Author Jasmine Haynes Writes to the Max.

I’m so excited to have Jasmine Haynes, author of the Max Starr  paranormal erotic mystery series, on my blog today! In this series, Max uses her newly acquired psychic abilities, a connection with her ghost husband, and the expertise of a hunky detective to solve several murders. The series is compelling from book one, with a flawed-yet-loveable lead character, and it gets even better with each book. I highly recommend it for those who love a little smut with their paranormal and enjoy reading suspenseful mysteries.

Dicey: Thank you so much for agreeing to interview for my blog. I am a big fan of your Max Starr erotic paranormal mystery series and look forward to reading more of your books. I wish I had millions of subscribers so I could tell more people about them. Please answer the following any way you like.

Jasmine: First, thank you so much for having me, Dicey. It’s a great honor to be here with you. And now to your questions!

Dicey: At some point while reading Desperate to the Max (book 3 of the Max Starr series), I realized I was reading several short mysteries within one long mystery. I thought it was brilliant how you placed subtleties throughout the previous books without giving too much away. Okay, okay. My question is—was this part of your master plan or did you let the characters dictate how the story would go? In other words, did you plot this series from the beginning to go this way or did it evolve as you wrote it?

Jasmine: The series actually evolved as I was writing it. I came up with the idea for Dead to the Max, Book 1, as a stand-alone book. But as I was writing it, I fell in love with Witt, and I began to wonder why Cameron had died. I just felt it had to be something much more than a mere robbery. I’m not sure at what point I decided that I would write five books; they just seemed to write themselves and tell me where they were going. In Evil to the Max, I didn’t actually know who the killer was until Max figured it out. I thought to myself that there would be a lot of “seeding in” I would have to do in revision, adding all the clues, but when I went back, I actually found that all the clues were already there pointing to who the killer was. That’s what I mean when I say that this series actually wrote itself.

Dicey: Remarkable! The way everything ties in together is nothing short of genius.

There is an abundance of explicit sex scenes within each book. How did you prepare to write each so that they were sexy and fresh? I noticed an acknowledgment to your mother about your books being “adult”. How do you feel about her or others you know personally reading your books that contain these scenes?

Jasmine: The sex scenes in the books are actually defined by the characters involved. Sex between Max and her ghost husband was very different from sex between Max and Witt, as was sex with all the other characters. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying that Max “feels” the emotions of some of the murder victims and “witnesses” some of the things they do. So of course the sex involving these characters also was defined by who those people were. By writing to each characterization, the scene then became fresh and yes, sexy. Regarding my mother and other friends or relatives reading my books that contain sex scenes, I don’t have a problem with it. I do warn them that it’s very sexy, so it’s really “reader beware”. However, my mother doesn’t tell the ladies at her church what my pseudonym is, LOL.

Dicey: Some of the sex scenes would probably be considered risqué by many, but they didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I prefer the daring nature of them. Do you ever worry about going too far or offending readers? What would you say to someone who called the scenes “trash” or “too erotic”?

Jasmine: I’ve gotten several reviews on reader sites such as Amazon that do not like all the sex, but the whole story and series was based on sex. Sex was what made these people who they were, their sexual histories. Sex drove Max, it drove all the women who were murdered, it drove their killers. I think I’m very clear in the description/blurb of the books that this is an erotic series, plus I also state it in the front of each book, so I think there’s fair warning. And to those who call it trashy or too erotic, I just have to say that’s the way I write. I like to write hot sex, and I’m too old to be ashamed of it. I will say that there are some scenes of a sexual nature which are not intended to be “hot sex” but are intended to show the desperation of my characters. For those scenes, I included them because once again they were integral to my characters, to show why they took the actions they did, or felt those driving emotions I mentioned above.

Dicey: I saw those reviews and wondered what the readers expected. Your warnings are everywhere. Goes to show, you can’t please everybody, so write what you want.

This series contains characters with various professions: an accountant, a nail technician, a hair dresser, a phone sex operator, a hooker…I mean working girl, a few lawyers, a sexy detective, and more. What research did you do to make these characters believable?

Jasmine: The different professions were a lot of fun to write. The accountant, that was easy. I was accountant for over 20 years before I became a full-time writer. I had a very good friend who was a nail technician, another who was a hairdresser, one who was a lawyer, and I pestered them with lots of questions. As for the phone sex operator, I actually called a phone sex line and talked to the girl about what she did, how she got the job, what she liked and disliked about it. And I had to pay for the call, too! The hooker was harder. Honestly I just made most of that up, based on what I thought it would be like, what I’ve seen on TV and in movies. I made her into the woman I wanted her to be, not necessarily what was real. The sexy detective, I did do a lot of research. I belonged to a lot of mystery writer online groups. They had guests who were in the criminal fields. Also, one of my writer friends who wrote a lot of mysteries asked some of his cop experts the answers to some questions for me. I did a lot of reading, and I also had a book that defined cop terminology.

