Monday, 29 April 2013

Undercover Lovers #16: Pregnancy Scare

In all honesty this story started off as a short and sweet little number in my head. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I hate pantsing. For those of you who don't know, pantsing is the term used for writers who write stories "by the seat of their pants". I don't like doing that I did with this story and it lead me down a dark path, one I don't like to travel. Also as a side note, as Wednesday is May 1st, I'll be starting my countdown to JuNoWriMo series. More details on Wednesday. If you ARE doing JuNoWriMo, let me know in the comments below so we can all suffer together.

Speaking of suffering (see what I did there with that segue) let me know what you think of this little ditty. I look forward to hearing your comments.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Mood Writing and Why Patient Zero Stands Out From the Zombie Horde

Meet Kai Kiriyama

Isn't she pretty? So her second book is coming out soon so I'm hosting a stop on her "Pathogen Tour" - more details there. She stopped by the blog to talk about mood writing and how to avoid letting depressing scenes keep you down. Take it away baby:

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Purpose of Fiction

I love television. I do. I don't understand how people can just watch a show - or not watch t.v. at all - it's a piece of fiction. It's entertainment. More than that, it's escape. And I know a lot of you are thinking "oh books are so much better than television" and you know what, you're right. There is nothing like picking up a paperback novel and staring at that front cover for the first time. But there is merit to sitting and watching a story play out before your eyes: they're both about the writer aren't they? But for the purpose of this I needed a segue into fiction in general which is what I'm talking about.

This is about why we as a society need fiction.

In my mind fiction has two main purposes: to explain reality and to escape reality.

People interact with fiction under the assumption that they will find at least one character to connect to and through that character they will find parallels and try to understand what's going on around them. It also helps to associate with a social/political/economical (etc.) situation and find not necessarily answers but ways of understanding what's happening. Death and Sex are the first two that come to mind but it's really everything around you. That's one of the many reasons I love New Adult. It directly addresses change in a way that YA and Adult might not be able to. It's about careers and relationships and education and making the big life changes at a relatively young age. But every genre has their situations that parallel reality that need to be explained away in order to escape.

Escaping fiction is the idea that I like coming back to. The concept is so simple: it's taking a look at the world and deciding "I'm going to step back for a bit and be a pirate, or be a princess, or be whatever I want to be because in fiction, I'm whoever I choose to be." While you can certainly take those principles with you into the real world, everything starts in the world of imagination. And that's what fiction is; one person's fantasy shared with the world so others can jump into their head for a little while and escape whatever is chasing them in the real world. And there are no limits to the journeys and the worlds and even the dark situations that can be explored.

Fiction is all about possibilities: one way of looking at reality.

And every book - every time you read that book - is a new way to escape reality or explore why the world might work this way.

Read a book like Heat Wave by Richard Castle that has so many elements of the world it's based upon that it can be taken as a study - a testament - of why people do the things they do. Or a series like Between by Cyndi Tefft that has elements of both fantasy and reality so it becomes an idealized world of darkness and love. Or a book like Into Fire by Brittany Westerberg that is pure fantasy and yet introduces recognizable characters as a reminder that even the most incredible places have rings of truth and accountability to them. No book is without basis in the real world - that's why we love them. No matter how far away the books take you, you still get to come back to earth and apply what you learned.

The world of fiction is no different from reality in that it's all a matter of perspective. It's how a person handles a situation and presents themselves and interacts with others. It's how one individual perceives the world. No matter what is happening in the world we need fiction to help explain why and to escape into the unknown. There might not be answers but you don't have to answer all the questions because you are swinging through the trees with Tarzan, or hoping your foot fits the glass slipper, or you're an ordinary girl with problems that can be explained away. Those pieces of fiction can define a lifetime.

