Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Frankie Goes to Hollywood - The Power of Love

I've come over all soppy...turn it up and start wailing along!


__________________________________________________________________
Kate Aaron is an author of queer and fantasy novels and short stories. Find all her books on Amazon now http://www.amazon.com/Kate-Aaron/e/B0058DL8A0/

Monday, 29 August 2011

Putting Pride in its Place

I have just spent a lost Bank Holiday weekend at Manchester Pride. I have had a wonderful time: I've not been to Manchester Pride in 5 years (since I lived there, in fact) so I've reminded myself why I fell in love with the Village, and I've met up with more people than I can remember having ever forgotten.

Manchester Pride, for those who don't know, is a paid event. One gets at ticket (either by the day, or for the full weekend) which is exchanged for a wristband. If you are doing the full weekend (as most do) the wristband is non-removable and you have to live with it for the full four days. Here's mine:


You may well note that the ad for the bank is much, much bigger than the teeny-weeny Pride 2011 logo. Blink and you'll miss it.

Well on Saturday morning, after a manic opening night of which I have only the haziest memories, two friends and I went in search of breakfast in the Arndale centre. This is the main shopping centre (or mall to you Americans) located within Manchester town centre. It was teeming with Mancunians from all walks of life doing their Saturday morning shopping. We decided to pay a game: hunt the blue wristband. Our Pride passes had suddenly become the modern-day equivalent of the pink triangle.

Now Saturday morning in Manchester was a little drizzly, admitted, but close. The air was humid and thunder threatened. We were dressed in T-shirts and carried an umbrella. Most people were dressed similarly as we walked through the town. It really was a bit too warm for a coat or jumper. Imagine our surprise, then, at all the long sleeves that we saw. Not on the ordinary masses, but on people that, we knew, were at Pride the previous evening. The same people who would be lining the streets later cheering the parade as it made its way through the town.

Pride, it seems, has its place, and it's strictly kept within the confines of our ghetto. Because that it what the Village really is. Don't get me wrong, I love it there. I love the freedom of having our own place to go, streets that we own. Where the odd ones out are the breeders. It makes a refreshing change, and no straight person will ever understand the freedom of just being able to walk down a street holding someone special by the hand, or of being able to express yourself freely. However, Pride is about visibility, it is about claiming, not just our ghetto, but the whole city. It is about making ourselves be seen and recognised. That's why we march down Deansgate, and through Piccadilly, and only end at the Village. For one magical weekend each year, Manchester is ours. Or it should be.

Yet I saw people creeping round displaying not so much pride, as fear. They are still in hiding. There is no point in having a Pride festival if it's only going to be held behind closed doors. The Village, this weekend, is hoarded off. Great chipboard gates block off entry and also block off the view. No-one can see what we are doing behind our temporary walls. There are tens of thousands of people in the Village, hiding.

Pride is about so much more than drinking for four days straight and paying through the nose to get into clubs that we usually enter for free. Manchester Pride turned 21 this year: it has a great and noble history. It is largely recognised as the best Pride event in Britain, with good cause. Since 2003, Manchester Pride has raised more than £895,000 for local LGBT and HIV charities. The money raised at Pride is reinvested in our community, and does great work. We have a helpline, free condoms, peer mentoring groups, medical support centres and counselling services, all funded in large part by Pride. That truly is something to be proud of.

Yet we hide our light under a bushel. Ordinary gay men and women are still afraid to be seen in the city at large. They cover their wristbands and slink about like criminals. The overwhelming message I have taken from this year's Pride is not one of visibility, but one of fear and shame. Until we as a community learn to make ourselves be seen and be heard, we will never be taken seriously. The gay rights movement has come a long, long way since a bunch of trannys kicked back at the police in the summer of 1969. But we are still not equal citizens, we are still denied rights granted automatically to our hetero cousins. If we have to wear some kind of identifying label, for however brief a time, let us display it, not hide it. If we choose to brand ourselves, let us have the courage to show it.

I have drawn some obvious parallels with Nazi Germany, I know. But let us remember this: Hitler forced the pink triangle on us, just as he forced the Star of David on the Jews. He forced the Jews into ghettos. We have not been forced, we have retreated. We have made our own ghettos, in every major city in the western world. We hide in them. Liverpool council announced at their Pride festival earlier this year that they have set aside funding to make a purpose-built gay area, based on Manchester's Village. The talking heads at the council justify this by pointing out how much disposable income we have; how much money we will bring to the area. Many rejoiced. We will have another ghetto. It is a terrible mistake we are making, it is a car crash waiting to happen.

We demand equality - we deserve equality - but we are still not brave enough to be seen and be counted. In the Lifestyle Expo at Manchester this year (cue tumbleweed, by the way) a number of people were collecting signatures for different petitions: to local councils and the government not to cut funding for our community in different areas. One campaigner I spoke to told me that he had promised his organisation - supporting LGBT people with disabilities - that he would easily collect 1000 signatures over the Pride festival. Given the tens of thousands in attendance, it seemed a conservative estimate. This was at 4pm on the Saturday, which is the busiest day for the expo. He hadn't even got 100 to sign up.

