women in genre

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#TBT Influences: Labyrinth

Published April 7, 2016 by admin

Olde School came out of about a thousand different places. I grew up with folklore and a love of fairy tales that led to a desire to delve in and explore all the nooks and crannies of the stories I adored. There’s a specific type of humor there, though, a specific type of tangent and re-directing of plot that I entirely blame on the 1980s. What can I say, it was a magical, weird time that probably led to more than one parallel universe. Fantasy, especially fantasy movies, back then had a slightly different feel than what we’re used to now, and I think that mentality fit with fairy tales nicely. There was always a slightly dark tint to things, even cartoons. There could be legit danger for characters, and that danger usually involved mind-bending punishments or soul-destroying hazards. You know, kid stuff. There’s one movie, though, that has followed me forever and probably will never let me go.

I actually wasn’t allowed to see Labyrinth when it first came out – I can’t remember if it was an age thing or because the family was dealing with a lot on the collective plate at the time. For whatever reason, I rented it when I was about ten, confident I would love it. I was one of the few of my friends who wasn’t fazed at all by The Dark Crystal, I survived The Storyteller when it aired, nothing Henson could dream up could get to me.

Yeah, about that…

I don’t know if it was because the danger was directed at a teen girl, I don’t know if it was because there was just so much to that movie, but it got to me. The objective part of me got that it was good, but it was probably more than my senses could process at the time,probably because it was also creeping into the 90’s and there was more of a sense of narrative, a sense of concrete good (naive but plucky hero) vs (obvious) evil instead of potentially unlikable protagonist having a million challenges flung at her all the time.

I didn’t go back to it until I was seventeen, and promptly fell in love with the movie. Truth told, hormones probably helped. I was already becoming a Bowie fan, and I’m sorry, I grew up in the eighties. What can I say? That does it for me.

I could write a million posts on why Labyrinth is an amazing movie. In a storytelling sense, it’s probably one of the few true modern fairy tales in that it doesn’t borrow other characters but uses tried and true archetypes and narratives. I could tell you a sequel will never work because that movie was beautifully closed and open-ended – there are countless ways of interpreting it depending on who you are and what you want to take from it. I could wax poetic about practical effects, I could talk to you about all the amazing characters that were developed, I could give you a dissertation on how it mirrors female coming of age and how it fits into eighties pop culture and thoughts of the times. I could school you on how well this thing was thought out, despite all the hiccups along the way. Case in point: there’s a theory that the (general) labyrinth design was based on intricate funereal/spiritual dance steps eons ago…magic dance, anyone?

For me, specifically, though, it’s like it gave me permission for my whole life. That second time I saw it, I was getting ready to graduate and wondering if I could make sense of all the things I wanted to be in my head vs all the very serious real world info I was getting in my daily life. Sure, I’m sure most teen girls want to act and sing, but also make puppets? Develop their own stories for those kind of projects? What kind of dream world was I living in? I became obsessed, and stayed that way for years.

The fact that the movie was made, though, was proof that anything was possible. It’s a metaphor for sticking to your guns to get through life. Think of it – if one path doesn’t work, you try another. And another. I’ve definitely felt Sarah’s frustration as she goes down the first passage and nothing seems to be happening and there are just walls and walls and…yep. But you stop, catch your breath, and look for another way. You see who will help you along the way, even if you have to bribe them a bit. You make friends. You make foes (are they foes or just doing what they do?). You have those people who you really can’t decide what they are. There are those who will want to control you, or maybe they see you as an equal, or a challenge, or a love interest, or not, or…maybe it depends on your own perception, as well. Things are not always what they seem, after all. You learn from everything.

I may not be doing what I thought I would be at seventeen, but I’ve at least delved in. I’m writing my own stories, I’ve been blessed to work on several awesome properties, I’ve done puppetry, I’ve built amazing characters and clothes. I’ve had music in my life, had performance in my life, and although I still fight the odds and the walls and oubliettes, I’m still going. I’ve made some extraordinary friends with stories of their own from that movie, and I know that should I need them, they’re there if I call.  Time isn’t up yet.

