Monthly Archives: July 2012

Interview with James Fuller

For this Sunday’s edition of ‘Author Talk’, I had the opportunity to have my questions answered by James Fuller, the author of Unforgivable as well as The False Prince.  James (who insists I not call him Mr. Fuller, as that mister is reserved for old people), was willing to chat with little ol’ me through email about his books. While I’ve yet to have the pleasure, I’ve heard good things and must include his on my list of must reads. Continue reading

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Interview with Jorge Goyanes

I was graciously, and with some struggle on my part, given the opportunity to read a book written by Mr. Goyanes.  Normally, truthfully, I don’t tend to like books written by guys, especially ones I’m not familiar with, because sometimes, to me, guys’ writings either come off feeling forced or awkward, or I have a hard time relating to the characters.  This is not the case with Mr. Goyanes’ book. In addition to granting me a chance to read his work, he was so kind to answer my interview question.  I really appreciate his precise and to the point, no nonsense answers.

Jorge Goyanes

How do you come up with your ideas?

I guess you could say that they’re based on my imagination which is based on my extensive reading habits.

How do you execute them in such a way that they take on lives of their own?

I try to write like I’m having a conversation with my readers.

Do your characters ever take over your stories? If they do, how do you handle that?

I certainly try for them to. The character should drive the story.

How do you decide which ideas you want to go with?

I write the idea down as it comes to me and tweak if needed.

Has there ever been a time in your writing career that you ever wanted to give up and why/why not? What made you overcome your ‘self-doubt’?

I don’t have any doubts.

What was one character that you felt so emotionally attached to that you hated ‘hurting’ and why? How were you able to overcome that (if you were)?

In the second book of the Jose Castillo Mysteries, I am about to do some harm to a favorite character. It has been tough, but a necessary realism to the plot.

You obviously enjoy what you do. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Getting started is the hardest thing to do. Believe in your story.

If you couldn’t write another story (be a writer), what would you do with your life?

Play professional golf.

What kind of rituals do you use to write (ie, a special pen, paper, lighting, drink)?

Comfy recliner with a shot of coffee-flavored tequila.

Do you listen to music while you’re writing, and if so, what kind of music do you listen to?

Sometimes. Light jazz.

Which one of your characters to date do you relate to most and why?

Jose Castillo, the protagonist of Miami Beat. I based him on my knowledge of cars, people, and my cynical view of life.

What made you choose the genre(s) you write?

It’s the genre I read. I read the entire Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald, the entire Spenser series by Robert Parker, and all of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series. When I was a teen, I got started in the genre by reading Agatha Christie. What inspires you?ENTERTAINING THE READER

What new things are you working on?

I’m currently writing book two in the Jose Castillo Mysteries series, title yet to be determined.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Buy my book!

Continue reading

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Texas Lily (Review)

Texas Lily

What the Author/Publisher Says:

Lily Porter is newly a widow with a child to raise and a cattle ranch to run in the Texas frontier aflame with violence, and where a woman is to be seen not heard. She needs a man to stand up for her land. His name is Cade. Part Apache brave and part Mexican grandee, Cade has a past and a secret. But he possesses the power and passion to command all in his path. Lily welcomes Cade into her struggle against treachery and terror—and discovers a love worth risking everything to keep.

What I say:

Normally, when I download free books (it was ‘on promo’ at the time I downloaded it), it is usually weeks or month before I get to reading it. Now, I usually go into them with the best intention of reading them, but after a page or two, I grow bored and walk away.  Add to the fact that my reading-only Kindle met with an unsavory end, and well, reading hasn’t exactly been high on my to-do list. Add to my concern that this isn’t just an ‘unknown’ but someone who’s reached ‘best selling’ status, I had concerned that the writing would be forced and even a bit contrite.