Perhaps Pride is so-called not because we are proud, but to remind ourselves that we should be. I know it is difficult to constantly place oneself in danger of contempt, ridicule, and even physical harm. I personally know people who have been attacked in the street, just for being themselves. People who have not just been hit and kicked, but stabbed and slashed. There were many, many scars on show in the Village. I have spoke to people facing arranged marriages, and have put others up when their parents have disowned them and thrown them out. I have met self-harmers and alcoholics and those driven to prostitution because they don't think there's anything else out there for them. We have to believe that every beating that we take is worth it, that some good will come from it, that one day it will stop. We still have much to fear in this world, but until we are brave enough not to show it, to stop acting scared, we always will have.

There is much tragedy in our community, but there is also much to celebrate. This weekend, at least, I thought we were supposed to be doing just that.

__________________________________________________________________
Kate Aaron is an author of queer and fantasy novels and short stories. Find all her books on Amazon now http://www.amazon.com/Kate-Aaron/e/B0058DL8A0/

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Sean DeCoursey

Last but not least! Sean DeCoursey is the author of Be Glad It Didn't Happen To You: A Story of Disaster, Misadventure, Triumph and Hope.

The Interview
 
- Why do you write?
I write for money, pure and simple.  I know many authors write for pleasure or in order to share their vision or something, but I'll be honest, for me it's simply a means to an end.  In this case the end is funding my research, and writing is a means to earn the money that work requires.

- How often do you read for pleasure? 
Daily.  I'm a fast, voracious reader.  Once I start on a book I'll often read continuously until I've finished it.  Usually takes 1-2 days, sometimes less depending on the author and subject.

- Has publishing your own book changed how you view the work of others?
It's definitely made me appreciate the difficulty of getting recognition and publicity.  It's also made me more forgiving of the occasional minor error.  A book is a lot of copy checking and formatting.

- Do you think character or plot is more important to a good story?
I'm not sure that I view those as separate entities.  A good story is driven naturally by it's characters as an outgrowth of their goals and methodology.  If a book has a great plot OR great characters, I'd say that it has failed at both.

- What is your all-time favourite character, and why?
I don't think I have one.  Three characters I like a lot off the top of my head are Jon Snow from "A Song of Ice and Fire", Rand al'Thor from "The Wheel of Time" and Kaladin from "The Stormlight Archive".  All of these characters are imperfect and struggle under immense responsibilities.  They've all made real mistakes from human weakness and paid heavy prices for them.  Many authors make their characters too perfect to be fully relatable.  All three of these avoid that trap, while still attempting to do better.

- What book changed your life? In what way?
The "Tom Swift" novels.  They're old, outdated, cheesy, kind of racist, have massive plot holes and impossible technology and events.  But they did do a lot to help set me on my current course as an inventor and also did a better job than almost any other book I've read of just imparting a sense of "can-doism".  Of the unlimited potential to innovate, create, and triumph over long odds.

- What, to you, defines a successful author?
I think this is an incredibly subjective question that will vary wildly from writer to writer.  For me, being successful means selling X copies of my book.  For someone else it might mean changing peoples lives, launching a presidential campaign, or just getting published.  In general, I'd say a successful author is someone who thinks they are a successful author.

- What inspired your book?
A friend of mine was up visiting from Texas, and everyone at dinner was recounting the latest nonsense I'd been involved in, and my friend commented about how he wished he had some stories like mine just to say he'd done them.  I'd been kicking around the idea of autobiography for awhile, but that was the crystallization point.  I wrote the bulk of chapters 1 &2 that night between 1am and 7am.

- What was the best review you ever got?
One of my early test readers said "that's really good.  Like, it's just really good."  She was so engrossed by the entirety of the book that she ended up not being able to name specific parts that she enjoyed over others.  I take that as a compliment.

- If you could be any author who would you be, and why?
Myself.  I'm comfortable in my own skin.  I am very impressed by Brandon Sanderson's ability to churn out so much quality on such a regular basis.  I'm also impressed with Eric Flint's command of the history of the science fiction genre.

- What book do you wish you'd written?
None.  When I was a kid I wanted to be anyone but myself, now, I wouldn't want to be anyone else.

- What is the most frustrating thing about self-publishing?
The difficulty of promoting and drawing attention to your work.  It's hard to get noticed and harder to stay noticed.

- What is the most rewarding thing about self-publishing?
Being able to just go.  Not having to wade through tons of red tape and bureaucracy at a big publisher.  Being able to completely control your vision of the book and how it's presented.

