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A Blog Tour for Works in Progress? Neat!

I was invited to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Tour by the very wonderful Luciana Cavallaro. Luciana is author of the novels The Legacy and The Inheritors (book one and two respectively) and two short stories, The Curse of Troy and Aphrodite’s Curse. Aphrodite’s Curse is already published on Amazon and Smashwords.com while The Curse of Troy is set to be available on both in January. Check out her blog and answers at: http://luccav.com/

  1. What is the working title of your book?

Future Memories: Prelude (the first of a two book set) and Once Upon a Time.

2) Where did the idea come from for your book?

Ideas generally come to me during random times in random places (I suspect the same is true for most fiction writers), though I can’t pinpoint the exact moment or idea that sparked either novel. I had images from uncreated chapters and conversations between nameless characters playing out in my head that followed me to the shower, on my drive home from work, when I closed my eyes to sleep, and even when looking at a pile of dirty laundry. I began writing both books simply to get these mindscapes into some tangible form beyond my head. The thought of those same scenes and conversations accumulating into novels was more of a slow realization as the typed-up paragraphs transcribed from my scribblings began turning into pages and chapters.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Both fit comfortably under the umbrella genre of Speculative Fiction. Once has more of a fantasy flavor while FM is much more straight science fiction. FM is actually geared in the direction of being a Christian Speculative Fiction novel (I’m not making that word up, that is a real genre), but only one of the main characters distinctly holds a Christian world view.

4) Which actors would you choose to play in your movie rendition?

In the movie rendition? Ooooohhhh, wowzers – that would be very cool but no clue. That being said, there’s been at least one instance when I’ve passed by someone in the grocery store or whatnot and marveled at how much they looked like what I envision a particular character to look like. Unfortunately, going up to a complete stranger and telling them they happen to share a remarkable resemblance to someone in a story you’re writing is not likely the best way to make new friends so I restrained myself from telling them so.

5) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Future Memories: Prelude: One man begins life over, another attempts to evade love, while a third tries to uphold faith in humanity and God despite technology possessing all trust.

Once Upon a Time: A band of heroes that includes vampires and zombies tries to save their world from the real monsters.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Once will definitely be self-pub but the hopeful goal of FM is to go the traditional route.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

This is actually more than a little embarrassing for both.

For Future Memories, the very first formation of scenes involving some of the main characters were scribbled on pieces of paper back in 2006. Then begin the unfortunate trend of a very erratic and unproductive schedule. I might type a paragraph, not touch the story again for another month or two, type up a completely unrelated scene, leave the “manuscript” alone again for about four months, come back, etc. I would not recommend this writing process to anyone actually hoping to complete a novel but, as I said, that wasn’t the intention when I first put pen to paper. The very first draft was very different from the current version (which all first drafts should be).

For the character Jared in particular, I’m actually grateful there has been so much time from the first paragraph I wrote involving him to now. Jared was born with Down syndrome and, due to the state of things on Earth in the story, forced to have an intelligence implant as a result. When we first meet him, he’s essentially a genius. Without giving too much away, this implant is no longer operative during the majority of the second book and he must rely on his natural abilities and wisdom (his God-given abilities versus what was artificially available). When I first wrote how Jared spoke and acted in the former case, I had no experience with any sort of cognitive disability, much less Down syndrome. Even though I researched the condition in attempt to present an accurate representation, I failed. Common sense would dictate, “Well, okay then, don’t give your character a particular characteristic that you know little to nothing about.” However, this was one of those rare instances when my characters just weren’t going to give me much say in the matter. As fate would have it, I later fell into the human services field and began working at nonprofits that provide vocational support to individuals with disabilities. As I worked with and got to know people who actually have Down syndrome, I realized how unintentionally stereotypical I’d made Jared. As shameful as the almost seven years span of time is, time turned out to be a needed ingredient to the novel as a whole – much like the difference between cooking some chili for a couple hours and letting it simmer all day on the stove.