Dicey: Do you write fulltime? What does a typical day’s schedule look like for you?

Jasmine: I write fulltime now, thank goodness. I feel for those writers who have to work during the day and do the writing at night. I’m very lucky to have a husband who goes to work every day and brings home the medical insurance. The typical day for me is rising at 5:30, making my husband’s mocha, taking my 50 minute speed walk, then I tackle my promotion. That means Facebook, twitter, answering e-mails, commenting on blogs, writing blogs, doing interviews, and so on. Then I dig into the writing. If I’m writing a new draft, my goal is 2500 words a day. And I generally stop writing around four o’clock in order to fix dinner. I figure if my husband is going to work for me, I can at least make him a healthy meal.

Dicey: I had to pull out the dictionary several times while reading your books, which makes me think you have an extensive vocabulary. Do you speak the way you write? Did you have formal creative writing training or English courses? If not, what would you attribute your mastery of the written (and perhaps, spoken) word?

Jasmine: LOL, I do love words. I’ve always been a big reader, since the time I first started reading, so I gained a large vocabulary. I would have to say that yes I speak the way I write. So sometimes I use some big words, especially if they’re fun, like obstreperous. I just love that word. I took formal creative writing classes in high school; in fact, I wrote my first book for my high school English class. I took writing courses in college, though my major was business administration. After I graduated, I continued to go to night school for writing courses. In addition, I attended a lot of one-day workshops and seminars. The Romance Writers of America was hugely important in my craft work. One of my favorite writers, Robert Crais, said in a talk I attended that if you wanted to learn how to write, you should join the Romance Writers of America.

Dicey: Guess I better join the RWA.

It appears your books were previously released via a publishing house and now are self-published. What brought about this change? How have the experiences differed? Which do you prefer and why?

Jasmine: When the new self-publishing technology came out from Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., I asked for the rights back to the Max series. My publisher,, was very good about returning them to me. And I have seen good success with them. I think it gave the books new life and exposed them to a lot of new readers, which I’m very happy about. I’ve also gotten back the rights to some of my Jasmine Haynes books, a couple of my Jennifer Skully books, and I’ve written some new material just for self-publishing. However, I’ve recently signed another two-book deal with Berkley, who published most of my Jasmine Haynes material. Self-publishing versus going through a publishing house both have their pros and cons. With self-publishing I get the book out much faster, but I also have to do all the work myself, which includes having the cover image made, all the formatting, uploading, etc.

Dicey: I’m glad you were able to get the rights and control of your books back. Congrats on your recent Berkley deal!

What was your inspiration for the Max Starr series?

Jasmine: Okay, you’re probably going to laugh at this, but I was angry with my boss, so I created a character that I could hate. I’d also wanted to write about a psychic detective. And I love ghosts. So all these elements just started coming together. Once Max and Cameron came to life in my mind, the series wrote itself. In the first book, I needed a cop, of course, since there’d been a murder so I made up Detective Witt Long. Well, he took on such a huge personality that he just had to keep coming back for all the books. But he was originally intended as a secondary character as the cop who would interview Max after that initial murder in Book 1. Another example of characters taking on their own life and directing the story!

Dicey: If you could pick a celebrity face to represent your characters, who would they be for Max Starr, Detective DeWitt (other than Dudley Do Right), Bud Traynor, Cameron Starr, and Ladybird?

Jasmine: I think Betty White definitely should play Ladybird, Witt’s Mom! The others are harder. If he was younger, I would’ve had Kurt Russell play Witt. He played a character named MacReady in The Thing, and that’s how I’d want him to play Witt. He would be absolutely perfect, although he doesn’t look a thing like Witt! As for Max, a character on Dexter, a show I love, Dexter’s sister Debra, I would have that actress play Max. I think her name is Jennifer Carpenter. Max and that character, Deb, are very similar in my mind. Prickly, hyper, etc. Cameron, Hugh Jackman would be great for him. I just love Hugh Jackman! And now for Bud Traynor, it would have to be Malcolm McDowell. He can play such urbane yet pathological characters. He’d be perfect.

Dicey: Um… I LOVE Dexter too. Jennifer Carpenter would make a perfect Max.

You write under the pens Jasmine Haynes, Jennifer Skully, and JB Skully. How do each of these alter egos differ? Which persona do you prefer and why?

Jasmine: The only books I wrote as JB Skully were the Max books. As the Jasmine Haynes name grew, I started publishing them under that pseudonym instead, so basically JB no longer exists. She was hard and gritty, befitting Max. Jennifer Skully is my laugh-out-loud side, and Jasmine Haynes is the hot-and-sexy side. I don’t prefer any of them, I like them all. Sometimes I want to be silly and funny, and sometimes a bit more serious. And sometimes a bit of both!

Dicey: You have written so many books! Which one is your favorite and why?

