Posts Tagged ‘romance’


The writing life, for the most part, is not glamorous, but every so often, something really fantastic happens, and it reminds me of the reasons I wanted to do this. I’ve made a commitment to chronicle these things as a way of keeping myself from taking it for granted. I call these my “Rockstar Moments” because they make me feel like a rockstar! My most recent Rockstar moment came a few days ago.

Recently, I’ve been assisting my friend and fellow horror author, Tamara Thorne, in proof-reading some of her earlier books which are currently being converted into eBook format. Tamara does all the hard stuff – I just double check for typos that the scanning sometimes produces. I’ve been a Tamara Thorne fan since the ’90s, so really, it’s just an excuse for me to read really good books. Anyway, the latest Tamara Thorne book that’s been successfully converted into eBook format is Eternity.

Until I started proofing it, I’d never read Eternity, so this one was especially fun. I’ve read (and in several cases re-read) Bad Things, Haunted, Moonfall, and The Sorority Series (Eve, Merilynn, and Samantha) but there were still a few out there that I hadn’t had the chance to get.

I plowed through Eternity, trying very hard not to demand the chapters from Tamara faster than she could restore and send them. Whereas most great stories have their climactic end, Eternity felt to me like one big, wonderfully on-going peak that just kept getting higher and higher. Seriously. This book has it all: serial killers, famous missing persons, horror, shrewd humor, murder mystery, a dash of sci-fi, and even a bit of romance. What’s not to love?

So the fact that I genuinely love this book only makes my recent Rockstar Moment that much sweeter. After the conversions were finished, Tamara sent me the file to look over, and this is what I saw:

This is probably one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to me. I couldn’t be more honored.

Thank you, Tamara, for your very kind gesture. Words fail.

Eternity is now available in eBook at: http://www.amazon.com/Eternity-ebook/dp/B00AA3WWW6/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353445662&sr=1-7&keywords=Eternity. It will be re-released in paperback next year.

Also, be sure to check out Tamara’s Little Blog of Horrors at: http://tamarathorne.wordpress.com/

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As well as being a multi-published author, Dawne Dominique is also a cover art designer. In fact, Dawne is responsible for the cover art for Beautiful Monster (scheduled for release September 1st, 2012 by Damnation Books LLC) written by myself and Mimi A. Williams~ and neither of us could be happier with the work Dawne did for us!

As I’ve been getting to know her, I’ve been struck by Dawne’s kindness, her passion for her work, her flexibility with the authors she works with, and of course, her talent. When Mimi and I saw the draft of the cover art design for Beautiful Monster we were absolutely thrilled. So thrilled in fact, that we overlooked Sterling’s eye color in the picture. When I realized we’d made a rather big deal of Sterling’s piercing blue eyes throughout the novel, I thought I’d probably better see if it wasn’t too late to ask Dawne if we could make the alteration. I was a bit nervous about doing this because first of all, I was worried it was going to be too late, and second, I didn’t want to seem persnickety about the very good work Dawne had done for us. I realized I’d be happy with the cover either way, but finally decided it was worth asking about on the off-chance it wasn’t to late to make changes.

As it turned out, it wasn’t too late. Within a few hours of talking to Dawne about the cover, I received an updated draft of the cover on which Sterling looked back at me with a pair of the brightest, bluest eyes I’d ever seen. I still can’t stop staring at it!

Dawne Dominque will always be a very special person to me. I liken her to a kind of magician. She made my fictional character real. She gave corporeal life to the man I plucked from somewhere in my own twisted mind. If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what else is.

Interviewing Dawne was a ton of fun and I look forward to working with her more in the future. For more about her, her novels, and her cover art, visit her at: http://www.dawnedominique.com/

Thank you so much for having me here today, Jared.

Q: Why did you decide to get into cover art design?

A: It was quite by accident. I was designing signs and banners for authors in my writing forum. When I was approached by a publisher to submit a novella for an erotic cowboy anthology, she suggested I do the covers for each eBook submission, and then the print format. It was the first time I became a published author and a cover artist.

Q: Over the course of your career, about how many novels have you done the cover art for?