For Once Upon a Time, the beginnings actually go back even further because I remember typing up the first story scribbles while sitting on the floor of my first apartment (I didn’t’ own a chair and the computer resided on a makeshift table at the time), which places that starting point around 2003 or early 2004. Like FM, those initial first scenes and character conversations were quite different from what exists now. Unlike FM, there was a much longer hiatus from those first bits and pieces of a story and it’s only been within the past year that I finally sat back down and really started making it into a cohesive manuscript.

8) What other books would you compare this story to?

Future Memories: Prelude: Perhaps the best description would be Flowers for Algernon meets Winterflight. If it’s okay to include a movie, there’s a little hint of Alien Nation in the mix also.

Once Upon a Time: It’s like a Grimms’ fairy tale with a bit more quirk than grim. The only book that immediately comes to mind for comparison is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

9) Who or what inspired you to write the book?

Largely, this is the same answer as #2.

10) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

For Future Memories: Prelude: When my husband read the first draft, he teased me for having a few undesired similarities to the show Futurama. Even though waves of editing have eradicated most of these, the novel will probably still be a hit with any Futurama fan. Hey, it’s set in the future, there’s aliens, space travel, robots, and technological marvels galore (but, alas, no Jamaican bureaucrats). The second novel that continues the story will have many of the same characters but also include a love story a la Romeo and Juliet for any romantics out there.

For Once Upon a Time: While the blog posts have been (and will continue to be) more on the humorous side of dark humor, another version is planned that will include more serious themes.

The questions I’ve answered above are meant to be forwarded on to other interested writers, allowing the blog tour to continue on. I was admittedly a little late in realizing the chain effect and even later in contacting other folks to gauge their interest in participating. With the hectic craziness that comes with this being a week sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s, I’m not certain how quickly I will be getting responses. However, I would like to include links to a few writers here. These people may or may not wish to do the interview thing but take a looksie at their site either way!

William Stadler

Mickey Baumer

Ross Gale

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Very Inspiring Blogger Award = Very Awesome Readers

And now for something completely different…

Warm fuzzies sprouted out of blog land when, lo and behold, I learned my humble home here on WordPress was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Warm fuzzies and confusion. Inspiring? Me? Here? Really?

Nominated is a bit misleading as the word gives way to images of a celebrity standing at a podium with a sealed envelope. At least in my head anyway.  But while there’s no drum roll or baited breath being held, who doesn’t like awards and something pretty to put up? 

Many thanks to Luciana Cavallaro of Eternal Atlantis for the award! Please do visit her bloggy blog at http://luccav.com/   She is a writer who spins tales with powerful characters,  including the Olympian gods themselves.

Rules:  [Okay as a side note, I will not be following these rules exactly because doing step 4 as stated feels a little chain maily to me. That being said, there’s no threat of something dire happening if the rules aren’t followed so that eliminates enough of the chain mail vibe for me to loosely follow the others]:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you: I did this already – but I’ll do it again because,  Luciana, you’re that awesome. Except this time I’m linking to your books page because people should go there: http://luccav.com/books/
  2. Post the award image to your page.  Done, just scroll up a bit.
  3. Tell 7 facts about yourself.
  • I’m five-foot but sadly not bulletproof (though my driver’s license says I’m five-foot-one).
  • My car radio is  just as likely to jam out to Jeremy Camp and Jars of Clay as it is Pitbull or Linkin Park.  When it’s indecisive, it chooses Skillet (never heard of ’em? Try this song “Awake and Alive”.)
  • On the topic of music, my characters often come up with their own theme songs. I have no say in the matter and while it rarely affects the story they’re in, I end up thinking about them every time the song comes on. Sylvia’s is “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry.
  • I have three wonderful cat daughters but will always be a dog person at heart (sorry lovies!).
  • I generally hate to cook but am an avid fan of eating. Fortunately my husband both can and actually enjoys cooking – otherwise there would be a lot more fast food in our diet.
  • I was born, raised, and still live in North Carolina. I’ve pretty much yoo-yooed my way from the middle (Pittsboro), to a little further north (Greensboro), to the upper northern part (Reidsville), shooting down to the southern end (Charlotte), and then plopping smack dab in the middle again (Raleigh).
  • I actually get freaked out pretty easily when it comes to seeing zombies in movies or on TV (which is probably one reason Seth immediately became a friendly, fish-eating zombie when he hobbled into creation).