Jasmine: That is always the hardest question. I love the Max series, because I pretty much channeled those characters and they came to life. I also love Fool’s Gold because the town characters so amused me. I patterned the setting after the little Nevada town that my brother-in-law lives in. And many of the situations that happened were stories he told me about. Open Invitation and Somebody’s Lover are also two of my favorites because they are so emotional. I actually cried while writing those stories. I’ve got the rights back to them and will be issuing them as individual novellas.

Dicey: What are you working on now, and when will it be released?

Jasmine: I’m working on several things. I’ve just finished the first draft of Twisted by Love, Book 1 in my Reincarnation Tales. I’ve also finished the first draft of a short sequel to my foursome novella, Kinky Neighbors. I’ve got to do revisions on those two and hope to have them out during August. Then I’ll be doing another book in the West Coast hotwifing series, probably for early fall release. And, as I mentioned above, I will be writing two new books for Berkley, which will be out starting in 2013.

Dicey: Jasmine, I may have gotten out of hand with this. Please excuse my excitement. Your answers will give me more insight as a reader and fellow, albeit more amateurish author. Thank you again! I wish you much success!

Jasmine: And I probably got out of hand with my answers, Dicey! Thank you so much for having me, and for enjoying the Max books so much. Readers can find me at and follow me on my blog at I’m also on Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook. It’s been a pleasure!

Anyone interested in starting the wonderful Max Starr series can download book 1 for free on Smashwords for a limited time (apply the coupon code listed next to the book). Beauty or the Bitch, Double the Pleasure, and She’s Gotta Be Mine are also free right now. I can’t wait to read more of Jasmine’s books.

The Day The Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour…

…has been live and in full effect since Dec. 26th.

Good thing it lasts until Dec. 31st. Gives me plenty of time to jump on the train and visit the following awesome blogs by some awesome authors.

Gives you plenty of time too. Join us for fun activities and contests by visiting the blogs! Also, check out the author interview links and book covers below.


Johanna K. Pitcairn

Matthew C Wood

Micheal Rivers

Axel Howerton

Renee Pawlish

Andy Holloman

Tim Ward

Tim Ward podcast

Jason McKinney

Keith Weaver

Andrew Bell

Dicey Grenor

Rae Lori

Marie Harbon

Amanda Haulk Taylor

Joseph Pinto

Julie Jansen

Kelly DeWitt

Kim Koning

Caitlin Hopper

Alesha Escobar

Marissa Farrar

Cecilia Robert

Edward Owen

Georgina Kamsika

James L. Hatch

Lindsay Edmunds

P.R Mason

Qwantu Amaru

Shelley Workinger

Nadina Boun

Julia Antione

Charles Jones

Michelle Franklin

Brian Johnson

Sheila Lamb

Diane Hartsock

Eileen Clemens Granfors

Andrea Pearson



Since I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing several of these authors prior to the tour, I’ll add links to those interviews here along with their book covers:

Alesha Escobar: Warlocks, Wizards, Occult Powers…and WWII?

Georgina Kamsika: Blood, Corpses, and HELL.

Nadina Boun: The Woman Behind “The Thinking Man”.

James L. Hatch: Lucifer’s Match Wear Heels…And Teaches.

Julia Antoine: Black Top Hat, Summer, And An Eagle.

Micheal Rivers: Ghosts On The Coast…Of NC.

Cecilia Robert: Beware. The Grim Reaper Has A Novice.

Kim Koning: A Writer With A Charitable Heart.

Black Top Hat, Summer, and An Eagle.

The next author interview I am happy to feature on my blog is with Julia E. Antoine. She has several blogs for you to learn more about who she is as an author: Julia Antoine, Ju Ephraime, and Ju Ephraime1. You will also learn more about her books: The Man In The Black Top Hat, State of Ecstasy, and Temptation to Sin.

This interview will appear differently than the others because the questions did not originate from me, but the answers are still informative about the author. And it’s just in time for our The Day The Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour that officially begins today.

Let’s get started…

Q. If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
A. I would most definitely go back to the past. I like the past and the way some things were. The simple life.

Q. If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
A. My father. I had a very close relationship with my father, and sometimes I miss him terribly.

Q. What is one book everyone should read?
A. I would have to say, Oliver Twist. It has something for everyone.

Q. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
A. The Man In The Black Top Hat, is based on a true story, and it’s disturbing, dark, and cutting edge.

Q. Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
A. Yes. I am currently working on finishing my novel, Loving Therese. It won the NaNoWri this year, and it’s the follow-up to my first novel, State of Ecstasy.

Q. What inspired you to want to become a writer?
A. My love of reading, which took me to all the different places I could not go to in real life. It was my escape.

Q. Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
A. Receiving positive reviews from my readers, and knowing they were patiently awaiting my next release.