Also, can we talk about the line ‘You have no power over me’? Even though I have more freedom than a lot of those who came before me, being a woman comes with its own special set of frustrations. Growing up with that as a mantra, though? Being able to mutter that to myself when I’m irritated or frustrated at the way things are going? That no matter what, I can take back part of myself? That’s like having a giant sword made just for me.

Years upon years later I was reading articles in a Realm of Fantasy issue dedicated to the topic of labyrinths in general. It mentioned that no matter the story, one thing holds true of any hero who enters a labyrinth: they’re never the same person walking out as they are in. They can’t help but be changed.

A couple of months ago I saw the movie on the screen for the first time. I was blown away by how different some of the coloring looks vs the television, by how much detail is in every scene of that movie. Coming off of Bowie’s death, it was emotional. A packed house, I found myself watching everyone else as much as I was watching the screen. It was suddenly okay to embrace the love we all had for this thing. People were singing along, snickering at certain shots, and it was awesome that all ages were there. The kid next to me looked like their mind was being blown, and there were little kids asking questions about what was going on onscreen.

It was a special kind of magic that I don’t think any of us were prepared for, like we all had scurried out of our individual nooks and crannies in our own life mazes to gather at a castle for a few hours and find out what was going in other parts of the world. Sherry Amott Tippey, one of the conceptualists/builders/performers was there on hand to answer questions afterwards, but what blew me away is that she wanted to hear our stories. How did we get into the movie? What did it mean to us? And listening to everyone…it was incredible how many of us had similar yet different journeys.Talking to her afterward really hit home that it’s not a straight line, it really is circular, or twisty like a labyrinth if you prefer. If I hadn’t had that influence in my life I wouldn’t be doing any of what I am now. I don’t know how many people my work reaches, but I’d like to think it’s slowly making its way out there, and at least making people smile or inspiring them to do their own thing.

One of the biggest thrills for me when Olde School first came out was a review – not because of the number of stars it was, but because it mentioned that my characters were on par with things like Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. I’m not one for the comparison game and it wasn’t an intentional thing, but not gonna lie, that made me smile for days. It has influenced my storytelling, to some extent, but it’s also given me so many things to keep in mind, whether I’m trying to complete a task or find my way to a castle, facing down a goblin king or other people. As the world falls down, I know that there’s something bigger than me there for me, and that influence will never go away.

 

WeWriWa: Mooner

Published June 29, 2014 by admin

I’m once more trying to get back in the swing of things after a fairly busy past few months. Today’s eight is from a re-release of my historical vampire story, Mooner. This bit is when Bill, the naive upstart in the lumber camp, notices Tom, a reclusive, down-and-out  fur-trader, in Red’s Saloon. While Big John and the others make fun of him, something about the older man seems off and not quite right. He’s not going anywhere, though, until he gets what he wants…

***

“What…what you want me to do for a drink?” At first it didn’t register that Tom had actually spoken. His voice was high and reedy and cracked the way the thinnest ice along the river did.

“Pardon?”

“What you want me to do for a drink?” His lips cracked when his mouth moved. A thin trail of spittle dripped off his lower lip and was quickly caught up by the tip of the derelict’s seeking tongue. The distant gleam in Tom’s eyes burned as his mouth formed the last word.

For More Snippets of Stories, Check out Weekend Writing Warriors!

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Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It watches and badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have their own plans for his future?

 

Available again! Mooner

Published June 28, 2014 by admin

It’s back it’s back it’s back! I’m so very excited to have Mooner back in print through Mocha Memoirs Press. Not only did it give me a chance to tighten up parts of the story, but I’ve also been able to include a glossary of Lumberjack Vocabulary, as well! For those who aren’t familiar with the title, this is my take on historical vampire fiction via 1800’s lumber camp life. It combines my love of history, my love of vampires, my love of creepy, slow-burn stories into something that I’m really quite proud of. So let’s take a look, because it’s my blog and I can totally do that.

 

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Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It watches and badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have their own plans for his future?