4.   Nominate 15 other blogs.  No.  My Favorite Places in Blog Land on the side tab has a plethora of blogs worth a looksie and I would basically just end up re-posting most of them here.

Instead, I have another award, one I would like to give you dear readers. Many thanks again to everyone tagging along for the story!:


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Stories by Obmuj – something apparently quite erotic

One of the fairly new features I like about WordPress is being able to view visitor stats by country. Naturally most folks dropping by are from here in the United States and I take all “views” with a grain of salt. I’m certain some of the more obscure locations are likely spammers on the prowl who’ve stumbled upon me.

But then sometimes, there’s just a healthy dose of random.

I took a peek at my stats and found someone from Sweden graced my blog’s welcome mat yesterday. Sweden? Sweden? What in the world would bring someone from Sweden to my bloggy blog? Then I glanced at the Search Engine Terms to see if my new Swedish friend found me by accident. Yep. The poor fellow typed in “Stories by Obmuj” and performed a word search using Yahoo!.  I’m not entirely sure if this person was hunting for stories written by their friend (presumably Obmuj) or if there happens to be a lovely film by that name. I am willing to bet they were not planning to land on a blog in which Obmuj is an adorable pet monkey. My apologies, dear visitor from Sweden.

Now of course my curiosity was piqued. Just where does my blog show up when some random person types in “Stories by Obmuj?”  So I typed the three mighty words and decided to do a Yahoo! search of my own.  I felt a little dirty afterwards. Aside from the first five selections, here’s the middle of the page from my search results:

  1. I wonder what he’d think if he knew that I wrote this story with him in mind. (MMF, wife-sharing, intr, cuck) 4/21/2001 Minister’s Cheating Wife By Obmuj – She was the …
    www.freesexstoriespictures.com/m.htm – Cached
  2. juliehhicks | Personal Reflections, Random Enlightenment, and …

    … chide me for the fact that there are going to be D&Desque elements to the storyObmuj emitted another whimper and Sylvia suddenly felt two furry arms wrapping around …
  3. Story Erotic Stories
    I wonder what he’d think if he knew that I wrote this story with him in mind. (MMF, wife-sharing, intr, cuck) Minister’s Cheating Wife By Obmuj – She was the pure woman …
    www.erotic-sex-story.com/story-erotic.htm – Cached

Yep.  I’m right between free sex stories and erotic sex stories (this also seems to be the same story so why not make it free erotic sex stories people?).  I decided to give Google a try. While a search through that engine did not reveal my blog anywhere, there were more then a few suggested links for AskJolene.com, which according to the tag lines, is the world’s biggest porn story archive. Oh my.  I’m okay that my blog did not show up anywhere there. Really, really okay.

What have I learned from this? First, do not attempt an Internet search for “Stories by Obmuj” unless I want to possibly venture someplace questionable for both my innocent mind and my computer’s antivirus software.  Second, that Obmuj must be a dirty little fiend.

Bad monkey, BAD!

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Writing versus Life – sometimes life wins

It seems the ongoing journey of Sylvia and her friends just couldn’t compete with a weekend chock full of my own adventures this time.  I’ve managed to transform our mighty 6ft fake tree into one decked out for the season, chowed down on foodage at a potluck, and did numerous other things that have made these past two days speed by at lightning speed. One of those things was not writing more for the current chapter or much of anything for that matter.

And that’s okay. Amongst all the hustle and bustle, two realizatons came to me.