Q. What is your favorite Quote?
A. “Perseverance is the key to success.” Julia E. Antoine

Q. Who are your favorite authors of all time?
A. Lisa Kleypas, Karen Hawkins, Gaelen Folly, Christine Feehan and Sherrilyn Kenyon. There is something unique about each one.

Q. If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
A. Driven To Endure

Q. What’s your favorite season/weather?
A. Summer. I love the heat of the summer. There are so many fun things to do in the summer.

Q. How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
A. I went out to dinner.

Q. Hidden talent?
A. Interior Designer.  I can walk into an empty space and visually see the finished product, when no one else can.

Q. If you were a bird, which one would you be?
A. An eagle. I admire the graceful elegance of the eagle.

Q. Favorite places to travel?
A. Europe, the Caribbean.

Q. Favorite music?
A. Classic Rock.

Q. In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
A. I’m not going to put the name out there; I’m very superstitious that way.

Congratulations on winning the NaNoWri this year, Ju! Thanks for sharing these answers and giving us a glimpse into who you are and what makes your books special.

Lucifer’s Match Wears Heels…And Teaches.

Missed me? Well, I missed you, dear reader. Been itching to get back to this blog all week, but circumstances prevented it until now. Oh, yes–my family’s trip from Texas to North Carolina for the holidays was H-E-double-hockey-sticks, but we finally made it safely.

Speaking of HELL…

I had the pleasure of interviewing James L. Hatch, author of The Substitute,where Lucifer meets his match in a high school substitute teacher. James has written several books, but since we’re discussing HELL, I thought this one was highly appropriate. Plus, James is one of our wonderful authors for The Day The Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour, which begins tomorrow.


1. My, goodness. Who does your covers? They are stunning. Do you tell your designers what you want or just see what they come up with on their own?

James: There’s an interesting mixture of creativity—some mine and some others. The cover for The Final Experiment was created entirely by the publisher, The covers for The Judge and Infinity Quest were collaborative produced between and me, whereas I worked with a local studio to create the cover for The Empress of Tridon (an image of my daughter’s face is superimposed atop a Hubble Space Telescope image) and Aftermath Horizon (I took the mountain picture from Mt. Rainier, and the studio later used Photoshop to add crater images from the Nevada Test Site web page). Solstice Publishing was entirely responsible for the covers for The Substitute and Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! Likewise, Eternal Press created the cover for Kill Zone with no input from me. The amount of my involvement has been driven entirely by the creativity of the assigned artist, and the publisher’s willingness to accept input from me. was very flexible when their artist was a little overwhelmed, so I helped where I could. To my surprise, my favorite covers (The Substitute and Kill Zone) were developed by publisher artists with little to no input from me. In both cases, the artists read the book, and then used their own impressions of the text to create the cover.

Dicey: Wow. That seems like an involved process. And it works, especially for The Substitute. I made sure to link to each book. I’ll be happy to update this post with the link for Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! when it’s released.

2. With seven novels and one short story, which one did you enjoy writing most and why?

James: Without question, the most enjoyable to write was The Substitute. I had completed my Sci-Fi trilogy and my contemporary fiction works, and wanted to make a change in genre. The concept for Miss Havana, a stunning substitute teacher who everyone loved to hate, struck me in a dream, and I immediately got out of bed and started writing. It was a case of the main character (Miss Havana) taking over the author in quite a literal sense. I laughed almost the entire time I wrote that book – for about two months. Solstice accepted the novel in less than 24 hours from the time I pitched it (the editor wrote that she could not put it down). The only purpose for The Substitute is to make people laugh; however, all the biblical references in it are real. What struck me funny, while Miss Havana outwitted Lucifer and her daughter, Lilith, was the wild interpretations I could give to the biblical references. I tried to be accurate relative to the twenty-seven indicators pointing to the rise of the Antichrist, but every “rule” has a humorous (and a bit twisted) implementation.

While The Substitute is definitely my favorite, Aftermath Horizon runs a close second. Aftermath Horizon intertwines two love stories with a load of adventure. Instead of focusing on the doomsday scenario that kills almost everyone on earth, the novel concentrates on the recovery about 180 years after the end times. The heroine is a sixteen-year-old girl who is brave, honorable and quick on the uptake. Her adventures take her into a world of unbelievable peril, where every scrape with death brings her and her mate closer together. I loved the irony of writing about a time gone by, while presenting one potential future for the human race.

Dicey: Your concepts are intriguing, indeed. I can see why these are your faves.

3. In a recent blog post, you wrote: “In The Substitute, Miss Havana proved more conniving and evil than Lucifer, and eventually caused him great pain. People like it when the devil is defeated; it was easy to get laughs at Lucifer’s expense.” Which one is the real villain in your story? Miss Havana or Lucifer, and which one was more interesting to write? Why?

