Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Authors Interview...YOU! Talk to Sandra Cox & Win A FREE Book!

Today, I begin a new series...with a twist. Instead of the standard author interview, where you read all about the author, I thought it would be cool to turn the tables and let the authors interview you.

Here's how it works:

Read and respond to the questions from the author below (just put your answers in the comment section).

Leave a way to contact you should you win a FREE book.

That's it! This week paranormal romance author Sandra Cox is offering a free ebook copy of her chilling YA vampire book, Vampire Island. Just answer the questions below and I'll pick a winner on Wednesday, June 30.

1. Is your decision to purchase a book based on cover appeal?
2. Do you have a select handful of authors you stick with or are you adventurous and read whatever book sounds appealing regardless of who wrote it?
3. Do you prefer your heroines and heroes beautiful and hunky as long as they come across as real human beings or  would you prefer more average, possibly a little overweight characters?
4.  Does age matter? For instance would you read a book with a sixteen year old as the main character? With a fifty-something main character?
5. Whether print or e, do you buy when books are first released or wait till you can get them on sale?
Sandra Cox writes YA fantasy, historic and paranormal romance and metaphysical nonfiction. Sandra lives with her husband, a menagerie of pets, and an occasional foster cat in sunny North Carolina.  Her thirteenth book, GROUNDED,  a YA/YAH paranormal has just been released through classactbooks.com. Visit Sandra on the web here.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mystery Author Neil Plakcy on Why He Writes

Today, I'm thrilled to give you successful mystery author, Neil Plakcy cluing us in on what makes him tick...

By Neil Plakcy

Writing is the way I filter the world, the way I organize and make sense of my experiences. It's what I do with all the people and places and ideas that crowd my head.

I was driving home from work one day, feeling cranky about my students, my colleagues, my partner, and the pressure of constantly grading papers. I started spinning a little fantasy to entertain myself. I'll run away, I thought. I'll just pick up and move somewhere else, start a whole new life.

Where would I go? It would have to be someplace warm. After twenty-plus years in South Florida, I can't live in the cold any more. How about Tunisia? I've never been to Africa, and it sounds exotic and very different. And of course I'd have to meet a guy there, someone handsome and buff. A bodyguard!

That was the genesis for Three Wrong Turns in the Desert, my first Liam and Aidan romance adventure novel. I couldn't just pick up and move to Tunisia, but Aidan Greene, a teacher of English as a Second Language, could. Especially after he was dumped by his partner of eleven years.

The handsome bodyguard? He's Liam McCullough, a former SEAL who left the military under Don't Ask, Don't Tell because he couldn't keep his secret and his self-respect, too.

Pretty soon, the characters took over. Aidan met Liam at a bar and then got roped into helping him track a Tuareg tribe through the desert. Along the way, they fell in love and earned the happily ever after ending I love to give to my characters.

Maybe that's part of why I write, too. To create those happy-ever-after endings that I love to read, and want to achieve in my own life. From the Honolulu homicide detective hero of my Mahu mysteries to the couples who populate my romance novels, I want my guys to be happy. Sometimes that means going through a lot of sex, suffering and adventure, but they get there.

I love telling stories and making stuff up. That's another part of why I write. It's just fun to do. Well, maybe some of the rough drafts aren't that much fun, and fixing problems found by editors is kind of like torture-- but it's great to sit back after a day's writing and feel like I've moved the story forward. That I'm creating something readers will enjoy. Like Scheherazade, I'm spinning tales.

I hope that my characters will take hold of readers the way they've taken hold of me. I just can't stop writing about them! This month, Aidan and Liam are back, in Dancing with the Tide. Aidan's determined to become a bodyguard, and he and Liam are hired to protect a young Arabic pop star who has gotten death threats after coming out of the closet. I'm already working on a third adventure for them, as well as more mysteries and other books.

In the end, I guess, I write because I just can't stop.