A: *chuckles* You know, I was just thinking about that the other day. I’d guesstimate well over a 1,000 covers, with the majority of them eBooks. I began as an artist at the start of the eBook emergence. Let’s see:  I do about 30 covers minimum a month (sometimes more), as I work for several publishers: two of them release quarterly, and the majority release monthly. So, let’s multiple that by seven years. I wasn’t doing as many in the earlier days, but now it’s crazy nuts…and I love it.

Q: Are there any covers that you are especially proud of? Why?

A: Geeze!  There’s too many to count. The first one that made me realize I actually had some talent was a book cover called Hard Winter. Each cover is a personal experience for me. I know that sounds bizarre, but I try walking in an author’s shoes, getting inside their heads, so to speak. One of my recent favorites  is a Steampunk cover I did for an Indie author called The Hands of Tarot. Some of my horror favorites (and I’m not saying this because it’s you) is Beautiful Monster and Grim. I like some more than others. It’s way too difficult to pinpoint only one.

Q: What is the best part of being a cover art designer?

A: Hands down…an author’s reaction.

Q: What are the most significant ways technology has changed your career?

A: Well, to be honest, I self-taught myself everything I know. I prefer certain programs for certain formats. I began with a free drawing program called Serif. Then I upgraded to Photoshop. Every couple of years, I purchase an upgrade, which can do more magic. The old days of hand-drawn artwork is gone, and I’m thankful for it, as changes/revisions can be easily done with photo-manipulation.

Q: Along with the artwork, you are also the author of several novels. Which do you prefer: designing, or writing, and why?

A: That’s a tough question. Both are an integral part of me. I’ve always been a writer and artist ever since I could hold a crayon.

Q: What do you think is the most important quality a good writer must possess?

A: Their imagination.

Q: Which of your own novels are you most proud of, and why?

 A: My vampire series called The First. I began writing it well before the Twilights and True Bloods of the world. Hell, I’m still writing it. Unfortunately, the first novel was picked up and released by another publisher, who held it hostage for three years. An absolute horrid experience, which made me shelve the entire project, which was heartbreaking as I’d already had three novels written for it. Although it was a bad experience, it was one I learned a lot from, so in the end, it wasn’t so bad after all. It’s the reason why I work with the authors as I do—getting input with respect to their cover art.

Q: Are you writing anything now, and what can you tell us about it?

A: I’m editing Crimson Cries, which is about a chapter short of being finished. It’s the fourth novel to The First series. Then, there’s Surrender: Sins of the Father, the final novel. These aren’t your usual romance/paranormal novels. They call them “erotica” because there’s sex in them, but it’s not your fluffy, romancing stuff that dreams are made of. I’m a “say like it is” gal, and my writing is an extension of myself. No purple prose for me, thank you very much. With this series, I’ve blended biblical and mythology facts into fiction. The gist is why, where, and how the first vampires came to be. There’s several significant characters and a few “aha” moments.  It may surprise people to learn who was actually nailed to the cross that faithful day.  *grins*

I’ve also started another novel called Hellhound Bound. It’s only in its infancy stages, at about 13k being written, but it’s about a paralegal who gets caught up in a murder trial she’s working on. Of course, it’s speculative fiction, so there’s magic and paranormal aspects involved.

Then there’s several novels I  must get back to. I began as a classic fantasy writer, like Lord of the  Rings, but with kick-ass women heroines. I have an almost 200k fantasy novel that needs major edits. Finding the time is the main obstacle. Once The First series is completed, I plan to do some serious editing on them. My publisher has been itching to release them, but in my eyes, they’re not ready to venture into the world yet.

Q: What is the hardest part of being a writer for you?

A: Right now…finding the time to set my muse in motion. I work three days a week as a contracted paralegal (Thursdays being a ten-hour day). Every night I come home and do cover art. I try my best to use the late night to write. That’s my time. It’s not uncommon for me to look at the clock and realize it’s four in the morning.

Q: Who is the most difficult character you have written? Why was he or she so difficult, and how did you make it work?

