The First Rant of the New Year – The Word NO, Rape, and Responsibility

I’d like to start by saying someone or something stole my January and half my February and I think that’s rather rude. But it pales in comparison next to the REAL burr up my ass right now.

I realize this is most likely not going to be a popular opinion, and it’s also likely to cause some hard feelings. I’m okay with that. But it’s something that’s been building for a while — a long time, actually, and since this is my blog, I can say what I want. And yes, I also realize this is a topic which has been around the block more than once.

I receive a lot of unsolicited manuscripts from many different writers. I have read just about every genre known to mankind — I’ve had phases where all I read are biographies, sci-fi, epic fantasy and all the sub-genres, bizzaro, literary, historical stuff, poetry, Shakespeare, romance (oh yes, it’s true, I know Harlequin and Silhouette, although those years are long gone) and every sub-genre you can think of (and I can’t right now because I’m too pissed off). There’s also a crapload of free material out there, so I guess you could say in a literary sense, I get around. And some of the shit I’m reading is really, really pissing me off.

Not because the grammar or sentence structure makes me want to swallow a maggot milkshake rather than read one more word; not because the story line is about as ethereal as a lace curtain; not because the main character has the personality of a tongue depressor. Because many of these writers are hella talented and tell a really good story. No, what’s lighting my fire right now is IRRESPONSIBILITY.

Hey, it’s a free world. For the most part. You can write any damned thing you please. I can’t stop you, and I wouldn’t even if I could. But what I will do is drag your ass out into the light and ask you WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?

I’m talking to you, Romance Writer. You might write straight up historical romance, you could be an author of LGBT stories, contemporary stuff…it doesn’t really matter. I am seeing a lot of “her mouth said no but her eyes said yes” bullshit and I’m just SO OVER THIS CRAP. And a lot of it, pardon me, seems to be coming from the paranormal ether, but certainly not all of it.

Why does this bug me? For several reasons. I am sick to death of reading scenes where the woman says no, the man hears yes and proceeds even when she says no more than once, and they have hot monkey sex. (Insert preferred paranormal species here. They seem to get a pass on all kinds of abhorrent behavior.) Afterward, she’s all ga-ga over the guy and sometimes he expresses remorse because after all, he’s not a BAD guy, he’s just a HORNY guy and driven crazy over her incredible HAWTNESS, all is forgiven, and they ride off into the sunset and have thousands of fat babies.

Really?

For one, NO MEANS NO. “No” does not mean, “Oh, I’m just being coy because I want to preserve the fallacy I am a good girl just overwhelmed by the sensations of my lady bits” and NO does not mean, “Oh, if I say yes he’ll think I’m a bad girl and I’ll have to give up my Virgin Decoder Ring,” and NO doesn’t mean “Oh, go ahead and take it and by the way I love you for it and thank you so much for introducing me to the marvels of an orgasm.”

And NO, motherheifer, you do NOT get a free pass just because you have to drink blood to live, turn into a werewolf at the full moon and it’s the way of the pack, or your body parts are rotting off. Actually, if body parts are rotting off you probably shouldn’t be having any kind of rough sex in the first place. Gawd only knows what’s gonna fall off. Just a suggestion.

ANYWAY. Before you start jumping all over my shit and calling me Mrs. Brady (although she was a freak in her own right, GO FLO!) or saying, “Geez, Netta, you act like you don’t have a freak flag when we all know what a heinous untruth THAT is,” you’re right. I do have a freak flag. This is not about flying a freak flag. It’s not about “forced seduction” or erotic fantasies. I understand those, I have a few myself (that I shall keep to myself, pay no attention to the purple monkey, move along) and it’s not about titillation. It’s about glamorizing RAPE. There. I said it. Happy now?

Because when a woman says NO, and a man forces sex upon her anyway, that is called RAPE. There is nothing glamorous about it, there is nothing right about it, there is certainly nothing romantic about it. STOP. IT.

I mean it. Stop it. In fiction, why can’t the woman get on board and enjoy herself if that’s what she wants? Why can’t a man stop if the woman tells him NO? She can have her internal conflicts (oh lordy, don’t we all) but I’m afraid all these stories about the female saying NO with her mouth and YES with her eyes are desensitizing readers to the fact this situation is RAPE. And what about the mixed messages to the males out there? “Oh, you told me no, but you have bookshelves full of those romantical type books where the guy takes what he wants and they ride off into the sunset and have thousands of fat babies.”

Do you see where I’m going with this?

As a writer, you have to understand your words have power. You have never, ever in your life, held a weapon as powerful as the words you share with other people. Of course you’re an artist, of course you write for yourself, of course. But when you expose your work to other people, it’s a whole other ball game.

I’m not singling out romance writers, because it happens in every genre, but of course it’s more prevalent in romance. I’m not talking about realistic depictions of rape, or the horrendous and sad fallout after the fact. I’m not talking about a situation inimical to the plot of your story. I’m talking about this frivolous-type attitude toward a very serious issue. Think about what you are writing!

“Her mouth said “no” but her eyes said “yes”.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

IF HER MOUTH SAYS “NO” THEN THAT MEANS “NO”. (Besides the fact I have never met a talking eyeball.)

In this day and age (the heyday of rape in romance seems to have been the ’70s to the 90s although I feel like I’m seeing a resurgence) if you are a talented writer, certainly you can come up with something else to create tension and stop making it seem like this kind of situation is part of the mating ritual. Please.

Rape is all about power. It is not foreplay. It is not a way to bind a woman to you heart and soul. It is a crime. It is violent. It is wrong.

There are ways and ways and ways to explore the power dynamic between a man and a woman without using rape as the catalyst and if you can’t find them, you’re a shitty writer. That is my opinion. Therefore, if I read something of yours which trivializes this act, I will never read anything of yours again. I just won’t. I won’t promote it, I won’t edit it, I won’t read it.

Here is where I draw my line in the sand.

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Happy New Year

Wow, where did 2011 go? I would categorize this year for me as a very interesting year. I attended the very first Intergalactic Sporkfest, and it was AMAZING. My daughter got married, I released my first novel, and I embraced new experiences, both personal and professional. I fell flat on my face a couple of times, but I just got up and kept on plugging. (Except I don’t drink or piss the night away.)

As I reflect a bit on 2011, the one thing that really stands out for me is how many amazing people I’ve met this year. People who have literally changed my life. Even the people who…let’s say, disappointed me, taught me valuable lessons about myself and my work. I’m really looking forward to what 2012 has in store.

Well, THAT'S a little disconcerting.


Source: DuBoixMorguefile

I try to express my appreciation for everyone and everything throughout the year, but this seems to be a good time to say it again, in case you missed it. Every one of you reading this, I am grateful for all of your support over the past year. Each and every comment, “like”, or follow; reader, reviewer, client, friend, lurker; all of you. Thank you, thank you. You have helped make this a wonderful year.

I hope this coming year brings an ease to the economic stresses; an improved political structure; less fucktardary all the way around for all of us. In the meantime, have fun but be safe tonight if you’re out and about.

Nothing but love for you, people. Nothing but love!

Photo by Dani Simmonds

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Creepfest Blog Hop – Day 11 – Who Is Red Tash?

Visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and have fun!

Don’t forget to check at the bottom of this post for some crazy prizes you can win 🙂

Red Tash is the author of This Brilliant Darkness and quite an intriguing woman. From her website:

Red Tash knows that all you really care about is that she writes good stories. She does that. Red’s books make you think, make you wonder, make you laugh, and keep you turning pages. They’ve been known to keep hardened readers up at night, racing to the end of the book.

Visit her at her website for a free sample of her brilliance, dark or not.

Who would you say is the one person who has had the most impact on your life?

I assume you mean to imply positive impact. I honestly don’t want to answer that, because of the super-corniness factor, but I will give you a hint. His birthday is coming up very soon, and it’s kind of a big deal.

Negative impact is a sad story. Not very holly jolly, but I would be lying if it I said it didn’t affect every longform fiction piece I’ve worked on so far.

Who is the one literary character you would date and why? Where do you go and what do you do?

There is no one I’d wish to date again in a million years. I am very happily married, and I’m a newlywed, and at my age, there is nothing appealing about dating whatsoever. I will say, though, that it would be super cool to hang out with Charles Simic, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, JK Rowling–these are my writing idols. Elizabeth Bishop. Mark Twain. Poe. Stop me! I like people, the stranger the better.

As far as completely fictional characters go, I used to say I didn’t understand why people ran off with the Doctor, on Dr. Who. But now, I think if the Doctor would have asked me when I was much, much younger like he did Amy Pond, I’d probably have gone.

Tell us what your writing process is like. Pantser or plotter?

A little of both. I’m down to the end of Troll or Derby, and I’ve got each of the last few chapters outlined. Scenes keep stretching themselves out, and that’s irritating me, so I’m having to kinda force some of that pantsing to fit my plotting. It’s okay. It’ll work out.

Sit on Santa’s lap and tell him your five deepest desires for Christmas.

You really want to know this? You want me to break out into song doing My Grown Up Christmas List? Because I can.

There is truly nothing I desire for Christmas as a human errand. All those desires are on the shoulders of angels.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing writers today?

Deciphering the market. If you want to try and go indie, do you have a strong enough platform to support your sales? How many hours per day are you willing to promote, and will you be satisfied with the resulting sales? If you’re trying to be traditionally published, how long are you willing to let your story sit and bake in the sun, waiting for someone to buy it? Can you stand to watch indies with lesser stories become best-sellers, releasing book after book, while your masterpiece rakes in rejection after rejection?

I wrote to one of my former favorite agents last week. Got a nasty reply in response. Just, really, you know–uncalled for. Rude. I was considering querying for my upcoming novel. It’s so good, and I would really love to have that advance and that pre-release support. The prestige of being chosen, as lame as that sound to many, still exists in the eyes of most book-buyers. So, do I query or not, considering my favorite choice was a total bitch? How much of that do I feel like putting up with? It’s one thing to tell yourself that it doesn’t matter what people say, but the book I just published sat in a drawer for years because of what one unqualified reader decided about it. The power of “no” is huge, and I don’t know if I want to deal with that again.

How has your journalism background impacted your fiction writing?

Very, very much. I see the story unfold in my mind, and I report it expressly as it happens. My non-fiction is much more emotionally charged. All my writing benefits from snappier pacing, a distinct writerly voice, and well-researched background. Geez, let us not forget the virtues of writing in AP style. 😉

Tell us about your upcoming projects. Inquiring minds want to know.

Troll or Derby is a YA fantasy with a heavy dose of sex, drugs, rock & roll, and roller derby. It’s set in rural Indiana, in the realm of the evil troll overlord McJagger and his Fairy Godsmacker roller derby team, home court entertaiment at his illegal casino. Roller Deb, a teenager raised as a human, discovers she’s a fairy, and falls in league with McJagger’s rogue troll nephew, and the two of them create havoc everywhere from the flea market to the feed store. There’s a lot of magic, blood, fire, and a Thunderbird named Biggie Smalls. In other words, it’s a love story.

After that I might do the sequel to This Brilliant Darkness. There is also a line of folks asking for a non-fiction book I promised under my respectable journalism identity and all that. So, we’ll see. I might work on two books at once. Well, three. I already have a memoir half-written, as well.

When you are feeling at your lowest, what book or movie do you read/watch to make you feel better?

There are so many good ones, but my all time fall back is Harry Potter. I love the books and movies, but there is little to compare to the pure escapism of listening to Stephen Fry narrate the British audio versions. The American versions by Jim Dale are also nice, but Stephen Fry + J K Rowling is a home run.

I have also been known to watch Christmas movies year-round. Elf, A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Love, Actually. If I someday write a Christmas book, it’ll be because of those.

Prizes!

Here’s the deal: At the end of the Blog Hop, on December 24th, I will give away twelve e-copies of “Athena’s Promise”, one for every day of Creepfest. But that’s not all! I will also give away one autographed print copy. WAIT! One more thing — I’m so excited about Creepfest, I will also give away one Amazon gift card in the amount of $20!

Since this is a sweepstakes and not a contest, entering is easy-peasy, and you can enter as many times as you like. Here’s how:

Leave a comment on any (or all) blog posts here during Creepfest.

Sign up for my Once in a Blue Moon Newsletter. (No spam, I swear.)

Like my Facebook Fan page.

Like “Athena’s Promise” on her Amazon page.

Tweet about this blog or AP and use the hashtag #AthenasPromise so I can track properly.

Mention this blog or AP on YOUR blog.

That’s it. You’ll get one entry apiece for each action – up to 17 entries if you do each of these things! Damn! I will tally the results from all twelve days and choose the winners via Random.org. Make sure you leave a comment that lets me know what you did and include a working email address so I can make an accurate count and contact you if you win.

Spread the word! The more the merrier 🙂

Hopalong to the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and plenty of chances to win cool, free swag!

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Creepfest Blog Hop – Day 6 – This Is Thea Gregory

Visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and have fun!

Don’t forget to check at the bottom of this post for some crazy prizes you can win 🙂

Thea writes zombie stories and science fiction. She was raised in rural Quebec, where her imagination was often her only friend, and this upbringing also engendered a fanatical love of reading and books.

Thea moved to the city at the tender age of 17 to study science, eventually majoring in physics, because physics is awesome. Her first love has always been science (fiction), and she maintains an unquenchable thirst for discovery and the unknown.

