#TalkAboutItTuesday The Working Mother Balancing Act.

On #TalkAboutItTuesday, I post topics of interest to me for discussion and answer ANY questions you have on ANY topic. This was a question I received a few Tuesdays ago, along with my answer.

Catherine: Where do you find the time to write, work and have a life too?

Dicey: Hiya, Catherine! I do what I have to when I must, and carve out time to do what I really like to do when I can. That’s Greek for–I don’t have a life.

More specifically, my husband and I have a legal practice, so my work time is more flexible than it would be if I worked at a legal firm for someone else. I work as many cases or as few as I can stand each month. That involves more paperwork and computer time than most would desire and a few court appearances. During this summer, both of my children (3 y/o and 5 y/o) have been home with me. With them as my priority, my caseload slackened a bit and my writing time dwindled to nothing at all. I wrote my first few books with one or both of them at home with me, but I prefer to write without constant interruptions. When they go to bed during the school year, that’s when I normally write. However, I’ve been so worn out this summer, I usually find more relaxing things to do in the late night hours.

It’s like that sometimes. Sometimes I can balance my responsibilities better than at other times. Since writing isn’t just something I enjoy doing but also something that helps to maintain my sanity, I have to be more strategic about when I get it done. The way I make sure I write and finish my books is by setting deadlines. Though I haven’t written much this summer, I know that I plan to have the next book published by Oct. 31st. That means, come hell or high water, it will be done. As the days of no writing tick away, I have that deadline at the forefront of my brain, which means the moment my children go back to school, and my days are my own again, I will be hitting the manuscript hard. Working late into the night. Around the clock. Drinking energy drinks to maintain the energy necessary to get it all done. But it works. I have yet to miss a self-imposed deadline.

My life? Other than spending time with my family, watching TV shows/movies, working out, and reading books, I don’t do much else. Every blue moon, I’ll hang out with my girls. Sometimes I go to a social event or even host one. That’s it. I’m happy with it…just wished I was able to travel internationally.

Maybe one day.

So I squeeze it all in by prioritizing. The things I MUST get done, I schedule. The things I want to get done, I make time for, usually late at night, burning the midnight oil. Sometimes, I multitask (reading while on the treadmill, cooking dinner while watching The Vampire Diaries, typing this FB response while my children brush my hair and scream in my ears). I imagine this is the same type of balancing act all working mothers have to do.

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The question is now directed to other working mothers. How do you balance your many roles and tasks?

On another note, my children went back to school yesterday. YAY! Now, I’ve got to get back on my work and writing grind with more intensity.

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The Wild World of Fetishism.

When you get around to reading my dark fantasy novel, Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul: The Narcoleptic Vampire Series Book #1, in addition to discovering it’s pretty awesome, you’ll find that the setting is a fetish club. And since I don’t have any particular fetishes–that I’m going to discuss on this very public blog–I had to do a lot of research to adequately cover this part of the story. A lot of FUN research, I might add.

Yesterday, a fan of my novel asked this on my FB page: “i was wondering what research you did to find out about the intense fetishism”

Well, thanks for asking because I love talking about my book. I also have a twisted fascination with things that are outside-the-box. Controversial. Unusual. Oftentimes, offensive to mainstream folks. To those who believe in clearly-defined rights and wrongs, blacks and whites. I happen to see a very liberal middle-of-the-road and all shades of gray…and it’s so much more fun.

So let’s talk about fetishes. More specifically, where did I get all the fetish information to make my characters seem believable and real, even in a paranormal world?

This is my working fetish definition, taken from dictionary.com: any object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.

After clearly defining what I was looking for, I went on a Google hunt for various fetishes and read up on waaaay more than I bargained for. Having heard of a few through the years, I was surprised to see the laundry list of things people are into. And whatever wasn’t on one list was on another. There were lists after lists of things people find erotic. Of things they NEED to actually enjoy a sexual encounter. I discovered one could have a fetish about ANYTHING. Fat, plants, toothpaste… Nothing is too bizarre…not, if you’re the one attracted and fixated on it.