- What one thing do you wish you'd know about self-publishing before you started?
There are a million little things that it's been useful to discover, but there haven't been any big surprises for me that stand out.  On the other hand, I did a lot of research and preparation before I self-published, which has been immensely valuable.

- If you could give one piece of advice to a novice author, what would it be?Enjoy criticism.  It's a way for you to get better.  Oftentimes a trashing, harsh review can do more to help you than a bunch of mindless praise intended to spare your feelings
Be Glad it didn't Happen to You
This is the story of my life. I've been paralyzed, abused, locked up in mental institutions, a collegiate all star, traveled internationally, lost a military commission and set academic records. All before I turned 25. Since then I've been to war, buried my best friends, started a company and lived around the world. If you've ever wondered what kind of person is created by taking the ten worst things you can imagine and inflicting them all on one guy, this is the book that answers your question.
Available from Amazon US and Amazon UK

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Decisions, Decisions

Ok, I'm still struggling with my cover. In the cold light of morning, it didn't look half as good as it did after four feverish hours of struggling with photoshop.

Below are some mock-ups of variations of the cover, any input would be gratefully recieved!

Cover 1

Cover 2

Cover 3

__________________________________________________________________
Kate Aaron is an author of queer and fantasy novels and short stories. Find all her books on Amazon now http://www.amazon.com/Kate-Aaron/e/B0058DL8A0/

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Danny's Boy

My little m/m short story is nearly ready, and will be available from Smashwords in the next few days. I've just finished designing the cover. Convention of the genre insists on having a half-naked man on there somewhere, so I've caved and joined the majority. However, location, and in particular the juxtaposition of city and small town, is key to my characters' development, so I wanted to depict that on the cover too, hence the terraced rooftops.

In a lot of ways the world I have created for my characters seems a bit old-fashioned: it is clearly northern, working-class and under-privileged. Think Coronation Street (but don't get me ranting again! Homophobia in the 21st Century) I have therefore indulged in sepia tones and a vintage photo-style lens.

Be warned, it is filth in places (I had a bet to settle...I'll let you know if I win!) and the ending is open, my characters' future could go either way: to heaven or hell, depending on how you interpret the story. There is hope, but the darkness looms.


__________________________________________________________________
Kate Aaron is an author of queer and fantasy novels and short stories. Find all her books on Amazon now http://www.amazon.com/Kate-Aaron/e/B0058DL8A0/

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Strangeness

Following the successful run of indie author interviews, I am reclaiming my blog! Over the last few weeks I have posted interviews by people from all walks of life, who work and write in a number of very different genres. It got me thinking about the significance of strangeness, of how we react to things that are different to ourselves and the things we like. Difference, after all, is the hallmark of our ever-increasingly multicultural societies. How we react to the differences of others, and how we assimilate those differences, forms the crux of the question of how we all, as humans, interact.


In the first instance, we recognise strangeness as something different (Other) to ourselves. Something similar is not strange, otherwise we, too, would be strange. Therefore to define something/someone as Other defines you by default. The quest for similarity, of common ground, is universal: both in real life and in fiction. Strangeness is thus a socially constructed element of self-definition, it is what binds us to those who we perceive as like us.


Some theorists, not least Foucault, believe that in order to escape our socialisation we need to adopt self-alienating behaviour. By becoming strangers to ourselves, we break down the barriers that make us define others as strange by default. It is only by denying ourselves that we can ultimately accept both ourselves and others. However, if we achieve self-alienation, both everything and nothing is strange. If we become strange to ourselves, we lose our definition of what we are, and therefore cannot label anyone else as Other. Nothing would be strange, as the construct of strangeness would no longer apply. This, of course, does not happen in real life. People do not accept themselves as Other - they reject everyone else instead.


A fine example of that rejection exists in Huysmans' Au Rebours (Against Nature), which tells the story of a man - Des Esseintes - shutting himself away from society. Ultimately, Des Esseintes becomes ill, and is forced to return to society. The moral is that there is no escape from civilisation: the stranger is forced to integrate himself, as social interaction and inclusion is fundamental to human (mental) health.


Despite the implicit threat posed by strangeness, and the urge to conform, strangeness is often perceived as desirable, not least in fiction. The motif of the beautiful stranger is a universal cliche. A fine example of that is Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, in which his protagonist, Aschenbach, falls for Tadzio, a beautiful boy staying in the same hotel. Aschenbach never actually speaks to Tadzio: the entire persona that he gives the boy has been created in his own feverish, romantic imagination. Even his name is a construct - as all things must be named to be known. It is not the boy that Aschenbach loves, but Tadzio - the persona. An attractive stranger cannot remain strange indefinitely: the strange must become familiar, even if by artificial means. All desire for the strange is a desire for knowledge, and familiarity. If you see a beautiful person in a bar, you don't want to sit staring forlornly at them forever, you want to get to know them.


