Fran Lee is the author of over 30 novels varying from Contemporary to Paranormal Romance and Erotic Romance; she has already released three novels in the first three months of 2014. In this Making Love 101 Fran takes the time to talk about how she created the love story between Azrael and Cheyenne in her book Woman on Fire. Thanks, Fran!
Lexi Post has been combining her brand of romance to classic stories to produce intriguing tales filled with a modern taste of saucy heat to the simpler historic love stories. She has revamped Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of Red Death in her novel, Masque. Taken Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Rappaccini’s Daughter to create her novel Passion’s Poison. In this Making Love 101, Lexi will talk about her retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as the modern love story Passions of Sleepy Hollow. Thanks for your time, Lexi!
Tina was a wonderful volunteer to become part of my Making Love 101 interviews. Her romance Deep, Dark, Delicious was our jumping off point and Rafe and Eden gave us a very hot and steamy basis to talk about how Tina goes about creating love in her own books. I am excited about not only what we got to talk about in this Making Love 101, but also that she and I got to make some loose plans for another interview about her book In His Arms. I can’t wait! Thanks so much for your time, Tina!
Jill Elaine Hughes stepped up to be one of my Making Love 101 authors but after reading Domino Effect I felt that she would be better suited to have a review that wasn’t restricted to speaking about a romance angle that was a small and not truly developed part of the story she was telling in her book series. Having become a Jill Fanatic and Domino Convert I wanted to put out an interview that unfolded this tale and all it’s intriguing and complex layers. Thanks Jill for being so accommodating!
Jill Elaine Hughes Bio:
Jill Elaine Hughes is a professional journalist, playwright, memoirist, and fiction author. She has written for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Washington Post, Cat Fancy magazine, New Art Examiner, and numerous other media outlets. Her plays have been widely published and produced by theaters in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco, the United Kingdom, and Australia. She is also the author of several New Adult fiction books. Ms. Hughes also writes erotic fiction under two pen names: Jamaica Layne and Jay E. Hughes.
Making Love 101 has allowed me to come in contact with some incredible authors and make some great new friends. Madeline Pryce has been the very definition of kindness and patience and has been sending me bushels of email (((HUGS))), which I am forever thankful for because I think everyone can agree that when you have the flu 6 weeks out of 2 months, virtual TLC is right up there with Fresno’s potato soup and 4th of July. Well, you can’t agree with that, but I can say that and you can nod like you know what I’m talking about. Thanks oodles and noodles, Madeline!
The very first indie author to be featured in my Weekly Indie Word Slinger section is Nicole Banks whose very fast reply landed her deets in my email long before the authors before her. I’m really excited to be featuring authors who are self-publishing and it’s a joy for me to start this year off with such a positive response. I have a few weeks worth of authors who have responded and if I keep receiving emails I will happily put out more frequent posts to accommodate more writers.
Augh! Monday. It’s like Sunday night’s bastard sister. I am exhausted and it’s the beginning of the week, my list of things to do is just being made and I already want a break. Cry! Cry! How tough is life!
The book I chose for my Makin’ the Love Monday is something that I actually read a few weeks ago but I loved it and it is deservin’ of the kudos–so here is it’s red ribbon reward and all.
I found this book in my Amazon recommendations and I usually get the weirdest recommendations from Amazon so when I read the synopsis and it sounded good I sort of figured that Amazon must have screwed up and sent me someone else’s book suggestion. Night of the Tiger (This book is free for Kindle at this time) by N.J. Walters is the first book I have read by this author, despite finding she has written more books than the phone book has Smiths, and it was A-mazing. If I had to condense a description of what the beginning of this book is like I would say–imagine Dante’s Inferno, a hodgepodge of Bosch art, the TV show Carnivale, and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter Series–put them all together, stir them up, shake that upside down, now add a little kitten tail and some mythologically screwed up comics and you get the world as it’s known to Aimee and Roric.
I am wrecked on an epic scale. I wrote for roughly nine hours today and got about 8,000 words down. I spent about four of those hours rewritting a part of chapter 2 that wasn’t working. It was a very emotional part and I redid it a few times before I felt like I got it right. The chapter came in at just over 10,000 words which is really long but it was the most natural place to end it.
