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Friday, April 30, 2010

Icy Snow Blackstone's Bargain With Lucifer



Icy Snow Blackstone is my guest author today. Icy, please give us a brief bio.
First of all, thanks for letting me do this blog. I appreciate it. Now, to the bio! I’m a Southerner by birth although I’ve lived in various parts of the US, including the Midwest and Orange County, California. I graduated from a well-known Southern Baptist university with a degree in Fine Art and have another in Illustrative Art. I also have a son who’s a teacher and a granddaughter and grandson, ages eight and sixteen, respectively.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
I started writing when I began first grade and have been penning various fictions ever since but I didn’t begin writing seriously until 1989.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
My reasons for writing are pretty selfish, I suppose. I just wanted to tell a story, many stories, in fact. All those that were circulating inside my head and just absolutely had to come out. So I started writing them down—first by hand, then typewriter, and finally on computer. I never really intended to have any published; they were just for me and a few others to read and enjoy.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Series or stand-alone?
My latest book is called Brother Devil. About 20 years ago, I wrote a story called Bargain with Lucifer and sent it to a cousin to read. This novel was a romance, and in it, two brothers—Luc and Michel--were featured. After she read it, she said to me, “I’ve only got one question: What happened to Michel?” Bargain with Lucifer was supposed to be a one-shot, stand-alone novel but then I had to write Brother Devil to tell Michel’s story.

What’s the hook ?
Here’s the blurb to describe the story: The women of Orleans parish may have called Luc a devil and Michel an angel but now the angel is falling fast—and he’s enjoying his downward flight to the limit.

Brother Devil opens with a funeral, a funeral in which only the husband of the deceased is truly mourning. In spite of the things his dead wife did to him and his family, Michel Deveraux still loves her and tries to deny how completely cruel she was. It takes some very strong convincing from his family to make Michel admit Clarice’s manipulations but once he dies and realizes he’s no longer bound by marriage vows, he decides to make up for lost time. Michel had always been second to his big brother in everything, from his grandfather’s love to excelling in sports, and now, being successful with women is high in the list of categories. Before he knows it, he’s involved in a scandal and finding his life in danger as he goes after the one woman in Orleans parish whose brothers won’t accept a Deveraux “trifling” with their baby sister.

How do you develop characters? Setting?
In this book, the characters were more or less already set since they’d been in a previous novel. It was simply a matter of tempering them over time (the story covers 3 years), showing how the events in the first novel caused what happened in the second and how they all reacted to it. The fact that they are Southerners and Creoles also influences their reactions to events differently from how people in another part of the country would act.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
I imagine my techniques are the worst imaginable! I just sit down and start typing. Very linear. Beginning to end. Afterward, I may decide that something in the middle of the book would be more appropriate at the end or closer to the beginning, or that I should actually start the story in the present or after a certain event and then flashback or forward. I actually used to print out pages and cut them up and repaste them together into how I thought they should be. I still do that but now, I “cut and paste” on the computer.
Every time I start a new chapter, I go back and read the one I just finished, edit it, and then go on. That helps me keep continuity.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
I set a lot of my romances in the South and goodness knows, that’s a place which has a great influence on what my characters do. It also helps if your editor knows something about the setting of your novels. I had one editor who was from Tasmania and admitted she knew nothing about Southerners. We went back and forth over a few things in the novel because she was looking at them from an Australian/United Kingdom point of view, and I was seeing them from the US/Southern viewpoint.

What are your current projects?
I have a couple of fantasy romances I’m tossing around. One is The King’s Swordswoman, about a woman warrior hired to protect a king’s invalid son and what happens when she believes the boy is killed while on her watch. Of course, he isn’t and many years later they meet; he knows who she is but she doesn’t recognize him. It’s a love story, so of course there’s going to be plenty of intrigue and heartbreak before the HEA.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
I have a website: http://www.icysnowblackstone.com/, Facebook and My Space pages, and a page at Author’s Central on amazon.com’s website. I also blog regularly at the Pink Fuzzy Slippers blogsite.

Icy, thanks for a great interview. I wish you the best of sales!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

T.V. Sweeney's Serpent's Tooth

Toni Sweeney was born in Georgia after the War between the States but before the Gulf War. Her writing career began during an extended convalescence following an automobile accident. Marriage, parenthood, divorce, and a variety of occupations ranging from dancer to medical transcriptionist assistant took precedent over writing for several years. She has survived hurricanes in the South, tornados and snow-covered winters in the Midwestern United States, and earthquakes, and forest fires in California.

