Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Su Halfwerk

What could be more fitting on All Hallows' Eve than to welcome a writer of truly terrifying horror stories?And what's more, today you get two blog posts for the price of one because, having recently read and thoroughly enjoyed Su Halfwerk's impressive collection Hellbound, I'm reviewing that, immediately after this post from its incredibly talented author.  For now, though, it's over to Su.

Why Write Horror? 

The short and simple answer is: Why not?

Horror—defined as an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting; a shuddering fear—is a genre that has been frowned upon for a long time. It used to be hidden in the darkest corners of a bookshop or video rental outlet, right next to pornography. That's when I discovered it (horror, not pornography) and started reading, watching, and finally writing it.

It was forbidden, therefore, a must-do.

I'm a stubborn rebel. When I was younger, I wanted to be different, to stand out, and to make a difference. Upon reading The Shining by Stephen King—my first horror book—I felt...enlightened. I'm still stubborn (a bit) and a rebel (sometimes), however, now I do it with style.

Scaring is caring.

People have personal demons, even the homey-looking grandmother knitting in the corner. Each comes up with their own methods to cope with or eradicate these fears/demons/obsessions. I uproot mine by writing the ideas lurking in my mind and add a twist of lemon, a dollop of vinegar, and a dash of garlic to flavor them and then share the outcome with anyone willing to read. Imagination can be merciless at times, however, it's what authors count on. Not their imagination, but the readers'.

Fear fascinates.

The investigation of a weird sound in the cemetery, late at night, and on your own, is not a smart move, but let's face it; deep inside, we're all happy that someone else is swaddled with the task of looking into it. I took it upon myself to be the one giving others, from the safety of their sofas or beds, a peek at what could be out there.

They say misery loves does fear, I believe. When I share my fears with you, dear reader, I hope you take it as I present it; an opportunity to connect with the things dwelling in the dark. In me.

About Sue Halfwerk:

Su Halfwerk writes in the horror and paranormal romance genres. From a tender age, the written word left a strong impression on her, later on terrifying, blood-chilling books became the object of her interest. Su’s style in horror combines shuddery terror with elements of surprise; some would even call it an enigmatic twist. In the world of paranormal romance, she transforms the desire to scare into a quest to seduce and tantalize.

Other books by Su Halfwerk

When not writing, Su is designing book trailers and cover art for herself and other authors.

You can find Su online here: Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Novel Prevue

Hellbound - Manic Scribbler's Review

It's been a long time since I've read any really dark horror stories (my tastes must have mellowed with age) but I was drawn to the cover of Hellbound from the first time I saw it and knew I had to read it. 

What an amazing mind this author must have.  She seems to have plucked characters from her worst nightmares and breathed life into them as she weaves incredible stories around them.  Around Bart, the greedy morgue attendant in The Deadening and the sinister Pain-letter; around Stan, the phony medium in The Substitute, suddenly blessed with second sight; and around Troy whose lust for Jenna brings out his true nature.  Each story is layered with complexity to be unpeeled like a toxic, eye-stinging onion.

Su Halfwerk builds up the atmosphere with the horror and just when you think you've reached the peak (or should I say nadir?) in each story, she plunges you deeper still until, like so many of the characters, you get a true taste of Hell.

Thanks, Su Halfwerk - I've no idea how I'm going to sleep after reading this!!  It definitely deserves my five cute cats award!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Three Writers, One Genre - Horror! (Part Four)

I personally love stories about houses with history, with ghosts, with attitude.  Such places become characters in the story and few writers can lure me in to their haunted house stories better than Tara Fox Hall.  Alongside her superb story The Chalet, All That Remains, with its deliciously scary Latham's Landing ranks as my own favourite among this talented author's works.  All That Remains is one of the stories in the awesome anthology, Bedtime Shadows and Tara is particularly proud of it because it was her very first short horror work written some years ago. 