Fiction fuels imagination which seeps into reality. Reading a book requires risk taking and dreaming - a deadly combination - because fiction is the inspiration for reality. And that's why we need fiction to understand and let go of the world around us in favor of the one we imagine can be.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Undercover Lover #15: Russian Spy

This one is fairly short so you should be able to get through it quickly and provide comments? This one needs comments. I'm butchering the Russian language which I've always found to be attractive so please correct my terrible language skills. On top of the butchering I'm incredibly tired and I'm currently seeing triple so I'm going to just leave the image of this woman speaking Russian (with one line in Croatian) and maybe that'll make up for everything. Happy Monday!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Realism in Fictional Murder

Last week I talked about Skeletons and the month before I talked about Body Decomposition. Next month the plan is to discuss blood spatter but today, I just want to touch on why I'm doing this series.

Crime fiction – with the exception of paranormal and science fiction – is written as a parallel to reality. How the audience sees these situations is a direct result of how the writer presents reality - I know that may seem obvious but stick with me here. It's the job of the writer to depict their reality in a way that their readers can connect to and the way that's done in Crime Fiction - and any fiction involving death - is to be accurate but creative. Your readers are not stupid and some part of your audience is going to know the specifics while the other part is expecting to be informed properly. Entertaining but educational. That's what I think crime fiction should be. Making the audience forget that it's just fiction.

That is accomplished by knowing the basics - at least. That was the inspiration for creating this series. Over the last several years I've found myself fascinated with death - one day I will try to explain it to you - and I've always wondered what the point was of writing a piece of fiction based in this reality that wasn't realistic. Death and crime in general is everywhere and there has never been a time when writers could get away with not doing their research but now, more than ever, writers have to be on top of forensics if that's what they're going to write.

But also this series is just for the deathly curious; the people who just find forensics interesting. I invite people to correct me - I am not a professional or an expert on this subject by any means. This is just me in my morbid curiosity writing down and sharing the things I find dark and interesting. You are all welcome to join the macabre club and send me suggestions, pointers, ideas; anything that you'd like to see me tackle?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Sex With Cora Carmack

Look, who I found lurking around.


It's Cora Camack, author of Losing It. I convinced her to hang out and talk about sex in New Adult Fiction.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Undercover Lover #14: Glechik Cafe

So just a little background: Kate Beckett spent part of her junior year in Kiev and she admitted to occasionally going down to the Glechik Café in Brooklyn and pretending to be a Muscovite. Now she made it sound so sexy but the café is this family-style restaurant and ever since I discovered that I've had to write a scene like this.

Admittedly it got a little away from me but it ended up nicely, I thought.

It also brought up the concept of taking on new personas in different environments which I always thought was fun. Have you ever pretended to be a totally different person just for fun? The world is too big for just one person to explore it all. Be new!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Forensic Fridays Part 2: Anatomy of Murder

Meet Ed. He's a skeleton assembled by the Archaeology Department at the University of Calgary for learning purposes. The fun part is that he's made out of real bones instead of plastic like all of the other skeletons. He's going to be your friend for today's lesson.
Hello my precious darlings, I'm back with part two of the Forensic Series. Today I'm going to be breaking down some basic skeletal structure for you. These are the technical terms your Medical Examiner would use - and a lot of these terms will be useful down the road when we get into the darker, murder-y stuff like hangings and drownings and such.

Of course these aren't all the bones because frankly 206 is a lot to go through so this is just the basic stuff.

Again I want to thank El, my best friend in the world for helping me out with this project.
Now without further ado, let us begin.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Storm is coming...

It's the day of the storm! Okay enough silliness, I am here to talk about THE STORM by Madison Louise found on twitter here and on the her blog here.
Madison is a teen homeschool writer, writing away the stresses of life.
She lives in Ohio, with her parents and her younger sister. She also loves to dance, (she’s a whiz at Just Dance) and reads as many books as she has time for. The songs she listens to be inspiration are from Disney Channel’s Camp Rockand Highschool Musical. Her computer is full of unfinished books. 
Her debut novel, Shadow Future, is about a girl who tries to find herself, and tries to get through life, as it throws it's worst at her—paranormal style. 