A: Sam Ethbert. He’s an inmate on death row who dies by lethal injection and wakes to find himself being interviewed by two very strange men. Sadly, while he’s in prison, he’s convicted of anther crime he didn’t do—murder of another inmate.  It was the first story I posted in my writing forum in order to receive critiques. First, I had to think like man, and not just any man, but a career criminal. A few people who reviewed it were surprised to learn I was a woman.  *snickers* The story is written in first person, and for me, that’s always a challenge to write.

Q: Do you do the cover art for your own books?

A: Remember the horrid publisher experience I suffered? It all began with the cover they designed for me…with my name spelled incorrectly on front. Yes, I design every cover for myself…and man, oh, man, am I anal! I’m never satisfied.  hahahaha

Q: You did the cover art for Beautiful Monster, the novel written my me and Mimi A. Williams. What was your favorite part about doing that cover?

A: The finished product. When I’m nearing the end of the creative process, I always ask myself one question:  Would I be proud to have this as my own cover?

Q: In your e-mail you said that after reading our Author Information Forms you wanted to do the cover art for Beautiful Monster yourself. What made you interested in doing the artwork on this book?

A: It was the complexity of Sterling Bronson’s character that tugged at me, I wanted to show the two dimensions of him at first glance. Taking descriptions and creating the artwork is a challenge I strive on. And yours was certainly a challenge I wanted to delve into. ☺

Q: What was the most difficult part about Beautiful Monster’s cover art?

A: When I finally managed to get both features to blend realistically. *whew*

Q: Have I told you how much I LOVE the cover?!?

A: *blushes*  Yes. And because you love it, I keep smiling. My job is done.

Q: When you aren’t writing or designing, what do you like to do?

A: That’s not too often, let me tell you. I enjoy having a few beers on the deck. I’m a simple Canadian girl. Our winters are long—and damn cold. When summer arrives, that’s where you’ll usually find me…if I’m not chained to my computer in the dungeon.  If a good Blues band comes to the city, you’ll find me there dancing and partying. I really don’t go out much.

Q: Have you ever been stumped and not had any idea what kind of cover you were going to give a book? If so, how did you overcome it?

A: No, I’ve never been stumped, but I will confess that I’ve scratched my head at some ideas authors have given me. I always try to work with it as opposed to against it. If I know it won’t sell, then I design something of my own, trying my best to incorporate a few of those details. 99% of time, authors are stunned at what I’ve come up with. More times than not, we usually never have any changes. When an author tells me to “run with it”, those are best!  I allow my imagination to go wild. It’s why I adore doing horror cover art. I find little restrictions in that genre.

Q: What is the most challenging thing about being a cover art designer?

A: I’m a stickler for details, so I like to get it right the first time, with minor tweaks. More importantly, the artwork has to look realistic. There’s some covers out there that I’ve done that I don’t like, but the authors were adamant about certain aspects they wanted. It’s their cover, right? If they’re happy, so be it. But if it’s right off the wall, I’ll refuse, especially if I know it’s not going to sell. I’ve been in this business a long time, so I’ve learned a few things. Authors trust me, and that is by far the greatest compliment I could ever receive.

Q: What is the most rewarding?

A: As I mentioned earlier, it’s an author’s reaction. Knowing they’re proud to display their covers and boast about it, then I’ve done my job, and I’ve done it well.

Q: Do you find most authors to be easy to work with when it comes to their book covers?

A: In all the years that I’ve been designing cover art, only two have driven me almost over the edge. Needless to say, I survived, but barely. I’m adamant about allowing an author three drafts only. If we can’t get right in three, there’s something radically wrong. I’ve done up to 18 drafts before I pulled the plug. There was just no pleasing this author. There are times when they have this conception in their head about how their covers should look like, and nothing will deter them. No matter how close I came, it wasn’t good enough. Unfortunately, I refuse to work with that author again.

I’ve been absolutely blessed with the authors I’ve worked for and continue to work with. True, some are more pickier than others, but I’m an author, too. I understand where they’re coming from, and that gives me a distinctive edge. They keep coming back, so I must be doing something right.

Q: Were you an author or a cover artist first?

A: An author first and foremost. Without words, a cover can never be accomplished.