Not at all! The story grips you from the start, when Lily’s just a sixteen year old piano playing misfit in her family of lovely sisters in the intro, to the point where the story starts up, some years later when Lily is on her ranch in Texas, husband probably dead, and a son to raise.  Years that don’t match up, until you realize that perhaps Lily isn’t on the up and up with the origins of her eight year old son, Roy.  With Jim dead, and men not wanting to answer to a woman, Lily hires an undesirable character in Cade, a half Mexican, half Indian man.

We see the characters develop and change through out the story, as well as the ranch they all work and strive to make successful, with the return of Roy’s father, things get interesting. Add in a poor, abused and raped housekeeper, farm hands, and war, and this really was a ‘can’t put it down’ kind of story.

Other than the use of ‘recalcitrant’ over and over again, to describe everything from hair to husbands, it was an easy and flowing work.  I am eager to read other stories by this author in this line of works.  Now, my issues… the lead man really should have asked for Lily’s hand in marriage, rather than tricking her and just assuming. Granted, there were cultural differences (duh!) but, still, the man just took what he wanted with little concern about what Lily wanted or needed. Granted, she was sexually stunted and knew nothing else.  Socially, it would have been better for him to at least say something along the lines of ‘want to do it?’ rather than just take her in his teepee and take her. Of course, she knew at that point that they were married in the eyes of his people, and perhaps she decided at that point, as many women probably did in the day, once you’re married to a man, you’re his to be taken.

I took more offense to poor Juanita’s treating at the direction of Ricardo and his men.

I will point out that I particularly enjoyed reading a less than raunchy story that included sex without becoming too graphic. A lot of authors seem hell-bent on getting so descriptive in the sex, they forget that there is more to the story than describing every throb and moist, thrust and such. There was plenty of sex that was written in such a way that you know what’s happening, can imagine it just fine, without blushing and needing to seek a priest afterwards.  Maybe I’m prudish, but I’d prefer reading sex that leaves something to the imagination rather than it being described in excruciating detail, as if sex was a new concept that warranted such descriptions.

Texas Lily by Patricia Rice

Publisher: ePublishing Works!

Publish Date: June 18, 2012

Price Point: $.99 (Kindle, Amazon.com)

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Interview with Julia Johnson

How do you come up with your ideas?

That’s like saying “How do you breathe?” I’m not entirely sure how it happens and I think that’s part of the fantastic thing about it. One day I’ll just be sitting around doing god knows what and all of a sudden I get hit with a proverbial ball of lightening. I honestly think storytellers are just people born with a character/story idea lightening rod buried in their brain.

How do you execute them in such a way that they take on lives of their own?

I try not to let me get in the way too much. I’m a natural worrier and over thinker, if I let that get in the way nothing gets written down and my characters don’t get a chance to live.  As such I almost never storyboard which I know is like, a cardinal sin, but every time I storyboard I don’t get past the first chapter of actual writing. The trick for me is just putting that pen to paper.  The story is there, I just have to let it out.

Do your characters ever take over your stories? If they do, how do you handle that?

They’re not my stories to begin with. It’s not my life being told, it’s the character’s so I supposed the answer is, yes of course they do. My characters are always the author of their own lives. And I hand it by letting it happen. You’ll notice I’m most certainly a character driven writer. Sometimes I’ll have a rigid storyline that I want to make happen but it always turns out that as the characters develop, I realize that I’m not being completely fair to them. To me, they’re not tools, they’re not a means to an end. They are the end. To me, character development is far more important than what they happen to be doing.

How do you decide what ideas you want to go with?

It starts something like this. Have an idea, obsess over it for a little while, tell said idea to trusted friend, really obsess about it and then eventually it becomes something that absolutely has to get written down unless you’re literally going to die if you don’t get it out. I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve felt like my head was going to explode with the ideas floating around in there.

Has there ever been a time in your writing career that you’ve ever wanted to give up and why/why not? What made you overcome your ‘self-doubt’?