I have been running extremely high. If that sounds a little random then you have missed the fact that I am bipolar from previous posts. The productive place between a touch of hypomania and running high is sort of blurry. Basically, I’m kicking out all sorts of stuff and it is coherent and rather good. It is at that thin line though, where the way my mind is bombarded with ideas and dialogue for what I am working on is distracting to an extreme and I don’t take enough notice of everything around me. Driving home yesterday from an appointment was an adventure in stop lights on the orange side or yellow and covering a good part of the trip on auto-pilot. I was trying to solve a problem about how advanced the alternate world in Murmur of Souls was going to be.
What have I been so pre-occupied about? I have spoken vaguely of The Soul Wars Trilogy and for the most part it was because for a little while I didn’t really understand the breadth and depth of the story. Knowing that you need a truly BAD guy, with a lot of sex appeal and a snarky attitude isn’t enough to base a book on. I had Min worked out from the start. She was always going to be above average in intelligence and fiery. And I knew Jett’s family and Trist’s place. Not a lot to go by.
Over the last week, with the power of hypomania, I have filled a one-subject notebook with dialogue, new characters and a very well thought out story arc for the entire trilogy. I have a few great friends reading it as I go, giving me feedback and telling me where things seem awkward or unlikely. And the man who feeds my turtles and changes the litter in my bathroom, also known as my husband, helped me find the images for all three books. I also bought the copyright for the image for le Cirque at the same time. The few other plans I have for keeping me working is to get Murmur up on Wattpad to see what the thoughts of people I don’t know might be. That will be on the list of ‘to-do’s’ for next week
I don’t have it in me to write a blog entry as long as my normal one on the tails of the full day I put in while I plugged away today. I’m going to just cut and paste a small portion of today’s labor into the bottom of this and call it a night.
This is Min and Jet.
“Vela, go get Min’s food.” His voice was commanding. I still had her hand and my grip tightened. My voice brokered no debate as I said, “Vela get me a plastic bag and a sharp knife. Jett wants me to start freeing him from his limbs.” That stupid chuckle filled the dark. I hated him. My conscience told me that involving Vela in our battle of wills wasn’t fair. I released her and softened my voice. “I’m fine. I will come get some food later. Why don’t you go and relax. Don’t worry.” I listened to her light steps lead to the door and when it opened light briefly flooded the entrance. Wordlessly she shut it behind her. “Why are you like that?” Frustration had me asking with gritted teeth. I didn’t hear him but I felt him coming closer. I could see the smirk that he had on his face in my minds eye even before I hear it in his voice. “Wonderful? Devastating?Compelling? Sexy? Brilliant? Unforgettable?” “No. Mentally defective. Unlikeable. Tiresome. Creepy. You were sitting in the dark while I slept. Who does that?” “The way you compliment me makes me wonder if your words mean what you think they mean. Having been brought up human probably means that you lacked an education. I had hopes that you would be bright enough that I could be challenged. Sadly, speaking to you is the equivalent of engaging conversation with a child.” “Is this really all you’re about, Jett. Irritating others? You really need to get a life.” I felt his weight added to the bed near my feet. Noah and Michael were the only two guys that had ever been in my bedroom. My brother was never an issue and Noah was as safe to have there as Michael was. Jett on my bed felt a little too real. “I have thought about taking yours. Think about that. Then I would have two.”
Thanks a bunch for reading this. I hope you enjoyed it.
I write this sharing my lap desk with a big uncaring white fluff ball named Frankie. He likes to push the keys and sit on top of the computer so we stage laptop wars. So far we are about 50/50. I’m not really the one in authority here.
This week I read a truly incredible book by one of those authors that no one knows but really should be on the lips of everyone. Fallen Crest High by Tijan was a look outside the box in a way that killed the memory of the many formulaic books I have read lately. It bled dysfunction, unlikely alliances, the value of friendships and perceptions. This book was written very well, the characters were engaging and the power struggling and backstabbing feed my hunger for angst and trouble. I have not read any of Tijan’s other books but I did go right to Amazon and downloaded Broken and Screwed and the Jaded series as soon as I finished Fallen Crest High. When a book as good as this comes around it literally rocks your entire world and the impression left by this sort of story demands to be shared with anyone who will listen. I hope you are listening. Tijan’s Facebook page, Tijan’s Books, posts updates of the novels she is in the process of writing. I love authors who are so accessible and generous.