I'm therefore delighted to present an excerpt from Tara's personal favourite story:

All That Remains
               We went back to the car, me shoving her and her protesting. When we were on route back, I told her.
               “You can’t have found a filling, Tina. The windows in there were soldered together, some of them. It must have been a bit of lead—”
               “I know solder and lead, and this was neither, this was silver. And there was a little tooth chunk stuck to it!”
               “So some kids were fighting, and one of them got in a lucky punch. It’s nothing.”
               “I don’t care!” I shot back. “I’m leaving!”
               We rode the next few minutes in silence back to the landing, relief washing through me when the little house of glass faded from view.
               I began untying the raft, as Sandy parked the car and shut the garage door.
               She was just walking down the granite steps to me, and I was imagining how good a hamburger was going to taste when she stopped.
               “I heard something,” she said, turning to look back at the main house.
               “I heard nothing, Sandy. Let’s get going.”
               “Hey, what if some of those kids are here, Tina? That soda bottle wasn’t that old. This is a historical site.”
               “They can wander around then!” I shouted. “I’m not going to chase after them!”
               “We left the door open yesterday, Tina!” she shouted back. “What if the kids light the house on fire, or something? It’ll be my fault! I had to sign a paper to get the key!”
               “We’ll go back and get Fred! He can come look for them!”
               “He’s gone until tonight! He won’t be able to look until morning! And we’re right here!”
               “Fuck it, I’m leaving! You can stay here if you want!”
               “After all Fred’s done for us, I’m not going to leave here without checking it out!”
She turned and bolted up the stairs, running for the entrance.
               Fuck! I retied the boat, and ran after her. When I got to the entrance, Sandy was nowhere in sight.
               I got inside, and let my eyes adjust to the gloom. By my watch, either we’d lost time again, or the time we’d spent at the sea house had taken longer than I’d thought. It was about two p.m.
               I walked the first floor, the second floor, and the third floor, following Sandy’s steps and my own from yesterday. I didn’t see anyone, or any signs of anyone being there but us.
               I walked back downstairs, wondering if I should check outside, when I heard a noise. I turned, and out of the corned of my eye, reflected in a broken hall mirror, I swore I got a glimpse of a young man in a red plaid shirt and jeans, his arms flailing wildly as he shouted soundlessly. But when I whipped around, there was no one there. Darting a look back at the mirror, I expected to see nothing. Instead, I saw the man there, looking back at me from the mirror, grinning at me, his eyes tinted yellow.
               I let out a shriek and ran for the front door. I got as far as the stairs, and then stopped with a whimper.
               There was a young boy on the stairs in front of me.
               “Father, I’m so glad to see you,” he said gratefully, his innocent face breaking into a smile. “I looked for you, and couldn’t find you!”
               “I’m not your father,” I whispered.
               The boy came closer, his light blue eyes shining. “I’m so glad you’re here. It seemed like such a long time I’ve been looking for you.”
               “Where is my friend?” I grated out, making myself get closer. “What are you?”
               The boy tilted his head and studied me, but didn’t reply.
               I took another step closer. “Get out of my way.”
               “Stay,” the boy said, his voice no longer grateful.
               I lost it. I grabbed hold of him, expecting him to fade into smoke or disappear, but instead it was like reaching into ice water. I gasped in shock as my hands clasped onto bony arms, and the boy let loose a snarl, his eyes narrowing to red pinpricks as he bared his teeth and tried to sink them into my hand.

And if All That Remains doesn't become one of your favourite stories from Bedtime Shadows, I'll eat my broomstick!  

Happy Halloween everyone.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Three Writers, One Genre - Horror! (Part Three)

I asked my three scary guests about their own favourite fictional creations and left you last week with an excerpt from Su's preferred story, The Substitute - one of the stories in her outstanding Hellbound anthology.  I've kept you waiting a week for the other two, but I hope you'll agree it was worth it.

