Magazines & Anthologies
Rampant Loon Media LLC
Our Beloved Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Follow us on Facebook!


Read them free on Kindle Unlimited!





Blog Archive

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Critical Thinking: PPLD Mountain of Authors

PPLD Mountain of Authors

Once again I managed to make it to the one free writers’ conference in town. I think this is my fourth one. Amazing I keep getting word of it just in time and then having the Saturday free.

This week: the Paranormal Fiction Writers’ Panel. Next week the Publishing Panel. Week after that: something different. Jerry B. Jenkins was the keynote speaker, but his presentation didn’t lend itself well to a review. Although he had a pretty amusing story about Stephen King.

Paranormal Fiction Writers’ Panel

The writers were Mario Acevedo (Felix Gomez vampire-detective), Parker Blue (Fantasy, romance, paranormal), and Jeanne Stein (Anna Strong vampire chronicles). The interview is not verbatim unless it's in quotes. I can't type that fast. And please forgive the constant switching between first- and third-person.

Q: What was your journey to your first publication?

MA: From first thought to book sale took 17 years. Tried literary to men’s hard-boiled fiction; six manuscripts didn’t sell. Wrote the most ridiculous thing he could come up with (The Nymphos of Rocky Flats) and that sold.

PB: hard time in life, wanted to write something that could help other people. Loved romance, SF, & fantasy; new genre ('91) called futuristic romance. Two years to write, sold it right away to junior editor who loved it.

JS: Wrote for 5-10 years but didn’t learn how to write until she joined a crit group and learned the craft. Believes anyone can write a book if they believe in themselves, have a story, and never give up. Publishing is luck. She got printed with a small press but wanted to get the attention with NY publisher. She sent a copy of the book as an intro to an agent who had just gone to a lunch and realized he needed a new vampire series.

Q: What books do you like to read, and what are your influences?

PB: Started with romance, futuristic romance, SF. Now urban fantasy. Mystery, romantic comedy.

Has been with same crit group for 20 years which was key to publication.

JS: Rosemary’s Baby—contemporary, so you could identify with it. Human elements of Rosemary's Baby are so real that the fantastical was easy to slide into. Interview With a Vampire—first vamp book that sucked her in. Joss Whedon for character development, story arcs, “I just cannot believe that they cancelled Firefly.”

MA: Didn’t like vampires or vampire movies. Why not just blow them up with dynamite? Hard-boiled mystery stories. People who get into problems so deep it’s one step away from killing somebody. Has since become friends with writers of urban fantasy who write good books. Recently enjoyed Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Q: What are the mythological rules of your fantasy creatures?

PB: Vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters. Started with basic vamp mythos but couldn’t have a creature of the night living in San Diego, so they have adapted to sunlight and aren’t really identifiable. But stuck with the mythos that they absolutely needed human blood to survive. You can make any rule you like, but you have to explain it and stick to it. You’re locked in to whatever you decided early on.

Q: Do your readers challenge your mythology?

PB: At beginning, yes. Readers didn’t like vampires in sunlight. Doesn’t happen anymore.

JS: Half-demon vampire slayer. Did explain rules (silver burns, garlic smells like good cooking). Part-demons try to get along with werewolves. Protagonist is part succubus and tries to channel lust by killing vampires. Vampires become more of what they were when they were living—so if they were noble humans, they’ll be more noble vamps.

MA: Realistic—vampires need jobs. Took some things from history of vampire books and integrated it into story.

Q: Where did you find out about the history of the creatures?

All: Books. Bram Stoker.

Q: How do you define urban fantasy?

JS: Usually a kick-ass heroine—different than a bad-ass heroine. Contemporary with twists. No happily ever after. Usually a love interest, but not permanent—excuse to write sex because people tend to want sex in fantasy. Hard-edges. Mystery thread. Endings aren’t dark, just not perfect.

Q: How do you approach topics differently when writing for adults vs. YA?

PB: Wrote a paranormal romance, sold as a paranormal romance, publisher needed more sex. She didn’t want to add sex. Contract removed. Simplified it and shortened it, lowered age of protagonist, released it as “New Adult”—edgier YA (17-20 yo). New Adult: no explicit sex, can still be smart and snarky, but protagonist isn’t as experienced.

Q: Are men your primary audience?

MA: Other than he has a male protagonist, doesn’t see that much difference. Although women writers write with more depth re: relationships.

Q: What is “bad-ass”?

JS: A bad-ass is somebody that is antagonist toward everything. Kick-ass is a female who can take care of herself and doesn’t need a hero to take care of her, but takes care of those she cares about.

Q: Have you ever had a paranormal experience.

JS: Not really. Just feelings around places or person where the hair sticks up.