And now, let’s have an excerpt since it’s been so very long…

Nancy shuffled back towards the bar, casting a wary look over her shoulder. “Red, he’s back,” she breathed as she scooped up another tray and fled to the other side of the room. Upon closer inspection the youth realized that it wasn’t a pile of something. It was a figure draped in a patchwork of skins then cloaked with half-torn, moldy furs. Most who passed his way quickly avoided him, though whether it was because of his odd looks or his smell it was hard to say.

Red hissed through his teeth and ran a sweating hand through his thick, flame-colored mane. “Tom Haskins,” he mumbled under his breath for the benefit of those crowded around him.

“I thought he lived on the edge of town,” Jack replied, equally low, and glared down the length of the bar.

“He tried to start a dry good store and it didn’t go over too well. He had it in his mind that he could make up his loss with fur, though he ain’t no trapper. Moved out to the woods weeks ago and comes into town every so often to hang round and get his fix. Just when I think he’s finally died out there he comes round again.”

Not once did the saloon proprietor take his eyes off the body hunched over a table. Every breath made his ragtag cloak shudder and every moldy hair on him quivered.

“You want me to kick him out?” Jack offered, already shifting his weight.

“Nah, let him warm up at least. He doesn’t do much; just pesters everyone for drink now that he can’t afford it for himself. Give him time and he’ll be up to his tricks.”

Bill couldn’t stop staring. The pile of sloughed animals slumped as the man’s head rose. His skin was a cold gray and stretched taught across his face and hands. His hair had all but fallen out, but what was still left of it hung in clumps of long, ragtag strands that were paler than dried straw. His thin-lipped mouth was open and he sucked in air in painful, erratic pants.

“Look at ‘im! Actin’ like a piglet pulled away from its ma’s teat!” Big John sneered. “I bet his clothes are fulla maggots!”

“It’s too cold for maggots,” Ben snorted. “His clothes are thin. Wonder how the hell he stands bein’ out in the woods in weather like this.”

“We do it,” Bill muttered.

The recluse’s head jerked at the sound of his voice. The young man immediately snapped his mouth shut.

“Yeah, but we’re used to it! And younger’n he ever was!” John’s voice was purposefully loud and it carried the haughty tone that won him admiration from the other loggers. “He’s durn crazy, that’s why he don’t notice. All that time on your own turn you yaps, man?”

Tom’s head very slowly shifted towards them and Bill shuddered. There were days he’d survived the logging camp and the extreme conditions by willpower and prayer alone, all the while wondering in the back of his head what it would be like if he didn’t have even that. Looking at the vagrant, he knew.

Ben was cursing behind them. “I saw him not more than a month ago and he didn’t look like that. Solitary life don’t turn a man in that short a’ time! Maybe he’s got rabies or fever ‘n’ ague.”

Tom’s eyes sat so far back in his skull that it was impossible to tell what color they were, though they harbored a steady, unsettling gleam. They roved over the huddled group, searching hungrily for an easy mark. Bill’s heart plummeted to his boots when the hollow glitter locked onto him. He was suddenly as cold as he was when a seventh-year blizzard hit. All the frustrations and hell he’d endured since joining the logging team, all his good intentions and reasons, all that he was trying to move forward to swelled and jumbled together in a brief, howling wind of thought. The two distant stars in Tom’s eyes were the only thing that pegged him as a stable man in his otherwise rotting and dozy appearance.

All around the little group the saloon’s weekend life went on. The distant sound of swearing and dice clattering across the floor mixed with discordant harmonies and a half-hearted mouth organ. But in the area by the bar, all was muffled and still. It was like the snows had come without warning over the forest, smothering everything in their path with chilled silence. Bill shuddered and out of the corner of his eye he noticed Red do the same.

“You want I should knock his ears down, Red?” John’s bravado was the sudden yell that knocked the snow from the treetops, for good or ill. He had the relaxed look of a man who’d been in his cup just enough to throw caution to the wind. “I’ll toss him out and give ‘im a case of smallpox he won’t forget!”

“Leave be, John,” the barkeep muttered. His hand never stopped wiping down the bar and though his head was tilted down to his task, his eyes were set on their target across the room.