Jenny (Mrs Go-with-the-flow) is inclined to change her mind about her personal favourite according to what she's working on, which is no bad thing because it shows her total enthusiasm for her work.  But she does admit to being a little bit proud of The Man with no Face, the first story in the new Bedtime Shadows anthology.  This meets the format of the ideal horror story, starting off quite gently but with a certain intrigue and building up to a powerful crescendo and shock-ending.  "I tried to do the literary equivalent of the end of the film Carrie, when the hand comes shooting up out of the grave," Jenny says. 

Well, we're not going to reveal the ending, but here is the beginning and I'm delighted to share it because it's one of my favourites too.

The Man with no Face

I read somewhere that most people have no memory before the age of five and that very few indeed can remember anything before the age of two. It's not that babies can't think. It's that they haven't learnt how to save their thoughts as memories.

But I have a memory much earlier than that.

I am sitting in my pram. I know I am in a pram because the hood is up and the view in front of me is framed by the edge of the hood. I can see this very clearly. It has a trim of elasticated material, black with a white pattern. The pattern may be writing. I can't tell because I am too young to read. Through the hood, in front of me, is a garden, bounded by a high brick wall. The wall is covered in a riot of red flowers. I know now the plant is Japonica but in the memory I have no words for anything. In the middle of the garden there are two people locked in a clumsy embrace. Either they are standing very still or the memory is a still picture – a snapshot in time.

I can see the woman very clearly. She is wearing a white cotton frock with a pattern of tiny blue flowers. Her face is turned towards me and it bears an expression of anguish. I think she is my mother.
But I can't see the man clearly at all. I'm not even sure it is a man. But I think it is. He is a shadowy figure, one hand gripping my mother, if she is my mother, the other held over his head. He is holding something aloft, something long and thin – a stick perhaps. I can't see it clearly at all. Everything about the man is out of focus.
I have always believed that if I could just see his face, if I could identify him, I would understand everything.

Now how can you not want to read on after that?

Join me on Monday for Tara's excerpt.  I was so thrilled with her choice because it's my personal favourite of  all Tara's stories in the wonderful Bedtime Shadows.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Adelle Laudan

A woman’s strength is beyond physical muscle or brute force. The strength of a woman is one of intuition, pride and determination—emotional toughness that protects children and loved ones, and enables her to stand up to the more masculine energies in life. This is what I believe distinguishes woman’s strength from that of a man.

In my new series, Women of Strength, I will introduce you to women from different walks of life, women who rise above adversity and physical limitations.  The first three women are Juliana, Rosa, and Shani—three very different women with a common bond. All of them are on a journey of healing, self-discovery, and hope. These women must conquer fears, forgive past wrongs, and come to terms with their inner selves.
Do difficulties in life really make one stronger? Can a shattered heart ever heal enough to love again? When one’s life seems hopeless, what lengths will one go to find hope?
Let me introduce you to the first three…

Shani is a woman of color, adopted by loving parents. After her mothers' untimely death, she learns of a deep, dark secret that makes her question everything about her life and those who loved her.
How often do we search for answers and find they are not necessarily what we want to hear? Is time a great healer, or are some things unforgivable?

Juliana spent the entire duration of her marriage a prisoner in her home. Subject to unspeakable abuse, her escape came in the form of her husbands' sudden death. She must now step into a world she had almost forgotten existed... Join Juliana on her healing journey where she learns Love IS Good.

Rosa is deaf. She was adopted by loving parents after her mother died in childbirth. Rosa teaches deaf children music. At her 21st birthday party she crosses paths with the manager of the band, Devon Barnes. The first encounter is not, pleasant when Devon mistakes her deafness for being rude. Is Devon simply another man who sees her being deaf as also being mentally challenged? Why is she attracted to such a man?

Thank you Lynette for having me here on the 5th day of my Women of Strength Blog Tour. 
Each month I will add a new Woman of Strength.
I hope you will enjoy this ongoing series.
Please leave a comment and I will randomly pick one winner to receive  this calendar magnet for 2013 and this lovely steampunk pewter, symbol for woman charm. All names will go in a draw to win your choice of one of these three stories.