But how does one go about writing broken and ruined characters successfully?
So many authors try so hard to play the broken and tragic tales of one of their characters they meet with defeat. They are so hung up on the triggering event that the symptoms and aftermath get lost in the plot. Or they get so lost in the dark emotions and troubled behavior of a damaged hero or heroine that the ultimate reveal comes across as insignificant. It’s hard to write something real if you have never experienced or witnessed it yourself. Writing fiction about painful and difficult times resulting in horrific personal crises isn’t as simple as making up a tale of woe and prescribing cliched motives and villainous villains to milk a response. You have to actually make your reader feel like they have never felt so much pain, confusion, terror, distress, hopeful hopelessness and vulnerability from a narrative of this type before.
Trauma effects people in different ways but it almost always comes with a desperate anger and a feeling of hollowness or emptiness that removes the victim from the world of all the people around them. The isolation that a troubled person goes through may be of their own making or by being stigmatised as different from others in regards to the incident. Sometimes life is simple. You are made or broken and from that you grow into a stronger person. Most people aren’t really that lucky and pain, anger, helplessness win. That feeling of being other in a broken world can’t be solved with a chat with a therapist or pill. When you can’t talk it out and it just plows through your life the experience can live in your mind playing over and over again. When you come out on the other end it’s incredible. For others, luck doesn’t bless you that way and destroying who you are seems like the only option. When that happens you know you are going down and you no longer care who you bring with you. The injuries you have pull you into your own small world where you hurt so much you fail to see anyone else’s pain. And the feelings you have create a place all it’s own where people have to pay for what has been to you. Even the ones who are innocent.
That is reality. This is how people respond to abuse, tragedy and trauma. Knowing this happens in life makes for great writing. Assuming something like this from TV dramas, thriller movies and other books which address trauma, stress and tragedy isn’t enough. Writing a good story comes from writing what you know.
In fiction of this vein the author is creating a character that has suffered something monumental and that character’s story isn’t necessarily the only one that is being told. Authors say lot about themselves by showing how human nature works in their own minds by what they write. The violation or unjustice, how the world around the victim reacts and what the result of those actions are; All of that is a product of an author’s ability to see the inner turmoil and the greater gift of interaction. Topics such as cancer, suicide, rape, child or domestic abuse, assault, mental illness, family dysfunction, social or unspecified anxiety, and death (this list could really go on into infinity), mold characters just as they mold real people. Knowledge is a powerful thing and authors with knowledge can play God in the written sense.
I have been reading all sorts of books for most of my life and I have probably read thousands of books which have a life lesson contained within the wrappings of personal tragedy. I can remember the first book of this sort that really left a mark on me. A teenage author by the name of Cyn-Forshay Lunsford wrote a book in 1986 called Walk Through Cold Fire. It was a great story of a girl who had a pretty shitty life moving to stay with other family for a summer. The events which occur impact her life in pretty horrible way. As you can see from that Amazon link the book isn’t available in e-book format and it’s out of print. So unless you can find it in a used bookstore, like I did about ten years ago, the likelyhood of you getting to read this great piece of fiction is probably pretty slim.
Still I give the author props because the way she commanded that these characters matter in a world where it didn’t seem that people did was impressive. Walk Through Cold Fire was written with a rawness and truth that left me feeling every one of Desiree’s crushing burdens at the end of the book. I think it was the first book I read that didn’t have a happy ending. It felt real. To my youthful mind fantasy was so much more fun. But as I read and read and read during my pre-teens and teen years, the only book that really sticks out is Cyn-Forshay Lunsford’s. I can’t tell you the plot of too many of the Silhouette Young Adult Books I read. And I can tell you that the only thing I remember from the first couple of Sweet Valley High books is that one of the characters names was Fiona. And I only remember that because from that point on I wanted to change my name to that. I think as a young girl of twelve Walk Through Cold Fire actually changed something in me. It made me see the world differently.
