Friday, November 18, 2011

Break Out

This week we have a very special guest for you. All of you know that paranormal is my absolute favorite genre to read, so it is with great joy that I welcome paranormal author Nina Croft.

Nina has a special gift for those of you who follow Fox Tales. She'll be giving one lucky commenter an ebook copy of book one of The Blood Hunter series, Break Out. So be sure to leave a comment and let us know you visited today.

I promise I’ll try to be still and not interrupt too much. Let’s get started!

 1. From your website, I see that you write paranormal, science fiction, and fantasy. What did you write first? And why were you drawn to it?

Actually, I first started out trying to write contemporary category romance. I submitted a few partials to Harlequin, got some encouraging rejections – they tended to like my voice but said I had way too much external conflict.

Then I realized I was reading far more paranormal romances than contemporary. Being a strong believer in writing the sorts of things you love to read, I decided to have a go. And loved it right from the start.

I think what really draws me to all forms of speculative fiction is the fact that absolutely anything can happen; the only limitation is your imagination.

2. Always curious about methods, are you a pantser or a plotter?

I’m a total plotter. I’ve tried both methods and if I try and pants it, I get lost in the middle and end up having to go back and do massive rewrites. So now, I plot. I outline and I do a scene by scene breakdown. Then I write a fast first draft. I’ve found it works best for me; I can concentrate on what the characters are doing in a given scene, without worrying about the bigger picture. It also gives me time to get to know the characters before I actually start writing.

3. Do you prefer music or white noise when you write, or is absolute quiet a must?

Quiet isn’t a must, but I don’t tend to listen to music when I write. Not because it distracts me, but because I end up just not noticing it, so there’s no point. Often if I’m stuck, then I’ll put some music on, and it often helps me through the rough patch.

4. You are an avid reader, as well as an author. Can you tell us what author is at the top of your auto-buy list? 

 It changes, but right now, Patricia Briggs, JR Ward, Jim Butcher, Janet Evanovitch, Karen Marie-Moning, Harlan Coben…

5. When you’re not writing, or reading, what do you like to do with your spare time?

I live on an almond farm in the mountains of Southern Spain. There are often chores to do around the farm; weeding, pruning, picking, making wine (we have a small vineyard). I also have a few dogs and enjoy taking them for walks. And I have a horse called Gencianna, so I ride most days. I’m also quite fond of lying under an almond tree, drinking wine, and admiring the view.

What incredible scenery! It would be hard to get any work done with a view like that. I commend you on your discipline.

6. As a lover of the creative process, where did you get the idea for your current release?

The Blood Hunter series is a mixture of genres. It’s science fiction, with a paranormal twist and a whole load of romance.

I’ve always been a huge fan of space opera, and I absolutely loved Joss Whedon’s Firefly. It was after watching this for the third time that I decided I wanted to write a space adventure. But I also love anything paranormal, so when the pilot of my space ship, El Cazador, kept hinting that he might be a vampire, I thought—why not.

7. Tell us about the series.

The Blood Hunter series is set in the future, where man has fled to the stars and there they have discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian. Extremely rare and exorbitantly expensive, Meridian is only available to a select few, and a new class has evolved—The Collective. Immensely rich and immortal they rule the civilized universe.

The series follows the adventures of the crew of the space ship, El Cazador, each book focusing on the romance of one crew member. Break Out, book 1, follows the romance of Ricardo Sanchez, owner, pilot and vampire and how he falls for a mysterious blonde, Skylar Rossario, who employs the crew to break her brother out of the Collective’s maximum security prison.

Book 2, Deadly Pursuit, releases this month. The book takes place in the aftermath Break Out, and follows the romance Skylar’s ‘brother’ who just happens to be a werewolf.

Break Out

The year is 3048, Earth is no longer habitable, and man has fled to the stars where they’ve discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian. Unfortunately, the radioactive mineral is exorbitantly expensive and only available to a select few. A new class comprised of the super rich and immortal soon evolves. The Collective, as they’re called, rule the universe.

Two-thousand-year-old Ricardo Sanchez, vampire and rogue pilot of the space cruiser, El Cazador, can’t resist two things: gorgeous women and impossible jobs. When beautiful Skylar Rossaria approaches him to break a prisoner out of the Collective’s maximum security prison on Trakis One, Rico jumps at the chance. Being hunted by the Collective has never been so dangerous–or so fun!

 8. What’s next for Nina?

I’m currently writing book 3 of my Blood Hunter series, but I’m also revisiting some of those contemporaries I wrote, and hopefully they’ll be released next year.

9. Where can we find you?


Thank you very much for spending time with us today, Nina. We wish you the greatest of success with your series!

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's A Wallbanger?

Most of us know what a wallbanger is. Or what it used to be. A book that was so terribly written, or that had such an unsatisfactory ending, that out of sheer frustration a reader would either literally or figuratively, throw it against the wall.

With the advent of ereaders, and tablet computers, I'm thinking we need a new term. I don't know about you, but I've come across a couple novels I would consider wallbangers recently. In light of the cost of my handy, dandy portable reading device, I practice restraint and don't toss it across the room.

But that doesn't negate the fact that there are still books that raise that emotion. So what do we call them now?

Is there a new phrase I'm not aware of? Or can we think of one?

What do we call the modern day wallbanger? Using a term that's acceptable in a PG13 situation, of course.

Looking for input here. Please feel free to comment. And after that, have yourself a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Novel Work – Excuse Me, Do I Know You?

In honor of this being NaNo month and all (no, I’m not doing it this year, but keep it between us, okay?) I thought a little novel work would be appropriate for all the editing that will be done next month. And what good is a great plot without awesome characters.  