Please feel free to visit me on the next stop of my blog tour. You will find the schedule HERE

Woman of Strength - Links to purchase as wells as Info on Contest

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Three Writers, One Genre - Horror! (Part 2)

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

During our scary night in, I probed my three talented guests (Jenny Twist, Su Halfwerk and Tara Fox Hall) about the writers who had inspired their own imaginations. As you can guess, Stephen King's name (actually, I'm beginning to wonder if, as far as the horror genre is concerned, that shouldn't be King Stephen) cropped up more than twice. Jenny considers his book On Writing to be the Bible of any aspiring horror writer, though she also acknowledges one of my favourite writers, Ray Bradbury for her inspiration along with James Herbert, Stephen Laws and John Wyndham (you know, The Triffids guy).

Tara generously credits King with her childhood nightmares as well as her inspiration (well she did start reading him at the tender age of eight when she first read Pet Sematary. I doubt her parents were aware of that though, so let's keep it quiet). What she particularly likes about the master of horror is not the gore but the psychological insights and suspense he creates in stories like The Body and Stand by Me. This fascination with the human psyche is clearly evident in her own writing.

Su admires King's smooth writing style and facility with words but for her darker thrills, she turns to Brian Lumley "because of his Necroscope series and his creative take on vampires. He made them do delicious things." Oh Su, what would your Mum say?!

Of course being an avid reader of these three luminaries here present, I know which stories of theirs I like best, but I was particularly interested to hear which of their stories they rated as their own favourites, and after a couple of glasses of wine (well it was a very hard task requiring a lot of internal - and also a fair bit of external - debate), I persuaded them to tell me.

Su chose The Substitute one of the three stories in the really excellent anthology: Hellbound. She didn't need to elaborate on her reasons - You'll see yourself from the excerpt below. A word of warning: don't read it just before bedtime!

Tara told us: "I favor my Latham’s Landing stories above my other works, probably because the story All That Remains was my very first short horror work years ago." Aww! Pull on the heartstrings, why don't you, Tara? We'll judge for ourselves when we read the excerpt I wrenched from her at great personal cost very soon (hint: she's right of course - when isn't she?).

Jenny (I'm told her family and best friends do agree she changes her mind often) says "My favourite changes, of course, depending on what I've most recently been working on. But I am rather proud of the first story in Bedtime Shadows, The Man with no Face. I think it complies with all my criteria – short, starting off as a little intriguing but not too alarming, then slowly gathering pace to reach a crescendo with the ending which (I hope) comes as a shocking surprise. I tried to do the literary equivalent of the end of the film, Carrie, when the hand comes shooting up out of the grave." Well I, for one, wouldn't disagree with that at all. When I first read it, I honestly thought a ghostly hand had come out of my past to plunder my own infant memories! Shiver! Jenny Twist's stories often have that effect on me, which must be why I can relate to them so well (unless she's some sort of...hmm...well, let's not go there).

I'm going to post all three wonderful excerpts during the next week, but am starting with Su's today, so, once again, are you sitting quite comfortably? Then we'll let Su begin:

Stan’s mind churned, working rapidly to come up with a proper response, but the bloody thing froze, unable to produce a single plausible excuse. This wasn't helping his business; it would ruin him. Half of his clientèle came to him through word of mouth.
Then it happened. That damned switch turned inside of him and his lips moved against his will. A raspy ancient voice croaked out of his throat, “Ha! Jas, the macho man. Jas, the bad boy in leather. Jas, the wife beater! Wife killer!”
Jason’s face paled; his lips trembled. Stan couldn't blame him.
“I didn't mean to push you down the stairs,” Jason babbled. “You just fell.”
The thing on the floor snapped her head to the right and then left, making popping sounds in the process. “I always fall. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Clumsy meeee.”
Jason hiccuped a cry and went on his knees in front of the desk. “Please say that you forgive me. I want to hear it one more time. I've cheated on you, beaten you up, and you took it all. Now I see that my ways were wrong, that my unjust actions have damned me for eternity.”
Stan’s mouth moved in an age-old cackle. “You think I minded that you stuck your ding-a-ling in any hole you found? It was a blessing, it meant I was spared the degradation of screwing you. Even the beating was fine. But the killing? No!”
Jason flinched.
“Remember when I tried to walk out and you cut off my pinky? What a klutz I've been, chopping off my own finger while cutting onion. That’s what I had to say to that chauvinist arrogant doctor.”
“A-a-all I want is your forgiveness.” Sniff. “If I could take it all back, I would.”
“You can. First, dig out my body from our basement and clear my name in front of our kids. I didn't run off with the gardener. Second, take out your .22 and shoot yourself in the groin. Finally, lay down on the ground and enjoy the pain until you die.” She snapped her head around again. “I might forgive you then, but I’ll also be waiting for you.” She flashed those teeth again, her smile no different from her grimace.
Jason fell on the ground, face down, weeping and slapping his hand on the wooden floor.
Stan watched his client and his dead wife in horror. A maggot travelled through one of Patricia’s cheeks to an eye, and she chose that perfect moment to wink at Stan. He almost threw up.

See what I mean about it being a must read?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Three Writers, One Genre - Horror! (Part One)

Like everyone else, I've been getting myself in the mood for Halloween this month by reading horror stories from three of my favourite modern writers in the genre: Jenny Twist, Su Halfwerk and Tara Fox-Hall  As always when I read, I want to ask the writers questions and so I thought, why not?  To help celebrate Halloween, therefore, I invited these three extremely talented writers round for a scary night in and I thought I would share some the highlights with you over my next few blog posts.
I feel I should almost say, four writers, because all three of them mentioned one specific writer whose work they enjoy or feel inspired by and he seemed to be very much present in spirit.  Of course I'm referring to the great Stephen King.  (I did try phoning him, but he was busy, busy, busy - the time of year, I expect). Unlike their hero, however, my three writers prefer the short story genre, seeing it as an art-form in itself. 

"There is something exquisite about the perfectly constructed horror story," says Jenny.  "They can deliver a timely surprise or twist realistically without dragging it over hundreds of pages," Su explains.  "The longer the story, the easier to figure out its ending and/or the faster a reader is fed up with it."  Showing her practical side, Tara adds: "Short stories are quick to write. I can finish one, if properly inspired, in a day or so. These are also usually relatively easy to place with a publisher, compared with a novel, because so many places publish short horror fiction."

Tara Fox Hall
But what made them choose to write horror in the first place?  Tara explained that she suffers from nightmares (well, maybe that's all those horror stories you read, Tara?) and the process of writing scenes from these is cathartic.  Our irrepressible joker then adds: " I also enjoy scaring people, and since locking peers in the basement is no longer effective—and has only an immediate reach—I had to graduate to more sophisticated ways, like fiction."  Su, who will be my guest on this blog on Halloween Day to talk about her thrilling (and believe me it is!) collection entitled Hellbound, plans to make us all wait until then to divulge her reasons while Jenny simply fell in love with the genre after devouring the stories of M. R. James and the entire Pan Book of Horror series at a young age.

When I asked them about scary moments in their own lives, Jenny recounted a toe-curling experience of living in an isolated Oxfordshire farmhouse that should have auditioned for the 'Amytiville Horror' movie.  "Horrible things happened to us in that house," she told us, "and we used to fantasise about previous tenants committing murders to explain the awful atmosphere of the place.

Jenny Twist
 One night there was a dreadful storm. The wind shrieked around the house like a woman screaming. The doors and windows rattled as if something was trying to get in. And the big picture window in the kitchen bowed in and out, distorting the reflection of the room. We were afraid it would break (and let in the nightmare creatures outside?) so we hoisted the kitchen table in front of it, hoping it would hold it in place. Then we sat in the living room, clutching each other in terror as things stalked the night outside."
Of course it was only a storm. Wasn’t it? Wasn’t it?  The jury's still out on that one, Jenny…

Su Halfwerk
Su on the other hand told us the story of losing her five year old in a busy shopping mall for a full ten minutes.  Now that's a real life horror story every parent in the world knows and tries to avoid.  Just remembering back to losing track of my two year old in IKEA many years ago has made my hair stand on end.  Seeing this, Tara takes pity on me and decides I've had enough scary stories for one evening.