Hobbies: Reading, writing, cooking, gardening, yoga, cycling, gaming, anything Star Trek or Dune related, daydreaming, exploring, and trying new things.

Thea has two cats (Pip and Bonk), and one boyfriend (with two cats of his own), a former video game designer who moonlights as a cover artist.

1. Your premise for zombie stories as bedtime stories is very intriguing. What was your inspiration?

My inspiration came out of childhood for the first story. My mom used to tell me stories about people who comatose, but still able to hear/feel the world around them, but unable to interact. One day, I was pacing at home, and the idea that being a zombie could be a similar experience to being in that special kind of coma just clicked. I had other subsequent ideas for zombie stories after that, which I linked together to create the rest of the series. The overarching theme of the Zombie Bedtime Stories is that it’s about normal people in a bad situation—there are no super-prepared shotgun-chainsaw-machete wielding adrenaline junkies—just ordinary, scared people who want to escape with their lives.

2. You recently participated in the NaNo madness in November. How did that go, and what would you do differently?

NaNoWriMo went relatively well for me. I set the goal of finishing my 50000 words on the 25th, and I managed to do just that. The tough part for me was the face that I wasn’t in good health for that month, and the medication took a lot out of me when I needed to be at my most productive. Some days, I would sit at my screen for twelve hours trying to eke out my meager 2000 words, and on better days I would finish in two or three hours.
As for things I’d do differently, I think I’d make sure I was healthy this time, and do more character planning and outlining of the main plot.

3. Sit on Santa’s lap and tell him your five most desired wishes for Christmas.

I’m a Christmas baby, and I think at this point all I want for Christmas is a nice dinner at a steakhouse. Even a pub would be nice. It’s a little scrooge-like, but my dream is to spend Christmas in a country with no Christmas.

A Kindle would be nice, too, if not a touch materialistic. The rest would be miscellaneous kitchen stuff: a pasta machine, a pressure canner and a food processor.

4. Why do you think the horror genre is so popular with people?

I think horror is popular because it appeals to that dark place inside a person that likes being traumatized. The best stories are the ones that stay with you and hide under the bed at night, and horror has a way of working itself inside your mind. Even the most mundane everyday object can become an instrument of terror, and the possibility for near endless stories and unique monsters means that it’s very hard to burn out on.

5. You’re going to dinner with five literary figures who are they and who do you want to sit next to?

I’d say: Frank Herbert, William Shakespeare, George Orwell, Mary Shelley and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I’d want to sit next to Frank Herbert and George Orwell.

6. What would you say are the biggest challenges in publishing today?

I’d say the biggest challenge is the learning curve. Regardless of how you choose to get your material out into the world, you still need to do a ton of research. Even after you’ve chosen your path, you still have a lot more research and learning to do. I don’t see much of a way to circumvent this, but at least there is a vast online community of helpful writers and their blogs to assist newcomers.

7. If you could live in any fictional world, which one would you choose and why?

Most fictional worlds don’t appear to be great places to be a woman, which makes the decision pretty easy. I’d say the Star Trek universe is probably the friendliest—it’s full of cool technology, humans have “evolved” and you can do whatever you want in a perfect utopia. It’s not going to happen, but it sure would be sweet. Second place would be the Dr. Who universe; it seems dangerous, but cool.

8. What is it about zombies that you find so fascinating?

With zombies, I like that they look like us, but they’re not human. There’s some kind of existential terror when trying to understand what we have that they lack—a mind, empathy, compassion, a pulse—while realizing that they are very, very hungry. Any person can become a zombie, no matter how kind-hearted or otherwise domesticated.

9. What do you think is the biggest misconception about independent artists?

I think it’s the assumption that we are the lowest common denominator. It’s a problem that compounds obscurity with bad experiences and/or prejudice. It’s not an attitude that can be changed overnight, but we exist and we’re not going anywhere.

10. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I have a few projects on the horizon.

• I intend to continue with the Zombie Bedtime Stories series, part three just came out, and I have about fifteen total short stories and novellas planned for that series. I’m going to begin writing part 4, Bedlam, next week.
• During NaNoWriMo, I wrote a science fiction novel entitled Sanity Vacuum. I’m in the process of editing it, and I am really happy with how the story turned out. There’s big potential to expand on it, which is something I’m looking to begin planning out in the new year, in parallel to the Zombie Bedtime Stories.
• Once the Zombie Bedtime Stories are finished (I estimate mid-late 2013), I have a few dark epic fantasy books I’d like to write, as well as a very twisted paranormal romance.

Catch up with Thea at her blog, Nerdy Gnome, and you can find part one of the Zombie Bedtime stories here!

Visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and lots of free stuff!

Prizes!

Here’s the deal: At the end of the Blog Hop, on December 24th, I will give away twelve e-copies of “Athena’s Promise”, one for every day of Creepfest. But that’s not all! I will also give away one autographed print copy. WAIT! One more thing — I’m so excited about Creepfest, I will also give away one Amazon gift card in the amount of $20!

Since this is a sweepstakes and not a contest, entering is easy-peasy, and you can enter as many times as you like. Here’s how:

Leave a comment on any (or all) blog posts here during Creepfest.

Sign up for my Once in a Blue Moon Newsletter. (No spam, I swear.)

Like my Facebook Fan page.

Like “Athena’s Promise” on her Amazon page.

Tweet about this blog or AP and use the hashtag #AthenasPromise so I can track properly.

Mention this blog or AP on YOUR blog.

That’s it. You’ll get one entry apiece for each action – up to 17 entries if you do each of these things! Damn! I will tally the results from all twelve days and choose the winners via Random.org. Make sure you leave a comment that lets me know what you did and include a working email address so I can make an accurate count and contact you if you win.

Spread the word! The more the merrier 🙂

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Creepfest Blog Hop – Day 5 – Stant Litore, King of Zombies

Visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and have fun!

Don’t forget to check at the bottom of this post for some crazy prizes you can win 🙂

Stant Litore writes about the restless dead, and the first volume in his series The Zombie Bible is now available at Amazon. It’s called Death Has Come Up into Our Windows and tells the story of a prophet imprisoned in a well in a dying city; each day, his gaolers toss one of the ravenous dead in after him. You should read it; the book will leave a mark on you. Stant lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters, and stays out of certain parts of the mountains during the dark of the moon.