“What…what you want me to do for a drink?” At first it didn’t register that Tom had actually spoken. His voice was high and reedy and cracked the way the thinnest ice along the river did.

“Pardon?”

“What you want me to do for a drink?” His lips cracked when his mouth moved. A thin trail of spittle dripped off his lower lip and was quickly caught up by the tip of the derelict’s seeking tongue. The distant gleam in Tom’s eyes burned as his mouth formed the last word. Otherwise, it was hard to say how he’d made it into the saloon; he looked more than a little dim.

The rustle of skirts made Bill look behind him. Nancy had come around once more and was sliding her empty tray on the bar with more hesitation than usual. “Don’t you boys take the bait. Last time he came in here he swallowed a handful of live spiders. I’ve seen him gulp down tadpoles and minnows, too.”

“Why?” Bill breathed, though the word was a vague whisper in his own ears.

“The woods didn’t make him picky, that’s for certain,” Nancy muttered.

“I’ve seen him bite the heads off rodents, and even a chicken. The body still wriggled for a good minute after,” Red agreed. “When he says he’ll do anything, he means it.”

John’s rugged, dirty face lit like a beacon that was up to no good. “Will he now?”

The vagrant scratched himself somewhere under the skins and let himself be regarded by the knot of loggers.

“Whatever you’re planning to do, leave be!” Nancy hissed. “Red, can’t you just pour him somethin’?”

“If I do that for him I’ll end up startin’ a riot.”

“Then we’ll settle this like men,” John breezed, rolling up the sleeves of his mackinaw to show the lines of scars received as proof of his time on skid road. “So what, exactly, will you do for a shot of ol’ Red’s firewater, huh Tom?”

***

What, indeed, heh.

Also, feel free to check out some blog posts relating to horror and  Mooner that I’ve done lately.

A post talking about the different sorts of vampires that I like in fiction and film, with some recommendations is here 

A post talking about how family vacations, a love of vampires, and my love of history warped me for life can be found here

And, slightly related, I’m talking about being a woman and writing horror here

TCM Presents: Hero’s Best Friend

Published June 18, 2014 by admin

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I’m really happy to be a host for this book. I love interesting anthology topics, plus today’s post is by an author who is not only an up-and-coming talent, but a friend of mine! First, though, you know the rules! Let’s check out the book…

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How far would Gandalf have gotten without Shadowfax? Where would the Vault Dweller be without Dogmeat? And could the Beastmaster been the Beastmaster without his fuzzy allies? Animal companions are more than just sidekicks. Animals can be heroes, too!

Found within are twenty stories of heroic action that focuses on the furries and scalies who have long been the unsung heroes pulling their foolish human buddies out of the fire, and often at great sacrifice-from authors both established and new, including Frank Creed, S. H. Roddey, and Steven S. Long.

Whether you’re a fan of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Science Fiction, or just animal stories in general, this is the anthology for you!

So sit back, kick your feet up, and find out what it truly means to be the Hero’s Best Friend.

Featured in Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions:

Joy Ward: “Toby and Steve Save the World”

Frank Creed: “Dusk”

Cassie Schau: “The Hunter’s Boy”

Steven Donahue: “Grit”

Jason Cordova: “Hill 142”

Herika R. Raymer: “Dook”..

Essel Pratt: “Brothers”.

Lisa Hawkridge: “Ezra’s Girl”.

S. H. Roddey: “Look What the Cat Dragged In.”

Steven S. Long: “The Wolf Sentinel”

Laura Anne Ewald: “Memorandum”

Cindy Koepp: “The Hat”.

Ian Hunter: “Scarheid in the Glisting”.

Steven Grassie: “The Masterless”.

David Wright: “Wind of Change”

Renee Carter Hall: “The Emerald Mage”..

Nick Bryan: “The Violet Curse”..

Lillian Csernica & Kevin Andrew Murphy:

“The Restless Armadillo”.

Douglas J. Ogurek: “Stuck on the Squigglybounce”

Sheila Deeth: “Passage”

***

And now, check out Herika R. Raymer, author of “Dook”!

***

Hello, Herika R Raymer here. Lately I have been referring to myself as a “speculative fiction bookwright, because I hope to get a book right”. Play on words yes, but for whatever reason the term “bookwright” appeals to me. It would figure that it is supposed to be more of a joke than a real term. Still, I like it – so I am using it.

What do I write? Right now, short stories mostly. I am hoping to get a singular work out, or at least submitted, before the end of the year. Looking promising, but it will take work to have it ready by the self-inflicted deadline. Recently I was delighted to be informed that a short story of mine, “Dook”, had been selected for Scott Sandridge’s anthology Hero’s Best Friend. Knowing that the theme was about the unsung sidekicks of the spotlight figures, it was encouraging to know that my story – written about ferrets – had made the cut. Incidentally, that is where the title “Dook” comes from: it is their laughter.

Why did I think of ferrets? Well, I knew that the first animals to be submitted would be dogs and/or cats and I wanted to write about another four legged friend. Instantly I remembered a friend of mine, whose namesake I used with permission (Amber), who had ferrets. I recalled their play and their movements, the amusing noises they made, and some of the stories she told about them. Clever creatures, I decided to do a bit more research on them. The stories I read were adorable and hilarious, and all gave me the general idea I needed to mold the ferrets of my tail – er tale. Amber and her ferrets were the protagonists, now to just give them a villain to thwart. It was a short story, so I make the motivation to overcome relatively straightforward – greed.

Want to know more? Please feel free to read the story and find out who Amber and her clever companions are trying to outwit.

Herika R. Raymer grew up consuming books – first by eating them, later by reading them. Her mother taught her the value of focus and hard work while her father encouraged her love literature and art; so she has been writing and doodling off and on for over 30 years. After much encouragement, Mrs. Raymer finally published a few short stories and has developed a taste for it. She continues to send submissions, sometimes with success, and currently has a collection of stories in the works. She is the Assistant Editor for a science fiction magazine and Lead Editor for a horror magazine. A participant of the voluntary writer/artist/musician cooperative known as Imagicopter, Herika R. Raymer is married with two children and a dog in West Tennessee, USA.

Her website is at: herikarraymer.webs.com
Her Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Herika-R-Raymer-WriterEditor/218450834882572?ref=ts&fref=ts

ScottSandridge

About the editor: Scott M. Sandridge is a writer, editor, freedom fighter, and all-around trouble-maker. His latest works as an editor include the Seventh Star Press anthologies Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, and the two volumes of A Chimerical World, Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court.

 Twitter:

https://twitter.com/scottmsandridge

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/smsandwrites

Website/Blog:

http://smsand.wordpress.com

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5772749-scott-sandridge

 

 

Available Now: Devil’s Daughter by SH Roddey

Published June 11, 2014 by admin

SO stoked that this title is rereleased today! Not only that, but the author and my cohort in crime SH Roddey is going to be on The Star Chamber Show tonight!

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The Devil is a busy man.

Lydia St. Clair was seventeen when she made her first deal with The Devil. Now twenty-one years old and a professional bounty hunter, Lydia possesses a unique set of skills that make her valuable to Lucifer’s grand plans. In the four years since that fateful night she has come full-circle, and now her nemesis has come back to collect on that debt.

Unfortunately for Lydia, He has leverage that will leave her questioning her own humanity.

BUY IT HERE:

Amazon | Nook | Kobo

 

 

Kingdom City Guest Post: The Tribulations of a Modern Heroine by Nobody

Published May 30, 2014 by admin

And because she’s mad at me for trying to interview her without telling her what it was for the other day at Sheila Deeth’s blog, somebody wanted to get a word in for themselves. I mean Nobody did. Or…whatever. Apparently this is really bad advice week here on the blog.

Discretionary Note from SJ: Again, please don’t take this advice. She’s a weirdo. I don’t care if she looks cute and sweet. Just don’t. Seriously, do not trust this gal. The only reason I’ve allowed this to be posted is to show you what NOT to do and to have a chuckle. I hold NONE of these opinions and am, in fact, wondering why I let her write a post in the first place.

 

The Tribulations of a Modern Heroine

or

How to Seize Fate and Get What You Want and Still Look Cute and Fool Everybody

By Nobody, from Nowhere, Dauther of No One

 

There have been many arguments lately about whether a woman should be feminine and endearing, or assertive and progressive in this modern world. Should she stay at home or try to find work as a secretary or maid? Should she strive harder and become a lawyer, doctor, or CEO?

I must admit that I see the benefits in both sides. I have no desire to work, but in this modern era a girl must break her way out of her circumstances. Sometimes we must do things that seem disgusting or unseemingly to advance our position (like housework. Have you seen what happens to dishes? People EAT off of them!). However, there are benefits to these activities. You might gain favor or friendship and advance to another position, maybe even make your way into court if you are running errands and catch the eye of a squire or checkout boy with connections. You may be able to save your earnings and go to school so you can learn how to destroy the lives or condemn the buildings of your tormentors employers. Think of it: if you study and become a medical professional and the people who bothered you early in life come to you when sick, they never have to know that you’re giving them a rare plague in capsule form instead of medicine.

I chose to shoot higher, though. True, I’ve had a setback for the moment, but I cannot help but think it will benefit me in the long run. The true greats knew suffering: Cinderella, Snow White, that weirdo miller girl who was kidnapped by Rumplestiltskin in the movies (although I only saw up through part three). Forget the legacy of King Thadd and the equality of the present day. Sometimes the traditional ways are best. That is why I had no fear about leaving my small homeland, disguising myself, and taking a job as a maid for a foul creature. I do not fancy menial work, but many, many princesses suffered servitude before they were handed love, wealth, and glory. Besides, I did play my employment selection smart. After all, who likes trolls? Princes. Why? Because they kidnap cute girls and have treasure. So what did I need to do?

If you said get information on your employer while you are supposed to be working, feed it to all potential suitors, then encourage someone to murder my employer, well…I’m not technically allowed to say you are correct because of the court proceedings, but I’m not saying I’d rule it out as a possibility.

Whatever you do, though, play dumb until you make your move. Naivete is held high in girls and women, so don’t crush allusions by showing your manipulative, cunning side (though I like to think of it as my hard-working, decisive side). Play up your sweet side. Do not be afraid to act a little stupid so that you can bide your time and gather information. Flirtation and agreement are acceptable, as long as you do not get overly entangled in anything that prevents you from getting your way. Make sure you are put together well, for this serves as a sufficient screen for everyone in the outside world. If you are, in fact, tragic looking or of some creature-type descent, nothing I can say will help you. You should back out of the way and let those of us who have potential rule the realm  do our thing.

We all need our inspirations. If you admire your mother and friends who stayed home to raise their children, then do it! Be that beautiful mother. If you want to embrace your inner crone and dance around a pot and learn the ways of the universe while throwing herbs at people’s faces while reading palms or whatever it is they actually do out in the woods, then do that! Use that mystery to make everyone fear you and then steal their wallets when they run away from you in terror! If you want to raise up the career ladder to make everyone beneath you tremble at your corporate, high-slippered glory while you stomp on glass coffins or ceilings or whatever the phrase is, then go for it! If you want love, use whatever dating sites, whatever empty promises, whatever potions are at your disposal to net yourself the prince of your dreams! Just make sure he’s worth it – there are many out there who aren’t entirely honest on their online profiles. I know this for certain.

Because if you all do that, then I can attend to my true destiny.

After all, there may be many good women out there, and many effective princesses, but there can be only one PRINCESS. And if that means going back to the olde ways and summoning those that aided and terrorized the realm long before the days of Kingdom City, bringing about the end of the realm and a glorious new age…

Well that surely wouldn’t be anything I would ever do, but I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, either. After all, a real princess, a real heroine fights for what she believes in. If I believe in myself, what’s the harm in fighting for that?

All I’m really saying is that a woman should make up her mind and commit. Go after your Fate, your destiny. Write your own story. After all, it isn’t a question of being traditional or progressive, but rather, what do you need to do to get what you want.