She's probably right.  I do hope you'll join me on Sunday for the next instalment, which will include the scariest excerpts from their own scary stories as chosen by them.  If you like horror, you won't want to miss it.  Take my spooky word for it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Nicola Trwst

Having written my own first romantic suspense, I'm ashamed to say it's not a genre I read very often.  To rectify that, I chose to read The Belvedere Club by the very talented Nicola Trwst and this is what I'm reviewing this week.

Excited readers sometimes talk about good books as being 'unputdownable' but sadly not every book we read falls into that category.  The Belvedere Club, however, is definitely one that does!  From the first page the story romps along one unpredictable path after another abounding with humour, with pathos and often gripping suspense. It's a well-paced and beautifully-crafted story.

The heroine, Briana is a likeable young Irish woman who has had more than her fair share of slings and arrows hurled at her, yet still manages to hold onto her sanity and her sense of humour.  "Everyone I love dies," she tells Dusty midway through the story after hitting one of her low points.  "I'm like an Irish plague on two legs."  I found it impossible not to feel sympathy for this woman once I saw beneath the bright and sometimes brittle front she puts on to keep her pain at bay.

As a photojournalist, Briana is called out by her colleague and best friend, Haylee, to Marin County where the more senior reporter has stumbled upon a story of 'Pulitzer' proportions involving the Belvedere Club.  This is a rather quaint ladies' country club with closely observed rules and traditions.   Unfortunately, by the time Briana arrives, Haylee has been murdered (at the club) and Briana, with the help and sometimes hindrance of the quirky and aloof sheriff, Dusty, a practising Buddhist, sets out to unravel the curious leads left by Haylee to discover the story and identify the killer.

Nicola Trwst is an accomplished storyteller, leading the reader through the investigation process through Briana's eyes so that it unfolds before us as it does before her.  The clever twists and turns the story takes is exactly what make it 'unputdownable'.  There is no superfluity in this story.  It is beautifully and vividly told and the reader is kept guessing and working throughout.  And that's just as a great story should be.  On top of the gripping mystery is the heart-warming friendship that gradually unfolds between Briana and Dusty.  It isn't a simple romance - it's something rather more satisfying (although I've already played out the sequel in my head so I know what happens between them - and, believe me, that is romantic!)

When I downloaded this story, I hoped I would like it, but I never expected to enjoy it quite as much as I did.  A thoroughly good read and one I would highly recommend.  It's totally worthy of my full five cute kitties award.

The Blurb

Marin County California, one of the wealthiest counties in the country, boasts home to The Belvedere Club, an exclusive woman’s club that makes Augusta National Golf Club look like a community center. High on a hill overlooking the majestic San Francisco Bay, Old World charm mingles with New World money while perfumed doyennes hide secrets and share tasty gossip. Tree-sitters need not apply. Haylee Macklin, journalist with Washington DC’s District Dispatch, interviews the club’s Chanel clad president and other society page matrons for a tell-all exposé.

But Haylee turns up dead. Her dearest friend, Briana Kaleigh, photojournalist for the same daily, dashes across the country braving a snowstorm, a high-strung poodle, and the cultural divide to find the killer. When Briana uncovers an internet porno ring, she leads the police astray, almost closing the homicide investigation for good. Briana first alienates the Buddhist sheriff working the case, but gradually wins him over with her Irish charm. After many dead-ends and a second murder, the only hope to find the killer is a blind bag lady spouting clichés.

