27 June 2012

The 777 Challenge

 I was tagged by Ciara Gold along with six other authors. My challenge is to go to page 7 of my current work in progress and post seven lines. When I'm done posting, I get to tag seven other authors. Hmm, who shall I tag? Oh and once I'm done, I challenge those seven to do the same and tag seven more.Heh heh, keep the vicious circle spinning!
And now for my excerpt. This is from my current WIP, Decently Large, rough draft of a short story due soon. Real soon. Hence one of the reasons I've been AWOL for a bit.

Page 7, 7 lines:And remember, 'tis a rough draft...

We drifted apart, each moving in different circles and different directions. When I received my degree in business finance and sent her an announcement, she never replied. And when Jake proposed, Amber never responded to my letters or emails. I thought at first she wasn’t getting them, that maybe she’d changed her addresses. But nothing marked “return to sender; address unknown” showed up in the mailbox, and my emails were never bounced back by the “Mailer Daemon.” The girl I once counted as my closest friend simply didn’t care. I never had the chance to ask her to be in --or simply attend--my wedding.

My seven authors to tag:

Matthew Marine
Rosemary Gemmell
Ray Robinson
Cathy Coburn
Liane Moonraven (aka C.Ritter)
Michelle Anderson Picarella
Kat Daughtry

18 June 2012

Interview with a Devious Duo

Cathy Coburn and Duaine Neill are a mother/son writing team.   Cathy majored in Art in her hometown of San Diego, CA. There she studied Creative Writing and English Literature. As a Divemaster and quad enthusiast Cathy has an adventurous sprit. She resides in Phoenix, AZ metro with her husband.   Duaine studied Marketing, computer and Business Management in Phoenix, AZ. Duaine has a love for travel and excitement. All who know him tag him as a daredevil. Duaine resides in Phoenix, AZ metro with his wife and son. Both Cathy and Duaine have the gift of a vivid imagination.

Hi Cathy and Duaine, and thank you for agreeing to be grilled--I mean interviewed--about your collaboration on After the Mist. What prompted you to decide to work on a writing project together?

Cathy Coburn
C: First off thanks so much Jude for the invite. Grilled huh? Okay bring it on. I think Duaine and I were always meant to do something great (I like that word, so I’m keeping it) anyway, something great together. We tried on many different disguises even detectives tracking people for a spell, but that’s another story. None of those disguises fit well. 

Duaine was always pushing me to get back to my writing; it was him who encouraged the writing team. With both our active imaginations he felt we could create masterpieces. We pulled our thoughts together and Wa-La,  After the Mist was born.

Duaine Neill
D: We have always been dreamers looking for that one thing that would help us move up in the world. So like she said we have tried a lot of different things together.  But this dream was different, I knew from the beginning, the first night I had the dream, that this dream would change our life's forever. I new with both of our creative minds put together we could write this great novel.

Cathy, you’ve said Duaine is a great liar. Having both a husband and son who love to string me along with outrageous stories, I can totally sympathize. Do you ever find it frustrating not knowing if he’s pulling your leg or not? And do you think writing together has changed your mother-son relationship at all?

C: I like the word great most times but not sure it applies here. I think I said Duaine’s a horrible liar. I have to analyze his every word. I always assume what he’s telling me is a lie, even when he called me to tell me about the twin towers getting hit by the planes, I didn’t believe him. But even though I’m constantly on my guard he can still sting me, and does often.

D: I don’t personally consider myself a great liar, but indeed a great storyteller. She calls it lies, I call it twisting the truth. By the way, she falls for most of my stories along with everybody else.

C: Potatoes-Potataes. What is twisting the truth if it’s not a big lie, I ask?

C: As for your second question, Duaine and I have always been close, we both love to laugh and have fun. It gives us more of a chance to do that, I think.

D: We've always been the best of friends but I do think it has brought us closer on a different level, an intellectual level.

Afterthe Mist is a page-turning adventure of Bermuda Triangle mysterious doings, and reads like you have a good basis of research on the subject. Have you always been interested in the unexplained legacy of the area?