Neil Plakcy is the author of the Aidan and Liam bodyguard adventure series, Three Wrong Turns in the Desert and Dancing with the Tide. His other books are Mahu, Mahu Surfer, Mahu Fire, Mahu Vice, and Mahu Men, about openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka, GayLife.com, and In Dog We Trust, a golden retriever mystery. Visit him on the web and find his books at Amazon.com, or direct from MLR Press and Loose Id.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Top Ten List of Things I MUST Do Before Writing

One of the gifts my dear mother left me was the art of procrastination. Nowhere is this gift more evident than each morning when I sit down to write.

Here then are my top very important, essential things I simply must take care of before I can put one word down on paper:

1. Post a new blog, like this one
2. Update my Facebook and Twitter status
3. Play a game of Spider Solitaire
4. Walk the dog
5. Empty the dishwasher
6. Play another game of Spider Solitaire
7. Accept/reject Facebook friend requests
8. Answer e-mails
9. Check the sales ranking of each of my books on Amazon
10. Play another game of Spider Solitaire (will I never get tired of you, my love?)

Bonus: Take a new picture of myself with my Mac's handy-dandy PhotoBooth software (see above, note the link to #4 on the left...she's waiting for her walk)

So what do you do to put off what you should be doing? Really--tell me so I have one more reason to put off working on my work in progress...
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I was surprised and thrilled to see that writer Jamie Craig is today giving away a FREE ebook copy of my latest novel, A DEMON INSIDE today on her blog. All you have to do to enter is go to the site, click on "speak" and leave a comment. Winner will be selected at random on Sunday. Here's the link to enter:


The new book is available right now only in ebook format directly from the publisher, MLR Press, but will be available shortly in both print and ebook formats from all the major online booksellers. Here's the blurb:

Hunter Beaumont doesn't understand his grandmother's deathbed wish: "Destroy Beaumont House." He'd never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother's wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.

But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And who---or what---he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, a caretaker for the estate next door, but is the man salvation...or is he the source of Hunter's terror?

Read an excerpt here: http://www.mlrbooks.com/AllExcerpts.php?name=excerpt/ADemonInside.inc

Don't want to wait around to see if you win a copy? Purchase your copy direct from MLR Press here: http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=DEMONIN1

Thanks for reading...and good luck!

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Author Ashley Ladd Likens Writing to Breathing

Today, I'm happy to give you romance author Ashley Ladd, pontificating on why she puts pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard...

Why I Write
By Ashley Ladd

That's like asking why I breathe? I can't not write. If no one else was ever to read another word I write, if I was never to earn another dime writing, I'd still write. I'm an obsessed writer.
I also write to get the voices out of my head - oops! Don't tell the men in the white coats I said that.

Seriously, many characters live in my head who struggle to get out, who demand their stories be told. Sometimes their voices are louder than my own.

Writing is also cathartic. I've worked out issues in my life, I've struggled with them, I've inspired myself. A few years ago I wrote an erotic romance Civil Affairs in which I lost a lot of weight as the heroine of my story did. In another story, "Sorry Charlie" in the Friction anthology, my hero is trying to reconcile with his father, something I've also gone through. I'm getting ready to start writing another story that will help me to exorcise a demon and to come to grips with something in my life.

I also live vicariously through my characters. I'll probably never captain a starship in the twenty-third century but when I create a starship captain, I become that person; I live the life of my dreams. I'll never get to time travel to the Wild Wild West or jump into a cartoon in real life or become a vampire or fight with crazy ghosts in real life or have a verbal battle with my cat, but I get to do all these amazingly miraculous things and more when I'm writing.

Ashley Ladd is an Air Force vet who longs to captain a starship, travel through time, fall deeply in love, and converse with cats, not necessarily in that order. She writes M/M, MMF, and MF erotic romance. Upcoming releases include "Crazy In Love", "Bad Conduct", and "Carnal Lust" from Total-E-Bound.com. She loves to talk to her readers and fellow writers at her blog.   
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why I Don't Go to Bookstores Anymore

So my sister, Melissa, and my niece, Mallory, were in Seattle, visiting for me for a few days and my niece asked if we could go to a bookstore so she could pick up a new book, since she had finished rereading one of those Twilight sagas for the umpteenth time. She didn't want any of the gay-themed books I tried to press upon her. What can I say? It breaks my heart...