After studying the definitions, classifications, and character traits for the nonexhaustive list of fetishes, I read online forum discussions, community websites, psychology reports, journal case studies, wikipedia pages, you name it.

Then I watched a bunch of fetish movies and porn. Yes, I said porn. Some seemed interesting enough to try (and wouldn’t you want to know what I tried, but I’m not telling 🙂 ). Some things looked out-of-this-world unbelievable. Some things made my eyes bleed, and I wish I could remove the images from my memories.

Some fetishes are mild, some extreme. Some hurt physically, even death can occur (ie. autoasphyxia). Some are not inherently harmful, but may cause psychological pain, especially if a person doesn’t feel normal, tries desperately to conform and can’t (ie. media fetish–rubber, latex, silk, vinyl, leather clothing). Some fetishes are comforting, rewarding (ie. a person who needs role-playing partnered with another who needs role-playing). Some interfere with a person’s relationships or lifestyle (in which case, professional help may be necessary). The one thing that seems consistent, is that most people like to keep their fetish a secret, unless they are around others with a similar fetish.

I do my best not to past judgment on others, so I read and watched with curiosity, and without the mindset of “these people are crazy” or “they must have been abused as children” or whatever morals people who don’t understand or even try to understand impose on people who are into something different. That’s not to say that some of these cliches are not true in some cases, but that’s not for me to decide. I only wanted to learn.

I feel like I’m rambling now…

What I mean to say, dearest fan, is that I studied and immersed myself in fetishes that seemed interesting (or odd) enough to write about. And I assure you there is more to come.

Where I Got The Idea For Such A Taboo Subject.

“Dicey, you seem like such a sweet, smart, sane woman. Where in the world did you get the idea to write about a thirty-nine-year-old married mother of three having an affair with a sixteen-year-old boy?”

Good question. I have every intention of answering, but you know I like to do lengthy intros first. So…

First off, thanks! I am a little sweet and smart, but I’m insane in the membrane. And I’m not the only one because the idea for my novel SHAMEFUL derived from a discussion with a close friend, who thought it would be an interesting topic as well. Plus, sales of my book have been going quite well. So, that tells me others are interested in reading something different. Even if it is taboo.

Secondly, thanks for actually asking me about it. Normally, when I tell folks about the book, they start counting how many kids I have. I have TWO. I look nothing like the woman on the cover. I have never cheated on my husband. I was thirty-four when I first started writing the story, and I’m only thirty-seven now. No, the book is not a memoir. It’s not an autobiography. It is NOT about me or my family. Got it?

Now…

How did my friend and I get on the topic?

We had just finished reading…

(drum roll, please)

The TWILIGHT series.

You read right.

We read all four books. In a little over a week.

I am a vampire fanatic who fell in love with Jacob’s character. 1. He’s a huge dude, well over six feet. 2. He’s at least 110 degrees hot, which I prefer over Edward’s ice coldness. 3. He’s sweet and devoted to Bella, who’s constantly getting his feelings trampled on. 4. He has a Native American-tanned complexion and long hair…until he cuts it. 5. He can turn into a killing machine and kick some ass.

My homegirl and I were squealing over his character like all the rest of the Twihard teenage girly fans. And it seemed weird. I mean Jacob’s a teenager in the books. It didn’t seem right to love his character so much. At least we could watch the movies without feeling pervy. Because Taylor Lautner didn’t quite look like the Jacob we imagined.

Then he packed on thirty pounds of muscle.

Hello.

Our convos got reeeeally interesting then. And I saw bunches of forums with grown-ass women discussing Jacob/Lautner too. Most had completely overlooked his age, which was seventeen at the time. Others wrote about all the “interesting” things they’d do to ol’ Lautner after he turned eighteen. Not that it mattered, because none would EVER have a shot with him, but I looked up the age of consent laws and learned he was legal in most states.