James: An excellent question! The answer to the villain question is “neither.” The real villain is the daughter of Lucifer and Miss Havana, Lilith. The daughter inherits the evil nature of both Miss Havana and the devil, making her twice as caustic as her parents. As to which was the most interesting to write, that would be Miss Havana. I loved her complex, two-faced nature and the fact that no one could guess what she’d do next. Her quirky nature means no one will guess the end of the novel, even within a couple of paragraphs from the conclusion.

Dicey: Hope I didn’t force you to reveal a spoiler about the daughter. 😉 Then again, I guess that’s not the big secret since no one will guess the end even right up to the conclusion. I like surprises…in literature, that is.

4. In that same blog post, you wrote: “On acceptance of the manuscript, the Solstice Publishing editor offered, ‘I found it to be a humorous, gory, graphic, moral and ultimately satisfying tale.’ That is exactly what I intended.” How did you insert morality into the story without losing the humor, gory, and graphic nature of the book?

The quote is in reference to the sequel novel to The Substitute, called Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! The book is written like a saw tooth, with sharp teeth of humor between each horrifying social issue I addressed. To add humor, Miss Havana’s spirit haunts a beautiful advice columnist known as “Miss Jackie.” Of course, no one in their right mind would take the advice Miss Havana dispenses, but her multiple stints offering advice is a great opportunity for humor. As advice columnist, Miss Havana is guided by two basic tenets. First, that ‘everyone is entitled to her opinion’, and second, that she reached the point in life where everything was a lie; therefore, she is able to discern the truth. When her spirit is not destroying Miss Jackie’s career, it occupies various felons, and she exacts retribution from almost everyone she stumbles into. She makes a great assassin as she comes to see herself as “The Angel of Death.” As in the case of The Substitute, no one will guess the end of Oh, Heavens, Miss Havana! That ending is the most poignant I’ve written, so much so that one reviewer stated, “And what an ending…! I won’t give it away but if it doesn’t give you at least one sniffle, in the midst of all that dark laughter, then you’ve got Lucifer’s sensitivity.”

Thanks for having me on your blog, Dicey. Your questions are by far the most insightful I’ve addressed. Your readers can find more about me and my books at, where I will also be posting inputs from other “The Day the Sun Stopped Shining” blog tour authors. There are also free books and a cool contest there.

Dicey: With “Sharp teeth of humor” and “Lucifer’s sensitivity”, I can see you have a way with words that is both witty and entertaining. Thank YOU for taking the time to answer my questions with such depth. I’m glad you found them insightful. Your passion for your books showed through.  It’s been my pleasure. I’ll stop by your blog to check out the contests and other author features.

Merry Christmas to all!

Ghosts On The Coast…Of NC.

I have a loooooong ride ahead of me today from Houston, TX to Greenville, NC. With my hubby and two little ones. We have DVDs, satellite radio, snacks, and designated stops along the way. And when we get there, my dad will see my sixteen-month-old son for the first time. Exciting stuff.

Very appropriate to have Micheal Rivers, a seasoned writer and native North Carolinian, interview on my blog today since he writes about things that kept me up at night when I was younger.

Micheal: Thank you very much for having me with you today, Dicey. It is a very great pleasure. To you and all of your readers I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Dicey: It’s my pleasure. So glad you took the time to do this. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

I’m always excited to chitchat with authors from my home state. There are more of us than Nicholas Sparks. 🙂

Let’s dig in…

Q: With over thirty years investigating and collecting paranormal stories, is Ghosts of the North Carolina Shores intended to be informative, historical, frightening, or entertaining? Or is there something else you want your readers to gain from reading it? Please explain.

A:  Ghosts of the North Carolina Shores is actually all of the above. This book gives the reader information on the areas the hauntings were witnessed in. Historically speaking there are many of the spirits who came from a particular era and the areas they derived from are of great interest to many people. There are some frightening moments as well as entertaining and a bit of mystery. This book was made approved reading for the North Carolina Public Schools reading list for its geography, English, and historical value. I wanted the readers to not only know some of the mysteries of the state of North Carolina but also its historical significance in the shaping of our country. These are just a small number of things our younger generation should know to identify with their heritage as true Americans.

Dicey: Impressive. A textbook and Halloween campfire tale combined.

Q:  Did having a co-author for The Black Witch make it easier or more
difficult to write and why?

A:  There is actually no co-author for this novel. When it was posted by Amazon they listed my editor as a coauthor and wouldn’t remove it per my request. So it remains to look as though I have a co-author. All of my novels are written by myself and an irritable keyboard.

Dicey: Wow. Thanks for clearing that up.

Q:  As someone who served in the United States Marine Corps during Vietnam, I imagine you experienced a lot. Of the genres you write in, which do you think is most influenced by your military experiences: Fiction, Horror, Thriller or Paranormal. How so?

A:  I never use anything I have experienced from my days in the military. I usually draw my characters and stories from paranormal experiences from over the years. Each character is a compilation of many characters, or people I have been associated with over a lifetime. Fiction, Horror, Thriller or Paranormal they all have a life of their own.

“Be the host to your ghost”

Dicey: Don’t worry, Micheal. I host several ghosts in my head daily. 🙂

Micheal is also part of our The Day The Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour, so you know he’s good people.

And may I add: Micheal, thank you for your service to our country.

Now, I gotta load the car with my precious cargo. Happy Holidays to all!

The Woman Behind “The Thinking Man”.

The Day The Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour is approaching fast, just like the holiday season and end of the year. In preparation of the tour, I’ve interviewed several authors and shared their works with you. Nadina Boun is another of our creative authors and she has granted me the following interview:

1. Since your novel The Thinking Man, Paralysis By Analysis is a comical compilation of rules in a man’s head, by what method did you channel your character as a female writer?

Nadina: Interesting question! Just a matter of observation and analysis really, and a minor understanding of the male’s point of view. However the rules or scrolls in the book extend to emotions in general, thus relating to us as human beings as opposed to a certain gender.

Dicey: Fascinating! I imagine it would have to be comical to spend time analyzing a man’s thoughts, which you do a good job of, based on the sample I’ve read. Football…beer…women… You mean there are emotions in there somewhere too? 🙂

2. In Earth and Venus you mix science fiction with romance. Which audience are you hoping to appeal to more, sci-fi or romance lovers and why?

Nadina: Well, I did not think about it when I had plenty of fun writing it. But I suppose it would suit more the science fiction audience than it would romance lovers. The use of words is still somewhat cosmic related:)

Dicey: Science and fun in the same book? Who knew. 🙂

3. As a writer of poetry, short stories, fiction, and plays, which do you find the most challenging to write and why?

Nadina: I find longer stories to be challenging because they require a longer amount of time and concentration. So fiction novels I have began writing always ended up incomplete. It is a challenge to finish them!

Dicey: Interesting how we have the opposite challenge here. I find it difficult to keep something short. A short story for me is 70k words. Anywho–I think it’s awesome that you’re able to do a little of it all.

Thanks for the interview, Nadina. I wish you much success.

A Writer With A Charitable Heart.

Next up on my pre-The Day The Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour author interview list is author/poet Kim Koning.

Let’s just dig right in, shall we?

1. Since most writers never achieve their dream of having a full-time writing career, what is your best advice to authors on how to make it happen?

Kim: I think the most important advice for going full-time writing is planning for it. This is not something I just up and decided to do. I planned ahead, put away savings in a nest egg bank account. You also have to have a strong support system, whether this be family or friends or both. For me, this is something that I had been working, planning and saving towards for a quite a few years already. When the time comes that you decide to take that big step, you will know. Signs will just show up confirming this decision. This is what happened for me. It is the best decision I ever took. I am now happier and more fulfilled than I ever was trying to squeeze in time to write.

You also need to treat your full-time writing like a proper job. You have to show up for it every day. For me, I also put a plan of attack into motion and scheduled a writing projects plan. Also, make sure you get out into the real world and away from your writing at least once a week. It is very tempting for us writerly types to lock ourselves away at the back of a writing cave and get lost in out created worlds. But don’t shut yourself off from the social world. There is nothing stopping you sometimes other than yourself.

You can go full-time writing with the right amount of planning, determination, decisiveness and discipline.

Dicey: Good advice, Kim. I know some people have been hit hard in this economy and may not be able to save right now. But that’s where all the other things you mentioned will help. Having a plan and support system and being determined and disciplined during the difficult times will make way for a full-time writing career once times improve.

2. Your short story Ring of Fire is included in a charity anthology Tales For Canterbury where all profits are donated to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal. How did you get involved with this project, and what has it been like to share your art AND give back to the community?

Kim: Well, a writing buddy of mine alerted me to this anthology. I contacted one of the editors and then the ball started rolling.

This project was particularly special to me for two major reasons. One, it was my first published short story included in an amazing line up of authors. Two, 100% of all proceeds were going to Christchurch for the RedCross Earthquake appeal. This was incredibly important for me to be part of as not that long ago Christchurch had been my home. There is something particularly special about that city and the way the whole country rallied behind Christchurch in the aftermath of two major earthquakes just goes to show that I am one of many who feel that way about Christchurch.

In times of crisis, one feels so helpless but still you want to reach out and help in any small way you can. This anthology gave me the perfect way to reach out and help. Writing is what I do and to be able to write a story that will shine with hope and be read by people who need hope, there is no greater reward than that. I was honoured to be included in this anthology and I am pleased that a story I created helped even in a tiny way by being part of such a fantastic anthology.

Dicey: Kudos to you! You can always tell what people are made of during times of crises. The fact that you had the spirit of giving rather than selfishness, despair, superiority, or ambivalence says a lot about you.

3. As a YA dystopian writer, please explain what that is and what inspires you to write in this genre?

Kim: Strangely enough, The Ring of Fire was my first foray into writing YA dystopian. I had not thought of it as that. I write paranormal specializing in ghostly tales and suspense. But at the end of the day I write stories that speak to me regardless of their genre. The story came to me in a specific scene and developed from there.