Monday, 8 April 2013

Undercover Lovers #13: Assassins

Life update (because I know you guys love these): for some inexplicable reason I was up until about 2AM last night going through my copy of the 2012 Writer's Market. It's this giant book of publishers, agents and contests along with over 200 pages of just advice from freelancing to staying organized to learning how to query. I was never really worried about querying because I still don't have anything to query but I feel like it's just a great skill to have. Especially for me, the unemployed who honestly has no idea what she's doing. But it is very random that I was up doing that. It settled my mind though which got me in this mindset of doing random things today. It might not be the best use of my time but it's not wasted and it will accomplish something at the end of the day. One cup of coffee at a time, right?

Friday, 5 April 2013

Writing Fiction From Fact

Hello my darlings, I'm just here to wave a quick hello before I let the lovely and talented Patti Callahan Henry take over. She stopped by today to talk about her newest book "And Then I Found You" which is based on the true story of her family and is to be released on April 9th 2013. So, without further ado, I present: Patti!

From Goodreads:
Katie Vaughan is no stranger to tough choices.
She’s made them before. Now it’s time to do it again.

Kate has a secret, something tucked away in her past. And she’s getting on with her life. Her business is thriving. She has a strong relationship with her family, and a devoted boyfriend whom she wants to love with all her heart. If Kate had ever made a list, Rowan would fill the imagined boxes of a perfect mate. She wants the facts to move from her head toward her heart and settle in with deep love, something past admiration and comfort. But when Kate discovers the small velvet box hidden in Rowan’s drawer, she panics.
It always happens this way. Just when Kate thinks she can love, just when she believes she can conquer the fear, she’s filled with dread. And she wants more than anything to make this feeling go away. But how?
When the mistakes have been made and the running is over, it’s time to face the truth. Kate knows this. She understands that a woman can never undo what can never be undone. Yet, for the first time in her life she also knows that she won’t fully love until she confronts those from her past. It’s time to act.
Can she do it? Can she travel to the place where it all began, to the one who shares her secret? Can the lost ever become found?
And Then I Found You gives new life to the phrase “inspired by a true story.” By travelling back to a painful time in her own family’s history, the author explores the limits of courage, and the price of a selfless act.
In this heartfelt novel of love, loss, and reunion, a woman reconnects with her first love, and the daughter they placed for adoption some thirteen years before.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

And Then I Found You: Dear Reader

Dear Reader,


Over two years ago, in the middle of an ordinary day, the extraordinary happened, and my family will never be the same.


Some twenty-one years ago my little sister placed her baby for adoption. It was the most heart-rending, courageous and difficult decision she had ever made, and we all wept with her when she handed her baby girl to an anonymous, yet hand-chosen family. Then . . . two years ago, I received a Facebook friend request from a young girl with the same birthday as my adopted niece. It was too much to hope for, almost too miraculous to believe. But it was true: my sister’s daughter, my niece, found us on Facebook.


Our family had often talked about my niece, using the name my sister had given her. We remembered her whenever we saw a girl who would be her age at that time. Every time my parents moved into a new house, they planted a tree for her and we all prayed for her happiness and safety. We knew nothing about her – all those years we didn’t know where she lived or with whom.  Although we knew that legally she could find us when she turned twenty-one, there was no way for us to find her. And then finally, all those years of unknowing and all those years of wondering culminated in a reunion that most dream about.


My sister’s story was the inspiration for this novel, AND THEN I FOUND YOU.  It is my way of exploring the way we live with unknowing. We want certainty, We want solid ground under our feet. We want to be sure of our place in the world, and yet we rarely, if ever, have that certainty.  So then, how do we live? And what happens when the lost become found?


Although the personal facts are left for my sister to tell, the fictional story in AND THEN I FOUND YOU explores the emotions and extraordinary change that reunions bring to a life and to a family.