Q: What is the one question you wish people would ask you more often, and how would you answer it?

A: Well, you have me stumped there. I’m rather shy and modest, and would prefer talking about anything other than myself.


Since beginning my author interviews a few months back, I’ve been paying special attention to other readers, listening for the names of their favorite writers in an attempt to be sure the interviews don’t become confined solely to my own personal tastes. As I’ve listened, the name that I’ve heard more than any other is probably Maeve Binchy. As it so happens, I am also a fan of Maeve’s work, so I decided she’d be a pretty dang good guest for my blog.

I contacted Maeve a few weeks ago (or more accurately, I contacted Christine Green, Maeve’s literary agent) and enquired about an interview. Christine told me she’d talk to Maeve, and within a few days, we got the ball rolling. This quick response was especially impressive to me because I am in the United States, Maeve is in Ireland, and Christine is also in the U.K. Gotta love the internet!

Maeve Binchy is best known for her sense of humor and her take on small-town life in Ireland. Before publishing her first novel Light a Penny Candle in 1982, she worked as a teacher and a journalist at The Irish Times. Since then, she has published over a dozen novels, including Circle of Friends, which was made into a Hollywood movie  in 1995 starring Chris O’Donnell and Minnie Driver. In addition, Maeve has published several short story collections, novellas, plays, and some non-fiction. For more about Maeve and her work, check out her website at: http://www.maevebinchy.com/

Q: Do you remember the moment you decided you wanted to be a writer?

A: Not really: I think I always wanted to be a story-teller.  My writing career started with a letter which was published in Irish Times.  I  became a journalist and worked for the Irish Times for many years and I had a great kind boss  who thought I could do anything and sent me to  write about wars and economics and the Royal Family and gave me a great training. In my own writing, I wanted to be entertaining, comforting, encouraging and the reader’s friend.   I used to be a teacher, so I thought that I could run the world.  I used to be an Agony Aunt so I think I can solve everyone’s problems!

Q: Your novel Circle of Friends was made into a movie in 1995, starring Chris O’Donnell and Minnie Driver. Were you happy with the movie?

A: I was very impressed with the way the screen writer and director brought the story to the screen.  It is a very long book so obviously not everything could be included, but I think they have told my story very well. You get the whole sense of it all. It’s a totally different world — they have to cut out all those pages and pages of internal monologue that I write, and all the brooding and thinking and wondering that I go on with .  One little sentence in a film script says and shows it all.  And I am literally in awe of the detail they go to, to get the places looking just right, and the detail accurate.

Q: Did you meet any of the Circle of Friends cast?

A: I first met Minnie Driver down in Kilkenny, she and Chris O’ Donnell came over and asked me was this meant to be about me and my friends, and I said it was a bit but they were much  far more beautiful and handsome  than we were with the total truth.

I met Minnie’s sister, and Chris O’ Donnell’s parents, there and in Hollywood, and in London and in Dublin.  They were charming everywhere and very easy company.

Q: Outside of writing, what do you love more than anything?

A: The happiest moments of my life are connected with family and friends.  There is a great comfort about being with people who knew you way back when. There is a mental shorthand, and easygoing feeling that life doesn’t have to be explained or defined; we are all in more or less the same boat.  To have a community around you in a changing and unstable world is invaluable and nothing can beat the feeling that there will always be people out for our good.

Q: Is there any particular character or characters of yours that you are especially fond of or attached to?

A: I don’t really have a favourite but I have a number of characters who reappear in the more recent novels.  My father was a lawyer and he warned me never to put a real person in a book so I have not done that. But I do steal little attributes from people and I do enjoy that…

Q: What part of the writing process is the most difficult for you?

A: I have bad arthritis these days and it’s now in my wrists, so this practical aspect is the worst bit for me these days.

Q: Have you ever gotten half way through writing a novel and become so frustrated or discouraged that you couldn’t finish it?

A: Sometimes I do have an idea and a main character and a situation but I am afraid to talk about it in case it all slips away on me and that by talking about it I will believe it’s already done!

 

Q: What do you most hope that people will say about your novels fifty years from now?