Dystopian fiction is about a controlled or repressed society often built upon the guise of creating a Utopia or a perfect society. However in every dystopian I have read, there is a resilient evidence of hope that shines through in the actions of the hero or heroine. For me that theory resonates with raw honesty.

YA is a natural conducive for dystopian as teens do find themselves living in a controlled environment where all they are trying to do is struggle to find out who they really are and what their place is in the world. I think we all sometimes feel like we are being controlled, either by circumstance, finances, society, work or personal lives so we can all relate to a dystopian world. But more importantly I think we all need hope and the best place to grow hope is where you have to dream of a world that is better. That is what dystopian fiction means for me.

The Ring of Fire published in Tales for Canterbury is a prequel to a full length novel I will be working on in 2012. I also don’t think The Ring of Fire is the only novel I want to do in dystopian fiction. I definitely see myself writing more YA dystopian fiction in the future. There is just something about this genre that just speaks to me.

Here is the link to the Anthology…Remember 100% of all profits go to the RedCross Earthquake Appeal…Buy an ebook or print copy to own stories by the likes of Neil Gaiman and Jay Lake and my debut short story – The Ring of Fire.

Dicey: Thanks for explaining what dystopian is. I can see how it would appeal to YA and adult readers. For some reason, I want to call it disturbia…but that was a 2007 movie with Shia Labeouf. So, never mind. 🙂

Good luck as you write the full length novel. And thanks for the interview.

Beware. The Grim Reaper Has A Novice.

Wow. These indie author interviews have been amazing, if I may say so myself. Hell, I DO say so myself. And we haven’t even started The Day The Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour yet.

Today, Cecilia Robert is going to razzle and dazzle us with more information about her book The Grim Reaper’s Novice: Soul Collector Series Volume 1.

1. When it comes to writing about the Grim Reaper, death, and collecting souls, do you find yourself depressed or sad while writing these scenes? If so, how do you overcome this, yet still write compelling scenes?

CeCe: Actually, writing the Grim Reaper’s character was fun. I tried to lighten him up a bit by adding a fun part of him so it’s not all depressing and dreary, move away from the sickle carrying Grim. For example: He doesn’t like people calling him Grim, he prefers being called Ernest and has no problem reminding anyone who tends to forget, he enjoys matchmaking. His motto; everyone  needs some love, even the ghosts and djinns. His door is always open to dinner guests.

Writing the death-scenes was not easy for me. For example, there’s a scene on the first chapter when Ana Maria – the MC – goes to collect the soul and has to watch as life fades from the lady she is meant to collect her soul, and her taking her last breath. Man, that wasn’t easy.

Music goes a long way to clear my head and of course chase away the heaviness in my heart. And not the angry kind of music. No. Something danceable and cheerful, of course.

Dicey: The Grim Reaper prefers to be called Ernest and enjoys matchmaking? Ha! That’s different. And probably more appropriate for the YA genre than the vision I have in my head of him.

I know what you mean about death scenes not being easy. There’s a scene in my taboo fiction that I cried while writing and every time I read it. When you think about someone being here one day and gone the next, it can be really sad. Lively music certainly helps.

2. As a writer in the Young Adult genre, what do you mostly want young adults to gain from reading your book?

CeCe: First and foremost, I’d like readers to enjoy reading my book, to have fun. I’d also like readers to know  they can succeed in whatever they put their mind to, and overcome any challenges that come their way. My Mc does make mistakes, and bad decisions. In order to become wise, one needs to learn from their mistakes.

Dicey: Preach!

3. As an assistant nurse, does your experiences in your profession enter in to your writing? For instance, do you see patients die and think about what happens to their souls? Or is there some other way your profession impacts your writing?

CeCe: In this story, I’d say the experience as an assistant nurse does play a part in my writing. I have been in a room when a patient takes their last breath, and I have to say it is the hardest situation to be in, to see the life fade from someone who moments ago was smiling at you, or chatting with you. Yes, the thought has once occurred to me. Where do souls go when someone dies? I seriously have no idea, but I can only hope someplace good.

So, yes, my profession does play a part in this story. It does help in creating believable scenes, I’d say.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Dicey. It’s been fun.

Dicey: I hope our souls go to a good place too, CeCe. If I see Hitler there, I’ll know I went to the wrong place.

Thank YOU for sharing your work with me and giving a unique perspective on The Grim Reaper Ernest.

Blood, Corpses, and HELL.

I have another creative mind to share with you today. In the spirit of showing love to indie authors, and in support of our upcoming The Day the Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour, I present the following interview with Georgina Kamsika, author of The Sulphur Diaries (UK).

Without further ado…

1. Since your story involves blood and hell, how would you feel if a reader said they found it too scary or too gory to read? Would you be flattered, pleased, insulted, upset, etc.? Why?