Just make sure it’s not the same as mine, or we’re going to have some problems, you and I. And make no mistake, I have very Olde friends in very strange places.

Or I would if I was of the mind to.

***

Nobody is from Nowhere, The Land, and the Daughter of No One. Although this is her first time writing, she has agreed to interviews in the past, for better or worse. One of the more notorious citizens of Kingdom City after her relocation, she can also be found in the book Olde School, which is available in print, kindle, nook, and kobo. Nobody is currently a resident of The Towers maximum security dungeon, where she may or may not be awaiting trial and a subsequent tell-all book deal. Her pet cow is currently nowhere to be found.

 

TCM Presents: Awesome Jones by AshleyRose Sullivan

Published May 19, 2014 by admin

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Hello, blog tour time! Today I bring you Ms. AshleyRose Sullivan and her unique title, Awesome Jones! As per usual, before we talk to her, let’s take a look at the book!

 

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The only thing Awesome Jones wants is to be a super hero. Until he falls in love.

Despite his colorful name, Awesome Jones is a painfully average man who dreams of being a super hero, just like the ones who patrol his city. It’s been that way since he was a little boy, raised by his grandfather after his parents’ death.

The day Jones starts his new job as a file clerk at Akai Printing Company he meets secretary Lona Chang and everything changes. Lona sees something in Jones that no one ever has and the two quickly become inseparable. But when the perfect pair’s domestic bliss is threatened by a super-powered secret from the past, Awesome Jones has to make a choice. He must decide whether he should play it safe or find the strength to live up to his name and risk everything he’s come to love to save the day like he always dreamed.

***

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

ARS: You know, I’ve tried a lot of different approaches when it comes to the novel process but what works best for me is a combination of notes/outlines. I start with a general story idea and I buy a 9.5×6” notebook. For as long as I can, I take notes. Everything I come up with, everything I think about while reading stuff for research, maps of cities, layouts of houses, the way a characters’ clothes look–it all goes in this little notebook. I create horrendous story knots in this stage and then, as I progress, I try to untangle them. Once I feel like I have a real grasp of the story, I move to an outline. I start with simple bullet points. When that’s finished and I can “see” the story, I add little bits of extra stuff under each point until I have a pretty thorough outline that’s about 10-15 pages long. Then I start writing the book.

 SJ: Bonus question ­ Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

ARS: It’s hard to say whether any of this is actually quirky. It’s just the way I go about my writing life. I suppose it is a little strange that I sit on the floor when I write. I have a little floor desk and everything. Also I eat and drink constantly.

SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

ARS: My ideas come from everywhere. A lot of the time they’re a mishmash of other stuff. A kind of PB&J of whatever things I’m currently obsessed with. Some of my story ideas have come from an Audubon Magazine someone left at the gym, driving past a Civil War hospital every day for a year, making jokes about ridiculous names with my husband, and late night viewings of 1970s strongman competitions.

Oh man, I wish I’d made a shady deal with a dark power. Do you think that’s still possible? I feel like all this is way harder than it ought to be but I can’t really do anything else. Maybe I made a deal without knowing it…

SJ: bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp­tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?

ARS: I think my muse is pretty much a pocket-sized Bill Murray.

(SJ edit: Congrats, AshleyRose, you win at life with such a muse..) 

SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?

ARS: All of my stuff comes straight out of me. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and it smears on the page as I write. Awesome Jones is very important to me, I worked on it over a pretty long period of time (seven years) and it evolved and grew as I did. I vividly remember writing specific pieces of it into a notebook all those years ago and I (just as vividly) remember ripping a lot of that stuff out as I revised five or six years later.

Silver Tongue (my YA Alt-Hist fantasy novel) will be released by Seventh Star this fall and it also took its life from my own. Though, it was great fun (and much quicker) to write, it was important for me to write a book for my fifteen year old self.

Also, each of my short stories are cut straight out of me. I love writing in short form and, because my prose tends to be rather sparse, my style lends to that format.

