Thursday, May 6, 2010
Interview with Goddess Anthology authors
Texas-based publisher, L&L Dreamspell, has an anthology entitled The Dreamspell Goddess Anthology which showcases twenty-one writers, among them Cornelia Amiri, Helen Henderson, Jodi Diderrich, Joyce Scarbrough, and Diane Lawson. I am delighted to have these five ladies here for an interview.
Welcome, ladies and give us a brief biography and short synopsis of your story.
Cornelia Amiri has eight Celtic/Paranormal/Romance books: Timeless Voyage, Queen of Kings, A Fine Cauldron of Fish, Druid Quest, The Fox Prince, The Vixen Princess, Danger Is Sweet, and One Heart One Way. She also wrote shorts in four L &L Dreamspell anthologies. Living in Houston Texas with her son, she loves to read historicals, romances, and paranormal novels. Books that combine the three genres are her biggest weakness except for chocolate.
The story "Rhiannon” brings to life the myth of the Welsh Horse Goddess, passed down from tribal foretime. Having cleverly thwarted a forced betrothal with the use of a magic bag, Rhiannon weds Chief Pwyll. Though passionately in love they are beset by strange happenings. All eyes point to Rhiannon as the cause of their greatest tragedy. Is their love for each other strong enough to survive the dark days ahead?
Jodi Diderrich: I claim Hebron, IL as my hometown, though I haven’t lived there since I was eleven. At present, I live in Kenosha, WI, with my husband, Dan, and our two dogs, Sam and Molly. When I’m not writing stories, I work as a part-time teacher at a local parochial school and volunteer once a week as an English tutor for the Kenosha Literacy Council.
“Hiram’s Rock” is a murder mystery based in the Alaskan wilderness. Hanna and Hiram are making their annual journey along the Iditarod trail. One morning, Hanna awakens to the realization that Hiram is lying dead beside her. At first, she assumes he must have died of natural causes, but when she moves his body, she discovers a puncture wound in his back. Someone has murdered Hiram in the night, and now, the killer is coming after Hanna who is unwittingly carrying the rock that her man had died for.
Helen Henderson invites readers to ride the Old West or travel to the stars. As a feature-story writer and correspondent, she has written on a wide variety of topics including air shows, military and American history, bicycling the mid-Atlantic states, and antiques and collectibles. She has also authored two non-fiction histories.
“Ambush Luck” is a historical piece of a woman in a non-traditional role in the American West. Married and happy in her life as wife and mother, Helen Rawlings thought she had put her past as a fast gun behind her until a gang kills one of her adopted sons. When the outlaws try to eliminate the only witness -- her other son, Josh, Helen risks everything to once again become the notorious Hell Lost, gunslinger and defender of the righteous. In a traditional western showdown, Hell confronts those threatening her family. If she survives, she would be faced with the biggest crisis of all, rejecting the lure of adventure and once again turning her back on a life riding the high trails.
Diane Lawson: My name is Veva Dianne Lawson. I began life as an attorney and got out of it as soon as humanly possible. Writing has been a part of my life since I was a child. I have been writing seriously for many years.
I have two stories in the Goddess Anthology. “Was Helen of Troy and you remembered it wrong” is narrated by a woman (Catherine) in the present about her past lives of which Helen was one. Her problem is that she thinks the memories might simply be a symptom of insanity. Also, she wants to set the record straight about a book written by her past self about their life as Helen.
The other story, “The Lost Planet of Homely Women” is about an invasion of one planet by another that goes terribly (and I hope humorously) wrong.
Joyce Scarbrough: As an intelligent Southern woman, I am weary of seeing myself and my peers portrayed in books and movies as either post-antebellum debutantes or slack-jawed yokels, so all my heroines are smart, unpretentious women who refuse to be anyone but themselves. Naturally, I felt compelled to write a story for an anthology like this one that featured strong female characters. In addition to my three published novels and "Heart's Tempest," I have three other short stories featured in upcoming anthologies from L&L Dreamspell. I write full time and also do freelance editing.
"Heart's Tempest" is about a hellion named Jaycee Stevens who doesn’t plan to stay a second longer than necessary in the rural Alabama town where she grows up with her alcoholic father. Usually, everything Jaycee does is focused on either getting a college scholarship in softball or pretending to her boyfriend Cole that she’s a lot tougher than she really is. When Cole finds out she has a Valentine’s Day tradition with a boy who’s had a crush on her since third grade, he knows there’s a lot more to this blonde tempest than meets the eye.
Do you write any other genres?
Amiri: I have a Steampunk/Romance novel coming out under the pen name of Maeve Alpin in 05/2010. I have a mystery short story in A Death In Texas.
Diderrich: I write in almost any genre. I’ve written a number of children’s stories, often featuring special dogs and cats that I’ve known. My first prize winning piece, “Sam’s Day”, was about my cocker spaniel, Sam. I’ve also written an unusual not-quite-science-fiction piece that will hopefully become a graphic novel. I also write poetry and have started what will one day be my “great American novel” loosely based on my father’s family.