Of course! I think I’m still having it. I was brought up in a very “find a job that will pay well” environment. I have never even told anyone that what I really want to do, more than anything in the world, is to write. Well, I guess I told you and your readers that just now. Sssh, it’s a secret. In all seriousness though, nearly every day I pelt myself with the self-doubt. “I’ll never be good enough to make a living this way.” “It’s just a hobby.” “When am I going to stop fooling myself and find a real career path?” Obviously this self-doubt thing is something I’m still working on. Perhaps not very well but life is a journey, right?

What was one character that you felt so emotionally attached to that you hated ‘hurting’ and why? How were you able to overcome that (if you were)?

Terra. Oh dear do I love her. She’s so sweet and naïve. She feels and she loves the way I wish I could. She’s pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted to be but felt I couldn’t because my emotions are all fecked up from a stereotypical bad childhood. For her story to work though, I had to break her. I tried finding ways around it. I wrote about 4 versions of the entire book she inhabits trying not to hurt her but the ending was always the same, she always had to come out on bottom. Overcoming that desire not to hurt her came from an understanding that everyone needs that moment to be almost completely broken. Everyone needs that scene n their lives where they’re lying on the floor, feeling completely alone, face just covered in tears, and their gut feeling like there’s a huge hole in it. Everybody need that so they can move onto the next scenes of getting up in spited of the hurt and pushing through. So for her sake, to make her a better, stronger person, I destroyed nearly everything she loved. I cried for a long time during and after those heart-wrenching pen strokes.

You obviously enjoy what you do. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Do what you love. It’s the most cliché thing ever written but the reason its cliché is because it’s true. Personally  I do it because I love characters and because I have a bit of a love affair with words themselves. If you can’t find something that you really, truly love about writing please stop and go find something that you just have to have in your life. Life is too short to waste your time doing something that you only feel halfway about.

If you couldn’t write another story (be a writer), what would you do with your life?

I… I don’t know. Stories are my life. They’re my way of coping. Even when I’m not writing, I’m telling stories. Even when I’m just keeping up my online journal I treat my life like a story. If I couldn’t do that… well I’d still be playing Dungeons and Dragons which in reality is just one big story you tell with some of your closest friends. More writer should play that. Sometimes we get to be too caught up in the holed up storyteller trope. It’s good to get out and do some social story telling. If there wasn’t D&D either… I’d be teaching (which is what I tell people I want to do anyways because somehow being a teacher is a more acceptable career choice than being a writer is).

What kind of rituals do you use to write (ie, a special pen, paper, lighting, drink)?

Blue pen (blue is for creativity, black is for essays and the like), 5 subject notebook. I also cannot be anywhere near the internet otherwise nothing gets done. I actually work best in places like class. I shouldn’t admit to that but it’s true.  My best stories come out of being bored in class and needing something better to pay attention to.

Do you like listening to music while you’re writing, and if so, what kind of music do you listen to?

Sometimes. Obviously not when I’m in class, but since I can’t write when I’m near the internet I inevitably do my writing when I’m out in public and therefore must drown people out. As for what I’m listening to: Blue October if it’s darkly emotional (MY SIDE NOTE: Julia is actually one of the people to introduce me to Blue October… what was it August of 2008 or right around there… fantastic band.), Jamie Cullum/Billie Holiday if there’s a soulful jazzy type feel to a character, Jerry Butler for love stories, general oldies for feel good moments.

Which one of your characters to date do you relate to most and why?

James. As short lived character from a short lived story. He was a raging alcoholic which isn’t my particular addiction but let’s just say I know what that’s life. He was broken in all the ways I am and it was like I was envisioning how awful my life could be if I wasn’t careful and proactive about things.

What made you choose the genre(s) you write?

I don’t even know what genre I’d be classified in. I guess young adult fiction. Although I’m sure the type of books I write would be banned in schools all across the country. I write a lot of supernatural fiction but I try my best not to let the reader realize they’re reading something supernatural until the last possible second. I’m obsessed with mixing supernatural with the ordinary in such a way that it all seems like it goes along naturally. If that makes any kind of sense. I’m sure it doesn.