The first: Writing out these past few chapters as blog entries has been a great motivator and I’m thrilled to see the story finally coming along. But there’s also something to be said for letting the creative juices to simmer a bit.  While the draft developing isn’t half bad, what I’m craving to write is chili that’s been cooking for several hours until it’s just right. What I have so far is the story equivalent of a frozen pizza; it tastes good but the cheese is mostly on one side and the pepperoni needs to be rearranged. You wouldn’t know from reading this that tonight was actually the night I gorged on a plethora of  home-cooked yummys.

Second: There are other folks who have started (or completed) stories as blog entries that I’ve been following. The one who recently finished their work is also someone who’s blog I didn’t discover until they were already nearing the finish line. Needless to say, I’m still playing catch up and it seems like a rather daunting task.  Granted, my Once is only in its 6th chapter, but there’s quite a few more to go. And what of the person who happens to stumble here when Sylvia and Obmuj near their own The End?

So, my answer to those dilemmas is one that is both certain and not. The certainty is that Sylvia will take a break from her travels during this busy and sometimes sanity testing season. The uncertainty arises when looking ahead to after New Year’s Day rings in a farewell to all things holiday. For I am thinking now that it may be better for the continuation of her story to be done outside the realm of blog land. Not that entries from her author will cease entirely, but she and her friends will certainly be taking themselves a much needed break. Perhaps even Obmuj will be able to find the time now to adorn a tree with festive happiness.

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 6.2

V leaned in toward the man at the front desk. “How much for a few rooms tonight, friend?”

Their friend, however, seemed more concerned with continuing to read a book he’d grabbed from the desk’s edge than attending to his potential customers. “Don’t rent out to vampires,” he said with a grunt, tearing the page out he just finished reading. Judging from the haphazard pile of pages Sylvia now noticed littering the top of the desk, he was at least past the first chapter.

“It looks like your novel there is getting a double life as decoration,” joked V, eying the desk’s unique covering.

“Didn’t like how it started.” The man added another torn page to the collection.

V watched the page fall down. “You’re a fast reader.”

The man became motionless aside from his eyes, which raised up only to glare at him. Small talk was clearly not the way to win this fellow over.

“Four rooms.” V held his fingers up, wiggling the digits. “Three for myself and the other two law-abiding gentlemen and one for the young lady.”

“I don’t rent rooms to vampires!” the man bellowed back.

“Two of us aren’t.” V pointed back and forth between Sylvia and Bastiick. She felt as though she were suddenly part of a two for one deal at an auction.

The man’s attention to her paled in comparison to the inspection he gave Bastiick. Finally setting the book down, he leaned in closer to peer at him, causing the desk to groan in agony. His head made a slow revolve to the WANTED poster tacked to the wall adjacent to the desk. “You’re all law-abiding citizens, eh?”

Deigen let out a long sigh and elbowed the toe-headed member of the group. “Some of us more than others perhaps.”

Sylvia stared at Bastiick. “You’re a wanted criminal?”

“Well, he’s not a vampire,” said V. He turned back to the over-sized front desk attendant. “And the rest of us aren’t criminals.”

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 6.1

Once again Sylvia found herself being led into a smelly building with questionable occupants. This time, however, the stench was less attributed to spilled ale and more due to the occupants themselves. A burly man with a body that appeared too small for his arm muscles leaned against a rickety front desk. He wore a beige shirt which was likely white at one point given the garment’s spotted color variances. Besides the desk, there was only a staircase leading up to the left, a darkened hallway taking an unknown path to the right, and a single wooden table tucked away in the left corner near the door. The table appeared similar to ones from the tavern, though it was hard to tell given that it was partially obscured by someone sleeping on top of it. The snoring lump lay entirely covered by their cloak aside from a greasy mop of brown hair that trailed off the table’s edge. Sylvia made the mistake of deciding to inspect the floor as well and took an immediate step back as a cockroach large enough to saddle and ride scurried past, disappearing under the desk.