A: I guess I’d hope people understand that we only get one life and it will be what we made it to be and there are no short-cuts. Being wealthy doesn’t necessarily make you happy, nor being beautiful or thin or married.  And nobody’s life is ordinary if we know where to look.

Q: Is there anything you really wish you had written but never got around to?

A: Any good de-cluttering manual.  My life and house and study and mind are all full of clutter.  I would love to have researched a way to get rid of it, and maybe some of the good advice I unearthed would have rubbed off on me.

Q: When and where do most of your ideas strike you?

A: I often look at people’s faces in the street: there are stories written there.  Is that man unfaithful?   Does that woman have a secret? Nowhere is dull, nobody is boring.

 Q: Do you believe in love at first sight?

A: Of course! Growing up in Dublin in the 1950s, I was in love with Marlon Brando. I sent fan letters. I wanted him to come to Ireland, to fall in love instantly with our country and with me. We would, of course, marry and live happily ever after.  Fortunately I am very happy in my life these days and I stopped wanting to marry him quite a long time ago.  The fact is, though, that I don’t believe that you fall into someone’s arms and True Love will conquer everything.  It doesn’t.  You both have to work at it a bit and make compromises.

Q: Of all of your novels, which is your favorite, and why?

 A: You always love the book you are writing at this moment so my mind is totally taken up with my next book!  It’s going to be called A Week in Winter and it’s set in a beautiful hotel on the west coast of Ireland.

Q: How many books did you write before you got one published?

A: ‘My First Book’ was the title of a collection of pieces in the Irish Times; and I was already writing short stories for the paper.  Of course, like everyone I got dozens of rejection slips but I am a sunny-minded, optimistic person so I don’t brood about them, that’s the way it goes.

 Q: What do you think is the most important element a good story must have?

A: I think is has to be characters you like and are interested in.  If we are to believe in them we must get to know them.  If you look at people’s faces in airports, cafes, on trains, in the street you can see stories written there.  Is that man afraid his wife is unfaithful?   Does that woman wish she had the courage to start dating again?  It’s written everywhere if you look.

 Q: What would you like to say to aspiring authors?

A: Seriously, it’s very boring, but you must write at least ten pages a week otherwise you’re not writing, you’re only playing around.

P.S. ~ While I was at it, I asked Maeve’s literary agent Christine Green if she would like to do an interview as well. Come back within the next few weeks to learn some fascinating dteails about the life of a literary agent!


Tara Lain was named Best Author of 2011 in the LRC Awards and her Genetic Attraction Series was runner-up for Best Series of 2011. Additionally, her novel Genetic Attraction was nominated for a CAPA (Cupid and Psyche Award ~ given by the Romance Studio) as best contemporary romance, and she was nominated for a CAPA as favorite author of 2011. Her novel Golden Dancer won The Romance Reviews Best Book of 2011 in the LGBT Ménage category.

What prompted me to ask Tara Lain for an interview was my intrigue and respect for the subject matter of her novels, which is very often (but not always) gay erotica/romance. My interest was piqued a few years ago, when I had an account on Goodreads.com. Browsing through the readers’ reviews, I couldn’t help noticing a major trend: women who love books written by women about men who love men. The inescapable, mass popularity of this genre surprised me as much as it intrigued me… and naturally, I had no choice but to check it out. The first book I ever read of this kind was a book by Tara Lain.

I think Tara Lain is not only a great author but I also think she is a brave person. It takes courage to write about such socially sensitive topics… and it takes grace to do it well. I think Tara has what it takes to keep doing what she’s been doing for a very long time to come. She was as enthusiastic to be a part of my author interviews as I was to have her, and I’m grateful to her for taking the time to answer some of my questions.

Q: You originally began writing non-fiction. What kind of non-fiction did you write?

A: I still write non-fiction every day. I own an ad/PR agency and write magazine articles, blogs, websites, white papers, email blasts and much more for my clients in technology and medical markets.

Q: In terms of process, what are some of the main differences between writing fiction and writing non-fiction?