What inspires you?

Other books, rainy days, clouds, people watching, life, the universe, and everything.

What new things are you working on?

Currently the Brightsmith series. It is a series of books chronicling the family tree of all my Dungeons and Dragon characters. It is filled with dragons impregnating young girls, half breeds, magic, monsters, and struggles to figure out everyone’s place in this strange ever changing place we call Earth. It’s like a bunch of coming of age stories except instead of awkward teenage humans you get thudded insanity of new and exciting species with a healthy dose of innate magical ability.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Don’t be afraid to be weird. I think as people we all need at least one eccentric habit and as writers we should strive for even more. Eccentricities make life more interesting and interesting lives lead to interesting stories and when it comes down to it, it’s all about the entertainment. Continue reading

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Interview with Robert Foster

Robert Foster

Author Bio:

Robert Foster was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1978. He studied Library Science and Information Management and currently works full time in the civil service. He has written poetry, short stories, novels, movie scripts, comic book scripts and reviews. Most of his work is in the horror and science-fiction genre.

Interview Questions:

How do you come up with your ideas?

It’s really difficult to say because ideas can come form anywhere. Often it’s just stuff that I see around me that triggers off an idea.

How do you execute them in such a way that they take on lives of their own?

A lot of it tends to be finding the right form for the idea whether it’s a long or short prose story, a movie script or a comic book idea.

Do your characters ever take over your stories? If they do, how do you handle that?

Yes, very often. When that happens I often just run with it and see where it takes the story.

How do you decide which ideas you want to go with?

I often just experiment with the ideas and see which ones really catch hold and stay with me.

Has there ever been a time in your writing career that you ever wanted to give up and why/why not? What made you overcome your ‘self doubt’?

All the time. It often comes down to feeling like what I’m doing isn’t any good and they don’t have the talent or skills to do it. I usually just try to push through the doubt and hope that it recedes.

What was one character that you felt so emotionally attached to that you hated ‘hurting’ and why? How were you able to overcome that (if you were)?

That does happen quite a lot. Some of the characters I do end up feeling really close to, and I hate hurting them in the story. When that happens I often just go with it if it’s for the good of the story, but sometimes, if it’s not really necessary, I’ll go easy on them and let them off! There was one character in particular from a long story that I wrote a few years ago who started out as a kind of minor character, but as I went on I really liked her and she developed into one of the leads.

You obviously enjoy what you do. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I think the best advice is to just try and go ahead with it, and to stick with it.

If you couldn’t write another story (be a writer), what would you do with your life?

I really don’t know what I’d do.

What kind of rituals do you use to write (ie, a special pen, paper, lighting, drink)? Do you listen to music while you’re writing, and if so, what kind of music do you listen to?

I don’t really have any particular writing rituals.

Which one of your characters to date do you relate to most and why?

There was one character in a long story that I wrote several years ago who I really identified with and enjoyed writing. I think partly because it was a character piece basically about this one person who pretty much took over the story. It was a lot of fun to do.

What made you chose the genre(s) you write?

Basically just whatever fits the story, really. I usually just try and write the things that I would want to read or see myself.

What inspires you?

There are so many different things! Inspiration can really come form anything and everything. Sometimes it’s a piece of music or just a feeling, or ust something I see on the street or a conversation.

What new things are you working on?

