Archive for January, 2010

Guest Blogger–Jinger Heaston–How Do They Do It?

January 26, 2010

Today I’m happy to be posting a blog by my dear friend and colleague, cover artist Jinger Heaston. She is a multi-award winner and probably one of the best cover artists out there, because not only does she have an extraordinary eye for imagery, and an inborn creativeness like no other, but she has a very rare knack of being able to envision what the author wants as a cover.

I’ve worked with her on several covers for anthologies and my novel and she has captured our vision dead on each time. I swear she has uncanny psychic abilities because it’s as if she can read our minds, but she denies this of course. 🙂

Today, you’ll be getting a glimpse though her eyes of how she sees an author’s world, which is quite interesting.

How Do They Do It?

By Jinger Heaston

I am not a writer. When I was asked to guest blog, my first instinct was to run from the room screaming and waving my arms, yelling, “Don’t make me do it!!!”

I lack that creative writing ‘thing’ that all Authors have to make the written word spring off the page and paint an instant image in your mind. For example, I have been sitting here looking at a blank Word Doc. for almost half an hour. Already, I’ve had enough coffee to give a Third World country the shakes.

When I receive an Author Information Form, I get a glimpse of an author’s talent. Things like: Character Description: Hair the color of sun kissed wheat and eyes like French coffee with a splash of cream, skin like a creamy Georgia Peach. Emerald green gown flowing like the wind off a cliff at high tide.

My question to the masses is this, how do they do it? ‘Get up in the morning, sit down to write, and it just flows from the brain to the fingers, to the keyboard, to the screen.’ Do Authors see everything in that light? Instead of an ugly brown wall, do they see a mahogany-colored surface with wood grain patterns scarred with age? Is there a narrative voice in their heads at all times?  She awoke with a playful smile, climbing out of bed ready to greet the day before her. Or did she just get up?

Where do these fantastic story ideas come from? Do they all have some bottomless vault in their minds that they dip into when they want to write a new book? Are there stories all around them at all times and they simply grab one from the air and bring it to life on a whim?

I am not sure how Authors do what they do, but I will say I am grateful! What an Author gives us is the chance to sail the high seas, climb impossible mountains, and make a journey with a soul mate that of course we do not discover until about Chapter 30 or so. Suspense, drama, intrigue, scandal, murder, love, humor, these are all gifts that Authors give us on a daily basis.

I always say coming to the end of a good book is bitter sweet. These characters become a part of my everyday life. What will they do today? Will she escape? Will he fall in love? I am always desperate to find the answers, but sad when I close the book for the last time. It is like leaving an old friend behind. I have also been known to talk to a book, things like: “Oh no, she didn’t!” or “Oh, come ON!!!” That is always a tell tale sign of a good book for me!

Authors write in such a way that you almost feel as if you have been to the places in their stories, you can almost smell the air, feel the breeze. If the heroine has her heart broken, you cry with her. If she is going to see what that ‘bump’ in the dark was, you scream, “DON’T GO LOOK!!! RUN, WOMAN!!!”  I envy them their gift and thankful they choose to share that with me.

So thank you, Authors of the world! Thank you for sharing your stories, whisking us away to far off lands and untold adventures. Without you all, I think our lives would be a little less interesting.

While I sit here reading over everything I have just typed, I think to myself an Author would write, “The Golden Labrador ran through the flower-covered meadow.” I would simply write, “The dog ran.” I am not a writer.

1-Describe, the average Jinger Heaston day.

Get up at 6:30am. COFFEE!! Make sure that Kylie and MaKenna are up for school, taking all the verbal abuse they can dish out as I do so. Run the girls to school. We usually have a jam session of some sort on the way, just to kick start things. MORE COFFEE!! Sit down and sort through emails, file away any new cover art assignments, answer others. COFFEE AGAIN!! Change and dash off to the gym for about an hour or so. MOCHA FRAPPE!!! Head home, sit on down, and start working. I pretty much spend the rest of the day working, only looking up long enough to check the time. I love to work in quiet, so I take advantage of it while everyone is gone. Go grab the ladies from school, try to listen to them as they both talk 90 mph all the way home, with the occasional nod so they know I heard them…sorta. Answer more emails, hang out with the girls a bit and argue over homework being done now vs. later when it’s just like 5 mins before bedtime. (wink)

Head off to bed usually around 10 p.m. with a good book or a movie and pass out somewhere in that process. Boring, but it’s me!

2-Any particular resolution you made this year that you plan to keep, no ifs, ands, or buts?

None this year. I actually like myself the way I am. Quirks and all. I’m in a very satisfied place right now.

3-Who has been your biggest inspiration in life? In your artist work?