Georgina: One of my earliest memories is of watching an old Dracula film. I loved it, I loved being scared and enjoyed watching and reading scarier things as I grew older. However I know a lot of people don’t really go for horror or being scared, so if it’s too scary for some people, I can live with that. I think knowing that my writing has affected someone, be it good or bad, is enough.

Dicey: Know what you mean about that old Dracula film. The older ones were pretty scary. There are dozens of them now. Apparently, lots of people love to be scared out of their minds.

Mine was–can you believe it–Fright Night (1985). When I was young and it was four o’clock in the morning, and it was dark and I was alone. *shudders* But I was fascinated. Now, I’m pleased when someone mentions my vampire novel is too gory.

2. Did you model Detective Inspector after anyone in particular? If so, who and why? If not, how did you prepare for this character?

Georgina: I try not to model my characters after any one person, mainly because I like to steal bits and pieces I overhear and turn them into a person. Visually I imagined DI Mehta to be very pretty, like the Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai, but with a stern and serious personality, partly because she is a woman of colour in a very male-dominated profession. Preparation-wise, I did some research into the social services in the UK, and how the police interact with them. It was interesting to learn more about how our detectives work, it’s not all CSI Miami here.

Dicey: Ah. I enjoy literature that feature women of color in something other than stereotypical urban fiction.

3. Your story involves a village that is over a gateway to hell. How would you describe your vision of hell in detail?

Georgina: I’m actually writing about Hell now, in my sequel ‘Pandemonium’. While the first novel, set in England, is all about British myths and legends, my vision of Hell has allowed me to draw from wider sources. I spent some time researching Hell, or limbo, across many religions and cultures. There’s some surprising similarities and quite a few differences, so it’s been fun trying to mesh them together into a consistent place. It’s not a nice place, that’s for sure, but it’s also not the prevalent Christian idea of damned souls burning in flames.

Thanks for the chance to answer these questions. I liked them, they made me think about why I’d done those things.

Dicey: Pandemonium is a cool title. With your vision of hell as “not a nice place” but “not the prevalent Christian idea of damned souls burning in flames”, you’ve piqued my interest. I always find theories and speculations on hell intriguing, especially because of my own religious background. I work out my imaginations in fiction as well.

And, thank YOU, Georgina. It’s been a pleasure.

See you on the tour.

Warlocks, Wizards, Occult Powers and…WWII?

I love networking with indie authors, mainly because we believe in supporting each other. And because we have the common goal of sharing our art with the world without a large publisher’s budget.

One such networking event is The Day the Sun Stopped Shining Blog Tour, which I mentioned here. It officially begins Dec. 26th, but I’m getting a head-start by featuring author interviews.

Today, Alesha Escobar and I are discussing how she mixed paranormal elements with historical ones in her novel The Tower’s Alchemist: The Gray Tower Trilogy Book #1. You can check out her blog here.

1. In writing about wizards/warlocks and occult powers, how much of your own religious views entered in to your writing?

Alesha: Now that’s an interesting question. I mix in a little bit of mythology, philosophy and spirituality from my background as a Catholic and a lover of the Classics. I approach it from the question of “What would this all look like if magic was out in the open during this time?” In the story, people trained by the Gray Tower see magic as a natural ability that some humans are born with, while the Church would explain it as remnants of preternatural abilities lost after the Fall of Man. One of my characters is a sword-wielding priest who believes his magic is a gift from God–he clashes at times with my protagonist, Isabella.

Dicey: I get it. Mythology + Philosophy + Spirituality = More interesting, relatable concept.

2. Since your book is based in an alternate WWII era, did you find the paranormal or historical elements more difficult to research and write for your characters?

Alesha: The historical element was a bit tricky in the sense that I wanted to give a grounded and rich feel to the environment of the story without alienating my reader. For example, just the slang and language used sixty years ago–a bit different from now, but I have some of that slipped in so that the dialogue and inner-monologue of my protagonist is authentic yet flavorful. There was also the issue of balancing historical fact with creative liberty. Hopefully the WWII experts won’t whack me for certain things, but it was one hell of a ride imagining what it would be like for wizards to have a showdown with Nazis and their occult forces.

Dicey: Very brave. I imagine you spent lots of time researching the WWII era in order to keep it “authentic yet flavorful”. To strike a balance between pleasing the experts and entertaining readers. Hats off!

3. If you could have been a wizard during WWII, what one power would you have used to defeat Hitler?

Alesha: Isabella is an alchemist–I think I’d want to have her ability. Alchemy is all about harnessing the powers of nature and creating certain balances–I would definitely see defeating Hitler as restoring balance to the world!

Dicey: Restoring balance, indeed. And I’m glad you explained what an alchemist is. Think I need that power around my household where my kids pay no bills but have completely taken over.

Thanks for the interview, Alesha!

More interviews to come.