I’m working on a few short stories, a novel and also some comic book ideas.  Continue reading

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Miami Beat (Review)

Miami Beat: A Jose Castillo Mystery (Volume 1)

What the publisher/author says:

Jose Castillo is a cynical, wise-cracking Cuban-American who restores classic cars. He’s also a private eye whose sarcastic ways sometimes get him into trouble. One day in the process of installing a four-barrel carburetor on a 1965 Mustang, into his shop walks trouble—in the shape of a mysterious, beautiful woman surrounded by an entourage of goons. Mrs. Santana is the wife of one of Miami’s most well-known, successful and untouchable mobsters and she wants to avail herself of Jose’s services. What starts out as a job mediating a multi-million dollar casino land deal rapidly escalates into a case involving deceit, betrayal, blackmail and even two of Jose’s long estranged relatives. With the help of his fiancée Kat and best friend/police detective Nate, he hopes to untangle the mess quickly so he can enjoy a stiff drink and a fat stogie, but when things get hotter than usual in tropical Miami and a murder is committed, Jose has no choice but to keep his Glock close and his enemies closer. There’s no telling who you can trust when the temperature rises in Miami Beat.

What I say:

I started reading this shortly before bedtime and found myself not wanting to stop. You immediately meet Jose, a private eye, with a love for cigars and his girl, Kat. The story is set in Miami, and there is a strong connection to the culture and cuisine (man was I starved reading this). In my head, Jose looks a lot like Angel Batista from Dexter.

I really enjoyed the banter between characters, and it felt like real conversations you’d expect. The author doesn’t shy away from using seemingly derogatory words for his own people, and other people, which adds to the believablity of the story. Jose and Nate’s conversations were my favorite, as well as the reaction of the patrons who probably never heard such talk (without worry of a race war). Jose was witty, and he liked to push the envelope.

The author included real locations, some places most people would not probably recognize had they not been to the area. Add to the mix a little bit of Spanish, and a little bit of Cuban bread and it had me longing to return to Miami (man… there are these cheese pastries we always get there that are to die for, and Abuela used to always take us to the flea market. Grandparents, they love their flea markets).

The story wrapped up a little quickly at the end, which I respect the author for, (no long, painful, drawn out conclusion). I suspected the mastermind behind the crime but only towards the end, and I like the fact that not only is it left open for additional stories, more cases for the great Jose to solve. The story left things wrapped up neatly, and I wonder what will become of Jose Castillo. I’m also interested to see what will happen now that Lesson is without a boss to think for him.

Miami Beat by Jorge Goyanes

Publisher: Ampersand Editions, Incorporated

Publish Date: April 16, 2012

Price Point: $3.99 (Kindle), $10.99 (paperback) through Amazon

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Interview with Ily Goyanes

As a reader, I love to get to know the person behind the story. As an author, there’s nothing more I like to do than reach out and get to know my readers.  In this posting, you’ll get to know an author by the name of Ily Goyanes.  I had the privilege of sharing emails (as it is often impossible to find a quiet moment to actually speak to anyone anymore, thanks to the terrible twos, plus being in two different time zones doesn’t exactly help matters).  She was so gracious to take my list of questions and answer them for me, which is no small feat as Ms. Goyanes is a very busy woman.

Ily Goyanes

How do you come up with your ideas?

That’s a hard question for me to answer, because inspiration comes to me in many forms. Sometimes a fellow editor is seeking submissions for an anthology and I will mull the concept over for a minute and a plot and characters just take shape in my mind. Sometimes I’ll hear, read, or see something that immediately sparks either a character or a plot and the rest just blooms from there.

How do you execute them in such a way that they take on lives of their own?

It’s a subconscious thing. Once I start typing, the characters don’t need any help from me. I don’t ‘think’ during ninety percent of my writing. Here and there I’ll get stuck or the characters want to take a nap or something, and that’s when my consciousness takes over and says, ‘Hey, what? What’s going on? Somebody need me?’

Do your characters ever take over your stories? If they do, how do you handle that?

Yes, they do, and I just let them. They speak and plot much better than I do.

How do you decide which ideas you want to go with?

I usually go with my gut. When an idea strikes me, I either fall in love with it or shrug. When I’m smitten I go with it.

Has there ever been a time in your writing career that you ever wanted to give up and why/why not? What made you overcome your ‘self-doubt’?

