Denise Grover Swank's Blog, page 9
November 21, 2012
I am THRILLED to share my big news!!
(Sorry this is teeny tiny! Click on it to enlarge the picture.)
I’ll start writing THE CURSE KEEPERS in December. This book has been rolling around in my head since last May after Trisha Leigh and I went on a research trip to Roanoke Island. I’ve already written the first chapter and it’s been hard to leave it alone so I can finish revising and editing THERE. Ellie, the main character, is going to to be so much fun to write. The series will be a have a dark tone like THE CHOSEN series, but will have some of the humor in my Rose Gardner Mysteries. I think it will be a perfect mix and I can’t wait to write it!
November 20, 2012
Sometimes I’m still surprised we live in an “”us versus them” world.
Five years ago, self-publishing carried the stigma of vanity publishing. All of that began to change in the last two years with the rise of the early successful self-published authors and the smaller publishing lists from the Big 6. The publishing world began to recognize that just because a book didn’t get an offer, it didn’t mean it was a poorly written manuscript. For whatever reason, the book wasn’t a good fit for them. So with this change in attitude, self-publishing became an acceptable path to publication.
Nevertheless, some people cling to their belief that self-publishing is taking the lazy way out.
Ha. If they only knew my crazy work schedule.
I work hard at what I do. I’m an author, and I don’t need a Big 6 name inside my book to prove that. My nice royalty statements from Amazon take care of that quite nicely, thank you very much. I shouldn’t have to justify my route to publication, yet I do, not with most agents and publishing houses (shoot, big publishers are scooping the successful SP authors up and offering them mega dollar publishing deals) but with booksellers.
They see me as a threat to their world.
Anyone who claims that publishing isn’t changing has their head in the sand. But the people who recognize that their world is changing, yet refuse to change with it are just as bad, if not worse. They may not like what’s happening, but doing nothing and expecting the world to stop and fit their paradigm is insanity.
Yet I’ve experienced this mindset with two different book sellers within the last month.
When I’ve politely inquired about setting up a book signing in their stores, I’ve been insulted and talked down to.
“”Slow down and do things the right way.” meaning, go with a traditional publisher.
“We like to support local authors, but we refuse to carry or sell or promote any book published by Createspace.”"
“When you publish with an acceptable publisher, come back and talk to us.”
When confronted with these attitudes, I merely wait them out (often listening to a mini-tirade regarding their ailing business) then thank them for their time and leave.
The irony is that they see me as their enemy and a threat to their livelihood, but my fifteen year old daughter, an avid and voracious reader who easily drops $30 a month or more in one the above mentioned stores, watched both of these incidents and has no desire to ever shop in either establishment again. How is that good business?
But more importantly, instead of facing reality and trying to find their way in the changing landscape, they’d rather do things “”business as usual” and complain that things aren’t like they used to be. Is this supposed to make me rethink my personal career path?
I’m not going to dispute the fact that booksellers are hurting financially, but attending my first NINC conference last month was a startling eye opener. Previously traditionally published authors who have been in the industry for five, ten, twenty years or longer, were excited about their futures. Many of them were making real money for the first time in their careers. How were they doing it?
They were self-publishing.
Some were putting up their backlists. Others put up new material, but many of them said they’d made more money self-publishing in a very short time period than they ever had traditionally.
I find that shocking.
Without authors, there’s no product to sell. Should one side forsake an income for the other?
The balance of power has shifted. Do I want booksellers to go out of business? No. But authors need to make money too. Is it crazy to think that booksellers and authors who choose to self-publish can not only coexist but help one another? I think we can, but it means that booksellers are going to have to recognize indie publishing as an acceptable alternative and figure out how to work with them. Booksellers will probably have to get creative, but it might make the difference to their survival.
November 14, 2012
Julia Phillips’ world is an alternate universe away.
Trapped in a land where government leaders want her dead, Julia is forced to run for her life with Evan and Reece, the two boys who brought her here. They’re on their own in a hostile landscape ruled by scavengers and thieves.
But Evan is battling a deadly infection, and Julia finds herself racing against time as she tries to find the medicine that will save his life. She and Reece find an unlikely ally—Jo, a girl they free after finding her captured by bandits.
As the four travel across the country, Julia has something else to worry about—her memories are slowly being replaced by the Julia of Evan and Reece’s world. Will they find a way to send Julia home before it’s too late? Or will Julia’s body and mine be trapped THERE?
The cover for THERE is done and Dani at Refracted Light has offered to host a COVER REVEAL on November 28! If you’re a blogger and want to participate, head over and sign up!
November 7, 2012
aka how I found out an agent offered me representation.
I am THRILLED to announce that I am now represented by
I met Jim when I attended the NINC conference in White Plains, New York a week and a half ago. He was on the infamous agent roundtable discussion. (You can read Jim’s take on it here.) The panel got quite heated, but Jim was the voice of reason through it all. I liked that he was EXCITED about the future of publishing and I could tell it wasn’t lip service to a room full of multi-published authors. He MEANT it. He kept his head and his temper and he made ME excited that I could find an agent who would get excited about who I am, what I’ve done, and wants to partner with me to build my career.
After the panel, I approached him and told him how impressed I was with how he handled himself. I asked him when he thought I would be attractive to an agent. (Some of the agents on the panel made it clear that my sales figures didn’t qualify me for their league.) He told me I was attractive now and invited me to email him after the conference.
Honestly, I thought he was being polite. I told my crit partner Trisha Leigh and she encouraged me to email him anyway.
And I almost didn’t.
I worried he would see my approach at the conference as manipulative, and it wasn’t. I had no expectation of him asking me to email him. And I also have to admit that I didn’t want to get rejected. I was over sending queries and getting rejections. Bad reviews are enough negativity these days. But Trisha encouraged me to do it anyway.
So I did. Late Sunday night, after I got back home (getting out right before Hurricane Sandy hit) and after I put my kids went to bed, I sent Jim an lengthy email telling him about my books, my sales, and what I have going on in the background. I wanted to send it before I dove back into writing THERE the next morning, which was due in seven days. But after I hit “send” I noticed the time stamp and groaned. It was something like 12:30 am, which reeks of desperation.
Two strikes against me: Apparent manipulator who is desperate.
But to my surprise, he emailed me the next day and said he wanted to read CHOSEN and TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES. I sent him the files, and then I forgot about it. I was in the middle of writing 40,000 words in nine days. I was busy. And I was expecting a rejection.
Last Thursday, I got a text from Trisha:
Did Jim McCarthy just call and offer you representation?
He had tweeted that he had just offered an author representation. I hadn’t gotten a phone call, but I realized I hadn’t sent him my phone number either. (It had been awhile since I queried.) I checked my email and there was a message from him.
Sending Trisha a text back was difficult. I had a really hard time getting my fingers to cooperate, and what I did text was full of few excited expletives and exclamation points. Trisha got away from her desk at work to call me and we literally read the email together.
Jim liked what he read and wanted to represent me.
Jim and I tried calling each other multiple times over the next few days, but the circuits were still down in New York so we conversed through emails until we could finally talk on the phone this week. He’s excited about my writing and wants to be part of my next project. I think he’s forward thinking and can help me build my career.
I’ve had some very exciting things going on the last month (which I can’t announce yet) and signing with Jim just made it even more fantastic. My career has done better than I ever anticipated when I published my first book sixteen months ago, but I think things just got brighter.
Today we welcome the lovely Cynthia L. Moyer to the blog. This is Cynthia’s very first blog interview. We are thrilled to be a part of it.
Cynthia L. Moyer spends her days raising kids and weaving tales in the southwest corner of Washington. She has red hair and blue eyes, her children are Chinese, and her husband is a forester who plants over a million trees each year. Paper or plastic? We’ll take paper, thanks.
A Midwestern girl who lived in the Philippines for a year as an exchange student when she was 16, she fell in love with the Pacific Northwest when she moved to Seattle for college. After college, she found herself living on an Indian Nation above a bay full of whales and otters. She’s also lived in a dollhouse with a pink sewing room, in a purple Victorian twenty minutes from the beach, on a flowery acre under a misty mountain, and now she and her family share their home in the trees with a pack of wild bunnies in the backyard.
In her life she has worked carving ducks out of wood with a burning tool, doing calligraphy, and as a dishwasher in a dinner theater. She was pulling espresso in Seattle before the rest of the country even knew what it was, except for possibly some Italians in New York. She’s been a nanny, cleaned houses, and was a short order cook at the oldest coffeehouse in Seattle during its day, The Last Exit on Brooklyn. She did the grocery store thing, the office supply store thing, the gift shop thing, the deli thing, and was a newspaper reporter for years, and although she never worked in a bookstore, she always wanted to.
She now decorates cakes and colors comic book art, designs all kinds of things, makes amazing bento lunches, misses having chickens in her backyard, and totally and completely loves Doctor Who. She believes in adoption, the power of love, the beauty of lavender fields, the sweetness of chocolate, and the zing of caffeine. She was excited to discover that writing was the perfect way to finally meld everything important to her into one activity.
What is your current project?
I am currently working on an adult mystery called DROWNING SUMMER. This book is the second in my Elliot Lake Mystery series, starring Elliot Lake, a reporter who lives in a small town called Alder Bay on the Oregon Coast. The first book is STOLEN SPRING, and it’s already out there in the world, which is something I’m still getting used to! The series is a mystery, but pulls cozy elements in as it is set in a goofy small town on the Oregon Coast and there is plenty of humor as well as crazy characters who you’ll meet along the way. There are paranormal elements, and those will come more into play toward the end of the series, and of course, there is a love story. Or two. And a cast of the cutest kids you will EVER want to meet!
What was your favorite part of this book?
I have a few favorite parts, actually. In DROWNING SUMMER, I introduce a character in the beginning I didn’t think I’d like at all, but now I just love him! He goes through quite a lot and I am just really enjoying writing his story. Because of his background, all of his experiences are brand new and we get to see the world through his beautiful, jade-green eyes.
Another thing I love about the whole series is that Elliot Lake is Asian-American. My children are Chinese and so one day I came up with the idea of having Elliot have an Asian background, because when I first began writing the series, he was just another sarcastic guy in his early forties. But when I gave him a heritage, a mysterious back story, and a cultural slant, he became just a million times more interesting. (“Miles” from LOST may or may not have had something to do with my decision. I’m not telling!) In STOLEN SPRING, we meet Elliot’s overbearing mother of Chinese descent and his Caucasian father, and hear about his spoiled-rotten younger sister, Princess Maggie Morning Star.
I also loved the process of weaving in details from STOLEN SPRING into the second novel, knowing that some of the questions raised in DROWNING SUMMER won’t get answered until book three, FALL OF THE COVE. The fourth book in the series, WINTER OF REVEAL will tie the series up in a neat little bow, with plenty of explosions.
How do you write? Are you someone who is very organized with outlines and schedules or do you have a specific system that works for you?
I write during the day and late at night. When the kids are in school, I can usually do a few thousand words during the day, but life often butts in and crashes those plans. But I also have several hours at night once everyone is in bed, so I rely on that time, too. What I am working on is discipline, so that when I make a writing plan, I will stick to it.
When I start a new project, my method is pretty straightforward. I already have the basic main plot worked out, because I have a stack of stories I’m already waiting to write. I know who my main characters are and what their names are. In fact, I create a “name bank” before I start, filling a page with names to use in the book. My favorite name website is (Just turn your volume off because they have one of those annoying automatic videos, but their wealth of names is worth it!) When I use a name in the novel, I highlight it in red to show that it’s been used. It’s a good way to avoid using a name (or a similar name) twice in the same novel or series. I also create a page where I jot down my different ideas included in the main story arc. And then when I start writing, I basically watch the movie playing in my head and just write it down. I balance as I go – trying not to dwell on one story arc too much, and then inserting humor or surprises to keep the story moving. I usually add too much backstory as I go, but then streamline that in later revisions. I’ve removed huge chunks of story, too. Never be afraid to use the delete key. Getting the story RIGHT is what’s important, not those thousand words you need to delete for the sake of the story.
What do you do to conquer writer’s block?