This is your idea of a safe haven?” she asked, scooping Obmuj in her arms to keep him from chasing after the runaway insect snack.

V shrugged, casually making his way toward the front desk. He took a wide step forward to avoid stepping in the puddle of an unidentifiable stain. Sylvia hoped it was only her imagination the sludge appeared to follow his boot when it passed over. The vampire looked around the room nonchalantly, his eyes seeming to escape notice of the dingy paint peeling off the walls and the fact that the main light source was a chandelier with only one candle lit, hanging crooked from a ceiling that threatened to loose the battle in holding it any minute. Leaning against the desk, he gave a nod of approval. “I’ve stayed in worse.”

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Once Upon a Time – Chap. 5.3

For someone who claims to be a magician, you seem to know fairly little about your predecessors.” V spoke like a disapproving father.

“Not all magicians wreck havoc on people’s lives,” argued Sylvia. “In fact, most travel from village to village and use their skills to help others. There was one that stayed with my family for about a week. Everyday after breakfast, he taught me a new spell like how to make water instantly hot without using fire.”

“So he took up free lodging, ate your family’s food and encouraged you to be a lazy child.” V and his horse managed to snort at the same time. “Yes, that sounds quite helpful.”

“He assisted my parents with the daily chores while he stayed and left me a spell book to practice with.” Sylvia stuck her chin up. “I think you simply have the same fallacious opinion about magicians that most have about vampires.”

“And I think you are too young and unwise for us to have a reasonable discussion on the matter.” V stared ahead of him and said nothing afterwards. Sylvia wasn’t certain whether the vampire was deep in thought or pretending to ignore her. She was nearly convinced of the latter until he randomly spoke to the air in front of him. “Did the visiting magician leave you with the pendant you carry?”

Sylvia wrinkled her nose, remembering how she found the pendant lying on the kitchen floor. “I’m not sure.”

“Not sure?” Deigen repeated, bringing his horse up to the side of the cart again. “How can you not be sure?”

“Well, I sort of found it after he left.” She took a peek at the black stone as though it would share its mysteries with her. “And I was going to just hold on to it until he came back. Except he’s been gone for over a month and now everyone has disappeared from my village.” Sylvia looked up to find all eyes on her.

“Disappeared?” asked Bastiick. “Where did they go?”

“Well if I knew, I wouldn’t have just said they disappeared now would I?” Sylvia rolled her eyes at him. “The only thing I found when I got home was a letter from my mother telling me some woman came looking for me. The letter told me to go see my uncle because she thought I would be safer with him.”

V turned his head to face her and raised his hand, counting off on his fingers. “A stranger leaves a trinket worth some possible value behind. They oddly neglect to return for it. A month later everyone in your village vanishes and your missing parents warn that someone was looking for you.” The vampire directed his horse to the right, snatching the reins out of Sylvia’s hand and leading her mule along.

“Hey, where are you going!” yelled Sylvia, trying to grab her reins back. “You’re taking us off the road!”

“Exactly.” V hopped off his horse and pointed at a stone building in front of them, lantern light streaming out of its many windows. “This is one of the last inns available to us before leaving town limits and will be where we stay tonight. You have someone hunting for either you or that pendant and we will not be dealing with them in the dark. We’ll sleep here and continue in the morning.”

“In the morning?” Sylvia wagged her finger between the two vampires. “You can’t travel in the morning.”

Deigen slid off his horse, sharing her look of confusion. “Why not?”

“You’re vampires, don’t you turn into ash or burst into flames in broad daylight?”

Another round of chuckles emitting from Bastiick alerted Sylvia that she must have been the victim of yet another vampire misconception he shared in the creation of.

“No dear.” V cupped a pale hand over his forehead as though her ignorance were causing physical pain by this point. “We walk in daylight just the same as moonlight. Careful on a full moon, however, we turn into werewolves.”

“Really?” Sylvia asked excitedly, happy to have at least one supernatural element of the world understood.

Deigen and V turned to her and shouted in unison. “No!”

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