Have you ever wondered how some writers get their research, or if they even research at all in their writing?  I know I do.  I LOVE to research topics that I write about. For instance, I’m working on Devendra’s book now, the life and times of my witch heroine, my own inner personae, and it starts out with a witch trial set in the Witch Court of Burgundy, one of the colored towns of the United Spectrum. The United Spectrum is a world I created so that I didn’t have to worry too much about accuracy and time… a little lazy on my part, I’ll admit, but so forgiving and lenient! As a writer, it’s nice to have a little of that.

However, with the actual trial, I wanted some accuracy.  So I purchased books (including the “The Hammer of Witches”: the Malleus Malificarum) and read a ton about the European Witch Craze, and of course, the Salem Witch Trials since they made it mainstream public in works like, “The Crucible,” and, “Three Sovereigns for Sarah.” These were excellent adaptations and stories based on the witch hysteria of the small village of Salem, but the witch hysteria infected inquisitors far beyond Salem. In books like, “The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe,” by Brian Levack, and “Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts,” by Anne L. Barstow, questions are explored pertaining to why women and men were accused in the first place (most often out of greed and religious disagreements – one only had to point a finger at that time and a person could be burned), and how they were handled, tortured, and killed. It was madness!

I took from these ideas and used them in my writing. I put Devendra there in that dilemma but in Burgundy, accused and on trial for her life. I used names of some actual people of the time in Salem and placed them as the executioner, Devendra’s personal jailer, etc. and played on real facts, working in the fiction, to build the scenes and overall storyline.

Although it takes time, the research was/is fun and I’m looking forward to doing it all over again with another book I’ll be working on, “The Butcher’s Daughter,” about a female serial killer set in late 80s / early 90s San Francisco.  I’ll need to contact the SFPD about interviewing or “riding along” with officers/detectives to gather insights on the day-to-day workings of the homicide department when it comes to serial killings.  Fun, scary, and exciting!  The first chapter of that one’s written but put aside in favor of finishing Devendra and getting it out by Halloween. 😉

This week, I’ve put up a promo on my Facebook Fan Page. Get your vampire and witch loving friends to “like” my page and post to my wall that YOU referred them, and get entered to win a signed copy of Blood Life! I’ll run this until Saturday at midnight, so get your booty moving if you wanna win.  ❤

Below is a small gallery from the book signing I did in Petaluma, CA, on April 22nd.  What a great turnout! We sold out and had to take special orders.  That felt good.  Next up: I’ll be reading an excerpt from Blood Life at Redwood Cafe in Cotati on Tuesday, May 22nd. It’s an intimate event from 6-8pm. Five other authors will be presenting their work.  I’m assuming I’ll be the only one reading from a horror novel.  Talk about sticking out like a sore thumb!

Character Intimacy

My cover designer and friend, Myah Frazer, came up with a great blog topic for me to go over. A beautiful, multifaceted question regarding character development and intimacy.

“Character development and the intimacy that you, as a writer, do or do not allow yourself to create with your characters. How do behaviors, quirks, nuances, even notions become full fledged characters – what is the process and how much of *you* does it take over? – with their very own psyches and needs – are they demanding and do you find yourself interacting with them on a more substantial level than character/creator.. and how does that affect you?”

I am VERY intimate with my characters, and each and every one of them (the main ones especially) carry traits and quirks of my own. Anything from my past or present comes alive within them. I allow them free reign of my imagination and never worry about how much of me they are taking, because I am always the stronger one. I always walk away me. And that’s not to say I am perfect, but to say that I am strong and extremely malleable. I can share many parts of my own psyche with them, without losing any part of myself. I can jump in and out of writing. There is only one who remains with me always, and that’s Devendra.

Demanding? Devendra is the most demanding. She resides in me always. She’s my inner witch. I have had Devendra with me for as long as I can remember! It’d be hard to let anyone else play her on the big screen, should that opportunity ever arise, and I think it will be in the stipulations of contract that if I cannot play her role (haha!) then I MUST be in the casting room when her actress is chosen. It is so important to me. She is the only one that I consider parallel with me, or part of me on a daily basis, whether I am writing or not. When I finished Blood Life, she kept chattering away at me, wouldn’t leave me alone to sleep, until I agreed/decided to write her story leading up to Blood Life, a prequel that I am working on now and hope to have ready for release by late October. Halloween, maybe. Seems fitting of a vampire / witch novel.