I never run out of ideas for stories, but when I get stuck while writing, instead of letting that take over, what I do is really simple. First of all, I write in scenes, and I use the Web Layout view of Word, and so the framework I use is—at the end of the written portion of the manuscript, I have a page break. Then I have “SCENE:” and another page break. I do a lot of them, as each book has around 70 scenes or so when it’s finished. I don’t do 70 page breaks initially, but what I do is have enough laid out so that in those future “scene” breaks, I can insert one-liners about future scenes I know are going to happen. I’ll make a note whose POV that scene is in and what the major action is. This way I can add scenes in the middle as I realize what needs to happen, but I can actually write it another day. It’s like a bookmark for that action in the story, and if I have a new thought about an upcoming scene, I can go to it and make some notes there.
For example, I know how DROWNING SUMMER will end, and that means at the end of the manuscript I have a handful of scenes detailing that section of the book. Another example: somewhere before the end is the mayoral election that’s happening in the town of Alder Bay and that is a part of the book where humor will be prevalent, as well as set up a side arc storyline for FALL OF THE COVE. So I have those scenes already designated (or written), and can fill in around them with the rest of the novel.
So when I get stuck, and I’m sitting there like a pathetic dweeb because none of my characters are telling me what’s happening next, I skip ahead and flesh out a different section where I DO know what’s happening. By doing that, I can then work backwards to match the sections up. So it’s less of an outline and more of a “fleshing-out” process. I know the beginning, things in the middle and the end, but I need to flesh out those sections in between. But “Flesher” doesn’t look as nice on my business cards, so I’ll stick with “Writer.”
Who has been your biggest supporter as a writer?
My online friends and those friends I have in real life. And also, my daughters. They were so excited to see my first books in print. My oldest wants to be a writer, too (as well as a massage therapist, LOL). But having people around me asking, “When’s the next book coming out?” is the best motivator of all.
What are some things besides writing that you enjoy?
I like playing games with my kiddos and husband, and walking around the lake we have here in town. It’s so gorgeous there. On rainy days, we like piling on the bed with all the cats and just talking. I don’t like cleaning, so that will never make this list, but before I started building my writing career, I enjoyed decorating cakes, coloring comic book art for friends, and then I’m sitting on a mountain of unfinished sewing projects, of course. What I really like to do is cruise office supply stores. Then I get inspired and come back home and organize my desk again. I also spend way too much time on Etsy looking at Doctor Who and Firefly jewelry.
Do you have a bucket list? What are some of the things on it?
Oh, my gosh… going to Scotland and England is at the top. Our family has never been to Europe at all, so we are hoping to make that a reality in the next year or so. Through Facebook I have friends from Paisley, Scotland, all the way to the southern coast of England. Our trip will just be amazing! And someday I’d also like to visit Thailand and New Zealand, as well as Peru. So basically my entire bucket list is pretty much focused on traveling. LOL Luckily my husband enjoys traveling, too, and our kids are from China, so they have passports and are ready to go!
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
I always see the same advice—find other writers, improve your craft, and read, read, read. And all of those are key, but my advice is mainly make sure that what you’re doing makes you happy. Do you like seeing characters come alive on the page? Do you enjoy thinking about ten different ways to write one sentence? Do you dream about having a thesaurus program cyber-surgically uploaded into your brain? Then you will make a great writer!
This or That
Dog or Cat
I am definitely a cat person, but if it was legal and I had unlimited money, I would be a panda person.
City or Country
This is one I’ve been grappling with recently. I’ve lived in the city, I’ve lived at the beach, I’ve lived in the country, and now I’m in sort of what might be described as suburbia… but what would make me the most happiest I believe is a house sitting in the middle of a huge garden, in a major city. With a porch swing. And bay windows. And a huge kitchen. And bird houses. And sunflowers. And more cats. With a café within walking distance.
Mountains or Beach
We have both here in the Pacific Northwest, so this is a tough one. I do know I’m not a fan of tropical beaches because I really, really dislike hot weather. And the sun. Well, the sun hates me. I can spend about five minutes under its rays, and then I’m running for cover. But my favorite mountains are the Olympics in Washington State, and my favorite beach would have to be the one in Oceanside, Oregon, where I used to take my kids when they were babies. Super pretty!
Introvert or Extrovert
Introvert all the way. I should start a club and have t-shirts printed. Except we’d never be able to have a meeting since no one would actually come. ROFL
Coffee or Tea
I love coffee, it doesn’t love me. I have to watch my intake or I turn into Crazy Blabbering Mama. So, I have been increasing my tea intake and have two favorites. First, I love Scottish (or Irish) breakfast tea with milk. It’s a black tea and almost tastes like a meal just by itself. My other favorite tea is an herbal tea from the Montana Tea & Spice Company called “Evening in Missoula.” It has eleventy-seven blossoms and herbs in it, and I swear it tastes like I’m drinking flowers. An entire garden of joy in my mouth. I’ve tried a lot of herbal teas in my life, but this is the best one. I found it about fifteen years ago in a tea shop in Olympia, Washington. But I never went back for more, and life went on. A few months ago I did a random search for “Missoula tea Montana” and totally found it again! I love the Internet!
Salty or Sweet
I don’t crave either, actually. I’m much more of a fan of Mexican, Thai, teriyaki, Indian, Ethiopian…. So would those be considered more savory? Or count as spicy? Maybe it’s both! I was very glad that as our kids got older, they enjoyed ethnic food as much as we already did, except now we get in horrible fights over which restaurant to go to, especially when we’re in Seattle or Portland. There are just too many places to choose from!
Where can you find Cynthia around the internet?
October 30, 2012
Happy Halloween and Also Happy Writer Wednesday. It seems fitting to be hosting a guest with the last name Blooding on this holiday. Today we welcome Frankie Blooding to the blog.
1. If you could start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a little nerdy. I have an alien solar system literally hanging from the ceiling of my apartment. I have a bird, Jack, and a pet rock, Rockie. I also have a super obsession with yarn. It’s threatening to take over. I’m very crafty and love to create things…all kinds of things!
2. What is your current project?
My current project is book 2 of the Hands of Tarot series, The Knight of Wands. Right now, we’re trying to find a peace between the families and the Hands.
3. Where do you get the ideas for writing? Inspiration?
OMW! I get inspiration through LIFE! Usually.
With this series, however, the inspiration came when I epic-ally failed with another series and I ended up killing all of my characters. Oh man! I cried for days! Then I said to myself, “Self, sweetie, you need to write something completely different.” So I went into my brain, digged deep and found a solar system that had been hatching for the past several years.
The story itself, originally, was about finding courage to stand up for ones self and for others. However, as I’ve watched the world change and flow, the people around me argue and scream about things they’re not willing to change, I knew the story had to be about more.
The world of this series is in huge turmoil. They’re on the brink of war. There have already been several battles that didn’t go well for the Families. The Hands have become the bullies of the world, but they’ve also seen what being a bully has wrought, and they’re willing to seek peace. With conditions.
There is just so much going on, so many characters, people with their own agendas and thoughts and power plays. This book has really taken off in a direction I didn’t see when I started writing The Hands of Tarot.
4. What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Write. Write CRAP! Write the good stuff, but write. You can edit the crap out later, but you can’t edit something that isn’t written.
And…if you’re going to play in this pool, you’d better bring your Big Girl Panties. Or Boy Panties. Whichever. There’s no room for whiners, but there are a lot of people who are not going to like what you write. It doesn’t matter if it really is the best thing since sliced bread. There are going to be people out there who will cut your book down and tear it apart. Get tough or get out.
5. When did you consider yourself an author?
When I published my first book. There are so many lessons you learn between the “I’m a writer” moment and the “I’m an author” moment and it’s all in the publishing. Whew! I’ve come a long way, but, boy, do I have a long way to go still!
6. Who are your favorite authors/books?
I have so many!!!! Eisley Jacobs, Kurt Chambers, Jay Eckert, Denise Grover Swank, Delilah Dawsom, Jim Butcher…The list goes on and on and on!!! OMW! I just love books and I just love authors! There are authors whose heads I’d truly love to vacation in! Amazing people! Just amazing!
7. What are some of your hobbies and favorite things?
Crocheting, sewing, I’m learning to quilt, playing the guitar (it’s going better…ish), learning new languages (I’ll let you know if I ever get good at this one, though), making tarot and demon dolls, walking, hiking…biking along flat spaces…There are a lot of things. LOL!
Now for a little this or that-
Fly or Drive – Fly…but I’d prefer to do so on a dragon. If there is no dragon available, I’d prefer to drive. I like watching the scenery unfold.
Nap or Exercise – Nap!!! It should be exercise, and it usually is since I don’t nap. A Frankie nap entails me lying on the couch with my eyes open for ten minutes. Yeah. I know. I’m wild.
Early Riser or Night owl – Conflicted! I used to be a night owl and that’s when the muse shows up a lot, but I’m forced to be an early riser, and surprisingly, the muse is doing better then. However, what this all means is that I’m an insomiac!
Chocolate or Vanilla – What day of the week is it? *blink, blink* Oh dear. Uh…Butter Pecan!
Chess, Solitaire, Monopoly or Life – LIFE! But I’d prefer not playing with myself. That’s boring. Also, I have Pirates of the Caribean Life…*nods* Oh yeah. Anyone want to come over to play?
Movie or Music – Movie…*grin*
Where can you find Frankie and her books?
Amazon – Kindle
Amazon – Paperback
B&N – Paperback
October 23, 2012
Today it’s my great pleasure to welcome author, the narrator of The Chosen series audiobooks, producer of my podcasts, and friend– John Mierau. I HIGHLY suggest you pick John’s brain in the comment section about using podcasts to promote yourself and your works. He’s quite the expert!
You can find MY podcasts (that John has produced and narrated some short stories):
Or on iTunes by searching Denise Grover Swank. The podcasts are FREE.
Author: John Mierau
Lastest work: Subversion: Enemy Lines
So John, tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m a husband, father and dog-walker living in the wilds of Ontario
Canada between Toronto and the US Border. I’m also a narrator and
audio producer for other creators. I love collaborating with other
creators, and host guest posts, interviews and roundtable discussions
Above all, I’m an author of science fiction and fantasy.
My latest book is SUBVERSION: Enemy Lines, Book 1 and my latest short
story collection is WALK THE FIRE. ‘Walk’ is a shared world anthology
in a universe of my own creation, featuring fiction by 8 top indie
authors and myself.
When did you create your first podcast?
I created my first podcast in 2009.
In a past life I was an IT guy working for the makers of the
BlackBerry. This involved a 2-hr plus commute in either direction,
before Audible.com was as big as it is now, and sheer desperation
(combined with my geeky proclivities) led me to discover podcasting.
That first podcast, also called ‘SERVING WORLDS’, was an anthology of
my own shortish fiction, ranging from flash fiction to near-novella
length. I followed this up with a serialization of an early draft of
the first few volumes of my ENEMY LINES book series, and have moved on
to produce four more novellas for free distribution by podcast.
What led you to do this?
I caught on to podcasting before it even made a name for itself, just
as the first podcast novels were being released by Scott Sigler, Tee
Morris and Mark Jeffrey. Now there are hundreds of novels, many of
which are available at podiobooks.com for free.
Remember, this was before ebooks and successful widespread
monetization of ebooks with the Kindle, and now Barnes and Noble and
Kobo. and more. It was unique and easily available content by many
authors’ target audience of readers.
A saying attributed to Canadian SF author Cory Doctorow is, ‘the enemy
of a new author is not piracy, it’s obscurity’. Podcasting is a unique
way to excite your audiences and provide a valuable offering that can
excite readers to buy your work.
The attrractions to me are the deadline, the audience that stays with
you from project to project, and transfers to supporting your ebook
and print offerings, and the rush of performance!
I think of podcasting as a hybrid of social media, author promotion
and valuable entertainment all wrapped up in one fun package.
How many books have you written? Are they all science fiction?
I’ve written six novels in the ENEMY LINES series. Books 2-4 will be
released once a month until January on Amazon and other platforms. I’m
releasing 2 other novels in bite-sized novella formats: ASUNDER (the
War Between Worlds series), TOOLS & MEANS (the Destroyers series).
I’ve written half a dozen other 30-50,000 word novellas. The novellas
are both science fiction and fantasy (including demons, vampires, ley
lines and dragons!) but all my novels to date are firmly in the SF
What is your current project?
WALK THE FIRE is a shared world SF anthology, featuring stories
written by myself and 8 other indie authors, in a universe of my
creation: a future where a tiny fraction of humanity -the Ferrymen-
can walk through very special fires, and guide the rest of us to
another city, the moon ,a space ship…or another galaxy.
In ‘Walk’, there are no gods and aliens, no faster than light travel,
just people. The stories in this collection start before the Europeans
came to North America, and extend into the far future. Each author
tackles a different aspect of what this future world must be like,
when resources and information are steps away, and mankind has
expanded into all the corners of our galaxy and beyond.
What inspires you when you are writing?
People. Always people! Any magic system, urban legend or science
fiction conceit are just tools to tell a story about people, once you
free the reader (or listener) from the blinders of their every day
life. It lets us look at the world without preconceived notions. It
has to entertain, but hopefully it can also shake up our world and our
thought processes a little bit, too.
When you aren’t writing or recording, what are some of your other hobbies?
I have twin 4 year old girls. They have a brother turning 6 just
before Hallowe’en. What is this ‘hobby’ you speak of? Well, okay,
maybe I squeeze in one (grin).
If writing is my passion, and recording and producing audio is a joy
and an alternate revenue stream -I’m privileged to record novels for
sale on Audible.com for several authors, Serving Worlds dot com is my
Serving Worlds is where I get to podcast or post text interviews and
guest posts from writers like Robert J. Sawyer, David Brin or Hugh
Howey. You can check out those other voices here:
Who are some of your favorite authors? Did you have a favorite book as a child?
I’m one of those weird folks who don’t have a favorite color, or book,
or author. I like Jenga: the way things stack up tell you more about a
person than any one of the blocks that makes them.
If I had to pick a formative experience, I’d have to say Tanya Huff
influenced me greatly, being a fellow Canadian author. She writes
complex relationships in her fantasy and SF, and plays with gender and
sexuality in the way people in real life do, instead of sticking with
Later, in college I discovered Robert B. Parker, whose gift for
dialogue and morally shaded characters has also stayed with me.
Okay, now let’s try This or That
Ah, well…. ‘this’ implies something in front of me, something I
have. I’m always going to reach for THAT, given half a chance (grin).
Computer or T.V.
Computer. We’ve cut the cord at our house: the only TV we watch is
bought and downloaded or from streaming services. Online offerings are
pretty strong, and cutting the cord only hard to do if you’re a big
sports nut these days, which I am not.
Sandals, Sneakers or barefoot
Remember, I’m Canadian. Winter is not the fun. But summertime, a good
pair of Birkenstock sandals makes me feel the peace, love and granola!
Christmas or Halloween
While I like the block of time the family can spend together at
Christmas, as an atheist, not to mention general weirdo-writer, I’ll
go with Halloween!
Call or Text
Text. Or, as Denise can attest to, tweets and DM’s! (Denise: This is true!)
Taco or Burrito
This is where I should make a clever joke about the semiotics of
wrapping your content together inside the warmth and protection of
soft, safe layer.
But instead I’ll tell your readers to go out and take a bite out of
life, a big chomp that cracks through that hard taco shell and leaves
a mess on their plate!
October 16, 2012
Well, I just released my first novel, Girl Under Glass (a dystopian/sci-fi romance), so now I’m bouncing between its sequel — The Glass Asylum – and First Comes Famine, a gothic urban fantasy. (Can you tell I like to bend genres?)
Do you have a “day job” as well as writing?
I do, indeed. I work for a web development shop and my official title is Troublemaker. (I help with CMS development, as well as design tests for our code devs.)
What are some of your hobbies?
Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Oh, that’s funny! I, uh, wait, you’re serious? Um, writing is what I do when I’m not working or taking care of my family. Unless you want to count research (for my writing) as a hobby.
As an author who/what has influenced you most?
I always give influencer props to my mother, Judith Ross Enderle, who is a well-published children’s author and always encouraged me to follow in her footsteps. (We’re both wondering why it took so damned long.) Then I’d say a wide range of genre and classics authors — from Octavia Butler and Anne McCaffrey to Shakespeare and the Brontës — form the backbone of my style. (This is evident in Girl Under Glass which has been described as Star Trek meets The Scarlet Letter.)
Who is your favorite character that you have written? Why? Do any of your characters resemble people in your life or you?
You’re asking me to choose favorites? Nope, not gonna. But I will tell you which of my characters has been the most challenging to write. Ehtishem from Girl Under Glass. Because I needed him to be emotionally controlled and alien without being unlikeable or too alien to believe Rachel (my MC) would care about him. Probably my most compelling character has been Bartholomew from First Comes Famine. Of all my characters he is the most “present” in my head. His appearance, voice, and actions were crystal clear from the very moment he appeared on the page and he grows more complex and fascinating every time we work together.
Where do you write? What time of day do you find that you are most creative?
I write either at my desk or in bed. (I have a Macbook, so writing is portable.) I’m most creative during the day, but rarely have the opportunity to work on my books until the evening. I think this actually makes me slower, but that’s how life is. I write when everyone else has gone to bed and my mommy/wife/employee duties are done. That being said, if there’s a quiet moment in my day, I can guarantee that a scene from one of my books will be playing in my head.
What did you want to do as a child?
I talked about being a writer, but that was because my mother was one. At one point I thought I’d be a lawyer, then realized I hated arguing. I think I was always meant to write; it just took a while to happen. (I only started writing three years ago.)
Who is your audience?
I think I write primarily for women, although I’ve had men tell me I’m wrong.
In the case of Girl Under Glass, I wanted to write a novel for women who don’t usually read science fiction. So I created a strong female MC and made her a mother who has to protect her young daughter. It’s incredibly satisfying when I hear from readers who start their reviews or comments with “I don’t usually read science fiction, but…”
In the case of First Comes Famine, motherhood, again, plays a big part in my female lead’s psyche. I think because I didn’t become a mother until my mid-thirties, it’s a dominant theme in my work and that seems to resonate with my female readers
Now a little of this/that
Chocolate or Vanilla
It used to be chocolate all the way, but lately it’s been a draw.
Play or Concert
Concert, if it’s classical. Most rock concerts aren’t worth the big bucks.
Summer or Winter
Fall. I grew up in Los Angeles where there aren’t obvious seasons. When we moved to the Pacific Northwest, I discovered the beauty of fall. This time of year just feels so full of change.
Football or Baseball
Neither. Although I am willing to watch Australian rules football or American college football. But, really, if I have spare time, I’ll spend it writing.
Glass Half Full or Glass Half Empty
I try to be a half-full kinda gal. Thoughts have wings and I’d rather mine soar to great and good things than look for bad juju.
Monica can be found lurking online in the following places:
Girl Under Glass is available as an ebook from Amazon: http://amzn.to/PUXFlH
Girl Under Glass is adult dystopian/science fiction with strong romantic elements and was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semi-finalist.
What do you do when you’re trapped between death and the devil? To protect her young daughter from a madman and a tyrant, Rachel Pryne must trust an enemy—one of the alien warriors who conquered Earth.
Monica Enderle Pierce holds an English literature degree from UCLA, which was gathering dust until 2009 when she began work on her first historical fantasy. She lives in Seattle with her husband and daughter and their two rock ‘em sock ‘em catbots. She knows how to juggle
October 9, 2012
REDEMPTION is live on Amazon but the search engine on the site isn’t picking it up. To buy a copy of REDEMPTION for Kindle go here.
THE CHOSEN series has come to an end.
It’s bittersweet. I love Emma, Will, and Jake and when I did a final full read through of REDEMPTION last week, I was melancholy, listening to the playlist for SACRIFICE like I’d just gone through a breakup.
But I’m ready to leave my beloved characters behind for awhile. I might pick up the series again at some point, but not in the foreseeable future. I think my characters and I need a little break.
Instead, I have some other projects in the works. I’m writing THERE, the conclusion to the On the Otherside series. I’ll also be writing THIRTY AND A HALF EXCUSES, the third book in the Rose Gardner Mysteries series. But I’m really excited about my new urban fantasy series, THE CURSE KEEPERS, which I’ll release in 2013.
If you read REDEMPTION, could you do me a favor and write a review? Reviews help readers decide whether to click buy or not. although by this point, I hope my readers are invested enough to buy REDEMPTION without a plethora of reviews. In any case, let me know what you think either in a review, a comment below, a Facebook status, or an email – firstname.lastname@example.org I really, really want to know what you think about this book.
I’ll leave you with one last thought, the last paragraph in the acknowledgments for REDEMPTION:
And finally, thank you to my readers, who liked this series enough to stay with me to the end. What a ride.
October 8, 2012
Smoke clung to her nostrils, now an ever-burning constant. Downtown Albuquerque smoldered in the valley below her, but Emma’s more immediate concern was above.
Marcus stood on the cliff, the element Water in human form. Emma knew the destruction he was capable of causing, but she’d been searching for him, hoping he would be her savior. Instead, he’d just declared himself to be her worst nightmare.
“What the hell?” Will growled, trying to shield her with his body, a difficult task given that they sat on a tree growing from the rock wall. “You told me to save her. Now you’re threatening her?”
Marcus leaned over the edge, opening his mouth as though to speak, but abruptly turned and ran out of view.
“We have to get out of here.” Will rose to a crouch while he craned his neck to see above.
“No kidding,” Emma muttered, searching for an escape as well. The tree trunk they straddled was ten feet down the side of a cliff. The car she had been in lay fifty feet below in the bottom of a ravine.
“Shit.” Will growled.
Emma could only imagine the lengths Will would go to protect her now. He had felt protective of her before, when her son Jake had branded him, binding them together with a mystical mark. But only moments ago they had joined, which bound their hearts and their powers for eternity. If Will felt half the need to protect her that she felt for him, he could be reckless, and that worried her.
He pointed to a tree several feet away but out of reach. “If we can make it to that branch, then I think we can climb up to the ledge.”
“And then what?”
“I guess we’ll find out. I’m going first.”
Grabbing hold of a rock that jutted out of the cliff, Will pulled himself along the wall while Emma looked above. Marcus might have left, but Emma remained doubtful. The Water elemental had shown up for a reason. While she and Will were half-elemental, the experiences she’d had with full elements had proved them to be self-centered and manipulative. She expected no less from Marcus. She’d hoped, while searching for him, to appeal to their mutual hatred for her father, Aiden.
Will’s foot slipped on a small ledge, and Emma’s breath caught. Small rocks tumbled to the ravine as he regained his footing.
“Will, be careful.” The words were wasted breath, yet it gave her comfort to say them.
“I didn’t just find out who I really am to plunge to my death, Princess. Besides, maybe I could whip up a water slide or something.” Of course Will would joke about the power he’d just discovered he possessed.
His right hand reached the branch, but he kept his foot on the ledge as he tested its weight, then pulled himself up to straddle it. “Okay. Your turn.”
Adjusting the backpack slung over her shoulders, she maneuvered into a crouch on the tree branch she sat on. She glanced up and locked eyes with Will. His mouth pinched in determination.
“Do you think he’s still up there?” she asked, reaching for a rock. Her hand slipped on the wet surface. Wet from Will’s recent demonstration of his new power.
Will’s silence unnerved her and she cast a glance at him for reassurance.
He grimaced. “I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out.”
The book and the laptop in her backpack threw off her balance, but the book was more important than she realized when she and Will had stolen it weeks ago. Written in a magical language that humans were unable to read, the book held the details of the looming confrontation between the elements. The final confrontation. Albuquerque had been partially destroyed by Emma, who was half Fire; Raphael, the element Earth; and Alex, the element Air, as they fought for control of the book. She wasn’t about to let it fall down into the ravine, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to go down with it.
When she was closer to Will, he gripped her wrist and pulled her to the branch with him. Their combined weight made the wood creak.
“Now up?” she asked, her stomach tumbling at the thought of what waited for them above.
Worry filled his eyes. “I’ll go first.”
She accepted his decision. For one thing, as an ex-Marine who’d been in the Special Forces, Will was a seasoned warrior. For another, although Will had only gotten his power moments before, he’d managed something that had taken Emma weeks to master. And last, Marcus was apparently Will’s biological father. Marcus had just found Will, and it was doubtful that he’d sought his son in order to harm him. Even her father Aiden, in all his perverse game-playing, had never tried to physically harm her.