By no means is that the only title that I recommend that would illicit a telling reaction. There are the classic S.E. Hinton books The Outsiders and Rumble fish. Both powerful stories about life on hard times. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, which told the tale of a jaded and lost generation in the middle of the 1980’s. The memoir of Susanna Keyson, Girl Interrupted, which I remember made me fear the possibility of something similar happening to me. All those were published before a time that really is remembered by the younger readers who are reading now. I don’t think they can relate with the times or culture before 2000, which is just unfortunate because the message that was being made at that particular times of those novels spoke volumes.
Of current books that I have read this past year, my tastes have run the gamut from terminal illness to incest and almost everything in between. Some to mention would be Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, a book set in Great Britain about a truly broken family in which a brother and sister find themselves in a taboo relationship. The Fault in Our Stars by the incredible John Green. His book is being adapted into a movie. If the film impacts viewers half as much as the book did me no one will leave that theater with a dry eye.
A very dark and disturbing view into sex trafficking with the Dark Duet books by C.J. Roberts will leave you wondering how the hell something like this exists. Incredible and frightening. Jeffery Euginedes debut novel The Virgin Suicides was a little of everything. You know, I laughed, I cried, I read it multiple times. Nicole Reed’s Ruining Series was a road through a dark hell of a young girl just plagued with trauma and tragedy. Colleen Hoover hit on some very touchy subjects in Hopeless. Honestly the end of her book left me a bit shocked, Sky’s reunion with her father was so disquieting and I remember the pivotal part where I just shook my head and said, “What in hell did I just read?”. Jessica Sorensen left me speechless with her book The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden. The violation of Callie was just beyond what one would assume and Kayden’s family life was sickening but so often reality. Just the idea that they could get past their issues in any small way made this book pure gold. And I can’t forget Alice Sebold with her compelling story The Lovely Bones. I had read her memoir which told of her own rape and fight for justice in Lucky. She is a strong woman for making it through that. And writing what happened one time was a lot to admire, writing the horror a second time takes fortitude and courage.
I recommend every book that I have mentioned above. Read them once for me and then again for you. It takes a special author to develop stories that stage horrific and hopeless events in a way that pulls you out of your comfort zone but allows you to think that somewhere in all that hell something more might exist. Sometimes the ending is vicious and as a reader, even you feel violated. Personally, I see that as a great accomplishment on the writer’s behalf. I have always been fond of saying, “good or bad, at least you aren’t indifferent.” Give me a story that makes my heart hurt, my gut wrench and my mind feel like I just survived something most people can’t live through.
I congratulate the authors who attempt and succeed to touch on issues that make readers ill at ease. Sometimes you need to be shaken up. Life isn’t just hot guys and girls, living haphazardly, and fighting with parents, siblings and best pals. Sometimes living is hard. And surviving is near impossible. There is crime, hate, impossible odds, terror, heartbreak, pain and shame that make it so hard to breathe that you just suffocate on the thought of the next moment. Awful and alarming things happen to people you know all the time. Maybe they don’t talk about it. Maybe they can’t. Books that pull you away from your own safety, leading you through someone else’s bottomless pit, give you a better sense of humanity. Sometimes having your world flip upside down can make everything around you mean a little more.
Thanks for reading this.
Edited because I mistyped Jessica Sorensen’s name as Jennifer. My apologies.
Middle of the week. I feel sort of like I haven’t done much this past week. The major reason for that is two crippling migraines since last Friday. The first I had for over twenty-four hours and then I had one on Tuesday that had me pulling my blankets over my head and sleeping most of the day. I’m actually beginning to wonder if Ricardo Montalban didn’t put a worm in my ear while I slept.
A small update about writing I have been working on… I scrapped the majority of the first six chapters that I had written for the first book of the Soul Wars. I have a working title for it and that title is Murmur of Souls. I was pretty happy with what I had before. As I wrote further into the story I began to see major issues between personalities, plot development and character support. I really burned my bacon trying to figure out how to make it work in a way that it would set up the second book and give this one some sort of intriguing end. I wrote out what I wanted as the goal of this book, how it would come about and actually worked backward from that. I also made a good sized list of names that weren’t so exotic and would feel more natural. It didn’t hurt that the newer names felt more intimate then the overly complicated I was discarding.
From that foundation I rewrote the prologue and first chapter so far. I more or less tossed the initial passiveness of Min and showed a lot more of her interactions with her friends and family. I felt this was missing in the first attempt and it left you with a watery character which bled into Min having a lack of personality. I have also changed the dynamic of her relationship with Jet to make it more combative. No relationship is more intriguing than two people who are stuck with one another and can’t stand each other. I feel like this will play out much better than what was there before.