Toni says," I’m a native-born Southerner but I currently live in the Midwest with my son who’s a math teacher. I was residing in Orange County, California but when I hit age 65, he decided I’d better “come home” so he could keep an eye on me! We’ll see…"

Toni, welcome to the blog. Tell us when did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
I’ve always loved to read and writing just naturally seemed to follow it. I’d read a story, then find myself thinking over certain parts—the beginning, the ending—and rewriting it with my own spin. Sometimes, it would be, “what if…?” or “If this had happened instead…” I loved English class, especially Composition, although I hated standing in front of the class and giving reports. I’m a terribly shy person, almost agoraphobic, and going to conventions and being in the public eye terrifies me but I do it.
Anyway, I’ve always like adventure stories—Tarzan, Flash Gordon, Roy Rogers—anything that had plenty of action and cheeky humor, and little dashes of romance, like the Three Musketeers, Robin Hood, Treasure Island. I also like mystery, thrills and chills, and the supernatural. So, I write what I like, and generally my stories have some or all of these elements in them. That’s why I like to say I don’t write romances but romans, which were the stories the wandering troubadors told, stories combining adventures, action, supernatural elements, and love.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Most of my stories deal with the hero or heroine’s search for belonging. This is especially obvious in my Sinbad series and the Kan Ingan Archives series, and a little less so in the Chronicles of Riven the Heretic. Sinbad’s a smuggler and a very successful one but all he wants is a home and family, and once he achieves that, he discovers that he’s also become a very law-abiding, and rich, man in the process—all because of the woman he loves. Aric kan Ingan loses all for love but regains it, only to lose it again because he’s still searching for that one perfect love. Riven kan Ingan, his ancestor, tried to find acceptance by being a social climber and marrying into wealth. Instead, he fell in love with a barbarian warrior woman and ended up becoming the progenitor of a race of kings.
So, if there’s a message in my stories, it’s that everyone wants someone to belong to and sometimes that someone may not be whom they expect. Other than that, I just want people to read my stories and enjoy them.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Series or stand-alone?
Currently, I’ve got two books in the burners. Sinbad’s Pride, third in the Adventures of Sinbad series and Serpent’s Tooth, and these two books couldn’t be more different. They came from the same mother but they’re definitely fraternal twins. Sinbad’s Pride is sci-fi, set several centuries in the future, and Serpent’s Tooth is a contemporary horror novel.

What are the hooks for the books?
The Sinbad story deals with family obligations. It begins with Sinbad arranging, against his better judgment, a marriage between his infant daughter and an adult cousin—and if that doesn’t pique readers, I’ll be disappointed! It progresses from there to his realizing that coming home and becoming his grandfather’s heir involves more than he expected…namely that he’s going to have to do certain things that are politically motivated, such as taking concubines to cement relationships with their families. This is especially difficult since Sinbad loves no one but his wife and has never looked at another woman since the moment he met her—and now he’s being told he has to have not one but two other women in his life as secondary wives? Whoa! Things go downhill—or up—from there, depending on where you’re standing.
Serpent’s Tooth opens with a famous rock star contemplating suicide. The choices he made to bring him to this moment provides the story, which involves a na├»ve midwesterner’s corruption by Tinsel Town and his attempts at redemption.

How do you develop characters? Setting?
I have absolutely no idea! Sometimes a word or phrase or a scene just pops into my mind and I start expounding on it. I’ve always said that if I think about something for three days and can’t get it out of my head, I have to write about it. That’s generally true, although recently, I’ve hit a kind of slump. So far, I’ve managed to hold the ideas at arms-length for several months. The book I’m working on right now, The Seventh Mothman, I’ve fended off for almost two years!

LOL. That happens to me as well.
It’s been said that in sci-fi/fantasy, you can set a story wherever you want and no one can refute it and that’s so, but you still have to have a realistic basis floating around somewhere. It can’t be too fantastic or far-out or you’re going to lose your audience before you’ve even captured them. So a little believability is always needed.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
I Know I should, but I don’t. No outlines, no character studies. I did that with Wizard’s Wife, had an outline, extensive synopsis, a list of characters, etc. Then, I promptly lost it. It turned up again about a year ago then disappeared again. I had three chapters written but had only one in the computer, so I scrubbed it and started over and wrote the whole thing from scratch. I keep telling myself I should write all the ideas down but I’m so darned lazy, I just never do it.
Mainly, I just sit down and start pounding the keyboard. So far, I’ve worn out five computers and eight printers.

LOL. That's serious pounding.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
For sci-fi/fantasy? Not much. Generally the whole things is made up or based on some medieval lifestyle which I tailor to fit the story. I have a couple of books on life in Ancient Times/the Middle Ages which I consult faithfully for my novels. I used them extensively in the Chronicles/Archives series. Also, if I hear or read an interesting fact about a specific time period, I write it down for future reference. I have a notebook just for that sort of thing. For something like Serpent’s Tooth, I did use a bit of observation about kids in the ‘80’s idiolizing rock-and-roll stars, but because I was never a “teeneybopper,” I got most of my information from watching much, much earlier TV shows such as American Bandstand and Ed Sullivan, etc. I remember the night the Beatles were features and Elvis Presley, and I wove that adoration and idolatization of those singer into the story.

What are your current projects?
Sinbad’s Pride, third entry in the Adventures of Sinbad. In this one, Sinbad is in his thirties to forties (The earlier books were about his childhood and youth). It shows his changing attitude toward the things he’s always held dear as he matures, and how his love for his wife matures along with it, and also the things he has to do, sometimes against his will, because of the responsibility he now holds. It’s being published by Double Dragon Publishing.
Serpent’s Tooth covers 25 years in the life of a very successful rock star—how he was discovered, and the things he’s done that come to so appall him that he chucks it all and disappears at the height of his career. When he reappears 20 years later, he thinks he left all the unpleasantness behind but just when he’s again found happiness, the past rears its ugly—and deadly—head.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
My website is www.tonivsweeney.com. I update it weekly. I also have a newsletter, and if anyone wants to be put on the mailing list, they can send their e-mail addresses to tvsweeney@neb.rr.com. I also have a My Space, Facebook, and YouTube accounts also a blog page at amazon.com’s Author Central. I also blog of various blogging groups, such as the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers and The Wild Rose Press.

Thanks for a fun interview, Toni.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Chat with C.J. West

I'm delighted to have C.J. West here today for a brief interview. Welcome, C.J. Let's get started.
Your Randy Black Series is unconventional. Why did you choose to evolve Randy Black as a character?

When I wrote Sin &Vengeance, I wasn’t planning a series. It wasn’t until readers started telling me they wanted to kill Randy that I decided to write A Demon Awaits. I was really surprised by the strong reactions to Randy. I felt for him as a character and I wanted people to understand why he did the things he did. Most readers reacted strongly to the way he took revenge during Sin &Vengeance. I think that was primarily because Randy is a brilliant guy and when he took his revenge the way he did, I think it was eerily real to readers.

Did you feel writing A Demon Awaits from Randy’s perspective was a risk?

Absolutely. It was a risk and a challenge. I wanted to change people’s feelings about Randy and help them understand what I saw in him. It was also a risk because it requires readers to start with Sin & Vengeance and then move on to A Demon Awaits to really understand the story line. If they didn’t buy Randy as a sympathetic character, the series was shot for them. The great thing for me is that readers who really hated Randy after Sin &Vengeance came back to tell me how they warmed to him after A Demon Awaits.

How does Gretchen Greene fit? Will Randy continue to grow?


Gretchen Greene is the first of a series of adventures Randy will undertake on the run. The plan for the next several books is for Randy to continue his quest for redemption by finding souls in trouble and helping them. Gretchen Greene is a former ecoterrorist that has stolen a breakthrough solar technology and is running for her life. She desperately needs Randy’s help, but the two of them can’t agree on anything. It makes for some fun interchanges on their way across country. The next several books will occur in a short span of time. Randy will continue to grow, but much more slowly. My goal is for readers to be able to enjoy any of the remaining books whether they’ve read others in the series or not.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?


Randy is on a journey to redeem himself, so that is a constant theme. I think all good fiction addresses a serious issue. For me the issues change from book to book. I also think that the tone of my books varies with the subject matter and the characters. Many readers have told me that my books are very different from one another and I really take pride in that. My latest book centers on environmental activism and asks where we should draw the line between protecting the environment and restricting people’s freedom.

What are your current projects?


I have just released Gretchen Greene, my latest Randy Black novel and my entire backlist on Kindle. I have a new standalone thriller, The End of Marking Time coming this summer. I also have a film adaptation of Sin &Vengeance currently in the fundraising stage with an independent film production company. The website for the film is www.sinandvengeance.com

Wow! Congratulations on all the success!
Where can folks learn more about your books and events C.J?

I’m on tour right now and this year I’m hosting a series of events that promise to teach readers everything Randy Black does in my novels. I’m hosting a high performance driving demonstration, a firearms class, a winery tour, a newsroom tour and many Texas Hold ‘em lessons. I’ll be appearing throughout New England. Readers can find my books and my tour schedule at http://www.22wb.com/.

C.J., I know how busy you are. Thanks for dropping by. We'll be expecting more great books and events from you.