Strangeness is however not just a tool of alienation, is is also a tool of conformity. It is a way of demonstrating that you belong to a group, from which others are excluded. In this sense it is easy to see a rejection of a projected Other (straight / gay; white / black; male / female; rich / poor) as an indication of subconscious fear. The assumption is that no one hates themselves, therefore to hate something as Other is to deny any affiliation with that thing. This is what we are seeing through when we laughingly whisper "I think the lady doth protest too much..." 


However, that doesn't mean that conformity itself is not strange. We all bandy expressions about Big Brother and police states, and every western nation has chuckled over jokes about excessive conformity in the militarised or Communist east. This is best represented in literature by Brett Easton-Ellis' American Psycho, in which the protagonist, Patrick Bateman, is not just the norm, but a member of the elite. In Bateman's mind, however, he identifies as something Other to what he appears to be, the famous image from the film of Christian Bale sums this up nicely: Bateman is the man behind the mask. He is a character who has self-alienated to such an extent that he actively seeks to destroy the very thing that his outward appearance represents. He symbolises the destructive rejection of the familiar. Normality, in American Psycho's sense, represents everything that is wrong with society: it is boring, sterile, conformist. In this sense, strangeness is almost an antidote.


Of course, while Bateman sees his otherness as something positive (he is effecting a change), Ellis is reinforcing the fact that strangeness is contrary to a safe and productive society: strangeness is dangerous.


Sometimes rejection of the strange can be required by society. To not reject something is to be seen to be affiliated with it. This is what makes integration so difficult for the stranger, those that would tolerate / welcome him dare not in case they be seen as strange themselves. A rift can then occur in the original group between the pro- and anti-stranger. This friction between what is still a cohesive unit (i.e. still defined as Other to the stranger) then calls into question the validity of the definitions which united the group originally; they are no longer the same. The differences that mark the Other become subtler. The ruling norm can then be split, and in that instance it is usually those who continue to reject the Other that are considered unreasonable (racist / misogynistic / homophobic). The importance of eventual integration is paramount, forcing us to conclude that while initial separation and wariness is a common response, it has no longevity


But why does any of this matter? Understanding the mechanics that inform our socialisation is key both to functioning in the world today, and to writing convincing fiction. All narratives have a pivot around which the action rotates, and that pivot usually involves the resolution of difference between characters. I have quoted from three extreme examples in literary fiction, but aren't all stories the same? They all involve discovering why someone is different; or meeting someone new; or feeling alienated. Strangeness in an underlying narrative that informs much of our daily lives. Strangeness is imperative, but it is also transient.

__________________________________________________________________
Kate Aaron is an author of queer and fantasy novels and short stories. Find all her books on Amazon now http://www.amazon.com/Kate-Aaron/e/B0058DL8A0/

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Jim Bronyaur

Jim Bronyaur's new book, The Devil's Weekend, has just been released.

The Interview

- Why do you write?
I write because it’s what I know and love to do.  Inside my mind, there are stories and I share them.  I see the smallest things in life and wonder about them, turn them into ideas, and those ideas become stories.  As an example I gave last week on a message board… there was a small clearing between two cornfields.  I pass it two times a day on my way to and from work.  There was a red mini van sitting there.  Then a blue mini van pulled up and the two women began to talk.  This all happened in seconds but the image stuck.  By the time I made it to work, I had an idea for a horror novel.

- How often do you read for pleasure?
Every day.  You have to read to write.  There’s no way around it.  Reading and writing go hand in hand.  And plus, with all the great authors I interactive with on a daily basis, my “to-read” pile is endless!

- Has publishing your own book changed how you view the work of others?
I think you gain a better sense of what it takes to write a novel.  Getting the words on paper is just the beginning of it all.  The hours of thinking, plotting, and writing.  The editing, the decision making.  The cover.  The blurb.  The marketing plan.  EVERY single detail that goes into just one book is amazing. 
When I read a book now, I analyze it, try to understand what the author is saying.  And of course, I just try and imagine what it must have been like to write that book.

- Do you think character or plot is more important to a good story?
I believe that characters carry a story.  I know some may argue but characters are what brings the story to life.  Those people you come to know and look forward to “hanging out with”.  Take Under the Dome by Stephen King.  The premise?  A glass dome traps a town.  Everything after that is all about characters… the characters in that book carry the story.

- What is your all-time favourite character, and why?
Odd Thomas (from Koontz’s series).  From the first sentence of the first book, I was drawn to him.  He’s such an honest person but yet such a special person too. 