Hmmm.

My story had been born. BUT that wasn’t good enough. And older woman having a younger lover has been done a million times in a million different ways. I deliberately dropped his age to sixteen so that I could address all the issues that would arise if those middle-aged women from the forums actually did get their hands on an underage Lautner…or Jacob…or my character Alex.

I can’t believe I just revealed that secret.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

An Interview With Dicey.

EDITED ON NOVEMBER 28, 2011 (see below)

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This is an interview I did for ILoveVampireNovels.com in preparation for the release of their first anthology. I was thrilled to have the first five chapters of my debut novel Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul: The Narcoleptic Vampire series featured in their book, but I have yet to see this interview posted to their website, an author page, links to my book, or “tons of ‘Viral’ promotion opportunities so your new fans can help spread the word about your books!” as listed on their FOR AUTHORS page. Since it was completed over two months ago, I’m beginning to think it has fallen through the cracks and they have moved on to other things.

Nevertheless, I took the time to do it. So, I will make sure my fans have an opportunity to read it. Keep in mind it was submitted September 13, 2011, so some of the information is outdated now. 😦

1. When did you decide to become a writer?

In the middle of my eighth grade year when I was fifteen-years-old, my family and I moved to another city. It wasn’t that far away from our old place, but far enough that I had to change schools, neighbors, and friends. Well, not all my friends. Especially not Pam. We kept in touch. But this was pre-internet days so I spent a lot of time writing long—I mean, loooong—letters to her. It was my escape, my refuge, my way of remaining connected to someone safe…someone strong. In fact, I made it through my years of teenage angst due to writing those letters to Pam. From there I wrote songs and poems, but never shared them with anyone because it was just my way of coping. It was the foundation for me wanting to become a writer. Now that I’m an adult, I still purge my aggressions out on paper. Writing what I think and feel is my preferred outlet. Some people sing. Some dance. Some cry. Some take pills. I write.

2. How long have you been writing?

I wrote as a means of dealing with my emotions when I was a teenager. Then, I wrote academic papers throughout school. Next, I wrote on blogs, submitted essays for contests, and free-lanced small jobs. Within the last three years, I’ve devoted a significant amount of time to writing fiction books.

3. What types of books are you reading?

Paranormal romance. It’s an addiction. I don’t favor books that are just romance or just paranormal. I LOVE when there is a mixture of both. And I especially love it when there is a series. I will read every single one of them, one right after the other.

4. What was your favorite part of writing your book? The hardest part?

My favorite part of writing SLEEPY WILLOW’S BONDED SOUL is when my characters took over. I mean that, really. I was happily writing according to my outlined plot and characterizations, when suddenly my characters decided to do something different than what I’d planned. It happened a couple of times. In re-reading my story, those surprises were the best parts of the book.

The hardest part of writing my book was getting over what my parents, my pastors, and my super-religious-holier-than-thou friends would think of my graphic sex scenes and foul language. When I realized it shouldn’t matter what they think because this is what I like to read and write, it was a breeze. I’m sure to give people a warning message before they say they want to read my book though. Beware!

5. Tell us what it’s about.

Instead of regurgitating the synopsis, which can be found on my website (diceygrenorbooks.com), I will say, SLEEPY WILLOW’S BONDED SOUL is about Willow, a vampire who has narcolepsy and works at a fetish club where she specializes in necrophilia. She’s attracted to Remi, one of her fans who happens to have a personality disorder. Max, Willow’s maistre vampire, doesn’t play that Remi shit. And while Willow’s working through her relationship drama, VET, the vampire extermination agency, is after her ass. And they aren’t the only ones.

The book has lots of twists and turns, lots of supernatural beings and elements, and lots of suspense and action.

Visit my website, click on Books, and view the official synopsis.