Lawson: I have had poetry published and my plays, “The Services of Women” and “Broken Things” were produced as part of the EWARD ALBEE NEW PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL in Houston Texas. “Broken Things” went on to be produced off, off, off Broadway in New York and also was presented at the NEW YORK FRINGE FESTIVAL. I have a short film called “Silence” in post-production and am in pre-production for another short film called “Prom Night”.
Scarbrough: All my books and stories focus on the heroine's relationships with her friends, family and love interests, so I think they are best described as women's fiction. While love and romance play a big part in everything I write, my stories feature too many other story elements to be classified as romances
Is there a different writing process for short stories than there is for novels?
Amiri: I have a lot less space to work in but the actual process I use from rough draft to submission is pretty much the same for both.
Diderrich: Only in that I can’t drag it out. I have to force myself to stay short, succinct. Otherwise, it’s the same. I start with a scene and a very broad plot. The main characters come to life as I write that first scene. They just fall into it, becoming more real as the story progresses.
Henderson: My writing crosses many genres from science fiction and fantasy, to historical fiction and adventure. While my fiction doesn't always fit into the true romantic genre, the stories often cross into romance.
Much of the process is the same for short fiction as opposed to the longer length novel. One major difference for me is that where I can mentally plot, organize, and write a short story, I storyboard my novels with pencil and paper. The shift allows me to weave more intricate plots and make sure my characters are in the correct place. By eliminating logic errors, I can focus more on other aspects of the story such as dramatization and bringing the setting to life.
Did you write the story with a particular real life strong woman in mind? How do you relate to the woman you wrote about?
Amiri: My story is about Rhiannon, the Celtic horse goddess. I kept her myth and legend in mind as I crafted this Celtic/Mystery/Paranormal/Romance. In ancient Celtic times Rhiannon was a goddess most women could relate to, they strived to be like her. She was strong but committed to her family.
Diderrich: I don’t know anyone exactly like Hanna, although with five sisters, each of them as individual as fingerprints, I can find pieces of her in each one. There are also parts of Hanna that come from me, her maternal instinct toward her dogs, for example, and there are parts of Hanna that I wish I possessed, like her physical strength and ability to think on her feet.
Henderson: I can see much of my mother and my grandmothers in “Hell Lost”. All three were strong women who were able to rise above the traditional roles expected of women of their time. My mother was known to swing an axe, toss a bale of hay, or do whatever was needed on our family farm. In honor of my coal-country mountain heritage and the women of my family, I write westerns, including “Ambush Luck” in the Dreamspell Goddess Anthology, under the persona of my ancestor, Jessie Treon.
Lawson: “Helen” is about loneliness and trying to make sense of a confusing world. I think we all have these feelings on occasion. “Lost Planet” incorporates the silliness we all see occasionally in men and women. So, no particular strong woman is a part of the stories.
Scarbrough: Actually, the heroine in "Heart's Tempest" is also the heroine in my novel, Different Roads. Jaycee has been living inside my heart ever since she was a motherless six-year-old featured in my Christmas short story titled "Hope Chest." All her stories are dedicated to women who were once forgotten little girls like she was, most of whom are much stronger than they even realize. Fortunately, my own childhood was nothing like Jaycee's. Maybe that's why I feel so much for women like her and have to write about them.
Did you collaborate with anyone else during the anthology process or write on your own?
Amiri: I write on my own.
Diderrich: I’m not big on collaboration. Working with another writer would leave me wondering if my contribution had been truly integral to the work. I’d feel like an interloper, I think. I do belong to a wonderful writers’ group, though, that gives me great feedback on the mechanics of my stories and insight into how a reader might react to it and why.
Henderson: For me, writing is a solitary effort.
Lawson: I am solely responsible for these stories for better or worse.
Scarbrough: I have a best friend named Lee Ann Ward who is also a writer. We critique each other's work and bounce ideas off each other, but when we write it's a one-woman show--unless you count our heroines. They definitely have a say in what happens!
How do you discipline yourself when writing?
Amiri: I try to write at least 2000 words a day but sometime that doesn't work out. I'm striving to be more consistent with it.
Diderrich: I have to make a schedule, which keeps me writing fairly regularly for a while. Eventually, I get bored with the schedule or circumstances change and I have to make a new schedule, but I always need to have something or someone telling me when it’s time to write. Otherwise life just takes over and everything else gets done, but not the writing.
Henderson: I make sure that I always have paper and pencil with me. As well as a few pages of the chapter I'm currently working on.
Scarbrough: This isn't a problem for me, because once I start writing a story, it consumes me and that's all I want to do! So I guess my answer would be that I force myself to eat and sleep while I'm writing!
Have you participated in any other anthologies? If so, which ones?
Amiri: Yes. A Death in Texas, Sleeping with the Undead, and Romance of My Dreams, all with L & L Dreamspell.