C: I did a lot of research for the book. I have always been interested in anything unexplained. I’d also love to find Bigfoot and the Lochness Monster. But mostly I love to be scared. It’s an adrenaline thing.

D: Yes I have always been since a child. I always liked watching the movies that were unexplainable, like X-files. One of my favorite.
What influenced you to write the particular blend of adventure, mystery, romance, and heebie-jeebies that infuses After the Mist? [Which I absolutely devoured, by the way.] Were you inspired watching a Twilight Zone marathon or something else?

C: Well I never thought of that but yes I’ve watched the twilight zone marathons over and over and made all my boys watch them with me. I was one of those horrible mothers who told scary stories, and made my boys watch scary movies with me. Scared the crap out of them then but they all love them now. Some how they all managed to survive me and turn out fairly normal.

D: And now you know why my dreams are so real and twisted. Thank you MOM!
We wanted to write it so it would appeal to the masses, so that everybody could enjoy the story. Then after we hooked them they’d want to see it at the movies.

Okay, it’s June. In Phoenix. Why in heaven’s name did you move to the sizzling griddle that is Arizona in the summer when every Zonie is desperately trying to get to San Diego?

C: My husbands work brought us here and I reeled in all my boys to join us. They all met their wife’s here, had their kids here, so it’s been a good move for all. But we do, all of us, miss the ocean so we run to it often.

D: Originally I moved from California to Arizona for work. California did not have a lot of work and Arizona was booming. Then I fell in love with the 9 months of great weather and the 3 months of hot are bearable.

The character of Timothy endures a harrowing bullying ordeal as a teen in your novel. What brought that scene to mind for you and did you have any reservations about including it?

C: In every story I read or every movie I watch, my heart moves toward the underdog. I wanted Timothy to be that person, the one your heart breaks for then rejoices over. So no for me there were no reservations in writing it, but knew some others would have reservations in reading it. I like a good shock so I force readers to share in that.

D: No reservations for me she nailed it on the head.

If you had an opportunity to leave a note to yourself as you began writing, what words of caution and encouragement would it contain?

C: Cathy, leave out the words just and quickly. You’ll just have to quickly remove them later.

D: Duaine it is going to be a long process getting your first book published but stay focused, be patient and it will pay of in the long run.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. I really enjoyed your book and look forward to reading more from you two!

C: Thank you so much for allowing us to join you today Jude. It was fun. And not too grilling ;-)

D: Yes thank you for having us here today and reading our book. Hope to entertain everyone more in the near future.

Please give us all the info on your website, blog, Facebook Fan Page, and where readers can purchase After the Mist.

11 June 2012

Dirty Projects

I've been working outside for more than a month now. It's great therapy to play with dirt. Plus, did you know that dirt is the most effective sunscreen protection? Maybe Pigpen from Peanuts was on to something...

Anyway, I started thinking about doing this during the winter afternoons when we wanted to sit outside in the warm sun. The only place we could do so was in the graveled back half of our yard, beyond the Thunderdome--I mean the railroad ties. Someone Other Than Me decided that large chunks of pink granite would look great back there. Might look great but it's a bitch to walk through. The wrought iron patio chairs don't sit well in it, and of course it scratches and scrapes everything it touches.

Where we started with the planter...
There was a planter on the northwest side that sat in sun all day where no plant truly thrived. I tried growing wildflowers, zinnias, sunflowers, portulacas, irises, herbs...none of them did well. Oh they might get a bloom or two within the first month, then wither and dry up. Initially, I thought it was the soil, then perhaps too much sun. I gave up and let it sit empty all last year. Staring at it while trying to balance my chair in the granite chunks, a brilliant notion occurred to me. I'll rip the damn thing apart and put a patio there!

(And before you ask, no. No, I don't have my husband or son "helping" me on this project. Working solo will keep me out of jail for homicide. It seems to be working--so far...)

I forgot how heavy retaining wall bricks are. I also discovered why nothing would grow there, ever. See that giant saguaro behind the wall? Saguaros don't sink roots like a tree; they spread them out in a circle around them in a twenty-five to thirty foot radius to absorb as much surface water as possible. This one had hit the jackpot when I built that planter.