- What book changed your life? In what way?
Pet Sematary.  I read it when I was a kid – eight or nine maybe.  Everyone else was reading Judy Blume (who writes great books) and I was buried in horror novels.  But Pet Sematary did it for me.  It was pure horror.  Inside and out.  From the idea, the story, the characters, and the events.  My, oh my, the dead coming to life.  Thank you Stephen King for corrupting me.  J

- What, to you, defines a successful author?
Someone who does it every day, no matter what.  Someone who doesn’t give up after a rejection or a bad review.  Someone who knows what they are doing next. I set a 2,000 word a day goal for myself and have to hit it.  If that means waking up early or staying up late, I do it.  I’m an author, hear me roar.  J

- What inspired your most recent book?
I was sitting at my desk one night thinking about horror.  I’ve always had a dark humor side to me too.  I wondered what would happen if a serial killer made a deal with The Devil… think about it?  A serial killer who is about to get caught… but he’s not done killing.  What could help him?  The Devil.  Then I imagined The Devil stepping in and working out a deal… the serial killer, in exchange for his soul, can kill for an entire weekend… if people try and hurt him, it doesn’t work.  Bullets go through him.  A stab wound does nothing.  From there, I wrote….

- What was the best review you ever got?
I had a story in an end of the world anthology.  Probably one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever done.  Someone read the anthology and actually wrote the review on Amazon about how great my story was AND then tracked me down to tell me how awesome the story was and how I inspired them. 

- If you could be any author who would you be, and why?
Well, of course, I’d have to say Stephen King.  Could you imagine being in his mind for a day?  The man who wrote Pet Sematary.  The man who created IT.  The man who made a care come to life and scare us.  The man who took a rabid dog and turned it into everyone’s worst fear.

- What book do you wish you'd written?
The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove (by Christopher Moore).  The book is just damn perfect.  He’s one of the best writers out there right now.  The story is funny, strange, and just works.  He’s able to take things that shouldn’t make sense and make sense out of them.

- What is the most frustrating thing about self-publishing?
Doing everything.  All those little petty tasks that just eat away from writing the next book.

- What is the most rewarding thing about self-publishing?
Being able to do it all yourself (yes, that contradicts the above question, but it’s how it goes).  I enjoy being able to make big decisions without corporate input.  I enjoy being able to be active with my readers.  I enjoy being able to talk with other authors who are willing to share advice.  The self-publishing community is vast and everyone is welcoming.

- What one thing do you wish you'd know about self-publishing before you started?
I wish I had a greater understanding of the process.  Setting up all the necessary accounts, bank accounts, etc.  The formatting for the different types and vendors (KDP, PubIt!, etc).  My first book took my almost 3 hours to figure out what to do…

-        -  If you could give one piece of advice to a novice author, what would it be?
 Write.
That’s all that matters.  Write, write, write.
Submit short stories to small press magazines and ezines.  Get accepted.  Get rejected.  Get over it.  But again, the most important thing is writing.  Always write.  Always.

The Devil's Weekend

Fans of Dean Koontz won’t be able to put down Bronyaur’s newest novel, The Devil’s Weekend.


Meet Oliver Ignis.


A man desperate for his mother’s love with the constant urge to kill.


After years of killing, he’s been give the name The Anything Killer. But now the police, led by detective Ralph Samuels, are closing in.


After a fresh body is discovered and the town swells with fear, The Devil comes to make Oliver a deal: in exchange for his soul, Oliver will have the weekend to kill without having to hide. It he’s shot, bullets pass through with no wound. If he’s stabbed, the blade comes out clean. And if he’s cuffed, they slide right off.


It’s a serial killer's dream.


It’s our nightmare.


When Ralph Samuels apprehends a teenager who claims to have shot Oliver multiple times, he begins to wonder what’s happening to the small town of Damon, Pennsvylania.


It was everything Oliver ever wanted, but what happens when Oliver kills the wrong person?


With The Devil in the background and the police surrounding him, Oliver makes his last stand and gives The Devil everything he wants, and more.


This is The Devil’s Weekend.

Available at Amazon US and Amazon UK

Interact with the Author

Perplexing Apathy...

I was just reading a post on a fellow author's blog, Perplexing Apathy, about the famine in Somalia.

It put me in mind of a scientific experiment on the dilution of responsibility. A group of people were asked to take part in a discussion conducted one at a time over a tannoy with them all in separate rooms. They all had mild anxiety / stress disorders. Each took turns to describe their own symptoms, and an actor took part claiming to suffer panic attacks that were life-threateningly bad. Everyone goes round again to talk more and all you hear from the actor is gasps for help. Not one person left their room to call for help - they all assumed someone else would. Had it been real, the man would have died. When the experiment was recreated in a one-on-one environment, where only a subject and the actor were involved, the subject ran for help every time. Go figure.

__________________________________________________________________
Kate Aaron is an author of queer and fantasy novels and short stories. Find all her books on Amazon now http://www.amazon.com/Kate-Aaron/e/B0058DL8A0/

Sunday, 14 August 2011

C.D. Hussey

C.D. Hussey is the author of La Luxure: Discover Your Blood Lust, a human vampire novel.