6. What are you working on now?

Besides marketing/promoting SLEEPY WILLOW’S BONED SOUL, which will be released on Oct. 1, 2011 as an ebook and Dec. 1, 2011 on paperback? I’m writing the sequel. I’m also gearing up for the release of my other novel, SHAMEFUL, on Nov. 1, 2011.

7. What is your favorite part of being an author?

Telling the story in my head and having it appreciated.

8. What do you do in your free time?

You mean after my one-year-old son and four-year-old daughter are asleep? I read, write, and watch movies. I am a movie/book fanatic.

9. If you could give a piece of advice to your readers on anything,
what would it be?

Read my book if you are not easily offended. If you don’t like to read about sex, violence, or blood, share my book with someone you know who does. And you know of someone. If you read it and love it, tell the world!

10. If you could give advice to new writers, what would it be?

Finish your damn book. Edit the hell out of it. Edit it again. And then again. Keep at it until it is your absolute best work.

Interview Questions From Fans:

From Barbara Irving: if you could be any fictional character who would
you pick and why?

Bella. No, not from “Twilight”. From “Lover Awakened” by J.R. Ward. Why? Because Bella’s strong. Just look at what she had to go through, yet she survived. And she didn’t let those bad experiences dictate who she would become. When it was time to do some killing, she could do that too. She’s beautiful and confident and totally devoted to Zsadist who in turn, is totally devoted to her. As screwed up as Z is, she’s able to see past it to the loving man he is underneath. But she doesn’t take any mess from him or from her brother Rhev. She doesn’t let anyone force an agenda on her. She fights back and goes after what she wants. And she knows what she wants.

From Carrie Humphrey: When sitting down to write a novel, whether it be a vampire one or something different, what’s the first step you take?
Outline? Blurb out ideas? Just write and see where it takes you?

I spend a few weeks letting the ideas simmer around in my brain until they begin to swirl and boil over until I can take it no more. If I don’t sit down and write it down, I will forget something good. So I start writing, putting the ideas in to an outline. After I work on the outline a few weeks, I start putting the book together. Most of the time I begin writing the book by copying and pasting already written scenes from my outline. Once I’m in the story deep, the outline is just a guideline. The characters take over.

From Sarah Lynne Brenzott: How much Vampire reading had you done before you began as an author? Do you think the vampires that you got to know in literature aided you as developed both your plots and characters in your own writing?

I read series after series of vampire books before writing my own, so I’d be a lying ass if I said none of those stories aided in the development of my plots and characters. I’ve incorporated everything I loved about other vampire stories in to my own books and avoided the things I hated.

I love how Rice’s books are mostly told in first person and how the vampires are very sensual. Hamilton is queen at “revamping” her protagonist in order to keep the vampire hunter series going through twenty books. Ward’s alpha warriors are the sexiest bad boys ever and her fast-paced story-telling is amazing. I love that Harris introduces several supernatural elements and has a variety of species. I’m in awe of Kenyon’s historical tie-ins and I’m warmed by her emphasis on ever-lasting love. I love Meyer’s werewolf descriptions and the suspense she surprisingly maintains throughout her meaty-sized books.

So,  yes. This is where a lot of my inspiration comes from. But my book is uniquely me.

Rose E. Barrett: With all the “Vampire legends” and whatnot already out
there(i.e wooden stake, burn in the sun, immortal) how do you keep your characters original?

I give my characters new and improved weaknesses and strengths. There are some of the things we’ve come to expect about vampires, but how many have you read with narcolepsy? That’s just one example.

Debbie Wright: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep writing until you finish the book. I can’t begin to tell you of all the people I talk to that say they want to write a book but don’t know where to start or that they’ve started but stopped before they finished. That’s no good. If you haven’t started, start. If you haven’t finished, finish. Nothing to it but to do it.

If they happen to post this interview to their site along with the aforementioned promotions, I will update this blog to reflect those links.