“Be careful,” she said again, annoyed at her own redundancy. Yet she couldn’t let him go without saying something.
“Always.” His mouth lifted into his cocky smile, then he kissed her.
He started to lean back, but she put her hand behind his head and brought his face close to hers. “I love you, Will. If you get yourself hurt, I’ll kill you. Got it?”
He grinned again. “I’ve got quite the honeymoon planned later. I won’t be letting anything get in the way of that.”
Honeymoon. She guessed technically they were newlyweds. While they might not have gotten married in the eyes of the state or a church, she and Will had just pledged themselves to each other eternally. Their souls had been supernaturally bound with no possibility of breaking it, even through death.
“Does it include the honeymoon suite at the Ritz?”
“No, but it does include a hot shower.”
His smile fell away as he glanced to the edge of the cliff. “I don’t know what I’m going to find up there, so stay put until I tell you it’s safe.”
“I should be with you.”
He shook his head and determination hardened his eyes. “Marcus just threatened you, not me. It doesn’t make sense that he wants to harm you when he was the one who told me to save you. Let me go talk to him and see what that was about.”
“If it sounds like you’re in trouble, then I’m coming up.”
Pausing, he looked up, then back into her eyes. “Okay, but watch yourself in case I’m wrong.”
He turned to face the cliff wall, scaling the rock with little effort. When he reached the top he gave her one last look before he climbed over the edge.
Emma strained to hear any conversation, but was met with silence. It struck her that this had become a habit, Will going off to face their enemies while she hung back to wait. It made sense when he was facing armed men—she barely knew how to fire a rifle with accuracy—but the game had moved to another plane. Even though her power might not match the power of the others, it was better than nothing. She could defend herself and possibly Will if necessary. For all they knew, Raphael and Marcus had teamed up to ambush them.
Shifting the backpack, Emma took a deep breath. She wasn’t as confident about scaling a rock wall as Will had been, but if he could do it, so could she.
She stood on the branch and grabbed for the handhold Will had used. Her heart pounded. The cliff was wet and she doubted she could survive a fifty-foot fall. Still, she had to shove aside her trepidation and get to the top.
She heard a shout above, and urgency bolstered her courage. A couple of feet from the top, one of her hands slipped, and she fell several feet, releasing a shriek as she grabbed hold of a tree branch at her side. Her body dangled over the ravine.
Marcus’s face appeared at the edge, and he reached a hand toward her. “Grab hold.”
“Where’s Will?” Shifting her gaze to the side, she searched in vain for an escape route or even a foothold.
“Emma, I’m not going to hurt you. Take my hand and let me pull you up.”
“Why should I trust you? What have you done with Will?”
“Will ran after Raphael.” Marcus released a sigh. “I realize that I sounded confrontational, and I’ll explain later. But I assure you that it’s in my best interest to keep you alive. Let me help you up, and I’ll tell you and Will what I can.”
Her eyes narrowed. “I thought you said Will ran off after Raphael.” Her hands were wet from the rocks and she shifted her hold to hang onto the branch, her breath catching. A rock stuck out from the wall about a foot, enough for her to stand on if she didn’t plunge to her death getting there.
“Trust me, he did, but there’s no way he’ll go very far from you, especially now that you’re joined. He’ll be back and then I can explain a few things before I have to go. But all of this will be for nothing if you fall to your death.” His voice became more insistent.
Her fingers slipped and the tree branch shook.
Marcus’s hand reached down farther, his fingers extended toward her. “Emma, let me help you. Please.”
She hated to trust him, but the only way was up and there was no way around him. What if he grabbed her hand and let go?
“I swear to you on the book that you can trust me.”
She sucked in a breath and looked up into his face. “You know about the book?”
“Yes, and once you get up here, I’ll explain that too.” He eyes softened. “Emma, trust me. Will is worthless to me if you die.”
What if this was a trick to get the book? What if Marcus had done something to Will?
Will? Where are you?
I took off after Raphael.
Marcus is here.
She felt his worry, then his anger. I’m coming back.
The branch she held onto jerked, coming loose from the wall. To her irritation, she released an involuntary shriek.
Marcus plopped onto his stomach, stretching his hand closer. “Emma, please. I understand your concern, but I swear to you I won’t hurt you tonight. I only want to help you.”
Of course, he wouldn’t want her to fall. She had the book strapped to her back. But she had no reassurance that he wouldn’t betray her at the top of the cliff, other than his word.
The branch creaked and dropped several inches.
He said he wouldn’t hurt her tonight, which for some reason made his promise more trustworthy. Not that it mattered. She only had two choices: fall to her certain death or take a chance on Marcus. She thrust her hand toward him, worried her other hand wouldn’t support her weight. Her arms were already quivering from the strain.
Marcus’s face filled with relief as he grabbed her wrist and pulled her up with surprising strength—but then, he was an elemental being.
Her stomach scraped against rocks as he tugged her over the ledge. She lay on her stomach, her feet still dangling over the cliff when he released his hold. Panting, she climbed to her feet as Will ran out of a clump of trees toward them. “Get away from her, Marcus.”
Marcus backed away, hands raised. “I pulled her up before she fell. I don’t want to hurt her.”
Will glanced at Emma for confirmation.
She nodded, keeping her gaze on Marcus. “It’s true. I slipped and the branch I held onto was breaking. Marcus promised to not hurt me. Tonight.”
Stepping toward Emma, Will turned his attention to his biological father. “So any other night she’s fair game?”
Marcus shook his head with a scowl. “No, but the time is coming when we won’t be able to trust anyone. The game is ending and it will be everyone for themselves. Everyone.”
Will grabbed Emma’s hand and pulled her away from the edge. “If you’re suggesting that Emma and I will fight each other, you have another thing coming.”
“You may not have a choice.” His grin returned and Emma almost gasped in surprise. She’d seen that grin hundreds of times. On Will’s face.
“Bullshit. Why did you threaten Emma after you helped me save her?” Will tried to push Emma behind him, but she shoved his hand away. She was done hiding behind Will.
“I didn’t threaten Emma, but I was the one who set this all in motion. I was the one who cursed you both.”
Emma lifted her chin. “What are you talking about?”