Don’t you just love great characters? When I read a story with brilliantly written characters, it’s like I’m part of their world, swept away for a few moments from my own. Their problems become fascinating, their pain grips me, and their happiness lightens my heart. I remember them long after I’ve finished reading. Long enough in fact, to buy the next book that very same author writes.
As an author, wouldn’t you like to be able to write characters that are able to capture readers with seemingly little or no effort? Me too. So much so in fact, I find myself constantly reading books on the subject. And here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

1. Know Your Characters
This is number one because to me, it’s the most important. This sounds simple doesn’t it? Everyone gets to know their characters in different ways. Whether you use a character bio, astrological charts, or a check list, you as the author, need to know your characters past. While this may not transfer in so many words to the reader, it will show in the way your character responds to other characters, events, stressful circumstances, and sexual situations.

If you think about the lives of real people, everyone has faced challenges that shape who they are, and who they become. It’s no different for your imaginary people.

2. Know Their Place in the Story
What I mean by this is that each character has a role to play. Whether its hero, heroine, villain, secondary, or just a walk on, you must understand how they will interact with other characters. This will serve as a guide to how well you must know them, and enable you bring forth certain aspects of their personality that will not only move the story forward, but will also resonate with readers.

3. Understand Their Motivation
What do your characters want? Again, this is for you the author. You must have a clear idea what your characters goal is, in order to get it across to your reader in an entertaining manner. This is where you can really get into the deep point-of-view of your character, and pull the reader into the story. This is where reader empathy for characters begins. If the goal is not clear, your character could end up wandering around lost in the desert, and your reader will be lost. So lost in fact, that they try another author the next time.

4. Conflict, Conflict, Conflict
If you know your characters personalities well enough, and their motivation is clear enough, you’ll see immediately if your conflict is believable. If it’s not, don’t try to fake it. Readers won’t buy it. And to coin a phrase used a lot these days, let’s be clear: A Misunderstanding Is Not Conflict. Can a misunderstanding add depth to an already established conflict? Sure, if handled carefully. It can also add humor, and entertainment value. But by itself, it is boring. Totally.

One of the biggest mistakes an author can make, IMO, is to not know their characters. As your story progresses, if you find you are having trouble with your story being slow to start, sagging in the middle, or perhaps not having the emotional black moment that you’d hoped for, take a good long look at your characters. Review who they are, their place in the story, their goals, and the conflict. If you are willing to be honest with yourself, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to pinpoint the issue.
Happy Writing!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Silver House

This week I’d like to introduce author Janet French. She’s written an epic fantasy that has something for everyone. Welcome to Fox Tales, Janet. Let’s get started, shall we?
Thanks Sutton. It’s good to be here.

1.   Do you write full time, or do you have an evil day job?

I am not very diligent so I don’t think I would enjoy writing full time, I need people and variety. I am lucky to have worked for myself for the last twenty years and I love my work. I keep a craft shop so I am obliged to embroider or knit all day until a customer comes in, then I can talk about crafts. Pretty good! The shop will be quieter over winter so I should be able to write some days. If I don’t we will never know what happens next in the Cardanon Chronicles and I would like to find out myself. I only work off a very broad outline!

2.   When you write, do you feel more comfortable writing in the same place, such as an office or desk, or can you write anywhere?

Anywhere, as long as I have a keyboard and a screen! Can’t get on with that papery stuff.

3.   Do you prefer music, other noise, or total silence when the creative juices are flowing?

Silence please, otherwise my mind wanders. It really doesn’t need any encouragement. I can just about keep up the Twitter addiction without slowing the writing down.

4.   When you’re not writing, do you have a favorite non-writing activity?

Crafts, of course, but especially bobbin lace making. That is a hardcore craft for an obsessive personality. I just googled bobbin lace to be sure it was what I thought. Wow! Folks, if you aren’t sure, look it up. This woman is amazing. Bobbin lace is absolutely beautiful!

5.   I can’t wait any longer, how did you come up with the idea for this book?

It just grew really. I had been thinking for years about the natural forces that shape the world and the masculine/feminine balance in witchcraft and magic. That led me on to wondering how governments would handle a religious power when it was obvious the power was real and not a faith issue. One day I saw Marka and Genya in their cellar, clear as could be in my mind and just as they are in Chapter 2. After that, well, surely dragons, handsome heroes, cute children, a lot of adventure and a splash of humour is the obvious way to go, don’t you think?

6.   Please tell us about your current release.

The Silver House is a House of Power in the city of Cardanon. It is a refuge for the city’s children during the Zashran siege but when the city falls the House is hidden out of this world. A group of refugees from the city, mostly in their teens or younger, escape together and set off to find safety. They face all sorts of adventures as they travel and explore their world and soon realise not only must they warn the world about the Zashran, but the fate of the Silver House is in their hands. Oh, and there is treachery in the Houses of Power, a murder mystery, love stories, battles, magic, politics and loads of history and geography. Something for everyone, surely!

7.   What’s next for Janet French?

As far as writing goes I am pushing on as fast as I can with book 2 of the Chronicles, The Ruby Princess, and I am working on some silly stories for my grandsons who seem to like them. As to the rest, I am designing for cross stitch kits and bobbin lace and enjoying keeping shop.

8.   Where can we find you, to follow this fantastic series?

You can check out, all my contact stuff is there plus how to buy. It’s all on my Gypsy Shadow author page as well with an excerpt. Do follow me @cardachronicles, I love Twitter and I won’t overwhelm you with Tweets, just now and then when I can’t help myself. Maybe if you ask how the writing is going once in a while it will keep my nose to the grindstone!

Thank you very much for being with us today, Janet and being kind enough to give us a glimpse into your world. We wish you every success with your current release, and the rest of the series.