1. What sparked your obsession / interest in writing about zombies?

Zombies look at your face and they see nothing. They don’t see a person. They don’t see a soul. They see food. I don’t think there’s anything more terrifying, or more resonant with the issues of injustice and lack of compassion in our world. To what extent do you see a human soul when you look into another’s face? I mean to what extent, really? Or do you see an object to maneuver around, or a being who can serve your purposes, whether for business or pleasure, who can (metaphorically) fill the hungers you have – the hunger for approval, or for affirmation, your hunger for a parent or your hunger for a child, your hunger for sex or your hunger for competition? To what extent are the acquaintances and coworkers in your life … food? That’s a question Father Polycarp asks in my second book,What Our Eyes Have Witnessed, and it is a question that an encounter with the ravenous dead demands of us. Faced with the ultimate incarnation of hunger, we have to deal with our own hunger. We have to rethink what other people actually are to us, and what it means to live and what it means to die, and what part justice or ethics has in that.

2. Sit on Santa’s lap and tell us your top five wishes for Christmas.

An excellent year of health for my wife and children. The opportunity to hunt for a house. Good sales and good readers. More awareness among my community of the poverty in the community, and of the growing issue of underground slavery and human trafficking right here in our own town. Four is all I can think of; I’m a cheap date.

3. As an indie artist, what would you say are your biggest challenges?

I suppose there are two. The first is honesty. It’s not challenging so much at this moment, but I could see it getting there. The problem is like this. When you are an indie without the surrounding apparatus of a publishing firm, it can be tempting to cut corners on your own work, to rush things, to make decisions that have a short-term payoff but will cause you trouble down the road. This is the case as long as you aren’t accountable to anyone else. In my case I’m with a small indie press, and I have one of the best editors I know. I sought him out. And I am committed to being honest with myself about what I need to work on in my art. My editor is both encouraging and ruthless.

The other challenge is credibility. Because of the ease of e-publishing on a budget, there are a lot of indie writers who are publishing work that a professional editor would tell them is a draft (don’t get me wrong, though; some of the best books I’ve read this year were both indie and polished). This has the effect of keeping many readers leery of indie publishing. I decided early that the marketing plan for my series would place a premium on setting the foundation for credibility first, before moving aggressively after sales.

4. Did you always want to be a writer? What set you on this path of storytelling?

Always. Before I could write, I drew pictures on paper. Telling stories is in my blood, and if I stop for a week, I become the most cranky, cantankerous person you can imagine. Some things you can’t hold in any more than a flower can stop from blooming at the touch of the sun.

5. What is your writing process like? Pantser or plotter and why?

It’s both. In a very basic sense, the outlines for my current stories are suggested by the biblical tales I’m retelling, but that’s too simple an answer. I usually start with a scene that is very dramatic to me – though in fact it might be a very quiet scene — say, a loving moment between a couple. But, for me, it’s a scene full of drama and human life. That’s usually where I discover my characters.

Then I start writing a character arc – a few scenes where my characters make significant choices. That becomes my outline; it grows organically. By then I’ve an idea of what’s happening with this plot and at least a little idea of who’s in the story and what their lives and their choices are about, and then I just start to tell the story. And about two thirds the way through it, I learn eight things about my characters I didn’t know before, and I learn what thematic questions this story is demanding of its readers, and then I just keep rewriting it until I have it right.

But the key is to learn early on what choices these characters have to make, and why those choices are important to them and to the world they live in. That’s an exciting process of discovery and a tremendous wrecker of outlines, if I were so foolish as to start with an outline. But once you know what five scenes are the defining choices for one of your main characters, you know what your outline looks like. Everything else that’s going to happen in your story is made necessary by those moments of choice.

6. Give us a list of five things you think would be the most useful in the Zombie Apocalypse.

A machete, a greenhouse in an inaccessible location, access to clean water, a good supply of toothpaste, and a good book, at least one. That last is to keep you sane.

7. What writers have inspired you?

So many. Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, and C J Cherryh come readily to mind.

8. What is the one thing about the publishing industry that irritates you the most?

Nothing that I can think of. I’m currently an independent not because of any longstanding issues with the industry – I have none – but because I like to be at the helm, and because I get a thrill out of the process of publishing and marketing. I get energy from it and a bit of an adrenaline high, the kind that comes with facing almost insurmountable odds and still producing something beautiful.

9. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

For the next year or two, I am pretty wrapped up in The Zombie Bible. Today the first volume, Death Has Come Up into Our Windows, has hit #8 in the Amazon bestseller list for horror, and the second, What Our Eyes Have Witnessed , has just been released for Kindle and Nook. But there are a lot more stories waiting to be told. You can get a brief preview here . You will see zombies in the Old Testament and the New, and you’ll see men, women, and children making difficult choices in difficult times, and fighting to live lives that are about more than just surviving.

Don’t forget to visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and tons of free swag!

Prizes!

Here’s the deal: At the end of the Blog Hop, on December 24th, I will give away twelve e-copies of “Athena’s Promise”, one for every day of Creepfest. But that’s not all! I will also give away one autographed print copy. WAIT! One more thing — I’m so excited about Creepfest, I will also give away one Amazon gift card in the amount of $20!

Since this is a sweepstakes and not a contest, entering is easy-peasy, and you can enter as many times as you like. Here’s how:

Leave a comment on any (or all) blog posts here during Creepfest.

Sign up for my Once in a Blue Moon Newsletter. (No spam, I swear.)

Like my Facebook Fan page.

Like “Athena’s Promise” on her Amazon page.

Tweet about this blog or AP and use the hashtag #AthenasPromise so I can track properly.

Mention this blog or AP on YOUR blog.

That’s it. You’ll get one entry apiece for each action – up to 17 entries if you do each of these things! Damn! I will tally the results from all twelve days and choose the winners via Random.org. Make sure you leave a comment that lets me know what you did and include a working email address so I can make an accurate count and contact you if you win.

Spread the word! The more the merrier 🙂

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Meet The Peerless Eden Baylee

In this business, you meet a lot of different kinds of people, some good and some…challenging. And then you meet the kind of writer who goes above and beyond; who is not only talented in her chosen genre but supports other writers with a genuine desire to help which is very rare.

I met Eden through a Facebook group, and then won a copy of her book, Fall Into Winter. I don’t normally read erotica, but I am really happy to say I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying Eden’s work. Hers is a cut above erotica I’d experienced in the past; solid characters, solid plots with some extremely hawt bits included for spice. And baby, she’s spicy!

Please welcome a dear friend and a lovely person all the way around — Eden Baylee.

How gorgeous is this woman? Inside and out 🙂

1. Your chosen genre is erotica, and hawt it is! Have you written anything in a different genre?

Thanks Annetta, that’s so sweet of you to say! As a matter of fact, I just completed a story for a holiday anthology that is completely non-erotic, and I’ll be writing outside of the erotica genre for other collaborative projects coming up.

Additionally, I post flash fiction on my blog, and many of my stories have erotic elements, but I wouldn’t necessarily classify them as erotica.

2. Why did you decide to write under a pen name, and how did you come up with it?

I chose to use a pen name because I intend to write in different genres, and it’s a good idea to differentiate identities. It was purely a business decision at the time. Whether I decide to use my real name in the future will depend on the project. Most readers know my writing isn’t just erotic, so I may even stick with Eden Baylee because I’ve built up a following under that name.

Coming up with the name was easy. I’ve always loved Eden and the letter “e,” (that’s quite obvious from my tagline, heh). I also wanted the name to look a certain way on my website, so it came about visually at first. Of course, it had to sound right and roll off the tongue, and I think I accomplished that.

3. What are your favorite genres to read and why?

I read everything—from autobiographies to thrillers to women’s literature. I can’t really say I have a favorite genre as much as a favorite author, and that’d be Charles Bukowski. I tend to be attracted to the crotchety old men, even in real life!

I’ve read almost everything he’s written, including all his poetry. The reason I love his writing is because it kicks me right in the gut. His book Ham on Rye is one I refer to often just to see the simplicity of his writing and how it elicits so much emotion from me. Of course, his poetry is always a great inspiration as well.

4. You decided to self-publish “Fall Into Winter”. What were your reasons?

I didn’t set out to self-publish at first, but it evolved into that as a result of rejections from publishers. That, coupled with my own impatience made me go the self-publish route, and I don’t regret it one bit.

I knew I could write and that I had good stories, so I took the critique of editors to structure my stories better, but I didn’t change the plot. As an example, my second story “Act Three” has a scene that conventional romance/erotica publishers would never buy—it borders on a taboo that is against their submission guidelines. I was told to change it before they’d consider it. That was fair, but in the end, I really didn’t want to change my story, so…

I think most writers have to contend with losing some control if they go the traditional route. By being self-published, I am totally in control, but there’s a lot more I have to do because of it.

I love this cover!

5. What has been the most difficult aspect to self-publishing, in your opinion?

Ha! Great segue—doing it all. I write, promote, design, and develop my own marketing plan. I pay for a professional editor because there’s no way I can edit my own work. I truly believe writers have to pay for this if they want their work to be taken as seriously as those published by traditional houses.

6. Please describe your writing and editing process. Inquiring minds want to know!

Ha! I’m a pantser, bar none. Don’t ask me to explain my process. It will make no sense whatsoever because I don’t know how I do it. It’s akin to me asking my mother how she cooks a particular dish. She can’t explain it to me because she’s never had to think about it. There’s no recipe, and she measures nothing.

I must say I hate talking about the “craft” of writing, and I don’t deconstruct what I do. It’s not to put down those writers who have a plan, who use an outline, etc., but for me, the best way to learn how to write—is to read—a lot.

As for my editing process – I keep doing it until I’m sick of reading my words, and then I give it to a professional editor and pray it doesn’t come back splattered in red ink.

7. You have been incredibly supportive to other writers. How do you find the time?

Firstly, it’s my pleasure to be supportive of other writers, so I make the time to do it. I’d go crazy if all I had to think about were my own stories and thoughts, and just “me, me, me.” Writing is a solitary profession, and the last thing I need is to be wrapped up in my own ego 24/7.

8. What do you think has been the most help in selling books? What would you recommend to other writers?

Write a good book and get it professionally edited. If you don’t start off with this as a foundation, then everything else you do afterward will fail. If a reader cannot get through your book, then you’ve lost that small window of opportunity to win over a fan. The bottom line is nobody wants to buy garbage, regardless if it’s $4.99, $1.99, or free.

Once the book is ready, then do the social media, promoting, networking as much as your time permits, but first and foremost—you need a good product.

9. What is the one myth or inaccuracy about erotica you would like to dispel?

It’s only sex. Some people consider erotica just to be sex scenes strung together by a few commas and periods. That would be as interesting as watching paint dry. Good erotica incorporates plot, characterization, and all the elements required to tell a good story, not unlike any other genre. Sex is an important backdrop, but by no means can it stand alone and still be considered an erotic tale.

10. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

My follow-up anthology called Spring into Summer is scheduled for early 2012. It will have the same formula as Fall into Winter: 4 novellas – two will take place in the spring and two in the summer. I’ll have all the seasons covered (heh), and then I’m moving to full-length novels. I enjoy horror/thrillers with strong erotic elements, and would love to write something à la John Fowles’ The Magus – another of my favorite authors.

I also have stories scheduled for independent publications and will apprise once I know their release dates.
Thanks so much for having me on your fabulous site, Annetta! ‘Twas a pleasure!

Author Bio:

Eden writes erotica incorporating all her favorite things: travel; culture; and sex. She enjoys weaving together stories with edgy themes, and sex is but one way to do it. Her first book, Fall into Winter, a collection of four erotic novellas, is currently available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites located on her website.

He second anthology entitled Spring into Summer is due out early 2012.

Connect with her via her Website, blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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The Incomparable and Eclectic Rebecca Treadway

Although I can’t remember the exact circumstances of our first meeting, I can say once you meet Rebecca you’ll never forget her. A fellow Aquarian, she and I hit it off from the beginning. She has that quirky sense of humor I hold so dear, coupled with an honesty that is both refreshing and bracing.

On top of that, the woman is mega-talented. Not only is she a writer with a twisted imagination I find fascinating, she is an amazing artist and the one behind the cover and the trailer for Athena’s Promise. Rebecca is fabulous to work with, and an amazing friend. Here’s a peek inside her unconventional and intriguing head. I’ll just leave the light on for you. Heh.

1. Your roots are in dark fantasy and sword and sorcery, but you work a lot in horror. What is it about horror that attracts you as a writer?

Both genres offers examinations into the human condition – touches deeper into the human psyche’s dark side. From religion or politics, to that inner monster we all possess. I don’t speak of slasher-style fiction or movies in that vein – for me, horror is more psychological than gore.

2. What do you think horror offers that other genres may not?

A catharsis, utilizing horrific imagery or words in real life instances where you’ve experience real horror, has been used in therapy. There’s also of course, the self-reflective approach. You can’t go around hurting people, so you create a character and whack them in the nastiest way possible.

3. Who is your favorite character you’ve created and why?

That’s a tough choice to make. I’ll go with what “type” of my character is my favorite, they tend to crop up in most of my stories, is the anti-hero. They tend to personify our own reality. Ordinary people who become something extraordinary (sometimes not) who do what needs to be done to “save the day”. It doesn’t mean they have to like it, or even volunteered for it.

This is my favorite character so far. And look at that cover!

4. What is your writing process like?

I write on regular note paper with a real pen. 🙂 Most of which are brainstorm sessions from either a notion in my mind, or a dream I’ve had. The longer I brainstorm, the more ideas generate. Sometimes it’s a scene between nameless characters, sometimes a short story. If it blooms into a novel, I create a basic structure for the plot and will fill in the gaps with these ‘scenes’. I still have “homeless characters” and situations with no story. Yet.

5. Who are your writing inspirations?

Michael Moorcock, George RR Martin, and of course – Tolkien. I will have to say however, my first inspiration – Robert E. Howard’s “Conan” – followed up with artists such as Larry Elmore, Linda Bergkvist, and Alan Lee.
Musically, very inspired by the now defunct duo Dead Can Dance, and a horde of Classical composers and music. A Night on Bald Mountain, Deis Irae from Mozart, classical music and operatic scores such as Carmina Burana almost always create mini-movies in my head.

6. What actually scares you the most?

I’ve been asked that a lot. Aside from the surface fear of spiders – the deepest fear is the inability to move, speak, see, or hear – and be completely conscious of this fact.

7. Name the scariest movie and book you’ve ever seen and read.

Vincent Price’s “Last Man on Earth” scared me as a child, and as an adult – Will Smith in “I am Legend.” Both storylines scared me, in that each character was utterly the last of their kind. And both scenes, having to kill their dog. That was just so sad..lol. I haven’t read a book yet that I could call the scariest. One scene in Raymond Feist’s “Faerie Tale” creeped me out. The parts about the “bad thing” were really spooky. But no, to date – I haven’t read a book that made me want to sleep with the lights on. I’d settle for the creep or spook factor!

8. What is your opinion regarding the indie or self-publishing movement?

I’ve been involved in the Indie/Self-Pub movement longer than most people realize. It started out for me in the early 90’s when I made a “zine” – quarterly, and accepted submissions for short stories, art, poetry. California’s had a stable Indie movement in this regard for longer. Back then, I wasn’t online – it was through U.S. Mail, including networking. I fell out of the loop in the late 90’s and about a year and a half ago – came back into the loop to see its growth through electronic media. I jumped back into the shallow end with publishing poetry I had lying around, then a short story. I’m a novelist at heart, however – and don’t have the patience to sit around waiting a year for a novel to go to print. It’s a great opportunity for writers and personally, I don’t see it any different from Indie bands who put out their own labels. If the powers that be in the “market” don’t want you – you create your market. Back then, and in the now – I think it’s great. It’s not so much the “control” and “royalties” but the creative force behind it. “It” being “your product”.

9. You’re both a graphic artist and a writer. Which appeals to you most and why?

Even though I’ve been into drawing since I was allowed to hold a sharpened pencil 😉 (age 3, my first piece of art was Flipper followed by Fingerpainting in pre-school) writing is the greater appeals. It’s easier, to tell the truth -to write down what my head visualizes, than attempt to draw it. haha!

10. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I just finished type-ups on all of my handwritten mess regarding a novella turned into a novel “I Chiang”. Now I need to assemble them into chapters and do the first round of edits before I toss it to you – the editor 😉 “I Chiang” is going to be the first in a series which I’m calling, for now at least – The Unfailed Series. Each novel is planned as a stand alone with recurring characters – leading up to events that I will keep under wraps. 🙂 That part is still being fleshed out. Book 2, titled “Project 4: Unfailed” was originally Book 1, Project 4 was going to be my debut and in the middle of a second round of self-editing, the character Chiang started to talk. A lot.

I also have several short stories, some short-shorts that I’m compiling into a anthology tentatively titled “The Little Book of Weird”. They’re all supernatural or psychological horror based in and around my childhood, or simply things that came off the top of my head from mundane circumstances. One such a story, called the S(t)ink – is about a horrible odor exuding from the bathroom sink in an upstairs apartment, taking a life of its own. Another, based on where I live – called The Tenant, is about a woman who hears the veiled threats coming from the air conditioner unit outside her bedroom window. You know how sometimes, you get those evil little thoughts in your head towards somebody who peeves you? In the case of this short story, it’s our old apartment manager whose going to get it. Through a story, of course. This is why I love horror 😀 Where else can you get away with being creepy if not downright unpleasant? After the Unfailed Series I’m transitioning to my original love – Dark “Epic” style Fantasy with elements of Sword & Sorcery. (More emphasis on the Sorcery, of course) My “personal epic” – the “Lord of the Rings” in my life, is the “Book of the Accursed”. It’s taken close to 10 years, off and on – to see the conclusion.

Author Bio: I’m a writer and artist, all else is self-explanatory.

Blog: RL Treadway

Rebecca’s Fiction: Chilly Eye Callie

On Amazon

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Onward

Wow, where did Wednesday come from?

It was a really busy week last week — I had a visit from my Muffin and my GirlChild, and it was wonderful. Busy, but fabulous. Since it coincided with the launch of Athena’s Promise and Halloween, the whole week kind of passed in a blur. Which I suppose was a blessing in disguise, because otherwise I probably would have been a babbling mess obsessing over The Launch. Instead, I did my business and chased after a very active 3 year-old, who really put me through my paces.

Look at this face! RUN RUN RUN, NONI!

Yep, he sure gave me a workout. 🙂

So, after a mega-busy week, what’s next?

Good question. I’m glad you asked.

In addition to a full editing schedule (my day job), I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring for NaNoWriMo in order to kick start the second book in the Aegian Trilogy, titled “Athena’s Chains”. (I’m Netta50 there, if you want a buddy.) It was a last minute decision, but I know if I didn’t incorporate some structure somewhere, I’d most likely procrastinate. I had set myself a tentative date for release of Spring 2012; now I just have to write the book. Heh.

Considering I wrote the bulk of Athena’s Promise in about eight weeks, I think I can handle this NaNo thing. That’s the plan.

Meet my lovers - Pen and Paper. Aren't they HAWT?

Yeah, the menage a trois is kinky, but it works for us. Heh.

I have another author/artist interview scheduled for Friday with the incomparable Rebecca Treadway, and I’m really looking forward to that.

Not only has Athena’s Promise been released, six pieces I’ve had the honor to edit have also been released by Etopia Press. Some really great stories there, I hope you’ll check them out if you’re in the market for some good reads.

***

And last, but not least, a short word about releasing a book as an independent-type:

It’s a lot of work, peeps. I’ve learned so much from this process, I can’t even tell you. It’s also totally nerve-wracking. No matter how much you believe in your work, there’s always that anxiety about whether or not the Public At Large is going to like it or want to throw rotten tomatoes at you.

Don't get me wrong, I love tomatoes. Just not rotten and used as projectiles.

Fortunately, Athena’s Promise has already received some wonderful reviews, and not only does that make me feel proud and grateful, I’m also very appreciative of the people who took the time out from their busy lives to not only read the book, but also leave encouraging words. The truth is, I’m an “indie”. I don’t have a big marketing budget, and like everyone else trying to carve out a space for themselves, I am dependent on word of mouth to get the word out.