Being the good host and uncle I am, we trekked out to University Village, where there's a huge Barnes and Noble store. Two stories, music, movies, and more books than you could shake a stick at. Thousands upon thousands of them, all begging, like pups in a pound, to be given a good home.

Personally, I rarely go to bookstores anymore, which might surprise you. I'll tell you why.

First of all, I immediately get pissed off at Barnes and Noble and their Nook device. Why? Because they allow Nook owners to read ebooks in their stores for up to one hour...for free. I have a lot of books available for the Nook, many of them shorts (which can be read in an hour), which means the free policy robs me of any royalties I might get. Why buy the book when you can read it for free in the store?

But my Nook quibble is minor. What really makes me not want to go in bookstores anymore is, as an author, I find them depressing. Even more, as a gay author, I find them doubly depressing.

It's Pride month, and I searched in vain throughout this ginormous store for a LGBT section. There wasn't one! And I really couldn't find even many gay-themed books, which made me sad.

But what really gets me down (like rainy days and Mondays) is the bookstore itself and all those books. All those books! It almost makes me want to throw up my hands and surrender (or at least throw up). How on earth does one compete with all those books upon books upon books? Going back to the dog pound analogy, one has to wonder how any dog/book ever gets adopted when the pound/bookstore is so huge?

Fortunately, I am a glass half full kind of guy, otherwise a trip to the local Barnes and Noble would send me into the deepest pits of despair. I see it this way: somehow, I do manage to sell my own books, even though you'd have to order one to get it into my local B&N. So I'm very grateful that, with all this massive competition, there are still readers out there who not only seek out, but actually spend their hard-earned dollars to see what I've dreamed up.

And when I think like that, I realize I'm a pretty lucky guy.

One more note: when I walked into the store, I said to Melissa, "Don't let me buy any books." I have a to-be-read pile at home that rivals the Sears Tower. But did she listen to me? Did I listen to myself? No, I snatched up a copy of God Still Don't Like Ugly, the sequel to God Don't Like Ugly, which I had just read.
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Monday, June 21, 2010

C.G. Royale Writes Because She Wanted to be a Rock Star

Today, New Orleans scribe and editor, C.G. Royale clues us in on her plan for world domination...and how and why she settled for writing instead.

Why I Write
By C. G. Royale

I came up with several answers to the question why I write. My first night pondering the topic over margaritas at the corner bar resulted
in a list of about five reasons -- mostly tongue-in-cheek -- including
the fact that I'd always wanted to be a rock star, but no one would
play with me, so I figured writing was the next best thing.

But when I think about it seriously, I write because I have always
written. I can't remember a time when I didn't throw myself
whole-heartedly into any writing assignment given to me, particularly when it was fiction. If a teacher gave a short-story assignment, I turned in a novella. When I was a behavior issue in the fourth grade, the teacher's solution was to allow me to write so I wouldn't disrupt the rest of the class.

My propensity for the written word probably resulted from being an
only child, growing up in a household that had no cable television,
and having parents who were both avid readers. They made books with me when I was a toddler, co-authoring the text, drawing the illustrations, and covering the finished products in fabric bindings. I still have some of these. When I was school-age, if I finished
reading a book in the evening and had nothing else to read, my parents would take me out then and there to buy something new from the local bookshop. One of my favorite memories from my childhood is one of those trips in search of more titles by L. Frank Baum right after I'd finished The Lost Princess of Oz.

Writing also gives me as much escapism as reading does for others. I
see the settings vividly in my mind, and I experience them first-hand as I craft a scene. Through writing, I am able to visit times and worlds I wouldn't otherwise be able to. Sometimes, for me, it's as good as watching a movie. William Blake is said to have had the same capability, but I'm sure his was on a whole other level from what I experience.

If all things go according to plan, I don't foresee a time when I'll ever stop writing. I'm fortunate enough that I get to share my passion with others, and that readers have received at least some of my work enthusiastically. I have a wonderfully supportive husband who -- as Richard Ford recommends -- thinks it's a good idea that I am a writer. My husband is my best critic and loves me enough to tell me the truth about my writing. I couldn't ask for more.