Diderrich: I haven’t participated in any of L&L Dreamspell’s other anthologies yet. However, I won second place in a contest, The Golden Journey Short Story Competition, a few years ago with a story, “Sam’s Day,” where the winning stories were published in an anthology, The WriteStuff Writers’ Golden Journey, 2006.
Henderson: “Recov” in Romance of My Dreams, Vol II by L&L Dreamspell (awaiting publication)
“Pirates Reprise” in Wondrous Web Worlds Vol. 9 by Sam's Dot Publishing (awaiting publication)
“Withym: Treasure Beneath the Sands” in The Writer’s Written Word 2008: Compendium of Short Works by the Monmouth Creative Writers’ Group
Lawson: This is my first.
Scarbrough: My story "Hope Chest" was featured in the 2008 edition of an annual Christmas anthology titled CHRISTMAS IS A SEASON published by Excalibur Press, and my story "Journey of a Thousand Miles" was featured in the 2009 edition. I also have a story in the upcoming L&L Dreamspell anthology DREAMSPELL REVENGE Volume1 and two stories in ROMANCE OF MY DREAMS Volume 2.
When writing, what themes do you feel passionate about?
Amiri: I love to write about strong women who know themselves or find themselves (warrior women), and the ancient Celts. My interest in history is as strong a drive as my writing so I often write historicals, usually set in the dark ages or ancient times. I also like to write humor.
Diderrich: I feel very passionate about women and enjoy exploring the ways they handle the problems and advantages they encounter because they’re women. I am also a big animal advocate. I love all animals, even spiders and snakes and find it unconscionable that some humans think they have the right to lord over them and treat them any way they see fit.
Henderson: I am old fashioned enough that I prefer happily-ever after endings, or at least the potential of the future the character wants. My heroes are men to die for and my women worthy of walking beside a man rather than behind him.
Lawson: I always want to make certain that my heroes and heroines (whatever their struggles) end up doing the right thing.
Scarbrough: Love definitely dominates when it comes to my writing, but I also seem to be drawn to writing about emotionally damaged characters like Jaycee. Usually it's the men in my stories with all the baggage, and my heroines are the only ones who can help them get past it.
James Michener once said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” Please respond to that statement as it relates to your individual writing process.
Amiri: Yes, I totally agree. The easy and fun part is the rough draft, meaning the first time I finish the story. The hard part and the bulk of time and writing is put in after that, in rewriting.
Diderrich: Most of the time I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Michener, and I always go back and reread and edit my work. Once in a while, though, I find, that when I’ve finished my rewrite, the piece has changed to the point that it’s no longer the story I set out to tell. Maybe it’s a better story mechanically, but it’s no longer what I wanted to say.
Lawson: I am still rewriting “Helen” even though Lisa and Linda have already taken it into the anthology.
Do you have other writing projects underway?
Amiri: I am always working on new manuscripts. I have a Steampunk novella coming out in May and a Celtic/Romance novel, Druid Bride, to be released in May as well. I have a short fantasy story in Twisted Tales of Texas Landmarks with L &L Dreamspell to be released in the fall of 2010.
Diderrich: I have a number of projects going on all the time. I have a mystery novel finished looking for a publisher, and I’m half way through a second story using the same protagonist. I also have an idea for a graphic novel that I’d like to see put into print. I wrote the back story and have everything else in my head. I just need an artist to do the artwork for me. Another book I’m working on is a children’s book based on Sam (the dog from “Sam’s Day”) and his big sister, Molly. I wrote it a while back, but recently brought it out and had my critique group look at it. They had good things to say about it, so I’ve been editing it and looking at publishers to submit to.
Henderson: I have a romantic fantasy novel currently under consideration by a publisher, and a second is finishing up the review process.
Lawson: I am currently trying to write a mystery novel.
Scarbrough: I'm about three-quarters done with a coming-of-age novel titled Shades of Blue that my critique group partners have said reminds them of To Kill A Mockingbird. I can't tell you how flattered I am to even be mentioned in the same breath as a book like that. I'm also writing a YA paranormal novel that I like to describe as DEXTER meets BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. No vampires, just a smart-mouthed dead girl with a penance to pay.
Where can readers learn more about you and the anthology?
Amiri: At http://www.CelticRomanceQueen.com and at http://www.lldreamspell.com/CorneliaAmiri.htm.
Diderrich: My website is http://www.jodiderrich.com/. Anyone interested in finding my work can look there. If they need more information, there is a link where they can e-mail me. I can also be found on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter (jodid007) and Booktown.
Lawson: Of course the anthology is discussed in the LLDreamspell website. I also have a website at Dianne@vevadiannelawson.org
Scarbrough: You can read samples of all my work on my pages at Authors Den: http://tinyurl.com/yafjyty. For updates about the anthology and all my book events, the best thing to do is find me on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/26q2sdj. I love getting new friend requests! I also have a blog called "Blue Attitude" that I don't update as much as I should, but there are some excerpts posted there too:
Ladies, it has been my pleasure to learn more about you.