About the Author

Nicola Trwst has a gypsy heart. She currently resides in California, but has lived in Virginia, Georgia, France, and Canada. She loves languages and speaks several, including Pig Latin. Due to an overactive imagination, her stories thread many genres such as mystery, thriller, paranormal, and contemporary. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies.
Discover Nicola’s work at  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Daily Prompts For Your Books from Mary Muse Charmer

In my Wednesday's Writer spot, I'm delighted to hand over my blog to the rather wonderful Mary Calesto who has something intriguing to tell us about using writing prompts to inspire our work.

There’s some truth in the old adage, “write what you know.” Granted, most of us don’t hang out with vampires, or deal with shape shifters and demon hunters, but we do have several times during the day when our muse gets prompted. After all, I tend to write pagan romances. Part of this is enjoyment on my part. As a Wiccan woman, I love to see my religion accurately portrayed in fiction (witches and magick are an oft abused trope in romance and fantasy), but also, because I can draw on my deep feelings toward my spirituality and the “warm fuzzy” emotions that writing (and reading) romance tends to evoke. It’s why I love to put pets in my books, too, because I can draw on my own experience as being owned by cats or taking care of a beloved dog.

Combine things that happen in our lives with the “what if” game and we get quite the rich tapestry from which to weave our stories. What if she missed the big meeting and instead found out her job was taken by an old college crush? What if he had to juggle his busy career, being a single parent, and now runs into the one who got away in high school? What if she wakes up and finds out her neighbor is a vampire? And what if she discovers that her life as a single-mom and pastry cook is turned upside down by a calling to fight demons?

Pretty hefty questions, and any of them could spark a book (or three!). And yet, even for the supernatural stories, the core of them came from our daily lives. Who doesn’t want to find out the mundane suddenly is normal, and reality is something completely different and far more exciting and sexy? Our every day lives become springboards for multiple book ideas. That’s the beauty of writing prompts.

But if you feel your life just doesn’t lend itself to writing prompts, then I encourage you to check out writing prompt books. These make fun exercises for groups, or individually, and they can help you train your inspiration to move quickly, something that’s great if your preferred writing length is in the novella (20-40K range or shorter). It’s why I wrote my book UseYour Muse: Writing Prompts for Romance Writers, because writing prompts can be so powerful in working with your inspirational muse and training it to create the stories your readers will love!

While I certainly think you should check out my book, I also encourage you to look at your daily life to see what writing prompts you can discover. You might be surprised.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Highs and Lows and Killer Reviews

When there's a high, a low usually seems to follow.  It's a pity, but that's a fact of life.  I had a high this week in that I did something quite different.  I collaborated with my son to write a short sci-fi story.  We published it together and felt reasonably happy about it, waiting anxiously to see what people thought.

And then came the low.  One of those kiss of death three star reviews within hours of release.  But hello, the reviewer proclaimed "Sci-fi just doesn't grab me...."  This was written by someone who has read my other titles and was disappointed that I'd strayed from the rose-tinted path of romance into thorny pastures new. 

We made it very clear this story was science fiction - even putting my son's name first as the author, so why would an avid romance fan go and download a sci-fi story and then complain because it was a sci-fi story?  It makes me feel like running away somewhere to find a cave to hide away from humankind and its strange, unfathomable ways.

Ah well.  I'm pleased and proud I wrote a story with my son.  It was a fun experiment and we enjoyed it and had hoped to write more in this genre.  Unfortunately my son became quite disheartened by the review and his interest has flagged somewhat.  But who know, perhaps after a few more people read it and (hopefully) have something constructive to say about it, he will change his mind.

The story is set in a surveillance society of the not too distant future.  Brandon and Claire Avery lost their firstborn at the age of six and are naturally very anxious to do all they can to ensure tragedy doesn't strike again.  But Harrison, now also six, shows all the signs of being a child prodigy and genius in this strange new world is a very dangerous thing.  Harrison's development is monitored closely by Russell Carr, a government doctor who will show no compassion to the parents if Harrison is designated a genius.