If you like what you read, and this goes for any independent artist you love, click the “Like” buttons on Amazon, which helps with ranking; take the time to jot even just a few words about what you’ve read; tell your friends and family about the book; Tweet if you’re a Twitter, post a link on Facebook, purchase books for Christmas gifts — in other words, do everything you can to help promote your author. YOU, the reader, are all we have, you see. In return, we will keep writing and hopefully give you more of what you love. See how that works? Because WE LOVE YOU.

There’s no way we can do it without you.

***

And that’s the end of the self-promotion thing, which although necessary, is also rather uncomfortable. Writers generally have a hard time with this part of the business. It doesn’t help that social media has been inundated with a whole bunch of self-promotion, where it seems people have forgotten the basic premise of social media — which is, to wit, SOCIAL INTERACTION. I’ve blogged about before. It’s a fine line, and a difficult one to walk, no doubt about it. *sigh*

In the meantime, I’m going to practice what I preach and write the next book. Pallas is antsy and she has a problem. Several problems, actually. Heh.

By the way — thanks for all the support. I am constantly gobsmacked and very grateful for it. And I never, ever take it for granted. *MUAH*

Onward.

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Of Elves And Cons – Tristan J. Tarwater

Her name is beautiful and unusual, much like the writer. I met Tristan through a mutual friend, and as soon as I read her first email I knew we were going to work together great. Why? Because she’s imaginative, open-minded, and has a work ethic of mythic proportions. She’s also a lot of fun and I love her work. I’m not only her editor, I’m a big fan. Read the interview and you’ll see why! Then head on over to Back That Elf Up and check out “Thieves At Heart”.

Just looking at this smile makes me smile!

1. What has your path toward publication been like?

Our path towards publication has been a bit like stumbling through a marathon after thinking, ‘Hell, I think I’ll go for a little walk.’ When I initially started writing The Valley of Ten Crescents it was a lot of brainstorming and back story for Tavera and a bit of Derk for an RPG campaign. It started off as something a bit hyperbolic, and got toned down and fleshed out; it went from ‘Oh, I’m going to make a thief that likes to sleep around a bit and is part of a secret society!’ to over 200,000 words. I really fell in love with Tavi and the other characters and wrote it all and when it was said and done my Admin (husband) and I had to decide what to do with it. I wanted to share Tavi’s story with people, I just wasn’t sure how to go about doing it and through trial, error and a lot of learning about formatting we got it out there. Our unofficial motto of sorts is ‘Just ****ing try.’ It went from back-story to a serial on the web to an e-book and paperback with an actual ISBN.

2. With a Small Boss and a family to care for, how do you structure your writing time?

A vast majority of my creative writing takes place at night. I’m a night person through and through and I pretty much only turn in for the night because the part of my brain that can think about the future says ‘Hey, your child is going to wake up early tomorrow and you need to be able to make coffee without gravely injuring yourself.’ I spend the mornings answering emails and doing any advertising I have to do and basically brainstorm throughout the day, writing things down if I come up with conversations. I’m lucky enough to have this freaky memory so if the plot point is big enough, it generally sticks in my head and then pulsates in my brain, especially when I’m trying to get to sleep to avoid the coffee related injuries. Every once in a while I do have to go on crazy research binges where I spend a combined several hours looking up other lunar goddesses or rabbits or rock formations and how they occur or elemental magic. So basically it’s not very structured! I just try to use my free time to the best of my abilities while watching the clock. Sometimes that means dinner is at 6:30pm instead of 5:30pm. Sometimes it means saying ‘Hey, I need to get some writing done.” Sometimes it means not eating, sad but true. I love to eat and I love food but I have enough interruptions from everything else, I can’t let simple things like organs and biological needs get in the way of me hitting my word count.

3. Who would you say are your biggest literary influences?

I would have to say one of the earliest bits of fantasy that really struck me was ‘The Crystal Cave’ by Mary Stewart. I’m named after a version of Sir Tristan so an interest in the Arthurian saga came really early for me and Merlin is just one of those characters that I think everyone knows about. And to see him broken down as a little kid, to read about him as a real person who climbed trees and felt pain and was awkward around girls and wanted to belong really struck me. Those things happened adjacent to the stuff everyone knows him for, the prophecy of the tower, his aid to Uther Pendragon’s lust for Ygraine, the sword Excalibur. It wasn’t till recently that that book registered as ‘fantasy’ for me, I’ve always thought of it as a fictional biography, heh. Between the extraordinary bits, very human things take place and without them, the emotions and the political stuff and the familial angst, the extraordinary stuff has no foundation.

4. What made you decide to engage a professional editor?

Realizing that I definitely needed one, ha! I had ‘Thieves at Heart’ out in its original incarnation and it was only about 23,000 words long. We were just figuring out how to format and the Admin was learning GIMP and we just wanted to get it out there and do something. I think we rushed to put it out because at the time the Admin was deployed and we wanted something to work on together and to help fill up the space of our separation. There was also the sense of ‘If we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it.’ The series (then a single, giant book) was done so we jumped in. As a result it was not nearly as polished or professional as it should have been. I know part of this resulted because I was scared to look it over too many times. I didn’t want to give myself the chance to doubt myself (‘You wrote ‘their’ instead of ‘there’! You should never write again!). Someone was kind and honest enough to say hey, the story is good but this really needs to be edited (not their exact words) and gave us a name and email for our editor. That was another thing, when we were just starting out in February we didn’t know anyone who was an editor so having a name and a testimonial was kind of like a golden ticket. We had kicked around the idea of having someone else look at it and make corrections at the beginning but for me, the idea of asking a total stranger to potentially tear apart my work and judge me was pretty much terrifying. After it had been out for a spell we had a few people say that they enjoyed the story so I was more confident about my work and ready for a bit of literary flogging, I think. We worked with the tools we had at the time, someone gave us another tool and we thought we’d be stupid to not use this. But we had had enough positive feedback that the first spank wasn’t going to reduce me to tears. To use a really inappropriate analogy.

5. How has working with an editor affected your writing process?

There’s still an aspect of ‘other’ when it comes to the editor. Not the editor herself but by showing this body of text to someone else, I am admitting that this will in fact see the light of day. Therefore it needs to make sense not only to me because they don’t live in my brain, they don’t know what I mean or have the info I have. For me the inclination sometimes is to just get it out as fast as you can (see above issue with having ‘free time’) and sometimes that means gaps in trains of thought or events. In true husband-wife fashion, I do just tend to think the Admin knows exactly what I’m talking about and when he doesn’t I go, ‘WHAAAAAAAAA?’ In addition I can just explain something to him if he wants to know something since he is physically there. With my editor, that’s not the case. So the editor is kind of an intercessor of sorts. In addition I’m more aware of those words that I use too much and my own grammatical shortcomings. I used to use the word ‘had’ as if I was getting paid to use it. And bloody hell, do I love gerunds. Being in the headspace of writing for an audience versus just to write really helps.