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

ARS: Hmm. Well, all my stuff is genre-bending. Comic/prose/adult with crossover YA/superhero/fairy tale. Alternate History/Fantasy/YA. Can I just pick “Magical Realism”? I feel like that’s cheating.

 (SJ edit: As a magic realism advocate, I can assure you that no, it’s legal :D) 

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

ARS: There’s just never enough time. I’m not talking about deadlines or whatever. I just mean, there’s not enough time in the day or the week or a human lifespan to do all the stuff I want to do as a writer. I love reading stuff and watching stuff for research and I often wish I could stop time and just do those things and then stop time some more and write for ages without any interruption.

-A cliché? I can’t think of one. If I read a particular author often enough, their little tics will start to get on my nerves but I’m sure I have my own tics. If I can’t get into a book or a TV Show, because I don’t like the writing, I just stop reading/watching and move on to the next thing on my list. (Remember that “not enough time” thing I mentioned?)

 SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

ARS: Oh man, all my books/stories take place in ridiculous/dangerous worlds. But, I love the Awesome Jones world. Whether it’s Arc City, where the novel starts, or the more rural setting the book takes on later, I’d go.

 SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure­fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

ARS: I don’t think success itself compromises the art or the fun of it. I think its not uncommon for writers to get to a certain stage in their career where no one wants to edit them or tell them no. That can be dangerous. Writers (including me) often need to be saved from themselves. Of course, if a formula existed and it worked, I’d probably take it. I think “success” varies depending on who you ask but for me, it just means getting my work into the hands of people who will appreciate it. If I could make that happen with certainty, I’d do it.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

ARS: Ha! You know, if you want to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or even a rocket scientist and you work hard enough at it and you apply yourself and you’re willing to go into deep debt, you can do it. You can be a doctor or a lawyer or a rocket scientist. There’s a path to that. You know what the path is to being a successful writer? I don’t. You can work hard and you can apply yourself and you can go into deep debt and you can weather the storm of revision and rejection and late nights spent deleting what you thought (for too long) was an amazing idea. And you can do that for an entire lifetime and you still might not make it. So, my advice to anyone who says, “I think I could be a successful writer! Lemme just go churn out this novel.” Yeah, it does happen but seriously, don’t do this unless you can’t do anything else.

 SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

ARS: Well, I write speculative fiction I guess. That’s a pretty broad term that covers stuff like fantasy and scifi and magical realism and novels about superheroes. I also spent an entire year watching all of Star Trek. (All of it. Yes, even the Animated Series.) And, while I’ve always been a fan of this genre, it occurred to me while watching/writing about it how valid and even important it is to think outside our own reality. Speculative fiction presents us with an uncommon lens and through it we can see ourselves, our world, our history and our future in new ways. It strips away our biases by endowing us with the comforting notion that what we’re watching or reading is merely entertaining, maybe even silly. Once we let our guard down, though, we’re ripe for change. Speculative Fiction has been sowing the seeds of change and presenting us with alternate realities for as long as its been around.

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

ARS: That’s that geek girl, right? The one who writes and draws stuff and talks about Star Trek all the time.

 

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

ARS: Right now I’m working on the rest of the Awesome Jones series. Awesome and Lona’s story is a trilogy and, the way I work, I want everything to come together in a satisfying way. So, I’m essentially writing the next two books at once.

Also, this fall the first novel in my Alt-Hist YA series Silver Tongue is set to release and I’m super excited about it. I have an affinity for this trio of misfits and their adventure through Nouvelle France, up the Mississippi, and into New Britannia as they hunt down a group of mysterious murderers, is a fun (and dangerous) one. They meet all kinds of characters out of literature (Frankenstein) and history (PT Barnum) and get caught up in something much bigger than they’d ever dreamed. Claire, Phileas, and Sam were great fun to write and I can’t wait to work on the next one.

 

AshleyRose-AwesomeJonesPhoto

Born and raised in Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan has a BS in Anthropology and an MFA in Creative Writing. She lives, writes and paints in Los Angeles with her husband and their many imaginary friends.

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