I hope this story touches your heart.




Patti Callahan Henry

Monday, 1 April 2013

Undercover Lovers #12: Vampires

Tonight marks the 100th episode of ABC’s Castle which is an incredible milestone in television and I think it deserves all the recognition for being an incredible show. I started watching the show in the fall of 2009 right before season 2 started. It was a really bad time in my life; I was in the middle of High School and my best friend had just passed away and I was feeling very alone and very lost and more than a little terrified about the future. I had also stopped writing because I couldn’t get my thoughts onto paper without having some breakdown. Since I was probably about 8 years old I knew that writing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life – I still have the first manuscript I ever wrote from when I was 12 years old (it’s call “Guardians of Legend”). But at that time I was very busy with competitive dance and I just…stopped writing. And then I watched the pilot for Castle.

I watched the entire first season (10 episodes) that first day. About half way through the pilot “Flowers For Your Grave” Stana Katic does this ^ very powerful scene that stopped my heart. Here was this actress whose name I couldn’t even pronounce (at the time: it’s St-aw-nah K-ah-tick by the way) and she blew me away with her incredible talent and remarkable beauty. So I googled her. Turns out everyone was thinking the same thing because everyone was asking who she was. They all knew Nathan Fillion but it was Stana Katic, the Canadian Serbo-Croatian goddess that attracted audiences to learn about this show and this woman. I ended up finding this ridiculously cute TV movie series “The Librarian” that she acted in just prior to joining Castle as well as a slew of TV guest spots and movies were she stood out as the one to watch. I read a few interviews and followed her on twitter, wondering if this actress was as incredible off camera as she was on. Turns out, she’s better. She has such a positive outlook on life and an incredible work ethic and she’s kind and sweet and crazy and takes incredible risks and does nothing by halves. This was the woman I wanted to idolize. And I really do and it’s all thanks to Castle.

More than that, it inspired me to get back to writing. I mean it’s a love story about a writer and a cop with an incredible team of writers that knows exactly how to enchant an audience. I sat down at my desk right after watching the season 1 finale and started writing. I don’t remember what I wrote (I think it was a kidnapping scene for something) I just remember feeling a tiny bit of the weight lifting off my shoulders. From there, I kept writing; I fell back in love with the written word and even my taste in fiction developed because of Castle. I was always a hopeless romantic which reflected a lot in my writing but I also had this interest in the macabre. Kate Beckett asked a question that still stays with me: “Aren’t you curious how people can do this [murder] to each other?” Since then, I’ve been wondering the same thing and have starting to explore that in the stories that I plot and write. Death has grown on me. I started writing fan fiction as well which has introduced me to a new community of people who helped me open up and became very dear friends.

I can attribute a lot of the person I am today to the things I gained from watching Castle: A love of Mondays and coffee; a love and appreciation of love and the unknown; an empty bank account; a new and broader taste in music; a larger library; knowing it’s okay to laugh and it’s okay to ask for help; a new wardrobe (have you seen Beckett’s jacket collection?); a desire to be more than who I am; a lot of sleepless nights; the ability to look back on a bad time in my life and not dwell; a community of writers and others who are just as lost as I am; and the best friend I have ever known (thank you El).

So really I just wanted to say thank you to Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller for creating Castle and to the cast and crew and the fans for letting me in and introducing me to this world. Thank you for giving me this outlet to write and to read and to grow. Most of all, thank you for 100 episodes of love, murder, tears and laughter. This community means more to me than I ever thought possible.

But speaking of writing, I have today’s chapter of Undercover Lover: Vampires for Dinner. It is a sex scene and a bit odd at that so if blood and naked people aren’t your thing then you can stop reading today, it’s okay. But if you do read, I would love to know what you think – especially if you have any pointers on improving adult scenes, it’s definitely not my strength.

I think I’ve talked long enough. Let’s get on with the story.