Min and her brother chapter 1.
[Min]“Okay thanks, Mr. Adderly, for that Doomsday report. I am going to refrain from drinking the Kool-Aid.” My brother’s lips tilted up before growing into a shit eating grin. He leaned over to my ear and stage whispered, “You are lucky to have me even if I have taken on a little Jim Jones overtones. You my little Padawan learner have been groomed for this sort of youthful Apocalypse. Which horse are you going to ride?” “Cults, Star Wars and The Book of Revelations. My, my, Michael, are we preparing for a chance on Jeopardy?”
I spent a little time looking at the first chapter of le Cirque this morning. I wrote le Cirque in third person and when I did it I felt pretty secure in it. When I took some time away from it and then saw it anew, second eyes and all, I began to be nervous about that choice. I feel pretty strongly now that since this is Meridan’s story it would be better if it were in first person. Giving depth to the narrative that presently feels incomplete. The very thought of going through this story and re-hauling it feels pretty overwhelming. Most of the time I think this sort of thing and then I am blown away at the ease that I find myself making changes once I actually start writing. I hope this will be the case rewriting this.
Meridan and Verity while they are still in the Central. Third Person: “I am imagining that the small girl to the left in brown ringlets will be training hard before her next performance”, Meridan spoke quietly. Verity looked and made a sympathetic face. “It is so hard at that age. You are all arms and legs. Well I assume that is how it was for most everyone else. I was always was pretty close to perfect.” Meridan nodded watching still. Verity was a good friend, although she believed herself to be better than most everyone else. They stood silently until the end of the performance. The young girls left the platform and Legion Leader Martelle who choreographed the dances stepped forward to announce the next performance. As he walked back to his place to observe, Meridan saw him receive a note and watched his face as he read it and his look as he raised his eyes to the young girl Verity and she had spoken about. Meridan felt more unrest in her heart because she knew that that missive held an audit from one of the Legion males regarding her performance. That note could be telling Leader Martelle to discard her and that made Meridan feel sick. “She is being evaluated”, Verity said sadly, seeing the same thing as Meridan. “It’s not good”, Meridan agreed with the weight of Verity’s tone. “Have you seen her perform before?” Verity asked. “I’m sure I have but to me she has been unremarkable before tonight.” “It would be unfortunate if this is her first unsteady night and it still came down to discard her. Maybe I should have helped her train. I have always been so very good.” Verity stated. She continued, “No one gets a second chance with the Legion audits.”
Same Part with First Person Perspective: “I’m thinking that the small girl to the left with brown ringlets will be training hard before her next performance”. My voice was low and quiet as not to draw attention. Verity looked at the performers with as much sympathy as she could muster. “It is so hard at that age. You’re all arms and legs. Well I assume that is how it was for all the rest of you.” Her lips pursed and she squinted and flinched at another mistake. “I was always pretty close to perfect compared to you and the others.” I nodded at her since any other response would be lost on her. Verity was a good friend, but she was so full of herself I wasn’t sure if it was comical or irritating. We stood silently side-by-side until the end of the performance. The young girls left the platform and Legion Leader Martelle, who choreographed the dances, stepped forward to announce the next performance. When he walked back to his place to observe, I watched him receive a note. He nodded his head as he read it. His dark eyes sought the girl who had trouble. I felt my heart squeeze painfully because I knew that that piece of paper held an audit from one of the Legion males regarding the young girl’s performance. That memo could be telling Leader Martelle to discard her and that made sickness cramp my stomach. “She is being evaluated”, Verity said sadly. She was seeing the same thing I was. “It’s not good”, I replied, matching Verity’s tone. “Have you seen her perform before?” she asked.
I shook my head and said, “I’m sure I have she’s been unremarkable before tonight.” “It would be unfortunate if this is her first off night and it still came down to discard her. Maybe I could have helped her train. I have always been the most talented.” Verity stated. She shrugged. “No one gets a second chance with the Legion audits.”
Well that is where I am. This weekend is Memorial Day and I have plans to spend it with D. That means no writing for me. I think I may spend my free time reading some books. Maybe my next post will be a book critique.