Hmmm. I’d say the only times I’ve considered chucking it, have been during really bleak financial times. I’m very fortunate in that I am able to make a living from writing, but that hasn’t always been the case – and even still – sometimes it can get very dry which makes the day to day difficult. I’ve held so many jobs you wouldn’t believe. It’s almost like I can’t function or thrive unless I’m writing. And this is coming from someone who made almost 60k a year in her twenties. I just can’t thrive intellectually and emotionally. It’s like I’m stunted if I’m in an office. So, once in a while, I think it would be nice to making a fat, steady paycheck again. But then I remember that no amount of money in the world is worth putting up with meaningless chit chat.

What was one character that you felt so emotionally attached to that you hated ‘hurting’ and why? How were you able to overcome that (if you were)?

The only characters I’ve hated hurting have been in real life.

You obviously enjoy what you do. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read, read, and then read some more. As an editor and publisher, one thing I’ve noticed, is how many ‘writers’ are out there, submitting work, and they don’t know how to use punctuation or spell check. There is no excuse for that. You can pick up a book and check out how dialogue is written. See? The quotation mark goes after the period, not before. Reading good lit elevates your writing ability. Not just the mechanics, but overall. Plain and simple.

If you couldn’t write another story (be a writer), what would you do with your life?

Funny, I was talking to a friend recently, and mentioned that the only job I miss is tending bar. I bartended at Churchill’s Pub, which is a gritty, dive bar — the first place Marilyn Manson ever played, I believe. It’s the CGBG of Miami and I loved tending bar there. It was a blast and rarely felt like work. If work feels like work, it’s time to do something else.  I’d either bartend or become a professional pool player.

What kind of rituals do you use to write (ie, a special pen, paper, lighting, drink)?

I prefer to write in my home office with the door locked and the lights on. I write on a computer, can’t do pen and paper anymore. Technology has both spoiled and enslaved me.

Do you listen to music while you’re writing, and if so, what kind of music do you listen to?

The short answer is no, I don’t write with music on. I react physically to music, so when it’s playing, I get so into it that I’m pulled out of my writing. Occasionally, I’ll play something instrumental, preferably Monk or Coltrane, and that’ll work for thirty minutes or so before I start to get distracted. I hear about all these writers who write while listening to music and I wonder how they do it.

Which one of your characters to date do you relate to most and why?

The main character in “Come to Me” which appeared in Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 is most like me now. She is actually based on me (the entire story is based on a real experience) so her outlook, her sense of humor, all very much me. Thomas, a bisexual teen in my story “His & Hers” reminds me of myself as a teen. He’s very insolent, uses his intellect for evil instead of good, and gets it on with both men and women as much as he can. He’s a bit of a slut.

What made you choose the genre(s) you write?

I’d say I chose mystery, horror, and contemporary fiction because of my love for them. I was reading Dean Koontz, Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, and Clive Barker at eleven, twelve years old. Erotica chose me. I didn’t get into reading it until my late teens, maybe even early twenties, but it was never an obsessive thing — I think mainly because the quality of the writing wasn’t what is now. After years of trying to be a normal person with a normal job, I decided to get back into writing professionally and that usually means taking a low or no-paying job to build your portfolio, and I applied to be a national lgbt erotica columnist. I started reading all this wonderful stuff and meeting all these really talented authors and they inspired me. Before that my only erotica story had been a short I wrote for a writer’s group a friend and I had put together.

What inspires you?

It can be anything really. Sometimes a lyric in a song, a news story, a kid, a conversation.

What new things are you working on?

I’m working on a mystery novel based on a brother and sister team and I also have a few erotica anthologies in the works. I launched a small press this year, Ampersand Editions, which is keeping me almost too busy to write though, honestly.

Anything else you’d like to add?

If you want to be a writer, study the craft. I see a lot of writers submitting stuff when they’re not ready. Go over your work a million times, take a week off, and then go over it a million more. If you can, hire a professional to proof your work and pay attention to the corrections so that you learn from your mistakes.

If you’re a reader, thank you. We couldn’t do it without you.  Continue reading

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