To read another interview with Dicey, go to CJ Johnson’s blog.

#HardOutHereForAPimp

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THIS POST WAS EDITED ON NOVEMBER 28, 2011 TO INCLUDE THE LINK TO WHERE THE INTERVIEW HAS BEEN POSTED ON ILOVEVAMPIRENOVELS.COM.

Interview With Dicey.

You’ve heard about this awesome new fiction author, Dicey Grenor, and you want to know more about her, right? Maybe you’ve even read the first chapter of Sleepy Willow’s Bonded Soul: The Narcoleptic Vampire Series here and you’re curious about the woman behind the madness. Right?

Well, CJ Johnson, took the time to post an interview with me on her blog to answer some of your most pressing questions. The questions that will keep you up tonight unless you get them answered right this minute.

How do I balance family and career? Do I still practice law? Why do I write under a pen name?

Check it out here.

And then sleep well.

Yes. I Am Different.

When I tell people I’ve written a few books, they usually assume it’s something scholarly because of my background in academic writing. So I’ve tweaked my intro and now tell folks I’ve written a few novels. Which leads to a whole nother set of assumptions, the first being that I must write urban fiction.

No, I do not.

I don’t know if they find it intriguing or disappointing to learn the answer is no, but the response is usually, “Oh, really?”

Yep. Really.

My novels are a reflection of who I am. And I am different. My characters are different.

When people assume my characters are African-American because I am, I quickly inform them my characters are multicultural. So, yes. There are African-American characters. But there is so much more than that.

My novels will appeal to people who want something different. To people who think outside the box. To people not easily offended…and like sarcasm and dark humor. My target audience is people who enjoy unconventional romances, gritty story lines, action with bloodshed, and a deviation from dull, everyday life. I follow no formula other than my own:

INTERESTING, COMPLEX CHARACTERS + CRAZY, SEXY TENSION = HELLAFIED ENTERTAINMENT

You say–“But Dicey, maybe your novels loosely fit within the urban fiction genre.”

Well, let’s see. According to wikipedia: “Urban fiction, also known as Street lit, is a literary genre set, as the name implies, in a city landscape; however, the genre is as much defined by the race and culture of its characters as the urban setting. The tone for urban fiction is usually dark, focusing on the underside. Profanity, sex, and violence are usually explicit, with the writer not shying away from or watering-down the material. In this respect, urban fiction shares some common threads with dystopian or survivalist fiction. Urban fiction was (and largely still is) a genre written by and for African Americans.

The underlined part does fit. However, “SLEEPY WILLOW’S BONDED SOUL: The Narcoleptic Vampire Series” is dark sci-fi/ fantasy and SHAMEFUL is written in first person voice of the Caucasian protagonist. Therefore, I think it’s safe to say neither of them qualifies as urban.

Urban fiction is no more me than Christian fiction or Young Adult. And I have to be true to myself.

Don’t be mistaken–I’ve read some urban fiction that I loved: Omar Tyree’s “Flyy Girl“, Sister Souljah’s “Coldest Winter Ever“, Zane’s “Addicted“, Eric Jerome Dickey’s “Friends and Lovers“, Michael Baisden’s “Maintenance Man“, E. Lynn Harris’s “Not A Day Goes By“, and Terry McMillan’s “Disappearing Acts“. And being the book addict I am, once I read one by the author, I read them all. All of them prior to 2002. Ah, yes… I LOVED these books. (click on the titles for more info about each book.)

But I’m a different kinda writer.

Am I African-American? Yes. You’ve seen the photo or know me personally. But I know nothing about the streets. I’d have to call around to find someone to find me someone to sell me some weed. I got no cool swag. I just walk. I’m the girl who picks hip-hop music based on the beat ’cause half the time I don’t understand what the artist means. Yeah–I hear what they’re saying, I just don’t get the street lingo. For instance, these are lyrics from DJ Khaled’s “I’m On One”:

“Two white cups and I got that drink
Could be purple, it could be pink
Depending on how you mix that shit
Money that we got, never get that shit”

Cause I’m on one
I said fuck it I’m on one”

Someone please tell me what the heck this means because it went over my head. Is he referring to a particular well-known drink that I should be familiar with or just a hypothetical drink? What does “I’m on one” mean period?