A: There are surprising similarities. Some of my employees say my fiction writing has made me a better and faster non-fiction writer. In non-fiction, it’s all about the thesis. What is the article or paper going to prove or show? In fiction it’s about what is the hero’s problem? What stands in the way of him achieving his dreams? (I say hero because I write mostly M/M, but it’s also true for heroines) The big difference, of course, is dialogue. It’s a very different method of expression from prose. I adore dialogue and love writing it. And, I don’t get to write sex scenes when I’m writing for Waste Water Digest!  LOL

Q: Of your own characters, do you have a favorite, and why is he or she your favorite?

A: Oh, I can’t play favorites. They’re all my kids. I do have a special affection for the yummy Roan Black in The Scientist and the Supermodel and Genetic Attraction. He was my first love! He comes back in my new book, Genetic Celebrity, being released on July 24th. I also adore my feisty little Rodney Mansfield in Fire Balls. He is such a mass of contradictions — a real alpha hero in a five foot eight inch body with pink hair.

Q: Erotic fiction is very hot right now. What do you attribute that to?

A: I think erotic fiction is always hot. It’s just that digital publishing now provides a much wider selection to appeal to people’s individual tastes. The books are inexpensive, high quality and easy to acquire. What’s not to like?

Q: What originally got you interested in writing male/male (M/M) erotic romance?

A: I had decided to write an erotic romance — a M/F, older woman/younger man story. Then I ordered a book from an author I had been enjoying. All the books I had read of hers up to that point were M/F, so I simply ordered this book called Heaven without much investigation. The book was M/M and I was surprised. I started reading, kind of looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching, and immediately fell in love with the dynamic of M/M romance. The unintentional mentor was my friend Jet Mykles. I added another man to my M/F story and immediately became both a M/M writer and a ménage writer neither of which I had ever intended. I have been reading and writing M/M romance ever since.

Q: Do you prefer to write male/male erotica/romance, or male/female, and why?

A: I prefer writing M/M (or M/M/F) romance for many reasons. Two men together have no assigned societal gender roles. They both have the same physical capabilities and limitations so the writer can mix them up in lots of fun new ways. Like in my LGBT [lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender] romance, Fire Balls, my hero is a flamboyant artist who is only 5’8” tall but he is a black belt in karate and a top in bed. His lover is a big, hunky firefighter who by nature is more submissive although he’s very heroic at work. The roles are fluid. I love that. As a woman, I enjoy crawling inside the skin and emotional framework of my men and showing that men have deep feelings. I write few traditional alpha males who are silent and stoic. My guys cry as much if not more than my heroines. Also, gay men bear such a burden of discrimination that it adds a complex dimension to even a simple story. Plus, I love giving them a happy ever after!

Q: How do people respond to you when you tell them you write gay erotica/romance?

A: My husband loves it and tells everyone. So does the rest of my family and most of my friends. One or two are disapproving and prefer to ignore that whole side of my life. One of my friends who is a gay man was pretty amazed when I told him but he loves my books and tells all his friends. They keep saying, “But she’s a straight woman, right?” That makes me smile a lot!

Q: It has long been more socially acceptable for two women to have a sexual/romantic relationship than two men. Why do you think people are suddenly so interested in male/male relationships? What do you think has changed that has made male/male relationships so much more widely accepted, especially in literature?

A: I like to think that we writers of M/M romance have had something to do with it. Let’s face it, women develop the standards and mores of a society. Women love romance and they love men. Tons of women have found they love reading about two men together and suddenly the idea isn’t icky any more–it’s HOT! Those women raise children. Certainly a woman who reads M/M romance on her Kindle is going to make more of an effort to understand when her son says, “Mom, I’m gay.” On a grander scale, the world has grappled with its discrimination on many fronts. It’s time we dealt with this one.

Q: What inspires you more than anything?

A: The first two words that came to mind are justice and authenticity. For astrology buffs, I have six planets in Libra. I have an over-developed sense of justice and hate to see anyone or anything treated unfairly. And all of my books end up being about people living an authentic life –finding the way that is right for them and being willing to sacrifice to have that life. I never intend for the books to have that theme. It just happens.

Q: Of your own novels, which is your favorite and why?