The rest of my stars, although important, they take smaller parts of me and run with those pieces becoming their own individual characters. Lokee is tricky, as he is the bad side of me. He’s dark and dirty, but also wants nothing more than acceptance and love. Since he does not get it, he strikes out at everyone and exudes hatred instead. Alexandria/Alethea is my weaker side, my inner victim becoming strong with every growing day. Roman is my perfect lover projected… he is every man I’ve loved and want to love. He’s my “Weird Science” creation of a man instead of a woman. 😉

Lillith… she is very special. The mother of the Combined. The Goddess of the vampires and the witches of the Spectrum (the world I’ve created for them to exist among humans). Lillith is my dangerous but controlling side. She is the most powerful character among them all and next to Devendra. She is my own mother in many ways. The strong one holding us all up, the one that remains in control, and the ultimate nurturer and protector.

I allow them all that they need to help me write their stories. I channel each and every one of them into my words and my life as needed. And I hope they decide to stay with me through the bitter end. Maybe even forever after. ❤

And in case you missed it, I recorded a live excerpt reading of Chapter 12. I’ll be reading live, from a different chapter, on May 22nd, at this cute little local cafe that hosts local author readings monthly. Check out the little website… buy the book! Watch the video. What else? Oh, like the fan page or follow me on Twitter to keep updated! hehe

The Writer in Me

I am so much a writer, the blessing (and curse) runs through my veins like nothing else in this world. It’s magical, like a predestined craft, a trade, a calling, even, that no other hobby or profession can satisfy. And I must have time to write.  Correction, in this crazy world, I must make time to write or my life just feels . . . ordinary. Writing is my life. I wrote my first short story, about a crazy cat lady who died and all her cats ate her, at 10 years old. And look, I didn’t become a serial killer!? You’d think, “Whoa, troubled kid!” Nope. Not troubled (in that sense, anyway). But wildly imaginative, and a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Edgar Allen Poe shorts, et al. Enough said.

Many authors will tell you they come up with story ideas through occurrences in everyday life or through dreams / nightmares, and then outline them before sitting down to write them out. Not me. In fact, outlining really messes up my flow. I sit down and channel the story.  It just comes to me.  I’ll sit with no idea which story I’m going to write in (since I have five other books in progress at present). It depends on the mood I’m in.  I’ll sit down in my office and place my fingers on the home keys of my Asus keyboard, feeling the firmness of them, waiting for the first words to come to me. And that’s just what happens.

Sometimes I will start slowly and speed up as pictures and ideas invade my mind, or, if I’m lucky, my fingers start smoking across the keys as I pound out a scene or two, even a chapter, in record time.  When the temporary possession ends, I go back to read what I’ve written.  When it’s good, I can’t believe I wrote it. I get humble but excited. When it’s bad, it gets deleted and I walk away.  Simple as that.

I will say, though, that some ideas do come to me through everyday life occurrences rather than dreams.  Dreams do sometimes play a role in my imaginative tales, but being out in society, people-watching, gets me the bulk of my material. I see people, I study their actions and body language; if I make eye contact, I decide what they’re thinking (or their thoughts literally fly out at me – it’s frightening!) and it fuels a character or scenario. Little do they know they’re supplying my story tank in some little important way. I wonder if they’d be flattered or weirded out by it? I’d be flattered, but I’m a writer, so I understand. How about you? How would you feel if you found out the reason for a stranger’s stare was that they were momentarily struck by your presence and that you’re quite possibly supplying ammo for a fictional character’s actions?

Life as Fiction

Life teaches us so many lessons.  Some are good, some are bad, and some are hanging in the balance.  It seems that with writers, many life experiences that touch or move us in a way, channel into a story that we’re writing.  Whether it’s a glimpse, a whisper, a fragment, or a complete tell-all, it’s there.  You just have to look closely and pay attention to the words.  And if you know the writer, it’s even more special (or hurtful?) because you are able to recognize it and reflect; if not, hopefully you are still taken in by it and can relate somehow either for or against the words or situation.

In my stories, I am an open book. There are many of my own life experiences and memories and personal traits in them, the way that I remember or perceive them. Of course not everything in my stories are from truth!  I’d say that 95% is pure embellished fiction.  But that 5% really runs deep.  It opens the door if it was a bad memory put to paper as part of the story, it helps to heal that scar on your soul.  I think that is the coolest thing, and I thank storytelling for being my passion and my solace.