A web of saguaro roots slowed me down as soon as I removed the first layer of brick. I'd see a skinny strand less than a quarter of an inch thick and think I could just yank it out of the dirt. Oh. Mah. Gawd. Looks are truly deceiving when it comes to those things. They have the tensile strength of steel. There wasn't one foot of free earth in that entire planter. No wonder nothing grew--that saguaro sucked up every bit of water and had wrapped its greedy tendrils around the water line to boot! Now before you think I've killed the cactus, remember: those roots circle outward. The entire desert area beyond the wall is full of root strands to sustain it. It's cool.

Anyway, the reason I'm sharing this is how physical drudgery frees the creative side of the brain. I've been writing in my head while shoveling dirt. I have a short story to finish by the end of the month and the time spent working outside has allowed me to explore different scenarios without sitting at the computer. Plus it's incredible exercise without going to a gym. Just ask my shoulders and lat muscles.

The foundation as of June 10.
The current State of the Patio? The new foundation is slowly progressing. I work on it in the early mornings or evenings when the sun is closer to the horizon. June heat in Arizona can not only fry your skin to a crackly crunch, you can dehydrate faster than your brain registers thirst. So I'm careful to work two hours at a time. I need to get the paving stones set before our summer thunderstorms begin.  Only a little more foundation dirt to tamp then I can frame the layout, set the border of retaining wall bricks, add enough sand to cover the area two inches deep, level that, and then place the pavers. It's going to be fun to see the finished project.

And don't worry. I have more Dirty Projects in mind for the front yard, too.

03 June 2012

Today's Guest: GARY STARTA

Today's Monday Guest Blog is by Gary Starta, whose new novel will be released June 4--hey that's today!

Thanks to Jude for hosting. My name is Gary Starta and I tend to write mix genre, or, what I dub "fiction on the fringe of genre."

My new release, Demon Inhibitions, threads sci fi, urban fantasy, suspense, romance, horror and mystery.
I usually anchor my novels in science fiction but find it fascinating and almost impossible not to blend these other genres into the mix. You could compare it to a meal. While there's nothing wrong with eating a piece of fish by itself day after day you might find it more tasty to add broccoli (horror), rice (mystery), salad (romance), bread(fantasy) and dessert (suspense).
To be more precise, Demon Inhibitions consists of:
Sci fi: Agent Caitlin Diggs believes a genetically made soul stealer is responsible for recent murders.
Horror: The soul stealer has escaped custody and crosses a parallel universe dragging Diggs with him via wormhole.
Urban Fantasy: Diggs is assisted by a Wiccan investigator and a succubus. In her parallel universe, demons outnumber humans and a preternatural branch of the FBI deals with their crimes.
Romance: Diggs enters an altered reality and a love triangle emerges. Her new boss Charles Grant is beyond handsome but the other version of her friend Stanford Carter is stirring feelings she never had for his alternate.
Hitches: Grant doesn't know 'his' Diggs has been killed by the soul stealer. Alternate Carter has been turned into a demon. Would romance with Carter change her as well?
Mystery: Why is the soul stealer hell bent on eradicating a teen whose singing voice inhibits demon violence?
Suspense: Diggs faces the prospect that conventional weapons will not subdue her fugitive. Can her newly acquired paranormal abilities give her a fighting chance?
I'm sure we've all read great stories that brought some or all of these elements together. They usually get boxed under one category for sales purposes. Maybe someday a multiple-genre tag will be born. After all, paranormal romance is still a fairly young genre and is ever growing. Change does happen.
Demon Inhibitions is available TODAY from Champagne Books. Please stop by my FB page for updates! http://www.facebook.com/GaryStartaSciFiFanPage

Author Biography
Gary Starta is a former journalist who studied English and Journalism at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. His love for science fiction compelled him to write his first novel What Are You Made Of? published in 2006. Inspired by Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz as well as "The X-files" television/movie series. Contemporary authors Laurell K. Hamilton, Rachel Caine, Jim Butcher and Kelly Armstrong also fuel his aspiration to create paranormal suspense. 

Excerpt  from Demon Inhibitions: