Monday, April 28, 2014

Sucker Literary Magazine Blog Hop: The Writing Process #AmWriting

I was asked to participate in the Sucker Magazine Blog Hop by one of my very favorite young adult authors, Mike Mullin. If you haven't read his Ashfall series yet, I highly recommend you checking it out. 

Here is a link to Mike's blog hop post. BLOG HOP

So I was asked as part of this project to answer a few questions on my writing. 

1. What am I working on? 

I am currently working on the third and final book in my Arcadia series, Arcadia's Choice. Writing endings is always the hardest part of the novel process. I can write beginnings all day long. I have several partial manuscripts with the first eight or ten chapters written and then abandoned. But writing the last 20% of a book is agonizing for me. Since Arcadia's Choice is the last book in a series, I'm finding it ten times harder to finish. I think it has to do with wrapping up all the plot lines in a way that not only makes sense, but leaves readers with a feeling of satisfaction. 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

There are two main ways my Arcadia series is different from other YA paranormal books on the market. First, while categorized as paranormal or science fiction, I've tried to make the story as realistic as possible. This means it is as much a family drama as it is paranormal. I have tried ever step of the way to make Cady and her friends feel like real people with real problems. I have given a scientific explanation for the existence of psychic gifts. it's important to me that these stories seem real. 

The second way the series differs from other paranormal stories is because my main character is a psychic empath. Most psychic stories revolve around telepaths or kinetics or something else sexy and cool. Empathy is a quiet gift. It's not visual at all. (Reason #87 why my books will never be made into movies.) Empaths in literature are rare, and when they are present, they are either minor supporting characters or empathy is just one of the character's many talents. Cady's only psychic gift is empathy, and emotion worker. She feels the emotions of people around her, absorbs the emotional energy and channels that energy out in various ways. 

3. Why do I write what I do?

While I do write some adult literature, I have an affinity for writing about teens. I think this is because the teen years are such a dynamic time for most people. There are a lot of really important things going on in the lives of teens that lend to creating some really great stories. 

I decided to write about psychics because I wanted to write a paranormal that was based in realism. Yes, I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but I don't see it that way. Look, we all know vampires don't exist. Sorry, but they don't. Neither to werewolves, faeries, trolls, etc. Disappointing, I know. But what about psychics? The human mind is a vast, uncharted place. Even scientists don't know the full extent of what we are capable of. Many people around the world claim some measure of psychic abilities. There is even documented evidence to support the existence of these abilities. So I wanted to write a story where these was a scientific/genetic explanation for these abilities, and write them in the most realistic way possible. 

4. How does my writing process work? 

I probably do everything "wrong". I don't outline or plot or make elaborate, color-coded timelines. I get an idea for a character and a situation, and then I obsess about it for a while before giving in and writing the first few chapters. Usually, I don't even know what the plot will be at that first writing. It's more about getting a character out of my head and onto paper before I forget about it. Come to think of it, I think this is why I have such a hard time writing endings. 

I also am not a regular, every day sort of writer. Like a lot of writers, I have a mundane day job that takes a lot of mental energy. I find it hard to stick to an everyday writing schedule. I tend to write mostly on the weekends. 

Okay, so now is the time when I direct you to the next stops on the Blog Hop. I have asked a few amazing authors to take up the reigns behind me.  First, is Tawdra Kandle, who is not only an amazing author, but she is also one of my editors. :)  Tawdra has a new duet of books out. 

Here is a link to Tawdra's blog:

Next on the blog hop is DelSheree Gladden. I asked DelSheree to take part in the blog hop because not only is she a wonderful writer, but she is also incredibly supportive of other authors. This woman must have a plethora of good karma built up! My favorite book by DelSheree is WICKED HUNGER with happens to be free on Kindle right now. 

The link to DelSheree's blog:

I hope you all take the time to check these authors out. They are fab! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review: STRAIGHT SHOOTER by @HeidiBelleau #AmReading

This macho jock has a crooked little secret.

College hockey player Austin Puett is in trouble. Unless he starts treating his flamboyantly gay roommate with respect, he’ll lose his room and his job at Rear Entrance Video. But Austin’s got a not-so-straight secret of his own: nothing turns him on more than insults implying he’s gay—even though he’s definitely not!—and all his old coping methods have stopped working.

Pure desperation drives him to rent a Mischievous Pictures porn flick about straight men tricked into servicing Puck, a male dominant. Instead of letting off steam, though, it just leaves him craving more, more, more, and suddenly, Austin finds himself at Mischievous Pictures Studios for an audition. After all, you can be Gay For Pay and still be straight . . . right?

But meeting Liam Williams, the real person behind Puck, confuses Austin even more. Liam really seems to like him as a person, and Austin likes him back. And while Gay For Pay’s okay, what does it make Austin if he still wants Liam when the cameras aren’t rolling?

I generally don’t like to read a series out of order, but something about this one interested me, so I broke my rule. Sounds like each book can stand on its own, so I think I caught on okay. of course now I have to go back and read the first two. :)

I have to be honest; I didn’t like the character of Austin at first. He comes across as a homophobe, and I can’t stomach too much of that. But I’m glad I stuck with him, because seeing him overcome his inner struggles was worth it. On top of roommate problems, work problems and problems on his college hockey team, Austin has a fetish that he lives in fear of anyone discovering. No wonder he comes across as an ass at first. Over the course of the novel, Austin comes to terms with all of these things, but I love how the author chose to do it.

A lot of books spend 90% of the book with the character whining, and then there is a quick, tidy wrap up in the last two chapters. Not so here. Belleau let Austin work his issues out in a way that felt natural. Things between him and Liam aren’t perfect, but somehow it works for them.

Speaking of Liam...I found his character fascinating. His porn personality, Puck, is a bit of a dominant asshole, and while Liam brings the dominance home with him, he is also this regular guy. I’m so happy that Austin was able to separate those two sides of him out. No one can have a relationship with a porn star unless they are 100% accepting of their work life. I kept waiting for Austin to pull some whiny crap about making Liam quit his business, but that never happened. If it had, the book could have easily gone cliché. Nice choice, Belleau!

I also loved the theme of this story. Humans are complex creatures, and we don’t always fit into cozy categories and definitions. Much of Austin’s problem revolves around him tormenting himself over whether he is gay or straight. The answer is neither. Once he accepts that, he golden. Loved it!

Overall, I give Straight Shooter...
Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 5 bookmarks
Moral Lesson - 5 bookmarks
Love Story - 5 bookmarks

Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - A younger Don Diamont (Liam), Michael Graziadei (Austin)