G.G. Royale has written erotica for over ten years. Recently, she earned her MFA in creative writing. Her work appears on Web pages and in anthologies, and her first novella, The Lovely Kittengirls of Mew Orleans, released with Loose Id February 16, 2010. Two more books have been contracted as well. Check out C.G.'s website and her blog.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

What Makes Jesse Write: Dark Romance Author Jesse Fox

Today, I'm pleased to give you Jesse Fox, a writer and publisher of "dark gay erotic romance." She shares with us what inspires her...and what makes her give in to that obsession we call writing.

Why Do I Write?
By Jesse Fox

That’s an excellent question.

Most people will admit life isn’t easy and we all have ways of dealing with the daily stresses. I began writing at eighteen when I went out on my own, mostly bad poetry, and for me it was cathartic. Simply a way to deal with those stresses both past and present.

As I grew older though I realized it was an innate part of who I was and not just a poor excuse for a therapist. Writing for me became as important as eating, drinking, sleeping, or breathing. Without its presence, I felt empty, lost, and adrift in a world that at times seemed to misunderstand who I was. I spent twelve years working to improve as a writer and always the dream to become a published author lurked in the back of my mind. During those twelve years, I came to realize that I had something to offer the world as I began receiving e-mails from people who asked me numerous times why I wasn’t doing this for a living.

When I started out on this journey though, it was in the world of fandom, and I nearly stopped before I even started simply because I was feeling sorry for myself. One person though saved me from my own stupidity all those years ago. What she offered was the greatest gift, in my opinion, that a writer can receive.

It was December 23, 1999 and while sitting in front of my computer, I bemoaned the fact that no one seemed interested in my writing. Opening my e-mail, I noted one with the title of the story I’d slaved over for six months as the subject line. Curious I opened and read the letter from a girl in Chile. Her English although decent was broken, but what caught my attention was the emotion.

Sam, as I came to know her, stated she’d been depressed and on the verge of suicide when she found my story. After reading the first chapter, she was mesmerized and discovered herself waiting in excitement for the next. With each chapter read, the realization that she no longer felt alone nor depressed came over her, but she was still too nervous to comment on it. By the time she’d read the final chapter Sam, who was just about to start college, knew what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to touch people with creativity as I had done with her.

Suffice to say I cried like a baby. It took me two days to find the words I needed not only to express my thanks but also to invite her to continue our correspondence. We became fast friends for a number of years and although I no longer speak to her on a regular basis (we’ve went our separate ways), I will never forget her.

I write because I know that my words can touch the hearts and souls of those who care to read them.

Jesse Fox is the pseudonym of a St. Louis based writer of dark gay erotic-romance. Born in the foothills of the Ozarks, she relocated to St. Louis in 1986. In the spring of 2008, she became one of four authors to launch Dark Roast Press out of Chicago. Visit her blog.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010


Note: this review originally appeared as part of my column, "Grimoire" at Dark Scribe magazine.

Horror literature is filled with tropes. Look at all the rules, traditions, whatever-you-want-to-call ‘em surrounding vampires and werewolves. There’s a whole ‘nother set of well-worn paths when it comes to writing about haunted houses. It can make a confused horror fan wonder if there really is anything new under the sun.

The answer is yes and no. Even I, as a horror writer, will admit that something truly horrific and original is really hard to come by these days (for that, I would refer you to Sarah Langan or the early work of Kathe Koja, i.e. The Cipher). One of the many comforts of any genre fiction is that, with it, often comes familiarity. We read horror (and mystery, thrillers, or romance) because we know what to expect.

Lesli Richardson’s haunted/possessed house story is a good old-fashioned horror story about a house built on cursed land and the evil that comes to visit the generations that follow the initial evil and who have the nerve or naiveté to inhabit the land. From The Turn of the Screw to The Haunting and on to The Shining, we’ve read this story before.

And yet we haven’t...

Read the whole review here.
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