I take inspiration from all sorts of silly places–music, books. I’m a pretty free spirit and I like to make my own path. I can actually find inspiration in a lot of things. I like that. As for inspiration for my work? Well, I guess I do not really have anyone who inspires me. I appreciate all kinds of art work, mainly classics.

Guest Blogger–V.M.K. Fewings–The Cover Says It All

January 19, 2010

Now it’s time for my third guest. I’m so happy V.M.K. Fewings accepted to do this blog when I asked her. She is a delightful lady, one pretty fantastic author, and a sweet, dear friend.

I met her online last year when I read her novel “Stone Masters: A Vampire’s Reckoning” and fell in love with her unique, mesmerizing writing style and her complicated and multi-dimensional characters. They literally jumped out at me on more than one occasion, shocking and bewildering me. I cheered for the heroes and the heroine and yes, I even cheered for the antagonist, Orpheus.

In March, she will bring him back in her second book “Orpheus: A Vampire’s Rise”. It’s a prequel to the first book. We get to see why he became (as I call him) the most complicated and misunderstood vampire ever born (or unborn depending on how you see it).

To have edited her stories was nothing less than pure pleasure. She is a great author to work with.

After reading her blog, why don’t you head on over to her website and get to know more about her and her writings at: http://www.vmkfewings.com/index.html

And so now I present to you V.M.K. Fewings’ piece….

The Cover Says It All

By V.M.K. Fewings

Thank you, Gio, for inviting me over here as a guest blogger! I’m also delighted to get the chance to say a public thank you for being such an awesome editor. Gio edited both of my books and with her expert guidance, played a big part in making sure this vampire series is a smooth read and historically accurate.  Gio’s also a writer, so working with someone of that caliber makes the experience all the more pleasurable.

After spending just over a year writing my first novel Stone Masters: A Vampire’s Reckoning, I held my breath, hoping that the cover would reflect the storyline and entice readers to discover my beloved characters and make them their own. When renowned artist Rochelle Heagh Phister agreed to design the art cover, I was excited to see what she’d come up with.  I’ve been a fan of Rochelle’s for some time, and her paintings have this unique way of drawing out the mystical countenance of her subjects. She brilliantly captures their haunting likeness.

Prior to painting the cover, Rochelle read my first novel and then over the following weeks worked her magic and brilliantly captured the paranormal presence of two of the main characters. She flawlessly rendered Jadeon’s intensity, mirroring his enduring dignity, and hinting at his ceaseless poise, cultivated over centuries. And sitting regally at his feet is Catherine, her bewitching beauty and self-sustaining strength masterfully crafted by Rochelle. With Stone Masters, I set out to pen a classic vampire novel, providing all the darkly gothic aspects of the genre that I adore, and I couldn’t have asked for a better cover. I once told Rochelle that when I look at her paintings, I glimpse what seems to be her subject’s soul looking back at me, and Rochelle immediately understood, and reflected how she experiences the extraordinary perfection of each person she paints.  Very often at my book signings, people recognize her work and some even mention that they own a painting or two of hers.

When the time came to create the cover art for my second novel Orpheus: A Vampire’s Rise, Rochelle and I discussed the many possibilities. I mentioned how I’d love to have something similar to Reconciled, which is one of her most popular pieces. I was thrilled when Rochelle generously offered the painting itself as the featured cover. This exotic portrait of a man and woman passionately embracing, surrendering in each other’s arms, perfectly reflects the sensuousness of my novel which makes me all the more excited with the impending March release.

Writing Orpheus was such a blissful experience, and I’m so grateful that I had the pleasure of working with an editor like Gio and that we have Rochelle’s extraordinary gift to showcase the book.

Rochelle’s work can be viewed at www.darkartsparlor.com.

1- How did the story “Stone Masters: A Vampire’s Reckoning” come to be? What was first to be born in your mind, the story or a character?

Although I’d thoroughly enjoyed writing as a child, I gave it up to pursue a career in Nursing and Midwifery. Years later, I heard a small, quiet voice nudging me to write again, and Jadeon Artimas, a two-hundred-year-old vampire, kept hanging around my imagination. My muse beseeched me to tell Jadeon’s story and that adventure unfolded as Stone Masters: A Vampire’s Reckoning. Rediscovering the joy of writing has changed my life in so many wonderful and exciting ways.

2- Why did you decide to make the second book “Orpheus: A Vampire’s Rise” in the series a prequel and not the sequel?

Orpheus had been around for well over four centuries before Jadeon was born, so his story evolved naturally as a prequel. The third novel, which I’m currently writing, is the sequel to Stone Masters: A Vampire’s Reckoning and picks up minutes after Stone Masters ends.