Psst. Lean closer. Let me tell you a secret…

My entire high school graduation class consisted of fifteen people…and I was the only African-American. When I was a teenager, I moved to a neighborhood where we were the only African-American family. I went to a church where the pastor was Caucasian and the congregation was mixed. I did cross-word puzzles and other geeky stuff instead of watching BET music videos. Now, these things were not by choice, mind you, but a part of my reality nonetheless.

I find lines like “Is you wit’ me?” and “conversatin’ on the phone” irritating because the bad grammar sounds like fingernails dragging down a chalkboard. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I understand it’s usage for emphasis sometimes like when Lafayette on “Trueblood” says, “I is”. And yes, just like my usage of “nother” and “kinda”, some of it is stylistic. But it still gives me cause to pause when I hear it. I still cringe involuntarily.

So you see? I may be black (happily so). But I’m no urban fiction writer.

Honestly, do I seem like someone you want writing your urban fiction? I didn’t think so.

Why Indie Publishing?

Why not?

No, really. Why not?

Self-publishing is not a last resort for me. It is my chosen path. I didn’t shop “SLEEPY WILLOW’S BONDED SOUL: The Narcoleptic Vampire Series” to a bunch of agents and publishers then decide to publish it myself because of form rejection letters. No, I grabbed my vision by the horns and ran with it. I researched. I studied. I researched some more. Then I had an aha! moment where everything clicked and I knew exactly what needed to be done.

With the technology available (e-readers, online social networking, drop and drag website development…), I figured I’d be silly not to publish my own books. I could put a query together and spend the next few months sending it out to the-powers-that-be then waiting another six months for responses. If someone happened to request a partial, I could send it to them, wait for them to request the full manuscript, send it, then wait another few months for an okay. Then I could negotiate and haggle about contract terms. And wait another year for my book to be released according to an editor and publisher’s specifications.

Or I could do it all my way. In my time.

Yes, there’s more work on my part to make my books professional. I have to go beyond simply writing an awesome story. I have to edit it like there’s no tomorrow. Then I have to have an eye-catching cover that still accurately represents my work. And I have to have everything formatted properly for digital copies and for print. And I must have a great printer and distributor. After that, I have to put it all together and come up with one hell of a marketing campaign to make sure everyone knows about my work.

But I don’t mind. If I had a large publishing house backing me I’d still have to promotemy work on my own. There’s really no getting around that if you want to sell books.

Sure, I could lessen my workload by contracting some of it out. And when I have a mind to, I do. I hire only the businesses and artists I choose.

Yes, there’s a lot of work involved, but that’s probably not the reason self-publishing isn’t more popular yet. Some people still feel the only legitimate books are those published by known publishing houses. And maybe once upon a time that was true. But just like the typewriters those old books were written on, that legitimacy idea is now antiquated.

That was the first thing I had to do–get it out of my head that the traditional publishing route was the only “real” route. The only one that would validate me as an author. That’s just not true. My research indicated self-publishing is the way of the future. In fact, many successful, long-time authors (like Holly Lisle) are now turning to self-publishing their works. This is what she had to say, “After years of publishing my fiction through big commercial publishers, with thirty-two novels sold to the big New York houses as well as to international publishers around the planet, and with more than a million books in print, I have decided to move to self-publishing my fiction.” Click here if you’d like to read more.

I don’t blame anyone else for getting an agent and shopping to publishers. I’m just grateful to live during a time when I have other options. Where my dreams can be realized without jumping through anyone’s hoops but my own. The thing that validates me as an author is when someone buys my book and enjoys it.