A: Oh my. I can’t choose. I love Genetic Attraction because it was my first novel (and still one of my best). I really like Golden Dancer. I had never written romantic suspense before and it has three super complex heroes (it’s a M/M/M ménage). Spell Cat is my first paranormal M/M romance and I love my cat, Aloysius. Fire Balls was one of those books that just wrote itself and has been my all-time bestseller so far. And Sinders and Ash is such a total fairy tale romance it’s hard not to love it. Oh dear, I love my enemies to lovers in Beach Balls. I love them all. I can’t choose.

Q: Who do you base your characters off of?

A: I make them up. No specific inspirations (except for the male fashion model in my upcoming book, Genetic Celebrity, who is based physically somewhat on Andrej Pejic). My characters walk into my head and tell me who they are.

Q: What are some of the strongest marketing strategies you’ve found for your novels?

A: I am what is affectionately referred to as a promo whore! Since my day job is in PR all my instincts point in that direction. I know from professional experience that promotion is a cumulative effect. People often say “I’ve seen your book so many places. I think I have to get it.” I do everything– Facebook, Twitter, two blogs plus a group blog, blog tours, blog hops, online chats and parties. I just consider promotion a part of my job as an author.

Q: Do you prefer hardcopy, or e-books?

A: E-books. Though I have hundreds of paper books in my house, I took to the ereader like the proverbial duck to water. I love the idea of carrying hundreds of books in a tiny package. I enjoy the process of reading digitally.

Q: What does your writing space look like?

A: I write in the same place I work. I am lucky enough to get to work from home, so I have a nice wrap around desk with two big screens and a powerful computer.

Q: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

A: I love to walk and I adore movies. I also do some mixed media collage which I don’t have much time for now but I pull out occasionally. And, of course, I love to read.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m writing the next book in the Aloysius Tales, my paranormal series. The first book was Spell Cat and this will be book two. It’s about a young witch who has the gift of prophetic painting. When this book is complete, I’ll start another story in my contemporary fantasy series to follow Sinders and Ash.

Q: In your opinion, what is the absolute best part of writing?

A: I love walking into new worlds and meeting new people!  : )

 

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E-mail:                   tara@taralain.com

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It only takes one glance at the cover of a romance novel to realize that this genre does not expel its resources to try to appeal to the male portion of the human race. And why should they? It’s a well-known fact that men are more interested in action than intimacy, blood than love, and are far more likely to invest their time and money into the invigoration of adrenaline rather than the gentle stimulation of their softer sides, right? Personally, I don’t think this is true. I think it’s an image thing. In truth, most romance novels have qualities which appeal to men and women equally… you just don’t want your friends to see you reading one. The main reason for this, in my opinion is: the cover. I don’t especially enjoy portraits of flawless men, ravishing though they may be, whose shirts are thrust open by unaccountable midnight winds at the exact moment he envelopes a blandly attractive damsel in his arms whilst the moonlight glitters like polished rhinestone on the lake in the background.

Get past the cover though, and you might be surprised. While I have found over and over again that good storytelling is good storytelling, no matter how you package it or who you aim it at, I admit to generally avoiding the romance genre. There are those exceptions though; those fascinating novels I will devour in a couple of sittings and would later gladly slip under the table to my buddy at a seedy bar somewhere. My latest find is called “Nocturne”, an awesome novel by a woman named Syrie James, author of Dracula, My Love, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, and The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte.

I came across Nocturne at a Wal-Mart here in Georgia, and although they say not to judge a book by its cover, that’s exactly what I did. I’ve always had a passionate love affair with contrast of all kinds, so I was drawn in by the picture of the rose in the snow. I had no idea it was going to be a romantic type of book, and by the time I realized it was, I was too drawn into the story to care. Thanks be to whoever designed the book cover… for, had I been visually assaulted with a scantily clad Fabio (or Fabio look-alike), I doubt I would have ever picked it up.

I read Nocturne in two days and after I was finished, I went on a mission to contact Syrie and let her know how impressed I was, because, after all, I was certain she cared that much about my opinion, lol. As it turns out, Syrie James is a very kind woman who does in fact, care very much about her readers’ opinions. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, men and women alike. Check out Syrie James at: www.syriejames.com, and remember… always judge a book by its cover!