PB: Doesn’t know if it was paranormal or odd. Paranormal writers’ conference, rooming with someone she’d only known online. Felt someone kneel on her bed and put their arms around her. Her roommate told her it was one of her Native American guides—“He really likes you.” Then had a dream and asked roommate to tell him to leave her alone. But she did get a book out of it.

MA: Friend moved in 8th grade. Four years later, saw her at a distance and both knew each other at a very long distance. In high school, the Thunderbirds were there in New Mexico. F-4 on static display. Every time he got close to the F-4, cold air surrounded him. Later in air show, two F-4s collided (pilots ejected safely).

Q: How has your military background factored into your novels?

MA: Protagonist was a sergeant in the Army. A lot of military fiction gets into guns and stuff, but most of that is written by people who have never been in military. Writes more immediate—heat and dust and nobility and leadership responsibilities. Carries guilt of troops he lost in Iraq war. Also very cynical and sarcastic.

Q: Advice for writers of paranormal fiction specifically.

JS: Read. Read the genre you want to write. There’s always the next new idea you may have, but know market you’re aiming for.

PB: Don’t just look at what’s current, but start your own trend. Current trend may have passed. Try to concentrate your books on a narrow aspect of paranormal. Not witches, dragons, elves, and everything all at once; the story will get too diffused and difficult to follow. If you keep it tighter, it’ll be easier to keep your rules straight.

Q: How do you research the book so it goes into the right slot at a publisher?

PB: Publishers’ websites, conferences in genre, read. Read what the publisher puts out.

MA: Read in the genre; have faith in your story. It was thought Anne Rice had wrapped up vampires forever. Write what you really want to write. Don’t get pressured into writing what you don’t want to write.

PB: Write what you love, not to the market. She wrote hers because Angel went off the air, and Joss wasn’t writing anymore.

Q: Who has control over what you write—you or the publisher?

PB: She writes the whole thing. May send a synopsis and they may come back and say they want changes. She’ll fight for what she wants, but also trusts her editor’s judgment.

Q: What are the taboo topics in YA?

PB: Varies according to publisher. Some want edgy. Some don’t. Some don’t want on-screen sex, others do.

MA: Some want edgy—pushing the boundaries of what society says is off-limits—drugs alcohol—

PB: Cutting, teen pregnancy, incest…my books are lighter. They have edges, but also humor.

Q: MA and PB have a lot of humor. Do you, JS?

JS: I try, but it’s hard. I can do sarcasm, but WC Fields said, “Dying is easy; comedy is hard.”

PB: If you can’t do it, don’t. It’ll look forced.

Q: Do any of you believe in vampires?

JS: The older I get, the more it appeals to me.

PB: There are people who think they are.

JS: Psychic vampires who suck the energy out of you.

Q: What is “hard-boiled”?

MA: Rough language, intense emotion—

JS: On-screen violence and action. “Cozy,” violence is off-screen, but hard-boiled is all there in front of you.

MA: Watches autopsies. Gruesome research.

Q: How do you develop your story lines?

JS: Know beginning and end. A lot of the middle occurs organically while she’s writing. Not a detailed plotter, but wishes she was because she gets into trouble and gets off-track. Wishes she could be an outliner.

PB: “I’m an engineer.” Outline. Debra Dixon. “Writing Fiction Synopsis”—book she wrote about writing. Skeleton frees her up to write. Sometimes it changes, but the structure is there.

MA: “I’m a recovering engineer.” Mid-way between outlining and a seat of the pants writer. Having a contract changes things because you don’t have time to fart around. Sometimes an outline sucks the life out of a story. But listing main points leaves room for creativity. But more creativity does mean more revisions.

PB: There is no one way that’s right. Experience what works for you.

Q: How often do you publish? How long does it take to write a book?

MA: The first book is usually written, but a year out. Nymphos took 2 ½ years. Second took 18 months. Third took 11 months. Then it’s all over-lapping deadlines of next book and copy-edits and whatnot. Have to stay on top of it.

PB: New book about every 10 months (and works full time as structural engineer), also has a romance short story coming out. About 16 months for a new book. World-creating takes a long time, so subsequent books are quicker. Alternate book and short story.

JS: 1 & 2 done, 3 almost done, but publisher wanted new books every six months. #4 was rough because she really didn’t have the time. Once you’re published and have deadlines, you can’t have the luxury of writer's block. Writes full-time. Treat it like a business—so many words a day, five days a week. Now on a yearly publishing schedule.

Kersley Fitzgerald is quietly freaking out. Yesterday was Maj Tom's last day at work in the Air Force. He is now on terminal leave. Kersley Fitzgerald plans on completely freaking out later.

PS: Happy Birthday
blog comments powered by Disqus