Warning: Surveillance is a science fiction story of approximately 40 pages.  Please don't download it if you dislike the genre. It is currently available from Amazon, price 77p.

About the authors:

Alexander is a child of the 80s who holds degrees in Computer Science and Law.  He currently works as a computer programmer for the financial industry in the City of London but somehow manages to squeeze an unhealthy number of videogames and RPGs into his busy schedule.

Lynette usually writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense but, in the days when she did more reading than writing, was an avid reader of science fiction - as well as practically every other genre. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lynette Sofras: My Next Big Thing

I was thrilled to be tagged last week by the supremely talented Paula Martin to answer 10 questions about my next release which will be published next month.  To read about Paula's Next Big Thing, which sounds very exciting, you can visit Paula's blog - and I recommend you do!

Here is what I certainly hope will be MY next BIG thing:

What is the working title of your book?
Actually, I just referred to it as the Greek Story.  The name In Loving Hate (which is one of those oxymorons in Romeo and Juliet) didn't come until after I'd finished writing it. Anyone who has followed my posts will know how much I agonise and obsess over titles!  I'm struggling right now with with a title for my WIP...I feel a headache coming on just thinking about it.  Help!

Where did the idea come from for the book?
This was a snip of a dream I had about a young woman in a London street glancing up at a top window of her elegant family home in central London, because she sensed someone was watching her. She herself felt something of an outsider, having spent several years away from home and when she went to investigate who the stranger was, she received quite a considerable shock.  When I woke up, the whole story started sliding into place. 

What genre does your book fall under?
It's my first (but hopefully not my last) foray into romantic suspense.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Emilia Fox as Lyssa
Eduardo Verastegui as Alex
This is always so hard for me - but what fun!  When I started poking around on Google for ideas, I really started enjoying myself.  Lyssa needs to be beautiful enough to "pierce hearts" but with that aura of vulnerability to her.  I think actress Emilia Fox would certainly be able to do her justice!  Now I've never seen the work of the next three actors but they leapt off the screen at me and I just had to share them.  Alex Andrakis looks like this rather gorgeous guy, Eduardo Verastegui (though the equally gorgeous John Barrowman would probably do quite as well, if he could master the accent!)  But I also found two other important characters.  Nell looks like Selma Blair while Mark definitely looks something like Josh Hartnett.  I'll have to watch these actors in action.  Oh, but right from the start, when this story first popped into my head, I modelled Lyssa's mother, Dame Constance Culver on our own wonderful actress, Dame Maggie Smith, currently starring in Downton Abbey - but believe me, I had her earmarked long before that!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts! Is Alex offering Lyssa his heart, or trying to ensnare hers for more sinister reasons?  (Sorry,  I know that's two sentences but it's the publisher's tagline).

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
MuseItUp Publications is the publisher.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  
This is hard because I actually wrote this story a long time ago when I was living in Greece but then forgot about it.  I totally revamped it recently, which didn't take very long at all - perhaps two or three months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 
Impossible to say.  Rather like Paula, I just don't compare books in that way.  Someone else would have to answer this.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
There's no doubt that some of the inspiration came from actual experience.  I wanted to write a story set in both Athens and London and with Greek and British characters showing the good and bad sides of both.  

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I hope the glamorous and rather dangerous world of the extremely rich and powerful will intrigue readers.  These are people who know what they want and go out to get it at any cost.  And that the strong friendship between Lyssa and Nell and also between Lyssa and widower Alex's young son, will hold their interest throughout.  Lyssa finds herself plunged into an intrigue between bitter business rivals, Nell and Alex, which is so complex and tortuous that she almost begins to doubt her own sanity.  

Selma Blair as Nell

Josh Hartnett as Mark

Dame Maggie Smith as Dame Constance

Next Wednesday (October 10th) the writers tagged to tell you about their Next Big Thing are:
Mary L. Ball, Tara Fox Hall, Deborah Court, Kim Jackson and Gloria Harchar.  I hope you'll visit them all - I know I shall and I know they'll all be worth it..