The Interview

- Why do you write?
I write because I have a story in my head that I want to immerse myself in. It's like reading your favorite book for an entire year.

- How often do you read for pleasure?
Right now, I'm trying to read on a daily basis. In the past, I had to limit my reading because when I really get into a book, I tend to read it obsessively and then not much else gets done. My name is C.D. Hussey and I'm a reformed compulsive reader.

- Do you think character or plot is more important to a good story?
Both are important, of course, but I'm going to say character. If I don't care about the character, I don't care what happens to them.

- What, to you, defines a successful author?
Having a following, no matter how small, says that you have connected with your readers. As a romance writer, nothing thrills me more than having readers fall in love with my hero.

- What inspired your book?
It was actually a trip to New Orleans in 2009 I took with a group of girlfriends. One night we were dancing at this Goth bar, and sitting on a platform overlooking the dancefloor was this Goth king and his Goth princess. They looked like vampire royalty watching over their subjects, and I thought, "What if you traveled to New Orleans, stumbled into an underground vampire culture, and got seduced by - ". Well, I don't want to add any more or I'll give it away. La Luxure was born on the plane ride home.

- What was the best review you ever got?
I would say the most flattering review came from a Goodreads reader that said I was NY Times Bestseller material. That blew me away.

- What is the most frustrating thing about self-publishing?
Hmmm, nothing fills me with dread more than editing. But marketing is a huge frustration as well.

- What is the most rewarding thing about self-publishing?
Being in total creative control of your book. No worries about editors changing your vision.

- What one thing do you wish you'd know about self-publishing before you started?
Success rarely comes overnight. You have to work very hard at it.

- If you could give one piece of advice to a novice author, what would it be?
Edit, edit, and edit again.

- Is there anything for you hard to write about? 
Anything that requires a heavy amount of description is the most challenging type of writing for me. And I don't think I could write a song or poem to save my life.

- Howdo you get Inspiration for your ideas?
I base a lot of my writing on real life experiences, things I've seen or done. It's my excuse for trying to keep my life as weird as possible.

- If there would be a movie version of your book, how would that look like?
Fun and sexy with a little darkness. The book takes place almost exclusively in the French Quarter in New Orleans, so that would, of course, be the backdrop.

La Luxure: Discover Your Blood Lust

Deep in the heart of the French Quarter, where the Bourbon Street revelry is nothing more than a far off whisper, underground blood-bar, La Luxure, beckons those with darker tastes through its narrow archway.

Level headed and practical, Julia Brown isn't normally the type of woman that runs around believing in vampires.  But when she travels to New Orleans for a week long work conference and stumbles unwittingly into Luxure, she begins to question that assumption.  After a patron is found dead on the street, drained of blood and covered in bites and marks, Julia quickly becomes convinced the city is filled with actual, supernatural vampires.

And at the center of it all is Armand Laroque; a man who awakens a lust she never knew existed, and a temptation impossible to resist. 

Available at Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Barnes&Noble

Interact with the Author Online

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Aynoit Ashor

Aynoit Ashor is the author of Sixty-7.



The Interview

- Why do you write? 
I know just about every author says this, but all I ever wanted to do was write.  I have all these stories running around in my head and writing is my way of bringing them to life.

- How often do you read for pleasure?
I don't get to pick up a physical book often, but I do listen to books on tape/cd while I am driving and cooking meals.

- Has publishing your own book changed how you view the work of others?
Yes, it has!  It has shown me that being an author (self-published or not) takes so much hard work.  There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that readers don't know about.

- Do you think character or plot is more important to a good story?
That's a good question.  I may have to say plot because I feel that a character can be a good one but the story behind the character is what makes the story.

- What book changed your life? In what way?
The book Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen changed my life.  I read it while I was in the process of leaving a domestically violent relationship.  It let me know I could do it.  But it also made me a bit fearful. 

- What inspired your book?
While in that domestically violent relationship I spoke about earlier, I read a statistic that said something like, "67% of juvenile males who are in jail for murder are there for killing their mother's abuser."  After reading that statistic I left.  I would hate to think that my son, who is now thirteen, could have ended up being a part of that statistic.  That statistic is the title of my latest book, Sixty-7.  It's about domestic violence from a boy's point-of-view.  I wrote it in hopes that women who are in abusive relationship will read it and think about what their children could be feeling and going through during violent encounters. 

- What was the best review you ever got?
I love every review I receive, even the ones that say my stories made the reader feel uncomfortable.  But, I love the reviews and emails I get from those who say my stories have touched them and changed their lives.  I write about tough topics, so to get emails from people who say they see the world differently because of what I wrote, touches me deeply.

- What is the most frustrating thing about self-publishing?
The most frustrating thing about self-publishing is formatting everything!  Just when I think it's ready to go, I find something that changes my mind. 

- What is the most rewarding thing about self-publishing? 
The most rewarding is knowing I am able to get my stories out to those who want to read them with out rejection from the "big guys".