Marcus sighed. “Years ago, Aiden and I made an agreement. It changed the course of things.”
Marcus’s gaze shifted to Emma for a brief moment, then returned to Will.
Dread knotted Emma’s back. “What kind of agreement?”
Marcus grinned again, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Insisting that your father create a new daughter was the second-best idea I’ve had in a millennium.”
Will took a step forward. “What do you mean?”
“I’m the reason there’s a new Emmanuella.”
“What could persuade Aiden to do something you wanted? Aiden’s only interested in himself.”
Sucking in her breath, Emma shot a glance to Will.
Will’s brow furrowed. “What about me?”
“While Aiden created a daughter and reincarnated her time and time again, I never sired a child. You were my first.”
If Will was surprised by this, he hid it, shifting his weight to the side and raising an eyebrow. “So why now?”
“To end this madness Aiden calls a game. To restore the world to balance.”
“What do I have to do with that?”
“Emmanuella’s been reincarnated so many times, her power has faded. As has Raphael’s and Alex’s. By creating you, I’ve tipped the game to my advantage.”
Will shook his head in disgust. “I didn’t think you were part of the game.”
“It doesn’t matter whether I agreed to the game or not. I’m an element. I’m part of it. I’m tired of waiting and I want this done.”
Emma crossed her arms. “So why a new Emmanuella?”
Marcus watched her for a moment, then smiled. “To have a fresh start. Emmanuella had a tie to Raphael, an unfair alliance. Raphael had exerted so much influence over her through the centuries, she would never pick anyone else. I merely wanted to even the playing field.”
“So why hide my true identity and the fact I have control over water?” Will asked. “Why not tell me from the beginning?”
“It was Aiden’s only insistence. I refused at first. How could you enter the game if you didn’t know who you were when Emmanuella gained her power? So that’s how you became The Chosen One. Aiden said he’d make you her protector, which I’m sure he saw as a safe bet. In over two millenniums, Emmanuella never had any feelings for her protector other than fondness. There was no reason to expect otherwise. On either of our parts.”
“So if I was Emma’s protector, when was I supposed to find out who I was?”
“When Emma came into her powers, she would no longer need you. She would release you. Then you would know who you were.”
“So Raphael was right.” Emma murmured. “Even if he didn’t realize the significance of his advice.”
“If Raphael told you that you needed to release Will, yes. You obviously did just that before your encounter with Raphael on the cliff.”
Emma didn’t answer.
“Your predecessor had an advantage that you don’t. She had memories of how to gain her power, who she was. Who Alex and Raphael are. Each time she was reborn, she knew all of this —or at least she began to remember before her untimely demises. Aiden stole those memories from you, but then again, perhaps they weren’t yours to remember. They belonged to the original Emmanuella. In any case, in this round you had no idea how to gain your power, nor that you needed to release Will.”
“Nor the joining words.” Which is why Raphael expected her to know them and why she couldn’t remember them.
“Exactly. If you didn’t know that you had to release Will, he’d never know who he was. And if you didn’t know the words, you couldn’t join with anyone. I suspect it was Aiden’s fallback plan.”
Will shook his head. “Okay, that still doesn’t explain how I fit into all of this. Why enter me into the game? How does that benefit you?”
“Because Emmanuella no longer has—”
“Emma,” Will said, taking a step forward. “She prefers Emma.”
Marcus nodded with a slight grin. “Emma no longer had a tie to Raphael, which meant she was free to choose anyone. If you were her protector, I had hoped her fondness for you would overshadow any advances from the other two and she would feel a loyalty to you. That she’d pick you. Then Aiden realized that she loved you, and I’m sure he suspected that would give me an unfair advantage when the whole power balance sorted out. So he changed the rules. Again. He stole your memories of Emma, thinking that would stop you two from joining. None of us expected the two of you to be so committed to one another, especially in the short time you were together. Past protectors had months with her, but Aiden insisted the timetable be expedited this time. Probably in hope of cutting any ties on Emma’s part to you.”
“If you made the new rules, how could Aiden change them?”
“Aiden’s a tricky bastard and he’s always looking for a way out. A loophole. I thought I had the bases covered. Obviously, I didn’t. Let this be a lesson to you: if you enter an agreement with Aiden, think it through very carefully.”
Emma didn’t need that spelled out for her. And there would be no agreements unless they all agreed Aiden needed to die.
“So he changed the rules.” Emma swiped stray hairs out of her face. “Now what? I take it that you have a backup plan.”
He lifted an eyebrow. “I always have a backup plan.”
They watched him for several seconds before Emma groaned. “Care to elaborate?”
“No. Not right now, you’ll just have to trust I have things under control.”
“The only person I trust is Will.”
Marcus laughed. “Then you’re smart. But the day is coming when you may not be able to trust Will either.”
She cast a quick glance in Will’s direction.
Will’s eyes burned. “Why did you tell Emma that you were her worst nightmare if you say you don’t plan to hurt her?”
“Because in the past, Emmanuella had to choose between Raphael and Alex, and with each new generation it became no longer a choice, but a given. But because of the changes I suggested and I confess, manipulated, she faces a much more painful choice this time.” He looked into Emma’s face. “The time is coming when you will have to choose, but your choices will be Will or Jake.”
The blood in her head pooled in her feet, leaving her lightheaded. “What do you mean, choose Will or Jake?”
Marcus studied her for a moment. “I think you know exactly what I mean. I’m sorry.”
A chill shot down her spine. She’d have to choose one of them. But hadn’t her father insisted the same thing? Anger burned in her chest and she shook her head. “You’re not sorry. You’re an element and all an element thinks about is himself. So don’t give me your I’m sorry shit.”
With a sigh, Marcus lifted his hands at his sides. “Fair enough. And while I’d love to give you more answers, I have an errand I need to run. Go stay somewhere outside of Albuquerque. I’ll come find you and we’ll discuss our next move.”
Will didn’t answer as Marcus backed away and then hurried to his car. He opened the door, leaned down and grabbed something, tossing it toward the car parked in front of his. A moment later he drove down the mountain.
Emma turned to Will. “You’re not seriously planning on going back to Albuquerque and waiting for him, are you?”
“Hell, no. We’re going north. To Santa Fe.”