   

     Earlier today, I had an unusual and rather in-depth conversation with a good friend of mine about sex.  We talked about everything from the obvious basics to the more sophisticated habits, rituals and desires of our fellow men and women, musing over the roots of their various tastes and beliefs.  Many hours later, I again wound up engaged in yet another sex-based discussion with a different friend entirely.  This talk centered more around sexual orientation rather than the act itself, but still, today’s sexual theme was not lost on me, and it made me wonder at the sudden prominence of the subject of sex.  After all, despite what it may sound like right now, I don’t usually sit around and discuss the various forms of human intimacy with everyone I know.   I don’t even know what inspired the topic in either case, but it got me thinking of how dominant of a force sex really is in our lives, and how important it is in writing.

     For all the years I’ve been writing, sex has never been one of my subjects until recently (except a little erotic poetry, of course).  I wasn’t avoiding the topic really, it’s just that until I began the book I’m working on now, there was never a place for sex.  I’ve been pretty diligent about incorporating all the other factors that make characters feel more human, such as bathing, brushing their teeth, changing their clothes and getting an occassional night’s sleep, but it never occurred to me that perhaps fictional people like having sex, too.  Until now.

     In the book I’m currently working on, it’s as if all the sex-starved characters of fiction’s past are exacting their revenge on me.  In this story, I don’t think a chapter has gone by that someone wasn’t getting skins, knocking boots, doing the horizontal hokey pokey, or at least getting well felt up.  The particularly challenging thing is, in this book, no one is having conventional sex.  The main character is a perverse, sexually deviant murderer, so most of the time, the sex isn’t even consensual, making this especially foreign territory for me.  But I’m learning.

     One thing I’ve determined about fictional sex is that it follows the same basic rules of fictional anything.  In the world of fiction, everything seems to be slightly dramatized. When fictional characters are rich, for example, they are filthy rich.  If they’re depressed, then they’re really tormented… and if they have sex, they have a lot of sex, and if it’s good sex, then it’s got to be mind-bogglingly great sex.  The key, of course, is striking a balance that is believable but also engaging.  If you don’t amp up the intensity of the characters lives and emotions, then you’ve got a story as dull and lifeless as, well… real life, and why would anyone want to read a book about someone whose life is as drab as their own?  But, on the other hand, if you aggrandize your character’s experiences too much, it becomes melodramatic and ultimately alienates the reader.  Regarding sex, striking this balance is an especially challenging feat for me.

     There are other problems also.  I’m finding that writing about sex (especially sex of the deviant variety) is a multi-faceted and precarious thing in that, on one hand, there’s the fear of repulsing and offending your reader, and on the other hand, setting out to do just that. After all, don’t I kind of want to repulse and offend the reader?  And if so, to what degree? 

     Also, there is description.  Just how much detail do we need?  Do we need to know how bad Martha wants it (or in my case, doesn’t want it), and is it important to mention the exact bodily and psychological responses of each character in this situation? 

     Finally, there is word choice.  This one is especially tricky because there are times that the clinical terms for certain acts (or parts of the anatomy) just don’t properly illustrate the mood you’re trying to create.  Which brings us back to the first problem: am I offending the reader? 

     It’s a cyclical and potentially stressful dilemma, writing about sex.  And add to this your mother’s voice (real or imagined) – disapproving and stunned by your foulness – to the mix, and you’ve got a pretty toxic cocktail of troublesome puzzles to contend with.

     For me, the key to overcoming the stumbling block that is sex can be found in two words:  just write.  I can’t stop and think about what the agent, the mother, the sister, the priest, or the produce manager at Wal-Mart is going to think of my book.  If I do that, then I’ll be writing to please other people.  And if I do that… then I’ve lost all integrity and should look into getting a new, tamer passion than writing.  No matter what you do, some people will love you and some people will hate you.  The way I see it, I’d garner just as much criticism if I wrote stories about butterflies and dandelions… so I might as well write what feels true to me, because in the end, my own truth is all I have… and honoring that is the only way I know how to sleep with a clear (well… somewhat dirty) conscience.