- If you could give one piece of advice to a novice author, what would it be?
Be patient.  If you stress yourself out, you won't enjoy the process. 

Sixty-7

Sixty-seven percent of juvenile males in jail for murder are there for killing their mother's abuser.
This novella follows a ten year old boy who wants to protect his mother from her abusive boyfriend. Will he become one of the sixty-7?
Available at Amazon US and Amazon UK

Interact with the Author


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Liverpool Riots 08/08/11


I take back everything I said in my last post...Liverpool has nothing to be proud of today.
Rioters take to the streets of Liverpool

Monday, 8 August 2011

Liverpool Pride 2011

This is a very quick post about Liverpool Pride 2011, Saturday 06 August. It was a great day, we really did ourselves proud and the city's inhabitants were out in force to watch the parade. It was fantastic to see representatives from the local police, political parties, housing associations and universities waving their banners in the parade.



Everyone was very restrained as they passed the god squad!

Despite huge numbers drinking in the streets it was a very friendly and calm atmosphere: we showed the footie hooligans how to conduct a street party with dignity!



The acts on the stage were, almost without exception, awful - but you can't have everything!

Highlights of the day:
  • Dancing in the street in the pouring rain
  • Seeing the rainbow flag proudly flown from the Liver Building and Town Hall
  • Getting my face painted with glittery stars
Surly - even when starry!

__________________________________________________________________
Kate Aaron is an author of queer and fantasy novels and short stories. Find all her books on Amazon now http://www.amazon.com/Kate-Aaron/e/B0058DL8A0/

Friday, 5 August 2011

Matt Cairone

Matt is the author of The Brit: Drawing Dead, The Dirty Window and Manny.

The Interview

- Why do you write?That’s a hard question. Because I love it. Because it makes me happy. When I’m writing fiction the time flies by. My hands can’t keep up with my ideas. It’s hard work, but it doesn’t seem like it. And writing a story is a great change of pace from the writing I do in my legal work. When I’m writing a book or a short story, the only limit is my imagination. How cool is that?

- Where do you get your ideas for a book? From meeting interesting people who can become interesting characters. Take my book The Brit: Drawing Dead as an example. I got the idea for the main character from an English guy I met playing poker at the Aria casino in Las Vegas. He was interesting and quirky and entertaining, you know, a “real character.” The character in the book, of course, is nothing like the real guy I met, but he was the start. That’s where imagination takes over. I had the main character before I had any idea for a story or the plot.

- Has publishing your own book changed how you view the work of others?Yes. Now I know how much work it really is to pull it all together. I have a better appreciation for the attention to detail and consistency. When you’re writing a full length novel it’s not easy to keep clear track of time, dress, mannerisms, and all of that. The editing and re-checking process seems never-ending, and it’s particularly hard to “put the pencil down.” There’re still a few small novice mistakes in my first published book even after many, many edits. I’ve learned a lot from seeing the finished work “out there.” Now, when I read what others have written and published I know what they went through.

- Do you think character or plot is more important to a good story?Without a doubt the characters. Plot is important, for sure, but I think stories have to happen to interesting characters. A great plot can’t save a book if the characters aren’t engaging. I bet when you think of your favorite books you’ll find they’re your favorites because you cared about the characters. I know that’s true for me.

- What is your all-time favourite character, and why?The cat from Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat. Because he’s a gas: full of crazy and wacky exuberance. He would always be a good guy to have around.

- What book changed your life? In what way?Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I don’t know why or exactly how. I just know it did. I read it when I was 14 and I can still remember not wanting to put it down.

- What, to you, defines a successful author?Someone who creates great characters and puts them into a compelling, well written story that people want to read. 

- What was the best review you ever got?I’ve been very fortunate to get good reviews so far from readers in the Kindle store and I appreciate them very much. My best, though, was when my wife Shannon, one of my toughest critics, said she liked my book. That meant the world to me.

- If you could be any author who would you be, and why?Ernest Hemingway. I love the clear, straightforward prose. I love the sparse dialogue. I love the understatement, the economy of words. He never over wrote to show us that he could. That takes guts and immense talent. Easy to admire, not so easy to emulate.

- What is the most frustrating thing about self-publishing?Not having someone else promote the book for you so that you can move on to the next one.

- What is the most rewarding thing about self-publishing?Not having someone else tell you what to write so that they can promote the book for you.

- Who gave you the best writing advice?I had a professor at Dartmouth College who asked me to write five papers for his course. Each one was on an important writing, sometimes fiction sometimes not. I remember one was St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans and another was The Grapes of Wrath. Here’s the advice. He said if you can’t tell me what you need to tell me in one page, double spaced, it’s not worth reading. So, he limited each paper to no more than one page, double spaced. It was the hardest writing I’ve ever been asked to do, and I got more out of that class than almost any other I’ve ever taken. I owe that professor a big thank you – both for the writing I do as an author, and for the writing I do as a lawyer. Grazie mille!

- If you could give one piece of advice to a novice author, what would it be?I’m a novice, so take my advice for what it’s worth. But, since you asked, edit, edit, and edit again. Take a few days off, then edit.

The Brit: Drawing Dead
Ordinary men make bad decisions every day. The Brit is no exception. One extraordinary, desperate act at a Las Vegas casino turns the life of the Englishman on its head. He is in dire straits in a foreign country, with no money, no friends, and no idea how to manage the situation.

The Brit collides with the other characters like the cue ball hits the other balls at the break on the billiards table. One never knows where the balls will come to rest.

The Brit is an existential work of literary fiction.
Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK
Also available in paperback

The Dirty Window
A paralyzed skier sits and dreams in a small New Mexico town.
Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Manny
A one day fishing charter quickly turns into a nightmare at sea. Will the captain save the fishing party? Will he save his mate? Can he save himself?
Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Interact with the Author Online

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Patrick Satters

I'd like to introduce a very talented young writer facing the added challenge of writing in his second language. Patrick Satters is the author of Fateful Bet.

The Interview


- What book changed your life? In what way?
The first book I read voluntarily, was Lord of the Rings. I was gripped by the fantastic story. I totally fell in love with it, even before the movies spread through the world. I guess there is no need for me to tell you why this is a masterpiece... I didn’t had any problems with that many names coming up in the book, even at that young age. But for everyone who was troubled by that, the same thing happened to me with The Silmarillion, so many names and nicknames and synonyms...
- Why do you write?
After reading LOTR, I tried more fantasy books. I devoured one after the other. With regret, I realized that most of them were just bad copies. Every time there was a group of heroes who wanted to overthrow an evil tyrant. Some have attempted to write original ideas, but ultimately, they all felt the same. At this point I began to write my own stories, rather than reading the work of others.

- Do you think character or plot is more important to a good story?
Definitely the plot, because without conflict, there wouldn’t be a story at all. Without conflict, Romeo and Juliet would be just a normal story of two people falling in love. Why is the story interesting? If Character was the most important, then the only interest in the story would be because Romeo is a romantic guy and Juliet is a hot girl. But that's not the interesting bit, is it? It’s because the two of them are from different families and the tension grows with each line.
I think that a interesting character, who just sits around at home, would not make a unique story, but a normal guy out on a battlefield, between thousand of soldiers, would make a much better story… to create a fantastic story, of course, you need both interesting characters and an interesting plot.

- What is your all-time favourite character, and why?
Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter. Everyone has his own Malfoy, someone who seems to be more talented than themself in everything. His arrogant smile; his rich parents. A guy who’s given so much by god that you're unsure if there is really something like fairness and equality. Maybe Ron Weasly, who had thought that he would really get Hermione? 

- What, to you, defines a successful author?
The simple answer would contain the words "honor, popularity, money, count of published works," but for me it is someone who writes a story that influence other people to be a part of it. When they try to write fanfictions for your characters, or an alternative ending. Maybe when they play games like "quidditch" in real life or do paintings about it. Such a author would be Lewis Carol. How many works contain homages to the Cheshire Cat or the White Rabbit?

- What inspires your writing?
I wouldn‘t call it inspired, or a theme. It’s more like points to try to show the reader:
1)    Butterfly Effect: There is nothing without an effect. If the main character steals a purse from a nobody in the beginning of the book, could that lead that nobody to be the final boss at the end of the book?
2)    No Black and White: There is no such thing as entirely evil, or saintly. Is just a perspective of individuals. So I try to lead the reader to the conclusion that the main character is a nice guy, just to point the finger at them and say "how about these parts, was he really as perfect as you thought?"
3)    Originality: There's a thousand books about elves, dragons and so on. Why should I add another one? Of course not everything is original, but there isn’t a need for this. If everything is new, the reader has nothing well known, which would make him calm and helps him to understand. He has no preconceptions to support his understanding. The opposite of this would be a vampire high school romance book.

- If you could be any author who would you be, and why?
It wouldn’t be fun to be another person. It’s much cooler to got the chance to actually talk to other people instead of trying to be them. Maybe he/she read your book and liked it, how awesome would that be?

- If you could give one piece of advice to a novice author, what would it be?
Most authors say write, write and write… sounds like Stephen King said that and everyone copies it. I would say that before you write a single letter, ask yourself the question: "why should others read my story?" If you can answer that, either you lied to yourself, or you've got something to tell. It mustn’t be something like world peace. It’s enough if you can say that it has a unexpected ending, if it's got a theme that no one else used before, or just has a lot of unique things happen in there, then you’ve got a reason to show your work around the world. Even if your story is terrible, you can say that you wanted to show the reader exactly why: *fill in your reason*.