6. What surprised you the most about working with a professional editor?

The most? That the first email I got back wasn’t a giant harpoon of ‘THIS SUCKS. DID YOU HAPPEN TO FAIL GRAMMAR IN MIDDLE SCHOOL? ALSO, ELVES AREN’T REAL.’ For the record, I did fail grammar in school. The fact that the initial email was rather quite pleasant and not just scathing commentary on my all too obvious lust for the pluperfect tense was a surprise. While I do have a professional relationship with my editor there is definitely a sense of camaraderie, that we’re working on making this as awesome as we can together. I guess I was expecting an editor to Balrog me (You Shall Not Pass!) when really, the editor is in your Fellowship. But don’t throw your manuscript into Mt. Doom! HA! That’s not the goal, obviously.

7. You recently attended Geek Girl Con. How was that experience and would you go again?

GeekGirlCon 2011 was AMAZING. And we’re already making plans to go next year. I wrote about it on my blog a few days ago but basically, I felt like I was home. Even though I was trying to sell books and network a bit and working, the Con was really well organized and everyone was really excited to be there. It was great talking to other writers and encouraging to hear people wish me luck in my endeavors. So many things there were awesome, from the people running the Con to the other exhibitors to the amazing cosplayers. It was a small Con, as far as Cons go (it had a bit under 2,000 people attending I want to say) but it made for great opportunities to connect with people. I got to talk to a lot of great people about the things they were working on and what they dug.

8. Why did you choose the path of self-publishing?

Probably a little bit because of impatience? HA! But also because our team of two people really does believe in things like DRM free e-books and Creative Commons and Open Source. I write on LibreOffice now and wrote all of the initial manuscript on OpenOffice. We both run Linux on our machines, the Admin made the ads and formatted the cover on GIMP. The e-books are DRM free and always will be. The book and the material is protected under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 which has provisions for things like remixing and sharing. I love stories and if what I wrote, if Tavi and Derk’s story inspired someone to make a youtube video or write something or make something? I would be totally blown away! Even if it was a silly rap about onions (HA!) I would be floored. I wrote this story because I wanted to but I put it out there to entertain and hopefully make people think about what it means to be yourself. If it spurs people on to be entertaining and do their own things and follow their passions, that’d be great. Hell, if someone reads it and thinks, ‘I write better than this’ then well, get on it! Self-publishing was right for us because we wanted to be able to say ‘Hey, have a bit of fun with this if you like. The fun doesn’t have to end when the book is over.’

9. What would you say is the biggest challenge of being an indie artist?

Advertising/Self-promoting, I want to say. Back That Elf Up is a two person team with a lot of neat people filling in really needed roles but I’m the PR person, the research assistant, the caterer, the CEO, the advertising department, etc. I’m fairly introverted and the fact that I have to be digitally social daily and email strangers is slightly daunting. Trying to think of the best 140 character pitch for ‘Thieves at Heart’ takes more time than you might think. Getting your ads out to the right people who will be interested is another challenge. Thank goodness for the digital age that we live in. It makes a lot of this a bit easier. Through things like Twitter, Kickstarter and G+ we’ve been able to reach people and get out story out to places we wouldn’t have imagined a few years ago.

10. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

Well, there’s still about 180,000+ words of The Valley of Ten Crescents to reveal. ‘Self-Made Scoundrel’ is due to come out this coming winter if all goes well and that’s a prequel to ‘Thieves at Heart.’ ‘Self-Made Scoundrel’ goes into Derk’s beginnings as a thief and how he gets to the point he does in the very beginning of ‘Thieves at Heart,’ where he kidnaps Tavi. A few characters from ‘Thieves at Heart’ show up like Old Gam and Hock as well as a few new faces and the first bit of magic as we think about it when it comes to fantasy. The third book is tentatively titled ‘Red Moon Rising’ and picks up with Tavera and what she gets herself into once she’s on her own. Tavera teams up with a few honest type folks and so it goes into the whole private self vs. the public face and what that means when a group of people are trying to pull something off. We’ve also got some ideas for ways for people to show their support via t-shirts. And well, the next two books are started, ha! A lot is upcoming, basically!

Coming soon! w00t!

Tristan J Tarwater is the author of The Valley of Ten Crescentsseries, as well as several other stories that hope to see the light of day. Born and raised in New York City she remembers reading a lot, visiting museums and the aquarium frequently and wanting to be a writer from a very early age. Her love of fantasy and sci-fi spills over into what she reads and watches in her free time as well as the collection of dice, books and small metal figurines that reside in her home. She currently lives in Central California with her Admin, Small Boss, a cat that knows it’s a multipass and Azrael.

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A Wake-Up Call

It’s so easy to become mired in the little details of day-to-day living, isn’t it? The pile of work, the dirty dishes, tons of laundry, and of course, the ubiquitous cat litter box. Maybe you’re having a bad day where nothing goes right — you break your coffee pot, the car starts making a funny noise, you want to go to lunch with your BFF but you really have too much work. Life…well, life can be a bitch.

And then, maybe something happens that helps you put it all into perspective. Like a message or a phone call.

I have a good friend I’ve known since she was sixteen. In the early days, our ex-husbands were best friends and we were actually pregnant at the same time. We lived next door to each other, and over the years became family to each other. We went through some up-and-down times, but we were always there for each other, especially through the worst of them. For over thirty years.

We lost touch with each other — you know how life goes — but re-connected at various points, the last through Facebook, of all places. She’s not a computer person, but through her sister we were able to catch up a bit and it was like the intervening years never happened. You know how it is — with some friends, they live in your heart no matter where you go or how much time passes.

Then a message came from her sister to tell me my friend has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

This pretty much shocked the hell out of me. My friend is so young — only 46. It just knocked me off my feet. I wanted to cry, scream, tear something apart with my bare hands. It is so unfair.

I was worried about how she was coping, and arranged to call her when she had some time to chat. It was a fabulous conversation, and reminded me of just how tough we New York women are. My friend is pragmatic, realistic, funnier than hell and tough as nails. No crying, no bullshit, and it is what it is.

I know she’ll be okay. She’ll fight for every last fucking minute she can get. She reminds me so much of my Momma, and I can’t think of a higher compliment. My friend will have it on her terms, or you can kiss her fucking ass. Word.

I won’t cry in front of her, but what I do in the privacy of my own home where she can’t see is my business, so suck it up, buttercup. I love you, Joan. I’ll be there every step of the way with you, heart to heart. Give ’em hell, baby.

Down but never out; bent but never broken.

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