3-Which is your favourite character in the series?

Each character is special to me and I love them all equally. I’m drawn to Jadeon’s brooding allure and his serenity. I adore Alex’s sweetness and I’m enthralled by Orpheus’s complexity and dangerous sensuality.

4-Is there any era you wish to go back in time and experience?

There are many eras in the past that I’d love to visit, but if I had to choose one, it would be the 15th century because I’ve always held it close to my heart.

5-In a nutshell, what’s your philosophy in life?

At the risk of sounding simplistic, my philosophy is freedom. Freedom to create. Freedom to love. Freedom to live the life one chooses. And freedom to experience the realization of one’s dreams.

6-What was your first impression of the US when you came here from England years ago?

My first impression was the warmth of the country. America has a big heart. I was struck with the underlying passion for believing in oneself and quickly fell in love with California. I’m proud to now call it home.

Guest Blogger–Keith Gouveia–Woes of Our Wares

January 10, 2010

We’re already in the tenth day of 2010 and at the rate this year’s progressing, I fear it’ll be over before I realize it. Time is something that has become an abstraction to me. It’s continually at the back of my mind and sometimes I swear I hear a ticking clock’s hands move with every second or minute that passes. There are times I wished those hands would slow down or stop so I can catch up or savor the moment. Then there are other times when I just want those hands to speed up.

But we all know time is a constant variable and it doesn’t matter how hard we wish for it to change, it never will.

And with that pondering thought, I’m delighted to introduce to you my second guest and good friend, Keith Gouveia.

His piece is on patience; one thing I obviously struggle with each day and always seem to lose the battle. There are also some questions he answered after his piece.

I’ve known Keith for many years. He is not only a talented author whose horror stories of zombies, demons, devils, and yes even brown mallards, have made me shudder and look over my shoulder in fear, but he has also edited and co-edited some pretty awesome award winning anthologies as well, which you can check out on his website www.keithgouveia.com

So forget about that ticking clock, sit back, and enjoy the read. 🙂

Woes of Our Wares

By Keith Gouveia

Next year marks ten years since I was bitten by the writing bug. Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re interested in the written word whether it be reading your favorite author’s or creating your own. So I’d like to talk about this crazy business, because along the way I’ve learned a lot about the publishing world—the hard way, and if you can avoid some of the pitfalls, then it’ll have been worth it.

Time and time again, I’ve seen aspiring authors, and even a few pros, make the simplest mistakes to hinder their chances of publication. Stupid and lazy mistakes that should have been avoided with a little common sense, such as: not reading, or simply not following, a publication’s guidelines; inundate an editor’s mailbox with questions regarding their story’s status; and worst of all, submitting what might as well be a first draft.

If you stopped to take a look around, you’d notice everyone has a story scratching under the surface, begging to be released, but very few actually take the time to scratch that itch. However, that’s still tens of thousands of people writing and submitting, all vying for the few publication slots available in a given year. So why would anyone run the risk of soiling their chances right out of the gate?

Simple answer really. They aren’t patient enough for this business. The major publishing houses take on average a year to publish a book after it has spent the good part of a year to a year and a half in the slush pile. The small press turns a book around a lot faster, but even for them, life gets in the way. Though your story might have been responded to in a week to a month for the last call, it would be foolish to expect that kind of turn around every time. Editors, much like you, have a life and though they schedule their time accordingly, all it takes is one hiccup to clog the machine.

I frequent several writing forums, and though I don’t post much as I’d rather be writing on whatever project I’m working on, I do read them daily. I’ve seen editors put themselves out there in public forums to help keep the lines of communication open. It is a wonderful thing and something they don’t have to do, but, unfortunately, there are those who pester them. Some even mistake this courtesy as friendship and come away with egg on their face. Regardless if you’re friends with an editor, never forget this is a business and your relationship should be treated as such when dealing with the written word. Writing is such a personal thing it is hard to not take rejection personally, but there’s nothing personal in rejection, it’s simply business. The sooner you come to terms with that, the better off you’ll be.

Some of the small presses I’ve had the privilege of working with are Coscom Entertainment and Library of the Living Dead. The men in charge of these two presses are wonderful people and they will be a force to reckon with in the near future for other presses. I’ve had success with some of my novels and novellas with Coscom, and success with some of my short stories with the Library, both turn a fine product, but don’t take my word for it, check them out for yourself. Coscom Entertainment: http://www.coscomentertainment.com/revoltofthedead.html and The Library: http://libraryofthelivingdead.lefora.com

In closing, I thank you for your time and wish you luck in all your endeavors.

1-What POV do you prefer to write your stories in? What POV do you prefer to read?

I prefer third for writing and reading.

2-When did you know the writing bug had bitten you and left you incurable to its wayward effects?

In High School when our English teacher gave us the option to write about whatever we wanted and not some forced topic.

3-If you were to come upon a genie’s lamp and called forth that mythical being, what would you wish for?

One wish, to be with my wife ’til the end of time.

4-Is there any story you read or movie/show you’ve seen that you wished you could have written the story for and changed or strengthened the plot/storyline?

Funny thing, Nickelodeon has a cartoon Danny Phantom that I wished to God I had created. Sometimes it’s too goofy for its own good and I’d keep it darker.

We have a winner…

January 4, 2010

Thanks to all who participated in The Romance Studios December contest. It was a huge success!

And the winner of an autographed copy of “The Battle of Armageddon” or an Amazon gift certificate is…

RHONDA BARNES!

Congrats, Rhonda. 🙂

Guest Blogger–David Lee Summers–The Appeal of History

January 2, 2010

Howdy all,

Happy New Year!!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Mine was marvelous. It’s the first year I took off two full weeks from editing and writing and just hung out with family and friends. Of course I ate and drank too much, and slept too little, but it was fun. Before I realized it, the year’s end was here.

And so now as we ring in the New Year this week, I’m delighted to bring to you my first guest blogger, my good friend and colleague David Lee Summers. This talented author not only has written many awe-inspiring stories in several diverse genres, but he is also an astronomer and the editor of a superb quarterly science fiction and fantasy magazine “Tales of the Talisman”, which features quality short stories and poetry from gifted authors and artists from around the world.

His blog post’s theme is history and its influence and appeal on us. Enjoy the read and don’t forget to check out his own cool blog at: http://davidleesummers.wordpress.com or visit his website http://www.davidleesummers.com to learn more about this brilliant author and his writings. 🙂

The Appeal of History

by David Lee Summers

When I was a child, I used to spend a portion of my summer vacations traveling across the United States with my parents.  We would spend time in places like New England, seeing the places the English settled.  We saw Mesa Verde in Colorado where my dad observed that Native Americans were building castles at the same time Europeans were.  I toured the Underground City in Seattle and saw how people lived there over a century ago.  All of this gave me a real appreciation of history that has served me well as a writer.

What’s great about discovering history through travel is that many museums and historical sites give you a good sense of how people lived — better, often, than you’ll get from history textbooks, which are mostly concerned about the events that shaped the world.  If you write historical fiction, you can further expand on this to give people an even better sense of what it was like to live in the past.  I did this when writing the historical scenes in my novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order and its forthcoming prequel Dragon’s Fall. In Vampires of the Scarlet Order there is a chapter set in 19th century Las Cruces, New Mexico.  I live in Las Cruces and learned all I could about what life was like at that time.  The first part of Dragon’s Fall is set in ancient Greece.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to travel to Greece, but I spent time in the library researching the way people lived so that I could paint as accurate a picture as possible.

The appeal of history for a writer goes beyond simply presenting the past as accurately as you can.  As a writer, you can ask questions about the way history has unfolded.  In addition to Dragon’s Fall, I’m working on a steampunk novel called Owl Dance.  In Owl Dance, I ask the question: What if the Russians discovered that oil and gold existed in Alaska soon after the territory was purchased by the United States?  How might history have unfolded differently?  These questions allow us to explore the consequences of certain actions and perhaps better understand the world around us as it exists today.

However, even if you have no interest in historical fiction, a study of history can suit you well.  History gives you a sense of how peoples interact with one another and can provide story ideas in non-historical genres.  My first novel was a science fiction novel called The Pirates of Sufiro that told the story of how one group of colonists on a distant world enslaved members of another group of colonists and the consequences of those actions.  I looked at the history of the United States, South Africa and other places around the world to understand how these problems develop.  The resolution of the conflict was based, at least partially, on the Battle of Glorietta Pass in New Mexico from the American Civil War.  Robert A. Heinlein called this process of looking at the past and extrapolating possible futures “time binding.”  It’s a very useful skill for a science fiction writer to hone.

If you’re a writer, I strongly encourage you to visit historical sites when you travel, or even visit historical sites near your home.  You may find that you get some great ideas for your fiction.  Likewise, I think readers can get a better sense of the themes and ideas that various writers explore by learning more about history.

If you would like to learn more about the books I’ve mentioned, I invite you to visit my homepage at http://www.davidleesummers.com or my blog at http://davidleesummers.wordpress.com

Finally, I’d like to say thank you my editor and friend, Giovanna Lagana, for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.